We sailed on the Ecstasy 12/24/07, my husband, myself, and our 2 teenage daughters. We arrived in Houston/Galveston 2 days early and did some sightseeing, staying at the Comfort Suites on the Seawall. We parked at EZ Cruise parking around 10:45 am the morning of our cruise, everything was so easy. I had prepaid on line about 1 month before. The Cruise Director on the Ecstasy is still Goose and the Captain is still Captain Scala. We were in the terminal about 11am and on the ship by 11:45am. First thing we did was put down our cash for our Sail and Sign cards. We headed to the Lido Deck for lunch. We looked around the ship, took pictures, and I signed up for 30 minutes of internet. I am very bad with catching the crew members names, the crew member in the internet café was very nice and friendly. The ship was decorated for Christmas and look nice, but wasn't over done on decorations. Carnival was serving free champagne all afternoon, but I opted for the drink of the day. We headed to the cabins at 1:30pm. We had 2 cabins on the Rivera deck, inside (I don't like to see the ocean go by, so no windows is my choice). 2 cabins is the way to go if you have teenagers. I can see a family of 4 in the cabin if they are young children, but we really liked having the 2 cabins with teenagers. Our PVP assigned us 2 cabins next to each other, since the girls are 13, and 17. On the reservations it was 1 adult and 1 child per cabin. I didn't change it at the purser, all 4 sail and signs were on 1 account anyway. No need switch names on paper and get everything complicated, I did get an extra key for the cabin the girls stayed in. Our cabins were ready, but the cabin stewards were still cleaning some cabins. As you know the cabins have TVs, and they get Denver stations with a lot of ship stations. Every time I went in the girls room they had on a music video station. The muster drill was conducted at 4pm and over in about 30 minutes or less. We were back on deck for the sail away. It was a little brisk due to the chilly Galveston weather, but so beautiful. My daughter even saw a couple of dolphins swimming along the ship. Then off to unpack. We decorated our doors with Christmas windows clings, but didn't see any other decorated doors. Ours looked great! The rooms were very chilly, but chilly is ok when you have a little motion sickness. We closed the vents and it was still chilly. There is a ton of room for storage, I never felt the need to have the over the door hanger. There was a nice closet with 2 sides to hang clothes and the middle area had shelves. The safe was in the shelf area. You no longer need a card for the safe, it is set your own numbers. Each room also had 2 robes.
We had the late dinner seating because we are late waters, so we caught the early show. It was good, except the comedian was lame. Then off to dinner in Wind Star. We loved our Waiter "Captain Nemo". That was the name he told us to call him, I know he was from the Ukraine. Said he had been working for Carnival for 6 years and just came to the Ecstasy from the Spirit. He was great, food was great. We each had something different and everything was great. After dinner there was Christmas Caroling in the Atrium, it was fun. My girls looked into Club O2, looked boring, they never went back. Husband really enjoyed Music with Eugene at the Metro Bar. We played Name that Tune with Angela in the Neon Bar, it was fun. Then we hit the bed and loved the bedding. It's to die for! We really never met the room steward. Our room was very well taken care of, room was always clean all hours of the day, ice bucket always full, and great towel animals.
Early the next morning we felt the ship rolling before we got out of bed. It got better later in the morning. I talked to a crew member in the elevator that evening. He told me this was a very smooth cruise. (I have very bad motion sickness, ate motion sickness pills like candy, and I actually did pretty good this trip.) I actually let the kids sleep in a little this morning. After a great buffet breakfast in the Pamorama Grill we headed off to find activities. One hint is that the line outside at the Lido deck is the same food as inside, we found the outside line very short when the inside lines were long. We would get our food outside, and go inside for a table. We then hit Trivia in the Metro Bar, and let me just say, I won a 24K Gold Plastic Ship on a Stick!!!!! That's right, I won Trivia. My husband used the Gym and did his running during my victory. He really liked the equipment they had. We also played Bingo this morning. It was really fun. You can pay for the bingo with cash. If you have cash you don't have to stand in line for a card. They also have starch off cards and they toss out free stuff to the crowd. I was surprised how much we did need cash for. Bingo, stamps, tips, some food in the coffee bar (I got free postcards from the Pursers desk). We had lunch in the Pamorama Grill, the kids got a calzone and a sandwich. Husband and I went for the buffet. Then husband and I went off to the Wine Tasting while the girls went to "Build a Bear". The wine tasting was great. I've always wanted to do one, never had the chance. Of course now I have to listen to my husband talk about his wine knowledge. Kids were surprised that they had to stuff the bear by hand. But they were happy with their bears. Next was the Christmas show, it was very nice. Then we were going to head to Tea Time. They hold Team Time in the Neon Bar which was very very small. When we got to the Neon there were no more seats left. My one suggestion to Carnival would be to hold the Tea Time in a larger room. Not everyone who wanted to participate could. The girls got airbrush tattoos and then we spent a little time sending e-mails home before getting ready for the formal night. We took several pictures before the Captains Party. The Captains party was great. Had a few more pictures taken then headed for dinner. Being Christmas dinner it was fantastic. We headed to the Blue Sapphire for the nightly show. It was good. I think we were very tired by then and went on to bed after the show.
Wednesday we arrived in Progresso at 7am. Ecstasy was the only ship in Progresso that day. I had to get the family up early to have breakfast before we left. I had signed up for the Uxmal tour months before we sailed on the Carnival site. Since it was so far away I decided to go with Carnival. Getting off the ship was very quick and easy. They didn't call certain groups or anything like that. Just get off when you want. We headed down the pier and looked for the gentleman with the Uxmal sign. He took us right to the bus. And let me tell you, there was only one bus to Uxmal. We were on the road by 7:30am. We saw the lines for Chichen Itza, there were 3 lines and they were very long. They had to have 5-10 buses. The ship was really pushing Chichen Itza the day before. They hadn't even loaded the buses when we left. It was a very interesting 1 ½ hour ride to Uxmal. There were 2 guides. One talked for around 30 minutes about the Mayan cultural. Then he just let us enjoy the ride. This area is not a touristy Mexico, it is very poor looking. We stopped at a rest stop about 20 minutes from the Uxmal entrance. It was a small shop and a small bathroom. Not a luxury bathroom, bring your on paper and hand wipes. Then we arrived at the site. It was beautiful. We had a guide for about an hour then he let everyone look around on their own for 45 minutes. We had about 15 minutes to look at the official shops inside the Uxmal area and then there were vendors outside selling mostly clothes. We bought a couple of t-shirts and a dress. T-shirts were $5. On the ride back we ate our provided lunch of a sandwich, fruit, and Mexican chips. The whole bus had fun comparing chips, they were defiantly not Lays. It was a quite ride back to the pier. We arrived about 1 ½ before boarding, so we had plenty of time to shop the shops at the pier. We bought several things, just t-shirts and trinkets for gifts. Getting back on the ship was a breeze. We headed up to the deck to watch for last minute returners, but there were none. We hung out on the deck until time to get ready for dinner. We caught the Ultimate mind game and then Cha Cha Dance Class in the Blue Sapphire before dinner. Dinner was again great. Tonight they had Prime Rib and Lobster. I had both and made the kids try Lobster. I will say it was a very small lobster, it was an entrée but I thought it was to small for an entrée. Your waiter will try to provide whatever you want for dinner. My daughter asked for iceberg lettuce every night and he brought it right to her. Tonight was also the Chocolate Melting cake. Just to die for!!! After dinner we headed for Bingo, yes we became addicted to Bingo. I never made it to the Casino, so my gambling money went to Bingo. We skipped the Guest Variety show but made the Under the Stars Deck Party and Mexican Buffet on the Lido. My daughter had a blast dancing and then the tossing of stuff proceeded (t-shirts, shoes, bags). She finally caught something. It was late so off to bed.
We got up a little later for Cozumel. We arrived about 7:45am at the pier. We did not book through Carnival today. We were swimming with the dolphins and I bought the package on-line. There were 4 ships in port today and we were next to the Grand Princess. Again getting off was a breeze, not lines at all. The weather was nice and then got overcast. Never had rain where we were, but you could see it rained somewhere on the island. We headed out and caught a cab right in front of the Punta Langosta Pier. After a short ride we were at Chankanaab National Park. Our entrance was included and we just had to wait for the Dolphin Discovery person to come give us the bracelet to get in. After we got signed in a Dolphin Discovery we headed to the beach to go ahead and get a spot and get snorkel gear. I rented the gear for $10 and we hit the water for about 25 minutes before heading back to Dolphin Discovery. My girls loved the Dolphin experience! They said it was the highlight of the trip. Our dolphin had a baby and it really was a treat to see both dolphins. It only took about 10 minutes after we were done swimming with the dolphins to get our video and pictures. We then just sat on the beach, snorkeled and had a little lunch. Lunch was priced like eating in the US. We had 1 beer, 2 ham sandwiches and guacamole for $25. There are waiters that come around to where you are sitting and take your orders. At 1:30 pm we headed back to the pier area to do some more shopping. What can I say, it was shopping in Mexico. We were only looking for t-shirts and trinkets. My daughter carried on a conversation with a boy in the Hard Rock Cafe. High School Spanish is paying off! (ha ha) We got back on the ship around 3pm for the 4pm departure. Carnival does x-ray everything coming on, but it was still very quick getting back on. So we watched the sail away, it was very interesting. After cleaning up for dinner we caught some sushi. The lines can get really long but my family said it was really good. We just cruised the shops, bought a few things, hung out at the Metro Bar until dinner. There are only 3 shops to shop at. I really expected more shops. After a wonderful dinner we headed back to the room to rest and I guess we were so tired everyone fell asleep. We were going to check the show, but oh well.
The next day we slept in and went to the dining room for breakfast. That was a different experience, we enjoyed it. Then we started our last day on the ship. We did trivia again, girls got their tattoos fixed (half price if you need it refreshed), bingo, the debarkation talk, then we headed to the deck to sun and have hamburgers. After a couple of hours on the deck we headed to more trivia and Lido deck games. Then we saw the Newlywed Not-so-Newlywed game. And of course more bingo. We went to the Mixology 101 where they talked about how to make drinks and gave away free drinks. After cleaning up for dinner we caught the show which had a very, very old guy singing. But the comedian was very funny. Dinner was again great and we were sad to leave Nemo. He was a great waiter. The waiters did the song tonight, we enjoyed it. After dinner we finished up our shopping and caught the late night comedy show, then off to pack up. I don't feel like we ate a lot. I gained nothing, my husband gained 8 pounds. We did take the stairs A LOT. Down almost always and up if it was 1 or 2 floors. We just found it so much quicker most of the time. Only thing I might have wanted was a hors d'oeuvre buffet before dinner. It would have been nice before dinner with a drink. I did go to the regular buffet and get a small plate of cheese, olives and bread, it was nice.
Getting off the cruise the next morning was a breeze. I made the kids get up a little to early. We had breakfast at the buffet around 8am. You could tell there were more people than normal this morning. Then we went to our room to finish packing and wait about an hour to be called. We arrived in Galveston around 8am. We chose to do self demarcation and our luggage tags were 25. We sat and listened while they called numbers, knowing 25 was last. I didn't see large crowds in the halls or elevators. While we waited I did enjoy walking around our deck and looking into other cabins. There were several cabin arrangements. When 25 was called we walked right out to the elevators, got on and got right off the ship. This was about 9:30am. The walk down to the terminal wasn't real fun with luggage, but I was still glad we did it. There was a guy with a painting that kept holding up the line down. But when we got to the end and saw the very, very long line and the Carnival person said Porter line this way I headed the family that way. Porter is the only to go!!! He loaded our luggage and we were off to the customs line. Went right through and the Porter took us to the Ez-cruse parking line and we were off. We were at our car at 10:10am. This was all so easy, I had read how horrible this was, but it was all so very smooth. We really enjoyed the trip, I wish we could have down everything they had to do, guess that is why you go on more than one cruise.