January 30, 2005
My wife and I took a cruise on the Elation leaving from Galveston on Jan 30, 2005. We flew into Bush Airport and since we booked the cruise with Carnival at such a late date, we could not arrange a shuttle though the cruise lines. This would be the optimal thing to do. I think they use Grey Line Tours. I found two alternatives: Extreme Elegance Limousine Service - which will meet you at the airport at your arrival time (sign in hand) or Galveston Limo Services. You are subjected to their time schedule - sometimes as much as 1 1/2 hours after you arrive. Unfortunately we chose the latter and were crammed into a 12 person passenger van, making several stops along the way to the cruise terminal. (In all fairness, the return after the cruise was in a very comfortable bus - but I saw several of the little vans there also - so I think we just got lucky on the return). First time for us departing from anywhere other than Florida. Galveston is a very industrial city and the port reflects the same - not pretty at all !. Check in was fine, as we did not arrive to the dock until 2:30p.m. - by far the latest I have ever gotten on a cruise ship. I have sailed on the Fantasy and Sensation so the interior set up was familiar to me right away. The bottom 4 decks are rooms and the higher decks are where the activities are. We had an outside stateroom on (the 2nd floor) Main deck.
I had heard somewhere that the ship had been renovated fairly
recently - somewhere within the last 2 years. The only negative thing I can say about the interior of
the ship is that there are some stains on the hallway carpeting on Main deck. Our room was near
an elevator / stair entrance and this turned out to be not a concern of any kind. If you have been on
Carnival before - you are familiar with the loud designs & bright colors that inhabit the ship's interior.
There are two different dining rooms, each having a staggered early and late sitting. We asked for
the latest (8:15) and got the 8:00. This actually was better because they assigned us the late
sitting closest to our cabin. This is the 1st time we have cruised without at least one other couple.
There is a big controversy about "personal choice dining" as on the Princess line, but as always, I
found our tablemates to be very gracious and interesting people. On the subject of people, I have
never encountered anything but exceptional employees on these curise lines. Always eager to
please and very hard working personnel. I hope you get Otto as your head waiter, as we did.
Ports of call : Progresso - not much there - a shuttle takes you to town for free (or you
can catch a cab from the same place - they will give you a tour). A large "straw" market in town
where you can buy souvenir type items at a cheap price. My wife and I went to a local bar and ate
home made guacamole and drank Mexican beer. Locals came in performing in one way or another
and passed the hat for tips - a fun afternoon. You can tell that a lot of construction is going on and
some day this will be a major port by many cruise lines. Cozumel - We took a cab to D'Zhul Ha (?)
where we went snorkeling. We saw many off shore excursion boats come to the same location
that we were at. Downtown is right off the pier - lots of improvements - nice and safe - lots of
shopping & restaurants. Save your ship excursions for another port - plenty to do here on your own.
Or just go to Chankannb Park ($12) - lots of activities - (there is another port near here - not pretty).
Belize - We took a ship excursion to Goff's Caye for snorkeling. A boat picks you up right from the
ship and takes you to your own "little Gliigan's Island" where you can snorkel from the island or
from the ship. Off the ship you are right on the barrier reef in beautiful waters - best snorkeling that
we have ever done. Off the beach are crystal clear waters. Not as fun a ride as on a catamaran, but
the snorkeling was great. Others took the cave tubing excursion. Ride in bumpy bus - walk for a
half an hour but the tubing was great from what I hear. At Belize you have to tender into port,
the ship does not dock. - which is why I chose the excursion to take us directly from the ship.
A few complaints or disappointments : Seems like everything was done in the Mikado
Lounge. No small trivia games or contests. It was for the whole ship at one time. A few of the
smaller bars didn't seem to get enough use, like Duke's the piano bar, hardly ever open. The Cole
Porter Club, the rear lounge, wasn't used much either, except art actions in the day and karaoke at
night. The singers at the evening shows were just average, the dancers, probably above average. In
all, I just didn't seem to enjoy the cruise director as much as on other ships. Oh, & lots of Texans !!