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1,388 Carnival Galveston Cruise Reviews

Carnival Elation 9/4-10/2005 First of all, our cruise was affected by Hurricane Katrina that hit the Gulf Coast a week earlier. Carnival cut our cruise short by one day and they cut out the Progresso, Mexico stop. Carnival leased three ... Read More
Carnival Elation 9/4-10/2005 First of all, our cruise was affected by Hurricane Katrina that hit the Gulf Coast a week earlier. Carnival cut our cruise short by one day and they cut out the Progresso, Mexico stop. Carnival leased three of their ships to the federal government in support of relief efforts and the Elation was taking over the Ecstasy 4-day cruises. Ecstasy was one of the Carnival ships leased out. Carnival was very generous giving everyone a $50 on-board ship credit and a 15% refund on the cost of the cruise. We were lucky. The rest of the Elation 7-day cruises got cancelled. This was our fourth cruise and have sailed on Carnival , Royal Caribbean, and Princess in the past. Believe it or not, we liked Carnival the best. Carnival had the best service. Embarkation: This did not go well but was probably not Carnival's fault. The Elation and RCCL Rhapsody of the Seas were both late getting into port from their previous cruise. We arrived about 11:30 AM and it took us over two hours to get on the ship. We parked at EZ-Cruise and paid for our parking in advance ($45) www.ezcruiseparking.com and saved about $25 over using the Galveston City Parking. Even though EZ Cruise has a shuttle to bring everyone and their luggage back and forth from the ship, I suggest you drop off your luggage and passengers before parking at EZ Cruise. EZ Cruise is only a two block walk back to the west side of the cruise terminal. Same goes for when you get back - Leave car passengers and luggage at the terminal and the driver walk to EZ Cruise to get the car. The Ship: The ship was in excellent condition. The food was great and the entertainment was excellent. The crew members were very friendly. Activities during the day seemed a little light compared to previous cruises. The exercise facilities were the best I have seen so far on a cruise ship. Shore Excursions: I did the two-tank dive in Cozumel arranged through Carnival. We dove 80 ft at the Santa Rosa Wall and 45 foot at Punta Tunich. The dive was run by Sand Dollar and was very well managed. In Belize, my wife and I did the snorkel trip to Horseshoe Reef and Caye Caulker where we snorkeled with the Stingrays and Nurse Sharks. The operator picked us up right at the ship and we rode their boat about an hour to Horseshoe Reef to snorkel. Then we rode about 30 more minutes to the Stingrays. It was awesome. On the way back we passed a lot of private islands including one owned by Bill Gates. One Problem: The only problem we had on the ship was with one of our room keys. Carnival got a bad batch of key blanks and I never was able to get a key that worked. Fortunately, my wife's key worked. This created a problem if I needed someone to let me into my room. Sometimes it took 15 minutes waiting on them. They previously had the same problem with past cruisers Gold Cards and didn't have any Gold Cards for the cruise. Debarkation: This went great. We took advantage of the self debarkation and were on the road by 7:45 AM. One tip - They tell everyone to be in the theater by 7:15. Get there by 6:45 AM and get a seat in the back of the 1st level because that is who they let leave first. They also say that breakfast starts at 6:30 AM but we got there at 6:15 and they were already serving. For self disembarkation, you need to be able to handle all of your luggage by yourself so think about that while you are still at home packing for the cruise. Read Less
Sail Date September 2005
Elation - The Neverending 5 Night Cruise We were originally booked for our 1st cruise on the Ecstasy - a 5 nighter out of Galveston with stops in Cozumel and Calica / Playa del Carmen. Then we were switched to the Elation. I have to say, ... Read More
Elation - The Neverending 5 Night Cruise We were originally booked for our 1st cruise on the Ecstasy - a 5 nighter out of Galveston with stops in Cozumel and Calica / Playa del Carmen. Then we were switched to the Elation. I have to say, although I felt really guilty at the circumstances under which we were switched, I was excited to have the opportunity to sail on a newer ship. The day we sailed, we heard about Tropical Storm Rita, all the way to the east of the Bahamas. The media was predicting a Texas landfall, but it seemed like media hype. The storm was very far away, I felt, and hurricanes are unpredictable. From the first day, the Cruise Director David Holt mentioned that we might be out longer than 5 days, but again, I did not feel like it was something to worry about. Overall, the Elation was beautiful. I had been a little worried about the Carnival "tacky" dEcor, but did not feel the dEcor was tacky. Yes, it was ornate, and decorated. Yes, if someone had told me that my room would be orange, peach and gray, I would have said that was ugly, but it just felt like a cruise ship should feel. Nothing was garish or ugly, it was cruise-y but nice. The little girl's face all over the stairwells was kind of freaky, but I could handle it. I was amazed that the ship did not look worn at all. The carpet looked like the carpet in an average new-ish hotel. There was always someone vacuuming, polishing, mopping and keeping things looking fresh and clean. The service was wonderful. Our steward was great, kept our cabin very clean, kept ice in the ice bucket and was always nearby. The waitstaff and bartenders were attentive and friendly. The CD and "Dream Team" seemed approachable and fun. People were always smiling. We had a porthole cabin on starboard side on Upper Deck. I won't give out the exact number for reasons that will become apparent later. We agreed that we would definitely book a similar cabin again. There was plenty of room, Upper Deck was a great location, the portholes gave us the natural light we like, the little porthole nook was nice for storing a suitcase. I would not book a forward cabin if you like to sleep in on port days. There was a strong vibration and loud noise when docking that lasted for over 20 minutes. I had been afraid of the motion in the forward cabins, but it was only a problem the first two nights, when we had rocky seas (thanks Rita). After that, I loved being rocked to sleep at night. Onboard activities were good. We participated in a few trivia contests, and tried to do a little of everything. We're not the typical super-outgoing party-hard Carnival "type" but we still found things to do and fun to be had. We went to a lot of the shows. I thought they were just ok - I think the dancers during sorority rush in my college years were better than the Elation dancers - but they are what they are. We laughed, we were entertained, it's something to do. Karaoke, Monday Night Football, dancing, casino, were other options at night. I didn't use the spa, but I used the lockers, gym, showers, steam room and sauna. There is a co-ed whirlpool next to the gym, with stacks of towels, but there are separate sauna and steam rooms for men and women. The showers (in the cabins and in the gym) had soap and shampoos and in the gym they had rainfall-type shower heads and side sprayers, too. We took advantage of the track and loved exercising with a 360 degree view of the ocean. Chair hogs were not a problem. Things got crowded around the main pool on the first sea day, but as the week wore on, people found their own spaces. The slide was very fun. I loved the aft pools. Lunch time in Tiffany's was extremely crowded on sea days. Dining was limitless, just as any cruise line promises. We found the food good, but not too much really stood out. The fried shrimp were awesome. I don't think many people tried them in the dining room because the description was really weird (like "Ebi-Fried Shrimp with wasabi pea sauce" or something). I loved the wild mushroom ragout, Japanese day at the buffet, the pizza, the Martinis poured through the ice block at the drama bar and some of the desserts. For some reason the bread tasted awesome, too. I probably gained 10 pounds just on rolls at dinner and croissants at breakfast. Breakfast is the exact same in the dining room as it is on the Lido deck, but you can get espressos and cappuccinos and lox in the dining room. We tried room service twice, once for dinner and once for breakfast, which was fine and fast. We tried 2 midnight buffets which weren't very crowded and hit-or-miss. In Cozumel we booked the dune buggy tour independently and in Playa del Carmen we booked the Fat Cat sail independently. On our second day in Cozumel, we shopped and went to Paradise Beach where we had the BEST guacamole and chips (with a couple of margaritas for me, and a few cold beers for DH). We would recommend any of these excursions. I drove myself mad trying to read all the packing tips here and on other sites. I would definitely recommend insulated mugs. The shoe holder was not necessary for 2 adults, neither was a power strip. Things could be unplugged as needed. I brought along an OUST fan because I was paranoid about cigarette smell. That wasn't a problem in our cabin, but the bathrooms are small and unventilated and there was sometimes a slight odor which the fan helped to take care of. The alarm clock was good, even though we discovered the alarm was broken, because without it, we would not have known when it was time for dinner! (horror, I know) Because of Rita, the captain announced on Thursday (after we had boarded from Calica) that we were going back to Cozumel for an extra day, and we would get back to Galveston on Monday. We thought that would probably be changed to Sunday, knowing that Carnival would do everything it could to get the next Elation sailing. However, Friday afternoon, the captain announced that we would be spending Saturday in Cozumel as well, and be docking in Galveston on Tuesday, provided that the port was safe and open. I know we won't get a lot of sympathy for 3 extra days of cruising, but it was stressful. A lot of people didn't have the money or vacation time for 3 extra days, but it was better than being taken to Florida, and I really did feel the whole time that the captain wanted to keep us out of rough seas for our own safety and comfort. The only thing I would have requested would have been a 10 minute internet credit so that we could contact our families, neighbors or airlines. Our assistant waiter told us that the ships are always stocked with enough food and supplies for a 7 day cruise. All in all, Captain Donato and Carnival treated us very well and gave us 3 extra days! I can't decide whether I've used up all my bad luck and should always travel during hurricane season, or whether I've used up all my good luck and should never travel during hurricane season. ;-) I would sail the Elation again, and I am sad that they are moving her to Florida. She is a fun, cozy ship and we will definitely cruise again someday. Read Less
Sail Date September 2005
I love Priceline! I received the Galvez Hotel for $75 three weeks before the cruise. Nice rooms, partially obstructed view, decent breakfast buffet. We were traveling with my sister and her new husband. They were on their honeymoon. The ... Read More
I love Priceline! I received the Galvez Hotel for $75 three weeks before the cruise. Nice rooms, partially obstructed view, decent breakfast buffet. We were traveling with my sister and her new husband. They were on their honeymoon. The hotel shuttle left the Galvez at 12:00 and we were at the pier in 10 minutes. There were plenty of people ahead of us. As we had a cat 12 cabin we were able to use Skipper's Club and they let our traveling companions register right along with us. This was wonderful. No lines! A minor problem was that when we skipped the long lines we skipped our boarding picture. But we made up for it. Went right to our cabins, just across from one another. Dropped off our carry-on and headed to the Lido Deck for a great lunch at Tiffany's. We explored the ship and managed to secure a table for four when we went to the dining room to check on our table assignment. Actually, it was a booth for six with only us assigned to it. Sail-away was fun and the muster drill was the best I ever experienced. No crowding out on a hot deck. It all took place inside the showroom. Our cabin was very nice, a luggage mat on the bed helped protect the new bedding everyone is talking about. The bed was too hard for us, so the second night our wonderful cabin stewards Stefka and Oksana put another duvet under the sheets and it softened the bed a bit. The entertainment center consisted of a TV in the top portion, a nicely stocked, mirrored shelf of various bar glasses in the middle section and a small refrigerator in the bottom section. The air conditioner controls were located on the ceiling and we were able to set it them to cool the room the way we liked. The balcony had room for four plus a small plastic table. We used the balcony a lot: Coffee in the mornings, drinks and snacks in the afternoons, watching sunrises and sunsets. So much fun. We were never bothered by noise from our neighbors or noise from the hallways. The cruise director was David Holt and he did a great job at the Welcome Aboard Show as well as all through the cruise. The comedian, Ronnie Bullard was really funny. One of the social hosts, a member of "The Dream Team" was named Josh. This young man is so nice and seems genuinely interested in the passengers. He is going to go far in the business and I won't be surprised to see that he has been named a CD someday soon. We went to the Las Vegas-style show the second evening and it was entertaining. We left the tips on the Sail and Sign card. Every day I left an additional small tip for the cabin stewards. They were incredible. The second night when we came back to our cabins the stewards had put rose petals and a rose on the newlywed's bed and a fat bunny holding a rose on our bed. Anytime I had a request it was promptly and cheerfully fulfilled. There was not a hairdryer in the bathroom. My only complaint was the bathroom, and I don't think it was the stewards' fault. The shower door was very corroded and the grout on the walls around the tub was discolored. I had been looking forward to the Jacuzzi tub but this was so uninviting I only took showers. I've sent an email to Bob Dickinson and included pictures of the bathroom. The food in the dining room was usually very good. The service was prompt. The bar waiter was somewhat slow in getting our tickets to us. I was a little disappointed in the lobster. The texture was a little mealy. We had some very good soups, including a Roasted Indian Pumpkin Soup that was top-notch. Delicious Beef Wellington. We had late dining. The dining room was very loud and boisterous. Sometimes it was too loud, but that is a "Carnival thing." We had breakfast in the dining room every morning and it was nice to be served instead of getting up and down for everything at Tiffany's. The pizza was always great. We usually had lunch at Tiffany's and for the most part the food was tasty and well prepared. The Gala Buffet was a nice photo op, but as we had late dining, we weren't hungry enough to stand in line. I chose to spend my $$ in the casino instead of the spa. Unfortunate choice but it was fun anyway. Entered two slot tournaments but luck wasn't with me. Would have felt better in the spa but Oh, well! In Coz, the newly weds went snorkeling and we stayed onboard, not even coming out of the cabin until 11:00. We've been to Coz before and weren't really interested in any of the excursions. We went down to the pier to the shopping mall but it was so incredibly hot we only stayed long enough for me to get souvenirs for the folks I work with. Then it was back on board, ordered a "Kiss On The Lips" at the Atrium Bar and enjoyed it on the balcony. This is a great time to go to the pool. No problems with lounge chair savers! Nice and quiet and relaxing. There were not a lot of children on this cruise and I noticed no bad behavior from the ones that were there. The four-night cruise was over far too soon. We put our bags out the night before, had breakfast and waited in Tiffany's for our color to be called. We were some of the last to be called but the wait wasn't bad if you had a book to read. When we got through customs we called the Galvez and by the time we got outside the shuttle was waiting for us. What was really great is that they had taken our car out of the parking lot and had the engine on and the ac cranked up on high, they helped us pack the luggage in the trunk and off we went to take the newly weds to IAH and then to drive ourselves back to Corpus Christi. It wasn't until then that we even heard of "HURRICANE RITA." Read Less
Sail Date September 2005
Day 1 Reported to ship at 11:30. Normally allowed on board at Noon, we were told via flier that we were not allowed on ship until 1:30. Finally got inside to line number 2 about 1:45, then through security onto line 3. Checked in and onto ... Read More
Day 1 Reported to ship at 11:30. Normally allowed on board at Noon, we were told via flier that we were not allowed on ship until 1:30. Finally got inside to line number 2 about 1:45, then through security onto line 3. Checked in and onto the holding area to board ship. Finally onboard by 2:30. New this cruise we received gold sign and sail cards for being a repeat Carnival cruiser. Valuable to have as it would appear later today. Went to our room, which was conveniently located on Deck 10 right by the hot tub!! Room was ready, but no room steward introduction as of yet. Then off to the Lido deck for lunch. Decided to go find our dinning table. We had sailed the conquest before, and were in a different dinning room so wanted to check it out. Our table number couldn't be found, but didn't worry too much as it was still early. Checked out parts of the ship we didn't get to last year and then went to have the sail off party. Didn't set sail at 6pm like we were suppose to so we went to dinner. Arrived at dinner and were told that our table was closed. After much ado and some showing of the Gold card to the Maitre d', we were seated at our table, but the poor waiter had several, so dinner was a little "not so perfect". Still not sailing at 7pm but around 7:30 we noticed we were beginning to move out of port. Missed the sail off, but oh well. After dinner, off to the Casino. Met Bryan, the casino host, who was very nice and helpful. Day 2 Sea day. Woke up early to see the sunrise, off our balcony. Nice view. Couldn't hear the elevators like some had suggested we might. Went to locate the Maitre d' to make sure our dinner table would be ready for tonight. Found him in the Monet Dining room, were able to rearrange our seating so that we were in the Monet instead of the Renoir and made sure we had a waiter. Today was a sea day, went on a ship tour, then to the Art Auction. Usually get free champaign at the art auction, Not this time! So, beware if you are looking forward to it. Off to get ready for dinner after the auction. Tonight is formal night. Met our new waiter and assistant waitress Putu and Theresia. Very, very nice and wonderful service. Off to the casino again. Day 3 Sea day. Played in the slot tournament, made it to the finals. Went to another art auction, still no free champagne, they told us there won't be any until the last sea day....Last time on the Conquest we had free champagne every time. Dinner went well, a little dancing tonight Lido deck party at midnight. Had a lot of fun there, Red team won! Day 4 Jamaica -- Went there last year, learned the hard way to stay out of the town area. Very pushy people. Booked an excursion this time. We did do some shopping at the port, a little more pricey, but worth it not to have to deal with the locals at the shops in town. Took the Catamaran, snorkel, beach excursion. It was okay. First time group snorkeling. Not a big fan. We snorkeled just off Doctors beach then went to doctors beach. After the snorkel they tried to sell us their stuff, claiming no pressure. I really don't like this style of no pressure. Doctors beach was nice, but they still try to sell you Jamaican "smokes" while in the ocean and on the beach. Beware. We thought that by booking an excursion we would be getting away from this, not so. They made us go all the way around through security to get back on the ship...ugg. I really am annoyed by this point. Finally back on the ship and ready! Off to dinner and the comedy show and bingo! Day 5 Grand Cayman -- My favorite port to date! We booked the City tour and stingray city sandbar. We were the first tender, which I had never done before. Went really fast! We were in Georgetown by 7:45. Our tour was air conditioned buses. Very nice, tour guide very informative. We went to 7mile beach, Rum factory, Turtle farm then to the marina where we got onboard a pretty large boat and off to Stingray City. Once in Stingray City it was very nice. The boat guides were very informative and prepared us for the stingrays. We all got to hold them and give them a kiss and our photo's were taken. The water was waist deep so we could just stand there and watch them. A lot of people were actually there, but the stingrays didn't mind. Back to Georgetown, did some shopping, pricier than other ports. Actually the exchange rate is .80 US to 1.00 Cayman. We tendered back rather quickly and were back on board by 3pm. Another formal night for dinner. Off to the Casino, which has become a nightly thing this cruise. We did get some bingo in there. My mom hit a slot jackpot! Day 6 -- Cozumel. We booked an excursion. The catamaran snorkel and beach party. This was a little more laid back than the Fiesta party boat we took last time. We did the group snorkel thing again, which I decided I didn't like in Jamaica, but it was pre-booked, so did it anyway. Then off to the private beach. That was relaxing, plenty of floats and volleyball and hammocks. On the way back I think we actually out partied the fiesta party boat. They didn't look like they were have to much fun. Did some shopping in the duty free pier and back on the boat. Dinner again is awesome. Then off to some bingo, and a comedy show. Then to the casino where my mom won another jackpot! Day 7 -- Sea day. Did another slot tournament, didn't fare so well. Went to the art auction, where they did serve some free champagne, only during the preview, not the actual auction. Just to let you know. Went to the disembarkation talk and to dinner. Took pics at dinner and said goodbye's to Putu and Theresia. More bingo and slots at the casino. Day 8 -- Getting off the boat was a total nightmare. We were told that if we were flying after we got off the ship to put a black tag on our luggage. Then to go to the lounge by 8:30. Well, we did all that and ended up sitting in the lounge (freezing) until 10:00 when we finally were told that we could start to get off the boat. There were a lot of us...so, when we reach the infamous sea of luggage we weren't too surprised. That is until we were informed that it was in front of Customs. Getting our luggage found and then trying to get in the correct line was a joke. When you did find your luggage, you couldn't move around with it. Then when you finally broke free and found a line you were told it was the wrong one. You see they had 2 lines for non-us citizens, 2 lines for birth certificate holders and 2 lines for passport holders. Eventually it was any line could take anyone, but this wasn't publicly announced, nor were the lines marked what they were, you were taking peoples word for it. Finally by 11:30 I was thru customs. This was the longest time it has taken me to get off a ship. I understand that Galveston is not used to an additional 1200 people getting on and off a ship...but what were they doing all week while we were on the ship? Someone should have been making plans to expedite the disembarkation. Overall, I expected the ship to be fully ready for us when we got onboard. Since they were in drydock before we got onboard, I figured that would be the case. Not so. Come to find out, we didn't leave on time the first day due to the staff not arriving on time. They were still arriving from different areas since Katrina messed it up for them. At 6 when we were suppose to leave they were 200 staff short. When we left at 7:30 they were only 20 short. Per the Maitre d' anyway. I couldn't tell that anything different was done to the ship in drydock, other than the bedding was different this time. Overall a good cruise, not as good as when I went on the Conquest last year, but still a good cruise. I just expected more since that was the experience on my previous cruises. I tried to give them credit at the ports given they don't normally deal with the high number of passengers so I didn't get as upset as others, but it was still annoying. Read Less
Sail Date September 2005
Carnival Conquest 9/11/2005 This was my 5th Cruise, 2nd Time on Carnival. Overall had a great time. I'm 63 and my wife is 60, just so you will know. Embarkation : Got to the pier around 11:00 AM. There was already a hundreds of ... Read More
Carnival Conquest 9/11/2005 This was my 5th Cruise, 2nd Time on Carnival. Overall had a great time. I'm 63 and my wife is 60, just so you will know. Embarkation : Got to the pier around 11:00 AM. There was already a hundreds of people in line in front of us. They started to let people through security at 11:30. The whole process seemed very unorganized and under staffed. In my opinion, that whole process could be greatly improved. Carnival Listen up. I sat in that line for over and hour and then got to go sit in the chairs until the picture line got shorter (Which you can not bypass), got our picture taken, and made it on the ship around 1:00 PM. The ship was beautiful and seemed very well maintained. The decks above the pool decks were very plain  and some not used at all just open space  come on! There were a lot of lounge chairs piled up on one another that could not be used. What's up with that. Why have chaise lounge chairs that can't be used. They had shuffleboard, but we could NEVER find the equipment, or anyone who looked like they may run the sports on board. Cruise Director/Activities  Our cruise director was Todd, very Very funny and nice guy. I wouldnt mind sailing with him again sometime. Monday (1st sea day) was the Mens Hairy Chest Competition, as well as a few other pool games, Tuesday(Second Sea Day) Was Survivor and Battle of the Sexes. The Deck party was nice and Carnival does a good job with the party. Food  Buffet was not as good as I have seen on Royal Caribbean or Princess. Very limited selection, and Desert was a joke, only 2 selections?? The lines during breakfast or lunch easily reached 15 minutes. They have 4 serving lines but I never saw the 4th one open all week. Dining room food seemed mass produced = therefore, some day was good, some day over done and some day undercooked. The pizza place and deli were really good. I did not try the seafood or Chinese restaurants. Entertainment  Great! obviously the 2 LV Style shows, 1 ventriloquist, 1 magician, and 3 comedians, and 1 blues singer. We had 3 late night comedy shows (Which I wish all cruise lines had more of  so I was really happy with the 3 adult shows) Formal Nights were Monday and Thursday. PORTS: My only comment about the ports is to be very careful if you buy diamonds. Diamonds International in Cozumel sold us a diamond ring. We had the Carnival Shopper with us and he recommended it to be a good buy. When we got home and had an appraisal, it was considerably less than they sold it to us. They sold us a 2 carat ring and it actually was 1.5 carats. Just be very careful. My advice is don't buy diamonds in Port. We got cheated and Carnival nor Diamond International tried to help. Internet - Way too expensive. The most expensive I have seen on a ship  75 cents a minute! Overall I had a great time on the Conquest! The staff and entertainment were great, with the exception of shopping in the ports. I will never buy anything from Diamonds International again, ever. Would I go on Carnival Again? Yes! If anyone has any specific questions, please email me at riverdoode@cox.net. Read Less
Sail Date September 2005
This was our first cruise, and we thoroughly enjoyed it. My biggest complaint was all the unsupervised children running around. I would have liked to have seen a staff member correcting the children running around or direct them to Camp ... Read More
This was our first cruise, and we thoroughly enjoyed it. My biggest complaint was all the unsupervised children running around. I would have liked to have seen a staff member correcting the children running around or direct them to Camp Carnival, teen club, etc. Many of them were unruly and very rude. Food and dishes were just left on steps or near the elevators by this unruly children. I personally stopped a group of them climbing on the furniture in the Mikado Lounge. There were too many photography stations set up, which was blocking the walkway. This was very annoying. Speaking of photos, if they were priced more reasonable, maybe they would have sold more. Our steward, Clarence, was great!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The fountain cards was a waste of money. Also, when you had one of those, there were times you were ignored when you wanted a refill. There were the few bartenders who helped you with a smile. If you are reading this review and are planning a Carnival cruise, there is free lemonade, ice tea, and punch at the drink stations. You can always bring a few of your own bottles of pop on board. If you purchase a specialty drink in a carnival glass, you can get refills at a lower cost. Rarely will they tell you this. If you are going to attend a comedy show held in Cole Porter Lounge, get there early to get a space. In fact, you may want to go to Karaoke prior to the comedy show to have a seat. If you wanted a Carnival T-shirt, there are certain ones on sale the last day of the cruise. In Progresso, we went to the half day Mayan Ruins tour; this was the only one we booked through Carnival. In Cozumel, if you want a beach day, take a taxi to one of the beach clubs, such as Palm Beach, which is free to enter. THe taxi ride will cost you about fifteen dollars for four. At the beach, you can eat, rent a float for three dollars, rent jet skis (ask for Tito) and book a snorkeling trip. Angel was a great tour guide. You might even ask him to drop you off by the boat, which will save you a taxi ride. There is also parasailing. Carnival discourages you from jet skiing or parasailing, but it is fun. If you want an all inclusive beach day, you can book it through LTD Marketing; it is less expensive than the Beach Party Carnival books, and it is not as crowded. If you want to cave tube in Belize, book it through LTD Marketing, which costs less than Carnival, and you get to go through one more cave. Randy and Maverick were guides; they were very knowledgeable as well as helpful. My family really enjoyed this excursion; i thought it was a lot of work managing that tube. If you do this, make sure you order the chicken plate lunch; it was great!!!!!!!!!! Read Less
Sail Date August 2005
Welcome to my review of the Carnival Elation and my trip to Texas. My 14 year old daughter and I went on the 7 day Western Caribbean cruise on the Carnival Elation, sailing from Galveston Texas. We flew in to George Bush International ... Read More
Welcome to my review of the Carnival Elation and my trip to Texas. My 14 year old daughter and I went on the 7 day Western Caribbean cruise on the Carnival Elation, sailing from Galveston Texas. We flew in to George Bush International (IAH) on the day before sailing, a Saturday. PORTS OF CALL: Progresso, Cozumel, and Belize. OUR HOTEL: When we got off the plane and collected our belongings, we called our hotel to come and pick us up. He was there fairly quickly to pick us up. He dropped us off at the Hotel Sofitel in Houston, located only about 10 minutes from the airport. It was very nice. There was a great pool with a water fall and two large hot tubs. The room was a good size, with two queen beds. There was a little store located inside where you could buy little ice creams or sodas. The hotel had a very nice restaurant, with very good food, even though the pricing was a bit over my liking. SUNDAY TRANSPORTATION TO THE CRUISE: I did not want to do much driving on this trip, seeing as I get lost very easily. I had read many reviews in which people had said they found a great guy who would take them to the cruise terminal from the airport (Hobby or George Bush) or their hotel. His name was LJ. He picked us up from the hotel and took us on a little tour of Houston and some more when we got to Galveston. He was a very nice man who knew a load about Houston and Galveston. He had a large van that I believe sat up to 14, so it would be great for big groups. He got us to the terminal in about an hour and fifteen minutes. His website is www.cruiseshipshuttle.com or you can call him at 281-443-4430. This is not a shared ride service, it'll just be you and your travel partners. ARRIVAL AT THE TERMINAL: The traffic was a bit crazy when we got there. There were lots of guys who came and whisked your bags away to be loaded onto the ship, so you didn't have to deal with them. We found the entrance quickly and soon got into line after going through security. We waited only about 20 minutes in line, which was fairly quick compared to our last two cruises. I would suggest getting a passport for numerous reasons, and it makes check in and check out sooo much easier. I would also suggest having your "Fun Pass" ready for ease of check in. This can be completed on the Carnival website. We got through and got some pictures taken as we boarded and then right before we boarded, we got our ID picture taken for when we get on and off the ship. GETTING SETTLED: We got on, where we were greeted by some employees and went to Tiffany's, a great buffet to wait for the scheduled times in which we could go to our stateroom. We had lunch and waited until 1pm, from which we could go to our stateroom. We had a window view of the water. It was a good size, with two nice beds and a good sized bathroom, it had two closets, and yes, there is a TV. The bathroom even had some sampler items in it, shampoos, soaps, razors, and stuff like that. There was also an electric razor charger, but just the little ones, not the large ones. I would suggest bringing a power strip extension, since there is only one outlet in the whole room. That helped us out so much. I would also suggest bringing a small alarm clock, one that you could easily adjust the time on, because there are a few time changes, and it is so much easier than having to look at your watch every ten seconds because someone would ask you "What time is it?". It also helps for when you have to get up early. The luggage was delivered in a few hours, and we unpacked, getting everything comfortably spread around. There was a scheduled "Muster Drill" at 4pm, which everyone is required to go to. It went pretty smoothly and we got back to our cabins in 5 mins. SETTING SAIL: I would suggest being out on the front of the boat ahead of time, with your camera and camcorder, because there will be a heard of people coming up when they notice the boat is moving, and you won't have a good shot if there are heads of people blocking your view. I would also suggest making your last minute phone calls right then because you won't have any signal for a few days. I doubt anyone would want to pay $6 a minute to call home from your stateroom. FIRST NIGHT ABOARD: We were scheduled to eat at 6:15 in the Imagination dining room. I would say come only five minutes before it opens, or else you will be smooshed up in the little area with lots of hungry and cranky people for quite a while. There are two waiters to three tables, but they seem like they are always right next to you. Our head waiter's name was Jon and our Assistant waiter's name was Angelito. They were very friendly and funny. Dinner was very nice, it included: an appetizer (you are welcome to order more than one) or a salad, a delicious main course, and really good desserts (ice cream, cakes, cheesecakes, cheeses, fruit, souffles, and so much more). We sat with two families who had booked through the same travel agent we did. They were very nice. Soda's are not free on board, but Iced tea, some juices, and coffee are. I would suggest to those big soda drinkers out there to buy a soda card first thing when you get on board from any bar. I know it may seem expensive, but it is definitely worth it for the whole week long cruise. Normally a soda would cost 2.50 a can, so if you drink lots of soda, get this card. After our dinner, we went to a WELCOME ABOARD show, where there was singing and dancing, and a comedian. It was a pretty good show. When we got back to our room, we found that the room steward had come in and turned down our beds for us, and we even got little chocolates on our pillows. They give you a CARNIVAL CAPERS for the next day, a great little guide showing you all the activities, shows, and movies for the next day. MONDAY DAY AT SEA: When you wake up, you can decide to either get room service, go to Tiffany's or go to the dining room for breakfast. There is a lot of stuff to do on a day at sea. The ship is very good at organizing lots of fun activities for the families or the grown-ups. The Kids Club had a very wide range of things to do for the kids, ages 0-17. My daughter did not join in on this, but two of the girls sitting at our table at dinner did, and they loved it, so did their parents. The activities went from early in the morning to as late as 12AM. There is a good sized swimming pool, which was very warm. I did not partake in this because there were too many people in the pool. The downside was that it was filled with saltwater, and my daughter said it was quite nasty to get in your mouth. There was a water slide, which adults and kids could go on. There were 2 hot tubs, 1 for adults 18 and over, and the other for whoever, but they only sat about 5 people at a time. There was great entertainment on the pool deck. You could also have the option of ordering room service, going to Tiffany's or going to the dining room for lunch. There are a few places to shop, from which your could get souvenirs, alcohol, jewelry, candy, and the little things you might have forgotten to pack. This night is a formal night for dinner, and the featured dish is lobster! On formal nights there will be photographers everywhere. Take this as a chance to get some really nice pictures to remember the cruise by. There is a large gym, a spa, a jogging track, a sports deck and a laundry room (make sure to bring your own detergent and a roll of quarters as the dispenser was always out of order). TV Channels: Ships info channel TRAVELOG (a day to day video of your current cruise) Info on the ship and how it works Animal Planet/ Discovery/ Discovery Kids Shopping Channel ~ where to shop and eat at your ports of call CNN TNT Boomerang CNN (British) Cartoon Network (sometimes in Spanish) CNN in Spanish TLC ABC CBS NBC 3 movie channels showing new movies Music video channel (NOT MTV) INTERNET: There is an Internet cafe where you can buy plans or pay by the minute for Internet service. There is also some wireless areas on the ship, mostly in the lounges, for which you will still have to pay. If you have a laptop and a wireless card, I would suggest you bring that. They do rent out laptops and wireless cards to people as well, but there is a limited number. The connection is fast and pretty easy to use. TUESDAY PROGRESSO SHORE EXCURSION: We pre-booked our shore excursion on the Internet. You can also book it while on the ship, but some people booked through independent tour groups (not through the ship) for cheap. We got up early and ate in Tiffany's for breakfast. We decided to do a tour to some Mayan Ruins called Chichen-Itza. The bus picked us up early after we got off the ship and through customs. It was a 2 1/2 hour bus ride there. The guides were great and very informative. I suggest bringing lots of water, sunscreen and good walking shoes if you decide to take this tour. It was so cool there, my daughter climbed to the top and took loads of photos and video (they charge you $4 to have a video camera). She came down with heat stroke, so the trip didn't turn out that well. Most people slept on the way back after getting a large packed lunch from the tour group ( we did not care for the lunch though). We got back about 30 minutes before the ship was scheduled to set sail, so we did some last-minute shopping at the port. WEDNESDAY COZUMEL SHORE EXCURSION: We docked at 9AM and got off the boat around 9:15. We did not book an excursion throughout the ship this time. We got a taxi and rode for fifteen minutes to an all-inclusive resort for only $14. It was called Playa Mia. It had a big pool, buffet, beach with water toys, skidoo rentals, rock climbing wall, towel rentals, umbrella rentals, locker rentals, and an open bar. You can buy some packages for different perks. There is also a small zoo there and a playground for the kiddies. Here is the website for the park:http://www.playasol.com.mx/eng/default.asp. There were great shops near the port and we spent quite a bit of time there. We got back on the boat at 5. THURSDAY BELIZE SHORE EXCURSION: We took a tender out to the dock and found our way out of the terminal. We also decided to do this excursion on our own. The family we sat with at dinner told us about this great cave tubing company. WWW.CAVETUBING.COM It was literally half the price of what they offered on the ship and we felt sooooo much safer with these guys, being 10 people to one guide, instead of 40 to 1 on the Carnival tour. They came and picked us up outside of the cruise terminal and took us on an hour bus ride. These guys were very nice and enjoyed doing this. They gave us some history and taught us a few things about Belize and their people. These guys used to work for Carnival, but decided to go out on their own. We go to the same exact place the Carnival people do, but we go on a better and longer cave tour than the others. You need to be healthy enough to walk through some rocky terrain. You go on a 30 minute walk through the jungle and you finally make it to the starting point. They sit you in some inner tubes with a life jacket and a headlight, and you hook onto someone so you don't get separated. Bring a water camera, because there are some beautiful shots to take. We had a great time, even though I got caught in a whirlpool, but they came to my rescue very quickly. The companies name is also the web address. We did some shopping and took the tender back to the ship. FRIDAY DAY AT SEA: This is a formal night and a great day at sea. Enjoy a show, go swimming, eat buffet, enjoy the organized activities, have sushi at the sushi bar, go gamble in their casino, or go shopping. This is a great time to take film and pictures of the ship. SATURDAY DAY AT SEA: AWWWW....it's almost over now. Start packing and enjoy the usual Day at Sea activities. There will be an important DEBARKATION INFORMATION show on how to get off the ship in a timely matter and what to do with all of your luggage. SUNDAY GETTING OFF: By now, you will have gotten rid of all of your luggage. You can eat breakfast in Tiffany's or the dining room and then go to your assigned waiting area to get off the ship. There also is an EXPRESS DEBARKATION for people who don't mind carrying their luggage off the ship by themselves. There is quite the line to get out, and then once you have your luggage, you go and wait in another line to get out. This is where the passport comes in handy all they do is scan it and you're out. If you do the whole birth certificate, marriage certificate thing, they have to type it in by hand, and that will take ages. TRANSPORTATION FROM THE TERMINAL: There are shuttles that will take you to either Hobby or George Bush International. The hotels could pick you up there, or some rental car companies will too. We reserved a car from Enterprise and got picked up from the terminal by a shuttle. HOTEL IN GALVESTON: I had found what I thought to be a great hotel for cheap on the Internet. THE VICTORIAN CONDO- HOTEL. We thought it looked very nice on the outside. Once we got our keys we went to find our room. When we walked down the hallway, we noticed that it looked waaayyy too much like a jail. There were security fences on every doorway. We got into the room, where it smelled of mold and mildew. The air conditioning was nice and it had a decent kitchenette. I liked the queen bed in my room for the comfort. My daughter had to sleep on the couch because the bunk bed was so bad. The furnishings were very old and the TV didn't function correctly. Our "Ocean View" was obstructed by some trees and we overlooked one of the pools. There was a laundry facility, but the detergent dispenser didn't work. Some places in this hotel needed to be cleaned very badly. We tried to stay out of this hotel as much as possible. The only nice thing about it was the pool, because it was very warm and large and that there was a Wal-Mart right next to it, so you could get food. The hot tub wasn't hot though, and barely warm. If you have a rental car, there are tons of restaurants on the seawall road. There are lots of seafood restaurants. We went to Joe's Crab Shack, which was very good and fun, a place called Fishtales, and they had a Rainforest Cafe that had a cute little "River Adventure Ride." MOODY GARDENS This place was great. It is only 10 minutes from our hotel and was a day-long thing. There were three different parts to the park: The Rainforest Pyramid, The Discovery Pyramid, and The Aquarium Pyramid. They had an Imax theater and ferry boat ride. There were great wildlife exhibits. They had a great aquarium, a lot bigger than it looks, with all the aquatic animals you could think of, including penguins, sharks, seals, turtles, sea horses, and even a huge exhibit filled with snakes and poisonous animals. There was also a Rainforest. This was an indoor rainforest with hundreds of species of plants, birds, fish, and little mammals. There was a huge bat exhibit too. It was gorgeous in there. There are great restaurants inside the park. The gift shops are huge and have lots of different items. The Discovery Pyramid had NASA and little space activities in it. There is also a hotel connected to the park, and by the looks of it, very nice. Here is the website for Moody Gardens: www.moodygardens.com . BACK HOME: LJ came and picked us up at the rental car agency after we dropped it off. He charged for the two of us, round trip, $250. I found it kind of expensive, especially after finding out there is no drop charge on the rental car if you drive it to the airport from Galveston (they had told me otherwise when I was trying to rent the car originally). But then I knew the cost ahead of time and it is the same, I think, no matter how many people are in the van. The peace of mind for not getting lost was worth it to me. WE HAD A BLAST, AND IF YOU ARE TAKING THIS CRUISE, WE HOPE YOU WILL TOO!!! I HOPE THIS HELPED! Read Less
Sail Date August 2005
Background. My wife, 11 year old son, 4 year old daughter and I are from the Northern Virginia/DC area, and chose this trip primarily for the low price (I'll discuss some of the "hidden" costs that offset this price later). ... Read More
Background. My wife, 11 year old son, 4 year old daughter and I are from the Northern Virginia/DC area, and chose this trip primarily for the low price (I'll discuss some of the "hidden" costs that offset this price later). We had a wonderful time aboard the Elation, and hope that this accounting of our cruise experience will allow others to have an equally fantastic time. Pre-trip. We arrived Wednesday for our Sunday sail date, and rented a car from Enterprise one-way from Houston to Galveston. We visited San Antonio before the cruise, and while it was certainly hot there in mid-August, it was a great side trip that I would highly recommend. It is about 200 miles from Houston to San Antonio, but with the 70 MPH speed limit, we were there in less just a little over three hours. On Saturday, we drove to Galveston, where we stayed overnight at the Quality Inn and Suites and were pleasantly surprised with a clean, comfortable hotel with an outstanding view of the gulf. I know that there are some that will disagree, but I found the beaches on Galveston Island to be very pleasant, and my family and I spent a terrific afternoon there. The dynamics of the beach are very different in the western Gulf of Mexico than on a typical Caribbean beach. Here you may find seaweed, cloudy, greenish water, and sometimes jelly fish, but this typical Gulf beach water is not "dirty" as some have said. The bottom line is that if anything short of blue water repulses you, avoid this beach. Otherwise, go for it! We ate dinner in the historic Strand District. The port of Galveston is in a largely industrial area, but is immediately surrounded by this lovely historic district that contains many shops and restaurants. I would recommend visiting this area if you arrive a day early, both to enjoy the restaurants and to familiarize yourself with the embarkation area. Embarkation. On Sunday, we dropped off the luggage at the ship, and then drove about 10 minutes to Enterprise to drop off the car. We were taken back to the ship by the Enterprise shuttle, and were at the port by 11 am. TIP: If you are using Enterprise, they will ask you to drop off your luggage at the ship before you drop off the car at Enterprise. They did not tell me this when I made the reservation. It is difficult to get lost in Galveston, since it is such a small island, and the roads are pretty much up/down or across, so I found getting to the port to be stress free. Admittedly not the most enjoyable part of the trip, embarkation processing was the usual waiting around game while the previous passengers left. We spent about an hour total waiting to get on. There was no separate "Fun Pass" line that I could see, but it definitely made the check-in process faster. Also, there were no special gold sail and sign cards this trip - don't know if they discontinued them or were just out. The Ship. We had previously sailed on the similar Paradise, so we were familiar with the layout of the ship. Elation is very richly decorated with dark woods and stained glass themes. I found it to be very tastefully done, and not the usual Carnival festive colors (not that I dislike that style either). You enter the ship on deck 7, Empress, into the bottom level of the Atrium. The Atrium is beautiful and has the same rich tones that are repeated throughout the ship. There is a small stage atop the Atrium bar where a piano and strings trio frequently plays. It is a great place to grab a daily drink special and people-watch while enjoying the music. Up on the Lido deck is the main pool area. The pool slide is centrally located between the pool and the elevated stage. This stage has been awkwardly placed sideways in the middle of the Lido deck, and cannot be easily seen from the pool area because of the slide. Up one deck and aft is the aft pool. This pool tends to be much less crowded and thus was my favorite. The only problem with the area is the ongoing basketball games that take place right next to the aft bar (in fact, there is netting that keeps the ball/players from going into the bar. The bar itself is nothing more than a small opening in the wall - definitely not suitable for a meet and greet as I found first-hand! Back inside and down to the Promenade deck are Gatsby's and Cole Porter lounges. Gatsby's is the only indoor place on the ship where you can enjoy a cigar; they have cigars for sale, and a cutter in case you forget yours. The Cole Porter club is the venue for almost-nightly Karaoke and R-rated comedy. While I was not able to make it to any late night comedy shows, I did enjoy watching the karaoke. All the way forward on Promenade and Atlantic decks is the Mikado lounge, which is the setting for the nightly Showtime performance. I enjoyed all of the performances -- the performers were of professional caliber and I would recommend attending all shows. The lounge does have some obstructions, but we never had a problem finding a good seat. Dining. Both dining rooms were nicely appointed, tastefully decorated, and with windows lining both sides. Our wait staff was excellent as usual, except for a couple of minor glitches by the team waiter. Overall, though, I would rate their level of service as the best anywhere - better than my experience with Disney and as good as Royal Caribbean. As far as food, everything I had was delicious. There is no reason for anyone to complain about steak that is overcooked, or to be disappointed with their meal. The staff has a goal of satisfying the guests, and will do whatever they can to meet that goal. If you don't like what you have, politely ask for an alternative (there's always filet mignon!). I would, however, like to see some more variety in the offerings, which have not apparently changed much in the last few years. The most obvious need for change is the breakfast and lunch menu in the dining room. I opted to eat most breakfast and lunch meals at Tiffany's this cruise, which provided a more interesting variety of choices. In addition, it prevents being stuck at the table with rude or unfriendly guests (more about that later). Tiffany's is a very pretty cafe with stained glass peacocks and excellent views. Most importantly, Tiffany's has the pizza and ice cream service, as well as the fixin's for my secret rum punch (see Tips and Hints section). Now, as an ex-New Jerseyite and frequent visitor to New York, I pride myself on being somewhat of a pizza aficionado. While Tiffany's pizza (actually Carnival's, since it has been the same on every cruise) is not quite New York caliber, the combination of freshly made crust and imaginative ingredients certainly makes it the best I have ever had on a cruise ship. Ports. Progreso. My favorite port of the trip - I was leery of this port after reading other posts, but it turned out to be a pleasant surprise. As others have stated before me, this is a real Mexican town that has not yet been infiltrated by tourist traps. If you are looking for bargains on typical Mexican offerings, this is the place to buy. We are so sorry we waited for Cozumel to purchase some items, since we saw prices at least double in Coz. What to buy here: Sombreros and other souvenirs, T-shirts, $1 beer and shot, silver, liquor. The Pier: About 5 miles long, there is a shuttle bus that runs frequently. There were taxi drivers at the end of the pier trying to convince us to use their services, but the shuttles are frequent and the ride is short. Save your money and take the shuttle into town. The shuttle drops you off at the market, and once there it is an easy walk to the beach or the main town area. The ride back, with everyone having imbibed $1 beers and shots all day, is not to be missed. There is also a small shopping village at the ship's end of the pier, but the prices are much lower in town for everything, so avoid shopping here unless your excursion prevents going to town. The market: As you step off the shuttle in Progreso, there is a market that contains many vendors, each selling mainly trinkets and hammocks. The hammocks come in various grades, and I was able to pick up a top-grade hammock for $15 (asking price was $30). Here is also where you can board a tour of the city on a double-decker bus for $2 each. We took this tour and I would highly recommend it as a way to get your bearings and see the wonderful little town. Do the tour before venturing out. The town: Don't skip this opportunity to see a real Mexican town and take advantage of some bargains in the process. Across from the shuttle stop is a small liquor store where you can get $1 (yes $1) liters of Mezcal. It is actually cane liquor distilled with agave, but it tastes just fine with a little margarita mix. For the price, you can't beat it. Further into town, you will see numerous bars where you can get $1 beer and shots. Load up on these now since it costs a little more at the beach. Be sure to visit the farmer's market up the street (avoid looking into the meat shops - trust me). Next, it's time to walk a couple of blocks towards the beach area. You will also see several shops and bars along the way. The beach: Had an awesome time here. The beach begins with "Corona Beach" closest to the pier. Feel free to visit this beach, but don't take the Corona Beach Break offered by Carnival - it really is a rip-off since you can get beer so cheap and the shuttle is free anyway. The beach continues with groups of palapas that correspond to restaurants across the street. We walked a few hundred yards and settled on a palapa in front of El Viejo y El Mar (The Old Man and the Sea) and were treated to a day of outstanding service by a young man named Victor. He brought us chairs, food, beer -- whatever we wanted, he even arranged for a musical interlude. The advantage of El Viejo y El Mar is that they offer restrooms, a shower, and a fresh water pool - all free of charge. We enjoyed swimming in the Gulf water, which was clear as many Caribbean beaches that I have seen, so I'm not sure what the posts about the dirty water were about. While on the beach, we were indeed approached by numerous vendors, and did make purchases from some of them. If it bothers you to be approached by vendors, you will likely not have a good time here, however I found that a simple "no thank you" sufficed in each case. We purchased a handmade bracelet for 50 cents from a little girl (couldn't resist), a silver bracelet for $3, and listened to a Mexican love song for $1, all from the comfort of our palapa. One last note about cigars here and in other ports. Don't buy Cuban cigars from street vendors -- period. The likelihood of them being genuine is remote at best. Read this article for more information: http://www.cigarnexus.com/counsel/counterfeit/, but the bottom line is that you cannot get a box of 5 legitimate Cuban cigars for $20, so stick to reputable Havana cigar merchants for these, or better yet buy Mexican, Nicaraguan, or Dominican cigars and avoid the hassle. Cozumel. We decided to try Paradise Beach on Wednesday, which turned out to be a great choice. What we found was a clean, pretty beach, with lots of water toys, great service, and delicious food. I purchased a bucket of beer for $12 that they kept iced down, and camped out under an umbrella (too much sun in Progreso). Even at my age (45), I had a great time jumping off the iceberg and trampoline. While we had visited Chankanaab Parque in the past, we wanted a place that had a real beach, and were delighted with our choice of Paradise Beach. Although the snorkeling is better at places like Chankanaab, I could still get my snorkeling fix here and see some wonderful sea life. If you want the best snorkeling, stick to the deeper water, and go early as the water tends to get stirred up later in the day. I also had the pleasure of meeting Tom, who was out on the beach meeting and greeting his guests. When I inquired about the safety of soft drinks for my kids (since it uses water), Tom was nice enough to show me the impressive double-filtration system that they use for their soft drinks. Even with four ships in port, the beach never felt crowded, and the service was awesome all day. All in all, a perfect way to spend the day in Cozumel. On the way back to the ship, we stopped briefly in San Miguel and were very disappointed in the prices, even at Los Sinco Soles, where we thought we had gotten good deals before. My advice is to load up on bargains in Progreso and spend the day at Paradise Beach in Cozumel. Belize. We had been to Belize before, and had taken an excursion to Goff's Caye last time. As it turns out, we wished we had taken an excursion again. When you arrive in Belize City via tender, you are dumped into a somewhat small, secure shopping area. In this area, your best bets are buying Belizean cashew wine and Barrel 1 rum from the liquor store. Feeling a little adventurous, my wife and I decided to venture out beyond the gates and see "downtown" Belize City. We hired a nice local named Errol who agreed to take us round trip to the downtown area for shopping for $10, which seemed reasonable considering it was over 100° F that day, until we learned that downtown is in fact quite close and easily walkable. The bad news is that there is really not much to see here, and we saw no great bargains. My advice in this port is to take an excursion, then do your shopping in the little market just outside of the gates of the secure shopping area. We were able to get beautiful wood carvings there for a very good price. The merchants are willing to bargain here, so don't be afraid to counter with a lower price. Also outside the gates, across from the secured area, take a walk up to the pirate's museum where you get a pint of Barrel 1 rum for $4. It fits nicely in your back pocket in case you are running low :o). Another must-do is a stop at the Wet Lizard bar for a fantastic view of the lagoon and $2 Belikin beer, a local beer that is surprising good, even to my beer-snob taste. For you stout fans, try the Belikin stout - awesome! Also try the fried conch fritters and some of the Wet Lizard's own After Burner hot sauce (I bought some from the gift shop downstairs). Debarkation. The usual short wait. We had yellow Empress Deck tags and were among the first group to go. We had a porter grab our bags, but unlike other ports where porters go to the front of the line, the porter had to wait with us. I would not recommend using the services of a porter here unless you are physically unable to drag all of your bags to the curb. I took the Carnival transfer to IAH for a 2:30 flight. We wound up getting on the shuttle by 10:00, but got worried when the bus took the exit for Hobby airport. Turns out that the shuttle was going to both airports. At IAH, the bus stops right at a sky cap station where you can drop your bags and get your boarding passes. We got to our gate with an hour to spare, so if your flight is before 1:30, you probably want to make sure you are among the first off the ship. Complaint department. While I think that a cruise is only as good as you make it, and people will treat you with respect if you treat them respectfully, I feel that there was an incident where I was treated poorly by the maitre d' of the Inspiration dining room, Jean-Pierre. He was condescending and downright rude to me in dealing with a request to have my table changed. On the positive side, the maitre d' of the Inspiration dining room, Nino, was one of the most gracious and polite people I have met, and while he still could not solve my problem, he at least approached it with courtesy and compassion, not insults. On the subject of courtesy, I was appalled by the actions of another guest at breakfast one morning - not towards me but to the dining staff! This "gentleman" who happened to be from Texas (Arnie, I think his name was), virtually threw his eggs at the waiter because they were overcooked, stating that "anyone knows eggs benedict are served runny". I think that everyone on board deserves to be treated with respect - whether they are a passenger, a waiter or the Captain of the ship! Tips and Hints. Tip #1: "Smuggling". I am either too honest or too lazy to do the shampoo or water bottle trick to get liquor on board (see other posts for that), so I decided to take my chances and carefully pack a liter of rum in my luggage. I wrapped the bottle in double zip-lock baggies, then in cardboard. I was pleased to find the bottle intact in my luggage on arrival. I think if people bring only a small amount and don't get sneaky, they are probably ok with this practice. Tip #2: My secret rum punch. Actually, I read this tip from another review and decided to give it a shot. Turns out it tastes excellent, saved me money, and I could make the drink as strong as I want :o) Here's the recipe. 1. Go to the gift shop and purchase an insulated water container for $5.00. 2. Go to Tiffany's and fill ½ way with fruit punch, add a splash of lemonade, then a few ice cubes. 3. Top off with rum to your taste, mood, and/or state of intoxication. Tip #3: Take small bills ashore for shopping - and distribute the money through your pockets. Otherwise it's tough to bargain a $4 item down to $3 when you pull out a 20 dollar bill. And don't worry about getting enough small bills for the entire trip. The Purser's desk is always willing to give change. Tip #4: Do most of your shopping in Progreso. You will not see prices lower than you do there. Tip #5: Relax, and enjoy yourself. Remember, this is your vacation - you earned it and paid for it! Don't let the little things get to you. Lessons learned. If I choose Galveston for another cruise, I will be sure to factor in some of the "hidden" costs that offset the low price for this cruise: 1. Additional cost of $66 X 4 for transfers to/from IAH. We can get a taxi in Miami for less than $15 for four - ouch! 2. The cost of hotels in Galveston. Since I insist on staying overnight before a cruise, this cost must be included. The junkiest hotels were charging over $100 a night, and that was with no shuttle. Also, there was a bit of bad mouthing northerners, non-Texans, New Yorkers, etc. from a few lunk heads, but I found most fellow passengers to be terrific people, and made a bunch of new friends. Overall, I was delighted with this cruise and will not hesitate to choose Carnival again! Read Less
Sail Date August 2005
The inadvertent "Cruise to Nowhere". Our itinerary was Cozumel and Playa, but Hurricane Emily had her way with us and it became the 'cruise to nowhere'. More on that later... This was my fourth cruise; the second on ... Read More
The inadvertent "Cruise to Nowhere". Our itinerary was Cozumel and Playa, but Hurricane Emily had her way with us and it became the 'cruise to nowhere'. More on that later... This was my fourth cruise; the second on Carnival. I had a wonderful time on the first (Celebration, 1996) and figured it was because the first time cruising is always great - you have nothing to compare it to. I had previously cruised on Celebrity (Zenith) and on the Grand Princess. Well, I was expecting the worst, being summer with all the kids...my two grandchildren (12 & 16) amongst them...but was pleasantly surprised. From embarkation to debarkation this was a wonderful vacation and a great value. My mom and I and the teen grandkids were all in one suite and there was plenty of room. The closet and drawer space was more than adequate. While the kids didn't take advantage of all the Camp Carnival activities, the 16 yr old met lots of other kids and went to the disco, but mainly 'hung out' with the other kids, playing ping pong, eating pizza and whatever else it is that kids do at that age. The 12 yr old attended several sessions of Camp Carnival and enjoyed it, but found herself a couple of babysitting jobs for kids in neighboring cabins and spent hours in the shops deciding what to spend her money on - the shops were disappointing. Quite small and crowded, and nothing much I was interested in. Everyone from the rep at the embarkation area to the helpful baggage assistants were great. We had a suite so we went to the Skipper's Club and finished that little detail in about 10 minutes. Then we were escorted past the other guests (and right past the obligatory photo op) to the ship. The suite was very nice and had all the necessary amenities.(Huge white fluffy towels. Yum!) Don't plan on using your safe for anything but a wallet though, it's far too small to hold anything else. Our cabin steward was not to be found for the first couple of hours, which was unlike other cruises I have been on, especially in a suite where they are usually omnipresent. Took awhile to get some more ice, but it didn't ruin my vacation! Our dining room seating arrangements were wrong, but it wasn't that big a deal for us and we let it go. I'm sure it could have been fixed by the Maitre d' if necessary, but we were just as happy to eat at 8 instead of 6 as had been requested. Our waiter, Santiago, (Wind Song dining room table 272) was the best! (Very easy to look at as well!) He remembered everyone's names and never wrote down an order, but managed to get everything right. His assistant whose name I can't remember (little Asian guy - 50ish maybe) was so cute and sang and danced during the "entertainment" like he was really enjoying himself. The food was as good as Celebrity and Princess - maybe a bit better. The desserts were awesome as were the soups, breads and pastries. I don't understand those who say that the food was poor or mediocre. I'm a pretty good judge of food and I thought it was excellent. Food in the Panorama Bar and Grill was just average - Mom hated her lunch the second day - but we found the Deli back by the pizza line and had delicious deli sandwiches on fresh rolls. Can't say enough good things about the desserts at lunch too! The burgers and hot dogs outside by the pool were good. I had a great triple treatment special at the Nautica Spa; a 25 minute massage, a foot and ankle massage and a mini-facial for $99. Well worth the price. The fitness center was excellent. Lots of treadmills, stationary bikes, weight machines and free weights. For a gym at sea it was great. More on the "Cruise to Nowhere". Hurricane Emily was lurking in the Caribbean, and although I checked several times, no one could or would tell me what the alternate itinerary would be, just that we would go "somewhere" if the Emily continued to head toward the Yucatan and Cozumel. When it became apparent that's what would indeed happen, we were told that we would go to Cozumel a day late and have to miss Playa del Carmen/Calica. I was wary about that answer to begin with; if a hurricane smacks into a small island at 120 mph, can it really be a great spot to visit 24 hours later? Maybe as a cleanup crew volunteer! It would have been nice to have gone to Key West or the Bahamas somewhere, but it was not to be . I guess you can't just park those ships anywhere! There were several unhappy people, but although our kids were disappointed, Mom and I were happy to just be 'at sea' for a few days. That's the best part for me anyway; the ports are secondary. Carnival gave all passengers $50 off their shipboard account as well as a 50% discount on the next Carnival cruise! Woo hoo! We're already making plans. I think the main reason folks were less than gruntled was that we felt Carnival most likely knew the ship was bound for Nowhere and just didn't want to admit it before sailing. Grandkid #1's first word when we got on the ship was "sweeeeeeeeet". He states he had "a blast" and can't wait to go again. Grandchild #2 got stuck in the elevator, pushed the call button and someone answered immediately and she was 'rescued' in 2 minutes. When does THAT ever happen? She also discovered the bliss of room service - they must have recognized her voice by the end of the first day. Debarkation has always been a nightmare and I dreaded this one as well. I'm sure the fact that there were no customs to go through (we didn't GO anywhere remember?) had something to do with it, but we had a leisurely breakfast while the self-help baggage people schlepped their stuff to the exit at 7:30, and missed our tag color being called to debark. When ready, we strolled off the ship and collected our luggage and were off. We live in Houston, and my brother picked us up, so we were home in an hour and a half. Couldn't have been easier. Thanks to everyone at Carnival for making this a great vacation. Read Less
Sail Date July 2005
Personal Info and cruise history: Myself (Rangerdog), DH and DS traveled on the Ecstasy July 21-25. This was my 9th cruise (with 2 more upcoming: Sensation on Sept. 1st). We've sailed Carnival, RCCL and Norwegian so I have several ... Read More
Personal Info and cruise history: Myself (Rangerdog), DH and DS traveled on the Ecstasy July 21-25. This was my 9th cruise (with 2 more upcoming: Sensation on Sept. 1st). We've sailed Carnival, RCCL and Norwegian so I have several cruises in which to compare. We sailed on a 4 day cruise to Cozumel. Travel to ship and embarkation: We traveled to the port in our own vehicle, since we only live 45 miles away. We parked in the EZ Cruise parking. We used a $5.00 internet coupon, so we only paid $35.00 to park. The lot was elevated and the staff was very friendly. The shuttle picked us up, with our luggage, about 5 minutes after parking and drove straight to the ship. We arrived at the port at 11:00 and went through security and Fun Pass check-in with NO LINES. They allowed us to start boarding around 12:15. We were on the ship and in our room at 12:45. We were eating in the Panorama Grill at 1:00pm. Embarkation was very smooth, organized and the staff were very friendly and helpful. Cabin: After boarding at 12:30, we proceeded straight to our room (R 153) and it was ready. Our room was located midship, starboard side, oceanview. We were watching them load luggage from our window. We had a bunk bed for our son. We had plenty of room for the 3 of us and we are NOT small people. The bathroom shower had a soap and shampoo dispenser, which was very handy. There was also an amenities basket containing toothpaste, razors, lotion, dental floss pick, moisturizer and several other things. The room was very soundproof and we hardly heard any noises. The new bedding was WONDERFUL!! I've never slept this good on a cruise! We went to eat lunch and our luggage was outside our room about 3:00pm. Dining and Food: We ate dinner in the Wind Song dining room at 5:45 at table 266. This was a table for 6 and Carnival did a GREAT job of placing us with another family of 3 with a son the same age as my son. Our waiter was John from Indonesia and our asst. waiter was Marcel also from Indonesia. They were very friendly, fun, efficient and accurate. After the first night, Marcel knew that we all drank tea w/ lemons and sweet and low and our glasses never went empty. As I said earlier, this was not our first cruise, and we thought the dining room food was the best we've ever had. The portions, taste, appearance and quality was more than what we expected. We ate in the dining room every night. For lunch and breakfast, we ate on the Lido deck or in the pizzeria/deli. We had the Panorama buffet the first day. It was all right, but nothing wonderful. The Lido deck breakfast, the hot dogs, hamburgers, French fries, pizza, Caesar salads and deli sandwiches were great! My son ordered room service and said the peanut butter sandwiches, ham sandwich and cookies were also good. Of course we were very spoiled with having pizza and ice cream at midnight every night!! Also, the hot chocolate was wonderful, but the machine only worked the first 2 days. Interesting fact: there are NO straws available anywhere on the Ecstasy!! I don't know if this is standard on other ships, but we've never noticed this until this cruise. Ship's Facilities: The Ecstasy has all new bedding, which was wonderful. Our cabin curtains were a little worn with a couple of holes. The bathroom is showing signs of wear, with a few tiles missing and other discolored tiles, but everything functionally worked well. Even though this is an older ship, she is in pretty good shape. There were a couple of stains on the carpet in several places on the ship, but nothing major. I'm sure other people could nit pick the ships facilities to death, but my opinion is that the ship is in pretty good shape, and being on a cruise is better than being at work!! The Ecstasy staff was always working hard at cleaning, polishing, organizing and disinfecting. I would sail on the Ecstasy again! Service: Cabin Steward: Our steward did an excellent job in keeping our room clean. He also kept our ice chest full of ice (we brought our own cooler with cokes). He also honored our request to have the bottled cokes and water removed from our counter, so that we had more counter space. As far as his personality, he wasn't really outgoing and very friendly. We had to speak to him before he would speak to us. This was NOT an important issue to us, because he did provide excellent service. I'm just an outgoing person and I love to talk and socialize with people and this wasn't his style. I guess he was all work and no play. Waiters: As I said earlier, our waiter and asst. waiter were wonderful. Not only did they do an excellent job in providing quality service, they were fun and I even danced with them!! Cruise director: Our cruise director was Rebecca Llewellen. She did a good job in keeping things organized and running smoothly. However, we feel that we've had more entertaining cruise directors on other cruises. Ship's photographers: As always, the ships photographers were everywhere, but they did not pressure you or push you into taking any pictures. We were also very impressed with the selection of various backdrops used for pictures throughout the ship. The used motorcycles, cars, pianos as well as stairways, libraries and waterfalls as backgrounds. They also had a picture station on the Promenade deck set up that you could dress up in all different kinds of outfits to take pictures. Their selection in picture backgrounds were very different and lots of varieties to choose from. However, the photo gallery was VERY small and cramped. Due to lack of space, they rotated their pictures daily. If you missed finding your pictures one day, then they were gone the next. Entertainment: Being a musical person myself, I tend to be very critical of musical performances. Their entertainment shows were great and very enjoyable. The Country show on the last night was AWESOME!! Not only because of the country theme and most people were from Texas, but they also sang "Rocky Top" and I'm a Tennessee Volunteer through and through!! They ended the show with Lee Greenwood's "I'm proud to be an American". Everyone was on their feet and not many dry eyes. The live show band was great, too. They had a 30 minute show one afternoon and we sat in the Blue Sapphire lounge and listened to them. They played jazz, big band, swing and other styles. This was very enjoyable. Overall, all the entertainment (dancers, Atrium music, bars) was very relaxing and enjoyable. Ports of Call: This was a 4 day cruise with Cozumel as our only port of call. We docked at the Puerto Maya pier. All the shops on the pier had no power due to the hurricane. However, they were open for business and were very friendly and positive. Several of the shop walls and ceiling had damage, but they were working at getting them repaired. We took a $6.00 cab ride to Carlos and Charlies in downtown Cozumel. We went through several shops at the mall like Los Cinco Soles. As we were in the cab, I noticed lots of hurricane damage. Roofs blown away, walls missing, trees down, powerlines down, etc. However, I was very impressed with the Mexican people and how hard they were working at cleaning, repairing and putting their lives back together while still being cordial and friendly to all the cruise guests. Tips/Gratuities: Our tips were put on our sail and sign. The tips were $40.00 a person, which was $120.00 for our family of 3. I'm assuming our steward and waiters knew that we paid, because we were not given any vouchers to present to them. I really think Carnival needs to print out vouchers so that we have something to give them on the last night, so that they know we paid. We tipped room service $2.00 each time we ordered. We also tipped our shuttle driver at the port and our baggage handler ($1.00 per bag). Weather/Sea Conditions: Having never sailed during hurricane season before, I was a little concerned with how rough the seas might be. WOW, was I surprised. This was the smoothest cruise we've ever had. We could barely feel the ship moving. With several TD's and several hurricanes in the past month, I really thought the seas would really be churning. The only rain we had was a quick 5 minute rain shower on our first sea day. After arriving home, I think this shower must have been from TD Gert. I didn't even know there was a TD in the Gulf and over the Yucatan. We never had any weather problems and very smooth seas!! Disembarkation: Our final Sign and sail bill was under our door at 6am and needed no corrections. We decided we would try the self assist debarkation. They called for all self assists at 7:30 am and we were off the ship by 7:45am. It was nice not having to look for your luggage. There were a lot more people using this service than I thought would. There were probably around 200-300 or so, but the line moved quickly. Once outside the terminal, our EZ cruise shuttle was waiting. We were in our car pulling away at 8:00am. We were at Cracker Barrel eating breakfast at 8:30am. If you don't mind hauling your own luggage, I would certainly recommend this service because you bypass a lot of the crowds once you're off the ship. The shuttles and port traffic was not even busy and we liked that. Past Passenger Benefits: Well, this is one area that Carnival could learn from Royal Caribbean. With the exception of the Gold Sign and Sail (past guest color), there were no acknowledgments/benefits or parties for past guests. The Carnival past guest party is only on 5 days or longer. RCCL has the past guest coupon book, welcome back party and a welcome back gift. This will not keep us from sailing Carnival again, but the past guest benefits and recognition would sure be nice. Overall, we would give this ship an 8 rating. The dining room food was a 10 rating. The entertainment shows with the Ecstasy dancers were a 10. Other entertainment would be an 8. Read Less
Sail Date July 2005
This was our first cruise. Our group of 9 included 4 adults (parents) and 5 boys ages 12, 15, 16, 19, and 22. We were very excited because we were upgraded from 2 OV and 1 inside, to two Penthouse suites and 1 OV. Embarkation was very ... Read More
This was our first cruise. Our group of 9 included 4 adults (parents) and 5 boys ages 12, 15, 16, 19, and 22. We were very excited because we were upgraded from 2 OV and 1 inside, to two Penthouse suites and 1 OV. Embarkation was very easy for us. We arrived at port around 11:10 and were enthusiastically greeted by workers who had us sit in chairs while they boarded a wedding party. We were then led to lines to get our S & S cards and quickly boarded. We found our beautiful cabins which were immaculate! The stewards involved in our rooms were very friendly and kept our rooms in great order. They provided for all of our needs and wants with genuine friendly smiles! We were eating a lovely lunch in Tiffany's by 12:15 then went to explore the ship! The muster drill was not nearly as bad as I had read and soon we were blowing bubbles at the sail away party on the Lido Deck! Our group ate every dinner in the Imagination Dining room-6:15 seating. Our waiters were wonderful. They quickly learned our preferences and were very entertaining. The food was marvelous in this dining room. Our steaks were tender (even mine which was cooked well done) and the lobster heavenly, and every other dish beautifully presented. We enjoyed the deserts in the dining room as well as in Tiffany's. We never had long lines at the buffet! Tiffany's had a beautiful salad bar with very fresh fruit and salad items! The omelette station was great too! The kids enjoyed the pizza and ice cream station. DH liked the fish & salmon selections available each day! We had room service in am for coffee and tea and the kids had cookies delivered a couple of times and roast beef sandwiches delivered twice! Room service was quick! Gala buffet was beautiful. However, since so many people continued to touch and lick the beautifully displayed food at the viewing, ..we did not care to eat any of it! Entertainment was fun on this cruise. Jorge the CD was great. He has a quick sense of humor! We had one evening of really big winds and waves, when we were avoiding the hurricane. He quickly turned the situation into funny one liners! We enjoyed the Newly Wed and Not So Newly Wed Game, other game shows, Hairy Man Contest, and Elation Idol. The big shows were entertaining. The balancing act was amazing! I was impressed that the Elation Dancers danced and sang nonstop for 35 minutes each night! (One night with the ship really rocking!) My kids also enjoyed the shows! The comedians were funny even though I never went to the late night R-Rated ones. We found plenty of fun things to do each day! I took my 12yo to the Camp Carnival meet the first night. He did not like it. He was in the 12-14 age group with the activities centered around boy/girl activities like dancing, etc. He would much prefer sports type activities and games to teen mixers. There is a huge developmental difference in boys between 12 and 14. We could have put him with 11 year olds but by the time we realized he did not care for his age group--the other kids were off and running in groups and had already completed intro activities! My 16 yo and his 15yo friend had a blast in Club02 at Spirals. They cater to this age group and constantly had age appropriate activities for these kids. My 19 year old (too young to drink but ok to gamble) also had trouble meeting people his age. He went to the one 18+ single meet with his 22 yo brother. He stayed for 45 minutes. Two small groups (group of 2 and group of 3) came in already in a group. They talked and danced among their group and did not mix. He went to the games on the Lido deck and Mikado Lounge, went to a couple of discos, played bingo, wandered around the pool, and the casino, and never had a chance to meet others. The others his age all seemed to be with someone or a small group already. The last day he met a young man his age in the same situation who had spent the week hanging around his 14 yo sister. They could really improve in this area if they had some activities directed at the 18-20yos. This said and done...every single person in our group loved this cruise!!! The crew really had to hustle to get some excursions for our unscheduled stops in the Bahamas. Since we had no time to research the ports, (and this was our first cruise) our group felt like we needed to depend on CCL for our excursions. In Nassau we booked the Pearl Island Snorkel Treasure Hunt. We had a great time but were a bit rushed in eating lunch. Then we took a water taxi to Paradise Island and went to the beach! The waves and water were awesome!! The waves that day were at least 7-8 feet! They towered over my two 6'4 older boys! It was a blast! Then off to Hard Rock Cafe to eat then...Senor Frogs! Believe me our group had never seen anything like it before! (Remember....we are midwesterners! LOL) We were back on board at 10:30pm listening to the band from our balcony and waving a sad goodbye to a beautiful island! In Freeport a band welcomed our ship into port at 7am. Within minutes a wonderfully costumed marching band began entertaining our ship for over an hour! We booked the Tranquility Shores Beach Break with lunch included. A/C bus took us to the beach. The water was beautiful and the sea very calm. Chairs were available but no umbrellas. The bar/restaurant was open but covered and right on the beach! We found a large table near a large open "window" and settled in with a complementary Bahama Mama! The kids played in the water but did not have any toys to play with. Since the water was so calm, the boys were slightly bored! I finally paid for the boys to take a tube ride on a banana boat for 15 minutes. ($15pp USAD) They enjoyed that a lot! Food was good and the facilities had a band playing and organized a few games like egg toss and limbo. Shops were outside the bar area so no one was bothering us on the beach! Left around 3 and boarded ship with time to clean up and get ready for dinner. Key West was the port we least looked forward to. Three of our group live in Florida and could not believe they flew all the way to Texas to end up in Florida. That said, Key West ended up being several peoples favorite stop! We booked the Catamaran sail and snorkel and talk about a professional excursion!!! These guys actually taught people about snorkeling, the fish we would see, about the coral reef, and emphasized safety! They broadcast music for our enjoyment! We sailed about an hour out in beautiful water with a dolphin following us! The water was crystal clear, and we saw a tuna, a shark, and hundreds of colorful fish and plants. After an hour of snorkeling, we sailed back to our ship. On the way back they served water, pop, wine, & beer. As much as we wanted! When we got back, we ate lunch at Billie's and shopped. It was a hot but wonderful day! We spent the last full day enjoying our trip, visiting with our CC friends (Volleyballfamily, Jordonaire, and MRLT) and sitting on our balcony, watching the blue sea roll by, watching the stars, gazing at the full moon's reflection on the ocean at night, and listening to the peaceful waves! Disembarkation was as easy as boarding. We ate breakfast at Tiffany's one last time. We went to the lounge until our color tag was called (right after self-embarkation). We gave the officials our customs' papers, picked up our luggage, got into our limo party bus and was back to our car at the hotel by 10:10. Every person in this group said this was the best vacation ever! The boys are begging to book the Elation again with hopes of going to Merida, Cozumel, and Belize! I thought it was awesome to see Dh and 4 sons in tuxedos. We bought some awesome photos! ($$$!!!) I thought it was a great "Mom's vacation"--no cooking, cleaning, complaining about what and where to eat, and most importantly, others waiting on ME! Can't wait to book again! Read Less
Sail Date July 2005
Elation 7/17/05.. Re-routed to the Bahamas and Key West due to Hurricane Emily. This was my first cruise, so I don't have anything to compare it to really. We were, of course, disappointed that we were unable to go to our original ... Read More
Elation 7/17/05.. Re-routed to the Bahamas and Key West due to Hurricane Emily. This was my first cruise, so I don't have anything to compare it to really. We were, of course, disappointed that we were unable to go to our original destinations, but, hey, who are we to get upset with nature. The Elation is a nice ship.. inside and out, I was impressed... very clean, well-maintained and aesthetically pleasing. I was also impressed with the staff and services I received. Our stateroom steward was very kind and prompt. Wait staff was friendly and funny. The Cruise Director, Jorge Solano, was hilarious.. more so than the ship's stand-up comedian. The food was only fair .. a lot of things tasted very boxed and unfresh.. heavily processed foods. The smoked salmon was very good, though. I would like to see more organic and vegetarian choices. Monday was very rough at sea.. a lot of people got sick and I had to sit out on the captains dinner since I was feeling so woozy. Otherwise, it was smooth sailing for the remainder of the week. The Bahamas were not what I expected.. Nassau was beautiful, but the people seemed very hostile.. lots of people gave me the "stink eye".. not real friendly folks from my experience.. although we did pick up some great Cuban cigars. We took a ferry to Paradise Island, but now I wish we had gone to the Blue Lagoon area, but we just didn't have enough time to plan this out. Nearly all of the excursions were sold out since so many people had been re-routed to the Bahamas due to weather. Freeport was smaller, the people were more friendly, although the ship docks in that yucky industrial area.. looked kind of like Lubbock, TX.. but the other side of the island was nice. Key West was awesome! My favorite port of call.. the people were very cool and laid back.. absolutely beautiful place! Can't say enough positive things about it. The Hemingway home was also awesome. All in all, we had a great experience but just wished we could have had more time to prepare for the last minute changes in destinations. I feel like we missed out on a lot of things that these ports of call had to offer. Drank lots of rum though! Read Less
Sail Date July 2005
We spent the night at the La Quinta on 14th st in Galveston. We could leave our car in their lot and take a taxi to the ship. We left around 10 a.m. and got caught in a lot of the people still getting off the ship. Next time we won't ... Read More
We spent the night at the La Quinta on 14th st in Galveston. We could leave our car in their lot and take a taxi to the ship. We left around 10 a.m. and got caught in a lot of the people still getting off the ship. Next time we won't leave the hotel before 10:30 or 11:00 a.m. When we disembarked, we were through immigration and in a taxi going to the hotel with in 10 minutes. The ship seemed in very good shape. Since we've sailed on the Ecstasy and Fantasy, we were able to find our way around very well. Jorge the Cruise Director and his staff were great. The shows were enjoyable and were very entertaining. We were able to attend 2 of the comedy shows and they were just as good. Our daughter (5 yo) attended Camp Carnival a few times and really enjoyed it. She came back every afternoon with her face painted and even wore it that way to dinner once. There weren't too many specific programs for her age group (2-5), but I think if we go again next year she'll have more activities catering to her age level. The meals were very good. Our wait staff was very courteous, but kind of slow. Tiffany was always a good option for breakfast and lunch. We enjoyed the varying lunch menu, but breakfast was the same every day. This was the first cruise where we stayed in an inside cabin and it was just fine. Except for the smoker in the cabin next door. The smoke filled the halls and our room. It was hard for us to handle at some times. We mentioned this on our comment card. I would think there must be some way to separate smoking and non-smoking rooms or ventilate designated smoking rooms better. Smoke didn't bother us anywhere else on the ship except in the casino which is to be expected. The photography staff was VERY busy. There were at least 10 backgrounds set up every evening and you couldn't get very far without someone wanting to take your picture. I thought the 8x10s were over priced ($20 each), but we purchased a few for family portraits. With a five year old we limited our excursions, but still had lots of fun on the ship when it wasn't too crowded. In Progresso we took the shuttle into town. It stopped at a nice market and we did some shopping. There were also shops right at the dock at the end of the pier. The prices here were much better than the ones we saw in Cozumel. In an hour we were heading back to the ship. In Cozumel we took a taxi to Paradise Beach ($14 each way). Admission and use of chairs and umbrellas were free. There is a charge to use the equipment ($8 per person). Its a great beach and if we cruise to Cozumel again, we'll go back there. In Belize City we took the city tour. It was interesting to learn about the city and its history, but not too many great sites. Its a very low income country. Overall, it was a great trip and we're ready to plan our next cruise. Read Less
Sail Date July 2005
Sailing Dates 03 July - 10 July 2005 This was our third Carnival Cruise and by far the most interesting. Overall the experience was great but a few comments are in order. EMBARKATION: We arrived from our hotel (Hilton Galveston Resort) ... Read More
Sailing Dates 03 July - 10 July 2005 This was our third Carnival Cruise and by far the most interesting. Overall the experience was great but a few comments are in order. EMBARKATION: We arrived from our hotel (Hilton Galveston Resort) around 1:00 p.m. and were on the ship by 1:30. This was a very pleasant surprise and a a far cry from other cruises when waits to board were an hour or more. SHIP CONDITION: Not as worn out as we were lead to believe by some other post on this site. Ship was very clean and well serviced. Carpet and furniture were in good condition. Did see a few stains primarily caused by dropped ice cream cones. CABIN: Our cabin was neat and very clean. Jolly, our cabin steward, took very good care of us. DINING: We ate all out breakfasts and lunches at Tiffanys. Selection and food quality were up to Carnivals usual high standards. Did get a bit crowded later in the morning and at lunch time but wait times in line were minimal. The service by the wait staff was at times a little to good. Several times I had my dishes cleared before I was done eating! Our experiences at dinner detracted from what was an outstanding cruise experience. Dinner was the early seating (5:45) in the Inspiration Dining Room (we had asked for late seating). The problems were not with the food quality or service. Garfield and Alvan, our waiters were fantastic. They knew our likes and dislikes from the first nite. The problem came from where we were seated. Table 299 is a booth for 6 in the very back of the dining room behind several partitions. You could not see nor hear what was going on in the rest of the dining room. Although our service team made every effort to see that we were included in the festivities, the usually fun dining experience was not there. CREW: All were friendly and very helpful. Service by the Purser and her staff was exceptionally noteworthy. Capt Donato kept everyone well informed on the status of Hurricane Dennis and its possible affect on the ship. Jorge, the Cruise Director was a hoot!! That being said, several things could be improved. Security needs to do a better job keeping the hoards of children that ran around the ship under control. I got run over a couple of times! Another thing that needs attention is better enforcement of the no smoking areas. In one case a passenger was sitting underneath a no smoking sign on the Lido Deck smoking. Several security personnel walked right past without saying anything and a deck steward even brought the person an ashtray much to the displeasure of several of us trying to eat lunch. ENTERTAINMENT: All shows were good, especially the production shows. The comedians were funny and kept it pretty clean for a family show. The guy who balanced everything but the kitchen sink was noteworthy. SHORE TOURS: In Progresso, went to visit the Myan ruins (short tour). Well worth the time and money. In Cozumel and Belize, we took the Catamaran Snorkel and Beach Party tours. Great both times. More fish in Cozumel but in Belize you get to see an extraordinary reef ecosystem in action. One word of caution, The "Rum Punch" served on the Belize trip is mostly rum!!! DEBARKATION: We were off the ship, back to the hotel, in our car, and on the was back home to San Antonio by 10:00. All in all a very enjoyable and relaxing 7 days. We are counting the days till our next Carnival Cruise!! Read Less
Sail Date July 2005
This was our first cruise, so we have nothing to compare but we thought it was wonderful! We have read so many reviews and they run from great to poor. Well, here is our opinion: Embarkation: It took us about an hour start to finish. ... Read More
This was our first cruise, so we have nothing to compare but we thought it was wonderful! We have read so many reviews and they run from great to poor. Well, here is our opinion: Embarkation: It took us about an hour start to finish. Painless! Staff was very friendly and helpful. Food: Wonderful!! We had early seating in the Inspiration Room at a booth for 6. Our family of four sat with a grandma and grand daughter which was wonderful! My husband and I ate every evening meal here and our oldest only missed one of the formal nights. Each night was a treat! There were many choices and if something wasn't quite what you expected, you could just order something else! Our wait staff, Alongkot and Alvaro were wonderful and knew our likes and dislikes after one night! Service was spectacular, even the Maitre d' was at our table several nights! We ate at Tiffanys for breakfast the first few mornings and then finally tried Inspiration. Choice of breakfast food was about the same in both places but Inspiration was more enjoyable because of the service and it was just as quick as the buffet. We ate most lunches at Tiffanys or at the ports. They have a great salad and fruit bar and delicious desserts! The hot food was just fine about what you would expect at a buffet. They had a "Taste of the Nations" everyday. My favorite was the Mexican!! We each had at least one burger and fries from outside....they were very yummy! Our youngest son ate at Tiffanys most every meal....he kept the 24 hour pizzeria busy!!! And of course, the ice cream machine was a nice treat! I personally gained 4 pounds on this cruise!!! Service: As I stated before, our wait staff was awesome!! The first night my husband ordered two glasses of milk with dessert and every night after that, Alvaro brought him two glasses without being asked. Alvaro and Alongkot kept a close eye on our drinks and bread and kept everything full....they were quick to notice if we weren't eating much and questioned if the food was okay. We made sure to tip extra for the wait staff....it could not have been better service! Tiffanys also had great service too, they were very quick to pick up dirty plates and would come around and fill up your drinks!! Our room steward, German (pronounced Herman) was great. Always friendly and courteous when we saw him in the hallway! Our room was made up twice a day, had the cute towel animals and chocolates, and our little cooler filled with ice!! I noticed little things too that they did....our room was a mess with four of us being in there and they organized my stuff every now and then. I tried to throw a pair of old tennis shoes away after cave tubing in them and they sat them up on their toes in the bathroom to air dry, they must have thought I was trying to dry them! LOL I ended up taking them home with me. Service was superb! Progreso: We were off the ship quickly and painlessly! We were the first on the free shuttle bus. We were dropped off at the flea market and we walked through the town and down to the beach. The town is very poor but extremely friendly. There are many people trying to sell you their wares but they would leave you alone if you said no. We sat at the beach at La St. Bonnet and had cold Cokes and hubby had a Corona. They brought us chips and pico de gallo that was very good! Mike (Miguel) was a host or something....very friendly and helpful. I have heard that the food was good but we just weren't hungry. They have clean bathrooms here, by the way! We just relaxed for awhile and watched everyone play in the water! Then we decided to take the double decker city tour bus, it was only $2 each. We sat on top and had a great view...our guide was very informative, I would highly recommend this little tour. We had to wait a bit for the shuttle to come pick us up and we were really packed on!! All in all, Progreso is a neat little town! Cozumel: Again, we were off the ship quickly. Ported at Punta Lanosta and took the escalator over the road, walked through the shopping center and grabbed a cab. It cost $8 for a taxi to Marina Calesta. There we met up with Eagle Ray Divers. While we waited for the others to show up, our guide, Bernardo fitted us with fins and face masks. There were only 10 of us on this tour! Yeah!!! Antonio was there to check us in and then he ran and bought some water, cokes, and coronas for the tour. We did the two reef tour...I am glad we didn't do three as we were getting a little tired and for some reason our oldest son and myself were getting a little sea sick. Something about floating on top of the water , rocking back and forth and looking down for that long, I suppose. Bernardo was great! He pointed out many sea creatures and even brought a few to the surface for us to see. He took our cameras and took pictures for us. We saw barracuda, lobster, eel, starfish, conch, and so many brightly colored fish!! Luis, our boat driver, kept the boat close by. Our boys say this was the coolest thing they have ever seen and we take many many vacations! www.eagleraydivers.com When we got back to the Marina, Bernardo took his motorcycle and grabbed a cab for us. Again, $8 back to Punta Langosta. We were worn out and felt yucky with all the salt water on us so we headed back to the ship for a quick shower and change of clothes. Then we headed back into San Miguel and did some shopping and grabbed a bite and a beer at Carlos and Charlies! Belize: We booked a tour with Coral Breeze Limited for cave tubing. We asked the purser about getting a tender for this and we were told that to just go to the Mikado Lounge with Carnival's cave tubers. We waited about thirty minutes and headed to the tender. The tender was no problem...smooth sailing, took about 10 minutes to get to the Tourism Village. We docked within sight of the Wet Lizard bar where Monique and Ivar from Coral Breeze were waiting with a sign. We were early and the other family that booked took awhile to get there so we got to look around before we left. There were 10 of us all together on the tour. Ivar loaded us up in a van driven by his father, Raoul just outside the Tourism Village gate. Belize City is poor but I would feel safe walking around outside the Village, they had some neat stuff just outside the gate but there wasn't time then. We took a 1 1/2 hour ride to the river (a few miles of dirt road at the end, but Raoul took it slow and it wasn't too rough). Ivar and Raoul helped us get our tubes, head lamps, and life jackets and we set out through the rain forest. Ivar was so full of knowledge. The entire trip he told us about Belize, its people, economy, animals...you name it, he knew it! I could go on and on about all we saw!! It was great! We went through two caves, saw beautiful sights, and had a lovely walk through the forest. Water was slow through the caves but got quicker outside of them...always felt safe. It was a blast! Afterwards, we ate lunch at an open cafe right off the river. Wonderful food...I loved that bread and that gooey chocolate dessert!! It came with a great punch but you could order bar drinks and cokes too. Had to try the Belikan beer!!! The ride back to Belize City was quieter but once we got to the city, Ivar told us more of the people and the town...we got to see the old swing bridge! We had about an hour to spare when we got back to the Tourism Village but honestly, we were just plain tired and grabbed a tender and headed back. I would highly recommend Coral Breeze...they do snorkeling packages too! www.coralbreezelimited.com Days at Sea: Pools were nice, but I am not a fan of saltwater. Slide was fun, very fast! We liked most of the shows. We skipped the western show and only saw two of the three R rated comedian shows. The one we did see wasn't that funny but we heard that the others were. The guy with the balancing act was amazing!! We enjoyed all the games...only as spectators! ; ) Our cruise director was David Holt, at the end of the cruise we found out he was just filling in for the regular Cruise Director. We would have never guessed that normally he is an Assistant CD not an actual CD. He was hilarious!!! The gym and jogging track were very nice...I should have used them more often! LOL Disembarkation: We did self-assist. It took us two hours from start to finish. Lined up at 7:15 like we were told and were in the line for EZ parking shuttle two hours later. It was like cattle being herded but everyone said that it was quick...I would hate to see slow!! I think if everyone followed directions it would not be that bad...I think many people were just waiting on the other floors trying to butt into line and that really slowed things down. Overall: Fabulous, would do it again for sure!! I think that if a person takes the time to get to know the staff, the cruise is much more enjoyable!!!! Read Less
Sail Date July 2005
First of all, we were a family reunion party of 13 - most from the Houston area, my family of four from Maryland and two from ABQ. We ranged in age from 87 (my mother-in-law was the oldest person who ever went with a Coral Breeze Limited ... Read More
First of all, we were a family reunion party of 13 - most from the Houston area, my family of four from Maryland and two from ABQ. We ranged in age from 87 (my mother-in-law was the oldest person who ever went with a Coral Breeze Limited excursion, or so they said, as well as the oldest who ever snorkeled with them - she's an amazing woman) to 16. Four cousins ranged from 16-20 with the rest of the adults in their 50s. Half were new to cruising, and this was our 3rd cruise, 2nd on Carnival: Paradise, Celebrity's Century, and now Elation. Even so, I want to extend my thanks to all our you. I still poured over all your posts and made copious notes. Having so many together on the cruise allowed for different experiences, and I will try to relate most of them below. Getting to the Pier: While six of us flew in, none of us stayed in Galveston, so I cannot offer hotel suggestions, but I can pass along my sister's strong recommendation to visit Moody Gardens and NASA if you arrive early for your cruise. We had reservations at EZ Cruise parking, saving money by booking online. The lot is an easy walk to the terminal; none of our drivers decided to wait for the shuttle. They dropped passengers and luggage at the terminal, drove cars to the lot, and walked back; reversing that procedure when we debarked. Traffic was not too bad; just be prepared to be patient. Embarkation: We were at the terminal by noon, and the lines were minimal and moved quickly. We all had Fun Passes filled out online and were directed to our line which had maybe 50 people in it. Those without the online Fun Pass apparently had no line; go figure. Either that, or we were all directed to the same line anyway! Check in was a snap; we all had passports, and when my own Sail and Sign card was red, white, and blue whereas my family members had gold cards, I mentioned I, too, was a past cruiser, and the employee quickly changed that in the computer. After the obligatory "welcome aboard" photo, we headed to the gangway. While I missed the white-gloved waiters and complimentary champagne Celebrity offers, we were not disappointed with our initial view of the Grand Atrium. Everyone was excited. We decided to see if we could drop carry-ons in our rooms (we could), and we headed (where else?) for the Tiffany's buffet. The Ship: Addicted to these boards, I expected to see the stained carpets, but truthfully, I did not notice any until at least halfway through the cruise. We were on the Upper deck (outside), and our floor appeared in great shape. I will say portions of the stairs carpets in all locations could stand replacing. We did see people cleaning the ship frequently, although I have to feel for them when they must pick up after thoughtless cruisers who leave cups on the stairs or drop a plate of French fries and deign to pick up after themselves. This I do not understand, and I saw it on Celebrity, too. I guess some guests feel they are there to do nothing for themselves. Anyway, owing to the constant upkeep, the ship really looks great. The atrium is lovely, the artwork hanging on the walls is very good, and the large murals on each floor are colorful and artwork in themselves. I am not a sun worshiper, so I did not hang out by the pool. However, I did see lounge chairs available, albeit with plenty of "reserved" ones, too. Our biggest complaint was the lack of lounges on decks other than Lido and even on Lido outside of the pool area. We love to find a secluded corner, lounge, read, and watch the ocean. That was quite difficult. We lugged chairs more times than we liked, and my non-complainer husband even went to the desk about this. Our Room: We had a room for 4, with two drop-down beds. Ours "kids" are 16 and 20, and it is getting harder to share one room the more clothes they bring :-) But we still managed, and honestly, the rooms are well-constructed. We found room for all our clothes - assigned drawers and shelves and hanging space to each of us. The biggest challenge is all getting ready for dinner at the same time. We made good use of each other's cabins for showers. We felt no ship movement until the day we picked up speed (we were on the cruise that turned around to search for the missing woman), and even then we felt the rocking movement to be pleasant. Kudos to our room steward Angel for waiting for our late risers and for keeping our room very nice. We wrote him notes, and he always attended to our requests. Three suggestions: if you are pressed for space, ask the steward to remove the water and bottled sodas from the desk. If you want the twins pushed together, ask that they be made us as a queen. Otherwise (as with us), you'll get them pushed together, but made up individually. And be sure to bring a power strip. The bathroom outlet is only for shavers. And the room only has one outlet, and the kids had cell phone chargers, iPod chargers, and camera chargers. Of course, the towel animals are such a treat. The elephant is the best. Carnival asks you to consider reusing towels (which we did), but I think we got our sheets changed every day. So nice: those crisp sheets. The beds are extremely comfortable. I don't know if the mattresses are new, but from reading these boards, I knew to expect new comforters and pillows. They were beautiful - but white? How long will they stay lovely? One comforter already had a stain. The bathroom had a bowl of samples: razors (male and female), shampoo samples, small toothpaste, small bar of soap, and floss. We distributed the samples we would use to the medicine cabinet (very handy with 3 long shelves) and put the bowl in the cabin out of the way. The shower had dispensers for body wash and shampoo. Entertainment: We went to every show. I recommend getting to the Mikado Lounge early. You're asked not to save seats, but with 13 of us, we tried -- we just sat a little spaced out, so that when others of our party arrived (never late - we wouldn't be "saving" any seats even 20 minutes before a performance), we could squeeze together. The balcony has more obstructed views, so we tried for the first floor - although the seat backs are uncomfortable; they only come halfway up your back. If you want fuller support, aim for one of the circular booths. They are very comfortable - just further back. The two comedians were very funny, but if you have small children, beware that they (and even the cruise director) occasionally swear, even in the "family hour" shows. A few in our party went to the midnight R-rated comedy shows, and they had (according to my sources) enough vulgarity; coarse, suggestive jokes; and profanity to warrant the "R" rating. For myself, I just don't get that - I enjoyed both comedians and would have loved to see another show but not one that would definitely offend. Why not have two all-audience shows? The entertainer who balances everything in sight is pretty amazing, but the one-trick-pony did get a little old after awhile. Still, he was impressive. The two Las Vegas-style shows were just that: lots of singing, dancing, fancy costumes. As one of our group put it, be prepared for "thong city." Again, considering Carnival's reputation for family appeal, many of us in the group were surprised at the revealing costumes. Others in our group did not mind at all :-) The Latino singer is very good. His voice was showcased one evening. The last night's act -- a variety performer - was (I'm sorry to say) a little long in the tooth. His Bobby Darin style seemed out of place, but when he played the sax and harmonica -- wow. He would have done better to leave out the really lame jokes and the singing and just stayed with the two instruments. The lounges offered a variety of music in the evenings - some for dancing, some for listening (piano bar), some for laughing (Karaoke). The guest talent show was also enjoyable. Day-time shows were also fun. The Newlywed show is always fun -- a bit racy at times, yes, but still hilarious -- and they have been on all 3 of our cruises. Don't miss the Liar's Club; that was a riot. Pool side games are a bit cheesy - hairy chest contest - but they're also part of the "Fun Ship" atmosphere. More kudos to the assistant cruise directors for making even a silly game such fun - especially the hairy chest contest (really! Go - you won't be disappointed) and synchronized swimming. A couple of the game shows involved the entire audience, which I thought was a nice touch, rather than just watching 3 contestants on stage. On the last sea day, we went to country line dancing lessons. That was very fun, and I wish they had had more of those throughout the sea days. Actually, I would have liked to have had more activities that didn't involve games - short lectures perhaps, a galley tour, a cooking demonstration, that sort of thing. Even so, we all stayed as busy as we wanted throughout the day. The art auction was enjoyable. The cabins have 3 movies on each day, and twice during the week the Cole Port lounge showed a movie on their big screen. Past Carnival cruisers are invited to a party. Complimentary drinks were served, as they were at the Captain's Happy Hour before the first formal night. Happy hour was for everyone, and we were impressed that an assortment of free drinks was available. Finally, the cruise director Jorge is very funny. Formal Dining Room: We are not culinary snobs. That is not to say, however, that none of us doesn't know how to appreciate a good, well-presented meal. And in that, the dining room did not disappoint. Is it 5-star dining? No, but how could it be with hundreds of diners to serve at a time? Our service was good, and we were all pleased with the variety in dining room selections - plenty of beef, chicken dishes, vegetarian offerings, seafood galore (the grouper was great). We never hesitated to order several starters or main courses, and even when we did order, say, two entrees, we were never discouraged or made to feel like gluttons :-) Desserts were not as consistent. Stay away from the cakes -- all (even in Tiffany's) were dry, except (of course) for the cake con leche and the last evening's decadent chocolate cake. Well, anything chocolate was delicious for me. We felt a bit rushed with the 5:45 seating. Each evening the waiters danced or sang; I loved this. Incidentally, espresso and cappuccino were free each meal. Additionally, you can order something even if it does not appear on the menu. We were informed by our waiter a filet mignon was available each evening if nothing else appealed. One night, my daughter didn't find anything to her liking, but since a spaghetti dish was offered, she asked if she could get it with just a tomato sauce. Yes. I also requested fresh fruit as a starter a couple of nights and got that. Don't be afraid to ask. We ate breakfast in the formal dining room twice, once with very quick, attentive service. The second time was debarkation day. Service was not as quick, and they were out of many things. You might prefer Tiffany's, although a quick pass through there revealed much-reduced cereal box offerings, etc. Still, the dining room offers almost all the selections you can get in Tiffany's. We also ate formal lunch twice for a change and another chance for everyone to gather. Tiffany's: The buffet lines were never too long; just be prepared to get behind the one cruiser who needs to fish through each pancake or riffle through the bacon pan for that perfect slice. The omelet line naturally gets a little long because they are individually prepared. While it is not mentioned on the menu there, you can ask for Egg Beaters, and I also requested he not use any oil in my omelet pan (it had enough residual oil to allow for ease of cooking and flipping). Both requested were handled graciously. On one day I really enjoyed the pasta bar -- choose between two pastas, and have the cook prepare your own sauce with add-ins such as mushrooms, red pepper flakes, garlic, etc. That was the best Tiffany's meal I had. Unfortunately, it was not available every day. Each day, Tiffany's offered one ethnic buffet. Plenty of hot foods there and in the other, more traditional buffet. Back of Tiffany's, you can make a green salad with any number of ingredients or a fruit plate with all fresh fruit. Sandwiches are also available. The pizza station stays open 24/7, and I liked the goat cheese and mushroom pizza. Service was attentive here and cleanup fairly prompt. One day, a waitress brought a tray and loaded my dishes on it (I was balancing a couple of dishes in line) and would not let me take it to my table. On the last sea day, Tiffany's hosts a chocolate buffet -- don't miss that! Also offered were sugared nuts; the pistachio clusters are excellent. In case you stay hungry,. Tiffany's reopens each night at 11:30. One night was a Mexican buffet, another a French crepe bar. Midnight Buffet and Room Service: This was our third one, but they do not disappoint. Just amazing what these chefs can create and how decorative and inventive they are. Lines open at 11:15 for pictures. Only one in our group returned to eat, and she said it took an hour to get through the line. I was slightly hungry, though (must have been photographing all that food that did it), and ordered room service. That menu (find it in the leather portfolio in your stateroom) offers things not available anywhere else on the ship. I highly recommend the open-faced shrimp sandwich, the southwest wrap, and the refried beans/lettuce/cheese in a tortilla. Room service is free, but we tipped $1-2 each time. We ordered breakfast on port days; set out your menu selections the night before (again, find these in the same portfolio). Ports of Call: While Carnival sells iced bottled water and underwater cameras as you go ashore, I highly recommend taking your own empty water bottles in your luggage and filling up with ice and water in Tiffany's the morning of your excursions; wrap the bottle in a towel, and it will stay cold for a good while. I also recommend buying your underwater cameras before you go, or be prepared to pay double the cost. Progresso: Yes, it is hot. Still, do get off the ship, but take a hat, use sunscreen and take a water bottle. All but one of us went to Dzibulchaltoun (spelling?). Chichen Itza was a definite draw, but none of us wanted to spend 2-2.5 hours each way on a bus. From the Ports of Call board, I felt very prepared for this day's excursion, prepared enough to do it completely on our own (and save quite a bit of money over Carnival's tour). We decided to hire a taxi to get to the Dzib. ruins, return to the ship for anyone who was hot and tired, and then proceed to Merida. Once off the ship, you will pass through a handful of stores as you make your way to the 7-mile long pier and the free shuttle into Progresso. I thought we would have to take the shuttle and then get a taxi to the ruins. Not so. A taxi service is right there, with posted priced to various sites of interest. Right there was the price I knew to expect from the Progresso board. But we were a party of 12, so we asked how much for us all to go together: $80. That included the 25 minute or so drive there, the driver waiting for two hours, and the return trip. Along the way, the driver stopped for a photo op - a very old church. He did not, however, speak much English, and when I asked "how old," he obviously did not understand. When I asked "vieja," he seemed to understand but said he didn't know. Still, it was a nice gesture for him to stop. Once at Dzib., he offered to take us to Merida afterward for an additional $40. We said we would hold off on deciding. Lots of confusion at the entrance. You will pay $6, but nowhere in English is that posted, and the employees spoke very little English. If you want to take your camcorder, you'll pay just $3, but at first they said $30 -- turns out that was pesos. After we paid, it seemed we then needed wrist bands, and that took a while to sort out. We wasted a lot of time there -- well, it didn't seem like a lot of time, but remember, your driver is waiting just two hours I also knew from these boards to hire a guide, and this I also recommend. Explanatory signs are not very plentiful, and a guide will also tell you much more. While I read the price could be anywhere from $15-25, we were a party of 12, and when the first guide we approached said $25, we didn't try to bargain. He was very informative, but I recommend telling your guide you only have two hours (if that is the case). He spent a long time in the sculpture gardens and the museum -- very interesting, but we finally told him our time constraints, and he fast-tracked the rest of the museum. On our approach to the ruins, he drew in the sand to explain the astronomy applications and calendar use of the ruins. Very interesting. Then we walked and were allowed to climb the main ruin. After that, he explained more of the buildings on the acreage as we walked toward the cenote. By now it was sunny (we had enjoyed lovely overcast skies up to then) and muggy, and some of our party went back to the museum. At the cenote, our guide talked more. Plenty of people were swimming, but we didn't. I walked to the water's edge and was surprised how warm it was. I figured it would be cooler than that. Plenty of water lilies dot the surface, and it is shady and very pretty there. On our return walk, we all decided we were too hot to go on to Merida and do it any justice. I am sorry for that, for I was looking forward to the architecture. But walking around appreciating old buildings and the beautiful European style boulevard just wasn't going to happen -- the heat was just too intense. Sorry, hdawson!! But if we went again during cooler months, I would definitely work in both. Cozumel: This was our second time there. Our party of 13 split up at this port. Four went to Chankanaab for the two cousins to swim with dolphins. Taxi was $10 for the 4 (one way), and entry to the park is $12 (maybe $12.50). We arranged the dolphin swim online though to save money and to be able to stay at Chankanaab afterward (which you can't do if you go with Carnival). It's a pricey excursion but well worth it. When Dolphin Discovery did bot have the time slot we wanted, we used www.shoretrips.com, but other sites sell the same tour -- all for $125 for the interactive swim. A CD of the swim is available afterward; you do not have to watch it, but you are given the opportunity. The gift shop needs to work on speeding up the process of getting photos, paying, etc. While cash is needed elsewhere in Chankanaab, you can use a credit card here. Before their dolphin swim, this party of 4 chose to snuba. $53 each, and just the 4 of them were with their guide. Everyone loved this. In fact, my sister said she almost wished to cancel the dolphin swim and snuba more. My daughter concurred, but then she had swum with dolphins before. The guide explained the workings of snuba well and was good to point out fish, coral, etc. He took video and still pictures (both of which are included on his CD to purchase) and also took pictures using our cameras. My sister bought the CD and intends to print out the still shots. Evidently, all four felt their guide went beyond their expectations, for they tipped him $25. Even after their Belize excursions, these four ranked snuba highest. Now that she's home, my 17 year old daughter continues to say this was the highlight of the trip. Another foursome went to the two-reef snorkeling with Eagle Ray Divers. I'm sorry I cannot report on the cost of their taxi to the dive shop, but they were quite complimentary of Eagle Ray and very happy with the fish they saw. One of their party did a scuba dive at one of the reefs. You can book directly with Eagle Ray at their website. The rest of us went to Dzul Ha. As my family had snorkeled at Chankanaab on a previous cruise, we wanted something different, and again the Ports of Call board was extremely helpful. Many concurred that Dzul Ha offers the best off-shore snorkeling, and I can say it is better than Chankanaab, not that Chankanaab doesn't offer good snorkeling. As per the Ports of Call board suggestion, we downloaded coupons for free entrance to the Palmar Estate Beach Club (www.cozumelinsider.com) which is directly across the road from Dzul Ha. Our taxi for 5 was $12 (one way - and be sure to confirm before you get in the taxi), and the ride is but 10 minutes or so. When the driver didn't seem to recognize the name "Palmar Beach Club," I said it was between Fiesta Americana and El Presidente Hotels. When he still seemed puzzled, I said "Dzul Ha," and off we went. He pulled directly into Palmar's driveway, so I guess he knew all along or recognized it the closer we got. Palmar Estate is just that - an estate with a beautiful, large white stucco mansion. We inquired and were given a card explaining it is a 5 bedroom "condominium" available for $4,000/week. I don't think anyone was a tenant at the time - maybe in the off season? Anyway, we gave our coupons to a friendly employee who, with limited English, showed us the "shower" (a hose), the bathrooms (large and immaculate), and the food counter/menu. Chairs were already set up at their section of Dzul Ha beach, and the sign on that spit of beach says "Palmar Estate Beach Club." Since we arrived early, we had the place to ourselves - another party of 8 showed up two hours later, and shortly after that, many excursion boats (glass bottom and snorkeling) started coming close by. So I guess it is popular. Anyway, it was wonderfully secluded for a couple of hours, so I suggest going early. We enjoyed Palmar's food. After the first spurt of snorkeling, we had their chips/guacamole, salsa platter ($5). Be patient. He makes the guacamole while you wait! If you do not like onions, be sure to ask him to make the guacamole without, or you will have almost as many onions and avocado! The two salsas (one pico de gallo) were good, too, and the portions were large. After snorkeling again, we ordered chicken taco platters ($7) and bottled water (small, $2 -- soda cans were also $2). Again, good portions. While the tacos were just tortillas with shredded chicken (tasty but needing salt and spice or salsa, to our tastes), they did come with - again - freshly made guacamole and salsas. Other items were on the menu: quesadillas, even a hot dog. Aside from the slightly overpriced drinks, I thought the prices were reasonable and the portions generous. Now for the snorkeling: we saw plenty of colorful fish, and if you swim further out, lots of coral. Shore snorkeling is adequate, but truly, go out further for more variety. Just be prepared for a strong current. Foolishly, I did not rent fins (we had our own snorkels and masks). If you are not a strong swimmer (floating is extremely easy, so a vest is not mandatory), rent the fins. From the Ports of Call board, I had gotten the notion that if you drift with the current (as I did, and I was seeing great "stuff"), then just get out at Fiesta Americana's shore line and walk along the street back to Palmar's "beach." Well, easier said than done. While the hotel looks close, when you're tired, it starts to look pretty far. I started swimming closer to shore and lost the current, which was good and bad. Now I had to actually swim, not just drift, to get anywhere, and I got very tired. I knew I could not make it to Fiesta Amer., and while I wasn't exactly panicking, I was not comfortable. I was very close to shore, and the waves were breaking and splashing, so a look underwater revealed I would have a difficult time getting ashore there, so I continued to swim toward F.A. Well, soon I realized I would just have to risk scraped knees or whatever, and so I found a small ledge with not too much outcropping of rocks/coral under the water's surface, and I struggled but pulled myself out of the water. I hesitate to admit I stepped on some coral -- maybe it was just rocks at that point, I hope - to boost myself up and out. I then walked through some high grass (a large iguana started me by walking in front of my path) and followed the road back. I was reckless in not snorkeling with anyone else in our party, but I had gotten out to retrieve my camera, and when I returned to the water, my husband was too far away to catch up to. So, my advice -- do not snorkel alone (boy, was I foolish and had my party worried about me), and get those fins! Aside from that, you will not be disappointed in the abundance of fish and coral. Our return taxi was $7 for 3, as two others had returned earlier to shop. Make sure to indicate exactly the pier you want. We said "downtown pier," which is exactly what the Carnival rep told me when we got off the ship, and the driver took us to the downtown shopping area. Since he had to turn around when we pointed to our ship, we gave him an extra dollar. The other two in our party returned for $5. Be prepared to stand on the street to hail a cab from Palmar - they do not call one for you. But cabs frequent the street - it's just when you're hot and ready to go that not a one seems to appear! Belize: Again, we experienced three different excursions. Five went with Coral Breeze to snorkel, scuba dive, and fly fish. Coral Breeze gets excellent write-ups on the Ports of Call board, so check them out over there. Our party highly agrees with that estimation. This party had to get tender tickets, and my sister-in-law says just to be patient. If you think you're in a line to get a ticket, you probably will be annoyed at those who rush the stage to get tickets when someone does show up. She went at 8:15, and while she was told everyone in her party had to be present, she soon realized that wasn't true - just ask for the number of tickets you need. She said everyone around her got tickets for the first tender, and waiting in that line was the most tedious. Coral Breeze was waiting for them at the Wet Lizard right at the pier. They boated to Caye Caulker to drop off lunch orders as well as the scuba diver and fly fisherman. Both had almost private tours. High winds made fly fishing very difficult, unfortunately. The scuba diving was very good, "awesome" in my 16 year old nephew's words. Be prepared to go in a small boat and forge through potentially high waves to get to the scuba site, but apparently it is worth it. They go to the edge of the reef. The rest dropped off lunch orders and went to snorkel - excellent -- and then to the rays -- also an amazing experience. Coral Breeze was very attentive to my 87-year old mother-in-law, and she got her own private guide! Four others went on the canopy tour. While this is well done -- sightseeing info. along the 1-1.5 hour drive, securely harnessed, etc. -- and the ziplines are exhilarating, this party saw no birds or animals but did marvel at the beauty of the jungle. If you want to take pictures, get in front of the other members of your party so you can stand on the platform and snap away as they come in for a landing. No professional photographers or videographers are there (imagine that). While this is definitely a unique experience, none in the group thought it was worth the $98 (we went through Carnival as I couldn't find any private operators who had been used by Cruise Critic members), and 3 wished they had snuba-ed again instead. The whole excursion lasts 5 hours or so, with a lot of waiting while others are tethered and put on the zipline. Take snacks as you will not be given anything but water and maybe fruit juice (I forgot to ask them). Also, take some money with you -- we assumed since it was a Carnival excursion (so they were picked up from the ship and did not have to tender with the masses), they would be brought back directly to the ship for security reasons. Not so - they are left at the pier. So, you can shop there before you head back to the ship. Only one in our party left with any money at all, so she became an ATM as well as an aunt. The rest of us, myself included, went on Carnival's Goff's Caye snorkeling excursion. We met in one of the lounges, and our excursion boat picked us up right at the ship, which is a plus. We considered trying to get to Goff's Caye on our own, but we worried that we wouldn't figure out the water taxi well enough. I'm sure, though, you could save some money. We paid $65 each, and I think the water taxi is $17.50 (one way?). The excursion boat held 40-50 people, and while we motored to the reef, the guides talked a little, passed around laminated cards with fish, coral, and plant life we could expect to see (well, might see), and fitted us with fins. Here I did use fins :-) We all had to don a life vest, too, although they said we did not have to inflate them unless we wanted. They showed how to do that as well as how to deflate. Pay attention to how to tighten the crotch strap -- when they say it should feel like a "wedgie," believe them! Mine wasn't tight enough, and I was constantly trying to get the vest away from my neck. We spent an hour easily at the reef. Three guides were in the water with us, and we were told to periodically lift our heads and stay close to at least one guide. I recommend doing this - while we could always see a guide, I learned later that the guides dove and pointed out fish, coral, etc. I am sorry I missed that. This time, I stayed close -- hand-in-hand -- to my husband! We saw amazing fish - the deeply blue fish was our favorite - and lots of coral heads. Then we got back in the boat and went to the tiny Goff's Caye, and I mean tiny. You can walk tip to tip in a few minutes. But it is quite picturesque -- palm trees and white sand. There are two portapotties, but I didn't use them. There is a small shack to buy snacks and drinks - I saw a menu (they grill lobsters and chicken kabobs, too, which smelled wonderful) but no prices. We drank the provided water and really weren't hungry - we'd be back at the ship at 12:30 anyway. I did not like the island part of this excursion. Yes, you can snorkel from shore, but you have to wade through a lot of seagrass. It is very shallow, and I did snorkel -- saw brain coral and some fish, so it wasn't a complete waste. If you just want to relax on a white sand beach, then this would be good. Here is what I wished I had done: 1) When we had to leave the reef, I should have asked if some of could stay in the water with one of the guides (or be brought back after dropping others off at the island), and 2) Once at the island, I should have asked one of the guides where to go snorkeling off the little island. I do recommend going off the side the boats dock on; I saw more fish that way. Maybe then a guide would have taken some of us out. For $65, I wanted two hours of reef snorkeling, and I only got an hour. Do walk around the island, and take in all the views of the gorgeous Belizean water -- the shades of blue, aqua, turquoise are breathtaking. Once back on Elation, we ate showered, ate lunch, and took a tender to the pier. Within the Tourism Village are many, many shops, and we stayed there, so I can't say what it is like outside that walled compound although my husband did go into a courtyard (with more shops/stalls) and could hear the people on the other side calling for business, saying they needed money for food, etc. He found that fascinating. Anyway, with the Village, the first shops you come to are outdoors, and they will barter with you, and we found the best prices there, too. I got great key chains for $2 (no bartering) which I saw for $3 further into the Village. I got a Mayan calendar plaque whittled down from $15 to $10 -- and they probably still made money, of course!! Be sure to ask for change in American dollars. The inside, air conditioned stores had higher prices, but I didn't see anything I needed to bargain on. My sweet husband, though, persuaded me to get the jade necklace I was eyeing at the Belize Museum store. It is a replica of a Mayan museum piece. I have no idea if I got a good price, although I am convinced I bought real jade. No bartering here, not that I even tried. They took a credit card, but I'm not sure how many of the stores do. Debarkation: Since our cruise was the one with the rescue mission, we were not into port until 8:30. Then, from what I understand, the FBI came aboard. We were the 5th group to be called (did not attempt self-debarkation) -- well, 7th if you count self-debarking guests as well as special needs guests -- and didn't get off until 11 a.m. We just sat in chairs by the pool. We enjoyed our cruise very much, and while it may not be as elegant as Celebrity or offer as many varied daily activities, we would still recommend the ship and itinerary. Read Less
Sail Date June 2005
We traveled on the Carnival Elation the week of June 26, 2005. Ports of call were Progresso, Cozumel and Belize. We had a group of 40 for my daughter's graduation, and a great time was had by all. I will break down the days and port ... Read More
We traveled on the Carnival Elation the week of June 26, 2005. Ports of call were Progresso, Cozumel and Belize. We had a group of 40 for my daughter's graduation, and a great time was had by all. I will break down the days and port excursions we went on. Day 1 was Sunday, leaving Galveston. We had no problems getting on board. It took about 1 hour after arriving at the terminal to get our room, where we dumped our carry on bags and went to find the grub. Tiffany's was in full swing, and we had a nice lunch. The first evening was spent getting to know the ship and dumping a few coins in the casino. Day 2 was a day at sea. Lots of activities around the Lido pool, and we camped out at one spot by the hot tub. Our waiter was John, who knew our names in 10 minutes and never forgot them the whole trip! We never had to show him our cards again, as he memorized those card numbers as well. I was impressed. This was the first formal night at dinner and everyone was dressed to the nines. Dinner was great. Our head waiter was Elaina from Bulgaria. She had a cute accent and was terrific. Day 3 we docked at Progresso. A shuttle bus took us down the five mile long pier (no kidding) into town. We didn't have an excursion planned here, just went to the beach. We bought some Cuban cigars dirt cheap and took a few back to the boat. We went to a little bar across the street from the beach and had a few beers with some of the best chips and pica de gallo (sp?)I ever had. Lots of souvenirs in this port. The prices were the best here. Don't wait until you get to Cozumel or Belize to buy them. Go ahead and spend the money, you won't regret it. Day 4 was Cozumel, We went on the Maria del Mar Snuba and Snorkel trip. The snuba was not that big a deal, as we only got down about 15 feet, and the view wasn't much different from just floating on the surface with a snorkel. In hindsite, I would save the money and just do the snorkel trip. We booked these trips on line, not from the ship excursions. It was half the price and the same thing. Having been to Cozumel before, I was disappointed that we didn't snorkel Palancar reef, or Chankanaab. These are the two hot spots, and you should book a trip to see these places. We had a great time though. After being in the water, we went to Senior Frogs for an afternoon party. It didn't not disappoint. Drinks were a little high, but we ARE on vacation, so what the heck. A great time was had in Cozumel. Day 5 in Belize. There is no dock, so we had to tender from about 6 miles out. All went smoothly, after little wait in the lounge till our number was called. We booked another trip on line here, with A-1 tours (Reggie). We went cave tubing and it was terrific. The hike through the jungle was pretty easy, but we had one large lady who had to stop and go back. The literature says activity level was three stick men. and it was. Old people and very fat people should not do this. Other than that, we floated on tubes down a crystal clear river thru caves. Never seen anything like it. Highly recommended. Guides were great, and gave us a little tour of the city on the way back. Tip these guys, they were worth it. Again, we saved a lot of money booking off the ship, as prices were half of what the ship charged. Day 6 was another day at sea. Activities all day around the pool, and in the lounge. This night was filet mignon in the dining room, and it was the best I ever had. (No kidding) I asked for it again the next night. It was a good night in the casino, as I slayed the craps table for about $800. Day 7 was pretty much a repeat of day 6, except you knew in the back of your mind that your wonderful trip was about over. Had a big party by the casino bar to toast our wonderful experience with all of our 40 guests. The next morning all went smoothly to get off the ship, and we back in our car coming home by 10:30 Sunday morning. A little about the ship itself. I was concerned about the condition after reading some of the letters and reviews. I found nothing wrong. The wear spots on the carpet were not there as some had said, (maybe it has been replaced), and they were bringing us brand new mattresses on the first day. The rooms were comfortable and the bathrooms were larger than the Holland America ship I was on a few years ago. A few of us had balconies, and although small, they were nice. The staff overall was very friendly, but in the casino, they could have been a little nicer. They did piss me off a couple of times, griping about the way you held the dice, or if the dice left the table, they frowned upon it. This was about the only complaint I had on the whole ship. The public areas were spotless, and the Tiffany restaurant never had a line more than maybe ten people at the omelette station. Took about five minutes to get your eggs. I recommend breakfast in the dining room. It was much better. There was a ton of kids on this ship, so if that bothers you, book during the school year. Some were a little rowdy at times, but I never really had a problem with them. Overall, the trip was great, and we had no complaints from anyone in our group. Looking forward to my next cruise. As far as my rating, I never give the best rating as that would be perfect, so I am giving this rating because it is fair and we had such a great time. Read Less
Sail Date June 2005
My daughter and I were on the Elation May 1-8. She's 17 (K)and I'm 35, her first cruise, my second. We drove from Missouri overnight and parked the car with EZcruiseparking.com. $45 for the whole week and they shuttled us right ... Read More
My daughter and I were on the Elation May 1-8. She's 17 (K)and I'm 35, her first cruise, my second. We drove from Missouri overnight and parked the car with EZcruiseparking.com. $45 for the whole week and they shuttled us right to the door, I would recommend them! I'll break this down into days. May 1: Boarded the ship about 1 pm with no problems, the only lines we had were to have our picture taken! We got on board, and went straight to our cabin. I needed to put a cash deposit for my S/S card, and the line seemed long, but it moved pretty fast. Everyone was so nice and even though our cabin wasn't quite ready, our steward let us store our stuff in the room. Napped right through our late seating but met new friends in Duke's piano bar (pretty smoky, and I'm a smoker!) and then into the disco later. Good music and a wide variety of people. May 2: Day at Sea. Slept in late and headed up on deck around 1. We found deck chairs with no problem, but we did have to move to the upper deck. Plenty of waitstaff and the entertainment was pretty good. Formal night was nice, lobster and prime rib were excellent! May 3: Progresso. The only port we didn't have a planned excursion. Took the free shuttle off the pier, no problems. They dropped us off in town about 3 blocks from the beach in a market area. Nice stuff and fairly cheap. K bought a sterling choker necklace for $15. Walked to the beach and rented a jet-ski for $30/30 minutes-what a blast! Laid in the sun for awhile and headed to a cafe (name?) across the street. Best margarita I ever had! 2 margs, 2 Corona, 2 quesadillas with fresh pico, guac, and cream: $16. Walked back to shuttle and back on ship. May 4: Cozumel. Shore-snorkel and beach break with Island Marketing, $40/pp. Cab ride from Punta Lagosta to Uvas Beach Club, $10. Very nice! Private snorkel guide, 2-hour open bar and fajita lunch. Great day...Back on ship by 4:30 to nap! May 5: Belize. Tendered off around 10, met with guide for Xtream Cave Tubing with Island Marketing, $60/pp. They were great! 2 caves, air conditioned shuttle and we arrived after the Carnival groups that paid $100/pp for only 1 cave. Lunch there was fantastic, BBQ chicken, tons of extras and dessert for $5/pp. We were there during dry season so the water was down, but there we no bugs at all. About 20 of us in the group with 2 guides. Great trip! May 6: Day at Sea. Decided we needed to do a little room maintenance after we slept in. Nice quiet day. May 7: Day at Sea. Back up by the pool after sleeping in. Did some last minute shopping, much better deals than the first days. Another formal night and excellent dinner. Got packed and ready to go. Didn't party too much since we had to get up early and drive home. May 8: Back in Galveston. Up by 7, off the ship by 9:30, we were some of the first to debark so our experience was really good. Comments: 1. My daughter had a good time b/c she found some kids her own age, but there really wasn't as much for her to do as I thought there would be. The "teen" functions were more geared towards the 13-16 age group and they were a little immature for her, but then she was too young to be in the disco after 11 and couldn't gamble or anything. 2. I saw some signs of wear on the stairwells and such, but overall, the ship was in really good condition and I have to say the staff was excellent. Very attentive, courteous and helpful. 3. We were on the lowest deck towards aft, but I noticed very little noise, either ship or from other cabins. There was a lot of rocking motion the first night, but smooth the rest of the trip. 4. The only real complaint I have is about tendering off in Belize. Of course, they let the Carnival excursions off first, but they had everyone else meet in the Cole Porter Lounge. They do this every week, but everything seemed so disorganized. Our private excursion group was to meet at 9, but we didn't get off the ship until around 10 and were concerned we'd miss our trip. We were issued a number to get off the boat, but everyone was standing in line and even though we were issued a "6" sticker, everyone was just getting to the tenders as fast as they could. Didn't spoil our trip any, but the whole process could've been done better. 5. K and I missed dinner the first night and met our dinner mate on formal night. Apparently, the man at our table (his 2nd week on board) had requested that single women be assigned to his table, and he acted rather inappropriately to myself and my daughter. We skipped dinner on the 3rd and 4th nights until someone suggested that we ask to change tables. The maitre d' was very accommodating with our request and I really appreciated that. Great service! 6. Overall, a great trip, but there were very few "single" people to hang out with that weren't trying to "hook-up." Certainly this cruise catered more to couples, but I have a man at home and wasn't trying to find a date, so I did spend quite a bit of time alone. I did entertain myself pretty well and I met some awesome people on the ship. Having a cruise port within driving distance is very nice, there were a lot of Texans on board and most of the passengers that I met were either from TX or somewhere in the midwest. Read Less
Sail Date May 2005
We sailed the Elation on 5/1/05. We cannot say enough good things about this trip. We spent Saturday night before the trip at Holiday Inn on the Beach. Great hotel and great room. We chose this hotel so we could leave our car there and be ... Read More
We sailed the Elation on 5/1/05. We cannot say enough good things about this trip. We spent Saturday night before the trip at Holiday Inn on the Beach. Great hotel and great room. We chose this hotel so we could leave our car there and be shuttled back and forth to the port. However, when we arrived, the earliest shuttle was at 12:30 so we opted for a cab. We arrived at the cruise terminal at 11:15am ($11 cab fare). We were immediately escorted to the Skipper's Club check in . We were the only people there at the time checking in to Skipper's club so it was very quick and painless. We were then escorted to a separate waiting area and boarded the ship around 11:45am after those with special needs and a wedding party. We could not help ourselves and went straight to our room. We were pleasantly surprised to find our room ready for us. This is only our second cruise and our first cruise was in 1998. We had read a lot of negative reviews about the ship and I live by the saying that a cruise is only what you make it. Our room was a great size for the two of us. Our balcony was actually larger than I expected after reading other reviews. We were toward the front of the ship so the entire cruise was very quiet. Never even heard a tv or hairdryer from the rooms next door. We spent the rest of the day exploring the ship and attended the meet and greet set up to meet our Cruise Critic friends. We requested 6:15 dining and were assigned 8pm. We were not pleased with this b/c we enjoy the night life and would prefer to eat as early as possible. We went to the location noted in the Capers to change our seating time and were told to go to 8pm dinner this night and would have new dinner assignment placed under our door the next morning. We decided to skip dinner the first night b/c we did not want to meet new people and then leave. We had dinner at Tiffany's and then spent the rest of the night meeting new people, losing money in the casino and dancing. Monday was a fun day at sea and it was not so fun after too many cocktails but once that wore off we enjoyed spending the day in the sun, shopping onboard, etc. We received a card under our door on Monday morning stating that Carnival was unable to meet our request for a change in dining time so we went to formal night at 8pm and tried to make the best of it the rest of the trip (Although it resulted in a lot of LATE nights considering dinner was not over until 10 or 10:30 every night). We truly enjoyed our table mates. We were seated at a table of 8. All were married couples somewhat around our age (32). We are from Austin and the other couples were from San Antonio, Dallas and Houston. Tuesday we did the 4 hour Mayan Ruin tour. the only thing I will say about this is "IT WAS HOT". My husband loved the tour and enjoyed every minute of it, I however am not as interested in this type of excursion. We did not see much of Progresso but what we did see convinced me that we did not miss much by not going into town to shop, etc. On our trip back to the pier we passed the spot where they were having the Corona Beach Break and that looked like a lot of fun. On Wednesday morning we received a notice that our Cozumel excursion had been changed from 8:45 to 1:00pm. We did the Hideaway Beach and Boat tour. This excursion was a lot of fun. They gave each couple their own speedboat and we had to follow in line but drove the boats for about 45 minutes or so to a secluded island and spent about 1 1/2 hours there playing in the beautiful water. They also had a Mexican fiesta lunch available (included in the price). There is no alcohol on this excursion due to liability with driving the boat. We then drove the boats back to the starting location and the trip back was extremely rough in the open seas. The water did look like bathtub water in the open seas. It was beautiful. Our favorite location was Belize. We decided to do the Alta Hun and River Wallace excursion. The ruins were much prettier than what we saw in Progresso. We absolutely love the River Wallace tour thru the jungle. We saw a lot of wild animals like monkeys, manatees, iguanas, etc. It was truly a beautiful tour. The rest of the trip was fun days at seas and we enjoyed going to the shows, games, etc. Disembarkation was very fast for us. I have read many times that you do not get any special privileges upon disembarkment but that is not what we experienced. They called for everyone disembarking thru self assist at 7:45am. Then the called orange tags (us) which included, special needs and cat 11 and cat 12 suites. We were off the ship by 8:45am. We found our luggage right away and it was all together (guess we just got lucky). We took a cab back to the hotel and headed home. General consensus: Embarkation- wonderful and easy Cabin- exceeded our expectations and will NEVER cruise without a balcony again. Food- Great food and service in the dining room. Tiffany's always seemed very crowded during peak hours. Pizza is great. Room service has selective menu but good. Ordered express breakfast twice in room and very prompt service. Ship- A little difficult to navigate at times and did show some wear and tear. Certainly did not effect our great trip! We were extremely pleased with our overall experience with Carnival and would travel Carnival again in the future. Read Less
Sail Date May 2005
My wife and I have been married for almost 10 years. This was our late honeymoon and our 1st cruise. We flew from Tulsa, OK to Houston, TX, on Continental Airlines(booked through the cruise line). Our ride was suppose to be only 1hr 15min. ... Read More
My wife and I have been married for almost 10 years. This was our late honeymoon and our 1st cruise. We flew from Tulsa, OK to Houston, TX, on Continental Airlines(booked through the cruise line). Our ride was suppose to be only 1hr 15min. Ended up over 3 hours. A storm popped up and we had to fly around it. When we did we did not have enough fuel to make it to Houston so we landed in Corpus Christi to refuel. After landing in Houston we took the shuttle to Galveston. Embarkation - Very smooth we arrived at 2:30 pm and were eating at Tiffany's by 3:00 pm. It was cloudy since the storm was moving in, but did not rain on us. We set sail around 4:30 pm. About 11:00 pm a passenger had a stroke and fell down some stairs. We had to return to Galveston so he could get medical treatment. Lucky for the passenger a doctor on vacation was within earshot of the man when he fell. Last I heard he was do OK. 1st Day at Sea - Sea were a little rough. I think we were going Mach Speed to make up for our return trip to Galveston. It was beautiful outside. We just relaxed. 1st Formal Night. Take lots of pictures. Progresso - Primitive port. Not much here. Do not do the Corona Beach Break. We did not and sat on the same beach. We took the free shuttle to town. $1 Corona and Sol Beer. Ate at La Saint Bonnet(sp?). The food was great. Shopping here is cheap. Cozumel - We went on the Passion Island Excursion. It was worth every penny. Open bar, free food(after you pay for excursion) and as much sun as you can take. About 5 hours all together. after that we shopped in port and went to Carlos and Charlie's. It was everything I expected and more. Just remember what time is last boarding on the ship. I heard some people got left behind here. Belize - Rainy day. We snorkeled at Goff's Caye. Loved it. Great for beginner snorkelers. I would recommend to do a ship excursion here. You have to take a tender to shore and the tenders do not leave until after all the ship's excursions are gone. Also if you just want to go to port you will get a number and when you number is called you will catch your tender but only after the number is called. That stops around 11 and you can take any tender you want. Belize looked very poor and we were advised by some other passengers to just stay at the cruise terminal. I heard others say afterwards they did not feel comfortable when they went into the city. Shopping in the cruise terminal is very expensive and they were not willing to barter for a better price. 2nd day at sea - Just relaxed until dinner. 2nd Formal night. 3rd day at sea - Same Debarkation - Went very smooth until we got to the shuttle bus. The Cruise ran shuttle that is. The Driver was rude, we waited over an hour after the bus was loaded. He finally came on and said that a luggage compartment would not lock any way we made it to the airport and flew back to Tulsa, OK. the airline left 5 bags in houston of course one was mine. they did bring it to my house over 2 hours away that night. I was happy about that. Overall our cruise was great. We had good table mates and ate in the dining room all but one nights(due to our head waiter Paulbert and his assistant, Zina). The food was great in the dining room and Average at Tiffany's. I would cruise again but not on a 7 day with only three ports. I was kind of bored the last day. My wife wasn't though she laid out all day by the pool. I would recommend this to anyone that is starting out at cruising. Read Less
Sail Date May 2005
This was our 3rd cruise, 1st on Carnival. We had a fantastic cruise overall. We drove in Saturday and stayed at the Tremont House. We had made reservations 8 months in advance so we were able to get one night for an extremely low rate. ... Read More
This was our 3rd cruise, 1st on Carnival. We had a fantastic cruise overall. We drove in Saturday and stayed at the Tremont House. We had made reservations 8 months in advance so we were able to get one night for an extremely low rate. The Tremont is a beautiful Victorian style hotel and the rooms were gorgeous. They were done in Black and White, had a sitting area and two queen beds. Service was exceptional. Sunday AM we got up and drove to the parking area and were on the ship by noon. We purchased our soft drink cards and did some exploring and were in our room by 1 p.m.. Rooms: We were in a CAT12 suite. The balcony was great and the room was exceptional. Very tastefully done. Plenty of space. My wife and kids really liked the large bathroom with whirlpool tub. We didn't see much of the room steward, but the room was kept very clean and the towel 'characters' each night were something to look forward to. Sea Day 1 - It was stormy and rainy, but the ship was extremely smooth, only occasionally felt some rocking. Having the balcony really helped with this day as we could sit outside, stay dry and watch the sea and the rain when were weren't running around inside the ship. Progresso: We really liked Progresso. We didn't book a tour through the ship, but got off and went into town. Once there we found a gentleman offering city tours for 10.00 per person. It left at 11:00, so while we were waiting we did some shopping. On the tour, we drove around the city for a bit, then out to some ruins (we got out and walked around them while he explained), then stopped at several spots to witness the pink flamingos in their sanctuary. Lastly we drove through a small fishing village and back to Progresso. We saw some beautiful homes and the tour was about 2 1/2 hours. Really a bargain. Cozumel: We did the swim with the dolphins tour (booked in advance through Carnival). It was well worth the money. We actually got to get in the water and the dolphins swam around us and with us. It was truly memorable and the kids favorite thing we did. Belize: We just shopped in the port area in Belize. We did venture out into town on our own, and looked at some things (Pirate museum), but the port area is beautiful and will be even better as it grows. Sea Days 2 & 3: Had a great time exploring and attending the shows, bingo, swimming, and the water slide. There are tons of activities always going on and everyone found something to their liking. Food: I thought the food was really good. We did the buffet and omelette station in the mornings, and switched between the buffet and grill for lunches. The dining room food was really good (lots of seafood choices - yeah!!) and always a steak or whatever. The 24 hour pizza and ice cream were big hits also. As was the room service for a late night snack or two. The waiters in the dining room were SUPERB. We grew really fond of them. Entertainment: The shows done by the ship's dancers and singers were really good. They must have a HUGE budget for costumes because no expense was spared. They had two comedians and they were both excellent. The only down side on the entertainment was Wednesday night (I think it was Wed) - they had a 'country' night and the 'headliner' was a guy who was extremely stuck on himself and not funny at all - I'm sure he was fairly talented, but he was so obnoxious that I could have cared less about him and he was the weak spot in cruise. I thought the entertainment overall was well above average. Not many pax participated in the guest talent show, but it was still good. The 'Elation Idol' was really fun. There were some talented passengers on the ship this week. Debarkation: We were up and off the ship by 8:30. The entire cruise was a blast!! The ship never felt crowded at all. There was some noise in the halls at night, but nothing 'continuous'. Basically kids playing, etc. Hey, it's a ship after all. We will definitely cruise on the Elation again. Overall impression of the ship: Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. It was clean, the crew were great, and it was well organized. The entire ship sparkled. The atrium is not to be missed. I heard a few people complaining (not sure what it was about), but you get what you expect AND what you create for yourself, I think. If you want to have a great time you will. We really hated getting off on Sunday and will definitely be on the Elation again. Read Less
Sail Date May 2005
Embarkation - We arrived early (@12:45) and were surprised to be allowed to board. Virtually no lines, great instruction. The crew members were everywhere and most were ready to answer questions if you just looked like you had one! They ... Read More
Embarkation - We arrived early (@12:45) and were surprised to be allowed to board. Virtually no lines, great instruction. The crew members were everywhere and most were ready to answer questions if you just looked like you had one! They were so helpful. They encouraged us to go check our our room and then go to Tiffany's and eat. The ship is beautiful. The ship is large enough to offer solitude for those who aren't wanting to be around lots of people, but has plenty of high energy places and activities for those who are wanting to party. The only time the ship felt crowded was in Tiffany's upon boarding, but even then service was wonderful, food great, and plenty of tables available. Main Dining Room - Beginning of week wonderful food, outstanding service. The night of the Midnight gala buffet (which was also the 2nd formal night) service was awful. We chose not to eat in the Main dining room on the last night. Formal did mean formal, and most everyone was in formal wear. The menu was varied and offered something for all tastes. Ports of Call: Progreso - A simple place. Buses took us from the ship to the town square. From there we took a $2 bus tour of the city. There are people all over trying to take you on excursions. We found a taxi van to take 6 of us to Dzibilchaltun Mayan Ruins for $65(total), and they would wait for us and return us to the square. They did not ask for our money until we returned. These are great ruins and only a 20 minute ride. Upon returning we walked the 2 blocks to Corona beach, which was surprisingly beautiful. Shopping in Progreso was very good. Cozumel - Bustling place. We took 2 taxis ($8) to Palmar Estate Beach Club to snorkel at Dzul Ha. Incredible snorkeling. This is the place to go if you want quiet, beautiful solitude. This was a dream come true for us! (If you need to be entertained, want music and toys - - do not go here.) Belize - We took a risk. Walked to the Water Taxi (just a few blocks away) and took a water taxi to Caye Caulker ($17.50 RT). This was an hour long tight as sardine ride. Found someone to take as snorkeling and to Shark Ray Alley ($17.50 each) - if you do this, make sure you do not plan on taking the last water taxi back, just in case . . . Room Steward - His service was superb, but he wasn't a people person and came off a little snippy, at times. Fitness room/Recreation/Entertainment- Good equipment in gym, towels, showers, jacuzzis, only the 1st morning was it a little busy, after that, no waiting. There were many large group activities, but if you want to do something on your own there were really not many choices (pool, ping pong, basketball, library, casino). Entertainment was a little Six Flags feeling. Dining - Tiffany's good choices, salad bar, fruit bar, ice cream, pizza, deli. Service most days was great. Other than first day, plenty of tables open. Value for price - Depends on the type of vacations your family generally takes - - for us this wasn't a great value. ENJOY! Read Less
Sail Date May 2005
Drove from St. Louis to Galveston (2 days-fun in the car and lots of time for family bonding!) Arrived in Galveston on Saturday evening. Checked in to the new La Quinta and spent a relaxing evening walking along the water and checking out ... Read More
Drove from St. Louis to Galveston (2 days-fun in the car and lots of time for family bonding!) Arrived in Galveston on Saturday evening. Checked in to the new La Quinta and spent a relaxing evening walking along the water and checking out the sidewalk performers. Ate a 9:00 dinner at Rainforest Cafe (loved this even though we waited an hour and a half to finally get a table.) EMBARKATION: Checked out of the hotel and decided to park at the pier terminal ($70.00 for the week) instead of using the free parking offer at the La Quinta. The cab ride would have been $20+ each way to get back to the terminal after DH dropped off all of us and the bags curbside and then the return upon arrival, not to mention the time factor that would have been added. The entire process after baggage was checked and documents reviewed took less than an hour. We were on board by noon and went to see if our rooms were ready. They were still being cleaned so went to grab lunch at Tiffany's on the Lido deck. Awesome buffet and loved being at the back of the boat to bid farewell to Galveston. Casual clothes for first night in the dining room. Met a nice family of four from Phoenix with a teen daughter that hit it off with our daughter. FIRST FUN DAY AT SEA: Not too fun-rained most of the day. The kids watched movies in their room and hung out at the small arcade. 19-year-old son started a routine of movie watching and did little else during the rest of the cruise unless it involved shore excursions or pizza eating. He is very shy and did not find many activities on board that appealed to him. 16-year-old daughter hit the jackpot with friends, as there were several high school groups booked on this cruise. Had to book time with her the rest of the vacation. 9 year old son went to Camp Carnival for several hours on this first day but was disappointed that the Play Station games were all rated "E" much to my delight. SECOND DAY: PROGRESSO -- Slept in and rode the free bus into town. Listened to the descriptions of the different excursions offered on the bus and attempted to talk family into going to a beach club for $30 pp-so glad we didn't. Walked two blocks to the public beach and were offered a table under a palapa and several lounge chairs on the beach. We tipped the gentleman $10 and then he went to get Coronas and cokes for our family. Spent a nice day swimming and lounging. We were offered everything from local vendors from belts, purses, cigars, jewelry, tacos and seashells and more. "No thank you" was used more that day than anytime in my life. Everyone respected the no and moved on. My daughter bought two belts, a necklace and a ring for $12. Went back to the ship for a shower and a nap and then started getting ready for formal night and pictures. I'm one of those people that enjoy the picture taking and the many backgrounds offered. At $20 for an 8X10 it adds up but it would be costly if we went to a studio and had professional pictures taken too. I maxed out my $200 picture limit for sure. Went to the Captain's Party in the evening and had several drinks gratis. The kids were able to order soda for free as well as I did not purchase the soda cards. THIRD DAY: COZUMEL --- Ordered room service for breakfast and up by 6:00. We love Cozumel and always have a great time. We had booked the excursion to Nachi Cocom Beach Club in advance. It was everything everyone had said on Cruise Critic and more. My daughter and I booked a private snorkel tour and I can tell you this was the most amazing time I have ever had. The boat set anchor off the coast of Chankanaab Park and we were able to snorkel the large reef and a smaller one as well. I was never able to get the breathing down when I had snorkeled before and everything just came together this time. Our guide Rudy took many pictures of us and also would bring up sea life to see up close including a huge starfish, sea cucumber and a giant conch shell. The excursion cost $60 for the two of us and was over an hour and half long. My husband and I than decided to get massages on the beach ($50 for both) for 30 minutes. All drinks and a buffet lunch were included with this excursion and there is a wonderful pool, hot tub and swim up bar too. The beach water was not clear on the day we went and if you are planning to snorkel here you would definitely need to go off shore. The staff was very friendly and we stayed from 9:00 to 4:45. The cab each way for our family of five was $15 each way. There was no problem getting back to the ship by 5:15. I would recommend this beach club to anyone who would enjoy a relaxing day at the beach with full amenities. You can also get a cab to this beach club and pay for drinks and food as you go. Went back to the boat and prepared for the Returning Guest Party. Once again all drinks gratis. Learned that Carnival is building a ship called the Pinnacle, which will be three times the size of the Elation! FOURTH DAY: BELIZE CITY -- We found out the cave tubing tour was $93 pp through Carnival when we got onboard. We decided to book with Coral Breeze Tours while on board and although the Internet was pricey ($3.95 to activate an account and .50 per minute after this) we were able to book at $59 pp and had no problem in doing so. We saved nearly $200 this way. We were one of the first people to be at the Cole Porter lounge for tender tickets but ended up getting on tender three. This was no problem and we spent a long time being anxious about getting to shore on time, as this was the first time we tendered. The tour was awesome thanks to tour guide Travis ("TAZ"). You meet your guide immediately after tendering into Belize City at the Wet Lizard, which is immediately to the right when you get off the tender. You pay the balance and then use the restroom before departing in an air-conditioned van. Taz gave an awesome tour and we learned so much about the country and people. Taz stopped for bottled water and gas ($4.40 per gallon in US $) and then we drove for an hour or so to the caves. Coral Breeze goes through two cave systems (instead of the typical one cave) so it was double the fun. The mile and a quarter walk were educational as Taz stopped to point out the trees and plants. When we reached the point to get in the water we walked down a small embankment while Taz held the inner tube. The water is brisk but welcome after the long walk. The tube ride was amazing and our group of 13 hooked on to each other, which I greatly appreciated. We had to paddle to get through the caves and Taz stopped at several points to ask everyone to turn off their lights. The caves are amazing to experience in the dark. I have to admit that I spent a great deal of time thinking about snakes, spiders and alligators and there was really nothing to worry about in the end. There were several times when I spied large spiders on the cave walls but I did my best to stay away from the walls and shoreline. The water was low in several areas as this was still dry season when we visited and we actually had to walk through several points before resuming tubing. 16 year old jumped off a ledge at the end of a cave where Taz let us have a break. We had a wonderful meal that was included at the small restaurant at the beginning of the trail (barbecued chicken, rice, beans, multigrain bread, fried banana, fresh mango, punch and a dessert muffin). It was the icing on the day! We drove back to town and made one of the final tenders back to the boat. My advice would be to book this excursion in advance before the cruise to avoid using the Internet on the boat. There were several large crowds of people (including over 100 from the Carnival tour) that were also tubing and they did not have the same educational and safe experience that Coral Breeze gave. Everyone floated on their own and how the tour company kept track of them I'll never know. We went back to the boat to get ready for an early show and ordered room service for dinner. Everyone exhausted and went to bed by 10:00. FIFTH DAY: FUN DAY AT SEA -- No more excursions. Slept in and wandered the beautiful ship taking pictures and relaxing on deck. Prepared for the second formal night. More pictures. Dropped off 9 year old at Camp Carnival for the Late Night Party, which went on until 3:30 a.m. (Staff dropped him off at his cabin at this time). Went to a show called "Spin" which was a Las Vegas type review and very enjoyable. We then went to the midnight gala buffet to take pictures-just incredible. Then on to see a midnight comedy show at the Cole Porter lounge. FINAL DAY AT SEA: Slept in and then went to play on deck. Sat by the pool at the Aft deck, which I would recommend as there are two Jacuzzis and a round pool filled with cool seawater. Make sure to check out towels on deck by the main pool before coming up. Moved to the shade after an hour or so. Never had trouble finding an empty chair. Had an awesome made to order pasta lunch on the Lido Deck. Walked the ship and videoed everything. Relaxed through the afternoon and then prepared for final night of an early show of music and comedy and dinner in the Imagination dining room. Went back to the rooms to pack and had everything in the hall to go at 11:00 p.m. DISEMBARKATION: Up and ready to get off the boat at 7:30 a.m. Eating breakfast at Tiffany's. Would highly recommend self-disembarking if you can carry everything you bring. We had too much luggage so had to wait for our color (red) to be called. We were off the boat finally at 10:30 and all luggage back in the retrieved car by 11:10. Back on the road to St. Louis. Read Less
Sail Date May 2005
Ahoy, matey! This was our first cruise of any kind, but it certainly won't be our last! Elation is a stunning ship, and the crew were all outstanding. If Long John Silver had taken this cruise, he'd of given up his evil pirate ... Read More
Ahoy, matey! This was our first cruise of any kind, but it certainly won't be our last! Elation is a stunning ship, and the crew were all outstanding. If Long John Silver had taken this cruise, he'd of given up his evil pirate ways in favor of commanding a carnival on the high seas. Carnival Cruise Lines, that is...There are a great variety of fun activities on board, from laying out by the pool sipping a "drink of the day" (my personal favorite) to dancing the night away into the early hours of the morning (my wife's personal favorite) in the Jekyll & Hyde Club or the Romeo & Juliet Club. The Karaoke club is a blast, even if you can't sing. That's OK though, a few more "drinks of the day" and you won't care. Word of warning here, though, drinks are about $5 a shot, so either set yourself a limit or prepare for a $500+ bar tab at the end of a 7 nighter. There are two fantastic formal dining rooms. Were were assigned to the Imagination. Our server, a beautiful, friendly Romanian girl, took excellent care of us and even remembered our names and what we liked to drink. And this brings us to the food. If you care about your figure, I suggest a diet the month before you go, because there is great food (including lots of desserts)everywhere you go, and as much of it as your over-extended bloated American belly can hold! Carnival has it down to a science. Man, if you can't relax and have fun on this ship you can't have fun anywhere! It seemed like everyone we talked to had cruised Carnival before and loved it. There's a great casino as well, although I'm not much of a gambler. I got sucked into the "3 card poker" hole for $100 and learned my lesson. Took me 3 or 4 "drinks of the day" to get over that one. But you know what, that was still fun, even though I lost. Actually the casino is way more user friendly than Vegas, so if you are a rookie blackjack player, its a good place to learn. Just understand up front that you are going to lose your money, honey. Now to the port tours. We did a lot of research before we left, and after talking to our table mates, I think we chose wisely. In Progresso, which is a ultra dirt- poor city, go to the Corona Beach Break. They'll load you on a bus, take you to a pretty beach, and fill you full of Coronitas or frozen drinks. There are strolling musicians (take a few bucks to tip them, cheapo) and a DJ set up with volleyball and other assorted party games. You can lay out or swim in the Caribbean for free, or jet ski at $30 for 1/2 hr. I chose to lay out on the white sand and drink, of course. In Cozumel, you just can't go wrong with the Dune Buggy/ Snorkel Beach Tour. It's alcohol free and I gotta be honest here, the snorkeling location sucked. I've been snorkeling in Cozumel swimming pools that were better than the place they chose. BUT, stay with me now, afterwards you get into your dune buggy and drive to some of the most scenic areas of the Yucatan you will ever see. You then swim in the sea, complete with a mini cliff dive area, and eat an incredible catered Mexican buffet set up for you right on the beach. Then you drive back through the town of Cozumel (which is kind of like entering an event on Fear Factor) where you return to the ship or go shopping. I recommend a few hours at Senior Frogs afterward to return your brain to the alcoholic haze to which it has become accustomed. Buy Tequila and some extra mexican vanilla before you return to ship. Don't drink one by mistake. (Don't ask me how I know.) Two words about Belize...snorkeling and diving. THE best anywhere. Go, do it, enjoy. You won't be sorry!!! Buy coffee and One Barrel rum. Yum. Never made it into town, so I can't help you there. Forget that...GO snorkeling! You are going to love this ship and this cruise. If you don't it's your own darn fault for being a whiny, bitter malcontent. Just kidding. GO! What the heck are you waiting for!!! Read Less
Sail Date May 2005
My husband and I are 39 and this was our 9th cruise (3 Carnival, 2 Royal Caribbean, 1 Celebrity, 1 NCL, 1 Princess) and 1st 5 day cruise. We prefer longer cruises (7-10) but this turned out quite nice probably because we combined it with ... Read More
My husband and I are 39 and this was our 9th cruise (3 Carnival, 2 Royal Caribbean, 1 Celebrity, 1 NCL, 1 Princess) and 1st 5 day cruise. We prefer longer cruises (7-10) but this turned out quite nice probably because we combined it with visiting family before and after the cruise. On the day of the cruise, we got a ride to Houston Hobby and then took Galveston Limousine Service for $30 pp 1-way to Galveston. We left Hobby at 9:30 am and reached the port at 10:15 am. We checked our luggage (although we could have carried on everything but our largest suitcase) and went up to the waiting room. We could have checked our luggage and then walked around Galveston but I wanted to get on the ship as soon as possible. We boarded at noon. First, we ate lunch on the Lido deck. Then, we went to the Spa to volunteer to model for the spa tours. It worked; they called our cabin just before 2 pm to use me as a model for the Ionithermie treatment. I received a $145 treatment for free. We also stopped by the Maitre D to change our dining time to the early 5:45 pm seating. There are 2 dinning rooms with 2 dinner times each for a total of 4 dinner times. Weather: I was surprised that it was a little cool on our first and last days. I expected Galveston to be warm in April. I've never been cold leaving out of Florida even in October or November. Our cabin was R151, an inside cabin. There was a tile missing in the bathroom and the toilet paper holder was missing a part but other than that the cabin was great. We love the larger size of cabins on Carnival ships. The shower was one of the biggest we've had on a cruise. Toiletries provided were: flossing brush, men's and women's razors, hair gel, tooth paste, shampoo and conditioner (sample sizes, except for the razors, it probably wouldn't be enough to make it through the cruise). The soap was Lever 2000 (bar for the sink & 2 different kinds of liquid in the shower which was particularly nice). We asked for bathrobes and the cabin steward brought them the next day. It is a pain to have a separate key for the room, a separate key for the room safe, and your sail and sign card instead of being able to use your sail and sign card for everything. Entertainment: We enjoyed the two main shows; especially the 2nd but we find all the other shows (welcome aboard etc. pretty boring). Carnival seems to have improved their offering of music and music groups spread out around the ship since we last cruised with them in 2003. Food: We enjoy the dinners in the dining room the most. We like that Carnival also has a variety of food at lunch including food from different parts of the world. We especially enjoyed the Indian food. Read your Carnival Capers to find out which lunch line has the ethnic food. Breakfast is the worst meal of the day and is pretty much the same limited fair every day and gets old fast. We ate 1 night on the Lido deck because we stayed in Cozumel late. The dinner selection was good but not as good as the dining room. On formal night, go to the Captains Party to get free drinks and appetizers. This is a great way to try a new drink without having to pay for it. Cozumel: The Captain announced the night before that we had some engine trouble so we would be arriving late in Cozumel. We had arranged with Eagle Ray Divers (www.eagleraydivers.com) to do a 2-tank dive during the day and a night dive in the evening since we were in port so long. We tried to contact them by e-mail to let them know we were going to be late but apparently it didn't get through to them. However, they were great and left directions at the marina where we were supposed to meet them as to where they were going and how to catch up with them. It was a short cab ride away to another beach. We really enjoyed our dives with them. Our first dive was just us and the dive master. The 2nd was with 4 other people and the DM (6 to 1 is a good ratio). We saw sea turtles, a big lobster, a hermit crab in a conch shell, lots of beautiful coral and lots of fish. The second dive site was fun because we could see our ship from the dive site. After our 2nd dive, they kept our dive gear and dropped us off at the pier for a few hours. We ate Fajitas and chips and salsa at Fat Tuesdays and shopped around a little. Later we met them at the marina for our night dive. Our night dive was at the same site as our 2nd day dive which was fine because we saw different things at night then during the day. Also, it was beautiful to come up in the dark, see the beautiful star filled sky and then look over and see the ship all lit up. It was so beautiful peaceful. On the night dive, we saw a couple of octopuses, several lobsters, a big crab, an ell that looked like a snake, a big flounder, a school of small jelly fish (about the size of acorns). We would definitely dive with Eagle Ray Divers again. Calica: We prebooked the Carnival excursion to Xcaret ($55 pp). It is a beautiful place with lots to do and see and plenty of hammocks by the ocean to enjoy the sites and sounds. I wish we could have stayed to see some of the night shows but we had to leave by 3:30 pm. We took the advice of other cruise critic members and did the underground river first thing when we got to the park. We pretty much had the river to ourselves. The water was cold but not too bad. You do have to swim to get through. You can't just float. I recommend water shoes or rugged sandals to protect your feet from rocks. We also enjoyed the Butterfly Pavilion, cemetery, turtle exhibits, and bat cave. We missed the Orchid house and a few other things - decided to chill in a hammock by the beach instead. We ate lunch at a really nice Mexican restaurant in the park, La Cocina. It was a little pricey but you got a lot of food and really good food. We had a Mexican meal for 2, a margarita each (they were huge!) and 3 other nonalcoholic drinks for a total of $60. Check out all you can see and do there at www.xcaret.com Also check the Cruise Critic forum boards for suggestions and advice. Disembarkation: This is the first cruise that we've been on that had self-disembarkation. We decided not to do it and let someone else carry our baggage. We were off the ship by 9:30 am. Houston: We bought tickets ahead of time for the show "Movin Out" (music by Billy Joel, choreography by Twila Tharp) and loved it! We also ate lunch and bought an all day pass ($15.99 pp) at the Downtown Aquarium. The food was overpriced but the 150,000 gallon aquarium in the center of the restaurant is fantastic! The shark voyage was cool and the other exhibits were very nice. Check it out at www.downtownaquarium.com Advice: Before you go, read the member reviews of the ship and check the forum boards for other tips and suggestions for what to do in each port. It really pays off to do a little research. On the ship, read the Carnival Capers every day to fully take advantage of what's available on board. Read Less
Sail Date April 2005
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