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This was our sixth cruise overall and our fourth with Carnival. It will be our last with Carnival. We chose this cruise because it went to southern Caribbean ports we had not previously visited, and because we only had one day at sea. We also wanted to spend a few days in San Juan, which was enjoyable. But our cruise with Carnival was a huge disappointment. Carnival is clearly cost cutting in order to bring in new cruise passengers with cheaper fares. It is definitely damaging the brand. First, was the short amount of staff. It was apparent everywhere. Service in the main dining room was painfully slow. We were at a large community table of 10, and half the dining hall was through with their dinner and leaving the room by the time we received our entrees. And we weren't alone. Servers were assigned to too many tables. We were not asked for refill drink orders or water glasses refilled. In the buffet area, there was so few staff that food offerings were often out of stock for long periods of time and tables were not cleared of used dishes. There were few staff in the photo area, we rarely saw more than one bartender at busy bars, and we rarely saw our cabin cleaning staff. Second was the quality of the staff. The staff was slow, not friendly and many in key passenger interface areas like the bars, and restaurants spoke very poor English. This led to slower service and wrong orders. Also, many of the staff were terribly unfriendly. This may have been in part due to the language barrier, but also I was told by a staff member from the spa that many of the crew members were at the end of their 10 month contracts and were ready to go home. She herself was leaving at the end of the cruise and said she would not be working on cruise ships anymore. Finally, the food was just plain awful. We actually went to bed hungry at night. The buffet selections were some of the worst I have ever seen. There was limited variety at the different stations, it was just more of the same. If you wanted to make a salad, there were few options for ingredients. What they lacked in variety they made up in quantity - I have never seen such big platters of radish or cucumber slices. If you wanted a piece of fresh fruit, you had to ask one of the few servers working the lines because it was located in bowls out of reach (obviously to minimize waste and people taking fruit back to their rooms). The food in the dining room wasn't much better. I saw many people leave their entrees uneaten because they were so bad. Entrees were often cold, and overcooked. Vegetables were ALWAYS cold and overcooked. Portions were very small. My husband had salmon one night, and we both got the giggles when we saw it. It was so tiny. And then on top of that - it was lukewarm and dry. It's important to know - we are not "foodies." The food was just plain bad. At the end of the cruise we would have loved a McDonald's burger or a TGI Fridays shrimp basket. One example of cost cutting that had a ripple effect in the dinning room was that they have done away with trays, instead providing slightly oversized oval plates. I am sure that this is to try to limit people taking too much food, and wasting food. But the result was that you had to get up and make multiple trips to complete your meal - to get coffee, to get ice tea, to get dessert, to get another entrée because the first one was so awful. People were always moving in the buffet area. It also took you longer to set up your meal, so people lingered longer in the area, making it more crowded than it needed to be. Before I chose this cruise, I read on this website that the ship had been remodeled. Yes, the common areas are very nice. But we have sailed on this ship before, and it still has an odd, chopped up floor plan. Yes, they added some dining options, but these are not stand alone restaurants, but "stations." (I do have to say that Guy Fieri's hamburger station was the best food on the boat). Also, the rooms have NOT been remodeled. They are very tired looking and in our room, there were stains on the carpeting, the couch (which was also broken) and the lamp shade (don't even want to imagine what that was). You know what they say about flying on a plane with a broken or dirty pull down tray - what does the engine look like.....well we wondered the same about the boat's engine. There are lots of other examples that I could give, but I feel like I am beating a dead horse. I gave all of this feedback and more to Carnival in my post cruise customer satisfaction survey. No response back from them. What was the best part of our cruise? My pedicure. One of the best ones I have ever had. But of course, that is the lady who was at the end of her contract and wasn't coming back. And there was a wonderful woman at the Coffee Shop who beautifully decorated a plate of chocolate covered strawberries for my birthday. She got a tip that equaled the cost of the strawberries. We will continue to cruise. We love it. But next time we are moving up the price scale.

Carnival's Cost Cutting Measures Lose a Repeat Customer

Carnival Liberty Cruise Review by hhmom

2 people found this helpful
Trip Details
This was our sixth cruise overall and our fourth with Carnival. It will be our last with Carnival. We chose this cruise because it went to southern Caribbean ports we had not previously visited, and because we only had one day at sea. We also wanted to spend a few days in San Juan, which was enjoyable. But our cruise with Carnival was a huge disappointment. Carnival is clearly cost cutting in order to bring in new cruise passengers with cheaper fares. It is definitely damaging the brand.

First, was the short amount of staff. It was apparent everywhere. Service in the main dining room was painfully slow. We were at a large community table of 10, and half the dining hall was through with their dinner and leaving the room by the time we received our entrees. And we weren't alone. Servers were assigned to too many tables. We were not asked for refill drink orders or water glasses refilled. In the buffet area, there was so few staff that food offerings were often out of stock for long periods of time and tables were not cleared of used dishes. There were few staff in the photo area, we rarely saw more than one bartender at busy bars, and we rarely saw our cabin cleaning staff.

Second was the quality of the staff. The staff was slow, not friendly and many in key passenger interface areas like the bars, and restaurants spoke very poor English. This led to slower service and wrong orders. Also, many of the staff were terribly unfriendly. This may have been in part due to the language barrier, but also I was told by a staff member from the spa that many of the crew members were at the end of their 10 month contracts and were ready to go home. She herself was leaving at the end of the cruise and said she would not be working on cruise ships anymore.

Finally, the food was just plain awful. We actually went to bed hungry at night. The buffet selections were some of the worst I have ever seen. There was limited variety at the different stations, it was just more of the same. If you wanted to make a salad, there were few options for ingredients. What they lacked in variety they made up in quantity - I have never seen such big platters of radish or cucumber slices. If you wanted a piece of fresh fruit, you had to ask one of the few servers working the lines because it was located in bowls out of reach (obviously to minimize waste and people taking fruit back to their rooms). The food in the dining room wasn't much better. I saw many people leave their entrees uneaten because they were so bad. Entrees were often cold, and overcooked. Vegetables were ALWAYS cold and overcooked. Portions were very small. My husband had salmon one night, and we both got the giggles when we saw it. It was so tiny. And then on top of that - it was lukewarm and dry. It's important to know - we are not "foodies." The food was just plain bad. At the end of the cruise we would have loved a McDonald's burger or a TGI Fridays shrimp basket.

One example of cost cutting that had a ripple effect in the dinning room was that they have done away with trays, instead providing slightly oversized oval plates. I am sure that this is to try to limit people taking too much food, and wasting food. But the result was that you had to get up and make multiple trips to complete your meal - to get coffee, to get ice tea, to get dessert, to get another entrée because the first one was so awful. People were always moving in the buffet area. It also took you longer to set up your meal, so people lingered longer in the area, making it more crowded than it needed to be.

Before I chose this cruise, I read on this website that the ship had been remodeled. Yes, the common areas are very nice. But we have sailed on this ship before, and it still has an odd, chopped up floor plan. Yes, they added some dining options, but these are not stand alone restaurants, but "stations." (I do have to say that Guy Fieri's hamburger station was the best food on the boat). Also, the rooms have NOT been remodeled. They are very tired looking and in our room, there were stains on the carpeting, the couch (which was also broken) and the lamp shade (don't even want to imagine what that was). You know what they say about flying on a plane with a broken or dirty pull down tray - what does the engine look like.....well we wondered the same about the boat's engine.

There are lots of other examples that I could give, but I feel like I am beating a dead horse. I gave all of this feedback and more to Carnival in my post cruise customer satisfaction survey. No response back from them. What was the best part of our cruise? My pedicure. One of the best ones I have ever had. But of course, that is the lady who was at the end of her contract and wasn't coming back. And there was a wonderful woman at the Coffee Shop who beautifully decorated a plate of chocolate covered strawberries for my birthday. She got a tip that equaled the cost of the strawberries.

We will continue to cruise. We love it. But next time we are moving up the price scale.
hhmom’s Full Rating Summary
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Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Snorkeling
    Snorkeling wasn't great. Too many people all trying to see one poor pet sea turtle and one sting ray. We then went to a beach that was small. Not much to it. But the weirdest part was our boat captain turned the trip into "homes of the stars." He talked over and over about the rich and the famous who owned homes on the ocean, and how much they paid for their homes. It got old fast.
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  • Bioluminescent Bay Kayaking
    Loved this! But people should know that the luminescence is NOT like the pictures. It doesn't glow neon like the Vegas strip. It is more like clear light sparkles. The Kayaking wasn't too strenuous for this 60 year old. It was a fun evening.
    View All 16 Bioluminescent Bay Kayaking Reviews
  • St. Kitts (Port Zante)
    We went ashore but quickly came back to the boat. Not much there. The island was very brown. They have been in a drought.
    View All 1,725 St. Kitts (Port Zante) Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's St. Kitts (Port Zante) Cruise Port Review
  • Island Tour
    Wasn't expecting the level of poverty we saw there. Loved the Pitons. The Botanical Garden was nice, but not much to it. We were fascinated by the banana plantations. We wished we could have stopped there and learned more.
    View All 258 Island Tour Reviews
  • America's Cup Regatta
    This was fun. It would have been even better if the wind had been stronger. I think they had too many people on each of the boats. These boats typically carry a crew of 11. We had 18 - 20 people on these boats. We were packed on there tight!
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  • Magen Bay Beach
    Nice beach. Not too crowded. Snack bar. Chairs for rent. Bathrooms.
    View All 238 Magen Bay Beach Reviews