Let me start by saying that I booked this cruise at a ridiculously cheap price for a last minute birthday celebration. I want to pass on my review to others who are considering paying good money for a vacation and don’t have any expectations. I have been on this cruise on both the Ecstasy and the Elation, so I knew what this cruise is and isn’t…as another cruise critic member review stated, it’s the people of Wal-Mart cruise – and it is. That said, this is a budget friendly, family oriented, booze cruise vacation. No frills, kind of like staying at a floating Motel 6. The ship itself is very clean and comfortable, however, many of the elevators were out of service which was quite inconvenient. Staff was friendly although not particularly responsive. To spare you all the details, just don’t expect a lot and be prepared to wait in many lines. I would probably not repeat this cruise unless the price dropped to well under $100pp. Even then it would take some convincing.
As many other reviewers have mentioned, the line for anytime dining was ridiculous. Avoid this at all cost. The food is certainly plentiful but not great, and you will be looking forward to dinner in the MDR. The best meal of the entire trip was brunch on the day at sea, don’t miss it.
Catalina is always a nice destination but try to disembark early. The line gets very long since it’s a tendered port. Now listen closely to this next bit of advice. When the boat stops in Ensenada, don’t get off. I knew this but was talked into it by my travel companions. Perhaps it was the fact that we were the only ship in port, but the minute we go off the shuttle in downtown we were bombarded by vendors. It was horrible. Seriously, it is not pleasant nor safe, especially for the older folks. If you must venture off the boat for souvenirs, just stay at the port terminal. They have basically the same goods (booze, pharmaceuticals, nick knacks, and your run of the mill knock-off goods and you won’t risk your sanity or safety by going into town. None of the excursions are worth taking and you’ll probably have more fun enjoying an empty ship.
M26 and P2 (Penthouse Suite). My husband and I booked a porthole suite and were very pleased. It was priced the same as an interior stateroom but with a view. I can’t imagine why these rooms are priced like this. We would definitely pick this room again. It was very quiet and we didn’t notice any more movement in the cabin than we did in others areas of the boat. The bed is extremely uncomfortable, be prepared for a backache when you get home. Our friends received a call from the infamous upgrade fairy a week prior to departure and accepted the so called “offer of a lifetime” for the penthouse suite. Yes, 1200 square feet on a boat is huge but I’m not sure if it was worth the extra money, although I was very jealous of their comfy bed. They got very few of the perks that were promised to them (priority tender, VIP ship tour, meeting with captain) and the service was much less than expected given the amount of money they spent. The only perk worth mentioning was the priority dining. The maître d had a table waiting for us every night. If you do splurge for this upgrade, make sure to have the sales agent give you a list of the perks in writing so you can present it to the ship staff if you have any trouble onboard.
On an upside, room service was quick. It’s mainly cold sandwiches and chips, nothing too exciting.
The shows were just ok and I was disappointed in the lack of contests and giveaways. The comedy shows fill up quickly so arrive early if you want a seat. I’m a gambler and usually spend a lot of time in the casino. This one is really small, bad for slots and even worse for video poker and keno. The slots are mainly older games with lots of three and five line reels; I prefer the newer video slots, and there are only 8 multi-game progressive (10 coin) video poker machines. However, there is a good assortment of tables and it was never too hard to find a seat. There is a noticeable lack of casino events and don’t even think you will get any of the perks of the Vegas loyalty clubs. I had to beg the casino host for one drink and my friends and I spent a lot of time (and money) in the casino.