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855 Carnival Galveston Cruise Reviews

This is our 5th cruise, first with Carnival. We had 2 Alaskan cruises with Celebrity, 2 Mexican Riviera cruises-1 with Norwegian, 1 with Princess. Eight of us drove 2 weeks from Los Angeles to Galveston to board the Elation on 8/15 in ... Read More
This is our 5th cruise, first with Carnival. We had 2 Alaskan cruises with Celebrity, 2 Mexican Riviera cruises-1 with Norwegian, 1 with Princess. Eight of us drove 2 weeks from Los Angeles to Galveston to board the Elation on 8/15 in our motorhome. It was fun traveling through Nevada, Arizona, N.Mexico,and then Texas, but we were excited to be on the cruise. Visited the Forbidden Garden in Katy, east of Houston and also the Space Center. Arrived in Galveston on Saturday, drove through the Seawall, checked out the town and cruise ship terminal and looked at a couple of places to stay for the night. Went to the Visitors Center and was shown a list of hotels that provide free cruise parking for the week. Finally decided that we will stay at the Bayon Shores RV Resort next to the bay. Very nice campground with grassy areas. There's a restaurant right by the campground that people hang-out at night, with loud music but they stopped before 10, so it was OK. Fun watching kids crabbing and playing by the bay. Left the campground around 10 Sunday morning. Drove down to the pier, and it was crowded. We were going to drop off people and luggages then park the motorhome. It was a chaotic scene with people just getting off the ship, buses lined up to pick up passengers etc. We couldn't even get to the curb side. Was told by the traffic control to come back after 11:15. Left the dock and trying to figure out what to do next. Then we saw the Dolphin parking areas with signs saying "shuttles with luggages", so we parked our motorhome in the big parking lot, for $100.00 a week (a lot less for cars, and some even have shelters) the shuttle took all of us and our luggages to the terminal in minutes. Bus drivers and parking lot employees were very helpful and nice. I really suggest that you use these parking lots instead of trying to drop off at the terminal yourself. When the shuttle dropped us off at the terminal it was still a chaos. Since we did not have our room numbers yet, we were kind of lost at where we should go. A porter came, took our luggages and tickets, and got us our room numbers and took care of the luggages. Then we proceed to the upper level to embark. There was quite a line already but when it starts moving, it moved fast. We didn't do the "Funpass" online registration, so we were expecting a long wait. Since 5 of our members were non-citizens, I wanted to take care their check-ins first before we do ours. We got in the "non-citizen" line and there were only a couple of families before us. We actually got all 8 of us checked-in in no time and we didn't have to go back to the long, "citizen" line. (Non-citizens, they will keep your passport until the end of the cruise.) Then we waited for about 10 minutes before they start boarding everybody. Took pictures, got the S/S card, then we boarded the Elation. Our rooms were ready but we could see that the stewards were still busy in the area, so we went up to the Lido deck to have lunch. It was still early, not too many people were there yet. We were able to enjoy a relax, delicious lunch after a morning of exicitment. After lunch we went back to the room, and found out that there were only 3 lifejackets under the corner table. Our steward quickly got us the 4th, he also brought us a bucket of ice. At 2:30 we join the ships tour which was brief but informative. The Life Boat Drill was bearable, we just had to put the lifejackets on and hang around the assembling areas. Didn't have to go out to where the lifeboats were. It was quite fun to pull away from port to begin our week-long adventure. Cabins: Good-size, 3-star type room. Plenty of storage and closet space, but do bring an over-the-door shoe organizer for little things. The safe was very nice, if you use one S/S card to lock something in you have to use the same S/S card to open it. S/S cards for other members in the same room won't do it. We have 4 people, only 3 beds, the roll-away bed is actually under one of the regular bed, so you are almost like sleeping on the floor and that roll-away is SHORT! That's my only complain about the cabin. By the way, there is no hair dryer, so bring your own. Bathroom was big and nice, good shower space. The bowl of toothpaste, shavers etc. was very nice. I don't know why there's water stain along the hallways, but they did had some problems of water leakage in Tiffany which caused them to shut down one side of the salad bar. Restaurants: We had all our dinners at the Inspiration Room 5:45, a table for 8 by the window. Dinner menu was excellent with many choices. Food was wonderful. You can order all that you want, 2 main courses, 2 appetizers, they don't care, very generous. The presentation of food was not as elegant as Celebrity, but still good, generous portions. You have to try the fish! Escagot, lobster tail, prime rib, lamb, all good choices. Our waiter Robert of South Africa was very friendly, nice and patient. He gave our family of 3 generations some wonderful dining experience. His little magic tricks and humor kept us entertained. His assistant Gusti of Indonesia was quiet and gentle. He got us what we needed at the right time. On the first night, I asked to have rice for my in-laws every day, and it was done. They prepared a plate of white rice for them every evening. We also enjoyed the song and dance by the wait staff after dinner. I guess it's better you go to dinner on time, otherwise they'll have to rush at the end because they have to perform. Tiffany: We had most of our breakfast and lunches there. Breakfast is usually crowded with long lines. Lunches have good choices. They usually have a different ethnic food each day on one side of the buffet and American food on the other. Excellent salad bar. It seemed like Tiffany is always open, and drinks are always available. Of course the 24-hour pizzeria had great pizzas, I especially liked the goat cheese/mushroom. The burgers and fries were wonderful too. Did not use room service, so I can't comment on that. With food going on all hours we just didn't get to call room service. Midnight buffet: My son loved the midnight snacks. They have fruits and salad, sandwiches, meat,etc. every night. The gala buffet on the 2nd formal night was OK, not as huge and elegant as Celebrity again. The line was very long and slow and many items were gone and not replaced when you get to the line. The staff will put a cover on your plate and give you a set of silver ware to take your plate back to the cabin if you so desire. Shows: Saw a couple of shows and they were wonderful! The singers and dancers did a good job. Activities: Did not go to most activities. It seemed that most activities are games oriented with few participants. Unlike the other cruise lines where they have various classes of interest like: napkin folding, gift boxes making,flower arranging etc. A lot of Bingo games and game show games. I generally find that Carnival is more active and loud, vs. other lines that are mostly quiet and relaxing. Many families with kids and young people. We were told that there were 400 kids on our ship versus 800 kids the previous week. The 3 teenagers in our group did not join any activities with other kids, they just wanted to do their own things like watch TV in the room and play cards. Just from observation, the Camp Carnival staff really tried hard to keep the kids entertained and taken care of. If you don't want to be bothered at lunch time, don't sit near the pizzeria because that's where the kids will have their lunches. Ports of call: Progresso-Did not do much, browsed around at the marketplace where the shuttle dropped us off, many stalls selling the same things. I bought a dress for $15, and a PJ looking type blouse and pants for $20, both embroidered. You need to bargain with them. The same dress that I got for $15, at a shop at the pier they asked for $35. We also walked around the town for a few blocks but there wasn't much to see. Then we walked to the beach and just sat and people-watching. The beach was nice but it was too hot. What a relief to get back to the air-conditioned Elation! Cozumel: Very developed tourist place. Our pier was right downtown, so we just walked the few blocks and shopped. We were going to go back for lunch and come back out, rent a van and go to the beaches. But after lunch, no one wanted to go back out again, so that was it for Cozumel. Belize: Couple of friends came to the pier to pick us up. They made arrangements to have a big van taking us on our own tour of the city. A member of the city council actually acted as our driver and guide, what a priviledge! They took us to this hotel/casino to have buffet lunch then took us to Altun Ha Ruins, it was quite a trip and well-worth it. We have learned a lot about the people and the country because we had these local friends with us. We paid for the van rental and gas. Getting the tender tickets in the morning was no problem. They gave out the tickets outside of Cole Porter Lounge, not inside, so don't wait inside. We got stickers for tender #2. The problem was getting on the tender. For some reasons, the line was very long and crowded while waiting to get on the tenders. Coming back was no problem. Disembarkation: Expected to be hectic, but actually they were pretty organized. Because of the "non-citizens" we have in our group, we had to report at 7:00 to get the passports back and to clear immigration. While our "non-citizens" went through immigration, they also cleared us, which was unexpected and I had to run down to the cabin and get my son. I didn't mind because now we don't have to wait til they call us to get in the long line. After clearing immigration, we went for breakfast, then gathered our things and waited. By 9:30, I asked a staff member since we cleared immigration already, is it OK that we get off with the first group that is getting off the ship, she said "Oh, yes, it's OK, no big deal." so we got off, found our luggages, through custom, and out to get on the shuttle back to the parking lot. It was easy since we were with the first group and not many people were out yet. Actually, I wouldn't mind to stay on the ship longer if we didn't have to rush, we only had 2 days to get back to L.A.! Tips: Automatically added to your S/S account, $10 a day p/p, for the waiter, assistant, steward and assistant, but not the M'atre . We tipped our waiter and assistant more and also tipped the M'atreD the last night. Photos: They did take a lot of photos, but they didn't turn out as good as we liked. Bought a couple of photos folders though, less than $5 each and the big ones come with a nice 8"x 10" photo of the ship, the one with the night scene is better. All in all Carnival was a fun ship, but if you are looking for a time of relaxation and luxurious treatment this is not for you. If you are active, party type, this will be fun. No matter what your expectations are, my thinking is, you already paid for it, try to make the best out of it! Instead of making yourself miserable and finding fault in everything, have a lighter heart and enjoy the time you have! Happy sailing! Read Less
Sail Date August 2004
Ship Decor-4/Ship (Very Pretty Vessel) Cleanliness-3 (Public Restrooms very dirty) Lido Deck Restaurant Food-2 (Bland with very few choices/Same Thing Every Day) Lido Deck Restaurant Crew-2 (Wouldn't give bar service at table and ... Read More
Ship Decor-4/Ship (Very Pretty Vessel) Cleanliness-3 (Public Restrooms very dirty) Lido Deck Restaurant Food-2 (Bland with very few choices/Same Thing Every Day) Lido Deck Restaurant Crew-2 (Wouldn't give bar service at table and didn't inform guest to go to the bar) Inspiration Dining Room-3 (Better than Tiffany's, but still bland, but more varied) Inspiration Dining Room Waiters-4 (Pretty good, but not as good as other cruise lines) Stateroom-4 (Sparse decor, but large) Stateroom Attendant-3 (wouldn't take away water/coke glasses after being used) OnBoard Activities-4 Pool Area-3 Casino-4 Disco's-4 Disco Entertainment-3 (Same tune, different words to each song) Carnival Customer Service Staff -2 There were over 600 children under the age of 15. The younger ages (up to 10) were no problem. Very well behaved when not participating in Camp Carnival. The older kids (over 15) were OK. Sometimes a little rude when rushing ahead of the people waiting to get elevators, on get a drink at the bar, etc. The kids between 10-15 were absolutely AWFUL and certainly did not know how to conduct themselves. They would run up and down the stateroom hallways until 2 or 3 in the morning. They were dribbling and bouncing a basketball off the stateroom walls as the walked down the hallway. The front desk staff sent security to the floor more than 3 times and the noise never stopped. When security approached the parents about the kids behavior and pointed out that there had been numerous complaints called in the response given (by the parents) was: "their my kids, I paid for them to go on this trip and Carnival or no one else is going to tell them how to act". Doesn't say much for the other paying customers on the cruise. When I ask the staff at the Purser's desk what the Carnival policy was on bad passenger behavior, he said that if it were adults they would be put off of the ship, but that they couldn't do anything since they were youths and they were causing the problem....not the parents. This was our first Carnival cruise. We've taken 8 others and they we're all great. I don't know if the entire problem occurred because it was in the summer, but Carnival will never be our choice again. There were 9 members in our party and Carnival looses in this case as we have many cruise lines to chose from. Read Less
Sail Date July 2004
I was very eager to write my review of the Elation since we just returned on June 20th. I have found all of the information on cruise critic to be very valuable! Let me begin by saying that the main reason that my husband and I picked the ... Read More
I was very eager to write my review of the Elation since we just returned on June 20th. I have found all of the information on cruise critic to be very valuable! Let me begin by saying that the main reason that my husband and I picked the particular cruise was the fact that it was close to home and we didn't have to fly. This was our 5th Carnival cruise and have not been on any other cruise lines. Embarkation: The port at Galveston needs some work. The parking situation there is horrible and seems to be very unorganized. We parked in one of the satellite lots and took the shuttle bus to the ship but that took us an hour and a half. Because we had booked a suite, the only line that we had to wait in was the security line to xray our bags. Then we were personally escorted onto the ship from the Skipper's Club. After talking to many other passengers about where they parked, I would suggest that the best deal seems to be spending the night before at one of the local hotels and then letting them shuttle you back and forth to the ship. Many of the Galveston hotels will allow you to park your car there for the week for free so look into that. The ship: It probably didn't help that the last Carnival cruise that we took was on the brand new "Pride" 2 years ago. The Elation looks tired and a little worn. We have been on 2 other Fantasy class ships, the Fantasy and the Fascination but that was when they were fairly new. This cruise seemed to be sold out so I think that Carnival should do a little refurbishing of the ship. Down our hallway was a huge water stain all the way down the hallway. The cabin: We booked a semisuite but were put in one of the big suites on the upper deck. We have never stayed in a suite before so it was wonderful to have the extra room and the bathtub. The only problem that I saw was the fact that our bed seemed to be right under the hallway above so we heard many footsteps running up and down in the hallway even late at night. No doubt some of the many children that seemed to be running wild throughout the ship. While we are on that subject, we have been on other Carnival cruises with children but have never seen the number of kids running wild like we did on this one. We actually found most of the teenagers quite well behaved but it was the younger kids under 12 that needed more supervision. I guess parents weren't worried about their children falling overboard! The food: About average, don't order any beef well done because it will be tough. I am a well done person and I quickly found out that it was better to order it medium. The seafood dishes were delicious though. Our waiter, Stefan and our bus girl, Adella were superb! We ate mostly our breakfast and lunches at Tiffany's and the lines moved quickly. Progresso: We debated about whether to take one of the ruins tours or go to the beach so we did the Progresso Beach Break shore excursion. It included all of the booze that we could drink but we were only there on the beach about 21/2 hours before we had to return to the ship. There were too many panhandlers constantly asking you to buy something but then again it seems to be a poor town and that's how many of their people make money. We only bought a sombrero. The waiters there were very friendly and helpful though. We could have stayed longer but my husband wanted to do some shopping at the pier stores and eat lunch on the boat. I think if I ever returned we would take one of the ruins tours because we heard that they were great. Cozumel: Get in line early to get off the boat because everyone is trying to get off at the same time. We took the dolphin swim encounter and that was fantastic. It's an expensive shore excursion but well worth it. The staff were friendly and we even got a ride holding on to one of the dolphins. The park there is incredible. Since our excursion only lasted 3 hours, we then took a cab ride into the city for $16 and had lunch at Pancho's Backyard which is next to the forum shops. Watch out for those margaritas! I think it was lime flavored tequila! The food was outstanding and it was very relaxing to sit and listen to authentic Mexican musicians. We somehow stumbled down through the 10 blocks of shops doing some damage only to get to our final destination of Carlos and Charlie's before heading back to the ship. For those folks who don't have time to go into the city, there are many shops at the pier that are quite nice too. Belize: We did the cavetubing shore excursion and boy was it worth it. The staff was friendly and helpful and never did I expect the cave to be over 2 miles long. What an experience! It was so neat to look back and see over 300 tubers in the pitch black cave with just their little lights on. The water was crystal clear. The hike to the cave is quite long though and I would suggest tennis shoes that you can get wet because my water shoes weren't enough protection for my feet on the rocky path. I wouldn't suggest this one for anyone who can't hike a good distance. The staff on the ship: I found them to be quite friendly. Our cabin steward, Pichet, was fantastic! The spa treatments were fantastic and I felt very pampered. This was the last cruise on the Elation for the cruise director, Larry and I was glad that we didn't miss him. He entertained us one night singing with his guitar in the Mikado lounge and he was great! The asst. cruise director, Jenny, was a lovely lass from Liverpool. Lots of energy and personality. We played several of the bingo games but never won anything. Wayne, the casino manager is great too! Try the blackjack tournament one night because it was lots of fun! Debarkation: Once again, actually quite easy. Make sure that you take all of your family when you go through to the customs officers. We were in the first group off of the ship but we had to wait for a while in the heat for our bus to appear. To recap: I found the big positives to be the friendly staff, didn't have to fly to get there and the price was reasonable! The big negatives are the parking, the condition of the ship and running wild children. Also, be aware that we noticed that price of the shore excursions have really gone in the last couple of years. Would I take this cruise again? I wouldn't go on this particular ship again but I will definitely take another Carnival cruise. I would suggest that this is a great cruise for families but not for newlywed couples or couples who want quiet time. I hope this has been helpful. I have found that all of the member reviews and messages to be very helpful in planning a cruise. As my husband pointed out to me as we were enjoying the live calypso band on deck by the pool the last day at sea, where else can you enjoy the sun, music, ocean and have a drink waiter at your beck and call. Bon voyage! Read Less
Sail Date June 2004
All in all this was a solid C for a vacation. I got very sick - either food poisoning or Norwalk virus - for the first few days and was confined to my cabin for the first couple of days. This meant that I did not take part in much until ... Read More
All in all this was a solid C for a vacation. I got very sick - either food poisoning or Norwalk virus - for the first few days and was confined to my cabin for the first couple of days. This meant that I did not take part in much until late the third day and was still not feeling great for another day or so. Highlights: dinners in the dining room; Camp Carnival service and room service. Areas that could have been better: enforcement of no-smoking rule in cabins (two doors down they smoked cigarettes and drugs every night and were not kicked off despite numerous complaints) cabin staff; information on weather (it was unseasonably cold and it was difficult to prepare for shore trips because no one on board seemed to want to provide accurate weather info): food in Tiffany's was very uneven (some times good and sometimes vastly overcooked and bland). Unusual service worth noting: my son has life-threatening nuts allergies. I had alerted the staff at booking and provided detailed medical info in advance. Dining room staff was excellent in helping to keep him safe. Hostess took his order, went directly to the kitchen and brought his food right to the table to decrease chances of contact with nuts. This was a terrific service. I had been told that Carnival had a good reputation for this and it was a big reason for choosing to cruise and picking this company. They did not disappoint. Read Less
Sail Date February 2004
Just returned from the May 6th, 2006 Western Caribbean cruise of the Ecstasy. This is my 8th cruise with Carnival always being my favorite. I cruised with RCL and Norwegian and they never measure up to the service and food of Carnival. ... Read More
Just returned from the May 6th, 2006 Western Caribbean cruise of the Ecstasy. This is my 8th cruise with Carnival always being my favorite. I cruised with RCL and Norwegian and they never measure up to the service and food of Carnival. The Ecstasy is as good as new. Just out of drydock with fresh paint, fresh carpet, and best of all a bed as great as my own bed at home. Embarkation from Galveston was a breeze. We were on the ship in about 30 minutes. The crew was all smiles and seemed truly happy to welcome us aboard. I must travel with oxygen. My liquid reservoir of oxygen was not in my cabin when I arrived. I was extremely nervous that it had not arrived from the supplier in Houston. I could not remain on the ship without being certain my oxygen was onboard. Our steward, Dewa, was on the problem immediately. He personally went down to the area where luggage is stored til it can be brought to the cabins. He searched out the oxygen and made sure it was indeed mine and had my name on it. He personally brought it to my cabin. I guess the sweet man thought I needed it at that very moment. I had my portable oxygen and would have been fine for a few more hours. However, him bringing it to me immediately was appreciated more than I can say. He always had a big smile and a nice greeting for us. He kept our cabin clean and organized. Fire drill behind us, we unpacked our luggage. Having sailed the Ecstasy last May it seemed that there were a few less drawers. The closet seemed smaller as well. Other than that the cabin was clean, felt new, great new bathroom, and that wonderful bed. The safe in the closet was easy to operate. The new mattresses are luscious. The down duvets are like covering with whipped cream. The down pillows like marshmallows. It was the most comfortable bed I've ever had on a cruise ship. Magnificent! The Lido buffet always had many different items to choose from. The items went well with each other and was quite good for buffet food. Unlike the Norwegian cruise which would serve an indian dish, a mexican, german, and asian. My stomach didn't know which country I was in on the Norwegian cruise. The food on Carnival blended. The hamburgers by the pool were great. We look forward to the evening meals on Carnival. They have always exceeded our expectations. We were a little disappointed with the food and service in the main dining room. The first night was fantastic but the last 4 lacked in quality and service. Carnival is still better than RCL or Norwegian even a bad night. The major complaint ship wide was the instant tea concentrate. Texans love their iced tea. Most of us had to live with ice water because of the awful taste of the tea concentrate. The casino was mediocre. The only area of the ship where the crew seemed to need a pep talk. They were not particularly helpful or friendly. I like to play the slots and spent most every evening in the casino. I didn't hear a single jackpot announced. I thought the drink prices were reasonable. They seemed to give your money's worth in alcohol. About 4.50 for the drink of the day. I believe that's about the price of a fancy blended restaurant drink here in Texas. I did not go to any shows so I can't comment. Room service was great. At the door within a few minutes of ordering. Disembarkation for us was self assist. We simply rolled our suitcases behind us and walked of the ship around 8:30. Quick and easy. I have never noticed any mistakes on my final bill with Carnival. By the way, Do NOT use Hertz in Mexico. It seems the latest scam for rental cars is to gouge you with a minimum gasoline purchase required. We couldn't have used more than half a gallon. We went a couple of hundred yards down the beach and ended up staying there instead of driving around like we had planned. We were hit with Hertz's "minimum gas purchase". We even stopped and topped of the tank with a two gallons before we turned it in. Read Less
Sail Date May 2000
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