Number of Cruises: 7
Cruise Line: Carnival
Ship: Carnival Ecstasy
Sailing Date: November 26th, 2001
Itinerary: Catalina & Ensenada, Mexico
Embarkation:We arrived at the dock around 11:45 and had a 20 min. wait to check in. Carnival gave you a group boarding number from 1 to 19. They started calling boarding numbers at 12:30 and by 1:15 had called all 19 numbers. People arriving after 1:15 were not given any numbers as they could walk right on board by that time.
Ship:The ship was in pretty good shape in all the public areas. The hall-way carpet on the Riviera deck, our deck, was stained in a lot of places. There were pockets of sewer odor here and there around the ship. This odor was also present in our room. By the end of the second day I did not notice any odors, don't know if problem was fixed or I just got use to the smell. We had booked this cruise via allcruiseauction.com and had bid on an inside cabin. We were upgraded to a outside cabin on the lowest deck, Riviera which is on the 4th level. The elevators were never a problem and usually had one within a minute of hitting the call button. One elevator in the forward section was always going into the overload mode even with one person. By the middle of the second day most passengers learned to step out of the elevator until the overload light was out then begin the ride. Our beds were separated and we asked to have them put together. The person we asked said they would tell our room steward. When we checked after dinner they had been turned down but not put together, we did this ourselves. The second day was going to be a day in Catalina Island, but due to high winds they could not tender so we spent the day at sea going around Catalina in the hopes that the next day we could tender. We were in and out of our cabin a few times that day but our room was never made up. I kept looking for the room steward but no luck. We never did see the room steward the entire trip. Never introduced him or her self. I could not tell you anything about this invisible person, other than they did not know where the soap was, never had a new bar past the original that was in the room. The room was turned down every night and made up three out of four days and that is about all. Oh! we did get a towel animal on two nights.
DiningWe had early seating at 5:45 for dinner and 7:00am for breakfast, never made that one til the last morning. Our waiter was all business, did his job without any chit chat, took the orders and brought the food. The Assistant waiter Lora, from Germany had a little more personality. She would joke and talk while getting the drinks and bread. She did a good job of keeping tea and water full. If you ordered milk it would not arrive until the main course and you were not asked if you wanted a refill. I would say, on this trip, the service was a little above Denny's. I will not comment on the quality of the food as I have the taste of the average 8 year old, would rather have a pb&J sandwich than anything on the main menu. So I could not tell you if the food was good or not. I know from our only morning breakfast that the Lido buffet is the same as the dining room food, so you are better off at the Lido if you like seconds and the food may be a little hotter also. At lunch I could always find a hot dog, hamburger and pizza, this was the best time of day for me :). Room service had ham, turkey and pb&j sandwiches also fruit trays, desserts, milk, hot cocoa, ice tea ( which was instant) and a variety of cookies. The delivery time was less than 10 minutes.
Shows:We saw both production shows they were pretty good if you like singing and dancing. There were also two comedians they were both very good. They had two shows each, one family and one adult.
Ports:Our first stop, a day late was, Catalina. I had book a tour on line with discovery tours in Catalina for a inland 4 hour tour. on the off chance we did not make it to shore on our scheduled day ,which was what happened I brought my cell phone and was able to call and re book for the next day. We were the first off the ship as we had the 9:00 am tour. There were only six of us on the tender. We finished the tour around 1pm and were going to go back to the ship for lunch then return for some shopping. The line to board the tenders was all the way down the dock across the street and up about one block. It took us over an hour and a half to get to the tender. They had two security men for over 1800 people and they were going through all packages and scanning everyone with a metal detector. They even spent time going through my sisters wallet picture by picture. The ship was held up for over an hour past sailing time while people were still going through the line. You had to get in line two hours before sailing just to make it back to the ship on time. Waste of shore time. This was ridiculous and for this very reason I will never take this itinerary again. They were taking silverware people had purchased on shore, if you wanted a knife just take one at dinner. Again this was really stupid. We were lucky the day was overcast. If the sun had been out, there was no shade along the line, a lot of people would have been in serious trouble.
Ensenada:We paid $2 to take a shuttle into town. The sign outside the pier said round trip, but when you were on the bus the told you it would be $1 to return to the ship. It is only about a four block walk into town and we walked back to the ship in less than 10 min. On the bus they were trying to sell tickets to the blow hole and outdoor market for 13.00. We passed on this and walked tow blocks and got a taxi to the blow hole for $8 each min. four people. The taxi will wait an hour while you look around for that same fee. The bus will wait an hour and half. It is about a 30- 40 minute taxi ride. When we got there it was low tide so no big sprays only a small puff. Getting back on the ship took only 3 min. The ship sailed at 6:00 instead of 10pm due to the sea day being first instead of last.
Disembarkation:As usual we were the last color called. We had to wait in the show room from 8:45 until after 10. One of the comedians did a show while we were waiting so the time went by fast.
Conclusion:If this had been our first cruise it would have probably have been our last especially with the Catalina experience. This being our 7th cruise I know there are lots better out there. The poor cabin service did not make too much difference, still tipped him or her the suggested amount. I will not be taking carnival on this itinerary again. We were on the Paradise two years ago and had a much better cruise, so Carnival is not out of the question but they just went to the bottom of our list with Princess on top.