This trip was a high school graduation trip for my daughter. We took a mother/daughter trip to celebrate!
We drove in from the Florida Panhandle on Sunday and stayed at the International Palms Resort in Cocoa Beach. We got a great rate on Hotwire. The next morning we grabbed a breakfast sandwich at Dunkin Donuts and stopped in at the RonJon for some shopping. We parked at The Radisson. Very easy and convenient. We paid, parked, and hopped on the bus. Took very little time.
We were dropped off at the Port, checked luggage, checked in, and walked on the ship...literally. No stopping. I think from the time we pulled into the Radisson until walking on the ship it was a total of one hour max.
We stayed in a category 1A on deck 4. This was absolutely the perfect cabin for us. We had plenty of room to move around and for storage. FYI the thermostat is in the ceiling and the shower slightly floods the bathroom floor. Otherwise the room was perfect...very comfy beds. Our stateroom host always had our room clean and stocked.
Nassau- we walked the town then visited Junkanoo Beach. The weather was not perfect beach weather but the water was nice. We did some more shopping on the way back to the ship and stopped for ice cream.
Freeport- RAIN! We took a taxi to Port Lucaya ($10 roundtrip) and walked around a bit. After we saw all the shops we wanted...and got ice cream...again...we walked across the street to the beach. We did not spend that much time there...just long enough to cool off in the water. We hopped the taxi back to port and bought one of those fruity drinks in a coconut then back on board. I spent the rest of the afternoon on the Serenity Deck and my daughter watched movies in the room.
Key West- getting off the ship was a nightmare. Everyone had to clear customs. They started calling decks at 8am....well by 9:30 they had still not called ours. We got in line and got off the ship. People that had excursions were given first priority but it was clear to us that people were not waiting for their deck to be called. Once we finally got off we hopped the trolly into town (docked at Navy pier). We walked all the way to the Southernmost Point..and yes stopped for ice cream, key lime pie on a stick, and conch fritters! Our last stop was the Key West Toy Factory. There was a magician in there that was awesome! We hopped the trolly back to the ship and back on board at about 4:00.
We mostly ate in the buffet for all meals. There was always a good selection and even the pickiest eater should have been able to find something to eat. We ate in the dining room for the formal night only. Service was good and the food was good..had the lobster tail. I have had lobster on many ships but this one was done very well....not overcooked and not undercooked. The Mongolian Wok was awesome but always busy. The sushi bar had good selections daily and could also be found on the dinner buffet. Our daily snack: a plate of french fries! Oh...and the lemonade!
We went to most of the shows including all the game shows. We always had a great laugh. We did not play bingo but did watch. The best shows on the ship were the comedy shows (family and adult) and the Newlywed/Marraige show! Absolutely hilarious. We also participated in the deck party. We had a great time dancing with the staff.
The entertainment staff was wonderful. They truly went out of their way to make sure you were having a great time. Always hilarious banter! Steve and Gary were the cruise directors and do such a fabulous job. Everyone on the ship could not get enough of Gary!
Pools: never had a problem getting getting a chair by the pool or on the Serenity deck. The pool was only crowded on the sea day.
Returning cruisers get together: This was done really well. Unlimited drinks and snacks. They also gave away a bottle of champagne. No problems getting drinks there! Amazing how many returning cruisers there were!
Ok..this could have been easier. I should have done self assist debarkation. We were in the last group off the ship at almost 10 o'clock. We walked right through customs with barely a glance. We had to wait about 40 minutes for our shuttle back to the car. There were 4 ships in port that day so that definitely had them backed up. They were apologetic. We were in the car on the road at 11:00.
We had a wonderful experience on the Ecstacy. We did not follow any schedule and just did things as we felt like it. We were not expecting grandeur...just a good time...and that is what we got. The crew goes out of their way to keep the ship clean and everyone satisfied. I really never heard a complaint from anyone on board and certainly not from us. Don't be afraid to give the Ecstacy a try....you will definitely like it.