CARNIVAL CATTLE CRUISE. Itinerary: LA, Hawaii, Honolulu, Guam, Malay, Vietnam, Singapore. Derek Johnson- Carnival Splendor cabin 1277- Oct5>30 2019.
Many apologies about embarkation proceedings onto Carnival Splendor, at Los Angeles, long beach, 5 Oct 2019. Verbal platitudes are not enough. This explanation using my personal experience as 70 years old male typifies what occurred.
Arrived at port using Carnival Shuttle from airport, discharged luggage then joined the queue at 11.02, as requested by carnival courier. Outside 'snake' (photo) sunny day, no shade or seating. 13.45 arrived at cruise terminal entrance (2hours 43mins).
Now standing for further 30mins, we progressed an internal 'snake', of four rows (One length of bench seats against back wall of first row) until security checks.
Security personnel designated to 'priority' processed these guests as they arrived, otherwise they stood idle, ignoring our lines 5 yards away!
After initial security, a seated area was allocated for 30mins until another standing queue for 20mins to the check in desk. TOTAL 4hours 5mins.
Within the LA Port complex there was adequate internal seating in blocks to accommodate ALL embarking guests prior to the security process. Originally space used by Howard Hughes for H4 ‘spruce goose’ 8 propeller cruiser in 1947.
Letter for CAPTAIN- Francesco La Fauche, given to Christhian at reception, wed 9/10/19. Reminder note 16/10 given personally to captain at party, by hand. Captain said "may not have received letter". Checked with Christhian 18/10, no response, checked again 24/10, reply received 25/10 from a house manager, advising company had learnt a lot.
Emphasis on company not customer experience as explanation.
2x 45 min complimentary parties supplied 26/10.
I restarted cruising in 2013, since then have completed 18 with 5 companies (typically Swann Hellenic 97nts, Cunard 77 nts, MSC, Fred Olsen, Cruise Maritime= total 375 nts., £26,000 approx).
NEVER before treated with such total disregard for customer comfort.
Booking of £3300 incl flights for twin inner cabin, was rewarded by this inefficiency and incompetence. My travelling companion suffered with heat exhaustion after the experience and treated it by staying quietly in the cabin until composed.
Cultures: Custom and traits differences became obvious during the voyage- UK, USA, Canada, Antipodes, Asian with distinct evolved variation.
Queues- reception (priority bias). Hopefully the photos do justice to this practice.
2 priority lines with an attendant each for 2-3 customers each line while a single line with 6-8 waiting standard guests received the attention shown! Yes none.
Carnival procedure appears to 'manage' guests not please and placate their issues.
Sea day brunch in golden pearl is good option, 08.30-12.30. 2 tier starter of shrimp and smoked salmon, followed by mini steak cooked to taste, over easy eggs, tomato and chips. On these days no further waiter service free food until the evening.
Dining- the 3 main destinations are all festooned with pillars, walls and dividing panels. Seating is bench, carver chairs plus a few without arms. Tables are squeezed between fixed structures, which inevitably results in waiters and guests pressing behind your seat back. I eventually refused to be guided to table via a pillar placed centre aisle, which meant wrapping around it then shuffling to avoid chair back of a guest. Cotton napkins of adequate 'square' available every where, thank-you.
NB: with almost full passenger compliment of about 3000, the Black Pearl was closed for breakfast and lunch throughout 25 day cruise. Therefore complimentary lunch limited to Lido Buffet (12.00>14.30) Deck 9 or entry queues at Gold Pearl waiter service (12.00>13.30 non brunch days) deck 3 aft (see photos).
Dinner was available from all 3 outlets (17.15>21.00 unless allocated set times). Queues vary, There was an offer to pre book via the 'hub app' but this failed or was withdrawn after 10 days. Hub app is useful for daily itinerary and menus.
All bulk catering has to cope with using leftovers creatively with flare and expertise to tempt the palate. Steak>Mince>Consommé, Fish>pie>soup, Veg>melange>fritters. Some ships are adept at keeping product interesting, with variety and individual taste throughout its transition, others less so! Be on guard, choose clearly defined menu options. Formal nights regularly start a new cycle.
Entertainment: Lots of song and dance routines as usual. Varied feature artists including 8 comedians, hypnosis, conjuring, card tricks, circus. Generally very entertaining, about 40 mins duration.
Great Les miserable tribute in piano bar- song quality akin to shades of phantom.
Mon 28/10 15.00: hour long play of a wife whose husband is absent, refuses advances from a King and is then abducted by him deceiving her as a thirsty monk. Husband entrusts a monkey in delivering a ring to wife as notice of a rescue. Wonderful Balinese pageantry and costume performed by waiters, room and meal staff- received standing ovation.
Jason the IT expert worked hard with 2 informative lectures most sea days and always helpful with questions around the ship on Mac and android. He knows his stuff.
Ports- Guam: 6 mile X 2 mile. Sun 20/10/19. There were 4 excursions at $130>180, a $25 shuttle and a free shuttle, both to shopping centres.
Procedure for free shuttle- 08.30 to Black Pearl forward deck 3, submit immigration form for clearance, then to rear of deck 5 (100 yards) assigned into group 21, await transfer under escort to deck 0 forward (150 yards+ 60 stairs) and disembark.
On leaving gang plank ALL groups merge on quay without guidance into a free for all, amorphous mass of 500 lost souls toward 6 coaches. Any semblance of order breaks down with group 6 and 11 in with 21. Polite though with calm respect.
A local police woman takes initiative, lines some beside a coach, then when full, directs line to shade of a wall. She counts approx 50, ready for next boarding, spontaneous applause erupts.
The shopping centre has central atrium, additional seating, free wifi then entertainment by local children and tribes with brass band finale. An impromptu event to welcome mainly OAP's to the island. Return coaches every half hour wait outside for 30 min journey along coast to ship. Now the ubiquitous queues surface toward 2 gang planks. All aboard by 17.30.
Sabah- Borneo: chose $64 excursion with visit to typical long house complex and tourist village then zoo for view of proboscis monkey, orangatan, clouded leopard, Malay elephant, tookan, sun bear. All lethargic in concrete enclosures. Countryside with rural 2 storey houses very similar Sri Lanka. Town houses individual or 2 storey terraces or apartments. Shopping malls like world over, there is a china town.
NB. Tour was ticketed for 09.00, gangplank open for 08.30, all looked good to go! In terminal building found my carnival rep in scrum of options. He advised our coaches delayed, sit until summoned. By 09.30 over 1000 had swelled the hall for many events. Our herd had swollen without a definable column. 'Moo', we are up and away. Coach 11 was original guidance, queued 10 mins, foot on step 'sorry sir full', you can move to rear of queue for coach 13. Finally got on 14 after another 15 mins. WHY?
Carnival had not controlled the '10.00 departing ticket holders' on ship, to prevent them stealing 09.00 capacity. Finally left port about 10.15 BUT STILL ON A 09.00 START/FINISH SCHEDULE (so tour squeezed).
A word of frustration 'WILL THIS EVER STOP'. It is as if Carnival has set up systems to satisfy the company NOT the paying customer- we are required to conform to the whim of profit. Whether squeezing dining options to reduce staff or vague planning for contingency of extras. It is the Carnival Accountants who have evolved clever control to extract $ from a gullible public in a declaration of HAVING FUN!
An hour in theatre every morning is given to carefully choreographed discussion by 'fun team' to welcome non controversial subjects while gently smoothing anything contentious with clever rhetoric. This has nominal audience participation and shown on TV channel 14, in fairness imminent port issues are covered to supplement occasional specific port lectures.
UK CITIZENS: Your culture will struggle to cope with constant 'how r - u - today' or 'aw- rite', female staff whiten tooth fixed grins, then maybe hung over Aussies but the pragmatic will enjoy itinerary.
If in doubt seriously consider our regular cruise brands whether £€$ on board.
30/10/19 Cunning plan ends cruise positively. Flight SQ0322 to Heathrow leaves Singapore at 23.45 arriving 05.55 local times. A 13 hour marathon in window seat A row 46, with one WC stretch, my first time in Airbus 787. Lamb biryani after 2 hrs then chicken noodles with 2 hrs left, it was relatively comfortable. Watched Lion King movie, then informative 2 x 1hr part history and redevelopment of Raffles, plus finally 2019 Toy Story 4.
What plan? Well a $30 transfer would arrive Changi airport by 10.00, whereas $60 transfer excursion nearer 14.00 after sights of Singapore. An excellent local courier outlined detail including cities modern evolution for public housing. First visit was to an orchid garden, a wonderful display, well signed, within tropical arboretum. Next a River cruise using electric powered, traditional style craft. Commentary explained early settlers superstitions for shore development plus notable buildings, (5ft shop fronts) and Lion headed fish statue. Finally coach stopped near china town for welcome chicken rice and cold beer ($10 pp) eating with locals.
Still 9 hrs to boarding but after convenient early check in/ baggage drop discovered the Jewel shopping centre. New glass dome building (Eden project on steroids) with 40M water feature (evening light shows, hourly on half hour). There is mono rail joining Changi terminals which passes through Jewel WITHOUT stopping, though great view of water cascading. Jewel has many leisure aspects including extensive rope clambering experience in roof area. Also visit Changi terminal 3 butterfly room!
Detail for fuller explanation:
Splendor Butter is best described as a white creamy swirl in a small dish. A slightly salty back taste, easily spread substance, it applies like an emulsified grease. I assume this concoction has air and water whipped into a butter fat base.
NB: Carnival is owner of many cruise brands (the finance umbrella) including Cunard, P&O where unadulterated salted and unsalted pats are still available in buffet and dining areas (Dec2019). How long can these courageous suppliers of genuine quality resist the greed of their overlord accountants.
Come clean about the Cream, Carnival!
I have tasted many of these small jugs during 3 weeks so far. Room service breakfast ones sometimes turn coffee grey suggesting semi skimmed milk. Gold/Black Pearl Restaurant and Lido Table ones vary between breakfast, lunch and dinner. Some have watery back taste turning coffee grey, others correctly impart beige or brown hue to view. Taste difference is significant. Mostly Coffee appears freshly brewed.
Internal Cabin: Twin beds with good metre between. Vanity, chair, stool, occasional table, TV with BBC world, (tip- select forward camera for weather/time), fridge, adequate storage, ensuite. Robes, what robes? Steward Emmanuel did his biz extremely well plus interesting 'towel' animal selection. He found me a robe to attend complimentary sauna within gym changing room. Morning room service coffee/cereal, croissant was prompt, efficient and helpful throughout voyage.