We just returned from the May 13th sailing to Alaska/Glacier Bay. We had a very strange experience with Carnival on this cruise and I am hoping some of you more experienced cruisers can possible shed some light on this situation. We booked our cruise in August 2013 with an itinerary of Skagway, Juneau, Glacier Bay, Ketchikan and Victoria, BC, Canada. We paid off our cruise in February 2014. April 19, 2014 we received a vague letter from Carnival stating due to propulsion problems with the Miracle our itinerary was changing and we now were going to Sitka instead of Skagway. The reason given was in order for the Miracle to make all ports on time it had to be able to travel at a speed of 21 knts but the letter stated the Miracle could only travel 18 knts max and they could not get the ship into drydock until September. I checked Carnival's website and all itineraries for the season now reflected Sitka instead of Skagway. We were extremely disappointed because Skagway was the port we were most interested in being the farthest north. We had time off approved from our jobs, airfare and hotel already booked in Seattle so we decided to just make the best of things. This was our 40th anniversary celebration and we agreed to roll with things.
First thing we noticed during our first Day at Sea was the ship was cruising along at 21 knts. All day! Hmmmm. Whatever, we're finally here and we are headed to Alaska so we aren't dwelling on that. Day 3 we arrive in Sitka. We had to anchor 20 minutes away from Sitka and be tendered in by Carnival's little boats. It was, without a doubt the most disorganized process I've ever experienced....it's like Carnival threw this together at the last minute and had never tendered people to shore. It took hours to get everyone off. We almost missed our shore excursion which I couldn't enjoy because I was worried whether or not they could get all these people back on the ship by departure time. Sitka is a lovely little place but there's not a whole lot to do there even with the short amount of time we were given. We get to Juneau and had a great day. Day 5 is Glacier Bay Day....spectacular of course. Heading out of Glacier Bay we start hearing things about the currents in Victoria and that we may not be able to get into port OR we may get there earlier and leave earlier OR we may just have more time to spend in Ketchikan, which was our Day 6 stop. Day 6 we arrive in Ketchikan at 7 am. We were told we were departing at 1 pm. Both our tour person and several shop owners told us we were staying in Ketchikan longer. I went back to the ship and asked and was informed we were leaving at 1 pm as planned. Several other shop owners mentioned this was the Miracle's last trip to Ketchikan for the year. Again, it seemed like the right hand didn't know what the left hand was doing. We leave Ketchikan and were told we would arrive in Victoria Day 7 as planned. At dinner on night 6 we tipped our waiter and said we probably wouldn't be seeing him the following night because we would be off the ship in Victoria. He looked at us with a very strange look on his face and fumbled and mumbled and seemed uncomfortable.
At 2 pm on Day 7 we were informed we were not going into port in Victoria, HOWEVER the captain was because he had to sign papers (apparently there is some rule every cruise must visit a foreign country). Need I mention how angry people were? People, us included, could deal with the Skagway change because we at least knew about that one in advance. Now, we were basically being cheated out of a second port, which WE PAID FOR!!!
So we pull into Victoria, on schedule, anchor about a 1/2 mile out and the ship captain was tendered into port and we departed late that night and arrived back in Seattle by 7 am the following morning with mixed emotions. Awestruck by Alaska. Tired, but a good tired. And, unfortunately some feelings that things were not what they seemed on this cruise, that we didn't quite get what we paid for and generally disappointment in the way Carnival handled things. Now it's 3 days later and after filling out my Carnival satisfaction survey, quite by accident I see a blog from the cruise director stating the May 20th Miracle sailing is.......guess where????? Drumroll.........Skagway, Alaska!!! I'm thinking to myself, this can't be right. I go on the website and see that the itinerary for the Miracle has changed AGAIN, Sitka is out and Skagway is back in for the rest of the 2014 season. So, I'm asking what about the propulsion problem......what about the drydocking? I feel like we were misled and even lied to. I don't know if we have any recourse with Carnival and was hoping someone might have some advice. This was my second cruise with Carnival and it will be my last. There is a huge trust issue now with Carnival and I can't help feeling like we had a number done on us and I guess I'm just plain mad.