I’ll start by saying the crew members on board were so very awesome! They went above & beyond to make us as comfortable as they could, all the while they were facing their own nightmare. We were told by a few that the bilge pumps were not working and their cabins were flooded with a few inches of water…unclean, nasty water. One poor steward we talked to said he was so exhausted by trudging up and down stairs that he fell into bed in his wet cabin with a pillow over his face to block the stench. Those folks have our gratitude.
We started off the trip on a bad note when our flight was delayed for 2 hours on the Friday beforehand because the incoming airplane was struck by lightning and we had to wait for a replacement aircraft. However we made the best of it by joking and laughing through the delay. We spent Friday & Saturday nights at the Residence Inn in Long Beach. Gorgeous city and the perfect hotel for cruisers!
Embarkation on Sunday was extremely disorganized and was not helped by delay caused by the USCG inspection. We finally made it on board then watched the workers try to fish luggage out of the water where a dozen or so bags had fallen out of a luggage crate. We watched a few sink. We joked that with our luck so far, those were probably our bags. Little did we know!!
We were asleep in our inside cabins on Deck 8 aft when we were awakened at 6 am Monday by the violent shaking. We were in the midst of getting dressed when the announcement came to move to the open decks. Our friend in the next cabin had popped out of bed & jumped in the shower immediately after the shaking stopped…the last hot shower for the next 3 days. We went up to Deck 9 aft pool area and staked out our little piece of the deck where we pretty much remained most of the day. At one point a couple hours into it I ran back to our cabin to grab a jacket for my daughter & found a tag stuck into our door that read “Cabin Evacuated”. That was pretty unsettling to say the least. The Deck 8 corridor remained smoky for several hours.
After it got dark each night we hung out in the corridor outside our rooms. We called it our front porch and we really got to know our neighbors. A couple neighbors were magicians onboard for a convention and they did some tricks for us. We had no working toilets until Tuesday overnight. We slept with our cabin door open and a chair the blocking the door with the minimal corridor lighting keeping us from being in total darkness. Over the next 3 days we used the light from our phones, I-Touch, and DD’s Nintendo DSI, especially in the bathroom once the water was back on. (Our across-the-corridor neighbors kept their door open as much as possible during the day to give us a little light from their balconies, but once the sun went down we were all in the same boat.)
The low point for me personally was Tuesday evening. John Heald made the announcement that we’d be going to San Diego & wouldn’t get there until Thursday evening, our toilets still weren’t working, they had closed whatever outside doors that had provided airflow through the Deck 8 corridors, and our cabin was hot & smelly. We just couldn’t stay in our room that night. We had friends with a balcony cabin but it was way too small for 5 extra people to crash there. We went to Guest Services to see if they could open those outer doors and she basically told us there was nothing she could do. She told us we could sleep wherever we wanted-- wherever we thought we’d be most comfortable. So we spent the next couple hours climbing and descending steps looking for a camping spot. We ended up on Deck 12 in the corridor by the spa. There are those nice wooden lounge chairs with the pads on the outside deck there. We dragged 5 chairs into the hallway, took 5 pads off other loungers to give us double-padding, found a crewmember that scrounged 5 sheets for us and lugged the comforters and pillows from our beds up the 4 flights of stairs. It turned out that the Coast Guard folks were camped in the spa that night too. They were onboard to help with the food drops, and by the time that was finished it was too dark and the sea was a little too rough for them to go back to the cutter in their little dingy.
Among the highlights was seeing the Ronald Reagan up close & watching the planes take off and land on the carrier deck. We’d been feeling pretty vulnerable out there in international waters, basically a sitting duck. The Mexican navy ship was there but it just didn’t give us the same warm, fuzzy feeling as seeing that magnificent United States aircraft carrier. Go Navy!
Yes, the food we ate was pretty horrible. But at least we didn’t go hungry. I will say for the record that it’ll be quite awhile before I have a hankering for watermelon or pineapple again. Those poor cooks were slapping everything on a sandwich that they could possibly find. Some more exotic selections that we experienced: “mayo and onion on a hot dog bun”; “corned beef, lettuce, and butter (Butter?! Just serve it dry for goodness sake!) on white bread”; “hot dog salad consisting of cut up raw hotdogs and some sort of slaw-like concoction”. We started calling them Wonder Bread Sandwiches because every time we got one we would wonder what was in the bread.
Carnival made our hotel arrangements for Thursday night at the Sheraton & flight arrangements for Friday. And if you asked us right when we disembarked, that would’ve been exactly what we wanted. But once we had a hot shower, a decent meal, and a good night’s sleep we decided, hey, let’s explore San Diego while we’re here. So we called Carnival to change our flight to Sunday…certainly NOT expecting them to cover our hotel for the next 2 nights. However that is what they offered to do, as well as give us a daily stipend for food. We did have to move to the Hilton Bayside as the Sheraton was booked. We packed in Old Town, Coronado Island, and the Gas Lamp district in 1-1/2 days of commando sight-seeing. Oh my, San Diego is beautiful!
We are very pleased with the way Carnival has handled this and have no complaints whatsoever. They have already processed the cruise refund credit back to our credit card, we have instructions on how to submit the documentation for the transportation refund, and we are already discussing where to go on our free cruise.