Cruise Ship: Carnival Spirit
Cruise Destination: San Diego to Acapulco and the Mexican Riviera
Cruise Dates: November 30, 2007
Guest Contributor: Mike and Robyn
Our first cruise and we feel the need to comment.
First the good stuff: Overall, the food was very good. No complaints. The room was beautiful and very comfortable. We booked a suite with a large balcony, and it was the best decision we made even for the extra money. The dining rooms were nice and eating experiences were pleasant. Our room steward was pleasant and attentive. We made some wonderful new friends. The cruise director was fantastic! The ship was very nice and the motion on the water comfortable.
Things we really didn't enjoy: The whole experience on board seemed to be all about trying to up-sell the guests. We were nickeled and dimed to death. When you arrive on board at the first lunch you are handed a "Welcome aboard" fancy drink with one of those little umbrellas which the waiter hands out. Just as an afterthought, he asks for your room card. Turns out that they are $9.00 each so we handed them back. They strangely turned up on our bill anyway! Non alcoholic drinks (pop and juice) entailed purchasing a $45. "fountain card". If you were sitting out at the pool and a waiter asked if you wanted a drink, this card did not cover this service. Extra payment required. By the way, we avoided the pools (which were tiny) as there were often parents with kids in diapers(!)in the water. Yuck.
It only took a day to realize that most of the staff were not very happy people. The rare staff member would flash a smile (I think twice on during the week) but unless there was a sale of some sort to be made from you, these were few and far between. Actually, some of the staff were quite short and almost rude. Answers to questions were generally one or two words and clearly not meant to promote any further conversation. This all seemed to change on the last day after a speech we all got about "tips" and staff appreciation. All of a sudden many of the staff were much nicer and smiled more! I can't really blame these people as, after inquiring around, I discovered many are on a 6 month shift - with no days off! Their pay for being away from their families this long is probably pretty minimal so no wonder they're this way.
The procedures for getting off the ship, except where we had to take the boat tenders strangely enough, were unpleasant in the extreme! The first day when in port the line to get out was about 40 - 45 minutes along a hot, crowded and claustrophobic hallway, then downstairs and finally to the exit ramp and off. A number of people were pretty angry and sure that they had missed the buses for the shore excursions, which were sold to them on-board ship. The holdup was a pair of ship photographers at the base of the ramp with a costumed actor stopping each guest disembarking to have a picture taken with him, effectively blocking those passengers behind. These photos were later to appear along racks for sale to the ships guests.
The ship has a "library" on board which I was looking forward to spending some time in for a nice quiet read. The reality is that there are very few seats available here for this purpose. All the rest are Internet access computers available for $0.75/minute or in large blocks of time at a cheaper rate. Wi-Fi is available at almost any coffee shop free with the purchase of a $2.00 cup of coffee at home. This signal is also $0.75 a minute on board! Does having a captive audience mean you have to overcharge this much?
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