Carnival Cruise Ships
New Orleans, Louisiana
Carnival Cruise Ships New Orleans Reviews
Dec 27, 2006
I went on my first Cruise with Carnival on the 11. of December. Departure was from New Orleans, ports of call Cozumel and Costa Maya. I kept a diary of the day to day, but decided to save all tediousness and get to the point I want to make here.
I will begin this missive by including the letter I sent to Guest Relations following the cruise:
...We were both extremely excited about going on this adventure together, and counted the many days until our departure.
My first impression, being in the cruise terminal, was awe. The ship was a leviathan, and I was eager to explore it. The one thing that bothered me right away was the photographers. Although I am a photographer myself, I never pressure my customers. I let them come to me. I understand the concepts of driving sales, but the photographers seemed almost offended, even a bit pushy, because my aunt and I did not want our pictures taken before climbing aboard. These photographers would continue to be everywhere, and constantly bother us about taking our photos throughout the cruise.
Upon entering into the ship, I was struck at the chaos. There were so many people and suitcases everywhere, and I saw onlyone woman welcoming and assisting guests. She appeared overwhelmed, though she was very friendly and tried to meet everyone's needs.
The overall appearance of the ship was reminiscent of an old town Vegas casino, and even had that faint smell of stale cigarettes.
The size of the cabin was a shock, especially not having a window. We tried to upgrade at registration, but we were informed the ship was already full. Mental note to self was to never again book a windowless cabin...in fact it comes as a great surprise that any cruise ship would offer rooms without a window. This fact would lead to great disorientation during the cruise. However, the lighting had a comfortable glow, and the glass screen with the beach scene added an extra touch of comfort. In addition, the infamous bedding was a delight and it really helped in providing a good night's sleep from the second night on.
Thegreatest annoyance to start our journey with was the emergency drill. I am not a fan of big crowds. Especially when everybody is coming and going to and from the same place. It seemed my aunt and I were waiting in the lounge for hours, just waiting for everyone to get there so that the drill could begin. Once we were ushered outside to the waiting life boats, we were cramming out there like sardines; and when that bell to dismiss came on, it was a bumrush back to the cabins or other parts of the ship for dinner.
I loved the food! I loved that there was a sushi bar with differing daily selections, 24 hour pizza, and the great buffet. The official nightly dinner was an event we always looked forward to, and I was duly impressed by the selections.
Our two waiters were from Thailand and Peru; they were both hard to understand, and we confused then greatly with our liberal use of sarcasm…the “just kiddings” sometimes came too late. Overall, they were friendly and attentive, but there were many nights when we asked for something, and it took forever to arrive. Even if the waittress offered us a refill ona drink, it often took a long time until it finally arrived.
Being on this ship waslike being in a vegas hotel/casino. The carpeting, the decor, the lighting – it wasall gaudy. Neon signs, wickedly colorful carpeting, and the smell of stale cigarettes.We almost started to feel like we were on land, until we hit open water. I could not believe how much the ship was rocking and swaying. My aunt I were back in our cabins before 10 that night, and I don't believe we were able to sleep at all. Sure, it does take some time to adjust, especially it being our first trip, but there were times when we felt like we were lifting off.
The night was spent in a literal toss and turn. Not having the benefit of a window by which to gauge twilight and daylight, it seemed I never slept. Even when being woken by my aunt at 10 in the morning, it felt as though it was still the night before. Feeling boyed by the waves, getting that disjointed sensation of physically leaving the bed while asleep, hearing the thundering and pounding of feet in the halls above and outside, there could have possibly been more to keep me as far away from sleep. However, my one boon was the signature bedding which wrapped me in warmth and comfort throughout the night. I could not believe that the crew door was right next to our room! Unbelievable! If there wasn't stomping and banging from the neighbor kids, there was banging and stomping from the crew to our left.
The formal night was half as exciting, due to the ship swaying so much that guests found it difficult not to lose their balance, or their footing. Even the captain noticed that the rocking and swaying was unusual. However, dinner that night was phenomenal!
Finally, as the day of our first shore excursion to Cozumel arrived, we could not contain our anxieties. We were up very early, even to get tender on the first ferry from the ship to the pier. It would take nearly two hours from the time we arrived in the universe lounge, to when we boarded the 400 passenger ferry to the pier. Unreal! What made that fact worse was that we tried to reserve two spots on the excursion to Xcaret, and there had been only 60 available reservations for that particular excursion, out of more than 2000 people on this cruise! Xcaret is a very popular attraction here, especially due to all of the various activities and sights it has to offer. My aunt and I had to take a taxi to a ferry terminal miles down the island, get another taxi when we arrived in playa del carmen, and finally made it. At that time we had perhaps 5 hours to enjoy the entire park, as we had to back on the ship by 6:15. Note that we did not arrive in Playa Del Carmen until about 11am, and we had been ready to leave at 8:00 that morning!
Docking right on the pier the next day made things a lot easier, but my aunt and I reflected on the poor planning and preparation the previous morning. Great disappointment at how little time we had to devote to explore the ports of call, and that we were offered virtually no assistance or apologies in assisting us in getting us to where we wanted to go.
Disembarkation is sheer madness! When we returned to New Orleans, my aunt and myself were ready to go. We had our luggage, and just sat in the room waiting and waiting. It was 7:30 in the morning, and we were supposed to be getting off the ship within a half hour. To make a long and arduous morning short, we did not get off the ship until after 9am! People were being locked out of state rooms, or being trapped in the corridors for hours! More than an hour of our morningwas spent being trapped in acorridor with hundreds of other passengers. We were literally locked in there, as all doors and entryways to the main disembarkation area were closed.
I heard my name being called by the Purser's desk, and could not even get to them. So,I calledfrom aphone in the card roomand thegirl informed me that I went over my credit limit. I told her that my American Express card isa no limit charge card, and that this was not possible. She put me on hold, and when she came back on stated that it was her mistake, my card was fine. However, the reason they called me was because they had found my debit card. Hence, I tried to find my way down there. A passenger on the other side of the doors sealing the main area of the ship let me in. When I arrived at the Purser's, the girl had no idea what I was talking about. She could not find my debit card, and then she asked me if I was sure that I lost my debit card! For clarification purposes, I had lost it in the casino area the night before! I was given the contact information to guest relations, and was sent on my way. Back to waiting and waiting. Many people were very upset because they had early flights to catch, including my aunt and myself. We were told that it was taking so long because we had not been cleared by customs. People coming to the information desk were merely told, "Sorry, we can't let you off the ship"
I will close by saying that I felt embarkation and disembarkation was a disorganized mess, shore excursions even more of a hassle, the staff photographers pesky and a nuisance, and many of the crew members desperately in need of education in hospitality. Our steward was wonderful in maintaining our room, and seeing to our needs, and I commend only him out of all the crew members on board.
When I received the comment card the night before I had to be honest.
There were few things that exceeded my expectations:
Housekeeping Staff (I always saw somebody cleaning, somewhere)
Daily Servicing of our Stateroom (every time we left the room we came back to a tidy and clean living space)
Overall Food Quality (impressive considering the large quantities)
Room Service and Delivery and Promptness
I was unable to turn in my comment card, but remember what "Big Tex" said at the disembarkation meeting..."If we don't exceed your expectations, we fail." Well, sorry to say that Carnival got an F on this exam. Things like overall cleanliness of the ship (vomit in the stairwells) or Revue Shows (yikes!) I simply was not impressed with, and I have to be honest.
my bestpiece of advice:
If the cruise ship is scheduled to leave at four, don’t get there at 2 or 3, but hours in advance! Though our reservation stated that boarding began at 1:30, our itinerary for that day listed an embarkation lunch beginning at 11:30am.
There are often long lines for people waiting to register for boarding cards and room keys. We were in line for perhaps a half hour, and knew that we should have gotten there much sooner; instead we were riding around in the decimated 9th district of New Orleans with a cabbie.
The standard cabin is very tiny, with two small twin beds, but quite comfortable bedding and pillow. A personal steward is assigned to each room to attend to all the guest’s needs, which is wonderful. If you are likely to develop “cabin fever,” make sure you have a room with a window. Ours did not come with one, and we felt boxed in a lot. However, lighting fixtures and corner lights with happy beach scenes create a comfortable ambiance.
Day 1 of cruise:
I sampled salmon nigiri at the small sushi bar,fun ship cocktails, and then ventured over to windows on the sea for pizza. I tried my first capricioso, which is anchovies and capers. Aside from the anchovie, the pizza was quite good.
Two hours later we are officially at dinner, where we had some great choices for entrees like pork ribs, filet mignon, black tiger shrimp, corn fed chicken breast, or black angus burgers.
Appetizer: Grilled satay of chicken tenderloin with peanut butter sauce
Entrée: Grilled, aged filet mignon with 3 peppercorn sauce
Dessert: Black Forest Gateau (choc. Cake filled with bing cherries, heavy cream, and kirschwasser)
how does a cruise ship feel?
The sensation takes me back to last February in San Diego, when I thought it would be a good idea to venture on a whale watching cruise. Not only did the boat and its occupants get tossed about on the turbulent Pacific, but more than half the boat tossed its cookies overboard, onboard, or in the bathrooms. I am having horrible flashbacks, my stomach is queasy, and I am debating between calling our steward for motion sickness pills, or calling room service for a jack on the rocks…
Day 2 of the cruise:
The morning began with my traditional cup of joe, sitting in one of the gallerias, feeling the not so gentle sway of the ship. Looking outside into boundless reaches of water, did ease the queasy discomforts, but also filled me with a dread that I would not want to abandon ship here, in an emergency.
The winds were high, so the jogging track was closed. I resigned myself to the gym and the ad infinitum invisible treadmill. After a mile of facing the ocean waves, and a heartrate of 190, I was headed back down to the cabin for a shower. Hot, sweaty, looking like someone suffering from sea sickness, I was headed for a new adventure into the shower stall! Luckily, it was narrow enough for me not to bowl over and hit my head with the unpredictable sway of the boat. Though the water pressure was excellent, the temperature alternated between hot and cold, based on how many times my neighbors were flushing their toilets.
So, off to to the lunch buffet. I munched on a fresh salad from the salad bar, and experienced a pleasant surprise when I found that part of the buffet’s menu today was Indian food. Yellow curry soup with potato and apple, curried roast chicken, and nan dipped in mint chutney satisfied my cravings. Paired with the motion sickness pills from the steward, we both began to feel a bit better. The next two hours were whiled away on the top deck, in sunchairs facing the ocean, as we read books. It was warm and sunny up there, facing away from the crowds and the noise, though the wind was a bit numbing.
I don’t know if I am eager to engage in any of the activities that the boat has to offer. I would rather curl up in the cabin’s bed and find a more settling peace. I would rather not be up there right now, falling or tripping into other passengers.
Formal night was unenventful…the captains reception consisted of everyone in their half most proper attire trying not to trip with the swaying ship, on stage, while the music played on. We were in the front row, sipping free champagne and whiskey sours, and contemplating what was in our hors d’ouevres.
Dinner was the big event of the day, where I feasted on roasted pumpkin soup, black tiger shrimp cocktail, and broiled maine lobster tail for dinner! Paired with a mushroom risotto, we were all impressed. And so the day came to another end, and we were eager to cease being queens for the day. This night we would find a deep and calming sleep, thanks to motion sickness pills.
Days 3 and 4 we were in our ports of call of Cozumel and Costa Maya, and then we were headed back to New Orleans.
HIghlights on the ship were the dinners, where I had everything from escargot bourgogne to delectable veal cutlets, to chateaubriand steak with bearnaise.
If you like to eat like royalty, and be king and queen of the swine...this is your date with destiny.
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!