We are Carnival VIFP Platinum members (yeah, I know. . .whoop-tee-doo)and have sailed on Carnival 21 times. Needless to say, we LOVE Carnival. We've now sailed on 4 Fantasy class ships: Paradise, Fantasy, Sensation and Ecstasy so we do have something to compare. We love these Fantasy class ships and feel these ships are the greatest bang for the buck. Our most recent cruise was 9/1/2012 on the Ecstasy, and our first time on this ship, and our 5th time sailing out of Port Canaveral. This poor ship is in such need of so many repairs its really sad. Our shower ceiling was completely molded, a light was out in the bathroom, and the bathroom flooded everytime we showered, even when we tried extra hard to make sure the shower curtain was fully inside the shower. Friends of ours also staying in an oceanview cabin had a broken light fixture hanging from the ceiling and another light over the bed that buzzed and flickered when it was on. It looked like a fire hazard and something badly in need of attention. Our cabin steward was wonderful.
The staff is friendly on this ship, and the service is very good (not great, as on the Fantasy, but there is nothing to complain about). The windows on this ships are filthy, and we watched as crew tried in vane to clean them, they are just too old. The wait staff on the Lido Deck was greatly in need of training. They stood around as if they did not know what to do, while tables were not cleaned off and people were looking for a place to sit. They would only put chocolate milk out on the buffet line and we had to ask twice for white milk. They weren't sure what we were asking for and kept pointing to the chocolate milk as if we couldn't see it. We finally had to ask the manager if there was any white milk for our cereal. He went to the back and returned with two cartons for us. But still did not realize the buffet line had no white milk. We also noticed little (obvious to us) things such as the salad bar was not regularly wiped off and there was spilled dressing, and the salad dressing containers were all messy with drips. The food was ok on this ship, but we have had better on Carnival. They now have a standard menu, and although it would seem all the food would be the same from ship to ship, there is definitely a difference depending on which ship you sail on.
The casino was the worst of all the ships we've sailed on anywhere. Carnival has some of the best casinos on the sea, but the Ecstasy casino was so bad it was nearly empty every night, except for the table games. People who had sailed with Carnival many times were all saying the same thing. The slots were just futile. . .you know you have tight slot machines when you spin 5 - 10 times and don't even hit on a minimum win.
There are many things on this ship that are simply out of commission, such as the hot tubs, the ice cream machines, some of the elevators, and the ice machines. The elevators vibrate badly when they reach a floor and stop. As a general observation, the ship doesn't look clean.
Shockingly, there was no entertainment on this ship with the Carnival dancers or singers. One night there was a passenger talent show and one night there was a mediocre blues singer. I had read this in other reviews but thought it was the exception.
On this cruise most people dressed up for formal night. Ladies looked fabulous in their long gowns and men wore nice suits for the most part. Gone are the days of the "Captain's Party" even though they mention it in the Fun Times. They offer $1 off drinks for a couple of hours. The past guest party however, is very nice and seems to be more like the old "Captain's Party." We never saw the captain, but he does speak better English than most!
And finally, and I know those who are not VIFP members will hate this comment. . .but this ship makes NO attempt to treat it VIFP members as valued guests. Debarkation was a nightmare, as no one came to retrieve us from the waiting lounge and we ended up having to fight our way off the ship with the rest of the herd. It's just amazing to me how no ship has figured out how to get it's guests to debark in an orderly fashion. The rules they say they will enforce ("if you go to the lobby before your deck is called you will be asked to leave") are just not enforced.
So, overall, this ship is ready for the graveyard. It was renovated after its duty in New Orleans after Katrina, but it lacks any luster or life. As for me and my husband, we'll stick to other ships from now on. Having said all this, a bad cruise is still a great vacation!!