by Nicolas Kielbania and Melissa Smith
February 16, 2002
I am writing this letter in regards to a sea cruise I recently returned from on the Caribbean seas on Carnival Cruise Line. I am by no means one to complain about a vacation in any way shape or form but feel I must express my utter disappointment with this experience. Please do not disregard this as a nasty letter but realize its importance in order to more thoroughly satisfy your thousands of customers.
My Carnival Cruise on the "Fun Ship Triumph" departed from Miami Florida at 5:00 pm Saturday afternoon February the sixteenth and returned February twenty third at 8:00 am.
I will begin with the bus ride from Miami International Airport to the Triumph. The overall ride was fine with the exception of three stops for passenger pickup and no overhead announcement regarding any of this taking place. We kept anticipating getting to the ship. However, we circled the airport at least three times. The driver took us through a very rundown section of town. The driver announced that his tip was not included and we better not forget about him. Upon arrival to the docking terminal, every passenger was forced to sit on the bus until all the luggage was offloaded. This was not exactly an easy task after being cooped up for over an hour in the bus not to mention the additional time spent on the plane rides to Miami. What I'm really displeased about is with the way our luggage was treated. Where the bus had parked there was evidently a large amount of water, which collected into puddles from passing showers. The individuals who offloaded our luggage simply took everyone's bags and threw them from a distance of 4-5 feet onto the ground into the puddles. Our luggage was thrown into the biggest puddle of all and was visibly wet. When we were finally allowed off the bus, the driver was standing in front of the door with his hand out almost insisting a tip for his utterly shameful drive. Once we tipped the individual out of pure guilt, the bag handlers who also wanted a tip met us. They actually charged us a dollar per bag to bring our luggage on the ship, which they claimed would be in front of our cabins in ½ hours tops. I graciously gave them the fee and moved on.
The lines were long and there were at least two to three security checks before boarding but this is understandable.
I was mostly appalled with what happened next. Within minutes of stepping foot on board, the ships whistle sounded for our mandatory lifeboat drill. Now I'm no expert mate on board a ship but did graduate from Massachusetts Maritime Academy and know the proper order of a vessel. This drill was outrageous! I was lucky to find my cabin and life jacket in time to wade my way through hundreds of people and find my muster station. When my fiance and I arrived, we were met by a sea of people who were either drunk of drinking cocktails, sitting or laying on the deck, life jackets being worn backwards if even put on at all and people laughing and joking about how ridiculous this is. After about ten minutes of mass confusion, the captain came on the overhead and did a rather decent job explaining the muster stations and where one should go in the event of an emergency. The mates, which were demonstrating how to put the life jackets on, were not saying a word and could care less if anyone was paying attention or even standing for that matter. Boy, I don't think the US Coast Guard would be too happy with that drill. After another ten minutes of pointless instructions, we were giving the all clear and allowed to go back to our rooms where our luggage still had not arrived and wouldn't until 9:30 pm!
The following are just a few general problems which stand out in my mind when looking back at the cruise, which I had to express in detail. They may not be in chronological order. Please take these comments and concerns into consideration.
I was absolutely appalled at how much gratuity was expected and required to be paid on this cruise. The gratuity per person was 70$ dollars per day which I was never told nor read about in any carnival package pamphlet anywhere before booking this cruise. A 15% gratuity was tacked onto everything you purchased on the ship hands down. Alcoholic drinks, garments, purchasable foods, gifts, room service, the works- all gratuity. This is on top of the 1500$ per person standard cruise fee for this trip. I was also very annoyed with the fact that the Matradies do not receive any gratuity and they should be given a cash tip at the end of the cruise. This was never told to us in advance.
Room service for starters was terrible. I ordered three coca-colas on three different occasions during this cruise. Each took over an hour minimum to be delivered with two-complaint phone calls on top of that! As usual we were also required to give a gratuity on the cola.
Our Matradie from the dining room was also a real beauty. This guy never said two words to anyone at our table the entire trip but he did make his rounds. He made sure he hit the three single female tables each night and carry on in-depth conversations for ten plus minutes a night. To tell you the truth though, he did speak to my fiance and I. We were scolded for entering the dining room past the main course serving even though we could have still received dessert. Luckily, one of our dining couples insisted we not go. They made him allow us to stay. Painstakingly he agreed, but made sure we ordered dessert and coffee only. This is not something I should have to deal with!
Your headwaiters, assistant waiters, and some bartenders were great. The only thing that puzzles me though is that how none of these workers seemed to be US citizens. I did find my answer when I asked an assistant waiter why this was. He told me that Carnival helps Alien Immigrants get their green card. He also asked my fiance and I if his salary of $74.00 dollars PER MONTH was adequate!! He has been working for Carnival for 5 years now and claims he received numerous raises and would like his wife to join him. He claimed that some people started as low as $40.00 dollars per month. Is this legal, just curious?
I can't really comment on this too much because I did not attend to many events. From what I heard many shows were great. Especially the nightly shows when the entire wait staff were made to run out and sing and dance on our tables and stairwells. Those were the best (hint: sarcasm). The cruise director Corey, in my opinion, was not very funny at all. The only time I got a few laughs out of him was when he belittled people so badly on stage they literally cried. What a way to treat your guests, at all times.
This is one area I feel strongly about. Carnivals rule standards need serious improvement and enforcement. I by no means dislike kids but when your sitting next to them at the casino playing slots or sitting next to them at the bar, it gets to be a little much. Yes, sixteen year olds and under sitting at the bar and playing slots with all employees turning there heads. I have to say that I never actually saw these kids purchasing alcoholic beverages but did see several inebriated during the after hours. I don't think that they would have purchased their liquor at our ports of call either seeing that we hadn't hit any at this point. The two Jacuzzis which specifically had signs stating 18 years or older were filled with screaming kids 90% of the time, even the one in the nautical gym. Granted, much of the children issues should be handled more adequately by the parents but this was ridiculous. I did not see one Carnival bartender, waiter, security person, trainer, entertainer, employee say one word to one child. Maybe they were afraid they would be promptly fired or demoted for there actions if anyone were to reveal them to an employee with higher authority. I also saw a sign posted which stated no seats should be reserved for other guests. This may have been a rule but sure as heck didn't apply to the patio chairs on deck. I can't even count how many chairs I saw which were taken by markings such as one shoe, a shirt, a suntan lotion bottle or the worst yet, a blue unfolded beach towel straight from the clean linen bin. People obviously were up at the wee morning hours setting up lawn chairs and marking a row of four or more with clean beach towels. Then probably either retiring to bed or eating breakfast.
Also, is there any way possible that some sort of insignia could be placed on your sign and sail card proving if your over twenty one or not. There were actually a few bartenders who asked to see ID, which I was glad to see. They are doing a nice job. The only problem is that you have to carry two forms of ID around with you at all times, it can be a little bit of a burden. This is just a suggestion to avoid customer inconveniences.
This was not a major issue but still one, which could not be overlooked. Our cabin rugs were slightly stained and numerous towels were delivered to our room with some type of stain. One couple that went the extra mile and rented a deluxe sweet had the fine privilege of boarding the ship and finding their suites bathroom leaking raw sewage from around the toilet. It was quickly covered of course by some type of adhesive patch. Luckily, they claimed it lasted for five days before breaking through the seal. Also, the times which things around the ship were serviced was uncalled for. For instance, the main entrance to the nautical gym was being repainted the entire cruise and blocked off completely with caution tape. The Oxford bar dance floor was being sanded with 4 belt sanders while the entire bar was filled with people. Dust particles, polyurethane, and everything else in the wood was dispersed in clouds throughout the fully packed bar and all over the furniture. I'm surprised no one complained to an agency like OSHA. Especially with no respirators. Can't these kinds of issues be taken care of when at port?
The tours were great once they finally started. Each tour has a specific time frame, which the guests are allowed. Every tour I took was delayed for at least an hour because all paid guests were not ready. I can see time discrepancies but why should the people who show up on time get nixed on the time, which they paid for and should be enjoying.
This cruise was nothing like I had pictured. I was dissatisfied with roughly 75% of my entire trip with half of the remaining 25% coming from enjoyment on the islands. Some positive things were all the pictures taken on board by employees. I also enjoyed the sit down meals, though small portioned, very good. The pizza cafe also was a positive. The drinks were also decent but very weak. I would think that the money each individual pays to come on board, the bartenders should at least be allowed to give a good pour.
Again, please take this as constructive criticism and don't treat it like a nasty letter. I was disappointed and so were many other couples that I spoke with. These are some things, which your line should build on if you would like customers to keep coming back.
My fiance and I feel that we should be compensated in some way to make up for our terrible experience. I just can't see paying over $4000 dollars for what we just went through.