Me & 9 of my girlfriends, one being my Aunt, took this cruise for my 30th birthday. What a way to celebrate a birthday! Out of the 10 of us, only 1 had been on a cruise before, so you can imagine how excited all of us were. Our ages were from 25-34 and then my Aunt who is approx. 50 (it's not nice to share a woman's age!) 8 of us came from Dallas/Ft. Worth and the other 2 came from Richmond, VA. The 2 coming from Richmond came early and stayed with a relative in Orlando who brought them to port. They had no problems with embarkation. The other eight, including myself, ran into some horrible winter weather in Dallas the night before we were to fly out and rumors of cancelled flights the next morning were going around. So as I'm in a nail salon with my aunt and another girlfriend of mine getting manis and pedis about 6pm, I decided to call the airline (American) and see if there was any way we could get out that evening. There was no way we were going to miss our boat! After alot of confusion and holding on the line, we were all moved to the last flight out that evening. Bad news was that it left in less than 2 hours! Most of us hadn't packed a thing, hadn't showered, hadn't eaten dinner, anything! But after some frantic phone calls all 8 of us managed to get to the airport in time...and our plane was delayed! So all that rushing for nothing. But hey, we were there and that's all that mattered. We went directly to the airport bar and started the party with some drinks. Long story short, our flight was delayed 3 hours, 2 of those we spent on the actual plane. As you could guess, everyone on the plane was getting restless and we were beginning to wonder if we were going to make it out at all because it was icing and sleeting outside by this time. Luckily, we finally took off and landed in Orlando around 3am. Took taxis to a nearby hotel that one of my girlfriends reserved and we slept for about 3-4 hours. Woke up, showered and then had our shuttle service I had arranged to pick us up from the airport come and get us at the hotel instead no problem. By 10am we were in route to port! We were tired but still excited.
When we arrived at port, we checked our luggage in and got in line. The line moved very quickly and we were in and had our sail & sign cards in about 30 minutes. We then posed for our 1st of many photos and found our other 2 friends onboard. We headed to the Lido deck for the lunch buffet and the food was good, but nothing too spectacular. The ship was clean and pretty easy to navigate around. The pool was pretty small and we never even got in it. We went to our rooms to rest for a bit and my girlfriends surprised me with a completely decorated room with 2 birthday cakes, a wine cheese & fruit basket, and all kinds of goodies! We all had oceanview rooms on the Empress deck. The room was small, but well laid out and had plenty of room for all our luggage and things. The beds were extremely comfortable and we all slept very well in them. We rested for a bit and then headed up for the sail away party. It was cool and windy, but it was still a great time and sailing away from port was really incredible. We danced to the music played by the band, had some drinks and took lots of pictures. Then one of my girlfriends got the wild idea for me to get 30 birthday spankings, 1 each from a different guy. With 10 girls roaming around Lido soliciting spankings, it was quite the spectacle! Needless to say, there was no shortage of willing participants and my booty was in severe pain by the end. But it did make for some great pictures! That night we had dinner (8:30 late seating in Imagination) at a table for 10. We brought the birthday cakes with us and gave them to our waiter to save for dessert. Dinner was fabulous and the service was great. When they brought the cake along with ice cream for dessert, a group of waiters came to our table and serenaded me. It had everyone's attention around us and everybody was clapping. Luckily, I got used to this happening because it definitely wasn't the last time! After dinner we went to the show and wound up leaving halfway through because the boat was really rocking and some of my friends were sick, and also because the show was quite boring. We decided to go to the nightclub for some dancing, which we did well into the night.
Day 2 Freeport, Nassau - We had breakfast at the buffet and it was pretty good. Our group decided to split up this day because we wanted to do different things. Getting off and on the boat was a breeze. Myself and 3 others took a taxi to the Westin Hotel and paid $10 for a day pass. This gave us access to the pool, pool bar and beach area. We headed to the beach and had a waitress bringing us delicious frozen drinks. We went into the water, but it was really rough and there was sea weed and things in the water so we decided to move up to the pool area. They had the most incredible infinity pool with a swim up bar. It was beautiful. We had some more drinks and ran into some people from our ship. It was definitely a great idea to come to the Westin. It was very nice and relaxing. The other 6 girls stayed on the ship and took advantage of the topless deck. From what I heard, they had quite an exciting day and met a really nice cocktail waiter named Paul who took very good care of them. The night before, we got our capers and spa specials were listed for Freeport day and a friend and I decided to call and book a port special for a couples full body massage and facial. We were in the same room and it was very relaxing. I believe it was around $90 and it was VERY worth it. That night was formal night and the Captain's cocktail party. We had late seating dinner at 8:30 so we decided to get ready and go to the cocktail party at 8 to enjoy drinks before dinner. Well we went to the theater and the cruise director told us the party had just ended and we were too late, even for just one drink. We begged and begged stating we never heard an ending time and assumed it would go on until our dining time. He refused to let us in and turned us away. We were pretty bummed and it would have been nice to know beforehand. All we were ever told was when the party started, not when it ended. So we headed to the dining room and enjoyed our formal dinner. Most of us had 2 lobsters and I requested mashed potatoes which were fabulous and I ordered them every night after that. After dinner we went to the Jekyll & Hyde nightclub for some dancing and had a blast.
Day 3 Nassau, Bahamas - We had breakfast at the buffet and then got off the ship and did some shopping. They have a fabulous straw market in Nassau with incredible deals and we all had a great time shopping. We then went back to the boat to drop off our bags and change into our swimsuits and headed to the Atlantis. This place is basically like a Vegas resort, walking through it felt like being back in Vegas. We went down to the public beach at the Atlantis and paid $5 each for a chair. Two guys pulled them all together for us and then we found a woman selling drinks in coconuts. Of course we had to have one. The drinks weren't that great, but they were strong and heck they were in a freakin' coconut! We took lots of beautiful pictures, then decided to go to a place we had heard about called the Green Parrot. It was a bar on the water that we had to take a taxi to. The place was pretty dead when we got there and the bartenders were ecstatic to see 10 women walk in. We got 10 barstools at the bar and the drinks started pouring. The bartenders were really nice and so were the other people there and we had a blast. After a couple hours, we were getting worn down and decided to head back to the ship. When we got back to port, a friend realized she had left her purse at the Green Parrot or in the cab and a huge fiasco began. But I guess having only one fiasco on a vacation with 10 girls is pretty darn good. The security at the port were very helpful and we were able to track the cab down, but no luck he did not have the purse. 2 girls took a taxi back to the Green Parrot to search for her purse, but no luck there either. Unfortunately she had her sail & sign card, drivers license and credit card along with cash in her purse so all of that was lost. Even though she was hysterical, we were able to talk security into letting her on the boat without ID and Carnival handled the situation from there by issuing her another sail & sign card. Luckily she had an extra drivers license in the safe in her room and she was able to call and cancel her credit card. So crisis averted. With all the drama, we missed our dining time and decided to eat at the buffet. There was practically no one there and again the food was ok. We retired to our rooms to rest a bit and shower and then a group of us left the boat to go into Nassau for a little dancing. Some locals had told us about some nightclubs near the port and we had a great time dancing. I can't remember the name of the clubs, but we went to 2 different ones plus made a stop at Margaritaville. Luckily our ship was docked overnight, so we were able to enjoy the Nassau nightlife! The last group finally came back onboard about 3am and never once felt unsafe.
Day 4 Fun Day at Sea - A couple girls decided to get some spa treatments and the rest of us enjoyed a day by the pool. My Aunt, in particular, was at the spa daily and had multiple treatments. She spent about $700 in spa treatments alone! They knew her by name, of course, and she really enjoyed the spa. We went to the topless deck and again Paul was our waiter. He was great and very personable. We would yell out "PAAAAAUUUUULLL" and he would come running to cater to our every need. He was a complete doll. I don't think anyone knew about the topless deck because hardly anyone was up there, and you'd think it would be more crowded! We practically had the entire deck to ourselves and enjoyed every minute of it. That night we enjoyed our final dinner in the dining room and it was again wonderful. The chocolate melting cake was fabulous. After dinner we went to the karaoke in the Cole Porter Club. We signed up for quite a few songs and were there for over an hour and a half and never once did any of our names get called. Instead there was some pretty horrendous singers we had to endure and finally we decided to bail and go to the piano bar instead. The guy playing piano was hilarious and could sing just about anything we requested. We even did some duets with him and sang the girl part. It was so much fun. After that, most of us retired for the evening because we were so tired from the night before and just from the cruise in general. A few others did some more dancing at Jekyll and Hyde nightclub.
Final Day - We decided to do the self assist so we packed up that morning and had breakfast at the buffet. We were on the Empress deck so our hallway turned into a ridiculous line of people trying to get off the boat. The doors at the end of the hall were closed, but once they were opened, the line moved fast. We were off the boat, through customs, with our luggage in no time. We took the shuttle I had arranged back to the airport and had no problems.
Overall the cruise was everything we expected it to be, especially for our first cruise. There weren't too many kids at all, the food was good and plentiful, the rooms were small, the entertainment lacking, but with 10 girls it's pretty much guaranteed to be fun. I did have a fabulous birthday - one that will be very hard to top. My DH and I are now planning to cruise in May just the 2 of us. This cruise will be his first and we are really excited. We will be cruising the Carnival Conquest and I look forward to seeing the differences between the ships.