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lara_lox

A (no longer Solo!) Fashionista Review of the Carnival Ecstasy

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Hi everyone, me again!

 

First things first, those of you who have been following these tales of mine over the years might be wondering about the title of this thread – yes that’s right, the Solo Fashionista is no more!

 

There’s been a fair few comments over the years asking why I stayed single for so long, and I always said I hadn’t met the right person and wasn’t willing to settle for the wrong one. Well forgive me fellow CCers, because in my last review, of the Sunshine in May, I wasn’t entirely truthful with you…. You are about to see a lot more of a familiar face. One of the stars of my review, my new friend M, actually became much more than that. She (yes she, come on, surely you know to expect a few surprises from me by now!) and I have been in a relationship ever since.

 

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I’ve been travelling back and forth to the States since that cruise to see her, and given that we both love cruising, what better way to celebrate my 30th birthday?! Because we were hugely limited by the dates I was over there, there weren’t many options available, but in the end we chose a 4 night cruise on the Carnival Ecstasy sailing from Miami on December 1st.

 

Now I know some people couldn’t care less about my love life, we’re here to talk cruising, but that’s the point! I cruise by myself. My way, on my time, with no-one else to consider, how would I cope with another person?! I guess you’ll have to keep reading to find out…

 

For those who don’t know me, I’m a 30 year old girl from Manchester, England, and I travel solo. I’m hugely into fashion so all my reviews discuss my outfits and clothing options, because it’s a hot topic amongst cruisers, but rarely do people actually describe or show what they ended up wearing. I also love my food so will talk about what I eat, but no food porn because I’m too busy eating to bother taking pictures! As usual, my posts will be in purple so you know which ones are parts of the review itself. So here goes, I hope you enjoy my latest adventure.

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WOW!! What a GREAT way to start the day-a new review by one of my favorite cruisers. So happy to see you again, and more importantly, CONGRATULATIONS on the new relationship. May you have days of smooth seas ahead. Life is way to short to not share it with someone. My partner and I have been together for 27 years, and recently married in California. Best wishes always-

Trip

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Day 1 – Miami

 

We were driving down from Orlando, where M lives, to Miami. We stopped for a bagel on the way then managed a nice easy drive, making it down there in just under 3 hours. We were so excited for our first proper cruise together that the journey flew by. After seeing a recommendation here on CC, I had pre-booked parking with Safe Cruise Parking right off I95. It was easy to find, except thanks to Google Maps we were looking to the right of the street, not the left, so managed to drive right past it the first time! It was an easy process, and we got straight onto the free shuttle to take us to the ship. The ride to the port took about 10 minutes and we agreed we had made a good choice parking here. For $9 a day it was a lot cheaper than parking at the port itself.

 

 

Our printer had broken so we had no edocs or luggage tags, but we figured that surely we wouldn’t be the only ones and Carnival would sort it for us?! It wasn’t a problem, we just got luggage tags from the porter and wrote our cabin number on. It was about 1pm and the check-in area seemed quiet, it was a very quick process with no lines at all. Even with having to sort our luggage out, it only took us 15 minutes from getting off bus to actually being on the ship!

 

We stopped by our cabin straight away but it wasn’t quite ready yet so we just dropped off our carry-on bags. Waiting for me in our cabin were the first of several lovely gifts; some beautiful flowers from M and a note saying she had also gifted me a cheese plate, to be made at our convenience. (Cheese is my weakness, I can’t get enough of it!) She had been sneaky and made sure my gifts didn’t show up on our online Carnival account, so that they were a surprise for me.

 

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M had cruised on the Ecstasy before with her brother, so had an idea of where everything was. As I had said previously, only the newer Carnival ships really appealed to me, and I wasn’t really expecting much from the Ecstasy, being older and smaller, but I was pleasantly surprised. The décor was far less tacky and garish than I was expecting, and had a good layout. Our first stop was for Miami Vices at the rum bar on deck. We were so happy to be onboard! It was an amazing feeling for me, as usually this is the point where I am looking about for people I might want to hang out, wondering if I will meet anyone and how that will affect my trip. Instead of feeling a little anxious, I was able to fully enjoy every minute and think how lucky we were.

 

I’d now gone far too long without eating, and remembering how much I loved the turkey roll from the deli on the Sunshine, I headed straight there. It was as good as I remembered but M's pastrami was only ok, so she also tried some pasta, veg and salad from the buffet instead. After our food we went for a lie down in our cabin, and very nearly missed the muster drill! Fortunately we made it just in time. Our meeting point was in one of the lounges, where they gave us all the information, before leading us out on deck to where the lifeboats were. I thought this was a good idea, as people were able to sit down and see and hear the crew clearly, rather than spending the whole time stood crammed on deck.

 

We went to explore the ship, then had a cocktail at Serenity, watching the sail away from New York, which made for some good photo opportunities. Another plus point, I didn’t have to find anyone to take photos of me for once!

 

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We returned to our cabin, where our luggage was now waiting and unpacked. Even though our cabin was fairly small, we managed fine and even fitted all my clothes and shoes in, along with M’s! As one of our permitted bottles of carry on wine, we had brought some Prosecco, which we enjoyed on the balcony. The first glass of many! So far it had been the perfect start to our cruise. We got ready, and I wore a cream lace top, blue skinny jeggings, and new strappy snakeskin sandals. I love any opportunity to wear a new pair of shoes!

 

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We had opted for late dining at 8.15pm and so were in the Wind Star dining room. This was one flight of stairs right above our cabin so very handy. We were allocated a table for 2, in a good location, not crammed in next to other people. We had considered asking to share a large table as we are both sociable and like to meet new people, but we were greeted with a largely empty dining room this evening so didn’t bother. Our main waiter Juan Carlos was great, we loved him!

 

I started with the shrimp cocktail, which I found rather bland, followed by a tasty gazpacho, then a tender braised beef brisket that was good but salty. I skipped desert and had the cheese plate. Meh! It was rather disappointing. M had the escargot, she said they were fine but nothing special, then a good broccoli soup. For her entrée of pork she was given a very big chop that was really good, then had an average key lime pie for desert. This was all followed by VILE undrinkable coffee! I know I'm a dreadful coffee snob, so rather picky, but this was really bad and reinforced why I don’t tend to drink the free coffee on cruise ships. I also got the Happy Birthday song from the wait staff, which was very random seeing as it wasn’t my birthday until the end of the cruise haha!

 

That evening it was Ladies Night at 10pm in the club, where ladies got a free glass of champagne. It was good idea to get people there on the first night but it was only a half glass of fizz and not surprisingly, loads of women ha! The club filled up very quickly though. It was rather old music being played though so the party wasn’t really happening. The DJ must have realised this because it suddenly became more r n b and there were lots of songs we loved. We got up to dance and this kicked things off and we managed to fill the dance floor, where we met some fun people. It was also a white party that night but I’m not sure how we were meant to know this as it was the first night and not something I’d heard about beforehand? However, thanks to my cream top I got $1 off our drinks and everyone was given glow sticks to mess about with.

 

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We were drinking vodka cranberry, which was reasonably price and we found Rod, who was a good bartender and looked after us for the rest of the cruise. The music changed again to Latin, which encouraged a lot of the older Latino people to get up and dance in couples. As M is from Puerto Rico, she enjoyed watching this and it reminded her of her mission to teach me Latin dance! But we both suddenly felt really tired so went back to our cabin and made it to bed at a reasonable time of about 12am.

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Day 2 – Key West

 

This morning we had an early start as we were docking in Key West, Fl, but only for the morning. M and I were both now sick with colds, something especially bad for M as she has asthma, so it affects her even worse. I tried to look after her and kept running ahead around the ship, getting her things she needed so she didn’t have to walk and get out of breath, but we weren’t sleeping well as a result. Still, we weren’t going to let a cold get in the way of our cruising fun! We had a quick buffet breakfast, I made myself a bacon bagel, and had some fruit but it was all only ok, just fuel rather than a meal to be enjoyed. We easily walked off the ship with no lines and stopped at one of the kiosks lined up as you left the ship to check where we needed to go. We had prebooked to go parasailing with a company named Fury, who M had used before. I had never parasailed before so was looking forward to the experience. It cost us $44 each but was a little more if you didn’t book in advance and paid on the day. We found the store where we had to check in and sign our disclaimers and it only took a few minutes to get sorted. We wandered round briefly and took some photos whilst we waited for the trip to start.

 

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The Fury staff provided excellent customer service, they were all very friendly. There were only 4 of us on our boat plus Captain Markus and Christina, a great crew.The other people were a sweet Brazilian couple, and because the girl was nervous, we went first so she could she how it worked and decide if she wanted to do it! I really enjoyed it, M and I went up together and stayed there maybe 10 minutes. We were really high, higher than I expected but I felt safe and secure and Markus and Christina had been very thorough when explaining the equipment and safety rules. We had the option to get wet and be dipped in the sea but we declined because it was rather chilly out, especially in the wind, and we didn’t want to get any sicker. Christina takes loads of photos for you and you have the option to buy them on disc for $20, which we did. We were pleased with the experience and would recommend using this company.

 

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After parasailing, which took around an hour in total, we went for a walk around Key West. The map we had gotten seemed to be wrong and was very confusing but we made it to town nonetheless. We stopped by Walgreens for some cold meds then decided to walk to the furthest point. On route, I was enticed into a lovely little café by the smell of delicious coffee. Given that I was shattered, a welcome boost of caffeine was very well received! When we reached the buoy that marks the southernmost point of the US we lined up in order to get our photo with it. We did have to wait a while but once we had we found it, we wanted that picture!

 

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M was determined to have conch fritters whilst we were in Key West so we stopped for a frozen drink and some food at the Southern Most Cafe and Bar on the beach. We got the fritters but we both much preferred the delicious coconut shrimp we ordered as well. The drinks were strong! We didn’t want to rush so we headed back to the port slowly, and it took us about a 30 minute walk. We made it back just on time for all aboard.

 

Back in our cabin I had another gift waiting for me, a bottle of sauvignon blanc, my favourite white wine. I was definitely being spoiled by my baby! The weather still wasn’t great, it was too overcast for sunbathing, so we enjoyed a drink on our balcony for sail away. We also ordered the cheese plate M had bought for me and we spent a lovely afternoon having cheese and wine on the balcony. This cheese plate was amazing! Leagues away from the limp offerings I’d had in the dining room last night, and well worth the money.

 

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Looking forward to the rest of the review, and congratulations on your first non-solo cruise!! So far it looks like a great start for the two of you!

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This evening was Elegant Night. I’d recently bought a new black and gold midi dress so was happy to be showing if off, along with my new shoes form last night. Because we were all dressed up, M and I went round the many different photographers and backdrops to have some formal pictures taken. This did lead to a few awkward comments from one guy in particular, who asked if we were friends, then sisters, when we wanted to pose with our arms around each other. Sisters?! Since when did I acquire a Latino tan lol? Unfortunately none of them turned out right, they all looked very forced and not ‘us’, so we didn’t end up buying any. Still, it was a fun way to spend half an hour before dinner. We took a few photos ourselves before going to the dining room.

 

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Unfortunately at dinner M wasn’t feeling very feeling good so we just had a quick meal before going back to the cabin so she could change. The food tonight was pretty nice, I had stuffed mushrooms, farmer’s salad, then prime rib. The prime rib didn’t look much but was actually very tasty. M tried the pumpkin soup, salad and the everyday steak, which was lovely tender meat. We ordered the Black Forrest cake for desert but it wasn’t great. We wandered around the ship for a while and looked round the shops and photo gallery. I didn’t change because I wanted to get the most of my dress! M started to feel better so we had cocktails at the casino bar, where there was a Latin singer on, which was great because it gave some atmosphere. Some of the bars had a lovely décor but were a little dull. This was also a great place for people watching because it was either side of a hallway, so you could see everyone walking through in their formal outfits. The music finished so we went to the Chinatown lounge, where Karaoke was on. Watching this provided some entertainment for a while, as did my Appletini sliding on condensation on the table with the rocking of the ship, and going everywhere! Ooops…. This is a before shot!

 

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We went to the lounge to watch the comedy shows that were on that evening, a girl then a guy, who were actually a couple. They were both pretty good. Although it was rather late by now we headed to club for some dancing. The music was good and we met some cool people to hang out with. After a while they joined us for late night pizza at the buffet (which is open 24 hours). The pizza was delicious, thin & crispy. We finally made it to bed at about 3am, it had been a long but fun filled day.

 

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Thanks for the comments so far :)

 

M has just pointed out that I put that we sailed away from New York! Obviously I meant Miami...... I've never even been to New York, doh!

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So happy to see another review by my favorite fashionista!! I'm so glad you met someone. You make a very cute couple. I look forward to reading about the rest of your cruise.

 

Love the formal night dress.

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I’ve been travelling back and forth to the States since that cruise to see her, and given that we both love cruising, what better way to celebrate my 30th birthday?! Because we were hugely limited by the dates I was over there, there weren’t many options available, but in the end we chose a 4 night cruise on the Carnival Ecstasy sailing from Miami on December 1st.

 

 

4 days?! Aaaah, so we only get 4 'outfits of the day' this time:D

I wish all the best for your relationship! I think of you as one of my favourite 'authors' and I keep wishing for the new 'book' to come out....and it did, wuhuuuu! All the best on your new relationship, the only comment I have about it is that she'd better leave you enough free time to continue to right your delightful review :)

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This review is great and I have enjoyed your past reviews. You always look gorgeous. Solo cruises are great but enjoying a cruise with someone special in your life is great too. Glad to see you both had a lot of fun. I was on Ecstasy in November 2013 and I had a great time. For a smaller ship it has just about everything. The only thing I missed was no steakhouse but other than that I loved the ship.

 

I look forward to the rest of your review. Thanks for sharing.:cool:

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Another great review, with lots of photos. Love it! :D

 

Congrats on meeting M. Bet you guys Skype alot, must be tough living that far apart.

 

we spent a lovely afternoon having cheese and wine on the balcony.

 

Sometimes the simple things are the best. :)

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Congratulations!

 

I am looking forward to another of your excellent reviews.:)

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Great start to your review!! Glad I read in order - so I have met "M" previously! Thanks for doing all this hard work for us to enjoy!

 

Betty

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I'm loving your review so far, but I can't see any of the photos... They just show up as little icons to indicate there is a photo there, but it's not loading. Is anyone else having the same problem?

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Glad to see another fashionista review minus the solo in the title. Happy to see you found someone special to cruise with. I cruise solo in 2 weeks for the 4th time. I'll have to go to the club even though I'm by myself! You always meet great people in there.

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Loving your review so far! :) I think I've read most of yours. LOVE the black and gold dress. Congrats on not cruising solo any more. Maybe one day my solo cruise days will be over too. :rolleyes: lol

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