Carnival Conversations – Tampa

After a quick two days at home following our time in Ohio and DC, we drove down to Florida yesterday to bring our daughter back for her second year of college at Eckerd. While move-in day isn’t until tomorrow, my wife noticed a few weeks ago that Carnival was doing one of their Carnival Conversations events on board the Paradise today, and really wanted to attend it. While these events are held on board a ship that’s getting ready to depart, just like the ship inspections we’ve done, this is nothing like the tours.

So what is it? Well, simply put, it’s a chance to hear from and ask questions of Carnival’s senior management. For today’s event, the main speaker was Christine Duffy, President of Carnival Cruise Lines. We’d never been to one of these events before, and since we were going to be in the area anyway, it seemed like a good opportunity to see what they were about, and to hear from the line’s leadership.

The itinerary for the event was pretty simple, but didn’t allow for any time to tour the ship, so there will be far fewer pictures in this post than the last :).

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When we got to the Queen Mary Lounge, we grabbed a seat next to a couple other agents and chatted with them for a bit before Mike Julius, Managing Director of US Sales got up to kick things off. He started off by introducing us to Seth Grunes, the Tampa area Business Development Manager, who gave us a quick update on Carnival, including a brief overview of their newest ship, The Vista. Jen’s been paying attention to all of Carnival’s announcements about the ship, she she was already up to speed on it, but having a full time job to focus on, I didn’t know a heck of a lot about it. I enjoyed getting to see what’s coming, and I have to say that I completely understand her excitement about the ship and desire to sail it. Those Havana suites sound amazing!

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Next up was Christine, who spent a few minutes giving us an update on the line, and other business info specific to their travel partners (us). Having come up through the agency ranks, she’s in a unique position to make positive changes to the way Carnival works with their partners. Here’s hoping it happens!

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After that, a panel of Carnival execs, including Christine, gathered on stage listening to agent feedback and answering our questions. There’s not really much to say from this, as the discussion all centered around way Carnival can change to better allow agents to serve our customers when it comes to Carnival cruises. We’re both fans of the Carnival brand, having thoroughly enjoyed three straight Thanksgiving cruises on their ships, and the discussion today was validation of our trust in their product.

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Following the panel discussion was lunch, so we all headed to the Destiny dining room. The menu was identical to what we had on our tour of the Fantasy back in May, so I won’t waste space repeating the same food pictures in that post. While I would have liked another Guy’s burger, the food was excellent, and we did get to enjoy one of my favorite things, the warm chocolate melting cake, which is a must-have if you’re on any Carnival ship.

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Near the end of lunch they did a few giveaways, including a couple of free cruises, but we unfortunately didn’t win. Oh well, but congratulations to those who did win, we’re totally jealous!

Lunch ended right about the time we had to get off (the boat was getting ready to head out for an actual cruise, after all :)), so we headed back down the gangway, out the terminal, and back to our temporary home for the weekend.

Once again, I’d like to thank Carnival for their hospitality, including all the executives for making themselves available to us for a couple of hours, and to our dining room staff, who I’m sure could have used the break between sailings to rest a bit. One of the best crews at sea, for sure!

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