ELEVATORS - You can’t just jump on an elevator because there are no buttons inside to select your floor. You must select a floor BEFORE entering, so 2 elevators arrive, you miss them both while programing your desired floor, or even ... Read More
ELEVATORS - You can’t just jump on an elevator because there are no buttons inside to select your floor. You must select a floor BEFORE entering, so 2 elevators arrive, you miss them both while programing your desired floor, or even worse, a passenger holds the door, but the elevator simply won’t take the command because the elevator has arrived, huh? and you wait forever for the next elevator. They are more labor intensive, have longer waits because normally, people changing their mind about taking the elevator isn’t a problem because they never actually enter the elevator (to select a floor); with this system, the floor is selected before entering so the elevator stops at every floor where passengers gave up on the elevator or made an entry mistake. There’s no display to show where the elevator is (if you have an idea of wait time, it makes the wait seem shorter). A couple of the elevator selection panels have broken down already. What a stupid system! On the positive side, it’s a good incentive to use the stairs.
EMBARKATION didn’t start until 12:15 pm. Most hotel check out is by 10 am so naturally people head to the pier. Just less than 70% of the passengers were Diamond/Platinum/Suites/Faster-To-the-Fun payers, so the majority stood in a “priority” line that SLOWLY snaked around the waiting area (after waiting that hour or two beforehand). Only sporadically were passengers double checked if they were indeed “priority”.
EVEN WORSE, once on board, there was a huge line to get on the elevators, which were far in the distance. Everywhere else was cordoned off except the stairs. Two main reasons for the elevator line.
a) The crazy unconventional elevators, so just like when the Titanic went down, elevators (instead of lifeboats) were leaving with only 4 people inside, and stopping on all floors.
b) The ship’s design doesn’t include crew-area luggage elevators, so the passenger elevators were used. Essentially luggage had priority as almost all elevators were closed to passengers for luggage. Considering our ship was due to sail at 7 pm, would have thought passengers could be the priority.
EVEN AFTER the late lunch, the chaos continued at the elevators where there was very little standing room since the area was jam packed with luggage waiting to be distributed.
The perk of allowing “priority” passengers IMMEDIATE access to their cabin is a contributing factor to elevator chaos and a later embarkation starting time. Carnival offers, and charges for, “Faster to the Fun” making “Priority” is a misnomer.
EATING IS INCONVENIENT: Unless you upload their app and carry your iphone, anytime diners with cabins on, say the 2nd deck, must travel to the 5th deck, line up to get a dining entrance ticket, then travel and line up on the 3rd deck to get in to eat. What’s that all about?
The cafeteria is in two sections not immediately next to each other. They have similar, but not identical offerings, so we constantly walked back and forth between the two cafeteria areas (53 yards) for a single item (adding to the traffic congestion to boot).
FOOD: There is hype about “Guy’s Hamburger Joint”, but I felt nauseous from the grease afterwards so I only visited once. More hype over the Pig & Anchor where I had pulled pork. Aside from the fat and crust I discarded, it wasn’t as bad.
CAFETERIA: The cafeteria food at my work is better for preparation and selection. The often-browning lettuce was generally iceberg (no nutrition) displayed in a bowl no bigger than one at home (for 4000) and only about 6 items to add vs. well over a dozen selections at most land restaurants. I enjoy a salad daily, but with the meager choices, I never bothered. Dessert cakes are cut one slice at a time upon request, which meant there was always a line at the counter. Everything for a deli sandwich is behind one counter and made up by one server, so a long line is inevitable. It’s not like a Subway restaurant where you order what type of fresh baked roll etc. you want. You get hamburger/hot dog buns taken from a plastic package of 8 (think supermarket) likewise bread slice choice was packaged white or rye. Meatballs inside a hot bun were cold. The cafeteria, and everywhere INDOORS, was FRIGID so most passengers ate (and watched evening shows) wearing sweaters, heavy jackets and even wool hats. Cheaper cuts of meat such as chicken, Salisbury steak, meatloaf, meatballs, pizza and hamburgers were plentiful and so was rice and pasta. Dining hit a new low for us. Staff didn’t monitor passenger hand sanitation. I caught a bad cold. First time I’ve ever been sick on a ship.
FREE DINING, I liken to TV dinners set on a plate except the cordon bleu chicken was tough, gammon (ham) was dry and hard to cut. I couldn’t cut through the Brussel sprouts. I suspect all food is previously frozen. Fresh berries seem to be a thing of the past on cruise ships. The food offering on “Elegant Night” is better and makes up for having to pack the extra clothing.
SPECIALTY DINING: Since the food was so poor we tried “specialty” for the first time ever (steak house). It’s everything I remember that cruising “used to” be like. Delicious and inviting. With the price of a cruise varying around $400 or $500 depending on location, season, and different cruise lines, this is about the same as the cost to specialty dine. Had this cost been in the upfront price, I’d hardly have noticed and it wouldn’t have been a problem. However, paying for specialty when there’s food upstairs that’s supposed to be dining, just rubs me the wrong way (probably because I “remember when . . .”)
CASINO SMOKE: The casino is slap bang in the middle of the ship and allows smoking. The 3rd deck isn’t a through-deck so you always seem to find yourself at the 4th floor casino. Because the layout is open, the stench permeates that area out to the elevators and stairwells, and to a lesser degree, the floors above and below. Management must be smokers if they think the ventilation system is adequate.
SHIP’S DESIGN is excellent for warm Caribbean travel. But choose carefully if going on cold weather or transatlantic crossing. There’s NO “Skyline Bar” type place where you can settle down at the front of the ship to relax with a 180-degree view of the ocean. Nor is there an indoor pool. There are lots of water activities, but the water was too cold to use them. The sports deck is great, but the top deck high wind is tiring. Other than taking up seating in a busy cafeteria, there ISN’T ANY indoor relaxation areas where you can sit by a window.
The ENTERTAINMENT audio level throughout the ship could damage your ears (even the elevator “dong” to announce floor arrival is ear piercing). One entertainer even asked the sound technician to turn the volume down a notch. I really appreciated that.
SAILING ON A SHIP OF 4000 PASSENGERS – Except for embarkation and disembarkation, I’ve never felt crowded on ships. Not so with this ship. Standing room only for almost everything, shows and even activities like Trivia, etc. The cafeteria at lunch and breakfast was jam packed with lines everywhere and not enough seats. Because seating at a window for relaxation is nonexistent, passengers sat in the cafeteria playing cards or reading, compounding the shortage of tables for eating.
Same with the other “free” restaurants. You needed a buzzer for one and outdoor long line for the other. Not just for food, lines were everywhere, for almost anything.
One gangway might be OK for smaller big ships, but its essential a 4000-passenger ship have a minimum of 2 passenger gangways. In Halifax for instance, the line to get through the ONE onboard x-ray machine ran from outside the terminal, through the terminal, along the pier, UP a flight of stairs to another line, inside the ship. The only reason the ship left an hour late was processing passengers through their one x-ray machine (even though they do possess more). Invariably that one gangway was at the furthest point from the pier exit.
The ship is long rather than tall (pool is deck 10). Being a l o n g mega ship, walking from the cabin to activities on this ship is even longer.
ON THE POSITIVE SIDE, all sinks have nonautomatic faucets which tend to conserve water. The ship lived up to the “Fun Ship” reputation. The activities director was excellent, certainly visible and there were more activities offered than on most ships I’ve been on (suggest using 2 locations for the same activity due to crowding). We even had free Zumba which they told us was not on the other ships. On disembarkation there was plenty to keep passengers occupied. If you haven’t cruised much, are summer cruising, and don’t mind paying for the extras, you’ll have a really great time. I notice Carnival past cruisers are staunchly loyal. One lady at a Q&A session, broke down and couldn’t talk trying to tell the officers how much she appreciated the staff.
I did a quick calculation of what an all-inclusive cruise ACTUALLY costs. While on board I picked a random 8-day cruise to the Caribbean in August advertised at $979 ea. WOW!
Over 80% of the cabins are balcony, so let’s realistically calculate for the vast majority.
$2,728 Cabin ($1364 each, pay more if there’s more than 2 in the cabin)
$350 Taxes and port charges
$208 Gratuities ($13 each = $26 times 8 days)
$245 Internet package that most hotels provide anyway, and works much faster
$400 Dinner at the “specialty” restaurants vary from $15 to $35 each, so let’s take an average of
$25 x 2 people x 8 days. (This is dinner ONLY)
$120 Soft drinks (not including real orange juice or specialty coffee for breakfast)
TOTAL $4,051 cabin (rather than the bold print $979 ea. p.p)
= $506 per night rather than $122 ea. p.p. (add $100+ per night if including alcohol)
I didn’t bother to include the cost of entertainment on board such as IMAX, babysitting etc. that I’m guessing you’d pay for on any other all inclusive. Although not added is single serving fruit tarts $3, “specialty” coffee $3-$6 or cookies $1.25 which in the past were free.
We’re now at well over $600 per night for a tiny cabin and miniature bathroom for a great summer time vacation. With a hotel you can walk out if it doesn’t meet expectations, not so much in the middle of the ocean.
I’ve been cruising since the 1990s (41 cruises; 50% Celebrity, 50% equally with the other cruise lines) so maybe that’s too long. I’m having difficulty adapting to the evolution of what cruise lines now offer as all inclusive (I see it akin to how the airlines have changed and charge). I used to regard cruising as luxury travel, even used to regard flying that way. Probably it’s time (for me anyway) to move on to something else. Read Less