November 2010 - 5 Night Western Caribbean (Galveston roundtrip) Cruise on Carnival Ecstasy
My second cruise, my Husbands first cruise.
We went on the 5-night Carnival Ecstasy from Galveston to Cozumel and Progresso on November 8, 2010.
After driving to Galveston the night before we had an early start to get onto the cruise ship. We were so very excited. We got to the cruise terminal at about 9am with only a handful of peeps around. We were told the ship had just started unloading the previous cruise passengers. After being told where to park, we went to the area and found that we were the first car there. (No problem with where to park, ha). I had prepaid online to park at the port parking terminal for $40.
We parked and took photos of the cruise ship and area where we parked. I am an avid photo taker with no shot a waste type theory. After what seemed like a short time, we got onboard the bus that took us and our luggage to the cruise terminal. Arriving at the cruise terminal we got off the bus and the porters took our luggage. We tipped them $1 for our one suitcase. We had a carryon bag also.
We proceeded into the terminal and went thru a line to sign in and then to the line for customs. After passing through the x-ray machine. My bag was taken aside which scared the petunia's out of me. Having never really travelled much, I was shaken. Problem was I had put a 12 pack of water bottles in the bottom of my case. The port security had to check to see if I had any potential illegal substances. Since my bottles were sealed and in a plastic wrap from the manufacturer, they let me keep them. (read here that the port authorities have a no sense of humor, very strict, military attitude). I am a jokester and almost always find something to talk or joke about. My humor was not seen as cute here.
We were then shown a waiting area to sit in. This area is large. With seating for I imagine 200 people or more. So we sat. By now it was about 10am. We could see the ship outside the windows and we sat. My Husband and I are very outgoing talkative people who know no strangers. We soon had several conversations going with the people around us and we sat. It is now about 11am with the seats starting to fill up. I went to the restroom nearby and then we sat. After literally running out of things to say, we started looking at our cruise documents to have something to do and we sat. A crew member came to set up a background near the door to the cruise ship gangplank so they could take pictures as each set of passengers got onto the ship. At noon a gentleman from Carnival came and asked if the crowd if we were ready to cruise. He told us the peeps who had cruised multiple times with carnival and earned a silver or gold level would be getting on first and then the handicapped cruisers next and then finally us. So the silver, gold and handicapped peeps got onto the ship. Finally, at about 12:30pm it was our turn to get onto the ship. The gangplank is not like movies where a pirate puts you on a length of wood and tells you to walk! It is a long, long hallway that is closed in with glass windows on each side. It is a long walk from the terminal to the entrance door to the ship. Did I mention that it is long?
And we are on the ship with some of the crew welcoming us onboard and telling us to go onto the lido deck to get a bite to eat while we wait for our room to get ready. I must have been hungry or the food was exceptional because I had the best hamburger and potato salad ever! And we waited. We found out that the cruise ship had gotten into port later than normal because someone had been sick or something and that was why our ship was delayed and our room was not ready.
At 1:30pm we were told we could go to our room. The hallways were narrow compared to a regular hallway. I figured they were about 3 1/2 feet wide and near the length of the ship.
The room.... Wow! We were very impressed. We had room E-203 with a large window. It was just slightly smaller than a hotel room, it had all we needed. Two closets with a safe, bathroom of good size with a walk in shower, a desk and chair with 4 drawers, two twin beds put together as a king bed. The window was deep. I remember on our first cruise; my 9-year-old son could sit in it.
Word of wisdom: TAKE YOUR TIME! Don’t try to go over the entire ship before it leaves port. You will be worn out and will not enjoy the evening.
Our Matre'd was awesome. He was so attentive and friendly. He kept our room made up while we ate breakfast and when we went to supper he turned our room down. We had chocolates on our pillows and a Fun Times on the bed every night. Fun Times tells all about the next day. The times, places of each activity, coupons and any sales in the shops. It is a daily itinerary of what to do and where to go.
We left Galveston at 4pm on the dot. After having the usual life boat drill, we got a snack and found a spot to sit and watch the water go by and the sun go down. The water behind the ship is so pretty. It was so many shades of blue. The sunset was breath taking and changed constantly.
Supper was on the lido deck as my husband did not want to wear anything but shorts. Since they are not allowed in the main dining room, we ate the entire trip from the lido deck.
So much to choose from and all of it extremely good. We were never bored with the offerings. I have to admit the potato salad was the best. I had it more than several times while onboard.
We also had our nightly towel animal. I loved this! I am a big kid at heart. The first night we had a lobster, then an elephant, a snail, a stingray wearing sunglasses, and the last night he made a baby elephant for my big mommy elephant. So cute!
Days at sea are full of activities. Or you can simply do nothing but lay on a lounge chair. It is your decision. I took a highlighter and marked what I would like to do or see. We took in the art auction, towel animal class, bingo, comedy shows, dance shows, hairy chest contest, ice carving, galley tour, bridge tour, and so on. We also went through the shops on board and bought some souvenir’s.
We tried the casino. We have never been to one and did not know how they work. We asked the crew inside the casino and they acted like we had grew 5 noses. They said rather snippety that you have to put your sale n sign card in the machine to play. Okay that is fine and all but how much is it play? We were told snippety again that it is posted on the machine for us to choose. Okay some said $1, some said $5 and some said $10. How do you choose? Again we were met with glares and rudely told the instructions were on the machines. We could not tell how to do it and didn’t have much money blow. Plus, the smoke is so thick it was killing us. We left and got ice cream!
We enjoyed sitting on the outside areas and watching the water, sky and other passengers. People watching is fun. We were blown away to see some people my husband worked with on the cruise plus a close friend and her mother whom own a motel we frequent near home. What are the odds of being on the same cruise?
I suffer from motion sickness even when riding in a car. As I had major sea sickness and was the color light green on my first cruise....I had gotten the patches you put behind your ear for sea sickness for this cruise. Read the warnings and head them! It stated not to touch the patch and then touch your eye or mucous membranes. Well, I’m that person that doesn’t pay attention. I touched the patch and wiped the edge of my right eye. BIG MISTAKE! HUGE! My right eye dilated completely while my left eye was normal. So I was ever so slightly sea sick with two different sized pupils on a ship in the middle of the sea in 6 foot waves. I will get into that later.
After lunch I wanted one of those plastic Carnival souvenir wine glasses. We asked at one of the bars and was told that I could not get just the glass. They had to put a beverage in it. Since we don’t drink alcohol because it interferes with some of our medications, I asked for coca cola in it. The bar person said it to a mixed drink. When I told him I don’t drink alcohol he said he could fix me up with a great virgin drink and he did. It was called a Bahama Mama. Oh my it was good. Like a fruity slushy. My husband then decided to get a photo of me in front of a decorative wall that had neon lights on it.
Now back to the 6 foot waves and sea sickness. So here I am sitting on this ship in the middle of the ocean during 6 foot waves, with a touch of sea sickness, my pupils are two different sizes, I’m drinking what looks to be an alcohol drink and I am sitting in front of neon lights. lol. Needless to say I look three sheets to the wind in that photo. Oh the funny memories we get to have.
Our first stop was Progresso. In the fun times it told us they were having a briefing all about the stop in Progresso and shore excursions. We went to it and were told sternly by the crew that Progresso was dangerous and one of the worst areas to be in. The crew member told us that he did not understand why Carnival would want to make that a stop when the crime was horrible there. They informed us to not even look at the island people because so many were undercover and would try to sell you drugs and if you talked to them they would say you were trying to make a deal and the Mexican police would arrest you and make you pay $400 usd and up to get back to your ship. Well, being the newbies that we are, we did not get off the ship. We had a great day as the ship was near empty. We could see people getting on buses and going down the 6-mile road to Progresso. There was a huge building where they were getting on the buses. Later we realized that this was set up with shops to buy souvenir’s from. We are going there again this November 2016 and plan on going to those shops this time but no farther.
We were glad we didn’t go on one of the main shore excursions. We watched these people running and screaming at the ship to wait for them. Their shore excursion had gotten back late. We were in Progresso from 8am to 3pm. It was 3pm and the motors on the ship were running. We were halfway untied from the dock. A couple of crew member were hollering for them to hurry. The last couple was running full out, (something neither of us would have been able to do) while the crew was motioning for them to come on. They ran and jumped on the ship just as the crew untied the ship and off we went. It was way too close a call for me.
Next stop was Cozumel. We docked along the one-mile dock. Upon getting off the ship, I knew we had a long walk ahead of us. My husband has back problems and both of us hurt when we walk for a long distance. To our happy surprise there were men situated along the dock that had a bicycle pulling a covered cart. We each took one and rode to the dock close to land. We are not little people but we are not huge either. The men were talking about 'Gordo'. I did not know what that meant, but my husband said it means fat or heavy. My husband told the man in Spanish that you are no good for talking like that. Needless to say they were quiet after that. We tipped them each $5.
The hurricane had come through in 2008 and took out the shops that were along the first part of the dock close to the land. They were in the process of rebuilding them. I was pleasantly surprised to see many vendors with temporary huts selling their goods along with the permanent shops.
We went shopping along the beach shops. Another couple from our ship took our photo in front of the fountain in Cozumel by the dock. It has become my favorite photo of us. The shops are a nice size and have about anything you could want from jewelry, china, liquor, medicines, clothing, to everyday beach souvenir’s and postcards. The people in the shops were not pushy like I thought they would be. We even saw some people walking on stilts and entertaining us by pretending to have a puppet on strings which was really a person dressed that way. Such fun.
The only problem I had was when I went to the restroom in the shop area. Like I said, my husband and I have not travelled much. This was his first trip and my second trip out of the USA. I went into the restroom and a lady was there in a Mexican dress. I started to go into a stall and she said 'Uno memento'. She then proceeded to go into the stall lift the solid lid, wipe down the toilet seat and then folded the toilet paper into a point. Okay...have I died and turned into a Princess? Well I did my business and upon leaving the stall the lady squirted soft soap into my hands and turned the water on. I rinsed my hands and then she dried them off. I then saw a jar to put tips into. Uh oh. I had no cash on me whatsoever. Besides being caught off guard with how this whole going to the restroom in Cozumel worked, I also had no tip to give this lady. So now instead of being confused, I was embarrassed. I told her I had no cash but that I truly appreciated her time. These people are poor as dirt. This is an ingenious way to make money. I can only say the next cruise we go on in November will not catch me off guard.
We had booked an excursion to go on the Sub Ocean View Tour. Neither of us swim well, the beach didn’t appeal to us and so on. This was really a great excursion for us. We enjoyed it immensely. Getting on the boat was rather easy. The only hard part was the steps down into the boat. It was 4 steps, I think, like a against the wall ladder but there were handrails on each side. The seats were one long bench the length of the boat with windows on either side. People sat back to back. The driver, captain, navigator, (is that what he is called) the man driving the boat would turn the boat around to show each side of people something that he narrated and told us about. We were at the end of the bench which was awesome as I simply straddled the bench and took pictures from either side as I wanted. It was about an hour to an hour and a half long trip. The water at Cozumel is such a lovely turquoise color when looking from above the water line. We were disappointed that this color does not show under the water. We saw many marine fish, rocks, a shark in the distance, anemone's, stingrays, a barracuda, snorkelers and a couple of scuba divers. Everything was in the same monotone color of blue gray. When the Captain asked if we had questions, I asked why was everything so bland in color. The entire inside of this boat was decorated with bright colored fish, corals and such. The Captain explained that light that penetrated the water was of mostly blue reflection from the sun. So everything looked that color. We were disappointed in not seeing pretty bright yellow, orange fish and corals. All in all the trip was worth it. I would not do it again. But it was fun.
The rest of the cruise was food, fun and relaxation. When arrived in Galveston on time at 8am Saturday morning. We ate on the lido deck having put our suitcases outside our door the night before so they could go through customs. Oh and we had to fill out a customs form to declare what we had bought and were bringing back into the states. I kept a tote bag with me that had my souvenir’s, medicines and such in it. We went to where they told us to wait for disembarkation which was a night dance club. Waiting wasn’t that bad, except that we were not wanting our 5-day cruise to end. We waiting about 2 hours to get called by the color of our luggage tags which was green. We went into a room that I assume was in the basement of the cruise terminal. Luggage was sitting around everywhere. We found our two cases quite quickly and were on our way through customs and to the bus to our car. We hung around Galveston for a while and then drove back to Dallas.
One thing I have to tell you about Galveston to definitely eat at Tortuga's on the seawall at 61st. They by far have the best queso. Then there is Fish Tales across from the Pleasure Pier on the seawall. They have awesome seafood. Last words of wisdom. A cruise or any vacation is what you make of it. Go, have a good time and don't sweat the small stuff!