by Jennifer and Derrell
July 26, 2004
Our First, and Last, Cruise with Carnival
TROUBLE BEFORE WE EVEN LEFT: We booked this cruise for our honeymoon. Our cruise was scheduled to leave on July 26, 2005, at 4pm, and as such we could begin boarding at 12pm. Unbeknownst to us, the prior cruise was 8 hours late returning (due to a medical emergency), and we sat in a terminal for HOURS, waiting as the prior passengers disembarked.
We finally boarded the ship at 11:30pm (tired and hungry after spending the day in the terminal), and immediately began looking for something to eat. An employee directed us to the dining room, but it was closed. Another employee directed us to the same dining room, and we told her it was closed. she then suggested we try the Lido Deck. We went up to the Lido Deck to find 2500 passengers waiting in line for a buffet.
We went back to our rooms, and ordered sandwiches from room service. This was not exactly how we had envisioned our honeymoon. We finally set sail at 1:45 am on July 27, 2005 (almost 10 hours late).
SAILING: Do to our late departure, the captain decided to speed things up a bit, so that we could make it to Puerto Rico on schedule. The rough seas, and high rate of speed, just made everyone nauseaus.
SHORE EXCURSIONS: We attempted to book our excursions via the interactive system on the television, but it was not working. As such, we were forced to wait in a long line at the excursion desk to book our tours. We waited in line for almost 2 hours to booke the mountain biking trip in San Juan.
STEWARD: Our steward kept our room nice and tidy, but was a bit of an idiot. He kept leaving us the itinerary for July 26, 2005 (a nice little reminder that we missed that day) instead of the current day's itinerary. We nicely explained each day that we wanted TODAY's itintery, and by the 3rd day, he finally got it right.
THE MEMO: On July 28th, we received a memo advising us that since we would be getting in to San Juan late, that all shore excursions would be cancelled. This was not a nice surprise after waiting almost 2 hours to book an excursion that Carnival knew waa never going to happen, since we had left 10 hours late.
ACTIVITIES FOR SAN JUAN: After being on the ship for 3 days, we had more than a little cabin fever, and couldn't wait to get to San Juan. Since all of the excursions were cancelled, we inquired at the tour desk, if they knew of any other activities that we could do once we arrived in San Juan. We were told that San Juan was not safe at night, and that we shouldn't get off the ship!!! Great...
GET ME OUTTA HERE: If this was a regular "vacation" we would have dealt with it, and finished out the miserable experience. Since this was our honeymoon, we made a wise decision to jump ship. We met with the purser, Frederick, and told him we wanted to get off of the ship and salvage our honeymoon. We were pleased to find out that Carnival has a guarantee program that gives you a pro-rated refund, as well a free flight home, so long as you get off at the first port.
We were thrilled, as were several other passengers that had also inquired about leaving the ship. Frederick was very understanding and accomodating in making our arrangements to leave the ship.
FOOD: The food at dinner was delicious. The lines to get into the dining room were a bit long and crowded, and it felt like a cattle call at times. Our waiter was wonderful, and like I said, the food was terrific.
The lunch buffet wasn't as great, and we tried to acoid it. Likewise, we also had breakfast in the restaurant to avoid the buffet.
SERVICE: Our waiter at dinner was excellent, as were the cocktail servers poolside. Aside from the problems mentioned earlier, our steward was also good. Room service was a bit slow, but was still satisfactory.
ENTERTAINMENT: The entertainment was a JOKE. In fact I literally thought it was a joke when we went to the magic show. The magician came out, and just happened to also be the cruise director. He amazed us all with the linking rings (I think Peter Brady did this same trick) and then his bird got loose and started flying around the theatre. Everyone laughed, as did we, and we all assumed it was a joke, and that the "real" magician would be coming out. The joke was on us...but it did make for a comical experience.
Less comical was the comedian. His jokes consisted of 7th grade humor. Tampon jokes??? At this point, we just laughed and left the show, chalking it up to another Carnical debacle!!
LEAVING THE SHIP: We were told our steward would come pick up our luggage, but he never arrived. We decided to lug our suitcases down to the main floor ourselves. We were taken into a back elevator (along with the other passengers who were leaving) and were to be the first ones off of the ship.
I found it comical that the passengers had to wait to get their pictures taken before they could leave the ship, which made disembarking take that much longer. This was especially funny given that everyone has cabin fever, and also only had 2-3 hours to spend in San Juan since we had arrived so late.
We disembarked ahead of the crowd, and were taken to the airport. Our honeymoon ended up taking us to Walt Disney World, and we never looked back.