Getting to the cruise terminal from north Houston was fairly easy and the traffic flows a lot better due to the flashing stop lights in Galveston. After turning off I45 at the end of the causeway bridge, all the lights you encounter are flashing red and you stop and go. You keep moving. Upon arriving at the terminal we stopped and gave our baggage to the porters. I was traveling with my wife , my 90 yr old father-in-law and my brother and his wife. My brother had knee surgery a little over 2 weeks ago. I dropped them off and then took the care to E Z Cruise parking located across from the cruise terminal. Normally you can park there and walk to the ship. (They take everyone to a remote lot for the Triumph.) I would not park there for this cruise. Use the city lot. My brother could not get a wheel chair so he ended up walking the length of the cruise terminal. (Check your bags more towards the other end.) We started the process and there was a back up at security. We went thru in about 15 minutes and proceeded up stairs to Ck in. They had a line for special needs guests that only had one agent checking guests on the ship. This line took us 30-35 minutes to get thru. I did manage to get a wheelchair for my brother after complaining to the agent. Guests that went into the regular line did make it thru in about 20 minutes which for them was good. Continued up to the gangway and my sister-in-laws sign and sail card did not work so she had to wait while they made a new one. There was 8-10 other guests waiting for a new card. We continued onto the ship and went up to the Lido Deck to the South Beach Club buffet for lunch and wait for the stateroom to become available. The food was very good but it was hard to find a place to sit. I accidently went to the rear of the buffet area and the area back there was wide open.
The staterooms where open at 130pm. My brother and I each had a balcony cabin on deck 8. 8293 and 8323. The cabins were spacious and had plenty of storage. I have been on RCI, Celebrity, and NCL. These cabins were as roomy as ones on the other ships. The bathroom was good size also. It had a large medicine cabinet with lots of room.
They had a ceramic basket with lots of goodies on the sink area. (including toothpaste, and other misc things). The shower had shower gel and shampoo in dispensers. Later found out the water pressure was sufficient but not strong. Baggage arrived after the shipboard drill at 330pm. Each stateroom had 2 robes and beach towels. I had to request hangers because we only had 4. The attendant brought the later on. There is a safe in the closet and when you read the instructions it say to use a credit card not your sign and sail card. It worked great and came in very handy. The balcony had 2 chairs and a small table. The view of Galveston was awesome. The ship was parked with the starboard side towards Galveston so we got that view. My father-in-law had a handicap stateroom 8407 which was very nice and made it easy to use the scooter he had. The bathroom was very accessible and the shower was longer than normal and they had a shower seat in it. They also had a refridge for his insulin and a sharps container he had requested. I had brought a small collapsible cooler and the stateroom attendant did a terrific job keeping it full of ice for my diet drink. The stateroom were kept clean and we really enjoyed the towel animals and the mints on the pillow at turn down.
When we made our reservation, our request for early dining was put on standby due to it being booked up. I went to the dining room to talk to the matre D and was told by him that I would not be able to change that there was no chance. (I explained that I had two Diabetics traveling with me and they needed the early seating. The first night we ended up eating at the buffet so that they could eat early.
(My wife ended up being the waiter, 90 yr old cannot go thru line.) I was not looking forward to eating in the buffet the whole cruise. (during the night we did receive a note advising our confirmation for early dining. A very pleasant surprise and really appreciated.
We were assigned a table in the Paris dining room. It is 2 story and towards the rear of ship. It worked out really well for my father-in-laws room was towards the rear. The London dining room is also 2 story and very roomy. It is located towards the middle of the ship. It has assigned dining and it is the area for the "Your Time Dinning guests. 545p-930p. The Lido deck has the South Beach Club (buffet), Off the Grill 12p-6p 11p-1a (hamburgers, hot dogs, fries, ect), Pizza Pirate ( pizza, salad, open 24 hours a day) Carnival Deli. 11am-11pm) The best corned beef, pastrami, and Ruben sandwiches among others. There is a Sushi Bar 5p-815p, Cafe Vienna 11a-12am Ice Cream, Latte, Cappuccino, Expresso, and fresh pastry. These are located on deck 5. There are plenty of drink stations ( coffee, ice tea, lemonade) located on deck 9. There is also a frozen yogurt and ice cream machine on deck 9 not too far from the continental pool. If you have kids I suggest the "Bottomless Bubbles unlimited soft drinks for duration of cruise.(have to refill at lobby,casino or pool bars.)
The food on board was excellent both in preparation and taste. We ate in most all the venues and found the service excellent. The dining rooms were Cruise casual on Mon, Wed, Thursday, and Friday. Cruise Elegant on Tuesday. They had lobster on Tuesday night. (RCI does not have it on their shorter cruises) Each nights menu had alternates available including steak. (very tasty) The Chocolate Melting cake is excellent. My wife had it 3 nights. The wait staff did a very good job although they seemed to be a little shorthanded. They also made dinning more fun with their singing and dancing (after service and before dessert) We ate breakfast in the main dining room and the service was quick and friendly. The eggs benedict was very of good. Lunch was on the Lido deck mainly from the Deli. (get the sandwich from the Deli and the coleslaw from buffet)
If you don't book in advance, with the first day FUNTIMES magazine you will receive the shore excursion brochure. There are plenty of things to do. In Progresso we just did shopping. In Cozumel we did the Dolphin swim and sea lion. The cd of the pictures was 90.00 but split the cost between two families. For those of you that don't Scuba dive, I recommend the Helmet Dive. You go underwater and walk on the bottom and don't even get your hair wet. Easy to book excursion.
Shows in the Rhome Theater were very good. They were similar to other cruise line shows but I thought they were very well put together and the singing and dancing was very professional. The costumes were bright and cheery. The theater did not have any bad seats and we did not have to go early to get a good one.
They had comedy acts in the Rio Lounge but we never made it due to limited space at the venue. Each time we went they were already full and there was no place to sit. They had early family comedy and late adults only comedy.
There was an abundance of music aboard. One of the more popular was the western band in the lounge in the casino. Deck 5 housed the Casino, ship Shops, and most of the club areas and bars. There was latin music Venezia lounge but I personally could not stand the music because it was too loud for the space. It was impossible to talk at all. The big screen in the Continental pool area had a lot of good music and films during the cruise. The amphitheater shape allowed for plenty of seating. Bottom Line, There is something on board for everyone.
Did it once. Too expensive and they only do one game card with three chances for 20.00
Lots of variety. Most are $1.50 if you play all the lines for Bonus
Adequate. Has lots of penney slot machines. (play minimum lines and most are 40 cent machines).Table games are standard fare. The Texas Holdum is electronic as well as two additional Black Jack tables. The slots and the electronic table games are cash less. You have to put your sign and sail card in to cash out. The staff are very helpful in explaining the system to you and get you all set up for your cruise. After doing it I found it a lot better than having coins to deal with. The slots were hot and cold. If you don't have good luck at first try another day.
Pools are small but seemed to be adequate. The hot tubs seemed to be overrun with kids and they did not have a lot of supervision. The slide was nice and not too busy. You have to check for times. It is not always open.
Excellent and challenging. Deck 12 ( pick up putter and ball at towel hut deck 9)
Dinning can be done in Paris dining room or South beach buffet. You are allowed to remain in stateroom until called for debarking. The system seems to be by deck starting with deck 1 and working up. We were on deck 8 so called in last group. I took the Self Assist option so I could go get the car and come back when the rest of my party got off the ship. This would have been very quick but people did not follow instructions and everyone from all over the ship crowded onto deck three instead of waiting for their number to be called so it was a free for all. No fault of the cruise line. The regular debark was a lot more orderly for the rest of my family.
The ship did not get in until about 1130am due to fog. At 7am you could not see 25 feet from ship. They opened up things and had activities for the guests and kept the eating areas open. I picked up my family and we were headed up (I 45) by 1245p
I would recommend this cruise as a very good value for the money and time. This was my first time on Carnival.