This was a cruise to celebrate our 20th anniversary, and our sons 11th birthday (this was his first cruise ever!). Let me briefly take you through our whole experience:
We parked at the Park -N- Cruise lot, less than 3 miles from the port and only $6.00 a day with free shuttle! I recommend using them, but ARRIVE EARLY! We waited in line to park for about an hour. Because of the great rate, they get packed and the lot fills QUICKLY!
The check in process was a breeze, and in no time we were in our cabin. We too noticed the faint urine smell, but it must be a drainage issue. Few squirts of cologne helps :) Our steward always had our cabin in pristine shape. On the subject of the steward, he was so nice and attentive! He always called us by name, wished us a Happy Anniversary by leaving a note with pretty towel swans in the shape of a heart, and a cute towel monkey hanging form the air vent with a Happy Birthday note for our son. When I needed something (like a hair dryer), he brought it right away.
Yes, the ship does show some signs of it's age, but it is extremely clean! I am not sure why others are saying it is dirty, but I assure you it is not.
Now on to the all important subject of food :) The food on this ship is NOT great, but it is good and there is plenty of it!!!! Some things were fabulous like the crab cake appetizer on the last night and the Bitter and Blanc dessert
on the first. Then there were dreadful disasters like their idea of cherries jubilee and baked Alaska. But, if you don't like something, ask for something else! What I wish about the food, was that it was hotter and the breakfast drinks colder (I was always able to find white and chocolate milk). The buffet food and desserts were always good, with good variety, and with 24 hour ice cream, pizza, and room service you will not go hungry!
The casino is small, but it has the essentials. I did not go to the night clubs or shows, with the exception of the comedy club which is BRILLIANT!!!!! I laughed so hard I stopped breathing :)
Going ashore at the port of calls were easy too. I am not going to comment on Nassau, since Carnival has nothing to do with it. However, Half Moon Cay was GREAT! I wish we spent 2 days there :) I did do the yoga on the beach class, and as an avid yogi I was so excited for the class; however, they do not do it until 10:00 and by then, it is much too hot. By the end of class, I was ill. The loose sand and lack of provided yoga mats (you bring a towel from your room), made getting into poses very difficult. But, the water was refreshing and so beautiful! We did not do any shore excursions so I cannot comment there. But, please note, things like sun shades are considered shore excursions, so look to book them early!
I did get a facial from the spa. It was a very good facial. Yes, they try to suggestively sell you a ridiculous amount of products (my sheet came to $1200 in products); I was only interested in one thing she used and there was no pressure to purchase anything above that at all.
The ship pool is small, and we never went in, but the water slides are a blast!!!!! There is also a hot tub on the serenity deck too, which is nice.
I have to also mention how much fun our son had at Camp Carnival! WOW, he came in some nights later than dad and I ;) They have morning activities, then break for lunch, afternoon fun, then break for dinner, then all night fun until 10:00! My son made friends and they all just had non-stop fun. The counselors are very sweet too. As we left the ship this morning, she hugged our son and wished him a Happy Birthday. The have their own dances, scavenger hunts, paint your own to shirts, etc, Camp Carnival even gave them all a little gift at the final party :) I don't see how any other cruise line could have provided better fun!
For disembarking we opted for the self-assist option. This is where you carry your own luggage off the ship. My son had to go to school, so we needed to leave as early as possible, and this offers you the earliest times. It was the EASIEST disembarkation EVER! We woke up at 6:00, was eating by 6:30 and on the shuttle back to our car by 7:30!!! We literally walked right off the ship and through Customs with ZERO WAIT!
Bottom line is this...the bottom line! We paid $785 (out the door) for 3 people to go on a 4 night cruise. That means we each paid $65.42 a day for hotel, all the food you can eat, transportation, entertainment, and child care services. How can you beat that???? The Ecstacy is a value cruise, if you want luxury, cruise elsewhere! But don't go into the cruise expecting 5 star service for 3 star price. However, if you are looking for a fun, relaxing, get away, that will not break the bank....then this is your ship!!!!