Lately, I’ve really been enjoying reading and following the blog of John Heald. John is the senior cruise director at Carnival Cruise Lines. He is also very active on Facebook. If you’re addicted to cruising like I am, check him out. Even if you’re not a fan of Carnival, you’ll learn a lot about cruises, the industry and the opinions of your fellow travelers.
That last part— the opinions of your fellow travelers— that’s the most interesting part.
John answers questions from folks that have had issues or bad experiences… and it is so very amusing to me the little things that happen and people actually allow these little things to ruin their vacation.
For example, one gentleman complained that the complimentary fruit basket that was sent to his room didn’t come with a knife. Now, if you’ve been on a cruise, you know that one would have several options to fix this small issue. Dining room, buffet, room service, specialty restaurants— there would be access to a knife at any of these.
Another woman said that because Carnival had discontinued the practice of giving away temporary tattoos to children that her vacation experience was completely shattered! Her kids cried “real tears,” according to this poor, distraught housewife. I’m sorry. But if your kids are going to throw a shit-fit over temporary tattoos, something tells me they haven’t been raised properly.
And then there are those that troll John’s Facebook, seemingly with the sole mission of bating others into arguing by dismissing Carnival’s customers as “classless.” This seems to be quite the pastime on other cruise lines, as well. For instance, I sailed with Royal Caribbean last year. During the muster drill, a gentleman near me said, “well, if you like traveling with drunk truck drivers, Carnival is the way to go!” Granted, this is the same sailing that nearly every fellow traveler I met was obsessed with their (and everyone else’s) loyalty club status. I don’t know how many times I heard, “well, I’m a Pinnacle member!” My response? I’m a Sam’s Club member!
I’ve traveled with Carnival, Princess, Norwegian, Costa, Royal Caribbean and Celebrity. Let me say this: there are different types of people on any cruise line. But I find that the crowd differs more based on where your ship departs from, not which cruise line you are traveling. And for those that claim Carnival attracts a low-class crowd because they’re “cheap”: I’ve gotten just as good of deals on every other cruise line mentioned— you just have to dig (and have a few connections!). My favorite cruise remains the one I took with Celebrity. There was just a focus on customer service that shined like nothing I’ve ever seen. If I ever again feel the need to be pampered and treated like royalty, I’ll spring for Celebrity again. But Carnival is where my loyalty lies because of the purely FUN atmosphere that they present.
Now that I’ve breathlessly presented you with my cruising history, let me get to the point of this article… Mr. Heald is currently working on the Carnival Breeze. Of about 4,000 passengers on this sailing, 500 of them are kids. John assumes that some of these kids are home-schooled, but obviously some have been taken out of school to enjoy this vacation. John is from the UK and he says that parents can actually be fined for removing their children from school for a vacation.
This revelation stirred up some discussion immediately. Some folks pointed out that more schools in the US are turning to year-round schedules, with 9 weeks on and 3 weeks off. Take a look at some of the comments:
Personally, I see no problem with removing your child from school for a week to partake in a vacation with their family. When I was young, my parents took me out of school several times to accompany them on trips to Florida or cruises. My father was older and retired, so in order for him to enjoy retirement and spend time with me and my mom, it was a necessary thing to do. And you know what? I think I learned more from the experiences in traveling than I would have sitting in that 3rd, 4th or 5th grade classroom.
I know for a 100% fact that these trips with my parents affected my life more than elementary math class. My passion is travel. I’ve been a flight attendant for nearly 9 years. I live for taking trips, meeting new people and experiencing new things. None of this would have been sparked in my mind if it hadn’t been for my parents including me in their travels.
In fact, one of my favorite stories about my mother stemmed from one of these vacations. Now, before I tell you this, isn’t it weird the things that we remember from childhood? I was in 4th grade and my parents took me out of school for one week. We drove to Florida, visiting relatives in Georgia, continuing on to Disney and Cape Canaveral where we took the NASA tour before making the drive to Key West and then back up the West Coast of the State. Did I have fun? Yes. Did I learn a lot, too? Yes.
When I returned to school, a week went by and I turned in all of my homework assignments and I was getting into a normal routine. Then a classmate of mine, Erik, was being pulled out of school for a Thursday and Friday. His parents were taking him to Chicago to tour the museums for a long weekend. My teacher, the infamously cranky Ms. Verda Buck, looked right at me and pronounced to the class that Erik’s family, “aren’t the type of parents that would take him out of school for a family, fun vacation!”
Well, drama-starter and loudmouth that I am, I marched right home and told my mother. Conveniently, the following week were parent/teacher conferences. And I had the pleasure of going along to see the shit-show. My mother called Ms. Buck out on the whole thing— and Ms. Buck was speechless with no way to defend her mouth. I’ve never been so proud of my mother. Yes, the last couple months of school were brutal— but to see the look on Buck’s face was worth it all.
What do you think? Is it OK to remove your kids from school for a week for a vacation? What about the UK fining parents for doing so? How about Pennsylvania’s policy of requiring it to be approved by the school board? I’m curious to hear what you think.
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