This was, or should have been, my dream trip of a lifetime. This trip has been in the planning for almost 12 yrs and my husband and I have saved for it for over 2 yrs (cruise and airfare)as seeing Italy was my dream. We are 'paycheck to paycheck' people, still working full time w/ multiple mortgages, bills and family depending on us. This was a "once in a lifetime" that may never happen again for me.
We have never been to Europe before, so when my husband booked this cruise he depended on the Carnival employee's expertise to guide him to the right cruise, right time of year, etc. He was told that the sail date of 10/25/12 was the 'BEST ONE', but he wasn't told that it was the LAST one of the season and it was during the worst weather in the Mediterranean. After our cruise the Breeze was also transitioning to Florida, as it is too large for most of the ports we were scheduled to see. I believe the employee in the booking dept was more concerned w/ filling spots on the 10/25/12 date, than with what we wanted and were paying a lot of money for. My husband booked this cruise with this specific itinerary, due to Venice being an overnight port and my entire reason for wanting to see Italy. Sadly, I never saw Venice and may never be able to travel to Italy again.
On the very first day, at the very first port of Monaco (Monte Carlo) we were told the ship couldn't dock due to high winds; even though the map channel on our cabin TV showed winds of only 10-12mph. The 1st day, the captain chose to skip Monaco and change the dates of all the other ports; mixing them up and giving us another day at sea from the very start. The date changes meant the private gondola ride I had booked for Venice on Nov 1st, was now not going to happen and I'd lose $428.00. We, along with several hundred other guests, immediately went to the very small room set up for complaints. We were pushed, shoved and then finally seated at a small table, watching a few crew members running around w/ cel phones, but we had to grab one to get any help. We had our private tour paperwork and were told a guest services employee would be emailing the company for us, as calls were not going through. It took the next 3 days of me "hounding" them twice a day, to get an answer that the company bad rescheduled our gondola ride for our new arrival date.
When the captain made the itinerary changes, it forced us to be on the ship for 2 days at the beginning. One stop in Livorno, then more sea days. One stop in Croatia and then we were supposed to be sailing to Venice that night; arriving on Oct 31st. After leaving Croatia, the cruise director announced (over the PA system) that there were more itinerary changes: now skipping Venice all together and adding another 2 sea days to our trip. So far we had missed Monaco and had Sicily taken away; all other ports were moved around and dates changed. Now, we're having Venice taken away, more sea days added and more port date changes; but magically added Sicily back to the mix. So, essentially out of 10 days of actual sailing, we spent SIX on the ship and the last 3 ports (Sicily, Naples & Rome) were rushed into the last 3 days on the ship, with one last sea day to pack and have luggage outside the cabin door before 2200 hrs the night before we docked back in Barcelona. the ports we did manage to dock in, had the times shortened, both arriving later and leaving earlier. The excursions booked though Carnival were rushed and less than accommodating with "free" time to shop, eat a cafe, etc. We cancelled our excursion in Naples so we could just walk around the city, as that was the ONLY port close enough to do that; all the others were a 90 min drive to get to the place we paid to see (i.e., Rome 90 min drive from docking port; Sicily 50+ min drive to Taormina, Pisa 45+ min drive from Livorno. etc). Also, when we booked all of our carnival excursions, via the website, prior to sailing, the descriptions all say "beautiful drive" "scenic views" etc ... NOT. Every drive to the place we paid to see was through inner cities, freeway areas and less than beautiful, to include a bus driver in Rome who had to stop, waste our tour time to figure out how to turn on the windshield wipers so he could drive in the rain.
The food was horrible. Powdered eggs for scrambled and omelets. The same choices all 12 days; no variation, no change. Most of the 'hot' food was cold even before you sat down at a table. Lunch and dinner were the same day after day; no imagination in the choices. Baked potatoes and white rice with every dinner; no flavor, nothing for the price you pay.
The shows and comedians were less than adequate. Same shows, same 2 comedians every night. Once you saw them, what's left? The big screen by the main pool was never used during the day and played one 1990's movie at night. If you wanted to see a movie on the six sea days you would be forced to pay over $10 for ppv or to go to a small theater on the ship. No activities except bingo and trivia every single day. My husband and I walked the decks for six "fun" days at sea, desperate for something to do.
The crew and staff were rude and less than happy. They were curt at the guest services desk; sometimes with obvious disdain for our anger at being stuck on a ship for six days. The casino bar was the only one with TV's for entertainment and they refused to change the channel and showed only soccer or tennis the entire time. The Internet cost almost a dollar a minute. The elevators didn't work at least two thirds of the time and on a ship that holds over 4000 guests, there were only 2 self-service laundry rooms w/ only 3 washers in each one .. AND it cost $3.25 per load to wash and another $3.25 to dry the clothes.
I could go on forever ... I will never sail Carnival again and I hope anyone who works as hard as my husband did to try and make my dream come true, goes elsewhere as well. This vacation was a complete failure and my dream was ruined.