Carnival Cruise Line supports a popular cruise tradition

Cruise ships have traditions that newer passengers may not know about. 

There’s a set of unwritten laws that more experienced cruisers have slowly learned over the years.  

Most situations are silly: Some people get angry when a cruiser dresses more casually than the cruise line’s dress code calls for, while others get mad when people put towels on seats to save them and then disappear for hours.

Related: Carnival Cruise Line shares a key health and wellness warning

Other traditions are even less controversial, like the emerging culture of people hiding rubber ducks on ships. That’s a harmless pastime that many families seem to enjoy — and a select few people get angry about it because it’s not part of the official program.

Another long-held cruise tradition is cheering on the folks known as the pier runners. These are people who, for whatever reasons, arrive back to the ship late from a stop in a port. They then have to run for the ship, which may not wait for them if they miss the scheduled all-aboard time.

People on the ship generally hoot and holler as the pier runners race back to the ship. Most passengers see that as a harmless tradition, but Carnival Brand Ambassador John Heald notes that some passengers do not like this practice.

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It’s very important to get back to the ship at the correct time.

Image source: Dan Kline/Come Cruise With Me

Carnival won’t stop cheering for pier runners 

Heald discussed a message he received from someone who seemed quite angry at the tradition of people cheering on pier runners. 

“It is always fascinating when people get upset with the ship and then with me because they were late back and were applauded and cheered as they entered the Pier Runners Society,” he wrote. “It must feel awful, but when you’re late back to the ship because you ‘lost track of time.’ It really is not feasible for us to tell the thousands of other guests please don’t applaud. Please don’t cheer.”

Heald later posted a joke that contained a link to the theme song from the movie “Chariots of Fire.”

“Starting immediately, the beards have announced that if there are any ‘pier runners’ who are late back to the ship that this music will be played over the public address system across the whole ship,” he posted.

Heald’s reference to “the beards” is his broad term for the company’s executives.

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Carnival passengers share ‘pier runner’ thoughts

Most of his Facebook followers understood that Heald was kidding, but some said that they had been on ships where the cruise director and other staff got involved in cheering on pier runners.

“I have been the pier runner…about 5 yrs ago and they DID play this,” shared Angela Masi Emerson. “I was with the Carnival Shopping Guide finishing up a purchase at DI in Cozumel. They took a bit longer to finish my ring than anticipated. The guide promised me the ship would not leave without him…and as such, would not leave without me. The CD, Fun Squad, and many others cheered us on as ‘Chariots of Fire’ played over the ships PA system.

Cruise ships generally wait only for passengers who are on a cruise-line-sponsored excursion. The exact times the doors close, however, can be delayed for other reasons. That’s why pier runners sometimes make it back on the ship even if they are late.

Many of the more than 900 responses to Heald’s post about the song were not sympathetic to people being late getting back to the ship.

“I am not one who bothers to lean over the rail and mock pier runners, but I am not generally sympathetic. Nearly all the stories I hear are entirely the fault of the late passengers,” wrote John R. Crilly.

Some, however, were upset at Heald’s post, and he posted again to tamp down the anger.

“To everyone who was upset, it was a joke. We are really not going to be playing music over the PA system when people run down the pier. And no, it is not disrespectful or degrading, and no, I won’t resign. It was a joke, it was silliness. It was humour,” he wrote.

Related: Get the best cruise tips, deals, and news on the ships from our expert cruiser


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