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This was a last minute family cruise after Thanksgiving. It consisted of my husband, myself, and our three kids (10, 9, and 6). I had been on one Carnival cruise 7 years ago as a girls trip and then a Disney cruise 3 years go with the family. I was a bit hesitant to take a 3 day cruise on Carnival. 1) I thought it might feel to short and 2) after having been on Disney my expectations might not be met. I must say I was pleasantly surprised at how much fun we all had. In Miami, this was the only time I felt the Faster to Fun Pass everyone talks about might be useful. We arrived at port at around 2 p.m. and parked across the street with only backpacks for each of us. We walked into the port and had our initial view of passports scanned probably within 5 minutes. Then went up the stairs only to endure a line that lasted about 30 minutes to get through. Checking in once at the desk took less than 10 minutes, maybe 5 as we had all our paperwork ready. They sent us to the right which when you go this way you can skip around the "picture" area and head right on board. We opted to do that. Once on the ship we went straight to our room which was an inside (again last minute cruise) for the five of us on the Riviera Deck (R90). If you want to say close quarters it was close quarters. We had the two singles pushed together and then one bunk over that (first night hit my head twice on that to bunk) and another on the other side of the wall with a small bed on the floor. There was no space. But this room worked well for us as we were only ever in it to get ready for dinner or go to bed. And we took stairs for everything. I think we wondered upstairs to get something to eat on the Lido deck. I must say food was not the greatest on this ship or at least in my opinion. For this lunch I opted for the salad and fresh fruit. My kids did pizza and then maybe a few other things along the way. Shortly after we headed to our Muster Drill which was painless even though they treat you like your dumb. Our was in the Blue Sapphire so we had nice seats and then headed up to our area once done with that. Finally, head to the waterworks which my kids enjoyed for a good hour before we had to get ready for dinner. We did not watch the sail away party or anything of that nature. Dinner we talked to the Maitre D and ended up sitting next to our friends who had a daughter 11 and son 4. Felt bad for the "few" people around us as most were couples and they had to endure five kids who did rather well, but not as peaceful as I am sure some would have liked. Every night the staff in the main dining room which I think ours was the song (which ever is "aft" of the ship which first night is very hard to find as you are better taking the room hallways and going to aft stairs to get up to the dining room). Took a little to figure that out. Dinner was okay, but has everyone mentions the desert "chocolate cake" is delicious. After dinner kids went into the clubs for an hour while the adults went to get drinks. The four year old went into the "penguins" room, my 6 year old was I think in the "sharks" and the 9 - 11 years old were often in the conference room which is I think one down (or up) from the dining room. I think for the younger group especially penguins kids seemed to love the activities. The older not so much. I would tend to agree it wasn't as good of a kids club as I recall. And one woman working the front desk was older and a real stickler of anything called "fun". I often tried to figure out how she was put into this area as she didn't seem a good match for a kids area. But over the three nights they survived. The next morning before getting off the ship in the Bahamas they did the Dr. Seuss Parade. Definitely suited more for the younger crowd, but we did it none the less. The downside is they go from the Theater past the Casino and all the smoke into the main lobby area. I know it is a parade, but seems like maybe better suited on Lido deck or away from the Casino. Again, pretty neat though they now have this on Carnival. We had been to Atlantis this past summer for a week so it wasn't on my kids agenda to do again plus I didn't want to pay what it would cost for a one day trip for the five of us. I do recommend doing the Comfort Suites as I think that would be the most cost effective way to see Atlantis if you were doing a cruise. We ended up off the ship close to 11. Simple process. My husband was out to watch the Michigan/OSU game so we left him a long the way. I think he watched in some Pirate Bar that had a big screen TV. I with our friends walked over to where Junkanoo Beach entrance (off the ship to the right around the Hyatt, maybe 10 minute walk) next to Fat Tuesdays. This was very adequate for what we were looking for. Beach/Sun. I think about an hour in I walked over to Fat Tuesdays and ordered the normal chicken fingers, fries, and sandwich for kids. I think came to like $50 for what amounted to not much, but common in Nassau. If anyone wanted a good vibe atmosphere with the water and breeze I would recommend Fat Tuesdays. Had I not been with my kids I would have sat their with the music and a drinks in hand. I thought the locals selling items coming around were not pushy at all. Kids played in the water or sand for a good 2.5 hours. Afterwards we walked back to the ship. One note, when you are heading back to the ship make sure you have your sailcard as well as a picture ID. My friend did not at port authority almost gave her a hard time. But because I had my passport we got on. something they forget to tell you. The kids played up at the main pool and played miniature golf the rest of the afternoon as well as ate a bit more. We went to dinner at 6 and I thought tonight's meal was better than the night before. I had shrimp is what I recall and it was good. This night was also "formal" night if you so chose. We did, but only dressed up for dinner and went back and changed. Also this night was The Hasbro Game show. I had talked this up to my kids and my daughter was really excited about it. She was like we have to get their early. Probably showed up about 5 minutes before start and ended up with one of the big booths in the back of the theater along with the three older kids in the back row of the main seating area. They start of picking the teams by asking questions of some sort. I didn't think we would get anyone on stage, but my daughter being crazy and jumping up and down was the 2nd one picked. Then my younger son was the last one picked for that same team. Their game was the connect 4 basketball. It really looked like they weren't going to win, but did. For the losing team you get a little handheld Hasbro game so anyone on stage walks away a winner. Then they pick new teams and play Simon. This was funny to watch as their one always one color not in the right order. At the end the winning teams go and pick a card like you would on family game night worth a value. You then put your card into the ATM like machine and whom ever has the highest told wins a giftcard to Hasbro for a nice chunk of change. My daughter ended winning the giftcard. She was so excited as were we. Again unexpected. I would really say if you want on stage for this game jump up and down and on the furniture. The next day is sea day. I think we did mostly the same with pools and miniature golf. Around 3 sent the kids to the clubs and sat in the Serenity Deck which was where I think most of the single college kids looking to hook up hung out. But my husband and I enjoyed the comfy chairs and no kids for a good hour. That night we opted for dinner at the Lido deck and the kids did the dinner with the kids club. You show-up at 6 in the Lido deck and sign them in and they bring them food. It was nice. We then went to the lobby and listened to a musician. She was phenomenal. Went and got the kids to attend the family comedy show. This was cute as it was "yo mama" jokes and there were 15 kids that opted to go on stage with the comedian to tell jokes. My daughter did it again. It really was a cute funny show. Afterwards we put them all back in the clubs and listened to two more comedians before calling it a night. They weren't happy by this point as I guess the clubs were boring. However, the two younger kids enjoyed theirs. We carried off our bags for this trip. At about 6:45 am did a quick breakfast upstairs then met our friends on the 6th floor (they had a suite) as their floor offered to get off the ship quicker than our floor. Well we timed it perfectly to go to the aft stairs and up to the 7th floor and walked right off at 7:30 when they cleared us to disembark. That couldn't have worked out better. Getting out of Miami and back to our home we hit traffic, but again this worked out well. Overall, I thought this was not the party ship I read so much about. It could have been the fact of the holiday, but we enjoyed ourselves and my kids a week later are talking about doing another. I would recommend to anyone for a quick getaway as it felt longer than 2.5 days. Some notes: Mongolian is the best place to eat on ship, but is only open 12:30 - 3:30 and you want to be in line before 12:30 or go closer to when it is about to close. The water slides are fun as is the miniature golf. If you want to do this cheap go for the inside room. We didn't feel this trip the balcony would have mattered much to us as we were not in our room much. And again in Nassau you really can do it cheap if you so choose. I do recommend getting up the morning they leave Nassau and watch the boat leave. Beautiful views! Overall a great family getaway.

Fun Family Cruise

Carnival Ecstasy Cruise Review by Family5Cruise

Trip Details
  • Sail Date: November 2015
  • Destination: Bahamas
This was a last minute family cruise after Thanksgiving. It consisted of my husband, myself, and our three kids (10, 9, and 6). I had been on one Carnival cruise 7 years ago as a girls trip and then a Disney cruise 3 years go with the family. I was a bit hesitant to take a 3 day cruise on Carnival. 1) I thought it might feel to short and 2) after having been on Disney my expectations might not be met. I must say I was pleasantly surprised at how much fun we all had.

In Miami, this was the only time I felt the Faster to Fun Pass everyone talks about might be useful. We arrived at port at around 2 p.m. and parked across the street with only backpacks for each of us. We walked into the port and had our initial view of passports scanned probably within 5 minutes. Then went up the stairs only to endure a line that lasted about 30 minutes to get through. Checking in once at the desk took less than 10 minutes, maybe 5 as we had all our paperwork ready. They sent us to the right which when you go this way you can skip around the "picture" area and head right on board. We opted to do that.

Once on the ship we went straight to our room which was an inside (again last minute cruise) for the five of us on the Riviera Deck (R90). If you want to say close quarters it was close quarters. We had the two singles pushed together and then one bunk over that (first night hit my head twice on that to bunk) and another on the other side of the wall with a small bed on the floor. There was no space. But this room worked well for us as we were only ever in it to get ready for dinner or go to bed. And we took stairs for everything.

I think we wondered upstairs to get something to eat on the Lido deck. I must say food was not the greatest on this ship or at least in my opinion. For this lunch I opted for the salad and fresh fruit. My kids did pizza and then maybe a few other things along the way.

Shortly after we headed to our Muster Drill which was painless even though they treat you like your dumb. Our was in the Blue Sapphire so we had nice seats and then headed up to our area once done with that. Finally, head to the waterworks which my kids enjoyed for a good hour before we had to get ready for dinner. We did not watch the sail away party or anything of that nature.

Dinner we talked to the Maitre D and ended up sitting next to our friends who had a daughter 11 and son 4. Felt bad for the "few" people around us as most were couples and they had to endure five kids who did rather well, but not as peaceful as I am sure some would have liked. Every night the staff in the main dining room which I think ours was the song (which ever is "aft" of the ship which first night is very hard to find as you are better taking the room hallways and going to aft stairs to get up to the dining room). Took a little to figure that out. Dinner was okay, but has everyone mentions the desert "chocolate cake" is delicious.

After dinner kids went into the clubs for an hour while the adults went to get drinks. The four year old went into the "penguins" room, my 6 year old was I think in the "sharks" and the 9 - 11 years old were often in the conference room which is I think one down (or up) from the dining room. I think for the younger group especially penguins kids seemed to love the activities. The older not so much. I would tend to agree it wasn't as good of a kids club as I recall. And one woman working the front desk was older and a real stickler of anything called "fun". I often tried to figure out how she was put into this area as she didn't seem a good match for a kids area. But over the three nights they survived.

The next morning before getting off the ship in the Bahamas they did the Dr. Seuss Parade. Definitely suited more for the younger crowd, but we did it none the less. The downside is they go from the Theater past the Casino and all the smoke into the main lobby area. I know it is a parade, but seems like maybe better suited on Lido deck or away from the Casino. Again, pretty neat though they now have this on Carnival.

We had been to Atlantis this past summer for a week so it wasn't on my kids agenda to do again plus I didn't want to pay what it would cost for a one day trip for the five of us. I do recommend doing the Comfort Suites as I think that would be the most cost effective way to see Atlantis if you were doing a cruise. We ended up off the ship close to 11. Simple process. My husband was out to watch the Michigan/OSU game so we left him a long the way. I think he watched in some Pirate Bar that had a big screen TV. I with our friends walked over to where Junkanoo Beach entrance (off the ship to the right around the Hyatt, maybe 10 minute walk) next to Fat Tuesdays. This was very adequate for what we were looking for. Beach/Sun. I think about an hour in I walked over to Fat Tuesdays and ordered the normal chicken fingers, fries, and sandwich for kids. I think came to like $50 for what amounted to not much, but common in Nassau. If anyone wanted a good vibe atmosphere with the water and breeze I would recommend Fat Tuesdays. Had I not been with my kids I would have sat their with the music and a drinks in hand. I thought the locals selling items coming around were not pushy at all. Kids played in the water or sand for a good 2.5 hours. Afterwards we walked back to the ship. One note, when you are heading back to the ship make sure you have your sailcard as well as a picture ID. My friend did not at port authority almost gave her a hard time. But because I had my passport we got on. something they forget to tell you.

The kids played up at the main pool and played miniature golf the rest of the afternoon as well as ate a bit more. We went to dinner at 6 and I thought tonight's meal was better than the night before. I had shrimp is what I recall and it was good. This night was also "formal" night if you so chose. We did, but only dressed up for dinner and went back and changed.

Also this night was The Hasbro Game show. I had talked this up to my kids and my daughter was really excited about it. She was like we have to get their early. Probably showed up about 5 minutes before start and ended up with one of the big booths in the back of the theater along with the three older kids in the back row of the main seating area. They start of picking the teams by asking questions of some sort. I didn't think we would get anyone on stage, but my daughter being crazy and jumping up and down was the 2nd one picked. Then my younger son was the last one picked for that same team. Their game was the connect 4 basketball. It really looked like they weren't going to win, but did. For the losing team you get a little handheld Hasbro game so anyone on stage walks away a winner. Then they pick new teams and play Simon. This was funny to watch as their one always one color not in the right order. At the end the winning teams go and pick a card like you would on family game night worth a value. You then put your card into the ATM like machine and whom ever has the highest told wins a giftcard to Hasbro for a nice chunk of change. My daughter ended winning the giftcard. She was so excited as were we. Again unexpected. I would really say if you want on stage for this game jump up and down and on the furniture.

The next day is sea day. I think we did mostly the same with pools and miniature golf. Around 3 sent the kids to the clubs and sat in the Serenity Deck which was where I think most of the single college kids looking to hook up hung out. But my husband and I enjoyed the comfy chairs and no kids for a good hour. That night we opted for dinner at the Lido deck and the kids did the dinner with the kids club. You show-up at 6 in the Lido deck and sign them in and they bring them food. It was nice. We then went to the lobby and listened to a musician. She was phenomenal. Went and got the kids to attend the family comedy show. This was cute as it was "yo mama" jokes and there were 15 kids that opted to go on stage with the comedian to tell jokes. My daughter did it again. It really was a cute funny show. Afterwards we put them all back in the clubs and listened to two more comedians before calling it a night. They weren't happy by this point as I guess the clubs were boring. However, the two younger kids enjoyed theirs.

We carried off our bags for this trip. At about 6:45 am did a quick breakfast upstairs then met our friends on the 6th floor (they had a suite) as their floor offered to get off the ship quicker than our floor. Well we timed it perfectly to go to the aft stairs and up to the 7th floor and walked right off at 7:30 when they cleared us to disembark. That couldn't have worked out better. Getting out of Miami and back to our home we hit traffic, but again this worked out well.

Overall, I thought this was not the party ship I read so much about. It could have been the fact of the holiday, but we enjoyed ourselves and my kids a week later are talking about doing another. I would recommend to anyone for a quick getaway as it felt longer than 2.5 days. Some notes: Mongolian is the best place to eat on ship, but is only open 12:30 - 3:30 and you want to be in line before 12:30 or go closer to when it is about to close. The water slides are fun as is the miniature golf. If you want to do this cheap go for the inside room. We didn't feel this trip the balcony would have mattered much to us as we were not in our room much. And again in Nassau you really can do it cheap if you so choose. I do recommend getting up the morning they leave Nassau and watch the boat leave. Beautiful views! Overall a great family getaway.
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