A January 2004 trip
to Western Caribbean by angelsil
Quote: Sixty like-minded friends take over the Carnival Fascination! Most of us were first-time cruisers, so that is the perspective we got. Overall, we had a great time and loved the cruise. The positives: cabin size, drinks, service. The negatives: early shut-down of facilities, so-so food.
One of the main advantages of Coconut Grove is that they are open pretty much from early morning until the midnight buffet. Two hot buffet lines are located at the entrance of the restaurant. One of these serves the international 'flavor of the day' (for example, Italian) and the other serves American food. For breakfast, both serve pancakes, eggs, hash browns, and the like. In the center of the restaurant, a salad and fruit bar offers fresh fruit and veggies all day. There is also a dessert bar set up for lunch and dinner. We had the rum cake and it was fantastic. At the rear of the restaurant, you will find the bar and the 24-hour pizzeria. The food quality at Coconut Grove is not as good as in the formal dining room. However, I found it to be acceptable and I'm picky. The pizza was definitely a hit with our group. For families, I think Coconut Grove makes a nice place to relax without the formality of the main dining room. I think it would be a comfortable environment for small children especially.
Coconut Grove has booths and table inside with lovely views of the water from large glass windows. Alternately, you can dine al fresco at the tables outside. Be careful, though. Even when docked, the wind can be a challenge! During breakfast hours, a drink server will come by with complimentary coffee and orange juice. As the day progresses, this position will be taken up by bar servers offering the 'special of the day'. These aren't free, however!
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on February 4, 2004
Attraction | "Papa Hog's"
Our group undertook a snuba trip. This requires no previous diving experience, though I myself am certified. Our dive instructor/leader, Julie, was very helpful. Snuba is much like scuba in that you breath through a regulator and wear weight belts to help you sink. The difference is that your airtank floats on the surface of the water in a raft and two people share one tank using air hoses. Also, you are limited to 20 feet depth, thus you needn't worry about equalizing on the ascent (only the descent).
We swam out from the shore to our reef, slowly descending to around 20 feet. The reef is protected by buoys, so there is little boat traffic. We didn't see any other divers, snorkelers or snuba'ers until the last few minutes. We got to spend the 25 minutes underwater pretty much alone. Visibility was only marginal, due to winds.
The reef itself is nice, but has suffered damage. There were many varieties of hard corals and a few anemones. Fish life was varied, and included some Sergeant Majors, Gray Angelfish, a Moray Eel, and some Butterflyfish. The sea life in this area cannot compete with the Great Barrier Reef, but is certainly worth a look.
After our journey, we returned to the shore and took our equipment off. The day we dove, it was extremely choppy and this made getting in and out of the water more difficult than usual. Our dive guide and the entire team at Papa Hog's were very helpful in that capacity. Should I return to Cozumel, I would not hesitate to use their services for a diving tour.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on January 19, 2004
Attraction | "Shopping on Duval Street"
Member Rating 1 out of 5 on January 24, 2004
Key West, Florida
Attraction | "The Conga Line of Alcohol -- Carlos 'n' Charlie's"
Carlos 'n' Charlie's is located in downtown Cozumel directly across from the downtown port. I think they've strategically placed themselves close to a port so those inebriated cruise ship passengers can find their way back to the ship. In our case, however, we were sailing out of the southern port, so it didn’t help at all. If you're trying to locate C 'n' C, head downtown and listen for loud music and rowdy people. Follow the sounds. There you go.
Our group hit Carlos 'n' Charlie's around 7pm. Some of the group had been there all day (!) and were suffering the effects as witnessed by their dancing on tables and attempting to take off clothing. The first thing I experienced was a Sex on the Beach shot. This consists of a bar server pouring the concoction down your throat, grabbing/pinching various body parts, all the while blowing on a whistle as loudly as they can. Interesting. Then came the yard-long margaritas. They have them in every flavor imaginable. I went for a rum runner. It was tasty, but not terribly strong for the $12.95 going price. The second I had was almost undrinkable it was so strong. One thing I noticed was the serious inconsistency in drinks. Some were weak. Some were jet fuel. At that point, I was feeling good and so were most of the group.
As the bar filled up with mostly younger cruise ship patrons, it was time for the conga line. The idea is simple. You form a conga line and 'dance' around the bar. Along the way bar servers pour shots of margarita down your throat. There are shot stations about every 10 feet, so if you make it all the way you're totally hammered. I did *not* make it all the way. Shot number three inadvertently went into my eye. Ow.
We were smart and had designated a timekeeper to stay remotely sober and make sure we got back to the ship in time. Somewhere around 9pm, we all poured into minivans and headed for Puerta Maya (our port). While nobody was permanently injured by our stay at Carlos 'n' Charlie's, there were a few green souls the next day. Rumour has it that Carlos 'n' Charlie's also has food, but I can't speak to it or the possible selection or quality. I can only advise that you eat something before taking a trip to C 'n' C and that you not plan on being anywhere for a while.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on February 3, 2004
Carlos & Charlies
Blvd Kukulcan 4.5
Cancun, Mexico 77500
Clifton, New Jersey