Embarkation-- We had a bag stolen 10 years ago, which still has not been found, and we like to make sure our bags either go inside or are at least buried under others before we check in. Dropped off our 2 bags at an outer curb/drop off area. We watched them sit there for almost 30 minutes, usually unattended and the only ones on the cart. It was very uncomfortable. So we asked the head porter if he would take care of the situation and he did so immediately. Between tipping the two we spent $9. Why can't there just be a conveyor belt outside to put the bags on and then they could go right inside for sorting and screening?
As Platinum members, said we both were right on the boarding pass, we went up to the VIP lounge to check in and I was handed a red sail & sign card. We were told to handle it on board. When we did, the guest relations clerk fixed the problem and then asked me if I had gone into the system and changed my status. First off I'm not sure how you would do that and why would I change my status from Platinum to Red? We stated that we wanted to speak to a supervisor, white shirt and bars on his shoulders. Promised that we would be able to speak with one. We knew of the problems that would follow. From here it just gets worse.
Room-- We were in room 2470. The layout and size of this room was impressive. It was probably bigger than a JR Suite. WARNING...only book this type of a room if you can sleep threw an air raid. When the ship reaches a certain speed it vibrates and shakes so bad that you can see where people have placed cardboard shims in the ceiling panels and anywhere else that causes a rattle. Items literally vibrated off the shelves/desk. It was so loud that we spent 2 days praying for an engine room fire so it would stop. An hour before you arrive in port they start the rope process that creates a ton of noise. No need for a wake up call when arriving in port. As usual no need to complain because they don't care. It was like being pushed threw a gravel parking lot in a grocery cart while listening to a jack hammer. The first round started when we left Nassau at 2pm and did not stop until we arrived at St Thomas 44 hours later.
Entertainment-- We have now traveled 16 times with Carnival and have seen the same shows over and over. We only went to one and it was just okay. We skipped the returning guests party, no ticket..Red Card. In the past they maintained a 10 piece live band for the shows, no more. Taped music with taped background vocals. There was a time when they made fun of other cruise ship companies for doing the same. The comedy club is awesome and we caught several shows each night there were comedians on board. Most of the live music on board is gone and replaced with DJ's and what they do have is mostly so loud you can not carry on a conversation and was was mostly Latin and sung in Spanish.
Nassau-- Never got off the ship as we arrived at 7 and had to be back on board by 1:30. Not enough time to go to the beach and didn't really think the beach would be a great place to go in the morning.
St. Thomas-- A great port. Went to a favorite spot of ours and stayed at the beach. Had some drinks and a nice lunch and a rinse in the pool.
Puerto Rico-- After being so exhausted from the boat noise we over slept a little. By the time we got off the ship tours had all left. We did some shopping and sightseeing and returned to the ship.
Grand Turk-- Have been here before and it is a great port. Watched the people on the flow rider, swam in the pool and then walked the beach, sampled some local food and beverages, went in the ocean and caught a volleyball game.
Dinning-- The food in the cafeteria continues to decline in both quality and selection. Breakfast is pathetic. Lines were long and food was cold. Brunch was very nice as was the MDR breakfast. Guy's Berger's and fry's were very good and the burrito bar was nice. Pizza lines were usually 15 minutes and for some reason one night the pizza was cold. The MDR service was very nice but the food is the same old stuff. Again, cruise after cruise after cruise. The staff was great and the food was just okay. Nothing to really get excited about.
It's sad to see the continued cuts in the cruising experience. While if you are new to cruising you may not notice them. The food quality and selection continues to decline. The souvenir place mats are gone, the midnight buffet has almost disappeared. The chocolate buffet with the ice sculptures and food carvings has disappeared. There is no longer an island band by the pool, DJ. When we got on the ship in the lobby, no live music, DJ. The music on deck 5 is down to one musical group. There are no trays available in the cafeteria. Ice in your room is now an item that you have to request. VIFP travelers usually have 2 treats delivered to the room during the cruise...this cruise just 1. The little extra items in the bathroom almost all gone. There appears to be a new level of intimidating security dressed all in black. You now have to pay for sushi, no live band in the theater, productions have declined in costumes, sets and even the number of performers. Hardly ever saw our room steward. Cost of the steakhouse increased by $5 per person. Prices of the drinks have increased. They changed the VIFP program. A charge to sit in the Thalassotherapy Pool in the Spa. Retuning guests party, 1 drink Rum Punch not the tray with 10 different drinks to choose from, 1 type of hors d'oeuvres. No calzones or Caesar Salad in the pizza place. Even the chocolate that they put on your bed is smaller.
So as a loyal Carnival Cruise Customer and stock holder I have Cahill saying "he doesn't pay a lot of attention to review sites, which he called "very anecdotal," but relies on surveys sent to guests after their cruise. Dining scores are very high, he said." In other words these posts on the Cruise Critic are regarded as casual observations and not to be as valid as his scientific on line survey that you fill out when you return from your cruise. I believe the Cruise Critic site is more of an honest dialog than his questions on his survey that are skewed to get a certain response to make Carnival look like he wants it to. Okay Gerry, I'll make sure I make my voice heard on your survey this time since you don't seem to care what I have to say here. Imagine the audacity to not seem to care what we all have to say on the Cruise Critic website. By the way, my opinion is the same on this site as it is on Carnivals survey that they send to me, I don't sugar coat it...it's a survey, I answer the questions.
Issues-- No one was concerned about the noise in the room. To be exact I was asked if I had booked the room. My response was, "if you had assigned me the room, it would not have been so noisy?" The deal with getting the red sail & sign card was that even though I was given a Platinum Card later, I was always treated like I still had the Red Card. No invitation to the Past Cruisers Party, no VIFP pin and no gift. Every time there was a problem I had to go to the front desk and retell the story all over again about the card issue. We bought the drink tickets, they did away with them. I called before we left and asked if we could still use the ones that we had and was told we could. When we got on board the Guest Relations Clerk (GRC) told us we could not use them and that they were not transferable from ship to ship. No problem, they took them at every bar and they were all from previous cruises and different ships. DO NOT purchase the new "bar credit program." You will receive a bar credit, no tickets, you can not track them at the kiosk or on your in room TV. You have to come to see the GRC or call the front desk to obtain your balance. Even more IMPORTANT, if you do not use the entire amount they will not refund your money. The last night we were in the comedy club and I had waited 45 minutes for my drink. When the comedian found that out we became part of the show. So he had them turn up the lights and asked them to bring me my drink. When the waiter, Michael, showed up he wanted my card. I told him I had already paid for the drink. He became very rude and confrontational to the point where someone else at the table paid for the drink, just to get rid of him. Which of course made me mad because they charged us twice and he then got into an argument with the person paying for the drink. Now bear in mind we are right at the stage and the comedian is getting bent out of shape and the entire audience is dead quiet. Again, asked for management and was denied. Every day we asked to talk with a supervisor and were assured that we would have the opportunity. As we punched our card to get off the ship we were flagged to remain on board and talk to a supervisor. Seriously, they knew what they were doing. We asked for 7 straight days and they waited until we had literally punched off the ship to address our concerns. Needles to say I had no intention of getting out of this line to go to the desk and start this conversation all over. I also had to be at work in an hour.
We had a good time on our 18th cruise, 16 with Carnival. The people working the bars, your room and the food areas are the greatest. DO NOT have an issue where you think customer service could be an option. You need two fives for a ten dollar bill, the front desk will help you with a smile. NEVER ask to speak to a supervisor and NEVER have a problem beyond that. Normally I have 2 or 3 cruises in holding. We only have a cruise booked in October and I really want my deposit back. I'm done and I will call every day until they refund my deposit. I really wounder if Carnival is more interested in cutting costs or having repeat customers. Micky Arison and Gerry Cahill, 16 cruises, Platinum Member and your staff refuses to let me speak with a supervisor? I didn't spend this kind of money to speak with the front desk every day for 7 days and probably a total of 2 hours. BTW when we were in port the GRC called and wanted to know if the room was quiet now.
Sorry, you can't make this stuff up!