by D. Clements
April 2, 2005
I am an airline employee - 32 years with Delta, so as you can imagine, I've done a great deal of traveling. This was my first cruise and my last cruise on Carnival.
On Sunday morning we woke up to large swells. The ship was rocking very badly - so badly that you couldn't walk up the hallways without holding onto something. MANY of the people were sick and throwing up everywhere. The smell of vomit around the ship and in the restrooms was pretty bad that day.
The floor in our room was dirty enough to turn our socks black. The room had a musty smell and just smelled dirty to me, as did the bedspread. It looked quite worn. We were in the back of the ship and, there were large cardboard boxes piled up 4 feet high on both sides of our doors ALL WEEK.
The main swimming pool was very small for a ship of 2500 people and it was geared towards kids with large slides, ropes and things. The other smaller pool did not have water in it the first evening. After they did fill it, so many people were trying to crowd into it, it was unusable. There needed to be an adult swimming pool and jacuzzi.
I found the employees on the sun decks less than helpful. They didn't help you with your chairs and we saw the waiter once. If we wanted another drink, we had to get up and go get it.
We had two 16 year old girls with us. I asked and was told there was a teen club on the boat. This consisted of a small room with kids toys, puzzles and things suitable for 8-10 year olds. Not much fun for them.
Unfortunately, there seemed to be a lot of smokers on this ship. People were smoking in the restaurants, too. It was annoying trying to eat with the smoke in the room. The ventilation - all over the ship - seemed to be very poor, especially, in the casino.
After being cooped up on this ship with everyone sick on Sunday, on Monday morning, we arrived at the Cayman Islands and the port authority would not let any ships tether because of the rough condition of the sea. So, we were turned away and we didn't get to do our Cayman excursions. I talked to several employees, in the restaurant and in the spa, and they said that there have been quite a few times lately that they couldn't dock in Cayman. So - beware.
No theatre on the ship and the same three movies playing on TV all week.
I had heard and read about the wonderful shows on board. The comedy was either bland and old or filthy dirty. The production numbers were ok, but it didn't live up to the reputation.
Overall, the food was mediocre at best. The selections at the buffet were quite limited and much of the food was the same each day. The food on the captain's night was pretty good. At least then, we could get a shrimp cocktail. There were no big nightly midnight buffets, no seafood buffets, and the only thing available late at night was greasy pizza. After hearing about all the great food served on cruises, ours was a big disappointment. Our waiters in the main dining room weren't did their jobs, but nothing extra and certainly weren't very personable. We never saw the maitre d'.
The breakfasts in the Horizon Grill were your basic "Golden Coral" variety. Lukewarm and greasy.
I would compare my cruise experience to staying at a Day's Inn or Motel 6 in Panama City surrounded by that caliber person with that level of service. So - if you're not too choosey about your room, have a bunch of kids under 13 that you want to ditch and let them run wild, you like Ryan's quality food, smoke and are looking for a cheap vacation, wait until about a week before Carnival sails. You can book a 5 day cruise for about $249 and you'll get exactly what you paid for. Unfortunately, we booked early and paid a premium price.
If you are used to 4 and 5 star hotels and this level of service and food - I'd look for a different cruise line. I've heard that Celebrity and Princess are good. Too bad I didn't hear soon enough.