Monday, December 12, 2005

REVIEW-Carnival Conquest December 4-11, 2005

Carnival Conquest December 4-11, 2005

This was our 3rd & 4th CCL cruise this year and 2nd time on Conquest.

SUNDAY--Embarkation went very smoothly. Arrived at EZCruise lot at 11:45 and taken to pier about noon. The line’s were short at security and check-in. They had many more stations open than they did when we sailed in September. The process was much much better and they have improved the embarkation experience. We were onboard about 12:30.
Made mandatory visit to Lido deck for lunch. First of the deli Rueben sandwiches for the week. Also visited Sur Mer as we hadn’t on previous cruise. Went to the cabin after 1:00 and met Rasheed our stewart for the week. I think we may have had the infamous cabin recently mentioned in the video message to Uncle Bob. The damaged & stained lamp shade was the same and we were near the laundry. The cabin was very clean. Perhaps cleanest I have had on CCL. We do bring disinfectant wipes for the phone, door knobs, table tops, etc. and use them first day, so we do note the appearance of the cabin and this cabin was very clean. Explored the ship with our friends who sailed with us and had our “sail away” drinks from Boris who remembered me from previous cruise (Really did, not fake “oh you”)--but again I did tip him well 1st time--more on Boris later. Met several on our CC roll call at 4:00 at the Sky bar. Muster drill was about 5:15 and went well as it was a direct to stations type drill.

Dinner was late seating in Monet. Bad draw on table assignment, an outside upstairs. Didn’t try to change as it was full. The excellent waiters made up for it. Zoltan from Hungary and Vlad from Serbia. Every time Zoltan did something good he received the “Zoltan sign” (from the movie “Dude where’s my Car?”). We made double hand “V” sign for Vlad so he could join in the fun. Welcome Aboard Show and comedian Phat Kat.

MONDAY--At Sea--Good sailing day and good weather. Usual sea day activities. Formal night (Lobster) and Captains reception. Formidable was the feature show and very good. Two new feature singers and some new dancers since September. Much improved.

TUESDAY--At Sea--Again good weather and the usual sea day activities. The return guest reception was held today, two groups which were held in the afternoon. Better on a sea day than an evening later on in the week. I think it worked well doing it this way. Now the big news that was announced was that the Freedom will be coming to Galveston. That’s probably already made the CC boards, but was new news for us on the Conquest. Conquest will return to NOLA. Ron Joseph was the entertainer this evening. Good singer and funny with audience participation.

WEDNESDAY--Montego Bay Jamaica--beautiful day and beautiful island. We took a taxi to Doctor Caves Beach. Very nice. We were able to arrange our own (group of four) boat to snorkel the reef. Very nice and private compared to the tours. A few Red Stripes in the bar and some local music. Walked to Margaritaville for lunch and it was already very busy. Slide was closed, but people were swimming below the club. The food & drinks were very good. A bit of shopping and then a taxi back to the ship. We didn’t have anyone approach us selling anything illegal, but we weren’t in the city center either. A good day in MoBay. Production show was “Deja” a magic show. The Conquest dancers were very good, magic was ok.

THURSDAY--Grand Cayman--a nice day, but water was a bit choppy. We booked the “Rays, Reef, & Rum” tour with Nativeway. This was our second trip with this same tour. The Stingrays were great. The Reef was better than Jamaica with a lot of colorful fish. Rum Point was great with lunch waiting for us as we got off the boat. A few Stingray beers in the bar after lunch and we had to return for the last tender back to the ship. This was the second formal night and the production show was “Point and Click” The late night comedian was Marc Rubbean and he was great, IMHO. Tonight was the “Rocky Horror Picture Show” and it was great. Very funny and I felt very sorry those poor newbies on the front row. Rocky fans will know what I mean.

FRIDAY--Cozumel--This is now a tender port and it was pretty slow going for those going ashore. You report to Lounge for tender numbers and they call you aboard. They are using the old Coz-PDC ferries which are very large and take a long time to load and unload. Lots of damage in Cozumel, but there is a lot to do. They are not ready for more than three cruise ships at a time though. The places that were open were crowded. We rented a jeep, went to Coconuts on the wild side, Cinco Soles to shop, and Ponchos Backyard for lunch. Found time for a mojito at the Havana Club while DW shopped. Talent show was tonight, we skipped and from the TV replay made the right decision.

SATURDAY--At Sea--Had a proper dinning room breakfast today and last chance for Rueben at lunch. There was a cajun band from Lafayette LA who played in the afternoon. They had a large number of fans aboard and they were a great group of people. A special treat was the Christmas show in late afternoon. We had sailed on the Elation on Christmas last year and there was not a Christmas show so this was special indeed. The Conquest singers & dancers, Carnival Kids, and staff did a nice Christmas Show. Final production show was a juggler and Marc Rubbean. Marc is very funny, don’t miss him. Last dinner was great and of course Grand Manier SoufflĂ© for desert.

Debarkation--we did self and was off the ship about 7:10 a.m. Off the island by 7:45 a.m. Very smooth.

GENERAL NOTES: Very enjoyable cruise, Food was very good to excellent 99% of the time. Ship is looking very good and is well maintained. Our waiters and cabin attendant did a great job and can add a lot to the enjoyment of a cruise. Ours did so on this trip. Boris, the cocktail waiter, is always on the ball and seems to be a favorite of many. He always called me by name from the first day and knew my folio number so that I didn’t need my card. He is also mentioned by several of the entertainers from the stage which is adding to his following. He must work all the time as he seems to be everywhere. After talking to other guests he seems to give the same personal service to all. Everybody Loves Boris should be the theme. Our cabin attendant, Rasheed, always called us by name when passing in the hall and as already mentioned the cabin was very clean at all times. New menu deserts are fair, DW loved one, but most didn’t care for the ‘new' ones.

We have mixed feelings about the new bedding (3rd time)--that will be a new thread

Thursday, November 24, 2005

REVIEW-Progreso, Mexico - November 16, 2005

I wanted you to see a photo of the shrimp cocktail mentioned in my review. The hat was actually purchased at this same restarant a year earlier. A good place to visit when in Progreso is Saint Bonnet Ave. Malecon by Calle 78.

REVIEW-Carnival Elation-November 14-19, 2005

Elation November 14-19, 2005 One disappointment--Great Cruise

This was a spontaneous cruise. Booked on Friday for Monday departure. Wanted to go to Veracruz which was one of the scheduled two ports of call on 5-day cruise. Second time on Elation, 1st time last Xmas with DW & DD This cruise booked as a single. Very pleased with price which included single supplement and upgraded cabin. I was assigned cabin E-8. Two port holes and large.

Arrived at EZCruise Parking in Galveston about 11:30 a.m. and was taken to terminal. Embarkation was very smooth. They began boarding while I was in the line for check in so my timing was pretty good. I was on board by 12:30. Dropped carryon at cabin and went to Lido deck for lunch. Several Fun ship specials while rediscovering ship. Yes, I found the secret door. I didn’t know what to expect with dinner assignment having- very late seating, being solo, and late booking. I had a great table with 7 people all cruising solo. Two others had also booked on Friday. We had a good group. Imagination dinning room late seating. Waiter was Michael Hill. Very good service.

Fun day at sea. It was. Only disappointment was the announcement that we would not be going to Veracruz because of weather (a cold front). Very disappointed because that was the ONLY reason for the cruise for me personally. But how upset can you be when your on a cruise? Formal night: attended Captains welcome party. Used the CC tip of seating near waiters door and tipping well on 1st time the waiter comes by. He did not disappoint, he came by several times. We had 8:30 seating and most people left because of the 8:00 seating-we were just letting the room thin out and here come our waiter with a double round of drinks!!!--(post party) Thanks Captain Antonio Marchetti. Lobster night--’nuf said. Production show was Rhythm, a very good show.

Progreso, Mexico. This was my 3rd visit to Progreso so I had been to the area Mayan ruins, seen the flamingos, and was in Merida just a few weeks ago. Living on a ranch in a rural area I thought I would just treat it as a “day in town”. I went to the bank, the pharmacy, the barber shop (great haircut), the internet business ($1 for 1 hour), a few shops, and finally lunch. Having checked the email-there was one from J.Todd in Veracruz and he did mention bad weather coming, so I guess that confirmed what I had heard on the ship the day before. At the restaurant they remembered me as it was my 3rd visit. When I mentioned my disappointment about Veracruz, they brought me a shrimp cocktail ala Veracruz. It was very nice-for those who haven’t seen one it’s a very large shrimp cocktail-almost a meal in itself. Back to the ship for dinner. Tiramisu for desert tonight, don’t miss it, It’s great.

Calica, Mexico. You could see the hurricane damage from the ship. Xcaret was within view and there was lots of noticeable damage. Taxi into town. More damage, but more than half the shops open. Senior Frogs along the beach--mostly gone. Most places on the beach were very heavily damaged. The further away from beach the more shops, bars, etc. were open. I wanted to take ferry just to see if San Migel was just as bad, but was convinced it was actually worse. I know they have worked very hard and it was fairly clean of debris, but there was construction and repairs everywhere. The only highlight I saw as I walked the beach was the beautiful topless sunbather. Highlight of the day actually. Watch out for the ‘pity sale’ . “Senior, senior, I have not sold anything since the hurricane. See the photo of my three daughters, please please you must buy something”. (yes I did buy something). Returned to ship early after purchasing some gifts. Pulled out of Calica into rough seas. Got rougher as we went. Either that cold front or TS Gamma. Not many at dinner tonight. Desert was Baked Alaska. Smaller production show, dancing cut short due to roll of ship. Did the piano bar. First time for that, but too smoky for me.

Fun day at Sea. Somewhat overcast and cooler today. Rough seas during morning and early afternoon. Most used this day to rest or read, as did I. One new thing for me was the Sushi Bar. One of my new friends encouraged me to try. I liked it. Especially with the wasabi. I can’t tell my friends back home about this though--it’s bait to them. Dinner was good. Best desert of the cruise was tonight--Grand Manier soufflĂ©. (I think that’s what it’s called) Big production show called SPIN. Very good. The Elation dancers and the two feature singers are excellent. Better than the shows on the Conquest IMHO.

Debarkation went smooth. I did early self and was on the sidewalk by 7:33 a.m. and off the island by 8:00 a.m.

Very clean ship!! Just as I remembered from last year, the unique feature of the Elation is the great showers. Larger than normal and the best water pressure of any ship I have sailed. There seemed to be more nonsmoking areas than in the past. Especially noticeable along Elation Way--much better. Larger casino than most. I love the lobby bar. It was on my deck and stocked my favorite imported beer. I will hate to lose the Elation, I wish It would stay and do the 4-5 day cruises and the Conquest the 7-day cruises from Galveston, but the Conquest and Ecstasy are fine.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Preview-My Cruise Blog

Cruising is a favorite pastime/hobby/holiday for me. It seems to be a perfect fit for myself and family. Since we live in a rural setting a cruise ship holiday provides: good food, entertainment, culture, travel, etc.. Some things that we may not be able to get at home. We are experienced cruisers, but now only cruise from Galveston or Houston as we no longer care to fly to a cruise port. Galveston is a nice drive from Bosque county and is easy to do--so we have begun to cruise again! Thanks to NCL who began the Texas trend with their Texaribean cruises.

This Blog is a collection of reviews I have written for various cruises in the Caribbean. Most of these were posted to Cruise Critics forums, but I wanted a place to collect them together.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Rhapsody of the Seas

Rhapsody of the Seas

Rhapsody of the Seas
Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean Int'l
Ship: Rhapsody of the Seas
Itinerary: 7-Night (Galveston Round-Trip) Western Caribbean Cruise
Stateroom: H-Oceanview, Cabin 3594
Departs from: Galveston, Texas
Departure Date: Sep 11, 2005