10 Houston to Caribbean - Western Carnival Ecstasy Cruise Reviews

This was our second cruise. First one was on Rhapsody of the Seas in Nov 2006, so we had something with which to compare. We drove from our home near Austin Tx to Houston the day before staying at the LaQuinta in LaPorte Texas. It was ... Read More
This was our second cruise. First one was on Rhapsody of the Seas in Nov 2006, so we had something with which to compare. We drove from our home near Austin Tx to Houston the day before staying at the LaQuinta in LaPorte Texas. It was recently damaged by Hurricane Ike, but had been repaired and is a nice property. We arranged lodging through AARP and got a decent rate. For the money it was a comfortable room and the staff was friendly and welcoming. We were disappointed when CLL called advising us not to arrive at the Bayport Terminal until 530 pm as the ship was delayed returning from its previous run. We checked out at noon, and decided to run down to Bayport to check things out. The people there were very accommodating, allowing us to check our luggage at that time. so when we did arrive to board, it would all be taken care of. We killed time doing some sightseeing, then arrived at the terminal about 3. We were able to park and were able to go through security check and wait for our zone to be called to board CCL provided box lunches and water. We were glad we arrived earlier than CCL told us as by 5:30 it was a real madhouse. Embarkation went very smoothly and we were in our stateroom about 10 mins after our zone was called. Luggage was there. so we decided to tour the ship a bit before dinner. Dining room service was excellent as were the dishes served and the choices available. Lido Buffet was so so at times, although there were some bright spots. Lots of ice cream and desserts and the fruit and salad bars were always fresh and tasty. Our stateroom was very nice, a category 6C on the Upper deck. Smaller than the one we had on Rhapsody, but very comfortable. The new bedding is fantastic, so much so that We're thinking of purchasing a mattress and box spring set. Nice robes in the room ( yes I bought one) but the big plus about the room we the cabin steward. "Paul", his nickname, a young man from Indonesia was fantastic. Anticipated our needs before we asked. Made great towel animals and was very accommodating. Entertainment was spectacular The shows were truly professional quality. It's worth the price of the cruise just for the entertainment. The Ecstasy dancers were phenomenal and the two lead singers were very good, very versatile. To us, the star of the cruise was the cruise director, Steve Cassel. This guy, apart from being very personable, is an amazing talent. He juggles, has an amazing sense of humor, but what really amazed us was his musical talent. A violinist, he is equally adept at Vivaldi as he is Charlie Daniels. We had never been to Progreso before, and had read good and bad reviews on CC. Interesting little town. Take the double decker bus for a couple of bucks to get the layout. We didn't do much. just walked down the beach and took pictures. Had a very nice lunch at Buddy's. We highly recommend the food and atmosphere, and of course 2 for $5 'rita's didn't hurt either. We were welcomed warmly. The negative part was we were bothered by locals coming to our table pushing trinkets, but a quick word to the waiter ended that. We had been to Cozumel before, but only partook in an excursion. This trip we took a cab to town ($6 for both of us) looked around then walked the 5 miles back to the ship. A nice walk though as there is much to see and the road follows the beach. All in all it was a great cruise experience, and our first on Carnival. To us there is no such thing as a bad cruise. We got what we paid for and for the most part it exceeded all our expectations. Now we're in a quandary as to what to do next. We plan on taking our adult children next time and for the money this may be the best option. Now that Galveston is open again and Bayport, still in its infancy, will be expanding, there will hopefully be lots of cruise options going out of Texas. Read Less
Sail Date October 2008
First time to cruise,wife and I went for her 40th birthday. Let me say this, I read alot of reviews about this ship and cruise before I left, even if I had not I would have known what to expect. Look at the price of this cruise ... Read More
First time to cruise,wife and I went for her 40th birthday. Let me say this, I read alot of reviews about this ship and cruise before I left, even if I had not I would have known what to expect. Look at the price of this cruise compared to others. Where else can you go to a different country,get away for 5 days, have lodging, food,shows and for $27.50 get unlimited drinks on a boat that floats for around $527.50 :) Could the ship be done over to look like it was just built? Yes Would you be able to go on a cruise for 5 days for around $500, if it looked like that? No. Bayport Terminal Embarkation: We got there early and breezed right through the security lines,then came the wait,because the ship got there late. I`m a very impatient person or I thought I was. :) The wait was not bad because I chose to watch people that were more impatient than me, it was great, my wife always says I'm so impatient this was my time to point out how lucky she is to have me. :) I`m glad we got there early because the lines after a while were very long for security check point. Had the ship been on time we would`ve been on in no time. Entertainment:The shows were good. Shore Excursions: We did beginners dive in Cozumel.It was inexpensive and awesome. Activities: The gym was cool with a great view of ocean while working out.Cool lil track to run around. Putt-putt golf, basketball, and volleyball courts. Courts are small, we were able to play one-on-one volleyball, probably enough to play 2 on 2 comfortably. Casino: I play poker,not into slots or playing games were odds are so low. The automated poker table is very cool,you play against real humans not the computer, but the game is ran by a computer therefore it can be programmed by humans. The ship makes it money by taking a rake(money from pot after each hand.)The more money in pot,the more money the boat makes. 65% or a little more of the flops seemed to show flush or straight draws and two pair or 2 of a kind will show up.It doesn`t program the winner just the way the type of cards come out on the flop. (Straight draws, Flush draws, 2 pair,or a straight and flush draw with 2 of a kind on flop.) It`s not real poker, but if you hit on flop you almost have to go on all-in to keep from getting rivered. DO NOT SLOW PLAY UNLESS YOU HAVE 5 of a kind. Progresso: All I can say is cheap massages. $15 for 45 minutes,they are not licensed and it`s not the kind you get in Spa but less painful and more relaxing to me. Dining: We ate in main dining twice it was really good food and the waiter was great. Rooms: very big considering there`s like 50 billion lil interior rooms. :) cool animal towels. Disembarkation: To get off faster only bring on,what you can take off by yourself. We just laid in bed watching TV and waited until they call our zone number, don`t wait by disembarkation area thinking you are going to get off first,they go by zones,so just relax and wait for your zone to be called. We went on 10-18-08 Read Less
Sail Date October 2008
The Oct. 18th sailing was my 2nd time on the Ecstasy and 10th Carnival sailing. As usual, Carnival gave me a good vacation and a very good value for my money. I did not arrive at the Bayport Terminal until 11:30 and it was quite congested ... Read More
The Oct. 18th sailing was my 2nd time on the Ecstasy and 10th Carnival sailing. As usual, Carnival gave me a good vacation and a very good value for my money. I did not arrive at the Bayport Terminal until 11:30 and it was quite congested as the ship was three hours late in arriving. There was a line to get into the terminal and even a longer line to get through security. I was disappointed with embarkation as I should have been in the 1st group to board after the Bridal Party but this didn't happen. When I finally stepped onto the ship, I proceeded to my cabin and found it clean, cool and comfortable. I was surprised and a little disappointed that the muster drill took so long. What should have taken 15-20 minutes took 45 minutes. I had late seating in the Windstar Dining Room and my dining room team were very friendly and efficient throughout the cruise. I found the food to be very good, for the most part, with the prime rib on the 2nd night excellent. Good entertainment throughout the ship on this sailing as well. I did not do any shore excursions as I've been to Cozumel many times and this was my 3rd time to Progreso. I found the quality of the food on the Lido Deck to be good to very good and tried something different every day. The cheeseburgers and deli sandwiches were two of my favorites. Very good service from my cabin steward and his assistant who brought me extra ice every day. I was disappointed with debarkation. I should have been the 1st group off the ship but at least two other groups were debarking at the same time. The lines at customs were disorganized. There were no lines separating U.S. Citizens from Non-U.S. Citizens so it took much longer to clear customs than it should have. Fortunately, Carnival will be moving both of their ships back to Galveston this coming weekend; and I look forward to sailing on the Conquest Nov. 30th. Read Less
Sail Date October 2008
Our trip started out well. We arranged a flyin/cruise package with the Springhill Suites. We arrived at Hobby, got picked up, spent the night, had a good breakfast, a quick rest and than Coach USA sent a private driver to pick us up at the ... Read More
Our trip started out well. We arranged a flyin/cruise package with the Springhill Suites. We arrived at Hobby, got picked up, spent the night, had a good breakfast, a quick rest and than Coach USA sent a private driver to pick us up at the hotel. Bayport Cruise Terminal is a 81 million dollar joke. It is in the middle of nowhere, has very little parking and thank goodness we had a driver or we would have never found it. It is too small for even a small ship like the Ecstacy. Embarkation: the worst we have had in the 10+ cruises we have been on. It started with the line of passengers snaking more than 300 long to get into the building. The people outside directing traffic had the line snaking around the shade and into the sun. Only AFTER we had gone through did they move the line into the shade. Fortunately it was a nice, not to humid day. When we get inside the building they have three security lines set up, but only two in use. This caused the delay in getting into the embarkation building. After going through security this is where the real fun began. The sign for boarding the ship and the sign to check-in where pointing the same direction. We followed the check-in sign and were escorted to sit in groups of about 30 passengers. We saw some groups, that were there less time being escorted into line. We saw people go around the security and right into line. We sat there until someone finally asked us why we were not in line. He than got us up and we started walking into the check-in line. At that time a "senior" member ask us what we were doing and that we had to wait for our turn and where was our embarkation number. This is were I lost my cool and started to complain about the mess that they had. Even the guy who escorted us up did not know what they were doing and he told the "senior" guy that he was doing what he was told to do. I finally got through to the "senior" guy that we belonged in line and he sarcastically said to me "have a good day, sir." After another long line to get our cruise cards I went and apologized to him for losing my cool. Ok, now on to the ship and hopefully better things. The Ecstasy is showing her age. The carpet needs to be replaced everywhere. I did not like that the elevators deck buttons did not have deck numbers, only deck names. Many cruisers rode up and down the elevators not knowing what deck they were on. Our cabin steward missed our cabin the first night, but did a great job after that. He had some really interesting and new towel creations that we had not seen before. Food: Much improved in the main dining room since our sailing on the Sensation 12 years ago. Our waiter and assistant waiter were great and service was as good as any other ship we have been on. Our waiter's recommendations were right on. I can't say as good things about the buffet. There were some good items, the cheeseburgers and onion rings were great. The pizza was not bad and the morning omelets were good, but there were only two chefs for a ship this size and it made it slow going. Entertainment: Our cruise director Steve, was a multi-talented hoot. He was a real geeky looking guy, but was funny and played a mean fiddle. He should stick to the fiddle, because he really can't sing. We watched one of the stage shows with a really funny comedian and the singers and dancers. The comedian was so funny that we decided to see his "R" rated show the next night and he really was not that funny at "R" rated stuff as he was at regular comedy. My wife fell asleep at the second stage show, which was ok, so we never went to see any of the other stage shows. The casino was the smallest of any of the cruises we have been on and the tightest of any. I don't expect to win, but I would like to get value for my entertainment dollar and that casino was not fun. They must be supplementing cruise fares with the casino. Ports of Call: Cozumel is Cozumel. We have been there so many times that all we do now is shop. I don't mind, I grab a few $1.00 cervezas and I am a happy camper. Progresso, on the other hand, is not dock accessible. You have to drive off the pier for about two miles to get into town. We went on an excursion to Chitzen Itza, which is a 2 1/2 drive each was for only about 2 hours time there. My wife still raves about seeing the pyramid, so I call that a success. Debarkation was a lot smoother than embarkation. We were off the ship within a couple of hour of arrival. I was glad we did not spend too much on this trip. It just was not up to snuff. Read Less
Sail Date October 2008
Embarkation: This was the final cruise from Houston before this ship was to return to Ike-battered Galveston, and misgivings started early. Two days ahead of the departure date, we received a "robot call," telling us that the ... Read More
Embarkation: This was the final cruise from Houston before this ship was to return to Ike-battered Galveston, and misgivings started early. Two days ahead of the departure date, we received a "robot call," telling us that the departure time would be delayed and not to arrive at the port until after 1:30 p.m. Then, the day before departure, we received another call that informed us of further delay and not to arrive at the port until after 5:30 p.m. Meanwhile, our travel agent was informed that the ship would depart at 4:00 p.m. as originally planned. Needless to say, chaos was the name of the game, since hundreds of people who had not received notice of any delay arrived at noon or earlier, and when we showed up at 4:15 p.m.,it looked like early voting in Florida. Ultimately, at about 6:05 p.m., we staggered onto the ship, found our cabin and assuming that it was too late for our 6:00 p.m. dinner schedule, went to the buffet for sustenance. (It turned out that we could have gone to the dining room after all, but no one told us this.) Dining Room: The food here was very good and plentiful. The service was questionable very slowly, forgetting to bring ordered courses (soups, salads, etc.); no attempt at friendliness by the staff ... more of the sense of "let's just get this over with" and smile every once in a while. Breakfasts were well served ... but again, there was such a sense of hurry .. hurry ... hurry ... for instance, egg dishes brought to the table while we were still eating cereal. Buffet: As veterans of 39 cruises, we have many sources for comparison; and this buffet ranked 39/39. The food unappetizing, with little variety .. and since some items were served at a food bar on the deck, trying to "mix and match" just meant that some food was colder than the rest. The one bright spot was the deli counter which could be used as an alternative. Cabin: Very nice and spacious with a friendly steward who didn't speak much English, so we didn't communicate much, either. Overall: It was OK .. we relaxed for five days .. and we kept our sense of humor ... Read Less
Sail Date October 2008
First a little about ourselves this was the 2nd cruise for me Sharon 45 and my husband David 48 and the 1st for our sons Matt 24 and Skott 16. David's sister Jonna and her husband John also went on the cruise. Our first cruise was ... Read More
First a little about ourselves this was the 2nd cruise for me Sharon 45 and my husband David 48 and the 1st for our sons Matt 24 and Skott 16. David's sister Jonna and her husband John also went on the cruise. Our first cruise was on the Conquest Oct 06 on that one me, David, Jonna and John went. We all had such a good time we still talk about how much fun we had on our first cruise that we wanted our kids to see what we were talking about. I booked our cruise about 1 ½ years in advance, the price was good and I got in before the fuel surcharge so that was good. The price of this cruise was about ½ of what we paid for the Conquest, and as I said this cruise was for Matt & Skott to experience a cruise. I booked 2 inside guarantee rooms, and we were assigned M16 & M20. I checked the deck plan on the Carnival website and noticed M16 lays differently than the other rooms, so I thought it would be the better room. When I booked they put me & Skott together and David & Matt together, I believe to get the past guest rate on both rooms so I knew I would need to go to the information desk and get our rooms changed. And since I paid for the cruise I thought M16 would be a sweet room since it has a different layout so I made sure David and I were in M16, turns out M16 has a pole in the room about 8-10 inches in front of the dresser. When we first went into the room there was only about 6 inches to walk between the pole, bed & dresser. David and I moved the nightstands around and pushed the bed up against the wall so we had more room to walk around the pole. Lesson learned look at your rooms before going to the information desk to make changes and don't try to screw your kids over! Lol We left Springfield, MO at 5:30 am and met John & Jonna at a truck stop on I-44 so we could meet up and travel together. We ate breakfast and was back on the road around 6:30. We made several stops along the way and reached our hotel in La Porte TX at the La Quinta Inn at around 5:30 pm. It was a comfortable hotel, there were still lots of families living there due to hurricane Ike. Sunday morning we went to the Sylvan Beach, the pier was badly damaged but John, Matt & Skott were able to fish from the shore. John really wanted to try to catch a crab, which he did so he was happy. Then David, Matt Skott and I went to the Houston Space Center, that was really interesting, I didn't think I would enjoy it but it was good. Then we went to the Aquarium downtown that was really cool. Then we went to bed knowing tomorrow we would be starting the cruise, but the whole weekend had felt like vacation already! Before we left on Friday evening I had received a call from Carnival informing us the ship would be late arriving and not to go to the cruise terminal until 3pm. And I had planned on being there at 10:30 so I could have lunch on the Lido deck. We had to check out of our room at noon, so we drove to the cruise terminal and the Ecstasy wasn't there. We called John & Jonna to see where they were and they were in Kemah, so we met up with them in Kemah and went to The Burger House for lunch, they have great burgers. By this time it was around 2:00 so we went back to the cruise terminal the ship was there this time but they told us to come back at 4:00 so we went back to Kemah and looked around the super Target and went to the Dollar Tree. Then it was 4:00 so we went back to the cruise terminal and yeah they were letting us park. Previously on our 2nd trip to the cruise terminal they let us drop our luggage off. So now we were in line to go through security. I remember looking at my watch at one point and it was about 5:30pm I have no idea what time we actually got on board and what time the ship left, I think we started sailing around 7 or 7:15. We didn't have to do the muster drill until the next day Tuesday at 10:00. When we first got onboard I went to the information desk to put cash on our accounts and to get our rooms switched. It was getting dark when I made it out on deck to see us sailing away from the cruise terminal, which I totally missed on our first cruise and wanted to be on deck for sail away on this cruise. Which I kind of was. The weather was a little cooler than I would have liked so I didn't stay outside very long. I watched the cruise terminal get a little further away then went inside knowing we had finally began our cruise!! We walked around for a little while showing Matt & Skott where the food was, they were amazed you could get pizza and sandwich whenever you wanted. I think Skott tried about every sandwich, even the Rueben, which he didn't care for because he hates sauerkraut. We didn't eat in the dining room except for elegant night, we ate at the buffets and pizzeria and sandwich shop. Skott had originally planned on spending a lot of time in the pool but because it was so chilly he never made it in the pool. He went in the hot tub once or twice. One night David, me, Matt, John & Jonna all got in the hot tub, this was another thing I wanted to make sure to do on this cruise that I didn't do on our first. I thought the Ecstasy was very easy to find your way around. We didn't make it to any of the shows. We caught the late night comedian show and he was really funny. We went to the casino a few times and donated a little money. We watched a little karaoke that was fun there were some very good singers, and some not so much, but they had the guts to get up there so more power to them. Wednesday we went to Progreso, we got off the ship around 9:30 and we shopped, rode the double decker bus, went to the beach then walked around a little and shopped a little more then it was about time to head back to the ship. I wish the weather had been a little nicer we really couldn't enjoy the beach it was cloudy and windy. Thursday we went to Cozumel finally the sun was shining!! We got off the ship around 9 and took a taxi to the Tequila factory tour then went to Play Uvas Skott and I did the snorkeling that was awesome, it was like being in an aquarium there were so many fish, Skott didn't enjoy it as much he kept getting the saltwater in his mouth! Then we went to Margaritaville so we could have a cheeseburger in paradise for lunch and get some Margaritaville shirts, then we went shopping first we went to the Hard Rock Cafe so David could get a t-shirt and key ring, Skott and I wanted to shop so David & Matt drank a beer at the Hard Rock and Skott and I shopped we found what we were looking for in the first 3 shops we went to and was heading back to Hard Rock and David & Matt had just came out so we caught a taxi back to the port. Friday was a fun day at sea and it was sunny and the ship wasn't rocking as much as it had Monday night and Tuesday so we really enjoyed our time on the deck. This was Halloween and some people woke up and put their costumes on, we waited until around 7:30pm. Matt was a bottle of beer, Skott had bought a Mexican wrestling mask so he wore that and a black cape he brought from home, not really sure what he was but he was having fun, David & I was Fred & Wilma Flintstone. David & I were selected to compete in the costume contest so we got to go up on stage, we didn't win but we were excited about being selected. There were a lot of really good costumes. Sadly this was our last day of the cruise I think it was around midnight David & I went out and set on the Lido deck until about 12:30 then I was tired and wanted to go to bed. And I forgot we went on the Lido deck for the smoking cigars with the captain, we got our pictures taken with the captain, then there was the deck party and Mexican buffet, David and I were the only ones in our group who stayed awake for this. It was a fun time, I didn't make it too long, just long enough to get some food and took it to our room and I ate and went to bed! Disembarkation was pretty painless we put our luggage out the night before and waited for our number to be called we were #21, I think it was around 11 when we were told we could leave, I think it was around 11:45 when we were getting in our car for the lovely 12 hour drive home! All in all we had a wonderful vacation Skott and Matt really enjoyed themselves, when we got back home Skott was looking at the different ships on Carnivals website and he's already talking about our next cruise. When we first got home he thought it stunk you just couldn't walk to the back of the house and get pizza!! I'm still looking for my room steward my house needs straightened up and there is no buffet lines here at home, I have to cook everything myself Read Less
Sail Date October 2008
My husband and I book this cruise on the Sunday prior to the departure, so it was a very last minute thing. The price was too good to pass up. We did the 5 day on the Ecstasy last year and it was awesome. We were a little let down with ... Read More
My husband and I book this cruise on the Sunday prior to the departure, so it was a very last minute thing. The price was too good to pass up. We did the 5 day on the Ecstasy last year and it was awesome. We were a little let down with this cruise, but still had a great time. We made it to Houston around 10:30 and were on the ship by 12:30. We had lunch then went to take a nap. We were late leaving Houston, I am not sure why. Someone told us engine problems, but we never heard anything for sure. They announced Friday morning that we would be going to Progresso instead of Cozumel due to the late departure from Houston. They said they wanted to make sure that we had a full day in port. That was fine with us. We have been to both places last year and enjoyed both. That evening we got a letter under our door that stated that there was a large group on board that were having a wedding in Cozumel, so we would go to Cozumel arriving at 12:30. Well, we traveled through some heavy rain and were finally off the ship at 2:30 and had to be back on board at 6:30. This would also cause us to be late back to Houston on Monday. That did not leave a lot of time to do much but that was OK. I was really surprised that they opted to go to Cozumel for the benefit of one particular party, but we really didn't care. We just walked around in the shops near the port and returned to the ship early. The thing that disappointed us was the room service. Last year it was great. This time every time we ordered it took 1 hour to 1 hour and 45 minutes to get our order. My husband ordered cheese cake and the whipped cream was literally melted. His shrimp sandwich tasted spoiled as well. On the last day of the cruise, we waited so long for our breakfast that we finally gave up and just went to the lido deck for breakfast. We really enjoyed the breakfast up there even more than in the dining room. I was also a little disappointed in the menu changes, but I am sure they are trying to keep it interesting for those who cruise often. Last year we had a suite and I wondered if that is why we had better service. I am not sure. I would still recommend this cruise. I just hope they get back to Galveston soon. It is an easier drive in my opinion. Another thing that I forgot is that the entertainers were much better this cruise. We really enjoyed the shows. Steve Cassell was incredible on the fiddle! We also met some really nice ladies working in the jewelry store. They were very helpful and shared a lot of interesting information about the countries they are from. We made it back to Houston about 12:30 PM. We were on our way home by about 3:00. Over all it was a nice, relaxing trip. However, if I had paid what I paid for last year's cruise, I would be disappointed. Read Less
Sail Date September 2008
This is my first hurricane season cruise, and I'm still trying to decide if it was a leap of faith or an act of foolishness to book for September. But, it all managed to come together, and this turned out to be my best cruise on ... Read More
This is my first hurricane season cruise, and I'm still trying to decide if it was a leap of faith or an act of foolishness to book for September. But, it all managed to come together, and this turned out to be my best cruise on Carnival. Great crew, a nice group of passengers, and a beautiful ship that does a hell of a job of disguising its age. GETTING THERE - EMBARKATION - THE FIRST DAY For the first few days after Ike slammed into Galveston, we were left guessing what port the Ecstasy would use or if it would sail at all, although that was pretty small stuff, compared to what a lot of coastal residents were dealing with (easier to re-book a cruise than to rebuild a home). Then, when we found out we were to sail from Bayport, there was the matter of finding 4700 Cruise Road on Mapquest. Fortunately Carnival and the Port of Houston corrected that situation, with maps and directions. Getting there was pretty easy, and the Port of Houston had helped, with some strategically posted directional signs. The Bayport Terminal is a truly nice facility, and I hope that another ship or two will call it home after Carnival moves back to Galveston. Port personnel were all friendly and helpful, and embarkation went as smoothly as any I've experienced. Keep in mind that this was exactly a week after Ike, and that the Port of Houston and Carnival had only a few days to get Bayport ready for this sailing. And who knows how many employees had to spend their off time recovering possessions from damaged homes. Hats off to you all. You guys rose to the occasion. Big time. I usually would not write about a lifeboat drill, but our group was lucky; we were led by Byron, the entertainment director, who's quite the entertainer in his own right. He did what I thought was impossible; he made the often dreaded drill a fun experience. CABINS AND PUBLIC ROOMS The Ecstasy got a makeover after it's post-Katrina assignment with FEMA. Cabins got new carpet and furnishings, including new mattresses and flat-screen TVs. Public spaces appeared fresh, up-to-date, and in good repair. DINING The food, unfortunately, was a mixed bag. On three occasions (two on the first day) I got meat so tough I had to discard it in favor of something more tender. At dinner the first evening, my strip steak was lacking in tenderness and flavor, and missing the advertised three-peppercorn sauce. On a more positive note, the food was always presented attractively and the desserts exquisite. Our waitstaff team was one of the best I've encountered on any cruise. The buffet was generally good, although I wish Carnival would add another casual dining venue. Maybe that would help eliminate the mob-like atmosphere at the buffet lines and salad bars. One positive change from my previous cruise: Carnival has finally eliminated, from the breakfast buffet, those little Tater Tot wannabes, that always had the texture and taste of cardboard. Real hash browns were nice, for a change. Now, if we could get a waffle station. ENTERTAINMENT Both stage shows were quite good, although I thought the female lead vocalist a stronger performer than the male lead (sorry, I thew away my Carnival Capers, and I don't recall their names). Lounge entertainment was generally good, and karaoke night always a hoot. Brad, the cruise director, was always entertaining, even during the debarkation briefing. SINGLES This won't apply to many of you, as most cruisers are couples, but I believe cruise lines need to do a much better job of getting single cruisers aboard, and then sponsoring more activities than just one singles get-together. On the first day, a mature singles meetup was scheduled for 11:30 p. m., at the piano bar. Unless I missed something, I was the only one there. Suggestion: schedule it for another day. People have been driving or flying all day, and some may opt for an earlier bedtime. SHOPPING Shopping on Carnival has not changed much since my last cruise, although I was disappointed to see that there were no ceramic coffee mugs (I try to get on one every cruise). Shopping's a personal thing, but I do have one recommendation: buy a bottle of Sheridan's Coffee Layered Liqueur. It's like nothing you've ever tasted, and it's not yet available in the United States. (And if you don't drink, pick up a bottle for me.) CASINO I do believe I discovered the tightest slots on land or sea. Oh well; maybe it'll help keep cruise fares low. PORTS OF CALL This was my third time to dock at Cozumel, and I decided not to do a shore excursion. Instead, my brother and I took a cab downtown, and worked our back as far as Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville Cafe, before taking a cab back to the boat. At Margaritaville, we were introduced to the ritual of a cocktail waitress tossing a shot of liquor down your throat, blowing a whistle, shaking your head from side to side, and then giving you a back massage. Never did find out what kind of liquor was in the shot glass. I'd planned on taking the Uxmal tour out of Progresso, but that trip didn't draw enough takers, so Carnival cancelled it. Instead, I made a quick trip to Progresso that afternoon. In case you're not familiar, Progresso sits at the end of a six-mile pier. A collection of shops and cantinas line the area where the ship is docked, and one can take a shuttle bus into town. I did, and stayed little more than an hour. To me, Progresso had all the charm of Nuevo Laredo, but with more water and fewer shootings. I'd strongly suggest Carnival drop this place as a port of call. DEBARKATION Sorry, but I can't pull out the old "all's well that ends well" cliche here. Debarkation seemed to have gone on forever, and we didn't leave the parking lot at Bayport until after noon. Part of that was my fault, for carrying a clunky piece of luggage with bad wheels. But most of the delay was due to a problem with the gangway, which delayed the whole process for several minutes. And, a few more porters would've been nice. ALL IN ALL Despite some glitches here and some disappointments there, this was one of the best cruises of the five I've taken. Get a new meat supplier, loosen the slots a little, dump Progresso, and the next one will be even better. Read Less
Sail Date September 2008
Where to begin......after taking 3 or 4 days to find out if the ship was sailing, since Galveston was not an option, everything else went just fine before leaving port. Food - most of the dining room experience I would classify as not ... Read More
Where to begin......after taking 3 or 4 days to find out if the ship was sailing, since Galveston was not an option, everything else went just fine before leaving port. Food - most of the dining room experience I would classify as not the best. The food was only adequate, but the waiters in Windsong were pretty good. The dining room was too cold, so we had to change our dining attire and then were fine. Room - was very comfortable. The staff was very friendly and we had GREAT towel animals on the bed every night. Entertainment - We had more fun up on the pool deck than I thought possible. Nearly every day was fun with the swimming and dancing going on around the pool. The slide was great and the hot tub was HOT. Got stuck in the piano bar every night because of Bob and his wait staff. Lots of singing and dancing, could even sing along with a mike if you wanted too. The 4 waitresses were outstanding. Very fast with ordering and serving. They were always smiling and friendly. We wanted to do some of the other shows but could not tell ourselves we would have more fun somewhere else. At sea - was our first cruise, so I'm not sure if we had good sailing weather or not. Most days were rocky on the boat. Not too bad most of the time, you just had to deal with it. Debarkation - did the self assist and were very surprised at how easy the procedure was. The line to get off the boat was long but moved fast. Read Less
Sail Date September 2008
Just back: CARNIVAL-ECSTASY- Review (1-27-07/2-1/07): Arrival in Houston: We arrived at Houston International Airport a bit late, but were able to get to the rental car shuttle quickly to be taken to the main rental-car terminal. Got our ... Read More
Just back: CARNIVAL-ECSTASY- Review (1-27-07/2-1/07): Arrival in Houston: We arrived at Houston International Airport a bit late, but were able to get to the rental car shuttle quickly to be taken to the main rental-car terminal. Got our car with no problems we had reserved from Enterprise Rental. In fact...to our pleasure we received an upgrade and a sporty red car to use to drive down to Galveston. The drive down from Houston to Galveston was a breeze.....almost low flying in fact...with me trying to keep up with the traffic.I had to slow down cause the speed limit was 70....but then I was passed constantly by everyone. Seems that part of the interstate is left alone by the highway patrol...no one got pulled over and most of the cars were doing at least 85 mph! We got to Galveston and Enterprise's driver took us to the cruise terminal. I want to say that Enterprise did a VERY good job for us. In fact we were not charged the $40.00 'different drop-off fee' leaving our rental in Galveston instead of returning it to Houston. This happened on our other trip also, so I am not sure if we were just lucky again...or they just waiver that charge all the time. We were told we would have to pay it by the phone reservations operator when I made reservations, which is common and acceptable. We had used them before on our previous cruise and will do so again. I highly recommend Enterprise Car Rental Service. Embarkation: We both completed the Fun Pass online...but everyone was told to stand in the same line, so this slowed things down a bit. The line was long by the time we arrived at the terminal around noon and we didn't get on the ship till after 1:00 PM. I do want to mention that in the Carnival terminal waiting area for the Ecstasy...they do not offer to pax any drinks/juice/refreshments of any kind. I would not expect this normally, but with our last RCCL cruise...they did serve those in the waiting area. A nice beginning while waiting for our cruise with RCCL. Cabin: We got on the Ecstasy and headed for our 2 cabins....getting lost along the way. Our cabins were on the Rivera Deck: R26 & R20. We had booked 2, 1A cat. originally with bunkbeds, but with price drops we were upgraded to 2, 5A cat. cabins with 2 porthole windows. To view photos of our cabins, check out my photo online album. The link to it will be listed below with my signature. My cabin was very large, being 185-sq. ft. with twin beds that can make into a queen bed. New flat screen TV is mounted in the corner of one wall, with a half shelf under it. A small end table between the beds, one standard chair (not an armchair) with another small end table beside the chair. 3 closets with a safe and shelving in one closet., 2 terry-cloth robes are in the far closet with extra blankets and pillows. A medium size vanity table with a stool with plenty of drawer storage and a large lighted mirror above the vanity. The bathroom was REALLY large compared to RCCL's cabins, with a shower that had plenty of room to even shave my legs in! No medicine cabinet, but a nice shelf along the entire length of the mirror/sink area with small storage under the sink area. Plenty of towels every day...twice a day if used during the morning...replaced in the evening during 'turn down' service. The 2 portholes are within 1 window frame and the area between the wall and porthole is recessed, thus allowing me to be able to climb into this recess area and sit by the portholes to look outside. It was a nice area to sit stretched out with pillows behind and under me to drink my hot tea in the mornings watching the ocean waves ripple by. Curtains shut over the entire window area...and do keep out the light pretty well. The beds were fine, however, my DF had to ask for 2 coverlets to be placed under her sheets for added softness. She did have back pains throughout the cruise. I slept fine on my bed with only 1 coverlet under my sheets. The location of our cabin was the lowest pax deck and I did not experience any engine noise or vibrations at all. Panorama Bar and Grill Buffet: My DF and I made our way to the Lido deck for the buffet in Panorama Bar and Grill for lunch after arrival. This buffet dinning room is spread out in 5 separate areas. The main food is in a wrapped bar with hot foods when you first enter. Drink bar is located midway within the dinning area with the salad/fruit bar in the middle of the buffet dinning room. In the very back is the deli/pizza/cocktail bar. The dessert bar is more toward the back center area. I found getting to all these different areas quite a challenge due to getting around the crowds and going to so many separate locations for different foods/drinks. By the time I sat down, half my food was cold because the 1st line/food bar you have to stand in when you enter the buffet is for the hot food. We only ate in the buffet 3 times in all. We opt to have lunch and breakfast in the main dinning room thereafter. The buffet was such a 'zoo' with so many pax we did not enjoy our meals in there at all. However, I do want to mention that the Ruben Sandwiches are very good, but waiting for it can be VERY long....even after waiting in the other lines for other food items to eat with it added to that wait. The chairs/benches are made of hard-molded plastic and not very comfortable in the buffet, but there are nice seating areas right outside on the back end and side of the ship with nice tables and chairs to eat at while watching the ocean. Of course you can take your food out to the pool-deck area also, which would be much more comfortable and less crowded than in the inside dinning area. The food we had was typical buffet food...nothing special. Muster Drill: The Muster drill was held in the Blue Sapphire Lounge. It took a long time because of waiting for late pax to straggle in. After lengthy instructions we were taken outside to the lifeboats, which our area would use in an emergency, which increased the time to make the drill even longer. The crew were professional and tried to get everyone to pay attention to the instructions...which in some cases was a miracle in itself for those who have had a few too many 'drinks of the day' specials already before the drill. ***Please be considerate and be at your muster station on time. Hundreds of pax are waiting for you to show up before they can begin and would rather get the drill over with as soon as possible to start having FUN on their cruise!!! Dinning Room Service: My DF and I had the 8 PM seating in the Windsong Dinning Room. This dinning room is totally in the aft (end) of the ship and was confusing at first to locate. You have to go all the way aft on deck 9 then when you are at the entrance of the dinning room—they do not allow you to enter there, but make you take the stairs down 1 deck to 8 to enter. Sort of confusing at first since there is an entrance on deck 9, but we got the hang of where they wanted us to go and entered from that area each night. During our entire cruise our waiters never introduced themselves. In fact all of us at our table (7 in all) made jokes several nights asking each other "Have they said their names yet?" My DF finally asked our headwaiter his name, she couldn't pronounce it to us, so we still did not know his name. Both waiters did not make any extra effort at being friendly by speaking to us or giving us any type of special service. In fact, I have receive better service from waitresses in our local Golden Corral Restaurant (buffet-steak house) in my home town! Each night our headwaiter just stood behind us, not saying a word. We just looked at him with his pen in hand ready to take your order and then told him what we wanted and he passed to the next person-no word said to anyone. When asked a question, he answered it not smiling at all. The only time I remember seeing a slight smile on his face was during the last night doing one of the 'dances' they preform in the dinning room. My DF and I were very disappointed in the services/friendliness of our personal dinning room waiters. We did not feel like the fine dinning ambience was given on this ship by our waiters at all to us! Food in Main Dinning Room: We were both VERY disappointed with the food in the main dinning room during dinner. Every dish I had ended up being beef of some sort because the variety and selection on the menu for entrees were limited. I normally enjoy my beef med. rare except for Prime Rib and Chateaubriand which I like both rare, but it was not cooked or offered that way.I was told it could only be cooked med. rare or well done. So with that in mind, both my entrees were tough, dry and over cooked. The Beef Wellington was terrible. I have posted my detailed review of that dish at this URL if you would like to read it here: http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=488401 The appetizers and desserts were very limited on our cruise. Many items had been listed online from previous pax menus on cruises which were taken in the fall-2006 (3 months earlier) were not included or served to us. In fact on the last night of the cruise, the only 2 desserts offered were Baked Alaska and Melted Chocolate Cake. NOTHING ELSE! The cake being offered each night. The Lobster on formal night was tough and tasteless. I could not eat mine and asked for the Prime Rib which (as mentioned before) was over cooked and not very good. Our headwaiter gave me a disgusted look when I asked for another entrees - his look at me; I would not want anyone to experience. However, the French Onion Soup, Lamb Chops and Escargot we had were the best dishes on the cruise we had and were very good. Our table companions enjoyed their steaks, which they ordered well done. So if you like your beef cooked well done, then you will enjoy how the beef is prepared on the Ecstasy. Breakfast in the main dinning room was fine. I ate there twice and both times had Eggs Benedict, which was prepared very nicely. Entertainment: We went to 3 shows in the Blue Sapphire Lounge. The first evening a short dance was preformed by the Ecstasy Dancers and done very nicely with a very funny comedian. The 2nd night was a larger-Las Vegas styled show with the Ecstasy Dancers and also a couple that did an amazing modern-acrobatic dance. They were superb!!!! We would've loved for the entire show to have centered on this couple alone. They were fantastic and a 'do not miss'! The last night at sea…the 'Extreme Country' show was wonderful, lively and done very well. My DF went to the late night 'Adult' Comedy show in the Starlight Lounge and she enjoyed it thoroughly. I also went to enjoy Karaoke in this same lounge a couple of times and found it to be very fun. Dancing in Stripes Lounge tends to be more hip-hop late in the evenings and Chinatown Lounge leans toward country. There are different music venues for everyone on the Ecstasy. Each night we made our way to one lounge or another for fun with friends we had made on the ship. The deck-pool party was a lot of fun also. Line dancing and a nice Mexican buffet was served during the party. During sea days, there is so much to do entertainment wise….it was hard to pick what we wanted to do. We enjoyed the 'hairy chest' contest which was so much fun and the MC had the entire pool pax get involved with the choosing of the winner…which made it even more fun. Ice carving is a 'do not miss' on the pool deck also as well as dance classes. Even on a rocking ship (we had very high seas on the last day) it IS possible to do line dancing. High seas just make it more interesting and funny to watch and do! The entertainment on the Ecstasy was great and we enjoyed it immensely. All in all, the entertainment and activities fulfills the motto of Carnival being a…"Fun Ship". Formal Night: MOST, if not the majority of the pax were dressed very nicely. Long formals, cocktail dresses, dress pants with 'glitzy' tops were worn by the women and suits with ties were worn by most men. There were some folks with jeans on…but I have to admit they REALLY seemed out of place and stuck out like a sore thumb with the majority of the pax dresses so nicely and formally. The Captain's Reception was held in the Blue Sapphire Lounge with appetizers and drinks/wine/champagne served by the wait staff. Music was played for couples to dance to on the stage, making it a very nice reception for all. Gala Midnight Buffet: The Ecstasy did a beautiful display of various food. Not just desserts. All I can say is it was one of the most beautiful arrangements of food I have ever seen. We did not stay to eat any of it because we were not hungry. However I now wish we had skipped the food that night in the main dinning room and opt for the Gala Buffet instead. This buffet was held the same night as formal night. To view photos of the lovely food, please click my photo link below my signature. Meeting Friends from Cruise Critic Message Boards (M&M): If you have never done this before…you really NEED to make sure to do it. After 2 cruises that I have taken since I have discovered the folks on these boards…I have enjoyed meeting new 'friends' on board the ships. Their friendship and comradery has made both my cruises even more pleasurable. We meet our roll call members on the 1st evening around 10 PM outside the Stripes Lounge. It was great to meet the folks I had been messaging to for months in person. It was like meeting old friends you had known forever. I felt as comfortable with them as if we had just seen each other the week before. We chatted for quite sometime, exchanging room numbers so we would be able to contact each other on ship. Also planning our next meeting place and what we planned to do on excursions. My DF and I meet several of our roll call members throughout the cruise…during Tea Time in the Neon Bar, which we were served hot tea (of choice), tea sandwiches and desserts. A very nice experience for a day at sea. We also meet them in Cozumel at Paradise Beach, which made the day even more fun. One member of our roll call sat at our dinner table during the evenings. We had not prearranged this, so it was a lovely surprise to have her dine with us. So whatever you do, follow though with going to your roll call's M&M! You will have the opportunity to meet and make some new friends, which will make your cruise more enjoyable! Ports: Cozumel---Paradise Beach: We took a taxi on our own with folks I had meet during breakfast that morning. Shared the ride and made 3 new friends which were very nice and fun to be around. We got there early---well before 10:30 AM to get lounge chairs right up front next to the ocean with no one in front of us. Large umbrellas that span 2 chairs provided shade. No entrance fee is required, however they do 'ask' you to purchase a drink or food item while using the chairs. We were not pressured to order anything by our waiter. In fact we had to call him over to us when we decided on our drinks to take our order. So if we never called him over—which we sat there for quite awhile before we ordered, I doubt he would've bothered us again. The drinks are priced comparable to bar prices. I had a Long Island Ice Tea and paid $8.00 including tip. For $9.00 pp (as of 1/2007) you can use all their 'toys': snorkel equip., trampoline and rock-climbing iceberg (both in the ocean you swim out too) kayaks and swim boards. A good deal we were planning on doing, except the water was way too cold for us, so instead my DF did the parasailing for $50.00-15 mins. air-time. I went with her free on the boat to take photos and we both had a fantastic time on her parasailing adventure. The water in Cozumel is pristine and beautiful. One of the most beautiful ports/ beaches I have been to in my life. The local people were very friendly and were willing to bargain on prices in the local shops/stores. We enjoyed Cozumel very much! Progresso-Corona Beach: We took the free shuttle you board right outside the docking area down the 5 mile pier, which drops you off at the out-door market/shops. This area is pretty large with locals selling their jewelry, T-shirts, etc. I found it a lot fun to bargain with the locals on prices. I was not put off with any of them coming to me trying to ‘make a deal’. However, I have been to Mexico before and this type of ‘selling’ is part of their culture and I found it fun as well as giving me an opportunity to bargain for items I wanted to buy. Just keep in mind….the locals are not trying to be ‘pushy’. This is their livelihood and part of their culture, so just go with the flow and you will have fun and get great deals! We then left the market area and walked a couple of blocks to Corona Beach. Lounge chairs under palapas were located all along the beach area. We were helped and served by a nice local waiter who was there for our every need. He gave us such great service we asked to take his photo. The Margaritas served on this beach are the best I have EVER had in my life. They were equivalent to 3 mix drinks-alcoholic wise. In fact, my DF had brought a can of juice with her and had to put some juice in her drink to ‘water it down’ cause it was so stiff! I ended up doing the same to the last ¼ of my drink also. We ordered a plate, or I really should say a PLATTER, of Guacamole Dip with a basket of Corn Chips and it was wonderful. Fresh avocados with onions and tomatoes tasted fantastic. All in all I only paid for my drink and food: $4.00-drink/tip & $2.00-dip/tip+ $6.00 for the best drink and food I had the entire cruise! ***One warning about Corona Beach: the local folks do approach you CONSTANTLY trying to sell their wares. All you have to do is smile and say “No, gracias” a couple of times and they will move on. Only once did I have to add an “Adiós, Por favor “ to one seller before he walked on. They did not spoil our time on the beach, but for some folks who do not like this type of ‘intrusion’ you might not want to sit directly on the beach but sit inside the bar area. We enjoyed Progresso and enjoyed the lovely and friendly local people. We had a fabulous time at this port of call! Staff on the Ship: Other than the before mentioned dinning room waiters at our table, the entire staff on the Ecstasy were friendly, helpful and great. Each and every time we passed a staff employee they always smiled and spoke a cordial welcome to us. Every time we asked a question, we were answered politely and helped. Our steward was great…giving us an extra bucket of ice twice a day (after asking for one the first day) and had our room prepared/cleaned properly. The crew imparted an atmosphere of ‘come party with us’ on the ship, which enforced Carnival’s motto as having ‘Fun Ships’. Music and laughter was expressed throughout the ship by the staff and crew. All in all, service on the Ecstasy was great. Debarkation: We did not do "self-assist" and left our luggage out our cabin door before midnight on the last day at sea. We handled our carrry-ons ourselves. We did have to wait quite awhile before our color tags were called, but just enjoyed a longer breakfast in the buffet. Finding our luggage in the crowd was a challenge but we managed. It did take more time than I had expected, making us leave the ship well after 10 AM. Leaving for home: We had to rent our 2nd car through Hertz Rental due to Enterprise being all reserved that day. We did call 2 months before our cruise to try to reserve with Enterprise but were unable to. Therefore, we had to wait outside in the cold for almost 25 mins. for Hertz shuttle to pick us up. The Hertz rental pick up/shuttle area is at Terminal #1 downstairs. Their shuttle picked us up and took us to their off site rental building to get our car. It is at least a 10 min. drive from the terminal. They were very disorganized at the rental office and it took me over 30 mins. to get my car!!! And that was NOT waiting in line time...that was for the agent to log in his computer 4 different times to get my rental cost/car assignment right! I had my reservation number with me...so that was not the problem. The problem was this particular agent didn't know what the heck he was doing and was trying to charge me double the quoted price when I made my reservation! Or maybe he did know what he was doing and was trying to pull a fast one over me cause I am a women?!!!! I will NEVER use Hertz in Galveston ever again! I will stick with Enterprise Rental. Enterprise was great when I used them before. Due to Hertz taking so long with our car assignment….we did not have as much time as we had planned to tour Galveston. We only were able to drive around The Strand to look around that area and then head back out the interstate to Houston. We arrived at the airport in plenty of time to grab a bite to eat before boarding our plane. Arrival at Home: Feb. 1st , we arrived at DIA to find the coldest day of the year greeting us with temps at minus 10 degrees below zero. My DFs, DH was picking us up and it took him from 4:30 PM till well after 8 PM to go 60 miles from our home town! There were tons of car wreaks on the interstate due to the bad weather, but we made it home safe and sound finally. All in all, we had a great cruise and a great time on the Ecstasy. She is a nice ship, even though her décor is very outdated and in bad need of a facelift with less neon lights and less bright, garish colors. It was fun to sail in the Western Caribbean and have some ‘Fun in the Sun’ on our 5 days cruise! Please view my photos: ****Cruise Photos on Carnival: Ecstasy-->Click Here: http://family.webshots.com/album/557602758BFevzH?vhost=family&vhost=family MonaK Read Less
Sail Date January 2007
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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