June 2016 - Carnival Pride to Caribbean - Eastern
Things started out rough, the Pride was having mechanical issues, and arrived late, we were advised to not show up till 1:30 via an e-mail from Carnival. There were no further communications from them. People were showing up at 1:30 as advised to do, they were being turned away and told they could not come back until 3PM. There was absolutely no further communication from Carnival of the changes that were being told to people at the Port. One of the people in my group arrived by plane, took a taxi which cost her $40 to get to Port, was dropped off a little before 1:30 to be told that she could not enter until 3PM. She chose to stand outside the gate and wait, but shortly after going outside the gate she was told she was not permitted to stand there, and that she had to leave the property, and if she did not leave she would receive a citation. She asked what was she supposed to do, she followed the instructions given by Carnival, they said she had to leave, she could take a cab to the Inner Harbor and wait, well I am sure that was fun having to lug all of her luggage to and around the Harbor to wait to be allowed into the Port. After all this, we still have not gotten any further updates from Carnival about the further delays. We finally saw on a post on Facebook that around 2:15 they were starting to allow vehicles into the Port parking lot, so we headed to the Port, we get there and traffic is backed up all the way onto Interstate 95, yeah that was real safe. From this point it took us over an hour to get into the parking lot. Once we get parked we go to get in line which is backed up outside and around the building. the whole process of getting thru security was ridiculous, there was 2 stations set up at the entrance we went in for security to check us in before the metal detectors, the problem is only 1 person was working, made absolutely no sense to me whatsoever. From the time we actually made it into the building and into the queue to get thru the security checkpoint, it took about 45 minutes, which I believe is entirely way too long, and I have never had to wait that long on any other cruise I have taken. We finally get to the checkpoint, and one of the people in my group has a 2 year old, and he had his sippy cup that had about a half a cup of water in it, I could not believe this but they made them empty the sippy cup that the child had been drinking from. I understand it’s security, but come on it is a child’s cup of water, I am sure that the parents are not trying to get the child to sneak on 4 ounces of alcohol for them, or having an explosive material in his drinking water, this policy needs to be reviewed. Oh by the way, if you need to go to the bathroom while waiting in the crazy long line, you better do it outside in the trailer, because there is no bathroom access inside the building until after you get thru security. So we finally make it thru security, and get into the next line to get our Sail and Sign card, this line was not horribly bad, waited for about 20 minutes before we got waited on, at least they had 23 check in stations up and running, compared to the 1 person in security. Once we get our cards, we board the ship, and since the gangway was destroyed a couple of months ago, we had to enter thru level A which was fine, it went pretty smoothly. So from the time we arrived and got in line on the Interstate, to the time we got onto the ship, it took almost 3 hours, that is entirely way too long, and on my past cruises have never had this kind of wait. Once we get on the ship, we all head to our cabins, drop off our carry on items, and immediately head to Lido to get something to eat and drink. One of the people in our party is a diabetic, and needed to eat, we all got a plate of food, sat down, and not even 5 minutes later the announcement is made that everyone must go to their muster stations for the muster drill. Nothing like being herded around like a bunch of cattle as soon as you get on the ship. We were told we had to leave immediately, leave the food, and get to our muster stations. I am sorry, but we have already been inconvenienced quite a bit by the late arrival of the ship because of mechanical issues, they could have delayed holding the muster drill for a little while. After the muster drill, the rest of the short afternoon went fairly well. I have to say that the food in the main dining room, was at best OK, was not a big fan of the American Table menu, and the service in the dining room, was not very impressive. Every night some of the people at the table would ask for tea for their beverage, and every night they would forget about it and would have to ask a second time for the drink. Never have we had to ask multiple times just to get a drink. Food service seemed to be very slow compared to past cruises. For breakfast on a few of the days, we ate in the main dining room, the service was decent, and food was good, so no real complaints about breakfast service there. Now to the Lido deck food. I have to say one thing, the scrambled eggs at the buffet, I have no idea what they did to them, or put in them, but they were the most disgusting eggs I have ever had, they definitely changed something with them, I used to like the scrambled eggs on Lido. That was horrible. The eggs benedict, was ok, except for the English muffins were hard as a rock. I tried a breakfast burrito from the Blue Iguana one morning, it was decent, just wish the ingredients that are supposed to be hot, were at least warm, they seemed to be cold, including the eggs, I believe that may be a food safety issue? For lunch, I had Guy’s Burgers on 3 days, and they were very good, and always hot, I had a burrito and a taco from Blue Iguana on separate days, they were good, but once again, the stuff that should have been hot, was barely warm, again a food safety issue?? One thing that I did notice is that since they put in Guy’s and Blue Iguana, some food items have disappeared and was disappointed to see, and those are the foods that would have been served in those 2 areas in the past, the chicken tenders, French fries (yes I know they are available at Guys), and many other items are now gone. Allot of those items that were served in these spaces, were the kid friendly items also, the choices inside in my opinion were very limited, and not really kid friendly, except for the pizza, which I can’t comment on because I never got any, but one person in our group did, and was very disappointed in it, actually said it was horrible compared to past cruises, so I never got it. One evening, I did not make it to the Main Dining Room for dinner, I was OK with it, until I got to Lido a little after 7PM, to find that my choices, were Pizza, or Deli sandwiches, everything else was closed, this was an obvious change / cut back, and was disappointed, but I made do with a sandwich. Another obvious cutback that has been made at least comparing to past cruises is having servers walking the Lido deck at the pools to take drink orders. It used to be that there were several people walking around taking drink orders and bringing them to us at / around the pool, that was not the case at all, I usually only saw 1 maybe there was a second going around I don’t know, did not pay that much attention because I would end up having to go and get my own drink because I could not find anyone. Onto the alcohol services, I purchased the CHEERS package, I did get my money’s worth out of it, and is an OK deal as long as you make sure you get your money’s worth out of it. The mixed drinks for the most part were very good, I had 2 drinks, that I decided to try that if I would have paid for them, I would have been upset because they were horrible. I spent quite a bit of time at the Blue Iguana Bar, Red Frog Pub, and the Piano Bar. The drinks at all 3 places were good, and they did not skimp on the alcohol, especially at the Blue Iguana, I drank the Patron Margaritas, there was no less than 3 shots of Patron Tequila in each glass, hence the reason I missed dinner the one night. In the Red Frog Rum Bar on Deck 2, my favorite was the Painkiller. Only thing I did notice, is each bartender apparently did not make it the same way, I ordered one, and then someone else from my group ordered one from another bartender, and they were different colors, not sure what happened. Now onto the Port Days, Grand Turk was very nice, the beach was nice, and we did an outside company island tour that I am guessing would have cost $50+ thru carnival, and we paid $20 a person. Where the problem starts is heading / trying to get back onto the ship, and is obviously another cutback that carnival has made. The line to get back on the ship was 3/4 the length of the pier. It took almost 40 minutes to get back on the ship. I don’t understand it but they only had 1 gangway in operation, which on past cruises with Carnival they have always used forward and rear gangways to embark, and what really had me upset was once we get to the gangway, they only have 1 security position up and running, 1 x-ray, and 1 metal detector, there were 2 there so why are they not utilizing them both, especially with how long the line was and having to stand out in the 90 degree heat for all that time, especially people with little kids. Half Moon Cay was beautiful, the sand was amazing, just wish that they had a pier and not having to use tenders, gets very hot sitting on them waiting for it to fill up to go to and from the ship. Getting back on the ship was much smoother here, they put you thru metal detectors and x-ray on shore before heading back to the ship, then when you get back all you have to do is put Sail and Sign card in machine and you are on your way. I have nothing to say about Freeport, other than it is a waste of time to stop here, I did not even get off the ship and I have been there before, and am not impressed with it at all. Overall, I had a decent time. Would I go out of Baltimore again, probably not, was the cost of the cruise a good value, not really, it costs quite a bit more to go out of Baltimore than it does to go say out of a Florida port. Am I a satisfied customer, not really. Am I happy with how Carnival handled the mechanical issue notifications / communications, absolutely not, and to only offer a $15 on board credit for the inconvenience especially for the one person in my group that paid $40 to get to the port, and then another $20 each way to get to and from the Harbor is not enough, and when they went and talked to Guest Services they offered nothing. The cutbacks that they have made and the poor notifications of the delays has me considering moving to another Cruise line. I never would have expected things to be as bad as they were.