April 2015 - Carnival Magic to Caribbean - Eastern
Good News - 5 Stars for the following: The dining in the Northern Lights Dining Room, and for the Housekeeping Services: The dining service was 5 star. The food was excellent and the wait staff was extremely professional and made our group feel as tough we were on a luxury vacation. The Housekeeping Services made our stay delightful and the cleanliness of the rooms was perfect. The singing and dancing shows were entertaining. The magic shows fun. The Spa was nice, but expensive! Spend some money there - it is worth it. The crew did a great job keeping us all safe through very choppy waters. Once the winds dyed down the sea and sky were beautiful and enjoyable. Getting on and off the ship were very well planned and executed - smooth experience.
Bad News: Customer service for the vacation experience is non-existent. The guest services could care less about your vacation experience. There is no customer service experience, no concierge service to assist your choices on or off the ship. Schedule information is delivered to your room late in the evening for the following day - forget planning ahead. If the ship docks late or if the weather is bad - too bad - no notice or help re-planning your experience at the port.
The Cruise Director, Eli and the Assistant Cruise Director, Dee, made fun of Texans on several occasions during the cruise. The majority of guests were from Texas. There were jabs about how we talked and about what we eat. The jokes were not funny and were delivered in very poor taste (over and over again). We watched the cruise directors morning show to learn what was available to do on the ship, and the majority of the 30 minutes Eli and Dee talked about ranch, grits, and other weird things Texans eat. All the while making fun of how we say those things as well. This is not OK and very unprofessional.
There is ZERO information provided about the excursions. Guests are on their own if they are not a part of a Carnival provided excursion. Even when our Carnival snorkel excursion was cancelled, we found out by overhearing some other guest asking. We asked the Carnival employee on the dock and were told to turn in our tickets for a refund to guest services before midnight that night, when we went to the desk the young lady acted like we were crazy and asking for her first born child. She argued with me for 5 minutes telling me the snorkel excursion went out, even though it was raining (pouring) and "are you sure you didn't go?" WHAT??? I responded - yes I am sure we did not go in the pouring rain on the boat - here are my tickets. She finally checked our account and it had already been refunded. (this is a good example of how our experience went with guest service all week).
Guests are continually bombarded to spend money. buy Carnival Excursions, Spa services, diamond jewelry, or the art on the ship. Everything on the ship is an additional cost. The food, pool, and hot tub are free. The free tea, water and coffee are NOT delivered by the wait staff if you are at the pool, clubs, or events on the ship. We were with a group of high school seniors and if we ordered tea to drink the wait staff said they would bring Long Island Iced Tea, but no free tea.
There is a Casino in the middle of the ship where smoking is allowed. It is very thick with smoke. The smell of smoke permeates throughout the ship. Just be prepared - this is not a non-smoking ship. The comedy was no good - filthy. Being able to say the F word 18 times in 30 seconds is not funny. So skip the comedy shows unless you like the F word so much that you would just laugh until you cried!
We learned from other guests that other cruise lines offer a great customer experience with the ultimate vacation experience in mind. So I will take another cruise on another line to see if cruising is worth the money. This one certainly left a sour taste. I would prefer to eat "grits" smothered in "rayanch" like Eli and Dee think all Texans like to do! (yuck).
I suggest Eli and Dee embrace Texans and learn about our culture if they want to sell excursions and diamonds to the natives who sail out of Galveston.
BTW - grits are made with hominy, and they are delicious with butter, salt & pepper - or if you have a sweet tooth - butter and honey.