Carnival Ecstasy Cruise Review by krayzmelmel
- Sail Date: March 2012
- Destination: Bahamas
We woke up to a sunny and beautiful Florida day! We made our way to the port around 9am and got to the port around 10am. My husband and I previously checked-in in online and had our baggage tags already. My parents couldn't check in online for some reason, so they had to check in the old fashioned way, standing by a table in the sun while a person went down a very very long list of names! They got their baggage tags, and we dropped off our baggage.
Ahead of time, I researched and did not want to pay the $90 to park. So instead, we opted to park at the Radisson, which charged $4.95 a night ($35 total). It was nice because we had already dropped our baggage off, so when we drove to the Radisson to drop off our minivan and get into the shuttle, it was relatively easy and painless. (Boy my opinion changed by the end but save that for later) We walked and waited in a very short line to officially check in. We learned from our last cruise that the Sign and Sail card, which was attached directly to our bank account was a bad idea, so we just put in $120 cash. ($20/day plus some wiggle room). We had previously paid for the one ship's excursion as well as for the tips.
We got our embarkation Zone number 10 and after our picture was taken (one of MANY) we were directed to sit until our number was called. They were on zone 2 when we sat down but it went fast!
Around 11am, we were able to board. yay yay! Our rooms weren't going to be ready until 130, so we were able to grab a table on the lido deck and a pool lounge chair as well and we ate our first meal on the boat. My mom enjoyed the mongolian grill, which at that time was a short line and we chilled on deck. We took turns exploring the ship as well. I was originally presented with a blue first timer S&S card, because I last cruised with CCL with my maiden name. After proving I was the same person, I got a gold one!!
at around 1pm, My husband went to go see if our room was ready... and it was!! We didn't see our room steward much, but he was good! We ran and got our stuff and my parents, and we unpacked and chilled until our muster drill, which was scheduled for 330. We were excited for our first window view! My husband says that now that we've had a window, we can never go back to exterior! uh oh :-p
Mustard (i mean muster) drill time! We went down to our muster station around 320 pm, and there was no one there! Most people meandered around 330, and we didn't get started until 4pm. As they were directed us on how to put on our life jacket, our boat started moving very slowly. So much for a "Bon Voyage" (I don't know why, but I always imagine a ton of people on the dock waving and cheering as we leave, and it never happens!). Something that was different than that last time we cruise (last Summer, RCI) was that we were directed to go to the lifeboat deck. After we were released, my family and a couple of others stayed to watched the boat do a massive three point turn and head out into sea.
Dinner time. We chose Anytime Dining because we had a good experience on the last cruise we went to. We never waited more than a few minutes, and we usually had the same table and waitstaff in a good location. This was NOT the same on this cruise! Every time I went past the line it was wrapped around the atrium.. this was about 7-8pm. Luckily, the sickies in the family didn't even want to think about food until after 9, and by that time there was no line! The food was ok... and the waiters did everything they can to make my DH and my mom feel better.. by the end of the meal, they were feeling ok (i think the meds kicked in) and it was time for the Welcome show! DH decided to go back to the pool deck to settle his stomach, so my parents and I went to the show. It was ok.. short. We met Chris the cruise director for the first time, and the comedians did a few minutes as well. They were scheduled to have adults only shows at 11pm and 12am.
On the way to the 11pm show was the CASINO! Sigh.. what a money grabbing place. After my husband and I each donated $10, we made our way to the first comedian. He was funny so we decided to wait for the 12am comedian.. which was ehhh.... We then decided to turn in for evening and NOT set the alarm....ahhhh it was like a hammock!
Nassau - See below
Back on board... Elegant Night. Although.. I would name it Not so Elegant Night. I have to stop comparing this cruise to our last cruise.. which was a European Cruise with RCI. We had three formal nights.. and there were many, many tuxedos (including my husband!). this one seemed a lot more casual, and I guess the food matched.
I did have a thought and comment for improvement. After the first night which we dined late, we chose to eat at the earliest time which was 545. Yes the line wrapped around the atrium and even overlapped, but we were just waiting to be seated and didn't have to wait for people to be done with their meals. So for the second and third nights, which was early, we were seated in the middle, in the middle of the dining room. this meant that everyone else who were seated after us, also in the middle, walked by while we were seated. This was kinda uncomfortable, because the tables were a bit close to each other and sometimes we were bumped. I would suggest that they started loading from the rear? I guess it would create the same problems though... never mind :-p Lobster and Prime Rib tonight.... yum! and of course.... the Chocolate Melting Cake. I think my mom and traded off each night who got to order it!
The show that night was Extreme Country. I am not a fan of country music, but the show wasn't bad at all. The fiddler was good, and we were able to see the dancers, some cool scene changes and enjoyed both the male and female lead singers. My mom and I chose to watch (my DH stayed on the pool deck and watched Top Gear on our Ipad and my dad went wandering).
We watched from the top deck because we were a few minutes late, and didn't mind the view (although we couldn't really sit back and watch because of the railing, which blocked the view). at one point, it was funny because the way I was sitting, the lead singer's body looked like it was separate from her head! I think we turned in early that evening.. the boat wasn't rocky anymore and tomorrow is
Half Moon Cay Day! (see below)
The show tonight was a tribute to the Blue's Brothers.. starring our Cruise Director Chris!! He was very good, and he announced that it was his last sailing on this ship. We then participated in one of the trivia games (I was top 3... so close to getting a Ship on a Stick!) We watched the crazy college kids to the Carnival Quest, which was like an adult scavenger hunt. It was so funny to watch! Next... onto Freeport!
How can I forget about our Day at Sea!!! We woke up nice and slowly... so slowly that I forgot to attend the Towel Animals class! Oh well... I bought the book on the Dream 2 years ago so no loss. Something that was REQUIRED for me to attend was the Newlywed Show! We were the "Honeymooners" during our honeymoon, so it was a very memorable time! This time was funny! I LOVED the 60 years of marriage couple.. they were so cute!
This was the only day we had lunch in the dining room. I had the steak salad. VERY yummy! We also attended the Ship's Q&A session with our Cruise Director Chris. I learned a lot! Of course, the questions that Chris did not answer was anything about salaries or money, and he did not answer any questions that dealt with the "recent events of the cruise industries". Bummer. Oh well... I learned how the hiring process went, as well as how family of the crew can sail for cheap!
We also did Tea Time. I thought it was cute! good piano music at the piano bar, and cute little goodies and snacks. Although, they were serving slices of cake that I thought was really big for a tea party!
Freeport Day! (see Below)
We got back to the room, and we saw that we had zone 16. a quick to call to my parents, and they had zone 2. So we were able to switch to zone 2.. yay! Dinner was good.. I think? I don't really remember anymore after all our feasting! Haha I DO remember saying goodbye to my FAVORITE dessert!
Saved the best.. err worst :-p for last.... Disembarkation day!
Our schedule for zone 2 was to be called for 1005-1015am. Around 10am, it was announced that zones 1-5 were cleared we can get off! The elevators were being used for luggage and loading, so we took the atrium elevators until level 7 (the lowest the go) and took the stairs down until level 3. (I'm glad we didn't have our luggage.. it would have been a challenge to drag it all down 4 flights of stairs!!!
Off the boat we went and sent to our zone table for our luggage. We got everyone's except one of my mom's! I guess her tag fell off and there was a pile of "unclaimed" luggage. There was a bit of a line to get through customs.. but once we were there we just showed our passports and our customs form ($60 worth of souvenirs!) we strolled past the port parking lot to wait for our Radisson Shuttle.
Luckily, I gave my DH the receipt for our return shuttle! There were a few people who lost their receipt, but they were able to get on anyways. The shuttles are SMALL.. only about 4-5 parties were able to fit at a time. They also only had around 2 shuttles. (The guy stated that there were 4 ships in port that day, and they had 10 shuttles, but still.. they should have been prepared!)
We waited for about an hour and a half. LOOONG time to wait around in the sun! the "big bus" arrived which held 30 people. They put all our luggage in a trailer and FINALLY off we went! the driver said because we were still on vacation.... he would drop us off individually in front of our cars and he would unload the luggage.. no problem.
WHAT?? How would that work!! We were one of the first people to board the bus ... which meant our luggage was waaay at the back! So right after we entered the complex, two girls said... our car is the silver truck on the right. haha I think the WHOLE bus but off at this point.. no one wanted to wait for each family to be unloaded in front of their car! It was quite the trek back to the van, but we got there, got gas and started driving the 2 1/2 hours back home.
VACATION! - beautiful weather - it was nice traveling with a small group - all our excursions and adventures - the price (about $389 for an OCEANVIEW!)
not so ++++++
CROWDED and full of Crazy College Kids!! (But what was I expecting, smack in the middle of Spring Break) ,
and parking. Would I do it again to save $60? probably!
Yeah it was an older ship and there were some rainy spots.. but we didn't it it RAIN OR OUR PARADE! :-D
First time ocean view. Loved it! Although, the windows themselves were rather dirty and need a good cleaning!
Port & Shore Excursion Reviews
SnorkelingFor my dad's birthday, I researched some snorkeling trips that we could take, and I made sure that it was from the shore. I read on both CC and trip advisor that a good snorkeling trip we can go on was Deadman's Reef at Paradise Cove, which was for $35 pp including transportation. I had originally emailed him wondering what was the cost if someone did not want to partake in snorkeling, and a quick reply from Barry stated that the cost was the same, but that non-snorkeling person could have a free drink and lawn chair. SOLD!View All 83 Snorkeling Reviews
On the ride to Paradise Cove, it was stressed and stressed again that everyone had to sign the form for the manifest, and on the 25 minute ride, the driver gave us some history of Grand Bahama island. We passed through the industrial section, which included the communication, power, and dry docks. What saddened me was the destruction of Hurricane Wilma in 2005. LOTS of buildings were destroyed, including most of the units at Paradise Cove.
We pulled into Paradise Cove, and waited in line to pay. We all decided to try Snorkeling (yay!) so we paid and received our tickets to pick up our snorkeling gear, which included a mask, snorkel, fins, and a flotation belt. We had a briefing on what to watch out for, and were informed that since it was low tide, we couldn't walk in the water because it might damage the precious corals.
We suited up, and off we went!
The reef itself is behind some rocks, and it took a while to get there, but the swim was nice. Once we got out, it was about 15-30 feet deep, and we saw LOADS of fish... Manta Rays, and my husband even said he saw turtles! nice! I had no idea that we could see that kind of wildlife right from the shore. Water temp was cold upon impact, but it was easy to get used to it. We swam for about an hour, and rinsed off at the showers. This was about 12 or so.
On the way back, we went through a different route, and arrived at the cruise ship around 1pm. My dad and DH were tired, so they went back to the ship, and my mom and I wandered around the little shops. Most everything was very expensive (compared to Nassau) so we also went back to the ship. (which was good, because it started pouring shortly after we got back).
Half Moon CayHalf Moon Cay! (8-5pm) We didn't want to hurry... today was our relaxing day. No wait at the tenders... once one departed another one pulled up! Very Sunny day. We are not "sun" people, so we wanted to get a clam shell. There were a bunch after the cabana numbers started and we grabbed one. After a few minutes to figure out how it went, we finally went to the rental cabin where we were told that someone would be out shortly. heh after 30 minutes, we finally got our clamshell!View All 959 Half Moon Cay Cruise Port Reviews
Dipped our toes in the water... brrr cold!!! good thing was that once your body got used to it... it was quite pleasant, almost like our non-heated pool at home! Lunch was served from 1130-130pm, so around 1230 we ate lunch. my DH "volunteered to stay with our stuff" (yeah right.. he was sleeping!) Lunch was good.. burgers, hotdogs, salads. It was really near our location too! I brought a plate of food back to DH, and so did my mom! so he ate a lot. relaxation was the goal today, and we achieved!
We wanted to head out by 3pm to avoid the rush.... when around 250pm, clouds started creeping and it started to rain! so we quickly packed.. .and waited.. and waited in a very long line back to a tender (about an hour). I think they only had two running. We fortunately were on the bottom, because it started pouring on the way back to the boat. then it was attached, and the rain subsided so we were climbing up the ladder to get onto the boat... the line was inching, and then the rain fell again... good thing I had a towel, but those without towels were drenched! I was scared because I stopped directly on the gangway and it was sliding back and forth... I had scary thoughts of it falling off the boat and me falling with it!
View Cruise Critic's Half Moon Cay Cruise Port Review
AtlantisWe were in Nassau from 11am-6pm. It was the Atlantis Tour and Harbor Cruise.View All 202 Atlantis Reviews
Our excursion wasn't until 115pm, so we decided to stroll around Nassau. We even made it to Junkanoo Beach, which is the closest free beach from the port. Not a bad walk... I was just amazed by all the people driving the wrong way!! hehe. Pretty beach... the water was brr cold though!
We then walked to the straw market. I have to say I was very impressed with the market itself. When we went in 2006, it was dark and dingy, and the vendors were all pulling at us and being pushy. This time... it was nice and neat and organized, and the vendors were very polite.
We were checked in by 130 (bahamas time is VERY relaxed I noticed) and made our way to the ship, which looked like a combination shuttle boat/glass bottom boat. I thought to myself.. yay! but we were only able to go to the top of the boat and had a scenic tour via water of Nassau and Paradise Island, where the Atlantis is. We even saw Nicholas Cage's house and a house that is for sale for $2 million! I'm starting to save now!
We were dropped off at the dock and it was stated that a return boat will depar every half an hour from 330-5pm. ok... We better keep a watch on the time!
We walked past a cute little marina town with shops and cafes, and went through the casino. They showcased sculptures from Chihuly.
Past the casinos we went to the aquarium, which is advertised as the largest outdoor marine aquarium in the world!
I was VERY impressed with this tour. It was extensive, and there is a lot that is included! so many beautiful fish and HUGE manta rays! We went from room to room and I love how everything is themed as the lost city of Atlantis.
Some time to walk around the beautiful hotel.... minimum stay around $300 per night.... but there is a LOT to do!
When we finished, we had just missed the 330 boat, so we took a leisurely tour back to the marina and even had Starbucks and Ben&Jerry's on the way back.
My dad and DH ventured back to our ship, and my mom and I stayed at port for a bit to shop. (WE LOVE SHOPPING!) My mom found a gorgeous coral necklace set at the Straw Market, and received compliments throughout the cruise.