Carnival Ecstasy, November 23-28
My wife and I (30-somethings)
Our kids (6 and 9)
My Mom and step dad (60 somethings)
Check in process was nice and easy, we got there pretty early. I just wish someone aside from the last checkpoint would have told me to keep my S&S card out, I kept putting it back in my pocket only to have to dig it out again.
Our check-in rep told us that using driver licenses and birth certificates would work "just this one time" and that we needed a passport (which we will likely get soon) to get on the boat, but she would make an exception this time. I thought this a little odd, I didn't realize a counter rep was able to enforce her own interpretation of WHTI. My mom and step dad were not told this at a different counter I think she was just trying to urge everyone to get a passport to cover all contingencies.
It was a little hectic once we got on deck for lunch since we couldn't get to our rooms yet, but we managed to get lunch from the buffet lines by the pool, though we didn't know the Panorama Grill was a few steps away with more options.
We spent the early afternoon pretty much just exploring the ship and trying to figure things out. We were due to leave at 4:00, but didn't leave until after 8:00 because there was an issue involving having to get a ship's doctor called in at the last minute. No big deal though, there was plenty to do.
State room: We were in E47, ocean view, starboard side, towards the front. Would have been roomy aside from the upper fold down bed for my son and the trundle bed for my daughter, but we were prepared for that. We unpacked and had room for everything, so again no biggie, we weren't planning
on spending much time there anyways.
The first at sea day it rained pretty much from mid-morning on into the night. The hallways were crowded because no one was outside and it was a little noisy. We spent some time in the cabin, and others hanging out by a window seat somewhere just reading and relaxing, My daughter (6) went to Camp Carnival for the afternoon.
At Progreso we went to the Dzibilchaltoon ruins and the Mexican Buffet & Horse Show at Rancho Tierra Bonita (booked through Carnival). The ruins were interesting, the food was good, the show was kind of boring, but the Margaritas were free.
At Cozumel, we slept late and went to Paradise Beach for most of the day, then wandered through some of the port shops when we got back.
Second Sea day we tried to spend most of our time outside, but it was really breezy (as expected) and pretty chilly because the clouds kept the sun hidden, my daughter spent more time at Camp Carnival (her choice, my son wasn't really interested in it).
Food: I don't know what I was expecting but I was a little underwhelmed. Partly because I'm not a big breakfast person so I got bored with the available options very quickly. At lunch I might want a meat from one line, and then a vegetable from another, but the length of the lines only allowed me the patience to go through once. This worked out well since it kept me from eating more than I should. At dinner (dining room every night), I liked the food but the temperature was never quite right but this is to be expected when they are trying to feed 1,000 people at once. THe hots aren't quite enough, the colds not quite cold enough. This is pretty much me being nit picky, but I managed a restaurant for 10 years so I can't really help it.
Activities: There was always something to do. My daughter was content to go to Camp Carnival, my son wanted to spend all his time in the pool/hottub, and my wife and I wanted to sit around and read. The only problem is, she is fine with hanging out in the cabin (plus she was a little queasy for most of the trip), whereas I would rather sit on deck or at the library or something. I do the same thing when I travel for work, I just hate spending idle time in the hotel room. But that's not a problem with the ship, just us
We went to a show 4 out of 5 nights, we skipped the talent show. We enjoyed the rest. Didn't ever make it to karaoke, the casino isn't our thing so we skipped that, I went to the Art Auction but honestly didn't see anything I really liked, but it was interesting to see.
Debarkation: I wish we would have taken our time, it was a little hectic trying to get downstairs, we should have waited for the crowd to clear out first.
All in all, a good trip and a good learning experience. I now know what to expect, so the anxiety of figuring things out won't be there next time. I'm looking forward to doing this again, just need to decided when.