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Tim Hambelton

Age: 31 to 40

Occupation:Programmer

Number of Cruises: 3 to 5 Cruises

Cruise Line: Carnival

Ship: Carnival Ecstasy

Sailing Date: April 13th, 2001

Itinerary: Miami to Nassau

Tim Hambelton

This was the fourth cruise for my wife and myself. Our other cruises have all been weeklong Caribbean cruises (one Carnival and two on Princess).

EMBARKATION: We arrived from the Miami airport after an $18.00 (plus tip) taxi ride. This was much better than herding around behind a Carnival agent and waiting for a bus to fill up before getting on our way. The embarkation was smooth and quick.  Having all the paperwork already filled out really speeds things along. We were on the ship less than fifteen minutes after arriving at the port.

THE SHIP: The Ecstasy seemed well maintained. They were replacing carpet in one of the areas around the elevators on the Lido deck while we were in Nassau. The decor isn't what I would choose, but it wasn't awful either. The public areas are all situated at the top of the ship. The only time you have to go up or down a lot of stairs (we don't use the elevators) is if you go back to your room or leave the ship.

The ride was very smooth.

This was an Easter cruise and there were hundreds of kids on board (we left ours at home). We certainly noticed them but they weren't any problem - mostly because we weren't responsible for them.

ROOM: Our cabin, an outside room on the port side of the Empress deck, was quite large. The room had the same layout as the one we had on the Tropicale about 10 years ago. I guess Carnival has stuck with what works. When we arrived, the beds were configured as two singles. I called our steward and asked that he put them together. In the past, the beds were put together but still had individual sheets, blankets, etc. I stressed to the steward that I would appreciate it if he could find a queen/king set of sheets and blanket. When we arrived back from getting a little lunch and exploring the ship, the beds were put together and made up as I had requested. I searched out our steward and tipped him on the spot on told him thanks. We had good service the entire time. We left the customary tip on the last day.

There is plenty of hanging storage and many shelves in the closet. The desk/dresser/vanity has one small drawer and four larger ones. We had excess room for the clothes that we brought.

There is a small (about 3x5x4 - HxWxD) safe in the room. The key can be obtained from the cabin steward. Laundry service is available but dry cleaning is not. There are self-serve laundry facilities on the ship.

FOOD: We generally don't eat breakfast and lunch in the main dining room. We prefer to eat at a table outside in the sun and fresh air. The buffet food available for breakfast on the Lido deck was about the same each day. There was fresh fruit, beacon, scrambled eggs, sausage, hash browns, pancakes or French toast, yoghurt, cereal, bread, and pastry. There were also made-to-order omelettes that were very good. The omelette station does tend to back things up for everyone else in the buffet line. Carnival should move the omelette cooks to some other area to eliminate the congestion.

The buffet food available for lunch on the Lido deck was varied each day. There was fresh fruit, salads, a number of different entrees, bread, and desserts. This food was adequate and tasty but not memorable. Burgers and grilled items were also available near the pool.

The kids on board (and many adults too) seemed to enjoy the soft-serve ice cream available on the Lido deck. We saw kids with a cone in hand at breakfast. Pizza is available 24 hours a day. It was very good. Sometimes in the afternoon the pizzeria would fall behind and lines would form, however.

In the main dining room we had a booth for six. Our dinner companions were about our same age and we got along fine. There are four dinner seating times on the Ecstasy (5:45, 6:30, 8:00, and 8:45). We had the 8:00 time and didn't feel rushed. There were a few kids in the dining room, but they were well behaved. It seemed that many of the families ate dinner at the buffet on the Lido deck.

Overall the food was good but not fantastic. A few dished worth mentioning are the mushroom soup, smoked salmon appetizer, the fresh fish dishes, and the dessert soufflé. They were all great.

We had a bottle of wine with each meal. The prices were fair and the selection was very good. Leftover wine was saved for a later meal.

SERVICE: Our waiter and his assistant were very good. They were very eager to serve and seemed to enjoy their work. They both spoke English very well. They never batted an eye if someone ordered additional items from the menu. The headwaiter appeared at our table a couple of times each night to check on us or assist with a special dessert. Our assistant waiter did an excellent job at serving the wine.

There were no reminders or pleas for generosity on "tip night" the last night. Our waiter even politely refused a tip that someone offered at the beginning of the meal. He chatted with us and answered our questions at the end of the meal when he had time.

Carnival still has the wait staff parade through the dining room. They don't, however, carry the flaming baked Alaska on their head since this ship had a laundry-room fire some years ago. This little tradition is one that they could stop and I wouldn't be disappointed.

The bar service around the ship was good. We never felt pressured to buy one of the daily-special drinks. Our drinks were delivered promptly, with only one mistake that was happily rectified.

ENTERTAINMENT: The steel-drum player by the pool and the Jimmy Buffett-like singer outside the casino were both good. We didn't see the comedian's show but were told that it was very good (but not for kids). We didn't go to the disco, but it was quite smoky - as was the piano bar called Neon.

We went to two of the main shows and thought that they were entertaining. They seemed to be on par with other cruise-line shows.

DISEMBARKATION: This went smoothly. We were out of our room by 9:00 and waited in one of the lounges for our group to be called a little after 10:00.  It is a rather long, winding path to get out of the ship and through the terminal.

OVERALL: We enjoyed this trip and felt the value was good. It was a great way to have a quick get-away from the kids.

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