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Brian H

Age: 39


Number of Cruises: 1

Cruise Line: Carnival

Ship: Carnival Ecstasy

Sailing Date: 2009-10-26

Itinerary: Western Caribbean

This was my first cruise, but the second for my husband, and one of several for three others with us. Embarkation was a breeze despite driving rain that caught everyone completely off-guard. Once on board, I confess I was having a bunch of "Oooh! Shiny!" moments as I looked around the ship. However, I did have the feeling that everything looked cheesy. Not cheap, but certainly not elegant. There was plenty to do, but by the end of the cruise, I felt like I had my fingers in an electrical socket for five days (along with a drink surgically attached to my right hand). Disembarkation was remarkably easy, except for the cattle call courtesy of Customs. (It was easy to tell which line I stood in was run by Carnival, and which one was run by Customs -- the one run by Carnival had carpeting and air conditioning.)

The food at both the buffet and the main dining room was good - not superb, but certainly nothing awful. There were certainly highlights -- I had some fabulous braised short ribs in the main dining room on the final night. The best dessert of the week was a mainstay in the dining room - the Warm Melting Chocolate Cake (complete truth in advertising for this dessert). There was also a uniformly excellent Mexican buffet on the 3rd night (after leaving Progresso). This buffet was the best one of the week. The final morning buffet before debarkation also had the weirdest food moment -- the cream cheese turned yellow because it had been frozen the night before. (Note to Carnival: YOU DON'T FREEZE CREAM CHEESE!)

We had an outside stateroom on the Upper Deck. The two twin beds were pushed together to make a king-size bed, which was about all the room we had. (However, we didn't pay for much more than this!) I will say that the organization of the space was one that would make IKEA proud - two small closets plus shelves in a third closet with the safe. This was plenty of room for all of our clothes - and we had enough clothes for three costume changes each day! The ventilation was a bit finicky, but it kept the room nice and cool at night.

The activities on board were non-stop - and those were the planned activities! Between the Mini Golf challenge, the multiple trivia challenges, and the various stage events (including a Hairy Chest contest - designed for the ladies, but secretly for the gay men on board, thankyouverymuch!), we had plenty to do. In fact, I was feeling bored by the last day, when in fact all I needed to do was unplug from everything.

We skipped the excursions in Progresso, as nothing intrigued us. We did take the Mexican Cuisine Cooking and Tasting excursion in Cozumel. This was at the Playa Mia Beach Park, down the road from the dock. We both had a great time there -- and this was before the open bar! There is a twin excursion at Playa Mia that doesn't include the cooking demo that will be just as good for you if you don't like to cook.

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