Carnival, what are you thinking?

Posted on by in Editorial Musings

Every now and then, it seems that an utterly ridiculous policy is enacted in the travel world. Usually, when you see them, the Transportation Security Agency (TSA) or the airlines have their fingerprints all over them.  But this past week, we discovered a doozie of a ridiculous policy at the hands of Carnival Cruise Lines.

Under the guise of maintaining a safe experience on board, Carnival is now (as of today) requiring all luggage to be unlocked and accessible so the porters can search for anything deemed “contraband” by Carnival. The following was sent to agencies this week for sailings beginning today!

SECURITY SCREENING AND PROHIBITED ITEMS POLICY

In order to maintain a safe and secure environment, Carnival prohibits certain items onboard, i.e., weapons, candles, irons, alcohol, or other dangerous goods. According to our policy, Carnival conducts security scanning of all luggage and if prohibited items are found, they will be removed and stored for safekeeping until the end of the voyage. Retained item(s) will be delivered to the guest’s stateroom on the last night of their cruise. Unsealed liquids that are prohibited will be discarded, as well as any unclaimed items left after the voyage, and no compensation will be given in either case.

IMPORTANT – All luggage must be unlocked before being turned over to the porters in order to avoid any inconvenience or delay in delivering the luggage to the guest’s stateroom.

For additional information, please refer to the terms and conditions located in our cruise ticket contract and related FAQs on Carnival.com.

This policy will now be strictly enforced effective with January 30th sailings of all of our Miami ships, with the rest of the fleet to follow shortly thereafter. We kindly request your assistance in making sure your clients are aware of this policy so they can be properly prepared once they arrive at the port for their cruise departure.

But is this about security and safety? Or is it a method to make sure that passengers are not bringing any alcohol on board. As we all know, alcohol sales are one of the top moneymakers on a cruise. And if anyone familiar with Cruise Critic knows, most of the Carnival loyalists routinely share stories on how to best smuggle booze on board. But does it stop at booze?

On top of that, there are many unanswered questions. Who is legally responsible for the porters? Are they Carnival employees? Are the contract laborers? Who is supervising the now required unlocked luggage? How will Carnival notify passengers? What policies does Carnival have in place to handle theft? The cruise lines are quick to disclaim liability for luggage in the hands of the porters—now they are demanding that our clients leave luggage unlocked?

In today’s security conscious environment, this is a foolish policy at best. What reasonable passenger would knowingly give an unlocked suitcase to a pier porter? Savvy travelers don’t do it in airports and use a TSA approved lock. The TSA even leaves a love note when they snoop through your belongings. There is no mention of this with Carnival’s new policy.

How does the travel professional break this news to the client? “Oh, and by the way, when the porter at the pier takes the luggage containing all of your needs for the week, please make sure it is unlocked as Carnival Cruise Lines now requires that they use the six hours or so they hold your luggage to rifle through it.” Come on Carnival, you can do a lot better than that.

But don’t take my word for it. Several other travel professionals spoke out as well in a forum:

  • I would not have an issue with this if the porters were employees of Carnival or if they were employed by a security agency. Most of them are day laborers and this essentially gives them a license to steal!
  • I believe they are union stevedores and not day laborers. CCL just want the bags unlocked to look for booze, with the cruise prices down, the cheap cruisers are not purchasing onboard drinks and CCL is looking to stop the free drinking.
  • There’s no way I’m leaving a bag unlocked. Not for TSA, not for porters that will have a license to steal. You want to search my bag, fine. Ask me and I’ll open it, or break the lock if you have a good reason.
  • I wouldn’t give my bag to someone I don’t know unlocked at the pier…..I think this makes more of a security issue than looking for lousy booze…
  • Sure I’ll turn my unlocked bag over to you – just have someone in authority with CCL sign this Waiver accepting responsibility and indicating that I will be offered immediate compensation in the amount of $XXX will on board. They have got to be kidding!
  • I was complacent about it earlier but then it hit me that the ship also sells a lot of other items in their shops that people might bring aboard from home. Aspirin, stamps, swimwear, cameras and film, jewelry, etc.

We sent an email to Jennifer De La Cruz in Carnival’s Public Relations office for some answers to our concerns. According to Jennifer, “Checked luggage is given to the porters in front of the cruise terminal. From there the bags are screened by third party trained security professionals working on behalf of the cruise line and transferred onto the vessel.  Between the point they are handed to porters, screened and loaded onto the ships, they are held in cages and security is provided in the form of roving patrols by third party security professionals. Also, there is typically a significant law enforcement presence from various local and federal agencies in and around the dock area in general during a ship turnaround.  Once bags are on the vessel, they are under the supervision of our shipboard security personnel.”

She did not address the addition of the “baggage must be unlocked” provision other than to say the policy is not new and that Carnival is taking steps to more strictly enforce it.

Somehow, I am not convinced, and I am not sure I will have an easy time convincing my clients!  Carnival, you need to rethink this revised policy. What do you think? Are you comfortable turning unlocked luggage over to the porters at a pier?

  20 thoughts on “Carnival, what are you thinking?

  1. 1kenagain says:

    I have been selling carnival for over twenty three years and guess what that will be stopping shortly. There is no way I would leave my bag open for the porters and whonever walks by nor will I tell my clients too. I will book them on ncl or any other line but never again Carnival.Tis is giving free license to the people handling the bags to go through and get some nice watches and cameras. This has to be the stupidest idea I have ever heard in the business. Good bye to any more carnival.

  2. 1Jerry Vaughn says:

    Carnival seems to suffering from a serious dose of “POGO Syndrome” lately. “We have met the enemy and he is us!”

  3. 1Kermit Duhon says:

    My worry is that unlocked bags will be oustide of cabins while thousands of other pasengers go past them. Not smart.

  4. 1John Frenaye says:

    That is something I had not thought of. In the end, bags are usually put in by the stewards, but until they do that, they are ripe for anyone. I call dibs on the Louis Vuitton ones!

  5. Have been a travel agent for more than 30 years, and this is a ridiculous situation. Has Carnival freaked out with “security” . We all are aware of the changes in our industry,not for the benefits of the travel agents, but for the means of raising more revenue for the cruise lines…I certainly would not sell Carnival under the circumstances that now prevail..I just had a group on Carnival for New Years..And if they brought a bottle of liquor aboard, in their luggage,so what… I am glad they could afford the cruise, and pay the “holiday” prices..We travel agents are the ones who are not gaining a thing…We get shut out on commissions, with the “NCF”, gvt fees and taxes, etc charges that we pass on to the clients, and now they must leave their luggage unlocked…NO WAY, Carnival…

  6. 1John Frenaye says:

    It does seem that Carnival in particular (and to a lesser extent their sister brands) are making some strange new rules. This comes on the heels of the “you are not allowed to use Carnival’s keywords to bid on ads for search engine placement”

  7. Yes, this is one of the most idiotic policies ever and OF COURSE it’s to fend off would-be alcohol smugglers. I’d like to think that our level of clientele is beyond booze-smuggling, but I’m sure the bottom-feeders do it all the time…No way will I tell clents to unlock their luggage…While the locks can easily be picked, at least there is that one small level of protection…Of course, you NEVER put valuables in your checked bags in ANY situation – that’s just plain stupid…Those go in your carry-on, which should never leave your possesion!! Let’s hope this bit of idiocy goes away soon!

  8. 1M Morgan says:

    C’mon, Carnival – if you’re this desparate for revenue onboard, try creative marketing to sell more liquor on the ship, or a realistic cost on the cabins – with the weight restrictions and fees for checked luggage for your fly-in passengers, they can’t smuggle much, and I’d never advise handing unlocked luggage over at the pier. My clients would rather pay a little more for the cruise and be treated as customers, not convicted felons. Have you thought this out as to what we agents are supposed to tell our clients who’re booked on a future cruise? It puts us all in a bad spot, no one looking too good here.

  9. 1Karen Bullard says:

    I have not and will not leave unsecured luggage at the port. I use wire ties through the locks and carry small scissors to open then in the stateroom.
    The cruise lines need to remember that their passengers have other alternatives when choosing a vacation to will not subject their belongings to unreasonable exposure to theft.

  10. 1Sallie Holland says:

    Besides all of the legitimate concerns stated above, I am also concerned about someone putting something illegal into my luggage. Who’s to say that drugs for some employee on the ship won’t be put into my bags? This is a terrible policy. I was looking at booking a Med. cruise next year on the new Magic and there is no way I will hand over my unlocked bags to someone in a foreign port.

  11. 1Margaret says:

    If Carnival would lower the prices on drinks the smugglers my not have to smuggle. Also if the porters doesn’t take anything out of the unlocked luggage that doesn’t mean passer by in the halls won’t while the luggage is waiting to be put into the cabins. I am so glad we haven’t booked Carnival yet. Now we won’t have to

  12. 1Concerned Traveller says:

    “She did not address the addition of the “baggage must be unlocked” provision other than to say the policy is not new and that Carnival is taking steps to more strictly enforce it.” Jennifer De La Cruz in Carnival’s Public Relations

    This comment sent me on a mission…I cruised with Carnival last year and know for sure I read on Carnivals website to LOCK my luggage. Now it is gone off their site…but all it took was GOOGLE and here is what I found: (each coming from different sites!!)

    Embarkation Baggage Procedures –

    Three bag tags per guest are mailed with cruise documents for cruises of 7-days or longer; two bag tags per guest are mailed with cruise documents for cruises of 6-days or less. After arriving at the pier, all guests will follow the same procedure with their luggage, whether they arrive by taxi, car, or transfer bus. Guests with a stateroom assignment are given tags that are color-coordinated to the deck assigned and location on that deck (forward or aft). Guests booked on a TBA basis receive gray bag tags; the porter will re-tag these bags with the corresponding tag according to the stateroom assigned. Additional tags can be obtained at curbside from the porter, if necessary. Each piece of luggage must be locked and have a colored bag tag listing the guest’s name, ship and stateroom number.Guests must identify their bags with a curbside porter who will place the bags on the ship; the customary tip for the curbside porter is $1.00 per bag. NOTE: There is no curbside porter service on 2/3-day Cruises-to-Nowhere. For security purposes, Carnival limits the size of hand-carry luggage to 11″X 17″ which is the dimension of the opening of the X-ray security machine (similar to those at the airport); there is no measurement for length as the hand-carry luggage will lay flat on the conveyer belt. Luggage larger than 11″X 17″ will not be permitted through the security machine and must be checked-in with a curbside porter. Once on the ship, the luggage will be delivered to the guests’ stateroom by 7:00pm that night. Debarkation Baggage Procedures – Guests are advised to place their luggage outside of their stateroom door on the last night of the cruise by 1:00am. All luggage is collected and placed in a holding area on the ship. Upon arrival at the port of debarkation, the luggage is unloaded and separated (by bag tag color) in the baggage claim area of the terminal. The guests must personally locate their luggage and either carry it out or seek the assistance of a porter who will wheel it out of the terminal. The customary tip is $1.00 per bag. Customs – Each guest is required to complete a customs declaration card prior to debarking the ship. Clearance for customs will take place on board the ship at the home port. When the ship has been cleared by U.S. Customs, guests disembark in an orderly fashion, usually according to the color of their bag tags. U.S. Customs may request proof of citizenship prior to the guest leaving the baggage claim area. Depending on the number of ships in port that day, the ship usually clears by 9:00am. It is suggested that all return air flights be made for early afternoon, at the earliest. Baggage Check-In with airlines at debarkation – Effective 9/11/01: For security reasons this service is no longer available.

    How Do I Report Damaged or Lost Luggage?

    If a guest determines that their bags have been damaged or lost during the distribution process, they must complete a claim form with one of the embarkation representatives. If a guest discovers the problem on board, they must complete a claim form at the Purser’s Office. If the guest discovers after returning home that they have mistakenly claimed someone else’s luggage or that their luggage is damaged, they must contact Carnival’s Guest Relations Department which is open seven days a week at (800) 929-6400 or (305) 599-2600.

    BAGGAGE ASSISTANCE
    Curbside porters are available at the pier during embarkation to take luggage to the vessel. Please be sure each piece of luggage is locked and has a tag listing your name, ship, and stateroom number.

    Customary tip is $1.00 per bag. Curbside porters are not employees of Carnival; therefore, any problems are the responsibility of the guest. Carnival assumes no responsibility for carry-on luggage. Any luggage left at the pier will be forwarded at the guest’s expense. Claims for luggage loss or damage must be made in writing to debarkation personnel prior to leaving the pier area.

    Curbside porters are available at the pier during embarkation to take luggage to the vessel for delivery by shipboard personnel to your stateroom. Please be sure each piece of luggage is locked and has a tag listing your name, ship and stateroom number. Customary tip is $.50 a bag. Curbside porters are not employees of Carnival, therefore, if you choose to have your luggage transported by curbside porters, any problems resulting therefrom should be directed to the contracted company. Carnival assumes no responsibility for carry-on baggage. Any luggage left at the pier will be forwarded at your expense. Claims for luggage loss or damage must be made in writing to the embarkation personnel prior to leaving the pier area.

    Do you have luggage restrictions?

    * Baggage Limitations – There is no limit set by Carnival Cruise Lines to the amount of luggage brought on board as long as it fits in the guest’s stateroom. The airlines do have restrictions and it is up to the guest to check with the airline he/she is flying on.
    * Embarkation Baggage Procedures –
    * Three bag tags per guest are mailed with cruise documents for cruises of 7-days or longer; two bag tags per guest are mailed with cruise documents for cruises of 6-days or less. After arriving at the pier, all guests will follow the same procedure with their luggage, whether they arrive by taxi, car, or transfer bus. Guests with a stateroom assignment are given tags that are color-coordinated to the deck assigned and location on that deck (forward or aft). Guests booked on a TBA basis receive gray bag tags; the porter will re-tag these bags with the corresponding tag according to the stateroom assigned. Additional tags can be obtained at curbside from the porter, if necessary.
    * Each piece of luggage must be locked and have a colored bag tag listing the guest’s name, ship and stateroom number.Guests must identify their bags with a curbside porter who will place the bags on the ship; the customary tip for the curbside porter is $1.00 per bag.
    * NOTE: There is no curbside porter service on 2/3-day Cruises-to-Nowhere.
    * For security purposes, Carnival limits the size of hand-carry luggage to 11″X 17″ which is the dimension of the opening of the X-ray security machine (similar to those at the airport); there is no measurement for length as the hand-carry luggage will lay flat on the conveyer belt. Luggage larger than 11″X 17″ will not be permitted through the security machine and must be checked-in with a curbside porter. Once on the ship, the luggage will be delivered to the guests’ stateroom by 7:00pm that night.
    * Debarkation Baggage Procedures – Guests are advised to place their luggage outside of their stateroom door on the last night of the cruise by 1:00am. All luggage is collected and placed in a holding area on the ship. Upon arrival at the port of debarkation, the luggage is unloaded and separated (by bag tag color) in the baggage claim area of the terminal. The guests must personally locate their luggage and either carry it out or seek the assistance of a porter who will wheel it out of the terminal. The customary tip is $1.00 per bag.
    * Customs – Each guest is required to complete a customs declaration card prior to debarking the ship. Clearance for customs will take place on board the ship at the home port. When the ship has been cleared by U.S. Customs, guests disembark in an orderly fashion, usually according to the color of their bag tags.
    * U.S. Customs may request proof of citizenship prior to the guest leaving the baggage claim area. Depending on the number of ships in port that day, the ship usually clears by 9:00am. It is suggested that all return air flights be made for early afternoon, at the earliest.
    * Baggage Check-In with airlines at debarkation – Effective 9/11/01: For security reasons this service is no longer available.

    Baggage Assistance

    Curbside porters are available at the pier during embarkation to take luggage to the vessel for delivery to your stateroom. Please be sure each piece of luggage is locked and has a tag listing your name, ship and stateroom number. Customary tip is $1.00 per bag. Curbside porters are not employees of Carnival; therefore, any problems are the responsibility of the guest. Carnival assumes no responsibility for carry-on luggage. Any luggage left at the pier will be forwarded at the guest’s expense. Claims for luggage loss or damage must be made in writing to the debarkation personnel prior to leaving the pier area.

    So all I have to say is “LIAR”. Now what is really going on here??

    I am cruising again this year but let me tell all of you IT WILL BE MY LAST CRUISE WITH CARNIVAL!!!!!!!!!

  13. 1JESS Kalinowsky says:

    I think some people may be missing the point.
    It is about security! It is against FEDERAL law to transport alcohol out of the country without paying the appropriate tax in a duty free store. It is against the policy of ALL cruiselines to bring alcohol onboard, not just Carnival. And as far as trying to bypass the TSA rules, they will and can and have the authority to open any and all bags! Trying to bypass FEDERAL TSA rules can land you in prision! We live in a murderous society where people are willing to blow up airplanes, and SHIPS. Have we forgotten 9/11? If one thinks that the other cruiselines will not follow suit, they will! OBVIOUSLY some folks have not thought through their comments. If one is concerned about something being stolen, do not take it, or carry it on your person in a carryon bag. Only uneducated travelers carry the family jewels in luggage!
    Please re-read your posts after your anger has calmed down to rational thinking.

  14. 1John Frenaye says:

    I want to clarify that. My intent was to say Jennifer did not address the addition of the “locked bag” addition. Period. She went on to say that the policy (in general–meaning the restrictions of prohibited items) was an old one and they were enforcing it more. I would not call her a liar by any means. However, your Google cache does indeed demonstrate that they used to tell you to lock your bags. So that leaves really only one reason to leave them unlocked.

    -JWF

  15. 1Marie says:

    Get a grip folks, the policy seems a bit off the wall, Yes. But it didn’t say you were going to miss the sailing if you lock your bags, it said you may be delayed getting your Locked Luggage. If you are dead set to lock it up, than be ready to be delayed getting it in/to your Cabin. As for someone going through you stuff in the hall before your bag makes it into the Cabin…It wouldn’t happen in the hall. Lock or no lock, if someone wants something from your bag, the whole bag is going bye bye, then once a thief has gone through the bag, you may or may not get it back. Man I sound like a thief. I don’t think the porters have that much time, to think where can I put THIS bag, to riffle through it later…I too don’t like the idea of leaving my bags unlocked, But I do not think this is all about Booze smuggling either. I do remember 9/11 and lets just say the Christmas Bomber didn’t do any of us travelers/vacationers any favors. I think we all might be biting the hand that could potentially save our life! I have not decided to lock or not to lock yet (I have 2 wks to think about it) but if I go the NO lock route I think I will just do the zip tie thing, knowing they will remove it, if they find the need to inspect. The zip tie is only there to ensure the zippers stays closed. Anything of real value is in my carry on. Or at home! But I do have a ton of FUN things packed for our CC Group, and I would hate for any of that to not make it because some has “done run off with my bags”. They would never get it repacked again, so I doubt they would put it back out in the hall somewhere.
    If I am cruising with Thieves, I just hope they are on VACATION too.
    As for the this remark, “I’d like to think that our level of clientele is beyond booze-smuggling, but I’m sure the bottom-feeders do it all the time…” who are you kidding…and who are you calling bottom feeders…that was a rude and unnecessary comment. Just saying…
    Oh and Hi John H if you are reading this :o)
    What do you say about all this?

  16. 1John Frenaye says:

    I am not sure people were talking about missing the cruise or being denied boarding. But having a cruise line require you to leave your bags unlocked is wrong!

    The TSA does not handle screening at the port to my knowledge. It is done by a third party hired by the cruise lines to the DHS specifications (supposedly). Cruising and cargo has been a weak link in the terror scheme for years.

    When you travel by plane (which the TSA does screen) your locked bags are welcomed. If the TSA wants to look deeper they can open them with a master key (if you have a TSA lock) or they will break an existing lock and leave a note. Very few bags are opened and the vast majority go on their way locked. Yes a theif will take a bag and what he wants if he is determined enough, but this policy just opens the floodgates for them.

    As to the cable ties. Any zippered bag. Locked or cable tied can be opened in a matter of seconds with a ball point pen and avoid ALL detection.

    It does not take a lot to determine something of worth in a suitcase. Not I did not say value–valuables should be with you. But maybe the iPod I did not want to carry or the portable DVD player is of worth to a screener. And if the bags were immediately placed (like in an airplane) it might not be an issue, but when I check into a pier at noon and don;t see my bags for 8 hours–there is a LOT of opportunity for a crook.

  17. 1Les-Lee Roland says:

    First comment

    Celebrity has a written policy allowing the passengers to bring 2 bottles of wine onboard.

    Royal Caribbean does not have that same policy. They will confiscate some random found alcohol and return it to the passenger at the end of the cuise. Some bottles get by totally.

    So not all cruise lines have a no alcohol policy.

    Second
    If a passenger claims lost luggage at the end of the cruise- some claims are disallowed since the passenger left the luggage outside the cabin and didn’t turn it over to the proper person.

    The same for reporting missing items- luggage left alone in a hallway can negate the possibility of getting paid. Fine print …can be very costly.

  18. My cabin is my castle, just as my home is and I will not turn my personal effects over to some dock steveadore

  19. 1gayle gunther says:

    Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum.
    Hey CCL, instead of acting like luggage Nazi’s, how about putting “suspicious” bags in a holding area and asking the passsenger to claim it? At that time CCL can request the bag to be opened and searched IN FRONT OF THE PASSENGER! Big Brother are you watching?
    Personally, I quit selling CCL years ago when they tried to tell me that PVP wasn’t stealing my business.

  20. 1Randyman says:

    Wow, this is an 8 month old site… Sorry I didn’t see it earlyer before I booked this CCL trip thats two times the regular price because it put us on the water for New Years Eve…. Is what it is I guess…… But I for one will not leave my bags unlocked. You scan em, and if you see something you don’t like, get in touch with me. I’ll be happy to open all of them. But only with me standing there…… I sail late December and will let everyone know just how it went……………………. When I get back.

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