We were extremely disappointed to basically lose half our port stops. Yes, we understand that a port can be missed for various reasons but the ship not being mechanically capable of providing the trip you contracted for isn't acceptable. While some folks on CC will say "hey, you were on a cruise! How bad is life?!" and others will say "if you wanted to go to a specific place you should just do a land vacation" I'd say the vast majority of cruisers choose their cruise based on the itinerary and price. We cruise to get a taste of different places and then decide if we want to return for a land vacation. Sometimes we want to return to specific locations for one reason and a weeklong trip isn't warranted. We really wanted to dive in Grand Cayman. I know several folks on our cruise who were so excited to go cave tubing, diving, snorkeling, or see Aztec ruins in Belize so yes; the loss of those ports really affected our enjoyment of the cruise. Costa Maya is not an acceptable substitute for Belize and by the time a lot of folks found out the itinerary had changed and made it to the shore excursion desk a lot of stuff was sold out not to mention forget trying to book something independent. We basically ended up with 4 sea days! Not what we wanted at all.
We splurged on this cruise and booked a suite for DH and I and an inside for our two sons. This gave us priority boarding so we had the cab pick us up at home around 10:35 and we were tipping the porters at 10:50. (I love living that close to the port!) There was a separate door for VIP/priority but we were still required to stand in the regular line until we got to the place where you would go in the terminal with the regular line. DH was like "why don't we just go in here" and I said "they have separate lines inside". Well, no they didn't. We merged back into the same line to go through security. What the heck is that about?? Luckily, the line wasn't terribly long at that time of day so it didn't affect us and maybe as the line got longer they had a separate line for VIP/Priority but it really didn't make any sense. Security was ridiculous. They only had 2 lines open (again, maybe they opened more as the line got longer) and since this was a spring break cruise they were being extremely vigilant with looking for alcohol. According to one of the security guards, they already had a room full of alcohol they had confiscated! Once through security, we got our sail and sign cards (had a bit of an issue with our kids not being priority since they were in an inside and had to insist that their accounts were linked with ours and they are minors but it only took a few minutes to resolve-again thankfully because we got there so early and there wasn't much of a line) and before we even had a chance to sit down in the priority boarding area, they were calling our zone to board. We were close to the first ones on the ship and were sitting down in the Lido by 11:20 getting lunch. Not too shabby! Our rooms weren't going to be ready until 12:30 so in the future I would do FTTF since we had so much stuff we carried on with us. At 12:30 we headed to our rooms and our suite was ready but the boys wasn't so they dropped their carry-ons in our room and headed off to explore. Our luggage arrived around 3:30 even with our getting there so early.
We ordered room service quite a few times and it was always prompt and exactly what we ordered. A woman I spoke with said the chocolate cake from room service is delicious as an FYI!
We went to breakfast in the Main Dining room our first sea day and the service was ridiculously slow. We ate in the Lido every day after that. I ate the same food but was able to get refills on my coffee, juice and water when I needed it. The breakfast food was hot and good and there was plenty of variety.
Some stations had the bacon police and others you served yourself. What's funny is they always gave me more than I would have taken by myself!
We went to the Steakhouse one night. This was our first ever visit to a specialty restaurant on 8 cruises. I ordered the lobster bisque as an appetizer, DS's both ordered the French Onion soup and DH ordered the shrimp cocktail. It was all good. The Caesar salad left us unimpressed.
The waitress didn't prepare it tableside and it was definitely overdressed. I ordered the surf and turf entree with baked potato and sauteed mushrooms. DS16 ordered the 9 ounce filet with the 3 peppercorn sauce and a baked potato. DS18 and DH both ordered the 18 oz. ribeye-one with baked potato and the other with the creamed spinach. Wow. The meat was delicious and perfectly cooked. DH didn't like the creamed spinach (he actually had it in the MDR another night and said it was much better there) but the mushrooms and the little accompaniments on the plates were outstanding. We all joined the clean plate club! DH and DS18 ordered ice cream for dessert and DS16 and I ordered the chocolate sampler. The sampler was good but dang, it was so much food! I ate a couple of bites out of each glass and gave the rest to DS18. The meat was definitely better than anything we had in the MDR but I'm not sure if I'd do it again.
Dinner was any time dining in the MDR every other night. We let our kids off the hook a couple of nights and they went and ate with their new BFF's on the Lido. We usually got to the dining room around 6:30-6:45 and never had a wait. By the time we would leave at 8:00 the line would be out the door and back by the art gallery place! Choose your time wisely! Our food was very good and always hot. We had the best waiter most nights-Carlos-and he would give us his recommendations. They were spot on. We became so dependent on him that when we couldn't get one of his tables,
DH would take the menu to Carlos' station and ask him his opinion! I had had Carlos on my previous cruise on the Legend 3 years ago and was quite happy to see him still on the ship. I'm not the type to cozy up to the crew but he's awesome.
The crew was fabulous and the service was excellent. They did a good job of keeping us informed with what was going on with the ship other than the delay with Costa Maya. Everybody we dealt with was friendly, helpful and wonderful. Our cabin steward did a great job (especially with our boys' cabin-yikes!).
We went to Jazz Hot one night and while the singers were decent (although I could hear Simon Cowell in my head making comments!) they were pumping smoke into the theater and it really aggravated my contacts and my breathing. We had to leave! Not even sure why the smoke was needed. We saw a couple of the comedy shows and they were jam packed, standing room only. Definitely need a bigger venue. They made me laugh so they did their job. The illusion show Justin Illusion was just O.K. The music was great but the illusions were pretty typical and in some cases you could see how he did them. It kept me entertained though so again, he did his job. More smoke though but this time I was seated on the main level and it didn't affect me.
Here's where things aren't so great. The ship is looking a little sad. There are burnt out light bulbs all over the place-hallways and Follies lounge especially noticeable. Even the clock in one of the stairwells didn't work properly! The carpet is worn and frayed in places. I hate the Lido on this ship-the layout is fine but it is sooooo dark and depressing I hated eating in there!
The safe is ridiculous-they are the type you need a swipe card to use. Luckily we had a few non-essential things with us we could use but the safe kept freezing on us. We had to have guest services come open it for us a couple of times!
Only one outlet in the entire suite! Really?!? One outlet?!? And it's in the dressing area not even in the room itself. I tried using an outlet expander and it didn't work (and the expander works at home so it's not that.)
The bed wasn't that comfortable either. Kinda lumpy. (loved the bedding though!) And with the propulsion issues, the ship was really, really creaky and rocky at night. Even when we were docked in Tampa overnight on Saturday (and really? We got back that early but you couldn't have given us some time in Grand Cayman?!??) the ship was shuddering!
What a joke and a nightmare! We were in zone 2 since we were in a suite and were told we could stay in our cabin until they called our zone. They were still trying to clear non-US citizens at 9:00! Our poor steward finally asked us if we would go to a public area so he could get started on our room at 9:30. We headed down to deck 3 and the line for self-assist was still longer than you could see. Finally at 10:00 they called our zone and we were able to get off. It was very smooth at that point-through ship's security, get our luggage and through customs into a cab. We were home by 10:30.
All in all I would say we had an O.K. time. I certainly won't be sailing Carnival any time again in the near future until some time goes by without ship incidents. Yes, I get it the media is blowing it out of control, but three incidents like this in such a short period of time makes me question the corporate philosophy and maintenance behind them. We had lots of friends questioning us before we left about going on a Carnival cruise so soon after the Triumph and our answer to them was always "we'll have the best cruise EVER because they don't want another incident like that!". Well, we see how that worked out for us and our friends on the Dream!