My eldest son had never been on a cruise so I invited him to join me.
I have been on both Carnival and Princess in the past to the Mexican Rivera five prior cruises so I knew that there was a potential for a hurricane to hit and cancel any stop in Cabo or interfer with the opportunity to snorkel, which is what I like to do in port. But the price for the ocean suite including tax and port charges after the players club discount and taking off the cash they gave me was less than $1300 for the both of us so I booked the cruise.
Before getting to the litany of problems, let me tell the reader that getting on (and off) the ship via VIP was a breeze. That was the one and only benefit I had a a suite guest.
And for the most part having 800 children on the boat was not an issue to me, although I did hear one story in the elevator if true I would have like to have seen. A young mother (nicely dressed in bathing suite cover up and looked to be in her early 30's) was talking about having to say something to Craig (aka cruise director) about the two fat lesbians (this is a direct quote so dont flame me) who were making out in front of her young daughter (as in less than 10 years old) in the pool (and not the serenity) being disturbing and how was she going to explain that one to her child. My son also said he was unconfortable at the Serenity too because there were many gay men who were expressing their feelings openly towards their friends. Me I dont care about anyone's sexual orientatin but can understand how someone else may feel. I did not vote for prop 8. But it did appear IMHO that there were many gay individuals, many mormon families and a few of us gamblers on this trip which made for a interesting combination of cruise passengers.
I am not a picky eater. My son is. I can live in a small space but my son cant. I can sleep in most beds and have no objection to pink dots. My son is a 33 year old physician so he is really not a "kid". However I would be surprised if he ever took another cruise and if he did it would not be with carnival.
Almost every bad thing short of someone having to be medically evacuated happened on this cruise. The second day of Cabo got cancelled due to Hurricane Miriam. The first day the habor was closed down by the Mexican government making the day not only miserably humid but boring unless you wanted to drink yourself silly in one of the bars. It not only poured buckets the afternoon of our first day of now two in Puerto Vallarta thus cancelling the second day of our shore excursion plans, we saw from a distance lighting hit the cruise ship. (YEP even that was a first for me).
Even I had to agree that the food in the buffett was worse than the dorm food from my college days in the 1970's. Tables were never bussed in the buffett for breakfast or lunch which I saw when I walked through on my way to the deli which was the only edible food on the ninth deck. Forget the burrito bar unless you wanted to get sick. Even the Mongolian Grill looked gross. The first day we walked by the Tandori and by 12:30 the food not only looked gross it smelled gross, and my son lives on curry.
The food in the MDR (black pearl) was warm and good but the service was terrible. Never got desert the final night, and at that point even I said something to the "head guy". Of the five nights I ate in the MDR, three took 100 minutes to eat and that was going in at 8:30 when there was no lines to be seated. Wed night I was so tired from not having slept on tuesday due to hurricane rocking that I just went to the deli and got a sandwich and was in bed by 9 pm. Tuesday night my son treated me to the steak house were the service was good (not excellent) and the food was good (once again not excellent) and not worth the extra $35 you pay per person.
I do not blame carnival for the existence of tropical storm Norman which made sleeping Thursday night a repeat of Tuesdays fiasco from Hurricane Mirriam. It would have been nice to have access to a tv station (with sound no less) that told us that this was Norman and not Miriam, and not feed from Miami for the west coast or at least a Captain who could speak English well enough to explain there we were going to travel through two different storms.
BTW there is no way to hook up your IPAD to the TV nor is there dvd/blu ray player in the suites, so whoever posted that info is incorrect. They also showed the same two movies (Mission Impossible 3 and Sherlock Holms) five of the seven days on the tv in the room, even when the "paper" listed the movies as something else.
I do blame Carnival for the poor beds, the lumpy pillows and calling the OS rooms a suite as it is just one bigger than normal room. I blame carnival for the poor service in the food areas, cause even though the food was good at the deli, the service was below average. I blame carnival for the lack of quality in their food.
Next month I am going on a cruise to the Western Caribbean with NCL, which was free from Harrah's. If that trip is as bad as this one, then I will be sticking to paid cruises with Princess in the future because so far that line has never let me down in the six weeks I have cruised with them over the last ten years.
One last comment: before this cruise I was contemplating a transatlantic cruise October/November 2103 between the "new" Carnival Sunshine and the NCL Epic (which I reviewed in October 2011 and loved) Sticking point to me? The Epic pools are too small and NCL does not serve afternoon tea. (Princess has no transatlantic out of Barcelona in the fall 2013 or there would be no contest.) Wont have to have make that choice any more. NCL wins.