(Live Blog Day 5) Cruise for $14 a day on Carnival’s oldest ship: Last Day. Would I do it again? !
Note: I am currently on a 5-day Mexican cruise aboard Carnival’s oldest ship, Carnival Ecstasy, a trip that costs only $14 per day in cruise fare. Every day I cover the experience, giving you a taste of what it’s like to sail on this trip.
You can see the other days here:
For one of its last times, Carnival Ecstasy is on its way back to Mobile, Alabama. After more than 30 years of cruising, the ship still has about six weeks of sailing before leaving the fleet.
As this trip draws to a close, knowing that I am on a ship that has literally carried millions of passengers on cruises around the world… and that I will no longer do so… is a little strange to think about. There are so many things I’d love to take off the walls in remembrance of, but I don’t think Carnival looks too kindly on that.
Instead, enjoying one more day at sea is my parting gift. Fortunately, the weather was ideal to enjoy it. Calm seas, a few clouds here and there and lots of sunshine.
I had planned to have the Sea Day Brunch in the dining room, but changed plans when I saw the line. Carnival asks everyone to “check in” for a table in the dining room on the app, then head to the podium when you get a notification your table is ready. In my opinion, this seems to contribute to long queues as dozens of people just hang around the entrance to the dining area until the app says go ahead.
Instead I just grabbed a quick bite from the buffet, sat outside and enjoyed the sea view while I ate. From there it was off to the gym for a quick workout, then back to the cabin to catch up on some work before the pool.
But back at the cabin, it was a surprise.
Now, for the most part, this trip has been great. But if you’re someone who’s particularly picky and likes things perfect, there may be times you don’t.
For example, around day three, 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 I didn’t give it much thought.
Also that day, I realized that my cabin had a slight musty smell when I entered. After a minute, I didn’t notice it anymore, so complaining to customer service was not enough. But all I had to do was look through all my laundry to make sure I hadn’t left a wet bathing suit somewhere. Every time I walked in, the faint smell was there.
Well, today two and two have been put together. I saw maintenance was inside the booth next to mine when I came back from the gym. Ceiling tiles had fallen off, bed moved and sat in my cubicle working, I hear voices, hammering noise, occasional grinder and then welder were in use. It seems possible that a pipe leaked nearby.
The noise lasted at least 45 minutes until I decided to go swimming. Again, if you’re easy going, that’s okay; just walk around the ship until they’re done. However, I know some people would have been upset about it.
With the sunny day, the pool deck was bouncing. Instead of fighting for a seat, I headed to the back of the ship where it was still crowded, but plenty of space. I mentioned earlier that I like more activities on a cruise ship, and just hanging out on a lounge chair is fine for a bit, but I need more excitement. So on the last day I made sure to hit the slides on the boat. Since the cruise sails right after school starts, I didn’t have to push too many young children out of the way for a ride.
From there, it was time to catch some sun before tackling a delicious 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 didn’t do it for me. Other than a few tiramisu on the first night, I couldn’t find anything that tasted as good.
But there’s a little cafe on the ship (called Rolls Royce), and they have a cooler full of tons of nice stuff for an extra charge. So I opted to try a piece of chocolate cake in the hope that paying a little ($2.25 per slice) would be well worth the investment.
It was worth it that was an understatement. Incredibly rich, the five-layer slice was amazingly good. I felt like a schmuck for not having a daily piece of the cruise. In fact, despite my big sweet tooth, I couldn’t even finish everything it was so sweet. I highly recommend a play…especially if you have another person to help you approach it.
The afternoon slowed down a bit. As I mentioned, with the smaller ship, there’s not a whole lot to do around the ship other than the basics – pool, casino, and drinks. Instead, I use the time to pack and get ready for departure so I don’t have to do that tonight.
There are a few things I want to make sure I get before the cruise ends, including a drink and karaoke in the Chinatown lounge and tonight’s Motor City production that showcases Motown music.
Update: I just got home from watching the Motown show. Absolutely a success. Tons of fun and a very talented cast.
Tomorrow morning is time for disembarkation and the return flight.
Worth it? Final Thoughts on Carnival’s Oldest Low-Cost Cruise Ship
So what’s the point of 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 going into this cruise, I had some concerns. If you’ve ever seen the movie Vegas Vacation where they visit the out-of-band casino to win back Clark Griswold’s money, then you have an idea of what I imagined.
This was not at all the case here. Let’s start with the ship first. It’s old. It is little. It shows some wear. And that’s no match for the ships being built today.
But there is also charm there. I mentioned on Day 1 that it felt like a time capsule. The decor is very 1990s, and I dig it. If this was my first cruise, I don’t know what I would think. But having sailed on many different ships, the Ecstasy is a fun change of pace that is unlike anything I have sailed.
That said, I think three or four days is more than enough. Five days is a bit long. A week-long cruise? I couldn’t do it. There just aren’t enough things to do and experience on board.
But I also come back to the price and the things I was able to do on this cruise.
For much less than a plane ticket, I was able to visit the Yucatan. I swam at a private beach in Cozumel. I was able to see cenotes which are nothing less than natural wonders. While the ship is at sea, I could see the Milky Way, rainbows, sunny days and beautiful dark storm clouds rolling in on the horizon. I met great people. And I ate a hell of a piece of chocolate cake.
In other words, I arrived expecting one thing…but had a completely different experience than that. Carnival Ecstasy may not be my first choice for a ship to sail – and it certainly wouldn’t be for everyone – but I’m glad I had a chance to enjoy the experience while still in sea. I don’t think I would do it again…but I still had a lot of fun.
- Going through my onboard account summary on the Carnival Hub app, I have a random credit to my account of $5.71 for “Refund Port Taxes, Fees and Expenses”. This isn’t the first time I’ve noticed random refunds or credits on a Carnival cruise. Next time you’re browsing, keep an eye out and you might as well enter the random lottery.
- Attention all bacon lovers. In the morning it seems hit and miss if bacon is served. Twice he was not available, and I don’t know why. It was another time. Even if it is available, the staff uses it to limit waste. I once had a random passenger sitting next to me at breakfast when tables were hard to find. His breakfast ? A pile of bacon on a plate… and nothing else. What a king.
- A complaint I have? It’s constantly cold in my room. I’m from Texas. I don’t need a 65 degree cab. There is no thermostat in the room, just a large vent in the middle of the ceiling with a button to open or close it. Even when everything is closed, it’s cool. The best part of the day is heading to the pool deck first thing in the morning to thaw.
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