Imagine this: you are on a brand-new, beautiful cruise ship with an endless supply of food. It's all you can eat three, four, even five times a day. Then you realize none of the food you order tastes any good. In fact, it's awful and you find yourself spitting it out. Then, after three days, you get food poisoning. Welcome to my Carnival Breeze cruise Dec 2-8, 2012. Let me share the details of my cruise and you will learn why this Platinum VIP will never set foot on a Carnival ship again.
First of all let me say I have been cruising since 1989. I've sailed over 25 times on ships such as Carnival, Celebrity, Holland America, Big Red Boat, Windstar, Royal Caribbean, Princess, Linblad, and even Windjammer Barefoot Cruises.
Our group of four arrived together at the cruise terminal in Miami and my husband and I were separated from our friends when we showed our documents as we were directed to a VIP line and waiting area. We waited for 20 minutes and were finally called up and allowed to board. Our non-VIP friends arrived at their cabin 10 minutes ahead of us. Huh?
We ate at the buffet, at the Deli. My husband and I split a corned beef sandwich and a pickle as we were scheduled for early dinner. The sandwich wasn't bad, not the best corned beef and for some reason the counterperson put it on a Panini-type grill which wasn't what we were expecting.
So we did the lifeboat drill thing, then we waited for our luggage and before we knew it, it was dinnertime. For dinner we were escorted to our table in the Blush downstairs dining room. We were in the back of the ship which had a very nice view leaving Miami. Our waiter handed us our menus, and we made our choices. About 10 minutes later, he returned with appetizers; announced we had been given the wrong night's menu and then doled out appetizers he had chosen for us. No one wanted what he brought. We all took a correct menu and re-ordered. We spent dinner discussing why the waiter wouldn't recognize the Last Night menu from the Bon Voyage menu. It's a given they don't offer prime rib on the first night. Apparently, it was just one big blur for him and we were just open mouths to feed.
On previous sailings, we always made a connection with the wait staff. They ask us about our day, explained what the menu items are, made recommendations, etc. After 25+ cruises, I have many photos of my waiters. I can still remember many of them, like the guy who drew pictures for us. They remembered what you liked, bring lemon with your tea every night after the first night without you asking, and more. At this dinner, on this ship, nothing. Here is your food, may I take this, goodnight. This was the beginning of what was to be the worst service I have ever received in a dining room on a cruise ship. And I only went to 3 dining room dinners before I got food poisoning.
After dinner, since it was Sunday night, we wanted to watch the football game and the only place to do that was in the Casino Lounge, smoke and all. We ordered some drinks (I had Perrier), and at halftime decided to go back to our cabin to watch. While there were about 7 televisions, you couldn't hear or see anything and unless you were sitting on a very uncomfortable stool at the bar.
The next morning was a scheduled Day at Sea. We went to the buffet for breakfast. I love breakfast. I really do. Well, I took something I thought were scrambled eggs, bacon and what appeared to be a bagel. I have thought long and hard about how to describe this breakfast, so here goes: You could have used the scrambled eggs for attic insulation and the bagel was so hard I could have used it for a life preserver. The food was not only physically inedible; the eggs had a strange flavor and consistency so I couldn't eat it. I am not a skinny chick; I love food. But this gunk was not even in the same category of food. If a well-known celebrity chef ate this, or even saw this, he would have chucked the plate of food at the wall and exclaimed, " SHUT IT DOWN!"
That night for dinner it was lobster tail and shrimp. The lobster piece was tasty. The shrimp were overcooked and hard with had a weird flavor profile. I, of course, had Chocolate Melting Cake for the second night in a row. That was very good. We also determined that the wait staff were not assigned to one table, they had a section and so anyone of three people were waiting on you. Still polite but not friendly, still no chit-chat. I like chit-chat. As a bonus, they are forced to dance for you. Those dances they make them do are just cruel. It's unsettling watching them "get low, low, low, low, low," or wiggling their hips while "hey sexy lady" is playing. Kinda creepy.
So now we get to Day 2...The Day I Ate the Food that Made Me Sick. We couldn't dock at Grand Turk, so we got an extra Day at Sea. I went for a massage after breakfast (cottage cheese and fruit, I wasn't eating Sponge Bob Square Pants Eggs again.) For lunch I decided to try Fat Jimmy's BBQ located outside on Deck 5. This is a grill and a small BBQ buffet showcased in the hot sun. It's only open on "C" (sea) days so this was an unscheduled opening. I would come to regret my food choice. I had a small piece of chicken, pulled pork (no sauce) and the creamed corn. Big mistake as 16 hours later my stomach hurt, I wasn't hungry (me?) and then the fun started. If visiting the bathroom over and over is fun. My theory is that due to the unscheduled Sea Day, the BBQ food was re-served from the day before. That's my theory and I am sticking to it.
Day 3 I tried to eat breakfast, all I could even think about eating was a bagel, but the bagel was so hard it was like a teething biscuit but I wasn't hungry anyway. I had diarrhea the rest of the trip. Thank goodness I wasn't vomiting. My husband had a bottle of Pepto Bismol which was great because they don't sell it in the shop onboard. Our stop that day was Falmouth, Jamaica but I didn't get off the ship. For lunch I ordered room service and got a Reuben and chips which was decent. I went to dinner and ordered the Grilled Chicken and rice, you know plain food. The chicken was rubbery (big surprise, right?) and the rice was hard like leftovers. I took one bite of the chicken and it all sat there the rest of the meal. At the end of the meal, about 20 minutes later, when the waiter came to take the dinner away he asked me if I wanted something else. If he had come by at some point during the meal that would have been nice. Not when you are clearning dishes.
Next day was a Sea Day. For those of you keeping track, I have not left the ship yet. We did the Comedy Brunch. Arrived at 9am, ate the bagel and lox breakfast which was normal (OMG, call the press). We didn't see any comedy; we left at 10am. I spent the rest of the day in the stateroom lying in bed and running to the bathroom. I was eating Pepto like it was candy and hoping I would get better. Oh and wondering how I was going to get off the ship, to the airport, on a plane and home without Depends or Oops I *rapped My Pants.
Next day we were in Nassau, and I was not able to get off the toilet/ship even TO GO SHOPPING. The horror. Another day, another roll of toilet paper. For lunch I went with my husband to Guys Burger Joint. I thought I could eat a plain hamburger. The server behind the counter was possibly being half-joking saying I had to order my burger as described on the menu or he wouldn't take the order. I couldn't say, "I want a hamburger", I had to say, "Plain Jane without S.M.C." So either he had was following rules or he was being a tool.
For dinner I could not face the heavy menu in the dining room so we opted for Sushi at the Japanese restaurant. This is a pay restaurant and it was edible. Two weird things: the chairs were so high I could not climb up by myself to get on it. I am 5' tall. Secondly, in the middle of dinner, the female servers were forced to hand out tour-guide flags to everyone and then dance and sing to "Turning Japanese" by the Vapors. Uncomfortable? Oh yes, I think so.
Although I did not get to see any shows, my husband went to the Motown one and was so disappointed it was not a production number like we used to get. It was four guys trying to get the audience to sing.
Finally, yah it's time to go home. I'm getting off the ship!! I now know how my grandparents felt coming to America on a ship where people got sick, the food was awful and they did not leave the ship the whole time.
I must have had a guardian angel because we had early VIP debarkation, our luggage came out fast, we hopped in a cab, no traffic, made it to the airport by 8:15am got onto a standby flight AND I got an aisle seat and there were no delays. Whew!
Although I injected humor into this review, I want everyone to know I, a Platinum Carnival cruiser, am serious when I say I will never go on another Carnival cruise again. The staff was robotic, most didn't give a *rap about us, some almost to the point of resentment. The food was inedible and awful. For ten years I have defended Carnival when people bad-mouthed them. No more. Goodbye old friend, you certainly sent me off with a bang.