Regions:Caribbean Eastern, Caribbean Western, Caribbean
Good for: First-time Cruisers. Families. Singles.
Good for: Value for Money. Overall Service. Children`s Programs.
Good for: Children`s Programs. Seniors. Singles.
Good for: Singles. Families. Children`s Programs.
Good for: Teens. First-time Cruisers. Families.
Regions:Caribbean Eastern, Caribbean Western
Good for: Teens. Singles. Families.
Regions:Caribbean Eastern, Caribbean Western
Good for: Singles. Group. Families.
Regions:Mexico, Caribbean Eastern, Hawaii
Good for: Families. Overall Service. Value for Money.
Regions:Bahamas, Caribbean Eastern
Good for: Singles. Group. First-time Cruisers.
Regions:Bahamas, Caribbean Eastern
Regions:Bahamas, Bermuda, South America
Good for: Group. Families. Foodies.
Regions:Europe, TransAtlantic, Caribbean
Good for: Families. Children`s Programs. Singles.
Regions:Caribbean Eastern, Caribbean Western
Good for: Group. Families. Luxury Travelers.
Good for: Group. Singles. First-time Cruisers.
Good for: Seniors. Group. Singles.
Good for: Families. Group. Singles.
Good for: Families. Value for Money. First-time Cruisers.
Regions: Bahamas, Caribbean, Canada/New England, Cruise To Nowhere
Good for: Children`s Programs. Singles. Families.
Regions:Bahamas, Caribbean, Mexico, Panama Canal
Good for: Singles. Families. Children`s Programs.
Good for: Seniors. Families. Children`s Programs.
Good for: Group. First-time Cruisers. Families.
Good for: Group. Families. Singles.
2010 Carnival Pride Cruise Age: 60 Occupation: Architect Number of Cruises: 5 Number with Carnival: 2
Background: We chose this cruise because we live in Northern Virginia and the Baltimore departure didn't require the additional expense of airfare. Our two daughters and their friends joined my wife and me on the cruise. We chose three obstructed view (lifeboats in your face) rooms so that all six of us would have adequate bathroom access. We were not disappointed.
Boarding: Embarkation was tedious; it seemed as though the Baltimore Port Authority was learning how to load a cruise ship for the first time. Directions for passengers were non-existent and a working process was not apparent. Once the gauntlet was passed, all was smooth sailing (so to speak). Ship: Overall, the ship is well maintained and meets the expectations of most experienced cruisers. I'm not sure how the haunted house décor supports the "fun ship" theme Carnival advertises; the interior of the Pride is dark and encrusted with "embellishments." By the end of the cruise I finally stopped trying to see if my fellow passengers had reflections in the mirrors on the ship.
Food: The Normandy DiningRoom was excellent for breakfast, lunch, and dinner; the food was varied, well-prepared, and professionally served. The Lido Grille was crowded, confusing, and crowded with aggressive feeders. We took all our meals in the dining room and were perfectly satisfied. Breakfast was the same each day, but lunch and dinner offered enough choices to keep any palette satisfied. Our evening wait staff were both friendly and professional (we were greeted with our names the first night), and the staff at other meals were uniformly courteous and efficient.
Entertainment: We enjoyed the production shows; dancing and singing were memorable. Comics, magicians, and jugglers are not "our cup of tea." New Year's Eve was great. Carnival provided several venues tailored to different tastes; we baby-boomers were treated to the sounds of the 70's to usher 2011; so we "danced the night away."
Sea Days: This itinerary is divided evenly between sea and port days (3 each). Sea days offer the opportunity to relax and enjoy the freedom of "doing nothing." Since most of the on-board activities are inane, we chose to "do nothing" and enjoy the relaxation. Unlike typical Caribbean cruises, the Baltimore departure positions the first and last day in the "not so temperate" weather of the mid-Atlantic. Our first day at sea was quite cold with high winds; passengers were restricted to indoor areas. As a result, the public areas were very crowded and our fellow passengers were not at their best.
Port Days: We booked itineraries through Carnival because we were on vacation and had no desire to worry about anything. At Port Canaveral we chose the Air Boat Excursion (with Coco Shopping) – the Air Boat was absolutely great; shopping kept the distaff members satisfied. Nassau brought Atlantis – the over-the-top water park and resort experience (Disney World for adults); everyone should try this at least once. In Freeport, we chose the kayak and nature hike – very enjoyable day with a small group paddling through mangroves, enjoying a beautiful, completely deserted beach, and seeing bizarre caves used by the ancients.
Experience: Great cruise for families and groups. Don't expect to meet interesting people; the typical Carnival cruiser is as interesting as white bread. The staff is cordial, friendly, and efficient; accommodations are well-suited for a week's vacation, and everything is geared to an effort-free holiday.
I am sitting here on the Ecstasy, a cruise that I took for myself, by myself for purely reflection & "recharging". I thought I would also like to give a personal and fair perspective about the cruise. I will try to do this daily, but, depending on satellite communications, and the "slower than dial-up" speed, please bear with me.
I have been on the Elation, the Ecstasy's sister ship, and fell in love with cruising. Just havine been off the Conquest in September, I felt that the ship was SMALL in comparison, but, as comfortable as an old friend. She was decorated in garlands of greenery, red and gold. I saw a few Christmas trees, but not so overdone it was nauseating. There was also a large Menorrah (sp?) present. It was all actually very simply done, but warm & beautiful. Sorry, no pics, as I did not bring my camera. As I stated, I took this trip solely for "Me Time", and did not even think of a camera when packing.
Anyway, back to the ship - In the true styles of the 90's, the Ecstasy is somewhat bathed in Neon.It is her personality. The decor promotes "party".
I chose the option "Your Time Dining", as I did not want to be tied into any time restraints, although, to be honest, I have skipped nights in the dining room before for the Buffet for that purpose. I was seated promtly. The hostess asked if I would mind sharing, I told her ok. My table mates were first time cruisers, and asked me about the ports they were going to. We chatted over dinner, and I have to say that dining with them was a joy. One or two things I noticed about YTD - the waiters did not seem as 'intuned' to each other as I have witnessed in the past. Our table was near the server station, and there seemed to be a lot of chaotic flurry. Maybe because it was the first night? I went around 6:45, and there were also many families (note to self-go later if at all possible) with small fussy children or infants in our area. 2 couples actually asked to have thier tables changed mid-way between appetizer and main course! The St Louis ribs were as expected - fall off the bone great, and so much that I couldn't finish as always. I skipped dessert - but did go to the coffee shop and picked up a slice of Apple Crisp for a snack in the middle of the night on my tiny balcony (Another story). It was Gargantuan! I actually thought it was 2 or 3 servings...but was only one - and well worth the $2+ price.
The room - I was in one of the Verandah Suites. Priced considerably less than a balcony, but upon entering, I understood why. The cabin itself did not seem much bigger than a standard balcony I had before - The bathroom was a little larger, and the shower was comfortable, as I am on the 'fluffy' side, and I did NOT get attacked by my shower curtain. There was a wood floor entry way, and, more than adequate storage. I was surprised - NO HAIRDRYER!!!!! - not a good thing, but I always bring my own anyway. Now, for the 'balcony', if you can call it that. 10ft x 30ish inches. now pictur a deck cair facing out toward sea, and your knees are just about on the railing. NOW I know why they are cheaper.
DAY AT SEA - As I said earlier, I woke up very early - which is not umusual for me as I have worked 7p-7a for many (too many) years. Around 0430, I decided to call for some rolls and a pot of coffee, and waited for the sun to peek up over the horizon. then, after daylight arrived, I went back to my bed and made it a very lazy morning. I did something (only because of the daylight) that I would not normally do considering how the Veranda balconies are situated. I left the door open and listened to the water as 25 feet of the ships hull pushed through, Between that and the whistle of a light wind, I was rocked to sleep by the ship and an ocean lullaby.
My cabin stewards are great! Everything is there within moments of asking. I did receive a fruit basket with a bottle of Chardonnay, but never have liked it. I asked Dumrong if he and his crew would like a drink on me, and left the bottle with a note. When I returned ALL of his team came by and stopped me in the hallway to say "Thanks"
A late breakfast on the Lido was in order. Nothing spectacular, Usual Carnival breakfast fare, but the coffee seemed to be more bitter than usual. No problem, Bloody Mary took its place! One thing is for sure - Someone in Miami needs to consult a true southerner on how to make good Sausage gravy, and turn those hockey pucks into fluffy biscuits. I have been on 4 different CCL ships, and not one can bake a biscuit worth a dang!
Still quite chilly, actually, for the better part of the day & afternoon it only reached high 50s - low 60's.
Trust me, the temps did not deter the kiddos from the pool or hot tub. I was actually quite surprised at how many there were. Not just tots and infants, but many teens and tweens romping around. I actually thought I would go to the Serenity deck, but too chilly, and I figured the wind over Aft would only make it more uncomfortable. I will save that for tomorrow while everyone is in Progreso.
Late afternoon & early evening was spent wandering the decks, listening to music, and of course, heeding the call of the slots! Didn't win, but didn't lose either, so I had a little fun & broke even.
I decided to skip dinner in the MDR, as it was 'Elegant Night', & I will be doing the "Chef's Table" tomorrow evening. Will let you know how it is.
I was up well past 3 am last night. by the time I woke, it was after 1230! Didn't bother me.....I was not planning on getting off ship in Cozumel. Probably go to Chankanaab tomorrow via taxi and spend a few hours there.
Anyway, I mentioned lots of kids this cruise. I was walking & exploring last evening, and even after 12am, little 'packs' of teens & tweens were at it playing elevator tag, and hanging around the Lido deck. no adults around. I do believe several looked about 10 or 12 (or at least acted like it). Now, I do not profess to be the "kid cop", but I wonder just how much the parents know what is going on...or if they expect crew members to watch over their little ones. I AM NOT saying all kiddos are bad or irresponsible, but I know, if I had the chance to run around without supervision, I did whatever I thought I could get away with. The real danger are the adults out there with rather seedy motives. At least the majority of the kiddos were in small groups, I only saw a few out wandering alone.
One thing I noted was the Casino is quite small.....and very odd shaped. Not that I would expect it to be the size of the casino on Conquest, this is a smaller ship. The layout was veryhaphazard in respect to smoking vs non-smoking tables & slots., and there really is no way of escaping some of it. Non-smoking player tables very close to designated slots, and very small banks of non-smoking slots surrounded by designated smoking areas. I admit, I am a smoker, but I do see BOTH sides of the proverbial coin. A little more planning could have been done to keep both sides happy.
I also felt the Internet Cafe was oddly situated in the Empress Lobby. While submitting my contribution last night, line of people were getting pictures taken. One couple even sat at one of the computer desks with a small child (maybe 18-24 mo) and allowed them to bang away on the keyboard until the manager had to intervene. A small partition of frosted glass or even a counter height wall would section the area off better. Carrying a laptop would be better - but I really do not want the added parcel when travelling.
All I can say is 'The Chef's Table" is a definite must do!!!! On the Ecstasy, it is done on port days as not to conflict with the Captain's Celebration and Elegant Night festivities. If there is enough interest, they will do it twice (Progreso & Cozumel evenings).
We met in the Atrium Bar at 630 pm, and were escorted by the chef to the galley for a tour, accompanied by champagne & 4 different tastes of appetizers that the ship offers on their menus. I won't go into much detail about that, as not to 'spoil' any surprises for those of you planning on going, but let me say - I will NEVER turn my nose up at something as bizarre sounding as 'Avacado (sp?) Cheesecake' before I try it. It was absolutely wonderful!
After the galley tour, we were led to the Explorer's Club, and to a wonderfully set table for 12. A selection of wines was offered to accompany the 7 course meal to follow. Each dish was exquisitely prepared and served while the chef described the dish. (NOTE: Please let them know AHEAD of time if you have any food intolerances or allergies, and they will advise you if substitutions are available. ie: Chocolate, shellfish, etc.) You had better wear your loosest clothes, and guys, I am serious, if you cannot loosen your belt another notch, don't even bother to wear it. The meal was absolutely wonderful. Finally, after coffee & dessert, we left at about 1015pm. I felt as if I could use a wheelbarrow to get me to my room!
8am came pretty quick, and the ship slid into Cozumel. Several shore excursions had to be cancelled due to rough seas. The gangway was temporarily closed for about an hour when the Celebrity Century docked. Not sure which ones, but I do know that I prayed for everyone going to the mainland by that crazywater craft they call a ferry! It didn't seem too cool, or too warm - just very, very windy, so I ditching Chankanaab & will sign off here to go into port for a little shopping and a good stiff Margarita, then, back on board to watch the 'Great Race' back on board before sailaway!!!
So far, it has been a great cruise! There was an announcement from the Bridge that we had to pass through some rough seas, and it was not wrong. Last night we hit head winds from the north over 30kph, and the seas were choppy. I could only last for so long, and went to my cabin around 10pm. (Crazies - remember September? ). Well, I did not fare as well this time around.
The sun rose to glass seas and a beautiful blue sky. Spent the day chillaxin' and went to the casino to cash out account.
Dinner was "so-so". The onion soup was cold - YUCK! I ordered the veal parm, and found it to be quite tough. The Team waiter asked if I wanted anything else, but I declined. It was not only mine, but the table next to me also ordered onion soup & veal parm - and both were hardly touched. I have to be honest, this was the very first meal I did not enjoy. (well, except for the aforementioned biscuits & sausage gravy) The waiters seemed overwhelmed on the YTD side, but still tried to be attentive.
I walked about the ship last night, and ventured into a few of the bars to experience the different surroundings. There is definitely something for everyone. Still, many kids out & about spending last minute moments with newly made friends. Not as much elevator tag going on, but the few who indulged made it difficult as only the starboard side elevator was working. One thing that DID bather me was the group of teens and tweens sitting at bars. While it is true that this is the place to get sodas on your card, I really do think the bartenders should have been a little more assertive on asking them to leave the bar area once served.I do not blame the kiddos for this, but Carnival staff for allowing it to happen.
A few last minute purchases were made, and I returned to my room & ordered a ceasar salad with grilled salmon. Great choice! Watched a little tv & off to sleep.
Woke early this morning and headed for the MDR. Breakfast was wonderful and served quickly. Up to the Lido to wait for zone callouts.
Debarkation was smooth UNTIL reaching baggage claim. Then it became an absolute nightmare to get bags. My zone was 3, which meant I had to walk half the terminal to claim them, and them back to the other end to get in line. Back in line for Customs. This is the part where the worst lines are. porters jockeying for position in lines where the U-turn is made just before the actual Customs Desk. The line for passengers with passports did move more quickly, but it was still quite long & slow. I just wonder how Galveston is going to manage with a ship the size of Magic coming. Finally, after almost an hour, I was out the door to my car, and on my way home.
All in all, except for the few 'bumps', it was a good cruise. I have seen posters & reviews comment on the demographics of the cruisers on the Ecstasy. I do have to say that it is a very diverse and colorful mix of passengers. I will say that I cannot wait to get back on in February
Day 1 SAIL AWAY
We arrived at Port Everglades around 11 am. This was the first time we ever drove into Port Everglades so we were a little lost but was pleasantly surprised when we found the berth for our ship so easily, dropped off luggage and went and parked in the parking garage. Embarkation was fairly smooth and once we had our Sail and Sign cards in hand was able to go right aboard the ship.
Our state room couldn't be accessed until 1:30 pm so we went up to the Lido deck after exploring just a little. My first impression of the ships décor was WOW! I love just about everything décor wise about this ship. So we got to the Lido deck and found a seat, Pearl sat while I went and rounded us up a couple DoD's (drink of the day). The sides are enclosed but have windows that can be opened and a nice breeze was blowing. We went ahead and checked out the Buffet, called Horatio's restaurant, and was really surprised at how nice of a buffet it was, best ever seen at sea!
1:30 pmfinally came around and we was able to go to our stateroom. Our stateroom was nice, it has a couch that made up into a bed. We were surprised at how small our balcony since it was an aft balcony. (Compared to Carnival Triumph aft balcony.) But over all was well pleased. Pearl and I starched out and took a little nap. And by the time we got up 2 of the 3 suitcases had arrived. So we unpack them and headed out to do some more exploring.
We were really impressed and the imagination that went into the many bars and venues that are on the ship. The Mad Hatter uses Alice in Wonderland as a theme. While Dr. Frankenstein Lab uses Frankenstein as the main theme. The seating in Frankenstein's Lab are red cushions that looked like bananas. There is a 15 foot Frankenstein statue on the dance floor. There is the Phantom Theater where the shows are held. These are just a few. We'll mention more as we visit them.
We arrived back at our room and there was our last suitcase. The tag had been torn off and temp had been attached. So Pearl was able to dress for supper and retrieve her sea sick pills. The main dining room is called Bacchus Restaurant. Our table was #130 and we were served by the "I" team. Real names are to come later. Pearl had beef barley soup while I had the fruit medley and cold tomato soup that was divine. And for the main course Pearl had "Spinach Lasagna" which had a good flavor to it but her body said "aint no way that's going into me". And I had grilled Tipilia (fish), mac and cheese. For dessert Pearl had strawberry ice cream. And Tim had vanilla cream brelle and warm chocolate melting cake.
After a very pleasant dinner we went to our room and finish unpacking. Then off to the Hot Tub in the adult only area. The hot tub water wasn't as hot as we normally see but we nice especially considering that Pearl and I had it all to ourselves. Then add a nice cool breeze and I said to myself "it don't get no better than this". After spending a couple hours and the hot tub we decided to retried early for the evening. What happened next is only for the informed to know. We had a nice day and are anxious to see that tomorrow may bring.
DAY 2 SEA DAY
Have you ever had that feeling that this day wasn't going to go smoothly? That if it was going to go wrong you couldn't stop it. That's how this day started. We woke up to a beautiful sunrise, nice weather for a sea day and NO ROOM SERVICE. We had ordered breakfast in our room. And it never showed up. When we asked where it was at they said that they delivered it on time. If that is the truth then are hearing must be going bad cause we didn't hear anything.
So we went to the dining room to eat breakfast. We were seated with 2 other couples. We did have a good conversation during our meal. The one thing we learned at this meal was Salmon was very popular breakfast food. Even with that knowledge I passed on it.
After breakfast I went to the Spa for a beginners Yoga class. There were 5 people in the class. Most of them could stretch in ways she never thought one could possibly do. She learned really fast that it was not something that she could do or wanted to do. The arthritis in her lower back started to hurt. But then again, if all the instructors looked that that one, lots of muscles (extremely HOT), with a neat loveable accent, I might just be able to do it again.
As the day went on were found that the pool side music wasn't that good. The activities pool side were limited due the space around the pools. And unless you like BINGO or the Casino, there wasn't much that interested us. Now let me tell you about Mr. Lucky's Casino. That place looks really neat. There is plenty of space between groups of tables or slot machines. While Pearl was doing the yoga class, Tim hit the casino and may I add he did good. Went in with $40 and walked out with $120.
Winning money is a hard laborious job, it took so much out of Tim, he had to go take an afternoon nap. Because he wanted to be in tip-top shape when the evening elegant party started.
Before dinner we went and had several pictures taken. I hope they turn out good. Our fine meal consisted of, Tim had spaghetti, stuffed mushrooms, 2 lobster tails and shrimp, and cherry jubilee I had minestrone soup, and chili retellio, along with cherry jubilee. Then our waiters , Indrawan and Igede, showed up with a small piece of cake and sang Happy Birthday to Shue to me. It was a lovely piece of Banana cake with creamy icing and a piece of banana and red raspberry on the top. YUMMMMMMMMMMY.
Then the singing waiters came out of hiding and took the guest for a spine around the room while the Mat'rde sang an Italian song. That got our blood pumping. We love the different ways they entertain us in the dining hall.
Then it was off to the show at 8:45 pm. We got there in time that we got a front row seat. The show was called "Generation". They sang songs from the 50's through the 80's. The dancing was okay, the band did a good job with the music. Even the person singing the Elvis songs did a good job of copying Elvis's style. But the show didn't impress us at all.
The day is done and so are we, so off to the cabin to see if we can make out what kind of towel critter is in wait for us to return.
DAY 3 GRAND TURK
I'm telling you someone or something is making it hard for us to enjoy this cruise. We wised up and didn't order room service for breakfast. Instead we went to the Lido deck and ate at the buffet. We were pleasantly surprised that is was not crowded, the lines were short and we were done eating in 30 minutes. I had a really good Omelet, potatoes and biscuit and gravy while Pearl had French toast, ham and sausage. We watched another cruise ship back up beside our ship. Then we were off to our rooms for one last potty run before we went on our shore tour. It was a good thing we did because waiting in our room was a message that the tour had been canceled because the winds were too strong. It was a disappointment because we really wanted to go on the "Catamaran Sail away" but we understand that it is hard to sail a sailboat when the winds are strong. Trust us the winds did have a good gust to them at times.
So we pulled up our little kids panties and went ashore to lay on the beach at Margarettaville. We ordered 2 drinks, they were about the size of a 10 oz cup with a piece of orange and one cherry under the umbrella. When we seen the bill.we wanted to send them back. They were not worth $20.41 that they charge for them. I was the only one that went into the ocean to swim and I was not impressed with the beach at all. The sandy area was small and after going into the water a few feet it dropped quickly onto big rocks that were hard to walk on. There was plenty of palm tree's on the beach and we found a nice shady spot to relax for a while then headed over to do some shopping. The prices were kinda expensive so we gathered ourselves up and headed back to the ship around 11:30 am.
We went to our room after getting back on the ship and dropped our things off and changed clothes before heading up to the Buffet for lunch. Pearl and I had Asian food, lots of veggies and meat..Yum. From the buffet we split up and I headed for my 1 hr full body deep tissue massage while Pearl came down to work on the blog and read. We met at the room later to head to supper in the main dining room. Pearl had the a beef vegy soup and a NY strip steak while I had Lasagna and a ceaser salad for starters and a wonderful NY strip steak for the main course. Let me just say that it was the best steak I've ever had on a cruise ship, supper clubs not withstanding. Then Pearl surprised me, I had to pick my jaw up off the floor, she actually ordered a warm chocolate melting cake just like I did, what is the world coming to????
After supper we stopped by the casino for a while then hit the comedy club and saw Phat Kat perform, he wasn't too bad but same stuff as when we saw him on the Triumph, then headed up to the Hot Tub for about an hour and a half. That concluded another wonderful day on the Carnival Miracle, what will be in store tomorrow? We shall see!
DAY 4 CASA DE CAMPO, LA ROMANA DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
We were up at the crack of dawn just waiting for the next shoe to drop. Would we get good room service or not? So to solve that problem we hit the Lido deck for breakfast, where we had the breakfast of champions, bacon, eggs and hash browns. After a hardy breakfast we went to the top deck to get some pictures as we were just docking in Dominican Republic.
The locals sure looked glad to see us as there were several of them dancing on the pier and a boat load of locals cruising by the ship and posing for pictures. My first impression that I had from my view on the ship was, after looking at the smoke billowing out of a factory, I bet they don't have the EPA regulations here that we do in the States. Actually I was to find out later that this was a pretty good assumption because the Dominican Republic is basically the United States forty years behind us, expect they speak Spanish.
We began our shore excursion for the day with a short walk to the bus that was to take us to Santa Domingo, the capital of The Dominican Republic, for a walking tour and lunch. The trip to Santa Domingo was pretty uneventful, we did notice the houses and buildings that we saw were either made from concrete blocks or concrete itself. There was a lot of run down homes and lots of trash lying around which seems typical for these third world countries. The Dominican Republic differs from most third world countries, in my opinion, because of the road ways. The road ways are fairly modern four land highways with exit ramps and entrance ramps like you would see on our interstates. They drive English Style, (on the right side of the road) and have modernized traffic control devices and the like. There driving habits and manors are worse than in the states. I hope the states never get that bad.
The walking tour did not impress us much. We visited a local market where we were able to buy some cigars and our short glass for this country. Then we walked over to the Catholic Cathedral for a tour. We did not like this; we believe that a church is the house of God and should not be used as a tourist attraction, even if it is the very first cathedral in the western hemisphere. From there we went to a Jesuit church which was more like a cemetery because it held the remains of all the former presidents. The Dominican Republic keeps an Honor Guard there to honor their fallen presidents, (That's a lot cheaper than building Presidential Libraries in this country) Finally it was lunch time and we headed off to a little restaurant where we were packed like sardines at the tables they had assigned to us. It was a small buffet boosting classic Dominican food. What many of the dishes were I could not tell you, but the food wasn't very good. Then we boarded the bus for the trip back to the ship. We stopped at the Christopher Columbus lighthouse for a quick picture shoot before continuing our trip back to the ship. The lighthouse was unlike any we have ever seen, it is a huge building made in the shape of a cross and the remains of Christopher Columbus are supposedly buried there. I saw supposedly because there are at least three countries who say that the remains of Christopher Columbus are buried there! At night, when the lighthouse lights are turned on, the whole city of Santa Domingo and way out to sea can see a huge cross in the sky from the lighthouse. The rest of the trip back went smoothly. All in all the trip was pretty boring and we would not suggest this excursion to anyone. As a side note, the venders were not pushy but were constantly there trying to make a buck!
We went to our stateroom and rested for a bit then I went down to the sports bar to smoke a cigar while Pearl relaxed in the cabin and read. We met back up at supper where Pearl had chicken noodle soup and Veal parmesan and I had cream of mushroom soup, a shrimp cocktail and the Filet Mignon with a side of rib for supper, yum! Desert was simply Vanilla ice cream for Pearl and Pumpkin pie with vanilla ice cream for me. Supper was over, the waiters doing a nice song and dance, finally new material from other cruises, and we were off to the casino. Pearls luck wasn't happening but mine was pretty good as I came out about $100.00 ahead. After a drink or two we then got our bathing suites on and headed to the Hot Tub for a hour or so and then to bed. Tomorrow is Aruba but we get into port at noon so we get to sleep in.Yeah!
DAY 5 ARUBA
We was able to sleep in this morning because we weren't scheduled to arrive in Aruba till noon and then depart till 9:30 pm, so plenty of time to enjoy the morning and enjoy the day! We ate breakfast in the Bachuss dining room, I had eggs Benedict and a ham and cheese omelet while Pearl enjoyed a bowl of cereal and a Danish. Bachuss, for which the dining room received it's name, is God of the grapes according to Greek lore. The whole dining room has grapes dangling from the ceiling and wine glasses as pillars for support.
After the ship docked we disembarked and caught a cab to our BlueGreen resort that we have in Aruba. The taxi driver was very nice and dropped us off right across the street from the resort. We arrived at the resort and told Jeane, an employ of the resort, we were BlueGreen owners and wanted to visit for the day and see the resort. Jeane took us to the offices and one of the office girls gave us the grand tour. LaCabana resort is a beautiful resort! The rooms are very nice and the swimming pool and bar area is great. If we wanted to we could of walked across the street to Eagle beach and spent the day there too. We caught a bus and returned to the ship around 5 pm and rested for a bit before going to the Lido buffet for supper. Pearl and I both had Asian food for a very nice supper. After supper we came back to the room and took a little nap before heading to the Casino for a while and then the Hot Tub. We had been blessed with a really nice day and turned in early because Curacao came early tomorrow.
DAY 6 CURACAO
We tried room service again this morning and was pleased that it was only 5 minutes after it was supposed to arrive at the latest. We both ate a bowl of cereal and a Danish and fruit and coffee. We docked right on time and after letting the initial line of folks off the ship we walked off to find a cab to see the sights.
We ended up sharing a cab with 2 other couples. The driver about sweated us to death before he realized he didn't have the A/C on. We stopped at a alcohol factory for a short visit, the rum tasted like cough syrup, and headed on up the road. We saw the nicer areas as well as the not so nice areas, we visited down town and ended up being dropped off by the floating bridge.
The floating bridge is a bridge that spans the river inlet where the ships come in. When a ship needs in or out a motor on one end of the bridge moves one end of the bridge to open up the passage. While touring down town there was a fresh fish market where Venezuelans come to sell their fresh caught fish. The boats are pulled right up to the docks, covered with a tarp and sold right from the ship. Venezuelans come to Curacao because they can get much better prices for their fish rather then in Venezuela. Pearl and I bought a couple of shirts and a hat and went on back to the ship.
We arrived back to the room and Pearl came down with a real bad headache. We went to diner in the main dining room but Pearl ended up going back to the room, her head was just hurting too bad. I went ahead and enjoyed a meal of Pork tenderloin with a really nice sauce, potatoes and had French Onion soup for a started and a rum flavored cake with dates and figs for desert.
With Pearl's head hurting I returned to the room after supper to spend some time with her. We purchased a movie, the Expendables, which turned out to be pretty good, and then went to the Casino for a while. I returned to the room to find Pearl had ate a little something and seemed to be feeling better. So ended another day in Paradise.
DAY 7 SEA DAY
Good morning world! Pearl is feeling better, hurray!!! Sadly, after going to the Lido deck for a wonderful everything omelet and fruit breakfast, Pearl had her same old boring cereal again, with fruit of course, ha! I started getting an upset stomach an hour or so after breakfast and it lasted almost all day. We checked out the shops after breakfast to see if there was any souvenirs we wanted to buy. Most cruises we have been on have their best prices the last day of the cruise so we didn't buy anything at this time but did scope out our model of the ship we always buy during our cruises and a neat stuffed Pirate teddy bear. We hit the casino and after a slow start we ended up not doing too bad playing the slots. Time to drop Pearl off for her birthday present! Pearls birthday present was a day at the spa! Pearl enjoyed a manicure, pedicure, hair wash and style for almost 3 hours of restful delight. I had went back to the cabin to try to sleep as my stomach was really bothering me. When Pearl arrived back at the room I thought I had died and an angel had come to take me to heaven. Pearls hair was really nice and her nails looked good too.
Tonight was the last elegant night for the cruise so we dressed up for the evening and went to supper to enjoy a fine dinner. Pearl ate the eggplant and mozzarella for a starter while I had a fruit dish and a Broccoli and cheese soup. Pearl had a very dry Chateaubriand while I had a chicken dinner which was really good. My stomach wasn't any worse for wear so we hit the mad hatter lounge to catch the pg rated comedy show. The comedian Jason Blancard was very funny, we also caught his r rated show later on which was excellent. The show in the theatre was "Ticket to Ride" a play on the music of the Beatles and I must say it was really good. After the show it was back to the comedy club to see Jason's R rated show and another comedian Wil Marfori and his R rated show, both were very good.
It was late, we hit the Lido for a late snack then it was off to bed.night all!
DAY 8 SEA DAY
We woke up this morning, excited because we would be 2 of 17 people who would get a behind the scenes tour of the ship today. How did we get so lucky you may ask? My wife actually read the excursion pamphlet that came with our first day Fun Times newsletter. It told us about the $95.00 per person excursion so we booked it as soon as possible. This is something we have wanted to do for a very long time so after waking we showered, dressed and headed to the Lido for breakfast. I had an omelet, home fries and fruit while Pearl had cereal, sausage and fruit.
The tour was to meet at the Joker card room so we made sure we arrived with plenty of time to spare. A pretty Russian girl named Yulia was to be our host and tour guide. We started out by heading to the Phantom Theatre and went behind the scenes where one of the Stage Producers met us to explain how things worked and answer questions. There had to be at least 10 screens that can drop from the ceiling to make for different backgrounds, depending on the show, and each one weighs about 1000 lbs. Back stage the dressing room is wide open spaces! No private dressing rooms here, shoot there isn't even a divider from the boys and girls! The costumes and wigs of each dancer was hanging right behind where their chair was sitting at a long mirror attached to the wall. A total change for a guy from one suite to another is 22 seconds.
We left by a back entrance and entered a hall that neither Pearl nor I had been on during this whole cruise, even though it is for guests. It was on the 3rd floor all the way at the front of the ship. We then went to the Galley to see where the food is prepared at. The big soup containers looked like a pot that you would see over a huge campfire in the middle of the jungle with a witch doctor brewing his poison. Then we watched a cook take a bar of soap and turn it into a beautiful swan. Which we got to take home with us. The cook staff was busy preparing the evening meal even thought it was only around 10 AM. They were making soups, deserts, breads, and potatoes. We were able to get our picture taken with the head chef before moving on to see the refrigeration and freezer units.
We visited the freezer and refrigeration areas and I must say while they are non-descript, they are huge and must be because they keep enough food not only for the 8 day cruise but also for 4 extra days in case something was to happen.
Next we visited the eco friendly trash disposal system. This room is manned 24 hours a day and is where all recyclables are separated and put into the proper bins. Where they will be off loaded after the cruise and properly disposed. Even the leftover food is ground up and deposited into the ocean for fish food.
And of course no ship would be complete without a laundry room, which is open 24 hours a day. There are 4 big washing machines that hold 100 pounds of laundry each. Several huge dryers and machines that actually dry and fold the bed sheet and towels. We found out that the bedding is changed before each cruise leaves out and once during the cruise unless more is needed. Believe it or notbut it takes 4 people, 3 weeks to count every piece of bedding and towels on the ship. This room is below the water line.
We even got to visit the area where the crew lives and eats. They have 3 different dining areas, one for the Officers, one for the entertainers and one for the crew. The servers are in training down here before they are allowed to serve in the main dining room to customers. They even have a bar and gaming area. The sad news is if a crew member drinks too much alcohol and blows a .08 breathalyzer test, they are fired and will not be rehired for any reason. No exceptions. (Even the captain is limited to 4 oz of wine per day)
We were disappointed because we didn't get to see the engines themselves however we did get to go to the engine room where all the control panels were located. (go figure) There were lots of computers, gauges and stuff. Even had a couple fish tanks in there. We found out that they never change their oil unless a bad report comes back after an oil analysis report. The Chef engineer, Rosario Capilli, can also completely control the ship operations from this room. In case of an emergency he can also assume duties as captain of the ship.
Speaking of the Captain, we visited the bridge next. They put us in an elevator and took us to the 8th floor. To our surprise, there were cabins right next to the bridge. After going through our second security inspection, we were allowed to enter the bridge. The captain of the ship, Rocco Lubrano, was able to greet us and answer questions that we had for him. He also was kind enough to take a photo with each of us and a group photo before he had to leave as it was almost noon, time for his midday address to the ship. We did get to ask questions of the other officers on the bridge who explained to us that there are 3 different stations whereby the ship maybe guided and controlled on the bridge. To the port, starboard and mid ship. Communication are conducted via satphone, marine radio, and GPS systems. The view from the bridge is incredible, we even saw some dolphins while up there. The amazing thing about ships now-a-days is that they can turn 360 degrees without the help of other boats.
Now on to our last stop at Nick and Nora's Steakhouse. We got to meet the head chef and he gave us a demonstration about how to tell if a steak is a good one. The problem was this guy didn't know how to explain it very good. Our tour ended here and we were given a bag with a hat in it, a bracelet, an ID holder, and that beautiful swan made from a bar of soap. We were to discover later that this was not all the gifts that we were to receive. That night at diner Yulia brought us several photos from the tour and then when we returned to our cabin later in that evening, we received a plate of chocolate cover strawberries and peanut brittle.
We really enjoyed that tour and felt it was well worth the money that we spent.
Its lunch time so we made our way to the main dining room for lunch, which is something that we have never done on a cruise. It escapes me now what we had to eat but the experience what I wanted to remember. After lunch we went back to our room and rested awhile until it was time to pack our clothes and get ready for dinner.
Dinner for this night was prime rib, which they had earlier in the week but Indrawan, our waiter, had told me we would have again. I also had shrimp and salad for an appetizer and for dessert warm chocolate melting cake. While Pearl had Chicken pasta dish with soup as an appetizer and ice cream for dessert. We cried as the waiters sang their good-bye song to us cruisers. I have to admit that the "I" team was the second best set of servers that we have had since we started cruising.
For our final night we decided to finally stay up long enough to go to the Piano Bar. The entertainer had a sore throat that he was fighting and we didn't get to hear much singing before we left. The sad part is that he played the guitar not the piano. I almost felt like he was making fun of us for coming to the piano bar for the first time on the last night of the cruise. I didn't appreciate it. From there it was back to our room for the evening.
DAY 9 SADDEST DAY OF THE CRUISE
Our luggage was gone and if we wanted any clothes to wear we had to leave the ship. : ( We had breakfast on Lido deck one more time..then we waited for our magical number to be called. They started with number one and ours was 21. They made the first announcement around 8:30 am. So you can guess how long it took us to be called. Well, it was 10 am when they called our number and off the ship we went. Like cattle going to the slaughter house, we were herded through the line for one last punch of our Sail N Sign cards at the Ding Ding machine. Then it was the dreaded search for our luggage. Think about this there was 2,200 people onboard with 2 suite cases each, which comes to about 4,400 suite cases that everyone was looking for theirs. WOW!!!!! After finding our luggage we headed for Customs. You know that horrible line where the person at the end asks you questions and you feel like they want to know how much money you have left over so they can charge you that amount for duty taxes. Well, our man was good to us. He let us go with no additional taxes. We must have looked like we didn't have any money.
Now we were off to find our truck in the parking garage. After our long walk lugging our suite cases, fighting everyone else and making it up to the third floor..we finally found our haven of rest, which was our pick up truck. Got to admit that leaving the parking garage 45 minutes after our number was called wasn't to bad. Especially since I was sitting in the passenger seat and Pearl was fighting the traffic once again.
Precruise Rosen Inn at Pointe Orlando 9000 International Drive Orlando Florida, 32819
This hotel is located convient to many Orlando attractions. Right across the street from Wonderworks and easy walking distance to shopping and restaurants. The hotel has a small convenience store with sandwiches and other easy items for lunches. Right outside there is a nice patio area that is covered for shade and protection from rain. There is also a lounge and a nice restaurant within the hotel. There is a pool also for those that wanted to swim. The day we were there it was too chilly.
The room we had was non smoking and had 2 double beds. There was also a coffee maker and the usual assortment of sugar and powdered creamers. There is small refrigerator and a microwave in the room.
The room was very clean and for me that is the main thing I look for. I booked the room through Hotels.com for $39.99 In all the room was a great value and I will consider it in the future.
Parking Parking at Port Canaveral was easy and convenient to the ships. You just pull into theluggage unloading aea and leave your luggage with the porters. Then you drive around and take a parking space. It is an easy walk to the ship. In our case we had a wheel chair to deliver so when we dropped off the luggage we also got out of the van there and the van driver left us to go back to Lakeland. I had already parked my car and boarded the van to show the driver where to drop the luggage. We loaded our luggage on to the van and took it all at once to be dropped off.
Embarkation Very orderly and organised. We were in an area for wheelchair access to board as we had one person in a wheelchair. Boarding was announced around 10:30. Early!! The VIP section was called to board first and they all went ahead on to the ship. Then we were called and we went through a door to the elevators that took us up to the entrance. We had our security pictures taken and were free to go on our away. In all we were aboard before 11:00. Again, as I punched my card in at security a voice announced that I have a message at the Customer Service desk. I went and was asked if there was anything I would need for my c-pap. They also inquired if I would need refrigeration for insulin as I am diabetic. I reponded that I was not on insulin and thanked them for their care.
Carnival Sensation The ship is older, one of Carnival's Fantasy Class of ships. The decor is reflective of Joe Farcus early designs for Carnival. Very bright and some would say gaudy. I have not seen gaudy in any of the ships designs. A bit loud but always fun and in keeping with this lines themes. Mainly it was purple but it was tempered with other colors. I found it to be oddly pretty.
Food WOW is all I can say. In every venue this ship was outstanding. My recent trip on the Liberty found the buffet areas a bit lacking. This was absolutely not the case on Sensation. Being an older ship she does not offer all of the venues that the newer, larger ships offer. I tried the pizza, deli and the main buffet on a daily basis. All very good.
The Ecstasy dining room was nice and the food was outstanding. I was a bit disappointed in the service in this area. Several times we wanted more rolls or refills on water and the wait person was not available. The staff seemed to be around to take the orders and then disappear until the meals arrived. After serving then the staff disappeared again until it was time to serve dessert and coffee.
We went to the Fantasy dining room several times for lunch or breakfast. The service in this room seemed to be a lot better.
Service As I said before service could be better in the Ecstasy dining room. The Fantasy dining room was better. Cabin Steward was outstanding. Our room was always nice when we arrived ack from our activities. The ship was clean and kept very nice as always seems to be the case on Carnival ships.
Entertainment I went to the show the first night and it was standard welcome aboard entertainment. The CD was Chris, I did not get his last name. He was funny and entertaining. The old spoon game was played with 8 people from the audience. I regret that I did not go to the production show. I did not attend the deck party but from my companions I hear it was fun.
Freeport My friend Teddy and I went on the Dolphin Encounter tour. It was fun and we got in the water with the dolphin and posed while our pictures were taken as Andros "kissed" us on the cheek. We were taken by bus to where we were put on a boat out to where the dolphins are. I suggest that if you are not already in your bathing suit to change here. The facilitie here are clean and spacious. Once out to the Dolphin area the facilities are not so comfortable. When we got back I changed to dry clothes. The pictures that were taken while we were in the water were displayed here for sale. There was a bar and a nice outdoor area with pleasant seating. There was a menu available also. All in all it was a nice tour.
Nassau We did the Jeep tour on Nassau. We were told that tour would meet us on the pier by the ship. We got off the ship and no one was there so we walked across to the island. Finding no one there to meet us we went back across to the ship. The tour arrived but then found that we had to walk to where the jeeps were kept. This was nearly a mile away. I do not recommend this tour to anyone with walking issues. There were only 4 of us on this tour and I was surprised that it was not cancelled. Since we were just four they gave us 2 jeeps. We had a guide to drive in each jeep. usually there are four peope in a jeep and it is a drive ourself tour. We felt special to have our own chauffers. The tour was long and fun. I saw a lot of Nassau and really think this island is a great stop. There is a lot more to this island than the standard tourist area.
I liked the fact that the ship was overnight in Nassau. It gave some a chance at more outings than just the daytime tours around the island. A lot of passengers went to Atlantis for evening activities. We were asked to be aboard by 4:30 AM for departure at 7:00 AM. Everyone must have been aboard early as we left at 5:30AM well ahead of the published hour. I was up in the Seaview Bistro having coffee and was surprised that we were moving out.
The rest of the cruise was a sea day sailing back to Port Canaveral. The standard shipboard activities. I never did find the Serenity Area. I did find navigation around this ship to be confusing and difficult.
Disembarkation The usual confusion arond what to do and where to go was the scene as we readied for disembarkation. Those that chose to carry their own luggage were called and took themselves off the ship. Personally I like to leave the luggage handling to the crew. We went up to the promenade and sat comfortably and waited. We were off the ship by 8:30 AM and on our way to Lakeland by 9:00. I was in my home by 10:30AM
This cruise was a fun getaway and I would reccomend it for those that like shorter cruises.
This was my 2nd cruise on Carnival and 12th cruise overall. This cruise was an 8-day Mexico Riviera cruise round trip out of San Diego, CA. I cruised solo on this cruise, as part of a travel agent FAM trip.
I flew into San Diego the morning of the cruise. I normally fly in to the departure city the day before, but since I was solo and the weather not usually an issue at this time of the year, I chanced it and just flew in on departure day. No problems as I arrived at around 10:30 am and took a very short taxi ride to the pier. Getting onto the ship was a bit of an adventure. Because my taxi dropped me off outside the pier, I had a 15 minute wait in line to show my ID and Carnival boarding pass just to get on the pier. After getting through the initial security, I had to wait in line again to drop off my bags to a luggage porter. I then had to wait in line again and show my ID and Carnival boarding pass just to getinto the building to check-in. After this security line, as soon as I got into the building, there was a holding area and another line AGAIN for an ID and boarding pass check just to get access to the metal detectors and security which was yet another line! I have now passed through 5 lines, including 3 to check my ID and boarding pass. I have now stood in line for over an hour and I haven’t even made it to the check-in line yet! After my check-in, I had to wait for my “boarding zone” to be called. It turned out to be 6 lines, 2 holding areas and an hour and a half from when I arrived at the pier at about 11 am to my stepping onto the ship.
The Carnival Spirit was launched in 2001. The Spirit is a very nice and elegant ship. She’s kind of a dark ship with mostly dark brown and wood paneling like walls with not a lot of interior lighting. The main decks are #2, #3 and #9, they run the length of the ship and most every public area you will want are on these 3 decks. The main dining room is in the aft portion of decks 2 & 3, so unlike some other Carnival ships where the main dining room is in the middle of the ship, you can move easily around the ship without needing to go up or down decks to get from one end to the other. There are 3 major pools with hot tubs nearby on deck 9. A nice sports area complete with jogging track, mini-golf course, and an enclosed basketball court. The crew is very good at cleaning and maintaining the ship. Everything was kept clean and well maintained on the ship.
I had a roomy ocean view stateroom on deck 1. My cabin had a nice picture window, a comfy queen sized bed, and adequate closet space. The bathroom was a typical shower only with a shower curtain, not doors.
The staff was the highlight of the cruise with their service. Our room steward and wait staff were great, and all the crew and staff did a good job. I was very pleased with the staff onboard.
While I enjoyed the food, the one complaint I have is way too much sea food on the menu, and very little basic meat and potatoes or simple pasta dishes. I used the lido buffet for breakfast and lunch, and enjoyed the service and food.
This was a not a port intensive cruise. This was an 8 day cruise with only 3 ports. All 3 ports are being dropped from future Carnival itineraries for the time being. The 1st stop was Acapulco, Mexico. I took a short, half-day tour called “City Tour”. I got to see the famous cliff divers, then we were shown around the city with stops for shopping and picture taking. The 2nd stop was in Zihuatanejo/Ixtapa. Here I had secured a day pass for the Club Med in Ixtapa and spent the day enjoying the pool, drink and food of the resort. The last stop was in Manzanillo, Mexico. I exited the ship and just walked around the shopping district for an hour or so. All 3 ports have rated so low by past Carnival passengers, that Carnival is dropping all 3 in favor of future stops in Cabo, La Paz, and Puerto Vallarta.
I absolutely loved the entertainment venues on the ship. I only took in 1 production show, and enjoyed it very much. However, the best was the Punchliner Comedy Club. Carnival has a dedicated comedy club and changed out the comedians during the port stops to keep the shows fresh. The other entertainment venues were also very good, but I spent a vast majority of my entertainment time in the comedy club.
I decided to use the self-disembarkation for this cruise since I only had 1 piece of luggage and I had an early flight out of San Diego. It was very easy; I ate breakfast in the lido buffet, and then left the cabin at 8:30 am with my luggage. We were delayed in being allowed to disembark due to some non-US passengers that failed to report to the main theater with their passports to clear immigration. US passengers were cleared quickly electronically, so we did not have to stand in any lines and go through immigration. After about a 45 minute delay, the final non-US passenger was cleared and we were finally allowed to disembark. I walked off the ship and after turning in my US Customs form to the US Customs inspector, I grabbed a taxi at the pier and went to the airport for the flight home.
I would rate this cruise a 7.5 out of 10. I really enjoyed the ship, the entertainment, the food and staff was great, however the 3 ports-of-call were not that great and I can see why Carnival is dropping them. My only other complaint is the fact that Carnival fails to enforce the dress code onboard. I saw passengers come into the dining room wearing sleeveless tank top t-shirts, cut off shorts, baseball caps and so on. I even saw one man come in the dining room wearing a bathrobe with no shirt and just shorts underneath one day at lunch! In the buffet, I saw numerous people just wearing swim suits. Many times I saw men walking around with no shirt on inside the ship, I mean really, inside the promenade, the lounges and casino, put a shirt on! I was really disappointed. I thought the Carnival Spirit was a beautiful ship with a fantastic crew and staff, but it really cries out for a better clientele in my opinion. That reason alone will probably mean this was my last cruise on Carnival, which is sad because I really loved the ship.
I have tried to get with Carnival Cruise line with no success. Every time I call, your staff just sends me on to someone else until someone on your staff hangs up on me. I would like someone from Carnival to cominsate me for not getting what I paid for before I have to deny the charges with my credit card company.
Let's start with I boarded in the Grand Cayman's because Delta Smiles Air did not get me to Tampa in time. Delay after Delay. I boarded and had to wait for some one to come get me. At the front desk I was handed my room key and was pointed in the direction of the room. Legend # 7260. I was not offered any help just a point ( 5 floors up ). I then looked at my reservation for dinner that I made and was confirmed for 6:00 PM. Carnival had on my card 8:45 PM. I told them this was a mistake and was told " No I was given a request and it was not granted " I had to go back tomy room and get my confirmation in writing and give them a copy. " My first excursion was canceled and I watched as several went off. I almost missed my second excursion because no one took my photo when I arrived and never told me they were to do so. Again I was pointed in the direction of the photo station, this time into a dead end.
The room rattled and squeaked and every time I called the front desk I was given no help and The front desk made it sound like it was my own fault and the fault of other guest. Next to the room was the staff service room and some would congregate and hide there. When the staff moved the service carts they would park them in front of my room and bang them into the wall outside. One day I was walking out to the balcony and just as I stepped out a staff member starting spraying the balcony and me. I ordered room service one morning and never got it. I was sent through Customs twice by Carnival, When it came time to get off I was told to do so after Customs cleared me but Carnival would not let me off. After about an hour some lady with Carnival said " everyone off and go for it ".
It was a mad house of and people were pushing and running. don't go to the Buffet after 7:30 AM and don't plan on eating something when you get back from land. The buffet shuts down most of the food and what is left is not eatable and the lines are around the boat. I had to tell the FD Manager to mark my room as " stay away " I told him I did not want any staff walking through my room, I did not want to see him or anyone associated with the boat again. I was not ever able to get any sleep from all the interruptions for the boat and it's staff. I do say the Restaurant manager Ken was the best of the staff. Every time he say me he knew my name. I will never step foot on a Carnival Cruise again and using the Delta Skymiles Cruise Department again " NEVER ". Every time I called the Cruise Department and Carnival Cruise I was given a recording, put on hold or given the " We cant help you " Statement or " you are on your own " or " Cancel - we will still charge you ".
Call me and I will fill you out on the other problems I have with this bunch of ......
[phone number deleted for safety]
Crosby @ aCharlestonHome . com
My wife, Ginny, and I cruised on the Carnival Dream from Port Canaveral, Florida to the Eastern Caribbean ports of Nassau, St. Thomas and St. Maarten, embarking on Saturday, October 9th and disembarking on Saturday, October 16th. We live only 40 minutes from the port so we drive and park at the port terminal garage which costs $15 per day. We booked the Dream because it was Carnival’s newest and largest ship. We enjoy large ships
SUMMARY The Dream is a beautiful ship, filled with familiar Carnival venues and complemented by some new features. Previous Carnival guests will feel comfortable with the layout and be surprised by a couple of the additions. There were a lot of dining choices, good food and excellent service.
We did feel, however, that Carnival seemed to come up a little short in managing the larger numbers of people in its venues, especially the deck 10 buffet, called the Gathering. There were always delays, not necessarily long lines, but delays
The line also attracts families with children and could do a better job of controlling the noise and activities in the cabin hallways. Each evening there was celebrating,discussions and unsupervised children in the hallways long after bedtime.
EMBARKATION Guests were encouraged to check in as early as 10:30 AM. We received a telephone call confirming that fact. Boarding began at 11:15 AM. Rooms were available at 1:30 PM. The embarkation process was smooth. We arrived at the port at about !0: 45 AM, parked our car, checked through security, checked in, had our ID photos taken, and were on board shortly after 11:15 AM
OUR ARRANGEMENTS We booked cabin 7355 located near midship on deck 7, conveniently located near the action on both the upper deck restaurants and the decks 4 and 5 activities. We selected “Your Time Dining” with dinner assigned in the Crimson restaurant. We were pleased with both selections.
THE SHIP The Dream is Carnival’s largest ship. The design of the public rooms, including colors and use of lighting and glass, was excellent. The atrium area is especially colorful with a lot of photo possibilities. The Lanai, a promenade on deck 5, is a new feature. It includes several whirlpools, a deck circling the ship, outside dining tables and chairs and hundreds of deck chairs.
Dining and entertainment venues were centered on decks 3, 4 and 5 along with decks 10 and higher. We spent a lot of time on deck 5 during the day and there were plenty of options for things to do. We don’t use the pools but they were central features for many, many people. There were plenty of deck chairs scattered across decks 10 and higher.
DINING AND FOOD The Dream had numerous options for dining including the main Scarlet and Crimson restaurants. “Your time” dining was hosted in the Crimson restaurant and deck 4 while scheduled dining for the early and late seatings were in the two decks of the Scarlet and the lower deck of the Crimson restaurants.
We tried the buffet for breakfast, the pasta bar, the deli, the Mongolian Wok. The food was fine. We missed several options including a barbecue on sea days on the lanai.
Cruising provides excellent opportunities to sample excellent food. Our meals included cold fruit soups which are very tasty. They included strawberry bisque, bing cherry and peach. We tried very good entrees that included lobster tail and tiger shrimp, basa filets, petit filet of beef, pork loin and deserts like cherries jubilee. The pasta bar was nice. The Mongolian Wok was tasty but beware the hot sauce! The deli sandwiches were also good, prepared to each persons taste.
The buffet was a problem. It seemed like there were nearly always slow moving lines. The cause, we concluded, was the selection of foods available in each line and the order of their arrangement. Carnival needs to solve this problem. There was plenty of seating in the buffet area even on embarkation day.
SERVICE Service in all the areas was excellent. The staff were friendly and accommodating. It was highlighted by our lead waitress, Ulla from Latvia, and her assistants Janos and Gibson, in the Crimson dining room. They were well organized, efficient, and friendly, even on nights when they were extremely busy. Waiters and waitresses in each of the venues were very good as were the staff in the guest relations area. They were obviously well trained, experienced and well managed. Our cabin steward, Arnold, and his assistants were also very good.
THINGS A LITTLE DIFFERENT The cruise industry evolves to better serve so there are frequently “new” features on cruises. This was no different although we had experienced some on previous cruises. Facial recognition technology was employed to provide computer access to photos taken throughout the cruise. A master photo was taken at embarkation and matched to your sign and sail card. The system needs work. It was interesting, and humorous, to swipe your card at the computer station and see whose photos appeared. We never did find photos we wanted. Safety drills are now held, and have been held for months, without carrying life jackets to the muster stations. Nice. “Elegant Evening” has replaced formal night. Dress is far less formal with many less coats and ties appearing on “elegant evening” nights. This is probably great for families with children. Gratuity envelopes for wait and room steward staff were not distributed. Gratuities are automatically charged to your shipboard account and the envelope exercise has been eliminated, at least we never received any. Guest survey sheets never appeared and there were no announcements about them. That is a mistake. Carnival will receive neither compliments of its operation and staff nor suggestions. Electronic casino accounts are now mandatory although they are not totally new. Every player needs to establish a PIN, then use it to cash out when leaving a slot machine in the casino. We like the system but it was very confusing for many guests. For gamblers there are a lot of one and two penny slot machines and two electronic poker tables. Room TV channels included no sports or business channels. Sports channels were available on several large screens in the casino bar.
DISEMBARKATION Disembarkation at the end of the cruise was relatively smooth. Those picking up bags in the terminal did have to wait longer than expected, probably because they were allowed off the ship sooner than expected leaving the conveyer belts filled with bags of guests still on the ship. We were off the ship and home by 9:00 AM.
Disembarkation at the ports of call was efficiently handled with minimal lines.
CONCLUSION The Carnival Dream is a very nice ship and I highly recommend it for families, especially those with children. The venues, dining, food, entertainment options and relaxation options are very nice. The staff were very good. Ulla and her team were excellent!
The venues did not appear to be enlarged properly to accommodate the growth in guests. The “Gathering” buffet needs some attention to speed the flow of guests through the lines.
I'm a cruise enthusiast, to me, cruising the open sea on a luxury liner and visiting exotic ports of call is the ideal vacation. I cruise more than the average person; I try to set sail at least once or twice a year. I have been on over twenty cruises with six different Cruise Lines, so I'm fully aware of the standards of practice in the Cruise Industry and changes that have occurred over the past decade.
I'm also an Accredited Travel Agent and I spent several years as a Consumer & Travel Industry Sales Agent for The Walt Disney Company. I'm an extremely detail oriented young man, and I think outside the box. Needless to say, I can spot a burnt out light fixture or a Crew Member chewing gum from the corner of my eye a hundred feet away.
This was my fourth cruise with Carnival, which is about average based on my personal cruise experience. My first and second experiences with Carnival were excellent, John Heald, Carnival Cruise Director, made it a most memorable vacation. John has to be the best Cruise Director I have ever had the pleasureof sailing with, and his "Bedtime Stories" are most entertaining.
My third cruise with Carnival was going well until an incident with the Security Team ruined my vacation. I was traveling with a Thirty-Five Millimeter Camera and using eight hundred speed film, which should never be x-rayed. Even a low level security screening x-ray will ruin that type of film.
While re-boarding the ship at a Port of Call, I explained to a Security Crew Member that I was a Professional Freelance Photographer and that Eight Hundred Speed Film, or "Scientific Film" and it's sometimes referred to, should not be x-rayed. Needless to say I lost the argument and a Security Crew Member took my Camera Bag, which contained the camera and six rolls of used film, and ran it through the x-ray machine without my consent. It was at that point that I decided to never sail with Carnival ever again.
I normally cruise with a group of seven friends, this year we were shopping for a Cruise Vacation and narrowed it down to four choices that were literally the same exact price. Our Choices, listed in order of travel distance from home, were The Disney Magic, The Carnival Dream, The Celebrity Solstice, and the Norwegian Epic. We selected the Carnival Dream based on the distance from home to the ship, the fact that Freestyle Cruise Dining is a hassle for last minute cruisers, and that fifty percent of the Cruise Ship's population would not be screaming children.
Six years and nine cruises later, I decided to give Carnival another opportunity. My friends and I booked a last minute Vacation literally at the ninety-six hour cutoff time. We were to set sail on the Flagship of the world's largest Cruise Line, what could possibly go wrong?
We boarded the beautiful Carnival Dream in sunny Port Canaveral shortly after noon on October 9, 2010. Besides The Oasis of The Seas, The Carnival Dream is one of the most spectacular Cruise Ships I've seen. After being a sea for a few hours I noticed that the vessel was extremely stable in the water, I didn't feel Sea Sick at any time while onboard.
Our Verandah Stateroom on Deck Eight Forward was average in comparison to other Cruise Ships. I prefer to have a verandah door that slides open rather than having to open it outward and jam an object into the hinge to prop it open. Besides finding a Bobby Pin on the floor between the bed and the window, the Stateroom was immaculate.
The Stateroom Attendant was genuinely friendly and eager to please. He was always very polite and conducted his business in a stealth like manor. He rarely knocked on the door, he mysteriously knew when the room was vacant and cleaned it to perfection when we least expected it.
I was however disappointed with the quality of the Hand Soap, Body Wash, and Shampoo products that Carnival provides, not to mention the complete lack of a lotion product, especially on a sunny Cruise Ship traveling in a salty ocean where Guests may experience abnormally dry skin. I know that most Cruise Lines provide premium name brand products; luckily I remembered that Carnival provides substandard generic products, so I packed enough toiletries to sustain us for a week. Just a friendly suggestion that Body Wash and Shampoo products provided by a Cruise Line typically smell like something Marine Derived or Natural Botanicals, not lemon fresh.
I was also irritated to discover that we had some type of insect infestation on the first night that seemed to linger on for the duration of the cruise. Something was literally feasting on our flesh while we slept. I believe that the Stateroom may have had an infestation of Bed Bugs or something similar, the fact of the matter is that something with a healthy appetite was in the Stateroom eating us alive all week.
I contacted Guest Services and filed an inquiry about the bites that we were experiencing, I actually had to sit on hold for longer than five minutes before I was able to speak with a Guest Services Crew Member. They reported the issue to the Housekeeping Team who supposedly inspected the Stateroom and of course found no infestation of any type. The situation was never fully resolved and I'm angry that Carnival literally swept the issue under the bed.
I also want to make a comment about the dark Navy Blue towels that are issued to each person for fun in the sun use. The towels are so much softer and more absorbent that the previous version, however the color is an issue. These new dark Navy Blue towels absorb sunlight and tend to heat up, I felt like I was on fire while lying out in the sun on one of these super heat absorbent towels.
One of my favorite things to do on a cruise is eat. If it's not bolted down, I'm eating it. I may be a scrawny one hundred and forty five pound guy, but I can eat.
I was extremely dissatisfied with the Dining aboard The Carnival Dream. It probably had to be the worst part of the Cruise, and the worst service I've ever experienced on any Cruise Ship. Imagine the favorite part of your week long vacation becoming the worst aspect of the experience.
We spent our evenings dining in the Scarlet Restaurant. On the first night we sat at our assigned table promptly at 8:15pm. At 8:20pm, five minutes after arriving at the restaurant, we were kindly asked by the Maître d' to move to another table.
We decided to go ahead a make the move in order to facilitate the needs of the restaurant. We settled into a new table by 8:25pm, ten minutes after arriving at the restaurant, unfortunately we didn't meet either of the Servers until 8:35pm, twenty minutes after arriving at the restaurant. At 8:45pm, thirty minutes after arriving at the restaurant, we finally received the menus and glasses of "Ship Water," whatever that means.
At 9:00pm, forty five minutes after arriving at the restaurant, the Head Server took our order. In the interest of time, we only ordered appetizers and entrees, and skipped the soup and salad courses. At 9:15pm, one hour after arriving at the restaurant, we received the appetizers.
The Entrees didn't arrive until 9:45pm, one hour and thirty minutes after arriving at the restaurant. I explained to the Maître d' that this level of service and the complete lack of attention by the Head Server was not what we expected. The Maître d' apologized and graciously offered us a bottle of Carnival's Finest Free Champagne to make up for the issue.
We rushed through dinner in order to make the 10:15pm Showtime at the Encore! Main Lounge. I want to make it clear that the Head Server was unfriendly and provided extremely slow service. I also want to make it clear that the Assistant Server was doing most of the Head Server's duties and making an honest effort to serve us.
After the Show and some other entertainment, we were kind of hungry again, probably because we missed three of the five courses at dinner and we were in a rush to make the 10:15pm Show. Like on any Cruise Ship at midnight we headed up to the Lido Deck for the Midnight Buffet. We arrived at The Gathering Lido Restaurant to discover that the Midnight Buffet no longer exists on any Carnival Cruise Ship.
Our choices were the Pizzeria or Room Service. The Pizza offered at the Pizzeria looked like something you would see at a $4.99 Pizza Buffet; needless to say we opted for Room Service. Coincidentally, the only midnight buffet offered on board consisted of my body on a bed being eaten alive by the insect infestation in our Stateroom.
When we returned to the Stateroom we took a look at the Room Service menu, which seemed extremely limited. I remember Carnival having a decent size Room Service menu, no cheese and fruit platter, but a decent selection none the less. We eventually discovered that page twenty seven was missing from the Green Stateroom Information Book, which is apparently where most of the Room Service Offerings are listed.
After receiving the missing Room Service Menu Page we placed an order for two Hot Pastrami on Rye Sandwiches with Spicy Brown Deli Mustard. Room Service on the Carnival Dream is Fast, Fun, and Friendly! Within fifteen minutes we received two Cold Corned Beef on Rye Sandwiches with Generic Yellow Mustard, which isn't even on the Room Service Menu.
On the second evening of the cruise we arrived at The Scarlet Restaurant and were seated at the new table promptly at 8:15pm. The Head Server immediately greeted us and provided us with the Menus and glasses of "Ship Water," yum. We never saw the Head Server again for the rest of the Cruise.
At 8:30pm, fifteen minutes after arriving at the restaurant, the Assistant Server took our Appetizer and Soup "or" Salad order. We also asked for some Iced Tea / Lemonade to drink, because the "Ship Water" sounded like it came from Carnival Waterworks. Realistically the "Ships Water" is cleaner than any municipal water source, and we realize that it's used in the ice and concentrated beverage products on board.
At 8:45pm, thirty minutes after arriving at the restaurant, the Assistant Server delivered the Appetizers. Keep in mind that the menus were still on the table and we had not yet ordered the Entrees, nor had we received the Iced Tea / Lemonade. At 9:15pm, one hour after arriving at the restaurant, the Assistant Server delivered the soup and took the Entree orders, still no Iced Tea / Lemonade though.
At 9:30pm, one hour and fifteen minutes after arriving at the restaurant, the Assistant Server delivered the Iced Tea / Lemonade. At 9:45pm, one hour and thirty minutes after arriving at the restaurant, the Assistant Server delivered the Entrees. After dinner I approached the Maître d' and simply said "we would like a new Dining Service Team or a third table assignment in another area of the venue."
After the Show and some other entertainment we returned to the Stateroom. That evening I checked the balance of my Folio and noticed that there was an unauthorized charge in the amount of $70.00 for Gratuities. I was upset to the point where I was actually trembling.
How dare Carnival assumptively attempt to charge any amount of currency to my American Express Card without my knowledge or expressed consent. This is a gross violation of trust as well as extremely poor etiquette. I declined the prepaid Gratuities option during the reservation process and the "Important Notes" area of my Guest Confirmation Email stated nothing about Gratuities.
It was at this point that I had the realization that the service level at The Scarlet Restaurant was directly related to the onboard gratuities practice. A service team who is working for Gratuities should not receive said funds on the second night of a Cruise, which is five nights prior to the completion of said services. What's the incentive for Service Team Members to provide an excellent service level if they are not actually working for an incentive.
I immediately contacted Guest Services to dispute the issue; once again it was virtually impossible to contact them by phone without sitting on hold for longer than five minutes. I decided to get dressed, walk across the Ship and down five flights of stairs to Guest Services. Which brings be to another subject of concern, there were eighteen public elevators on board and never one available when you needed it.
When I arrived at Guest Services, the Crew Member was on the phone. I patiently waited in the queue for almost five minutes. When she got off the phone it rang again, I stepped up and told her not to touch the phone. It upsets me to know that someone who sitting around in their underwear and calling from the comfort of their cozy Stateroom, has priority over someone that got dressed, walked across the Ship, down five flights of stairs, and waited in line for five minutes.
Fifteen minutes after the initial unanswered phone call, I was able to voice my concern in person. I explained my issue to the Guest Services Crew Member and asked why the charges were assessed to my Folio without my knowledge or authorization. She simply replied, "That's how it's done."
To me, tipping is a very personal thing. I have been on over twenty Cruises with Six different Cruise Lines. Most Cruise Lines provide labeled Gratuity Envelopes, some let you electronically wire discretionary increments from your Folio to the individual Crew Members providing your services, right from the TV in your Stateroom. I have never been charged without knowledge or consent, especially on the second night of a seven night cruise, and after having horrible service in the Scarlet Restaurant two nights in a row.
I politely requested that the charges be removed from my Folio. At first the Guest Services Crew Member was hesitant, she asked for an explanation. I simply took out my iPhone and explained that I would call American Express and dispute the charge, and then file a formal complaint with the Better Business Bureau.
Needless to say, she decided to remove the charges from my Folio. John Heald, Carnival Cruise Director, always said "at Carnival, tipping is a very personal thing." I firmly believe this practice and it actually makes me feel good to give a Service Crew Member an additional fifty or one hundred percent more than the suggested gratuities for providing excellent service.
The third day of our cruise was the first Sea Day, so we took the opportunity relax and enjoy some of the Cruise Ship's Dining Offerings. We quickly discovered that lunch at The Gathering Grand Buffet, Mongolian Wok, Burrito Bar, Pasta Bar, and the Indian Tandoor all close one hour earlier on Sea Days. Why would Carnival close most of the Lunch Venues one hour earlier with a full complement of thirty-six hundred Guests on board and obviously not having lunch in a Port of Call?
The Grand Buffet at The Gathering Lido Restaurant had some great lunch offerings, and while Salami and Bologna are popular Lunch Meats, I was sick and tired of seeing them on the buffet every single day. Perhaps the Salami and Bologna belong at the Deli, thus making room for something more appealing on the Grand Buffet. The Pasta bar was also a nice treat to have on board, even though I marked Farfalle Pasta on my form and received Rigatoni Pasta.
We did like the fact that we could get an Iced Tea or Lemonade at any time; I did want to point out that the beverage station located at The Gathering on the port side midship appears to be configured backwards in comparison to the other three. It's a corner configuration with the cups located in the corner itself, the ice machine is on the far left, and the beverage fountain is on the far right; needless to say it was a constant time consuming traffic jam of ten to twenty thirsty Guests going back and forth all day and night.
We also noticed several other inconsistencies with Dining availability. For example, the twenty four hour Pizzeria would randomly close for an unspecified amount of time in the middle of the day. Breakfast at the Scarlet Restaurant had ended thirty minutes early when we arrived shortly after 9:30am on both Sunday and Wednesday mornings.
We really wanted to experience the flavors at the Indian Tandoor venue, so we saved that for the Sea Days because we had lunch ashore on the days we were in Ports of Call. Unfortunately the Indian Tandoor venue is only open for a very short two and a half hours on Sea Days. In fact the Indian Tandoor venue was only open for approximately twenty hours during the seven days we were on board.
I have to say that I was sick and tired of seeing those Carnival "Dear Guest" signs all over the place. When translated from Carnival Language to English, "Dear Guest" means "Disappointment." That is one memory about my vacation that I can do without.
We eventually made it to the Scarlet Restaurant for lunch on a Sea Day. I felt like I was there for dinner, again with the extremely slow service. We arrived at the Restaurant at 1:30pm and did not receive the menus and "Ship Water" until 1:45pm, fifteen minutes after arriving at the restaurant. Five minutes later the Server returned to take our order and never even made an additional beverage offering.
At 2:00pm, thirty minutes after arriving at the restaurant, I got up from the table, walked across the restaurant to a Server Station, picked up a pitcher of Iced Tea, and returned to my table with it. I received a round of applause from other Guests in the restaurant and all of a sudden had four servers sprinting across the restaurant to the table. They attempted to remove the Iced Tea Pitcher from the table and I declined, finally someone said that it wasn't permitted on the table, so I eventually surrendered it with hesitation.
I have to say that the Offerings available at the venues on The Lido Deck were more appealing than those at the Scarlet Restaurant for lunch. The Clam Chowder was interesting; it consisted of room temperature Cream of Potato Soup with two, one inch, open faced clams, one of which was meatless. We actually left the venue half way through the entrée and headed for the Deli up on the Lido Deck.
It was 2:30 on a Sea Day when we arrived at the Deli; it was one of two venues that were open for lunch on a Cruise Ship with thirty-six hundred passengers. Needless to say we had to wait in line for fifteen minutes at the Deli. We placed our order for two Hot Pastrami on Rye Sandwiches with Spicy Brown Deli Mustard, we received two Hot Pastrami on White Bread Sandwiches with Yellow Mustard, which wasn't even on the menu.
This is the second time and place that we ordered Hot Pastrami on Rye Sandwiches with Spicy Brown Deli Mustard and received something different. First of all, I can tell the difference between Pastrami and Corned Beef, as well as Rye Bread and White Bread. Second, these sandwiches are traditionally served with Spicy Brown Deli Mustard, not Yellow Mustard.
If the Deli was out of Rye Bread or Room Service was out of Pastrami, they should have specified that rather than assumptively preparing something different in an effort to deceive us, especially when said replacement isn't even on the menu. Also, it's a Deli, and every Deli is stocked with Spicy Brown Mustard. I eventually got a delicious Hot Pastrami on Rye Sandwich and added my own Spicy Brown Mustard that I picked up in Saint Thomas.
I'm a big fan of Sushi; I eat it at least once a week. Having a Sushi Bar on board was a big treat. Unfortunately the Sushi Bar on the Carnival Dream was not at all up to par with its Offerings.
The majority of the "Sushi" was actually cooked, and most of the time the Offerings were not served at a safe temperature. In fact, "Sushi" should never smell "fishy" unless it's gone bad. For some reason the Wasabi Sushi Bar was closed on Sunday and had non Sushi Italian style Tapas on Wednesday, both were unsettling encounters when we arrived at the venue.
The suspense was building as we got closer to our third evening at the Scarlet Restaurant; it was becoming a TV Drama. Would we have a new Dining Team or a third table assignment, what type of drama would unfold? Find out tonight at 8:15pm on Carnival.
Once again we were seated at the new table promptly at 8:15pm. At 8:16pm, one minute after arriving at the restaurant, the new Service Team introduced themselves and took a few minutes to get to know us as well. The Dinner Service was absolutely flawless from that point forward.
The new Dining Team knew our names and our taste preferences. They were extremely friendly and genuine. The service was so seamless that we didn't even notice it; they were meticulously catering to our every need before we even had a thought.
The offerings were average in comparison to other Cruise Lines. The quality was good and a Lobster Tail Entrée is not something that you will find on every Cruise Line. My evaluation of The Scarlet Restaurant experience was average.
Towards the end of the cruise I was expecting to see the infamous Chocolate Buffet that I have seen on every Cruise Ship. I was extremely upset to learn that Carnival Cruise Lines has done away with the Chocolate Buffet. Seriously?
Josh Waitzman was an above average Cruise Director, not Excellent though. John Heald on the other hand is an excellent Cruise Director; he sets the standard for all Cruise Directors in the Industry. John's appeal is that he relates to Guests and has the unique ability to visualize and create the ideal Guest Experience.
Josh is a great Cruise Director and he has the potential to be Excellent. My first impression of Josh is that he's insincere as well as inconsistent. He comes across more like a used car salesman rather than a cherished friend.
Despite the drama at The Scarlet Restaurant we were able to make it to the Encore! Main Lounge for Showtime every night. I was very impressed to see a live band for the Production Shows, that's a rear treat on a Cruise Ship. Eddie C. & The Dream Show band gave an excellent performance.
The Carnival Dream Dancers were also excellent, especially in comparison to all the productions I've seen while working for The Walt Disney Company. Desmond Dansby is an excellent singer, perhaps one of the best I have seen on any Cruise Ship. Bert Rodriguez is probably the best singer I've seen; he performs seasonally for another Cruise Line and is the lead Singer in Finding Nemo The Musical at Walt Disney World.
Simone Catalano on the other hand did not give a good performance at any time during the Cruise; in fact some of the karaoke sinkers gave a better performance. She was off pitch and could not hit certain notes. I almost jumped ship when I heard her sing "I Will Always Love You."
I was excited to see the Lido Laser Show on the first night of the Cruise. Wow . . . that pretty much sums it up. What a complete waste of time.
Other Cruise Ships that are half the size are able to have elaborate fireworks presentations. I wasn't quite sure what I was watching, and judging from the facial expressions and body language from Cruise Director Josh, who happened to be standing next to me, he wasn't impressed either. You couldn't really see the lasers because smoke machines in an open air Lido Deck, on a moving Cruise Ship, in a windy ocean, are virtually ineffective.
On formal night we attended the Captain's Celebration, which traditionally has complimentary Cocktail Hour on every Cruise Ship I've ever been on, unfortunately Carnival no longer partakes in this cruise industry tradition either. First the Midnight Buffet, then the Chocolate Buffet, and now Cocktail Hour at the Captain's Celebration. I suppose that Carnival received an overwhelming amount of feedback from Guests that wanted these offerings discontinued, right?
The Uncensored Comedy Shows at the Punchliner Comedy Club in the Burgundy Aft Lounge were a cruise highlight! Michael Macey, Comedian, definitely needs to be promoted to Captain. I have seen Michael on other Cruise Ships and he's one of the best in the industry.
I enjoyed the concept of the Punchliner Comedy Club; however I feel that the Burgundy Aft Lounge was at an uncomfortable capacity. Some guest could not see the comedians and others had to stand during the show. It may have been more comfortable in the Encore! Main Lounge, which is where this type of show would normally take place on other Cruise Ships.
One of the most interesting aspects of The Carnival Dream was the Carnival Waterworks; I've never seen six waterslides on a Cruise Ship. I do however want to point out a safety concern with the two larger slides. The joints where each segment of the tubes are connected are very sharp and scrape the rider's backs as they slide over each segment of the slide. My back was in slight pain and visually red after riding, in fact everyone who got off the slides had red backs.
I was also impressed with the number of Spas, or Hot Tubs; I've never seen eight Spas on a Cruise Ship. It should however be noted that thirty-six hundred Guests sharing two pools was a bit unsettling at times. Also The Hot Tubs on The Lanai Promenade were inconsistent, the two that were Forward exceeded one hundred and five degrees and the two that were Midship were actually cold all week.
The Stateroom Attendant for the week and the Third Dining Team for the last five evenings exceeded our expectations. We ended up giving the Stateroom attendant a fifty percent bonus and we gave the Head Server a one hundred percent bonus above the recommended gratuities. Tipping is a personal thing and no one should ever be forced into a prepaid situation, it's unethical.
I made an honest attempt to submit my personal feedback on five different occasions.
First, I was expecting a comment card in my Stateroom on the last night of the Cruise. Most Cruise Lines leave a comment card in the Stateroom so that guests can sit down and collectively provide constructive feedback. The Comment Card never appeared in the Stateroom.
Two, I went to Guest Services, after calling them and sitting on hold for over five minutes again, and requested a Comment Card. The Guest Services Crew Member stated that the person who booked the cruise would receive a Comment Card via email on the day of their return home. The Electronic Comment Card never appeared in my Email.
Three, I sent an email to Carnival Guest Care on Monday, October 18 and inquired about the Electronic Comment Card. I received an email response three days later with other feedback methods. The Electronic Comment Card was not an option.
Four, I called Carnival Guest Care on Wednesday, October 20 and inquired about the Electronic Comment Card. I was told that we did not receive it as yet because we still had an "open file" by the ship, I can only imagine what the file said after the Dining Service, Gratuities, and Insect Infestation issues. The Carnival Guest Care Representative verified my email address and stated that I would receive the Comment Card since I was listed as the Guest who booked the Cruise.
My Stateroom roommate received the Electronic Comment Card and submitted it without consulting me; he assumed that each individual Guest would receive one, which is not the case. I emailed Carnival Guest Care again and explained the situation. Guest Care explained that the comment cards are only sent to individuals that are listed as head of household and that in my case, the head of household on my Past Guest Profile is my younger brother, and since my Stateroom Roommate is listed as head of household on his profile, the system automatically sent the survey to him, even though I booked the cruise.
This makes absolutely no sense at all from a Guest perspective. I formally request that I am made the Primary Guest in my Guest Profile since I am the one who booked both this cruise and the cruise that I took my younger brother on. So now this letter represents my fifth attempt to provide feedback about my cruise experience and I'm not even sure if it was worth my time and effort.
Based on my personal experience aboard The Carnival Dream in comparison to the twenty other Cruise Ships I have sailed on, this overall experience was below average and did not meet my expectations. Based on my Travel Industry background I cannot in good conscious recommend this cruise to anyone that trusts my judgment. I may not completely write off Carnival; however it may be another six years before I trust the Cruise Line with my precious Vacation Time.
Every Cruse has its pros and cons. I don't have extremely high expectations and I'm not difficult to please. I want a fun and relaxing experience at a fair price.
I hope this review finds you well and that you take it into consideration when planning your Cruise Vacation. Carnival is a good company and the biggest Cruise Line in the World. Now they need to focus on becoming the best.
We were very excited about the cruise and our destination, Mexico. We were looking forward to lively clubs, all you can eat quality food, quality seafood, quiet adult time, culture, tacos in mexico and courteous staff.
We boarded early, had a buffet lunch with all of our luggage in tow because the rooms do not open until 1:30... Tiffany's looked very nice, though the stained glass is fake and falling apart. I skipped to salad, and found that the salad area had hardly any variety. I saw my husband got a burger and went to find them... I got a burger and was in the bathroom within 20 minutes from the fat in the burger. There was no fresh seafood on the buffets like we thought there would be, usually strange concoctions that I tried and never liked. My husband and I are foodies but we are not exactly picky either. If we are going to eat, we want it to be decent quality... the buffet food to me was horrible. Even the desserts. They have free soft serve but it was the icy kind of stuff, not creamy. The onlytime we were pleased with the food is if we went to the dining room we were assigned. The attitude of the wait staff during the day was very curt and off-putting. But in the evenings we were assigned to a table, waiter and server that were top class and the food was wonderful. Go out of your comfort zone in the dining room. But don't even bother with the buffet food... horrible.
The novelty of the boat wore off quickly. Its nice in the mornings or late late evenings when most are in bed or at dinner, but otherwise parents let their kids run around screaming and bumping in to people, so they got a vacation from them but they terrorized other people... apparently there is a fall break now that attributed to there being so many children on board... we find children unpleasant because their parents do not make them behave... on a cruise ship, this is multiplied 100 times. So we did not get away from screaming kids like we had hoped. And unless you like LAME shows, tacky American culture, gambling and drinking, there is nothing to do on the ship. We thought there would be more of a night life on board and more to do than just sun bath (burn and get cancer) and swim in a pool that is fool of screaming children. The only safe place we found was the Serenity deck which was adult only; no bar or live music, just two hot tubs and a bunch of lounge chairs. This was on the back of the boat, so it was very small. We enjoyed the hot tubs at night while everyone else was at dinner. But then that made us sleepy and after seeing the lineup for "entertainment" we just went back to our room and watched on of the daily movies.
We thought there would be more culture on the ship, but instead we got American cover bands as music, burgers and fries... the closest you will get to culture is talking to the crew; I think only four or five were American, the rest were from all over the world, but they are working 70 hour weeks and waiting on you hand and foot with a master servant kind of relationship... we felt very distant from them which we are not used to and it made us feel like total heels. My husband and I are very humble down to earth people, so being made to feel like we were not on the same level as the crew was very demoralizing for us. Especially since they were the only variety in culture on the ship, which is what we were looking forward to.
There were very few people in our age group (25-30) on the ship, so the night life was not existent. We would walk by the clubs after dinner and they were dead. The only things going were the cover band, the lame shows in the Mikado and Cole Porter lounge, and the casino... we had already spent enough money on the cruise itself, we did not have money to gamble.
The highlight was Mexico. Skip Cozumel, overrated. The beaches are not as nice and too expensive. Carnival charged us $40 per ticket to go to Playa del Mia and when we got there, they did have the "free" open bar (we just paid $40!) but nothing else was available that was detailed with the excursion, no water sports, nothing. Apparently a storm came close by and murkied things up and made it so they had to put all the water sports equipment up. So we paid $40 to fight with people on the beach over lounge chairs in the shade (no umbrellas it was too windy)... very disappointed. My husband literally tried to drink $40 worth from the bar to compensate for our loss. So skip Cozumel... even if the water sports are available... save your money for Calica instead. Prettier beaches and water and they do not heckle you as much in the shops and streets but you still get good deals. We went to Playa del Carmen and paid $20 for two lounge chairs with a huge corona umbrella and that was for as long as we wanted to be there. Beautiful sand and water, and we were treated to a Mexican man and his music. He was not walking arounf with an entire mariachi band; just himself, dressed in a long sleeve flannel shirt, dark blue jeans and black tennis shoes and his guitar. No tacky Mexican production or costume. Very genuine and the music was beautiful. He sang Coo Coo Roo Koo Coo for us and had we have been rich I would have given him a $100 tip. It was special and beautiful. Then we walked to the man a few feet behind us and ordered tacos from a restaurant a few feet from the beach. They were wonderful! Real tacos, not gringo tacos. And fresh guacamole that tasted like mine. And black refried beans. We were tickled with our trip to Calica. If we can ever go back I will find that man and give him a bigger tip, no song required. But we will not go via cruise ship.
We got back on the boat and left the culture. We got a view jems that we would not have gotten if we had not have gone, like the man singning for us on video and we got to see the sun set over the water from the dining room on the boat. But if we ever go back to Mexico, we will stay there, not on a boat. You can still do it and be safe; just don't go to Tijuana.
For the money we spent to have a room and food on the boat, we could have stayed home and done things we enjoyed and taken in still more culture. And we could have made real tacos at home. We could have had a shopping spree and still had a lot of money left over. We could have played pool, gone to wine tastings, bought our own liquor and drank more (we couldn't afford to drink on the boat; imagine 5 full days of ordering drinks at a bar...). We could have gone to a concert, a 5 star restaurant for the first time... We really regret going, there are so many better things we could have spent the money on and we would have enjoyed oursleves more. Instead we were trapped on an out dated boat with lots of children and lots of 70-80+ people, with nothing that entertained us... bored to tears.
Let me put it this way. If you like variety, spice, culture, freedom, good food, good music, dancing, and intellectual stimulation, a carnival cruise may not be for you.
Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Liberty by Cruznut2 - September 11, 2010 Carnival Liberty September 11 - 18, 2010
Extended Stay America Miami - Brickell - Port Of Miami 298 SW 15th Rd, Miami Florida 33129
This trip I decided to drive to Miami the day before the cruise.. There were many options to consider for parking during the cruise. In my research I found a hotel that offered free parking for the length of the cruise. My research revealed that the hotel had good reviews so I booked it. I did my booking on line at their website. I chose the senior rate which was $71.24 I paid around $80 with taxes. I felt that was very reasonable as it would save me $140 in parking at the port. The shuttle to the port was $10.00. Returning from the cruise I took a taxi back to the hotel for $14.50
The hotel was located on a quiet street near the Port of Miami. I found the hotel to be clean and very quiet. My room had a queen bed . The room was equipped with a small kitchen.. Supplies for coffeewere there also. More coffee was offered in air pots set up in the lobby in the morning. There was no continental breakfast.. They have vending machines that were very high priced. I walked across to the Walgreens store and they had nice fresh pastries for sale.
The hotel did not have a restaurant within it. There is a nice Italian restaurant nearby within easy walking distance. Had I spent more time exploring I might have revealed other places. Since my niece lives in Miami she picked me up and we went to Bayside Market Place for a drink. For dinner I was tired and chose to stay in the room. Two menus were slid under my door. Both offered sandwiches, pizza, salads, soups. I chose a sandwich and soup. It arrived promptly but was not very good. The soup was canned and the sandwich was on stale bread. I ate part of it and tossed the rest, too tired to care. Needless to say I was in bed early. It had been a long day and a long drive from Lakeland.
Port Of Miami
My shuttle from the hotel picked me up at 11:00 AM. It was about 11:20 before we left. I was the only passenger going to the port. The drive took about 15 minutes in the traffic At the port. I was dropped of at Carnival and went inside to check in. The lines moved along fairly well for the amount of people in the terminal. The last stop before boarding was where they set up on board accounts and issue key cards. I did feel that this area could have used more agents. There were many empty stations here. It took about a half hour from the beginning until I plugged in my card for the security check in picture. As I stepped on to the mat for this picture a buzzer went off and a canned voice announced to anyone listening that I have a message and to please go to customer relations. I went to the pursers desk for my message. Since I have several medical issues they just wanted to assure me that they were prepared to meet my needs.
As I entered the main lobby I was pleased to note the huge American Flag hanging in the atrium. It was September 11 and the Flag was quiet tribute to our wonderful country.
I was carrying a carry on and my c-pap machine as well as my purse. I knew this would be troublesome on the lido while trying to get lunch. I decided to try to get to my room to drop it all off. I went up to Panorama deck and my corridor was open. I went to my room and got rid of the baggage and left. As I was leaving they shut the door to the corridor. I guess I was lucky.
I went down to Emiles on lido and had lunch at the deli. I enjoyed a pastrami sandwich and a glass of water. Then I did have a small slice of cheesecake for dessert.
After lunch I went exploring the ship. I had sailed on this magnificent ship in 2007. There were a few changes. The one most noticeable was the elimination of the Asian buffet. It was replaced with a burrito bar. I would much rather have had the Asian. I also noticed that the salad bar was gone and there were salad choices at the beginning of the food lines instead. This made less choices for the salads. On the other hand it saved standing in line twice for lunch. The ship was showing signs of wear and tear and will soon need a facelift. I decided to return to my room and see if my luggage had been delivered. It had and I was surprised that it was in the room and on the bed. I unpacked and was back on deck long before sail away. The lifeboat drill was somewhat improved as wearing the life jacket was eliminated. Somewhat cooler while standing there. Of course I had the complaining lady right behind me. She carried on as if the drill was a plot to inconvenience her. I wanted her to quiet down so we could listen to the instructions. I am sure the others around us felt the same. Some people just do not understand that it is important information and it is mandatory.
The entertainment on this ship was outstanding. The Liberty dancers were wonderful. The singers are very talented. The first production show was a tribute to the cities of the world. It ended with a tribute to the USA. This show ended with sparklers going off on stage and red, white and blue streamers cascading into the audience. The audience was on their feet in standing ovation. Not a dry eye in the house. I struggled for control with a lump in my throat as tears streamed down my face.
The second production show was called "Singing With The Big Band" This show featured the huge talent of Christopher Alan Graves. He sang all the standards of Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr. He invited the children on stage as he sang "Candy Man" and of course the children were given candy. I cannot say enough about this man and the show he puts on. If you are on a ship where he is entertaining, don't miss this one.
Not being a late night person I was usually asleep long before midnight and I missed the adult comedy shows and the comedy club altogether. I heard many good comments about it around the ship.
Of course as we all know most of the action is around the central lido pool. I usually went to the aft pool where we older folks congregated. It was nice there. The "laugh a minute" crowd that I met at lunch were usually there and I was kept laughing all the time. I went to bingo a few times but as usual I was not too lucky. I spent too much time donating too much money to the casino too. I did participate in 3 slots tournaments this week. I never got past the first round. All I got from the casino was a free pina colada that the host was offering the ladies. I also got a severe sinus infection from the smoke in the casino.
Since I was traveling alone I chose "Your Time" dining. I could go to the dining room any time between 5:45 pm and 9:30 pm for dinner. I absolutely loved this option. I was placed with different people most nights. Every night I was lucky to be placed with great dining companions. I met many nice people this way and really enjoyed it. I also opted for the dining room most days for lunch and every day for breakfast. One memorable lunch I was placed with four other people who kept me laughing the whole time. One day for lunch I went to "Fish and Chips" I had the Calamari and it was outstanding. Try as I would I was unable to control my intake of sweets and of course everything was excellent. On port days I ate at the buffet for lunch. I must admit that for the first time I was somewhat disappointed in the food there. Once I went to the pizzeria for a slice of pizza . As always it was excellent.
Service and Sanitation
There was no area where service lacked on this voyage. Although Liberty is showing signs of wear she was kept spotless. A difficult task with 3200 guests running around. My cabin was well kept by Harry my cabin steward who attended to all my needs. The dining room staff was great and all my meals were well served and timely.
The dreaded disembarkation day arrived and I was prepared and ready for it. I did not opt for self assist as that can be a real mess with too many folks struggling with too much luggage try to be the first ones off the ship. I was assigned zone 9. I had an extra cup of coffee on lido deck then went to my room to collect my things. I went to the Venetian Palace lounge to wait for my zone to be called. As the zones were completed they were called. Self assist was still going on also. I was called in a relatively short time and was off the ship before 9:00 AM. I got in line for a taxi and went back to the hotel to pick up my car. All in all it was an easy process.
This was the best cruise I ever had and I would definitely book this ship again.