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850 Carnival Galveston Cruise Reviews

Our first cruise ever so we were not sure what to expect. First off I will never use the Carnival airport to ship shuttle bus again. Arrived at Houston at 9:30 am. Had been told when I booked it that the shuttle would run at 10:30 and ... Read More
Our first cruise ever so we were not sure what to expect. First off I will never use the Carnival airport to ship shuttle bus again. Arrived at Houston at 9:30 am. Had been told when I booked it that the shuttle would run at 10:30 and 1:30. We, as well as many other guest who arrived early, found that there was in fact no early shuttle and we had to wait for 4 hours until the 1:30 shuttle left. Would have booked my own private transportation up front had I know this. The same thing played about again on the return trip but the wait was only about 2 hours this time. Getting on the boat was not bad at all, there were long lines but it moved along fairly smoothly. Found our cabin with no problems and got the life boat drill out of the way and we were off. Cabin was great and kept very clean the entire time we were there. Liked being on the lowest deck as there was much less motion down at that level versus the upper floors. The ship was very clean and the crew was constantly in a state of picking up and cleaning. Very impressed with this. I'll have to say I was disappointed in the food. It was not bad by any means but really just average. Breakfast buffet was good. Lunch was fair but never really had anything that I would have wanted twice. Pizza buffet was good! Formal dining was ok but portions are small. Don't be afraid to order more than one item in any of the servings. the staff is more than accommodating. Our head waiter was wonderful and made the dining room experience very fun! Cozumel was fun, Playa de Carmen was wonderful and would have liked to have spent both days there. Getting off the ship went pretty quick and we went smoothly through customs. All and all we had a good trip and would not mind doing it again next year! Read Less
Sail Date October 2005
My husband and I went on this cruise for our 2 year anniversary. This was our second cruise: we went on a cruise for honeymoon too (different cruise line). We had a nice time on this cruise, but enjoyed our first cruise much better. I ... Read More
My husband and I went on this cruise for our 2 year anniversary. This was our second cruise: we went on a cruise for honeymoon too (different cruise line). We had a nice time on this cruise, but enjoyed our first cruise much better. I thought the ship was kept very clean, although you can tell there is some wear and tear in certain areas, especially the carpet. I didn't care much for the layout of the ship... I kept getting lost! Also, some decks of the ship didn't connect front to back (or at least I didn't find a way of getting around), so you would have to, say, go downstairs to go to the front/back of the ship and then go back upstairs to get to your destination. I disliked that there were two formal dining rooms and that our dinner was held in the one (Imagination) that was not open for lunch like the Inspiration (open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner). Almost every day we went to the wrong dining room for a meal. I also though that the pools were a little small, although there was plenty of room for laying out in the sun. The food was good, but we felt it wasn't quite as good as the food on our first cruise. We especially didn't care for the food at Tiffany's (the informal dining room) for breakfast. We didn't find any oatmeal, and they did not have as good of a selection of cereal. Also, they didn't have the smoked salmon that I was really looking forward to having for breakfast on the cruise, so we went to the formal dining room for most breakfasts (and I had lox and bagels there... mmm... and my husband had the delicious oatmeal as part of his breakfast). I can't speak to the lunches and dinners there, except they didn't look as appetizing as what we were served in the formal dining rooms. The funny thing is that I think that at least some of the food was the same each day. Also, I know everyone raves about the pizza, but I was not impressed. I had the margarita pizza (usually roma tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and basil), but their margarita pizza was make with pizza sauce and basically just tasted like a cheese pizza... so not bad, just not the margarita pizzas I am used to. My husband also ordered some midnight snacks through room service every night and he liked what he got (tried several different things on the menu). We also thought that the activities were a little bit lacking. On our last cruise, we felt like there was SO much to do, and we always had to make a choice on what we should do! But, this time, we found that we had lots of time and were looking for things to do, especially in the evening after dinner and the show. Unfortunately, we didn't go to Playa del Carmen and Cozumel due to Hurricane Wilma, and we went to Veracruz and Progresso instead. We didn't care much for Veracruz, but we did enjoy Progresso (we went on an excursion to Merida). Due to the port changes, we got excursion choices once onboard. There were only three excursion choices in Veracruz (there were 5, but one was dropped before you could book it, and another was cancelled). There were many more choices in Progresso. Also, due to the hurricane, the waters were rough and I got a little seasick (didn't get seasick on the previous cruise). By the way, we worked out every day, and the fitness area was nice, although it was a little confusing that you MUST go through the separate mens and womens dressing room areas to get to the gym. Of course, they don't have all the equipment as your regular gym has (my husband and I both work out a lot), but it was sufficient for being on vacation. We felt that the service was outstanding (with the exception of one waiter on the very last morning who never got around to bringing me my bran flakes cereal and, when my husband reminded him, he brought me pancakes which I thought were for my husband even though he already got the pancakes he ordered... we later concluded that he must have heard "pancakes" instead of "bran flakes"). Everyone was always willing to do whatever you asked. Read Less
Sail Date October 2005
I am writing this review 3 years after I went, So these are just a few of the highlights that stand out in my mind. First cruise. Dreamed about this day for years. I had very high expectations. Did not know about cruise critic until after ... Read More
I am writing this review 3 years after I went, So these are just a few of the highlights that stand out in my mind. First cruise. Dreamed about this day for years. I had very high expectations. Did not know about cruise critic until after this cruise. I lived in Tomball, Tx. only one hour drive. Embarkation was fast maybe 40 minutes at the most. This was after all those major hurricanes came through and messed up our ports of call! I was soooooo disappointed in the ports they replaced it with, but managed to make the most of it. (vera cruz, we snorkeled very scary to jump off the boat and not be able to see your hand in front of your face, kept swimming and it cleared up, was interesting and my first experience with snorkeling. Progresso went to see the pink flamingos, kind of boring) Ship was awesome such an adventure just exploring it. I probably took us 3 days to really figure out our way around. beautiful ship. We had an inside cabin which was fine, enjoyed the cabin steward and all his towel creations. Went to a class on how to do this and bought the book, Still haven't used it though. I do remember a musky odor in some parts of the ship. Loved going to the game shows, and played lots of bingo. We won a bottle of champagne, another time we won a massage in the spa. Don't like the idea of a massage so I gave it away to a lady who was jumping up and down she was so excited. You would have thought she won the lottery. Glad I made her day. Our table mates had won this cruise for free because they played bingo on another carnival ship. Enjoyed the food, except the lobster, it was just gross, had no taste with the texture of a sponge. Sent it back and requested steak which was very good. But I really offended the cook. I guess I should of just kept it and order the steak in addition. He had the waiter ask me if I had ever had lobster before. Actually I have never had a lobster I didn't like until now. Husband loved the pizza and I loved the ceasar salad. Also I loved the sushi. I have to say this cruise has made me book one every year since. Hope to keep this up as a tradition! Self disembarkation, incredibly easy and fast. Home before we knew it. I think it was 8:30 I remember every one was still in their PJ's. Read Less
Sail Date October 2005
This was our 2nd cruise on the Ecstasy (last time was in Dec. '04) and my 5th cruise overall and 3rd sailing out of Galveston. First of all, let me start by saying it was difficult to get excited about the cruise in light of all the ... Read More
This was our 2nd cruise on the Ecstasy (last time was in Dec. '04) and my 5th cruise overall and 3rd sailing out of Galveston. First of all, let me start by saying it was difficult to get excited about the cruise in light of all the horror going on in Katrina's aftermath. I finally decided that, since there was no chance of a refund, the best thing we could do is to contribute to the economy. Then..when we arrived in port, we couldn't find parking due to the unexpected arrival of the Sensation and the extra traffic that brought. To make matters much, much worse, my car broke down. The alternator went out as we were searching for a parking lot that would let us in. So, with 2 hours to go before the last call for boarding, we were broken down in the heat, a block and 1/2 from the ship, with all our luggage, in a private parking lot. I have roadside assistance and we got a tow to Galveston Auto Professionals, who were absolutely wonderful. We actually arrived at the terminal via tow truck, very stylish of us. I was starting to think the whole vacation was going to be horrible. The officials at the terminal were grouchy as usual, but the lines moved fairly quickly and the Carnival staff was friendly and helpful. Once on board, we got to our room and our luggage had gotten there ahead of us. Our room was 2 doors down from the atrium area which was very convenient, there was some noise but not to bad except when a group of 30 or so decided to sing in the atrium area until very late one night, I bought some .99 earplugs in the gift shop and fixed that problem. The cabin was ok, showing quite a bit of wear and tear but comfortable and the comforters were great. The cabin steward was mostly invisible but kept the room clean. We did have my first experience with stinky plumbing that I've read about on the boards here. It was horrible, but fortunately my DH works in water utilities and he knew something I didn't that may help others, cover the drains! We put the plastic shower mat over the shower drain and the plug in the sink drain and the smell disappeared. Apparently it's gas in the plumbing that causes the odor. (I thought it would be from the toilet, but it's not). Our room steward kept uncovering everything every time we'd leave the room so it got kind of funny. The food was hit and miss, I'm a vegetarian and some of the vegetarian entries were truly god awful, one tasted like a boil in bag tv dinner. The night after Cozumel was the worst, none of the folks at our 8 person table thought their meals were very good. The rest of the nights were much better. The wait staff we had was fantastic and the desserts and cappuccino were always good. We heard the buffet at night on the Lido deck was quite good as well. The casino was a bit looser than normal, especially on the last night out. We didn't do many ship activities or go to shows, but I heard they were pretty good and the comedians both got glowing reviews from our tablemates. Mostly we laid out by the pool, ate and played the slots. We did the Xcaret excursion in Cozumel and were quite disappointed to find we only had 4 hours here; it was not nearly enough time. I blame myself for not doing the extra research to figure the time it would take to get there and back. The park itself was wonderful, just wish we had more time there. The big announcement was made on the last full day at sea, during the Debarkation talk, that the ship was being chartered by FEMA. To say that the crew looked shell-shocked would be an understatement. They must have given them extra time off because I saw a great many crew members on the main decks, especially in the shopping area, more than any other cruise, even the ones who worked below decks were out and about. I spoke with several of them and many were wondering what would happen to them. A few were staying with the ship but others were wondering where they would be sent next. They all said the big meetings would take place after we got off the ship today. Our dining room servers were both staying and we gave them hugs and let them know we'd be thinking of them. My overall impression was that the crew was doing their very best in a very bad situation. The other couples at our table were all first time cruisers and all said they would cruise again, I think that speaks volumes. Read Less
Sail Date September 2005
Ok folks, this won't be one of those novels that some people write because they like to see themselves in print. I'll make it quick and simple. I read many, many reviews about this ship and this cruise before going. Some were ... Read More
Ok folks, this won't be one of those novels that some people write because they like to see themselves in print. I'll make it quick and simple. I read many, many reviews about this ship and this cruise before going. Some were very negative, some were far too flowery. Let me set the record straight for everyone: 1. If you are going on a cruise for peace and quiet and elegant dining and all the amenities of the Ritz Carlton, don't book your cruise with Carnival. If you do, don't complain, because it's your own fault. Carnival is a family friendly, kid friendly cruise-line and if you don't like kids, shame on you for one, but secondly, don't go on a Carnival Cruise. 2. The food. The food is good. It's not great, it's not disappointing. Tiffany's for breakfast and lunch is just as good as going to the dining rooms. The selection isn't as broad, but the food is good. The ice-cream and frozen yogurt machines are a nice touch and got a constant workout by all ages. The deli-sandwich bar is also a nice touch. Regarding dinner in the main dining rooms... I would suggest to CCL that they cut back on the number of main course items offered each night and increase the quality of the items. Don't get me wrong- nothing on the menu was bad. As an executive in the food industry, I easily identified areas where they cut back on the quality- especially in the center-of-the-plate items. It seems that there goal is to introduce 5-star dining to people who don't get a chance to enjoy it in real life. This is an admirable goal and they do a pretty good job of it. But, as I said, they could stand to cut back in quantity and concentrate a little more in quality. A side note...they don't advertise it, but if you don't like what is being offered as a main course on any given night, you always have the option of filet mignon, chicken breast, or salmon filet. Nice touch, especially for the younger crowd. 3. The crew and the service. I can't say enough good things about the crew. Not one single employee on that ship, including the guy polishing brass early one morning, failed to stop walking, stop working, or stop talking with other crew members in order to say hello as we walked by. It was amazing. Waitstaff at dinner were prompt, courteous, and professional. Not one single member of CCL I encountered failed to impress me. Enough said. 4. Entertainment on board. The Broadway style singing and dancing show was above average. The comedian (Al Ramiro...I think) was lousy. 5. Excursions. Hey, they are what you make of them. In Progresso, don't waste your time taking the long tour to Mayan ruins...take the shorter one to Dzilchaltun(spelling)...the ruins are just as nice and it only takes half a day instead of the whole day. I would wholeheartedly recommend Coral Breezes in Belize for an excursion. If you take the snorkeling tour to Caye Caulker - Shark/Ray Alley (really good stuff) try to get a tour guide named Henni. She is not only professional, but absolutely hilarious. She grew up on Caye Caulker and adds excellent flavor to the trip. Take this cruise. Have some fun. Read Less
Sail Date August 2005
Overall the cruise was a pleasant experience. I have cruised Carnival only one other time. Before that have been on NCL and RCI. I live in Houston so this is a perfect short weekend getaway without a plane. We drive to the terminal, drop ... Read More
Overall the cruise was a pleasant experience. I have cruised Carnival only one other time. Before that have been on NCL and RCI. I live in Houston so this is a perfect short weekend getaway without a plane. We drive to the terminal, drop off luggage, park the car, wait in a not too long of a line in a nicely air conditioned area and board. It is so simple. Too bad there are not more exotic locations that we can travel to in a short time from our home. The service was good (not outstanding or even great). Our dining experience was ok. I have had better service and much better food on past cruises. The wait staff had soooo many tables to serve that it was difficult for them to make us feel special. Sometimes the food came warm or not hot. The room steward was fine. He and his helper did a good job. The room was just right for me and my sister. My mother had a room to herself and the steward had made the two beds into one larger bed but she requested he changed it and he did so very promptly. The entertainment was lackluster. I did not get to stay up for the comedian. I would have liked to but was just too tired. We did not do a shore excursion. The fitness room was super. I worked out one morning and the equipment was the same as my gym. I was happy about that. Spa was overpriced. My attendant did not push any products on me. The last cruise that was not the case. I was grateful she didn't. It is very uncomfortable for me when the do that especially after getting a relaxing massage. I don't know that I would repeat that same cruise again. Need more destinations and more nights away. Read Less
Sail Date July 2005
We made it back...Thank God!! The captain kept us clear of the hurricane but it was a bummer having 5 sea days. This was my third cruise, the first on Voyager of the Seas and the second on Navigator of the Seas. I went into this with an ... Read More
We made it back...Thank God!! The captain kept us clear of the hurricane but it was a bummer having 5 sea days. This was my third cruise, the first on Voyager of the Seas and the second on Navigator of the Seas. I went into this with an open mind knowing full well I couldn't compare apples to oranges. Overall out of a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being high, I would rate the Ecstasy as a 7. Here's my review. Embarkation - This was fairly simple. But a quick side note about getting to the port that I didn't realize or read and just forgot. 45 South takes you straight to the port, literally. 45 turns into Broadway. When you make a left on Kempner this street dead ends into the port. Where you're directed to turn left, drop off your luggage and then go and park. You catch a shuttle back to the port terminal. I used EZcruise and everything went wonderful. My car was intact upon return and they were courteous and prompt. This is just an open fenced car lot. It's not very big. We reserved back in March. They were sold out for the Ecstasy cruises through I think Labor Day. So if you're cruising during the summer months make sure you reserve in advance. They shuttle you directly to the cruise terminal and unload your luggage where the porters handle them from there. Registration went well. I didn't like waiting with everyone until 12:30 (we arrived early) to board the ship. They had two guys telling corny stories and such to pass time. They told us how we were going to board and that our rooms were not ready so go to the Lido deck and grab a bite to eat. Once we were cleared to board they had two lines going for us to take pictures. This went fast we were sitting on the far side, the last group to board and we were taking pictures w/in 10 minutes of them releasing us to board. After the group picture, they had about 3 or 4 stations setup to take our sign and sail card picture. This also went very swiftly, wait time maybe 2 minutes. Onto the ship and to the Lido deck to eat. First Impression - It's not RCCL but it is OK. For a first time cruiser I think this is perfect for them. We were a group of 6, 4 first timers, ages 18 - 57. I had two cruises on RCCL and my friend had cruised on Fantasy a couple of years ago. Yes, there's some wear and tear. But nothing like the reviews I read. If you look for it you will find it. Otherwise, it's a well run and beautiful ship. Everyone complains about the blue. I wouldn't have noticed it accept I read several reviews about it. In the atrium at night when it's lit up the walls have three dimensional building figurines on them. When you lookup at the walls it reminds me of downtown all lit up in the midnight sky. So I thought it was pretty cool. The ship is laid out pretty good. They do use every available space. Behind the Panorama Grill on both sides are decks w/ tables with an excellent view. The slide on the Lido deck is pretty cool. It was open and stayed pretty busy. The lines were never long maybe max 10 people deep at any given time. Atrium/Promenade - Compared to the VOS/NOS, no comparison. However, it was nice and served its purpose. But O, how I missed the warm cookies served at the bistro/cafe on VOS/NOS. I missed them really bad and was very disappointed that the REAL cookies on Ecstasy cost $1.75 ( I think). Big disappointment. At least when the food wasn't that great at Dinner on VOS I could always fill up on warm cookies and ice cream. There isn't a long Promenade on Ecstasy. Basically, the atrium consists of the winding stairs. You can see straight up but that's it. There isn't the long promenade you can walk down with the bars, shops, casinos, cafe and the cabins overlooking the promenade like on the VOS. It's just a small area that you can look up to the other decks. This kind of threw me off because I was expecting the promenade like on the VOS. Anyway, it served it's purpose, great back drop for formal pictures. LOL!! Food - OK, I was a little disappointed. I always go to the dining room. I went to the dining room the first two nights and didn't go back. My waiter, Subi and assistant, Imade was not in sync. Subi didn't even know his assistants name. The dining room food was below par to me. RCCL has them beat. Yes, the TEA is AWFUL. I was quite disappointed that they wouldn't serve me lemonade. And I'm not a water person, meaning all water taste the same to me. But there was a clear difference in the water on the ship. And if I noticed it, it had to be really bad. I'm one of those people who don't purchase bottled water because I think it's a scam. So I don't know if something was wrong with the water or what but it tasted significantly different from the tap water at home (Plano, TX). Pizza was good but thank God for the hamburgers and hot dogs. Carnival has RCCL beat on this. The outside Lido deck "Snack Bar" right by the pool, grilling hamburgers and hot dogs. What more could a country girl ask for. And they serve the hamburgers with a pickle, crisp lettuce, tomato and CHEESE! Hot dogs are served with sour kraut and chili. O, guess what they have French fries. And they're pretty good. So this was dinner the remaining 3 nights. They stop serving at 6pm I think. So we would check the Panorama to see what they had and always make our way back for hamburgers, hot dogs or pizza. The Pizza and Deli at the back of the Panorama was also great and we visited them quite often. Like I mentioned early, I really missed the cafe on the VOS just because I didn't have to go all the way outside to grab a quick snack. Cabin - It served its purpose...somewhere to sleep and change clothes. My first inside cabin. I missed the balcony and will probably book balconies from here on out. Everyone says the inside rooms are so dark. I was a little paranoid going into it but it's not any different from going into a dark room. You see light through the cracks at the bottom of the door and the Ecstasy has a board on the wall that lights up. Not bright, just a dim light behind a picture. Perfect I think if you have kids in the room. I fell asleep with it on several nights and it didn't bother me. I actually liked the bathroom. The shower was larger than the cylinder shower tube on the VOS. The shower curtain was not a big deal. I guess I just don't understand why Carnival won't invest in sturdy and durable shower curtains. You can get them all day long at Wal-Mart for $2 or $3. Plenty of storage in the closet as well as shelves. Suitcase fits under the bed. You might need to bring some hangers if you packed a lot of clothes you need to hang up. We ran out after I unpacked my things. I missed the interactive TV on the VOS that showed your sign and sail account, dinner menu and room service menu. Room service menu on the Ecstasy was very limited. More things are available through room service on the VOS. Movies were good. Yes, I know why are you watching TV on a cruise...because I was on her for 5 days. SMILE!!! Hitch, Robots, Ms. Congeniality II, Coach Carter. I hadn't seen any of these movies so it was GREAT for me. The down comforters are quite cozy. The ship is always COLD to the point where you need long sleeves or a sweater/light jacket. We had them bring us an extra blanket for our beds at night. It was really cold. O, there's not a thermostat in the room. I can't remember if there's one on the VOS or not. Entertainment - This is another area that was disappointing. Everyone says the "FUN SHIP", so I was expecting wild and crazy games all day every day. New creative ideas. NOT, they were the same games pretty much as on VOS. They did have Survivor and Fear Factor which VOS/NOS did not have when I cruised. So those were pretty cool. But I kept expecting more because everyone says they're the Fun Ship. I know we were on her 5 days but other than the two games mentioned above everything else was the same. Yes, I missed Quest. The clubs were cool, just like anything else it depends on the crowds in the club that make it or break it. The Lido deck DJ was pretty cool. He played ole' school music most of the time. Just a good groove to kick back and relax. Midnight Comedian was extremely vulgar so I left. A few curse words here and there is what I expected and adult topics. I think he went over the edge...dirty vulgar topics and language. I didn't attend any shows. I tried but I didn't like the layout of the Blue Sapphire lounge. I think it was just a personal thing. I'm short and I couldn't find a good seat if I didn't sit in the front. This ship had Karaoke all day every day. Way too much in my opinion. By the second day I was sick of it. The casino served it's purpose. I gave my donation. They had penny and nickel machines. My DS won $31 on her first try on the nickel machine. But that's about as far as our luck went. Kids - They said we had over 600 kids on board. Either Camp Carnival kept them busy or they were somewhere I didn't find. There was probably the same 15 - 20 kids on the Lido deck every day. They were well mannered and basically enjoying the pool and slide. Yes, they hogged the jacuzzi but that's just kids being kids. I didn't notice any misbehaving, unruly kids. Kids hang out in hall ways and elevators so I would see the same two or three groups in these spots. But as they explored the ship I seen less of them. I think they found the nook and crannies just because we were on the ship for 5 days straight. Debarkation - No customs...straight off the ship onto the EZCruise shuttle. Whoever thought of self assist debarkation...I LOVE YOU!! Yes, I had to tote my luggage up two flights of stairs but I'll do that any day not to have to find my luggage in a warehouse. The carousels by color like at the airports are a wonderful thing on RCCL at the Miami port. Things to Note - Most of their formal pictures were 8 X 10, $20. I thought this was a scam. They wouldn't sell you a 5 X 8 unless you purchased the 8 X 10 first. The day to day pictures were 5 X 8 so I didn't understand why the formal photos were not 5 X 8. Well I do understand, they were trying to make a profit. But I don't believe this was fair. Once you purchase the 8 X 10 you can purchase a combo pack. This included one 4X6, 2 wallets and one 5X8 for $10. These four pictures come on one sheet of 8X10 paper. You cut them out yourself. If you order hot tea, they use Lipton tea. So I'm still puzzled why the tea in the dining room and on the Lido deck was horrible. They have $10 gifts in the Galleria store. I didn't notice until my roommate made mention of it. They have ice cream and low fat yogurt. The ice cream was yummy. They have toppings, ice cream cones and bowls available. Casino charges a 3% ser charge to use your sign and sail card. The dessert wasn't all that great. However, my lil' sis' found the real desserts at a lil' cafe across from the Internet cafe. O, the Internet Cafe is not private. The computers are on tall bar tables setup on the side of the hallway to the Starlight lounge. The library is not open 24X7, they open an hour in the morning and an hour in the late afternoon. Yes, I did get bored about the 3rd day. So off I went to explore which is how I stumbled upon the decks at the back of the ship behind the Panorama Grill. There were things happening on the ship all day long, I just expected more "fun" activities on the Lido deck besides the normal hairy chest contest and newly wed type games. On the Lido deck the DJ played from about 10ish/11ish to 1 or so and then they would play a game or two and then the Calypso band would play in the afternoon. I guess I was expecting fun interactive games on deck all day. What they offered was entertaining but I expected more because they are labeled the "Fun Ship". I didn't see any chair hogging and the weather was spectacular. Actually the area on deck between the stage and the grill always had deck chair/lounges available. I also liked how Carnival how tables and chairs along the sides of the deck in the shade. This was excellent for us because we lounged on deck playing cards and what not enjoying the music. I now agree that Carnival does need a private island, for hurricane times. One more thing, I thought for sure we would go to New Orleans and then on to Key West because of Hurricane Emily. When they cancelled Cozumel, I thought to myself I told them to go to Key West safe from the hurricane. Later that day in the elevator a gentleman said the same thing. I told him I thought the exact same thing, especially since they knew the hurricane would hit Cozumel. O well, thank God everyone is safe. Overall - I'll try Carnival again. Mainly because I have a half off cruise due to Hurricane Emily. But I really want to try one of their newer ships to see if they compare to VOS. As mentioned before you really can't compare the Ecstasy to VOS/NOS. These are to totally different ships. BLOT - cruise Ecstasy as your first cruise and then try VOS/NOS. You'll fall in love with VOS/NOS and only cruise Ecstasy for a weekend getaway. If cost isn't a factor cruise VOS/NOS. If it's your first time and you don't know if you can stay on a ship 7 nights cruise Ecstasy to test yourself. If you are totally clueless but what something nice cruise VOS/NOS. If you're cheap cruise Ecstasy. Read Less
Sail Date July 2005
First of all this was my very first cruise. I went with my 16 yr old daughter and church group of 40, including my pastor and wife who recommended this cruise. Since I knew the name of ship ahead of time I started doing some research to ... Read More
First of all this was my very first cruise. I went with my 16 yr old daughter and church group of 40, including my pastor and wife who recommended this cruise. Since I knew the name of ship ahead of time I started doing some research to get familiar with this ship and what to expect. We were traveling in from Temple, Tx, and arrived at the port around 1:30 p.m.. Embarkation was a breeze, things moved smooth and quickly and I was very impressed. Since I knew the ship's first sail was in 1991 (15 years ago), I expected to see some "wear and tear" which made the ship's overall condition not a surprise, because there was lots of wear and tear all over, which was to be expected. We started sail at 4 p.m with a smooth take off, I didn't even realize we had taken off, it was so smooth. It did get a little uneasy at night with the movement of the ship but it was tolerable. The food was very good, I think the chefs/cooks did a wonderful job. There were several staff members who stood out and made this cruise very memorable because of their courteousness; "brown sugar" (can't remember his first name, may have been Mariarta), he was our waiter at table 261 during the 8 p.m. dinner seating, and my daughter thought "Miguel" (also a waiter) did a wonderful job as well; "Christo" in the photo shop was so very pleasant also. The fitness/spa center was one of the best I've ever seen and very well kept, very impressive. Debarkation was long, but hassle free so it wasn't a problem at all, considering all the people that had to get off the ship. My overall experience aboard cruise ship Ecstasy was very good and pretty much of what I expected. Read Less
Sail Date June 2005
Pros and Cons of Cruising: Overall the trip went very smoothly and I think cruising is a really good value for the money. There are a lot of pros and cons to cruising and there are things I would do differently next time. The ship is ... Read More
Pros and Cons of Cruising: Overall the trip went very smoothly and I think cruising is a really good value for the money. There are a lot of pros and cons to cruising and there are things I would do differently next time. The ship is basically a enormous floating hotel. There is very little stress involved in cruising, the smallest detail is always taken care of. Safety is never a concern. You get to visit ports of call that you might otherwise have never thought to visit. As for the cons, it isn't the most adventurous way to travel, you certainly aren't going to absorb any local culture in your short stay at any port, but the cool thing is that you can get ideas of places you would like to return for a longer duration like we did when we found Xcaret. Cruising is also not the most romantic or intimate way to travel. You are on the boat with approximately 800 other people. The rooms are nice and always impeccably clean, but still very small and you can only spend so much time in there before you get a little claustrophobic. I would totally recommend cruising for large groups of friends and family, but not necessarily for a honeymoon or romantic getaway. Of course this is just my personal opinion, as there were a lot of honeymooners on the cruise. But the cruise was perfect for us because two of my oldest friends came on the cruise and one of my newer friends and her husband and 15 month old baby came. I met Michele when we were both pregnant and Isabella and Sienna are very close in age. I HIGHLY recommend traveling with friends that have children the same age as your own. First, they understand and respect the constraints of traveling with children. Second, you can swap babysitting like we did and get some alone time. The ship: Our ship was the MS Ecstasy, one of Carnival's "fun ships". Like I said earlier the ship is just a big floating hotel with lots and lots of amenities. It had 2 main dining rooms in which all major meals were served, several restaurants, a sushi bar, and a 24 hour buffet. The buffet room was one of the ugliest rooms I have ever seen in my life! The ship had some seriously tacky decor in certain areas. It was supposed to be a New York theme, but it just looked pretty tacky and outdated in a lot of areas, but this didn't detract too much from the cruise since it was something to laugh about. The ship also had 3 pools, a fully equipped gym and spa which was the most tastefully decorated part of the ship. There was a big theatre, a casino, several bars and tons of areas to just lounge around. The Lido deck was always a fun place to hang out and just people watch. I only got in the pool once and about 3 seconds was enough for me. The water was frigid and splashes all over the place. There is always something to do on the ship at all times. We never went to any shows because they are really late, but I don't think we missed out too much. Isabella really enjoyed the ship. There was always something for her to look at or get into. She is in a phase where she loves climbing stairs so we did a lot of that! There was a play area near Camp Carnival and that worked out really well. The kiddie pool looked okay, but we never got in. I don't think Isabella would have liked it too much since the water sloshed around a lot. Camp Carnival looked like a lot of fun and seemed really well organized. I was disappointed that Isabella was too young. Food: Any and all food you consume while on the ship is completely free. The only thing you have to pay extra for is sodas and alcohol. There is the 24 hour pizza buffet and soft serve yogurt. We chose to dine in the main dining room for most of our meals. Those meals were mostly above par. The waiters were extremely formal, really too formal considering that this cruise embarks from Galveston and our fellow passengers are not the most sophisticated lot. But the wait staff was always very friendly and extremely accommodating. Our waiter, Goran, was from Croatia and we determined that he never actually said the word "no" to us the entire time we were on the ship. He always had some really nice way of refusing us, but never "no". It became our mission to get him to say "no", but he never cracked! Anyway, the dinners were pretty good, the highlight being formal night when they served lobster tail. The appetizers were my favorite part. Carnival's soups are amazing! Breakfast was great as well. I had bagels and locks one morning, but for the rest of the trip I had eggs benedict. It was the best hollandaise sauce I have ever had. Besides the pizza, the buffet was best avoided. It smelt really bad and looked worse. My husband fell in love with the french fries, but I pretty much avoided this area. The sushi bar was open from 5 to 8 pm every night so we always grabbed a few pieces before or after dinner and it was surprisingly good with a pretty diverse selection. The waiters were always really great with Isabella and never acted like she was a hassle. Dining was probably the hardest part with Isabella. She is extremely active and has a hard time sitting still so a 4 course meal is a lot to ask from her. We took turns walking her around the dining room quite a bit. She is a good eater so she basically ate what we ate. If you have a picky eater I would recommend maybe bringing some snacks to the dining room just in case. Outside of the main dining room it is really easy to find food for the kiddos. There is fresh fruit on the buffet at all times, as well and juice and milk. I'm not sure if formula is available, but if you have a baby on formula I'd check or just bring your own. The service: All I can say about this is that you really are treated like royalty for the entire time you are on the ship. This is one of the best parts and the most hard part to adjust to back on land. Our room steward was from India and he was extremely helpful and our room was always very clean and the beds were turned down every night with mints and one of Carnival's cute little trademark towel animal sculptures. The staff on board is almost entirely foreign with what seems like almost every single country represented. That was another very cool part. The staff was much more interesting than our fellow passengers. They always have interesting stories to tell. What makes it more amazing that they provide such great service is that they are away from their friends, family and country for 7 to 9 months of the year! If it were me I would be seriously cranky watching all these people get to vacation with their friends and family every week! The only problem I had was when we got down to only one diaper and we had one full day left. I couldn't get anyone to tell me where I could find more diapers. They don't sell them in the gift shop and our steward was clueless about it. We did end up finding them in the infirmary for $1/diaper. The people in the infirmary were really nice. The other baby on our trip had an upper respiratory infection and they were really great with her and promptly gave her some antibiotics. We also had a few issues with the photo shop, but it is really too petty to even mention here. The ports: This was another great part of the cruise. Since we had Isabella we chose more low key excursions and that turned out to be a very good decision. My two single friends spent $80 on some wretched Eco-jeep excursion in which the "included meal" was a bag of Doritos. If you have kids, or even if you don't you should choose your excursions wisely. They are very expensive and it is really disappointing if they are no fun. It is a whole day of vacation wasted. Do research and ask around for advice. Our first stop was Puerto Maya, Cozumel which is a cute little port with lots of shopping, but like most places in Mexico, the shopping gets very repetitive and being a port town with lots of tourism the prices were no better than the states. We spent a total of $10 between both ports of call. We took a 10 minute bus ride to Playa Mia, a nice private beach. The beach was average, nicer than a Texas beach, but not anything to write home about. We had access to an open bar and a really GOOD buffet while we were there. Isabella loved the sand and jumping the waves with her dad in the ocean. The water was very rough so we were not able to snorkel. Overall a good time though. After the beach we went back to ship to get cleaned up and then back out to see the town. Again, not much to get excited about. We took a cab to the downtown area. We looked for a local restaurant that someone had recommended to us, but could never find it and made a big mistake by eating at Senor Frogs! The drunk Americans were too much! I felt horrible having Isabella in there and our bill was outrageous for what we got. Live and learn. Our next port was Playa del Carmen. The port was UGLY, but we took a bus to Xcaret, an eco-water park. This was the absolute best thing about the entire trip. Xcaret is an amazingly beautiful place! The beach was like something from a dream or a movie set. It was pristine. The park is huge and has all kinds of wild life, dolphins, turtles, jaguars, etc. There main attraction is an underground river which you can snorkel. We didn't see a lot of fish until the very end, but the caves and rock formations were amazing. We did not have nearly enough time at this place and will definitely go back on my own and I highly recommend it to anyone! It is a perfect place for families with children of all ages. It would also be great for just couples or singles or whatever. It has something for everyone. Overall I would give our cruise experience a 7.5 out of 10. It was a very good and inexpensive intro to cruising. I will definitely cruise again although I will do a few things differently. I would like to wait until Isabella is a little older and can take part in the ship's activities for children. She was a little too young at 16 months since they start accepting them at 2 years old. I would definitely like to go on a longer cruise with more exotic ports of call and I would do a little more research in choosing the ship. I hate to harp on the decor, but I would like slightly more elegant surroundings next time. I will probably choose a different Cruise line next time as well just for a different experience. Read Less
Sail Date May 2005
These are just random thoughts - not really a cohesive trip report . . . . . . Embarkation: We parked at EZCruise parking (just an aside - last time I used Dolphin parking, and preferred it to EZ. The only reason I preferred it was ... Read More
These are just random thoughts - not really a cohesive trip report . . . . . . Embarkation: We parked at EZCruise parking (just an aside - last time I used Dolphin parking, and preferred it to EZ. The only reason I preferred it was because Dolphin has actual covered parking, while EZ simply places a cover on your car.) We arrived at the terminal at 11am, went through the Skipper's check in and were on the ship within 15 minutes. Our cabin was ready! Cabin was a good-sized suite; everything was clean and looked fairly new, except for the bathroom which was almost indescribable unless you see it! These bathrooms need some serious refurb, especially the bathtubs and the very utilitarian commodes. Tiles on walls and ceilings were apparently being replaced one by one as needed - quite a melange of color! Coco, our steward, did a great job - providing us with two always-full ice buckets, extra pillows, anything we needed. We ate lunch in the Panorama Grill and just explored the ship til muster (quick and painless) and sailaway. Dinner was late seating in the Windstar dining room. Our assistant waiter, Simone, was a delight - very efficient, quite personable, and beautiful as well ! The food on board was acceptable - presented in a typical cruise fashion. Keep in mind that it must be difficult to prepare 2000 dinners at once! (A note for those first time cruisers - on this particular ship, there were a lot of Texans from smaller towns, and I heard many people say that the food was much different than they were used to, just different pairings and ingredients. But they all enjoyed it !). The buffet stations/salad/fruit bar in the Panorama Grill always had lines, and served more familiar types of food. The Ecstasy also has the requisite Deli, 24 hour Pizzeria, and Lido Grill. My niece had room service sandwiches, wraps and salads several times, and deemed the wraps and Chicken Caesar salad to be quite good. Entertainment: I saw both "production" shows - the first one (Dream Voyage) was your typical cruise attempt at Broadway - not bad if you had a glass of wine or two ! The female lead has a tremendous voice, great stage presence. "Xtreme Country" is a new show, and while I am not a particular fan of all country shows, this one was actually pretty good ! The late night adult comedian, Tim Harkelroad, was good, played to a full house. I've seen his show three times before, and it remains much the same, but if you've never seen it, he's pretty entertaining. The casino is your typical tight cruise ship casino, although this time I played a bit of the $1 slots and came out ahead by about $400. The table games weren't as kind, but I expected that going in. Did the slot tournament just to keep my friend company, and ended up going to the finals both times, placed second in the first tournament and 4th in the second tournament. The Neon Bar has a piano player who is just great; just a bunch of people sitting around, drinking if they wish, and participating in a good old fashioned singalong. . . . . . . The Carnival Capers lists several different goings-on at the Neon Bar, all at the same time, and it is impossible to figure out who is participating in the Singles Meet, or the Friends of Dorothy Meet (but its fun to try and figure out who's who!). Met a few new friends in here, and have already exchanged a few emails with them after the fact . . . . Got roped into playing bingo with my niece, it was amusing. I participated in the scratch off lottery thingy, and won $200 on those, plus a bottle of champagne and a piece of reproduction artwork in the "Loser's Drawing". Life Onboard: Never a wait for a deck chair, whether it was on Lido deck or wherever - guess we lucked out this cruise. Went to the topless deck most days, it was quieter, and a good place to observe the goings-on below. . . . . Internet accessibility was good, I never experienced a wait for an open computer, didn't even break out my own laptop . . . . Had a great time in the Starlight Lounge listening to the Karaoke entertainment . . . its amazing what some people will do when they are under the influence! Ventured into "Stripes" and "Chinatown" dance clubs once or twice with my niece and my friend - danced a few times, but I am mostly into quieter music and entertainment! I went to the Fitness Center every day, just to get some exercise, good machines, not too crowded. Didn't use the Spa services this time. I am sure I've left out many details of interest . . . if you are interested, I saved all of the Carnival Capers, and can fax them upon request . . . . . If you have any questions, feel free to email me, and I will happily answer them! Read Less
Sail Date April 2005
To begin with, embarkation was a nightmare. We had to wait in the Galveston terminal for over 2 hours to board the ship. Of course they expect you to smile after standing in line like cattle so that you can have your picture taken. Once ... Read More
To begin with, embarkation was a nightmare. We had to wait in the Galveston terminal for over 2 hours to board the ship. Of course they expect you to smile after standing in line like cattle so that you can have your picture taken. Once we got on board, it was better, somewhat. The room steward did just what he had with nothing extra. He never even bothered to introduce himself until I had to ask for something at the Purser's desk, at which time he was rude and snobby for the remainder of the trip. Dining was much worse than we have come to expect. We ate at the first seating in the Wind Song dining room. It was impossible to get a warm meal let alone a hot meal. The service was average at best. It was really amazing to me that the cruise director suggested that we give the maitre d' a tip. This is the only cruise I have been on (this was our 4th) and not once did we ever meet him. We ate in the dining room every night except for one when we were in Cozumel. The ship was very clean, and it was a pleasure. The seas were calm and it made for a very smooth cruise. The ship doesn't show very much wear. The bar staff, especially on the Lido deck was extremely pushy. If I really want a drink, I know how to get their attention, I really do not need or appreciate them coming up to me every five minutes asking if I am ready for another one. The worst was when I fell asleep on a deck chair and was actually woke up to ask if I wanted anything. The islands were as we expected. In Cozumel, we went on the glass bottom boat. This is fairly short, about 2 hours, but it was worth it. The view was remarkable and it still gave us plenty of time to go shopping. In Calica, we chose the beach and shopping tour. The beach was okay, but it would have been just as easy to go into town and walk 4 blocks to the beach. The shopping involved taking us to town and dropping us off, NOT allowing us to shop and get returned as advertised. We took our 10 year old daughter with us and she had a fantastic time with Camp Carnival. They really did a good job keeping her entertained so that we could all enjoy the cruise equally. The Vegas style shows were terrible. There was no synchronization with the dancers. I left about halfway through the first show, and it didn't bother me missing the other. They did have a few good comedians that made up for the missing talent at the Vegas shows. Read Less
Sail Date April 2005
I WON THIS TRIP FOR ME AND GUEST THOUGH MY COMPANY FOR GREAT SELLING THOUGH THE CHRISTMAS SEASON. 41 OTHERS HAD WON THIS TRIP AS WELL OUT OF 1300 STORES AND WERE ALOUD TO TAKE ONE GUEST. ASIDE FROM PAYING THE $1,000 IN TAXES (AS IT WAS CONSIDERED EARNED INCOME AND NOT GETTING AN EXTRA WEEKS VACATION PAY FOR THE TRIP), IT WAS ALL INCLUSIVE. EVERYONE IN MY FAMILY HAS TAKEN A CRUISE AND SAID "THAT NO ONE SHOULD DIE BEFORE TAKING AT LEAST ONE CRUISE." SO HERE ARE MY IMPRESSIONS AND COMMENTS FOR NEW CRUISERS. Embarkation- this went a little smoother than i had anticipated. we were all on a large tour bus and got there all together. check in was quick and painless. the man whom checked us in was very informative and lead us in the way we needed to go. i had received information on what to pack before i left, so i felt confident that i had everything that i needed. we were coming from 20 degree snowy weather in pittsburgh and were under the impression that it would be warm and sunny for the whole trip. new cruisers-please take a mix of summer and winter clothes! 6 out of the 7 days were overcast and very windy. had i known , i would have packed more pants and sweaters. after traveling for 4 hours and being up for 6hrs, i was not pleased to know that i had to have my photo taken before getting on the ship with all my luggage in hand. needless to say, we did not purchase that photo. as i'm sure most didn't after looking like weary travelers. the hot tubs were very nice when there were no kids in them. they should keep them open longer than 10 pm though. there were a couple of nights after coming back from the casino or a show, when i would have loved to jump in the hot tub and relax. but they close at 10pm. and they put covers over top of them, so there is no way to cheat and get in. the casinos were nice and had price ranges for everyone to play something. i saw 3 big winners ranging from $300-$1,000. but that was about it. most people lost their money. casinos/onboard stores are not open while in a port and you have to wait for about an hour after leaving a port to use them again. we were impressed with our ocean view room accommodations. wish we would have had a refrigerator to store ice and etc.. in it. not to mention my boyfriends diabetic supplies. we really couldn't see out of the dirty and wet windows most of the time. we met our stateroom steward, Virginia, who was the best server that we encountered on our cruise. she filled every request and promptly. i couldn't have asked for anyone nicer. room food service was a nice extra, even though there wasn't too much to pick from on the menu. and a few times that we ordered, they didn't give us enough silverware, sugar for our tea, or failed to give us extra condiments when requested. the r- rated comedy shows were excellent minus all the teenagers in there that were not supposed to be there. it must have been spring break because of the excess of kids which is a subject that i will return to later. the formal dining rooms were nice, although we never did meet our maitre-d. i found it comical that he wanted a tip when we never even met him. carlos was our waiter and he was excellent. his assistants ignored requests from the bar both nights we dined there though. it would have been nice to be able to request a table for just the 2 of us, as it was very uncomfortable sitting with 8 people that we had never met before. so we only dined there 2 nights due to feeling so uncomfortable. we mainly dined at tiffanys as there was more of a choice of foods. although be prepared that most people come in their in bathing suits and no shoes, which i thought would be some kind of a sanitary violation. ages 8-18 were extremely rude. pushing in front of others in lines screaming and had absolutely no manners what so ever. they were ever screaming at 3 am in the morning when we were trying to sleep. not to mention them being 1/2 dressed. the only complaint i had was that the ice cream machines never seemed to work properly. and i was rudely told i shouldn't be getting toppings for my ice cream as it was only for the camp carnival kids to build their own sundays. this was only one day. plain ice cream the rest of the time. pizza was excellent! excursions- progresso there wasn't much to see. Cozumel we went to the playa mia beach break. which was nice and reasonably priced. however we were not told there would be a cab ride each way costing $15 each way. the free drinks there were awful. beer tasted like pi-- and the frozen drinks weren't frozen. that was really the only nice weather day that we had. belize was our 3rd port of of call. our snorkeling tour was canceled due to weather, which we didn't understand, as is was sunny and nice. shopping was one strip with basically all the same stuff in every store. saw a lot of teenagers trying to buy valium and xanax at the pharmacy, where you don't need a script to buy it. buy any soda you want on land. if you don't have a drink card on the ship it is $3.95 for a can plus a 15% gratuity automatically added. i purchased a pair of pajama pants on saturday (due to it being so cold) went to put them on saturday night and they didn't fit. sizes down there are about 2 sizes smaller than in the usa. when i tried to return them, i got the run around. traveling from the shop to the pursers desk 4 times only to be late with my group getting off the ship and the manager of the onboard shop refusing to give me a refund. he was extremely rude. i had to call carnival when i came home and file a complaint. they say they are going to refund my money, so we will see. there is no dressing rooms to try any clothes on, so be very weary of buying clothes on the ship and remember that there sizes are 2 smaller than the usa. an xl here is like a medium there. so please be careful! debarkation is a pain. you will spend about a hour in line even if you are self assisting your luggage off the ship. we were very close to missing getting off with our group, not to mention the pants i couldn't return in the mess of it all. go up before they call your color to get off the ship. they don't even look at the colors of your tags, as you don't take your bags with you to check up. spa-was very nice, but expensive. if you want to go, watch the newsletter for specials. the best prices are days that the ship in port. don't get an exfoliation if you have a sunburn. watch the times they charge you for. they say 25 minutes, but it's more like 18 minutes. also, don't be suckered into buying their products. everything i told them that i use on my face and body, they told me that it was bad for me. i have perfect skin and no problems, so how could the stuff i use be so awful? now to my last and major complaint.--CHILDREN--it is a free-for-all for the 8-18 age range of kids. there is no parental supervision and the kids do whatever they want when ever they want. i personally saw teens and kids in hot tubs, the casino, r-rated comedy shows, the top deck where bathing suits are optional. all of these things are to be children free. they scream until all hours of the night, they drink alcohol, have no manners, push and walk on people, and you should hear some of the things that come out of there mouth. parents are too busy to watch them and the staff doesn't say anything to them. 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Sail Date March 2005
raveling Party: 2 adults /2 children ages 9 and 13 Sunday Embarkation: Arrived at 11am by taxi, and not many people had arrived yet, so check-in was a breeze. Carnival embarkation staff were extremely friendly. Boarded ship at 12:10pm ... Read More
raveling Party: 2 adults /2 children ages 9 and 13 Sunday Embarkation: Arrived at 11am by taxi, and not many people had arrived yet, so check-in was a breeze. Carnival embarkation staff were extremely friendly. Boarded ship at 12:10pm and cabin was not ready, so we went to eat the buffet at Tiffany's, took tour of ship, and by then, cabin was ready.. Monday: Day at sea. Sailing was very rocky from onset to Progreso; Sailing was smooth for the most part later in the week. Tuesday Progreso: We had no excursions booked. We just took the free shuttle down the pier, walked around town looking at shops, and then settled in under a covered table at the beach that belonged to a restaurant. The staff spoke no English, and we had no review of the place, so we just ordered drinks and nachos. We enjoyed the beach except for the constant pursuit of the vendors, some younger than 10 years old, who never let up. I guess they knew what they were doing.....we gave in and bought shell necklaces for the boys; $6 US total for three necklaces. We then shopped along Malecon, and thought prices were best of the three ports. We did negotiate heavily for every purchase. Wednesday Cozumel: We privately booked two excursions ahead of time through Cozumelinsider.com. We booked scuba for the morning at Chankanaab Park and parasailing in the afternoon at San Francisco Beach. Taxi for four was $10 to Chankanaab, $13 to San Francisco Beach, and $15 back to terminal. Both excursions were great, and Cozumelinsider was extremely helpful in setting up excursions. There was a fee at Chankanaab which I think came to around $36. Both beaches were great places to hang out, and the Palm Club at San Francisco had great beach service, and all beach activities, with no fees to use. There is a ton of shops available at terminal in Cozumel, but we only bought some T-shirts, as we did most of shopping in Progreso. Thursday Belize: Booked all-day private excursion (Shark/Ray Snorkeling and Caye Caulker Exploration) through Coral Breeze Limited. This was another great travel company to deal with. The stingray and shark swim was incredible. The other half of the tour was snorkeling barrier reef, and I recommend only very strong swimmers tackle this one, if not strong, just stay in boat, enjoy the views, and eagerly await stingray/ shark swim. Tendering off Elation was ran terribly by Carnival. I believe they should tender passengers who book tours through Carnival first, but they intentionally made it difficult for people who booked early tours on their own. To tender early, we were told to meet in Cole Porter lounge at 8:15 for tender stickers. I arrived at 7:15am and was second in the room. There were no signs set out and no place to line up, so we thought line would be at front of the room. People gradually filled up lounge, and at 8:15 a Carnival representative came through back of room and said everyone line up here, so people who arrived the latest got the earliest tenders. I complained to management, but they were not interested, as I think this was by design for returning guests to book excursions through Carnival. First Non-Carnival excursionist arrived at port at around 9:25am and second group arrived at 9:40am. Those with 9am excursions had to call and get their tour groups to hold up until they could arrive. Very tense for some! Carnival gets F for tender procedures. Friday: Day at sea Saturday: Day at Sea Sunday Debarkation: Was long drawn out procedure, as they did not provide estimated time to report to immigration. Carnival just told everyone to be ready for when they were called. Once we cleared immigration at 10am, getting off ship, and finding luggage was a breeze. We did have a hard time catching a Taxi. Long line of people and hardly no taxis were stopping. Finally caught cab at 10:50am. Carnival Dining: Breakfast was great at Tiffany’s and Main Dining Room. All other times I thought Tiffany’s was sub par. The main dining room was very good at dinner. Service was excellent, as was food, but food was a bit too fancy for my liking, but still by far the best dining option. The hamburgers were great on pool deck and the 24 hr pizza bar was fantastic! Late night buffets were not good at Tiffany’s, and the main ding room only had one late night buffet, which was on Friday night, and it was superb. Do get there early for the best selection! Bar service through out ship was good……..a little annoying at times (kind of like the vendors in Progreso, but not quite as bad) Entertainment: We thought entertainment was great! Good variety of good quality entertainers and comedians. Camp Carnival: Both of my kids were pleased with program. My 9 year old did his own thing for the most part, but did spend one late night with his group and had a good time. My 13 year old went to his group every night, and met a ton of friends, and hung out with them every night. Summary: We were first-timers, and should we cruise again, I think knowing the ropes will make it a better experience. Overall we had a great time, and I would recommend Elation to others…….just bear in mind I have nothing to compare it to. I did read many reviews before my trip and found them helpful and I hope this may help someone. Please feel free to Email with any questions, and I will do my best to provide helpful answers. Read Less
Sail Date March 2005
My family, husband, and 2 children (boy-7, girl-6) just enjoyed a fabulous week aboard the Elation for spring break out of Galveston. Embarking was simple and easy. We got there about noon, waited for about 20 minutes and they began ... Read More
My family, husband, and 2 children (boy-7, girl-6) just enjoyed a fabulous week aboard the Elation for spring break out of Galveston. Embarking was simple and easy. We got there about noon, waited for about 20 minutes and they began boarding. The room was full but it only took about 20 minutes to empty it and get everyone aboard. We were placed at the 6:15 dinner in the Inspiration Dining Room, Table 100. We had the BEST waiter, Luna and his helper Norman. They were nice, attentive and remembered everyone each night. We were extremely lucky in that department. The food...average! I wouldn't take this cruise if you wanted extraordinary food, but it was okay. The portions were on the smaller side, so don't be afraid to ask for more of anything. The activities were definitely for the younger crowd. Our children wanted to go to Camp Carnival just about every second on every day, so it felt like we were on vacation by ourselves. The staff at Camp Carnival was great with the kids, but their demeanor with the parents left alot to be desired. Be sure to read the schedules for each day of their activities, as they will not assume any responsibility if children are not in proper attire or even have lotion on for outdoor activities. The common sense thing went out the window and they just told the parents they expected we all studied the kids' itinerary. The excursions were EXTREMELY EXPENSIVE! Plan on spending at least $800 additionally for a family of four. Progreso - no tour is needed. There is nothing there! The best thing to do is take the free shuttle from the ship, get off and walk 1 block to the beach that is right next to the Corona Beach break which costs $75 per person. Freeloaders walked in and were drinking and eating for free and no one cared. The waters are not clear there so if you are thinking about staying on the ship, I highly recommend it, especially at least for the kids. Progreso is not kid-friendly. Cozumel was great. We did the Paradise Beach tour and it was worth the $400. The beach was gorgeous, clean, the staff was attentive. The only thing that could have been better was to have more time there. Belize, well, the waters were rough and they cancelled ALL of the snorkeling tours that whole day. WHen we got to the dock, some of the local tour guides were still offering the tours, but it was recommended not to take tours not endorsed by the Carnival line. So we just shopped. The days at sea were nice and relaxing. Calm water, blue sky! The formal nights were not very formal. Few in tuxes, some in gowns, but most ladies wore a dress and guys slacks and a shirt. If you have children, Camp Carnival can have them during that time and play games - even take them to the show. So, you don't have to worry about formal attire for them. Also, many people were still in shorts and jeans around the ship, so if you don't want to dress up, you won't feel out of place. ALSO, the shows.....agh!! the female lead was bad and the two leads sounded bad together - very cheesy! The balancing act guy was awesome and the comics were pretty good. The adult late night comedy was just a bunch of foul language. We walked out. Hope this information helps those of you, but I would recommend it to others. We had a blast. PS - disembarking....don't go right away. The line is very long! You can stay on the ship as long as possible and no one actually gets kicked out of your room. Relax, eat breakfast, go back and get dressed and you're still of the ship by noon. Read Less
Sail Date March 2005
Our party of 9 sailed on the Carnival Elation this past week. This is a second Carnival Cruise for us. In our party, two seniors, 4 adults and 3 teenagers. Getting on the ship was quick and smooth- we had done the fun pass in advance, so ... Read More
Our party of 9 sailed on the Carnival Elation this past week. This is a second Carnival Cruise for us. In our party, two seniors, 4 adults and 3 teenagers. Getting on the ship was quick and smooth- we had done the fun pass in advance, so that might have helped. This ship looked much like the Triumph that we had sailed on before. This time we had a room with a window and I have learned I will never again cruise without a window. The Elation does show a bit of wear from her age but it is still beautiful. The interior was more of a "las Vegas" style, showy. The elevators were way better than the triumph and we rarely had to wait long. The decks were not quite as crowded and finding a lounge chair did not seem as difficult as on the triumph, although part of that might have been because we didn't have quite as good of weather as our past cruise. We had early seating for dinner and I liked that so we could go to the shows early. Dinners were similar to the Triumph. The people in my group said the food wasn't as good as other cruises. I thought it was about the same. LOts of it though!! I preferred to eat in Tiffany's buffet more for breakfast. I wasn't as impressed with the entertainment on this cruise as the last. There were two "las vegas" type shows which were pretty good but two other nights of only so so comedians and one night of a juggler although amusing wasn't what we expected in quality. We found the Mikaso Lounge (theater) not as big and it had many many dead spots where posts and or equipment hindered view of the stage, that plus not enough elevation between balcony rows resulted in frustration in not being able to enjoy the show. My two major complaints were: The hot tubs. During the day they were always filled with little kids (I love little kids but carnival's policy shows kids only in hot tubs with parents) this is definitely not enforced. Every hot tub was filled with kids playing in them all day long. When we went to the hot tub in the evening after the early show, we were kicked out at 10 pm. Apparently the hot tubs are closed at that time. This was extremely frustrating. We believe that they should have had adults only from 9pm to at least 11 or 12 to give the adults a chance to relax under the stars. We were hugely disappointed with this. Secondly, On both the "broadway show" type nights in the theater, Camp carnival (the children's group) had taped off & reserved two large sections of the balcony in the best viewing spots. My family and many others were forced to sit in the very back or in bad viewing seats to make way for the 6-11 year old kids in camp carnival. We complained about this as we felt that they could sit the kids other perhaps not prime spots and allow passengers that came to really watch these broadway shows the best seats. The shore trips were Progreso, Cozumel & Belize. Three in our group were divers and dived on Cozumel & Belize & said it was excellent. The rest of us toured ruins on Progreso (excellent) shopped on Progresso (not that good) very run down city. Cozumel had good shops but no huge deals. We took a taxi to the beach (San Francisco) and found the beach with tons of seaweed & rocky to walk on. (not a great beach experience.) Belize we did cave tubing. The tubing itself was fun but the drive up to the site of tubing was almost an hour through some extremely distressed areas with bars on the windows and in ruins. The tubing was interesting but extremely shallow in many, many spots so we spent a good deal of time trying to get unstuck. (not relaxing at all as the description showed) All in all the cruise was nice. Food was pretty good. Service by wait staff exceeded expectations. Room Stewards exceeded expectations, most everyone was friendly and helpful I will cruise again, but I am not sure that it will be carnival. Next time I think I will try NCL or Princess just to compare. Read Less
Sail Date March 2005
GENERAL: We just got back yesterday (2/26/05) from our cruise on the Ecstasy out of Galveston to Cozumel and Playa del Carmen. This is a first time cruise for my husband and I (we went with our Supper Club group - there were 8 of us). The ... Read More
GENERAL: We just got back yesterday (2/26/05) from our cruise on the Ecstasy out of Galveston to Cozumel and Playa del Carmen. This is a first time cruise for my husband and I (we went with our Supper Club group - there were 8 of us). The cruise ship is very glitzy looking and I liked the neon lights in the Grand Atrium. The rooms were so-so looking - I thought they would look a little more luxurious but that's okay. The single beds were pushed together to make a king size bed and it was very comfortable. The news stations on the TV were out of New York - which is crazy, they should have had national news stations so you could find out what major things were going on in your part of the world and they should have had the Weather station so you could know what the weather was going to be like when you got back into Galveston (turns out it was much cooler than when we had left). We were on the Upper Deck so we always took the stairs to get a little exercise. SAILING: We had very smooth sailing (don't believe people when they say you can't feel the boat moving - you can). I do tend to get motion sickness so I took a 'Bonine' every morning and I was fine, though at the beginning I felt light-headed, like I'd been drinking (who needs alcohol when you feel that way). On our last day, there were 6 foot swells so for awhile we looked drunk when walking around because we staggered back and forth (we were told that our trip had been one of the smoothest ones). We didn't have to adjust to the land at all when we got back. There was plenty to do on the boat, and we were basically doing things all the time so we never got to lay out by the pool to soak up some sun until the last day and it ended up being cloudy, windy, and cooler so we missed out on that. COZUMEL: At Cozumel we opted to have our own excursion. We rented a taxi for 4 hours for $25 a person. He took us all over the island and we stopped at Playa Corona (a bar/restaurant on the beach) to do some snorkeling (it was great) and then our taxi driver dropped us off at Senor Frogs. We didn't spend much time there as it was too loud for us and the age group was your typical 18-25 group so we took a taxi ($14) back to the boat so we could freshen up for supper (we didn't have to spend extra money on a meal). PLAYA DEL CARMEN: We did do an excursion to Xcaret. This was well worth it ($59/ea). It's a park with underground and mayan rivers, nature and wildlife, and beautiful beaches. We went to the butterfly pavilion, the jaguar and puma island, the deers and monkeys, the coral reef aquarium, the marine turtles, and an inlet. We brought our own snorkeling gear (though it didn't fit too well in their small lockers). We took a 20 minute boat ride on the river, but standing in line for it was even longer and so I would nix that in order to spend time doing other things. We had wanted to snorkel in the river with the underground caves but we didn't have enough time (the signs to get to each area are not very good so it was frustrating how much time we spent looking for our destinations). So, we found an inlet where we could snorkel and saw so many fish - it was great. We later talked to someone waiting to take the bus back to the boat who had gone snorkeling in the underwater river and they said there were no fish at all so we were glad we'd gone to the inlet. I would definitely go back to the Xcaret. FOOD: The food on the boat was good, though the breakfast menu never changed. We ate on the Lido deck at the buffet for breakfast once, and I just preferred eating in the dining room for the experience of different higher quality meals. Thankfully the portions were not big (when you eat 4 courses each meal, that was a good thing). I did send one meal back and got something different as I didn't care for the beef wellington (I don't like liver pate). Did you know that you can have as many choices of each course as you want? We saw one lady get two different courses of the main dish and two different desserts. Looking back, I would have not eating so many bread rolls (they give you two and came around and gave you more later), and limited myself to one dessert a day. CLOTHING: Boy, did we ever pack took much. Our 29" suitcase was filled with clothes we never wore (except for my gown, his sport coat and our shoes). Our 26" suitcase was filled strictly with all our dirty clothes, which means we could pretty much have done without one of our suitcases. We had a rolling duffel bag which had our snorkeling equipment, bottles of champagne, 6 pack of cokes and a dozen water bottles in it. We had a 20" suitcase with our toiletries, and one carry-on suitcase with a few essentials (we read that we should have a change of clothes and some toiletries in case our bags did not arrive in time for dinner - they did), so really we could have eliminated that carry-on bag but we put our night clothes and a few toiletries in it for the return because we had to have the rest our luggage out of our rooms by midnight the evening before we got back in port. ESSENTIALS/NON-ESSENTIALS: I had read online about what people would definitely bring the next time, and really, most of those things we didn't use. We didn't use the duct tape or the shoe organizer for the bathroom (we had a medicine cabinet in the bathroom that held all our toiletries), and the way the towel bars were on the walls and on the door, there was no place to hang it. We found a small power strip at Walgreens that had 3 outlets and a nightlight for $3.99 which served us fine. Beach towels are provided and you can take them off the boat for excursions. We forgot our blow dryer and they provided us with one. There was a room on our deck that had washers and dryers and two ironing boards with irons set up. I did buy some of that Downy Wrinkle Releaser which needs to be used ahead of time so it has time to dry and I would say that it barely works. DUTY-FREE: At the duty-free shop on board, they had a sampling of liqueurs one night and we bought a couple of bottles (Texans are only allowed 1 liter of liquor per person but up to 11 bottles of wine - though you aren't allowed to drink it until you debark). Their prices are a little better than the duty-free shop in Cozumel. I would wait until the last day of sailing to purchase things as the souvenir T-shirts were 2 for $20 and some liqueurs came down in price also. I bought a cute necklace and earrings for $10. SHOWS: There were all kinds of shows and activities on the boat. Karaoke almost every night. A band called "The Breeze" which would play a large variety of music and there was no smoking in the Starlight lounge. We went to a newlywed game show, bingo (prize was a cruise and another time it was $500), Las Vegas-style shows, comedians, talent night, etc. Most all were quite enjoyable. I would go to the early shows as the comedians are PG-13 rather than R or X-rated at the later shows. PICTURES: Do take advantage of the photographers taking pictures of you and for posed pictures with different backgrounds - they do a beautiful job. We wish that we'd had one taken at the formal evening. It doesn't cost a thing to have pictures taken. You just pay for the pictures that you want and they are all displayed at the photo shop where you can throw away all the ones you don't want (or want anyone else to look at). OVERALL: I would recommend this cruise for first-time cruisers - a great experience, though some day I would like to take a different cruise, maybe even a different cruise line. We talked to several people who have cruised 5, 6 and 7 times and they enjoyed this cruise. Activities generally didn't start on time. I never did get the hang of where things were - my good sense of direction left me when I boarded this ship. Staff was professional (everyone was from a foreign country), though I don't know if they enjoyed their jobs, as not many of them smiled. Our head waiter was very hard to understand and he did not understand some of our questions which could be quite frustrating. Our cruise director was great (he was from the U.S.) and he had a great sense of humor. I would definitely give this cruise 2 thumbs up! Read Less
Sail Date February 2005
Carnival Jubilee, February 12-17 2005, 5-day, out of Galveston This was our 9th cruise, the 4th on Carnival (the other 3 were on the Sensation, Victory and Jubilee). The other five cruises were on Royal Caribbean (Monarch and Rhapsody), ... Read More
Carnival Jubilee, February 12-17 2005, 5-day, out of Galveston This was our 9th cruise, the 4th on Carnival (the other 3 were on the Sensation, Victory and Jubilee). The other five cruises were on Royal Caribbean (Monarch and Rhapsody), Celebrity (Galaxy and Mercury) and Norwegian Sea. We still prefer RCL to the other cruise lines, but will continue to cruise Carnival because of good prices and embarkation port location. Our last 5-day cruise on Carnival Jubilee took place during Spring Break so this cruise, though only a month earlier, was far less crowded and the weather was still quite nice. There were some kids on the cruise, but not many - certainly not the 750 "under 21s" on our last cruise. This cruise was also different for us in that it's the first cruise we've taken without our 20 and 18-year-old daughters - they were off in college, sigh... Anyway, we cruised with my parents (they're in their 70s) and had a nice, relaxing cruise. Embarkation - got there at 11:30 and were on the ship and in our rooms by around noon - no lines or crowds - it was great! I had a couple of bottles of wine in my checked bag and a couple in my carryon bag - no one commented on the wine in my carryon Cabin We did two OV GTY (Ocean-View Guarantee) cabins this time and were upgraded from 6A cabins to 6D cabins. Our cabins were assigned about 33 days before the departure date - E172 and E174. We really enjoyed the location of these cabins as they were one floor below our dining room (Wind Song) and 2 floors below the Promenade deck - we were able to take the stairs a lot to get around. They were also fairly quiet although we could occasionally hear people talking in the hall and the occasional elevator ringing. It certainly NEVER disturbed our sleep and I would highly recommend this location. The cabins were roomy with a stool under the dressing table, a chair, the two twins clamped together and made up as a queen (felt more like a king). The beds were very comfortable with the down duvets although I did tend to wake up overheated occasionally from the warmth of these covers. The bathroom was fine with behind-mirror storage and a metal trashcan screwed into the wall in a hard-to-reach location. On the morning we left, they installed a shampoo dispenser in the shower so future cruisers don't necessarily have to use their own bottles of shampoo (or the samples provided in the "goodie" basket). There was also plenty of hanging space for clothes though they used those slotted 2-hanger sets as their provided hangers. I brought most of my clothes on my own hangers so I was fine - bring some of you own hangers, if you need more than about 20 hangers for everyone in the cabin. They also provided Carnival robes on 2 of the hangers. And, there was ONE single outlet at the dressing table and I don't remember a blow dryer in the bathroom (I don't use one). Also provided were a variety of 16-oz. soft drinks and bottled waters on the dressing table which take up lots of space and cost lots of money each (I think $1.75 or $2.50 each) - bring your own. Last but not least, your TINY wall safe is in the closet and requires a key that you get from your room steward. He collects it from you on the night before you leave the ship. Our room steward was great and he and his assistant worked very hard. We came back early one day to find them cleaning the room - the assistant was on his hands and knees scrubbing the floor of the shower. I don't know if he did that every day but he was certainly working hard at it that day Ship DEcor If you like neon and rainbows, you'll love this ship. I actually like them both and didn't mind the colors (except for the Buffet - more on that later). Of course, the rooms were decorated in orange, ugh. And, all the passenger hallways are decorated in those same delightful shades of orange. I guess it makes for a uniform look. Food We were put in early Main seating at 5:45. I would have preferred the 6:15 seating but we did have lots of time afterwards to pick and choose our activities. At our 10-person table, we never had more than 6 of us - my parents, the two of us and typically, another couple from North Dakota. One night, 2 ladies came to the table but never came back. We really enjoyed our North Dakota tablemates but it would have been fun to have the entire table full. Our servers (Matko and Chen) were wonderful - efficient, friendly and we were always done by 7. I typically ordered multiple appetizers and once, two entrees and they never blinked. The food was good but we were routinely disappointed in the quality of the steaks - sometimes over-cooked, sometimes chewy - never to die for. Seafood was better. I was really not overly impressed with the food on this cruise but it was certainly passable to good - just not exceptional. Breakfast and lunch: we typically ate at the buffet for breakfast and in the dining room for lunch - we never used room service. The made-to-order omelets in the buffet were really good but were very heavy (lots of oil). Other buffet breakfast fare was just typical eggs, bacon, French toast, sausage, etc. We did have the Eggs Benedict in the dining room and it was good - just a little different on the sauce. We typically didn't do the dining room for breakfast because it just seemed to take too long. Doing the dining room for lunch was fine and we got to meet lots of new people at open seating every day. We found the lunch food to be a mixed bag - some of it very good - some not very good - the portions always seemed small. The service wasn't as good at lunch - you could always get that first glass of water or tea but we rarely got timely refills. Still, the food was better than at the buffet which seemed to offer little choice - two entrees and a few vegetables and that was about it. Desserts in the buffet were good though. We did the midnight Gala Buffet one night and while pretty to look at, the food was not that great - some very odd combinations of jello and various foods. The desserts were good but the rest was mostly tasteless or odd. And, it didn't open for eating until 12:30 with gigantic lines. Somehow, we came in from the back entrance to the Wind Star (mid-ship) dining room and didn't have to wait in the long line. So, bottom line, if you have to wait very long, I wouldn't recommend this buffet. . Pizza, soft serve ice cream and drinks (water, tea, punch, lemonade) were always available in the buffet area. Pizza is at the back of the room and the pizza I had once was good. One final note, the buffet is lit in hideous light blue neon - it was jarring anytime, but especially at night. It made my delicious omelet look gray. WHAT WERE THEY THINKING??? Activities We didn't do a lot of the activities, but the ones we did were fun - a trivia contest (we won a medal!), the horse races, bingo (didn't win) and one comedian - he was EXTREMELY raunchy and we didn't really enjoy him. We didn't see any shows so I can't comment on them. We did the Captain's party and past-cruisers party and enjoyed both - lots of Hor' Deorves and tons of free pre-mixed drinks. We asked for martinis at both events and they brought them to us MUCH later at no charge. There was dancing at both parties and at the Past Cruiser's party, they showed a 15-minute Carnival film which was interesting and showed the history of all the Carnival ships. One note: my mother was really irritated to find there were no scheduled Bridge activities on the ship - on our last Celebrity cruise, they had Bridge scheduled daily and a bridge expert on hand. For this cruise, we knew ahead of time that people had not seen Bridge scheduled on their Daily Capers so Mom brought some pre-printed sheets to place on the Card Room door about meeting times. When she went to the Purser's Desk on the 1st day to ask about posting these notes, they were very unhelpful and told her she couldn't put anything on the doors and they'd look into putting a meeting time in the Capers. She came back the next day and asked them again to put meeting times in the Capers and whether she could post notices until then. They told her (again) that they'd put notices in the Capers and grudgingly told her she could put notes on some of the card tables. It was not until our last (5th) sea day that they actually posted a meeting time for Bridge in the Capers and then they scheduled something else in the Card Room at the same time - the people meeting for bridge had to meet in the library instead. Mom was very disappointed in the whole process. Casino As usual, I spent a lot of time there. They had lots of quarter and dollar slot machines but not that many nickel machines and they ALL seem pretty tight. I did win $100 on a Poker machine betting one quarter, but that was the extent of my big slot machine wins. However, I mostly play table games and while they had a good variety of games, I found the table limits to be too high. There were NO regular blackjack $5 tables - they were all $10 and up. And, the Craps table was $10 minimum. Roulette, 3-card Poker, Let-it-Ride, Caribbean Stud and Ecstasy 21 Blackjack (Spanish 21) were all $5 minimums. To play $5 blackjack, I played the Ecstasy 21 several times and lost every time - they take all the Queens out of 8 decks and it just seems that the dealers rarely bust. On the last sea day, they added a new feature to the Let It Ride table where you can actually bet on a 3-card Poker hand in addition to the Let It Ride bets - since this was new feature, we had to sometimes help the dealers do the correct payoffs. All in all, I lost a good bit of money at the casino and was not very happy with the high table limits. On the plus side, the dealers were friendly and I enjoyed their company. I made it to the finals of the Blackjack tournament (after 3 tries at $20 each) which was held at 10:30pm on the Calica shore day. I ended up coming in 3rd and just got a t-shirt. Carnival only pays $500 to the first place winner (same in the Slot tournament) while other cruiselines pay 1st, 2nd and 3rd (typically, $400, $200 and $120). Art Auction I actually never attended a full auction but people that went to the auctions said they took up lots of time, but some had fun at them - especially with free champagne Spa Services For the first time, we heavily used the Spa this cruise. Since the first At Sea day was my birthday, my husband set me up for a pedicure ($55 before tip). On Valentines Day, we scheduled a Couples Massage ($240 before tip). Then, my husband had a haircut ($30), a pedicure w/free manicure ($55) and neck and shoulder massage ($40). I also volunteered around 1pm on the 1st day to do the Ionthermie (sp?) spa treatment which meant having 6 groups of people to look at me with towels around my upper body and lower thighs and heavy clay in the middle while electricity coursed though my middle portion. This therapy costs $149 but I got it free for the humiliation of it all. Surprisingly, it actually did seem to reduce my cellulite. All of the spa personnel we dealt with were friendly, efficient and did great jobs. My husband enjoyed his neck/shoulder massage more from a male attendant (he said it was a deeper massage) than the full-body couples massage from a female (too soft). I enjoyed the Couples Massage and think I even snored a few times during it - it was a good massage plus we did it a few hours after drinking Margaritas so I was pretty relaxed to begin with. No one really hawked products to us so that was a relief. Ports Cozumel: we walked to the El Ceiba hotel and paid $10.50 each to use their beach, chairs, pools and restrooms. We ordered Margaritas at the bar with chips and salsa for a total of $12. Then we added guacamole for an additional $5. The food was great and the Margaritas were very potent. We stayed there from about 10-1 in about 80 degree partly sunny weather. And, even being under the umbrella most of the time and using sunscreen, I still got a little burned from my 20 minutes of swimming. The water was cool but I got used to it pretty quickly. My husband rented fins and snorkel for $10 and found the sunken airplane from a James Bond movie (Thunderball?) and said it was interesting to look at. At 1pm, we walked back to the ship for our Couples Massage at 2pm. On the way back, we picked up 4 bottles of liquor in the duty-free store and walked through security - they said, "You'll need to turn that in to the Liquor guy and they'll return it to you the night before you leave the ship." We nodded and walked right past the liquor guy and up to our rooms - not because we wanted to drink all the liquor, but mainly because we didn't want to hassle with waiting for its return on the last night. After the Couples Massage, we took a nap, had dinner at 5:45 and then went back out to browse the shopping area. We then went out on deck where we planned to watch drunks come back to the ship. We lasted till around 8:30 and went back to the room. Calica: here we rented a small 4-door Toyota (with AC, Yay!)at Executive (right there at the pier) for $60/day including insurance. Then, my husband drove the 4 of us to Tulum (30 miles south of the port) where we hired a private guide for all 4 of us for $58 - this fee included the $4 entrance fee, the $2 trolley ride and the guide. We then walked in, were introduced to our guide, took the trolley to the ruins (about a ½ mile distance) and were guided around the ruins for about 45 minutes. Next, we could have toured on our own, swam (wear your suit under your clothes as there are NO close changing facilities) or taken the trolley back to the parking area. We chose to return to the parking area which actually has lots of shops/stalls there. Online, others had said they would not take anything but pesos here, but we found everyone took dollars at a rate of 10 pesos to the dollar. We didn't do much shopping (probably should have done more as prices were pretty steep at the 10 or so stalls in the pier) but did purchase some bottled water and drinks for around $1.50 to $2/bottle. We then drove about 5 miles to eat at a recommended restaurant called Oscar's with outside tables literally on the beach - the food was good and we had 2 Margaritas and chicken fajitas for $24 (they took dollars) plus tip. We then drove back to the closest gas station and spent about $7.50 (they took pesos and dollars) to fill the car up and then returned the car. Altogether, the whole excursion took from 9am to 1:30pm. Since the ship left at 3:30pm, we shopped a little at the stalls and then went back onboard. Note that our total costs not including lunch were about $130 for 4 of us - if we'd taken the "Tulum Express" ship excursion, we would have paid $70/pp (total of $280 for 4 of us) and not have had the flexibility of touring on our own schedule and eating at the wonderful Oscar's. Only difference, we had to drive but it was a straight shot down the highway to Tulum - very easy and I'd recommend you do this. Debarkation It was quick and painless. They did surprise us at 7:25 over the intercom about coming to the Terraces Lounges for Immigration. We went through a 10-minute line and were done. Then, we went back to the room, finished packing and went to late breakfast at 8:15. We came back to the room to find it cleaned and stayed there until 9:15 when they started disembarking. Then, we went right out and waited for our ride. Summary The Ecstasy is a good-sized ship and we found plenty to do on our 5-day cruise. The ports were fun but I'm rather tired of the Western Caribbean. We got a great price on the cruise ($440/pp, everything included) and probably spent our savings in the spa but we felt really relaxed and rejuvenated at the end of the cruise. I like being able to drive to Galveston and I'd recommend this cruise to new and veteran cruisers, alike. It was great for a shorter, relaxing trip. Read Less
Sail Date February 2005
A group of 4 other ladies and I sailed to Cozumel and Calica Jan. 15, 2005, on Carnival's Ecstasy. We kept trying to remember the main reason was to NOT be doing cleaning, laundry, cooking, etc., and for that alone, the cruise was a ... Read More
A group of 4 other ladies and I sailed to Cozumel and Calica Jan. 15, 2005, on Carnival's Ecstasy. We kept trying to remember the main reason was to NOT be doing cleaning, laundry, cooking, etc., and for that alone, the cruise was a success. Carnival could improve on a few EASY things and make our cruise a fantastic one instead of "okay." This was my 5th cruise, 2nd on Carnival. Sailing in Jan., it was chilly outside when windy (most of the time) and they only had 1 working HOT tub on the ship. Someone would "call somebody" every time we reported another not hot, but none ever were fixed. The food (8:00 seating) was adequate, but never hot, and the beef never tender. If we tried it, we would almost always ask for a different entree (which they're more than willing to bring you.) However, we highly recommend the butter pecan ice cream. It became a table favorite. However, there's a pizzeria/fresh sandwich deli at the back of the buffet dining room that is great! Our cabin (M162) was extremely noisy. We never decided if we were by laundry facilities for the ship or an internal elevator or what, but things rolled and bumped most of the time. Carnival would make most of their passengers happy (I think) if they'd do away with smoking on the interior of the ship. We couldn't even go into some of the lounges -- nor even see inside them due to the concentration of cigarette smoke. Nasty! We didn't book any excursions through Carnival, but instead took a taxi to Paradise Beach in Cozumel. Lovely site. The chairs and umbrellas currently are free to use, but they (of course) want you to buy their food and drink. Nice, room, clean restrooms there, too. For $5 more you can use their water toys, etc. We took a taxi from Calica to Plaza del Carmen, and then just walked down the beach (left, away from the pier in town) until we found a hotel with beach in front instead of rocks, with chairs out that would let us use 'em in exchange for buying beer/drinks there. It was cool when the sun went behind a cloud, but extremely relaxing. "Mexican Salad" there was AWESOME. Leaving the Ecstasy was a nightmare. They offer "self assist" so if you're wanting to leave early and take your own baggage, you (supposedly) can get off before the others. The problem is that there's no way to verify that those in line are all self-assist and, after getting up to be in line at 6:50 a.m., we were still in line over an hour and 1/2 later. I think 2/3 of the ship lined up with us, and 2/3 of the ship did NOT do "self assist." They moved us (wrongly) in line and when one of our ladies tried to talk to the personnel about it, they were just RUDE. My friend even went back and tried again, asking directly at one point for an apology and the employee REFUSED. That'll be the last time my friend will EVER sail Carnival. The crew in general wasn't friendly, although our room steward, John, was super! I think automatically including gratuities is hurting their level of service on the ship, and ultimately, when word gets around, it'll hurt 'em. They tended to stack entertainment on the last day, instead of spreading it out. For example, there was a dance troupe there that was performing opposite the galley tour. WHY? There were MANY time slots the girls could've been given so they could've performed to a full house. This was Carnival's scheduling... Things Carnival got right: were roomy cabins, good beds, the extra food lines (hamburger/hot dog, pizza, deli sandwiches, soft serve yogurt and ice cream), beach towels provided for pool side or beach use; good bath towels; John's towel animals; the dancers did a great job but only performed a couple of times; the cruise director can sing and play acoustic guitar and has a partner with whom he performs and we enjoyed them a LOT. If you go, as for "Hotel California" -- they did a super job with it! Read Less
Sail Date January 2005
This was our second family reunion cruise aboard Carnival's Elation. It didn't measure up to our one three years ago. Having been on several other cruises, including Celebrity, NCL and Carnival, this one rated the lowest. Coming ... Read More
This was our second family reunion cruise aboard Carnival's Elation. It didn't measure up to our one three years ago. Having been on several other cruises, including Celebrity, NCL and Carnival, this one rated the lowest. Coming out of Galveston there were a large number of smokers on board. The public rooms, not including the dining rooms or the show lounge, were very smokey, even some of the cabin hallways had a smokey smell. The food and the service in our dining room, the Imagination, was below average, most beef entrees were either under or over cooked, and the wait staff was very slow for our table. We had to ask for refills, condiments, rolls, at several dinners. On the positive side, we enjoyed the hamburgers, fries and pizza on the Lido deck. And the addition of the deli bar, with made-to-order sandwiches was very good. Two mornings we went to open seating breakfast in the Inspiration dining room and had wonderful service. On the pool deck you had to use your sail and sign card to get a towel to use on the deck lounges, there seemed to be more lounges available on sea days because of this, since you had to return the towel or be charged for it. We had three ports of call, Progresso and Cozumel where we did our own thing, and Belize where we took a ship tour. In Progresso, there was a free shuttle into the town near a flea market, and it was just a short walk to the beach. Beautiful long sandy beach to walk on, but the water was mud colored near the shore. Loungers were available at no cost as long as you stayed in a certain area. No bathrooms, but there were restaurants across from the beach. In Cozumel, we took a taxi to Chankannab Park, and snorkeled there. In Belize we took the ship tour, Barrier reef snorkel and Rendezvous Caye Beach Break, turned out better than I had expected. Catamaran picked us up at the ship, took about 30 min. to the atoll, a very small island, we snorkeled off the boat and swam to the island where there were floats and kayaks to use. Also rum punch or soft drinks. My two adult daughters didn't swim and were afraid to snorkel even with a vest. One of the guides showed them how to use the snorkeling equipment and got in the water with them with an extra float, and talked them through about 20 min. of snorkeling. They really enjoyed themselves. Overall it was a good cruise. The sunshine and the ocean were there, we had family-sharing time, we'll just take a different ship and go out of a different port next time. Read Less
Sail Date January 2005
Different ship, same story? I chose this title carefully based on cruising this same route on the Celebration exactly two years earlier from the port of Galveston. The Ecstasy replaced the Celebration on the 4- and 5-day sailings from ... Read More
Different ship, same story? I chose this title carefully based on cruising this same route on the Celebration exactly two years earlier from the port of Galveston. The Ecstasy replaced the Celebration on the 4- and 5-day sailings from Galveston in October. With a newer, larger ship you would think Carnival would have upgraded the service, food and attention to detail to match the newer vessel, but unfortunately it hasn't happened yet. Our family of three sailed the 5-day agenda with port calls in Cozumel and Calica (Mexican for gravel pit). What follows are our opinions on the ship, the agenda and ports and our impressions of what Carnival is clearly targeting for cruisers aboard the Ecstasy. The Ship: Built in '91 and with accommodations for slightly more than 2000 passengers the ship is one of Carnival's slab sided Fantasy-class vessels with few balcony staterooms. She has aged well for a ship this old with nice deck space, ample size cabins and graceful styling when viewed from the ports of call. The staterooms all benefited from a change in linens during a recent clean up and it is obvious that some public areas got a fresh coat of paint. The bad news is that whoever painted had little if any knowledge of what masking tape was for. Every single light fixture on the Lido deck had paint streaks on the glass. My teenager did a better job painting her closet. Also, paint runs and drips were evident along the wooden deck areas as well. The pool area had streaked tile, obvious rust around the perimeter steel band at the main pool and more rust and tarnish on the polished rails and grab handles. The signature Carnival pool slide looked almost black with weathered paint and mildew. The aft areas of the ship smelled like wastewater, with the smell more obvious in the Society Bar and the entertainment areas. The Promenade Deck has the Blue Sapphire Lounge where the evening events were held. Almost all the seats had some obstruction from stainless covered support poles and the balcony seats were too low to the ground to not have obstructed view caused by the people in front of you. Also on this deck is the Internet access area and Fossil Watch Shop. Carnival forgot to adequately light this area at night, so with black keyboards and slow high-speed access the value for dollar spent here is poor. Carnival also needs to train more than one person to staff the Fossil shop. On both the days at sea the shop closed for 90 minutes while the attendant went to lunch. He posted a sign in the door each day with his time to reopen for business. Hello Carnival? Are you listening? Use one of the small army of deck attendants that pester you to purchase the daily-overpriced drink special to staff this shop for lunch. Label it cross training and use it all over the ship. The Lido Deck is well laid out, and except for the pool area described above is clean and well staffed. The Panorama Bar and Grill served food for what seemed twenty-four hours a day. The food was fresh, but bland and not labeled at the actual tray. Some dishes were not recognizable from one of the food groups, so we avoided much of the fare here. We did enjoy the pizza and ice cream, but did get frustrated at the daily shortage and breakdown of the fat free yogurt side of the machine. The "closed for repairs" sign was laminated and looked like it was used daily on more than this cruise. Also, the ice dispenser broke each day, and guests were forced to get ice from large tubs. We observed people dragging their hands in the ice each time. Can you say Norwalk virus? Breakfast was the best meal served here, and the omelets were excellent. The balance of the meals on this deck was best described as good hamburgers and fast food fare. Some of the outdoor tables on this deck are over the water and right on the rail, and this offered a great view. The Atlantic Deck features both dining rooms and the shopping areas, and also looks to have benefited from a recent overhaul. The dining areas were clean, neat and well staffed. The bad news is the service on this cruise was slow. We missed the Carnival Returning Cruisers Party due to dinner exceeding ninety minutes in length. Our waiter tried twice to serve us the "today's special dessert" instead of showing the menu. We corrected him both times. Also, since sodas are extra, and must come from the cocktail waiter we saw this person one night in the five we were aboard. We felt like the additional purchase of a "Coke Card" was a waste of money if this were one of the places it was accepted. The shopping areas were small, well stocked and offered no real bargains on jewelry or watches. The local Sam's Wholesale Club has more competitive prices, even with the additional sales tax charges. Liquor and tobacco products seemed to be the best selling items here. Our cabin was on the Empress Deck, and I'd strongly recommend a reservation on this level. With slow elevators, and many stairs to climb this deck made the trek to the activities and dinner easy to manage. The cabin was adequate in size, clean and well stocked. The room safe requires a key, is small and located in the closet. Royal Caribbean offers a safe large enough for a camera or two, is accessible with the room key and is much easier to access. This seems like a simple fix. Carnival depends on the aging system of plastic keys, while the industry cruise ship and hotel standard is to use credit card size readers for access. We paid the money for an outside cabin, and the view was best described as looking out a shower door covered in soap scum. We felt this was a waste of money as long as Carnival cuts corners on cleaning. One note, the temperature varied considerably, and the thermostat consisted of a knob on the vent that only attempted to regulate airflow. It did little to change the temperature. We took a small fan that made the room much more comfortable, as we use a ceiling fan at home. I would bet in the summer sailing months the room temperature would be warmer than most would expect. One 110v plug is in the cabin, and a simple 1250-watt hair dryer tripped the breaker. I called the pursers desk twice and was placed on hold for a total of 28 minutes. The assistant purser told me "guests in line at the counter had preferred access to their services," and I threatened to walk my wet, towel covered 46-year-old body to the atrium and join in the line. The breaker took almost 30 minutes to be reset. Ports and Agenda: Cozumel offers much to do, and this time we went to Chankanaab Park. It was beautiful. We snorkeled right at water's edge, saw many species of fish and did the dolphin swim and snorkel tour. My entire family loved the facility. I would go again and do the taxi ride and arrange for my own extra events here and avoid the Carnival price markup. The shops at the Carnival pier are newer than downtown, and offer the same merchandise. Cozumel shopping is not the best bargain for most merchandise of value. Calica was the second port, and in 2002 we identified the port as a gravel pit. Carnival has upgraded this port, so now it is a gravel pit with a tacky flea market. We did the Xcaret Park tour again, and Carnival should be ashamed at how they manage people and lines for the buses here. No excuse exists for the pushing and confusion that families endured for their vacation dollars. Xcaret was very beautiful, but requires much walking to see most of the sights. Don't miss the elevated open-air chapel at the top of the hill. The views are majestic. Good and Bad: Most of the bad is described in the above text, and all can be fixed or at least improved on. Carnival has several million cruisers within a few hours drive of the Port of Galveston that are attracted to a less than 7 day cruise. At present the Ecstasy is the only game in town for short cruises and Carnival clearly knows they can cut corners. Bad news travels fast, and with the grade B levels of maintenance and service people that return for second and third cruises aboard this ship will dwindle in number. So, with all that said, we had a great time. My family works hard and plays hard, and this was our 6th cruise, the 4th on Carnival. We will not sail on one of Carnival's second tier vessels again until we read and hear better reviews. It has been said "you get what you pay for" and this ship, agenda and level of service clearly exemplifies exactly that. Bon Voyage. Read Less
Sail Date November 2004
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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