This was my children's first cruise and our second. We had a lovely time and hated that it had to end. Now for the details:
Our embarkation was not the best experience, to say the least. We arrived later than planned, and coupled with the fact that the Ecstasy was late getting in that morning, meant long lines for everyone. But the lines did slowly move and after an almost 2 hour wait, we made it onboard. But by that time, they were already calling for the safety drill so we had just enough time to drop our bags in the cabin and head to the Blue Sapphire. That meant the Panorama Grill had to wait! Luckily, the drill moved quickly (which was actually great compared to our first cruise where it was out on deck with everyone cold, standing and crowded together), I finally got to eat my Grilled Reuben with my Funship Special and our cruise officially began! After being able to watch the sailaway, we headed back to the cabin and met our steward, Chakra. He was great and always very helpful. I can't say enough kind words about him and his assistants. They even had a running game with my kids where in the morning my children would make them a towel animal and by lunch, Team Chakra would somehow have made a complimentary animal or humorously revised it. Then of course, we would have a brand new one in the evening and it would start all over again. My only complaint for the day and really the whole cruise was our late seating time in the Wind Star. I had requested an earlier seating because of our children and Camp Carnival activities in the evening, but ended up with the 8:30 seating. As soon as I could on the first day, I talked to the Maitre' D but he was unable to move us. I think the large number of elderly people onboard was the reason why we couldn't be accommodated. So, we took it in stride and made the best of it. But we only made it to the Wind Star for one night of the entire cruise which was a shame because the food was wonderful. Especially the Bitter and Blanc dessert. I'm still kicking myself for not getting one to take back to our cabin. The seas were a little rocky going and coming home, but not too bad. My children (9 & 11) enjoyed Camp Carnival to a certain extent. They liked being able to pick and choose activities and being old enough to sign themselves out after it was over. The scavenger hunt and t-shirt decorating were big hits, but the more quiet activities that were actually held in the children's area were boring for them. There didn't seem to be too many kids their age who participated but they did make a few friends and the counselors seemed quite nice. There was always plenty to eat onboard and the chocolate cake from room service was delicious. Since it was a vacation, my kids were able to order cookies and hot chocolate for breakfast which was a huge treat. As mentioned by many others, the pizza was always good as were the burgers and fries. My 11 year old swore that they tasted like McDonald's fries. As typical of the Ecstasy, everything was served with a smile. I never encountered a rude employee the entire cruise. They earned the crystal eagle for a reason. Captain Scala was very, very entertaining and hands-on. On our first cruise, I never saw the captain and certainly cannot remember his name, but I will never forget Captain Scala's. Goose, the Cruise Director, was OK and the performers (with the exception of the hypnotist - terrible!) were very good. The ship was always very clean and there was always someone around doing some kind of maintenance or repair. Even with so many people onboard, the Ecstasy never felt crowded. My entire family had a wonderful time and the beds alone are reason to cruise again. I miss being rocked to sleep in the wonderful bed! I think that my biggest surprise was that the median age of passengers seemed much older this time than on our first cruise. I know that will probably change come summer, but it provided a more sedated atmosphere for my kids. I saw many other couples with children, groups of women in their 50's having "Girl's Only " trips and couples in their 60's and 70's. There was a large Red Hat group on board and were fun to watch. Like I said, the atmosphere was much calmer than on a previous trip and as a mom I appreciated that.
Progresso: Did the Uxmal tour through Carnival and had a great time. It is a very educational and beautiful tour. I did a lot of research on this board and knew it was the one to do, so I felt a little sorry for ALL of the people waiting in the Chichen Itza line. We lost track of how many buses were heading to that place. Between the Ecstasy and the Fantasy, we barely filled 2 buses. Our tour guide summed it up by saying that the biggest difference between Chichen Itza and Uxmal is publicity. It is truly a beautiful place and my children loved being able to climb the ruins (can't do at Chichen Itza). All in all, a good day and very tiring. The excursion was quite intensive and most dozed-off on the bus ride back. Another group of people I felt sorry for was all of the sunburned people getting back on the ship. The beach in January must've caught them by surprise. And there were more than a few people who had to make the "run of shame" to catch the ship. That was quite humorous (at least for us!).