Number of Cruises: 2
Cruise Line: Carnival
Ship: Carnival Elation
Sailing Date: December 26th, 2004
Itinerary: Progress, Western Caribbean
I must say right away that we had the best waiter (Joven) and steward (Joslyn) one could possibly want. These two people were courteous, friendly, and wonderful to know. I cannot imagine a company having better employers than these two people.
The first port stop was in Progresso. I booked a tour online through Autoprogresso. There were problems at first since we did not catch up with the tour guide immediately off the ship due to communication problems. Even the police in downtown Progresso weren't able to help us. However, we did make our connection with Autoprogresso and had a great experience. Juan Carlos was our tour guide and took us to Uxmal to see the Mayan ruins and then to Merida to do some shopping. Uxmal is a beautiful ruin. I also contacted the Yucatan Tourism Office and was told that Uxaml was more beautiful in architecture than Chichen Itza. We truly enjoyed this experience. The walking sure helped us burn off some of those calories from the food on the ship! Juan Carlos then took us on to Merida - the capital city of Yucatan. We bought a lot of gifts - especially handmade crafts (carved jaguar head, wooden bowl). Since we still had time to shop after Merida we went back to Progresso to do some shopping. We ended up buying some silver jewelry.
The next port was in Cozumel. I booked reservations ahead of time with Dolphin Discovery to swim with sea lions at Chankanaab National Park south of town. We took a taxi from the port terminal to the park. This was a nightmare! I was amazed with the construction and traffic. We had some free time to spare before the sea lion adventure when we arrived at the park so we decided to snorkel for an hour. The cost was $8 for mask, snorkel, and fins.
The water was nice and clear and we saw lots of
fish. I kept on sticking my head too deep under the water filling up my snorkel
with salt water! The sea lion swim was truly an experience of a life time. The
water was a little cool at first. How many people will experience holding and
kissing a sea lion? After this we took a taxi back to downtown Cozumel and did
some more shopping. We shopped quite a bit.
The next port of call was Belize. We took tenders off the ship into the port. I am not a big fan of tenders. I booked an excursion with X-Treme to go cave tubing. We did not get off of the ship until after 9:15 or later. We were on the 1st tender available for persons not having a tour with the cruise line. Our tour guide (Emanuel) met us at the dock and briskly took us to the van. There ended up being 6 of us on this tour. We ended up driving down a BUMPY (and exciting) road on our way to the river. Once there, Emanuel took us on a hike in the rainforest and pointed out various trees. He walked very fast. We ended up going through 2 caves (the cruise ship tour takes you through 1 cave). The first cave was great since there were only the 7 of us in it. This was a great experience. I can see why this excursion has received rave reviews from people. After the tubing we went back to the terminal and did some shopping.
The next two days were spent on the ship. I laid in the sun for 2 of them, watched football (New Year's Day), shopped on board in the gift shop, and did a little gambling at the casino.
Now for the down side of the cruise. First of all, I was not pleased with the teenagers (13-15 years old) being drunk on the ship. I complained at the information desk about this and was treated like I was the guilty party. I did not witness the unruly behavior by teenagers on my previous cruise. I do not know if this was because of the date of the cruise of where the cruise was from. Secondly, one night our waiter was assigned an extra table. Some special people (cruise workers from Italy) came aboard ship in Cozumel. Both the Maitre d" and his assistant kept telling our waiter to give them special attention. This was done in front of us. My prime rib and broccoli were cold. I did not want to complain at the time as I did not want our waiter to be reprimanded. At the end of the meal the Maitre d" pointed to our waiter to get over to the other table when his was passing out pictures of the ship to us. This angered me and did my best to bite my tongue. Not once did the Maitre d" come to our table. However, I counted 5 times during the one evening that he came back to the "special" table to instruct our waiter to service them.
My final complaint is not exactly against the cruise line or the Elation staff. The ship had difficulty being allowed to dock once we arrived back in Galveston due to severe fog. People were supposed to stay in their designated areas. However, people disobeyed the staff's requests and packed in the halls, stairways, and main entrance. This caused problems for the way people should have left the ship. I don't know if this was just a Texas thing, but I have never witnessed such rudeness like this before.
Overall, I thought the food was good. Joven brought me 3 main dishes on the last night (veal, spinach stuffed chicken breast, and beef tenderloin). We ate in the Imagination dining room every night. I must admit that I am more of a meat and potatoes type of guy but did find something every night that I enjoyed.
Here are some hints if you are planning on taking this trip.
1. Take an excursion while in Progresso. I suggest that you contact Autoprogresso and arrange a tour through them. Uxmal is wonderful! Don't miss it. Don't pay more with the ship and be stuck with lots of people. This will also give you time to shop.
2. I recommend Chankanaab National Park while in Progresso for the fact that you can do several things in one area (dolphins, sea lions, snorkel, shop, eat). There is a changing room (lockers cost $3) at the park. The cab ride costs $10 one way from downtown Cozumel. This will also give you time to shop in Cozumel.
3. Book cave tubing with XTreme. This allows you to go through 2 caves. This is a longer tour than the one (and cheaper) offered through the ship. The shops in the port terminal at Belize our nice.
4. Avoid going out of Galveston during the winter, especially if you have a flight to catch prior to 4:00 p.m. I have been told that there are regular delays with the ships both leaving and arriving during the winter.
5. Save lots of money by booking tours ahead of time. Don't forget that you can always book an excursion when you get in port.
I have all of the contact information with people if you need it.