Magical Mystery Tour – The Good

Just in case you didn’t get here by clicking through the top-level “review,” I want to tell you how phenomenal the Piano Bar (PB) was.

The PB entertainer was Ben Gentry. He is recognized in the “Carnival PB world” as one of the premier entertainers. Sure, Carnival has many good entertainers, but most can’t do what Ben does. Somehow he makes friends with everyone who sits around his piano. It doesn’t matter how young or… ummmmm… not so young they are. A couple of songs after you sit down, you are his friend.

Oh the things Ben gets people to do… how does he do it? Standing room only.

Even more, after an evening with Ben, people around his piano have become friends with each other. I can’t tell you how many friends I have made sitting at Ben’s piano.  These new friends aren’t friends for merely the duration of the cruise. I still communicate with many of them, and together we dream-n-scheme about when we will meet around Ben’s piano again.

Although I’ve tried to analyze all this… tried figuring out how he does it… what he has that brings people together. It doesn’t matter your age… sex… nationality… orientation… political bent… nor anything else. Everyone around the piano become friends. Sure… he has talent and charisma, but lots of others have that. Only a few can make the folks in the PB one happy family. I have come to only one conclusion… it’s Magic. Ben has that “magic” few have.

Am I overstating my position? Well… maybe. But, consider that, except for the annual Barbarians cruises, I selected my last seven cruises because Ben was the Piano Bar Entertainer.

So… Ben Gentry in the Piano Bar – Very, Very Good.


I fell in love with Cozumel many years ago. On my first cruise to the island, I didn’t plan to get off the boat. But once my ship docked (old town Puerta Langosta), there was something about the place that just pulled me in. I stood on the balcony and saw the magnificent blue water and could hear the music coming from town. We were straight across from Senior Frogs. I went into town, did a walk-about, and it became my favorite Caribbean stop.

These days, Carnival docks at their own area farther down the island. Sometimes I take a cab into “old town,” but more often than not, I don’t even leave the compound right there at the dock. I get some good morning coffee at Cafe Punta del Cielo (Carnival’s coffee is patooooyyyyyy). Cafe Punta del Cielo has good wifi and good coffee. I usually spend an hour or so there getting my wifi and coffee “fix.”. Then it’s on to Pancho’s Back Yard.

View of the Carnival’s cruise ship compound. Click to open larger view in a new tab.

I’ll get something to eat and a Margarita… or two… or three at Pancho’s Back Yard. Pancho’s has the best Margaritas I have on any cruise. They use quality tequila and don’t skimp on anything. The food is also excellent. I always sit at a table under an umbrella in the “beach area.” It’s not really a beach. Instead, it’s a man-made “sandbox” up next to the sea-wall. Just the same, I kick off my flip-flops and put my toes in the sand.

Toes in the sand at Pancho’s Back Yard.

I usually sit there for a few hours… sipping on Margaritas with a little Marimba music in the background. For lunch, I have either enchiladas or burritos. They are mmmmm – mmmmmmm good. Later in the afternoon… still sipping Margaritas… I order some Quesadillas nibble on; flour tortillas, cheese, sour cream, beans, and a dish of salsa.  One more Margarita, and then it’s time to order a wheelbarrow to get me back to the ship.

Margaritas at Pancho’s Back Yard

Here’s a video that will give you a feel for Pancho’s.

I told you all about Pancho’s because I planned to go there this cruise… and these days, it’s hard to get me to go somewhere else. But this time, I was invited to go with friends to Nachi-Cocom. Of all the times I’ve been to Cozumel, I had never been to “Nachi.” Since it is one of the favorite places for folks, I thought it my duty to go so I could report back to you, my readers.

First… Nachi is an all-inclusive beach day. For $55, you get all you can eat and all you can drink… booze, beer, sodas, etc. (They also have kids pricing.) They limit the number of people per day to 130. So, you have to go online and make a reservation with an $11 deposit. Be sure to print out your reservation and take it with you. This is “rain or shine.” If you are a “no show,” you will still be charged the remaining $44 on your card (or PayPal). The only refund/cancellation is if the ship doesn’t make the port.

Nachi’s location is along a stretch of beach about 6 miles from the port. They have plenty of beach recliners and shade to go with them. The beach and water’s edge have some broken little sea-shells, so you should take water-shoes or flip-flops you don’t mind getting wet. I didn’t bring either. So I did the tippy-toe dance getting into and out of the water.

Nachi also has a pavilion area and a nice pool with a swim-up bar. We had snacks out by the beach and then moved to a table (with umbrella) for lunch by the pool. As I mentioned, our server followed us and never had to wait for him to be right there when we wanted to order.

You take a taxi to get there. Get to the taxis by walking all the way through the port “compound” and turn right when you get to the end. There will be a few guys there organizing the taxis. Tell him where you want to go, and he’ll set you up. It costs about $20 each way (plus any tip) for up to four people. Be sure you know up front what it’s going to cost. The taxi drivers are always trying to make an extra buck… or $10. So, be sure you agree on the fare as you get in. There were plenty of taxis around when we were ready to return to the port.

When you get to Nachi, you pay the remaining $44 of the entrance fee (take cash).  After paying, you’ll be introduced to a “server” who will take care of you wherever you go. We moved around, and service was always there anytime we wanted something. Overall, the service was outstanding.

That’s the “nuts & bolts” of Nachi. But what about everything else? Well… it’s kind of a mixed bag. I’m spoiled. I live steps away from the best beaches in the world… really. There are no better beaches than the ones in Northernmost Caribbean. So keep where I live in mind when I tell you… the beach at Nachi (all of Cozumel) is just “so-so.”

You won’t find the clear water you see next to the ship along the shore’s edge. It’s a bit murky. I’m not sure why. If you swim out maybe 100 yards, it’s that magnificent blue color again. Just not close in. One good bit of news is that in early November, the ocean water temp was still above 80 degrees.

“Vendors” will come along trying to interest you in a variety of water activities… banana boats, snorkeling, a massage (cheaper than on the ship), and a variety of other “pay for” stuff. None of that is part of the “all-inclusive.” They are not pushy, but several came by. We didn’t do any of their activities, but more continued to come by while we were by the beach.

We didn’t stay long at the beach area… maybe an hour. Then we moved to the pool. The water was crystal clear and warm. Since the air temperature was toasty, the pool was just perfect. For me, that means the water was probably around 85 degrees. I was in and out of the pool for the rest of our time at Nachi.

I never had to wait long to order another Margarita. As Margaritas go, they were good, and I ordered a few… but they were not great.  For lunch, I had a nice, big, juicy, fat & cholesterol filled hamburger. Mmmmmm-mmmmmm good. It was way better than the Guy’s Ferengie burgers you get on the ship… and I like the Ferengie burgers.

So… would I go there again? Well… it’s yes and no. I would go with a group of folks. Half the reason I cruise these days is to go with friends I’ve met over the years, and Nachi is an excellent place for a small group. This time it was lots of fun with friends! That said, if I wasn’t with a group, then Pancho’s has far better Margaritas.

For the rest of the review, click on:

Leave a Reply