Accidents & Other Crimes

Rose Szsablewski

A Wedding Tragedy

In February 2000, we boarded Carnival Cruise Line’s “Destiny” for a 7-day cruise to the Eastern Caribbean, along with 27 friends and family members. Six additional guests were meeting us in St. Thomas, where we would all be attending and joining in the celebration of my son’s wedding. That ceremony NEVER took place, due to “propulsion” problems with the ship!

Thirty hours into the cruise, the ship stopped dead in the water. At first, we were informed that there would be a ‘delay’, but this statement was retracted… “We can’t fix the problem and we are returning to Miami.”

Carnival reimbursed fares to everyone; however, this excluded all of the wedding expenses that we had incurred…flowers, wedding cake, champagne, food, formalwear, ceremony, and reception costs. They just simply informed us that this was “our loss”.

All of the planning and expenses for the wedding required payment in advance. And since we had no means of communication, while onboard the ‘dead in the water’ ship, all provisions for the wedding were a total loss, and no means for restitution. Additionally, since the marriage license had been issued by the US Virgin Islands, the ceremony could not even take place when we returned to port in Miami.

Now, imagine that this was your wedding day, a day filled with excitement, a joyous occasion that you had planned well in advance (2 years). All of your guests had made arrangements to attend, taking limited time off from their jobs to attend and join in the celebration of your wedding… and yet, there would be no wedding!

Aside from the loss of our expenses, Carnival never so much as extended an apology for the heartache they caused to my son and his wife-to-be, both who were devastated.

When we returned home, we were forced to secure additional flights to return to St. Thomas, in order for the ceremony to take place. All of the previous wedding guests, who had boarded the ill-fated cruise ship, no longer had vacation time available to attend the wedding; therefore, it was virtually just the bride, groom, and their parents in attendance.

For a second time, we were forced to incur the same wedding expenses…. flowers, wedding cake, formalwear, champagne, reception, and ceremony, not to mention the additional costs of flying to St. Thomas.

After the fact, when I presented our case to the Better Business Bureau and our attorney, we were informed that in teeny tiny print at the bottom of our cruise ticket, there was a clause that basically stated…”You cannot hold Carnival Cruise Lines responsible” for anything, including death, injury, personal loss, illness, etc.

So, my words of advice to consumers and future cruise ship passengers are “BUYER BEWARE! This could also happen to you!!”