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If you are currently booked on this cruise, please do not panic by the reviews you have read. I know that I sure did! This was my 15th cruise, but my first time sailing with Carnival. I was sailing with my husband and two of our older children (ages 17 and 21). A cruise is always what you make of it and the staff could not have tried any harder. Yep, we made the ten hour drive for this cruise and stayed at the Holiday Inn Express with their stay and cruise package. The hotel was great and our transportation was perfect. Mr. Hamilton arrived to the hotel at 10:30 am and picked us up. We arrived to the pier around 11am. It was a very easy drop off. Our luggage was taken right there and we never had to think about it again. You go through various security check points, so have your documentation ready. We had Priority boarding because we were staying in a Grand Suite, but the lines weren't bad at all! Security and Carnival did everything to keep the lines moving and let you know what to expect next! As always, please read what you can and cannot board with. The only thing holding up the line was the people that wanted to bring their open containers on board, etc. Upon check in, we were told we could go directly to our cabin to drop off our carry-on bags. We were onboard by noon. All signs indicated that the cabins would not be available until 1:30 pm, but yes, our cabin was ready. There are various options available for lunch, so we grabbed an outdoor seat and had our first meal onboard! Hey, it was good! I had stuffed eggplant, the kids opted for chicken fingers and a burger! Be sure you walk around and look in the water. There were SO many dolphin right there! It was time to grab a tropical drink and get ready for the Sail Away party on the deck! A fun time of games, music and dancing as the ship sails off! Meals: DINNER : We had the late seating for dinner (8:15) and loved our table of 10. It was a perfect match and our dinner became more of an event than a meal. The food was okay, some choices were better than others. Yes, I could critique it, but our personal favorites were the Beef Brisket, Flat Iron Steak and yes, the French Onion Soup! My daughter loved the Stuffed Mushrooms. I did pay the $20 upcharge for the Filet one evening. It WAS worth it, but please know that you will be waiting for your meal. Those of us that ordered were served as the others were finishing their meal. BREAKFAST: Definitely do the buffet to make your life easier and faster. The same food is served as in the dining room. If you want to be served, please go to the SeaDay Brunch in the Windstar Dining Room. I believe it is served from 8am-1pm. The Eggs Benedict and fresh fruit was great. The kids opted for the Stuffed French Toast! Also very good! LUNCH: We always opted to just grab a little something at one of the various options. My husband's favorite was the Mongolian Wok! NOTE: The little known secret is the "Rotisserie" section of the Grill! It has some of the same foods as the Grill, but additional carving stations. So skip the lines and head there for your chicken fingers! ATTIRE: You will see anything and everything in regards to attire. People, for the most part, followed the dress code. It was nice to see those that made the effort! Yes, the dress code is enforced. ENTERTAINMENT: Our only issue with entertainment was the timing of the shows. We had dinner at 8:15, so we were rarely able to get to any of the shows earlier than 10pm. We finally made it to the Punchliner (comedy) on the final day of our cruise. If you are traveling with the littles, they will enjoy the Towel Animal Theater where they learn to make towel animals. Oh, there is also a program where you can stuff your own animal up at the kids club. You do not have to be a part of the kids club to participate. You can ask for the bear "to go" and yes, you can stuff him in your own cabin if you like! It was $24 and well worth the smiles and laughter that he brought! Everyone that carried their Bear in a Box off that ship had a big smile on their face! POOL/WATERSLIDE/MINI GOLF: The waterslide was GREAT and we spent a lot of time there! The kids all seemed to enjoy it! The pool was packed and I mean packed. You need to go at an off time or you can't get in at all. That is the downside of this ship - one pool. However, they do have a splash play area and waterslides and most of the kids opted for that anyway. The best time to hit the pool was in the evening or when you got back from your day at Port. EXCURSIONS: We opted for two excursions - The Sea Lion Encounter at Blue Lagoon in Nassau and the JEEP excursion in Freeport. Sea Lion Encounter: Let's face it, the Sea Lion Encounter was fun and a once in a lifetime experience. However, it was not what it said it would be. First of all, the pick up time was suppose to be 8:30 and our tour guide never left with us until 10:30 You are escorted to a boat (short walking distance) that will take you to Blue Lagoon. Please note, there is no special seating for the handicapped. It was standing room only for the 30 minute boat ride. It would have been beautiful if we weren't standing like sardines in a can. The Sea Lion Encounter was simply adorable and yes, pics are expensive, but worth it. You will need to wear flip flops or some form of water shoe. The floating dock and ramp are very slippery and yes, somewhat steep. Ahh, now to the bad part. We were told there would be multiple boats back to the ship, so we could have some beach time. WOMP. There was not. "All Carnival must board the 2pm boat. All NCL can board the 2pm or 4pm boat". So basically, there was no time for lunch on the beach. Standing in line for pictures was just this side of ridiculous. No one wants to waste time doing that. Watching the dolphin and stingrays was very cool. If you opt to just do the beach portion, you can pay $20 extra to get kissed by a Sea Lion or Dolphin and have your picture taken. It is $16.xx extra per person to gain entry to the inflatable waterpark area. It is an extra $50 per person for the Segway tour (1 hour). My kids both did that, but only had 45 minutes due to the timing of the return boat to the ship. Overall a fun experience, but with the time change it wasn't worth the $600+ just for admission for a couple hours. JEEP Encounter (Freeport) - Would I do it again? No. We were greeted on time by our tour guide, a fun loving, animated woman "Jo-Jo" . She took our lunch order right on the ship and led us to the bus. The bus' air conditioning was very poor and it was packed to capacity with the 50 people from the two ships in port. NOTE: There is no bathroom stop from the time you meet at the ship (8:15) until you stop for lunch (11:45). By the time we got to the Botanical Garden, we all wanted to make a run for it. The radio in the JEEP was iffy - lots of feedback/static. It gives you a good feel for the island! Lunch at the Botanical Garden was good. After that, you get to go to the beach! Unfortunately, that left us 55 minutes from the time we arrived in the parking lot until the time we had to be back out to the parking lot. That was disappointing because the tour could have been so much shorter and we all would have enjoyed a few extra minutes in the water. The beach was gorgeous and the photo ops were plentiful! The JEEPS were fun to drive. Your "off road" portion is seriously one strip of a dirt road that was about a two minute drive. Overall, I would not take this tour again unless they changed it up a bit and offered a longer time at the beach. NOTE: If you have any issue with your excursion, you must address it while onboard! I had no idea, so just a head's up. STAFF/SERVICE: We could not have asked for a better experience with staff and service. Everyone was friendly and worked hard to meet your needs. It was nice to be greeted by name and many of our needs were anticipated and met before we had to ask! Our server was amazing and knew us all in a matter of minutes! EMBARKATION/DISEMBARKATION: Incredibly smooth experience. We opted to carry our own bags off the ship and it was a 1-2-3 experience. Again, please remember to have your Customs Declaration form filled out and IN HAND, along with your ID and your Sign and Sail card. NOTE: Please remember that you will need your ID and Sign and Sail Card at all ports of call. Your drivers license is fine, but you will need it to go through security to get back on the ship. Bottom line, I have been on many cruises. I have avoided Carnival because I have always heard it was the inferior line. I was more than pleasantly surprised and we had a great vacation. I will cruise Carnival again in the future. I hope this helps some of you! I know that the Ecstasy will benefit from going into dry dock, but there is nothing "bad" about the ship.

Way Better Than Expected! Easy Stay and Sail Hotel Package!

Carnival Ecstasy Cruise Review by gatormom108

11 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: August 2016
  • Destination: Bahamas
  • Cabin Type: Grand Suite
If you are currently booked on this cruise, please do not panic by the reviews you have read. I know that I sure did! This was my 15th cruise, but my first time sailing with Carnival. I was sailing with my husband and two of our older children (ages 17 and 21). A cruise is always what you make of it and the staff could not have tried any harder.

Yep, we made the ten hour drive for this cruise and stayed at the Holiday Inn Express with their stay and cruise package. The hotel was great and our transportation was perfect. Mr. Hamilton arrived to the hotel at 10:30 am and picked us up. We arrived to the pier around 11am. It was a very easy drop off. Our luggage was taken right there and we never had to think about it again. You go through various security check points, so have your documentation ready.

We had Priority boarding because we were staying in a Grand Suite, but the lines weren't bad at all! Security and Carnival did everything to keep the lines moving and let you know what to expect next! As always, please read what you can and cannot board with. The only thing holding up the line was the people that wanted to bring their open containers on board, etc.

Upon check in, we were told we could go directly to our cabin to drop off our carry-on bags. We were onboard by noon. All signs indicated that the cabins would not be available until 1:30 pm, but yes, our cabin was ready.

There are various options available for lunch, so we grabbed an outdoor seat and had our first meal onboard! Hey, it was good! I had stuffed eggplant, the kids opted for chicken fingers and a burger! Be sure you walk around and look in the water. There were SO many dolphin right there! It was time to grab a tropical drink and get ready for the Sail Away party on the deck! A fun time of games, music and dancing as the ship sails off!

Meals:

DINNER : We had the late seating for dinner (8:15) and loved our table of 10. It was a perfect match and our dinner became more of an event than a meal. The food was okay, some choices were better than others. Yes, I could critique it, but our personal favorites were the Beef Brisket, Flat Iron Steak and yes, the French Onion Soup! My daughter loved the Stuffed Mushrooms. I did pay the $20 upcharge for the Filet one evening. It WAS worth it, but please know that you will be waiting for your meal. Those of us that ordered were served as the others were finishing their meal.

BREAKFAST: Definitely do the buffet to make your life easier and faster. The same food is served as in the dining room. If you want to be served, please go to the SeaDay Brunch in the Windstar Dining Room. I believe it is served from 8am-1pm. The Eggs Benedict and fresh fruit was great. The kids opted for the Stuffed French Toast! Also very good!

LUNCH: We always opted to just grab a little something at one of the various options. My husband's favorite was the Mongolian Wok! NOTE: The little known secret is the "Rotisserie" section of the Grill! It has some of the same foods as the Grill, but additional carving stations. So skip the lines and head there for your chicken fingers!

ATTIRE: You will see anything and everything in regards to attire. People, for the most part, followed the dress code. It was nice to see those that made the effort! Yes, the dress code is enforced.

ENTERTAINMENT: Our only issue with entertainment was the timing of the shows. We had dinner at 8:15, so we were rarely able to get to any of the shows earlier than 10pm. We finally made it to the Punchliner (comedy) on the final day of our cruise. If you are traveling with the littles, they will enjoy the Towel Animal Theater where they learn to make towel animals. Oh, there is also a program where you can stuff your own animal up at the kids club. You do not have to be a part of the kids club to participate. You can ask for the bear "to go" and yes, you can stuff him in your own cabin if you like! It was $24 and well worth the smiles and laughter that he brought! Everyone that carried their Bear in a Box off that ship had a big smile on their face!

POOL/WATERSLIDE/MINI GOLF: The waterslide was GREAT and we spent a lot of time there! The kids all seemed to enjoy it! The pool was packed and I mean packed. You need to go at an off time or you can't get in at all. That is the downside of this ship - one pool. However, they do have a splash play area and waterslides and most of the kids opted for that anyway. The best time to hit the pool was in the evening or when you got back from your day at Port.

EXCURSIONS: We opted for two excursions - The Sea Lion Encounter at Blue Lagoon in Nassau and the JEEP excursion in Freeport.

Sea Lion Encounter: Let's face it, the Sea Lion Encounter was fun and a once in a lifetime experience. However, it was not what it said it would be. First of all, the pick up time was suppose to be 8:30 and our tour guide never left with us until 10:30 You are escorted to a boat (short walking distance) that will take you to Blue Lagoon. Please note, there is no special seating for the handicapped. It was standing room only for the 30 minute boat ride. It would have been beautiful if we weren't standing like sardines in a can. The Sea Lion Encounter was simply adorable and yes, pics are expensive, but worth it. You will need to wear flip flops or some form of water shoe. The floating dock and ramp are very slippery and yes, somewhat steep. Ahh, now to the bad part. We were told there would be multiple boats back to the ship, so we could have some beach time. WOMP. There was not. "All Carnival must board the 2pm boat. All NCL can board the 2pm or 4pm boat". So basically, there was no time for lunch on the beach. Standing in line for pictures was just this side of ridiculous. No one wants to waste time doing that. Watching the dolphin and stingrays was very cool. If you opt to just do the beach portion, you can pay $20 extra to get kissed by a Sea Lion or Dolphin and have your picture taken. It is $16.xx extra per person to gain entry to the inflatable waterpark area. It is an extra $50 per person for the Segway tour (1 hour). My kids both did that, but only had 45 minutes due to the timing of the return boat to the ship. Overall a fun experience, but with the time change it wasn't worth the $600+ just for admission for a couple hours.

JEEP Encounter (Freeport) - Would I do it again? No. We were greeted on time by our tour guide, a fun loving, animated woman "Jo-Jo" . She took our lunch order right on the ship and led us to the bus. The bus' air conditioning was very poor and it was packed to capacity with the 50 people from the two ships in port. NOTE: There is no bathroom stop from the time you meet at the ship (8:15) until you stop for lunch (11:45). By the time we got to the Botanical Garden, we all wanted to make a run for it. The radio in the JEEP was iffy - lots of feedback/static. It gives you a good feel for the island! Lunch at the Botanical Garden was good. After that, you get to go to the beach! Unfortunately, that left us 55 minutes from the time we arrived in the parking lot until the time we had to be back out to the parking lot. That was disappointing because the tour could have been so much shorter and we all would have enjoyed a few extra minutes in the water. The beach was gorgeous and the photo ops were plentiful! The JEEPS were fun to drive. Your "off road" portion is seriously one strip of a dirt road that was about a two minute drive. Overall, I would not take this tour again unless they changed it up a bit and offered a longer time at the beach.

NOTE: If you have any issue with your excursion, you must address it while onboard! I had no idea, so just a head's up.

STAFF/SERVICE: We could not have asked for a better experience with staff and service. Everyone was friendly and worked hard to meet your needs. It was nice to be greeted by name and many of our needs were anticipated and met before we had to ask! Our server was amazing and knew us all in a matter of minutes!

EMBARKATION/DISEMBARKATION: Incredibly smooth experience. We opted to carry our own bags off the ship and it was a 1-2-3 experience. Again, please remember to have your Customs Declaration form filled out and IN HAND, along with your ID and your Sign and Sail card. NOTE: Please remember that you will need your ID and Sign and Sail Card at all ports of call. Your drivers license is fine, but you will need it to go through security to get back on the ship.

Bottom line, I have been on many cruises. I have avoided Carnival because I have always heard it was the inferior line. I was more than pleasantly surprised and we had a great vacation. I will cruise Carnival again in the future. I hope this helps some of you! I know that the Ecstasy will benefit from going into dry dock, but there is nothing "bad" about the ship.
gatormom108’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Grand Suite
Cabin GS U107
In regards to the cabin, I wish I had listened to other reviewers. The price paid for the upgrade simply was not worth the extra money. The location and size were great. We were traveling as a family of four and thought we would appreciate the extra room. Unfortunately, the cabin is in need of upgrades. The mini fridge did not work at all and one of the three air vents was not working. There was no thermostat in the room and no way to get more air. It made for a warm trip. There was never really any "extra" room because once the beds were made up, they were never transformed back to a seating area. I didn't realize this until later in the trip that this is the "new" way. (I like the "old" way better - especially in a suite!)
Upper Deck Inside Cabins, Outside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Charleston
    Port Charleston: We took the Stay and Cruise (Holiday Inn Express) and our embarkation was flawless. When we were first dropped off, it seemed like there were too many people telling us which way to go. Keep your passports/ID out because it will be checked four times before boarding the ship.
    View All 249 Charleston Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Charleston Cruise Port Review
  • Jeep Tour
    Overall, I would not do this excursion again. Yes, the JEEP was a lot of fun, but we spent a lot of time just waiting around. Our tour guide was wonderful and we gained a lot of knowledge about the island. Your lunch choice will be taken by your tour guide in the morning upon pick up. They will guide you to the bus, which will take you to the Jeeps. Our bus did not have working air conditioning, so it made for a warm trip with 50 of us being transported. A lot of great photo ops, but the tour should be tweaked just a bit. It would be much more enjoyable with more beach time. You are met at the ship at 8:15am and the first opportunity for a bathroom is 11:45am. Our lunch at the Botanical Garden was simple, but good. We weren't there long, but had time to enjoy lunch, a quick walk and visit some of the shops. By the time we arrived to the beach, we had only 55 minutes from drop off in the parking lot to meeting back at the JEEP. That was disappointing. The beach looked beautiful and the water inviting. There just wasn't enough time. We ended up grabbing a soda and visiting the shops. Then it was time to be back and the JEEP. Please note, to be fair to everyone, you must be on time for each and every stop. We had two groups (37 and 13) and everyone must travel back to the ship together.
    View All 23 Jeep Tour Reviews
  • Sea Lion Encounter
    Overall, an experience of a lifetime. Disappointed that we were picked up two hours late for no reason and there were not multiple boats to return to the ship as stated in the description. "All Carnival must return on the 2pm boat." Long lines for photographs (45 minutes). No seating for the disabled. Standing room only on the 30 minute boat ride to Blue Lagoon. The Sea Lions and our very short beach time made the trip! You can pay $16 per person to go to the inflatable water park section. The Segway is an additional $50 person if you pay there. That was GREAT. If you want to kiss a dolphin or sea lion with any other package, you can for an additional $20. Please NOTE: You will need to walk down a ramp and on a floating dock. The dock is very hot and yes, slippery. Please wear some sort of shoe/sandal all the way down to the sea lions. They have additional baskets for your shoes right there at the sea lion pool. The actual encounter is only about 30 minutes long. It is divided into two parts - dry for pics and then the wet portion in the pool with the sea lion. A great opportunity to get up close and personal! Some great pics were taken!
    View All 27 Sea Lion Encounter Reviews