Number of Cruises: 3
Cruise Line: Carnival
Ship: Carnival Ecstasy
Sailing Date: August 21st, 2001
My family and I embarked on the Carnival Ecstasy on Labor Day weekend 2001 for the 3-day Baja California cruise. The ship left on August 31, 2001 and returned September 3, 2002. This was my 2nd cruise, my first being aboard the Carnival Holiday.
We live in the San Fernando Valley. We took a sedan service from out home to this ship and left at 10:30, we ended up arriving to the ship at 12:00.
When we started to near the port, I saw the smokestack of this enormous ship, this was very exciting. We pulled up to the curb at noon, I was surprised to find not many people. When we arrived at the Holiday (a much smaller ship), there were floods of people lined up outside the doors and all around. The porters took out luggage and we walked into the terminal. We checked in, everything was in order and then we were sent up to boarding at about 12:15. We first got our sail and sign card and our room key. Next, the welcome aboard photos were taken, then a security picture was taken for the sail and sign card. It was then onto the ship, only 25 minutes after we had arrived. Congrats to Carnival for this.
We boarded the ship on the empress deck (deck 4). My impression was just what I thought it would be after reading many reviews. I did think the decor was quite gaudy, but fun. I did not find torn up stained carpet like a lot of people had said. The first thing we did was find our cabin. Let me tell you, the layouts for the cabin hallways are quite confusing on the Ecstasy.
We had a Category 12 suite, room U114 on the upper deck. Half of the elevators were closed off for luggage transport (as they were on the last day). After roaming through the halls, we found our room. My first impression was that it was a bit smaller than it looked in the pictures. But then when I saw the room across from us I realized it was huge. I still think it was a bit smaller than the room on the Holiday (another Cat 12). The room had a slight smell of must, especially in the bathroom, but this did not bother me. I actually thought it added to the experience. There were two twin beds that convert to a king, a mini-bar (unstocked), a lot of wineglasses, a TV, marble vanity stand, ect. There was a separate living area divided off by a glass wall that went through about 1/8 of the cabin. There was a wrap around couch in there (that had a pull out sofa), a coffee table, and a couple of chairs. There was a very window in there that looked out onto the balcony. The balcony was very nice. I loved sitting out there when we were pulling into and leaving ports, it was also just nice to go on at any time. This is where I got the only real sense of privacy on the ship. If your budget can handle it, I highly suggest it. The bathroom was pretty large. There was a sink on a marble countertop, a toilet, and we had a bathtub/shower conversion, which provided plenty of room to shower. There were also Jacuzzi jets in the bathtub. The bathtub was raised very high above the floor to the bathroom. I am about 6 feet tall and my head was just scraping the roof. Note: Carnival does not provide shampoo. They give you a little sample packet on the first day, and that’s it! BRING YOUR OWN SHAMPOO. We also had a walk-in closet, which was fantastic; it helped us keep out room nice and clean by putting everything in it.
THE PANORAMA BAR AND GRILL
This was the worst looking part of the ship. The decor was sun dried light blue plastic, pretty ugly. I remember this area on the Holiday being much nicer. The food was medioquore, the selection was good thought and the lines were very short.
THE WIND SONG DINING ROOM
We had the early seating in the Wing Song. I found the dining room to be pretty nice. We were seated at a table for four. Our waiters were great, they got accustomed to us after the first day, they provided rapid service, and they were very friendly. The food was pretty good, despite other reviews. I have eaten a lot of good food, this food was not the best, but it was not bad. The steaks were pretty tough though. The presentation of the food was really good. The deserts were fantastic. The midnight buffets were nothing special, the big one was good though.
Ensenada is by no means a tropical paradise. But you can’t exactly expect to be in Hawaii on a 3 day cruise out of Los Angeles. You can find some good bargains here, however there is a lot of poverty. We went out for about 3 hours then returned to the ship for the rest of the day. They said we were going to depart at 4 o’clock, but we were there till 10 pm, I don’t know why they did this. The Viking serenade, which we sailed with, did leave at 4 though.
THE POOL AREA
The pool area was very nice. It was very easy to find 4 lounge chairs next to each other. We also had great weather for the cruise, so that made it even nicer. The pool was larger than the pool on the Holiday. The water was very cold and salty, this was expected. There was a waterslide that went into the pool, which was a lot of fun to go on. Carnival is notorious for its "party atmosphere", I did not see much of this, expect for the day at sea by the pool. There were three drunk people who looked to be in their 20's. Two guys and one girl. They were all running around crazy, then the girl took off her top and threw it. Carnival security took care of this instantly, before many people even notice.
We saw one show on the ship, it was called "Hey Mambo", the show was okay. It was a Las Vegas style show but not with Las Vegas quality. It was not great, but it was not the end of the world.
Shopping onboard was pretty good. There were some pretty good deals. The last night of the ship, everything was traumatically discounted. If you are planning on buying souvenirs, buy them the last night. However, it is pretty crowded on the last night.
THE BAR STAFF
I had purchased a "fountain fun card" which entitled me to unlimited soft drinks. Usually when you buy drinks with your sail and sign card, they bar attendant gets a 15% gratuity. However, when you use a fountain fun card, they get nothing. It was very hard to get service. I would go to the bars and no one would help be. I ended up holding my sail and sign card in front of the fountain card to get service. Once night in the Blue Sapphire lounge, I wanted a drink, the attendant came over and I showed him the fountain card and he never returned.
I did not really want to leave; I had a pretty good time on board. We had to put our bags out front of our rooms the night before so they could be taken by the porters. When I woke up the next day and went to breakfast in the main dining room, we were just pulling into Los Angeles. This was a very depressing morning around the whole ship. You could see the whole fun atmosphere was gone. Everyone had to vacate his or her rooms by about 8:30 I think it was. All 2800 (not 2000 like they say in the brochure) had to go up and sit on the Lido deck. We got their early and managed to get chairs. We were up here forever. Everyone was getting restless. We now couldn’t wait to get off of the ship. We were the first group of people off, I think it was everyone in the front of the Upper deck (all of the suites are here). Debarkation was very slow. When we got off, all of the luggage was sitting in big piles out front of the terminal.
Overall, we had a great time, and we would recommend the ecstasy for someone who is looking for a good time. It is not the most luxurious boat you will find. Generally I am one who looks for luxury, I look for the best hotels, ect. But I still loved the Ecstasy. I now have booked on RCCL's Voyager of the Seas leaving Miami for a 7-day western Caribbean cruise on August 18, 2002. I hear this ship is supposed to be much better than the Ecstasy. I also had the ecstasy booked for August 30, 2002, right after the voyager, but I had to cancel it because of something that came up. This was a very fun and interesting trip overall.
Thank you for reading my review, look for my Voyager of the Seas review to come towards the end of August