This will get long, here are my observations. My wife and I did the 8/29/04 Elation cruise out of galveston and had a great time. I did alot of research on 7 nighters, and found it to be the cheapest cost of any 7 night cruise in Carnival or other competing lines. I think CCL is trying to get legs on this new port and are promoting it by price to be the best value in 7 night cruise category. Then I looked at itineraries and peeps were saying the days at sea were the best part, and there Elation wins again. Galveston as a port leaves ALOT to be desired, but if i save $400 on two people I don't care about the port issues. Also 3 out of 4 people on ship are Texans, great if your from texas, not so great if you're a yankee. Florida locals going on cruises from Florida are less annoying I think, then again I'm not trying to make life long friends here and I did save $400. Bottom line, we'll probably do the Elation again unless some promotion drives us to another ship.
Galveston flight arrival strategy is to fly into houston hobby and stay Sat night before departure at a business class hotel near airport, then following day get a ride to port of galveston. Weekend rates in galveston are very high as a beach destination, and if you fly in sat probably you won't have time to do anything there except eat dinner and go to bed. Biz class hotels are cheap on weekends! I had a Hyatt Regency airport for $62 plus taxes for sat night. Most people drive in from other parts of texas and the best deal i heard is to stay saturday night at a hotel that lets you park there for free during the week.
Elation does 3 ports of call and 3 days at sea, 7th day arrival back -nice balance. Some 7 night cruises go to like five ports, thats a lot of running around. IMHO, I didn't like the pressure of having to be back by 4:30PM in one port and 5PM in another port. Days at sea are not boring! Sunning, reading, eating drinking on ship is a blast. Food in the formal dining was excellent every evening. Buffets are convenient but not great. I recommend going to the seated meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Breakfast and lunch put on dress shorts and a hawaiin shirt, dinner wear dress slacks,(err not black denim jeans and cowboy boots) with a polo shirt and you're fine. On excursion days get the seated breakfast and go for hamburger or pizza bar upon return to ship. Their are two formal nights, bring a suit, dress socks and shoes. You can rent a tux, I think its overboard and somewhat obnoxius, but if you want to pose for the many photographers rigged with fancy lighting and backscreens on formal nights, its an opportunity to get a great portrait momento.
We did the Uxmal ruins tour in Progresso, had a great guide, did it through the ship. Did a 2 tank scuba dive in Cozumel, on my own really hectic getting back to ship saved $25 for the headache. We did cave tubing in Belize, through xtreme, great time Richard owns the company, does the tour and turns people away. Go through Xtreme! book in advance, $25 holds spot for two people on tour and is refundable. If weather had been bad and chose not to go it would have been worth the $25 risk.
I wanted us to do power snorkeling in Cozumel through ship, its a self propelled mini jet ski thing that drags you around so you dont have to kick. You can do surface dives under power to chase fish! sounded really cool but was sold out 2nd day... Point is 1st day immediately when tours desk opens get in line and sign up. Since we couldn't do that I walked the shore and was solicited by some guy to go scuba diving and did that by myself,(wife doesn't dive, she shopped and stayed on ship).
Progreso is a pit, Merida is beautiful and worth the excursion from what I heard. You don't want to just wander around this boring little chithole town. We did Mayan ruins, its good to schedule through ship as most are a long day and you don't want get nervous in a bus half hour before ship leaves.
Cozumel port is loaded with annoying hawkers selling dragging you into shops, mister mister got to be really annoying. They follow you down the street if you act in any way interested in what theyre selling! Wet excursions are fantastic here! dive, power snorkel if you can get in go to a beach, but get the hell away from the immediate vicinity of the port as fast as you can.
Belize port requires tender service, its annoying waiting for 50 person boats to cue up and load people. If you book an excursion outside of the ship, go to pursers desk the night before and they will give you an early tender reservation number. CCL excursions get off ship first, and even if someone doesn't have a early excursion time, they get off first. Our Xtreme cave tubung left at 9AM and we had only 5 minutes to spare. As it turned out, Richard would have waited for us for next tender had we missed the one we were on.
SHOWS AND ENTERTAINMENT
Amazing musical and dance show first night, very talented belong on broadway. 2nd show country and western I hated that... lot of pandering here with "who's from Texas!"
Comedians OK, Im not a gambler or drinker, lots of drinking going on... Man, security I think should cut people off after 10 umbrella drinks. Lots of wasted people running around.
Maybe all cruise ships do this gawdy, false elegance, very Bob Guccione love palace, shiney foil and tiffany glass crap. Perhaps it's for the casino crowd who find it exotic, or the hillbillies who think it is elegant. I got over the tacky appearances in day 2.
Great experience friendly wait staff, cabin steward and maintenance. No bad attitide anywhere! They aim to please. New automatic tipping is great! last time I cruised there was that awkward night before leaving when all the workers stood with hands out begging for tips. This is a much better system.
We're on that cruise 10/10/04. I found your analysis to be interesting and informative. We're not rookies as we cruise twice a year so like you we won't be star struck. I've seen this ship reviewed on the travel channel and liked what I saw and like you I was attracted by the price. I'm not from Texas either and because of the hassle of the airports being distant I think a lot of people just go out of Flordia. I deceided to drive the 2 day trip and spend 2 days in Galveston. thanks for taking the time to critique the cruise.
Outstanding review. We're going on this cruise in Jan and also are not from Tx. This will be our third cruise and we are pretty used to what we will see on these ships. GREAT PRICE though. Probably saved at least 400 if not more. Thanks
My sis and I took Elation cruise in April 2004 had a wonderful time. We are from Texas and even we found some of the woohoo whos from Texas stuff annoying. Please please don't think all of the Texans brought cowboy boots and stetson's on the cruise!
I agree with you on many points, especially that Progresso is a pit, if you don't plan on going to Meridia don't bother getting off the ship, that being said I think the town has the potential to develop into a more interest stop in the future. Cozumel is a tourist trap but to us that was part of the fun. Parents watch your teens here I took my 14yr old on another cruise that stopped in Cozumel and she was offered shots many times here. Belize is fabulous and the tender wait didn't bother me, it stands to reason you cannot take a ship that size over a reef and you can't unload 2000 people in 30 minutes, expect to wait and chill, you will get off the ship. FYI - if you go to San Pedro, Belize you cannot donate blood in the United States for a year.
Generally I think the people that go expecting to have a good time, have a good time, and the people that go expecting to find things to gripe about will find things to gripe about.
P.S. - I still miss Sonny the cabin steward!! and Stipe the Matre'd ( he has that Sean Connery, bald with a great accent carisma!).
Interested in comment about "if you visit San Pedro, Belize, you cannot give blood in US for a year"
Could you explain why please?? We are doing the 1/30 cruise and the 2/7, to make it a 14 day cruise and agree the price was great. This will be number 8 and 9 on Carnival. Have been cruising Carnival for over 25 years and have seen service and amenities decline over that time. Our last cruise on the Spirit was not pleasant. But for the most part Carnival one of my favorite lines.
We cruised Elation in June and found it to be a let down. This was our first cruise and I thought it was going to be much more elegant, sophisticated, and awesome service. Instead it was like a floating Best Western with bad food and "serve yourself" service all week. I've since been told I need to try another cruise line. Carnival, sophisticated...what was I thinking??????
You cannot give blood in the United States after visiting San Pedro Belize because it is considered to be a malaria zone (of course it is highly unlikely you will actually have any problem at all) but they are very restrictlve if you have been out of the United States, after the "mad cow" issue in Europe they resistricted blood donors that had visited many areas there also. FYI - if you go to Belize City , Belize there is no restriction, just San Pedro.
I'll be leaving out of Galveston next Saturday!
Can you give me any tips as the best time to show up to load the ship?
How long was the wait??
I know we need to be patient.. but I'm wondering if we should lallygag around Galveston that morning and show up at the ship after 2pm?
Thanks so much for any advice!!
Cruisin The Ecstasy out of Galveston~ first to sail after dry docking/ refurbish