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Thelma Loo


Occupation:Business owner

Number of Cruises: 1

Cruise Line: Carnival

Ship: Carnival Elation

Sailing Date: May 30th, 2004

Itinerary: Western Caribbean

We came from Alabama, Florida and Texas. "We" are six girls who graduated from high school together....some 40 + years ago, off on our annual spring fling. We are particular, fussy, finnicky and hard to please. We have had some wonderful adventures together but never tried a cruise. We chose Carnival, frankly, because it was convenient and thought it would be a good way to test the water, so to speak. We came away from our week on the Elation, totally elated!

Our trip started with an overnight in Galveston at The Holiday Inn on the Beach, as it was one of the few hotels on the island that would take a one night booking. I cannot say enough about this hotel. We have never encountered a staff quite like this one. They literally work overtime to please their guests. Case in point being the shuttle driver who dropped us at Guides and told us to take our time...he got off at 10:pm but waited until well past 10:30 for us to finish. We took advantage of the Holiday Inn 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. With a twinkle in his eye, as he lifted the 4th big bag onto the van, he said, " so you ladies are off on a months cruise?"....Our kind of guy! 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 was fast and worry free.
>From the time we were dropped off at the dock until we were on deck, with a drink in hand was less than an hour.

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 normally clutter up a bathroom counter.
By the time we finished muster, our bags were waiting for us in the hallway. We brought aboard a soft side ice chest that held cokes, water, a gallon bottle of Vodka and Bloody Mary mix, all of which made it up with our luggage unscathed. 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. You can't help being impressed with Carnival's food service when you consider how many meals they prepare and serve daily. During the course of a week we all had different favorites, but can't remember a time when we were truly unhappy with any of our selections.

At the end of the cruise there seemed to be allot of pressure to tip the maitre d'...this didn't sit particularly well with our group, as we rarely saw him and were only greeted by him at the door on our 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 before dinner 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 friendly bunch they are...Leah, was always on hand to greet us and seemed to know immediately 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 had read grumblings about the ubiquitous photographers, but we decided it was all part of the total experience, posed when they asked us to, and only bought what we wanted.

We all took advantage of the spa, in one capacity or another. I highly recommend Edwin in the hair salon for a cut and style....really one of the best cuts I've had in years. Several of us opted for the treadmills for morning workouts....less windy than the outside track. Our Monday at Sea, was extremely windy. However, this didn't deter us from finding our place in the sun, but did send us chasing hats and towels across the deck a few times

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 hacieda, I would have liked a few more stops for comparisons. They did however, serve us a delightful light lunch 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. Recommend 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 time!

Belize was a nice surprise. We all did the Altun Ha and City Tour, with very knowledgeable young guides who gave us a great overview of Belize. It reminded me allot of early trips to the Yucatan, before cruise ships and huge hotel complexes. We had an enjoyable lunch in the courtyard of the Smoky Mermaid, within walking distance of the tender dock. Bought Belizean 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 time!

The last two days onboard were leisurely and delightful, each of us doing our own thing and meeting up occasionally for latte or lunch on the Lido deck, (I highly recommend the grilled potato and yam salad at Tiffany's). The casino onboard is small but they made loosing almost enjoyable. 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. We all decided the shopping onboard was a nice surprise....good selections, good prices, and personable and helpful salespeople

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 big complaint being that there are too many onboard options for a seven day cruise....There will definitely be a next time!!!!

I guess if you are looking for things to grumble and groan about, you would be able to find plenty....little things that aren't worth ruining a vacation over. There are so many options onboard that if one doesn't suit you, something else surely will. We all decided it was the perfect trip for a group with different interests and different expectations. Tip: Take a set of walkie-talkies, it will definitely help cut down on the time spent chasing your group from one deck or venue to the other...sounds silly, but getting lost onboard was a daily occurrence that made for a bit of frustration and lots of giggles.

A quick PS: The unsung heroes of the Carnival fleet are all those people you pass everywhere, constantly cleaning and polishing, always with a smile or pleasant greeting...a very impressive crew.

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