July 2016 - Carnival Ecstasy to Caribbean - Bahamas
I was on the Carnival Ecstasy for a 5 night cruise to the Bahamas.
I drove to Charleston from Atlanta and the drive itself wasn't bad at all. The whole process of parking your car and boarding was somewhat confusing and definitely very long. Just be prepared with snacks, gas, and patience until you get on the boat.
Stateroom: I am very glad our travel agent recommended staying in the middle of the boat. I did get motion sickness but nothing that the dramamine didn't take care of. Just take it BEFORE you get sick. I took 1 every morning and afternoon. Overall, the room was what I expected. It wasn't fancy but honestly we only stayed in our room to sleep. The stewart left a large liter of bottled water every day which was nice. Awesome shower pressure for the tiny shower and bathroom. Really loud toilet similar to airplane toilets... interesting. Tiny TV that plays many carnival stations with information about the cruise which was handy.
Entertainment: Carnival is called the Fun Ship for a reason. There is literally an itinerary by the hour that they give you daily. There is something for everyone. If you have kids then stop by Camp Ocean to get their specific itinerary for the entire cruise. My son who is 6 definitely enjoyed hanging out there for a few hours while mom was able to get a massage and do some gambling! The staff was great who provided the entertainment was awesome. You can tell they love what they do! The casino is very small but they have the most popular table games and of course slot machines. I personally like playing bingo; however, it was electronic bingo and I realize after the 4th day that it's not true lottery style bingo. Have you ever been to a real bingo game where there was 6 - 10 people with 1 number to win for every game and there was ALWAYS 1 winner? Usually in real bingo there's multiple winners so basically you have to have the winning card in electronic bingo. It's a waste of money but none the less entertaining, I guess. Lots of great shows at night. I recommend planning your day so you know what you are doing for the day and you don't miss out. I've come to understand that cruising is about the effort you put into planning your day every day.
Food: Breakfast and lunch was buffet style. They had your standard breakfast food, an omelet station at the grill area and a continental style breakfast. Lunch also had a variety of everything with a pizza station, deli station, mongolian grill station, hamburger/hotdogs grill area and hot food buffet. The salads could have been better but when you take a look at the people on cruises, you realize that salad will never be a popular choice so why bother. For you dinner you had a choice of buffet again or eating in the dinner room you are assigned to. We ate at the Wind Song dining room. The food was good with many different nightly choices. They also had a kids menu. They do a nightly song in the dining room much like at a Joe's Crab shack. It was funny and entertaining.
Excursions: We did the snorkeling one with Seahorse Sailing & Snorkel in Nassau bought through Delta Vacations. I would recommend it. It was great! A full hour of snorkeling which was awesome. The sail was about 30 mins or so to the snorkel site and 30 mins back. In Freeport we did a beach day which was a Carnival excursion. The getting there took was unorganized and the delay waiting for buses was annoying but once we got there it was great. The beach was fun with lots of activities for kids. Good music, food, and drinks. I did the Family Beach Escape because I'm not a big drinker but it's the same beach as the all inclusive. I spent about $300 on excursions. I would budget that in because without the excursions I would have been disappointed with my overall experience.
Overall: I would rate my first experience as average. It wasn't outstanding but just good. I think my impression was that cruising was a good value but after calculating the trip I spent $600 more than expected. There are just expenses you don't think of... drinks, pictures they sell of you throughout the cruise, items you needed on board, upgrades for food, gratuities per person, gratuities for drinks, massages and more... Know that you are in a forever infomercial as well. These people are constantly on the intercom system, during shows, and every you go they are trying to sell something. Jewelry, watches, excursions, bingo, alcohol, spa packages, internet service, you name it and they are trying to sell it to you!
Also, if you love the pool then the Ecstasy might not be for you. The salt water pool was so small that you move to left and to the right and you are touching someone. It's really like a back yard house pool for 2000 people! The kids all stayed in the hot tub so unless it was in the evening you weren't relaxing in that thing. I'll stick to the 5 star all inclusive resorts that I go to all throughout the caribbean. It's a much better value if it's only 2 people and there are wonderful pools and beaches. Glad I at least did it once.