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[Resolved] Carnival Cruise Lines / awful service

1 United States Review updated:
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I just got back from my 8th cruise with Carnival. This one was on the Carnival Valor out of Miami. I had some bad experiences starting 3 cruises ago but chalked it up to 'Well, every vacation can't be perfect'. Now though the pattern can't help but be clear.

Customer service at 1-800-CARNIVAL tends to be quite snotty. (Yes, there were some wonderful people as well-- I wish I had their names.) Last year, I booked two balcony cabins-- one for me and my boyfriend, and a second for my parents. There was talk of my boyfriend's mother coming along as well, but she didn't make up her mind to do so until 87 days before the cruise. Still, this was well outside of the time frame, wherein changes would be penalized, given on the reservation confirmation faxed to me by Carnival. It said that I could make changes, without penalty, up until 60 days before my cruise.

I called, at 87 days out, to add her to the reservation. This was no problem. I added her to the cabin I had with my boyfriend and my intention was to then switch myself over to stay in the cabin with my parents. This couldn't be done because apparently, while the boyfriend/mother cabin could accommodate 3 people, the cabin with my parents could not. I asked then if we could all switch out to get me and my parents in the 3 person cabin and my boyfriend and his mother in the 2 person cabin. I was told that this could not be done without me being subject to (prohibitively for me) high fees for making the changes.

It wasn't as if I was asking for something complicated within their cabin allocation system-- they were MY TWO CABINS for which I had shelled out close to $4, 000! Carnival told me that I could only make these sorts of changes unpenalized before 90 days prior to the sail date. I read to them the line about the 60 day policy from my reservation confirmation-- they insisted that it didn't say that! I faxed it back to them and they said: 'Well that's wrong.' ??!!??

For those of you who have sailed Carnival, you'll know that we can not easily exchange room keys and work it out unofficially by ourselves because your key is you identity on the ship. It is relevant to the story to tell you that I have a very timid personality and I am always doing everything I can to avoid conflict. (This usually ends up leaving me walked all over.) I actually THANKED the customer service representative for 'trying' (uh, I mean ignoring that I had the 60 day thing in writing) and hung up.

I then started to get really upset about being walked all over like that when I had this thing in writing and I was already shelling out so much money. I decided to call one more time before dropping it to see if another representative would give me the same story or not. This person was nice-- though timid me was horrified to discover during our conversation that the previous person I talked to had put a note in my 'file' flagging me as a 'problem customer'!

He told me that, under the same 90 day change policy the earlier person quoted me, rep 1 should not have allowed me to add the extra person in the first place. (I guess he made an exception since it was more income for Carnival eh?) Rep 2 eventually got the changes made but added the zinger that 'My manger wants you to know that no more changes will be made for you.' This left me with a very bad taste in my mouth considering how excessively polite and non-demanding I am.

Anyway, on to the commonalities of the last three cruises.

Food: As many have said before here on this site, the food is very cold and usually greasy. I was sooooo craving a hot meal when I got home today. There were also several wonderful food selections, especially in the formal dining room, but still they were always freezing!

Service in General: As one of 3, 200 passengers on a ship that turns over to a new 3, 200 passengers each week, with staff that spends months at a time serving and cleaning up after all of them, I am under no illusions that I am 'a special guest' and I understand that the staff members may not be feeling properly rewarded. However, this is an expensive trip for guests and many Carnival employees need to work on the illusion.

-Waitstaff, bartenders, and food service workers on the Lido deck seemed permanently pissed off.

-The cruise director and his staff leading activities made no effort to conceal how hokey and repetitive their jobs are. Several times I saw them openly mocking guests behind their backs. (If that sounds like a contradiction, what I'm trying to say is that it is not the good-natured joking kind of mocking for the entertainment of guests.)

-Housekeeping was very shoddy and inconsistent. Every single evening I failed to notice that my pool/beach towels were taken away (when they should have been replaced or even left alone) and had to run around like crazy in the morning to try to find new ones minutes before my shore excursions were scheduled to leave.

Service the last night: This is my biggest gripe!!! There are usually several activities and fanfare on the second to last night, but what about the last night?! I am still on vacation and I feel robbed of an entire evening of it every time I go on a Carnival cruise! The service then is completely non-existent and nothing is going on. It is as if they are saying-- go to bed after dinner so you will have an easier time waking up so we can kick you out of your cabin first thing in the morning!

The famous towel animals are noticeably absent on the last night. Several things, for example the ice cream machines, are not replenished. The late night buffet selection is very very meager. The ship becomes very empty looking-- the staff disappear and I guess that the guests retire to their cabins since nothing is going on. The usually attentive formal dining room wait staff always seem to make themselves scarce on the last night. This year I went on this cruise with a first time cruiser. I never mentioned my thoughts about this 'last night phenomenon' to him but he certainly picked up on it and asked me if it was always like this. Unfortunately, I had to say yes. :(

  • Resolution statement

    Customer care service did everything in their power to resolve this complaint. All attempts to contact the complainant have failed. Therefore, this complaint has been annulled and must not be considered where image of the company in question and it's services are concerned.

  • Carnival Cruise Lines Customer Care's Response, Apr 08, 2016

    Thank you for sharing Valerie’s comments with us.

    We’re truly sorry to hear that so many aspects of her cruise aboard the Carnival Valor didn’t live up to her expectations. Those are absolutely not the kind of memories we’d ever have wanted her to take home with her.

    Without her booking information (booking number, or saildate and her surname) I’m not able to address the specifics of her issues, but I’m glad to hear she reported her concerns to our Guest Care Department (though of course I apologize if not all of our representatives provided the caring, attentive service we always strive to extend to our valued guests.)

    We’re really sorry we came up short in so many areas this time. If Valerie would like to provide her booking information, I’ll be happy to look her case over one more time and respond to her directly.


    Guest Care Specialist
    Carnival Cruise Lines | 3655 NW 87th Avenue | Miami, FL 33178 |

  • Carnival Cruise Lines Customer Care's Response, Jul 13, 2016

    Without more information about your booking, like your booking number, or your name, the ship and date on which you sailed, I’m not able to address your specific situation, but let me say how sorry we are that you were disappointed with the changes that had to be made to the itinerary on your sailing.

    We understand how disappointing it is when plans change, as many cruises are chosen for the itinerary. However, as stated in our ticket contract, we do reserve the right to alter the itinerary as needed. The safety and well-being of our guests is always our primary concern. We want to assure you that this is not what we would have wished for your cruise vacation, but since weather situations are outside of our control, it’s not something for which we generally offer compensation.

    Thank you again for reaching out. If you’d like to contact us directly about your specific situation, our email address is


    Guest Care Specialist
    Carnival Cruise Line | 3655 NW 87th Avenue | Miami, FL 33178 |

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  • Je
      27th of Aug, 2008
    0 Votes

    Western Caribbean on Fascination 8/18/08:

    So we made it to Ft Lauderdale successfully, despite the bumpy ride due to Tropical Storm Fay. Registration went fine, boarded the ship and made our way to our suite. HA! The ‘suite’ we booked and paid for turned out to be a 9 x 9 room with a king sized bed and two Pullman beds which pulled out of the walls and rested approximately 6 inches ABOVE and covering the king sized bed. How handy. So we used one of the Pullman beds and my husband, daughter and I slept cozily together. How romantic. We complained at the information desk then they made up this interesting story that they were not liable since we didn’t book thru them, which is curious as I booked online at They claimed I talked to someone named ‘Tommy’ at a 217 area code. Hmmmmm. Must’ve been my alter ago who talked to Tommy. So we were stuck but going to make the best of it.

    So we go to dinner with our new table-mates they happen to mention that the itinerary had changed (as they had been notified at registration as had ‘everyone else’). We were not going to hit Key West or Cozumel but were going to Grand Turk Island in the British West Indies. They chose this direction as Carnival OWNS this island, so it cost them nothing. By going there, they actually MADE money off all of us as they didn't have to pay docking fees at a location they do not own. They offered us a 20$ ‘Inconvenience reimbursement’. Not sure I have to mention what I suggested they do with that….Again, we ventured down to the Information desk to find out if this was the truth and inquire as to why this was news to us, 6 hours after we registered. Again, they offered no explanation or apology. They, more importantly, offered no information on the island so we were flying blind, to say the least. We reviewed the new shore excursions that were to be offered. Out of the 10 offered (yes only 10), I could do 0 (yes, none) due to health issues. Btw, 9/10 of these excursions were snorkeling/scubaing. Nice diversity. The island itself is 7 x 1.5 miles wide. The highlight of the tour was showing us the power plant and the makeshift prison. Look it up online and you will see that I am not kidding.

    So instead of stopping daily to have my daughters see new lands and explore their horizons, we stopped once for a total of 8 hours off the ship. 8 / 120 hours.

    There was one pool (not the 3 advertised) for all the people to share. Need I say more? we all were grumpy to say the least.

    We termed the main course meals "Meat Skeet" as three of the meals (NY Strip, Roast Beef and Pork Loin) were so tough, neither of us could chew thru any of it.

    The ship itself was 'ghetto' for certain. If you enjoy cruising on a ship with ZERO entertainment, ONE POOL for thousands of people, tiny, crummy rooms, and a ship looking like the last itme it was decorated was back in the 70's, this is the cruise for you! sad to say Karaoke was the highligh of each night (I HATE karoake).

    Interestingly, we ran into a girl on the flight home today who went on the Royal Caribbean cruise (the one we were SUPPOSED to go on) who had a LOVELY time. They were also not able to go to Key West (oh well) but had NO TROUBLE getting into Cozumel as well as Belize.


    So, here is what I have learned from this experience.

    DO NOT EVER go on Carnival.
    If you are booking a cruise, DO NOT use the online system. Talk to a live body and TAKE NAMES.
    Did I mention not to take Carnival?

  • Mr
      6th of Sep, 2008
    0 Votes

    carnival has made me never want to take another, this was my first experience and more than likely my last .the weather was nasty, the food was terrible and there was really nothing to do on board the fascination this really stunk.we sailed right through hurricane fay which almost killed me and my husband 8/18/08.thats on a monday. i was so nausiated and sick for a whole week, besides we got jipped out of our scheduled trip.we went to the stupid island of grand turk caicos.which is so underdeveloped nothing to do really but drink allday duhh!!.Iwould like a refund or some type of compensation for this horrible cruise besides this was our honeymoon and birthday week.hated the whole cruise, hate carnival services.

  • Jo
      1st of Feb, 2009
    0 Votes

    You guys are off your nuts. I went on a carnival cruise with my family for 7 days. We went on the Triumph. Every night when we came back to our stateroom it was always clean. The whole ship was clean. The food was great. They had plenty of things to do onboard. We got to go to all of our ports and it was sunny. I did not have to pay for any activities. The crew was friendly. They always asked you did you need anything or were we enjoying our cruise. We made it ontime. The ship was not ghetto. So if you ever want to go on a cruise that is fun then you shuold definently go on carnival cruise lines. That is why we go on one every year. We go on a different ship every time and they were all delightful.

  • Ca
      16th of Feb, 2010
    0 Votes

    I have been on the Fascination and the complaints here are spot on. Carnival is simply the worst company I have ever dealt with- don't tell me I'm crazy, cold food is cold. I didn't have a hot meal during the entire trip! Everything was cold- the tast was cold, the steak was cold (and awful), the soup was cold. The whole ship smelled like smoke. The rooms were clean and generous, I'll give them that- but all in all, RC or Disney offers much better cruises and I will never have anything to do with Carnival again.

  • Ve
      26th of Oct, 2010
    0 Votes

    Never use Princess cruises, especially the Star Princess - senior staff deliver bad service - use any other!

  • Ve
      26th of Oct, 2010
    0 Votes

    Never use Princess cruises, especially the Star Princess - senior staff deliver bad service - use any other! They are rude, arrogant and tell lies - they must be the worse staff ever!!!

  • 0 Votes

    How bad is Carnival?

    We went several times on Royal Carribean and were very satisfied. Is there a major difference??

    Is it really true that the food is cold and greasy? What is the bedbug protection protocol?

  • Ca
      14th of Dec, 2010
    0 Votes

    Just to let you know cruises are not the only thing they scam on. Back when they had an airline I signed up to be typed in a 737 Airliner. This was presented to me as a job offer upon completion of their flight program. As a former Eastern Airlines pilot I saw no problem in flying the smaller aircraft. I laid out the $6000, 00 for the training. On the first day of ground school they had some girl who had no flight experience trying to teach us 737 systems. Well it gets better when it came to start simulator training we find out that the simulator they were using had been disqualified by the FAA as a flight training device. Now to make things even more interesting Mickey the president of Carnival files bankruptcy with the excuse that stock woukd drop if any of the aircraft had an accident. BULL##### the real reason was 80 million dollars was owed to creditors. As a result we recieved no completion of our training or any money returned to us. The only good part of this saga is the SOB died however looks like there is a new crop of ###holes are carrying on the tradition of screwing people! I would advise ant one to stay away from these crooks. Just talk to those people who were on board the Carnival ship that caught on fire and while they were on the outside forward decks the cabin crew was rifleing through their things stealing the passenger's valuables(, cameras ect..) STAY AWAY

    former airline captain

  • Mr
      12th of Mar, 2011
    0 Votes

    I would agree totaly. I am not impressed by the services provided by Carnival. Fortunately my cruise was paid for through a third party; with that said I had a bad feeling when check in started. the person checking me in tried to argue with me about needing a passport or birth certificate. I had an enhanced drivers license which is authourized for travel by car, train, or boat to Mexico and Canada. (carnival confirmed this well prior to sailing) After boarding the ship my wife and I were trying to navigate the elevators to get to our cabin. Elevator opens out walks a security gaurd, we confirm it is a down elevator and has we attempt to get in the gaurd realized he was on the wrong deck and pushed by us prevented us from getting in the elevator. Then after the cruise the big surprize. As you are all aware they have the sail and sign card. They pre-authorize $50.00 then they let you charge to your account while on ship. what they don't tell you is that the pre-auth every purchase holding funds from your account (debit cards) Not just tallying it up at the end. thats fine you know your budget you do not exceed it and you are fine. Unless they (Carnival) duplicated the pre-authorizations not once but twice hold twice the amount you purchased causing you to be over your budget without knowledge. So when I called to complain that thier error caused me to encure overdraft charges their response was "we are authorized to pre-authorise every purchase" It took three explenations by me to the person on the phone before she understood that they screwed up. Her comeback then; "If you would like to lodge the complaint in writing here is the address." I told them I hope they will enjoy my letter as it is doubtfull I will ever sail Carnival again, especially on my dime.

  • Co
      7th of Apr, 2016
    0 Votes

    I was tasked planning a family vacation. I literally had to talk everyone into going on Carnival rather than Royal Caribbean. So I planned a group booking. Well it is totally not worth all the effort that goes into group booking because Carnival does not keep the cabins together or honor any connecting room requests! Oh yeah, you can pay EXTRA if you want that. Travel agent has talked to three different supervisors. Next big family vacation/reunion will be on Royal Caribbean...Connie

  • Co
      7th of Apr, 2016
    0 Votes

    Paying extra for room assignments is a terrible. It used to not be that way.

  • Gl
      11th of Jul, 2016
    0 Votes

    The ship was scheduled to arrive in Ocho Rios at around 10:00am the ship was delayed 3hrs due to weather which shifted everything for passengers. Excursions were cancelled/rushed. Our family was not allowed to eat dinner. A credit should be given for this inconvenience. I did not get what I paid for. Not happy!

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