May 31, 2008
We boarded in New Orleans where they seem to do as good a job as any getting all the cars parked, luggage out and people moved as quickly as possible; of course you have all the security checks which are for everyone's safety so they don't seem to much of a problem.
Once aboard we found the traditional sailing day lunch on the Lido deck, burgers and fries, makes for a great start and is fun to have lunch by the pool. Of course the bars were open and ready to serve up those Drinks of the Day as well as any other beverage you desire.
One thing I did note throughout the cruise is Carnival's Soft Drink card has grown in popularity and with loads of kids onboard I found it a bit odd to have to wait behind 3 eight year old kids at the bar for a drink. Possibly Carnival could put in machines that dispensed the soft drink of choice or even a soda bar. It just does not seem right for the kids to be hanging out around the bar, and at all hours. You're right -- Where was mom and dad?
The cruise got underway with all the normal hoopla and fun. Our first dinner (late seating) was a bit of a disappointment. The waiter seemed disorganized at best and there was no real order to how food was delivered, we had folks at the table getting the main course while some had not even gotten their soup or salads. We hoped that this was just first night problems and that it would get better, as we had cruised many times in the past and never had a waiter problem. We were hopeful; sadly that was not the case. On the second night (formal night) it was worse to a point that I had to ask when my wife was going to get her food and most others at the table were well into the main course. Others at the table voiced a similar concern; this was our last night to go to the dining room for dinner. We instead had dinner at the buffet and we had a great time. Food was great, very relaxed and fun; and while we missed the formal dining, this was a good substitute.
Our trip to Progresso and arrival was very nice, with calm seas and typical cruise fun. One note -- lots of kids as school is out, and we had fun watching them at the pools. But sadly some parents just let them run wild, and this was a problem.
We went to breakfast with the masses just as we were arriving in Progresso only to have the ship's crew banging away on the bulkheads with paint chipping hammers, very loud, annoying and actually painful to the ears if close enough. Many folks just left or moved and were obviously disgusted. I found it to be poor timing and it ruined the meal for all.
We were off for our massage at the SPA, very excited and ready, sadly this was disturbed also by the banging away with chipping hammers in another location, and it really destroyed the soft music low light relaxing atmosphere they were trying to get for the massage.
Our trip to shop was fun. There's a great small shopping area just off the ship and it was fun to talk to the local shop owners -- wonderful people.
Upon our return to the ship (we were going to have some lunch and sun on the deck) we found that alas, once again the chippers were pounding away at the pool area, so we went inside to eat. Our return to sun was nice, but again more ship's work with welders and chippers; possibly Carnival could post of list of days and times that the guests can use these areas? While I understand the need for the work, there are better times to do it.
Our trip to Cozumel and arrival was very calm with a nice sunset the night prior. We were quick to get off the ship in Cozumel to do some shopping and found all the deals we were looking for. We returned to the ship for a late lunch and some sun and fun, but to our amazement the chippers were back, all the while as there were hundreds of guests trying to enjoy the rest of the day.
Another dinner in the buffet area, again very nice, relaxed and great food. We really enjoyed this part of the trip.
Our last day at sea was great, weather was perfect, calm seas and lots of sun. We moved to the adult area which allowed us to enjoy watching the crowds, but not having the kids directly under foot.
The cruise overall was OK, but we have had much better. The staff was very pleasant and friendly, as they always have been. Our room steward did a great job, and we could not have been happier. Lots of kids, but it is summer. The ship's deck maintenance officers need a lesson in scheduling -- horrible times to be working in the guest areas. While we have on past cruises always had great dining room service, this cruise it was deplorable. We have cruised 6 times on Carnival and will likely try another line after this cruise. Either they have finally found enough annoyances to drive us away or the service and quality of the cruise line is truly slipping.