Contributor Level: Cruise Director


I just came back from a cruise on Jan 3rd and I will say this much, Carnival is really slipping with respect to service and changes that are quite noteable.  We were on the same ship in Sept 2014 and notice huge differences in services, quality, etc.


I dare say that my wife and I are done with Carnival for awhile.


Mind you I did not let that ruin my vacay but just sad to see.

Tags: Carnival Cruise Lines

16 Answers

Contributor Level: Captain

I noticed the same decline between two different ships (Magic and Sunshine) within 18 months. I was hoping it was only the fact that Sunshine is an older ship. Perhaps they will take note at headquarters, however they will probably continue to fill the ships with new cruisers looking for a cheap cruise, or those who are willing to take the declining service in order to save a bit of money.

Contributor Level: Captain

Sure sorry to hear that. Never been on Carnival, the line, but have cruised a lot on two of Carnival Corps' other subsidiaries, Princess and HAL. We have been noticing a steady denigration in the over all quality of cruising for a number of years now. Every time I try to check out other lines with friends though, I find the grass is not greener on the other side.

To me it is becoming obvious, on one hand most of cruise line guests prefer a significant reduction in formality, quality and resulting expense, over what traditionally has been offered for the entire cruise experience. They get on board for a very low initial price which includes a basic cabin, three square meals plus all the snacking 24 hours a day they want. Any niceties or amenities or experiences beyond that are dollar cost add-ons. On the other, a minority of their guests, demographically older, prefer the manner of sailing they are accustomed to, they are in the minority today. Right now we are in between, for the cruise lines to do away with the old means losing the opportunity to cultivate a culture (I use culture as a verb here not a noun, someone took offense when I spoke like this before thinking I meant they weren't cultured because they didn't like formal dress? In other words, to cultivate.) of younger cruisers to the older style of cruising. Putting the entire industry in a vulnerable posture if and when competition and technology alter leisure vacation preferences and this new mass market fad of cruising looses appeal.

The mass market cruise lines have been entertaining eliminating the MDRs for a while now. Maintaining a memorable dining experience in the MDR is very expensive when compared to operating the buffets. What is happening is that many lines are reducing both service and kitchen staff in the MDRs rendering the dining experience marginally undesirable, while bolstering the cuisine quality and service levels in their specialty (extra charge) restaurants.

My guess is that we are in for more let downs. In a few weeks we go on a two weeker, which is short for us. I didn't realize it was a B to B though until after booking. On the Caribbean, right in the middle of booze cruise competition time. Last time we had a shorty like this the MDR was terrible. So stay tuned, hope for the best.

Contributor Level: Captain

Sad to hear about Carnival. Mr. Kennicott I'll keep my fingers crossed its a good time for you!

Contributor Level: Cruise Director

No offense taken on the comment Kennicott, I understood what you meant and I agree that they are changing up the "cultured" environment to accommodate the (pardon me if I spell it wrong) Millenials.  Sadly it is the younger generation that will flock to public media and make or break a company with their comments and the cruise lines appear to be more accommodating to them.


It is saddening to see the trend of cut backs in an effort to save a dollar, but sadly they will continue to fill the ships because the younger folks do not have the same expectation level that our generation has.


Have fun on your cruise and we look forward to hearing about it!



Contributor Level: Captain

I agree with the comments regarding cruise ship experience slipping. My hope is that this is only going to affect some lines, not all.  

Personally, I feel cruise lines should stop trying to court every potential passenger in the market. Each line should cultivate its key demographic, whatever that happens to be.  The point here is that each cruise line should have a demographic-specific mission and vision as to its key market then should articulate that to the cruising public so people can choose the best fit for their tastes.

Today's advertising does not do a good enough job of distinguishing the cruise lines. The lower end lines do not come out and honestly articulate "We are dedicated to keeping costs down so you (and your family) have the opportunity to enjoy a cruise vacation. This means you will experience fast food quality meals, longer lines, and less organized activities but if you want more, we have it... you just have to pay more to get it."... or something similar.  The higher end lines do not articulate that they offer refined decor, nicer seats, better-appointed cabins, higher food quality, enforced dress codes for dining in the MDR, etc. Maybe that is because they do not really feature that... and that is a problem in an of itself.  Truth in advertising versus supporting some mythical concept of what the cruise line is perceived to be. Big difference.

Yeah, I know... it's not a great campaign message, but failing to be more honest and upfront is literally p*ss*ng people off to the point that they will never step foot on another cruise ship again. This approach does little to help the cruise vacation industry in the long term. It is akin to shooting oneself in the foot because those disgruntled passengers take their poor-personal-experience-not-meeting-expectations directly to social media and review sites such as this one. A potential passenger who is on the fence about trying cruises starts reading these poor reviews and it is pretty clear what side of the fence they will probably come down on.

Messaging in ads really needs to be clearer. I am not picking on NCL but "free style cruising" means different things to different people.  The campaign that focused on not being forced to eat at certain times was a good start but clear messaging really seems to be lost since that ad went off the air. It really stood out as being different at the time... now it seems all major lines offer a flexible MDR experience. So what is different and better about the NCL free style experience?  Honestly, I feel completely free to style my cruise experience in any way I want on any cruise line or ship I sail.  NCL offers nothing that distinguishes their "free style" experience. Message lost... potential customer lost as well.

I am sorry you had a negative experience, askeegan and I hope your next voyage is all the you expect it should be regardless of the line you choose.

Contributor Level: Cruise Director

I completely agree that it is all about advertising and not perception.  The only issue that I really have with it is past experience versus current.  When you see one level and get a different one it is disappointing.  Consistency makes for better business for sure.  I have no false thoughts that Carnival tries to maintain a certain level as they try to adhere to Joe Q Public and their affordability and being a budget concious person try to find the best deal.  It is true what they say, you get what you pay for.


Like I said, it certainly did not ruin my holiday because I try to find the good in all things, just noticable changes.


I will certainly be courting different lines for my next voyage  :)

Contributor Level: Captain

We have been very pleased with NCL.  It took a little getting used to, but we find it to be a relaxed atmosphere.   The food is usually very good at the very least.   Service is always excellent.   And, they leave year round from NY

Contributor Level: Staff Captain

I'm and old school cruiser. I dress appropriately in the MDR and I like formal/elegant nights. I understand today's casual culture, and the expense of flying with extra luggage. I think Carnival's Throw Back 80's day on the Journey Cruises is a neat way to show new cruisers what the cruising experience used to be like. It was a joy being photographed with the captain. We haven't done that in years.


Like other industries, cruise lines are cutting back and the quality is going down. That's a fact of life in a capitalistic society. 

Contributor Level: Purser

We have been cruising since 1972.  There has been a considerable drop in the food quality and overall classiness.  We have been on many lines, some of which are no longer in business.  We like a little elegance.  Big problem now;  Too many people bring their undisciplined 'brats' with them.  They bother the other passengers with their racing around, running all over and running into people.  The parents just let them run loose.  I have even seen parents changing a table seating while their children were running around pawing the glassware, cups and silverware while the parents were not making any effort to intervene.  No wonder there are so many people that get ill on the ships!

Contributor Level: Captain

On the last Princess cruise, my wife and I dressed up nice for the formal night and pictures. We enjoy that very much as well as getting the "fun casual " pictures done.

I have a shot of another guest wearing the same suit, tie and shirt as me. He bought from the same company... different city though. It was very, very funny for us.

I want the formal idea and the classy nights to keep going, so I will look for that on cruises. If the cruise offers them, then I will look at the line. Otherwise.....


* is not a booking agent or travel agency, and does not charge any service fees to users of our site. Our partners (travel agencies and cruise lines) provide prices, which we list for our users' convenience. does not guarantee any specific rates or prices. While prices are updated daily, please check with the booking site for the exact amount. is not responsible for content on external web sites.

Back to Top