Eastern Caribbean Cruise ~ Ports of Call

Last week, I recapped my recent cruise on the Carnival Liberty by reviewing the ship (you can find that post here), and this week I'm going to review the ports of call. We booked the cruise knowing we'd be repeating 3 of the 4 stops, and that the only new stop to us would be Grand Turk. Imagine our extreme disappointment that as we were pulling into Grand Turk, our ship turned around due to weather, and we sailed away from what looked like an absolutely gorgeous island (that had another Carnival ship in port!) and gained an extra rocky day at sea. But more on that later.. let's talk about the good stuff first.

Nassau


H had been to Nassau countless times on cruises with his family, and we both stopped there a little over a year ago on a Bahamas cruise with a group of friends to celebrate a friend's 30th birthday. However, neither of us had ever been to Atlantis. So, we decided to pay the astronomical price for an excursion there while we were in port on our first day. Our excursion included a shuttle to and from the resort (which included the bridge toll to get onto Paradise Island), a tour of the grounds, and full access to the aquariums, water slides, beach, and pool areas of the resort. 


It was beautiful there, and so surreal to finally be exploring the place I've seen on tv and in magazines for years. We toured the aquariums first before hitting up the water park, and eventually we went down to the beach to swim in the aqua blue water before shelling out $14 for those pretty yard drinks.



St. Thomas


St. Thomas was another stop H had been to several times with his family, and we had cruised there together back in 2009 on Royal Caribbean's Adventure of the Seas. Last time we were there we did a snorkeling catamaran sail to St. John, so this time we wanted to enjoy St. Thomas and go to Magen's Bay.

We were also excited to spend time with a friend who was recently transferred there for work, and she was going to meet us at the beach and then show us around the island and give us more of a local's view which was amazing.


It was raining when we pulled into port, but it was nice and sunny on the other side of the island for lounging at Magen's Bay. 


The view from our friend's place... imagine waking up every morning to that! Absolute paradise! After a quick stop to check out the gorgeous views from her place, she showed us where we could pick up the cheapest bottles of Cruzan rum (made in St. Croix) and then we went to Iggies Beach Bar for some drinks.


We ended the day with one more drink near the pier at Mojo's before getting back on the ship. Bonus points for it being happy hour! 


San Juan


Woke up to this beautiful view from our balcony in San Juan, and enjoyed some room service breakfast before disembarking and walking around Old San Juan.


San Juan was another multiple repeat for us from various cruises, long flight layovers, and we've also stayed there before taking a cruise out of San Juan at the Caribe Hilton. So, we didn't book any excursions, and only planned to get off the ship and walk around the city for a little while and come back on the ship and lay out before the pool deck got crowded again. But we managed to get some beautiful pictures, and picked up some souvenirs we didn't pick up during past trips.








Grand Turk


I was so excited as we were pulling into Grand Turk (look at how close we got!) that I started to take pictures. I'm so glad I did, because this is as close as we got. If I hadn't, I would have had nothing to show for the beautiful island. 


Look at that... another Carnival ship in port. We were told we turned around due to high winds, and the Carnival Sunshine was able to dock since they got in earlier that day. I was just in shock that we got that close, and the whole reason we booked the cruise in the first place slipped away from us as we turned around and left. I understand that itineraries can change due to unforeseen circumstances, but when you spend your hard earned money and vacation time on a trip for a certain destination, and it's taken away from you in the blink of an eye you'd expect a large corporation such as Carnival Cruise Lines to be somewhat sympathetic towards the unfortunate circumstances. A little something extra would have gone a long way in keeping the disappointed guests happy who were stuck on board an extra day at sea spending money in the bars, the casino, the spa, etc.. 

We have filed several complaints, each one going unanswered. We filled out the survey recently, and got a response that the crew members we praised would get recognition, but absolutely no mention of our unfortunate experience. 

It makes me think of my friend who missed her sailing on a Royal Caribbean cruise due to a flight connection that got cancelled, and she ended up missing the first 2 days on board and had to meet the ship in Aruba (the first stop). Royal Caribbean reimbursed her and her husband for the time missed AND gave them vouchers for another free cruise. Them missing the first few days wasn't even Royal Caribbean's problem (it was American Airlines problem), but they stepped up and did what they thought would make their guests happy and coming back. To me, that is excellent customer service. I am by no means looking for a voucher for a free cruise, I just think that if Carnival was prepared when missing a port due to extraordinary circumstances such as a free round of drinks or money off the on-board sail and sign account would go a long way in showing that they care about their guest's happiness. And the fact that our complaints have fallen on deaf ears has just soured us even further towards Carnival which was a bad move on their part considering we cruise 1-2 times a year, and will never sail with them again. 

I apologize for the book, and want everyone to know we had an amazing vacation despite our disappointment in missing Grand Turk, and thoroughly enjoyed the other three ports as well as the ship. Carnival just has some serious changes to make in their guest relations/customer service procedures. A little bit goes a long way in keeping guests happy.

Have you ever had a bad experience on a cruise? If so, how was it handled?

24 comments:

  1. I LOVE ST. THOMAS! We did a cruise when I was younger and St. Thomas was my favorite island. It is gorgeous! I can only imagine how much more fun it is when you're old enough to drink ;)!

    Still so sorry y'all missed Grand Turk, that is so horrible and rude of the cruise line. Don't apologize, vent your feelings. It's awful that Carnival didn't do anything to make up for it. You would think with ALLLLL the bad press they've had in the past few years they would be going above and beyond. Before this I hadn't planned to book with Carnival again, but now, they've lost me forever. I'll pay the extra money for RC or Princess.

    Glad you were able to enjoy your trip, it looks beautiful! xoxo

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  2. The three stops you made all look like so much fun and so different from each other! I would be livid if that happened to me and the fact that they cannot get back to you is absolutely absurd! That is horrific customer service!

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  3. You are REALLY making me want to go on another cruise. I thought about doing a little one for my birthday but we'll see! It really sucks that you missed out on the one port you really wanted to go to and that Carnival hasn't done anything to assist you or make it better. I wish I could say that surprised me though. Carnival isn't known for their outstanding customer service.

    <3, Pamela
    Sequins & Sea Breezes

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  4. First, your photos look beautiful - I stayed at Atlantis as a teen and would love to go back someday! However, the lack of customer service you received is simply unacceptable - I can understand why you wouldn't travel with them again.

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  5. I'll start with the good...I want to go on vacation with you guys because you look like you always have so much fun!! I'm so sorry that they still haven't done anything to make this better for you - it's really a shame since you guys are such avid cruisers, but they have not only lost you as customers but me as well!! xo, Biana - BlovedBoston

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  6. How fun! I love seeing when people post about cruises - I've been thinking about one but not sure if my husband would like it, so for now I'm enjoying living vicariously through other people :-)

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  7. look at all these great photos!! i can't - i want to be at a beach sipping yummy drinks immediately if not sooner!! and such a bummer about grand turk. i am not surprised to hear that about carnival but still terrible. sorry girl! but i'm sure you guys made the best of it!

    cheshirekatblog.com

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  8. First off your pictures are gorgeous! And your time in St. Thomas sounds so great - it's fun to have someone you know live on the island. And I loved seeing PR, I haven't been since I was a teenager.
    Sorry about your experience. We had a similar problem for our honeymoon cruise. Since we got married during a hurricane the cruise was delayed a day and the itenerary changed. They gave us an on board credit and 50% off of our next cruise. You should be compensated for sure!

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  9. Seriously this looks like such a fun trip (minus the whole Grand Turk fiasco)! I've never cruised, but haven't heard the best things about Carnival although they are the cheapest. Out of all 4 ports, I would have definitely been most excited for Grand Turk so definitely a bummer that you couldn't go and explore it. Wish Carnival would have done something for the guests to make up for not stopping there, unforseen circumstance or not, they should have something in place when things like that occur! Glad you had fun the rest of the trip girl!

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  10. I can NOT believe your experience and am so sorry that happened to you, no one deserves that. I've only been on one cruise back in May- a Disney cruise and we loved it. We stopped at Nassau, but we spent the day going to Blue Lagoon Island to swim with the dolphins. We were GAWKING when we passed Atlantis, and definitely want to go back some day. Have you seen the celebrity homes past Atlantis? I took SO many pictures zoomed in when we passed, hahah..they were insane! I love your pictures and the rest of your trip looks absolutely beautiful. I hope you get reimbursed in some sort of way Kate!

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  11. That is such a let down that you didn't get to go to the place you really wanted; I would have been so down about that! Atlantis is such a pretty and fun spot, isn't it?! I've always wanted to try out St. Thomas; I've heard all good things! Fabulous photos and Mojo's looks like a great spot!

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  12. What a bummer you got so close to Grand Turk and couldn't get off the ship. Such pretty photos from all the other islands and how fun you got your own personal tour guide in St Thomas.

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  13. Beautiful pictures and looks like you had a great time! Sorry about not getting to go to Grand Turk though, what a bummer!! I would have certainly expected Carnival to compensate for that somehow, I can't believe they didn't even address your complaint! Horrible!

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  14. I'm so sorry you didn't get to go to Grand Turk. I would have been super bummed too. When we had this same itinerary last year we did almost all the same things as you guys. We did the St John snorkeling trip and LOVED it and really enjoyed walking around old San Juan! I would be just as frustrated as you guys if the same thing happened to us! Have you tried tweeting about your frustrations to see if they answer to that at all? I've noticed some companies will answer via twitter when they won't via email.

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  15. I have heard such great things about St. Croix and St. Thomas. Looks so beautiful there. Such a disappointment they haven't made good about not stopping in Grand Turk.

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  16. Wow that's amazing how Royal handled your friend's experience. Too bad a carnival are a bunch of jerks. I forgot to tell you, it was pretty windy when we were at Grand Turk (although it was a few hours after we docked). Maybe it's regularly windy there since there's no protection around the island?

    It looks like you had an amazing time otherwise. Hoping that Carnival does the right thing!

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  17. Oh my gosh, I am so sorry you had to deal with this. regardless of why it happened, Carnival could have at least attempted to make up for it, even if it was like a drink coupon. seriously, nothing? ignoring your complaints? i have never been on a cruise and have looked at several - i think i will lean towards royal if we do. so sad!

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  18. Come on now. If you can't dock a cruise ship in that, you shouldn't be doing it period. It's not like it was so windy that you can see it.

    This is why I will never ever do Carnival. That's a disgrace that they are unresponsive to you.

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  19. Ahhh it looks like you guys have so much fun on your vacations!!! Well minus the whole missing Grand Turk which looked beautiful and amazing in your picture!!! What is wrong with companies that don't try to make their customers happy or even act like they care? I agree a little goes a long way and if you are a huge company like that and you can't give a little to right a wrong...then that is just sad!

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  20. Looks like you had fun at your stops and I'm sure Atlantis was a blast. I hate that Grand Turk didn't work out and I 100% agree with you about the customer service, especially after comparing it to your friend. At least now you know, Royal Caribbean all the way!

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  21. These pictures have me dreaming of blue water and sandy beaches! Looks like y'all had a great time!

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  22. Your cruise looks like it was awesome! I am sorry for Carnival that their customer service sucks. Some companies just dont understand customer service and brand loyalty the way they should.

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  23. Those pictures are GORGEOUS!!!!! It literally makes me SO SO excited to go.

    HOWEVER, I am not happy about how they treated your complaints about the port especially since I am cruising carnival...That does not make me feel secure. I am sorry you missed it friend! Fingers crossed we do not have the same issues..

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  24. Our last cruise was supposed to be our "last hurrah" but it was horrible!! It was through Carnival as well. Someone got sick and needed to be transported so we changed our itinerary. Unfortunately, that one incident just caused a huge clusterfuck in the rest of the trip and due to our new location and the weather we only made it to one port. Actually, that's not true, they took us to Cozumel for a whole 3 hours at like 6pm. By 6pm all the resorts and tours are closed and the only option is Senor Frogs or places like that. So, we went back on the ship and hung out there. We got nothing, nothing was said, just a sorry. We have traveled with Carnival a few times before and actually prefer them. But I feel as though Royal Caribbean is a little more understanding.

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