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Old 06-11-2007, 01:18 PM
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We just returned from Carnival Liberty's western caribbean cruise June 3-9 (6 nights). Since we're newbies, I won't bother with the critique. But there was one incident that still bothers me, and curious about other experiences at this port, with Carnival, and basic reactions.

We had two days at sea, and three ports - Freeport, Grand Cayman, and Costa Maya. We did shore excursions at both Freeport and Cayman, but was going to wing-it at Costa Maya since it was the last port (11am-7pm), before our second day at sea. Many had booked the two Maya ruins, and the many additional excursions involving boats, snorkeling, etc. - a much awaited port of call.

As we neared the port the wind picked up immensely and white caps started. We got to the port, and the captain started to reverse the boat towards the pier. We watched from our balcony stateroom, but couldn't see the pier. After awhile the cruise director came on the intercom and announced they had cancelled the stop due to "the weather" creating "dangerous" docking situations, and of course played the "safety card" that our safety was considered. It's hard to question the ability or safety to dock a ship in such weather and water conditions, but hey, this is one of the biggest ships in the Carnival fleet, and Costa Maya had recently constructed a huge long cruise ship pier. My suspicions that they were afraid of damaging the pier with such a big ship in heavy winds, was supported by another cruise passenger stating he heard the pier had been damaged before by a cruise ship. The pier was exceptionally long and well out into the water, probably due to shallow seas.

Sadly, much to a lot of disappointment, no alternative port was scheduled or possible, and we got a third day at sea, as they returned to Ft. Lauderdale. They added some "activities" that consisted of trivia contests, gambling activities, and a few minor activities; nothing great. . and they refunded us $25, which we heard was the "docking fee" per person.

While the missed shore activity was a big disappointment, the $25 token refund was more. People chose a cruise based on different criteria, but the port stops are one of them. If they only charged you $25 per port, that would be a great deal, but that's not how they view it until they miss a port. I realize the contractual agreement states they can cancel a port for various reasons, and they don't have to make it up, yada yada. But $25 just is not worth the contractual agreement I had to stop at these three ports. We went right by Cozumel, and Key West which I've been to before, but would of at least been a reasonable alternative. Obviously they couldn't get a reservation. I question whether if Costa Maya has this problem either with the wind/wave problem or the fragile pier problem, that hindsight should of suggest booking an alternative port just in case? But I feel they owed us more than a token $25. I expected a voucher on a future cruise, like $100. I would of been OK with that. I griped at the pursor desk, and canceled our automatic $60/ea gratuity charge out of protest, but realized it's not the crew's fault, so gave them their gratuity's individually and manually.

Does cruise insurance cover this? What's the recourse? Check with the history of cruise lines on cancelling ports under these considtions? Avoiding Costa Maya? All in all we had a great time, and look forward to our next cruise, and will include Carnival. But this experience was rather surprising, mostly in how we was so casually written off. Two days in a row at sea, and the last two day, made for a anti-climatic end for what started out great.
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Old 06-11-2007, 01:39 PM
 
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That is an unfortunate and upsetting reality of cruise travelling. Just like everything else in life, cruising has fine print. Carnival, Royal Caribbean, etc. They all reserve the right to change an itenerary for any circumstance. The pier at Costa Maya is huge and quite capable of handling more than one ship but it is only 6 yrs. old and still under construction. In a situation like that, I wonder if they could have anchored off shore and used the ship's tender vessels to take people to the dock. Once again, I know it's upsetting but at least on the boat you can win one of those 24k plastic trophies.
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Old 06-11-2007, 01:40 PM
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You were on the ship right after me!!!! That makes us kinfolk!!!!

O.K. It seems as though this particular port, Costa Maya is notorious for the bad weather and the frequency that it is "skipped" by the ships.

I would suggest that you avoid this port or, if you do book a cruise going to this port, bear in mind that there is a very good chance that high winds will make docking impossible.

From what I understand Costa Maya is a cruise industry created port cut into the jungle. My guess is that when scouting out locations for a secondary Mexico port (to take the pressure off of post-hurricane ravished Cozumel), no one did a thorough weather analysis (or if they did, the inexpensiveness of this location made it too good to pass up).

I am constantly reading about ships that could not dock and almost never read about anyone who has actually been able to go ashore at Costa Maya. What gives.

I am sorry that this was so disappointing. Take an Eastern Caribbean cruise next time. The islands of the Eastern Carib are a bit more to the south where the weather is hotter but more stable, as is the seas surrounding these islands.
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Old 06-11-2007, 01:42 PM
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Too-Hip,

First, welcome to Cruise Chat. I hope you don't take the rest of my reply personally but here goes anyway. If you read the contract provided with your tickets/eDocs, and you obviously did since you cited them in the post, you know they didn't have to give you anything. The cruiselines make a great deal of revenue from the excursions at the ports and don't take lightly the decision to cancel a port of call. It happens rarely and is far more costly to the cruiseline than to you personally when it does happen. Safety is of great importance and should be. You said yourself the winds were high enough to cause whitecaps and you couldn't even see the pier. If the captin ports that ship and the seas are so rough the gangway is unstable as people exit the ship what happens? A few broken hips from elderly passengers? A few skinned knees from kiddos? Maybe a broken arm? What price would you like the passengers and cruiseline (in lawsuits) to pay to be sure you get your last port in?

Did they feed you on the missed port day? You mentioned they provided unscheduled entertainment. They also lost a great deal of revenue, should they sue God for the turn in the weather? I don't nromally side with the cruiseline on issues where I feel they've treated clients unfairly but I'm trying to see what you feel they did wrong. Is giving people money always the answer? How much is enough? Should they go into the red on a given sailing that has already become expensive for them in lost revenue and the couple thousand + people they paid $25. that they were not obligated to provide.

Chalk it up to unfortunate weather conditions and be thankful they considered your safety. Also be greatful they refunded the port fees and organized the entertainment so quickly so as not to further disappoint you on your vacation. Insurance will not pay you for the cruiseline fulfilling their contract to the letter, nor should they. Sorry for this sounding harsher than I'd like it to but the cruiseline, the insurance company, noone owes you money. Life is sometimes that way, you have your health, you didn't loose money or your home (which CAN happen with weather), you're out nothing but a port you can schedule again on a furture cruise.

Happy sailing, Neil
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Old 06-11-2007, 01:53 PM
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There has been more than one instance of ships being damaged while docking in Costa Maya, which means the threshold for cancelling it if the seas and winds are kicking up is probably lower than in other ports. As Neil notes, there is no recourse and any insurance you bought won't cover a missed port since the cruise line has no obligation under the passage contract to stop at any port. This is one of those things that happens.

From a personal perspective, you didn't miss anything by skipping Costa Maya. It is not that good of a stop and as noted above, it was created out of nothing by the cruise lines just to have another place to stop. I'd rather have an extra day at sea any day! To many experienced cruisers, the best 7-day cruise is maybe one port and all the rest of the days spent at sea.
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Old 06-11-2007, 01:54 PM
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IBCRUZIN', where did you read that at Costa Maya or any other port they frequently cancel the port? Whoever stated it is dead wrong. The weather on the Yucatan Penensula doesn't vary in the distance between the ports, it's tropical weather throughout the region. No different there than in Cancun or Cozumel. The tropics are the tropics. Weather systems don't target a port.

All the cruiselines dread cancelled ports because of this kind of bad press from doing the right thing and losing $$$ from cancelled excursions. They can't control the weather. Thank God they don't opperate on a majority rule system where the passengers decide if it's safe and they should go ahead and port.

Cheers, Neil
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Old 06-11-2007, 01:58 PM
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Neil,

Just looking around the boards I do find people saying Costa Maya was cancelled a lot of times. I have no specific data, just that I've read a lot of messages (not just here) where Costa Maya got cancelled. Of course, many of these messages may have been about the same cruise.
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Old 06-11-2007, 02:07 PM
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Sorry IBCRUZIN', Dave and anyone else who I may have chapped with my overly defensive position. Just a bad day. One of the A/C's in my home went out a couple days ago, I'm in Houston (just the other side of Hell in the summer). So I cranked up the other one while waiting on the replacement to come in and be installed. The line on the other got clogged and the pan overflowed last night. The ceiling in my sons room collapsed, carpet ruined and I spent the rest of the night with a shop vac sweating profusely with no A/C at all. Then I came to wrok, shouldn't have posted at all. Again, Sorry for being a little testy today.

Cheers, Neil
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Old 06-11-2007, 02:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by TrvlPro:
IBCRUZIN', where did you read that at Costa Maya or any other port they frequently cancel the port? Whoever stated it is dead wrong. The weather on the Yucatan Penensula doesn't vary in the distance between the ports, it's tropical weather throughout the region. No different there than in Cancun or Cozumel. The tropics are the tropics. Weather systems don't target a port.

All the cruiselines dread cancelled ports because of this kind of bad press from doing the right thing and losing $$$ from cancelled excursions. They can't control the weather. Thank God they don't opperate on a majority rule system where the passengers decide if it's safe and they should go ahead and port.

Cheers, Neil
I didn't read that that particular port is "targeted" what I constantly read is that whenever someone adds a posts that includes a "missed port" it seems always to be Costa Maya. No other port is so consistently "missed".

It may all be tropical weather but different areas of the land mass will be affected differently by huge waves. If the port is in a bit of a cove or has some other natural buffer, the waves are lessened by the time they get to the dock. However, if the dock is at the right place on a land mass and there is nothing to lessen the power of the waves, well . . . you end up with Costa Maya.

Also, it is a relative new port and if a captain is not comfortable with docking, he makes the executive decisions to skip it. Plus, if a port day is turned into a sea day, the ship makes up most?, all?, more than? their lost revenue on sea day activities. For a port like Costa Maya, little revenue, if any, is lost.
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Upcoming Cruzes
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Past Cruzes: RCCL Navigator, RCCL Majesty, CCL Destiny,
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Old 06-11-2007, 02:15 PM
 
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If one day you get a chance, Costa Maya is a very young port but when the ocean is peaceful the water is absolutely stunning. I took the Mayan tour and was literally amazed at the ambition that the tour guides have down there. Word of advice. DON'T EAT THE FRESH PINEAPPLE THAT THEY OFFER YOU AS A SNACK!!! The water used to irrigate the crops is not quite up to our standards. Many people became ill after the excursion.
 
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