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REVIEW: Elation - 1 May 05


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Elation - 1 May 05


A little background–I am 34, and my wife is 30. This is my first cruise and her second. This is also my first post.


Up to Embarkment


First of all, I want to thank a lot of people here, because a friend of mine told me about this site, and I took a lot of advice from it (some, like what I should pack, I perhaps overdid).


We live in San Antonio, so we decided to drive to Galveston the morning of the 1st. My wife, who decided I could not be trusted to pack even though I travel by air at least ten times a year, stayed up until three in the morning packing (of course, she didn’t start until around eight in the evening). In her defense, she is one of those special people who seem able to pack not only the kitchen sink, but the entire plumbing system, into a small bag. It would have been many more bags if I had packed them...but they probably would have been packed a week ahead.


My friend, who might as well have been my travel agent, pointed me to EZ Cruise Parking, so I had already purchased parking several weeks before. The driver was very friendly and helpful (although I cannot recall his name...I have a major problem with names, so I won’t be able to tell you the names of all the wonderful people I should be remembering).


Once we got up to the ship’s terminal, our porter told us we would have to find out our cabin first (since we had a guaranteed cabin, but did not know what it was). It turned out we were on the Upper Deck, cabin 82, right across the suites, so when the suite people left their doors open which they often did, we could catch a glimpse of what it would be like to sit on the balcony.


Because we left early and I drive a little fast, we were through check-in by 11:30. So we had to sit a while. Finally they let us on, took our picture, and sent us to eat. The buffet at Tiffany’s had a pretty decent lasagna going on, which I enjoyed more than a few helpings of, and then we went to find our cabin. The cabin was decently sized (I’ve stayed in hotel rooms about as small). We met our cabin steward(ess?) who was either named Thalia or looked so completely like a Thalia to me that in my mind I’ve made her so. Since I am in a hotel room in Virginia right now and cannot talk to my wife until she gets off work, I might not be able to tell you for sure. She remembers everybody’s name.


Setting Sail


We went through the muster drill, which was a pain but necessary. After that we explored the ship before eating dinner. After I set up the cruise, I went to sites such as this one, some of which described Carnival ships as gaudy, but I don’t know that I necessarily agree. There is a bit more neon than one would normally like, but I don’t think it was so excessive to distract. The ship looked to be in good condition, save for a stain on the carpet when you first come into the Atrium on the Atlantic deck.


We took an early dinner, because we usually eat early at home. If I had to do again, I might take a later one, just to avoid the children. There were not many children on the ship (probably 100-150), but those who were there did get a bit noisy.


We ate in the Inspiration three nights of the seven. The food was decent, but was not great. I had lasagna one of the nights, and it was not as good as the lasagna I got at Tiffany’s the first night. Three other couples sat at our table. The couple across from us we got along with great, but with the other couples there really wasn’t much of a connection. The times we were there, the waiters, Igede and Butra (whose names I do remember), were excellent. They even brought me both lasagna and veal parmigiana when I asked for it (although not as good as I was hoping). Most other nights we just ate at Tiffany’s, the bar and grill, or the pizzeria. For the most part, food there was decent to pretty good (the mashed potatoes, while likely from a box, were pretty tasty).


Well, I meant to do this on a day by day basis, but I’ve already messed that up, so I guess I will just continue topically. Which brings us to drinks. I drink soda a lot, but I figured I could cut back this week and just bring a 12-pack with me. I finished the last one the last night of the cruise and ended up not buying one soda on the ship. Of course, I made up for that with alcohol. I don’t drink too often (I actually went about seven years without a drink, simply because I really never developed a taste for alcohol). So I was a little surprised at how much I did drink. Perhaps because some of the drinks were just so good. I had whisky sours during the free cocktails on formal night and also discovered a Kiss on the Lips, which I grew really fond of. I also had a Blue Margaretta, which is probably the worst drink I’ve ever had.


Another thing I don’t often do is gamble, and of course I lost about fifty bucks in the casino the first few days (I learned my lesson after spending twenty bucks in a nickel slot machine in less than five minutes, and just watched the wife when she did slots, as she broke even more often). After I gave up the slot machines, I turned to Bingo, which I had only played once before. I pretty much figure I am a black hole of bad luck, because I didn’t win anything (my wife, at least, won a bottle of champagne, which sat in our cabin until the last night, when we both took a sip...then dumped the rest into the sink). One bad thing that happened during Bingo, besides losing my money, is that Dave, the assistant CD, who is one of those guys who can tell long, rambling, pointless stories that you still find funny, decided that whenever people get a number they would yell out "Fun!" and if they didn’t get one, they would yell out "Ship!"–making sure the pronounce the last consonant. There was one gentleman at every Bingo game who would wait until everybody had called out something and then would yell out "Ship!" at the top of his lungs. It was sort of funny the first 200 times.


Because I’d never been on a cruise before, I wanted to get to see everything (something I’m sure people know you shouldn’t probably do on your vacation, but just because I have common sense doesn’t mean I use it). We saw a lot in the Mikado lounge. I actually enjoyed the passenger-involved skits more than anything else, although two of the comedians were pretty funny. My wife got to play a game show, somewhat like Jeopardy mixed with the Price is Right, which she might have won if Jesse hadn’t won sympathy and the audience hadn’t given the final answer to the winner.


In Progreso we did the Merida City tour and the Mexican rodeo. The Merida City tour consisted of pretty much looking at one church (which was beautiful, but was also being used, making me feel like a bit of an intruder there), the governor’s mansion (where the guide, Monica, made sure to tell us about one of the paintings which pictured a goddess offering her breasts as corn and using the word "breast" as many times as she possibly could), and a local shop. After that we went to the Mexican rodeo, which was fun to watch. Before the rodeo we had a buffet line to go through. The rice and beans were excellent, while the remaining food was bland. Although I wasn’t very impressed with the city part of the tour, Monica was an excellent guide.


The second stop was Cozumel, where we did the Sub-Ocean view, because my wife has no problem looking at the fish, but doesn’t want to chance being touched by one. Our guide was Christofer (that’s the way I think it should be spelled–I don’t know if he spells it that way), who had a habit of making jokes and then saying "I’m just kidding". I adopted the phrase along with his accent and used it enough my wife wanted to push me off the ship before the end of the cruise. After the excursion, we did some light shopping and then wet into Senor Frog’s, where I did approximately half the drinking I did on the trip. I don’t know if anybody has experienced it before, or if maybe it was just our shot girl, but if she comes around and asks if you want a shot (Sex on the Beach), make sure you protect your chest area. We also got balloon hats, which I insisted on wearing back to the ship (it looked like I had two huge Mickey Mouse ears, so I had to turn sideways to go through doors), so if anybody saw some goober with balloon ears, that was me.


In Belize, we saw the Mayan ruins and took a boat along the Belize river. We lucked out with another great tour guide, Melony. We did not luck out as well with our fellow tour members, who left their trash on the bus and made us late to the river excursion. Going though Belize was a little rough (the roads were extremely rough) because it seemed like such a poor place, and we were just gawking through.


Disembarkment took a long time. Next time, I know to pack much lighter so we can do the self-disembarkment. One thing most people probably already know: although the Carnival web page says you can use your military ID to get on the ship, I almost got sent back to Mexico when I got off because I didn’t have a birth certificate. I was told even though I was in the military, that didn’t necessarily mean I was a citizen (true). But I’m going to get passports soon, so I won’t have to worry about that again. As a signal to the end of our cruise, it poured down rain nearly the entire time between Houston and San Antonio.



Nearly everybody who worked on the ship was courteous and friendly. The cruise director, Jorge, who used to be a stand-up comedian was funnier than two of the three comics. As I’ve said, we loved our cabin steward (my wife, however, was upset when the steward deep-sixed one of the towel animals to create a new one. Luckily, the steward learned quickly that my wife became attached to them, actually going so far as to name them: Freddy the dog; Tullulah the pig; and Toby the turtle). Most of the time, they made it seem like they were there when you needed them, but left you alone when you didn’t.


I don’t know why, but being on the cruise let me rid myself of some inhibitions. I don’t dance. I can’t dance. Yet, there I was, up on stage, participating in the Saturday Night Fever dance class. And there I was, shaking my stuff in the Hairy Chest competition (which I didn’t win–I knew I wasn’t going to win as soon as Santa joined in).


Sitting on the back of the Verandah deck and just relaxing.



The last day of the trip, during Bingo, they had one of the dancers, Fiona, call the numbers. Fiona was unbelievably rude. I only say "unbelievably" because every other crew member was so great. She insulted the audience (and not in the harmless way Jorge had a habit of doing) and she rushed through the numbers as if she had somewhere to be. I’m not the most patient or considerate of men, so once she said she was done, I started to sing "Na na na, hey hey, goodbye", but then my wife wisely clamped her hand over my mouth. She must have made the same impression on some other people, because somebody else told her to "don’t go away mad, just go away."


While most of the food was decent to good, the dessert, especially the cheesecake, was awful. I love cheesecake, and tasting what they had almost ruined cheesecake for me.


Most of the other passengers we met were great, but far too often for my taste I saw some inconsiderate people. They would set a soda down on the stairs, or spill about six ounces of ketchup on a bench, or be a teenager and talk about boy/girl stuff they shouldn’t be talking about at their age (or at least I think so now that I have a teenager) while I’m trying to enjoy the sunset.


For the most part (about 95%) I loved the cruise. I’m already looking for my next cruise to go on, and I can’t wait to see how this cruise will hold up once I get more experience on the cruises.


Since this was my first cruise I don’t know if I can tell anybody anything they don’t already know, but if you have questions, please ask.

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We too were on this sailing with you and I have to 2nd the opinion re: the cheesecake! It was terrible! It is my favorite dessert as well and after taking one bite that was it. I've truly never tasted a bad cheesecake until last week!


Overall, we enjoyed ourselves. We were in a Cat 11 Suite and felt our cabin steward did the bare minimums only. That was disappointing. He simply made the bed and provided us fresh towels each day. That was about it.


Bit about ourselves to give you a benchmark....I'm 33 and husband is 44. This is my 9th cruise and his 11th. Have cruised most of the other lines and everything from old to new ships. Here's my two cents worth....


Food was average for cruising, but we are not big "food" people so perhaps we are not a good judge of this. The pizza is much improved, though, from my first CCL cruise in 1997.


Felt they offered fewer on board activities during both the day and night, but have noticed this as a trend on other ships in the past few years.


Entertainment was ok. The dancers did a good job with their shows, but most of the entertainment they brought on board was poor.


The ship overall we felt was in good condition. I had read reports on this site about the ship showing it's age and the gaudiness of the decor, but I would have to disagree. For the age of the ship I would say she was in good condition. Our preference, though, is the newer and bigger ships.


We love to dance, but did not feel there was much quality opportunity for this. For example, they had country western music night one evening in the Jekyl and Hyde lounge. Very poor selection of music and when I would ask the DJ to play very well known country songs he either had never heard of them or did not have them in his collection.


Loved all the ports! Only complaint is how the tenders were handled in Belize. This is always a problem, though, in all ports where tenders are required. If you have booked your own excursion outside the ship be prepared for a lengthy wait and no one knowing what is going on.


In Progresso we took the $1 double decker bus ride, strolled through the flea market enjoying $1 coronas, found CHEAP internet access to check back with my office and then headed to the beach. We rented jet skis and took a banana boat ride.


In Cozumel we took a cab to Chankanaab Park and participated in the Swim With The Sea Lions program. Recommend this. Spent some time at the park and then headed back towards town for shopping.


In Belize my husband went scuba diving while I went cave tubing. After cave tubing I wandered through the flea market to make a few purchases and then headed back to the ship.


All ports were a success!


Embarkation was a breeze, but debarkation was debarkation. What can I say. Because we had a Cat 11 suite we were part of the Skippers Club and priority embarkation. We were on the ship within 15 min of arriving. We were boarded first right after wheelchaired passengers. Feel they should offer priority debarkation as well, though, for Skipper Club members. Other ships do this and think CCL should follow suit.


Again, overall was a good vacation. Feel free to ask any questions.

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I'm curious about the beach in progresso. How much $$ was the jet skiis and banana boats? What was your impression of the beach? Was is clean?


How was the double decker tour in progresso? Worth $1 I'm sure!


Thanks for both reviews.



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We found the beach itself to be in good condition. The water itself was average, but we didn't hesitate getting in with our jet skis. There were plenty of kids and adults playing in the water as well.


The jet skis were $35/half hour and the banana boat ride was I believe $5/person.


The bus tour was well worth it. $1...what do you have to loose. Grab a $1 Corona and off you go. The bus picks up at the flea market. Take the cruise ship bus from the pier in to town and the flea market is just a block or two away.

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Good review, very informative! Do you happen to remember how much the Belize tour was (ruins and river boat)? Do you think it would be OK for a almost 3 year old and almost 7 year old. I don't feel comfortable leaving them on the ship with us in port. I'm a little overprotective but I can't replace them! Any other advice would be greatly appreciated. This is my fourth cruise and my husbands third.:)

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Good review, very informative! Do you happen to remember how much the Belize tour was (ruins and river boat)? Do you think it would be OK for a almost 3 year old and almost 7 year old. I don't feel comfortable leaving them on the ship with us in port. I'm a little overprotective but I can't replace them! Any other advice would be greatly appreciated. This is my fourth cruise and my husbands third.:)


I can't remember how much the tour was, although you should be able to find the price on the Carnival web page. The excursion should be fine for young children. It's not too strenous (there is some optional climbing up one of the ruins). The bus ride is quite bumpy, though. I'm not sure how they might react to that. And except for the bus ride, it's all completely in the open, so have sun protection.

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