Our cruise dates were 3/14-3/21/04. It began with a great surprise as we had booked a 4A and were upgraded to 6D. Galveston was cool and rainy as we headed for the terminal. We had stayed the nt before at Hol Inn Express and they had free parking and a shuttle which took us to the ship and picked us up. That all worked out great and right on schedule.
Embarkation was fairly easy (we did the funpass) and moved quickly. We arrived at the terminal at around noon and were on the ship eating before 1pm. The ship was absolutely beautiful. As you enter, you walk straight into the atrium which is very elegant and there is a piano bar playing music. Of course, we went quickly to our room which was also located on the entrance deck (Empress)to check it out. It was set up very nicely and I was happy to see how large the shower was. There was plenty of closet space, drawers and a vanity with a large mirror. There was a full length mirror on the back of the door. Since we were upgraded to the window room, we also had bathrobes to use. I was glad I brought a power strip as there is only 1 plug and it is not in the bathroom. My son was quite comfortable with the pull down bed (as we found him napping in it several afternoons). We had no problem with our twin beds staying together.
As for the rest of the ship, we were happy with just about everything. The weather cleared up the next day, and remained wonderful the rest of the week. We only ate dinners in the dining room and they were all good. We ate breakfast and lunch at the buffet, or hamburgers on the lido by the pool and pizza. Our ship was full and the lines were never too long and moved quick. I don't think I've ever seen so much ice cream being eaten. We bought our son a soda card (well worth it). We mostly drank the free punch,lemonage,tea, orange juice,grapefruit juice, coffee and hot chocolate. Alcoholic drinks were expensive so we limited our purchases. Most mornings by the pool, bloody marys were $2.95 until noon and they were good. The daily "specials" were $6.95 and you could get a refill for $4.95 (you keep the glass).
We didn't do any excursions as funds were limited, but we did find enough to do at the ports. In Cozumel, we rented a vehicle and drove around the island and stopped at a few beaches. One beach was free and had lounge chairs,umbrellas,a water trampoline,a climbing rock and kayaks and floats all free. I think it was Paradise Beach but I'm not sure..it was right next to San Francisco beach. I know this is long so I'll try to wrap it up. The only negatives I can point out is that on the ship, we did see the water stained hallway on the Upper deck but it was not in a main area, only the hall between rooms. We didn't see any other "problem" areas and found the ship to be very clean. Considering this was spring break and there were a lot of young kids/teens, I thought everything looked great.
The buffet food did get a little boring, but it was our choice to eat there so often and it didn't slow us down as we all gained 10# during the cruise. The gala buffet looked magnificent. The shows were all good and we really enjoyed the comedians. Unfortunately, we did not win in the casino nor at bingo, but we had fun trying...no wait...I did win 325 nickles at once on a nickle slot. Got excited till I figured out it was only about $15. We met up with another family I had met through this message board and that was really nice. I hope they enjoyed the cruise as much as we did. If anyone has any specific questions, I'll be glad to answer if I can. I would recommend this cruise to anyone, especially families.