By Anita Dunham-Potter Travel columnist
updated 6/11/2009 10:08:46 AM ET 2009-06-11T14:08:46

The Moscoes had high expectations for their Carnival Valor cruise to the Caribbean. The family had saved for years and chose Carnival because of its high reputation for family-friendly cruising — a perfect match as they were bringing their four-year-old daughter. When they reached stateroom 6363 all seemed well until late at night.

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Musical midnight hours
At approximately 9 p.m. each day, the ship’s entertainers would perform their musical acts in the atrium. Unfortunately for the Moscoes, stateroom 6363 happened to be in close proximity to the ship’s 12-story open atrium. “We were kept up by the bands and other activities every night of our cruise until 1 a.m.,” said Gregg Moscoe.

The couple complained to the ship’s staff and demanded to be moved, but the ship was full and there were no other staterooms available. The Moscoes then met with the cruise director and the chief purser who apologized for the inconvenience and offered the family a $900 onboard credit — equivalent to half the family’s cruise fare. Gregg Moscoe was insulted. “We paid over $5,000 for this trip that included airfare and hotel accommodations. Our sleep was ruined for the entire cruise.”

Still incensed after returning home, Moscoe wrote Carnival’s corporate headquarters in Miami stating that the $900 was not enough compensation. Carnival agreed and offered the family another onboard credit of $500 for a future cruise. “That’s unacceptable. This amount is not going to erase a ruined vacation,” said Moscoe.

Moscoe continued writing Carnival appealing for more compensation. However, the cruise line held firm and stated their previous offers were the best they could do. An indignant Moscoe contacted Tripso for help to see if the offer was fair.

Carnival responds
I contacted Carnival to get their side of the story and spoke with spokesperson Vance Gulliksen. While researching the family’s complaint Gulliksen told me the Moscoe’s file was over five pages long. “We document all meetings, phone conversations, visits to the purser’s office and all correspondence through a tracking system that is tied to guest relations,” said Gulliksen.

The report confirmed Gregg Moscoe’s account of the meetings with the cruise director and chief purser. It also noted that since there were no other staterooms available the assistant cruise director adjusted the amplifier of the promenade musician’s amplifier to a lower level. “The musical director also looked into the possibility of moving the musician to different location but there were no other options available,” said Gulliksen.

Interestingly, the report notes that on two occasions guest services dispatched a technician with a decibel meter to monitor the noise in the Moscoe’s stateroom. “Mrs. Moscoe took the meter in the stateroom where the measurement inside the cabin was 62dB, which according to several noise charts, is at the low end of the scale for normal conversation,” he said. Gulliksen notes that stateroom 6363 has never had any complaints of noise before or since the Moscoe’s sailing.

Gulliksen adds, “Although the noise level in the Moscoe’s cabin was deemed to be at acceptable levels, as a gesture of goodwill, Carnival agreed to provide the family with a refund of $921.40 (50 percent of their total cruise fare) which was provided during the cruise. In subsequent correspondence, an additional $500 shipboard credit was offered to the Moscoes. We feel that this compensation is quite fair and equitable under the circumstances.”

Noise on ships
I can certainly sympathize with the Moscoes — my family and I have had a few sleepless nights on cruise ships due to noise issues. Point blank, there is no such thing as a quiet cruise ship. They vibrate, drop anchor, have crew noise, thumping music, but more often than not the worst noise offenders are fellow passengers oblivious to keeping quiet in the vicinity of staterooms.

Over the years I’ve learned to book staterooms away from high traffic areas like atriums, room service pantries, room steward service areas and pool decks and nightclubs. However, my biggest ally in combating travel noise is my iPod Touch loaded with an application called “White Noise”. The application emits numerous sounds to block out noise disturbances. If you don’t have an iTouch or iPhone you can purchase a small sound machine that is just as effective.

In the end, I think Carnival truly tried to work with the Moscoes and I feel their compensation was fair given the circumstances. However, chalk this one up to the old adage that you can’t please everyone. As for the Moscoes, they won’t be cruising again anytime soon.

Sound off! Do you have a comment, an idea, a complaint or a problem for Anita to solve? Send her an e-mail and you might find yourself in her next column. And check out her blog, ExpertCruiser.com.

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