A little background - this was a getaway cruise for me and my three daughters, ages 19. 16, and 12. We needed the break after some rough family stuff (grandma passed away) in November and were really excited about it because we'd sailed the Ecstasy in March and loved it!
Embarkation was smooth and painless - our cabin was ready (we're platinum), and we headed right up to the Lido deck for lunch. The food and beverage service throughout the whole cruise were exceptional. Whether in the dining room, at the Taste Bar, Pizza Pirate, Deli or Lido Deck buffets, the food was hot, fresh, and good.
Our cabin steward was a little "off" - he didn't seem to understand the concept of waiting for a response, but would knock and enter immediately. We spoke first to him about it, and when that didn't work, went to guest services and complained and that took care of the issue. However, other things about him and about our service from him were just not up to par - while he seemed personable enough, and I can't really put my finger on any one specific thing (except that we NEVER had enough towels - not once ... well, once - the first day after I wrote him a note and left a small tip requesting that he give us a fourth beach towel and two more towels for the bathroom - but never again - and since that should be expected, I didn't feel the need to tip additionally from then on) but he kind of creeped all of us out, the room wasn't as clean as we are used to (I cleaned the dust off the ledges of the fold-down beds and it left a washcloth pretty dirty when I was done) and service was inconsistent throughout our cruise.
While we did have a really good time, and the Punchliner's club (Scotty K and Tony Esposito were on our sailing) was a blast, the entertainment left a bit to be desired. That said, Shane - who hosts trivia and the comedy club - was hysterical and I truly enjoyed interacting with him and being entertained by him. The production shows were okay - I miss the live band, but they do a reasonable job and all of the featured singers have excellent voices. Oddly, there were two nights when there just wasn't anything for a family to do together after dinner- there were activities in Circle C and O2, but the main show lounge hosted an "18 and over" event (I think it was the love and marriage show, but it explicitly stated in the Fun Times that it was for 18 and over only -which struck me as odd the next day when they were airing it on the tv). Circle C and O2 experienced a few hiccups, too, when dancers did not show up for promised dance classes, sending the directors into a tailspin trying to organize something on the fly - my 16yo loves stuff like that, so she was pretty disappointed when the dancers didn't show, but came back laughing over how flustered the activities director was - she said "he'd never make it in the 'real world' working with teenagers because he just expects everything to be perfect and flips when something doesn't work".
The bands and guitarists around the ship were fairly decent - I wouldn't write home about them, but they didn't make me run screaming, either. The cruise director, Jacques, has trouble saying his "r", so we had some fun in our cabin mimicking him - but he did a decent job as well. Not too annoying on the PA system. Honestly, though, I think that Matt Mitchum, the cruise director when we were on in March, ran a much tighter ship, provided more options for entertainment and activities, and the lack of these things were noticible. The Welcome Aboard show appears to have been retired - instead they ran Motor City the first night and then repeated it again later in the cruise, alternating it with The Brits, which also ran a second night.
Would I book Ecstasy again? Not sure - I love the Carnival product, and the ship is really kind of a fun little ship with the Rolls Royce Cafe and the decor, but until she has a new CD, I think I'll hold off. We had a good time, but that's because we know how to make our own fun - three of five nights were great with entertainment and the other two were seriously lacking (repeated shows, nothing for those under 18, etc).