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This was our 4th time sailing on Carnival, and we were very pleased with almost everything. We chose the Ecstasy simply because it sails out of Charleston, SC. We have several people in our family who cannot do long road trips, so close to home was a must for this cruise. We were a bit apprehensive about the size and age of the ship, but it turned out to be a non-issue for the most part. The Port of Charleston is not really set up for cruise ships, so the drop-off and pick-up is not as smooth as it could be. The port area is cramped and busy, and hard to find your way around. We stayed at a local hotel near the airport, and took our checked luggage to the port the morning of departure, checked and dropped it off, paid for parking, and then went back to the hotel for the rest of the family. This proved to be a convenient way to do it because dropping off just people was easy. I then went to park and caught a shuttle back over to the terminal and met up with the rest of my group with no problems. Embarkation was fast and simple. The Ecstasy is an older and smaller ship but most everything has been either re-done or kept up well. The only signs of aging we saw was some rust around doorways. All the decor and furnishings seemed to be fairly new. As for the size, the only drawback I found was cramped deck space. There was no wide promenade deck like on larger ships, so everyone was confined to the pool area or the Serenity deck, which made it crowded. On the plus side, fewer people makes for shorter lines, and shorter walking distances from one end of the ship to another! FOOD: We had late seating in the Wind Star dining room, and ate dinner there every night. The menus were varied and the choices were pretty standard for Carnival. The extra cost entrees were on the main dining menu, since they have no premium restaurants on this ship. My mother-in-law is gluten intolerant and had no problems at all. The staff would provide the next evening's menu during dinner and she would choose what she wanted, and the cooks would prepare it gluten-free, including desserts. She said they were excellent. The only complaint was one we have on every Carnival cruise. The chocolate melting cake is superb the first couple of nights, then they get progressively less melty as the cruise goes on. My guess is that they make them ahead, and reheat the ones not served, so the successive heating cooks them more each night. Otherwise, all the food was as expected. One nice surprise was the addition of fruit pies each night. I had the apple pie one night and it was delicious! We ate breakfast and lunch each day on the Lido Deck. It was standard buffet-style fare, with salad bar, dessert bar, sandwiches, and different entree each day. The made to order pizza and panini sandwiches were very good. Outside by the pool you'll find Guy's Burgers, and Blue Iguana cantina. Both were very good, and offered gluten-free buns/tortillas. There is a small coffee cafe for espresso and specialty coffees and teas that was good, but it is near the casino so it gets very smoky. Anything you get there is an extra charge. Services: We had no trouble with any services we needed. Rooms were made up according to when we wanted it. Most days it was evenings only, since we like to sleep late. We did have to ask for extra toilet tissue, as our steward did not replenish. The room was clean, but the bathroom did have some mold around the ceiling of the shower. Speaking of the shower, the shower was the best I've ever experienced on a ship. The water pressure combined with the shower head were perfect! Room: We had an inside cabin on deck 5, M76. It was pretty standard, with two twins (which we had asked to be combined into a king, but was not done), with two pull down berths. The room was arranged such that one bed was perpendicular to one pull down, and the other bed was fully beneath the other pull down. We ended up leaving it this way because it left a pretty large area in the center of the cabin to move around in. As for the pull down berths, be warned: the railing is NOT adequate to keep a smaller child from rolling out! The rail is about 1.5" square, in the shape of a "D", and covers about 1/3 of the length of the bunk. Not only could a child climb/roll out at the head or the foot of the bed, but could also squeeze through the rail opening itself. Also, for storage, the rail folds down onto the bed with no locking mechanism to keep it upright. My daughter folded it down several times while sleeping and could have just rolled over it and off the bunk. Very bad design! Storage is typical for a small cabin, with shelves in the closets and 3 drawers at the desk. I was dismayed to see that the bunk ladders are stored in one of the closets, severely limiting hanging space for nice clothing. In the bathroom, there was one narrow shelf above the sink, so no storing more than a couple toothbrushes there. The temperature in the cabin was always hot. The only control was on the ceiling vent, where you could turn the air flow open or closed. Not very good. Also, there was no hairdryer, but the cabin steward provide us one to use. We don't really take part in the casino, bars,shows or other activities, so I can't comment. We did play a couple rounds of bingo which was fun, and did the mini-golf, which was good (and free). You do have to climb a few flights of stairs to get to the mini-golf. The shopping on board is fairly limited. They do have a small liquor store, clothing and jewelry store. If you're looking for toiletries, they are in the liquor store. I would also suggest doing your shopping early, as they tend to run out of things. On the last sea day, they had a t-shirt sale that had long lines, but good prices. Since the stores are so small, their selection of items is very limited. One area that Carnival needs to improve is the Pixels photo gallery. Most lines have converted to digital, but not Carnival. They still print out every photo they take and display them around the walls of the Pixels area. This makes for lots of hunting and wasted photo paper! We lost a couple pictures we wanted when they turned up missing from the displays. Carnival really needs to modernize this, not only for customer convenience, but also for savings in time and resources. Our itinerary was changed due to Hurricane Maria damage to Puerto Rico and St. Thomas, so we ended up with 3 sea days to start the cruise. We visited Aruba, Bonaire, and were supposed to dock in Grand Turk, but it was too windy. We ended up with 6 sea days and only 3 port days! Not my favorite, but at least we were having fun. All in all, this was a very nice cruise. I would take the Ecstasy again, but since we like sitting quietly on deck, I'd probably get a balcony cabin next time.

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Carnival Ecstasy Cruise Review by njmoms

4 people found this helpful
Trip Details
This was our 4th time sailing on Carnival, and we were very pleased with almost everything. We chose the Ecstasy simply because it sails out of Charleston, SC. We have several people in our family who cannot do long road trips, so close to home was a must for this cruise. We were a bit apprehensive about the size and age of the ship, but it turned out to be a non-issue for the most part.

The Port of Charleston is not really set up for cruise ships, so the drop-off and pick-up is not as smooth as it could be. The port area is cramped and busy, and hard to find your way around. We stayed at a local hotel near the airport, and took our checked luggage to the port the morning of departure, checked and dropped it off, paid for parking, and then went back to the hotel for the rest of the family. This proved to be a convenient way to do it because dropping off just people was easy. I then went to park and caught a shuttle back over to the terminal and met up with the rest of my group with no problems. Embarkation was fast and simple.

The Ecstasy is an older and smaller ship but most everything has been either re-done or kept up well. The only signs of aging we saw was some rust around doorways. All the decor and furnishings seemed to be fairly new. As for the size, the only drawback I found was cramped deck space. There was no wide promenade deck like on larger ships, so everyone was confined to the pool area or the Serenity deck, which made it crowded. On the plus side, fewer people makes for shorter lines, and shorter walking distances from one end of the ship to another!

FOOD: We had late seating in the Wind Star dining room, and ate dinner there every night. The menus were varied and the choices were pretty standard for Carnival. The extra cost entrees were on the main dining menu, since they have no premium restaurants on this ship. My mother-in-law is gluten intolerant and had no problems at all. The staff would provide the next evening's menu during dinner and she would choose what she wanted, and the cooks would prepare it gluten-free, including desserts. She said they were excellent. The only complaint was one we have on every Carnival cruise. The chocolate melting cake is superb the first couple of nights, then they get progressively less melty as the cruise goes on. My guess is that they make them ahead, and reheat the ones not served, so the successive heating cooks them more each night. Otherwise, all the food was as expected. One nice surprise was the addition of fruit pies each night. I had the apple pie one night and it was delicious!

We ate breakfast and lunch each day on the Lido Deck. It was standard buffet-style fare, with salad bar, dessert bar, sandwiches, and different entree each day. The made to order pizza and panini sandwiches were very good. Outside by the pool you'll find Guy's Burgers, and Blue Iguana cantina. Both were very good, and offered gluten-free buns/tortillas. There is a small coffee cafe for espresso and specialty coffees and teas that was good, but it is near the casino so it gets very smoky. Anything you get there is an extra charge.

Services: We had no trouble with any services we needed. Rooms were made up according to when we wanted it. Most days it was evenings only, since we like to sleep late. We did have to ask for extra toilet tissue, as our steward did not replenish. The room was clean, but the bathroom did have some mold around the ceiling of the shower. Speaking of the shower, the shower was the best I've ever experienced on a ship. The water pressure combined with the shower head were perfect!

Room: We had an inside cabin on deck 5, M76. It was pretty standard, with two twins (which we had asked to be combined into a king, but was not done), with two pull down berths. The room was arranged such that one bed was perpendicular to one pull down, and the other bed was fully beneath the other pull down. We ended up leaving it this way because it left a pretty large area in the center of the cabin to move around in. As for the pull down berths, be warned: the railing is NOT adequate to keep a smaller child from rolling out! The rail is about 1.5" square, in the shape of a "D", and covers about 1/3 of the length of the bunk. Not only could a child climb/roll out at the head or the foot of the bed, but could also squeeze through the rail opening itself. Also, for storage, the rail folds down onto the bed with no locking mechanism to keep it upright. My daughter folded it down several times while sleeping and could have just rolled over it and off the bunk. Very bad design!

Storage is typical for a small cabin, with shelves in the closets and 3 drawers at the desk. I was dismayed to see that the bunk ladders are stored in one of the closets, severely limiting hanging space for nice clothing. In the bathroom, there was one narrow shelf above the sink, so no storing more than a couple toothbrushes there.

The temperature in the cabin was always hot. The only control was on the ceiling vent, where you could turn the air flow open or closed. Not very good. Also, there was no hairdryer, but the cabin steward provide us one to use.

We don't really take part in the casino, bars,shows or other activities, so I can't comment. We did play a couple rounds of bingo which was fun, and did the mini-golf, which was good (and free). You do have to climb a few flights of stairs to get to the mini-golf.

The shopping on board is fairly limited. They do have a small liquor store, clothing and jewelry store. If you're looking for toiletries, they are in the liquor store. I would also suggest doing your shopping early, as they tend to run out of things. On the last sea day, they had a t-shirt sale that had long lines, but good prices. Since the stores are so small, their selection of items is very limited.

One area that Carnival needs to improve is the Pixels photo gallery. Most lines have converted to digital, but not Carnival. They still print out every photo they take and display them around the walls of the Pixels area. This makes for lots of hunting and wasted photo paper! We lost a couple pictures we wanted when they turned up missing from the displays. Carnival really needs to modernize this, not only for customer convenience, but also for savings in time and resources.

Our itinerary was changed due to Hurricane Maria damage to Puerto Rico and St. Thomas, so we ended up with 3 sea days to start the cruise. We visited Aruba, Bonaire, and were supposed to dock in Grand Turk, but it was too windy. We ended up with 6 sea days and only 3 port days! Not my favorite, but at least we were having fun.

All in all, this was a very nice cruise. I would take the Ecstasy again, but since we like sitting quietly on deck, I'd probably get a balcony cabin next time.
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