This was my 4th cruise (2nd on Carnival). Even though the other Carnival cruise ship I was on was one of Paradise's "sisters", there were a lot of differences. The layout of the ship was the same, but the performances of the events were considerably different----such as: Karaoke on this ship was great (not that I participated in the performing!); the Piano bar wasn't as entertaining; the art auctions were done differently; the staff shows were quite different; ... . I wouldn't say this was a better cruise, or worse, both were great!
On to a review of our 4 night cruise, Jan. 9-13, 2006----
The first thing we had to do was make our way from our stay in Anaheim, to the Long Beach Hertz car rental return place. THat was much easier than I expected. They called a cab for us and it was there before we were even done at the counter of the rental place. Cab fare was only about $10.
We arrived about 11---just in time to go over to the Queen Mary to complete our early registration. There was no waiting there and soon we were back outside waiting to board the ship. We had to wait about an hour, then boarding for us who preregistered went rather quickly.
On board, we headed to the Lido deck for lunch. The buffet that day was Italian. It was very good.
When we were done with lunch, we headed to our room and found our luggage was already there. Time to unload and rest up for the muster drill.
Even the muster drill was quite different then any of the other 3 I had been to. After meeting in the muster rooms, we proceeded to go to the decks where our life boat capsules were. After more talking, we were finally released.
The rest of the day was spent mainly exploring the ship and signing up for our excursions---until dinner.
Our dinner was the last one--8:30. The dining hall was half full, if that much. We started out with 7 other people at our table that night----2 got up and left without ordering and we never saw them again; 1 ordered and left before the meal came; 2 others ate that night and never came back; the other 2 came all 4 nights and we had a great time talking to them. This was the first cruise I was on that didn't have a full table of really interesting people at it. Not sure if it was the late seating, or we're really that bad of company (it was my sister's first cruise so I'll blame it on her)!
AFter dinner was the first of the shows---the welcome aboard show. Don't remember anything about it now, but don't remember it being bad.
We were ready to hit the sack after that.
Next day we woke up anchored off of Catalina Island. We reserved an early afternoon tour, so didn't hurry to get off the ship. That could be a mistake! The line was very long waiting for the tenders. We gave ourselves an hour to tender off, but fearing we may miss our excursion, I went down to the exit deck and talked them into letting us jump line. That was by far the longest tender line I've seen on the 4 cruises I've been on!
Catalina is a beautiful island. We did the city/garden tour and it was well worth it. But, we almost didn't get on the tour bus because they overbooked the tour---note--just because you reserve early doesn't mean you'll get on the excursion! We loved the views of Catalina from above. The Wrigley garden was an interesting garden of succulents. The weather was beautiful---70's and sunny. Compared to Caribbean and Mexican ports, Catalina was a haven. Too bad that was the short day in port!
We did attend the Captains cocktail party that evening; dressed up for our late formal dinner; saw the Shout Show; and then to Kaorake with Dan. Dan even did one of the songs pulling 3 people from the audience up to be Jane, a monkey and tarzan---what a hoot! Another memorable song was a 7 minute "rap-type" song that the guy didn't miss a word "singing"--even had a guy come up and start break dancing to. Like I mentioned earlier---the Kaorake on this ship was outstanding!
Wed. was a long day in Ensanada. We did the city/shopping tour. I wondered how it could be 3 hours long----they were very sneaking with that. It started out good---about a 30 minute tour of an x-casino turned community center. Then a ride to a winery. The sneaky part was after that they drop you off in town and say be back in 1 hour or walk back to the ship. We shopped our way back to the ship.
Back on board, we wandered around until dinner, ate, then went to the Comedy and Magic Show.
Next day was at sea. We went to the debarkation talk (first time I actually went); went to the art auction; went to Tea Time; more wandering around and shopping; dinner; the Shout Show; and the late night Comedy show.
Fri. the 13th started out as expected---badly. Our excursion of the coastal tour and airport shuttle was cancelled due to lack of interest! We did debark with the first group and took the shuttle to the airport hoping to find a tour there. No luck--they don't offer tours from the airport. So we were there about 10am with about 9 hours 'til our flights. Fortunately we were both able to catch earlier flights to our respective homes.
All in all, a pretty good vacation. Had a few trying moments, but that's to be expected when you're out in the unknown.