In short, I would recommend this cruise for the value, the convenience, and for the overall nice experience. The food was good, the ship is clean and comfortable (nice, roomy cabins)and the activities are just enough to keep you interested without leaving you out of breath. Living in Houston, we absolutely love departing from Galveston. It's a quick, easy trip, and embarkation/debarkation are always a breeze. We arrived at the pier at around 12 and were on the ship a little after 1. Getting off the ship was quick and easy as well. Ecstasy is a smaller ship, but so easy to navigate, and I just fell in love with it.
This past cruise was my 8th, and my sister's 10th. We've traveled on Celebrity (our favorite for superior service), Royal Caribbean (our favorite for pretty good service at a reasonable rate), and Carnival (low budget cruise fun). Our demographic: African-Americans, aged 35 and 48. I like to party, she likes to lay around, and we both had just enough of each. There was always a good spot on the Lido deck, and it never felt crowded around the main pool. Our secret hideaway was on the Promenade deck, Aft, which was right above our room and a great place to catch some sun and peace. Even though there was a kids' pool nearby, the area was perfect for relaxing, and the back staircase that led to it eliminated any waiting for elevators. The in-cabin movies were pretty good, and room service was quick, although the menu was limited.
The main pool area was fine if you wanted to hear music, games, and general noise, but beware of the ladies' restrooms in that area. They were not kept clean and sometimes were even a bit scary. Try not to use them if you can.
Food in the Windsong was consistently good. The Lido deck food was ok, but not great, although it was plentiful. I really wish they would let go of the need to introduce so many international foods, because I don't think Carnival's chefs have mastered some cuisines. However, I didn't get sick, and nothing grossed me out, so I can say the food wasn't bad.
I'm not big on shows, but I did go to the guests' talent show and found the theater to be very nice and comfortable. The seating upstairs was actually better than any I've seen on other ships. The band in ChinaTown nightclub, BlackJack, was fantastic! After a couple of nights of agony in the disco with nasty-dancing youngsters, we found ChinaTown and went there every night. The band plays rock and country, which aren't our favorites, but they were an excellent band, great entertainers. We enjoyed them almost as much as we enjoyed Rasa, the best bartender in the world!!!! And I mean that sincerely...you must see Rasa in ChinaTown for a REAL drink. Oh, and Karaoke was hilarious!
Please, please, please, visit Jerel in the Atrium on the Empress deck or in the Neon Bar at tea time. He plays the piano and is quite likely the most attractive man on the ship. I think I might go back just to see him again. ;-)
I used the gym once, and it was well equipped, although they might have been benefited from a couple more bikes or treadmills. I didn't use the spa, but went through it to get to the gym, and it seemed nice. I've gotten spa treatments on cruises before and have finally decided to leave it to the land-based professionals who have no need to hustle products.
Cozumel is always the same....overpriced shopping and aggressive salespeople, drinks-a-plenty, and beautiful water. Progresso was about the worst port I've ever visited. Where the ship docks looks like a desert, and miles past that area, it doesn't look much better. There is a beach right downtown that looked ok, but frankly, the locals made me nervous. We did visit some ruins about 30 minutes away, but because it was uncomfortably hot, we weren't able to tour some of it. We'll have to plan better if we ever go back.
I would take this cruise again, and just stay onboard for Progresso, and get a drink at Carlos and Charlie's in Cozumel. It would be worth it.