Compliments & Critiques – Carnival Cruise Lines

A few final thoughts that I’ve been kicking around in my head before I put that lovely cruise to bed and reluctantly float back into reality.  I try to be one who both compliments and criticizes when I offer up my critiques of a particular whatever, so here are just a small number of random points where I think Carnival did particularly awesome, and also some where I think that they could stand to improve…

The Good…

Service at Sea
Just like our last cruise, I don’t think we could’ve asked for a better staff while we were out at sea – our room steward was great and I’m still impressed how she remembered our names to greet us each day in the hall, all of the various waitstaff around the dining room were for the most part prompt, friendly, and knowledgeable (we did anytime dining, so it changed every meal), and the entertainment staff was just a riot. Carnival really hires great people to run its ships, and it shows through and through.  😀

Live Comedy
We only made it to two shows, but frankly I wish we could’ve seen a few more because I really like how they’re starting to put more of an emphasis with dedicated comedy clubs and more comedians booked and all of that. Clearly a lot of other guests enjoyed this as well because both shows that we attended were almost completely packed, and as I mentioned in my other post, my only complaint is that I wish the shows we had attended would’ve been just a little bit longer.

Carnival’s Seaside Theater
The Carnival Legend didn’t have one of these, so the big screen was new to us on this cruise and I thought it was a really nice addition to the Lido Deck’s pool area because it gave everyone something else to do while laying about. We ended up watching two movies during the course of our stay – Goldfinger and Spider-Man – and both were a nice way to spend a relaxing evening. And again, my one critique is that if anything, I guess I would’ve liked to see even more shows on the big screen because it felt too often during the day like they just had the Carnival logo up on it half the time…

Maybe one or two more recent movies, too – while it was fun to watch The Avengers on demand in the room, it would’ve been a lot cooler watching Earth’s Greatest Superheroes put to the test poolside!

Room for Improvement…

Touch Screens & Other Interfaces
Specifically the touch screens on the machines in the gym, and also the remote control for our room’s TV – both were pretty terrible! For the touch screens, sometimes they just didn’t work at all and others you had to find the right spot a couple inches to the left of whatever button you wanted to press; and as for the TV remote, you pretty much had to hold your arm three feet in the air at a very specific angle to get the thing to respond – bad for changing channels, and even worse for trying to use the interactive features!

The High Cost of Photography at Sea
We took a lot of photos with the professional photographers that are out in troves during the elegant nights, and an impressive number of them actually turned out pretty nice! But that said, $22 a piece for 8x10s of the elegant night photos is simply ridiculous, and it kind of makes me sad to think that so many of those get thrown away simply because they’re overpriced (we did a tour last cruise and the photo manager cited somewhere between 80-90% of photos taken are trashed).

And the worst thing is, most we wouldn’t have wanted necessarily to hang on the wall or send to Grandma, but they would’ve been nice to post online and share with Facebook friends and whatnot … but Carnival doesn’t have an option like that. Well, they technically do, but you have to first purchase the original print for $22 and then you can get a digital copy for another $10!

We had about 20 photos that we liked, so that would’ve been $640 for 20 photos to post to Facebook … ha!!! 😯

Something like what Disney does at the parks with Photopass would be nice – pay $150 upfront and then get digital copies of everything, or maybe just cheaper per picture options instead. Again, it’s just sad to see all of that hard work and those nice memories go to waste, and yes, if 80-90% of photos are getting tossed, then they’re just not priced correctly.

Lost & Found (Back Home Again)
And lastly, while Carnival’s service was pretty much impeccable the whole time that we were at sea, I’ve got to say that it left something to be desired only hours after we had returned back home again. Fun story – not long after we got back home, I realized that all of our credit cards had disappeared. They had been in my pocket and somewhere between our room and our car, they must’ve fallen out. I first tried calling the bus company that carried us from the terminal to where our car was parked, but after they never answered the phone (not Carnival’s fault), I tried calling Carnival, thinking that maybe somebody could run and check in our room real quick before the boat went back out to sea again…

…and I was told that it would be 2-3 weeks before they could come up with anything! The lady I spoke with on the phone told me that “they were just too busy trying to get the boat back out” and “they couldn’t just stop to look for one person’s credit card,” which for me just reaffirmed what I read from a lot of forum posts online when I looked into their lost & found – Carnival’s customer service on land kinda sucks compared to their service out at sea!

I mean, I get that everybody is scrambling at that time because they literally have to turn over the entire ship in a matter of hours, but still – I wasn’t asking them to scour the ship, but simply have someone check in our room real quick to see if the cards were still on the desk or in the drawer where I thought I’d left them. I figured that someone on land would call a housekeeping manager on the ship, who’d then radio to our room steward to ask if she’d cleaned room 12201 yet and if so, had she found anything. And it wasn’t like I’d forgotten my sunglasses or something – we’d basically lost all of our access to money, and were trying to figure out how we were going to eat for the next couple of days!

But the lady on the phone calmly explained that they didn’t have time, and that their procedure was for the housekeeping staff to bag and catalog anything they’d found and turn it in to the terminal the next time it was in port (a week from then), and then everything would be shipped down to Carnival headquarters in Miami, where they have a lost & found that guests can call in to ask for.

At that point, knowing that I wasn’t even 100% sure that they were on the boat, I finally gave up and explained in less calm words that their procedure didn’t help me in the slightest, and that instead I’d just call my providers to report the cards lost and get new ones issued long before their process could ever have a chance to play out. I guess it was just a little disappointing – to be back on land and then realize that you don’t have people willing to bend over backwards to help you anymore.

Another random comment – when we were working our way to baggage claim after disembarking from the boat, I overheard a Carnival employee tell a guest, “The fun’s over now…” while we were waiting in line, so yeah – in general, Carnival’s service at land could stand to learn a thing or two from its service at sea.  😳

Still a fantastic vacation all in all, though, and I look forward to our next cruise just as soon as we can fit it into our budget and schedules! Not sure if it’ll be another trip on the Carnival Dream or a new ship & itinerary – the wife has already expressed an interest in exploring the other side of the Caribbean next time – but make no mistake about it … we’ll be back! :mrgreen:

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