We were given basically 3 options. 1st if we had a Miami excursion that they are 1st to leave. 2nd was the carry your stuff off the ship method which you could leave anytime. Lastly, was the leave your bags outside your room by 10pm and they pick it up and you are given a time to disembark. Figuring we had some heavy bag we chose the 3rd option. We were given 10am, which was the second to last time slot.
We ate breakfast, and by 9am the buffet was closed. Drinks and ice cream was the last things available. It was sunny so we hung out on the lido deck and waited. Ship was so barren by the time they called us. We had no problem making our way off the ship and headed down to our bags and Customs. Baggage claim was just like an airport. Custom had 2 lines, 1 for American citizens and 1 for non citizens if I read the signs correctly. Took about 30minutes after getting bags to get through Customs. A filled out form for each of us and a passport and done. Bags in hand we came into the same chaos as day 1, with hordes coming and going. We waited in a taxi line. A van picked us up and the driver combined us with another couple going to airport. He said $25 for each couple. We disputed right away and he yielded quickly. To the airport and the 9pm flight we had booked. Yup 9pm. In hindsight we would have taken a 4-6hr excursion through Carnival but we didnít. They would have gotten us where ever and to the airport while watching our bags in between. It was about noon when we got there. Bleh on the long airport wait, but that was our only miss planning for the week.
Thoughts of the day;
Our 1st cruise was done, and we were sad. My wife like the disconnect from home, no phones, just us, sun, fun, and relaxation. I enjoyed what I heard most non cruise fans disliked, structure of vacation. I like not having to plan meals, coming up with what are we going to do today. It was really pretty much carefree in a sandbox type environment. We are already planning our next one. We are officially cruisers now, not veterans by any means, but definitely fans.
I know I asked this question to a lot of people before cruising, how is the food? Well I now can answer it myself, in a word great. I am not a foodie, a good meal to me a nice steak at Outback, or some home grilling. I say this because I heard other guests complaining about how this or that was not good, and I simply enjoyed it. I have not been very adventurous when it comes to eating, I made it a point to change that on this cruise.
Buffet offered good pancakes, french toast, sausage and other meats of various types, cereal, fresh fruit galore. There was always a few things you just donít see in my mind on a standard American kitchen table. I never was lacking of options, nor was my wife who is a very regimented eater. This was her favorite meal of the day just for the options alone. We learned near the end of the cruise that we could have eaten in the main dinning room if we had chosen to. We stuck to the buffet.
Okay lunch had so many options for me, I never ate that the same place twice when on the ship. Fish and Chips, Burrito place, Deli place which my wife ate every day, Pizza place, buffet itself, grill fare station, stir fry station, incredible. I am not sure how anyone could not like this the variety for lunch. Food would be equal to any decent to good restaurant fare. Our food was always hot and many way made to order right there for you. The trick is finding these places early. I did not find the Fish and Chips until our last day at sea.
I already raved about our wait staff, and I will do it again. They made dinner experience excellent for us. Never once did we even think room service or buffet because of them. This was my adventure time. Each night they had a usual menu option in the appetizer section. I had shark, alligator, oyster Rockefeller, a cheese plate, cold strawberry soup, and so on. Each night I pick the weird one and a safe one. The only one I didnít like was the oyster Rockefeller. For entre, I never picked the norm. I tried things I heard about but never was willing to try. To me on a food level it seems a cruise is built for this kind of eating. If you donít like get something else, just that simple. They didnít have a lot of super healthy fare my wife eats though. She was pretty much limited by her eating habit to 1 or 2 dishes for the entire cruise. Luckily, she has no issue what so ever about eating grilled chicken and backed potato every day. Again, breakfast was her thing. Deserts were great, the best was this bitter and blanc concoction which I would recommend everyone get to at least try. I could have eaten this every day, but it was only offered once. The one I was most disappointed in was the baked Alaska. I saw it on the menu one night boom. Well it did not taste bad, but it was not true baked Alaska as I remember eating in my youth. Kind of sad really. The sugar free deserts were just plain funny and not very good. My wife had fruit. The funniest two were the cheesecake and pumpkin pie. I am pretty sure if I had dropped them, they would have bounced. I never had the melting cake, which was there every night. I usually opted to the out of the norm stuff.
I wrote about this on our last full day at sea.
Okay I had a not so great time with them. It was 11pm we got kinda hungry so we tried to order room service. My thoughts was a cheese pizza, some lemonade, and some fruit. After being on hold for 15minutes, which I completely understand and I am not an impatient person, I placed my order and got a resounding no for the order taker. We donít serve any of that. Now I was a little panicked, for the fact of I had no clue what to order and I hate wasting peopleís time. So I ask what do you serve, in about 3 seconds he rattled off about 10 different things. I ended up a turkey sandwich only, and my wife had to fend for herself heh. We were told 45min. So we waited, and my sandwich arrived with a smile and I gave $2 tip. I didnít eat the sandwich because it was covered in mayo, not a big fan. So we went and got pizza, fruit and lemonade and it took us 20minutes there and back heh. We thought it odd there was nothing around to tell us about room service. Well, our last night while packing, we found in one of the drawers a laminated sheet about the room service menu. So it is there, and we found a few things we would have ordered. Now we know.
Thoughts on food;
We didnít really know what to expect, we had good reviews and bad ones before going. In the end I thought it was great. My wife again being very health conscious was pretty limited in her choices, but she is use to it and prepared for it. So all in all the food was great and gave us each truly good to purely fine dinning.