Departure- We got to our airport close to an hour before the flight was scheduled to leave. Due to construction at our local airport, it took about 20-25 minutes just to figure out where the long term parking was located. Once DH found it (he had dropped me off with the luggage where ya walk in), we went to the ticket counter, got checked in, collected our boarding passes and instantly got on the plane headed for Atlanta. We had around an hour's lay-over and boarded the plane early, and we got to Lauderdale as scheduled, by 1:30. We got our luggage and DH's bag was pretty much destroyed. There was an L-shaped tear in it big enough to see what was inside. Went to baggage claim and got a form done to submit so when we got back home it could be sent off & repaired. We found the Carnival rep, got on a bus within 15 minutes, and were transferred to the Fort Lauderdale Grande Hotel.
Fort Lauderdale Grande Hotel- Here it is, at least 1 review of a hotel that no-one ever talks about. Now I see why. When we checked in, it looked very nice in the lobby. Staff was friendly and helpful. No porters for luggage. They have valet parking and will get you a cab in no-time. Cabs are constantly in & out with staff outside to make sure you get one quickly. We went to the front desk and were offered a choice between a king or 2 full-size beds. We chose the king. Then, she said she had no kings available they were being cleaned. So, we took the full. They don't offer you the choice of smoking or non-smoking. We were assigned a room that was non-smoking. We couldn't have asked for a better view from the balcony. The port was directly across the street. This hotel is still under construction, I believe the tower rooms are still closed. Even though the lobby looked nice, the carpet in the hallways were stained, as were the walls. The rooms were no different however, the bed sheets were extremely clean (else we wouldn't have stayed). The water is discolored, and there's a sign that tells you that it has to do with the town's water system. The sign tells you the water is safe, but I didn't trust it. After we got to our room, we both took a nap. Then we headed to the lobby and the concierge recommended 15th Street Fisheries for a steak & seafood dinner. We grabbed a cab ($6). This place has casual & more formal seating with the casual on the one side with outside tables, and the more formal inside. We had a table right by the waterfront. There was no seafood/steak dish at all. You had to choose 1 or the other, so I ordered 1, DH ordered the other, and we shared. I wouldn't go here again, because it's not quite what we were looking for. We took a cab back to the hotel stopping at CVS along the way. DH wanted a new suitcase. Cab ride even with us stopping was a little over $10. We went back to the room, watched the gambling ship leave out, spent some time on the balcony, transferred his clothes from 1 suitcase to the new one, got the ship tags on them (the deck tags). Watched some t.v., we had to call the front desk for a remote control, there wasn't one in the room. It took them almost 30 minutes to get us one. Around 10 we called for a pizza delivery, when it arrived, the front desk called to see if we wanted to come meet him, or if we wanted them to send him up. Send him up please. After eating we went to bed. Check out is 11 and we were charged $1 for the phone call for the pizza. This hotel charges over $300 per night. There's even a sign on the door that says max charge is $400 per night. Not worth it. Maybe after renovations are done, but not now. Wouldn't want to stay there again until all work is done.
Embarkation- We checked out of the hotel at 11:00. We were told that the Carnival transfers bus usually cam by 12-12:30 at the latest. I think they finally showed up around 1:00. We got over to the pier & got off of the bus. There was a line, but not a bad one. We got right on into the terminal, and right off the bat were asked for our funpass. We had the docs, passports, funpass & immigration forms in our hands. Makes things much faster, a good idea to have it out & ready. We went through to a line and were called to the counter fairly quick. We were using traveler's cheques and had written cash over the credit card info spot on the S&S page. They tore that page out & kept it. They verified everything checked our i.d's, etc. and off to a line we went. Everyone was told that any metal you were wearing needed to come off, including belts, piercings, etc. Once through the X-ray we collected our things and proceeded through the line. We had to show docs & I.D. twice more before getting on the ship, so keep it handy. Everything was smooth and moved very quickly. When we got on board we went to the Venetian Palace where we were told to set up the cash on our S&S account. When it was our turn, they asked for S&S page out of the documents. We told them that they had torn it out at check-in. We handed them our S&S card, and put money down. Not sure why they wanted a page that had been taken, maybe it's something they should work on. Everything went smooth, even though the bus didn't show up until 1, we were at a bar with a foo-foo in hand before 1:30, and that was after we had gotten done in the Venetian Palace. So yes, it was quick. Our luggage arrived before 6, and we spent the day exploring. Tried to make reservations at Harry's for Valentine's but they were already booked solid. We made the reservations for Tuesday night. We went to the late seating as requested. In the hello speech, they stressed no shorts after the 1st night in the dining room. We met our table mates. We had 1 couple that we never saw again after the first night. We were at a table for 8, and the rest of the week, it was a table for 6. I did overhear the man say that his 1st dinner was the worst thing he'd ever had. Everyone else was happy. He struck us as someone that was gonna be unhappy no matter what. We went on to check out the casino, & then on to bed.
Cabin 2462- We had booked cabin 2462 back in September for this trip. It is a category 1a, however this is an L-shaped cabin aft, on the main deck. It has 2 ocean-view windows and a king-sized bed, with a mini-bar in the room. It was plenty big enough, and we enjoyed our new home for the week. The bed was soooo comfortable, as were the pillows.
Freeport- We were here from 7a.m.-3 p.m. We slept in on that day because we had heard there wasn't much to do. They're right. We went to the straw market and went into the different stores, then to a cab to Lucaya. We went & looked around the casino, walked out to the beach, then walked back and across the street for some shopping. In my pics, I'm wearing a red flower wrap-around skirt with a matching tank top. $40 but I wanted it, and we were on vacation. That's about all we did here. Went back to the ship, DH got a nap while I roamed around a bit. This was our first formal night, so started getting ready for that. We went to dinner had some pictures made, and spent the rest of the evening in the casino. This got to be our every night routine after dinner.
Fun Day At Sea- I guess it was the excitement of being on the trip, but somehow from this day on, I got into the habit of getting up around 8:30 every day. Never do that at home. We more or less just explored the ship, I played a trivia game or 2, we played some bingo. Of course, DH wanted to check out the topless deck, at least he was smart enough to wait for the day you could actually see Cuba. He said he saw lots of puppies, I wasn't paying attention, I actually was looking for Cuba. We got done roaming the ship, he took his nap, I went to the internet cafe to send my daughter an e-mail, got a shake, took some pics of the ship, and went back to get ready for Harry's. This was the night we had reservations for. We decided to dress formal and go. We went in, got seated, and no sooner was my napkin in my lap when the young lady who was setting up the table knocked over a glass of ice water on in my lap. Cold, it was cold, I used my napkin to soak up what I could, thank God it was only water, and had to change chairs, because the one I had was soaked. The hostess there told me to take the gown to the purser's desk, give them her name, and that she would have it cleaned. I did. Aside from that, Harry's is very nice, but unfortunately not my cup of tea. There were a lot of things they had that I simply can say I'll never acquire a taste for. The porterhouse is delicious. I can honestly say that. No, I'm not letting the bad start with the water cloud my judgement, they took care of that, but that just isn't for us. We changed, and did our evening casino run, this night, DH won quite a bit.
Grand Cayman- This is a beautiful port. We had booked the stingray, turtle farm, & hell excursion through Carnival. We got a tender, went ashore, waited quite a bit, and were walked quite a ways back to some buses. A couple of blocks walk at that. We went to Hell first, then to the turtle farm, and then took a boat ride out to the stingrays. I freaked out, I'm not gonna lie. DH loved it. About the time I got used to the idea of all of it, I got the better idea of taking pics from the boat. I did kiss one while they held it though, for me, that's a lot. After this, there was little time left to do much of anything being as how the last tender to the ship came at 4:15, and we were running late getting back. But, we did make it. We went to the grill & grabbed a burger, dh took his nap, I messed around the ship. Today they offered all of your laundry that you could fit into one bag to be cleaned, pressed & sent back to your cabin by 7 p.m. the next evening, so, DH put it all in a bag & set it outside the door to be picked up. Then we did the dinner & casino thing. Our routine........I miss it.
Costa Maya- This is the 2nd formal night of the trip. We had booked the dolphin encounter excursion here, and had to be at the pier by 11:30 a.m. We rode the trolley, met up with the excursion people. We took a 20-25 minute bus ride to Delphine on Uvero Beach. Gorgeous. You get off the bus, and you are told there are lockers, and 2 open bars. They collect your S&S card as a deposit on the lockers, you get it back when you turn in the key. We then went to a little video about the dolphins as well as instructions. Put lifejackets on & headed down to where they were. In one word........AWESOME!! I thoroughly enjoyed this, and would no hesitate doing it again. They won't let you take pics of the swim, they sell them to ya. They do a handshake, dolphin kiss, and take one of you holding him. You get done, turn your lifejackets in, and the pics are $20 a piece no discount if you buy more than one. We picked one. We did some shopping for souvenirs, ate, spent a little down time, had a drink, and took the bus back towards the pier. There are shuttles every 45min, to an hour leaving from here back to the pier. We did more shopping closer to the pier, and headed back to the ship for our 2nd formal night. DH took his nap, I watched sail away & piddled around. Got ready to get dress for formal night, and at 7:15 DH had no dress shirt, and the laundry had not been returned as advertised. We got ahold of the room steward and he told us they weren't done with it, that it would be ready tomorrow. I told him that wasn't gonna work, because DH need a dress shirt tonight. Bless this guy's heart, he ran down, and pressed the shirt himself, and brought it back to us so DH could get dressed for dinner. We still didn't get the rest of our clothes back until close to 11 the next morning. As soon as I saw the charge on our S&S (this charge didn't show up until Friday)I went downstairs to the purser's desk and told them that I was not going to pay $15.00 for a service they didn't deliver as they advertised. I explained to the young lady what had happened, and when we actually received our clothes back. I also explained that I would not have taken them up on that offer if I knew it was gonna be delayed the way it was. I can go to the self-serve laundry & wash a load for $2 and dry a load for $2 and save $11. We mainly decided to try it for the convenience. They did remove the charge from our bill. Had it only been an hour or 2 late, I would have understood,. but not the next day.
Fun Day At Sea We spent this day doing absolutely nothing. We packed but that's about it. Nothing much to say, that sums this day up completely. The weather was cooler, skys were gray and only in the high 60's. After a couple of days with 80 degrees plus, that makes ya wanna say brr.
DisEmbarkation- Ok, between 7 & 8 they start the self- assist, and they call it by decks. Trick is here, you take your own. You go off of deck 0 to get off of the ship. They want you out of the staterooms between 8 & 8:30. If you're not doing self-assist, you have to have your bags outside of the room no later than 10 the night before debarkation. They do disembarkation for those not doing self-assist by deck, and you are given luggage tags so you'll have the correct color for what deck you are on. They call by decks & colors. Main aft, or pink tags, etc. They do breakfast from 6-9 on the open deck (Lido deck), and they do Open Seating from 6:30-8:30 in the Silver Olympian Dining room. Our deck was called around 9:30. Line moved quickly, they did give us back our S&S cards, I have read that some ships don't. You're told as soon as you go out to have your passport/i.d. open so the immigration can see it and you don't have to pull it out. We did, went right on through, no problem.. Went down the escalator, a porter asked if we wanted help, of course we did, he got us right on down into the line for customs, and it was moving fairly quick, we were on the bus in less than 30 minutes after getting off the ship.
Other Quick Points- Liquor Distribution- They collect it when you come back from port, but get it back to your cabin the night before disembarkation Travelog- On Elation, we bought 1 travelog that covered every port & the happenings on the ship. On Liberty, the sell 3 dvds for 3 ports instead of everything all on one. They Want 22 or so for the dvd's or $60 for all 3. Thought this would be interesting to bring up, I know after cruising Elation, I thought they all came the same way..........guess not, we didn't buy them. Food, some times there was stuff I wouldn't want to try, my biggest thing was why would Emile's be closed when you come back from port? Everyone's gonna be hungry and all they have to choose from is the deli, the grill or room service. They all serve the same things every day, in my opinion they need to work on a solution to that one. Food was always good, we enjoyed everything. Pizza & Ice cream were good, Milkshake was good, got my money's worth I thought.