I have sailed on 7 cruises, including 4 with Carnival, and last week's trip on the Dream, while not a nightmare, left much to be desired. Here are the more serious problems we enountered:
Just minutes before we were scheduled to land at Mahogany Bay in Honduras, the captain announced he was diverting us to Port of Roaton, 15 miles to the south. The Mahogany Bay beach was the main reason we booked this cruise. I and many other passengers were disappointed with this change. Another Carnival ship, running behind schedule, already was in the Mahogany Bay pier and the captain claimed windy conditions made it risky for us to pull in alongside. We passengers did not notice anything above a moderate breeze (about 25 km) with no whitecaps. At the least, Carnival should have given us more advance warning (like the night before) and provided free shuttle buses so we could reach the Mahogany Bay beach quickly and safely.
I was traveling with a friend plus 16 of his relatives. When my friend booked the trip directly with Carnival reservations, he specifically asked for us to be seated at adjacent dining-room tables as a family. When we arrived on ship, we found the rest of the family had been assigned to the Scarlet dining room, while we were put in the Crimson dining room. I immediately went to see the maître d before the cruise started. He explained there were no seats left at the family's tables. He moved us into a table of 4 in the Scarlett on the other side of the dining room. The next day, he managed to reassign us to a table adjacent to the family tables (but we were still separated from them by partitions of an alcove.). The lesson we have learned is not to trust Carnival’s reservations dept. and instead use the reliable travel agent used many times by my brother-in-law. .
My friend became ill with flu-like symptoms halfway into the cruise – Wed. night. He did not have any symptoms prior to the cruise. The symptoms became worse each day. By Sat. departure, he could barely walk. We stood in the debarking line for about 30 minutes, and finally I directed him to a couch in the main lobby while the line was at standstill. A young Carnival woman stationed near the elevator came over to tell him rudely he was seated in an illegal area. My friend tried to explain he was ill and didn’t have the strength to get back in line. Finally, another Carnival staffer, Alex from the Activities staff, came over, sized up the situation and put in a call for a wheelchair. He was very polite and sympathetic, keeping watch on us we waited for the wheelchair and reassuring us we would soon be on our way. About 15 minutes later, Roman arrived with the wheelchair and helped us make our way quickly into the line for the disabled. At the elevator, he turned us over to a staffer from the Port of Canaveral, who helped us clear customs and get a porter to handle our luggage.
Although half of the casino is supposed to be smoke-free, smoke odor permeates the whole casino and nearby hallways. Carnival needs to have partitions or better smoke-eaters. Also the casino’s hours were limited. On the final afternoon, both the casino and shops remained closed after the ship had left port. Also on the subject of smoking – our balcony was positioned directly above a deck smoking area. Smoking zones should be kept far away from the non-smokers.
The $100 on-board credit we received for signing up for a Carnival credit card did not seem very generous. As repeat customers, we felt we should have received more than 1 drink voucher. Our relatives who booked thru a travel agent each received an additional $37.50 in discounts. Some received $75. We felt we should have received a $100 goodwill bonus in credits for the mistake Carnival made in the dining seating. I made that pointed suggestion to Guest Services, but Guest Services said they couldn’t help us. That left us with the feeling that Carnival didn’t really want to maintain customer loyalty, so we are considering Celebrity, MSC or Norwegian for our next cruise.
Dining room food was generally OK, but not outstanding. Entrees below average included spring roll and meatloaf, Prime rib was very fatty and rarer than ordered. Some portions, such as mashed potatoes and lobster tail, were miniscule. The dining room design was dark and claustrophobic , plus we were on a very busy traffic aisle. Our servers Julie and Victor both were excellent, and Julie especially had a lot of personality. Lido Deck food in general was better but not as good as past Carnival cruises. Quality of ingredients seemed to have declined. I did like the Tandoor Grill and ate most of my lunches there.
Dining room dress code remains confusing and obsolete. Most men dislike wearing suits or tuxes. I suggest limiting “elegant” to one night per cruise, and have men’s wear be more flexible – fancy shirt (like Hawaiian shirt) and long dark pants should suffice. Alternatively, you could send the very formal people to open seating in the Steakhouse and let the main dining room stay casual. On Tuesday, the ship newspaper listed casual as the dress code, but only thru word of mouth did we learn it was “elegant.” Very confusing, and even our calls to Guest Services produced different answers about the dress rules.
I like to take brisk walks early in the morning. One morning about 6 a.m. on Deck 5, the entire prow of the ship was in darkness. A fellow walker in front of me had a flashlight that helped guide me along. Sides and rear of the ship were OK.
The theater band and dancers were excellent – up to Las Vegas standards. The final show, with passengers performing, was a very mixed “Amateur Hour.” Well, at least they tried.
There is too little access to cold drinking water. Most beverage stations lacked water, and ice cube supplies often were shut off.
TV programming is limited. There should be more free movie and new channels. It would be helpful to have more detailed information about the ship itself, and various port attractions (not just the Carnival-sponsored excursions.) We also had problems with the TV remote control. The steward replaced the batteries but it still didn’t work right. Other people in our group reported the same problem.
I was not impressed with the ship’s décor and expected something more modern and brighter for a vessel built in 2009. But maybe most people like the Art Deco look from the 1950s. I did like the roominess of the balcony cabin, and the couch. Temperature control was somewhat balky so most of the time we felt too stuffy or else too cold. However, beds and bedding were comfortable. It would be helpful to have adjustable beds in some rooms for passengers who have to sleep elevated.