We’ve just returned from our five-day cruise on the Carnival Fantasy out of Mobile, Alabama. This has proven to be one of our more exhausting vacations–we took our 5- and 2-year old grand sons along with us.
Background to this Carnival Fantasy Cruise
This cruise vacation was long in the making. I had several agendas working simultaneously to make this come together. I’ve done several blog posts on the why’s and hows of putting this cruise together. Here are the reasons we chose Carnival out of Mobile for this cruise:
- We wanted the shortest drive possible from home–this meant cruising out of Mobile
- We wanted the option of putting the youngest kid in the kid’s program, and Carnival allows 2-year-olds in Camp Carnival
- As an experiment I wanted to stack as many discounts as possible, and Carnival is the best cruise line for this
Here are a couple of previous blog posts on why I chose this cruise, and how I stacked the discounts:
Stacking Carnival Cruise Discounts
So with this dual agenda of trying to get babysitting for both kids and trying to save as much money as possible, we booked a five-day cruise on the Carnival Fantasy out of Mobile. Let’s get to the review!
Drive to Mobile
We left our house about 6:30 am for the 4 1/2 hour drive to Mobile. We figured we would get there by 11:00 am under optimal conditions but leaving this early would give us a good cushion in case we had a flat tire or one of the kids got sick (and one did!) We were assigned a 1:00-1:30 boarding time but I had heard that the times weren’t enforced (they aren’t.) The two-year old (Binko) fell asleep right away. The five-year-old (Boppo) stayed up for about an hour, got car sick (we were prepared!) and then took a three hour nap. We had totally forgotten about the time change as Mobile is in a different time zone. So we arrived in Mobile about 10:30 and they were not allowing cruisers to enter the terminal at that time. We had seen a sign for Battleship Park and decided to kill some time there.
Battleship Park Mobile
The USS Alabama is at permanent anchorage here and you can take a tour. We knew that this would be a waste of time with the two kids so we just toured the ground where there are many tanks and military planes on display. It only costs $2.00 for parking and there is plenty to see even if you don’t do the battleship tour. This was our first time seeing a B52 bomber, and we were shocked at how huge it was! We spent a good hour at the park and the kids blew off a lot of steam there.
Parking at Mobile Port
The information that we had gotten about parking near the cruise port said that there were basically two options for parking at the port–park at the new cruise port parking lot for $18 a day, or use a stay and cruise package at one of the hotels for about $150 a night. We didn’t need a hotel for the night, so we had resigned ourselves to using the cruise terminal lot. Before we entered the cruise terminal area, we decided to drive around the port area for a few blocks and see if there were any other parking options.
We noticed that there were cars parked under the overpass right outside the terminal. We had parked here for free years ago when Carnival used to cruise out of Mobile. We saw a sign with a tow truck on it, so decided to bypass this option. About two blocks from the port we found the Quality Inn, which offers long term parking for $5/day. Winner! They also offer a park and stay package for $109. They even gave us a ride to the port!
There is also a public garage on the same street as the Quality Inn that charges $10/day. Between this public garage, the Quality Inn, and the possible free parking under the overpass I can’t see a reason why you would use the overpriced terminal parking, unless you have someone in a wheelchair.
Embarkation of the Carnival Fantasy
We got to the terminal at about 1:30 pm which was our scheduled arrival time, but no one checked this. They just made sure we had our boarding passes. The line moved very slowly through security. Our one-liter water bottles were removed from my bag, but the three-liter box of wine made it through. Security and check in took about an hour. We went to our room, dropped off our luggage and headed up to the Lido buffet for a quick lunch.
We returned to the room for about half an hour of unpacking and then went to the muster drill. Our muster station was in the Universe Lounge During the safety demonstration many people were watching football on their phones, and every once in a while someone would yell “Roll Tide!” If you are from Alabama or Georgia you know all about this strange form of Tourette’s. We then had to go out on deck by the lifeboats for another half hour. The total time for the safety demos was about an hour, and we were exhausted trying to keep the kids quiet and under control the whole time.
We were all at the end of our endurance for the day, after the long drive, the trip to Battleship Park, and the embarkation and muster drill. We had a quick dinner in the Lido, and we were all in bed by 8:00 pm!
Next–Day Two–First Sea Day