A group of 4 other ladies and I sailed to Cozumel and Calica Jan. 15, 2005, on Carnival's Ecstasy. We kept trying to remember the main reason was to NOT be doing cleaning, laundry, cooking, etc., and for that alone, the cruise was a success. Carnival could improve on a few EASY things and make our cruise a fantastic one instead of "okay." This was my 5th cruise, 2nd on Carnival.
Sailing in Jan., it was chilly outside when windy (most of the time) and they only had 1 working HOT tub on the ship. Someone would "call somebody" every time we reported another not hot, but none ever were fixed.
The food (8:00 seating) was adequate, but never hot, and the beef never tender. If we tried it, we would almost always ask for a different entree (which they're more than willing to bring you.) However, we highly recommend the butter pecan ice cream. It became a table favorite. However, there's a pizzeria/fresh sandwich deli at the back of the buffet dining room that is great!
Our cabin (M162) was extremely noisy. We never decided if we were by laundry facilities for the ship or an internal elevator or what, but things rolled and bumped most of the time.
Carnival would make most of their passengers happy (I think) if they'd do away with smoking on the interior of the ship. We couldn't even go into some of the lounges -- nor even see inside them due to the concentration of cigarette smoke. Nasty!
We didn't book any excursions through Carnival, but instead took a taxi to Paradise Beach in Cozumel. Lovely site. The chairs and umbrellas currently are free to use, but they (of course) want you to buy their food and drink. Nice, room, clean restrooms there, too. For $5 more you can use their water toys, etc. We took a taxi from Calica to Plaza del Carmen, and then just walked down the beach (left, away from the pier in town) until we found a hotel with beach in front instead of rocks, with chairs out that would let us use 'em in exchange for buying beer/drinks there. It was cool when the sun went behind a cloud, but extremely relaxing. "Mexican Salad" there was AWESOME.
Leaving the Ecstasy was a nightmare. They offer "self assist" so if you're wanting to leave early and take your own baggage, you (supposedly) can get off before the others. The problem is that there's no way to verify that those in line are all self-assist and, after getting up to be in line at 6:50 a.m., we were still in line over an hour and 1/2 later. I think 2/3 of the ship lined up with us, and 2/3 of the ship did NOT do "self assist." They moved us (wrongly) in line and when one of our ladies tried to talk to the personnel about it, they were just RUDE. My friend even went back and tried again, asking directly at one point for an apology and the employee REFUSED. That'll be the last time my friend will EVER sail Carnival. The crew in general wasn't friendly, although our room steward, John, was super! I think automatically including gratuities is hurting their level of service on the ship, and ultimately, when word gets around, it'll hurt 'em.
They tended to stack entertainment on the last day, instead of spreading it out. For example, there was a dance troupe there that was performing opposite the galley tour. WHY? There were MANY time slots the girls could've been given so they could've performed to a full house. This was Carnival's scheduling...
Things Carnival got right: were roomy cabins, good beds, the extra food lines (hamburger/hot dog, pizza, deli sandwiches, soft serve yogurt and ice cream), beach towels provided for pool side or beach use; good bath towels; John's towel animals; the dancers did a great job but only performed a couple of times; the cruise director can sing and play acoustic guitar and has a partner with whom he performs and we enjoyed them a LOT. If you go, as for "Hotel California" -- they did a super job with it!