I cannot express my frustration and disappointment enough. This was our first cruise ever and it was by far the worst vacation we have ever taken.
When I made the reservation back on October 12, 2013, I stated to the reservation person at Carnival that we needed connecting rooms due to the fact that we were traveling with two minor children and because one of them has Type 1 Diabetes and her sugar needs to be checked a couple of times during the night. She and I are also Celiac and cannot have gluten. Our family is gluten free due to this. I was assured that Carnival could accommodate ALL of this.
Our experience started on February 18 upon boarding the ship. We were unable to eat ALL DAY because the lunch served on the Lido deck was buffet style and all fryers were communal, meaning they fried the breaded chicken in the same fryer as the french fries. Since the general population isn't educated people were using the same tongs for the chicken as the french fries and other items in the buffet. This results in cross contamination. We asked for help and no one seemed to know what to do except tell us that at dinner we would be able to eat.
We then go down to our rooms when we are allowed only to find out that we don't have connecting rooms and that there is a fire station between the rooms, which I might add doesn't show up on the ship's map that I checked to see where our rooms were. I immediately went to the guest services desk and spoke with Supervisor Giedre only to be told the ship was full and there was nothing she could do. I asked her to see if she could move someone and her first reply was, "yes, you can ask someone", then my husband replied to her, "that's not our job that's yours." She agreed to, but stated, "I cannot guarantee anyone will be willing." As a note I have been on airplanes many times and have been, not asked, but told that they needed me to move due to a medical or physical issue of another flyer. I have complied willingly. She then said she would contact us. She further stated that the children weren't allowed to stay in the room by themselves because they were minors, to which my response was, "well, ya that's why we asked for connecting rooms." She was told about the Diabetes, but didn't seemed to be alarmed. So, we went to the rooms and waited for her reply, and waited, without sitting on the beds, not unpacking, trying to keep the room nice for the people coming. About an hour went by and she called to say that it wouldn't work with the room next to us, but agreed to continue looking and asking. Two hours went by and not a word. No food and unable to use the rooms. Finally, my husband went up and spoke with this woman again to ask what was going on, to which her reply was, "I cannot just ask someone to change their room." This was after she stated twice she would work on it. So, one she lied and two just had no intention of working it out. I then went up and spoke with Senior Supervisor Grace and she basically stated sorry but there isn't anything we can do. Now in looking at your regulations, guests are suppose to contact you at least 14 days before boarding about any medical issues. October 12 is well in advance for you to have made these accommodations or to contact us and let us know it wasn't possible. Nothing was offered.
In the meantime, with all the chaos, we missed the kid orientation for Camp Carnival and had no idea they had one in the first place. This was one of the reasons we chose to go on the cruise in the first place.
So, frustrated and hungry, we put our things in our rooms and headed to our dining hall to eat. After we told three separate people that tried to leave bread on the table that we were gluten free, we ordered only to have our server come back and tell us that most of what we ordered we couldn't have because the fryers were communal on this day, but somehow, the next day it would be alright to order off the menu. The bread at our table would continue for the entire cruise. At least one person would come by and try to leave a basket on the table. Understand, one crumb can make us sick.
The next day we got up in hopes that our frustration was behind us. No one ever made it clear that we could eat in the dining hall for other meals, so for the next day and a half we went to the Lido deck for breakfast and lunch only to find out that everything was buffet style and there wasn't a whole lot we could eat. No gluten free cereal, no gluten free pancakes or waffles. All meat was right next to gluten containing foods and no fruit plates that contained more than one or two fruits, no gluten free yogurt or cottage cheese. Anytime I ordered soy milk it took forever to get it and by the time I did, I didn't need it or want it anymore. The soy milk was another issue that lasted the entire cruise. There really isn't any reason why there couldn't have been a container of it with the coffee and tea like there was of milk and half n half. Many people cannot drink milk.
We were told that we could eat the french fries on the Lido deck, but no one bothered telling us that towards dinner time when they closed down half the buffet that the fryer would become communal and on day 2 of our cruise I spent the whole night in the bathroom because I had eaten gluten due to cross contamination. During lunch we went to the Lido deck, frustrated there was nothing we could eat, I spoke with Dora who was extremely kind and helpful because by this time I was in tears. She suggested some options and had the kitchen make us special lunches. Understand having a diabetic child means she has to eat scheduled meals and if her sugar is low she needs to eat. She cannot wait until someone is willing to make her something. She hadn't eaten much other than items we brought on board up until this point.
When our dinner was ordered, it took a long time to get and items had to be sent back and soy milk for tea came well after dessert and coffee and tea was served. The gluten free bread wasn't cooked. It was burnt on the outside and raw dough on the inside. The bread issue would stay this way until our last full day on ship. In our frustration we spoke with Korina, who I have to say tried her best to make sure we had what we needed. She started to have us pre-order our meals from that day. She repeated them back to us and made special notes, all of which seemed to be ignored by the cooking staff. Everything from the soy milk to the well done corned beef hash. She also stated that the dining hall wouldn't be open the days we were in port. So, for two days in a row we were unable to eat lunch on the ship and basically it was our responsibility to find something to eat off ship that was gluten free.
On day three, in Nassau, we had our first pre-ordered meal, breakfast. It took forever. When we finally got the order it was wrong. Instead of 3 orders of gluten free french toast we got 9 orders, which was the raw bread that was clearly not made into french toast, no egg coating and was just grilled. We spent the day in port on Paradise Island, where we have visited before and re-boarded at the end of the day. When we went to dinner Korina came to the table and took our orders for the next day's meals. We once again waited forever to get our meal and soy milk was like asking for something that was too much trouble.
On day four, we went to breakfast and as usual the order was incorrect. Instead of the four eggs my husband ordered, we got 4 orders of eggs. The gluten free bread was once again not cooked and no extra bacon as we ordered. My husband had signed up himself and our two daughters for the dolphin excursion a cost of $500 for all three of them. When they got off the ship to go on the excursion some mixup occurred and no one came to get anyone that was scheduled for that excursion. They waited 45 minutes before the ship finally got a boat to come get them. We were given the pictures taken, but if my husband hadn't put up a stink about it we would have received nothing. We again boarded the ship and got ready for dinner. We sat down and ordered sodas and the waiter took our room card. We waited 15 minutes and no drinks, no waiter. Finally another waiter came over and took care of us. Dinner was ok, but not great. It took, again, forever to get and bread was raw. When we were ready for dessert, we ordered coffee and tea it took 15-20 minutes to get and when we did it, it was obvious it had been prepared either the day before or earlier that day, not necessarily a problem, but why did it take so long and again, no soy milk when the tea came.
When we were done eating we went back to our room only to be greeted by the nasty smell of sewage in our room. We had to leave the room as to not throw up. I went and got our Steward who smelled it as well. He wiped everything down and turned on the air, however no one really seemed to be concerned that it smelled like sewage or why and that morning someone else's room had a stench issue further down the hall because the cleaning staff was discussing it and one of them had to leave the room before getting sick. Over the next two days I would smell sewage in different areas of the boat and although many passengers noticed as well, none of the staff seemed to be alarmed. During the night when I went to check my daughter's sugar level, I noticed their room was starting to smell as well.
On day 5 we went to breakfast. As we are waiting to be taken to our table the woman at the front desk, Ajsuli, starts calling to my husband loud enough that others are looking around and basically announces from the desk so that everyone can hear, you are not allowed in here with a tank top, you need to go change. Not politely, not on the side, just announces it rudely. He didn't know that was procedure. He had gotten a sunburn the day before and was only trying to wear something that didn't irritate it. She could have taken him aside and said, I'm sorry sir, but we don't allow tank tops in the dinning area, but no, she chose to be rude. When he returned to the dinning room she taunted him again. When Korina came to see if she could get us anything, at that point my husband, frustrated and angry, said yes you can tell that woman at the desk to kiss my ass. Once again we got breakfast after a long wait. My pancakes were raw inside. The corned beef hash that Korina had ordered for me to be cooked well was barely cooked and the extra bacon we asked for was 2 pieces. The gluten free bread, raw again. The waiter was less than helpful and finally we asked for a Supervisor. At that point Lloyd from Dinning approached our table and my husband and myself expressed ALL the frustration, miscommunication and dissatisfaction with our cruise and dinning experience. He was extremely apologetic and vowed that he would take care of us for the remaining day. He did very successfully, he even had a fruit basket sent to our room, but to no fault of his own, the damage was already done.
When we went back to our room, the hallway and our daughter's room, again, smelled like sewage. I went to the front desk and an annoyed man argued with me, but finally sent someone down to check. Later when we went down, the hallway didn't smell, but my daughter's room still did and no one was concerned or did anything.
Even at the last Mexican party on the Lido deck, we had to leave, because no one thought about those that were gluten free and we did learn on the last day that there were others on board that were gluten free as well. We could eat nothing and left so the kids wouldn't feel out of place.
Now, at the time I did the online check-in I had trouble. So I called to check in. I was asked about whether I wanted to put a credit card on record or an amount of cash. Puzzled, I asked, what would I need a card or cash for. The woman informed me that if we wanted to purchase souvenirs or drinks or something because you weren't able to pay for anything on the ship. I asked, do you mean alcohol drinks and she stated yes. Nothing about soda. I was also told that there would be plenty of sugar free drinks and food for my daughter. Unsweetened iced tea is not something an 11 year old child is going to drink, nor do I want her having the caffeine. No one bothered to say that every soda and diet soda was an additional cost. We noticed as the trip went on that sodas in the room were cheaper than the ones we purchased at dinner or at the bar. That's how we figured we were paying a gratuity, just for asking for it. Now, we were charged almost $60 per person that we had no idea we would have to pay or that we were told we would need to pay. Luckily we could pay it, but for others who didn't know that, then purchased items and didn't plan on that charge it wasn't so easy. I believe it's double dipping and my husband and I believe we were nickeled and dimed the whole trip. We spent more on charges than on our cruise. Almost $2,000. Now, there are things we purchased that we planned on getting like watches and pictures, but after our experience and having to find our own food in port, I have to say it's highway robbery.
Upon leaving the ship everything went fairly smoothly, even going through Customs however, when getting in line for the shuttle to the garage where our car was parked, we were standing in a line that was stopped. I started putting my family's passports and passport cards in my back pocket when a lady came running up to us yelling to keep moving although the line was stopped. There were already two lines, both were stopped and we were made to start a third and stand in the pouring rain while we waited for another shuttle. This is absolutely unacceptable. We don't deserve to be yelled at and certainly for something as standing in a line that isn't moving.