After a long hiatus, Carnival Cruise Line has returned to the great state of Alabama. With a large number of cruises already under its belt, Mobile eagerly awaited the return of cruisers to the newly renovated cruise terminal.
As soon as booking was available, my family promptly researched our calendars for the perfect week to depart. After carefully choosing, we settled on the second departure, leaving October 14th, 2023. This trip would take us to Cozumel, Costa Maya, Mahogany Bay, and Belize.
Fun Fact: The Carnival Spirit also travels to Nassau, Freeport, Bimini, Half Moon Cay, and Key West. Check the Carnival website for official dates and destinations.
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Our reasoning was simple – Let’s give them one week to “get the kinks out” and get adjusted to cruises returning to Mobile. Should we have given them longer?
Keep reading to hear about The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly of Carnival Spirit’s second voyage from Mobile, Alabama.
I cannot say enough to compliment the Carnival Spirit. The ship was beautiful and the staff was very attentive. The Carnival Spirit is a wonderful addition to Mobile and I hope that as many sail her that are able to.
Once we were onboard, we were greeted warmly by multiple crew members. Since we have priority boarding, the first thing on our list was a stop by our cabin. We quickly found our room, dropped off our carry-on luggage and met our steward, Rai. In 19 cruises, Rai was the best I have ever experienced. Each time we left our cabin, Rai was diligently working in the hallways and other rooms. By the time we returned to our cabin, Rai had tidied up the room and was on to other duties.
Food on the Carnival Spirit was plentiful and delicious. Casual choices like Guy’s Burgers, Blue Iguana Cantina, Chopsticks, and Bonsai Sushi were standout favorites. The Steakhouse provided the perfect setting for my mother’s birthday on the first elegant night.
Each day, the Carnival Spirit offered an abundance of activities for all age groups. Many of the activities were Halloween-themed and included pumpkin carving, trivia, dance classes, and more.
The casino was a bit on the smaller side and smoke-filled, yet fun and very enjoyable. The slots are almost all newer, digital games. If you like older reel slots, there were a few along the outer edges.
The Serenity Adult-Only Retreat was a perfect way to enjoy a bit of relaxation. Each morning, the clamshells would begin to fill up. Be sure to get there early if you want one of these comfy places to enjoy some sunshine.
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Personally, I love this class of ship. It wasn’t overly large, yet it included enough to keep everyone busy. The unique layout of the Spirit created a fun element for exploring, especially in the shopping areas and The Jungle.
The cruise itself was amazing and it was difficult to come up with anything to fall into “The Bad” category. Two things made the trip less than perfect and I do not fault the cruise line one bit.
The first few days of our trip, the weather was less than desirable. Again, this isn’t something that a cruise line can control, only an observation.
Our day was very rainy and messy in Mahogany Bay. Everyone who chose to leave the ship took a poncho or used an umbrella. We wanted to walk to the beach area but the weather just didn’t comply. The next day, we arrived in Belize and the weather wasn’t quite sunshine and rainbows either. The water was pretty choppy and we opted to stay on the ship.
Before anyone had the chance to visit Belize, the Carnival Spirit lost power. We woke up to the Captain giving this announcement. For roughly an hour, our rooms were dark and we were unable to use the toilets. After a while, the Captain let us know that the power was being restored and things would be back to normal soon.
No one can control the weather and sometimes power is lost. This certainly did not ruin our trip but it was less than ideal at the time.
In Mobile, the nightmare happened.
Mobile did not seem to be prepared. It was as if Mobile was brand new to dealing with cruise ship passengers. Traffic was backed up on the roads surrounding the perimeter of the parking deck. Local police appeared to be “lost”.
After being directed away from the parking deck area twice, we were finally led to an off-site parking area by the overpass. A police officer told us that they are not doing parking like they did in the past. That was evident at this point.
We sat in this parking lot for roughly half an hour. No one understood what was going on and instructions were non-existent. After a while, cars began to leave the parking lot and everyone lined up to get into the parking deck for a third time.
We were eventually able to enter the parking lot. The porters obtained our baggage and we were off to parking for the week. After entering the terminal, we could feel our vacation starting. The Mobile terminal staff did appear to have difficulty with crowd control. They had trouble dealing with Priority Boarding Lines and seemed overwhelmed.
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After completing the check-in process, we were off to the beautiful Carnival Spirit. After checking in, we were in the lobby of the ship within 10 minutes.
Would I sail this ship again out of Mobile?
I absolutely would. My parents already have a second trip booked. Even though Mobile was ill-prepared for this go-around, we know things will improve and be back to standard protocol as before.
The “Ugly” won’t be permanent and the “Good” easily outweighs the “Bad” and the “Ugly”, any day of the week. My motto is and always will be – a less than ideal cruise is still better than a day at the office!
Stay tuned for an in-depth look at this cruise and a detailed account of everything this beautiful ship has to offer.