Carnival Cruise Line shares controversial cabin policy
Many regular cruise ship passengers build relationships with crew members: a favored bartender, waiter or even a room steward.
Many of these friendships develop over multiple cruises, during which small conversations turn into deeper friendships. It's easy for that to happen with crew members that you see several times a day.
On Carnival Cruise Line (CCL) and Royal Caribbean, passengers often see their room stewards a few times a day. Though both cruise lines service nonsuite rooms only once a day, the workers who clean those rooms are omnipresent.
Many passengers stop to chat with the cruise-ship staff. Over the course of a cruise, bonds can form, and some of these relationships lead to exchanges of contact info and staying in touch in the real world.
Nor is the situation unique to room stewards; it happens throughout the ship. In many cases, passengers who have favored crew members they know will be on their sailings bring them little gifts — everything from things the crew members might need to food, clothing and handmade items.
In other cases, passengers bring gifts and treats for crew members, usually their cabin stewards, even though they don't know them.
It's a preemptive kindness that crew members appreciate, but some rules that come with these gifts may surprise you.
Carnival prohibits one type of gift
Carnival Brand Ambassador John Heald spends most days answering questions on his popular Facebook page. On Feb. 6 he fielded a query from an angry passenger who seemingly had good intentions.
"John Heald I always bring my cabin steward my funnel cake and cowboy cookies I have always been thanked profusely. This time I am on the Jubilee. I offered ------- them, even gave him the Tupperware box with them in, and said he could keep it. He refused. He said he was not allowed. Carnival already overworks the crew and now this! ----- looked very embarrassed when he said no. I asked him why and he told me it was the rule. This is defective management. I made these treats especially," the cruise passenger shared.
Heald explained why Carnival has rules regarding what types of gifts cabin stewards, and other crew members can accept.
"Thank you “F” and thank you for your kindness, truly I mean that. Your cabin attendant was indeed listening and following the rules we have in place," he posted.
It's not an arbitrary rule, Heald wrote. There's a specific reason for it.
"There have been occasions that some totally disgusting people thought it would be hilarious to put something in brownies and other cakes and cookies that, well, made the crew who ate them quite sick and unable to work. Because of these despicable wankers we have instructed the crew not to take any home-baked goods or anything that is not in the original and sealed packaging," he wrote.
Most Carnival passengers support the policy
While most cruise passengers have the best of intentions, there's a risk with home-baked goods even when the intentions behind them are not nefarious. Most of the comments on Heald's post seemed to understand why the rule was in place.
"I don’t even eat homemade goods from some people I know, much less a stranger. This policy makes complete sense," Justine Simone wrote.
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Many of the responses saluted the cruise line for protecting its crew.
"The passenger said 'This is defective management.' No, genius, it is fantastic management taking care of the crew it loves so dearly. John, I’m glad Carnival has this rule," Susan A. Pitman said.
Carnival does allow passengers to gift crew members packaged food. In most cases, however, unless a passenger has a preexisting relationship with the crew member and is bringing them something they have requested, crew members generally prefer cash tips.
That's not a slight on whatever thoughtful gift a passenger might bring, but most crew members have very little space in their cabins. Waiters and room stewards share cabins with at least one other crew member and don't have much space to store gifts.
Many passengers understand that and find other ways to show their appreciation.
"I personally agree with this policy. It is a shame that malicious people would treat the crew in such a horrible manner. I used to bring stuff but now I just give them more money," wrote Keri Renwick.
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