Just returned from a 5 day out of Mobile, AL on the Fantasy. Sixth Carnival cruise. Have sailed the Ecstasy twice, both of which were western Caribbean 5 day as well. While both boats are Fantasy class, this trip was markedly sub par in comparison.
First, traffic into the terminal was horrendous. the police had all vehicles form a SINGLE line into the terminal. 2000 passengers! The wait in line was approx 90 minutes. Then, the ticket booth computer malfunctioned, so there was another line waiting to get into port parking, as each bill had to be hand fed by an attendant, sometimes repeatedly. The upside was that by the time we parked and got into the terminal, there was no line at the counter. Actual check-in was a breeze.
As always, the crew are some of the hardest working individuals you will ever see. You are always met with a smile, and no request is too large or too small. God love 'em.
Food service presented several disappointments. We usually order coffee and bagels via room service to get the day started. Tuesday, the order was incomplete. Wednesday, the food was right, but no silverware was delivered. For Thursday, there were no order forms, so we ditched the idea. Upside, the orders were wrong, but prompt!
We tried the "your time" dinner seating this trip, as there was only the two of us. The flexibility of dining any time from 5:30-9:00 was great. We sat at a table for two a couple of nights, and shared a table other nights. Upside was meeting new people each night. Downside was not building a rapport with the same waitstaff each night. It almost felt like the "your timers" were an afterthought. Food served was lukewarm at best. Waiters were less attentive to small things like refilling water glasses, or offering coffee with dessert. Very little casual conversation. Menu was pretty much the same as all previous trips.
Entertainment quality also seemed lacking this time. Previous cruises had reggae bands, steel drum performers, and dj's playing upbeat "cruise" music. This one offered up a duo of performers who tried to harmonize, but sounded like a contestant in the Karaoke lounge. Next was a fellow who played keyboards, and sang the same tunes he performed in the lounge. Easy listening ballads. Perfect for catching a nap while on the Lido deck. To round out the fare was a guitarist who had an accompaniment track that he could not keep up with. Almost always a beat or so behind. When he played without the track, he showed talent, so maybe it was the acoustics. Stage shows were of the same caliber as we've seen previously. Nothing fancy, but the kids work hard to entertain.
Ports of call were Coz and Calica. It was our first time back since just after Wilma, and both places look great. The Mexican/Mayan people have worked hard to return the sites to their former appearance, and many improvements were implemented. Carnival still pushes specific shops like DI, Del Sol, and others. Shopping is fun if you enjoy the negotiation process. Bargains can be had, though a good deal is in the mind of the buyer. If you think you got a bargain, then you did!
This was our forth trip to Coz, and we finally made time to dine at Pancho's Backyard. Excellent! Food was tasty,the Salsa was fresh, and the beer was cold.
Didn't make it to the beach at Coz, as it was cool and rainy most of the day. Spent the day at the beach in Playa del Carmen. Rented lounge chairs on the beach. These are owned by the various bars along the beach, and prices range from $10 per chair/day to free if you order food and drinks. Advice...walk the range of beach your interested in, taking in all the offers. Then pick a spot and negotiate the lowest price.
Best "beach day" was our last day at sea. Sunny and calm. Hung out on the Serenity deck and enjoyed a relaxing view of the gulf.
All in all, probably my least favorite of the cruises we've been on. That said, any day cruising is better than a day at work!!