We went on the Carnival Fantasy for a conference. If you are looking for a new venue for a conference, family reunion or other gathering, consider a cruise. If you need help planning, contact Cruise Bug Vacations.
New Orleans elicits a wide range of reviews. Being my first visit, I arrived ready to experience the Crescent City on my terms. Obviously, Katrina brought New Orleans to the news, but the reporting of the event didn’t give an entirely accurate picture. According to some locals, some people were under the impression that New Orleans had been wiped from the face of the earth or it was still under water, years after the hurricane did its damage. It’s true that some parts of New Orleans disappeared, but other parts, like the French Quarter, the main tourist destination in the city, remain.
In retrospect, leaving from New Orleans on a Carnival cruise was quite appropriate and comical in some way. I had heard that I would either love or hate New Orleans and that I would definitely hate Carnival. Being curious, I didn’t want to just accept an opinion, but wanted to experience both the city and the cruise to find out why.
I could hate New Orleans for its good food and good music. This is the port where you can gain weight before even boarding the ship. On the other hand, you could lose that weight by practicing what was an all too common event on the sidewalks of the French Quarter – involuntary purging oneself. Is that a nice way to put it? If you can overlook the extreme and unseemly behavior of some of the visitors to New Orleans and see the architecture and experience the hospitality of the locals, you will come away with an overall positive impression of the town. I would never want to be there for Mardi Gras, as I am not interested in observing debauchery, which I suspect would be at an all time high during this time. Hey, I’ve seen those ads for the Girls Gone Wild videos. Go and enjoy the historical and cultural aspects of New Orleans and just ignore the rest.
Making Bananas Foster at Brennan’s
We enjoyed these restaurants: Broussard’s, Brennan’s, Bourbon House, Arnaud’s, Court of Two Sisters, Mother’s, Muriel’s and Johnny’s Po-Boy. We didn’t have a single bad meal and really overindulged. Fasting would have been a good idea for our days on the ship. Even though the ship didn’t have a deck where we could do laps, the gym came equipped with every type of machine imaginable.
Waddling onto the ship, from the overabundance of delicious food that I sampled in the Crescent City, I wondered how Hurricane Dean would affect our itinerary. The itinerary includes Costa Maya and Cozumel as ports. Have never been to the Costa Maya port, I was looking forward to visiting the Chacchoben Archaeological site. The captain regularly kept us apprised of the hurricane situation and advised us that we would try to avoid it and head east to Key West, which would be our first port.
We hadn’t been to Key West and although disappointed about missing Costa Maya, we were excited to visit yet another new destination. Our time in Key West was short, but we visited many sites including Ernest Hemingway’s home, the lighthouse, the southernmost point in the continental US, the Eco-Discover Center and more. We visited most of these destinations using the services of Old Town Trolley. Their knowledgeable guides gave us a good taste of Key West in the short time that we had there.
We enjoyed lunch at the Conch Republic Seafood Company. This trip sounds like an adventure in continuous eating, doesn’t it? After lunch we stopped at the Kermit’s Key West Key Lime Shoppe and tried a frozen key lime pie on a stick. We shared; I swear. Would you believe we took all this in and made it back to the ship by 1:00? Obviously, all the other passengers spent as much time as possible in Key West. The line to board the ship started far away from the gangplank. We moved rather slowly, but the sun shined brightly and there was really no reason to get inside. Well, except for the fact that the ship would be leaving soon.
We hadn’t been to Cozumel for years, so were anxious to re-discover the island. We opted to take the clear kayaking excursion offered by the ship. A short trip down the road from the port plopped us into a pleasant resort with a restaurant, kayaks and snorkeling equipment. Our group divided into two. One group kayaked while the other snorkeled and then switched. We snorkeled first. Having sensitive feet, I had great difficulty getting into the water, full of sharp stones and other things attacking my feet. The guide helped me navigate the treacherous water. Several inexperienced snorkelers panicked at the start and walked back to the where the kayaks were. The snorkeling was good and the guides were concerned about the welfare of their charges.
We opted for the clear kayaks because Bugsy doesn’t know how to swim,so being able to see the underwater world from the comfort of a kayak would be perfect. The only problem was that it is impossible to see anything through the “clear” bottom of the kayak. We enjoyed our paddle anyway and made it back to the start where refreshments were being served. The day hadn’t been exactly clear and the sky suddenly darkened. Heavy glasses became airborne and plates of food sailed away. The skies burst and we all got soaked. At least, we had finished our excursions so heading back to the ship caused no pain.
We heard that the hurricane devastated the Costa Maya and that the port won’t be on any itinerary for a long while. Check on the cruise site for updates. It may be a year before this port reopens.