Saturday, March 5, 2022

Mardi Gras Cruise Review - March 5, 2022


           Mardi Gras Cruise Review - March 5th, 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 - Mahogony Bay, Isla Roatan, Honduras - Costa Maya, Mexico - Cozumel, Mexico
This is my sixth cruise on Carnival’s new flagship, Mardi Gras, My 95th Carnival cruise, and my 176th cruise overall.  I am sailing as a solo on my forth leg of a B2B2B2B, four consecutive cruises on the Mardi Gras. I am sailing as a solo, but will know a lot of seasoned Carnival cruisers on board for the 50th Sailabration this week.

Day One -- Saturday --  March 5th, 2022 -- Port Canaveral Embarkation 
Center Stage during the day

We had smoother seas overnight and I slept with the Cabin door open to hear the sea. I was up early and watched as we sailed into Port Canaveral as I did the last cruise. I will be moving back to an interior this morning. I packed my bags and left them to be moved, then I had breakfast at Blue Iguana, a Burrito this time. I was taking my time getting to the B2B meet location as I know the MO and there were a lot of guests onboard. It ran a little later than the previous but had 230 B2B’s this cruise, double last week's count. We were walked down then back up by 11:00 am. Not bad considering the numbers. I went to my cabin and it wasn’t finished and no bags, so I went to my old cabins and brought them down myself. Saved the $5 I had placed on my bags. My new cabin was finished by the time I returned so I unpacked and set up for my final week. I’m on deck 5 close to mid-elevators, a pretty central location. My B2B basket was delivered and about 1:00 I went up to deck 16 and Big Chicken…already a long line but it went quickly. I had an MDE (basic chicken sandwich) and Tenders with Shaq & BBQ/Ranch sauces. Very good as always. I saw several friends along the way. I then went down to deck 6 and my Muster Station. I saw several good friends at Brass Magnolia who had just boarded. I picked up my VIFP gifts (same) at Pixels, then back to the cabin for afternoon nap time. I met my Cabin Steward and requested ice, robe, and mid-day service. I went up to the Alchemy for two nice cocktails from Jennifer and an Oyster from the Oyster Cart, it was very good. Afterward, I had a Farmhouse Ale in the Pig & Anchor while waiting for my dining table. Tonight I had the Filet Mignon, St. Louis style Pork Ribs, the pickled vegetables, Slaw, and Onion Fries. It was excellent. I’m running into old friends everyplace I go…very nice to see all the regulars from the old JH Bloggers cruises, TransAtlantics, and special event cruises…so the long-time hardcore guests are on board. I later watched the Welcome Aboard Show with Chris the CD, something I rarely do…loved the graphics of all the entertainers on the big LED screen. I retired early and since I’m in an interior I will have the TV on the forward camera during the day and the Map Channel at night. It was an easy Embarkation Day on the Mardi Gras.
Day Two -- Sunday --  March 6th, 2022 -- Fun Day at Sea 
Rolling seas overnight and I slept very well in the interior cabin. I was up and on deck by 8:30 as the WiFi went down. I went by Guest Services to get small bills, RSVP for luncheon, and have my boarding photo taken. Then to Summer Landing for breakfast, they have all the basics including grapefruit. The casino was my final stop to get my $25 free play, there are so many VIFPs they do not require supervisor approval. I saw even more friends on this walkabout. At noon I attended the Diamond Luncheon in the Flamingo Restaurant. There are 508 Diamonds on this sailing so they are having the event on the first two sea days. For lunch, I ordered the Pork Belly, the NY Strip Steak entree, and the Fruit Plate for dessert. The food was good, but as a good friend mentioned two cruises ago, ‘we’re here for the drinks' and the bar service was very good. I had a stag table with old friends…it’s always a FUN get-together. I returned to the cabin to drop off two cans of soda and ended up taking a great nap…four hours. Super. The 50th-anniversary pin was delivered to my cabin as well as a refill of items for my Fruit Bowl, without disturbing my nap. Thanks all around Carnival. The last few cruises on Mardi Gras the elegant night dinner has been a fiasco, so tonight I went contrarian and I went to Pig & Anchor for dinner. I was right only 6 tables dining at 7:45 pm. Amazing. I took my Mason Jar and had a huge Farm-House Ale. Tonight I ordered the Strip Steak, St. Louis style Pork Ribs, the pickled vegetables, Slaw, and Onion Fries. It was better than excellent, the Ribs much better tonight than last night. Also finished my ale with good friends at the bar. I then made the 9:30 feature production show in the Theater: Rock Revolution, Summer of ’69. I had great seats on the 4th-row center…easier for a solo to score seats. It was a great show, my first time to have seen it. I bought candy at Cherry on Top and walked by the Washboard Joe guys on break, so stashed my candy in my Cabin (directly below) fixed a soft drink, and went up to watch their final set. It’s the set he uses the washboard so it's very entertaining. A quick visit to Alchemy to see friends and then retired for the evening. It was a fantastic sea day on the Mardi Gras.
Day Three -- Monday — March 7th, 2022 — Fun Day at Sea. — Sailabration Event  
Smooth seas overnight and I slept well. Some work to do this morning, but got away for a Bloody Mary in Flavortown (Summer Landing) by 10:30 am. First walkabout that I didn’t see anyone new. Sunny skies and pleasant outdoors, guests are loving it. I went to Big Chicken about noon for lunch, it is so very good. They are getting a lot of business but move food quickly. I saw friends who were on the ship for the first time and we discussed the NEW features, many they missed so I’m going to list them at the end of this review. They finally made an announcement about the seven Carnival ships gathering together later today so I won’t be napping this afternoon as on the previous day. The 50th Birthday merchandise became available this morning…I did get a magnet, about all I get in ports anymore anyway. I spent a couple of hours outside from 4:00 pm during the 
50th Birthday Sailabration Ship Meet-up. It was interesting seeing all the ships together. It was the Carnival Breeze, Carnival Pride, Carnival Ecstasy, Carnival Vista, Carnival Glory, Carnival Sunshine, and the Mardi Gras. The MG led a formation for a bit, I’m sure they had helicopters filming it all. The maneuvering took a while but I enjoyed two Pilsner Urquells from the Serenity Bar…who was doing a booming business with so many on deck. Yes, I did see more friends. Much needed cabin time as a from the break from the heat before going out. Just a short walkabout and I decided to try the Piazza Panini for sandwiches. I had a #12 Carne —(pepper roast beef, provolone, caramelized onion, tomato, and salsa verde on rustic bread) that has been highly recommended and a #3 Turkey (turkey, avocado, cucumber, arugula, and basil on a pretzel bun) just in case I didn’t care for #12. Both were very good. I watched a person with several $100 in free play chips at the Roulette Wheel. He answered some of my questions with the fact he played $25 on both red and black so that was almost guaranteed turning half of his free play into real $ cash. Interesting and I have considered that. I retired a bit early, too much afternoon sun. It was an interesting and unique sea day on the Mardi Gras.
Day Four -- Tuesday --  March 8th, 2022 -- Mahogany Bay, Isla Roatan, Honduras 
Very Smooth seas overnight and I slept well. We were docked by 8:00 am and it's a beautiful sunny day in Roatan. I went for a very nice late breakfast at Blue Iguana, the usual Huevos Rancheros with two easy-fried eggs, Pico de Gallo, Ham, Arepas, & Watermelon. Best breakfast on the ship. I sat with good friends at the Tiki Bar and Michael, my former favorite Bloody Mary maker on the ship was bar tendering. Of course, I had to have one and it was good, now I know where to go on port days as Flavortown (Pig & Anchor Bar) is closed until noon on port days. I left the ship about 1:00 pm to get some walking exercise, I walked as far as one can go including nature trails then walked back. It did warm especially when on the jungle trails and away from the water & breeze. Some recovery time before going to an early dinner at La Cucina del Capitano. Tonight I ordered 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 I had a nice cocktail prepared by Corina at the Alchemy Bar and visited with my good friends, third time today we have run into each other. Also more friends seen for the first time.  I did a walkabout the ship and turned in early, the walking, good food, and cocktail were ideal for sleep. It was a good port day on the Mardi Gras.

Day Five -- Wednesday --  March 9th, 2022 -- Costa Maya, Mexico  
Smoothest seas of the four cruises overnight, I did the up @ 4:00 am to update items online then back to sleep routine. The wind and waves really picked up in the Straits of Cozumel. The ship is really rocking even though we are tied up at the pier. I’m staying on board ship as I can pick up cell service from shore and use Carnival WiFi from the ship. It’s been hard to get into secure sites without two-factor authorization. Bought shares, but it should have been done yesterday. Also checked in on the Girls in Florida. An enjoyable work session from the Lido deck this morning. About 1:00 I went aft to Big Chicken, that’s always a good lunch. I went down to the pier to meet a friend on the Glory that is docked next to us today and saw new friends from the Mardi Gras as well. Amazing how many old friends are on board for the Carnival Sailabration. I went to the Alchemy Bar for a nice cocktail by the Beautiful Jennifer then went down to the Fortune Teller Bar for a Bog Juice. I decided to eat at Emeril’s Bistro 1396 while down in the French Quarter. I ordered the Crispy Boudin Sausage Balls and Natchitoches Meat Pies. They were very good. I then went to the Center Stage and scored a second-row floor seat to see the show The Residency featuring the Center Stage Band, followed by a short Magic Show, then the late feature show Lovin’ Vegas. That show features the full band, the Singers & Dancers, and a group of aerial performers. An amazing Las Vegas-style show
(see photo). It was my second time to see it, but won’t be my last. A final cocktail at Fortune Teller before retiring. It was another great day on the Mardi Gras.

Day Six -- Thursday --  March 10th, 2022 -- Cozumel, Mexico
Smooth seas overnight, and I slept well waking at 7:00 am. I met my good friend Dave at 8:00 am and shared a taxi to Hotel Cozumel and Resort for the day. His DW decided to stay so it was a stag day. Only $45 for a Day Pass (9-5) that includes Beach, Hotel Pool, WiFi, Food & Drink. We were a bit early, but the first surprise was yes includes breakfast. I had two proper Huevos Rancheros, Grapefruit, Watermelon, Toast, Chicken Tortas, and more. We started at the beach by 9:00 am and I had a Coca-cola when the bar opened at 10:00 am. I enjoyed two good swim sessions in the water...I did bring goggles so I could see as much fish as a snorkeler. About noon we moved up to the Hotel Pool. Complementary pina-flavored water as soon as we sat. I enjoyed a few Dos Equis Cerveza on tap then switched to Mojitos after lunch. Smaller glasses but generous pours. Lunch is ordered off of a menu. I ordered the Mixed Burrito that came with Fries and an order of Guacamole & Chips. It was good. The swimming pool was refreshing. We have an early 4:00 pm departure due to switching port days because of the Sailabration meet-up so we left about 3:00 pm and were back on the ship by the 3:30 request time. I very much enjoyed the visit to the resort. Rest & relaxation once back on board. The 50th Birthday dinner is tonight in the Main Dining Rooms, no way I’m attempting that even with the through-back items on the menu. About 6:30 I went down to the Pig & Anchor for dinner, sitting at the bar enjoying a large Farmhouse Ale while waiting for my table. Tonight is Pork Chop night and that is what I ordered, it was great, especially with the signature BBQ sauces on the table. Of course the usual St. Louis style Pork Ribs, the pickled vegetables, Slaw, and Onion Fries. I had the Banana Creme Pie for dessert…very good. I did a walkabout on the outer deck, a beautiful evening, then retired early…Movie night in the cabin, The Longest Day. It was an excellent Cozumel day on the Mardi Gras.
Day Seven -- Friday --  March 11th, 2022 -- Fun Day at Sea — Carnival’s 50th Birthday
Smooth seas overnight and I did the up @ 4:00 am to update items online then back to sleep routine again. About 11:30 I was off to the Summer Landing for a Bloody Mary. They were busy but Ivana helped me out. I saw B2B friends and Texas friends, still haven’t seen all. I had not had had Guy’s burger this cruise so that’s where I went for lunch…good burgers, great fries, and a nice table outside. I like the 50th anniversary pressed hamburger bun (see photo). I crave candy after a burger, at home or at sea so a quick trip to Cherry on Top. I had a walkabout the ship and it’s getting cloudy and cooling off as we approach Florida. They did have a large Birthday Cake on display on Lido, I believe they have done that fleet-wide. I went up to the Serenity Deck and had some Sun and Hot Tub time and enjoyed my free Diamond meet cocktail, a Mojito. I did Big Chicken just before they closed and that will be my dinner, when I’m back in 8 days with the DW I’ll be doing the dining rooms so taking advantage of solo cruising today. The hot tub on Deck 16 was going unused so might as well watch the sundown from the aft pool area. Nice. I went to the Alchemy Bar for a Hugo Spritzer from Corina, it was nice, she was surprised that I knew what it was…I had asked her to make me her favorite. I then went to see the 9:00 pm. production show: Broadway Beats in the Mardi Gras theater. It was very good and I had a seat in row two, Sweet. Afterward, I went to the casino to play my $75 in free-play at the Roulette Wheel and I was able to turn it into $60 in real $. Sweet again. Washboard Joe was doing their final set, a great Jazz set, in the Mongolian Grill. Triple Sweet and a good ending to the final sea day on the Mardi Gras.
Debarkation -- Saturday --  March 12th, 2022 -- Port Canaveral, Florida
Smooth seas overnight as we sailed along the coast of Florida and I slept well. I was up at 6:00 am and we were already alongside the pier so I started the packing up process. The Diamond guests meet is at 7:30 am at Center Stage...seems all 508 wanted off early. Overall not so bad...Face Recognition at Border Security and the parking shuttle was waiting so we were at the parking lot just after 8:00 am. My auto was ready with the key and I was on the highway by 8:15 am. I am very pleased with Park-n-Cruise and highly recommend them for parking at Port Canaveral. A stop at the grocery store and home at the Florida Villa by 11:00 am.
Rock Revolution, Summer of ’69
Lovin’ Vegas
Hotel Cozumel and Resort
Instrumental Grooves with Washboard Joe especially the Jazz sessions
The Themed Bars: Alchemy, Fortune Teller, & the Brass Magnolia
Good Fast Food: Big Chicken & Guy’s Burgers
Sailabration - Gathering of Carnival Ships

Less Obvious FEATURES I Like on MARDI GRAS
Glass shower doors
Glass front refrigerator doors with light
Night light in bathroom
Reading lights & USB on wall of cabin @ bed
Sliding balcony doors
Larger TV screens in cabins
Directional graphic on inside elevator doors indicating Forward/Aft
Clock faces with current time on the floor.
I never ate in the Main Dining Room


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