June 4, 2004
Our 3-day cruise on the Ecstacy was our first cruise. I was a little nervous by some of the bad postings I read prior to sailing. We had 4 adults and 3 teens in our party. Everyone had a great time!
We stayed at Best Western Long Beach using the "cruise and stay" package. They give you a shuttle to the port and store your car (secure, underground lot) while you are gone. We did the early check-in on the Queen Mary--very easy and no lines at around 11AM. Around 12:00 we got in the short line for boarding because we did the early check-in. When we boarded around 1PM our rooms were ready. I found the rooms to be very clean. It is an older ship but in quite good repair.
The food was very good in the dining room and at the buffets. The portion sized in the dining room are small, but that's a good thing! There are so many courses for each meal and many choices. You can't leave the table hungry! The pizza bar is wonderful (they will always make a fresh pizza if you ask and there are some great, creative varieties. We never had to wait longer than 7 minutes for a fresh pizza. The ice cream bar is very basic, mostly just soft-serve. We had no problem using the soda cards. All the staff was very friendly and helpful.
Debarking: If you can swing it, do the "self-assist debark" You have to carry your own bags but we were off the ship by 8:20 (debarking started at 8:00! As soon as you get off the ship there are porters to help with the bags.
We all felt that the cruise was a terrific bargain. We spent about $600. per person for the entire trip, including cruise, driving to CA, and 1 hotel night. We are already planning our next Carnival cruise!