I really wanted this to be a great, glowing report of the Miracle Thanksgiving Cruise....Nov 18-26, 2011.....but.....
It started out pretty good, but as the cruise went on, the service went downhill, and so did the food.
This was my 8th Carnival cruise.
I should divulge that I was nursing a hurt back, so I was in a bit of discomfort to start with.
I got into the port terminal at 11:30..... The line moved slowly from the door onward. CCL has to devise a better system. I was carrying my computer and a briefcase with meds, as I'm also diabetic....with bad feet. Someone checked my passport, and boarding pass. We were herded into an area where the masses were divided into two lines. Okay, lines don't move at the same rate, but the left side was zooming. My line was barely moving. After snaking through the building I found out why. We were going to the scanner, and luggage x-ray.....the left line was using the VIP machines, plus 2 others.....the right lane was using one machine, with an occasional passenger being directed to one of the other machines.....so left line 3 machines....right line 1 machine.
After being scanned.....don't know why I had to take off my belt....I wasn't ready to hang myself yet!!!
Now I had to go upstairs to the big corral. Some people were being herded to the right side line....others to the left side. There were hundreds of pax in here. I got sent to the left line. Okay CCL has to do something about this system. My group was snaking through the serpentine line at a snails pace. As I got closer to the last couple of lanes it became apparent why. The other line was using two-thirds of the check in agents.....my line was using one-third......of them.....out of 20+ agents....our line...8 agents. (Yes, I counted best I could.) Many people were telling the CCL rep at the front of the line that it wasn't fair. She was unconscious, and was missing the check in agents calling for "next"......the passengers nearest to check in were telling her what agents were yelling next. By this time my back was killing me. I finally was next, she didn't notice, I did. I got my S&S card, and proceeded to the ship. I step on to the ship at 1:05. 11:30 to 1:05.....in line, in pain.
I got on an elevator, and made my way to my cabin....I was early (1:30 availability for the cabins) but I was in pain, and traveling alone so I wanted to drop off my stuff, and check my sugar levels, as I could tell I needed something to eat. I dropped off my stuff in the cabin.....nobody was around. I went up to the lido.....it was a mob scene....I thought I wandered into an "OCCUPY CARNIVAL"! No way I could get to the buffet. I found my way to the grill, and was able to fairly quickly get a burger. As I walked around looking for a place to sit, I had to balance the tray and eat fries to keep my sugar level from crashing. I walked trough the entire deck twice, and was unable to find an open table after almost 15 min. A CCL person seeing I was wandering around suggested I try the aft section again. I did, and did finally find a space to put my try down at the end of the bar. I picked up my now really cold burger for a bite, when a guy came, and stood beside me, lit up a smoke....I was on the starboard (smoking side). After his second puff, my second bite, he starting hacking. I had to leave......it was after 1:30....cabins were officially open, and I had some granola bars that would bring my sugar level up to normal.....and I could finally get off my feet, and take something for my back pain. Damn....hope it gets better from here.
My suitcase came fast, so I unpacked. Still missing a small soft-sided cooler with 16 cans of diet orange....hope it didn't get confiscated. Had some calls to make, and it was during a call I was asked if I got my early seating for dinner....I had been wait-listed. I was now "My Time". As long as I could eat early, I was going to be happy.
Muster drill went as usual...but it was really windy, and sprinkled a bit...but over quickly.
Went back to the cabin, and my soda had arrived...intact.
I met my cabin steward. I asked that the mini bar be cleared out when he got a chance, and he insisted on doing it then. I told him just remove the cans. He wanted to know if I wanted ice for the container I had the soda in...I declined, but asked for a "sharps container" (for insulin needles)..he would bring one at dinner time, (and did).
I felt the ship moving, and went out on the balcony ....it was really windy, and choppy, so I was only out there a few minutes. I decided to lie down, and hope to find a comfortable position that my back would tolerate.
I decided to go to the lido buffet for dinner, fearing that my back would hurt too much in the dining room, as that takes much longer for dinner, especially the first night. Although there were few people there, the line moved really slowly. The food was really good.....at least I thought so. I found that the buffet was pretty much the same as main dining, but the comfort food items (meat loaf, fried chicken) weren't at the buffet, which I felt would have been a great place to have them. I returned to the cabin to rest up for the 10:30 Welcome Aboard" show.....only one show tonight. Malcom (in the middle, woo-hoo!) Burns is the CD. Had him on a previous cruise, and he does a okay, to good, job. Typical first show. I was ready for another pain pill and bed after. The bed was comfy, the seas a but rough....but not overly so, and I like the motion, so I drifted off quickly.
Morning buffets were usually pretty good, with the breakfast potato, and sausage changing daily. One morning I swear they had cut up hotdog...but the sign said kielbasa....hmm.?? Ham and bacon were daily items.
I ordered room service coffee just about every morning. The first day they answered the phone right away. Every other, I was put in queue, and answered usually within 5 min. Coffee was delivered in about 10 minutes. My only issue was that it was only warm, not hot, most mornings, and was only about 4 cups. With a bit of sugar free vanilla powdered coffee mate, it was
drinkable...but by the 3rd cup, the coffee was barely lukewarm, and the Coffee Mate wouldn't dissolve. The coffee in the lido was super hot. I did mention that the coffee had not been hot when I called room service on Thursday AM......still got warm, not hot coffee.
Elegant night, I was looking forward to lobster, and my first trip to the "My Time" dining room. I got down there just after opening, and there was a really long line....past the elevators and into the lounge. I decided to come back a little later....but my sugar level was saying I had to eat NOW ! Of course, they don't have lobster at the buffet, but I grabbed some carbs, and figured I'd go to the MDR for lobster in about an hour. When I went back there there still were people waiting, I decided I didn't need lobster bad enough to wait, for who knows how long. I have had no issues with anytime dining on NCL, and RCCL...maybe it's just on this size ship, with only one dining room?? I tried again the next night and was told it would be at least an hour if I wanted to dine solo. Diabetes dictates when I should eat.....so it was the buffet for me the rest of the cruise.
Food ended up being hit or miss.....some good, some not so good, turned out mostly the latter. I really enjoyed the food on my last CCL cruise, on the Dream a little over a year ago. Service in the lido buffet was also hit or miss....dirty tables a lot....service people milling about talking. I did ask a young lady for chocolate milk one noon time, and she did go out of her way to find it, and then find me....but she was the exception, thank you young lady from Hungry. (I was unable to find milk at lunch for whatever reason, everyday and had to ask for it at the dessert station) .The bacon police showed up around Tuesday....but not at every station.
I don't know why they insist on playing really intrusive music constantly.....not conductive to good digestion at dinner time.....finding a quiet place to enjoy a cup of coffee, after dinner, was a challenge on the Miracle.
It seemed that my cabin was getting cleaned while I went to eat.....but by Tuesday that changed. Tuesday morning it was still not made up by 11. When I returned after noon time I had no ice. Around 1 the ice man cometh....same thing Wed. Apparently that way the ice almost lasts till dinner time. A nit-pick about the room...the bath light didn't come on for 6 to 8 seconds after turning on the switch. I was in the forward starboard section, close to the bridge....a nice quiet spot.
The balcony glass was in horrendous shape, and they cleaned the balconies of salty residue when we got to to St Marten.....but the glass looked like it had not been cleaned....I think it is beyond cleaning. The ship itself was in good shape, and although I seldom saw anybody cleaning and polishing, it was very clean. Tuesday night when I left for dinner (I am a creature of habit, and usually room stewards can set their watches by my schedule)...when I returned about 8 the room still hadn't been made up. Wed the room wasn't made up when I left the ship in St Kits at 11 A.M. When I went to the past guest party at 5:15, and returned to the cabin at 7:15, it still had not been made up...with no stewards in sight. At 7:45 the cabin stewards made their appearance, and said they could come back later....I left the room so they could tidy up. I guess they only make them up at one time instead of first seating, then second seating cabins. This doesn't work for me....I do spend much time in the cabin when I travel solo. It seemed like on previous cruises, almost as soon as you left your cabin, it was cleaned up post haste....not anymore....no make up till after 11 A.M...no ice till after 1 PM, and evening turn-down till after 8. Not sure if they save money this way, or what the logic is....maybe it was just my cabin location?
At the past guest party it was announced that the entertainer for tonight's show didn't make it to the ship because of an airline issue. Instead they were going to present something (Silent Movie) that Malcom says he's been doing since his asst CD days. I saw this before on another CCL cruise (with Malcom) when the entertainer had an issue with the airlines. Unfortunately, the comedians for the rest of the cruise were on the same flight, so there would be no comedy shows for the rest of the cruise either, although I didn't hear this advertised...there just wasn't any comedy shows .
The TV channels were 4 networks...1 from NY (Buffalo?), Miami, I think one from Canada, 1 that didn't work most of the time... (ch 18....started working wed night) One station had no sound for a few days. Another had a frozen image. Voices were out of sync on one. The CCL commercial stations worked well. The aft camera was like looking though dense fog....but became a grainy picture on Thursday.
The entertainment was okay. They do use a combination of canned music/backup voices, along with the 10 piece orchestra The band was a very good jazz band. They were in the process of changing production show entertainers, so we got to see the old and the new. The juggler was pretty good, and they had a guy do some singing, and entertaining the night of the new dancers did their first show. He was really great...wish I could remember his name. The dancers need a bit more rehearsing. It was always freezing in the Phantom Showroom....I think I know where they store the ice for the cabins! The rest of the ship was also cold, and too noisy for my taste.
The 2 comedians that were there for the first couple nights were pretty good, both family, and adult shows (which were very adult, but they do warn you a few times!).
As I said earlier, the food went downhill. Tuesday there was nothing appealing to me at the buffet I decided I wouldn't try the MDR as I do have to eat on a schedule....and unless I want to share a large table with strangers every night (which I really didn't feel up to doing on this cruise.....as my back was bothering me). I tried the deli for a grilled ham and cheese, the cheese wasn't melted, the ham was cold....but the bread was toasted. AT lunch again slim pickings, so I tried a hamburg....really dried out, and the bun was on the plate upside down....it was black...burnt...I guess that's why they put it upside down. I would be embarrassed to serve that to a dog. Dinner in the buffet featured meat loaf...which actually wasn't bad, but there was no mashed taters, or gravy....just ice cold sticky rice, (same nasty riceTue night) and baked (steamed) potato. Jerk pork roast was very tough as have been the lamb (served at lunch and dinner Tuesday, and the almost daily pork roast. The fish was pretty good most of the time.
Thursday the lunch buffet was one part Caribbean food (they featured a nation each day....could have sworn they already did Carib earlier in the week??) The Asian daily station wasn't my favorite, as I don't like spicy , hot food. I settled for a greasy spring roll, and cold fried rice. Very difficult to find an empty table....and if the food was hot, it wasn't by the time you sat down.
The teens on the ship were mostly behaved as far as I saw. Typical kid stuff, like pushing all the elevator buttons....kids having fun, I guess.....but I have been on several cruises Thanksgiving week, and expected this.
The TV interactive service on Thurs was not available till mid afternoon.
Dinner Thanksgiving in the lido buffet was turkey, of course, some kind of whipped sweet potato, stuffing that was chunks of wet bread and other stuff...but very lacking in taste, baked potato...no mashed....grilled shrimp, oysters "nastyfella" , a couple other things I don't remember. There was a cranberry jam....not the berry sauce, nor the jellied stuff from a can, but like a breakfast jam, only cranberry flavor.
The show Thanksgiving night was the Ticket to Ride show.....was okay. But I've seen it a couple times already.
Thursday night the sea started getting a little rocky again.....lovin' the motion !
Friday the room stewards were out in force early...before 9 AM... I went to breakfast, and by 10:15 my cabin had been made up, and the luggage bed protector, disembarkation tags, info and customs forms were there. I also had ice!! There was also an envelope for the Maitre D's tip.....seeing this is the first cruise, out of more than 20, that I have never went to the Dining Room...I chuckled a bit. I had even thought of removing the Waiter's tips......seeing nobody ever waited on me, and only once during the cruise did anybody in the lido ask if I wanted something to drink. I even bussed my dishes a few times, to free up a table.....but I left the tips on my Sign and sail......not sure why though!! Even when the tables were cleared of dirty dishes, most of the time they were not washed off, and were still sticky, and dirty.
Anyway, I seem to recall they did all the disembarkation stuff at the evening cleaning/turn-down. I have a feeling the stewards will be around tonight too....early, and late.
Lunch on Fri had the American nation station. Again, nothing was really good, okay, but not great. They had the chocolate fountain thing, but you'd think they were giving away oil. The line was long...real long..I just used the regular dessert station, which had a swan crÃ¨me puff shell thingy, that had ice cream in it. The ice cream was good....shell tasted stale.
Dinner Fri night had a bigger than usual crowd....(tip stiffers??) Again, nothing really good, but good and cold. If anybody comes up with a way for a cruise line to serve HOT lido food that is still hot by the time you get to eat it, they will make a fortune.....I would have loved to be able to nuke my meals....maybe they would have tasted better if hot.
Customer Legends Show tonight at 10:30. Pretty sure there was more customer provided entertainment this cruise, than CCL provided. I've seen this more times than I care to admit. nk I skipped this one, and went to bed.
Debarkation went pretty well. We were docked at 5AM. I thought I heard an announcement at 6AM for self assist.....or maybe I was dreaming. I was zone 8, and was off the ship a bit after 9, and was through customs (even though I was in the slow line....always happens) and out the door by 9:30.
Just as a warning. I applied a Future Cruise Credit ($100) to this cruise. I found out debarkation day when I got my S&S statement that it is NON-Refundable. I lost $7.76....not a really big deal, but I didn't see is as NON-Refundable on the Interactive TV. Just be aware of this....I wasn't .
I enjoy cruising mostly for the Balcony, and being able to relax out there....especially in the morning, with a pot of coffee. Thankfully I had great neighbors, who seldom used theirs, and weren't smokers......yay !!!
I think it's time to try Celebrity....I hear they have really good food, and service.