So, a group of about 13 of us went on the Carnival Ecstasy in last December. We left Port Canaveral, went to Nassua, then Half Moon Cay, then back to Port Canaveral. Most of us were cruise virgins, though a few had gone before. My fiance and I were new to this.
The first thing I should say, something that kind of tainted the whole voyage, is that the food was _horrible_. This is the danger of "all-inclusive," I suppose...the tell you food is included, but they don't say what they actually consider food. It was basically college dining hall food, only not as good: made en masse, with the poorest possible ingredients, without much care as to its quality. Worse yet, it's served in a pretty dining room (with an ocean view, obviously!), so how bad it is is especially shocking.
Case in point: we got served cold lasagna at one point. And I don't just mean cold, I mean "had little pieces of ice on it." I and a friend sent it back, and amazingly, the replacement piece was _also_ cold. The waiter tried to explain that, well, you see, it _was_ warm, but then they topped it with a mayo-based sauce, and that made it cold. No, I'm sorry. I have yet to meet the mayo that spontaneously freezes lasagna.
Anyway, that was the tenor of all our meals: barely edible microwave dinners. It honestly became a game of figuring out which food items would be the hardest to screw up and then praying you were right in your estimation. Even when we had the day ashore on Half Moon Cay, the "barbecue" food they served was clearly transported from the ship, and it was similarly awful.
As for the rest of the cruise? Meh. I was kind of appalled at the rather outrageous rates they charge for everything from airport transfer to any of the shore expeditions. They want something like $50/person for airport transfer; we booked our own transfer through Travelynx for about $12/person. We were very happy with Travelynx, incidentally, and highly recommend them. It's not so much that I object to having to pay for "extras" as it is rather a "budget" cruise line; it's that they seem to be vastly overcharging for such services.
Our room, U148, was unremarkable but fine. The bed was comfortable enough, the bathroom worked. The tv was grainy so we didn't use it. Our biggest complaint was that the window had a briney coating on it that made it hard to see out of. Could they really not have cleaned the windows before we left?
Nassau turns out to be a sad little place. There's a market full of overpriced touristy mementos right next to the cruise terminal, and then the town beyond it is kind of dead and dilapidated. Some friends knew enough to take a cab out to one of the pay-for-access hotel beaches, which is probably the way to go if you want to venture away from the ship.
Half Moon Cay is a private island owned by the cruise company. It's a little depressing how pre-packaged everything is; basically it's a little beach that they dump all the passengers onto at once (and then they try to get you to pay too much for extras like beach toys and waterski tours and such). I will give them that the water is very clear, and nice, and beautiful, and the island and beach are at least kept clean.
All that said, we _did_ have a good time. It's fun to be out in the middle of the ocean, and it is a little adventure. But we mostly had fun because of the friends that came with us, not because of the cruise itself. Part of the problem, admittedly, was that we probably aren't the right demographic: we don't drink much, and we're introverts, so the "floating Vegas" vibe was kind of wasted on us.
All in all, we don't regret going, but we wouldn't go again. If the food hadn't been so horrible, it would have probably seemed much nicer.