August 2016 - Carnival Pride to Caribbean - Eastern
Let me start with the bottom line--my wife and I will never take another cruise with Carnival Cruise Lines. We have been on many cruises on several different cruise lines, but this cruise was going to be very special; we were taking our two kids and their families on this cruise to celebrate our 50th anniversary. We selected this cruise because even a year in advance no both cruise on any cruise line met our very specific needs (a unique configuration of cabins for the 10 of us and set dates for the cruise). We didn't care about the ports of call. This was an opportunity for all of us to be together and celebrate. We looked forward to this cruise for a year and were very excited when we finally were embarking. Then it all began to unravel...
1. The cabins were relics of another era and desperately in need of updating both in terms of decor and facilities for modern travelers. For example, our suite had only one outlet that was inconveniently located. This in 2016 were everyone has electronic devices that need to be re-charged.
2. After paying a considerable premium for a suite and all of the extras that normally come with a suite we were quite surprised to find out that paying for a suite got you nothing but a slightly larger cabin than the balcony cabins that each of our kids had. No dedicated steward, no complimentary laundry service, no stocked minibar (not even a free bottle of water- had to pay $3.75 for a liter of water), no complimentary hors d'oeuvres before dinner, nothing but but the room.
3. We had made a specific request for a table for 10. Much to our dismay, when we arrive for dinner on the first night we learned that our group was split up and assigned to different tables. After some discussion with the manager he was able to get us a table for 10, but with some conditions: we had to dine at 5:45PM and had to vacate the table by 7:00PM as it was reserved for another large party at 7:30PM.
4. Our dining service team was not ready for prime time. Did not speak English ver well and had difficulty communicating with us. Asking a simple question such as "How is this dish prepared?" was met with a quizzical look. And then with an "I don'y know" followed by a disappearing water who does not return for 10 minutes. After tasting an appetizer and finding it not to your liking requesting a different appetizer only to have it served after your main course.
5. There's an old joke about describing a dinner at a fine restaurant- "The food was terrible, and the portions were so small." Our experience was no joke; the food was mediocre at best, the portions were small, and there was no attempt to make an attractive presentation (visualize a small crab cake served on a white plate with a small cup of roumelade next to the crab cake; not even a bed of lettuce!).
6. There was a separate charge for everything (except soft serve ice cream and pizza). Even with the unlimited soda and juice package, there was a separate $5.95 (+ 15% gratuity ) for a drink that was literally a combination of two juices poured into a glass (no alcohol). The reason, it was a "specialty" drink.
7. To top it all off, our luggage was lost after disembarking. Carnival staff were not at all helpful. We kept getting a "Did you look over there?" response to our requests for assistance. No help trying to find our luggage. After an hour we are finally directed to the office, where the Carnival staffer initially told us "Somebody probably took your luggage by mistake; they usually return it in a couple of hours." Her expectation was that we could or would hang around for a couple of hours. We told her that we had a plane to catch and asked if Carnival would ship it to us when they found it. Her response "Well you could always come back and get it." Really? From New Mexico. What part of we have a plane to catch did she not understand. We filled out a lost luggage form and left with a Carnival phone number to call on Monday. The good news is that the person at Carnival HQ was courteous and very helpful. We are hopeful that our luggage will arrive in New Mexico in a couple of days.
I could go on and on, but I've vented enough for now. Oh, despite all of this we had a wonderful time celebrating our Golden Anniversary with our whole family.