Number of Cruises: First Cruise
Cruise Line: Carnival
Ship: Carnival Elation
Sailing Date: October 31st, 2005
Itinerary: Western Caribbean
7 Day Western Caribbean
First things first: I guess early planning isn't always a good thing. We planned early, had to sweat and worry thru 3 hurricanes, change ports, change ships, and finally, change ports of call. I think next time I will do one of the "last minute" cruises and save my sanity!
Galveston: This was my first time there and I enjoyed it tremendously. Don't miss Moody Gardens if you go to Galveston. They have an awesome aquarium, a rainforest area, an IMAX theater, a paddle wheel boat ride, and many orther attractions for one price. We chose the Holiday Inn on the Beach because they let us park in their 24 hour secured lot for free and shuttled us to the cruise port. This not only saved us money parking, but the area of town by the port didn't appear very safe to me, so I felt better leaving it where we did.
Embarkation: We sailed thru security easily and headed for the Skipper's Club. That made everything easy, after checking us in, the clerk walked us past the long lines of people right to the gangway. We were on the ship in about 20 minutes after arrival at the port.
The it that way. Every time we were in port, there were people scrubbing the sides of the ship. The atrium is gorgeous and the bar in the atrium lobby usually had a quartet playing, which was nice. However, this ship ROCKS! It was always swaying, enough to move the curtains in the Mikado Lounge. I spoke with several people who have cruised many times and they said they had never been on ship so rough....
Our room: We were on the upper deck, U112, and it is a very spacious room. The carpet was stained in several places with what appeared to be pink kool-aid, but other than that it was fine. The bathroom was larger than I expected, about the size of a hotel bathroom, and had a whirlpool tub. We had a wonderful balcony and we spent more time there than I expected. It was nice to go out on your own balcony and watch the sunset. Our room steward, Galina, was an absolute doll and was very helpful.
Ports of Call: Puerto Progreso: We only found out we were visiting there about 4 days before the cruise, so I couldn't do much research. And even if I could have done more, I still couldn't find out much about Progreso. It is a small port with a 5 mile long pier. When you walk off the ship, there is a small shopping area that you must pass thru to get to town. Everyone here speaks at least some English and they are friendly. They have the usual t-shirts, blankets, and pottery as well as some nice silver items with fairly good prices. After you go thru this area, there is a free shuttle to the town area. As you arrive, the people on the shuttle give you a short presentation on excursions that they provide and then they drop you off at a little flea market area. I actually found some nice little items here as well and they will bargain with you here. We then took off on our own and explored the town. We found more shops but didn't venture more than a few blocks as we were afraid we would get lost! Silly touristas!
VeraCruz: This is a large city of about 1 million people...and in those 1 million we could not find anyone who spoke English! They are not accustomed to having Americans there and they appeared a little skeptical about us. Prices there are not up for discussion, they will not bargain with you at all. I was very disappointed in the items offered here, no nice silver, mostly t-shirts, keychains, and other trinkets. There is a lot of fast moving traffic here also. And some of our shipmates went to the Pharmacia there and found that the prices were not cheap as in Cozumel. I was not impressed with Vera Cruz at all and wished I could have spent more time in Progreso.
General: All in all, we had a good time. We went to a few shows, but were not really interested in the gameshows and some of the other productions. We did spend some time every day in the casino and my friends won quite a bit of money. However, I just donated to the machines but had fun. They now have penny machines, which I enjoy, but the higher denominations seemed to pay more. Just my luck!
Disembarkation went smoothly as did customs.
1. Take lots of dollar bills for tips.
2. If you smoke, wait til you get on the ship to buy them as they are cheaper. And buy all you want of your brand the first day because they sold out of my brand and I wish I had bought more.
3. Everyone who got seasick said Bonine works better than the patch, and it is available in the duty free shops on ship if you need it.