We decided to catch a somewhat last minute cruise. Frankly our primary motive was to make sure we have 10 cruises by the end of 2013 so we can be grandfathered into Platinum status under the old rules. The way I read it -- our Mediterranean Cruise next summer will be our 10th and so we should have Platinum status for that cruise.
So off to Freeport and Nassau. We've been to Nassau numerous times so we did not book an excursion. We ate lunch at a second floor restaurant on Bay Street. We highly recommend that you check out "where the locals eat" which include these second floor restaurants. On another trip we ate at a "local" place near Junkaroo Beach. We then walked to the Queen's Staircase. It was worth the trip and yes, there were people who imposed upon you to tell you the story of the staircase and ask (openly) for a donation but it was worth it. We skipped going in to the Fort and then we walked back downtown. We stopped at the historical society which was small but had an interesting display and then we walked back to Bay Street to the Rumcake Factory. Frankly I think they ripped us off there -- the sign said buy a medium or large and get a small free and I believe they charged us for both and they kept the detailed receipt. We briefly walked through the straw market which can be a good place to shop if you can ignore the "high pressure" and just look for what you want. There are also plenty of vendors in the plaza that you need to walk through getting on and off the pier.
Freeport. If you want to do anything in Freeport, book an excursion. We were going to take the bicycle trip but due to a last minute injury we didn't sign up for it. So we took the taxi to Fort Lucaya and basically wasted two hours and $20.
As for the ship. Nothing negative but not our most positive experience either. I think they started embarkation a bit late because the line didn't move for a while when we first arrived. However once we got through security it went smoothly. There were two ships in port and the Ecstasy had the "old" dock. (We arrived back at the new dock). They did the Safety Briefing in various lounges and then brought us up by the lifeboats. We did something similar on a Princess ship but never before on Carnival. It was more comfortable than just crowding together by the boats. This ship was somewhat recently renovated. It has a different layout than most of the other ships. We embarked onto the 7th level and most of the guest rooms were at that level and lower. The main public areas were on the 8th level and above and there was only one of those levels that went through the entire ship.
The adults only Serenity area was a little hard to get to but that was good as well because it wasn't crowded. We discovered late in the trip the that one hot tub was warmer than the other.
It appeared that the fixed seating dining had mostly large tables which is what we like. We like to sit with other travelers. The anytime dining which is where the sit-down breakfast and lunch were served had smaller tables.
A few non-critical staff errors lead me to believe that this boat might be utilized for training. Our housekeeping staff was very friendly but they seemed to be always coming back because they forgot to do something. The staff member for the "next cruise" desk did not speak into the microphone during her presentation (even though she was reminded many times and lots of people walked out because of this). The entertainment staff wasn't overly enthusiastic and just seemed to want to do their job and "get going" -- one morning I arrived at 9:35 for 9:30 trivia and they were already on question 17 and others said that that was happening frequently.
The ship did acknowledge that it was Chanukah and had a menorah lighting on the schedule. They brought out a nice spread of latkes, sour cream, applesauce and fruit. However the neither the assigned kitchen staff person or entertainment staff person were given any briefing about the holiday or traditions and the entertainment staff person was consistently late. Because there was no staff person there, we saw many people sort of wander by like they wanted to stop but then then kept going. Our holiday ended Sunday at sunset but because of lack of explanation about the holiday, they still thought that Sunday night was holiday and put out the spread again that night. I appreciate the effort but it could have been better done or skipped.
Debarkation went smoothly for those of us who did self-assist. They did want everyone out of their rooms by 8:30 so I'm not sure if this caused problems for those with higher zone numbers for regular debarkation.
One glitch which I'm sure will be resolved, we just received an email acknowledging that we were now in their "red" program after taking our first cruise with Carnival. This was our 9th cruise and we are almost Platinum. They email showed a different VIPF number where our proper number and status was on all our other paperwork. I'm sure they will get it resolved.
All in all we were looking for a few days rest and that's what we got. So it was a Fun time on the Fun ship.