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   Cruise Travel - Cruise Ships


Carnival Cruise Line

MS Ecstasy
Rating:Three and a half Stars
Submit your review hereSubmit your review
Operator: Carnival Cruise Lines
Year Built / Last Refurbished: 1990 / 1995
Length / Tonnage: 855 / 70,367
Number of Cabins / Passengers: 1,020 / 2,044
Officers / Crew: Italian / International
Operating Area: Year-round East and West Caribbean out of Miami
Telephone / Fax: Tel 124 4233 / Fax 124 4234

Review by Mark H. Goldberg, TravelPage.com, Cruise Editor

Carnival's second megaship, the flashy, splashy ECSTASY, followed her twin sister FANTASY into 3/4 day cruise service in l990 and has been packing 'em in ever since.

In their six word off-the-cuff remark "the glow in the dark ECSTASY", Shirley Slater and Harry Basch, long time cruise editors at The Los Angeles Times and now also authors of Fielding's "Worldwide Cruises", summed up the ship's personality...And well, the ECSTASY DOES glow in the dark...with public spaces highlighted by some of the most advanced fiber optic lighting effects you will ever see - at least I HOPE it is - and let me tell you that the changing colors of the lights - so widely believed to be neon but isn't...produce some interesting effects on some of the more advanced inebriates among the passengers...on the face of it this ship offers little to nothing for anyone looking for a quiet, sophisticated cruise and those who like a cruise ship to serve as a backdrop for a sea going house party will be thoroughly disappointed here....after all, on a short cruise like those this ship makes, with as many as 2,500 passengers....you will NOT make much of a connection with anyone who didn't board with you...but if you like to party while you relax, if you want entertainment served up with some of the best sound systems and lighting effects to be seen at sea, if you like an active (no - make that a PACKED - casino - for sometimes the players are three deep at the tables and at the 226 slot machines...the atmosphere gets electric) if you like to laze skimpily clad in a deck chair with a hot sun and an ice bucket full of brews for company, don't hesitate to consider a jaunt in this fascinating ship...or any of her sisters. You can surely party aboard this ship.

Public Areas
When you first come aboard the ECSTASY in Miami you enter through the Atrium...don't forget to look up! It soars through seven decks and this amazing space can't fail to get a rise out of YOU! Everyone responds to the Atrium, the ship's own version of Times Square...and if you don't believe me I defy you to spend a half hour in it some evening and come away with no memory of the lights changing colors every few minutes as the computer which controls the fiber optics change the colors and make little white lights shimmer like the stars they are supposed to be! The ECSTASY is so big...there is a LOT to her...some think she offers even more facilities than most small towns...and she does!

My favorite item aboard this ship...and aboard ALL of her sisters is the Nautica Spa....but that's because I like to work out...I mean SERIOUSLY work out (OK it's the only thing that gets me tired enough to sleep)... and these Carnival ships really do have just about the BEST fitness facilities at sea. Located atop the wheelhouse with the same view the Captain gets, working out here is a highlight of any of my days aboard the ECSTASY. There are six treadmills, more than 30 weight machines, free weights AND the ship has a separate one-eighth-mile jogging track. If that weren't enough...there are aerobics classes throughout the day. But the l2,000 square feet of spa is by no means limited to that grand gym...it has a nice skylighted room for the hot tubs, steam and sauna rooms plus a beauty salon... More comfortable than most Broadway theaters is the ship's 1,300 seat duplex show lounge and the entertainment is pretty good...then there is that HUGE Casino and I think I have already said a word about it...if not...let me say this... Carnival seems to like its passengers to gamble...they sure make it easy and fun...and I don't think the women's temperance league had much of an influence in the design of these ships...there are more bars than there are in heaven...at least I THINK so...and plenty of places to eat!

That ubiquitous TV woman who spent so much of her spare time singing about Carnival cruises on television sets all over the United States and Canada got some of it right! But I don't think Carnival's passengers are eating much "fancy food" nor is it particularly fine food or even memorable...and let's face it...for the vast numbers of mouths fed every day in the time allotted to prepare and serve it, not to mention the prices paid, Carnival passengers are generally well fed and passengers in the ECSTASY do not go hungry...there is a LOT of food served here...Like her many sisters, the ECSTASY seats her passengers in two identically decorated dining rooms...each seats well over 600 people at one time but don't expect an intimate dining experience here....there are even booths a la Coffee Shop Grecque...these seat SIX...and someone on either end will have to move if the man in the middle needs to make an unscheduled pit stop....don't ask for a table in the smoking section either...there IS no smoking allowed in the dining rooms!

How's the food? About what you'd expect - middle to high end coffee shop fare reasonably tasty and generally happily served...This is a mass market operation and to me the food service defines why it's called that...it's efficient, it's organized...watch it closely and you see how very hard the dining room staff works....it's hectic for them...and they have my sympathy when they have to interrupt their work to do a little song and a little dance...I thought it was their job to bring food, leaving the stage singing and dancing to others...so...it's not leisurely unhurried dining for the paying guests but good eating as a rule...and yes...there are TWO sittings...

Up top is the buffet restaurant which serves breakfast and light lunches...I usually skip breakfast....at least typical American breakfasts...so don't ask me if I liked breakfast in the Lido...Lunch is another matter and though you can get your burgers or other fried or grilled fare from the serving station/line out by the pool, I prefer some air conditioning when I eat in the tropics...so inside for me...where there are TWO grill stations, a salad/bread bar and a pasta table...none of the food was bad...but nothing was memorably tasty either...but I didn't go hungry...and drinks were always offered by wandering drink servers...

OK - her LOWER bed capacity is 2,044 passengers and with upper berths this ship can and does sometimes carry several hundreds more...none of the standard cabins....which at some 190 for outsides and 185 for insides are the biggest in this segment of the market...(except for the minimum priced rooms which are smaller and not very good choices unless money is a very important concern) is elegantly or luxuriously furnished...for the heavy traffic this ship gets industrial carpeting and bare minimum furnishings was the way to go...Storage space aplenty ensures room for everything you bring and the bathrooms are very good....with big, roomy showers and good water pressure...There is a TV in every cabin but it rarely showed anything I wanted to watch...and when the beds are arranged in king size version...as all lowers can be...one person MUST climb over the other to get out should the one nearer the porthole wish to rise before the one outside...

Want a splurgette? Consider booking into one of the twenty six 226 square foot minisuites. Each with its own small veranda, these topside dwellings are furnished and decorated rather better than the standard, which I MUST stress, are very adequate for a short cruise...don't send me around South America in one of the standards, though...they're a bit too decoratively unevolved... and well...something about them reminds me of a dorm room...(a NICE dorm room)...Beyond the minisuites for even more money are twenty-eight suites. Located within the hull, these digs each boast 350 square feet of space with a decent sized private verandah....but don't expect to sunbathe on your verandah...it's completely decked over...

Who Goes
This ship gets people of all ages...you'll see people from 90 days to 90+ years of age here and it seems that fleetwide about 30% of the passengers are under 35 years of age...and an even higher percentage of younger people flock to the ECSTASY for her shorter cruises are more affordable...there seems to be something for everyone...even lackluster, curmudgeonly ME...I like the Library here, too...even though it is hardly EVER open...but it IS a pretty room! Kids are happy in this ship and the onboard "Camp Carnival" allows parents to drop off their young and know that they will be well looked after. .

The ECSTASY sails year-round from Miami on Mondays on four-day cruises to Key West and Cozumel and on Fridays on three-day cruises to the Bahamas.

You got a problem with any of this? Keep this in mind....you're one person. The ECSTASY carries over 2000 passengers twice a week. So does the FANTASY. Put it all together and Carnival is carrying about 20,000 people every week. Who can be more than a number here? So leave your high hat at home, go, relax, enjoy it and have a good time. Night and day, there is something going on aboard the ECSTASY...so be prepared to enjoy yourself...I think Carnival DOES have the fun...maybe not the class of a top notch five star city hotel or a classy, high end resort, but you're not paying for it nor would you buy a ticket on the ECSTASY if that's what you wanted!

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