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Mark Garnsey

Age: 41

Occupation:Public Service

Number of Cruises: 4

Cruise Line: Carnival

Ship: Carnival Ecstasy

Sailing Date: April 2nd, 2007

Itinerary: Western Caribbean

Carnival Cruise Lines
Ecstasy Cruise Review
Western Caribbean

This was a 5 day cruise out of Galveston, with stops at Progresso and Cozumel. We did the lengthy drive to Galveston and stayed at Gaidos Seaside Inn the night before. The sea food was great. First time I've taken a chance on raw oysters in a long time, due to the health scare a few years back, and they were great. Gaidos was a decent room, nothing fancy, on the beach, for $45 for all 5 of us.

We filled out our fun pass online, and embarkation was fairly fast. We checked out our room and had lunch. By the time we got back from lunch most of our luggage was waiting for us. That was fast. We met our cabin steward, checked out the ship with the kids, and began our sail at around 4:30pm. We opted for, as usual, the main seating, as opposed to late dinner. The late dinner puts you real close to any late buffets and some people are too hungry to wait and eat at the less formal cafeteria style buffets. Plus, when you get back from port, you don't have to wait four hours to eat. With a teenager and two pre-teens, eating is a priority.

We dined with a great family from the Chicago area and had fun visiting nightly. All in all we thought the food was decent, as we're not picky. However, as this is a review, I'll compare it to the Celebration cruise in '03 we did and the food was not as good, agreed on by all 5 of us. They did not include soft drinks with dinner on this cruise. This is the first cruise where pop was extra at dinner time. We don't drink enough pop to justify the card you can by allowing you to drink all the pop you want. Knowing several people in the restaurant and food business, I know the pop is fairly cheap for the syrup etc. So this was cheapened somewhat. The lobster and duck were good. They are smart when they list the menu. On one particular night they had duck, lobster, and prime rib as choices. This limits the amount of the prime dishes. If they offered duck one night, lobster the other, etc they would have more pricey entrees being ordered. I asked Loredana, our waitress from Romania for the duck and lobster together and it was no problem whatsoever. Service was good. We had an early morning so we did not eat at the Gala buffet but we took pictures.

We don't do the shore excursions. They have become too pricey, especially when all 5 of us cruise. We prefer to strike out on our own and do the same thing the excursions do for a fraction of the price. At Progresso we just toured the town. We took a bus form the port, which was free. The Guide told us they were Mayan, and not Spanish. Yucateca he said. He also said Welcome to Mexico, real Mexico. If you want to go to Carlos and Charlies and Senor Frogs, you'll see that crap tomorrow in Cozumel. Little does he know that I will wager in 5 years there'll be a Carlos and Charlies or something similar in Progresso. Cozumel has grown unbelievably since we first went there years ago. At the port in Progresso things are pricey. The markets and stores in town are cheaper. A store owner saw me with a Harley shirt on. Of course he wanted to sell me one for $18. I told him I didn't pay that much for the one I had on that I bought in the United States. I told him I couldn't afford his prices, and offered him $5. He scoffed at me. We then got 5 comparable shirts for $20 in town. On the way out I saw him and told him the price had gone down, I'd give him $3 for his shirt. Hey he gets enough suckers, I might as well rub it in a little. There are markets in Progresso. Chickens hang in the heat. I don't think it would fly in the states. But it's authentic.

We sat on the beach and for $1.80 each U.S. the wife and I had a couple beers on the beach. With that he brought chips and salsa. When I went across the street to buy them myself, they wanted $2! Some places did not have American money, so take plenty of $1.00 bills. The purser's desk will make change.

The next stop was Cozumel. I would guess a snorkeling excursion in Cozumel would run $75 per person if purchased through Carnival. All 5 of us snorkeled near Chan Kanab Park in Cozumel. Actually we went to Playa Uva, about 200 yards from the park. The park is nice we heard, but only having 2 hrs we didn't want to pay to go to the park. It's $16 per person to get in, and then snorkeling gear is extra. All five of us went to Playa Uva and 4 of us snorkeled for $57. And they gave us 5 cokes upon entry. We saw lots of colorful fish and the kids had a blast. If I wanted to, I could have snorkeled over to the park.

The Mexican Gov't regulates liquor prices now from what I was told. There was a stamp on it, all the same stamp at all of the stores. They would not budge on liquor prices. Kahlua they would deal, but I had plenty at home. The cabbie told me where he buys his tequila. I told him I didn't need great tequila as with margaritas, you don't need premium tequila. They had a brand there that was about $7.25 per bottle U.S., although this I hope is better. I used to buy it for that in the states. You can get some awesome tequila for about $15 a bottle that goes down like candy. Try it. The stuff we get here is only good for mixing.

Disembarking was the only real complaint. Carnival should call numbers etc. They have a self serve where you carry your own luggage off. I figured that there might only be a few dozen people do this. I was wrong. They said don't go to the 7th floor. Of course that's where everyone went. A little old lady beat me up and tried to pass me on every corner and park her bag on my foot because I was rude enough to leave 6 inches between my self and the person in front of me. Then we get down to the custom's desk and she forgot to have her immigration declaration form done, so she stopped off at the desk. I surmise a couple hundred people then passed her by while I was in line. It was even nicer watching that than it was dealing with the Harley shirt fella in Progresso. I kind of enjoy watching rude people or scammers get handed their just desserts.

We wanted to get off quick as we had a 19 hr drive ahead. Had we not been in a hurry I would do the same as we did in the ports. Let the mad rush off, then walk up and off the ship with no line. They did call numbers to allow those off in port. It took a little while in Cozumel as they used tenders to get people off. We had breakfast while they called numbers. I went to get a number when they said anyone can get off now. We walked out. Maybe only 20 minutes behind the rush, but without standing in line for an hour. All in all a great time. The little slip in food quality and the disembarkation nightmare cattle stampede did not detract from us enjoying ourselves. If something doesn't go quite right, we're not the type to let it ruin the trip. We'd do it again. Carnival is about the only line I know of that can get 5 of us in a room.


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