Sail Date: August 2011
Well, just returned from our first....and last....Carnival cruise. Hated the Ecstasy, she was filthy, the service was appalling and the layout of the ship was terrible. There were muliticolored squares, triangles and every other ... Read More
Well, just returned from our first....and last....Carnival cruise. Hated the Ecstasy, she was filthy, the service was appalling and the layout of the ship was terrible. There were muliticolored squares, triangles and every other geometric shape imaginable all over the walls and hallways. I felt like I was being hypnotized or tortured all the time. It is obviouse she has been dry docked and the public areas had been redone with modern glass tile, etc. But leaving things such as dirty rag mops in plain sight in a courner of the public toilets(every day!) is just not acceptable to me. Several times we sat down in the bars at filthy tables where the sugar in cocktails was still dried on and visible and had to ask for someone to come and wipe them down. One had drippy ice cream all over it and I watched an employee who was "dusting" a desk nearby who never came over to wash off the table, although she was there for 15 minutes or more. I felt like I could not put a hand on anything without wanting to go get more sanitizer! The bedding was good but nothing like we are used to being RCCL regulars. When people say the cabins are bigger, they are talking about maybe 10 sq ft bigger because the layout is so bad the extra space is wasted on things like portman beds on the wall so close to your bed you bump your head on them. The quality of construction was really substandard on most things. I liked the effort that has been made to update this ship, but even compared with older ships we have been on with RCCL, there is no comparison. Food was pathetic. I do not understand how those on these boards always say they love Carnival, especially her food...ich! And the chocolate melting cake...O.K. one night, all raw dough the next. The only redeeming aspect was the pizza which was amazingly good and the crab cakes were tasty. Nothing else is even mentionable. Our port days were as expected, and Nachi Cocom in Cozumel did make the cruise worth going, but after 7 times there, we expect it. We stayed onboard in Progresso and it was somewhat enjoyable to be the only two of maybe 10 people in the pool (the only time we could get into it as it was always so over crowded) and the slide is fun, we enjoyed being the only ones on it for most of the day. But we really missed having our adults only RCCL solarium as Carnival's adult retreat only had scummy hot tubs, one of which was not working at all. No pool at all. We were determined to give Carnival a chance to wow us, but alas, there is no Wow in Carnival. This was the only cruise out of 13 taken that we could not wait to get home. The best day of our cruise...getting off! Even excusing Lee, the tropical storm that was coming in, we were 3 hours late, which is understandable, but it still took almost 2 hours to disembark once docked and we were "self assist"! Some things, small or otherwise can be overlooked, and we are half full people most of the time, but when there are so many shortcomings thrown together, you cannot overlook them all. All I can say is that it is obvious that Carnival cruisers, or at least most of them do not have anything to compare their cruises with. They should do the same and give other cruise lines a chance to prove what I am saying about this one. We got to know some wonderful cruisers though, who made it bearable for a while. Carnival...get your act together, I don't even think we will venture upon Magic when she arrives...too scared! We expect nothing from Carnival for this unenjoyable cruise, caveat emptor! But we have learned our lesson. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2011
My bff and I just got back from our cruise! We had the most relaxing time! Food was outstanding, rooms clean and staff wonderful! First the food...24 hours a day there is always food. You can order as much as you want in dining room or ... Read More
My bff and I just got back from our cruise! We had the most relaxing time! Food was outstanding, rooms clean and staff wonderful! First the food...24 hours a day there is always food. You can order as much as you want in dining room or can go to the grill for hamburgers and hot dogs. There is a Mongolian grill and rotisserie. Buffets, pizza and deli! I tried foods I would not have ordered in a restaurant such as, escargot, alligator, stuffed mushrooms and sushi! Deserts were great too! Our room was always clean! They came in twice a day morning and evening! The towel animals were great along with the chocolate every night! There is staff around every corner and everyone had a smile on their face! We were very impressed with this cruise! We did run into Tropical Storm Lee on our way home and the captain kept us very informed and the staff did have to rearrange some of the events but went very smooth for us! Read Less
Sail Date: August 2011
Carnival Ecstasy August 15, 2011 - August 20, 2011 Galveston - Progreso - Cozumel - Galveston This is our fourth cruise with Carnival (Ecstasy 2007, Fantasy 2008, & Conquest 2009). We also sailed on Voyager of the Seas in ... Read More
Carnival Ecstasy August 15, 2011 - August 20, 2011 Galveston - Progreso - Cozumel - Galveston This is our fourth cruise with Carnival (Ecstasy 2007, Fantasy 2008, & Conquest 2009). We also sailed on Voyager of the Seas in 2010. We are a party of 4, including 2 boys (7 & 9). Embarkation: This is our 4th departure from Galveston. I've learned that 11:30am is about the earliest general boarding starts. We only live ½ hour from the port so can fine tune our arrival time for minimal waiting. This cruise, we arrived at 11:20am. Thru Xray by 11:30am. At check-in station at 11:33am and saw the boarding of the early arrivers just starting. 11:38am had S&S card in hand and proceeded straight to the boarding line w/o having to sit down and wait. This longest wait was for the embarkation portrait which we have yet to buy so skipping it would have saved ample time. We set foot on the ship at 12 noon. I don't think we could have timed it any better to minimize the wait. I don't know if this timing will work for other sized ships and/or other ports but for Galveston with Ecstasy, Conquest, and Voyager, this will work great. I'll find out in a few months when we sail the Carnival Magic if arriving between 11-11:25am is still best... I packed 10 soda bottles and 1 wine bottle in my carry-on. The Xray technician pointed me to the table for detailed checking. The person here inspected each soda bottle for unopened cap and promptly waved us on. Since I've seen the question asked about bottled water as carry-on, I did observe a person with a small dolly pulling 2 cases of water and had no issue getting on. I can only assume they had 4+ members of their party to stay within the rules of a 12 pack per person. We headed straight for lunch on Lido. We were done by 1pm and tried to go to our state room to drop off carry-on but employee was at the elevators to ask that we wait. We visited the casino (closed) and Camp Carnival to fill out paper work for the kids. The time was very close to 1:30pm so we headed down the elevator closest to our room. There were other passengers waiting at our floor. The door to the hallways was still closed so everyone waited. At 1:30pm exact, a person took a peek behind the door and found no one on the other side so we all walked to our room. The stateroom attendant was quick to come by and introduced himself. Muster drill was different than what we had experienced in the past. We didn't have to drag the life jacket with us. It is probably safer to not make the stairs and hallways more crowded with those equipment. We had early seating for MDR as we always do. While we requested a table for 4, we were seated with 2 other families of 4 each. Only think I didn't like was that our long table which would normally seat 10 was crowded for 12. The Maitre'D probably chose our 3 families with all boys around the same age so it was a good thing. Both families were very nice with great conversations so no horror stories to share here. A few days before sailing I read about new MDR menus but ours were still the old one. Shrimp cocktail was still there every day and no ½ pound hamburger although I would have liked to try the burger since the reviews for it is usually awesome. After dinner, we went to the theater for the evening show. Great show as always. Day 2: At sea I enjoy sea days as you're not on tight schedules to get off the ship and rush to excursions, etc... We went to a trivia event. Kids went to Camp for a short time. Had leisurely lunch then played in the pool and water park. The small pool was quite packed but it was nice to cool off. Dinner was formal. Portrait times started at 5pm so we got dressed and took pictures at 8-10 settings...I lost count. We were early enough so didn't have line to wait if at all. By the time we were tired of posing, it was time for dinner. I had the lobster of course. This is the first cruise that our waiter didn't push multiple lobsters to me...even without my asking. Must be budget cuts...oh well. Day 3: Progreso This is our 2nd time in Progreso. Our kids are still too small to enjoy and appreciate the Mayan ruins so will do that excursion at a later year. I did recall $20 beach massage so headed straight to the beach. The prices vary. The market where the shuttle bus dropped us off wanted $35/hr so none for me there. The lady running the massage show at the beach wanted $25/hr. I counter offered $20 and was promptly accepted. My family was also allowed to use the beach chair and umbrella as part of my package which was nice. It wasn't the greatest massage I've ever had but what did you expect for $20. I've since heard others getting $15 so I overpaid ? After some light souvenir shopping, we headed back to enjoy the pool and water park. We must have missed the emergency drill all of the past time but heard on the speakers a call to "abandon ship". Not only did employees went to their life boat positions but they actually lowered several boats to the water and drove around in circles. Glad to know that those equipments get tested regularly. Our last cruise with Royal Caribbean, we enjoyed lots of trivia, Sudoku, etc...challenge and earned medals as well as all kinds of paraphernalia so was looking forward to "ship on a stick". 2 events mid day were no show by the entertainment staff. I was unhappy at making time to attend but employees did not so I complained to the Guest Services desk. I was pleasantly surprised to get a phone call from the CD that evening to apologize and some "ship on a stick" sent to our stateroom to make up for it. Very nice to see even little problems like these taken cared off instead of just ignored. Day 4: Cozumel We've been to Cozumel many times and have always taken a cab to Mr Sancho for a little beach time for the kids. This time we decided on an excursion and chose Passion Island by powered catamaran. It was 45 minutes transit each way and a 3 hour stay. Beach was immaculate with kayaks, paddle boat, sail boat, inflatable climbing and sliding toys. Also included was open bar for basic drinks and all day buffet. The mahi-mahi was awesome but they couldn't cook it fast enough as it was always out. Overall, the place was very nice. However, if you're budget conscious, you can book separately other all inclusive places for less. We were back at the pier by 2pm for a 4pm sailing. We had time to get back on the ship for a clean shower before heading back down for very quick shopping. There was no evening show except for dance lesson on stage and game show with passengers as contestants. The Deck Party with Mexican buffet was on this night. I still miss the formal midnight buffet but again...budget cuts. Day 5: at Sea Work up late and had another casual day at various events on the ship as well as pool and water park. We opted for the late debarkation so had to set our bag out between 6pm-12am. The evening show was another song/dance...awesome. Day 6: back in Galveston We were zone 14 and was called pretty much on schedule for a 10am exit. We didn't see this in the past but after picking up our luggage, there were 2 lines thru custom. A vary short line if you had a U.S. passport and a much much much longer lines if you were non-citizen or just had a birth certificate. Glad we always used passport. Areas of complaint: For a 5 day cruise, lunch on Lido was "American" for 3 of those days. In the past, it used to be of different ethnicity just about every day. Evening show had 2 days as entertainment from passengers, i.e. game shows and talent show. I would have liked more from the singer/dancer staff and/or magician and comedians, etc... Overall, we had already booked a holiday cruise on the new Carnival Magic when it arrives in Galveston. However, hearing that the Ecstasy was being relocated, we wanted one last cruise before it would be based far away and likely not be sailed by us again. It is unfortunate that signs of budget cuts were everywhere so it wasn't as nice of an experience as we've had on this ship in the past. We also noticed that they didn't provide us survey forms as in the past. We hear that they are going to electronic surveys to random guests thru email. This is just as well as my ratings would not have been "exceed expectations" in most instances. Looking forwards to a great trip on the Magic in a few months. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2011
We were so excited to be going on vacation on our first cruise with our 3 yr. old and 6 yr. old. However, as soon as we stepped on the ship we noticed the foul, musty smell and also noticed how ugly the carpet and interior was. Kind of ... Read More
We were so excited to be going on vacation on our first cruise with our 3 yr. old and 6 yr. old. However, as soon as we stepped on the ship we noticed the foul, musty smell and also noticed how ugly the carpet and interior was. Kind of surprising. But it was ok, there was lots of fun to be had. Who cares, we'll get used to the smell and just won't worry about the ugly interior. So we get to our room. No complaints about our room, in fact the bed was very comfortable, but our bathroom smelled like a port-o-potty. First thing we did was go eat some of the buffet food we heard so many good things about. It was nasty!!! Next we get ready to go swim. The pool was TINY and packed full of adults who were all drinking and 4'9" deep. Not exactly kid friendly. So we went upstairs to the slides. It was better up there, but my 3 yr. old could only play on one little slide. That was the only thing available for someone his age to play in/on. We did take advantage of Camp Carnival for the kids and they enjoyed that. But unfortunately there just wasn't much for all of us to do together. During our time on the ship, we ate dinner in the restaurant. It was ok but not great. It was much better than the buffet's though. The buffet was never good. When we stopped in Cozumel, we had a blast. It was beautiful there and the food was great. We wished that we had just spent our money to fly straight there and spent those days in Cozumel instead of on a smelly, crummy ship. All in all, we went expecting a Carnival and that's far from what we got! Read Less
Sail Date: July 2011
This was my husbands and I second cruise,kids first. We were at the terminal by 11:30 and breezed right through security and on to the board. I don't know if I would go this early or not next time because nothing really opens until ... Read More
This was my husbands and I second cruise,kids first. We were at the terminal by 11:30 and breezed right through security and on to the board. I don't know if I would go this early or not next time because nothing really opens until after 1:30 including being able to go to your room. My husband on the other hand liked being there early. We parked at Galveston Park and Cruise right across the street in a secured enclosed parking garage for $40 for the week. Excellent location! Just walked our bags across the street and we were at the terminal.The food was average but didn't expect anything more. Our room steward and the housecleaning crew were very friendly. The guest services, bar staff and some of the dining crew were not as friendly. My 9 yr old complained some of the staff wasn't very friendly to kids.He went to Camp Carnival a few times for 9 - 11 year olds. He doesn't like to leave our side so we had to force him to begin with. He enjoyed the treasure hunt but said there was too many people in the room for a video game activity. He also wished there was more sport activities. Seems like there should have been more variety of activities and he also complained some of them were too juvenile. My 15 yr old loved the club for his age and he is on the shy quiet side. He met a new group of friends and a few night he didn't come back to the room until 2 or 3 in the a.m. He loved the independence the ship provided.We fell in love with Progresso...it was beautiful and the 2 story bus for $3 was a steal and a great way to see the city! The beach was clean and had a brand new sea wall. Next time would like to spend time at the restaurant on the beach that had a pool and playground for kids. You saw beach side massages everywhere! They were very friendly, offered my son the outdoor shower to wash his feet off because he was not happy about not getting the sand off his feet and has sensory issues. The manager also brought us 2 nice cold Cokes to the street while we were standing there. Felt very safe, saw police a few times. Cozumel was a rain out so we canceled our excursion but I was determined to go downtown so we bought rain parkas from Don Juans ( i had prepared and brought our own, but kids said they were cheap so we spent $5 a piece on the new) grabbed a cab and away we went. The boys complained about being wet and wanted to go back to the boat so we didn't stay long. After returning to the pier we ate lunch at Panchos, which we had eaten at the one downtown on a prior cruise, and of course still has the best food. Its pricey, about $65 dollars for 3 entrees, 2 alcohol drinks and 3 cokes.The shows were really good and cruise director and his fiddle was outstanding! The comedians were excellent.Overall had a great time and hope to return next year. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2011
First off don't let your expectations get too high. It is a vacation...relax and enjoy it. Embarkation was easier than I expected. Make sure to get a passport of some kind...the lines ARE shorter. Just follow the lines there are ... Read More
First off don't let your expectations get too high. It is a vacation...relax and enjoy it. Embarkation was easier than I expected. Make sure to get a passport of some kind...the lines ARE shorter. Just follow the lines there are people there to direct you and answer any questions you have. Keep your passport and your boarding pass in your hands until you get your sail & sign card. If you can use a credit card, it's faster and you don't have to go to the guests services desk when you first board the ship. That line was very long. You can change it at any time, they don't charge anything until the end of the cruise. You can go to guests services at any time to check your balance. Everything gets charged to your sail and sign card. Keep it with you at all times. If you like going to the casino, you use the card there also. Put your card in the slot machine, put in a pin number and then insert cash. Credits will be added to your card. You can cash in your credits at any time. Simple and very easy to use. If you like playing the tables you will use cash and recieve chips. We did buy the bottomless bubbles tag for our cards, this way you can have all the soda you want. It cost about 25$ per person. Realize that just because you have already paid a 10% gratuity for your cruise it doesn't mean that you shouldn't tip the people bringing your drinks. I tipped mine frequently and eventually didn't have to hunt down a waiter to bring me one they will look for you and bring your favorite drink to you automatically. A dollar goes a long way.There was alot of noise and confusion in the beginning. It is very unorganized and a bit overwhelming. Find a quiet place outside the ship somewhere where you can wait for people to get adjusted and then go to the Lido deck and grab a bite to eat. Yes there are lines, yes there are alot of people and yes you will adjust to it. If you are a smoker, there is limited places around the ship. Make sure you familiarize yourself with these places. They will be listed in the newsletter they place in your cabin at night. When all else fails, go to the casino. Also, the bathrooms were kinda hard to find. Make sure you know where there is one on all the main decks, Promenade and Lido for sure. Catch the shows, they are very enjoyable. Don't do Bingo...to much money for very few games...big dissapointment for me. We did some trivia and spent alot of time in the casino. Not very good payouts though so don't expect to get rich there. There are alot of things to do. Pick and choose the night before and leave some time to just relax and look at the water. Make sure to go as far forward on the ship just for the experience. It is very windy but you feel as though you are actually flying. Awesome. Alot of people hang out around the pool and there is only one which is very small and usually has alot of kids in it. If you want to lay out in the sun find a quieter place to do it than poolside. There are plenty of places around the ship.Enjoy the nightlife. There are clubs and a disco and of course Karaoke. Even if you don't want to sing it's fun to watch other people. You must get all dressed up for the formal night and take advantage of all the picture taking. The pictures are exspensive but very good quality. They were about 25$ per picture. Take alot and choose your favorites. I love ours. The atmosphere in the dining room was alot of fun....was the food great...NO but it was still worth going. Remember, the food is already paid for. You can order anything on the menu you want. I would suggest ordering two of every course. Two appetizers, Two main and Two desserts. No use wasting time. If you don't like any of it there's always the buffet.You can feel the ship rock some. When we left Cozumel the Captain was trying to outrun a storm and the rocking became really bad. Several people were sick but not too bad. I have a very sensative stomache and there were no problems for me. If it gets really rocky try to stay towards the middle of the ship. Not as much movement there. Don't go lay down...try to stay active it will take your mind off the movement.Cozumel was a dissapointment for me. We don't really care about getting in the water so there weren't any excursions we wanted to go on. We decided to just do some shopping. There aren't any beaches by where the ship docks. I'm not sure if there is any at all. You may have to ask someone on the ship for help there if you just want to relax on the beach. I did buy some jewelry and you can bargain with these people. Go back and forth between the shops even if they are affiliated with each other. There is a shopping specialist aboard the ship named Hila, she will help you with your purchase in making sure it's real and of the best quality for the money and she will do the haggling for you. Remember these few things...If you say something is pretty they are going to do their best to sell you that item wether you can afford it or not. Sometimes it's best to keep that thought to yourself. Stay with reputable shops. Don't go into those little side shop jewelers. They will try to sell you stuff that isn't real. If the price sounds too good to be true then it isn't true. If you don't care about that kind of stuff then by all means shop the little stores they are alot cheaper. Lastly, if they give you a rock bottom price and you still say no and they let you walk out the door, then thay have given you the absolute best price. No matter where you go all they will do is match that price. I guarantee that it is the best price you will get. But if it's still to high for you then let it go. Eat there if you want to. We didn't see anything exciting about eating there so we went back to the ship to eat. Nothing fantastic about Cozumel to me. The water is beautiful, just wish I could've put my feet in it. Once again if there are white sandy beaches out there I didn't see any and there was no information on where to go to see it. You will have to go out of your way to get information on this. By the way, get back to the boat early. We did and avoided a very long line and if you buy any alcohol or anything with a reference to a weapon (bought a leather whip for my step-son) expect to have it taken away. It's easy to get it back though.Debarkation was simple. We chose self-assist. Which means you take your bags off with you. If you can do this I think it is the easiest way. Just wait in your cabin till they call your deck number to unload. The people who clean your room will try to get you to leave it so they can get in there and get done. Again, tip your steward good. 20$ to ours and we weren't hassled at all. Other people were waiting in our room. So there it is and I hope it was helpful. I did enjoy it and we will go again. Next time we will go for longer so we will have time to rest and not feel like we are running to fill every minute. If you have any questions you can e-mail me and I will be happy to help.Relax and enjoy your vacation!!!! Read Less
Sail Date: June 2011
Booking: We booked online and never had a bit of trouble. We also booked out Excursions online and that too was seamless. We both ordered some surprises from Bon Voyage and the only issue we had there was not asking for an e-mail receipt ... Read More
Booking: We booked online and never had a bit of trouble. We also booked out Excursions online and that too was seamless. We both ordered some surprises from Bon Voyage and the only issue we had there was not asking for an e-mail receipt and not being able to "confirm" our orders. Being a Texas Port, our Drink Tickets got to us after we had our first drinks during departure. Documents: We never had a bit of trouble with documents at any time. The system was easy to use and everything printed very easily. We both have Passports and are glad we did (more later re: debarkation). We made copies of them for shore excursions and should have had them with us but forgot. Not an issue but could have been I guess. Excursions: We booked our Shore Excursions on Carnival's site and had a very trouble free experience. We may have paid a little extra but the convenience and peace of mind knowing that Carnival knew where we were and when we'd be back was worth it to us. The tickets were delivered to our stateroom the first night and everything worked just like clockwork.Packing: We over packed. There I admitted it. We each had a large rolling check bag, a small rolling carryon bag, and a HUGE purse or reasonable backpack. Too much. We both had clothes left over, tools and gadgets we did not use, Jackets we did not need, shoes we did not wear. We did bring a Laptop for downloading pics and budgeting and were glad. Transportation: We live in Nacogdoches, Texas (120 miles N. of Houston) and added a weekend in Galveston to our vacation so we could drive down and be in town all weekend before departure. In reading all the concerns about transfers from Houston Hobby and Intercontinental to Galveston, we feel very fortunate to be able to drive down. So my best advice would be to plan on staying the night before in Galveston and taking a shuttle or walking to the terminal and not trying to juggle arriving the day of departure.Lodging: Even though this is not a review of hotels, I must include; staying at the Harbor House almost next door to the terminal was nearly as nice as the cruise itself. We left our car in their gated parking lot for $20 and walked to the terminal on Monday morning in 10 min. The rooms all have harbor views and are all what I would call mini-suites. $119 - $199 is a little pricey but if you compare that to other hotels in Galveston, it is right in line. The Tremont House is also Downtown and in walking distance but has little parking. Many other hotels on the island have free parking and a free shuttle to the terminal.Parking: As I said, parking at the hotel and walking or taking a shuttle is the way to go but, all the other parking is right across Harborside Drive from the terminal and you can even walk to the terminal from some of them.Embarkation: Never, for a single step, once we reached the door of the terminal, were we ever out of site of a Carnival employee guiding us along the route to the check-in area and then onboard. The process was smooth, the lines were reasonable; the time it took was actually a little less than expected. We left the hotel on foot at 11 am and arrived at 11:10. We were onboard at 12:15. Not bad.Sail & Sign: There was some anxiety regarding how to fund our Sail & Sign Card. We got rid of all our credit cards a couple of years ago and use only cash and Debit Cards. Our regular checking / Debit Card is like everyone else's and contains just enough to pay the bills and day to day expenses, however, we have a Debit Card attached to another checking account linked to a separate savings account that we never use unless travelling. We estimated our Sail & Sign expenses then move TWICE that amount to the other checking account that card debits, so that it would cover any reserved amount and the actual charges. Then when the charges hit and the reserve is reversed, we move the remainder in the checking account back to savings. Worked like a charm.Cash: We used cash for all other expenses and split it up between us so that either of us was not carrying all of it at any one time. Cash in the ports will get you an extra discount sometimes.Ecstasy in General: What a nice ship. Ecstasy is the only Cruise Ship we have been on, and this is our second on her but I am somewhat familiar with commercial shipping and offshore facilities and this is a very nice "old" ship. She is even a little nicer now than in 2005 when we last sailed her. My only two "complaints" about the whole trip is, the window (port) in our Ocean-view Room could have been cleaned of caulk and smears on the outside and, the toilet tissue racks should be on the wall opposite the toilet rather than beside it so you could sit straight on the pot! She was spotless, up to date, and a joy to sail. We will miss her in Galveston even as we look forward to the Magic.Lido Buffet: As soon as we stepped on board we were invited to the Lunch Buffet on the Lido Deck and the feast had begun! They were ready and fully functional and the food was very good. The first thing we did after reading so much about it in the Forums is try the coffee. It was surprisingly good and turns out that it is the same as is served in the MDR and Room Service. The problem is that it sits sometimes and gets stale and overcooked. Stateroom: They said they'd let us in the stateroom corridors at 1:30 and they were done and right on time. The rooms are very nice, spotless, surprisingly roomy, 3 closets, 4 drawers, VERY comfortable bed and bedding, good lighting, nice size shower, flat screen TV, nice freebies, good body wash and shampoo on the shower wall, good towels, plenty of good pillows, adequate simple safe with 4 digit combination, ... Room Steward: She was fantastic. She was from Thailand and just as polite and nice as she was efficient. We never lacked for ice or towels, or service of any sort. We tipped her well on the last morning! She was worth it!Drill: We had the mandatory "Muster Drill" right on time at 3:30. It's nice that you no longer have to show up in your Life Jacket. We never did find out where our actual lifeboats were but fortunately, no icebergs were encountered in the Gulf and the "SS Stockholm" was far far away. Departure: Lines were cast and thrusters were engaged right on time at 4:00 while we were still at Muster. When we were released we went up on deck and bid farewell to Galveston from the Observation Deck right above the bridge. The weather was beautiful, although windy enough that DW "flashed" the upper deck (no beads please), the water in the ship channel was a lovely slime green but the seagulls, Brown Pelicans, and the Bottle Nose Dolphins seemed to love it and escorted us all the way to the Gulf. I am amazed how the water turns from brown to green to a lovely deep blue in just a few short miles even in the Gulf.MDR: WOW! Again after reading the Forums for weeks we were very pleasantly surprised at the quality, quantity, and presentation of the food and the level of service in the MDR. The whole experience was at the level of the very nicest restaurants on the mainland, maybe not the very finest in the world but what most folks would consider a very special evening out. The Appetizers were Spectacular, the Main Courses were a small step down the quality scale at Very Good, the Desserts were Sensational (The Warm Chocolate Melting Cake was everything it was touted to be), the Drink Service was Pretty Good (a little slow), and the Table Service was Outstanding. Our Head Waiter was from Nepal and was very attentive. You ask for hot sauce once and never have to ask again. We chose early dining because that is when we generally eat and wanted the experience of making closer friends with our tablemates than we might with Any Time Dining. It worked! Room Service: The selection is not huge but what we got, mainly morning coffee and Croissants was, right on time, hot or cold as indicated and always very good. The Croissants are buttery and melt in your mouth.Day 1 at Sea: Overnight, Monday, the seas built until we were running into a 50 kt headwind and 12 foot seas. There was a little movement but the stabilizers worked well and I saw no one sick. Not even DW, Jeanell, who is prone to be. She wore wrist bands and took Dramamine. No trouble! Due to the broken cloud cover the sunrise was really nice. Got up at 4:30 and had the deck to myself for a while. Later in the morning, the Serenity Deck was generally just that, SERENE! We could not go up on the Observation Deck due to a 65-70 kt wind over the deck but it was very nice everywhere else.Spa Carnival: DW had the Fire and Ice Manicure on Day 1 @ Sea and the Pedicure on Day 2 @ Sea and loved them both. They were a little pricey and came with some mild pressure to purchase Elimis stuff but all in all a very nice experience.Cruise Formal Night: This night was special in every way. All the folks were lovely, the staff was lively, the food was wonderful and ..... I even remembered how to tie a tie. DW was gorgeous in her Salsa Dress. We saw two teenagers in cut up jeans, tee shirts, and ball caps on sideways. The Maitre d' asked them to remove their hats or leave. They did so. Good for him!!Serenity: The Serenity Deck was just that SERENE. Generally it was anyway. We had one small teen invasion that was quickly repulsed, and one runaway Hot Tub that got to 115 deg before the boss intervened and had it fixed. I'm not sure the stern is the best place for it but I believe it is elsewhere on newer vessels in the fleet. Pretty much our favorite spot on the ship other than MDR.Progreso: We did not spend any time in Progreso proper. We went to Dzibilchaltun and viewed the ruins. Very informative, very organized, and did not take all day as a trip to Chichen Itza. It was hot and humid and we were pooped when we got back. We shopped a little at the terminal and went back on board. Wimps that we are. There were no other ships docked at one of the longest piers in the world. This was my choice of excursions.Cozumel: DW chose Snorkeling in Cozumel. Quite a surprise since she is a very weak swimmer; but it was wonderful. Antonio towed her and two other "terrapods" around behind a float so that all they had to do was breath and look. DW tipped him heavily. I thought she was going to kiss him! The shallow reef and beach area was destroyed by Hurricane Wilma, and has been extensively rebuilt. The coral is growing again, the artificial habitats are attracting fish and it is really amazing to see the progress. While she was being towed, I was able to dive on the reef in 12-20 feet of crystal clear water. We all saw thousands or multi colored fish, new coral, Stingrays, Star Fish, Sea Fans, ...While in Cozumel we did some serious shopping. With the help of Hila, the Shopping DIVA aboard Ecstasy, we were able to find a Ruby Pendant, we had saved (cash) for, that was perfect for DW. We also bought Vanilla, Hot Sauces, Tee Shirts, some costume jewelry, and coffee. Liquor was cheaper onboard so ... We docked at Playa Maya and it was actually a little nicer than downtown where we were in 2005. We shared the dock with Carnival Triumph (Coming to Galveston in the fall as our new 4-5 Day Cruise Ship) but since the area is so much larger than Progreso, it was not really any more crowded than Progreso. We took our S&S cards, our Driver's License, and cash ashore in a $4 watertight neck wallet and it was all we needed. We intended to take photocopies of our passports also and forgot.Day 2 at Sea: What can I say? Serenity, sea breezes, sun, a rain shower, good food, great companions, superior service, a beautiful ship; Friday at sea was magic. Dinner was my experimental evening. Escargot, Chateaubriand, Poached Pear. All fantastic!Fun Shops: The Fun Shops were just fine. A little small on Ecstasy, but just fine. Anything you might need you can get. I started a tradition; I am buying a watch on every cruise. I got a Citizen Echo-Drive Dress Watch for a very good 40% off retail, and a couple of "Box Watches" for gifts.Entertainment: The Comedy was good, the musicians were good and I'm sure the show was good, but again, as on our first cruise, we missed the show. Next time for sure. I wish they put it on more than one night per cruise. Maybe they do on a 7 day cruise?Debarkation: Beginning the night before, the instructions are plentiful, clear, and precise. WE packed up and had plenty room without taking out the extra god we brought. We attached out new Zone Tags and set them outside. They disappeared only to reappear in the terminal the next morning. We were in the third Zone after the Self Service folks; even so, we were off by 10:00 and walking to the car. No muss, no fuss, no hassle! We will try and pack better next time so as to qualify for the Self Service departure.Passports: Get a passport! If, for no other reason, the line in the terminal for customs is MUCH shorter (1/5) than the line for all other guests. It streamlines everything. Just get one!Port of Galveston: The "little" Port of Galveston is just fine and they do a very good job. They will have their work cut out for them to handle the Magic and the Triumph for Carnival, and a Princess ship, and NCL, and Disney but it can be done. There will be some growing pains but, as seamlessly as they handle things right now, my level of confidence is very high that by the summer of 2012, it will be ticking like a clock again.Summary: On a scale of 1-10, this cruise gets a 9.5 and our loyalty to Carnival as our preferred Cruise Line. I'm not saying we will not sail other lines but ... For example, we want to sail Hawaii in a couple of years. NCL bases a ship in Honolulu and you fly directly there and spend seven days in paradise. With Carnival and everyone else, you spend 12-15 days to visit Hawaii and still have to fly to the west coast unless you live there. Future Cruises: We will be booking a Seven Day Cruise out of Galveston aboard Carnival Magic for next summer. Then Hawaii, then Alaska, then .....Link to 200+ pics. Either Copy and Paste to you browser or right click and Open.https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/sredir?uname=112263849042548246386&target=ALBUM&id=5622561170080288449&authkey=Gv1sRgCLuoja6dj-jf8wE&feat=email Read Less
Sail Date: June 2011
This is a great ship! I am sad it is going to Louisiana. Our room, cabin U1 on Upper Deck (6) was nice. The two beds pushed together held my hubby, me and my 10 year old daughter, and my hubby and I are really big. The bed was comfortable ... Read More
This is a great ship! I am sad it is going to Louisiana. Our room, cabin U1 on Upper Deck (6) was nice. The two beds pushed together held my hubby, me and my 10 year old daughter, and my hubby and I are really big. The bed was comfortable and our steward was Dana...he was amazing! He always talked to us by name, made sure we had everything we needed and was very nice. I loved all the towel animals we got...we had a monkey hanging from the a/c vent one night after I had mentioned I'd like one and my mom got a bat! It was too cute! My mom was in the stateroom next to me. My daughter loved our porthole. It was big enough for her to get up and sit in and look out the porthole. The bathroom smelt a little in ports but it was bearable. Our steward always made sure our room was clean though and bathroom too. The ship was surprisingly easy to get around and didn't really take that long to go from one side to the other. My daughter enjoyed Camp Carnival, when she decided to go. She spent a lot of time on the lido deck pool and the jacuzzi. She and her two friends spent most of their time there. The water in Progresso and Cozumel especially was beautiful. Pretty blue. We got back in plenty of time for the ship to leave but in Progresso we had to wait about 15 to 20 min for a few late arrivals to get back to the ship and the same in Cozumel. We left port late there too! the dining room staff was awesome and our head waiter was getting ready to finish his contract and go back to India to see his family. Sodas are $1.95 per 12 oz can. Do yourself a favor and buy the unlimited bubbles soda card, the site says $35 for adults but it was only $30 once we got on the ship. With the way my hubby drinks Dr. Pepper and with me not liking the cruise water or tea, we sure got our moneys worth on the soda cards. We got one for our daughter too. Cruise water they serve in the restaurants is really nasty, imo. Take bottled water if you don't want a soda card. My daughter and the rest of us had an awesome time! We will definitely do another cruise in a couple of years. Met so many wonderful people and my daughter made 2 friends that she hung out with almost the whole time. Thanks to Camp Carnival!!! Hope everyone else had a great time too! Only two negatives were the excursion I booked in Cozumel, was a waste of time and money. Do not ever book Day at the Beach through Cruises Only. 2nd negative was getting through customs. We got put in the non US citizens only line and we stood in it for about an hour and we were only half way down. By the time we got there we were through in about 5 min. All in all, it was awesome! Read Less
Sail Date: May 2011
A little background on our cruise history, this was my 21st cruise total, 19th with Carnival (Celebration - 2, Fantasy - 3, Ecstasy - 10, Elation - 2, Conquest - 1 and Triumph - 1) and 10th on the Ecstasy. I have 1 with Royal Caribbean and ... Read More
A little background on our cruise history, this was my 21st cruise total, 19th with Carnival (Celebration - 2, Fantasy - 3, Ecstasy - 10, Elation - 2, Conquest - 1 and Triumph - 1) and 10th on the Ecstasy. I have 1 with Royal Caribbean and 1 with Princess as well. My Mother (my cruising partner in crime) and I love the Ecstasy, and are so sad to see her moved to another homeport, so this was to be our "farewell" cruise of sorts. I saw the update Sunday morning "Ecstasy will be delayed Monday due to a medical emergency." Oh no, is the first thought, I mean anyone who cruises often knows that even the smallest glitch can really slow down embarkation. Soon after the Facebook message, the call and email came in from Carnival saying that embarkation would be delayed until 6:30pm on Monday evening. Oh well, what can you do. I just took it to mean I could finish packing in the morning, and sleep in a little. I mean we all want to be on the ship as soon as possible, but some things can't be helped; and I later learned on our Behind the Fun tour that the person taken back to Cozumel for medical treatment, was in fact going to be ok, so that's good news.We live in Katy, about an hour and a half from the Port of Galveston. We left the house around 1:30pm Monday afternoon and headed to the Strand to meet a friend of mine for lunch. About halfway to Galveston my buddy that was waiting for us sent me a picture, our ship was pulling in! It was about 2:30pm, just as Mr. Heald had promised on his Facebook page. We arrived in Galveston around 3pm and had a nice lunch at Yaga's Cafe. This little gem has been there for years, and if you go I recommend their cajun potatos as a side. Amazing! We walked the Strand a little, and drove down to the seawall after lunch, finally heading to EZ Cruise to park around 5pm.Embarkation:We had booked our parking at EZ Cruise online for $35 for 5 nights, so we checked in very quickly and were whisked away to the ship in no time. We checked our 2 large suitcases with the porters (one containing 2 12-packs of soda, as Mom wasn't aware you were supposed to carry them on. They did, in fact, make it to our room.) and headed up to the check-in area with our carry-ons. Much to our surprise, there was no line getting in the building, so far so good! Once up the escalator, we went to the VIP check-in line and were through security in no time. They did check my Mother's bag that contained 2 bottles of champagne, but since there were 2 of us sailing together, it was no problem and we were sent into the VIP room to get our Sail and Sign cards. This was my Mom's Milestone cruise with Carnival, so she was disappointed when they handed her a regular Platinum card. (No big deal, a quick trip to the Guest Relations desk once onboard and she had her fancy white card, lol.) Check in took a total of 15 minutes from entering the building until being seated in the waiting area, probably the quickest we've ever experienced. There were quite a few people that had been waiting already. We learned later that many didn't know of the delay until they arrived at the pier that day due to being on the road and not receiving the email/call. They were providing water and bags of chips, so it wasn't unbearable. We sat down for about another 15 minutes, and they began boarding around 5:30pm. There were 2 wedding parties that went first, then us in the VIP section, followed by zone 1, etc. etc.We're on a boat!! As we walked in they were giving away free, yes free mimosas as a thank you for being patient with the delay. Very nice, drink in hand and we're not even on the Lido deck yet, score! Rather then fighting the masses on the Lido, we went up to the Promenade. The mimosas were running low, so we stopped at the casino bar for our first official DOD. Ahhh... funship special, how I missed you! Since we weren't being let into the rooms until 8pm, we walked over to the sushi station and grabbed a snack. There was nobody else around (I assume people were eating up on the lido) so we sampled... then sampled some more. By the time we were done it was 7:15pm or so, and being the obedient cruisers we were, we decided to sneak into our room early. I know, I know, shame on us... but I was tired of lugging around the laptop, lol. Our room was E9, so the doors (still closed) to get to it were right in the middle of the madness of people still boarding the ship. We opened one and snuck in unnoticed, I guess the doors were open elsewhere because there were many others going into their rooms, we dropped off the bags and headed up to the Lido with our bottle of champagne. Now, we may have had a sushi snack, but who can resist the Mongolian Grill, especially when there's no line! I grabbed a bowl, and am pleased to report that it is still in fact DELICIOUS! We settled into out favorite spot for sail away, the open deck all the way aft, got a bucket of beer and a bucket of ice for our champagne and waited. No one was sure of exactly what time we were to set sail. We had been told that boarding would be from 6:30-9pm, so of course we knew it would be late. Side note: due to the delay, all passengers were given a $15 credit on our Sail & Sign cards for lunch that day. About 9:45, we heard that wonderful horn blow! We were off! We popped our champagne and toasted to the official beginning of our vacation. Since we'd been snacking all day, we didn't go to the MDR for dinner. Matter of fact, we didn't eat in there for dinner at all the entire cruise, lol. We sat back on the open deck for a while sailing down the channel, then decided to go check out the happenings around the ship. There would be no Safety Briefing tonight, it would be at 10am the next morning, eh... as long as it didn't interfere with breakfast I'm ok with that, lol. We found our way to the MDR, not to eat, but to be sure they had our reservation for the Chef's Table. Side note: John Heald is a very busy man, so be sure you go to the Maitre D and CONFIRM your reservation, they did not have ours. No big deal, there were plenty of spaces available still. (I hadn't put "please reply" on my request on the "ask John" section of his blog, so that was my fault.) He asked if we'd rather have dinner on Progresso or Cozumel day, um Progresso please... I do well to get back to the ship on time in Cozumel, lol. We stopped by the liquor store to pick up some bottles of Crown for my uncle, and ended up hanging around for a raffle. After that, we went down to Guest Relations to ask about the Behind the Fun tour, we were told we could book in the morning, sounds good., we headed to the casino. There was a particular machine I was interested in, the $.02 win a BMW/$25k machine. I found one that paid out pretty well, for a penny slot anyways, it would become my nemesis for the rest of the trips to the casino. Picking up our free tournament entry cards for the slot tournament, I decided it was time for a shot. We headed into Stripes disco. There were a lot of college aged people on this trip, and let me say this, they loooooved to dance. It was kind of fun to watch the girls compete for attention from certain guys and vice versa. My Mom was confused by some of the girls that seemed to think they were in a gentleman's club, lol. After a Jaeger-Bomb I decided maybe the club wasn't for good 'ol Mom and we went to the piano bar, which as usual was packed. Yes, it is smoky in there, and honestly this was my first cruise as a non-smoker, so previously I'd never really noticed. However, it wasn't enough to deter me from staying a while... Until hunger struck again. We found our way back up to the Lido buffet where they were serving hot dogs and hamburgers, yeah... a hot dog at 1am with sauerkraut hit the spot. We headed back to our cabin at the front of the ship. Let me recommend booking your cabin in the forward section, you will get lots of good walking exercise going back and forth to the Lido buffet/pizza/deli areas.1st Sea Day:We got up around 8am on the 1st sea day, we're generally early risers so even after a late night we're up before 9am. We went to Guest Relations and booked our Behind the Fun tour, I wanted to be sure and do that early as I would be very disappointed if it sold out. Next was breakfast in the MDR, we were seated at a table for 4 and then joined by a lovely couple. We started chatting, and guess what? It turned out to be aggie1 from our roll call! How perfect is that? We discovered we would be doing the chef's table the same night, and enjoyed some great conversation over some great eggs benedict. After breakfast it was time for the Safety Briefing. Our muster station was "A" and in the Blue Sapphire (main show lounge) so it was very comfortable. I still LOVE the fact we don't have to lug the life vests to the drill, so much easier! The drill lasted about 15-20 minutes, totally painless, they didn't make us go out to the lifeboats so that was nice. Well look at that? The gift shops are right outside of the Blue Sapphire and it's time for a raffle, another loss, lol. We did a little shopping, and headed back to the room to grab a bucket of beer and went to check out what was happening at the pool. It was packed, lots of chairs being saved, but still plenty of places to sit so I didn't see that it was a big deal on this day. Now, the "kid factor." I have no issue with children cruising, and there were quite a few on this particular cruise, HOWEVER... pleeeeease ensure your little angels are aware of the rules, and do not rely on Carnival staff to discipline them. There were kids in the hot tubs every day, not just sitting, but splashing, snorkeling (masks and all), etc. There were also parents that ignored the "adult only" rule on the Serenity deck, and would bring their little ones (some in strollers) down to relax with them. However, I don't see many kiddos that enjoy sitting quietly in the sun and just relaxing, lol. Really you can't blame the little ones, if their parents are not adhering to the rules, neither will they.We watched a little of the hairy chest contest, finished our beers and headed down to the Promenade to see what was going on. We headed to lunch in the MDR, we've been on so many cruises we rarely eat in the MDR anymore. Nothing wrong with it, I'm just never hungry when it's open, which is why now we sign up for the anytime dining now that it's available. However, this trip the way the activities were falling that first sea day the timing was right and we did enjoy eating in there. Now as I said, I haven't been in the MDR for lunch in a very long time, but I'm really glad I went today. I had the chilled avocado soup and Mongolian steak salad, both were fantastic! Hmmm.. The art auction is about to start. I'd never gone to one, and hey, there's free champagne, so why not? We looked around, nothing really caught our eye, but I wanted to see what people were going to buy so we hung around. We saw a gentleman spend $8k on some artist we'd never heard of, and in the end there was a Peter Max piece that was going for $28k, no takers? Didn't think so, I mean that's a nice SUV or about 28 cruises, lol. We relaxed the rest of the day, read some books and just laid around. That evening was the "elegant" evening, we decided not to get dressed up and just went up to the buffet for dinner. There was many of the MDR items on the buffet that night, including the prime rib, it was fantastic. Upon arriving back at our room we found our Platinum petit fours treat and settled in for the night.Progresso:I woke up to an earthquake! Not really, but let me say this, if you do not like being awakened by what I would later call the "shake n' wake" do not book E9. Whenever those bow thrusters were on, that room would shake like mad! We've stayed in every category the Ecstasy has to offer, so it didn't bother us, and I mean every category.. From a 1A to the Owner's Suite., I like variety, hehe. We didn't have anything planned for Progresso, so we took our time getting dressed and having breakfast at the buffet. Yes, there are bacon police, but they can be bribed with a pleasant smile and a "may I please have a little more?" We got off the ship around 10am or so and wandered into the large duty free store you have to pass through to get to the other shops, busses, etc. I ended up buying some cigarettes (3 cartons for $56) for a friend, ha! I just realized how contradictory that sounds. Hey friend, here are your sticks of poison, lol. I also bought a few bottles of a certain tequila requested by a few people and we settled in at the little bar in the middle of all the shops. I found my name on the wall from last October and they allowed me behind the bar to add the date for this cruise. We got comfortable, grabbed some Del Sol beers and watched the high school kids buying drinks, ah to be young and want to be older again, lol. After a few rounds and several of the shots they pour down your throat, we decided it was time to head back to the ship. We grabbed some Mongolian Grill and a spinach turnover (yum!) from the buffet and sat down on the outer deck for sail away. Oh, and to the woman that changed her baby on the open eating area on the Lido deck, shame on you. People are eating, just gross. We headed back to the cabin for a little rest, it was after all Chef's Table night, and we would need all our energy for the delicious treats to come! We missed the Past Guest reception, got the time wrong. Mom was disappointed, I felt really bad, and wouldn't be in charge of scheduling anymore, lol. We received our Platinum canapEs this night as well. I love this little treat. Let me just say, if you're into food, the Chef's Table is for you. It was simply delicious! We started with a tour of the galley with Executive Chef Suresh Babu, while in the galley you get to see how it functions during dinner (our Chef's Table was at 6:30pm) and were served appetizers and champagne. I've read in other reviews that some found it difficult to manage the plate and champagne flute, on our tour they had a table to place your items so you would have your hands free to enjoy your food. After our tour and reception, we headed to the Explorer's Lounge (library) where they had our table set up for dinner. The wine was flowing, the food was fantastic and half way through, I started to feel wonkie and had to retreat to the cabin. BOOOO! I will say that I only wish I would have gotten the name of the gentleman waiting on me that evening, he made sure my last couple of courses were boxed and delivered to me in the cabin so I didn't miss out on anything. My mother told him she could take the food to me, but he insisted on delivering it himself, a true class act and a great addition to Carnival's food service staff. We also received an autographed cookbook and 8x10 photo as party favors. After my super fancy room service, we turned in for the night to rest up for Cozumel. We had a great group for our experience, and I'm still bummed I had to sneak out early, but a big hello to my fellow CC members aggie1 and Rosenbeans, loved having dinner with you and yours!Cozumel:Again, we didn't have anything planned so we had a buffet breakfast and got off the ship around 11am. We walked through the shops to the taxis and headed into town to hit Carlos N' Charlie's. We hung around there for a little over an hour and 2 yard glass Del Sols later, headed back to the pier to get some shopping done. We didn't plan on spending a lot here, so I picked up some shot glasses and other knick-knacks for a select few back home and headed to Fat Tuesday's to sit on the swings. I can't stress how much I love Cozumel, and if I ever decide to skip a cruise and do an all-inclusive, it will be there. Everything is so beautiful, the beaches, the water, the people; it's just lovely. After swinging a while and finishing our beers we headed to Three Amigos. (Anyone see a pattern? We love our beer, lol) I did stop and climbed into the birthday cake at Fat Tuesdays for a picture, a friend back home was celebrating her 30th that day and what better way to say "wish you were here" than from inside a giant cake? We had a couple drinks at Three Amigos and got ready to head back to the ship. Uh-Oh, you HAVE to walk through the duty free shop, this could be bad. With a nice beer buzz going on, a fancy bottle of tequila caught my eye. I mean, it was just painted beautifully. 3 bottles of hooch later, we were in line to get back on the ship. Now I had zero plans to spend anymore money on liquor, but the free sample and my beer induced decision making said otherwise, lol. We went though security, and again checked our bottles to be picked up the morning of debarkation in the Stripes disco. That makes 6 to pick up now, wonderful, that's going to be fun carrying off the ship! When we arrived back in the cabin there was a letter for Mom to contact Guest Relations about her Milestone program. She had gotten her OBC for this trip, but they wanted to let us know she was still eligible for 25% off a booking in the future, nice! We headed up to the Mongolian Grill. OH NO! We were about 5 minutes too late, luckily a wonderful man named Ramesh let us get a bowl anyways. I'm pretty sure I told him I loved him, and we got our delicious afternoon noodles. This again is why I love the Ecstasy, the staff, they are simply outstanding. Everyone says hello, they go above and beyond to accommodate people and are always making sure the ship is spotless and everyone is happy. This particular afternoon we saw Executive Chef Suresh Babu bussing some tables on the Lido deck. What a guy, he is. I always appreciate upper management that isn't afraid to get dirty with everyone else. Bravo to him, he and his staff are great and truly understand what excellence is all about. Cozumel had worn us out, so after watching the sail away we headed to the cabin for a little sun and beer induced nap. That evening we had the buffet for dinner again, I don't remember what we had, by this point this day was starting to run together and we were exhausted. We grabbed some food and took it back to the cabin. We spent the late evening eating, reading, and called it an early night.Final Sea Day:Again with the breakfast buffet, yes we are creatures of habit. We were up early today because it was our Behind the Fun tour day! YAY! We met our group in the Explorer's Lounge at 8:45am and started our tour around 9am. Our first stop was the galley, we had seen this during the Chef's Table portion of our cruise so we were the galley pros, lol. Next was a trip below the water line. We went to the laundry room, where I learned that I need to invest in a sheet folding machine, it's pretty big, but who needs to put their car in the garage? We saw some of the food storage areas, and the I-95 (the only passageway the goes completely forward to aft on the ship. We learned about the environmental procedures. Everyone knows that they release food waste into the water, but did you know that several crew members have to got through all the food waste to ensure there isn't any non-food items mixed in before it can be put into the grinder and sent to the fishes? Remember that food you didn't finish off the buffet? Someone had to go through that later, talk about portion control! We also learned that all crew (Captain included) has to separate their garbage for recycling purposes. So your room steward literally picks through your garbage to ensure all plastics/cans/paper/food items are separated. Crazy! We saw the engine control room, backstage in the main showroom, got to go to the crew's outer deck, training room, mess halls (separate dining areas for officers and the Captain), lounge, and of course THE BRIDGE! Being on the bridge is worth the cost of the tour alone, just fantastic! An officer gave us a rundown of the instruments and then Captain Giulio Basso came out to visit and have a picture taken with us. He is a very friendly man, and knows what he's doing... A very good thing! A couple of notes on the tour itself. There is a fair amount of stairs to climb, however when going up or down more than 1 deck, we did use the elevators. There are no cameras, phones, or video cameras allowed. Security does wand you before the tour starts, so if you were planning on trying anyways you can forget it. I think this is fair for the chance to see things you'd never get to see otherwise.After that we headed to the casino, it was slot tournament day! We signed up for the 12:10 time slot, and went to get some pre-game cocktails. I sat down with that evil penny machine again, and what's this? I hit something! Now like I said, this machine was my nemesis, half the time I'd hit something and have NO idea where the lines were going, etc. Right before noon, I hit big, I mean it just kept dinging and dinging, it lasted so long Mom had to go and move me from the 12:10 time slot in the tournament. It turns out I'd won 6000 credits, of course since it dings for every credit, this took a while. Ah if only they were dollars, lol. With a little extra change in my account, I still had time before my turn in the tournament so I proceeded to put half of it back in. I was in one of the last rounds, neither Mom or I made it to the finals, but it's always still fun to play. One change in the last year or so that I don't like is that they time the tournaments now. I was watching the woman's machine next to me and because hers was a little slower resetting, she didn't get as many spins as I did. I think they should go back to the 100 (or whatever) set amount of spins, it just seems a little more fair. We headed for lunch, guess what we had... that's right! Mongolian Grill one last time. And as expected, it was again delicious. We went and played bingo after lunch, another loss, so we went to look for our pictures. After a long search we found them, they had a sale on albums and being a sucker for a good deal, we bought a couple.It was that time of day, too early to eat again, haha, so we went to the cabin grabbed another bucket of beer, read a little and took a cat-nap. That evening we discovered we were going to need another bag for all of our new goodies, as my beach bag from the $10 shop wasn't going to cut it. A quick trip to the Galleria shops, and we had a new rolling travel bag, flip flops and some make-up. I started the sad process of packing up the luggage, how did I get all this crap in here to begin with??? We got the checked luggage out into the hall, and went up to the Lido for the last trip to the buffet. Tonight they had the braised short ribs on the buffet as well as lamb, both were very good. We did a lap up on the outer decks, cashed in whatever we have left on our Sail and Sign cards from the casino, and headed off to the cabin. But what's this? Another surprise! Chocolate covered strawberries from the Behind the Fun tour, yummy! Stayed up late finishing up packing and reading, had our last bottle of champagne with a room service grilled cheese (classy, I know, haha) and drifted off one last time in those comfortable Carnival beds.Debarkation:NOOOOOO!!! This day is the biggest bummer, we try to make the most of it, and are never in a rush to get off the ship. We used to be those people that tried to carry everything off, and used our VIP status to be first off the ship. Then one day we realized how silly that was, I mean who wants to hurry to get OFF the ship? I want to be the last to get off! We went up to the MDR for breakfast this morning, eggs benedict (which by the way, they did have on the breakfast buffet one of the mornings) and bacon, and look! A couple of extra pieces of bacon to boot! We lingered around in there until about 9am and then went back to the cabin. Since we were on the Empress deck, and in the forward part of the ship, we were right by the gangway to debark. We waited until they called for the people in zone 1 with checked bags and left our cabin and towel animal zoo one last time. Debarking in Galveston can be a pain if you don't know what you're doing, so here's my advice. Grab a porter, and have your passport. Once we were off the ship we were out of the doors of the port in about 20 minutes. The people pulling their own bags had a line a mile long, and even worse if you were using a birth certificate rather than a passport. Onto the bus, and in the car I took one last look at the ship and the post-cruise depression set in. There was zero traffic, so we were home and doing laundry in no time.Final Thoughts:After the initial disappointment that Steve Cassell wasn't going to be our CD this trip, we were very pleased with Danny Ghilarducci. He was well spoken, not overbearing and entertaining. The bingo host Gary was also a lot of fun, we enjoyed playing bingo with him, even if we didn't win. "COME ON GARY!" We had beautiful weather the entire trip, and smooth seas. There was a live reggae band on the Lido sometimes during the day. I'm really not seeing the lack of live entertainment to be as bad as has been reported in the past few months. Picking up liquor purchased in ports in a designated lounge area, not a big deal. Ours was in the Stripes disco. All the booze was grouped by what deck you were on, and we were in and out of there in about 10 minutes, totally painless. The Ecstasy turned 20 years old this year (in April actually I think) and she is aging beautifully. There was always cleaning, painting, mopping going on somewhere on the ship. There is a reason why she wins the Crystal Eagle award repeatedly, she is a true gem in the Carnival fleet.If you have any questions for me ask away, I'm sure there are things I left out too, so if I think of anything else I'll add it in another post. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2011
We are fresh off the ship from 5 wonderful nights on the Ecstasy. Our cabin was a tight squeeze for our family of 5, but it was manageable. Our cabin steward was wonderful. Fresh ice was always in the bucket, and we came home to a ... Read More
We are fresh off the ship from 5 wonderful nights on the Ecstasy. Our cabin was a tight squeeze for our family of 5, but it was manageable. Our cabin steward was wonderful. Fresh ice was always in the bucket, and we came home to a different precious towel animal every evening after dinner. My 15 year old son and 7 year old daughter spent every minute they could in their respective Carnival Camp groups. My 13 year old son did not go to the ice breakers the first day, and by the time he got up his nerve to attend something, he felt left out. In the real world he is normally a very social kid. I would really encourage (force) (: your children to get involved in the very first activity on day one of the cruise. It makes a huge difference in how much fun they will have. All 5 of us ate our dinner every night at the late seating in the Windsong dining room. The food was surprisingly good and we were treated like royalty by our waitstaff. I felt sorry for people who did not take the time to eat in the dining rooms. It was a bit of a hassle to have an assigned dining time, but a major part of the overall great experience. Read Less
Carnival Ecstasy Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 0.0
Dining 3.5 0.0
Entertainment 4.0 0.0
Public Rooms 4.0 0.0
Fitness Recreation 3.5 0.0
Family 3.5 0.0
Shore Excursion 4.5 0.0
Enrichment 2.5 0.0
Service 4.5 0.0
Value For Money 5.0 0.0
Rates N/A 0.0

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