6 Carnival Ecstasy Cruise Reviews for Senior Cruises to Caribbean - Western

We arrived 2 days early to spend some time in Galveston before our cruise on Monday. We left our car at the Holiday Inn Resort on the Seawall. **Big mistake.** (More about that later.) My husband and I have made this exact same cruise on ... Read More
We arrived 2 days early to spend some time in Galveston before our cruise on Monday. We left our car at the Holiday Inn Resort on the Seawall. **Big mistake.** (More about that later.) My husband and I have made this exact same cruise on the exact same date on the same ship (in the same room even!) for the last 3 years and everything had always worked out perfectly. This was my 8th cruise out of Galveston. Out of 11 cruises, I have NEVER had a bad one. But the last day of this one turned it into a day of "debarkation H E L L". The Embarkation was a breeze and we were on the ship in a matter of 30 minutes. My brother-in-law had recently come out of a cast and was unsteady so they provided us with a wheelchair and someone to push him onboard. Which we were very happy about because we worried about getting him up the ramps and onto the ship. Carnival went out of their way to assist us. My sister and I had over packed with 3 garment bags, 4 large pull pieces of luggage and several carry ons. Our objective on this cruise was to get a big variety of formal pictures with our husbands because they are typical men and have to be "helped" into getting their pictures made at home. My sister and I decided that we would get enough "good" pictures to hand out to our kids and grandkids that dragging our husbands to a photography studio sitting would be unnecessary for at least 10 years! We spent more on pictures than our cruise cost, just to give you an idea of what I am talking about. This part of our plan worked perfectly. Ecstacy is a grand ol' lady and we enjoy sailing her. I have been on her 5 times, my husband cruising with me 3 of those. She is smaller and easier to find your way around on her. The rooms are adequate and usually our room stewards are magnificent. This trip there was sort of a pallor or an odd "out of place feeling" that something just wasn't right about the crew/staff attitude. Some (but not all) just didn't seem happy. To me, that was unusual and different from previous cruises. Our room steward was nothing to brag about. Oh, she did keep the room clean and put a towel animal on the bad at night but other than that, she lacked something that I cannot put my finger on. I asked for a hairdryer and she acted like it put her out to bring me one. She never restocked our water (we drink a big water everyday) and we had to order it from room service. Maybe that's a new policy? At any rate, we didn't complain, we just didn't ask her for anything she wasn't willing to provide to us. My sister drank the Cokes in her room and those were not restocked either. Just weird from our previous experiences, I guess. Calling room service was ok and that is what we did, but we also tipped when they brought our order just like we tipped when they delivered our coffee in the morning. There were other odd things that were different. Nothing big, but just little things that made us wonder if Carnival's attitude had changed toward it's customers or was it just "our" steward. Later her bad attitude was not disguised at all and she was unapologetic for it. Our cruise was wonderful. Progresso is a highlight for us. We enjoy seeing it change each year. We took the same tour as the past three years, to see the horse show and all our "old friends" there even though we really didn't know any of them personally, we felt as though we did. At Cozumel we did Mr. Sanchos and spent the day on the beach with a nice long massage and a wonderful lunch. The water was spectacular as always and pretty chilly when you first get in but warms up quickly or at least we did! The waiter there could teach our room steward a thing or two. The return trip was smooth and uneventful. It seemed as though there were not as many shows as there was last year but all in all, it was a good trip until we reached Galveston where the port was closed due to fog. I realize that weather is beyond Carnival's ability to control. I have been on the sea running from a hurricane in 25 foot swells before. I have seen (but never had to use) the barf bags in the lobbies. I know that cruising is dependent on mother nature. The closed port and the dense fog were not Carnival's fault. They are guiltless over missed flights and disrupted plans both for those debarking and those embarking. But they are TOTALLY and COMPLETELY at fault for the decisions they made to get us into port and debark us at a heavy equipment loading dock to be bussed back to the terminal. I have never seen such incompetent, disorganized, unprofessional debarkation. To announce that 2500 people must carry off their own luggage, stand in what was nothing short of bedlam to fight and push and shove to get on a bus to be bussed to the terminal was beyond what can be described here. I am not talking "inconvenient". I am talking dangerous. We had people being trampled and ambulances were sent to assist. I saw a man in a wheelchair trying to maneuver thru the crowd and his back wheels ran over a man's feet and the man almost dumped the wheel chair over trying to get it off his foot. People were rude, mean and tired. Carnival had one young guy out there running all over the place but he was totally out of his depth with crowd control and organization. As I told you before, my sister and I over packed. My husband is a heart patient on meds and her husband was unsteady and needed wheelchair assistance which he didn't get even though the purser said one would be provided. We were told that our room steward would help us with our luggage. But she said she couldn't help and there was no one who could help us until we went back to the purser and our room steward had to be "ordered" to assist us as far as the gangway. After that, we were on our own as were 2500 other people. There were some porters to help get the luggage on the buses and we managed to tip one of them heavily to help us maneuver in the line with all our luggage. They had no carts so it was very difficult to move it. We stood in that for about 2 hours before finally getting a bus. But that wasn't the end of it. The buses did not pull up in front of the terminal. They used the bus parking and the bus driver said it was not his job to unload our luggage. We managed to drag it all out there and somehow got it to the front of the bus where we found a porter with a cart, again over tipping heavily for assistance to get us from the bus parking over to the terminal. He unloaded us on the curb at 2:30 and that is where we sat until 6:10 that afternoon. The 3500 people from the Conquest and the 2500 people from the Ecstasy were on that curb at the terminal at the same time, along with another 3500 from the other ship that came in with us. And just the same number of people trying to get into the terminal. I have never seen anything like it. I know that Carnival was trying to cut it's losses by turning those ships around quickly. But I also know that their FIRST obligation was to the customers they already had, "us". They stagger the port days of ships for a reason. We were stuck with no way to leave the port. The shuttle buses were all full, as were the taxis. We waited and waited for the Holiday Inn/San Luis Shuttle. When it finally showed up it had a limited number of seats available and thousands of people wanting to board it. That one time was the only time it came by the entire time we waited on the curb. My sister finally asked a stranger that had walked to get his car and came back to pick up his wife and luggage for a ride to the hotel where we had left our car. How dangerous and desperate was that? There were 10,000 people trying to get transportation away from that port on that day. THAT was Carnival's fault. Those on Ecstasy were treated as "second class" citizens when they allowed the Conquest to use our terminal and stuck us out in some unloading dock. No debarkation assistance whatsoever and no care for anyone's safety or well being. Those are just some of the charges resting squarely on Carnival that day. The moral of this story, if there is one, NEVER park farther away from the port than you can walk to, or have the phone number of someone to call to pick you up other than a commercial operation. NEVER carry more luggage than you are able to physically manage by yourself even if you don't intend to carry it yourself. AND don't become spoiled by the excellent, above expectations service at the time of starting your trip and expect the same quality of service after your cruise is over. Read Less
Sail Date February 2011
I live thirty minutes from Galveston so it was a simple matter to drive over on the morning of the 3rd. I was traveling with three friends and we arrived around 11AM. We always park at the EZ Cruise parking. By making reservations on-line ... Read More
I live thirty minutes from Galveston so it was a simple matter to drive over on the morning of the 3rd. I was traveling with three friends and we arrived around 11AM. We always park at the EZ Cruise parking. By making reservations on-line you can park for $35 for a five day cruise. The people at the parking lot are very helpful and we were taken without delay to the port. After checking our bags at the curb I was expecting to have a long wait in line to go through the security area and board the ship. On the two previous Ecstasy cruises embarkation was a long and tiring experience. It seems that the Port of Galveston must be listening to the complaints from cruise critic members because this time embarkation was handled very efficiently and in less than thirty minutes we were boarding the ship. CABIN: Our cabins were not ready so we went to the Lido deck for lunch. We were met with another pleasant surprise, the Mongolian Buffet. I have always thought that the Ecstasy had the best hamburgers but with the Mongolian Buffet they are now second place. Within an hour the cabins were ready and we went below to stow our baggage. The cabins haven't really changed and are still at best utilitarian. There is not really any place to comfortably sit except on the bed. The cabins are small but do have adequate closet and drawer space. The cabin attendant was very good and kept the ice bucket filled, plenty of clean towels, and the room in neat order at all times. DINING: I was in need of gaining a few pounds and found doing so to be very easy. The food in the buffet was edible but nothing spectacular. The main dining room was a very pleasant experience. The waiter was very good despite having a lot of tables. Each night the menu had entrees that were tasty and nicely presented. Two of our table mates ordered a complete Indian Dinner and were kind enough to share it. It was very good and I was impressed that Carnival was willing to prepare this as an off-menu item. Since I wasn't overly impressed with the buffet the grill on the Lido deck became my venue of choice for lunch. The Ecstasy still has the best hamburgers of any of the ships I sailed. They cook them on the grill as you wait and serve them hot. All in all I think the Ecstasy holds its own with other ships when it comes to food. OTHER: One of the nicest things that have been added to the Ecstasy in its last retrofit was the Serenity Deck. It isn't in the most convenient place but worth the effort to reach. The young lady who was the attendant was extremely nice and did an excellent job of enforcing the adults only rule. There were nice lounge chairs, two hot tubs, and an area that was shaded. The serenity deck became my favorite place to relax, read, and nap. Being just below the pizza preparation area, the nice aroma drifting down around noon always let you know it was getting close to noon. I also enjoyed the 3PM Tea Time on sea days, the pastries were delicious and the waiters were very attentive. ENTERTAINMENT: The shows in the main show room were nothing special. It may be because I had seen them before but after several years I did think that some changes would have been made. The show band was good but most of the singers and dancers were what one would expect at a high school musical production. DEBARKATION: Another pleasant surprise. In the past self-assist was a nightmare with a mad dash being made by passengers creating long waits. Carnival seems to have gotten a handle on this situation because this time when your deck was called the process was efficient and you got off the ship in a short time. Also clearing customs has also been made much more efficient. In less than thirty minutes from the time our deck was called we were at the curb and on our way to the parking lot. I hope this was not a one time event and that in the future embarkation and debarkation continues to be handled efficiently. CONCLUSION: Carnival is still the "party" group but for a quick get-away the four and five day cruises out of Galveston are a bargain as long as you don't drink too much. I took my first cruise on the Ecstasy some years ago and will always remember just how great I thought she was. In truth, the Ecstasy isn't nor never will be a ship with a lot of "wow" but she offers her travelers a cruise that is worth the money. Read Less
Sail Date January 2011
My wife and I have been on 6 previous cruises (5 Carnival, 1 Royal Caribbean), but an 11 year hiatus finally ended with this trip to Key West/Cozumel. We took our 10 yr old granddaughter, her first, but now its the only way she wants to ... Read More
My wife and I have been on 6 previous cruises (5 Carnival, 1 Royal Caribbean), but an 11 year hiatus finally ended with this trip to Key West/Cozumel. We took our 10 yr old granddaughter, her first, but now its the only way she wants to travel. Best investment=Faster to the Fun. We registered at 10:40AM and were on board with luggage at our room (ready) at 11:25, first beverages by the pool at 11:45. Well worth the $50. Walking to the kids slide area, our granddaughter stopped dead in her tracks, started running and screaming..literally, another girl from her class at school was on board! She had no idea. My wife said, "Well, we'll be by the pool and see you Friday morning". Made the trip even better. Carnival still does it right. Great staff, clean cabin and public spaces, but the food at the buffet was between good/average. Biggest problem was that nothing seemed hot, just barely warm, regardless if you were there when they opened or not. Only 1 dinner in the main dining room and it was very good. Attempted to sign our granddaughter for some kids programs but never got passed the staff member in charge that day. He must have been their only choice, as he was simply rude and you could tell he did not want this assignment. We just said maybe later and left. Great Motown show and surprised at our luck at the slots, nearly $300 in our favor. Key West was nice, but the newer shops (to us) at the dock were very pricey. Walk another couple blocks to Duval St for the established stores and much better prices. Cozumel was rainy, but we managed to walk a few blocks away from the dock shops, again, those places were very pricey and similar merchandise for 1/2 the price out on the street shops. All in all it was a great trip and we will not hesitate to use Carnival, or this ship, again in the future. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
Cruising from Galveston for us is the easiest and best way to cruise. No airfare! We live in the Dallas area and drove to Galveston on Sunday before the cruise and stayed at the Tremont Hotel near the Strand. It was fantastic as it was ... Read More
Cruising from Galveston for us is the easiest and best way to cruise. No airfare! We live in the Dallas area and drove to Galveston on Sunday before the cruise and stayed at the Tremont Hotel near the Strand. It was fantastic as it was Mardi Gras and we had a great time roaming the streets. Our hotel was booked through an Internet agency so we had prepaid it. Upon checking in, we told the front desk we were cruising to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary and the hotel sent chocolate covered strawberries and champagne to our room as a surprise! The hotel also offers free cruise parking at their sister hotel, the Galvez so we were able to park there and the Tremont took us to the pier the next morning for embarkation. We arrived in style in their town car! Of course, this is February and the weather can be unpredictable, but we NEVER allow this to impair our vacation. Embarkation was quite easy and we were on the ship by noon, dining in the Panorama Grill on the Lido deck. The food was awesome and this was just the beginning of a five day culinary feast! The staterooms were ready by about 1:30 and we took our carry-ons and our other luggage appeared quickly after that. We booked an inside and had the beds in the twin configuration so it gave us more room to walk about the cabin. We unpacked and then went about to roam the ship. The Ecstasy is glamorous and full of life! Music can be heard from every bar area. Our chosen dining time was the any time dining and we ate every night at the same table #111 with Alvin, the best waiter on board this ship. The food each night was unbelievable and the choices were just fantastic, in fact, of all the cruises we have been on, this food topped the list! Go Carnival! On the night of our 25th anniversary, we had champagne, a cake and singing waitstaff. Each evening we were entertained by our waiters and Jamal the maitre d' was great with introductions of what was happening next. During the day, there was trivia, bingo, port talks, the casino, the library, bars and a plethora of things to see and do. We were never bored! My husband did the "behind the scenes" tour to see what the crew actually does and got to visit the engine room. He said it was the best thing he had done in many cruises. This is offered to a limited number of passengers for a fee of $55. Time just flew by and before we knew it, it was time to say goodbye. We chose the self assist and really had no problems as we were off the ship and at our car by 10:00 and back driving north on I-45. Would we book this one again........you bet! Read Less
Sail Date February 2010
OK, I admit it -- my wife and I cruise because we love to eat. We have sailed on over 15 cruises, including 3 prior cruises on the Ecstasy. In the past the food has mostly been good with some being great, and occasionally being poor. This ... Read More
OK, I admit it -- my wife and I cruise because we love to eat. We have sailed on over 15 cruises, including 3 prior cruises on the Ecstasy. In the past the food has mostly been good with some being great, and occasionally being poor. This time the food was mostly poor. I'll start with breakfast and lunch, and then I'll do a day-by-day breakdown of dinner. Note that this was a 5 day cruise, leaving on Monday and returning on Saturday. Breakfast: As with most cruises, breakfast is the same each day. On this cruise, the bacon tasted "old" and not very flavorful. The eggs benedict was overcooked; I prefer runny yokes. My wife had a omelet and asked for salsa, and instead was given pico-de-gallo -- not the same thing at all. The orange juice was watered down. Overall breakfast was poor. Lunch: Very poor. The Lido buffet had several choices, but few were really good. The tomato soup was excellent -- thick, and flavorful. Other soups often had way too much onion. Entrees were usually dry, presumably from being set out too long. Entrees were not very hot, so I don't think they were drying because of heat lamps. And the entrees often had little to no taste -- even the jerk chicken. Note that on Carnival, the lido buffet lunch has different selections on the port and starboard sides (unlike RCCL which usually has the same selections both sides), so check out both sides before you make your selections. The pizza was OK, but drier than in the past (read that as "needed more sauce"). The made-to-order sandwiches were good -- don't miss this at the back of the Lido deck. Out by the pool, there was a hamburger grill (they will also grill chicken); this was OK. So were hot dogs. The french fries were OK if you got them hot from the frier, but the ones that have sat a while were tough and dry. I did not try the Mongolian grill also by the pool area (new to this ship). We ate in the main dining room for lunch on Friday. The wife had fish which was terrible. I had the ribs which were OK but room temperature. Now...On to the main dining room dinners. I'll break this down by days. Monday: I had a steak which was really quite good -- cooked medium just like way I ordered and quite juicy and tender. I don't remember what the wife had. The odd thing is that the side dishes now are all the same regardless of what you order; I don't remember that in on past Carnival cruises. So I was served mac-n-cheese with my steak, and not a potato. Shrimp cocktail was good, and you can have this every night. Soup must not have been memorable, because I can't remember what I had. Tuesday: This is meal most people look forward too -- Lobster and Prime Rib. And both were quite good. I had two lobsters and one prime rib (medium rare). However, the "au jus" was really a brown gravy -- good, but not really "au jus". Now, I always love the "West Indian Roasted Pumpkin Soup". But not this time. It was watery and not creamy or thick like in the past. I was very disappointed. Wednesday: I was not very hungry. I tried the chicken fettucini. The chicken was dry, and the fettucini was too pasty and not enough sauce. My wife tried the Mahi Mahi (available every night) and it was BAD -- very fishy and dry and tough. She could have ordered something else, but chose not to. Thursday: We both tried the chateaubriand -- mine medium rare and hers medium. It looked like it was cooked as we ordered, but both were dry. The only way I think this can happen is if it is under a heat lamp for a long time. But the worst of the meal was the lobster bisque soup. It was horrible. It smelled very fishy when served. We each took one small taste and pushed it away. Very disappointing. I wonder if anyone ate the lobster bisque that night. Why would any chef prepare something so horribly tasting? Friday: I had the beef short ribs. It was like an overcooked pot roast. My wife had the veal parmesan and said it was very good. The French onion soup was very good too. Well, on to other stuff. Music: The music was so-so. The ship's band was down to 5 pieces (keyboard, bass, guitar, drum, sax), and none of the musicians were great. They also had a female singer who was OK, but off-key on some songs. Other musicians were not very good. The best was probably Loraine in the piano bar, but it so smokey in there that we had too leave. No classical music at all this time. The covers on the real pianos in the atrium and also by the Rolls Royce were never removed to my knowledge. I love live music, so this was a real disappointment. Shows: The shows were pretty good. However, most of the singing-and-dancing shows use pre-recorded sound, so of course it sounds good. The main singers sing live. The dancing was good to excellent sometimes. The two comedians were funny. The talent show Wednesday night was fun as usual. The best entertainer is Steve Cassell, our cruise director. He play the violin/fiddle and also juggles. Steve is one of the best cruise directors I've had. My wife has multiple sclerosis, so we did not get off the ship and I cannot review the ports. The cabin was fine. We had an inside cabin, and usually do. We had some things that needed fixing, and these were fixed immediately. The shower always had plenty of hot water. On all of my past cruises, the ship's tap water was fine. This time the tap water had way too much chlorine, making it almost impossible to drink. I'm glad we brought a gallon of drinking water. Tip: Stop somewhere and get a gallon or two of drinking water. You'll need it if they don't change the water on this ship. Would I go on the Ecstasy again? Probably. For the money, it is OK. Just don't expect too much. Also, I have heard that food quality on all cruise lines seems to be declining. That is too bad. Does it really cost that much more money to fix a tasty hot meal rather than a bland dry room temperature meal? Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
Boat was late getting into port, because it was closed due to the very thick fog.. Dropped off bags around 11am then went to eat at the Spot on the seawall. The price was pretty hefty for a hot dog, hamburger, sides, & beer. $40. It ... Read More
Boat was late getting into port, because it was closed due to the very thick fog.. Dropped off bags around 11am then went to eat at the Spot on the seawall. The price was pretty hefty for a hot dog, hamburger, sides, & beer. $40. It started raining pretty good, & it rained most of the night before. We drove around the island to see if ship was there. It docked around noon. We had to wait until everyone started to get off the ship. They said to come back after 2pm. We went to park at the Galveston Park n cruise at 2:30p. Had reserved a spot for $30, but there wasn't any spots open yet, but for $5 more, we could upgrade to a covered or inside place, whichever came open. An inside place came open, so we took it. It was pouring rain & we had to walk about 1 1/2 blocks, then cross the street. Took 1 1/2hrs from start to finish before we got on the boat. They circulated a letter saying they would credit our account $15/each because of missing lunch. I thought that was really nice of Carnival. By the time we got on, all the rooms were ready, so we went right to the room. Ship didn't leave until 6:30pm in the rain. Ship is beautiful, loved the renovations. Second time I've been on it, so i remembered where most of the places were. Thought slots were tighter, & didn't play much bingo(did not win). At Progresso, took Uxmal excursion thru ship. Was really excellent. Impressive. Our 4th mayan ruin. Love them all. Got back to pier with only 45 minutes left to shop, so didn't buy anything there. It was 90 degrees, very hot out, but this place has alot of shade. Next day at Cozumel, just shopped for trinkets. Trip across Gulf was a little rocky, many people were missing from supper. Saw a kid throw-up around the pool. This is the first time we have gone when the ship was decorated for Christmas. It was beautiful. I really enjoyed it. Our room steward Jose was great, he gave us ice, & cleaned the room several times. Our dining room server Renauldo was great also-he knew what we liked to eat & drink. Had late dining, which i thought i wouldn't like, but we had ice cream around 3pm everyday to make it to the 8:15pm dining. Overall, it was a really nice cruise. Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
Carnival Ecstasy Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.0
Dining 3.5 3.7
Entertainment 4.0 3.7
Public Rooms 4.0 3.9
Fitness Recreation 3.5 3.7
Family 3.5 3.7
Shore Excursion 4.5 3.7
Enrichment 2.5 3.3
Service 4.5 4.1
Value For Money 5.0 3.8
Rates N/A 4.3

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