I wanted to spend my 65th birthday on a beach in Mexico, so we booked this cruise on the Fantasy. We embarked in Mobile, which is close to home, and drove down the day before the cruise from Atlanta. Minus our mandatory stop at Cracker ... Read More
I wanted to spend my 65th birthday on a beach in Mexico, so we booked this cruise on the Fantasy. We embarked in Mobile, which is close to home, and drove down the day before the cruise from Atlanta. Minus our mandatory stop at Cracker Barrel and a gas stop, it took about 5 hours. The night before the cruise we stayed at the Microtel in Saraland. They offer a great park and cruise package with breakfast all for a reasonable price. The hotel is in walking distance of three major restaurant chains, so dinner can be in any budget zone. After a good night's sleep on a great bed, we got up, repacked, had breakfast and then at 10:30 were "vanned" over to the port.
Apparently there was a medical emergency disembarking which held us up a bit getting on the ship, but no problem, we are on vacation. Embarking was easy, and we were on board by 11:45, and since we finally made platinum, got to go to our cabin.
We love to cruise, but money is tight, so to get a window, we book Interior Porthole. This cruise we had a porthole on the Empress level, close to the action, in the front of the ship. Downside? If the ship is rocking you will feel it here more than being in the center. The upside? Portholes are only for two people, so the running kids in the hall end before you get to that section. The cabin size is good, the service excellent, and our towel animals were a hoot! The shower was a good size, the only thing wrong was an odd smell, that we finally figured out was the shower water when you first turn on the water. So, not a problem in the long run. We don't spend a lot of time in our cabin, because there is so much to do on the ship.
When we cruise, we dine like Hobbits, there is always second breakfast, lunch, tea time, and dinner. I know there is a late night buffet, but we haven't made it to that for years. We had only two situations in the dining room that were disappointing, over cooked fish, which the wait staff easily remedied, and one breakfast that was delivered in reverse of how we ordered-which you cant fix, but all the meals were tasty, and delicious. We had anytime dining, the first night, we went early- and there was no wait at all. There was a 30 minute wait on Elegant night-we went at 7:30, and on our last night we went at 7:45, and was told there would be a 30 minute wait, which turned out to be 5 minutes. Breakfasts were great in the MDR, and on our last day at sea, they introduced a new brunch menu, with about 12 new items that were extra. Lobster Eggs Benedict? Peel and eat shrimp? Interesting, but I don't want to pay more for breakfast. Steak and Eggs is still my favorite breakfast. (second breakfast after banana nut bread and coffee on the Lido).
We are really kids in adult old bodies, so after we donated to the casino, we enjoyed Make it with Michaels (think Camp Art) something that you make in an hour, and can take home with you as a souvenir. We don't do the art auctions, but we did participate in the Art scavenger hunt-do this as a family, it was fun, and more eyes on your team help. We got involved with Trivia pursuit, saw the new Universe Lounge Country show, and enjoyed the Comedy Club. We also enjoyed just simply relaxing on the Verandah level.
We love the back of the ship, where there is no noise, but the sound of the wind, the water and the children playing on the water slides.
One thing that we really enjoyed on this cruise, was that the Lido deck was not a blast of music in the mornings, It was quiet until noon. Wonderful to walk up in the morning to the sound of surf and wind. !! And for all who missed the Caribbean sound of the steel drums, well, this is the ship for you, every day, either on deck, or by the casino bar. In the Atrium Lounge there was a great country singer, and by the casino once in a while was a great guitar player-played a great Eric Clapton style.
Hats off to all of the folks who work on the ship! Everyone was excellent, friendly and helpful! Alina, our MDR hostess remembered us from our last cruise, as did the assistant cabin steward, Nina. It's so nice to get a hug, and a Welcome home! The folks at the Guest services were incredible. BUT to families with kids, Camp Carnival is their care takers, not the cleaning staff. Tell your children that if they push every button on the elevators the elevator monster will come get them!
In Cozumel we enjoyed a day at the beach on Isla Pasion. It was my birthday, and I spent it at the beach! The staff bent over backwards to accommodate my DH's walking disabilities-the catamaran ride to the island gives you a great land view of the main city on Cozumel, and while it was a bit too cool to swim (I was the only adult to get in the water ) we do plan to go back to this fantastic destination. This excursion includes drinks and lunch but lunch is a bit bland and lacked in variety.
We did not do an excursion in Costa Maya, which since we are not big shoppers was a mistake. Get out there in the jungle, it will do you good. BUT if you like to shop, this is a great port, they will barter with you (which I never see in Cozumel or Progresso), and everything that is not the norm is well priced.
We hated to get off the ship to come home, but all trips must end sometime, so you can come home and plan another one. Disembarking is always a cluster, but at least this time I can honestly say, it was not due to folks who owed on their sail and sign cards- it was every one wanting to take off their own luggage. But we did get off, called our hotel (again they were fantastic) and after only one Cracker Barrel stop, we were home by 4.
Would I do it again? Yup! DH wants to spend his birthday next year at Isla Pasion! Read Less