Number of Cruises: 6
Cruise Line: Carnival
Ship: Carnival Jubilee
Sailing Date: December 14th,2002
Itinerary: Western Caribbean
So excited looking forward to a holiday
sailing! Facilities at Galveston are not the best, but the cruise market is
still relatively new here so be patient. Embarkation was typical – a long line
that moved quickly. Agents were friendly and professional, no surprises, were
onboard in about 30-45 minutes from arrival at the pier.
Cabins M24 and M28 – surprise! We booked 2 inside cabins in June at the lowest-price guaranty and were upgraded to outside cabins on the Main deck. What a wonderful location. Never heard a single sound from another cabin. I had forgotten how large Carnival cabins are compared to other cruise lines. No hairdryer, but I was prepared. The safe is very small but adequate. The bathroom actually has more shelf / storage space than other lines, also. Took my mother and my 23 and 26-year old sons (one son had never cruised before and didn’t know what to expect). Dumped the luggage (all carryon) and off to explore the ship! Found the casino, the library, the dining room, the shopping, the Atlantis lounge (the heart of all the meeting places and shows, bingo, etc.). Lunch buffet was being served on the Lido deck casual dining area and yea, the ice cream machine! Pizza is great – thin crust and different types always available. People line up for it and are served quickly. Even my sons, who are pizza connoisseurs, said the pizza is great.
Our cabin steward, Errol, was quietly efficient and we were never lacking. He tidied up after us 3 times a day! Several days we had towel animals that were so funny we laughed out loud. We had (between our two cabins) a scorpion, a monkey, an elephant, a snake and a stingray that were great.
This is the best part – the food was absolutely delicious. I have sailed on NCL, RCI, Princess and Carnival, and I have to say this was the best food I have ever had on a cruise. It was good food, prepared well, and presented well – a winning combination. Both the Burgundy dining room and the casual dining are a success. There was lobster on formal night of course. Other nights there was shrimp several times, prime rib, chateaubriand, beef Wellington, lamb, duck. I was very pleasantly surprised, because I had heard how cruise lines were cutting the food budget since prices are so low now.
Docked in Calica – what a disappointment. A ripoff $10 (negotiated price) taxi ride into the disappointing town of Playa del Carmen. If you don’t want to snorkel / scuba, and if you don’t want to hang out on the beach, skip it and catch up on your sleep on board. Aggressive vendors and nothing you can’t buy in any other port. Very close to Tulum if you want to visit the ruins by bus, cab, or organized tour.
Cozumel is such a nicer port. We were lucky and docked in the heart of the downtown area and the shopping is good (still typical stuff). There is a huge assortment of tours available, or you can hop in a cab and go to Chankanaab park for some relaxing on the beach and snorkeling. Relatively inexpensive food (although we didn’t eat there, saw many others ordering hamburgers, sandwiches, canned drinks). Easy to rent a car and explore on your own. Hard to get lost on a 28-mile long island!
On the return to Galveston we went through some rough seas and the ship was rolling quite a bit. The Jubilee apparently has this tendency (stabilizers are not that good???) as I remember from sailing on her before. I don’t mind it at all, even actually enjoy it while sleeping, but I saw a lot of seasick patches on other pax.
The casino staff had a changeover at Cozumel with some new dealers coming on and some leaving. They were mostly very friendly, although several were new and had to have help from the pax on how to deal! I didn’t hear about any large slot winnings, but the tables were pretty good and fairly loose.
All in all, for a rock bottom $319 per person for an outside cabin on a 5-day cruise, the best cruise value I have had in a long time. Understand what you are getting – an older ship, which has its advantages and its disadvantages. You can choose to ignore the things that are not perfect and have a wonderful time, or you can complain about the things you shouldn’t really expect on an older, smaller ship -- your choice. We had a wonderful time and I would take this trip again in a flash. Even if you stayed onboard and never made it to shore, it is definitely an enjoyable trip.
What I would do differently – book an organized tour instead of just walking around by ourselves. Somehow disorganization (ours) kept us from accomplishing all we wanted to do. Makes no difference whether you book through the ship or independently or online, it would have forced us to get going and see what we really wanted to see. We are sorry we didn’t get to Tulum because we had a slow start that day and ran out of time. That is on the list for next time. You can shop and buy this stuff anywhere, but the beaches and the water really are beautiful and should be enjoyed as much as possible. I didn’t want to snorkel because I haven’t worn a bathing suit in public (!!) for a while because I am not the slim self I used to be, but I look like a model compared to what I saw! Absolutely do not be embarrassed or modest – just do what you want to do and don’t worry about what others might think. They are all doing the same thing as you, just trying to have a good time at a place that you may never see again.