March 2016 - Carnival Glory to Caribbean - Western
The cruise I took will probably be my last, which saddens me, because I enjoy them, but there are so many better vacation alternatives nowadays. Cruises have changed so much over the years, not always for the better, & this trip really brought that truth home to me. When I took my first cruise 20 years ago, you paid for the trip & that was it, except for (voluntary & at your discretion) tips. Now, you pay through the nose for the cruise & then are nickle & dimed for the entire trip. NOTHING (except for copious amounts of food, most of it mediocre, some of it amazing) else is included. Come on, cruise companies - you can't include free soda fountain drinks in your prices? $6 for a beer? $20 for a lobster? For four people, over & above the cruise price itself, the bill came to nearly $2000 for excursions, 6 drinks (we counted), a spa "special" & tips - apparently, 20% for anybody we ever passed in a hallway or acknowledged on a deck.
The cruise itself was pleasant, if you like lots of noise & drunks. (To be fair, it was spring break on the ship &, evidently, college kids now have a ton of money to spend on cruises & liquor.) I knew Carnival was a "party" line, but why do bands in small, enclosed places have to have 4 amplifiers? We spent most of our time on the "Serenity" deck, where children weren't allowed, but even there the music was too loud. We were bombarded with photographers constantly (5 of them in a row along the dock when we left the ship in the ports). All the "activities" that we could find on board revolved around selling things - jewelry, mostly.
On the plus side, our room was very nice with a balcony. It was always kept clean by an extremely pleasant steward, who always acknowledged us by name. We had very congenial tablemates in the dining room, where we had most of our dinners. The food there was, overall, top notch, & our waiters also knew our names. There were movies every night, both family & adult, beside the pool with popcorn & blankets, which we all enjoyed. The music, while loud, was good & covered lots of different genres. We took advantage of a spa special one day & were impressed by the treatment & the staff. The excursions (two of us swam with the stingrays & two went on a city tour in Cayman & two went to Tulum in Mexico) were good. (A big shout out to our guide Paco in Mexico, who knows EVERYTHING about the Mayan culture!) So it wasn't all bad, just overpriced.
Cruise lines, add some more activities to your day - trivia contests, demonstrations, anything that isn't tied to "selling". Let us have fountain drinks included in our fares. Tone down the music. Quit shoving photographers in our faces every time we walk down a hallway. STOP NICKLE & DIMING US TO DEATH.