I am so relieved to find this site to affirm that I was not imagining my disappointment in Ecstasy. My Carnival cruise (taken in Nov. 1997 .. no I'm not over it yet) was my third cruise, but the first on Carnival's line. My first two were on Premier (during their affiliation with Disney), and not only was the cost very reasonable ($225/3-night and then $395/4-night), but the pampering knocked my socks off. I was hesitant to try another cruise line when I was so pleased with Premier. However, I felt that surely I would get a comparable cruise with Carnival since the rates were pretty much the same. BIG MISTAKE! Premier's free transportation from the airport to ships' port cost $20 each round trip with Carnival. Premier's free trip to the private island (with lunch included) cost extra on Carnival and you still had to buy your own food once on the island. Carnival's grandest midnight buffet paled according to the standard nightly buffet on Premier. Premier's grand buffet, the last night of each cruise was out of this world. On Carnival, many vegetables served at dinner were on the lunch buffet the next day and desserts from dinner were the highlight of the midnight buffet. I know that people on the Carnival ships are known for having a good time, but I do not consider a "good time" watching the three couples at the next table ( all to be in their fifties or older) throw food at each other during dinner each evening ( I guess they might as well have thrown it, they weren't eating any of it, just drinking). My biggest disappointment was that I felt like a hand was out for money at every turn. I spend money freely on the pictures, souveniers, excursions, and even casino, but I would like to go to the evening's show without a lotto ticket table set up at the door. I felt like my fare afforded me the bare minimum and was really just a gimmick to get me on board so they could get the rest of my money. I never once felt that I was getting much in return for my money. Another main complaint would have to be the lack of activities. There were plenty scheduled, but on more than one occasion, I stood with dozens of other people outside the locked door of a dark room waiting for a "napkin folding" activity that never happened. Bingo for a free cruise was scheduled in the showroom at 9:00 A.M. the final morning. I sat in the showroom from 8:00 until debarkation at 10:30 and never heard the word bingo mentioned. When asking crew members for help, no one else had any information and really didn't care that they couldn't help. I am a Bingo nut and on Premier, one could show up at the scheduled time, purchase 3 cards and spend 30 minutes or so playing three games of Bingo. On Ecstacy, one would show up at the scheduled time to play bingo, sit for 25 minutes watching bingo cards being sold and then be given 5 minutes in which to play ONE game with all 3 cards. At many times during the cruise I could have just cried. At one point I even went back to my room and pulled out the cruise line brochure to look at how they had their midnight buffet advertised. It was at the point I realized they didn't have pictures in the brochure showing a buffet such as I had experience on Premier. I can honestly say I would never go on another Carnival cruise, even if it were a free gift. I don't even register for free cruises on Carnival. Premier may have gone out, but at least they went belly up in style, giving people more than enough for their money. As someone said in an earlier post, thank goodness my Carnival cruise was not my first cruise or I would never cruise again.
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