My wife and I were on the Carnival Liberty cruise out of Miami on April 28th. We had a few bad experiences, one totally unacceptable experience, but enough positives to make us look forward to our next Carnival cruise.
The trip started off with a flight from Baltimore to Ft. Lauderdale. On the way, I dozed off while holding a hot cup of coffee. The second degree burn on my tummy woke me up much better than drinking the cup of coffee would have. This was bad thing #1 -- obviously this wasn't Carnivals fault, but it set the stage for the next bad thing.
The transfer from the Ft. Lauderdale airport to the port of Miami went without a hitch. We arrived in the port at about 10:30 and as we pulled in we noticed the line for embarkment went out the door and down the block with nearly 1000 people waiting in it (I didn't count, but it was a whole lot of people). It took us over 3 hours to actually get on the ship. Carnival blamed it on customs, but we found out later that the liberty was late returning to port, the customs agents had moved on to check in another cruise ship, and the people on the previous cruise could not debark until the customs people could clear the boat. With a burnt belly, my tolerance at having to wait in line and in a big room with no air-conditioning, before finally getting on the boat, was really low. This was bad thing #2 (and I noted something similar happened to an earlier cruise in a previous review).
Because we had to wait so long to get on the ship, our cabin was ready for us. Since all we do is sleep, change clothes, and shower in the cabin, we always take an inside, mid-ship, cabin, and this time was no exception. This is where our first good thing happened -- wet met our cabin steward (Wayan). He greeted us by name, gave us a tour of the cabin (it didn't take too long). Throughout the cruise, he made sure that everything we needed (as far as the room went) was perfect. We had room service delivered one afternoon (BLT with extra chips) and the next time we saw him, he asked if the room service was satisfactory, even asking specifically about the sandwich.
After dropping our stuff off in the cabin, we went up to the lido deck to grab something to eat (the last time we ate was in Baltimore) where we discovered good thing number 2... Guy's Burgers. WOW!!! Perfectly done, a condiment bar with every possible topping for a burger. My only complaint is that it was open only for a couple of hours every afternoon -- A late night burger would have been a nice treat. (Carnival -- if you're reading this - hint hint).
Now we get to the completely unacceptable experience. At dinner that evening we met our server -- Robert -- He was rude, ignored us, and food took forever to get to us. The first evening we were at our table precisely at 6:00, we were seated, and 15 minutes later our order was taken. At 6:45 we got our appetizers, and at 7:30 we got our dinner. Dessert came at 8:00 and we had to leave the table before the 8:15 seating. We skipped dinner the next evening, but tried one more time (everyone deserves a bad day). If possible, this dinner was much worse. I don't expect 5-star service, but I expect at least the same level of service I would expect at any Denny's. We didn't eat in the dining room for the rest of the cruise and we visited the pursers desk and adjusted our tips accordingly.
The rest of the cruise went pretty well. The high point for us was visiting the Bacardi factory in San Juan. Our guide (Marko) was a gem. His love for Puerto Rico, knowledge of its history and culture, and sense of humor made the entire tour one worth repeating -- we came away with an appreciation for Puerto Rico and its people.
Debarkation was quick and easy. Our Transfer bus broke down on the way back to the airport, but another bus was sent to pick us up with only a minimal delay.
We've already booked our next Carnival Cruise on the new Carnival ship -- the Breeze, leaving out of Miami on December 8th. Hope to see some of you there.