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Unhappy with Carnival Cruise Experience

May 10, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

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.

Lindos Mare

April 10, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

This gorgeous secluded boutique hotel close to the picturesque village of Lindos has some fantastic panoramic views. All rooms have been refurbished recently and the rooms have been outfited with warm coloured decor and modern amenities. Dinner in the main restaurant combines a rich buffet (salads, cold and hot appetisers, desserts), choice of main course, show kitchen and waiter service.

Review 1:

“We stayed at the Lindos Mare for 2 weeks in September 08. The hotel is magnificent and we have never experienced such incredible service before. 
We married at The Acropolis, Lindos on 17 September and The Mare was the most perfect place to stay. The restaurant and food was amazing, so much choice, even my fussy husband found lots he liked.

Family had stayed at The Mare in 06 and when we decided to get married, we just knew where we wanted to stay. Since then, they have added another pool, very quiet with fantstic views over the bay.The location was perfect, a short bus ride or taxi, and the hustle and bustle of Lindos eagerly awaits you. Fantastic hotel to have your honeymoon and all our guests who surprised us by coming out to the wedding loved it too!  Overall I would say this is probably the best hotel we have ever stayed in on holiday!”

Review 2:

“I wanted to write to say what a lovely week my husband and I enjoyed at the Lindos Mare hotel at the beginning of October this year. We travel quite a lot and I can honestly say that I have never met such friendly and dedicated staff. Nothing was too much trouble and we had such a relaxing time, it was hard to leave. And… to top it all, we had glorious weather throughout the whole week. I would like to express a personal thanks to Michalis , who arranged for us to have breakfast at the Lindus Blu
and to Efrosini who was the pool bar manager during the day. Both of these members of staff made us feel really special.

It was our wedding anniversary during our stay and the hotel staff decorated our room and left us a bottle of champagne, which was really nice of them. Also, regardless of where your room is, you get a fabulous view.We would not hesitate to return to the Lindos Mare and maybe next time treat ourselves to a stay at the Lindos Blu.”

Review 3:

“As a couple who just spent 3 weeks in the Lindos Mare Hotel (we got married in Saint Paul’s bay in our second week), i feel that we are reasonably well qualified to give a insightful overview of what the hotel is REALLY like!

Firstly,what a beautiful hotel!The location was perfect!A 3 minute drive from Lindos,a 5 minute walk to the hotel’s own gorgeous beach(yes it is quite a steep walk,but there are lifts if you look hard enough!),and the views are to die for!

Our room was lovely!Spacious,modern,and meticlously clean!In 3weeks,our sheets and towels were changed every single day without fail,and they even folded a few crumpled t-shirts in their path!The facilities were great too!2 nice swimming pools(which were always busy,but not over crowded)and a reasonably priced pool bar.
I must admit that despite being half-board,we didn’t have many evening meals in the hotel restaurant.This however,is no reflection on the standard of the food(which was good for reference!),more a case of lots of wedding guests staying in various different locations to entertain,and Lindos village being the optimum place to do so! 
We could not fault the staff!Everyone from the reception team(whom we dealt with alot due to waiting for wedding photos and marriage certificates), to the restaurant staff, were exceptionally helpful!We were always greeted in a friendly and welcoming manner,as were all other guests!Not just a select few as suggested by other reviews.
I’m sure there are many wonderful things that i have forgotten to mention,but all I can say is that we had the best 3 weeks imaginable,and that the Lindos Mare helped to make our wedding and honeymoon memorable for all the right reasons!We WILL be returning,as will several members of our families who were VERY envious when they came to visit us!”

The Sanyas Suite Hotel

April 10, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

The Sanyas Suite Hotel is located on Jl. Cendrawasih No. 9, Peti Tenget, Seminyak-Kuta. A hotel of absolute peace and contemplation, it is a hotel designed from the ground up for rest and relaxation. This is the hotel to go to if you want to escape your everyday lives and live in the lap of  luxury. Every suite has its own swimming pool and dining area and kitchen. 

Review 1:

“I felt so pampered staying there! It is certainly one of the great value for money accommodations i’ve stayed at! For a price lower than The Samaya (Seminyak) or the usual Banyan Tree Villas, what we got is a huge villa with a gorgeous pool – a great place to relax! Just look at the pics – they speak a thousand words – awesome!

We were given their Executive Villa (their best) and the staff were awesome – they surprise my hubby with a cake, and singing him bday song ( i must say this is quite typical at luxury villas eg. Banyan Tree). 

I’m rather impressed with the “mini library”, mineral water dispenser, fully equipped bar and kitchen. However due to the ‘closeness to nature’, it is inevitable for some creepy crawlies to appear in the open-air bathroom, and into the pool. I have a caterpillar falling on me while soaking in my bath, and dragonfly-like insects drowning in the pool. It’s not the fault of the staff – they have cleaned the pool and bath immaculately. This just happens when you stay close to nature.

What is slightly lacking is the location – it’s hard to find and off the main belt so we need to take a cab everywhere. Also skip their bfast – pay for yours at La Lucciola instead ( we didn’t take the risk to dine in Sanyas also). Samaya’s restaurant is more appealing. 

Overall it’s a great base to be at – but do travel out for food. If you just want to laze all day without going out, stay at Samaya instead. But if you’re looking at a hidden gem at great value – here’s the place!”

Review 2:

“I’m just updating my earlier review after I visited the Sanyas Suites in October 2008.

My wife and I are back home today after spending another week in Bali.

The previous review focussed pretty heavily on the villa hotel and its facilities.

This time I’d like to point out the incredible level of service that we were afforded. I’ve had great service in hotels before but never anything approaching that offered by the Sanyas Suites.

The staff there simply go above and beyond what you could ever hope for.

Other reviewers have commented on being ferried pretty much wherever you desire in their spotless, new vehicles – for free.

We wanted to buy some glasses whilst we were there so the Assistant Manager, Ariana, took us to a shop he recommended in Denpasar. He then translated for us and returned us back to the Sanyas Suites – total trip was over a couple of hours – all part of their service.

If I could upload more photos I would have submitted a photo of Ariana as his level of service to the hotel guests cannot be rated highly enough. All the other reviewers who have made mention of Ariana will understand just how amazing he is.

We had a wonderful time and will be returning in July for yet another visit. Normally we’d look at staying at different hotels but the Sanyas Suites is just so good, that we don’t even contemplate anywhere else.”

Review 3:

“Private,high walled very quiet beautifully decorated villa with outdoor living room,second toilet/sink off of kitchen, dining room,kitchen with a full sized refrigerator,microwave, toaster,stove.(No need to cook since they have 24 hr room service, with very reasonable priced items). Two showers (one outdoors) plus Jacuzzi tub. Large free standing bottled water unit with cold/hot taps.A/C bedroom with access doors on either side of bed to a very large bathroom.TV with 10 channels of English stations.Free DVD’s available. Breakfast delivered when you want it with a large menu to select from. Free shuttle service to Kota. Convenience store 5 minute walk from hotel. Amazing service and staff that just wants to make your time at Sanya Suites special.”

The Samaya Hotel

April 10, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

The Samaya Hotel is located on the Seminyak Beach in the southern coast of Bali. There are 46 Villas which are extremely beautiful and private. You even get your very own private swimming pool. Of these Villas, 24 have a prime location on the beach and for those who prefer a bit more peace and quiet, there are the 22 villas located in the Royal Courtyard. This is a very peaceful and serene location but with the nightlife just a short walk away.

Review 1:

“I have to say we had a hard time choosing our accomodation between all those Bali’s top rated hotels. Moreover we had a trip to Maldives 6 month ago to another great place and we were still under impression how paradise should look like . So we had a very high expectations and we never regret that we choosed The Samaya.
The place itself is beautifull, gorgeous swimming pools, lovely gardens. Villas are big ( we stayed in Royal Courtyard , the one across the street ) , nice swimming pool in villa with a little waterfall, sundesk, daybed…everything you ever need to relax, spacious bathroom, nice modern interior. Very clean
The food . Breakfast .We had only in villa breakfasts, they have a great choise for every taste. Lunch and dinner. Big choise drinks, cocktails , snacks and salads..we always had lunch infront of the beach….yammi… I would highly recommend The Breeze restaurant for dinner , great food, fresh, tasty, very well presented, good selection of wine.

We had also dinner at KuDeTa and Gado Gado, would preffer “the look” of KuDeTa and food of Gado Gado.
The Spa. We had several spa treatment, loved it.

And of course i have to say how great was the service. Everyone starting the driver who did assist us in the airport , reseption and villa host who showed us around and did help you with anything we ever needed during our stay, the staff on the beach who was always here to bring you fresh drink and help you with the beach umbrella, all the team, were just extremely nice and helpfull. We felt that they do really care to make your vacations wonderfull. They payed attention to every detail of your stay and it was great .”

Review 2:

“We have just returned for the Samaya Bali. We had 10 wonderful nights is the Royal Courtyard Villas across the road from the Main building. The Villas are immaculateand have a huge private pool cleaned twice a day. The service was far superior than anywhere I have stayed before. The staff always greet you by name and were absolutely wonderful, professional and friendly. Management should be and are proud to have such a wonderful team.Breeze resturant was AMAZING. You must have cocktails along the front and watch the beautiful sunsets over the water. I will be recommending this hotel/villas to everyone travelling to Bali. It was my first visit back after the bombings and I have never felt safer. Thank you to the whole team at Samaya for giving us one of the best holidays we have had. Well Done!!”

Review 3:

“We were curious why The Samaya had such a high rank in Trip Advisor that’s why we booked it for a 1-night stay online. Quite pricey for my budget but I felt it would be a nice gift to my wife for our honeymoon. The moment we stepped in the resort, we were so awed by its beauty. We were then guided to our villa which fortunately was upgraded (for free!) to the royal pavilion. Their villas were extremely nice! It was very stylish and elegant. Couldn’t stsop taking pictures of the place. We didn’t want to waste out day so we immediately went to the beach which was just in front of the resort. It was very clean and not too many people like what we saw in Kuta. There were also very few vendors peddling their goods, but they didn’t pester us to buy their stuff, unlike other vendors in other places. The food in their resto was also very delicious! We also love their infinity pool. They also provided us free shuttle to go to Seminyak town and back. The pool and jacuzzi in our villa was very well maintained and the water temperature was just right. They also provided free champagne in the minibar. Was it worth the money spent? Definitely YES! The only thing disappointing is that we had to leave the next day already. Will definitely come back to this magnificent place and I hope that when we come back, it will be just like when we left it.”

The Heritance Kandalama

April 9, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

The Heritance Kandalama is a resort located the foot of the nothern mountains of Sri Lanka. The hotel is within Sri Lanka’s cultural triangle and is the first hotel in the asian region to recieve the prestigous Green Glove 21 standards certification. An absolutely beautiful hotel with a breathtakin view and stunning cuisine, any journey to Sri Lanka would not be worthwhile without experiencing it. The hotel is also in close proximity to 5 UNESCO world heritage sites.

Review 1:

“The front of the hotel is covered in creepers and plants to blend in with the jungle and it certainly manages to do this. This is a long hotel, 1km long in fact. The setting is fantastic and we could see for miles across the lake to hills and over to Sigiriya in the distance. It is a minimalist hotel, no cosy throws over seating or pretty pictures on the walls. White painted corridors open to the elements with the hotel built around the rocks. The animals are all around and the monkeys sit on your verandah and in the corridors.. All sorts of birds fly around and you can watch them as you eat from the glass sided restaurant. 

The food was excellent with barbeques and buffet, but tea/coffee after meals is served in the lounge. Very few people went in there and after dinner there was entertainment but sometimes there were only 3 or 4 people in there. People tend to go to their rooms after dinner as the lounge was huge and the seating meant you had to lounge on very wide cushions or sit in wide basket woven chairs and it was not very intimate. It is a large hotel catering for lots of people, but one night when we stayed there were only 70 guests and the staff were bored with nothing to do. 

The bedroom was big but the bathroom was huge, we could hold a dance in it. However, wardrobe and drawers were also in the bathroom which seemed a bit strange to us. 

We felt especially safe when we met the night security guards, with guns, patrolling the corridors.

This was the best hotel we stayed in in Sri Lanka and I would go back again just to try the things we didn’t get to do, eg try the spa, swim in the three pools and walk around the lake and surrounding area.”

Review 2:

“My husband and i took a trip through Sri Lanka and stayed at the Heritance Kandalama for 4 nights

We were given a complimentary upgrade from their ‘standard’ rooms which was really lovely but we were given quite a hard sell on upgrading further on the proviso that we paid for a bottle of 300 gbp champagne or sign up to one of their exclusive but expensive evening meal experiences.

This was the only negative and i hope that staff refrain from continually asking guest if they had changed their mind about upgrading. The food here is not the cheapest you will find but for 15 gbp (before taxes) a night for a huge buffet it was great value. The buffet meal was of exceptional quality and changed every evening so you never got bored. Staff were extremely attentive and service was exceptional. The rooms were beeautiful, and comfortable. the bathroom and views were wonderful. The hotel is extremely clean. We used the spa on one occasion and like everything else here it was absolutely wonderful.

This hotel is used allot by large tour companies, but dont let that put you off. Please also always think about the accommodation your drive will be having. We are assured this was one of his favourite places. We used Sri Lanka in style for our 14 day trip and they were faultless, really wonderful drive and they made our trip fantastic. cannot reccomend them highly enough. Oh one more thing. Please think twice before taking a ride on the elephants here. These are wild animals, and shoudlnt be used for ‘tourist’ rides.”

Review 3:

“we stayed here for 2 nights as part of a tour of sri lanka. the hotel was beautiful. our room was very comfortable and the bathroom was amazing, v spacious with seperate bath and plunge shower. the hotel is eco friendly so be prepared for bats flying about the corridors at night and monkeys sitting on your balcony. room service was efficient and the food was good. which leads us to our biggest complaint about the hotel, it’s restaurant. the service was appalling and the food not much better, we would reommend room service all the way. the spa looked great although we did not have enough time to take advantage of this. we did the elephant ride which was on offer at reception, which was a different way to see the surrounding scenery. it is a lovely hotel although for us the restaurant would be enough for us not to return.”