Number of Cruises: 1
Cruise Line: Carnival
Ship: Carnival Ecstasy
Sailing Date: February 26th, 2005
Itinerary: Western Caribbean
We got in a day early and stayed at the Marriott in the BUSH (IAH) Airport. The rooms are from the sixties but nice and quiet. The help was very good and we even had dinner in the upper circle restaurant. The food was very good for what we were thinking. Steak and Fish was cooked to perfection.
Day 1 of the Cruise - Galveston
First thing I have to say is that thanks to L.J. at the Texas Cruise Ship Shuttle (281-443-4430) we had the most fun in an hour drive ever in my life. L.J. can tell you everything about Houston and then some. He also took us around Galveston as well. We had a very nice van with plenty of windows to look out. We talked like we were long lost friends. What a way to start a cruise! We were laughing and feeling so good. No matter the price (and he is much cheaper than the cruise lines bus) he made the trip wonderful and we had not even got on the ship yet. If you are doing a cruise in Houston or Galveston, L.J. is your man to call!
Well now comes the fun part. We had 3 ships in port at once. What a disaster but thanks again to L.J. our driver, even after showing us around Galveston to some of the beautiful homes there he got us within 50 ft of the building. The line to get next to the building was backed up for miles. We talked to our table mates who spent 2 hours in line to get finally onto the ship. But LJ was right on top of it and helped us right off the van. We did have to walk 50 ft to get to the building with all our luggage but this allowed us to get on the boat and walk around hours before many others. LJ was our man of the hour. He even called us an hour later, after we had already got on board and was relaxing eating lunch to make sure everything was fine.
Day 1 at Sea:
Finally we set sail under gray skies. No big fan fare there but that night we started the rocking and rolling. No matter who I talked with I never got a sense of people complaining about the movement. All I have to say it was awful. We were on main deck very back of the boat on the center line. We were pitching up and down over a foot and swinging back and forth 15 degrees. Pictures were hanging out from the wall. Our dresser drawers slide up and closed as we rocked back and forth. Needless to say not much sleeping that night which cut into our fun the next day since we were so tired and out of it we slept until noon.
Food in the Wind Song restaurant was good. Its better then the big restaurant chains but not 5 star by any means. I guess in my travels I have been to really great restaurants and Carnival is just not know for their food. It was good just not great or fantastic as you see in their commercials. If you want great food - Carnival is not for you. The food is good - their main concern is are you having fun drinking and gambling.
The shows were good - not top notch talent. They make up for talent by being loud. We could hardly make out what the singers were saying as they were so loud. The show was a nice diversion from the rocking and the rolling of the boat. Get ready for being bombared on where to spend your money. Sign up for the credit card, go to the art auction, play bingo... all these pitches over and over. Don't they realize we have seen this all each time?
Also be sure to get a drink card. If you drink water, ice tea or lemonade you can get that for free. Every other drink you are going to pay for. Its kind of bothered me in that they say its all included except when I want to drink something. Guess they really do want you drunk.
The boat was nice and clean. Rooms small but comfortable. No problems with smells and such.
Outside was another issue. They had these bands right next to the pool blaring and I mean blaring the music. I love to have background music but this was blasting. Try to lay in the sun and get some rest was totally out of the question. I got some sun and a headache. I had to leave the area it was so bad.
Lido deck with their bar and grill was good food. Carl's Jr level food - it was good like any bar and grill would be. Inside they had a bit more fancier food. Not a hugh selection but some things nice.
Day 2 Cozumel:
We pulled into port and what a nice thing to be off and walking on solid ground. About half the people never even got off the boat. What a waste. The port is clean but you have to walk like a mile thru this special duty free shops - ok its only about 500 feet but seems so long. Right after this a nice place to shop - everything spotless and clean. Not like the real town. Spend and hour here if you wish but you really need to get out to see the sights.
There are lots of excursions to do. You really should take one. Also I got one thing to say to Carnival phone operators. Please learn more about what the ship does and how it all works. They kind of messed up our excursions. Telling us that one was sold out when it was not. Thanks the the GREAT people on the boat they exchanged the excursion and FULLY refunded our money. YEAH! We took the 4x4 trip. We got to drive thru town with our guides Rrrrrrrod (yes I spelled it right - got to roll your R's) and Al. This was very interesting to see how people really lived. Exciting and safe at the same time. Then we made a short stop and finally did some real off roading including a very sandy stretch. We got shook up with our wonderful "Mexican massage" as our guides called it. Nothing hurting mind you just alot of up and down and shaking. I am a big man (6'3") but drove ok and had no issues. My wife loved it and was laughing the whole time. If you are pregnant or have back issues you are not going to like this trip. We got to see a real Mayan ruin (most of the others you see are fake ones - not real at all). Got our picture taken and then got a bit of rain. Very fun! We then stopped on the beach to spend an hour. We took a walk, a swim, a hand made mexican lunch. It was all so very nice. Finally our trip back to the ship where we got some great night pictures.
The only issue is that wish we had 2 more days since there is just to much to do. Other beaches and ruins to explore.
The comedian at night was great. The Karaoke was a total blast. Loved the rules! Everyone claps - if you don't - you get to sing and the leader picks the song for you. Its very funny to hear the Old Spaghetti song done off key. There were a lot of great singers on board and alot of drunks trying to be great singers. It was a great show.
Midnight buffet was a disappointment. Again it was nice but I have seen better displays at hotels. It was nice but not top notch. Again Carnival is there for the "fun" not the food.
Day 3: Calica
The ship does move all night but there is only 10 miles between Cozumel and Calica. Where we go I don't know since we had fun in the evening.
What a dump when you get up. You are parked at a rock pile. There is nothing outside like in Cozumel. Be sure to rent a taxi or one of the excursions since there is nothing else you can do. Here again Carnival made a mistake. We checked out their web site for excursions. We were looking forward to seeing actual Mayan ruins but online nothing was open. Again we got to the ship and low and behold they have some. Again the Excursion desk took care of us and exchanged our tickets to do what we had wanted from day one. Its just confusing when their web site says one thing and really its something else. But was very happy to go to Tulum. Here is the shortest day you have to be back on board by 3:30. Not much time to explore. You typically drive south where all the things are. On the bus excursion, you are forced to stop at the tourist trap to by trinkets. We were delayed by one couple buying something and they great fully waited 20 mins. We finally got to Tulum and WOW. It was fantastic. Right on the cliff over looking some beaches what a beautiful site. My wife and I took over 50 pictures here alone. What a piece of history and with the white beaches and blue waters you had some absolutely beautiful shots. We walked all over the place and had a great time. We even got back to see the Mayan pole dance. The bus was full of everyone ready to go back when we got the bus. We were the second to last to board only being 2 mins late. I could have stayed a few more hours at this beautiful place.
The night entertainment was a sword swallowed and more comedy. Great show lots of fun. I even got a drink called a Mai Tai. My one drink of the year my wife and I share.
Day 4: At sea on your way home.
Again the night came but no stars. Cloudy all the way and again we got to rocking and rolling. It was funny to watch people walking hitting each side of the hallway. Yet they called this moderate to minor. Spent the day going to shows and eating. Stayed away from the Lido deck with the loud music again. There was no place to sit in the sun without having blaring music at you. Seems they thought we were all 20 something's looking for a great party. Well this cruise was full of old people 60+ and a lot of us middle agers. Even had 1-2 yr olds on board. This was a very mixed age group with most being over 60.
The show again was loud but good. The only problem was to get a good seat had to get there when there were doing bingo. You have better odds of being thrown overbard and then saved by dolphins then winning this thing but alot of people still tried. Most everyone did stay away from this.
We then listened to Karaoke all night laughing with the singers since they were being thrown back and forth on the stage. We did however do a standing ovation for the song "Proud to be an American". Since this ship leaves from TX, you will find that 80% of the people on board are from TX. Just got to get used to them all talking funny y'all! HAHA!
Day 5: Back at Galveston.
They called their debark process - relaxed. What a total farce. We took our time - since our flight was not till 6 pm that night. Got dressed, strolled around, had breakfast. Even then we still had to stand in line for over an hour just to get thru Immigration. The line ran the whole ship. I mean from Aft to Forward. It was totally awful! We stood near the end of the line hoping it would go down but it did not for an hour. Finally we just gave up and got in line with everyone else. After getting to the Immigration guys (only 5 of them for the whole ship of 2,000 - no wonder it took so long) we got stamped and walked out. No more lines atleast right out to our luggage and then out to the curb where we called our man LJ who drove right up with the van. We loaded up and got out of there to the airport. We had arranged to have a tour then but we decided to just get out of there. We were still feeling the effects of the sea sickness (we would still not recover until 3 days later) so we got on a flight early.
If you want fun (meaning lots of drinking, gambling and loud music) around all the time - Carnival is for you.
If you want great food and rich pampering - try another cruise lines.
If you are susceptible to sea sickness - just fly down, don't waste your time on a cruise.
Don't use Carnivals website to book your excursions. Do that as soon as you get on the boat - they have more choices there and the times so that you can determines which ones to do in the morning and which ones in the afternoon.
If you are going on a cruise call in Galveston or Houston - call LJ!
Personally I am going to skip the cruising - I don't like being sea sick. I also could have used the days at Sea still exploring Cozumel and Calica!