First, it's a shame Carnival is leaving Mobile! It is such an easy place to get around and everyone is so friendly there. Hopefully someone else will move a ship there and the city can continue to show its friendly southern hospitality. This review will be long but we want to give you all as many details as possible.
We went down two days early and stayed at the Microtel Saraland. It was more than adequate for us and being able to leave the car there while we cruised was nice. Saraland is only about ten miles from Mobile and there's a Super Wal-Mart along with some restaurants very close by. We had dinner at Wintzell's Oyster House (the original on Dauphin St in Downtown Mobile) and it was excellent in terms of both food and atmosphere. On Sunday we took the 45 minute drive to Dauphin Island for the day and enjoyed a nearly desolate beach where we found several large shells and saw plenty of stingrays and jellyfish. It was the closest thing to a deserted island that either of us had ever experienced. We ate dinner that night at Beaudeans just across the bridge (Mobile side) of Dauphin Island. It was "ok" but nothing to write home about.
We were in R31 which had two portholes. The decor is a bit dated but the room was very clean and spacious. Near the front of the ship we could often hear waves hitting the bow of the ship which makes a loud BANG and then see the spray through our portholes. We did have 10' seas at times. There were some minor cosmetic things such as a strip of laminate chipped on the side of the desk and etc but all in all great cabin with plenty of storage.
We booked Nachi Cocum online. It's an all inclusive resort about ten miles from the ship that limits it's customers to 100 per day. Well worth the money (around $100 total for two) and includes all drinks and food. Super nice place, very friendly staff. Would go back most definitely.
We did this port on our own. Took a cab to town and booked a snorkel trip for a couple of hours. Did some shopping and Senor Frogs too. The public beach is beautiful and although seeing police and military with machine guns can be disconcerting, we never felt unsafe. Got some great shopping deals and just had a fun time.