Sail Date: 04/01/12
This is my 4th cruise in the past 10 months. This was definitely my worst experience ever. We booked a 7 night exotic western caribbean with extended balcony for two, three doors down from the serenity spa. Three nights before the cruise was got a call from Matthew, a cruise "specialist". He told us we could get a suite upgrade and VIP status for $100 dollars more a night. I asked what that included. He said, priority embarkation and debarkation. He told us the suite would have a whirlpool tub for two, ( it was two people only if the both weighed 100 pounds or less no lie) Anyone regular size 150 lbs no way could there be two of you in their or it would be some wierd visual game of Twister you would have to be playing. He said you get priority tenders to the islands with no pier, choloates, or cheese samples nightly, a welcome fruit basket and a bottle of champagne, he also stated we would recieve free laundry service and a special meeting with the Captian at a meet and greet. We thought what an excellent way to celebrate our anniversary and said yes.
What we got is NONE of that except prority embarkation, which was a joke. When we traiveled Norwegian we went VIP on our first cruise ever with them. We had no wait, for luggage, Border screening or check-in. At check in there was fist size jumbo shirmp, fruit, cheeses champange and there were 6 agents waiting to help. After we were done we were ushered onto the ship into one of their private dining rooms for a sit down order of the menu lunch. Where we could wait for our room to be ready.On Carnival, there was no priority screening, or luggage and check-in you had to wait in a line with only two agents with only lemon water, then we were sent into the main line to be ushered through security on onto the ship and up to the lido deck to wait. I KNOW, Norwegian was glorious and that is what I expected, I paid for this experience with my hard earned money and I got nada. When we got to our room the only Champagne and fruit basket was the one I ordered and paid for and was STILL charged for my anniversary.
When we did not get chocolates on our bed , I went down to guest services. There I was met by Felica. Felica informed my that VIP is only for platinum guests and all I got was priority embarkation and debarkation. I told her that, what was told to me was completely different and there was NO WAY IN HELL I WOULD PAY $700 extra dollars for a room, when our old room had a sitting area and an extended balcony. I told her what she was telling me was that I was screwed. And she said, "YES"!!! Then I said so, when I write a review and use your name and hold no loyalty to Carnival(this was my third cruise with them ) it did not matter about making the guest happy. She said, (this is an EXACT quote), " No, and my pleasure helping you", THEN SHE WALKED AWAY!. SHe I went to the room and asked to speak with Alaina the hotel director. I had to leave a message. The next day Dave got back with me. I told him I wanted to speak with the hotel director or be put through to her voice mail. He told me he was not allowed to do that. I expalined to him the story above, he said, the only guests who get the VIP treatment I was talking about were Platinum members(10 cruises or more). I told him I got that on my first cruise with Norwegian, and the only reason I paid the extra money was fror the treatment, not for the room, because i had an awesome room, before. I told him, I wanted my money back or credited to my onboard account. He said he could not do that but would give me the free laundry service! Really?!?!? I asked to speak to the hotel director again, he said he was not allowed to do that. I told him he had lost my loyalty and I would never go on Carnival again. We have a cruise with Carnival prebooked and paid for in June, and I tried to get out of it today and it is going to cost me $1200 hundred dollars because it is for 6 of us with two regular old rooms which I am going to keep and not upgrade. But because they make it imposible to get out of a booking, We are going to go, but NEVER again on Carnival unless they make it right, which they won't. Dave also told me he would look into the Felica and Matthew treatment and get back to me. He of course never did.
In addition, the diningroom was terrible. We love the food and the shows. This time the food was cold each and everytime and twice we got stuck with this awful waiter named Elmer. I think they did this to us because I had complained. After that we requsted, No Elmer! But the food was cold. The other two Carnival ships we were on the food was great as was the service. I think it has to do with what all "chains" experience. Eg, Some Olive Gardens are great, and other stink, and you know which ones to go to or not, and it all has to do with management.
They also had issues with the soda program. I paid for a soda card and if you order only a soda and not an alcoholic beverage , they huffed at you and took an extra long time to bring it. It you got a drink with your soda it came right away. I ALREADY PAID FOR MY SODA CARD IT IS MY RIGHT TO ORDER ONE AND RECIEVE IT IN A TIMELY MATTER. It got so bad that we went to the comedian and I ordered a pop at the beginning before it started and the waiter set it down right before the show was over.
Another thing is no one warns you about Belize. You dock a mile from shore, and take a tender in. When you get close you see the barbed wire rolls (like a prison) surrounding the docking station and the few shops they permit inside. If you go outside, you leave through a dirt parking lot surrounded by 10ft fences with razor wire and an armed guard. We went out thinking it was not that bad, and we were swarmed 30 folks minimum and that is no exaggration begging for money. We went one block, from one security check point to the next.(there was armed security on each block, and went back through a small room that they unlocked and relocked after we were in back into the dirt parking lot through the terminal! Scary. Now they had excursions that left right from the ship to a provate island or snorkeling, and if I ever have Belize on the itinerary that is what I would do.
The other islands were beautiful Grand Cayman, Honduras, even Cozumel was good.
In conclusion, I would NOT recommend Carnival to a friend or even an enemy. Norwegian and even Royal Carribean are comparable or better, Have your "FUN" on a different brand, where customer service and making it right for the guest is a priority!
Kristin Wagner Curnow