We were excited to go on a cruise to the Western Caribbean but were quickly disappointed. When we booked the cruise we were told to call back with our flight information in order to book the airport transfer. When we called to schedule the transfer, we were notified that it was too late but that booking at the airport shouldn't be a problem. After arriving we were told that we were lucky to catch the last bus... first problem averted.
I waited to book the cruise until upgrades were offered (less than 2 weeks prior to departure). The Carnival telephone rep told us we had a good chance of getting an upgrade. When we arrived to check in, we were told that cruise was long since sold out and there would be no upgrades. Prior to departure we also did not receive our "blue book"??? in the mail and therefore the staff had trouble checking us in (sent to different lines in the terminal, etc.)
We were asked for our preference in meal times - we asked for 6:30 and were told that it couldn't be guaranteed but we would likely get our requested time; we received 8:30 (the latest seating). Our table was always the last to be served and had the same VERY unenthusiastic server every night. The service was so slow that the lights regularly were turned on during dessert and the vacuuming would begin (on one occasion this occurred prior to dessert orders). I tried to get our server to smile by asking; he said, "I don't fake it". Some of the other servers seemed great; unfortunately that wasn't our experience.
When we tried to prepare for dinner the first night, we found that our shower drain wasn't functioning - it actually drained the water into the bathroom. Not so pleasant once you've just gotten wet and soapy and the bathmat is soaked. We were told that the plumber was very busy but he should be able to fix it sometime that night. Estimate ~ a few hours (aka after dinner.)
When returning to the room after dinner a couple nights into the cruise, we found that housekeeping had taken our washclothes and not replaced them. I tried to call housekeeping but the phone rang and rang. I then tried the information desk - the man who answered the phone said, "this is information, we don't have washclothes here. You'll need to call housekeeping." When I informed him that I had already tried but there was no answer, he responded, "of course not, housekeeping is probably already asleep." (~10PM) I wasn't offered any other suggestions/solutions... I was frustrated and figured I would just use a hand towel. About 20 minutes later he called the room and said housekeeping was bringing us washclothes - this seemed to be the first good service we had received... we waited an hour and went to bed (and placed the do not disturb sign on the door), the housekeeper who didn't speak English arrived a little later to bring us a stack of 4 towels with no washclothes. My boyfriend tried communicating that we needed washclothes, but the housekeeper smiled and said "yes". Yet another frustrating experience... we tried to laugh it off, but with one frustration after another - the cruise experience deteriorates quickly.
Most meals, I would classify as "okay" at best. The coffee service after dinner was nice (with the exception of the vacuums). At one buffet breakfast I observed the busboy returning unused milk and yogurt cartons from dining tables to the buffet line - gross! During the same breakfast, we received still partially frozen sausage links. The deli sandwiches at lunch were a relief from the other food. Several people at our dinner table had intestinal indigestion for much of the cruise.
The only highlight of the cruise that included the cruise line was the portrait photography - a good deal with multiple backgrounds from which to choose. The ports: Cozumel, Jamaica, and Grand Cayman were enjoyable with activities including sting ray snorkeling and zip lining. Cozumel is damaged after the hurricanes; however, relaxing on a beach is always nice.
As compared to the Norwegian sailing I have experienced - Carnival had a larger ship but was outclassed in food, service, price, and overall experience.
We're bargain hunters but do not plan to sail with Carnival again - ever.
K & W - San Diego, CA