My husband, son (age 7), daughter (age 6) , my mother and myself flew to Houston from New York State on February 18, 2011, the day before our cruise. We rented a car and stayed at the Holiday Inn Sunspree Resort (which was acceptable, but not worth the high rate). The hotel allowed us to park our rental car in their lot for $20. The evening before the cruise, there was thick dense fog which continued into the morning of our cruise. We went to the terminal and dropped our luggage off and went inside. We were allowed to check in, but were told that the port was closed due to the dense fog. The cruise ship was outside the port waiting for it to open so that they could dock. We were told to walk around Galveston and to come back to the terminal at 6:00 pm for an "update". We returned to the terminal at about 4:30 pm and waited until 6:00 pm for the "update". The update was that there would be an update in an hour and this continued every hour all evening until about 10:00 pm. At that point were told that the port was still closed and that we had the option of getting a refund on our cruise or getting a hotel and returning in the morning. We were given a list of hotels in Houston (40 miles from the port) because all of the hotels in Galveston were booked. We had no option but to get a hotel because we were there from out of town and had no way home. The hotel list had incorrect phone numbers and after we finally got the phone numbers and made a reservations, we had to collect all of our luggage and take a shuttle bus to Houston where we were dropped off at our hotel. We were informed by Carnival that the hotel would be at our own expense, but they would give us a 25% refund on our cruise and $45 a person for meals. The next morning we were to return to the terminal for our cruise. Due to the delay, we would not be going to Progresso as planned only to Cozumel.
The dense fog and the port being closed were outside of the control of Carnival; however, the decisions that the company made to deal with the situation were absolutely horrible. In the morning we were to get on Carnival's web site for an "update" on the situation at 9:00 am. No update came until 1:00 pm when hotel staff informed us that the port was open and that Carnival was sending shuttle busses to come and get us and take us to the terminal. Galveston has the capacity for two cruise ships to dock. There was a Royal Caribbean ship and the Carnival Conquest that were scheduled to set sail on that day. Instead of docking the Ecstasy and letting the passengers off that were stuck on there an extra day, Carnival decided that the Ecstasy passengers were already delayed in their trip, so they would dock the Conquest first so that that ship would not be delayed. Therefore, people who had been in the Ecstasy an extra night due to fog were not let off and the Conquest gusts were allowed to board as planned. Why would they not let the Conquest be delayed a few hours so that the Ecstasy guests who were delayed for two days could board? It was absolutely ridiculous. Those of us who were scheduled to sail the day before were taken to the Galveston Convention Center where we sat all day waiting for "updates". Carnival provided cokes and bags of potato chips that were supposed to appease us. There was no meal allowance given for the second day that we were delayed. We sat in that Convention Center until 2:00 am before they finally sent busses and allowed us to board the ship. We were told that the port was once again closed for fog and we may not be able to go to Cozumel either. In the morning we were given a letter stating that we would not be going to Cozumel, so we could disembark and get our money back or set sail for a 3 day cruise to nowhere. Being from out of state with no way home, we had no choice but to stay on the ship.
The Carnival employees were rude and nasty and had no empathy for the situation. I understand that they were stressed, but the way we were treated by the staff was unacceptable. The waiters were rude and the guest services employees were even ruder. On the day we were to disembark, there was once again fog. We were told that the first passengers would get off at 10:30. If we got off at that time, we would just make our flight. We were trying to tell guest services that it was going to cost $150 a ticket times 5 for airport change fees plus the cost difference in the plane fare if we did not get off the boat with the first group. We were told that everyone wants off and it is "weather related", therefore, not their problem. We finally found once Carnival employee named Gary who got us in with the group to get off first. Gary was the only nice employee that we encountered on this cruise. We just made out 1:00 flight in the nick of time.
The food on the cruise was good for the most part. We enjoyed the two shows and if the weather had been nicer, I think that we would have had a better time. It was too cold to use the pool since the water was so cold, and the two hot tubs were crowded. The kids enjoyed the camp carnival. A lot of the time we were bored, and it seemed like there was not much planned since we were supposed to be in port for two of the days. I would have thought they would plan more entertainment since were unable to get off the boat at the ports. This was my 6th cruise and I have loved every one of them until this one. We are supposed to be credited for 50 % of our cruise, but that is not worth it for a ruined vacation. Our family only gets one vacation a year and this year was a complete disaster. I will never sail with Carnival again.