Checking in – The Carnival Imagination, Thanksgiving 2008

My apologies for taking so long to get this blog posted!  It has been in my save box for a year, and I’m finally taking the time to get caught up on things!

DAY 1 – Jim drops us all off at the terminal, and he goes to park the car. Because she uses a wheelchair, they take Dot in through the VIP entrance, and she and Russell take the girls in with them. I wait for Jim outside, then we get in line. The line really moves pretty quickly, and within a half hour, we are on the ship. We are told when we check in that our cabin has been switched, and we are now in E-30. This is next door to Dot and Russ, which is where I thought we were supposed to be anyway. I asked when we checked in if the new room would still accommodate a party of 4, and I am assured that it will.

We come onboard, and we head to lunch first thing. The doors to our deck are closed, saying the stateroom is not ready until 1:30. Dot and Russ are already there with the girls, so we go up and find them. This is our first taste of the chaos that is the Lido deck. Mobbed in an understatement, and there is such confusion! They have multiple stations, which is fine for the pizza and sandwiches, but there are two sides of the buffet inside, both of which have different things. Then there are two grills outside on the deck. One offers mongolian BBQ type items, the other one is a grill with burgers and hot dogs. But the lines for any of them are incredibly long. The sandwich line is at least a 20 minute wait, and the pizza line is really deep. I get in the buffet line on one side with Jim, but I want to try things from the other side. That means waiting twice. Outrageous. I am glad when lunch is finally over.

It is just after 1:30, and we can go down to our cabin. We open the door and find the two lower singles pushed together to make a full size bed; and there is one upper bunk. But we have two kids in our cabin. Jim calls the pursers desk, and they assure us that a rollaway bed will fit into the room for Granuaile. We doubt that, and he asks for someone to come down. A woman comes down and she says there is no way they can get a rollaway bed in the room. She says we’ll have to wait for a cabin steward to come and see what he can do to situate the room. Jim insists that they send someone immediately, but she says they don’t come on duty until 3 PM. He doesn’t want to wait that long, because if we don’t all fit in this room, we are not going to be able to stay on the ship. She says she will have someone come as soon as she can, but she doesn’t see how they are going to get another bed in here.

Rather than wait for something to happen, Jim calls the 1800 Carnival line that we used when we booked the trip. He gets someone on the phone who says they never should have been able to book 4 people in the cabin we are in. He puts us on hold, but when he gets back on the phone, he is back pedaling and claiming that they can indeed get a rollaway bed in here, and on the sailing before ours, they did fit 4 people in this cabin. We are in serious doubt. They are trying to reach someone on the ship who can come and get us sorted out.

Eventually, we do see a cabin steward, who says it is not possible to get a rollaway bed in our cabin, but they can put a mattress on the floor. Um, no. No one wants the baby to have to sleep on the floor. He says he will bring a rollaway bed in and see if he can make it fit. We are back on the phone with the 1800 number, one cell phone has already died, and the second is on it’s way. The staff here are incredibly uncooperative, and we are now being told that the pursers’ desk is involved in a medical emergency and unable to help. Someone will call us back.

The ship has set sail, we have missed the on deck sail away party, and we are getting ready for the muster drill. We are obligated to attend the drill, so we go, although there is definitely a damper placed on our first day of vacation.

We walk back after the muster drill, Granuaile sleeping in Jim’s arms, and we walk into our cabin to find out that our cabin steward has returned, set up a bed, and now we are unable to walk in the room. He has set the bed up so it fits, but in making it fit, we have zero access to any part of the room. To get to the bed for Jim and I, we have to walk over the bed he set up. We cannot walk around the foot of the bed, because with Eilis’ upper bunk down, the foot of the bed meets the side of the upper bunk, so you would have to be about 3 feet tall to make that work. We cannot get into the desk, or the drawers, and now unless you are sitting on Granuaile’s bed, there is no place to sit in the room. We are immediately back on the phone to both the purser’s desk and the 1800 number to see who can help us. The purser’s desk is still embroiled in a medical emergency. The 1800 number tells us they have called the pursers desk and been assured that we are the number one priority after the crisis has been concluded. We have no option but to wait for something to figure itself out. The first day of the vacation has been miserable, there is a definite lack of customer service, and we are beyond frustrated.

It is out of that frustration that Jim starts playing with furniture. He eventually moves the baby’s bed in such a manner that it fits up against the wall at the foot of the big bed. We are not going to be able to use that floor space at all, but we can now use the desk, the chair, the dresser drawers, and we have the ability to get to our bed without stepping on Granuaile. Whoever sleeps in our bed by the window will have to climb over the other person to get to the bathroom, but at least we don’t risk stepping on Gracie.

It appears that everyone else has gotten their luggage on our deck, so we ask someone who says that there is some luggage they can’t identify down in the lobby. Now, when we checked in and were given the new cabin assignment, in addition to insuring us that we would have room for 4 people, they assured us that our luggage would be properly re-routed. We come to find out that our bags were delivered to the original cabin we were supposed to be in. Those people – THANK GOD – told the staff they were not their bags, and those bags were deposited down in the lobby. Jim went down to the lobby, and there sat our bags, among a group of others with no identifiable tags, with the original tags on them indicating the other stateroom number. I wonder what Carnival does if they deliver your bags to a cabin where someone decides to just claim it as their own? Thank goodness for honest people.

We went back to the cabin, luggage in tow, and unpacked our bags.  The ship is so crowded, with a lot of family reunions, hundreds of kids, and it just seems like this might be more hectic than restful.  I’m not terribly optimistic that we are going to have a peaceful and quiet holiday.  But the Christmas decorations are pretty, the drinks cold and fruity, and we’ll do our best to have fun and make it work!

Monday

I think WE are up at the crack of dawn, but by the time we wake up, Russell is already dressed and getting something to eat. I get a quick shower, then wake Jim, who’s lazy ass is still in bed instead of trying to get things ready. He wakes Brighid, who throws her clothes on, and then she wakes the other two girls and we get them ready. Figuring they will fall back to sleep in the car, we don’t feed them, and we have to return the rental car to the airport before we can be on our way, so Jim and I head out to try and get the paperwork to return the car done before Russell can make it to the airport. On the way to the airport, Jim asks if I packed his razor, and I did not, so we have to stop at Walgreens to get a razor and shaving cream. That gives Russell the opportunity to pass us and he beats us to the airport. When we finally get there, of course Jim has a problem with the return, he ends up standing at the counter on the phone with a manager, until I come up behind him and tell him we HAVE TO LEAVE NOW. Russell has been waiting, and it’s time to get on the road.

We stop at a rest area on the turnpike and the kids grab breakfast. Eilis and Granuaile get french toast sticks and the rest of us grab something from Starbucks. That holds everyone until we get to another rest stop, where we all hit the bathroom before making the rest of the trip down to Miami. We are at the port around 11:30, which is just about when we can start checking in.

Up until now, Eilis and Granuaile do not know where we are going on this vacation. When we pull into the port, Eilis made the comment that she was going to be Sea Sick – not sea sick, but sick of the sea 🙁 That was disappointing. Granuaile wants to go home. Another disappointment. I am hoping that when we get onboard, and Eilis gets into the kids club, she’ll feel better about the vacation. Granuaile is just going to have to get over herself.

If It’s Wednesday, This Must Be Athens

Wednesday, May 30th – we can sleep in today!  Yay!  It’s the first time the whole trip, and Brighid is snoring away.  The sun shines in at 5:30 AM, and when I wake up, outside my window is a group of scruffy looking men doing something nautical. 

Disney Magic review

Name: Anna Skamarakas
Email: jims@msn.com
Age: 33
Occupation: Stay at Home Mom
NumberOfCruises: 1
TravelAgent: No
Ship: Disney-Magic
SailingDate: July 30th, 1998
Itinerary: 5 day Maiden Boyage to Nassau and Castaway Cay
FoodDiningRoom: 90
CruiseDirector: 0
CabinComfort: 90
FoodRoomService: 50
CruiseStaff: 95
CabinAmenities: 90
FoodLidoDeck: 50
DiningRoomService: 95
CabinQuietness: 80
FoodMidnightBuffets:
CabinSteward: 80
ShoreExcVariety: 50
FoodVariety: 75
DeckService: 0
ShoreExcValue: 50
GoodForHoneymoon: 75
CasinoStaff:
PrivateIsland: 95
GoodForFamilies: 80
LoungeService: 25
TenderService:
GoodForSeniors: 65
BeautySalonStaff:
EntertainmentLounges: 80
WheelchairAccess: 25
ExerciseFacilities:
EntertShowLounge: 85
OverallPortsofCall: 80
BeautySalon:
EntertainmentPoolside:
CruiseActivities: 70
Casino:
AirSeaProgram:
MedicalFacilities: 90
ShipCleanliness: 90
EmbarkDisembark: 20
DiscoNightclubs: 85
DeckSpace: 90
Stabilization: 95
ShopsOnBoard: 80
SpaceRatio: 90
OverallCruiseValue: 50
Submit: Submit Review
Date: 04 Aug 1998
Time: 22:11:39
Remote Name: 153.35.28.178
Remote User:

Comments

We had high expectations, as this was our first cruise and the maiden voyage for a company that is reknowned for customer service. The ship was
beautiful, very nostalgic and very clean. Our stateroom would have comfortably accomodated a family of four or five. It had a beautiful verandah, which
we thought was quite unique. There was no midnight buffet, something we had been told not to miss by friends who had been on cruises before. Instead,
at around 11:45 PM, snacks were passed through the lounges on trays by waiters – one pass per room. That was very disappointing.

There are four
dining rooms, one of which is for adults only and requires reservations and a $5 service charge. Within the first hour of boarding, this restaurant was
completely booked, leaving ourselves and many other guests disappointed again. The other dining rooms were all lovely, and the food was delicious
(although the waiters themselves apologized a few times for the small portions). The ice cream parlor was open only for about 2 hours in the afternoon,
as was the hot dog/hamburger stand. You could get pizza until 1 AM, but the room service menu was extremely limited. Children are well taken care of
with the Oceaneer’s Club. They have planned activities for children over the age of 3. Our 6 year old daughter loved it.

Adults, however, had little to do
during the day other than read, hang out at the pool, or watch television. The ship board movie theatre showed two movies daily, both of which were
animated Disney features or one Disney cartoon and one second run movie. There was a nightclub area called Beat Street, which offered a jazz club,
country and western music, and a comedy club. There were only two shops on board, aside from the counter where you could buy liquor and cigars.

Both shops were lovely, but the wait time to check out with purchases exceeded an hour and a half. Our handicapped mother was also on board. She
had great difficulty getting on and off the ship, and without the aid of a wheel chair, she tired easily going to and from areas of the ship. With a wheel
chair, it was extremely tight fitting into the elevators and hallways. Disney has a number of bugs to work out, not the least of which are checking the
plumbing and air conditioning systems. There were a number of stateroom bathrooms not working, and several of the rest rooms in the common areas
were closed from the first day on. Also, we had to pour butter into our rolls one night because there was no air conditioning in the dining room, and it
took 3 of the 5 days for our stateroom air conditioner to work properly.