This trip was my 2nd cruise with Carnival, the first was Ecstasy in January 2005. My daughters and I take an annual girls trip and this was our 11th year, so we wanted to do something special and include the grandchildren 6 & 9, and have everyone be able to enjoy the trip. This fit the bill, somewhat. The pros for cruising on family vacation were no driving around looking for something to do, everyone safe, food included, etc.
the terminal in Galveston was fine, no real issues, long lines. We got there around 11, and were on the boat by 12:30. The review about the kids doing t-shirts early the first day is no longer accurate. The buffet was ok, lines were long.
Room was ready by 1, luggage in room around 4. Halls stink like sewer and rat pee in areas. Shower in my daughters room overflowed out the floor drain daily. Room steward looked tired and wore out, shpe wasnt friendly or unfriendly, just there. We had rooms 2383 and 2385. They were not overly clean or dirty. Outdated coloring, but big enough and enough closet and drawer space for our belongings.
LIST ITEMS: we loved the idea of the clear shoe rack over the bathroom door. Used it and will keep the idea at home.
We were the only decorated door on the ship, that idea is outdated. I did hang raffia ribbon on both doors, which helped us see our rooms easily when coming down the hall, I had the kids color pictures for the door. Vandals tore one down the first night.
We did not need or use clothespins, (shower curtain was plenty long enough) did not need power strip.
We used the hilighter, that was helpful on the daily tear off list of activities. I brought aromatherapy, eye cover, ear plugs and used them all. There were plenty of hangers. Our luggage went in the closet, there was no room under the bed.
There were no toiletries or anything, just an empty bowl on the vanity. There was shampoo and body wash in the shower dispenser.
The only thing you really need to bring is makeup and toiletries if you use them daily and clothes. Everything else is overkill.
We brought 2 bottles of wine, a bubba mug, 3 big plastic cups, smuggled Bacardi and Captain Morgan, 12 pk soda and water, and nuts for snacks. We never opened the wine, only used the bubba mug, and drank a small amount of rum. We would not bring the alcohol again, at least not the wine or much rum. We had to tote it back home. We brought a small rolling ice chest and the room steward kept it full of ice for our water and soda. That was nice and we will do it again.
Internet was SLOW and expensive. It took about 5 minutes of time to log in. We bought 45 minutes for 29.95 and 120 minutes for $59.95. We made a few $1.99 a minute phone calls, and a few bad connection SKYPE calls thru wifi, both with the carnival internet and free wifi in Progresso and Cozumel.
We had hanging carriers for our cards, but would recommend a hole punch and lanyard or the kind with a card pocket so that it is easy to get your card out. The casino lanyards and punch were impossible to obtain. We tried and asked twice. Casino also requires a minimum of $10 to use your card in slot machines. I put $10 cash in Texas Tea and won $110 and took the cash and never looked back!
CAMP CARNIVAL: glorified babysitters. Long lines, LONG LONG lines. Disorganized. It didnt open until late on the first night, lines were about 30 minutes for dropoff and pickup each time. It was never in the same place, so you were running all over the ship at dropoff and pickup times. Also, they are only there a couple of hours at a time. Drop off 10 am, pick up by 12:45, drop off 4, pick up 6. Drop off 7, pick up 9:45. Night owls was $6.75 per hour plus 15%, per child. The kids were pretty bored some of the time. We spied on them a few times and they were all just sitting around, other times they were just playing video games. We were glad to have it, but it was inconvenient and awkward and disorganized. T-shirts were the last night but they only had markers for 30 minutes and some didnt work, so the shirts were not finished. Dirty words were written on my 6 year olds shirt. The parties and celebrations were seperate and $15 per child. The workers did not seem to be happy to be with children, everyone seemed tired and overworked. By the time you waited 30 minutes to drop them off, they got in at 10:30, and you had to be back by 12:30 for the 12:45 pickup, so it actually took you 3 hours for them to be in the program 2 hours. Only one employee chevking them in and out by hand writing them on a list is the reason it took so long. Also, they allow children 9 years old to check themselves in and out whenever they want, without a parent present, which I think is crazy.
TIP: Do not book the spa in advance. Watch out for out and out LIES disguised as sales pitches. This was my worst experience and I would Never do it again. First, I paid $149 in advance for a 50 minute hot stone massage. They are on special with added time and services from the minute you board, so everyone there got a better deal than me. There are no robes! There is a sauna and steam room, I think I was the only person who used either the whole cruise. I read that some use the showers here, instead of their cabin showers. They are bigger, but the whole area is awkward and uncomfortable. I own a spa myself and always use spa facilities when I travel to compare and learn. I was shocked at the lavk of professionalism and sales pressure. Did I mention an open locker room, steam and sauna, but no robes? I had to undress, wrap in a towel for sauna/steam, shower and redress before my massage, then sit in the hair salon waiting for my therapist. My appt was at 3:15. At 3:20 she picked me up and brought me to an 8x10 HOT room that had a shower used as a linen closet, sink and cabinet, massage table and therapist chair, roasting pan with stones in metal strainers on a rolling cabinet, so there were mere inches around the table for her to try to work. She left me to undress and lay on the table that was lined with rough towels instead of sheets. She returned about 7 or 8 minutes later, so it was now 3:30 when we discussed my issues (back and foot pain). She then used a small palm brush and dry brushed my body. Probably 7 or 8 minutes per side, extremities and back. At around 3:45 she began the massage. Light pressure, no extra time in my problem areas. I was sweating and miserable by this time and uncovered my feet to try to cool off. People were laughing and talking in the hall outside the door and banging and slamming doors in the adjoining rooms, also, the massage rooms were located under the childrens basketball courts. I asked about the noise, she asked if I wanted to continue my service, I did. The massage lasted about 17 or 18 minutes, then she left the room for me to get dressed, and asked me to sit on the table when dressed, and wait. She came back with two products and a sales pitch. I am a Traditional Naturopath and am well educated on products and procedures. i was SHOCKED at the medical claims that she (and the others in the gym and spa) made. I told her I was not going to buy anything and she got mad and dropped everything, handed me the receipt to sign. I told her I had prepaid, she said she knew that, this was for the tip, handed me a pen, took it and left. I was out and in the lobby by 4:12. So I paid $171 for an 18 minute massage. Then I was alerted that my cash deposit was depleted when my daughter was trying to order a soda. I knew there was an issue and
I pshould have had plenty of money left. I went to Guest Services and turns out the SPA DOUBLE CHARGED me. I brought them my receipt and the spa cashier said it would come off at the end of the trip. I said that was crap, that I had paid by credit card, it was PAID, and that their policy was holding funds that were not theirs to hold and that it was not right for my kid to not even be able to buy a coke because they were making unauthorized charges. I was getting slightly louder and 2 more spa attendants came and called acvounting and had it removed, then she handed me mpy card back and said "here, now your kid can buy a coke" in a sarcastic manner. I did not appreciate being treated like I was the one doing something wrong. It will never happen again. I will not pay them to try to sell me products under false pretenses and charge me twice. Spa is a ripoff.
Elevators are slow and about 20% did not function.
Mini golf was fun. Pools and Dive-in movie were fun. Water slide was fun. Comedy show was not politically correct by any means, more of just shocking use of vulgar words. Family oriented was better night. Karaoke was fun to watch but the guy who put it on was a jerk and criticized participants. Trivia games were fun.
FOOD: main dining room was good and we enjoyed it. We had London Early. Food was not impressive and kinda cheap, mostly same as buffet, just served nicer. Service was great, entertainment was fun. We looked forward to dinner each day and only skipped one night. Buffet was sooo busy, same food from both sides, but good and easy, not large, but big enough. Guys Burger Joint was awesome. There were toppings for the burgers, grilled onions, mushrooms, bacon, etc. lines moved fast. Mexican station was good, tacos and burritos and a salsa bar. These two were open a few hours a day. There was an asian station open sometimes by the buffet, it was an omelette station in the am. They had noodles, rice and chicken and beef and wontons. The Pizza was awesome, thin crust, 5 varieties, tasted like brick oven. Ice cream stations were good, usually one area closed down early each night. Breakfast in Paris dining room was good, same stuff as buffet, presented better, less waiting. We enjoyed it. There is so much hype about the free room service, it is just sandwiches, cold or hot. No breakfast or anything interesting. We ordered once, sandwiches were ok.
PHOTOGRAPHERS will drive you crazy. They clog the halls, interrupt your meals and delay all lines while embarking and debarking, then want $13.99 per print, $17.99 for 6 x9, and up. We actually took pictures of our pictures, then trashed the pictures.
Beer runs $6.50 plus 15% and they still expect an additional tip, so they generally run $8 each. $30 for a discounted bucket of 4. They advertise drink specials like $7.95 for a refillable monkey coconut, turns out thats empty, so my daughter ordered 2 with daquiris, and it was $12.95 each for the drinks, plus the cups, so it was $40 for 2 8 oz drinks. They are watered down bad. I drink Bacardi when I drink alcohol and have for many years. I ordered it during the comedy show and it was not real Bacardi and I do mot like to be deceived. It is disrespectful and a reputable facility would not do that.
Progresso was not for us. The guy in front of us puked in the walkway of the shuttle bus the entire ride back and really freaked my granddaughter out! Lol. The bus station is a mile or so away from the beach and you have to walk through dozens of sellers hawking their wares right in your face. It was hot and scary and did not feel safe.we did not stay long and left. I was stung under my foot by a yellow javket and my grandson on the arm, at the terminal. The port itself was nice and clean. There is free internet at the bus terminal, but not at the port. There is no place to buy a charger, dont forget yours! Lol.
Cozumel or Port of Maya, actually was clean and fun and a lot more expensive. My daughter looked at tequila in Progresso for $18, the same was $29 in Cozumel. It was $30 fopr 1 Corona Light, 2 virgin daiquiris, 1 dr pepper and a margarita, and chips, pico and queso at Fat Tuesday, but they have free internet.
We took a cab to PARADISE BEACH, it was $25 each way and took about 12 minutes. They met us as we walked in and charged $3 per person to walk to the beach, and required $10 purchase at the bar per person, so it was another $65 for 5 of us. They have jumps and things in the water and charge another $15 per person to use them. The beach was about like Galveston. The water was nasty. I did not even get in. There were rocks and drop offs. The beach was clean where the lounge chairs and umbrellas were. They rented out goggles and such and had 2 nice pools, rest rooms and a gift shop.
The seas were a little rough on the way back, and we got no sleep on the last night due to the banging of luggage in the middle of the night.
Bingo was $30 per person, my daughters played but did not win.
We saw part of the magic show, it was ok.
We missed the newlywed show but saw it on TV...it was FUNNY!
The ART AUCTION was another misrepresentation (LIE). I went in with eyes wide oen and was there for the free artwork that was promised in the flyer. We asked in advance how long it would take and were told an hour. It started at 1, we wanted to go to the Newlywed show apt 2:15 and needed to pick the kids up at 2:45. We signed up and waited for the doors to open at 1. At 2:15 he was still going strong, telling people that they could be smart investors and collectors and selling PRINTS for tens of thousands of dollars, convincing people drunk on champagne that they could leave a valuable inheritance with these "up and coming artists and art that was copied by other artists in the original artists studio" they were selling the Thomas Kinkaid PRINTS that you can get at the mall for $150 for $7500 and these people were buying them! At 2:30 we had been at the 1 hour presentation for 2 1/2 hours and one of my daughters had to leave to get the children. When it was over at 3:15, we asked for the promised free art and were told we would have to go back to the gallery that night, which we did. He reluctantly gave me 2 of the $5 prints and I remined him there were 3 of us so he handed me another without even looking at me. Park West was sued a few years ago for making the claims that I saw them still making. Sad situation that they take advantage of people that way.
Also, the gym/spa advertised a $500 prize in spa services, ( not up-to) you had to be present to win. We went back for another 30 minutes of sales pushes, they gave a few small prizes, there was no $500 prize given, another lie.
All in all, we enjoyed our cruise, it did not meet our expectations, but was not a disappointment, either. We will cruise again, but will try to find a better ship.