Should a Cruise Line Tell Passengers Who ‘Else’ Is Sailing?

November 29, 2012 | By | 8 Comments

The debate surrounding Carnival’s drag prohibition–no, acceptance(!) has been fierce. But from a mess of wigs, eyeliner and blood pressure spikes, an interesting question emerged:
When a cruise line agrees to host an affinity group — fans of music, cats, vampires, werewolves, drag queens, liberalism, conservatism, cephalopods, John Heald — what responsibility does it have for notifying nonaffinity passengers?

Naturally, lines don’t feel the need to share.
“For groups of people with similar interests, we always evaluate group size, in the interest of not altering or interrupting the experience for other guests (not in the group) onboard,” explains Celebrity Cruises’ Tavia Robb. “We are committed to ensuring that all guests on our ship never feel excluded and come back to sail with us again.”
In other words, Celebrity doesn’t share the already-vetted group’s identity.
Still, most Cruise Critic readers asked said they’d like to know. “It has nothing to do with what kind of passenger it is chartering,” wrote Tina Annette on Facebook. “It has to do with how much or little it will change the non-themed passenger’s expected, anticipated, paid-dearly-for cruise experience.”
“The line definitely should notify passengers,” Cindy Chapman Kern said. “We have been affected by this twice. Both times, we felt it changed our cruise, and not for the better.”
“If lounges and theaters are closed for private events all week, I should not be charged a full fare,” Bob Harvey added.
Only a handful of the 120-plus responders thought the line shouldn’t have to say — “as long as the activities are legal,” Amy Johnson said.
But many also recognized the inherent problem. “Where you draw the line is a tough call,” Rae Ann Nolan said. “What if it’s only 10 people, or 100 or 1000?” Ricky Cokely added.
Said Carl Berman: “If they do it for one they should do it for all. They should not, though, cherry pick which groups to pre-notify other passengers.”
Regardless, Cruise Critic readers have a way of finding out who’s on their cruise. Tracy Antonioli discovered she was sailing with Grand Old Opry lovers when a fellow passenger announced it on a Roll Call (which, by the way, are invaluable). If it’s a large group, like the hundreds of drag fans scheduled to sail on Carnival Glory next week, run-of-the-mill publicity might spread the word, too.
Curious if you’re sailing with crocheters or Beatles fans? Check out our frequently updated theme cruise guide.
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    8 Responses to “Should a Cruise Line Tell Passengers Who ‘Else’ Is Sailing?”

    1. Sasha
      November 30th, 2012 @ 7:43 am

      I’m not conceded with WHO I’m sailing with, but if the group is large enough to close public places for their own use then yes, I would want to know and maybe change cruise dates. I once sailed with a quilters group and they were fine since they only had one or two meeting rooms reserved (that are usually not used all that much).

    2. Dan
      November 30th, 2012 @ 10:32 am

      My wife and I are cruising on the Glory…what has become the “Drag Cruise”. While we are not concerned about that we do have some reservations as to the size of the group (estimated to be 1300). We do not want to be excluded from parts of the ship due to a large groups take over. I do think that “dress up nights” will take on an entirely new meaning. It should be fun and interesting. Let’s hear it for diversity!

    3. jim
      November 30th, 2012 @ 11:23 am

      @Dan- Way to be open minded-It should be a hoot and a holler!

    4. Jeffrey C
      November 30th, 2012 @ 2:41 pm

      I’m with the people who only want a warning if there is going to be a major disruption generated by the group. I was once at Disneyland during a “Happy Hearts Day” where special discounts were given to the disabled. It sounds nice in theory, but when every attraction is being stopped for handicapped loading and unloading, the throughput crashes and wait times soar. Nobody (including the disabled) gets a very good experience due to the slow lines caused by that overload.

    5. John Bosch
      November 30th, 2012 @ 3:08 pm

      This issue is not about open-mindedness or acceptance of what others do in groups – much of it sounds like a lot of fun if you are cruising as part of a group. However, if a group causes the cruise line to restrict areas otherwise accessible for exclusive use by a group, or if a group interferes with the comfort of other passengers, then the issue is whether or not the available ship facilities, comfort levels and reasonably expected experiences have been falsely promoted by the line. The shipping line should therefore be obliged to advise pax once they have accepted a group booking that could cause issues as described so that an informed decision can be made before booking or existing bookings can be cancelled without penalty.

    6. Marty Harrison
      December 3rd, 2012 @ 10:55 am

      I would absolutely want to know if the ship is catering to what I consider a fringe group. Quite frankly, I am not open minded enough to be on board with this type of group. I would change my travel plans to avoid this particular fringe group. BTW, I do not even like to dress up for Halloween…….

    7. Phillis
      December 3rd, 2012 @ 11:43 am

      I would want to know if there is a large group on the sailing with me. If i am apying my money to enjoy a criuse, I do not want to be limited to the things i can do on board. I would also like to be made aware of sex offenders that may be on board for my saftey.

    8. Winnetta
      December 3rd, 2012 @ 11:53 am

      I would also like to be notified of such a group. I can foresee some difficult situations with this type of cruise.
      It would be better to notify any passengers not in this group, allowing them the choice to stay, or make other cruise arraignments.

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