My wife and I chose this cruise to "try" Carnival Cruise Lines after having sailed with other vendors previously due to their lower cost. The old adage that "YOU GET WHAT YOU PAID FOR" was truly evident on the 7/15/18 ... Read More
My wife and I chose this cruise to "try" Carnival Cruise Lines after having sailed with other vendors previously due to their lower cost. The old adage that "YOU GET WHAT YOU PAID FOR" was truly evident on the 7/15/18 Pride cruise out of Baltimore, MD. Everything that could go wrong on a cruise, did on this one!
We were taking our sixth cruise (none previously on Carnival) and primarily scheduled the cruise to celebrate our 28th Anniversary as well as my 55th Birthday. We decided on the Carnival Pride mainly because it sailed out of Baltimore, MD and was relatively close to our home city. This cruise was a major disappointment from start to finish. I will order our review of this cruise from start to finish.
1) Embarkation – This was probably the most convenient part of the cruise mainly due to the disabled access facilities at the Port of Baltimore. My wife has severe rheumatoid arthritis and has difficulty walking and I have broken bones in my left leg that make walking difficult. We had made prior arrangements with Cruise411 to have handicapped access facilities provided for my wife on embarkation. As such, the Baltimore Port personnel were notified, and we were escorted to a separate and distinct part of the registration lines. There we were registered separately, and a wheelchair was brought for my wife along with an escort. I unfortunately walked and tried to keep pace with the wheelchair attendant (very quick pace and very difficult to keep stride. One issue of note though was that prior to getting in the wheelchair assistance queue there were many ignorant people not wanting to follow the rules who cut in lines throughout the process, and, the people in charge, ignored the behavior and allowed it to occur. This seemed to set the tone for the rest of the cruise.
Once on board, we had to wait for the staterooms to be ready, so we thought we’d go to customer service to take care of some onboard items. The Guest Services desk was staffed with only 2 attendants, one of which was dedicated to the Platinum members of Carnival. That meant that only one crew member was available for the rest of the sailing customers. As a result, we waited endlessly in this line for over an hour to get to the desk for assistance; further comments about guest services will be forthcoming.
We then made it to our stateroom around 2:30PM. Our bags did not make it until hours later; it was a good thing we packed a backpack of essentials as our packed items were hours away. After being in the room for a short time, we met our room steward, Habibe who explained the room cleaning process; he was very attentive. We then went to explore as best we could. We had a late lunch in the buffet area and then tried to go to dinner at our assigned dinner spot – more on this later! As another cruiser has used a school grading scale, we will assign a ‘B-‘ here.
2) Cabins – We reserved an extended balcony stateroom on Deck #7 (category 8K). The room was adequate for my wife and I and had two twin beds joined to form a king as well as a small sofa. This room would have been too small for any more than two passengers. The décor was severely outdated. Woodwork on the inside edges were scarred and scratched from obvious rough use; bed clothing was old and had staining that multiple washings had not removed. The air conditioning in our stateroom did not function for most of the cruise. Despite several attempts by onboard engineers to try to get it to function, it did not, and we spent a good deal of time in the common areas to stay cool (for health reasons). The room’s refrigerator, upon opening the first time, was warm inside and had obvious dirt and a sticky residue present. We wanted to keep some water and our medicines cool. We called guest services and later, another refrigerator was “swapped-out” – it too did not cool to a sufficiently cold temperature! This room, and the ship in general, needs to be completely overhauled and refit. Grade of ‘C-’.
3) Dining / Reservations / Meals – Immediately upon the issuance of our room cards and boarding the ship, we noted that our dinner dining reservations did not appear to be correct. After getting onboard, we pursued this with the Guest Services staff on Deck 2. We were told that our early dining reservation was booked at a table with multiple cruisers as opposed to a “table for two” that we had previously confirmed. We were told that there “was nothing that could be done” as the early dining option was sold out for the cruise and had been closed months earlier. We explained that due to health reasons we needed a table of two and were told again that nothing could be done! They said our only choice was to use “your time dining” and try to get a table for two in this manner. Why bother making reservations months in advance if pompous cruise personnel will not honor the bookings upon sailing? Other than our headwaiter, Stanley, in Your Time Dining”, this category of rating would definitely fail unfalteringly; due to Stanley’s good will only, I will assign a ‘D’ to this category.
4) Shopping – Shopping on this cruise was found to be a very limited experience. Unlike on other ships we’ve sailed, the shops were mainly limited to two small onboard venues with not much to offer. I, however, am a watch collector and found the selection of Invicta watches to be varied and plentiful. I purchased approximately 5 watches as a result. But otherwise, the shopping was not good. The sales tactics were extremely forceful, and customers and browsers constantly had offer brochures or sales invites thrust in their hands continually.
Shopping at the islands was less than eventful as well. Shops on Half Moon Cay and Freeport were very limited and consisted mainly of small huts with inexpensive trinkets for sale. Maybe they are still recovering from the hurricane, but…. Will assign a ‘C-‘ here.
5) Guest Services – This area leaves much to be desired! It appears that Carnival has a “do not care” attitude that radiates from the Corporate level down to the ship level staff. These people are clearly just putting in time and really don’t care about the concerns of the customer. I know that is common of human nature, but if you don’t care, don’t work in “customer service.” They just aren’t able to process customer requests promptly, if at all! They constantly have to refer to a superior for a resolution; the most common comment heard was, “I’ll have to Check with My Supervisor.”
Our problems started the first day when our dining reservations were incorrectly recorded. We had guaranteed early dining at a table for two months before sailing and now found this not to be the case. After waiting in the guest services line for over an hour, we were told that nothing could be done, and we’d have to now use, “Your Time Dining”; why make reservations months in advance if they aren’t going to be honored? It should also be noted here that on the (arguably) busiest customer service day of the cruise, the staff was limited to two personnel; again, one of which was reserved for Platinum passengers.
Another issue faced in Guest Services is lack of knowledge. We were having difficulty in getting the Carnival Hub app to work on our phones and requested help from Guest Services. A staff member at the desk instructed us to “turn off Airplane Mode” and to “turn on Wi-Fi” and showed us how to do this. He then displayed to us that the Hub app was in fact working on our phones. Well, it turned out that this reprogramming of our phones by guest services cost me about $200 in international roaming charges. Help turned out to be a hinderance.
Based on their inability to complete guest services issues in a timely manner (if at all), we’ll give a ‘F’ rating here.
6) Noise Levels and Disturbances – The noise levels in the staterooms, hallways, and most common areas was raucous. It seemed that most of the parents who had kids older than 10 “turned them loose” on the ship and let them do as they pleased. Very noisy!! The young teens were boisterous and out of control, running all over, banging walls, making stomping sounds between walls and ceilings, and generally being disruptive. Don’t try to spend any peaceful time in your stateroom as it is likely that you will have these “young adults” on either side of you banging walls, doors, or running; a serene environment is impossible. What a way to celebrate an anniversary and a birthday!! Despite comments to staff, nothing was done to abate it. Noise levels and disturbances definitely rate a ‘D’ if not even lower.
7) Excursions – We booked several excursions on the various island stops we were to make, but after taking part in the first one on our agenda, we cancelled all the remaining. Here’s why: We booked the Hummer Excursion Tour on Grand Turk. Upon debarkation from the ship we went to the excursion hut for the Hummers at 8:15am for an 8:30am departure and signed in. Participants seemed slow to arrive and at 8:25 we were told that we would be leaving in a “short time” despite that fact. Time passes and at approximately 8:50am we were told that they were waiting on one more family and they were told that they “couldn’t go on the tour without them!” They finally arrived, and we moved off to the parking lot to pick-up our vehicles. Upon arriving at the departure lot, we found that there weren’t enough vehicles prepared for the number of participants and staff would have to get another one ready. They did, and we were given Hummer “No. 01” for our tour. After driving a very short distance we noted that the “gas pedal” was not functioning and the Hummer would not move forward; we flagged down one of the guides, told him of the trouble, and a second vehicle was brought out, so we could continue our tour (after a long wait) – this was vehicle No. 07. We then used #07 for a short time when it too, began to malfunction and would not keep pace with many of the other vehicles on tour. Again, we flagged down the guide for help, but we were told that there were no other vehicles for replacement and we would have to continue with the one we were in (#07) – and as a result we had to lag the other participants and “bring up the rear”. Caused extreme inconvenience and embarrassment.
Upon returning to the excursion desk, we tried to convey our concerns over this much troubled excursion. The hut personnel were unconcerned and dismissive and seemed to not care about the inconveniences we experienced. Again, the theme for poor customer service emanates here as well.
Other adventures were troublesome as well and we found it prudent to cancel the rest of our excursions. This category gets a solid “F”.
8) Ship Condition – This Pride started its sea service in 2002 and it REALLY SHOWS IT AGE! I have noted and taken pictures of areas of rust throughout the ship. There is rust on the life boat booms which appears to be a safety concern and should be corrected at once. The ship’s crew is constantly repairing areas of the ship and inconveniencing customers by shutting off certain areas, spreading noxious fumes and shutting down elevators during the entire cruise (is this not a safety concern). Two of four main Atrium glass elevators were out of order for the entire cruise funneling passengers into other elevators in the fore and aft sections of the ship. It appears that based on appearances, this ship needs a MAJOR overhaul. Surfaces on common areas were faded, discolored, water marked, etc. The ship is clearly outdated, old and lacks conveniences needed by travelers. This subject area earns a ‘D’.
9) Frustrations – Many things on this cruise were annoying. The Cruise Director, Ryan Rose had a very piercing and annoying voice and it seemed that pre-recorded scripts were projected instead of live conversation. Many items were in a state of disrepair; Guest Services would not give useful aid; reservations were not honored; and there was a general lack of concern on behalf of Carnival for its customers. ‘F’
10) Summary – This was a complete revelation into the world of “discount” cruising – you truly get what you pay for! Unlike peer cruise lines, Carnival truly does not care about its customers or their satisfaction. An earlier cruiser likened this to the Walmart of Cruising, I would compare it to something lower in scale…. "F' overall. Don’t be disappointed, cruise elsewhere. Read Less