This is my fourth cruise on this lady, Carnival Ecstasy, she is in good shape for an old gal!
EMBARKMENT: My wife and I drove down from North Carolina and utilized the new cruise port parking arrangement. We used to park in an old warehouse and take buses after you dropped off the luggage at the parking lot. Now you drive in, they take your luggage and your park in the open air parking lot and take the shuttle to the cruise terminal. It appeared to be a little faster. The bottleneck at the terminal remained the same, long lines that are slow. You do get onto the ship in about an hour or so.
ON BOARD: Your room key is now at your cabin's mail slot next to the cabin door, so when you get on board if you want a drink you have to show your boarding pass and give your cabin/stateroom number, the new system is a little faster, but not much. You head to the buffet on deck 10 and have the "standard" buffet food, good but not great. You get into your cabin by 1:30pm, you room key card and onboard charge card is in the mail slot next to the cabin door.
INTERIOR: Rivera (4th deck) R63 is an interior cabin, with a queen bed, two twins pushed together. as my wife and I are CPAPer's we had the stateroom steward, Wayan, split the beds for us. He provided excellent service through out our cruise. Standard interior cabin, a little dated but functional.
ENTERTAINMENT: On the ship, the entertainment is by cruise staff, all production shows, a couple were good, the cruise director, Deon, is a high energy and very personable. The Punchliner Comedy Club had a very good comedian, Jody White, we only saw her PG show and it was an entertaining 45 minutes.
COST of DRINKS: They are getting expensive $6.50 for bottled beer and $9 and up for cocktails, similar to RCCL.
PORTS OF CALL: My wife had not been to Bermuda in about 25 years, back in "those days" we did the snorkeling, glass bottom boat, the pink sand beaches and explored the island, now we sort of just walk around the port area. I will comment later about Bermuda
it is a beautiful island to visit.
MAIN DINING ROOM: We were "your time dining" from 5:45 pm to 9:30 pm, and there are long lines to get into the restaurant and your are given the buzzer that goes off when your table is ready, no matter what time we went, early or about 7:30 pm, there was about a half hour wait time. We dining in the Wind Star main dining room and fortunately got the same section at our request, with the team head waiter Iman and the team waiter Sentana, with a third rotating team assistant waiter at tables 138 to 146. They provided excellent service throughout the cruise.
THE MENU: Standard fare, we had prime rib, two nights, beef tenderloin one night, and the menu varied on the beef and pork, with spare ribs, beef short ribs, along with the pasta, vegetarian, and seafood selection. There are two formal nights on the seven day cruise in which there are table cloths on the tables. The appetizers are standard, and they only have escargot (my favorite) one night of the cruise. Overall, the food was very good but not great.
Now the "salt shakers" in the main dining room are the little cylinder ceramic shakers with three little holes onto and THEY ALWAYS CLOG!!! Five of the seven nights we had to have our waiter bring us salt shakers that were not clogged. Carnival get new salt shakers! If that was my main complaint, what am I complaining about.
MEET and MINGLE gathering: I would have to rate it a poor compared to the Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines. There were about 25 Cruise Critic M and M folks, and they coffee, juice, water and danish. On RCCL's meet and mingle, they had bottles of wine and champagne, hats, a backpack and the coveted pens and markers.
THE CASINO: My wife and I were here on the Carnival Players Club "bounce back" casino offer, it you gamble "enough", and I do, you get a offer of an interior cabin for $100 per person, plus port charges and on board credit of $100 each, so essentially, its a "free cruise" excluding the port charges and taxes. Unfortunately the casino is small, and as I play three card poker (only two tables) and WPT heads up hold 'em (only one) I had limited table time as this cruise was also a Carnival players club "Premier" players club cruise and people were sitting at the table to play before the casino opened. There was a mix of old and new slot machines, mostly older vintage, and I did not hear of any really big slot machine wins announced.
DEBARKMENT: Under an hour we went from the gathering place, Sapphire Lounge to pick up our luggage, through customs onto the shuttle bus and to our car in under one hour. Amazingly fast.
OVERALL IMPRESSION: It was a nice cruise on an older ship, with standard accommodations, very good but not great food in the MDR that provided excellent service,that visited the beautiful island of Bermuda. There few kids on board as it is the school season, a good age group mix.
Standard interior cabin dated but functional. Small area in the bath room for your toiletries, shower with curtain, and the on the wall body wash and shampoo dispensers. Beds were comfortable but only one outlet, bring a power strip, but hide it in you luggage, as they may remove it upon inspection.
The port city of Chaleston is magical, with the shops and dining, the horse drawn carriages and the historic homes. Arrive a day or two earlier or stay a day or two later and explore
This is at the Royal Dockyard across the inlet from Hamilton which is about a half hour ferry ride. Kings Wharf is an historic naval fortress, that has several shops, restaurants and a museum to visit, otherwise, not much to see. For whatever reason the ship arrived during the day and sailed out at night to return to the same port twice in the three day stay.