So this makes my 10th cruise with Carnival and my official platinum level! Yay!!!!! So this was just a short 3 day graduation present for my DW. She finished up her bachelors in accounting! This was a great feat because she was juggling work, home and school for the past 6 years and it was not easy for her. So to get started I booked this as an porthole room on main deck ES and I got a few OBC when it dropped and then Carnival had that huge spring sale and I used ES to get a OBC AND upgrade to a window on Empress. 3 days out the upsell fairy called and offered a balcony for $140 more. Well I already had a $70 OBC which means I really was only paying $70 for the balcony and I jumped on it. I did not tell DW as I wanted that to be a surprise.
So the day of the cruise came and off we went from Tampa about 7:30am. We drove over to visit my DW brother who lives near Disney and had breakfast with him and then head toward the port. Instead of parking at the port like we did the last time, we used Park N Cruise and it was great! Within 10 minutes we were checked in and on our way to the port. This unfortunately was where the only hiccup in the trip began. So with all of the construction on the new pier the bus drive had to follow a predetermined route that literally made us circle the entire parking lot twice before he could drop us off...once on an outer road that took him to a place to pay to drop us off and then instead of letting him go directly to the drop off point we had to circle around again in an inner road. It was cool to see the work on the new pier though! Here are a few shots:
Getting to security was simple there was only one other VIP in front of us. Now the big issue.....we go to security and they stop us to tell us on of our carry on bags is too big. We just took the Paradise out of Tampa a month ago and took the same bag and there was not an issue. At Port Canaveral the guy said that the bag was technically a cooler and Carnival only allows a 12x12x12 and ours was too big. I explained that they had no issues in Tampa and as he could see there was nothing in it but clothes and a pillow. Still said nope sorry you can take it back to the car or leave it here and we will throw it away. Needless to say DW was pretty upset, but he was just doing his job and I will admit I don't read the contract in complete entirety. I just expected it would be ok since nothing was said in Tampa. The next big issue was getting to the top of the steps and finding no one at the VIP check in desk. There were 3 other groups waiting there and all in all we stood around for about 10 minutes before someone showed up to point us in the right direction. ( we did see the door at the end of the hall that said VIP lounge but it was full of people and I could hear the lady in there say "why are there so many people just walking in here and not escorted" looks like someone not doing their job in the lobby ooopppps)
So finally someone comes out there to try and make some order. When it was our turn to go to the back I asked the lady taking us there about the bag that was taken downstairs and she said "yeah the port makes the rules not us, sorry" WHAT?! They told me downstairs you make the rules.......ugh. Well we get back to the room and there are 2 people ahead of us. The first one goes smooth and the next VIP is trying to check in his whole family by himself! She looks at him and is like Sir, I need everyone here to check in I can't just take the birth certificates without seeing them. To be honest at first I was like you are VIP and don't know that? Then common sense kicked in and as she was putting his sail and sign cards back up and I saw they were the blue ones which means first time on Carnival, VIP by room category.....so I can understand if he has never cruised before. So then we go and are out the door in like 2 seconds flat so that part was great, but everything else was a mess. I was very surprised at this check in...it was our first VIP and we heard such good things about this port, but they just were not on their A game during the time we were checking in...oh well everyone has a bad day every now and then. Unlike some people, we were not going to let the bag and check in issue ruin the cruise it was just a hiccup and all in all it took us about 30 mins to get on the ship (still great time) and we were stepping on the ship at 12pm.
As we get on I noticed that the rooms were already open for us! Sweet! We head down and as I pass the room we were suppose to have my DW said "Where are you he going?". I then told her about the upsell then and she loved it! We got in and dropped off our carry on "plastic bag" that the security guy gave us for our stuff, read over the platinum perks paper and head up to Lido. We both had the Mongolian Wok and it was awesome. We then went back to the room and hung out on the balcony until the muster drill. After the drill some more balcony on sail away and we just stayed out there until dinner. We had Anytime Dinning so we headed out around 5:45 and got there just after they opened. Very quick to get seated and I had the marinated pork chop steak and DW the tilapia. Finished it off with key lime pie for me and warm chocolate melting cake for DW. While everyone else was at dinner we went to the Serenity Deck and just chilled in the hot tub and watched the sun set as we sailed off towards the Bahamas!
I was up early, like normal, and snuck out on the balcony with my iPad and camera. I messed around on the iPad and took a few morning shots until DW got up and then we head out for breakfast....nothing too fancy just Lido grub and it was good. We then spent the rest of the morning on the balcony as we headed into Nassau. We docked around 12pm and DW and I headed out around 12:30 to avoid the crowds. We did not do much as this was the 3rd time being here and we were going for a relaxing day. Did a little shopping and hung out at Senior Frogs watching the 18 - 20 year olds make fools of themselves since they were legal to drink. Pretty darn funny! DW and I both had "The Yard" so we were not feeling too much pain either! We headed back to the ship around 4pm and were very surprised to see the plate of chocolate delights sitting in the room! I was under the impression these were only given on 5 day or longer cruises well it was nice! We then took a nap so we could make it to the Mexican Buffett that night.
Tonight was formal night and we got little dressed up....DW a nice dress and I had slacks and a dress shirt and tie. We both had the strawberry bisque and lobster and DW had banana cake and I had the warm chocolate melting cake. After dinner we headed back to the room to change back into casual clothes and found our Platinum gifts waiting. We both got the pin and both got the backpack. We then did a little shopping on board and headed to the late showing of the show "Curves". Not a bad performance. This show was a more Vegas style so there was a lot of skin and feathers in the costumes for both male and female performers. After the show we headed up to the Mexican Buffett and had.....Mexican! My DW loves the pineapple salsa so she dug into that's and I had a little bean and chicken tostada. Also I had a double shot of rum in one of those suvinear blinking shot glasses and DW had a coconut monkey Bahama Mama we turned in after that!
Today was the last day we got up late and did Lido again for breakfast then hung out on the balcony until the slot tournament. We used our platinum perk to gain entry for free and suffered a heart breaking defeat, but it was still fun! We grabbed a light lunch from the deli because we were doing the Chef's Table for dinner and did not want to be full. After lunch we hung out on our balcony againg until the rain drove us inside. We decided to go to the spa for about an hour and enjoy the steam rooms and saunas then we headed back to the room to chill for a little while before the Chef's Table!
So here comes the Chef's Table review......it was AWESOME end of story. Worth every penny as so many others have said.
We met at the lobby bar and was greeted by the chef and then escorted to the galley. Upon arrival the Chef gave us several facts about how the galley works and the estimated meals prepared as well as some facts about specific dishes. When then had champagne and the reception appetizers.
First round was the Parmesan Core & Olive and Chorizo & Date Piquillo Sofrito
Next Focaccia, Mascarpone Cream & Prosciutto Crudo and Langoustine & Sundried Tomato Jam Fritters
After that he took us to the pastry area where they showed us how they make the Warm Chocolate Melting Cake and then did a walking tour of the back side of the galley. We then proceeded to the Library where the table was set up for the main meal. Before we started we had a group picture with the Chef which he signed and we all got copies near the end of dinner.
The first course was Tomatoes Our Way! And I must say this was my favorite not just the chilled tomatoes with the Coco butter, but the best for me was the chilled tomato covered with white chocolate. I would have never thought it would taste good with that combo, but boy I would have been wrong. It was delicious!
Next Tuna Banh Mi. I am not a big fish San, but again the way this was prepared was awesome. It even had a little wasabi to motive it a kick! And the sesame crisp gave it a crunch and a taste of sweetness!
The Cornish Hen was next and again just great
The Bavarois was interesting. It was a cold pea and apple soup mixed with greens so it was kind of a soup and salad combo
Salmon was up next and again it was very good the thing that got me was the Condensed Beets. The Chef said they make a big paste and crisp it up like paper then roll it and serve it....just a fabulous crunch and sweetness.
The last meal before desert was Wagyu and it had been slow roasted for 4 hours before served and it just melted in your mouth. The potatoes were awesome they had a little crunch on the outside and then soft like mashed potatoes inside and DW loved the Pumpkin Fudge
Desert was the Chef in a Candy Shop which had 27 flavors on the plate from chocolate to raspberry mousse. There were almond cookies coco dust, carrot dust just a load of different things.
Durning the dinner we also had a table magician come in and he was funny and good!
To drink with dinner you had bottles water, sparkling water and a red and white wine...and yes it is unlimited and I can say no one at the table stuck with just 1 glass! I had 6 glasses (not full to the brim half glasses so really 3 full glasses) and I by no means was in the lead with wine consumption! All in all we had a great time and with out a doubt we will do it again. Oh and I do want to mention something about children at the Chefs Table...I saw nothing about an age limit, but having a 9 year old myself I can tell you it is not for young kids. My daughter would have been board and asking "when can we go" within 30 minutes so I would suggest this is a meal for older kids who can deal with a slow long dinner. After dinner we headed back to the room and packed put our bag out then turned in for the night.
Well this is the end.....up at 7:30am had a quick breakfast then head to the Michelangelo Lounge for VIP priority debarkation. We sat there until they were done with self assist and a little after 9am we were off the ship and on the bus to go back to Park N Cruise. Car was fine and we headed back to Tampa. In the end it was a great cruise and I have to give a shot out to Leonardo our room stewart and Kadek our waiter. Both were awesome for the short time we we aboard.