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Old 06-28-2009, 07:54 AM
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Myself and a party of 7 just returned from a 5 night cruise on the Fascination out of Jacksonville, Florida.

First of all, our party consisted of my wife and myself, our two daughters (21 and 18), and 3 of our youngest daughter's friends (18,18, and 17) all housed in 3 separate cabins.

While my family has been on multiple cruises, this was the first cruise for my daughter's friends.

On the positive side, with the exception of the ship's funnel (on which the red had faded to an ugly pink), the ship was in very good condition. The public rooms, outside deck areas, as well as the staterooms were well maintained and kept very clean. Also, stateroom and dining room service was very good.

Overall, the staff was very friendly and went out of their way several times to accommodate and educate our inexperienced "cruise virgins". Just to clarify, when I say "staff", I'm referring to crew members who knew they wouldn't get an extra gratuity for the services they rendered...such as waiters during open sitting, customer service reps at the Purser's desk, and one notable room steward (not the one assigned to our guests' room) who became our immediate advocate when a breaker tripped in a stateroom and our assigned steward was on break.

The overall positive attitude of the crew earns high marks in my view.

On the not-so-great side, the on-board entertainment was disappointing this time around. That's not to say they weren't immensely talented, but my caveat is more directed at the lack of variety in entertainment. For example, on night 2, the "Fascination Dancers" gave their typical Las Vegas style review in the main lounge. A part of that show was a very talented male singer who performed well. On night 3, this same male singer was the headline act (actually, the only act). On night 4, this same male singer was back on stage, again with the dancers. Again, the gentleman is very talented, but I don't need to see him 3 nights out of 5.

One last comment that falls into the "I'll remember that next time" category. When I booked the cruise for our 7 participants, I pre-paid everyones' gratuities as I felt, at the time, that it would simplify the process for our first-timers.

After boarding, I asked (out of curiosity) how could I adjust the amount of gratuity if service was not as expected. The response was somewhat surprising....I was told that I couldn't do this on the ship...that I would have to contact Carnival in Miami AFTER the cruise to try to get a refund. Fortunately, no action was needed on my part as service was better than expected, but I found it strange that Carnival encourages you to pre-pay, but doesn't offer any ship-board recourse if things go wrong during the cruise itself.

I commented to the cruise staff, that the lesson here is NOT to pre-pay as you seem to lose some control of the process by doing so. I was hoping that they would point out the error in my logic, but unfortunately, all they could do was nod in agreement.

At any rate, the negatives are small and are far outweighed by the positives. We had a great time and our "virgins" got off the ship yesterday with comments like, "That was awesome!!", "Can we come back with you guys next year??!!", and "That was a blast!"

Garnett
  #2 (permalink)  
Old 06-28-2009, 07:54 AM
garnettsmith's Avatar
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Myself and a party of 7 just returned from a 5 night cruise on the Fascination out of Jacksonville, Florida.

First of all, our party consisted of my wife and myself, our two daughters (21 and 18), and 3 of our youngest daughter's friends (18,18, and 17) all housed in 3 separate cabins.

While my family has been on multiple cruises, this was the first cruise for my daughter's friends.

On the positive side, with the exception of the ship's funnel (on which the red had faded to an ugly pink), the ship was in very good condition. The public rooms, outside deck areas, as well as the staterooms were well maintained and kept very clean. Also, stateroom and dining room service was very good.

Overall, the staff was very friendly and went out of their way several times to accommodate and educate our inexperienced "cruise virgins". Just to clarify, when I say "staff", I'm referring to crew members who knew they wouldn't get an extra gratuity for the services they rendered...such as waiters during open sitting, customer service reps at the Purser's desk, and one notable room steward (not the one assigned to our guests' room) who became our immediate advocate when a breaker tripped in a stateroom and our assigned steward was on break.

The overall positive attitude of the crew earns high marks in my view.

On the not-so-great side, the on-board entertainment was disappointing this time around. That's not to say they weren't immensely talented, but my caveat is more directed at the lack of variety in entertainment. For example, on night 2, the "Fascination Dancers" gave their typical Las Vegas style review in the main lounge. A part of that show was a very talented male singer who performed well. On night 3, this same male singer was the headline act (actually, the only act). On night 4, this same male singer was back on stage, again with the dancers. Again, the gentleman is very talented, but I don't need to see him 3 nights out of 5.

One last comment that falls into the "I'll remember that next time" category. When I booked the cruise for our 7 participants, I pre-paid everyones' gratuities as I felt, at the time, that it would simplify the process for our first-timers.

After boarding, I asked (out of curiosity) how could I adjust the amount of gratuity if service was not as expected. The response was somewhat surprising....I was told that I couldn't do this on the ship...that I would have to contact Carnival in Miami AFTER the cruise to try to get a refund. Fortunately, no action was needed on my part as service was better than expected, but I found it strange that Carnival encourages you to pre-pay, but doesn't offer any ship-board recourse if things go wrong during the cruise itself.

I commented to the cruise staff, that the lesson here is NOT to pre-pay as you seem to lose some control of the process by doing so. I was hoping that they would point out the error in my logic, but unfortunately, all they could do was nod in agreement.

At any rate, the negatives are small and are far outweighed by the positives. We had a great time and our "virgins" got off the ship yesterday with comments like, "That was awesome!!", "Can we come back with you guys next year??!!", and "That was a blast!"

Garnett
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Old 06-28-2009, 12:19 PM
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Welcome home Garnett
It sounds like you had fun. Kudos to you for traveling with so many women. You are indeed a brave soul!
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Old 06-28-2009, 12:43 PM
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Brave? Not at all, I've lived my life in the overwhelming presence of women. I grew up with 5 older sisters and I was the only male, so traveling with a few more ladies is just another day for me.

I've often joked that I will be the first man to die from estrogen overdose.
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Old 06-28-2009, 03:05 PM
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quote:
After boarding, I asked (out of curiosity) how could I adjust the amount of gratuity if service was not as expected. The response was somewhat surprising....I was told that I couldn't do this on the ship...that I would have to contact Carnival in Miami AFTER the cruise to try to get a refund. Fortunately, no action was needed on my part as service was better than expected, but I found it strange
that Carnival encourages you to pre-pay, but doesn't offer any ship-board recourse if things go wrong during the cruise itself.



The reason for this is because the ship has their own accounting separate from Headquarters. The ship can't refund something that wasn't in their accounts to begin with.
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Old 06-28-2009, 04:33 PM
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Oh, I understand the rationale...I just happen to think that this should be disclosed before the gratuities are pre-paid.

IF I had had a bad cruise experience, I would interpret Carnival's inability to immediately address my grievances as somewhat short-sighted and a "salt in the wound" type phenomenon. As I'm sure you'll agree, no one wants to have to go through more red tape (i.e. Carnival/Miami) to have a situation reconciled.

In any event, there wasn't a problem, so the scenario is moot in this particular instance....BUT, I think everyone should know before pre-paying that they may be setting themselves up for a more complicated situation relative to recovering their gratuities.

Garnett
  #7 (permalink)  
Old 06-29-2009, 06:48 AM
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Hi garnettsmith, welcome home. Glad to hear your cruise went well. Sorry the entertainment wasn't that good, but it sounds like everything else went really well. You are correct that Carnival should tell their customers up front that pre-paid gratuities cannot be adjusted on board. However, I don't know of anyone on board that doesn't deserve their portion. They all pull multiple jobs on board. Sometimes they're even the entertainment. But you're correct. If you don't know up front, then you'd have a dickens of a time on board. No one wants to go on vacation for a hassle.

Thankfully in the 20+ cruises I've been on, I've never had to worry about the crew not deserving their gratuity. Sure hope in the future, that holds true, but cannot foresee why it wouldn't.

I, too, think you're a brave soul with that many women. Can't wait to see why you select for your next adventure.
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Old 06-29-2009, 08:57 AM
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Hi Penny,

I agree wholeheartedly that 99.99999% of the crew members work VERY hard and deserve every dime of their gratuities. I guess with me, it's all about being in control of the situation if the unthinkable happens. I, like you, have been on about 20 cruises (6 with Carnival) and only had one bad experience way back in 1982 on the Veracruz.

I'm sorry if my initial emails seem to focus on the gratuity issue. It's not so much my intent to complain as it is to highlight this facet of the tipping program as a FYI.

In any event, the cruise as a whole was great and I would have no reservation cruising with Carnival again....and may just book our next trip next month!

Garnett
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Old 06-29-2009, 10:50 AM
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Sounds like a great plan, will you be out numbered again?
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Old 06-29-2009, 12:06 PM
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Absolutely!

I fully expect my daughters will bring their friends along again. It's really not an imposition. The girls are old enough (and wise enough---finally) now to know that they don't know it all and they need to listen to keep themselves safe. Likewise, their pool of friends are good kids (now young ladies)and never a moment's trouble. Believe it or not, I actually have a very good time when they all come along.

As a male, you just have to realize when it's time to leave the shopping and other female favorite past-times to the "professionals" and head solo back to the ship!

Garnett
 
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