We decided to combine this cruise with a road trip, so we went from Texas to Lake Charles on Day 1, then on to New Orleans on Day 2. Spent two nights in New Orleans, what a great experience. First time DW had been there, and we had a wonderful time, walked for miles, had some great food, met some great people. Will definitely go back.
Day 4 we left for Mobile. I was a little worried about the terminal since I had seen some bad press here on the boards. Pulled off the freeway and into the line for the terminal at 1112, and on board the ship at 1240. Very smooth and easy procedure, was very impressed and couldn't help comparing it with Galveston. Didn't realize what was to come.
Up to the lido deck by 1, lunch and the first drink. First impressions of the ship were very favorable, everything clean and shipshape. Bit of rust here and there, a worn tile, but people everywhere cleaning. I did miss the updates on the Ecstasy, the lido deck looked a little bare without the palm trees.
Got to the room about 2. Room was clean, nice size bathroom, but what is this box in the corner of the room? It blocks off the side of the room by the window. The box contains life jackets. I got the side of the bed by the window, got really fed up having to climb over the end of the bed every time I wanted to go to the BR. For someone with mobility problems this is a room to avoid.
I don't think I ever met the steward, but the room was kept clean and there was always ice in the cooler and the ice bucket. The crew that we did meet in the hallways were always polite and pleasant.
We had any time dining, we always asked for a table for two. Your neighbors are always so close that carrying on a conversation is not a problem. First night we get seated right away, every night after that we had to wait for a table, one night it was a 45 minute wait. When we were finally seated that night I noted that over half the tables of the any time section were empty.
The food was always good, never a problem with cold food, and nothing that had to be sent back. I think we only had two teams of waiters in the five nights and they were great. We even tried breakfast in the MDR one morning, very good but way too much food.
Our first day out we were running through what was left of Hurricane Alex, so windy and a little bumpy. The ship had all the open decks closed off, so the lido deck got very crowded. That Hurricane messed around with us the whole cruise, high winds in both ports pretty much killed any water activities, didn't stop us from finding other things to do though.
I did notice the chair hogs were out in force on the lido deck. Did you know you can save four chairs with two flip-flops? One day at 9 I counted one area on the port side of the pool forward of 75 chairs, 16 were occupied, and 45 were empty and marked in some way. By 1 in the afternoon, 24 chairs were occupied and the rest were marked in some way. Carnival needs to do a better job of stopping this.
One other pet peeve I've seen before, there were a lot of children on the ship, I did not see any bad behavior, when they came up to the back bar to get sodas I always heard please and thank you. No problem with anyone playing on the elevators or blocking stairways.
We passed on the big shows in the evening, we did the marriage game and some of the trivia. The guy in the piano bar was excellent and it wasn't too smoky in there. The past guest party was OK.
Our two ports were Cozumel and Calica. We didn't get to snorkel in Cozumel due to the wind, but we went for a walk through the town, did a little shopping and had lunch.
At Calica we did the excursion to Tulum, this was the whole purpose of this cruise. Excellent, and so very glad we we went. It was dreadfully hot and humid but the site is just magnificent. It was about two when we got back to the ship, we had thought about going into Playa del Carmen, but there wasn't time. I was happy to take a cold shower and find a nice waitress to bring me a bucket of beer.
After five very pleasant days it was back to Mobile. Getting off the ship was a disaster. I have been out of Galveston four times and don't have a good opinion of their disembarkation, but it quickly became the good old days.
We didn't do the self assist since DW had a sore shoulder. The first zone for the self assist was called at 0700, and the last was called at 0853. We were in zone 9 so we were called at 0921. Once you get off the ship and into the terminal every thing funnels into one escalator.
When you finally get down the escalator, there are 6 lanes leading up to the customs desks. From the water, the first lane is for the porters, the second is for people needing some kind of assistance, and then there are the other four lines. If you get into the third lane from the water they have an unpleasant surprise, the second lane with the people needing assistance feeds into the third line, with a particularly nasty lady controlling both lines.
There is no air conditioning in the area, the temperature was 88 degrees, and the exhaust from the trucks unloading ship supplies meets with the exhaust from the fork lifts on the dock. After two hours in the line, there were a lot of unhappy cruisers. We were among the last 25 through customs although there were four more boarding groups that came off after us. Just to make this worse, we had problems getting to the truck in the parking garage because we couldn't get through the people coming in to board the ship.
I got out of the parking garage, got to the interstate and did 85 all the way to the state line. I will never cruise out of Mobile again, although that will not stop me going with Carnival, it's back to Galveston for me.