I posted this over at reviews but wanted to post it here as I know before my cruise I would have liked to see this information over here when I was preparing for the cruise or scheduling the cruise. By no means do I want this to damper anyone's spirits on vacation, but perhaps some one can learn and find alternative answers to what issues arose for us on the boat.
Now, I was all over these boards before my cruise and found the reviews for the Carnival Ecstasy rather disappointing. I decided that people were over critical and picky and there's no way it could be that bad as people were over analytic. Unfortunately, the reviews are very accurate and looking back I wish I learned/ listened more so I could reschedule.
We embarked last Monday, the process overall was very smooth and effortless, starting our vacation off nicely. Everyone was chipper, and overall the mood was great. My boyfriend and I did experience the sewer smell that people often complain about, but luckily it was only on the first day, as the rest of the trip it was mild and intermittent.
The muster drill I found to be a joke, and in light of the past couple months, I hoped it would be more legitimate. You sit in a designated sitting area where they explain life jackets and general safety, then they march you up to your life boat station. They then squish you in lines with no rhyme no reason, and the minute everyone is squished together, they say 'thanks for coming' with no further instruction or direction. Overall I felt if anything were to happen it would be mass chaos. Also, something I found odd- there was no sign in or attendance. Now this was my first carnival cruise, but by no means my first cruise, so maybe this is the norm... either way I found this a little unsettling.
The room was very nice, something that is important as we spent more time then we should have here. We had a balcony on E deck, it was very clean and didn't seem dated (compared to the rest of the ship) at all. Our steward was exceptional though requiring things from guest services took some time. At one point my boyfriend and I had to wait an hour after calling just for a room service menu.
Here we go onto the food. I attended late night dining at the Windsong, and luckily found our table mates very good company to keep. Now, I truly truly thought people were being picky and simply unfair when reviewing the food. Now, I totally and completely see how much truth lye in the reviews. On several occasions I sent the food back at the dining room to try something else, only for that food to be inadequate as well. I am by no means a picky person, as I love all different kinds of food. The mahi mahi was incredibly dry, as was the chicken. There was a turkey concoction which was just various ingredients mushed together in an unappetizing way. The food was served cold and inconsistently, some had to wait 15-20 minutes after their party had received the food. I would order a drink and sometimes not even receive it. Some food tasted and appeared as though it was frozen opposed to fresh, and just warmed in a microwave. The cold fruit soups on the other hand were amazing.
We were discussing the truth behind the statement that the food was akin to Golden Corral food. To give credit where credit is due, the desserts where amazing- not once did I have to send any of those back :-D
The lido deck food was C quality at best. Massive lines for not so good food. The food was usually dried out and cold, and the options were limited. I will say that the pizza bar and sandwich area was pretty forgiving, and as long as it was fresh, was our preferred spot.
Here is where I had the biggest problem: The entertainment on the boat was essentially non-existent.I myself am a pretty outgoing, willing to try to do anything, go with the flow person. I prefer to be out and about and on the move as there is only so much entertainment I can get sunning myself before I find II'm bored. We set a budget, so granted there is always the casino, we only frequented it 2 nights.
The main shows, I literally walked out laughing. The dancers were off time and overall the whole thing was hokey. At one point a woman enters stage surrounded by male dancers and just says in a seductive voice ''Let me be your Ecstasy' as the men make of her on stage. Just too much.
We missed the Extreme country show, and as my boyfriend and I both hate country- it was not missed. I will say that the only positive thing about our cruise director is he is amazing with a fiddle- which we caught on the talent show playbacks from the tv in our state room. What was weird, and I think is reflective on how desperate for entertainment we were, Steve (the c.d.) had his own show dedicated towards a juggling act that by no means was good enough to warrant his own show. We did have a fun adult scavenger hunt one night which was great.
Overall on the day at sea we found ourselves struggling to find anything to do. As it seemed the kids on the boat were bored as well, we had a tough time dodging kids who were either hitting golf balls as if they were baseballs with their clubs up at mini-golf, or running and cutting you off in the atrium. Sidenote: something not surprising at all, but the teenagers as like every other cruise found there way to the alcohol one way or another as our last night were we woken up by a group of drunken teens at 2 a.m.
We joked that they force you into boredom so you spend more money. Bingo was great, trivia was horrid as it felt more like an afterthought than anything else.
The watch sale was great- fair warning though, they can't adjust the watches they sell you which ruffled my feathers quite a bit. The cruise ship comedians were just that, cruise ship comedians take from that what you will. The bands were slaughtering our favorite music so we avoided them pretty well. Karaoke seemed like a lot of fun, particularly for those partaking in alcohol- but that's the same anywhere else :-)
Disembarking was a breeze, very quick and even ahead of schedule.
I told people on the ship and when I got home last night that If i didn't have the AMAZING excursions we had, I would be furious that I spent the money I spent. (I'm reviewing the excursions seperately). The ship's issue is not that it's dated, but it seems as the lost forgotten child of carnival. In the stateroom, there was a loop video of all these amazing things to do on the boat which looked great. Come to find out, that wasnt even a video of the ship we were on- it was the freedom!
Overall this cruise was enough to turn us away from Carnival completely.