I booked the cruise a little over 3 months in advance and then about 3 weeks prior to our cruise the prices had dropped. I filled out the price guarantee form online and within 2 days had an email with a $250 on board credit. Sweet, this will cover the gratuities and some drinks on board.
We drove to Galveston the night before and stayed at the Holiday Inn on the seashore right across the street from the beach. Because we got there so late( about 7pm) we didn't have much time to spend at the beach but that was ok because I didn't much care for the water. It was really dirty. I did let my daughter play for a little while though.
On cruise day we opted to pay for parking in the garages across from the port instead of parking for free at the hotel because the hotel did not seem like it would be very secure. We booked the garage parking the night before.
Embarkation was really smooth and fast. We arrived at the port about 11am. My husband dropped off my daughter and I and the luggage and then went and parked. The porters were at our vehicle when we pulled up. We walked right through security and up to check in. There were no lines and we checked right in and proceeded directly onto the boat. We weren't able to get in our rooms until 1:30 so my daughter and I changed into our swimsuits that I carried on in a bag and hit the waterslide and pool. We were the only ones in there for a while as everyone else was in the Buffett line. We ate lunch after the let people go to their rooms and the lines had died down. The Buffett food was ok. We had cheeseburgers from the grill while my hubby had the Caribbean chicken which was good as well.
Room::: we had a balcony on the lido deck forward of the elevators. I choose this room to be close to the pool and food as well as camp carnival for my daughter. Turns out most of the camp carnival activities were held in the Hollywood night club on 5 aft. They really only use camp carnival room after 10pm for her age group. It turned out ok because she mostly did the evening stuff after dinner and ended up at camp carnival were we could pick her up and go straight downstairs to the room.
My husband and I attended a couple of the shows and the comedy. The first show I was not impressed with and the comedian Chaz bombed big time. We loved the other comedian Happy Cole on the last nite. We also spent time at the piano bar with Russell and in the lobby lounge with Jerry. Our favorite by far was Jerry. He was awesome. He did different country songs and sometimes sounded exactly like the artist.
On port day we went to Chakanaab park to do the royal dolphin swim. We took a cab from port for $10 and it was about a 10 minute drive. I booked it online which I highly recommend. We paid $96 per person instead of the $150 per person the boat charged. When you book online just tell them you are coming from a local hotel because if you choose carnival cruise line they won't let you book it. I used Cozumel-tours.com. You can also use www.dolphindiscovery.com. Though I've read several reviews that say you can take your own camera they do not let you. The pictures are expensive ( $30 per photo or $139 for the entire cd). We went ahead and opted for the entire cd as it had several shots of each activity. We had 90 shots of the three of us all together.
Th lines to get back on the boat from port were crazy. We raced to get back by the 3:30 time and it took us about 30 minutes to get back on the boat. We didn't leave port till about 4:30. And they were still looking for three people when we left.
Debarkation was pretty smooth as well. We had to be out of our rooms by 8:30 so we went to breakfast in the dining room and then waited on the lido deck until they called our number which was 19. We were called about 9:30 and had got our luggage and were thru customs by 10 am.
The only bad thing I have to say about the cruise were the pubic bathrooms were really small and the elevators were slow. Other than that we had a good time. My daughter loved the camp carnival activities though our dinner table mates daughter did not care for them. She was 11 and our daughter is 8. Most of the activities my daughter went to were noted as the 6-11 age group.