My husband and I cruise quite often, several times a year. This time we decided to take our entire family with us , a group of 11, including 8 adults...(2 seniors) , an 8 year old, and twin 3 year olds.... this was to be the trip of a lifetime for us. and being of italian descent I chose the meraviglia. I wanted our memories of this family cruise to be " meravigliosi" , unfortunately this was NOT the case. It began with a wait of almost 4 hours in line before embarkation. I am a senior who needs a walker to get around... so standing in the hot sun for 4 hours was not pleasant... ( we won't even begin to speak of trying to keep 2 three year olds occupied to stand in this horrific line up for that length of time ) Usually when we embark on all the other cruise lines we've been on, people with wheelchairs and walkers and canes are given priority and this has NEVER happened to me before. When we finally almost reached the doors in our line up, they finally realized that I was with a walker and was visually having difficulty standing ( sheer exhaustion) and they brought me inside...BUT ONLY ME AND MY HUSBAND,and there we waited another hour in another line up., so our group was split up. Later I learned that they split the group yet again, to "accommodate" the children. so the group was split up even more . My one dream for this cruise was to have the entire family photographed by the ship's photographers as we went onto the ship together.... we even had family cruise shirts made for this occasion. This didn't happen because we were not reunited until hours later .I want to mention at this point that the delay was NOT caused by the check for the corona virus, that was fast and efficient . Note, that there was no water or drinks or snacks of any kind during this long period .By the time we all got onto the ship, we were all starving and dehydrated, so we made our way up to the buffet, which was CLOSED because it was time for the muster drill... by the time this was done, we needed to make our way up to the dining room which was booked for 5:30.
We were handed menus and 45 minutes later , we were still sitting there with said menus , and still had not been able to order our drinks. Finally our meals were ordered, but my daughter who was so dehydrated from our long wait in the sun with no drinks, felt ill and had to leave the dining room to return to her cabin. I asked if we could take her meal which was already ordered up to her in case she felt better after a rest and some water, and were told this was not possible. I brought her some drinks and some food from the buffet but she was asleep at this point from the sheer exhaustion. The waiter had no knowledge of the menu content, my son ordered grouper and my daughter in law ordered salmon. the waiter brought the meals and said," fish "???? my daughter in law said yes me.... well he gave her the grouper, and she started eating, when he came to the salmon, he placed it in front of my husband . my husband said, I didn't order salmon. When the waiter realized the confusion, he took the half eaten grouper from my daughter in law and gave it to my husband to eat.....I was absolutely HORRIFIED and demanded that they bring him a new plate..... and the waiter laughed.... I chalked the horrible experience up to the fact that it was our first day , and perhaps it would improve the next day, but this was not the case. We had purchased drink packages for the entire group, but it seems that one of our group was having problems with her card. Each of her drinks was being charged to the ship card , as well as the 18 % gratuity, (we had already paid for the gratuity for each member ) my son and his wife went down to customer service to take care of this problem and were met with hostility from one of the bar staff when after having the problem "resolved" they charged the card yet again, but this time she was charged for 2 drinks when she only bought one .Again they went to customer service and they were told that they would put a sticker onto the card to alert the staff that the drinks should not be charged... again this did not work. I went down to customer service with them to see if we could get the problem resolved..... in the end, this problem took 2 hours or our precious family time to get all the charges reversed, but the woman behind the bar was horribly rude to my daughter in law.
Another problem we had was the fact that my son has 3 children, and they could not all be in the one cabin so we put the older one in with my daughter and I but he wanted to be closer to mommy so we rearranged the sleeping arrangements so that he could be in one of the other rooms that we had booked closer to his parents.... this went off without a hitch however ... it took the cabin boy 3 days to set up a bed on the pull out couch for him... THREE DAYS... what does it take to put a sheet on a couch and add a pillow ???
The second day, we went up to the dining room again, to have our first family dinner hoping for a better experience. We were handed menus... and 45 minutes later , with 2 starving 3 year olds, we were still waiting to have our order taken, and we still had no drinks....When I called the waiter over to say, hey what the heck, everyone else was on dessert and we are still sitting here with menus and no drinks, THE MAN LAUGHED IN MY FACE. I reported the whole episode to the main dining room manager and things got moving, and I must say that after this, things did shape up and we did start to receive better service. They also changed our waiter and gave us one that was more competent . You can imagine , that this negativity set the mood for a bad start