Long time cruisers, Gold CCL members. We booked this cruise for 2 reasons: (1) for a refurbed Elation with a month long dry dock before our cruise date and (2) for HMC. We accept that CCL can't control weather. We are dismayed that ... Read More
Long time cruisers, Gold CCL members. We booked this cruise for 2 reasons: (1) for a refurbed Elation with a month long dry dock before our cruise date and (2) for HMC. We accept that CCL can't control weather. We are dismayed that CCL seemingly threw a SHOULD BE RETIRED Fascination in lieu of a better ship.
Jax, moreso than Charleston SC or Port Canaveral seemed to have an inordinate share of rednecks well into their 40s and 50s too loudly cheering and singing for colleges they might have attended too many years ago. When competing team supporters got into the fight song contest, it got old real quick.
DO NOT BOOK the Airport Microtel! We booked them 90 days in advance through Booking.com and spoke to people at the property 4 times in the 90 days prior as well as emailed to ensure our late arrival availability. We arrived at 530 pm only to be told that they had cancelled our reservation and had called and left a message. I then pulled out my phone, and yes, they had called at 12:17 pm, while I was driving I 95. They did not, as the desk clerk claimed, leave a message to advise us of the cancellation. They then claimed that we had cancelled it. My question as to why in the hell I'd show up to a hotel I had cancelled has yet to be answered. This property did the same to at least 3 other families. We did find an alternate hotel, at a increased cost of nearly 80 dollars for the night. AVOID THE MICROTEL AIRPORT location.
1. Embarkation. Sailing a day after the LV shootings, we expected some reaction. The shuttle driver did not/could not fasten the rear door closed, and it opened twice during the ride to the port.. Fortunately, no luggage was lost. At the port entrance, an elderly grandfather type port officer stepped into the entry well of our shuttle bus to see photo ID from everyone. Mind you, he never stepped into the bus aisle but requested we hold up a picture ID. Unless his eyesight was laser precise, he missed the fact that the gentleman behind me held up a picture of his grand daughter.
The lines to embark were long, slow moving, and tedious. There was no shade, no water station, and one working bathroom for men and another for women. At least there were porters available for both embark and debark.
2. Ship substitution: We booked this cruise specifically for 2 reasons: (1) Elation was undergoing a 30 day refurb and would be practically a new ship, and (2) our first call at HMC. I get that CCL does not control weather. So, Elation was refurb was delayed because of the hurricane and CCL looked around, saw that Fascination could not port in San Juan and threw an old tired ship in as a replacement. Instead of a Preakness racer, we got a tired old horse that should have been put out to pasture years ago. The shows and ‘entertainment’ are lamer than ever. The CD’s accent made him difficult to understand. The majority of the on deck crew were pleasant, yet seemed worn out and were minimally engaging with passengers. Serenity was not, as there were competing groups of rednecks yelling college fight stuff from one hot tub towards the other. Guessing they had no clue as to what serenity means. The hot tubs were lukewarm.
3. HMC port of call was cancelled. We found this out on the first sea day, that in lieu of HMC, Fascination was calling on Nassau, and then on the trailer park of the Caribbean, Freeport. Nassau would normally be ok, but Freeport is in the same league as the faux Mexican tourist rip off South of the Border, in South Carolina. Given that the weather was already iffy (and we grant that CCL has no control over it) CCL should have had some indication that tendering at HMC was going to be improbable at best, and should have advised up before boarding at embarkation, so we could have had a choice to cancel or go.
4. Cabin & Steward: We had cabin M224 configured in a king bed setup. The cabin also has pull down bunks to enable 4 passengers in the cabin. Requested an extension cord for CPAPs 60 days ahead. Was advised a couple of days pre-cruise that we had to bring our own.
Our steward, Ariel, made a minimal appearance in the mornings, and vanished. We did need a towel exchange and called his number on the card, getting housekeeping. Requested 4 bath towels. 15 minutes later, we received 4 wash cloths. (Same material, hardly interchangeable) Called again and spoke to a bad attitude housekeeping staff. Finally got towels 90 minutes after asking for them. One towel monkey lasted 5 days. On the 6th, a little heart with a suck up message was left. By then we knew that exceptional service was not in the cards, nor was the expected level of service.
5. Dining: The bright spot of the cruise was our table mates at dinner. We had a great time with them. The menu, sadly, was not as good as the choices at a Golden Corral or any other mass market buffet. The menu needs a revamp STAT! The evening wait staff dancing should be retired. There was no apparent consistency in how bar drinks were made. Margaritas at dinner were much better than at the lobby bar. Buffet lines were not as long, as ship wasn’t at full capacity. Nothing on the lines was remarkably good. Most was ‘meh’ and some was just terrible. Coffee on the Lido was good the first day, turning into deck swill by day 2 onward (thankfully we brought freeze dried and had hot water). Pizza was ok….deli station was just ‘meh’.
6. Shows: Old and disappointing. Sounded to us as if the entertainers were the people who didn’t make it past their local city tryouts for talent shows. The Piano player was uninspiring, unengaging. Entertainment needs a revamp STAT!
7. Casino: Was unforgivably tight for slots and machines other than card games. Felt as if Carnival was trying to make up for excursion revenues and other losses by small, infrequent payouts. Probably should have loosened them to give passengers something to feel positive over.
8. Debarkation: We went to the theater to wait as our cabin was number 21 on the list, and were told to expect a 1030 or so debarkation. The debarkation appeared delayed and, as usual, some people tried to get ahead of the line before their number was called. We were in a group of about 14 people in the theater at 9, and the staff member told us to go ahead and leave. We got off, our bags were already at the 21 area in the terminal, hired a porter and were on the fast track to the shuttle bus.
Overall, this was the worst cruise we’ve ever encountered. Weather notwithstanding, the crew seemed overly tired, and barely engaging. The shows were terrible, as was the casino. The ports of call were disappointing. The dinner menus, food, and the Lido stuff was hugely disappointing. This cruise has made us reconsider our relationship with CCL. Read Less