January 2016 - 11 Night Southern Caribbean (New Orleans To San Juan) Cruise on Carnival Dream
Third time cruising with Carnival and it turned out to be quite disappointing. In a nutshell, the one port stop, St Maarten, I was really looking forward to was cancelled because the captain thought the seas were rough even though 4 other ships were able dock safely.
Embarkation was fast because we bought the Faster to the Fun package; otherwise the line is huge and takes about a couple hours to get past port security etc.
Our cabin experience was poor for the following reasons: 1) 1 110V outlet and 1 220V. My spouse uses a CPAP machine and so the power cord couldn't reach the outlet and had to convince the front desk clerks that we need an extension cord for a CPAP... you see, they only have a limited supply of them. Later on I realised there's one more 110V outlet in the bathroom above the mirror and one more 220V outlet for the nightstand lamp which didn't make a difference at all - CPAP needs a 110V. 2) bed was very uncomfortable and woke up every morning with a sore back. 3) AC vent was right above my bed, there is no setting to turn the AC off so I had to cover the vent in order for it not to blow into my legs and feet, otherwise I'd wake up with muscle aches. Otherwise, our cabin steward was friendly and attentive. Also, we had requested a king-size bed at the time of booking and no such for provided, for the second time in a row.
Entertainment program was a joke. Ungifted sing-alongs, karaoke, trivia and other boring activities. I thought I'd give Club Caliente a try - first night I checked it out was dead, second night was top 40s grannies-dancing. I did however enjoy the Academy of Fun lecture on star constellation navigation at sea (sadly I didn't remember the name of our lecturer).
The restaurant was decent, with decent food, gourmet-sized dishes. Buffet restaurant's food was nothing spectacular, big lines, cold food, coffee machines were often out of coffee. Desserts' taste was below average. The last couple days of the cruise they had run out of bananas, orange juice. I didn't see grapes or strawberries at all during the entire trip. We paid the Steak house a visit and I must admit the service and food were exceptional and one would expect so for the extra fee you pay.
The art auction staff (Park West) was very courteous and very friendly. I bought there paintings and am quite happy with my purchase. Chris, Soma and Galina deserve a lot of credit for making our cruise a bit more enjoyable!
The most disappointing part of the trip was the port stop we missed at St Maarten. It was the only reason we booked this cruise because, in my opinion, St Maarten is the only island worth seeing out of all the ones we visited. Captain claimed there were 'swells' and he couldn't safely dock. They had the ship tied to the pier, at the time I was having coffee on deck 11 and didn't feel the vessel rocking at all. I was so excited and was anxiously waiting for the announcement that we can head down to the gangway, only to realize the ship was leaving and heard the announcement. Of course, I took some pictures of the other ships at the port and I can clearly see there were no waves at all so, as you'd imagine, I developed my conspiracy theory. And even if the gangway was rocking as they claimed, they could have just dropped anchor and transport us by boats to the island, like they did in 2012 at Cozumel. Yet our cruise director arranged for a 'fun' day at sea - sand-bag tossing, more karaoke and a port fee refund of $9.57. What a joke! I went to the front desk to ask for some form of compensation for the nasty trick they pulled on us and was rudely advised that I need to call corporate (after we disembark at San Juan). Afterwards I did call corporate, waited for 45 mins to get to speak with a real person and was transferred to a department that wasn't even open. Falling short on luck over the phone, I submitted a formal complaint on Carnival's website and received a response that it's stated in the cruise contract that no compensation is given for weather-related itinerary changes. I guess it's their word against mine.
All in all, if you're looking for a cruise that won't nickel and dime you and not treat you like a scum bag when you catch them in the act, look to another cruise line. I will not be sailing Carnival again.