Friday, September 13 Ė Embarkation day
I woke up at 6:30am and packed (yes, Long Beach is a drive to port for me). I had some time to kill before I left to pick up my friend, so I played Bejeweled 3. The game comes with four games that can be played, and if you score a high enough score on each game, you unlock another game. I had an easy time with three of the four games, but just was not doing too well on the fourth game. So I started playing this morning with determination. Once again I was not doing too well. However, after one game I knew I had done well. At the end when the final points started to be added, I ended up getting a high enough score to unlock the fourth mystery game. So the day started off on a high note for me.
However, once on the freeway, I ran into traffic. Why are there so many people on the freeway at 9:45am? Shouldnít they be at work already??? I was fifteen minutes late getting to my friendís house but fortunately hit no more traffic and arrived at the port shortly after 11am.
My friend is getting a red card (I think that means it is his first Carnival cruise), but since this was my tenth Carnival cruise, I was platinum and thus I had priority. Since my friend and I were in the same cabin, he had priority also. Boarding began shortly after noon and we were at our cabin door at 12:20pm (the cabins are not supposed to be ready for diamond, platinum, suite or FTTF guests until 12:30pm, but I found the room steward and he was ready for us.
The luggage tags say priority on them also and our luggage showed up before 12:30pm, before we even had the chance to leave the cabin. We put our luggage in the cabin and headed up to the lido deck. Now normally the first thing I do is take pictures so that I can get as many pictures as possible with as few people in the picture as possible. However, my friend was hungry, so we had lunch. The grilling station (hot dogs and hamburgers), the Mongolian station and two Italian stations were open. We went Italian and it was good. Then we split up and I took pictures. I donít know what my friend was up to.
We meet up again in the cabin. I told my friend that this would be a good time to go to the restaurant and see if the seating could be rearranged so that the four of us were sitting together for dinner. Then we went back to the cabin and rested awhile until my friendís friends boarded. We met them near the pool while they were having lunch. My friend gave his friends our new table number. They seem like nice people. As I was hot, I had a couple strawberry margaritas because they were nice and cool. Eventually we each went back to our cabins to wait until it was time for the muster drill. I am in R2 which is all the way forward on the bottom passenger deck (Riviera) in a porthole cabin. I picked it because I had never been in a porthole cabin before. It is priced the same as an inside, except there is some natural light.
The cabin would be great for families with small children because there is a about a three foot shelf next to the portholes that the kid(s) could lay on and look out the portholes (though this cabin only sleeps two). Another thing, outside the porthole is about two feet of hull, so it is like looking out through a tube. I donít know if the cabins further back with portholes have the same looking through a tube view, but we are in R2 and Iíll bet it is the same for R1, R3 and R4. I also cannot verify that all the porthole cabins have such a nice big shelf next to the window, but once again I am sure cabins R1, R3 and R4 do. However, I donít know if any of these cabins sleep more than two.
The only real downside to this cabin is that being so low; we have to have everything off the floor before high tide. Also, I am sure one of the forward thrusters is directly under our cabin, but that is no big deal since I want to be awake when we come into port anyway (we were). Actually, the real downside is that while the shelf space in the main cabin is adequate, the shelf space in the bathroom is lacking. The shower included a handheld shower head with three settings and the shower is big enough for one person to comfortable take a shower. This cabin has no mini refrigerator, and the safe is operated by the magnetic strip on a credit card. I prefer the type where you punch in a four digit number. There is an issue with the elevators also. The buttons are all lit up, and the buttons you push are just a little brighter than the ones that are not pushed, thus it is very difficult to tell which buttons are pushed and which are not.
We do not have to bring our life vests to the muster drill, and out muster station was in the Paris Lounge (the main show lounge). Then we climbed up to deck ten which is the embarkation point for boarding the life boats.
When the muster drill was over, we stayed on deck ten to enjoy the sail-away (which is a lot easier when not dragging a lift vest around) while those with early seating got ready for dinner. We were dock side for the sail-away until I notice a boat squirting a lot of water into the air. Unfortunately by the time we made it to the port side the fireboat had run out of water.
The harbor patrol was there and took off to get a sail boat to change course so that it would be further from the ship by the time we caught up with it. So I was surprised when it made no effort to drive off a yellow power boat that was floating near the breakwater. However when the yellow power boat starting running parallel to us, I realized it must be the pilot boat. We stayed long enough to watch the pilot abandon ship and then headed back to the cabin to unpack and get ready for dinner.
For dinner I went Italian again. All four of us enjoyed our dinners.
My friend likes to gamble. His favorite game is three card poker. However, that table was full, so he played Caribbean Stud. Basically you play against the dealer. You are dealt five cards and the dealer turns the last card face up. You look at your hand and then either fold and lose your ante or you double your bet and wait for the dealer to reveal the other four dealer cards. If the dealer has an ace-king or better and you beat the dealer you get paid even money for both your ante and your bet. If the dealer does not have ace-king or better you get paid only on your ante, but keep your bet. No matter what, if the dealer wins you lose both your ante and bet.
You can also bet on getting a good hand, where the payout varies from even money to 50 to one payout (for a royal flush). So it is possible to win a lot, if you have a good hand and beat the dealer who has ace-king of better, or it possible to have a better hand then the dealer, but not have a very good hand, and if the dealer does not have ace-king or better you end up losing the good hand bet, but winning the ante and just keeping your bet. So getting a very good hand and winning against a dealer who has ace-king or better can mean a big win. For example you could bet $5 on the good hand, $5 for the ante and $5 for the bet. If you have a very good hand that pays five to one, you would win $25 for the good hand, $5 for the ante and $5 for the bet, so you win $35. You could also lose to the dealer but still win for the good hand and still end up $15 ahead on that hand. When my friend was done he was down $5.
Then with nothing better to do, my friend decided it was time for bed while I decided it was a good time to grab some night time photographs of the ship. Then it was time for me to grab some sleep also.
Usually I cruise solo, so I it didnít occur to me that my friend would be asleep with all the lights off until I entered the cabin. It is dark enough that I canít see anything. I need at least a little bit of light. Finally I figure I can turn on the light in the bathroom and leave the door open slightly and Iíll have enough light to do what I need to do. The next morning I found out that my friend sleeps with shades on, so as long as I am quiet Iím not going to wake him.
For those that are interested, here are the benefits of becoming platinum:
1) Priority embarkation and debarkation.
2) Unique ship pin.
3) Priority dining seating.
4) Priority specialty restaurant reservations.
5) Priority spa reservations.
6) Dedicated guest services phone number.
7) Chocolate delight on 5+ day sailings.
8) Casino: buy 1, get 1 free entry into a tournament. Good for second player or second tournament.
9) Complimentary arcade credits. Valued at $5 for up to two children under 18 per member.
10) Complimentary wash and fold laundry service. Two free bags on 3-6 day cruise or three bags on 7+ day cruise.
11) Carnival logo gift item.
12) Priority tender boarding.
My cabin is down there somewhere ...