Number of Cruises: 6
Cruise Line: Carnival
Ship: Carnival Elation
Sailing Date: May 29th, 2005
Itinerary: Western Caribbean
Our impression of this, our 3rd Carnival cruise, is that Carnival has decided to mass market cruises. In fact, their stated goal is to have 5 million cruisers per year. The only problem with this goal is that Carnival seems to have lowered their standards and quality of service to keep prices low so as to appeal to this "mass market."
The Elation is a fine-looking ship, better than many ships we have taken. However, the food was, at best, mediocre. We are hardly difficult to please, but lunch was so bad that most of the days we found ourselves eating hamburgers on the Lido deck instead of the buffet. When we did try the offerings on the buffet, the food was cold - apparently the food warmers were not working properly. The dinners were also not up to the level of past cruises. Steaks were tough, lobster was overcooked, and food selection appeared to be more limited than in the past.
Service was also disappointing. Cabin stewards are readily available only in the morning and for the evening bed turndown. In the past, stewards seemed to always be cleaning cabins, meeting cruisers' needs, etc. Now, if one is not up and about when they are cleaning cabins, the cabin does not get cleaned. Cabin stewards do have a pager number, but we received no reply at all to repeated pages. It appears Carnival has decreased the number of stewards, thus increasing the workload of those remaining. The result is lower costs for Carnival and less service for the customer.
The itinerary was fine. Cozumel offers, among other attractions, magnificent snorkeling, Progresso (and Merida) are interesting, and Belize offers tours to the rain forest and a baboon sanctuary. We enjoyed our times in all three ports, but some of those we met onboard did complain about the cave tubing - apparently the water in the river was too low for much enjoyment.
Will we use Carnival again for a family vacation? Probably not. Vacations are important to us and we will pay the few extra dollars for a much more enjoyable cruise experience.
Of our 6 cruises, this was probably overly the worse food, and certainly the worse service.