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Carnival Cruise Lines: Carnival Ecstasy

Fodorite Reviews

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Apr 2, 2017

Review of Carnival Ectasy

Bernardo Age: 58 Occupation:Physician Number of Cruises: 8 Cruise Line: Carnival Ship: Carnival Ecstasy Sailing Date: 2014-08-27 Itinerary: Miami-Nassau-Miami To many passengers for a such a ship. Rather old ship but maintained OK. Very noisy with children running unattended and teenagers screaming with no concern towards other passengers. Its a cruise for the younger crowd that don't mind noisy neighbors, very loud music and doing lines for everything.

It was fine in the formal dining room, but horrible at the buffet and poolside. Very crowded and disorganized at the buffet, with long lines for horrible burgers and hotdogs at the poolside. The formal dining was good with occasional exceptional dishes. Urine drops on the toilet and bathroom floor on our arrival. The balcony was dirty with cigarette ash. The mattress was hard. The service, however, was OK. Not a lot of activities for a couple of our age (50's). We do not enjoy deafening loud music (as this ship had almost everywhere we went). There were no activities for those that preferred some quiet (such as a movie theater or quiet reading room); the library was facing the atrium with loud teenagers constantly passing by. Don't pay for the hotel-beach day; they offered a day at a hotel where you can use their facilities and beach. We took the bus from the port to a hotel on Cable Beach ($3 both) and use their beach, lounge chairs, umbrellas, bathroom and bought food there with no one asking for our room number or questions. Saved $30-40/each (amount they charged for these "excursions") and had a grand time on our own. If you've been on other cruises (such as Norwegian, RC, Celebrity, Costa or Viking - like we have) the Carnival Ecstasy is NOT for you. The orderly, low decibel environment and entertaining experience you might have had in those cruises you WILL NOT FIND IT ON CARNIVAL. However, if you enjoy loud music, standing on lines and avoiding people while you walk at poolside or an outside deck, then the Carnival Ecstasy is what you want.

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Aug 27, 2014

Miami-Nassau-Miami

To many passengers for a such a ship. Rather old ship but maintained OK. Very noisy with children running unattended and teenagers screaming with no concern towards other passengers. Its a cruise for the younger crowd that don't mind noisy neighbors, very loud music and doing lines for everything. It was fine in the formal dining room, but horrible at the buffet and poolside. Very crowded and disorganized at the buffet, with long

lines for horrible burgers and hotdogs at the poolside. The formal dining was good with occasional exceptional dishes. Urine drops on the toilet and bathroom floor on our arrival. The balcony was dirty with cigarette ash. The mattress was hard. The service, however, was OK. Not a lot of activities for a couple of our age (50's). We do not enjoy deafening loud music (as this ship had almost everywhere we went). There were no activities for those that preferred some quiet (such as a movie theater or quiet reading room); the library was facing the atrium with loud teenagers constantly passing by. Don't pay for the hotel-beach day; they offered a day at a hotel where you can use their facilities and beach. We took the bus from the port to a hotel on Cable Beach ($3 both) and use their beach, lounge chairs, umbrellas, bathroom and bought food there with no one asking for our room number or questions. Saved $30-40/each (amount they charged for these "excursions") and had a grand time on our own. If you've been on other cruises (such as Norwegian, RC, Celebrity, Costa or Viking - like we have) the Carnival Ecstasy is NOT for you. The orderly, low decibel environment and entertaining experience you might have had in those cruises you WILL NOT FIND IT ON CARNIVAL. However, if you enjoy loud music, standing on lines and avoiding people while you walk at poolside or an outside deck, then the Carnival Ecstasy is what you want.

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Jun 15, 2014

key west and cozumel

the only good experience about this carnival cruise where the shore excursions.the staff of the ectasy were extremely rude and the ship had maintenance issues. this ship really needs to be docked for major repairs.for the shore excursions passengers were late getting off the ship because tbe staff could not get the gang plank down. the cabin had plumbing problems that guest services took 2 hours to send anyone to fix it. if you had to call guest

services all you got was attitude. consumer beware when you book on the ectasy it is an old ship that is falling apart. food was mediocre. plumbing was bad. shower had no cold water. took maintenance 2 hours to send someone to fix it. they really did not have alot of on board activities. really need improvement in tbat area. shore excursions were good especially in cozumel. recommend the ancient mayan ruins and island sight seeing tour. our tour guide moy was excellent.. from the very beginning the staff was rude. from the checkin clerk at the miami pier and especially guest services. booked the cruise with my 70 yr old mother as a mothers day present. she left the cruise crying and very disappointed.

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By Dave_CR

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Nov 26, 2013

Exotic Western Caribbean

This was our third cruise, and Carnival did not disappoint! We pick Carnival because of all of the fun activities, and even though there were a lot of seniors on this cruise due to the time of year (probably 50-75% seniors), the activities were non-stop. Trivia, dancing, mixology contests, hairy chest, ice sculpture demo, comedy shows, Vegas-style shows, movies on the big screen, 2 pools, at least 6 whirlpools, water slides, mini-golf, fitness,

and live music everywhere! The fun never stops on board, and there is even more to do when you are in port. We feel a Carnival cruise is the best value for our money - compare it to a week in a resort hotel, and you'll see what I mean. We stayed in a resort hotel in St. Pete Beach last year, and 2 nights there was more expensive than a 3-night cruise to the Bahamas. On the Dream, we had fantastic service, fair to excellent food (depending on where we ate), and not enough time to take part in all of the fun. The food in the main dining room was fantastic. On our first cruise we ate mostly in the buffet or the small specialty places, but since then we discovered how good the food is in the dining room. Chateaubriand, prime rib, lobster, duck, mahi mahi, steak, ribs, and on and on. The desserts are fantastic also - baked Alaska, various gourmet pies and cakes, and of course their signature warm chocolate melting cake. Breakfast in the dining room was good, but the portions were very small. Dining room scores a 5 out of 5 for food quality. The service was fantastic - the wait staff consisted of three people and they all were very friendly, knew our names from the first time they learned them, and always took time to chat. Thanks to them, our dining experience was perfect. Breakfast at the buffet was really good, although the omelet line tended to be a little bit of a wait. Also, the scrambled eggs on the buffet line were made from reconstituted eggs - not horrible, but if you preferred real eggs you had to go through the omelet line. Lunch in the buffet was pretty good also, I assume the same for dinner (we ate in the dining room every night). We wanted to try the Pasta Bar, but it was a long wait and we were hungry. The burrito bar was just OK - Chipotle style burritos, but very bland. The Mongolian Wok was a very long wait and the food was not very good. They only had 3 styles of sauce to choose from. The very worst part of the buffet experience was the coffee - it was worse than horrible. The only saving grace was the coffee bar on deck 5 - it was an extra expense, but the coffee drinks there were very good. Finally, the Chocolate experience was a major disappointment. I can't say much, other than the selections were just fair. I wanted to try the barbecue on the Lanai, but it got rained out. The stateroom was very good. We had a balcony room on Deck 9 forward, so it was pretty quiet. The stewards kept the cabin cleaned up any time we left, and they always had the bed turned down in the evening, along with a towel creation and chocolates. They also had ice waiting for us in the ice bucket without even asking, so that was really cool. Also, this was the first time we've had a mini fridge in the cabin - nice touch. The bathroom seems small but it is just fine if you don't try to get two people in there using the sink. The toilet seat is uncomfortable, so you do your business and get out quick. There is no vent fan in there either, so smells and steamy air are trapped. But it's like that on most cruise ships, so you can't really knock them for that. The flat panel TV is pretty good, but if you are judging a cruise by what's on TV then maybe you should have stayed at home. My sons stayed in an interior cabin, and apart from the fact they had no window or balcony, their cabin experience was virtually identical to ours (for half the price). Again, if you are spending a lot of time in your cabin instead of out and about having fun, maybe you should have stayed home. The lockers are ample for a week's worth of clothes, and our suitcases fit under the bed and out of the way. The only drawback I have ever had with the cabin is the lack of electrical outlets. There are two - one in the bathroom that only has power when the bathroom light is on, and one on the counter where a woman would sit and do hair or makeup. Always bring a power strip. Ours was wrongly confiscated from inside our suitcase during embarkation, even though their website says they are allowed. Bring one - you will need it for phones, cameras, laptop/tablet, etc. We had a lot of fun onboard, especially the days spent at sea. Bring a highlighter and make note of which activities sound fun - they are all listed in the daily bulletin the steward leaves in your cabin. The big production numbers in the main theater are well done and very entertaining, and the comedians in the smaller lounges are a lot of fun. They had family rated and adult rated comedy shows. There was live music at various locations around the ship, and it was all pretty good. My recommendation is to forget about what you think you like or don't like, and just try it all! You're on vacation to have fun, so don't spoil it by being overly critical. The pools are a little too small and the whirlpools tend to be sausage stew. The Serenity area is a nice escape from kids. The water slides were fun, even for me, a grown man. My advice - always get off the ship in port and see something you've never seen before! If you are traveling to Mexico or Belize, you should go see some Mayan ruins. Xunantunich is probably the best, but it takes all day. We had booked that excursion originally, but July-December is the rainy season and our excursion got rained out due to the 3 solid weeks of rain they got before our cruise. No worries - we booked a different trip to Altun Ha and had a great day. The excursion included a power boat ride down the river Wallace, where we saw crocodiles, iguanas, manatees, and howler monkeys. On the downside, Belize is a very poor country, so there really isn't much to do there unless you take an excursion. And the tender boat ride takes 15-20 minutes! Cozumel is one of our favorite stops in the Caribbean, and this time we rode an Atlantis submarine. Don't miss it! The view out the portholes is amazing. We saw lots of different fish, a sea turtle, a shark, a ray, loads of coral, and the edge of the ridge on which the island sits - a 5,000 foot drop into deep blue darkness! Isla Roatan is a beautiful island, so you must get out and see some of it. We chose a canopy zip-line tour the day before we arrived in port, and it was a good choice. A little pricey, but we had a blast. After that the tour folks took us to Tabyana beach, one of the most beautiful spots on the west end of the island. The snorkeling there was fabulous. Also, the police keep most of the locals hawking stuff away, so that helps. Think of Roatan as similar to Jamaica in beauty and variety of things to do, without all of the poor people demanding handouts. Costa Maya was our last port, and I would have rather come back a day early. It's a tiny port with almost nothing there except shops and a couple of chain bar/restaurants. More than 1 cruise ship at a time will overwhelm their capacity, and the vendors are really pushy. We did the dolphin swim excursion and it was really fun, so if you are stopping here I would recommend that. Overall, we had another fantastic vacation. I had to come home and take a week to rest up! A few notes: - The embarkation process was smooth and pretty speedy. From the time we arrived at the terminal to the time we were on the ship, it was less than 2 hours. - Debarkation at the end of the cruise was pretty efficient, also. We had a leisurely breakfast, made sure we were out of our cabin by 8:30, and were off the ship by 9:45. And we had a high debarkation number. - The transfer shuttle to/from Orlando airport was a good choice. It's $70 each round trip, but it takes you curb to curb. - Carnival seems to be making a strong effort to make everyone feel like part of a family. Cabin stewards and dining room staff always greeted us by name, other stewards and staff members always engaged us and asked about the day's plans, or whether there was anything we needed. And every single crew member had a smile on his or her face. - The ship was clean and well maintained. It helped that it's one of their newest ships, but when you have 3500+ passengers a week things have a tendency to break. I did not encounter a single broken or inoperative thing on the cruise. I will highly recommend a Carnival cruise to anyone!

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Sep 7, 2013

Bahamas

This was my first cruise and I was very excited. I did not know what to expect. My best friend and I took her daughter to celebrate her 21st birthday. We had all agreed on one excursion which was to swim with the dolphins at the blue lagoon. The night before our excursion we received a letter explaining that they were canceling our excursion. We were very disappointed but were able to book another excursion with the dolphins that night through guest

services. Unfortunately,this excursion did not include lunch and required us to take a boat out to another island where we would have to stay for 4 hours. We planned ahead and took some snacks but were forced to purchase something to drink there. I bought 2 bottles of water and a diet coke and was charged $17. Unbelievable. They really gouge where they can. Upon arriving home my nightmare really started. Carnival billed my credit card for all of my charges while on the ship and placed holds on my account for all of the individual charges. I was told after 72 hours the holds would be lifted yet I am 7 days in and can't seem to get any assistance from Carnival. My advise "SET UP A CASH ACCOUNT"! Overall I was happy with the food aboard the ship. I did avoid the buffet when possible and opted to eat in the restaurant. The food was good but at times the service left a lot to be desired. Our stateroom was always clean and comfortable. For the most part it was quiet. We really liked Yogi who kept us stocked with towels and left us treats everyday. I enjoyed the shows I attended but during the day there was not really much to offer unless you wanted to hang out on the Lido deck that was always packed with people and their rowdy kids.

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Jul 12, 2013

bahamas

it was a bad exp , we sailed royal Caribbean in the past we should have just stayed with them but we figured we would try carnival ,,, bad move ,, we were with a group of people so that's the only thing that made it fun , everything they have there is way to small for so many passengers , from the pool being tiny as hell and filled to capacity no matter what time of the day , the lines for food were always so long and the food sucked , either at dinner

or lunch it was terrible , the best meal was breakfast because they had cereal , and fruit , the coffee was as bad as bad can get , and drinking tea from a plastic cafeteria cup makes you feel like your at a all you can eat dive restaurant ,,,, the best part is that they would clean your room all the time , we were in room v30 so we were up high some of our friends had lower decks inside rooms etc and everytime we went there it smelled like sewage had been leaking ,,, and not like someone just farted but like it was on the floor the smell was so strong , either way I would never go on carnival again spend the extra few dollars and go with royal Caribbean , I did not like the food. Cabin was clean and I'm glad we had a balcony , the activities were terrible ,, again way to many people and not enough staff or room stay away from any excursions in any of the Bahamas , very over priced and lacking any kind of pleasure

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Mar 7, 2013

Eastern Carribbean

For it being my first cruise, I my overall thought is that it was alright. I thought the food was terrible. The best meal was breakfast. A lot of the time the food at the Lido deck was cold. Even when we went to the Wind Star the food was cold. Chicken was dry and Steak was okay. Could have been a lot better. Had high expectations because everyone said food on cruise ships were amazing. Well I disagree. Stateroom was great. Comfortable

and alway clean. Was excited every evening to see what towel animal we got!! I thought they were okay. A lot of the time we opted to stay in the room and entertain ourselves. Which was a little disappointing because this was our honeymoon and my first cruise.

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Nov 28, 2012

Bahamas

I am a very picky person and I want everything to be right, My husband and I was celebrating our 12th year anniversary with 8 other couples (1 couple met us on the boat). We traveled to Port Canaveral by 15 passenger van which was ok...first cruise we were too excited to even tink about the distance. When we arrived around 11:00 we parked the van at a park and ride which was not far from the terminal ($5 a day cant beat that plus a shuttle ride

to the port) mind you we had already dropped our luggage off at the port except our carry on bags. Check in was no problem at all straight thru no hassel. We had all documents plus marriage licence which we didn't need. Boarded the ship right away and it was beautiful...I hear a lot of folk complain about the cleanliness of the ship but let me tell you from the time that we were sleep till the time we would eat...they were constantly cleaning the ship, from the tables and walls to the floors and chairs. This was a lovely ship and we had a blast...the beds are so comfortable there were times where we didn't want to get up. 5 stars The food was good, depending on what you like there is something for everybody and the best part about it, you eat all day long if you want to. Breakfast had everything from cereal and fruit to omelets and all types of breads (my favorite bread baguette bread) which they served every night with dinner and my waiter knew every night that I sat down to the table that it was the type of bread that I wanted. Lunch was great burgers were really good the pizza you have to catch it when its really fresh, one time I got a slice but it looked heated up so I didn't get that anymore, their rotisserie chicken was really good and dont forget they have a Chinese Japanese stir fry station and they cook right in front of you. Remember also they serve drinks all day everyday even on the beach..... Comfortable was the stateroom and it was just right for me and my hubby. The pillows are so soft and the mattress is thin but very comfortable. You will never think that you was on two twin beds put together. The room was fresh all the time and it cleaned whenever you left the room....I especially liked the turn down service after dinner and dancing we always had a towel animal and chocolates and also an itinerary waiting for us on the bed every night! Toilets (when flushed) makes a gooshing noise cause it sucks everything down with force...a good thing! Staff is on it if you have any problems. I couldn't find my husband because he was on the Lido deck and I didn't feel like walking back up there so I called room service and they came and let me in. Activities are nice we didn't get to attend a lot of them. We did see the hairy chest contest and the ice sculture carving. They both were wild cause they do involve people from the deck. We did go to one game called "The Newlywed Game" it was funny I was sad that me and hubby didn't get picked to be a contestant they picked a couple that was married 45 years, one was 20 years and another one just got married. I did play a couple trivia games, didn't win but it was fun. Other than that The deck party was a hit, dances all night and ate with friends. A couple clubs we went to they were nice. Freeport is very nice they dont hound you to buy anything and it is laid back, Nassau I didn't like cause they walk up to you and ask you to buy this and that and their tours are like $20 per person which is not bad but you can find someone else that will do it for $10 pp. Other than that we enjoyed it all. Just know that we will be going again next year same time but on Carnival Glory. We went in November but the weather was good the whole trip (warm)....My dream came true for taking my first cruise and I loved it. Husband had a rough two nights because of the rocking of the ship and he always thinks of The Titanic for some reason but he was good the rest of the trip. Thanks to our maitre'd and waiters for celebrating our Anniversary on the last night and bringing tears to my eyes. It was a trip to remember! Thanks Carnival

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Aug 28, 2012

cozemel

This was my and my husband's first cruise, was looking forward to having a wonderful time. The first night of sailing was fine,the entertainment, food, service was good. The second day we went to a seminar, for the port excursion, telling about the different shops, and restaurants, got coupons for shopping and everything. We got out of the seminar they were announcing that something had happened to the propeller on the ship therefore they

had to change ports. They claimed the ship was not able to travel fast so they had to change ports to Progresso Mexico. That was the worst place I have ever been to in my life. The city was raggerty, the transportation they picked us up at the port in wasn't in good condition. After reaching the city I we determined we should have stayed on the ship, was not worth going in to town. Sent a letter to carnival cruise line they never acknowledge the complaint, we never heard from them. Well never sail carnival again. The food was good. The rooms were nice. Excellent onboard activites Stay away from Pregresso excursion

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Feb 12, 2012

Bahamas

This was my first cruise and my wifes second, her first was with Royal Carribean about 8 years ago which she enjoyed very much. She has wanted me to go on one with her ever since and I finally was able to get the time off. We had been looking forward to this for a long time and were very disappointed. I heard nothing but good things about the cruises friends and family have been on, especially the food. I lost 5 pounds and my wife lost 4. There were

issues with the elevators, one out of the four main elevators wasn't working at all and on 3 seperate occasions saw others down for maintenance or repairs. On the other hand the ship was nice, the room was bigger than I expected and I can't say enough about the staff. The food and service associated with it were the most disappointing part of the cruise, it seemed to be the talk of the ship, I would rather eat at Ponderosa, it was about the equivelent of high school cafeteria food. The day we embarked there was a big send off buffet, the lines were long and they were running out of some food early, selection was very limited, hotdogs, hamburgs, frenchfries and such. Food on the buffets was consistently cold (wouldn't even start to melt a butter patty between two pancakes), powdered eggs, running out of butter patties all the time, but lots of margarine (yuk), running out of coffee cups, coffee inconsistant, stronger than heck sometimes very weak others, water had so much chlorine it was undrinkable, fried haddock, shrimp, and clam strips were about 75% breading, I could go on and on. We only went to the dining room one night and after that we figured it wasn't worth the hassle. The night we went I had lobster and shrimp and my wife had prime rib, lobster was about a 2-3 oz tail with four grilled shrimp, he did give me a second plate but I still left hungry and ended up at the buffet a couple hours later. The prime rib was about a half inch thick and taseless and when my wife asked for aju the waiter poured beef gravy all over her meat. We also waited for over 45 minutes before we could place a drink order, other than wine there wasn't anything on the menu to drink, so we had to ask two times before a bar waitress came, and as I said before the water was undrinkable. Most of the deserts were tasteless. When we were on our way home I passed a Burger King in the airport and had to stop, that whopper was the best tasting thing I had in a week. I did talk to the chef on the ship and all he did was make excuses. There was a surprise health inspection the morning we embarked and most of his staff was running around taking care of things for that. It didn't give me a good feeling knowing that they weren't ready for a health inspection at any given time.As I said before my wife and I both lost weight on the cruise, not that we couldn't stand to loose a few pounds, but that's not why we went. Room was very nice, bigger than I expected, very clean and our cabin attendant was excellent, she got a big tip at the end. We were right next to a utility room of some sort that was quite noisy at all hours, but it didn't really bother us. Other than night clubs, casino, and shows didn,t seem like a lot to do. The 1 pool is small and usually full of kids. There are two jacuzzis on the main deck and the only day we were at sea all day one was closed for rechlorination or something, I would think they would do that on a day we were at port when most of the people were off the ship. I guess there are a couple more in the serenity area but we didn't even know about that until our last day. They have some water slides up on top but only the little ones were open. We booked a couples swedish massage and paid for it a couple of weeks ahead of time, $269 for 50 minutes, what a rip off, I wouldn't give $20 for that. Then came the hard sell for the lotions they used, $60 a bottle, I passed. They gave us a bill afterword and I explained that we had allready paid, they said I had to fill in the tip amount and I would only be charged for that, well they tried to charge me again and it took a half hour of my time at guest services to get it removed. The masseuse my wife had was so rough on her she was in pain for the next two days so bad I could barely rub suntan lotion on her back. She told her it was too hard a couple of times and she would let up for a few seconds and then right back to hard again. I, on the other hand couldn't even tell I had had a massage an hour later. Not impressed. We didn't do any onshore excursions through carnival. I'll do another cruise someday, but it won't be with carnival.

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Jan 20, 2012

Bahama's Key West

The food was decent but plentiful. Was not impressed with the dining room staff/waiter, he could get our order straight, constantly serving us the wrong meal. We really didn't participate in any activities. We did go to the comedy show once, very funny! Don't miss the pub crawl in Key West. This was our first cruise with Carnival and we were nervous as we have always heard it was a 'party ship' and overall not as nice as Royal Caribbean.

It def. wasnt a party ship and we were thankful for that, the food was decent but the dining room staff was not impressive. The drinks were mediocre, I know I ordered alcoholic bevarages but I could not taste the alcohol nor did I feel any effects from it. Our room was clean and the steward was attentive. My husband and I wanted a week to relax and do absolutely nothing and we accomplished that so it made it one of the best vacations ever. I believe we did received better service on Royal Caribbean but you can't beat the prices with Carnival. My next cruise is in Feb. on the same ship, girls trip I hope my experience is the same or better.

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Jan 8, 2012

Bahamas

This was my first cruise. I'm sorry to say that I was quite disappointed. The food was bad. The purpose of the cruise was to get people to try to spend money to allieve their boredom. The free things, such as the pool, were too cramped to make anything enjoyable. My biggest complaint is about the food. I have numerous friends and family members who have gone on cruises, and the first thing that they always mention is the quality and abundance

of food. I read reviews of carnival cruises and understood that the food wouldn't exactly be five star-level, but cafeteria food was not what I anticipated. - When I read the description of the boat and the restaurants, I envisioned something completely different than what was available on the ship. When I read about pizza and ice cream available 24/7, I imagined real pizza that one would get at a pizza parlor, not cafeteria pizza. I also envisioned an ice cream shop with a bunch of options rather than one soft-serve machine that served ice milk. - Buffet food was one step above what you might find at a college cafeteria. Pancakes were hard around the edges, burgers were cold (if you wanted a hot one, they would take a cold cooked burger and put it back on the grill for you), chicken was dry, and the menu was repetitive. Carnival was responsible for providing lunch for five days, but the menu was identical for days 2 and five. Lines were also long at times, as the boat and the staff seemed ill equipped to feed so many people. - For four of the five nights, the late night buffet consisted of the same food: hamburgers, hot dogs, dry chicken, and French fries. I am not a fried food person, but I ate more fries on that cruise than I have in the entire year because the fries were better than anything else there. - The Mongolian Wok was good. The food is made to order. The drawback is that I could only get this food one day, because the lines were so long for this. This area tended to be understaffed. - The deli, which is actually one window inside the buffet, has good sandwiches but has ONE employee working, even during peak hours. - The main dining room tended to have marginally better food. Breakfast food, however, was identical to what was offered in the buffet. My friends and I started to play a little game called "guess the next day's menu". We would look at the dining room's dinner menu and predict what leftovers would be served the next day at the buffet. Prime rib for dinner? Pot roast the next day for lunch. - The "sushi bar" is a little stand in a hallway outside the casino. The California roll had cream cheese in it for some reason. The ship did not have appropriate dishes for the soy sauce and wasabi. So, they used the little cups used for creamer whenever people ordered coffee in the dining room. The problem is that the sushi rolls were much wider than the creamer cups, leading passengers to have to pour the soy sauce on the sushi. - If you want soda, they charge for it. It is completely understandable to charge for alcohol, since offering unlimited free alcohol will lead to all sorts of problems on a ship. But charging for soda is just cheap. - There were other small quality issues. Room service delivered a broken carafe to the room, so we spilled hot water everywhere. I went to get a cup of water for lunch, and the cup leaked. A few other glasses that we were given during dinner were cracked. Some of the glasses were also dirty. The room was clean, and the staff members responsible for caring for the room were great. - The staff constantly wanted people to buy something. One game of bingo costs $10. Each drink costs at least $7.25 plus 15% gratuity. Want water? Prepare to pay unless you are drinking from the tap. - The pool was tiny. Way too small for that size of a boat. - The adults-only serenity section is extremely popular and too small given how many people were looking for someplace quiet. All of the other places to lay out are very loud. I liked The Big 3 excusion in Key West. The boat crew was wonderful. I will consider going on another cruise, but it definitely won't be Carnival. The staff was very friendly, but I actually celebrated with my firends when we got OFF the boat. I never had a vacation where I looked forward to it ending as much as I did with this one.

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Nov 12, 2011

Bahamas

First cruise ever and to start it off , the ship was over two hours late. I wish someone would have told me how awful the drinking water was!!! I could hardly stand to brush my teeth with it. I didn't feel like there was much for kids to do, except the camp they have which my son refused to stay. I felt like it was mostly for those who love to drink. The food left a lot to be desired. I was not even satisfied with the dining room food. The

dining staff were great though! On the positive side, the staff was awesome!!!!! Our rooms were kept perfect and they were more than accommodating!!! The food was barely okay. The drinking water was pure disgusting! Bahama beaches were awesome!!! I wish we could have stayed at Port longer.

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Aug 10, 2011

Galveston-Cozumel

The Bad 1. When we talked to employees at the casino, we joked it was run by the Russian mafia. Turns out, that might be true. Three of us experienced the same hustle; when you first start playing face up black jack, we were winning, then they change dealers and lost. Stay away. 2. Check in from parking to room took 2.5 hrs. 3. Food was very disappointing. 4. Too many kids. 5. Extra costs for almost EVERYTHING. 6. Pool was laughingly small.

The Good 1. Excellent service. 2. Medical Center was outstanding. 3. Plenty of food.

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Jul 30, 2011

cuzamal

I was sooo happy about getting my husband to go I thought nothing could make to a bad trip....but..... this was the worst thing for me and my husband it was like being in jail. They charged 10 dollars a day per person for tips then they charged 15% for every drink and no drink was under 7 bucks. Then wanted us to leave another tip for our waiters. We do not gamble so that was out. the pool was to full to get in. The lines for the buffet was long the

glasses they offer for tea was very small. The bottom line is there was nothing to do on this ship unless you drink like a fish and have a ton of money. The only good thing was getting off the ship. The things we did off the ship was more fun but none lasted long enuff. Our room was always clean that was nice. The food wasNOT out of this world! The staff was friendly but always wanting you to buy stuff. I did this because my husband would not fly any where so I will say this was a learning thing for me. The ship is very nice but once your on your on. Kids running crazy but thats due to bad parenting and they were young kids not teens. We sleep good. That was it.

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Jun 25, 2011

Cozumel

Camp Carnival for children was on my "need" list so that my two granddaughters would have plenty to do--they are cousins and were excited to be together. Because one was 8 yrs. and the other was 9 yrs. Carnival would not allow them to be together in the same class, so therefore they were really upset (as was I) that we would have to find other things to do because of this. Carnival does not offer kid friendly activities outside of Camp Carnival

except swimming which they did not want to do but once because the salt in the water was so overwhelming. Food was not good; was willing to pay at a restaurant other than ones included in total price, but there was none. Servers at dining hall and at shows were not helpful or friendly at all--room service was the best, although there weren't many menu choices and really didn't want to go to room to eat. I have been on three cruises and this was definitely the worse--heard Royal Caribbean was much better--couldn't really be worse. Food was not good--adult or kids. Breakfast in dining room was okay--dinner was acceptable only once. Buffets were basically like fast food. Clean, but had requested king bed and got twins. Slept about 3 hours per night because of this. Not kid friendly--was taking two granddaughters on first cruise. They probably won't ever want to go on another because of their Camp Carnival experience, or lack thereof. Not much for kids to do except swim. Didn't go on shore because of Mexico drug problems. Okay, but not worth $3,000 for 3 people. Probably should have just given my grandchildren the money.

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May 15, 2011

some lazy fun-filled reunion days

I loved the reggae music poolside and the food accessability there. Pool too small for very many people and certainly not for any swimmers. The Mayans who dressed in their local garb and walk around the Cozumel Port made fantastic "tourist" photos. There are a lot of props for free tourist use in those "Kodak moments" just off the ship in Cozumel and some good restaurants. The food was presented well but it was not good. In fact, very few

dishes were as good as they looked on the plate. My entire table of 8 were disappointed. Waiters were great; they just couldn't make up for the mediocre food. We kept ordering different dishes hoping to find some that were good to no avail. I've cruised on other carnivals and other lines...this was the worst food so I won't do another Ecstasy for that reason. My room as well as the balcony was clean and well kept. The first show was like a high school production. I'm used to better shows onboard. Activities by the pool were interesting and fun and the staff were great facilitators. Dance lessons were fun as were the family and adult comedy shows. Would have liked to see more staff productions at night. Swimming with the sting rays was a very exciting experience even for me who am scared of things that live in oceans. Too bad Mexico has closed entrance up onto and into Chichen Itza which is awesome. Items they brought onboard for sale on their "hot deals" were exhorbitantly priced. They'd sell more if they dropped prices. The cost of photos taken by the crew were ridiculously high so we mostly took our own or bought one of theirs and made our own copies after we got home. They need to sell 4x6" picutres not just 5x7 and bigger.

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By Lori_CR

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Apr 22, 2011

Western Caribbean

Compared to the Bed Bug Cruise abourd the Carnival Destiny in 2009...this was a HUGE improvement. Other than having 2 teenagers with us...it was a great trip. If you're going to cruise...cruise out of Galveston! Friendliest ship EVER!!! Great food and lots of it. Melting cake...to die for! Bed bug free :) We had a balcony room and the teens were across the hall in a small windowless room. Perfect for us & since they didn't spend

much time sleeping...perfect for them as well. :) There was ALWAYS something to do!

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Feb 20, 2011

Cozumel

Great experience. The staff was very friendly and efficient, the weather was perfect until we returned to Galveston, and I would do it again. The food was very good, but not excellent. Keep in mind that they serve basically the same fare on the buffet that they are serving in the main dining rooms, but without the fancy presentation and the extra tip. Go to the dining room at least a few times, though--if only for the wait-staff entertainment!

All the staterooms, even the inside cabins are roomy and very adequate. If you spend too much time in your stateroom, you are either sick or boring. Either way, you are missing the whole experience. I don't participate much, but several kinds of music was always playing, the games were always going on, etc. The directors and staff do a good job of soliciting participation for the most part. The main shows in the Blue Sapphire showroom were good. They were "Vegas-style" productions with dancers, singers, props, themes, etc. Entertaining from a pure spectators point of view. As a lifelong musician who has worked extensively in production of this type, I was a little disappointed. Most of the music in the main shows was sequenced or otherwise recorded (though it WAS well-done), with the band playing along as mostly musical enhancements or even totally faking. The LD (Lighting Designer or Director) was really good! The lights and props were top-notch. The audio engineer was average. Too much fiddle, and the singers vocals were sometimes out of balance. The fiddle was to "muddy" or "dark" sounding as well. The lounge acts were mediocre, and the Jamaican stuff on the outside Lido deck all begins to sound the same after a few DAYS of hearing it constantly. Too loud also. They had a guest-only talent show, but I think they only did half of it. They only allow the first 8 people to sign up in the show, and a single family had the first 4 slots taken immediately. Complaints were flying. Could have been fun for others if that single family had shown a little bit of class. Progresso was quaint and slow. A good place to shop a little etc., but nothing to write home about. They even warn you about that in their little excursion talk (you DO need to attend). DON'T buy the first things you see! Look around, and don't pay their first price. I bought a pair of "Ray Ban" sunglasses for TEN BUCKS! Think they might not be real??? Say it ain't so! Good shades anyway! We took the Deluxe Sail and Snorkel tour and loved it. If you have a C-card, the diving at Cozumel is fantastic. The coral reef is beautiful, and the beaches are wonderful. Many experienced cruisers will tell you not to book on the ships excursions, but I have never had any problem with them. Remember, you ARE on foreign soil, and U.S. laws do not apply. Mexico is fast becoming a dangerous place to be---but (so far)--only up north by the borders. You can get a head start on the excursion business by researching on the ship's site ahead of time. MOPST of those listed were available. The weather (Feb 14-19) was perfect in Cozumel and Progresso. Even the water temp was fine. HOWEVER--when we got back to Galveston, the entire harbor was closed to ship traffic due to HEAVE, lingering fog. We waited for most of the day, the Carnival pulled anchor and went back into international waters, where they opened the shops and casino again. The cabin phone was open for free (instead of 1.99 per minute), and they fed us again just as though we were on a longer cruise. Music, shows, shops, casino, buffets, and dining room all opened back up. GREAT JOB, Carnival. Could have been a disaster! Next day, we went back into the channel area (along with 58 other vessels--I counted) and came on in around 2pm. Debarkation was as fast as it COULD be. Don't get in a hurry. These things take time. Overall, the lines were never bad at all in anything we did. But there WILL be lines. Believe it or not, you really CAN find some secluded areas, especially at night, where you can be alone. It WON'T be in the 4 hot tubs. They are usually full. Research the gratuity situation so you aren't blindsided. If you drink a lot of soft drinks, buy the unlimited option. You will pay a little more for all your alcohol purchases that at home, and they ADD a gratuity to each one. They will take more pictures of you than you have ever had taken, and they get a little aggressive with their sales hawking. You CAN ignore it Or, you can spend a couple hundred bucks on pictures, frames, etc. Go, relax, DO, and enjoy. It is a budget cruise, but it can be lots of fun.

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Dec 9, 2010

Western Carribean

IMPORTANT ADVICE FOR PARENTS INCLUDED 2ND cruise, both on Ecstasy (Aug 06 & Nov 10). Probably a good place to start w/ cruise ships, but we'll be upgrading next time to get a nicer experience. Went with the kids this time, Carnival does a great job providing interesting activites for the kids to do. Some of their craft projects were a bit too juvenile for the age involved, but overall they did a pretty good job. It ain't the Ritz, but it's

fun for the family. Its clean (enough), the food isn't going to win any awards but there's plenty of it. Overall, had a good trip both times, and looking forward to going again. Without a doubt, the #1 most in-demand kid activity on the ship was: PING PONG! (NOT kidding). 2400 people, and just two tables, right in the pool area so everyone can see. When/if you do finally get a chance to play, you have a constant stream of people going by asking if you're finished yet, or worse, sitting next to you while you're playing w/ your kids making rude comments about how they wish you'd hurry up and let them play. AND, they only check out the balls and paddles from 9 am until 8 pm. The rest of the time, the table sits there unused, in a cool, well-lit area. My advice to parents taking their kids: before you leave, go to Wal Mart and buy a set of paddles and a dozen balls (they tend to blow into the ocean), then you can play in the mornings and evenings, whenever you want. I promise you, if you're going with kids, this will be the best $10 you spend on the whole trip. Better yet, buy several sets and you can sell them to the desperate parents walking by begging to borrow your stuff so their kids will quit crying. Next most in-demand activity was miniature golf, REALLY cool course on the top deck in the front of the ship. My advice, go play this the second you get on the boat, while you're waiting for your luggage. Because, as soon as the ship takes off, there’s about a 50 mph tsunami wind on the golf course, blowing the golf balls off the green. Someone has to literally hold your ball still so you can putt, like a kick-off on a windy day, not kidding. We finally resorted to golf-bowling, where you just roll your ball towards the hole, closest to the pin wins (you get forward progress), and the loser has to chase down the golf balls so you can play the next hole. It works. Progresso: Wow, is this just simple charity or what? Why does Carnival stop here, other than just to show us what Mexico looks like (sad families living in dire poverty)? IMO, they should skip this stop entirely, just go to Cozumel for a 2 day overnight stop. Would be a MUCH better vacation. Anyway, at Progresso, we did the dune buggy excursion, it was ok, but you do have a 1 hour drive in basically a convertible, twice. A blast for the first 10 minutes, then a beating for the next 50. And then you do it again to drive back to town. After a brief stop at some cool ruins, we then went to a nice resort (probably Progresso's finest, which isn't saying much) for 90 minutes of beach/pool/buffet. Unless you just want to see some ruins, stay on the beach near the dock and save $90/person. Cozumel: Did the Catamaran excursion (snorkeling + beach fun), pretty cool, thumbs up. The couple going with us did the Adventure excursion (zip lines, rock tower, etc) and also enjoyed it. You can't go wrong on Cozumel, wish we'd been there two days...

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Oct 11, 2010

Cozumel

Fantastic, friendly people, great staff, could not do enough to help, wonderful food, room lovely,great value for money definitely be booking again in the very near future, The food was wonderful, so much choice and constant availability. Definitely value for money Something for everyone. We went into Cozumel, not that impressed, we took a ferry across to Porta del Carmen, $22 in total each. The ferry dropped us off on the beach, which

was beautiful, lovely day.l My brother and sister in law flew over from England for 2 weeks, we wanted to go something different as we all had never been on an American cruise before, had a previous bad experience, so where apprehensive, We tried to book with you and found you where booked up, I asked to be put on a cancellation list, fortunately we had cancellations the day before sailing, Sharon was so helpful on booking our trip..The cruise was fantastic, friendly staff, wonderful food and brilliant service throughout a wonderful experience sailing with so many lovely and friendly people.,

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Apr 29, 2010

Cozumel

My first sailing experience was an Alaskan cruise with the Princess line. Long-time cruising friends warned me that Carnival was not quite the same, so I had no illusions. Everything was adequate. Not great. Not spectacular. Adequate. Mediocre was the best description for the food. We ate most meals in the Wind Star and had excellent service. Many of the entrees were dry. Vegetables were cooked in the new style...barely steamed (mostly raw).

The buffet on the Lido deck was ... buffet food. Nothing spectacular. Many items were barely room temperature. I'm certain that most of the desserts were frozen and thawed. The cakes were quite dry...both on the Lido deck and in the Wind Star. Breakfast on the Lido cafeteria line was rather poor. Cold, gluey...unappetizing. Do try the eggs Benedict in the Wind Star! Our stateroom was always clean. The staff did a really good job. They anticipated our needs. We did not have to ask for anything. (Upon arriving home and unpacking, we missed a couple of small items. Carnival has been notified and we are trying to remedy this situation.) So-so. Alternate activities could have been offered. After the Princess cruise and country line dance lessons offered every day, I was quite disappointed in the first day at sea...hip-hop dance lessons. This was not during spring break with a ship full of college 'kids.' The last day at sea a country line dance lesson was offered. But it was a choreographed line dance...not one that you would be able to dance to in a country music club. Loved the comics. The Ecstasy dancers did a great job with their programs. I was rather surprised that thongs were worn in the early shows where small children were in attendance. DO go in the Atlantis sub. While the excursion info states 2 hours...the actual time of submersion was about 30 minutes. But it was gorgeous! The speaker in our room was not working. We missed quite a few announcements. Missed opportunities for drawings for free cruises. The jewelry store area had a 'carnival' atmosphere with the personnel's very definite resemblance to hawkers at the local county fair. We still had a great time. Since being warned by our friends that you get what you pay for, we enjoyed our cruise because our expectations were not high.

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Nov 2, 2009

Western Caribbean

This was my first cruise, but the second for my husband, and one of several for three others with us. Embarkation was a breeze despite driving rain that caught everyone completely off-guard. Once on board, I confess I was having a bunch of "Oooh! Shiny!" moments as I looked around the ship. However, I did have the feeling that everything looked cheesy. Not cheap, but certainly not elegant. There was plenty to do, but by the end of the cruise, I felt

like I had my fingers in an electrical socket for five days (along with a drink surgically attached to my right hand). Disembarkation was remarkably easy, except for the cattle call courtesy of Customs. (It was easy to tell which line I stood in was run by Carnival, and which one was run by Customs -- the one run by Carnival had carpeting and air conditioning.) The food at both the buffet and the main dining room was good - not superb, but certainly nothing awful. There were certainly highlights -- I had some fabulous braised short ribs in the main dining room on the final night. The best dessert of the week was a mainstay in the dining room - the Warm Melting Chocolate Cake (complete truth in advertising for this dessert). There was also a uniformly excellent Mexican buffet on the 3rd night (after leaving Progresso). This buffet was the best one of the week. The final morning buffet before debarkation also had the weirdest food moment -- the cream cheese turned yellow because it had been frozen the night before. (Note to Carnival: YOU DON'T FREEZE CREAM CHEESE!) We had an outside stateroom on the Upper Deck. The two twin beds were pushed together to make a king-size bed, which was about all the room we had. (However, we didn't pay for much more than this!) I will say that the organization of the space was one that would make IKEA proud - two small closets plus shelves in a third closet with the safe. This was plenty of room for all of our clothes - and we had enough clothes for three costume changes each day! The ventilation was a bit finicky, but it kept the room nice and cool at night. The activities on board were non-stop - and those were the planned activities! Between the Mini Golf challenge, the multiple trivia challenges, and the various stage events (including a Hairy Chest contest - designed for the ladies, but secretly for the gay men on board, thankyouverymuch!), we had plenty to do. In fact, I was feeling bored by the last day, when in fact all I needed to do was unplug from everything. We skipped the excursions in Progresso, as nothing intrigued us. We did take the Mexican Cuisine Cooking and Tasting excursion in Cozumel. This was at the Playa Mia Beach Park, down the road from the dock. We both had a great time there -- and this was before the open bar! There is a twin excursion at Playa Mia that doesn't include the cooking demo that will be just as good for you if you don't like to cook.

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Jun 3, 2009

Caribbean

My cruise was ruined by the rude and abusive treatment I received during embarkation and Carnival has ignored my complaints! We checked in early and were told to leave and return at 3 PM, since the sailing was delayed. We were told to show the Fun Pass at the door upon our return, and go to the VIP line where we would be able to bypass the lines of those who had not checked in yet. When we returned at 3 PM we did as told and were waved through

at the door and downstairs, where we were again told to get in the VIP line. We went upstairs and got in the VIP line, at which time a woman from Carnival came up to us and said: "Who told you to get in the VIP line?" I showed her the Fun Pass and explained what we had been directed to do. She answered "Nobody told you that, get out of that line" and put her hand on my shoulder to shove me back, at which time I got out of the line and asked to speak to a supervisor. I had to ask 3 different people to get a supervisor and wait, and wait, and wait. When the supervisor finally came, I expected an apology from her. Instead, she brought along a huge security guard who looked like a brawling petty criminal and behaved as if all his past work experience had been as a bouncer at the more disreputable strip bars. As I was talking to the supervisor, he interrupted and began yelling at me saying "If you think she treated you bad, I'll take you outside and show you what bad is. C'mon, I'll take you outside right now if you don´t like it here." I must add at this point that I am a soft-spoken, grey-haired, 5-foot tall, 60 year-old woman who is not accustomed to being thrown into close proximity to criminal elements. I was appalled that the supervisor allowed him to speak to me that way. In my opinion, it was her responsibility to send him away and apologize for his behavior, which she did not do. All she did was say that the other Carnival employees had been "misinformed" and she was sorry if we were given wrong information, which was not at all my complaint, but rather the rude behavior, compounded by her bringing an abusive bouncer to threaten to beat me up if I didn´t like the way I was treated. When I finally got on the ship I filed a complaint with the Ecstasy about the embarkation experience and I am still waiting for a reply. I was booked on another Carnival cruise for January, but if I don´t get any satisfaction, I'll just switch to other cruise lines. I am not risking being abused by a criminal in a security guard uniform. I found the food was OK and the service in the dining room excellent. The room was roomy, but the bathroom surrounds and fixtures were old and rather worn out. There was no thermostat, so the only way to regulate the temperature was by opening or closing the vent. The shows were not bad, not great either, but the cruise director was outstanding. I was too traumatized by embarkation to be able to get off the ship, so I missed all the ports of call. Embarkation was a nightmare! The experience ruined my cruise and Carnival has ignored my complaints.

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Apr 6, 2009

Mexico

A great ship! The cruise director, was entertaining and witty. The staff (especially our waiter in the dining room, Todor) was friendly and helpful! We had a great time and will be back! Overall, the food was decent. We had delicious dinners in the Windsong Dining Room, but the food from room service and the Panorama Bar & Grill tasted a little bit like airline food. Not bad, but could be better! Also, the pizza from the pizzeria reminded me a

little of cafeteria food. My favorite meals were the tiger shrimp/lobster and the delicious seafood penne- both served at dinner in the Windsong dining room. My boyfriend loved the 24- hour frozen yogurt and it was good! Great! We had an interior stateroom. A little small (as they all are), but clean and sufficient. The bathroom was bigger than expected. My tall boyfriend, who is 6 foot 4, was usually comfortable, so that says alot. The only time we had trouble was when we were both trying to get dressed for dinner in our room and kept getting in each other's way. There was always something to do! During the day, my favorite activity was laying out on the deck with a drink, but my boyfriend preferred the arcade and casino. After dinner, we both enjoyed the comedy shows in the lounges. If they don't already, they may want to change out the shows and comedians so that regular cruisers don't see the same acts every time! We didn't book any excursions, as we like to go on our own pace and wanted to save $$. If you have the extra cash and like to have activities planned for you, I would book an excursion. But we went off on our own and had just as much fun! I had done some research on both ports before we left so I found some places to go and fun things to do.

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Jun 20, 2008

Western Caribbean

Carnival Cruise Lines Ecstasy Cruise Review Western Caribbean Rose Montabano We’ve just returned from a wonderful cruise of the Western Caribbean aboard the Carnival “Ecstasy“. We decided to go on this five day cruise because it was all the time we could be away from our business.  So we flew down to Texas. We also decided to fly in one day before our cruise departure.  We had a transfer service pick up at the Holiday

Inn near Bush Airport in Houston and drive us to Galveston. It takes an hour and hour to drive to Galveston from near the big airport.  We boarded the “Ecstasy” at 1 pm, had no problems with the check-in.  We all had lunch at their great buffet that was ready when we boarded.  An hour and half later we were in our cabins for a bit of unpacking.  We had planned on being on the balcony of our cabin when the ship left the port, put that didn’t happen.  A large thunder-storm settled over Galveston and dropped a great deal of rain. So we took a nap, so we could be rested for a late dinner and dancing and exploring the ship. The Ecstasy is really a fun ship. We enjoyed City Light Blvd. which lead us to all the different Bars and Grills and Club.  We really enjoyed Chinatown the dance club.  On our second night out we enjoyed a great Vegas revue complete with wonderful costumes, exciting lighting effects and pyrotechnics in the Ecstasy’s Blue Sapphire Lounge. On other nights we visited the casino after dinner. On the stops in Progresso and Cozumel, Mexico, we took walking tours and has lunch and drinks in the local establishments. The weather was great there. Our five day cruise was all to short.  On Thursday when we return to Galveston, we disembarked at 10:00 am and our disembarkation went smoothly, and our driver was awaiting us at curbside. Galveston is an island city,  architecture is strictly New Orleans or Key West style.  The grand Victoria homes, the wonderful architecture of the downtown buildings built in the 1880’s.  Being able to see this was really a wonderful experience. Rose Montabano Nashville, TN [email protected]  

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Mar 20, 2008

Western Caribbean

This was our 4th cruise with Carnival, and our third time on the Ecstasy. The one other cruise we took was on the Carnival Fascination, which is identical to the Ecstasy. We can therefore draw no comparisons to competing cruise lines. My wife likes the cruise vacations in part because my cell phone won't function at sea, thereby ensuring that my work won’t intrude on our vacation. We are landlocked at our home in Minnesota, and must

fly to virtually any vacation destination, as a result Galveston did not present a cost advantage. Most of the other guests on this cruise drove to the ship. We had considered a few of the cruises out of the northeast (New York, Boston, etc) however reading the reviews we saw a lot of complaints of rough seas while sailing along the eastern seaboard. The following is our cruise log: Saturday 5/21/05 – Arrived at the Houston-Bush airport and got on the shuttle bus to Galveston. During the one-hour trip the bus stalled on a bridge but the driver got it re-started in about 5 minutes. Our reserved cabin was a category-12, which qualified us for the “Skippers Club”, allowing us to bypass the check in lines. Due to a wedding, the Carnival shore staff was insufficient to handle the quantity of “Skippers Club” members, and I’m not sure that we saved much time. Once on board we stopped by our cabin and then got lunch at the Lido deck buffet. We strolled around the ship until the life-boat drill and noticed many changes (read improvements) since sailing on the ship last August, out of Long Beach, CA. The ship sails past oilrigs; take binoculars if you want a good view. We had some of the delicious pizza late in the afternoon, and then attended the late seating for dinner. The maitre’d did a poor job matching us with the other table guests. They apparently felt the same way, as one of two other couples didn’t return again over the remainder of the cruise. Our waiter, Alex, was the best we have ever had anywhere, including past cruises. We attended the show, which was the same one from last year. They have a new “country” show on another night but we didn’t go to it. Sunday 5/22/05 – Day at sea. Had a good breakfast at the buffet. The omelet needed improvement. To avoid the crowds on deck we laid out on the topless deck, which is usually more sedate. The topless deck usually draws the occasional peepers, but it was out of control this time. Some people even had cameras, which is supposed to be strictly prohibited. Carnival needs to police this better. While on deck we had some drinks, including the “bucket of beer”, which is about the best bang-for-the-buck you will find for alcohol on these cruises. The mixed drinks are pretty weak and will quickly add up on your sail-and-sign account. We hit the lunch buffet and found improvements in the menu over our previous cruises. We spent a few hours in the casino and then had more pizza. They have added a deli next to the pizzeria but don’t expect much. Subway is far better. Formal night dinner was nice. Carnival has relaxed its formal dress enforcement somewhat over time. I don’t necessarily blame the cruise line for this though, as it seems to be more of a societal shift towards casual. FYI, tux rental runs about $100 on the ship. Monday 5/23/05 – Arrived at Cozumel. Had the breakfast buffet. Both breakfast and lunch dining is available in one of the main dining rooms. We have tried that on previous cruises and have found that we prefer the buffet. We have been to Cozumel before and like to go on the catamaran-snorkel-beach excursion. It is a good deal but don’t expect to see anything special while snorkeling. There is food available once you reach the beach if you’re brave. We usually carry along a few bagels from the breakfast buffet to tide us over until we get back to the ship, where the food is free and safe. On the catamaran they have free beer and margaritas. There seems to be no limit and many people return inebriated. There is an alternate excursion, which is purely a drinking/party cruise without the trappings. We did some shopping at the dock shops and then returned to the ship to clean up and have a late lunch. If you intend to do a lot of shopping be sure to attend the lecture on it, or catch the re-run on your TV. We attended the late dining and had one of the best meals of our cruise. Our tablemates didn’t show up, which is pretty typical for the day at Cozumel. The ship sails late and many people choose to eat while ashore. Tuesday 5/24/05 – The ship sailed overnight and arrived at Calica early. We haven’t been there before and were under-whelmed. I thought Ensenada was a dive but this place was just a concrete factory. We had noticed that the outside windows on the ship were unusually dirty, and I wonder if this is why. We had a very light breakfast and boarded a bus for our excursion. We chose the kayak-snorkel adventure, adventure being the operative word. The bus goes from a dirt parking lot, to another dirt parking lot a couple miles away. There you get on some old trucks and ride down a jungle path to the beach, with foliage hitting you the entire way. They put you on kayaks and then you proceed to paddle, parade-style, down the beach and back, about a mile round trip. Good exercise if you’re up to it. They then hand out snorkel gear and point you toward the reef, about 100 yards off the beach. There are only two guys in kayaks minding the large group as you attempt to navigate out to the reef and back without getting into trouble. The coral reef is actually the best I have ever seen first hand. At this point everyone thought we were going back to the ship, however the tour operator had different plans for us, taking us to a “sink hole” and then to a beach buffet (eat at your own risk as they have no electricity or running water here. The same goes for the beer as they pour it over ice from an unlabeled jug). The guide attempted to distract us with constant lecturing about the location, much of which was highlighted by false “facts”, and attempted to sell horseback and 4-wheeler rides. At a certain point we had gone way over the 5 hours advertised, and people started complaining. It was only after the complaining gave way to yelling that they finally, reluctantly, took us back to the ship. Despite the beautiful location, we recommend you avoid this excursion. If you go ashore at all consider taking insect repellant. Once back onboard we hit the buffet. The ship was late departing Calica as some people were quite late returningg. Not too surprising if other excursions were run in a fashion similar to what we experienced. Diner was good once again and the waiters had us in tears with the amusing dance they performed. Wednesday 5/25/05 – Day at sea. Not a lot to do except eat. We had enough sun already and chose to remain inside most of the day. We attended the “Newlywed, not-so-newlywed” game, which we recommend highly. A lot of people were playing bingo and someone scored a free cruise. We also spent a few hours in the casino. From our balcony we could see flying fish running from the ships wake. Diner was good again. Thursday 5/26/05 – Docked early at Galveston. We chose to take advantage of the “self assist” debarkation, which allows you to be among the first off the ship, however you must carry off all of your own luggage. We had let Carnival set up our airline reservations, as well as a two-day stay in Galveston following our cruise. The only complaint I have to direct at Carnival regarding our stay in Galveston relates to the rental car. Prior to the cruise, we called Carnival for clarification on how to pick up and return the rental car. We were told to take a shuttle back to the airport in Houston (a one-hour trip), pick up our rental car, and then drive it back to Galveston (another one-hour trip). We discovered by accident that this was not how it worked. The rental car was actually at the cruise terminal in Galveston. Furthermore, a Carnival employee at the terminal misdirected us to take a shuttle to a parking lot to get our rental car, failing to mention that we needed to go to the rental kiosk first. That particular employee was a bit rude to us when we returned sans rental car. They put us in the “Hotel Galvez”, which is a recently renovated turn-of-the-century hotel. The hotel was nice enough but the room was a bit small. The hotel had a nice pool area with a swim-up bar. The Long Island ice teas were very powerful. The food at the restaurant was fine. I would probably choose the Hilton if I could do it over, as it is closer to points of interest. Galveston has some attractions, such as “Moody Gardens”, but don’t expect too much and you won’t be disappointed. Galveston is not a pretty town, and there are vast impoverished neighborhoods within it. Some of the seafood restaurants are fantastic. Tourist maps are available at all the souvenir shops.  

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Apr 12, 2007

Cozumel

Carnival Cruise Lines Ecstasy Cruise Review Cozumel Amber Garrett We arrived at terminal around 1pm - we walked through security and got our Sail&Sign card and were waiting to go aboard within 15 minutes. I have NEVER been through the process that fast, ever! We waited for our friends to arrive for about 15 minutes. We got our pictures taken and were on-board quickly. Our cabins were upper forward (the most convenient place in

my opinion). We did the 45 minute lifeboat drill and we were almost out of the port before we were released. We went up to front of this ship above the bridge to watch us leave (Deck 10 then walk up stairs near bridge). This was a great place to see everything. Once we had cleared Galveston, we took off to explore the ship. We went to the spa to make appointments for manicure/pedicure for the next morning. I have to say it was a waste. They have a price sheet with two pricing options - a standard and a deluxe of each. We wanted the standard but they said they don't offer anymore. We paid $45/$65 + tip respectively for what you could get a salon for $30 or less. We did have a great time with the games on board ship - Battle of the Sexes, Name that Tune, Trivia, Win Lose or Draw, etc. everyday there was always plenty to do. On the day at sea headed back from Cozumel we ran into some crazy waves and the ship was rocking BADLY, but the Purser's desk had medicine that they were happy to give you. We did not go to the shows. On the first day we went, and it wasn't our cup of tea so we didn't go back. The dinners in the dining room were amazing. Our waiter Murali and his helper Iwayan were great. They made great suggestions, and I have to admit, we are a little picky - so they would change things for us and remember for the rest of the cruise what our preferences were. The Grand Gala buffet was on Midnight the day we left Cozumel. From 11:30-12am you were only allowed to take pictures then at 12:30am they started serving it. It was the most amazing display. We were very impressed. We also loved the sushi bar - something different everyday, we were always able to find one that was our favorite. in Cozumel, we did not take an excursion. We caught a cab to Paradise Beach for $12 and spent the day. The beach is free with chairs and umbrellas - they ask you to spend $10 per person on food/drink. You can also buy a bracelet for $9 to use all their water toys. We just hung out on the beach though. We did get henna tattoos from a guy that came to our chairs - we told him what we wanted and he designed it - he was amazing. It is supposed to last a couple of weeks and was only $20. We left early afternoon and went to Senor Frogs by the Intl pier. The waiters there are amazing - very entertaining! I was in Cozumel last year on the Conquest, and I can say they have made lots of progress in their hurricane recovery, and they are still rebuilding more docks. I have been on a couple of other Carnival cruises, and I have to say I don't think this cruise director was in the same league - his name is Goose and he is nice enough, but the others I have seen are much better at getting people involved in activities. On the day of disembarking, they told everyone to be out of their rooms early that morning and that self-assist people (carry off all your own luggage) would start getting off the ship at 8am. Lots of people showed up in the lounge by 6:30am just to be first off the ship. At 8:10am, they made announcement that we were a couple of hours away from Galveston. As it turned out, the ship did not start disembarking until after 11am. We got off the ship at 1:30pm. This turned a great experience in to a negative one for a lot of people. They quit serving breakfast by 10am. They were more than happy to continue taking your sign and sail card for alcohol purchases, but there was no more food served. They also had everyone get out of their rooms by 9am so they could start cleaning. We had people piled up in the hallways, pool areas, decks. Many with their luggage in tow. I think the part of all of the delays that agitated people the most were that we weren't told ahead of time that we were going to be late, most of us would have slept in a little. Overall, we had a great time. It was a first cruise for my 2 friends and my sister - it was my third. I love Carnival for all the activities they have on board. I would definitely go again.  

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Apr 2, 2007

Western Caribbean

Carnival Cruise Lines Ecstasy Cruise Review Western Caribbean This was a 5 day cruise out of Galveston, with stops at Progresso and Cozumel. We did the lengthy drive to Galveston and stayed at Gaidos Seaside Inn the night before. The sea food was great. First time I've taken a chance on raw oysters in a long time, due to the health scare a few years back, and they were great. Gaidos was a decent room, nothing fancy, on the beach,

for $45 for all 5 of us. We filled out our fun pass online, and embarkation was fairly fast. We checked out our room and had lunch. By the time we got back from lunch most of our luggage was waiting for us. That was fast. We met our cabin steward, checked out the ship with the kids, and began our sail at around 4:30pm. We opted for, as usual, the main seating, as opposed to late dinner. The late dinner puts you real close to any late buffets and some people are too hungry to wait and eat at the less formal cafeteria style buffets. Plus, when you get back from port, you don't have to wait four hours to eat. With a teenager and two pre-teens, eating is a priority. We dined with a great family from the Chicago area and had fun visiting nightly. All in all we thought the food was decent, as we're not picky. However, as this is a review, I'll compare it to the Celebration cruise in '03 we did and the food was not as good, agreed on by all 5 of us. They did not include soft drinks with dinner on this cruise. This is the first cruise where pop was extra at dinner time. We don't drink enough pop to justify the card you can by allowing you to drink all the pop you want. Knowing several people in the restaurant and food business, I know the pop is fairly cheap for the syrup etc. So this was cheapened somewhat. The lobster and duck were good. They are smart when they list the menu. On one particular night they had duck, lobster, and prime rib as choices. This limits the amount of the prime dishes. If they offered duck one night, lobster the other, etc they would have more pricey entrees being ordered. I asked Loredana, our waitress from Romania for the duck and lobster together and it was no problem whatsoever. Service was good. We had an early morning so we did not eat at the Gala buffet but we took pictures. We don't do the shore excursions. They have become too pricey, especially when all 5 of us cruise. We prefer to strike out on our own and do the same thing the excursions do for a fraction of the price. At Progresso we just toured the town. We took a bus form the port, which was free. The Guide told us they were Mayan, and not Spanish. Yucateca he said. He also said Welcome to Mexico, real Mexico. If you want to go to Carlos and Charlies and Senor Frogs, you'll see that crap tomorrow in Cozumel. Little does he know that I will wager in 5 years there'll be a Carlos and Charlies or something similar in Progresso. Cozumel has grown unbelievably since we first went there years ago. At the port in Progresso things are pricey. The markets and stores in town are cheaper. A store owner saw me with a Harley shirt on. Of course he wanted to sell me one for $18. I told him I didn't pay that much for the one I had on that I bought in the United States. I told him I couldn't afford his prices, and offered him $5. He scoffed at me. We then got 5 comparable shirts for $20 in town. On the way out I saw him and told him the price had gone down, I'd give him $3 for his shirt. Hey he gets enough suckers, I might as well rub it in a little. There are markets in Progresso. Chickens hang in the heat. I don't think it would fly in the states. But it's authentic. We sat on the beach and for $1.80 each U.S. the wife and I had a couple beers on the beach. With that he brought chips and salsa. When I went across the street to buy them myself, they wanted $2! Some places did not have American money, so take plenty of $1.00 bills. The purser's desk will make change. The next stop was Cozumel. I would guess a snorkeling excursion in Cozumel would run $75 per person if purchased through Carnival. All 5 of us snorkeled near Chan Kanab Park in Cozumel. Actually we went to Playa Uva, about 200 yards from the park. The park is nice we heard, but only having 2 hrs we didn't want to pay to go to the park. It's $16 per person to get in, and then snorkeling gear is extra. All five of us went to Playa Uva and 4 of us snorkeled for $57. And they gave us 5 cokes upon entry. We saw lots of colorful fish and the kids had a blast. If I wanted to, I could have snorkeled over to the park. The Mexican Gov't regulates liquor prices now from what I was told. There was a stamp on it, all the same stamp at all of the stores. They would not budge on liquor prices. Kahlua they would deal, but I had plenty at home. The cabbie told me where he buys his tequila. I told him I didn't need great tequila as with margaritas, you don't need premium tequila. They had a brand there that was about $7.25 per bottle U.S., although this I hope is better. I used to buy it for that in the states. You can get some awesome tequila for about $15 a bottle that goes down like candy. Try it. The stuff we get here is only good for mixing. Disembarking was the only real complaint. Carnival should call numbers etc. They have a self serve where you carry your own luggage off. I figured that there might only be a few dozen people do this. I was wrong. They said don't go to the 7th floor. Of course that's where everyone went. A little old lady beat me up and tried to pass me on every corner and park her bag on my foot because I was rude enough to leave 6 inches between my self and the person in front of me. Then we get down to the custom's desk and she forgot to have her immigration declaration form done, so she stopped off at the desk. I surmise a couple hundred people then passed her by while I was in line. It was even nicer watching that than it was dealing with the Harley shirt fella in Progresso. I kind of enjoy watching rude people or scammers get handed their just desserts. We wanted to get off quick as we had a 19 hr drive ahead. Had we not been in a hurry I would do the same as we did in the ports. Let the mad rush off, then walk up and off the ship with no line. They did call numbers to allow those off in port. It took a little while in Cozumel as they used tenders to get people off. We had breakfast while they called numbers. I went to get a number when they said anyone can get off now. We walked out. Maybe only 20 minutes behind the rush, but without standing in line for an hour. All in all a great time. The little slip in food quality and the disembarkation nightmare cattle stampede did not detract from us enjoying ourselves. If something doesn't go quite right, we're not the type to let it ruin the trip. We'd do it again. Carnival is about the only line I know of that can get 5 of us in a room.  

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Jan 13, 2007

Cozumel

Carnival Cruise Lines Ecstasy Cruise Review Cozumel My family and I arrived at EZ parking about 11 AM and waited about 30 minutes before they begin allowing people to park. The process was smooth and only took about 10 minutes. The shuttle bus transported us to the terminal and we began the boarding process. We had completed the Fun Pass registration prior to leaving home and there were about 50 people ahead of us in line. We moved

thru the line in about 20 minutes, presented our passports, sign and sail form. We were having our embarkation photo taken by 1245pm and on the lido deck having grilled burger, hotdogs, and fries by 1pm. At about 130pm, we went to our stateroom and found that some of our luggage had already been delivered. Boarding as indicated on documents doesn't begin until 130pm so we were well ahead of schedule. The rooms were exceptionally clean and cool. We explored the ship until about 345pm when we returned to the cabin to prepare for the safety drill. We proceeded to our designated area as indicated on the life jackets provided in your stateroom closet. Our cabin steward realized that our stateroom did not have a child's life preserver and promptly provided us with one before being asked. Our rooms were always fresh and comfortable and our son loved the towel animals that were in our room after returning from dinner each night. Fresh towels were never a problem. The staff in the Windstar dining room was excellent. After the first night, your preferred beverage was always there and they knew if you wanted coffee with desserts. We had choices of lobster, beef wellington, salmon, chicken, prime rib, a couple of salad selections nightly, 4 or 5 choices for appetizers and desserts. The staff was very attentive and the Maitre'd was great. Your sign and sail cards will have your dining time and dining room on the card. All even number tables were to line up on the left side of the ship, and odd on the right. You could eat all day and night on the ship if you wanted. Our formal night was the first day at sea and the captain's cocktail party was great. The food served was delicious and of course free drinks and meeting the captain and his officers. Throughout the cruise, we heard several announcements from Captain Viacava. The Cruise Director, Stuart has an incredible sense of humor. The evening entertainment which begins at 8:00 for the guests with early dinner seating and 10:30 for those with late seating is very entertaining. The talent show was great with the quite humorous host. The country show was lively and the dancers and singers do a great job! The newly wed game, deal or no deal, and bingo are a lot of fun. There is a charge for tickets at a chance to play deal or no deal and of course for bingo. Some great prizes are awarded to the winners. There was an arcade for kids which my son begged for more of and the family scavenger hunt on the last day at sea were some of his favorites. We did the beach break in Cozumel and the Dzilbulchultan ruins in Progresso for shore excursions. There is a seminar on board the first day at sea about shopping in Cozumel. If you miss it, just tune in to the ship channel and it will be repeated. There are some awesome deals on jewelry, boots, and other things in Cozumel. Bargain with the shops because they truly do not mind and you will have fun doing it. Also, the shops onboard the ship will have starting prices of $1.00 an inch for gold, good prices on liquor duty free and tax free. We also enjoyed the music that the pianist and violinist played on the Atlantic deck near the bar. There will be plenty of photo opportunities, and the formal night photos turned out really great. There are many backgrounds to choose from and you can do as many as you wish. Our cabin was located next to the elevator and we were never bothered by hearing the elevator or any noise with people using them. Nor were we bothered by noises from next door or above. Our cruise was filled to capacity and we never felt crowded at all. The ship is run very efficiently, and the entire ship's crew is attentive. If you are an art collector there are multiple opportunities for purchasing beautiful works of art. Darren the auctioneer is really fun! If you drink a lot of sodas, sign up for the unlimited fountain card whenever you board the ship on the lido deck. It is well worth it! The debarkation process took less than 30 minutes. We chose to the self assist and carry all our luggage off the ship. there was no huge lines and waiting. We had an incredible time and I have no reservations about recommending Carnival for my clients. There was a good mix of age groups and something for everyone.  

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By Ruth_CR

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Jan 4, 2007

Cozumel

Carnival Cruise Lines Ecstasy Cruise Review Cozumel Ruth Having taken numerous cruises before, we were excited to finally move up to a "suite" on this cruise. Interestingly, our "priority boarding" did little to expedite the embarkation process - we still had to stand in line on the gang plank along with everyone else. Unlike other lines, Carnival has never seemed to figure out how to keep people from piling up at embarkation.

Our "suite" was about the same size as a regular balcony room on other lines we've traveled. The room was clean, but we quickly learned that we were directly below (cabin V7) the gym and the weight machines that banged on the ceiling and made the room shake from 6 am until well after midnight (the crew are able to use the gym after regular hours). Needless to say, our relaxing cruise was anything but restful! Based on the size and noise level of this cabin, I could not recommend paying twice the cost of a regular room! The balcony also looked out on the deck below, and you can easily be seen on the balcony from below and from the deck on this level at the front of the ship - no privacy! We also discovered that "suite" and returning passengers (we have cruised Carnival a number of times before) receive no "perks" for loyalty. Unlike other lines, there were no special deals or offerings given. All in all, we paid double the cost of an outside room for nothing extra but the lack of sleep from the noise. We also found the crew to be quite unfriendly and distant. Other than our room attendants and dining room attendants, who were great, crew around the ship did not say hello, look at us or acknowledge our presence. We almost felt like we were in their way. While the ship is clean, it is definitely showing its age and probably won't be sailing much longer. Considering it had half the passengers of new, larger ships, we felt that it seemed more crowded than other ships we've sailed on - it was difficult to find a quiet place in the public areas to read or talk, and there was a hint of tobacco smoke in many areas, including the hallway outside our suite. There was also occasional smell in the hall that suggested overflowing toilets, a comment I'd read on other reviews - they were right! I'm not sure this cruise had a captain - we never saw or heard from him the entire cruise, whereas other ships he at least made an occasional announcement. There were certainly plenty (too many!) announcements on this cruise, but none we heard from the captain. Food was uneventful and average, although the room service menu was quite limited, and the only breakfast room service available was lite continental. Debarkation upon return was as pleasurable as the rest of the cruise - while I realize that the ships are at the mercy of immigration, once again Carnival fails in coordinating their system on board in order to minimize standing in lines. We stood in line on the ship for way longer than necessary before even getting off to get in the immigration lines. Needless to say, this cruise certainly put us off cruising Carnival again.  

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By John_CR

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Nov 18, 2006

Cozumel-Progresso

Carnival Cruise Lines Ecstasy Cruise Review Cozumel-Progresso Well here it is, were back and we had a great time, the weather was terrible, the wind, the 10-12 foot swells, and the cool air, but any cruise is a great cruise. SATURDAY: We arrived at Galveston about 12:15 and EZ Cruise parking was full of people because the Grand Princess had arrived late, but the great people who work there had us loaded and at the dock in about

30 minutes. The Terminal was full of people more than I remembered from last time but we were thru the front door and boarding the ship in less than an hour. Lunch on the Lido deck was our first priority so hamburger’s, hotdogs and French fries were calling our names. After lunch we made it to our staterooms on the Main Deck , Midships, and found that our cabins weren’t ready but we left our bags there and headed off to explore. The Ecstasy is a beautiful ship and well taken care of, I personally thought the Elation was much nicer and had much better food but not everyone in our family agreed with me. We finally had the dreaded life preserver drill and we were ready this time. We were sitting on the Lido deck ready with our Preservers at 3:30 and everyone kept looking at us like we were crazy, until they cut the elevators and everyone had to run down pick them up and run back up. We finally got done with the drill, so this time we were able to watch us pull out. Found the camera on top of the Harbor House as we pulled out, saw how the Coast Guard was beside us the whole time until we reached open water, and as any small boat would approach us the Coast Guard would peal off and place themselves between us and the other boat, after the boat passed they would turn around and pull up beside us again waiting on the next small fishing boat to come within range. They did this on both sides. Made us feel real safe and we really appreciate the job they do. After hitting open water we returned to the interior of the ship to explore. This ship was completely different than the Elation, that we were on in February of this year although it was laid out the same the look was completely different. The food on the Lido deck was great although it seemed there was more oriental food than normal but we were told the Head Chef was from the Philippines. Our bags arrived at our stateroom by 5:00pm so we all got ready for the 6:15 seating in Windstar. We ate dinner each night in the Windstar and made one request from our boys that they eat dinner with us each night. We enjoyed dinner nightly and ate to our hearts content. Wonderful meals, Steak, Sea food, Pork chops, pasta dishes, and much more. SUNDAY: Woke up early around 5:00am hit the lido deck for the first cup of coffee, it was piping hot and good to the last drop we sat on the deck at the far rear of the Lido deck out of the wind and watched the Sunrise it was spectacular. 8:00am found us at the Buffet line for scrambled eggs, Pork sausage, bacon, hash browns, and pancakes. After breakfast we toured the ship and had the Capers to plan our day, the wind wasn’t a factor yet so the outside decks were all open, later that first night they started putting up signs that said the outside doors were closed due to high winds. We talked to one of the ships officers the next morning when we arrived at Cozumel and he told us they had recorded 12-15 foot swells during the night, I have no idea how they calculate the waves but they really rocked the ship during the night. Tonight was the Captains dinner so everyone was dressed to the high caliber that is required to attend this event. After dinner we retired to our cabin because of the rocking and decided to just watch TV where we could hold on. Didn’t see anyone get sick but heard that several people did. MONDAY: Got up early to watch how they would maneuver the ship into Cozumel in the high winds, don’t have a clue how he did it but we backed into the pier like it was smooth as glass outside. We tied up and off the ship we went, wind seemed to be blowing extremely high and it was cool and partly cloudy, they announced before we left the ship that all water excursions had been cancelled, so we didn’t have a clue what to do so the boys said lets go to Senor Frogs and do shots I said ok I am gain for it. Had a great time with our sons doing shots and acting crazy but after a couple of hours it was time to do a little shopping. Found some great deals on T-Shirts and brought back about 20 shirts. Boarded the ship around 2:00pm and we ate lunch and tried to find something to soak up the alcohol. We pulled out of port around 5:00pm with a lot of disappointed people who had wanted to do water excursions and weren’t allowed to do them because of the weather. Dinner that night was great, think I had the Sirloin steak rare. Went to one show at 8:45 and then to bed. TUESDAY: Pulled into Progresso around 9:00am we were running a little late, still windy and cool so we just walked to the free buses at the end of the pier and headed to downtown Progresso. No water excursions here that we could do and we really didn’t want to go see a bunch of ruins so we just walked around the main streets looking at different stores, people always trying to sell you something but a firm “No Thank-You” worked every time. The best deals are here, we bought Cozumel shirts and Senor frog shirts here for half the price as they were in Cozumel, the venders in Cozumel would not deal but the one’s in Progresso would. We actually had a good time just walking around, then it was off to the ship for a late lunch and get ready for dinner in a few hours. Didn’t get sunburned but did get Wind burned. We pulled out in the afternoon and had dinner in the Windstar that night at 6:15. Went to the shows at 8:45 and then hit the bed. Woke up around 1:00am with a hunger for a B.L.T. so I called room service and they delivered a Monstrous B.L.T that had tons of bacon, in about 10 minutes that was out of this world, gave a good tip because I knew I was going to call him again Wednesday night cause I was craving Cheesecake to. WEDNESDAY: Woke up early again and was sitting on the fantail by the Lido deck at 5:00am drinking a cup of coffee, about 6:30am they put out the Danish pastries and I was on them quick, Cinnamon roll and a cup of coffee are hard to beat. Waited till the D/W showed up and then it was time for breakfast, but this time I tried a omelet made to order by the omelet Chef. Ham, cheese, bell peppers, were great side order of ham and hash browns. The wind had died down and was really nice so we got everyone together and played several rounds of 9 hole Miniature Golf. Had a great time this day. Played several games of basketball with the boys and hung out in the gym. The Gym has a great view of the front of the ship. Had lunch, took a nap, and woke up for our last dinner. We had some great table mates from Pearland, Texas and really enjoyed them, this was there first cruise and there eyes were wide open at dinner. We ate and ate and had a wonderful time our last dinner was outstanding. Cruised the ship, the casino was our last shot but still couldn’t get a good hand at the Blackjack table, I put down 20.00 played 5.00 a game, and she had three Blackjacks in a row, the 4th hand I had 19 she had 20. Someone was trying to tell me something so I quit. Went to the last show and retired to bed for an early morning. THURSDAY: Well started doing the crying dance at 5:00am. Woke up knowing this was the last day and it was all over. Showered and got ready for breakfast. Hit the Lido deck at 6:00am and there were already several people up there, had my coffee and waited for the rest of the family to show up. By 7:00pm we were eating breakfast and telling tall tales about the week that had just passed, we all were going to miss it but we were ready to go home. We watched about 6-7 Dolphins beside the ship as we pulled in and saw no one driving around the pier or on the streets. Guess just because it was Thanksgiving day no one was up yet. We headed down to the main deck to our cabin to self disembark with our own luggage, and when they called our deck we were already sitting beside the elevators on Empress deck, we were off the ship and thru customs in about an hour. EZ cruise bus was waiting for us at the end of the pier and took us to our car on lot#1. We loaded up and off we went for the 5 ½ hour drive to our house in North Texas, in time to watch the Cowboys win the game. Well that’s about it but were headed back July 5th for the 4 day cruise with the grandkids. Have fun, drink a shot for me and live life like there is no tomorrow.  

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Oct 21, 2006

Cozumel-Progresso

Carnival Cruise Lines Ecstasy Cruise Review Cozumel-Progresso Steve Hooper Okay, the short 3-5 day itineraries of Carnival are very value priced and, as with most things, you get what you pay for. However, in large part, this cruise was not "most things." You get a lot... a real lot for your money. Granted, this is not going to be on par with the other value priced itineraries such as those of RCL or Celebrity (both of which offer

a myriad of shorter cruises), but for around $400 per person, Carnival is a fantastic deal. Again, do not set your expectations unfairly high - the ships have little "wow" factor, but the Ecstasy is comfortable (bigger cabins than on most competitors, extra credit for the new mattresses and sheets), the entertainment very good, the service gracious but not lavish, and the food, almost consistently above average. I'm using a decent chain restaurant as the benchmark for average. Food: Breakfast was boring and uninspired - same thing every day - typical American breakfast offerings. The taste and quality was good. Medium lines in the buffet - no wait at all in the dining rooms (dining rooms usually offered an entree not offered in the buffet - such as eggs benedict). Lunch: Again, buffet good, not great. Every day was a different international theme. Strangely, Indian day was the best. It's not that Indian food is strange - very tasty in fact, but I would have figured that they were more experienced with Italian or American offerings. Dinner: Portions small (you can always order more), menu was small but with some fairly exotic choices (Lobster on formal night was superb in every way, really). Service was very old school - 4.5 stars there. Desserts: Excellent, almost all around. One night the selection was boring, but so what? Entertainment: Excellent casino - slots and video poker payouts were clearly one notch down from Vegas, but if you like to gamble, so what again. It's a good time. No free drinks while gambling though, boo. Comedians: Great Stage Shows: I was such a skeptic, I mean I had to be dragged to Xtreme Country, but it was very good, I must say. It only took about 70 minutes anyhow, then I was free to go to the lounges. Lounges: Pretty much stuck to Chinatown Lounge - an unbelievable 70s/80s band from The Philippines (called Lifeline, I think) played 3 of 5 night - spectacular. Ports: Cozumel (same 'ol same 'ol) - jewelry shopping, cheesy shops, lively bars for sure, expensive shore excursions. Progresso: Not so nice, kind of third world in parts. I took the bus trip to the inland city of Merida - saw the oldest church in Latin America (1547), lots of swanky hotels, had an authentic Mayan lunch of grilled meats and veggies - all for about 33 bucks - woohoo. Not sponsored by Carnival - took free shuttle at port to Progresso center. Paid official Mexico guides there $25 for the roundtrip with tour guide (a full blooded Mayan pilgrim - very small, very personable, very nice). Cabins: Not modern, but comfortable enough. Beds were excellent, bathroom adequate, decent hot water/water pressure. Cabin stewards exceptional - twice daily with plenty of towel animals, of course. General feel: Okay, this is where I become a little snobby. This was not a group of sophisticated people. Lots of first time cruisers, maybe first time vacationers. Lots of college age people partying like wild. Lots of very large people - I estimate that over 60% of the passengers would be considered clinically obese. Honestly, 20% were greater than 100% of their ideal body weight. I'm not casting aspersions here, just making observations. So this is not going to be any sort of glamorous affair, I can assure you. And in my opinion this cruise is not worth more than $600 per person, regardless of cabin. Lots of people paid around $370 per person - I wasn't snooping, it appeared to be a topic of conversation for lots of folks. So, for somewhere less than $120 per person per day, you get a decent enough room, all the food you can stand, good entertainment, smiling service, a generally good attitude among your fellow passengers, and one hell of a view. Can't find that on land. PS. Lots of people posting here seem to think the drinks are pricey. They are about 10% more than a comparable drink at a decent land based restaurant, plus they automatically add 15% as a gratuity - maybe the added 15% causes some folks "sticker shock," but you're going to leave a tip anyway, the drinks are reasonable. Especially the daily specials at $3.50 each.  

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Oct 16, 2006

Western Caribbean

Carnival Cruise Lines Ecstasy Cruise Review Western Caribbean I read a lot about the ecstasy before leaving. I have been on 3 past cruises during Christmas or summer. The ship does not make the cruise. It's the people on board that make the cruise. I am 46 and went with my 19 year old son. He was bored but still had fun like I did. You cannot help but like a cruise. But most events are not like the events held on cruises with

younger crowds. Lots of bars closed early. Some did not even open. Picture yourself in an old folks' home. This is a cruise during the off-season. I would say the ship had mostly 30-50 year olds on it. But they were all on their honeymoon or were couples. There were very few singles. And of course tour groups of elderly. Do not get me wrong, every one of them are nice and I conversed with them all. But they were either too old to get up and groove or their spouses were watching. The sushi bar is great. The food was good. The alcohol is ridiculously priced. When I first boarded, I was served 12 oz cans for $3.75 each than later on 16 oz aluminum bottles for $4.50 each. I prefer a can but they did not have any in bud lite after the first day; this ticked me off. I will ask next time I book a cruise about this or I will not go on Carnival again. Stops at ports are a laugh. These are tourist traps and very expensive. I grew up in San Antonio and father is from Mexico. Mexico does not sell bottles of water for 2.00. Only in these tourist traps. If you get off the ship, read things to do in Cozumel and take a bus or taxi to them. Barter on prices. Look only at the first stops by the ship exits. You can always come back to them. I think most of tipping should go to the cabin steward. I only ate at night and skipped one day. The meals were boring and not exciting with singing like last cruises I'd been on. Of course they were there to serve you and did a good job at it. The room stewards on all cruises so far have exceeded my expectations. The country show was good, but the comedian is average. Casino was tight, and the bingo was fun. I think the ship could have had a better person on Lido deck doing the events; She was kind of boring. The ocean was very rough when we left, and the outside decks on top were closed and the pool was closed. No sail away party that night. But like I said, the crowd you travel with make the cruise. Not the ship. So when you cruise and you want a relaxing slow cruise. Travel when school is in session. If you want an action packed cruise, travel during Christmas or summer. I will go back to the school-time cruises as my kids have more fun and that makes me happy. Click on link for photos of ship. Loads slowly being over 100 photos http://hunt.freewebpages.org/ship.html  

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Sep 4, 2006

Western Caribbean

Carnival Cruise Lines Ecstasy Cruise Review Western Caribbean I came to this site a couple of weeks ago to read the reviews on the cruise that my husband and I were taking. It was very informative, but I learned after taking my cruise, some people can complain about just about anything. My husband and I just returned from our 5-day cruise to Cozumel and Progresso. We had a great time. Our cruise began on September 4. We decided

since we had to travel 6 ½ hours to get to Galveston, we would spend the night somewhere close. We stayed at the Best Western in Webster, TX. It was nice for the price. It was clean, and basically that’s all I was interested in as we were only staying the night and not spending our entire vacation there. On Monday, we drove on down to Galveston and arrived about 11:30 a.m. We knew that we weren’t supposed to begin boarding until 1:30, so we went and did a little last minute shopping, books, Aloe Vera, etc at Target. We were a little hungry so we stopped at Sonic and ate, but if you go, don’t bother wasting your money on eating right before you board. They will have an entire lunch buffet ready for you when you board. We parked at EZ-cruise parking, which we reserved online for $35 for a 5-day cruise. They were very nice and they took our luggage and us by bus/van over to the cruise terminal. After going through the cruise terminal, presenting our picture i.d., our fun ship pass, and our birth certificates. We were given our sail and sign cards, which have your dinner seating and table number right on it, cabin number, and our room keys. We filled out our fun ship pass online and printed it out, which made things a whole lot easier. We then were led right on to the ship about 12:30 and greeted by the very friendly staff. We explored the ship and at about 1:15 we decided to check and see if our cabin was ready. When we went down to the cabin, everything was clean, neat, and ready for us so we dropped off our stuff. Be sure and use the in-room safe for your purse, wallet, jewelry, as it is provided for that reason. All you really need on the ship is your sail and sign card, as they don’t take cash for anything but the slot machines (they also take the sail and sign card in the slot machines). There were plenty of activities scheduled all throughout the day and night from bingo, trivia games, win, lose, or draw, dancing; dance lessons, casino, and just about anything else. The food is there for you 24/7 including a 24 hour pizza and sandwich bar. Our food in the Windstar dining room was excellent. We had everything from lobster tails, beef Wellington, Salmon, shrimp, fettuccini Alfredo to Wiener schnitzel, salads, soup, and of course the excellent deserts. We chose to eat in the Panorama Grill and Bar a couple of nights just for a change and the food there was just as good. We took the beach excursion in Cozumel. We could not dock because of repair work the locals were doing due to the hurricanes, but there was a smaller boat that took us to the pier. An air-conditioned bus took us to the other part of the island where the beach resort was. The set up a huge tent with a big buffet and it was open bar. I don’t really drink much, but they also had water and sodas. We stayed for a while, but since my husband is not much of a sun lover, we decided to take a taxi back to town so we could do some shopping before having to go back to the ship. Our bus driver told us if we did that it would cost $6.00. However, when we got out of the taxi, the taxi driver charged up $15 so beware! I think we were had on that one. The only complaint I have were the rude, inconsiderate drunks that stumbled around the halls at 3:30 in the morning. They apparently thought the halls were sound proof or something, but they ARE NOT. I was apprehensive after reading some of the experiences that some people wrote about. After actually going on the cruise, I realized that you just can’t please all of the people all of the time and it’s going to be what you make of it. My husband and I really enjoyed ourselves and the time away from the electronic world and work. There is an internet café on board and you can check emails, flight information, etc. if you need to (there is a charge of course). We decided not to check any of it because we were on vacation and those things would keep until we got back as we couldn’t do anything about it anyway. I highly recommend the Carnival Ecstasy. The crew and staff are terrific and strive to make your vacation as fun as possible.  

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Aug 12, 2006

Western Caribbean

Carnival Cruise Lines Ecstasy Cruise Review Western Caribbean This was my first cruise. It was great. There is not one complaint I can come up with. We parked at EZ cruise parking, they were very helpful in loading our bags and bringing us to the ship. Parking was only $35.00 for five days. We got right on the ship at 11:00 no waiting. We at lunch and went to our room, our bags were waiting for us when we got there. Our ocean view

room with a window was great, there was plenty of room for two. Our cabin boy Henery was wonderful. There was so much to do, we tried hard to get everything in. The food was great, and being a manager over food I noticed a lot. They kept everything clean and were always cleaning, the food dept. and the grills were cleaned every nigh. My husband noticed the ship deck and rails and stairs were always being wiped down. He is a Captain on a tugboat so he was pleased to see this. The stops were alright, Cozumel was high priced. I would recommend going on tours not just shopping. Progresso had better shopping but it was a long way into town. We are already looking into another cruise to bring the whole family. They kept the kids really busy and happy. Our waiter Roy was great and I enjoyed trying different food. We ate all the way to Mexico & back It was great. Our sail was very smooth I did not take anything for seasickness and did not get sick. I could feel every once in awhile a turn but for the most part it was great. They take pictures all the time, and they were great, an 8 by 10 is $19.99 I wanted to buy them all but I didn't. They took about 60 in all. Drinks were high priced so bring your own. It's the only way to take a vacation. Please email me if you have any questions. We also did not take our own luggage off and we were off before most that did. It looked like a mess and a long line with about an hour or two wait.  

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Jul 10, 2006

Western Caribbean

Carnival Cruise Lines Ecstasy Cruise Review Western Caribbean Tim LaPlante My cruise experience was a bitter sweet experience all in all. I stayed with my family of three in the best suite the carnival Ecstasy offered and there were no complaints regarding the room nor the outstanding service I received from the stewards that maintained our room. That was definitely the high point of our cruise. Most bar/restaurants met our expectations

and the service was impeccable. Most facilities offered a comfortable setting with a fun atmosphere. Drink prices average approximately 5.25/ea.,gratutity included. The pool area/Lido deck was in major need of an overhaul. The pool looked like something you would see at a lower end motel chain and it was not very appealing nor inviting. The water slide was in service for approximately three hours of the cruise. The upper deck was adequate for sun bathing an offered a beautiful view of the ocean. The fine dining was above average and the service was wonderful. The casual dining area was a little above par. Port calls offered well planned excursions that most seemed to enjoy, but it is equally as easy and more affordable to venture out on your own. Port calls could be a little longer. The approximate cost of our cruise was as follows: Cruise Tickets Family of three: 3.1K Cruise onboard bill (including gratuyity): $564.00 All other expenses: Whatever one would spend in port Although we did enjoy most of our cruise experience, we all felt we could have had a much better bang for our buck had we chosen an updated/newer ship or had we chosen to stay at an all inclusive resort. Had we purchased tickets at half the price we paid we would have been satisfied with our cruise experience. I highly recommend researching the actual vessel before you purchase your tickets.  

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Apr 8, 2006

Western Caribbean

Carnival Cruise Lines Ecstasy Cruise Review Western Caribbean Frances Evans Well I never thought I would ever have anything really bad to say about Carnival, but this cruise did it, we were amazed at the service and the crew. I had heard that they were training new staff but I think they should all go back and get a refresher course. 1. We were 5 adults 2 children I am maternal grandparent of the children, I went to sign the 8 year

old and 14 year old for camp Carnival at the orientation was told only a parent has that right but I could be listed as 2nd adult only to pick up the children after the events of the day, seems a little backwards to me, but I could not drop them off and sign them in, but could pick them up duh!!! good thing my daughter was on the trip with me or the kids would be very disappointed, also they do not let you in on actives for the day unless you ask what's going on, there was a talent show and the two children, that were 8 years old wanted to join but did not know they had to sign up we all got dressed and marched down to the club for the show the 2 children were excited as they practiced their song on the lido stage all afternoon, when we got there counselor said they could not join the talent show as they did not sign up for it, or had a rehearsal, which none of us knew about, there were only 3 children signed up and they would not let the kids, do their song. anyway, it was not like there were 50 kids in the talent show there were about 16 people that were in the club watching. 3 of which were the talent show singers. more disappointment on the little ones. 2. I was sitting in the Lido buffet, with the kids having breakfast when a little girl about 4 tables down dropped a chunk of cantaloupe in the middle of the buffet area, I watched as 4 crew service waiters walked over the melon, no one bent to pick it up, I stopped a supervisor pointed it out and told her 4 of her people just walk by it, and someone would slip and fall on that marble/slate floor, dirty dishes filled the tables out by the pool no one was there to bus and pick up glasses we were constantly clearing off tables of beer bottles dishes glasses, full ash trays, before we could sit and eat where were the service people I seen them all over the place but they never lifted any thing off the tables we cleaned them or we had the beverage seller take everything away, when ever he walked by, when we could get his or her attention. 3. We rented tuxes for the dinner and they were delivered to the room $132.00 total for what we rented the one Jacket and the men's shirt was all wrinkled, so we asked the steward on our floor to send it to be press, it came back just before Dinner with a bill, we had to pay to get it pressed, I went down an confronted purser on that one, did get our money back for the pressing, but that was beside the point it should have been pressed and ready to go for 132 buckaroos, you think!! 4. The 3 girls went to the salon to have updos for Captains Dinner as it was formal night, the salon people, put fancy hairpins and boubles in your hair with out asking you if you want them or if you are willing to spend the extra 20.00 or more till after they are done, and then low and behold you look in the mirror and are embarrassed to ask them to remove them as you did not ask for them or were told there was a additional charge BEWARE!!!! a 45.00 updo now was 65.00 to 80.00 depending on what they placed in your hair. 5. Dinner what a mess, we only went the first 2 nights we waited as the waitress came back 3 times with wrong drink order, waiter got the dinners wrong, second night we brought 2 bottles of wine to table they brought an ice bucket and placed the wines in bucket we finally flagged down someone halfway through dinner to open and pour the wine. second night also dinners were serve wrong, we had enough we did the Buffet the remaining nights, we just did not think it was worth the effort to go back. 6. Our Room Steward was more then ok he was there when ever we need him, he answered all our pages and was a great service person, and went the full nine yards with us, thank you. Rico 7. The Lido deck had a huge leak from pool dripping all over in buckets and bucket all over, by the desert table. 8. We did leave all the tips on the bill 350.00 all though we did toss around the idea of taking them off, except for our room steward, which now I wish we had, because I would have rather seen Rico and his helpers get the full 350.00 9. The Lido deck was filthy dirty trash was blowing all over no one picked it up, I was just amazed at how the staff ran this ship, NEW or not, it was a disgrace to Carnival, I have other issues but it is from other family members that were on the cruise, I would be here all night writing if I listed everything, again I am not a Carnival basher I love their ships but this was by far the worst, I have been on in the last 8 cruises 10. The topper was an elderly guest was totally drunk and incoherent and slid down the wall on the Lido deck and was babbling and could not move the crew walked past him for over a half hour before some one told security that the man was in distress, he was served at the bar on Lido and not cut off they just kept giving him drinks and charging him He could not even say NO!!! that's how drunk he was they took him away in a wheel chair, and this was at 3 in the afternoon with children running all over the place, the bartender should have known when to stop serving him, there was no excuse for that. the man could not even talk he was sitting 2 stools away from me and he was babbling, I knew he had had enough cut him off already!!! 11. Tender departure big joke they request your family member all be there in the morning to get number, we went at 8:30 we left the other 5 at the dining room to wait for the 2 8 year olds to finish eating, I went up to get 11 stickers for the 2 families as we were all going ashore together was told that they all had to be present to get sticker, so we had to go down and rush them mean while after we all got stickers , I watched as 3 different passengers went in an got 10- 13 stickers for their family members who were not even in the room after I was told NO!! all would have to be present, which I followed the rule and we got all our stickers together, I confronted the women in charge and told her Why was it ok for other 3 passengers to get tender ticket while their families were not even in the starlight room, if you are going to change the rules do not do in the middle of the thing, what's fair is fair, make everyone follow the rules we were there early and could have gotten the #1 tender ticket, it really did not matter, as we were all on the same tender, its just the idea that they broke their own rules, constantly!! Bottom line I would not take this ship again and word to wise once a ship is dry-docked, they come out with lots of problems, and new employees training, who are confused and do not know what they are doing, not enough supervisors to guide them.

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Jun 27, 2005

Western Caribbean

Boarding was easy, they let us on at noon, but we couldn’t get to our rooms till after 1:00. Not a problem, we were invited to the buffet restaurant for a full lunch. We left Galveston on time; our luggage was in our rooms by 5 or so. Food on board was good in the main dining rooms, ok in the buffet restaurant. Pizza was good, but all they ever had was pepperoni. Fountain cards were a waste for us; the kids usually preferred the fruit

punch and lemonade in the buffet restaurant. Drink service was poor most of the time, terrible some times, unless you wanted the drink special of the day, that was easy to get. Shows were ok; we took in 3 of the 5. We played Craps in the casino 4 times, the workers were not very professional and would get the payouts wrong if you didn’t watch them. I asked my cabin steward for a wine bucket w/ice for the bottle of champagne I brought on board, it took 3 hours and was a gallon plastic bucket when it showed up. They had an orientation meeting for parents of the younger kids, but none for our 12 year olds. We checked out the camp carnival and found NO information for that age group. The older kids (15-17) had some activities and a nice area for them to meet in. Our first day at sea was rainy all day; we didn’t find much to do indoors. Our TV had bad reception on the movie channel, I called to have it fixed and they tried, but it never was very good. We stopped in Cozumel first and the snuba was great (although it was from a beach, not from a boat as I had imagined it would be). We took a cab on our own to the Playa Mia Beach Club and paid $10 each to get in, for that you got use of the chairs, floats, pool, water trampolines…. It was ok, the water was not very clear due to some sea grass and lots of people, but it was clean and friendly. An umbrella at the beach was $4 extra. We ate at the restaurant, ordering off the menu (not the buffet) and it was all good except the chips, but cost $90 for 6 of us! They also had a small native zoo that was kind of fun. We rented Jet Ski’s for $35 for 15 minutes. It was a blast! The next day we docked at Calica. It was a gravel pit, but I had already read that, so was not disappointed. We got off the ship quickly and to our bus. We had booked the Tulum/xel-ha trip due to leave at 7:30, 30 minutes before any other of the tours to Tulum. Unfortunately, we had to wait till 7:50 to leave because 2 ladies were late! Tulum is full of misquotes and other biting bugs, take some Off or buy some before you go into the site (the sellers will tell you that “you will need it” and they are correct). They make you stay on pathways and don’t let you get very close to the buildings, but it’s interesting. Xel-ha was very nice, but be sure and put your sun block on before you get in because they don’t let you use sun block once there. We saw lots of fish while snorkeling and there were plenty of chairs to sit in. Last day at sea we saw the ice carving demonstration, it was good. Also they had the towel folding demo, but it was obvious they wanted you to buy that book.   It sounds like we had a terrible time, but it was a good vacation, just did not live up to my expectations for a cruise (it was my first). My advice would be to book your shore excursions on-line if you are going to do them thru the ship (you won’t have to wait in line or find out it’s sold out) and get your kids to the kids programs that first night so they can meet the other kids early. The ship was clean, in general (our bathroom had some mold) and the rooms were spacious enough.

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Jun 27, 2005

Western Caribbean

What a blast! and what great food. This was our second trip out of Port Galveston but our first with the family (21,19,19 friend,17). Getting on was efficient and easy with our 2:30pm arrival, despite daughter not having her license/photo ID. They accommodated us since she had us and her birth certificate. This ship seemed bigger than our previous Jubilee cruise. Rooms were exactly as advertised and sufficient in size. Our Steward

kept things clean and tidy in an almost hidden-way, as we did not see him perform his duties. Day 2 it rained, but the ship had activities ready to keep all entertained. Choices were Bingo, Game shows, movies, and casino! The fitness center had sufficient machines and stations for all, with almost no waiting. Day 3 we hit Cozumel. I had arranged an excursion to Nachi-Cocom via the internet and it was magnificent. For $32 pp (30% down, 70% cash on arrival) it was all inclusive food and drinks, plus rafts, kayaks, snorkeling, beach umbrella/chairs, swim-up pool/bar,etc. We were greeted by the host, taken to our reserved chairs, and began to enjoy the drinks. Lunch was a buffet of ribs/Mexican foods and everything was good. I walked down the beach and flagged the Banana Boat driver to take me back and treat my group to a Banana Boat ride. The driver tipped us over once, and after seeing our enjoyment, did it again. Very refreshing and fun. As we departed, the owner gave us each a T-shirt with Nachi-Cocom on it to remember it by. Day 4 in Calica/PDC had us worn down from Cozumels sun, so we did the tourist shops and bought presents. Day-5 was the return day at sea, and the beautiful weather had everyone at the pool. We all had a great time, and the food was amazing. We started with Filet Mignon, next day was lobster and prime rib, next day had seafood newburg; the choices and quality were much improved since 3 years ago. Definitely 4 out of 5 stars, and we have some good benchmarks here in Dallas. Our Waiter (Ioan) from Romania was very attentive. I took the time to learn Thank-you (in Romanian) from another ship worker, and he appreciated my extra effort. (It's pronounced Moosa-Mess if your interested !) On that same note, ALL the cruise staff smiled and were genuinely interested to see that you were having a good time and that they kept the ship clean. Absolutely no disgruntled workers. The kids took advantage of the Room Service and it took 30 minutes average to get their midnite snacks. Also, there were many photo opportunities, and I enjoyed the professional caliber of the staff and shots. We purchased quite a few. Overall, we had a blast, and all the kids did too. We are hooked on Carnival and look forward to our next one.

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Jun 27, 2005

Western Caribbean

This was our first time to cruise and we were very skeptical as to how any of us would enjoy the trip. We brought along our two kids, daughter 15, and son 11. We live in North La. and drove down to Galveston the day before the trip. Galveston was not what I had expected...dirty water, etc. However, we had a nice room at the Ramada ltd. and found a great Mexican restaurant named Salsa"s to dine at the night before. Boarding the ship

the next day was a snap. We quickly toured the boat and took a few pictures like most tourists I imagine. We then ate at the buffet. Great cheeseburgers, French fries, hot dogs, etc. The grill was great. We had gotten on board soon after 11:00 a.m. and was told our luggage would be in our room by 1:00. It wasn't. It didn't arrive until around 5:00 p.m. I can understand the delay with that much to care for...I'm just a little impatient. About the only real problem it presented was we didn't have our swimming gear so remember to bring a change of clothes in a carry on bag. We had scheduled the late seating for the dining room. The food was wonderful every night. I can't stress that enough. It more than met our expectations, as did the lunches in the dining room. As a matter of fact, we were extremely pleased with ALL the food venues on board the ship...and we are a picky eating family. My wife is an excellent cook and she was impressed with almost all of the items we were offered, my daughter is a yogurt specialist and gave the soft serve yogurt an "A", my son is a pizza expert and said the pizza was great, and I am probably the most hard to please of all and I loved it all. The waiter we had each night, Florin, was very good. We had different waiters at lunch and you could tell the difference. I guess it's just luck of the draw in that respect so good luck. As for our room steward, we had a gentleman names Moses and he also was great. We never lacked for anything, ice, towels, room cleaning, towel animals at night...everything was great. We were on the Main Deck about mid ship and the room was great. Moses made our bed into a Queen size and it was very comfortable. About the only bad thing I can relate was that it rained on our "fun day at sea". We played bingo a few times and I thought that $20.00 for a bingo card was a little steep but it was fun. I probably will skip that next time though. The nighttime shows were very good. The singers and dancers were good. We had a sword swallower/magician/comic one night and he was pretty good. We went to one late night adult comedy show and wasn't impressed. I know it was pointed out to be adult, but this guy was just plain vulgar. I was not happy with the fact that any kid could walk up to the doors of the Blue Sapphire theater and hear the entire show as well. There wasn't even anyone checking at the door to stop kids from entering. So if you go and have kids warn them to stay away from the late night adult only shows! As for excursions, I booked all of ours on- line through local businessess and avoided the cruise line excursions. I saved quite a lot of money by doing this and I highly recommend you do the same if you can. We went on a two hour horseback ride in the jungle which was O.K. just very hot and there were a LOT of mosquitoes. We're from Louisiana and even we were impressed with the Mexican mosquitoes! Carry a strong variety of insect repellent. We also went to the state park in Cozumel. It was very nice and we had a great time snorkeling there. Don't eat there though! It cost me $71.00 AMERICAN to get out of the restaurant and we ate sandwiches. We went into downtown Cozumel and shopped the rest of the day. My wife got a beautiful ring and a bracelet for a "great deal". She was happy so I was happy. One thing I forgot to mention...rent a car instead of the taxi in Cozumel. We had a 4wd jeep for all day for $30.00. We had a great meal and a good time at Carlos and Charlie's in Cozumel to cap off our first excursion day. The next day in Playa Del Carmen I had booked a 4 hour catamaran ride through Fat Cat Tours. It was really fun. The marina they dock at is great. There are four dolphin pools there and you can get really close the the dolphins for pictures. Swimming with them is very reasonably priced if you want to do that. Look on the web for "Dolphin Experience" Cozumel and you can get more info. But like I said the Fat Cat was great. A few folks got sick so take something for motion sickness before the trip. They have an open bar, soft drinks, water, chips & salsa, fresh fruit, snorkeling, swimming, and the cargo net ride is great. That was a four hour trip and including transportation to and from that's about all the time we had on that day. The rest of the trip was sailing back to Galveston. We hung out by the pools, ate a lot, etc. As far as the kids go, they had a good time as well. We went to the Carnival Kids meeting on the first night and it seemed like a pretty good program but my son makes friends easily and soon had a "crew" and was all over the place. My daughter met a nice girl on the first day and soon after they met BOYS. Need I say more? So the kids loved the trip as well. After reading a lot of reviews like I said to begin with we were skeptical but we very very pleased with this trip and highly recommend it. It could be that we were just lucky but everything just seemed to go right for us in regards to the boarding, rooms, food, and other things I see in other peoples reviews that go wrong. Good luck on your cruise and I hope it is as good as ours was.

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May 30, 2005

Western Caribbean

Our cabin was robbed the second day (Tues, May 31, 2005) between 11:45am - 2pm. $120 cash & a bracelet we had purchased that morning were taken. It was really slick how it was done. We asked 3 times for the key to the safe and were told by the cabin steward that they would get us the key (they conveniently kept forgetting). The entire 2nd night was lost as two security guards came, made us fill out paperwork and completely searched

our cabin (which we had done repeatedly). They were nice but had a "this happens all the time" attitude which didn't put us at ease. It was amazing how quickly the cabin steward was able to get us the key when the security asked for it. It appeared magically. How convenient. We were told nothing could be done on the cruise and we had to wait till the cruise was over and contact Guest Relations. I just spoke with them. They are sending us a letter and we "might" get a Bon Voyage gift if we ever sail again. Needless to say, we are screwed. Thankfully, my husband's wallet wasn't robbed and we had enough cash to do a couple of things. We had prepurchased our shore excursions and had fun on them. However, a dark cloud was thrown over the whole vacation. We were scared to leave our rooms and each time we left we made 3 or 4 checks to see that everything was locked up. The main cabin steward was very apologetic, but her asst. was rude to us from the beginning and he could never look us in the eye after the robbery. We are convinced it was him. After we were robbed, we came back to the room only to have him tell us to come back later - she came immediately and "scolded" him by saying that we could come and go if we like. Guest Relations asked today if we had any hard proof it was him and I said, yes, their employees are the only ones that had a key and the room was "made-up" by them the exact time we were burglarized. In addition to being robbed and violated, Carnival makes you pay for a lot of things that other cruise lines don't. The coffee bar was not free and latte's, cappuccino’s and the like were all $3.50 or so, bingo was $10 - $20 for a card, almost all the fitness classes had a minimum of $10 for them. We ended up making the most of it, but everything that happened, all the additional costs, being hit-up to pay for things daily, well it left a really bad taste in my mouth. Luckily, we had wonderful companions for dinner who were veteran cruisers. They too were very disappointed and were quick to tell us that they have had great experiences on both Royal Caribbean & Celebrity - so although it will be a while before we cruise again - we probably will - albeit with another cruise line.

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May 12, 2005

Western Caribbean

This was my first time on the Ecstasy, I was on the Carnival Celebration twice before before it was moved to Florida. I felt compelled to write after reading other reviews.... The Ecstasy was gorgeous, especially compared to the older Celebration. Getting on the ship will be a bit of a wait, even if you have previously completed your online pass information. Make sure you have your tickets filled out before getting there w/ the credit

card you wish to use for your onboard sail and sign account. Be patient, you are on vacation!! Once you get on board you can immediately start eating and drinking until you are called for muster. Muster is an annoying but necessary experience, take pictures in your life jackets and have fun with it. Night 1 - Casual dining I have to say I always get the chicken w/ peanut sauce as my appetizer, peppercorn steak as my main meal and chocolate decadence as my desert. Has always been great on both ships! Service by Waiters was great, always attentive. Water, tea and coffee all complimentary w/ your meal. Bar waitresses come around quite frequently for liquor orders, this will definitely cost extra. If you are a minimal wine drinker like myself, order one bottle of wine the first night and they will bring it back for you all week. Much cheaper than buying by the glass each dinner. Spent the later part of the evening in the casino and Stripes dance club. The onboard casino is great fun, but I wasn't having the luck I have had on previous cruises so I decided to go dancing instead. Day 2-Day at Sea In the sun from 10-6! Was such a beautiful day :) I drank too much, but not enough water. Make sure to add water to your daily plan, as the alcohol and sun combo will make you sick!! Even w/ 45 spf sunscreen I was burnt, that Caribbean sun is different than Texas sun. Keep reapplying people, I am not kidding. Night 2-Formal night (4day cruises) Do not skip the sit down dinner as this is Lobster and Prime rib night. Order as many as you want, but they will usually bring to you one at a time. My friends had 3 each!! I would advise to make this an early night as you are spending the day in Cozumel the next day and don't want to feel like crap. Day 3 - Cozumel Eat breakfast first, it is already paid for! If you wait until mid morning to get off ship you will avoid the longer lines. We spent the earlier part of the day at Fat Tuesdays drinking and eating chips w/ guacamole - simple, but very good and filling. An alternative to an excursion here is taking a cab to Mr. Sancho's. It will be about $28 round trip in a taxi. The have the following….very nice beach, food, drinks, shopping, trampoline w/ harnesses (wouldn't advise doing after eating and drinking like I did-barf), nice pool w/ waterfall, bathrooms, showers, snorkeling, massages for a small fee, jet ski rental and the opportunity to parasail. Personally for me this was better than going to Passion island the year before. Passion island was about $75 pp and includes a bus ride, getting on a transportation boat, on the island for about 2hrs, then getting back on the boat, and bus ride. Does include a buffet and free Corona and fruit punch drink. You will also probably have to wait on someone as there is usually a person that will overdue the "free" drinking. (Sorry, thought you might like a comparison). Again I stress, bring lots of sunscreen as the heat and sun are brutal this time of year. Might want to bring some Off bug spray as certain times of year the bugs are quite bothersome. Night 3 - Casual night/recovery Good luck on this night, as you are going to be completely wiped!! I ate in the pizza bar and the pizza was delicious, many different choices. Also stop by the 24hr ice cream cone machine. Day 4 - Day at Sea Be prepared to have several Bloody Marys on this day, even if you don't like them I swear by them now - they have healing powers. They are on special every morning you are on the ship. Great day to shop in the gift shop if you haven't already, usually will have last day specials - especially on t-shirts. Play bingo, go to the casino, and just get your last chance rest/relaxation. They have spa services too, I have done the massage -but it will be costly. Look for advertised specials in your daily newsletter, but make sure you schedule an appointment early because times fill up fast. Great option for the last day though, will definitely relax you!! Night 4 - Casual/last night!! Something I didn't do on this last day was take a nap or rest, I ran out of steam by 11 with all the sun and drinking. I missed out on the last night of craziness, so take a nap during the day!! Ate in the pizza bar again, as I definitely would have fallen asleep at my 8:30 dinner seating. Tips: -Get to the port early, around 12 to avoid delays. You can board at 1:30. -Order the bucket of beer. You get four iced down beers for around $11.50. -Get to the pool around 9 if you expect to get a deck chair, go to the breakfast buffet and bring it back. Very relaxing. -Watch it before you jump into the pool, they are salt water!! -Don't expect to stay on the ship at ports to enjoy time without the crowds, this is when Carnival drains the pools/hot tubs and they paint and do maintenance. Also, the casino and gift shops are closed until you are back out in international waters. -Try to get the early seating dinners, 8:30 was awful for me. You get so tired eating that late. -The day you disembark, enjoy your last breakfast and then wait in your room until they call your color. Don't try to get in all the dumb lines.   -Be prepared to be charged gratuities of $10 a day per person. This goes to your room stewards and wait staff. You CAN adjust this at the pursurs desk if you don't feel you got great service. Of course you can always tip more too. -Use room service, especially for breakfast. It is free and a great way to get a wake up call. -If you are in an inside cabin, bring a nightlight - it is quite dark, like sleeping in a cave :)  

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Apr 23, 2005

Cozumel/Playa Del Carmen

In celebration of our 25th wedding anniversary, my husband and I chose Carnival’s Ecstasy from Galveston to Cozumel and Calica/Playa del Carmen. It was awesome! Never being on a cruise before, we really didn’t know what to expect other than what friends had told us about their cruise experiences. We drove from Oklahoma to Galveston, spent the night, then boarded the ship on Saturday. We had pre-arranged our parking at ezcruiseparking.com

(based on a review that I read on this web-site). They loaded us up and dropped us off at the cruise terminal with instructions for pick up when we arrived back in Galveston. Nothing to compare to since this was our first cruise, so we will use them again. They were where they said they would be and no problems. We allowed the porters upon arrival, however we chose to carry them ourselves once we got off the ship and went through customs. More on this process later. We arrived at the cruise terminal around 12:30pm and was promptly processed, showing photo ID’s, cruise tickets, and presenting a credit card for our sign and sail cards. ( You can give cash as a deposit if you like.) We waited in the lobby of the terminal until embarkation began. Approximately 15 minutes later, carry on luggage in hand, we were on the ship. We dropped off our luggage to our cabin and headed for the buffet. The food was excellent. We used 24 hour room service a couple of times for lunch and ate at the 24 hour pizzeria twice. The food service crew aboard the Ecstasy were awesome. Well organized, and friendly. We had our life boat drill and away began our cruise to Cozumel. One thing I quickly realized about a cruise, you can do the activities you want or do nothing. We did an excursion, which I booked through Carnival, while in Cozumel going to Punta Sur Eco Park in the All Terrain Truck. What a blast! Our guide, Jose was awesome and made us laugh. Once through the tour, snorkeling was an option or just laying on the beach. I will say, the road through the park is VERY rough. If you have any sort of back problems, you probably shouldn’t go on this excursion. After the excursion, we shopped in Cozumel and went back on the ship for the rest of the day. We woke the next morning in Calica, took a taxi to Playa Del Carmen and did some shopping there. The taxi ride was $10 one way. We returned to Calica via Taxi and left at 4pm heading back to Galveston. The cabins weren’t exactly huge, but for the amount of time spent in them, they certainly were livable. The stewards and housekeeping staff were awesome. I enjoyed the towel animals and having my bed turned down every evening. Our dinning experience was excellent. Our waiters Jose and Mario in the Wind Song Restaurant were great and remembered our names every evening, along with those dining with us. The days at sea were game filled, dancing, lounging fun days. Our cruise had 350 children on it, we never saw more than 50. Carnival does a great job of ‘containing’ the children. This was a great first cruise experience. We will sail again with Carnival.

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Mar 31, 2005

Galveston to Cozumel

Overall pretty good. Getting off the ship was VERY un-organized & shouldn't have been.I didn't like the high costs of alcohol & soft drinks. If you would have made the costs/drink @ $2.00, you would have made more $ than charging $4.50/drink. I would have purchased several @ $2.00 but as it was, I refused to pay $4.50/drink. You need to concentrate on charging less & making more....it would work! Because of these two things,

I really don't think I would take another cruise. No organization & high beverage costs..

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Mar 21, 2005

Western Caribbean

Cruise Review – March 21, 2005 – Western Caribbean Before Leaving – We stayed at the Hilton in Galveston. Wonderful room and they will park your vehicle for free for the duration of the cruise. The Hilton is great with pretty good customer service and very nice rooms. Embarkation – Things went really smooth. I only waited in line for about 5 minutes. Only two ships in harbor the day we left. Luggage was delivered to our room

before we left dock. Casino – We actually decided to cruise instead of our usual spring break trip to Vegas. The ship’s casino is a great place to lose money. The table games are even more against you than they would be in Vegas. Most of the table games have a $10 limit. I have yet to see a blackjack table that was $5, and the tables are all 8 deck with no surrender. Three Card Poker is $5, but the pays are terrible (30 to 1 on 3 of a kind). In fact the only game that I found that gave you the same odds as Vegas was roulette. When roulette is giving some of the best odds on the ship, spend your money elsewhere. Slots seemed pretty tight with very little variety, though they are not really my thing. Food – The food was really quite good. Not 5 star good, but certainly passable. The Captains dinner was better than most. My wife and I made our own version of surf and turf (prime rib and lobster). Don’t be shy about ordering more than one meal, as the meals in the dining rooms tend to come in smaller quantities. We ate all of your breakfasts on the Lido deck at the grill, which might be the best meal of the day. Large variety of standard breakfast entries, with juices, milk and coffee. Had one lunch in the dining room, and it really wasn’t any different than the pool side grill. Burgers and fries from 11:30 to about 6:00, with pizza served 24 hours. We went the entire trip without buying a drink, but the drink waiters seemed to be everywhere. Drinks are a little bit on the crazy expensive side for my taste. Shows / Entertainment – The “Vegas-style” shows were pretty poor. The ship premiered a new country show while we were on board. Hopefully it will get better with time. Shopping – The Ship’s galleria was pretty good. Really good deals on liquor. The liquor store manager spends time while in ports making certain that the ship has or matches the best deals that you can get at the duty free or other reputable shops. Johnnie Walker Blue for $120! My wife bought a watch (again, pretty good price) and you can get cheap t-shirts if you wait until the last night of the cruise. In Cozumel, the duty free (Dufry’s) shop on the pier has a little of everything. The Americanized shops at the pier are fun, but no real deals to be had. Go into town to find the best shopping. We didn’t really shop in Playa, but I would guess it is about the same. Staterooms / Conditions Aboard – Our stateroom was great (Upper Deck, U144). When we arrived, the room a had a strong odor of onions, but that went away pretty quickly. I never met our steward, but our room was always in great condition. I was initially concerned about the size of the room, but found that it was more than adequate for two. The TV had the three networks broadcast from New York and two movie channels that played the same movies over and over again (I know that you are not going on a cruise to watch TV, but I am a total news junkie – CNN or Fox would have been nice) . Our outside window could have used some serious washing. The ship seemed to be well kept in general, with no real noticeable problems. All of the elevators have bells to announce their arrival, and a number of them sound absolutely terrible. Day One – Galveston, Out to Sea: The muster went pretty well. Of course it is too long and no one wants to do it, but it went pretty fast. We opted for the burgers at the grill (which were very good). We explored the ship, checked our excursions at the shore tour desk and unpacked. Day Two – At Sea: You can’t appreciate the size of the ship until you jog it first thing in the morning. It is big. Breakfast on the Lido deck was great. Spent most of the day on deck and roaming the ship. Dinner was the formal night, with everyone looking great. Take as many pictures as you can – we did. A couple of them turned out very well, and the enlargement prices aboard ship are pretty reasonable. Our table companions made bad small talk about politics. Just an enjoyable day aboard. Day Three – Cozumel: Make certain to sign up for the shore excursions early. We signed up online before we left, and had no problems, but a number of people that we spoke to were disappointed with lack of availability. We chose to go to the dolphin swim at Chankanaab National Park (www.dolphindiscovery.com). It was outstanding. We arrived a bit early by taxi (an adventure in it self – one of the craziest car rides I have ever been on. They drive like maniacs!) and toured the park. There is a great beach and simulated Mayan ruins. The Dolphin swim is a lot of fun, and very recommended. We left, again by taxi, to shop and roam Cozumel. Day Four – Calica / Playa del Carmen, Out to Sea: I had read reviews describing Calica as a gravel pit, but I thought they were being figurative. The dock at Calica is literally a gravel pit / cement plant. Not a great way to greet tourists. We took the cavern and beach tour. The cave swim (cenotes) was the highlight of the cruise. The tour guides (Ruben and Raoul) were a bit talkative, but did a great job. The day ends with 3 hours on the best beach I have ever seen, with water so clear and blue that it looks fake. Reluctantly, we made our way back to the ship and played in the ship’s Blackjack tournament. We didn’t make the final round, and were beat-dead tired, so we went to bed. Day Five – At Sea: Not much happening on ship this day. Some pretty good deals at the stores. Went to the debarkation gathering with the cruise director. The entire debarking process, from this point forward, was confusing and poorly organized. Lots of conflicting information, lots of wrong information. Packed our stuff, and left it outside our cabin. Day Six – Debarkation: Go through the immigration process as soon as possible, then go for breakfast. Don’t bring luggage through the immigration process. Try to figure out the amount that you spent the night before and settle your sign and sail account before hand. I received 4 different answers from 4 different people as to the amount of liquor allowed off the ship. I still don’t know what the real amount is, but the customs process was lax enough not to matter. Finding our bags was easy, getting out of the cruise terminal was impossible. Plan on waiting at least a hour for a hotel shuttle. We weren’t in a rush, so it was no big deal, but if you are catching a flight, plan accordingly. Overall – Very satisfied with our first cruise. Everything was pretty much as we expected, and the value was well worth it. Some things to consider bringing: Room deodorizer – We brought one of the Oust fans and are glad we did. Power strip – only one outlet in the room. A power strip is a must. Bottled water – You can pay for it on ship or try the drink bars – or you can bring your own. $2.50 for a 12 pack, instead of a bottle.

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Mar 21, 2005

Western Caribbean

A great mini-vacation offering good value! We've just returned in late March from a wonderful five day cruise abroad Carnival Cruise Line's "Ecstasy" From the beginning, everything went RIGHT for us on this trip. My fiancée and I flew from Boston to Houston, and my parents flew in from Philly early on the same afternoon, arriving within 30 minutes of one another. We found each other easily at the baggage claim, and before we knew

it we were on our way to Galveston, Texas We had pre-arranged our transportation to Galveston; I had read in a cruise review about this transfer service in Houston that was supposing really good. It was, and it turned out to be the best piece of advice we got for the entire vacation. Now, I can recommend it in this review, If you need a shuttle to transfer your family or group to Galveston, call L.J. at the Texas Cruise Ship Shuttle at (281-443-4430). This helpful and friendly man drove us door-to-door, to and from Galveston, and included a tour of the Galveston strip, and other local highlights. It was a great way to see a city we’d never visited, especially with such a knowledgeable guide. Top marks to L.J. We had made reservations at the Holiday Inn on the Seawall overlooking the Gulf of Mexico in Galveston. This is a good hotel at a great location, with lot of restaurants and think to do near by. They also provide us with free transportation to the cruise ship terminal on our cruise day. The terminal in Galveston is pretty well set-up. If you have the time to visit downtown Galveston, do it. There are blocks of shops, restaurants and bars to kill some time. Don’t bother with the porters in Hawaiian shirts at the cruise terminal; carry your own luggage the 50 feet and drop them with the Carnival employees who will help you tag them. Our bags were outside our cabin door by the time we’d boarded and eaten lunch. The port of Galveston is a busy place for the offshore oil-rig companies. In fact, expect to see oil-platforms for the first 10 hours sailing south. Actually, it was kind of interesting. The weather was perfect our entire cruise. Perfect for folk like us from New England! Some evenings got a little breezy on deck, but if you could find shelter from the wind, it was very pleasant. We recommend the hot-tubs just before closing at 11:00 pm. It’s a perfect place to unwind and watch the goings-on of the ship. As for the ship itself, its was pretty comfortable. The cabins were larger than we expected, and well appointed. There was a mix-up and our room, had 2 single beds; our steward had them converted into a very comfortable double before bedtime. The basket of free bathroom necessities was a nice touch. We had very calm winds and seas for the entire trip. The food was very good, as expected. The buffet style was passable for breakfast, not as enjoyable as lunch or dinner… with one exception. The pizza is as good as they say; The 24-hour pizzeria is one of the most popular place aboard the Ecstasy ship we could have eaten it every day. Arrive at all meals 5-10 minutes late to avoid lines. We had the good fortune of being seated with a delightful family from West Texas and had wonderful fun and conversation with them on the entire cruise. We also meant a lot of people from Oklahoma, Kansas, Iowa, Arkansas and New Mexico. The entertainment was good, we did alot of dancing. We were not into the Vegas style shows. If you go on the cruise with a group of people you’ll have more fun than on your own. We took after dinner stroll along City Lights Boulevard, and have some fun in the ship-long promenade's themed bars and lounges. We pull into Cozumel, Mexico at about 8:00 am. Cozumel was terrific. We booked the Mayan Adventure by Horseback at the Buena Vista Ranch. It was fully worth the cost! There are archaeological sites all over the ranch, the horses are strong and fast (we got to trot and gallop!), and the free cerveca at the end of the day was a welcome treat. Our guides were fun and interesting; it didn’t feel like a standard lead-the-tourists-around-by-hand-tour. It was educational and fun… We highly recommended this! We also found 2 hours to snorkel off Dzul Ha beach - beautiful. Its only 5 minutes from the pier by cab. On our days at sea, we found the deck crowded and a little loud, but acceptable. A little pre-planning got us 4 lounge chairs together overlooking the rail. Grab your own chairs off the stack and set-up early in the morning. We got lots of sun in our 5 days! Disembarkation was uneventful, everything went smoothly.. We were not hurried, so we had the whole morning to enjoy breakfast and relax, while the rest of the passengers waited in long lines to clear customs. A nice piece of luck! We ask our driver L. J. , to pick us up at 10:30 am for our return ride to the airport in Houston. All in all, we had a wonderful vacation. If you have cruised before you are bound to compare this with other cruises you’ve taken. We've cruised on Holland America and Royal Caribbean and this cruise was different. HOWEVER, we paid peanuts for this cruise in comparison to our previous cruises, so the value is excellent. First time cruisers will be impressed. Remember, its a “Fun Ship”! Questions or Comments ? Mary Mecom Boston

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Feb 26, 2005

Western Caribbean

Arrival: We got in a day early and stayed at the Marriott in the BUSH (IAH) Airport. The rooms are from the sixties but nice and quiet. The help was very good and we even had dinner in the upper circle restaurant. The food was very good for what we were thinking. Steak and Fish was cooked to perfection. Day 1 of the Cruise - Galveston First thing I have to say is that thanks to L.J. at the Texas Cruise Ship Shuttle (281-443-4430) we

had the most fun in an hour drive ever in my life. L.J. can tell you everything about Houston and then some. He also took us around Galveston as well. We had a very nice van with plenty of windows to look out. We talked like we were long lost friends. What a way to start a cruise! We were laughing and feeling so good. No matter the price (and he is much cheaper than the cruise lines bus) he made the trip wonderful and we had not even got on the ship yet. If you are doing a cruise in Houston or Galveston, L.J. is your man to call! Well now comes the fun part. We had 3 ships in port at once. What a disaster but thanks again to L.J. our driver, even after showing us around Galveston to some of the beautiful homes there he got us within 50 ft of the building. The line to get next to the building was backed up for miles. We talked to our table mates who spent 2 hours in line to get finally onto the ship. But LJ was right on top of it and helped us right off the van. We did have to walk 50 ft to get to the building with all our luggage but this allowed us to get on the boat and walk around hours before many others. LJ was our man of the hour. He even called us an hour later, after we had already got on board and was relaxing eating lunch to make sure everything was fine. Day 1 at Sea: Finally we set sail under gray skies. No big fan fare there but that night we started the rocking and rolling. No matter who I talked with I never got a sense of people complaining about the movement. All I have to say it was awful. We were on main deck very back of the boat on the center line. We were pitching up and down over a foot and swinging back and forth 15 degrees. Pictures were hanging out from the wall. Our dresser drawers slide up and closed as we rocked back and forth. Needless to say not much sleeping that night which cut into our fun the next day since we were so tired and out of it we slept until noon. Food in the Wind Song restaurant was good. Its better then the big restaurant chains but not 5 star by any means. I guess in my travels I have been to really great restaurants and Carnival is just not know for their food. It was good just not great or fantastic as you see in their commercials. If you want great food - Carnival is not for you. The food is good - their main concern is are you having fun drinking and gambling. The shows were good - not top notch talent. They make up for talent by being loud. We could hardly make out what the singers were saying as they were so loud. The show was a nice diversion from the rocking and the rolling of the boat. Get ready for being bombared on where to spend your money. Sign up for the credit card, go to the art auction, play bingo... all these pitches over and over. Don't they realize we have seen this all each time? Also be sure to get a drink card. If you drink water, ice tea or lemonade you can get that for free. Every other drink you are going to pay for. Its kind of bothered me in that they say its all included except when I want to drink something. Guess they really do want you drunk. The boat was nice and clean. Rooms small but comfortable. No problems with smells and such. Outside was another issue. They had these bands right next to the pool blaring and I mean blaring the music. I love to have background music but this was blasting. Try to lay in the sun and get some rest was totally out of the question. I got some sun and a headache. I had to leave the area it was so bad. Lido deck with their bar and grill was good food. Carl's Jr level food - it was good like any bar and grill would be. Inside they had a bit more fancier food. Not a hugh selection but some things nice. Day 2 Cozumel: We pulled into port and what a nice thing to be off and walking on solid ground. About half the people never even got off the boat. What a waste. The port is clean but you have to walk like a mile thru this special duty free shops - ok its only about 500 feet but seems so long. Right after this a nice place to shop - everything spotless and clean. Not like the real town. Spend and hour here if you wish but you really need to get out to see the sights. There are lots of excursions to do. You really should take one. Also I got one thing to say to Carnival phone operators. Please learn more about what the ship does and how it all works. They kind of messed up our excursions. Telling us that one was sold out when it was not. Thanks the the GREAT people on the boat they exchanged the excursion and FULLY refunded our money. YEAH! We took the 4x4 trip. We got to drive thru town with our guides Rrrrrrrod (yes I spelled it right - got to roll your R's) and Al. This was very interesting to see how people really lived. Exciting and safe at the same time. Then we made a short stop and finally did some real off roading including a very sandy stretch. We got shook up with our wonderful "Mexican massage" as our guides called it. Nothing hurting mind you just alot of up and down and shaking. I am a big man (6'3") but drove ok and had no issues. My wife loved it and was laughing the whole time. If you are pregnant or have back issues you are not going to like this trip. We got to see a real Mayan ruin (most of the others you see are fake ones - not real at all). Got our picture taken and then got a bit of rain. Very fun! We then stopped on the beach to spend an hour. We took a walk, a swim, a hand made mexican lunch. It was all so very nice. Finally our trip back to the ship where we got some great night pictures. The only issue is that wish we had 2 more days since there is just to much to do. Other beaches and ruins to explore. The comedian at night was great. The Karaoke was a total blast. Loved the rules! Everyone claps - if you don't - you get to sing and the leader picks the song for you. Its very funny to hear the Old Spaghetti song done off key. There were a lot of great singers on board and alot of drunks trying to be great singers. It was a great show. Midnight buffet was a disappointment. Again it was nice but I have seen better displays at hotels. It was nice but not top notch. Again Carnival is there for the "fun" not the food. Day 3: Calica The ship does move all night but there is only 10 miles between Cozumel and Calica. Where we go I don't know since we had fun in the evening. What a dump when you get up. You are parked at a rock pile. There is nothing outside like in Cozumel. Be sure to rent a taxi or one of the excursions since there is nothing else you can do. Here again Carnival made a mistake. We checked out their web site for excursions. We were looking forward to seeing actual Mayan ruins but online nothing was open. Again we got to the ship and low and behold they have some. Again the Excursion desk took care of us and exchanged our tickets to do what we had wanted from day one. Its just confusing when their web site says one thing and really its something else. But was very happy to go to Tulum. Here is the shortest day you have to be back on board by 3:30. Not much time to explore. You typically drive south where all the things are. On the bus excursion, you are forced to stop at the tourist trap to by trinkets. We were delayed by one couple buying something and they great fully waited 20 mins. We finally got to Tulum and WOW. It was fantastic. Right on the cliff over looking some beaches what a beautiful site. My wife and I took over 50 pictures here alone. What a piece of history and with the white beaches and blue waters you had some absolutely beautiful shots. We walked all over the place and had a great time. We even got back to see the Mayan pole dance. The bus was full of everyone ready to go back when we got the bus. We were the second to last to board only being 2 mins late. I could have stayed a few more hours at this beautiful place. The night entertainment was a sword swallowed and more comedy. Great show lots of fun. I even got a drink called a Mai Tai. My one drink of the year my wife and I share. Day 4: At sea on your way home. Again the night came but no stars. Cloudy all the way and again we got to rocking and rolling. It was funny to watch people walking hitting each side of the hallway. Yet they called this moderate to minor. Spent the day going to shows and eating. Stayed away from the Lido deck with the loud music again. There was no place to sit in the sun without having blaring music at you. Seems they thought we were all 20 something's looking for a great party. Well this cruise was full of old people 60+ and a lot of us middle agers. Even had 1-2 yr olds on board. This was a very mixed age group with most being over 60. The show again was loud but good. The only problem was to get a good seat had to get there when there were doing bingo. You have better odds of being thrown overbard and then saved by dolphins then winning this thing but alot of people still tried. Most everyone did stay away from this. We then listened to Karaoke all night laughing with the singers since they were being thrown back and forth on the stage. We did however do a standing ovation for the song "Proud to be an American". Since this ship leaves from TX, you will find that 80% of the people on board are from TX. Just got to get used to them all talking funny y'all! HAHA! Day 5: Back at Galveston. They called their debark process - relaxed. What a total farce. We took our time - since our flight was not till 6 pm that night. Got dressed, strolled around, had breakfast. Even then we still had to stand in line for over an hour just to get thru Immigration. The line ran the whole ship. I mean from Aft to Forward. It was totally awful! We stood near the end of the line hoping it would go down but it did not for an hour. Finally we just gave up and got in line with everyone else. After getting to the Immigration guys (only 5 of them for the whole ship of 2,000 - no wonder it took so long) we got stamped and walked out. No more lines atleast right out to our luggage and then out to the curb where we called our man LJ who drove right up with the van. We loaded up and got out of there to the airport. We had arranged to have a tour then but we decided to just get out of there. We were still feeling the effects of the sea sickness (we would still not recover until 3 days later) so we got on a flight early. Overall Impressions: If you want fun (meaning lots of drinking, gambling and loud music) around all the time - Carnival is for you. If you want great food and rich pampering - try another cruise lines. If you are susceptible to sea sickness - just fly down, don't waste your time on a cruise. Don't use Carnivals website to book your excursions. Do that as soon as you get on the boat - they have more choices there and the times so that you can determines which ones to do in the morning and which ones in the afternoon. If you are going on a cruise call in Galveston or Houston - call LJ! Personally I am going to skip the cruising - I don't like being sea sick. I also could have used the days at Sea still exploring Cozumel and Calica!

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Jan 29, 2005

Western Caribbean

I was very disappointed with the poor condition of my stateroom. The desk, cabinets and walls were pretty banged up. The carpet was dirty looking and smelled musky. We had a window but could hardly see out of it because it was so dirty on the outside. The food and appearance of the room on the Lido deck was very unattractive. Especially at night with the green lights on. Way too bright colored plastic tables and booths. The buffet area

was not kept clean nearly often enough to keep up with the sloppy eaters. The good news is that the dinners were quite delicious and the wait staff there very attentive. Would only recommend this cruise for young adults on a budget, otherwise go on the Royal Caribbean cruise from Galveston for a lot nicer ship and better ports. The debarkation was terrible, with a 110 minute wait to clear Immigration. When I complained the Carnival folks blamed it on Immigration, but I have never had to wait for over 15 minutes on any other cruise line. This really sucked as standing a long time caused my back to hurt and removed most of the relaxation that I had experienced from the 4 days of cruising. Come on Carnival, look how Disney lets you depart with no stress!!!

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Dec 18, 2004

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.

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Nov 11, 2004

Mexican Riviera

My wife and 2 teen daughters went on a 4 day cruise to Cozumel from Galveston. This was I think the 4th cruise since the Ecstasy was in dry dock and I think it really showed. The condition of the ship was excellent and the crew was refreshed and ready to serve. Embarkation: We live only on 20 minutes from Galveston and I had prepaid our parking thru EZCruise Parking. I think they were an excellent choice for parking; our space was

reserved and ready for us the minute we pulled up. After a quick shuttle ride to the Terminal our driver instructed us were to go and were to be upon our return. I did the Fun Pass online and we were directed to the shortest line by an attendant; the paperwork process took only a few minutes. Next we were directed to the gangway were our boarding picture was taken and our Sail and Sign cards were activated. One note, I understand that on some vessels the Sail and Sign card is your door key as well, but not on the Ecstasy. You are issued a separate door key similar to what you find at most hotels, which means you have to keep up with 2 cards which was sort of inconvenient. Cabin: Our cabin was on Riviera R86 which was an inside cabin on the forward section of the ship. I found this to be a very convenient location, very near the stairway/elevators which lead to the Atrium. This is the central artery for the ship, you really can’t get anywhere without going thru here first. It was also the only stairway/elevator that leads to the Sports Deck and the Blue Sapphire Lounge. We were very pleased with the décor and arrangement of the cabin which included the 2 pull down bunks. With the beds up and the twins pushed out of the way we felt we had plenty of room. Food: Main dinning room: The menu in the main dinning room was varied and interesting. There was something for just about everyone. We enjoyed trying new things and the service as prompt and courteous. Eating here was perhaps one of the most enjoyable aspects of our cruise. Panorama Bar and Grill: We ate breakfast and lunch here exclusively. The Pizza and Grilled sandwiches were great! Hamburgers and hotdogs were ok as was the rest of the food here. My only complaint was the décor; the blue neon lighting at night was awful! I can forgive the rest of the ship décor, but this was nauseating. It was like eating under black lights. Room Service: this was an unexpected thrill. Room service any time of day or night! FREE! Service: Our room steward was like a ghost, I think we only talked to him once but every time we went back to our room it was clean and neat. The girls discovered room server very early on, even ordering a plate of potato chips once. On deck, if you set a cup or plate down, someone was right behind you busing the tables or asking if you needed anything else. During peak pool hours I saw plenty of drink servers and didn’t have any problems getting served. I found the internationality of the crew very interesting and spent a lot of time talking to many of them about their native country and about life onboard the ship. A really great crew I think. Activities/Shows: We went to 2 of the late night shows and one of the comedians. The shows were Vegas type entertainment with singing and dancing. The costumes were nice and the girls were cute, but it was by no means Vegas (very G rated). The comedian was very funny but I think he stole almost all his material from Larry the Cable Guy. Not much of a dancer, but the dance clubs were ok, I would have loved to sit and listen to the piano player but the smoke was so bad I couldn’t stand it. The kids really enjoyed the Kids Carnival activities, we sailed on an off peak week and there were relativity few kids onboard. I guess this mean they got extra attention from the crew. They combined the 12-17 year olds into one group which means that the activities were either too childish or too grown up for some. The Casino: a real let down. The table games were fairly standard, but they play blackjack with the dealer cards face up. Kind of takes the fun out of playing that way. The slots were average but very tight! I enjoy playing nickel slots and was disappointed to find there were no interesting games like I Dream of Jeannie or Wheel of Fortune they only had Reel Em In and 2 other games I have never seen before. If I had to guess the slots were paying off at like 85% maybe. Shore excursions: In Cozumel we docked at Puerto Maya, which starts off with the Duty Free shopping mall after which is the Maya shopping center. It’s a real maze, designed to force you to run this gauntlet of vendors selling touristy crap. There are no bargains here! The object is to find the exit as fast as possible. Once free of this obstacle we took a taxi to Paradise Beach, which is THE BEACH in Cozumel. Can’t say enough about this beach, clean white sand, blue clear water, free entrance, plenty of umbrellas and chairs, great snorkeling, massages and henna tattoos and no vendors hassling you. They have great prices on their food and drinks too. If you go, ask for Tom, he’ll make sure you are enjoying your stay. Debarkation: I’m not sure if debarkation was a pain or if we were just tired and ready to go home. I missed the meeting the night before that explained the debarkation procedure. So not surprising we were very confused as to where we needed to be and when. That being said, we wasted a lot of time worrying about were we should be and when! We made it off the ship around 11:00 am and were picked up promptly again by EZCruise and on the road by 11:30. All in all it wasn’t that bad of an experience, just part of cruising I guess. Summary: Perhaps I had too high of an expectation. Since this was our first cruise, I didn’t know what to expect. I spent many hours online researching the cruise and excursion trying to make sure that this is what I wanted to spend my money on. My only experience that I can compare this cruise to would be going to Las Vegas. I’ve been there several times and have a BLAST every time! I would compare the Ecstasy to a weekend at the Westward HO. Not a luxury hotel by any means but close to all the excitement. If relaxing by the pool or drink yourself silly is what you want to do, then I think a cruise is for you. I on the other hand have far too much nervous energy. After few hours relaxing by the pool and I got bored and wanted a change in scenery. I doubt I will take any more cruises, but it really had nothing to do with the quality of the ship or the service we received.

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Jun 21, 2004

My wife and I went this cruise to celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary. We went on the Disney Wonder for our Honeymoon, so this was our second cruise. We had an enjoyable time, if not the best cruising experience we have had. As long as you go into the cruise with the mind set that you get what you pay for your ok. Embarkation: Driving to Long Beach terminal was no problem. My wife’s father dropped us off, so did not end up paying

$10/day. The process once you got into line was rather unorganized. There is no real signage to tell you what to do with your bags, or how to drop them off. (a ‘sign’ of things to come Although I had heard that the Fun Pass would aid in check in, in our case it did not. Too many people had either not filled it out, or not COMPLETELY filled it out, so the lines were slow.(they should have people move over and fill out the incomplete paperwork) Also when you arrive there are no signs to follow, but rather TV screens with directions, that we didn’t see until after security check. There is also no one to tell people to be sure to have the FUNPASS completely filled out, or what line to go in. You are then led to a place where you take some pictures (that you can purchase later) and take an escalator ride upstairs where you take another picture for your Sail and Sign card Cabin: Once aboard the ship we found that our sail and sign cards had us listed as late seating even though for medical reasons my wife needed the early seating, and had talking to carnival about this just days before. SOOO first stop was to get that fixed. We then went to our rooms to find a very nice room, and the decorations I had ordered for the room ahead of time. Except the cake that was supposed to come with the package was not there. We later found out that they had changed the package and the cake was no longer included, which I was never informed about before the cruise. The room however was very nice, and the view from our room was great. Food: We then wandered the ship, and got a quick bite at the Lido deck/Panorama Grill. A buffet style lunch with burgers/hot dogs/pasta/salads/fruits/dessert. Our first dinner in the formal dining room (Windstar dining room) was pretty good. The food was good and the selection was wide ranging. Remember if you can’t choose from the many choices you can always order two entrees or two of anything you want. We ate all our dinners in the formal dining room, much better quality than what is offered in the buffet. And after the first morning, we started having breakfast and lunch in the formal dining room as well. Just a much better quality of food. Otherwise it’s the buffet which is always the same selection of burgers fries, etc. The draw of going on a cruise for 24 hour food is not that great on this ship, since the only thing that is open 24 hours is the pizza bar. They should at least offer fruits or snacks or something all the time. Although I did eat my fair share of Ice cream. Service: The room cleaning was great they did a great job of cleaning our room after we left for breakfast everyday. The room was nice and clean. We really never saw house keeping at all. The waiters in the dining room were pretty good. The difficulty is communicating with the foreign staff; it’s very hard sometimes to understand the waiters, and other staff that have such heavy accents. Ship: This ship is showing its age. And it’s a shame because to me, if carnival would invest a little money into updating the décor in the public areas, it wouldn’t look so dated. But maybe there is a new ship on the way. Anyway they keep it fairly clean. And the Smell that everyone complains about I think is the cleaning fluids that are used. They do clean around the clock, but it doesn’t make up for the dated décor. Other areas of the ship: Pools are salt water so we didn’t partake, plus they are always filled with kids. Activities/Shows: We only went to one show, the final show. It was pretty nice. Our complaint was that most of the shows were late at night. My wife and I are not night owls, so when everything starts at 10:30 or later we didn’t want to stay up that late. We were also disappointed by the lack of entertainment while in Ensenada. You are in port from 8 am to 4:30, and there isn’t that much to do on shore to keep you busy all day, so there should be some entertainment on board. But there is not, made for a boring day for us. Shore excursions: Catalina is nice. It’s a good place to shop, and shop and shop. We also went on glass bottom boat tour. This was nice as well. A hint. We booked the first glass bottom boat tour. This allowed us to be the first people off the ship, and we missed the mad rush to board the ferry boats. Ensenada is ok. We decided to take a tour of the blow hole. But we did not book it on board. Rather we went with the company that was running the shuttle from the ship to downtown. TI was cheaper than whets offered the ship, and it didn’t include all of the other places the other tours offered. Just to the blow hole and back. There are lots of stores here selling the same stuff as in La Bufadora. Whatever price they offer you, I basically asked for half, and usually got it. I hope you like haggling; this place is the high pressure sales capital of the world!! Debarkation: What a mess!! Went to breakfast, and returned to see our room being readied for the next cruise, so we were basically evicted. But we were told not to hang out in the main lobby, and many of the lounge chairs had been stacked, so we waited inside for a LONG TIME!! Our group was supposed to be off by 10am I believe, and when 10:30 came around we were going crazy. Then my wife and I realize that there are people in line with other color tags than what have been called. (You are disembarked by color) So we realize that no one is checking tags….so we got in line and got the heck out of there. Poor management of the disembarkation. Summary: Its an ok cruise to get away from things. Just expect to get pampered in the lap of luxery, you defineatly get what you pay for. It’s a party boat, and its geared that way. Even though most of our boat was older folks, many with kids. If you go in knowing what to expect, and than you won’t go home disappointed.

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By DK_CR

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Apr 26, 2004

Mexico

I am a first-time cruiser and my experience with my girlfriend on the Carnival Ecstacy 4-day fun trip out of Long Beach to Catalina Island and Ensenada was wonderful!!! After reading some of the earlier reviews on this website and others, I was expecting the worst and in fact had somewhat regretted my decision to purchase this particular cruise before I did my “research”. I felt like it would have been better to book the similar

cruise with Royal Caribbean as many reviewers had recommended instead. Many of the reviews I had read were negative and made it seem that this would be a terrible experience, but I found that a lot of these reviews were very much exaggerated. Anyways, I paid $189/person for an inside/outside guarantee and it worked out that I was upgraded a couple categories to the Upper Deck/Inside cabin. Also, as a first-time cruiser, I have NOT had experiences on other more luxurious, newer cruise lines, so for you experienced cruisers… take this review from my perspective. Embarkation: Driving to Long Beach terminal was no problem. I had a friend drop me off, so did not end up paying $10/day. The process once you got into line was rather unorganized and VERY UNFRIENDLY. Some of the people working the line and taking your bags are NOT FRIENDLY and ONLY WANT YOUR TIP of $1/bag. But remember that these people ARE NOT employed by Carnival. Anyhow, if you already have a cabin assigned to you and you got a colored tag for your bags in the mail (and they are now attached to your bag), you can simply find a porter to take your bags and be sure to tip them or else they will be upset/rude. If you don’t have an assigned cabin (guarantee inside/outside cabin), you need to stand in line for the porter to determine where they have placed you. Again, tip the person helping you with your bags. If you just have carry on luggage, then you can skip this whole process and simply go to check-in. The check-in process was simple and did not take too long (10 minutes). Be sure to have your FunPass already completed on-line before you arrive and be sure you have all the necessary documentation. You are then led to a place where you take some pictures (that you can purchase later) and take an escalator ride upstairs where you take another picture for your Sail and Sign card. After that, you board the ship!!! Other than the my bad experience with the porter, the rest of the Carnival staff from here on out were extremely friendly and helpful. Inside Cabin: Once you board the ship, there was someone there to help us direct us to our cabin. Although you may initially get lost on the ship, the layout is easy to learn in a day or two, keep the handy little booklet/map with you and you’ll have little problems. My cabin was toward the front of the ship (Cabin U-44) on the Upper Deck (after Carnival upgraded us from the guarantee inside/outside cabin that only had bunk beds). Our room key worked fine and when we opened the door, we were pleasantly surprised. The room provided enough space, carpets were clean, ample closet/hangers, clean bathroom/toilet/shower, toiletries, ice bucket (that my room steward kept filled), some soda/water bottles on the table (be careful if you open these, they will charge you hefty prices) , the air-conditioner is on the ceiling which you can adjust, and they have plenty of light switches everywhere including reading lights by your bed, and only 1 plug-outlet (bring an adaptor for more outlets if you need it). Your cabin steward can provide you with a hair-dryer and there is supposedly an iron available in the laundry room (I did not use this). You are NOT allowed to bring an iron for fire safety reasons. The bathroom had a nice shower stall with hand-held shower, water pressure was good, hot/cold water worked perfectly. One thing that was quite scary was the toilet flush… it is VERY LOUD, like the toilets on airplanes where the toilet uses vacuum power to flush the toilet. Nice mirror with space behind it for your items. Plenty of towels that my room steward changed everyday. My room had two double beds that were already put together to form one large bed. The beds were very soft/comfortable and the pillows/bedding was adequate. There is a phone and TV that plays some local channels as well as 2 or 3 different movies a day that run continuously (nice to watch during your down-time). As you can see, I really liked my cabin and did not notice the foul smells and carpet stains either in my room or the hallway that other reviewers described. I thought my room was rather quiet and did not notice the “paper thin walls” that were described in earlier reviews. Perhaps it was that my neighbors were quiet. Also, I didn’t hear that much ship noise in my cabin, but then again, my cabin was not located near the elevator/stairs. I only heard the ship make noise during the times it was arriving at port (anchor dropping?). I liked my inside cabin since it could be pitch dark when I slept. Once inside my cabin, we read through the Carnival Capers, the daily brochure that lists all the activities/shows/meal times/special offers/etc. to plan our day. Since we arrived at the port around 12:30pm, we were onboard by 1:15pm and decided to head upstairs to the Lido deck/Panorama Grill to have the buffet lunch. (Note: there is a mandatory life-boat emergency drill around 4:30PM that you must participate in.. this was over in about 30 minutes). It seemed well-organized and basically you knew that if the ship was gonna go down, people would NOT be as calm as during the drill. Food: Our first meal was on the Lido deck/Panorama Grill. A buffet style lunch with burgers/hot dogs/pasta/salads/fruits/dessert. We hit the salad bar and got some assorted fruits. The quality of the salad/fruits was exceptional, they were very fresh/tasty. The grilled burger was good also and the desserts were good. We finished off with the ice-cream bar (yummy!). We usually had our breakfast/lunch in the Panorama Grill since we could wear anything and could sit out anywhere we wanted to. Eating your meal out on the deck overlooking the ocean was beautiful. Our first dinner in the formal dining room (Windstar dining room) was fabulous. There is 5-6 choices of appetizers, main entrees, and desserts. You could order as many as you want. We usually ordered 1-2 appetizers, 1 salad, and 1-2 main entrees, and 1-2 desserts. They don’t bring out 2 main dishes at the same time. Soda/bottled water are expensive, unless you purchase a soda card for $18-24 for unlimited soda. Otherwise, juices, coffee, iced tea, and non-bottled water during your meals are free. Almost all of the dishes I had were great. I tried the lobster tail that was delicious, steaks that were tender, and chicken dishes that were moist and not dried out. Again, the salads/fruits are very fresh/tasty. I would recommend ALWAYS eating dinner in the formal dining room. We ate all of o our dinners in the formal dining room and always left very satisfied. We usually had breakfast/lunch in the Lido-deck cause it was more casual and you can sit anywhere. Having breakfast/lunch in the formal dining room is also wonderful because the quality of the food/service was better than on the Lido deck (we ate breakfast there only a couple times). Breakfast food was traditional fare, but I liked the grilled-to-order omelletes on the Lido deck. The formal dining room had eggs benedict and more choices. I did not have any trouble with the food being cold as some reviewers have previously described. Perhaps all the comments that Carnival has received are finally being addressed. I thought the quality and freshness of the food was great and I always looked forward to dinner time. I did try the 24 hour pizza bar once and found the pizza to be rather dried and not very good, so I did not have another slice, but I saw plenty of people lining up for it at other times. During your formal dinner, you will sit at an assigned table. I had the Windstar room, late seating (8:30PM). I found that the 8:30pm time gave me time to take a nice nap after our shore excursions and had enough time to get ready. However, I often found that we ate a little something around 6:00pm on the Lido deck to hold us over until dinner time. We were very lucky to have very nice/funny people at our table. Our table had 10 guests. Most of us were 1st time cruisers. By the time the cruise was over, we were taking lots of group pictures, exchanging e-mails to send each other our group pictures. I felt like our table was one of the most talkative/friendly tables. On a couple of nights, the dining staff got together and sang songs and danced as well, it was fun time. There were also lots of anniversaries, honeymooners, birthdays, and other special occasions that were being celebrated with special cakes that they brought out with candles lit and songs to match. The midnight gala buffet was also better than described in earlier reviews. They presented the food beautifully and also had a nice ice carving. Service: I cannot say enough how great the Carnival staff were. Our head waiter/assistant waiter were fabulous. The really took care of us at the dinner table. They were very friendly. My cabin steward was also fabulous. It seemed that everytime we left our room and came back, it was cleaned, bed was made, new towels, trash thrown away, and we were left nice little chocolates on our pillows, and even had funny towel animals made. Tatyana, our cabin steward, was very friendly/talkative. She made it a point to make herself available should we need anything. Service on the lido-deck was also exceptional. They were quick to clean off tables once guests finished their meals. Bar staff were always walking around to see if you would like anything to drink (alcohol, soda, water all cost extra of course unless you purchase a soda card for sodas only). You basically do not have to lift a finger during this cruise. I did not have the experience of the Carnival crew being rude or felt pressured into giving tips as described in earlier reviews. The 24 hour complimentary room service was also good. They do not have hot foods available, but their assortment of sandwiches, salads, desserts will definitely satisfy your hunger between meal times or a late night snack. The food arrived withing 5-15 minutes and obviously it is nice to tip the person bringing you your food. Also, you can also order a continental breakfast (fruits, pastries, toast, cereals, juice/coffee) before you go to bed and hang it on your door outside. You pick what you want, approximate time you want it delivered, and they will deliver it to you the following morning. It was nice to wake up to some coffee and pastry. Ship: Okay, so this ship isn’t brand spanking new, but you knew that it went into service in 1991. Yeah, the décor is outdated, lots of neon, colorful carpets, and what basically looks like you’re in a very old Vegas casino…. But who cares?! You’re on a cruise!!! Away from home, work, kids, etc. All you can eat without having to clean anything. I don’t know why lots of people are griping about this, but what are you expecting for $200-400??? I thought the main atrium (6 or 7 decks high) was nice in a soothing blue neon. Other than that, I didn’t mind the décor too much. One thing that I did notice was the crew members constantly cleaning and maintaining the ship all day long. They were constantly cleaning windows, outside decks, etc. If you’re expecting some ultra-luxurious furnishings made of the finest imported wood, then you’re gonna be extremely disappointed. However, I went in with a good attitude, and was happy that everything worked fine… even the elevators were operational, though slow at times during peak times when lots of people were heading to meals/shows, etc. Besides, you should use the elevators for some form of exercise at the very least. Overall, I thought the ship was well-maintained for its age and the crew worked hard to keep it that way. Other areas of the ship: They have a nice full casino, enough bars/clubs, piano lounge. The Lido deck where they have the pool/Jacuzzi was a nice to place to get some sun. There are plenty of beach chairs and tables around. I did not notice heavy smoke filled areas outside and if there was, I simply moved to a smoke-free area. There is also a basketball rim, shuffleboard area, 3 ping-pong tables, the central pool is a little small, but it does have a water slide that operates at certain times. There are 2-3 jacuzzis that are open till midnight. Activities/Shows: The evening shows were not dazzling, but acceptable. There are a couple Vegas-type productions that are ok, and a couple of comedians that are worth going to see. There also plenty of activities occurring throughout the day including bingo, various contests, hairy chest contest, newlywed game, Survivor game, karaoke contest, free throw contest, ping pong contest, and numerous others I can’t remember right now. Basically, you will have plenty to do and choose from. If you want to pack your day with activities/shows, you can. If you just wanna relax, you can just lie out in the sun and let the day go by. Also, although I do not have kids, I was told that Carnival has an EXCELLENT KIDS PROGRAM called Camp Carnival. Seems like the kids were well taken care of (meaning the adults could enjoy their cruise). Shore excursions: Catalina Island was beautiful. You have to take a little ship from the Ecstacy to get to the island. The line to get onto the little “tender” took about 15-30 minutes, and the ride over to the island was about 5-10 minutes. You can book shore excursions on your first night prior to arriving in Catalina/Ensenada. However, it is well-known that you can usually make your own excursion for much, much less than what Carnival charges you. We did not sign up for any of the Catalina island excursions. We basically walked around the town and shopped a little bit. We also rented a golf-cart ($30/hour for a 4-seater) and they give you a map which basically takes one hour to complete. This was definitely worth it… you get spectacular views from the top of the Catalina hills.. and its fun to drive around. If you can get together 4 or 6 people, you can split the cost and its very inexpensive. Once you get on the pier, you will find places that offer Kayak rentals, semi-submersible tours, glass –bottom boat tours, Inside tours, etc. Basically, you can find all the tours and activities on or near the pier for much cheaper than Carnival. Also, if you do go snorkeling, you do NOT need to sign up with Carnival. The Lover’s cove is not that far away, and if you bring your own mask/snorkel, you can rent the wet suit/fins there for a few dollars. I also knew a couple that went parasailing and they had a great time. You have to get back to the ship by 4:30PM, and the last tender leaves the pier for the Ecstasy at 4:15PM. Overall, we had a lovely day on Catalina Island shopping, walking around, having snacks/drinks, playing miniature golf, driving around in the golf cart. Ensenada is basically a slightly cleaner version of Tijuana. Ecstacy docks right at the pier, so you do not have to take a tender. You also have much longer time to spend the day, you have to back on board by 9:30PM. Although we were told that you could also find much better deals for tours off the ship, we decided to play it safe and just book the La Bufadora (blow-hole) Adventure tour through Carnival ($29/person). Our bus tour guide was really funny and informative. We first went to the Civic Center and had a nice little tour and photo taking. We then went for a 30-40 minute drive along the coast to La Bufadora. Once you get off, you have to walk down a road to the cliff and the road is lined with lots of stores selling all kinds of merchandise. People will come up to you to try to sell you things and offer free samples of churros, but don’t get intimidated. Also, little kids may also come up to you trying to sell you Chiclets gum or other stuff, but you can simply say no thank you or you can help them out if you’d like to. The blow hole itself was cool to see. The water basically funnels into a narrow space and you hear a loud rumbling as the water can shoot up into the air 50-100 feet… It’s quite a sight and nice to take pictures there as the ocean view/cliff is beautiful. You only have about 1 ½ hour to look around before getting back on the bus. You then are taken back to the main shopping area of Ensenada (a few blocks away from the Ecstasy, maybe 10-15 minute walk) to go shopping. There are lots of stores here selling the same stuff as in La Bufadora. Whatever price they offer you, I basically asked for half, and usually got it. We walked around, and felt safe. We also stopped by Papas and Beer and had a good time. There are a few popular bars here where you can stop by to relax and have very large margaritas. Other people went on the horseback riding tour and said it was wonderful. People/Dress: For the most part, the passengers were friendly and everybody got along just fine. There were families, couples, singles, kids, etc. I think everyone is just happy to be on a cruise and people were helping each other out. As for dress, do NOT stress out about this. I basically wore shorts/t-shirt/polo shirt/flip-flops during the day, and some nicer pants/khakis with a dress shirt/collared shirt, or sweater during the evening. As for the one FORMAL NIGHT you have during dinner in the formal dining room, I wore a suit/tie… but saw other people wear more casual attire. Basically, don’t wear shorts/t-shirts in the formal dining room. Tips/Gratuities: Carnival automatically charges you $10/day per guest for gratuities. This tip covers your cabin steward and dining staff. Tipping your room service is recommended. You can adjust your tips at the end of your cruise upward/downward based on the level of service you received. You can also tip the Maitre’d at your discretion the final night as well. Debarkation: see below. We basically got off with little problem since we only had carry-on luggage and could leave with the second group called “Self-Assist”. The first group off is the early airline flights group. Otherwise, you have wait for your color to be called according to where your cabin is located. Obviously, the lower deck you are, the later you will depart. If you’re in no rush, you can have breakfast in the formal dining, and just lay out on the deck and enjoy your last minutes on-board. For us, it was a pretty smooth process, but took a little longer than expected. It wasn’t a huge nightmare though. Some travel tips/advice: I brought 6 bottles of water in my luggage and 4 bottles of soda (since I did not purchase a soda card) and found this to be more than adequate. You can keep your bottles cold in your ice bucket. Although I am not a drinker, I knew several people who brought alcohol on board as well. Pack as light as you can. If you can manage to bring just carry-on luggage, you do not have to check in any baggage, and you can simply proceed to check in. Also during debarkation, you can be one of the first to leave with the “Self-Assist” group during 7:45-8:00AM (although we ended finally getting off and through customs by 9:45AM) and not have to wait for your color to be called because you do not have to pick up your luggage in the baggage claim area. We ordered room service to pack a few sandwiches for our shore excursions. Bring some ziplock bags to store your sandwiches and other goodies. For example, if your meal time is at 8:00PM, you can arrive around 8:05 PM and not have to wait in a long line. Go to the shows a little earlier, about 15-20 minutes early to grab good seats. We sat on the second level and always had nice views. Pace yourselves… you don’t have to DO EVERYTHING… pick and choose what you like.. and be sure to have time to just relax and not DO ANYTHING. There are plenty of photo opportunities on board that Carnival sponsors, and these pics are expensive. An 8x10 costs $20, and you can only get reprints/wallet sizes from the 8x10s. The 5x7, and 4x6 are $7-9 if I remember correctly. If you want to really save money, buy only the ones you like, and bring your own digital camera and take pictures of the pictures you don’t want!!! Doesn’t come out that great, but hey, you didn’t want these pictures anyways. I was told that in the early morning… around 7 to 8AM, you can see hundreds of dolphins swimming and jumping alongside the ship while it is sailing. I did not see this personally, but thought you would like to see this if you can have an ocean view, or make it out on the deck/veranda. Summary: I thought this was a wonderful cruise for the price. We paid a total of $425 for the cruise for the both of us, plus an additional $80 in gratuities. We do not drink alcohol, so our tab was zero. I thought the ship was in decent shape given its age, and by far, the service on board was EXCEPTIONAL. Crew were very friendly and not aggressive about getting tips. The food in the formal dining room was really good, and the buffet food was ok. The cabin was in good condition and the room was clean. The hallways were pretty clean and did not have foul smelling odors anywhere lingering in the ship… except maybe in the elevator if someone should pass some gas. Catalina Island is much nicer to explore than Ensenada. Plenty of activities and acceptable shows and good comedians on board. Always something to do if you want. Great casino! Bars/clubs were popular. So what are you waiting for????!!!!! I would definitely cruise with Carnival again and would recommend this cruise to you and don’t be misled too much with some negative reviews. I think these people basically are really picky and expect a luxurious experience, and would not be completely satisfied no matter what. So if you have an open mind and are intent on making the best of things, you will have a great time. Hope you enjoy the cruise and find your experience as wonderful as mine.

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Apr 19, 2004

Mexican Riviera

I made a mistake! I made a mistake! My mistake created a very unhappy wife and when my wife is unhappy, I am unhappy. My mistake was not Carnival. My mistake was not the particular cruise – April 19, 2004, Ecstasy cruise to Mexico. My mistake was not the service, the food or any particular amenity. Rather, my mistake was to not use a professional Travel Agent and instead deal directly with Carnival. My mistake was Gordon Stephenson.

Mr. Stephenson was my “Carnival Personal Vacation Planner”. Now, you may ask why one person could be my mistake. Very simply, he either lied to me or he was grossly misinformed. Despite some strong trepidation, I will get to that, I trusted him. My, at that time, happy wife and I needed to be in Los Angeles. Since we were going to be there anyway, we thought a short cruise would be a nice break. The itinerary for this particular cruise was not exciting but it was an opportunity to simply get away and rest. We love cruising. We prefer a suite with a balcony. A suite gives us a fair amount of room. The balcony gives us a place to stretch out, relax and merely watch the world go by. I did a fair amount of research on the various cruises departing from the Los Angeles area and found the Ecstasy was one that fit our schedule, had 2 different levels of balcony rooms and seemed to best fit our needs. The Ecstasy had another benefit to us. In the September timeframe we intend to take a repositioning cruise from the West Coast to the East Coast. The Ecstasy is going to offer this particular cruise and it was a good opportunity to check it out. I looked at travel agents in this website and also visited the Carnival website. Visiting the Carnival website brought me Mr. Stephenson. He did his job well. He contacted me with almost overwhelming frequency. That’s fine, he was doing his job and had I told him to quit calling I am sure he would have. So, why is my unhappy wife making me unhappy? My wife is unhappy because cost is not a major issue. We want what we want. We want a large room with a balcony. That was explained to Mr. Stephenson. I was fully prepared to book a Category 12 Suite. Mr. Stephenson pushed a Category 11 for a variety of reasons including spectacular views and greater privacy than a Category 12 would offer. I trusted him and accepted his recommendation. We started to book the cruise. He assigned me cabin V27. I told him I did not think so. He asked why. I told him I had found comments on the Internet that cabins V23, V25, V27, V34, V38 and V42 had obscured views. I also did not want cabins V1, V2, V3 and V4 because people on deck could look straight into the cabin. He said none of that was true. He said there was no way Carnival would offer a high-priced cabin with an obscured view. He said only “cheap” cabins had obscured views. I told Mr. Stephenson I was still concerned and if there was any possibility the cabin view was going to be obscured I want a Category 12. He asked me to trust him and I did. The Internet travel agents recommend against this cabin but, after all, Mr. Stephenson is Carnival and who should know this ship better. April 19th brought a beautiful day in Los Angeles. The weather was perfect. April 19th brought any excellent breakfast on the Queen Mary. April 19th brought an excellent boarding process. April 19th brought cabin V27 with a lifeboat and a “Zodiac-type” boat hanging outside the railing of the cabin. Now, in my mind that is an obscured view. My wife was not happy but decided she was not going to allow this to mess up her vacation. After all, the balcony was still there and she could take a glass of wine out there and read. That was not to be. On two separate days she tried that and on those two separate days happy merry workers deciding it was timely to work on the “Zodiac” joined her. That may be Mr. Stephenson’s concept of spectacular views and greater privacy but it was not hers. Spending a few more dollars would have given us what we wanted and, I stress, I was fully capable and prepared to spend those few dollars. Following Mr. Stephenson’s advice gave us essentially the same thing as an Ocean View Stateroom and that would have been a lot less money. My wife did not get what she wanted, she is unhappy. She is unhappy so I am unhappy. Compounding my displeasure was a lack of interest on the part of Carnival. Two letters to Carnival’s Corporate Offices brought no response. We still intend to take a Trans-Canal cruise in September. We may opt to cruise with Carnival but that is somewhat problematic. We are not being particularly fair to the Ecstasy or to Carnival as a carrier. We are affected by the less than pleasant experience we had on this last cruise. It was not the ship. It was not the service. It was my fault. I trusted Carnival – I trusted Mr. Stephenson. But, then, Carnival has also shown their apathy. That will not happen again. Perception is reality. Perception says Mr. Stephenson is Carnival. Perception says Carnival cheated me. Perception says that Carnival does not care. Perception says my wife is unhappy. Reality says I am unhappy.

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Mar 29, 2004

Mexico

My family just got back from the carnival Ecstasy cruise this afternoon...i read tons of reviews on here and it sounded like alot of people didnt like the ship very much..ok people needa chill out and stop freaken out over the little things...alot of people were sayen that the carpets sucked...well fer one they wernt that bad at all..of course your gonna have a few stains on them...but they took care of that...about three days ago they

had workers puttin in all new carpets in the hall ways...so those r nice n new now...then everyone kept saying that the rooms smelled..our room didn't...there were people constantly cleaning the ship...they evan had people repainting the outside of it..and all of the lifeboats were being repainted...about the drunk people..hey its a party boat what do you expect? ...altho no worries if you r bringing little kids on the ship...the drunks were all in the bar and clubs...basically the only time they were out in front of everyone was when they were gettin in the elavator to go bak to there rooms..and that was mostli at night like 11 pm...we didnt go to any of the big fancy dinners..the pizzaria was hella good and theres plenti of other great food u can get on the ship without having to dress up ...the late night shows were pretty good...the show they have on the last night..with all the dancers was pretty borein..fer me at least cuz the same lady kept comin bak out singin n i got sick of her..n mexico there were TONS of beggers...the people there would follow me around and wouldnt leave until they found someone else to bug..but everythings really cheap there so its all good..and everyones gotta get there hair braded ...only 20 bucks in Mexcio..I got mine done and like 20 people on the ship said that they wish they had gotten theres done but didnt bother gettin off the ship...so make sure u get your hair done haha...umm the pool was freezing..but everyone seemed to have fun on the slide...evan the adults...salt water inthe pool haha...hot tubs were nice..they have a few of them like one fer kids and a couple for adults...all the drinks r like 8 bucks..the ones that they pass around..they will just come up to u and basically hand it to u no matter wut age..they gave me one sum drink with diff junk in it..guess they didnt care i wasnt old enough to drink...but yea...they have tons of secerity peoples around so there were tons of teens just walking around in a group...almost every kid had at least one friend they had brought..i went with out any friends so i was a loner most the time...they have the teen room spirels but i didnt go in at first..i finally went in like the second to last night and met like 6 peoles in a half hour...ANY KID OR TEEN should go in there...makes the trip hella more fun..they have diff things in there like dance partys and u can just sit around and talk if you want..they give u soda and pizza chips n all that good stuff..have a few couchs and tables and adults in there too...disco ball colored lights strobe lights..its really fun...i heard alot of people talking about how they were sea sick...no one in my room felt the ship moving on the first couple days..but the last two were really bad..it was rocking back n forth like u couldnt evan stand up without moving...they have sickness pills in onea the giftshops..they work soo good..one night i couldnt evan hang out with friends i had met cuz i couldnt stand up i thought i was gonna pass out..but after i took the pills i felt fine..uhh thats about it ...have fun everyone..its a GREAT ship..bring LOTS of cameras 2..cya

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By Tim_CR

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Mar 19, 2004

Mexico

I'm a 50 year-old who enjoyed our first cruise last year, with Holland-America and decided to go along with our daughter's youth group on their weekend trip on the Ecstasy. My wife and I weren't surprised by the youth of the passengers or thier enthusiasm. The ship was clean and well maintained. Our cabin steward was unobtrusive and kept our room in great shape. The towel animals were a delight. The outside cabin was big enough and

quieter than we'd expected. There were two stage shows with the "Dream" themed show being a terrific surprise. It was the highlight of the cruise. The Lido buffet was well stocked and offered a wide variety. There were some disappointments: Our dinner seating was next to three tables of very loud (not such a problem) and obscene (a big problem) middle aged women who were so raucus and inconsiderate we couldn't hear conversation at our own table. We were moved on the third night, when we asked. The blame lies more with the passengers than with Carnival. Too many of the passengers seemed to have no regard for their fellow passengers. Loud, obscene language, public drunkenness and pushing were common. The cruise line seemed to hope the guests would dress for dinner. T-shirts, jeans and flip-flops (as well as backward baseball hats) were far more numerous than neckties. I suppose I should have known. My advice for people who were raised before the 60s or who have a strong emphasis on good manners and polite conversation is to bring friends, insist on a quiet table, leave the dark suit at home, bring your best t-shirt, newest jeans and brace yourself.

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Feb 6, 2004

Baja, Mexico

The cruise was great. I know we stayed in a suite but the whole experience was wonderful. If anyone is busy and needs a quick get away this is perfect!!!! Carnival has really read the reviews and taken them to heart. We took an 11:00 a.m. flight, took the carnival shuttle and were aboard ship by 1:30. We did get to bypass the lines because of our suite. We toured the ship and the buffet. Our luggage arrived and by 4:00 we were unpacked

and sitting on the balcony. We changed our dinner to early sitting as we booked two weeks before the sailing date so received late seating. It was not a problem at all. The food was wonderful and there was plenty of it we ordered more than one entree so we could have prime rib and lobster and they acted like it happened all the time and was no problem. One of the couples even ordered two or three from each course. It was no problem and the wait staff just smiled and gladly filled the order. We were put in a booth with 2 other couples so it was a bit crowded. I put in my ship review that I would highly suggest 2 couples in the booth instead of three. After the first night one of the couples never returned. I promise we had all showered and minded our manners, but it was topic of conversation as to whether we had done or said something wrong?!? The entertainment was very advanced and my highest rating goes to the set designers wow is all I can say. There are poles in the theater so you had to really hunt to get a good seat. I don't know how you would fix this problem unless you installed clear poles or raised the seats up. We took the wine tour in Mexico which was very nice, but the highlight of the tour was really walking down town after the tour. We asked the local bus drive for a good place for tacos and beer and he told us to eat at a place called "Tacos and Beer" go figure. The food was great and since I don't drink beer the margaritas were perfect. My husband's joke when we got home was you had to order two beers one to clean the table the other to drink. No it was very clean but it really got to his sister-in-law. We will go back when we do this again. We spent some time in the casino and much prefer this to spending a weekend in Laughlin. The day at sea is the best we shopped a little in the morning and spent the rest of the day sitting on the balcony with drinks and books in hand. I highly recommend this trip. We have decided when we need a weekend away we will do this little cruise. Total bill for air, cruise, tours, drinks, gambling, one bottle of wine from the downtown winery that does not sell in the states, 5 cartons of cigarettes, and t-shirts for 5 grandchildren came to less than 2000.00. Packing was a dream as we only had to take one suitcase. What can I say we are hooked. Cruising is the only way to go. Getting off the ship was even easier as we again had VIP tags.

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Jan 12, 2004

Baja Mexico

First off I would like to say that so many people on these boards complain about the "dirtiness" of this and this was not so on our trip. There was never any mess anywhere and people were working at all times keeping this older ship top notch. Second people complain about all the smoking on this ship. Well we went on this ship to smoke and figured since they now have their non smoking boat it would be a huge party. Wrong! All my literature

said this was a smoking boat but upon sailing you are minded constantly that you may ONLY smoke in your room or in the outside/slash pool areas:(( Infect the literature Carnival provides says smoking is allowed in everywhere except the dining halls and children's areas. WRONG! The embarkation process was a breeze and we were on very quickly. The boat was older yes, but still very pretty. the service in the dining rooms was A+ so we very rarely ate in the buffet style cafeteria as it tasted well, like a cafeteria. Also the food was incredible in the dining rooms as was the entertaining waiters. I love the dancing waiters:) The first night, the comedian is NOT to be missed as he was absolutely hilarious!!! The cruise director Dana was a sorry Jerry Lewis impersonator. Thankfully he had eye surgery and didn't see him that often. He was very scripted but I must say he was very good with impulsive comedic situations. His side kick Darcy was pretty quick herself. First stop Catalina. We rented golf carts ad drove around the island. A very nice place to spend the day. Just gorgeous. Next day Ensenada. I expected it to be a lush resort as you always hear about it. NOT! Might as well be in Tijuana and the prices are better in the garment district of LA. Infect a purse I wanted in my home town was CHEAPER than in Ensenada:( We were traveling with 4 small young children and did not want to take them into Mexico. our youth staff assured us it was safe and we did venture in the morning hours with them. Personally I was too worried about holding hands with the kids and counting kids to relax as it is truly a nasty place. We very soon took them back to the boat to swim at the water slide as the boat was much more fun and safer than Mexico. I did get hit to corn row my kids hair to which I have done in Jamaica and my first thought was who knows what diseases they could get. After returning that night everyone had the corn rows and I was kind of bummed we didn't do it until I heard a lady talking that in the middle of her head the health dept pulled up and they (the lady doing her hair) took her stuff and took off running WHILE in the middle of the ladies head:( So I guess it all turned out well:) We spent the remaining part of the day at the water slide and it was really nice as most people were in Mexico..You basically the had the place to yourself that day. IN the afternoon, we took the horse back riding tour overlooking the coastline. While it was ok, it was expensive and the will not let you use your camera as they sell you a picture at the end. Kind of a bummer to pay 160.00 and then have to pay 10.oo more for a picture. They also just go in a set path and there is not room for stopping to look at the beautiful coastline. You are constantly being told to hurry up. The show that night I believe was their Vegas type show. Didn't do anything for us...We much preferred the comedians, jugglers, and volunteer type shows. Those shows were absolutely hilarious. Bingo was always a good way to lose a lot of money fast. But hey they do give away 1000.00 and a cruise. Got to try! My gosh don't miss the cruise activities such as the hairy chest contest. Although I had to stop eating because well, it was nasty, it was so funny! The ice sculpture as great as was the galley tour. Absolutely amazing to see how they handle so much food. Our room steward was not like previous trips where you never see them and think they are elves. He was always outside the door and I think the whole trip with 6 beds we only saw 2 or 3 towel animals:( This is a HUGE thing if you are traveling with kids! We would walk past rooms with these things on all the beds and the kids were disgusted to see only one in our room , half of the nights of the trip. Also watch your bill as they have a sneaky way of adding things you didn't use! We did get that resolved. Buy your liquor the first night as the deals are the best then. And very cheap. The only thing is they wont allow you to drink it on the ship as that is where they make their money. You get your booze the night before you leave. Cost us like 80.00 for coke cards. ouch! But if you ought them one at a time it would be even more. I was kind of bummed to know that my 12 yr old son could check himself in and out or Camp Carnival, thus resulting in us dropping him off and he checking himself out:( We couldn't get rid of him. The other kids went to the Juniors group. And well, they really didn't like it as it was daycare of mostly nothing. They were not impressed. We have done this with toddlers though that knew no better and they loved it. As for disembarking , they really have this down. It was as easy as anything on the ship. AS a family of six we went of course because this is basically one the cheapest ships in our area and I have to say it is definitely the most bang for your dollar. Next time we will do the new ship, doing the 7 day Mexico fro LA, although ,we may just not get off the ship. All in all awesome, ship, crew, food, and entertainment! We will do it again next year!

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By Neil_CR

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Jan 9, 2004

3-day Cruise (Ensenada)

This was our 9th cruise, 5th with Carnival. Just my wife and I, no kids this time. As a Christmas present to each other we decided on a weekend cruise instead of buying gifts, and after a two year absence from Carnival, we decided to go with them again. In the interim period we have been a number of times with Royal Caribbean and Princess so inevitably there are going to be comparisons made. Let's be honest, every cruise line and every

ship has their pros and cons. Before we get into the details, be assured that we had great fun and certainly had a most enjoyable time. Embarkation As most of you already know, Carnival now have their own place at Long Beach next to the Queen Mary. Unfortunately, it's still a bit disorganized there and although we didn't have to wait too long to get onboard, there were plenty of long lines. Since we only booked on Christmas eve, we took a guaranteed outside room on the Riviera deck and upon arrival at Long beach were upgraded to the same category of room on the forward Empress deck. Our room was easy to find with the gangway leading straight on to the Empress Deck. The Ship We dumped our carry-on stuff and started to explore the ship. It appeared to be identical to the Elation we had sailed on before but with a totally different décor. While the interior design of the Elation is certainly garish, it was still relatively easy on the eye, but I found most areas of this ship to be quite stark, and distinctly dated. The Panorama Bar & Grill lighting and décor was frightful with lighting that made me look like a Blue Man from the Las Vegas show of that name. It reminded me of a 50's Diner with the blue neon lighting and turquoise plastic seats! The blue theme did seem to permeate somewhat throughout the ship. Built in 1991, the ship is starting to show some signs of wear although it was clean. The main theater exhibits the same problem as the Elation with lots of view obstructing columns. There are plenty of bars, some with entertainment, and a lively Casino. Entertainment We managed to view all the shows in the Blue Sapphire Theater and were very impressed with all the guest artists and the dancers. The late-night comedians were very funny with lots of audience participation, some of it by design and some of it not. We even went to see the talent show. I usually hate watching these uncomfortably embarrassing shows but this one was so expertly produced that it was very entertaining. They combined Karaoke singers with a mock American Idol competition including judges, one of them being deliberately and hysterically obnoxious! Food and Drink Carnival's drinks are expensive. We bought a can of Bud and a can of Bud light that came to $7.49! From that point on we survived on our own private stock. (Don't ask - there are plenty of chat rooms on the Internet about that subject). Carnival's food is excellent and surpasses the quality of found on many so-called higher class cruise lines. Carnival even serve lobster on a 3 day cruise. I had the lobster followed by the softest prime rib I have tasted in a long time! Service The service staff on this cruise all did their job professionally and efficiently. There could have been a little more effort to go the extra mile and be a little friendlier but I cannot fault the service except for the bar staff who could be a bit surly and terse at times (Maybe selling over-priced drinks sticks in their throats as well). Atmosphere This is probably the only area that I felt was completely wrong. Could be I'm old fashioned but honestly, there really were a lot of scruffy and sometimes obnoxious individuals on board. On formal night I'm sure there were only about 3 men on board with tuxedos. People were turning up for the formal night dinner dressed in jeans and t-shirts. Although nobody got completely out of hand, there was a general rowdiness complete with the perennial drunken morons who shout and heckle during the shows. The Saturday night comedian did an excellent put-down of one of those pathetic individuals. Despite that we did meet some really nice people and made some new friends. Conclusion There is so much to like about Carnival's ships and they certainly live up to the reputation of being fun ships but sorry Carnival, we're going back to Royal Caribbean only because you allow a complete lack of decorum on the 3-day cruises. I'm not suggesting you aspire to be like some of the other cruise lines that can be quite snobbish at times, but at least try harder to get your passengers a better sense of appropriate attire - it does make a difference to the overall experience. I am not alone in this assessment. I know of a few first time cruisers who were quite excited about going on this cruise expecting a certain degree of elegance only to be disappointed because of the general demeanor of the passengers.

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Dec 29, 2003

Baja Mexico

My wife and I were able to take a four day cruise over the New Year holiday on the Carnival Ecstasy. Here is my review of the cruise. Embarkation/Debarkation We were booked in a category 11 cabin which allowed us to use the Skipper’s Club. The Skipper’s Club program is an exclusive service with special registration and boarding privileges. We were able to bypass the main lines and board very quickly. The debarkation process

went very quickly except that we were unable to use the elevator to get to the exit level. We had our son in a stroller and had to make a couple trips to get all our luggage and the stroller down the stairs. Rating 8/10 Ship The Ecstasy is an older ship first sailing in 1991. The ship has held up well for her age. Especially considering there was a fire on this ship in 1998. The main problem with this ship is the layout of the public areas. There is not a good way to get from the front to the back of the ship. Navigating the decks of this ship is very frustrating. Ranting 9/15 Cabins My wife and I were booked in a category 11 verandah cabin. There was plenty of room in the cabin even though the layout wasn’t the most convenient. The floor plan needs to be rearranged to make better use of the available space. The balcony was small with barely enough room for 2 chairs. I was able to look at a category 12 balcony cabin and found it to be wonderful. If I would ever travel on this class of ship again I would only stay in a category 12. It had a huge room with a separate sitting area and a large balcony. There was plenty of storage area for luggage and you still had a lot of room to move around. Rating 12/15 Service In general the service on the cruise was very good. Our cabin steward took care of all our requests promptly and kept our cabin immaculate. However, the restaurant service left a bit to be desired. The pacing of the meals never seemed quite right. In fact at dinner one day I never received my salad. I also stopped in one store aboard the ship and was greeted by a sarcastic cashier. I never though I would see such attitude from a cruise ship worker. Rating 9/15 Food and Drink In the main restaurant, breakfast and lunch were just average and the dinners were below average. For dinner on the last night they served some sort of processed turkey. It was not good. The ship’s buffets were good, but offered a limited selection. The bartenders did a good job with the variety of drinks I ordered and the prices weren’t that expensive. Rating 8/15 Ports The transfer to the cruise port from LAX was about a half hour by bus. We boarded the ship at Long Beach Cruise Port. Our ship was right next to the original Queen Mary which is now a hotel. I thought it was a fairly nice port to board a ship and offered a nice view of the city at night while we sailed out. Our first stop was at Catalina Island. Catalina has been a favorite destination of yachtmen since the turn of the century. It was a nice place to go for a stroll through town. There was plenty of action at the stores and sidewalk cafés to keep your interest and beautiful scenery to please your eyes. Our last port was Ensenada, Mexico. If you ever go on a cruise and stop at Ensenada, please do yourself a favor and book a shore excursion. We went to town ourselves to look around. We did not feel safe with our 10 month old son with us, but it might have been ok if it was just the two of us. Rating 8/15 Miscellaneous. We used the Carnival transfer service from the airport to the ship. These workers need a little bit of customer service training. They weren’t the friendliest of people and the service was rather slow. On New Year’s Eve we turned in early because our son was very tired (so were we). We were awoken in our cabin by an announcement and countdown to midnight. Most of the announcements during the cruise were only played in the hallways of the ship. This one was broadcast right into our room. Rating 6/15 While we needed this vacation, it was not the greatest of cruises. This probably has more to do with the fact it was a short cruise over the holidays. Once again our final ratings. Embarkation/debarkation - 8/10 Ship 9/15 Cabin – 12/15 Service - 9/15 Food & Drink - 8/15 Ports - 8/15 Miscellaneous - 6/15 Overall 60/100

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Aug 25, 2003

Catalina Island and Ensenada, Mexico

We took the 4 day Baja Mexico cruise on the Ecstasy in late August. It was my first “real” cruise and my boyfriends second. Overall I was extremely pleased with our experience. We had a wonderful time. We are both in our late twenties and travel often. I believe that you make your own fun and the type of experience you have is up to you.

We checked in without any problems. We arrived around 3:30 so maybe this is why the lines were not long at all. Either way it only took us about 15 or 20 minutes to get from the bus to the ship. We found our room without any problems and our bags starting arriving probably about an hour after we did. Our room steward introduced himself right away. After the lifeboat drill was over we returned to our room (Riviera deck) and unpacked. Our room was very clean however there were stains on the rug in the hallway. I don’t know if this was the case on the other passenger decks or not. The rest of the ship seemed very clean. It had what I would call a Vegas look to it. Bright colors, neon lights. Definitely fun looking and not at all quiet or boring. I never did smell any cigarette smoke unless we were in the Casino where people were smoking. I never did feel the ship moving while we were in our room however I did feel it while we were seated in the dining room. The only thing I did not like about the room was that you had to push two twin beds together to make a queen. I loved the fact that there were extra pillows in the closet!!! Oh and a couple of times at night (after midnight) we heard one person running down the hallway for unknown reasons. It was a little annoying but it was not constant and I fell right back to sleep. Our experience in the dining room was wonderful! We actually ate there all 4 nights, which we had not planned on doing but the food was just so good and our table partners were such good company that we just had to keep going back. Our waiter and waitress were more than happy to bring us a second entrée or appetizer. Anything we asked for we received quickly. They were extremely friendly and would always ask us how our day went and what we did that day. When we would see them other places on the ship they would always ask if we were enjoying ourselves. The informal dining in the Panorama grill was also very good. We ate breakfast there most mornings and lunch there if we had the chance. We loved grabbing a drink from the Panorama bar and taking it right outside to the deck on the very back of the ship. It was pretty quiet here and there was always a nice view. It was very relaxing after a day of shopping! In Catalina we took the Inside Adventure tour which was basically a bus ride up through the hills of Catalina to the small airport they have there. We saw lots of buffalo and our tour guide was very informative. The road was very bumpy and there were lots of tight turns so this is not the tour for you if you get car sick. The views of the ocean were amazing! After our tour we just wandered around the stores and did a little shopping (prices were high) and picture taking before heading back to the boat. Overall I thought Catalina Island was very pretty and I would enjoy spending another day there sometime. In Ensenada we went to La Bufadora. Now keep in mind that this is a blowhole, it is not one of the seven wonders of the world or a “must see” attraction. But, it was pretty and we watched it for maybe 10 minutes. If you enjoy looking at the ocean you should enjoy it. We even saw a dolphin swimming not far from shore while we were there. What I actually enjoyed most was the flea market shopping we did before getting back on the bus. Got some great things and had fun bargaining for the best price. If you do not like flea markets I would not recommend visiting La Bufadora. After our tour was over the tour guide (who was also very informative) was nice enough to drop us off in town rather than back at the ship. Here we did more shopping in some of the stores and we visited Papas and Beer (fun and loud!) and Hussongs. We had a couple of beers, bought some T-shirts and then slowly wandered back to the ship. Ensenada was much cleaner than I had pictured it. I guess I was thinking it would be close to Tiajuana but I was wrong. My boyfriend said it had been cleaned up a bit since he had last been there. We only had 2 children ask us for money which surprised me. While back on the ship we watched a beautiful sunset and then enjoyed looking at the lights of the city. Our “fun day at sea” was exactly that! We laid out on one of the back decks all day long. I read a book while sipping a few tropical drinks and we watched the free throw contest they had later in the afternoon. We saw a large pod of dolphins swimming too! Very relaxing and enjoyable. Nothing like lying in the sun watching the ocean go by. Getting off the ship was done by color groups and ours was one of the last groups called. We were lucky that Jerome the comic put on a quick show for us while we were waiting which made the time go by faster. I would definitely recommend this cruise to anyone who is young at heart and wants to have a good time. See all the shows you can and do as many onboard activities as you can manage. One of my favorite things was the Captains cocktail/reception party which I didn’t really want to go to but ended up really enjoying once we got there. Take lots of pictures, you don’t have to buy any of them but they are fun to look at! The cruise director was very funny. Every staff member we encountered was friendly. Don’t go to your room right after dinner, walk around, see whats going on. There is always music to listen to somewhere or a show to see. If you do not have a good time on this ship it is because you do not want to. The service was wonderful from start to finish. Every time I think back on our cruise I just smile. We had a wonderful time and came back with lots of great memories. I can’t wait to cruise again and Carnival will definitely be my cruise line of choice.

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Aug 8, 2003

Baja Mexico, Ensenada 3-day

First thing I would like to say is me and my wife read many reviews before taking this cruise. This being our first cruise and a gift for our wedding we were new to this experience. The reviews where mixed that we read and for the most part very positive but with several reviews nit picking things that we now believe are not at all deserving of the Carnival cruise lines. We found everything to be very people pleasing in every way shape

and form. The embarkation and debarkation was organized and effortless and didn't take much time at all. Our stateroom was meticulously kept clean and tidy by our steward, at least twice a day and sometimes more, and the towel animals that the steward made was entertaining and enjoyable to find on our bed when turning in for the night, along with the bed turned down, and a mint on our pillows. The stateroom was a bit small for me personally being of a large stature myself 6' 7" but for the price was well worth the money, since you won't spend much time in there other then sleeping anyway. The food in the dining rooms was exquisite and well prepared and service was top notch. The buffets and snacks including room service which was available 24 hours a day was also impeccable. The crew, from the officers down to the waiters and stewards were so polite and friendly and helpful during the whole cruise. In Ensenada we walked to the downtown shopping and bars because it was so close to the ships docking. We did not take any of the tours so we can't make any conclusions about those. Some reviews said that the casino's slots did not pay off at all, we found that not to be true, me and my wife won about $500.00 the first night alone, and had a great time doing so. To sum up our experience it was the best time we have had on a vacation to date and highly recommend it for couples as well as families, we intend to take our kids next time. (which will be soon)

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Jul 5, 2003

Long Beach - Catalina - Ensenada - Long Beach

Ok, our first cruise. My wife and I planned this for about 3 months. We were excited about the cruise and wanted to go to a more exotic place for our first cruise but since money and time were a factor, we readily decided to go to Ensenada. The Ship Built in 1991, the Ecstasy used to cruise out of Miami but was moved to Long Beach. It shows its wear. Even though the ship is impeccably clean, it is decorated in sort of a "Miami

Vice" deco that has since gone out of style. The Room An upper level, window stateroom in the center-aft of the ship. Very nice, good size and in a nice part of the ship. The Service Jelena was our Stewardess and did not disappoint. Our room was made up every time we entered it; activities were left on our bed and she was there when we needed information. Very reliable. The Food. Good. Whether its the formal dining area (we ate in the WindSong Dining Room), or the Panorama Grill (by the pool), the food is good and always satisfied. Our waiter, I Newmon, was a little hard to understand and stuck by the rules pretty diligently, but was good. Activities and things to Do. The Ecstasy is an older ship and, as such, smaller than the new giant sized cruise ships but there are things to do for all ages. We were afraid that we would have nothing to do or be caught in the middle between "teen" things and then "senior" things. Fortunately, we weren't disappointed. There's a casino which is pretty friendly in terms of winning (I won $68 bucks), a dance club, Stripes, for people between 18 - 35 (hip hop, R & B, Rap, Old School music), and adult comedy shows. General Experience Favorable. Next time we're going to get a balcony but we enjoyed every minute of our cruise. There wasn't allot of noise or movement in our cabin due to engines or seas; the port calls to Catalina and Ensenada were very nice. Try snorkeling in Lovers Cove in Catalina ($25 bucks per person). The Blowhole Tour (La Bufadora) was also nice although we expected a little more. We skipped dinner and went to Hussongs Cantina (a must!) for dinner.....tacos and beers, (cruise ship people tell you to go to Papas and Beer but we decided against that cuz we wanted to do our own thing). We ran back to the ship that night to get back on the ship. All in all, I would recommend it. We will do it again, if the same ship if we have to but with a balcony. For first time cruisers, start with a window cuz you're rarely in your stateroom with all the excitement of touring the ship and eating.

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Jun 23, 2003

Catalina and Ensenada

To start I must say that I had an excellent time and it was worth every penny. This was my second cruise, my first cruise was on the now defunct Premier Cruise Lines Big Red Boat to the Bahamas in 2000. Although the line is gone and the ship is who knows where, it is a great cruise to compare with this one as the cost of the cruises is comparable (Premier was

actually cheaper). Embarkation When we first showed up outside the terminal there were lots of porters and lots of people but no Carnival employees to tell you what to do. Do you check in? Do you just give your bags to the Porters? Are these porters for the Carnival ship? We asked around and figured out that if you have your Carnival on your bags then the Porters will see that it gets to your room. The rest took about an hour, The new Long Beach terminal is very nice. The Boat. I was impressed with the Ecstacy. It was big, clean and seemed to have everything you would need or want on a ship. The stateroom and hall colors seem very outdated even for 1991 when the ship was built. Our room was larger then the Premier ship I was on in 2000. The two twin beds were pushed together but you could hardly tell. The boat had lots of Deck chairs deck space. I really have no complaints about the ship itself, it was great. The ports of Call Catalina Island This was our best day. Do what we did and rent a Golf Cart! For a few bucks you can rent a cart and drive around the island and go up to the top of the hill and look out at the ocean, the ship and the town. They will provide you with maps. We also went snorkeling at Lovers Cove and it was way better than I expected! Carnival will charge you $30 for this excursion but don’t pay for it! The cove is a five minute walk (you walk with the carnival excursion anyway) and you can rent snorkel stuff there for about $10 We used our own snorkels that we purchased at Wal-Mart before we left home. That being said, I guess the Carnival excursion may not be a bad thing if you would like more guidance in the water. The fish were great, the water was great and even the weeds were cool. We spend the rest of the day on the beach and had a great time. Although the island is not far from LA, you feel like you are far, far, away. Ensenada We had a good time. We went shopping and walked around, that’s about it. It took us about 10 minutes to walk to the shopping area, we were glad we did as it was a chance to walk around in a city that makes you appreciate where you live. That’s about it for Ensenada, there isn’t much to do but it is a neat stop. Entertainment I liked it all except for the “Las Vegas Show”. I was glad when it was over and my wife fell asleep in the middle of it. All the other shows and comedians were pretty good. The in-room TV’s have few channels and one or two movies playing continuously. No big deal but how hard is it to get a dish and a few more channels? Food Well, it was OK. I loved the dining room food, the Pizza and Burgers were good but not wonderful. My biggest complaint is the midnight buffets. Just not as impressive as my last cruise. On one night we got their at 12:30 and they had already shut it down!! It started at 11:30 and they closed it exactly one hour later even though there were still lots of people wanting to eat (especially me!) You will eat well on this cruise. When I got home and got on the scale I realized that I had set a new personal record. I would give the food a 7.5 out of 10. Disembarkation This does not have to be a stupid boring process but carnival makes it so. They kick you out of bed at 7 so you stand around for 3 hours with nothing to do. There is breakfast, but while you are waiting for you “color” to be called there is literally nothing at all to do but sit around. For crying out loud, how hard is it to throw the comedian on stage, or to have music by the pool (which is empty ant this time) or to have a another free throw competition or something. You can’t even lay on your bed, or watch TV. You must do nothing at this time. Once our color was called it was a piece of cake. My overall view My wife and I had the time of our life and I would do it again in a second! There are a few things that need to be improved but nothing that will have much impact on how much fun you have. Go and have fun! I am happy to answer any questions you may have so send me an e-mail if you wish.

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Apr 14, 2003

Baja, Mexico

First, I would like to thank all who posted reviews prior to our trip most were truly helpful. WARNING! If you want to have a Good time I would like to recommend Carnival’s Ecstasy. We being first time cruisers decided to take a short trip, we consists of my Wife 40, My daughter 16, her best friend 15, and I, 41. In a large nut shell. The service on the ship was as excellent !! The rooms were not as bad as the horror stories

you have already read. Do pack an air freshener you may not need it, but it came in handy. Food’s not bad, the main dining room was a bit formal for the kids liking. and the menu changed every night. One thing to remember ( the staff on board are mostly non-American, Including the chefs, so if your looking for Mom’s fried chicken or a backyard burger, your not going to get it in the main dining rooms, unless Mom is from someplace in Eastern Europe) I liked the variety. The anytime eatery was pretty good too, buffet style there is were you’ll find the back Yard burgers, Very good. Always something to do, Pool, Drinking ( We Don’t, But there’s plenty), we spent a lot of tome in the card room, nice and quite. Kareoke for all, comedians good on sailing days. On shore : Catalina, Snorkeling 35.00 per. Great Time Glass Bottom Boat 24.00 pre Great Time Site seeing Ensenada, Horseback Riding 40.00 per awesome La Bufadora get it off the boat its cheaper, bring a camera ! Town was a lot of fun We had a great time, The Crew and fellow cruisers were very friendly Take the kids, take a break, have a good time.

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Apr 4, 2003

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 up others. 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.

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Feb 3, 2003

Baja Mexico

My experience with Carnival cruise lines was exceptional. I went with 8 other people and we couldn't stop eating or having fun the whole time. Even thought the carpet and some of the wall color was completely tacky, the service and the activities were amazing and so much fun. We ate in the Wind Star Dinning room and had the best Servers. There names were Pina and Jose. I would defiantly cruise with Carnival again but with a different

ship just to see the differences. one more thing...the entertainment was absolutely incredible!!!

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Jan 20, 2003

Baja Mexico

To be fair, I am a person who has never seen a glass of water that wasn’t ½ full. I knew that if I wanted to have a good time, I would have a good time. So our cruise on the Ecstasy met all our expectations. INTRODUCTION My wife and are both over 60, but young at heart. We had never been on a cruise, but had heard good things. We selected the Ecstasy cruise because it allowed us to also visit children on the West Coast for the price

of one airfare. PRE-CRUISE. My daughter drove us to the pier on Monday, so connections from the airport were not an issue. However, I did use their bus on the return trip and was pleased with their service. Carnival had two older ladies meeting the passengers with inbound flights and they were very thorough in getting the folks to the ship on time. EMBARKATION We arrived at the San Pedro pier about 11am and were met with a relatively short line for getting our bags handled by the porters. Tip them $1 or $2 a bag, it is worth it. We had to get our cabin assignment there and that took place quickly. After a short wait in line, we proceeded up to the level where they check documents and give you your Ship and Sail card. Our wait in line was maybe 30 minutes and we met so fellow passengers and time passed quickly. Once at the desk the process went quickly and we moved up one more level where they did the security check. They were through but polite. Then we went outside to wait in line while they took the pictures for the ship and sail card. Your picture then comes up every time your card is inserted in the reader to verify it is you. Very impressive! The wait in line allowed us to get our first view of our ship and it was great. They are really huge when viewed in the context of a port. Once on board there was staff to direct you to the right elevator and give you a map of the ship. I think we were on board by about 2:00 or 2:30. Our bags were not at our cabin yet, so off to the Panorama Grill for a good buffet. Then we went to the 3:00 Welcome Aboard talk, which was informative about shore tours and general information. Then we headed to our cabin and our bags were already there. We unpacked and read the daily newspaper “Carnival Capers” which was extremely well done and helpful. LIFEBOAT DRILL This was well done and most professional. Our muster station was the show lounge. We were required to actually put on the life preservers, which was a great idea because they fasten different than the much smaller ones one wears when boating around in a powerboat. Then we were escorted to the actual lifeboat that we would use if there were a ship evacuation. Rehearsing the actual steps and location was a great idea. OUR CABIN We had a guaranteed cabin assignment of Riviera deck outside stateroom, so we were pleasantly surprised when we had been upgraded to the main deck, one level above. Our cabin was M64 and was located just off the elevator lobby and in the forward part of the ship. Our room steward was Ricardo from the Philippines and he did a great job. We had towel animals 3 out of 4 nights and he always seemed to be working hard. Not only did he turn down the bed and fold up the clothes I left laying around, but also he even folded the first sheet of toilet paper to a point. The room was more than adequate for two people as far as storage space and drawer space. The TV worked OK, but did not spend much time in the room. We were happy that we got an outside stateroom, it not only helps you with orientation and balance, and it was enjoyable to see sunrises and sunsets and arrivals and departures from port. The only thing different on our next cruise will be getting an outside balcony so we can have a morning cup of coffee in style. THE SHIP The ship looked great for a 10 year old cruise ship. It was easy to find your way around with the handy pocket maps and many “you are here” signs all around the ship. The layout made it possible for you to explore easily and see all the different ways for a passenger to pass the day. We dined in the Wind Star Dining room, but more good news about that later. The 5-story atrium was gorgeous and unexpected on a ship. The Lido deck had the Panorama bar and grills and was a great place for desserts, breakfast lunch or even a late snack. True to its name, it offered a panoramic view of the ocean. The wait staff was always pleasant. The snack bar out by the pools offered some great burgers and franks and even a small part of the buffet. Even though it was an open deck, the wind was blocked with large windows, which allowed you to be outside without being cold. SERVICES Again kudos to the ship and crew. The purser’s office and shore tours were easy to find and always had the answers. The Internet café was fun, and for $24.00 I got an hour of satellite Internet time which was just enough to check my e-mails each day and send a couple myself. Even though they had some transmission problems the first night, Erika, who was the Internet hostess took care of it promptly and was most apologetic. She was one of many great members of the Carnival staff. We also enjoyed our daily trip to the photo gallery and even though we did not buy all the pictures enjoyed seeing yourself. I would definitely suggest getting the picture from formal night and the special album with a night picture of the ship. Also the picture of your table partners on formal night. The library had a limited supply of books, but was a great place to read. The gift shops were loaded with souvenirs and also some needed items, like toiletries and camera batteries. Prices were perhaps a little high, but if you wanted a reminder of your cruise or a gift not a bad place to check. FOOD Once again we were truly lucky. Got two great sets of table partners, the Wong’s from Vancouver BC and the Griffiths from Fresno. We ate most of our dinners together and then would go off and have our separate adventures the next day and tell each other about the fun. Our headwaiter was John from India and speaking as a person who moonlights occasionally as a server, he was great. The table was always gorgeous, with different napkin folds each night. His team waiter was Iwan from Indonesia and he was also very professional and seemed to enjoy his job. The maitre’d was Heinz from Switzerland and not only did he have command of his dining room, but knew how to make each night an event. He also came by our table almost every night and made the cruise a memorable one. They have open seating for breakfast and here again Carnival makes sure you have fun. Rather than letting you sit alone, you sit at a table with 4 or 6 other guests. Although you did not know them at the start of breakfast, by the end of the meal you have gained some new friends. All of the meals were good and also presented very artistically. Don’t be afraid to order two entrees or two side dishes. The portions are small, so you won’t get gain two much weight. Lunch we normally had on the Lido deck so have no real information to share. Suffice it to say that unless you are a snobby elitist, the food was good, service was great and the ambiance fantastic. The gala midnight buffet was another special occasion. Bring your camera and take picture of the food and ice carvings. Each night the waiters would sing or dance for us or with us and both my wife and I “shook a leg”. One the final night, they gave us a small poster depicting the ship and we had our table partners and wait staff autograph it. PORTS OF CALL Catalina This small island off the coast of California has lots to see. The ship actually goes north or south during the night and then harbors in the morning, as Catalina is only 26 miles off the coast. When we awoke in the morning, we were at anchor about a mile off shore. What a view! We did not have a scheduled tour here, but would do one if we taker this cruise again. It gives you a better chance to cover some remote areas of this interesting island. We did however rent a golf cart and take a self-guided 1 hr tour of the surrounding hills ($30.00) This was fun and saved us some walking. When the ship harbors, you reach shore by using tenders, which are boats that hold 40 folks. This means waiting in line, but at the most it was 45 minutes. As you get on the tender on level 3, you realize just how huge the ship is. The return trip to the ship was quicker, as everyone is not returning at the same time. Ensenada This was another fun stop. This time the ship docked at port, so there was easy access on and off. Carnival’s photo ID method really helps ease security concerns and also keeps good track of passengers. At this stop we took the city and shopping tour. It covered the old convention center and a downtown winery. Plenty of free margaritas and dos equis beer at the convention center. Also free wine at the downtown winery. If we do this again we will take the wine and country tour so we can see more of the countryside. The bus parked downtown so we could go shopping and have a place to leave our packages. Ensenada’s tourist shopping area is a cleaner version of Tiajuana’s tourist shopping area. We made the obligatory stop at Pappa’s and Beers and were happy we did. The bus took us right back to the ship. ENTERTAINMENT Starting with the 1st day and almost non-stop, there was always something to do. Our cruise director was Matt Ross and he definitely liked his job. He was genuinely friendly to cruise guests and made you feel at home. The shows although not as good as Las Vegas shows that you pay $50 or $100 for were still very high energy and the entertainers were very professional. There were three comedians, Jerome, Lowell Sanders and Steve Carte. They were all funny and worked hard to find out what worked with each audience. Jerome’s late night adult show was no raunchier than an HBO special, and funny. All the other shows like Shipboard survivor, Newlywed Game, etc. were amusing and again brought much laughter. CASINO Although not the size of a casino on shore, there were certainly adequate slots and table games and the casino staff was knowledgeable. Did not spend much time in casino. DEBARKATION Simple math answers this question. 200 passengers divided by 6 customs checkpoints equals a 2-hour wait. However, once again Carnival managed to make this a fun experience. The regular dining rooms were open, so we got a full and filling breakfast. Our bags had been picked up the night before about 11pm, so we just had our carry ons. Our waiting area was the City Lights show lounge. We arrived there about 8:30 am and were able to find a comfortable seat with a good view of the harbor. To our surprise, Jerome, one of the 3 comedians, came out on stage and gave us a 2 hr impromptu show that had us laughing and helped pass the time. Even though our bag tag color was the last one called, the wait was less than expected and really quite pleasant. Once our tag color was called, there was one more line for customs. It moved along steadily and soon we were at the customs desk. These folks were polite and quite professional. Then we went to a room identified by our tag color and easily found our bags and off to the airport bus, (a bargain) Even though the driver (not a Carnival employee) somehow managed to forget to load my wife’s large bag, 2 of the nice Carnival ladies at LAX who were meeting arriving flights were able to track down the bag and it was delivered to us at the airport in plenty of time, Then Southwest managed to misdirect both of our bags on our return trip to KC, but they found them and delivered them to our home the next day, saving me from having to carry them. CONCLUSION Carnival is committed to making your cruise a “fun experience”, although not necessarily a “perfect” experience. But then again, life is not always perfect! We were so pleased that we have already booked a seven-day cruise on the Carnival Pride going to Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta and Mazaltan in January 2004. Well-done Carnival!

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Aug 1, 2002

Baja Mexico

On August 1, 2003, we, a family of 4 members, had our first cruise experience. My wife, two daughters, 4 years and 8 years and myself enjoyed this trip very much. And here are some tips we would like to share with all of you, and wish these tips can help you make your trip better. Before I list all the tips, let me give you some background about my trip first. I weight at 195 pound with 6 feet high, and my weight at 100 pound with 5.3

feet. And we (2 adults and 2 kids) choose an interior room (no ocean view) at Riviera deck (lowest deck) due to limited budget. OK! Now let’s share our fist cruise experience with you. Choose Room: For family has limit on their budget, like us – Interior room at Riviera desk is OK. I do not see the significant difference from lowest deck (Riviera) to 3 or 4 decks above. The room size, facilities, design and comfort are almost same. It is probably not worth to pay hundreds dollars more for just buy the feeling of “we are not on the bottom.” (I am referring to the regular room, not suite or special luxury room here). Furthermore, for this 3-night trip, we also DO NOT see the ocean view room is a must since most of our time were not in the room, an appox. 180 sq feet. The time we stayed in a room mainly was for sleep, and it was the time we do not want to see the light from window. Especially, for people who prefer waking up late and do not like sunshine, the interior room even will be the better choice since the room can keep 100% dark. Just away from choosing the rooms that are located near by stairs or elevators since people and elevators are making noises. Tips: (1) Lowest deck, Riviera deck is OK to choose for limited budget. (2) Interior room is OK to choose for limited budget. (3) Away from shooing the room near by stairs or elevators. (Elevator and People make noise.) Kids Camp: I have two daughters, one is at 4 years old and the other is 8 years old. Ecstasy really has an excellent kids program. It offers different programs for different ages almost all day long (FREE of any charge from 8 am to 10 pm). We sent our kids to the Kids Camp for most of time, and they just loved it. Kids with Kids Camp and my wife and I can have free time. We enjoyed our formal dinners, watched the shows and enjoyed the sunshine on the deck, all without worrying about kids. Kids had great time. My wife and I had great time. All of us had great time. Thanks for the Kids Camp. Tip: (1) Do not give up to take the advantage of this free Kids Camp. Dining: Cruise offers many different foods at different locations. All tastes are above average. Specially mentioned, the dinner at formal dining places, either Wing Star or Wing Song you will be assigned in advance is EXCELLENT. Once you seat in, the waiter will pass you the dinner menu. The dinner menu shows sections of Starter, Salad and Soup, Main Course and Desert. They are many different items under each section. You can choose Every items under each section. (You are not restricted to choose only one item under each section as many other restaurants do) It is all included in your paid-fair. It is ok to miss your breakfast and lunch at formal dining area, but definitely not dinner if you really enjoy eating. However, Wasting is not recommended. Besides, 2nd night in the ship, you will have formal dining dinner night (as known as “captain night”), formal dress code is recommended. But suite and tie are not a must. I would say it more like casual formal event. Just no short and sandal. For family with limited budget, you do not need to prepare the extra formal suit for this night. Regular/ casual shirt, tie, long pant and shoes will be ok. At the last night in the formal dining room, it is your decision to give extra tips to the waiter and waitress. (We saw some people did, and we did as well even though the tips are included automatically in your daily billing statement in your room.) Note: You need to make sure which dinning location has been signed to you (it shows on your boarding card). Do not go to the wrong one (either WingStar or WingSong). If you get the wrong one, you will spend extra time to the other since one is located at the head and the other is located at the tail. Other tips: (1) First day for check-in, we arrived at 2:30 pm and did not get our turn until almost at 4:00 pm (long-line to wait). In average, it will take about 2 hours to wait in the line for check-in. Therefore, we would highly recommend people to be check-in place early. Why? First, you do not need to wait too long especially for family with kids. Second, you can get-in the ship early to study the ship and find out where is where and what programs or activities you want to attend. Third, the ship’s buffet area (ocean view) is ready starting 12:30 pm. You can start to enjoy your lunch and ocean view. (2) Avoid using the large luggage. Instead, use mid-size luggage. Why? Even though the regular cabin is well designed for two adults and two kids, the space is limited. Mid-size luggage will be much easier to store and give you more space. (By the way, when first day you arrive in parking facility of Carnival in Long Beach, you will drop your entire luggage at parking facility to Carnival Staff, then you go to check-in station across to the parking facility. Carnival Staff will delivery your luggage directly from parking facility to your cabin. You do not need to bring your luggage to check-in station. For people who has cabin is called “TBA” (to be announce) or “Guaranteed inside/ocean view cabin, you can go see the Carnival Staff in Parking structure and they will help you to find out which cabin you have been assigned to. (Basically your cabin has been assigned before you check in your luggage) (3) On the 2nd day, visiting Ensenada, you need proper adjust your energy (especially the family with kids because (i) you might spend the day time to join local tour and visit Ensenada, then you will have very nice formal dinner, then you might enjoy the show after the dinner, then you might want to see the midnight buffet. Now you can see what I mean. All these mentioned activities are all in one day. (4) On the 2nd day, for the family with kids, if you send your kids to Camp and visit Ensenada in the afternoon without kids (We did that), please make sure that “do not” wait until the last minute to come back to the ship to pick up the kids from Camp (for that day, you need to pick up your kids by 4:00 pm). It was long line to wait (about 30 to 40 minutes) to check in back to ship. Please give yourself enough time to wait in the line to check in back to ship and pick up your kids on time. (5) On the 2nd day, some people might choose to join local tour with local tour agency in order to save some money instead of buying the local tour with Carnival in advance. I personally do not recommend for those people who want to save money by doing that since (i) the saving amount is very minute, (ii) Safety issue, (iii) Quality issue and (iv) what if you can not come to the ship on time. You will have no place to file complains. You need to think twice to make this decision. (6) Last day, Monday Morning, the ship arrives Long Beach at 8:00am. Do not plan to back to work at 9:00am. You will be checked out deck by deck and you will not know which deck go first and which deck go last. (we were lucky and we were the first deck to be checked out. It only spent about 20 minutes. Not because you choose more expensive cabin, you will have the privilege to be checked out earlier.) If luck is not on your side, it will take as long as 2 hours to your turn. These are all we can think of that might help some families to make their first cruise experiences better. All mentioned sharing are based on our first cruise experience on 8/1/2003. We wish you and your families will enjoy your trip.

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May 10, 2002

Baja Mexico

My husband and I took this cruise for our one-year wedding anniversary, and though we had a fairly good time this is not a trip I would repeat or recommend to most people. If you are like us, and accustomed to nice hotels and good restaurants, you will be disappointed by this cruise. However, many people on the ship seemed to have a wonderful time, so I guess it just depends on what you’re used to and what you enjoy. EMBARKATION Embarkation

at the L.A. port was painless. We felt a bit like cattle as we were lined up and moved around, but the process was fast and we were on the ship in no time. MOVEMENT/NOISE We could feel the rocking of the ship more than expected but I rather liked it, especially at night while lying in bed. It felt like being gently rocked to sleep. My husband didn’t like it as much, but after leaving the ship, my husband felt fine while I had vertigo for 5 whole days! As for noise, we were both bothered by the constant humming from the machinery, which you can really notice at night in your cabin. It’s about the same as the noise on an airplane. CABIN I highly recommend getting a room with a window--the sunlight and view improved upon the tiny space. The room is quite small but very efficiently designed. I actually didn’t mind the small size, though it bothered my husband. The bathroom is also very small and pretty difficult to use comfortably. Our first night, we couldn’t find our porter to push our beds together so we did it ourselves, though it was kind of weird sleeping in separately made-up beds side by side. The sheets were stiff and almost paper-like in quality. The next day, however, the porter did make up our beds with much softer king-size sheets, which was a big improvement. AMBIANCE We found the décor of this ship to be tacky and bright, but everything was quite clean and not at all shabby. The main social areas of the ship reminded us of a mid-tier Vegas hotel/casino…perhaps Bally’s or the Flamingo. We liked sitting at the City Lights bar for a drink, and we had a good time every night in the casino (winning a little money in blackjack always improves your mood). One unexpected thing was having to pay for drinks while gambling. You’d think you could get a free Diet Coke while plunking down $10 a hand on blackjack! The most attractive room on the ship is the library, which is nicely decorated and has a decent variety of books you can borrow. SHOPPING I was disappointed with the shopping on board. They only sell a few dreadful Carnival logo items, some cheesy jewelry and a lot of duty-free Costco-size bottles of liquor and cartons of cigarettes. I considered taking up smoking just to take advantage of the bargain. There is also a very limited supply of sundries, books and magazines. The shopping was improved in Ensenada, but more on that soon. FOOD After hearing so many people rave about the food on cruises, we hoped to be impressed. Unfortunately this was not the case. The food was okay but nothing special. The dining room definitely provides the best food and experience, so we were baffled by all the people lining up for the “alternate dining” buffet as the food always looked pretty bad (like what you’d see at a Hometown Buffet maybe). We really enjoyed the level of service in the dining room, and we were lucky enough to be seated with two other couples that were fun to talk to. The choices on the menu were interesting and ambitious, but the quality never went above what you might find at an average wedding reception. If I had to compare the food to restaurants, I might pick Sizzler or Olive Garden to give you an idea of quality. We did try the pizza one night and it was not as good as Pizza Hut or Sbarro’s, but better than frozen pizza. We ordered the Continental breakfast delivered to our room one morning, and that was about the quality you’d get from a free breakfast at a Holiday Inn. Ordering in the Dining Room: The portions are quite small compared to restaurants, so don’t be shy about ordering a lot of food. For dinner I would order soup, salad, entrée and two desserts, and I am not a big eater. The men often ordered two entrees and several side dishes. I did enjoy the desserts, though they never rose above the level of cafeteria desserts. Dining Room Tip: Show up for meals 10-15 minutes after your seating time begins. If your seating time is 8 p.m. and you show up right at 8, you will be faced with a mob of anxious people who think if they don’t get into the dining room immediately, the kitchen will run out of food. You’ll also have to endure the dining room staff shouting instructions at the angry mob. It is decidedly inelegant! After our first night, we consistently arrived at 8:15 pm, were able to order immediately, and had a much nicer experience. Paying for Drinks: They charge for all alcoholic drinks, fruit smoothies and soft drinks (including club soda). My husband bought an unlimited soda card for $15. What’s weird is the inconsistency in service on sodas. At one place they would give him a large glass full of soda, but at another they would only give him a tiny glass. Sometimes they gave him the whole 20-oz. bottle, sometimes they refused. Sometimes they let me get a soda as well, sometimes they charged us for it. There doesn’t seem to be a consistent policy on this. ENSENADA This cruise stopped at only one port, Ensenada. It is nicer than Tijuana and we enjoyed our time there. The tours you can purchase through Carnival don’t seem to be a good deal. We paid $2 each to take a shuttle downtown, though you can walk it in about 10-15 minutes if you prefer. From there, we paid $13 each to take a tour to the blowhole and the flea market. It takes about 30 minutes to get there, but the blowhole was definitely worth seeing and more impressive than expected. You get a beautiful view of the coastline here and some nice photo opportunities. The flea market is pretty trashy, complete with annoying vendors and begging children. I bought a silver toe ring for $9 and my husband bought a couple of Cuban cigars, but soon regretted it. The tour included a buffet lunch that was basically inedible. They took us to the top floor of a restaurant, lined us up and offered us potato salad, macaroni salad, rice and one fish taco apiece. We decided to find lunch elsewhere and started exploring downtown on our own. Downtown offers some pretty nice restaurants and shopping. We poked our heads into Papas and Beer, but it was too loud for us. Instead we ended up at Puebla, which had delicious beef and mushroom fajitas. The shopping downtown was MUCH better than the flea market. My husband found Cuban cigars stored in very nice humidors and selling at lower prices than the flea market. I bought a cool handmade card for a friend. BEAUTY SALON I had a manicure in the ship’s salon, which was a mixed experience. The atmosphere was peaceful and pleasant. There was a woman near me having an aromatherapy head and shoulder massage that looked heavenly. My manicure was a little strange—it cost $36 (plus tip) and took over an hour, but the end result wasn’t that great. They do push the products quite a bit, but they stopped pestering me when I gave them a firm “no.” FORMAL NIGHT Most people dressed up for the formal night, and my husband and I felt just right in our outfits (he wore a suit and tie and I wore a long, sleeveless, navy blue dress). The captain’s cocktail party wasn’t worth attending They hold it in the theatre, so people were sitting in rows of chairs sipping cocktails and watching the few brave people who decided to get up on the stage and dance. It didn’t seem fun at all, so we left quickly. After that, we ate dinner in the dining room, the highlight of which was baked Alaska at the end of the meal. After dinner we spent the rest of the evening in the casino. PHOTOS The ship photographers will take your picture many, many times, especially in the evenings. They set up backdrops of the ocean, the ship, glorious staircases, etc for you to pose in front of. They’re very cheesy. We posed for quite a few and I wanted to buy some for my photo album and to mail to people. But then we discovered that they make you buy the 8x10 for $22 before they let you buy the 5x7s or wallet sizes. This made me a little mad so I didn’t buy any, which I kind of regret now. Though it IS a huge rip-off. ENTERTAINMENT We only attended one show: the “Mambo” show. It was pretty ambitious, with a lot of different acts and many costume changes. The quality of the talent wasn’t outstanding, but we enjoyed it. THE BEST PART OF THE WHOLE WEEKEND Our favorite thing by far was the time we spent lying out on the deck during the long day at sea. We had no trouble finding lounge chairs, and we really enjoyed lying in the sun, listening to the live band and taking advantage of the drink service. DEBARKATION First of all, you do NOT have to attend the debarkation talk. There will be a flyer delivered to your cabin that tells you everything you need to know. Debarkation on Monday morning was the worst part of the trip. They told us that they would start calling groups at 7 a.m. for immigration checks, so we made sure to be up and dressed by then. The immigration checks went on for hours, and after we ate breakfast in the dining room, there was nothing to do but sit around and wait. Having a good book at this time is crucial. We didn’t leave the ship until 1 p.m., so it was a really long, boring morning. TO SUM IT UP We were able to take this cruise for nearly free by using travel points from our Visa. But if we had paid full price, I would have been even more disappointed. I would not take this cruise again or recommend it to most people. If you haven’t traveled much, or if you are young and taking the trip with a bunch of friends, you’ll probably have more fun than we did. But I would really recommend a weekend at a nice hotel in Vegas, San Diego or Santa Barbara instead. I would consider trying another cruise someday, but only if it’s a week long and on a nicer cruise line.

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Apr 1, 2002

4 night from LA to Mexico

This was our first cruise, for our honeymoon. We took the Carnival shuttle from the airport. While efficient, the driver swore at several occasions on the ride to the ship, which did not give us a great first impression. Embarkation went smoothly and our luggage was delivered within a couple hours of arriving on the ship. The room: very small and the bedding was sub-par. The sheets didn't quite fit the mattresses (resulting in

the sheets continuously slipping off during the night) and the bedspreads were stained and frayed. Our outside window was large and did offer a nice view, and we were mid-ship on the Riviera deck, close to the elevators aft. The bathroom was clean. The in room TV offered only a couple channels that came in. The same movies were recycled throughout the trip. We ate in the 3 meal casual restaurant on Lido (pool) deck for breakfast. It offered a good buffet of standard items and there was plenty of seating. The busboys were very efficient and it was well-maintained. The tables outside on the back deck of the ship were the best. We ate lunch at the pizzeria on several occasions and the pizza was great. The bar next to it offered a nice view. Speaking of drinks, they are about $5 for most mixed drinks and you will find cocktail servers anxious to serve you. The quality of drinks was very good. If you buy a drink in one of the plastic 'collectors' cups, it'll cost you 6.25 but refills are only $5 -- but you've got to tote the cup around and its only good for the outside bars, not the clubs. Dinner in the dining room was ok. We were seated with 3 other couples and our waiters were efficient. The menu selections the first night were obscure and all of us were disappointed. The selections other nights was better and included lobster, shrimp and sirloin. The appetizers and entrees are small, so order as much as you want. Many people ordered 2 entrees, which the servers delivered without complaint. The desserts were also small and for the most part quite bland. One night we waited a long time to be served (everyone else was eating) and another night the beverage server didn't come for 45 minutes. The staff seemed overwhelmed at times. We ate breakfast in the dining room our last morning, and it was great --in retrospect we wished we'd had breakfast there more often. We didn't take any tours, but did spend the day on Catalina and rented a golf cart. It was fun, and we enjoyed the island although the weather was chilly. 2 hours in a golf cart is plenty to see the whole place and even get out and walk around. Ensenada was DISGUSTING. Dirty and there were beggars everywhere. I don't know why the ship even goes there -- we only spent an hour there and that was more than enough. I'd stay on the boat in retrospect. We got couple's massages in the spa, and the therapists were super. The only aspect I didn't like was that they stayed there while presenting the bill and waited to see the gratuity. I thought this was rude. They also pushed the spa products ($50 for a bottle of bath oil????) which we declined. Although the spa said 'adults only' the jacuzzi was filled with teenagers as was the gym area. At one point a boy walked through the women's locker room. A note on rules: this ship doesn't enforce the rules. All the jacuzzis (there are 5)were filled with kids the entire time, although all were posted with 'over 18 only' signs. We complained to purser and servers but were told 'nothing they could do' about it. The dining room also allowed in men in t-shirts and shorts on all nights, even 'formal' night although the literature clearly stated this wasn't allowed. As late as 2 a.m. there were young teenagers still in the nightclubs, and also at the midnight 'R rated' comedy. There was no escape from kids, suffice to say, which was frustrating to the adults aboard (including the other couples we dined with). The pools are filled w/ seawater and are not heated. The best deck to enjoy quiet time is the 'top optional' deck which was mainly couples, and not all the women were topless. Debarkation was lengthy and annoying. They make you leave your cabin by 9 but didn't even start disembarking until 11, and there was not enough room for all the guests to even sit comfortably in the waiting areas. After the breakfast restaurants closed at 9, there wasn't even a place to have a coffee or soda while waiting. When the debarkation started, it did go quickly, and customs was no problem. In short, we were disappointed w/ the quality of the boat and all the children running wild. The staff was very nice and friendly, though. We would not take another Carnival cruise, but might try a higher-end line at some point.

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Nov 26, 2001

Catalina & Ensenada, Mexico

Just returned from a 4 day cruise out of San Pedro (Los Angeles). We stayed the day prior to the cruise at the Best Western Sunrise Hotel, across the street and down the block from the dock. The Best Western has free parking during your cruise. The parking fee at the dock is $40 for a four day cruise cash in advance. The hotel was nice but nothing fancy. Free shuttle to and from the dock also a continental breakfast is provided without charge.

Embarkation: We arrived at the dock around 11:45 and had a 20 min. wait to check in. Carnival gave you a group boarding number from 1 to 19. They started calling boarding numbers at 12:30 and by 1:15 had called all 19 numbers. People arriving after 1:15 were not given any numbers as they could walk right on board by that time. Ship: The ship was in pretty good shape in all the public areas. The hall-way carpet on the Riviera deck, our deck, was stained in a lot of places. There were pockets of sewer odor here and there around the ship. This odor was also present in our room. By the end of the second day I did not notice any odors, don't know if problem was fixed or I just got use to the smell. We had booked this cruise via allcruiseauction.com and had bid on an inside cabin. We were upgraded to a outside cabin on the lowest deck, Riviera which is on the 4th level. The elevators were never a problem and usually had one within a minute of hitting the call button. One elevator in the forward section was always going into the overload mode even with one person. By the middle of the second day most passengers learned to step out of the elevator until the overload light was out then begin the ride. Our beds were separated and we asked to have them put together. The person we asked said they would tell our room steward. When we checked after dinner they had been turned down but not put together, we did this ourselves. The second day was going to be a day in Catalina Island, but due to high winds they could not tender so we spent the day at sea going around Catalina in the hopes that the next day we could tender. We were in and out of our cabin a few times that day but our room was never made up. I kept looking for the room steward but no luck. We never did see the room steward the entire trip. Never introduced him or her self. I could not tell you anything about this invisible person, other than they did not know where the soap was, never had a new bar past the original that was in the room. The room was turned down every night and made up three out of four days and that is about all. Oh! we did get a towel animal on two nights. Dining We had early seating at 5:45 for dinner and 7:00am for breakfast, never made that one til the last morning. Our waiter was all business, did his job without any chit chat, took the orders and brought the food. The Assistant waiter Lora, from Germany had a little more personality. She would joke and talk while getting the drinks and bread. She did a good job of keeping tea and water full. If you ordered milk it would not arrive until the main course and you were not asked if you wanted a refill. I would say, on this trip, the service was a little above Denny's. I will not comment on the quality of the food as I have the taste of the average 8 year old, would rather have a pb&J sandwich than anything on the main menu. So I could not tell you if the food was good or not. I know from our only morning breakfast that the Lido buffet is the same as the dining room food, so you are better off at the Lido if you like seconds and the food may be a little hotter also. At lunch I could always find a hot dog, hamburger and pizza, this was the best time of day for me :). Room service had ham, turkey and pb&j sandwiches also fruit trays, desserts, milk, hot cocoa, ice tea ( which was instant) and a variety of cookies. The delivery time was less than 10 minutes. Shows: We saw both production shows they were pretty good if you like singing and dancing. There were also two comedians they were both very good. They had two shows each, one family and one adult. Ports: Our first stop, a day late was, Catalina. I had book a tour on line with discovery tours in Catalina for a inland 4 hour tour. on the off chance we did not make it to shore on our scheduled day ,which was what happened I brought my cell phone and was able to call and re book for the next day. We were the first off the ship as we had the 9:00 am tour. There were only six of us on the tender. We finished the tour around 1pm and were going to go back to the ship for lunch then return for some shopping. The line to board the tenders was all the way down the dock across the street and up about one block. It took us over an hour and a half to get to the tender. They had two security men for over 1800 people and they were going through all packages and scanning everyone with a metal detector. They even spent time going through my sisters wallet picture by picture. The ship was held up for over an hour past sailing time while people were still going through the line. You had to get in line two hours before sailing just to make it back to the ship on time. Waste of shore time. This was ridiculous and for this very reason I will never take this itinerary again. They were taking silverware people had purchased on shore, if you wanted a knife just take one at dinner. Again this was really stupid. We were lucky the day was overcast. If the sun had been out, there was no shade along the line, a lot of people would have been in serious trouble. Ensenada: We paid $2 to take a shuttle into town. The sign outside the pier said round trip, but when you were on the bus the told you it would be $1 to return to the ship. It is only about a four block walk into town and we walked back to the ship in less than 10 min. On the bus they were trying to sell tickets to the blow hole and outdoor market for 13.00. We passed on this and walked tow blocks and got a taxi to the blow hole for $8 each min. four people. The taxi will wait an hour while you look around for that same fee. The bus will wait an hour and half. It is about a 30- 40 minute taxi ride. When we got there it was low tide so no big sprays only a small puff. Getting back on the ship took only 3 min. The ship sailed at 6:00 instead of 10pm due to the sea day being first instead of last. Disembarkation: As usual we were the last color called. We had to wait in the show room from 8:45 until after 10. One of the comedians did a show while we were waiting so the time went by fast. Conclusion: If this had been our first cruise it would have probably have been our last especially with the Catalina experience. This being our 7th cruise I know there are lots better out there. The poor cabin service did not make too much difference, still tipped him or her the suggested amount. I will not be taking carnival on this itinerary again. We were on the Paradise two years ago and had a much better cruise, so Carnival is not out of the question but they just went to the bottom of our list with Princess on top.

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Nov 23, 2001

Mexico-Baja

This was our 8th cruise together. We decided to go on this particular cruise just a few weeks ago. We wanted to do something for Thanksgiving, and decided that a cruise the day after would be a good way to enjoy the weekend. We also took my wife’s parents with us for this cruise. This was our third time sailing with Carnival, and our fourth cruise in 2001. This was our first experience on a Fantasy Class ship, as our previous Carnival cruises were

both on the Destiny. I will say up front that we had an enjoyable cruise on the Ecstasy. Pre Cruise We live in San Diego, and had never actually taken a cruise from the West Coast, so we actually enjoyed not flying in a day ahead. We drove to the pier, and parking was abundant. The charge was $10 a day, payable immediately. Embarkation Check-in was very easy. We got to the pier at a little after Noon. My mother-in-law uses a wheelchair, and a Carnival rep. escorted us to special assistance check-in. After giving us our sail and sign cards, we took the elevator up to the boarding level where another Carnival rep. got us our room keys. One more stop to get our photo taken for the sail and sign card, and we were on board. Our one bag we left with the porters made it to our cabin fairly quickly. (We actually planned on carrying it on board our selves, but it was too big for carry on size x-ray machine). Our Cabin We had cabin M-106, a Category 6B outside cabin, right in the middle of the ship. The cabin itself was very functional, and there was plenty of storage space. We are now totally spoiled, and prefer a balcony cabin, but for a three-day cruise we didn’t think that it was worth the money to go for Category 11 or 12. We met our Cabin Stewardess, Erika from Romania right after the lifeboat drill. She put both beds together for us, and did a good job keeping the cabin tidy. We did get one towel animal on the second night of the cruise. At the Captain’s cocktail party on the second night, Erika was also one of the servers, and when she saw us sit down, she ran over immediately to offer us appetizers. I thought she did a very good job overall. The Ship For a 10 year-old ship, the Ecstasy was in pretty good shape. We did not notice any strange smells, the elevators worked for the most part, and the carpets showed only mild wear and tear. If you like neon and flashy colors, the Ecstasy is your ship. The ship’s layout is very easy to navigate. The bottom three passenger decks have staterooms only. The Empress deck has staterooms as well as the photo gallery and the Purser’s desk. Continuing our way upward, the Atlantic deck has the kids play room, both dining rooms, (named Wind Song and Wind Star) as well as the library, card room, shopping area and lower level of the main show lounge, called the Blue Sapphire lounge. The next deck up is the Promenade deck. Here you will find the upper level of the Blue Sapphire lounge, the casino, the Metropolis Bar, the Chinatown club, the Rolls Royce Café, Stripes Dance Club, the Society bar, the Starlight Lounge, and then outside at the aft of the deck is the kids pool. The Lido deck has the main pool and Jacuzzis, the snack bar and then at the aft of the ship is the Panorama Bar and Grill, which is where breakfast and lunch are served as well as an alternate dining spot for dinner. There is also a pizzeria at the aft end of the dining area as well as another bar. The Veranda deck has another pool and Jacuzzi as well as another bar. The Sports deck has the Spa and gym, and finally the Sun deck is where the jogging track is. Service The service that we experienced on this cruise was good. I already mentioned our Cabin Stewardess above. We requested early dining, and when we checked in noticed that our dining was late, at 8:00. (Carnival does not guarantee dining assignments by the way.) We saw the Maitre D’ a few minutes after boarding and requested a change to early seating. He said that the ship was full, but he would see what could be done. We would have to go to the 8:00 seating on the first night. When we retired to our cabin for the evening, there was a card in our room saying that our dining time was changed to 5:45 PM for the rest of the cruise. When we came back from Ensenada, there was another card showing our “final” table assignment, which turned out to be a very nice booth for the four of us. Our dining room waiter ended up being Arnold from the Philippines. He was very personable, and it would have been nice to have him the entire time instead of just two of the three nights. Our Assistant Waiter was Jan from the Czech Republic. He was also very personable, but I thought he had too many tables. It always took him more time than usual to bring us bread and water. A couple of times Arnold ended up doing Jan’s job as well as his own. Overall, we thought that the service was better than our last cruise on the Destiny in January 2000, but could still use some refinement. Food In the main dining room, the food was very good. Carnival has made great strides in their food quality over the last few years. However, the menus didn’t change from our cruise in January. That’s not all bad, as I did get to repeat some of my favorites. I had a very good veal as well as Beef Wellington on this short cruise, while my wife enjoyed the fish. We used the Panorama Grill for a couple of breakfasts and lunches. The food was good there as well as in the pizzeria. When the Panorama Grill was busy, the food was hotter and tastier. When the crowd thinned out, the hot food did not stay hot very long. Overall though, we like Carnival’s food better than both Royal Caribbean and Princess. Your mileage of course may vary. In the main dining room, the food was very good. Carnival has made great strides in their food quality over the last few years. However, the menus didn’t change from our cruise in January. That’s not all bad, as I did get to repeat some of my favorites. I had a very good veal as well as Beef Wellington on this short cruise, while my wife enjoyed the fish. We used the Panorama Grill for a couple of breakfasts and lunches. The food was good there as well as in the pizzeria. When the Panorama Grill was busy, the food was hotter and tastier. When the crowd thinned out, the hot food did not stay hot very long. Overall though, we like Carnival’s food better than both Royal Caribbean and Princess. Your mileage of course may vary. Spa I did have one massage at the Spa. Before the massage started, I told the Steiner masseuse that I was not interested in buying any of their products. That worked well, and I had a very relaxing massage without the hard sell afterward. One negative of the spa however was the overpowering aromatherapy smell. It was so strong, that my wife, who is allergic to most aromatherapy products, started to wheeze after just a few minutes of being around the spa. Needless to say, that made the comment card! Ports of Call This cruise had only one port, Ensenada. We did not go on the cruise for the port, but we still wanted to walk around town. We took the shuttle from the pier ($3 per person round trip) and walked around and did a little shopping in “downtown” Ensenada. There were some excursions offered, and the guide on the shuttle from the pier tried to sell us one of their tours to the “blow hole” (which I heard was not all that exciting) and to the local flea market. We can say that the weather was pleasant, and we did have a nice day. Entertainment The entertainment was very good. We enjoyed one of the lounge acts, “The Curveball Brothers” tremendously. My in-laws liked both of the stage shows, and we also liked both of the comedians we saw. We started out ahead in the casino, but in the end, the house came out the winner. We did hit one bingo game (for the free cruise), but as usual, we did not come away with the grand prize. One art auction was held on Sunday (the sea day), but we did not attend. The on board entertainment is always one of Carnival’s strong points. Debarkation We thought that debarkation was handled fairly well. Since it was a short cruise, we did wheel our own bags off the ship. My in-laws were able to get off first due to the wheel chair, and we left when the first color was called. We got outside to the curb just seconds after they did, got the car, and were on the way home by 9:45 AM. Conclusion We had a nice long weekend, and would like to do this type of cruise again. I am sorry that Royal Caribbean is pulling out of the short cruise market from L.A. because I think the competition is good for Carnival. Overall, the ship was fine, the service good and even the weather cooperated. Would we take Carnival again? Sure. Even though there are some things about the line that annoy us, (the singing waiters, for example), we are usually pleased with their overall product and enjoy their ships.

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Aug 21, 2001

Baja

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. PRE-CRUISE 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. EMBARKATION 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. FIRST IMPRESSION 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. THE CABIN 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 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. ENTERTAINMENT 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. ONBOARD SHOPPING 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. DEBARKATION 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 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

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Apr 13, 2001

Miami to Nassau

Tim Hambelton This was the fourth cruise for my wife and myself. Our other cruises have all been weeklong Caribbean cruises (one Carnival and two on Princess). EMBARKATION: We arrived from the Miami airport after an $18.00 (plus tip) taxi ride. This was much better than herding around behind a Carnival agent and waiting for a bus to fill up before getting on our way. The embarkation was smooth and quick.  Having

all the paperwork already filled out really speeds things along. We were on the ship less than fifteen minutes after arriving at the port. THE SHIP: The Ecstasy seemed well maintained. They were replacing carpet in one of the areas around the elevators on the Lido deck while we were in Nassau. The decor isn't what I would choose, but it wasn't awful either. The public areas are all situated at the top of the ship. The only time you have to go up or down a lot of stairs (we don't use the elevators) is if you go back to your room or leave the ship. The ride was very smooth. This was an Easter cruise and there were hundreds of kids on board (we left ours at home). We certainly noticed them but they weren't any problem - mostly because we weren't responsible for them. ROOM: Our cabin, an outside room on the port side of the Empress deck, was quite large. The room had the same layout as the one we had on the Tropicale about 10 years ago. I guess Carnival has stuck with what works. When we arrived, the beds were configured as two singles. I called our steward and asked that he put them together. In the past, the beds were put together but still had individual sheets, blankets, etc. I stressed to the steward that I would appreciate it if he could find a queen/king set of sheets and blanket. When we arrived back from getting a little lunch and exploring the ship, the beds were put together and made up as I had requested. I searched out our steward and tipped him on the spot on told him thanks. We had good service the entire time. We left the customary tip on the last day. There is plenty of hanging storage and many shelves in the closet. The desk/dresser/vanity has one small drawer and four larger ones. We had excess room for the clothes that we brought. There is a small (about 3x5x4 - HxWxD) safe in the room. The key can be obtained from the cabin steward. Laundry service is available but dry cleaning is not. There are self-serve laundry facilities on the ship. FOOD: We generally don't eat breakfast and lunch in the main dining room. We prefer to eat at a table outside in the sun and fresh air. The buffet food available for breakfast on the Lido deck was about the same each day. There was fresh fruit, beacon, scrambled eggs, sausage, hash browns, pancakes or French toast, yoghurt, cereal, bread, and pastry. There were also made-to-order omelettes that were very good. The omelette station does tend to back things up for everyone else in the buffet line. Carnival should move the omelette cooks to some other area to eliminate the congestion. The buffet food available for lunch on the Lido deck was varied each day. There was fresh fruit, salads, a number of different entrees, bread, and desserts. This food was adequate and tasty but not memorable. Burgers and grilled items were also available near the pool. The kids on board (and many adults too) seemed to enjoy the soft-serve ice cream available on the Lido deck. We saw kids with a cone in hand at breakfast. Pizza is available 24 hours a day. It was very good. Sometimes in the afternoon the pizzeria would fall behind and lines would form, however. In the main dining room we had a booth for six. Our dinner companions were about our same age and we got along fine. There are four dinner seating times on the Ecstasy (5:45, 6:30, 8:00, and 8:45). We had the 8:00 time and didn't feel rushed. There were a few kids in the dining room, but they were well behaved. It seemed that many of the families ate dinner at the buffet on the Lido deck. Overall the food was good but not fantastic. A few dished worth mentioning are the mushroom soup, smoked salmon appetizer, the fresh fish dishes, and the dessert soufflé. They were all great. We had a bottle of wine with each meal. The prices were fair and the selection was very good. Leftover wine was saved for a later meal. SERVICE: Our waiter and his assistant were very good. They were very eager to serve and seemed to enjoy their work. They both spoke English very well. They never batted an eye if someone ordered additional items from the menu. The headwaiter appeared at our table a couple of times each night to check on us or assist with a special dessert. Our assistant waiter did an excellent job at serving the wine. There were no reminders or pleas for generosity on "tip night" the last night. Our waiter even politely refused a tip that someone offered at the beginning of the meal. He chatted with us and answered our questions at the end of the meal when he had time. Carnival still has the wait staff parade through the dining room. They don't, however, carry the flaming baked Alaska on their head since this ship had a laundry-room fire some years ago. This little tradition is one that they could stop and I wouldn't be disappointed. The bar service around the ship was good. We never felt pressured to buy one of the daily-special drinks. Our drinks were delivered promptly, with only one mistake that was happily rectified. ENTERTAINMENT: The steel-drum player by the pool and the Jimmy Buffett-like singer outside the casino were both good. We didn't see the comedian's show but were told that it was very good (but not for kids). We didn't go to the disco, but it was quite smoky - as was the piano bar called Neon. We went to two of the main shows and thought that they were entertaining. They seemed to be on par with other cruise-line shows. DISEMBARKATION: This went smoothly. We were out of our room by 9:00 and waited in one of the lounges for our group to be called a little after 10:00.  It is a rather long, winding path to get out of the ship and through the terminal. OVERALL: We enjoyed this trip and felt the value was good. It was a great way to have a quick get-away from the kids.

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Nov 6, 2000

Bahamas

FOOD DINING ROOM - I guess it would be great to some but it wasn't quite the experience that we envisioned. The food was elegantly presented, and pretty but, my New York steak was cold, the lobster tail was like rubber, and the appetizers were so small that they were merely a taste of a exotic certain food. My wife and I even skipped the last night and ordered room service. BEWARE!!! If you choose to eat dinner anywhere else on the last night with

the exception of the pizzeria, everything else is closed they even close the juice and coffee stations ( I think this is because the dining room staff want you there to get their tips - which you will be reminded of constantly ) CRUISE DIRECTOR - Very well planned, lots to do and kept the boat fun CABIN COMFORT - You cannot tell the difference from a fine hotel. very comfortable a little on the warm side but this is a big boat. The showerhead is a little tricky to master but otherwise a spacious room FOOD ROOM SERVICE - As I said above we ordered in on the last night (as if we had a choice) and It was excellent. nothing fancy just two turkey sandwiches on white bread and coffee but it really hit the spot and it came to our cabin within 15 minutes. REMINDER Room service is FREE (of course a tip to the server $2 if you want ) but well worth it if you are tired and would like a quick bite without getting out of the cabin. FOOD LIDO DECK - These are the buffets. The poolside is great for a fast food lunch and panorama grill usually has a little better selection as well as a great buffet breakfast ( great Hash browns! ) I was even surprised after dinner on the Friday at the main seating to find lobster Newberg w rice. It filled the gaping hole left from the cold steak dinner I tried to eat before. DINING ROOM SERVICE - This is tricky I might have just had a bad waiter but I expected from others who had been on other cruises that the waiters are all over you encouraging you to try things, being at your service. This just wasn't the case here. Our appetizers came out and then they would disappear you never had a chance to say if you liked something or not. Then 20 minutes later they would clear the table never asking you anything about each course, fill your water glass, and bring on the next course. The second night this happened again. I made a comment about how the cream of mushroom soup was great all the waiter said was thanks.? I do not believe that this deserved the "customary" tip. (Now I am not a cheap person but this gets on your nerves because it is so heavily reminded - (as a side note - I gave his tip to the cabin steward)) CABIN QUIETNESS - 100% what do you expect your on a boat I think they do a pretty good job FOOD MIDNIGHT BUFFETS - adequate nothing spectacular usual chicken etc not many choices. CABIN STEWARD - I want to hire him to clean my house!!!! Excellent job. Even made a dog out of towels and placed on bed. Turn down bed every night in a different fashion. Very nice guy (gave him double tip $40) FOOD VARIETY - Buffets were very good but the variety was not what was expected. Main seating had a lot of exotic choices if your into that DECK SERVICE - Good very efficient GOOD FOR FAMILIES - We didn't bring the kids (10th Anniversary) but should have. There were great activities for them and Camp carnival for when Dad and Mom want some relief. We will bring them next time. GOOD FOR SENIORS - No Way - this is the fun ship - ages 21-50 will have the greatest time on this boat. If you want to relax go on Royal Caribbean ENTERTAINMENT - Excellent this boat seems to cramp 7 days of entertainment into 3 Great comedian/ magician (Kevin King) on Sat night NASSAU - Great port MUST SEE-> Straw Market, Atlantis on Paradise Isle., Beach at Paradise Isle, Get ready to bargain they encourage it they all start at $10 for everything and if you keep at it you get it for $5 T-shirts 4 for $10 (haven't tried to wash them yet haha) and if you want a bargain on booze RUM $6 a liter SMIRNOFFS VODKA $6.50 a liter. We had a ball in Nassau. To get to Paradise Isle/Atlantis it costs $4 each person each way but worth the money. If you like to walk it is about 3 miles each way. We took the taxi there and enjoyed the walk back. CASINO - Don't waste your money I love to gamble but these machines are very tight. The machines at the Atlantis Casino are even tighter. Spend the money and TIME on something else. SHIP CLEANLINESS - good but the Ecstasy is a 10 year old ship that sails every day and really is beat - not in a junky way but the ship needs a major renovation. Color schemes and night clubs are right out of the eighties. Carpets in hallways are stained in spots. but it is a very clean ship EMBARK/DISEMBARK - Both were very organized and well staffed. I was really surprised to find how easy getting on and off the boat was. DECK SPACE - 100% This was very very surprising to us. It was so hard to bump into people. For a ship with 2000+ people on it My wife and I always were able to find a spot alone. We never had a problem finding a seat to sit, at a bar, at the nightclubs, shows etc. A FEW RECCOMENDATIONS - If you haven’t cruised before this is a great starter cruise - We will now be cruisers for life! For a very romantic time with your husband or wife on the first night go to the rear of the boat behind the panorama grill, get a couple of cups of coffee or a drink from the bar and watch the moon over the water. The whole night we saw maybe two or three couples there. the wind is also very minimal at the rear of the boat VERY RELAXING!!! after a day of air flights, embarkation and getting settled Try to get up early Sat to see the boat get into port and the sunrise in Nassau. You do not need to get on the Island until 9:30 shops open then Straw market ( Right turn at the end of the pier ) Looks like a flea Market on the sidewalk opens at around 8-9am Ask the taxi driver to take you to the beach at paradise Isle nice clean beach but be prepared for big waves and salty water. If you have kids it is a great beach but we did see a topless bather and thongs are pretty much in at the beaches here. Taxis gather to take you back to the boat later. There is also a water ferry to take you there and back. We walked back it was a long walk if you can handle it (3 miles took us about 30 minutes)but very enjoyable and FREE!. OVERALL - Great value (hope I didn't scare you with my dinner experience just being honest) you leave knowing that it was money well spent.

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By Pam_CR

  • New

Sep 4, 2000

Key West & Cozumel

Background -This was my 4th cruise, 2nd on Carnival and my husband Chuck's 3rd cruise, 1st on Carnival... It was a surprise birthday gift for Chuck and he didn't know he was going on a cruise until the morning of sailing... I am 41 and Chuck turned 55 during the cruise... Pre-cruise hotel- We stayed at the Sheraton Biscayne Bay for 2 nights... The room was clean, but we had to call housekeeping to replace a lamp and 2 light bulbs...

The pool was small, but not crowded... The restaurant was empty, but the food was ok.. We were able to check in for the cruise with Carnival on the morning of sailing, which saved a lot of time at the pier... Embarkation- Since we checked in with Carnival at the hotel, we were amongst the first to board the ship... We arrived at the pier at about 11:30am and were allowed onboard at 12:30, just after the keys were delivered to the embarkation area... Cabin- Our cabin was on the Empress deck, just behind the international information desk. It was a good location, midship and easy to get to... When we first got in, the cabin was clean although there was no amenities basket as Carnival promises and we couldn't find the room steward to put the beds together until hours later. There were 2 robes hanging in the closet, soap and glasses in the medicine cabinet. The room is a nice size, with one open closet, two with doors and shelves inside one,and a desk with 4 drawers... plenty of storage space... The safe in the cabin was small, square shaped, and required a key which we got from the cabin steward... There is no hairdryer and only one outlet... Service- Our waiter, Jesus from the Phillipines, and our asst. waiter, Balina from Bulgaria, were fantastic... They were there when we needed them, did not flinch when we made a special request, and our wine was at our table each night waiting for us... Our room steward, Diego, was an elderly gentleman who should retire... He was slow, did not speak much english, and seemed to pass all his work on to his assistant... When we asked why we didn't have an amenities basket, he said that there were none on the ship... After talking to the purser's desk, we were told that there WERE *some* on the ship, but we had to ask our steward for it... When we asked Diego once again, he said he would ask his supervisor... We didn't see him again until the last morning of the cruise... Dining Room- We were seated at a table for 8, next to a window, in the Wind Star dining room... The Head Waiter came to our table the first night and introduced himself, but we didn't see him again until the last night (Chuck's birthday AND tip night).. .As I said previously, our service was flawless and I will tell you about the food in another section... All of our tablemates had purchased the cruise through the same online auction that we used, and all but 2 were from the same state as us... Our tablemates consisted of a mother and daughter from Indiana, a gentleman (my age) and his friend, a couple, probably in their early 30s, and us, all from the Chicago area... The couple came to dinner on the first two nights, and then none of us saw them after that... We don't know if they switched tables or just didn't eat in the dining room... Pool area- We had no trouble finding lounge chairs at the pool, plenty were available.. I was disappointed though that there was no live band on deck as I had on the Imagination last April... There was a DJ and occasionally a live steel drum with background music... The daily activities were the usual, horseraces, trivia, ice carving demonstration, and of course, the hairy chest contest... Food- Skip this if you don't want details... I'm a foodie, so it mattered to me... Chuck and I ate in the dining room for all dinners, one lunch, and 3 out of 4 breakfasts... the other times, we ate on Lido deck... Breakfast in the dining room- same menu every day... the lox was delicious and hand cut, the omelettes were hot, but the eggs benedict were very dry.. on lido deck, the eggs were ok, the coffee was strong, but the bacon was great... Lunch in the dining room- I had only a California roll appetizer and chilled avocado soup... both were very good and all I missed were the chopsticks... Chuck had a burger with guacomole, grilled onions and bacon, and it was excellent... On the Lido deck, we had pizza twice, with caesar salad, which was wonderful, but another day we opted for the buffet, which was just fair... Dinner- I love dinner... we were not afraid to order multiple appetizers and main courses, and we did.. here is a little rundown of what we had and what we thought of it... Appetizers- Mussels and shrimp gratinee, great- duck breast with liver mousse, ok- crab cocktail, more like a crab salad, eh- grilled portabella mushroom, delicious- gazpacho, spicy but good- cream of wild mushroom soup, wonderful-shrimp cocktail, puny but tasty- lobster bisque, to die for-escargot, deeeeeeeelicious-french onion soup, standard- hickory smoked salmon, yummy-broccoli cheddar soup, not Wisconsin... Entrees-Beef Wellington, tasty but tough for tenderloin- Rack of Lamb, perfect- Seafood Newburg, very good- Lobster tail, couldn't have been better- Prime rib, perfection- Grilled shrimp, huge and garlicky (yummmm)-Sirloin steak with 3 peppercorn sauce, very tasty- Veal Parmesan, tender and delicious- Chateaubriand, once again, tasty, but tough for tenderloin- Sea Bass with citrus vinigarette, tasty but not hot- Pork tenderloin medallions with Porcini Sabayon, yummy but on the dry side, a bit overcooked.. Desserts- The Grand Marnier Souffle was the best, everything else was ok... I did have a cheese plate one night, with a glass of port, and I think that was my favorite... Debarkation- We were amongst the first group to get off the ship and our luggage was easy to find.. Debarkation started at about 10am and we were off in less than 15 minutes... Overall- We had a great time as we went onboard with the attitude that any cruise is better than being at home... Since I had just been on Imagination 5 months prior, I was unable to avoid comparisons... Imagination was a better cruise for several reasons... I had better room steward service, the food was a bit better (although I liked the variety better on this cruise), I missed having a live band on the Lido deck, and something seemed to be lacking here... I can't quite put my finger on it though... We had the usual baby crying nearby one morning, a very nasty argument in the cabin next to us on the last morning, and one night, we heard kids running down the hallway... These are all things that I believe can happen on any cruise... As a positive, there were not many kids on this sailing and the ones that were there were out of sight/ out of mind... The weather was great except for a cloudy day in Cozumel, and the only shore excursion we took was a tour of SoBe after the cruise to kill time for our late flight out of FL... We met some people from online on the first day of the cruise, which was nice, and we ran in to them a lot during our trip... I was disappointed that Carnival advertises amenities baskets and does not provide them (not a big deal, but don't tell people they are gonna get something they're not gonna get)... Would I do it again??? If I were to do a 4 day again, I might choose another ship (Imagination), but yeah, I would do it again on Ecstasy too... It was a great relaxing vacation and I can't think of a better way to spend my time... We're taking our 4 kids on Triumph in 3 months, and I can't wait : ) I know they will have a blast!

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Nov 30, -0001

Baja Mexico

Cruise Line: Carnival Sailing Date: December 16th, 2002 We're a 40-something couple with two previous cruises under our belts. We live on the East Coast, but were in Las Vegas for my cousin's weekend wedding and decided to follow it up with Carnival's 4-day Baja itinerary from Los Angeles to round out our vacation. We booked the cruise a couple of weeks in advance through an online discount agent, Vacations to Go, and were pleased

with their service. For those of you who are in a hurry, I'll give you a quick summary up front: We had a great time and were impressed with the ports of call and how much we got for the price. If you're looking for a lot of details, including a few comparisons here and there with our other cruises, please read on. Boarding As you'll note in other reviews of this cruise, check-in at the port in San Pedro was chaotic, with a long wait in line (about an hour). When you arrive at the facility and join the line, porters will come up to you and offer to take your bags to the ship. We had forgotten to put our Carnival-supplied luggage tags on beforehand, so we had to fumble around in the rain getting the tags filled out and on the bags. You are allowed to take your bags through with you, right onto the ship if you want, but we were glad we gave ours to the porters since the process of checking in is cumbersome enough without having to tote around all your stuff. The debarkation process was more organized, but you should expect to wait on long lines again. Although debarkation started at 8:00 AM, we weren't through with the process and in our taxi to the airport till after 11:00. Food When we got on the boat, we immediately went to grab some lunch on the Lido deck at the Panorama Bar and Grill. We wound up having breakfast and lunch there pretty much every day. The food at the Panorama was fair to good overall. For breakfast, we generally had the chef whip up omelettes, but I also tried the French toast and pancakes, which were both pretty good. Ham, bacon, scrambled eggs, oatmeal, cereal, and a few other items were readily available. The coffee was pretty pathetic and no real half and half (or light cream) was available -- just imitation creamer and milk could be had. Coffee in the dining rooms was slightly better, but I think Carnival really needs to update their java in a big way. The bread products in all dining rooms were so-so -- nothing like the delicious breads and pastries we had every morning on our Holland America Rotterdam cruise to the Mediterranean in 2000 (I never finished my review of that one, so I'm trying to be a little more concise this time -- but clearly not by much!). We never had lunch in the dining room, finding the Panorama to be much more convenient. Besides burgers, hot dogs (very good ones, by the way), and pizza (more on this below), you could always get a nice hot meal for lunch. They always had a carving station set up with either ham, turkey, or beef, and generally had a few special dishes each day, like Chinese food or quesadillas. Much of this could be had 24-hours a day, by the way, so there's no chance you'll go hungry! The pasta dishes were so-so in general and the desserts were mediocre at best, I'm sad to say. The cakes and cookies seemed mass-produced and the ice cream tasted more like ice milk. But, we were very pleased with the free juice drinks (soda being an extra-cost option), especially the fruit punch and lemonade, neither of which tasted like they were made from typical powdered products. Getting back to the pizza, which you could get any time of the day or night, I'd say it tasted like the very best supermarket pizza, but not like New York or Chicago pizzeria pizza. I had more than a few slices over the course of the cruise, so I'll give it a rating of one thumb up. Now let's get to dinner. We were seated at a table of ten in the Wind Star dining room. Eight out of the ten of us got along great and we really enjoyed ourselves each night. One couple arrived very late the first two nights and this caused a lot of trouble. By the third night they were assigned their own table. The dinner served in the dining room was by far the best meal of the day. For steak lovers, a particular standout was the Chateau Briand. Don't miss it! We didn't order the prime rib but were told by those who did that is was very good. The biggest disappointment was the lobster tail, which was chewy and seemed to have a bitter aftertaste which we both found displeasing. However, at least one person at our table really liked it, so maybe it's just a matter of taste. In any case, you may want to order two entrees on lobster night, just in case. And, speaking about that, you can feel free to order multiple entrees, appetizers, desserts, whatever. The only caveat is that, for some reason, the ship has a rule that two entrees cannot be served simultaneously, so you have to finish dish A before you can have dish B. (Multiple appetizers and desserts could appear simultaneously, though.) Dinner desserts in the dining room were very good, especially the sherberts. Service in the dining room was exemplary. Very friendly and attentive. Two thumbs up for sure. Overall, we'd have to rate the food on the Ecstasy a notch below what we enjoyed both on the Rotterdam and the Norwegian Crown, on which we took a Caribbean cruise in 1996 (before Norwegian's adoption of their "freestyle" cruising structure). However, the food was still more than adequate -- and a really good value given the price of the cruise. Accommodations We were in an inside cabin toward the front of the boat on the Main deck (5). Our room was very well-designed, with enough storage space for all our stuff. The furnishings were somewhat worn from use and did not make a good first impression. Everything worked fine, though, especially the bathroom fixtures, which were all well designed and cleverly placed to maximize space. The room had two regular beds and two wall-mounted fold-downs (which we didn't use). My wife thought the bed was a little hard, so we asked for a mattress pad. Instead, she got a whole second mattress stacked on top of the original one and it worked great! Some people had trouble sleeping because the boat rocked quite a bit, especially on the first two nights out, but we felt like babies being rocked to sleep in a cradle. And, because our cabin was near the front of the boat, we heard pretty much zero engine noise and there was also very little vibration, so we slept really well the whole trip. This was very different from our trip on the Rotterdam, where most nights we were aware of engine noise and vibration, so we were pleasantly surprised that the Ecstasy seemed to be free of these problems -- at least where our cabin was located. There was a nice TV tucked up in a corner of the room, on which you could watch a variety of ever-changing programming, depending on what channels were available at the ship's current location. There were also several fairly current movies being shown every day and a text-only news channel. We were kind of disappointed that there wasn't a "shipcam" channel, which is nice when you want to get a view of the outside world from your inside cabin. Our room stewards were very friendly and accommodating and did an excellent job keeping the place tidy, while leaving interesting towel-animals behind (you'll have to see 'em to believe 'em). The room also came with a nice care package containing some good quality disposable razors, a full-size tube of toothpaste, travel deodorant, breath mints, and some other goodies. All name brand stuff, by the way, not those dinky little hotel items. One extra note: Inside cabins like ours do not get those nifty Carnival bathrobes as standard equipment. We asked our steward for one and received it promptly. Two thumbs up. The ship itself was clean and had a floor plan that was pretty easy to navigate. We didn't find it as interesting as the Rotterdam, though, which was laced with quirky little areas you wouldn't discover till you'd been on board for a week. We pretty much knew where everything on the Ecstasy was after a day or two. The only thing that was a mystery was the location of the self-serve laundry rooms. They're not indicated on any map of the ship we had, but we did find two. The one we used was all the way at the front of the boat on deck 7. Machine and dryer were $1 each (quarters only) and a box of detergent was 50 cents. You'll also find an iron and ironing board there, but expect a long line on formal night! The public areas of the ship were clean and well-kept, though most areas were a little on the dark side and it wasn't easy to find a good place to read. The outside decks (on the perimeter of the ship) were also kind of small and you could only comfortably put out a deck chair on the Lido deck and above. That wasn't much of an issue, since the highest temperatures on this mid-December trip were under 60 degrees, so time outside was kept to a minimum. Other than the area immediately adjacent to the casino, the ship was generally free of smoke. Entertainment The "Vegas style" stage shows were on the same level as those on the Norwegian Crown and the Rotterdam, and we were treated to a couple of good comedians, including one who also juggled. There was also a special Christmas show which incorporated many of the kids who were on board. Very nice. However, the ship was lacking in the quantity and quality of "games for adults" like trivia contests, etc. And, there were few to no prizes if you did win one of the not so numerous trivia bouts. Unlike our other two cruises, we did not come home with a bagful of goodies we won at various contests and events. Hey, don't laugh, I still use my Norwegian mug a couple of times a week and our Holland America mouse pad/photo holder is a prized possession! The onboard background music was, well, not there. I remember being constantly entertained with the great music selections played all over the Norwegian Crown. I was also mildly entertained by the lackadaisically-chosen, but still present, background music in many public areas of the Rotterdam. But the Ecstasy was curiously silent. I suppose we should have gone to the discos if we wanted music! Speaking about that, we were too tired each night from our shore excursions and all that food to go out dancing, so we have no review for you of that. All-in-all, entertainment will have to get just one thumb up. Shore Excursions We really didn't expect much, but we like to take a tour of any place we visit, so we signed up for an island and botanical garden tour of Catalina and the Bufadora (blow hole) excursion in Ensenada. We were impressed with how scenic Catalina Island was. In particular, the cactus-filled botanical garden was very unusual and interesting. Ensenada is a nicely-kept town with a lot of interesting shops. If you're thinking of buying a guitar, they've got 'em in all sizes for a lot less than you'd pay in an American music shop. The bus trip to La Bufadora was well worth it -- that blow hole really puts on a show. Be prepared to get wet if you get too close! The street you walk down to get to the blow hole is lined with little stalls selling all kinds of items, but we wound up doing our shopping in Ensenada. Closing Impressions Our previous cruises were both on very elegant ships -- the Norwegian Crown and the Rotterdam -- and the glitzy neon nature of the Ecstasy struck us as very different. I kind of liked it, but my wife thought it was tacky. Overall, even though we enjoyed ourselves and had a great time, I'd have to rate the overall experience slightly below our previous cruises. Don't let that stop you, though, if the price is right! One final note on tipping: Carnival includes gratuities on the bill. It came out to $39 per person for the four days, which you can adjust if you want to give someone more or less. The maitre d' in the dining room is not included and an envelope is left in your room on the final night for you to fill with something and hand to him personally. Also, everyone at our table was so pleased with the service, we gave our waiter and his assistant a little extra.

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Nov 30, -0001

Baja, Mexico

Cruise Line: Carnival Sailing Date: November 1st, 2002 I went on the 3-day Ensenada cruise. My only complaint was check in. We got to the terminal at 11:15. There were about 6 employees standing in the back of the counter, but no one was checking in people. They made us wait 45 minutes before they started checking us in. It would have been better if they checked us in and then we could sit down in the waiting area until boarding time

and be more comfortable. We got early boarding passes, so were able to board the ship right after check in, which was great. We had carry on size luggage, but they still wouldn’t let us carry it on, we had to check it in. Our luggage didn’t arrive to our room until right before dinner and I needed to change my clothes, so it was close. I would suggest you bring a small carry on with what you are going to wear to dinner the first night. I was pleasantly surprised at the size of the room. It was a very comfortable size. There was plenty of storage space for clothes. I left a note for the room steward to push the beds together, which he did by the time we got back from dinner. They make up the beds separate, not together, so if you want to cuddle, someone falls in the crack. It was a little cozy trying to share one bed. I have to say, the food and service were excellent. Most dinner entrees were small, so we ordered two. I think the last night they were trying to use up food, so the portions were full size. It’s no problem ordering as much as you want. Some of the items we ordered that were good were the lobster, Coquille St. Jacque (pasta with lots of scallops, yummy), Mushroom soup, cold strawberry soup (really good), pumpkin soup, all the seafood dishes. I wasn’t too impressed with the steak dishes my boyfriend ordered. I heard the rack of lamb was to die for, but I didn’t try it unfortunately. We ate breakfast on the Lido deck, because we didn’t want to get up early enough to use the dining room. The food was good and almost the same as what they served in the dining room for breakfast. They only had the dining room open for lunch one day. The pizza on the Lido deck was very good. The ice cream machine wasn’t that great, the ice cream came out soft and runny, which was probably good so I didn’t eat as much. We didn’t do any tours, just walked to town and walked around. The first night they delivered a statement with the charges for the day. I noticed a charge that I didn’t make on it, so I went to the pursers desk and they checked it out and took it off my bill. The drink waiters just write down your charge number, and one of them must have traversed the numbers, so keep all your receipts and check your statement carefully. I thought the shows were pretty good. The comedian they had was really good, but I can’t remember his name. The Gala midnight buffet looked beautiful and we took some pictures, but couldn’t stay awake long enough to eat it. They let you in to view it and take pictures at 11:30, but don’t let you eat it until 12:30am. I was really disappointed with the dance places. My boyfriend and I do country western dancing, which consists of many dances, so you would think we could find some music we could dance to, but no. There are three places to dance. One is a disco, which only played techno music, the other was loud rock and roll, and the other had an awful band that only played cha cha beat music. A DJ would have been nice that you could request different music. The dance floors were tile and oddly shaped. We were really looking forward to dancing every night, so this was a great disappointment. We want the Holiday ship back in San Pedro. I didn’t use the gym, but I went to look at it. It was really nice. The gym is really big and they have lots of equipment. They also have aerobic classes, which I didn’t go to either. There is a nice running track on the top deck too. There are backgrounds set up for picture taking in lots of places. I recommend getting your picture taken at all of them. You don’t have to buy the photos if you don’t want to. We only had about 6 that we thought were good out of all the ones we had taken. One of my complaints is they print most of them in 8x10, which is the most expensive ($21.95 each). You can order 5x7’s or wallets, but you have to buy the 8x10 first. It’s a real racket. If they printed all of them in 5x7 and then we could order the 8x10s, I would have bought lots more. 5x7’s were $6.95 and 6x9’s were $9.95. Overall, the ship was beautiful and clean, the food and service were excellent and I would recommend this cruise to anyone. There were not very many kids on board, so it was a good time to go (November).

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Nov 30, -0001

Baja Mexico

Cruise Line: Carnival Sailing Date: November 1st, 2002 My wife and I took a trip on the Carnival Ecstasy that was awesome. We arrived by car at the Port of Los Angeles. It was very easy to find the correct pier and to get parked. The fee for parking was collected on our arrival. This was nice when we returned as we simply drove away. It was a quick 50 yard stroll to the front of the terminal. Our bags were taken from us and we proceeded

to check in. As soon as we entered the terminal, security officers started to ask us for ID's and tickets. It was nice to see tight security right from the start. Once we got inside we got in a line to check in. The person who checked us in was very nice and polite. He took care of us quickly and efficiently. That whole process took about 20 minutes. Next step was to have our carry on luggage x-rayed and we passed through the metal detectors. When you check in you get a card that you use to identify yourself with and charge things to on the ship. No cash is used on the ship, except in the Casino. As we boarded we slid our card into a machine that took our picture. Later in Mexico when you left the ship you signed off the ship and back on again with your card. They compared the picture that we took boarding the ship with our faces as we got back on the ship. They were always very careful of who got on the ship, it was very secure. Once we got on there were overwhelmed by the size and beauty of the inside of the ship. This was our first cruise so we had no clue what to expect. There were eager crew members at the door to greet us and direct us to our rooms. We got to our cabin and had a pleasant surprise. We assumed since we had a 4A budget cabin that we would not have a window, but there was a large (about 3' x 4') window in the cabin. This turned out to be an added bonus for us. I would strongly suggest paying a little extra and getting a cabin with a window. Make sure you ask for it when you book. We where just plain lucky to get a window, but next time will ask for one when we book. The cabin was more than adequate as far as size and storage was concerned. We moved the beds together but the crack between the two beds made it a little difficult to snuggle with my wife. I would like to see a single large bed available for couples in the cabin, I would even pay a bit extra if it was an extra service. The room was clean, but a bit musty, and somewhat worn. Not tore up, just well used. We encountered musty, sulfur smells in several areas of the ship which did not bother me, but my wife was not happy about it. It wasn't because of poor housekeeping, I think that musty smells are just part of the ocean, and from what I understand Ecstasy has been at sea at least 10 years. The bathroom was nice with full size fixtures. I am 6'4” tall and was totally comfortable in the cabin. Once we got settled in to our cabin, we went out to explore the ship. The hospitality of the crew started to become apparent right away and lasted all week end. We ended up on the Lido deck which is sort of the central outside area. A waiter fetched us some cocktails and we sat back and started to relax and take in the sights of LA harbor. There was a nice buffet going, but we opted to wait for dinner to eat. We played a little ping pong, had another cocktail and then went back to check on our luggage. It was waiting for us so we got unpacked and then went off to dinner. Next time I will take the late seating, because the early seating people miss getting to watch the ship leave port. I like that kind of stuff so the late dinner would be better for me. We only ate in the formal dining room the first night. It was a relaxed casual atmosphere with 5 star service and food. You are presented with a menu and you have to choose one appetizer, a salad and an entree. Everything was excellent!! Freshly prepared, well presented and quite tasty. We had more cocktails with dinner had a dessert menu presented to us.  After dinner we just cruised around the ship and checked out the sights, we listened to some live jazz too. We skipped the main show the first night. We had pizza and ice cream later out on the rear deck of the ship as we watched the lights of LA slip into the distance. After that we retired to our cabin a bit early. The TV in the room was nice, although more channels would be nice. One little problem I had was the room was a bit noisy. Not noise from other people, but “ship noise”. There was kind of a hum in the background all the time. My room was on deck 4 forward, and next to a fire station (A small room with fire fighting equipment in it). Deck 4 is the lowest passenger deck. It may have just been where my room was that made it a bit noisy. Or it may just be the way it is on a ship. I slept well as it turns out, but a quieter room would have been nice. Generally there was no noise from other passengers when you where in your cabin, just the ship noise. After the first formal dinner we never ate in the dining room again. Not because we had a problem with it, it was just more convenient for us to eat at one of the buffets. The buffet food was excellent also. For breakfast you had a wide choice of foods as well as an omelet bar. There was always mil, coffee, tea and juices for free or the bar was right there too. There was a buffet for each meal, and in between during the day was fresh grilled hamburgers and hot dogs, salads and deserts out on the Lido deck...At midnight was an excellent pasta buffet. And 24 hours a day you could get fresh baked pizza. One night I got up at 2:30 am, had pizza and beer, went for a walk around the deck and then crashed out.... On Saturday we docked in Ensenada. A very nice town, but a lot bigger than we anticipated. The dock for the cruise ship is clean and new and secure. One mistake we made was hopping on a shuttle bus to take us in to Ensenada. It cost us 2 dollars each and ended up being a sales pitch for a tour to La Bufadora, the blow hole. What they offered did not sound too bad, but we just wanted to hang around downtown. A little later we realized it was a 5 minute walk into downtown Ensenada and that the shuttle bus had been a waste. No big loss, we just were not paying attention. Next time we will probably go to La Bufadora but not this time....Also you could rent a small 4 wheel ATV or golf cart style car at the dock and drive yourself around. We will probably do that next time so we can cover more ground. As it was were able to go back to the ship several times. It was nice to be able to come and go as we pleased. We finally got back on the ship for good around 3:00 pm. We ate our fifth meal of the day, took a nap, and then went up on deck to watch the ship sail away....That was cool to watch. That night we ate more, saw a very nice comedy show, gambled in the casino, played ping pong and soaked in the jacuzzi several time. There were 4 jacuzzi's that I counted and we never had trouble getting a spot in one. Another thing that was nice was the ship was big enough that you could find a quiet somewhat private place to get away from the crowds for a while. Sunday was what they call a “fun day at sea” which is exactly what it was. The ship just motored about off the coast while we all partied. For November the weather was so excellent that we were all able to sun bathe like it was summer!! Sunday night they had you put your luggage outside of your room so all you had to deal with was carry on luggage. The debarkation process was not quite as pleasant as I wish it was but it is not Carnival's fault. There are like 2000 people and everyone of them has to pass through customs so it just takes a while. Monday morning they had breakfast for us, then we were to meet in one of several areas at 8:00 am. Depending on what deck you where on you get a different colored luggage tag. They let you off the ship, one colored tag group at a time. My group was nearly last so it took us until 10:20 to get through customs. At that point I was so relaxed it did not matter!! So to summarize my experience and what I have learned.... First of all I must say that this whole experience was incredible. In the 3 months prior to going on this vacation I had been averaging 75 to 80 hours a week in my job as a network engineer. This cruise totally and instantly decompressed me. All my needs were addressed by a very friendly, efficient, happy crew who all genuinely appeared to be concerned that I was having fun. Carnival really does things correctly and for a budget price I got 5 star service all the way. It was nice to see that even though I had an economy cabin, I still got the same service and had access to the same facilities as passenger who chose the more expensive cabins. There was a nice cross section of people...Different ages, marital status, cultures...It was just as good for families with small kids as it was young people just out to party and have a good time. No one got out of line at all, there was a lot of drinking going on but all were just having a great time. There is 24 hour room service and our cabin steward really made us feel at home. Other nice little things were the small safe in the room and ice, soft drinks, and bottled water in the room. Tips and hints -Take as much stuff as you need to be comfortable. Luggage handling is very easy for us compared to airline travel. I will take more next time. -When you book, ask for a room with a window. This will cost just a bit more, but it is worth it. Positive comments -The ship is huge and well maintained. Plenty of room for everyone. The crew is professional and friendly and want to make sure you are having fun. -The food is excellent and plentiful. I over ate and I suggest you do the same!! -A very excellent environment in which to relax and decompress. You can find peaceful tranquility or exciting crowds all on the same ship. -Excellent bars. The drinks were stiff and reasonably priced. The daily drink special is a good deal as you get $2 off on refills. -The “Sign and Sail” card system is very nice because you do not have to carry cash or credit cards with you. When ever you make a purchase, such as a cocktail, you simply hand them your card, and then they present you a receipt to sign. Each morning there is an invoice of the previous days charges presented to you. If there are any discrepancies it is easy to correct on board. If you loose your card no one else can use it without getting caught. It just helps ensure you have almost nothing to worry about on your voyage. You either leave a cash deposit and settle up the last night of the cruise, or use your credit card which is what we did. Negative comments -The ship was a bit musty in places, including our room, which was a problem for my wife. I bought a can of air freshener in Mexico and that freshened up our room. I would recommend that you bring a small can of air freshener with you. -On the last night room service was not operating. I had to get up and go get bottled water in the middle of the night. They should have room service available the whole time. On a positive note this little complaint indicates how much the spoil you the rest of the weekend!! -It would have been nice if the ship stayed in Ensenada until 9 or 10 in the evening. You had to be back on board by 5:30. It would be nice to experience some of the night life. Since there is no hurry to get back to Los Angeles, why can't they stay in port later on Saturday? Well that is it....It was an excellent, rejuvenating experience to go on this Carnival cruise. I will be going again within the next 6 months for sure!!

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By Jae_CR

  • New

Nov 30, -0001

Western Carib

Ecstasy 5-night 12-27-08 New Year's Cruise! Friday, Headed to Galveston the day before the cruise, there is still allot of devastation on Galveston Island. We saw large boats lying on their side along side the road and even in neighborhoods, lots of debris along the roads and caught in fences and numerous blue tarps still over roof tops. The Strand is little more than a "ghost town. The locals told us that if it weren't for the cruise business

and their customers their city would not be as populated as it is now and it's only about 50%. We stayed overnight at the Hilton on the Seawall and ate at The Spot overlooking the beach. We did a little last minute shopping and headed to the hotel. Saturday, There was lots of fog all day, all evening and even into the early morning of departure, but the sun came out and we were ready to cruise! The ship was in port before 8 am. We arrived at the ship at 11:15, walked straight up the stairs, through VIP and were the first two people through the photo line and onto the ship - Wow! We called and text our friends and family, dropped my husband's Blackberry phone into the ocean accidentally (we have insurance) then went to our cabin E-244 to dress for 1st night's dinner. I left $5 and a note asking our cabin steward (who we never saw and that's okay with me) to leave me an extra pillow and a blanket. When we returned to our cabin, both items were there. At dinner, we were assigned a booth for 6 people, all were our age, one was a honeymoon couple on their first cruise and feeling motion sickness, they left during appetizers and we never saw them again. Unfortunately, we did see the other couple again, we went to the maitre'd and asked for a table change after missing the next two nights at dinner. We thought of the NCL commercial where the man keeps talking and talking and talking, well it was something like that. Anyway, the maitre'd moved us to a beautiful table and we very much enjoyed our last dinner there. We tipped him on the last night by the way. Even though the sun was shining through our cabin window, we slept 11½ hours the first night, after going to bed at 7:30pm! That's unheard of, I guess we really did need some rest. Sunday, We got up the first day at sea - ahhh - had breakfast on the Lido, read and people watched on the aft area in lounge chairs, had an early lunch and watched some Sunday afternoon football which was showing all around the ship. Tonight was elegant night and we had the prime rib, pumpkin soup, cherries jubilee, all were wonderful, we walked around the ship and went to the cabin to prep for Cozumel. Monday, Got up for breakfast again on the Lido as we pulled into lovely Cozumel and enjoyed the 83 degree temp and sunshine! We did the Dune Buggy Tour leaving at 10:00 and loved it, they prepared and served us food on Playa Bonita consisting of guacamole, salsa, chips, chicken, rice, tortillas, soda and water. We walked the beach, picked up some sand and shells and relaxed. We returned to the ship and had the sushi; we always look forward to the sushi! We turned in early to prep for Progreso. Before you say anything about Progreso, we LOVE Progreso, we have friends there and it's one of our favorite ports of call. Tuesday, In Progreso we stayed all day long on the beach, eating, visiting, buying fun stuff and enjoying the heck out of the day! The temp was 85 degrees and sunny, I got a massage on the beach, it's always a treat and we had an awesome day. Back on the ship, we ate in the Panorama Grill for two reasons, 1- the dreaded table mates, 2-didn't want to dress for dinner. The food in the Panorama was okay that night, but nothing to write home about; once we had our ice cream, it did however fill the void in our tummies. We went to the show tonight for the first time, the comedian Brian Tassell was good and our cruise director Steve Cassel did a wonderful juggling act. He is a multi-talented man and very, very well spoken and polite. We saw him many times around on the ship. We went to our cabin, watched TV and fell asleep by 10pm - sweet. Wednesday, New Year's Eve at sea, went up for the yoga class, breakfast in the dining room - I always love to eat breakfast in the dining room, I had salmon, bagel, turkey bacon, 2 eggs and coffee. We went to the gift shops to spend our on board credit which WAS on our sign and sail cards at arrival - nice. I bought some T-shirts, a coffee cup, some earrings and other little things. The sea was like glass until about 11:30am, it was so eerie and beautiful at the same time and remained calm all the way back to Galveston. Ate a light lunch, walked around the ship, went to the specialty coffee shop on the promenade and had latte's and the carrot cake. We returned to our cabin and our customs info was there along with party hats and blow out horns for the festivities later. I spent some time filling all the customs paperwork out while thinking of what to wear to our last night, New Year's Eve dinner without the "dreaded" table mates. At our newly assigned, lovely table, we had clam chowder, rib eye steak, apple dessert and the cheese assortment - excellent! The New Years celebration parties were held in several areas, there was food, music and specialty champagne's if you cared to purchase them. At midnight, the Captain came on the speaker and did the 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1- countdown and blew the ship's horn. It was all very fun. Thursday, With our luggage (and we intentionally packed less than ever and did just fine) we were the second and third people off the ship and headed for customs. We were off the ship and in our car by 8:30am. We have a 6 hour drive ahead of us but as we were leaving Houston, I received a phone call from Carnival, I had forgotten ALL my hang-up clothes in the closet! How could I have done that? I've never done that, but at any rate the lady said I had two options. They would ship my clothes to Miami and they would mail them on to me or I could come back and pick them up. I told her I'd come right back and be there in about an hour, she told me where to come and I thanked her. We returned to the port, I handed security my sign and sail card and told them my story, they had me sit and wait. The nice lady took my sign and sail card and went to find my clothes. After about 30 minutes, she returned with my clothes and a smile on her face. I thanked her for all her trouble and we headed back towards Galveston again. Excellent cruise in every way - way to go Carnival!

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  • New

Nov 30, -0001

Western Caribbean

Carnival Ecstasy Western Caribbean Angela Helpful Hints Park at ezcruiseparking.com they are very helpful getting you on and off with your luggage. Pack a carry on bag....swim suite suntan lotion, ect. Events don’t really start for a long time. Especially if you get there early like we did to avoid the long wait and crowds. Try to get a room in the middle of the boat, our way home against the current was very bumpy the whole

time, was very sick. (6ft waves) Elevators take forever and you get tired of running up and down the stairs all the time. Don’t pay for the $70-$100 wristbands (for motion sickness). The ones at Walgreen’s really do work and they are $10. Don’t buy t-shirts on the boat they are too expensive ($20)- Mexico has a lot of choices for $5 that are wonderful! I ate the Beef (cause you can't really mess up a steak unless you burn it) it was all really wonderful, we ate in the Windstar dining room. Our server was wonderful. Get to know the people you cruise with. Socialize with everyone. It makes your trip more fun. Bring a game, you do tend to get a little board after a while and just want to eat all the time. (Bring fun games like Dominos, a deck of cards, etc that are easy to pack..) There is only so much drinking, sunning, gambling, photo taking, exploring of the ship, singing, dancing you can do. Get involved in the events the boat has going on. Its fun to watch people make an idiot of them selves, and if you don’t mind looking silly do the event your self. We dressed up on the formal night and every one looked first class. Bring dress cloths, you would be surprised how many dress up for dinner every evening. Bring a sweater!! If you get cold to buy one on the ship is $50. Bring one, just in case! Get the late seating for dinner. You eat all day long, snacking, breakfast, snacking, Lunch, Snacking, Dinner, Snacking, Snacking, Bed. Only get the fountain card if you are a Big Time Soda Drinker. They have Juice, Tea, Water, Coffee,and Lemonade all day long in the dining area by the pool near the rear of the ship. Card for my husband and my self was $50. Pictures are expensive, we spent $200- my husband and my self never get our picture taken. (It's $20 per 8x10.) All in the name of memories. So plan on some cost. They take them if you want it or not. Out of boredom you go to look at them, they look cute, so you end up purchasing them. They got us every time! Alcohol- drinks vary, order the specials, they save you money, if you get a beer, get a bucket, its cheaper. The cost for a bucket is about $12 and it has 4 beers. The specials are fruity (taste good) and cost about 6$ for the large souvenir glass but refills are around $4. We went horseback riding thru the ruins. It was a blast! I had never been on a horse before. (They give you a crash course on how to ride.) We enjoyed chief who was our guide. It was not to hot. Felt hotter on the boat while at the pool than on the horse. But most of the ride was in the shade. Relax, Enjoy, go to the shows they are good. Have fun because overall it’s a great time, where you can enjoy company of new friends. P.S. Do the early check out, where you carry your own bags off the boat and get there about a half-hour before they say you need to be there. Also best place to be is by the elevators (on the same level as the Windstar)  

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By Lisa_CR

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Nov 30, -0001

Western Caribbean

Carnival Cruise Lines Ecstasy Cruise Review Western Caribbean I recently returned from a 5-day cruise to Cozumel and Progresso, Mexico aboard the Carnival Ecstasy. Due to some of the more negative comments about the ship, I felt compelled to share what a wonderful experience we had. We were a group of 11 relatively inexperienced cruisers, with ages ranging from 15 – 62. Everyone had a terrific time, and many agreed that this was by

far the best vacation ever! Rooms – Because we booked this cruise several months in advance, we were able to get some great rates. Additionally, we originally registered for the bottom-of-the barrel interior rooms, but because we booked so far in advance, we were upgraded to rooms with windows on a higher deck. Our steward was wonderful, and he kept our rooms spotless! Dining – The food was absolutely delicious. I think we all gained several pounds during the trip. We had dinner in the main dining room each evening, and my only complaint would be that some folks totally disregarded the dress code outlined in the reading materials provided. Each dinner menu contained several more exotic dishes and at least a couple of “safe choices”, such as salmon or steak, for the less adventurous. The waiters were very accommodating, bringing out as many entrees or desserts as we requested. We met one man on our cruise who ate 7 lobster tails one night! While the Panorama Grill’s turquoise décor would not have been my first choice, the entire area was always clean and inviting. All the food we sampled from the grill was delicious, especially the bread on the lunch salad bar! The breakfast buffet was another nice luxury that we quickly adapted to. Activities – One of the things that I found to be amazing about our cruise was the volume and variety of activities available each day. I believe that while everyone in our group was vacationing together, we each had a totally different experience from the trip. Some of us spent the days at sea laying out on deck, while others spent time reading in the library, playing bingo, or attending the art auctions. I think everyone found something to do that suited them perfectly. Spa – Although the spa treatments were somewhat pricey, our experience was very positive. We treated the teen girls to the “Pretty Princess” package, which included a facial, scalp treatment, bronzing, and choice of a facial product for $55. Both girls (aged 15) loved this. I was impressed with the products that they selected – full sized spa products! Gym – Since the Ecstasy has been fully renovated, they have new, state-of-the-art equipment in the gym. Very impressive. Also, I highly recommend the Pilates class, which cost $10 and was well worth the price. Teen Club – Our teens spent each evening happily participating in “Club O2” activities. They met lots of new friends and can’t wait to go again! Excursions – We took the Playa Mia Beach Break Deluxe excursion in Cozumel. While we did have fun on the beach, I’m not sure it was worth the $75 per person price tag. The price of this ticket included transportation to the beach, a lunch buffet, an open bar, and several water sports. The food on the buffet was not very good, and because of the crowd we didn’t have an opportunity to use the kayaks or peddle boats. Massages, hair braiding, and snorkeling were available for an additional fee. BEWARE – our teens were served alcohol (real margaritas instead of “virgin”) on this excursion. Fortunately, they alerted us to the situation. Overall, we found this cruise to be a very relaxing and fun experience. It was definitely worth the price, and we are already planning our next Carnival cruise.    

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  • New

Nov 30, -0001

Western Caribbean

Carnival Ecstasy Western Caribbean Joe Blowe Where to begin? The bottom line for me is the entire ,"we're done with you, we have your money, go to bed now" attitude has got to go! You need to understand that on so many different levels Carnival does NOT have your best interests at heart, no matter what they say or do! The sadest part is when they quite literally "roll up the sidewalks" at night, leaving you with no options

but to go to bed. Forget visiting with friends or meeting new people, especially if you want a drink or two to enhance the experience, the bars are closed, the pool is closed, the deck chairs have been stacked and pushed to the corner, the music has been turned off. Now Please understand that I'm NOT talking about midnight, 2am, (I could understand that!), I'm talking about 10-10:30 PM! Everything you buy has an 18% gratuity on it, including drinks you walk half way around the ship to get yourself! (which you have to do when the wait staff quits at 10pm!) And can you believe this, the ONLY bar left open on Thursday night ran out of beer! The excursions: TOTAL JOKE! I was with a large group of 10 people. We wanted to do a jeep excursion. The Carnival web site said you could get a jeep that would seat 4 for $150, (give or take). Yet on the ship, it went up to $80 per adult, and $70 per kid. So a jeep with 4 people would cost $320?? And that Rebecca chick claimed that had sold out. So we get to Cozumel: First off, its FAKE! You are entering a totally fake area created for Americans. Bypass all of that crud, and keep walking down to the rental car place. Guess what? They have SCORES of Jeeps available for rental, (pick your color!) $50! We rented a Ford Econoline Van that held all 10 of us for $80 plus the $25 Mexican insurance. Went to a grocery store in downtown Cozumel. Got a styrofoam cooler, 2 cases of Mexican beer, (cold out of a cooler!), 2 bags of ice, bottled water, $30 bucks! We all cruised downtown Cozumel, (the REAL Cozumel!), bought 6 Cubans, food, and some t-shirts, loaded in the van, and STILL joined in the jeep excursion! Went to the sample places and everything, but we had beer and food! Went to 4 different beaches, partied all day! Oh, and I recommend you visit the "Gentalmans Club" just outside the "FAKE" area, and spend your money there! The diving, swimming and snorkeling? Its done in the harbor where yours and 3 other ships are docked, where they are dumping their waste and such! Yummy! Calica: Total waste of time! Again, another "FAKE" area set up for Americans as a tent city, assembled just as the ship arrives. Again we rented a car for $50, went into town, got beer, and drove to cancun! Its the ONLY way to go! Its a quick trip because you need to be back by 3:30, but well worth it! Beware of Pemex! The ONLY gas stations in town! They cheat you! Watch that guy pumping your gas like a hawk! They clear the pumps and claim they put more in then they did! My advice: 1) Buy the soft drink card, you use the HECK out of it! 2) Smuggle your own booze and bottled water onboard any way possible! 3) Bring a book or games. The "fun days at sea" are brutal! 4) Expect to spend $100 a day on board for just crap! 5) The casino is TIGHT! No real big winners, but lots of big losers! 6) The food is OK, but most of the waitstaff does not speak English and are on their first cruise, (I hear of 75% turnover) Overall, NO real value! Make your own fun!

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  • New

Nov 30, -0001

Western Caribbean

Carnival Ecstasy Western Caribbean Sheila, Frondi, and Tabitha This was our first cruise, with a brother (23), sister (25), and a friend (24). No couples, no children. This is our experience. Embarking - We drove from Dallas to Galveston, starting at 8:30 AM with about a 4.5 hour drive. When you get to the port, there are signs that tell you where to go and where to park. As soon as we got to the port, we dropped our bags off. Guys

in Hawaiian shirts come and pick up your bags for you because you can’t get on the parking lot bus with luggage. Make sure to tip them, make sure to tip everyone. It’s common courtesy. We couldn’t reserve a parking space (with EZcruise, etc.) and used the Galveston parking lot which was $50 for a five day cruise, paid up front. When we got back to the terminal, there was this huge Six Flags-esque snaking line; however it went relatively quickly, maybe 30 minutes. That’s where we showed our passports, gave our credit cards and got our Sign and Sail cards. Since there were three adults in our one room, we each had a separate account with separate cards. From there we had our picture taken and boarded the boat. Cabin – We got to our salmon pink cabin on the Empress Deck, which is the main deck where the purser’s office, the photo gallery (there are photographers who routinely take your picture for purchase later), the piano bar, and the excursion desk are. It was pretty convenient staying on that floor, not too many stairs, unless you’re headed off the boat at ports or up to the spa/gym. Our room had two beds pushed together to make a king, and was really comfortable; with it’s huge down comforter and down pillows. We then met our room steward for the week; a really nice guy. They come in and tidy up your room twice a day. Once, when you are out during the day, and once when you are at dinner. Since there were three of us, they pulled down the wall bed for us during the second clean up. The first clean up of the following day, they put the bed back up for space. It’s nice. The room was very cold too, although you do have control over the level of the air conditioning vent, so we asked for extra blankets for the person sleeping on the bunk. The towel animals you’ve read so much about are cute, and we felt bad destroying them. Dining and Alcohol- The food is great. I don’t know why people have complained about it. You get to eat anything you want and there’s always going to be something you like. Upon getting on the ship, they serve lunch before 3:30. Throughout the whole trip, you can always get food on the Lido deck and wear whatever you want. 23 especially enjoyed the “new york style” deli. In the dining hall, you have to dress up a little bit more, but nothing fancy or out of the ordinary, with formal night being an exception. The food in the Wind Star was great. We got a three course meal, plus dessert if you wanted it. It’s nicely presented food, and our waiter Lamine and his assistant were awesome. Near the end of each dinner, they offer coffee and tea, and 24 is a green tea drinker. They didn’t have green tea, but the assistant made a point to ‘order’ it. Every dinner after that, 24 got green tea after dinner. This touches 24’s heart. As for alcohol, a can of Miller Lite was 3.95 and they had daily specials on one particular (weak) frou frou drink. We brought on our own wine, and also snuck on some liquor in water bottles with no problem, though we didn’t drink all of it. You’ll find that getting wasted EVERY night isn’t that appealing when you’ll be up early to go on excursions or plan on laying out in the sun. We didn’t bother with getting a soda card because water, iced tea, apple juice, fruit punch, and lemonade were always free. The room steward also always filled up our ice bucket for our wine and champagne. Room service was also free, with the exception of tipping the guy that brought it to you. However, the food for room service is cold food only, like sandwiches. We only did it once for breakfast, because if we were hungry, we just went up to the Lido deck instead of waiting around in the room. There’s a sushi bar on board, only open from 5:00-8:30 or so, and they only have four choices of the day, and you are only allowed two pieces of each type of sushi per order. This meant if you wanted more, you’d have to go back to the end of the line. It was good; nothing out of the ordinary. Formal night is the night you get served lobster for dinner. Some people go way too far and wear their prom and bridesmaids dresses. It’s a bit excessive and uncalled for and they just looked stupid. 24 and 25 wore cocktail dresses, and 23 wore a suit and tie. It worked out well. This is also the same night that you get the midnight buffet, which is extravagant, but we were so full from dinner, that we couldn’t eat a lot, but it’s nice to see the presentation. Also on formal night is the Captain’s Cocktail Party, where they booze you up with free whisky sours, Manhattans, martini’s and some small appetizers. One is early for the early dinner, and there’s another for the late diners. This is the only time you’ll be able to drink for free, so we went to both because they don’t check. Entertainment- Karaoke is supposed to be every night from 9 or so until midnight, but we went the night of our late arrival from Cozumel (10 PM), and it wasn’t going on. We enjoyed it, and sang a few numbers on various nights. We did a rousing Prince performance of “When Doves Cry,” and that was a highlight. There are shows every night at the Blue Sapphire, Las Vegas style, but we only went to one. It was “Xtreme Country Night.” We aren’t too fond of country music, but it was still enjoyable. There’s the Crystal Lights casino, where we all lost a little cash. Nickel Slots, Quarter sweeper, and roulette did us all in. Undoubtedly some bingo granny or drunken balding guy is shoving our dollar bills in a g-string as I type. On the first “fun day at sea”, 25 went and laid on the deck to drink and make friends, while 23 and 24 went to the daytime “Champagne Art Auction,” which is a crock cause the champagne is BEFORE the auction, not during. We found that out the hard way. The art is neat, most of it signed lithographs, and there were some cartoon cells and framed sports memorabilia. It’s far too long and boring if you don’t plan on buying anything. There’s also a gym that’s pretty nice. The equipment and machines seemed new, plus 24 kept showering in the spa shower because it was much larger and nicer than the shower in the cabin. The spa and gym look like the newest part of the ship, because it isn’t neon and 80’s looking. The bars are a little lame. They’re generally pathetically empty until after karaoke ends at midnight, which isn’t your average karaoke lounge (200 people or so are in attendance at any given time). Then the dance club Stripes gets some action as well as the piano bar. Don’t expect to hear anything but disco or the occasional overplayed 50 cent. The piano bar is nice if you like that sort of thing, which 25 did. The two late-night (midnight) adults-only comics will please most people. One was the standard “I’m always horny” comic, while the other had your standard “This is how we are in Texas” routine. As for the other bars, the Chinatown Bar was almost always empty, as well as the Metropolis Bar. I’d recommend the Society Bar outside of the Starlight (karaoke) Lounge or the Neon (piano) Bar if you want to grab a drink out of total seclusion. Ports of Call- We went to Cozumel first and had already booked a Beach Break Excursion online at Palm Beach. It was awesome. Our excursion included all we could drink and eat, and it was a quiet beach, more for adults. Water toys were an extra $5. There were no pesky children running around and our man Cesar, who brought us our drinks and food, was the greatest man ever. He even brought out our beers to us while we were in the water. The beach wasn’t at top shape do to that whole hurricane Emily (whore) thing, and it was a bit cloudy, but it was still wonderful. The food is supposed to be the best on the island, and it was pretty damn good. The six hours that we were there went by quickly. Afterwards, we wandered into town and bought a few things. San Miguel is kind of dirty and touristy. None of us were feeling so great since we had laid around on the beach getting drunk all day. The town was ok. The next day in Playa Del Carmen, we went to our ATV Jungle and Cenote swim excursion, which was also booked online through the same company. It’s a lot easier and cheaper to do that, than to wait in line with the cruise. That was fun and dusty, and the cenote was very refreshing, but our tour guide was from the Netherlands and he was a dick. Despite that, it was still fun. Afterwards, we went into the town of Playa, and we liked it much better than Cozumel. The shopping was better and the beach is free and right there, plus the sand isn’t made of coral so it was smoother on the feet. You spend a lot on taxis in Mexico. Plus, we had to be back on the ship by 4pm, which was annoying. That’s just not enough time to spend on land. Disembarking- They warn you that this is the most annoying part of the trip, but it doesn’t have to be. We needed to get back to Dallas for lunch reservations at 3:30 so we self-embarked which means we didn’t leave our luggage out the night before to be picked up in their luggage warehouse when you go through customs. You’ll need to get up and out of your room before 8:30 if you want to do this; the earlier the better (starting at 7:45, though when you’ll get through depends on when the ship is cleared with customs). We joined the mass of people and made our way down to customs. All in all, getting through customs, getting in the bus (w/ our luggage) to the car, and getting on the road took about 30 minutes. We were back in Dallas in plenty of time.

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By Cynt_CR

  • New

Nov 30, -0001

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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  • New

Nov 30, -0001

Western Caribbean

Carnival Ecstasy Western Caribbean JamieH This was my first cruise - I went with a college friend - we were celebrating our 40th birthday this year. Embarking - this was relatively painless. We drove to the cruise terminal, dropped off our luggage and then followed a line of cars to the assigned parking lot. The only problem here is that I would have preferred covered parking, but the attendant said covered parking is only available

when leaving on Sundays. This was not explained in any of the cruise literature I read. After taking the shuttle back to the cruise terminal, we waited in the long line to board, but it wasn't too bad. The whole process from dropping off the luggage to stepping foot on the ship took about an hour. Once onboard, we went straight to the Lido deck by the main pool to purchase our fountain drink card. It was approx $31.00 for the adult card - this is a good deal if you drink a lot of soft drinks because otherwise soft drinks are almost $3.00 each. We went to our cabin which was in the very back of the boat and looked out over the trail the ship was leaving in the water. I think it might have been a little bit bumpier at times than if we had stayed in the middle of the boat, but it was never a problem. The room was a little small, but there was enough room for both of us to unpack our suitcases and spread out a bit. Make sure you find your cabin steward right away so that you can get the key to the safe in the closet – he or she should be monitoring the hallways close by. The safe was very small, but gave us enough room to store our passports and wallets. We had read that there was only one electrical plug in the room, so we brought an extender and were able to plug in a travel sized blow dryer, a curling iron and a camera charger all at the same time with no problem. The dispenser with the bath gel was a great feature in the bathroom. Definitely make sure that you fully complete the information on the luggage tags that Carnival sends you so that your luggage will be delivered to your room on a timely basis. I neglected to fill in my cabin number. I was told when I checked in that this would not be a problem as the porters could look me up on the ship’s manifest. However, when I didn’t have my luggage by 8:00 p.m. that evening, I had to find Mashkun, our cabin steward, who immediately took me to the lost luggage area where we made a successful retrieval. The ship is a bit tricky to navigate – the reference card we received when we boarded was very useful. Dining rooms – we ate in the main dining room three nights out of five. Portions are small, but you eat several courses (appetizer, salad, entrée and dessert), so I always felt full. Some of the meals were better than others – the lobster tail was very good. Our head waiter was Devon and our secondary waiter was Gabrielle. Gabrielle provided very good service. We took most of our other meals in the Panorama Grill on the Lido deck. This was extremely convenient as most food is served buffet style. This area contains many different options – a hamburger/hot dog buffet located under a covered area at the end of the main pool, a 24-hour pizzeria, a deli for sandwiches, a salad/fresh fruit area, a dessert table, and then two buffet areas at the front of the room which served different themed food every day (Indian, Caribbean, etc). And don’t forget the self-serve soft ice cream and yogurt. Ports of Call – We were forced to skip Playa del Carmen because of the hurricane last week, so we went to Progresso, Yucatan instead. There’s really not much here – we signed up for a bus tour just to get out of the miserable heat and humidity. Cozumel was a much better stop with plenty of shopping and excursions to choose from. Night-time shows – we attended the talent show and the variety show. We went to karaoke one night and to one of the comedy shows. These events were okay, but it was better than just sitting in your cabin and watching a movie (although we did catch four movies while we were onboard). Bingo was fun, but expensive - $10 for one card or $20 for three cards. Pools – there is a large main pool on the Lido deck and then a smaller pool on the Verandah deck at the back of the ship. We choose the smaller pool because it was quieter – most of the kids (and there were 750 on board) hung out around the larger pool. The only negative point to the Verandah deck pool is that it was behind the large smoke stack, so it frequently smelled funny. Dress code – we had our formal night the second night of the cruise. It was nice to see everyone dressed up. But the cruise literature said that there would be a second night that required dressy casual attire, and that never happened. Beside the formal night, we were always allowed to dress casual in the dining room. Alcoholic drinks – don’t even bother with this expense. The bartenders probably use about one quarter of the liquor that would normally be used in a drink. I got a frozen margarita once and couldn’t even taste the tequila. Disembarking – this process went fairly smoothly. We choose to have our luggage taken off the boat for us, so we had to have it ready for pick-up by midnight of our last night. Then we got up early the next morning, had breakfast and waited for our color to be called (color is determined by the luggage tag assigned by Carnival). We left the ship and were directed into the warehouse where we retrieved our luggage and went though customs. At this point one option was to stand in line for a shuttle and handle your own luggage on and off the shuttle. We choose the express service instead – my friend waited with the luggage and I took a different shuttle (that didn’t allow luggage) back to the parking lot. Then I drove back to the terminal and picked up my friend with the luggage. This process probably took about 20 minutes, so it was much more convenient than waiting on the other shuttle and having to haul your luggage on and off. The cruise was very nice, but the heat and humidity were a bit much in Progresso and Cozumel. I would consider taking another cruise, but to a different destination that wasn’t so hot. We thought the cruise ship personnel did a great job of taking care of us – in particular our cabin steward Mashkun did a great job of straightening our cabin and giving us fresh towels twice a day. And we loved the towel animals at night, of course.

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Nov 30, -0001

Cozumel and progresso

It was nice being with family but this by far was the worst cruise ive ever been on. The food was bad! We were very dissapointed in the service also. Our waiter was nice but he had entirely too many people to take care of. We were a group of 26. He definitely needed more help. The boat was very rocky, we had heard rumors that one of the stablelizers was broken. With this being a Holiday Cruise, I thought for sure they would go all out on Thanksgiving

Day. I was with alot of people that had never cruised before and I had told them about the great midnight buffet with all the carvings. Well guess what, carnival has done away with that on cruises less then 7 days. Overall experience was bad. This was my 12th cruise, weve cruised with carnival at least 7 times. This was by far the worst food. Thanksgiving dinner was horrible. The menus every night had very few dessert selections and always the same chocolate cake (although the cake was good). My husband had seafood every night and said it was pretty good. Perhaps I chose the wrong items, but out of our group of 26, everybody said they were not happy with the food. Very clean and our steward took good care of us.

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Nov 30, -0001

Cozumel

Okay, where to begin. We arrived in Galveston at 12:30 as instructed. We were informed that the ship was delayed and to come back in two hours. We went and had lunch and looked at the devastation in Galveston and was back at 3:00. My husband dropped me and the kids off at the front and went to park. After going inside I was told that the ship wouldnt be ready to board until 9pm. I tried to call my husband but he had already surrendered the car

and was told if he left, he would have to repay in full when parking again. We decided to go ahead and check and hope for the best. By the way I failed to mention that the holdup was due to fog. We stood in line for 1 hour and got checked in, we were told we could leave but as I mentioned we had already parked the car and did not feel safe walking around after dark. While we were in line I noticed that they were passing out sandwiches from Jasons deli. I jumped out and got those, my husband thought I was crazy but later was very happy I did this. At this point there were not a lot of people in the cruise terminal. We found a place to sit on the floor against the wall. We were not given any direction at all. At around 800 a man started talking about gettin the sign and sail cards and that this would be done by zones. Zones???? I asked the man several times and was yelled at. The family sitting next to me had a VIP zone card because of a special needs child and allowed us to use it. We never did find out how the zone cards were given out. Apparantly midway through the process they decided to use them. We did get on the ship around 10 pm but only due to shear luck. Some didnt get on until 1am. We were also told at this point that we wouldnt be going to Cozumel and would be going to progresso instead. So in a nutshell, we paid for a 4 day cruise to Cozumel and got a 3 day cruise to progresso. We were only compensated 40 dollars by Carnival and for this reason I will not travel with them again. The food on the ship was terrible and lines at the buffet were at least an hour wait. We were actually hungry on a cruise because we didnt want to wait in line. Long lines at buffet. Dining room okay. Clean and spacious Not enough public areas. Never heard announcements and unless you carry aound the Caper did not know what was going on. Progresso is horrible. All excursions are a waste of money. After talking to other passengers, We all paid a different price and ended up at Reef Hotel. Food was terrible. Teens were allowed to drink. Water dirty.

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Nov 30, -0001

Mexico

Cruise Line: Carnival Sailing Date: October 6th, 2002 I have not even taken the cruise yet, but I am thoroughly disgusted in Carnival's ability to get back to me regarding an additional charge they explain 3 different ways, none of which make sense. I have e mailed them several times for an answer and they never respond. When I called they gave me the run around. This will be the last cruise I ever take with Carnival. I have been on Princess

and Celebrity and they care about their passengers enough to respond to inquires. Carnival is only interested in the almighty dollar, so they have lost my business all over a $50.00 overcharge they cannot and will not explain.

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Nov 30, -0001

Baja Mexico

Cruise Line: Carnival Sailing Date: December 23rd, 2002 I have traveled for most of my life, including river cruises on the Nile and Rhine rivers so this was my first real ocean cruise. I should have read reviews first! Worn rooms and carpets throughout, food only okay (a lot of micro waved foods), and too many kids with no supervision. It was as if I had stayed in Circus Circus in Las Vegas. I realize that I should have thought about

the fact that many families book during the Xmas vacation so the fault lies with me. However, children running everywhere, blocking elevators by playing in them, messing about with breakfast door tags in the early AM, etc…where were the parents? Shame on all of you lazy parents! I do not go on vacation to police your children. And shame on Carnival for not letting potential customers know of the “let your child loose on Monday and find them on Friday” policy. For future cruises I will look for an adult’s only luxury ship. The saving grace of this trip was the hard working and gracious staff.

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Nov 30, -0001

Mexico

My mother and I chose to celebrate her 70th birthday aboard the Carnival Ecstasy for a 5 day cruise to Mexico on April 27th, 2009 and stayed in Cabin U228. When we heard news of the swine flu and it continued to get worse I phoned Carnival in route to Galveston and asked if our cruise would be canceled and was told there was no reason to be concerned that there were no cases in either of our ports or any reported cases from any past guests or crew.

I told the agent that I had heard that the CDC announcing a non-essential travel warning was imminent, but she reiterated that our ports of call were fine. So on the ship we went. Immediately the rumors were flying that we were not going to get to go to Mexico. I asked a couple of service staff members and they thought we would possibly just redirect to another port but would probably only have time for 1 port. The next morning the information meeting regarding our ports of call was canceled and we were told that more information would be coming. All day they came on with announcements promising updates by lunch time, by 3pm, by 5pm, by the captain's cocktail hour, etc. No news came so we went on to the Captain's Cocktail hour hoping that the much anticipated information would be relayed by the captain himself. Steve Cassel, our truly fabulous cruise director, came out and told us that the captain would not be joining us because his was stuck on the bridge handling this emergency situation and that there was still no news to relay. This was at 7pm Tuesday evening. By this point I had already seen the news headlines stating that all Mexico ports had been canceled and wondered why they were not being forthcoming with this information. At dinner around 8:30pm, our cruise director, Steve Cassel, announced that the Mexico ports had been canceled and that no replacement ports were available to us. The Captain made no announcements himself and he never made an appearance at the dinner that night or at anytime on the cruise. He also never made any apologies for his absence. We were told that as compensation for our missed ports our Sail and Sign cards would be credited $40 to reimburse the port taxes of the missed ports. Being a travel agent myself I am aware that this amount is far less than the port taxes actually paid. On Friday morning the debarkation meeting was canceled because of a medical condition onboard the ship and we would be going back to Galveston immediately, to be arriving back in Texas by 8pm Friday night. They should have let everyone know that it was not the Swine flu because the rumors started flying that it was an outbreak on the ship. We later learned that it was one very ill passenger. Although I am very sympathetic to this family and hope that all is well with them, the lack of forthcoming information was just one more thing that ruined our vacation. Then new information came that all 4 and 5 days cruises were now being canceled and replaced with 7 day cruises. This is an option we would have preferred. We lost over half of our vacation and we were not compensated for this and, in fact, the cruise line probably made more money than normal due to the guests spending much more money than they would have in the ships casino, shops and bars. If we had gone to the movie and there had been a power failure, we would have been offered a rain check for any alternate movie. We would not have been forced to stay seated in the dark theater and just wait out our time. We should have been offered a refund or a rescheduled cruise. It's as simple as that. It is not fair that future guests will be enjoying a 7 day cruise while we received $40. I had a 7 day cruise on the Conquest planned for August 2nd. We have 10 cabins booked. At this point I am reconsidering my choice to cruise Carnival or selling it. Most of the food was fine. The dining room food was the best. Loud, we were in the rear of the ship and the motor of the ship shook us so bad that our things rattled off the nightstands. The Lido deck activities were lots of fun. The shows were a little corny.

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Nov 30, -0001

4 day from Miami to Key West and Cozumel.

Kim Johnson Departure Date: May 3, 1999 From this experience and what others have told me about other cruise lines, Carnival definitely believes in having a good time! The trip started with my companion missing her flight and not expected to board ship until sailing time; however, Carnival agents took care of everything and made sure she got there way before sailing. When they say you sail at 4:00 p.m., count on 5:30 because

you have to go through the safety drill. When we left port, we wondered around checking out the ship, wondering if we would have a good time. The fun started when we got to dinner. Everyone at our table clicked and we all hung out together every night at the Disco, STRIPES. Our waiter was really funny and nice. It's pretty neat meeting all of the cruise members who are from all over the world! The food was not what we expected. It reminded me of Vegas...not too good. I expected elaborate buffets 3 and 4 times per day...not so. The pizza is good and is available 24 hours! We were on the lowest level. Our cabin was VERY small and the bathroom was TINY. There was only one electrical outlet in the entire cabin. So ladies, if you are traveling with your friends, make sure to bring extensions or something!! We had an inside cabin, so we woke up in darkness every morning. We will definitely get a window next time. Key West was ok. We didn't have much time there. Just expect a lot of junk stores. Cozumel...well, we took a not so good excursion through the Mayan Ruins...pretty much fake. That took way too much time and cost too much money. Wouldn't recommend that one! The formal evening was nice; however, not everyone follows the dress code. That was a little disappointing for those of us who went all out on evening wear. Oh well, we looked good anyway. Pictures and more pictures! Be prepared to spend some money! My favorite part of the cruise was laying out on deck. Oh, the games like the "hairiest man contest" are hilarious! I would definitely recommend this cruise for singles and the younger crowd! Overall, we did have a great time and we are even considering finding some more friends to go again this Sept!

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Nov 30, -0001

Cozumel and Progresso Mexico

Overall it was a great cruise. There were some minor issues at emabarkation dealing with my Sail and Sign account establishment. Check in for the cruise was fast and efficient. The check in clerk wanted the card that I booked the cruise with. I told her that I did not want to use it to create my S & S account, she said that it would be fine and that nothing would be charged. I gave her the card and she proceeded to swipe the card anyways. I

went to the pursers desk to give them cash for my S & S account. I found out later that Carnival was holding $50 on my card plus another $50 of my cash for my gratuties which in total should only be $50. It took talking to 3 or 4 different people at 2 different times to make them understand. They agreed to release the hold on the card, but it did not release until we docked on the 12th. The other issue was I never saw my cabin steward. Not once. But I managed regardless. I don't reacall what I had for dinner each night but I want to say it was very good and very well presented. Aniko, who is Hate's assistant, came each night to take my order for the next nights dinner, to make sure it was prepared without any dairy. I tried to pick foods that would be easy to fix or foods that would not cause to much trouble. The chef made me as special dinner of Shrimp Vindaloo one night. I love North Indian food and he was nice enough to do that for me. Totally not on the menu! I ordered shrimp cocktail and salad for my appetizers every night. It was great. Big enough for one possibly 2. I was in E189. It had a flat screen Tv in the corner up close to the ceiling. The top bed was up in the wall and only bothered me when I bumped my head on it at night! My cabin steward was non exsistant so I did not know that I could move the lower bed around, but I found that out later. There was plenty of drawer and closet space. And I brought a LOT of clothes. I was able to push my suit cases under the bed and out of the way. The bathroom was pretty small but no smaller then the 4A I had been in before. It's the same step up and over set up. The shower is fine, I am a big girl and I had no issues with its size. Not a lot of water pressure however, and I did not have any issues with the shower flooding the bathroom floor. There are 2 small tables that you can move around and set stuff on. I used one as a fan table. I travel with a small fan and it worked out great. The size is pretty comparable to a 4A. I think for the most part its the same size, but it looks bigger because you dont have the sofa or 2 beds taking up room. They offered stuff to do 24/7. I only was able to get in a few things, such as the Art Auction (for the free Champange), Digital Scavenger hunt, Tea Time, Singles Meet and Greet, Return Guest Party, and the Captians Reception. I had a fun time and commend Carnival for doing the best. I did not take any excursions but this is what I think of where I went: Cozumel. Me and a tablemate agreed to go together and to share a cab, since the ship docks at the Porta Maya pier. It was a $7 cab ride there and $7 back and we split it. Our first stop was an internet cafe for me to call home and to check my mail. The call to the states cost me $1.00 and the internet about the same. Much cheaper then on board at $.75 per minute. We went to Sr. Frogs and had a blast! I ordered the Tequila Shrimp and a bottle of water. 3 of our table mates showed up and they seemed to be having a great time as we were leaving. After Sr. Frogs, we just walked around and shopped. I bought my granddaughter a pretty blue Mexican style dress and paid $20 for 4 t - shirts. I also went to the Hard Rock Cafe to get a souvenir glass, since I have collected them from all over the US and the world. The small shot glass was $13, more then what it would be in the states. I really did not care that much for Cozumel. We ended up going back to the ship only after about 3 hours. Progresso. I loved Progresso. I did this by myself. My first thing was again to find a phone or internet and call home. Again it was very cheap. I would go back to Progresso in a heart beat. I loved everything about it. I got a 45 minute massage on the beach for $10. I feel asleep laying there listening to the sound of the waves and the wind. I took the Progresso tour for $3 and it was very nice. I ended up going back to one of the restaurants that we passed on the tour and having 2 Pina Coladas for $4 plus they brought me chips, fresh salsa, black beans and some sort of potato. All this for $4, I made it my lunch. I got back to the ship about an hour or 2 before it sailed. We were allowed to board around 12.30 or so. The cabins were not ready so I took my carry on bags and went to the Lido deck and ate lunch. There were very few other passengers at this point so the food was plentiful and pretty good. Just your basic burger and hotdogs. Finally at 1.30 my cabin was ready and I got to go see it for the first time. I had booked a 1A and had no idea of what it would be like. I have to say I really liked it. I was on the Empress Deck and aft. My bags came pretty quickly actually before we even left port. My cabin was quite warm and I was trying to adjust the A/C but was not able to get the dial to move. I tried finding my Cabin Steward but to no avail. I was able to get the man who delivered my bags to fix it for me. After that I pretty much just wondered the ship, camera in hand. I took several photos and videos of the ship and my cabin. As I was traveling by myself I was able to go and see what I wanted to with out hindering others. At around 4 or 4.30 we were told to get ready for our muster drill. I went back to my cabin, got my life jacket, checked my muster station location, Star Light Lounge and headed there. While on the deck near the life boats I noticed that we had set sail. I was very excited at this point. Like a kid in a candy store. I had chosen the late seating, 8.15pm, Wind Song Dinning room. So after the drill, I just wondered the ship, getting to know my home away from home for the next few days. I got dressed for dinner and went to the dinning room to see who my table mates would be. I was the first one there, and felt a little out of place. Joseph , my waiter, greeted me by name and I was very surprised. Turns out that he had already been notified of my food allergy and wanted me to know that he would be talking care of me. Gradually others began to join me. Pat, from Texas who would turn out to be who I would hang out with for most of my cruise. Tad, Candy and Jerry also from Texas, Renee from Texas (did not meet until later), Gail from Kansas and Sandy from Oklahoma. We named ourselves the divorced Medical/Educational table. All of us except Pat and Sandy were recently divorced and we were all in the Medical or teaching field in some way. I work for a health insurance company, there were 2 nurses, one medical secretary, one payroll clerk in a hospital and ohh yea, 2 were teachers. We were all around the same age, mostly in our early - mid 40's to late 50's (I was the youngest at 43). Three or 4 of us had grandchildren and we all had kids. So the Maitre D, Hatem, did a great job of seating us. Our first sea day, I spent going to different activities. I was not bored one bit and had loads of fun taking photos of the ship and learning different stuff. I have meet so many different people! The ship hit pretty bad currents and it rocked and dipped. Lots of folks were sick. I thought it was fun! I was rocked to sleep every night in my bed! We were late getting into Cozumel by 2 hours but we made up the difference by leaving 2 hours late.

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Nov 30, -0001

Western Carribean

Overall the cruise was great. There were a couple of bumps along the way. I was traveling by myself. Check in for the cruise was fast and efficient. We were allowed to board around 12.30 or so. The cabins were not ready so I took my carry on bags and went to the Lido deck and ate lunch. There were very few other passengers at this point so the food was plentiful and pretty good. Just your basic burger and hotdogs. Finally at 1.30 my cabin

was ready and I got to go see it for the first time. My bags came pretty quickly actually before we even left port. The one thing that I will say is that I never saw my cabin steward. My cabin was cleaned and I did get the turn down service but I had tried paging him 3 times and tried to find him a few times but never was able to. I did tell the pursers desk but they said that perhaps he just was not working on those times I had tried to find him. All in all it was a great trip. I would do it again in a heart beat. I had chosen the late seating, 8.15pm, Wind Song Dinning room. I got dressed for dinner and went to the dinning room to see who my table mates would be. I was the first one there, and felt a little out of place. Joseph , my waiter, greeted me by name and I was very surprised. Turns out that he had already been notified of my food allergy and wanted me to know that he would be talking care of me. Gradually others began to join me. Almost all at my table were single or traveling alone. We were all in the same general age group. early - mid 40's to late 50's (I was the youngest at 43). 3 or 4 of us had grandchildren and we all had kids. So the Maitre D, Hatem, did a great job of seating us. I don't reacall what I had for dinner each night but I want to say it was very good and very well presented. Aniko who is Hatem's assistant came each night to take my order for the next nights dinner, to make sure it was prepared without any Dairy. I tried to pick foods that would be easy to fix or foods that would not cause to much trouble. The chef made me as special dinner of Shrimp Vindaloo one night. I love North Indian food and he was nice enough to do that for me. Totally not on the menu! I ordered shrimp cocktail and salad for my appetizers every night. I had booked a 1A and had no idea of what it would be like. I have to say I really liked it. I was on the Empress Deck and aft. I was in E189. They had a flat screen Tv in the corner up close to the ceiling. The top bed was up in the wall and only bothered me when I bumped my head on it at night! My cabin steward was non exsistant so I did not know that I could move the lower bed around, but I found that out later. There was plenty of drawer and closet space. And I brought a LOT of clothes. I was able to push my suitcases under the bed and out of the way. The bathroom was pretty small but no smaller then the 4A I had been in before. Its the same step up and over set up. The shower is fine, I am a big girl and I had no issues with its size. Not a lot of water pressure however, and I did not have any issues with the shower flooding the bathroom floor. There are 2 small tables that you can move around and set stuff on. I used one as a fan table. I travel with a small fan and it worked out great. The size is pretty comparable to a 4A. I think for the most part it's the same size, but it looks bigger because you dont have the sofa or 2 beds taking up room. I did shoot video and took photos, however, I left my memory card on the ship in the cabin safe. Carnival tells me that when they find it they will send and I will post photos and video then. Our first sea day, I spent going to different activities. I was not bored one bit and had loads of fun taking photos of the ship and learning different stuff. I have meet so many different people! I have to say I that I hardly saw kids on this cruise. I know they were there, I would see them on shore. This tells me that Camp Carnival does a awesome job! I didnt take any Shore Excursions. But I was told that they were fun and would reccommend to anyone. This was my 2nd Carnival Cruise. And also my 2nd cruise period. I had such a great time on the Fantasy back in '03 that I wanted to go again. I chose this line again because of the awesome price and the distance to the pier. Cozumel. Me and a tablemate agreed to go together and to share a cab, since the ship docks at the Porta Maya pier. It was a $7 cab ride there and $7 back and we split it. Our first stop was an internet cafe for me to call home and to check my mail. The call to the states cost me $1.00 and the internet about the same. Much cheaper then on board at $.75 per minute. We went to Senor Frogs and had a blast! I ordered the Tequila Shrimp and a bottle of water. Our table mates showed up and they seemed to be having a great time as we were leaving. After Senor Frogs, we just walked around and shopped. I bought my granddaughter a pretty blue Mexican style dress and paid $20 for 4 t - shirts. I also went to the Hard Rock Cafe to get a souvenir glass, since I have collected them from all over the US and the world. The small shot glass was $13, more than what it would be in the states. I really did not care that much for Cozumel. We ended up going back to the ship only after about 3 hours. Progresso. I loved Progresso. I did this by myself. My first thing was again to find a phone or internet and call home. Again it was very cheap. I would go back to Progresso in a heart beat. I loved everything about it. I got a 45 minute massage on the beach for $10. I feel asleep laying there listening to the sound of the waves and the wind. I took the Progresso tour for $3 and it was very nice. I ended up going back to one of the restaurants that we passed on the tour and having 2 Pina Coladas for $4, plus they brought me chips, fresh salsa, black beans and some sort of potato. All this for $4, I made it my lunch. I got back to the ship about an hour or 2 before it sailed. That was the good now for the bad. I was asleep in my cabin, E189 (on the Empress Deck), and woke up to alarms going off. I immediately smelled smoke, I got up and realized that there were people screaming and yelling in the hallways. I opened my cabin door and the hallway was filled with smoke. There was a lady in her under wear screaming that the ship was on fire and for us to get our life jackets and get off that deck. I got dressed, grabbed my purse, my room key and my life jacket and headed down the hallway to the stairs. I met my table mate, P**, on the way up. Her cabin was on the Upper Deck, the same deck as the fire. She said that she did not know what was going on, only that there was a fire. We headed up to our muster station at the StarLight lounge. At NO point did we see any crew members direct us where to go. One elderly lady was hurt and another was having an ashtma attack. The smoke was not so bad on the Atlantic deck as it was below. About 15-20 minutes into the fire we saw our first crew members. They seemed as confused as we did. I was pretty angry about the non direction from the crew. On our first day, we had a fire drill and was told that if in the event of a fire or evacuation then there would be crew members who were wearing bright florecent green hats to direct us. They showed up about 5 minutes before we were given the ok to go back to our cabins. Those who were on the deck of the fire had to wait about 3 hours to return. I was lucky I got to go back only about an hour after everything happend. I do not know who or why the fire was started. Rumor said some guy lit a bag of towels and linen in his cabin. I did see the Customs Agents taking someone (white male) off board in handcuffs when we docked back in Galveston. I was in line behind one lady at the Pursers desk who had been on the same deck and next door to the fire who had to be moved from her cabin, and I was sitting with a older couple who were 2 cabins down from the fire who said that their floor was soaking wet and had been kept out of their cabins for 3 hours. Carnival Cruise Lines is stating that it was a small fire and that no one was injured or inconvenienced. I dispute this. I am sure that everyone that was awoken or had to be moved or made to wait for 3 hours to return to bed feel that they were inconvenienced. And there was an injury and Carnival knows this. A elderly lady fell hurting her leg when she was trying to evacuate. The ships medical repsonse team carried her away on a back board. She was in our muster station and I saw what happened. I am also upset with the response time of the medical team. Other passengers where helping the injured lady for over 15 minutes before the medical team showed up. Carnival has a lot of explaining to do. I do not blame them for the fire of course, however, I am very upset and angry about their response or should I say NON respone about the situation. I did try talking to the Pursers desk as to why the response was lacking. Her response was that it was in the middle of the night and that they had to get up and see what type of fire it was and so on. Nothing she said made any sense to me. I have managed hotels for years and when a fire alarm goes off, we have a box that pin points where the fire alarm is and we call the fire department. I know that this floating city can not have anything less. I want a valid explantion as to why the crew did not follow the set standards for response to this this emergency. I also want them to acknowledge that there were people who were inconvienced and not to try to brush it under the rug to avoid bad press. I realize that it could have been alot worse than it was, but a fire aboard any ship in the middle of the ocean is an EMERGENCY.

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Nov 30, -0001

Miami to Nassau

Randy Lilleston December 18, 1998 This was my first-ever cruise and I went with about 15 folks, most of whom were related to each other (although I was one of the "friends," not one of the relatives). I have traveled extensively by air but have never gone cruising. Here's how it broke down for me. ATMOSPHERE: Hey, Carnival advertises itself as the "fun ship" line, and this cruise was only for three days, so it's not exactly

the one you'd pick for relaxing. You get on this cruise, you should probably expect to party. A lot. That's what we did. Think Carnival doesn't know that? Watch the aggressive hawking of powerful rum drinks at the welcome aboard party around the pool and see how you feel. A couple of those babies and I felt just fine, thank you. That's kind of the theme of this particular cruise, as far as I'm concerned. It's an excuse to hit the sea and Nassau for three days and be self-indulgent. This cruise works just fine for that. ROOM: I was pleased with my cabin (in the lower "Riviera" berth) except for one thing: The two single beds. My wife and I felt like Ricky and Lucy Ricardo as a result, as we weren't allowed to actually have a bed together. The beds were pushed together at our request, though, but they still were "made up" separately. However, they were comfortable and the size of the cabin was a very pleasant surprise. I've definitely slept in smaller hotel rooms on land. Considering the reasonable price of this cruise (about $320 each, I think), this was an outstanding bargain. FOOD: I really wasn't expecting much (there are numerous warnings on the Net about the food on this ship) and I basically felt it was the quality of food you get at banquets at a hotel. That's sort of to be expected, considering Carnival has to feed 2,000 guests three meals a day. I felt the food was adequate but not memorable. The pizza was, as everyone notes, pretty good. Think "banquet food" and order accordingly...stick with food that keeps well in a food warmer, such as fish (no steaks, for example) and you'll be all right. But if you want gourmet food, fork up the bucks for a higher-priced cruise. I was one of the few wine drinkers in the group but never ordered a bottle or a glass with a meal; the prices were quite fair. SERVICE: Very good, but I must admit to having a constant language barrier problem with servers, almost all of whom do not originate from English-speaking countries. On the other hand, they were very eager to serve, seemed to enjoy their jobs (it would get old for me, fast) and the multicultural atmosphere on the ship added to my enjoyment. ENTERTAINMENT: I'm a part-time musician and was very bummed out the first night when the singer in the band in one nearly deserted lounge told the small crowd, "Welcome to K-Mart cruise lines." Cruise ships pay serious cash to musicians and that's a rare thing; if someone wants to piss and moan about working on a ship, there are 100 musicians dying to replace him. That being said, the music definitely was aimed at as broad a class of people as possible and I suppose that's to be expected. There was the calypso band by the pool, the rock/country band (with the aforementioned smart-ass) in one club, a duet in another club, a piano bar, a guy with a guitar and a drum machine outside the casino (who let me sit in with him for a whole hour when I pulled out my blues harps), and probably others I never saw. There also was a hard-core disco....serious light show and pounding music. I didn't see any shows so I can't comment on them. RIDE: Smooth, baby, surprisingly smooth. Saw no one get seasick. OVERALL: I enjoyed this trip...basically, it aimed to be cruising for the Masses and succeeded. Next time, I might dig up some more bucks and go for something more luxurious/less crowded, but for the money I spent, I felt the value was good and I certainly had fun.

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