My wife and I embarked on our second Carnival cruise and fourth cruise together overall, the other two being on Royal. To be honest, we went in with low expectations for this cruise mainly due to horror stories we have heard about debarking from Galveston but also due to our previous experience with Carnival which had been somewhat underwhelming. We really enjoy newer boats with the new bells and whistles. I write that to set up the fact that we were genuinely impressed with the Ecstasy. The ship had plenty of activities, a great cruise director, an awesome slide in the 'Waterworks' section, a tranquil aft adults only Serenity section, a more than adequate fitness area, good food, and wonderful service. Considering this boat was 30,000 tons smaller than the next smallest ship we had sailed on, we couldn't believe the amenities that they managed to pack in. The only way that we could tell the ship ran out of room so to speak is that it only had one pool which was extremely crowded on sea days. We were still able to get a chair near the pool when we wanted however and enjoyed our days sitting beside. The water slide made me feel ten years younger since it afforded me an easy opportunity to interact with my two nephews. It is a large enclosed slide that offered hours of fun. The food was much better than our previous Carnival cruise and in general was better than we were expecting. On the last day my wife ordered a vegetarian Indian dish that was our absolute favorite dish on the cruise. Other meals included cruise standards such as lobster, various styles of steak, escargot, etc. The pizza on this cruise was the best of the four that we have been on. Another big surprise for us were the lines which always seemed to be under control and I never felt like I waited more than a few minutes for anything. The casino is smaller than most while still offering plenty of gaming options. A word for the Carnival and those who follow the odds, I will not be using Carnival Casinos again until they cease using automatic continuous shuffling machines at the blackjack tables. As far as shows are concerned we went to the Quest show and enjoyed it immensely as it is a Carnival tradition. We went to only one of the 'revue' shows and only set through half of it. That style of entertainment is not really our thing. The cruise director Steve did play a mean fiddle in the show that we went to which made the show worth it and he is the first cruise director that I ever had that made me regret missing the debarkation talk as he was apparently hilarious in it (according to my family). Our only real complaint about the cruise had nothing to do with the ship or Carnival at all and that is that debarkation in Galveston is a total nightmare. Our biggest tip is to use the porters as you enter the customs area as they let you bypass a line and can eliminate more than thirty minutes of waiting.
We took a private tour with Ralph from William Lawson Tours and he pretty much made the trip. We could not say enough good things about him and would highly recommend him to anyone traveling to Progreso, especially those who have a negative impression of the port. We toured Merida as it was too rainy to go to Uxmal as originally planned. We visited several cathedrals and the Mayors building and had local ice cream which was to die for. We then went and had a traditional Yucatecan meal at a local restaurant and spent an hour in food heaven. I look forward to my next foray into this port.
We enjoyed this port as well, how could you not. We booked Passion Island as they had an open bar for adults and water toys for the kids. We enjoyed our day and to leave earlier than we wished. The drawback to Passion Island is that it took close to an hour to get onto the island from the cruise pier so that ate into our day.