04/01/2013...4:00 pm

Should a cruise line tell passengers who else is sailing: Part 2

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Another month, another controversial theme cruise.

After November’s debacle over the RuPaul drag-themed cruise onboard Carnival Glory, we bring you the annual High Seas Rally onboard Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas.

But this time, it’s not the themesters who were complaining, but one of the passengers, who was disgusted to see:

 belly-flopping contests

 fighting, wearing sexually-explicit clothing and heavy drinking

 sex in hot tubs

 baby-oil competitions

…amongst a whole lot of other “antics” which she told in detail to the Daily Mail.

Views on the Cruise Critic message boards are mixed, though most people seem to be pro the bikers, including sherilyn70, who said: “It looks like everyone except the family that was complaining had a great time.”

As we wrote in a blog back in November, a cruise line has no obligation to tell non-theme cruisers that there will be an affinity group onboard.

But isn’t it time they did? Even if it’s on an informal basis – “We’d like you to know that on what you thought would be a sedate family cruise in the Caribbean there will be 2,500 hairy bikers onboard”.

We’re not saying it should be enshrined in law, but perhaps just a heads up on theme cruises like this that may impact on other cruisers.

This comment from a reader which appeared on the original Daily Mail piece neatly sums it up:

“If the majority of the ship was going to be bikers, Royal Caribbean should have run this cruise JUST for the bikers. Making sure all the cabins were full, at a cost of customer satisfaction, is just a greedy greedy, money grubbing thing to do.”

We’ve contacted Royal Caribbean and this is what they had to say:

“From time to time, groups with a variety of interests travel with Royal Caribbean International. We welcome all groups who choose to sail with us and we are not prejudiced against any guests. On this particular sailing, the majority of customers had a great holiday and the feedback we received was very positive.

“We have spoken to the guest concerned and resolved the matter directly with them, we are pleased that they want to sail with us again in the near future.”

Which misses the point entirely: It’s not about being prejudiced towards theme cruise guests, it’s about being considerate and thoughtful towards non-theme cruise guests.

What do you think? Let us know below.

–Adam Coulter

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  • If the affinity group is big enough to change the fundamental nature of the cruise, then I think the non-affinity group passengers have a right to feel aggrieved.

  • I see themed cruises all the time, so therefore I feel they do tell us who is cruising & i feel it is my choice whether or not to sail on said cruise, because to be honest there is a ship that sails every day from somewhere. my advise is ask the travel agent or the company directly in the future before you sign on the dotted line!

  • MaryLou V Crouch

    As a former biker and a cruiser, I would like to know if the cruise I book is a theme cruise–I would tend to avoid those unless it was a theme cruise I specifically wanted to be on.

    As far as the actions of some of the bikers on this cruise, those actions occur on many cruises.

  • Many people wait and save for a long time to be able to afford a cruise, and bring their children as well. To then find adults behaving an a way that would perhaps compromise their family, and not being aware of it until it’s too late is inappropriate. If they’ve spent their money, they are also entitled to some consideration
    It woldn’t take much to add a note that members of the following groups would be aboard, allowing the familes with objections to book at another time, and be given the same price for the new venue.

  • Durward Blanks

    While it would be nice to have foreknowledge of the groups on board, it is impractical. Think of the added cost of maintaining this for all passengers. A family plans well in advance, books a cruise and makes plans. THEN, a group books the same cruise AFTER the family has booked. Maybe this group is contrary to what the family lifestyle is. What happens then? Family paid, group paid,,,,, should cruseline give refund to family?
    No, too many variables to even think of this. Any client should do due diligence on the preferred cruise. Most ships are large enough that one can avoid any unpleasant contact with “unapproved groups”

  • I thing people are to touchy about everything. If you don’t like the games go somewhere else on the ship. If you don’t want to read about their antics don’t read the ships paper. Maybe they were offended by the “normal people” did anyone think of that. I don’t think they complained.

  • I think that it is each cruisers responsibility to make sure the cruise they signed up for is the cruise they want to go on. In that spirit I think that if asked, the cruise line must answer truthfully as to whether or not there is a group onboard and if the cruiser is unhappy with the group that will be onboard than the cruise line should make other arrangements for the cruiser with no additional costs or penalties incurred by the cruiser.

  • George Roberson

    I pay my money for the type of cruise I want to go on. I should also be informed if there are special interests groups that my be in direct conflict with my views. Whether it be the “hairy bikers”, the “Holy Rollers”, or some “Gay/Lesbian Rights Forever” groups, I may not want to be involved or around it. A heads up would give me the option to changing MY trip. I have the right to change what I want, not what hundreds or thousand of others may want.

    • I agree completely…..we went on a RCI cruise this past october only to find a large group of LGBT on the cruise and a chruch conference group on board…..The antics of the LGBT group were poor, crude, rude and in most cases down right pornographic by any standards and would not have been allowed of most people in any stuation in public. Can you imagine how the church conference folks felt…..Also to go elsehwere on the boat meant not enjoying the Pool on sea days…..how fair of that it to everyone else on the ship? Never again will I sail RCI …..

      • Mela: I totally agree with you!! On my last Carnival cruise; My sister; her family and I had no idea we were sailing a gay cruise!! It was the Friends of Dorothy!! I kept asking my sister “Why is this ship so full of gays? I found out later why. The next time I cruise; I will be asking specific questions so I won’t be so surprised!!

  • Gardeners Detective

    I would not want to book a theme cruise of any kind unless I was part of the group. I would be grateful & loyal to the cruise line that gave me a heads up at booking so I could explore my options. I would also like to know if the sailing is a reunion cruise for a majority of the passengers. If I unknowingly find myself on a theme cruise I would still have a fabulous time and look for ways to enjoy the group but I would consider other cruise lines the next time I book. We wait a long time and spend a lot of money for a cruise of a lifetime and I agree it is unacceptable if the cruise line is not forthcoming.

  • Phyllis Adamson

    Yes, I would want to know if this was a Theme Cruise before I booked my trip. If it created a Theme after I booked, I would want the option to change to another ship or another cruise date. This does not make the cruise company “prejudiced”. It merely provides information without identification of individuals. It is up to the paying passengers if they want to share that cruise with that group, or not. I would not choose to share my one good vacation with a large group of crude & rude, foul-mouthed drunkards, or people who want to do private activities in a public forum, if I could avoid it. Especially if I had my grandchildren on the cruise with me.

  • Yet another reason to add to the reasons to shun big-ship cruising.
    If I held shares in any of these large cruiselines I would be worried.

  • Donna Cheney

    I like most bikers but feel all passengers need to be told when there is a large charter or group on board. From now on I will be sure to ask if there is one planned.

  • Doug Glascox

    Just seems to me that it would behoove the cruise industry to at least post theme cruises on their websites so that folks who might not like cruising with, say, 2000 members of the Internation Union of, um, Clowns, Inc, would have the opportunity to book on a different cruise. Likewise, there could be a whole mess of clowns out there who didn’t know about this theme cruise and who would enjoy being on it. Personally clowns freak me out. At least let folks know about it anyhow.

    • Best response yet.

      Congratulations on hitting the nail on the head without prejudice.
      I have a friend who is terrified of Clowns.

  • It comes down to the mighty dollar $$. A cruise line does not and will not inform guests of any very large group coming aboard. It’s a proven fact that IF they did, they may have a hard time selling the other cabins. Therefore, the cruise line feels they’re in the right. [Edited] If I’m paying for a cruise and I expect to have this and not that… then it’s a matter of proper business. But we know that cruise lines don’t play that way.

    The cruise contract for each guest clearly stipulates that you have paid for the following…. blah blah blah.. IF the cruise line fails to deliver then I really think those guests might have a case. But, a cruise line has a heck of alot more money than a guest and will tie this up in courts and attorney fees until it squeezes every last dime. It seems some cruise lines think they can ‘justify’ everything they do.

    Bottom line…. any group that is more than 800 and with a track record of ‘incidents’ should be told to charter a smaller ship if they want their entire group to have full reign – and not care about other guests on board.

  • A large group which could justify their own cruise, thanks for the article, I won’t risk a booking with this cruise line.

  • karen brandenburg

    I happen to have been on one of these “themed” cruises and I did not see any bikes, I never saw a fight,nor any unsavory activities in the hot tubs (if I had I don’t think I could have known if a person in a bathing suit was a biker or a lawyer or a biker lawyer). I had an excellent time and all of the people I met were very friendly.I am also a dialysis patient and if it wasn’t for the money raised by these wonderful people I and 16 other dialysis patients would not have been on a vacation of a life time. There was more than enough room on the ship for everyone. I see people that act out in just about everywhere and do not know who they are or what they do when they go home.If I was to plan an expensive vacation where there are 4000 people I would learn to get along or at least enjoy myself.

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