This was my fourth Carnival cruise and the 3rd on a Fantasy Class ship but it was my first time out of New Orleans. We had a group of 12 that drove down from Nashville overnight on Friday. We rented a 15 passanger van and a trailer. It made for a long ride. We arrived on NOLA about 7:00 am and parked near Bourbon Street. As we entered Bourbon Street a lot of people were just staggering out from the night before. Looked around a bit and had a hurricane at Pat O'Brians. Arrived at the port about 10:30 and the porters were great, right on top of things and helped keep everything organized and moving. Parked the van and waited in line. They started boarding at about 11:30 and by 12:15 we were onboard.
Our rooms were ready at about 1:15 so we all went to freshen up a bit. My wife and I were the only ones to pack bathing suits in our carry on so we changed and went to the lido deck to hang out and take a dip. Everyone else made it back up eventually and we hung out and checked the ship over. Once we were underway everyone headed back to their rooms to change for dinner but no luggage. The luggage did not make it to our rooms until about 5:50. We had about enough time to find a clean shirt and head to dinner.
Carnival managed to get us all at one table which was nice but a move that they may have regretted the night we went into Cozumel. Wait staff was great, no complaints. Food was typical for Carnival, mostly good but not great. Spent the first night kinda bouncing from place to place just to get a feel of things. Found that Simple Friends was the band playing, they were the band on the last Carnival cruise and they are really good. We stepped in to listen to them several times. Since no one had any real sleep the night before we all crashed a bit early.
The second day was sea day. After breakfast we made our way to the deck and hung out on the aft side close to the pool and basketball. I let one of the guys talk me into entering the blackjack tournament at 2:00 so we freshened up and headed to the casino. We were at the 2nd table and both had a good run. They told us the final was at 4:30 and to come back before then to see if we made it. When we went to check we had both made the final. In the final I hit blackjack on the first two hands and the dealer beat the table both times. From there on I just had to make the mimimum bet and I won the tournament. $500 and a trophy, trophy was nice but an extra $500 on a cruise = Party Time!
Had dinner and hit the night club until pretty late.
My wife and I had decided that we were not doing anything in Progresso as we both could use some downtime so we slept in a bit and hung out on the ship while the rest of the group went to an all inclusive resort and beach. Worked out great for both of us. We got the quite time we needed and they all seemed to have a blast at the resort. My wife and I went down to the port for an hour or so to have some cheap beer and wait on everyone else.
We all got off at Cozumel. We hit a couple of the outdoor markets, had some tequila and beer and then went to Senor Frogs followed by Carlos and Charlies, followed by Margaritaville, followed by Senor Frogs by the port. After many beers and tequila shots we made our way back to the ship. Dinner was obviously a bit livelier than normal as you could imagine and a few of the group was in bed quite early but we had a blast. With 12 people you kinda take over most places you go into and at each stop we were singled out for whatever activity was going on, especially if it included tequila shots.
Last day at sea we hung out around the main pool and recovered a bit from the day before. A couple of us never did recover that day but most of us were back in prime form by afternoon. This was the anniversary for one of the couples and they really enjoyed spending it on the cruise. Hit the deck party, enjoyed some decent cigars and made a stop by the casino.
We were staying over for two night in NOLA so we hung out on the ship until the last call to debark. Took 45 minutes or so. Once we were loaded up we went to the hotel and were lucky and got to check in early. Changed and headed to Bourbon Street where we stayed until late or maybe you would call it early. Crazy place. The next night was my wife's birthday. We went to a nice restaurant and back to Bourbon Street. Started raining about 11:30 so it was a short evening, I think everyone was partyed out anyway so no big deal.
Next morning headed back to Nashville.
Seemed to be some sort of curse on our cruise. Three people had to be taken off, one by chopper in the middle of the gulf. That was pretty amazing to watch.
Food as I said was fair to good, seafood seemed to be better than other choices.
Service was OK, when they started pre-charging tips service really dropped off. It wasn't bad but it's not as good as it used to be by far.
Ship was clean and well maintained but showing it's age. Not sure how much longer Carnival is going to run the Fantasy Class ships but they need more time in drydock than they have been getting if they are going to continue running long term.
Casino is not that great even though I was a winner. The odds are greatly reduced at every game. Craps and blackjack are still the best but they are below par from what you will see anywhere else. Video Poker was a joke don't bother. You can't tell about slots but I didn't see too many winners so I'm sure the payback was around 90% compared to the 97% you get anywhere else. Still had a good time playing though.
Caught a few shows and they were OK, didn't see the one on the last night but I heard it was pretty good.
Rum Runners all made to the room, I'm sure someone will ask. Not a single person in our group had theirs taken.