My husband and in-laws just got back from our very first cruise on Carnival's Ecstasy of the Sea cruise ship.
We were so excited to be taking this cruise and from what our friends have told us about their cruising experiences we were more than ready to be pampered and well fed. Unfortunately, this was not the case.
Monday 2-3-14: We had an uneventful check in. Everything was quick and easy. We arrived at our inside state room and it was larger than we expected it to be. The room was rather "worn and out-dated" but we weren't too concerned because we were planning on spending our time on deck and in the pool. My husband turned the air conditioning knob located above the bed to give us some cool air and flecks of black grime started coming out. It was greasey and smeared our sheets and floor. We called customer service and the maintenance people came in about 20 minutes. They put a new filter inside and housekeeping changed the sheets and vacuumed the floor. We met "DD" our personal attendent who is in charge of keeping our cabin clean. He was very personable and called us by name. He never asked us if we had any requests such as ice in the room or another pillow, but in all fairness, he was taking care of alot of other people as well. NOT as personal as we expected, but what do we know. We shrugged this off.
We went up to have a late lunch at the Lido Deck buffet. The food was just "ok". It was a higher grade than institutional at best. The dessert bar looked better than it tasted. The cakes are dry and other items had no taste. Thank goodness for the ice cream station. There is ample seating for everyone and the views are great. There is also the Mongolian Grill which has stir fry items. This wasn't too bad, but they kept running out of veggies. If you are 65 yrs. old or older, you will love the food. I am 54 yrs. old and expected better quality. No offense to my elders, but my in-laws loved the buffet because they could eat as much as they wanted. The formal dining room- everyone is assigned to their own formal dining area- was pretty nice. Ours was the Wind Star Dining Room. The ambiance was beautiful, but again the food was sub-par. My starter was shrimp cocktail. I recieved 5 salad sized shrimp on a plate with cocktail sauce. What the hell? I'm in Florida and the seafood should be fabulous. Not the case. My expectations from there just went downhill. I was right. My hot food was lukewarm and my cold food was not cold. Portion size is lacking and just some advice- don't order anything extra like a baked potato instead of the pumpkin puree. They will take your order, but you won't get the substitution. One GOOD thing to order: CHOCOLATE MELTING CAKE. It was awesome. Rich and delicious! You will be assessed a "gratuity" for all dining, so don't leave any cash on the table thinkiing they won't charge you the additional gratuity.
Speaking of gratuities, you are also charged a housekeeping gratuity. The housekeeping staff do work very hard but I felt like I was paying their wage for Carnival.
The entertainment was lacking for people my age. No- I do not want to pay to play bingo, I do not want to learn how to make towel animals and the Hasboro game show was as lame as it gets. BORING. The adult comedy show at 9pm was funny and the Britts variety show was good. Other than that, you have to make your own fun. Ecstasy has only ONE medium sized pool and 4 hot tubs. For over 2000 people, this just does not compute. The same people monopolized the pool and the hot tubs. Their was only 3 hot tubs working on one day. The Serinity Deck for adults only was nice but limited for space. Good luck finding a lounge chair. The mens restrooms were often out of service, so you needed to go to your cabin to use the restroom. The elevators were at times not working as well. Do ALOT of walking prior to getting on this boat. You will be using your legs with all the stair climbing you will be doing to get to the outside decks. Don't bother with the "art show" where you can purchase "art". No deals here. The one good deal is with their $20.00 watch sets from Bella Rosa. Very nice selection and a good deal. The jewelry shops will try to sell you their diamonds and watches, but be very careful. The diamonds may not be the quality you would normally want to purchase.
The shore excursion we chose was the Twister. It was a boat ride to a private island in Cozumel. This was an all in-clusive excursion which included alcoholic drinks and a nice food buffet on the island. This was a HIGHLIGHT and so much fun!!
My closing comments are: be careful about your alcoholic drinks on board the ship. $$$$ The pop is also expensive. This is an OLD SHIP that has had "some" refurbishing. I felt like I was slumming it in comparison to the other ships out there. We had a nice time but we didn't feel as though the crew went above or beyond. The senior officers didn't even speak to us in passing. Would I cruise on the ECSTASY again? NO. Will I cruise again after my first time cruising experience? YES!! Probably not with Carnival.
We took the TWISTER boat excursion. It was AWESOME and all inclusive. Alcoholic drinks and food buffet on a private island was wonderful. The white sand beach and the beautiful tourqoise water was breathtaking!! I wish I was there now!!
Many over priced shops with over zealous merchants. Be careful about what they will try to sell you as silver.