Number of Cruises: First Cruise
Cruise Line: Carnival
Ship: Carnival Ecstasy
Sailing Date: April 1st, 2002
Itinerary: 4 night from LA to Mexico
This was our first cruise, for our honeymoon.
We took the Carnival shuttle from the airport. While efficient, the driver swore at several occasions on the ride to the ship, which did not give us a great first impression. Embarkation went smoothly and our luggage was delivered within a couple hours of arriving on the ship.
The room: very small and the bedding was sub-par. The sheets didn't quite fit the mattresses (resulting in the sheets continuously slipping off during the night) and the bedspreads were stained and frayed. Our outside window was large and did offer a nice view, and we were mid-ship on the Riviera deck, close to the elevators aft. The bathroom was clean. The in room TV offered only a couple channels that came in. The same movies were recycled throughout the trip.
We ate in the 3 meal casual restaurant on Lido (pool) deck for breakfast. It offered a good buffet of standard items and there was plenty of seating. The busboys were very efficient and it was well-maintained. The tables outside on the back deck of the ship were the best.
We ate lunch at the pizzeria on several occasions and the pizza was great. The bar next to it offered a nice view. Speaking of drinks, they are about $5 for most mixed drinks and you will find cocktail servers anxious to serve you. The quality of drinks was very good. If you buy a drink in one of the plastic 'collectors' cups, it'll cost you 6.25 but refills are only $5 -- but you've got to tote the cup around and its only good for the outside bars, not the clubs.
Dinner in the dining room was ok. We were seated with 3 other couples and our waiters were efficient. The menu selections the first night were obscure and all of us were disappointed. The selections other nights was better and included lobster, shrimp and sirloin. The appetizers and entrees are small, so order as much as you want. Many people ordered 2 entrees, which the servers delivered without complaint. The desserts were also small and for the most part quite bland. One night we waited a long time to be served (everyone else was eating) and another night the beverage server didn't come for 45 minutes. The staff seemed overwhelmed at times. We ate breakfast in the dining room our last morning, and it was great --in retrospect we wished we'd had breakfast there more often.
We didn't take any tours, but did spend the day on Catalina and rented a golf cart. It was fun, and we enjoyed the island although the weather was chilly. 2 hours in a golf cart is plenty to see the whole place and even get out and walk around. Ensenada was DISGUSTING. Dirty and there were beggars everywhere. I don't know why the ship even goes there -- we only spent an hour there and that was more than enough. I'd stay on the boat in retrospect. We got couple's massages in the spa, and the therapists were super. The only aspect I didn't like was that they stayed there while presenting the bill and waited to see the gratuity. I thought this was rude. They also pushed the spa products ($50 for a bottle of bath oil????) which we declined. Although the spa said 'adults only' the jacuzzi was filled with teenagers as was the gym area. At one point a boy walked through the women's locker room.
A note on rules: this ship doesn't enforce the rules. All the jacuzzis (there are 5)were filled with kids the entire time, although all were posted with 'over 18 only' signs. We complained to purser and servers but were told 'nothing they could do' about it. The dining room also allowed in men in t-shirts and shorts on all nights, even 'formal' night although the literature clearly stated this wasn't allowed. As late as 2 a.m. there were young teenagers still in the nightclubs, and also at the midnight 'R rated' comedy. There was no escape from kids, suffice to say, which was frustrating to the adults aboard (including the other couples we dined with).
The pools are filled w/ seawater and are not heated. The best deck to enjoy quiet time is the 'top optional' deck which was mainly couples, and not all the women were topless.
Debarkation was lengthy and annoying. They make you leave your cabin by 9 but didn't even start disembarking until 11, and there was not enough room for all the guests to even sit comfortably in the waiting areas. After the breakfast restaurants closed at 9, there wasn't even a place to have a coffee or soda while waiting. When the debarkation started, it did go quickly, and customs was no problem.
In short, we were disappointed w/ the quality of the boat and all the children running wild. The staff was very nice and friendly, though. We would not take another Carnival cruise, but might try a higher-end line at some point.