Saturday, March 19, 2022

Mardi Gras Cruise Review - March 19, 2022

 Mardi Gras Cruise Review - March 19, 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: Pierre Camilleri - Cruise Director: Lee the CD           
Ports: Port Canaveral - Cozumel, Mexico - Costa Maya, Mexico - Mahogany Bay, Isla Roatan, Honduras
This is my seventh cruise on Carnival’s new flagship, Mardi Gras, my 96th Carnival cruise, and my 177th cruise overall.  I am sailing with the DW (Dear Wife) and have friends and colleagues sailing this cruise.
Day One -- Saturday --  March 19th, 2022 -- Port Canaveral Embarkation 
We left the Florida Villa about 7:45 am for our drive to Port Canaveral and our 10:00-10:30 am check-in time. Some traffic in Orlando but we arrived at Park-N-Cruise by 10:30 am. They were very busy, but we ran into friends and were able to visit while waiting to be shuttled. We arrived at the pier about 11:15 and went through security and check-in fairly quickly. Having the VeriFLY app helps as well as knowing where to go. We were on board and in our cabin by 11:45 am. Thankfully our cabin was ready for us so we were able to unpack our roll-on bags and set up our cabin. We have a nice balcony on deck 14 aft. Yes, you can hear the Bolt, I did not consider that in choosing a location. We checked in to our Muster Station on deck 7, then went up to Lido Deck for lunch. I had my favorite Big Chicken selections and DW enjoyed a nice salad. Then some rest and nap time in the cabin. Cabin steward Kris brought Ice and I scheduled our cabin cleaning times (~11 am daily). About 4:00 pm the Carnival Elation sailed past and we had our formal Muster announcements before our sail away soon afterward. We went to Summer Landing for drinks and met friends for BBQ dinner. I ordered the Filet Mignon, St. Louis style Pork Ribs, the pickled vegetables, Slaw, and Onion Fries. The steak was fantastic, the ribs were just so-so. DW had Macaroni & Cheese and Slaw, she didn’t care for it so she had a Vegetable Lasagne from the Lido Marketplace later. We collected our $50 free-play in the casino and turned it into $50 real chips with $25 free play left. Sweet. We watched the Center Stage Band (photo above) and ran into family members and visited, we will get together with them later. Small world. We sat outside on deck 16 and enjoyed dessert…we had plans but decided to retire early. We do need the rest from a very busy work week at the Villa. It was a very good day with surprises on the Mardi Gras.

Day Two -- Sunday --  March 6th, 2022 -- Fun Day at Sea 
Very smooth seas overnight and I slept very well. Woke early, did some business, but fell back to sleep until a BOLT test run woke me again about 8:00 am. We met the family for the Sea Day Brunch in the Palm restaurant at about 10:00 am. Very busy this morning, but the girls were more interested in visiting than food so we had a long casual brunch. I ordered the Steak & Eggs, Bacon, Hash Browns, Apple Danish, Tomato Juice, French Toast, and Leche Caliente. It was a very good breakfast. I returned to the cabin and the DW went shopping...I had a nice two-hour nap too. At 3:00 pm I saw another first for me…Cubans in a yellow rubber raft heading towards Florida. It’s a perfect day for an attempt. We were as close to the Cuban coast as allowed and we passed them fairly close on starboard as I was standing out on the balcony. Amazing, I wish them luck…Freedom is precious. We went down to the Alchemy Bar about 4:00 pm for cocktails, it was great seeing the Bartenders again. Daniel prepared two nice cocktails for us an absinth for me. I’m not longer an MDR person, but my friend Kelli arranged a nice table for the four of us with our favorite waiter for 5:00 pm. Early for me but it has become difficult to get good service and seating on a elegant night with 5000+ guests on board. Tonight I ordered the Sicilian Meatball Soup, Spaghetti Carbonara (as a starter), two Broiled Lobster Tails, and Mixed Fruit for dessert. DW ordered the Root Vegetables in a Pie Crust and Chocolate Melting Cake. It was a very good dinner and excellent service. We returned to the cabin and watched the sunset from our balcony and relaxed after dinner. I did a walkabout the ship picking up some water and candy for the cabin then we met Friends & Family in the Brass Magnolia. Instrumental Grooves with Washboard Joe has become one of my all-time favorite musical groups at sea. The Brazilian group is so talented and play a variety of music with a unique Jazz sound. Very enjoyable and we got an encore from them tonight. First time I’ve seen them do that and I caught most of their performances on the previous cruise when my cabin was below the Brass Magnolia. Everyone in the room and our group enjoyed them.  It was a wonderful ending to a great sea day on the Mardi Gras. 

Day Three -- Monday — March 21st, 2022 — Cozumel, Mexico 
Smooth seas overnight and I slept well. I was up early and watched us sail in the Straits of Cozumel. We had room Service delivery this morning so no rush to leave the cabin. We were docked before our scheduled 10:00 am arrival and no other Carnival ships at Puerto Maya…I did miss the Carnival Breeze. It’s a beautiful day in Cozumel so many guests will love a beach day. We met the surprise Family in the Havana outer lounge area about 11:45 to debark the ship. We shared a taxi into San Miguel and proceeded to Woody’s Bar and Grill my Cozumel hangout. Live Music! It was busy as we were arriving later than normal and it was lunchtime. We had a nice table and DW and I started with a proper Mexican Coca-cola as usual. I saw other friends and we soon ordered our Guacamole, Pico de Gallo, & Chips. Very good guacamole today…and becoming harder to find in the USA. I had a lot of business to do today including several cruise bookings for the owner and signing documents for Texas real estate transactions. The others spent time shopping…buying some very unique items. I did have time to get my haircut at Antonio’s Barber Shop. After a visit to the Pharmacia, we took the taxi back to Puerto Maya arriving well before our 6:30 back on board time. After some brief cabin time, we met our travel friends for dinner at La Cucina del Capitano. Tonight I ordered my favorites: the Arancini, Nonna’s Meatballs, a Pasta Pomodoro (as a starter), and the Chicken Parmesan entree. It was excellent as was the service. The only place with tablecloths on the ship too. After dinner and a busy day, we retired to the cabin and I was soon asleep. It was a very productive day in Cozumel and on the Mardi Gras.
Day Four -- Tuesday --  March 22nd, 2022 -- Costa Maya, Mexico  
Some rolling seas overnight and I slept well. We were docked by 9:00 am and it's a beautiful sunny day in Roatan. We had a very lazy morning in the cabin enjoying a fruit basket and the wonderful view from our balcony. Some follow-up business to do before leaving the cabin for a walkabout. We had brunch on Lido aft, Big Chicken for me, and a small Salad for the DW. We spent the afternoon on our balcony, we are docked blocking the sun and had a perfect breeze all afternoon. I was able to arrange some work on the ranch and DW read as we both enjoyed the view and weather. DW brought a Blue Iguana Salad down to eat and also some cookies to go with my Coca-cola, perfect day for a balcony. I took a walkabout before sailing away as I wanted to get photos of the Carnival Pride’s aft balconies as she is docked next to us today. I was easily able to see the balcony we will have for two cruises in Europe and the Transatlantic cruise in October (photo above).  The DW wanted to stay in this evening so I went to the Pig & Anchor for BBQ. I ordered the 1/2 Chicken special of the day, St. Louis style Pork Ribs, the pickled vegetables, Potato Fries, and Onion Fries. The chicken was only fair, the ribs were much better tonight and I had the Apple Cobbler for dessert. I watched the last 3 innings of the OU vs. Kentucky Softball game in Summer Landing, I enjoyed watching the OU girls last season when they won the National Championship. They are off to a good start as this win puts their record at 26-0. Afterward, I went to the Alchemy Bar for another nice cocktail from Daniel, then to the 11:00 pm Late Night Comedy Showcase in the Theater with Jorge Solano, and Billy D. Washington. It was a very good show. Barely time for a final Sazerac from the Brass Magnolia before they closed. It was another FUN day on the Mardi Gras.
Day Five -- Wednesday --  March 23rd, 2022 -- Mahogany Bay, Isla Roatan, Honduras
Heavy rolling seas overnight, it was a nice ride. I woke about 8:00 am and we were already docked at Mahogany Bay. Our balcony view is of the Bay and shipwreck side. The weather is beautiful but it will be hot today. We had room service breakfast this morning and no excursions planned outside the port so taking our time. We left the ship just to get in some walking and did the nature trail and walked as far as guests can go within the port property. We stopped at Fat Tuesdays for water, burrito, and a few Salva Vida beers. We walked the shops and craft areas before returning to the ship for cabin and nap time. A very nice nap. We went to the Fortune Teller Bar for cocktails this evening, DW had the Third Eye and I had a Bog Juice. We then met friends for dinner @ 6:30 pm at ChiBang. Tonight I ordered all my favorites: Egg Drop Soup, Green Salad, Kung Pow Chicken entree (very spicy), Beef & Broccoli entree, Hakka Noodles, Grilled Broccoli and the Tres Leches dessert. DW orderd a Salad and a Cheese Quesidilla. It was very good. After dinner, we met the surprise family at Brass Magnolia then went to the feature shows at the Center Stage: The Residency, Classic Magic, and Lovin’ Vegas. We had very good seats and it was a great evening of entertainment including Big Band Music, Singers, Dancers, Aerialist, Light Show, and more. An amazing Las Vegas-style show about Las Vegas. These are the shows not to be missed on the Mardi Gras. It was my third time to see it, but won’t be my last. It was a FUN day in Mahogony Bay and on the Mardi Gras.

Day Six -- Thursday --  March 24th, 2022 -- Fun Day at Sea  
Rolling seas overnight that became smoother by dawn. I slept well although waking too early @ 6:00 am. I had some travel business to update on recent bookings that I completed before Room Service was delivered @ 8:30 am. It's a beautiful day so guests will enjoy the pool and outer decks. Today is the day I cash in my Casino Chips. I've been using my Diamond benefit $25 free-play that I carried from cruise to cruise to play on the Roulette Wheel the past several cruises. I have been lucky and converted them into $365 in real chips…cashed out this morning…not bad and to myself much more fun than playing Slots. The Diamond Luncheon was at noon in the Flamingo Dining Room, we sat with our good friends and had a very enjoyable lunch. I ordered the Peaches & Greens Salad (the new item-thinly sliced peaches as a base), the NY Strip Steak, & Tres Leches dessert. DW ordered the same salad and the vegetarian Pappardelle Pasta, which was very good, I sampled it. We had a favorite server, Servio Jr., and generous cocktail servers…we were the last guests to leave so yes…we enjoyed the luncheon. Cabin time after lunch. I updated this blog and DW went up to get an Ice Creme. The weather and shaded balcony are ideal for cabin/balcony time this afternoon, but the best was…a Nap. Nice. We met the surprise family in the Brass Magnolia for cocktails at about 7:00 pm. It was DW’s baby sistear's birthday. The entertainers were The Backyard Band, it seems our Washboard guys have an illness in the group, miss them. We had a nice dinner at La Cucina del Capitano, I ordered a lot: a Minestrone Soup, the Arancini, Nonna’s Meatballs, a Pasta Pomodoro (as a starter), and the Veal Marsala entree. It was a great meal. A short walkabout the ship before retiring for the evening. It was a lazy enjoyable day on the Mardi Gras.

Day Seven -- Friday --  March 25th, 2022 -- Fun Day at Sea 

Rolling seas overnight, slept fair, did the up in the night, then slept late routine. I didn’t get around until 10:30 am even after a very restful previous day so a fruit basket breakfast. We did a walkabout, I purchased a Gift Card from Cherry on Top and we saw friends and family. We had lunch at ChiBang. I had both a nice Steak & Chicken Mongolian style stir-fry with nice Vegetables & Noodles and a Mexican Burrito bowl. DW had a Burrito Bowl. I like how they serve both Tortilla Chip and Fried Wonton with Pico de Gallo and an Asian hot sauce. Two worlds combining for the starters. Nice table and servers, we were very pleased with lunch. The weather has cooled only 74° at mid-day, but nice if sunning on deck as many guests are doing today. 5700 guests are enjoying the Mardi Gras this cruise, but it does not seem as crowded as the Sailabration cruise because there are 1300 children this week and enough activities for them that keep them from areas I frequent. Sailabration cruise was a premium price sailing with primarily all adults. I hadn’t had a Guy’s burger this cruise so had one this afternoon, it was cooked perfectly and very good. The Platinum & Diamond party was this afternoon @ 4:00, I didn’t attend but I took advantage of the free drink on my S&S card at the Fortune Teller Bar. We met the surprise family for cocktails and joined them for dinner at their table in the Palm Restaurant (photo above). DW and I ordered the Cobb Salad, I had the Pork Chop entree and DW the Enchiladas. Baked Alaska and the farewell song by the waiters ended the dining experience. We did a short walkabout and I had a final beer at the Pig and Anchor before retiring. It was a FUN final day on the Mardi Gras.

Debarkation -- Saturday --  March 26th, 2022 -- Port Canaveral, Florida 
Smoother seas overnight as we sailed along the coast of Florida and I slept fair. I was up by 5:40 am and we were already alongside the pier so I started my packing process. DW packed previous night. The Diamond guests, only 180 on board this cruise, meet was at 7:30 am at the Punchliner Comedy space, but they were already debarking at 7:20 when we got to deck 6. We were out and on the parking shuttle strait away.  I love Park-N-Cruise.  On the road at 8:00 am.  We stopped at Farmers Daughter in Brooksville about 10:00 am for brunch, then onto Spring Hill to pick-up the dog and GD (grand-daughter).  Home at the Villa in Meadow Oaks about noon.
Sailing with the DW
Sailing with Surprise Family and Friends
Instrumental Grooves with Washboard Joe 
Lovin' Vegas Show at Center Stage
The Themed Bars: Alchemy, Fortune Teller, & the Brass Magnolia
Good Fast Food: Big Chicken, Guy’s Burgers

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