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Age: 30

Occupation:Day care owner/director

Number of Cruises: 1

Cruise Line: Carnival

Ship: Carnival Jubilee

Sailing Date: May 3rd, 2003

Itinerary: Western Caribbean

This was our first cruise and overall we had a fantastic time. We drove to Galveston the night before to avoid any possible delays, but it turns out we could have driven down on Saturday and had plenty of time. Our ship was to leave Saturday at 4pm, but we did not leave until almost 8pm. The captain came on the speaker system about every hour to let us know they were experiencing “technical difficulties”, which scared us quite a bit. We were mostly afraid that we wouldn’t get to leave! Once we were on our way, everyone was a bit weary from the long wait. Our excited anticipation turned into fear that something was seriously wrong with the ship, or that we would miss time at port. We would have liked better communication from the staff. Everyone had lots of questions, but none of the staff seemed to know the answers, or weren’t willing to talk. We tried to keep a positive attitude, and took time to talk to fellow cruisers and ask their opinion about the situation.

Once we were out to sea, everyone couldn’t help but notice the severe shake and rumble about the ship. It didn’t matter if you were at the front or back, it was bad everywhere. It was similar to a washing machine on spin cycle, but louder. In our stateroom, the medicine cabinet and the doors rattled fiercely and the first night I was really wondering if I’d be able to sleep with the shaking. But I had no problem falling asleep and staying asleep all night, luckily. Throughout the cruise the ship rocked quite a bit and there were many sick people. We had read previously that it was a very stable ship, it says so in the Carnival brochure, and it mentions that seasickness is rare….but that’s not what we experienced. We think something was wrong with the prop and/or stabilizers.

We were truly impressed with the size of the stateroom, and that we had been upgraded from an interior room to an ocean view room. During our time at port in Galveston, we got to know the layout of the ship. We had heard it was difficult to get around in, but we did not find that to be the case at all. They give you a pamphlet when you first get on that maps out each deck. Each evening we had a Carnival Caper delivered to our stateroom with the next days’ activities listed. You can plan your entire day from this newsletter. It was great.

The first night we returned to our stateroom we did not have one of the famous towel animals waiting for us….so we made our own! We attempted to make a cobra snake, in a curled position, and left it for our steward. The next night, he left us his version – a perfect cobra snake. We had to take pictures, it was amazing. We had an ongoing ‘contest’ with our steward, making and decorating different things with our towels. It was fun.

We were confused at first about tipping and the sail and sign cards, but the folks at the Purser’s desk were really friendly and very helpful. It is recommended you tip about $50 for a 5-day cruise per person (we tipped $100 up front, and were told we could adjust that at the end of our cruise if needed). There is also a ‘suggested’ minimum to place on your sail and sign card of $200 per person (for a 5 day cruise). This is good to keep in mind because you use this card for every purchase on the ship. They have photographers everywhere you turn, and they have professional portraits on formal night. If it’s your first cruise, I’m sure you will be tempted as we were to buy almost every one.

The service on the ship was really great – with one exception. My husband purchased a fountain card for $30. That meant unlimited fountain drinks for him for the duration of our cruise. Every single time he asked for a soda and showed the bar staff that card, we were given rude looks, talked to snidely, and were sometimes totally ignored. We counted several occasions where they would deliver my mixed drink, but would conveniently forget my husband’s soda. When you pay for a drink at the bar, an automatic 15% gratuity is added to the tab. It’s our guess that since the staff wasn’t getting the automatic 15% when we used the fountain card; they thought being rude was all right. We thought about adjusting our tip amount at the end of the cruise, but the amounts we tipped were going to wait staff and our room steward, not the bar staff. We were too uncomfortable to tell the bar staff to take off the 15%, so we just let it be. We complained about it on our comment card. All the other service was great, truly great. Our glasses were never empty while we were eating, and we never had dirty plates on our tables. The food was exceptional. We were truly impressed with all the food, and the choices available. We were also happy to be assigned a dinner table with 3 other very nice couples our age. The entertainment was amazing – truly good quality. We forgot we were on a ship during the shows. It felt like Broadway. And there were plenty of activities to choose from. We had late seat dining, and next time we go we will sign up for main dining. There were so many good activities at the same time as our dinner seating; we sometimes skipped the dining room so we could attend.

We had just a couple other small disappointments: the size of the pools (note that they are saltwater…try not to get it in your eyes or mouth). They are really small…especially the pool with the slide. When the slide is operating, they have half the pool roped off. The swim area is only about 5’ x 10’. The other disappointment was that we didn’t get to port at Playa Del Carmen because the surf was too high. We went ahead to Cozumel for an extra day. This is, obviously, not Carnival’s fault. However, we think it would have been better if they’d made the decision to go to Cozumel sooner. We sat idle near Playa Del Carmen for a couple of hours before we moved on. We lost time at port for sure, but on the flip side, we did get to spend the night at port at Cozumel and it was the best night’s sleep since we weren’t shaking and rattling all over the place! There was much confusion over crediting guests’ sail and sign accounts for excursions in Playa Del Carmen. They said accounts would be credited immediately, but it was over a day later that it was finally done. In Cozumel the first day, we grabbed a cab (they are waiting or you when you get off the ship) and went shopping downtown. People are so friendly, and we were able to barter with every merchant. We didn’t pay asking price for anything. We had lunch at Carlos and Charlie’s. That was a blast! We also heard that Senior Frog’s was a good time. The second day, we swam with dolphins at Dolphin Discovery in Chankanaab National Park and went snorkeling. Chankanaab is beautiful and we highly recommend it. The entrance fee is only $10 – which you pay whether or not you sign up to swim with dolphins.

This being our first cruise, we researched quite a bit and read several reviews so we would know what to expect. Overall, we were extremely satisfied. We saw other guests who were not, but we tend to be happy-go-lucky people and were determined not to let anything ruin our vacation. I think it just depends on how you look at it. The Jubilee is showing it’s age, but it was well kept and we didn’t think it was nearly as bad looking as some of the other reviews we’d read. We are already planning our next cruise, and we are taking our children next time. We think they would have a blast. We sure did! We are recommending Carnival to all our friends.


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