November 2014 - Carnival Paradise to Caribbean - Western
My previous experience on Carnival was 10 years ago and wasn't great so my expectations were low. Carnival didn't help themselves. First up the cruise ship did not come back to port until 3 pm the day we were to begin the cruise. We were supposed to board at 12 noon and depart by 4pm. I got a text from Carnival letting me know the boat was late but to show up at 3 pm. I showed up at 4pm and they had not disembarked the previous passengers, cleaned the boat and left us to stand outside on the street along with 2000 of our closest friend until 7 pm. Great way to start. No more texts, announcement or information was passed to us while inline.
No help with luggage either, my previous experience led me to believe you check in your bags and they deliver them to your room. No such luck, I got to carry 4 bags with two young children the whole way to our room on the ship.
Got to the room and no dresser drawer for storing clothes, there was a closet with some shelves but we were four people in a room for a 5 night cruise, certainly not enough room. TV remote didn't work and tv was mounted in ceiling. Only way to control tv was by climbing and standing on bed. Small problem but I asked room steward to correct. Never did in 5 nights. Room steward never did anything except replace towels and make bed, never took out trash or cleaned. Not impressed.
Carnival has great program of automatically charging you for tips, $12 a day per person. That totaled $240 for our trip, plus 15% for everything you buy on board. Apparently they forgot the meaning of gratuity. If service is good, I tip well, if service sucks, I don't. Since the tips go through Carnival I doubt the employees even receive them.
So once we get on boat, get an announcement boat can't leave. Boat finally departs at 3am. At breakfast Captain announces that we will not be going to Grand Cayman. We will only go to Cozumel. I understand weather not in their control but I booked the cruise to go to Grand Cayman and booked excursions there only. At this point I am ready to go overboard and paddle back to Tampa.
Got to Cozumel after two days at sea where we are greeted by 40 mph sustained winds and rough seas. It seems like it only can get better. I book a dolphin excursion for my family and the tour director basically says he doesn't recommend it because seas are so high. By the time we got to the location seas had dropped some and kids had a great time with dolphins, Omar tour guide was great, dolphin instructor Pilar, fantastic, it was the high point of trip.
This was immediately followed by the low point. Dolphin Excursion company hoards you into their sales pitch to buy the photos of you playing with Dolphins. One CD of photos is $160. Are you sh*&ting me? Its a f&*king CD, not prints. I just paid $500 for my family of 4 to come to the park. Even Disney doesn't charge that much for photos. Keep in mind we were dripping wet from coming out of the ocean, being whipped by 40 mph winds, my 7 yr old was ice cold to the touch. I asked for a towel, they say no towel, you should have bring. They said you buy photo now, I said I am freezing and my son is freezing, they say you buy photo now, I walk out.
The time with the dolphins was great and I bet the park would have been great but for the weather. The company could learn better on how to charge for photos and how to deal with guests.
Back to the boat, Camp Carnival was a nice spot to drop off kids for a hour or two, no complaints and lots of activities. Food in Paris Restaurant on par with college dining hall after period to withdraw has expired. Long lines and low quality food. I could go on but you get the point.
Fancy dining room food, good but not great. Service not great. This dining experience is supposed to be the draw for cruises. They treat you like royalty with steak and lobster and fine wine. They had steak and lobster, no fine wine, and service was poor. I frequently ran out of water, and wine and left and went to bar before waiter would return. The staff seemed to have too many tables and they had very specific functions. First waiter can get you drinks but not alcohol, second waiter can get you alcohol but not water and cannot take your order. Third waiter takes food order and another waiter brings it but he cannot fix anything, refills etc. Not an ideal set up.
Internet service horribly expensive but at least it very slow. $.75 a minute. I got on once and it took 3 minutes before it could load the google search page. I decided to go off the grid for the trip. The rest of the boat, pool slide closed for much of trip due to high winds, mini golf was great in hurricane conditions.
The whole trip was like black friday at Walmart, crowded, rude, and unsatisfying. I won't be back.
*** Edited 12/8/14 by Community Manager to comply with our Community Guidelines ***