Although this long posting is mostly a rant, I will try and provide some decent information you can use, instead of the grand and glorious ravings of the first time cruisers who go on and on and on and bore everyone silly with every detail of their experience.
In 9 prior cruises, I've secreted onboard a few beers interspaced between packaged cans of caffeine free diet coke. Never a problem until this cruise. The beer police were in full force in Galveston. Behind the zeal of their security badges, these TSA wannabes checked every beverage package to ensure no alcohol was sneaked onboard. This included the disassembly of every can from every package. Particular thanks to the crekin who used a knife to split the cartons open, thus piercing a can and spraying my clean shirt with diet coke. At least the TSA is taught to apologize. Carnival considerately gave me the confiscated contraband beers back the last morning of the cruise. I felt like such a thug.
So Carnival, I guess you won this battle. But guess what, you lost the war. I don't need beer that much on your boat...I generally get my fill ashore. I purchased a whopping $22 of your beer onboard, thus your revenue gain from me was minimal. But more than that, you lost a considerable amount of my customer goodwill. If your company so concerned about a minor beer revenue loss as to truly anger your repeat customers, so be it. Your loss. My only allegiance to your company anyway is the fact Carnival is the only cruise line offering short cruises from ports a reasonable distance from Dallas. To the RCCL and NCL management personnel monitoring these critiques, are you hearing this?
My second rant is the incessant marketing onboard. For those of you who haven't figured it out yet, a cruise ship is nothing more than a thousand foot revenue generator. Ridiculously high bar prices. The constant peddling of Carnival branded items. Photographers like flies (what do you think is the purpose of "Elegant" night....it is so you will sit for overpriced photos after dinner) And how many people really buy anything from those Starving Artists art auctions? Funny how the only "activities" mentioned over the PA system are those in which Carnival will make a buck. My point is just to be ready to spend spend spend...or not.
I noticed at the magic show pre-show Bingo game the piddling payout. (If they sell over 50 cards at $20, that is $1000, so why does Carnival only pay out $500?) Carnival, how about spending some of that excess money to fix the black bars in the big poolside video screen?
Anyway, the cruise was otherwise fine. Except for the occupants of a corner room on deck 8, who were kind enough to bring on their boom box and entertain all of us with rear balonies with their loud music and screaming drunk young adult kids. Nice....
People like this are why Carnival is the Walmart of cruising. Every shape, size, ethnicity, and socioeconomic background. Of course, for you folks in 8433, perhaps you should stick with the Kmart of vacations...out at the lake, where yall can act like the animals you are for significantly less money.
Food was fine. Folks complain about food for some reason on these critiques. Perhaps the cooks weren't clairvoyant enough to season the food to their liking. For the rest of us, it was presented well and tasty. Beats the heck out of cooking at home. So just eat...which many of you humpty dumptys do quite well, and stop bellyaching about a perfectly good meal.
The shows were the same worn out broadway dance revues. Seen one, seen 'em all.
My advice...bring a good book and catch up on some reading after dinner. Or...go ahead and just drink yourselves silly. Just have some consideration for those of us who don't have to get drunk in order to have "fun."
The ship itself was also fine. The recent couple of weeks in the shipyard helped out cosmetically. For those compelled to even look for, and then complain about some microdot of mold in the back corner, under the sill, of the bathroom door frame...c'mon....
Service was AOK ship wide. Staff is genuinely friendly and trained well, with the possible exception of the morning kitchen and room service staff, who apparently cannot read English, tell time, or decipher numbers. Always an adventure to see what exactly will be delivered, and when, to one's door in the morning, relative to what was ordered.
In Progreso, just take the free shuttle into town, take the cheesy $3 double-decker bus tour, then wander down to the beach for a few beers and chips/salsa. It's Mexico for cryin' out loud. Have a few Coronas, enjoy the scenery, tip the poor waiters a buck here and there, and be glad you live in our wonderful America.
The Mexican Cooking and Cuisine at Playa Mia in Cozumel was a fantastic excursion. A great way to spend a few funny hours with Chef Luis, and then eat your own prepared creation. 5 stars!
The Behind the Fun shipboard tour was also excellent. Grossly overpriced, but you get a goodie-bag at the end with some Carnival branded items (which you can sell at your next garage sale), and photos with the Captain. Just getting the bridge tour was worth the price of admission.
And a final hint to those who grump about debarkation...Self-Assist. And use the bellmen at Galveston. They have dedicated Customs lines and get you out lickity split. Mine took our two large bags all the way down to the Harbor House parking lot. I tipped him $12 due to the distance...and well worth it. Finished the buffet at 8:20 and pulled out of hotel parking lot at 9:06.
All in all a good Carnival cruise. After all folks, it's Carnival. The only cruise line that treats it's customers like airline passengers. All you represent are butts in bunks with dollars in your wallets. If you want a truly high standard, quitchergripin', get on a plane, and fork out the dough for a Princess or Celebrity cruise. If you want to just get away for a few days and power down for a while, this'll do ya.