Tom in Iraq as a Military Observer

Tom in Iraq as a Military Observer
They sent me here just to watch...

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Carnival Cruise Lines: A mixed bag of fun and frustration

I have spent close to a year at sea.  Granted, most of it was courtesy of the United States Navy.  There is something special about falling asleep off the shore of one country and waking up near another country or continent. 

Marines and sailors are billeted in close quarters but time at sea is always fun, well, mostly fun.
There are the occasional plumbing problems, rough seas, or long periods at sea without resupply.  You can only eat so much carrot-raisin salad before you are ready to invade a small country just to get some meat and potatoes.

Having long ago retired as a Marine officer, I decided it was time to go back to sea.  This time it would just all be for fun.  I booked on Carnival.  It offered a 5 day cruise out of Galveston, Texas.  Booking and room selection was fairly easy online.  I added some excursions and then I added their internet service package.  I paid about $90 for internet for this short week but thought that it would be worth it to share some photos as we traveled.

For all of the good things on this cruise, the internet was very disappointing.  I was never able to upload a single photo and received next to nothing in downloads.  By mid-week, I was locked out of the service altogether.

It was sort of like having the ship capsize and nobody really cared about righting it.

The cruise director made a general announcement apologizing for the service going down, but my service was never restored.  I was told by Carnival service people on board that the company would send me a survey to address my concern.

I enjoyed the cruise, have booked more cruises with Carnival but have to say that I am very disappointed at the integrity level of the Carnival operations in general.

After my first contact with Carnival was ignored, I again contacted them about the problem.  A few days later, I received an email that said we are sorry that you were disappointed but we are not going to do anything about it.

As with many things in this life, you get a mixed bag.

The cruise was great and even included a special performance by Matt Gumm.  Matt is a comedian that I have seen many times in Branson, Missouri.  He was the highlight of the cruise and happened to be a guest who just offered to entertain us.

The food was good and the wait times were not long.  Guy’s Burgers and Pirate Pizza were the favorites—even over the fine fare at the evening meals.  The staff was always upbeat and did what they could to make sure that everyone enjoyed the cruise.

Like I said, I booked again but this time a little wiser.

When I was aboard ship as a Marine, integrity was everything; not so much with Carnival.  I am skeptical about any promises made by the Carnival management.

I still expect to have a good time on my next cruise enjoying so many things done in first class fashion, but always with one eye open to see what less than honorable ploys are afoot to make the cruise more profitable by selling something that won’t be delivered, replaced, or refunded.

Caveat emptor

Friday, May 23, 2014

For Memorial Day

The Gettysburg Address is one of the most memorable speeches even given by a world leader.  As we approach this Memorial Day and take a moment to remember those who gave their last full measure of devotion some 151 years ago, let us take a brief moment to remember them.

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate - we can not consecrate - we can not hallow - this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us - that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion - that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain - that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom - and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

President Abraham Lincoln

November 1863