When passengers book a suite, they are expecting nicer accommodations in exchange for the higher price, such as more space or extra amenities. But for one disappointed couple, the luxury suite they spent thousands of dollars to book may have actually been one of the worst cabins on the ship.
A Dream Cruise Turned Nightmare
As most families would be, the Kula’s were looking forward to their pre-holiday cruise on Carnival Cruise Line’s Mardi Gras cruise ship, the first Excel-class in the fleet.
The 7-day cruise, which departed from Port Canaveral, Florida, on December 16, 2023, was meant to be a dream vacation exploring popular destinations in the Eastern Caribbean, with port calls scheduled at San Juan, Puerto Rico; Puerto Plata/Amber Cove, Dominican Republic; and Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos.
But the dream trip quickly turned into a nightmare when the couple reached their cabin onboard Mardi Gras. The Kula’s were disappointed to find the upgraded suite they paid nearly $6,000 (USD) to book had soaked floors and a dirty, musty smell.
The couple asked to switch to a new cabin, but were unable to move to new accommodations because the pre-holiday cruise was fully booked. At maximum capacity, Mardi Gras can hold 6,500 passengers and approximately 2,000 crew members.
In a statement obtained by FOX 35, Carnival apologized for the inconvenience and explained that the stateroom had been damaged due to severe weather. The cruise line’s statement read, in part: “We had a small number of staterooms on Mardi Gras that were impacted by heavy winds and rain… The ship is full for the holiday season, and we do not have any available staterooms or suites to move guests.”
With nowhere to go, the couple was stuck with their waterlogged suite for the duration of their cruise, in what Scott Kula describes as “a total disaster.”
“If they can put a rollercoaster on a cruise ship, they should be able to seal the doors properly from rain entering,” says Scott.
Nearly a week into the cruise, the wet carpet could still be heard and seen sloshing under Scott’s shoes in videos he shared with FOX 35. The musty smell from the first day eventually evolved into a “bad mold smell” that made it difficult for the couple to sleep.
Making matters worse, the crew members placed loud blowers inside the cabin to help dry the carpet, which ran for most of the day. Between the noise and the odor, Scott and his wife found being in their cabin unbearable. They paid extra, in addition to the thousands of dollars they spent on their suit, to rent a cabana to get away from their room.
“They’re still having the blowers in there 8-10 hours a day, blowing constantly. You can’t hear anything. You can’t spend any time in the room. It’s just very, very frustrating on our end,” says Scott.
So far, Carnival Cruise Line has offered the disgruntled passengers an onboard credit to use near the end of their voyage. But with only one day of the sailing left, Scott didn’t feel this was fair, calling the attempt at compensation “disturbing.” The Kula’s want Carnival to refund the cost of their suite.
While no resolution had been reached when Mardi Gras returned to Port Canaveral on the morning of December 23, Carnival said it would be contacting the Kulas to try to fix these issues.
Bad Weather Negatively Impacts Cruising
Multiple ships from multiple cruise lines were heavily impacted by severe weather between December 13 and December 17, 2023. The heavy wind and rain, accompanied by rough seas and high swells, forced several cruise lines to delay sailings and cancel port calls.
Several ships in Carnival’s fleet were impacted by the bad weather. After departing from Port Canaveral on a 4-night Bahamian Cruise, Carnival Freedom found herself sailing on a cruise to nowhere after weather conditions made it unsafe to visit the ports as planned. The itinerary had originally included calls at Nassau on December 15 and Princess Cays on December 16.
Carnival Vista’s and Carnival Venezia’s December 10 sailings were also impacted, with both ships forced to make last-minute itinerary changes. Carnival Vista had to skip a visit to Grand Turk on December 14.
Meanwhile, Carnival Venezia had to cancel a day at the cruise line’s private island, Half Moon Cay in the Bahamas, and also suffered a power outage at sea.