My wife and I have cruised with Carnival three times prior and found Carnival to be on par with NCL and Princess. There are things we liked about each line and there were really no stand out differences that set any of them apart until now.
As most people in the cruise world know, the Splendor had an engine room fire and left it floating dead at sea. For three days the passengers were without stateroom lighting, fed countless sandwiches made of any and everything, and several different versions of salads made with every conceivable non-perishable ingredient. Contrary to some reports, there WAS actually SPAM served, the people reporting the contrary probably just missed out.
In addition the elevators were not working and the meals were often served several floors from the staterooms so many people had many stairs to deal with. This posed a problem with the elderly or the not so capable passengers. Several of the aft rooms were also without flushing toilets and the affected guests were required to use the operating public restrooms. The engineers eventually got water flowing to most cabins but was cold.
I will not get into the details of the fire, but being a firefighter the response team must be commended for a job well done. At no time did I ever feel that were were ever in life threatening peril.
Thank you to the Mexican Navy, the U.S. Coast Guard, the Crew of the Ronald Reagan, and to the two Mexican tugs that towed us to San Diego. We felt safe at all times because we knew that friends were near.
The real reason we are writing this is because the Carnival Splendor crew and the Carnival Corporate employees are exceptional and deserve to be recognized. During this ordeal the crew made the safety and comfort of the guests their priority. If you can imagine the crew were subjected to the same conditions we were, but they constantly toiled and worked to keep us as comfortable as possible.
Feeding three thousand people three meals a day without cooking facilities and having to move that food up the stairs to the dining rooms is no small feat. Each and every of the crew carried and eventually set up "bucket brigade" lines up the stairs moving tons of food and supplies to the dining areas. Up as many as 10 floors. Wow, what a sight, and they did it singing and smiling to the guests.
As most people can understand, among the guests, emotions were running high and it was apperent that there were three thousand very unhappy people locked up in close quarters. The guest service desk had a consistent line up of people with concerns, but as I listened, it was apparent that people were frustrated and just wanted to be heard. The staff always offered a sympathetic ear and a caring smile to help people through their tough times. I have to say that Joanne and her staff were absolutely incredible, particularly Roombie, and any of the countless ladies that were there to hug my wife in her times of need.
The Carnival employees located in Miami have exceeded any expectations and have hit the stratosphere in customer service. These people have worked day and night to make arrangements for three thousand guests to get accommodations off the ship and have made travel plans for each and every guest to get home. Can you imagine having to set up last minute flights and hotels for three thousand people? I can't. In addition the ladies at extension 70038 managed to get my wife and I on the Carnival Spirit for the last week of our two week vacation as were were originally booked on the Splendor for two cruises back to back.
We really have to say thank you as well to Ema, the beautiful dancer with the big heart that hugged my wife and wouldn't let her go.
If you read or hear any negatives about Carnival, please remember that what happened could have happened to any other cruise line, but I believe Carnival was exceptional in the way they handled the situation.
Thank you to everyone at Carnival, you are all our heroes.