Find a Cruise

Bob Abbott

Age: 50


Number of Cruises: 1

Cruise Line: Carnival

Ship: Carnival Ecstasy

Sailing Date: December 18th, 2004

Itinerary: Western Caribbean

This was my family’s first cruise and we were pleasantly surprised with the entire experience. It was a great deal. I can’t image getting more bang for your buck on any other type of vacation. I was cruising with my wife and my 19 and 15 year old daughters.

Embarkation: Our ship was to leave at 4:00 p.m. and we arrived at the Galveston Cruise around 1:00 after a short drive from Houston. Unfortunately on that day there were three ships departing which created a minor traffic problem on Harborside Blvd. I understand that this was an unusual occurrence and the norm is either one or two ships departing at the same time. I would make the suggestion that arrival should be at least 3 to 4 hours before departure and it is best to travel all the way through Galveston on Broadway, turn left on either 16th or 17th streets and then travel Northeast until you reach Harborside, take a left and approach the Cruise Terminal from the East. If you take this route you can avoid all of the cruise traffic coming from Houston and entering the Cruise Terminal on Harborside from the west.

Once we hit the terminal things progressed at a very fast pace and we were aboard ship within 15 minutes. There were terminal employees giving us instructions and the boarding process was quite efficient. We received our ID cards and were ready to sail. (ID cards serve as a credit card while aboard and ship and are necessary when departing and reentering the ship at all ports of call).

The Ship: I’d describe the décor as “Las Vegas afloat”. An array of The bright colors and neon throughout, giving the ship a party atmosphere. The ship is well designed and it’s very easy to find your way around. Cabins are on the lower decks, the casino and bars on another deck and all dining is on the same deck with the recreational and exercise activities on the upper decks. The ship was exceptional clean and it looked as if it had most recently been refurbished. We were all surprised at the excellent condition of the entire ship.

Cabin: We chose the least expensive cabins on the ship. We decided to have two separate cabins, with our girls in their own cabin. They were very clean, comfortable and adequate considering that we only used them for sleeping. We were on a 5 day cruise, who wants to spend time in a cabin anyway.

Dining: The dining and the food service was outstanding, another highlight of the cruise.

We had all of our breakfasts on the Lido deck at the Panorama Grill. This was a buffet style breakfast with an exceptional selection of breakfast choices including pancakes, french toast, scrambled eggs, bacon and sausage, cereal, fresh fruits, juices and coffee, breakfast pastries, custom made omelets, etc. After choosing our breakfast were able to sit out on the open deck and enjoy the sea air and the beautiful Caribbean weather.

We had our lunches in both the formal dining room and the Panorama buffet Grill. The selections at both were extensive and delicious. Everything from hamburgers and hotdogs to fresh grilled Tuna, and there were always fresh fruits and salads on the menu.

All of our diners were taken in the formal dining room at the late seating (8:30). Late seating is great. It gives you plenty of time in the evening to get freshened up after returning from shore excursions and you have time for a cocktail and some sushi before diner. That’s right, there’s a sushi bar right next to the Casino. We sat at a table for eight. Our diner companions were another family with two older girls. It was perfect, and we had a great time with them each evening. Each formal meal began with multiple choices of salads and soups and progressed to 5 star quality entrees and deserts, followed by coffee, cappuccinos, and espresso. I can’t say enough about the quality of this dining experience, if you dined in this manner at a first class restaurant, this type of meal for four would easily cost $150-$200. One of the highlights of each evening meal was a short amusing performance by the dining staff, it just added to the special attention that Carnival gives to it’s cruising patrons.

It seems that between meal dining is an ongoing activity on the ship. The Lido deck always has something ready to eat. Mid day and late night buffets are served each day and the grill has hamburgers and dogs available almost 24 hours a day. And don’t forget the Pizzeria and sandwich shop also open till the wee hours.

The Spa and Fitness Area: As nice as you can imagine. Top quality equipment, sauna, steam, exercise classes. I spent each morning at sunrise on an elliptical trainer looking out from the top-front of ship. If you’re into exercise you’ll be happy with these facilities

Staff: The majority of the Staff is non-American and interestingly enough this gives the cruise an international flavor. I enjoyed visiting with some of them and hearing about their native countries and personal stories. They were exceptional, always available and ready to assist you to the best of their abilities. The pursers (the room attends) were unbelievable, each time you left your room for any appreciable amount of time they would clean and straighten you room. I was absolutely amazed with the attention we received.

Entertainment: There were several Las Vegas style floorshows, nightclub entertainment at the bars, and late night comedy shows that were quite good. There were also early and late night deck parties run by the staff with live music, contests and conga lines. Our favorites: The Captains Party, Amateur night, Late night Karaoke. Overall the entertainment is adequate. I’ve found that the amount of fun you have will be determined by who you’re with and if you’re a fun type of person. Kick back, have a cocktail, relax and the entertainment will seem great.

The Casino: I don’t gamble, but had a lot of fun watching. Very nice facilities.

Cruise Patrons: This is a cruise leaving from Galveston Texas. Guess what, 90% of the guests are from TEXAS or at least from surrounding states. If you’re looking for the sophisticated and demur type, you’re out of luck. This group is made up of blue jeans, John Deere hats, flip-flops, tank tops and Lucky Strikes. The nicest people you every meet and they clean up real nice for the evening dining.

Shore Excursions: Beautiful white sand beaches in both Cozumel and Playa del Carman. Spend the evening in town at Cozumel. Make sure you reach the main shopping area early enough to walk about and find a patio restaurant to have an evening meal. Great shopping. We spent the morning and afternoon at the beach and evening in town.

Debarkation: A zoo is my best description. I don’t understand why Carnival doesn’t have their act together on this one. It’s the last thing you remember about the cruise and there last chance to leave a positive impression.

In Summary: Outstanding value, great staff, lots of fun, excellent food services. You have to try it at least once.

Was this review helpful?

Yes No Email this review to a friend

Ask questions and get advice from other cruisers on our popular discussion board,