My wife and my two kids have cruised 3 times now with Carnival. The first cruise was a short 5 day at Christmas in 2010 on the Fascination. An old ship but it was clean, food was average, service was good. The wait staff were much as my wife and I had remembered cruising to be from our time before we had the kids, attentive and hard working. During this cruise bad weather prevented the ship from docking at Half Moon Cay for a beach day but the captain went to Freeport instead and we all had a good time anyway.
The second cruise was with the Carnival Valor in August 2011 and while Hurricane Irene came up the coast, the cruise was great. Awesome service, great food and better ports. We had a stellar cruise with an energetic assistant cruise director named Eversen who always entertained. We even received a gold VIFP card that gave us a free cocktail party to thank us for being return customers.
This year we cruised on the Glory March 10-March 17 same ACD (Eversen) as the Valor. The check in was good, and as we are returning to Carnival for the third time we received a red sail card (not the Gold one). No cocktail party as this is for gold cruises only now. Seems we used to be valued as a gold customer but they have changed the rewards program which downgraded us to a Red card (not as important to Carnival anymore). If we ate in the dining room for breakfast or lunch, we could have a milkshake free once on the cruise. Thank you Carnival, we didn't use them.
The cabins were clean, the cabin staff very good, the food in the dining room was excellent, the waiter and the staff were not very good. The Maitre D was rude and didn't greet people when entering the ding room. A simple hello or good evening is required but this fellow Suresh, didn't even acknowledge when you said hello directly to him. The wait staff at the table were forgetful or unwilling to get things like sour cream for a baked potato or horseradish. A single cup of coffee for dessert, no refill even after asking for one.
The Bar service waiter was nowhere to be found for soda refills. Waiters typically entertain for the diners at the end of the service, after the first dinner when this didn't happen we assumed it was just the ship's way of doing things. As the waiters weren't talkative at all, we didn't ask them until the fourth night, when we were told that we just leave too early to see it. We had the 6 pm dinner, and finished by 7:30 every night. It seems we left just about 5 minutes before it started. The wait staff could have told us to wait as the past cruise ship Wait staff did. At the end of the cruise I removed the gratuity for the wait staff. It was a very difficult thing to do, but it was clear that this ship's wait staff and Carnival only understand one thing, $$, and hopefully this will make a small statement.
A medical emergency made the ship return to Nassau on the first day, delaying our arrival in St. Thomas and shortening that visit on day 3. San Juan was on time for day 4. That night they announced the cancellation of Grand Turk late at Dinner and gave us "a fun day at sea" for day 5.
Grand Turk was cancelled due to GI Tract infections being reported on other cruise ships that had visited the port. However, there was sufficient time to change the itinerary to visit an alternate port. Freeport Bahamas might have been helpful, however Carnival refused and told us we would have an additional fun day at sea. When the large group of passengers spoke to the staff, unlike our first cruise in 2010, the answer given was that all the other ports were booked.
I have since checked and they were not all booked. Freeport was free and clear. The issue seems to be Carnival chose to have a very boring fun day at sea to pluck its captive people of money on overpriced drinks to improve their billable sales.
On day 5 a helicopter arrived and plucked a second crew member off the ship for medical reasons. Unfortunately this was a highlight of the cruise (not the sick crew but the skill of a coast guard chopper).
Day 6 was very boring, high priced drinks and pedaling cheap merchandise.
Day 7 was a good day as we were glad to be off the ship we felt imprisoned on. Never again a Carnival ship. The most unfortunate thing is that we had first time cruisers with us, and they politely said the cruise was just OK.