It seems that Carnival realized they opened up a hornet’s nest with their new policy of requiring passengers to leave their luggage unlocked at the pier. Judging from the comments on last week’s column, both customers and travel professionals were not happy about the new policy.
We followed up with Jennifer De La Cruz to see if Lynn Torrent (Sr. VP of Sales & Guest Services) or Kirk Neal (VP of Sales, Eastern Region) would be willing to answer them or defend Carnival’s position. They weren’t. However, Ms. De La Cruz sent a reply to our follow up questions. We asked seven of them:
- Last week, we ran a story on your new policy requiring luggage to remain unlocked once at the pier. As you know, it raised quite a few eyebrows. While Carnival has said it is merely enforcing an existing policy, documents show that the “unlocked” provision was never a part of your contract, website FAQs, or any communication to agencies or clients. As a matter of fact, Carnival previously said that luggage must be locked. What happened in 2010 to require this change?
- There is much speculation that this move was made by Carnival to insure that passengers are not smuggling alcohol on board to avoid buying drinks while on board. Is the smuggling of alcohol on board a problem for Carnival? How does it compare to other brands in your company or industry?
- Security is of paramount concern for everyone today. This policy was floated out under the guise of security. However, it leaves a lot of holes just ready to be exploited. With open luggage at the pier, your passengers are allowing free access to their luggage by the porters, the baggage handlers, the cabin stewards, and anyone who happens to pass by the luggage between the time it is left, and the time it arrives in your cabin. How can Carnival assure its passengers that their luggage is indeed safe and that their belongings will indeed make it into the cabin?
- Related to the last question, with drug smuggling still very prevalent (especially in Miami), what steps is Carnival taking to insure that nothing is put into the luggage once it is left at the pier unlocked? If someone wanted to smuggle drugs, two people could very easily pull this off.
- What are the chances of Carnival backing down on this new policy?
- Do you know if this policy applies strictly to Carnival Cruise Lines or does this apply to all of the brands in the Carnival family?
- And finally, over the past few months, Carnival has rolled out several controversial initiatives. First there was the ban of buying keywords for online ads. And now this open bag policy. To be honest, the moves have seemed pretty random and out of left field. Are there any other things up your sleeve for which we need to keep an eye out?
From Ms. DeLa Cruz’s response, it seems that Carnival is revising the policy a little bit by allowing passengers with locked luggage to be present while it is searched. While some of the questions remained unanswered, here is her full reply.
It is not mandatory that guests keep their luggage unlocked and the wording in our guest communications is being adjusted to indicate that we recommend it be unlocked in order to avoid any inconvenience or delay in the delivery of luggage to the cabin. If luggage is locked (including TSA locks) and potentially prohibited items are identified during the screening process, that luggage will be retained and must be opened by the guest in the presence of security personnel.
You may find it of interest to note that the majority of our guests do not lock their luggage as a matter of routine.
We have not changed policy regarding prohibited items. We are merely stepping up enforcement.
Implementation of the stepped up enforcement of prohibited items is happening on a gradual basis and thus far is going very well. The more stringent screening is here to stay and as long as guests don’t have any prohibited items in their luggage, whether locked or unlocked, this should be a total non-issue for them.
So there you have it direct from Carnival. They will not require bags to be unlocked; however, they will be expending a lot of resources to make sure that the bottle of Absolut never makes it on board!