This cruise was a last minute decision. It was either rent a condo on the beach or take a five day cruise. With no groceries to buy, no cooking and cleaning, no beds to make, and no towels to wash and dry, my wife voted for the cruise; I wholeheartedly agreed. We spent the night before the cruise at the Renaissance Riverview hotel across from the port. The Cruise& Park rate including tax is $167. This includes free parking for the length of the cruise and a van to take you to the port and return you to the hotel. If you park at the port, it will cost $20/day. So, that makes the room at the hotel $67/night.
Now to the cruise: Embarkation was quick; once the long train that blocked the access to the port had cleared and the Customs officials could get to the port to disembark the previous cruisers. This delayed us about an hour; but the shuttle from the hotel waited for the train to move and then took us over. Once in the terminal, checking in was quick. A tip: if you have a carry-on and are not Platinum or above, you may have to roll it around while you eat lunch. Or you may opt for only carrying the valuables and essentials in a small backpack or for the ladies, a small beach bag until you can drop them off in your cabin..
The ship is OLD. That being said, she looked pretty good for her age. She had a few wrinkles of rust showing. Once onboard, the atrium, the hallways, the dining rooms, the pool and hot tubs and the lido deck in general showed that the interior had been updated.
Our cabin was a sea view on the Main deck. The carpet and the furniture had no signs of wear and the bed was quite comfortable. Our steward, Muz was very efficient and pleasant. We asked for ice on the first day and the bucket was refreshed each day.
The food: The food in the buffet was fine. If you want eggs that are real eggs, go to the Omelet Station (After breakfast, it becomes the Deli). For the remainder of choices for breakfast, if you can't find something appealing, you probably shouldn't be eating breakfast in the buffet. For lunch, the buffet has hot entrees, salads, and desserts. Additionally there are self-serve ice cream and frozen yogurt machines in the buffet. Out by the pool, there is a Guy Fieri's hamburger station on the starboard side, a mini buffet in the center, and a burrito/taco station on the port side. The burgers and fries were wonderful as were the burritos.
Most surprising to my wife and I was the food in the main dining room. Rarely have we eaten every dinner in there on any ship or any cruise. However, the menu was so appealing that we dressed appropriately to be presentable for admission. My wife commented that it was worth the effort to have the food served rather than wander around the buffet looking for an entrée and sides. We found the food rivaling that on Princess, Royal Caribbean, and other Carnival ships. We have cruised forty-two times, mostly on Royal Caribbean and Carnival; so I believe that we can make this statement fairly objectively. As for the service, it too was top notch. Our servers were from Jamaica and Indonesia and they were two of the most attentive waitstaff that we have encountered. We chose Anytime dining and had to wait to be seat a few times; never more than 15 minutes.
The Serenity section on the stern of the ship is quiet and reserved for adults The only downside is the lack of a pool and being blocked from a breeze by the upper decks.
The spa is typical of all ships. Variety of services and products; all with a premium price.
The Gym isn't Golds, but one can still find enough equipment to work out.
Lastly, a few negatives. We never saw the captain; not walking around on the Lido nor
be present at the reception for the Platinum and Diamond cruisers. The cruise director was not great by any means. She tried but did not give off a warm and fuzzy feeling to the passengers. She also made her announcement that must have had the PA system at maximum volume. There were a LOT of cruisers with their hands over their ears to keep the ear drums intact. Finally, the shows in the main theatre were, at best lacking. Including towel animals in the production did not impress the adults. Several left within ten minutes of the show beginning.
In conclusion, if you want a luxury cruise with a lot of bells and whistles, this ain't it.
If you want an inexpensive cruise with a friendly and helpful crew, wonderful food, and great service, I recommend it. It IS an old ship; the oldest in the fleet, but it still suitably maintains its aesthetics and a super crew.
Reviewed in the body of the main review.
Mobile is continuing to upgrade it downtown appeal to travelers. The parks are clean. There have been new restaurants and bars opened. The original Wentzel's Oyster House on Dauphin Street has great and fresh seafood. From 3-6, beer and drinks are half price and there are appetizers for $5.99. There are other Wentzel's location, but none compare to the one downtown.
The port was built by the cruise lines and is very similar to other ports; shops, pharmacies, and restaurants. However, there is a huge pool with a swim up bar, a dolphin swim area and a few instances of entertainment. If you opt not to partake of the pool or the shopping, take the shuttle or taxi to the town of Majhual. Before the hurricane hit a few years back, it was a small fishing village with few restaurants and a hotel for any tourists who knew about it. It has less of that small village atmosphere with the addition of more restaurants and hotels but you can still enjoy the peace and friendly locals. You can sit by the water at a table and umbrella and be served drinks ad food from the restaurants and, for those wanting a massage, they are available and much less expensive than on the ship.
Extensive shopping for liquor and souvenirs at the port. At the far end of the shopping area is a restaurant called Poncho's Backyard. Good variety of Mexican food and great cold Margaritas. The service is great. If this is your first visit to Cozumel, you may want to take a taxi downtown to shop, eat or just walk around. Other options we have tried are Paradise Beach ($3.00 entry fee) and Mr. Sancho's ($50 entry) that is all inclusive of food and drink for all you can consume.