OpinionCarnival Spirit Review: My Experience on Her Second Cruise Out of Mobile,...

Carnival Spirit Review: My Experience on Her Second Cruise Out of Mobile, AL

Carnival has returned to Mobile, Alabama! Residents of Alabama have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of the Carnival Spirit for months.

Carnival Spirit cruise out of Mobile, Alabama. Review.
Carnival Spirit on her second cruise out of Mobile, AL. (Photos courtesy of Kristi Sellers)

The Carnival Spirit set sail on its inaugural cruise out of Mobile on October 6th, 2023. Cruisers aboard this first sailing visited Bimini, Freeport, Nassau, and Half Moon Cay. I had the opportunity to sail on the second voyage, visiting Mahogany Bay, Belize, Costa Maya, and Cozumel.

My family had a wonderful time on this cruise. Was it perfect? No. Was it a great vacation spent aboard a beautiful ship, creating memories that will last a lifetime? Absolutely.

Arrival in Mobile

You may have read my recent article, The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly of Carnival Spirit’s Second Cruise from Mobile. If not, maybe give that a read when you have time.

There, I went in-depth about the train wreck that was the Mobile Cruise Terminal. By now, Mobile is likely to be in a rhythm and have everything worked out. On October 14th, they did not. It was as if a baseball player had been called up to the Major League, directly from Little League.

After parking, things greatly improved. After going through priority check-in, we were on board within 15 minutes. My family was greeted by several smiling faces that we would recognize throughout the week. We were Home.

Carnival spirit in mobile AL
Photo Credit: Kristi Sellers

Day 1 – Embarkation

Immediately, we could see that the ship was decorated for the Halloween season. The lobby was full of Halloween garland, music, and a towering “Patch, the Pumpkin Pirate”! Patch was definitely the centerpiece of the lobby and set the tone for the entire cruise.

Note: Hiding ducks around Patch was pretty popular throughout the trip. In fact, I found a duck on Deck 3, while enjoying music in the lobby. Someone had carefully placed a duck inside the Halloween garland surrounding the Pixels area. Always look EVERYWHERE for hidden ducks! 

Halloween on Carnival Spirit

Since we had priority boarding, we were able to take our luggage directly to our cabin. Upon arrival, we met our amazing cabin steward, Rai. If you have the opportunity to cruise the Spirit, Rai is a Housekeeping Whisperer. He was literally in the hallway every single time we passed through. We could be gone for just a quick meal and upon our return, our room was perfect.

This evening we explored the ship and learned our way around. The Jungle Interior Promenade quickly became a favorite for us. This is a unique area that winds around the outer area of the promenade, while being indoors. The entire area is decorated like a jungle. This was another very popular area for hiding ducks.

decor and design on Carnival Spirit
Photo Courtesy of Kristi Sellers

Day 2 – Fun Day at Sea

Today was the perfect day to explore the Carnival Spirit. After sleeping in, we made our way to the Lido and sampled a variety of breakfast selections. The buffet this time of day is truly a breakfast lovers’ paradise. You will find breakfast meats, eggs, potatoes, Eggs Benedict (each day alternates between ham and salmon), cereals, oatmeal, grits, waffles or pancakes, juices, and coffee. For a spot-on breakfast burrito or huevos rancheros, visit Blue Iguana Cantina.

Today, we attended the Diamond Luncheon. The Captain and his officers were in attendance, as well as the Cruise Director, Erin. We enjoyed filet mignon, crab cakes, and deconstructed chocolate cake.

Apparently, this was the day for eating way too much. Tonight, we had reservations in the Steakhouse for my mother’s birthday. The service was impeccable and the food was perfectly cooked. A couple of us enjoyed the Surf & Turf, while my husband was in heaven eating his 18oz rib eye.

After dinner, we attended one of the Carnival Playlist Production Shows, 80s Pop to the Max. The Carnival entertainers performed their versions of Duran Duran, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, and Cindy Lauper.

Day 3 – Fun Day at Sea

Our second “Fun Day at Sea” was full of relaxation and–you guessed it–eating lots of food!

We started our day with another trip to the Lido buffet. After we indulged a bit too much, we grabbed a coffee and made our way to the Alchemy Bar area. This part of the ship has plenty of seating and was popular throughout the cruise. Here, we people-watched, read our books, and played crossword puzzles until lunchtime. We sampled a yummy cheeseburger from Guy’s Burgers for a late lunch.

Later, my husband and I introduced my parents to the game Phase 10. We played this game in the Alchemy Bar seating area. After playing through about half the phases, we all retired to our rooms for a nap.

We spent time exploring the ship this evening and paid special attention to The Fun Shops. We really enjoyed the shopping areas on this ship, especially the layout and space. There was a wide variety of merchandise and a lot of clearance items from the previous Alaskan cruises.

Tonight, we decided to check out the Serenity area. We enjoyed the clam shells and gazed at the stars at the back of the ship. I may or may not have snuck off to grab a freshly-made ham and cheese sandwich before returning to the comforts of the cushioned chairs. We highly recommend visiting the Serenity area at night. It’s not busy and it’s very peaceful.

Day 4 – Roatan

Unfortunately, today was a wet and rainy mess. The skies were gray and rain was steady all day long. We did not have an excursion planned today, so we did not rush to exit the ship. We leisurely enjoyed breakfast and another round of Phase 10.

Close to lunchtime, my husband and I decided to brave the weather. We walked around the lovely port of Mahogany Bay. Several local shops were open and the stores were pretty busy. The Craft Market was our favorite spot. Located near the end of the port shopping area, The Craft Market was akin to the Straw Market in Nassau.

The market was much smaller than the Straw Market but it had the same feel. Local merchants displayed their unique wares and were ready to make some deals.

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Once we finished at The Craft Market, the rain started to pour down. We walked to the entrance of the Magical Flying Chairs, but the rain was just too much. At that point, we walked back to the ship and lounged around for the rest of the afternoon.

Day 5 – Belize

Today, we woke up to a bit of a surprise. We decided to sleep in and we were woken up by an announcement over the intercom by the Captain. The ship had lost power. We were already anchored outside of Belize but the cabin was dark and it was obvious that there was a problem.

For the next hour, we would receive several announcements and updates. While the power was out, we were unable to use the restrooms or use the main cabin lights. After a while, we were notified that the power was starting to be restored. Over the next bit of time, the lights were slowly turned back on. Eventually, we were able to use the restrooms and life resumed as previously planned.

The last time I tendered into Belize, I got sick while on the boat. None of us really wanted to deal with the choppy waters or tender boats today, so we opted to stay onboard.

The four of us enjoyed a round of mini golf. We had a great time and I highly recommend playing a round the next time you are onboard.

After our game, we visited the Blue Iguana Cantina for some lunch. I chose a bowl with steak rice, black beans, pico de gallo, sour cream, salsa verde, medium salsa, shredded cheese, and extra cilantro.

Day 6 – Costa Maya

Costa Maya cruise port on Carnival SPirit
Costa Maya, Mexico. Photo courtesy of Kristi Sellers

Today, we woke up to the beautiful Costa Maya. We knew ahead of time that there would be a total of four cruise ships in port. If you aren’t familiar with Costa Maya, that is A LOT of people for that area.

After another delicious breakfast on the Lido, my husband and I decided to exit the ship. We walked with the masses towards the entrance of the port area. Once we arrived at the end of the pier, there was a bit of a “traffic jam”. It took a bit for the crowd to disperse. There were multiple tour operators soliciting vacationers to purchase tours for the day.

We made our way through the port area over the next couple of hours. It was so busy that the people were literally being “herded” through the shopping areas. There was zero extra space and it was one big sweaty mess by the time we made it through.

Related: Best things to do in Costa Maya on a cruise

After making our way back to the ship, we prepared for dinner. This evening, we decided to eat at Bonsai Sushi. This meal was fantastic and the service was excellent. Between the four of us, we tried the Tempura Roll, Bonsai Noodle Salad, Wagyu Kakuni, and a Bento Box.

Bonsai Sushi on Carnival Spirit
Photo courtesy of Kristi Sellers

Day 7 – Cozumel

Like many, Cozumel is my favorite port to visit. Luckily, the Carnival Spirit was the only ship at the Puerta Maya Pier. We had the entire port area to ourselves. It was fantastic.

We made our way through the duty-free shops and created mental notes of the possible purchases we could make on our way back to the ship.

My family went directly to our favorite Cozumel store, Los Cinco Soles. This store is always our pick for souvenirs and gifts for family. Los Cinco Soles isn’t your typical touristy souvenir shop. They sell artisanal crafts, produced by local artists. This is also the place for authentic Mexican vanilla. The prices are a bit higher here, but the quality is greater.

Carnival Spirit in port in Cozumel
Photo courtesy of Kristi Sellers

After looking around Los Cinco Soles, we visited Pancho’s Backyard. You can enter Pancho’s through one side of Los Cinco Soles, or you can enter by the outside patio area. We opted for a table on the sandy, beach-like area by the restaurant.

For the next couple of hours, we enjoyed each other’s company and noshed on appetizers. We sampled authentic guacamole, salsa, and freshly-made chips. The guacamole was so good, we ordered two rounds of it for our group.

Day 8 – Fun Day at Sea

We spent our last day at sea enjoying the beautiful Carnival Spirit as much as possible. After breakfast, we spent some time relaxing on our balcony. Our view was partially obstructed, but that never deterred us throughout the trip. A lifeboat was in our view, but only a small amount of the boat blocked any views.

We explored the Fun Shops more and thoroughly enjoyed our stress-free day at sea. The casino was our “home” for a majority of the afternoon.

If you enjoy the casinos on Carnival ships, the one aboard the Spirit is no different. The Casino Hosts are very friendly, there is a nice assortment of slots and table games, and plenty of activities were planned throughout the week.

Related: Best ways to enjoy sea days on a cruise

After enjoying one last Philly Cheesesteak sandwich from the Lido, we made our way back to our cabin to organize our luggage. Packing our bags is always bittersweet but a necessary evil of every cruise.

Luckily, we figured out how to get everything sorted and put away into our bags. We did not set any bags outside our room, as we planned to walk off the ship with all of our luggage.

Debarkation

We set our alarms for roughly 5:30AM. We wanted to have enough time to eat breakfast on the Lido one last time. After getting ready, eating breakfast, and gathering our luggage, we made our way to The Napoleon Room. This was the designated spot for Diamond card-holders to meet and leave the ship as early as possible.

After waiting close to thirty minutes, we were led off the ship by the Cruise Director, Erin. We quickly made our way through Customs and we were back to our car within fifteen minutes of leaving the ship.

This cruise was absolutely wonderful. There were a few hiccups along the way, but nothing that made our trip negative.

Carnival Spirit with 2 ships in background
My parents have scheduled another cruise on the ship and they will sail to the Bahamas and Key West. My husband and I are deciding on our next ship.

We’ve considered the Carnival Spirit for an Alaskan cruise next year, or another Caribbean cruise that visits Jamaica and Grand Cayman. Whatever we decide, we are sure to make memories that will last a lifetime.

Read more by Kristi:
Best ways to spend a sea day on a cruise ship
10 Best tips for packing light for a cruise

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Kristi Sellers
Kristi Sellers
Kristi took her first cruise when she was 12 years old and is currently planning her 20th. When she isn’t cruising, she loves to visit the Smoky Mountains. Kristi lives in Alabama with her husband and fur baby, Chico.
OpinionCarnival Spirit Review: My Experience on Her Second Cruise Out of Mobile,...
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1 COMMENT

  1. We had the same experience on this same cruise. Loved the ship and cruise but Mobile was the worst experience out of any cruise port we have ever departed from. We were held in an overflow lot for 1 1/2 hours past our check in time which was 10. Then instead of letting the lot where we were being held go the parking garage, we had to get behind a line of cars past interstate 10. We ended up parking on the top floor of the garage. (Uncovered parking). I swore I would never depart from Mobile again.
    They definitely need to get their act together.
    We love Carnival but not Mobile.

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