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Cynt

Age: 35

Occupation:Accountant

Number of Cruises: 3

Cruise Line: Carnival

Ship: Carnival Ecstasy

Sailing Date: n/a

Itinerary: Western Caribbean

We made it back...Thank God!! The captain kept us clear of the hurricane but it was a bumber having 5 sea days. This was my third cruise, the first on Voyager of the Seas and the second on Navigator of the Seas. I went into this with an open mind knowing full well I couldn't compare apples to oranges. Overall out of a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being high, I would rate the Ecstacy as a 7. Here's my review.

Embarkation - this was fairly simple. But a quick side note about getting to the port that I didn't realize or read and just forgot. 45 South takes you straight to the port, literally. 45 turns into Broadway. When you make a left on Kempner this street dead ends into the port. Where you're directed to turn left, drop off your luggage and then go and park. You catch a shuttle back to the port terminal. I used EZcruise and everything went wonderful. My car was intact upon return and they were courteous and prompt. This is just an open fenced car lot. It's not very big. We reserved back in March. They were sold out for the Ecstacy cruises through I think Labor Day. So if you're cruising during the summer months make sure you reserve in advance. They shuttle you directly to the cruise terminal and unload your luggage where the porters handle them from there. Registration went well. I didn't like waiting with everyone until 12:30 (we arrived early) to board the ship. They had two guys telling corny stories and such to pass time. They told us how we were going to board and that our rooms were not ready so go to the Lido deck and grab a bite to eat. Once we were cleared to board they had two lines going for us to take pictures. This went fast we were sitting on the far side, the last group to board and we were taking pictures w/in 10 minutes of them releasing us to board. After the group picture, they had about 3 or 4 stations setup to take our sign and sail card picture. This also went very swiftly, wait time maybe 2 minutes. Onto the ship and to the Lido deck to eat.

First Impression
- It's not RCCL but it is OK. For a first time cruiser I think this is perfect for them. We were a group of 6, 4 first timers, ages 18 - 57. I had two cruises on RCCL and my friend had cruised on Fantasy a couple of years ago. Yes, there's some wear and tear. But nothing like the reviews I read. If you look for it you will find it. Otherwise, it's a well run and beautiful ship. Everyone complains about the blue. I wouldn't have noticed it accept I read several reviews about it. In the atrium at night when it's lit up the walls have three dimensional building figurines on them. When you lookup at the walls it reminds me of downtown all lit up in the midnight sky. So I thought it was pretty cool. The ship is laid out pretty good. They do use every available space. Behind the Panorama Grill on both sides are decks w/ tables with an excellent view. The slide on the Lido deck is pretty cool. It was open and stayed pretty busy. The lines were never long maybe max 10 people deep at any given time.

Atrium/Promenade - Compared to the VOS/NOS, no comparison. However, it was nice and served its purpose. But O, how I missed the warm cookies served at the bistro/cafe on VOS/NOS. I missed them really bad and was very disappointed that the REAL cookies on Ecstacy cost $1.75 ( I think). Big disappointment. At least when the food wasn't that great at Dinner on VOS I could always fill up on warm cookies and ice cream. There isn't a long promenade on Ecstacy. Basically, the atrium consists of the winding stairs. You can see straight up but that's it. There isn't the long promenade you can walk down with the bars, shops, casinos, cafe and the cabins overlooking the promenade like on the VOS. It's just a small area that you can look up to the other decks. This kind of threw me off because I was expecting the promenade like on the VOS. Anyways, it served it's purpose, great back drop for formal pictures. LOL!!

Food - OK, I was a little disappointed. I always go to the dining room. I went to the dining room the first two nights and didn't go back. My waiter, Subi and assistant, Imade was not in sync. Subi didn't even know his assistants name. The dining room food was below par to me. RCCL has them beat. Yes, the TEA is AWFUL. I was quite disappointed that they wouldn't serve me lemonade. And I'm not a water person, meaning all water taste the same to me. But there was a clear difference in the water on the ship. And if I noticed it, it had to be really bad. I'm one of those people who don't purchase bottled water because I think it's a scam. So I don't know if something was wrong with the water or what but it tasted significantly different from the tap water at home (Plano, TX). Pizza was good but thank God for the hamburgers and hot dogs. Carnival has RCCL beat on this. The outside Lido deck "Snack Bar" right by the pool, grilling hamburgers and hot dogs. What more could a country girl ask for. And they serve the hamburgers with a pickle, crisp lettuce, tomato and CHEESE! Hot dogs are served with sour kraut and chili. O, guess what they have french fries. And they're pretty good. So this was dinner the remaining 3 nights. They stop serving at 6pm I think. So we would check the Panorama to see what they had and always make our way back for hamburgers, hot dogs or pizza. The Pizza and Deli at the back of the Panorama was also great and we visited them quite often. Like I mentioned early, I really missed the cafe on the VOS just because I didn't have to go all the way outside to grab a quick snack.

Cabin - It served its purpose...somewhere to sleep and change clothes. My first inside cabin. I missed the balcony and will probably book balconies from here on out. Everyone says the inside rooms are so dark. I was a little paranoid going into it but it's not any different from going into a dark room. You see light through the cracks at the bottom of the door and the Ecstacy has a board on the wall that lights up. Not bright, just a dim light behind a picture. Perfect I think if you have kids in the room. I fell asleep with it on several nights and it didn't bother me. I actually liked the bathroom. The shower was larger than the cylinder shower tube on the VOS. The shower curtain was not a big deal. I guess I just don't understand why Carnival won't invest in sturdy and durable shower curtains. You can get them all day long at Wal-Mart for $2 or $3. Plenty of storage in the closet as well as shelves. Suitcase fits under the bed. You might need to bring some hangers if you packed a lot of clothes you need to hang up. We ran out after I unpacked my things. I missed the interactive TV on the VOS that showed your sign and sail account, dinner menu and room service menu. Room service menu on the Ecstacy was very limited. More things are available through room service on the VOS. Movies were good. Yes, I know why are you watching TV on a cruise...because I was on her for 5 days. SMILE!!! Hitch, Robots, Ms. Congeniality II, Coach Carter. I hadn't seen any of these movies so it was GREAT for me. The down comforters are quite cozy. The ship is always COLD to the point where you need long sleeves or a sweater/light jacket. We had them bring us an extra blanket for our beds at night. It was really cold. O, there's not a thermostat in the room. I can't remember if there's one on the VOS or not.

Entertainment
- this is another area that was disappointing. Everyone says the "FUN SHIP", so I was expecting wild and crazy games all day every day. New creative ideas. NOT, they were the same games pretty much as on VOS. They did have Survivor and Fear Factor which VOS/NOS did not have when I cruised. So those were pretty cool. But I kept expecting more because everyone says they're the Fun Ship. I know we were on her 5 days but other than the two games mentioned above everything else was the same. Yes, I missed Quest. The clubs were cool, just like anything else it depends on the crowds in the club that make it or break it. The Lido deck DJ was pretty cool. He played ole' school music most of the time. Just a good groove to kick back and relax. Midnight Comedian was extremely vulgar so I left. A few curse words here and there is what I expected and adult topics. I think he went over the edge...dirty vulgar topics and language. I didn't attend any shows. I tried but I didn't like the layout of the Blue Sapphire lounge. I think it was just a personal thing. I'm short and I couldn't find a good seat if I didn't sit in the front. This ship had karoake all day every day. Way too much in my opinion. By the second day I was sick of it. The casino served it's purpose. I gave my donation. They had penny and nickel machines. My DS won $31 on her first try on the nickel machine. But that's about as far as our luck went.

Kids - They said we had over 600 kids on board. Either Camp Carnival kept them busy or they were somewhere I didn't find. There was probably the same 15 - 20 kids on the Lido deck every day. They were well mannered and basically enjoying the pool and slide. Yes, they hogged the Jacuzzi but that's just kids being kids. I didn't notice any misbehaving, unruly kids. Kids hang out in hall ways and elevators so I would see the same two or three groups in these spots. But as they explored the ship I seen less of them. I think they found the nook and craneys just because we were on the ship for 5 days straight.

Debarkation - no customs...straight off the ship onto the EZCruise shuttle. Whoever thought of self assist debarkation...I LOVE YOU!! Yes, I had to tote my luggage up two flights of stairs but I'll do that any day not to have to find my luggage in a warehouse. The carousels by color like at the airports are a wonderful thing on RCCL at the Miami port.

Things to Note - Most of their formal pictures were 8 X 10, $20. I thought this was a scam. They wouldn't sell you a 5 X 8 unless you purchased the 8 X 10 first. The day to day pictures were 5 X 8 so I didn't understand why the formal photos were not 5 X 8. Well I do understand, they were trying to make a profit. But I don't believe this was fair. Once you purchase the 8 X 10 you can purchase a combo pack. This included one 4X6, 2 wallets and one 5X8 for $10. These four pictures come on one sheet of 8X10 paper. You cut them out yourself. If you order hot tea, they use Lipton tea. So I'm still puzzled why the tea in the dining room and on the Lido deck was horrible. They have $10 gifts in the Galleria store. I didn't notice until my roommate made mention of it. They have ice cream and low fat yogurt. The ice cream was yummy. They have toppings, ice cream cones and bowls available. Casino charges a 3% ser charge to use your sign and sail card. The dessert wasn't all that great. However, my lil' sis' found the real desserts at a lil' cafe across from the Internet cafe. O, the Internet Cafe is not private. The computers are on tall bar tables setup on the side of the hallway to the Starlight lounge. The library is not open 24X7, they open an hour in the morning and an hour in the late afternoon.

Yes, I did get bored about the 3rd day. So off I went to explore which is how I stumbled upon the decks at the back of the ship behind the Panorama Grill. There were things happening on the ship all day long, I just expected more "fun" activities on the Lido deck besides the normal hairy chest contest and newly wed type games. On the Lido deck the DJ played from about 10ish/11ish to 1 or so and then they would play a game or two and then the Calypso band would play in the afternoon. I guess I was expecting fun interactive games on deck all day. What they offered was entertaining but I expected more because they are labeled the "Fun Ship". I didn't see any chair hogging and the weather was spectacular. Actually the area on deck between the stage and the grill always had deck chair/lounges available. I also liked how Carnival how tables and chairs along the sides of the deck in the shade. This was excellent for us because we lounged on deck playing cards and what not enjoying the music.

I now agree that Carnival does need a private island, for hurricane times. One more thing, I thought for sure we would go to New Orleans and then on to Key West because of Hurricane Emily. When they cancelled Cozumel, I thought to myself I told them to go to Key West safe from the hurricane. Later that day in the elevator a gentleman said the same thing. I told him I thought the exact same thing, especially since they knew the hurricane would hit Cozumel. O well, thank God everyone is safe.

Overall - I'll try Carnival again. Mainly because I have a half off cruise due to Hurricane Emily. But I really want to try one of their newer ships to see if they compare to VOS. As mentioned before you really can't compare the Ecstacy to VOS/NOS. These are to totally different ships. BLOT - cruise Ecstacy as your first cruise and then try VOS/NOS. You'll fall in love with VOS/NOS and only cruise Ecstacy for a weekend getaway. If cost isn't a factor cruise VOS/NOS. If it's your first time and you don't know if you can stay on a ship 7 nights cruise Ecstacy to test yourself. If you are totally clueless but what something nice cruise VOS/NOS. If you're cheap cruise Ecstacy.

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