After being stuck on land for 15 months, cruise lovers are finally able to set sail again. And while that’s been cause for celebration in most corners, another aspect of cruising has come roaring back as well… complaints, often about things that — after what the industry’s been through — seem downright petty.
People Are Upset About… Popcorn?
One of the latest controversies to hit might as well be dubbed “Popcorngate.” Because as insane as it sounds, some Carnival Cruise Line passengers have become downright irate over the fact that they are now charging $3 for the tasty popped kernels. Soon after, message boards (and Brand Ambassador John Heald’s Facebook page) lit up with people furious at the notion of paying for popcorn before settling in to watch a movie on the Lido Deck.
“This is hard for me to say without sounding obtuse… but for 16 months, we have had no revenue. We’ve had nothing. Zero. And popcorn? Ok, it’s not going to pay the bills but it’s just a little thing that we’re trying. And if people don’t buy it and it goes unused, maybe we’ll re-evalute. I don’t know.”
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Quicker than you could summon the nickle-and-dime crew, people began asking if next Carnival would be charging for ice cream or perhaps Guy’s Burgers. “No, no, no,” insisted Heald. “Please don’t listen to the conspiracy theorists who are wearing a plaid shirt and an old pair of slippers,” adding that people who didn’t want to pay for popcorn had a plethora of free options available to them.
“Hopefully,” he concluded, “it’s not something that will make too many of you upset.”
But of course, there were those who reacted as if they’d just been told that they would be forced to buy the popcorn and at a substantial price. The less civil comments included name calling and the kind of nasty word combinations the authors would probably never say if their identities weren’t hidden behind anonymous profiles.
Similarly, many were upset to hear that room stewards on Carnival Cruise Line would, for the time being, only be servicing rooms once a day. Even being told they could choose between morning and evening service wasn’t enough for some. “This is a game-changer for me,” one commenter wrote on Heald’s page. “Not having the room made up at night and the bed smoothed is just plain wrong.”
What this poster implied was flat-out said by others, who insisted that they would be canceling their future cruises based on this change in service. Worse, no matter how many times Heald insisted this was not being done for financial reasons but rather in conjunction with health and safety protocols to limit the number of times crew members entered passenger staterooms, many refused to believe.
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But let’s think about that for a moment. Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that Carnival was making the change for financial reasons. As Heald pointed out when discussing popcorn, the company has had virtually no income for the past 15 months. Only a handful of ships are sailing, and those that are sailing are doing so at reduced capacity. Would it really be such an egregious affront for Carnival — or any other cruise line — to make changes in order to help them bridge the financial gap created by the industry-wide shutdown?
Cruising has at long last returned, and given what the industry went through, that’s something of a minor miracle. Many of us are thrilled at the idea of getting on a ship, whether it’s next week or next year, and will happily pay a little extra for our stateroom or deal with a few cutbacks if it means that we can at long last get back to the thing we love.
But if there’s one thing we know, it’s that complainers are as much a part of cruising as chair hogs and drinks with umbrellas in them.