Number of Cruises: 7
Cruise Line: Carnival
Ship: Carnival Jubilee
Sailing Date: March 8th, 2003
Itinerary: Western Caribbean
This was our 7th cruise, the 3rd on Carnival ( the
other 2 were on the Sensation and Victory). The other four cruises were on Royal
Caribbean (Monarch and Rhapsody), Celebrity Galaxy and Norwegian Sea. We still
prefer RCL to the other cruise lines, but will continue to cruise Carnival
because of price and port location.
First, our cruise took place during Spring Break week for many Texans which resulted in a full-to-capacity ship of 1850 people, 750 who were under 21. I think of those 750, 500 of them were young teen girls who were either members of dance teams or cheerleading squads. Lots of squealing teenage girls - very few boy teens - to the chagrin of my 16 and 18-year-old girls.
Embarkation - got there at 12:15 and waited in a LONG line for about an hour and a half before we got on the ship. I don't know what arrival time would have been better, but maybe getting there at 2pm or something. We finally got on board around 1:30-1:45.
Cabin: our group of 12 were in four 6B cabins on the Main deck with one inside 4B. They were all good-sized and thank goodness, decorated in beige instead of flaming orange. There was plenty of room for 2 adults in one cabin and also a good amount of room for our 3 teens in a cabin with a bunk. My parents had a handicapped cabin which was near the exits, stairs and elevators but was not larger than a normal cabin. My brother’s inside cabin, however, was also handicapped and it was gigantic. Mattresses in our cabin were hard and flat and I was always delighted to see an imprint of my butt on my mattress upon waking and even hours later. Not good. The in-room safe was TINY and, to open it, you have to request the key from the Room Steward. It really could not even hold much more than a couple of good-sized wallets.
Our room stewardess was fine but I rarely saw her and she seemed harassed - I think she was cleaning a lot of rooms. But, ours was kept clean twice a day so no problem.
Food: We were put in late seating - 8pm, which is something I've never done before. There are some nice points to it - no rush to dinner. But I prefer 6:30 seating instead. The dining room food was surprisingly good - we ate there EVERY evening meal and thoroughly enjoyed it. Also, all meals there were at assigned times – I actually prefer open-seating breakfast and lunch in the dining room. It just seemed silly to go to lunch at our table for 10 and have it only have the 2 of us there who decided to go to lunch. The Lido deck food was pretty low quality all the time and was ALWAYS crowded. Seating was poor, presentation of the food was poor and service there was also mediocre – the waiters looked harassed and unhappy. We ate there as few times as possible and used the dining room whenever possible. It also seemed like there were multiple times during the day when no food available except pizza and the pizza lines were always long. However, pizza, soft serve ice cream and drinks (water, tea, punch, lemonade) were always available.
Activities: not as many as expected and on a small ship, you need lots of activities. The ones available were crowded. My teens complained that there were very few things for them to do on the ship – possibly Carnival didn’t provide that many activities since there were so many groups on board doing their own thing.
Shows: for once, I didn't see a single one. I did hear the Broadway one was good.
Casino: spent a lot of time there. They had lots of nickel machines and they were fun - even actual spinning reels nickel machines. Had some luck on the $1 Wheel of Fortune machine one time, then it ate all my money the next. Had up and down luck at Blackjack and Craps. All in all, I had fun in the casino, but if you don’t like casino activities, there wasn’t that much else to do.
Art Auction: prices have really gone up on the good stuff - I can't afford more of the Dali prints I bought 3 years ago for $300 - they're now $1100. Bought a Sericell of the Simpsons’ 300th episode "Where's Bart" cartoon – it was a fun poster, but ended up costing $160 + about $50 in shipping and fees. That’s a pretty expensive poster.
Calica: did the Xcaret trip ($51 adults, $31 kids) and had a GREAT time. By the way, if you purchase this trip at Xcaret instead of a shore excursion, you can really save money on the kids’ fares, but not the adults – I believe gate prices were $48 and may $21. My only question was whether the shuttle was included free. The shuttle to the part took 10 minutes. We pulled into port around 9am, they let people off the ship at about 9:30. We waited for the crowds to go down and caught the shuttle around 10:30. We stayed in Xcaret about 5 hours and then headed back to the ship. While we were at Xcaret, we had lunch in one of the restaurants – it was pretty pricey but the food was really good – loved the Coconut Shrimp. We also bought some beers and snacks at a kiosk in the park – really pricey so I’d recommend bringing your own snacks and water. That evening, we took a $10 taxi into Playa Del Carmen (each way). This port is very poor, but we did find much better liquor prices there than in Cozumel. We spent about an hour shopping and then headed back to the ship.
Cozumel: we shopped around the ship until about 1:00pm and then rented a small sedan. It was like a 4-door Toyota Corolla, but not quite as nice, but it did have good AC, which is really important. It cost $50/day, plus $25 insurance at Executive Car Rental right outside the ship terminal. We had a great time driving up the East side of the island - secluded beaches, beautiful scenery. We ate at a restaurant called Playa Bonita about mid-way up the coast. Drinks and snack food for 5 cost about $50. We drove back to the ship through downtown and were back to turn in the car around 4pm. I'd definitely do this again, with our bathing suits and starting out earlier.
Debarkation: quick and painless. They did surprise us at 7:25 over the intercom about coming to the Terraces Lounges for Immigration. We went through a 10-minute line and were done. Then, we went back to the room, finished packing and went to late breakfast at 8:15. Came back to the room to find it cleaned and stayed there until 9:15 when they started disembarking. Then, we went right out and waited for our ride.
Summary: Jubilee is a small ship, but the crew is very friendly and the ship is well-kept. We enjoyed a 5-day cruise, but I think I'd have been bored by a longer cruise on that ship. Also, avoid holidays if possible. I still far prefer Royal Caribbean's Rhapsody of the Seas out of Galveston, but I may give Elation a try when she comes to Galveston in November, 2003.