December 30, 2012
Holiday Cruises? Think Twice!
My family and I just returned from a Western Caribbean cruise on the Carnival Magic out of Galveston. We sailed from Dec. 30-Jan. 6. My husband, daughter and I have been on eight or more cruises. We thoroughly enjoy the cruising experience…everything from the food to the activities to the ports of call. We have chosen Carnival in the past because of its children's activities. Our daughter is an only child and absolutely loves mixing and mingling with other kids her age in the Circle C. Carnival is the fun ship, after all! We really do believe that a cruise vacation is a good value for our money. This time, we brought along five extended family members as a treat. So…if one follows the price of cruises, one knows that holiday cruises can be expensive.
Just as I've always remarked to my spouse, I'd rather not fly during Thanksgiving or Christmas. As it turns out, embarking on a cruise at this very busy holiday time was not the best of ideas, either! One morning I heard the cruise director state that there were about 4600 guests aboard. Not crew, only guests. Every cabin must have been filled to capacity (three or four or more). I honestly believe that the crew was overwhelmed. Dinner service was off, lines were longer, activities were not as varied, the theater shows were not performed well. One crew member told me that the three weeks prior to my cruise had been exceptionally busy.
My husband and I especially enjoy the outdoor theater screen. Out of the seven evenings, there were just two that allowed for movies. Other nights were devoted to football…Time of year for Bowl games! (Get why I'm saying think twice?) I am a fan of football to be sure, but these same games were broadcast in cabins and at least one bar area. So, we were a little disappointed not to have watched more movies. New Year's Eve was especially busy after the first theater show. We reasoned that every passenger wanted to eat early because the line for anytime dining was so long that we had to think of eating at the buffet upstairs. It was just a crushing scene of people; no organization to the "line" and unlike anything we'd experienced even on a Spring Break cruise.
I was disappointed in the types of activities on this cruise. In a nutshell, if one is a trivia enthusiast, then one has plenty of opportunity to nurture that hobby! I like trivia games too, but it just seemed like overkill. The standard activities like Bingo, art auctions, sports games, etc., are alive and well. In Carnival's defense, however, I must comment that on our rainy Saturday there were plenty of board games and card games to keep people busy. In fact, as I walked the ship on that day, just about everyone was involved in some type of game.
As stated above, my husband and I have cruised many times.In fact, we just sailed the Carnival Triumph out of Galveston in August and could not have had a better time. We've been on RC, Holland America, Princess, Carnival and Celebrity. I've never felt the need to write a review. I felt especially compelled this time around because of our experience. This New Year's Eve cruise is one we'd rather forget. We have come away thinking that we wasted our money. Service was not up to standard and the amount of people just overwhelmed us. We will cruise Carnival again, but we'll choose a better time of year. Lesson learned!