There were eight of us on this cruise, combined vacation and reunion. Two from California, two from San Antonio, one from Dallas, one from Houston, and two from Corpus Christi. All met up in Galveston on time at the terminal.
We arrived at Lighthouse parking about 1120. Plenty of space, took about ten minutes to get unloaded and onto the bus. Got to the terminal and the driver dropped us off at an area where there were no porters. Had to haul all the baggage down to the east end and drop it off ourselves.
Got into the terminal, got up the stairs, they told us to have the Fun Pass and Passports ready, which was when one our party realized he had left his passport in his vehicle and was going to have to go back to the parking lot and retrieve it. This was where things started to get nasty.
He was giving his wife her ticket so she could get on board while he went and got his passport. Some witch with a Carnival shirt and badge came up and told him he couldn't wait there. He tried to explain politely what was going on, she didn't want to hear it, just kept snapping "You can't wait here". Our last cruise was on the Ecstasy right after Hurricane Ike last September when we left out of Bayport in Houston, we were treated royally. Here in Galveston we've been in the system 15 minutes and are really starting to get ticked off. DW is starting to look upset. He finally took off to the parking lot and we go on through check in, that was straight forward, took about five minutes to get the S&S cards, then we had to wait until our zone was called, took about thirty minutes after that to get through the line and on board.
From what I had read, I was expecting a somewhat bright and gaudy dEcor, but was very surprised at just how good it looked. Add to it that we had three first time cruisers with us who were wide eyed and I was impressed. This is one extremely clean ship. Everywhere I look there are people constantly cleaning and polishing. Found Sur Mer, the Bouillabaisse and fried oysters are great, don't bother with the fish and chips, too much batter and the fish tastes muddy. Cabin
Cabin is excellent, first time we have had a balcony. The steward comes by and introduces himself and his helper. Ask for some ice for the collapsible cooler, told it would be no problem, it was there when we get back from exploring the ship. We had ordered two bottles of liquor through the Bon Voyage department, it was waiting in the cabin along with a full bucket of ice. Much easier than chancing smuggling it through the boarding process.
Got into the cabin about 1345, one bag shows up at 1430. Two more arrive before 1700, had to call the purser after dinner and go down to deck 3 and sort through the lost bag pile to retrieve the last bag, apparently the tag had got torn off. I need to do something a little better next time to make sure this doesn't happen again.
What a bad day. The toilet breaks down in the cabin. Called housekeeping at 0900, also notify the steward. 1400 when nothing has happened I go down to the Pursers Desk and complain. Things are fixed in 30 minutes. There's a lesson.
Went to breakfast in the main dining room. We asked to sit by ourselves, seemed this was a problem for the steward, caused a bit of an attitude problem. I must say that this was the only time we experienced anything less than first class treatment in the dining room. After that, we went to the buffet each morning.
We had the Meet and Greet with the non appearing cruise director at 1200. I felt so sorry for Grits after she had put all the time and effort into setting this up. Funny that the CD has time to do his shill speech for the affiliated stores at the ports of call (which finished at 1150 BTW), but he doesn't have time to take care of this, and after it was published in the Capers. Formal night in the dining room. Food was good, no problem getting extra lobsters if you so desired. Two of the tablemates went for three apiece, don't know where they put them. And no, I didn't waste my time on the chocolate melting cake.
Second sea day, and things are settling down. This really is an easy ship to get around. Decks five, six, seven, eight and nine all run all the way fore and aft, I didn't go down below that. We've taken to hanging out by the sky pool on the lido deck, a lot quieter than by the main pool, shady and a lot less windy. Wednesday
Montego Bay. Jamaica has never been high on my list of favorite ports, second only to Baltimore as a place to avoid. When we sailed in and out of Kingston back in the 70's we never went ashore, it was too dangerous. First view of the pier with all the peddlers on it sealed it for me. Even Mexico kept them off the pier although they let them in everywhere else. Spent a quiet day on the ship. DW and Sis went off to ride the sky lift, they said they had a great time. DW said the people she met were extremely polite, and she didn't think it was as bad as the normal hassle in Mexico.
Grand Cayman. We took the tour to Pedro Saint James and the Botanical Gardens through Carnival. The presentation and the guide at Pedro Saint James were both very good, this is the oldest house on the island, and the restoration has been very well done. Well worth the trip.
We wanted to go to the Botanical Gardens to see the Blue Iguanas, Well worth the trip. Only bad part was that the guide didn't show up, so the driver took us through. We were trying to look at the wonderful sights around us and he kept wanting to tell long rambling tales that didn't relate to what we were there for. All in all, though, the driver did a good job showing us the island.
Friday Cozumel. We had nothing planned so on the way out of the terminal we met up with Hector with Island Tours. They offer a four hour tour of the island by van for $25.00 per person. Took us to Mr. Sanchos for a look at the beach, down to the Mayan ruin, then a tour of San Miguel, and an hour for shopping and lunch, and back to the ship. Excellent guide, and left us with several ideas for when we go back in September.
Leisurely day at sea, and of course time to pack.
I hate Galveston. Disembarking was a zoo. Decks 1, 9, 10, 11 and 12 were called at about 0800, 2 and 8 about 0915, and finally 6 and 7 at 1030. They chased us out of the cabins at 1000, went down to Deck 5 to wait. When we were finally called, there were only four of the ten elevators at the forward end of Deck 5 in operation. We finally realized that the only way out was to catch the elevator going up, and then go down to Deck 3. Once into the terminal, everything proceeded in slow motion. Took us an hour and a half from start to back to the parking lot.
Odds & Ends
The cabin staff kept the room immaculate. Giri was really on top of things. Riza at the sky pool serves the coldest beer on board, she is a sweetheart.
The staff in the Monet Dining Room upstairs really went out of their way to make things run smooth. Jamal, the Maitre'd stopped by the table every night to make sure everything was being taken care of. Eight of us at the table, I never saw anything sent back because it wasn't right, the food was always wonderful.
Chris, the Cruise Director who stood us up at the Meet & Greet? It wouldn't bother me if I never crossed paths with him again. The least he could have done was sent one of his staff. Totally rude.
I didn't bother with any of the shows, DW went to one and said it was alright. We found the Piano Bar on Thursday, the guy was absolutely wonderful. I am embarrassed to say I never did catch his name, but he sure put on a great show.
CD apart, despite the minor, and I really do mean minor, irritants, this was a wonderful vacation. DW had an absolute ball. We are already booked back on this vessel in September.