Did we expect too much???????????
Our best friends had been on this cruise 2 years ago and had so much fun that they talked us into going back with them. I guess lots of things change in 2 years. We had numerous problems:
1) Because we wanted rooms with connecting balconies and the ability to open the door between our balconies we booked our cruise 6 months in advance with a CARNIVAL AGENT. Both of us stressed that we wanted the ability to open the door between our balconies. For 6 months the talk every weekend was how much fun we were going to have, how nice it would be to sit on our balconies and enjoy the sunrises and sunsets together.
We ask our room steward, Mary Ann (who was WONDERFUL) to open the connecting door on our balcony and she tells us she is sorry but that is not possible as the door cannot be secured. We are puzzled by this since we were told by the booking agent we the door absolutely cannot be opened because it cannot be secured. When we explain that we specifically us making such a request and there is nothing they can do. So because a CARINVAL AGENT failed to do his job properly we suffer. Come to find out our room was on one side of the bulkhead and our friends rooms on the other, there are only 8 balcony rooms on the entire ship that are this way (should the booking agent have known this????) .
2) After booking our excursions we discover that one of the excursions was charged to someone else's account. The excursion desk quickly fixed it but made me aware that we needed to closely monitor our own account in case this happened to us and was not corrected.
3) A week prior to leaving I called the Carnival Customer Service number to inquire whether I could use a Visa cash card to secure my Sign & Sail account. I was told there would be no problem since it had the Visa logo on it and was directed to the rules online. Imagine our surprise that after booking our excursions on ship with no problem when we go to purchase an underwater camera we are told our card was rejected and we needed to go to Guest Services. Guest Services tells me that the cash card is only approved for $50 in charges for the ENTIRE WEEK. I try explaining that I had been told otherwise by CARNIVAL prior to using the cash card but only get a response of she could not override the system. I go to my room and get a copy of CARNIVAL'S rules and my cash card agreement and go back to Guest Services to show that a) CARNIVAL's rules state a cash card is not a problem and b) my cash card agreement shows there is a $1500 a day limit (we were no where near that much in charges yet). I am told that it is not a Carnival issue that it is the card issuing banks doing; I explain that is not true as I am an officer with the bank and that is not our rule. Guest Services still insist there is nothing they can do; however, I can go to the ATM on ship and withdrawal cash to secure my charges with. I find it very strange that if the bank only allows a $50 limit that she thinks I can get cash out of the ATM. $6 ATM fee later I take Guest Services cash. Oh and by the way....I use the same cash card on shore to make purchases and NEVER had a problem, so don't tell me it is a bank issue!!!!
4) We purchased liquor at Blackbeard's in Grand Caymans as they were the only shop to carry a particular brand of rum we wanted. The shop will not allow us to carry the liquor, they tell us it has to be delivered to the ship. The next day I check with Guest Services to make sure it was delivered; they cannot find the delivery in the computer log and ask me to check back later. Later that evening I check back and it still is not in the computer system however the clerk calls down to the ship's storage to check for me. After waiting 20 minutes she still has not gotten back to me and I leave to go to our assigned dining time. After dinner I go once again to check on it and it still is not in the computer log. At this time I am basically told it is my fault for not buying from a Carnival guaranteed shop (makes me wonder if Carnival gets a kick back form these shops). The next morning I go once again to check on the delivery and the clerk calls the storage again, after waiting in front of her this time she calls storage back and tells them to go check now as the customer is standing in front of her. She asks if she can please leave a message in our room (her line is backing up and she needs us to move along) as soon as she hears back from storage. Within 5 minutes she calls us and tells us that yes indeed our liquor had been delivered. After all these trips to Guest Services this is the first time I get an apology from anyone at Carnival!!!!!!!!!! I truly believe that since I did not purchase from a Carnival guaranteed shop that if I had not pursued knowing if our liquor had been delivered that come disembarkation day we would have been told our liquor had never been delivered.
5) Food on buffet was blah. One day the food was outright cold. Very few vegetables on buffet.
6) Not many activities on board unless you wanted to sit through some talks about how to shop, excursions, and offerings in the spa. The usual first night pool party with the congo line did not take place until Tuesday night. In fact, we did not even know that there was in fact a cruise director or who he was until Tuesday night and then we saw him by video. This is where we REALLY missed being able to open our balcony doors----the 4 of us have no problem sitting and entertaining ourselves but it was hard to do leaning over the balcony railings to talk to each other.
7) About 10 decorative lights in lobby lounge were out-------really Carnival you can't find time to change out a few burned out bulbs?
8) None of the activities we participated were on time.....so much for running on ship's time.
9) Had the WORST waiter for open dining room service at breakfast one morning. Took 3 times of my husband asking to get a large glass of orange juice and he never got the grape jelly he asked for. Waiter never spoke to us except to ask what we wanted. We could understand this if the dining room had been crowded but there were only about 25 tables seated at that time.
10) Golf course in Jamaica was not worth the $$. Course not maintained well, however the view was fabulous.
GOOD THINGS (yes there were a few):
1) Room Steward Mary Ann was excellent. Knew our names and what time we got up by the 2nd morning. Keep drinks in our cooler iced down without us having to ask. And of course made wonderful towel animals for us.
2) Evening wait staff in dining room, Mr. "T" and his crew were truly fabulous; very personable. We looked forward to dinner every night. And the food was excellent.
3) Ports were great. Catamaran excursion would have been nicer had 10 or 12 less people had been packed onboard. The catamaran crew was great.
4) The absolute best excursion was the Go Jeep in Cozumel. We got to see more of the island, went to a beautiful secluded beach area.
5) Movies on the deck very nice; however, when we could smell popcorn popping at the bar and went to get some we were told we had to wait until the movie started. 5 minutes AFTER the movie started and after several people told the waiter we were missing the movie he finally decided to serve us.
All in all not a pleasant experience for 1st time cruisers. Next time we will try Royal Caribbean (despite what Carnival thinks they are not the only game in town).