Well here we are almost at the end of January and it is 2 months since I last posted. So much has happened in that time that it is going to take quite a few posts to bring you up to date on everything. First though, we went on a transatlantic cruise to the Caribbean.
We were picked up at 6.20am on 7th December and taken by coach to Malaga where we were to Embark the Pullmanturs Zenith. The cruise had been sold to us by Vivalia Travel of Torrevieja as a 3 star cruise, not a 5 star as most cruises are. It seems very competetively priced so we were happy to accept that and it was a chance to get a glimpse of the Caribbean. We also felt that the price reflected some factors , such as the fact that the ship was re locating anyway and the time of year as we were due home late on Christmas Eve, which wouldnt suit everyone.
The cruise was our Christmas present to each other, so disappointments were taken very badly. There were many disappointments on this cruise, all down to the state of the ship. Here is a review that I sent in to Cruise Critic recently.
We saw this cruise advertised in the local press and the price was very good. It was a transatlantic cruise from Malaga to the Caribbean. We thought that it was reasonably priced because it was a transatlantic and we weren’t due back until late on Christmas eve.
We asked if it was predominantly Spanish and were told, no, the crew all speak English, literature is in English and the whole cruise is international as it is sold to English and French too.
On arrival at our allocated cabin ( 4048) we were met by the cabin steward , who apologised to us and explained that the lock on the cabin door was not working and he thought that it needed the battery replacing. He said that he had reported it and it would be fixed, but in the meantime, we would be unable to close the cabin door as once closed, our magnetic card would not open it. We left our cases on the bed, locked for security purposes and went to get a drink.
When we returned, the lock was still not functioning. It was then that we discovered that the carpet in our cabin was soaked – too wet for us to walk over it in our bare feet and it was soaked from the door to under the bed and the full width of the bed. We went to reception and reported this and also the fact that the lock was not working on our cabin door.
We then discovered that the plug to sink was useless and we had no cold water with which to clean our teeth.
We returned to reception and joined the ever growing queue again to report this, the lock and the wet carpet. We requested to be moved to a different cabin and were told that there were none available but a blower was installed into our room in an attempt to dry the carpet out .
At 9pm, 6 hours after accessing our cabin, we finally had the lock fixed but the blower in the room was just bringing out the smell from the carpet , which we now realised was water from the sewage pipes. By this time we had discovered that each time we flushed the toilet , water gushed from the back of the toilet onto the floor of the bathroom. This leak was so bad that my husband put the bath mat down to soak up the water and within seconds it was dripping when he lifted it.
A third visit to reception was a total waste of time. On our first night aboard, a keycard was inserted into our cabin at around midnight and someone attempted to walk in, but we had mindfully put the blower in front of the door before we went to bed.
That night the smell in our cabin was so bad that I was unable to sleep. The next morning we went back to reception again and after much arguing, we were offered another cabin (4005) which we refused because it was noisy even when we were stationary and also it was right at the front of the ship and would therefore be more subject to bounce if we encountered rough seas. We were then shown cabin 4081 which we accepted.
This cabin though was still not without minor problems. We reported at least 6 times that we had no sink plug and in the end , when we were in Gran Canaria, we found a ferreteria and bought our own . We also had a leak from the back of the toilet , but this was much less than the leak in the original cabin and after 6 days a plumber finally arrived to fix it.
On the day that we first embarked the Zenith, there were no pubic toilets in operation and the sewage system was a huge problem throughout our stay , with many people sufffering blocked and overflowing toilets. On our second night in cabin 4081 , my husband flushed the toilet at 11.30pm and it overflowed until the bathroom was under 2-3″ of water and the toilet brush was floating. Fortunately, it stopped before it overflowed once again into our cabin. Some of smells on board were atrocious and we did remark to those on reception that we were fearful of an outbreak of dysentry or something similar with so much sewage tainted water being poured into the carpets.
Most mornings of our trip the water from the taps was brown and we were unable to use it to clean our teeth or to wash small items of personal nature.
For the first few days of the cruise, the jacuzzi’s were out of use and when they did open them , only two were available. For the first 11 days of the cruise, one of the restaurants was out of use due to refurbishment but with approximately 1000 guests on board, this left the one remaining restaurant very overcrowded.
On gala night, our choices of meal were duck or steak. On our table of 6 both were ordered and none were eaten as everything was too tough to be considered edible.
On most evenings the accompaniments of chips, mashed potato and vegetables were served either lukewarm or cold. They would be brought to the servery and left there for up to 10 minutes before being served. Apart from these complaints, the food was usually of a good standard.
Entertainment on the ship was generally pretty poor. The Abba night was good and the Rock Never Dies on the last night was excellent but despite reassurances that the ship was international, most shows were predominantly in Spanish.
Daytime entertainment, considering that we were to spend 9 days in total at sea, was non existent. There were lots of seminars throughout the day, but all were put on by the spa and were aimed at selling their products and services. The arts and crafts classes were so basic that I could have taken better myself and the few quizzes entailed running to hit a bell, which for people of our age group is not acceptable. Having cruised before , we expected a full entertainments programe. There was a lot of bingo played but that is definately not for everyone. If we hadn’t been lucky enough to encounter extremely good weather during our crossing, the entertainment programe would have been totally inadequate. Had we experienced rough seas, the plumbing would have been an even worse nightmare than it was.
On our final day aboard, we left our cabins at 9 a.m. and when we required the toilets, we found that the public toilets on deck 8 were both out of order, the ladies had water absolutely pouring out of the door soaking the carpet in the corridor and into the entrance of the theatre.
Disembarkation was a complete joke. The cruise director asked people to leave the theatre a section at a time but after the first ones had left, the Spanish started getting up and going anyway and no one stopped them, which cause massive congestion problems.
Halfway through the cruise I spoke to the cruise director and asked if some of us could organise a Christmas Carol service in one of the bars. I was told that they had a Christmas show planned ( it turned out to be a dead loss). After speaking to guests, the general opinion was that anything that they put on would not be Christmas carols , so would be totally different to what we planned. I went to reception and asked to speak to David again. I was told that he knew about it. I explained that I needed to speak to him again and the receptionist said that he would put in a request but David never did get back to me, he just wasn’t interested in what the British wanted.
The flight home was a mere continuation of the holiday. The plane was owned by Pullmanturs and embarcation of 500 passengers took about anhour and a half, one of the toilets was out of service and the consoles on our seats were not working. Lights were dimmed throughout apart from when we were eating and air conditioning was only put on 3 times, each lasting a few minutes. The plane was excessively hot, many people were coughing so is it surprising that 3 days later I went down with a throat and chest bug which I still have 3 weeks later.
After our return, I happened to speak to a lady who was a complete stranger to me. It turned out that she was on the Zenith around the Med from October 30th – Nov. 6th and they experienced the same problems then. It appears to me that this ship has serious problems with their sewage system. Every time a toilet overflows and soaks a carpet, they deal with it by drying the bacteria laden carpet with a blower, thus drying the bacteria on for people to walk on, both in cabins and in public areas.
I must just say that in general, we enjoyed the cruise. We were very lucky that it was so calm all the way across. We speant a lovely day with our dfdaughter and her partner in Gran Canaria when we stopped there and we enjoyed our experience of the Caribbean. We also made lots of friends, mainly due , I think, to the fact that we all had the same problems and in the end we were able to laugh about them.
I will post pictured of the cruise later today when I go back to my own computer where they are stored. At the moment I am using my daughters.