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Old January 30th, 2012, 08:34 AM
beenie weenie's Avatar
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Good Morning CruiseMates!
We have returned from our cruise and while our trip got off to a rocky start after winding up in ditch (thankful to be alive after hitting a patch of black ice and spinning down the Interstate and into the median with no damage to us or the car, thanks to my Husband's stiglike driving skills... personally I think the Stig might try slowing down a little more in hazardous driving conditions ) and then sitting on the Interstate for several hours as they cleared wreck after wreck from the subsequent ice storm. It was a mind numbing experience. We didn't get to our hotel in Sikeston, Mo (which should have been a 5 hour drive, but ended up being at least 10 hours)until 5:30 a.m., we slept until 11:00 a.m. then grabbed breakfast and headed on down the road to Metairie, just outside NOLA arriving there at 8:30 p.m. We were so exhausted. We ordered dinner in from City Diner. A nice young man delivered some yummy NOLA cuisine and we went to bed with happy full tummies. We awoke the next morning had breakfast, called a cab and arrived at the cruise terminal by 10:30.
Normally we stay in New Orleans, generally by the Superdome or Convention Center, but I had a bunch of Marriott Points and used them on a free night at the Residence Inn in Metairie. They let us leave the car all week long while we were gone and it was nice and comfortable and very clean and quiet in a very safe area, which was exactly what we needed after our crazy trip.
The ship was in pretty good shape. I was on the Liberty when it was new, and the Concordia in 2008 (these are all the same class of ships) and really I thought the Conquest had held up pretty well. Embarkation, disembarkation and tendering in Grand Cayman were flawless and could not have gone any better. Crew were friendly for the most part and our room stewards did a great job as did the Camp Carnival staff.
The weak points were primarily dealing with anytime dining. The first night went well. The 2nd night entailed standing in line for over 40 minutes, and once we reached the Hostess we were handed a buzzer. If I were a stock holder I would have had a stroke. Had they given all those people standing in line a buzzer right away, they might have been at the bar buying drinks or buying merchandise in the gift shops. The 3rd night there was another long line into the dining room so we gave up and went to the buffet (which I usually detest lol, but I detest wasting my vacation standing in lines more) I found that much of what was being served in the dining room also showed up in the buffet. The quality of beef was terrible, especially the prime rib which I could not cut, even with a steak knife , and the last night they served was supposed to be crab cakes, and it smelled like rancid cat food. I asked one of the food service managers to check on it, and it was immediately removed from the buffet... I have no idea what was in it, but I doubt it was crab, and whatever it was, seemed to be well past its prime.
Breakfast and lunch was fine in the buffet. The chocolate buffet that usually shows up late one evening of the cruise, I must have missed (which is fine lol) but I didn't see it advertised in the daily. It is possible I overlooked it but the nice thing is they actually brought out all the wonderful chocolate desserts during the afternoon on the last sea day. Which I thought was brilliant. I just can't stay up that late, and the last thing I want to do is go to sleep after eating a bunch of rich chocolate. I really liked that.
The only other issue I had was with the young women at the Guest Services desk... they loved to provoke an argument. I went to check on our OBC, which of course did not show up on our account. The young lady begins to tell me how it was of course the fault of our travel agent, who in her opinion obviously didn't take care of it, because it could not have possibly been Carnival's fault... and then I made the mistake of asking if we could change from anytime dining to a fixed dining time to avoid the long wait times then it became a discussion about how she felt "anytime dining" is a matter of personal preference and basically if we wanted to have anytime dining, we should expect to wait etc... basically I found them to be lacking in customer skills... and needing some training in this area.
I had originally made reservations at the Pointe Steakhouse and for the "Chef's Table" but was somewhat underwhelmed by the food quality (pertaining to meat and seafood), I decided not to risk it and cancelled them rather than spending $150 for the Chef's Table and then $70 for the steakhouse and perhaps having a less than satisfactory experience).

So in a nutshell, we had a good cruise. It was good in that it got us to nice destinations safely, Our room and the ship was clean. The good stuff outweighed the bad and d/h and I had an awesome scuba dive in Grand Cayman with Off the Wall Divers... a/k/a Tom Shropshire. I highly recommend him.
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Old January 30th, 2012, 08:58 AM
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Thanks for your review. Glad that overall the cruise was worth the problems of getting there.
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Old January 30th, 2012, 09:14 AM
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Glad it was OK...but do you wonder why people in front of house don't seem to like people? I suppose they do deal with some difficult people & are expecting a confrontation every time.
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Old January 30th, 2012, 09:30 AM
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Beenie,

Thanks for giving us your review. I am becoming more and more concerned over where Carnival is going. When I sailed on the Liberty in June I noticed a definite decline in food quality and selection. I had always been pleasantly pleased with the quality of Carnival's food. The meats were good and there was a variety of seafood offerings but this variety and quality have diminished.

This is backed up with what my nephew recently told me. His company provides Carnival with their beef products. They have changed their orders to lower quality cuts. This includes the high end steaks for the steakhouse. This, and what I have read and heard, the more I know that Carnival is cutting costs in this area in order to maintain the $499 seven day cruise price.

I will see how things are next month when I sail again on the Carnival Liberty. I have a cruised booked on the Breeze in June and I won't cancel that because it's a CM cruise and the itinerary is so good I'll eat bologna sandwiches and be happy but if the food isn't up to par after that it will be a while before I cruise them again.

Take care,
Mike
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Old January 30th, 2012, 09:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnthed0g View Post
Glad it was OK...but do you wonder why people in front of house don't seem to like people? I suppose they do deal with some difficult people & are expecting a confrontation every time.

Yes certainly.... but the true professionals, know how to help diffuse a difficult situation and try to find solutions rather than throwing gasoline on a fire.

I imagine that anyone in those positions would get a belly full of chronic complaints and whining pretty quickly and lets face it some folks can be very unreasonable.

I definitely understand the cause and effect.
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Old January 30th, 2012, 09:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike M View Post
Beenie,

Thanks for giving us your review. I am becoming more and more concerned over where Carnival is going. When I sailed on the Liberty in June I noticed a definite decline in food quality and selection. I had always been pleasantly pleased with the quality of Carnival's food. The meats were good and there was a variety of seafood offerings but this variety and quality have diminished.

This is backed up with what my nephew recently told me. His company provides Carnival with their beef products. They have changed their orders to lower quality cuts. This includes the high end steaks for the steakhouse. This, and what I have read and heard, the more I know that Carnival is cutting costs in this area in order to maintain the $499 seven day cruise price.

I will see how things are next month when I sail again on the Carnival Liberty. I have a cruised booked on the Breeze in June and I won't cancel that because it's a CM cruise and the itinerary is so good I'll eat bologna sandwiches and be happy but if the food isn't up to par after that it will be a while before I cruise them again.

Take care,
Mike
Based on this information I am relieved that I cancelled my reservations in the steakhouse and The Chef's Table... One thing I forgot to mention was the fresh fruit on board was very good. I noticed it because the honeydew and citrus is usually not quite ripe and this time it was perfect and sweet.

This is kind of an odd side note I forgot to mention earlier... When we sailed on the Concordia, one thing that was odd was that it was plagued by fruit flies... they were everywhere, and stuck in the sugary residue of the juice dispensers, it grossed me out... It stuck in my mind because in all of our cruises I had never noticed fruit flies, even when sailing from Florida and other warm weather ports. i assumed they just weren't keeping the drink dispensers clean and dumping trash frequently enough... well this cruise, I noticed lots of fruit flies on the ship. I always wonder how most ships can be totally free of them and then one or two have them... why?
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Old January 30th, 2012, 10:55 AM
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B/W,

One would think that with all the troubles Carnival is experiencing vis-a-vis the Concordia, they would bend over backwards to please their clientele. It appears to me that Carnival is taking way too much for granted and if this situation continues, it will effect their bottom line big time.

From what Mike has said, at least in the dining department, the problem certainly isn't aberrational.
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Old January 30th, 2012, 12:24 PM
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I am so glad you told us about your trip. What did you do in each port, other than dive?
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Old January 30th, 2012, 12:31 PM
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Beenie............a quick question about the dinner buffet........is it still just 1 section open or??? The last time we were on Carnival it was a small section....not much there........

Glad ya had a good trip dispite the food.........




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Old January 30th, 2012, 12:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Luanne Russo View Post
I am so glad you told us about your trip. What did you do in each port, other than dive?
Honestly Luanne, we were a little hesitant about Montego Bay, as Jamaica has a bit of a dubious reputation and we had not been there before. Rob and I just got on the Hop on - Hop off bus ($15 pp) and we took a trip out to Rose Hall shopping. It was the usual cruise ship shopping experience. Then we stopped at one of the crafts flea market things and they absolutely swarmed you.... we couldn't get back on the bus fast enough lol. We checked out Dr's Cave Beach and a couple of the other beaches, they seemed very busy but nice and clean.

One of my favorite spots in Cozumel is Nachi Cocum, but the weather was overcast and raining off and on all day so we just took a cab out to the Money Bar where we did a little snorkelling since they have a reef right there and then we returned to the ship after a massive cloudburst. It was nice there, and food and drinks were good and reasonably priced.
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Old January 30th, 2012, 12:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LS80 View Post
Beenie............a quick question about the dinner buffet........is it still just 1 section open or??? The last time we were on Carnival it was a small section....not much there........

Glad ya had a good trip dispite the food.........




Sharon
They had the back side of the buffet open for dinner, basically 2 identical sections... they had the raw veggies/salads/caesar salad stuff, breads, carved meat like lamb beef etc... then selections that were on the dining room menu... minus some of the higher end selections, like Jumbo shrimp etc... They actually had a better selection of desserts in the buffet, than in the dining room most nights. One thing I found that was odd was all the kids food like chix nuggets, hamburgers, hot dogs were unavailable in the buffet for dinner (unless you asked someone for a favor and they would find what you wanted from the dining room) I just thought that was strange.
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Old January 30th, 2012, 01:42 PM
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I think no matter how we try to say we had a good time, in spite of the food, it certainly puts a damper on the dining experience in total. We know we'll never go hungry, but really enjoying ourselves, is falling by the wayside for many of us. I will say, I had no complaints on the Magic, and, the Steakhouse was delish.

I am waiting for the day when Jamacia gets booted off the itineraries. Our last visit, was Montego Bay,and, what we paid to do and see there, was a ripoff, to say the least.

A week away is a good thing though
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Old January 30th, 2012, 04:33 PM
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The Triumph had the same issue with ALL of their crab dishes. It tasted either rancid, old or just plain nasty. I was really disappointed in that as I love crab. However, every single fish dish I had was fresh and delicious..
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