This was our first Carnival cruise. I never thought I could afford one before but since I collected $500,000 in an accident settlement, I thought maybe I can finally go for it. I did what thought was my due diligence and researched all the reviews and details and selected Carnival Splendor. I was excited about sailing on a new ship. Would I be able to smell the fresh paint?
We arrived in Long Beach a day early and decided to sleep in our car. It was pretty scary in the neighborhood. The least that Carnival can do is to make sure the neighborhoods around the Terminal were safe and pleasant. There was not a bathroom for at least a mile and when I found it, it was an outhouse at what looked like an abandoned construction site. Gross! Knowing that we did not want to pay the outrageous parking costs at the terminal. We decided to haul our luggage about 4 miles and left the car in a Best Buy parking lot. It would have been nice if Carnival would have had someone to meet us so we didn't have to walk so far.
During the embarkation, we walked across and did a very fast check in and dropped off our bags. We were told to come back at 1:30 p.m. for embarkation. We realized that we had forgotten Janet's camera so we decided to walk back to the car to get it and then we would make it back in time to board. Once back at the ship I have to say, it was crazy getting aboard as the lines, sometimes 15 people deep! stopped and went and stopped and went often while twisting and turning. I was getting seasick and we weren't even on the boat yet! I heard that other cruise company's will serve drinks and snacks to guests while they wait in line. Not at Carnival. At first I thought this was going to be a zip in, zip out check-in, but it really turned out to be an exhausting 20 minutes! 20 minutes of my life that I will never get back. Finally aboard we made strait for the buffet. I was not even into my third trip when I was rudely "cut off" midway through the buffet line because we had to do a stupid drill to make sure everyone had a lifejacket and knew where the lifeboats are. Believe me, if there was a problem, I could find the lifeboats. I don't have to have my buffet interrupted to tell me where the friggin lifeboats are. By the time we had to endure the crowds at the drill (4 people deep!) it was already time for dinner. It would have been much nicer to have our drills done by appointment or even deck so we didn't have to get so cuddlely with the other sweating complain-about-everything guests.
To save money we booked and interior cabin. Or should I say can. There was not enough room to even set up my travel stair-stepper! I will say the bed was very comfortable, and the duvet and linens very nice. Would it kill Carnival to have a map of the world on the wall? I guess that would be a little more than what is expected. The flat screen interactive TV was really small. There was at least another 24 inches of space available for a bigger screen. And I had to lay in my bed backwards in order to get at the right angle to enjoy the full illumination. Plus there was only one remote control. Three beds, one remote control! This didn't make sense. The bathroom was about the size of an airplane bathroom. No water in the toilet and the shower had a little stoop that I had to stub my tow on 50 times if not 100.
Pink, Pink, Pink everywhere, with a mish-mash of different designs all over. It looked like a bismol brothel. If Liberace was on acid, this is what he would see. It gave me a headache the whole rest of the cruise. Getting around the boat was entirely ridiculous. Not only could I not get to the bow, I had to go up and down and over and about just to get to the buffet. Another weird thing is that all the odd rooms are on one side of the ship and all of the even rooms were on the other side. It didn't matter if you had an interior room. I can't tell you how many times I was nearly brought to tears because I could not find my room. Then to have to endure the embarrassment that I was on the wrong side of the boat. I was humiliated. And while I'm on the subject, what is the deal with "port" and "starboard" can't we move to the 21st century and just go with left and right for Pete's sake?
I do have to say that there were not a lot of channels on the TV. I could not get one baseball game or even the SciFi channel. There was a channel that showed the bow of the boat so viewers can see where we were going (or in the case of this cruise, where we were NOT going)
I noticed many using their complimentary bath robes. Unfortunately my bath robe did not fit right. When I enquired to the steward about getting a larger size, I could tell from his eyes and his body language that he was thinking I should loose a few pounds. This is not the type of customer service I was expecting. He was very rude and spoke with a foreign accent. Wouldn't it be nice to have an American service person just once? Throughout the whole ship, foreigners everywhere. Now I know why everything is so expensive.
The best entertainer aboard was the cruise director. We just loved him. When the bad news about our cruise came. He almost made it easy to swallow. We could not find a single bar that had inexpensive drinks either. I guess the trick is to get us on board then when we can't go anywhere else, jack up the prices. We ended up drinking lots of lemonade.
We found the food to be average in the dining room for dinner. Our waiter, Silvia, and assistant, Wilerverat or something foreign, provided the kind of service we pay for. I was grateful that I was able to order 3 appetizers, three main courses and three desserts without even a blink from the wait staff. Breakfast in the "buffet was your standard crowded mess. Some lady complained because I was getting two plates. Some people just are determined to be miserable I guess. Lunch often had some choices that were good some not so good. The rotisserie was always too crowded. I didn't realize until the second to last day was that if you ask the staff at the buffet, they will bring you lobster. I guess that is a something that Carnival doesn't want the 'regular' guests to know about.
The altered cruise-
Due to the rampant outbreaks of the swine flu changed plans and stopped in Cabo first. Everyone was running around not knowing what was going on. I asked a staff member for a face mask to prevent infection and was referred to the infirmary. The people at the infirmary first looked at me with confusion then told me that there was nothing to worry about. If there was nothing to worry about then why did we stop? I asked. We went back and forth for what seemed all afternoon. I never did get a face mask so I took two napkins from the buffet and made my own!. This must have been a good idea because I noticed several other guests following my lead and making their own face masks. After who knows how long of sitting in the port the foreign captain announced that due to the swine flu outbreaks in Mexico we are not going to travel to Mexico. In exchange, we would be going to San Francisco. Oh Boy! We are just about on the final straw and we were only on the second day. When they announced we would get two of our port charges back totally $40 per person, I considered that a slap in the face. First they were not prepared with face masks, then they cancel Mexico, and then they expect to smooth everything over with a $40 credit. You would think a multi-million corporation would be better prepared for things like pandemics.
Another sore spot was the fact that the buffet closes at night! For those of us who enjoy a late night snack, our only options were room service, pizza and burgers.
One one night everyone was all dressed up all fancy. I thought that this was an attempt to intimidate those of us without a lot of money to get all gussied up.
The uprise onboard with some passengers in regards to the itinerary change was getting out of control. I thought the coast guard would have to be called. Some of us could not comprehend why the buffets closed late night and why we could not get face masks and still visit Mexico. I guess some of us complained enough that the line decided to make a stop back in Long Beach so anyone who wished to disembark could do so. We had a few days to think about it and since I had the time, we decided to stick it out for the rest of the cruise. We hoped we would not regret it.
The shows in the theater we beyond what I could ever see on TV. Still I cannot help but wonder what would a show would be like with professional dancers and singers. The choreography was seamless but it would have been nice to have a juggler or a comedian once in a while.
We slowly into San Francisco. I guess the ship was about to run out of fuel so we had to go in very slow to conserve.
Once in San Francisco it was horrible weather. If I would have known it would be this bad I would have gotten off back in Long Beach. Carnival staff members did nothing to let us know about the bad weather. When I asked for compensation I was completely shut down. Humph!
I couldn't wait to get back home.
Finally everything seemed to fall into place. On the voyage home I went to the Pursers desk with a list of complaints. The buffet hours, the short time in rainy San Francisco, the cancelled Mexico, the lack of face masks. Carnival values it's customers. I was very pleased that they offered a full refund less my alcohol and gratuities. I was so pleased that I added an extra few bucks for the staff. While my complaints are still valid and my hope that Carnival will work to improve, I am pleased that they know when to compensate guests who have a few constructive criticisms.