We were a party of 6 adults travelling on the Carnival Sunshine. Of these, one was my elderly mother - aged 85, and my learning disabled sister aged 47. Both used wheelchairs to get around. My husband and I have been cruising for 18 years, this was our first experience with Carnival.
In order to depict a fair image of what we experienced, let me start with the positives. These are as follows:
1 - Cabin - good size, clean and comfortable.
2 - Cabin Steward - Ellio was excellent. Extremely helpful and took pride in his work.
3 - The ship, although not new was rather nice.
Now let me tell you about what in our opinion was not right.
1- We were informed by Guest Services on board, that they do not provide an assisted wheelchair service on embarkation and disembarkation! Having discussed the above with the Cruise Director - Noonan, he said this was "technically correct" although if we had any difficulties, to contact him as they can offer some assistance??
2 - The restaurant on board was not wheelchair friendly, with as many tables being cramped into the available space.
3 - As a result of the above, we decided to eat at the Buffet restaurant in the Lido area. The food here left a lot to be desired. The buffet area itself was small with approx. 6 of the same dishes each side. There was a choice of Soup, Rice - sometimes fried, mainly boiled with no sauce or gravy to go with it, or Pasta, occasionally potato mash, a vegetable, pork chop, occasionally steak or beef, fish was served on most days.The problem we had was that the food was cold/tepid in temperature, there were odd combinations, with no thought given to matching of flavours or textures etc. Everything was dry which meant you found it difficult to chew and swallow. The menu was repetitive, with little or no choice if you did not fancy anything here. The toast was never toasted, Deserts were dished up as a dry crumble of sorts with no sauce or custard, or at times when sauce was provided, this was mismatched, e.g. apple pie with orange sauce! The chocolate cakes were nice. We are aware that you had 3 other areas where you could eat, but each of these had a cover charge to which we object. Basically, we were made to feel that they were just chucking swill in a trough and expecting us to eat it.
The food trays in the buffet area were often empty, and you had to wait for them to be refilled or replaced. The tables were not cleared fast enough, as a result, we either had to cear these ourselves or wait for a member of staff to do this for us. Plastic cups/mugs left in the drinking area were not thoroughly cleaned, we found lipstick marks on quite a few. Given that good food is one of the main things we like many others look forward to when away, this was a huge disappointment. We lived mainly on sandwiched from Room Service or occasionally a beefburger (which was dry and hard) from Guys burger bar. Or you had a choice of something from the Mexican grill. Great if you like Tacos or Burritos!! On the one occasion we did eat in the restaurant, we found the food not much better to be honest, and even had someone complain that they were served meatloaf in the restaurant for dinner!
4 - The staff in the buffet areas were unfriendly, unmannerly and rude. We were the customers, but they made us feel we were imposing on them if we asked for the table to be cleared, and they expected us to stand aside to let them pass, even if they were empty handed!
They appeared to have contactors working in the buffet area, and they seemed to think they had priority over the passengers in the beverage areas.
5 - Staff seemed to consider they had a priority in using the lifts, and generally were unhelpful, unmannerly and unfriendly in their approach.
6 - Be aware that Carnival charge you $138 per person in gatuities. When we queried what this was actually for they said for eating the the Restaurant, bar staff and cabin steward. When we pointed out we only ate in the restaurant on one occasion, they reduced this to $156 per couple!! I wonder how many people did not query this and how much money Carnival makes from this in the process?
7 - Be aware that unless you ask for a copy of your receipt when ordering anything from a drink to purchasing something on board, they do not give you one. We always ask for a copy in order to check that this tallies with the on board account statement. Once again, they seemed surprised and a little put out when I asked for a copy eacy time.
8 - We constantly had a bucket in our area of corridor as the sprinkler appeared to be leaking. This made it difficult to get the wheelchairs past without getting wet.
9 - One one occasion we went to the library wishing to pay a board game, but had to go down a level to ask the bar staff for the key to the cupboard. It took them 40 minutes to bring the key to us, by which time we had lost interest.
10 - Theatre not very disabled friendly. They did have a specific area designated in the Liquid Lounge, however, this was not enforced and able bodied people often took the seats with little or no regard to others with disabilities. This was not policed or enforced by the ships crew.
As mentioned above in cruising for 18 years, we thought we had already experienced our worst ship with Thompson, however, Carnival are now the proud holders of the worst ship/company we sailed with.