About us- I'm mid 40s, spouse early 50s. We have cruised 15 times, nearly all major cruise lines (HAL, Carnival, Oceania, RCL,NCL, MSC, Costa). We had a wonderful experience on the Century in 1999 for a 5 nighter. We felt very pampered and the food was excellent. After the last 2 cruises being Carnival -not out favorite line, but perfectly acceptable, and now in comparison, better-we were looking forward to better food. Let me say this was a huge disappointment. The food was actually worse than the last 2 cruises we took on Carnival and every other cruise line except MSC. The service was also bad. There were a few pluses. The formal night dinner was excellent and much better quality than the other nights. I noted the menu items we selected-the duck and the lamb chops, were on the specialty dining menu. I admit I am a fan of escargot and lobster an neither appeared any night (even the Carnival 4 night whipped these out) . I only mention this because I know people expect it! Otherwise the beef was tough and overcooked in the dining room and buffet. Other examples of shockingly low quality: precooked grey, dry meats on the stir fry station (comically they had a chef there"why?), our "concierge" menu for room service an asparagus scrambled egg dish. There was not one single head of a single spear. It was all woody pieces mixed in with powered eggs. The room service dinner we had one night was atrocious. It was something you might get at a nursing home. I ordered a chicken and ham/prosciutto dish marked as gluten free and it came, along with the side dish, also "gluten free" covered in bread crumbs. It was horridly dry as well-and cold-and we got no napkins"only one fork and spoon for both of us. What we had hoped to be a nice dinner our balcony required us to get dressed and head up to the buffet (the fish curry was excellent-it showed up a couple times and was the only good thing on the buffet, and nearly the whole ship) . Our room was made up at the evening service only twice, and after morning room service dishes sitting in our room for 8 hours, we gave up and put them outside. The room steward made a big show of not seeming to know when we would be out of our cabin, even though we ate at the same time every night. There was standing scummy water on our balcony all but one half day of the whole trip. Sometimes it was as much as a 1/4 inch deep.
Other Service: with the exception of the main dining room; which was prompt and reasonably courteous but nothing more-service was disappointing. We made no special requests in the dining room and did not expect nor receive small talk so I am not sure how any of that would have gone had we needed anything during our meal or asked for anything more than to have our order taken and plates picked up. We had to ask our room steward for everything. We did not have the promised robe (supposed to be standard amenity in our cabin) until well into the second day and only after asking 4 times. There is a so called pillow menu which never materialized so I had to ask again 2x (more than anything, because I really wanted to know what a pillow menu entailed) The daily program did not show up until about 10 each night"so didn't have info about port the next day let alone the evening before disembarkation day. The staff seemed absolutely miserable and put upon. On at least 4 occasions we saw staff publically berating and demeaning another staff. My husband said it reminded him of the saying "the beatings will continue until morale improves" . Obviously the way they treat one another comes from the top down and I am disgusted they treat their employees and one another like this. I know the staff is very overworked and under a lot of stress but I have never witnessed this on other ships. It poisoned the whole atmosphere. Another weird dynamic had to yield all the time for management staff. I always happily yield to staff carrying food or other load, but I don't expect to have to stop and press myself against the wall so 2 staff walking and talking 2 astride down the hall can maintain this pattern or get slammed into. Another bad service example- I lost my wedding ring on board and checked guest services twice a day from the time it happened. After the 4th time, I asked if they had a lost and found log so I would not have to wait so long to check the status. Staff sighed deeply and retrieved the lost and found log. Of course they could have told me about this log after several stops but chose not to. You had to ask for EVERYTHING on this ship which would normally be a common courtesy. .And it would have been so bad if I did not have to wait in long lines of the most irate people I had ever seen or heard on any ship.
I remember more than once the buffet having no plates. Since some of the food stations had them, after some wait, we would proceed to the food area"only to be scolded by the staff telling us we should have a plate. Then they would go to the back , get more plates and loudly slam them down.
Another thing about "concierge class", never again ( although we probably won't be on X again)".not sure of what the advantages are (remember the asparagus stem powered egg dish was supposed to be an exclusive benefit? That's one of them! ) The room was poorly designed and small. I ended up with far more bangs and bruises that the typical trip. My 5'11" husband's feet hung off the bed and left only a few more inches of clearance between the wall cabinet.
The itinerary was nice. Being from San Diego, taking this trip was a huge plus because we did not have to travel to get to port. Santa Barbara was great. We did the Urban Wine Trail -on our own, you get maps with 2 for 1 coupons from the volunteers when you get off the tender. Very nice people! All the wine tasting rooms we tried were affordable and interesting. We had a great cheese and cured meat plate at Metropulos Fine Foods Merchant. We then got an outstanding Chinese acupressure massage at the "Relaxing Station" on State St. I think it was around $35 for an hour! Catalina is great too. We brought our full wet suits and snorkel gear and snorkeled independently off Casinio Point and Lovers Beach. The visibility was not as good as it has been but still a great time. For the first time ever, we did not disembark at a port. I guess that does not say much for Ensenada. We have been twice before and other than the tour of wine country (which is must, otherwise we did not care for the aggressive panhandling and hassling that goes on in Ensenada) . We would have done Celebrity's wine tour, but we had visited the same 2 wineries less than a year ago with Carnival. I highly recommend touring the wine country in this area-it was a great experience.
Other things: Embarkation and Debarkation fine. Embarkation was delayed due to infection outbreak on prior cruise and extra cleaning was needed. The gym had good equipment variety in very good condition.
Without a doubt this was the worst value we have ever experienced in 15 cruises. We have had food and service as bad, but then the itinerary and price was amazing so in the end it was fine. I am ashamed we wasted what we paid for this trip.