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20 Galveston to Europe - Western Mediterranean Cruise Reviews

The wife finally talked me into taking a cruise and I'm glad she did. I insisted on a balcony room and she was glad I did. The ship is very nice and there is plenty to do and see, but I spent most of my time aboard in the casino. Most ... Read More
The wife finally talked me into taking a cruise and I'm glad she did. I insisted on a balcony room and she was glad I did. The ship is very nice and there is plenty to do and see, but I spent most of my time aboard in the casino. Most of the staff were very cordial and helpful. There's plenty to eat and a good variety but most it is average, even in the large dining rooms. On the down side, Guy's Burgers were overcooked and the pizza was terrible. We had our first two evening meals in the Paris restaurant. Service, like the food, was average. The waitstaff we had, had that "it's a job" attitude and the waiter at our second evening meal was even rude a couple of times. We informed guest services. After that, I preferred eating at the buffet. Whatever your choice of food, it's all you can eat and we liked that. First port of call was Progreso. We had booked a half day bay fishing trip with a guide not associated with Carnival. The guide, Randy Bowser, was great and the area we fished was beautiful. We caught eight nice speckled trout using top water popping lures. We gave six to the first mate and took the two largest to a restaurant on the shore who cooked them for a small fee. Whole deep fried one was overcooked. Filleted one broiled with lemon butter served on rice with sauteed veggies. Delicious! Before they served the fish, they brought a variety platter of tapas that covered the square table, and it was FREE! Most of it was very good. We had a great day. Second port of call was Cozumel. The water there is a beautiful crystal clear blue. We had booked a trip to Isla Pasion via a speed boat. Awesome! When we got to the island, the boat driver, Jimmy, did a half dozen three-sixties. We got soaked but it was a blast. The next three and a half hours on the island we spent swimming, kayaking and collecting shells and coral. The open bar was nice and the buffet food was very good. On the trip back to port, Jimmy treated us to some more three-sixties but this time we made sure to sit up front. Another great day. It was my first cruise but it definitely won't be my last. Highly recommended! Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
I was skeptical to take another cruise out of Galveston with Carnival. My last cruise on the Ecstasy was five nights with stops in Progreso and Cozumel in June of 2008. On that cruise, I had an obstructed ocean view and felt like a ... Read More
I was skeptical to take another cruise out of Galveston with Carnival. My last cruise on the Ecstasy was five nights with stops in Progreso and Cozumel in June of 2008. On that cruise, I had an obstructed ocean view and felt like a stranger in a strange land. I’m not Texan. I don’t like country music. I have no tolerance for children running around in my vicinity. I don’t even like frozen sweet tropical drinks or mass-produced American beers. This August my in-laws invited my spouse and me to join them for a 7 night cruise on the Carnival Magic in mid November. They are in their late Seventies. This was an invitation I couldn’t pass up. Spending time with parents is a limited commodity as we get older. I did a lot of research mostly at Cruise Critic to find out how to maximize the potential with what could have been a disastrously disappointing experience. It completely paid off. This cruise converted me to a Carnival aficionado, and now I’ve caught the cruise bug. My experience on the Magic for the Eastern Caribbean itinerary wasn’t only incredibly luxurious, despite some minor nits, it was ‘magical.’ The Ship This liner is very large, accommodating nearly 3700 passengers with 15 decks. However, the common areas where I found myself were never overcrowded. The décor of the ship is sort of an Eighties rainbow tropical mash up. It’s a little Vegas, but not in bad taste. The strobing lights in the lobby, hallways, and Ocean plaza were pretty. There are so many areas to explore, I was discovering new venues even on the last day. Deck 5 has a wide Lanai which circles the entire ship--a fabulous opportunity for some walking exercise and some sea spray. I found myself meeting others in the Ocean plaza on deck five for trivia games. This was the same venue for live entertainment at other times on the ship. It opens onto a special zone on the Lanai, which was one of the few areas of the ship where smokers were welcome. An occasional waft of smoke was the price to pay if one sits here because the automatic doors open often to the outside of the ship. As for smoking in general, the ship was very clean. However, it is allowed in the casino, which is unavoidable, since it takes up the entire midship of the promenade, deck 5. Frankly, the casino stunk of cigarette smoke. I’m not much for gambling, but there was a Carnival Player’s Club event for my cruise which had the casino buzzing with a lot of activity. I hear the odds are very bad at sea relative to land casinos, but someone won $2500 and a free cruise there. The sports deck on 12 had a lot of family activity toward the aft of the ship with a full sized basketball court, mini golf, foosball, ping pong, outdoor exercise equipment, the ropes course (which looked fun but never got the chance to try), and the waterworks area with two different large water slides, a big soaker bucket and two smaller slides. I never lounged around the two pools on deck 10, the Lido, where the majority of activity was centered. There were always chairs available, but the area was too crowded for me. I noticed one in the aft pool one morning all by herself. Mornings might be the best time to avoid crowds for taking a dip. The hot tubs tended to be bustling with groups of 4 to 6 sipping frozen tropical drinks and buckets of beer. There are 8 public hot tubs on the ship: two in the adults-only Serenity area, two on the Lido at the aft pool, and 4 on the Lanai around the ship. I suspect that the Lanai hot tubs were used less frequently because they were a little out of the way of most ship cruiser traffic. However, I was happy with my Thalassotherapy spa where it was always quieter. One night I saw a couple drinking beer in the spa hot tub. I was surprised that the Spa attendants didn’t say anything. I’d liken this behavior to smoking weed during yoga—gauche. The Serenity area is large, with aqua cushions on chaises, round loungers big enough for two, hammocks, and shaded seating. There was also a separate bar with seats for about 12. A waiter strolled the area to take drink orders. This was my deck hang out. Our weather was overcast with quite a bit of overnight rain, and Serenity was practically deserted. There were also a couple of smaller areas on the Sun Deck one deck below just aft of the Serenity flanking the Waterworks which had comfy chairs and great sea views. Faster To The Fun A $49 upgrade from the base fare per cabin gave us some premium level benefits only otherwise afforded to Platinum and Diamond cruisers with 10+ cruises on Carnival. If you can snag one of these, offered as an excursion, I couldn’t recommend them enough. It starts with special luggage tags that cue the embarkation port attendants to expedite your luggage to your room. They asked us to march straight to the front of the line where they had separate embarkation agents checking our IDs and medical affidavits before we got our Sign and Sail cards. FTF does not give you access to the premium lounge, however. We were considered priority boarding and got on in this order: wedding parties, diamond, platinum VIFP groups, suites, Carnival Players Club, FTF, then in the numbered boarding groups by zone. From luggage drop off to boarding was about 30 minutes, as we arrived around 10:30A. Upon boarding, our cabins were already cleaned and ready for us to drop off our carry-ons. We had finished lunch before more than half of the people had boarded. By the time we were done with lunch, our luggage was in our rooms. We were first to debark as well, after the self-service cruisers who carried all of their luggage. FTF gives you access to a separate window with no line and priority attention at guest services which I used to quickly clear up a question about my account and get the tender for in Belize. I’m not sure, but it may have helped with my specialty dining reservations and request for Any Time Dining. In any case, it helped to avoid many more lines, which do not please me. The Spa The Cloud 9 spa is actually on two decks, the fitness center, locker room and saunas on 12, and with thermal suites and treatment rooms on 14. I loved the proximity to the gym from the balcony on 11. I could take a private elevator between 11 and all the way up to the Serenity deck on 15. I spent multiple mornings on the LifeFitness elliptical trainer gazing out to sea. Spa amenities also gave me two free yoga / Pilates classes which were not absolutely conveniently timed, but I did make one yoga class. There were 5 of us in that class led by an enthusiastic Aussie Kevin who was great. I also went to a fee-based ($15) spin class with Kevin (only three people in that class!) and burned serious calories as well as learned a few tricks to take back to the gym at home for spinning. On port days, the ship offers free morning stretch classes for all cruisers. I participated in a couple of those as well. They were more like Yoga-lite and perfectly adequate. There were never more than 6 people in these classes. Fitness wise, it was like we had private lessons. The thermal suites are a little piece of heaven! Don your bathing suit, put on your upgraded Cloud 9 bathrobe, and if you’re like me, try to stuff your size 13 foot into a size 8 slipper (they’re too small!), and take a trip to Nirvana. The medium warm tepidarium has six tiled, heated chaise lounges with a gorgeous private view of the sea. Just next to it was the warmer laconium, with two heated chaises and a wall of heated benches across the back. There are two separate steam baths: the oriental with a spicy herbal scent to it and the even warmer aroma steam bath which features menthol and eucalyptus in the air. None of these rooms ever had more than 4 people in them. It was so peaceful. Just around the corner from here is another semi private multi-head shower with color therapy. I probably spent the most time in the covered Thalassotherapy pool which amply fit about eleven people, but never exceeded about 6. There’s a long underwater chaise which maximizes the jets against the backs and the legs. The jets pushed me off the chaise they were so powerful. At the end of the pool there were two power showers which felt great to pour down against my shoulders and back. All of the spa facilities are available from 8AM – 10PM daily. Some nights I stole away just before retiring to catch some relaxation in that hot tub. I developed some strong shoulder pain that no ibuprofen would allay during the trip, so I considered a ’la carte spa services. I opted for a $129 special (don’t forget the automatic 15% tip surcharge) on day five that included exfoliation, hot stone back, neck, shoulder and scalp massage and a facial in 75 minutes of treatment. This was actually a good deal, and much cheaper than my initial recommended course. Having read the warnings about the hard product sell after treatments, I printed clearly on my intake form that I didn’t want any products. My very nice technician told me after I was finished that this made her feel sad and still pushed a face wash, scrub and mask on me. I eventually caved for the wash and scrub at an additional $77. Forewarned is forearmed when it comes to these services. The reason they include so many services in one package is that it gives them an opportunity to sell you exfoliator, shampoo/scalp, massage, facial, and even a very pricey detox program. The facial was good and so was the back massage. As a point of reference, at first I told them about my shoulder pain and they recommended acupuncture. These treatments are $150 a piece, and the specialist recommended 5 sessions at a $150 discount of $600. $pendy. I was also curious about the Botox / Dysport treatments on the ship so I consulted with the ship’s doctor day one about my crow’s feet (~$350). She recommended a total brow lift across my “much worse” forehead (~$450) and midbrow (~$350) for a discounted price of $800 if I booked them all together. These also included free touch ups during the cruise. I don’t know if this is a good deal, but it was definitely beyond my budget. The food There’s more food on this ship than anyone can eat, but I tried. :) The Prime Steakhouse I started out with a reservation on night one made well in advance at the Prime Steakhouse which included a free bottle of wine for our table of four. We tried to get another bottle saying that we were two cabins, but they balked. The free wine is passable, not the best. However, it was free and I love that price! I savored this intimate, upscale restaurant ($35 upcharge) which seats about 80 people. The service was extremely professional, from the chummy bartender at the entrance to the friendly wait staff. The nights began with a cocktail at the very small bar at the front of the restaurant. The absolutely charming Gabriela from Hungary took sweet care of us for my standard classic Crown Royal Manhattan on the rocks (she sought out Angostura bitters to finish the drink for me personally) and a Hendricks gin martini up for the husband. Both of these call brand cocktails come in at under $10. I’m used to $14 cocktails in the bars in Chicago, so the prices were reasonable to me. We got to know Gabriela, and she recognized us by name. This bar was so nice; we had pre-prandial cocktails there on four evenings. It made me feel like I was the only person on the ship for a swank, intimate encounter. We enjoyed the ambiance and food at the Prime Steakhouse so much, we ate there twice. The evening begins with an amuse bouche. We sampled the tomato water, the lobster carpaccio, and crab croquettes. The croquettes stood out. Appetizers and sides were also delicious, from the giant shrimp cocktail to the rich, earthy lobster bisque to the excellent tuna tartar to the surprisingly airy escargot puffs with amazing dipping sauce. The crab cake was so good! It’s just a whole head and shoulders above the absolutely fine crab cake appetizer in the MDR. As for salads, I loved my beefsteak tomato and blue cheese salad, but the Caesar salad could have been better. It was served traditional, whole romaine leaf style with a thick dressing. It’s better than the one they serve in the MDR which tended to be small and underdressed, but doesn’t match the finishing and detail of so many of the other menu items in the steakhouse. The spinach salad was ample, competent, and tasty. The first night was rife with beef, and I tried the 5 spice rubbed bone-in 18 oz. hangar steak. The prime meat was grilled perfectly and seriously too big. Dear father in law loved his 9 oz. filet mignon. “One of the best I’ve ever eaten,” he remarked. A more petit filet comes with the surf and turf. The hubby got the lamb chops. This was the biggest serving of lamb chops I’ve ever seen. It also included perfectly succulent lamb loin medallions if the three giant chops aren’t enough. The second time we went back for two only and focused only on fish and shellfish. We were still blown away with quality. Evidently, so was the staff. This Thursday evening, a formal night in the MDR, the restaurant filled with officers of the ship, including the cruise director, the shopping expert, and surprisingly, a table of the captain and his senior crewmen ship in their very fancy black jackets with epaulets and gold braids. Needless to say, I felt like a VIP sitting next to them. Unfortunately, we didn’t chat because their entire conversation was in Italian! On my second visit, entrée choices were sea bass and lobster tail for us. Perfectly cooked. Absolutely delectable. Note that they only have one size of large lobster tail in the steakhouse: 7 oz. It’s split for a surf and turf and three halves are served for the lobster tail entrée. Sides are unremarkable, unfortunately. We tried the large portion of plain steamed broccoli, basic baked potato with nice side dish of bacon, butter, and sour cream, horseradish whipped potatoes which were just a bit too creamy for my taste, and the strange creamed spinach which consisted of steamed spinach leaves with garlic cream poured on top of them. I actually prefer Boston Market on this one! One standout side was the plain sautéed button mushrooms. These are hard to beat. Desserts were gigantic and amazing from the rich, tall cheesecake which easily feeds three to the chocolate sampler in four tasting portions. Two standouts were the decadent, caramelized apples in a puff pastry dome for which my server announced was the best thing on their menu. Don’t underestimate the cheese course, either. It was chock full of very high quality cheeses: French brie, St. Andre (crazy stinky), Roquefort, aged gouda, almonds, water crackers and a perfect little cluster of grapes. This alone would cost $15-$20 at any fine restaurant. I must not forget the bread choices: rosemary focaccia or a delicious little brioche roll. They’re served with a trio of smears including butter, tomato relish and eggplant relish. Bottom line, this place is near perfect. Another couple we met on the ship told us the same story: they were so blown away with the place, they came back twice. I want to share a final note about reservations in the steakhouse. If you use the reservation system, it may seem full and sometimes hard to get a table. My experience, however, was that it was often not full by more than half. My suspicion is that people make the reservations and then forget to cancel, for which there’s no penalty. Because of this, we arrived 45 minutes early the second night expecting to have a cocktail before dinner and we were seated almost right away. We also saw people coming into the restaurant and being seated without reservations. Words to the wiser! The Chef’s Table I was very pleasantly surprised by the sheer artistry of the Chef’s Table. I’m also happy to report that we experienced a new, third menu for this dinner. I reserved well in advance of the cruise by about 6 weeks through the Steakhouse mcsteakhouse@carnival.com. At our seating, there were 16 cruisers participating. I was told that this was the second offering on this ship this cruise and that because of demand they may have expanded to up to four evenings. In other words, Carnival accommodates for this special event. We met early in the evening at 6:15 in the piano lounge for four appetizers. The pre-dinner event was moved from the Vibe nightclub due to a conflict. A tall stem of champagne accompanied what began a culinary journey which lasted almost three hours. The chef de cuisine and three of his white-toqued sous brought us delectable little bites including an unusual mango sphere which resembled an egg yolk made possible by molecular gastronomy techniques on a savory rosemary cracker. The standout amuses were the salmon tartar mini hand roll and the double crusted lamb meat balls. The third beef carpaccio on air pillow was wild. It looked like nothing I’ve ever eaten before. This is a theme for the dinner: presentations are spectacularly adventurous. Chefs and his assistants explain everything and answer any questions. You’ll feel pampered. From the lounge, we marched into the galley. It’s a clean machine of efficiency and volume. About halfway in, we found ourselves at a white table clothed table with fine china and stemware. Our host, the chef de cuisine was warm and animated. I found my place card with a scrolled personalized menu for the evening featuring a ribbon with a star anise closure. The bread presentation then came with savory thin crisps separating brioche curls with caramelized onions and herbs. Three surprises flank the end of the bread board: a roasted garlic clove, and two different cherry tomatoes which were delicious. I’ve never eaten any tomatoes prepared this way. They were unusual in that they looked raw but were somehow cooked. They were like a little bite of magic. Red or white wine flowed freely at the table, a 2013 Mezzacorona Pinot Grigio or a McGuigan Bin Series Merlot, both about $10 a bottle in retail stores. We began the seven course journey with a gorgeous, multilayered beet ‘blanket’ served with a grape tea. Many of the courses are served with separate finishing pours and this was the first of them. This course was beautiful! Diners would be served simultaneously. During every course, the assistants or the Chef himself would crouch down to the table to ensure that everything was to our liking. Next was a delectable crab salad served on a polenta cracker with passion fruit caviar, another gastronomy trick. The duck textures, basically duck two-ways, was delicate with the creamy quinoa and parmesan churros. Probably the most spectacular presentation was the Bisque our way, where two separate tomato soups are poured simultaneously into the plate with a ‘log’ of whipped cream and herbs separating them. Wow. We then stopped and took a tour through the service area where we learned some amazing facts about the kitchen and food preparation on the ship from the Chef. He explained that for a one week cruise, he will order $450,000 worth of food to be delivered in Galveston. They prepare 4000 meals for the brunches and dinners in the MDRs per day! He showed us a computer screen which shows a grid of every order to be completed in real time during the dinner with color coding for modifiers like temperature for steaks. We paraded by stations where we learned that for safety, there are no flames at all in the kitchen. All food, even the grilled steaks are made with on water-heated grills. We saw how each entrée on the menu has a picture at the completion station to cue the assistants on presentations. We then stopped by the pastry area of the kitchen where we met the head pastry chef. He gave us the recipe for Carnival’s signature warm melting cake and demonstrated the preparation. Basically a custardy soufflé of eggs, sugar, butter, cocoa and flour, I discovered the real secret to this dessert: Felchlin Lucerne 44% fine Swiss cocoa powder. They prepare 1450 of these every night. We next marched back to the table where we were greeted with a close up magician who entertained the table with two illusions, one at each end. This was just delightful. The sea bass with fried pop corn pudding, savory lemon macaron, and lobster foam was another winner as the next course. The Wagyu beef short rib with bone marrow soufflé and gremolata crisp was finished with a flourish of demi glace. It was rich and succulent. Finally, we ended with a tapestry plate of sea salt praline chocolate, raspberry, key lime cake, another sweet macaron, and apricot vanilla gel. Just amazing. By now, our group photos were ready and each of us got a picture of the Chef’s Table and participants. We got to know some very nice and interesting people at this meal. Attire was evening casual with a mix of jackets and ties, but plenty of polos and collared shirts for the men. Women as a group looked very nice, but there were no gowns nor sequins. These conventions are an artifact of the past. The Chef stood for pictures with people and the end of the event. Before I booked the Chef’s Table, I had read that this multi-course menu may not approach the finest five star restaurants in large cities. That is NOT the case. This food is a tour-de-force of techniques, ingredients, and presentations. The synchronized service is near perfect. With the champagne, unlimited wine, entertainment, intermezzos, and complimentary photograph, the value is unprecedented. If you’re adventurous or a foodie, it’s a must! Cuchina Del Capitano I never had a chance to try this restaurant in the evening when there is a $15 surcharge. I did however, love it for lunch. Even better, you’ll get quasi table service with an excellent, limited food menu. At lunch, I’d walk up the stairs and visit the hostess who’d assign my party a number and individual ordering menus which are filled out and dropped off at the kitchen. You find any open table, fill your order and wait a short time for your food. The ambience was like a little Italian village. Like most of my favorite places on the Magic, it seemed like a hidden gem. The décor is quaint, and it was never crowded. Honestly, the lunch service was a little slow here. There was also a wait to get an alcoholic drink ordered and delivered. If you order a beer with lunch, which is great because they offer Peroni and Moretti in the Cuchina, they have to get a bar waiter from downstairs to come up. A minor gripe. It’s a cruise! Who’s on a timetable? The limited menu consists of salad, bread, made to order pasta and a spectacular lasagna. Salad and bread were just okay, kind of plain. The made to order pasta, for which you could choose your pasta type: penne, linguini, farfalle; sauce: marinara, Bolognese, red clam, or alfredo (fancy patrons were ordering ‘pink’ sauce, which is a mix of the marinara and the alfredo), and then a nice assortment of vegetables, chicken, or shrimp. My farfalle with marinara, vegetables and shrimp was very delicious. The lasagna is in a class by itself. A generous portion of layered pasta sheets, it included layers of spinach, eggplant planks, and whole chunks of braised beef underneath bubble, melted cheese. This should probably be illegal it’s so good. I wanted to try the arancini, but alas! They’re only available at dinner. Even one evening when the Cuchina’s cuisine was featured at the taste bar, there were none to be had. I guess there’s always a next time… The Red Frog Pub On the Lanai deck right next to the Vibe nightclub sits a large Caribbean style l-shaped pub with convenient outdoor seating on deck. This lively, warm venue featured a variety of beers, specialty mixed drinks and island-inspired small plates to share. The servers are mostly from the islands as well; very friendly and, like most of the staff on ship, surprisingly apt to remember my name with a second visit. When it comes to beer, the place features Red Frog Ale made especially for Carnival. You can order a large 20 oz. pint or a 110 ounce beer tube with a spigot at the bottom for communal sharing. I mentioned that I don’t care for mass produced American beer, and in my opinion, the Red Frog Ale is on par with them. Unless you’re going for quantity, just pass on this. They also serve Boddington’s in the can and Guinness here. When it comes to specialty drinks, the Pub offers many of the fruity, tropical, “drink two of these and get a headache from sugar” cocktails as well. You can order most in these giant fishbowl goblets which can throw you for a loop. I liked their specialty “Ting” cocktails made with a grapefruit soda and white liquor like gin or vodka. The gin Ting is very refreshing since they spice it up with a dash of bitters. As for the food, it’s a tasty winner. Presentations are rustic island themed in paper lined wire cones with long plantain chips mixed in with the mostly fried offerings like fish fingers and excellent coconut shrimp with a sweet and spicy dipping sauce. We tried the conch fritters as well and found them to be good, but aren’t what you’d find in Mallory Square in Key West. They unfortunately have a spice in the batter which fries to a shell-like hardness. When I bit into them, I felt like I was going to chip my teeth. The conch ceviche was delicious. The portion big enough, but suffered from a lack of saltines or bread with which to eat it. I also tried the chicken roti and found them to be satisfying. Any food ordered in the Red Frog will run $3.33. They are all certainly big enough to share. Go with a dining mate; and with the ambience, live music in the evenings, and quality, it’s a fun place. The MDR I was happy to reserve a Your Time Dining reservation. We ate in the Northern Lights room always at a separated table for four. The room is large, on two levels. I preferred to eat on the edges of the restaurant rather than in the two-story open center. While the view of the singing and dancing waiters is better in the center since they tend to gather along the crescent stairways to perform, I did not care for the large blue green florescent chandeliers casting and unsavory glow on my food and my family. It’s more intimate under the eaves. We never really waited in long lines to be seated when we’d typically appear between 6:15 and 7:30, maybe three or four parties before us. It was only on our last night that there was a bit of a wait, so we were offered a pager to let us know when our table was ready. It’s completely convenient, since the lobby lounge opens onto the dining room. We just excused ourselves and sat and chatted on the sofas for about 25 minutes while we sipped a drink from the bar. The quality of the food in the MDR is a bit hit or miss. I was never dissatisfied. I loved the variety and didn’t order off of the everyday items menu. I liked more adventurous fare, often trying a ‘Didja’ appetizer which included interesting fare like frog’s legs Provençale and braised Ox tongue. The fish entrees were typically overcooked to my liking. I asked the waiter if they could cook my salmon to more of a medium consistency and he said it would be too difficult for the kitchen with the volume. I thought the Panko breaded shrimp were delectable, as was the rich, sherried seafood Newburg. Soups were consistently good and often interesting with options like strawberry or chilled peach, a hearty navy bean, and a surprisingly spicy Tom Kha with chicken. My in laws thought that their food was often not hot enough for them. I’m not as sensitive to temperature and found mostly everything very good. For dessert, I loved the warm chocolate melting cake with vanilla ice cream; it’s totally decadent. We had four different dining captains when we ate and each was quite special, but it wasn’t until the last night that we really struck the jackpot and had a waiter who was clearly trained in a five star establishment. From the whisking of the napkins to our lap, the attentive and friendly service, to the use of a crumb catcher, he was spot on! The others had strengths in different ways. One evening, our friendly waiter surprised us all at the table with a solo singing performance to the entire dining room after the wait staff finished their number. Another night, we had a guy who comped us our after-dinner drinks and didn’t charge the corkage fee for the wine we brought to share at the table from the cabin. Yet one other night, when my in-laws were dissatisfied with their food temperature, our waiter tried to buy our satisfaction with extra appetizers, entrees and desserts to the table. It wasn’t like we needed the extra food, but I can (but probably shouldn’t) always eat a few more shrimp or a few forkfuls of cake. If I had to put my finger on the issue with the MDR, it would be that the servers are spread too thin. It doesn’t help that every 45 minutes or so, they all MUST convene in the center of the room to sing a song together. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the live entertainment, waving my napkin above my head with the majority of the diners. However, when your domed entrée sits on a large serving tray cooling with 14 others while you wait for the musical number to end, there’s kind of a disconnect here. Sea days gave us brunches in the Southern Lights dining room. There was always a line for this, but it moved briskly and we were seated within 15 minutes of arriving. As a bonus, as a repeat Carnival cruiser, I was offered coupons for free drinks at brunch. They’ve got a delicious bloody Mary bar right outside the dining room with multiple ingredients and hot sauces all mixed to order with a generous pour of Belvedere vodka. No complaints here whatsoever! Brunches would start with a basket of breads and sweet rolls. Coffee and juices at brunch were included with no surcharge, so that was nice. The special menu had nice savory options like salmon and mildly spicy Cornish hen diavola, which I thought was great, as well as omelets made to order. Standard breakfast options like eggs or sausage or waffles were good as well. A totally delicious and easily overlooked option was the jerked bacon on the Caesar salad. The spice rub on that bacon was amazing. We got four pieces, so I shared them. We all loved it. Not so good was the soupy mac and cheese which suffered from too high a béchamel to cheese ratio. Seating could be communal or at smaller tables. One morning we asked for a window view. They suggested a long 10 top five seats from the window at first. We said we didn’t prefer it, so they moved us immediately to a gorgeous view aft of the ship right at the window with the azure eddies from the engines coloring the ship’s trail in the water. Lido Buffet I avoided this area of the ship almost entirely. I think it’s great for families, but the idea of carrying around an oversized plastic plate on a tray and finding a clean, available booth to sit in seems unnecessarily downscale. One would typically have to stop at multiple stations with multiple lines. In almost no case were these lines very long, about 3 or four people waiting, but it’s like a giant Golden Corral. I don’t eat hamburgers, hot dogs, French fries, or even pizza when there’s a finer dining option just steps away. It always seemed like the line for the Mongolian Wok which wrapped around the area was too long. Skipped it. There were three areas here which did get my attention, however. The first was the deli portside aft of the ship. The in-laws tried the Reuben and were underwhelmed. The meat portion was skimpy as were the sauerkraut, Russian dressing and Swiss cheese. The second buffet area which tended to have my husband suddenly appear with some chocolate delicacy was the chocolate bar. The cakes looked great. The best buffet option was the Tandoor kitchen starboard aft on the ship. The food here was excellent. There were plenty of vegetarian entrée options with rice, entire sauce bar of Indian choices from tamarind to raita to complex chutneys. They had delicious tandoor charred fresh fish and fresh naan coming out of the oven in a stream. We lunched there twice. Room service We regularly used room service for an early breakfast delivery of juice, coffee, bagel, cream cheese and smoked salmon. Options were limited but certainly sufficed. It was great to use the door hangar the night before to get something delivered freshly to the cabin. Timing was always spot on and the portions were really big. Order coffee and they send you a carafe of four cups! The smoked salmon included four large smoked fillets wrapped up to look like roses with a few raw red onion rings and tasty capers sprinkled over them. I wasn’t really happy with the limp wheat toast I got one morning. The next morning, I just marked ‘dark toasted’ on the card and the problem was solved. One day, we made smoked salmon bagels to take with us on our excursion. Nobody looked in our beach bag as we left the ship. We always tipped the room service waiter $2-$5 cash. The Coffee Bar I only went to this place once, which surprised me because I’m a Starbucks-a-holic with daily visits. I like a triple espresso over ice with a touch of soy or almond milk and a Splenda. I got one here twice and I was just a bit underwhelmed. The espresso shots were premade and just poured from little metal pitchers under the machine, which if you know anything about good espresso is a total no-no. No almond or soy milk, either. This is a missed opportunity for Carnival. Service was great, however. Not surprisingly, the second time I visited, I was greeted by name. Drinks I wrestled very hard with whether to purchase the Cheers program for my trip. Three weeks before we cruised, Carnival raised the prices on the package from $37.50 per person per day to $49.95. We opted out. When ships leave out of Galveston, Carnival states that drink packages cannot be purchased until day two because of Texas law. Between the four of us, we each brought on a bottle of wine. We used these bottles at dinner in the MDR three times to offset the costs of buying at dinner, despite the fact that there is a $15 corking fee with a bottle. We also had dinner reservations in the steakhouse on the first night for the free bottle of wine. As repeat cruisers, my in-laws gave us their free drink coupons for Sea Day Brunches which we used with ours as well to save. Since we’d have one or two drinks during the day, a drink before dinner, wine with dinner and one drink after dinner, the Cheers program with the previous price would have saved us about $70 overall in drink fees. We ended up spending $589 on drinks and were never wanting, so the new prices would not have made sense for us. The ones that got away If the cruise had been longer with more sea days, I would have like to have tried the Sea Day Barbecue on the outside Lanai deck. My only other often desired but never tried area was The Taste Bar, which doubles as a breakfast buffet on port days (good-to-know fact!). The taste bar features amuses from the restaurants on the ship, including the premium ones. It was never open when I walked by, except the one night when they featured the Cuchina Del Capitano fare sans the treasured arancini. Entertainment We caught a couple of shows in the theater. Overall quality was good. The cast consisted of a male and female singing lead, four male dancers, eight female dancers, and a five piece band-- all seasoned professionals. We caught two music reviews, both about 40 minutes. My wish was that the reviews were a bit shorter, because I was ready to leave by the end. They were just a little long. Multiple costume changes, great dancing and decent singing was the fare for both, one being Seventies inspired. These would greatly benefit from an overhaul for content. Surprisingly odd was the Destination Unknown magic show with more pyrotechnics than I think is safe on a ship at sea! Sparks fly everywhere. There are large scale illusions with some dancing and a little bit of singing. This show makes no sense at all. It has a futuristic, bondage theme to it. Evidently, someone got hurt during the early performance of the show because of the ship rocking; so we got a modified version. It lasted twenty minutes. I remarked as we left, “Well we just saw something, but I have no idea what it was!” I remember the Love and Marriage show from the previous cruise and I didn’t want to miss this afternoon event hosted by the wry, cheeky, energetic James the Cruise Director. It was very funny, often off-color, and completely spontaneous with three couples playing the Newlywed Game from various stages of their marriage, one just married three days ago, another married for 11 years, and the third for 56 years. What a hoot! Don’t miss this one. I caught three shows in the George Lopez Punchline Lounge. This place was very popular. Towards the end of the cruise, people would line up in the piano bar about thirty minutes before the show in the Piano bar for a seating. They had a total of four comedians performing for the week, two rotating early and two later. These are all performed by professionals, except the lame comedy director who consistently introduced the shows with a very short routine of flat jokes. I was very happy to see that since the previous cruise, the comedians no longer do political humor which I found so offensive eight years ago, I walked out. This time, two of the three had me laughing out loud with their bawdy humor. The third to standing room only was so meek; she made me merely smirk weakly. Mildly amused, I snuck out. Other than that, I played Trivia as often as I could. As I mentioned, these weren’t really interactive, but more like a paper and pencil test given by the administrator. Didn’t matter. These were fun, and I’m happy to say that I won three of four entered! In addition to two ‘solid-gold plastic ships-on-a-stick’, I won a giant fishbowl of a rum drink that was so big, two of us couldn’t finish it. It was, however, very fun to cradle this behemoth across the rocking ship one evening as an ice breaker. They’re available at $19.95 in the Red Frog Pub. The lobby bar had an okay three piece ensemble of singer and two musicians before dinner. They tended to country music, so I never stayed to listen. Summary Carnival is an incredible value for cruising. The service was consistently first rate, the cabin accommodations were spotless, and the food was surprisingly sophisticated if you know where to eat. I loved the spa and found the entertainment to be satisfying. I paid extra for many upgrades on this trip to enhance my experience. Even with the upgrades my cruise on the Magic to the Western Caribbean was much less than it would have cost for a similar experience on other cruise lines, and I still felt like a king being indulged at every step. So many of my friends essentially turned up their nose at the idea of a Carnival cruise, and that’s their loss. I was so impressed with my cruise, I’m looking to book the West Indies out of San Juan as soon as possible.   Read Less
Sail Date November 2014
We just returned from our Royal Caribbean cruise on Mariner of the Seas. It is our understanding that Mariner will be leaving Galveston and going to Asia in two weeks and Navigator will be replacing it in Galveston. This is going to be a ... Read More
We just returned from our Royal Caribbean cruise on Mariner of the Seas. It is our understanding that Mariner will be leaving Galveston and going to Asia in two weeks and Navigator will be replacing it in Galveston. This is going to be a good change, and there are so many things that are alike on both ships, that there will still be the same care and concern for its passengers. We drove in from Oklahoma and arrived on Saturday evening staying at the Holiday Inn, Webster, Texas. This is a great location to the port. Just a short 30 minute drive the next morning. This hotel was excellent, in a great location for dinner and shopping. This suburb seems fairly new so there were several hotels here that we would use again. We ate breakfast at a local restaurant, then got last minute purchases (water, flea collar, cold medications at a local store before driving to the port. We arrived at the Port about 10:30am. We use Indoor parking at Galveston Park-n-Cruise. This is very convenient. We actually go to the Strand and shop for a little bit at the quaint little shops before going back to our car, getting our luggage and walking the short distance to board our ship. We took our luggage to the appropriate area (not labeled very well). We then got in line for pre-boarding and paperwork. We had completed the Sea Pass info on line so it was just a matter of getting thru screening, and then another line to get our Sea Pass Cards. This was the only negative to our cruise. Lines were not very well labeled, or the attendant was not clear and we got in the wrong line. We are just gold members, but there is a line for us, and it would have been a lot less time. About a one hour wait before boarding the ship. Our first cruise was on Navigator, so Mariner was the same layout. We headed to the Windjammer for a quick bite to eat. Excellent for Buffet style food. There was flavor in the food and several choices. It really wasnt over-crowded and there are plenty of great views. We then went to our room to unload our two carry-ons and ready to explore the ship. Our room was in the perfect location! We were 8601, back of the ship with an Atrium View. These are just a little more than an inside room but have windows to the promenade. This was an excellent location to go up 3 flights of stairs to the Windjammer for Breakfast, or down 3 flights for dining. Our first bag arrived about 5PM. After another hour our second bag had still not arrived but we had a note to check on Deck One. In reading cruisecritic.com, I understood that this meant that we might have had something in the suitcase that they didnt allow and we could not think of what it could be. My husbands scuba gear was all in this suitcase, so he was a little frantic! They were very courteous on Deck One. There were several bags and several people trying to bring liquor on board. We think that our culprit was our two cans of Pringles Potato Chips. (We bring these with BBQ/Chili Powder for motion sickness on the small dive boats; it is supposed to help) These cans are foil lined, so think that was our issue! So glad to get our suitcase all in one piece. The shows all week were very good, especially the comedians. Ella Mae was the best, and was really hoping for a late night show!! I am hoping she will be on the comedy channel very soon. We are not into drinking, late night dancing or gambling. We enjoyed the solarium, the gym, the steam room and just spending time together and relaxing. This was a very quiet cruise with not very many kids or college age kids. Think this may be because it is so close to finals week and most parents dont want to take kids out of school this late in the year. We were scheduled for my time dining. I did book a time each night for this on line, and that worked out very well. We sometimes ate by ourselves, and sometimes ate at the same table with a group of people. These were not people our age, so conversation was limited at times. In past cruises, we had early seating and most of our dinner table companions were of the same age. We also ate at the specialty restaurant, Chopps one night. This is an amazing meal and worth every penny. We request to sit by the window to see the sunset. Our plan in cruising is for DH to dive on each port, and sometimes I go as a non-diver. I usually have to pay a little more to do this, but it is worth it to go along. DH had a head cold that was getting worse, so bad that his nose bled every day, several times a day. This meant that he would not be able to clear his ears, so the dive excursions were cancelled. He was disappointed, but this was definitely the best decision for us with full refunds for excursions. Roatan was a beautiful place. We chose to take a Beach and Snorkel Excursion thru the ship. I think that this may be part of West Bay Beach. There was an air-conditioned bus that took us to the Resort location with a short drive through town. It was a wonderful Resort and Lunch was part of our excursion. This consisted of Hamburgers, Hot dogs, Cole Slaw, Beans, Watermelon, Mango, Water and Lemonade. All attendants or servers were very nice. Of course, there is a place to tip everyone, but we only tipped the security person that watched our things while we snorkeled. The snorkeling was the best we have ever seen. The water was extremely warm and clear and there were all kinds of fish. Attendants in kayaks were there to let you know when you were getting too close to the coral or riptides. There were plenty of palm trees, chairs and it was not too crowded at this facility. The scenery is very beautiful on the whole island so lots of great pictures. The bathroom facilities were very clean. There were buses that went back to port every 30 minutes. The beach was not too crowded and this was a very enjoyable time. We will do this excursion again. Belize is a 45 minute Tender Ride each way and we just didnt see anything of interest to us in the list of excursions, so stayed on the ship and had it all to ourselves. Cozumel-We had been to this port several times so just did a little shopping at the port. The other port, where Ron Jons is located is so much better for shopping. I think that Cozumel has the best prices for things and more of a variety. We would have liked to have gone to a beach but these are more crowded since there were five cruise ships here so again, went back to the ship and enjoyed the Solarium and pools by ourselves. Overall, our cruise was wonderful. We just enjoyed spending time together. We love Royal Caribbean and feel they treat their guests very well. We will definitely cruise again. Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
Overview: We drove from home to Galveston the day of sailing. Arrived at the port around 2:00 and were in our cabin before 3:00. Both the embarkation and debarkation went very smoothly. The Galveston crew knew what they were doing. ... Read More
Overview: We drove from home to Galveston the day of sailing. Arrived at the port around 2:00 and were in our cabin before 3:00. Both the embarkation and debarkation went very smoothly. The Galveston crew knew what they were doing. Overall the ship is clear and well maintained for it's age. The crew is one of the best. Every crew member I met throughout the cruise greeted me with a smile and hell-o. Jen the Cruise director was great (a lot of fun but not in your face). The Triumph has a great crew... Cabin: We had the Grand Suite - very nice and clean - large bathroom with full size tub/shower. The vanity area is a nice plus - extra room to dress and hang stuff. The balcony was good - longer then most but not very wide. Still had 4 chairs and 2 tables - 4 could out sit on the balcony very nicely. Our room stewards were great and as always loved the towel animals each night. Food: The buffet was not very good - a hit or miss on taste. The Deli and Chopsticks (off to the side of buffet) were great - could not go wrong there. The dinning room food was a hit or miss as well. The prime rib was great, very tender. The 2 fish dishes I had were bad. One night I had the Crease salad and it was bland (so so), then 2 nights later since nothing else interested me, had the Crease salad again and this one was great - one of the best.. So, I never knew night from night how the dinner would go. The plus to the dinning room was the wait staff. Did a great job every night. Closing: The Triumph offers people a nice 4 or 5 night getaway at a great price. People (especially fellow cruise critics) should keep this in mind when they book. If you fantastic everything, then Triumph is not the ship for you. Try the Magic or another cruse line. I knew what to expect (kept an open mind) and had a great 5 nights on a nice ship with great crew and fellow passengers. I would definitely sail on the Triumph again - makes for a great little getaway. Read Less
Sail Date September 2012
We just got back from our five day cruise on the Carnival Triumph. It was a fantastic week. I have some issues that require oxygen at times and the crew was extremely helpful getting me on and off the boat in a wheelchair. I found this ... Read More
We just got back from our five day cruise on the Carnival Triumph. It was a fantastic week. I have some issues that require oxygen at times and the crew was extremely helpful getting me on and off the boat in a wheelchair. I found this cruise to be one of the best when it comes to the helpfulness and friendliness of the entire crew. The shows seemed to be average except for the night they flew in an illusionist from Las Vegas....Kevin was OUTSTANDING!!!! The food was great as always and you always had multiple venues. The ship was easy to get around even with my limited movement capabilities. I would highly recommend the Triumph for a cruise out of Galveston. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
We traveled with 3 generations - my mother, me and my husband, and our two children, ages 1 and 6. All of us enjoyed the cruise a lot. They set up one of the kids areas as an indoor play area for children under 3, which was a nice ... Read More
We traveled with 3 generations - my mother, me and my husband, and our two children, ages 1 and 6. All of us enjoyed the cruise a lot. They set up one of the kids areas as an indoor play area for children under 3, which was a nice surprise. They also had a playground every morning for the babies, and allowed us to check out bags of age appropriate toys. This was an improvement over previous sailings with children under 3. Adventure Ocean was still great, and our son really enjoyed it on the occasions he went to visit. The Main Dining Room was the biggest disappointment to us on this cruise. We were assigned to My Time Dining instead of the Main Seating as we purchased the cruise somewhat late. Even though we had a reservation at about the same time most nights, we kept getting assigned to different tables with different waiters. Not all were very good with getting food out fast to our young children. (One was particularly dreadful - we couldn't seem to get the waiter over to our table to take our orders, much less bring us anything.) This was a real change from previous cruises, when we had the same waitstaff, who made an effort to get to know us and have kid snacks either waiting or out quickly. I would not do My Time dining again, if I could avoid it. We ended up ordering a lot of room service. We also thought the food in the MDR was highly variable. Some dishes were very good... some really weren't. It sort of seemed to be luck of the draw. We did go to both Portofino and Chops, which were both excellent. We thought much of the staff was wonderful. Luca, the Concierge, was absolutely wonderful. He was pleasant, helpful, and always available to help with anything. Our stateroom attendant was also great. He even took the time to give our son a private lesson in making towel monkeys, after the baby destroyed the towel monkey the attendant had left for us. We loved our balcony, and thought the room size and layout was very good. (We were in a Royal Family Suite.) The balcony was huge, and we had breakfast on it almost every morning. The Ice Show Under the Big Top was not to be missed. It was the highlight of the entertainment onboard for us. The production shows were decent. Honestly, we've seen better on other ships, but we still enjoyed them. The embarkation wasn't bad, but the disembarkation was a nightmare. One of our kids wasn't feeling great, so we made the mistake of letting the kids sleep in on the last morning. Suite guests can get early disembarkation, and if we had known what a nightmare disembarkation would be later in the day, we'd have woken up the kids early and dealt with their early morning crankiness. People were trapped in barely moving lines for hours, waiting for a porter and/or waiting to get through customs. Seriously, if you can get off in one of the early groups, do so! Anyway, overall, this was a wonderful week. Good ship, great ports. We'll definitely do it again. Read Less
Sail Date February 2012
There will be some that trash the January 15th trip on the Carnival Magic. I know this because I heard people on the ship planning it. So let's get past the 2 big complaints first, since they were really out of Carnival's ... Read More
There will be some that trash the January 15th trip on the Carnival Magic. I know this because I heard people on the ship planning it. So let's get past the 2 big complaints first, since they were really out of Carnival's control. There were two very big problems this week. First, when getting on and off the ship in the Grand Caymans, tendering was outrageous., with those who were not taking excursions having to wait for hours to get off, and then waiting in line again to get back on before the last tender left at 3:30. While this seems a legitimate gripe, and I too stood in line to get back on board (I was on an excursion, so I didn't have problems getting off), there were half a dozen ships in port that day that the local tenders had to balance. Our ship was forced to wait on the others that came in before us or left before us. Trying to get over 20,000 people on and off ship would be an impossible task. Carnival could do nothing about it, and while frustrating, was a small inconvenience for the vacation. As, too, was the fact that fog which closed the port of Galveston on our last day, meaning that we could not get off the ship until 7 hours after our expected arrival. Some got angry. And yet the whole crew of the Magic went way above and beyond to make those hours comfortable by allowing us to stay in our rooms (instead of telling us to go to a common area and wait), keeping bars and restaurants open, providing extra games and entertainment, and in general acting as if the cruise was still going on. It was a bad morning, but the entire staff made it a great time. SO NOW THAT THIS IS OVER, LET'S LOOK AT THE MAGIC... This is a great ship. Definitely the biggest I have cruised on, but when walking around, it didn't seem like that much more walking than others. But what makes the Magic so great is not the size, but the way they utilize the extra space. The promenade deck (deck 5)showed some of the greatest advances over other ships I had been on. Since I am not a big bar goer, I don't normally spend that much time on the Promenade. But on the Magic, this is not simply a bar/shopping deck... In the open atrium (the Ocean Plaza, I believe it's called), there are regular activities going on throughout the day with games, bands playing, dancing, and food (yes, a small contentment breakfast, sandwich lunch, sushi bar dinner, even a barbeque going on sea days). This was the first cruise that this deck was part of my daily plan. The deck space on 5 was also a great change. On the magic, it's not just a space to walk around, maybe sit in the sun. With the promenade having 6 hot tubs on the outer decks of the promenade, deck games (and for smoker like some I travel with, a smoking area away from the Lido deck), this was a great area. No doubt, it was nice. I would say that, since there was free food on this deck, as well as a smoking level, it would be nice to see the free drinks (coffee, tea, lemonade) in the ocean plaza instead of having to go up to the Lido deck... but that's every ship, so I shouldn't be surprised. Just hopefully that will come in time. The Sports deck was also nice. I've played putt putt golf on a number of ships, but the two-tiered level was very cool. But what made the sports deck special to me was something I had not seen anywhere... the ropes course. I am 51 years old, and way out of shape, but I challenged my "inner-macho" to try it, and even though walking the ropes 20 feet up (and some 200 feet above the water) was frightening, the staff was there to give me tips and encouragement. It was an amazing experience. The Serenity Deck was also awesome. This deck, just for adults, gave a great place of quiet away from the 1.000 or so kids on board. With a bar, 2 hot tubs, and lots of places for grown ups (as individuals or as couples) to relax, it was a wonderful addition to the ship. the expanded water park on the Magic was also fun, even at my age. The large slides are not just for kids. What a blast. I can't say too much great about the food. In general, it was good, standard cruise fair... though definitely more than you will find on smaller ships. The Prime Steakhouse was great for a premium restaurant, but the lido deck buffets, the pizza, the restaurants, were all standard. As was the room. It was nice, and as I've grown accustom to on Carnival, roomy enough, but nothing beyond the norm... But then again, that's why I normally get an inner stateroom, since I don't stay in that often except to sleep. One small noteworthy, however, was the TV selection. I did enjoy the fact that we had the camera giving views of from the front of the ship on the television. I like seeing us come into port while I am still in the room. On the negative, however, is the fact of the "AudioFunTimes" channel, where they have someone reading what is going on (yes reading, word for word, the FunTimes magazine that came into the room the night before). I thought it would be nice, but since we were at Wednesday, January 18 before they actually recorded a new one (who cares what happened on Saturday, January 14 before we got on the ship), and then they stayed a half a day behind after that). ALSO (on a personal note from every ship I have been on), if a ship is to carry local stations (the magic had three), is it too much to ask that you get local news from the home port? I am not concerned about what is happening in Miami or New York if I am traveling from and to the Texas coast... but that's a personal rant. The Showtime Theater and the Spotlight Lounge were great areas for shows, and no doubt we saw some of the best shows I had ever seen on any ship (I enjoyed "Groove Line" more than any of the standard ship singers and dancer shows on any ship, but that might be because that's my generation. The genre is not usually my cup of tea, but this one was really good. Also, Jason Byrne's magic show was something really cool... I've never seen fireworks in a ship's theater. Marcus Monroe's juggling (who knew a juggler could be amazing) was just that, Amazing. Best and funniest show around. Some will complain about the big ship, but the way the Carnival Magic is set up, it was wonderful. Read Less
Sail Date January 2012
From a little background, my wife and I have cruised 22 times, and this being the first on Royal Caribbean. Most have been on Princess, Celebrity and Carnival. We selected this cruise because my granddaughters wanted a change from Carnival ... Read More
From a little background, my wife and I have cruised 22 times, and this being the first on Royal Caribbean. Most have been on Princess, Celebrity and Carnival. We selected this cruise because my granddaughters wanted a change from Carnival or NCL and with the Mariner we had hopes this would be an upgrade from the others. We drove down the day of the cruise from Dallas, our group of 13 people in 3 separate cars and parked at EZ Cruise Parking. We collected our bag and were off to check-in. the initial process went smoothly, and being the one who was paying for everything, tried to put 3 cabins on one credit card and THOUGHT all was fine, but more on that later. We arrived around noon, and after check-in we were told it would be 1:30-2:00 before we would be allowed to board. Ok, that's fine so let's see if we can find a place to sit. We ended up finding one seat for my 85 year old mother, next to someone who was saving seats for his family. He probably did the same thing in the pool area because 30 minutes later we couldn't see anyone who even recognized him. We were directed to the other side of the terminal since it was getting rather crowded, and was told "I will personally come and get you and assist you on boarding". When our group was called we proceeded to the other side of the terminal again, and met people who were 2 groups ahead of us, so everyone seemed to merge into one and eventually got on board around 2:15. Headed up to Windjammer until the rooms were ready. Got down to the room, and met our cabin attendant I wanted the door between the 2 cabins opened so we could play cards with mom and sis and was told he would ask the Captain if it was doable. After day 2, and it still wasn't done, we went to the front desk and asked and was told they would take care of it. On day 3, we asked again and the cabin attendant told us it probably wouldn't be done because they were rusted shut. Really? He didn't know we are relatively seasoned travelers so I asked the front again and was told due to safety reasons they wouldn't be opened. I can say this is the first cruise where we weren't able to do this, and it was a little disappointing but no real big deal. Day 2 at breakfast I wanted some Egg Beaters, but was told they were out of them but could do egg whites instead. Again, really? This theme continued that afternoon at the Wig and Gavel where my wife wanted a Harvey's Bristol Creme that she ordered off a tattered and torn menu and guess what they didn't have that either so we left. For dinner, we had the early seating and ordered the premium wine package for our 3 wine drinkers. That was the easy part.... EVERY night when we ordered wine it took forever to get it served. The tables next to ours got theirs relatively quickly but we wailed 15-20 minutes extra for our guy to get his act together and serve ours. On the last night we ordered our last bottle, and 15 minutes later the waiter came to take our order and I said, "not until we get our wine, and it came pretty quickly after that. Worse than that was at a table right behind ours, there was a Veteran who wore his dress blues at the first formal night. Being a vet myself, I ordered him a bottle of wine and asked my waiter to take of it. No problem he said, but it was never done. Not cool. The next night I asked him what he liked, and ordered it from my guy and hand carried it over to him myself. This didn't seem to please anyone but me and him but I was surprised by the lack of consideration from my wait staff. Thinking they were overworked, I asked him how many tables we had, and it was 3. Not sure how this compares with the others, but I guarantee it wouldn't happen this way on Princess. Overall, I rank the wait staff as the worst we have ever had, although the food was pretty good. Mom enjoyed the adults only pool once she finally found a lounger. She was sitting in the shade and found someone getting up who was in the sun, and there was a 40 year old who basically pushed her aside to get to that seat. I went up to him and said, really, and he said he got there first so it's too bad for her. Not much you can do about that now can you? I also signed up for the Internet Service and it was actually faster that what I have been used to, although the sign-in process is confusing, especially for those who had their own notebook and there is no ship-wide WiFi. About a third of the computers didn't work which seemed a little high for me, but there was never a wait. The front desk personnel was pretty good, and on day 3 I wanted to see how much we were spending and found charges from one cabin that showed up on another account. They told me that was impossible unless room keys were shared, which didn't happen so I spend an hour getting that straight which they weren't too happy with. The entertainment was OK, but the ice show outstanding. Got pretty bored with the piano melodies, jazz, and strings. The Beatles preview as also very good. Trivia was well attended and for once there was no bickering on what the answers should have been so that was a huge plus. There were 800 kids on this cruise but overall it wasn't too bad and our granddaughters found friends and we hardly saw them. Our shore excursions were done outside the ship and the absolute best was zip-lining in Roatan.I will say my mom and wife did to the River and Mayan Ruins through the ship in Belize which they really enjoyed. The tender process was horrible, but I don't think that is has anything to do with RCL but the fact it Belize and nobody has a great tender service here. Finally, disembarkation was a nightmare. We opted for the self check out and carried our bag. The front desk said deck one, but the instructions said deck 4, starting at 7:30. We tool an elevator down to deck 4 at 7:00 and stood there until close to 8:20 when a RCL rep said go back through the Casino and it should be quicker. Took us 2 1/2 hours total, and I know they blame Customs for this, but frankly once we got that far, it was not a bad process. They started calling for the colors to disembark, even when were all stuck by the elevator banks which added to the frustration. Our daughter had a 9:45 time, and it wasn't even resolved then. Overall, we picked this cruise for a number of reasons, but paying a premium because it is Royal Caribbean doesn't fly with me. There were far too many cases where the staff was either over worked, under trained, or simply didn't care. Even my granddaughters said they would rather sail NCL or Carnival again. It will be a long time before we consider them again. Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
This was our first cruise on the Triumph and I was a bit skeptical as I had read somewhat negative reviews about this ship. It was my husband and I...booked this one just to disconnect for a week. We arrived in Galveston a few days ... Read More
This was our first cruise on the Triumph and I was a bit skeptical as I had read somewhat negative reviews about this ship. It was my husband and I...booked this one just to disconnect for a week. We arrived in Galveston a few days early so that we could enjoy being tourists, and we had a great time. We stayed at the Harbor House and it was fantastic. The weather was mostly sunny and warm, but did rain one evening. We got to the terminal around 10:30 Monday morning -- no crowds, but quite a few guests from the past cruise still coming out of the terminal. Dropped the luggage with a porter and headed to the check-in area of the terminal. They have re-designed the terminal and there is now a new check in area. It was very nice and large. Breezed through security and then went to wait for embarkation. After about an hour, we found out that boarding was being delayed as there was a crew customs check and the entire crew from the Triumph had to get off the ship to make sure all their papers were in order with customs; no reason to get upset....we just visited with some of the people around us. We were finally able to start boarding around 12:30 and were on Lido having lunch by 12:45. My first impression of the Triumph was "wow" --- she is a beautiful ship. Very elegant and not the bright neons of other Carnival ships. We couldn't get into our room until 2:00, so we just hung out on Lido and watched people. Had a hamburger and hot dog...they were really good (and I'm not much of a hamburger person). Got some ice cream, which was yummy, and then headed off to explore the ship a little. We didn't see a serenity area, which we have enjoyed on past cruises -- but we had a balcony room, so we could be "serene" all on our own. Our stateroom was aft on the port side. When we opened the door, we couldn't believe how large the room was. It wasn't quite considered a suite, but it was awfully close! The balcony was also over-size (one lounger, 3 chairs and two small tables). The room had a king size bed on one wall and on the other was a full size really nice sofa. Lots of room to walk around, and the bathroom was also a little larger than a regular size room. We absolutely loved our room and spent a lot of time on our balcony this trip. Dining --- we ate in the MDR every night with an assigned table. Our table-mates were very nice and we enjoyed seeing them every evening. We were not crazy about the new menu, but did try some things we wouldn't normally and the food was always served hot and looked very appealing. Our wait staff was awesome. Very attentive and we never waited on drink refills or anything else for that matter. Breakfast and lunch were on Lido and several mornings, we got breakfast and brought it back to the room and ate out on the balcony. It was simply marvelous! All the crew we encountered on this cruise were great. Our room steward, Aldrin, was really, really good. Probably one of the best stewards we have had out of 12 cruises. The captain and CD kept us informed on Hurricane Rina and our port days were switched so that we could stay ahead of Rina. Only one night did the ship really rock & roll, but even then it wasn't too bad. Sadly, we didn't see any shows, but heard that they were very good. We did spend time in the Casino and did pretty well. The week we were cruising was the last week of the World Series, so every evening we watched a ball game. Had loads of fun in the Sports Bar and on Lido watching it on the big screen (even though the last night was sort of cool). The pizza on Lido was wonderful. We had late night pizza several evenings. The Chinese grill food was also very good. Debark was a breeze and we were off the ship before 8:00 AM. That is probably the best platinum perk Carnival has. We have a 9 hour drive home, so we like to get off as soon as possible. Will absolutely book the Triumph again (soon I hope!!). As for the negative reviews I had read, we were on the 5th cruise after dry dock and the move to the port in Galveston, and they had apparently worked through all or most of the problems that I had read about in previous reviews. One other thing I want to mention is the great service at the Spa. I had services there a couple of times on this cruise and it was really wonderful! I highly recommend the hot stone massage! Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
Booking: We booked online and never had a bit of trouble. We also booked out Excursions online and that too was seamless. We both ordered some surprises from Bon Voyage and the only issue we had there was not asking for an e-mail receipt ... Read More
Booking: We booked online and never had a bit of trouble. We also booked out Excursions online and that too was seamless. We both ordered some surprises from Bon Voyage and the only issue we had there was not asking for an e-mail receipt and not being able to "confirm" our orders. Being a Texas Port, our Drink Tickets got to us after we had our first drinks during departure. Documents: We never had a bit of trouble with documents at any time. The system was easy to use and everything printed very easily. We both have Passports and are glad we did (more later re: debarkation). We made copies of them for shore excursions and should have had them with us but forgot. Not an issue but could have been I guess. Excursions: We booked our Shore Excursions on Carnival's site and had a very trouble free experience. We may have paid a little extra but the convenience and peace of mind knowing that Carnival knew where we were and when we'd be back was worth it to us. The tickets were delivered to our stateroom the first night and everything worked just like clockwork.Packing: We over packed. There I admitted it. We each had a large rolling check bag, a small rolling carryon bag, and a HUGE purse or reasonable backpack. Too much. We both had clothes left over, tools and gadgets we did not use, Jackets we did not need, shoes we did not wear. We did bring a Laptop for downloading pics and budgeting and were glad. Transportation: We live in Nacogdoches, Texas (120 miles N. of Houston) and added a weekend in Galveston to our vacation so we could drive down and be in town all weekend before departure. In reading all the concerns about transfers from Houston Hobby and Intercontinental to Galveston, we feel very fortunate to be able to drive down. So my best advice would be to plan on staying the night before in Galveston and taking a shuttle or walking to the terminal and not trying to juggle arriving the day of departure.Lodging: Even though this is not a review of hotels, I must include; staying at the Harbor House almost next door to the terminal was nearly as nice as the cruise itself. We left our car in their gated parking lot for $20 and walked to the terminal on Monday morning in 10 min. The rooms all have harbor views and are all what I would call mini-suites. $119 - $199 is a little pricey but if you compare that to other hotels in Galveston, it is right in line. The Tremont House is also Downtown and in walking distance but has little parking. Many other hotels on the island have free parking and a free shuttle to the terminal.Parking: As I said, parking at the hotel and walking or taking a shuttle is the way to go but, all the other parking is right across Harborside Drive from the terminal and you can even walk to the terminal from some of them.Embarkation: Never, for a single step, once we reached the door of the terminal, were we ever out of site of a Carnival employee guiding us along the route to the check-in area and then onboard. The process was smooth, the lines were reasonable; the time it took was actually a little less than expected. We left the hotel on foot at 11 am and arrived at 11:10. We were onboard at 12:15. Not bad.Sail & Sign: There was some anxiety regarding how to fund our Sail & Sign Card. We got rid of all our credit cards a couple of years ago and use only cash and Debit Cards. Our regular checking / Debit Card is like everyone else's and contains just enough to pay the bills and day to day expenses, however, we have a Debit Card attached to another checking account linked to a separate savings account that we never use unless travelling. We estimated our Sail & Sign expenses then move TWICE that amount to the other checking account that card debits, so that it would cover any reserved amount and the actual charges. Then when the charges hit and the reserve is reversed, we move the remainder in the checking account back to savings. Worked like a charm.Cash: We used cash for all other expenses and split it up between us so that either of us was not carrying all of it at any one time. Cash in the ports will get you an extra discount sometimes.Ecstasy in General: What a nice ship. Ecstasy is the only Cruise Ship we have been on, and this is our second on her but I am somewhat familiar with commercial shipping and offshore facilities and this is a very nice "old" ship. She is even a little nicer now than in 2005 when we last sailed her. My only two "complaints" about the whole trip is, the window (port) in our Ocean-view Room could have been cleaned of caulk and smears on the outside and, the toilet tissue racks should be on the wall opposite the toilet rather than beside it so you could sit straight on the pot! She was spotless, up to date, and a joy to sail. We will miss her in Galveston even as we look forward to the Magic.Lido Buffet: As soon as we stepped on board we were invited to the Lunch Buffet on the Lido Deck and the feast had begun! They were ready and fully functional and the food was very good. The first thing we did after reading so much about it in the Forums is try the coffee. It was surprisingly good and turns out that it is the same as is served in the MDR and Room Service. The problem is that it sits sometimes and gets stale and overcooked. Stateroom: They said they'd let us in the stateroom corridors at 1:30 and they were done and right on time. The rooms are very nice, spotless, surprisingly roomy, 3 closets, 4 drawers, VERY comfortable bed and bedding, good lighting, nice size shower, flat screen TV, nice freebies, good body wash and shampoo on the shower wall, good towels, plenty of good pillows, adequate simple safe with 4 digit combination, ... Room Steward: She was fantastic. She was from Thailand and just as polite and nice as she was efficient. We never lacked for ice or towels, or service of any sort. We tipped her well on the last morning! She was worth it!Drill: We had the mandatory "Muster Drill" right on time at 3:30. It's nice that you no longer have to show up in your Life Jacket. We never did find out where our actual lifeboats were but fortunately, no icebergs were encountered in the Gulf and the "SS Stockholm" was far far away. Departure: Lines were cast and thrusters were engaged right on time at 4:00 while we were still at Muster. When we were released we went up on deck and bid farewell to Galveston from the Observation Deck right above the bridge. The weather was beautiful, although windy enough that DW "flashed" the upper deck (no beads please), the water in the ship channel was a lovely slime green but the seagulls, Brown Pelicans, and the Bottle Nose Dolphins seemed to love it and escorted us all the way to the Gulf. I am amazed how the water turns from brown to green to a lovely deep blue in just a few short miles even in the Gulf.MDR: WOW! Again after reading the Forums for weeks we were very pleasantly surprised at the quality, quantity, and presentation of the food and the level of service in the MDR. The whole experience was at the level of the very nicest restaurants on the mainland, maybe not the very finest in the world but what most folks would consider a very special evening out. The Appetizers were Spectacular, the Main Courses were a small step down the quality scale at Very Good, the Desserts were Sensational (The Warm Chocolate Melting Cake was everything it was touted to be), the Drink Service was Pretty Good (a little slow), and the Table Service was Outstanding. Our Head Waiter was from Nepal and was very attentive. You ask for hot sauce once and never have to ask again. We chose early dining because that is when we generally eat and wanted the experience of making closer friends with our tablemates than we might with Any Time Dining. It worked! Room Service: The selection is not huge but what we got, mainly morning coffee and Croissants was, right on time, hot or cold as indicated and always very good. The Croissants are buttery and melt in your mouth.Day 1 at Sea: Overnight, Monday, the seas built until we were running into a 50 kt headwind and 12 foot seas. There was a little movement but the stabilizers worked well and I saw no one sick. Not even DW, Jeanell, who is prone to be. She wore wrist bands and took Dramamine. No trouble! Due to the broken cloud cover the sunrise was really nice. Got up at 4:30 and had the deck to myself for a while. Later in the morning, the Serenity Deck was generally just that, SERENE! We could not go up on the Observation Deck due to a 65-70 kt wind over the deck but it was very nice everywhere else.Spa Carnival: DW had the Fire and Ice Manicure on Day 1 @ Sea and the Pedicure on Day 2 @ Sea and loved them both. They were a little pricey and came with some mild pressure to purchase Elimis stuff but all in all a very nice experience.Cruise Formal Night: This night was special in every way. All the folks were lovely, the staff was lively, the food was wonderful and ..... I even remembered how to tie a tie. DW was gorgeous in her Salsa Dress. We saw two teenagers in cut up jeans, tee shirts, and ball caps on sideways. The Maitre d' asked them to remove their hats or leave. They did so. Good for him!!Serenity: The Serenity Deck was just that SERENE. Generally it was anyway. We had one small teen invasion that was quickly repulsed, and one runaway Hot Tub that got to 115 deg before the boss intervened and had it fixed. I'm not sure the stern is the best place for it but I believe it is elsewhere on newer vessels in the fleet. Pretty much our favorite spot on the ship other than MDR.Progreso: We did not spend any time in Progreso proper. We went to Dzibilchaltun and viewed the ruins. Very informative, very organized, and did not take all day as a trip to Chichen Itza. It was hot and humid and we were pooped when we got back. We shopped a little at the terminal and went back on board. Wimps that we are. There were no other ships docked at one of the longest piers in the world. This was my choice of excursions.Cozumel: DW chose Snorkeling in Cozumel. Quite a surprise since she is a very weak swimmer; but it was wonderful. Antonio towed her and two other "terrapods" around behind a float so that all they had to do was breath and look. DW tipped him heavily. I thought she was going to kiss him! The shallow reef and beach area was destroyed by Hurricane Wilma, and has been extensively rebuilt. The coral is growing again, the artificial habitats are attracting fish and it is really amazing to see the progress. While she was being towed, I was able to dive on the reef in 12-20 feet of crystal clear water. We all saw thousands or multi colored fish, new coral, Stingrays, Star Fish, Sea Fans, ...While in Cozumel we did some serious shopping. With the help of Hila, the Shopping DIVA aboard Ecstasy, we were able to find a Ruby Pendant, we had saved (cash) for, that was perfect for DW. We also bought Vanilla, Hot Sauces, Tee Shirts, some costume jewelry, and coffee. Liquor was cheaper onboard so ... We docked at Playa Maya and it was actually a little nicer than downtown where we were in 2005. We shared the dock with Carnival Triumph (Coming to Galveston in the fall as our new 4-5 Day Cruise Ship) but since the area is so much larger than Progreso, it was not really any more crowded than Progreso. We took our S&S cards, our Driver's License, and cash ashore in a $4 watertight neck wallet and it was all we needed. We intended to take photocopies of our passports also and forgot.Day 2 at Sea: What can I say? Serenity, sea breezes, sun, a rain shower, good food, great companions, superior service, a beautiful ship; Friday at sea was magic. Dinner was my experimental evening. Escargot, Chateaubriand, Poached Pear. All fantastic!Fun Shops: The Fun Shops were just fine. A little small on Ecstasy, but just fine. Anything you might need you can get. I started a tradition; I am buying a watch on every cruise. I got a Citizen Echo-Drive Dress Watch for a very good 40% off retail, and a couple of "Box Watches" for gifts.Entertainment: The Comedy was good, the musicians were good and I'm sure the show was good, but again, as on our first cruise, we missed the show. Next time for sure. I wish they put it on more than one night per cruise. Maybe they do on a 7 day cruise?Debarkation: Beginning the night before, the instructions are plentiful, clear, and precise. WE packed up and had plenty room without taking out the extra god we brought. We attached out new Zone Tags and set them outside. They disappeared only to reappear in the terminal the next morning. We were in the third Zone after the Self Service folks; even so, we were off by 10:00 and walking to the car. No muss, no fuss, no hassle! We will try and pack better next time so as to qualify for the Self Service departure.Passports: Get a passport! If, for no other reason, the line in the terminal for customs is MUCH shorter (1/5) than the line for all other guests. It streamlines everything. Just get one!Port of Galveston: The "little" Port of Galveston is just fine and they do a very good job. They will have their work cut out for them to handle the Magic and the Triumph for Carnival, and a Princess ship, and NCL, and Disney but it can be done. There will be some growing pains but, as seamlessly as they handle things right now, my level of confidence is very high that by the summer of 2012, it will be ticking like a clock again.Summary: On a scale of 1-10, this cruise gets a 9.5 and our loyalty to Carnival as our preferred Cruise Line. I'm not saying we will not sail other lines but ... For example, we want to sail Hawaii in a couple of years. NCL bases a ship in Honolulu and you fly directly there and spend seven days in paradise. With Carnival and everyone else, you spend 12-15 days to visit Hawaii and still have to fly to the west coast unless you live there. Future Cruises: We will be booking a Seven Day Cruise out of Galveston aboard Carnival Magic for next summer. Then Hawaii, then Alaska, then .....Link to 200+ pics. Either Copy and Paste to you browser or right click and Open.https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/sredir?uname=112263849042548246386&target=ALBUM&id=5622561170080288449&authkey=Gv1sRgCLuoja6dj-jf8wE&feat=email Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
Introduction My lovely wife, Rosy, slipped on ice, pre-Christmas, and broke her left shoulder. She suffered a lot of pain and has been off sick from work since then. I decided that some hot sunshine would cheer her up and hopefully ... Read More
Introduction My lovely wife, Rosy, slipped on ice, pre-Christmas, and broke her left shoulder. She suffered a lot of pain and has been off sick from work since then. I decided that some hot sunshine would cheer her up and hopefully aid her recovery. Therefore, we looked for a Caribbean cruise, at a good price, preferably departing Florida. There were several to choose from, but alas no 'award' flights available. I had an American Express 2-4-1 voucher, which allowed me to use my BA miles to purchase two tickets for the price of one, on a return flight from the UK to any destination. I'd learnt from the FlyerTalk.com website that the most cost effective use of miles is to travel in either Club World or First class. I found good availability to Houston, Texas and found a 7 day cruise to the Western Caribbean from Galveston, Texas at an excellent price, utilising a $100 discount for the over 55's. We also qualify for on board credit (OBC) through our Carnival share-holding and past guest status. I used 25k more miles to upgrade the outbound flight as I hope the 747 will be fitted with new First, as most Houston flights currently have the latest cabin style. This is also a long daytime flight and so we can take advantage of the extensive wine list and personal service. For years we travelled in economy, where my 6'4" frame fits very snuggly, so it's a real treat to be at the other end of the plane. Last weekend (two weeks from our cruise), Galveston was fogbound and all cruises were delayed. I haven't told Rosy this, as I don't want to worry her, so I hope all is well on March 6! Outbound Journey We usually travel up to London the night before a long flight, but as our flight doesn't leave until 14.20, we decided to travel up in what should be lighter traffic, as it's a Saturday, on the day and leave quite early, allowing more time in the Concorde Room. My mum has just moved to a respite home near Cambridge and wanted some things, so we decided to travel up on Friday 4th and stay at her house, near Cambridge, before driving to LHR on Saturday morning. I found a special offer for parking on the Travel Essentials website, allowing valet parking for the same cost as long stay. Perfect parking are charging us £59.99 for 9 days parking, excellent value. We simply drive to departures, leave our car with their chauffeur and do the reverse on our return. UNWANTED FLIGHT CHANGE On the Thursday night, I received a PM from a friendly Flyer Talk member, informing me that our flight BA197 may be cancelled. This really worried us as it meant we would miss our cruise, if the flight was cancelled. This was about 21.00 and BA in the UK close at 20.00, so I called BA USA and the agent told me that although the flight was still live, it said on our booking ref that it had been cancelled and as we had award tickets we would need to call BAEC in the morning. This stressed us further so I waited 30 mins for BAEC in USA and the agent confirmed that our booking ref showed the flight cancelled. He offered us various options, but the only satisfactory one meant us driving overnight to Cambridge to drop off my mum's things and then drive back to LHR. We knew she'd be upset, but fortunately she was awake at 05.00 and we had a quick chat. We arrived at LHR at 07.15 for the 10.50 flight, but the parking guys kept me standing in the cold for 45 minutes, which delayed our breakfast and Bucks Fizz. Fast Track and check-in were really busy, so we didn't get to the CCR until about 08.30 and no spa treatments were available so we booked the massage chairs and showers, followed by smoked salmon and scrambled eggs for breakfast. I had to change my car hire and book a hotel in Dallas, which took an age on the awfully slow BA wifi. Eventually I used the terminals in the Board room enjoying the comfort of the old Concorde leather seats. This internet was much quicker and I used my Starwood points to book the Westin DFW (3000 points). We changed the car hire for a Saturday collection and will keep our original reservation for the Sheraton Houston North for the Saturday night. Just before we left the comfort of the CCR Terrace, I asked the BA agent if our original flight BA 197 on 5 March, had been cancelled and was horrified to find that they were checking people in and the flight was 'live'. They suggested I email BA customer services, with my 'story of woe'. Something must be seriously wrong with their booking system for things like this to happen! In no time at all, our flight was shown as leaving from gate B34, which meant a bit of a trek. One minute it was showing as Boarding, then the next 'final call', so we rushed along. In the excitement, I initially failed to spot that this flight had new F, so I was delighted. I took some pictures ably assisted by the cabin crew, who were very attentive. We were soon airborne, only allowing me enough time to send a couple of PM's to FT members and post an update. The champagne in F is Taittinger Brut Millesime 2004, which tastes good, but I have no idea as to it's quality. After two days of liquids and Aloe Vera in a Detox diet I'm delighted to be enjoying other liquids. My wife is adorned in a beautiful silky blue dress and she looks lovely, it's great to be alive. I hope Sam, the cat will forgive us for the hurried exit last night! We are about to have lunch, which for me will be salmon and shrimps, followed by a duo of English beef and some cheese and chocolate (don't tell the Detox adviser!). Still to come, cream tea and banana chocolate cake. With three hours to go I still haven't had the cake, but oh dear I have sneaked off to the Club kitchen and indulged in chocolate! All that effort and the calories come creeping back! Maltesers, shortbread chocolate bars all the way from DORCHESTER! Hey, we've still got the cruise to come and Rosy wants to find the Cheesecake Factory, my oh my! I now have burnt butter ice cream and Bailey's with ice, yum yum! We have been having a discussion about the distance from the table that an average stomach is and how important kit is to use a napkin! Pity the poor soul that does the laundry! Now 2 hours to reality, when we land at DFW and presumably meet chaotic immigration, but don't forget queue on the right, where the line moves fastest. Arrival at baggage reclaim presents a further problem, as our bags are still in London, so a nice lady called Ruth, gave us a voucher for a night in the DFW Hyatt, with food to the value of $140 and an ATM card with $300 for replacement clothing. Our AMEX travel insurance allows us a further £750 and we're told that our bags will arrive in Dallas FW on BA193 5 March. We took the shuttle to the Hyatt Regency DFW and had a very comfortable room, but it was now quite late and we were too tired to eat much. We went to bed at 22.00, only to awaken at 01.30 and couldn't get back to sleep, as were so stressed. Next morning we enjoyed our complimentary breakfast and then returned to DFW for our short but bumpy flight to IAH. This was only the second flight that the cabin crew had been told to stay seated, so no drinks. Upon arrival at IAH, we took the shuttle to the rental car centre and they tried to rip us off as we needed what we thought was 1 extra day's rental. I had notified NetFlights.com of our change of circumstances but they hadn't amended our voucher, for which we had booked an economy car for 8 days. Initially they wanted a further $120 for 1 day, but we challenged them and only ended up paying an extra $40 for a full tank of petrol, so we have to return it empty or lose out! We were offered a choice of two cars, either a Ford Focus or Mercury Grand Marquis (a luxury car - we took the Ford - no not really). It was dirty and pretty scratched, so I marked numerous things on the report form. Next, we sought some replacement clothes and a suitcase, but the satnav tried to take us to Miami and we were getting thoroughly cheesed off, so we eventually stopped for coffee and cake at the Cheesecake Factory then bought a few things, but we just couldn't be bothered. Then we called Ruth at DFW, about our missing bags. They'd arrived from LHR and would arrive at IAH on a Continental flight and we could then collect them. We drove to Terminal B and the Continental staff had no knowledge of them and there was no reference on the system, showing them as having left DFW. I threw my arms into the air in disgust and they told me not to get upset! We went to BA in Terminal D and they couldn't find any reference to them, but they were very helpful and told us they would look after us for the return flight. They told us there were to further flights arriving IAH that night so we went back to Term B and whooped with joy as our bags were sitting on their own in the middle of a near deserted terminal. Now anyone could have walked off with them - quite astonishing and the CO staff couldn't care less! We drove to our hotel completely exhausted, but happy we'd been re-united with all our possessions. We were staying at the Sheraton Houston North, which offered free parking or a free shuttle. We'd been upgraded to the Club Floor, with free soft drinks and continental breakfast.We also had a ginormous bed! Sunday 6 March (start of cruise)We sure were ready for our cruise as the last few days had been a nightmare and I hope we'll receive an explanation as to what happened to suggest our original flight had been cancelled. Anyway we had an uneventful journey down to Galveston, avoiding the expensive toll roads by using I-45, which was an excellent road and our economy rental car, a Mercury Grand Marquis - £119 for 8 days, cruised down there with ease. We had a quick walk around then found that from where we had parked, it was an easy drive to the terminal, avoiding the bust traffic approaching from I-45. We dropped off our bags then drove a couple of hundred yards to our pre-booked car park. A short walk to the terminal followed. It took about 30-45 minutes to get on-board and we basked in the warm sunshine, whilst we waited for our cabin to become available at 13.30. My bag was waiting for me, but Rosy's was held back as she had a bottle of champagne in it. It was confiscated as it should have been in her carry-on, which she didn't have! Apparently people carry on alcohol in all sorts of disguises, but Carnival are getting very tough on this. They missed my water, which could have been vodka! We had dinner on a table for six, but no-one else showed until half way through. Carnival is getting far more aggressive with their attempts to sell extras such as bottled water and bar drinks, which can be annoying. The Chocolate melting cake was outstanding, but we are starting to talk about returning to Princess! I fell asleep during dinner and again in the welcome aboard show, so went to bed, but I still awoke at 04.30, blooming jet lag! I am currently enjoying some early morning coffee, whilst most sleep! I think we'll be taking more cruises from nearer home in future. These long flights pre-cruise are too risky. It's so easy leaving from Southampton, UK, 50 miles from home, but the weather is less predictable. Just had breakfast in the buffet, but I'm feeling cold, which is unlike me, so maybe I'm under the weather. I was hoping it would be sunny and warm, but there's quite a stiff breeze blowing. Rosy commented that Carnival may be cutting back on their entertainment budget, as there aren't many craft-based activities. Clear the decks! It's now pouring with rain and everyone's running for cover. That'll sort the chair hogs! Tomorrow, the weather will greatly improve, says the Captain, after this weak front's moved away. Good because we had enough rain and cloud on our 'Dream' cruise! Tonight is the first elegant night, so the baseball caps should be hidden away. Ports of Call Montego Bay, Jamaica We had decided to take the shuttle to town and back, walking wherever we felt like and mixing with the locals, but the shuttle was $15pp, so we decided to walk the 1.5 miles instead, ignoring the constant peeping horns seeking a fare. We walked to the edge of town, when we were befriended by a local, who advised us where to go and where to avoid. We thought nothing of it and continued on. A few minutes later this same man, who claimed to work at the port, again offered some assistance. He just stayed with us and was a very good guide, showing us some interesting places, including the Church of England. By this time I was becoming a little wary and said thanks for the info, but we would buy a hat and some water before returning to the ship. He offered us a beer in an authentic bar, but I was concerned something might be added to the drink, having heard stories of tourists being drugged and robbed. He found what we wanted and sorted a cab back to the ship for $10. Surprisingly he got in too and advised us that his 'guiding services' usually cost about $60 each, but he'd settle for $40. We pretended we only had $30 and gave him 20 saving 10 for the driver. He then got out. On arrival at the port the driver tried to charge us $30 each for the 10 minute ride. We gave him $10 and told him that was all he'd get. This is a cautionary tale, as I consider myself to be very careful, but I think my previous rule should apply. Never talk to strangers! After lunch we walked to the Sunset Beach Resort, which took about 20 minutes and probably costs $10 by cab, maybe per person. This return visit to Jamaica, our fourth, has confirmed what we thought before we came, that we'd be quite happy not to return and we wouldn't trust anything a Jamaican told us. It would often be cheaper and safer to take a London cab! The "all inclusive" resorts seem to be very well cared for and very comfortable, but once you step outside it can be quite scary. Grand Cayman This is a tender port and we were off bright and early at 07.30. We enquired about snorkelling, at tourist information and discovered a place called Eden Rock, where equipment can be rented for $14pp. We have our own and paid for flippers and a vest for me. We saw many multi-coloured fish large and small and it was good value for money. Next we walked about 1 mile out of town to a peaceful retreat called Dart Family Park, which is a National Trust venue, mainly for young children, with a play area and chickens, but it was nice to sit and relax in a rural spot. After this we walked to a bar called 'Hammerheads' where free wifi is available, as well a selection of food and drink, but prices are in local dollars, so multiply by 1.25 for $ US. A typical cocktail was expensive at about $10 including tip. After sampling some rum cake we returned to the ship. Cozumel We have booked a catamaran, sail and snorkel trip for $70pp, really to have everything taken care off, rather than trying to find the best place to snorkel and the transport to get there. The excursion, booked thru Carnival, is run by a company called 'Fury'. They have 5 catamarans, which run from the various cruise ships in port that day. The company also has its own beach, with loungers, sun shades, cabanas, hammocks etc, as well as primitive restrooms. They offer purified water, Daquiries, sodas and beer, all included in the price, both on board and at the beach. Scattered close to the shore are water trampolines, slides etc and kayaks are also available. Parasailing and wave runners can be rented, but Fury discourage this as they cannot be held responsible for any mishaps. Soon after leaving the jetty we stopped to snorkel. This is very well organised by the safety conscious crew. Floatation jackets are mandatory and we all kept to a tight formation. The sea was quite choppy and the current strong, but it was very well run. At collection time, the 'cat' moved around to sort of scoop us all up! Then the bar opened and the staff were very keen to serve us and kept offering refills. I thought the alcoholic drinks seemed quite weak until we left the beach, for the return trip. At the end we were given a farewell talk by the guide, who went on a bit about how impoverished his crew and their families were and how much we should tip them. I didn't like this and tipped the same as I would have without the 'speech'! Disembarkation We got up at 07.45 and grabbed a quick breakfast, eaten on our balcony and we now await our number to be called. Our number '2', was called at about 09.15 along with numbers 1&3 and then had to wait 1.5 hours in an immigration line, the only line for International customers. Why is there a need to treat us in this way? We'd already waited 2 hours to get through Dallas. Our car was parked right across the road, and the journey was very easy. As we had the extra day at the beginning of our car rental, we had to be at IAH by 12.30pm, or they would impose a hefty surcharge, so this means a long wait at the airport, hopefully enabling me to complete this trip report. Unfortunately the First cabin is full for the return, so no chance of the promised u/g dependent upon available space. We were allocated seats 18E,F in the main cabin and no upper deck seats available, but delighted to be on our booked flight and in such comfort. The service, food and drink were all excellent and then most went to sleep, but I always find it difficult to sleep for long, so tend to recline and watch tv. About 90 minutes from landing we enjoyed a quite decent breakfast. We landed on time, but had quite a long bus journey to the terminal. Immigration was quick and we were soon on our way home. Read Less
Sail Date March 2011
Embarkation: Was pretty slow. We arrived at the terminal shortly after noon. We were in line over an hour before getting to the xray scanners. After that, it was faster, but still probably a half hour before we were on the ship. ... Read More
Embarkation: Was pretty slow. We arrived at the terminal shortly after noon. We were in line over an hour before getting to the xray scanners. After that, it was faster, but still probably a half hour before we were on the ship. Cabin: Cabin was roomy. Bathroom seemed well laid out. Shower was big enough and water temperature was very reliable. No bars of soap for shower, only the squirt kind. We knew this ahead of time, so we brought our own bars of soap. I liked that I could lie on the bed and see out the window as we sailed. TV selection was as good or better than any cruise I've been on. Cabin Steward, Bony was good. Food: We were very happy with the food. We ate every night in the Monet Dining Room second seating. Second seating was not our first choice, but I got to like it after the first night. Our afternoon was not rushed like it is when we have early seating. Food was fantastic every night; good variety. Food on the buffet was not a good as the Dining Room, but still good. We noticed the hand sanitizers at the buffet were placed so that hardly anybody used them. They were mounted on the wall, after the guests had already picked up their plates. Ever try to sanitize your hands and hold a hot plate at the same time? One person in our party tried the Fish and Chips just upstairs from the buffet; thumbs down. Burgers by the pool were good. Pizza by the other pool was good. Casino: Payouts seemed better than most ship casinos. Or maybe we were just on a lucky streak. They had a wide variety of slot machines. One complaint; the band playing in the casino was WAY too loud for the comfort of the gamblers in our party. Shows in the big theatre were good. Pool areas seemed well managed. I didn't see any chair saving; a cruise first. On Lido deck, they had the bigger noisier pool midship and the quieter, more relaxed adults only pool in the back. Dislike: Room Service was bad. From day one through day seven, they answered the phone promptly once. All the other times, they put us on hold without even answering first. Hold times were typically 5 minutes and more. While on hold, I was always thinkg, I could just go up to the buffet and get the coffee (all I ever ordered) myself. But, the coffee room service brings is a LOT better than the coffee in the buffet. The buffet coffee isn't awful, but that's the best I can say about it. So, I would usually hold until they picked up. It normally took right at 30 minutes for the coffee to arrive. Like: Softserve ice cream readily available 24 hrs a day. Debarkation: We did the self assist. All the elevators going down were full, so in order to get down to Deck 3, we got on an up elevator, went up a couple of floors then back down to 3. Pretty much walked right off after that. No lines at Customs. Overall: We would do this cruise again. Value was good. Food was good. Hassle factor was low. Galveston is an easy port for us, since we live in Texas. Read Less
Sail Date January 2011
This was our second cruise having taken RC first on a cruise of Alaska. This prompted a number of comparisons most of which were not favorable to Carnival. To be fair, we thought the cruise was good - just not great. It could also be that ... Read More
This was our second cruise having taken RC first on a cruise of Alaska. This prompted a number of comparisons most of which were not favorable to Carnival. To be fair, we thought the cruise was good - just not great. It could also be that we're just not Carnival-type people. Parking at EZ Cruise and the shuttle to the ship were excellent. You can save a few dollars by paying online for the parking. Even though they tell you to show up at 12:30, we got there at 11:30 and there was already quite a line. Given that, the line moved consistently and we were on board by 12:30. We brought a bottle of wine in our carry on and were not hassled about it. Others who tried to bring on more than one bottle per person were not so lucky and had their excess bottles stored until their return. We tried most of the dining venues available. After waiting in the buffet line for breakfast for a few mornings, we went for the seating in the Monet dining room. This proved to be a much better choice as the food was prepared to order and it was a less chaotic atmosphere. The buffet lines moved slowly and we thought the action stations on RC were much more functional. All the folks we were seated with were pleasant conversationalists. For lunch, we mostly did the buffet line on the Lido deck and found the food to be okay. We tried the fish and chips and found them to be wanting. They use tilapia but it is too soft to hold up to the fryer and picks up the taste of the oil. Cod would be a much better choice. The grill offered burgers, hot dogs and chicken tenders all of which were okay. The Mongolian wok seemed to offer the best lunch or mid-afternoon meal as it was made to order. The dinner highlight was the Point Steakhouse. Everything was made to perfection. The corkage fee for our wine was $14 which seemed a bargain as their markup appears to be 3.75X retail. Again the main ding room was clearly a better choice than the buffet even though they mostly had the same food choices. Our assigned dining companions never showed up so we ate along each evening. The afternoon tea was most pleasant and had a number of good choices for tea, finger sandwiches, and desserts. For the most part, we found their desserts to be uninspired. The best dessert on the ship was a piece of carrot cake we bought at the coffee bar for $2.25. It was as good as any carrot cake we've even had and was clearly large enough to feed at least two people. The ship layout takes some getting used to. The Renior dining room is in the middle of the ship which means that you often have to go up and around to get from one part of the ship to another. You also need to know where you are in the ship as you need to take certain elevators to make it up to some decks. We had a balcony room that was slight bigger than we had on RC. One problem we had was that a partition on our balcony came loose 3 different times. Because of the high winds, we kept hearing the partition banging during the night and into the morning. Our shower drain clogged up once and caused a mess but this was taken care of. The magnetic stripe reader on the safe is very sensitive and you need to make sure that there are no fingerprints imparted to your credit card to ensure that the safe will read your card. Carnival offers most of the usual cruise activities. I won the sports trivia contest and we greatly enjoyed the art auction and associated showings. While they had a putting green and offered golf lessons on deck, the golf simulator on RC was much more enjoyable. Contest premiums were some dumb Carnival medals while we got nice tee shirts on RC. Carnival did provide a number of live music choices and we especially liked Claude in the piano bar and Groovey Tunes with Keith. The production shows were mostly good but the magician needs some improvement. One of the best things Carnival has going for them is their mostly excellent staff. We found them to be friendly, courteous, enthusiastic and helpful at all times. Our room steward, Marianne was excellent and we couldn't have asked for better service. Our only minor quibble was that the people at customer service seemed clueless about some questions we asked and indeed gave us some incorrect information. In Jamaica, we did the highlights and shopping tour that was uninspired. Some people who went to a beach said that they were guarded by soldiers with automatic weapons which may be a reflection of the current state of affairs in Jamaica. At Grand Cayman, we did the island tour the highlight of which is the visit to the turtle farm and where you get to hold a turtle if you want. There's plenty of upscale shopping in the downtown area. The people here are friendly, well educated and courteous. They take pride in themselves and their country and the police don't even carry guns - a Carribean Mayberry! Cozumel is probably a great stop for scuba, snorkeling or seeing Mayan ruins. Other than that, it just seemed like a giant tourist trap. The one good thing is that the taxis to and from town are well organized and relatively inexpensive. We did self assist disembarkation and thought that this went relatively smoothly. We'll probably be looking at a different cruise line for next time but Carnival is probably not a bad choice for younger people or those who want to spend a little bit less. Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
We have been cruising for 20 years with our family. We have made many wonderful memories along the way, and this trip was no exception. Each person can do what they want, but you are still all together on the ship. We left our home and ... Read More
We have been cruising for 20 years with our family. We have made many wonderful memories along the way, and this trip was no exception. Each person can do what they want, but you are still all together on the ship. We left our home and drove to Galveston on Sunday morning. No traffic going through Houston - yea! Arrived at port, checked in easily, and we were on the ship by noon. Headed up to Windjammer for a good lunch. Tables were mostly full because everyone was waiting for 1:00 when they could get in their cabins. Throughout the cruise, service was excellent in the Windjammer - taking away dishes, bringing drinks, etc. Our cabins were adjoining Grand Suites and they were beautiful. So much storage space, mirrors everywhere, double sinks in the bath, tub/shower, small refrigerator (which we emptied and put in our own cokes & water bottles), huge double balcony with brand-new brown wicker table & chairs. They were just being unwrapped from their packaging when we arrived. Bedding & curtains looked fresh & new, furniture (couch & 2 chairs) was comfy. A flat screen TV is needed to go with the nice Bose speakers that are in the suite. We looked around inside the ship because it was so cold outside. This is our 3rd cruise on the Voyager, and they are keeping it beautiful. Royal Promenade is great in bad weather. The staff is incredibly friendly, from the ship's officers to the maintenance men you occasionally meet in the hall. Israel was a good Concierge with a great sense of humor. The Concierge lounge was a bit small. Additional chairs had to be brought in to accommodate the nightly crowd. We chose My Time Dining. It worked really well one night, so we made a reservation for the next time, same table. When we arrived, the line to check in was almost to the elevators. We suggest having a separate line for those with reservations and those without reservations so we are not all standing there together for 25 minutes. Service was great in the Magic Flute Dining Room. It's such a beautiful place and the food portions were just right. As Diamond members, we received the coupon books as in previous cruises. They were not as good. Example: instead of a free ($4.95) meal at Johnny Rockets, they only offer a "buy one get one free malt" now. As Suite passengers, we received some nice perks, such as the Tour of the Bridge. Only 15 of us toured this cavernous place Monday morning with a ship's officer. Great fun! Also we had a reception with the Captain and other officers at the 19th Hole. It was very well done, and we enjoyed talking to these intelligent people. We had visited our ports before, but we enjoyed them all. Costa Maya is still being rebuilt, but it is bigger & better than before. We can thoroughly recommend the Voyager of the Seas for everybody. What a great week! Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
What can I say... as always this was a great vacation. From the people we met on the CC board, to those on the ship, our wonderful waiter Vincent (second seating table 351) Peaches in the Spa and Erica the "mystery cruiser, all ... Read More
What can I say... as always this was a great vacation. From the people we met on the CC board, to those on the ship, our wonderful waiter Vincent (second seating table 351) Peaches in the Spa and Erica the "mystery cruiser, all resulted in 7 days to remember. It was hard to say goodbye to new friends. Mike the CD was great, his humor and the way he really seems to care about every is outstanding. When asked he made sure to track down a copy of the Elvis impersonators CK for me. The best Mix and Mingle we have attended. The Mystery Dinner was a lot of fun, the actor playing Linus was "memorable" to say the least. As an "old" Elvis fan, the impersonator was really good, as were the ice show and shows with the RCL dancers and singers . The food was good, not necessarily outstanding but it was good and our head waiter did get our table bananas foster on the last night when I requested it. The dinner at the Mystery Dinner was outstanding! The only 3 things that we found lacking or unpleasant was the shops on the ship were not as good as we have seen before and there seemed to be something "smelly' near the champagne bar and no fish in the aquarium bar - empty tanks. We have only cruised on RCL and see no reason to try any other line. Now if they would get more ports out of Galveston!! Read Less
Sail Date March 2009
I am in no way trying to tell people to go or not to go on this ship. This is just my story..... Embarkation: This went very smoothly. My wife and I used EZ-Park on Santa Fe street and found it to be the best option. This was our first ... Read More
I am in no way trying to tell people to go or not to go on this ship. This is just my story..... Embarkation: This went very smoothly. My wife and I used EZ-Park on Santa Fe street and found it to be the best option. This was our first cruise but I have driven my mother to the pier and it can be a madhouse. EZ-Park drops you right off at the pier and will haul your bags (the Port of Galveston lots do not haul luggage). We got off the bus and walked right into the terminal. Total time in terminal was about 15 minutes. This was our first exposure to Carnival employees. The Check in clerk was nice. I wouldn't call her helpful but she was nice. We then moved over to the Embarkation picture area. Here is where we first saw the true face of the majority the Carnival employees. Uncaring and unhelpful. Not really rude but ambivalent. As we walked to the Embarkation photo area, the Carnival employee told us something that I did not hear. When I asked him to repeat it, he rolled his eyes and said, "I said....stand on the lizard." I don't usually take unsolicited attitude very well but my wife told me to blow it off...so I did. The camera man said nothing, just snapped the photo.... Next.. From there we moved onto the ship it self and the excitement was growing. Like I said...this was our first cruise. My mother had been on 4 previous cruises with Princess (Carnival owned) and raved about the personal attention, the food, the fun activities, and the rooms. So I have to admit, I read all the reviews prior to leaving but still I had a very romantic view of what to expect. Reading these reviews did indeed temper my expectations, but......... We board the ship with Sail and Sign in hand. We get to the front of the line and we were told to, "stand on the feet", our photo was taken, and our Sail and Sign was handed back to us. Not ONCE did ANYONE and I mean ANYONE say, "Welcome Aboard" or "Enjoy your Cruise". Not once. We were basically ushered through the line and left to our own devices. This would have been fine if we had known the layout of the ship. We didn't and it is very overwhelming and confusing. There is loud music and hundreds of people milling around looking just as confused. BUT..the most telling thing was that there were also many Carnival employees standing around. Besides talking to each other, they were not doing much. They were stationed by the elevators but giving no direction. People that just got on board were asking each other where the Lido deck was. We made it up to the Lido and for the first time, a Carnival Employee looked me in the eyes and actually spoke to me. While I was hoping for the aforementioned ,"Welcome Aboard!", I got instead, "Try the drink of the day!" Seven fifty for a drink in a plastic gift "glass". No thanks. We then tried the Lido food. I should actually call it chow. It felt a lot like a military chow line. Grab a plate and get in line. The cheeseburgers were decent. Nothing great but nothing terrible, the hot dogs were actually very good, the fries were OK if you didn't mind a random assortment of hairs from either employees or other passengers. The soft drink card was also being pushed VERY heavily. Couldn't justify $25 bucks each for one so I passed. The other drinks available were Iced Tea, Lemonade, water, coffee, coca, and orange juice. The lemonade was by far the superior drink. The water was foul. Bad tasting and smelly. They wanted you to spend $10 bucks on their bottled water in the neat little holder they included and it showed. The iced tea was decent. I don't think they used the same water for the iced tea, lemonade, or coffee. They were all decent. By the time we got done eating and listening to VERY loud Calypso music, our room was ready and off we went. The Room: We were on the Empress deck (deck 7) which is the same deck you embark on. When we got to our room, the first thing we noticed it that it was very bright and clean. It seemed smaller then in the photos but it was nice and clean. As with most things on this ship, there was a downside. We had an ocean view room and I am sure the ocean would have looked lovely if you could have seen out of the window. It was caked with grime and salt. It was very hard to see out of it clearly. Other passengers complained of the same thing. It rained our first night out and that cleaned off the grime somewhat and made it easier to see. T here was a 27" LG Flat screen in the room. We had 3 local channels from Denver, 4 ship channels, 4 CNN channels, and 2 movies channels. The movie channels had the same movie looped all day until noon the next day when the movie changed. One of the movie channels had no sound. The bathroom was clean and the shower was fine for a 6'6 guy like me. A knock on the door signaled the arrival of our Room Steward. His name was Prajuab from Thailand and while his English was lacking, he made up for it in his ability to help and his genuine concern for our comfort. He was a huge bright spot and gave us hope. We relaxed and explored the ship until the evacuation drill and then we set sail. we left about 4 pm. We headed back to the room and our luggage was there. We unpacked and got ready for dinner. The towel animals left every night were very, very neat. Dinner and the Food in general: Three words.....Quantity Over Quality. Dinner was the first real meal we had on the ship. The menu consisted of (main courses only) Filet Mignon, Baked Ziti with Italian sausage, a Tilapia dish, and Sweet and Sour shrimp. We were at a table with 3 other couples. The waiter, like others before him, seemed totally uninterested in our comfort. Between the off color, sexually themed jokes and blah attitude, the cruise was off to a banner start. My filet was cooked well but tasteless. My wife said the same. Everything had an airline quality to it. Out of 8 people at out table, 5 ordered the filet and 3 ordered the Ziti. Out of the 3 folks that ordered the Ziti, not one of them took more than 3 or 4 bites, it was that bad they said. They turned down our waiters offer of something else and went to the Lido deck to eat. Not that the food was any better, just different. We opted to not return to the dining rooms again as the food wasn't all that great anyway and we got stuck with the 8:30 pm dining time even though we asked for 7:00 pm. We had our other meals on the Lido. Sub-par food but that's where the 24 hour pizza bar, the deli, and 2 buffets were. The food there had the same overall theme & flavorless but tons of it. I ended up eating more pizza then I ever have in my entire life. It was very good and usually always hot and fresh. The deli was decent but the lines were usually long and the guy running it was VERY slow. We had breakfast and lunch on the Lido most days. If I had to describe it, I would say it was an absolute MADHOUSE. Very long lines and scramble for tables made for a stressful start to the day. Breakfast was decent. Scrambled eggs that were powdered, good bacon, cold sausage, good ham and decent French toast and hard as a rock pancakes. If you want a fresh egg, go to the omelet station or ask for one if you can find anyone. Lunch usually had a carved meat of some kind, veggies, and some type of fish or shrimp. Again..decent but not really good. It's like someone left all the flavor out of the recipes. Bland would be a good word. One final note on the food service. Make sure you know when meals are served. If they say that breakfast ends at 10am, then it ENDS at 10am. No mercy. At 10am and one seconds, the food is gone and youll be damned to get anyone to care. Same goes for Lunch and Dinner. On ship entertainment: My wife and I didn't partake of much of it. Incredibly large crowds and long lines were not what we wanted so I offer no critique. We did hit the casino a couple of times and had a good time. I won $60.00 one night but that is it. The slots are VERY tight. Here is something I found that I am not sure if it is a secret or even real but I found that if I won on a slot machine, anything from $5 to $20, and I hit cash out right after, I would 9 times out of 10 hit on the same machine right after. I won $15 on a machine and accidentally hit cash out. I dropped the money right back in and hit $20. Then I lost all but $10, accidentally hit cash out again, put it all back in and hit $40. This was a trend. One word of advice, play with cash. You get charged a 3% fee to set it up on your Sail and Sign card. Ports and Excursions: We found out when we got on board that our excursion for Cozumel had been cancelled. We discovered this when our tickets were delivered for our excursion in Progresso which was our second port. We went to the Purser's desk and it was only then we were told about the cancelation. This was a 8 pm the night before we arrived. I really wish someone would have told us about it sooner so we could have made other plans but it ended up for the best cause we had a much less stressful time just exploring Cozumel at our own pace. The ship docked in Cozumel about 2 hours late due to the weather the night before. No one was told about this until we were supposed to dock in the morning and we had not. There were many, many angry people that had excursions planned (a few even had weddings planned). They were very upset that we weren't told about the delay even though the Captain had known about it before dinner the previous night. We got off the ship in Cozumel (via a tender) and spent the day exploring Cozumel by horse and buggy and on foot. Shopping and exploring in Cozumel can be described in one word&..BARTER! Bring your bartering hat and stand your ground. The horse and buggy guy wanted to charge us $40 each to ride up and down the pier. When we were done (my wife speaks Spanish which helped) we went the length of the pier and way, way back into the REAL Cozumel, stopped at a local market wayyyyy off the tour path, stopped a Corpus Christi Cathedral to say a prayer and back (over an hour total) for $30 bucks total. A $10 tip made the guy very happy. Everyone in Cozumel takes American dollars (except the stuff way in the back). The prices there a VERY inflated. Most Americans just pay it. DON'T DO THAT!!!! Bargain!! If it is marked $8 offer $5 they will either counter or say no. Go from there. If they never get to a price you like, leave. Two things might happen. They will either run after you and say OK or you walk a street over and find the same crap and they will take your price. In Progresso, we took the all inclusive Resort Beach Break excursion. This is NOT the Corona Beach Break. This is the Beach Break that drives you to a private resort deep in Progresso/ Merida. The resort is called the Hotel Reef Yucatan. It is a private resort that allows cruises to uses their facilities. It was amazing. Beautiful beach, beautiful pool, free booze, free, cokes and juice and a buffet of bar food. We spent the day swimming in the ocean, swimming in the pool, laying around in a hammock, and mainly just relaxing. ****A word of warning to people with Children. Be very careful on this excursion!!! Booze is free and some of the adults take full advantage of it. By the end of the day, the bus ride back to the port was VERY loud and sometimes R-Rated. Very drunk people telling off-color jokes can be a tad uncomfortable for parents of young children.******* Overall Impression: My overall impression was very poor. The crew spent the entire trip being very ambivalent or just flat out not giving a crap. The exception was our room steward. My wife and I decided we were not happy with the tipping arraignment (you pay $10 per day per person tips on your Sail and Sign) we found ourselves tipping the folks we felt went above and beyond and anyone else that helped. Since we were doing that, we went to the Purser and adjusted the $10 per day tipping on our bill. You can set it to whatever you like from $0 to whatever. This is not very well advertised. We didn't feel it was right to tip people that had no impact on our trip whatsoever. On the final day, we handed the room steward $50 bucks and he divided it up among his crew of 4. We gave him an extra $20 and he said he would also spilt that up. It ended up being more than they would have gotten from us to begin with as the tip break down would have given them a total of about $32 bucks to split up. He was very happy and I made sure I mentioned his name in the comment card as being exceptional. We tipped as we went and it worked better for us. If you are looking for a romantic getaway, look elsewhere. This is a VERY loud ship. Everywhere you go from the Casino to the dining rooms (all of them), to even your room sometimes, is very loud. Music, chatter and just overall crowd noise are persistent. My opinion is that this ship is for two kinds of people. People too old to care and people too young to care. With drinks costing $6 or more it can get pricy. If you are going on a trip with a lot of people, you might have a better time as well. Keep in mind there are only about 12 total rooms with a balcony and they are all suites. None of the Standard ocean view rooms have balconies. In closing, we had fun but mainly when we were away from the ship. We didn't have a bad time on the ship&just not a good time. We realized it wasn't for us. The crew never asked us if we were enjoying our cruise and they acted like they already had their tips so why bother caring. At the end of the cruise, the cruise director spent 30 minutes of the Disembarkation talk almost begging us to write a positive review of our cruise and not to let 1 bad experience make us write a negative review. We didn't just have 1..we had lots. Some folks had a wonderful time but, sorry Carnival & we won't be returning. One last note......When you get off the ship, if you are able, use Self Assist disembark. You get off 2 hours before anyone else does. We docked at 6 am and were able to Self Assist disembark at 7:15am. We were off the ship, off the bus, and in our car and on the road by 8:30am. Regular color coded disembarking didn't start until 9:30am. Read Less
Sail Date September 2006
Left on October 2nd, 2005. Was cloudy and windy almost at every port. Leaving Galveston: Watched the ship leave port. Was windy but thoroughly enjoyed myself. Montego Bay, Jamaica: Went on 2 excursions..the Pirate Boat Cruise and the ... Read More
Left on October 2nd, 2005. Was cloudy and windy almost at every port. Leaving Galveston: Watched the ship leave port. Was windy but thoroughly enjoyed myself. Montego Bay, Jamaica: Went on 2 excursions..the Pirate Boat Cruise and the Highlights and shopping. I would recommend the 2nd one. The tour guide, Sandra, was very informative about Montego Bay and its developments. Pirate Boat Cruise was okay..nothing to shout about. Cayman Islands: Went on the submarine excursion and Stingray City, Turtle Farm excursion. Both were excellent. Stingray City and Turtle Farm was unbelievable. Again, great tour guide. Cozumel, Mexico: Went on Xcaret excursion. Great Margarita's. Good waterpark. Debarkation: Seems like the debarkation process is a mess. Maybe its customs fault but we had to wait in deck 9 or 10 till 1pm. Only water was offered to us. People were getting upset as they were getting hungry. Carnival should feed passengers having to wait past 12noon, at least some finger foods to avoid mad passengers. Again, our bags were left at the Customs area. It was easy to find the bags but there were bags piled everywhere. Passengers had no idea where to go. Need a better system. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the cruise. Would do it all over again. The Vegas style shows were awesome,lots of credit to the Carnival Conquest dancers, the cruise director was awesome, the Carnival Conquest Band was exceptional. Big Band Day was great. Read Less
Sail Date October 2005
Here are a few random thoughts based on my experience: -Dining with Ariel/Jorge/Franco in Botticelli was flawless! I never had an empty plate sit in front of me for more than 60 seconds. When I commented to Ariel that the jalapeno sauce ... Read More
Here are a few random thoughts based on my experience: -Dining with Ariel/Jorge/Franco in Botticelli was flawless! I never had an empty plate sit in front of me for more than 60 seconds. When I commented to Ariel that the jalapeno sauce wasn't very spicy, he brought me chopped jalapenos the rest of the week. We all really enjoyed the food. The baked Alaska parade on the last night was wonderful. Sabatini's was good, but service in the regular dining room was far superior. -Belize was late, with most excursions cancelled, we started to venture outside the cruise terminal, but then thought better of it. Belize City made me a bit uncomfortable. Later in the cruise, I talked with a Texas State Trooper, who confirmed my unease, so it wasn't just me. -Had a good time in Costa Maya. Took the Unimog trip (they don't really use Unimogs anymore, but Princess still calls it that). They take you to an awesome stretch of beach. Real good tour guides on this one. -Grand Cayman - Our stingray/snorkeling, turned into stingray only, so we got a 50% refund on the excursion. -Cozumel was a very nice stop. There were a handful of tour guides at the exit of the cruise terminal offering 3 hour, around the island tours, for $20-30 pp. It was fun spending the day with a local. He really enjoyed showing us his island. -The whole ship's crew were so friendly and courteous throughout the trip. Read Less
Sail Date March 2005
Background - This is our third cruise, second with our three children. Our other cruises were on the Carnival - Carnivale May 1985 and the Royal Caribbean - Grandeur of the Seas March 2003. This trip we traveled with two other families ... Read More
Background - This is our third cruise, second with our three children. Our other cruises were on the Carnival - Carnivale May 1985 and the Royal Caribbean - Grandeur of the Seas March 2003. This trip we traveled with two other families that also had teenagers. We drove from Northwest Arkansas to Galveston Friday night and stayed at the Holiday Inn Express on Seawall Blvd. Saturday morning we were able to walk across the street to the beach. The hotel allowed us to park our cars at the hotel for the week and shuttle to and from the port for $5.00. The hotel was very nice, the two double beds were small (we have a king at home). At noon the hotel loaded up our luggage and drove us to the port which was only 15 minutes away. Embarkation - After watching our luggage get loaded on the porters cart we headed inside. Even though we had express check-in, we still had to fill out some last minute forms (any medical conditions in the past 72 hours & approval for children to travel). In less than 15 minutes we were off to have our embarking photo taken off to the ship we went. Saturday on the ship - We stopped at the Pursers Desk to have some of the kids cabins reassigned. At time of booking we had to show a person of at least 18 in each room. After finding our rooms we went looking for the table where we could change our dining arraignments. Our travel agent had assigned one of the families to first seating instead of the second seating. By the time we found the error, second seating was full and they were put on a waitlist. After going to two different places, we found the place. They were able to change them to second seating for the second night on. Saturday night we made reservations for all of us at the PC dining room. After these changes were made, off to the dining room for lunch, we can have pizza and burgers anytime. After lunch we went to the cabins to unpack, all the luggage had arrived. We had an inside cabin on the Caribe deck room C521. The room was nice with a large mirror over the writing desk and make-up dresser. The closet was large enough for us to hang all of our clothes. The shelves did not have enough space for our clothes. They did have a safe in the closet where you enter a 4 digit number. The room did have a small refrigerator that had room for an ice bucket and cokes. When I brought back a plate of food from the dining room, the plate was too big for the refrigerator. One complaint that I heard, was that the room did not have enough outlets. Most of the staterooms are on decks 12 (Aloha), 11 (Baha), 10 (Caribe), 9 (Dolphin). The dining rooms, theaters, bars were below. The pools, sundecks, nightclubs were above. . The shipped left on time and we went to the upper decks to view the coastline. It was very windy on the upper decks. These strong breezes would cause the boat rock a lot for the next 2 days. After dinner in one of the PC dining rooms (we had reservations for 8:00) we went to the Princess Theater to listen to the comedian. In the middle of his performance his microphone went dead and the Captain came on. He said that due to a medical emergency (later we heard that a lady had fallen and broken her hip and had internal bleeding) that we were turning around and heading back to Galveston. Due to some weather in the area, it was not possible to send a helicopter. At 4:30 in the morning, they ask some passengers to vacant their rooms as the helicopter was there to pick up the lady and her family. They wanted the people out of their rooms as a safety precaution when they were dropping the basket. By this time we were only 3 miles from the port. Sunday - Day at Sea - Today was a planned day at sea and good day to explore the ship. At the Pursers Desk they had handy pocket maps of the ship. This came in very handy the first few days as this was a big ship and some places it was like a maze to get to them. I had breakfast in the dinning room. In the dinning room, you had a much more limited selection than in the Horizon Court, but not of their daily special. Sunday they had Eggs Benedict in the dinning room but when I went upstairs with my wife they did not. The Horizon Court had a very selection of items. For room service you only have a section of cold items to eat (reads and cereals) the only hot items were coffee and tea. Late morning the Captain the announcement that due to the turn around, we would not go to Belize, but would have a day at sea. We should arrive at Costa Maya Tuesday morning at 6:30 am. Sunday evening was the first of two formal nights. After getting dressed we went to the atrium to have our pictures taken. The Captain made his appearance and told us that there were over 2,900 people on the book with close to 800 kids. I never noticed the kids until Friday when people were getting the last minute pictures. If you plan on having your picture taken, plan on getting there at least 1 hour prior to diner. The good part was, they were serving free cocktails while you were in line or standing in the atrium. The boat was still rocking a lot. Tonight after dinner they were to serve the Birthday, Anniversary and other Special Occasion cakes. Five of our 16 people did not make it through dinner. I think the boat is so large and when the wind blows across the ship, it tends to rock, just like a semi when it is traveling down the highway. They did serve these cakes to us the following night. It was like a Boston Crème Pie with a thin layer of strawberry glaze on top with a thin chocolate band around it. We took it back to our room to eat later. The Hypnotist I was told was very good. He performed later in the week, but ended up with only 3 people out of 20. People said it was not as good as Sunday night. Many of the shows were held in the Vista Show lounge. It is a nice theater but has some large columns in the middle that can block your view if you are sitting in the back half. Monday - Extra day at sea - An extra day at sea. At least I did not have to get up at 5:30 to get off the boat at 6:30 as originally scheduled in Belize. Of all the ports of call that they had to cancel, Belize would have been the one. They did refund us $7.00/person on our shipboard account for port charges. Seas were still rough, at least the boat still was rocking. Tuesday - Costa Maya - Arrived at Costa Maya at 6:30 in the morning. The water was very rough. Many of the snorkel tours were cancelled. A Royal Caribbean ship was not able to dock due to the rough seas. The men of the group were off early. We looked at some of the shops as you get off, then we got a taxis to the fishing town of Majahual. This is not much of a town, but if you wanted to buy anything, you probably could get it here. The boys were asked if they wanted illegal stuff, pipes, and Cuban cigars (I'm sure they are not real Cubans). We just sat under and open air hut next to a bar having a few drinks. It has been a long time since I have had a beer at 10:30 in the morning. There were people on the beach selling little hand made items of having your picture taken with local wildlife for a fee. We were back on the boat by 3:00 for a 4:00 cast off to Grand Cayman. My son bought some rum and when he got home he was reading one of the bottles that he had bought and it was bottled in Cuba. Wednesday - Grand Cayman - We arrived in Grand Cayman around 10:30 boat time. Grand Cayman is on Eastern Time (1 hour ahead of boat time). We were one of eight ships in port this day. We caught an early tender off the boat. They had made an announcement that there was no waiting to get off the boat. We did a little shopping before meeting up with our tour guide. I had booked a private tour with Native Way Watersports for our party of 16 to Stingray City and Coral Gardens snorkel. They met us at the dock and took us by mini bus to the marina. We boarded a boat that could hold at least 30 people and set sail for Stingray City. We traveled at least 2 miles when we saw a circle of boats and people standing in water that was only knee deep. After giving us our equipment and a short orientation we got into the water. We were able to pet, hold, kiss and feed the stingrays for at least 45 minutes. We saw some boats come up that some people said had at least 500 people on them. The guides showed us the underside of a stingray, the difference in the males and females. The females are the bigger ones. We then boarded the boat to snorkel. The driver asked us if we wanted to go to the gardens or the reef. The gardens had more fish and the reef more coral. We choose to go to the reef. The reef had a lot more fish than what we saw on a shore snorkel at Cozumel two years ago. During the snorkel that leader was finding Conch shell and bringing them to the boat. He then showed us how to make a small hole in the shell to get the meat out. He would then clean it and past the meat around to eat. He then gave us the shell to take back home with us. On the way back to the pier they provided us with Rum Punch and water. Not until we were on our way back to the pier in the boat did he ask for payment. When we arrived at the pier, we had the choice to be dropped off at the ships tender port or at Seven Mile Beach. We got all the service for $30/person. We were able to do a little shopping before catching a tender back to the ship for our 6:00 departure. Back on the boat they had Caribbean night. The only thing that did not make since was that we had Caribbean night in the dining rooms earlier in the week. On our way to Cozumel, the seas were very calm as was the rest of the cruise. Thursday - Cozumel - We arrived around 10:00. We signed up for the Palancar Reef snorkel through the cruise lines. When we booked this on line, it said that only 20 people were able to go. When we met just past the pier, we had close to 40. I do not know if they opened it up to other cruise ships or allowed more to go. The boat was big enough for this amount of people, but you were getting kicked in the head by other snorkelers. We were not able to go to Palancar Reef as the seas were too rough. Instead we did do snorkels within sight of the ship. The first one was in water about 10 - 15 deep. We saw lots of coral and fish including a school of Silver jacks. This snorkel lasted about 30 minutes. We then boarded the boat and went closer to the boat where the water was up to 65 feet deep. The first snorkel wiped me out, so I stayed on the boat. The boat had Rum Punch, water and a keg of beer. On the drive around the ships, while the developed some underwater pictures that they had taken and were selling for $10, they did some Tequila shots and drank. After getting back to the ship, we quickly changed clothes and a piece of pizza or burger on deck before getting a taxis and heading to Carlos and Charlie's. We had 4 "yard" drinks and some beef fajitas. The bill was over $58 USD. Standing in line to get on the ship, there was two 16 girls who spent the afternoon in Fat Tuesdays drinking. They were loaded. In Mexico, they will serve any body anything if you have the money. This was the second of two formal nights. People were dressed up, but not as much as Sunday night. Dinner this night had lobster on the menu. My wife & I are not big lobster fans, but wanted one on the side. I think our waiter brought us each 3 lobster tails. Friday - At Sea - This is our last full day on the boat. This was the first time all week that I noticed all the kids. They were all hanging around the photo gallery looking & buying pictures. If you see any pictures you want, get them early. Many are taken down and placed into boxes. We found some that we wanted and they were torn. They would reprint them, but they would be available only after 10 pm. The prices for the 8 x 10's are $19.95 each. If you receive some free 6 x 8 photos are part of your shipboard credit, they are only good for informal shots (getting off the boat at ports & shots taken around the dining table). Today they had the cooking demonstration & galley tour. The show as very good and funny. Following the show we walked through the galley. We did not see much of the kitchen, but did have many of the carvings in fruit and chocolate displays that you would see at other cruise ships midnight buffets. Dinner tonight was American Night. Some of the items on the menu were Prime Rib and Turkey. Tonight was the only night that they did any kind of show in the dining room. They turned the lights off and had a parade of waiters with Baked Alaska. Disembarkation – They wanted the majority of your bags by the time you went to dinner Friday night. We placed our one remaining bag that we were not going to carry out just before we went to bed. Since we drove, we had silver bag tags and were one of the last ones to be called. After breakfast we went back to our room to be called. After waiting for over two hours, we decided to go to immigrations and stand in line. Make sure you use the center stairs or elevators and not the back. The line to the Vista Show Lounge went through the photo gallery to the Wheelhouse Bar. At the beginning after you went through immigrations you have to wait again for you color to be called to leave the ship and go through customs. About 9:30 they announced that if have gone through immigrations you could leave the ship. It is not necessary to carry your carry on bags with you to immigrations; we left ours in the room. You just need you key card, completed customs form, photo ID, & birth certificate or passport. My children did not have passports and were asked questions like birth date, address, school name, home room teacher. Other members in our group were not asked anything. After picking up our carry-on bags at the room, we left the ship. We got a porter to pick up our bags that were lined up by bag tag color, went through customs (just handed them the form). The porter unloaded our bags at the curb and we waited for our shuttle bus to arrive. Even with us going before our color was called, it was 10:30 when we arrived at the curb, just when our shuttle was to arrive. Food – The food was good, about the same as Royal Caribbean. Princess does not have the fancy midnight buffet (replaced by the galley tour) or the chocolate buffet. We really missed the chocolate buffet. The Horizon court food was good, but finding a place to seat at times was a challenge. The pizza was a good thin crust with new toppings available everyday. The hamburgers were very good, better than what they served in the dining room. The brats were mild but good. The Horizon Court was a 24 hour place to eat. They had the same items on the buffet that the main dining rooms were serving at night, including lobster. They would have clothe table clothes and napkins, the only difference it was in a buffet style arrangement. We did not go to any of the specialty restaurants. We could not see spending extra money. Room Service – We only had room service twice for breakfast. All the items to eat were cold type, cold cereal & pastries. On the order form, it had half hour windows starting at 7 – 7:30 to have delivery. Some people wrote in when they wanted it and it came around that time, especially if you wanted it before 7:00. You could give them a tip in cash at time of delivery or when you signed the back of your order form stating you received the food, you could charge your tip (you state how much) to your ship board account. MUTS – We watched the last 10 minutes of a movie one afternoon. The picture was very clear even in a bright day. The sound was not too loud (I have been to indoor theaters that were much louder). For the evening shows they cover all the deck chairs with special “Movie under the Stars” slip covers and place a blanket on the chair. After dinner we went up to watch a movie and with the humidity at 96% all the covers were damp. I lasted about half an hour before I fell a sleep. The picture quality was even better at night than it was during the day. Where they place the speakers and the angles they had them set, the sound was not noticeable in other areas around the screen. Activities – There always thing to do on the ship. I never made it to Skywalkers at night. The disco never really started until around 11. Some of the shows that they had in the Vista Lounge could have been better placed in the larger Princess Theater. We took a couple of ball room dance classes. They needed an area much bigger that what they had. The ship had two walking or jogging tracks. The one on the upper deck was 10 laps to a mile. The one on the lower decks was 3 laps to the mile, but you had to up and down some stairs. Gym – You have to enter the gym through the spa. At certain times of the day, they had lines 3 deep to get on some of the equipment. They even had sign-up sheets to ride the bikes. Shops – They had around 5 shops on board the ship. Two were for jewelry, one perfume, one mostly women’s clothes (did have some men’s) and one for souvenirs. The prices were reasonable. On Friday in one of the dining rooms, they had a “pre inventory sale”. Some was of some broken crystal, souvenirs of earlier ports of call. We got her late as we were at the cooking show & galley tour. You need to get there early for the best selections. Lounges & Bars – There a total of 14 bars on the ship. Some are not open during the day, like Skywalkers during the day. Snookers was a small bar with TV’s on all the walls located by the Princess Theater. I believe this was the only indoor location where you could smoke. I am not sure I ever saw someone behind the bar there. The price for the drinks was reasonable. $3.95 - $5.95 - $7.95 for small, medium and large plus a 15% tip. Most of the drinks were served in glasses found in most low to mid range restaurants. I never did see a glass hurricane shape glass (served as drink or in the gift shop) for my collection. Coke cards were available for $25. They would give you a metal glass with Coke, Diet Coke, or Sprite printed on the side. They would put a “Coke” sticker on your key card. All you had to do was show them you card to get served. You did not have to carry the glass around with you. This was good for fountain drinks only. They had Coke, Diet Coke, Sprite, and Mr. Pibb. A fountain drink was $1.00 and a can was $1.50. Summary – The ship was very nice. Yes there were some places where the carpet was worn. With over 1 million passengers a year going through this ship you are going to see some wear. I did see a person one afternoon measuring some of the carpet, I guess for replacement. I am not sure bigger is always better. The size of it may have caused the rocking when the wind was hitting it on its Starboard of Port sides. With the automatic $10/day tipping, I am not sure we got as good of service. On our last cruise we tipped more than the recommend amount to some of the people, but I did not this time. I did not want to go to the Pursers Desk to change it, plus I am not sure they earned it. The kids programs were good, but they leave out things for the 18 - 20 year olds. They can not go to the casino, not drinking of any kind (RCCL serves beer to 18-20). Our 18 - 20 year olds (we had 5 in our group) did not like this cruise as well as RCCL's Grandeur. If you have any questions please email at: jimhill@cox-internet.com. On the subject line mention “Princess Cruise.” Read Less
Sail Date March 2005
This is a cruise we will never forget but unfortunately for the wrong reasons. We booked our cruise through RCI (booking was easy and paperwork arrived as promised). We are in our late 30's traveling with three children ranging in age ... Read More
This is a cruise we will never forget but unfortunately for the wrong reasons. We booked our cruise through RCI (booking was easy and paperwork arrived as promised). We are in our late 30's traveling with three children ranging in age from 4 to 11. This was our first cruise. We sailed on the Elation during Thanksgiving week. We are seasoned travelers who have ventured as far as Southern Africa with our kids. Our home is in Houston. This review will be blunt and to the point. If you are accustomed to staying at properties such as the Hill Country Hyatt, Ritz Carlton or any 4 star hotels then this is not a cruise for you. 1. Food - Not memorable. Dining room service is mediocre and often slow. The European head chef was very proficient at creating elaborate menus but could not deliver when a ship was fully booked. Sauces often lacked consistency and the meats (beef) where tough. Even the desserts where ordinary and tasteless. The wine list was ok but by the fifth night the top flight wines where sold out. Eating in the Tiffany's restaurant was not as a good as Denny's, although my kids thought it was as nice as a kid's summer camp dining room. Pizza 24 hours a day may sound inviting but after 4 days even the kids wanted a change. Note: We had requested a 6:15 p.m. dining room seating (we have a 4 year old) and ended up being assigned the 8:00 p.m. seating. My 40th birthday was the second evening. My wife had ordered a cake in advance but we never did get to celebrate as a family since the kids would not sit through an 8:00 p.m. dinner. After 2 days of pleading we where finally moved to the 6:15 p.m. seating. 2. Ports of Call - Don't bother getting off the ship unless you enjoy scuba diving or snorkeling. Progresso and Belize are as inviting a Juarez, Mexico. 3. Kid's Camp - Our 4 year old was entertained at times. The staff for his age group was very professional and eager to please. Our daughters never had much fun. A direct quote from our eleven year old was "cheesy." 4. Services - Our cabin was a large suite with a really big balcony. The cabin staff did a fantastic job of cleaning and converting the cabin to sleeping 5 at night. When we called for the room steward from the room phone we never once got a response. This was very annoying. I found the ice cooler myself which was hidden in a corridor cabinet. Bar staff throughout the ship where excellent. Drinks are inexpensive. My wife ordered a birthday room decoration set up in advance via the Internet and it was really nicely done. The birthday cake was also very good. 5. Spa - Huge and professionally run. Not a complaint here. 6. Entertainment - Average way off Vegas strip quality. We may cruise again but not on this ship. Read Less
Sail Date November 2004

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