Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Our Carnival Liberty 2.0 [Party Cruise WOOOO!] Vacation, Part 2

(First...there will be a LOT of text in this post, but I *promise* to get to the pictures, many of them, and soon! Unfortunately before we were able to take many, a whoooollleeee lot of icky stuff happened, stuff that really needs to be aired out as I feel it was very poorly handled on Carnival's part)

Okay, I left off in my last entry mentioning that post-Guy's burgers, we ended up at Guest Services...though that actually wasn't the absolute next thing that happened.

Remember how I said that I was told by the woman who checked us in - the one who gave us our S&S cards - to go to the Golden Dining Room AT 3:30 PM to get our dinner reservation(s) fixed? (By the way, I clarified this with her TWICE before walking away)

Well, we finished our food from Guy's right about 3. I kid you not, I looked at my phone and it was 3:01 when we stood up and decided to head down to the MDR early. We figured better safe than sorry.

We arrived at the MDR no later than 3:05, only to be told that the maitre d' was actually there from 1 - 3 and had already left. I wish I had written down the name of the girl who "helped" us - because she was seriously downright rude, despite the fact that we were only a few minutes late and were actually far earlier than the time we were originally told to arrive. She refused to do absolutely anything at all and told us that we would have to just go to our separate dining reservations as scheduled, at 6 PM and not a minute before because the maitre d' wouldn't be there before that time, that night and that my husband and I - the ones scheduled to eat in the Golden dining room - could speak to the maitre d' and MAYBE (yes, just "maybe", not definitely) get our issue fixed for the rest of the week.

Honestly, having worked for Disney for five years (four of those in their restaurants) and then worked as a travel agent for about a year and a half, I deemed this nothing short of unacceptable, and we marched on down to guest services (thankfully there was no line). First I got my S&S card fixed (and was told that the problem was something to do with my name, even though I hadn't changed my name on this booking and again, never had a problem linking my past guest number with this booking when dealing with it before embarkation).

Then I had to spend a good 15 minutes convincing the girl to help us with the dining issue. Honestly, I had to reiterate to the girl at the GS desk at least three times that we had linked our bookings together, been told we would have dining together, double checked and been told both those things again closer to the cruise, been given incorrect information by the girl who checked us in, and dealt with an extremely rude MDR employee who made me go from sweet "if you could please fix this for us since it was Carnival's mistake in the first place" Tara to firm "this better get fixed today or you'll face my wrath" Tara.

In the end, it took me crossing my arms over my chest and exclaiming that this was the absolute worst first day of a cruise I'd ever had before she finally took down our information and promised to email it to the maitre d' immediately. She told us to go to the MDR at 5:30 to talk to him. I told her that we had been informed the maitre d' wouldn't be there until 6. She insisted that we should go at 5:30. I clarified the time with her once again before we said thank you and walked away.

And bought ourselves a drink to calm the frustration, of course! So, technically the second drink of the cruise (the first being a mojito from the Lido deck, but we were in such a rush to fix the dining stuff that I never got a picture :( )

At least my chocolate martini was yummy.

And then it was pretty much muster drill time. Quick and easy, though my hubby was confused as to why it was outside on a deck when on our previous two cruises (his first and second cruises ever) it had been in the ship's theater...

After that...sail-away!

As you can see, it was a bit crowded on the top deck...good luck finding a spot to squeeze in a picture or two of your own, haha...

As soon as I'd taken the above (plus a few more, but who needs 20 pictures of the Miami skyline in a cruise review, right? ;) ) I headed up to Fish-n-Chips for our Cruise Critic meet and greet! This was by far the most active roll call thread I've ever participated in, and it was great! Our meet and greet was short and quick...just some hellos/introductions and the exchange of monies and wristbands for our cocktail party, which was scheduled for the first sea day. We'd meant to talk about other activities for later in the week, but I think we were all just so excited to be there that we forgot...oops!

Now I've spent so long writing this (sorry about all the above text, I swear) that I need to take a break, but I'll try to be back later with posts about more important stuff...a.k.a. dinner and the Alchemy Bar!

Unfortunately, though, you'll first have to read more about our Adventures in Guest Services.

No, not kidding. But I wish I was. Trust me. Sigh.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Our Carnival Liberty 2.0 [Party Cruise WOOOO!] Vacation, Part 1

First things first - I originally booked this cruise as part of a group, and did so over a year in advance. When it came down to the wire we only ended up with 5 cabins (the absolute min for a Carnival group booking, to get any perks or whatever). Then when full deposit date came around - six months before sailing - everyone dropped out but us. So. We were obviously no longer a group booking.

Fast forward to...I don't know, March/April. A friend of mine was looking to go on a trip for her 5 year anniversary with her husband, we ended up chatting and in the end they booked the same cruise as us. Which was awesome because I'm of the mindset that traveling in groups is always more fun :)

Here we are! This was taken on the second night of our cruise at what became our favorite hangout spot...the ALCHEMY BAR! From left to right - Rachel, her husband Josh, myself, and my husband Steve...

Of course as *soon* as Rachel & Josh booked, I called Carnival and linked our bookings together so that we would have the same table at dinner. We were all confirmed for early seating, anyway. I even called again about a week or a week and a half before our cruise to make sure the bookings were definitely linked and that we would definitely have the same dinner table. But...more on that later.

We left home on Friday the 11th and drove to Ft. Pierce, FL. It was a nearly-9-hour drive for us, and we worked a half day Friday morning, so we were exhausted...this meant sleeping in until about 9:30 Saturday morning, checking out right at 11, and driving the last 2 hours to Miami for a 1 PM-ish arrival at the port.

And yeah, we definitely drove through the city with "Miami" by Will Smith playing on the car stereo.

Now, because I totally sucked about this on every. single. previous. cruise. - I actually made note of when we got in line for security and whatnot. Yeah, I'm a geek, what can I say. But what with parking (D garage; ship was leaving from terminal E), unloading the car, and taking the shuttle bus over to the ship, we were in line for security at 1:33 PM.

The line had stretched outside and it was definitely hot out, but thankfully it moved somewhat fast. We were in our room at 2:26 PM and I'd say that only about half of that time was spent waiting to get through security (so less than 30 minutes). HUGE improvement from my Valor cruise out of Miami in 2005...two hours to get on the ship and most of that spent waiting in line in a giant, non-air-conditioned warehouse.

Unfortunately...the not-very-long wait to board was probably the most decent part of the beginning of our cruise experience. First, when I checked in they gave me a blue card. In itself not a HUGE deal, especially as this was only my third Carnival cruise, but considering they gave my husband a gold one I was obviously really confused. I mean, they had my past guest number when I booked. And I'd been signing into for months, where both my past guest number AND my cruise booking were listed. Under the same account, of course. When I asked the girl if she could fix it, I was told I'd have to go to guest services. Which didn't please me because on our last cruise guest services pretty much always had a line a mile long. But the girl checking me in - you know, at the place they print the cards - swore she couldn't do anything.

Then, in looking at my card, I noticed a second issue. Earlier that day Rachel had sent me a picture of her sign and sail card when she and Josh boarded. I had noted that they were in the Silver Dining Room for dinner, while our sign and sail cards said we were in the Golden Dining Room. I asked the girl who was checking us in why we had different dining assignments, but - surprise surprise (sarcasm) - she couldn't help us with that either. She *did* tell us to go to the Golden Dining Room "at 3:30 PM today" (yes, that is exactly what she said) to talk to the maitre d', and she said that all four of us would have to be there. I literally set an alarm on my phone and then we were off, on the ship and on our way to our cabin.

Our room was balcony cabin 6316 and sad to say that on this cruise I never got any pictures of it. We kind of made a mess of it almost immediately by unpacking a bunch of our stuff and it was never really clean enough for me to feel comfortable taking pictures. Oops?

After dropping off our carry-ons (by the way, *so* nice to not have to lug them around for an hour or more while waiting for our room to be ready - not sure I'll ever board a ship first thing in the morning again, haha) we met Rachel & Josh on the Lido deck for drinks (and food, for us). Guy's burgers had just a few people in line so I grabbed a "straight up" burger.

Yes, the burger was awesome! To be honest I was always a fan of the burgers Carnival had on the Lido, so I was a bit concerned about the change, but let's just say that we ate at Guy's a few times on this cruise.

Coming up: Guest Services.

Again. And again. And again.

Story of our cruise, not that we let it ruin the trip as a whole!