My family and I escaped winter recently - we traded in our snow boots for flip-flops and headed to the Bahamas on Carnival’s ship Ecstasy.

We chose Charleston, South Carolina as our departure port. We had heard wonderful things

about the city and the port, so we were off to check it out for ourselves. Since we only had a

couple of days before we sailed, we decided to spend a day at Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum and then headed to historic Charleston to check out the great shops and restaurants.

We needed a hotel that would be convenient for a variety of activities, so we chose to stay in Mt. Pleasant at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites. The location was perfect and the hotel offered all the amenities families need (free parking, Wi-Fi, breakfast and a seasonal outdoor pool). It was a quick hop over to the museum and only three miles from the historic downtown.

While our visit to Charleston was lovely, we were truly looking forward to being on the ship. The Ecstasy was to sail out of port for a six-day blissful journey to the Bahamas. When it was time to depart for the ship, we were ready!

The Ecstasy is one of the older ships in Carnival’s fleet. However, we found the ship to be in

great condition and offered many of the amenities that the newer ships have. We enjoyed that it was small enough that we could get to know others on the ship, yet offered some “Fun Ship 2.0” upgrades due to a 2017 renovation. Families will enjoy the on-board water park (including some great slides), family-friendly fun such as Hasbro, The Game Show, mini-golf and more! The Punchliner Comedy Club offered a variety of shows (early evenings for family fun and late evening for adult-only shows).

One of the first things I did after boarding was to take my youngest to Camp Ocean to check out all the fun there. He wasn’t certain he wanted to participate; however, after a couple of visits for special activities, he was hooked. By the end of the cruise, it was he who ended up having the most problem leaving the ship. A great lineup of fun activities, combined with new best friends, made the week incredibly fun for him. Carnival offers programming for children ages 2 to 17.

Adults can enjoy their own time in Serenity – a special area set aside for adults only. There’s

also a number of bars, a casino and adult programming that is available for your down-time.

The ship also offers a number of dining options. We chose the “Your Time Dining” plan for our evening dinners. My family appreciated being able to eat when we felt like it and not being held to a certain time. For those desiring traditional dining, there’s an early and late evening dining choice. For the “Your Time Dining plan”, we enjoyed a buffet each evening (choices varied daily). There’s also Guy’s Burger Joint, 24-hour pizza and ice cream and the Blue Iguana Cantina (I was hooked on their breakfast burritos!).

To make things convenient (and affordable), Carnival offers special plans for drinks (there’s a

soda and alcohol package), as well as premium Wi-Fi. If you plan to drink or need to stay

connected, you’ll definitely want to build these packages into your vacation budget.

Our six-day itinerary looked like this:

Day 1 Depart Charleston

Day 2 At sea (perfect relaxing on deck or getting a massage!)

Day 3 Freeport, Bahamas

Day 4 Half Moon Cay, Bahamas (Carnival’s private island)

Day 5 Nassau, Bahamas

Day 6 At sea

Our favorite port was definitely Half Moon Cay. It’s Carnival’s private island and it’s paradise.

Soft white sands, plenty of deck chairs and a beautiful ocean made for the perfect day. The

hard-working crew at Carnival provides a BBQ lunch so you’re really free stay on the island for the entire day. Those wanting more adventure can check out the variety of shore excursions available.

Carnival offers a variety of shore excursions from walking tours to swimming with dolphins and everything in between for all the ports. Shore excursions are the best way to see the islands and enjoy your time. Carnival takes care of all the logistics so you don’t have to worry about anything! The best plan is to determine early what shore excursions are of interest and then you can plan ahead for your budget.

Salt-water, sand and the sea made for a perfect winter getaway. I didn’t realize just how much we all needed a break until we were on the boat and finally had a chance to unwind and reconnect with each other. And isn’t that truly what a vacation is meant to be.

Rosanna Scott is a guest writer for Fairy Tale Concierge.

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