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Old May 1st, 2008, 01:29 AM
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Apr.30- Crossing the Atlantic – Freedom
Today is the first of six 23 hour days on this cruise. Stop that!! Someone find the bandits at Carnival, who are stealing time from my cruise, and arrest them! This is the downside of a west to east transatlantic cruise. The advantage; unlike on air flights, your body makes the adjustments gradually, which eliminates what’s referred to as jet-lag. But who’s going to compensate me for the 87 meals I could’ve enjoyed in that six hour period?

I did sleep until 9:30 AM, before waking to beautifully sunny skies, and very light swells in the ocean. As I made my way to the outdoor decks I still saw many do not disturb signs hanging in cabin doorways. The seas were actually calmer today than the previous days in the Caribbean.

As I perused the Carnival Capers for day-time activities, there didn’t seem to the non-stop flurry of activities schedule I saw on the NCL Jewel last week. There was a variety of spa classes, at a cost, throughout the morning, as well as a cute passenger participation “game show”, modeled after “Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader”, followed by golf putting contests, and a blackjack tournament.

Later in the afternoon there was the Horse Racing auction, and Carnival’s On Deck for the Cure program (where guest make a donation with proceeds going to the Susan G.Komen for the Foundation, for Cancer research, and then walk one mile on deck, for both exercise, and to show support). I think “On Deck for the Cure” is a superb project for Carnival. Today they had close to 1000 people join in the walk. I’ve been struggling with a cold the last couple of days, so didn’t participate myself.

Basically it was a rather typical schedule for a sea day on a Carnival cruise, where passengers could likely find activities of interest to them. Having cruised just last week it’s difficult not to make comparisons; especially because on last week’s cruise NCL began a very innovative program of entertainment options on the Jade, which I was sailing. I personally found the options offered on the Jade last week (which is experimental at this point) to have a broader choice of interesting activities available.

Two of our cruisemates, who’ve been on probably more than a dozen of our group cruises, and who were assigned seating with us, had yet to come to the dining room for dinner. Tonight Donald and Yasmin showed up to have dinner with us.

And this was me when I saw them.

I chose tonight to be the night I test drove Carnival’s newest version of their dress code. For the first time ever I wore shorts to dinner in the dining room. “Dress” (or as they describe them, long) shorts are acceptable attire in the dining room.

I have to admit to feeling a bit odd donning shorts and heading to dinner, knowing the waiter would be better dressed than me. Did I ruin anyone meals by doing so? No, the galley staff did that without any help from me.
Tonight’s menu was another struggle. I found little to appeal to my very basic tastes. I normally love a soup course, yet there’s only been one night to date where I found a soup that sounded worth ordering, and I skipped the salad course because I’ve tired of eating Caesar Salad every night. For my entrée I ordered the chicken breast from the always available menu.

I know I’m beginning to sound hyper-critical of this topic, but there’s been a drastic change, and tomorrow I’m going to speak to Dino, the Maitre d’ to see if I can find out what happened. It’s going to be a bit of a tough chore, as I can’t simply go ask him why the food sucks.

I did hear a very funny story today from some Georgians in our CruiseMates group who have early seating. They were assigned a table in the Chic Dining Room to begin the cruise. The problem arose when they went there for dinner the first night. After sitting for some time they realized they had no servers for their table; no wait staff at all! When they saw the Maitre d’ they were moved to a table in the Posh Dining Room.

In regard to assigned dining times… for several years Carnival has been offering 4 dining times; 5:45, 6:15, 8:00, and 8:30. Now they have reverted back to the system they previously used; two dining times only, 6:00 and 8:15.

Talking to our servers tonight I confirmed there are many new staff members on the ship. They are not new to Carnival, but many recently joined from other ships. The dining room service, at least for us, has not been an issue; in fact it’s been quite good. The cruisemates table located immediately next to ours, with different servers, are routinely getting served their entrees as we’re exiting the dining room.

I should add, yet again tonight the crowd on this ship surprised me. It's quite an active late night crowd. The bars were busy.

I’ll end with a picture of tonight’s beautiful sunset.
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