-Sunday 10/29/06 Detroit Michigan and Houston Texas- We were picked up from our house at 7:15 AM and started heading to the airport. Emily was relaxing in the back seat and I was looking out the window in the front passenger seat. After driving for about 40 minutes Emily realized we were not going in the correct direction. Jason had got off on the wrong freeway. So after getting back on track we had lost about 40 minutes of time. We finally arrived at the airport at 9:00AM and waited in the luggage line outside. We made it to the front of the line and gave our bags to the luggage guy who looked at our ticket and told us we were supposed to have all lugged checked in 30 minutes before our flight. It was now 9:10AM. We started freaking out and asked him what we could do to help us. He said he would see what he can do to get our luggage on the plane and then told us to RUN! We gave him a good tip and then took off. At the security checkpoint I had no problem getting through but when Emily set off the alarm because she had not removed the close to 60 bobby pins in her hair from her wedding night yet. So after another wait to get a female security guard to come over so they could frisk her we then started running to make the flight. Of course our gate had to be at the very end of the airport. (One gate away from being the last gate) As we started to run I stepped on Emily's flip flop and broke the strap so she had to run barefoot through the entire airport. We finally got to the gate at 9:27AM and saw our plane. The door was closed to the walkway but the plane was still attached. There was no one standing at the booth by our entrance door so we ran to the next one over and explained that we needed to get on the plane. The lady was very rude to us. She said she couldn't do anything. She told us we should go wait for the person in charge of our flight as she should be back to here booth in a second. We walked back over and stood by the door. No one came. The plane started to back away from the walkway and then drove out of sight. This is when I was about to go crazy! I just stood there with my arms crossed looking at the mean lady. Finally she motioned for us to come back to her booth. She said the only thing she could do was book us on the next flight at 12:30PM. We said ok and took the new tickets. We didn't know what to do so we sat down and Emily started making calls to the cruise line. The new flight would not arrive to Houston until 2:39PM and the last Carnival Shuttle leaves the airport at 2:00PM. Arriving at 2:39PM and having to get our luggage would get us to a taxi by 2:50ish. Then another 1.5 hour taxi ride would get us to the ship around 4:15 - 4:30ish. We called Carnival to inform them we would be late and they told us the ship leaves at 4:00PM on the dot. So we started having Emily's sister (Angie) look into other flights besides Northwest. The earliest flight she found wasn't until 11:45AM but then we would not be reimbursed for our Northwest tickets and these tickets would cost another $700.00 to hopefully get us to Houston 20 or 30 minutes sooner then the new flights we already had tickets for. Plus we didn't know where our bags were. We asked several people at the airport about our bags including the lost luggage department. No one could help us find out if our bags made it on the flight we missed or not. The only thing the airport staff could tell us was if it didn't make it on that flight it would be on the next one. At this point we realized we wouldn't make it to the ship. We started having Angie look into what we could do to catch the ship. After looking at everything plus considering the fact we were on our Honeymoon and still wanted to enjoy it we decided to take the flight we already had tickets for and find our luggage in Houston. From Houston we would find a hotel for the night and then fly out the next morning at 9:30AM to Montego Bay Jamaica so we could meet out ship at its first port on Wednesday. It turns out our luggage was on the flight we came in on and we ended up getting to the Houston Airport with luggage in hand earlier then we expected because the pilot made good time. We were ready at 2:30PM on the dot. I asked a few Taxi services and they said we could not make it to the ship by 4:00PM. I then asked a private car service and he said for $200 he might be able to make it there on time. We decided not to try. We ended up hanging out in Houston for the night and got a really nice hotel for only $55.00. We grabbed a bite to eat at the Jack in the Box, lol, we never had it before and one was close to our room. We then went to bed early to make sure we would get a good night sleep so we wouldn't have a repeat of the day before. On a side note: We were at the airport so much that we were able to collect 3 out of 4 Mc Donald's monopoly tickets needed to win the 5 million dollar prize.
-Monday 10/30/06 Houston Texas, Miami Florida, and Montego Bay Jamaica- We were ready and at the airport using the free hotel shuttle at 7:00AM, we figured 2.5 hours at the airport would ensure we would make the flight. Lol. We flew into Miami and then had to walk to the connecting flight to Jamaica. The walk took 25 minutes. I know this because the Miami airport is so big that it has signs when you walking saying how many minutes until you will reach your gate.
-Monday Night - Wednesday Morning- We flew into Jamaica around 3:30PM on Monday. After explaining to Customs why we were there we took an airport taxi to the resort Angie booked for us. It was called Sunset Beach Resort and Spa in Montego Bay. We had planned on going here when our ship came in to port on Wednesday anyway, so now we just got a little more time to enjoy it. The resort was right next to the port where our ship would arrive Wednesday morning. We had a great time at the resort. It was all inclusive with 4 restaurants, 3 bars, and good entertainment. When I say all inclusive I mean it. When we arrived they said put away your wallet because everything is included. They will make you unlimited drinks as strong or as weak as you want them. They also have pop, water, juice, and ice cream machines everywhere, all free! Our room was beautiful, with a private balcony, large bathroom, and even 150 channels on the TV (incase you want to watch it before bed). It was like being on a cruise ship but with bigger better pools that are basically always open, beautiful beachfront at all times, more room to roam, no money hungry staff, free pool toys, use of paddle boats and kayaks, better food, and free drinks. If you want a drink served in a pineapple they cut open a pineapple in front of you and make the drink. Everything was located within a fenced in very safe feeling environment. Our room was on the tenth floor with a balcony overlooking the ocean. The resort had 4 pools, two of them with swim up Bars. They also had a cool river like pool with 2 huge waterslides, waterfalls, shady areas to stay out of the sun, and a lazy river so you could float around the pool with the free rafts. We spent most of the time floating around in the pool for the 2 days we were there. The resort also had 2 cats running around, living it up. The first night we went to sit down and watch one of the bands playing and noticed one of the cats was lying down in the chair next to us. He had the best seat in the house and was passed out cold. The loud music and groups of people were not stopping this cat from getting its cats nap. People were sitting on the basic chairs while this cat had a nice cushioned chair. Lucky Cat! The next day we saw the cat walking on the beach. He came up to us and we were able to take some pictures of him. Later that day we used the resorts paddle boat. The rest of the day was spent walking around exploring the resort, eating, and drinking. That night they put on a cool musical show for Halloween. On Wednesday morning we got up early to see if we could see our ship coming into port. Sure enough around 6:45AM Emily spotted a small white dot over the horizon. As an hour went by the dot grew bigger and bigger then we could see the red stack of the ship. After about 45 minutes the ship ended up passing directly in front of our room which made for some cool pictures. That morning we went to breakfast and decided to go snorkeling in the ocean. We then swim in the resorts pool until checkout time at 11:00AM. We didn't want to leave the resort, it was so much fun. It was funny being able to see the ship from the beach and pools we were swimming in that morning. As we were swimming we knew if we saw our ship start to leave we could use the paddle boat to catch it. Lol.
-Wednesday 11/1/06- Once we checked out of the resort we took a taxi for the 2 minute drive to the port. After 20 minutes of going through customs and having to pay them to stay in Jamaica for more then 24 hours we were allowed to go to the next security checkpoint. As we headed to the metal detectors in the building a guy ran up to us and said he had to help carry our luggage to the ship. He put all our bags on a cart and took them to the ship for us. When we got there he said ok I need to be paid now. We were kind of shocked. Emily was going to give him a $3.00 tip before he said anything. The guy actually asked how much she had in her hand and when Emily said $3.00 he said that was not enough. He then said he needed $5.00. So instead of getting upset and starting a fight with this guy or tossing him into the water, we realized we were 1 foot away from boarding the ship that we have had such bad luck getting to; we paid the guy and entered the ship.
Once onboard the security guard saw our bags and said "oh, you must be Brad and Emily, we were expecting you." He had us go to the lobby on deck 3 to check in as they took our bags to our room. We again had to wait another 20 minutes to check in while they organized our paperwork. At least they removed the automatic tips for the days we missed. By this point I had about had it with the checking in processes after what we went through this week. If I would have had to check in one more time or do any kind of customs stuff I would have went crazy! Once we got our cards we went to our room to check it out. We then spent most of the day exploring the ship. For lunch Emily got her sandwich and I got a hamburger from the grille. At 7:30PM we went and saw the magic show and then went to the dinner at 8:30PM. We had late seating for dinner and liked it more then the earlier seating option we had on our last cruise. It was nice not needing to get read until latter. The dinner was great, we both had the steak. Our waiter and assistant waiter were very funny. Towards the end of dinner they surprised us with a heart shaped piece of cake with a candle in the middle. All the waiters came up to our table and started singing Happy Honeymoon to us. (Basically the birthday song but with honeymoon said instead) We never even told the waiter it was our honeymoon so we were surprised they knew. They made us kiss the entire time they were singing and said we couldn't stop until they were done. During the song our waiter put a napkin in front of us for privacy. It was funny, we were laughing too hard to kiss. There must have been a lot of people on there honeymoon because they kept mentioning honeymoons and newlyweds. The Restaurant manager was great. He sang different songs for the entertainment part of the dinners every night. He was a great singer. The first night we were there he sang Don't rock the boat and dedicated it to all the honeymooners. After dinner (like we did on our last cruise) we decided to take a nap with plans on going to the late comedy show after our nap. Well once again we slept through it and I didn't wake up until the next morning, Oops.
-Our Room and the ship- Our room was nice. We were on the 10 floor with a balcony located towards the center of the ship on the right side (whatever boat term that means). We liked the room but it was not as nice as the balcony suite we were upgraded to on our last cruise (Carnival Triumph, May 21, 2005 also on cruise reviews) This room didn't have a separate spot for Emily to get ready with all her makeup stuff. Also this bathroom was smaller and had a stupid shower setup. It wasn't cramped but the shower was stupid. Emily and I basically flooded the bathroom each time one of us would take a shower. The shower had a small curtain that didn't stop the water from coming out. The shower head arm also seamed broken as it kept falling and shooting water onto the bathroom floor. One time I walked in the bathroom and when Emily called me to put some towels down on the floor. I walked in to find about an inch deep of water over the entire bathroom floor, good thing Carnival gives you beach towels. The ship seamed a lot larger then the Carnival Triumph. It also had more dining choices. I also like that the grille had chicken breast sandwiches in addition to the hotdogs and hamburgers. This ship wasn't as fancy looking as the Triumph was in the inside. Besides a little different setup in the pool and dining area it had the same basic setup as the Triumph.
-Thursday 11/2/06 Grand Cayman Islands- Thursday we went to the Grand Cayman Islands. We were up and ready to get off the ship as it arrived. This port didn't have a pier so we had to take a tender to the shore. We had also paid for a shore excursion the night before to Seven Mile Beach with Taxi. This included taxi to and from the beach, use of there chairs, and a drink. After the short ride in the smaller boat we had to stand with the rest of the people who signed up for the excursion for about 30 minutes before we could start loading the buses. Once on the beach we watched as everyone went to the closest spot and all stayed together. We kept walking and went as far away as we could from everyone else. The beach and water was beautiful. We tried to snorkel but the water was too stirred up to see clearly. We ended up swimming with our fins on for about 3 hours. After swimming we decided to get ready to head back to the port. When we were loading up the bus to go back a husband and wife were told they could not get on the bus until they finished there beer that they were obviously drinking a lot of that morning. During the time they were finishing up there beer other people took the spot the wife had told the driver she needed to sit in because of her bad knee. The husband finished his beer and sat down on the bus but when the lady went to enter she started yelling at the driver because people had taken the seat she needed. Then her husband started yelling and jumped out of the bus and got in the drivers face. The driver looked like he was going to kill these people but instead he said talk to my manager as he got in the bus and drove away without the couple. The driver was telling all of us if he didn't have a family to provide for he would have beat up the guy. It was so funny, we were all laughing. The buses were coming every ten minutes to pick people up so I don't know why these people were so messed up acting, oh wait they were drunk! Her knee seamed fine, I think she was just lazy and wanted the seat that gets off the bus first. As far as the excursion goes if I could do it again I would just get a taxi and not paid for the excursion. It was not worth the cost, a taxi there and back would have been cheaper with less of a wait. The beach area was nice but on the way to this spot we saw other nice spots with no one else around. Once we were back at the port we walked around the town and purchased some souvenirs. We then got back on the ship early to insure we wouldn't miss it again. Thursday Night we got ready for the formal dinner. We left our room around 7:00PM so we would have time to take pictures at all the photo areas. Dinner was great again. This time I ordered 2 steaks, umm, very good. After I finished my meal the waiter dropped my knife down the back of my shirt as he was taking away my plate. It got a few spots of A1 sauce on it. He tried to clean it but the stain wouldn't come out. The manager came up and took our room number down and told us to drop it off later at the front desk and they would have it cleaned. I got it back the next day as good as new. After dinner we changed and went to the magic show. I thought the show was great but Emily thought the show last year was better. Afterwards we went back to the room and went to bed. Around 2:00AM I woke up and decided to get some pizza and ice cream that I brought back to the room and ate on our balcony. It was good, but I'm glad it isn't that easy to get pizza every night or I wouldn't be able to fit in the room.
-Friday 11/3/06 Cozumel Mexico- We arrived in Cozumel Mexico around 9:00AM. It started raining as we docked but stopped by the time we got off the boat. We didn't sign up for any excursions but knew we wanted to go to the beach. We had a taxi driver take us to San Francisco Beach Club about 15 miles away from the port. The club only cost $5 per person and came with a chair and umbrella and beautiful beach front. We stayed for about 3.5 hours. I snorkeled for most of the time while Emily was relaxing and swimming. Before we left I saw a stingray in the water. I had Emily grab her snorkeling gear so she could see it as well (she wanted to see one all week and she finally did). It was white with brown spots. I took some pictures of it with the underwater camera. A little scary but cool. After snorkeling we decided to relax on the beach. We ordered some chips and salsa and watched people Para sailing. Once we were done we had a taxi take us back to town. We had him drop us off at Mc Donald's so we could try and collect the final monopoly ticket we needed to win the 5 million dollar prize. Little did we know but the contest had ended a couple days before. Darn! From there we walked though the town and went into all the shops. Emily had her picture taken with some of the local talent who were dressed up in costumes. It started raining but really didn't bother us because we were inside the stores anyway. One store was giving away free samples of alcohol so I had a few test shots. Once back on the ship we walked around and went to the casino that evening. We decided not to go to the formal dinner and I ended up getting fish & Chips from the fish bar on the boat, and Emily got a sandwich and some pizza. Ok so then I think I also had a hamburger, fries, pizza, and ice cream. (I was hungry)
-Saturday 11/4/06 Fun Day at Sea- We decided to play the slots in the casino and even play a little bingo during the day. We Lost! The only thing we won was a raffle for a bottle of nice Champaign. Besides gambling we basically relaxed and just enjoyed the last day. It wasn't raining but we had some ruff waves that started a little before midnight the night before. The waves weren't getting any better. The constant back and forth motion was starting to make us a little sea sick. I must say these boats don't really move much and when I saw a smaller boat go by it was impressive how good our ship took the waves with all the technology it has. That being said the small movement still is enough to get a person sick. After a nap, room service for some food, and some motion sickness pills we were fine.
-Saturday Night (last night)- Emily was tired so she decided to go to bed early. I wanted to catch the last show so I headed down to the lounge on the 4th floor around 10:30PM. The show was great and very funny. They were having a lot of technical issues, but it was a good show. One time the music stopped in the middle of a song. The person left the stage and then after a short wait he had to go back out and redo the song from the beginning. I decided to sneak out a few minutes before the show ended to beat the elevator rush. As I was getting on the elevator the boat seamed to be shaking a lot more then it had been. A man on the elevator said "you didn't hear what happened?" I said no. He then said that someone had fallen overboard and the ship was turning around to look for him. Once off the elevator I ran to my room to wake up Emily. At this point the ship was really moving and things were starting to tip over. We ran to our balcony and saw spot lights from the front of the ship aimed at the water. We left our room and decided to go to the front of the ship on the navigation deck that is outside and down a flight of stairs from our floor at the front of the ship. It had the best view because it sticks out past the side of the ship about 10 feet. On our way we had to hop over peoples bags. Most of the bags had tipped over when the ship turned. The ship had 2 spotlights panning the water looking for the person. The boat kept turning around and moving forward and backwards searching in different areas. Finally after about 20 minutes there was a page over the loud speaker for the guests staying in 3 different rooms in a row on the 6th floor. Another 10 minutes later another page for guest staying in the middle of the two rooms. Then another 10 minutes later the cruise director came on the speaker and said that the boat had turned around to do a search. Then another 10 minutes he said someone has fallen overboard and they will be doing a search. He then said be careful when the ship is moving around. In the distance ships were starting to surround us. I counted 15 ships. All kinds of boats were helping out. I saw 2 other cruise ships, fishing boats, barges, and freighters. Our ship lowered its main lifeboat that drove around searching for hours as our ship kept turning around and searching with the spotlights. After about an hour another carnival ship came up right in front of us and started searching. We ended up going back to our room after about 2.5 hours and then watched from our balcony until we were too tired to stay awake any longer. After about 5 hours the ship took off, unsuccessful in the search.
-Sunday 10/5/06- We spoke to other people the next morning who said helicopters and planes from the coast guard stated flying over towards the end of the search. No one from our ships crew said anything about what had happened. The cruise director came on the loud speaker at breakfast and talked about the debarkation changes because of the delay from the events last night. Anyone who had a flight out before 2:00PM (using the honor system) and didn't put there bags out in the hall the night before were going to be allowed to get off the boat first. Luckily we still had our bags as we were able to get off sooner even though our flight wasn't until 4:30PM. (They didn't need to know that.) Even so, we arrived at the airport around 3:00PM so anyone who had an earlier flight probably missed it. Luckily it was a very fast debarkation, from the time we left our room we were directed to sit in the lounge for about 15 minutes and were on the bus pulling away from the port within about an hour.
Overall it was a great honeymoon mixed with lots of stress and excitement! It will make for a great story to tell people in the future.