We took a 12 day Mediterranean Cruise with Carnival on the Carnival Sunshine newly refurbished cruise ship June 2013, we flew into Venice where we boarded the ship which went smoothly enough, bags delivered to our cabin before we got to it , then we went into the cabin which we had upgraded to a large corner balcony suite at the rear of the ship, when we looked out onto the balcony we found that one of the large corner glass panels in the balcony was completely shattered, we spoke to guest services about this and they put us on to Yanis the guest service supervisor who looked at the glass and initially stated that as it was only one panel we should not be concerned, we advised Yanis that apart from the safety issues, we had paid a lot more for the upgrade and that this was not good enough, he said he would see what he could do for us, later he got back to us saying he would provide us with a complimentary wine package (valued at $150) but we said that we still did not think that this was adequate compensation re the damage, he then went off and again re contacted us and said that the glass was only 10% damage of the entire balcony view, so we advised that we would be happy with 10% of our payment back which after a short discussion he agreed on. To be honest Yanis was very courteous, efficient and helpful.
The room was large and very well laid out and comfortable, a couple of niggles, sink/plug faulty, windows dirty, could not be cleaned due to spray from sea and wear and tear !!!!
When we had unpacked went to guest services to ask some questions on payments and on board gratuities (which we had paid up front to our Travel Agents Thomas Cooks at time of booking the cruise) only to be told that as far as Carnival were concerned we had not paid them and that we would have to pay them again ($138 each) we were told by the staff on board that this was a Thomas Cook error and we would have to contact them, we did this and Thomas Cook did advise it was their error and they would reimburse us on return home (which they did very promptly).
We were quite shocked to find out that the $138 gratuities were charged to each guest and not per room, most of the guests took them off and only paid the staff which they felt gave good service, when you think that everything else (bar nothing) you buy on board the ship you also pay an extra 15% on top of the price for gratuities I find that quite expensive.
Other issues we had were at each port we stopped at we knew that there were ship excursions (which not everyone booked due to being expensive) but expected that the ship would lay on a courtesy bus to at least take us to the centre of the respective resort, on some of the ports they did but they were not a 'courtesy' as we had to pay for them ranging from 5 - 9 euros per person, at some ports they just left you to it !!!!!!! We have been on two Royal Caribbean Cruises and they have provided free courtesy buses in each port.
We did book one excursion prior to the cruise which was the Highlights of Monaco which stated that not only did it take you around the sights including the Casino and the Monaco Palace and shops but also included a ride around the circuit of the Monaco Racing Track this was at a cost of $70 each, the tour guide was good and we kept waiting to go around the track, we eventually asked her when we would do this and she said it did not actually take you around the track only a small part of it, again when we got back we went to the excursions desk and spoke to female staff member who was extremely rude saying that we had misunderstood the text of the excursion, we asked what part as it said that we would be going around the circuit not part of it, she said that there was nothing that they would do about this and that there would be no refund or compensation (it was quite clear that this lady ( I use the word very thinly) had not done her customer services course, very rude and abrupt.
We also found that on checking our statement which we learnt to do every day that there were charges for items we had not had, mostly drinks etc. These additional charges took 24 hours to refund (but on every purchase the bill was updated immediately)!!!!
We could never get guest services from our cabin phone, on ordering breakfast room service the order was always wrong (gave up after few days),
Another disappointment we had was one of the ports that was listed on our Itinerary was Marseilles , we found out after a couple of days on board that we were not going into that port, Carnival had changed it and we were going to Olbia in Sardinia, although a very nice port not what we had signed up and paid for, again on speaking to guest services they said Not our fault but Thomas Cooks (on our return to England surprise surprise Thomas Cook knew nothing of the change of Itinerary either as they had not been informed) ????
One hairy moment was when coming out of Monaco the ships propulsion failed we were quite a distance out of port, this was rectified after about thirty minutes thankfully when the ship regained power.
Although we had quite a few complaints and we along with numerous other guests were having to go to the guest services to complain on a regular basis , the ship is actually a lovely ship, lot's to do especially for kids with the large water slides at the rear. We thought the evening shows were good and there was live music nearly every night to suit most tastes. Food good (not in our opinion as good or varied as Royal Caribbean)
When disembarking the ship there was a bit of confusion due to a 90 minute wait. We had been advised by two members of staff to wait until called, this did not happen and when we asked another member of staff he said that we could have left the ship at anytime in the last hour.
During this wait I was quite upset on speaking to one elderly couple waiting to get off they had had a lot of problems on board (this was their first cruise )they did not know what to do about tips etc and were finding it difficult to cope with all the administration errors, I did advise the lady (who was in tears at this point) that they really should get a final statement to make sure there were no bad surprises when they got home and advised them that they could withdraw their tips (which they did not know they could do) felt very sorry for them.
We will go cruising again but I must stress NEVER NEVER again with Carnival !!!!!!!