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Old June 6th, 2008, 03:20 PM
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Default First time cruiser - please help me with some questions!

My husband and I are going on our first cruise for our 20th anniversary in September! Yea! We are taking a 5 day cruise out of Galveston on the Ecstasy. I have some questions...
1) We have booked a room "guaranteed". Has anyone ever gotten a bad deal with this plan or does it usually work out OK?
2) Does anyone know of any reputable independent companies to buy Excursions from in Cozumel and Progresso? Would you use an independent co? What excursions do you recommend?
3) Is iced tea included in the complimentary drinks served on board? If so, then I will be a happy camper! Iced tea is my drink of choice and I'd rather drink it than pay for a drink card.
4) On boarding day, is lunch available onboard or should we eat before we get on?
5) What time do you recommend arriving at the ship?
6) Is EZcruise or Lighthouse parking worth the savings or do you recommend the port authority parking?

Thanks for any insight you can give me! I can't wait for our cruise!
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Old June 6th, 2008, 04:03 PM
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Brenda;
Welcome to CruiseMates, and congrats on your anniversary, and your first cruise. We just did the same ship and cruise in Jan. We had a great time, and enjoyed every bit of the trip. We too booked a Guar. cabin, and got what we booked. We booked a 1-A and that is what we got. Sometimes people get upgrades, but it is best to book what level you want, because that is what you will more than likely get.

I progresso we did the shopping tour in Merida through the ship. It was fine, nothing to exciting. There is not really much to do in Progresso. It all depends on what you enjoy. In Cozumel we rented a Jeep, and went out on our own. We have been there before, so felt very comfortable doing that. You can g through the ship for the type of activity you enjoy, or there are many companies right at the peir to book excursions. They are all for the most part reputible. The big thing is make sure you are back to the ship before departure time. When on an independent tour the ship will not wait for you.

Iced tea is indeed available at the drink stations. A good tip is to take your own insulated cup with a lid, as the plastic glasses aren't that great. I carried my 32oz. cup with me all of the time.

Lunch will be available on the Lido deck when you get onboard until about 5pm I think, not how late they serve.

I would recommend getting to the port by about 11:00- 11:30. My experience is they are very slow with debarkation of the previous cruise, and it just seems to take longer.

We used EZcruise, and booked on-line, and saved another $5. It was only $30 for the five days. They have great shuttle service both ways.

Hope this helps. Enjoy your cruise on the Ecstasy, and have a great 20th. Anniversary.

Gary
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Old June 6th, 2008, 10:05 PM
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I almost always cruise out of galveston, just because it means no air travel

On the Ecstasy in Jan, (oh and yes lunch is available the second you step foot on board, so are people handing you drinks and etc) I also recommend EZ Cruise. They rock, very nice and professional. Dont arrive after noon if you can help it, or the line gets really bad for embarkation. Tea is always free. As for guaranteed rooms, your TA should know soon what room your getting. If you dont like it request a room change. What catagory did you pick?

now when you get off the ship try to get off early and if there are already huge lines, see how long for a porter. they dont have to wait in that long line they get you up to customs asap . Tip well

In Progresso, (and we NEVER book on board excursions) we did do on board excursion to Chitzen Itza (sp) and to me it was worth the money because its such a long ride (about 4 hrs roundtrip) and you dont want to be late to the boat. The ruins were breath taking and I really LOVED them so much i want to spend a week at a nearby hotel with unlimited access someday and really "feel" the place much better.

In Cozumel, if you've never been, i recommend going to Chakaanab Park. Do not do this thru the boat! spend about 20.00 round trip on a cab (no matter if its 1 person or 6, still just 20) and entrance fee for unlimited snorkling and visiting the mayan villiage (replica) and other things is under 20 bucks. If you want to swim with the dolphins, do it here NOT BOOKING ON SHIP and you could save 40% plus be able to spend all the time you want at the park afterward snorkling or just sitting under a thatched roof umbrella as waiters bring you whatever you desire. Its a lovely area, but warning, no beach. its rocky, nice snorkling tho. but the "beach" is white sand, just doesnt go to the water. I love it here.

Spend time there and then take the cab back to the area around the ship. We asked a cab driver to take us to "his" fav. restaurant, which he did. It was about 10us per person and so freaking yum. I had Mole chicken which was the best i'd ever had and my son had Conch, it was to die for.

shop a few blocks OFF the main strip for better prices.
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Old June 7th, 2008, 09:49 AM
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Thanks to GaryI and nurseypoo5! Your comments are very helpful! It's good to get input from experienced cruisers.

We have booked a guaranteed inside room. We figured that we will not be spending a whole lot of time in our room, so did not want to pay more than necessary. We will use the savings towards our excursions, etc.

It is great having a port in Galveston. I chose it for the same reason - no air travel. One way to save some serious bucks, especially now with the airfare prices so high!

I have been wondering if things onboard the ship are crowded: is it hard to get a lounge chair on deck; is there a line at things like the water slide or food and drink places; is the pool crowded?

In the ports, are the beaches and towns near the ship? We were wondering what you do when your excursion is over (assuming it isn't an all-day one) and if you can just go to the beach or shop after returning from excursions and then walk to the boat.

My husband and I have more questions; I just can't think of them all now. I'll post more later.

Thanks again!
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Old June 7th, 2008, 11:52 AM
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Default Re: First time cruiser - please help me with some questions!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brenda Olson
1) We have booked a room "guaranteed". Has anyone ever gotten a bad deal with this plan or does it usually work out OK?

2) Does anyone know of any reputable independent companies to buy Excursions from in Cozumel and Progresso? Would you use an independent co? What excursions do you recommend?

3) Is iced tea included in the complimentary drinks served on board? If so, then I will be a happy camper! Iced tea is my drink of choice and I'd rather drink it than pay for a drink card.
4) On boarding day, is lunch available onboard or should we eat before we get on?
5) What time do you recommend arriving at the ship?
6) Is EZcruise or Lighthouse parking worth the savings or do you recommend the port authority parking?

Thanks for any insight you can give me! I can't wait for our cruise!
1) I always book guarantee and have never been disappointed. A word of caution DON'T book anything that you would refuse to take. If one books an inside be content with an inside, even though you might be upgraded to a window. In April I had paid for a cat 1A and found myself in cat 6B. Next time I might not be so lucky.
Booking guarantee is a great bargain in my book.

2) I always go with ship's tour but that's just my preference. Others claim to have wonderful experiences with private tours or taxi cabs.
Perhaps I'm wrong, but Progresso gave me the impression that ship tours might be the most prudent choice. There just wasn't much there last time I visited. If you are planning to visit the Mayan sites or Merida, it would be my recommendation to check into Carnival's excursions.

3) Iced tea is available at no extra charge. I drink a lot of that stuff. Coke products are an extra cost and they can keep them as far as I'm concerned.
The tea is unsweetened but I found these artificial sweeteners are at every table and mixes well into that cold tea.
Also juices, coffee, and hot chocolate are complementary as well.
No need to go thirsty ! 8)
4) more good news Lunch will be ready for you when you board. Just go to the Lido deck and join the crowd. Everybody is hungry on embarkation day.
5) When I did the drive up cruises I would be at check in around 11 am and boarded around noon or so. That way I beat the crowds.
6) sorry can't help you there.
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Old June 7th, 2008, 12:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brenda Olson

I have been wondering if things onboard the ship are crowded: is it hard to get a lounge chair on deck; is there a line at things like the water slide or food and drink places; is the pool crowded?

In the ports, are the beaches and towns near the ship? We were wondering what you do when your excursion is over (assuming it isn't an all-day one) and if you can just go to the beach or shop after returning from excursions and then walk to the boat.
Sometimes things can be a bit crowded. Chairs can be found just not where you might wish to sit. I've never found the water-slide or pools simply overwhelming, but at times I've decided to go to the pool at a better time due to too many people. The queue for the water-slide hasn't been an issue. In April on the Destiny a crew-member told me the slide had been underused that week.
The food queue at the Lido has been manageable based on my experiences.
Are towns near the pier? In Cozumel = yes Progresso = no
If you desire a beach you will need a tour or taxi. As I recall the most beautiful beaches on Cozumel are away from the town.
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Old June 7th, 2008, 02:56 PM
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My sister has medical issues, so we never book excrusions ahead of time on the ship. There are always excursions that you can buy when you get off the ship in the ports that are reasonable. Cozumel the trips to the ruins are not cheap to me, so we usually do something else. Yes, I know the excrusions to the ruins are far, thats why they cost so much, but we havent done them yet.

Yes, iced tea is free. You usually have to ask for it at dinner, or they will just give everyone ice water.
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Old June 7th, 2008, 07:51 PM
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i dont buy excursions on board either, like i said, except in progresso, unless i just want to go to corona beach or something close. Only because they guarantee you wont miss the ship!


On another note, i've only been on a couple of cruises but probably (most likel lol) wont buy excursions ever if i can help it or feel relatively safe on my own. HOWEVER, do research on companies. I probably wouldnt be comfy booking a sting ray excursion in grand cayman with anyone but Marvin, because he has an excellent reputation. Tripadvisor is a good place to get those, or ask others what tour group they snagged and make sure it wasnt a one horse show that day, and that they have a very good rep. Its alot of the fun for me, planning that is. I knew who, what and how much/long each excursion was going to be when i got of the ship and have not been disappointed (i've already got my alaskan stuff in my head from review of independent tour groups) You can save a bundle, but you always have a risk of somthing happening to miss the boat.
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Old June 7th, 2008, 10:17 PM
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Have fun on your first cruise! I'll warn you -- they are addictive! You have gotten some great advice...and I just wanted to add that we always book guarantee. I have never been disappointed. Our last cruise in April (over Spring Break no less) we booked a guarantee ocean view...and got a balcony cabin.
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Old June 8th, 2008, 12:28 AM
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Awwwww...you guys.............
I finally found a question I could answer, and Nurseypoo beat me to it.
All the advice above is good advice. I will chime in with my opinion about ship Vs. self tours............
I advise first timers, those who have not traveled much, to go with the ships excursions the first trip. It will cost a little more, but until you get the "feel" for a particular port, you will be more comfortable.
I've been on a few cruises, and I still book only ship excursions in Jamaica. Most other ports I feel comfortable with. The biggest thing is go with what is the most comfortable for YOU. It's YOUR vacation.
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Old June 8th, 2008, 09:41 PM
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Default Thanks all - and another question or two about Cozumel!

Thanks everyone for all the great tips! I love this message board; everyone is so nice!

OK, more questions...
In Cozumel, we would like to go parasailing, snorkling and enjoy the beach including swimming in the ocean. Does Cozumel have good swimming beaches? Big enough waves to body surf? Are there any that you can do both the body surfing and the snorkling? Is the parasailing done at a beach we would want to stay at or should we plan to take a cab or something somewhere else? If there is time, we may want to do a little shopping as well. Where is that in relation to the other places?
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