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1,393 Carnival Galveston Cruise Reviews

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
Arrival: We (myself, my wife, my nine year old daughter, and fourteen year old teen) drove from Fort Hood to Galveston on Sunday morning with very few problems. Arrived at EZ Park at 11:00am, They were helpful with baggage and getting us ... Read More
Arrival: We (myself, my wife, my nine year old daughter, and fourteen year old teen) drove from Fort Hood to Galveston on Sunday morning with very few problems. Arrived at EZ Park at 11:00am, They were helpful with baggage and getting us to the port to begin embarkation between 11:30 and 11:45. Embarkation: Easy to do with photo ID's and birth certificates. Took longer than I expected with the boarding photos and such but all together not too bad. Leaving Port: I was not very pleased with the timing of life boat drills as it took place as we left the dock so we were unable to enjoy the view of leaving. Boat drills are tedious and the life jackets are uncomfortable but the crew kept it fairly organized, Children will probably have a tougher time with this. I know my daughter did. Pursers Desk: Take care of tips and sign and sail account prior to boarding if at all possible, The line at boarding and for most of the first day/evening was long and slow. You can still adjust tips as you see fit during the cruise. "Fun" days at sea: These can be a lot of fun or very boring depending upon who you are and what you are willing to participate in or if you enjoy just lounging by the pool they can be great. I can say that during our cruise all of us stayed busy and enjoyed even the "fun" days at sea. We participated in only a few ship board activities (my wife actually convinced me to enter the hairy chest contest, LOL) but we still had plenty to do with shows, the casino (nickel and quarter slots since I'm such a big gambler), shopping, eating, eating, and eating. Oh by the way did I mention eating.... Ports: Progresso- We did our own thing and got a bus to Merida where we shopped and did the tourist thing (pictures and sight seeing)Lots of fun and a happy wife to boot. Managed it all for under $150 Cozumel- Once again we did our own thing and took a $15 taxi to Paradise Beach. I've heard that the taxi should be between $13-$15 , Hang on when you get in the taxi, It reminded me of the taxi drivers in the middle east..... FAST !!!! Belize- This time we had prearranged to take a tour through Coral Breeze Limited. This was the absolute best time we had the entire trip. We did the shark/ray snorkeling tour and had an absolutely un-Belize-able time. We snorkeled around the Barrier Reef, Amazing wild life and coral formations. The off to shark/ray alley The sharks and rays swim right up to the boat and you even can touch them if your "brave" enough, Just kidding, the sharks are nurse sharks and harmless to my knowledge. My daughter was the only one not quite into touching the rays or sharks. I read prior to going that the ship had crummy carpet with stains and bad wear on it but I didn't really see too much that was "bad". People have also complained about the shows and decor of the ship. I enjoyed the comics and some of the shows and only once didn't like the production of a vegas style show. The decor of the ship was in some places what I would consider gaudy but nothing I didn't really expect and I thought the atrium was great with live music and a bar in the middle. My only complaints were with two members of the staff 1. Our cabin steward, Still don't know his name. Don't get me wrong he wasn't terrible but if you wanted something you had to catch him in person (not an easy feat some days) My daughter had to wait for two days just to get an extra blanket. We tried calling etc. but got nothing until we caught him in the hall two days later. We also had to ask specifically to get the towel animals Carnival is known for, after three days of waiting to see if he was going to do it. 2. Deanna the teen "counselor". I would have expected a better role model to be in this position. My impression of her was that instead of a "role model" and staff member, she was just another teen. I was not at all impressed by her or the activities for the teens. Based upon our experiences with the "teen scene" on board, I won't take my fourteen y/o or my other teenage son on a fun ship cruise again. There simply are not enough activities oriented toward the teens to keep them happily occupied during days at sea. In closing, while I was unhappy with the teen program, the program for younger children was great and my daughter stayed busy and had a blast. Read Less
Sail Date April 2005
Cruise Review - March 21, 2005 - Western Caribbean Before Leaving - We stayed at the Hilton in Galveston. Wonderful room and they will park your vehicle for free for the duration of the cruise. The Hilton is great with pretty good ... Read More
Cruise Review - March 21, 2005 - Western Caribbean Before Leaving - We stayed at the Hilton in Galveston. Wonderful room and they will park your vehicle for free for the duration of the cruise. The Hilton is great with pretty good customer service and very nice rooms. Embarkation - Things went really smooth. I only waited in line for about 5 minutes. Only two ships in harbor the day we left. Luggage was delivered to our room before we left dock. Casino - We actually decided to cruise instead of our usual spring break trip to Vegas. The ship's casino is a great place to lose money. The table games are even more against you than they would be in Vegas. Most of the table games have a $10 limit. I have yet to see a blackjack table that was $5, and the tables are all 8 deck with no surrender. Three Card Poker is $5, but the pays are terrible (30 to 1 on 3 of a kind). In fact the only game that I found that gave you the same odds as Vegas was roulette. When roulette is giving some of the best odds on the ship, spend your money elsewhere. Slots seemed pretty tight with very little variety, though they are not really my thing. Food - The food was really quite good. Not 5 star good, but certainly passable. The Captains dinner was better than most. My wife and I made our own version of surf and turf (prime rib and lobster). Don't be shy about ordering more than one meal, as the meals in the dining rooms tend to come in smaller quantities. We ate all of your breakfasts on the Lido deck at the grill, which might be the best meal of the day. Large variety of standard breakfast entries, with juices, milk and coffee. Had one lunch in the dining room, and it really wasn't any different than the pool side grill. Burgers and fries from 11:30 to about 6:00, with pizza served 24 hours. We went the entire trip without buying a drink, but the drink waiters seemed to be everywhere. Drinks are a little bit on the crazy expensive side for my taste. Shows / Entertainment - The "Vegas-style" shows were pretty poor. The ship premiered a new country show while we were on board. Hopefully it will get better with time. Shopping - The Ship's galleria was pretty good. Really good deals on liquor. The liquor store manager spends time while in ports making certain that the ship has or matches the best deals that you can get at the duty free or other reputable shops. Johnnie Walker Blue for $120! My wife bought a watch (again, pretty good price) and you can get cheap t-shirts if you wait until the last night of the cruise. In Cozumel, the duty free (Dufry's) shop on the pier has a little of everything. The Americanized shops at the pier are fun, but no real deals to be had. Go into town to find the best shopping. We didn't really shop in Playa, but I would guess it is about the same. Staterooms / Conditions Aboard - Our stateroom was great (Upper Deck, U144). When we arrived, the room a had a strong odor of onions, but that went away pretty quickly. I never met our steward, but our room was always in great condition. I was initially concerned about the size of the room, but found that it was more than adequate for two. The TV had the three networks broadcast from New York and two movie channels that played the same movies over and over again (I know that you are not going on a cruise to watch TV, but I am a total news junkie - CNN or Fox would have been nice) . Our outside window could have used some serious washing. The ship seemed to be well kept in general, with no real noticeable problems. All of the elevators have bells to announce their arrival, and a number of them sound absolutely terrible. Day One - Galveston, Out to Sea: The muster went pretty well. Of course it is too long and no one wants to do it, but it went pretty fast. We opted for the burgers at the grill (which were very good). We explored the ship, checked our excursions at the shore tour desk and unpacked. Day Two - At Sea: You can't appreciate the size of the ship until you jog it first thing in the morning. It is big. Breakfast on the Lido deck was great. Spent most of the day on deck and roaming the ship. Dinner was the formal night, with everyone looking great. Take as many pictures as you can - we did. A couple of them turned out very well, and the enlargement prices aboard ship are pretty reasonable. Our table companions made bad small talk about politics. Just an enjoyable day aboard. Day Three - Cozumel: Make certain to sign up for the shore excursions early. We signed up online before we left, and had no problems, but a number of people that we spoke to were disappointed with lack of availability. We chose to go to the dolphin swim at Chankanaab National Park (www.dolphindiscovery.com). It was outstanding. We arrived a bit early by taxi (an adventure in it self - one of the craziest car rides I have ever been on. They drive like maniacs!) and toured the park. There is a great beach and simulated Mayan ruins. The Dolphin swim is a lot of fun, and very recommended. We left, again by taxi, to shop and roam Cozumel. Day Four - Calica / Playa del Carmen, Out to Sea: I had read reviews describing Calica as a gravel pit, but I thought they were being figurative. The dock at Calica is literally a gravel pit / cement plant. Not a great way to greet tourists. We took the cavern and beach tour. The cave swim (cenotes) was the highlight of the cruise. The tour guides (Ruben and Raoul) were a bit talkative, but did a great job. The day ends with 3 hours on the best beach I have ever seen, with water so clear and blue that it looks fake. Reluctantly, we made our way back to the ship and played in the ship's Blackjack tournament. We didn't make the final round, and were beat-dead tired, so we went to bed. Day Five - At Sea: Not much happening on ship this day. Some pretty good deals at the stores. Went to the debarkation gathering with the cruise director. The entire debarking process, from this point forward, was confusing and poorly organized. Lots of conflicting information, lots of wrong information. Packed our stuff, and left it outside our cabin. Day Six - Debarkation: Go through the immigration process as soon as possible, then go for breakfast. Don't bring luggage through the immigration process. Try to figure out the amount that you spent the night before and settle your sign and sail account before hand. I received 4 different answers from 4 different people as to the amount of liquor allowed off the ship. I still don't know what the real amount is, but the customs process was lax enough not to matter. Finding our bags was easy, getting out of the cruise terminal was impossible. Plan on waiting at least a hour for a hotel shuttle. We weren't in a rush, so it was no big deal, but if you are catching a flight, plan accordingly. Overall - Very satisfied with our first cruise. Everything was pretty much as we expected, and the value was well worth it. Some things to consider bringing: Room deodorizer - We brought one of the Oust fans and are glad we did. Power strip - only one outlet in the room. A power strip is a must. Bottled water - You can pay for it on ship or try the drink bars - or you can bring your own. $2.50 for a 12 pack, instead of a bottle. Read Less
Sail Date March 2005
A great mini-vacation offering good value! We've just returned in late March from a wonderful five day cruise abroad Carnival Cruise Line's "Ecstasy" This is a western Caribbean cruise out of Galveston, Texas. From ... Read More
A great mini-vacation offering good value! We've just returned in late March from a wonderful five day cruise abroad Carnival Cruise Line's "Ecstasy" This is a western Caribbean cruise out of Galveston, Texas. From the beginning, everything went RIGHT for us on this trip. My fiancEe and I flew from Boston to Houston, and my parents flew in from Philly early on the same afternoon, arriving within 30 minutes of one another. We found each other easily at the baggage claim, and before we knew it we were on our way to Galveston, Texas. We had pre-arranged our transportation to Galveston; I had read in a cruise review about this transfer service in Houston that was supposing really good. It was, and it turned out to be the best piece of advice we got for the entire vacation. Now, I can recommend it in this review, If you need a shuttle to transfer your family or group to Galveston, call L.J. at the Texas Cruise Ship Shuttle at (281-443-4430). This helpful and friendly man drove us door-to-door, to and from Galveston, and included a tour of the Galveston strip, and other local highlights. It was a great way to see a city we have never visited, especially with such a knowledgeable guide. Top marks to L.J. We had made reservations at the Holiday Inn on the Seawall overlooking the Gulf of Mexico in Galveston. This is a good hotel at a great location, with lot of restaurants and think to do near by. They also provide us with free transportation to the cruise ship terminal on our cruise day. The terminal in Galveston is pretty well set-up. If you have the time to visit downtown Galveston, do it. There are blocks of shops, restaurants and bars to kill some time. Don't bother with the porters in Hawaiian shirts at the cruise terminal; carry your own luggage the 50 feet and drop them with the Carnival employees who will help you tag them. Our bags were outside our cabin door by the time we'd boarded and eaten lunch. The port of Galveston is a busy place for the offshore oil-rig companies. In fact, expect to see oil-platforms for the first 10 hours sailing south. Actually, it was kind of interesting. The weather was perfect our entire cruise. Perfect for folk like us from New England! Some evenings got a little breezy on deck, but if you could find shelter from the wind, it was very pleasant. We recommend the hot-tubs just before closing at 11:00 pm. It's a perfect place to unwind and watch the goings-on of the ship. As for the ship itself, its was pretty comfortable. The cabins were larger than we expected, and well appointed. There was a mix-up and our room, had 2 single beds; our steward had them converted into a very comfortable double before bedtime. The basket of free bathroom necessities was a nice touch. We had very calm winds and seas for the entire trip. The food was very good, as expected. The buffet style was passable for breakfast, not as enjoyable as lunch or dinner... with one exception. The pizza is as good as they say; The 24-hour pizzeria is one of the most popular place aboard the Ecstasy ship we could have eaten it every day. Arrive at all meals 5-10 minutes late to avoid lines. We had the good fortune of being seated with a delightful family from West Texas and had wonderful fun and conversation with them on the entire cruise. We also meant a lot of people from Oklahoma, Kansas, Iowa, Arkansas and New Mexico. The entertainment was good, we did a lot of dancing. We were not into the Vegas style shows. If you go on the cruise with a group of people you'll have more fun than on your own. We took after dinner stroll along City Lights Boulevard, and have some fun in the ship-long promenade's themed bars and lounges. We pull into Cozumel, Mexico at about 8:00 am. Cozumel was terrific. We booked the Mayan Adventure by Horseback at the Buena Vista Ranch. It was fully worth the cost! There are archaeological sites all over the ranch, the horses are strong and fast (we got to trot and gallop!), and the free cerveca at the end of the day was a welcome treat. Our guides were fun and interesting; it didn't feel like a standard lead-the-tourists-around-by-hand-tour. It was educational and fun. We highly recommended this! We also found 2 hours to snorkel off Dzul Ha beach - beautiful. Its only 5 minutes from the pier by cab. On our days at sea, we found the deck crowded and a little loud, but acceptable. A little pre-planning got us 4 lounge chairs together overlooking the rail. Grab your own chairs off the stack and set-up early in the morning. We got lots of sun in our 5 days! Disembarkation was uneventful, everything went smoothly.. We were not hurried, so we had the whole morning to enjoy breakfast and relax, while the rest of the passengers waited in long lines to clear customs. A nice piece of luck! We ask our driver L. J. ,to pick us up at 10:30 am for our return ride back to the airport in Houston. All in all, we had a wonderful vacation. If you have cruised before you are bound to compare this with other cruises you've taken. We've cruised on Holland America and Royal Caribbean and this cruise was different. HOWEVER, we paid peanuts for this cruise in comparison to our previous cruises, so the value is excellent. First time cruisers will be impressed. Remember, its a "Fun Ship"! Read Less
Sail Date March 2005
We cruised on the Elation on 3/20-3/27 (our spring break week). Flew into Houston then drove to Galveston the day before we were to leave. Our group consisted of DH, 3 DS's (18,16,12) & myself...all first time cruisers. ... Read More
We cruised on the Elation on 3/20-3/27 (our spring break week). Flew into Houston then drove to Galveston the day before we were to leave. Our group consisted of DH, 3 DS's (18,16,12) & myself...all first time cruisers. EMBARKATION: We arrived at the terminal somewhat early about 12:00 p.m. The security screening line moved pretty quickly. The terminal staff handed out letters to the early arrivals stating that the cabins/staterooms would not be accessible until 1:30p.m. , to give stewards enough time to clean them. After the screening you wait in another line to show your passports/birth certificates & ID. This line moved fairly quickly also, but then again we were early. This is also where you will receive your sail & sign card and present your credit card or cash deposit for your ship account. Our check-in person was very friendly and personable. She did suggest that if I were to cruise again (not having a passport) , I would need a document that had both my maiden and married name (marriage lic.). She said this time it was not a problem, but to be aware that I would need it for future cruises. I have also just heard that passports will be required by 2008 I think. Then on to have our "welcome aboard" photo taken and then to have an individual photo (by machine) taken with your sail & sign card. This is the way they are able to ID you as you reboard in port. SHIP: Very nice and clean, bar staff in the atrium very friendly and helpful. We purchased 2 of our boys a 'soda card' shortly after we were on board. There was a bit of wear in areas; elevators, carpeting, cabin windows & bedding are all that stick out in my mind, but these ships run constantly. Found it a little confusing trying to get to the Inspiration dining room. Pool is kind of small, my kids hardly used it....too salty!! Most of the bars/lounges are easy to find and nice. We did not spend a lot of time in them, except the Mikado Lounge where the shows were. We got a drink and wandered around until 1:30 when we could get into our cabin. Luggage is not delivered until evening time, so take with you what you will want when you board (carry-on). Nothing too big as you will have to lug it around until you get access to your cabin. I noticed some brought or wore their swimsuit to take advantage of pool time. This was great for kids!! The 'muster drill' (with life vest) was okay, just put them on (YES....ON) and follow instructions as they are announced. CABIN: We were in R57. It was clean, just a few smudges here & there, nothing major to grip about. They are small. We had a window, which was great, a little rusty with hard water/salt deposits. It was awesome to watch the ships wake and the waves. Closet/Storage space was sufficient. I was not impressed with the safe accessibility for locking. Who ever locks it with their 'sail & sign' card is the ONLY card that will unlock it. A little inconvenient sometimes. CREW: Almost all were very pleasant and helpful. Our steward 'Sentana" was awesome, very friendly and personable. He went out of his way for us several times and made it a point to remember the kids' names. Cruise Director and activities staff were funny and entertaining. Most of the bar & cook staff were nice too, did not talk too much. Dining room servers were also very nice. Here & there were a few staff that were not as personable. My only complaint is with the purser's desk. One evening, about 6:30, my youngest began to run a fever and I wanted to take his temp. before giving him any meds. I had not brought along a thermometer and asked the desk if they could help me find one. (I even had to explain to her what a thermometer was) They did not have one and could not help me, told me the doctor was gone for the day. They would call him for me, but he might charge me, so we left. I realized later (after 8:00) that the infirmary was open until 8:00p.m. Don't know if they had a thermometer or not. I recommend you take one with you. FOOD: For the most part it was good. Burger & fries from the poolside buffet were excellent. Inside buffet meats were good, side dishes were okay as were desserts. They were kind of bland, I'm sure because so many people cannot have much sodium/sugar. Ice cream was always popular and very good. Dining room food was a little too fancy for our liking, kids found it hard to find something they liked. Pizzeria was good and had a great Caesar salad. ENTERTAINMENT: We went to almost all of the Mikado lounge shows. They were good, but a couple of them put me to sleep (maybe it was just me). Daytime activities were fun & entertaining. We did not go to any of the other lounge shows, not sure why. PHOTOS: There were a lot!! I felt there were only a few photographers that were a little persistent/pushy or hurried. Most were very polite. We purchased a few and also the 'travelog' video. PROGRESO, MX: We did the Reef Club all inclusive beach, March 22nd. If you choose to do this, purchase your pass as soon as you get off the bus from the ship. If you wait too long and try to make up your mind other folks will be loading up the buses and getting there sooner. Only so many chairs, tables, loungers..... at the beach. They will tell you that the jet skis and kayaks are included.... we only saw one water craft and two kayaks, did not look worth the wait, they were always busy. Booze is FREE (watch your teens, they won't) if you choose, make sure the under age kids get the correct wrist band. Almost 30 minute ride and not much for scenery. The guide had some good info about the area, sit toward the front of the bus to listen. Very run down area and trashy on the way, but the resort itself was very nice. Nice beach to play in the water and sand, no waves to speak of. All in all still better than the public beach, no peddlers. $30 per adult $15 per child (not sure age cut off) ****See other postings on the Progreso board, we added more to this there. COZUMEL: We did the Chankanaab Dolphin Swim, booked it through .....cometocozumel.com ....for $99pp, plus the entrance fee to the park of $12pp. I had decided to purchase & bring our own dry snorkels, although the ones they provide you are in sealed bags. This is a large and beautiful park, I wish we would have had more time to see it. DH chose not to do the swim so he was going to take video and pics. Of course the camcorder would not work right, so we purchased the DVD that they took of us. Pictures that they take are great (large & close-up). We purchased some of these as well. The staff shows you the signs to make to the dolphin for a 'kiss', 'dance' & 'belly ride'. Each person in the group gets to do all 3. After this was done by everyone they instruct you to swim out and form a large circle. The dolphin then swims along the inner circle so you can reach out and touch her as she swims by. Our group has a little difficulty staying in a circle (wind & waves). It was hard too for some to touch her as she swam around the circle and as we floated closer together, she swam to the outside of our lopsided circle. All in all the swim lasted for about 1 hour, and I was a little disappointed. I think my expectations may have been a little high. The taxi ride to & from the park ranged (for us---family of 5) from $12-$15 each way. We chose not to see anymore of the park (all were tired, hot & sticky) and head back to town to shop & eat. Shopped at the stores by the pier and ate at Burger King. BELIZE: Snorkeled at Goff's Caye. It was GREAT!! My whole family, including my teen boys, loved it. We booked through carnival and the guides we had were awesome, Francis was our main guide. They were all very helpful, polite, and friendly. We did choose to first snorkel off the boat, after dropping those that wanted to beach snorkel off first. It was fun off the boat, saw quite a few fish and the coral beds are fascinating. They then take you back to the caye where there is time for you to snorkel off the beach, this was even better, not as many fish but still good. You can go where you want at your leisure and everything is very close. If you go and snorkel at all from the beach, pay attention to the little brown eraser (or smaller) size objects floating around. If you stop in the water long enough to really watch them you will see them pulse through the water. It was interesting to see something so little swim! Also if you snorkel from the beach where there is more sand than coral and gently flap one of your flippers on the ocean bottom fish will come. We found this out by accident and continued to watch the fish appear and feed on what we were disturbing in the sand with our fin. What a treat!! We did the morning trip and had time to go back to the ship get cleaned up and go into the city to eat & shop. Whatever you decide to do I'm sure it will be fun. DEBARKATION: We chose the "Self-Assist" way to get off the ship. We were among some of the first to go through customs and get off. We did not have to search for our luggage inside the terminal either. With "self-assist" you keep your luggage and take it off yourself otherwise you have to put it in the hall the evening before. They will announce the color of your deck tag when it is your turn to go to customs, unless you are doing the 'self-assist' way. After we were done in customs we got our luggage from the cabin and our group was already heading off the ship. HOPE YOUR CRUISE IS A GREAT ONE!! Read Less
Sail Date March 2005
My assistant leaders and myself took our daughters' Girl Scout Troop (ages 13-17) on this cruise. We were a group of 10. This was our first cruise. Everyone had a wonderful time! Embarkation day (Sunday): We live in the Houston ... Read More
My assistant leaders and myself took our daughters' Girl Scout Troop (ages 13-17) on this cruise. We were a group of 10. This was our first cruise. Everyone had a wonderful time! Embarkation day (Sunday): We live in the Houston area, so we arrived in Galveston around 10:45 am. We did not know what to expect, since this was our Spring Break. The embarkation process was easier than we thought it would be. They started boarding around noon. We had a group picture taken and then our individual pictures for our Sail and Sign card. This went very fast. We boarded the ship around 12:30 pm. After we boarded the ship, we stood in line to have our Sail and Sign cards activated (we all paid cash). This took about 15 minutes. Then we filled out our Shore Excursion forms and dropped them in the box. We had lunch in the Tiffany Restaurant because our cabins were not ready. After lunch, we found our cabins and met our steward, Jorge, who was very nice and helpful. Shortly after locating our cabins, we were called to participate in the mandatory lifeboat drill. We then wandered the ship to explore. We had the early seating (6:15 pm) in the Imagination dining room, which was perfect. We were in awe at the quality of the food throughout the trip. The girls tried foods they have never had before and some loved it and some didn't. We thought everything was great, no complaints here. There was so much food...and to much to choose from. We ate in the dining room every night. Our waitstaff, Dominic and Yuga were wonderful (big hit with the girls), and learned all our names after the first night and greeted us by name each night thereafter. They also remembered that we loved to have hot chocolate with our dessert. They were more than happy to bring multiple appetizers, entrees or desserts, or take something back if someone did not like what they had, though that didn't happen very often. We had breakfast and lunch at Tiffany's each day and found the food to be good. You will not go hungry with all of the food choices available. Felt the movement of the ship all through dinner and on the upper decks only. Monday: This was a fun day at sea. We kept busy doing various activities. The session about the shore excursions was interesting and informative. This was formal night. We had so much fun dressing up, everyone looked so beautiful! Lobster was one of the choices on the menu, and it was quite good. Tuesday: We arrived in Progresso. We decided not to book a shore excursion. We spent the day shopping and playing on the beach. The girls rode the "Banana Boat" for $5 each. It was about a 20 minute ride. That evening we went to the show in the Mikado Lounge after dinner. Wednesday: Arrived in Cozumel. We booked the Dolphin Swim and Snorkel Adventure tour with the ship. This was the highlight of the entire trip. We swam with dolphins and snorkeled for about an 1 hour. Our whole session was videotaped and copied onto a DVD. The girls still talk about it and want to go back and do it again. We had another rough day at sea, could even feel it in our cabins (deck 6-Upper). Made sure everyone had their SeaBands on and had taken some Bonine. Thursday: Arrived in Belize. The girls and one adult leader went on the Cave Tubing and Rainforest Exploration tour. They had a wonderful time. Myself and the other two leaders decided to go on the City Tour and Airboat Adventure tour. It was a lot of fun. We were able to do some shopping afterwards. Once again, dinner was delicious! Friday: Another fun day at sea. Most of spent this time relaxing and doing the various activities that were going on. This was another formal night, so we took some individual and group pictures. Saturday: Fun day at sea. The girls decorated the cabin of one of our assistant leaders for her birthday. We had a surprise birthday party for her at dinner. She had no idea. That was a lot of fun. Our waitstaff even helped us out by decorating our table. We pre-ordered the cake online. It was a great dinner. Sunday: We arrived two hours early in Galveston. We had breakfast and waited for our cabin color to be called. The entire disembarkation process took about 2-3 hours. Found our luggage with no problem and were home by noon. We had a fabulous time and are ready do to do it again. The staff was wonderful, friendly, energetic and helpful. My daughter and I enjoyed it so much that we are planning to go another cruise with our family next Spring Break. Read Less
Sail Date March 2005
First cruise, and let me tell you we had an absolute blast! Embarkation -- The computers were down, but it still went somewhat smooth. Total wait time I would say was about 35 minutes or so since they had to do everything by hand. The ... Read More
First cruise, and let me tell you we had an absolute blast! Embarkation -- The computers were down, but it still went somewhat smooth. Total wait time I would say was about 35 minutes or so since they had to do everything by hand. The luggage man at the terminal was very rushy and ended up flustering my wife ... next thing we know the porter checked our luggage with our birth certificates inside it!!!! Well we made it on the ship anyway, after reassuring the lady in line that our certificates were indeed in the carry on that the porter took ... and off we went. Room -- Day 1 -- I think we finally ended up taking off from Galveston around 5:15 or so ... I could be wrong but it was definitely quite a bit later than 4. We headed to our room right away and then went up top to a wonderful lunch at the Lido deck. I have heard many people say that they see "water stains" and "signs of aging" ... let me tell you, I did not. Our room was in top notch condition ... yes the carpet screams of the disco era, but its condition was very good. I didn't see anything that really showed her age except for a few scuffs on the wall where luggage had been rubbed and banged against. The bedding was very clean, the comforters were nice and comfy and the pillows were good, better than hotels, but not as good as stuff at home. Bathroom was spotless, no cracks in tub, tile, toilet ... everything showed a perfectly white grout and no tile stains to speak of. I loved the Lever 2000 body wash they provide you in the shower, it worked and I'm gonna buy some when I go to the store next. Shampoo was all right ... and they had no conditioner. Food -- The Panorama Grill was my least favorite area, but its definitely a personal issue. The neon blue lights just make it seem dark and dreary ... the food and staff are great, it's just the mood of the lights that turned me off. So if we had food there, we took it to the little back balconies and ate outside. The Lido buffets were good, but we didn't really utilize them except for a hamburger or hot dog on occasion. We mainly ate breakfast, snacked then saved room for our wonderful dinners. The dinners were excellent ... our wait staff were hands down the best service professionals I have ever met. Alex and Vera (Romanian) made the debarkation very sad as I will truly miss them. Like I said, the food was excellent and every night there was something I just had to try. As has been said many times, the soups are really good too, try the pumpkin and mushroom soups ... top notch! Lobster was pretty good, not great. The beef meals, prime rib, tenderloin and filet mignon were excellent. Seafood was pretty good, some nights the shrimps were good, some nights average. I had never had Escargot before, so I gave that a try and ended up ordering 2. All in all they offer such a great selection, quantity and great environment that the dining room alone was worth the cruise fare. Sea Days -- The sea days were fun, but we enjoyed the port days much more. We were a lone couple, and there weren't a whole lot of people our age running around on board. We did meet a great guy from Texas (a Marine to boot) and we shared many hours of fun with him ... other than that the rest of the people either stuck with their little cliques, or just were so far from our age range they must not have wanted to approach us. It could be that Texans (which make up 95% of the Ecstasy guests) could sense we were not from there, and shunned us, j/k! We did enjoy some of the onboard activities, but nothing to write home about. If we went with another couple we knew, or a group of family or friends the at sea days would have been much different ... we still had a pretty good time, though. The pool was nice, and I went down the slide quite a few times. There were quite a few people on board that really didn't want to stay poolside, so finding a chair was not that hard to do. Only 1 hot tub was working the entire cruise, the one right next to the pool. But not many wanted to get in there either, so it was vacant most of the time. Deck was kinda slippery, but I never came close to falling. There were a few kids running around, but for the most part they acted very well, and just enjoyed themselves without causing any grief to other pax. Entertainment -- We thought the night shows were pretty good ... not quite Las Vegas good, but still pretty impressive. We only made it to the comedian 1 night and he was funny. Never did spend anytime in the casino so I can't really comment there. Ports of Call -- Really easy to get on and off the ship ... I wish Playa del Carmen was a later departure than 4:00 in the afternoon. The transportation costs at Calica are ridiculously high, especially for just 2 people. Reviews of Paradise Beach and Xel-Ha are found in their respective boards. Debarkation -- We happened to be green tags, so we got off the boat first (after handicapped, and self assist). It was still a pretty decent wait, 30-45 mins, for customs/immigration ... but overall very well managed. We had a 2:40 flight and made it back to IAH Bush with plenty of time to spare. Summary -- There is no way we could have enjoyed ourselves more for the amount of money we paid. Everything about the cruise was as good or better than we expected and plan on doing it again when time permits. I would definitely sail this ship again if it moved to different ports. We enjoyed our ports of call very much, but next time I think we wanna do Alaskan or East Caribbean to see what it's like there. The staff, ship and everything about the Ecstasy truly made for a very enjoyable vacation ... my rating would be a 9.3 out of 10! Read Less
Sail Date February 2005
GETTING TO GALVESTON -- We drove to the terminal from Corpus and it was about a 3 hrs drive down 35. Terminal was easy to find as the Ecstasy dwarfed all the buildings. :D We drove over to EZCruise Parking and showed them our email ... Read More
GETTING TO GALVESTON -- We drove to the terminal from Corpus and it was about a 3 hrs drive down 35. Terminal was easy to find as the Ecstasy dwarfed all the buildings. :D We drove over to EZCruise Parking and showed them our email confirmation and were able to park immediately. $35 for a 5-day cruise and they shuttled us and our luggage to the terminal. Very quick and extremely friendly. They let us off, told us where to go and where they would pick us up when we came back. Great experience. EMBARKATION -- We had a Verandah floor room so we were part of the Skipper's Club. Only advantage to me was that we didn't have to wait in line, they had a small waiting area where we could sit on couches to wait. A couple rode over with us on the same EZCruise Parking shuttle and they weren't Skipper's Club and they got on the ship before. I don't think it really makes a difference one way or the other. I would do fine with or without it. We arrived at the terminal at 1:15 p.m. and we were on the ship by 1:45. We weren't required to stop and take the embarkation picture ... I'm not sure if that is normal or not, they just waved us past the line. We did get our sign & sail card and a Ving card. The Ving card is for your room key and the S&S card is for all your charges on the ship. The ship pulled out of port at approximately 4:30 p.m. (30 minutes late) due to a couple who had a Carnival air package being delayed at the airport. We watched them board the ship. No biggie. Lifeboat drill was short and to the point. I can't see why anyone would ever miss one intentionally. It is to save your life. STATEROOM -- We had room V23 which is considered an obstructed view balcony. There was an inflatable life boat in front of our balcony but it did not deter our view except to our right (aft) facing out from the ship. Never once was it a problem seeing the ocean or the port. People like to complain about these rooms a lot but I found ours to be just fine. It was so nice to be able to go out on our balcony whenever we wanted and the view of the stars at night was fantastic. The room itself was very clean. Shower big enough to fit two people ... a toiletries basket that included men's and ladies' razors, some shampoo and conditioner samples, a gel sample, 4 toothpaste samples, a toothbrush (new & wrapped) and a floss brush (new & wrapped). We had two bars of Lever soap and it was very nice. The bathroom is a good size with plenty of bars/handholds. No sewer smell or anything like that. We had 2 robes in our room and 2 Carnival towels. Plenty of room and hangers to hang stuff. I only wish they had drawers someplace, but the shelves were fine. The linens were always clean and nice. Great duvet and 4 pillows. Some scuffs in the wallpaper and the carpet was showing a little wear, but it only seemed so in our stateroom. The carpet on the rest of the ship looked pretty clean. Certain things are dated but it didn't mess up our cruise or anything like that. The balcony was a bit small ... in the future I will be looking for larger balconies, but for our first time it was great. Just a quick note, the in room safe is operated with a key that you get from your room steward. It is tiny ... and I mean really TINY. It fit my wallet, our passports and my digital camera ... that was it! Nothing bigger. I think it would be a stretch to say it was maybe 6" x 4". Our room stewards (Marlon from Costa Rica & Grzegorzh from Poland) were outstanding. They made us towel animals and were there whenever we needed them. We saw them several times a day and I adore them. We made sure to tip them well when leaving the cruise. DINING -- The food in the dining room was very very good. My family has a history working for upscale hotels (Hyatt & Wyndham) and the food far exceeded anything I have ever had in any of those hotels. So I was very surprised and very happy. The smoked salmon was delicious! The beef entrees were delicious. We tried the escargot and it was fine. They tasted sort of like pepperoni flavored mushrooms. Not something I would pay a substantial amount of money to eat on a regular basis, but certainly not bad. Some of our desserts were delicious, some were so/so. Our waiter and waitress (Ioan from Romania & Ivana from Slovakia) were absolutely delightful! We would go back on the Ecstasy if only to see them again! :) Overall I was extremely impressed with the food in the dining area. We did leave a tip for our servers and the Maitre d' and Asst. It was nice to see so many people dressed up. A lot of people (on these forums) had the impression because it is a smaller, cheaper cruise that the people would dress down. They certainly didn't. I saw many very nice cocktail and evening dresses. More suits than tuxes though. The buffet is another story, with the exception of the day they had Indian food, the food was not very good. On the day they had Indian food I was only too happy to chow down on the chicken tikka. I could smell all the curry and being a person who craves curry I couldn't help myself! It was delicious. It seemed everything else on the buffet was seriously lacking. The cole slaw was good though. The deli guy was not grumpy or rude. I think he was more just straight to the point. I can see how he might put some people off though. We did not eat lunch or breakfast in the dining rooms with the exception of the last day. We ate sushi once and once was one time too many ... the person making the sushi made the rice very mushy and it was not very edible. We eat sushi quite a bit, so trust me on this one. Leave the sushi to people who are experienced at making it. Don't eat it on the ship. PUBLIC AREAS -- Everything was clean and in good shape. I must say, even for being on this ship for 5 days and it being a relatively small ship, it was still very hard to see everything this ship had to offer. I was pleased with the size of the ship and the public areas are nice. They had 2 hot tubs open on the ship almost the whole time ... one on the Lido deck and the other one at the back of the Verandah deck. A lot of people miss the aft pool and hot tub because they never go to the back of the ship and up the steps. :) We didn't use either pool or hot tub ... there was just too much to do and see. There was a kid's pool but I think it was closed the whole time because they were refinishing the inside of it. The magic show and comedian were all right. Not bad, but not outstanding. I missed Hey Mambo which is the show I really wanted to see. The Dream Voyage show was nice, but not my cup of tea. The casino was fun and entertaining for what it was. My hubby played blackjack well and we ended up with enough to tip everyone very well. They took a lot of pictures on the ship, but the photographers were not aggressive or rude if you said no, they just let you go on. That was nice especially considering how much we spent on pictures. *oye vey* The spa area was beautiful. Hubby and I had a couples massage and I have to say that it was a definite highlight of the cruise. They are not cheap ... without a discount it was $242 ... but they were giving $30 off on the last day so it came out to $212. The massage itself was very good. The girls were much more gentle than our massage therapist at home. They used very warm oil and used just the right amount of pressure where needed. The massage was finished off with a glass of orange juice and a nice hot shower. It was truly heaven, especially considering I was a little seasick the last day of the cruise. SERVICES -- Just a few words about the services ... we don't drink at all and ended up with almost $1100 on our sign & sail card. We bought some things in the gift shop, one shore excursion, some pictures and our massages. We also made 2 ship to shore phone calls. I learned my lesson on that one. They are $7 per minute and we had $100 in phone calls. *choke* DON'T CALL FROM THE SHIP. Do it in port. You'll break the bank if you don't. I had one experience with the pursers desk and it was handled promptly. We switched credit cards mid cruise and they had no problem at all. Just so you know, they do put a hold on your card and it is not removed until a few days after the cruise ends. Beware of that if you are expecting everything to be done immediately. Charges all take a few days. We did not have any problems with being charged for services we didn't use. Avinash from India was a great help and a lovely person to deal with. COZUMEL -- Cozumel was lovely ... we got off at the port and ran the gauntlet. :D The car rental places are in the mercado as you come off the ship. We rented a Jeep with a stick shift ... it came to about $95 USD after taxes with full coverage insurance. Just a note ... the absolute fastest speed limit on the island was 70 km per hour ... so watch your speedometer carefully. Most places are 60 or 40 km per hour. I drove out of the terminal area and south down the island to explore. We missed El Cedral which was really upsetting. I really wanted to see that ... so it's definite for the next trip. We drove around the southern tip and up the east side (wild side) of the island. The view is absolutely incredible. It's truly amazing that so little of the island is inhabited. We stopped at Mezcalito's for lunch and I had the super shrimp. It was delicious and the Mexican rice was great ... way better than the TexMex stuff up here. Then we took off and went west toward San Miguel and ended up at the San Gervasio ruins. Some people really shun these ruins saying there is not much there. They are wrong. I was absolutely surprised at actually how much ruins there are there and they are beautiful for what they are. If you get a chance please visit them. We finally left after about 1 1/2 of hiking around the ruins and went west into San Miguel and looked for the Cozumel Mini Golf. Finally found it and played a great 18 holes. Some are REALLY hard but the course is beautiful and refreshing and it is cheap. Not only that, they will give you walkie talkies and will bring you drinks on the course if you need them to. I HIGHLY recommend them. :) Don't fret over parking ... on the Calle 1 side there is parking behind a little shop that belongs to the mini golf. It is not well marked so you have to look carefully. We left there and went down toward the bayfront only to find out a lot of the bayfront street had been blocked off for Carnival. So I turned around, went back to one of the Avenidas and folled it down to Calle 11 which took me to the clear area of the bayfront street. I took that down toward toe cruise terminal. There is a lot of progress and what looks like rebuilding going on on the island. There was a HUGE catamaran on the bayfront was absolutely stunning to look at. We finally drove down and went past the cruise terminal to Playa San Francisco. This was really my only gripe. They start the hustle as soon as you arrive. Normally it doesn't bother me, but they were more aggressive than I am used to on the border towns here. They said a few things about the beaches next to them charging and a few things I knew weren't true so I just ignored it. A quick note here ... if you are from the south and used to warm water, take a wetsuit or a spring suit. The water is COLD compared to what I am used to. I would say the water was maybe 75 degrees tops. :( We did NOT swim and there were quite a few people there in wetsuits. Funny thing was, the locals we talked to thought the Americans were loco for going in water that even the Cozumelenos think is too cold in this part of the year. As someone who drives in Mexico frequently just across the Texas border, I cannot even begin to express to you how much easier it was driving in Cozumel. The people are friendly. The taxi drivers are way better and the roads are great! Everything was marked fairly well and we had no problem at all driving in rural areas and San Miguel. The island was FAR ... BY FAR cleaner than anything right on the border in Texas. I've heard quite a few people mention on these boards how they thought Cozumel was dirty, they must not have anything to compare it to. All I can say is it was a lot cleaner than some places I have seen in the USA. CALICA/PLAYA DEL CARMEN -- Quite a few people complain about the port. Get over it. It's a caliche pit. Big deal. I am of the opinion that lazy Americans (yes us) want to get off the ship and have everything handed to us. God forbid we have to pay a taxi driver to get anywhere. *extreme sarcasm* People, get real. That being said, we went to Xcaret. Loved it, so much to do and so little time to see it all. I loved all the wildlife and almost froze to death going down the underground river. Thank God for spring suits. :D You know the water is cold when a native Mexican jumps in and yells at the top of his lungs "Aye!!! Mi Cajones!!!". :D It is not an easy float like people seem to believe ... you do have to work at it, but it is beautiful! I can't say enough good things about this park. I was very disappointed that we had to leave before the evening show though. :( We were late pulling away from Calica because of something to do with a lady with a stroller. I am not sure if she had her documentation. I think they eventually let her on the ship, but I am not sure if her hubby made it on. As we sailed away we watched the ships on the horizon docked at Cozumel. It was a beautiful sight. OTHER PEOPLE'S CHILDREN -- *sigh* short rant ... forgive me. People, CONTROL YOUR KIDS. For the most part they were well behaved, but one group of boys on the ship were pains in the butt. They were riding up and down on the atrium elevators laying all over the floors and generally being a horse's patoot. Then, some kid decides to get in the elevator and as the door closes his friend tries to pull it open causing the doors to malfunction. So the elevator is stopped, the boy inside is crying the the stupid one on the outside has one foot against the wall and is trying to pry the doors open. Thankfully the hubby is a shipboard electrician and was able to keep the stupid one from having his fingers severed off between the doors. He finally got the kid loose from the door and then the doors shut and then opened again. What did the stupid one do? Jump in the elevator without so much as a thank you and head down and up and down and up in the elevator. *sigh*  The ship is not the mall nor even a babysitter. I am quite sure if your precious little darling had his fingers severed off you would have been trying to sue Carnival and it was your fault as an absentee parent. Someone needs to give you a good swift kick in the pants. DISEMBARKATION -- Disembarkation is a bit confusing. I did NOT want to get up before 7 a.m. That really sux (pardon me). In fact, if I could have I would have figured out a way to live on the ship. We had orange tags but we ended up going with the second group through customs because we didn't feel like getting out of bed. Everything was smooth. The line was short and we were through very quickly. We then went to breakfast. Don't eat the scrambled eggs. I think they are an egg substitute and in Texas, that is sacrilege. BLECH!!! Everything else at breakfast was very good. After we left there we went to the lounge. and were quickly called to get off the ship. It took maybe 15 mins and we were on the shuttle back to the cruise parking. Not bad at all! PARTING THOUGHTS -- Overall, it was a great first experience. I will do it again and we will go on this particular ship again. Note to Carnival ... you are sailing out of Texas, in the south where we know what real, fresh brewed iced tea tastes like. What in God's name were you thinking to use Nestea Tea Mix as your iced tea??? FIX IT ... PLEASE, before I have to start a mutiny!!! :D If you have any questions, please let me know and I will answer them best as I am able. I will post pics as soon as I get a webshots album up and I will post them to this thread as an update. I have pics of our cabin and "obstructed" balcony that should be of some use to some on the forum. Read Less
Sail Date February 2005
Arrival: We got in a day early and stayed at the Marriott in the BUSH (IAH) Airport. The rooms are nice and quiet. The help was very good and we even had dinner in the upper circle restaurant. The food was very good for what we were ... Read More
Arrival: We got in a day early and stayed at the Marriott in the BUSH (IAH) Airport. The rooms are nice and quiet. The help was very good and we even had dinner in the upper circle restaurant. The food was very good for what we were thinking. Steak and Fish was cooked to perfection. Day 1 of the Cruise - Galveston First thing I have to say is that thanks to L.J. at the Texas Cruise Ship Shuttle (281-443-4430) we had the most fun in an hour drive ever in my life. L.J. can tell you everything about Houston and then some. He also took us around Galveston as well. We had a very nice van with plenty of windows to look out. We talked like we were long lost friends. What a way to start a cruise! We were laughing and feeling so good. He is much cheaper than the cruise lines bus, he made the trip wonderful and we had not even got on the ship yet. If you are doing a cruise in Houston or Galveston, L.J. is your man to call! Well now comes the fun part. There was 3 ships in port at once. What a disaster but thanks again to L.J. our driver, even after showing us around Galveston to see some of the beautiful homes there, he got us within 50 ft of the terminal building. The line to get next to the terminal building was backed up for miles. After boarding we talked to our table mates who spent 2 hours in line to get finally onto the ship. But LJ was right on top of it and helped us right off the van. We did have to walk 50 ft to get to the building with all our luggage but this allowed us to get on the boat and walk around hours before many others. L J was our man of the hour. He even called us an hour later, after we had already got on board and was relaxing eating lunch to make sure everything was fine. Day 1 at Sea: Finally we set sail under gray skies. No big fan fare there but that night we started the rocking and rolling. No matter who I talked with I never got a sense of people complaining about the movement. All I have to say it was awful. We were on main deck very back of the boat on the center line. We were pitching up and down over a foot and swinging back and forth 15 degrees. Pictures were hanging out from the wall. Our dresser drawers slide up and closed as we rocked back and forth. Needless to say not much sleeping that night which cut into our fun the next day since we were so tired and out of it we slept until noon. Food in the Wind Song restaurant was good. Its better then the big restaurant chains but not 5 star by any means. I guess in my travels I have been to really great restaurants and Carnival is just not know for their food. It was good just not great or fantastic as you see in their commercials. If you want great food - Carnival is not for you. The food is good - their main concern is are you having fun drinking and gambling. The shows were good - not top notch talent. They make up for talent by being loud. We could hardly make out what the singers were saying as they were so loud. The show was a nice diversion from the rocking and the rolling of the boat. Get ready for being bombard on where to spend your money. Sign up for the credit card, go to the art auction, play bingo... all these pitches over and over. Don't they realize we have seen this all each time? Also be sure to get a drink card. If you drink water, ice tea or lemonade you can get that for free. Every other drink you are going to pay for. Its kind of bothered me in that they say its all included except when I want to drink something. Guess they really do want you drunk. The boat was nice and clean. Rooms small but comfortable. No problems with smells and such. Outside was another issue. They had these bands right next to the pool blaring and I mean blaring the music. I love to have background music but this was blasting. Try to lay in the sun and get some rest was totally out of the question. I got some sun and a headache. I had to leave the area it was so bad. Lido deck with their bar and grill was good food. Carl's Jr level food - it was good like any bar and grill would be. Inside they had a bit more fancier food. Not a hugh selection but some things nice. Day 2 Cozumel: We pulled into port and what a nice thing to be off and walking on solid ground. About half the people never even got off the boat. What a waste. The port is clean but you have to walk like a mile thru this special duty free shops - ok its only about 500 feet but seems so long. Right after this a nice place to shop - everything spotless and clean. Not like the real town. Spend and hour here if you wish but you really need to get out to see the sights. There are lots of excursions to do. You really should take one. Also I got one thing to say to Carnival phone operators. Please learn more about what the ship does and how it all works. They kind of messed up our excursions. Telling us that one was sold out when it was not. Thanks the the GREAT people on the boat they exchanged the excursion and FULLY refunded our money. YEAH! We took the 4x4 trip. We got to drive thru town with our guides Rrrrrrrod (yes I spelled it right - got to roll your R's) and Al. This was very interesting to see how people really lived. Exciting and safe at the same time. Then we made a short stop and finally did some real off roading including a very sandy stretch. We got shook up with our wonderful "Mexican massage" as our guides called it. Nothing hurting mind you just a lot of up and down and shaking. I am a big man (6'3") but drove ok and had no issues. My wife loved it and was laughing the whole time. If you are pregnant or have back issues you are not going to like this trip. We got to see a real Mayan ruin (most of the others you see are fake ones - not real at all). Got our picture taken and then got a bit of rain. Very fun! We then stopped on the beach to spend an hour. We took a walk, a swim, a hand made mexican lunch. It was all so very nice. Finally our trip back to the ship where we got some great night pictures. The only issue is that wish we had 2 more days since there is just to much to do. Other beaches and ruins to explore. The comedian at night was great. The Karaoke was a total blast. Loved the rules! Everyone claps - if you don't - you get to sing and the leader picks the song for you. Its very funny to hear the Old Spaghetti song done off key. There were a lot of great singers on board and a lot of drunks trying to be great singers. It was a great show. Midnight buffet was a disappointment. Again it was nice but I have seen better displays at hotels. It was nice but not top notch. Again Carnival is there for the "fun" not the food. Day 3: Calica The ship does move all night but there is only 10 miles between Cozumel and Calica. Where we go I don't know since we had fun in the evening. What a dump when you get up. You are parked at a rock pile. There is nothing outside like in Cozumel. Be sure to rent a taxi or one of the excursions since there is nothing else you can do. Here again Carnival made a mistake. We checked out their web site for excursions. We were looking forward to seeing actual Mayan ruins but online nothing was open. Again we got to the ship and low and behold they have some. Again the Excursion desk took care of us and exchanged our tickets to do what we had wanted from day one. Its just confusing when their web site says one thing and really its something else. But was very happy to go to Tulum. Here is the shortest day you have to be back on board by 3:30. Not much time to explore. You typically drive south where all the things are. On the bus excursion, you are forced to stop at the tourist trap to by trinkets. We were delayed by one couple buying something and they great fully waited 20 mins. We finally got to Tulum and WOW. It was fantastic. Right on the cliff over looking some beaches what a beautiful site. My wife and I took over 50 pictures here alone. What a piece of history and with the white beaches and blue waters you had some absolutely beautiful shots. We walked all over the place and had a great time. We even got back to see the Mayan pole dance. The bus was full of everyone ready to go back when we got the bus. We were the second to last to board only being 2 mins late. I could have stayed a few more hours at this beautiful place. The night entertainment was a sword swallowed and more comedy. Great show lots of fun. I even got a drink called a Mai Tai. My one drink of the year my wife and I share. Day 4: At sea on your way home. Again the night came but no stars. Cloudy all the way and again we got to rocking and rolling. It was funny to watch people walking hitting each side of the hallway. Yet they called this moderate to minor. Spent the day going to shows and eating. Stayed away from the Lido deck with the loud music again. There was no place to sit in the sun without having blaring music at you. Seems they thought we were all 20 something's looking for a great party. Well this cruise was full of old people 60+ and a lot of us middle agers. Even had 1-2 yr olds on board. This was a very mixed age group with most being over 60. The show again was loud but good. The only problem was to get a good seat had to get there when there were doing bingo. You have better odds of being thrown overboard and then saved by dolphins then winning this thing but a lot of people still tried. Most everyone did stay away from this. We then listened to Karaoke all night laughing with the singers since they were being thrown back and forth on the stage. We did however do a standing ovation for the song "Proud to be an American". Since this ship leaves from TX, you will find that 80% of the people on board are from TX. Just got to get used to them all talking funny y'all! HAHA! Day 5: Back at Galveston. They called their debark process - relaxed. What a total farce. We took our time - since our flight was not till 6 pm that night. Got dressed, strolled around, had breakfast. Even then we still had to stand in line for over an hour just to get thru Immigration. The line ran the whole ship. I mean from Aft to Forward. It was totally awful! We stood near the end of the line hoping it would go down but it did not for an hour. Finally we just gave up and got in line with everyone else. After getting to the Immigration guys (only 5 of them for the whole ship of 2,000 - no wonder it took so long) we got stamped and walked out. No more lines at least right out to our luggage and then out to the curb where we called our man LJ who drove right up with the van. We loaded up and got out of there to the airport. We had arranged to have a tour then but we decided to just get out of there. We were still feeling the effects of the sea sickness (we would still not recover until 3 days later) so we got on a flight early. Overall Impressions: If you want fun (meaning lots of drinking, gambling and loud music) around all the time - Carnival is for you. If you want great food and rich pampering - try another cruise lines. If you are susceptible to sea sickness - just fly down, don't waste your time on a cruise. Don't use Carnivals website to book your excursions. Do that as soon as you get on the boat - they have more choices there and the times so that you can determines which ones to do in the morning and which ones in the afternoon. If you are going on a cruise call in Galveston or Houston - call L J! Personally I am going to skip the cruising - I don't like being sea sick. I also could have used the days at Sea still exploring Cozumel and Calica! Read Less
Sail Date February 2005
Left Feb 6, 2005, and made our way onto the boat with minimal problems. I was a little anxious about losing my important papers, but all went well, and it was really quite easy. I went on the cruise with my sister. It was really chilly ... Read More
Left Feb 6, 2005, and made our way onto the boat with minimal problems. I was a little anxious about losing my important papers, but all went well, and it was really quite easy. I went on the cruise with my sister. It was really chilly the first morning, but people gravitated to the pool anyway! Not me!! I was walking around the deck in a jacket! The first day, our friend Dan, whom we first met right here at Cruise Critic, showed us around the ship, as he was a seasoned cruiser. That DID help so much, thanks Dan! Our one unfortunate experience was the room service and our invisible cabin steward. For the first five days, our room was cleaned TWICE. Yep, a whole two times. We complained and received a bottle of champagne. Unfortunately, the better service only lasted about a day. However, almost EVERYONE else told us their rooms were immaculate, so apparently it was just our deck. (Empress Deck). All other service was really nice. Our waiter was YoMan, and was a real hit with our table. Everyone at our table was really great. We have all exchanged emails and decidedly we loved the seating together with new people. The food for the most part was delicious. Sure there was a lot of seafood, and I assume there was a lot of Italian cuisine because the Elation's Captain is Italian. So I'm not a fan of seafood OR Italian. However, the other choices were really good. Don't forget ... if you don't like your first choice, get another one! If you want two appetizers instead of dinner, or everything on the menu, it is yours for the asking! Duke's Piano Bar was a real favorite of ours, and Johhny is an exceptional piano player. He really kept the place jumping, and the round piano bar was a lot of fun to sit at. The Disco, Jekyll and Hyde was another one of our favorites because of the loud music and dancing. Let me tell you, there is EVERY kind of dancer on the floor, and you just can't be shy about it! We spent a lot of time during the day sitting on the pool deck, and we met a LOT of fun people. Believe me, everyone lets their hair down and you almost never meet a cranky person on a cruise. People can get pretty crazy (self included) on a cruise. We did do one excursion, not through Carnival. We saw some smaller ruins called XCambo, which took about 30 minutes to get to from Progresso. We stayed for about fifteen minutes and proceeded on to the Playa Resort to hang out on a BEAUTIFUL beach. The weather was in probably the low 80's and the sea breeze kept us cool. All drinks were included, and we drank some, and also hung out to watch some serious shot drinkers. Now THAT was funny! The bartenders work their tails off to ensure a good time is had by all. I worried about taking this excursion, but we made it back in plenty of time to return to the ship. It cost 30 dollars, and was worth every penny. Everyone has to go to Senor Frogs and Carlos and Charlies. The atmosphere ought to be adopted in clubs in the States, (I hear there are a few of these bars in a few places in the US) but people cut loose and dance and clap and it really is catching, especially if you order the 'Yard." It's a really long Margarita, and it WILL kick your bootie. Finally, Belize is beautiful and I liked that I could use my Visa in some of the shops (all take US dollars). We ate at the Wet Lizard, and laughed continuously. (Try the Belize beer, mmm.) We ate the coconut shrimp and it was really tasty. Then we proceeded to go downstairs to the Iguana club for MORE tasty Belize Beer (2 bucks each) and laughed and had an AWESOME time. It was my favorite day, but I am too embarrassed to say why. (It involved Groucho Marx glasses and strategically placed coconuts on our persons ... that is ALL I will say, as I am now on several homemade videos ... gulp). All in all, there is NO WAY I couldn't book another cruise in the future, and the overall experience was incredible. Read Less
Sail Date February 2005
Cruise: Elation: out of Galveston, 2/20/05-2/27/05 Family: Husband age 43, Wife age 34 and 6months pregnant, and son age 3.5 Departure day: Parked at EZCruise Parking (on the web, $5 off for booking via their website) for $50 including ... Read More
Cruise: Elation: out of Galveston, 2/20/05-2/27/05 Family: Husband age 43, Wife age 34 and 6months pregnant, and son age 3.5 Departure day: Parked at EZCruise Parking (on the web, $5 off for booking via their website) for $50 including car cover. They bussed us right to the terminal. We arrived at the terminal about 3pm. We walked right into the luggage drop off and handed off 3 of our six bags. No problem. We went into the main terminal, up the stairs and started the screening etc process. My big carry-on (about a 25" model) fit through the xray machine just fine. The lines were not long at all and we were through the check-in process and pics taken and walking onto the ship by about 3:35. We went to our room and found it ready and waiting. It was nice sized, outside cabin, with a king sized bed made up and a pull down twin from the wall. Our nearly 4yr old was a bit daunted at the height (4' above the floor) so we did not use that bed at all. The room had ample storage, a desk/vanity w/ drawers, and a nice sized bath. There was room to walk on the window side of the bed (stepping over the big built-in lifejacket storage box) and around the foot of the bed (about 2.5') The shower was about 3.5' long with a removable shower head which allowed me to easily give the kidlet his showers with me in there with him. We had brought a 6-pack size cooler and our steward kept it pretty well stocked the whole trip allowing us to keep some juice, soda and water cool at all times. The stewards kept our room up nicely as well- we didn't get towel animals the last two nights though which disappointed our son. The stains on the carpets in the halls outside of all the staterooms are VERY noticeable. It was obviously a leak as it spreads from the interior cabin side about 3 / 4 across the hall. But the public areas are nicely kept. I didn't notice any smell in the hall except near a crew passage which sometimes smelled faintly of garbage (I'm guessing drifting up from below). We were in the dead middle of the ship (M152) and I was still going the wrong way until like day 4 of the cruise. The muster drill was boring but not overly painful. We went first to a lounge area. Our son was given a plastic bracelet (identifying muster station) to wear that he did NOT want to put on. We finally got it on him about 3hrs later. We then proceeded outside, wearing jackets, and stood for about 15min. Then it was over. We were supposed to sail at like 4pm, but due to some late flights we didn't leave port till almost 6:30. We tried the pizza and it was fine. The goat cheese pizza was really good. We had late (8pm) dining. We found the formal dining food to be good- about on par with your average fare at say a TGIFridays or similar. The appetizers were of laughable proportions (4 small shrimp on the shrimp cocktail). The salads were more decent sized. The entrEe main meat dish was mostly a decent size- 8oz salmon fillet, 10-12oz of steak etc. The quail/duck dish one night was very tiny though. The sides served with the entrees though were laughable, too. Literally one big bite of broccoli and a single small red potato or a 1/4c of rice artfully arranged. I ordered an entrEe + the vegetarian version one night just to get a decent amount of veggies. Kid meals were the usual. They served a fresh fruit cup which was nice as the only "veggie" they offered kids were French fries. The best meal was the second formal night (Friday). Dh had prawns and I had the salmon that night. The first formal night with the lobster- well the lobster was about as bland and boring as lobster could be. Dh didn't even eat it all. Our waiters were great and they really looked out for Joe. The water they served was excellent. The second night they started pouring me two glasses. The rear dining salon had really funky lighting that would dim and brighten at will. We ate breakfast every morning on the 10 floor, Lido deck, Tiffanys. It was the same every day (which got boring after 6 mornings). Eggs, pancakes or French toast, sausage links, bacon, ham, toast, bagels, eng muffins. Plus made to order omelets. (never got one of those) There were pastries, cold cereals, some coldcuts/cheese, plus honeydew and cantaloupe every morning. (never a different fruit which also got boring) Always juices, coffee, hot chocolate, reg milk, skim milk and chocolate milk. Plus the 24hr pizza and soft serve. Amazing how many folks ate ice cream at 8am. Breakfast got hopping about 9pm. We never ate bfast in the formal dining rooms. Oh- and the coffee was uniformly not very good and the water from the dispenser tasted of plastic hose. (I drink a LOT of water- be smart and get the water from the beverage girls with the cart- it's much better quality.) Lunch was more hit and miss. Ate in the formal dining room once. I got mine to-go as the kidlet needed a nap and got cranky. I had CA roll for an appetizer (nasty rice, but the crab was real) and then a yummy shrimp salad on sun-dried tomato baguette. Dh ate lunch in Tiffanys several times and said it was good. I ended up at the grill on the Lido deck which served burgers, some sort of "sloppy joe meat", hot dogs, veggie burgers etc. They were decent quality, the potato salad and coleslaw and fries were tasty, too. Other impressions about the ship etc: it moved more than I thought it would. If you think you might have issues with motion sickness be prepared. (we don't have those troubles) It was very noticeable at time and would even throw off your balance as you were walking. (and our weather was great, btw) The gift shops were nice. Got a couple of cool toys for the kidlet and some misc stuff. Some of the T-shirts/sweatshirts etc do go half price the last day so hold off on those purchases till then. The daily drink specials were decent $2.95 with a nice kick. (I sipped on my husband's drinks so I could try them out.) Lots of opportunities for formal pictures and a fair amount of ambushing you for pics, too. Grin and bear it- you don't have to buy any of them. (the formal shots are $20 for an 8x10, the smaller ones are about $8) The layout of the ship is pretty confusing- there is a great map at the information/purser's desk (7 floor atrium) but the little maps they give you when you get on board aren't very helpful. There are several laundries with irons and soap/softener for you to buy. The washer/dryers are like $2 each. The main pool/hot tubs are very busy. Try the hot tubs/pool on the rear upper deck above Tiffanys. Much less crowded. The water in the pools is salt and at least for us was pretty chilly. The kidlet didn't mind, but I did. LOL. The hot tubs are nice and warm. I had a fancy dessert cake at the Musical Lounge one night- a bargain at only $2 for a big slice. Their dessert prices are very reasonable. The cappuccino etc is more expensive. I had one on Saturday morning as a treat- got the grande with a shot of syrup for $4.25 total and when I picked it up it was half foam. I complained and the girl looked at me like I had a third eye and said it was cappuccino. I agreed, but said that doesn't mean that it's half foam. I had her take the foam off and there was literally only a half cup of coffee there. I asked the pursers desk to take it off my card and they did. We didn't do the casino or the lounges etc so I won't report on those only to say that they appear nice. The library smelled strongly of stale cigarette smoke- maybe it used to be a smoking lounge? We went to the Friday night show in the Mikado. Had the daily drink special there and the "las vegas" style show was entertaining. The kidlet highly approved. Ordered room service once. The portions were small so if you're hungry order two of something. Got it in about 15min or so (ordered it around 6pm) and tipped the server $1.50. Internet cafe is 75cents a minutes. They offer a few deals (Monday and Saturday I think) where you spend 10min on line or more and get 5min credited back to your account. The packages are like 100min for $50. Ouch. Saw internet at each of our ports except Belize for like $1-2/hour. The gym was decent- but not many classes and at $10 a pop, they're pricey, too. Plus the workout room was HOT. The spa seemed nice and they had good specials- especially Saturday with a 25min facial for $30. Ports: Progresso We took the shuttle bus about 9:30 into the town. Do not walk. There is a nice selection of tourist stores right off the boat. We bought a tour from the shuttle operators to go to the colonial city of Merida. $25/person and kidlet was free. (the cost through the ship was about $40/person) We took the small double decker bus tour for $2 first. The town in authentic Mexico and for all those who don't know that means pretty poor housing etc off the beach and some beggars and semi-aggressive vendors. The beach is decent and there were plenty of restaurants and shops right there at the beach (3blocks from where the bus drops you off). The tour to Merida started about 10:30. It was about a 30min drive while the guide talked about the region. The outskirts of the town are filled with familiar sights- Costco, Sams, Burger King, car dealers etc. But inside, the town is quite nice, lovely architecture. They showed us through some of the nicer neighborhoods, stopped at a monument that was done in Aztec/Mayan style (policeman to stop the traffic for us to cross), and then dropped us off for 1hr10min at the town square. The church is really nice 1700s and stark, European styling (not gaudy like many Mexican churches). There were some vendors in the central square with hammocks, misc crap and such. I saw some lovely clothing boutiques that I didn't get to go to (with kidlet in tow) that showed beautiful, natural/linen/cotton looking dresses and tops. There was one place in the square which had similar items and I was quoted $20 for a top. Some places want pesos so I changed over $10 at a "farmacia" for some sodas- saying "cambio en pesos okay" (change in pesos okay) and was able to buy my son a small toy at a local five/dime place. The vendors got more aggressive as we headed back to the bus. Oh- and I got a yummy mango sorbet for 20pesos ($2) at a store on the square. We then headed back to Progresso, pausing for a few more sights and were dropped off at the terminal at 1:30pm. (the ship left at 3pm) I bought a magnet and a few little similar items and we got back on board and took the kidlet to play in the kiddie pool as we waited to leave port. Port: Cozumel We had originally wanted to do the Nochi Cocum resort that I found here, but just couldn't get it organized in time so decided to go to Paradise Beach instead. I had hoped to get dh/kidlet on the submarine first, hoping for cheaper rates off the boat- but it just didn't work out- there weren't anyone selling tickets for it at the terminal. Saw one place "el cicuid" or something like that, a resort that was giving away their place for the day with a free ride. I was afraid it would be a time-share sort of thing once we got there so we didn't do that either. The terminal forces you through this collection of stores with lots of vendors trying to get you to come into their stores. Carlos/Charlies and Senor Frogs are RIGHT there though. We took a taxi for $13 to Paradise Beach. It was about 8miles outside of the city. The ride wasn't very harrowing to me at least although we almost creamed a moped on the way back in. (it was the mopeds fault) Paradise beach was very nice- with a resident pelican or two posing for pics on an old statue in the water. Dh got the wristband, but never used it. We had excellent guacamole, I had a fish sandwich, dh had a fancy quesadilla, kidlet had chicken tenders, plus a margarita (good) and a few sodas and waters. Total bill was $47 and I tipped our waiter like $8. We were there for about 4.5hours. Plenty of lounge chairs, umbrellas, some hammocks. Bought a few shirts- polo and long sleeve tees for $20 a piece. Said hello to Paradise Tom as he walked through the beach meeting everyone. Changing rooms were nice and right there as well- also bought kidlet some sandtoys (at the vendor there) for >gulp< $10, but it kept him happy. The vendor had a little bit of everything- even Mexican boyfriends, the man were as, lol! There was hair braiding, massages, and airbrushed tattoos right their, too. Taxis were waiting to take us back to the terminal so for another $13 we were back and walked onto the ship with no issues. Port: Belize City Let me just say, I TOTALLY LOVED BELIZE. Okay, now on to the business of the report. We booked on-line through Coral Breeze tours with Paul. I sent dh on a cave tubing tour for like $60 or something including lunch and kidlet and I went on the ray/shark/snorkeling tour for like $90 for both including lunch. We went to the lounge at like 8am-ish to pick up a tender ticket. It was a bit confusing, but not horrible. Carnival needs to organize this better though. We got on tender 2 (instead of 1). It seemed like it was taking a long time to get the ship tours off the boat so we didn't get called until about 9:45. The tender ride was about 20min in. We got off and asked for directions to Coral Breeze. They were just a few steps away, but didn't have a sign which "could" have made it harder to find them. We settled up (cash only) and dh went on his tour and kidlet and I got on their boat and off we went- there were about 8 folks in dh's tour and about 12 in ours. It was about 25min to Caye Caulker (pronounced Key Caulker). They picked up masks for us and bait for the sharks/rays. Then about 8min to the snorkeling site. Most everyone got off (kidlet and I stayed on board) and snorkeled around the reef area for about 40min or so. I jumped in the water and it was cool, but not uncomfortable. Then we went like 3min in the other direction once everyone was back on board and then they started throwing bits of fish overboard. The nurse sharks were about 4' in size and would come right up and "pop" the surface as they sucked in the bits of fish. Kidlet was delighted with this. Coaxed him onto me in the water and we watched the rays. The tour guides brought up several rays so we could easily pet them. The tour guides/helpers etc were very pleasant, friendly and really did their best to reassure my son, help him on/off the boat and watched him for a few minutes so I could get my head in the water and see the rays swimming around. We then went to lunch on Caye Caulker (tasty) and enjoyed about 1hr15min on this little island. Perfect little "Caribbean" fishing village- just like you imagine you'll find. A few trucks etc but most people drive golf carts, bikes or just walk. It's that small. Then 25min back on the boat to Belize City. Kidlet and I walked around a bit, I got him a shark tee shirt, me a tee shirt ($26 total) and a nice polo ($20) for dh. Then we stood in line for the tender back to the ship- that took about 20min. Dh got back to the ship right about 4:10 (departing at 4:30 supposedly- he too stood in line for about 20min to get back on board). He totally enjoyed his tour too. He recommended using old beat up shoes vs the water shoes since it is quite a hike to the river. He said his lunch was really good and AYCE, too. We highly recommend Coral Breeze and we saved like $60 booking through them vs on the ship- oh, and the ship tours that dh saw? Had like 40+ people in a group where there was only 8 in his. Then there were two days at sea to get back to Galveston which when you have a kidlet is really 1day too long- resting is not in a 3.5yr olds vocabulary. He did spend 2 dinners with camp carnival and a few hours here and there with them, too- but overall he wanted to be with us and I was prepared for that. The camp was nice- friendly teachers. It wasn't terribly crowded (about 15-20 2-5yr olds) most of the time. They give you beepers to wear. Debarkation We did the "self-assist" where we carried our own luggage off the ship. We were called to immigration about 7:30. It was a BIG line, but moved quickly- like less than 15min. We then went to the Mikado theater about 8:30 and waited. We never heard them call for self-assist so I'd go when they call for those people who have early connecting flights. As it was, we went and stood in the debarkation line about 9:15 and it was very crowded and "cattle-pen feeling" as you go down stairs etc. They check your customs sheet as you leave the ship and then it's better. Beware the fast moving escalator at the terminal. Kidlet tripped and a nice terminal agent hopped right on and helped him down the rest of the way. (another big thank you to that kind man as both dh and I had lots of luggage and were struggling to reach him) We walked more/less right up to customs, breezed through and then we had to make it through the gauntlet of folks trying to get on busses to go to the airport. Dh got "yelled" at by one woman who thought he was trying to cut in line, but we made it through to the EZ park station (nicely marked once you get there, it's at the end). They put us right on and we were back at our car by 10:30 so just a little over an hour to get off the ship and to our car. Wasn't too bad, just CROWDED. I'd seriously not want a flight out of Houston before 2pm though so you wouldn't freak about the possibility of missing your flight though. Overall, I'd give Carnival/Elation a B, Progresso/Merida a B-, Cozumel a B, and Belize an A. My complaints on the comment card were: need better maps to the ships layout, need more fruit/veggie offerings, and need a better side chair in the cabins. They're just wooden chairs with a small padded seat. Not comfy. We spent about $400 on our sail/sign card and that included the $210 for gratuities. I also bought about $80 worth of stuff in the gift store. The rest was for about 10 drinks, internet time, and pictures. I took $400 with us. We spent about $240 of it on tours, food/drink, trinkets etc off the ship. We weren't really on a budget, but I don't buy a lot of touristy stuff, either and since I'm not drinking (due to pregnancy) and dh doesn't want to drink alone, that saved us quite a bit, too. Feel free to email me with questions. Read Less
Sail Date February 2005
Our first ever cruise was on the Elation, and it was very nice. We thought the ship was very elegant and the food mostly outstanding except for the steak dishes. The service was great in the dining room, and the housekeeping staff was ... Read More
Our first ever cruise was on the Elation, and it was very nice. We thought the ship was very elegant and the food mostly outstanding except for the steak dishes. The service was great in the dining room, and the housekeeping staff was very friendly. Our dinner companions were very nice people, but overall we were surprised by how much drinking there was on the Elation. It occurred to me that I'd rather have people drink to excess on a cruise ship than anyplace where driving might be involved, but it still was slightly eye-opening. People boarded the ship shouting "where're the drinks!" and people brought their umbrella-embellished beverages with them to the safety drill despite being told they weren't allowed to do so. The very funny and helpful cruise director warned passengers not to drink so much in Cozumel that they had to be brought back in wheelchairs. People laughed and thought she was kidding, but she wasn't! Besides the cruise director, the shopping expert, Kaylene, was so helpful and friendly, and the entertainment staff also made sure we had a lot of fun. Though the rockiness of the ship and noise and vibration made it difficult to sleep every night, I enjoyed the Elation thoroughly. Read Less
Sail Date February 2005
Carnival Ecstasy January 20-24, 2005 Cozumel, Mexico We were a group of 20 ladies sailing together. This was my first Carnival cruise, with my previous cruises being Alaska on the Celebrity Galaxy (July, 2000), Western Caribbean on the ... Read More
Carnival Ecstasy January 20-24, 2005 Cozumel, Mexico We were a group of 20 ladies sailing together. This was my first Carnival cruise, with my previous cruises being Alaska on the Celebrity Galaxy (July, 2000), Western Caribbean on the Celebrity Millennium (December, 2000) and Alaska on the Sun Princess (July, 2001). Arrival/Embarkation -- I flew from Dallas to Hobby, arriving at 8:30 a.m. I caught the 9:30 departure of Galveston Limo ($30.00) and was at the pier at 10:15. I was one of the first ten people there. We were allowed through security and check-in at about 11. My 21" roll-aboard and large tote bag fit through the machine with no problem (very similar to security at the airport). I presented my Fun Pass to the attendant, who did not look at it, but just laid it aside. I then waited another 45 minutes and was finally let on the ship at about 11:45. It would appear that 11:30 would be the ideal time to arrive for quick check-in and immediate access to the ship. When I embarked, I was asked to go to the Lido Deck until 1:00 p.m. I went to my room instead to drop off my bags. No problem, as all the rooms were already ready. Rooms -- We were in M95, an inside cabin on the Main Deck. The beds were very comfortable and were covered with comfy white duvets that were a pleasure to sleep under. There was ample storage and closet space. There was also a good amount of storage for toiletries behind the mirrors in the bathroom, and the shower was spacious and had a removable shower head. The towels were big and fluffy and appeared to be brand new. We did not have a refrigerator, but our room steward brought us fresh ice twice daily. The TV had only minimal channels and there were no in-room movies, and voice mail would have been nice, because our group was so large. Other than that, I have no complaints about the room. The Ship -- The ship is decorated with loud, neon, Day-Glo colors reminding one of Las Vegas, but the idea works, and it was not unpleasant to look at. I didn't even mind the Panorama Restaurant (Lido buffet), which was done in pale turquoise and kind of "glowed" in the evening. I thought the layout and size of the ship was excellent and that almost every amenity one could wish for was offered. Several areas of note are: Spa Carnival -- This area has recently been completely redone and is beautiful. There are treatment rooms, a steam room and sauna, a beauty salon, exercise rooms and a full gym with windows that face the front of the ship. Elemis products are offered for sale. Blue Sapphire Lounge -- This room is horrible. This is the main showroom and the sightlines are so poor, only about 10-15% of the seats offer a decent view of the stage. This room could benefit from a complete redo, as so many different activities go on here every day. Rolls Royce Cafe/Internet Lounge -- The computer stations are located along City Lights Boulevard, the main thoroughfare that passes by most of the clubs and the casino. The computers are new, fast and very user friendly. There is an attendant there at certain hours, and it never seemed too busy. The Rolls Royce Cafe (coffee bar) is situated right next to the Internet Lounge. There is a charge for the coffee and pastries that are served there. Starlight Lounge -- This large lounge at the back of the ship was empty most of the time. Some evenings a live band played there and six or eight people might be in there dancing. I think a ship of this size merits a second major show lounge like this, and that Carnival should endeavor to fill it with major acts or shows that will attract a larger portion of the guests onboard. Verandah Pool Area -- This area is at the back of the ship one level higher than the Main Lido Pool. It was never very crowded and is a good place to sunbathe or spend time in the hot tubs. Food -- I thought the food overall was very good. Everything we had in the dining room was deliciously prepared and presented -- lobster, filet mignon, duckling just to name a few. The service was impeccable and we enjoyed our servers, Alex from Romania and Vera from Estonia. Breakfast and luncheon in the dining room were also first rate. The Lido Buffet, on the other hand, leaves a lot to be desired. Most of the "regular buffet line" food was unappetizing looking and tasteless. There were a few areas of the buffet that were standouts, however. The pizza/Caesar salad area in the back (open 24/7) was delicious, as was the deli, which offered eight or 10 different hot or cold made-to-order sandwiches. The hot dogs and hamburgers were also good. Entertainment -- We saw the two major production shows; they were both well choreographed and enjoyable. Great costuming! We also saw both comedians and they were very good (when the ship docks in Cozumel next to the Sensation, the comedians switch ships, so we benefited from getting to see both of them). The late night R-rated comedy shows are very funny, too. One stand-out of this cruise was our cruise director, Larry Galutzo. He is a bonafide entertainer -- a singer, musician and stand-up comedian who plays venues like the House of Blues at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas when he is not sailing. He was visible all the time, and we looked forward to seeing and hearing him. Casino Blackjack -- Blackjack variations included "Fun 21" and "Face-Up" blackjack, popular presumably because those were the games that offered the $5.00 minimum bets, whereas the "traditional" blackjack tables offered a minimum bet of $10.00. The rules of these games varied in minor ways, and if I had to make a guess, I would surmise that any edge that the player may have is taken away by the variation in the rules, thus giving the casino a bigger profit. I am not a heavy gambler, but I do like to play blackjack for a few hours occasionally and I will not take my knowledge of basic strategy and years of practice and experience and throw them away on a variation of blackjack with which I am unfamiliar. Thus, the low-stakes, knowledgeable player is shut out of the blackjack tables on this ship. I am a pretty easy-going traveler, but this system really rubbed me the wrong way. Demographics -- The ship was full, including 500 persons traveling on the annual "Elvis" cruise. I would have like to have attended some of the festivities, but they were not advertised in the daily Capers, and a special ID was required for entrance to them. The one noticeably absent group on the ship was children. I am guessing there were maybe 20 grade school children onboard, and even fewer teens. There were also very few college-aged folks. Most of the guests were Texans -- no surprise -- and everyone was friendly and fun to be around. Cozumel -- We took an eight passenger van to Paradise Beach where we spent a very enjoyable couple of hours sunning, etc. They offer massages right on the beach for $1.00 per minute, although we didn't have time for this. I had a virgin Pina Colada, which was very good. The restrooms and changing rooms were very clean, and I would recommend this beach to anyone. We next took a couple of cabs downtown and ate lunch at Carlos and Charlie's. We were one of only two cruise ships in port on this day, so the area was not at all crowded. We secured a table for 16 with no wait. Lunch was delicious, and I can't remember the last time I did the chicken dance while standing on top of a table! One disappointment, however, was my frozen margarita. It was delicious, to be sure, but appeared to have little or no alcohol in it. I have a very low tolerance for alcohol, and I felt virtually nothing from this drink. This was most disappointing, considering everything I've heard regarding their drinks. Had I been a 25-year-old man, would they have made sure they put the proper amount of alcohol in the drink? Who knows. This was no big deal, although worth mentioning. Weather -- Our weather on embarkation day, our first sea day and in Cozumel was perfect! We couldn't have asked for anything better. Early in the morning of our last sea day though, a cold front blew in and things turned nasty. The ship was really rocking and rolling and I lost the better part of the day to seasickness and spent a good part of the afternoon in my room. This was not an unusual occurrence, as many people on the ship were ill. This, of course, is a normal aspect of cruising, except that on debarkation morning, there was talk of one of the stabilizers not being operational. This could have just been a "ship rumor," but apparently, someone saw the stabilizer-in-question actually sticking up out of the water and visible. The ship docked and seven hours later, sailed again with 2,000 new passengers. Was the stabilizer repaired during this time? I certainly hope so, but don't really know how big of a job that is. Debarkation -- Non-U.S. citizens disembark first, then self-assist (those carrying all their own bags), then color-by-color. If you want to change your color to disembark earlier, that is fine, too. We were looking to get off the ship near the end so our group could sleep a little bit longer and eat breakfast together one last time. We started through customs a few minutes before 10 and were off the ship a little before 10:30. I arrived at Hobby at noon. We had a great time on this cruise and I was pleasantly surprised by the Ecstasy. The ship was clean and was being cleaned all the time. The service personnel were always smiling and ready to help. Don't hesitate to take this cruise. It was a keeper and I look forward to sailing on the Ecstasy again. Read Less
Sail Date January 2005
We sailed January 16, 2005, and are very sad to be home. We had a great time and the ship is beautiful. There are some water stains on the carpet and a few worn places but the ship is very clean. We saw people cleaning at all hours of the ... Read More
We sailed January 16, 2005, and are very sad to be home. We had a great time and the ship is beautiful. There are some water stains on the carpet and a few worn places but the ship is very clean. We saw people cleaning at all hours of the day and night. Galveston -- We arrived the day before and stayed at the Holiday Inn on the Beach -- very friendly and helpful staff -- highly recommended! Free parking at the hotel for your cruise and a free shuttle to the pier. Embarkation -- Went smooth -- not much to say about that. Monday -- Sea day -- all we did was eat and eat and eat :) Sea was very rough and the boat swayed a lot but no one got sick or even felt sick -- started taking Bonine the morning before my cruise -- worked perfect. Tuesday -- Progresso -- Did the ship tour for Chichen Itza -- $77 per person and so worth it. It was amazing! Bus ride not that bad -- time flies because you are being informed of the Mayan culture on the way there. Right before you get to the ruins they stop at a little shopping area for a 15 minute break -- Haggle with the prices -- they will come down. The ruins were unbelievable -- you have to do the tour -- do not think about the drive just think about the history that you will see. We got back to the pier with plenty of time to spare. Wednesday -- Cozumel -- This was the prettiest day we had -- Sunny and warm but not hot. Went shopping for a few hours in the morning and took a cab to Paradise Beach -- Loved It!! See review on Cozumel board. Thursday -- Belize -- This was the highlight of our trip -- nice weather and friendly people. Read Belize board for more. Friday and Saturday -- Sea days -- Sunbathed and ate and ate and ate! Food was good and we loved our dining room waiters -- Manuel and Alex! They treated us like royalty! Overall I had a great time -- next cruise will either be Hawaii or the Eastern Caribbean! Read Less
Sail Date January 2005
Sailed on the Elation leaving Galveston Jan. 23-30. This was my 6th cruise and I'm 44 yrs old. Took my girlfriend. Embarkation was no problem, arrived at pier about 10:45 a.m. It took about an hour to get on. The weather was about ... Read More
Sailed on the Elation leaving Galveston Jan. 23-30. This was my 6th cruise and I'm 44 yrs old. Took my girlfriend. Embarkation was no problem, arrived at pier about 10:45 a.m. It took about an hour to get on. The weather was about 40 degrees so there was basically no sailaway party. Just a few brave souls on the Lido deck. The NFL conference championships were on TV that afternoon but Carnival personnel insisted they could not receive the game. After tweaking the TV in the Cole Porter lounge another passenger and I managed to get a sorry picture on a FOX station out of Houston. This was enough to start our own impromptu sailaway watching party. Carnival wasn't smart enough to open the bar in the Cole Porter lounge to serve drinks and no one wanted to get up and lose there seats. Many people complained. Their monetary loss. The ship overall was in good shape. Picked a good week as far as no children running wild. The few that were aboard were well behaved. If fact the public areas were never crowded at all compared to other ships I'd been on. The only time it even got crowded was when everyone was going to dinner or a show had ended. Plenty of areas to find peace and quite to sit and cruise. Food was the standard cruise fare. I personally can't tell the difference from RCI and Carnival when it comes to food. Though I'm not a picking eater. Progresso is a dump. Typical south of the border town with obnoxious locals trying to sell you everything and anything. The pier is approx. 4 miles long so you have take a free shuttle into town. These are run by tour excursion companies and at the end of the ride to town they try to sell you an excursion and ask for a small tip. No big deal. We didn't take a tour because my girlfriend had never been to Mexico so I wanted her to see how it really is. Needless to say she wasn't impressed and we were back on the ship in about an hour. I didn't hear anyone who took tours say anything spectacular about what they did. Progresso needs much improvement as a port of call. We rented mopeds in Cozumel for $35 (all day) and had a blast riding the perimeter road around the island. Once you leave town there is very little traffic and some really nice beaches and bars to stop at. Paradise beach is really nice. If you don't want to rent a moped and are looking for a nice FREE beach to hang out for the day, this is the place. It is well groomed with a least 100 chairs available. The day we were there, there was only about 2 dozen people. They have a rock climbing wall and trampoline in the water along with a trampoline on the beach. This place is very nice with several large bar areas and very clean restroom. Once again it is totally FREE all they want is your bar business. In Belize City all we did is change boats and went to a small key called Caulker Caye. We booked a shark/ray snorkel tour through Coral Breeze Limited online. What a fantastic trip. Much better than the Carnival shark/ray tour. For one, it is cheaper at $68. Carnival goes toward San Pedro and so do a million others. There were 25 of us on the reef off of Caulker Caye and not another boat. We had the reef to ourselves. Got to snorkel with about 10-12 4-6 ft. nurse sharks and many, many large stingrays. I've done Stingray City in Grand Cayman twice and this blows that away. Had lunch on the Caye and then rented a golf cart for $10 to cruise around before going back to the ship. There are no automobiles basically on Caulker Caye so golf cart or bicycle is the mode of transportation. It is about a 45 minute boat ride from Belize City where the tender drops you off to Caulker Caye. The next two days at sea were warmer and people actually came out and went to the pool. A word about formal nights. What formal nights? On the Monday night I counted about 12 to 15 men wearing tuxes including myself ON THE WHOLE SHIP. Even though Carnival had signs stating proper dress was required in the dining room it was not enforced. I saw everything on formal night. A gentleman in a tux shirt with blue jeans and flip-flops. My last 4 cruises were on RCI and everyone dressed appropriately for the most part. Men wore mainly dark suits. Friday night's formal there were a few more dressed in tuxes. I guess they could only afford the rental for one of the nights or only own one tux shirt. I think they ought to just ditch the formal nights. Very few take part. In fact I think the only reason they have it is to sell the portraits that many pose for including myself. $20 for an 8X10. For you drinkers. Smuggle your own alcohol aboard. I took a case of beer on. 3 six packs in the luggage and 1 in my carry on. I've always done this. They don't even look. You don't have to buy 4 bottles of mouthwash, dump it out and then put your Vodka in them. Beers are about $4 and drinks this much and more. We went to 3 shows. Nothing spectacular here either. You've seen one, you've seen them all. Although the R-rated comedians at midnight were pretty good if you can tolerate foul language. I had the second to the last room on the lowest deck toward the bow, port side. You get a lot of movement down there when the seas are rough but no noise from the hallway since no one except the cabin steward goes that far up front. The only bad thing is it is right above the bow thrusters and when they cranked them up it vibrates the whole room terribly. Luckily we were early risers and it didn't really bother us while the ship was pulling in and leaving ports. Got this cruse through an auction site for $350.50 per person taxes, title and license so it was a great, great deal for us and anything I didn't like was offset by this fact. Would definitely go again. 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Sail Date January 2005
Elation Cruise, January 23, 2005-January 30, 2005 First some info about me and my husband. We are from Nebraska and live on a small farm. I am a Registered Nurse and he works for a packing house in upper management. We have traveled for ... Read More
Elation Cruise, January 23, 2005-January 30, 2005 First some info about me and my husband. We are from Nebraska and live on a small farm. I am a Registered Nurse and he works for a packing house in upper management. We have traveled for business and pleasure. Pleasure includes NASCAR races and camping and fishing. Business includes both coasts, fancy restaurants and high-end hotels. We prefer simpler things, like Super 8 and Denny's. (The reason I am giving you so much info is I wish I would have read a review from someone like us.) This was a trip to celebrate our 10th anniversary. I was worried he would not like it and he ended up enjoying it more than I did. Found out cabin number before our documents arrived. We did not take liquor, was planning to, but hubby was sick all week and my time to pack/conceal and deliver dog and child to sitter was too short. Our trip was a group booking and we did not know any of the other cruisers. When we got to know some of them, they were a blast, and made the trip even better. To Galveston: We left Omaha at 6 a.m. to Dallas and then arriving in Houston at 11:30. A charter bus picked us up at the airport and delivered us to the pier at 12:30. The driver was wonderful, telling us some Galveston history and general information. We had to wait approx. 20 minutes to unload as there were several charter buses dropping off cruisers. A porter took our large luggage and we kept the carry-on stuff. The terminal was a zoo, but everyone seemed to make their way to checking in somewhat quickly. Terminal: First a set of stairs, then a line, long, but moves quickly, not standing in one spot more than 5 seconds. Send bags through x-ray, walk through scanner. Walk to check-in and get sign and sail, walk to another line and get picture taken. Walk to another line and get security pic taken (not a good pic, you have to look down and all the chins show!). Walk to another line to get on ship! We were on board about 1 p.m. so it was about 30 minutes from bus to ship, not bad, as big as the crowd was, I was expecting longer. Cabin: Empress 243, inside. We were able to go to our cabin right away. You enter the ship on the Empress Deck (level 7) into the atrium. Very beautiful! Our cabin trim, doors and whole deck was an '80s orange color. Other decks had a blue theme. The cabin was about the size of a smaller hotel room and the bathroom was as big as some hotels I've been in. Watch out for that threshold. Stubbed my toe several times the first day! Also very clean, no mold, water stains or yuck like some hotels I've been to. Tiles were tasteful and low key unlike room carpet and art. Beds were twins pushed together to make a king. Pillows and bed were very comfy and I slept like a baby to the rocking of the boat. You could hear the low rumble of the engines and nothing else. No neighbor noise whatsoever. Best sleep I have gotten away from home ever. Met our room steward and saw him in the halls every so often. He did an excellent job cleaning, only got to turn down the bed 3 times, we sacked out early most nights. TV stations included ABC, CBS, CNN, Animal Planet, Discovery Channel, a music video channel, Boomerang, Cartoon Network, three movie channels with different movies every day and 2-3 channels from the ship (replaying games and informational meetings). Water tasted fine and my hair looked better than using my water at home! Only thing I would change is to get an outside room. No windows got to me after 3 days. I wished Carnival would have a deck cam so you could see where you were and what the weather was. Food: Better than Denny's ;-) We did not eat in the dining room or attend any formal nights. (Don't flame me for this.) We did not want to spend our vacation doing something we were not comfortable with (formal). Tiffany's, the Lido deck grill, room service and the 24-hour pizza bar got our business for all three meals and several snacks. Tiffany's had all sorts of international selections, (different country every day) for lunch and dinner. Tried many new things and made pigs of ourselves. Desserts were to die for. Lido deck grill was hamburgers, hot dogs and fries. Good quality food, but I'm sure the upper crust avoided this area. Entertainment: Didn't attend many shows, just comedian Marvin Bell and singer Jessie Lopez and his Vegas style show. Both were good. Played the slots at the casino a lot, had to visit my money at the casino, I did not win a thing. Attended many of the entertaining Lido deck and Mikado lounge games involving cruisers. Bingo was also fun to watch. Lido deck band, Impulse, was good. We were in bed by 9 p.m. and up by 5 a.m. Watching sunrises and docking was more important than staying out all night for us. Plus this was our second honeymoon ... you know what we had to do. We also enjoyed watching the sunset and looking at the water and new places we've never been. We also spent a lot of time sunning on the deck and relaxing. This is also the first time I did not worry about my extra 30 lbs. I wore my swimsuit without shame or regret. I saw all shapes and sizes and very few "Models" on board. First day at sea: Kinda rough waters, 9 foot swells and I was a little nauseous. It took a while to get used to. I used Bonine and ginger pills in the a.m. and that seemed to help. Attended the shopping talk and talk about excursions. Very informative. Learned to carry a jacket. Indoors was much colder than outdoors and I was chilly all the time. I wish I would've brought nice running pants or jeans. All I had was shorts and khakis. PORTS: Disembarking was not a problem, all went smooth and orderly. Progresso: Very looooong pier. Shops and bar/beach area near the ship were best prices of whole trip. We did the Dziblchaltun ruins tour for 3 1/2 hours. Mayan guides were awesome and very proud of their heritage. Met on the pier with several other groups. We had two buses for this tour and one guide, Jorge spoke during the 20" trip to the ruins, telling history and facts. Dario, his brother gave the talk during the tour of the museum and ruins. The cenote was beautiful and many took a swim. The museum was well done and the first part of the tour. They really encourage you to buy jewelry with your name spelled in Mayan alphabet and a Mayan book from the Mayan people and not from the Museum gift shop run by "rich people." The profits were supposedly going to build schools for Mayan children. This was the only thing that bothered me. Cozumel: The pier: Punta Langosta. 5 ships in port that day and the pier was very crowded with all of the independent tour operators and cruisers. Another Carnival ship docked at Punta Maya. We were next to an NCL ship. Had to walk up stairs into a shopping area where many vendors were trying hard to sell their goods. The street next to the pier was under construction, so you were funneled past many other shops you normally would not have seen. At the other end of the shopping center we caught a cab. We went to Paradise Beach. AWESOME! $13 one-way for two people. New car, clean, but hold on for your life. I assume they drive that fast to get back and get another fare. Good thing I was prepared for this or I would have had heart failure. It took about 15" to get to Paradise beach with all of the construction. The beach was warm, the margaritas were plentiful and the sun was hot. What more do I say? The beach was not as big as I had imagined, but there were plenty of seats and room for everyone. The water was cool at first, but I acclimated quickly. We snorkeled and saw many little fish. My husband thought this was the best snorkeling until we got to Belize. Belize: Took the ship's Goff's Caye Snorkel Tour. We tendered off at 8:45 and motored for 20" to a small island that was as beautiful as a postcard. The water was so clear! I was scared to snorkel off the boat so we stayed behind with about half of the tour (15 people) and walked into the water with 3 guides. One to lead and two with rafts for those who were scared or got tired. They were so kind and helpful. Elio, the leader, pointed out so many things I would not have seen since I was a beginner. He also showed us the hurricane damage and the re-growth and regeneration of the coral. The snorkel lasted about 45" and we rested on shore until it was time to go back. I am not in good shape and it was an easy swim for me. Didn't like the saltwater in my snorkel with the high waves tho. My husband wants to go back to Belize just because of this tour. Elio said we should try the Shark/Ray Alley tour next time. He also works for that tour company and said it was much better because of all of the contact with sealife. He spent a lot of time telling me and my husband about Belize and it's culture. He made the trip memorable. We were back on ship by 12:30. 2 days at sea: By this time, I was missing my son terribly and wanted to go home. The trip, in my opinion, would be better broken up a little, not so many days at sea in a row. I was starting to get bored Saturday afternoon, but we sat in the sun one last time before it got too cold. "Fun Ship Drinks," the drink of the day, were pushed hard and heavy ($6.50/ drink and refills were $4.50) all week. If you got the same drink in a smaller cup, it was $2.95. Beer was $2.50. Our drink tab was pretty high, but we expected it and were not upset. Disembarkation: Went swiftly, we carried our own luggage so we were called in one of the first groups (self-assist). We went through immigration at 7:15, a looooong line, but moves quickly. Then waited in the room until 8:45. (this is when all rooms had to be vacated for cleaning). We were off the ship by 9:15. We had to wait until 11:30 before our charter bus showed up ... argh! There were several large groups with charter buses that caused this problem. The Carnival person in charge of busses said if we had gotten our group together earlier, he would've called our bus up sooner. We didn't know this and we did not have an agent there to get us organized. We didn't even know all the people in our group. Airport: Arrived at 12:30. We were scheduled to leave at 5:45, so we had to wait for 5 hours at the airport. Tell your agent not to do this to you. We didn't have enough money left to drink all the beer we needed to get through 5 hours of boredom. Then, our flight out of Dallas was delayed because of "hydraulic" problems. We had to switch planes after waiting for a mechanic for 1 hour to decide ours was too broken to fly. Our last flight left 3 hours late and we did not get home until 3 a.m. This was the worst day of our vacation, thank goodness it didn't ruin the whole memory of the cruise. Hope I didn't leave anything out. If you have questions, ask, I'd be happy to help. Read Less
Sail Date January 2005
We took two Elation cruises (back to back) on January 9th and January 16th. We had an outside (porthole) cabin on the "Upper" deck. First a little background. My wife and I are in our early 50s. We have cruised 16 times; and we ... Read More
We took two Elation cruises (back to back) on January 9th and January 16th. We had an outside (porthole) cabin on the "Upper" deck. First a little background. My wife and I are in our early 50s. We have cruised 16 times; and we often cruise back-to-back. We prefer Carnival, RCI and Celebrity. We prefer inside cabins. We're scuba divers. We almost always do our own excursions. Bottom Line. The Elation cruise out of Galveston is an excellent value. It was a very enjoyable cruise for these reasons: a fine ship, good food, decent entertainment, three fun ports of call and good passenger demographics. Galveston. This is a fun departure port and embarkation was very smooth. Plan to spend an evening in Galveston; it's a neat town. Most hotels offer free parking for cruisers. If you drive there like we did it's easy to get around town and very easy to do a drop-off at the pier while you go park the car. The ship. The Elation is a well-laid out ship and in decent shape for its age. Cabins are very roomy (a Carnival standard). The ship was generally clean and in good repair, a great gym with good equipment, and lots of stuff to do onboard. Lots of nice warm hot tubs. Restaurants were nice and the food in the restaurants and the buffet area was good (not great, but good). We felt pushed by the waiter staff to finish at the late seating; I would opt for the 8 p.m. seating next time instead of the 830 p.m. Good 24-hour pizza and a great sandwich deli also. Lunches and breakfasts were good in both the buffet and the restaurant. Really enjoyed the sushi bar. Service was good; on par with most cruise ships. If you have a lower forward cabin you will definitely hear the roar of the bow thrusters going in and out of port. Ship has stabilizers and azipods; handled rough seas very well. Cabin service was good and room service was excellent. My wireless laptop worked great; but access fees are absurdly expensive so I did most of my work in internet cafes at the ports. The entertainment was OK; the production shows were good, the comedy acts and jugglers were so-so. The trio of ladies who played classical were great. I loved the passenger demographics; very few kids but all ages of adults. Mostly Texans and folks from the Midwest; nice, friendly folks. Progresso, MX. You can take a local taxi to Merida for just 16 pesos. ($1.50). Definitely go see this beautiful proud city with its outdoor cafes and mixture of new/modern and very old Spanish architecture. It is a jewel; and it is true Mexico, not the touristy junk you see in Cozumel and Cancun. Back in Progresso you can take a fun open-bus tour for a few bucks, walk the beach and get cold cans of Tecate for 7 pesos (65 cents!). Cozumel. We scuba dive here and nothing else, so if you want to know a good dive shop send me an email. Belize. Cave tubing and scuba diving are both a blast here; although the diving is so expensive I could gag. Also the wood carvings from the "Ziricote" wood are just beautiful; the hammerhead shark and the stingray I bought are spectacular. The local brew is called Belikan; not too bad. This is a tender port; so allow yourself an extra 30 minutes on both ends. If you have any questions, I love to talk cruising, so feel free to e-mail me at mosailors@zigs.net Happy cruising. Read Less
Sail Date January 2005
***Here is the short version: We left 1/30/05 on the ELATION from Galveston. Sea Days — the weather was cool and partly cloudy. One sea day, (Friday) it rained. The three port days were excellent .... hot and sunny! The staff, service, ... Read More
***Here is the short version: We left 1/30/05 on the ELATION from Galveston. Sea Days — the weather was cool and partly cloudy. One sea day, (Friday) it rained. The three port days were excellent .... hot and sunny! The staff, service, food, ports, shows and shopping on board were excellent. The ship was in good condition, with the exception being the hallway carpeting near our cabin was in very poor condition. We hardly noticed ANY movement except the last night, at sea. Then, we were rocking and rolling. (It didn't bother any of our group!) Other than that, it was smooth sailing! Bottom line: It's 14 degrees outside as I write this, with the wind chill being 3 degrees. I had to scrape about a one-inch thick coating of ice off of my windshield wipers this morning ...... I almost slid off the icy roads yesterday-twice! The cruise was a wonderful winter retreat and I am ready to go back tomorrow, though I think I will probably have to wait at least a year to go again. This was our SECOND Cruise on the Elation. I love the Elation, the people, the ship's layout and the ports. I especially love warm weather. I give this vacation the highest possible recommendation. A lot of how people judge things is based on their personal perspective. I talked to tons of people on the cruise. Most loved every minute of it. I did talk to one person who was miserable. Personally, I LOVED IT!  Go and have fun!!! I wish I was going with you!!! Here is the DETAILED version: We drove to Galveston & spent Saturday night in a nearby hotel in Webster, TX ... The Nasa Best Western. We awoke to rainy, cloudy and cool weather. We dropped off our people and luggage at the cruise terminal, while the driver parked the car next to the terminal. (NOTE: Lots and lots of patience required to drive to AND from this terminal ....... I don't think it was ever originally built for cruise passenger pick-up/drop off. Our driver took a shuttle to get back to where we were. It takes quite a while to get from the front of the building until you actually board the ship ... probably about an hour. Maybe more. That includes all of the walking into the building, security and check-in. Our only problem with security was they X-rayed my film, EVEN after I asked for a hand check .... and even though I had removed the rolls from their plastic containers AND they were all in a clear Ziploc bag. We boarded about 1:30 and began enjoying the cruise. Our rooms were fine. They were about mid-section on the MAIN deck. This room and bathroom were actually MUCH larger than the Royal Caribbean room we had several years ago. The weather was not good Sunday, 1/30. It wasn't much better Monday. Many people tried to take advantage of the lounge chairs and get some sun/tanning in, anyway. Tuesday = Progresso & Merida, Mexico. Most of our group wanted to tour the city on a cruise sponsored bus trip. I didn't, but went anyway. We were on an AC double decker bus. It was fine. After it was over, we kind of thought that it was a tour with excuses to stop and let us off the bus to spend money. Our guides and driver were great! We were just glad to get into some sunny and warm weather. Monday & Friday were the FORMAL NIGHTS in the dining room. We had the 8:30 LATE seating in the Imagination Dining Room. Our waiters were the best -- EVER! Most nights there were two shows in the Mikado lounge. The nights there was only one show, it began at 10:30 so everyone, at both dinner seatings would still be able to see it. You won't miss much, if anything if you have a late seating. We preferred it that way ...... it seemed like we had more day time that way. In Cozumel I took a taxi to PARADISE BEACH. $13 + $2.00 tip each way. It was PERFECT! Highest recommendation. Plenty of lounge chairs with lots of water toys for kids and adults. (Huge iceberg with steps on one side to climb up and a slide on the other; a water trampoline, a bungee jumping thing -- on land -- many kayaks available too.) The water was so beautiful. Belize — Went shopping with my group again. There were MANY locals offering tours. If you don't sign up on the ship for a shore excursion, don't worry about it ...... we talked to one couple who went snorkeling in a van with a local. They had a great time. I think crime can be a problem in Belize. I think if you stay in a group AND with a tour guide, you will be fine. I would not ever be there unescorted at night. I haven't ever heard of a tourist having a problem there. Note: The teachers were on strike when we were there. There were many official card carrying locals offering tours in the shopping mall area. There were many NON-card-carrying locals offering tours BEHIND the shopping mall, behind a black wrought-iron fence ...... they were very pushy and made our group uncomfortable. I don't know anyone on our ship who used these people. Debarking and immigration were detailed and patience is required. Once the line began moving, it went very quickly. After immigration, we went to the dining room for a nice and final breakfast until we could exit the ship. Rather than waiting to take the shuttle bus, our driver walked 8 blocks to pick up our car and drive it back to pick up our group and luggage. He paid about $70 for parking for the week. Go, have fun, I loved nearly every minute of it and want to go back! NOTE: At breakfast one day, we spoke to a couple who said this was their 18th cruise! They said that on this ship, the entire week, this was the best cruise food they had EVER had! My last comment is this: I asked our waiter how much money he made. He told us: $94.00 a month. Please don't cheat the staff. They earn and deserve every single penny (hopefully, dollar, that is) you give them. We tipped the automatic $70 per person AND tipped on top of that for our 2 dining room waiters, our favorite bar waitress and our room stewards. They earned it. If you can afford to cruise, you can afford to tip, and tip well. I like the advice I've since read on this website: TIP the waiters AND your room steward on the 1st or 2nd night, with a promise of more at the end of the week and you will be treated like a Queen or King. Read Less
Sail Date January 2005
Cruise Review - Carnival Elation 12/5/04 Pre-Cruise: We (husband and myself, our 7th cruise, and my mother-in-law, her 2nd cruise) arrived in Galveston the evening before the cruise and stayed at the Best Western Beachfront. Hotel was ... Read More
Cruise Review - Carnival Elation 12/5/04 Pre-Cruise: We (husband and myself, our 7th cruise, and my mother-in-law, her 2nd cruise) arrived in Galveston the evening before the cruise and stayed at the Best Western Beachfront. Hotel was easy to find. Rooms were clean, but not fancy. They offered a continental breakfast and we were able to leave our car parked there right in front of the building. They called a cab for us at the front desk and it arrived very promptly. When I saw the jam of traffic and people at the cruise terminal, I was very glad we had opted for the hotel parking/taxi option. Embarkation: We arrived shortly after 11:00 a.m. We breezed through the check-in process in about ½ hour with very friendly people at the counters. We found out as we were checking in that they had changed the itinerary: Progresso - Tuesday, Belize - Thursday, Cozumel - Friday due to an extreme congestion of ships in Cozumel on Wednesday, the day we were supposed to be there. No problem, always glad to avoid an 11-ship day in Cozumel! We were on the ship and in Tiffany's (the Lido restaurant) about 12:30 p.m. Our rooms were not ready yet, but our steward (who we met very briefly then for the only time) let us leave our carry-on bags there. One pet peeve with embarkation.....having to pose for the silly embarkation picture. But, I suppose that delay paces the people trying to get on board so they don't get all backed up. Impressions of the ship: This class ship is fairly easy to find one's way around. Christmas decorations were lovely, but some dEcor is a bit garish for my taste. Atrium was beautiful at night. Ship is showing her age in spots, especially the elevators and public bathrooms. Many of the plastic covers over the indicator lights in elevators were gone and some buttons were taped over. I noticed them doing maintenance work on elevators several times throughout the week. Hot-air hand dryers in the bathrooms didn't work very well and some didn't work at all. That meant people used the boxes of Kleenex on the counters to dry their hands and this made for a messy litter at times. I would expect a ship of this age to show a little wear so no problem. I thought the photographers were pushier than usual, and they were everywhere. They seemed almost insulted when one declined to have a picture taken....there again, a pet peeve of mine. Dining Room & Food: We had the 8:30 late dinner....there were MANY empty tables. Our waiter (Luna) and assistant waiter (Izabella) had only two tables so we got very personalized and excellent service. They were the best wait team we have had in all of our cruises! Most of the food was good, some was great, some was so-so. I was least impressed with the desserts. Tiffany's (the Lido) was fine, nothing bad, nothing great. We did have pizza nearly every afternoon as a snack to tide us over to 8:30 supper and that was very nice. They have made-to-order deli sandwiches during lunch too. We never did make it to the late-night snacks as we were full from late supper. We did take pictures of the gala buffet and it was lovely. I LOVE the sushi bar....it was open almost every evening from 5:30-8:00 and we went every time. Made a nice pre-dinner snack. First day at sea was very nice. We were able to get prime seats by the Lido Pool at 9:30 a.m. There were always open seats. Security guard was diligent about keeping children out of the adult-only hot tub. Kids were well-behaved. Mother-in-law used the hair salon in the spa and was impressed. Husband used the steam room and liked it. First formal night was good. The captain's welcome party was as generous with the free drinks as any cruise I've seen. The waiters stopped by several times and one of them left me a third drink without me even asking. They were also generous with the free drinks at the Past Guests party later in the week. Entertainment: It was OK. Mother-in-law loved the "Rhythm" production show. One comedian was good, the other two OK, balancing act was interesting. My husband really likes to watch movies on a big screen in evenings. Carnival is the only line we've been on that only shows one movie the whole week in the lounge and that was "Garfield." The first few nights the night acts seemed non-existent, but it seemed to pick up a little by the end of the week. Even the piano bar had no piano player a few nights...that's usually a very popular spot on ships. Casino was plenty large, but smokey at night. The TV had skimpy offerings, I thought (we don't watch it much at sea but like to turn it on when we are getting ready). Every other cruise line I've been on has a bridge cam and/or weather and navigational information on temp, seas, etc. which is really nice for those of us in inside staterooms to know what to expect when we go outdoors. I missed that. Ports of Call: Progresso was a new port for us. The pier is indeed very long and there is a nice little shopping area on the pier. My mother-in-law really wanted to see Mayan ruins and we didn't want to invest a whole day so we went on the ship's ½ day tour to Dzibulchaltun. Guides met us right at the end of the gangway of the ship and led us to buses. It was about a 20 minute drive. The entrance area to the ruins has a gift shop and clean bathrooms. It was HOT the day we were there. I've done a more detailed review on the excursion in the Ports of Call section of the message boards. We shopped at the pier shops when we got back as we didn't have time for the free shuttle bus into town. Prices were decent. Belize is also a new stop for us. We anchored there about 8 a.m. We booked the Goff's Caye Snorkel and Beach Trip through the ship. We met in the Jekyll and Hyde Disco (scary dEcor) and were led to the gangway to board our tour boat (Belize is a tender port). Their system of gathering/announcing tours in Belize needs some MAJOR work. The poor fellow announcing the tours didn't have a microphone or megaphone and was very hard to hear with everyone gathered there....and all the water tours were gathered in the same spot so everyone was edgy. Some people from our tour got left behind, presumably because they couldn't hear the announcement? Anyhow, we boarded the small boat for the 20-25 minute ride to the caye and they handed out snorkel equipment on the way. Crew was very nice. People could either stay on the caye and snorkel from the beach or stay on the boat and be taken out to the reef. It was hot and sunny, but seas were rough so my mother-in-law stayed on the beach and we took the boat. It was a little intimidating to jump in the sea from the rocking boat, but once we were in we were fine. They did take several people back to the caye who were apprehensive about the waves when they saw them! Good snorkeling and then back to the caye....Mother-in-law had fun snorkeling off the beach and the guide was very patient and good as he led and taught a group of novice snorkelers. I've written more about this excursion on the Belize Port of Call section on message boards. We returned to ship, showered and had lunch and then took the tender to the tourist village and shopped a bit. Tendering process was smoothly done. Cozumel is always nice. We docked downtown at the Punta Langosta pier and took a taxi to Paradise Beach (about $15). Beautiful spot and deserving of all the glowing comments in the Port of Call section. We left there about 12:30 and went back downtown to shop. Shopkeepers are much more aggressive at getting you in their stores than I remember from my last visit to Cozumel. Last Day at Sea was much cooler with rougher seas and windy. For some reason, they had drained the pool. I've seen pools open on a lot rougher seas than these though! We sat out for a little while, but the wind was cool so we went in. Because it was a cool day, the shops and photo gallery seemed awfully crowded! Debarkation: We had to be out of rooms by 8:45 and then were waiting for immigration. We were in the last group called which was no problem...we weren't in a hurry. We were off the ship about 10:45 a.m. and caught a taxi back to Best Western Beachfront. Plenty of taxis. It was a good trip, great weather and we really enjoyed it! Read Less
Sail Date December 2004
We booked our first cruise -- Me, DW, DD (11), & 2 DS (7 & 4). We traveled with SIL & her family. Originally booked 6B and got upgraded to a 12! Galveston -- Drove in on Saturday and stayed at the Holiday Inn on the Beach. ... Read More
We booked our first cruise -- Me, DW, DD (11), & 2 DS (7 & 4). We traveled with SIL & her family. Originally booked 6B and got upgraded to a 12! Galveston -- Drove in on Saturday and stayed at the Holiday Inn on the Beach. For $119, we got room, free parking for cruise, and complimentary full breakfast buffet. Children always eat free. They have a free shuttle to the pier, but by the time we arrived it was booked until 2:30 p.m. We didn't want to wait, so we took a taxi. Arrived at the terminal around 11:15. Escorted to Skippers Club for check-in and then led to front of the line for boarding. On the ship eating lunch by 12:30. Overall For a first cruise, this was great. The weather wasn't the best (cloudy and northern winds-temps in 70's to low 80's). We had one night with 12-14 ft swells. The boat really rocked and my DW & SIL both got sick (even with meds/patch). Even one of the crew in Camp Carnival got sick. Food -- The food was pretty good. Some things were excellent, others just OK. Our wait staff (Ida-from Bali & Ausanee-from Thailand) were magnificent. After the first night, they were always ready for us with activity books for the kids and knew what their preferences were. Always asked the children if they wanted seconds on the chicken nuggets and pizza. The bar waiter knew what drinks we liked with dinner and just looked for the nod before he brought them out. Sushi bar was a regular pre-dinner treat. Cabin -- With this being our first cruise, we were very spoiled having a Penthouse Suite. I don't know if I could ever go down now. The space was that of a standard hotel room. Sylvia, our cabin steward, was very sweet. She talked to the children frequently and even taught our 11 yr old daughter how to make towel animals. There was a time that I called for our cabin steward and received no answer (it wasn't a big deal), but the kindness she showed for our family more than made up for it. The second to the last night, we came in to our cabin to 4 different animals all dressed up in our sun glasses and hats. The kids went nuts. Camp Carnival -- The people at Camp Carnival were awesome. The kids never wanted to leave. With the ages of my children, each night we would sit down with our Capers, all 3 Camp Carnival schedules, and a highlighter and plan the day's activities. Activities -- We participated in a lot of the activities (trivia, Battle of the Sexes, dance classes, etc.) All the activities were fun. I am an on-the-go type of person and always want to participate in things. My wife is a lounge by the pool and watch type of person. It would have been nice to have more activities pool-side. However, the weather wasn't great so it didn't make that much of a difference. Casino was good -- not too crowded or smokey. The whole family enjoyed family Karaoke until 9:30. Shows -- Went to a few of the shows. Comedians were very funny. Big revues were just OK. Christmas show with the kids from Camp Carnival was fantastic (Ok, I had 3 kids in the show so I might be biased). Enjoyed the country music singer by the drama bar. Ports -- Progresso -- Not much to do here. Didn't book any excursion. Went in to town and shopped then went to the beach. Vendors are very pushy. Very long pier, have to take a free shuttle in to town. Can get decent prices on souvenirs here. Cozumel -- Arrived in Cozumel after the night of 12-14 ft swells. Still very windy and choppy when we docked. We had booked a scuba/snorkel trip independently with Eagle Ray Divers. Took a cab to their marina. We sat and waited for the port officials to make a decision on the weather. They finally decided it was too windy/choppy and closed the marina. I think most all of the water based excursions were cancelled here. Shopped a little and then got back on the ship. Eagle Ray was very good with communication before and after trip. When I arrived home, they had already sent me an e-mail asking for directions on how I wanted my deposit refunded. Belize -- Favorite port of the trip. Booked the Lost World Jungle Canopy Tour (this fills up very fast due to limited spots). We met in the Mikado Lounge at 7:45 a.m. and were on the first tender in. We were greeted by our tour guide and boarded a bus. The guide gave us some information about Belize City as we drove out of town. Once out of town, it was just a bumpy 1 hour bus ride. When we got to the Tour location, we were led on a trail into the jungle and a cave. Here we met the guides. For the 25-30 people in our group, there were about 8-10 guides. They geared us all up with our equipment and did an orientation. We went to the first platform to do our first 100 ft traverse. Basically, they hook every thing up and you just sit back in your harness and enjoy the ride. They staff is extremely safety conscious triple checking everything before letting you glide along the line. The second traverse was a little longer and opened up in to a breathtaking view of a jungle canopy covered ravine. In total, there were 5 traverses from 100 to 500 feet and 2 rappels. Even though you are up in the air, the jungle canopy makes you not feel so high. This was definitely the highlight of our trip. Disembarkation -- We were in the first group called to immigration and moved through fairly quickly. Tiffany's was packed, long lines and no tables. If you get through immigration early or planning to go late, I highly recommend eating in the dining room. Very few people did and it was nice to sit and enjoy a relaxed, hot meal before they start the disembarkation. After breakfast we went to the Mikado Lounge and waited for them to call us. Wished I had brought my playing cards. When they did call the first group, it was our group, early flights, and self assist. This a large group and a little crowded with people pushing to the stairs. It was a little scary with the small children. We settled in to the back of our group and waited for it to open up a little. We were able to quickly get our bags and a porter. We again took a cab because of the advice that waiting for a Holiday Inn shuttle could take awhile. We were in our cars heading for home by 10 a.m. Overall, it was an awesome cruise and I would like to do it again. Next time, I will probably look at spring and hopefully get better weather. Read Less
Sail Date December 2004
My husband's extended family and I just got back from the Carnival Cruise Elation over Christmas. It was the first cruise for most of us. I had read the reviews and it was very helpful. We were traveling with 13 family members, ... Read More
My husband's extended family and I just got back from the Carnival Cruise Elation over Christmas. It was the first cruise for most of us. I had read the reviews and it was very helpful. We were traveling with 13 family members, including our "kids" ranging in ages 8-22. We drove over from Dallas Saturday afternoon and stayed at the La Quinta where we could park our car for free the week of the cruise. We got to the pier at 11:30 a.m. and breezed through embarkation. The picture taking went quickly and were in Tiffanys for lunch. We were disappointed in our room steward, who never introduced himself until we complained about midway through about his lack of service. He didn't seem to know when we were out of the cabin and were dissatisfied when we weren't able to get clean towels, etc. Carnival did adjust our bill for this and we did have sufficient service the rest of the week. My children, ages 8 and 11, had a terrific time at Camp Carnival. They wanted to be with their new friends the whole time. My daughter has already heard from a friend she met on the cruise. I was never concerned about their safety. I highly recommend Camp Carnival. Because it was Christmas, there were lots of kids. They seemed well behaved, didn't see any running around as described in the reviews. Upon arriving, we received the information that our itinerary had been changed: Progresso, then Belize and last Cozumel. Would have been a major problem if I had booked our excursions ahead of time with an independent contractor. In Progresso, we got off the ship and found a tour on the pier to Dzibilchaltun Mayan Ruins for $30 for adults and $15 for the kids, $90 total. A great savings from Carnival's which was $51 a person, $204 total. We took a short bus ride to Progresso, where they dropped us off for an hour and a half at a great flea market. Prices were great. My 8 year old daughter had her hair braided for $15 on the beach. The bus ride to Dzibilchaltun was short and we had a great guide. At the end the kids and I got to swim in a spring fed sinkhole, which was refreshing and fun. In Belize, 12 of the family took the tender (no big deal getting one -- arrived early to be first on and didn't need to, just get there when they say and you'll be fine). While we were waiting in the Cole Porter room for the tender assignments, I talked with a lady who told us of an island -- Caye Caulker. From the pier, we asked directions to the water taxis to Caye Caulker. The taxis were 3 blocks down a slightly scary street. The fare was $17.50 each for the 30-45 minute round trip water taxi, which left at 10:30 a.m. Caye Caulker was very rustic, we snorkeled off the beach and were able to pick the conch shells off the ocean floor. Awesome!!! We took the 3:00 p.m. water taxi back to the pier in plenty of time to get the 4:15 p.m. tender back to the ship. The taxi actually dropped us off at our pier instead of their "terminal". That 3:00 p.m. trip was a little tight timewise, but it was worth the gamble. In Cozumel, we took the Playa Mia Beach Break through Carnival $29 each. It included an open bar and admission to the beach. Had to take a taxi for $15 one way. It was fun, nothing exciting. Had plenty of chairs, you could snorkel to look at the underwater ruins, and there were lots of fun things for the kids to do. Note: rent the snorkel equipment from Carnival only $5, compared to $12 at Playa Mia. We ate at the buffet for another $10. I thought the food was bad, others thought it was okay. Shopping at Playa Mia was okay, no bargains. Did some shopping at the pier, they were so SLOW, almost didn't make it back to the ship. For some reason, there was a huge line to get back on and had to wait. We had the 8:30 p.m. late seating in the Imagination Room. The food was for the most part very good. The desserts were okay. The beef was outstanding. Salads were not exciting. Soups and other starters were great. The late seating was way too late to be able to see the shows. My kids literally were falling asleep at the table. The kids got a reprieve and only had to come to dinner 3 nights, both formals. The rest of the time they ate with Camp Carnival. The kids loved the delicious pizza at Tiffanys and my daughter had the ice cream for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Most of the time we ate at Tiffany's for breakfast, the omelets were good. We also got the continental breakfast in our room. Always on time and it was our wake-up call. The hamburgers were great at the outside grill by the pool. The chocolate chip cookies in Tiffany's was the best dessert on the ship. Yummy! They had a Reggae Band which was great. The only show we saw was the Christmas show which the kids got to sing in. They had dancing, Christmas carols, and "snow" even fell from above. FUN! Santa Claus gave great toys to the kids (Carnival backpacks, CD holders, and candy). We saw the magician (okay) and the comic who was great. The last full day at sea there was an awful storm. The waves were horrible and most of us got sick, even with medicine. My son and I didn't, but we kept moving. Because of the storm, the outside decks were closed, so it was difficult figuring out how to get to Tiffanys, etc. We also arrived late in Galveston, about 9:30 a.m. It was a ZOO getting off the ship. Even though we had the Orange Veranda tags to be the first off, we didn't get off until 11:45 a.m., too late for my relatives flying to reach Houston for 1:30 p.m. flights. They ended up flying out at 7:00 p.m. It was no big deal for us because we just drove back to Dallas. There was still snow from Galveston's white Christmas. A nice surprise after our return. I would highly recommend Carnival Elation. Some of my family members were disappointed, but we weren't. It was a nice break not to have to watch my kids, make meals or do laundry. Read Less
Sail Date December 2004
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