Sail Date: December 10, 2011 Ship: Carnival Ecstasy Cabin Type: Oceanview Traveled As: Singles/Friends Reviewed: 6 years ago
We boarded the ship in Port Canaveral on December 10th. Our itinerary was the Bahamas - Freeport, Nassau and Key West. After arriving at the terminal using a local shuttle company, around 12:45 we had our bags checked-in right at the drop off area and we proceeded to the entrance. Then we stood in line for about 20 minutes going through security. We found lots of interesting passengers to chat with so the time sped by quickly. I saw a wide range of ages on line from family groups to young couples and some seniors too. Many were past guests of Carnival. After clearing security, we stood in another fairly long line to check-in. It was a little chaotic upstairs but manageable. A friend who works there told our party of 4 to get there earlier but the shuttle company we used, Travel Lynx doesn't pick up independent passengers like us before 12 noon. Unfortunately for us that meant lines to get onboard. Hint: Get there earlier or after 2:30 to avoid the lines.
The buffet lines aren't too long unless you want something from the deli or Mongolian buffet. One good thing about Carnival, they still have trays unlike other cruise lines. That was a big plus for us. Also we enjoyed having ice cream/ frozen yogurt (and Pizza) available at all hours. Food onboard, we all thought, was pretty good. We never had any trouble finding something that we liked. We never considered visiting a specialty restaurant because we received good food service in the Main Dining Room. Some other cruise lines no longer offer Lobster dinner but Carnival still does. We all had it one night in the Wind Star dining room. We also dined on Chateau Bri and with Bearnaise Sauce, Escargot, Lasagna, Prime Rib and Duck on other nights. Our wait staff was pretty good considering that we were on "Your Time Dining" meaning that we ate whenever we wanted and rarely had the same waiter twice. It worked well for us although sometimes there were lines getting inside for dinner. The concept worked better on Carnival Miracle which has just one dining room and no lines. We often ate breakfast and lunch in the dining room to avoid the buffet lines and chaos of searching for a clean table.
We liked all our service staff and all tried their hardest to satisfy us and correct any problems that we encountered. They were all minor like an over-cooked piece of meat quickly that was replaced. Our stateroom steward also tried his best to accommodate our requests. Every staff member from pool staff, bar staff, cruise director, front desk, shore excursion deck were equally pleasant accommodating.
We were in a outside cabin on the Rivera deck - bottom deck. It was very quiet except for side thrusters when pulling into/out of ports. The room was a little small but adequate for our needs with enough storage to contain all our possessions. Bathroom could have used a night light as the stateroom was pitch black at night. There were enough amenities in the bathroom for our entire trip - even a couple of extras that we didn't expect.
We enjoy the Atrium area which was quite popular most of the day. The bar was great with live entertainment. In fact all around the ship are great areas to sit enjoy a special dessert or cocktail. Stripes, Neon and Chinatown were all nice places to gather. Your were never under any pressure to order drinks anywhere including the theater. Pool area often had loud music playing which many of the passengers seemed to enjoy. We spent many hours on the Serenity Deck where no one under 21 was permitted. That didn't guarantee quiet but it was for the most part. Pool water was a little too cool for me as was the slide water so I spent my time in the Jacuzzis. Around the pool area, the staff spent most of their time mopping up water from the deck. You are issued a towel in your stateroom and you must return it at the end of the trip or they will bill you. It can be exchanged for a dry one at the pool. I bought a new one to take home.
The ship had plenty of things to do to satisfy anyone. You will not be bored. Many activities around the pool are aimed at young people like the hairy chest contest. There is a library just in case you are but most people in there used the room to play cards. If you like art, attend the art party with free champagne for all. There are also craft sessions, dance classes, Karaoke, Texas Hold'em, singles parties and of course BINGO to give you an idea. The multi million dollar extravaganzas in the Blue Sapphire theater are worth seeing. So are the comedy shows.
There are a few shops on board with sundry items for sale including logo apparel. Every day another sale item is offered. I purchased a couple of items. Remember that the shops aren't opened when the ship in in port.
Ports of Call
We have visited Freeport, Nassau and Key West many times so we just walked around in ports. There are plenty of excursions though if you have not. In Key West, a tram will bring you to the downtown area. The driver also gives a running account of what you are seeing. And, it is all complementary. Almost everyone seemed to enjoy the excursions that they took although they are a little pricy. I have been on cruises where passengers didn't make it back to the ship because a cab broke down or they got lost so we take the excursions usually if we want to explore. We have also been on ship excursions where the excursion returned late to the ship but the ship waited for us.
I could cover a whole lot more but suffice it to say that overall we were happy with the value of our trip. We think that Carnival gives good value for what you get. We just saw minor things that should not have happened. For example, my husband ordered Camomile tea and the waiter didn't know what it was. Nor did he bring a pot of hot water to the table - just a cup full. Our cabin steward didn't get ice to us until way after noon. Towels that were left to be reused weren't refolded. Tables on the Lido deck weren't cleaned off so passengers couldn't sit down. Sudoku or crosswords were not available for passengers. One had to ask each day for them at the front desk and then the same one was given out each day. Also there was no Newspaper flyer available. It almost feels like the crew is being trained to later serve on the bigger ships. The ships really needs to pay attention to small details. I am off on another Carnival cruise in 3 days on The Dream. This will be my 9th. After 10 cruises you become a VIP and get to skip lines at embarkation disembarkation and for tenders. You get your laundry done and folded once during your cruise and get special treatment in other areas as well. Signing up for the Carnival Cruise MasterCard can earn you a free cruise. We cruised the Miracle a few months ago for free.
Food and Dining
5 out of 5
Good choices - especially liked the lobster dinner on formal night
5 out of 5
Nice fitness certer
5 out of 5
Loved the great singers & dancers extravaganzas
5 out of 5
Lots of activities & places for the kids to go'
Service and Staff
5 out of 5
For major things it was just fine
Cabin / Stateroom
5 out of 5
It was kept clean at all times with a nightly fold-down, w/ chocolates & a towel animal
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