Article Written by Pierre Zarokian
Couple of weeks ago, my family and I went on a Carnival Cruise to the Eastern Caribbean. While the whole trip was fun and relaxing for us, I did have some negative experiences with Carnival Cruise lines that I wanted to post about so maybe I can help some future travelers make better decision before signing up with them.
1) Slow Internet: The onboard internet was slower than a 14.4K modem. If you ever used internet before mid 90′s, you know how slow internet used to be. We were charged $100+ for internet access for approximately 4 hours of use, which we only used 2 hours . By the 4th day of the trip I had experienced so much slowness and several disconnections that I decided it was not worth using it anymore. I spoke to the internet manager and asked for a refund for at least my unused minutes. However, I was declined and instead provided with 30 minutes of free credit in my last day. Needless to say, this was not useful to me.
2) Automatic Gratuity: We were charged $70 a person for gratuity. I was not ever that gratuity was added additionally to our bill afterwords. I had assumed that it was part of the bill when I heard a mention of it being included. However, as everybody knows it is customary to leave you waiter(s) a tip when you eat, so we always left tips for our waiter(s) on board.
3) Bad Choice of Islands: The Eastern Caribbean trip included 4 islands, two of them I really liked (San Juan Puerto Rico and St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands). However, the other 2 islands were not worth the money we paid to see. One was Half Moon Cay in Bahamas, which is actually an island that Carnival Cruise owns and the other was Grand Turk, part of Caicos and Turk Islands. Both these islands were very small and not that interesting to see. My expectations of an island vacation is to go to an exotic island with lot’s of exotic trees, birds and beautiful nature scenery such as water falls, but you won’t find any of these on the two islands. Next time I should do my research little better.
4) Kid friendly or not? When me and my wife initially viewed the pictures of the cruise line (Liberty) and asked the rep over the phone if it was kid friendly, we were told about the kid camp and playground. However, we were not told that that you cannot stays long with your kid while he plays. So turns out the camp is like a baby seating service. Our kid being only 2.5 years old has never stayed in presence of stranger and were not going to do so. We were very disappointed that the parents were not allowed to stay with their kids while the kids play at their play rooms.
5) On Board Photo services a rip off: On board on the Cruise there are photographers all over taking your pics. There are also specific professional photo areas setup with nice backgrounds. You are encouraged by the cruise staff to take as many pics as possible, because at the end you only buy and pay for what you like. The photos turned out to be $22 each for 8×10 photos and ended up costing us around $700. This was an unforeseen expense. Many of the pictures came out really nice. Personally, I would probably have not bought so many of the photos, but my wife insisted on buying many of them. Since we also bought many of the pictures on different days, turns out that when we came home and reviewed them, we had actually also bought doubles of 2 photos in black and white. This was an unnecessary expense, as we could have easily scanned them and reprint for much cheaper. My complaint on this issue is that Carnival charges too much for these photos and should also reward their guests that buy multiple pics. “Buy 2 get one free,” would have been a great offer, but nothing like that was available. They also do not offer the photos in smaller sizes such as 4×6. This would have been another good option to save some money.
I want to say that I am very upset with Carnival Cruise and would not recommend it to anyone, unless the above items do not bother you. Besides the regular cruise fare, which was about $800 per person, my family spend about $2400 on on board services such as spa, food and photos. I consider myself a VIP customer. I have asked for a refund from Carnival Cruise lines for the internet access and the gratuities again after my trip via emailing their customer support and just today I was declined again. I ask Carnival Cruise lines that if they are reading this to make it right and provide me these refunds, so then I can tell everyone how good their customer service was and would be glad to revise this article to say that they care about their customers.