Members of a Scotland-based church congregation clashed with a Carnival cruise ship DJ, who they claim ruined their trip when he refused to stop playing music by R. Kelly. Unsatisfied with the company’s response to the incident, the group’s reverend has now filed an official complaint.
The Rev. Teri Peterson told The Scotsman that she and several other members of the Church of Scotland were aboard the Carnival Magic liner cruising through Miami when they heard Kelly’s music coming from the ship’s nightclub. Outraged, she and her friends approached the DJ and asked him to turn it off “because of everything surrounding the singer.”
Kelly has been the subject of sexual abuse allegations for many years. a song released in January by R. Kelly admitting his wrongs, shined a renewed spotlight on the performer’s alleged transgressions, prompting new calls for boycotts and criminal investigations.
When asked by the church group members to stop playing Kelly’s songs, the DJ “refused and then began singing and dancing along and mocking us,” Peterson said. Then when the women ran into the DJ in a different part of the cruise ship, she said, he made fun of them again.
The women were on the ship with fellow members of RevGalBlogPals, an international online community for clergywomen, for which Peterson is an office bearer. Peterson said that once she returned home, she spent five days emailing the company and even communicated her gripes in meetings with the cruise ship’s management.
The cruise ship staff offered her a $100 onboard credit, she said, but no apology. They also sent a letter to the congregation, which read:
“We have clear guidelines for music that is played in our public lounges. Some latitude is extended to the DJs in our nightclubs in order to accommodate the preferences of all of our guests. All music that is played is ‘radio version’ recordings of popular music that is edited for offensive language. With regard to the incident on Carnival Magic, we counseled the DJ and the entertainment team to be respectful of your concerns as you clearly felt that they were not.”
“We had a small group of guests who took issue with two songs that our DJ was playing in a nightclub well after midnight,” the spokesperson said. “While we only play radio versions of popular music that have been sanitized so that offensive language has been removed, we do not make a habit of banning music as we have a broad cross-section of guests.
Our shipboard team listened to the concerns of these guests and provided a goodwill gesture. We are proud of the many ways we’ve been recognized for our commitment to diversity and inclusion and every day we work to make sure our guests and crew feel welcome and part of the Carnival family. We’re sorry this group feels otherwise.”
But Peterson is still holding out for a resolution. “They had so many chances to do better and do the right thing, but they made it worse,” she said. “We want Carnival to first of all apologize for a significant customer service failure and to make sure that there are better choices in their music and entertainment lineup. Also to update their training so that this doesn’t happen to anyone else.”