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Bare Bones Cruising


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Let me start by saying that I love Carnival.  Or at least I used to.  DH and I have been cruising with Carnival since 1996 and have enjoyed every minute of each cruise, even if we missed a port due to weather or things weren't optimal.  However - We were on the 14 day Southern Caribbean cruise on the Pride from Baltimore January 6th - 20th, 2019, and were really underwhelmed.  

 

Our preference is the Spirit and Fantasy classes of Carnival ships.  We've found that ships over 100,000 GT are simply too big for us.  Luckily, there are lots of choices for us and Carnival has fit the bill for us many times.  Most of our cruises have been over 10 days because we have to travel from Fairbanks, Alaska to embark.

 

Unfortunately, Carnival has taken so many of the little touches away, that there is really nothing special about cruising Carnival anymore.  We especially noticed the lack of service on this cruise.  In the main dining room, most nights our food was served almost cold, and our dirty plates were left on the table through most of the meal.  When dessert was coming around, the server would pick up the dirty plate or push it aside to put the dessert in front of us.  Please note that this was late seating, and the dining room was not full for this seating the entire cruise.  There were empty tables all around us every night.

 

One day we sat at a table near the Serenity bar to play a game of cards and there were dirty dishes on it that we pushed aside.  It was over an hour before they were removed.

 

We noticed the lack of drink servers around the pool, and in the afternoons our dinner waiter was the only person out by the mid ship pool wandering around to see if anyone needed anything.  So they've reduced staff and want to work the dining room staff to death?  Weird.  

 

Our cabin, including the bathroom, did not get a full cleaning the entire 2 weeks.  I cleaned the dust off of shelves myself.  Towels were always replaced, garbage was taken out and the beds were made, but I do not believe they vacuumed the entire 14 days.

 

Since this was a Journeys cruise, they advertised the "Gala Midnight Buffet", but it was held in the lido buffet and it was by no means the gala event of days gone by.  We've been on many Journeys cruises (and many cruises where the midnight and Gala midnight buffets were a regular thing), and this was simply a regular buffet with a few fancy cakes and ice sculptures.  In the past this was held in the main dining room, where all of the tables in the middle were moved to make room for a long table and very fancy appetizers, desserts and fabulous munchables.  

 

Another thing we noticed that on port days, we'd come back on board hungry around 3 PM and all that was available was a Guys burger, a sandwich from the deli, pizza or room service.  They used to keep the lido buffet open later on port days and were really disappointed that we didn't have more of a choice of what to eat in the afternoon.

 

And speaking of room service, just prior to this cruise it was announced that there would be a charge for room service beginning in mid January.  Then I'd read here on CC that Carnival started charging on January 1st.  THEN it was announced that they were going to rethink this, so on our sailing (January 6th), things were back to "normal", only charging for room service after 10 PM.  

 

Gratuities went up (again) to $13.99 per day and the service was not good.  There simply aren't enough staff to warrant this change.  The auto gratuities for cocktails, sodas, specialty coffees, etc. went up from 15% to 18%.  Why, when you have to go get it yourself?

 

There are other issues as well.  Don't get me wrong, we had a great cruise (we always do!), but I am not interested in bare bones cruising.  I want to be pampered just a little.  I like tablecloths.  I don't like dust.  I like it when a bar waiter comes around and asks me what I'd like when I'm in my pool chair.  I don't like sitting next to dirty dishes.

 

So at this point, I have to say that I won't be booking anymore Carnival cruises.  We used to love Royal Caribbean until they changed so many things about the way they did business.  We haven't sailed on them since 2007.  Carnival has now changed so many things.  It's too bad.  Like I mentioned before, there are plenty of choices for us as far as cruising goes, and we are booked on 2 sailings that will better suit our wants and needs.  

 

Carnival may be going in a direction that is better to new cruisers and their new ships.  For the loyal passengers who have been around a while, (at least for us), there is no reason to go back anytime soon.

 

Thanks for reading, and please don't flame me.  This is simply my own humble opinion.

 

 

 

Edited by Taters
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11 minutes ago, Taters said:

Let me start by saying that I love Carnival.  Or at least I used to.  DH and I have been cruising with Carnival since 1996 and have enjoyed every minute of each cruise, even if we missed a port due to weather or things weren't optimal.  However - We were on the 14 day Southern Caribbean cruise on the Pride from Baltimore January 6th - 20th, 2019, and were really underwhelmed.  

 

Our preference is the Spirit and Fantasy classes of Carnival ships.  We've found that ships over 100,000 GT are simply too big for us.  Luckily, there are lots of choices for us and Carnival has fit the bill for us many times.  Most of our cruises have been over 10 days because we have to travel from Fairbanks, Alaska to embark.

 

Unfortunately, Carnival has taken so many of the little touches away, that there is really nothing special about cruising Carnival anymore.  We especially noticed the lack of service on this cruise.  In the main dining room, most nights our food was served almost cold, and our dirty plates were left on the table through most of the meal.  When dessert was coming around, the server would pick up the dirty plate or push it aside to put the dessert in front of us.  Please note that this was late seating, and the dining room was not full for this seating the entire cruise.  There were empty tables all around us every night.

 

One day we sat at a table near the Serenity bar to play a game of cards and there were dirty dishes on it that we pushed aside.  It was over an hour before they were removed.

 

We noticed the lack of drink servers around the pool, and in the afternoons our dinner waiter was the only person out by the mid ship pool wandering around to see if anyone needed anything.  So they've reduced staff and want to work the dining room staff to death?  Weird.  

 

Our cabin, including the bathroom, did not get a full cleaning the entire 2 weeks.  I cleaned the dust off of shelves myself.  Towels were always replaced, garbage was taken out and the beds were made, but I do not believe they vacuumed the entire 14 days.

 

Since this was a Journeys cruise, they advertised the "Gala Midnight Buffet", but it was held in the lido buffet and it was by no means the gala event of days gone by.  We've been on many Journeys cruises (and many cruises where the midnight and Gala midnight buffets were a regular thing), and this was simply a regular buffet with a few fancy cakes and ice sculptures.  In the past this was held in the main dining room, where all of the tables in the middle were moved to make room for a long table and very fancy appetizers, desserts and fabulous munchables.  

 

Another thing we noticed that on port days, we'd come back on board hungry around 3 PM and all that was available was a Guys burger, a sandwich from the deli, pizza or room service.  They used to keep the lido buffet open later on port days and were really disappointed that we didn't have more of a choice of what to eat in the afternoon.

 

And speaking of room service, just prior to this cruise it was announced that there would be a charge for room service beginning in mid January.  Then I'd read here on CC that Carnival started charging on January 1st.  THEN it was announced that they were going to rethink this, so on our sailing (January 6th), things were back to "normal", only charging for room service after 10 PM.  

 

Gratuities went up (again) to $13.99 per day and the service was not good.  There simply aren't enough staff to warrant this change.  The auto gratuities for cocktails, sodas, specialty coffees, etc. went up from 15% to 18%.  Why, when you have to go get it yourself?

 

There are other issues as well.  Don't get me wrong, we had a great cruise (we always do!), but I am not interested in bare bones cruising.  I want to be pampered just a little.  I like tablecloths.  I don't like dust.  I like it when a bar waiter comes around and asks me what I'd like when I'm in my pool chair.  I don't like sitting next to dirty dishes.

 

So at this point, I have to say that I won't be booking anymore Carnival cruises.  We used to love Royal Caribbean until they changed so many things about the way they did business.  We haven't sailed on them since 2007.  Carnival has now changed so many things.  It's too bad.  Like I mentioned before, there are plenty of choices for us as far as cruising goes, and we are booked on 2 sailings that will better suit our wants and needs.  

 

Carnival may be going in a direction that is better to new cruisers and their new ships.  For the loyal passengers who have been around a while, (at least for us), there is no reason to go back anytime soon.

 

Thanks for reading, and please don't flame me.  This is simply my own humble opinion.

 

 

 

 

I definitely agree with a lot of what you said.  I've seen many changes over the years. We have branched out to other cruise lines, also.  We still cruise on Carnival now and again. Thanks for offering your opinion.

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I think you have some legitimate complaints.  I always dust myself at least once per cruise.  At first entering the cabin, I go over everything with Lysol Wipes. I never really noticed how many times our cabin is vacuumed, but we've never cruised over 8 days.  We have been on cruises where the service was less than expected.  We have even been on cruises where the steward never introduced himself.  Then there are the cruises where everything is near perfect.  I agree with you about the dirty dishes on the table. There is really no excuse for that.  I hope this cruise for you was just an isolated incident. 

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I agree with many of your points.  I also agree with your conclusion that Carnival is more interested in first time cruisers than in building a long-term customer base.

 

I chuckled at your comment about room service going back to the normal by charging for room service only after 10:00 pm.  The normal I remember is when there was no charge for 24 hour room service, and a delightful shrimp salad was on the menu.

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I agree with most of what you've said.  I've cruised with Carnival many times and still occasionally do... heck I'm on the Dream next week, but I also cruise with most of the other main players so I can compare what every line offers and how they're changing over time.

 

It's undeniable that Carnival's offering and level of service has been steadily declining over the last 4-5 years.  Only wilfully blind fanboys can claim otherwise, but it's up to each of us to decide where we draw our line and you drew yours.  I cruise Carnival to accompany friends and I have a great time on their ships, but I certainly lower my expectations based on my experiences.  

 

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20 minutes ago, coevan said:

I don't ever remember the the lunch buffet open past 3. I also don't remember a midnight buffet in the MDR, always on the Lido deck.

 

I remember midnight buffets in the MDR back in the 1990's, when they were really lavish and people would first line up to take photos before getting in line to actually eat. 

 

The decline is not just Carnival, though. Back in the 90's some of the Royal Caribbean itineraries offered midnight buffets with all you could eat lobster. I remember one night we sat with Bowser (from Sha Na Na), the ship's Captain, and a few other people and ate lobster until there was a big pile of lobster tail shells in the middle of the table.

Edited by SRQbeachgirl
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5 minutes ago, SRQbeachgirl said:

 

I remember midnight buffets in the MDR back in the 1990's, when they were really lavish and people would first line up to take photos before getting in line to actually eat.

 

I remember when they held the midnight buffets in the MDR, but not from personal experience! My hubby & I made it a point to do our best to stay awake to at least go see it, if not actually eat there... but nope! Not once on any of our cruises when they still held them were we ever able to make it to the midnight buffet without falling asleep! We still laugh about what live wires we are, that we couldn't even stay awake til midnight!

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I agree with a lot of things you said and with wanting to attract new cruisers. We won't commit to any cruise line, especially Carnival. We move around lines every year and don't settle. We only sail Carnival once in while because we have kids or for a cheap get away. Having sailed Carnival, Royal, NCL, Holland, MSC, Princess, and Celebrity next year has taught me alot about cruising, experiences, and expectations. Too many people, in my not-so-important opinion, stick only with Carnival and seem to settle for a little less of this or that every year and just accept it. By moving around you don't fall into a rut and your options expand...... If you don't like them, go elsewhere ..... To me, no line offers me enough to sail solely with them and that is true even with Carnival's low prices. They are only worth it when the value and service meets or hopefully exceeds the cost of what you paid for it. I felt the food on the Vista cruise we had was beyond horrible but others are satisfied with a simple greasy Guy's burger ..... It was bad enough to make sure we didn't come back around again for a few years ...... The problem is too many new cruisers don't know how it used to be in the past for many. 

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34 minutes ago, coevan said:

I don't ever remember the the lunch buffet open past 3. I also don't remember a midnight buffet in the MDR, always on the Lido deck.

The only midnight buffet we actually made it to was in the MDR in 1991 on the Jubilee. They made quite a fuss about it, and I did like the ice sculptures. But we never bothered again.

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1 hour ago, bury me at sea said:

I agree with many of your points.  I also agree with your conclusion that Carnival is more interested in first time cruisers than in building a long-term customer base.

 

I chuckled at your comment about room service going back to the normal by charging for room service only after 10:00 pm.  The normal I remember is when there was no charge for 24 hour room service, and a delightful shrimp salad was on the menu.

Oh yes!  There used to be no charge at all for room service.  But the change to after 10 PM was several years ago.  I remember that shrimp salad.  😊

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1 hour ago, SRQbeachgirl said:

 

I remember midnight buffets in the MDR back in the 1990's, when they were really lavish and people would first line up to take photos before getting in line to actually eat. 

 

The decline is not just Carnival, though. Back in the 90's some of the Royal Caribbean itineraries offered midnight buffets with all you could eat lobster. I remember one night we sat with Bowser (from Sha Na Na), the ship's Captain, and a few other people and ate lobster until there was a big pile of lobster tail shells in the middle of the table.

I remember those late night, extravagant seafood buffets, too!  It was awesome!

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1 hour ago, Sea Hag said:

The only midnight buffet we actually made it to was in the MDR in 1991 on the Jubilee. They made quite a fuss about it, and I did like the ice sculptures. But we never bothered again.

We went to one in February 1991 aboard the Jubilee. While it was nice we preferred the Midnight Pizza Buffet in the dining room. There were 8 varieties of pizza and lots of staff on hand servicing the room offering cocktails and others keeping the pizzas well stocked on the buffet. Of course Fantasy Class 24/7 pizza was just coming to Carnival so the pizza buffet was a slice of heaven, so to say. Some nights we were heading for bed when the staff were serving the 1:30am buffet of sandwiches and salads set up outside the casino. Thanks for the memory of the Jubilee.

Edited by sanmarcosman
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7 minutes ago, Elaine5715 said:

You can't have a luxury experience on a budget,  That is why Rodeway hotels and JW Marriott both exist.   You get what you pay for.

 

I totally agree that more money should equal better quality.  That used to be the case with Carnival. You spent less to cruise and had an acceptable experience.  Carnival was the value cruise line. I cruised many times on Carnival with that expectation in mind. On many occasions, my expectations were exceeded.  Lately however, my expectations haven't been met AND the cost of the cruise was the same as more upscale lines.  That is my disappointment. My biggest complaint is with the food quality.  My opinion.  You may disagree.  I'm okay with that.    

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I agree with basically everything the OP stated.  There is no doubt Carnival is focusing on attracting the first time cruiser. New cruisers won’t know what they are missing, because it is all new to them.  I don’t think Carnival cares too much about attracting repeat business, which is why the outstanding service Carnival provided in the past seems to be going by the wayside.  Carnival also knows there are thousands and thousands of D&P members, the majority who will continue to sail on Carnival no matter how many changes are implemented. 

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58 minutes ago, PhillyFan33579 said:

I agree with basically everything the OP stated.  There is no doubt Carnival is focusing on attracting the first time cruiser. New cruisers won’t know what they are missing, because it is all new to them.  I don’t think Carnival cares too much about attracting repeat business, which is why the outstanding service Carnival provided in the past seems to be going by the wayside.  Carnival also knows there are thousands and thousands of D&P members, the majority who will continue to sail on Carnival no matter how many changes are implemented. 

maybe because the "changes" are across cruise lines?

 

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6 hours ago, Taters said:

Let me start by saying that I love Carnival.  Or at least I used to.  DH and I have been cruising with Carnival since 1996 and have enjoyed every minute of each cruise, even if we missed a port due to weather or things weren't optimal.  However - We were on the 14 day Southern Caribbean cruise on the Pride from Baltimore January 6th - 20th, 2019, and were really underwhelmed.  

 

Our preference is the Spirit and Fantasy classes of Carnival ships.  We've found that ships over 100,000 GT are simply too big for us.  Luckily, there are lots of choices for us and Carnival has fit the bill for us many times.  Most of our cruises have been over 10 days because we have to travel from Fairbanks, Alaska to embark.

 

Unfortunately, Carnival has taken so many of the little touches away, that there is really nothing special about cruising Carnival anymore.  We especially noticed the lack of service on this cruise.  In the main dining room, most nights our food was served almost cold, and our dirty plates were left on the table through most of the meal.  When dessert was coming around, the server would pick up the dirty plate or push it aside to put the dessert in front of us.  Please note that this was late seating, and the dining room was not full for this seating the entire cruise.  There were empty tables all around us every night.

 

One day we sat at a table near the Serenity bar to play a game of cards and there were dirty dishes on it that we pushed aside.  It was over an hour before they were removed.

 

We noticed the lack of drink servers around the pool, and in the afternoons our dinner waiter was the only person out by the mid ship pool wandering around to see if anyone needed anything.  So they've reduced staff and want to work the dining room staff to death?  Weird.  

 

Our cabin, including the bathroom, did not get a full cleaning the entire 2 weeks.  I cleaned the dust off of shelves myself.  Towels were always replaced, garbage was taken out and the beds were made, but I do not believe they vacuumed the entire 14 days.

 

Since this was a Journeys cruise, they advertised the "Gala Midnight Buffet", but it was held in the lido buffet and it was by no means the gala event of days gone by.  We've been on many Journeys cruises (and many cruises where the midnight and Gala midnight buffets were a regular thing), and this was simply a regular buffet with a few fancy cakes and ice sculptures.  In the past this was held in the main dining room, where all of the tables in the middle were moved to make room for a long table and very fancy appetizers, desserts and fabulous munchables.  

 

Another thing we noticed that on port days, we'd come back on board hungry around 3 PM and all that was available was a Guys burger, a sandwich from the deli, pizza or room service.  They used to keep the lido buffet open later on port days and were really disappointed that we didn't have more of a choice of what to eat in the afternoon.

 

And speaking of room service, just prior to this cruise it was announced that there would be a charge for room service beginning in mid January.  Then I'd read here on CC that Carnival started charging on January 1st.  THEN it was announced that they were going to rethink this, so on our sailing (January 6th), things were back to "normal", only charging for room service after 10 PM.  

 

Gratuities went up (again) to $13.99 per day and the service was not good.  There simply aren't enough staff to warrant this change.  The auto gratuities for cocktails, sodas, specialty coffees, etc. went up from 15% to 18%.  Why, when you have to go get it yourself?

 

There are other issues as well.  Don't get me wrong, we had a great cruise (we always do!), but I am not interested in bare bones cruising.  I want to be pampered just a little.  I like tablecloths.  I don't like dust.  I like it when a bar waiter comes around and asks me what I'd like when I'm in my pool chair.  I don't like sitting next to dirty dishes.

 

So at this point, I have to say that I won't be booking anymore Carnival cruises.  We used to love Royal Caribbean until they changed so many things about the way they did business.  We haven't sailed on them since 2007.  Carnival has now changed so many things.  It's too bad.  Like I mentioned before, there are plenty of choices for us as far as cruising goes, and we are booked on 2 sailings that will better suit our wants and needs.  

 

Carnival may be going in a direction that is better to new cruisers and their new ships.  For the loyal passengers who have been around a while, (at least for us), there is no reason to go back anytime soon.

 

Thanks for reading, and please don't flame me.  This is simply my own humble opinion.

 

Sounds like you are HAL bound, sorry you were disappointed.  Happy cruising.

 

 

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2 hours ago, Elaine5715 said:

You can't have a luxury experience on a budget,  That is why Rodeway hotels and JW Marriott both exist.   You get what you pay for.

 

If you had it 20 years ago why not now?.carnival isn't a bargain any more.f or my cruise next summer carnival was not a good deal.i booked elsewhere.its not a problem they all need to fill ships.

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14 minutes ago, fyree39 said:

More like floating resorts, but, you're still right.

 

26 minutes ago, Elaine5715 said:

Cruise ships are just floating hotels

 

Any Hotel I've had the pleasure of visiting allowed me to bring my favorite brand of Bourbon into my room.  Without question ,or any chances of being confiscated . But then that's another story 😉

Edited by BoDidly
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