Since it’s a sea day, I decided that now is a good time to do as promised and tell you about the good, bad, and ugly of the cruise. So… this is from my take on the initial day(s). Keep in my mind that this is all very subjective and only my opinion. Opinions are like noses… everyone has one.
Before I go on, I have to say the good far outweighs any of the bad or ugly I’m about to tell you about. WAAAAAY OUTWEIGHS IT!!! So here goes…
THE GOOD 😎
I hardly need to say this, but being on a cruise again after the long Cootie Bug winter has plastered a smile on my face that will surely be there for all six days (And don’t call me Shirley.) If I hadn’t been carrying all my usual stuff… cameras, computer gear, two GoPos, a video drone, and a partridge in a pear tree… I would have knelt down and kissed the ship. Really… I thought about it.
As far as I could tell, social distancing has been virtually eliminated. The crew are all still wearing masks, but that is almost the only reminder of the Cootie Bugs. Hugs and kisses were everywhere as family and friends met up again. And MB was brought to tears with the happiness of this cruise finally being real.
Mustard Drill 😎 😎 😎 – One new thing I hope they keep is the Mustard Station stuff. To keep hordes of people from being gathered together and passing around Cootie Bugs, you now go to your mustard station any time at your convenience. Starting at first boarding, there are crew members at all of the Mustard stations to give the briefings to a few people at a time. Sometime before sail-away, you are supposed to go to the mustard station for the briefing. It only took a few minutes for mine… no muss, no fuss. More importantly, the bars were not closed, and I didn’t have to stop in the middle of downing a “Funship Special” to go to a mass Mustard Drill. (And despite what you may think… it is M U S T A R D. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.
The Pig & Anchor 😎 😎- The Pig & Anchor” has replaced the “Red Frog Pub” as the midship Promenade deck indoor place for snacks and drinks… and a good place to meet. It is an improvement over the Red Frog Pubs because it is larger, has more booths, and has a small but proper stage for entertainers to perform on. (Entertainers for the Red Frog Pubs I’ve been to seem to have been an afterthought with only something stuffed into a corner somewhere.)
While I’m talking about the Pig & Anchor entertainment, there was an excellent husband and wife team, the “AURS POP DUO,” playing there often. While they play at other venues around the ship, they play in the Pig & Anchor most often. They are really good and play a little bit of everything. I think the Pig & Anchor is the best place to catch them because… well… because I like the pub atmosphere of the place.
The Piano Bar 😎 😎 😎 😎- I almost don’t need to say this, but the Piano Bar is my favorite place to spend my evenings. I don’t mean just a little bit of time, but from 9 PM until I help close it down well past midnight. For about the next nine months, Eden Parker will be on the ship, and he is one of the best Carnival has to offer. (I should mention here that I’m talking about the quality of entertainment and fun in the piano bar… not the facility. I’ll talk about the facility in a minute,)
THE BAD 🥺
Remember when you boarded the cruise ship, and they used to tell you to “turn off your phone and enjoy…”? And don’t you think it’s rude when someone takes out their phone at the dinner table? I mean, who hasn’t seen the snot-nosed kids who can’t live without their noses stuck down in their phone. Didn’t you want to tell those kids *#### And shut that **** thing off!!!!
Hold that thought…
On the first night when I went to dinner, I didn’t take my phone with me. When I asked the waiter for a menu, he was like a deer in the headlights. He looked around, and with no one close by, he decided to read it to us from his list. In the end, I ordered a… “constanoble with frackin and mellons” along with crisp bumtutti souip for my appetizers and a Frangalee lasagna & ganglion sprouts-n-mymy fish.
Okay… that’s all I understood. The waiter was trying his best, but he went too fast, and all I understood was about every third word of his broken English. So… I used my Bonita companion’s phone and brought up the Carnival Hub app, and found the menu. I was able to order from that. By the way… the Mahi-Mahi fish was dry and fishy. I only ate one bite. The Vegetarian Lasagna was just okay, but that was what I ate. It’s a good thing I ordered two entrees. Of course, the Chocolate Melting Cake was mmmmmm-mmmmmm good!
The moral to the story is, your smartphone is a necessity… don’t leave home (or go to dinner) without it.
In fact, turning off your phone is now a thing of the past. A smartphone is a necessity. That’s right… don’t get on the cruise ship without it. Now everything from the “Fun Times” to the menus in the restaurant is on the phone. Everywhere you go, there are QR codes instead of menus. I get coffee in the morning at the ocean plaza, and the only way to find out if they had a double wizbang-moco-razamataz with a double shot of Irish Magic Elixir was to scan in the QR Code.
There is a tiny bit of good in the new-nose-in-your- phone normal… now there’s no paper. Of course, I’m sure this is another of the ways Carnival is trying to maximize profit over the coming years. At least now your cabin is not bombarded with paper… and a few trees every day are being spared.
Hot (Luke-warm) tubs🥺🥺- One of the things I was looking forward to most for the sail-away was finding a nice hot tub to jump in and watch the world go by… with a Fun Ship Special in my hand. Well, truly hot tubs don’t exist on this ship. I looked… and dipped my toes into every “hot (NOT) tub” on the ship, and the best I could find was luke-warm.
Platinum & Diamond Perks🥺 -. I know this won’t matter to most of ya’ll reading this. Except… it should because if Carnival wants to earn your loyalty… loyalty has to be rewarded. In this case, the Platinum & Diamond perks have been non-existent. There are no boarding privileges. Only Suite passengers seem to get any different treatment when boarding. Everyone else is lumped in together with the hoards.
The Diamond & Platinum perks that used to be found in the cabin are gone too. Also, the cabins are made available on the same schedule as the general population. We were told our cabins would be ready at 1 PM… the same as everyone else. (I should note that I did sneak down and found our cabin was ready about 12:15, so I dumped all my stuff in there.)
Other Platinum/Diamond perks such as the free bottle of water and free dining room drink (morning Bloody Mary) are missing too. We’ll see if any “lovely parting gifts” show up later in the cruise.
No bars after midnight🥺🥺 🥺 – A serious deficiency for us night owls is that there are no bars open late night. You can’t even get a soda or bottle of water after midnight, let alone a frozen concoction to help you hang on. The only place you can order anything is in the casino. However, they have removed the bar from the casino and replaced it with more of the super-wiz-bang gambling machines to make more money for the casino. To get a drink there, you have to wait for one of the wait staff to come around, take your order, and then disappear while you wait for them to return. Estimates on the time to get a drink is anywhere from 20 minutes to never. (This one would be classified in the ugly with a poop emoji, but it can easily be fixed and since Carnival never misses a trick to make money, I suspect it will be fixed soon.)
The Ugly 💩
Elevators💩 💩 – This is my first time on the Horizon or any of the newest class of ships. You would think that by now, Carnival would have figured out an elevator scheme that works. Although this ship carries more passengers, the first mistake made is it has fewer elevators than Dream or Conquest class ships. If you think getting onboard the Dream or Conquest class ships was a “goat rope * “, imagine a few hundred more passengers on board and all vying for the same elevators.
To complicate matters, these are modern “smart” elevators. Just outside of the elevators, there are touch screens where you select the floor you want to go to. Then the screen tells you which elevator to get on. Then when the doors open, people get in, and most of them expect to push buttons for where they want to go. THERE ARE NO BUTTONS. The elevators only go to the floor(s) selected from the outside touchscreen. Once the elevator starts, you are stuck going wherever it is programmed to go. It will skip any floors that people had not entered before getting in. I’m sure there are a few people still trapped in the elevators.
Note that there are no up or down arrows to indicate which direction the elevator is going. Add to that, if 10 or 12 people are going “up,” the smart elevators know they will hold up to 18 people. The not-so-smart elevator doesn’t know that the person with two suitcases, three carry-ons, a bulging backpack on his back… and a partridge in a pear tree occupies most of the elevator. (Yes, that was me.) Even so, the not-so-smart elevator will direct all 10 or 12 people to the same elevator.
* Goat Rope – Imagine a circular pen with 17 goats all in a frenzy running around in every direction. Now add one person in the middle of the pen trying to catch all the goats and you have a good mental image of what’s going on.
I hope Carnival has figured out something for getting the thousands of ship passengers on and off at each of the ports. When the Breeze first sailed to Cozumel, I remember standing on the dock in the blazing sun for over an hour, waiting in line to board. And the same or even worse horror befell us standing for hours in the hot Grand Cayman sun waiting for a tender back to the ship. I can only imagine what it will be like on this ship when carrying a full load of passengers.
The Piano Bar – 💩 💩 💩 – I want to start by saying this is only about the facility… not the entertainer. As I mentioned earlier, Eden Parker is one of the best.
Imagine if you will…
“There is a fifth dimension, beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge…”
Imagine if you will… when three “beards” at Carnival discovered their newest cruise ship didn’t have a piano bar… their most profitable bar on the ship… they must have felt they had entered… The Twilight Zone.
Unfortunately, I think the piano bar on this ship was mostly an after-thought. I can’t believe this could never have been a willful effort on the part of the Beards. Some engineer thought of a “piano bar” as a quiet place with some elevator music… nothing like what we “Piano Barbarians” have come to love about Carnival cruises. This piano bar is probably the smallest in the fleet and is attached to the steak house.
The “Beards * ”… the wise men and women at the head of Carnival could not have done this on purpose. For Carnival Cruise Lines, the Piano Bar has always been a loud, sing-along drinking bar with folks partying well past midnight. So, imagine the nightmare the Beards found themselves in when their latest “darling” didn’t have a large booze profit center. Surely, they didn’t think people would go somewhere else for their booze and party. If so, they were wrong…. they (including me) will go to other ships. (And don’t call me Shirley).”
* Beards – According to lore attributed to John Heald, the “Beards” include women, and that the women have beards too. I’m here to tell you the lore is wrong. It’s likely that John Heald never said anything like that but such stories always abound. Christine Duffy, the head guizz at CCL, is on this cruise and she certainly has no beard.
That’s it for today… next up, Half Moon Cay.