Number of Cruises: Three
Cruise Line: Carnival
Ship: Carnival Ecstasy
Sailing Date: March 21st, 2005
Itinerary: Western Caribbean
A great mini-vacation offering good value!
We've just returned in late March from a wonderful five day cruise abroad Carnival Cruise Line's "Ecstasy"
From the beginning, everything went RIGHT for us on this trip. My fiancée and I flew from Boston to Houston, and my parents flew in from Philly early on the same afternoon, arriving within 30 minutes of one another. We found each other easily at the baggage claim, and before we knew it we were on our way to Galveston, Texas
We had pre-arranged our transportation to Galveston; I had read in a cruise review about this transfer service in Houston that was supposing really good. It was, and it turned out to be the best piece of advice we got for the entire vacation. Now, I can recommend it in this review, If you need a shuttle to transfer your family or group to Galveston, call L.J. at the Texas Cruise Ship Shuttle at (281-443-4430). This helpful and friendly man drove us door-to-door, to and from Galveston, and included a tour of the Galveston strip, and other local highlights. It was a great way to see a city we’d never visited, especially with such a knowledgeable guide. Top marks to L.J.
We had made reservations at the Holiday Inn on the Seawall overlooking the Gulf of Mexico in Galveston. This is a good hotel at a great location, with lot of restaurants and think to do near by. They also provide us with free transportation to the cruise ship terminal on our cruise day. The terminal in Galveston is pretty well set-up. If you have the time to visit downtown Galveston, do it. There are blocks of shops, restaurants and bars to kill some time. Don’t bother with the porters in Hawaiian shirts at the cruise terminal; carry your own luggage the 50 feet and drop them with the Carnival employees who will help you tag them. Our bags were outside our cabin door by the time we’d boarded and eaten lunch.
The port of Galveston is a busy place for the offshore oil-rig companies. In fact, expect to see oil-platforms for the first 10 hours sailing south. Actually, it was kind of interesting. The weather was perfect our entire cruise. Perfect for folk like us from New England! Some evenings got a little breezy on deck, but if you could find shelter from the wind, it was very pleasant. We recommend the hot-tubs just before closing at 11:00 pm. It’s a perfect place to unwind and watch the goings-on of the ship.
As for the ship itself, its was pretty comfortable. The cabins were larger than we expected, and well appointed. There was a mix-up and our room, had 2 single beds; our steward had them converted into a very comfortable double before bedtime. The basket of free bathroom necessities was a nice touch.
We had very calm winds and seas for the entire trip. The food was very good, as expected. The buffet style was passable for breakfast, not as enjoyable as lunch or dinner… with one exception. The pizza is as good as they say; The 24-hour pizzeria is one of the most popular place aboard the Ecstasy ship we could have eaten it every day. Arrive at all meals 5-10 minutes late to avoid lines. We had the good fortune of being seated with a delightful family from West Texas and had wonderful fun and conversation with them on the entire cruise. We also meant a lot of people from Oklahoma, Kansas, Iowa, Arkansas and New Mexico.
The entertainment was good, we did alot of dancing. We were not into the Vegas style shows. If you go on the cruise with a group of people you’ll have more fun than on your own. We took after dinner stroll along City Lights Boulevard, and have some fun in the ship-long promenade's themed bars and lounges.
We pull into Cozumel, Mexico at about 8:00 am. Cozumel was terrific. We booked the Mayan Adventure by Horseback at the Buena Vista Ranch. It was fully worth the cost! There are archaeological sites all over the ranch, the horses are strong and fast (we got to trot and gallop!), and the free cerveca at the end of the day was a welcome treat. Our guides were fun and interesting; it didn’t feel like a standard lead-the-tourists-around-by-hand-tour. It was educational and fun… We highly recommended this! We also found 2 hours to snorkel off Dzul Ha beach - beautiful. Its only 5 minutes from the pier by cab.
On our days at sea, we found the deck crowded and a little loud, but acceptable. A little pre-planning got us 4 lounge chairs together overlooking the rail. Grab your own chairs off the stack and set-up early in the morning. We got lots of sun in our 5 days!
Disembarkation was uneventful, everything went smoothly.. We were not hurried, so we had the whole morning to enjoy breakfast and relax, while the rest of the passengers waited in long lines to clear customs. A nice piece of luck! We ask our driver L. J. , to pick us up at 10:30 am for our return ride to the airport in Houston.
All in all, we had a wonderful vacation. If you have cruised before you are bound to compare this with other cruises you’ve taken. We've cruised on Holland America and Royal Caribbean and this cruise was different. HOWEVER, we paid peanuts for this cruise in comparison to our previous cruises, so the value is excellent.
First time cruisers will be impressed. Remember, its a “Fun Ship”!
Questions or Comments ?