Having cruised many times before and a lot on Carnival, we were ready for another great vacation. This was the first time on a ship of the Triumph's class, and we were cruising with a group of 8. The Carnival reservation staff was very helpful with making all of the arrangements and getting us a dinner seating all together. They even got us cabins right next to each other. It was only too bad the experience didn't transfer to the ship!
This was out first time departing from the Port of Miami. Since the cruise experience begins at the port, choosing your departure port can make or break your first impression. I recommend trying to find a cruise at any port in Florida EXCEPT Miami! Tampa, Ft. Lauderdale, and Orlando are all great! The Port of Miami was disgusting! First of all, since the Port parking can be very expensive and we had to take 2 cars for our group, we elected to hire a limousine service. The cost was about the same as the parking fees for 2 vehicles, and we were all excited about dropping off in a Hummer Limo! When we arrived at the port, they would not let the limo drop us off with our bags like every other port we have cruised from. We were dropped off in the middle of the tour bus rows where we had to lug all of our bags about 100 yards to the entrance. We were suffocated with diesel exhaust as we gathered our belongings from the limo. No porter service was available where we were dropped off. Once we drug all of our bags to the entrance, we discovered that Carnival was late in opening the gates for ship boarding. Someone told us the ship had not been cleaned yet. This was a first for us. Anyway, we joined a long line forming down the sidewalk waiting to go inside. It was about 90 degrees in the blazing sun as we all stood there and began to sweat waiting to get inside the building. There were no facilities available outside, and we waited more than an hour! Carnival did absolutely nothing to accommodate passengers waiting in the hot sun, and they seemed to care less. Once inside, the port of Miami had the slowest boarding process we have ever experienced at any port. The port staff were rude and obnoxious. We also were pushed and shoved in the line by other passengers. I had never experienced anything like this before!
Once we finally got on board and visited our staterooms, we discovered one of the rooms in our group had been decorated with Happy Birthday crepe paper all over the place. It was a nice touch, but nobody in our group had a birthday and we didn't order the decorations. Obviously, somebody else had paid for the decor and had nothing. Since the decorations were hanging everywhere, we asked the room steward to remove them. He only smiled and walked away, apparently he didn't speak english. We had to tear the stuff down ourselves. So far, we were not impressed with this cruise. We decided to go upstairs and get something to eat at the buffet, to our surprise, there was a long line forming all the way out the pool deck! I had never seen this before on a Carnival ship! We were soon learning that the monster ships really have all of the same amenities on the upper decks, but just have extra decks of rooms to jam more people on board. I immediately began to feel like there were way too many people on this ship!...The long lines persisted the entire cruise.
Our dinner seating also was a disaster. Our group of 8 was placed at a table along the side of the dining room and was apparently the only route into the dining room for persons needing assistance. Every time another wheel chair came along the person sitting at the end of our table had to interrupt his meal and stand up so the wheel chair could pass. This was ridiculous, so we squeezed him along the side of the table. We still got our table bumped, drinks spilled, and knees jammed sitting at this table for 2 nights. The staff seemed to care less about our dining experience. We finally requested a table change only to get a very sarcastic remark from the Head Waiter. He insinuated that our group did not want to help with the assistance of disabled passengers, as if we were supposed to sacrifice our cruise experience. Why doesn't Carnival just make the aisles a little larger?? What a rude man! One morning at the buffet restaurant, our group tried to find a table to all sit together. Again, it seemed like there were too many people on the ship! When we found a large table and began to sit down, a man ran over and told us he was "saving" the table for his group. We had never seen anything like this before on any cruise ship! The man insisted, and began to shout and act like a fool in front of everyone. I had never seen anyone behave in this fashion on a cruise ship before. Our group found another table. These types of things seemed to go on the entire week long cruise, ranging from dining room problems to pool side crowds, etc.
I felt like we bought a discount cruise and were joined by low class slobs that had zero manners! Immediately after arriving back home I contacted Carnival to express my disgust with the entire cruise experience. I also advised Carnival that we were return customers and had cruised Carnival many times before. They didn't care, and only made excuses for the port and everything else that went wrong. They offered $100 of onboard credit if we decided to cruise with Carnival again, but they then issued a time limit on when we must book the cruise in order to use the credit! What a joke! I told them to keep their $100 bucks and that I would not cruise Carnival again. They sent the $100 voucher in the mail anyway! We have not cruised on Carnival again, and will never do so. Carnival lost good customers and they don't even care! We have now switched to Royal Caribbean and find their level of service much more accommodating.