First I would like to say that the staff on this ship was excellent! Unfortunately the overall cruise left us rather disappointed. I knew going in this was going to be a budget get away but I expected more from Carnival. It is obvious they cut corners to cut cost on this older ship.
Now for the details:
Jacksonville Port: 5/5 stars. We paid for parking at the cruise terminal and parking was right there in front of the ship. Since we had Faster to the Fun we walked right in, checked in, had our bags scanned, and were on the boat without any wait at all. Our car was safe for the week and we were able to disembark, walk out to the car, load up, and drive away within minutes of getting off the boat. No need for taxi or shuttle.
Ship: 2/5 Stars. The Carnival Ecstasy is an old ship. Overall it is still in good condition but it does show its age. There was a smell of sewage or trash on occasion in different areas of the ship. I do not think it was lack of cleanliness, as the staff was very attentive to keeping things clean, but more due to a lack of ventilation on this old ship. This layout of the public areas is choppy and makes for crowded events. The pool is way to small the hot tubs are tiny. The one club with a dance floor was extremely small. The Buffet is small. The putt putt golf course is unusable space due to wind. Overall its just a poor design that lacked functionality for a cruise ship.
Cabin: 3/5 stars. Cabin M262 Ocean View (6b) was a good size. The window was nice to have. On Port days we could feel a good bit of engine vibration as the ship positioned itself and the tie ropes were pulled out. However since we were already waking up for the day this was not that disruptive. Our room steward was excellent. I did notice some stains on the linens and the pool towels looked old. The room needs more draw space and at least 2 power outlets. The TV worked fine though it was small. The first night it was kind of warm but apparently they fixed something because our room stayed nice and cool after that.
Food and Dining: 1/5 stars. The food was very lackluster and basic. Breakfast buffet was equal to a basic hotel breakfast. It was exactly the same every day. On 2 occasions my husband got spoiled milk! The lunch and dinner buffet was not better. It was small, had very few options, and the desserts were not good. There was a serious lack of vegetable options at all dining venues. If you are hungry later at night your options are soft serve ice-cream that melted faster than it could dispense into a bowl or pizza from the 24 hour pizza counter (which we never tried). The dessert selection was mediocre at best. I found some chocolate chip cookies a couple times that were pretty good and resorted to taking about a dozen back to our room to have as a snack after the evening comedy show ended. The main dining room food was good but not "great", for example the steak was flavorless. The staff at the main dining room was great though sometimes they took a little too long to bring dessert menus or refill our water glasses. There were a few things that were good but overall Carnival needs to up their game on this cruise’s menu.
Entertainment and Activities: 2.5/5 stars. Before 7pm it was total boredom unless you wanted to hang out at the pool which was way too small and over crowded, play bingo, or gamble in the casino. After 7pm the entertainment was pretty good. The evening stage shows were excellent. The Comedy guys were pretty good. One guy was better than the other one but both made us laugh. Beyond the stage shows and the comedians there was a piano bar /sing along which was cool until overly drunk people came in and were so loud and obnoxious you couldn’t enjoy it anymore. There was a violin duo which was very good but there wasn’t much room to sit and listen or dance while they played. There was a band at another bar area that was great but it was right in the main walk through so you couldn’t dance there either. There wasn’t really anywhere to go to dance other than the one “nightclub” room that was small and had a DJ that played music based on a theme (80’s, 90’s, Motown etc) for about an hour.
Service: 5/5 Stars. The staff and crew are all very hard working and attentive to the guests. Only one staff was somewhat rude. My husband stopped a buffet staff member to tell him about the spoiled milk and his response was “get another one” and he walked away. Later we let the head staff member know about the milk and he seemed aware there was a problem.
Ports and Shore Excursions 2.5/5 stars: We went to Half Moon Cay which was beautiful but lacked activities in my opinion. We did not try to eat at the cook out on the island and went back to the ship for lunch.
In Nassau we just walked around close to the port since we stopped here right after a major hurricane and there was a huge influx of refugees from the other Bahama Islands. I was happy to find a Starbucks for some coffee and we shopped at the touristy souvenir shops. Obviously there is more to this beautiful Island but we just did not venture very far. There were a lot of people urging you to take their taxi or carriage ride or buy from their shop. This is expected and no one was too aggressive, a polite “no thank you” from us and they moved on to the next passenger that walked by.
We took the Behind the Fun tour on the ship and it was enjoyable. If you like to learn how the ship is ran it’s a great experience. Unfortunately we had rough seas the day of our tour and by the time it ended we were quite sea sick.
The window was nice to have but it was dirty. On Port days we could feel a good bit of engine vibration as the ship positioned itself and the tie ropes were pulled out. However since we were already waking up for the day this was not that disruptive. Our room steward was excellent. I did notice some stains on the linens and the pool towels looked old. The room needs more draw space and at least 2 power outlets. The TV worked fine though it was small. The first night it was kind of warm but apparently they fixed something because our room stayed nice and cool after that.