6 Charleston to Caribbean - All Carnival Ecstasy Cruise Reviews

We planned this cruise for a fall break. Little did we know that "Matthew" had other plans! Kudos to Carnival for getting the ship out and to a different port. Original ports were Nassau, private island and Freeport. ... Read More
We planned this cruise for a fall break. Little did we know that "Matthew" had other plans! Kudos to Carnival for getting the ship out and to a different port. Original ports were Nassau, private island and Freeport. Cozumel was chosen instead. Turns out, it was great. I did scuba in Cozumel with Sand Dollar. The dives were incredible, and the prices was very reasonable. The crew did an incredible job with the diversion and very great attitudes with two extra days at sea as we had to wait for Charleston to open for two days before we could port. This is NOT a mega cruise ship. We prefer this size as things are closer to where you are (less walking) and the crowds are not "mega." The port is close to our home and the prices are always great. Our biggest concern with Carnival several years ago was the food. That has significantly improved. We have also done the "Chefs Table" for the last couple of cruises, and the chef, his staff and the food was fantastic! A real experience! Casino is small but staff is friendly. In face, Carnival has trained its folks to remember your name after they meet you. If you're looking for glitz and glamour, this ain't it. but if you want a "fun" cruise that is a good value this is it! Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
I booked this cruise for me and my lady friend through Travels and Tours aboard MCAS, Cherry Point, NC. Given that it was not known to us until we boarded the ship the destination had been changed from Bahamas to Cozumel, Mexicio due to ... Read More
I booked this cruise for me and my lady friend through Travels and Tours aboard MCAS, Cherry Point, NC. Given that it was not known to us until we boarded the ship the destination had been changed from Bahamas to Cozumel, Mexicio due to Hurricane Matthew, I probably would have cancelled and rebooked for later date. But like all other passengers and crew we made the best of a bad time. The transit to Cozumel was good and uneventful except for the fine facilities on board the ship the fact that the Cruise Director, Benjamin, worked around the clock to keep us entertained. And entertain us he did. He, himself, is a multi-talented individual and the onboard Fun Squad went out of their way to ensure we were entertained. The fact they flew an entertainer in to board for transit back to Charleston showed commitment to "keeping the customers happy". The Food Service Division was superb as was the Housekeeping Division. Mr. Mirza, Miss Puspa, and Mr.Joko of the Waitstaff were a joy to watch as the worked in unison to ensure hot food was served hot, cold food served cold and glasses were never empty be it wine, soda or water. Mr. Wayan, ou Steward, was polite and cheerful, went out of his way to ensure for our comfort and well being and, for sure, made sure we had clean linen and towels all the time. If you want a negative about the cruise then you got one coming. With a Hurricane keeping us from out destination and more importantly our return port, why was not there and television from Charleston beamed aboard our ship. I like all the other embarked passengers (and crew) wanted to know what was happening in Charleston and in particular motor vehicles. Miami, Miami, MIami is all we got. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
Best cruise ever! My husband and I (yup! just us this time - all kids in college - no break for them in October) were on the ill-fated Ecstasy out of Charleston and into the whirlwind of Matthew. Carnival had to make some changes. First ... Read More
Best cruise ever! My husband and I (yup! just us this time - all kids in college - no break for them in October) were on the ill-fated Ecstasy out of Charleston and into the whirlwind of Matthew. Carnival had to make some changes. First change - Saturday night, prior to Sunday sailing, Carnival sent an email that our Bahamas cruise (Half Moon Cay, Nassau, Freeport) would be a trip to Cozumel. Yes, I was a little disappointed not to be going to the Bahamas as this was to be our first time, but that bit of disappointment was way overshadowed by my absolute glee at extra sea days. I just love sea days. I cruise to relax and what better way to relax than to find a spot on a big ship to be waited on by most gracious crew. Not only that, but Carnival offered $50 credit per person and 25% off the next cruise as compensation for the change, not to mention a refund of port fees. Hah! I should be compensating Carnival for the extra sea days. AND the email said they'd be sailing an hour early, which pushed embarkation up an hour. Woo-hoo! Extra sea days AND an hour tacked onto my cruise. So we drove down to Charleston and got a very good rate for the night at the Days Inn right at the end of the bridge in Mt. Pleasant and left our car there for free and ubered to the port on Sunday morning. We had the earliest staggered embarkation time and there was some confusion because of the hour early business, but once things started rolling embarkation was a breeze. Enjoyed the boat so much. Every morning I walked a few miles on the jogging track. Every morning saw the same fellow passengers; we developed a bit of a cameraderie as the week went on. Since it takes 11 laps to complete a mile, you'd think it would get pretty tedious walking around and around, but not at all. As you're moving through the ocean the sky changes constantly, the water color changes, you see the occasional bird. The best is the clouds and sun playing peek-a-boo first thing in the morning, And I saw too many rainbows to count, at least one that arched all the way across the sky. Morning exercise followed by a shower and breakfast with hubby. We enjoyed both the sea day brunch and the lido breakfast. I have no complaints about the food. My husband is from India and so he drinks his tea in a particular way, with a lot of hot milk and sugar and a little seasoning. When he couldn't get it in the dining room I reminded him that the chefs are Indian and he could probably get his special tea if he requested it. Sure enough, all he had to do was ask ahead of time and they had it for him every morning. Lunch was usually on the lido deck. I tried the wok, a turkey sandwich from the deli, a veggie burger from the poolside grill. All good, as was the salad bar. We always ate dinner in the dining room. We had anytime dining and the service was good. We especially enjoyed a waiter named Milos. I think the best menu items were the soups. We had excellent mushroom soup, butternut squash soup, chicken noodle soup. We also managed a few snacks during the day. Pizza really hit the spot as did the chips and salsa from the sea side grill. Every night late, like 11:30 - midnight, they had snacks at the lido buffet, like sandwiches and cookies, so every night I had a bedtime snack of cookies and frozen yogurt. And seriously, everything was good. I don't think I've ever had such good cookies on a cruise. I was glad to have extra sea days so I could do all the things I wanted to do. My husband and I spent a lot of time on the serenity deck, lido deck and the seating above the serenity deck. We read, chatted with other passengers, napped, soaked in the serenity hot tubs. We watched the sun set. We saw dolphins off the serenity deck! After dinner and before the shows we strolled around the decks and were awestruck by the stars! We enjoyed the evening entertainment, jugglers, the production shows, comedians. We went to the welcome aboard show on the first night and the CD Benjamin did a great job by leading a tour of all the late night venues on the promenade deck, I had pretty good luck in the casino. The casino host on the Ecstasy is very active, having a lot of drawings and activities. Earlier in the day when the lido pool wasn't too crowded I actually was able to take a few swims. My husband tried his luck and skill at all the corn hole competitions. There were hula hoop and hole in one contests as well. I did a little line dancing during sail away and other deck parties. See why I need lots of sea days? There's just so much to do. And I'm sure I've forgotten something. In Cozumel we got off the boat at a leisurely time and walked around a bit; actually we took a long walk and it was very hot, so it was quite a happy thing to be back on the ship where we knew we'd be comfortable and well-fed. The second change! The captain announced that we'd be staying over-night in Cozumel (still trying to keep away from Matthew) and that would mean adding an extra day to the cruise! Yippee!! The second day in Cozumel we went snorkeling at Sky Reef. It was ok snorkeling but good because they had a little pier so you could get right into the water without dealing with rocks. We found another couple to split the cabfare with us so it only cost $15 round trip and there's a nice little beach there. So another sea day and the bonus sea day - ahh- I'm just loving this relaxation. AND then the third change. Matthew blew into Charleston and the port is closed so we have to have one more sea day!!! Our 6 day cruise turned into an 8 day cruise and the transition was seamless. The restaurant crew, the bar staff, the cabin stewards, the entertainment people, carried on their jobs as if they knew all along that this was an 8 day cruise. No one missed a beat and I loved every minute of it. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
My husband and I sailed Carnival Fantasy last year and had a wonderful time. We chose to depart from Charleston as it is only about 4 hours away. When we got to the dock, we had to wait for almost an hour until we could get our car into ... Read More
My husband and I sailed Carnival Fantasy last year and had a wonderful time. We chose to depart from Charleston as it is only about 4 hours away. When we got to the dock, we had to wait for almost an hour until we could get our car into the parking area. Then we waited another 20 minutes for a shuttle to take us to the ship's check in. We learned that there was a 45 minute delay because there were three weddings. I don't know why that would hold us up from getting on board. After we got inside, we were in line for another half hour to go through the final steps of getting our boarding passes. The staff was wonderful and could not have been better. The food choices on the other hand were not so great. We were squished together at a table set up for 11 people and the waiters had to squeeze behind us to get to the table next to ours. The ships entertainment was the same two shows that we saw last year and the performers were not of the same caliber as last year's. The lead female singer screeched through her version of "I'm stepping out" and the male singers were just average. There didn't seem to be as much to do on this trip as there was on our last cruise. I did not like the fact that we had to walk through the smoking areas to get to our dining room. I don't smoke and I don't like to smell like it. Everything about the cruise seemed to be out of sync. Shows and events did not start on time. All in all I was disappointed that we did not have the same great experience that we had last year. Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
Went with large group, first and last trip on Carnival. Entertainment subpar and hoe-hum. Comedians NOT funny and sometimes inappropriate. Dance and singing shows not great. Food was just OK. They have no specialty ... Read More
Went with large group, first and last trip on Carnival. Entertainment subpar and hoe-hum. Comedians NOT funny and sometimes inappropriate. Dance and singing shows not great. Food was just OK. They have no specialty restaurants, period. You have to walk thru a stinking smoke filled unhealthy tobacco factory (casino) to get to your assigned eating. Why oh Why do they allow people to smoke on a boat? Blaring disc jockey everywhere, hard to find place to be quiet. On loading took hours and was like pulling teeth without anesthesia. Too many people, and elevators took forever. Merchandising/marketing CONSTANT. Really really gets old. They take pictures all day long, they put up the pix on the wall enticing you to buy. Many people fell for this expensive unnecessary trick. Excursions were overpriced. Felt a shaking and vibration much of the evening hours while in cabin. Motor ? Very irritating. Was on the boat 7 days....way too long. Three days is plenty. I cannot recommend Carnival to anyone. Pay more, get much more. They seemed like they were trying to invent stuff to do on the boat, silly question and answer contests with a silly prissy male. Every 10 minutes some guiy got on the intercom to tell us stuff, speaker just outside out door......wanted to strangle him Good things: Carry off your luggage, got off in 20 min Room service was pretty good each morning breakfast. I did like the gym, but had a hard time with all the motion of the sea which was aggravating. Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
Arrived in Charleston and was advised by security to drop off our luggage and come back out of the port to park for an hour. Upon re-entry we were told because we had Faster to the fun, we had priority boarding and should proceed to lane ... Read More
Arrived in Charleston and was advised by security to drop off our luggage and come back out of the port to park for an hour. Upon re-entry we were told because we had Faster to the fun, we had priority boarding and should proceed to lane 1. We paid $119 for parking for the week. We sat for about an hour in line after paying. The people in charge then released all of lane 1 - priority boarders to park. That was pretty cool! We parked in the garage, walked to the bus, wait for about 10 minutes before boarding and being taken to the port. Once entering the port, we told the person at the door we had priority boarding and they sent us to a check-in with 1 person in line. We went straight to our cabin M2 and dropped of our backpack and went straight to lunch. [CON] The bathroom floor was squishy with an odd smell. The floor was covered with the same blue covering that was in the shower. It was odd. [PRO] Our cabin was clean. I pulled back the sheets and checked the mattress for bedbugs and clean sheets. All appeared acceptable. We walked straight to lunch. Of course Italian was the theme, always is on embarkation day. [CON] Disappointing there was nothing new. Old ship, old menu. The pasta was rigatoni noodles and they were not fully cooked and difficult to eat. Salad bar was hum drum. Plain iceburg lettuce. Was hopeful for mixed greens or a spinach option as I cannot eat lettuce. They removed the larger cups and replaced them with a very small cup that required frequent refills throughout the meal. [PRO] The sauce on the rigatoni noodles was really tasty. The grilled chicken was out of the world and a bowl of veggies with no lettuce was just fine for me. I went to the gift shop and bought a giant cup and held 3 of the cups from the lido buffet, no need to continue refilling! The was our first cruise on the Ecstasy. We walked around the ship. She was almost identical to the Fantasy, which we really enjoyed. I preferred the decoration on the Ecstasy better than the Fantasy. [CON] We proceeded to walk down the Promenade deck and could not. Walking past Pixels, toward the Casino, was a SMOKE CLOUD and horrible smell. There was a wedding reception in one of the clubs and the wedding party clearly had a lot of smokers. This was EXTREMELY frustrating. Because most pictures on Elegant night are on the Promenade, we could not visit many of the scenes. I love the candy shop; we coud not go because I couldn't hold my breath long enough to get there. I wanted to visit the $10 store, coffee shop, shopping desk, Comedy Shows, dance clubs, the cool rolls royce/vintage motorcycle and rebooking desk and couldn't because of the smoke. I understand there are smokers that need a place to smoke. But to allow smoking on the hallway where many activities take place is ridiculous. [PRO] The weather was beautiful most days. We spent most time outdoors on the Serenity Deck, playing putt putt, over looking the pool, funshops and blue safire lounge. Saved a fortune by not being able to visit the rebooking desk, coffee shop, candy store and casino! We went back to our room and received a knock on the door. [CON] Our stateroom host, xxxxxxxx said [and i quote], "My name is xxxxxxxx, I am your stateroom host. So I am clear and there is no misunderstanding, I work in the morning and night and you must choose if you want me to service your stateroom in the morning OR night; we do not do both." I was a little miffed at his introduction. I reviewed the sheet and said, "OK. So, there is no option for both morning AND night. I have to choose 1 or the other, correct?" He just said, "Yes." I reviewed the sheet he was holding for me to complete. I said, "Morning. We will need extra towels and ice please." He handed me his card and said, "ok." We NEVER received the ice from him. I always went and got it myself. We NEVER received extra towels from him. I called him once during his break and asked for the previously requested towels. I stopped him in the hall other days to get extra towels. We had the opportunity to speak with him. He was always the first steward on the hall working and the steward on the hall working. He worked 2 shifts; but between him and his helper, they had to clean 37 rooms. He was always discombobulated and running behind. He had 1 month left on his contract and was clearly ready for a break. [PRO] We always had clean towels regardless of how frustrating it was to get them. I needed the exercise anyway; so walking to get ice, where irritating; but beneficial! Pixels photographers are everywhere! We had the opportunity to speak with one of the photographers; Ivica from Macedonia. He loved his job! He loved making people smile. He always did a great job taking our photos and we bought a few. [CON] The Pixels pictures are expensive! $22.99 for an 8x10 - Yikes. It would seem they could cut costs by displaying pictures digital instead of printing every single one. I suppose with people wanting things instantly, if they can touch it, they can take it now and are willing to pay the price. [PRO] I love pictures. I love the convenience of walking to dinner and stopping to have a family portrait made. Every background has a different photographer with their own ideas on how to pose. They print all pictures so you can buy one or buy none. Dining room - Wind Song was our assigned dining room. When we first booked, we requested a table for 2. At that time, they did not have anything available. Not a problem, we went ahead and were seated with 4 other nice couples the first night. When we got back to our stateroom, we received a note from the Matre'D Persad. He was able to accommodate our request and our table had been moved to 370. Our Head Waiter is Vigor and his team. They were phenomenal! They were friendly and encouraged us to try everything new and so we did. [CON] The 6pm dinner always seemed rushed. The menu was a bit boring. Steaks were blah. Not bad, just nothing to write home about. I hate to be served 1 piece of bread. I prefer to have a small basket of bread on my table. I understand they are cutting down on waste; so use a smaller basket. [PRO] I always enjoyed the 'Didja' part of the menu and took advantage every night. The cold soups were different and yummy. Mango was my favorite. Dining room - Wind Star was where we had brunch. If you haven't had brunch, you should. [CON] It is much SLOWER service from tired and not so friendly servers. They put a much too large basket of bread/pastries on your table to start your brunch. They are trying to cut back, they should get a smaller basket for this so so much doesn't go to waste. [PRO] The menu is 2 sided and you can order whatever you want from either side. The food is better than the junk at the Lido deck buffet. The first brunch, I tried raisin brand crusted french toast. It was surprisingly good! They are stinggy with the syrup; so order 2 when you place your order. I also tried blueberry pancakes, omelet, crispy bacon - and it was perfectly cooked, and the best cheddar grits I have had in a very long time. Mongolian Grill - My very favorite place to eat on the Fantasty! I could not wait to try it on the Ecstasy. [CON] They replaced my favorite snow peas with green beans. [huge thumbs down]. The food was incredibly salty. In fact, I asked my husband to try it thinking it was just me. He too agreed it was disgusting. In fact, it had no flavor except salt. [PRO] I saw other people eating it, so the food didn't go to waste. Lido Deck - Pool area/Entertainment. [CON] The mainstage area does not have constant entertainment. What irritates me is they do not start playing music until at least lunch time. Most people, myself included are out enjoying the salty air by at least 9am and expected to hear something other than elevator music before lunch time. The entertainment was actually terrible. They had the traditional hairy chest contest that turned into a dance competition and the hairiest guy didn't win. They had mixology contest, ice carving, Groove for St Jude, short dance party, corn hole competition. Nothing that made me want to tell anyone they must cruise on the Ecstasy because the entertainment and music is awesome. [PRO] They sometimes had a guy playing steel drum and he was incredible. When they played music, it was a good variety for everyone of every age. Events around the ship. [CON] From the shopping presentation, Bingo, Love and Marriage, Guess that tune, towel folding, comedy shows, the Brits, Balloon Animal guy, fun shop sales; there is nothing else, nothing fresh and new. If you have done this once, twice, three times is just blah...... [PRO] Cruise Director Benjamin Lambert and his assistant Adrian do a good job trying to get people involved. Benjamin also played music on the Empress Deck stage by the bar and he is really good. The Love and Marriage show is HILARIOUS. Kudos to the passengers that volunteered for that. Oh My.... My stomach hurt from laughing so hard. The 'Name that 80's tune' was a lot of fun. Benjamin is funny and quick witted. He made it a lot of fun by getting people involved and participating. VIFP / Birthday Celebrations: Actually a nice gesture, Carnival sent my husband and I both a liter bottle of water for being repeat customers. That was helpful since the 2 cases of water I preordered were almost not enough. For our birthdays, carnival gave us a non-transferable gift card. [CON] My husband got a $50 gift card for the spa and I got a gift card for a free 6x9 photo at Pixels. GREAT. He went for a massage only afterwards to be charged $98. When I looked at his receipt, they deducted the gift card and charged an 'automatic gratuity' of $20 for the therapist. What the hell is an 'automatic gratuity'. This makes me IRATE! If you are automatically charging me a fee, it is NOT a gratuity! A gratuity is something that you earn after performing a task AND is at my discretion. [SIDE NOTE: Later in the evening, while in the Saphire Lounge, we heard at least 8 other couples complaining of this same issue as they too experienced this with the "free gift card". [PRO] My Pixels gift card was truly a gift. I got my 6x9 picture free, no questions asked! Amber Cove - The port is beautiful. The area the ship had to dock is very narry. We watched the captain navigate, backing the ship to the dock. Very Impressive. The port has a pool that is free to use. There are additional features that cost a small fee; ZipLine, kayaking, canoeing, etc. We took the excursion - Discover the taste and traditions [I think]. We boarded bus #1. The driver was Orlando and Tour Guide was Juan. Juan was incredibly knowledgable and entertaining. We visited the city, a gift shop, a church, a mock plantation, a mock Brugal Rum factory and had a traditional Dominican Republic lunch. [CON] For the amount of time we spent standing in Central Park watching a parade, we could have visited shops or the beach. We did visit one shop. The Power went out while we were shopping. They had a few people on the street trying to sell us their goods and would not take no for an answer. My husband had to step up for a lady and tell the man she said NO for him to go away. 1 US Dollar equals $45 Pesos in Dominican Republic. [PRO] The Brugal Rum is very smooth. The Coconut Pineapple and Mango/Peach came home with me. The Dominican lunch was a stew with local veggies, broth, chicken and rice. The Dominican Coffee is unbelievably good and I don't even drink coffee. The organic Dominican chocolate was delicious. I would have liked to spend a little more time at the plantation. We had a dance contest with the local dancing girls and that was fun! The fresh fruit is gorgeous and delicious. I love fruit and seeing the ladies walk down the street with fruit baskets on their heads was cool. Grand Turk - This port used to be my favorite. If we ever return, we will take an excursion. [CON] The outside excursion vendors were like vultures on the beach. They argued with each other, tried to take customers from other vendors. The chairs are free to use; they would set up their umbrellas between chairs and when unknowing passengers would sit, they would pounce telling them they owed $20 for the use of the umbrella. The port belongs to Carnival and they should do a better job at controlling this. This is not acceptable and should not happen. [PRO] If you visit the other side of the pier, behind the astronaut display, the beach is quiet, no vendors. The beach is natural and not well maintained; so swimming with small kids would not be advised. It is rocky and has lots of conch shells. Half Moon Cay - [CON] This was my second cruise to Half Moon Cay and the second time my visit was cancelled due to the weather. [PRO] A day on the boat is better than a day at work. Alcohol - [CON] This was a nightmare! Previously, the night before the last morning, carnival would deliver your alcohol to your stateroom. This is no longer the process. On the morning of debarkation, all 400 people who purchased alcohol stand in line. They have 2 lines. The line on the left with the ships 2 slowest workers will help all people who are picking up confiscated items and alcohol purchased off the ship. The line on the right with the ships 3 fastest workers will help all people who are picking up liquor purchased in the funshops. If you purchased liquor in the funshops and off the ship, you must standin the line on the left. The letter told us to be in line at 6:30. We were in line at 6:10 and were about 50th in line. The process took us about an hour! It was absolutely ridiculous. Most people in line, from the grumblings were just as upset as I was. [PRO] I am a fast learner and will NOT purchase alcohol again while on a carnival cruise; not on or off the ship. The PRO is, They have saved me money! Disembarkation - Disembarkation was exceptionally fast. No hiccups, issues or [CON] Our vacation was over. [PRO] Faster to the fun allowed us to disembark with the platinum and diamond class people first. NO long lines or waiting. It was awesome! Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
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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