Dancing on the Magic
Written by Rick Archer
Our group of 180
passengers returned from a very successful trip this past
Sunday. Naturally a lot of people have been curious to know
how the Late Night dancing issue was resolved.
In the week
before our SSQQ Travel group’s departure on the Carnival
Magic, I sent out two newsletter articles detailing the
problems Marla was having getting Carnival to give us
permission to continue our tradition of Late Night dancing.
If you would like
to review this story, please visit
Storm Clouds over the Magic.
As it turned out,
our group was permitted to dance until 1:30 am every night
of the trip. Indeed, the Late Night dancing was a bigger
hit on this trip than ever before.
We had large
crowds of people dancing every night. Sometimes we had as
many as 80 people participating. The
pictures should give you a pretty good idea that we
had a terrific time.
Storm Clouds Threaten the
If you recall my
previous article, Marla spent EIGHT MONTHS trying to get
Carnival to give us permission to dance late at night. This
seemed like a no-brainer request considering that the entire
ship is deserted at this hour and that Carnival had allowed
us to do so for the previous five years.
continued to insist that our only choice was to dance on a
room covered with carpet.
absurdity of being told to go dance on a carpet when there
were four perfectly good dance floors not in use at the time
was an insult to our intelligence. I will never forget the
guy who wrote “many people have danced on the carpet and had
a wonderful time!!”
In the week
leading up to the cruise, several women within our group
tried themselves without success to talk some sense into
Carnival. I am sure these ladies
were just as shocked as Marla was that Carnival refused to
budge an inch.
drama was more than Marla and I could take. As we drove
down to Galveston on the day of the trip, I was so tense I
was ready to explode. I was almost certain we were going to
run into serious problems with Carnival.
As it turned out, we
had no problems at all. So
I can tell you
what happened, but I am not sure what happened. How’s that
Our group was
scheduled to have a free cocktail dance party in the Vibe
Disco at 6 pm on the first night of our trip. Marla and I
got there early to set up our music equipment.
All groups as
large as ours are assigned an onboard representative. I am
not sure what I can say about our representative without
getting her in trouble, but basically this woman solved our
problem without any hassle whatsoever.
I never said a
word to her other than to ask
where the power outlet was.
During the party
– a very successful party I might add – Marla told this
woman there was something she needed to speak with her
about. The woman nodded, so they went over into a corner.
Marla asked the
woman if she knew about the decision not to allow us to
dance late night. The woman nodded and said that she knew
all about it.
The woman said
Late Night dancing would be permitted in the Ocean Plaza
that night after the band quit playing. The woman said the
Hotel Director did not need to know and that we wouldn’t be
was shocked. She had asked for the Ocean Plaza many times
As it turned out,
the following night Ocean Plaza was busy with karaoke, so we
moved into the Lobby downstairs. We stayed there for the
rest of the trip and had a ball.
biggest objection to letting us dance was our music. First
of all, they were worried that we would have loud rap music
playing. Second, they were worried that our music would be
too loud and it would awaken guests sleeping in cabins
So they monitored
our activities throughout the trip. One night Marla looked
up and saw three officers in white staring at our dancing
from an upper level. One of them got on their walkie
talkie. Marla had that sinking feeling.
Within a minute,
our representative showed up to talk to them. Marla was
sure we were in trouble. However, nothing happened.
they were just checking to see if we had permission or not.
Who knows what our representative said?? But whatever she
said, they left us alone.
I saw ship’s
officers watching us on two occasions myself. They
definitely knew we were there. One night one of the
officers even asked us to turn down the music.
So how loud was
our music? I actually took the time to study the issue.
The Lobby is on
Level 3. It has no ceiling. If you look up, you can see
all the way up to Level 10, the top of the ship.
The way the ship
is designed, you can hear the music all the way up to Level
10 if you go to the railing and look down below. But up
above, the music disappears once you take a step back from
the railing. Levels 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10
were all safe from noise.
The only areas
that might be affected by our music would be the levels
closest to Level 3. However, since there are no
cabins on Level 3, Level 4, or Level 5 (just shops),
the only possible set of cabins
that might be affected were on Level 2 below us. So the
first night we set up in the Lobby, I went downstairs. To
my surprise, I could hear the music in the elevator area.
However, the moment I took a step into either long hallway,
the music disappeared.
For good measure,
I asked two people who were not in their cabins to comment.
Both people said they could not hear the music. I concluded
we would have to do something ridiculous to pose a realistic
problem with our noise level.
As it turned out,
our Late Night dancing was popular not just with us, but
with all the guests. We were joined by outsiders who wanted
to dance with us practically every night. I was amused by
three elderly ladies from Brownwood who did line dances to
our music over in the corner practically every night. They
were very sweet.
We did so much
dancing that I ended up teaching someone every night of the
week. If someone struggled while I danced with them, I would
ask if they wanted some help. Every single person I asked
accepted my help on the spot.
I helped one
woman learn to count West Coast Swing. I showed another
woman how to Night Club. I showed a third woman where she
needed to do a triple step to make the timing work. I
taught a woman how to Twostep. I taught a woman how to
Polka. I taught a woman how to dance East Coast Swing. I
showed two woman the basics of West Coast Swing and a third
woman how to Salsa.
I was happy to
help. These people were so enthusiastic about how much fun
the different types of dancing were, I would do anything to
make it easier for them to participate. It was a very
gratifying experience for me, but a little bittersweet at
the same time because it reminded me how much I miss
teaching dance on a regular basis.
I need to do
something about that situation, but that’s another story
for another time.
So what made
Carnival change its mind?????
Everything I say is guesswork.
there were two Hotel Directors.
The first Hotel
Director was the one who kept saying no for eight months.
However, just days before our trip was to begin, Marla
noticed there was a new Hotel Director on board the ship.
The Grinch was gone. However, when several ladies attempted
to email Carnival executives to ask them to relent, they got
refusal to bend really had Marla and I convinced they
weren’t going to budge for anything. If I were a betting
man, I would have placed my money on “No dancing”.
But to my
surprise, right from the start, the representative on board
the ship gave us permission to dance without any fuss. What
Now this is just
conjecture, but I don’t think the people aboard the Magic
really cared if we danced or not. What they did not want
to do was give us permission in writing.
As the Penn State-Sandusky story made clear, anything you
say in an email can come back to bite you.
I believe there
is some sort of corporate policy in effect here against
letting people dance or play music in public areas.
So they didn’t
really mind letting us dance just as long as they didn’t
have to give written permission. That meant someone had to
stick their neck out to verbally give us permission dance.
So who stuck
their neck out?
Was it our
representative? I doubt it.
What I think
happened is that our representative was told to go check us
out at the Cocktail Party. If we passed muster, then she
had the authority to green light us.
I doubt she acted
on her own. I doubt that any person would actually give us
permission to dance behind the Hotel Director’s back. This
woman could get fired for that. So I believe the
representative said what she said (“Hotel Director does not
need to know”) to protect the new Hotel Director.
In other words, I
am guessing the Hotel Director decided to let us dance if we
checked out, but he didn’t want his fingerprints to show.
Mind you, that is strictly my guess.
Of course Marla
and I were thrilled at this good news. Our group was
excited as well. Lots of people danced way into the night.
Friendships were renewed, romances were kindled. It was all
But I wasn’t
happy. I carried a sense of deep sadness with me throughout
Carnival is Slipping
I have to tell
you something – until this trip, I liked Carnival. I had
grown accustomed to their Conquest ship. I was perfectly
happy returning to the ship each year for five years. The
Magic had even better facilities. Had the people in Miami
even whispered over the phone that this was all an act to
avoid giving email permission, we would have never left this
Armed with the
knowledge that Marla had pulled the plug on Carnival and
switched to Royal Caribbean even before the trip started, I
could not help but obsess on the destructive corporate
culture that had led to this bone-headed situation.
All they had to
do to keep our business was show the same respect they had
for the previous five years. Instead Carnival practically
shoved us out the door. This Late Night dancing issue was
just the tip of the iceberg. As Marla can explain better,
there are all sorts of things wrong with this organization.
She has seen many disturbing changes.
I doubt our group
will return to Carnival any time soon. I think people are
going to be so pleased with the Royal Caribbean Mariner (April
2013) that any sadness over
switching away from Carnival will dissipate quickly.
When we docked in
Nassau, there were five cruise ships. Four of them belonged
to Carnival. It was impressive to see all those giant
monster ships lined up side by side.
And yet it was
depressing to see just how powerful this company was and
realize it might be so vulnerable if they don’t get their
Thanks to events
like Costa Concordia and the Carnival Splendor incidents, in
the court of public opinion, Carnival is getting hammered on
I can’t help but
wonder if all these mysterious changes in attitude and
policy are related to a beleaguered organization scared to
death that its profits are continuing to plummet.
failure to communicate properly cost this company our
$175,000 business account. Even more painful is the thought
that our money and loyalty will walk right over to Royal
terminology, that is like a Red Zone interception that gets
run back for a touchdown to create a 14-point turnaround.
Maybe Carnival is
so big and powerful it can afford to make mistakes like
that, but I wouldn’t be surprised if their insensitive
corporate culture is creating similar problems for other
travel agents as well.
Even Fun Fun Fun
Carnival can’t keep filling up ships if it keeps treating
its customers the way it treated Marla.
It is bizarre to
see such a magnificent company shoot itself in the foot like
it did with us. If just one person with common sense had
stood up for us, we would have never left this cruise line.
The entire story
of the communication breakdown made so little sense that I
actually felt sorry for Carnival throughout the entire
What makes this
story really strange is that on the last night of the trip,
we had a very incident that by coincidence was also created
by a failure to communicate.
As anyone who has
read my stories know, I am deeply superstitious when it
comes to coincidences. In my mind, surely there has to be
a lesson here.
The Showdown in the Spotlight
was a bitter confrontation that took place at Midnight in the
Spotlight Lounge on the final night of the trip. The date was
Saturday, October 20th, and the time was 11:59 pm.
I am sorry to say I was
one of the participants. I regret that the incident spoiled an
otherwise perfect trip for the entire group.
There were approximately
50 people in the room when the attack began, but I am the only
person who knows my side of the story. Even Marla had no idea what
was going on until I explained it to her later that night.
Most people were either
sitting down across the floor or still out on the dance floor when
the feathers started to fly. Only a handful of people were close
enough to see the argument, but even they had no idea why I was
As one woman told me, the
sight was so bizarre that she assumed it had to be a joke. Surely
we were just playing.
However, as the intensity
rose, people saw two men arguing vehemently face to face, chest to
chest. At this point, people were shocked at the intensity.
Since no one had any idea
what caused this altercation, people were left with a highly
ambiguous situation that was wide open for interpretation.
During the ensuing
argument, this man threatened to hurt my wife’s business any way he
possibly could. As a result of his threats, I now feel I have no
choice but to take the issue public and present my side of the
I think I have a valid reason to set the record straight.