Carnival Reviews - Cruise Ship reviews by Cruisemates Readers
Carnival Cruise Lines

by Prairiefire
Western Caribbean
August 24, 2003

We couldn't leave this ship fast enough--it was broken promises and lots of disappointment all the way for this 50-year-old mom and three teenagers (13, 14, and 15).

The kids got on board, went exploring, and found 'adults only' signs on about 1/2 of the public areas: the bars, the casino, the gym, the spa, and the upper sundeck. They were put off by the early-childhood decor of the children's area, and found themselves limited pretty much to the cafeteria, two small pools, and our stateroom.

When I sought out the Youth Social Director to find out if we had missed anything (perhaps one small corner of the ship designated for teens to meet and mingle?), the social director handed us a sheet of paper with some listed activities and rattled off for me a list of places my kids couldn't go. (Yes, we can see the "no one under 18" signs, thank you.)

We tried out some of the activities and they were dominated either by little kids (tee-shirt painting) or by adults (wrestling an inflatable crocodile in the pool). Playstations were allegedly available for one hour a day, but when my 13-year-old son sought them out, he found them parked in one corner of a dank, windowless nursery area with decor and seats suitable for 4-year-olds, and he had to be let through a toddlers' safety gate to get to them. He wouldn't set foot in the place, like any self-respecting 13-year-old. Internet access was available in more inviting surroundings, but at something in the neighborhood of $50 an hour.

When I complained about the limited teen activities in writing to the cruise director, she wrote back, but conceded that the 14- and 15-year olds would be allowed in the gym, but only as long as I was also present. So much for the promise that I could get some relaxation while the kids had their own fun.

And DO NOT board a cruise that leaves from Galveston unless you truly enjoy the company of Texans who love to brag loudly about Texas at the slightest provocation, which the cruise staff gave them at every gathering (Hello, Texans!). The 25% of us or so who were from elsewhere rapidly tired of the Texas braggadoccio, but pretty much had to keep our mouths shut because we were so very much in the minority and the cruise staff egged the Texans on.

These were no genteel Southerners, either. Bad grammar, four-letter-word vocabularies even when they were engaged in friendly chatter, obscene tee-shirts, crass materialism (Bingo cards and scratch-off games at nearly every gathering, along with staff souvenir give-aways that had this crowd literally knocking each other over grabbing for the free tee-shirt or whatever.) I thought the dining room might be a refuge, but the loud potty-mouths at the next table would whoop and holler anytime a waiter dropped a tray. Take your kids to the neighborhood bar for the same atmosphere at a cheaper price.

The shore trips at Cozumel (we went on a Jeep eco-tour in a conservation area) and Calica (we visited the Mayan ruins of Tulum) were very good, and I enjoyed the low-fat spa cuisine menu. The housekeeping staff were genuinely concerned about our cruise experience, and the waiters were warm and friendly.