Note: I am currently sailing a 5-day Mexican cruise aboard Carnival’s oldest ship — Carnival Ecstasy, a trip that cost only $14 per day in cruise fare. Each day I cover the experience, giving you an inside peek at what it’s like to sail this trip.
You can view other days here:
- (Live Blog Day 1) Cruising for $14 Per Day on Carnival’s Oldest Ship: Not What I Expected!
- (Live Blog Day 2) Cruising for $14 Per Day on Carnival’s Oldest Ship: Neon, Gambling, and The Beatles
- (Live Blog Day 3) Cruising for $14 Per Day on Carnival’s Oldest Ship: My Own Beach in Cozumel?!
- (Live Blog Day 4) Cruising for $14 Per Day on Carnival’s Oldest Ship: An Amazing Excursion That Cost More than the Cruise
For one of her final times, Carnival Ecstasy is on the way back to Mobile, Alabama. After more than 30 years of cruising, the ship has roughly six more weeks of sailing before she is set to leave the fleet.
As this trip winds to a close, knowing that I’m on a ship that’s taken literally millions of passengers on cruises around the world… and won’t be doing that anymore… is a bit strange to think about. There are so many things I’d love to just take off the walls as a souvenir, but I don’t think Carnival looks too kindly upon that.
Instead, enjoying one more day at sea is my parting gift. Thankfully, the weather has been great to enjoy just that. Calm seas, just a few clouds here and there, and lots of sunshine.
I had planned to having the Sea Day Brunch in the dining room, but changed plans when I saw the line to get in. Carnival is having everyone “check in” for a table in the dining room on the app and then head to the podium when you get a notification your table is ready. In my view, it seems to be contributing to longer lines as dozens of people just stand around the dining room entrance until the app says to go ahead.
Instead of that, I just grabbed a quick bite at the buffet, sat outside, and enjoyed the sea view while I ate. From there it was off to the gym for a quick workout and then back to the cabin to catch up on a little work before the pool.
But back at the cabin was a surprise.
Now, for the most part this trip has been great. But if you’re someone who is particularly picky and likes things perfect, then there might be times that you didn’t like.
Case in point, around Day 3 I noticed that the cabin next to mine — which had “Roll Tide” door decorations — had apparently moved about 10 doors down the hall. I noticed it, but didn’t think much of it.
Also that day, I realized that my cabin had a hint of mildew smell when I came in. After a minute I wouldn’t notice it anymore, so it wasn’t enough to complain to Guest Services. But it was enough that I looked through all my laundry to make sure I didn’t leave a wet swimsuit somewhere. Any time I walked in, the slight smell would be there.
Well, today, two and two were put together. I saw that maintenance was inside the cabin next to mine working when I came back from the gym. Ceiling tiles were down, the bed was moved, and sitting in my cabin working, I hear voices, a hammer pinging, an occasional grinder and then a welder were being used. It seems possible a pipe leaked next door.
The noise went on for at least 45 minutes until I decided to head to the pool. Again, if you’re easy-going it’s no big deal; just head out around the ship until they are done. However, I know some people would have been upset about it.
With the sunny day, the pool deck was hopping. Instead of fighting for a seat, I headed to the back of the ship where there were still plenty of folks, but lots of space. I mentioned earlier that I like more activities on a cruise ship, and just hanging out on a lounger is fine for a bit, but I need some more excitement. So on the last day I made sure to hit the waterslides on the ship. Given that the cruise is sailing just after school started back, I didn’t have to elbow too many small children out of the way for a ride.
From there, it was time for a little sun before hitting up a tasty lunch at BlueIguana.
Now for dessert, I decided to treat myself. I don’t know what it is, but the regular desserts on this cruise just have not done it for me. Apart from some tiramisu the first night, I haven’t found anything that I’ve thought was that good.
But there’s a small coffee shop on the ship (called Rolls Royce), and they have a cooler filled with tons of good-looking stuff for an extra charge. So I opted to try a piece of the chocolate cake in the hopes that paying a little ($2.25 per slice) would be well worth the investment.
Worth it was an understatement. Insanely rich, the five-layer slice was unbelievably good. I felt like a schmuck for not getting a piece every day of the cruise. In fact, despite having a big sweet tooth, I couldn’t even finish it all because it was so sweet. I highly recommend a piece… especially if you have another person to help you tackle it.
The afternoon has slowed down somewhat. As I’ve mentioned, with the smaller ship, there aren’t a lot of things to do around the ship apart from the basics — pool, casino, and drinks. Instead, I’m using the time to pack a bit and get ready for departure so that I don’t have to do it tonight.
There are a couple of things I want to be sure to get in before the cruise ends, including a drink and karaoke in the Chinatown Lounge and tonight’s Motor City production that highlights Motown music.
Update: Just got back from watching the Motown show. Absolutely a hit. Tons of fun and a very talented cast.
Tomorrow morning, it’s time for debarkation and the flight home.
Worth It? Final Thoughts on Cruising Carnival’s Oldest Ship for Cheap
So what’s the bottom line on sailing for just $70 for five days on Carnival’s oldest ship? Worth it? A disaster? Would I do it again if I could?
I will say that coming into this cruise, I had some worries. If you’ve ever seen the movie Vegas Vacation where they visit the off-strip casino to win back Clark Griswold’s money, then you have an idea of what I pictured.
That wasn’t the case here at all. First, let’s start with the ship. It’s old. It’s small. It’s showing some wear and tear. And it’s not on par with the ships built today.
But there is some charm there too. I mentioned on Day 1 that it feels like a time capsule. The decor is very 1990s, and I dig it. If it were my first cruise, I’m not sure what I’d think. But having sailed a lot of different ships, Ecstasy is a fun change of pace that’s different from anything else I’ve sailed.
That said, I think that three or four days is plenty. Five days is getting a bit long. A week-long cruise? I couldn’t do it. There’s simply not enough to do and experience onboard.
But I also come back to the price tag and the things I got to do on this cruise.
For way less than the cost of a plane ticket, I was able to visit the Yucatan. I swam on a private beach in Cozumel. I got to see cenotes that are no less than natural wonders. While the ship is at sea, I was able to view the Milky Way, rainbows, days of sunshine and beautiful dark storm clouds roll across the horizon. I met some great folks. And I ate one hell of a piece of chocolate cake.
In other words, I came in expecting one thing… but got an experience completely different from that. Carnival Ecstasy may not be my first choice for a ship to sail — and it definitely wouldn’t be for everyone — but I’m glad I got the chance to enjoy the experience it all while she is still at sea. I don’t think I’d do it again… but still had a ton of fun.
- Looking through my onboard account summary on the Carnival Hub app, I have a random credit of my account for $5.71 for “Refund Taxes, Fees & Port Expenses.” This isn’t the first time I’ve noticed random refunds or credits on a Carnival cruise. Next time you sail, keep an eye out and you might hit the random money lottery too.
- All you bacon lovers, heads up. In the morning it seems hit or miss if bacon is served. Twice it hasn’t been available, and I’m not sure why. Another time it was. Even if it is available, the staff serves it to keep the waste down. One day I had a random passenger sit by me at breakfast when tables were hard to find. His breakfast? A pile of bacon on a plate… and nothing else. What a king.
- One complaint I have? It’s constantly cold in my room. I’m from Texas. I don’t need a 65-degree cabin. There’s no thermostat in the room, just a big vent in the middle of the ceiling with a knob to open or close it. Even all the way closed, It’s chilly. The best part of the day is heading out to the pool deck first thing in the morning to thaw out.