October 16, 2006
Pre-cruise: We arrived in Galveston a day early and stayed at the Baymont Inn and Suites on 63rd. I highly recommend this facility if you are looking for clean, reasonably priced lodging. They have a good location, nice clean rooms, internet access throughout the building (wired and wireless), free breakfast, and free cruise parking is offered.
Parking and Embarkation: We were going to park at EZCruise but the morning of the cruise Galveston had a huge amount of rain. I tried getting to the lot prior to going for the cruise and the streets were over curb deep in water. I called EZCruise and parked at the Port of Galveston, Lot A. It was $10.00 more than the other, but I feel it was money well spent. From the time that I dropped my wife and luggage until we were sitting on the Lido deck eating lunch was 1 hour. We were allowed VIP embarkation since we had paid for a suite.
Cabin: What can I say about this? We had a Category 12 suite on the Upper Deck. We did this because we were celebrating our 30th anniversary. The cabin was absolutely marvelous. Unfortunately, I fear we may be spoiled and if we are able to cruise again, we know we won’t be able to afford the suite. It was a great treat to us. Our cabin steward was Parinda, from Thailand and she was a delight! Parinda came by our cabin about an hour after we "moved" in. She gave us ways to contact her, informed us of her normal work hours, let us know she would be there when we needed her and out of our way the rest of the time. She took excellent care of us and the cabin, provided us with beautiful towel animals each night, and made sure we always had clean towels and ice in the bucket. FYI, you can connect components such as DVD player and Play-stations to the new televisions. They have component and S video hookups on the bottom rear of the flat panel.
Progresso: We took the Dzibilchaltun Mayan Ruin tour through Carnival. It was reasonably priced and gave us peace of mind. The tour was good, and our guides were very funny and knowledgeable. I came away with a much better understanding of how advanced the Mayan civilization was. We did not shop in Progresso or spend any time at the shops on the pier.
Cozumel: We were able to dock in Cozumel and were right at the city when exiting the boat. We took no tours here but spent the day shopping. I would have been much better off springing for a tour. My wife really enjoyed the shops and stores which line the main street. A bit too much! For the most part everyone accepted "No" when you said it politely with a thank you. There was one exception to this. Some guy was selling timeshares and he was very pushy. Just kept following us down the street until my wife told him we were not going anywhere with him. He saw he had pushed her a little too far and backed off then.
Dining: We were seated at the 6:15 seating in the Wind Star dining room and had a blast! Our waiters were Rubon from Honduras, and Gino from Peru. They were the best you could hope for. As they got to know us and our likes they would make suggestions on different menu items. We had an excellent group of dining mates. We were the old folks at the table. There were 2 couples on their honeymoons and 1 young man had brought his mother from Germany for her birthday and a cruise. It was so much fun being able to visit with them and hear their stories. Our Maitre’d was Orhan from Turkey. He was always there to greet us when we came in, came by the table frequently during the meal to check on us, and always made sure there was something going on. The staff interacted well with the guest.
The food in the dining room was excellent with 2 exceptions and we were warned. The lobster was tough and rubbery and the lobster bisque was so strong you couldn’t stand the taste. Our waiters immediately asked if we would like something else and also made suggestions for other items.
Formal night was Tuesday, the 1st full day at sea. Guest were dressed in everything from jeans to tuxes and formals. I will say this; those who wore jeans had very nice, ironed jeans on. They for the most part wore very nice shirts and in some cases ties. I had no problem with the way anyone was dressed. I had taken my tux but opted for a suit when I saw that tuxes were in the minority. The important thing is that everyone had a great time and enjoyed a fantastic dining experience.
We also enjoyed food on the Lido deck. They had a good variety each day for lunch. We could find nothing to complain about here, but then we are simple people and not very demanding as long as what is hot is supposed to be and what is cold is supposed to be.
Entertainment: The first night the show was cancelled because of the rolling ship. We caught the rest of the shows, and while we enjoyed them, they were not the quality we expected. 2 exceptions to this; the beautiful dancing of Youri and Louda, and the show on the last evening, which featured comic Tommy Drake and fiddler Barry Van Wie (both were great). We also enjoyed the guest talent show on Wednesday night. Barry Jobe and Leigh Hussman are good vocalist but Hussman is out of her element doing country (jmho). We did not catch any of the other comedy acts.
Debarkation: A JOKE! Carnival has rules in place, no one follows them, and Carnival doesn’t enforce them. Carnival just needs to post a sign that says "Debarkation is at your own risk. Leave when you want to because we don’t care"! Enough said.
Overall, the cruise was a great experience. The first night was rough because of the horrible weather, but there was nothing the crew could do about that. The ship is beautiful and very well maintained. The staff and crew were fantastic. Everyone was polite and most spoke decent English. Some were a bit shy but no one was short or rude. We would sail the Ecstasy again in a heartbeat. One of the greatest vacations we have ever had.