Tag: "Carnival"

Reader question: Anyone been to Barranquilla, Colombia? Carnival in Colombia?

Reader question: I was invited to join 3 others in traveling to Cartagena for 1 night and driving 2 hours to Barranquilla for a three night stay – during Colombia’s Carnival. Has anyone been to Colombia (Cartagena or Barranquilla)and/or the Carnival? I have done a lot of research online the past few days and I’m left both excited with this once in a lifetime trip opportunity – but also nervous due the stories of crime and all things that are related to Colombia.

I understand that the country has gotten a lot more safe for tourism in the last 10 years and if we don’t walk around like Lavar Ball’s Big Ballers – the odds are in our favor of us being left alone. I would be traveling with 3 other American’s all 30 years old. We’ve been all over Europe together and enjoy getting wild but understand this is a third world country and not a quick trip to Amsterdam or Dublin.

I’ve come here before and I got great insight before a few of my backpacking trips through Europe so I was hoping for some helpful comments again.

Answer 1: I had a client come in today who recently returned from a trip to Columbia. He is in his 70s and went with his wife and another couple. He raves about the trip and said he never felt unsafe. Accommodations were reasonable and he said dinners were very inexpensive. He enjoyed the experience.

Answer 2: It’s as safe as any other place. Just keep your head about you and just have fun. Don’t be the ugly Americans over there either thinking you can just party and be drunk and obnoxious over there (not saying you are). Be respectful, have fun, don’t try to buy “illegal” drugs over there. Just keep it straight and you should be good.

Sometimes American men get in trouble: Not sure about your marital situations but if you’re looking to pick up girls it can be rather easy. You’re Americans. They think we are millionaires. And to them you are because you’ll see how far an american dollar can take you. But be respectful. Don’t be like the secret service guys that went there a few years ago and not pay what you owe.

Answer 3: The food is great, get ready to dance if you’re going out to party..doesn’t matter if you’re not good. Don’t be stupid either, some women over there will hustle you bone dry if you let them. So keep your head about you and you’ll be fine.

Answer 4: Little tip…don’t bring cash with you. Pull it out of the ATM once you’re there. Reason is if you bring cash then you gotta pay taxes on it. When you use an ATM NEVER use it alone. Make sure your buddies are around you covering. When you punch the numbers in they usually have a metal keypad. After you punch in your pin rub the entire key pad with your fingers. Why? Cuz guys over there have figured out to get heat readings off the keypad once you’re done using it. The hottest keys are the ones you just pressed. So just rub the whole keypad when you’re done and make sure you have your guys blocking the view. Also take out the max which I think is like 300,000 pesos…which is like 150 bucks.

Answer 5: I’ve been to Medellin, Bogota and then the small towns where my family is from. But yeah it can be a fun place, the women there are gorgeous, the city where you’re going is gorgeous. Old colonial type. Food is awesome. Their pizzas and hamburgers are not like the ones here. So don’t expect Italian type pizzas. That can shock some people when they bite into it. Beware of the Aguardiente! A vodka looking shot drink that is basically fire water.

Should Carnival pay for the money the US Coast Guard spent rescuing the Triumph cruise ship?

Carnival Corp. says it won’t help the US Coast Guard, even though American taxpayers spent about $780,000 rescuing the Triumph. Carnival’s excuse is that all maritime interests must assist without question those in trouble at sea.

U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, a West Virginia Democrat who chairs the Senate Commerce Committee takes the easy political stance – the big evil corporation should pay or else, “These costs must ultimately be borne by federal taxpayers.” He adds that Carnival appears to pay little or no federal income taxes.

Carnival says its policy is to “honor maritime tradition that holds that the duty to render assistance at sea to those in need is a universal obligation of the entire maritime community.” Carnival claims it frequently aids in rescues at the Coast Guard’s request, including 11 times in the past year in Florida and Caribbean waters.

I suppose Carnival thinks it’s fair. The US Coast Guard doesn’t pay Carnival when the cruise line helps out, so why should the cruise line pay the Coast Guard for any help? On the other hand, Carnival’s ships are not US flagged – CNN said that the Carnival Triumph sails under a Bahamian flag. Is the US required to provide assistance? Sure. Is the US required to provide free assistance to non-US vessels? Maybe not.

The other point worth making is that public opinion is the only leverage the US can really hope for in this case. Clearly the Coast Guard had no choice but to come to the rescue of so many American citizens. Though perhaps next time, they should rescue the people and leave the ship to drift around the ocean. If my car breaks down, I don’t expect a free tow. Why should a huge money-making corporation expect a free tow when their ships break down?

By the way, does anyone know if carnival did anything nice for their employees from the Triumph?

What will Carnival do for their crew members from the Triumph?

As I was reading this article about how bad the passengers had it on the cruise, I kept thinking to myself it had to be much worse for the crew. We get a few lines down a ways in the article:

David Glocker, of Jacksonville, Fla., praised the crew’s efforts to help passengers and recognized the conditions for them were worse than for most passengers because their quarters were on the lowest part of the ship.

“The conditions down there were horrible. They all had to wear masks,” he said. “They worked their butts off trying to get us food.”

I’m sure many will begin debating what Carnival can do make things right. They have offered refunds, another Carnival trip, transportation costs home, and $500 compensation.

But those gestures may not be enough. Less than 24 hours after the boat docked, the first lawsuit was filed against Carnival Corp. by passenger Cassie Terry, who said she feared for her life and worried about falling seriously ill from the raw sewage and spoiled food. Her complaint seeks unspecified damages.

I get that it was bad and as an American, our first insitnct is to sue. And maybe carnival deserves to get sued if they did things wrong or whatever. But I wonder if any crew members want to sue. I wonder what Carnival will do for their crew, the workers who had it much worse than the passengers. They couldn’t sleep on deck, where the smell wasn’t as bad – they were way down there where the smell was probably worst. And they had to work. Who knows how well they ate but if passengers didn’t have much to eat it’s hard to believe the crew had it any better.

And right now, the crew have no work to do – the Triumph is out of action for a while. Will Carnival give them paid vacation so the crew can go home and visit family during the downtime? Maybe pay for their trips home like the passengers get? Maybe a bonus like the 500 bucks the passengers get? Or do the crew get nothing and lose income since they aren’t working at the moment?

What do you think Carnival will do? What do you think they should do?