We've been on 8 cruises now, most of them Carnival, but I'm seriously reconsidering whether we will ever do another Funship experience. Our last cruise was aboard the Magic, which was absolutely fantastic. We also ascribe to the idea that your vacation is what you want to make it. The ship itself was nicely appointed and kept up, however, with frequent wiping down of public areas. It's the management and customer service that were poorly lacking.
This was a highly disappointing cruise, starting with the delayed departure.
We didn't get on the ship until after 1 AM (yes, in the middle of the night), didn't get our bags until 2:30, and didn't leave port until after noon on Monday. Each passenger got a $50 OBC as compensation. Original departure was supposed to be 3PM Sunday. Had we known departure wasn't going to be until nearly midnight or the following day, we would have not incurred the additional expenses associated with arriving a day early. Fortunately, our hotel was able to store our luggage for the afternoon. We arrived at the port with our luggage to go ahead and start the check in process around 6:30 or so and were promptly directed to head somewhere else to sightsee (which we had already done ALL day long due to the extra time) and subsequently to loll around the Westin's ballroom for an indefinite and long period of time. We didn't get anywhere on time all week. Fortunately, we didn't book a flight out on the last day because they had just barely started general debarkation at 10:00. Our 7 day cruise turned into a 6 day one.
Food was never available when you wanted it! What the flip? What gives? If you're looking for something to eat for an early lunch at 11:30, forget it -- there is nothing. There were several times during the day when there seriously was no food available; they can't seem to have any pizza ready either when it is supposed to be 24 hour like the ice cream. One evening, the one open ice cream machine was broken but they couldn't open another one; they were waiting on an electrician to fix it. Huh? Seriously? The Burrito Bar - especially chicken - was probably the best food we had, provided you could hit it at an open time.
This is the first and last time we do Anytime Dining. What another disappointment! It was over- crowded and the service substandard; the tables were far too close together and all they were interested in was moving you through. The first food we were presented with was burnt rolls. We ate in the dining room only one night when we usually do all of them, which also meant we did not order a bottle of wine with dinner every night which equals lost revenue. In general, the food was run of the mill and pretty much always cold with only one buffet line open in the evenings. The Dining room breakfast was at a different time every day so you didn't necessary know if you were going to get to eat there. We arrived at like two minutes to 9:00 as the hostesses were talking about shutting people out -- hurry and move these people on. I had the most disgusting economy Eggs Benedict ever with plain old ham, soggy untoasted English muffin, and curdled yellow something but not Hollandaise sauce. The same food was generally offered in the dining room as was on the buffet, no matter which meal, other than the lobster tail night, and nothing was ever hot. There was not a problem when I had the gratuity charges for dining room staff removed.
Here's how I think the cost-saving measures decisions came down (and I'm just a regular person surmising this.) A consultant is brought on board to determine just where costs can be cut most effectively. Food is a big one! Not surprising. Here are some strategies that were implemented:
- Serve the same food in the dining room as on the buffet. This way we don't have to prepare as many dishes or purchase as many ingredients. That way we also need fewer employees to staff the kitchen. This will also facilitate
- Planned-overs. Don't get me wrong, I'm a big fan of the planned-overs at home, but it is obvious that the previous day's vegetables are used in salads and serving sized chunks of meats are sliced thin and sauced up for the lunch buffet. Pretty much the same sides were served each day on the buffet line, probably until they ran out and anything left on Saturday night was trashed.
- Oh -- be sure to have as few food lines as possible open. Because even if is substandard and reminded me of what we were served on a Costa ship in the Caribbean market, people are still going to be looking for something to eat. Eventually, they'll quit looking so much when it's simply not there to be accessible. The result will be that people eat less.
- And then let's use that miracle slicer gadget on all the fresh veggies like carrots. Sure does stretch them so far fewer are consumed. We normally have an hors d'oevres tray for Sailaway in the evening with veggie sticks, dressing, chunks of cheese and meats, but the meat and cheese situation mirrored that of the veggies so that was a no-go on those sparsely filled trays as well. I've never been able to figure out why there are no crackers....
- Eventually, people will just quit searching out the meager food supply and go hungry and Carnival will have reduced food service expenses by like 50% or something. But if they've brought the right clothing, guests can cough up $35 each to get what I understood is a fabulous meal in the Emerald Dining Room, and that's a money maker right there.
- For most desserts, think colored Crisco. I couldn't even imagine how much of it is whipped up for fluffy desserts and frostings over the course of a week. There certainly wasn't much flavor in any of it either. Oh, yeah, that would cost money.
On Saturday morning (sea day), I was leisurely enjoying my coffee which really tasted more like gas station coffee but I drank it anyway, when one of the busboys left a cabinet door open on one of the cleaning stations in the Red Sail Buffet dining room. I watched as no fewer than three of them set dishes on top of the counter but made no attempt to close it. It wasn't just cracked open, it was fully open and in the line of foot traffic. I finally got up and shut it myself so some old person wouldn't walk by and run into it, causing injury. Those guys did a whole lot of standing around but did not effectively keep tables cleaned or cleared off. Never once voluntarily addressed by general staff in white slacks who were frequently checking out something on deck, although I know they saw me. Nod, say hi, something.
The Frequent Cruiser cocktail party served the most disgusting cocktails ever. There were not enough waiters to go around and some people were only given the opportunity to be served once, which is not the way to treat your valued customers. Once again, we were rushed out at the end of our 50 minutes so they could prepare for the next reception.
I booked an inside cabin on deck 10 to control expenses but still have relatively private access to a small deck at the front of the ship. We have always enjoyed quiet deck watching activities whether in port or as we leave, but we unable to do so for the entire week. During the entire cruise, that deck was never once accessible and this did hamper our enjoyment. As usual, our room steward did a great job taking care of our needs and the other stewards in our section were helpful and friendly as well.
All of the shops were woefully under-stocked of inventory. First time I've never found anything to buy.
I enjoyed the spa whirlpool while my husband made good use of the fitness center. No complaints from us there, however, we heard several people had developed some kind of rash from the hot tubs. Ship staff tried to tell them it was some type of allergy. I had planned on using the hot tubs more, but not after I heard that.
And back again to the logistical issues - as other reviewers have indicated, we never made it anywhere on time. We fortunately had not booked any excursions ahead of time, so didn't have that stress to deal with. Many of the excursions were in and of themselves disappointing, and we understand nothing can be done about the weather, but we did enjoy the beauty of this part of our continent.