June 2015 - Carnival Valor to Caribbean - Western
The overall cruise experience with Carnival was for the most part very good and comparable to other cruise lines. We have sailed with Norwegian, Disney, and Royal Caribbean. Food, service, and entertainment is not that different between the four cruise lines, except that Disney is better for families with young children.
However, there was an incident with Carnival that negatively affected the cruise experience. Disembarking at all ports was the same as other cruise line. Time was announced, and passengers were allowed to disembark in the order that they arrive. In the case of Belize, the ship does not dock at a pier. Passengers are taken to Belize by shuttle boats. Each boat holds about a hundred people, so it does take longer to get to shore, especially if the water is choppy. But what Carnival did not disclose, is that they give first priority to the passengers who have booked excursions through Carnival (which are more expensive than local companies). The disembarking time was announced to be 8:00 A.M. We arrived at that time only to be told that we should go to a different part of the ship to get a shuttle boat pass since we were not going on a "Carnival Excursion". We then had to wait with others in a lounge until all Carnival Excursion passengers had left. We had scheduled excursions for our son and daughter at 9:00 A.M., and for my husband and I at 8:30. The first non-Carnival passengers allowed to board shuttle boats was announced at 11:00 A.M. I complained about our problem and they just shrugged and said that they cant change their policy. We had booked two balcony rooms for a seven day cruise and were being treated like second class citizens because we didn't book our excursions through Carnival. Very disappointing and discriminatory on their part. No future cruises with Carnival, they punish their customers for not purchasing their excursions.