I have cruised twice before, both on Royal Caribbean. After hearing many good reviews of Carnival and the new Spirit class ships, I was excited for my first Carnival service. Unfortunately it was so disappointing! Our first room steward we never met. He ended up being reassigned to another area of the ship and replaced by a second steward, who was slightly more attentive. The first steward was replaced because of issues with our friends' cabin just 2 doors down. Their room was not clean up embarkation, which was not a problem because we all understand how busy the stewards are, especially on the first day. We were trying to be especially understanding as extra cleaning was done in all the public ares of the ship, due to a Norovirus outbreak the week before. But after sail-away and the room still not being cleaned, our friends called the purser's desk and asked that the steward be sent by so they could point out the main issues, still being patient and understanding but wanting these things to be known. Mostly they wanted the floor to be vacuumed and the macaroni and cheese from the final night of the previous cruise to be cleaned off their balcony. They also had asked that their beds be separated and the mini-bar cleaned out. When the steward arrived he said that the room had passed inspection and he didn't know what their problem was, and then left. It was his attitude that prompted another call to the Purser's and the new steward assigned. I had left our new steward a healthy tip the first day with a note requesting that the beds in our room be separated and mini-bar emptied for my personal use. He managed to separate the beds the first night but was not able to get back to us for any further requests until the next day. We met him once and only saw his assistant the rest of the week.
As for the rest of the service on the ship, it was also very sub-par. I was ignored by bartenders, overlooked by drink stewards and felt a general listlessness from all of the ship staff the entire week. When asking people about their contracts with Carnival and if they enjoyed the Pride, their responses were always apathetic. Perhaps this unhappiness with the staff is what was reflecting on their service and attitude towards the guests?
Our dinner service was also awful. Our waiter and assistant were given 4 tables, including ours, but only one of the tables got the full attention of the servers. Big mistake! Between our 2 tables, there were 17 ladies in our group and with many of us having worked in the service industry, we are all very gracious tippers. Too bad we didn't get the service that we deserved. The one other table would often have their entrees before we were even allowed to order or have water brought. Then when the food came, it was not in courses as designed but spotty. One of the 7 at my table would have an hors de ourve while another would have an entree and another have a salad, while another lady who had ordered all 3 of those items, had nothing. We never got our coffee with our desert either. I asked the assistant once if he would mind bringing the coffee right away so we could have it with our desert. So he stopped handing out the menus, left the table for our coffee, returned 2 minutes later with the pot and never handed out the rest of the menus, instead heading back to the favored table.
The food was not terrible for the most part, but not amazing. There were 3 entrees that I never did finish because they were unappetizing but the other dinners were pretty good. Salads were always fresh and crisp, though the tomato was not always so. Hors de ourves were fantastic and most of the soups were enjoyable. I recommend the gespacho, every single night the cold soup was wonderful! We had dinner at David's Supper Club one night and enjoyed the experience, though a couple of steaks were cooked wrong, one order missed, one appetizer dropped and not replaced and one server replaced for messing up an order and refusing to replace sides on the others. The replacement server was the manager who was very attentive and wonderful. The food at David's was fantastic and trio of chocolate desert superb!
As for entertainment, the Carnival singers and dancers were talented but not engaging. I went to their show the first night and left a few minutes into it. We saw the comedian the second night for his midnight showing. He was funny but not as funny as I had hoped. He had done the same routine on the Carnival Spirit 6 months before and hearing the act again was a bit boring, so again we left the show. The third night was a comedian/ventriloquist who was honestly, just awful. I went with a friend and we only stayed for 5 minutes before leaving. The fourth and fifth nights we skipped the show but on the final night, we went to support one of our friends who was performing in the Carnival Legend's show. I have seen recordings of this show before, having had a different friend perform Frank Sinatra. It's a fun show to watch and entertaining to see your fellow cruisers perform on stage, and many of them so well!
Embarkation was a breeze, we did early check-in on the Queen Mary. Disembarkation however was a nightmare and lasted an hour and a half after our number was called. I don't blame Carnival for this though, I blame customs. They had problems which prevented us from disembarking in the first place and had issues all the way to the bitter end.
Please don't get me wrong, I did enjoy many aspects of the cruise. My spa treatment (facial and massage) was wonderful and there was no pushing of products at the end. The gym was hot and not well stocked, but was clean and I never had to wait long for a machine. The Lido buffet as everything was always fresh and hot (or cold), I enjoyed the trivia games and the cruise director was engaging. My stateroom was nice and the extended balcony wonderful. The drinks were a bit weak at times but other bartenders were more than willing to take care of you for an extra dollar here and there. The cruise was fun and I came home refreshed. There just was so much that I did not like about this ship and the overall cruise experience with Carnival was disappointing. Especially after hearing such rave reviews of the Spirit.
I do not intend to cruise with Carnival again any time soon. Perhaps some day if the price is right, but never again on the Pride!