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3,296 Carnival Galveston Cruise Reviews

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
Now this is a fun party ship. Four of us took the Elation out of Galveston, Texas a few weeks ago. This Western Caribbean cruise's ports of call were Progresso, Mexico, Cozumel, and Belize. This was my 1st cruise. This was also the ... Read More
Now this is a fun party ship. Four of us took the Elation out of Galveston, Texas a few weeks ago. This Western Caribbean cruise's ports of call were Progresso, Mexico, Cozumel, and Belize. This was my 1st cruise. This was also the first cruise for my four co-workers and friends in our late twenties, who shared in the activities on this fun boat. We all thought the staff on this ship were great, they were helpful to us first time cruisers for the seven days. Food and service in the dining rooms was wonderful. We had no major problems. We found the "Elation" to be first-rate and what I expected this cruise to be. We flew to Texas early. We flew into Houston from Minneapolis on Friday afternoon. Our travel agent hooked us up with a van service she had used to transfer us to Galveston, Texas which is about 80 miles from the big airport in Houston. Before driving us to Galveston, our driver gave us a "look see" of Houston. I realized on this tour of Houston that it truly is a huge city. After treating us to a free tour of Houston he drove us to Galveston, we arrived at out hotel about 6:30pm, and checked in. The hotel was great. We stayed at the "Tremont House Hotel" downtown in the old historic district of Galveston. After our check in, we placed our bags in our room and walked down the street for dinner. We were in the middle of all the fun in the downtown area. The weekend we were there, was the weekend of the Galveston Greek Festival. And being Greek myself I really got into the spirit. All the fun was within a block or two of our hotel. Lots of neat bars and great restaurants with fresh Texas Gulf Coast seafood. It was worth the trip to Texas just to visit the fun city of Galveston. On Sunday at noon our hotel provided us with free transportation to the "Elation" which was only three to five minutes away from the hotel. We checked in on the ship about 12:30pm and when to our cabin. The four of us shared the same cabin. Elation's cabins are bare bones in dEcor and amenities: We had a color TV with CNN, telephone and radio, the cabins have no hair dryers. The bathroom was fairly large, with hand-held shower. Our room attendant took good care of our needs. We enjoyed the live entertainment.  The lavishly costumed casts perform two live production shows weekly.  This is an integral part of the Elation's nightlife. We started our evenings after dinner at Duke's piano bar on Elation, where one finds replicas of New York's Empire State Building. After that we then headed for a hopping disco and the large and active casino. The food was absolutely wonderful, all the restaurants did a good job the four of us really enjoyed ourselves, we didn't have a bad day from the time we left the Houston Airport to when we returned. This is truly a fun cruise, with lots of fun loving people on board to keep the party going. I think the people from Texas are very friendly. The weather was absolutely great the whole time in Texas and at sea. I should mention that some of the people on the ship told us that they started getting a little ill, with flu symptoms. They think they got it from people on the ship's shuttle bus from the airport. One lady told us that there was people on the bus sneezing and coughing without covering their mouths. I'm glad we didn't use the cruise ship's shuttle. Get a FLU Shot, before you leave and do as we did get a van service to transport you to your ship and back. As I mentioned earlier we used a van service in Houston that our travel agent had used after reading about this service in cruise reviews from other cruisers, much like the one I'm writing now. We also had also arranged for the shuttle service that brought us to Galveston, to pick us up at the ship for our return to the Houston Airport. I should also mention that getting back to the airport seems to be less of a hassle the way we did it, than circus we saw other cruisers go through trying to board buses to the airport. And hoping they wouldn't their flight. On our return to Galveston we cleared customs at about 9:45am, called our shuttle driver from our cell phone, our driver was standing by just off site. Five minutes later we were on our way to the airport. We arrived at the airport at 11:15, in plenty of time for our flight back to Minneapolis. We wish to thank Carnival Cruise Line and its staff for keeping to party going and us making us comfortable for seven wonderful days. I recommend this ship and this itinerary to anyone who is planning a fun cruise vacation. I also recommend you spend an extra day in Galveston on the Gulf of Mexico. This was the best vacation I ever had. Mr. L. J. Cormier, the shuttle driver/tour guide can be reached at 281 443 4430, he might give you a free tour of Houston, if your not in hurry. Please feel free to write me at : sophiepappas@hotmail.co Read Less
Sail Date October 2003
This was my first cruise and Amy's 2nd. We actually arrived at the port just prior to the ship leaving (due to our idiot travel agent). We found the lines very short, because we were about the last ones on the ship. I had no idea ... Read More
This was my first cruise and Amy's 2nd. We actually arrived at the port just prior to the ship leaving (due to our idiot travel agent). We found the lines very short, because we were about the last ones on the ship. I had no idea what to expect as we entered the ship. My only exposure to cruising was watching the Love Boat as a kid. I found the interior decoration of the ship a bit gaudy. I felt like I was a guest of a circus. I don't consider this necessarily a bad thing. For me a cruise was a once in a lifetime experience and I was glad that things were a little over the top. Our room was great. We were in a cabin with a window. The steward staff was extremely nice and kept our room exceptionally clean. It was a nice touch to find a towel animal and a chocolate on the pillow at night. The bed's could have been a little more comfortable. The bathroom was quite large and comfortable. Someone should warn a guy about the first flush of the toilet. I thought that for a minute that I was going to be sucked in to the bowels of the ship. We found the food to be excellent in the Imagination Dining Room. Our waiter, Alex, bent over backward to serve us. In fact one of our table mates had a huge appetite and ordered several entree's every night. Alex kept brining them with a smile. The quality of the food was exceptional. Everything was cooked just how we ordered. The desserts were not that great, but they were good nonetheless. The food in Tiffany's was good. It was typical buffet style and quality. We didn't expect any more and we were not disappointed. The 24 hour pizzeria was great they had some gourmet pizza's that were out of the ordinary. The sushi bar was a hit with me and the ice cream cone machine was a hit with us after a hard night of dancing. The entertainment was a little bit cheesy in the Mikado Lounge. I am not a big fan of the musical variety show. Some of the games like jeopardy and trivia were fun. In fact just about every member of our group won a "24 caret gold ship on a stick". The bingo games were a good diversion although they were a little pricey to play. The casino was a hit with us as well. My wife has a little bit of a gambling problem, (not really but I like to tease her). She literally paid for her second year of nursing school while attending in Las Vegas at the blackjack table. But back to the subject, she was not as lucky on the ship but had a good time losing my hard earned money anyway. On a luckier note, my brother in law won enough over the course of the week to pay for his entire cruise. Our first port was Progresso. We opted to visit Chichen Itza ruins. This would have been a great experience had we not gone through our idiot travel agent to book the tour. We nearly missed the boat because he had no concept of time in getting us back to the ship. The ruins were great though. It was fascinating to climb the temple and be able to speak to people on the ground 100 feet below because of the acoustics of the pyramid. Cozumel was our second stop. We hooked up with Victor Cassanova of Wildcat Divers on the recommendation of a friend that dives there alot. That was an awesome diving experience and cheap to. There is so much to do in Cozumel that I would steer away from the ship's shore excursions. You can book your own stuff on the pier for way cheaper than the boat offers. If you are interested in diving I would definitely use Wildcat. Search for them on the web they are easy to find. Our last stop was Belize. We opted to sign up for the cave tubing excursion on the ship. This tour was awesome. The only drawback was the illness that I caught. We ate at a little shanty in the jungle called Cheers. The food was good. About the time I got on the tender to go back to the ship the stomach problems hit and lasted for about 8 days. I'm not sure that the problem was the food in Belize but that is the only thing that I ate off the ship. Most of our party that ate at Cheers got sick for the remainder of the cruise. This was a bad thing although I ended up losing about 8 pounds for the trip home. Belize is a beautiful country especially if you get off the beaten path. I mentioned earlier in this review that this was going to be a once in a lifetime trip for me. In fact I really balked at the idea of a cruise and my wife had to drag me along with her. Just to let you know, I had such a great time, I'm booked on the Inspiration in September. We are returning to Cozumel and Belize. We are going to dive with Victor again and may even cave tube again. It is well worth it to wait till you get to a port and find a local company to tour with. The ship tours are way overpriced and overcrowded. There are plenty of reputable guides at the ports. They understand that you need to get back to the ship on time and are not willing to jeopardize their business by making you late. Overall the Elation was a great Ship and wonderful vacation. You need to remember that you get what you pay for. Carnival is not the fanciest cruise line out there. For the money this was an excellent value. We were taken really good care of and are looking forward to our next carnival cruise. Read Less
Sail Date October 2003
This was our first cruise, so many of my comments do not have a basis for comparison. As a vacation, Carnival's cruises provide good value, if you make careful selections (as I will in the future). If you do not like sharing the ... Read More
This was our first cruise, so many of my comments do not have a basis for comparison. As a vacation, Carnival's cruises provide good value, if you make careful selections (as I will in the future). If you do not like sharing the ship with hundreds of small children, either book while school is in session or on another line. I'm not sure which was the most responsible for our less-than-ideal experience New Year's Eve week. My major complaints only peripherally involve Carnival, in that they made almost no effort to enforce their rules. This allowed babies in strollers in the lounges at midnight, crowds of school-age children in all the hot tubs, running down the cabin deck hallways, etc. At one point, the Asst. CD (Cindy) did bounce a nine-year-old from the "R" comedy show. [Side comment- WHY can't parents be responsible and book appropriate vacations???] The facilities were large and in fairly decent shape, the food was superb and the entertainment acts were generally good if not outstanding. Some of the games and activities were a little silly, but again, the families were out in force to participate so I guess they were geared for the right audience. I was impressed at the size and selection of the fitness activities/equipment and the spa, but I don't have any other ships to compare them to. All of the staff members were pleasant and efficient; you only had to have a puzzled look on your face while standing still and immediately someone inquired if they could help. The only destination that was mildly disappointing was Progresso/Merida. Part of that may have been to lack of planning on my part. We eventually settled on a private taxi trip to Dzibilchaltun ruins and then to Merida. We had no guide for touring the ruins and could not fully appreciate the sites; note that a main part of the museum was under repair while we were there and thus was closed. Merida was interesting and our driver was knowledgeable as a native Meridian. Although more expensive and force-fed, the ship-sponsored tours are probably recommended for this port. Cozumel and Belize were great stops with plenty of activities. Most people seemed to be very pleased with their choices. New Year's Eve was a blast with great bands and champagne provided by Carnival. Again, just had to step over all the families camped out on the Lido Deck with strollers and kids scooping up confetti [I swear I'm really don't have a phobia about children! I mistakenly believed that cruising was primarily an adult vacation. When mine were young we stuck with the Disney thing and wouldn't dream of imposing on others]. I'll probably cruise again, and may even give Carnival another shot at a different time of year. Read Less
Sail Date December 2003
The entertainment, food and dinner service were wonderful. Dinner was served at reserved seats with the same waiters. Breakfast and lunch were in unreserved restaurant seating or a buffet (both options being available most of the time), ... Read More
The entertainment, food and dinner service were wonderful. Dinner was served at reserved seats with the same waiters. Breakfast and lunch were in unreserved restaurant seating or a buffet (both options being available most of the time), with a substantially lower quality of service. There were an adequate number of non-smoking lounges, and other public areas. There was a wide vartiety of shipboard activities, with something going on almost all day long. The standard cabin is relatively large with an ample shower. Although I was quite pleased with the experience (my second cruise), there were some minor problems: a)There seemed to always be a long line at the information (purser's) desk. b)Although the main auditorium seats 1,300, about half of the seats have an obstructed view, making it necessary to arrive quite early in order to get satisfactory seating. Overall, the cruise, food, service, entertainment and excursions were excellent, and at least as good as prior experience on a "more prestigious" line than Carnival. Read Less
Sail Date December 2003
This was a great cruise and I would definitely book the Elation again for another trip. My husband and my daughter (21) and son (17) all enjoyed it as much as I did. My last Carnival cruise was five years ago and I wasn't ... Read More
This was a great cruise and I would definitely book the Elation again for another trip. My husband and my daughter (21) and son (17) all enjoyed it as much as I did. My last Carnival cruise was five years ago and I wasn't particularly impressed: cramped staterooms, unmemorable hotel banquet-type food, huge tables of strangers at dinner. All that has changed on the Elation. We had very comfortable and large staterooms on the M deck, with plenty of closet space and shelves. The bathroom was good-sized and had lots of hooks. The halls were quiet at night. Although this was a Christmas cruise and there were some children on board, there weren't as many as I had expected after reading some of the message boards here. Embarkation took longer than I thought it would. I'd spent about an hour on-line at Carnival's rather difficult website feeding in all of our passport information so that we could have a "fast pass" to help us board more quickly. I had to make two calls to Carnival to get through the process: one to get our "past guest" number and another for help on the website because of its lack of directions about how to write the phone number so that the computer would accept it. Just about everyone else had a "fast pass" too, so the line was long! The shorter line was for the people who hadn't done the computer homework! Once we finally reached an agent, the check-in process did move quickly, but we stood in line for about thirty minutes before that. Guests have the option of having their meals in their assigned dining room or upstairs at Tiffany's on the Lido deck. We always ate breakfast and lunch at Tiffany's. It was buffet-style (really self serve although staff did come around for drink refills) with a wide variety of entrees, soups, salads, and desserts. We particularly liked the small, family sized tables and the option of eating outdoors on deck. There was a great selection of healthy food. Dinner at night is at larger tables, but many of these are for six or eight. We chose the 8:30 seating for a more "grown-up" crowd, and it wasn't as crowded. The food was consistently excellent and attractively presented. Service was efficient and friendly. The entertainment in the Mikado Lounge was very good-my only serious complaint about this ship is that the entire second level of this theater does not have good seats for watching the show. It's more than "some seats have obstructed views". You just can't see at all! It's frustrating not to be able to see a show that is well-prepared and entertaining. It's hard to understand how the rest of the ship can be so well-designed and yet the theater is so poorly thought-out. Get there early and sit on the first floor. The only complaint I heard from other passengers was that it was impossible to book a very long tour on your own in Belize because the ship is not in port nearly as many hours as is shown on the schedule. Having to tender in on smaller boats takes a long time and Carnival's tour groups go first. The last tender back to the boat leaves at 4:15, even though the official timetable states that the ship would be in port until six. Frankly, I would omit this port entirely. There is truly nothing to do for the folks who don't book tours. I know people enjoyed their tours, but if I go on this cruise again, I will just stay on the ship. The small "shopping village" has very expensive low-quality merchandise-nothing worth making the tender trip for. However, I was able to buy a phone card there at a store with the word "Mayan" in its name to call the U.S. for $1 per minute instead of $7 a minute they charged on the ship. Debarkation went very smoothly. We had time to enjoy a final breakfast outside on the deck overlooking the Galveston skyline. Read Less
Sail Date December 2003
The Elation was a wonderful ship!!! We were really impressed by the size and the Christmas Decorations on the ship. The grand atrium and staircase was great with 2 glass elevators. It seemed that even on this sold out New Years Cruise, you ... Read More
The Elation was a wonderful ship!!! We were really impressed by the size and the Christmas Decorations on the ship. The grand atrium and staircase was great with 2 glass elevators. It seemed that even on this sold out New Years Cruise, you could always find a place, with exception of the hot tubs, which were almost always full of kids, with no parents around (including the adults only hot tub). Our cabin was in a great location E48. We felt centrally located to almost everything and were very close to the elevators, staircases, dining room (1 floor up) etc. We loved the location. Our room steward was also great and gave us a copy of the Elation book. He kept our sodas that we brought from home on ice as well as keeping an ice bucket ready for us. The room was fine overall, and was very clean. The food overall was okay. I can't say that there was anything that we LOVED, but our waiter was always there to get us something. The desserts kinda all tasted the same to me, loved the ice cream and peanut butter cookies served at tea time the best. Room service was nice, they even would send us a bowl of pretzels if we asked. We were fine without buying the soda card as we each had a 6 pack so we could have 1 soda a day if we wanted. The water tasted absolutely fine, and there was orange, apple, fruit punch and iced tea available. They did not charge for cappuccino in the dining room. Progresso was fun. We were one of the first off of the boat, and then rode in this bus (kinda yucky) into town. We then walked just a few blocks to the beach. There were lots of nice shells on the beach to find, and there were also many of those grassy roofs with tables under them. We sat in front of a restaurant and each ordered a soda, and we were able to stay there all day. You could also rent lounge chairs for $7 for the day/person. The water was nice, but silty on the bottom if you went out very far, i would bring water shoes next time (also a lot of shells on the bottom). No snorkeling here, people were doing some basic boogie boarding though. The vendors came up to you frequently, but in general would go if you said no. We did find their prices to be reasonable, and you were able to bargain with them. Some of the vendors were carrying around what looked like were fish tanks filled with "sweets" under saran wrap...we did see a lot of flies and bees flying around under there....We also went to the market where the bus drops you off...the people were very nice, a lot of bead jewelry, t shirts, wood crafts (those pecking chickens crack me up) and hammocks (we bought a hammock chair). The people we spoke to who went to Merida, thought that just relaxing on the beach would have been the way to go, but I guess it depends on what you want to see...we had a great time here. Cozumel is one of our favorite ports. We took a boat out with Eagle Ray Divers for the day as my hubby and father in law did discover snuba (for the second time) and the rest of us snorkeled. We saw wonderful schools of fish, 2-3 ft long rainbow parrot fish, sting rays, little clumps of coral with really cool colorful fish in them...it was absolutely awesome!!! I would recommend them to anyone. The marina was a short taxi ride from the pier. They will make the trip what you want it to be which is really nice. Belize was interesting. I think we would have liked it more if we had done a different tour. We took the Sunkissed tour to Goff's Caye. There was a lot of wasted time on this 3-4 hour tour. It seemed very unorganized, and we spent a lot of time docking the boat and getting everyone out through a window in the front of the boat (it was crazy, they had a bucket for a step stool). Fortunately my mother in law and sister in law stayed on the boat, as they would have never climbed through that hole to get out. They spend over 30 minutes giving out snorkel gear once we anchored which was killing me as I wanted to be out in the water. We dropped a few people off at the caye and then went about 200 yards off the caye to snorkel. Once again it took for ever to anchor. They kept calling it a "guided tour" but basically it was everyone try to keep up with the guide as he power swims with a buoy through the basically devastated area of brown coral with a few fishies around. It was truly a joke, we did see a few pretty fish and some purple fan corals, but otherwise there wasn't much. The current was also a little rough, and it took a while to get everyone off the boat so you had to tread water (with no guide in the water yet) until everyone was in. Then we got back on the boat, took another 20 minutes to dock then we got onto the caye for about 30 minutes before we had to go back. The caye was beautiful, but if I had known, I wouldn't do this if it was my only few hours in Belize. Some of the other people we were with on this tour thought it was great, as they had gone with the ship's catamaran snorkel cruise in Cozumel, and basically saw nothing...I felt sorry for them as we saw so much more in Cozumel!!!! New Years Eve on the ship was really fun. THey put party hats and horns in our room before dinner, and also had a special picture place for a party picture. Dinner was nothing special though. Then there was music at the different lounges, and a big party on the deck by the pool which was really great. There was a lot of dancing and also free champagne. At midnight they blew the horn loud!!! It was cool cause there was another ship nearby which also blew its horn. People were dressed every different way from really sparkly and tuxedoish to just regular dinner attire...it was fun. I would suggest bringing some confetti along to toss around, a lot of people did, and it made it really fun!!! The entertainment was okay, but nothing really to WOW you. The people who played in the Atruim were the best. Karaoke was available for those who like that, but it was also very over run with teeny boppers whose parents were nowhere to be found. I'm not sure why parents don't keep better track of their kids, but one night the glass elevator was tied up with a kid pretending to be the elevator man, the stairways were almost always the playing field for a game of tag and the hot tubs were always full of kids. I know its their vacation too, and you can give them some freedom on the ship, but we paid for a vacation too. Disembarking was a snap if you obeyed the rules. We sat at Tiffany's, ate breakfast and played cards until we were called. We were off by 11am. I would definitely recommend this cruise, and if you have any questions please ask!! Read Less
Sail Date December 2003
We had a great time on the Elation! I have only been on the Jubilee, and this cruise was 1000X better!...we cannot wait to go again very soon! I went with my husband, Brother-in-Law, MIL, and FIL. The in-laws live in North Houston, so we ... Read More
We had a great time on the Elation! I have only been on the Jubilee, and this cruise was 1000X better!...we cannot wait to go again very soon! I went with my husband, Brother-in-Law, MIL, and FIL. The in-laws live in North Houston, so we decided to leave on Sunday morning around 9:30. That put us in Galveston around 11:00. My husband's grandmother volunteered to drive us down so that we would not have to pay the parking fee ($10/day!). By the time we got up to the place where they let passengers out, it was around 11:15-20. There was lots of traffic because people were still being picked up from the previous cruise. We decided not to let the porters take our luggage. That saved some money and it was a great decision. You just take your luggage about 10 steps and check it in yourself. We will never give our luggage to porters again! We went into the building where they do the security and check in stuff, and there was ABSOLUTELY NO LINE!!! We were so excited! We went through the fun pass line with no problems. We were not allowed to get on the ship until about 12:30, I guess because there were still passengers on the ship from the last cruise. We waited in this area with lots of chairs, which was no big deal. There were about 50-100 people waiting with us by 12:30, but we were still some of the first people to get on the ship. Once we were on the ship, we went to Tiffany's to get some lunch. They had given us a note asking us not to go to our cabins until 1:00. They wanted us to stay out of the stewards' way. We finished lunch about 1:00 and then went and dumped our stuff in our cabins. We had booked an assigned inside cabin R96, but we were upgraded to outside cabin M151. My in-laws had booked 4A guarantee, and they were upgraded to outside M147 right next to our room. We walked around and got acquainted with the ship right away. At 2:00 though, they offered a tour of the ship. The Elation was beautiful. It was still decorated from Christmas! I cannot remember what we did until the muster drill, but we already loved the Elation. We had early seating in the Imagination Dining room at 6:15pm. The dining room was beautiful and the food was good most every night. Our waiters were Alex and Maros. They were so good. As a side note, I am probably not answering questions that you may have about the specific areas on the ship. If you have specific questions ask me, and I will answer them if I can! The first day at sea was fun; we went to most of the activities. They were all so much fun and so much better than the Jubilee. I know that I should not compare the two ships, but that is all I know! The Mikado lounge was nice. We ate dinner in the dining room every night and most of the time for lunch. The food was good. One or two nights nothing on the menu sounded outstanding. Everything that I had was very good...including filet mignon, chateaubriand, and shrimp! I am getting hungry just thinking about it! The first port of call was Progreso. We went to Chichen-Itza through the ship. The drive was long without much scenery. I fell asleep after Manuel (our guide) finished talking on the bus about the tour. He was very friendly and answered everyone's questions. The drive was about two hours. Our first stop was at the restrooms. They were very clean, but we had to walk through a huge souvenir shop with lots of people yelling "one dollar" on the outside of the shop. We got lucky, because we got lost away from the group looking for the restrooms. We did not realize you had to walk through the shop. Anyway, one of the guys who worked in the shop saw us and moved a table to let us in the shop. He pointed us in the right direction to el baño! We beat the whole crowd (about 10 tour buses!). Once we got to the ruins, we had to get a ticket from our guide, and then we had to get a wrist band. We waited about 5-10 minutes before actually going in to see the ruins. There were about 15-25 in our tour group, and Manuel showed us around 5 or 6 ruins. After that, about an hour later, he let us go on our own for about 30 minutes. Then we had to meet back at the bus at 1:00 to go back to the ship. They offered us Coke and water for $2, and DosX for $1. We had a sack lunch with a ham sandwich, chips, doughnuts, an apple, granola bar, and condiments. I ate the chips, but I was not interested in the other items. My brother in law said he has had better food at the gas station. We were at the ruins site about 1.5 hour. Although it was interesting history, I did not think that it was worth the drive. I was also not impressed with Progreso. I would definitely go on a tour with a shorter drive time the next time! The next day we went to Cozumel. We skipped the shore tours, and went out on our own to snorkel. We took a taxi van to Dzul-Ha for $12 (for 5 people). Dzul-Ha is listed on the sign of places the taxis will take you. It even says "snorkeling" under Dzul-Ha. I was sooo surprised! We brought our own masks and snorkels, but we rented fins from the little shop there. They were about $5/each. We walked away from the small crowd (to the right if you're looking at the water, don't ask me if it is North South East or West?), and went to a sandy area with beach chairs and a hammock. As we were getting ready to go snorkeling, this guy came up to us. He told us that he maintained the beach there. It was not a part of the area where we rented out fins. He told us that he had restrooms and showers and lunch. He told us that he charged $5 for an all day pass to use his facilities, but if we bought some drinks from him we could use his beach. His were cheaper than the other place where we rented the fins. His name is Martin Valdez. His business is named PALMAR Beach Club (pass the Presidente Hotel). They have a website (that I just found..this sounds like a commercial, but we really loved it!) at Palmar Beach Club . He was a really nice guy, and he even mentioned Cruise Critic. Martin said that he used to live in North Dakota, but he had to buy a house in Cozumel because he loved the snorkeling so much. Anyway, he rents his facility from some people who live in Dallas. I guess he maintains it while they are away. He gave us some really great advice since we had never snorkeled before. AND, he gave me a tortilla to feed the fish with when I finally went in the water. Another side note, if you are wimpy like me (!) do not take tortillas with you the first time you snorkel. The fish swarm around you sooo much. I had to kung fu fight the fish because I was so scared!!! My MIL said she almost drowned because she was laughing so hard at me. My FIL said he could hear me screaming through my snorkel at the beach! Anyway, we were so close to the reef. I never made it out there, but they went on and on about it. AND, we were in swimming distance from where the shore tours dropped their people off in the water. We saw the Catamaran Sail and Snorkel and two other excursions plus independent tour groups! All for $24 (taxi rides!). Cozumel was great for me...except for the fish! I will try snorkeling again...except no tortillas! It was so beautiful. The weather was wonderful, and it was not too windy. The next day we went to Belize. It was raining and very cloudy. We booked the cave tubing through the ship. I was slightly disappointed that it was so yucky outside, but it worked out great! The tender was easy with no problems or waiting (because we had a tour with the ship). When we got to the pier, we walked right to the tour bus and got on. We had nice guides, but I cannot remember their names. Once we got going, they took us on a short tour of the city. Belize is a poor country, but really pretty! I enjoyed it thoroughly. Our bus driver was apparently a bus racer on the weekends! He drove so fast the whole time. The bus was huge compared to the streets! The bus ride was like an excursion in itself! I wore my swimsuit, some shorts that dry quickly, a t-shirt, old tennis shoes, and an anorak (a lightweight, water-resistant jacket that folds up into a pouch). We were able to leave everything on the bus when we got to the tubing place. We left our money on the bus also. They locked the bus, but we knew we were taking a chance...it wasn't much money maybe $10-15. We also left dry clothes and our towels on the bus. I took off my t-shirt and decided not to wear it but only my anorak and shorts. I could have done without my jacket, but I am glad that I wore it. We have been tubing on the Guadalupe River close to San Antonio and this is what I was expecting...but it wasn't exactly what I got. On the bus the guide was talking about the animals that we might see, like howler monkeys, tarantulas, and bats (we didn't see ).?any Once we got to the place (it took about 1 hour to 1.5 hour to get there), we got off the bus and it had stopped raining finally. We were able to use the restrooms, and I went but they were gross. I was happy to have a place to go. After that, they told us to grab a tube and lifejacket and a headlight. My lifejacket was really dirty, but I could have picked a newer looking jacket. We had to carry our tubes, which was no big deal. I am about 5' 4" and I weigh about 110...no muscles either, and I had no trouble at all! We had to cross the river first thing. I had imagined ankle high water...no...it was deeper than my waist, and it was moving fast! They had a rope that stretched from one side of the bank to the other side for us to hold on to as we crossed. I almost floated away, and my husband had to grab my tube for me! It was so fun! Once we were across the river, our jungle walk began. We walked for about 30-45 minutes. It was raining again and very muddy and slippery. It was so fun. The place had cleared a path for us to walk, but it was not touristy at all. I think that is what made this so great. We walked through the jungle, and we got to see plants and trees that we had never seen before. We were the first group to go, but I don't know if that is why we didn't see any animals. When we got to the river, I was expecting the water to be freezing, like Schlitterban. BUT, it was so much warmer than I expected. The water was cool, but I got used to it very quickly. We floated for just a few seconds and then we had to get out and walk because the water was too shallow. They had lifeguards helping people up and directing them to the correct side of the river. We got out and walked about 10 steps and then got back in the water. This time the water felt warm (because we were cold from walking around wet!). Back in the water, we started the caves. It was really neat inside the cave. It had a very high ceiling and we had our headlamps so we could see decently. We could hear waterfalls, and the scenery was really amazing (think about Carlsbad Caverns in NM). We tubed for about 30-45 minutes staying with the guides the whole time (there was one in the front and one in the back...so you could not possibly get lost!). We had to get out of the water one more time because of the rapids (they take way more precautions that we ever did on the Guadalupe River!). Again, there were lifeguards to help direct our tubes so that we wouldn't float down the rapids. We didn't have to walk very far. We were out of the cave, and I thought that our excursion was over, but we got to tube some more. It was raining pretty hard by this time. It was such a great experience. We went down the river for about 5-10 more minutes, and we reached the place where we had crossed at the start. We had to go across again, and this time I held my tube the whole time! After we finished, walking back to the tube return area, we saw many Carnival groups waiting to tube. I do not know if they had been waiting a long time. The cave was never crowded. I felt like the excursion only included my group of 36. I went back to the bus to get my dry clothes. Most people did not change because it was raining. I was determined to change so that I would not freeze on the bus. I ran back to the bathrooms and did a quick change. I was so glad to have on dry underwear and dry shoes. When we were all back on the bus we were all starving. The guides had been teasing us about our lunch that was included in the tour. They were saying that it was mystery meat! We stopped at a place called Cheers with a Tropical Twist. They had beans and rice, coleslaw, and some really yummy chicken (it really was chicken, it tasted stewed or like crock-pot chicken). They said this was a traditional Belizean Sunday meal. It was really good. My tennis shoes worked just fine for the trip. Although, by the time we got back to our home, they were sooo stinky, but we didn't want to throw them away at the tubing site because they are our working shoes! The last two days at sea were really fun. We went to the past guest party. They had free drinks and a band for dancing. There were no hors d'oeuvres though. I kept waiting for the really good stuff to come out, but it never did. We stayed until the end. We also visited the casino. I only noticed the smoke if we were sitting next to someone smoking. It was not that bad. We got hooked on a game called 3 card Poker. My BIL and MIL, who NEVER gamble, played, and they both got the highest hand you can get, straight flush, and they won about $300 each! I was so jealous. We only won $40! That game is addictive, so be careful if you ?play. For disembarkation, we are the cheaters who hide their luggage tags and go through immigration early. We got up and went through around 8:00am. It only took about 15 minutes to get through the line. The line started around Jekyll and Hyde, went through Cole Porter, and then into Romeo and Juliet. We ate breakfast on the Lido deck after immigration. We waited on the 7th floor in the atrium area to see when they were letting people off the ship. We left with the first group of people around 9:15. We never heard any announcements saying they were letting people off the ship though. We did hear a few announcements calling for colors to go through immigration. No one checked colored tags. We found our bags quickly and we were off! We had a great time! I cannot wait to go again. If you have any questions, ask and I will try to answer! Read Less
Sail Date January 2004
I loved this cruise! We cruise ALOT, and this has been one of my most memorable... In the past 3 years, we have been on Norwegian Sea, Celebrity Century, Carnival Inspiration, Carnival Conquest(twice), and now this ship, the Elation. ... Read More
I loved this cruise! We cruise ALOT, and this has been one of my most memorable... In the past 3 years, we have been on Norwegian Sea, Celebrity Century, Carnival Inspiration, Carnival Conquest(twice), and now this ship, the Elation. Though this ship is not as new or as elaborate as some, it impressed me in almost every regard. Of course, each cruise is different to a certain extent because of the people you meet or bring with you. This particular cruise was with our children and some very close friends that have been with us twice in the past. I adore having my children and people I love with me on a vacation, but we also met some fabulous people from Minnesota that helped make this cruise more special. We had a cabin on Empress Deck in the very back of the ship and it was wonderful. I highly recommend being across the back of the ship because the wake is so very pretty to look at! WOW! Our cabin steward was a ghost. We never saw him, but he took care of us and always made our cabin up so beautifully. We really appreciated him because on Conquest, our cabin steward was absent most of the time and our bed was only made and cabin cleaned about half of the time. For dinner, we did early seating and we had the cutest young lady as our server. She did not have much experience as a waiter, but she did marvelous with us and she had a really nice personality. We loved going to dinner. The food was some of the best we have had on a cruise ship. We had with us our 9 year old son who was very active with the kids program and he had a ball! One of the Camp Carnival Counselors was a little rude to him at one point, but I spoke with the head of this department and there were no further issues. Aside from this little episode, I would suggest that if you bring young children, let them get involved with Camp Carnival. It was a great place for the kids and they all had such fun! Oh the ship was so pretty to me! It was decorated so tastefully. The Carnival Inspiration was kinda weird the way it was decorated. I looked up in the dining room and it looked like a big spider web all over the place. This ship was decorated by the same person, so I was glad to see that the decor was not obnoxious. The "Las Vegas Style Show" was good, not great. The Carnival Conquest had the best shows I have ever seen on any ship. The show was worth going to on Elation, but it was just ok. Leaving from Galveston was neat. On embarkation, we eased through without really a problem. Disembarkation was a nightmare. Poorly planned, they took us on a winding path through their Jeckyl and Hyde disco through very narrow hallways... very weird. We stood in line for hours. Bad! I would recommend this ship, though. It is pretty, has good little shops, it is easy to get around and the decor is tasteful. I love smaller ships too because they don't seem to sway back and forth quite as much when seas are rough. I would give this cruise 8 our of 10 stars. Great service, great company and exceptional food! Well done Carnival!! Read Less
Sail Date January 2004
Six of us (my husband and I, my parents, and my uncle and aunt) sailed Carnival's Elation out of Galveston January 25th through February 1st, 2004. This was my husband and mine's 3rd cruise (2nd on Carnival) and everyone ... Read More
Six of us (my husband and I, my parents, and my uncle and aunt) sailed Carnival's Elation out of Galveston January 25th through February 1st, 2004. This was my husband and mine's 3rd cruise (2nd on Carnival) and everyone else's 2nd cruise (both on Carnival). There is probably more information here than anyone wants to know, but I'm sure some fellow detail oriented person will appreciate it! Enjoy... Sunday - Departure - We arrived at the terminal about 11:00 am. We dropped off our luggage with a very nice porter. He did not check any of our documents (like others on the board had mentioned had been happening at other terminals). We went upstairs to wait for our two drivers to return from parking the cars. Once they arrived, we got in our first of 4 lines - X-ray - which moved very quickly. We moved on to line number two - check-in - where we were handed a flier stating that we would be boarding early, but not to go to our rooms until 1:00. The fun pass line was quite long, so we decided to go through the regular check-in line. Although the fun pass line moved faster than the regular check-in line, there were many more people, so we actually made it through faster than the fun pass line. We spent about 5 minutes checking in with the clerk and moved on to line number three - boarding photo. They had two lines here with two photographers so we moved through quickly, only to end up in line number four - where we had our picture taken to match our sail and sign card, and then were on our way to board. We set foot on the Empress Deck at 12:50. With only 10 minutes till 1:00, we decided to go to our rooms E95, E99 and E103, and found them ready for us! We unpacked our carry-ons and headed to Tiffany's on the Lido deck to have lunch...salad and pizza!! The ladies took the Ship Tour offered at 2:30 while the guys rested in the cabins. The Ship Tour, given by Ryan, the Social Host, was OK. It was nice to walk around and see the ship, but I think it would be better to have a flyer that guided you through the different areas of the ship. There was not a large group for the tour, but it was hard to keep up, sometimes we head to weave through crowded areas, and it was difficult to hear him most of the time. Overall, it still helped us learn our way around the ship. After the ship tour, we headed back to the room to get ready for the lifeboat drill. Our luggage had arrived, so we unpacked before the drill. We grabbed the life jackets and made our way to muster station B, Elation's Way - nice place to have to wait and not very crowded. When they called for all muster stations to move to life boats, station B was the last to go. We were on deck at the lifeboats for 15 minutes tops. Pretty quick and painless. After the drill, we booked our Progresso excursion (the only one we booked with Carnival) and went up to the Verandah deck for sailing. Had a Fun Ship drink of the day (YUMMY!!!) and went for a burger and fries. We went back to our room to wait for the free liquor tasting - they had mostly rums to taste, but it was nice to try before you buy - and looked around the shops before we headed to dinner. After dinner, we headed back to the room to check out the capers for our first day at sea. Monday - 1st day at sea - Didn't make it up in time for the 9:15 shopping talk, but after watching it on TV, wished we had been there for some of the goodies she gave out! We went to the 10:45 travel talk, which was very informative. Larry, the cruise director, had a powerpoint presentation, so he had lots of pictures of the ports and excursions which was nice. Although we already knew what we were going to do at the ports, it helped us know what to do the next time we go to the ports. Both of these talks were on the TV the rest of the day, so if you don't make it to the "live" performance, you can always catch it in reruns. After lunch, we went to the art pre-view and art auction. We had never been to an art auction before, so we wanted to see what we were missing. The answer is...nothing. We wasted our afternoon. Unless you are really interested in buying art, I wouldn't go. Tonight was formal night, so we played around the ship a bit and then got ready for dinner. Had plenty of pictures taken and enjoyed the Captain's Cocktail party! The after dinner show was good. Our Progreso tour tickets were in our room when we returned. Tuesday - Progreso, Mexico - I was up for the Progreso sunrise and watched us pull to the dock, and got he first glimpse of the 7 km long pier. We took the Dzibilchaltun Mayan Ruins 4 hour tour to say we had seen some ruins without having to spend an entire day (like the Chichen Itza tour - however I spoke with one couple who very much enjoyed Chichen Itza, they just didn't feel there was enough time at the ruins due to the traveling). We boarded a nice air conditioned bus for our 20 minute ride to the ruins. Our guide, Dario, was of Mayan descent and gave us a very informative talk on the Mayans. Once we arrived at the ruins, we stayed with Dario for a portion of the tour, then went off on our own to explore. We climbed the structures and spent some time watching swimmers at the cenote (swimming hole). We looked through the little gift shop at the ruins (things seemed too expensive to us) and met back at our bus at the designated time for our drive back to the ship. We walked through the shops at the pier, where you could find some of the same things from the ruins gift shop cheaper. The wind was blowing like crazy, so we didn't spend much time here, and got back on board. We had lunch and rested in our room. The dinner menu did not look very good to us, so we all had an early dinner at Tiffany's and spent the evening playing Dominoe's in Spirals. The sea was very rough, and we heard that the dining room was ¾ empty because so many people were sick. Wednesday - Cozumel, Mexico - We got off the ship and headed for a taxi to take us to the Havana Club for my husband's cigars. We shared a cab with another couple who were also headed downtown. When they got out we asked the driver how much further to Havana Club and he said 2 blocks, so we got out. It ended up being about 6, but we walked through some of the shops on our way. After my husband stocked up at Havana Club, we caught a taxi to Chankanaab Park for our dolphin swims. We booked directly with Dolphin Discovery for 2 royal swims and 2 encounters. We got to the park, paid our admission fee and checked in with Dolphin Discovery. They gave us our bands and instructions and we headed to the beach area to wait. It was sunny and warm, but the wind was really blowing. My husband and aunt did the royal swim and had a blast. Because of the wind, the waves in the dolphin pool were pretty high, so things were a little difficult, but they said it didn't take away from the experience at all. My uncle and I did the dolphin encounter and had a ball! We purchased the video for my husband and aunt for $49. The video for the encounter is only $29, but there wasn't as much to see on it. There are plenty of pictures to purchase, and they cut you a deal the more you buy. If you do this, make sure you buy the t-shirts in the gift shop for $9.99 that say you swam with the dolphins. You can choose a shirt with the dolphin you actually swam with. It's a great souvenir. We left the park about 3:30 and caught a cab back to the pier. We walked through the shops and bought a few souvenirs, then ate at Pancho's Backyard for some authentic Mexican food. Food was good, but they have GREAT guacamole. Got back on the ship and sat up on deck to watch us sail away from Cozumel. Sat in the whirlpool for a while then got dressed for dinner. My parents went to the "Pure Country" show, and said it was not pure country. Thursday - Belize City, Belize, Central America - We booked a snorkel tour with Coral Breeze in Belize. Since we weren't on a Carnival tour, we had to get tender tickets to get ashore. My aunt arrived at the lounge 20 minutes before the scheduled time. There was a passenger there that was writing down names as people arrived. When the Carnival employee arrived with the tickets, the gentleman showed her the list and said they all deserved the first tickets, which we got. After that, it was a free for all. They said the first non-tour tender wouldn't leave until 9:30, and they called for it about 9:35. They didn't tell you where to meet for the tenders so we were waiting in the atrium on the Elation deck. They called for tender tickets numbered 1 and 2 to meet in the Cole Porter Lounge. By the time we got up to the deck, they were already walking out, so we just filed in line. Some people were wearing their tender sticker, but we weren't. No one every asked to see our number. It was raining, so it was a little tricky getting into the tender boat. It was a nice size boat that held probably up to 75 people. It took about 15 minutes to get to shore. We went to the flagpole area to meet Coral Breeze, but it took us a few minutes to find them since they weren't out in the open due to the rain. We were their second tour of the day and there were 17 of us from the Elation. Their first tour left at 8am with passengers from the Splendour of the Seas because they left port at 2pm. Since there were two tours, we didn't get the boat that you see on their website. We had a covered boat which was nice since it was raining, but it wasn't as nice or as big as the one we were expecting. It was owned and captained by the gentleman who owns the Rainbow Cafe where we ordered lunch on Caye Caulker. We left right on time at 10am. Our guide was Natalie and she was outstanding. We took about a 40 minute boat ride out to Caye Caulker, and after dropping off our lunch order at the Rainbow Cafe and taking a bathroom break, we headed to our first stop at Coral Gardens. Just to let you know, you get out of the boat in about 30 foot water, then snorkel over to the Great Barrier Reef, which is about 4-5 foot of water. With the rain and the wind, it was quite a swim! The boat then picks you up and takes you over to Shark Ray Alley, which was awesome. You could see them swarming the boat as we pulled up because they were expecting to be fed. After spending time there, we headed to Caye Caulker for lunch. As we arrived, about 1:00, the sun came out and the rest of the day was beautiful. We had a nice lunch at the Happy Lobster since the Rainbow Cafe was busy. It was good, and I recommend the Club Sandwich. We then had time to walk around the island, which was nice. We bought some t-shirts, and some fresh pineapple (Yum, Yum) and got back on the boat. On the ride back to Belize, we saw dolphins, so the captain stopped and followed them around for a little bit. It was really neat! Once we got back to Belize, we walked around the tourism village a little bit and then caught the next to last tender back to the boat. Since lunch had worn off, we had a light snack as we were sailing away. We went to the cabin to rest, then got dressed for dinner. After such a long day, we crashed right after dinner. Friday - 2nd day at sea - We did nothing but lay out on deck since this was the first really nice day we'd had. Tonight was the second formal night and the past guest party. The party was nice with good drinks!! Had a few more pictures taken and then off to dinner. We went to the show which was good. We stayed up to take pictures of the midnight buffet in the Imagination dining room. We sat out on deck for a while, and as we made our way to our room about 1am, there was still a line of people waiting to get in to eat the buffet. There wasn't much there I'd wait in line for, but of course we had just finished dinner not too long ago! Saturday - 3rd day at sea - The sun was out in the morning, but as the day went on, the wind and the rain picked up. They moved some of the deck activities inside. We spent the entire day in the cabin, except for lunch and dinner, either sleeping or watching movies. We spent some time cleaning up the room and packing things up. We had our final dinner, and afterwards had champagne and chocolate covered strawberries to celebrate our travels. Sunday - Debarkation at Galveston - We got up and were at breakfast at 7:30. They called the first group through immigration starting at 7:45. We were the 4th or 5th group called and moved through very quickly. We went back to our room to pack up the last few things and head to the promenade deck to wait. They called our group off the ship at 9:30, and by 10:05 we were in the car and headed home. We decided next time that we would not have breakfast until after we had gone through immigration so that we didn't have to wait so long between immigration and debarkation. Room - the room was very nice. Sheldon, our room steward, seemed to always know when we left, because at times I had to run back to the room, and it was already made up! Just a few comments... The TV gets NBC, CBS and ABC (they were all by satellite and were from different places). They have 3 movie stations, 2 for adults and 1 for kids. For the remaining channels, one shows the talks, one shows a bridge and engine room video and another shows part of the travel log that is filmed all throughout the cruise. If you have the twin beds put together as a queen, they don't have queen sized bedspreads, so you only get a twin to lay across the lower half of the bed. They did have an extra blanket, which we used all the time. The room temperature was great. We like it cold, and we weren't disappointed. We did close the vent up a couple of times because it just got too cold. Beware of the water temperature in the bathroom shower. It was hard to regulate, and would go from scalding hot to freezing cold without warning, so we had to keep adjusting it. Photos - This is only my opinion, but I would like to see a decrease in the amount of pictures they want to take of you. I don't mean the formals - I love being able to have so many different shots to choose from. I'm talking about the random photos on board, and the photos taken at the ports. At Cozumel, we had to take 3 pictures before we could leave the ramp...one with the life preserver (which I don't mind) and then 2 with characters. On board, 2 nights you couldn't get out of the dining room without having to stop for a picture. One time we politely said no, and heard some comments made by the photo staff. This might help reduce the prices of the formal photos since they don't have all the expense of developing all the others, which I noticed most people disposing of. Food - Overall, the food was great. A couple of entrees in the dining room were not very good. Pizza, hamburgers and ice cream was great as always. For a treat, may I recommend stopping by the Musical Cafe for chocolate covered strawberries ($4 for 6) and the chocolate cake ($2 a slice). Both very well worth it. Room service was nice for a quick snack. We always received it very quickly. We always had breakfast and lunch on the Lido deck and dinner in the dining room. Our wait staff, Ruben and Mr. Jose were both wonderful! We were the only table they had so we were well attended and were usually the first ones out of the dining room! General Comments - Although the welcome aboard documents say no jeans in the dining room, the capers state "Proper attire requested. No shorts or beachwear, please!" There were people in jeans, some looked very nice, some not so nice. There were also men in baseball caps, and one man in flip flops with his beer. It didn't really detract from my dining experience, but it would have been nice to have seen him turned away and asked to return properly dressed. Larry the cruise director was good. Not "cheesy" like others have been called. We really enjoyed him. He never seemed like he was trying too hard to be funny, it just came naturally. The crew was so friendly. They always said hello, good morning/afternoon/evening when they passed. This was a sold out cruise with 2104 passengers aboard. As for the make up of the passengers, there were more older people (60s and up) on this cruise than any other age group. I would say there were no more than 50 kids on board, so we didn't have many problems that others have posted about. The longest line I ever stood in was to get into the dining room, but there wasn't a wait once they opened the doors since everyone went straight to their table. We had a couple of bad days/nights at sea with some really high waves hitting the boat, and rocking from one side to the other. My aunt caught a bottle of ketchup sliding off the table in Tiffany's!! I have the capers from the trip, and will get those scanned as soon as I can. I also have plenty of pictures to upload, so I'll post that link once I'm finished. I'm sure I forgot something, so if there are any questions that I can answer please let me know and I'd be more than happy to answer them. To sum up, this was a great cruise and we would not hesitate to do it again!! Read Less
Sail Date January 2004
Saturday, January 24, 2004 Our vacation started about noon, at, of all places, the Brazos Mall. We went to get some jewelry prices to compare with the prices at Cozumel. This was after fussing about getting the last of our packing done, ... Read More
Saturday, January 24, 2004 Our vacation started about noon, at, of all places, the Brazos Mall. We went to get some jewelry prices to compare with the prices at Cozumel. This was after fussing about getting the last of our packing done, removing a dead cat from our storage shed, and packing up the car. After a light lunch at El Chico, our last taste of Tex-Mex for a week, we headed out to Galveston. A quick trip by the pier, which was deserted, and we went on to EconoLodge, our departure hotel. We determined that it was nearly as cheap to get a hotel room, with free parking, taxi to and from the pier, as park for $10 a day at the pier. An added benefit is that we miss all the madhouse at disembarkation. While others are waiting in line to get to a shuttle, to go to the parking lot, wait in line to get out, and get their cars and get in line to pay, and then get into the traffic flow to get in line to find a parking spot at the terminal, load their cars, and get back in line to get out of the terminal, we hail a taxi, get out at our car, load our baggage, and drive off! We ate simply at the hotel, and watched Star Trek Insurrection to pass the time. We'll see if the noisy neighbors cause any problems going to sleep. We're planning to get up, eat a leisurely breakfast, distribute our baggage, and call a cab to arrive about 11:00 AM. Sunday, January 25, 2004 We awakened at our usual time (6:00 AM!) with only 5 hours to kill. The continental breakfast at the hotel was typical, with muffins, juice, cereal, etc. We watched a movie and walked along Seawall Blvd. to kill some time. We arranged our luggage into checked and carry-on, and moved the car to the cruise parking lot. About 10:45, we called for a cab. The cab arrived and we loaded up and set out for the pier. The cab was a little "skanky" as Belinda described it. Traffic was light because it was so early. Our cab fare ran $9.70 + 1.30 tip. We gave our luggage to a baggage handler, and entered the check-in facility. Lines were very short! We stepped through a carry-on x-ray station, and went to the "express check-in" section, because we had pre-filled out information online. We didn't wait at all, but saw an agent who verified our documents, scanned our credit card, stamped our boarding ticket, and gave us our "sign and sail" cards. The cards are your room key and on-board credit card. You can buy drinks, art, jewelry, liquor, shore tours, etc. with your card (as long as you pay for it with your credit card at the end of the cruise!). We heard later that there was some type of computer glitch later on in the day that caused some problems, but we did not experience any. We had to wait about 1 hour to board the ship. Wedding parties have first priority. We were probably in the first 50 on board. They take your boarding picture, which they try to sell you later, and an identification picture that is tied to your sign and sail card. You enter on the Empress deck at the prettiest part of the ship, the atrium. It is an open air space, elaborately decorated and lit, that extends 6 decks and ends with a glass window. There are 2 glass elevators, that give a spectacular (if somewhat slow) view. We took a few pictures, and went to the Lido Deck to have lunch. Tiffany's is a buffet-line (2 lines) restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The food quality is similar to a buffet-type restaurant, not great, but not bad. Water, tea, coffee, juices, and hot chocolate are free, cokes and drinks cost extra. Pizza and ice cream is available 24 hours a day. We did the responsible thing and picked frozen yogurt for our 3-4 ice cream cones per day. We went around taking a few pictures and video and exploring a little. The weather was nice, around 70 and clear. We requested early dinner seating (around 6:00), but were assigned late seating (8:30). We tried unsuccessfully to change back to early seating, I guess more people want to eat early than late. We then went on a ship's tour with one of the assistant cruise directors. It was interesting, but nothing we couldn't have seen ourselves. We didn't get to see the wheelhouse, the engine room, the kitchen, or the crew's quarters. We picked out our excursions and dropped the sign-up sheet in the drop box, as the tour desk wasn't open. Because this was a last-minute cruise, we didn't have time to arrange outside tours, which others have found better or cheaper than the ship's. Our Cabin: Carnival cabins seem to be a little larger than other cruise lines, at least according to internet information. This cabin appeared to be very similar to our cabin on Jubilee. The room is fairly large, with room for the king-sized bed (made of two twins connected together) and room at the foot, a small seating area in the corner opposite the bed, a desk up against the wall, with 5 drawers, two clothes hanging areas, and a similarly sized shelved area. Hangars are provided for each side. There is a sail & sign operated safe in the center shelved area. There were two other beds in the cabin, both single and attached to opposite walls. We lowered the two beds, and they were both sturdy. The king bed blocked one bed from using the ladder. Use by four people might necessitate separating the king bed into two singles and rearranging so that a ladder could be placed by each upper. The bathroom contains the toilet, several towel racks, a medicine cabinet over a large sink, a ceramic bowl to contain toothbrushes, combs, etc., and a 2'x4' shower. The shower has a removable head on a hose, and the height and tilt of the head is adjustable. Water is plentiful and hot, and shampoo and body wash liquid are provided via refillable pumps attached to the front wall of the shower. There is a low threshold between the shower and the rest of the toilet. Because of the force of the water and the lightness of the nylon shower curtain, water tends to escape the shower enclosure and is directed to it's own drain. The mat provided each day is necessary to keep the toilet floor relatively dry. Four towels are provided, and they are changed twice each day, as part of the cabin service. We decided to skip the dinner, and ate hamburgers and pizza at Tiffany's and I got a shot of sundown leaving Galveston in the distance. After dinner, I made quick time turning $20 into $5 at the casino, so Belinda had some money to gamble to match my losses. She gambled on this hokey "horse race". She also showed her luck by buying several "lotto" tickets. After the horse race, there was a game show, where they get people up and they compete for a gold coated plastic ship. After that, we sat through Bingo at $10 a card, and the main Welcome Aboard show started. It was pretty funny, with audience members generally making fools of themselves. The finale was a comedian, pretty funny, who also brought audience members up for a little "MO-TOWN" . Monday, January 26, 2004 - "Fun Day at Sea" We slept late (6:00). After showering and dressing, we went up to Tiffany's for "Breakfast at Tiffany's". Standard buffet fare, fruit, cereal, eggs, bacon, sausage, pancakes, and made-to-order omelettes (that doesn't say I ate all those things, just that they were available). Lines can get fairly long at peak times, but there are two lines (plus a line outside on Lido deck), so they move fairly quickly. Carnival tries very hard at "up-sell". Want a coke? You'll pay. Want bottled water, ditto. Alcoholic drinks are pretty expensive, I think. The "Drink of the Day" is usually about $6.50 (but you get to keep the plastic glass). When you're on the deck chairs, waiters wander around constantly, asking you to buy drinks. Want to call home? You can, from your room, even, and it only costs you $6.99/minute! Internet access is also available for anywhere from $1.00/minute to $0.55 if you buy lots of minutes in a package. They push lotto tickets, "inch of gold (plate)", liquor, cigarettes, their gift shops, art auctions, casinos (which open early, and close late), Bingo, horse race betting, lottery, raffles, and pictures, pictures, pictures. People are always coming around taking your picture, and there is a huge hallway where they display these pictures, and try to get you to buy them. On formal night, the photographers multiply, allowing you to pose in front of the ship, in front of Mayan ruins, in front of a sunset, in front of a ship's wheel, you get the picture. They also push spa services very hard. "Ionothermie", mud baths, personal consultation, massage, essential oils, aromatherapy, relaxation chambers all are available (at outrageous cost). We attended a "Shopping Talk", where the ships shill the shops that have paid them fees to advertise. I don't know how much they pay, but the speakers push them really hard, and tell you horror stories about the other non-recommended stores. We're probably going to look at gold and diamonds in Cozumel, but we've looked at home so we know whether prices are reasonable or not. We tried the formal dining room for lunch, with a sit-down meal, waiters, menus, etc. The food was definitely better than the buffet, but it does take longer, and our waiter was a little surly. After lunch, I crashed for a nap, while Belinda watched "Shipboard Survivor". We then played trivia, where I did well, scoring 18 , but some ladies scored higher, and we didn't win the "ship on a stick". (Hint, the hardest answer is "parking meter"!). Then Belinda went up and sat on the deck, and allowed someone to talk her out of her priceless blue beach towel, that she had check out to her card. Therefore, she was going to have to pay $22 for that towel. She looked all over for "her" towel without success. She explained her predicament to the purser's desk and the deck attendant, so she may not have to purchase the missing towel after all. It ruined her mood for the day, though. I worked out a bit to keep my figure in shape, while Belinda soaked her troubles. Tonight was our first formal night. Belinda was all decked out in a black sequined spaghetti-strap cocktail dress, black strap shoes, and silver jewelry, easily the prettiest women on the boat. I, on the other hand, wore my funeral suit, with Mickey Mouse tie to add a little color. We took lots of pictures, and then went to the Captain's cocktail party, arriving too late to get the appetizers, and free drinks. However, it was close to 8:30, so we went to dinner. Our tablemates were interesting, and the food was good, with lobster tail and prime rib on the menu (I had both). We went to the musical type show, which started out with Las Vegas style showgirls, dancing and singing, but Belinda was falling asleep, so we left early. Tomorrow, we discover Chichenitza. Tuesday, January 27, 2004 - Progreso, Mexico Chichenitza We disembarked at Progreso about 8:00 and got in line for the tour. Progreso is located in shallow water, so the pier is about a mile long. There were about 8 buses going to the site, and we were in bus #2. Enrique was in charge of the bus portion of our tour. He gave us information about the history of the area, the language, the people, the culture, and the city and countryside we were traveling through. The bus ride was about 2 hours long, (thank goodness there is an onboard restroom) and after 1½ hours, we stopped at a small unnamed village to buy souvenirs. The shops were all connected together, and to get to the restrooms, you had to pass through all the shops. The prices weren't all that good. Evidently, all these shopkeepers had paid a fee to the tour companies, because there were other vendors that were outside the cordoned off area, and our tour guides told us to ignore them. However, I was looking for jaguar heads, and the only shop that had them wanted $40 (bargained down to $30) for one. The street vendors had a couple, and so I walked out to the cordon and bargained with them. They were very insistent, but I brushed off the blankets and the totems, and the handkerchiefs and got a small head for $5, and a larger head for $8. They had a prettier larger one for $20, but I wouldn't go that high, and sadly, left it behind. Chichenitza is a well tended, fairly commercial park, with gift shop, restaurant, etc. The guides purchased our tickets and gave us wrist bands for entry. We walked down a trail that opened onto the plaza where the large pyramid is located. It is a striking sight, and most of us clicked off a few pictures. It was about 10:30 AM, and very few people were there, so our guide, Carlos, let us climb the pyramid and have a little free time before the pyramid got too crowded. We climbed the inner pyramid (not for the claustrophobic) and saw the figures at the top. It wasn't too impressive, and there was no room to loiter, so we went back down (holding the ceiling, since there were no handrails). We then climbed the 91 steps to the top of the main pyramid. The steps are very steep, and some people climbed them on all fours. I have to admit that I did have to stop partway up to catch my breath. The view was very good (the top of the pyramid is the highest point for many miles around. This part of Yucatan is very flat, with no hills, mountains, etc. I took the chicken(iza) route and held the rope for the climb back down. Afterward, Carlos took us to several ruins, interpreted the carvings, gave us some history and speculation about what happened when the Mayans were conquered by the Toltecs and Spaniards, and generally did a good job as tour guide. The bus ride back was quiet, with everyone respecting the traditional Mexican custom of siesta. We did not stop on the way back for souvenirs, so get them on the way, if you want them. We arrived back at the ship at about 3:30 pm, just in time. After everyone was boarded, we cast off and started for Cozumel. It was extremely windy when we got back on the ship. Evidently this wind kicked up quite a few waves, because the boat was what most landlubbers called "rockin' and rollin'". Belinda had a headache, so we skipped the formal dining room. The featured act that night was of all things, a balancing act! The motion of the ship caused a few "false starts", but otherwise, the guy did a great job. He balanced golf clubs, balloons, bicycles, glasses, swords, champagne bottles, etc. The motion was especially evident in the Mikado lounge, which is located high and forward. We were low on the ship, near the center, so the motion did not bother us too much in bed. Wednesday, January 28, 2004 - Cozumel Today was a shopping day. Due to the strong wind, we cancelled plans to go to Chankanaab and snorkel. People who went on the tours complained about the strong wind. Weather was clear, however, so we got lots of sun. We took a cab ($6) to the forum shops and started our trek. We dropped off the requisite raffle forms, and picked up the featured trinkets. We purchased diamond stud earrings at Diamonds International (but only because we had done our homework and knew what competitive prices were). Prices were much better (for same CCCC) than local jewelry stores, plus no tax, and slightly better than internet prices we had seen (and we were able to see before purchase). The big money spent, I went looking for my purchase (a baseball cap). I enjoy haggling with the vendors, but I do not enjoy hawkers trying to talk/coax/guide you into their shops. The best bargains are to be found away from the center of town, on the streets perpendicular to the main street. We ate at the restaurant in the center of town, somewhat overpriced for standard fajitas. Be warned, the pepper sauce is extremely hot! We snapped a picture of our floating hotel at the pier shopping mall (same stuff as at downtown, but much less haggling on price), and got back on the ship. Thursday, January 29, 2004 - Belize We signed up for the Shark and Ray Alley snorkel tour. I got up early to catch the sunrise, however, the day was cloudy, with lots of wind. Not a good day for snorkeling! We met at 8:00 AM and got in line to get on our tour boats. We were the last two on that particular boat. The seas were choppy, and it was a little difficult getting into the boat. After we were all on the boat (about 25 of us), the twin Yamaha V-6 200 hp motors roared into life and we were off. The water was very rough, and it was raining on and off. We were "lucky" to get in the front of the boat, which was covered. We got out of the rain and wind, but were battered by the boat crashing into the waves. There was about an hour of this bashing, punctuated by a few short stretches between the cayes where the seas were blocked. We stopped at Caye Caulker to change, hit the restroom ($0.50 Bz, $0.25 US charge), and get snorkel gear. It was then off to the snorkel location, just off the barrier reef. We tied to a bouy, and got into the water. The water was still choppy, and it was raining, but the water was not too cold. The snorkeling was surprisingly very good. We saw many rays, petted them, swam with them, and one thought I was offering food when I dived down, and brushed up against my back and head, which confused me, and I got up top pretty quickly. We saw barracuda, jack, parrot fish, and a couple of 4-6 foot long nurse sharks. The coral, combinations of brain and fan coral, was very pretty, and seemed very healthy. There were lots of tiny very colorful fish darting in and out of the coral. The water depth started out about 8 feet, but as we got closer to the reef, it was eventually about 1-2 feet deep. We stayed at the edge of the reef, where it was 5-7 feet deep. Once I wandered off from the group, and a guide from another boat had to direct me to the proper group. After about 50-60 minutes, I was getting a little queasy from bobbing up and down and getting a few mouthfuls of salt water, so I got out. I was about in the middle of the group leaving the water, and the others boarded about 5 minutes later. We finished off our disposable film camera. We removed our gear and took off for Ambergis Caye, where we were to have lunch in St. Martin. After about 15 minutes, we arrived, changed clothes, and ate an authentic meal of rice and beans, potato salad, barbecue chicken, watermelon, and fruit punch. We purchased a bottled Coke instead of drinking the fruit punch. We had about 1½ hours shopping in St. Martin. It is a fairly small town, with sand roads, with golf cart being the primary mode of transportation. We walked the tourist shops, but didn't buy much, because the prices were higher than they were in Cozumel. We did find some cheap ice cream and headed back to the boat for the 1½ hour boat ride back to the ship. The weather had cleared up, becoming sunny and breezy. On the way back, I guess to make up for the rainy weather, the boat stopped at a Manatee preserve, and we drifted into the area to look for manatee. We saw several at a distance of 100-200 yards, and then, incredibly, two surfaced about 3 feet from the boat! I tried to get the video camera pointed at them, but didn't really get a good shot. Belinda was up on the bow and had a great downward view of the ugly but gentle giants, but she didn't have the camera! We then proceeded back to the ship. The crew worked hard to keep us safe, shepherd us in the water, show us wildlife up close, and in general, earned their tip. Back on the boat, we took off in a meandering course between the cayes and back out to sea. I got a few sunset shots. The entertainment tonight was a Talent Show. There were 8 guests who performed, and then the crew got involved. The result was a hilarious rendition of "If I Were Not Upon the Sea", involving 10-12 crew members. The highlight was the cruise director coming out dressed in drag, giving one "implant" to the assistant, which he popped, showering the assistant with water. On his way to his spot in the line, he slipped on the water and fell flat on his rear (very much an accident, which he told me later), which slayed the other crew members, because he is their boss! Tonight was the big deck party, to say farewell to the ports of call. There was a Mexican buffet at midnight, followed by music by a DJ, and dancing on the Lido deck. The Elation dancers lead a fairly large Conga line snaking up and down the ladders and back onto the stage. There were a few group activities, such as country line dancing, and the Electric Slide. We were a little tired from the snorkeling, and didn't stay until the end. Friday, January 30, 2004 - Fun day at Sea Today was sunny and warm. We are finally starting to adapt to the late nature of shipboard activities, we slept in until 7:00. After breakfast, at the dining room this time, with basically the same food as Tiffany's, but with slow personal service, and seating by strangers, we set out to bake ourselves. The deck was covered in lounge chairs, but there were several available. We sunned ourselves until lunch (burning the area between my shorts and my shoes), after which I napped, while Belinda went to some activities, such as Survivor at Sea, Battle of the Sexes, etc. If you're a past Carnival cruiser, be sure to identify yourself when you book, and when you check in. It qualifies you for a reception on Friday, with a free pin, free drinks and appetizers. The captain was there, and we viewed a short video on Carnival, showing the history of the company, and a list of all past and present Carnival ships. The finale was a drawing for a commemorative bottle of champagne, which we didn't win. Tonight was the final formal diner. Of course, Belinda wore another stunning black dress, and I wore my same suit. The food at dinner has been generally good, with dessert being the weakest course. The desserts generally are strange, with small portions, and if they contain pastry or cake, they taste "stale". This is probably due to the fact that they are prepared in advance. Of course, you can always opt for the ice cream or sherbet, which is always good. The last Las Vegas style show was entitled "Spin", and was a spinning wheel with different US cities, and when the wheel stopped on that city, the dancers did a number with that city as theme. Dancing was good, the costumes were extravagant, the lead singers were both good, and in general, it was one of the best shows. Tonight was the "Midnight Buffet". This was a chance for the artistic chefs to show off their work. They use food to craft beautiful and artistic items, which are on display at midnight. There were two ice sculptures, a ship, and this dragon. The food looked pretty, but tasters said that most of it tasted rather bland. As the tasting started at 12:30, and we had just eaten at 8:30, we didn't stay for the tasting, but went off to bed. Saturday, January 31, 2004 - Another "Fun Day at Sea" This day, closer to Galveston, was a lot cooler and cloudier than yesterday, so we mostly stayed indoors. There are lots of areas with comfortable seating on the Promenade Deck, where the lounges, bars, disco's are located. We both brought books, and in general read, lounged in the hot tubs (there are 5 on board, not counting the ones in the swanky cabins), napped in our cabin, and in general, relaxed. The cruise director gave a debarkation talk, which included instructions on baggage, immigration, and debarkation. Everyone was encouraged to attend, but it's really not necessary, because it is played continuously until debarkation. You can bring back $800 per person, 1 liter of liquor and 1 carton of cigarettes per person into Galveston, but no Cuban cigars. The selling really reaches a fever pitch on the last day. There is a raffle for a free cruise, $2000 bingo, the final horse race, and all the gift shop merchandise is reduced by at least 20-30%. Tip: Don't buy souvenir junk from the ship's gift shop until the last day. There's very little risk of running out, and the prices are reduced. The spa was holding a special, which Belinda took advantage of. Crew members were walking around with raffle tickets and scratch-off lottery tickets all evening. The "inch of gold" table magically appeared in several places. After the show, we put our check bags outside our room, packed our carry-on's, and went to bed. We realized that Riviera deck was last in line to leave, but that was OK, as we decided to stay on the ship for longer than we did last cruise. The cruise director said that it was OK to change your luggage tags, so you could have figured out which color went first, and changed your luggage tags to match, however we did not. Sunday, Feb 1- Debarkation We slept a little late, and spent some time arranging our luggage and doing a final check out of all 4 beds. One note: the announcements regarding immigration, debarkation are not audible in the staterooms, so you have to either leave the door partially open, or leave your cabin to hear them. We had decided to be one of the last to debark, but as the colors were called, we got a little more anxious to leave. Therefore, as soon as they called our color, we went to immigration. The line moved quickly, so there was only a 10-15 minute wait. We read and relaxed until our color was called, and sadly walked down the gangway to shore. We picked up our bags, and lugged them to the taxi stand. The taxi situation needs some work in Galveston. The taxis have to wait in line to get to the terminal with all the other shuttle buses, and private cars that are jockeying in and out of the terminal to pick up passengers and luggage. A separate taxi lane would speed up the process greatly. Our taxi driver told us the lack of taxis was due to the fact that the drivers have to wait 30-40 minutes with no meter running, every time they return to the terminal, and that many of them just avoid the area. The fact that there were two cruise ships debarking at the same time also had something to do with it. If you don't have many bags, you could probably walk to the Strand (4-5 blocks) and pick up a taxi more easily. We split the fare with another couple, arrived at the hotel ($10 fare), started our car, and headed home. In general, the cruise was enjoyable, relaxing, and a good value. Read Less
Sail Date January 2004
First a little about me. I am a 29 year old female who was traveling with 4 other females all about the same age. This was my second cruise and by far the best. Embarkation- The ship did not arrive until very late due to fog. We began ... Read More
First a little about me. I am a 29 year old female who was traveling with 4 other females all about the same age. This was my second cruise and by far the best. Embarkation- The ship did not arrive until very late due to fog. We began boarding between 2 and 3. Though the crowd of people was getting a bit on the rude side the Carnival staff was wonderful. Once on board, of course, our vacation had started and none of the wait time seemed to matter. We did not pull out of Galveston until around 1 a.m. due to the dense fog. Our room -- We were on the Rivera Deck in the last aft inside cabin. It was very roomy and our room steward did a good job. There was not near as much noise as I had expected. In fact, I loved our room. Food -- We ate breakfast and lunch at Tiffany's. The food in the buffet was above expectations for the first part of the cruise; however, it seemed to slide the deeper we got into the cruise. No problem though, the pizza was amazing. It soon became our staple. We had dinner in the dining room every night. The food was wonderful. Our wait staff was outstanding. They had our after dinner drinks (coffee and hot chocolate) ready for us even as we ordered them. The one food I thought was better on our previous cruise was the soups. Activities -- The ship seemed to have something going all of the time. We are a very laid back group and spent much of our time just relaxing in one of the 6 hot tubs, or laying out reading a book. We were not overly impressed with the featured shows, but found other things to do during that time. Ports -- Progresso, we did the city bus tour and had a wonderful time. We also did some shopping in what is known as their "flea market." We did most of our shopping for the trip here. In Cozumel, we did the Royal Dolphin Swim. I have to say it was one of the most amazing things I have ever done. I would pay the price and do it again in a heartbeat. The downtown area is under construction, this makes things a little congested, but not too bad. You are now routed directly through all of the shops. Belize, We were so excited about going back to Goff's Caye, but were greatly disappointed. When we got to Belize, we looked for the company we had gone with before. They were no longer doing business (they are now the company that the cruise ships use). We went with another company advertising for Goff's Caye, we were then told we would be going to a beach resort and to another Caye. We spoke to several people on our tour and they were under the impression that we were going to Goff's Caye. I do not believe the place we stopped would be considered a caye. There was maybe 20 sq. feet of sand showing. There were lots of fish, but most of the coral was dead. We have decided that in the future we will take the ship tour to Goff's caye (we love that little island). I believe the Carnival price for it was around $55-60. Well worth the piece of mind and that wonderful little island. Disembarkation -- We carried our own luggage off and were off of the ship and on the road home by 9:00 or so. It seemed to go pretty well for everyone. The line for immigration was daunting, but moved very quickly. We had such a wonderful time that we have already booked the same cruise for next year. Read Less
Sail Date January 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
We got to Houston Sat. night and stayed at the Days Inn. (Will never stay there again). We had read the name and number of a Taxi driver on this board and set up for him to pick us up at the hotel. Terry Huse is a very nice guy, ... Read More
We got to Houston Sat. night and stayed at the Days Inn. (Will never stay there again). We had read the name and number of a Taxi driver on this board and set up for him to pick us up at the hotel. Terry Huse is a very nice guy, dependable, with a comfortable little mini van. It cost us about $76 for all 4 of us. Much cheaper than we had been quoted for shuttles. Embarkation was quick and smooth. Even though we did have to wait a little while for a group of TAs who were taking a tour of the ship, we were still eating in Tiffany's before 1:00. As we left Galveston, it was a bit chilly and bumpy. But we learned from our last cruise and DH started the Bonine 3 days before and never had a problem. We had booked a 6B Guarantee and got exactly what we paid for. We were in M64, just 2 rooms aft of the forward elevators. The cabin was good sized and we seldom felt overly crowded even with 4 of us, especially since our teen was rarely there with us. Not quite enough drawer space (would be perfect for 2 or 3) and it was a good thing we brought extra hangers. First day at sea was fun, a little cold to swim, at least for us grownups - our 10 yo had the pool mostly to himself. We were told there were about 100 kids on board, with a fairly even spread of ages. So both boys eventually found kids to hang with. I did drop by the wine and cheese party, but couldn't tell who were Cruise Critics and who weren't. Next time, we'll have to set up our own meeting. Loved formal night (both the prime rib and lobster were great). Everyone looked so elegant and every time I thought I'd seen the most beautiful dress, here came another. By the time we got to Progresso it had warmed up to 95. Made for a hot dry tour in Chichen Itza. Our guide Gabriel said it was worse in the summer because of the humidity. The ruins were great, but did not have enough time to see everything. The bus ride was long, but comfortable. Hint: eat your sandwich before the tour, otherwise it gets hot and yucky. Didn't see much of Progresso, except the pier, which as you've most likely read is almost 6 miles long. Actually, most of it seemed more like a breakwater than a pier. In Cozumel, we rented a taxi for $15 each way (up to 4 people) to Chakanaab, $10 pp to get in. Beautiful park, wonderful for snorkeling or just lounging in the free chairs on the sand. We went back to the port about 3:00. Plenty of time to check out the shops, then back on the ship. They need to spend more time in Belize. Having to tender so far takes away much needed time from other things. By the time we got to the pier we had just enough time to book a 3 ½ hour Goff's Cay tour, do the tour and catch a tender back to the ship. I had wanted to go to Cay Caulker, but there would have been no time except by taking a ship's tour that took you straight from the ship to the island. Goff's Cay is a cute little sandy island with a few palm trees, brush and a grass hut pavilion, surrounded by white sand and crystal clear water. The fish here were not as colorful as they had been at Chakanaab, but the water was warmer and perfect for kids to play in the sandy shallows. If you have a bad back, ask to be seated in the very back of the tenders and tour boats as the water can be very choppy and the boats go very fast, slapping the bows in the water. The little hamburger joint inside the one of the buildings at the tourism village in town had the best prices on food, soft drinks and beer that we had seen on the whole cruise. Another two more fun, relaxing and increasing cool days at sea and we were back in Galveston. (The prime rib on the second formal night tasted re-heated, but for the most part food was good). Friday evening, the captain warned us that we would be heading into a cold front and could expect some rough seas, but Saturday morning came and still no really rough seas. There was a bit of wind, so they closed the open decks. Later we were informed that we had gone east around the storm and were now south of Louisiana, heading west to Galveston. As our only other cruise was on the Celebrity Mercury last April, we had to make some comparisons. The service was wonderful on both ships. Mercury's ambience was a little more elegant, Elation's more casual. Both ships had lots to do all the time. Both ships had too few elevators at key times. But Elation's elevators were weird as sometimes empty elevators would pass you up and sometimes would show they were on more than one floor at the same time or would sound an overweight buzzer with only a few people on it. Overall, the food was a bit better on the Mercury with more and better selections on the buffets, breakfasts and desserts. Elation's lobster and filet mignon were scrumptious and the pizza, hamburgers and soft serve ice cream were tops. (Tip: you can ask for grilled chicken in the hamburger buffet.) Having food 24/7 was a plus for our teen. Elation's room service was definitely quicker, but could not quite understand that my 10 yo wanted only bacon on his sandwich (they messed that order up so much it was almost comical). We really liked the shows on the Elation, the comics were funny (so was some of the audience) and with the added plus of a cruise director who can really sing. I think our favorite show was Spin. Debarkation was long, but we weren't in a hurry as our flight was not leaving until 5:00 pm. Luckily our waiting area was the Lido deck and they didn't start taking the breakfast buffet down until just before we left. Had to wait a while for a taxi as many rude people were stealing taxis from others who were there first. They need a better system there. But it was a nice day, so except for no seating, the waiting wasn't too bad. Nice cab ride back to Hobby, then a long arduous air journey back home with many stopovers etc. We would do it all again in a heartbeat and I'll be happy to answer any questions. Read Less
Sail Date February 2004
This was our 4th cruise....3 on Carnival (Celebration,Imagination,Elation)...1 on Norwegian. Elation left from Galveston..we took a shuttle from Hobby Airport "Galveston limousine Service"...$50 roundtrip (discounts for ... Read More
This was our 4th cruise....3 on Carnival (Celebration,Imagination,Elation)...1 on Norwegian. Elation left from Galveston..we took a shuttle from Hobby Airport "Galveston limousine Service"...$50 roundtrip (discounts for seniors/children available). Porters in Galveston are much friendlier than the ones in Miami. We had requested early dining...but were given late dining..so had to change that right away. We did an oceanview guarantee....and ended up with a cabin on main deck...not too bad...used to being up higher..was worried at first..but the elevators worked just fine. Main Deck: Hallway carpet had water stains (almost as if there was a flood there)...carpet needed to be replaced..surprising since the ship was refurbished 1 year ago. My husband noticed the laundry baskets in the hallway at all times...looked very messy. Room was clean. Dining: Would have preferred to have been seated with people in our own age group...made a comment about that to Carnival. Overall, Formal dining had something for everyone...there was just 1 night that we went that there was too much moose, goose, liver,etc..things you don't normally eat. 24 hour pizzeria was great! lunch buffets were also good...presentation is no where near Norwegian. Food was good. There is one cafe on the boat that charges for desserts...it's a shame to pay for that when you can go upstairs and get it for free....not sure why carnival has started doing that. Excursions: We only did 1 excursion..in Belize..Shark/Ray snorkeling..$79 it was wonderful..though the boat ride to/from the snorkel site is 3 hours roundtrip on a speedboat..so take something warm. Would recommend this excursion...it was the highlight of our trip. In Cozumel, we took a $7 cab ride to Dzal-Hu..great snorkeling there..we had our own equipment..in fact all the excursion boats came here for snorkeling. In Progresso, Mexico...we found a beer bargain...Coronas for 65 cents..so we enjoyed a few drinks on the beach. The beach water is not good for snorkeling...but its a great place to relax/shop. Entertainment: Not as good as other carnival boats. We were not impressed this time. The comedians were good..but of course this is always changing from trip to trip. The Las Vegas style shows were a disappointment. Pools/Spas: Carnival has separate pools and spas for children and adults...unfortunately Carnival is not good about keeping the adult pools/spas for adults only. Signs are posted...one day we saw an elder man in an adult hot tub..which had a sign for adults only...and we counted 9 children that got in and forced him out! That is unfortunate! Tipping: Out of all the cruises we have been on...this cruise seemed to push tipping in addition to your $10/person/day that carnival automatically adds to your account. There was a paragraph on tipping 3-4/7 days in the daily carnival caper regarding tipping...and they also made a point to announce it over and over again. That got irritating! My husband and I had already tipped $140.00 for the week...and they were pushing for more tips? Overall...cruise is what you make of it...we had a good time..just a few things that we wanted to point out...we just notice more now..since we have been on other cruises..we still had a great time and I would recommend this cruise..especially for the value! Read Less
Sail Date February 2004
This was my 4th cruise, second on Carnival. We had a great time and really enjoy cruising. We travel in groups and this year we had 12 in total travelling with us. This is a nice size ship to travel in large groups, the larger boats are ... Read More
This was my 4th cruise, second on Carnival. We had a great time and really enjoy cruising. We travel in groups and this year we had 12 in total travelling with us. This is a nice size ship to travel in large groups, the larger boats are more difficult to keep everyone together and it is next to impossible to get a beach chair on sea days on the larger boats. We booked our transfer through Galveston Limo Service and not only did it save us financially (about 30 per person) but also it flowed very smoothly and there were no crowds or being "herded". The food on the Elation I thought left much to be desired and has much room for improvement. I say that although I will admit I never went hungry. Some nights at dinner in the Dining Room I really didn't like any option on the menu. My particular server was not willing to offer any other options and that was the first time that has happened. Usually you could order a strip steak or salmon on most cruises if you don't like the featured entrees. Not sure if that was just my server or what, but I wasn't too impressed with the meals. The entertainment also did not meet my expectations. Some shows were ok, but mostly boring. The comedians seemed to get better as the week went on. The dancers need to stop coming out in feathers so much and give a better show. It seems the shows are only about costume changes. The other comment I will make about the entertainment on Elation is that the second level of the Mikado Lounge is very hard to view any show on. Plan on going to deck 8 to see the show. Upstairs there is always a poll blocking the view and it gets frustrating. The back pool was closed on the top deck the entire week. Not sure why. One hot tub was closed midweek on the main deck. There was a flood in the dining room mid week also. I saw painting crews painting elevators. One hot tub on the back deck was too hot to get into, literally scalding water, while the other one on the same deck was perfect. What I am getting at here is maintenance on this ship was far much more visible than on any other ship I was on. Not sure if that is a good thing or bad thing, but would have been nice to have all the pools/tubs working. Those are the only negatives I can point out on the Elation, so I started with them. There were also plenty of positives. The cabin steward did a wonderful job (although rarely seen). The staff aboard Elation is also incredibly friendly. We travelled with our 3 year old son. The individual attention he was given by various staff was wonderful. Photographers and bartenders were taking individual interest in this young child. You could tell he felt special. Service gets an A+. The staff all seemed happy and very pleasurable which really makes for a enjoyable setting. Camp carnival: A++++ My son spent some time in Camp Carnival, what a great program!! They give you an itinerary of the weeks schedule so you can checkout what you think your child may want to be involved in. It is very organized. At the end of the week they even have a family carnival where the parents have to be with the child. They have about 10 activities to do together. My son made crafts and now has souvenirs that he made. We both really enjoyed it. My son was always happy coming out of Camp Carnival and always had a great time when we talked afterwards. It is an all female staff and they are more than friendly and take the time to answer any question or concern you have at the beginning of the cruise. Ports of Call: Progresso.... I would recommend a cruise excursion on that day. We just hung out around the shops and eventually found a nice clean bar on the beach to hang out in. If I had it to do over, I would book an excursion that day and not bother with the shops there. DIRTY. Cozumel-- Chakkanaub is a great place to visit. Loads of iguanas, beach and watching the dolphins all are fun. Some in our group did the dolphin swim (I didn't) although they really loved it and you could tell they had a great time. If you are going to do that be sure you book it early, it sold out. Belize--- Cant wait to go there again. We did the cave tubing. there seems to be so much to do there that you cant do it all in one day. The cave tubing is fun (this also sold out so book it early) , I liked it. We will be back there. Walking through the rainforest getting to the river we were going to tube down was incredible. You just couldn't get over the beauty of the trees and plants there. Read Less
Sail Date February 2004
This was a great cruise. We are first time cruisers so we have nothing to compare it with, but from beginning to end we had a wonderful time. Embarkation was a breeze. We are Canadian Citizens so were able to use the non-US line and went ... Read More
This was a great cruise. We are first time cruisers so we have nothing to compare it with, but from beginning to end we had a wonderful time. Embarkation was a breeze. We are Canadian Citizens so were able to use the non-US line and went through quite quickly. Our cabin was clean and very roomy. It was much like a small hotel room. We loved the ship decor. The atrium was beautiful. The food in the dining room was consistently good. The service was top notch. Our maitre d', Stu, and our server team of Arnold and Maggy were all great. The Las Vegas production shows were wonderful. We were amazed at the skill of the Elation dancers, particularly dancing with the rocking of the ship. You would never know they were on a moving ship. The singers were fabulous as well. All of the entertainment was good...there was always something going on in the Mikado Lounge, day and night. We didn't have time to go to the Casino. It was a bit smoky for us, so we didn't mind missing out. I don't think they missed us either, because it was always busy. I thought I would find the ship smokier, but I was surprised that it wasn't as bad as I had heard it might be. They do a pretty good job of keeping it ventilated. There was always food if you wanted it. The ice cream and the pizza were very good and always available. We didn't always time lunch or breakfast very well, so we ate whatever was available at the time. There was always some type of buffet going on and the outside grill was always going with hamburgers, hot dogs, salads, etc. There is so much to do on the ship, no excuse for being bored, that's for sure. We really need to go back so that we can do the things we didn't have time to do the first time. The Ports: Progresso - We took the tour to Chichen Itza, the Mayan Ruins. We booked it through the ship. It was amazing. This was my husbands favourite tour of the trip. Cozumel - We caught a cab and headed to a beach - Play Mia (I think). It was crowded, but beautiful. We decided not to take a tour but I think I would like to try the snorkeling next time. Belize - Cave Tubing - again booked through the ship. This was so much fun. You're tendered into Belize from the ship, then an hour long bus ride to the rain forest, where you're given an inner tube. Then a leisurely 35 minute walk through the rain forest before enjoying a wonderful ride down the river and through a cave. It was wonderful. We stopped for a delicious Belizian lunch at an outdoor restaurant on the way back. This was great fun. The weather was great every day. The day we left Galveston, it was raining off and on, but who cares, we were leaving it behind. It was a bit windy on deck one night, but other than that, it was glorious. We found all of the staff throughout the ship to be very friendly and helpful. They work long hours but always have a smile for you. I used the fitness facility 3 times. I found the room to be big enough, but quite warm, especially with the sun coming through the windows. There could be more treadmills. One was out of order, so that left 4. There was usually someone waiting for one when I went in. The equipment overall was in great condition. Debarkation was fairly easy, other than the line up to get off the ship. Some people were in a hurry to get off, but we weren't, so it wasn't stressful at all. I felt sorry for the staff who were fielding complaints about the debarkation process. Really, you have to remember there are 2500 people getting off the ship, so relax! It never ceases to amaze me how angry people can get over the smallest things. Our only complaint was that it ended too soon. Read Less
Sail Date February 2004
Ok, here are a few things you NEED to know when traveling this ship: 1. During embarkation, the earlier you get there the better. We showed up at 1:30 and did not make it on until close to five. I'm not sure, but I think it's ... Read More
Ok, here are a few things you NEED to know when traveling this ship: 1. During embarkation, the earlier you get there the better. We showed up at 1:30 and did not make it on until close to five. I'm not sure, but I think it's quicker to NOT fill out your Fun-Pass ahead of time. That line was much shorter, and seemed to move much faster. 2. During the muster drill (especially if you have children) wait until the last possible moment to go to your assigned meeting area, wait to put the life jacket on your children there and then as you go out to the lifeboats find the nearest open bench seat and sit there. Once all of the guests file in in front of you, take the vests off. (It doesn't hurt to have water or a snack for your children.) 3. If you drink and are trying to sneak liquor on board, do it in Texas and put it in your luggage. They were checking bags AND water bottles closely, especially at Progresso where it is VERY cheap. SPEAKING OF PROGRESSO -- many people who post hated it. Do this... don't book an excursion, go into town on the shuttle, grab a dollar Corona (3 for 2 bucks at the bar up the street from the statue by the beach) and sit on the beach. Play in the sand, then go eat at Sol Y Mar right there on the beach. The enchiladas are fantastic! Then go shopping and walk through town and take in a traditional Mexican city that is not yet a tourist trap -- Buy your handmade stuff here (you'll thank me once you get to Cozumel). 4. Cozumel--My best advice to you here is if you didn't book an excursion on the boat (I still advise not to, because you can do anything they have cheaper right off the boat) is to RENT A CAR. 25-50 bucks a day and you can drive all over the freakin Island! A cab ride costs $15 one way and it cost you each time you go to another beach. Snorkeling is great at Playa Corona and is not as crowded as Chankanaab (no dolphins though). If you saw what Playa Del Sol is like, Mr. Sanchez is right by it, it has the same amenities and no entrance fee. 5. Belize -- All right, here is where you might want to book an excursion, and here's why... the boat doesn't go to port, so you ride a tender into Belize City. IF YOU DID NOT BOOK AN EXCURSION ON THE BOAT, THE EARLIEST TENDER OFF IS AT 10:00. Carnival doesn't care if you booked something on your own and you miss it. If you don't care to spend the extra bucks, spend the bucks. Otherwise do this... if you want to go cave tubing don't book on the boat, wait the extra two hours and book in Belize City (they will be waiting for you). If you want a caye, book on the boat. If you want shark and ray alley, the better trip is a flight to San Pedro and a boat trip, snorkel or dive, but you won't get there until much later than the ship-booked boat trip that leaves straight from the ship (but you spend most of the time on a long boat ride to Ambergris Caye and the plane ride is much better). You can also book your trip on your own, then make sure you are in Cole Porter at 7:30 to get on the 1st tender then go to the assistant cruise director and tell them you have an 8:30 excursion you have to make and to please try and sneak you on with the cave tubing group (it's worth a shot). 4. Ship Food-- If you are a beef-lover, don't order it. The seafood is very good, and be sure you order more than one lobster on Monday night! Stick to Tiffany's or room service for breakfast, lunch and dinner in the dining room are good, but if you have early dining, it interferes with the sunset watching and some of the early shows. Room service sandwiches and wraps are a welcome break from the fancy food! 5. Get in on every free drawing and raffle you can, (this is especially true of the art auctions). Also, if you are in the market for art, the ship stuff really is a good deal, but go to the 1st auction and don't be afraid to buy it then, because the price goes up each time they sell a piece. 6. Camp Carnival is fantastic no matter what age your children are.  7. Have fun and enjoy your time at port and don't be in a hurry to get back on the ship (you'll be sick of it by Saturday night). Read Less
Sail Date March 2004
Our cruise dates were 3/14-3/21/04. It began with a great surprise as we had booked a 4A and were upgraded to 6D. Galveston was cool and rainy as we headed for the terminal. We had stayed the nt before at Hol Inn Express and they had free ... Read More
Our cruise dates were 3/14-3/21/04. It began with a great surprise as we had booked a 4A and were upgraded to 6D. Galveston was cool and rainy as we headed for the terminal. We had stayed the nt before at Hol Inn Express and they had free parking and a shuttle which took us to the ship and picked us up. That all worked out great and right on schedule. Embarkation was fairly easy (we did the funpass) and moved quickly. We arrived at the terminal at around noon and were on the ship eating before 1pm. The ship was absolutely beautiful. As you enter, you walk straight into the atrium which is very elegant and there is a piano bar playing music. Of course, we went quickly to our room which was also located on the entrance deck (Empress)to check it out. It was set up very nicely and I was happy to see how large the shower was. There was plenty of closet space, drawers and a vanity with a large mirror. There was a full length mirror on the back of the door. Since we were upgraded to the window room, we also had bathrobes to use. I was glad I brought a power strip as there is only 1 plug and it is not in the bathroom. My son was quite comfortable with the pull down bed (as we found him napping in it several afternoons). We had no problem with our twin beds staying together. As for the rest of the ship, we were happy with just about everything. The weather cleared up the next day, and remained wonderful the rest of the week. We only ate dinners in the dining room and they were all good. We ate breakfast and lunch at the buffet, or hamburgers on the lido by the pool and pizza. Our ship was full and the lines were never too long and moved quick. I don't think I've ever seen so much ice cream being eaten. We bought our son a soda card (well worth it). We mostly drank the free punch,lemonage,tea, orange juice,grapefruit juice, coffee and hot chocolate. Alcoholic drinks were expensive so we limited our purchases. Most mornings by the pool, bloody marys were $2.95 until noon and they were good. The daily "specials" were $6.95 and you could get a refill for $4.95 (you keep the glass). We didn't do any excursions as funds were limited, but we did find enough to do at the ports. In Cozumel, we rented a vehicle and drove around the island and stopped at a few beaches. One beach was free and had lounge chairs,umbrellas,a water trampoline,a climbing rock and kayaks and floats all free. I think it was Paradise Beach but I'm not sure..it was right next to San Francisco beach. I know this is long so I'll try to wrap it up. The only negatives I can point out is that on the ship, we did see the water stained hallway on the Upper deck but it was not in a main area, only the hall between rooms. We didn't see any other "problem" areas and found the ship to be very clean. Considering this was spring break and there were a lot of young kids/teens, I thought everything looked great. The buffet food did get a little boring, but it was our choice to eat there so often and it didn't slow us down as we all gained 10# during the cruise. The gala buffet looked magnificent. The shows were all good and we really enjoyed the comedians. Unfortunately, we did not win in the casino nor at bingo, but we had fun trying...no wait...I did win 325 nickles at once on a nickle slot. Got excited till I figured out it was only about $15. We met up with another family I had met through this message board and that was really nice. I hope they enjoyed the cruise as much as we did. If anyone has any specific questions, I'll be glad to answer if I can. I would recommend this cruise to anyone, especially families. Read Less
Sail Date March 2004
We just returned from our 7 day cruise aboard the Carnival Destiny. This was just our second cruise, the first being one year ago aboard the non-smoking Paradise. We flew into Houston Hobby Airport, which is about 20-30 minutes closer to ... Read More
We just returned from our 7 day cruise aboard the Carnival Destiny. This was just our second cruise, the first being one year ago aboard the non-smoking Paradise. We flew into Houston Hobby Airport, which is about 20-30 minutes closer to Galveston pier than Houston International. Instead of paying $66 R/T each for the Carnival shuttle (since there were 5 of us) we took a cab from the airport. You can catch a cab right outside baggage claim and it costs $70-$80 to get to the pier and the same to get back to the airport. The other option we found is a limousine service for $50 each, which is still cheaper than the shuttle and they will be waiting for you at the cruise terminal when you return so you don't have to stand in line for a cab. Having cruised on Elations sister ship, we found navigating the various deck levels and hallways easier as we were already familiar with the ship layout. As always, the food was wonderful and you certainly get spoiled being waited on daily for a week. Our cabin steward was great. Almost every time that we left the room, we returned to find that he had tidied it up, left fresh towels and filled our ice bucket. Before leaving we read some reviews where people talked about the dinner staff being rude to them, refusing if they ordered more than one entree, etc. We didn't experience anything like that. Every waiter/waitress that we dealt with (including our head waiter at dinner) seemed more than happy to fulfill our every request. They were jovial and fun to interact with. The first port, Progresso, was kind of a disappointment. We did go inland to visit some Mayan ruins which was interesting. Many people booked shore excursions for $50 apiece to the same ruins we went to. We got off the boat and there was a stand where they were selling shore excursions. We paid $12 each for the van ride and then paid $6 each to get in the ruins (ended up being less than $20 each). We didn't have a tour guide, but there are plaques on the ground that you can read as you go along explaining the various structures (in English). Our van driver waited right outside for us and was took us back to town when we were ready. Think about booking your own shore excursion on land if you want to save money. Many people went to the beach and were disappointed because it was not very clean or pretty. It was extremely windy at this stop. I'm not sure if it is always that way, or if we were just there on a bad day. I would suggest doing some kind of shore tour at this stop or just staying on the ship. There is a small shopping area right when you get off the ship that had better prices on souvenirs than Cozumel. Cozumel was beautiful. We took a cab for $6 downtown and walked around shopping some. The kids (ages 22, 25 & 26) did the Fiesta Party Boat. It cost them about $50 apiece and they had a great time. All the rum punch and shots you can handle (many had more than they could handle). The boat takes you to Playa Del Sol which is like a private beach with volleyball, a pool, a trampoline and climbing wall out in the ocean, etc. It seems like the shore tour to Playa Del Sol was about $40 per person so for just $10 more you get the party boat experience with it. In Belize we paid $90 each (pretty steep) for the cave tubing adventure. I thought is was kind of expensive, but no regrets. Our tour guides were great. It was a lot of fun, even if the water was cold. The bus ride was about 45 minutes. We spent about 1 hour or so in the water (80% in the cave/20% in the sun) and then stopped for lunch on the way back. There is a tourist mall of sorts right at the pier for a little shopping. Belize is beautiful. We spoke to many people who went snorkeling and had a great time. Overall, this cruise went very well. We got cabin upgrades that were unexpected. The weather, although windy was great. The service on-board was wonderful and the ship (except the carpeting in places) was very clean. I would have no reservations recommending this cruise to someone. The only difficulty we had was on the last day. We were supposed to be ready to go through customs at 7:30 and it was closer to 9:30 before it happened. This put us 10:30 or so getting off the ship which was kind of a bummer because we got up at 6:00 to make sure we were ready in time, only to wait around quite awhile. Then we stood in line over 30 minutes waiting for a cab to get back to the airport. We were a party of 5 with lots of luggage and needed a van which made it a little more difficult, but everyone was having to wait. I tried calling two different cab companies but they both told me all their cars/vans were dispatched and we would just have to wait. We got to Houston Hobby airport at 11:30, which was plenty of time for our 2:30 flight. Hope this information is helpful. Happy cruising! Read Less
Sail Date March 2004
We just returned from a great vacation on the Elation. I had read that this ship had been refurbished in Fall, 2003. It looked great to me. Not perfect. But MUCH better than my 2 previous cruise ships!!! I've never seen so many ... Read More
We just returned from a great vacation on the Elation. I had read that this ship had been refurbished in Fall, 2003. It looked great to me. Not perfect. But MUCH better than my 2 previous cruise ships!!! I've never seen so many smiling faces or been around so many friendly people. The staff acted like they were glad you were there. They were happy to see you. Our group did some Carnival sponsored shore excursions & went on our own for others. IF you take teens, remember that the legal drinking age in Mexico is 18. It seemed to me that if they appear even close to 18, they won't have any difficulty finding alcoholic drinks. The laws & rules about this seem to be pretty flexible. IF you send your teens on shore excursions, either GO WITH THEM OR send them with Carnival sponsored excursions. DO NOT LET THEM GO unsupervised. The potential combination of no parental supervision with easy access to alcohol could prove to be dangerous. The great thing about our port days were we were in port ONLY in the daytime & out to sea by nightfall. This was MUCH safer with teens, than having them in ports at night. Personally, I did one Carnival shore excursion, and went twice on my own. Also, I got a workout climbing all those steps. In addition, I took country line dance lessons (group) on the ship's stage. I hadn't danced in 20 years & had a great time. So, who cares if I messed up over and over; I was never going to see these people again, right? :) I also played trivia, famous faces, and Bingo. I saw some shows on the stage..they were great! I highly recommend this cruise to anyone wanting FUN! My husband said It's JUST LIKE THE COMMERCIAL! He didn't really wanted to go but had the time of his life! I think *MAYBE* he had MORE fun than I did! He spent nearly every waking moment in the casino. He loved it! He said that the Elation's jogging path was the nicest he had ever been on. All surfaces seemed very clean. I noticed the food servers wearing gloves, etc....One man's entire job seemed to be wiping down the beautiful glass surrounding the ship's atrium area....one day on the inside; the next day on the outside and so on and so on. The dining room dinners were very good, as was our waiter and bus boy. Loved them! We never went to the dining room for breakfast or lunch....just went to the buffet line...including the most DELICIOUS omelets I've EVER had.....cooked right in front of me by the most charming and handsome chef......Praboth! ( I think! ) Free ice cream & pizzeria 24/7; room service at no charge, just a tip. The $70 gratuity fee is now AUTOMATICALLY charged to your bill and then your charge card. You don't need to bring cash for this anymore. A can of Coke was about $1.50 + 15% tip added on. I think a 20 oz bottle of Coke was abour $2.25 + 15% tip added on. A water bottle was about $1.50 + 15% tip added on for a regular size. About $3 or so for a large bottle. The pop & water bottles in your cabin are NOT free. I am severely allergic to smoke. I cannot be around it...ever. The ONLY bad problem I ever had was when I walked near the casino. I could never enter it, as the smoke was horrible in there. Most public areas were smoke free. Some outdoor deck areas were designated smoking. I just never could distinguish where the non-smoking outdoor areas were. You can now call U.S. directly from your cabin for $6.99 per minute via satellite. That's right, PER MINUTE! I never could get my MEXICAN Wal-mart phone card to work from Mexico. Had to put the few calls I made on my charge card, from pay phones. Made one from Belize also. We used the internet.....briefly. It was fine. Unexpected: Cozumel had changed--tons since I was there 2 years ago. There is a very nice shopping area just off the ship. We didn't even go downtown. We took a cab $12 each way (total for 2 people) to Paradise Beach...entered for free. Since I only drank Pepsi instead of alcohol, I didn't get much attention from my waiter. Also, their employees could have spent a little more time cleaning up the beach. There were cig butts everywhere........The ocean kayaks & rubber float mats were free to use, as well as chairs with umbrellas over them. Also, there was a ROCK CLIMBING thing in the ocean for the kids to climb up on one side; slide down the other side. Also, a water trampoline. They had a great menu there, but we didn't eat. We originally had heard the San Francisco Beach was the best but our taxi driver suggested Paradise Beach. They were right next to each other anyway. Also, I believe that the Carnival sponsored Fiesta Party Boat (triple decker) was next to, just on the other side of Paradise Beach; I believe it was called Passion Island. Ours was a beautiful, sandy beach. DO NOT leave the ship without small bills. I had $20's & couldn't get ANYONE on shore in PROGRSSO to break it......even tried to buy a bottle of water, just so I could get the change. No luck. I had already spent my 1's, giving tips to the: Shuttle driver, lounge chair delivery person and 1st guitar playing-singer singing LaBamba. I would have spent so much more money & tipped even more, had someone just given me some change on shore. Wish I would have taken lots of small bills. Actually, after that happened, I went to the information desk & did break some $20's into nothing but ones; shared them with others in my group. The other port was Belize. Very nice. If you shop just off the ship, DO NOT BUY anything in the beautiful shops without prices on them, UNLESS they will bargain. The street vendors, a block away from the nice stores will bargain. Example: I went to one cute little shop; they had cute little ceramic Christmas trees for $10. I bought two, went a few doors down, they had them for $5.00. Also, at the first store, they had a paper map of Belize--no prices listed on them. I had picked one up; when the clerk told me $5.00, I put it back. A different store across the way had the same map for $2.00. Also, in the same beautiful shopping mall area, I entered a TSHIRT store. Nothing but tshirts. The guy told me theirs (NO PRICE TAGS ANYWHERE!) were $18. But he'd give it to me for $16. By the time I left, I bought 4 for $44.00. Another little gift shop refused to bargain...AT ALL. Price what you want, then shop around if you have the time & want to mess with it.......... The only obviously worn problem was the carpeting in the hallways. It had some stains, but didn't appear really bad and wasn't smelly. Everything else about the Elation's appearance was VERY GOOD! The cruise director & asst director, Larry & Cindy were EXCELLENT! All in all, this vacation was a DREAM & I would highly recommend this! We're already talking about when we can go AGAIN! :) Not soon enough for me! BEST WISHES ALWAYS!!!! :) Read Less
Sail Date March 2004
First off, I want to tell you all how I got an incredible price for this cruise. There is a website called cruisecompete.com where you can go and fill in a form detailing which ship, room category, and sailing you are interested in and ... Read More
First off, I want to tell you all how I got an incredible price for this cruise. There is a website called cruisecompete.com where you can go and fill in a form detailing which ship, room category, and sailing you are interested in and several cruise agents then come in and bid on your cruise, all trying to offer you the lowest price. I was thrilled with the friendly and prompt service that I received from them. We stayed at the Hotel Galvez the night before we left on our cruise (we sailed Sunday 3/28/04). If you are looking for a great place to stay the night preceding your cruise the Hotel Galvez is a great place to stay as they not only allow you to leave your car in their fenced-in parking lot for the duration of your cruise but they also shuttle you to and from the cruise terminal (we were also very impressed with our room). If you do decide to stay there, the way to get the best rate is to go to wyndham.com and book your room online as their internet room rate is cheaper than booking through Orbitz, Expedia or Travelocity, etc...). The Hotel Galvez shuttle dropped us off at the cruise terminal Sunday morning at 11:45 AM. We took our luggage over to the luggage drop-off area ourselves instead of paying a porter to do it as it was only about a 30 ft. walk from where the shuttle dropped us off. We only left our largest piece of luggage and carried the rest on ourselves. They allow you to carry on as much luggage as you want as long as it will fit through the scanner. When we got inside to check-in (11:55 AM) there were two different lines: the one for people who had already filled out their funpass online (do this at carnival.com) and the one for those who didn't. They tell you that check-in is faster if you fill out the funpass online beforehand because you get to go through the funpass line but when we got in there we immediately noticed that the funpass line was quite a bit longer than the other line so we got in the other line (even though we had the funpass). I guess the line length depends on how early or late you arrive as the lines were MUCH longer 20 minutes later. Anyway, we got through the non-funpass line quicker (about 25 min. ) than we would have if we had got in the funpass line. However, when we got to the check-in desk we did tell the clerk that we had did the funpass registration online and it did seem to help us get done faster. You'll want to make sure you already have your sign & sail info. filled out before you get up to the front (this is found in your ticket book). Your sign & sail card will serve as your room key, your ship ID (to get on and off in the ports) and your means of purchasing anything on the ship. Once we got through the check-in process it took another 10 minutes before we actually boarded the ship (around 12:30). You aren't allowed to go to your cabin until 1:00 as some of them are still being cleaned. Once you're on the ship you can go to Tiffany's to eat lunch. Tiffany's is on the Lido deck, it's the casual eating venue that is offered for those times when you don't feel like eating in the main dining room. Food is served buffet style at Tiffany's for every meal (breakfast, lunch and dinner). If you want to sleep late then you will most likely be eating breakfast at Tiffany's (served until about 11:30). The other option is to order breakfast via roomservice, it only costs you a tip to the delivery person. The food at Tiffany's is very comparable to cafeteria food. I'm not saying that it's bad, just that it's like what you'd get from Luby's or Golden Corral (which we thought was sometimes a welcome alternative to the "fancy" food served in the dining room). There is a also a 24-hour pizzeria on the Lido deck and the pizza is very good. The first thing we always do when we get onboard is to go find out what our dining room assignment is so we can immediately go the Maitre'd to get it changed if we desire to. The Maitre'd is available at 1:00 for this purpose. In this case we had been assigned to the dining room that was furthest from our cabin so we got the Maitre'd to move us to the other one. He was extremely nice and accommodating to our requests. The food in the dining rooms are a step (or two) above what is served at Tiffany's. Much of the food in the dining rooms are a little more upscale than what we normally eat (such as: beef Wellington, Cornish game hens, leg of lamb, lobster, prime rib, etc...). We enjoy this type of food from time to time but sometimes we preferred the more casual choices at Tiffany's. Tip: if you are dining in the main dining room and you don't see anything on the menu that appeals to you, they always have steak available, you just have to ask for it. Some nights I didn't want a salad so I just ordered two starters instead. I also ordered two desserts quite a few times (sometimes I would eat one there and order one to go for later). If you ever order something you don't like they are very willing and eager to get you something else. Overall I would say that we really enjoyed the food. The only thing that we personally don't care for is the dancing and singing performances that the waitstaff do after dinner some nights, but it seemed that some people really enjoyed it. As for the ship itself, it was nice. The atrium area is beautiful with glass elevators and marbled staircases. I didn't personally care for some of the dEcor though. For instance, the peacock-color themed walls in Tiffany's didn't do a thing for me. Everything seemed to be kept very clean though and there never seemed to be too many long lines anywhere. We had an outside room on the Empress deck (E179). It was a perfectly located room as it was near the stairs and elevators and our dining room was just one deck above so all we had to do was go up one flight of stairs and it was right there, or we could go up three flights and we'd be at Tiffany's. The room itself was a standard Carnival room with two twin beds pushed together to make one big bed. There is plenty of picture taking aboard and it is pretty expensive (by my book). The pictures taken on the formal nights are always offered initially in the form of 8X10's for $19.99 and you can't order smaller ones unless you first buy the big one. Shopping on the ship. If you want to buy a T-shirt on the ship (the ones with the ship name on it) my advice is to wait until Saturday as they reduce the price to 2 for $20. They also have sales on other stuff towards the end of the cruise. Ladies, if you are going to be cruising during your time of the month I would advise you to bring plenty of the needed items because they are very expensive on the ship. As for the shore excursions, we didn't do much. My husband snorkeled in Belize at Goff's cay. We didn't buy that shore excursion through the ship, we purchased it for $24 cheaper in Belize. The only advantage to buying it on the ship is that you can get off the ship earlier and your destination sooner if you have a shore excursion booked through them, otherwise you have to wait to get on a tender after 10 am or so and then go ashore and book one there. They have quite a little tourist shopping area built up right where the tenders dock. There are people waiting there with signs trying to get you signed up to go on one of the excursions. After his snorkeling adventure , the boat that took him to Goff's Cay took him (and some others that also hadn't booked through the ship) directly to the ship. Some of these shore excursions are better booked through the cruise ship but we know from our past cruises that many are quite a bit cheaper if you book after you get off the ship. For instance, the Atlantis submarine ride is cheaper if you book after you get to Cozumel (it's the same exact submarine you're just booking through the actual company instead of the cruise line). Before you consider booking elsewhere though my advice is to do your homework before you leave to go on your cruise and find out where and how much to book elsewhere and who's legitimate. Debarkation was like it usually is. Kind of slow, but it did seem seem to move at a steady pace. When we got off the ship we only had to wait about 5 minutes and the Galvez shuttle showed up and we were on our way. All in all I would say we had a great time and I can't wait to cruise again!! Read Less
Sail Date March 2004
This was our 2nd cruise but our first on Carnival. Embarking seemed to take long but we stood in line only about an hour. Not bad when you're getting close to 2000 people on board. People were friendly and helpful and we were ... Read More
This was our 2nd cruise but our first on Carnival. Embarking seemed to take long but we stood in line only about an hour. Not bad when you're getting close to 2000 people on board. People were friendly and helpful and we were putting our stuff in our room by 1:30. We booked a guaranteed oceanview room and we were assigned a nice room on the 7th floor facing the aft of the ship. The room and bathroom were nice size, beds were already made into queen size bed, and the room was clean. No complaints here. The food in the main dining room was better than I expected. My husband and I have simple dining tastes and anticipated menus that we didn't care for. There was a nice selection every day and we were able to find numerous items that pleased us. I requested 2 salads one night and they were promptly served. My husband would request 2 different desserts and they were served with a smile. Our waiter and his assistant were professional, but fun & friendly. We were seated with 2 other couples and totally enjoyed their company. We lucked out. The buffet was okay for breakfast but not much selection for lunch or dinner. The deli in the buffet was nice. They had corned beef, roast beef, pastrami, shaved turkey....nice put into a large roll or any type of breads you desired. We loved the deli. Desserts were fair at the buffet but terrific in the dining room. There were activities going on every day but I like to put my body on a lounge chair and read. There were activities for everyone and I can't see how anyone could be bored. The excursions we booked through the ship were good but they could have been organized a little better. We went to see Mayan ruins in both Progresso and Belize. It was worth the money. We like the idea that if you are late returning to the ship, the ship will wait if you are with your excursion group. In Cozumel we just walked around town. Prices are not that great in town. Best prices were at the little shops close to the pier/dock. These are the shops that they tell you to avoid while you are on board. The cruise shopper expert directs you to the best shops in town...yea...and they get a kickback when you shop there. Best prices were near the dock. The evening entertainment was fair. We're not hard to please so I enjoyed the shows but we heard other people say they were tired of seeing the Elation dancers. A few comedy acts, juggler, dancing. No complaints from us... We disembarked faster than I expected. After reading the reviews I expected to be on the ship still 10:00 AM. We were off the ship and in our parked car (Dolphin Parking) by 10:00 AM. I was impressed. No real complaints. I saw a few differences but nothing major. Our first cruise was on Royal Carrib. I noticed bags of dirty towels in the hallway until late in the afternoon. There were vac/sweepers in the halls and didn't seem to get put away. Dirty food trays were not picked up in front on cabin doors for hours. We would go back to the room to change for dinner and dirty breakfast trays were waiting to be picked up. Part of the trip is a state of mind. I enjoyed. I didn't look for fault. It was wonderful. Read Less
Sail Date April 2004
This was our first (and possibly last?) cruise onboard Carnival. Immediately upon boarding we were disappointed in the ship's decor. We found it both dark (even somewhat claustrophobic in the buffet room, Tiffany's), and gaudy. ... Read More
This was our first (and possibly last?) cruise onboard Carnival. Immediately upon boarding we were disappointed in the ship's decor. We found it both dark (even somewhat claustrophobic in the buffet room, Tiffany's), and gaudy. We were VERY frustrated with the layout of the ship, i.e., almost no matter where you are or where you want to go, you can't get there from here!. About the 5th day of our 7 day cruise, somebody finally keyed me in that the only public deck that goes the whole length of the ship is the 9th deck. So, if you are on the 6th deck aft, and you want to go to the 6th deck fore, you must go up to the 9th deck, across, and back down again. Some elevators go to some floors, but not others, etc. Very confusing and frustrating. I will definitely never sail this ship again for this reason if for no other. Now as for our cabin, it was a little larger than the cabins we've had before (we've only sailed the Royal Caribbean Rhapsody of the Seas before), and the shower was definitely larger (very nice). However, the layout of the cabin (OV) was very awkward. In order to have the two beds put together as one, they had to be shoved up against the wall so that somebody always had to crawl across the bed to get in or out. There was also not enough seating in the cabin, only one stool for the vanity and one small armchair. If we both wanted to sit to watch tv or read, somebody was going to be either on the stool or the bed, either way, uncomfortable. There was definitely more storage space in this cabin than in our OV on the Rhapsody. There is a small cube in the corner where they store the life vests, but there is plenty of room remaining in it where we stored some of our bags and the rest were able to fit under the bed. There is one open closet and one closed, along with shelves the entire height of the closet, then also the vanity drawers. We were frustrated with the safe, however, as rather than having a password, you had to open and close it with your Sail & Sign card, but only the card which locked the safe could open it, so it wasn't easily accessible to both of us (if my husband locked it, I couldn't unlock it). I believe the quality, preparation, and tastiness of the food was somewhat better than on the Rhapsody. Tiffany's (buffet) did not have as much variety as the Windjammer does on Rhapsody. Also, there are two different buffet lines serving different items, then a separate salad bar, then a drink station, with no trays on which to carry your meal. We found that to be difficult and frustrating. Silverware was rolled in napkins and placed on the table, however, if you wanted a clean fork for your dessert, you had to take another set of silverware from another table. We would have preferred to have had silverware available to be picked up in the buffet lines, or at least at the dessert station. We found the staff that we had a "relationship" with, i.e., cabin steward and waiters, to have provided very good service, to be very friendly, etc. However, there were many times when I crossed path with other staff in various places when I had to move out of their way. For instance, one night even as we were entering the dining room, several women not dressed in uniform but wearing crew name tags, cut right in front of us and to enter the dining room. I don't believe they ever even realized there were other people there. Other times just walking in hallways, etc., staff didn't greet and make room for passengers as they do on Rhapsody. We frequently overheard disgruntled crew talking to each other with no regard for passengers being nearby, and once even became involved in conversation with some of them. As for entertainment, we found the "Fun Ship" to not be very much fun. I hate to keep comparing to Rhapsody, but it is my only point of reference. On Rhapsody, there were always several things going on and I had a difficult time choosing what I wanted to do--partly why I sailed her twice, in order to do the other things I missed the first time. On Elation, we had a difficult time finding something to do. There were many hours with nothing going on. We finally broke down and played Scrabble once, and I saw many other people playing dominoes, card games, Monopoly, putting together puzzles, etc. We didn't find what entertainment that was offered to be very entertaining, (or even find the cruise director to be very entertaining), but then that is a matter of hit and miss, and also a very subjective thing. We did enjoy the itinerary and ports of call. I would have to say that was the highlights of the cruise. At Progresso, we took the Merida City tour and were very impressed with Merida. It is a very nice, clean city with a lot of great architecture. We would consider returning to Merida for a long weekend, etc. What can I say about Cozumel---we love it. We hired a private guide to take a tour of the city from a local's viewpoint and enjoyed it greatly. At Belize City, we didn't go to town. We took a snorkeling expedition to Goff's Caye (pronounced key), which is a very small island (about 5 palm trees), on the reef. At the time we went we didn't get to see very many fish (although a later excursion to the same spot did), however, the coral formations there were huge and quite fantastic. This is my first review, so I hope I've covered everything. Overall, we were very disappointed in this ship. We may try Carnival again sometime, but we definitely won't sail the Elation again. Read Less
Sail Date April 2004
Intro - This is a review of our trip on the Carnival Cruise Ship Elation from 11 April to 18 April also known as the Easter Cruise. My wife Jennifer and I have been on four other cruises, two of those were also on Carnival Ships ... Read More
Intro - This is a review of our trip on the Carnival Cruise Ship Elation from 11 April to 18 April also known as the Easter Cruise. My wife Jennifer and I have been on four other cruises, two of those were also on Carnival Ships (Jubilee, Triumph). The reason I write a review is so I can briefly relive the cruise and so that my family and friends can see what we did during our cruise. This review is based on my opinion and that's not to say that every one of the 2200+ people also on board had the same GREAT TIME that we did. If you have any questions, please email me at larryorvis@hotmail.com EARLY MORNING DEPARTURE - On 11 April, Departure Day, we had a 630 flight from St Louis, Missouri so that meant we were up long before that to drive there, nearly 2 hours. We had previously always flown in the day prior, but due to work constraints it was not possible this time. We arrived at the airport and had coordinated for Extreme Elegance (a limo company in Houston) to pick us up and transport us to the Port. Extreme Elegance did a good job on THIS end of the transportation; we were at the Port in no time at all. More on Extreme Elegance's performance on the last day of the cruise. EMBARKATION - For us, embarkation was extremely smooth. Due to our early flight, we were at the terminal by 1015 and were the first ones there. They don't start doing anything til 1100, so we had some time to relax in the terminal. As soon as 1100 hit, we were walking through security and right to the FunPass Check In Counter. A few minutes later, we were directed to have a seat in the 'waiting to board' area. They weren't going to board til noon, so had some more time to relax in the terminal. By about 1130, there were a few hundred people in the terminal and it was starting to get busy, but it was an organized busy. At noon, we boarded. The neat thing I liked about that was, they boarded you in order of when you got there, so since we were early, we boarded nearly first. By 1215, we were on the Lido Deck having a Burger and some Fries. ROOM SERVICE We took advantage of Room Service plenty of times, mainly after the shows, right before bed. They always said it would take about 40 minutes, but there was always a knock on my door in about 5 minutes. Great room service menu. OUR CABIN - Empress Deck 229 We had an ocean view cabin on the Empress Deck. Very clean cabin, beds were comfortable and our Cabin Steward - Widonna - was great. Everytime we stepped out of the room, he seemed to pop in the room, and make the beds, clean the room, and leave us another towel animal. FOOD We ate in the dining room for all but one of the Dinner Meals. I thought the food was really good. And the service was good also. The 24 hour Pizzeria was great and very popular. The breakfast and the lunch buffets on the Lido Deck were always fast and very little lines. The food in Tiffany's Restaurant was really good. They have the buffet lines with an assortment of food and they also make fresh sandwiches and salads. At night time, they have an variety of snacks, including crepes (mmm). And of course they have the 24 hour ice cream machines..... GYM The SPA/GYM was pretty good. Lots of weight equipment and plenty of treadmills. They also have a running track on the top deck of the ship. The good thing about the Gym is it owns the only 2 hot tubs that the kids couldn't get too. Very peaceful Hot Tub, with a huge skylight. OVERALL CONDITION OF THE SHIP I think the ship looks great. Nothing stood out as in need of repair or painting. As usual, maintenance is always ongoing as with painting. But the ship looks great and is in top condition. SHOWS We attended all the shows, with exception of the midnight comedy shows. The Elation Dancers and Singers did a good job. We enjoyed all the shows. "LUBO" the balancer was great, balanced all kinds of things, and unfortunately for him it was the rockiest day we were traveling. He was balancing all sorts of things, with the ship rocking back and forth. He was good. The comedians on board were all pretty funny. Even the cruise director Larry Garlutzo did some singing. Overall some great entertainment! The Mikado Lounge was always crowded, but we always able to get a good seat if we went to get a seat about 10 minutes prior to the start of the show. ACTIVITIES Nonstop activities. Each night we would look at the Carnival Capers and highlight what we wanted to do the next day. I'd say on average, we actually only did about half of what we highlighted; mainly because we became involved in something else going on. We took some golf lessons, played some trivia games, played some Bingo, took some tours of the ship and enjoyed the sun. KIDS Let's not fool ourselves, the kids run the ship. It didn't bother us, some people were pretty annoyed about this on our trip. We think it's okay to get into an elevator with 3 or 4 kids (8 or 9 yrs old) who are running the elevator, all you do is tell them where you want to go and they'll get you to the right floor. That's harmless. The kids were always doing activities around the ship. Yes kids are loud and they do run down the hallway. The kids own the pools and hot tubs. We just don't see the problem with it. ART AUCTIONS I had previously been to some of the art auctions on board, mainly because of the free champagne and its fun to watch some folks bid and spend lots of money. Same thing for this cruise, free champagne and it was fun to watch folks bid and outbid. Except this time, one thing was different - I looked to my right and it was my wife bidding and outbidding............. ? Needless to say we came home with a few pieces of art. PORTS OF CALL / EXCURSIONS - PROGRESO, Mexico - This port is very underdeveloped. But I do see great potential. I think if they add a couple of water activities to their excursion list, it will be a hit. Right now, the biggest reason for going here is the ruins. LOTS of folks went on tours to the ruins and from what I heard, they loved them. Jen and I decided not to take a tour at this port. Instead, we went into Progresso, shopped a little and then took the city bus to Merida, which is a large city about 15 miles away. We stayed in Merida no longer than an hour, went to an old church and that was about it. We were back on board by about 1pm. Which was fine also. COZUMEL, Mexico - Cozumel started out on a bad note, Larry Garlutzo announced that nearly all water excursions had been cancelled to due wind and rough seas.... You could hear the unhappiness throughout the ship. We had booked the Powerboat and Hideaway Beach Excursion. We walked to the shore excursion desk, which had atleast 100 people in line trying to change excursions, so not wanting to wait, we grabbed our snorkel gear, caught a taxi and headed to Chankanaab Park. We'd been there before and knew that they had plenty to do there. $10 for the cab and $12 for the entry fee. The seas were pretty rough alright. But by 10am, they had settled enough for the 'red flag' to be lowered and the 'yellow flag' to be raised. Snorkelers slowly ventured into the water and before you know it, there were lots of snorkelers out there. Jen and I decided to go for a dive. $35 and we were under the water. A few things to see there, only about 25 feet deep though. We went into the caves and saw some huge fish! A very good dive. At about 1pm, we decided to head back to the ship, change clothes and then do some shopping. We arrived back at the ship about 1:30 and found that all the excursions had been given permission to go ahead now. So I quickly found our Powerboat point of contact and before you know it, we were on the way to our excursion. Powerboat and Hideaway Beach excursion is supposed to have you drive your own boat (two seater) about an hour to a private beach do some beach activities and then drive your own boat back. Well due to the rough seas, we couldn't get to the private beach, so instead we just drove the boat in the local area for an hour or so. That was awesome, the seas were 4-6 foot rolling waves, so that made for some fun boating. We went airborne several times. AWESOME! After that we had some of the Mexican Buffet that they had set up for us, good food. And then to top that off, we went sailing and we learned how to Jib and Jive. That was fun too! Back to the ship by 5:30 and on our way to Belize at 6pm. BELIZE CITY, Belize - Belize was a tendered port, so we opted for the ship excursion again. This time we went diving. We did 2 dives at Turneffe Atoll. A great wall dive. Saw lots of sea life, including a huge Southern Ray, his wingspan was atleast 10 feet. Dove to a depth of 70 feet on the first dive and about 60 feet on the second dive. GREAT Dives! When we got back to the ship we hurriedly jumped on a tender for Belize City and did a little shopping before heading back to the ship. DEBARKATION - Debarkation was a breeze. On Saturday, I went to the Purser's to get some "early off the ship" luggage tags (Orange), because we had an early flight from Houston (1:10pm). We put our luggage out in the hall just before going to sleep on Saturday night. On Sunday morning, we docked about 6am and we woke up about 7am. Our luggage tag color was called about 7:30 to go to the Cole Porter Lounge for immigration, which took a few minutes to wait in line and then show the Immigration Officials our proof of citizenship. Then we went to the Dining Room to have breakfast. We finished breakfast about 8:30am, took a quick last walk around the ship and just before 9am, they called our color and off the ship we were. Getting our luggage and clearing Customs was very easy. By 9am we were on the curb waiting for our ride from Extreme Elegance. Unfortunately their philosophy was first come first serve, regardless of reservations. So needless to say, they left with out us. This is our third time out of Galveston, so we expected the madness at the Galveston port. After some scrambling to get a ride to the airport, we made it in time for our flight. BUT I recommend that you do not use Extreme Elegance Limo Services. In CONCLUSION - We absolutely had a great time. The price for this cruise was perfect and due to the prices dropping after we booked, we got an upgrade. The ship is in top condition and the staff was always friendly and courteous. I wouldn't hesitate to book this cruise again. Read Less
Sail Date April 2004
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