If you are expecting variety, pleasant atmosphere, entertainment, luxury, relaxation, or well maintained facilities, EVEN wifi, you'll be in for a nasty shock.
This was our first cruise. We will NOT be going back to Carnival cruises ever again.
Our cruise was just a 4 dayer to Moreton Island. It's fortunate my husband and I can entertain ourselves, because this cruiseline is geared towards a) little children who don't know any better b) people who like to be in bars for 26 hours a day c) those with bad hearing d) dummies who would pay for things that should be freely available and e)....ah...shall I say less than your average sort of person.
BOARDING: We had priority boarding. It went quite well. We arrived at 11am and boarded at 11.10.
The problem was, our room was supposed to be one of the first ready, and it wasn't. No where near. We had nothing to do for 2 hours + while it was sorted. In fact, doors to accommodation were closed, with signes on Do Not Enter, until 1.30. Even then, ours was still locked and incomplete with no card to get in. Apparently we should have been able to get in early. So we had to hang around, lucky Sydney was so pretty to look at.
CABIN: Our room was nice, we'd paid extra for a vista suite, one of the most roomy cabins in the ship, aft. Very nice, and nice and clean thanks to our very nice lady, Sunny, who was one of the few highlights of the cruise. The balcony was dirty and glass filthy.
Don't expect a roomy suite, it's still a little cramped, but to be expected. It has a very nice balcony, wrap around the stern. Worth the money for the view and the 'get away from it all'. It had a delicious bed,...that's one of the 'dot' ratings. Pillows annoying, but the bed was lovely.
The room had curtains on rails which swung and squeaked after every trough and wave. Try that when you're going to sleep??? Door to the bathroom kept swinging too. The lights, which dimmed if held pressed, were a nightmare to navigate. all over the place and which ones did which was a mystery.
Plenty of hanging space and drawers (if you need that sort of thing), a big bathroom, if you need THAT sort of thing. Stupid shower water mixer, obviously people are scalded by it, because there was a sign on the wall. I hate combo faucet/shower heads where you have to press or pull the button to choose.
A small lounge area with TVs, one chair had back wheels missing, never could work out if on purpose so it leaned back, or not. Lounge was diabolical. FAR to wide to sit leaning back, and vinyl, so you slipped when you tried. No cushions. If you're only 157cm, (5'2") it was ridiculous.
Bottles of water cost $4.50 each. Not even one for free. Hmmmm. I'm beginning to start to wonder.
DECOR: of the ship......oLD FASHIONED TACK. oh me..oh my. Think a cross between a bad Buckingham Palace / Titanic / Op shop - and you'll get my drift. (pardon the pun).
ANY level surface was patterned with faux 1930s patterns. Nauseating carpet patterns, golden cupids and fat GOLD heads, swirls and glass and pretend copper and brass, wood veneer, and giant chandeliers and claw footed furniture. Oh, and my personal favourite.....the fake frescos of nude gods, goddesses, angels and just...well just naked people badly painted ...actually really HORRIBLY painted, all over the ceilings and on multiple rondels around the walls. Add to that the framed artwork...matching I'll add....of (yes you guessed it) more naked people, very ordinary artworks of things like greek gods. In our suite, Venus was being fondled by Cupid. It was pedophilic. I can't understand why someone let that be hung in a room! You've no idea how off-putting it was to wake up to that huge poster every morning. the artist should be shot. So should the decorator. It was the most hideous attempt at vintage glamour I've ever seen.
TACKY. Ostentatious Tack.
MAINTENANCE: The outside of the ship was not much better. I was literally scared that the balcony of our room might fall off, there was so much rust under the paint. The RAILING was stuck on top of the old one, which was warped, peeeling and rusted. The glass along the railing was absolutely filthy, as were our cabin windows. That's a shame since you could see nothing when inside the cabin, looking through dirty windows and a dirty glass railing. aLL throught the ship I noticed peeling veneer, broken foam faux gold leaf cupids etc, In our suite I found it ludicrous that a fairly nice birds eye veneer was used on cupboards and drawers and then old 1980s gold tone plastic handles attached which colour was worn off. Wardrobe door would not slide.
Looking at the interior of other ships, this one was a decor disaster, and I'm not even fussy!
SAFETY DRILL - i WAS pretty annoyed when we were hearded out onto the deck (though the temp was nice) and made to stand there for 20 minutes, while nothing happened, then a ridiculously simple safety blurb - how to put on a life jacket. (really??) and then stand there for a nother 10 minutes whjile nothing happens. Then a very loud horn (there go a few more of my aural cilia) and we're apparently allowed to go.
FOOD: tHERE are 3 main areas to eat.
a) the communal eat what you want, as much as you want, wheneve you want.
(Except you can't, because it's not open all the time, only the pizza, tea and coffee is.)
b) The posh restaurant upstairs.
c) the main restaurant comprising of 2 levels.
The food was ok. Pretty good, acceptable. I don't want to make it sound great. It was fresh enough,a nd there was plenty of it. We ate at all 3 places.
POSH RESTAURANT; we booked in very early. Months ago. When we arrived we were annoyed that there was not a window table as we'd asked. "Sorry, we don't do that' he said. Why book then?? He said first come first served. Again...why book then?
Food was nice, but my lobster was way overcooked. I'd say in a warmer or something for a while. It was even tough to cut. (It was my one splurge dinner.) Sides were ordered. Broccoli. 2 tiny pieces of broccoli. (If I'd known that I would have order 4 serves!!) and mash with wasabi for my husband. About 2 tablespoons of mash with no wasabi. I couldn't taste any. He couldn't taste any. So I'm saying the sides were a waste of effort.
Big steak though. And tender.
And we were asked "All OK?" "All good?" "Is food ok?" so many times, I lost count. Literally 20 times by 3-4 different people. It was sooooooo annoying.
I had a mushroom entree which was delicious. Then the overcooked lobsters. Then a chocolate sphere, which I understood to be filled with something else..., actually it was all just chocolate, melted with melted chocolate, and with chocolate inside and chocolate smeared on the edge. ERgh. I love choc. But no counterpoint to give some contrast it was sickly. Hey chef, ever heard of raspberries? or orange? or even cream?
Meals are $55 for choice of 3 courses.
EMPIRE RESTAURANT: (THE middle one) Staff are tremendous. Work like trojans serving all the hundreds of people, sitting at decadently decorated tables in the ostentatious huge dining room. They're quick, efficient, and super friendly.
The menu is not anything special. It has most of the food that is also served upstairs at the posh restaurant (for an exctra $30), and all of the food from the serve yourself buffet, but put on a plate for you. (free). You can choose what you want, multiple times if you want. So it's really like a buffet, but you can't see the food and someone else gets it for you. It's ok food though.
Except I had bouillabaise last night which was just a broth with a few teeny bits of seafood chucked in at the last minute. And a cooked apple with lime pie inside, the apple was so tough I couldn't cut it, obviously not cooked enough, and my husband had one too, but it was only half the size!!!
Breakfast is also held in this room.
BUFFET: Welcome to cattle class. In many respects. Pushers, shovers, pigs. (sorry, but true. - I guess this style attracts it.) I enjoyed my couple of visits to the buffet as the food was fine, it was the people who weren't. Also, Carnival, your set up...organisation of food stations is abysmal. Identical lines of food from both sides, both converging inwards to the same place is ridiculous. Especially when that place is also the coffee and tea station.
I enjoyed a cantina outside which did taco type things. It was fresh and interesting.
There's an all day pizza place, but other than that, only tea coffee hot choc and something they called lemonade, but to us (Aussies) it's very strong sweet lemon cordial. It was hideous. Really, no soft drinks or even WATER!!! No juice either. I suppose you could get it from the bar if you wanted to.
BARS: Speaking of bars...the inumerable multiple bars all over the ship. You couldn't escape them. Clearly the focus of attention for designers. 2/3 of the public areas ...at least...were bars. Maybe you like that.. I didn't. Why on earth would you drink inside a ship, when you could ...well...drink outside of one? And why is there a need for 7 or more bars?
Bar people will not make drinks to order.
One day, I went to get a cocktail. I wanted one without orange juice as I'm allergic to it.
I asked for a cocktail off the list, but substitute the oj for coconut milk or something, as I like it creamy. Barman said no. I thought he was joking. He said can't do. I said 'What?" he said can't leave out orange juice. I said I don't want oj. He said I can't do. People around me are shaking their heads...what? why? pick something else. OK...pina colada but no ice. No. Can't do. (pina colada's aren't made like dacquiri, they're not icy, and he was making them like that.) No can't do. I asked him why, he just shook his head. I said, but I'm paying for it!!!
So I had to make a complaint. I never ever complain. Long stoir short. Dep Head Barman explained. They won't make drinks to order. Too many people on board.
(I'm thinking, why would you hire barmen that can't make drinks to order? the bars are never crowded because there's so many of them.) Also, apparently no coconut milk. Really? on a tropical cruise? They use pina colada mix. No pineapple juuice, no coconut cream. Just a stodgy looking mixture. ergh.
NO WIFI - unbelievably, there is no wifi on the ship. (I'm not an idiot, I can work out why. - they do not want passengers on their phones or tablets for free, instead of bars and restaurants, casino and shops where they would be spending money.) For this reason also, there is NO NEWSAGENT, NO BOOKSHOP etc on board. They don't want you reading, when you could be drinking or gambling or otherwise spending more money!!!
So after leaving sydney and my 4g carks it, I start to wonder. Where is the wifi. I get the Carnival Hub,a nd to my dismay it costs $72 PER PERSON to get 4 day cruise long middle of the road wifi. (not hispeed and not all sites, eg no youtube). You can switch devices, but not at the same time. So husband and I could not be on wifi at once unless we had two accounts.
ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Even aeroplanes have wifi. Coober Pedy, in the desert of South Australia has wifi and that's 850 kilometres away from the nearest city. And you're telling me acruise ship, 10kms off coast, can't give wifi?
It's because it's another cash grab. Pay for wifi, or pay to do something else. No entertainment for free on this ship.
So we bought ONE wifi account, swapping devices, and only one of us using it at a time, when we needed to. however.
IT WOULDN'T WORK IN OUR BEDROOM OR ON OUR BALCONY. Wifi is garbage on the ship. It's slow, and I don't know about you, I like lying in bed looking at emails whenI'm on hols. And I had to sit on the bed, as I couldn't sit on the slide wide sofa.
But I couldn't get wifi in the bedroom. Soooooo annoying when I'd paid $72 for it. That's more than 2 months worth of wifi I pay at home!
ENTERTAINMENT: As you may have observed, I'm not a fan of 24 hour drinking, gambling or eating. I naively expected there to be entertainment on board. Adult entertaiment. Not "ADULT" but for adults. Not bean bag tossing. Not the hairy chest competition. :/ NOT a lecture about ...wait for it....wrinkles. I didn't want to have my photo taken, I can do that. I would have played trivia or even bingo in a pinch, but these more fun games were held in random spaces in side passages in a few seats in a cafe with people filing past and talking through them. It was impossible. Adn it wasn't for grown ups so kids were running around and talking. Seriously? Think about it. Can't hear the question, can't hear the answer. No point.
So...THINGS TO DO. Virtually nothing. Unless you like drinking eating or gambling or spending money on rubbish. There are shops (jewellery, souvenirs, photos.) tHAT'S it.
There are theme nights, if you're willing to risk your hearing. An 80s night for this cruise. Nothing else going. So if it's raining or windy, be aware. You will be very very bored.
No internet, no books, tiny pools, no activities worth doing.
Just a thought...Carnival. Try some FREE activities. What about a 'get fit' class on the deck. What about an 'All about Moreton Island' exhibition for 2 days ont he way there, and an 'all about the ocean' exhbition on the way back. What about a singalong, a talent show, a cooking exhibition. What about a FREE tour of the engine room (you had to pay). What about a mini borrow-library? A music room? A makeup show.
The activities were pathetic and cash grabs, and here's the worst of them.
ART AUCTION: There was the most bizarre art show I have ever witnessed. And being an artist myself, I have witnessed plenty, including some pretty odd ones. The organiser was a woman who spoke 3.75 x the speed of sound. Even when she was speaking 'normally'. People were sniggering behind their hands at her. She needs to take something to slow her up a bit.
Around 30 minutes of blurb on how, why, who and when, would have been soporific, but for the voice of Speedy Gonzales. she informed us that SHE would determine the starting price, NOT the buyers who usually start an auction. (OK....), and SHE would put in bids whenever she felt necessary. (??? OK......) And the starting bid for the first piece of work was $6000. Six Grand. Did I hear correctly? or have my ears lost 75% hearing due to the ridiculous noise of the music in all the bars?
You might not flinch at that. But the 'work', was done in highlighter and permanent marker.
In fact, I have never seen such a flagrant upsell, overqualifying sales pitch for such utter rubbish in all my life. The 'works', were clearly up to 20 years old, absolutely revolting pictures, sad huge old gold tone wooden frames bashed and beaten, and reused over and over agiain, with the work begin recycled for cruise after cruise, until some idiot buys it. at $6000. I would say none of the work was painted in Australia. It6 looked like 1980s American junk store stuff. Oh boy. To add insult to injury, a 'free' glass of champagne and orange was offered just before the auction to soften the wallets of the numbskulls who were considering a hefty purchase. Only to be outbid by the seller, who could put in a bid over you to bid you up. Leaving you bidding against yourself.
They called it 'collecting'. You can collect art from your cruises.
People. People. Do yourself a favour. Go to Saint Vincent de Paul op shop. Pick up the same type of thing for $4 and be done with it. Or better, go to the art show of a local community Art Society and pick up a beautiful artwork recently painted, with genuine provenance, and the blessing of the artist, in a clean and modern frame. $500 should buy you a real cracker!
PUBLIC AREAS: did I mention the music? No relaxing music, just super loud, aggravating ear pounding music. In all the bars, and pool areas. All the time.
Even the accoustic guitar guy, who was the best of them, was sooooooo loud I wouldn't have put my children in the pool near him. No relaxing anywhere there. Nup.
SPEAKING OF POOLS: Not pools. small spa style areas. They LOOK like pools in the pictures because of the huge overflow areas, like paddle areas about 1" deep, but which take up 2/3 of the pool area. The pools themselves are minute. About 4-5 metres long adn 2-3 metres wide. It would fit 20 people in max. No self respecting adult is going to get into a pool that small with 100 kids trying to get in. There is a 'serenity' area which has an even smaller pool. Think about it. Thousands of people. tiny tiny pools.
I didnt travel with my older chldren, thank goodness. they would have been bored out of their trees.
MORETON ISLAND. We loved it. We took our snorkel gear and walked the 2kms or whatever it is up to the wrecks and swam around on them looking at the gorgeous sea life. Then found a quiet sushi bar and bought an Asahi and a sushi.
OH! I almost forgot.
THE SHUTTLE BOAT. How could I forget that. It was an exciting experience to say the least.
The WAITING: We were told we could o over at any time. We left at 9.50. We didn't ACTUALLY leave until 11.10am. Why? because there were tiny shuttle boats, and so few of them, and we were all herded into the auditorium with numbers, waiting our turn.
It took over an hour for our turn. Really? There has to be a better way. The cruise director made it sound like we were SOOOO lucky to be getting on "Now for lucky 38. If you're 38 you can go to the island!!" It was ridiculous. At least have some entertainment for the 400 or so people all waiting to leave.
the DRIVER: Picture this. You give your $150,000 car to your 14 year old to drive up to the shops and back. That's what it felt like. On the return trip, our boat driver was so pitiful it beggared belief. My husband is a Master 5 ticket holder, meaning he can drive BIG boats. He felt like he should go and offer assistance he was so pathetic.
First, he zigzagged his way through the passage with reverse thrusters every time he needed to slow or turn. (use twice as much fuel and spin the boat around erratically, over steering to compensate.) It took 10x longer to get back than it did to come over.
Worst, when we came alongside the ship, he tried to reverse it again, it should have taken around 12 seconds, with maybe 3 manouvres. It was a fairly calm sea. He botched it so badly the boat spun around 360 degrees TWICE! another boat came in, instead, probably to show the driver how to do it. (aka don't reverse up, just drive up to it!!) our driver still did not do that, mucking around over steering and reversing, and ultimately going forward, but so poorly he crashed into the SHIP!! All the passengers screamed, and while I knew nothing would happen, the sound was tremendous and the other passengers scared. Crew were standing on the ship watching the pitiful attempt, in disbelief. There was even a small vessel coming in, a bumpered vessel like a 'pusher', to help 'push' the shuttle into position. It was atrocious. And terrible of Carnival to hire boat drivers in charge of their passengers who have no skill and put lives at risk. They should be ashamed.
You may have figured this kind of cruise is not for me.
I have done many things like this, and don't get seasick. But I was dismayed at this cruise. It was a cash grab pure and simple. Only the staff saved it. Most of them anyway. They were helpful and worked hard. Probably don't get paid enough for the hard work they do. Most were overseas workers from the Philippines or Russia. Read Less