Smooth! If you're driving to the Mobile Alabama port get there early. We arrived one hour prior to our "scheduled" time and got one of the very last parking spots. Upon pulling up to the garage you'll be directed to one of several lanes where the baggage handlers will collect the bags you don't want to carry on. Make sure your luggage is clearly marked with your stateroom printout tags. Then it's straight on to park. Traversing security you'll find the metal detectors are very sensitive (good). Getting through security was a breeze, about 20 minutes between parking and stepping on board. If you're waiting for your stateroom to be ready, one option is to grab lunch at the Lido Deck buffet (10) It will be busy.
Ship experiences – food and drink
Guy's burgers is awesome! I could eat there for every meal. The buffets are average. The dining room was very inconsistent. Two meals were good, one was fantastic and two were terrible. Of the terrible ones, the stuffed palermo was grossly under cooked, and a seafood plate of calamari, scallops and shrimp had all of three small pieces of each seafood with a huge serving of noodles making it hard to even find the tiny morsels. Breakfast in the dining room is great. The "your time dining" was really a "stand in line for a pager, then wait a half hour for a table dining."
The main pool is good, get there early if you want a lounge chair. The water slide was enjoyable even for this 50+ year old :-)
Pauly, the Cruise Director is amazing. Non-stop energy and charisma. The main stage show was pretty good, the comedy show was great especially since the comedian stayed away from politics. So tired of that. The piano bar was disappointing compared to Zack Daniels on the Carnival dream a few months ago.
Service and staff
Service was very good. Budi - our room steward was awesome. Dining was good, and the bartenders tried very hard to keep up. Carnival needs to hire more. They shifts they make them work are to long. The bartenders try so hard to be "up" but you can tell they are exhausted.
Ship Design & Cleanliness
She's carnivals oldest, and it shows. The layout doesn't flow like the newer ships and causes congestion. The shopping area seems almost as an afterthought kind of jammed into the front of the ship right by the main theater. There were constant problems with the elevators. Both atrium elevators were out of service for most of the cruise, and occasionally one of the four remaining forward elevators would be down. When underway there's an oscillation you can feel, presumably from the propellers. It’s a shaking sensation, clearly not the gentle rocking from the waves. It’s quite strong in some areas of the ship, to the point of being annoying. Overall cleanliness is good, the public area bathrooms could be kept cleaner and maintained better. One of the men's rooms sinks on the eighth floor only had scalding hot water.
The cabin was big enough, the bed was two twins jammed together to make a king. It was reasonably comfy. We discovered there are a select few cabins labeled "inside" which are really outside cabins with two portholes. Score! Cabin with a view for an inside price :-). The bathroom was clean and reasonably big. The handle on the sink was broken, they promptly fixed it for us.
If you're there during Crawfish season, or just dig craft beers and cocktails check out Haberdasher, 113 Dauphin St. in downtown Mobile. During crawfish season they have a free feed with a beverage purchase on Sundays.
Commercialized. You must walk through a "mall" filled with motivated sales people before you get off the dock. Get a very good 1hr massage for $25 - $40 U.S. in the shopping area across the street from the port. Fantastic Scuba diving! Really fantastic. Need more time in port here. Call for all to be onboard was 3:30pm.
Progreso is small, extending just a few blocks south of the water and 5 or 6 miles east/west following the shoreline. The dock is connected to the mainland by a 7km, 4.5ish mile pier. Buses run every 10-20 minutes, and the 15-20 minute ride from the dock will drop you off just a block and a half from the beach.
There are many souvenir stores just as you step off the dock before you can get on the bus. same shtick as the mall on the dock in Cozumel. We scurried through these as we knew we'd have to walk back through them before you can get back on ship. We found better deals in town.
Had fun walking around and visiting with the locals. Get a massage on the beach or elsewhere for $25 U.S. The beach is beautiful with food and drink service to the beach from Los Henequenes restaurant and bar just across the street. Wish we had more port time here. The ship was back underway by 4pm.
A video review is in the works and upon completion I'll post a link to it, if Cruise Critic will let me update this review.
Great cruise for the money. To a degree we lucked out because the weather was fantastic, and sailing was very smooth. Cozumel is very commercialized. I'm a Scuba Diver and diving there is fantastic. Progreso was interesting, much less touristy, although something tells me that's going to change. Fun shopping for trinkets and haggling over prices. A real old Mexico atmosphere, yet we still felt safe.
We enjoyed this cruise, however if one gets impatient easily it may not be the best choice. The Fantasy is showing her age, and clearly needs some maintenance. Its congested, especially the pool on the lido deck on sea days and the dining room line can wrap around the atrium. The crew, both officers and front line, are friendly and work very hard to make up for some of the ships shortcomings. I've been on much more luxurious vacations and ships, but for the money this is hard to beat. Especially if you don't mind using the stairs once in a while.
It was clean, quiet, and the bathroom and shower were big enough to not feel claustrophobic. We were able to get a porthole cabin at the inside price. Like most cruise ships, it's short on power receptacles so consider bringing a power strip (non surge protection type). The bed was comfy, linens were crisp, carpet was clean. The drawer slides are a bit worn.
Cozumel scuba diving is extraordinary! This was a two tank certified dive. The dive master and boat operators are very good.
Had a blast just walking around, people watching, and having a beverage at the bar across the street from the beach. Lots of little shops. Negotiate. $25.00 U.S. 1 hour massages available on the beach and next to the bus stop.