Number of Cruises: 8
Cruise Line: Carnival
Ship: Carnival Ecstasy
Sailing Date: April 4th, 2003
Itinerary: Baja California
My wife and I have been cruising once or twice
annually for last several years. So this
review will be based on our experience with other cruises and how this one stack
First little bit of background on us and this trip. We are in our earlier 30's and have been trying out different cruise lines to taste the unique flavor of each cruise lines. We have booked with Princess(3), RCCL(2), NCL(1), and Carnival(2 including this one). We have always enjoyed our cruise vacation even when it didn't turn out to be the perfect vacation as we hoped. Things happen. Bad weather, boring excursions, etc. Just try to remember that you are on vacation and get the most out of it.
We booked this cruise 4 days before the sail date and got a incredible deal on this. We could spend a lot more for a two days trip to Vegas than what it would cost us to come onboard. I booked the guaranteed inside cabin, hoping for a upgrade since I can still see a dozen higher category rooms available on web site. But no upgrade was offered and that was fine with us. You get what you pay for. Entire tab for two of us was around $500, including tax, port charge, and recommended tip on board.
Overall we believe Carnival has cut so many corners that this trip no longer represent what cruise is all about. However we still believe it's a worthwhile trip if you paid the right price. We will definitely take another trip on Ecstasy if we can get the same deal again in the future. You should look at Carnival's 3 days trip to Ensenada as a poor man's cruise. It resembles more like a trip on those ferry boat then cruise ship. But if price is right, even a ride on a ferry boat can be fun and is a good choice for cheap weekend getaway. We knew what to expect from Carnival from our previous experience and other reviews, so we were kind of prepared for all the shortcoming and had a blast in two and half days.
Here is my quick overall review: You get clean and functional room with adequate storage space. The service is VERY impersonal but efficient. Food in main dinning room is at about same level as local Danny's in terms of flavor and taste. I had the worst lobster I have ever eaten. I'm a huge fan of seafood and wasn't able to finish it. They did have lobster, prime steak, escargot, and other familiar cruise dishes. Buffet, including both breakfast and lunch, has no variety and taste. Though their hotdog and burger from grill on pool deck was very decent. Gala buffet was nice to look at and take picture of but the taste is also very bland. Entertainment was okay with variety of shows and comedies. I believe it all depends on the performers happen to be onboard during your particular cruise. You will find a good mix of all kinds of people on this ship due to the fact that its home port (LA) is a mini-UN. Disco club was crowded and could have used a better DJ. Oh, both embarkation and debarkation were efficient and smooth.
My two pesos worth of tips:
1) They do have those fountain card to buy. However they only cover the soda. And they have different price for kids and adults. Adult pay a lot more than the kids though they look and function the same. So if you have a kid with you, make sure you buy the fountain card using kid's sailing card.
2) Since this ship has the one of the lowest space to passenger ratio, you will need to be in the theater 20 minutes before the production show start to get a good seat.
3) Need to get up real early on the at-sea day to get a good spot on the deck.
3) It seemed like they purchase all fresh vegetable and fruits in Ensenada, you will be more like to have better and fresher fruits and vegetables on the last two days of cruise.
4) Practice to say no before you get the massage at the spa. The ladies there are more persistent than street vendors at Ensenada.
5) If you like to gamble, play the table game instead of slot machine. Casinos on cruise ship has the worst payout rate in slot machine. This is not limited to Ecstasy or Carnival.
6) Expect to see more rude passengers and rowdy activities than on other cruise lines or even other ships from Carnival fleet. We saw two fights between passengers that had to be broken off by security guards, and you will see many security guards on the ship. Don't be alarmed, just try to enjoy the vacation as much as you can.
7) If you value your health, don't use their swimming pool. I saw kids with diapers in the swimming pool and no one seem to care, definitely not Carnival employees on the deck.
8) Bring a book with you if plan to read. The library is open but you will need to have someone there in order to open the case and do the checkout. I only saw one employee there once for a short while. Though the library is a comfy place to bring your own book to read.
9) Skip their galley tour. You spend LESS than a minute in the kitchen and the rest is sales pitch for their cookbook. Based on the food I got, I will say ignore the cookbook too.
10) If you think you need to reach someone on land while you are away, bring your cell phone and an international calling card from AT&T. The cell phone works during the sea day since the ship is anchored near Catalina Island where they do have cell signal receiver. AT&T calling card will work at many public pay phone in Ensenada. It will cost you about 50-60 cents a minute. It's a bargain compare to 6-10 dollars a minute they charge you on the ship.
11) If you have a walkie-talkie or telescope, bring it with you. Costco carries two kinds of walkie-talkie with range of 2.5 and 5 miles. Get the one with 5 mile range. They do have walkie-talkie for rent on the ship, expect to pay 10 bucks a day.
12) Take a look at the chairs on the deck before you sit on it, seems like sea birds also like to use as well.
13) You can check out games from the library, and you have to return it to purser's desk.(?) So do the return before the last night. Otherwise you will be wasting a lot of time standing in line.
14) On the debarkation day, try to stay in the main theater instead of buffet place. They may put on another comedy act. We did and had the luck to be entertained by a wonderful standup comedian while waiting for our color to be called.