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CARNIVAL FANTASY
A Cruise That Care Forgot
Cruise Diary

Part Two

The New Orleans skyline fades as Fantasy "rolls down the river"

One of our reasons for choosing this cruise was to see the lower Mississippi River from New Orleans to the Gulf of Mexico. After sailaway, we weren't disappointed with the scenes unfolding along the river banks—small towns, vast open areas of wetlands, and the occasional industrial complex. We claimed a spot on the forward observation deck with a few other curious souls until darkness fell and all we could see were the lights of oil platforms. Passage into the Gulf didn't occur until we were long asleep. The mighty Mississippi is one l-o-n-g river.

Dining
We opted for the latter 'early' seating at 6:15pm and found the timing worked well for our rather informal lifestyle. Our plan for the first night on board was to have dinner in the casual lido restaurant instead of our assigned dinner in the dining room and the choices afforded were numerous—in addition to standard buffet fare and a carving station, there are pizza, deli selections, and a complete salad bar, not to mention serve-yourself ice cream.

As we noted on our previous Fantasy cruise, dining room meals continue to be top-notch in quality and presentation and the service was without fault. We were happy to see our favorite Melting Chocolate Cake make several appearances on the dessert menu. Our one disappointment was room service. For some reason, the only time we placed a breakfast order, it didn't arrive. However, the al fresco midnight Mexican Buffet was a spread to behold and more than made up for my missing morning java. 

Kudos to Carnival for continuing to offer special laundry promotions—for a nominal amount passengers could have as many undergarments, shorts, tee-shirts, and swimwear laundered as would fit into the bag provided.

Cabins
Our neighbors in the aft section of Riviera Deck joked about "steerage," but we found the location of our standard outside cabin and its proximity to elevators quite convenient and very quiet. Spruced up and outfitted with Carnival Comfort Beds, it was a spacious and restful haven to get away from it all. And how has the bedding fared since its introduction? The mattress was just as comfortable as I remembered, but the pillows were getting a bit lumpy. Minor quibble.

The Itinerary

X-treme Speed Boating in Costa Maya

Fantasy 5-night itineraries include Costa Maya and Cozumel; 4-night sailings only visit Cozumel. Each includes two sea days. 

Costa Maya is a made-for-cruising port and a great jumping off spot for tours to Mayan ruins, which we've done in the past. This time, for something a bit more daring, we chose the X-treme Speed Boat adventure tour. At $95 per person, it included a stimulating ride in our own 2-person boat to an offshore platform where guides led a snorkeling excursion over the coral reef. We were impressed by the facilities, equipment, and safety concerns of the tour operators. Two thumbs up! 

Costa Maya, Jungle Beach Break

The speedboat tour shares facilities with a Dolphin Swim program ($159 per person) and the very popular Jungle Beach Break ($39 per person). The bar is "open" and generous, a small snack bar sells food (we can't recommend it), vendors have small shops with some unique items as well as ubiquitous tee-shirts, and the beach is drop-dead gorgeous. It's a great value for a day of sun, sand, surf, and refreshments. Another two thumbs up!

Happily, we docked right downtown in San Miguel for the day ashore at Cozumel and didn't have to endure tedious tendering. Unfortunately, it rained for most of the morning. However, when the skies cleared, we were pleased to see how well the area has bounced back from the pounding it took at the hands of Hurricane Wilma in 2005. Our plan was to spend the day in town; however, the action at Carlos 'n Charlies is a bit raucous for us, so we headed to Palmeras, which was completely rebuilt after the storm, for refreshments and a mini-mariachi serenade. It was a pleasure to stroll through bright and shiny San Miguel. Except for the missing cruise ship pier outside town, it's business as usual.

Palmeras, Cozumel

The Fantasy Experience
A short cruise, particularly one paired with a pre-cruise stay as enjoyable as ours in New Orleans is an ideal combination—or compromise, if your travel companions can't decide whether a land or sea vacation is preferable. 

Overall, we experienced a cheerful cruise on a ship that's just the right size for a fun get-away.

Back to --> Fantasy, Part One

Photos: CruiseDiva.com Linda Coffman


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