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!