WARNING: This post is about first world problems. I know. But I wanted to warn any regular cruisers about the decline of Carnival Cruise Lines.
We just got back from yet another week long float on a boat. This was our 7th cruise, all with Carnival, and we’ve been on the water for 45 days. It was relaxing and very needed after 60+ hour weeks of pet sitting, but definitely was not Carnival Cruise Line’s best cruise ever. In fact, we had a good time despite a few things that made us feel less than appreciated.
Our favorite part of cruising is dinner in the formal dining rooms. It’s an included part of the ticket and it always feels like dining in style every night. EXCEPT on this cruise.
Our table mates were awesome but our service was subpar for the first time ever. We frequently had to ask for more tea and water because we were left unattended for quite a while every night. That has never happened before. We also had to keep asking for the sides like bread and one of our courses on the second night were completely forgotten. It’s not like we’d starve since there is food available 24/7, but it was a real let down when it’s the part we look forward to the most.
I honestly think that our servers were not at fault. They had too many tables assigned to each person and it just wasn’t humanly possible to give all of us the attention we were hoping for…
Also, the taste of the food on this cruise wasn’t as good as the other 6 we’ve been on either. It was more bland than ever and some of the dishes were just bad. Like anything with pasta.
Oh, and I never ordered free room service before, but the longer time cruisers are very upset that they have limited the free stuff a lot apparently. No more hot meals. Sandwiches, veggie sticks, 2-3 desserts, and a few drinks are all that’s left. All hot foods cost extra. This didn’t affect me, but just a heads up.
Again, we made our own fun but bleck.
I enjoy girly drinks like pina coladas, fuzzy navels, and buttery nipples. I drink with friends 1-2 times a month and in excess about 2-3 times a year (aka, getting buzzed on purpose and trying to stay that way). I am giving you this info to explain the context of my upcoming issue.
You aren’t allowed to bring more than a bottle of wine or champagne per person on a cruise because they make a large chunk of their money from alcohol sales. I totally understand that and support capitalism. But if you bought alcohol from the ship or in ports before, they’d confiscate it until the last night of the cruise and deliver it to your stateroom.
BUT, they changed that policy about 4 months ago and didn’t email or contact their regulars. Now if you buy alcohol, you have to pick it up between 6am-8am the morning you are disembarking. I found this out the hard way since I bought 3 bottles of Milagro tequila in Cozumel for Christmas gifts. They let us know we would have to pick it up when I checked it in. What a hassle! And it makes the morning of disembarkation even more stressful!
That policy change without any update means that I will stop buying alcohol altogether on cruises – no bottles and no cruise over-priced drinks. Ever.
This didn’t end our good times, but I was pretty ticked off for a few hours.
One of our favorite entertainment parts of the last 3 cruises had been the Gold/Platinum/Diamond party for past cruisers. It lasted around an hour. Free rum punches, appetizers, a rundown of the upcoming ships, dancing on stage if you chose to, etc. NOPE. Now it’s only for Platinum and Diamond members. Gold members were given a free drink voucher for their last night instead. That’s a nice way to feel unappreciated – “You enjoyed this party for the last 2 years? Sorry, not invited.”
I steamed about this for a while too, but we made a new tradition. We had fun sitting outside on the deck and watching “Dive-In Movies” on the big screen while being all bundled up with soft blankets (or using them as pillows on the warm nights). We did this every night. It became our new thing. I hope it’s still around if we cruise with Carnival again.
I never made it to bingo on board, but I can always play online anyway. I can click now for free bingo and probably spend way less than $20 for a 9 card pack anyway…
And I want to give props once again to our stateroom steward because he was amazing. Our room was always clean and he was like a magic ninja with cute towel animals.
We enjoyed our time unplugged. It was great. We browsed around the shopping in Cozumel, Belize, and Honduras. We spent a little time on a beach. I got my hair braided in Belize. We watched movies on the deck and in our stateroom. And we just enjoyed each other’s company – we even brought 2 person board games and we read a lot in our room and on the main deck.
It was just not as great as usual which was slightly frustrating. Will we never cruise again? Hell no. But we will keep in mind that Carnival does make changes willy-nilly to their rewards program and will never let it affect our decision of cruise lines again.