Hello and thank you for reading this review of the Carnival Ecstasy.
This cruise was a gift from my wife for my 50th birthday. What a gift!
We took our two children, daughter 13 and son 10. We drove down from Hamilton,
Ontario ( 21 hrs!!!) to Port Canaveral with a brief stop at Disney first.
Embarking onto the ship was simple. After paying a staggering $75 to park for
five days, we simply walked on board with little waiting and short lines. Our
cabin was ready at 1:30pm and we held our collective breath when walking down the hallway to our new home. Okay, it is 186 sq.ft. Okay, there are four of us in the room. Okay, it is small. BUT, it is very functional and well laid out.
We had a porthole and 2 upper berths for the children to sleep in, as well as
a full king size bed. The beds were amazingly comfortable. The main issue is that we had to constantly watch our heads when moving on the bed, or getting up
in the middle of the night. The cabin steward did a wonderful job of keeping the room tidy. I think we did a wonderful job of keeping the room clean for her!
** The Ship **
The Ecstasy is a 15 year old cruise ship. Let us not forget that it was once
one of the largest cruise ships in the world. The ship is constantly being lovingly cleaned, primped and maintained by a courteous crew. It has a few age spots, but then again, so do I. The main Atrium is extremely impressive and well lit. The ship is very easy to navigate, and if you do get lost, someone
is always available to help guide you.
Some of the areas have been renovated, such as the public bathrooms and the Promenade dining area.
** The Entertainment **
Here is the main issue with this ship. The cruise director, Steve Cassel,
does an admirable job with the budget he has. The lack of good entertainment
seems to be a budget issue. The disco needs to be a lot bigger, as does the
karaoke area. I am not certain whether Steve needs to have a show devoted to
his juggling. Maybe add something else, Steve? His assistant, Gary, is terrific and should or could easily be a cruise director himself.
A LIVE poker game would be great in the casino, not a machine.
We participated in the Romance trivia game and *won* a bottle of good champagne
and won a trophy as well! We enjoyed their newlywed game and a couple of the shows as well. Loved the family comedy with Lewis, as well as his R rated show.
Our children were enamored with one bartender, Johnson, from India. He was
polite, patient and entertaining with his stories.
The kids participated in Circle C, a group for 12-14yr olds. We snuck in our
10yr old son because the group beneath was very immature for him. Our daughter
won best dressed and took home a nice trophy as well.
The thing with entertainment here, is participation. You get what you put into
being entertained. If you are a lump in a chair, well, you will write a negative entertainment review.
** The Ports **
Nassau is a challenge, to say the least. As soon as you disembark the ship,
you are bombarded with a myriad of people all clambering to get your last dollar for a variety of goods and services. We were asked at least 20 times if we either wanted a taxi, hair braided, a tour, or moped rentals. Once you can fight off the gauntlet, you are left alone to your own devices. We had a relaxing walk downtown and then rented our own taxi for an island tour for $50.
Our guide took us to a genuine bat cave and to see Bob Marley's Bahamas compound. Very interesting and informative trip and well worth the $50 + tip.
Half Moon Cay is a money making, private island operation from Carnival. Lots of ways that they have devised to separate you from your greenbacks through either excursions or alcohol or rentals. We managed to bypass those and enjoyed a relaxing day in the water.
** The Food **
Time to discuss the food. Yum is about the only word we can use. You can
enjoy elegant dining, or just strap on the feedbag and eat at the buffet.
Reading the reviews here, we were prepared ( and told the kids this ) to be
disappointed. Bah, reviews. Our first night on the ship, ( with freestyle dining times) we looked at each other in amazement at how good the food really was. The presentation and service was excellent in all dining areas.
Our son loved the sandwiches and wraps. Our daughter loved all things fish.
We have absolutely no complaints regarding the food except for the fact that we
each gained about 5lbs on this cruise! Oh, and the lemonade is to die for.
One thing that you should not miss on the sea day is the high tea. Only about 40 passengers came out to enjoy tea and fancy desserts in the afternoon. We were surprised at how many of them were in their finery, as well! That was a highlight for us.....and no children were present.
** Thoughts **
We booked via the internet and paid under $1000 for all 4 of us, including all taxes. This, to us, was the deal of the decade.
The ship is a little worn around the edges, but who isn't? We had a magical vacation and a positive attitude. We would go again on the Ecstasy with a different itinerary.
Thanks for reading this and don't let the negative reviews spoil this cruise!