We left ice/snow in Dallas 2 days early instead of our usual 1 because another storm was coming. We had no problems once on the highway and arrived in Galveston on Thursday 2/3, going directly to the Casa Del Mar. Our CC group had arranged for discounted accomodations for Friday night, but we were able to check in on Thursday for just a slightly higher rate.
Casa Del Mar is a great hotel option, it's at 61st & Seawall and is basically a small condo with a queen bed in the master, 2 bunks (small) in the hall, a queen fold out couch in the LR and a fully equipped kitchen. This makes it nice if you are on a tight budget and need to eat in.
I could go on and on about Galveston (it's my favorite embarkation port), but this is a cruise review, so if you ever want to have a conversation with me you can find me posting on the Crazies thread on the Carnival board almost every day.
This was our 22nd cruise, but the 1st time I've seen almost everyone have to board the ship in winter gear. We got to the pier like we always do around 10:30 and it was only about 34 degree's, really cold for south Texas. Galveston has changed again the embarkation process for VIP. I think they think they made it better, but I don't. As long as they insist on only having one shoreside agent trying to check in the VIPs there is going to be a wait.
They really need to have a VIP queue at the main desk and let anyone in that line go to the next available agent, then they need a separate xray queue as well.
But, we were on the Ship after 2 wedding parties and the HC group by 11:45.
Our 1st stop is always the lobby bar, and this day was no different. We had our 1st of many Bloody Mary's and got to know Ketut and Raj the bartenders. We spend a lot of time sitting and chatting at the lobby and the Casino bar and everyone knew us by name by the end of the day. But it's been too long since this cruise and I don't remember their names, but they were all great.
Our CC roll call had a hospitality table set up and Donna and I were manning it from 12:30 to 1, so we went up to the Lido buffet for a quick bite to eat before reporting for duty. Donna had pizza and I just had a medley of various salads.
Our cabin was ready at 1:30 and our bags were already there so we quickly unpacked in our OV cabin (M176). We generally sail on IS cabins, but this was such a good price we splurged. Our cabin was nice, but unlike a Conquest class ship the OV don't have a sofa, but it was comfortable for sleeping and showering which is the only thing we do in there anyway.
Food: I think the food on Carnival is good. I've never experienced cold, undercooked, overcooked or any of the other complaints that I read in other reviews. The selection is good, but I generally opt for fish. I don't remember all that I had, but the Duck Breast appetizer was fabulous, the Lobster was very good, the BBQ spareribs at lunch one day were great. Every soup I had was great. We don't eat desserts so can't comment on that.
We had Your Time Dining which is done on the starboard side of the Windstar (forward) dining room. We usually go around 6:45 and never had to wait for a seat for 2.
SEA DAYS: Were Sunday and Wednesday, Sunday was still very cool and not many people were enjoying the pools. The Superbowl was being shown on every available screen, but we weren't interested (though I did win $100 on our football pot) so we spent most of the time on Sunday relaxing inside, playing in the Casino and talking to lots of our friends that were cruising with us.
PROGRESO: Donna wasn't feeling so well today and we had planned on doing the double decker bus then getting off at Buddy's to meet up with friends, but instead we just shopped right at the pier and got back on the ship.
We've been to most of the ports so many times that we frequently don't get off the ship. It's a real pleasure for us to be on an almost empty ship and the crew that is around are really friendly and have lots of time to stop and chat.
COZUMEL: The only thing we ever do here is go to Nachi Cocum. It's a great value at $49 per adult. You have to make advance reservations, but they only allow 100 cruise passengers per day and I've rarely seen more the 70 or so people there. This day was no different except that of the 70 people that were there about 40 of them were my Cruise Critic Crazies friends. We always have a blast.
Our group had a M&G that the cruise director attended, and a paid for cocktail party, plus a cabin poker crawl and excursion activities so we were all busy all week.
The Casino was relatively good to me. I took that $100 that I won on the football pot and played a $5 machine and walked away with $600, so that's a good thing. Zelia is the casino hostess and she is a really great one. We got to know each other, she bought me several drinks and on the last night gave me one of those nice blue tote bags that we used to get for our Platinum gift.
The Platinum gift on this cruise was a collapsable cooler that they say will hold a six pack, but it looks pretty small.