My boyfriend and I were on the Carnival Freedom out of Fort Lauderdale on October 16, 2011. The weather was terrible, and that is not the fault of the cruise line. However, we were so disappointed in the cruise, that we will probably never take another one.
We had thought the food would be fabulous or at least very good. We are flexible, so the initial number of options originally was exciting. We did not have a single HOT meal the entire time we were on-board. Or a single COLD item that should have been cold (except the ice cream). Everything was lukewarm at best; milk, fruit, meat selections, Lido buffet, restaurant, pizza, grill, it was all the same. I was so concerned about the temperature of the milk and yogurt that after a while, if I picked it up and it as not ice cold, I put it back down. I did not want to risk getting sick from bacteria laden milk.
We ate in the Chic Restaurant three times for dinner and two or three times for breakfast. We asked for changes in the menu items, as in, please leave off a sauce or add additions and it was NEVER correct when it came to us. Again, it was cold or at best slightly warm. We just stopped eating in the restaurant because the quality of the food was no better than the Lido buffet, so it did not make sense to go and be aggravated. We were so thrilled when we got off the ship at the end of the cruise and found a little diner where they served us a HOT breakfast.
Room service was another experience. While a nice convenience which we used several times, it was worse than the buffet and the restaurants. I should have known there might be a food issue when I ordered a grilled cheese. The bread came with grill marks like it had been in a sandwich press, the cheese had never seen a heat source of any kind. It was not melted in the least and the entire sandwich was cold. The same with the BLT that my boyfriend had that night. Cold, cold, cold!
Did we express our concerns about the food while on board? Yes! However, after several times, it just started to sound like whining and was grating even to our ears. However, having paid this much money for a 6 night cruise, we expected much, much more and were extremely disappointed.
What can we say about what Carnival did to us in Jamaica? While we understand the necessity because of the weather to change ports on occasion, the rundown shipyard that Carnival dumped us in was laughable. We have pictures of the "port" that we have been showing friends and they cannot believe this is where Carnival docked us.
We did not book any excursions because we like to just walk around town and get a feel of the area. We could not get into town! After the buses for the excursion left, winding their way around the car size pot holes in the road leading out of the area and they bused everyone to the other terminal, because there were two ships in port, the wait for a bus or taxi into town was interminable. The estimate was over an hour and more like two or three for a ride into town. Unacceptable! Surely, Carnival has had to make the modifications in ports of call before. We would have thought that Carnival would have had a better Plan B. Nevertheless, it was obvious to us, that Carnival just figured they had a captive audience and did not care about the problem they created by docking in Montego Bay.
In Grand Cayman, we didn't even make it into port. We spent three hours having boats push us one way and another before they finally determined the weather was too bad to get us into port. The Captain then spent an hour or so telling us he would find us another port of call, while knowing all the while he was taking us back to Key West. So, he hauled back to Key West, at a clip that made the rocking ship even more of a problem. Once Carnival has your money, you are a captive audience and yes, we did read the contract, so we know there is no recourse. However, while we have no recourse, we still have the right to be upset over bad contingency planning on Carnivals part.
Our vacation was spent sailing from Key West, around Cuba and back to Key West. Not a memorable vacation and one that we are hoping to forget very quickly. Carnival has meteorologists on staff. They knew as the rest of us onboard knew, from looking at the Weather Channel, that the bad weather in the area we were going to sail was not going to improve. The Captain of the ship telling us repeatedly that he had hoped the weather would improve was ludicrous at best. He was looking at the weather reports, what improvement was he thinking he would see! The Captain lied to us and that ticks me off more than almost anything. He should have not sailed us into the area. Again, does Carnival not have any contingency plans when the weather is just too bad to sail into an area?
As for the entertainment on board...hmmmm...what to say. Same music over and over every night. We went to a couple of shows and yawned our way through the high school-ish musical numbers. The comedians on board where mildly amusing. We played bingo one day when the weather was bad and this was the most entertaining time we had doing the cruisy activities. Thanks Tyson for a great hour.
The amount of blatant selling of merchandise going on was unexpected. Announcements were made several times a day detailing this sale or that sale of merchandise along with an art auction. It was like the old blue-light special announcements at K-mart.
Good things about the cruise? The service people work really, really hard! They deserve their tip money and then some. Our room steward was there in the morning when we left our room and there in the evening, or anytime, we returned to our room. I asked him if he ever slept, he said "No sleep, only work"! The room was the cleanest place I have probably ever stayed and the room (with the balcony) was surprisingly spacious. There were workers mopping the water off the deck around every pool and hot tub. They made every effort to make sure you would not slip and fall. If there was a drop of food on a floor or carpet, there was a swarm of folks to clean it up. I did not see one loafing worker the entire time. They work efficiently and fast. The level of service provided in most areas was truly amazing thing to watch and experience.
Maybe we were expecting too much out of cruising. Maybe it was just a weather thing or maybe it was the Cruise line that we chose, but we just cannot account for the mediocre food, lackluster entertainment, and the lies that come out of the Captains mouth, just to try to placate us and abate some of the disappointment. I can abide almost anything, and work through disappointment, but it really makes me mad when someone lies. We will not be cruising again anytime in the near future and will most assuredly let our friends and family know what to expect if they decide to cruise with Carnival.
We did relay all of the above to Carnival; however, we have not had a single reply. When we first started looking at Carnival for a cruise they were calling and sending emails to us daily. Now that we are expressing our opinion of the cruise, they are not interested.