We were surprised to find the Carnival Ecstasy in such good condition given its age. We sailed in January on the Carnival Pride, and it was getting run down despite having been recently remodeled. It was apparent that the Ecstasy crew takes much more pride in their ship than does the crew of the Pride. Food was FAR better on Ecstasy as well. We speculated that the food may taste better on Ecstasy because the water on the ship was so much better. The tap water on the Pride is nearly undrinkable -- it tastes so bad you'll rush to brush your teeth. Ecstasy tap water tastes pretty good, actually.
I have children who attended Circle C and Club o2. They had a great time, but we were disappointed that activities were so often scheduled during the "family" type events (like the magician, Hasbro game show, family stand up comedy, etc), which caused our kids to have to choose between spending time with us or their new friends. Guess who won :( If you're looking for a place to dump off your kids, the activities on board will suit that purpose, but if you're planning on taking a "family vacation", Ecstasy may not be the ship for you. Activities for the kids included daily scavenger hunts (guess they ran out of ideas), games, attendance at Motor City for the older kids, and t shirt decorating.
There is only one pool on Ecstasy, but that didn't seem to be a problem. The Serenity deck was a bit of a joke -- too small and no fun hammocks or sun chairs like on Pride. It was plain Ecstasy's Serenity deck was added as an afterthought after the fire years ago, so we just ignored it. There is a good bit of outdoor eating available in the buffet area on Ecstasy, so this is a big improvement over Pride which has none.
REO Speedwagon was the Carnival Live concert on this cruise. Those dudes are older than my father, but they can still jam. Enjoyed the concert.
Did not enjoy Motor City. Grinding, pelvic thrusts, and faux stripping just aren't my thing. The singing and dancers were better than we've had on many cruises. It's unfortunate they had to make it so dirty. I was especially uncomfortable when Club O2 staff brought in the 15-17 year olds and sat them on the front row where they were looking up skirts as dancers hitched their skirts up and mere feet away from the pelvic thrusting. It was like being a strip club. We actually had to remove our son when the female stripping started, because who knew when it was going to stop -- our Pride cruise had dancers in thongs and pasties. Thank God the stripping stopped at thong with a nightie over the top, but still. It was outrageously inappropriate for kids.
The water slide on this ship is very, very slow. The side-by-side slides are actually more fun. We enjoyed shuffle board even though it was in a main walk way. Wish they would have had another giant chess board. Even though this ship is small, there was plenty of ways to entertain ourselves, and we all had a very good time.
We traveled during our spring break. Our break is at the end of the season, and though there was lots of drinking, it didn't bother us nondrinkers. It did provide some amusement for us when some college co-eds were so plastered at muster they thought we were already in Mexico. We laughed even harder when at they end of the muster one said, "Hey, high five for safety!" and then they missed their high five. Carnival does have more of a party vibe than other lines (Royal Caribbean is our favorite), but if you're worried that drinking, gambling, might affect your children, we found our cruise on Ecstasy was fine for our family. Key West and snorkeling at Port Zach were particularly fun.