Number of Cruises: 5
Cruise Line: Carnival
Ship: Carnival Jubilee
Sailing Date: February 13th,2003
Itinerary: Western Caribbean
Ship Carnival Jubilee, February 12, 2003, 4 night, Galveston, TX - Cozumel, Mexico.
We were full RCCL loyalists until Galveston opened. The ability to drive down and grab a quick cruise was worth a break into Carnival. We knew the size of the ship to be a plus in our opinion. We love the Nordic Empress. We also prepared ourselves for a 1986 ship, it would not be the shiny, glitzy, modern era floating hotel of today.
Overall we were pleased. We quickly overlooked the age of the ship, the Texan clientele of modern cruising, and the short itinerary. We specifically wanted a do-nothing relax voyage, and we got exactly that. Seas were choppy, but not really large. Still the smaller ship tossed about pretty good. This is GREAT for us, loving to rock to sleep. Others commented, but no real complaints. Bags were placed about the ship after our day in Cozumel though.
Embarkation thru the Galveston port was very painless. We chose the port's official parking option, whereby you can drive right up along the pier building and drop off the luggage. Porters were plentiful and friendly. You then drive a short distance to the parking lot and ride back via shuttle. $40 payment was due upon arrival. Shuttles were plentiful and timely.
The usual screening and line process was underway. Facility was roomy and well air conditioned. As always, it pays to have forms pre-filled. Not many tables or pens available. Line to check in was quick, cruise cards were in hand without any trouble. Photo record made a second station to match your cruise card, very quick and painless. One more souvenir photo op, and we were on the ship and quickly directed to the cabin.
E31, topmost floor for cabins (except for suites). Right side, forward. While dated in design and color, no obvious stains, tears, or other issues. Large for a 1986-class ship, we thought. Robes provided. Storage plentiful. According to the floor plan, this room is located under a video arcade which caused some trepidation. That has since been converted to a jewelry store, so no noise issue was present. Close to the main Atlantis lounge, the muffled noise of music or laughter could be heard at times. But never to a degree of annoyance. Standard window, large bay sill to sit in.
Fine by any cruise standard. Lots of choices, both in times and locations - but also in the dishes offered at dinner. Even picky eaters found several courses to order and enjoy. Table waiter somewhat reserved, fine service, but nothing extraordinary. Assistant waiter kept all glasses full, a challenge for a table full of Texas iced-tea drinkers.
We chose this cruise for its sea days and overall lack of activities, all relax mode. However, it is good we did, because there seemed to be a lack of 'happenings'. Possible the small decks or un-open design of those decks attributed to this sense of nothing going on. There was also a large group on board with several private meeting functions, these also may have cut into the events. Internet access was handy, for babysitter emails - but quite expensive. About $1 per minute. Terminals were well setup and easy to use.
Nice new piers and facilities. The same old shops found downtown are now right close to the ship. Prices seemed the same. Excursions were well labeled and organized. We chose the Passion Island tour, mostly for its relax score. It was a pretty long bus ride thru downtown and around the northern end of the island. Then a quick tender ride over to Passion Island itself. Very nice facility, plenty of trees, chairs, hammocks, beach. Lunch was provided, nothing exciting, but a good meal. Soft drinks and beer provided, although not many hard drinkers present. Three hours on the beach, some volleyball and other beach activities. Water was cool (February) and good for swimming. No snorkeling. Its value was a toss up. The 2+ hours spent going/coming to the ship versus the 3 hours to enjoy was a close call. You could have taken a 30 min trip to the National Park and got about the same thing and added snorkeling. The difference was the crowd. Passion Island is a Carnival exclusive right now. There were less than 120 people on the whole area. Very clean, private, quiet, and secluded.
Shows were average affair. There was an Austin-based guitar player that played one night in one of the lounges, very good. Lounge is well laid out for an older ship. Cruise director Mark Hawkins did a nice job of entertaining. More of a true comedic style versus the too-happy method used by some. Mark reminded everyone of Howie Mandell and his style of content and delivery. Bingo was not very popular like on RCCL. Casino is much roomier than other ships, not lined with tables and slots. Plenty of room for spectators or not feel crowded while at the tables. Dice were strangely fond of the seven and ruthlessly depleted my bankroll.
Smoking was everywhere. The Promenade deck, which a single deck lined with one lounge after another, is also a gauntlet of smoke. Smoking also permitted in the stairwell area leading to the main dining room. Too much for our taste.
When did they added auto-tipping? We did not know about this until the last day when the bills started to arrive. Your waiter/assistant/steward were all auto tipped to your account. Convenient, yes, but I don't like it. Everyone has their opinions I guess. If staff complains of under-tipping, then increase salary and charge more for ticket. If passengers complain about change, have charge tipping as an option. But I like to tip my own amount. More for some, and sometimes less for others. And I like to HAND it directly to the person. Just me I guess. Bottom line, I would want it optional.
Seems like in the early 90's, it was easy to find a constant stream of workers that poured over a ship. Always painting, polishing, shinning, or washing windows. Not like that much anymore. There are lots of nice areas to sit and watch the waves roll by, but every window was very dirty.
Our last cruise was pre 9/11, so not accustomed to immigration process. It was done by baggage color, but all persons had to line up and proceed to immigration. The line IN was down the Promenade deck thru the smokers. Into the back lounge, where the guy did not even glance at our IDs or paperwork, he just stamped our customs form. Then the line exited OUT the same way, so back thru the line you had to walk (again thru the smoke). Not terribly time consuming, although it interrupted the breakfast flow a lot. Many hesitated to go to breakfast, cause they did not when their color would be called. Just go to breakfast as you want. If you miss your color, just get in line after you eat.
Actual leaving the ship went very quickly. The first color was called at 9:50am. We were the second to last color, and exited the gangplank at 10:20. Bags were easy to find by color, customs was the usual 'go on ahead' speech.
Getting the bags to the car? No bags allowed on the shuttles to the parking lot. Cars and busses trying to find and pickup passengers and luggage was VERY disorganized and inefficient. The pier has three lanes of traffic but no control. People trying to get in, others trying to get out. Very crowded sidewalks and few porters. No way to 'wait your turn', you just had to find your luggage and partner, then jockey your car into position to get them. People waiting for busses and shuttles not at the main parking lot, waited in very long lines. This part of the process needs a lot of work Galveston.