Carnival Magic, April 26, 2015
Before I begin my review, I want to caution everyone to inspect your luggage carefully at disembarkation. My husband’s expensive Heys suitcase was cracked on the bottom and I did not notice it until a ... Read More
Carnival Magic, April 26, 2015
Before I begin my review, I want to caution everyone to inspect your luggage carefully at disembarkation. My husband’s expensive Heys suitcase was cracked on the bottom and I did not notice it until a day or so later. Carnival does not accept responsibility unless you report it at the mob scene that they call debarkation. You should also be aware that the porters there are not Carnival employees – keep that in mind!! Now, down to business: my husband and I are disabled and rely on EMV’s to get around (I have a degenerative bone disease, he’s got Diabetic neuropathy and can’t walk far.) Because of this, my review is for the disabled cruiser.
Our cabin, 10202, is an accessible cabin, however it was at the end of a narrow hall and we had difficulty getting through the doorway, especially at night when our cabin steward would turn the lights off. It was mid-week before he remembered not to. There was enough room for our scooters. There were two 15” closets for hanging garments and one with shelves in addition to the few drawers at the ever-smaller vanity. Bring hangers, there are never enough! It took a while to get the room safe re-set and a working remote; and that first night, our bed was never turned down. Forget chocolates, they’re a thing of the past. A huge thanks goes to Paul from the Philippines – my husband got a new tux for this cruise and forgot to try on the pants, which weren’t hemmed! I got a sewing kit from the shops, shortened them with a nail scissors, and Paul loaned me some scotch tape so I could tape them up and hem them. He was a lifesaver!
Elevators were the challenge of our week – it was common to wait over 30 minutes, many times much longer, to get an elevator, even one going the opposite direction. We were almost late for the Muster Drill because of it – however we couldn’t get there anyway. It was at Station 4A, on the upper floor of the Showtime Theatre and there was a flight of stairs blocking the entrance. All those using EMV’s were in the same situation, and we just listened. It was a blessing, however, since we got to listen to the Assistant Cruise Director spout the rules and regs of an emergency as though she was auditioning to be a call girl, pleading with her John. I don’t know if it was a joke, but it was tasteless. Normally, they let EMV’s leave early, to get first dibs at an elevator, but we weren’t quick enough and it was almost time to sail before we made it back to the Lido Deck aft. That’s where we met our M&M group! Sailaway just isn’t the same without live music -- another cutback from Carnival and a theme of the cruise.
We had Early Seating on the main floor of the Southern Lights Dining Room, Table 623. Only one bank of elevators is accessed it, and we waited every mealtime, both before and after, to get one. One lady (?) was so intent on getting into one (where I’d already waited for 35 minutes) that she climbed over me and my scooter as I was halfway in, with my husband on my tail, and blocked our way so that she and her party could get in. Four, yes, four, large adults followed her. Apologize? No! I was tempted to run her down, but I was on good behavior that first night. ..later on in the week, I may have! Elevators and the size and lack thereof were another theme of the trip! So was cheap. We were pleasantly surprised by the food – it was excellent and Tomas and his crew were very attentive to our needs. We liked it enough that we rarely went into the Lido Marketplace, which remained very crowded with few tables available. We had breakfast in S.L. every morning, and they sat us in the lower area. Day 2, 3, and 4, we had a wonderful waiter, “Edward from Indonesia.” His name is the same as my husband’s and we enjoyed chatting with him. Breakfast the rest of the week was hit-or-miss and they never did get our orders right. “Cuchina” was great for lunch, better than the Marketplace, which remained very crowded. Hint: bring some root beer with you, so you can make root beer floats with the delicious soft-serve ice cream! Yummy!
We held our M&M event on Day 2 and had a great time. Our thanks to B. Solis from Carnival for providing the Spotlight Lounge and a cash bar; and to John Heald for providing some goodies to raffle off. We had a Grab Bag themed “What I Always Take on a Cruise” and had some laughs and steals. We also did a kids’ Grab Bag since there were lots of kids present. It was a great way to meet the folks we’d been corresponding with in the months before the cruise! If you’ve never signed up on Cruise Critic for a Meet & Mingle event, do. It’s a good way to get to know your fellow cruisers and you can get some tips on shore excursions, etc. You can also read reviews written by cruisers.
We chose this itinerary because of the ports. We love Key West and have visited there many times. We did a Conch Train shore excursion through Carnival here because it showed as accessible and the CT site indicated that they had trains that would accommodate EMV’s. Wrong. We had to leave our scooters there, so we couldn’t use the hop on/hop off feature to explore Key West’s other sites. They were supposed to park them in the courtyard, however when we returned, they were in the same spot they were when we left them. Never again. We still love Key West however, and this was the only accessible tour offered.
Freeport: I’ll never forget the sight that greeted us as we sailed into Freeport’s Harbor. There sat the Celebration – the first Carnival Ship we sailed on, now the Grand Celebration. We checked out the shops nearby, but there weren’t many of them. If you want to buy something and think you’ll wait to get it til you’re on your way back, don’t. Many items are in short supply and the kiosks close early. We waited 45 minutes to get a cab to Port Lucaya and its casino and Marketplace – it cost $40 plus tax for the round trip. We returned early, a good thing, because we waited over 1-1/2 hrs. to get another cab, and barely made it back in time. We won’t return to Freeport. The Marketplace is a repeat of the shops you see all over the Caribbean, saying Bahamas instead. Lucaya is a long ride from the industrial port, and the scenery is drab.
Leaving Magic for shore excursions is a challenge because of the design of its ramp – it hangs an EMV up in the middle and you have to stand while they lift it over the hinged area. It’s hard on the EMV but there’s no other alternative. Carnival is not prepared for them!
In Nassau, we waited to leave because it rained. Once we finally got an elevator, it was a short ride to the shopping district and we enjoyed browsing. We were anxious to see the famous straw market and disappointed to find it a series of small shops all selling the same things which they assured you were made in the Bahamas. My totes both had a Made in China sticker inside. We still had a good time and enjoyed chatting with the Bahamian women.
I’m only sorry that there were no accessible excursions because I’d have liked to see more of Nassau. However after our experience with cabs in Freeport, we decided not to chance it.
The last two days were sea days and the weather was nice. We’d hoped to go up onto the Serenity area but it was full and there were no seats available. I yearned for RCCL and their wonderful solarium for adults!!! That said, there weren’t a large number of kids on this sailing and they behaved well, as did the adults! I have great memories of a few wonderful souls who gave up their place in line so that we could get into an elevator before them. They were out-numbered by the other but stand out as Angels in my book!
In summary, my impression is that Carnival is cutting every single corner it can and still call itself a cruise line. All the things that were once a cherished part of a cruise are now gone…pillow chocolates, turn-down service, midnight buffet, formal night – only three men wore tuxes this sailing -- and people at your beck and call…all gone. Yes, you can go get a waiter to take your drink order, but it’s not the same. As a disabled cruiser, it’s much more difficult to navigate their ships. The seating in the buffet area is not nearly enough – and it would appear that some folks are choosing to occupy those seats during the day because there aren’t enough of them in the open areas, especially when the weather is iffy. ADA seats in the Spotlight Theatre are way at the back and in the doorway so you have people all around you talking and you can’t see or hear. We did enjoy the female comedienne at the Spotlight Lounge although we were seated at the back of the room. You don’t get a copy of your Sign and Sail account on the last day, and the folks at the Purser’s Desk are not nearly as pleasant as they should be – I overheard several conversations with others that were just plain rude. They were first-time cruisers and didn’t know how things operate on a ship – don’t be rude because these folks don’t know. They did seem to be putting a halt to saving deck chairs however.
Do you recall on Day one when we gave our drinks carryon to the porter who assured us it would be fine? It was…until we got a letter on our 2nd day out that our bottles were being held hostage until the end of the trip. I went down to Guest Services and was told that I should have known better than to give that suitcase to a porter, I was out of luck until the end of the cruise. I told her that the wine was for us to celebrate our 47th Anniversary (which Carnival knew and never even recognized) and that the porter knew that, yet said he could take it. It was not uncorked or opened. I just shook my head and left, but amazingly, it reappeared a day later.
Disembarkation was a 3-1/2 hour nightmare. Again, elevators just weren’t to be had. We finally went up to the 12th floor one at a time and waited there outside the spa. Once our group was called and we got an elevator – 45 minutes, it sped up a bit, but when we got to the luggage area, it stalled. The Carnival Rep that my husband asked about getting a porter told him to “go wait in that line like everyone else.” I was astounded and told him to wait and I’d wait for him near the luggage. An hour and fifteen minutes later, he got to the front of the line and was chastised about waiting in line when he should have gone to the front. Do these people have any knowledge about how things work during disembarkation?? Are they the same ones that work during embarkation? If so, there’s a major glitch here - how can they be so good during embarkation and so bad when people leave?? Once we finally did get a porter, we got out of there in a hurry. He was great and so was the person in the garage. We were on our way in less than 10 minutes. It would haunt us later.
Since I always overdo on a cruise, it’s often up to a week before I unpack anything other than perishables and this trip was no different. When I unpacked my husband’s suitcase, I found that it had a 6-inch crack on the bottom. It is common at debarkation that you don’t touch your luggage, especially when you’re disabled. Well, when I contacted Carnival informed me that unless you tell Carnival AT DEBARKATION of damage, Carnival has no liability and they are sorry but looking forward to welcoming you to one of their FUN SHIPS again. I checked with the other folks who sailed with us and over a dozen of them had found unsuspected damage to their luggage – and only one saw it at debarkation. informed me that the porters are not Carnival employees so there is no liability. How slick is that???!!!!
Did we have fun? Of course we did. We weren’t going to let elevators, ignorance or anything else stand in our way. We have another cruise planned for December sailing out of San Juan. This time it’s on the Celebrity Summit. The money I saved on Carnival was eaten up by ruined luggage, misrepresented shore excursions, time spent waiting to get an elevator and over-priced cabs. Celebrity and RCCL take much-better care of their disabled travelers. It will have to be one whale of a deal before I sail on Carnival again…like free. Heck, come next week, they are even doing Gold VIFP members out of a party in favor of a drink on the last day of the cruise. Gee, golly-whiz, Carnival, that’s really big of you – and BTW, thanks for the bottle of water! UN-believable. Read Less