Pleasing six old broads off on an annual spring fling isn't an easy task. But we came off the Elation, totally elated.
Our trip started with an overnight at the Galveston, Holiday Inn on the Beach. I cannot say enough about this hotel. I have stayed at hotels and motels across the country and have never encounterd a staff like this one. They simply cannot do enough to please their clientele. We took advantage of their free parking for cruise customers and used their shuttle service to and from the dock. Our driver was Rodney, who was more than cheerful about loading and unloading our many bags. He told us exactly where to meet him upon debarkation, we had no sooner gotten our bags together than he appeared.
Carnival seems to have boarding down to a fine science....it was fast and worry free. We had three cabins in a row on Rivera deck and were very pleased with the amount of room we had. We had read a review from an earlier cruiser advising packing an over the door shoe bag...a great tip, as it came in very handy for makeup,and various sundries that would normaly clutter up a bathroom counter. Floyd, our room steward had his work cut out for him, but he kept us well supplied with ice and anything else we needed and ran his area cheerfully and efficiently.
We had the late seating in the Imagination dining room and were well served nightly by Steven and Rommel. They were fun and very good at what they do. At the end of the cruise there seemed to be alot of pressure to tip the maitre d'...this didn't sit well with our group, as we rarely saw him and were only greeted by him on the last night. If we had any dining room criticism it would be: if the maitre d' wants a tip, he should make a point at some time during the week, to briefly visit at each table. We had prepaid our tips but were more than happy to tip over and above to those who gave over and above.
We seemed to gravitate to the Empress deck each evening for cocktails and a few minutes with the wonderful trio that plays there nightly. This bar is just outside of the Photo studio, which also deserves some mention. What a cute and friendy bunch they are...Leah, was always on hand to greet us and seemed to know immediatly in which direction to point us to find our current pictures. The entire photo staff made looking at our sometimes ghastly photos a fun part of our cruise experience.
We all took advantage of the spa, in one capacity or another. I highly reccommend Edwin in the hair salon for a cut and style....truly one of the best cuts I've had in years.
Part of our group did the Chichen Itza tour in Progresso and were very pleased with the experience. Two of us did the Hacienda Tour, which was interesting and we had darling young guides,(Mario and Vicco). The tour included one church and one hacienda, I would have liked a few more stops for comparisons. They did however, serve us a delightful snack on the veranda and were most anxious to share any information they could. We passed a public market in Progresso that I think would be worth exploring...maybe next time.
In Cozumel three of our group did the kayak trip and loved it. Three of us went to Chankanaab and did the Royal Swim with Dolphins which we had booked online prior to departure. Reccommend this highly, it was very exhilarating and showing your pictures when you get home will make you a hero to your kids. The Gardens at Chankanaab are well worth the trip. In the afternoon we took a cab out to El Sol Cabanas del Caribe for margaritas with Trinidad. If you are tired of touristy things by this time, I suggest this quiet get away. A small hotel, off the beaten path, with a lovely restaurant right on the water, and Trini's palapa bar on the beach. Quiet and restful...wish we'd had more time to enjoy the peace and quiet....next time!
Belize was a nice surprise. We all did the Altun Ha and City Tour,with very knowlegeable young guides who gave us a great overview of Belize. It reminded me alot of my early trips to the Yucatan, before cruise ships and huge hotel complexes. We had an enjoyable lunch in the courtyard of the Smoky Mermaid, an American owned Guesthouse and Restaurant within walking distance of the tender dock. Bought Belizian Cashew Wine at Altun Ha on a whim, and was pleasently surprised to find a poor mans version of Chateau d'Quiem...wish I had bought more bottles...next time!
The last two days onboard were leisurly and delightful, each of us doing our own thing and meeting up occasionally for latte or lunch on the Lido deck. The casino onboard is small but they made loosing painless. However we did see several big winners.....There's always next time!!!
We bought 100 internet minutes at the internet cafe......being slightly computer challenged, we wasted several precious minutes getting started. As it is only staffed between 5 and 7:pm there was no one available to ask for help. We all decided the shopping onboard was a nice surprise....good selections and good prices. The girls in the makeup and perfume area were very helpful. We tried the art auction, but lost interest early on. Several of us are veteran auction goers and thought this could have been more exciting...starting the bidding lower and working up would have allowed more people to get involved, a good auctioneer can always get his price. The piano bar was fun, particularly for Elton John and Billy Joel fans. We never made it into the karaoke bar, but were told it can be the best entertainment onboard. The shows we attended in the Mikado were well done and very entertaining...our only complaint being that there are far too many onboard options for a seven day cruise....There will definately be a next time!!!!
A quick PS: The unsung heroes of the Carnival fleet are all those people you pass everywhere, constantly cleaning and polishing with smiling faces...a very impressive crew.
I don't know where to start on all the complaints I had on this cruise ship. The crew and planned events are nothing short of unorganized. This was my first and last time sailing with Carnival.
If you're young and want to experience the nightlife of a cruise ship...don't look here. Everything closes at 1-2am.
Also, soak in the sun as early as you can. The pool closes at 5:00 pm. There are still 3 GOOD HOURS of sunlight left but the pool is closed. The hottub closes shortly after at 8:00pm.
This is a review of our trip on the Carnival Cruise Ship Elation from 11 April to 18 April also known as the Easter Cruise. My wife Jennifer and I have been on four other cruises, two of those were also on Carnival Ships (Jubilee, Triumph). The reason I write a review is so I can briefly relive the cruise and so that my family and friends can see what we did during our cruise. This review is based on my opinion and that¡¦s not to say that every one of the 2200+ people also on board had the same GREAT TIME that we did. If you have any questions, please email me at email@example.com .
EARLY MORNING DEPARTURE
On 11 April, Departure Day, we had a 630 flight from St Louis, Missouri so that meant we were up long before that to drive there, nearly 2 hours. We had previously always flown in the day prior, but due to work constraints it was not possible this time. We arrived at the airport and had coordinated for Extreme Elegance (a limo company in Houston) to pick us up and transport usto the Port. Extreme Elegance did a good job on THIS end of the transportation; we were at the Port in no time at all. More on Extreme Elegance¡¦s performance on the last day of the cruise.
For us, embarkation was extremely smooth. Due to our early flight, we were at the terminal by 1015 and were the first ones there. They don¡¦t start doing anything til 1100, so we had some time to relax in the terminal. As soon as 1100 hit, we were walking through security and right to the FunPass Check In Counter. A few minutes later, we were directed to have a seat in the ¡¥waiting to board¡¦ area. They weren¡¦t going to board til noon, so had some more time to relax in the terminal. By about 1130, there were a few hundred people in the terminal and it was starting to get busy, but it was an organized busy. At noon, we boarded. The neat thing I liked about that was, they boarded you in order of when you got there, so since we were early, we boarded nearly first. By 1215, we were on the Lido Deck having a Burger and some Fries.
We took advantage of Room Service plenty of times, mainly after the shows, right before bed. They always said it would take about 40 minutes, but there was always a knock on my door in about 5 minutes. Great room service menu.
OUR CABIN Empress Deck 229
We had an ocean view cabin on the Empress Deck. Very clean cabin, beds were comfortable and our Cabin Steward Widonna was great. Everytime we stepped out of the room, he seemed to pop in the room, and make the beds, clean the room, and leave us another towel animal.
We ate in the dining room for all but one of the Dinner Meals. I thought the food was really good. And the service was good also. The 24 hour Pizzeria was great and very popular. The breakfast and the lunch buffets on the Lido Deck were always fast and very little lines. The food in Tiffany¡¦s Restaurant was really good. They have the buffet lines with an assortment of food and they also make fresh sandwiches and salads. At night time, they have an variety of snacks, including crepes (mmm). And of course they have the 24 hour ice cream machines¡K..
The SPA/GYM was pretty good. Lots of weight equipment and plenty of treadmills. They also have a running track on the top deck of the ship. The good thing about the Gym is it owns the only 2 hot tubs that the kids couldn¡¦t get too. Very peaceful Hot Tub, with a huge skylight.
OVERALL CONDITION OF THE SHIP
I think the ship looks great. Nothing stood out as in need of repair or painting. As usual, maintenance is always ongoing as with painting. But the ship looks great and is in top condition.
We attended all the shows, with exception of the midnight comedy shows. The Elation Dancers and Singers did a good job. We enjoyed all the shows. ¡§LUBO¡¨ the balancer was great, balanced all kinds of things, and unfortunately for him it was the rockiest day we were traveling. He was balancing all sorts of things, with the ship rocking back and forth. He was good. The comedians on board were all pretty funny. Even the cruise director Larry Garlutzo did some singing. Overall some great entertainment! The Mikado Lounge was always crowded, but we always able to get a good seat if we went to get a seat about 10 minutes prior to the start of the show.
Nonstop activities. Each night we would look at the Carnival Capers and highlight what we wanted to do the next day. I¡¦d say on average, we actually only did about half of what we highlighted; mainly because we became involved in something else going on. We took some golf lessons, played some trivia games, played some Bingo, took some tours of the ship and enjoyed the sun.
Let¡¦s not fool ourselves, the kids run the ship. It didn¡¦t bother us, some people were pretty annoyed about this on our trip. We think it¡¦s okay to get into an elevator with 3 or 4 kids (8 or 9 yrs old) who are running the elevator, all you do is tell them where you want to go and they¡¦ll get you to the right floor. That¡¦s harmless. The kids were always doing activities around the ship. Yes kids are loud and they do run down the hallway. The kids own the pools and hot tubs. We just don¡¦t see the problem with it.
I had previously been to some of the art auctions on board, mainly because of the free champagne and its fun to watch some folks bid and spend lots of money. Same thing for this cruise, free champagne and it was fun to watch folks bid and outbid. Except this time, one thing was different I looked to my right and it was my wife bidding and outbidding¡K¡K¡K¡K. fº Needless to say we came home with a few pieces of art.
PORTS OF CALL / EXCURSIONS
This port is very underdeveloped. But I do see great potential. I think if they add a couple of water activities to their excursion list, it will be a hit. Right now, the biggest reason for going here is the ruins. LOTS of folks went on tours to the ruins and from what I heard, they loved them. Jen and I decided not to take a tour at this port. Instead, we went into Progresso, shopped a little and then took the city bus to Merida, which is a large city about 15 miles away. We stayed in Merida no longer than an hour, went to an old church and that was about it. We were back on board by about 1pm. Which was fine also.
Cozumel started out on a bad note, Larry Garlutzo announced that nearly all water excursions had been cancelled to due wind and rough seas¡K. You could hear the unhappiness throughout the ship. We had booked the Powerboat and Hideaway Beach Excursion. We walked to the shore excursion desk, which had atleast 100 people in line trying to change excursions, so not wanting to wait, we grabbed our snorkel gear, caught a taxi and headed to Chankanaab Park. We¡¦d been there before and knew that they had plenty to do there. $10 for the cab and $12 for the entry fee. The seas were pretty rough alright. But by 10am, they had settled enough for the ¡¥red flag¡¦ to be lowered and the ¡¥yellow flag¡¦ to be raised. Snorkelers slowly ventured into the water and before you know it, there were lots of snorkelers out there. Jen and I decided to go for a dive. $35 and we were under the water. A few things to see there, only about 25 feet deep though. We went into the caves and saw some huge fish! A very good dive. At about 1pm, we decided to head back to the ship, change clothes and then do some shopping. We arrived back at the ship about 1:30 and found that all the excursions had been given permission to go ahead now. So I quickly found our Powerboat point of contact and before you know it, we were on the way to our excursion. Powerboat and Hideaway Beach excursion is supposed to have you drive your own boat (two seater) about an hour to a private beach do some beach activities and then drive your own boat back. Well due to the rough seas, we couldn¡¦t get to the private beach, so instead we just drove the boat in the local area for an hour or so. That was awesome, the seas were 4-6 foot rolling waves, so that made for some fun boating. We went airborne several times. AWESOME! After that we had some of the Mexican Buffet that they had set up for us, good food. And then to top that off, we went sailing and we learned how to Jib and Jive. That was fun too! Back to the ship by 5:30 and on our way to Belize at 6pm.
BELIZE CITY, Belize
Belize was a tendered port, so we opted for the ship excursion again. This time we went diving. We did 2 dives at Turneffe Atoll. A great wall dive. Saw lots of sea life, including a huge Southern Ray, his wingspan was atleast 10 feet. Dove to a depth of 70 feet on the first dive and about 60 feet on the second dive. GREAT Dives! When we got back to the ship we hurriedly jumped on a tender for Belize City and did a little shopping before heading back to the ship.
Debarkation was a breeze. On Saturday, I went to the Purser¡¦s to get some ¡§early off the ship¡¨ luggage tags (Orange), because we had an early flight from Houston (1:10pm). We put our luggage out in the hall just before going to sleep on Saturday night. On Sunday morning, we docked about 6am and we woke up about 7am. Our luggage tag color was called about 7:30 to go to the Cole Porter Lounge for immigration, which took a few minutes to wait in line and then show the Immigration Officials our proof of citizenship. Then we went to the Dining Room to have breakfast. We finished breakfast about 8:30am, took a quick last walk around the ship and just before 9am, they called our color and off the ship we were. Getting our luggage and clearing Customs was very easy. By 9am we were on the curb waiting for our ride from Extreme Elegance. Unfortunately their philosophy was first come first serve, regardless of reservations. So needless to say, they left with out us. This is our third time out of Galveston, so we expected the madness at the Galveston port. After some scrambling to get a ride to the airport, we made it in time for our flight. BUT I recommend that you do not use Extreme Elegance Limo Services.
We absolutely had a great time. The price for this cruise was perfect and due to the prices dropping after we booked, we got an upgrade. The ship is in top condition and the staff was always friendly and courteous. I wouldn¡¦t hesitate to book this cruise again.
Who we are: I am Becky, a 36 yr old single mom of Dottie an 18 yr old daughter. We had cruised the Elation exactly 2 yrs ago to the Mexican Riviera. We both had lots of fun, so decided to try this new itinerary.
Flight/Embarcation: We had a 6:05am Continental flight out of Seattle, WA. Our flight left about 20 minutes late, but we arrived on time at Intercontinental airport. We headed to baggage and found the Carnival Rep. right away. We had booked the Riviera deck with bunk beds and were happy to find our cabin to be on the Empress deck #127. It was almost exactly mid-ship, so was very handy for getting around the ship. After an hour long bus ride, we arrived at the pier. There was almost no line, so we were on board by 2:30.
Our Cabin: As stated we were in E127. It was just up the hall from the Atrium. It had one odd feature, which I will describe at the end. We briefly met our cabin steward, then headed to the purser's desk to put our cash on our accounts. Whilewaiting in line we met Jim, Dan and their families. I met one other couple, but I'm sorry I don't remember their names.
Sailaway: Just before sailaway I bought my daughter and myself a couple of foo-foo drinks. I bought both drinks on my S&S card with no trouble for my daughter. I gave it to her right at the bar. More on drinks in a moment.
Dining Room: We wanted 6:15 dinner, but were assigned 5:45. I didn't bother to change it, so we had the Inspiration Dining Room. We were at table 244. Our waiter's name was Uan and he was great. He was very friendly with us, though he had trouble with my daughter's name at first. LOL Uan did everything he could to see that we were happy with our choices. His assistant (don't remember his name) was also very good. He kept our glasses filled with whatever we were drinking. He came around with bread frequently. We were at a table for 6, but we only had 1 other mom and daughter with us all week. I personally only eat in the dining room 4 nights (1st, last, and both formals). I enjoyed all of my dinner choices and ate lots of prawns, which I love.
Casino: Dottie and I went to the casino after dinner. While at the casino, Dottie bought her own drink on her S&S card with no problem. (She tried later at the pool bar and the bartender wouldn't sell it to her). I think that the casino goes by International Waters Laws and that is why my daughter could buy drinks in the casino, but not the Lido pool bar. Ship policy may state drinking age as 21, but it depends on where the person tries to buy alcohol, I guess. I didn't have a problem with Dottie having a drink or 2. She was more responsible drinking than I was. LOL That was about it for me the first night. I had been up all night the night before leaving, so I was in bed by about 10:30.
Monday/Day at Sea: I spent most of this first day on the Lido deck. I had my coffee and my book and a nice table to myself. It was very relaxing to just kick back, people watch, eat when I wanted, etc. At 11:30am they were having Craps lessons, so I went to that. It was interesting to learn, though I never actually played. I tend to stick to the slots. We both gambled a little bit that day. Monday was the 1st formal night/Captain's cocktail party. We went to the party and I had several drinks. Before the crew introductions they had the video guy running around interviewing people. They came up to Dottie and did a Cinderella type skit (you know, see if the shoe fits) and he chatted with her for a couple of minutes. Though we didn't buy the Travelog video, we got to see Dottie on T.V. several times the rest of the cruise. That was kind of cool. After the party we went to dinner and enjoyed that. I (of course) had the lobster and it was better than 2 yrs ago. After dinner we went to the "big" show. It was Rhythm and I liked it well enough (same as 2 yrs ago). After the show I changed to comfy clothes and headed to the Jekyll&Hyde disco. Unfortunately, they don't play dance music until after 11, so I had to go to the Romeo and Juliet lounge and listen to a country duo named Souveniers. They were alright, but I'm not really into country music. I was up until the wee hours dancing and drinking the night away in the disco. I headed back to my cabin after a late night (or should I say early morning) coffee at Tiffany's. We were due in Progreso the next morning, but we didn't have any plans there.
Tuesday/Progreso: We both slept very late on this day (I think it was noon when we finally got up). We got off of the ship and went on the pier and bought some souveniers and then got right back on board. Lots of people seemed to enjoy either the Merida tour or the ruins tour, but we didn't do either so I can't comment on those.
Wednesday/Cozumel: I had booked a Wild and Crazy Beach Day at Plays Sol Park through shoretrips.com. It was supposed to include parasailing for Dottie. When we got to Cozumel it was so windy that parasailing was not possible (the ship had to cancel a lot of excursions that day). Since we had already paid for the parasailing, they let Dottie use a wave runner instead. She rode for about 30-40 minutes and had lots of fun. This package was food and drinks inclusive, so of course I had my share of margaritas. When we were done at the beach, we took a cab to Carlos and Charlies. We had lots of fun and ended up sitting with a family from the Elation. We took a cab back to the ship and were back on board in plenty of time for sailaway.
Thursday/Belize: We had to tender in at this port. We had booked a jungle horseback ride through BelizeCruiseExcusions.com. There were 6 of us on this tour. A family of 4 and us. Our guide was very good and he took us on a city tour of the Northern part of Belize on the way to the spa. It was about 1-1/2 hr drive to the spa. We met our horse guide and got our horses and we were off. They had several baby horses that were so cute. While we were on the ride we saw some spider monkies that came to show off for us. Later we saw some vultures circling around and our guide told us a jaguar had killed one of the babies (the carcass was still on the ground). This same jaguar had killed 2 of their other horses recently as well. The ride lasted about an hour and I even got my horse to gallup a couple of times. After the ride our guide drove us back to town and took us on a Southern city tour. We got back in time to get our hair braided. Dottie got her crown done and I got my full head done. The last tender was scheduled for 4:15 and we got on the 4:00 tender.
Friday/Day at Sea: Another relaxing day at sea. 2nd formal night this night. The past guest party was on this night in between dinners. They had snacks and free drinks and showed a video on Carnival that was interesting. I went to the Cole Porter lounge and saw the Dirt Poets. They were a pretty good rock band that played lots of different rock music. I stayed there until the disco opened. Another late night dancing the night away.
Saturday/Last Day at Sea (boo hoo): Our last day at sea. It was very relaxing. I participated in the slot tournament, but didn't do good enough to be in the running. Oh well, it was fun anyway. We went to the horse races, just to have seats in time for the Newlywed/Not So Newlywed Game. That was pretty funny and the newlywed couple won. After our last dinner I went back to the cabin to get my packing done. We had our bags packed and out by about 10:30.
Sunday/Disembarcation: I had to go to customs at 7:00am to declare my 1 extra bottle of alcohol. They didn't bother to charge me ant duty on it. We were scheduled for a 12:05 flight, so had the orange tags. They called for orange at about 8:30 to go to immigration. That probably took 15-20 minutes. We stopped by our cabin and picked up our carry ons, then went to the Mikado Lounge to wait to be called. They called for orange about 9:15 (I think). We went and found our luggage with no problem. We found our bus and were the last 2 on it. Good thing, too we got to our gate about 5 minutes before they started boarding. A little too close for my liking, so I'll remember that, next time. Our flight home was fine and they showed the movie Big Fish. I let Dottie us the headphones to watch it.
Overall/Impressions: It was really great to be on the Elation again. When we first saw her again it was like finding an old friend. They had changed some things around (the seating arrangement in Romeo and Juliet, for example). Most of it was the same as I remembered. I did like not having to waste any time trying to find my way around. Yes, there are some minor carpet stains, but that is the least of my concerns on a cruise. This cruise is especially good for cruising families and younger people (or the young at heart). There's always something going on, even if you just want to relax quietly on board.
Funny Story: If you've taken the time to read this far you're probably wondering, where's the funny story? Well, here it is. For whatever reason our cabin had a pole in it. I guess a support pole. On Monday night after apparently drinking and having way too much fun, I was back in my cabin. I didn't have the lights on, since I didn't want to wake Dottie up. I was coming back from the bathroom a walked face first into the pole. I remember thinking, at the time, "That will probably hurt in the morning". Well, I was right! When I woke up at noon, I got up and looked in the mirror, I had given myself a black eye (thanks to my glasses) and a cut in my left eyebrow. When I went to put my glasses on I had to bend them back into shape and wipe off all of the make-up from on the inside of the lens. LOL In my own defense, the pole was right in line to my bed from the bathroom and I almost did the exact same thing on Tuesday night (and I hadn't had anything to drink on Tuesday).
Thank you for taking the time to read my review. If you have any questions or comments, post on the boards or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Becky
As a preface, this was our 8th cruise (7 of the cruises were on Carnival).
We booked our trip thought a travel agent and didn't have any problems however the air add-on was $399 per person and we could get the air for $250, the savings was too great to not book it on our own. I know the whole "Carnival will hold the ship for you", etc. but for that kind of money, we booked our own. Flew in the day before as we're from Cincinnati and getting to Houston doesn't get us there in time for the boat on Sunday - so limited our risk a little since we booked air outside of Carnival. Others we sat with at dinner had booked air through Carnival and had to fly out at 5:30 a.m. on Sunday to make it in time, the timing we picked was much better.
Arrived into Houston at 5:00 Saturday and caught the Galveston Limo Shuttle service (had to wait about 30 minutes for the shuttle as it is not personal - they pick you up on their own set schedule running every 1.5 hours). Costwas $50 per adult and $30 for our 8 year old.
Stayed in the Holiday Inn on the Beach in Galveston. They have a free shuttle to the pier in the morning so we booked our time slot upon arriving and had no issues with the hotel whatsoever. This is a great hotel going through renovation and everything was very nice and clean. Very helpful front desk and the pool area was very pretty. You could walk to the Rainforest Café, etc. but their shuttle would take you there and back.
Sunday: Arriving at the Pier - was dropped off at the front of the "warehouse" where you unload and porters in brightly colored shirts will gladly help anyone. We rolled our own luggage into the warehouse and got in line for the 2 men sitting with manifest telling you your cabin number. You (or they) marked your bags and you left them behind a chain fence (I assume that is where they are checking the luggage for anything that would be a security threat). Mass chaos but not really that big of a deal, we were so excited to get on the ship that it didn't matter at that point.
We booked a guarantee inside lower room (category 4a) and received an outside 4a - it was a nice surprise and the window was neat - for the first day or two, we didn't really look out that much but hey, never turn your nose up at an upgrade. This was our 7th Carnival and only time we received an upgrade. Room was definitely adequate for 3 people (2 adults and child). All Carnival rooms look alike so if you've been on any ship or seen pictures from any other ship - this room looks just like them all.
Our room steward was great, never saw him but we had a soft sided cooler that we kept in the room and he always filled it with ice and put additional sodas in the bag if we had run out - we brought on 4 6-packs of plastic bottle diet cokes.
Dinner time - we were in the Inspiration dining room at the 5:45 seating - since we had a child with us, we wanted the early seating. Nice table for 8 (they put a chair on the end to make it 9) and we were seated with another couple (who we met on Cruisemates) and it worked out wonderfully - they had 2 little girls.
First night we explored the ship, saw the shows (which were all great). However, the lead male singer looked a little like a grown Macaulay Calkin - freaky.
Progresso - There is a beach right off the shuttle if you just walk down two blocks. Lots to do there, restaurant, etc. Plenty to do there, don't believe what you've heard that if you don't get to Merida you won't have a good time. This is why, we went to Merida - took the $10 per person bus (which is a city bus) and got into the busy Mexican city. And that is exactly what it is, busy, busy Mexican city. No one speaks very much English and we could hardly find the "straw market" that was suppose to be there - the shopping in Progresso is much better. We only stayed about 20 minutes and got back on the 45 minute bus ride and went back to Progresso - waste of time! Unfortunately, we didn't see the beach until we were back on the pier shuttle going back to the ship - many people told us they had a great time at that beach. IF YOU LEARN ONE THING FROM THIS REVIEW IT'S TO SHOP IN PROGRESSO. It's hard to spend your shopping money in your first pier but believe me, this is the place to do it. Everything was much cheaper in Progresso. We bought our little on a $5 Mexican guitar which was $18 in Cozumel. Belize has good shopping too but Progresso is your best. Now, you're not going to get the jewels that you would in Cozumel but for souvenirs, etc. this is the place to do it. They even had those rope swings for $5 - these were $25 (same exact ones) in Cozumel - and you couldn't barging down but to about $18-$20 - believe me we tried.
Cozumel - we went to Chankaab park - unbelievable park - lots of people but it didn't feel crowded at all. We brought our own masks and snorkels and right there in the beachy area (little lagoon they made) you could see all kinds of pretty nice sized, colored fish. You could swim out of the little inlet they made into the open ocean and snorkel to your hearts content - all for admission into the park of $10.00 - this includes lockers, showers, facilities, there is a gift shop, restaurant, etc. everything you could want. You can rent all the water stuff there too.
In Cozumel we did the Royal Swim with Dolphin Discovery - this was amazing. We had the swim with the dolphins (which is more interaction than the dolphin encounter) and swim with the sea lions too - all of this was so amazing I can't tell you enough about it. We booked outside the boat directly with www.dolpindiscovery.com. The guides were top notch and the place was run by compassionate trainers. I'm not really that big of a dolphin person but once you do this you are just on a "high" from the experience that I can't even describe it to you - just amazing. The swim with the sea lion was just as great, this sea lion was like a dog playing with us.
Belize - everyone whines about the tenders but it wasn't that big of a deal. We had a tour scheduled (outside of the boat) that we scheduled for 11:00 a.m. as to not push the timing getting of the boat - maybe that is why it wasn't that big of a deal for us. Those in hurry or trying to go outside the "rules" for the tenders were whining up a storm. Seriously, just take your time and you'll be fine. Everyone said that there is absolutely nothing to do in Belize if you don't do a tour but this is not the case. Right off the tender is a great shopping area with an open air restaurant where you could get a bite to eat, drink, and an internet café for $4.00 for 15 minutes. You can actually see the water while you're answering email. We emailed our son at college and made him jealous - that's a parent's job! If you want to get to a beach, there are plenty of government run tours right there at that shopping village and you can get it much less expensive off the boat. If not, just hang out there it was a lot of fun. We grabbed one of those government tour companies to take us to the Belize Zoo - very neat experience seeing the animals up close but sorry we missed the beach here and it was so Blessed Hot that day - couldn't hardly take not being in a pool or water some place - geez if this is what it is in early April, what is it going to be in summer! We got our daughter's hair braided here for the full head $10.00 - you couldn't get that price in Cozumel.
Okay, so there you have the ports, we definitely wish we would have done some things differently - we really missed the fun time in Progresso but can only blame that on ourselves. Wish we would have loaded up on our gifts and goodies in Progresso and definitely either just hung out in the shopping village in Belize or grabbed the water taxi to a beach someplace.
Camp Carnival: We were not impressed, they didn't go out of their way to make my child feel like she was welcome, there were out of control kids in the same age group as her (8) and they didn't do anything about it - not like discipline but at least control them. Our friends had a 5 and 7 year old - the 5 year old was in a different group than the 7 year old and all three girls wanted to be together. They do not cross over age groups - so my suggestion to you if you want your kids together - lie about their age (I don't like lying but if you want to know they way around the system). For those of us that didn't lie about their children's age, you would think the Camp program would try to at least get activities to sync up. For instance, free play wasn't a lot of fun so none of the kids wanted to go to free play - the 5 year olds free play was from 10-11 and the 7 and 8 year old was from 11-12 - so consequently we had kids coming and going at all hours from the Camp program. Now, I liked having my daughter with me so I didn't mind but my expectation was that she would "LOVE IT SO MUCH SHE WOULDN'T WANT ME TO PICK HER UP FROM THE CAMP" and this just was not the case. Camp was a great babysitting tool for many people and not much more than that . . . .I didn't just like my daughter being "babysat" - I can get that at home with someone I know who plays with her and does crafts, etc. - they didn't do much like this at all with the groups and the counselors seemed more interested in talking to each other than playing with the children.
The ship: Very nice and well kept - since this was our 7th Carnival cruise all the ships (of this time period) are starting to look alike, it's nice because we always know where we are going just the colors and décor are a little different. Everyone was very helpful and the casino took our money, as usual. There were not as many slot and blackjack tournament as I remember but we still had fun in those that they did have - our friend even won $500 in one of them!
Our dinner waiter: He was slow and didn't speak English very well. He took okay care of us but it took two times talking to the Head Waiter about his slow service, especially with kids. He didn't smile very much but I think it was the language barrier. We did lower our tip just a bit for him.
Kids on the ship: Yes, there were a lot of kids on the ship since it was spring break. There was one particular crowd of kids that would play tag on the elevators by the main atrium area and it was annoying to have several kids jumping on and off the elevators. It didn't ruin our trip just makes you wonder where the heck the parents were at this time. My kids know how to act out in public, these kids certainly did not.
Getting off the ship: I don't know why people are so hung up on carrying their own luggage off the ship, etc. because the "warehouse" where they separated the luggage was not "out of control" "mass chaos", etc. in our area - Riviera Aft there were about 50 pieces of luggage and it was so easy to find my luggage - and mine looks just like everyone else's luggage - big and black. I can't imagine dragging my luggage around the ship only to save those 5 minutes! We were the biggest area of the ship too so most other luggage tag colors had fewer bags than us. It think this is the same thing people go through for Belize tenders - they are told a procedure and they try to get around it and get frustrated. We used the "Carnival" procedure for both and it worked just great.
We had a really good time on this ship but Carnival is getting a little routine for us. The menu was the same on the last 5 cruises - over 5 years. A little variation but for the most part the same. Everything looks the same, etc. So I think next time we will try a different cruise line just for variation however this ship was just fine and we had a good vacation. Any questions, just ask.
This was my first cruise and I have to say I enjoyed it immensely! I am 26 and my husband is 27. There is a wide age variety on this ship.
Sunday April 4th: The whole boarding process took one hour. Everything went smoothly and the staff was friendly and helpful. We found our rooms easliy and were impressed with the size of our oceanview window! I expected a porthole, but it was quite large! Samples of lotion, rolaids,floss, toothpaste, hair gel, soap and razors were supplied. Also a shampoo and shower gel dispenser in the shower. We were four hours late leaving but it was due to someone trying to bring something onto then ship that was not allowed. Our luggage arrived at 8:00 pm. Enjoyed dinner: tilapia and lamb to choose from. We were seated in Inspiration dining room late seating. Nice tablemates.
Monday 5th: Breakfast:eggs benedict (lots more to choose from: pancakes, omelettes, etc.) Went to the "Shopper's Talk" with Eddy Murphy. I recommend attending this:very infomative. Lunch: shrimp and crab baguette..yum! Lots of activities. Go to the art auction! Free champange and beautiful artwork! Formal Captain's Cocktail party. Free cocktails!Romantic dancing. Dinner: Formal Night: We had lobster! Our head waiter,Walter, was fantastic. As was Roxie, our assistant waitress.
Tuesday 6th: Had breakfast at Tiffany's (the casual dining room.) Self serve buffet of many items. Good food. Arrived at Progresso on time. Progresso is a poor town with quite pushy local salespeople. Be aware and stand firm! Free beach in town by the restaurants. Colorful markets and you can haggle! Dinner:ate at Tiffany's: pizza, salad, ice cream and pie.
Wednesday 7th: Arrived in Cozumel at 10:00 am. Beautiful!!! It was recommended to us to take a taxi into town, but we decided to walk. Its five miles. It was a very nice walk, cool and breezy and we enjoyed seeing wildlife and exotic foliage. Nice shops in town. Clean McDonalds! Pretty good shows on board. Dinner: Had scallops and pastsa! Excellent! For dessert you can choose a Nautica Spa item that is no-sugar-added! Delicious!
Thursday 8th: Don't care too much for the scrambled eggs. Go for the omelette. Took the tender(boat) out to the pier in Belize City. Most people didn't care for this city, but I enjoy seeing the Caribbean style homes and friendly people. The salespeople were a bit pushy here too, though. Took a carriage ride through town. Fun! If you buy a cocnut drink, do not let them pour the milk over ice! Just drink it straight from the cocnut shell! Saw two wild marine iguanas living by the nice shops at the pier. Dinner:Red snapper. Later, Mexican Deck Party on Lido. Dancing and lots of fun.
Friday 9th: Participated in Saturday Night Fever dance lesson! FUN! Formal night again. Jumbo shrimp and baked Alaska. Later, Midnight Gala dinner buffet. Magnificent! Be sure to attend. Ice sculptures, hand-carved fruits and vegetables. Plus, you get to eat the beautiful food!
Saturday 10th: Go to debarkation talk. The television in your room will also air it. Very infomative. Lunch: calamari rings and grilled salmon. Sugar-free coconut cake. Not a whole lot going on today.
Sunday 11th: We were pink tags so we were the last group to disembark the ship. But we were allowed to wait at Tiffany's so we ate and sat and talked with friends we met on the cruise. Customs went smoothly. We returned to our car happy and utterly amazed at what a fantastic time we had.
We traveled on Carnival's Elation out of Galveston on Sunday March 14, 2004. We are 2 adults and two daughters, one 14.5 years, and one 11.
Due to a family conflict on Sunday morning, we arrived at the pier right around 1:00 PM. I was worried as that was the time stated to start boarding. Everything went very well and was very well organized. The only line, and it wasn't horrible was to take your welcome aboard photo and sign and sail photos.
Once aboard we found our room. Although I expected small, it was very small for 4 of us. The bottom beds were still singles on two different walls. I left a sticky note for our steward to push them in to a king. That gave us a lot more floor space! My husband and my girls explored the whole ship with the handy deck plans they hand you upon boarding. I went off on my own to take care of business. We requested the earlier late seating, which is what we got. 8'oclock in the inspiration dining room. I went to check out the table. It indeed wasa table for 4 as requested, and we had a nice booth! I also bought my girls each a soda card, which was more than worth it for us. Then I went to the excursion office, which is closed but there are forms and a box, where you can purchase your Carnival excursions.
Then we met for lunch up in Tiffany's on the Lido deck. The hot buffets up there were not terrific, though they have a nice carving board each day. The 24-hour pizza and ice cream are awesome. The grill serving hamburgers, hot dogs and fries is fine, however, the hours weren't great.
The muster drill was pretty organized. That night we juggled the initial camp carnival meetings with our dinner.
Our waiters got off to a slow start for the first night, but there after, (after a little talk) they were awesome. We had Boris, assisted by Helena. You keep the same table and waitstaff every night.
Breakfast and Lunch is open seating so we set with a lot of new families, couples, etc., each day.
The cruise director Larry and his staff Cindy and Mike were just wonderful. I can't say enough good things about them. Larry always had a smile and a joke and even stopped to talk if he saw you on deck. I also liked Eddy the super shopper.
The shows were very entertaining. We enjoyed the Elation dancers very much. We usually did the 10 o'clock Bingo game before the 10:30 show and never had a problem getting a seat!
During the sea days I thought there would be more activities, though my family and I enjoyed the behind the scene tours, game shows, trivia shows and bingo. Expected language lessons, cooking lessons, etc.
I gambled a little bit. Bring cash to gamble as there is a 3% charge to use your sign and sail. For Bingo you can use your card or cash.
I brought and used always, a power strip (only 1 outlet in the room!), sticky notes, a highlighter to highlight the capers, zip lock bags, a cooler (our steward kept filled with ice to use as a mini fridge), over the door shoe holder for flip flops and toiletries, book for by the pool or on the promenade deck, clothes pins for turning the hangers into skirt and pant hangers, bug spray, hand sanitizer, sun screen, along with every toiletrie you can think of, two under water cameras, 2 cameras, video, etc. Brought way to many clothes for all of us!
My 11 year old really enjoyed camp carnival. Only complaint is there were not enough free play hours, most of them were during the 3 port days when we were on the ship. But, she made a lot of neat things to take home. She made several new friends. My 14.5 year old went to the ice breaker the first morning and played some games, the rest of the week she basically did stuff with us and hung out and explored on her own: the galley tour, backstage tour, bingo, game shows, etc., bought non-alcoholic fancy drinks, read her book in her bathing suit, etc.
We enjoyed having a drink and sushi on the promenade deck most nights.
On the Elation the dress on regular nights was surprisingly casual. You could hardly tell most people changed for dinner. However the formal nights were extremely formal. We saw a lot of tuxes and gowns, followed by fancy cocktail dresses and dark suits!
In Progresso we went off on our own. There is a free air-conditioned shuttle bus to take you in to town. It leaves you at an outdoor market, with nice shopping. Should have bought more there, but didn't know my prices yet. Two blocks away is a beach. It's a very small not very developed town. Without a tour or trip to Merieda, which many people enjoyed, it was kind of a wasted port.
In Cozumel we hired a private guide. He was awesome, we got a city tour, saw a small ruin, did shopping, ate lunch and then snorkeled. Could have used a few extra hours! A little long getting off the ship.
In Belize we took Carnival's Altun Ha/River Wallace excursion. If you are only doing one excursion do it here! You dock in the middle of the ocean and tender to shore. The shore excursions go first. But, with a full ship, it still took 1.5 hours to get off the ship. Then our tour was late back to the tender port, but we were fine as we were with carnival.
All in all we had a great time on the Elation. We loved the ship, food, staff, etc. We had a few little complaints, but the biggest one was how quickly Sunday morning came!
Feel free to ask any questions.
I enjoyed the pleasure of sailing from Galveston on Carnival's Elation in February. From the first day of sailing it was a wonderful voyage. The boarding went smoothly and rather fast. The ship was magnificiant a luxury vessel. I enjoyed everything that the Elation had to offer. The shows were first rate, magnificent!
The service both in the lobby, dining rooms, lounges, and room service were beyond expectations. All were courteous, friendly, and helpful. The shore trips were exceptional and informative. I throroughly enjoyed my vacation on the Elation. I would heartly recommend it to anyone.
We had such a wonderful time and I have to thank everyone for their reviews and opinions. They really helped us make our vacation choices.
First off, my husband and I have only been on two cruises. We are 38 and 33. Last year we were married on RCI Monarch of the Seas out of Fort Lauderdale. The 12/28 New Year's Elation cruise was our first Carnival cruise and we chose it due to price and itinerary (we wanted to see Belize). We had a terrific time and cannot say enough great things about the ship and it's crew. I had read a few negative reviews recently about the crowds, the kids, rude crew etc so I was a little nervous about what we may experience. We had absolutely no problems with any of the above. Maybe we hit Tiffany's at odd times, but I never stood in line behind more than 5 or 6 people. I never had a problem getting a drink from the bartender and we didn't pass a crew member that didn't say Hello or Happy New Year. We were even able to get deck chairseveryday that we wanted them. Maybe we were traveling under a lucky star J.
We arrived in Houston on Saturday 12/27/03 and stayed the night at the Courtyard Marriott by Hobby airport. The hotel was nice, but we were stuck without a car. The only restaurant in sight was Damon's at the Marriott. It was a short walk and the food was pretty good. My husband was very happy because they had an entire wall of big screen TV's and they were showing the Sat night football game. The hotel shuttled us back to Hobby Sunday morning so we could pick up our shuttle to Galveston. We used Galveston Limo and the ride went smoothly. We were on a shuttle by 11:30 am and arrived in Galveston by 12:15pm.
Embarkation went very quickly. We gave our luggage to a porter and headed in the building. The longest line we waited in was the Sail & Sign line. We had completed the Fun Pass online.along with everyone & their brother. There were at least 75 people in front of us in the Fun Pass line. There were about 10 people in the "traditional" line. Our line moved at a fairly steady pace though. Then we had our picture taken and headed on board. We were in our room (which was ready for us) by 1pm.
After we dropped off our bags in our room we headed for lunch on the Lido deck and then wandered around the ship. We actually saw dolphins swimming at the port. I couldn't believe my eyes. We saw several more in port while we were waiting to debark on the last day. Keep an eye out!
Our room was midship on the Riviera deck. The way the ship was rolling, I was glad we were on the lower deck although we were never sick. Yes, the carpeting was stained in the hallway and the choice of colors in the room was not attractive. It appeared there had been a water problem at one time. However, I didn't notice a smell and our room was clean. I didn't notice any mold in the bathroom. The little bowl of toothpaste, razors, floss, shower gel, etc was very nice. Our room steward, Gary, was always pleasant and helped us out with any request we had.
We were assigned the 8:30 seating in the Imagination dining room. Eddie & Sammy took great care of us. They were prompt and brought us two of things we didn't even ask for. It was great to be able to sample different dishes. Our service in the dining room was excellent! We had 8 people at out table and we loved our tablemates. The Carnival computer did a great job of matching us up. All eight of us were about the same age and had alot of the same interests. Most nights we were the last table out of the dining room. This was not due to service, but because we were all talking so much. We went to shows together and hit the midnight buffet. I feel very lucky to have met such a great group of people. Sammy and Eddie did a wonderful job at dinner. They were terrific and we enjoyed getting to know them. On the last night our table made sure to slip both of them some extra cash so they would know how much we appreciated them.
Rain, Rain, Rain. It didn't just rain, it poured. All Day! The wind was blowing and the ship was rocking. I didn't see or hear of anyone getting sick, but we could definitely feel it. I was disappointed that I couldn't sit on deck, but watching a storm at sea was really cool. It was truly amazing to see lightning strike at sea and to watch the swells around the ship. It is a sight I won't forget.
We met the other posters from Cruise Critic for a meet & mingle in the Drama bar. Thanks Patti (P2Lockhart) for arranging the get together. It was fun to meet everyone and finally put a face with a name.
Other than eating, which I did several times on Monday, I didn't find too much to do. The rain limited the activities, in my opinion. I'm not a big gambler, so that wasn't my cup of tea and I had my shore excursions already planned so I didn't need to attend that talk. I wanted to check out the Trivia, but it was so crowded due to rain that I couldn't get close enough to hear what was going on.
Tuesday - No rain & sunny Progreso: We took the Dzibitchaltun ruins tour through Carnival. We took a half hour bus ride to the ruins. Our guide Manuel Espinosa was great. He was incredibly knowledgeable about Progreso, the ruins and the surrounding area. We had never taken a trip to see any ruins so we were not disappointed with Dzib. I have heard that Chichen Itza is amazing, but we just didn't want to take the bus ride to it. I particularly enjoyed the ride through Progreso. The town has not become touristy like Cozumel yet. There were houses with mules parked outside and signs all over town to "Vote for Poncho". Manuel explained that the shopping on the dock has only been there for a couple of years. He said that many of the farmers are leaving their crops to come to town to try to sell to the tourists. The income that comes from the cruisers is a steady income and they can make more than farming. I feel lucky to have seen Progreso before tourism takes over.
Wednesday - Sunny Cozumel: We docked at the Puerta Maya pier. This was a much nicer pier than the International Pier. We took a cab ($10) to Playa Corona to snorkel. We got there about 9:45am and got a palapa right by the water. There was no admission fee, but we had to rent masks and fins (we bought the snorkels on the ship $5 each). The masks & fins were $8 per person. The day was beautiful and the snorkeling was good. We had only snorkeled once before and we have never been to Dzul Ha or Chaankanab so I can't compare. The dos equis and sol beer was $3 and the chips/salsa was $2. Several snorkel excursions came through so it would get pretty crowded, but then clear out again after they left. We stayed here until about 1pm. Then we went back to the ship to change. We headed downtown by cab ($6) to shop and have lunch at Pancho's Backyard.
Thursday - Sunny & VERY windy Belize: Tendering to this port was an exercise in frustration. Yes, I know that the carnival shore trips get priority, but it was still an aggravation. We had booked the Coral Breeze excursion and needed to get tender tickets. The Capers stated to be in the Cole Porter Lounge to receive the tickets at 8am. We got to the lounge at 7:30am with Patti & Todd (P2Lockhart) and their family (also on the Coral Breeze excursion). We sat in the front to be sure we were first in line to get the first tender off the ship. Other cruisers started to trickle in and there were about 40 or so people waiting for tender tickets. At about 8:05 two staff members walked into the back of the lounge and said they were there to hand out tender tickets so come on up. At that point a mad rush to get a ticket happened. Luckily, Patti's husband Todd happened to be at the back of lounge. It all worked out and we were on the first tender, but I thought they could have handled it much better. It was like a free for all for tickets. It didn't matter that we were there first or how long we had waited. We were told to come back to the Cole Porter lounge at 9am to go board the tender. From 9am - 9:45am we were told it would only be 5 more minutes. That got old pretty quickly.
Finally at 9:45 we were led to our tender. The tender we were on held about 50 - 60 people and was very fast. The people in the back of our tender were drenched before we made it to port. The ones in front were being bounced all over the place. I would suggest finding a seat towards the back, but still under cover.
The Coral Breeze excursion was fabulous and Belize was beautiful. There were only 12 of us booked (all from the Elation and from the CC message boards) and we were picked up at the port and taken on a 30 minute ride to Caye Caulker. The lunch requests were turned in and we headed out to snorkel. When we got in the water we saw many rays. Our guide Leon picked one up that was about two and a half feet in diameter. He then let my husband hold it. He was thrilled. There were a couple of nurse sharks in the area and we saw a few more when we got back in the boat. We were then taken to the coral gardens to snorkel. However, we didn't get to see too much there. The winds were VERY strong and were creating quite a current. Leon didn't think it was safe to take us too far over the reef. I was disappointed but I had to agree with him. Better safe than sorry. Lunch on Caye Caulker was very good. We both had the shrimp fajitas. As we were sitting on the island I felt like we were in that Corona commercial. After about an hour of relaxing on the beach and touring the island we all loaded in the boat and headed back to Belize City.
Two of our tablemates were on the ill-fated shore tour to Goff's Caye purchased through Carnival. They felt there was some sort of mix up since it was New Year's day and possibly the vendor paid another boat to pick up the passengers. She said the boat was too small and was over loaded with people. When they made it to Goff's Caye the tour guide said they did not have snorkel equipment for anyone, but the next boat would bring it. She said that the next boat had snorkel equipment for it's passengers, but none for the previous boat. After they spent an hour or so on the island they were ready to go. As a group they told the guide that they wanted to go back to the ship. Again, he loaded everyone into the small boat and headed back to the ship. As they pulled away from Goff's Caye, the boat was stuck in the sand since it was too full. They were tugged out to deeper water and were on their way. About halfway there the engines stopped. The captain said the engines were about to overheat and had to be turned off. My tablemate said that she could see the panic start and a couple of women were about to cry. Everyone started putting on their life jackets. The wind was very strong that day and they really did fear the boat would capsize and someone would get hurt. Finally, the captain was able to get them back to the ship. The group went to the purser's desk and complained. They were originally offered a refund of the shore tour and a $50 credit towards a future cruise. I don't think that made anyone happy. A meeting was arranged for the next day in the conference room for the passengers involved, the shore tour manager and the hotel manager. They offered the passengers a refund of the price of the tour, a refund for any snorkels or underwater cameras they bought and a refund of 1/7th the price of the cruise. The refund was taken off the sail & sign balance before the end of the cruise. Our tablemates were happy with that and thought it was reasonable.
New Years Eve: After dinner we went to the Lido deck about 11:15pm with our tablemates. The weather was warm and only a little windy. The band was playing and it was a great party. We went up one deck so we could look down at the band. There was a big countdown at midnight and the ship blew it's horn four times. The entire ship was lit up. Everyone was throwing streamers or blowing their noisemakers. It was just so nice to be celebrating with good company and warm weather! I didn't see any champagne in the hot tubs, but the crew was passing out plenty of it.
Friday & Saturday During our two sea days we hung out on deck, soaked up the sun and ate.a lot. We sat at the back of the ship and didn't have any trouble getting deck chairs. I didn't witness a lot of chair saving, but I wasn't really paying much attention either.
What was good: The service. I cannot say enough about the crew and staff on the ship. We thought they were all very friendly and accommodating, especially in the dining room. The public rooms. I did not find the public rooms too gaudy. They definitely were themed, but I thought it was interesting to see how each room was done differently. The elevators. I know others have complained about this, but we did not have any issues with the elevators. Compared to the Monarch, we thought we were in elevator heaven. There were three sets and we rarely had to wait for one.
What needed improvement: The food. Some nights in the dining room were excellent, (sirloin steak, filet mignon), some were just plain bad (lobster tail) but most were fair. Breakfast at Tiffany's was ok, but the omelets were good. The pizza and ice cream were always great.
The shows. We went to the Rhythm show, the Spin show, Lubo's balancing act and the talent show in the Mikado. We only had problems finding seats on two nights and that was our own fault. We had the 8:30 seating for dinner and we sat and talked to our tablemates until about 10:40. By the time we made out way to the Mikado all of the seats were gone. The nights that we made an effort to be in the lounge by 10:20 there were plenty of seats. I thought Lubo's act was amazing. The things he could balance on his head was unbelievable. The rest of the shows were ok. The midnight comedians were only ok too. I didn't find them all that funny.
Waiting to debark. We were waiting to hear our tags called while sitting at a table by the pool. We could not hear the announcements. All week we could hear every announcement outside until it was time to leave. I'm not sure why the speakers outside stopped working on the last day.
What was bad: There wasn't anything I could classify as just plain bad. Ok, maybe the lobster tails. Other than that, we had a fabulous time.
The following are just my observations and opinions. I really didn't feel crowded or overrun by children during the cruise. I was pleasantly surprised at the lack of lines and how easily we could move about the ship. The couple of incidents did not in any way lessen our enjoyment of the cruise. However, by day seven (2nd consecutive sea day) I think the kids were starting to get cabin fever. They seemed to be less interested in organized activities and more interested in running throughout the ship at full speed. I think maybe a seven day cruise is too much confinement for some kids.
Kids in the hot tubs: We saw hot tubs completely filled by young kids. I even saw one with water wings on jumping from the side into the hot tub. We didn't want to get in them, but I felt sorry for any adult that wanted to try.
Kids in the elevators: We saw kids (approx 8-12 yr olds) sitting on the floor of the elevators eating ice cream and holding the door open so the elevator would not move from the floor. We also saw a different set of kids sitting on the elevator floor playing cards. Again making it difficult to use the elevators. We also saw kids playing tag by running down the stairwell and darting on to the atrium elevators at the last second. We were almost trampled trying to get off the elevator.
Debarkation: We had a 4:40pm flight and we were on the Riviera deck. This meant we were the last off the ship. We didn't care though. Our choices were to wait on the ship or wait at the airport. We had each purchased 2 liters of alcohol and you are allowed 1 liter per person. We had to get in the duty line at 7:30am to pay the duty on the two extra bottles. However, the agent that reviewed our customs card signed off without charging us. He waived the duty and that was a nice surprise. Then we had to wait for our colored tags to be called to go through immigration. Once it was called it took about 20 minutes to get through the line. Then we had to wait for our tags to be called to get off the ship. By 11am we were off and headed back to Galveston.
We had a wonderful time, met great people and would not hesitate to take this cruise again. It made for a memorable New Year's and fun way to bring in 2004.
Space on this ship is more than adequate. Cabins are roomy for a ship and so are the bathrooms. Since this is a fairly new ship, everything is in really good shape. Food was much better than expected and entertainment was first rate. Dining room staff made me feel like I was their favorite cruiser, even though they do this day in and day out for many months at a time. Weather was awful during this cruise (12/14-12/21/03); overcast, windy and cool except for Progresso and alternate port of Calica.
Couldn't land in Belize at all because of rough water and no water excursions in Cozumel for same reason. Captain and crew, however, kept everyone informed of conditions and found an alternate port quickly. Ship is absolutely gorgeous although a little inconvenient to get around . . . really big and a lot of walking is required. Disembarkation is a mess once you get off the ship...people everywhere, cars everywhere, no convenient way to get around it. Would go again, but would probably park car in Houston and take a shuttle to ship.