Carnival Ecstasy Cruise Review by vanderpike
- Sail Date: November 2012
- Destination: Bahamas
- Cabin Type: Ocean View
Travel to Port of Embarkation: Ecstasy leaves from the easily-navigated Port Canaveral. We flew from Iowa into Orlando/Sanford airport on Allegiant Air. Direct flight and cheapest by far (even with bag/seat fees added). Sanford airport is about an hour drive from the Port. We fly in a day before a cruise to avoid any issues should there be travel delays. We booked a car with pick-up at Sanford Airport and next day drop-off at a location two miles from the port. The fee is higher when you don't return the car to the same location, but at around $80 bucks for the 24 hour period, it was no more expensive than the shuttles to the ship and it gave us freedom! We went to the Cocoa Beach Pier and shopped Ron Jon. We pricelined a hotel in the Cocoa Beach area and a $57 bid was accepted by International Palms Resort (however, that was about all the hotel SHOULD have cost! ha) Got up the next morning and visited a Native Rythym festival being held in Melbourne before heading back to return car around 12:30 p.m. (boarding ship scheduled to end at 3 p.m. and we made it with plenty of time to spare). The rental company shuttled us to the port with front door service! Nice. We tipped the shuttle driver $1 per bag.
At the port, we had our boarding pass and passport (in the case of my husband, an original birth certificate and driver's license) ready and zipped right thru security and boarding. I saw a couple huge bottles of gin that had been confiscated on my way thru line. Had they tried to disguise them as small children? I mean they were huge! LOL My diet mountain dew passed thru (happy dance!) I had never tried to take my own soda or water before, even tho I had read you could.
Because we board a little closer to sailing time than some folks, our room is always ready (bags may not be there yet, but they will show up soon)! It usually gives us a chance to meet our room steward and introduce ourselves. A $5 tip with a request for fresh ice daily works well for us. It helps set the tone and we have always had the BEST experiences with our room crew. They work hard and yes, you have gratuities built in, but they really deserve more than they make, I'm sure. Being greeted by name every time you are seen walking in the hall is impressive! Think how many people they see every day cruise after cruise. Kudos to AGUNG our room steward on the Ecstasy!
Activities: We choose to do everything we can fit in! Winning a ship on a stick is the goal - practice your trivia and mini golf! It makes so much more fun in our opinion. You meet so many new people and everyone has a story. Fun! Each night when you get your turn-down service they leave an agenda of the next day's activities. Grab a deck layout from guest services and plan your walking path (it's confusing! By the last day of the cruise, you'll have it down. :)
Carnival staff is excellent -- they may not all speak fluent English, but a smile is universal!
Stateroom: We always book the cheapest cabin (when are we ever in the room!?) but this time Carnival offered an upgrade for $50 per person for an outside room and my husband said yes (without checking with me might I add). Ha It was nice, but still... in my opinion not necessary. It does let in light tho, so trips to the bathroom are easier and we woke up earlier if the curtains were open. He swears it was a bigger room. Hmmmm. Not sure.
Dining: We chose early dining on previous cruises and thought those were too early when you had a port day. So this time we chose late dining and that was pretty late! Maybe next time we'll do anytime dining. One of these days we'll figure it out. Wait staff has always been excellent on our cruises and we usually tip the head waiter the last evening. That's optional, but when someone is laying my napkin in my lap every night I think that's pretty decadent. Really... it's amazing how fast I get used to being treated so special. :)
Entertainment: The shows are fun. Make sure you take the time to do a production, a comedy, a game show, piano bar, etc... It's date night every night, so take advantage.
Disembarkation: This last cruise was super smooth. We've had some in the past that took a bit longer and were more crowded. Don't know what the difference was, so I'm giving props to Ecstasy crew.
Port & Shore Excursion Reviews
FreeportWe have done Freeport before and chose to skip this port and just stay on the ship and enjoy the sun from lounge chairs on the Lido deck. This probably had something to do with just getting on the ship the afternoon before. We wanted to relax.View All 1,232 Freeport Cruise Port Reviews
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Half Moon CayI have three syllables for you... OH EM GEE! Half Moon Cay is spectacular! I did not know what a tender was, but all that turned out to mean was a small boat would pull up close to the cruis ship, a gangway connected and you exited the cruise ship onto the boat which transferred you to the island. With 3,000 passengers on the Ecstasy and about 200 capacity on the boat, it takes a while to get everyone to the island. But once your eyes feast on the powder white beach and Caribbean blue water you would gladly do it again! While still on the Ecstasy, they direct you to a lounge area to be assigned a number. You wait in the lounge until your number is called and head down to board the small boat. It actually worked pretty smoothly. Immediately upon entering the island there are shops, an information booth, restrooms, and a bar. If you following the red brick path you will continue down the length of beach with multiple points of beach entry along the way (signage is good, you won't get lost). There are also cute little bars along the way. Near the end is a pirate ship bar that has a great view from the second floor. A shaded picnic area is available for the luncheon, but could have cared less about food. We just wanted to hit that beach. It was GORGEOUS. They have private cabana rentals that include some food and beverage along with rattan seating, misting fans, air conditioning, water floats, etc... that were super cute but all sold out long before the cruise started so book early online if you want one of those. If you don't get one, don't worry... Carnival has a lot of free lounge chairs available. They also have some with a tent like structure that provides shade at $20 for the day. (personally... we took our shade breaks in the bar while enjoying a frozen beverage :-) I would book this same cruise again just to go back to Half Moon Cay.View All 957 Half Moon Cay Cruise Port Reviews
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NassauWe exited the boat and wandered around downtown shopping. If you are into jewelry, bags, etc... this is your place. However, I purchased a couple of beach towels in the straw market and we walked back to the port entry area and grabbed a taxi to Paradise Beach. Be prepared for the ride of your life! Driving is CRAZY. Do NOT rent the scooters that are also available -- I'm sure they are fine, but you may not survive the traffic. No joke. Our taxi driver was a hoot -- I think he pulled over three times to schmooze local ladies. Trust us to pick the ladies man. ha! But island folks walk to the beat of a Bahamian drum so just relax and enjoy the flavor of the island. He took us to the free public area and dropped us off for a day of sand and surf. (He charged $11 which we thought was decent, but surprisingly the ride back was only $8) So he was a money-making ladies man! We entered the beach thru a small area of fencing and walked up a small hill and at the crest, a tan sandy beach and lovely blue water greeted our eyes. Lounge chairs were available for rent, but our cheap bottoms just sat on our new towels from the straw market. Drinks were available as well and served to you right on the beach. Vendors do walk up and down the beach but if you don't want the wooden flute, or the conch shell or the beach bags or shell necklaces, etc... just say No thank you and they move on. No pressure (as opposed to the straw market which gets a little old!) Walked back down to where we got dropped off and taxis were waiting. This time our driver took some back roads which were much less traveled, but also showed some of the more depressed areas. It made it much easier to pay $11 again instead of the $8 he charged -- blessed are we who have lives that include vacations!View All 5,278 Nassau Cruise Port Reviews
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