Several years ago, I flew to Port Canaveral & sailed on the Elation. It was everything I had hoped for & far more! They exceeded my every expectation and then some. A few days ago, I returned from the Conquest and that was not the case. Now granted, I went with my severely OCD dad and the relaxation factor was somewhat strained, but I know I'm not very picky & this just did not come close to meeting my expectations. I'm a 32 year old, with two children. This cruise was my dad's first and was supposed to be a time for me to relax. :)
I live just outside Baton Rouge, Louisiana & we sailed from Galveston. The trip began with the 6 hour drive to Galveston. Everything went very smooth. The embarkation process was a little unorganized, but I was satisfied & realize it could have been far worse. We were on board around 3:00pm and promptly went to our stateroom. Everything was fine. We had requested there be 2 twin beds, but the beds were together, making one bed. I wasn't too concerned because I thought it wouldn't be a problem. We went to Lido for a drink & to leave port. The DOD was terrific and it was too cool being able to take a pic of the "best day ever" logo on the glass & post it to facebook. Gotta love making your friends jealous. haha. :)
When we returned to the room, I saw our room steward, Richard, for the first time. He was far from what I had expected. I took out $10 to give him when asking him to separate the beds. He did it, but it was very obvious he didn't want to. I actually had to qualify why I wanted separate beds!!! I couldn't believe how hesitant he was to help. :(
The first night's dinner was great in my opinion. The best meal I had on the ship was that night's lasagna. YUM! The waiter left a little to be desired, but I adored the assistant. The group I was with was upset that we were at different tables, so they requested we be moved to an area where we were all together. Personally, I didn't care but Carnival made it happen. :)
The subsequent nights were with the most amazing waiter... RICHARD!!! What a coincidence to have both our room steward & head waiter with the same name. haha. The rest of the dinner service in the MDR were great. The food was fantastic, the wait staff was so efficient, just a dream. The only thing I wish had been different was I wish they had enforced the dress code. Far too many people had on shorts, flip flops and just generally far too casual clothing. A couple of times, I spotted people in swimsuits, with shorts on!
That night, the alcohol I ordered through Bon Voyage arrived. Since the seas were a little rough for most of the cruise, I didn't drink much. I didn't want to battle sea sickness.
I quickly noticed that our room steward was not up to par because the entire time on the ship, he NEVER dusted our room. I tried to keep things kinda neat & organized to make it easy to dust, but he didn't even attempt. A couple of days, the floors were not even vacuumed! This may not be a big deal to most people, but I have severe asthma & it is a problem for me. On our 6th day, my dad dropped some coins on the floor & realized there was a large Miller Lite can under my bed. Now, in order to separate the beds, they had to have seen this! To make it even more gross, the can had been used to spit chewing tobacco into!!!!!!!!!!! Um, GROSS! The towels in the bathroom were sporadically replaced and we never had the number we started out with.
The first sea day went well without incident. I did however notice a lot of "deferred maintenance" on the ship. There were light bulbs burned out all over the place & there seemed to be very little attention to detail. In one of the 5th floor restrooms, there were stickers on the ceiling tiles that were meant to be removed after they were installed. The elevator areas had dirty plates and cups around and
Jamaica was not what I expected. Now, that is not Carnival's fault because I had no clue how much poverty there is in Montego Bay. We did have a great time anyway. We went to a beach & got a drink & offered weed. I'm not into any kind of drugs, so I declined to buy. All my friends got a laugh out of me posting on facebook "It's official, I'm in Jamaica!!! I just got offered weed!!!"
Musical variety was definitely lacking. There was an amazing calypso band outside. In Henry's (the disco) the DJ was stuck on music from the 70's and 80's. A keyboard & singer graced the lobby playing random easy listening songs (mostly from the 70's & 80's.) There was a band that played in the casino that played 70's & 80's. In the piano bar (named Blues)there was a pianist who played, you guessed it... 70's and 80's. Now, on the very last evening, there was an R&B singer. At least it wasn't 70's & 80's music!!! What ever happened to variety????
In Grand Cayman, I had an amazing time. I simply explored the area and took a dip in the sea, while my dad went on a scuba excursion. Since I have lung issues, some of the more active excursions were not an option for me. Regardless, I had an amazing time.
Cozumel didn't go quite like I had hoped. I had never taken an excursion through Carnival, so I thought I'd give it a try. The gentleman, Luis, from the excursion desk was very nice. He gave us lots of options. I wanted to go with a beach party excursion, where we would take a 10 minute bus ride to the facility, but my dad was insistent that we take the Passion Island excursion. Now, I'd be lying if I said I wanted to go on this particular one, but I compromised.
We took a "catamaran" over to the island, but it was really the exact same kind of boat we took in Cayman to get back and forth to the ship. The ride was said to take 30 to 40 minutes, but took longer than that. They left port 15 minutes late. When we arrived, they stalled a BUNCH before letting us loose on the island. The more time they took up, the less we could drink and eat. I was told there would only be 130 people there max... there were more than 250. Beer, a list of mixed drinks, kayak, paddle boats, buffet all included... Snorkeling gear could be rented. Well, they were out of beer for the longest time. They only had a few mixed drink choices and not everything advertised. Drinks were served in 8 ounce plastic cups. I didn't see any paddle boats at all. The place was dirty. The "buffet" was basically several salad ingredients separated on trays, chicken wings, nasty fried rice and a little bread. Oh, and some watermelon and overly ripened cantaloupe. They put all the food away far more than an hour before we left. They had 4 stores on the island that were grossly over priced. I couldn't rent snorkel equipment unless I went to one of their stores and bought something because they didn't have change. When I complained about that, they said it's all inclusive, so they don't carry money to make change. WELL, IF IT'S ALL INCLUSIVE, WHY SHOULD I PAY TO RENT IT??? They had no problems making change for the people who wanted to buy the pictures they took at the beginning and were $12 each!!! Now, $12 was cheap for the picture, but the point is that change was made when they needed it to be!
Oh, and they had 2 water trampolines and an alligator inflatable in the water, but two out of 3 had holes in them. The lines for drinks were super long because the drinks were so little people spent more time in line for another than actually enjoying the time. And when I told the tour guide guy that I was unhappy... he told me to complain to Carnival and he wasn't going to help!!!" I was nice when I told him I was unhappy. I wasn't irate or anything and he wasn't willing to help. Total, we were on the actual island less than 3 hours.
A bunch of people were at the excursion desk complaining when we got back. Carnival refunded 1/2 of my money. A very nice gesture on Carnival's part and I sincerely appreciate the gesture. I definitely did not request any refund or such. Even with the kind 1/2 refund... I'm still left disappointed.
The activities were almost ALWAYS late to start. I wanted to do the scavenger hunt, but there were more than 20 items to take pics of & they were rushing it & only gave 20 minutes to complete the task. The comedy was amazing. Mutzie is a great performer. I enjoyed the LED TV on Lido very much and I enjoyed the movie selections.
One other thing I was disappointed with was, they kept closing off the upper decks for one of 3 reasons. Either they were cleaning the deck, they were painting the deck or the winds were too high & they closed them.
Overall, we had a nice time, but I do realize that it was nowhere near the experience I had on the Elation. The service definitely left a lot to be desired. The lack of upkeep on the ship, combined with poor housekeeping staff did subtract from the experience. I do hope someone from Carnival reads this & decides to take action.