This was our first time on the Ecstasy - our 7th cruise w/Carnival. This is a much smaller ship than some of the others we've been on, but has a very nice ambience. Embarkation was the easiest we've experienced ever - but it was probably due to the traffic jam on IH45 Southbound from Houston (that we blessedly got around), and the 300,000 bikers that were attending a Harley Davidson convention in Galveston that probably caused others to delay their arrival. We got there around 2PM and literally had no waiting whatsoever.
Our first day out was the roughest I've ever experienced on a cruise - we had 30 foot swells and whitewater that would've made a Colorado river jealous! Most folks were pretty seasick, but luckily my spouse & I do not suffer with that. It was pretty boring the first day, however, because the high winds and waves made it pretty dangerous to do anything but sit in your cabin or at the slots. We still enjoyed the food and just getting to know the ship anyway. As a result of that, our stop in Cozumel was cut short, unfortunately, but we had decided against any shore tours and simply shopped - the current pier where the ships dock is right downtown, since the hurricanes last season destroyed the older pier that was further out. Shopping in Cozumel seemed less exciting to me than the last time we were there about 3 years ago. The next day made up for everything however, as we booked the Chichen Itza tour in Progresso. Wow - what a great day. Even though we arrived over an hour late in Progresso due to the remnants of the rough seas, Carnival guaranteed that all of us on all-day tours would not be left behind and they literally did hold the ship for us! The tour of Chichen Itza should not be missed by anyone. It is a fair amount of walking, but none of it is difficult walking except for the portion that goes to the Cenote. Other than that - be sure you bring water and a hat. It is warm there - even in November.
On the ship, the food was excellent as always, although I do wish they'd vary the menus a little more. The one thing they had discontinued I really missed - their chocolate decadence dessert which is to die for! Oh well, in its place they now have a "melting cake" which is also very good. We found the wait staff and room steward friendly, attentive and very accommodating to any requests. The only complaint we had was that they had no place for adults to dance until after 10:30 every night, so if you were an early riser/early to bed person, you were just out of luck, except for the brief opportunity to dance at the formal night reception.
Entertainment - the shows were the best I've seen yet, except for the female singer who could NOT sing! However, the dancers and content of the shows made up for it. The Lido deck group was very good and very versatile. The C&W singer by the casino was pathetic.
Debarkation was the WORST ever, but probably due to the increased processes with homeland security. It took us over an hour and a half to get through the process from the time our "color tag" was called on the ship until we got out of the terminal and headed to our car. I guess it seems that they might need to increase their immigration staff if they're going to be so thorough in their questioning, searches, etc.
Overall, we might not book the Ecstasy again, just because it seemed to have less to offer in the way of activities/pools, etc., but we'll definitely do Carnival again!