First impressions are everything. I took this cruise to help complete a CLIA MCC requirement and to learn the Carinval brand from first hand experience. Checking in the rep Nicole with 21 years experience with Carnival could care less ... Read More
First impressions are everything. I took this cruise to help complete a CLIA MCC requirement and to learn the Carinval brand from first hand experience. Checking in the rep Nicole with 21 years experience with Carnival could care less that I was an agent from a major franchise traveling. I inquired about anything I could do to upgrade my experience on-board aside from the chef table I pre-booked. I was met with a quick no because the ship was over sold. In fact this sailing had over 990 children on it!
Cabin: We were in balcony cabin 6263. When we walked into our cabin it looked like the steward had not finished cleaning it. The sofa was dirty with crumbs and stains. The sofa itself appeared in need of repair on the right side. The mirror was so dirty it look like a filter was on it. There was a sewer like smell that hit you upon entering the room. The smell decreased over the seven days. It was very obvious no one lifted up the items on the counter to dust under them. Pros - The bed was extremely comfortable which made it hard to get out of. The shower was the perfect temperature. The steward came in the cabin on day two and cleaned up the areas that were missed upon check in. Opportunity for improvement: Have a door hanger on the cabin doors if the rooms are not ready for clients. Maybe something like " We are still working to create a great impression. Check back soon." This will preserve that first impression clients get coming into their room.
Ship: The ship has a lot of rust and various areas appear very outdated. The hours of operation of the stores on board aren't very late during the times at sea when you expect them to be open they are closed. This may have been a staffing issue. Opportunity for improvements: Touch up the rust on the ship especially on deck four and on the balconies.
Medical care: My partner needed an anti-acid and the main store was closed. It was after 2 a.m. so I wasn't surprised. I went to Guest Services after not getting a response from the medical services telephone line. The Guest Services rep was able to reach a nurse on duty. I explained what I was seeking. The end result was they would sell me a (singular) Tums for $10 however in order for the person to go get the Tums it was going to cost an additional $50!! We had travel protection that covered medical needs so I wasn't overly concerned but the $50 fee was a bit much.
Opportunity for improvement: Have a vending machine with basic wellness and personal items that uses using the key card for payment. This would allow people to get needed items after hours and avoid unnecessary fees, discomfort, and create a better client relationship.
Dining: This is the first cruise I've been on and been disappointed with the food from the main dining room as well as the Lido deck. The taco bar served a fish taco that was fried to much. I expected a grilled a fish since it was a Caribbean cruise. The kale salad made three people sick. There was not enough fruit or food items that looked appealing. We were hard pressed to find Indian meals for a lunch option however they did offer them at dinner. Sailing on Thanksgiving you would expect some traditional items on the menu like mac and cheese, collards, sweet potatoes, sweet potato pie, etc. however the only traditional thing on Thanksgiving was turkey. The menu on Friday should have been the Thanksgiving menu. Pros: The Chef Table dining experience was OUTSTANDING and worth the $75 per person! I would recommend this to everyone who is looking to enhance their cruise or to celebrate a special occasion as I was celebrating an anniversary. Make the ship aware of ANY food allergies or intolerances in advance as I did and they will alter your meals for an enjoyable experience. Opportunity for improvement: Consider having more omelet stations and more food that reflects the region. Grill more fry less. Consider having chefs native to the sailing region.
LGBT meetup: Nice that Carnival has LGBT meet-up like other cruise lines. Cons: This "event" is at 11:30 p.m. in the Alchemy bar which is an open space. Some of the people who were in the Alchemy bar area had no idea that it was dedicated to the LGBT community at 11:30 pm. My partner and I as well as other LGBT people we encountered on the ship felt we would have perferred a different setting and time. Opportunity for improvement: Consider having a host for the LGBT event. I would recommend changing it to a space that has a door and not let it be centered around alcohol. Consider times of 5 p.m. or 10 a.m. or even an LBGT brunch. Game themes or anything interactive would be a nice touch.
Spa: In addition to owning a travel franchise I own a wellness spa. My partner and I went to the spa immediately after dropping our bags off in our cabin. Pros: They offered a demo of the various massages and a spa tour. I booked a hot stone massage and a pedicure for our last sea day. I wanted an appointment around 1pm however I was told they only had an 8 a.m. or 9 a.m. pedicure appointment available. I opted for the 9 a.m. dreading getting up early on a sea day. I was given a printed appointment receipt. My partner booked a bamboo massage, acupuncture and reflexology. Skye my massage therapist was fabulous!! She listened to what I expected from the service and delivered. Cons: When I arrived for my pedicure at 8:50 a.m. I was told I was not in the system for an appointment! Needless to say I was not happy. The hard sell by Dr. Cruz was a complete turn off during the tour. Opportunity for improvement: If someone has a receipt for an appointment try to honor it. Keep saunas in working order.
Entertainment and Activites: The games that they play on board are family friendly. The setup for the Clue game was lacking suspense. Punchline comics were entertaining some more than others. Several people walked out of one comic show. The Epic show was the best even with them having to shorten the performance. The latin music was great wish there was more space for dancing. DJ Marshmallow, DJ Haynes and cruise director Staffie were entertaining. Cons: The Motown show had a clear lack of diversity causing people to walk out. Consider salsa lessons or other things to get the crowd involved.
Service: Prior to sailing I made the Carnival aware I was celebrating an anniversary. Pros: Carnival provided a dessert at dinner, the steward decorated the newly cleaned mirror with a happy anniversary message and we received two gift cards. One gift card was for a 5x7 picture the other was for $50 towards a spa service. Cons: Because my pedicure was knocked out of the system I could not use the spa gift card. We took two pictures during the cruise. When I went to redeem the 5x7 picture I was told that we did not take the right type of pictures. Had we taken pictures with the various people at each port that would have served as our free picture. I offered to pay the $3 difference however the manager of the photo department would not allow it and recommended I take the right type of picture. This was not possible as it was the last night of the cruise. Later at dinner she came to our table to take a picture. I asked her if it will count as the 5x7 indicated for the gift card from Carnival she said no. The last night of the cruise the Guest Service had two people working and the line was long all day. The workers got pretty rude with the customers. Some of the customers mentioned the rudeness while at the Shore Excursion desk and more rudeness ensued. This happened to us and several others. The woman working at the Excursion Services desk pushed us aside because we were asking too many questions about a post cruise excursion. We eventually got an excursion booked from Guest Service desk after waiting over an hour in line. Opportunity for improvement: Whenever there are long lines have an employee walk the line to see if there are any quick questions or problems that could be solved.
Ports of call: This cruise offers some great ports worth seeing of Grand Cayman, Belize, Roatan and Cozumel. Our tour was late getting us back to the ship in Roatan and we were the last ones on the ship. I was prepared to arrange to meet the ship at the next port but to my surprise the ship did not leave!!
Children: Because of the over 990 children onboard many of them were up past midnight. Several of them were unruly causing damage to the ship for sport. They came in the Serenity area and were not asked by the staff to leave. This is the adults only section which left no room for adult only time. Opportunity for improvement: Have a staff person escort the children out of the adult areas.
Rescue at sea: On Friday our ship aided in the rescue of 17 people who were floating on a makeshift raft between Cuba and Miami. I was impressed with Carnival's commitment to stay until getting the all clear from the U.S. Coast Guard was given. This was the second most exciting thing of the cruise.
Disembarkation went smoothly and we made our post cruise excursion without any problems.
The post cruise excursion booked on board was a great over view of Miami and Little Havana. The tour company was very professional.
I considered everything from this trip and weighed it against my experiences on NCL, RCCL, Disney, Holland America, and Princess. I asked over 30 people why Carnival for my brand research. The results were heavy on the price point with ports a close second. One person told me not to base my opinion of the Carnival brand off of the Glory because it is an older ship. I may be willing to try the Vista. I would hope my clients have better experiences. Read Less