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11 Mexican Riviera Singles Cruise Reviews

I joined this cruise because a friend from my past cruise told me about it. My brother joined me on this cruise. It was his first cruise, my third. We both had transfers from and to the airport thru Norwegian. My brother got in 2 hours ... Read More
I joined this cruise because a friend from my past cruise told me about it. My brother joined me on this cruise. It was his first cruise, my third. We both had transfers from and to the airport thru Norwegian. My brother got in 2 hours before me and it took 30 minutes to find the transfer person that would eventually get him to ship 2 hours later. I never found the transfer person at my baggage claim terminal. I wasted an hour and a half asking the info desk where they were, being sent to 2 other terminals, calling and being disconnected from 3 NCL customer services reps, and finally having to take a 50.00 lift ride to the ship. Once we got to the port gate, the port authority guard said they closed the gate at 2:45pm, It was 2:50pm. There were 7 others in front of me and 4 others came after me with the same issue.We all tried to call NCL customer reps, to let them know we weren't being let thru the gate, and all of us got hung up on or disconnected in the process. I ended up calling my brother, who was already onboard, to let the customer service desk on board, that 12 people had been left at the airport by the transfer company. After talking to 4 people, one of the reps got a hold of the port authority guard and they finally cleared us to go thru the gate. No one ever apologized as we went through the check in process. we got on board around 4pm after going through all that mess. Once on board, the cruise went fairly smoothly. The ship, overall, was a beautiful ship. I thought the pool area was poorly designed compared to my 2 other cruises on the Getaway and Breakaway. But I also realize this ship was designed to go to Alaska most of the time, and not to the Mexican Riviera. The dining was great for the most part. A couple people, in our group of 10 to 15 people, had some bad experiences a couple of the nights. The entertainment was pretty good. Jersey Boys and the Beatles put on great shows and the comedians were really good. The ports of call were beautiful, but the excursion variety was lacking for my taste. We did our own thing on 2 of the ports and did one boat sight seeing excursion on Cabo. Not quite as advertised. The service on the ship was excellent, as always. As opposed to the issues getting on the ship, Getting off was the quickest I've seen in my 3 cruises. LAX is possibly the worst airport I have ever flown in or out of. It is a train wreck. The best thing to come from this cruise was all the new friends we made. We met a couple people from my last cruise on day one. within the next 2 days we had a fun group of 10 to 15 people hanging together at different times and places. We always met up in the Solo Lounge at 5pm to get the nights started. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
I chose to sail on the NCL Bliss because it is Norwegian's newest, largest ship. Usually, newer means better. But the design of this ship and the crew of the Bliss proved they are truly "not ready for prime time." The NCL ... Read More
I chose to sail on the NCL Bliss because it is Norwegian's newest, largest ship. Usually, newer means better. But the design of this ship and the crew of the Bliss proved they are truly "not ready for prime time." The NCL Bliss is indeed a beautiful ship. MANY facets of the ship were fantastic, from the relaxing observation lounge on deck 15 to the overall ship decor, which is chic and contemporary. The designers did a great job creating a comfortable experience. However, so many other important elements of the ship's design are lacking. The most obvious issue was that this massive ship only has forward and aft elevator banks, with none in the center. How did the architects think over 6.200 passengers and crew were supposed to navigate about such a massive ship with so few elevators? I noticed hundreds of people congregating near the elevators all throughout the days of my 7 day cruise. So many passengers gave way to "crowd-think" mentality, which meant becoming rude and somewhat aggressive in their fight for elevators. Otherwise, they were forced to walk many floors of stairs to reach their desired floors. Couldn't NCL executives anticipate this dynamic might occur on such a large ship? Also, the communications system onboard the NCL Bliss was awkward. Sure, NCL has a telephone APP for passengers to use onboard to help them schedule daily activities, and the same activities are also shown on the in-cabin TV screen and printed in the daily newsletter, but NONE OF THEM ARE IN SYNC! For instance, the NCL phone app is supposed to load activities at least 24 hours ahead of time, but it often didn't display them even a few hours ahead. And the in-cabin TV app was also inaccurate at times. In all, I found the best strategy was to just take along the PRINTED guide provided to my cabin and maintain my actual calendar on my own personal phone calendar. SMH. The in-cabin screen also displayed the Mazatlan port stop as a "sea day" for the entire length of the cruise. I pointed this error out to the Guest Services desk, but they only kicked the can down the road and made it clear they couldn't be bothered. SMH. As for my cabin, it was designed comfortably and with a soothing blue/brown color scheme. Exactly what I anticipated on the NCL Bliss. I was pleased with the individual reading spotlights placed on either side of the bed along with the corresponding USB input jacks for charging electronic devices. Very convenient. My room steward couldn't be worse! I asked for one special item to be placed in my room which, on ALL 40 previous cruises with various cruise lines has never been a problem. But this steward had to be asked numerous times a still failed to provide. So, I escalated the matter. And again...and again...and again...SEVEN times! It took three days until the simple item was delivered -- a small plastic ice bucket. How hard is that?! When I activated the "do not disturb" sign on my door, the room steward constantly ignored it. He was always calling and knocking and bothering me about silly things. I finally had to raise my voice to him and remind him that "do not disturb" means JUST THAT! On many occasions, I was not feeling well and just wanted to relax. Overall, my dining experience on the NCL Bliss was subpar compared to other cruise lines. I ALWAYS dined in the reservations-only Manhattan room and in the same section. But the experience was poorly executed by NCL. As for the service, even though guests are required to reserve their tables in the Manhattan room, NCL subjects them to standing in not one, but two separate hostess lines to be seated. I've never stood in two lines at ANY restaurant in America where I had made previous reservations, just to be seated. What was the sense in that? There were other key issues where the waitstaff messed things up. First, EVERY TIME I had just sat down, the waiter or waitress INSTANTANEOUSLY pounced on me for my order! I had to remind them that I had barely sat down and needed a few moments to receive my water and study the menu. But they never listened. Second, upon being seated at the same time and at almost the same table with the same waitstaff, they NEVER remembered my preferences (e.g.: that I NEVER eat bread during meals or that I ALWAYS prefer lemon slices with my water). I mean, the waiters only served a few tables simultaneously, so how could they not remember certain key details like those? And I found myself always having to BEG for water. Finally, even before I was finished with my plates, the waitstaff constantly attempted to remove the plates! Who does that? In all, I found the NCL Bliss waitstaff to be grossly inexperienced and undertrained. As for the food, it was obviously prepared in a huge galley with little quality control. First, EVERY salad I received was served in a warm bowl or plate, causing the greens to wilt before reaching the table, Any chef worth his salt knows that salads should ALWAYS be served chilled and in chilled bowls/plates. So, I often sent them back in order to have them prepared fresh. Second, most of the entrees were either flavorless or served barely warm, or both. It's clear the NCL Bliss chefs don't taste their food for quality control. Once again, I sent back items until I found a replacement that was appetizing. Third, I addressed my concerns with the Maitre'd and he said he would "deal with" the issues. But nothing happened. Business as usual on the Bliss. They must figure it they ignore problems, they go away. Finally, as for daily activities, I was surprised at how far NCL would go to make money. MANY of the scheduled activities, like craft hour, required passengers to pay fees to partake. The nickel-and-diming on the NCL Bliss was record-breaking, I found. But I attended the "comedy shows" and a stage production called "Six." The comedy shows were a joke, if you'll excuse the pun. During the first show I attended, it was considered a "family-friendly" performance. There were over 10 children in the room under the age of 12. The comedian decided to focus his entire show on those children and reveled the audience with inappropriate "jokes" about a) male penises, b) public urination on others' faces, c) homosexuality/homophobia and d) how much he hates the current president of the United States. How were these topics humorous to 12 year-olds? When I decided to attend the "18+" comedy show on the last evening of the cruise, nearly every sentence was wrapped around the f-bomb or kinky sex topics. SMH. What ever happened to truly funny comedy that doesn't require offensive topics or cursing to be humorous? Clearly, NCL needs to do a better job at screening its "comedians." I also attended a show called "Six." It was a pre-Broadway release show about the six man-hating, feminist former ex-wives of England's King Henry 8th. The show storyline made no sense, in my opinion. The vocals were "pitchy" at best, so it was clear that these performers were not the best NCL could find. But the costumes were flashy. As for port experiences, I only chose to visit Cabo San Lucas and Mazatlan. In Cabo, I took an NCL sponsored "Luxury Day Sail & Snorkel" cruise. The 50-foot vessel motored around the Bay for three hours and stopped for some snorkeling. Only at the very end, for about 15 minutes, did the crew raise the sails. That experience was my best experience during my Mexican Riviera cruise. In Mazatlan, I chose to take a shore excursion provided by a private tour operator. It was comprehensive and included lunch. Very enjoyable, as well. Overall, I found the NCL Bliss to be a beautiful ship, but it has many design, service, management and flow problems. I would recommend it to first-time cruisers, but maybe not experienced cruisers. This was only my second time sailing with NCL, and after this cruise it will be my last. NCL as a company is just too difficult to deal with, from its pre-sailing customer "no-service" to its onboard experience. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
I have mixed feelings about this cruise. I will relay my observations and let you draw you’re your own conclusions. I want to describe this cruise as a value-oriented get-away geared towards families who want to take the kids ... Read More
I have mixed feelings about this cruise. I will relay my observations and let you draw you’re your own conclusions. I want to describe this cruise as a value-oriented get-away geared towards families who want to take the kids somewhere and not break the bank. There are good and bad points to this as a cruiser. The voyage has a charm of its own. I saw dads teaching their daughters chess, husbands working with their wives’ golf swing, and many, many couples walking the jogging track. The ports were not complex, you got off the ship, enjoyed the sun/warmth, walked around and got back on the boat. There was no real” Dress code” to speak of. I saw ball gowns next to shorts and no one intervened. Everyone just seemed kind of happy to, “get away”. On the other hand, there were issues. There are many things I can look past in a cruise experience. One thing I cannot look past is the indifference displayed by this staff towards the muster drill. I watched as this cruise staff displayed a disturbing indifference to the details of the muster drill. Passengers walked in and out during the drill. The drill started before all passengers were seated and paying attention. Passenger validation by the staff continued during the actual drill. I was in the Stardust theatre and it was pandemonium second only to embarkation. I am deeply troubled about this appearance of indifference on the staff’s part. I shudder to think what might have happened if there had been a real emergency on the ship. The food is very basic, good but straightforward. There are no snipped herbs, or freshly made green goddess dressing. While some people might miss this, it appears that the ship knows that their clientele wants readily identifiable food that is simple for themselves and their kids. That is what was delivered. The one meal I had in the Aqua restaurant was a disaster on many levels. I kept wanting to ask the staff if they had ever worked together? Food was cold, food was late, the pace of service was uneven. I had a completely different experience in the Versailles dining room (MDR). I had the most consistent, professional service experiences there. A big shout out to Carlos from the Philippines, he is the consummate professional. I felt completely taken care of when at his tables. I found the wine offerings to be uneven and had the single worst glass of sangria I have ever had. It was 11 dollars and was a flavorless 4 oz pour with an ounce of soda water and 1 teaspoon of chopped apple. I find frustrating the enforced gratuity model that NCL uses. I did not see my cabin steward for the first 48 hours that I was on board. I had to go downstairs to the front desk and ask for a daily activity sheet because one had not been delivered to my room the first night. While at the front desk I indicated that I have not see my cabin steward and would not know him/her if they ran into me. Subsequent to this, my cabin steward approached me and introduced themselves. Under the NCL model I must fully fund his gratuity. His work was substandard. I’m not sure if the lack of activities is a direct reflection on the Cruise Director or if the ship’s management had decided that their passenger cohort wants fewer activities? Many people complained about the costs of the bingo cards (25.00 to 300. On a cruise that costs not much more than that?) It was confusing. Possibly, that is by design but with two sea days on the front end, more activities would have kept the passengers happier. Disembarking was another example of management confusion. The captain was on the loudspeaker informing passengers that the ship had been cleared and we could start disembarking, however a couple of hundred people were already on the gangway headed toward customs and border patrol.…Hmmmmm I would take this cruise again if I were desperate to get some time away and/or sunshine and warmth. But I would know on the front end what to expect. ____________________________________________________________________ Pros 1. Observing families enjoying time together 2. Cheap Pilates/yoga classes (10/ea. When using class pass) 3. Free breakfast room service delivered between 630-10 a.m. 4. Passengers often assisted other passengers with mobility issues Cons 1. Chaotic embarkation/debarkation in the extreme 2. Lack of knowledge displayed by the passenger ushers at embarkation a. Example- designated embarkation person could not tell me where to find wheelchairs for passengers who needed assistance 3. Staff indifference to muster drill a. Example-muster drill beginning while passengers were still walking into Stardust lounge b. Example-passengers not participating in muster drill 4. Poor dining experience in Aqua restaurant, a. Example- food cold, long waits to be served, indifference and disorganization in wait staff 5. Enforced gratuities not reflected in staff actions a. Example-I didn’t not see my room steward for the first 48 hours. I had to go to Guest services and complain. I was informed that I should only expect to see them for room clean up in the morning, and “turn-down service” in the evening. 6. The cruise director could have a stronger activity program to engage passengers. a. Example- Many passengers remarked that there, “Wasn’t enough to do…” 7. Ship can only be reached via taxi or shuttle. 8. Difficulty hearing the shipboard announcements because the overhead sounds were not in the rooms, only in the hallway Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
I chose this cruise as I'd never been to Mexico before and thought this would be a great way to see a little of the country. Embarkation: I was able to take my suitcase on with me but the boarding process was slow and all ... Read More
I chose this cruise as I'd never been to Mexico before and thought this would be a great way to see a little of the country. Embarkation: I was able to take my suitcase on with me but the boarding process was slow and all passengers were herded into a large area where we waited for our boarding numbers to be called. There was then a very long walk and wait to board the ship. Ship information: Decor like all Carnival ships is totally outrageous- fried eggs on the ceiling in the main dining room and pink donuts in the design everywhere. There was a fire in the engine room on the first night that was contained and we were kept updated on this. The ship appeared a lot older than its 10 years of age and the layout was very confusing having to go up and downstairs to get to areas on the same level (levels 3 and 4). The Serenity area is not as nice as on other Carnival ships - it’s situated at the front of the boat, is looking a little tired and run down. I understand that the ship will be going through a refurb before its Australian season in 2019. Great to see assistant dogs onboard. Cabin: Inside cabin 8369 - Room wasn’t totally clean when I arrived - dirty ear cleaner and lolly wrapper on the floor and mirrors were smeared. Room was kept clean afterwards but only cleaned once per day. Bed was uncomfortable and my neck and back were sore on waking. The room was also quite noisy. You could hear passengers and room stewards in the hallways. Vacuum cleaners going in the corridors at 8:30 in the morning on several occasions. Service: Service was mixed- some areas like the casino staff were excellent- some bar areas and in the main dining room service was indifferent. In the main dining room service was very slow and orders had to be repeated. I had anytime dining. The ships captain wasn’t very visible and didn’t provide many updates- eg when we were late leaving port in Peurto Vallarta. The photographers were great in that they left you alone if you weren’t interested but the photos I had posed for were of poor quality. Very long wait in coffee shop in the mornings and only 1 barrister on duty. On port days coffee shop was closed between 11 – 3. Dining: Food in the buffet was very average. A lot of the savoury food was sweetened with sugar - not suited to my palate. The main dining room was hit and miss. I had a couple of nice meals there but also some very average ones. Bars: I didn’t like that they didn’t use fresh ingredients in the cocktails- only pre-mix. The Mojito bar didn’t have mint on the first night. Entertainment: I didn’t attend any of the production shows however I loved entertainers and the music they played in the public areas. Disembarkation: Again there were very long queues. As I had an early flight, I took off my own bags. Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
Wanted to sail on Norwegian because of easy access in L.A. Ca, no need to fly into port. Wish I would have read the reviews before booking. The plus side of this Ship is, it's very clean, all restrooms, dining areas, and other ... Read More
Wanted to sail on Norwegian because of easy access in L.A. Ca, no need to fly into port. Wish I would have read the reviews before booking. The plus side of this Ship is, it's very clean, all restrooms, dining areas, and other places (Spa, pool etc) were always kept clean. My Balcony Room was very clean and the Stateroom Steward did an excellent job. The Specialty Dining Restaurants were good, nothing spectacular, (Le Bistro, Cagney's and Teppanyaki)servings at Teppanyaki and Le Bistro were small. They had a craft class for 3 of the 7 days at sea. The craft class was nice, each a different project. The entertainment for the nightly evenings was good. This Ship is mainly kid/family oriented, not for single older adults. On the negative side, I paid for 3 days at the spa for 1 hour massage each day, thinking that I could use the spa and sauna before and after the massage. Nope!, Usually when I sail on other cruise lines, the use of the spa is included when booked for services at the spa. This ship charges an additional fee ($68) each day for use of spa and sauna. Also, I paid for bottled water on board as they would not allow guest to bring in their own bottled water. On embarkation everything went smooth, but on return, disembarkation was disorganized. They did not call the color of tags in the order it was listed. I will never sail this cruise line again. Read Less
Sail Date December 2017
I had experienced my first cruise ever in the early '90s on CARNIVAL during Spring break. At that time I was in my 20s and honestly had the time of my life! Now 30 years have passed and I have cruised extensively on the other brands ... Read More
I had experienced my first cruise ever in the early '90s on CARNIVAL during Spring break. At that time I was in my 20s and honestly had the time of my life! Now 30 years have passed and I have cruised extensively on the other brands under the Carnival Corp & PLC Ownership (Princess, Holland, etc) as well as Royal Caribbean. My complaints (which aren't many because I love cruising) are completely different from brand to brand. For this specific cruise we chose a more value oriented vacation because we planned a big surprise w friends for my mothers 90th Bday. So I was already familiar w several other ships/brands etc and knew Carnival would provide value and more of a fun atmosphere for our group. HOWEVER, when I say fun ... it doesn't necessarily mean playing music at 20000 decibels all over the ship 24/7. I LOVE MUSIC probably more than any other creative outlet - but even I was astonished at the unbelievable LOUD and intrusive selections as well as the dj's inability to actually mix music together. But like I said, for the value, you must accept the things you cannot change, and don't let it become a negative obsession. BUT, my one of my favorite pastimes of just sitting back and watching the crowd go by was unrivaled on the Carnival Imagination! And a REALLY friendly diverse group of folks all very upbeat. Now, on Princess or Holland, the experience is DEFINITELY NOT a party atmosphere, but the food and accommodations are much more classy & upscale. But, on those cruise lines everyone is either married or a widow/widower w the only children in sight pushing their late teens. So, in the end it all depends on what you're looking for or hoping to gain from your experience. It was nice to see mid life singles, and actually have some fun yet meaningful interactions. I have yet to find one or two other singles in the THOUSANDS of older married couples who frequent the other ships under the Carnival umbrella of brands. In the end it's always nice to have a vast experience in all categories. Some trips you just want to read & relax and not be bothered, and others you want to " throw your hands up in the air, like you just don't care " LOL Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
The ports and tour I went on were great but the Ship and the program and lunch were not as good as the other cruise I went on. 1) their events on board ship conflicted like I wanted to do Karaoke and I wanted to do Harry Potter Trivia but ... Read More
The ports and tour I went on were great but the Ship and the program and lunch were not as good as the other cruise I went on. 1) their events on board ship conflicted like I wanted to do Karaoke and I wanted to do Harry Potter Trivia but they conflicted and did not have another trivia of Harry Potter or other events. When we wanted to have lunch we had to go to the buffet instead of the dining room. This is both disturbing and the buffet did not change their menu. The shows were alright but not very good. When you got on and off the ship it went very quickly. The food was adequate for the type of ship but the choices were not good. This ship were not for all ages. there was not much to do if you were in the aging population like other ships. It was geared for a younger crowd. Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
Close to home for my Birthday Cruise~~~ My fight was delayed so I boarded with no one in front of me, no line, I'll be late more often :) The ship is showing it's age, especially the atrium, dark, dull & dingy is what I ... Read More
Close to home for my Birthday Cruise~~~ My fight was delayed so I boarded with no one in front of me, no line, I'll be late more often :) The ship is showing it's age, especially the atrium, dark, dull & dingy is what I think it is...needs to be painted a light color and needs new lighting too it's just so blah no one seemed to be spending any time in there at all...bar is boring...please do something to liven this place up. Best part is watching the glass elevators go up and down...that's entertainment???? yikes!! Casino was awful, saw one woman win in 7 days...gee maybe they were just quiet about it! I played slots and they just took and took and took, pitiful. Even the "special spins" were so measly $25.00 ??...add a zero or two! Your machines are robbing us and then you have a pitiful reward for someone who is "lucky" enough to have their name drawn for a spin of the wheel. Not very much entertainment, nothing was really drawing a crowd...needs improvement. Took this cruise because it was close to home and I considered it my birthday cruise... Thanks for the wine, cookies, water bottle, and $12. photo gift card. I think this was my 6th Carnival cruise...my favorite was on the brand new Carnival Spirit in May 2001. So new in fact that we were the first to stay in our balcony cabin and when we boarded the ship the cabin number was reversed with the inside cabin across from us and they had to take a screwdriver to put the numbers in the right places. Fun memory, we knew we had paid for a balcony not an inside... it did prove we were the first passengers to be in the cabin. This was my 54th cruise, I would live on a ship if I could~~~ but not this one :) Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
Hello again. I posted a review a week ago ("a no no cruise"). This week i took the cruise with my best friend. Embarkation process - very good. Cabin - a "no no". We had cabin 1456 on deck 1. We were next to the ... Read More
Hello again. I posted a review a week ago ("a no no cruise"). This week i took the cruise with my best friend. Embarkation process - very good. Cabin - a "no no". We had cabin 1456 on deck 1. We were next to the crew's cabins. Our cabin felt like we had an engine below us. Vibrating day and night, ugh! Steward - myrene was extra awesome! Very friendly. Addressed us every morning by our names. Whatever we may need she got it for us. Very efficient, fast and very lovely young woman. A+ for her Buffet - eh! Not good. Big lines. The food was not that good. The best thing was the fruits; they look very fresh and juicy. Not too many options to pick. The beverage stations only had orange juice on the middle ones. So, if you got to sit on the end, you have to walk all the way to get orange juice. The rest of the stations only had lemonade. Why they did not put orange juice on all? i have no idea. Ship - very old. The carpet in our cabin was awful. You can see rust on every part of the ship on the outside decks. The pools were extremely small. Maybe 5-10 people get in, and the pool was full. Best place - serenity on deck 11. Very quiet and excellent to read and rest. However the heat is too much. They need to put fans on the shaded areas. The movies were good Dining - nice food. Our server assistant, alan, was great! Very courteous, friendly, and funny. Next to us were a table full of kids (between 8 and 15). They had a great time. Alan showed them tricks, jokes. They were laughing all the time. During the "showtime", alan was the best dancer. We really loved him. Safety briefing/drill - the worse experience ever. Since the last time i was on the last line, we decided to take our time to get there, so we were the first one in the big pile of people. The heat and sweating were killing us. Process still miserable. They need to do it inside!!!!!! On other cruises they scan your card to confirm everyone attended. Why having people almost dying of heat stroke, babies crying to take "manual" count. Shows - 1st show - do not go. They sing and dance for 5 minutes. The rest is the cruise director telling people what's going to happen during the cruise. 2nd and 3rd show - very good. Last show - sucked. Apparently, people auditioned to portrait different artists. A lot of them were awful. Waste of time. Guest services - while the lines were always full, they were pretty quick. Very helpful and courteous. Casino - really crowded but a good experience. Not enough bar servers for the people. Sometimes it took around 30-45 minutes to get your drink. Shops - not so many affordable options. The affordable stuff was the worst. Do not buy the 2 x $20 shirts. The material is really cheap. I have to recognize veronica in the jewelry store. So friendly and always eager to help us. Always with a smile on her face. Answered all our questions. We loved her! Excellent worker. Bands - the main band "folk factory" were very good, except when this blonde girl showed up. She had no voice at all. I rather hear the band playing with no singer. Hi lux - the rock and roll band were awesome!!!! The played the best songs ever. All kinds of music, old and new. Maria the singer had the best voice. The drummer had the ability to sing like every artist he played: billy joel, journey. The whole band rocked. I think that was the best part of our cruise. Debarkation - excellent, no long lines. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
I’ve cruised some 42-times (really). It can be a wonderful vacation. Cruising has changed so much so over the last two decades and sometime back in 1990, I took my first Carnival cruise. I recently decided to do another Carnival ... Read More
I’ve cruised some 42-times (really). It can be a wonderful vacation. Cruising has changed so much so over the last two decades and sometime back in 1990, I took my first Carnival cruise. I recently decided to do another Carnival cruise this July 2015. The first one was fairly sub-standard in comparison to the other many lines I have sailed and I wanted to give Carnival another chance this 2015. I boarded Carnival’s ‘Inspiration’ with no expectations. Carnival delivered on that concept with even less than I expected. This was just a 4 day cruise out of Long Beach to Catalina and Ensenada, Mexico. Let’s start with embarkation/boarding… One hour and a half was the process time from entering the terminal to actually boarding the ship. We arrived at our recommended time of 1:30pm to 2:30pm. They were overwhelmed at check-in. In fact so much so that you had to assume this must be Carnival’s first time at this terminal. It was not. The check-in representative shared with us that so many Carnival passengers (many first-timers) fail to do their pre-departure online check-in process before sailing and that disrupts and slows down the check-in process. Boarding the ship itself and entering the ships small atrium/lobby area resulted in several 25-30 year olds in Carnival t-shirts (staff we guessed) which appeared to be there to do something with the boarding process. They did not greet or assist but we had accomplished our pre-homework (before sailing) and knew exactly where to go while some passengers did not. We headed off to Stateroom/Cabin M-187. The lifeboat drill is a mandatory attendance requirement before sailing (yet Carnival does not take role/attendance as other lines do). That was a full hour with staff/crew sadly unprepared and certainly not qualified to ever initiate an evacuation from one of its ships. Carnival has learned nothing from the sinking of its COSTA CONCORDIA brand off the coast of Italy, a few years back (Carnival owned the Costa Concordia). Know you cabin areas and muster station areas and never wait for the crew to assist you aboard a Carnival ship if there is an emergency. Carry a personal led flashlight aboard any cruise and be prepared to get your life jacket and get topside ASAP. Things quickly improved and we met our stateroom steward (Gerald) who took Carnival up several levels to exceptional and friendly customer service levels. He was genuine and sincere and stayed that way for the entire crew (he had the task of cleaning 27 cabins per day). The cabin was old and tired (as was the entire ship) but workable. The ship was last refurbished in 2010 and is in dire need of dry dock time. The outside areas were rusted, torn and dirty and Carnival was putting no effort into the ships appearance. Maintenance was never evident during the entire 4 day sailing. The stateroom itself was very basic. Only one outlet was provided for A/C power. Chargers for phones, laptops, etc. were on a waitlist for that single shared outlet. The cabin came with a small-sized TV (maybe 13-15 inches ???). DirecTV was the service provider and TV channels came in clear and clean with about 7 available channels. There were no movies in a theater onboard but Carnival showed the movie GRAVITY over and over for 24 hours on the TV. This is a self-service cruise with few planned activities. Expect ports-of-call to be the focus of your sailing with a so-called Fun-Day-At-Sea. That Fun-Day-At-Sea means drinking and drinking, walking around and maybe some sun time in crowded (and close) deck chairs. I expect some harsh feedback or criticism (from this review) but the cuisine aboard the ship was very CHUCK E. CHEESE (in the dining rooms) and GOLDEN CORAL from the buffet areas. Food counters were dirty, abused and poorly stocked. Staffing was minimal everywhere and never would you see the ships actual officers walking or inspecting the food areas or open deck areas. It was more like going to CAMP. Food quality was beyond sub-par. No effort at presentation, quality or taste. One exception to that rule was a venue called MONGOLIAN WOK where for a few hours a day (usually Noon to 4PM), Asian stir fry dishes were created poolside. They were fresh, cooked well and very good! Dining room menus offered a chicken breast entree each night and specialties included Carbonara Spaghetti (without Carbonara) and flatbreads. For $20.00 person, you could UPGRADE the menu each night to a steak or lobster tail. Our ship (Inspiration) had no other alternative pay-venue restaurants. Dining room tables (main dining room) were mostly large, seating 10 to 12 guests per table. Again, Carnival was poorly staffing the dining rooms with the waiters working incredibly hard to try their best to accommodate guests onboard. NEVER did we ever see a Maitre d’ make his/her rounds in the main dining room. There are NO RULES aboard a Carnival ship. We saw a 7-9 year old playing the slot machines in the casino with her dad. Jacuzzi tubs marked ADULTS ONLY were filled with kids. Glassware (instead of plastic wear) were in the pools and Jacuzzi’s while deck staffed looked on with no authority to enforce or they simply didn’t care. Smoking of cigars and cigarettes occurred in all areas. No enforcement. Older teens bragged that they got adults to buy them drinks or that they held out large cash tips for the bar staff who would then serve them. Carnival does have a very strict rule of bringing alcohol aboard its ships and beyond all other efforts or concerns, they placed extreme interest and time/staffing to make sure you were only buying their drinks while onboard. Liquor, wines and beer were caught always from both checked luggage and carry-ons. You also cannot carry on bottled water and must purchase their water as of July 2015. In fairness, Carnival promotes its cruises as ‘FUN’. These are boat rides and not cruises. Filled with 24/7 partying (especially in the 3-4 day segments/market). The type of Carnival passenger is varied by many 20-30 aged young adults; sometimes very rowdy. Yet many families were aboard as well. There were few senior people aboard. It’s like a Greyhound Bus at-sea or a Motel 6 at poolside. Sometimes self-centered, loud and obnoxious. Many are first-time cruisers and many are simply just good-old-boys that can down two 6-packs a day with ease. The profile of so many Carnival passengers probably can be best described as AL & PEG BUNDY along with ZZ Top at your dining room table... It’s just a boat ride for many. They have no idea of what a real cruise is really like. It really can be a classless experience if you don’t have an open mind and are not tolerant of 3-7 days of pure crazy. Vegas with Randy Quaid and Chevy Chase? Randy Quaid’s (Vegas Vacation movie) classic scene in the buffet line (with Clark Griswold) hoarding the buffet line with food piled mile-high on his plate is another profile of a Carnival passenger. This is the type of individual that Carnival sells to! It’s not wrong and it’s not bad! It’s simply Carnival and so many of the passengers onboard really enjoyed their first-time experience and liked Carnival! Some argued, some wore baseball caps to the dining room and some wore very little period! Again, a unique passenger base of varied and laughable characters. Disembarkation consists of three groups. You can pay $50 extra to Carnival to both board early and disembark early. Then there is the self-assist group for *walk-offs/carry your luggage off* and finally the cruise tradition of placing your bags outside your stateroom (night before) and waiting for your group to be called. Clear US customs, clear the parking lot (parking is $19 a day at Long Beach, CA as of this writing) and finally either board a bus for the airport or jump into your car and drive away as fast as you can! I’m personally very glad that there is a Carnival Cruise Lines! It keeps Carnival passengers off of the quality cruise lines such as Royal Caribbean, Celebrity and Disney Cruise Lines. Many passengers loved it! Many said they had sailed Carnival 8-12 times. For myself, I’ll pass on a future Carnival Cruise. Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
Queen Victoria Voyage 105, Los Angeles-Ensenada-Los Angeles, February 2011. This was a short 4 day sampler cruise, drawing many passengers from the US West Coast. This cruise was per day, the most expensive I have ever taken, and chosen ... Read More
Queen Victoria Voyage 105, Los Angeles-Ensenada-Los Angeles, February 2011. This was a short 4 day sampler cruise, drawing many passengers from the US West Coast. This cruise was per day, the most expensive I have ever taken, and chosen because of Cunard's brochure hype about dancing. I therefore applied high standards to the dance environment on the ship. I was able to obtain information from passengers who had been on the previous Hawaii cruise, and also from experienced Cunarders, to verify my observations. Music and Dancing. The Queens Room is a large, two-deck high area supposedly based on one of Queen Victoria's residences The extra height, opening into the next deck, seems to help air circulation when full. The dance floor is about 25' x 50'. It is the most attractive ballroom I have seen on a ship. Hemispheres is located on Deck 10, behind the Commodore Club. Although much small than the Queens Room, is is also an attractive dance venue. The dance floor is large enough for Latin but unfortunately, the floor while wooden, includes a metal inlay. As one might expect, the metal and wood are shrinking at different rates, resulting is some rather uncomfortable raised edges. The following is the text of a letter sent to Cunard regarding the music. I was recently on Queen Victoria V105, Ensenada. I chose this trip over Cunard's competitors (notably, Cunard's sister line Costa) based on the promise of good music and dancing. I am pleased to report the recorded music played between band sets was excellent. While the DJ was not a dancer and did not always get the mix quite right, it was among the best I have ever heard on a ship. Whoever is responsible deserves a good bonus. However, I am being generous to say the Queens Room Orchestra was a disappointment. What music was within British Dance Council tempo ranges, was often by accident, something else having been announced. The noise emanating from the wind section was inexplicable. Several bars into the music, one of the horns would start inane tootling, totally out of sync with the tempo. Almost all of the complaints I heard about off-tempo music actually originated there. Even experienced dancers found it difficult to follow, the drummer not being very strong either. The Orchestra also had the usual problem of playing on and on; one passenger timed an already too-fast cha-cha at 7 minutes. As a Carnival shareholder, I question what cost/benefit calculation is being done, to justify such mediocre music. I was told that voyage V104, passengers walked out in disgust, leaving the band to play to an empty room. I understand some easy-listening, non-dance music is required, but what is the demand for "bossas" and "shuffles", whatever they are? The band Changez was capable of decent Latin rhythms, even some nice ballroom, when they tried, although they often slipped into Caribbean-y mishmash for 20 or 30 minutes at a time. I like many things about the Queen Victoria, but with such unreliable music, I cannot recommend it to any of the dance groups I travel with. The Commodore Club is not a dance venue, although it is one of the most attractive lounges at sea. Food The menu and portion sizes are geared to British tastes. I was very satisfied with the food, but there were just a few too many not-quite-right issues to warrant an unqualified 5. Pub lunch is available in the Golden Lion, and is very popular. Cabins Cunard operates a three-class system. Each class has its own restaurant. Queens Grill and Princess Grill are open seating, Britannia is fixed dining. The Grills also have a (small) reserved lounge and deck area. Otherwise, the ship is open to all. I was traveling in Britannia class. I found my cabin to be nearly identical to most others I have traveled in, one notable item being a shortage of shelves in the bathroom. Dress Code- When Cunard says formal, they mean it: tuxedo, or a dark suit. Jackets required every night in the restaurant (not the buffet). For a short, US West Coast sailing, the dress code was well respected, I saw only one t-shirt/blue jeans. This is apparently better than a UK Bank Holiday cruise. Activities- As this was a very short cruise, only a few activities were scheduled. There were no Captain's receptions. Value For Money- Average, with the proviso that the live music did not live up to the brochure hype. For me, that meant the cruise was not worthwhile. Read Less
Sail Date February 2011

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