So, it’s no secret. I like to cruise. For me, there’s nothing quite like sailing off to destinations unknown while stuffing myself with buffet food, getting tipsy on fruity drinks and doing the latest line dances over and over again. Don’t judge me. It’s just my idea of good time.
Being the cruise connoisseur that I am, I have to say my latest bon voyage was a bit lacking. At first I thought it was me. Was I losing the exhilaration I felt for cruising? Had I’d gone on so many that the thrill of cramped staterooms, grand atriums and a smokey piano bars was lost on me? No, it certainly couldn’t be that. There had to be another reason. Luckily, I found three.
1. We chose Carnival.
Now, don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with a party boat and there’s no party quite like a Carnival cruise ship. However, I do feel that Carnival uses it’s “party atmosphere” consisting of a schedule jammed packed with activities to divert your attention from its many flaws – flaws that a seasoned cruiser like myself takes notice of.
Take customer service for instance. Just because you can get me to limbo and conga with a hundreds of people I don’t know doesn’t mean you can get away with sub par service. Don’t ignore my perfectly reasonable requests for clean towels and a stateroom toilet that flushes. I’m usually not one of those people who’ll make a scene, but I am one of those people who will close my wallet and walk away. Just saying.
2. We chose a 3-day cruise.
I always feel rushed when a cruise doesn’t last for 5 or more days. By the time, you make friends, get to know the ship, get to know the fine people waiting on you, a shorter cruise is over. And, if you get to do half of those things I just mentioned before that happens, you’re lucky.
I also feel like the churn-and-burn aspects of cruising are at their highest level on short cruises. Yes, I know in three days another set of people you don’t know (and probably don’t like) will be boarding as we disembark, but for now, can we pretend that this set right now is the only one you’re concerned about? I know. It’s my fantasy, but I’m really going to need you to play along. Thank you.
3. We chose a smaller, older ship.
Cruise veterans should know that cruising during the fall/winter months can make for some pretty choppy conditions on the high seas. Normally, if your boat is big enough, fairly new and is commandeered by a competent captain, you rarely notice. Unfortunately, I don’t think any of this was the case on Carnival Sensation.
This ship was small. Compared to the Disney Dream, RCL’s Freedom of the Seas, and even the Carnival Fascination, the Sensation seemed like a glorified tugboat. Now, I’m not a snob when it comes to size. I’ve had a wonderful time on ships the same size namely the Carnival Fantasy, which was my first cruise experience. But, the seas can be merciless when there’s no heft to keep a ship balanced. A small ship can toss and turn like Whirlpool, front-load washer. Needless to say, many an unseasoned cruiser ended up tossing their cookies into the sea. Some didn’t even make it that far which made walking side to side while dodging piles of vomit an adventure to say the least.
The ship was old, having been built in 1993. The last refurb was in 2009 and they didn’t really do that great of job. So, you added a kiddie slide. Whoopie-doo. How about insulating the cabins a little bit more so they don’t creak every five seconds when I’m trying to sleep and have conveniently forgotten my earplugs? Or, let’s rip up this outdated carpet that’s a throwback to the disco era and probably has vomit stains just as old. Or, why don’t we just do some major maintenance to the plumbing so a whole floor of cabins doesn’t experience clogging issues in their bathrooms? You know, the little things.
And then there’s El Capitan, who quite possibly was a race car driver in a past life. Sir, you can turn a cruise ship into a speed boat only when you’re the only one on it and the seas are calm. There were times when I felt the ship was actually jumping waves, coming clean up out of the water. Now, I know that sounds silly, but tell that to the contents of my stomach, which at the time, included pizza, ice cream, cookies, roast beef, steamed veggies, mashed potatoes and 3 fruity cocktails cleverly named “Fun Ships.” Luckily, I was one of the few guests who managed to keep it all down. Did I mention he also revved the engine for no apparent reason? And that my cabin was right over the engine room? Yeah. Fun times.
Despite the shortcomings, I did manage to have a lot of fun. All joking and griping aside, I did manage to eat enormous amounts of food. I enjoyed my cocktails. I line danced like there was no tomorrow. And, the next time the opportunity presents itself, I’ll happily do it all over again.