The Carnival Spirit cured of us any desire to consider Carnival for another cruise. We will never sail Carnival again. The embarkation was horrible. We were sailing in a suite, giving us "priority embarkation." There was nothing priority in our 1-1/2 hour wait in numerous lines -- you would just get done with one line and there would be another hidden around the corner. We had several issues with the cabin itself (although the cabin, itself, was good). We pressed the button for Room Steward on the telephone, which was answered by Guest Services -- not the Cabin Steward. We left messages several times. We never saw the Cabin Steward until after we had dinner that night, when she appeared to give us the "rules" and reprimanded us for calling Guest Services (not what we were trying to do). One of our complaints was the extreme noise generated by the exhaust fan in the dressing area. We named it our "747." The noise was enough that we could not listen to TV without turning the volume way up. Conversation was a challenge, especially for my husband who is hard of hearing. We were told that they couldn't do anything. Either it would be loud or the bathroom would stink. We suffered through this for several days, then decided to put a piece of paper (it would hold a book if you kept the pages together) over the vent. They were right. We soon noticed the smell of mold coming from the bathroom. We alternated between noise and stink for the rest of the cruise. We found the art in the room to be very offensive (close to child pornography).
The late sail away seems totally unnecessary. We had just sailed on a 28-day cruise in November. The ship (Princess) loaded everything and got underway on time (4:00 p.m.). All Carnival could keep saying was, "we have to load provisions for "15 DAYS.'" I don't know how many time we heard that refrain. They were still loading luggage at 10:00 that night. Very poorly organized or incompetent (you pick).
The staff in general didn't seem to give a damn. Our waiters in the dining room served our needs, but didn't put any personality into it. We could not find any Lido staff that seemed to enjoy their jobs, or even care about anything. The only staff member we could find that had a consistent smile on his face was the "ice cream man" on the pool deck in the afternoon. It was such a change that he was quite noticeable.
Activities were a farce. Didn't Carnival know that we would be spending 9 days at sea on this cruise. If you wanted to gamble or play bingo, you probably could find something to do. We are trivia people and can normally find trivia that is fun and challenging. We tried a few trivia games that were neither. Again, the staff didn't seem to be enjoying their jobs at all. The trivia carried on from one day to the next, so if you missed the first day, you were woefully behind. The activities staff had the option of choosing which questions they gave each team. The first trivia marathon was run by a staff member from Brooklyn, choosing what it seemed were quite easy questions for the team from Brooklyn. After a couple days, she was called on it and came up with a random method to select questions. The second trivia marathon was the same -- staff selection of questions for teams. There were certainly not enough activities for 9 days at sea. We built a boat to enter in the boat building contest. This contest was to be judged on creativity, sea-worthiness, and carrying capacity. One of the boats was very creative and you could tell the builder spent much time and detail on construction. In the end, the only thing the boats were judged on was carrying capacity. We won because ours was big and carried a lot; it certainly was not the most creative or the most attractive. We received a bottle of champagne and were told we would get our trophy later (we're still waiting for our "ship on a stick"). The production shows were good; fly-on entertainment was hit and miss. Most was mediocre at best.
Our major complaint was Medical and Guest Services. I came down with Shingles on the second day at sea. At the time we didn't know what it was and went to Medical to get bandages and Hydro-cortisone cream to treat it. That didn't help and by the next day knew we needed to seek medical attention. Medical was "Closed Due to a Medical Emergency." We thought this would be short-term, but after two days it was still closed. We tried many avenues to get their attention. We called (they MIGHT open the next day), we banged on the door (no one answered most times). We did get someone (an RN in scrubs) to come to the door once, who took our cabin number and assured us they would get in touch with us and would find us even if we were not in our cabin. We are still waiting for that call-back. My husband went to Guest Services and asked if they could help us locate a doctor on shore so I could get medical treatment. Their answer was, "No." Some time after that I went to Guest Services and complained that I didn't think I was getting good service as a guest. The man at the desk basically told me that I shouldn't be so selfish; they were "trying to save a life down there." I fully understood that, just did not understand how it could take the entire medical staff's full time attention to care for a patient. The only response I ever got from Guest Services was "they're trying to save a life down there." After hearing that refrain several times, I left the desk in tears of pain and frustration. Never once was I asked for my cabin number, name, or medical problem. The Shingles continued to get painfully worse and spread, so we were forced to cancel all our plans for Honolulu and seek medical attention on our own. I was examined in the Emergency Room at Queen Emma's hospital in Honolulu; diagnosed with Shingles, given prescription pain meds, and started the prescribed treatment. I can't say enough about the staff at Queen Emma's. On our way back from Hawaii, I went to Guest Services and asked for the name of the head of Customer Service in Miami. That was a difficult question; they told me they didn't have a name. But it did seem to get their attention. I was called by two supervisors and a manager of Guest Services but, as I told them, it was too late for them to do anything at that point. I have contacted Miami and have not, to date, had any response. We will update this post when we receive a reply from them.
Disembarkation was, as we should have anticipated, a disaster. We were late starting the disembarkation, there was no enforced organization. They told people to wait elsewhere for their numbers to be called, but did nothing to clear the disembarkation area of people standing around waiting. Once they did start to call numbers, no one was checking who got in the horrendous line to get off. People with high disembarkation numbers were getting off before those who had low numbers because of early flights. I know one couple almost missed their flight because they had chosen to carry their luggage off with them (should have been the first ones off); but the ship never announced "carry-off passengers" to disembark.
We will not cruise Carnival again, and we will not recommend it to anyone. They just don't seem to be able to get their act together and, even worse, they don't seem to care.