Regions:Caribbean Eastern, Caribbean Western, Caribbean
Good for: First-time Cruisers. Families. Singles.
Good for: Value for Money. Overall Service. Children`s Programs.
Good for: Seniors. Singles. Families.
Good for: Singles. Families. Children`s Programs.
Good for: Teens. First-time Cruisers. Families.
Regions:Caribbean Eastern, Caribbean Western
Good for: Teens. Singles. Families.
Regions:Caribbean Eastern, Caribbean Western
Good for: Singles. Group. Families.
Regions:Mexico, Caribbean Eastern, Hawaii
Good for: Families. Overall Service. Value for Money.
Regions:Bahamas, Caribbean Eastern
Good for: Singles. Group. First-time Cruisers.
Regions:Bahamas, Caribbean Eastern
Regions:Bahamas, Bermuda, South America
Good for: Group. Families. Foodies.
Regions:Europe, TransAtlantic, Caribbean
Good for: Value for Money. Singles. Families.
Good for: Families. Children`s Programs. Singles.
Regions:Caribbean Eastern, Caribbean Western
Good for: Group. Families. Luxury Travelers.
Good for: Group. Singles. First-time Cruisers.
Good for: Singles. Teens. Seniors.
Good for: Families. Group. Singles.
Good for: Families. Value for Money. First-time Cruisers.
Regions: Bahamas, Caribbean, Canada/New England, Cruise To Nowhere
Good for: Children`s Programs. Singles. Families.
Regions:Bahamas, Caribbean, Mexico, Panama Canal
Good for: Singles. Families. Children`s Programs.
Good for: Seniors. Families. Children`s Programs.
Good for: Group. First-time Cruisers. Families.
Good for: Group. Families. Singles.
Gem Palace (Milano Diamond Gallery) is one of Carnival Cruiseline's recommended stores. Carnival cannot be trusted when it comes to their port shopping program... it is all a ploy for them to make more money by receiving a cut when you make in-port purchases. The guarantee they offer is completely worthless.
On May 10, 2011, I purchased a 14 karat white gold diamond ring from Milano Diamond Gallery in Georgetown, Grand Cayman for the amount of $3395.00. I consider the item purchased at Milano Diamond Gallery to be a fraudulent product.
34 days after purchasing the ring, a small diamond fell out (one of 58 small diamonds surrounding 3 larger diamonds). I became uneasy about the product I had purchased, so on June 20, 2011 I took the ring to a very trusted and reputable jeweler whom I have done business with for years. After inspecting the ring, he informed me that it was a "total disaster" and that there were several more diamonds on the verge of falling out at any time.
I received a certified letter from the jeweler (and certified gemologist) who inspected the ring. He stated the following:
“Uponinspection of a 14K white gold diamond ring belonging to Katie Morgan, it is evident that the reason for a diamond falling out of the ring is because of inferior workmanship in the setting process of the diamonds. It is evident that more diamonds will fall out of this ring because of the lack of stability of prong work when the diamonds were set. It is not an option to rebuild all prong work because of major expense involved and the initial instability of material to work with. We are custom-design manufacturers of jewelry of all types, and have over 30 years of experience in the field of manufacturing of jewelry, for not only the public but other stores as well."
I have since made numerous attempts to settle my dispute with Milano Diamond Gallery who has been extremely uncooperative and difficult to contact. My emails to the company have gone unanswered and when I called Milano headquarters in New York on June 22, 2011, my requests to speak to a supervisor were repeatedly denied.
After having no success reasoning with the merchant (Milano) I turned to Carnival and The PPI Group (who is in charge of the port shopping program) to take responsibility. I sent multiple emails to corporate leaders, contacted customer service many times, and even sent certified letters to The PPI Headquarters. I have only gotten responses from one staff member and she has repeatedly denied my requests to demand a refund from Milano.
My husband and I have cruised 17 times and all on Carnival. We have always enjoyed our cruises, the destinations and the food. On May 7, 2011 we cruised on the Fascination - an older ship. Our Room was V16 and was billed as a suite. This is NOT a SUITE! I think they call it a mini suite, because they include a mini frig/bar in the room. That is it ! ! Be aware they charge you for a "mini" suite, when in fact it is smaller than a balcony on most ships. The balcony is so small, you can't turn the chairs around and both of you sit on the balcony comfortably. The balcony on the Veranda "Suites" overlook the deck below. It was not ideal. My husband did not even sit out once!! because of the size, and he is over 6 feet tall. If you do book a room in this category, be prepared to be disappointed with the balcony and the room. There is no whirlpool tub or separate dressing area, as there are in other suites, on other ships. My sister and husbandtagged along this time, and got an ocean view room U182, that sleeps 4 supposedly.
It also was the tiniest room with 2 wall cots, no sofa, and extremely small!They had never cruised before, that the room was a great disappointment to them. That said...we enjoyed our stops at Half Moon Cay - one of the prettiest beaches we have ever seen; Grand Turk - another pretty beach, and Nassau. We were also disappointed that the Atlantis Paradise hotel now block visitors from visiting their lobby/aquarium area. You can gamble in their hotel, but don't try and venture anywhere. You get stopped. If we came to Nassau again, we would do a tour or find something else to do other than going over to Atlantis. To spend time at their water facilites, the prices are very extravagant if you are not looking to spend a pile of money.
All in all trip was lovely..we enjoyed the water slides on the back of the ship..and the deck entertainment during the days. We are not drinkers so we don't spend a fortune on drinks...and we are also giving up soda too for our health!! so we don't buy a soda card anymore either! We enjoyed the pizza, deli sandwiches and the dining room at night serves lots of selections for dinner. If you can't find something you like, we would be surprised! We would not sail this ship again, however - but we would said Carnival again.
Minnesota family of four cruising the first time with Carnival. Hubby and I have sailed previously with Royal Caribbean once and Princess twice. Our party included me (37), husband (45), and our two girls (5 & 2). We chose this line because the Carnival Camp kids program grouped kids from 2-5 and it would let our girls stay together. Plus, Carnival will actually change kid's diapers!
We flew in the night before and rented a mini-van from Budget to get to Cape Canaveral. We didn't bring our own car seats but were able to rent a couple from Budget ($13/each). Much nicer than lugging your own! They don't put them in the car for you so you need to make sure to ask where to find them and then be prepared to put them in yourself. Trip to Cape Canaveral was uneventful and we stayed at the Country Inn & Suites right near Port Canaveral. They upgraded us from a standard to a one bedroom suite! The room was nice, clean, and quiet. For dinner we went to The Pig and Whistle which is an English pub style bar andrestaurant that had that comfortable and well-used look. I had the fish and chips and hubby had the hand-dipped deep fried shrimp. Both were very good!
The next morning we had the complimentary breakfast offered at the hotel, which had the usual suspects of scrambled eggs, sausage links, potatoes, waffles, cereal, yogurt, bagels, muffins and toast. It was a very decent breakfast.
We drove our rental car to Budget and turned the car in. A shuttle was waiting for us when we arrived and within 10 minutes we were on our way to the port. We arrived at the port around 10:40am, embarkation took about 30 minutes and was fairly painless although not sure what was up with the two security photos back to back? We took our carryon bags and hung out at the Waves pool under an umbrella and relaxed while waiting for our cabin to open at 1:30pm. We dropped off our bags in the room, met our room steward, then went off to explore the ship until the muster drill. Their Long Island Iced Tea's were pretty strong, so after a couple of those I was ready to nap with the kids back in the room.
Online we had been wait-listed for Your Time Dining but at embarkation, we were assigned the 6pm dining time. Hubby went to talk with the Maitre d' when he was available at 12:30 to request moving us to Your Time Dining. He was told that they would be able to let us know by 2pm the next day if they could accommodate us, so that evening we ate at the Gathering (buffet) with the kids. We were notified the next day that we had been changed to Your Time Dining - Yay!
We decided to forego leaving the ship during port days, so our days roughly followed this schedule -
7 - 8am Wake up and get ready 8 - 9am Eat breakfast in The Gathering 9 - 10am Take kids to Camp Carnival 10 - 11:45am Workout at the gym, shop the onboard stores, walk around, relax 11:45am - 1pm Pickup the kids from Camp Carnival. Spent time with them swimming, playing mini-golf, walk around, etc. 1 - 3pm Drop the kids off at Camp Carnival. Walked around, relaxed, etc 3 - 4pm Pick the kids up and have a light lunch 4 - 7pm Kids take a nap, usually the adults did too (or hung out on the balcony reading, listening to music, watching the waves) 7 - 8pm Get the kids up and get ready for dinner 8 - 10pm Take the kids with us to the Crimson Dining Room. We had their meals come out with our adult appetizers and then hubby would take them to Camp Carnival before we got our entrees. 10pm - 12am Depending on the night, went to see a show, watch a band, visit the Casino 12 - 12:30am Pick the kids up and hit the hay
Embarkation: It was fairly painless and went fairly quickly. I like how you were handed a zone number that they called to board the ship, which prevented others from sneaking on earlier.
Room: We were on the Verandah Deck (Deck 8) cabin 8349. I loved the location because it was a very short walk to the stairs and elevators which brought us directly to the entrance to The Gathering on Deck 10 and Camp Carnival on Deck 11. The balcony was narrow but good enough for our needs. We were high enough that the extended Promenade Deck 5 didn't hinder our view of the waves when sitting down. The room was neat and clean and was kept that way by the Room Steward every day.
Food: The Gathering had decent food and had a fair number of choices. I did like the different food stations that offered pasta, burritos, Indian, Pizza, hamburgers and hotdogs, and paninis.
The soft serve ice cream machines were also very popular with the kids!
In the evening we dined in the Crimson Dining Room on Deck 4. For the most part I thought the food was very good as were the desserts. It is true that the Warm Chocolate Melting Cake was very good and I'm not a big fan of chocolate.
Bar: We usually ordered either Tanqueray and tonics or Long Island Iced Teas and both were quite good. I did think that the bartenders for the most part weren't a very friendly group. They were efficient but didn't seem to smile much. The bar wait staff were much friendlier, however.
Entertainment: It seemed that there weren't enough of a variety of activities to fill the days and nights compared to Royal Caribbean, but we went with what was there. The Cruise Director staff was good and I liked Butch the Cruise Director - he had a ton of energy.
Don‘t miss the Love Game Show!
People: It was a younger, slightly rowdier crowd than other cruise lines but it also created a fun atmosphere.
Debarkation: Because our flight didn't depart until 3:30pm, we were one of the last to get off the ship which was called around 9:40am. We had to leave our cabin by 8:30 and made our way to the Encore theatre on Deck 3. The lines were a bit long to get off the ship and go through customs but it was waiting for the Budget shuttle that took the longest. There were two ships arriving that day so with all of the people being moved in both directions it could explain the delay, but it did seem lengthy. Something to consider if you're in a hurry to catch a flight.
Amy & Dave
This was our fourth cruise with Carnival and it will unfortunately be our last. While the ship itself is wonderful, especially the flow between the public areas onboard, three specific issues presented a less wonderful cruise experience.
First, and most importantly, is that of smoking being permitted everywhere inside of the casino. Furthermore, for those passengers and children using Deck Two to reach or depart the forward theatre, or access the card room, travel through the poorly ventilated casino was mandatory.
Second, the newly introduced policy of punishing a passenger who purchased alcohol while ashore, and also arranged to have it delivered to the ship. Under the new policy, the passenger is now required to report to a specially designated area onboard the ship to reclaim their purchase at 8:30am on morning of departure. However, had we purchased the alcohol onboard in the shops, Carnival would have delivered the purchase to our room the last night and it could have been put inside our checked luggage before we put it ouside the cabin. In our situation, this change was particularly frustrating since we had to reclaim our luggage on the dock, and then hastilyand in full public view of security and customs officials, repack the 'liquids' in our checked luggage in order to board our flight home.
Third, and perhaps a minor issue to other passengers, is that of the table settings at dinner. I have sailed over twenty-five times and never has it been necessary to use the same cutlery for each of the different food courses delivered to our table. In our situation, whenever any member of my party of six left used cutlery in the respective dish being removed, the table staff would first ask the individual to place the dirty cutlery back on the table.
While I understand the cruise industry is hurting given the recent downturn in the economy, it is by way of the foregoing three examples that I am relieved to know that I can still choose to seek out other cruise lines who can, and apparently will, cater to my personal needs.
We sailed Fantasy for our first cruise last week & enjoyed ourselves. So much so that we bought a FCC & are looking forward to cruising again. This is long because I typed out thoughts as they came to me so sorry if this isn't in the best order, but don't want to forget. I'll end with pros, cons & random thoughts.
I know most are more interested in the cruise itself, but I'm adding a short review for the SC restaurant, park & cruise hotel we stayed at, & ports as well:
Had dinner at Hyman's in downtown Charleston. JMHO, this restaurant is an overrated tourist trap. Food is average at best, & the wait wasn't worth it. Service was excellent though.
Aloft Hotel: We did the park & cruise package here, and I wouldn't recommend it to anyone. The hotel itself is fine, but Aloft recently picked up a contract with an airline to shuttle pilots back and forth to the airport twice a day for 2-4 hours each shift depending on how many need a ride. Since Aloft gets paid extra for that, guests aren't a priority for shuttleuse unless they're going to the airport â€“ and even then pilots get first dibs.
I confirmed use of the shuttle to get to and from the port several times prior to arrival (thankfully I got names of those I spoke with â€“ this helped later). Upon arrival I again asked for confirmation & this time was told that they weren't sure because Aloft no longer offered the park & cruise program. I stated that nobody informed me of this during any of my earlier inquiries, & was told I'd have to speak with the manager in the morning. I was upset not only because we paid for the service, but because I knew we'd be tired after the cruise & I had not researched other options to get back to the hotel. Yes we could pay for a cab & would have done so if necessary, but doing so made the park & cruise savings irrelevant as we could've paid much less to simply park at the port & not stayed at a hotel at all.
The next morning the Aloft manager said they would honor the agreement, but we couldn't leave for the port until 1:00 PM & depending on what time we got off the ship, we'd have to wait for a return ride until after the pilot shuttles were complete. In the end, we only waited about 30 minutes for the return shuttle after the cruise disembarked, & since we stayed at the hotel one more night after the cruise returned they let us in at 10:30 AM, probably to make up for the initial drama. Nevertheless, next time I'll stay at another hotel that offers this service.
CRUISE: Embarkation went smoothly for us. We excitedly arrived at the port at 1:30 PM & was onboard by 2:20 PM, having our first DOD by 2:30 PM. No complaints there but walking up that steep gangway to get on the boat was no joke! I'd happily do it again though Which leads me to ...
We took entirely too much stuff with us! I created a master list based on the super sized master list on these boards & was glad I didn't take most of it. We'll pack much lighter next time!
We stayed in an Ocean view on the Empress deck in what I deemed a perfect location, it was easy to get to everything. I learned the layout of the ship pretty quickly, finding shortcuts to different areas, & Hubby said I was already too comfortable LOL. Room was a decent size, but read here the Fantasy's bathrooms are larger than other ships â€“ YIKES LOL. I'd hate to see what other ship bathrooms look like!
We hung stuff up in the closet from the garment bag but for the most part we never unpacked, just lived out of suitcases. Only unpacked toiletries.
I liked that on one side was some kind of fire station room so it seemed like we really only shared a wall with one cabin â€“ luckily we only heard one fight & after they cursed each other when she told him to get the eff out, he went quietly & that was the end of that drama ... we never saw them face to face. Walls are definitely thin.
Although I read several times Fantasy is this oldest ship in the fleet, she looked very well maintained. Everything was as clean as could be, damn near spotless EXCEPT for the smoking areas. Ashtrays need to be emptied more regularly there (most were overflowing with ashes & butts & when the wind blew went all over the place) & tables need to be cleaned/cleared more often there as well. Hubby did this cleaning himself wherever he/we sat every time we went there. Everywhere else, someone was always cleaning, wiping something down, or painting something. Which leads me to â€¦
Smoking section: Hubby is a smoker, I am not (used to be though). He wasn't happy with the smoking arrangements. It didn't ruin his cruise but he complained often that the permitted areas were too few & far between, & since he had no idea smoking used to be a free for all onboard, he wasn't just rebelling against a new policy. We decided on our next cruise to see if we can splurge for a balcony so that he can smoke in the room without having to walk halfway across the ship.
There was a lot of talk on these boards of a foul odor aboard the Fantasy. I can only state that we never smelled anything foul anywhere at any time, & nobody I cruised with ever mentioned a bad smell anywhere either & we all stayed on different floors (Empress, Main & Upper).
Silent debarkation went well, but if you're doing it to attempt to sleep in a little later as I thought I would/could â€¦ forget that! The self assist crowd will wake the dead LOL! Plus since we were on the Empress level everyone gets on/off there so it's louder. Debarkation is very controlled by the Carnival employees & organized I must add (assuming you go when your level disembarks). But doing the relaxed mode gave us time to enjoy a leisurely hot breakfast with our co-cruisers before going our separate ways.
We left our bags in the room & returned to get debark info from Channel 17, which was helpful as we got to our room just in time for them to call our dreaded debarkation number. Although I wasn't happy to be leaving, I was happy to get off a little earlier so as not to spend a lot of time on those gangways while getting off the ship, I'm sure they're safe but they made me nervous & when I looked behind me there were tons of people that seemed stuck waiting on them. Took about an hour from the time we left our room till we cleared customs & back to reality.
PROs: Dwi, our room steward, was excellent! He knew us by name & greeted us every time we encountered him. He was on point throughout the entire cruise & hubby gave him something extra for doing so.
On a Cruise Critic tipping thread, I wondered aloud why cleaning the room twice a day was necessary (having never cruised before, I could only compare to hotels which clean once a day) & must confess that I loved this perk, especially on port days. We'd go out, come back & the room was clean with fresh towels. We'd take showers & go back out. Return after dinner to fresh towels, etc. & the animal. That was wonderful, it really is the little things sometimes. Clothesline in the shower is nice too & although nothing ever dried fast enough it was nice to have somewhere to put wet suits that was out of the way.
Although we weren't enthused with all of the employees, they do work extremely hard for whatever they're making, although neither of us are fully convinced they make as little as these boards claim and if so, then I still believe Carnival can & should do better. However, the majority of employees we encountered definitely earn the $10/per person per day we're charged in tips.
Lost too much money playing Bingo, but had fun trying. Tried every DOD & they were all tasty, but especially enjoyed the one served on the first day (ordered them several times throughout the cruise) & the one served in the monkey's head ... although it was waaay overpriced (ended up giving it to a kid anyway).
Food was good, we enjoyed pretty much everything we ate. Although we had some issues with the MDR wait staff, I'll give them props for working with our table mates, who were frequently late, somewhat demanding, & usually closed the dining room out during the first seating.
Of course the warm chocolate melting cake was delicious, fave dinner was the St. Louis ribs which fell off the bone. The rum raisin ice cream & bread pudding dessert was absolutely DELICIOUS! Dare I say (as I don my flame retardant suit), that the bread pudding/rum raisin combo was better than the warm chocolate melting cake! Enjoyed everything we ate at the Lido buffet, which was standard buffet fare for the most part & for some reason I loved the chicken fingers & fries. Really enjoyed the French Toast made with raisin bread in the Celebration dining room for breakfast, as well as the hot coffee (best free coffee on the ship to me). Also loved the cherry danishes for breakfast (at buffet & in Celebration). A co-cruiser loved the sushi which was made fresh at a stand near the casino, couldn't stop raving about it & said sushi served in the MDR wasn't as good or fresh. Hubby enjoyed the flat iron steak & ribs. We also enjoyed the southern fried chicken and pastas. Hubby wasn't always happy with the portion size & began ordering two entrees. Fried mozzarella was a nice treat, & the Caesar salad was good each evening. I enjoyed the prime rib (one of my faves in general) & the short ribs in particular were very tender and tasty â€“ even more tender than the filet mignon if you can believe that - could've used that filet mignon as a weapon!
Re: birthday cake you can order via Bon Voyage, although I didn't get to taste it everyone said it was delicious.
I really enjoyed my spa experience. After a co-cruiser raved about the massage she got (except for the heavy selling tactics) I was jealous & went for one myself on Wed. evening but they were booked solid. However, they agreed to honor the port special price of $99 for three services (neck, back & feet) the next morning. On Thursday, I noticed there was another round of bingo occurring at the same time, & they graciously moved my appointment back an hour. Tracey in the spa took good care of me & made me wish I'd splurged for the full body massage (tried not to be greedy since I had one the day before the cruise left Charleston!) I told her up front that I wasn't buying anything & gently advised her to use that time to take herself a longer break in between customers. She LOL, but didn't try it & earned herself a nice tip so I didn't have to deal with that.
Comedy club was the height of our entertainment experience, including the comedic juggler. Comedy club is way too small though, standing room only both nights & we had to get there early to get them. We spoke with one comedian who was being flown out the next day to do a one night stand on another Carnival ship & play golf â€“ what a life, huh?
We enjoyed listening to Henry play at the piano bar every chance we got, & had drinks there several times throughout the cruise. Luckily he wasn't far from our cabin on Empress. Various triviathons held daily throughout the ship were fun as well.
Had no problem using our drink coupons (saw varying Cruise Critic posts on this). There were times when a drink exceeded the $5.75 that they offered to take 2 coupons ... it's cheaper to pay the difference on the one drink but that's up to each individual.
CONs: Reading on these boards about the nonstop picture taking didn't make it easier to deal with. We eventually asked them not to take any pictures of us & ran by them when getting off the ship every chance we got.
Although we were NEVER rude, demanding, and/or nasty to employees, we encountered a few that seemed to have negative attitudes, especially if you weren't willing to spend money. Maybe they were overworked or just having a bad day, but there it is I said it.
Jubilee MDR wait staff (and Celebration wait staff in the mornings) were just okay, not great. Many times at dinner they'd bring food out & just sit it down in front of anybody, not seeming to care who ordered what. Sometimes food was served lukewarm & a few times different people at our table sent food back to be reheated. Many times we asked for sides and/or coffee that were never received, or we'd have to ask several times in order to get it.
The MDR drink waiter was the most annoying â€¦ I know he's just doing his job, but asking every 2 minutes (literally) if I want a drink that I have to keep declining (either because I already have a drink or just don't want one) is annoying. When he didn't like the response, his negative attitude clearly showed on his face & body language. The next day he was serving drinks on the Lido deck & we ordered a few. I said to him, "See why we don't order alcohol at dinner? We do all our drinking poolside!" He laughed, but continued on in the MDR.
He was so unrelenting that one guy at the next table eventually told this waiter that he was an alcoholic & the constant inquiries about drinking were going to make him fall off the wagon â€¦ I don't know if the guy was serious, but it didn't matter because the waiter returned 2.5 minutes later asking again what he wanted & pushing the DOD.
It got to the point where as soon as we saw him coming we'd order a soda or something â€¦ ANYTHING just so he'd leave us alone (which he always did once we ordered a beverage). So I guess mission accomplished in the end â€“ he made Carnival more money & got his tip in the process.
Which leads me to â€¦ and I'm sure this will irk some folks but it is what it is â€¦ Carnival really should teach some of their employees basic English before they just send them out there to the masses â€“ and I'm not just talking about being able to recite what the DOD is or the prices â€¦ although sometimes I suspected employees knew exactly what people were saying and/or asking, & just didn't care.
The two times I got a hot dog from Windows on the Sea (two completely different days & times of day), it wasn't cooked & cold on the inside. Same with the hamburger I got there & Hubby got a good laugh at my luck. I stopped trusting the food in there except for fries. Didn't like the pizza, but I'm a native New Yorker & our pizza is a hard act to follow. Oh well, whatcha going to do, right? Wasn't the end of the world since there were other food choices around.
Nightlife was lacking, there just wasn't enough that interested us. We went to all of the shows, the welcome show was fun. Hubby is a fan of Beatles music & was disappointed that they didn't really sing many of the songs but instead danced to most of them. He enjoyed the old Beatles videos played prior to the show more than the actual show itself!
Music Boardwalk wasn't all that in our opinion. It was almost like hearing music in an elevator but not really listening to it. Not sure if that's the attitude they're going for. I made it a point to go listen to them during the Reggae hour, but early on in the set they were playing "Brick House" by the Commodores. We didn't stay long & I wasn't feeling what little reggae music they did play. I'll give them props for their performance during the Beatles show though, the band truly was the best part of that show!
PORTS: Freeport was just okay, we went to the free beach & enjoyed that. Key West hubby went on the 2-hour waverunner tour of the island & loved that. I tried to go on a parasail tour (just to ride on the boat) but think they got more people who paid for the parasailing activity, & the board left early without me. Fury Watersports refunded my money & I instead enjoyed the pool on the Fantasy for awhile since most people were in port. We enjoyed Nassau most, also visited their free beach and walked through/explored Atlantis. Considering doing a long weekend land vacation there in the future.
RANDOM THOUGHTS: I was pleasantly surprised at how few unruly kids we encountered. Perhaps I just blocked them out though. But it didn't feel like the boat was overrun with kids & I worried about that since school was out.
Yes there were a few rude ones, particularly in & around the glass elevators. We got on with a group of teens & one made a comment about how people were riding the elevators interrupting whatever it was they were trying to do ... I don't know if I inadvertently shot them the look of death, but the others didn't follow up his commentary in our presence.
Running in the cabin halls was out of control at times, though (never looked out to see if it was kids or adults, sounded like kids though). Every single day we heard running, many times late at night. I also saw many little kids hanging & swinging from things they shouldn't have been, while parents stood around glancing in ANY direction other than where their kid was located. Just glad I didn't see any kid get hurt.
I got the impression many kids were just bored & looking for something to do, especially those that were maybe too old for Camp Carnival (or felt like they were too old for it). But I would say the majority of kids/teens we encountered were good, well behaved and well mannered.
I suspect that most of our MDR tablemates removed their tips, because that last night service was horrible. We sat there for a good 20 min. before our food order was taken, although the drink waiter made several stops at our table during this time.
Knowing you are on the last day of your cruise is already a bummer, but what made it worse is watching everything slowly shut down around you. We went to dinner (early seating) & returned to the Lido to find the pool drained & being cleaned. I might have felt deprived if I had not hit the pool & hot tub earlier in the day for one last hurrah. Employee attitudes also seemed to change on the last day, most were less friendly, everything and everybody moved slower, & many employees seemed to have disappeared - probably somewhere prepping for the next go round. Several cruisers commented that they felt now that Carnival had gotten all they could from this crowd it was time to concentrate on the incoming group. But I guess if they don't shut stuff down, some will party until the boat docks in Charleston again LOL.
We took these feelings & thoughts as a good sign that we had fun on this cruise. If we didn't, we would've been packing & counting the hours till we could get off.
Overall, we really enjoyed our first cruise. While I can't say that anything about the cruise or Carnival in general was really horrible, there is always room for improvement in any situation & this was no different. We'll give Carnival another try since we bought a FCC onboard, which we'll use in 2013 for our 10 yr anniversary, looking forward to that.
Good news for Charleston cruisers was cruise director said Carnival will get a new port & probably a new ship there in 2012. Bad news is she didn't think the itinerary would change much on either ship because of the amount of time it takes to get to certain ports from Charleston. We may try to fly out of Florida next time although the drive from GA to SC made this trip a lot cheaper & convenient since we didn't have to pay airfare.
Strangely enough for about 2 days afterwards, at times I felt like things were moving even when I stood still & my stomach was a little queasy. Hubby is sick now with the flu & he doesn't normally get sick easily, so wondered if that was from the cruise but it won't stop us from going again!
I hope this information was helpful to someone cruising the Fantasy. I would definitely cruise on this ship again. Any questions, just ask! I'd love the opportunity to be as helpful to others as people were to me.
Embarkation & Debarkation We arrived at 11AM and dropped our bags with the porter and I parked our vehicle in the designated area which is close to the ship. Price is $10 per day and in our case was payable at the end of our cruise. This is CASH by the way. We got in line and promptly at 11:30am we passed through the security checkpoint and entered another line to obtain our boarding pass. We were through that area by 11:45am and walked upstairs to gather our cabin keys, have our Embarkation photo taken and then sat in the lounge until 12:00pm. We entered the ship and made our way to the cabin and then to the Lido deck to grab lunch which began at 12:30pm sharp. Embarkation was very easy and quick.
Debarkation. We placed our luggage outside our cabin around 9pm the evening before arriving in Miami naturally keeping something to wear for the next day, our booze and breakable souvenirs with us in a carryon. We went to the Lido deck and ate breakfast at 9am and remained there sipping ice tea and reading our booksuntil clearance was given to debark the vessel at 10:20am. We quickly found our luggage and went to the car and paid the parking fees and were on the road by 11:15. The longest wait was leaving the parking lot.
Ship Description The MV Imagination was constructed in 1995 and is a "FANTASY CLASS" ship. This ship was scheduled for refurbishment and dry docking in mid October. Due to the loss of the MV TROPICALE due to an engineroom fire the Imagination has been designated to remain in service until the repair of the TROPICALE is completed. Overall, the Imagination is really in very good shape but wear is noticeable on the decks and carpeting and other minor cosmetics, all of which was scheduled for replacement or repair. The Ship itself was one of the latter of this class and is somewhat less "glitzy" than say the FANTASY itself. There are neon lights in the Atrium, gold "sphinxes" throughout as well as lights in many tables, on the walls and overhead. Is it "Vegas style"? Yes, but not really overbearing and we found it rather nice overall. This ship has three pools, 6 whirlpools, 1 multi-level showroom, piano bar, library, 5 bars, 3 lounges, gymnasium, steam & sauna rooms, beauty saloon, video area, children's playroom, 4 shops, card room, and numerous sitting areas both inside and outside. Additionally there is also golf lessons on the aft deck.
DiningCarnival has vastly improved the quality of their food. Lunches were taken in the Lido deck area all but one day and that was a day that the food on the Lido deck was supposed to be outstanding as reported by our dinnermates. The lunch in the dining room was...well, lets just say I decided to try and dine "healthy". It is apparently low cal as you are eating something that is totally devoid of any flavor what-so-ever. I do not know what it was except to say it was white, soft, looked like cheese, and had no taste, period. It was back to the Lido and Pizza (excellent) and the stuff that isn't supposed to be good for you. Desserts were fantastic!Breakfast was always taken on the Lido deck. Omelets were good, scrambled eggs, fair, bacon very good, french toast and pancakes very good, and pastries excellent. Dinners. As always the soups were perfection! We love great soup and have yet to be disappointed with Carnivals fare. Salads were crisp and tasty. Starters were also always very good with a wide selection. Main courses were very good with the seafood being wonderful. Lobster was served but I am spoiled on Maine Lobster from growing up and these Spiny Lobsters just don't make it to me. The Newburg was perfect as was any and all prawns. Desserts consisted of great favorites like Napoleons, mousse, cherries jubilee, baked alaska, etc.
EntertainmentWhat can one say about Carnivals entertainment? It has always been first rate with great shows. We have seen both comedians previously but they have altered their acts some. The dancers were amazing with special guest dancers from Russia unbelievable flexibility. The singers were excellent with the lead male being probably the best entertainer we have seen. He had a great voice and was well versed in dance and performance. More on him later. The Ship's Illusionist was very good and is working on adding more and better illusions to his repertoire. More on him later as well. The Promenade entertainer "Ed" was the best I have seen. He not only played very well, but he could carry a tune and did a great job! In the lounges were "Shout", a very very good three man band, "Curveball Bros" were in another and they were voted top cruise band for the last three years running, and there was also the standard "Calypso" band in the pool area. I must say that the Ship's Band lead by Kenny Stringer was exceptional and very talented group.
Shops and Art AuctionsThere were the standard ships "gallariea" shops where one can by necessities and souvenirs as well as jewelry, watches, booze etc.. Not really any great bargains there. I think I will include the "Beauty Salon" in this area. They are overpriced to say the least but, if you wish to be pampered than this is the place. My wife was asked to "demo" the "Isothero-something or other" and she accepted after a little prodding. It is where they cover you with this green stuff like a body cast and have electrodes in there as well as all kinds of oils etc. They claim 1/2 hr in this therapy is equivalent to a 3 to 4 hour active workout. It is supposed to remove from 1 to 8" of cellulite. My wife is rated at only a #1 with not much cellulite on her but there was a noticeable difference in measurements and absolutely no fat to be noticed on her thighs or abdomen after she completed the "demo". Now she was there for 2 hrs total so it was definitely a "workout" for her! So the answer is "yes, it does really work". The cost of the "treatment" is pricy at $100 but it may be worth it if that is what you want. Art Auctions...There were quite a few nice pieces that went through and many were at a very good price. There were others that I just couldn't see being worth what the stated appraisal that was quoted. I do know some of the pieces were appraised at the right amount and some actually lower. Of the appraisal price the auction price varied from 805 off to 45% off the more well know pieces. We purchases a couple of "Chens" and a "Warden" as we collect their works and know the value and feel we received a very good price.
PassengersThe approximate demographics of this cruise were: Gender: 60% female, 35% male, 5% other; Race: 65% Black, 30% white, 5% other; Marital Status: 40% married (adults only counted); Age: approx. 35 - 40 yrs; Tuxes on formal night: only about 20% unfortunately; Lots of great people on this cruise and we had a blast with them.
CrewI had the pleasure of speaking with and gathering brief bio's on a number of Staff on this ship. Captain Agostino Fazio, this was the most visible Capt. that I have ever seen. He was not only at the functions where his appearance was called for, but I saw him all over the ship and talking with the passengers. Very accessible and very pleasant to speak with. Due to his duties I did not wish to impose on his time and did not ask for an interview with him but we did chat some and he was most pleasant to speak with. Hotel Manager Steve Bolitho, I have met Steve before on the Carnival ship Destiny. he remembered me and we kind of caught up on what we have been doing since last time we met. Steve has married now and his wife is also an Officer on board. This may well be his last contract for awhile as he and his wife are planning a family. His brother was also aboard as a passenger and was quite an interesting and nice chap. He served with the Royal Marines and just left the service of Her Majesty. Steve says that anyone from Crusemates need to say hello to him when they come aboard. Illusionist Alex Romanov, A very personable young man who is working hard to improve and expand his acts. He did a very good job of card manipulations and the obligatory "severed head" of a dancer. He isn't a headliner, but he is learning very rapidly and is quite a nice guy and we became pretty good friends and discovered we had mutual friends as well. Alex is from England Production Lead Male Singer Matt Brewer, Matt is from the USA! Actually he now lives in Tampa, Fl. is engaged and is hoping to go to Broadway eventually. He has been aboard Carnival Ships for 3 years now and is a very accomplished singer. He first studied dance and performing arts and was with a production company in New York called "Starlight Productions" before coming to Tampa where he performed at Busch Gardens for 2 1/2 years before going to work for Carnival. Real nice guy that is very personable and easily accessible. Both Matt and Alex also help out with the Art Auction and other duties. Social Host Amy, another American! As most CD's and SH's seem to be English I was quite surprised to find that all three SH's and the CD were from the USA! Amy is another Florida native and grew up in nearby, (to me anyway), Lake City Fl and attended the University of Florida. Amy is single and cute and DOES have a boyfriend. This is Amy's first contract and she has only been a SH for three weeks now. She says that she loves her job but finds it hard to be "up" all the time. Her job just does not allow her to have a "bad day". She also said that after sailing for a week with some people she actually becomes a little attached and misses them when the cruise is over. Amy obtained her skills at Disney World where she worked part-time while attending college at UF. Last but by no means least is the Cruise Director Larry Garlutzo. The name is Italian but Larry is from Denver. Co. He has been cruising with Carnival for 9 years now. Larry got involved with cruise ships in rather an interesting way. While attending High School he met and fell in love with a young lady. They both attended his Aunts "School of Performing Arts" in Denver with her as a dancer and him as a dancer/musician. She took a job with Carnival after a friend of hers told her of her experiences. After a few month the ship was looking to add male dancers and she called Larry who along with his cousin and best friend joined the ship as male dancers. His girlfriend quit the ship and returned to college and Larry, who did not think dancing was that great, took a position as a musician playing the Promenade deck areas. When the first Social Host positions came into being with CCL Larry applied and became on of the very first SH's with CCL. His girlfriend came back to work as a dancer with CCL. Larry worked his way up from SH to finally Cruise Director and then married his HS sweetheart who remain a dance on board the shame ship as him. Larry and Tonya have been married for three years now and love it. Larry also is now very much aware of Cruisemates and I urge anyone that has the chance to cruise with him go up to him and say hello and identify yourself as being a "Cruisemate". Jim Bragg
2010 Carnival Pride Cruise Age: 60 Occupation: Architect Number of Cruises: 5 Number with Carnival: 2
Background: We chose this cruise because we live in Northern Virginia and the Baltimore departure didn't require the additional expense of airfare. Our two daughters and their friends joined my wife and me on the cruise. We chose three obstructed view (lifeboats in your face) rooms so that all six of us would have adequate bathroom access. We were not disappointed.
Boarding: Embarkation was tedious; it seemed as though the Baltimore Port Authority was learning how to load a cruise ship for the first time. Directions for passengers were non-existent and a working process was not apparent. Once the gauntlet was passed, all was smooth sailing (so to speak). Ship: Overall, the ship is well maintained and meets the expectations of most experienced cruisers. I'm not sure how the haunted house décor supports the "fun ship" theme Carnival advertises; the interior of the Pride is dark and encrusted with "embellishments." By the end of the cruise I finally stopped trying to see if my fellow passengers had reflections in the mirrors on the ship.
Food: The Normandy DiningRoom was excellent for breakfast, lunch, and dinner; the food was varied, well-prepared, and professionally served. The Lido Grille was crowded, confusing, and crowded with aggressive feeders. We took all our meals in the dining room and were perfectly satisfied. Breakfast was the same each day, but lunch and dinner offered enough choices to keep any palette satisfied. Our evening wait staff were both friendly and professional (we were greeted with our names the first night), and the staff at other meals were uniformly courteous and efficient.
Entertainment: We enjoyed the production shows; dancing and singing were memorable. Comics, magicians, and jugglers are not "our cup of tea." New Year's Eve was great. Carnival provided several venues tailored to different tastes; we baby-boomers were treated to the sounds of the 70's to usher 2011; so we "danced the night away."
Sea Days: This itinerary is divided evenly between sea and port days (3 each). Sea days offer the opportunity to relax and enjoy the freedom of "doing nothing." Since most of the on-board activities are inane, we chose to "do nothing" and enjoy the relaxation. Unlike typical Caribbean cruises, the Baltimore departure positions the first and last day in the "not so temperate" weather of the mid-Atlantic. Our first day at sea was quite cold with high winds; passengers were restricted to indoor areas. As a result, the public areas were very crowded and our fellow passengers were not at their best.
Port Days: We booked itineraries through Carnival because we were on vacation and had no desire to worry about anything. At Port Canaveral we chose the Air Boat Excursion (with Coco Shopping) – the Air Boat was absolutely great; shopping kept the distaff members satisfied. Nassau brought Atlantis – the over-the-top water park and resort experience (Disney World for adults); everyone should try this at least once. In Freeport, we chose the kayak and nature hike – very enjoyable day with a small group paddling through mangroves, enjoying a beautiful, completely deserted beach, and seeing bizarre caves used by the ancients.
Experience: Great cruise for families and groups. Don't expect to meet interesting people; the typical Carnival cruiser is as interesting as white bread. The staff is cordial, friendly, and efficient; accommodations are well-suited for a week's vacation, and everything is geared to an effort-free holiday.
I am sitting here on the Ecstasy, a cruise that I took for myself, by myself for purely reflection & "recharging". I thought I would also like to give a personal and fair perspective about the cruise. I will try to do this daily, but, depending on satellite communications, and the "slower than dial-up" speed, please bear with me.
I have been on the Elation, the Ecstasy's sister ship, and fell in love with cruising. Just havine been off the Conquest in September, I felt that the ship was SMALL in comparison, but, as comfortable as an old friend. She was decorated in garlands of greenery, red and gold. I saw a few Christmas trees, but not so overdone it was nauseating. There was also a large Menorrah (sp?) present. It was all actually very simply done, but warm & beautiful. Sorry, no pics, as I did not bring my camera. As I stated, I took this trip solely for "Me Time", and did not even think of a camera when packing.
Anyway, back to the ship - In the true styles of the 90's, the Ecstasy is somewhat bathed in Neon.It is her personality. The decor promotes "party".
I chose the option "Your Time Dining", as I did not want to be tied into any time restraints, although, to be honest, I have skipped nights in the dining room before for the Buffet for that purpose. I was seated promtly. The hostess asked if I would mind sharing, I told her ok. My table mates were first time cruisers, and asked me about the ports they were going to. We chatted over dinner, and I have to say that dining with them was a joy. One or two things I noticed about YTD - the waiters did not seem as 'intuned' to each other as I have witnessed in the past. Our table was near the server station, and there seemed to be a lot of chaotic flurry. Maybe because it was the first night? I went around 6:45, and there were also many families (note to self-go later if at all possible) with small fussy children or infants in our area. 2 couples actually asked to have thier tables changed mid-way between appetizer and main course! The St Louis ribs were as expected - fall off the bone great, and so much that I couldn't finish as always. I skipped dessert - but did go to the coffee shop and picked up a slice of Apple Crisp for a snack in the middle of the night on my tiny balcony (Another story). It was Gargantuan! I actually thought it was 2 or 3 servings...but was only one - and well worth the $2+ price.
The room - I was in one of the Verandah Suites. Priced considerably less than a balcony, but upon entering, I understood why. The cabin itself did not seem much bigger than a standard balcony I had before - The bathroom was a little larger, and the shower was comfortable, as I am on the 'fluffy' side, and I did NOT get attacked by my shower curtain. There was a wood floor entry way, and, more than adequate storage. I was surprised - NO HAIRDRYER!!!!! - not a good thing, but I always bring my own anyway. Now, for the 'balcony', if you can call it that. 10ft x 30ish inches. now pictur a deck cair facing out toward sea, and your knees are just about on the railing. NOW I know why they are cheaper.
DAY AT SEA - As I said earlier, I woke up very early - which is not umusual for me as I have worked 7p-7a for many (too many) years. Around 0430, I decided to call for some rolls and a pot of coffee, and waited for the sun to peek up over the horizon. then, after daylight arrived, I went back to my bed and made it a very lazy morning. I did something (only because of the daylight) that I would not normally do considering how the Veranda balconies are situated. I left the door open and listened to the water as 25 feet of the ships hull pushed through, Between that and the whistle of a light wind, I was rocked to sleep by the ship and an ocean lullaby.
My cabin stewards are great! Everything is there within moments of asking. I did receive a fruit basket with a bottle of Chardonnay, but never have liked it. I asked Dumrong if he and his crew would like a drink on me, and left the bottle with a note. When I returned ALL of his team came by and stopped me in the hallway to say "Thanks"
A late breakfast on the Lido was in order. Nothing spectacular, Usual Carnival breakfast fare, but the coffee seemed to be more bitter than usual. No problem, Bloody Mary took its place! One thing is for sure - Someone in Miami needs to consult a true southerner on how to make good Sausage gravy, and turn those hockey pucks into fluffy biscuits. I have been on 4 different CCL ships, and not one can bake a biscuit worth a dang!
Still quite chilly, actually, for the better part of the day & afternoon it only reached high 50s - low 60's.
Trust me, the temps did not deter the kiddos from the pool or hot tub. I was actually quite surprised at how many there were. Not just tots and infants, but many teens and tweens romping around. I actually thought I would go to the Serenity deck, but too chilly, and I figured the wind over Aft would only make it more uncomfortable. I will save that for tomorrow while everyone is in Progreso.
Late afternoon & early evening was spent wandering the decks, listening to music, and of course, heeding the call of the slots! Didn't win, but didn't lose either, so I had a little fun & broke even.
I decided to skip dinner in the MDR, as it was 'Elegant Night', & I will be doing the "Chef's Table" tomorrow evening. Will let you know how it is.
I was up well past 3 am last night. by the time I woke, it was after 1230! Didn't bother me.....I was not planning on getting off ship in Cozumel. Probably go to Chankanaab tomorrow via taxi and spend a few hours there.
Anyway, I mentioned lots of kids this cruise. I was walking & exploring last evening, and even after 12am, little 'packs' of teens & tweens were at it playing elevator tag, and hanging around the Lido deck. no adults around. I do believe several looked about 10 or 12 (or at least acted like it). Now, I do not profess to be the "kid cop", but I wonder just how much the parents know what is going on...or if they expect crew members to watch over their little ones. I AM NOT saying all kiddos are bad or irresponsible, but I know, if I had the chance to run around without supervision, I did whatever I thought I could get away with. The real danger are the adults out there with rather seedy motives. At least the majority of the kiddos were in small groups, I only saw a few out wandering alone.
One thing I noted was the Casino is quite small.....and very odd shaped. Not that I would expect it to be the size of the casino on Conquest, this is a smaller ship. The layout was veryhaphazard in respect to smoking vs non-smoking tables & slots., and there really is no way of escaping some of it. Non-smoking player tables very close to designated slots, and very small banks of non-smoking slots surrounded by designated smoking areas. I admit, I am a smoker, but I do see BOTH sides of the proverbial coin. A little more planning could have been done to keep both sides happy.
I also felt the Internet Cafe was oddly situated in the Empress Lobby. While submitting my contribution last night, line of people were getting pictures taken. One couple even sat at one of the computer desks with a small child (maybe 18-24 mo) and allowed them to bang away on the keyboard until the manager had to intervene. A small partition of frosted glass or even a counter height wall would section the area off better. Carrying a laptop would be better - but I really do not want the added parcel when travelling.
All I can say is 'The Chef's Table" is a definite must do!!!! On the Ecstasy, it is done on port days as not to conflict with the Captain's Celebration and Elegant Night festivities. If there is enough interest, they will do it twice (Progreso & Cozumel evenings).
We met in the Atrium Bar at 630 pm, and were escorted by the chef to the galley for a tour, accompanied by champagne & 4 different tastes of appetizers that the ship offers on their menus. I won't go into much detail about that, as not to 'spoil' any surprises for those of you planning on going, but let me say - I will NEVER turn my nose up at something as bizarre sounding as 'Avacado (sp?) Cheesecake' before I try it. It was absolutely wonderful!
After the galley tour, we were led to the Explorer's Club, and to a wonderfully set table for 12. A selection of wines was offered to accompany the 7 course meal to follow. Each dish was exquisitely prepared and served while the chef described the dish. (NOTE: Please let them know AHEAD of time if you have any food intolerances or allergies, and they will advise you if substitutions are available. ie: Chocolate, shellfish, etc.) You had better wear your loosest clothes, and guys, I am serious, if you cannot loosen your belt another notch, don't even bother to wear it. The meal was absolutely wonderful. Finally, after coffee & dessert, we left at about 1015pm. I felt as if I could use a wheelbarrow to get me to my room!
8am came pretty quick, and the ship slid into Cozumel. Several shore excursions had to be cancelled due to rough seas. The gangway was temporarily closed for about an hour when the Celebrity Century docked. Not sure which ones, but I do know that I prayed for everyone going to the mainland by that crazywater craft they call a ferry! It didn't seem too cool, or too warm - just very, very windy, so I ditching Chankanaab & will sign off here to go into port for a little shopping and a good stiff Margarita, then, back on board to watch the 'Great Race' back on board before sailaway!!!
So far, it has been a great cruise! There was an announcement from the Bridge that we had to pass through some rough seas, and it was not wrong. Last night we hit head winds from the north over 30kph, and the seas were choppy. I could only last for so long, and went to my cabin around 10pm. (Crazies - remember September? ). Well, I did not fare as well this time around.
The sun rose to glass seas and a beautiful blue sky. Spent the day chillaxin' and went to the casino to cash out account.
Dinner was "so-so". The onion soup was cold - YUCK! I ordered the veal parm, and found it to be quite tough. The Team waiter asked if I wanted anything else, but I declined. It was not only mine, but the table next to me also ordered onion soup & veal parm - and both were hardly touched. I have to be honest, this was the very first meal I did not enjoy. (well, except for the aforementioned biscuits & sausage gravy) The waiters seemed overwhelmed on the YTD side, but still tried to be attentive.
I walked about the ship last night, and ventured into a few of the bars to experience the different surroundings. There is definitely something for everyone. Still, many kids out & about spending last minute moments with newly made friends. Not as much elevator tag going on, but the few who indulged made it difficult as only the starboard side elevator was working. One thing that DID bather me was the group of teens and tweens sitting at bars. While it is true that this is the place to get sodas on your card, I really do think the bartenders should have been a little more assertive on asking them to leave the bar area once served.I do not blame the kiddos for this, but Carnival staff for allowing it to happen.
A few last minute purchases were made, and I returned to my room & ordered a ceasar salad with grilled salmon. Great choice! Watched a little tv & off to sleep.
Woke early this morning and headed for the MDR. Breakfast was wonderful and served quickly. Up to the Lido to wait for zone callouts.
Debarkation was smooth UNTIL reaching baggage claim. Then it became an absolute nightmare to get bags. My zone was 3, which meant I had to walk half the terminal to claim them, and them back to the other end to get in line. Back in line for Customs. This is the part where the worst lines are. porters jockeying for position in lines where the U-turn is made just before the actual Customs Desk. The line for passengers with passports did move more quickly, but it was still quite long & slow. I just wonder how Galveston is going to manage with a ship the size of Magic coming. Finally, after almost an hour, I was out the door to my car, and on my way home.
All in all, except for the few 'bumps', it was a good cruise. I have seen posters & reviews comment on the demographics of the cruisers on the Ecstasy. I do have to say that it is a very diverse and colorful mix of passengers. I will say that I cannot wait to get back on in February
Day 1 SAIL AWAY
We arrived at Port Everglades around 11 am. This was the first time we ever drove into Port Everglades so we were a little lost but was pleasantly surprised when we found the berth for our ship so easily, dropped off luggage and went and parked in the parking garage. Embarkation was fairly smooth and once we had our Sail and Sign cards in hand was able to go right aboard the ship.
Our state room couldn't be accessed until 1:30 pm so we went up to the Lido deck after exploring just a little. My first impression of the ships décor was WOW! I love just about everything décor wise about this ship. So we got to the Lido deck and found a seat, Pearl sat while I went and rounded us up a couple DoD's (drink of the day). The sides are enclosed but have windows that can be opened and a nice breeze was blowing. We went ahead and checked out the Buffet, called Horatio's restaurant, and was really surprised at how nice of a buffet it was, best ever seen at sea!
1:30 pmfinally came around and we was able to go to our stateroom. Our stateroom was nice, it has a couch that made up into a bed. We were surprised at how small our balcony since it was an aft balcony. (Compared to Carnival Triumph aft balcony.) But over all was well pleased. Pearl and I starched out and took a little nap. And by the time we got up 2 of the 3 suitcases had arrived. So we unpack them and headed out to do some more exploring.
We were really impressed and the imagination that went into the many bars and venues that are on the ship. The Mad Hatter uses Alice in Wonderland as a theme. While Dr. Frankenstein Lab uses Frankenstein as the main theme. The seating in Frankenstein's Lab are red cushions that looked like bananas. There is a 15 foot Frankenstein statue on the dance floor. There is the Phantom Theater where the shows are held. These are just a few. We'll mention more as we visit them.
We arrived back at our room and there was our last suitcase. The tag had been torn off and temp had been attached. So Pearl was able to dress for supper and retrieve her sea sick pills. The main dining room is called Bacchus Restaurant. Our table was #130 and we were served by the "I" team. Real names are to come later. Pearl had beef barley soup while I had the fruit medley and cold tomato soup that was divine. And for the main course Pearl had "Spinach Lasagna" which had a good flavor to it but her body said "aint no way that's going into me". And I had grilled Tipilia (fish), mac and cheese. For dessert Pearl had strawberry ice cream. And Tim had vanilla cream brelle and warm chocolate melting cake.
After a very pleasant dinner we went to our room and finish unpacking. Then off to the Hot Tub in the adult only area. The hot tub water wasn't as hot as we normally see but we nice especially considering that Pearl and I had it all to ourselves. Then add a nice cool breeze and I said to myself "it don't get no better than this". After spending a couple hours and the hot tub we decided to retried early for the evening. What happened next is only for the informed to know. We had a nice day and are anxious to see that tomorrow may bring.
DAY 2 SEA DAY
Have you ever had that feeling that this day wasn't going to go smoothly? That if it was going to go wrong you couldn't stop it. That's how this day started. We woke up to a beautiful sunrise, nice weather for a sea day and NO ROOM SERVICE. We had ordered breakfast in our room. And it never showed up. When we asked where it was at they said that they delivered it on time. If that is the truth then are hearing must be going bad cause we didn't hear anything.
So we went to the dining room to eat breakfast. We were seated with 2 other couples. We did have a good conversation during our meal. The one thing we learned at this meal was Salmon was very popular breakfast food. Even with that knowledge I passed on it.
After breakfast I went to the Spa for a beginners Yoga class. There were 5 people in the class. Most of them could stretch in ways she never thought one could possibly do. She learned really fast that it was not something that she could do or wanted to do. The arthritis in her lower back started to hurt. But then again, if all the instructors looked that that one, lots of muscles (extremely HOT), with a neat loveable accent, I might just be able to do it again.
As the day went on were found that the pool side music wasn't that good. The activities pool side were limited due the space around the pools. And unless you like BINGO or the Casino, there wasn't much that interested us. Now let me tell you about Mr. Lucky's Casino. That place looks really neat. There is plenty of space between groups of tables or slot machines. While Pearl was doing the yoga class, Tim hit the casino and may I add he did good. Went in with $40 and walked out with $120.
Winning money is a hard laborious job, it took so much out of Tim, he had to go take an afternoon nap. Because he wanted to be in tip-top shape when the evening elegant party started.
Before dinner we went and had several pictures taken. I hope they turn out good. Our fine meal consisted of, Tim had spaghetti, stuffed mushrooms, 2 lobster tails and shrimp, and cherry jubilee I had minestrone soup, and chili retellio, along with cherry jubilee. Then our waiters , Indrawan and Igede, showed up with a small piece of cake and sang Happy Birthday to Shue to me. It was a lovely piece of Banana cake with creamy icing and a piece of banana and red raspberry on the top. YUMMMMMMMMMMY.
Then the singing waiters came out of hiding and took the guest for a spine around the room while the Mat'rde sang an Italian song. That got our blood pumping. We love the different ways they entertain us in the dining hall.
Then it was off to the show at 8:45 pm. We got there in time that we got a front row seat. The show was called "Generation". They sang songs from the 50's through the 80's. The dancing was okay, the band did a good job with the music. Even the person singing the Elvis songs did a good job of copying Elvis's style. But the show didn't impress us at all.
The day is done and so are we, so off to the cabin to see if we can make out what kind of towel critter is in wait for us to return.
DAY 3 GRAND TURK
I'm telling you someone or something is making it hard for us to enjoy this cruise. We wised up and didn't order room service for breakfast. Instead we went to the Lido deck and ate at the buffet. We were pleasantly surprised that is was not crowded, the lines were short and we were done eating in 30 minutes. I had a really good Omelet, potatoes and biscuit and gravy while Pearl had French toast, ham and sausage. We watched another cruise ship back up beside our ship. Then we were off to our rooms for one last potty run before we went on our shore tour. It was a good thing we did because waiting in our room was a message that the tour had been canceled because the winds were too strong. It was a disappointment because we really wanted to go on the "Catamaran Sail away" but we understand that it is hard to sail a sailboat when the winds are strong. Trust us the winds did have a good gust to them at times.
So we pulled up our little kids panties and went ashore to lay on the beach at Margarettaville. We ordered 2 drinks, they were about the size of a 10 oz cup with a piece of orange and one cherry under the umbrella. When we seen the bill.we wanted to send them back. They were not worth $20.41 that they charge for them. I was the only one that went into the ocean to swim and I was not impressed with the beach at all. The sandy area was small and after going into the water a few feet it dropped quickly onto big rocks that were hard to walk on. There was plenty of palm tree's on the beach and we found a nice shady spot to relax for a while then headed over to do some shopping. The prices were kinda expensive so we gathered ourselves up and headed back to the ship around 11:30 am.
We went to our room after getting back on the ship and dropped our things off and changed clothes before heading up to the Buffet for lunch. Pearl and I had Asian food, lots of veggies and meat..Yum. From the buffet we split up and I headed for my 1 hr full body deep tissue massage while Pearl came down to work on the blog and read. We met at the room later to head to supper in the main dining room. Pearl had the a beef vegy soup and a NY strip steak while I had Lasagna and a ceaser salad for starters and a wonderful NY strip steak for the main course. Let me just say that it was the best steak I've ever had on a cruise ship, supper clubs not withstanding. Then Pearl surprised me, I had to pick my jaw up off the floor, she actually ordered a warm chocolate melting cake just like I did, what is the world coming to????
After supper we stopped by the casino for a while then hit the comedy club and saw Phat Kat perform, he wasn't too bad but same stuff as when we saw him on the Triumph, then headed up to the Hot Tub for about an hour and a half. That concluded another wonderful day on the Carnival Miracle, what will be in store tomorrow? We shall see!
DAY 4 CASA DE CAMPO, LA ROMANA DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
We were up at the crack of dawn just waiting for the next shoe to drop. Would we get good room service or not? So to solve that problem we hit the Lido deck for breakfast, where we had the breakfast of champions, bacon, eggs and hash browns. After a hardy breakfast we went to the top deck to get some pictures as we were just docking in Dominican Republic.
The locals sure looked glad to see us as there were several of them dancing on the pier and a boat load of locals cruising by the ship and posing for pictures. My first impression that I had from my view on the ship was, after looking at the smoke billowing out of a factory, I bet they don't have the EPA regulations here that we do in the States. Actually I was to find out later that this was a pretty good assumption because the Dominican Republic is basically the United States forty years behind us, expect they speak Spanish.
We began our shore excursion for the day with a short walk to the bus that was to take us to Santa Domingo, the capital of The Dominican Republic, for a walking tour and lunch. The trip to Santa Domingo was pretty uneventful, we did notice the houses and buildings that we saw were either made from concrete blocks or concrete itself. There was a lot of run down homes and lots of trash lying around which seems typical for these third world countries. The Dominican Republic differs from most third world countries, in my opinion, because of the road ways. The road ways are fairly modern four land highways with exit ramps and entrance ramps like you would see on our interstates. They drive English Style, (on the right side of the road) and have modernized traffic control devices and the like. There driving habits and manors are worse than in the states. I hope the states never get that bad.
The walking tour did not impress us much. We visited a local market where we were able to buy some cigars and our short glass for this country. Then we walked over to the Catholic Cathedral for a tour. We did not like this; we believe that a church is the house of God and should not be used as a tourist attraction, even if it is the very first cathedral in the western hemisphere. From there we went to a Jesuit church which was more like a cemetery because it held the remains of all the former presidents. The Dominican Republic keeps an Honor Guard there to honor their fallen presidents, (That's a lot cheaper than building Presidential Libraries in this country) Finally it was lunch time and we headed off to a little restaurant where we were packed like sardines at the tables they had assigned to us. It was a small buffet boosting classic Dominican food. What many of the dishes were I could not tell you, but the food wasn't very good. Then we boarded the bus for the trip back to the ship. We stopped at the Christopher Columbus lighthouse for a quick picture shoot before continuing our trip back to the ship. The lighthouse was unlike any we have ever seen, it is a huge building made in the shape of a cross and the remains of Christopher Columbus are supposedly buried there. I saw supposedly because there are at least three countries who say that the remains of Christopher Columbus are buried there! At night, when the lighthouse lights are turned on, the whole city of Santa Domingo and way out to sea can see a huge cross in the sky from the lighthouse. The rest of the trip back went smoothly. All in all the trip was pretty boring and we would not suggest this excursion to anyone. As a side note, the venders were not pushy but were constantly there trying to make a buck!
We went to our stateroom and rested for a bit then I went down to the sports bar to smoke a cigar while Pearl relaxed in the cabin and read. We met back up at supper where Pearl had chicken noodle soup and Veal parmesan and I had cream of mushroom soup, a shrimp cocktail and the Filet Mignon with a side of rib for supper, yum! Desert was simply Vanilla ice cream for Pearl and Pumpkin pie with vanilla ice cream for me. Supper was over, the waiters doing a nice song and dance, finally new material from other cruises, and we were off to the casino. Pearls luck wasn't happening but mine was pretty good as I came out about $100.00 ahead. After a drink or two we then got our bathing suites on and headed to the Hot Tub for a hour or so and then to bed. Tomorrow is Aruba but we get into port at noon so we get to sleep in.Yeah!
DAY 5 ARUBA
We was able to sleep in this morning because we weren't scheduled to arrive in Aruba till noon and then depart till 9:30 pm, so plenty of time to enjoy the morning and enjoy the day! We ate breakfast in the Bachuss dining room, I had eggs Benedict and a ham and cheese omelet while Pearl enjoyed a bowl of cereal and a Danish. Bachuss, for which the dining room received it's name, is God of the grapes according to Greek lore. The whole dining room has grapes dangling from the ceiling and wine glasses as pillars for support.
After the ship docked we disembarked and caught a cab to our BlueGreen resort that we have in Aruba. The taxi driver was very nice and dropped us off right across the street from the resort. We arrived at the resort and told Jeane, an employ of the resort, we were BlueGreen owners and wanted to visit for the day and see the resort. Jeane took us to the offices and one of the office girls gave us the grand tour. LaCabana resort is a beautiful resort! The rooms are very nice and the swimming pool and bar area is great. If we wanted to we could of walked across the street to Eagle beach and spent the day there too. We caught a bus and returned to the ship around 5 pm and rested for a bit before going to the Lido buffet for supper. Pearl and I both had Asian food for a very nice supper. After supper we came back to the room and took a little nap before heading to the Casino for a while and then the Hot Tub. We had been blessed with a really nice day and turned in early because Curacao came early tomorrow.
DAY 6 CURACAO
We tried room service again this morning and was pleased that it was only 5 minutes after it was supposed to arrive at the latest. We both ate a bowl of cereal and a Danish and fruit and coffee. We docked right on time and after letting the initial line of folks off the ship we walked off to find a cab to see the sights.
We ended up sharing a cab with 2 other couples. The driver about sweated us to death before he realized he didn't have the A/C on. We stopped at a alcohol factory for a short visit, the rum tasted like cough syrup, and headed on up the road. We saw the nicer areas as well as the not so nice areas, we visited down town and ended up being dropped off by the floating bridge.
The floating bridge is a bridge that spans the river inlet where the ships come in. When a ship needs in or out a motor on one end of the bridge moves one end of the bridge to open up the passage. While touring down town there was a fresh fish market where Venezuelans come to sell their fresh caught fish. The boats are pulled right up to the docks, covered with a tarp and sold right from the ship. Venezuelans come to Curacao because they can get much better prices for their fish rather then in Venezuela. Pearl and I bought a couple of shirts and a hat and went on back to the ship.
We arrived back to the room and Pearl came down with a real bad headache. We went to diner in the main dining room but Pearl ended up going back to the room, her head was just hurting too bad. I went ahead and enjoyed a meal of Pork tenderloin with a really nice sauce, potatoes and had French Onion soup for a started and a rum flavored cake with dates and figs for desert.
With Pearl's head hurting I returned to the room after supper to spend some time with her. We purchased a movie, the Expendables, which turned out to be pretty good, and then went to the Casino for a while. I returned to the room to find Pearl had ate a little something and seemed to be feeling better. So ended another day in Paradise.
DAY 7 SEA DAY
Good morning world! Pearl is feeling better, hurray!!! Sadly, after going to the Lido deck for a wonderful everything omelet and fruit breakfast, Pearl had her same old boring cereal again, with fruit of course, ha! I started getting an upset stomach an hour or so after breakfast and it lasted almost all day. We checked out the shops after breakfast to see if there was any souvenirs we wanted to buy. Most cruises we have been on have their best prices the last day of the cruise so we didn't buy anything at this time but did scope out our model of the ship we always buy during our cruises and a neat stuffed Pirate teddy bear. We hit the casino and after a slow start we ended up not doing too bad playing the slots. Time to drop Pearl off for her birthday present! Pearls birthday present was a day at the spa! Pearl enjoyed a manicure, pedicure, hair wash and style for almost 3 hours of restful delight. I had went back to the cabin to try to sleep as my stomach was really bothering me. When Pearl arrived back at the room I thought I had died and an angel had come to take me to heaven. Pearls hair was really nice and her nails looked good too.
Tonight was the last elegant night for the cruise so we dressed up for the evening and went to supper to enjoy a fine dinner. Pearl ate the eggplant and mozzarella for a starter while I had a fruit dish and a Broccoli and cheese soup. Pearl had a very dry Chateaubriand while I had a chicken dinner which was really good. My stomach wasn't any worse for wear so we hit the mad hatter lounge to catch the pg rated comedy show. The comedian Jason Blancard was very funny, we also caught his r rated show later on which was excellent. The show in the theatre was "Ticket to Ride" a play on the music of the Beatles and I must say it was really good. After the show it was back to the comedy club to see Jason's R rated show and another comedian Wil Marfori and his R rated show, both were very good.
It was late, we hit the Lido for a late snack then it was off to bed.night all!
DAY 8 SEA DAY
We woke up this morning, excited because we would be 2 of 17 people who would get a behind the scenes tour of the ship today. How did we get so lucky you may ask? My wife actually read the excursion pamphlet that came with our first day Fun Times newsletter. It told us about the $95.00 per person excursion so we booked it as soon as possible. This is something we have wanted to do for a very long time so after waking we showered, dressed and headed to the Lido for breakfast. I had an omelet, home fries and fruit while Pearl had cereal, sausage and fruit.
The tour was to meet at the Joker card room so we made sure we arrived with plenty of time to spare. A pretty Russian girl named Yulia was to be our host and tour guide. We started out by heading to the Phantom Theatre and went behind the scenes where one of the Stage Producers met us to explain how things worked and answer questions. There had to be at least 10 screens that can drop from the ceiling to make for different backgrounds, depending on the show, and each one weighs about 1000 lbs. Back stage the dressing room is wide open spaces! No private dressing rooms here, shoot there isn't even a divider from the boys and girls! The costumes and wigs of each dancer was hanging right behind where their chair was sitting at a long mirror attached to the wall. A total change for a guy from one suite to another is 22 seconds.
We left by a back entrance and entered a hall that neither Pearl nor I had been on during this whole cruise, even though it is for guests. It was on the 3rd floor all the way at the front of the ship. We then went to the Galley to see where the food is prepared at. The big soup containers looked like a pot that you would see over a huge campfire in the middle of the jungle with a witch doctor brewing his poison. Then we watched a cook take a bar of soap and turn it into a beautiful swan. Which we got to take home with us. The cook staff was busy preparing the evening meal even thought it was only around 10 AM. They were making soups, deserts, breads, and potatoes. We were able to get our picture taken with the head chef before moving on to see the refrigeration and freezer units.
We visited the freezer and refrigeration areas and I must say while they are non-descript, they are huge and must be because they keep enough food not only for the 8 day cruise but also for 4 extra days in case something was to happen.
Next we visited the eco friendly trash disposal system. This room is manned 24 hours a day and is where all recyclables are separated and put into the proper bins. Where they will be off loaded after the cruise and properly disposed. Even the leftover food is ground up and deposited into the ocean for fish food.
And of course no ship would be complete without a laundry room, which is open 24 hours a day. There are 4 big washing machines that hold 100 pounds of laundry each. Several huge dryers and machines that actually dry and fold the bed sheet and towels. We found out that the bedding is changed before each cruise leaves out and once during the cruise unless more is needed. Believe it or notbut it takes 4 people, 3 weeks to count every piece of bedding and towels on the ship. This room is below the water line.
We even got to visit the area where the crew lives and eats. They have 3 different dining areas, one for the Officers, one for the entertainers and one for the crew. The servers are in training down here before they are allowed to serve in the main dining room to customers. They even have a bar and gaming area. The sad news is if a crew member drinks too much alcohol and blows a .08 breathalyzer test, they are fired and will not be rehired for any reason. No exceptions. (Even the captain is limited to 4 oz of wine per day)
We were disappointed because we didn't get to see the engines themselves however we did get to go to the engine room where all the control panels were located. (go figure) There were lots of computers, gauges and stuff. Even had a couple fish tanks in there. We found out that they never change their oil unless a bad report comes back after an oil analysis report. The Chef engineer, Rosario Capilli, can also completely control the ship operations from this room. In case of an emergency he can also assume duties as captain of the ship.
Speaking of the Captain, we visited the bridge next. They put us in an elevator and took us to the 8th floor. To our surprise, there were cabins right next to the bridge. After going through our second security inspection, we were allowed to enter the bridge. The captain of the ship, Rocco Lubrano, was able to greet us and answer questions that we had for him. He also was kind enough to take a photo with each of us and a group photo before he had to leave as it was almost noon, time for his midday address to the ship. We did get to ask questions of the other officers on the bridge who explained to us that there are 3 different stations whereby the ship maybe guided and controlled on the bridge. To the port, starboard and mid ship. Communication are conducted via satphone, marine radio, and GPS systems. The view from the bridge is incredible, we even saw some dolphins while up there. The amazing thing about ships now-a-days is that they can turn 360 degrees without the help of other boats.
Now on to our last stop at Nick and Nora's Steakhouse. We got to meet the head chef and he gave us a demonstration about how to tell if a steak is a good one. The problem was this guy didn't know how to explain it very good. Our tour ended here and we were given a bag with a hat in it, a bracelet, an ID holder, and that beautiful swan made from a bar of soap. We were to discover later that this was not all the gifts that we were to receive. That night at diner Yulia brought us several photos from the tour and then when we returned to our cabin later in that evening, we received a plate of chocolate cover strawberries and peanut brittle.
We really enjoyed that tour and felt it was well worth the money that we spent.
Its lunch time so we made our way to the main dining room for lunch, which is something that we have never done on a cruise. It escapes me now what we had to eat but the experience what I wanted to remember. After lunch we went back to our room and rested awhile until it was time to pack our clothes and get ready for dinner.
Dinner for this night was prime rib, which they had earlier in the week but Indrawan, our waiter, had told me we would have again. I also had shrimp and salad for an appetizer and for dessert warm chocolate melting cake. While Pearl had Chicken pasta dish with soup as an appetizer and ice cream for dessert. We cried as the waiters sang their good-bye song to us cruisers. I have to admit that the "I" team was the second best set of servers that we have had since we started cruising.
For our final night we decided to finally stay up long enough to go to the Piano Bar. The entertainer had a sore throat that he was fighting and we didn't get to hear much singing before we left. The sad part is that he played the guitar not the piano. I almost felt like he was making fun of us for coming to the piano bar for the first time on the last night of the cruise. I didn't appreciate it. From there it was back to our room for the evening.
DAY 9 SADDEST DAY OF THE CRUISE
Our luggage was gone and if we wanted any clothes to wear we had to leave the ship. : ( We had breakfast on Lido deck one more time..then we waited for our magical number to be called. They started with number one and ours was 21. They made the first announcement around 8:30 am. So you can guess how long it took us to be called. Well, it was 10 am when they called our number and off the ship we went. Like cattle going to the slaughter house, we were herded through the line for one last punch of our Sail N Sign cards at the Ding Ding machine. Then it was the dreaded search for our luggage. Think about this there was 2,200 people onboard with 2 suite cases each, which comes to about 4,400 suite cases that everyone was looking for theirs. WOW!!!!! After finding our luggage we headed for Customs. You know that horrible line where the person at the end asks you questions and you feel like they want to know how much money you have left over so they can charge you that amount for duty taxes. Well, our man was good to us. He let us go with no additional taxes. We must have looked like we didn't have any money.
Now we were off to find our truck in the parking garage. After our long walk lugging our suite cases, fighting everyone else and making it up to the third floor..we finally found our haven of rest, which was our pick up truck. Got to admit that leaving the parking garage 45 minutes after our number was called wasn't to bad. Especially since I was sitting in the passenger seat and Pearl was fighting the traffic once again.
Precruise Rosen Inn at Pointe Orlando 9000 International Drive Orlando Florida, 32819
This hotel is located convient to many Orlando attractions. Right across the street from Wonderworks and easy walking distance to shopping and restaurants. The hotel has a small convenience store with sandwiches and other easy items for lunches. Right outside there is a nice patio area that is covered for shade and protection from rain. There is also a lounge and a nice restaurant within the hotel. There is a pool also for those that wanted to swim. The day we were there it was too chilly.
The room we had was non smoking and had 2 double beds. There was also a coffee maker and the usual assortment of sugar and powdered creamers. There is small refrigerator and a microwave in the room.
The room was very clean and for me that is the main thing I look for. I booked the room through Hotels.com for $39.99 In all the room was a great value and I will consider it in the future.
Parking Parking at Port Canaveral was easy and convenient to the ships. You just pull into theluggage unloading aea and leave your luggage with the porters. Then you drive around and take a parking space. It is an easy walk to the ship. In our case we had a wheel chair to deliver so when we dropped off the luggage we also got out of the van there and the van driver left us to go back to Lakeland. I had already parked my car and boarded the van to show the driver where to drop the luggage. We loaded our luggage on to the van and took it all at once to be dropped off.
Embarkation Very orderly and organised. We were in an area for wheelchair access to board as we had one person in a wheelchair. Boarding was announced around 10:30. Early!! The VIP section was called to board first and they all went ahead on to the ship. Then we were called and we went through a door to the elevators that took us up to the entrance. We had our security pictures taken and were free to go on our away. In all we were aboard before 11:00. Again, as I punched my card in at security a voice announced that I have a message at the Customer Service desk. I went and was asked if there was anything I would need for my c-pap. They also inquired if I would need refrigeration for insulin as I am diabetic. I reponded that I was not on insulin and thanked them for their care.
Carnival Sensation The ship is older, one of Carnival's Fantasy Class of ships. The decor is reflective of Joe Farcus early designs for Carnival. Very bright and some would say gaudy. I have not seen gaudy in any of the ships designs. A bit loud but always fun and in keeping with this lines themes. Mainly it was purple but it was tempered with other colors. I found it to be oddly pretty.
Food WOW is all I can say. In every venue this ship was outstanding. My recent trip on the Liberty found the buffet areas a bit lacking. This was absolutely not the case on Sensation. Being an older ship she does not offer all of the venues that the newer, larger ships offer. I tried the pizza, deli and the main buffet on a daily basis. All very good.
The Ecstasy dining room was nice and the food was outstanding. I was a bit disappointed in the service in this area. Several times we wanted more rolls or refills on water and the wait person was not available. The staff seemed to be around to take the orders and then disappear until the meals arrived. After serving then the staff disappeared again until it was time to serve dessert and coffee.
We went to the Fantasy dining room several times for lunch or breakfast. The service in this room seemed to be a lot better.
Service As I said before service could be better in the Ecstasy dining room. The Fantasy dining room was better. Cabin Steward was outstanding. Our room was always nice when we arrived ack from our activities. The ship was clean and kept very nice as always seems to be the case on Carnival ships.
Entertainment I went to the show the first night and it was standard welcome aboard entertainment. The CD was Chris, I did not get his last name. He was funny and entertaining. The old spoon game was played with 8 people from the audience. I regret that I did not go to the production show. I did not attend the deck party but from my companions I hear it was fun.
Freeport My friend Teddy and I went on the Dolphin Encounter tour. It was fun and we got in the water with the dolphin and posed while our pictures were taken as Andros "kissed" us on the cheek. We were taken by bus to where we were put on a boat out to where the dolphins are. I suggest that if you are not already in your bathing suit to change here. The facilitie here are clean and spacious. Once out to the Dolphin area the facilities are not so comfortable. When we got back I changed to dry clothes. The pictures that were taken while we were in the water were displayed here for sale. There was a bar and a nice outdoor area with pleasant seating. There was a menu available also. All in all it was a nice tour.
Nassau We did the Jeep tour on Nassau. We were told that tour would meet us on the pier by the ship. We got off the ship and no one was there so we walked across to the island. Finding no one there to meet us we went back across to the ship. The tour arrived but then found that we had to walk to where the jeeps were kept. This was nearly a mile away. I do not recommend this tour to anyone with walking issues. There were only 4 of us on this tour and I was surprised that it was not cancelled. Since we were just four they gave us 2 jeeps. We had a guide to drive in each jeep. usually there are four peope in a jeep and it is a drive ourself tour. We felt special to have our own chauffers. The tour was long and fun. I saw a lot of Nassau and really think this island is a great stop. There is a lot more to this island than the standard tourist area.
I liked the fact that the ship was overnight in Nassau. It gave some a chance at more outings than just the daytime tours around the island. A lot of passengers went to Atlantis for evening activities. We were asked to be aboard by 4:30 AM for departure at 7:00 AM. Everyone must have been aboard early as we left at 5:30AM well ahead of the published hour. I was up in the Seaview Bistro having coffee and was surprised that we were moving out.
The rest of the cruise was a sea day sailing back to Port Canaveral. The standard shipboard activities. I never did find the Serenity Area. I did find navigation around this ship to be confusing and difficult.
Disembarkation The usual confusion arond what to do and where to go was the scene as we readied for disembarkation. Those that chose to carry their own luggage were called and took themselves off the ship. Personally I like to leave the luggage handling to the crew. We went up to the promenade and sat comfortably and waited. We were off the ship by 8:30 AM and on our way to Lakeland by 9:00. I was in my home by 10:30AM
This cruise was a fun getaway and I would reccomend it for those that like shorter cruises.