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This was an all-gal trip for three of us in our sixties. We have all cruised before and two of us cruised on this ship in January of 2013, almost exactly 6 years ago, although we left from a different port and the cruise length was a day shorter then. We chose this cruise primarily because we were on a budget and wanted the most bang for our bucks. Even though the itinerary wasn't particularly adventurous, we know that half the fun is the company on the cruise and we had adjusted our "cruise attitudes" for maximum tolerance. HOTEL INFORMATION: We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express on Savannah Highway in Charleston. We chose this hotel because they participate in the "park and cruise" program so we could drive down from North Carolina (about 6 hours) and leave our car in the parking lot for the duration of the cruise. The hotel was sparkling clean, beds were comfortable, and there was a surprising number of electric and USB outlets. The breakfast was outstanding with not only the danish and coffee, but omelets, sausage, yogurt, a pancake maker, and just about anything one could want for breakfast. The shuttle to the port was quick and easy. The room covered two tickets, a a third was only $20 -- for both ways! This was a pleasant surprise. CRUISE PORT: I had never cruised from Charleston and I was a little surprised how much of the embarkation takes place out in the open parking lot as you rattle and roll through bumpy pavement from tent to tent checking first passports/ID and then boarding pass, etc. It felt that there were just too many passengers to let board at one time, so they manufactured these little stops to take up some time along the way. We had purchased Carnival's "Faster to the Fun" option and once we got through the parking lot, we were very quickly through security and on the ship. Except that the bunk had not been lowered, our cabin was ready for us. Charleston is quite a bit further north than its sister ports on the east coast, and the temperature was quite brisk on embarkation day. Most wore sweaters or jackets and only a few were enjoying the pool (more in the hot tubs). SHIP INFORMATION: I sailed on the Ecstasy in 2013 and have had the pleasure of cruising a number of times since, mostly on Carnival. This is a very small ship, in comparison to the rest of the Carnival fleet. There is no room for an outside theatre as many of the Carnival ships have, and there is a central elevated stage for music and contests and such. Movies were shown in one of the larger lounges. It's easy to quickly walk the length and breadth of this small ship. There are not as many outlets for evening entertainment, but that was not very important for us. I managed to get my 10K steps goal in every day but the last one. Our cruise director was Leon and I felt he did a good job and seemed genuine -- I especially liked his admonition at the conclusion of each of his talks reminding us to "be kind to one another" -- much needed advice on a cruise ship. CABIN Riveriera 145 (window view): Even though the Ecstasy was refurbished in 2017, I don't believe those improvements extended to the cabins. Our cabin was Riviera 145 -- a window room with two regular beds and a bunk. It looked identical to the room we had in 2013 (which was just down the hallway). I had gotten used to bigger rooms and was a little dismayed at first at the size, but when I compared photos later, it was indeed the same. We had the steward move one bed beneath the bunk, and that resulted in the most space available. The room was comfortable and there was enough room for clothing and accoutrements of three women traveling together. There was no full-length mirror in this cabin (usually on the inside of a closet door), but the vanity mirror was sufficient. Our room steward Roy (from Indonesia) kept our room in tip-top shape throughout our trip, leaving towel critters each evening, and always remembering our names and inquiring about our day's activities and adjusting his schedule to our convenience. There is no refrigerator in this cabin, but Roy provided an ice bucket and refilled it each evening. DINING: I had just returned from another Carnival cruise in December, so I was able to compare menus from a larger ship. The food in the dining room was tasty and there were always acceptable viands each evening. I was a little disappointed that no lobster was offered -- apparently that is now reserved for cruises of 7 days or longer. I could have paid the $20 extra for lobster, of course, on any evening. I enjoyed many of the "Port of Call" selections which I thought were very tasty and reinforced the theme of each island we visited. The sea-day brunch offered was not as nice as what was offered on the Glory just 3 weeks before. There, we had been offered filet minon and eggs and other upscale items that were missing from the Ecstasy menu, but ::shrug:: that was hardly a deal-breaker. We ate at the buffet several times, enjoyed the Guy's Burgers several times, and ate our breakfast from the buffet out on the deck every morning. ENTERTAINMENT: We caught one production show, but it seemed identical to the Motown show offered on Carnival cruises for several years. We were not exactly disappointed, but we didn't choose more of those productions. Two of my cabinmates wanted to see the PG comedy show, but it was always scheduled during our dinner hour, so we missed that. Contests and such were held on the lido deck and we hung out on the peaceful Serenity area, so we missed most of those. SHIP SHOPS: Carnival really needs to do something about their shops. They are boring and overpriced. I'd like to see some handmade products from the places or areas visited. There is even room for local craftspeople to demonstrate and sell items, possibly jewelry, for example. Carnival can do a lot better than what they are currently offering, and it would not be for naught -- I would gladly buy items like those featured on Novica or Gifts with a Cause. Even their ho-hum tee-shirts need some new designs. I'm growing weary of their neon offerings with shady sayings. Please. Do something here. GUEST SERVICES: We had no problems and the time or two we had a question or needed a small service was quickly handled. FASTER TO THE FUN: Unless we book a suite, we consider the $$ paid for this well worth it. We like the expedited embarkation and debarkation and having our cabins ready when we board the ship. On this cruise, we also used the priority tender service. Until I get to the Platinum level, I'll continue to purchase this option gladly. PORTS: • Freeport -- well, Freeport cruise terminal was boring. I saw mostly overpriced items from India and China. And the same thing at soooo many shops. I purchased nothing here, although I had money to spend! That's a terrible feeling on both sides of the bargaining table. Next time, I'll book an excursion. The last time I visited Freeport, I took a bike tour and that was a good way to get out into the island a bit. There certainly is nothing in the cruise terminal worth hanging around for. This could also be a good day to stay on the ship and enjoy the amenities there. • Half Moon Cay -- I've visited several times and it's beautiful, but I believe they need to do some landscaping work here. There is almost no shade except under man-made shelters. The beach is looking very barren. Carnival needs to culture some trees, make some shady hammock areas, something other than sun on a blistering beach. The Beach BBQ was adequate, but nothing really to write home about -- dry burgers and long lines. We had a brief shower while here, but managed to wait it out and it passed over quickly. • Nassau -- this trip, we booked an excursion to Blue Lagoon Island and it did not disappoint. My sister and fellow-traveler visited this location in the 90's and it was just beautiful. Carnival could take some pointers from the way they have things set up -- multiple kinds of places to enjoy the beach (beachfront, lagoon-front, and small-inlet-front) with a plethora of chairs and plenty of filtered shade and sunny areas. The meal offered with the excursion was similar to the private island BBQ, but what a difference! Burgers were moist and delicious; there were several local recipes offered (fried plaintain and rice dishes and delicious jerk chicken). We also had an opportunity to interact with the dolphins for less than $20!?! That was for a "dolphin kiss" and a photo (on a CD!) for just $19.99. Since there were only 3 of us, our guide ended up giving us the rest of the dolphin encounter for free. It was amazing. I also appreciated the way they "keep" the dolphins here -- they are free to swim out to sea, if they like, but they are tagged and monitored if they do so. I felt it was a good balance of caring for marine animals while letting us enjoy them. Five stars for this excursion to Blue Lagoon Island. DISEMBARKATION: Our Faster to the Fun privileges had us getting off the ship by about 7am! We were picked up our car about headed home by 7:30-ish. Amazing! We also had the option to say in our cabins until 8:30am and we considered that, but as there was snow coming at home, we opted to leave early. Note that unlike other Carnival ships which provided a continental-type breakfast for priority guests, this was not included for FTTF guests and ther was only 15 minutes between the start of continental breakfast on Lido and the leaving time in the lounge. We got a biscuit down the road. SUMMARY: If you are a "tourist" -- one who sees what he comes to see -- then you may not enjoy this small ship with its limited itinerary; but if you are a "traveler" who can take joy in most experiences and "chew up the meat and spit out the bone," when it comes to challenging experiences then you will likely enjoy your time on the Carnival Ecstasy.

Carnival Ecstasy -- six years later, still a solid experience

Carnival Ecstasy Cruise Review by honeychile

5 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: January 2019
  • Destination: Bahamas
  • Cabin Type: Ocean View
This was an all-gal trip for three of us in our sixties. We have all cruised before and two of us cruised on this ship in January of 2013, almost exactly 6 years ago, although we left from a different port and the cruise length was a day shorter then. We chose this cruise primarily because we were on a budget and wanted the most bang for our bucks. Even though the itinerary wasn't particularly adventurous, we know that half the fun is the company on the cruise and we had adjusted our "cruise attitudes" for maximum tolerance.

HOTEL INFORMATION: We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express on Savannah Highway in Charleston. We chose this hotel because they participate in the "park and cruise" program so we could drive down from North Carolina (about 6 hours) and leave our car in the parking lot for the duration of the cruise. The hotel was sparkling clean, beds were comfortable, and there was a surprising number of electric and USB outlets. The breakfast was outstanding with not only the danish and coffee, but omelets, sausage, yogurt, a pancake maker, and just about anything one could want for breakfast. The shuttle to the port was quick and easy. The room covered two tickets, a a third was only $20 -- for both ways! This was a pleasant surprise.

CRUISE PORT: I had never cruised from Charleston and I was a little surprised how much of the embarkation takes place out in the open parking lot as you rattle and roll through bumpy pavement from tent to tent checking first passports/ID and then boarding pass, etc. It felt that there were just too many passengers to let board at one time, so they manufactured these little stops to take up some time along the way. We had purchased Carnival's "Faster to the Fun" option and once we got through the parking lot, we were very quickly through security and on the ship. Except that the bunk had not been lowered, our cabin was ready for us. Charleston is quite a bit further north than its sister ports on the east coast, and the temperature was quite brisk on embarkation day. Most wore sweaters or jackets and only a few were enjoying the pool (more in the hot tubs).

SHIP INFORMATION: I sailed on the Ecstasy in 2013 and have had the pleasure of cruising a number of times since, mostly on Carnival. This is a very small ship, in comparison to the rest of the Carnival fleet. There is no room for an outside theatre as many of the Carnival ships have, and there is a central elevated stage for music and contests and such. Movies were shown in one of the larger lounges. It's easy to quickly walk the length and breadth of this small ship. There are not as many outlets for evening entertainment, but that was not very important for us. I managed to get my 10K steps goal in every day but the last one. Our cruise director was Leon and I felt he did a good job and seemed genuine -- I especially liked his admonition at the conclusion of each of his talks reminding us to "be kind to one another" -- much needed advice on a cruise ship.

CABIN Riveriera 145 (window view): Even though the Ecstasy was refurbished in 2017, I don't believe those improvements extended to the cabins. Our cabin was Riviera 145 -- a window room with two regular beds and a bunk. It looked identical to the room we had in 2013 (which was just down the hallway). I had gotten used to bigger rooms and was a little dismayed at first at the size, but when I compared photos later, it was indeed the same. We had the steward move one bed beneath the bunk, and that resulted in the most space available. The room was comfortable and there was enough room for clothing and accoutrements of three women traveling together. There was no full-length mirror in this cabin (usually on the inside of a closet door), but the vanity mirror was sufficient. Our room steward Roy (from Indonesia) kept our room in tip-top shape throughout our trip, leaving towel critters each evening, and always remembering our names and inquiring about our day's activities and adjusting his schedule to our convenience. There is no refrigerator in this cabin, but Roy provided an ice bucket and refilled it each evening.

DINING: I had just returned from another Carnival cruise in December, so I was able to compare menus from a larger ship. The food in the dining room was tasty and there were always acceptable viands each evening. I was a little disappointed that no lobster was offered -- apparently that is now reserved for cruises of 7 days or longer. I could have paid the $20 extra for lobster, of course, on any evening. I enjoyed many of the "Port of Call" selections which I thought were very tasty and reinforced the theme of each island we visited. The sea-day brunch offered was not as nice as what was offered on the Glory just 3 weeks before. There, we had been offered filet minon and eggs and other upscale items that were missing from the Ecstasy menu, but ::shrug:: that was hardly a deal-breaker. We ate at the buffet several times, enjoyed the Guy's Burgers several times, and ate our breakfast from the buffet out on the deck every morning.

ENTERTAINMENT: We caught one production show, but it seemed identical to the Motown show offered on Carnival cruises for several years. We were not exactly disappointed, but we didn't choose more of those productions. Two of my cabinmates wanted to see the PG comedy show, but it was always scheduled during our dinner hour, so we missed that. Contests and such were held on the lido deck and we hung out on the peaceful Serenity area, so we missed most of those.

SHIP SHOPS: Carnival really needs to do something about their shops. They are boring and overpriced. I'd like to see some handmade products from the places or areas visited. There is even room for local craftspeople to demonstrate and sell items, possibly jewelry, for example. Carnival can do a lot better than what they are currently offering, and it would not be for naught -- I would gladly buy items like those featured on Novica or Gifts with a Cause. Even their ho-hum tee-shirts need some new designs. I'm growing weary of their neon offerings with shady sayings. Please. Do something here.

GUEST SERVICES: We had no problems and the time or two we had a question or needed a small service was quickly handled.

FASTER TO THE FUN: Unless we book a suite, we consider the $$ paid for this well worth it. We like the expedited embarkation and debarkation and having our cabins ready when we board the ship. On this cruise, we also used the priority tender service. Until I get to the Platinum level, I'll continue to purchase this option gladly.

PORTS:

• Freeport -- well, Freeport cruise terminal was boring. I saw mostly overpriced items from India and China. And the same thing at soooo many shops. I purchased nothing here, although I had money to spend! That's a terrible feeling on both sides of the bargaining table. Next time, I'll book an excursion. The last time I visited Freeport, I took a bike tour and that was a good way to get out into the island a bit. There certainly is nothing in the cruise terminal worth hanging around for. This could also be a good day to stay on the ship and enjoy the amenities there.

• Half Moon Cay -- I've visited several times and it's beautiful, but I believe they need to do some landscaping work here. There is almost no shade except under man-made shelters. The beach is looking very barren. Carnival needs to culture some trees, make some shady hammock areas, something other than sun on a blistering beach. The Beach BBQ was adequate, but nothing really to write home about -- dry burgers and long lines. We had a brief shower while here, but managed to wait it out and it passed over quickly.

• Nassau -- this trip, we booked an excursion to Blue Lagoon Island and it did not disappoint. My sister and fellow-traveler visited this location in the 90's and it was just beautiful. Carnival could take some pointers from the way they have things set up -- multiple kinds of places to enjoy the beach (beachfront, lagoon-front, and small-inlet-front) with a plethora of chairs and plenty of filtered shade and sunny areas. The meal offered with the excursion was similar to the private island BBQ, but what a difference! Burgers were moist and delicious; there were several local recipes offered (fried plaintain and rice dishes and delicious jerk chicken). We also had an opportunity to interact with the dolphins for less than $20!?! That was for a "dolphin kiss" and a photo (on a CD!) for just $19.99. Since there were only 3 of us, our guide ended up giving us the rest of the dolphin encounter for free. It was amazing. I also appreciated the way they "keep" the dolphins here -- they are free to swim out to sea, if they like, but they are tagged and monitored if they do so. I felt it was a good balance of caring for marine animals while letting us enjoy them. Five stars for this excursion to Blue Lagoon Island.

DISEMBARKATION: Our Faster to the Fun privileges had us getting off the ship by about 7am! We were picked up our car about headed home by 7:30-ish. Amazing! We also had the option to say in our cabins until 8:30am and we considered that, but as there was snow coming at home, we opted to leave early. Note that unlike other Carnival ships which provided a continental-type breakfast for priority guests, this was not included for FTTF guests and ther was only 15 minutes between the start of continental breakfast on Lido and the leaving time in the lounge. We got a biscuit down the road.

SUMMARY: If you are a "tourist" -- one who sees what he comes to see -- then you may not enjoy this small ship with its limited itinerary; but if you are a "traveler" who can take joy in most experiences and "chew up the meat and spit out the bone," when it comes to challenging experiences then you will likely enjoy your time on the Carnival Ecstasy.
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Cabin Review

Ocean View
Cabin 6B R145
Even though the Ecstasy was refurbished in 2017, I don't believe those improvements extended to the cabins. Our cabin was Riviera 145 -- a window room with two regular beds and a bunk. It looked identical to the room we had in 2013 (which was just down the hallway). I had gotten used to bigger rooms and was a little dismayed at first at the size, but when I compared photos later, it was indeed the same. We had the steward move one bed beneath the bunk, and that resulted in the most space available. The room was comfortable and there was enough room for clothing and accoutrements of three women traveling together. There was no full-length mirror in this cabin (usually on the inside of a closet door), but the vanity mirror was sufficient. Our room steward Roy (from Indonesia) kept our room in tip-top shape throughout our trip, leaving towel critters each evening, and always remembering our names and inquiring about our day's activities and adjusting his schedule to our convenience. There is no refrigerator in this cabin, but Roy provided an ice bucket and refilled it each evening.
Main Deck Inside Cabins, Outside Cabins, Balcony Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Charleston
    : I had never cruised from Charleston and I was a little surprised how much of the embarkation takes place out in the open parking lot as you rattle and roll through bumpy pavement from tent to tent checking first passports/ID and then boarding pass, etc. It felt that there were just too many passengers to let board at one time, so they manufactured these little stops to take up some time along the way. We had purchased Carnival's "Faster to the Fun" option and once we got through the parking lot, we were very quickly through security and on the ship.
    View All 244 Charleston Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Charleston Cruise Port Review
  • Freeport
    Freeport cruise terminal was boring. I saw mostly overpriced items from India and China. And the same thing at soooo many shops. I purchased nothing here, although I had money to spend! That's a terrible feeling on both sides of the bargaining table. Next time, I'll book an excursion. The last time I visited Freeport, I took a bike tour and that was a good way to get out into the island a bit. There certainly is nothing in the cruise terminal worth hanging around for. This could also be a good day to stay on the ship and enjoy the amenities there.
    View All 1,336 Freeport Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Freeport Cruise Port Review
  • Half Moon Cay
    I've visited several times and it's beautiful, but I believe they need to do some landscaping work here. There is almost no shade except under man-made shelters. The beach is looking very barren. Carnival needs to culture some trees, make some shady hammock areas, something other than sun on a blistering beach. The Beach BBQ was adequate, but nothing really to write home about -- dry burgers and long lines. We had a brief shower while here, but managed to wait it out and it passed over quickly.
    View All 1,175 Half Moon Cay Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Half Moon Cay Cruise Port Review
  • Blue Lagoon Island Beach
    , we booked an excursion to Blue Lagoon Island and it did not disappoint. My sister and fellow-traveler visited this location in the 90's and it was just beautiful. Carnival could take some pointers from the way they have things set up -- multiple kinds of places to enjoy the beach (beachfront, lagoon-front, and small-inlet-front) with a plethora of chairs and plenty of filtered shade and sunny areas. The meal offered with the excursion was similar to the private island BBQ, but what a difference! Burgers were moist and delicious; there were several local recipes offered (fried plaintain and rice dishes and delicious jerk chicken). We also had an opportunity to interact with the dolphins for less than $20!?! That was for a "dolphin kiss" and a photo (on a CD!) for just $19.99. Since there were only 3 of us, our guide ended up giving us the rest of the dolphin encounter for free. It was amazing. I also appreciated the way they "keep" the dolphins here -- they are free to swim out to sea, if they like, but they are tagged and monitored if they do so. I felt it was a good balance of caring for marine animals while letting us enjoy them. Five stars for this excursion to Blue Lagoon Island.
    View All 250 Blue Lagoon Island Beach Reviews