A Cruise That Care Forgot
New Orleans skyline fades as Fantasy "rolls down the
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.
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.
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
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!
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
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.
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