Saturday, February 26, 2022

Mardi Gras Cruise Review - February 26, 2022

Mardi Gras Cruise Review - February 26, 2022
Just The Facts:
Ship:  Mardi Gras…Largest & flagship of the Carnival fleet. 182,000 gross tons. 5282 capacity.
Ship Captain:  Allessandro Iemmi   -  Hotel Director: Damir Mrsic  - Cruise Director: Chris, the Flying Scotsman
Ports: Port Canaveral - Nassau, Bahamas - Amber Cove, Dominican Republic - Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos Islands
This is my fifth cruise on Carnival’s new flagship, Mardi Gras, My 94th Carnival cruise, and my 175th cruise overall.  I am sailing as a solo on my third leg of a B2B2B2B, four consecutive cruises on the Mardi Gras. I am sailing with a group of my regular sailing friends this week.

Day One -- Saturday --  February 26th, 2022 -- Port Canaveral Embarkation
Smooth seas and I slept very well although up at 4:00 am. Beautiful watching the Disney Fantasy pass by us as the ships align themselves for entry into Port Canaveral. We entered the outer approach by 5:30 am the last of four ships entering the port this morning. The Mariner of the Seas passed us at 6:20 am after we were already docked, a wonderful ship. I enjoy it when the ships are lit up and pass close…the lights are beautiful. I packed for the move to the new cabin, same deck close by so easy. I had a very nice breakfast at the Blue Iguana: Huevos Rancheros, with two fried eggs, Arepas, and Watermelon. I moved into my new cabin about 8:30, it’s on the same deck so I moved my items myself. I then went to the Flamingo Dining Room to meet the B2B guests. There are 157 on this cruise, so 40 more than the last cruise. We were marched down to border security and back on board by 10:15 am. Very good turnaround time, the face recognition system helps. I went to the Summer Landing and purchased a Cheers program prearranged to receive the advance price. The group met about 10:30 and we welcomed new friends who boarded with Bloody Marys, Beer, and Cocktails. It became the best party on the cruise in short order. Cabin time to set up, call home and rest before meeting at Brass Mongolia. The group split and ate at the MDR, Big Chicken, and Cucina del Capitano. I did the Italian. I ordered the Arancini & Nonna’s Meatballs then a new entree: Veal Marsala and Tiramisu for dessert. All excellent as was the service and we had a very nice table. After dinner, we were actually lucky enough to get five seats at the Alchemy Bar so I was able to get a good value on my Cheers package by sharing. My Florida friends met Daniel for the first time we all enjoyed premium cocktails. We also posed for a partial group photo at the Fiat, and some tried out for Family Feud…no chance of us being selected. I retired to the cabin as I had a long day. It was an easy turn-around and FUN day on the Mardi Gras.

Day Two -- Sunday --  February 27th, 2022 -- Fun Day at Sea 
Calm seas overnight and I slept well. Woke to a sunny day, and updated my blog as well as some writing while watching the sea from the cabin balcony. The cabin is the opposite configuration to the last cruise, the couch and vanity area next to the balcony with the bed toward BR and entry. Opposite last week so some different orientation especially when you get up during the first night. I think I prefer the bed next to the balcony. I went down to Summer Landing for a Bloody Mary at the bar, then joined the group there. We played Sports Trivia, we did fair, then I entered the Putting Contest. I at least made the second round. A few more cocktails then I was off to the BiG Chicken about 1:30 for lunch. Great Lunch. I did a walkabout, Serenity was busy, but a big space to handle a crowd. No wind so the forward area was being used. Cabin time until the 5:30 meet-up in the French Quarter. We enjoyed cocktails and tried to make reservations for dinner in the MDR and were faced with a 60-90 minute wait time. A logistical mistake...we should have done another dining venue…so more cocktails and the music of New Age Violins until dinner. We finally got a table and enjoyed our Elegant Night dinner, I ordered Italian Meatball Soup, Green Salad, Prime Rib, Lobster, and a Fruit Plate for dessert. The food was good, service adequate, but the long wait was a pain. After dinner, I went to the Piano Bar and really enjoyed the PBP Eden, the first full piano bar set I’ve seen since the Breeze in October. I then went to the Alchemy Bar and who should be there but the Snoozemates’ crew. So FUN at the Alchemy Bar. I also met several Alchemy Bar Fans. Yes, we closed it down, I think most in the group hit the 15 limit on the Cheers. A stop at the casino to bet my $25 free play…nope, didn’t hit but was fun playing. It was a very interesting FUN day on the Mardi Gras.

Day Three -- Monday — February 28th, 2022 -- Nassau, Bahamas
Smooth seas overnight. I woke about 7:00 am and we were already docked in Nassau.  We are docked at the new pier but the same port location. I reviewed my posts from late last night and did reviewed the world news, then met friends in Summer Landing. Four of us walked through town and looked at shops and the recently reopened Straw Market. We went to Goldies for lunch and beers then taxied back to the ship by 1:45 pm. We played a few games of trivia then back to the Cabin to sail away about 4:00 pm. I went by Big Chicken for a snack before it closed at 5:00 pm. Basically because of the huge wait to get into the MDR the day prior. The group met as usual in Brass Magnolia and ChiBang was the dining of choice, it was about a 30-minute wait. We had eight in the group ng tonight an easier number for service. I ordered light, all Chinese: Egg Drop Soup, Sweet & Sour Shrimp, Hakka Noddles, small Ice Creme for dessert. First time to order this particular entree and it was good. Service was slower than previous visits, but we have a larger number of guests onboard. After dinner, I collected my Diamond gifts and B2B photo from Pixels. Finished the day at the Alchemy Bar with friends again. Three big events (Family Feud, Deck Party, & Production show on Center Stage) going on tonight so easier to get a seat at the bar. I did not stay late tonight and retired by 10:30. It was another Fun Day on the Mardi Gras.

Day Four -- Tuesday --  March 1st, 2022 -- Fun Day at Sea
Smooth seas overnight and I slept very well, I feel rested after some recent long days and fighting crowds.  A beautiful day so hopefully a lot of guests on outer decks today.  The first of the month came quickly so reviewing bills and updating the blog this morning before going to Summer Landing for a Bloody Mary.  I did a walkabout the ship before the Diamond Luncheon at noon.  The same menu, hoping it will be changed soon, so I ordered the Pork Belly, the NY Strip Steak, & Tres Leches dessert.  It was good.  Afterward, I changed into my Mardi Gras T-shirt and beads for the rest of the day, since today is actual Mardi Gras. Several of us had a round of Putt-putt golf on deck 18, then met on deck 17 by the Red Frog for beers & snacks.  I had a small Guy’s burger…OK style.  Cabin time before meeting my FL friends for dinner in the MDR.  We went earlier and were seated within 15 minutes and even requested a particular waiter…much better than the last visit.  One of my favorite menus tonight and I ordered: Roasted Broccoli & Three Cheese Soup, Baked Meatball,  Linguine with Sausage, and Bitter & Blanc for Dessert.  It was good and the service best of this cruise.  After dinner, I visited with friends at the Alchemy Bar while the girls went to the Flying Scotsmen Show in the Center Stage.  The Girls and the rest of the group ended up at the Alchemy where we had our Mardi Gras party.  It was fortunate that we all got seats at the bar.  It was great fun as much as I have had at Alchemy in years.  Daniel and Jennifer and all were on point tonight.  Vasi and Alexander as well.  A real Mardi Gras parade by guests making a Second Line was fantastic, included throwing beads and they were dressed to the nines.  Anything unique and different is good!!  Late, we did go down to Fortune Teller as my Partner Kelli is a fan of Jason and I could be served by Natalie all day (twist my arm). It was a great Mardi Gras day on the Mardi Gras.

Day Five -- Wednesday --  March 2nd, 2022 -- Amber Cove,  Dominican Republic 
Smooth seas overnight and I slept very well. I was up around 8:30 am and we were already docked at Amber Cove. Having just been here I stayed on the ship today. Cabin time until I went up to the Serenity Deck for some hot tub time then Bloody Mary’s from the Serenity Bar. About 1:00 I went to Lido and Big Chicken ... I had an MDE, the basic Chicken Sandwich, two Chicken nuggets (they are large), French Fries, and Slaw. It was wonderful. I then returned to the Serenity deck and visited with the FL girls and another dip in the hot tub. A short nap may have occurred in a lounger. Cabin time and an intended short nap went long in fact I had to hurry to make dinner in the MDR by 6:00 pm. We had the same waiter by request, Severo, Jr., and an excellent table. Tonight I ordered the Onion Soup, Green Salad, Crusted Chicken, and Apple Pie with ice creme for dessert. It was very good I’m liking the MDR better at an early time. I had a one quick cocktail at Alchemy then went to the Center Stage to see the production show 
The Residency featuring the Center Stage Band, followed by a short Magic Show, then at 8:30 the feature show Lovin’ Vegas. That show features the full band, the Singers & Dancers, and a group of Aerial performers. A very entertaining show, my first time to see it as my previous attempt on a previous cruise was canceled due to heavy seas. I will see it again. Following the show, we went to the Fortune Teller Bar for one cocktail for me, then to Alchemy for the Spicy Chipolte Martini that the girls enjoy. The rest of the Group was there too. Not the heavy partying of Mardi Gras night. We sat on the rail and watched Owen's solo show from the French Quarter stage below. It was a good day on the Mardi Gras.
Day Six -- Thursday --  March 3rd, 2022 -- Grand Turk Island 
Slight rolling seas overnight and I slept well. I went to Blue Iguana for my favorite breakfast at sea: Huevo Ranchero with two fried eggs with Pico de Gallo & melted cheese on top, sliced Watermelon, and an Arepas. I am again skipping going to Jack’s Shack. I’ve already been this year. I love the owners and concept but they are now so busy it’s not as fun with having to cue at the bar and even finding a seat. Go very early or go very late. I prefer late, but with us leaving early today on this itinerary (no San Juan) I’ll skip as I did two weeks ago. Looking for something different I signed up for 
Tony’s Island Trolly Tour. The earliest available was 11:15 am so I chilled at the isolated location I found last visit (with free WiFi) until tour time. I’m glad I did it, I’ve never toured the island having always automatically gone to Jack’s. It was two hours, with stops in old Cockburn Town and the lighthouse (photo left). Lots of donkeys roam everywhere on the island, especially at the Lighthouse where they expect a handout. As mine now does on the Ranch back home. I had a Coke and bought some local Primitive Art in Cockburn Town, just trying to help the local artists. Lots of beautiful beaches, I would certainly consider renting a golf cart and find an isolated beach in the future. I was back on the ship by 2:00 pm. The Elation sailed away by 4:00 and we followed by 4:15. Again a horn exchange between the two ships but not as impressive as two weeks ago, that occasion was the first meeting of the two ships so perhaps a horn salute if there is such a thing. I had dinner for a third night in a row in the MDR with the FL girls and the same waiter. The food was good. Tonight I ordered: the Clam Chowder, Stuffed Mushrooms, Four Season Salad, and the Filet Mignon entree. For dessert the Key Lime Gelatin. After dinner, I met Snoozemate friends at the Brass Magnolia for some Jazz. The show: Instrumental Grooves with Washboard Joe. Wow! They are new to the ship, but my first time to hear them…outstanding, we sat through two sets then joined by the girls for the third…also perfect for the French Quarter venue. Afterward, we heard a few songs in the Summer Landing. I was on my way to retire but caught the final half of the Production Show with Aerials. I had met the creator of the aerial shows, Jason, on the first turn-around day and I will catch all three of them next cruise. It was a FUN day on Grand Turk and the Mardi Gras.
Day Seven -- Friday --  March 4, 2022 -- Fun Day at Sea 
Rolling seas overnight and I slept well. About 10:00 am I went to Summer Landing for Bloody Mary’s and visit with the Snoozemates Group. We made a morning of it with Beignets, Champagne, and Bloody Mary’s. About 1:00 pm we went up to Sea Dogs on deck 16 for lunch, first time I have eaten here and it was good. They had Tiramisu & Coconut at the Gelato Station so I had Coconut and took two to the FL girls playing Trivia. At 3:00 pm I had my Rapid-Antagen test for my B2B cruise tomorrow. A lot of back-to-backs this time: 230 so more each week. The test went smoothly. The Diamond Party was at 4:00 pm, I skipped as it will be the same as previous and I have a Cheers package this week. I meet the group at 5:30 in the Brass Magnolia then went to dinner with the FL girls in ChiBang about 6:00 pm. I had my favorites: Egg Drop Soup, Green Salad, Kung Pow Chicken, Hakka Noodles, and Ice Creme for dessert. Afterward friends met in the Brass Magnolia for cocktails and listen to Instrumental Grooves with Washboard Joe (photo right). It was another fun evening. Good-byes to all debarking then I retired to the Cabin and updated this blog, then checked news in Europe and Ukraine. It was an easy lazy day for me. Guests seemed to enjoy the outer decks on this last sea day and the evening entertainment... It has been a good cruise on the Mardi Gras.
Mardi Gras on the Mardi Gras
Snoozemates, Friends, and Colleagues sailing
The Themed Bars: Alchemy, Fortune Teller, & the Brass Magnolia
Instrumental Grooves with Washboard Joe
Tony’s Shuttle Tour in Grand Turk
Big Chicken, the MDR (with Severo), & Guy’s Burgers

I never turned-on the Cabin TV


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