Number of Cruises: 2
Cruise Line: Carnival
Ship: Carnival Elation
Sailing Date: June 19th, 2005
Itinerary: Western Caribbean
Carnival Cruise Line
Elation Cruise Review
This was our second cruise, and second with Carnival. The first was on the Celebration, also out of Galveston. A 5 nighter. I must say that we enjoyed this cruise much more. This is my first real attempt at a cruise review. I wouldn't hold your breath reading it, I will not be responsible for the head injury you receive after passing out and falling on the floor.
We had a target of getting out of Austin for Houston by noon on Friday. Started packing at 1:30. We spent most of the day making last minute preparations for the flooring install while we were gone. Finally left town about 5:30, actually had clear sailing on I-10 through Houston and arrived at the in-laws about 8:50 after stopping for dinner in Bastrop.
Saturday was spent lounging around the house and making a trip to Academy to find a hard shell water proof glasses case, since mine was sitting in a drawer at home. That evening we celebrated Father's Day with Carol's folks, with a little something for birthday's and anniversary.
Left the house about noon, made it to the parking lot (Easy Cruise, $55 for the week) about 1:00. And waited 20 minutes in the Texas noon day sun for a van. I don't think it was worth the money saved. Maybe next time we'll try Dolphin, although they didn't seem to have anymore covered spaces.
We were at security by 1:30 and whizzed through that line. Ran into a very long line at check in, but it moved quite quickly. There was a lady walking through the line, making sure that our Sail & Sign authorizations were fill out correctly. Finally reached the head of the line, with 22 check in stations it didn't take long. The gentleman that took our information asked our name, looked it up on the computer and didn't even ask for the Funpass form. He just said "I need to see your passports" and then asked for a credit card. He handed us our gold Sail & Signs, we signed them and were off to the ship, all before 2:00. Our room was ready, so we dropped off out things and headed out to explore the ship. The flowers I had ordered were there and looked quite nice.
The Rhapsody was in port, too, it was interesting getting a look at her. She had been in port when we were in Cozumel last year, but was at Puerto Maya. We took some pictures of her from the fan tail, then went in for a little something to eat at Tiffany's. Good food, which portended well for the trip.
Our room was made up with two twins pushed together. We flagged down a steward in the hall and asked who our steward was. He said he was it and I asked that the beds be made up as a king. He said he'd do it while we were at dinner, which he did. More on the steward in a moment.
Dinner was very good. I won't go into everything we had, but the starters, salads and main courses were consistently good to excellent through out the week. I already knew some of our table mates, as it was a group another agent had set up that I booked into. They were celebrating her in-laws 40th, so we kind of skipped my birthday. Our waiter Otto (Hungary) and assistant John (Taiwan) introduced themselves and Otto said that if there was anything they could do, just speak up. They definitely made dinner a very pleasant experience.
We returned to our stateroom to find our bed made up and turned down. We had spent about three hours in our stateroom unpacking before dinner (and just relaxing) and had never met our steward. I didn't expect to see him at 9:30, so we just assumed we'd see him in the morning. We crawled into bed only to discover that our bed was made up with several sets of overlapping twin sheets, with double coverage in some areas and no coverage in others. Not a good end to the day.
Monday morning (Carol's birthday) we had a wake up call. After I did the shower & shave thing, we were off to breakfast in the restaurant. After breakfast it was back to the room for a little lounging. Room was made up, but no steward (you can see where this is going). We got up, walked around the deck for a while before heading down to the Mikado theater for a welcome aboard show. Our CD Jorge Solano was very funny and kept things going. We had the traditional spoon race with some pretty hilarious moments. One of the women was asked who she was traveling with and she replied "my wife and two kids", followed immediately by "no, I mean my husband"! "I thought we were having a Dr. Phil moment" said Jorge and someone in the audience yelled "Jerry! Jerry!". The race was fun, with comments along the lines of "guys, more slack, I don't want to see the color of her panties". The comedian was great, just wish I remember his name. Then it was off to lunch. After lunch we spent some more time on deck, playing a little cribbage and one of us doing some people watching, or at least certain parts of certain people. We both had manicures done ($40 each plus tip) and Carol headed back to the room for a nap. Did I mention she works 10-12 hours a day, sometimes 6 days a week? I went off to the Cole Porter lounge for a quick drink. While I was gone, we had a little delivery. A gift basket with two champaign flutes, a picture frame and a bottle of Korbel were delivered to the room, courtesy of a good friend of outs. I got back to the room in time to dress for dinner (late seating) and we headed back for another pleasant dinner. Since it was formal night, we did lots of pictures. I gave Carol a card at the restaurant, and had another hidden under her pillow. Bed turned down and towel animal in place along with mints. But the sheets were once again an arrangement of twins that didn't really work and caused some entanglement.
Tuesday was Progresso. We slept in, had breakfast at Tiffany's (that would make a great movie title) and headed into town. The jetty is almost five miles long and took about 10 minutes by bus. Once into town, we walked a few blocks to the beach. After searching for about 10 minutes for a palapa, we went to a restaurant and I ordered a Carona while Carol had lemonade. We chatted with another group there, had some lunch and mas cervasa, then headed back to the ship for our massages. We had a couples massage scheduled for 3:00. It was great, well worth the money ($242, discounted as it was a port day). While we were there, the ship headed out.
Tuesday was our 25th anniversary and I had a cake ordered. We took along the champaign, which Otto substituted for one already chilled. We had flutes set out for all the adults at the table and split the bottle over dinner. GiGi (celebrated there 40th on Sunday) had iced tea but no sugar. So I jokingly suggested a little champaign. Which she tried and loved. And got a little sloshed. Our cake, chocolate was delivered, along with their cake (coconut cream), which was supposed to have been delivered on Sunday, but Carnival had lost the order. There was singing and laughter. It seems that there were two or three birthdays or anniversaries every night. Both cakes were delicious. Our room was turned down, again, but, surprise, twin sheets.
Wednesday was Cozumel. Carol was going to do a little unsupervised shopping while I went diving. I had had mixed results with Sand Dollar on our last cruise, but they were much better this time. Instead of a 45 minute boat ride to their shop, we took taxis. I had all my gear, so it was a bit of a drag for me. Our first dive was Santa Rosa wall, which was supposed to be 80 for 30 but my computer said it was more like 90 for 35. Second dive was Yocab, 60 for 35. Hard floor at 65 kept that limit, but I went 45 before being ordered up by the DM. Then it was another trip back to the shop and another taxi ride back to Punta Langosta. Carol was already back in the room, having spent only a little money on some candle holders (onyx) and some 2.5% hydrocortisone. We had lunch at Tiffany's and then played some more cribbage in the room. We went back on deck for the sailing. Dinner was again very good, although we did have a little drama. Carol had the filet. Suddenly I heard her gagging and trying to cough. I gave her a slap on the back, then got up and went behind her. I put my arms around her and gave a pump. Nothing. Another squeeze and out came a big chunk of meat. By this time, Otto, John and two other waiters were there. Carol was gasping, but otherwise okay. In a flash, Otto picked up the plate with the chunk of meat on it. He asked if there was anything they needed to do for her. She said she was okay. He then asked if there was anything else he could get her and she said no. John made sure her water glass was full (as if he didn't do that every night). She had a sherbet for dessert, which she ate fully. People were calling me a hero, I was calling myself a lucky husband. We went back to our room and were amazed to discover king sheets on the bed. But we still didn't know who our mystery steward was.
Thursday was another early day. We had booked a cave tubing trip through shoretrips.com. We were supposedly to wait until all of the ship's excursions had tendered in, but ran into our friends who had stickers saying they were on the ship's trip. So we went to the Mikado, told them we were on the cave tubing excursion and got stickers for the earlier tender. Okay, so we cheated. But we never said we were on the ship's trip, just "a" cave tubing trip. The excursion was great, there were only 14 of us, we got a quick tour of Belize City along with a history of the city and Belize. Then it was off into the country. We were in a brand new 15 passenger Toyota van, delivered the day before. When we took off down the dirt road, I laughed and said "new shocks, new paint" and the driver said "not for long". Surprisingly, it rained in the rain forest. We hiked about 45 minutes to the put in point, with a nature and history narrative along the way. The path was muddy, slippery and tricky to navigate with an inner tube on one's shoulder. To get in the water, our guide (Marcel) hopped in first, then took the tube. You hold onto a rope, lean back and drop into the tube, then float along. He had us set up in a long train as we floated into the first cave. Being a claustrophobe, I had no idea how I'd feel, but only had minor twinges and no real panic. We had headlamps, but they were off for parts of the trip through the caves. There were some rapids and shallow spots, for which we learned the phrase "wiggle wiggle wiggle". Also "up butt". Which didn't prevent some of us (not I) from dragging bottom. The float trip took about an hour and a half. Then it was a ten minute walk back to the base, where we had an excellent lunch. I snoozed on the trip back to the pier. Once there, we did some shopping at a little market on Fort Street, where we found some very nice wood carvings and an attractive belt for Carol. We caught a late tender back to the ship and watched the last minute tenders coming in, wondering who figured that 5:15 really meant 5:20. It turned out that several of our group WERE on the very last tender!! Once everyone was onboard, we left very quickly. We napped for a while, took another tour around and watched some of the festivities. We had been invited to a past guests reception, complete with free booze and hors 'dervors. Then it was off to another marvelous dinner. And a bed made with king sheets!
Friday was a late day, with breakfast at Tiffany's. We had a little snack there later and were amused to hear a page for someone. Then a second. The story on the whole thing is posted below. Dinner was kind of subdued, although the waiter's parade and singing went on as scheduled. It was the second formal night, so more pictures. Much conjecture and speculation as to what actually happened.
Saturday was an early day, as Carol had a spa taster treatment at 8. After she got back we went to breakfast, then took another stroll around the deck. The forward observation deck was incredibly breezy. After lunch we went back to the stateroom when we heard the announcement about the engine (did he really mean the pod?) We made two stops for repairs. Once again we went to the gym for a workout (went almost every day) along with a soak in the whirlpool. I got back to the room in time for a shower and then headed out to the spa for a facial. Very nice, probably worth what I actually paid for it. Got the heavy sell on product, but didn't buy anything. Afterwards I went to the Lido deck and tried to enter the hairiest chest contest, but was #11 of 10. Sigh, and I was clearly better than the winner. Dinner that night included château briand. Since we had had that on our honeymoon at the Don Cesar in St. Petersburg, we just had to have it. We made another circuit of the deck, taking pictures and memories.
Sunday was early up early and off to Tiffany's again. We choose the express self debark. With everything that went on, we were only about an hour late getting to the dock. We were off the ship and through Customs by 9:20 and at our car by about 9:35. We got to Carol's parent's house about 10:30 and the pups were happy to see us. We repacked the car with all of the stuff and headed out shortly after noon. Nothing else of interest happened, and when we got home we were very please with the new flooring. Now all we have to door is put felt on everything and seal the grout.
I'm sure I've forgotten numerous things. Like how I burned 98 of my 100 minutes of internet time. Or all the pictures we bought.
Now the grim story. We heard a page at about 11 for Mrs Vonnie Ailes to report to the purser. I made a comment about burning through her cash deposit. Then another page about 15 minutes later. We went back to our room, heard another page in the hall. At about 11:45 there was a page in the room, which caused a little concern. Carol said "this can not be good". Another page. Then at noon the Captain came on. "Ladies and gentlemen, we appear to have lost a passenger. We are turning around and returning to the point at which she was last seen at 7 am this morning." All during the day her picture was seen on every TV screen on the ship. They had it on two channels in the staterooms and it was shown during breaks in the programs in all the bars. We did several figure eights along the way and were escorted by two Mexican Guardia Civil ships and later a Mexican warship and the Coasties. We reached our destination around 5 and orbited for about an hour. Finally we headed back. During the entire trip down, I think that every pair of binoculars on the ship were in use. We reached our turn around point around 10:30 pm. The ship was really moving. I think we were doing close to maximum. The bow was up and we were riding stern down.
On Monday we read that the FBI had ruled out accident and foul play, but didn't really say the actual cause. It turns out that she was an epileptic and was suffering from depression. She had apparently taken her medication and then said she was going out to find a place on deck to snooze. That was the last anyone saw of her. A very sad time for her family, who have our sincerest condolences.