The first couple of days on the cruise were OK and by the time that we had reached Auckland we were feeling relaxed and reasonably happy. The shore visits that we had were excellent. The highlights were Akaroa, Dunedin and Auckland (in that order). The least enjoyable was Napier.
The formal dining was excellent and the staff in dining rooms and bars were excellent. Our room steward was excellent. I would like to make special mention of Ramil who really went out his way to ensure that we had a good time in the Wheelhouse. Thanks mate!! Loved your magic tricks (and the pics of your HOT wife).
That is where the positive comments stop.
The buffet was average most days. Xmas morning there was no ham and eggs option in the formal dining room. No special arrangements made at all for xmas breakfast - the same as any other day. We could not get a seat for xmas lunch at the "traditional" lunch of Indian curries. Come on guys, we were on a predominantly Australian / New Zealand cruise. I have since heard that there were over 1000 onboard complaints made about the horrendous menu on xmas day.
The Horizons room (buffet restaurant) was so incredibly hot, even at night time, as to make dining there very unpleasant. The doddering elderly caused a lot of waiting around while they struggled with everything or clogged up the premium sitting areas and monopolised the atrium musicians with their own and only their own requests. The children (quite rightly) christened the ship "SS Retirement Village".
The hotel manager and the ship's captain were both rude individuals and the captain has yet to respond to our letter of complaint 12 months later. The ship's captain's cocktail party was a complete waste of time. I expected that he would use this opportunity to show a little bit of flair and be the ambassador for the company that he should be. The poor quality of the drinks meant that we very quickly exited with an even more negative impression of the man, his boat and the company that hired him.
We took the hotel manager to task on his treatment of the younger travellers and his response showed that he had the personality of a dictator, even in his own home ( and by his own admission). It is no wonder that guests are treated as badly. The hotel manager's understanding of his own internal systems was very sadly lacking - could this have been his first assignment on this ship???
The average demographic on the boat meant that the ship was virtually shut down at night. The only true occasion to party - Hawaiian night, was only just starting to get going, when they shut it down.
Talking to other cruisers, we found that there were many very creative complaints. None of these was surprising. The reaction of crew to these complaints was also not surprising. However, I will let them tell there own stories.
By the time we left Dunedin, heading home, we were wishing we had already arrived. It will take a long time before we take another cruise and an even longer time before we even consider another Carnival cruise. The next time we will certainly be doing a lot more comprehensive research into the cruise, the ship and past passenger comments.