Let me start off by saying how nervous I was to be sailing on one of the older ships in the fleet.... Let me also start off by saying how mis guiding some of the other reviews for this ship can be.
We sailed on Halloween out of Port Canaveral. We stayed at the Four Points by Sheraton and utilized their park and cruise. For only $35 our car got to stay at their covered garage that was also extremely cure when it came to surveillance cameras and security. It also included transportation for up to four, which worked out great for the three of us traveling. We left the hotel at 10:30 and were at the port by 11. We did make a stop at the Radison to pick up another party, but there were only a total of three groups on the shuttle. That was surprising since Sensation and the Disney Dream were also sailing that day.
Check in was fast and efficient. Since we were booked in an Ecstasy Suite we had priority boarding. How great it is to sit and enjoy a glass of ice water while you wait to check in. There was only group in front of us that was wrapping up at the priority check in desk. We quickly took our pictures and received our sign & sails along with our priority boarding placard. As we headed to the boarding area I noticed how short the check in lines were for non priority passengers were. We were about to sit down and wait for them to begin calling for zone boarding when I realized they had begun priority boarding. We literally walked onto the ship and right up to the lido deck for lunch.
The Mongolian wok had the shortest line I had ever seen, so we took advantage of it. The rest of the cruise that line seemed ridiculous!! Since we are onto food, let's get all comments out now: we never had an issue. With the food, whether it be from the main dining room or the lido deck. They had ample selections and if you don't like something, order something else or help yourself to another selection from the lido buffet. The duck appetizer in the MDR was superb. In my group I think we tried just about every appetizer and entree offered. Our favorites were the Turkey, Flank Steak (the sauce topping was not a fav at our table though), the Lobster (don't be afraid to order more than one... We did!), and the Veal. When it came to deserts the melting cake always wins. I enjoyed the Bitter and Blanc bread pudding too! We also enjoyed the Wind Star brunch a few days. The Eggs Benedict and French Toast were great! Really though, I've never had a problem with the food on CCL, and if I ever run into something I don't like, I voice my opinion and get it switched and move on!
Halloween night was amazing! One of the biggest party atmospheres I have seen on a ship! There were many costumes, which surprised me. We spent most of our time in the Neon Piano Bar with Milburn, who is by far the best piano man on the high seas! We had him on the Legend in 2010 and he was just as fun thin time around.
The casino was smaller than other ships, but we still played. Didn't have Lady Luck on our side, but enjoyed it none the less.
Ports of call: Nassau we chose the RIU Palace all inclusive Day Pass. Let me say how amazing it was. We had the beach and a beautiful resort style pool complete with a swim up bar! We lost track of how many drinks we had, so that means it was fun. The food at the resort was delicious! And the service at this resort was absolutely amazing!
Freeport we chose Pat and Diane's all day sail and snorkel with private beach. This was the best excursion I have ever taken. The snorkeling was difficult, as the waters were rough. However, we were out there on the coral reef at Treasure Bay by ourselves for almost 30 minutes before any other excursion joined us. We proceeded to a private beach, there was no one around at all. We enjoyed BBQ chicken, fresh conch salad, and all the bahama mamas you could drink. The waters were warm and totally enjoyable. We found Freeport to better shopping than Nassau, but that was our personal opinion based upon the offerings we came upon.
Overall, the Ecstasy was amazing! Our suite was great, our steward was very attentive. He even changed out pull out bed back to a couch for us each day! This really made us enjoy the room so much more. Our balcony was the extended grand suite ones, and that is now our favorite balcony type (aside from the aft wraps on the Spirit class ships). The ship may be old, but I never felt like it needed work. Great time, great drinks, great people, great vacation! Also, the cheers program was available. We did not do it this time, as we managed to get 3 liters of our own onto the ship. However, we will be partaking on our net cruise, as it is easier to have someone else make the drink for you.... And you don't have to worry about running to your room to freshen up.
Don't be shy when it comes to the Ecstasy. She my not look like much from the outside, but she is greatly taken care of. You will have a blast!