After the crush of the holiday season, thoughts of getting away from it all might sound attractive. But don't expect a vacation cruise to deliver a break from angry political rhetoric. Carnival Cruise Lines' recent ban on “offensive” clothing sparked a debate as heated as any cable talk show throw-down.
The new policy states: “All guests are expected to ensure their clothing and accessories are respectful to fellow guests. Specifically, items worn during the cruise should not contain any message that may be considered offensive or contain nudity, profanity, sexual innuendo/suggestions. In addition, clothing/accessories should not promote negative ethnic or racial commentary, or hatred or violence in any form.”
Carnival spokesman Vance Gulliksen said the policy was prompted by media reports of “other travel sectors where customers were wearing clothing with very threatening messages.” In October, a United Airlines passenger objected to another passenger's T-shirt suggesting journalists should be lynched. The airline did not remove the passenger, but later posted: “We condemn the statements made against journalists.”
Carnival's senior cruise director, John Heald, asked his 270,000-plus Facebook followers what they thought of the new policy. While 93% approved, some commenters were not happy. One asked whether the ban included clothing bearing the Confederate battle flag.
“To some it is racism, to others it is heritage,” wrote Mike Bryant. And Melanie Swift Guin pledged to wear a T-shirt adorned with President Donald Trump wearing an American flag bandanna and dark sunglasses, prompting Julie Brindle to write, “It's not offensive. It's ugly.”
Enforcement will be the sticking point, the cruise website cruiseradio.net predicted.
“Imagine being the crew members whose job it is to tell the very large, muscular man – who has been enjoying his [unlimited drinks] package all afternoon – that a fellow passenger has taken offense to his T-shirt, and could he please change out of it immediately?”