I am Pam (58) and this is my 16th cruise (4th on the Fantasy) and DH’s 13th cruise (3rd on the Fantasy). For both of us, this was like going home. The Fantasy was our very first cruise and we both love her size and the ... Read More
I am Pam (58) and this is my 16th cruise (4th on the Fantasy) and DH’s 13th cruise (3rd on the Fantasy). For both of us, this was like going home. The Fantasy was our very first cruise and we both love her size and the crew. Sailing with us this time are two of our grandchildren, Brayden (7) and his sister, Peyton (6). This is a first cruise for both of them!
Our grandson is on the autism spectrum and has sensory issues. So knowing that we may have to stand outside for muster for 30+ minutes, worried me to no end. I just knew a meltdown was coming (and once a meltdown starts, it takes an act of God for it to stop and for him to be calm). I called the special needs department and was able to arrange muster for us inside, sitting. It will be cool and he won’t be surrounded by hundreds of people. I was even offered a private muster, but I didn’t think we needed to go to that extreme. They put notes in our reservation and then asked about my “health issues”. LOL, I had to think on that one for a minute. I am allergic to peanuts. I have never had any worries while cruising. I just let my wait staff know and I am taken care of. I don’t even think about it much anymore since they do such a good job!!
Problem all solved!! Now time to get excited about our cruise!!
Hotel and Parking
I booked the La Quinta Inn on West I-65 Service Road in South Mobile (about 7 miles or 10 minutes from the port). The room cost me $79 for the night for 2 beds and offered a pool and breakfast the next morning. I prepaid online for parking at the port a couple of weeks before our cruise. The cost was $72.
Total cost for hotel and parking was $151. If you are watching your pennies, this was a great deal. When I checked the Hampton Inn, it was over $190 to sleep, park and cruise.
Now, onto the review!!
Weds, May 23
We live in Tennessee, so we drove down the day before our cruise. We left Memphis at 630am and drove to Jackson, TN to pick up the kids. Once on the road, it took us about 7 hours to get to our hotel in Mobile after stopping for lunch and bathroom breaks.
We found the La Quinta pretty easily and got checked in. Our room was clean and close to Cracker Barrel for dinner, WalMart for last minute shopping and Target for my hubby to get a few items that WalMart didn’t have. After shopping, it was back to the hotel for baths, showers and a good night sleep for the big day tomorrow.
Thursday, May 24
CRUISE DAY!!! We actually slept in a bit and were all up around 7am. (To be honest, I think the kids woke up sooner but just laid there until one of us stirred and then they started giggling with excitement!!) We had a decent continental breakfast and then packed up the car and headed out. We were way too early… haha. Our poor grandkids saw the whale tail as we rounded the corner and both started clapping and woo hooing!!!! We went to the port and asked what time we could enter the parking structure and were told 1015, so we took the kids to the USS Alabama and walked around there for a while. They weren’t too unhappy. They enjoyed looking at the planes and helicopters.
NOTE: If you are cruising out of Mobile and want to visit the USS Alabama, have your boarding passes handy. We got to park for free and they give other discounts for the tours.
We got back to the port around 10am and got in line (we were 3rd in line) and waited. And waited. Finally around 1030, we were able to pull in and drop our luggage and park. We pulled up to level 2 and parked right there at the elevator doors. SCORE!! Loved being that close after we disembarked.
We walked in and showed our passports and the kids birth certificates. They asked me how we were related and I told the lady we were their grandparents. She then asked if we had a letter allowing us to take them on the cruise and asked to see it. NOTE: To all of you who are cruising with your grandkids or someone else’s child, please get the notarized letter allowing you to take them out of the country and to seek medical attention should it be necessary. I have read where people say they didn’t need it. This is our third cruise and this is the third time they have asked for it. Why take the chance of not having it?
From the time we pulled into the port at 1030, it took less than an hour to board. They were calling FTTF at 1120. Once onboard, hubby took the kids to sit for a minute while I spoke to Guest Services about Muster. Florita was wonderful. She gave me her card and asked that we come back at 230 and they would take care of us. We then headed to our cabin. We had cabin U159 and our room steward was Pande. HE WAS WONDERFUL!!! He kept our room clean and our ice full. He had extra work with us with the 2 kids, so I ended up giving him an extra $$$ for his trouble. Believe me, he earned it!!
We went up to the Lido to have lunch and at 230 we went down to Guest Services and asked for Florita. She came right out and took us to our Muster Station and gave us our own private safety drill. After it was over, Brayden and I headed to the cabin while Papa and Peyton went with Florita to Guest Services to get wrist bands for the kids. Our luggage arrived, so while everyone was out doing the safety drill, we were unpacking and explaining all the horns. Muster could not have gone better for us. We started off the cruise on a good note and NO meltdown!! Sailaway was around 430-5. We were up on the top deck so the kids could see we were leaving.
We had early dining, so at 6pm we went to the main dining room where we met our server for the cruise, George. He was great! They took care of the kids first and then us. Our food was consistently warm and good. No complaints at all!!
That night, we checked the kids into kids camp. Because our grandson is special needs, we were given a phone just in case he needed us. And off to the casino we went. We are BAD grandparents. The casino was loud and there was music and hubby had the phone and didn’t think to check it. Around 930pm, he pulled out the phone and realized he had missed several calls from them. He got up there and got scolded (rightfully so). Brayden didn’t have a meltdown, but he was crying from seeing lightening in the distance (storms scare him). Once Papa was there and he had an ice cream in hand, all was forgiven and everyone was happy. That didn’t happen again!
Friday, May 25
Sea Day!!! We woke up to room service and then headed up to the buffet for breakfast. Sent the kids to camp again (they loved it there) and hubby and I went to play trivia and play in the casino. At noon, we got the kids, got in our suits and went for lunch and Splash Pad time! The kids loved playing in the water. Got another ice cream for the road and headed back to our cabin to get ready for elegant night.
This is when we heard the announcements that we would not be going to Cozumel the next day. Due to Tropical Storm Alberto, we were being diverted to Progresso. We weren’t real upset, but we weren’t happy either. We were looking forward to our kids first trip to the beach. We figured if we couldn’t get to a beach, we would get off the ship and do some shopping and then back on the ship and let the kids play at the Splash Pad.
We had dinner in the dining room again (each night) and then got pictures of the kids. We took the kids back to camp and hubby and I went to a show and the casino for a bit. After getting the kids from camp, it was off to the lido deck for the last ice cream of the night and then off to bed for our big beach day tomorrow (hopefully)!
Saturday, May 26
This morning, we took our time getting off the ship to try to bypass the lines for the shuttle. We didn’t succeed, although the line moved pretty quickly. We took the shuttle into town and after a little bit of shopping (shirts for the kids), we walked the 2 blocks to the public beach. We found a shaded table and when the waiter came he asked how many. I told him 4, but should have told him 2. The kids never stayed at the table. He charged me $30 for the table which came with a plate of chips and salsa. We ordered soda and bottled water also. The few hours we were there ended up costing me about $60. The kids LOVED it!! They loved the beach, the loved the water and they loved the sand.
We walked back to catch the shuttle and were back on the ship by 1 or so. We let the kids play in the Splash Pad area for a while and then went to the cabin to clean up for Build a Bear and dinner. They were both so excited about getting to pick out their bears and a shirt for each bear. There were teenagers there also and I think the big kids were just as excited as the little kids… LOL!!
After dinner, we skipped kids camp because the kids were so tired. Greg took them back to the cabin while I went to spend some time with my friends. I got back to the cabin and both kids were passed out, so I relieved him so he could go see a show or play in the casino. It was an early night for all of us.
Sunday, May 27
Our last sea day. We met up with friends at the Dr Seuss breakfast. The kids loved it. My picky kids actually ate green eggs and ham! They loved the characters and loved getting their pictures taken with them!! After breakfast it was back to kids camp so I could start repacking. We were doing self assist the next morning and I wanted everything ready to go by bedtime so all I had to do was get them up and dressed in the morning. That didn’t work… LOL.
After lunch, we walked around the ship shopped some, looked at pictures, etc. We went to the cabin for some quiet time for all of us and changed for dinner. Dinner was wonderful as always and our waiter, George, was great!! He really took care of the kids as well as us. We thanked him for everything and gave him a tip above what we had already tipped because he really deserved it. We said our good byes to our waitstaff and to our friends and headed out for the evening. We took the kids to camp and after some time in the casino, headed back to the cabin to finish up packing. I called Pande, our room steward and asked him to come see me for a moment. Once there, we thanked him for all his hard work for us and gave him an additional tip as well for all his hard work on our behalf!
By the way, this is when we ran into “Alberto”. We rocked and rolled and it rained and rained. The Capt had done a GREAT job of keeping us safe and out of harms way during the storm, but we had to head back to Mobile, so that meant we had to sail into the storm.
We got the kids from camp, got final ice creams and headed off to bed for an early wake up call.
Monday, May 28
We woke up around 7am already back in port. We got the kids up and dressed and Greg took them up to the lido deck for breakfast so I could get dressed and pack all of our last minute items. Since we were doing self assist, we headed right down and got in line. It didn’t take long until we were at our car and heading home.
We truly love the Fantasy (even though she is old) and would love it if Carnival would build some of the smaller ships again. We love her size and we love her staff. Each cruise on her has been leaving us with wanting more. Read Less