First some background info. DW and I are both in our 50's. This was her 5th cruise and my 4th, if you don't count my year in the Merchant Marine. This was our 4th cruise with Carnival and our 3rd time on the Ecstasy. We live just north of Houston so Galveston is very convenient for us.
We arrived at the pier sometime around 11:30. Dropped off our checked luggage with a porter and my DW with the carryons and I proceeded to EZ Cruise which we had booked ahead of time on line. Lot 1 was full of Conquest and Voyager patrons so I had to wait with several others to be caravanned over to Lot 2. This took about 30 minutes, after our leader took a wrong turn. I think I returned to the pier a little after Noon and we began the check in. All told we were onboard around 1:30. The cabins were almost ready so we hung around the atrium on Empress Deck for about 15 minutes when they opened up the cabins. We proceeded to our OV cabin to drop off our bags. This is when things went south a little. I detected a strange odor but couldn't identify it. When we opened the top drawer of the dresser/desk we found some old fruit. That was the odor. Another drawer provided more surprises. Dirty undergarments and other assorted trash. This was not the way to start a vacation. I found a crew member in the passageway and explained the situation. He suggested that we call the Purser's desk and advise them. We did this, after a short time on hold, and soon two cabin stewards and a supervisor arrived to clean out the drawers and sanitize them.
After this we went up to Lido for some lunch and our traditional Funship Special. Then it was Muster Drill and sail-a-way. We had the early dinner seating in the Windsong dining room so headed back to the cabin where we found our luggage waiting. Unpacked and headed off to dinner. We were seated at one of the six person tables with bench style seating, three to a side. The person in the middle was somewhat cramped. Note to self, remember to check the table assignment ahead of time and request a change if this happens again. Our table mates were very friendly and made for enjoyable dinner conversation each night. Soe, from Myanmar, was our head waiter and was ably assisted by Istvan (call me Steve) from Hungary. After the first night they knew our preferences and were ready and waiting. One person at our table had food allergies. They had emailed ahead and the dining room hostess made contact the first night and every night thereafter to go over the menu and choose the appropriate selection for the following evening. Special orders were no problem. Overall the food was very tasty and I managed to keep my streak alive. Four Carnival cruises and still haven't tried the warm chocolate melting cake. We usually ate breakfast in the Windstar dining room. One morning we ordered the Continental breakfast from room service. It was delivered right on time. And one other morning we braved the Lido buffet line.
Our two ports of call were Progresso and Cozumel. This was our first time in Progreso. We booked the Merida city tour with shopping. We knew going in what this entailed but were pleasantly surprised. First we toured the Paseo Montejo. Then we had the obligatory shopping stop. No doubt at the shop that gives the most kickback to the tour operator. Next came the Governor's Palace and the Cathedral of San Idelfonso, the oldest cathedral on the American continent. We were then given some time to roam/shop on our own. I made good use and walked over to Guayabera Jacks, which was actually right across the street from the "sponsored" shop. I picked up two quality shirts for less than was being offered across the street. Our only disappointment with the tour was that we were expecting to have some time back in Progreso to explore and eat lunch. By the time we returned to the ship we only had about 45 minutes to look around the shops at the pier before boarding. Guess we'll just have to go back again.
In Cozumel we docked at Punta Maya. We booked a trip to Punta Sur Eco Park for some snorkeling for me and beach time for DW. Snorkeling along the reef was fun if exhausting. All told we swam over 1 mile. Saw several kinds of very colorful fish. If my pictures come out I'll have to try to identify them. Got back in time for lunch at Pancho's Backyard. Great atmosphere, margaritas and fish tacos. Hit up some t-shirt shops and back on board. And what could be a first for Cozumel, everyone made it back onboard ahead of schedule and we set sail right on time.
The entertainment onboard was predictable. There is one exception though. I've read comments on the board and in reviews on the talents of the CD, Steve Cassel. Everything I've read pales in comparison to the real deal. He is by far the most talented CD I have come across. His fiddle playing in the X-TREME Country review was nothing short of amazing. The next day he is playing a classical selection by Vivaldi and then he tops this off with an excellent juggling performance. He even managed to make the usual stale CD jokes palatable. His assistant, Eli, from New Zealand was good. He gave a very funny comparison between the American bald eagle and the New Zealand kiwi. The first comedian, Joey Carroll,wasn't that good IMHO. He was replaced in Cozumel by Athony Acosta. I didn't make it too his R-rated show but his early, PG, show was right on the edge and very funny.
As far as disembarkation goes, this one was our slowest yet. We don't do self disembark since we live close by and have no need to hurry. Even so, on the Conquest last February, we were off the ship and in our vehicle by 9:30. This time it was more like 11:30. No real concern since we were in no great hurry. We did encounter road construction on the way home which made the trip to Houston twice as long as it should have been.
Overall we were very pleased with our cruise. The Ecstasy could use some updating. Which I understand will take place at the next drydocking. She is still a wonderful, friendly ship and a pleasure to sail on.