First and foremost, this was a great vacation. Me and 6 girlfriends got together to take a Girls Trip. From booking our tickets months ago, talking about it in between, and the cruise itself, we all had a great time. With the seven of us, we had different goals for our vacation. Three of us had cruised before and four were first-timers. Two really wanted to spend the time partying, I was looking for complete relaxation, and the other four were new, so they wanted to explore and see what it was all about. At the end, we had each achieved our individual goals and also had an awesome experience during the times we spent together.
We sailed out of the port at Charleston, South Carolina. Stops included the private island Princess Cay and Nassau, Bahamas.
The Carnival Ecstasy is one of the older ships in Carnival’s fleet. It’s also smaller than other ships. It’s still a big ship, but not as big as some of the behemoths that are sailing now. The decor reminds me of Vegas casinos. Bright, lots of pattern, and fun. The Grand Atrium is a fun place to see with glass elevators, glass railings, and a view from deck 7 to the top.
The Carnival Ecstasy Atrium is open from deck 7 to deck 12.
Not to complain, but in the interest in truth, the ship shows it’s age in places. Immaculately clean with someone always wiping something down, that’s not an issue. Travel on a ship requires the use of stairs or elevators. After the 100th flight of stairs, I was ready to use elevators. At the rear bank of four elevators, I only ever saw one of them working. That was annoying. The Adults-Only Serenity deck was probably added in a release to the fleet. The area is small and doesn’t have the cool hammocks available on other ships.
Carnival Ecstasy Serenity Deck at Night
We started in Port Charleston. I was lucky to see a few sights before boarding the ship. I definitely want to make another trip to this historic city.
Princess Cays is a private island. I heard that about 12,000 people live there full time. It has a great beach and Carnival offers extras that you can purchase such as snorkeling and a dune buggy tour.
A view of Princess Cays from the Forward Deck.
The last stop before heading back was Nassau, Bahamas. At this port, you can see the hotel Atlantis across the bay.
A view of the Atlantis Resort from the port.
The entrance to Nassau from the port.
As soon as you get off the ship, you are surrounded by hawkers trying to get you in their cab for tours, buy their stuff, braid your hair, etc. The best move is to keep walking. Nassau is known for their Straw Market. In this space, many vendors are under the same roof with souvenirs, jewelry, and clothing, to name a few items. One highlight is the row of wood carvers. They carve statues and masks and you can watch some of them work.
The Straw Market in Nassau, Bahamas
Woodcarvers Row at the Straw Market
Beyond the souvenirs, Nassau is a great place to pop into one of the liquor stores and pick up a bottle of rum. One of my favorites is Gun Cay. While being duty-free is an attraction, even more important is the fact that I haven’t been able to find it in the states.
As I’ve said, this wasn’t my first Carnival Cruise, so I had a good idea of what to expect. However, the dining room on the Ecstasy was a bit of a disappointment. One of the reasons people take a cruise is to sample exotic foods. Past cruises have included alligator and escargot. One night frog legs were offered, but that was the only time I saw something out of the ordinary. Carnival is known for it’s chocolate melting cake. It’s a signature dish. On this ship, however, it wasn’t cooked properly on 3 of the 5 nights and came out as a soupy pudding. It’s been a few years since my last cruise, so I don’t know if these are Carnival-wide issues or just specific to this ship.
The buffet on the Lido deck was very good. Every day featured a different type of cuisine. The breakfast offerings were very good with lots of fresh fruit, eggs, waffles, french toast, bacon and more. There’s a dedicated area that is open 24 hours a day. In the morning, you can order omelets made to order and they were great. The rest of the time they offer pizza which was also very good.
On the Lido deck near the pool were two more restaurants. One was the Blue Iguana Cantina and the other was Guy’s Burger Joint. I wasn’t in the mood for mexican during the cruise, so I didn’t try the cantina. I simply had to try Guy’s after one of my friends described the burgers as “off the chain.” She was right. Guy’s Burger Joint was created by Guy Fieri of Food Network fame. This partnership is a great addition to the ship.
Guy’s Burger Joint Menu
There’s always a lot to do on a ship. During the day, Gary the Cruise Director held dancing contests and fun events. There was also bingo and trivia contests. At night, there was a show, comedians, karaoke, and a band near the casino. Singing, dancing, drinking, gambling, there was a ton of fun to be had.
I went to one of the shows that focused on British music. The singers and dancers did a great job, even with the boat rocking along the rough sea. I also love karaoke, so I did that for a couple of nights. The band near the casino was a highlight. They were fantastic and had us all dancing and singing along to songs everyone knows.
The Spa, Locker Room, and Fitness Area
My favorite areas of the ship were the spa area and the Serenity Deck. I took advantage of a couple of spa treatments during the cruise (for an extra charge, of course).
Entrance to the Spa and Fitness Area
I also took great advantage of the ladies locker room. Inside, there was a steam room, sauna, huge showers, private changing areas, and as many towels as you wanted or needed. It was well attended with a staff member available quite a bit of the time. And it’s all free.
The Ladies Sauna on the Carnival Ecstasy
This area felt like my little secret. I only saw a few people take advantage of the facility. It was the perfect way to relax. As I learned from a group who were clearly versed in spa time, by doing rounds of 15 minutes in the steam room followed by 15 minutes in the sauna and then a cold shower, rinse and repeat, it’s an awesome way to relieve muscle tension. I find reading to be relaxing, so I often took my book into the sauna. The steam room was way too wet for that.
Cabins are small on a ship and bathrooms are pretty tiny. Since I discovered the big showers in the locker room on my first day, I never showered in my cabin. This is a great tip if you’re traveling with several people.
The fitness area is equipped with treadmills, bikes, machines, and weights. The treadmills are positioned at the front of the ship with windows overlooking the sea. What a great way to work out! While on board, I took a yoga class one day and really enjoyed it.
View from a treadmill in the fitness center.
The Carnival Hub App
This is new since the last time I cruised. Carnival offers different options for Wifi packages. Since I live online, I decided to completely unplug for this vacation and not sign up for their internet packages. The Hub app was useful to know about activities on the ship, open times of the different facilities, and conveniently showed the temperature. On the down side, they offered a chat feature. It was only $5 for the whole cruise and was supposed to allow me to communicate with my friends on the ship. However, it barely worked, so we had to go old school and leave notes for one another.
Overall, it was a great cruise. This ship is a great choice for first-time cruisers especially. After my first cruise (this was my third), I felt as if everyone needs to treat their first cruise as a “practice cruise.” It takes the first cruise to understand how everything works–from food to excursions, general schedule, etc. I may sail on this ship again since Port Charleston is closer to me than the Florida ports, but I’d more likely check out another ship.