During December, we cruised on Carnival Conquest form New Orleans, and during January, we cruised on RCI's Splendour from Galveston. Service on Splendour was far superior to that on Conquest perhaps because the tips on Conquest are automatically added to the Sign and Sail account. As one example, we had to specifically ask our attendant for ice on Conquest and then received it only once a day or not at all. On Splendour, it appeared twice every day without ever asking.
In the dining room, on Conquest we had to ask for ice tea each night, and then the glass was seldom refilled. On Spendour, we were asked if we wished ice tea the first night, and our water and tea glasses were never empty the whole cruise. On Splendour, fresh bread and rolls were always on the table and refilled as needed. On Conquest, a waiter appeared with a tray of bread at the beginning of dinner, served you what you wished, and bread never appeared again. Perhaps the waiters on Conquest were to busy getting ready for their nightly song and dance to give us proper service. I have seen reviews of Conquest where the entrees were served cold, because their delivery was interrupted by the nightly entertainment.
We have cruised on Carnival several times in the past when tips were handed out at the end of the cruise, and service was much better.
We have been crusing since 1969 and have seen a multitude of changes.
We have also cruised Carnival a couple times in the past several years and NCL with freestyle and auto tipping this year.
12/99 Triumph Cabin steward acceptable, Waiter/asst the worst in 34 years of cruising with tipping by envelope
12/01 Spirit Cat 11 cabin worst steward in 34 years of crusing and best waiter/asst with tipping automatic.
11/02 NCL dream with auto tipping all staff really good and gracious.
I do not believe Auto tipping is the problem. Staff attitude and service is the luck of the draw but if it is poor or unacceptable I will go to the pursar's desk and do whatever I feel is appropriate.
Bad attitude or just a bad server and room steward ? You would think someone would try and work harder for an unknown tip-- and with the tip inclued-- the service would be about average---- Ive had my ups and downs-- and do tip accordingly.
Have learned too-- if I at least meniton what I like from the very beginning-- example I love coffee and a like a full cup--- that should be enough of a big hint to let them know what I expect -- if not--I will say something again-- hopefully that's all it takes--- . Cant see complaining about it when the crusie is over-- do something while the problem exist-----
"Another great point Paul. All that singing and dancing on Carnival has turned me off frm even going to the dinner."
I agree wholeheartedly, gogetter.
I didn't notice a difference in service between ships that had autotipping and ships that didn't, but I do see your point, Paul, and have wondered about it.
It's funny that on the Carnival ships with autotipping, you might get poor service, while on the ships where tips are included in the price of the cruise, such as Radisson, service is generally regarded to be far superior.
Now posting as MichelleP.
We just got back yesterday from the Conquest. They must have fixed the problems
you mentioned. We had fabulous service. We mentioned to our cabin steward on
the first day...when she introduced herself...that we enjoyed ice in our room. We
were never without it. Our waiter was outstanding. He knew we wanted lemons in
our tea and it was on a plate on the table when we sat down. We had continuous
refilling of drinks, as well as bread. There would be no way possible that I could
say that the service was not top notch on the Conquest last week.
Location: Wisconsin....about 100 miles south of the Frozen Tundra and 70 miles east of Camp Randall
Re: Poor Service On Carnival
People on the same cruise can have different levels of service...it all depends on who you get for your steward and your wait staff.......not everyone gets the best and brightest of the staff! I found the service on Carnival acceptable - have had better and have had much worse....but I do think that the performance during each dinner really does detract from the service and the atmosphere of the cruise...one or two nights, great! But every single night.........
Crown Princess 1/18/14....the NEW Me, Myself and I cruise!
>>Perhaps the waiters on Conquest were to busy getting ready for their nightly song and dance to give us proper service.<<
I cruised on the Carnival Spirit last year. I thought that the nightly waitstaff "entertainment" was semi-amusing for the first night or two.... it was my first cruise. By the third night I found some of the antics to be down-right awful! Please believe me, I am not a snob, I'm really easy to please and I love to have fun - but my idea of fun doesn't really include being dressed to the nines expecting a "formal dinner" and having a tuxedoed waiter don a bright purple frizzy clown wig, climb up onto a service table and gyrate his wazoolie while little old ladies wave dollar bills in the direction of his package- !! In the meantime- glasses went empty and people seemingly waited for their coffee and dessert!
The matre'd, with his signature "HELLLoooo!" which was echoed by the diners was to say the least.... ummm.... horrid! By the end of the cruise I was sure if I heard one more person yelling "HELLoooooooo!!" (in the elevators, out at the pool, anywhere!) I would scream!
Call me ignorant, but I thought he was a rather useless entity - other than introducing the other staff (who worke their butts off) and encouraging people to echo his "HeLLoooo!"... he didn't acknowledge our presence upon entering the dining room, nor did he help or direct us to our table the first night. Maybe I expected too much?
We were lucky and our head waiter and assistance were excellent. After the first night I always had iced tea the way I like it. Our wine was delivered and served promptly and properly as was our bar orders and after dinner cognacs, coffee etc. He took great care to provide both my husband and myself with the little extras that made us feel pampered and totally taken care of in every way. They were great. I just felt so bad for him when he had to go join that damn Macarena line....
I'm looking forward to experiencing another cruise line in March. I think I would cruise Carnival again after getting a taste of the other products out there.
Bottom line? I've learned it's a matter of diversity, your personal style and the hit-or-miss aspect of being paired with a waiter and assistants that are intuitive and willing to learn what you expect. It's up to us, the PAX to make our expectations known.
I'm with you, deja. I would be perfectly happy without the "performing" wait staff. Our first two cruises were on Carnival and that got old fast, especially when you've already seen the same routine once before. Besides, no thanks, I do NOT want to dance the Macarena, no matter how hard the assitant waiter tries to persuade me. Please leave me in peace to enjoy my coffee.
I suggest you try Celebrity. We took a weeklong cruise in December on the Millennium, and only once did the wait staff perform any sort of routine. It was a parade in which they carried the baked Alaska around the dining room. Compared to Carnival, very subdued, short, and sweet (especially when we ate the baked Alaska!) The lack of entertainment from the wait staff made the cruise much more enjoyable for us, and more dignified.
Now posting as MichelleP.
Hmmm, interesting! I'm going on my first Carnival cruise this Fall, so when I get back I'll let you know what I think!
I'm not too refined though and thought Celebrity was a little too quiet for me so I just may like it. On the Costa Atlantica, every night was something different in the dining room but not necessarily waiters performing. One night they brought roses out for the ladies and violins serenaded the tables, of course, toga night was a little wild, another night during desert they were playing music and men came around and asked the ladies if you wanted to dance, which was different. There were parades just on two nights.
If the parading is every night I might get tired of it and I definitely think coffee and desert should be served first which is the way it was handled on the Atlantica.
Your right, never on Carnival. In the past, I haven't bashed Carnival. This time, I was amused by someone being surprised that service was bad on Carnival. At the Passenger to Staff Ration of Carnival, I would not expect great service even if all employees were fantastic.
I have to say this sounds like a waiter/steward comparison and not a cruiseline comparison. I sailed Carnival and my waiter always filled my tea and remembered I had coffee after dinner everynight and after the first night never had to ask. Our room steward kept our bucket filled with fresh ice twice a day. Sorry your did not have a good experience but I would not blame Carnival in general.
My expectations are based on 18 total cruises, five of which have been on Carnival. Service on my prior Carnival cruises was far superior to that I experienced on Conquest. I do think that tips being added to the Sign and Sail account have had an effect on the quality of service.
I too believe it has to do with the staff themselves. I've bene on Celebrity and Carnival and gotten good and poor on both.
As for the dancing waiters, I could care less if they danced or not but I think my kids will love it on our upcoming cruise!
The staff to passenger ratio is better on Carnival than on RCI btw.
I've only been on one cruise thus far, RCL Voyager. No auto tipping. Our steward was awful, not friendly, quite rude, ice maybe once a day, NO TOWEL ANIMALS, which I had always heard others talk about, and I didn't get any. On the other hand, our waitstaff were outstanding. They learned our names and beverage preferences on the first night and always greeted us and asked us questions by name, "Jenni, would you like coffee tonight with dessert?" (sometimes I did, sometimes I didn't....) Anyway, on Voyager, the RCL waitstaff also danced and sang every night, but it didn't detract from the meal at all.
Our next cruise is in 9 days on Spirit... I'll let you know how it goes - I hope they make towel animals...
Of all the cruise lines we've been on, the one with the best service was the one with a strict "no tipping, tips are included" policy. The second best used the envelope system. I have to conclude that there is much more to the issue of "good service" than the manner of compensation of the employees. After all, with so many lines going with some form of "open seating dinner", you really have no one to tip with the envelope but the room steward.
I will be clear on the fact that I have no Carnival experience, and therefore cannot comment on this line's general standards of service. I do think I can comment, however, that our experience has been that the matter of whether tips are given in envelopes, given via charges to our accounts, or included in the fare is not relevant to the level of service we receive.
There's nothing worse than watching an entire room of people doing it and realizing by the looks on peoples faces that no one's really smiling and enjoying it. They're just doing it in an effort to not apper like a party pooper.
I have to laugh, but isn't the song they do on Conquest the "Las Ketshup" song, from the video and not the Macarena?
I was one of the original Travel Agents on board, before the Conquest left on its first cruise, and I did think it funny, THE FIRST TIME, but ya'll are right, they stop everything to do that "dance", and yet, the guest are still hungry, and thirsty...etc.
I think maybe once a cruise, during each seating would be just about enough, might even make folks get in there to see the "one-time" show and yet something else to look forward to.
I have to laugh when I hear about the wait staff entertaining in the dining room. Aboard the Sensation, they sang "God Bless America" and waved American flags. 150 waiters all from different countries...perhaps it was really embarassing for them, not being American, having to sing GBA....leave the entertaining to the musicians and dancers, and let the waiters do what they do best, serve the diners.
On Senation, I picked up on the irony of those folks singing God Bless America, also. And it was funny. But it was a great metaphor of what America really is. Lots of nationalities, lots of languages, lots of colors--E pluribus unum--shedding green. They're showing appreciation.
I may dwell on the land, but I live at sea!
Sensation 2/03 I disembarked, but never really left the ship.
Sensation 04/05 The vessel made me do it!
Summit 03/06 to Hawaii, Where God left his fingerprints, in memory of Margaret.
Carnival Freedom (March 08)
\X\Mercury (January 09)
Service is down to the people who offer it and also those who receive it; it doesn't matter a jot whether the tip is charged to your shipboard account or not. Does a person who gives good service already know how much you are going to tip? Obviously not! In my experience it also depends on the nationality of the server; some are far better than others. I can remember being in a restroom in a Bangkok hotel where one persons job was to turn on the taps in the basin, offer the towel and then turn the taps off again. He neither looked for nor accepted tips and it was not a 5/6* hotel. Equally I recall drip mats with "customers make pay days possible" as the message and how many people still forget that simple fact? Try being rude to a server and it doesn't matter how much you tip you'll get crap service as you deserve.
And you can add the dreaded baked alaska parade to the macarena as a pet hate and an area where cruise companies could certainly save costs by cancelling.
Hi Cruisemates! Our first cruise was on the Carnival Triumph Apr. 5th. We had pre-arranged tips with our group, and service was still outstanding. Ice 2-3 times a day (in both the ice bucket and a white pail holding the complimentary wine). Cabin steward didn't speak too much English, but was always smiling, polite and efficient--Yanie was her name.
Our waiter (Frederick) and asst. (Bui) were always johnny-on-the-spot and very attentive. When we ran into Frederick outside the dining room he called us by our first names and asked how we were enjoying things. That was quite impressive.
The nightly dancing may have been a bit contrived, but added to the general "Fun Ship" atmosphere. None of the audience or performers (wait staff) seemed depressed about being involved!
Our original package indicated we would put our "tip vouchers" into envelopes on Thursday night, but when we called the purser's desk to confirm this, they said it was really up to us whether we physically handed them out. Apparently, the staff automatically get their tips with their weekly paycheques. We did supplement our Cabin Stewards, Waiter and Assistant Waiter's tips, as they had earned it.
Maybe it is because we are Canadians and tend not to be too critical in general, but everything about the Carnival cruise was great and we did not run into any negative situations such as I had read about in some of the Message Boards. Tim T.
I just returned from the Conquest, and I got the good and bad service reports for you.
When I first got on board, I slipped the cabin "JANA" steward a tip, and told him I wanted my ice full at all times, it was! (He is transferring to the Glory in June) The asst to my server in the main dining room, was VERY nice "Monica", she talked with us, laughed, tried to care about what we did and we even got to ask her about her life, I also tipped her. We also saw her for breafast in the buffet cleaning tables too.
The official server in the main dining room, he only took the food orders, and NEVER cared aout what we did, ignored folks standing by the entrance (his section was the closest to the door-way). I did not feel he needed or earned more than the grat-I pre paid. Also I never once saw the maitre' d in our resturant, and it seems that he is not included in the pre-paid grat, but I also did not tip him. Also if you REALLY don't need to, don't fill out the Cont breakfast cards, we did it twice, and only got food once, and it was small portion, just get dressed and go to the buffet or to open seating dining, and you will fill your tummy.
I sailed Conquest in January and Grandeur in March. I'm also returning to the Conquest in May. My experience was that both had singing and dancing waiters. I think that waitstaff was only slightly better on Grandeur, but food was not nearly as good as Carnival and shows weren't as good either. I just don't see a big difference between the two - at least on those ships.