As past guests of Carnival (Christmas week 2002, Carnival Paradise, Eastern Caribbean), my family and I had been eagerly awaiting our cruise on the Victory 2/15-2/22/04. Little did we know it would become a vacation nightmare!!
1- On arriving in our cabin on 2/15, my wife went to the bathroom to freshen up. Unfortunately the sink filled up and wouldn't drain . It took 2 calls and approx. 24 hrs. till the problem was fixed.
2- Later that evening after going to bed, we heard a loud rattling noise coming from the vicinity of our cabin door. As it was late and we were tired, we made the best of it and eventually fell asleep. It took 4 days and 3 calls to the cabin steward until the problem was fixed by jamming some wood wedges into the ceiling above the door. This included a maintenance man lying and saying he came to our cabin and we told him everything was okay. Needless to say, we did not sleep very well for 4 days!
3- Later in the cruise, our room safe decided to act up. No matter what we did it wouldn't lock. After waiting for 2 different people to come look at it, it was determined that it needed a new battery. They said it would take up to 30 minutes for someone to come with the battery. Meanwhile, dinner was starting and we had to take our valuables to our sons room for safety.
4- We bought a soda card for one of our sons to use on the trip, not realizing this would cause another problem. Whenever he wanted a soda in the dining room, the man who took the orders was nowhere to be found. Our assistant waiter had to chase the man down on several occassions and once he never brought the drink at all. He was very attentive to several other tables. We later were told that for every drink ordered without a soda card he gets a tip, but if a card is used no tip is involved, which is probably why we had such poor service.
5- On our port day in Cozumel, we booked a powerboat and snorkling tour. Since it was raining that day we asked the Pursar's desk in the morning if our tour was cancelled. He told us it wasn't. We then proceeded to the pier where we were told the tour WAS cancelled. We asked to switch to the tour going to the ruins of Tulum but were told it had just left. If we were given correct info, we would have been able to go on that tour which was our 2nd choice. Instead the only tour left was a jeep safari through the jungle to a beach to snorkel. The jungle turned out to be a bumpy road about 50 yards off the main road. The jeeps were only stick shift which no one in our family knew how to operate, but we somehow figured it out and made it to the beach.
6- The next problem we had was with buying an item of jewelry. I had seen a nice silver bracelet that Jeff the ships shopping consultant was wearing. He told me to wait until we docked in Ocho Rios to buy it at a store called Jewels and Things as it was a Carnival recommended store. I saw the same bracelet at a store in Grand Cayman, the stop before Ocho Rios but listened to Jeff's advice and didn't buy it there. When we arrived in Ocho Rios I went straight to Jewels and Things and it was out of stock. They called their other 2 stores on the island who also didn't have any left. They told me that if I paid for the bracelet they would call the manufacturer and have it shipped to my home at no extra cost. They said it would take 1 week. I have now been home almost 2 weeks and still no bracelet. It seems to me that a Carnival recommended store is no better than any other, but probably pays them a fee to be recommended!
7- Our final problem on the ship occurred on our last "Fun at Sea" day, Saturday 2/21/04 heading back to Miami. It was the only sunny day of the cruise so we went out at 9am to get 4 deck chairs in the sun. As every chair on the lower decks had been reserved with towels, shoes, etc. we were only able to find chairs on the uppermost rear deck. At approx. 2pm a security guard named Mahdav started asking all the younger guests how old they were. He said it was a topless optional deck and anyone under 18 would have to leave. There were no topless sunbathers on the deck all day and no one complained about the 2 younger people being there. He told my sons friend who was 3 months shy of 18 she had to go. I asked him to find us chairs on a different deck and we would. He told the young lady that if she didn't leave he would take her sign and sail card. All the people near us started yelling at him to leave her alone and he finally left.
8- The final and worst problem involved our plane trip back to NY. We purposely booked the air portion of the trip thru Carnival to avoid any problems. Boy were we wrong. Our return flight on Sunday 2/22/04 was a disaster. We were to be taken from Miami to Ft. Lauderdale by bus to our Carnival chartered flight (not a major airline). We were informed the night before docking in Miami by a note slipped under the cabin door that the flight had been changed from 2pm to 6:05pm departure. I went to speak to the 1st Pursar and asked why the earlier flight had been cancelled. He said he didn't know. When I pointed out to him that the plane was chartered by Carnival and therefore Carnival had to know, he said maybe they knew in the Miami office. He then said the Miami office was closed on the weekend so he couldn't find out. I asked if he could find me an earlier flight as I had a business meeting Monday morning and he said no.
For someone who is paid to help guests with their problems, he was uncaring and rude. We arrived at the airport at 12 noon and had to spend 1 1/2 hrs. waiting on line to get seat assignments. Our new chartered airline, Miami Air only had 1 ticket counter to handle over 150 people. While waiting in the terminal I spoke to a Delta rep. who said that our original charter, Planet Air had been having mechanical problems all week and had to ground one of their planes causing the cancellation of our original flight. With further delays, we didn't take off for NY til approx. 8pm. For sitting in the airport for 8 hrs. we were compensated by Carnival with $15 for meal money. Hardly adequate! Due to all the delays, we lost our ride home from the airport in NY and had to pay $110 for a van to take us home.
I had to reschedule my morning meeting and my son missed 1/2 day of school. Our family cruise which cost over $6,000 was one I wouldn't have paid $1 for if I would have known about all the problems in advance. For this, I was offered 15% off on my next cruise with Carnival as compensation. I'm not sure I would ever take another cruise with Carnival or any of it's affiliated cruise lines.