My wife and I live in San Antonio so we decided to drive down the morning of the cruise. We left San Antonio at about 9:00 am, and got to Galveston about 1:00 PM. We had reserved parking with EZ Cruise, pulled into the lot go our ticket and were told we would have to be placed in another lot "about a block away". We had to wait in a line of cars for the shuttle to lead us there, to a lot in a very seedy area about ¾ of a mile away. But we got parked and the car was there when we got back, and for $30 for five days, it wasn't bad.
We arrived at the terminal at about 1:30; we had no idea what cabin we had. We had booked a 6A ocean view guarantee and all we had on our docs (electric and other wise) was TBA report to the VIP desk. We found a porter and he said to follow him, we were lead to a table and given green tags that said U-108. We were grinning from ear-to-ear, we got an upgrade. Out of four cruises we had never received one, but have always read about them on these boards and fully expected to wind up on the Rivera deck again. We thought maybe if we booked through Carnival maybe our chances were better so we called our PVP and booked it. Now we were on the upper deck and getting VIP check-in.
We got to the long line for check-in and a lady there checked our names, and said yes, you need to go to VIP check-in, we passed by nearly 300 people in line, went into an office, sat down and had our keys and sign and sail card given to us, told to have a great cruise, and directed on where to board. We got our sail away pictures taken, then our security pictures taken and we were on the Ecstasy by 2:00 pm. Not bad, one hour from getting into town to getting on the ship.
Because it was after 2:00, we figured we might as well find our cabin on the Upper deck and see how the upper deck folks lived. We found our room opened the door, and started to do the cha-cha, the upgrade fairy had hit us right between the eyes, U-108 is a suite, with a king bed, a sitting area with an easy chair, the cabin is at least half again as large as a standard stateroom, with a balcony. Instead of the claustrophobic bathroom, we had a large (relatively) bathroom with a whirlpool tub. Wow! At about that time there was a Knock on the door, we opened it to find our steward Cakra, he introduced himself, gave us his pager number and his work hours and asked to call him with anything we needed. We asked him for extra pillows and that was all we could think of, as we were still in shock from getting this upgrade. Of the four cruises we have had, Cakra is easily the best steward we've had. If you get him, treat him right.
We did go up to the Lido deck and get a drink of the day, walked around the ship, found where everything was and went back to our cabin and sat on our balcony, with our drinks watching the sail boats and tug boats going down the bay. The life boat drill was easy, although we did start the sail away before we were done, but we still had time to get to our balcony in time to sail out of Galveston bay.
We had late dining in the Windstar dinning room. The food was fabulous, although our waitress was definitely lacking in skills. My wife never had her chair pulled out for her, unless I did it (which I did after the first night), we never had a waiter or waitress place our napkin in our lap and often had to ask to have our tea refilled. One night I asked for lobster and duck, during desert my waitress asked me if I still wanted the duck, I declined as I was really too full by that time and was kind of disappointed. But the quality of the food never suffered only the service. The very best dinning room dessert is the melting chocolate cake, I had it every night. With the vanilla ice cream
On the Lido deck, of course, the pizzeria was packed and the pizza was very, very good. The crust was soft, almost like homemade and the variety outstanding. I had the Rueben sandwich, and it was also very good. I just wish they would provide potato chips with the sandwiches.
All of our sea days were rocky. Of all the cruises we've had, I've never felt the boat rock as much as this one. Even when the seas looked relatively light, the boat rocked a lot. My wife and I had no problems with it, but a lot of dinners went uneaten a couple of nights.
Our first stop was in Cozumel; we went shopping, and then hopped a cab to Chankanaab Park. We snorkeled a bit sat on the beach, had a Pina Colada and went walking in the nature park. We then hopped a cab to Carlos and Charlie's. My wife had a rum punch, I had a Yard of Carlos and Charlie's special. Wow, it was a big drink.
The next day was Progresso. We had been there a couple of years ago and had gone to Chichin Itza when you could actually still climb the pyramid, so this time we chose Uxmal. These ruin s are actually in a mountainous area of the Yucatan and were neat to see. But if you have never been to Chichin Itza, see it instead. Our tour guide Roque was very pushy and we thought kind of rude. Telling other passengers to be quiet and to wake up and listen what he had to say was important, then we found he was trying to sell a Mayan calendar to us. Don't get me wrong, it is rude to fall asleep when someone is speaking to you, but it also rude to fuss at your customers because you hadn't gotten your sales pitch in yet. At the ruins our guide was Carlos, who had you stand in each place for 20 minutes so he could explain what you were looking at, but if you asked a question the answer was, I don't know. He took us to 4 different areas and took up 1 ½ hours of a 2 hour tour. There was so much we missed because he was so long winded. We enjoyed seeing the ruins, but not the tour guides.
We saw every show, the comedians were very lacking, but the Ecstasy dancers put on fabulous shows, lots of costume changes, and action. The singers were wonderful and we hated to see the shows end. The Extreme Country show was especially good; make a point to see it. Capt Scala was very involved in the happiness of his passengers and took several opportunities to meet and greet with everyone.
Besides the disappointing tour guides in Progresso, this is by far best western Caribbean cruise we've had. From the friendliness of all the staff, the professionalism of our steward, the shows, food, and our upgrade cabin, we had a wonderful trip.
We did the self disembarking which started at about 8:15. We actually waited for our number to be called, when we heard it and headed to the elevators, they were packed with people trying to get off. But even with the crush, we were off the boat, through customs and in our car by 9:00. Very quick and easy and I highly recommend it. Just a hint, use the porters, they go directly to the front of the custom lines and you don't have to wait in line, speeds things up dramatically for a $5 - $10 tip.