Since I live 2 hours from either Jackson, MS or Memphis, TN - I booked an early Monday flight out of Memphis and also booked a $40 Priceline room at the airport Radisson. Not a bad deal on a decent room AND I learned they don't record guests car info (so I could feasibly leave my car there for the duration of my cruise instead of paying for airport parking). The bar/grille was decent so I watched Sunday night football over a bite to eat and a cocktail.
Monday, Dec 3rd (Embarkation):
Hotel Shuttle to the airport at 7:30am seamless check-in (I opted to take Northwest Airlines' optional $90 upgrade to 1st class at check-in the night before so I skipped in front of security at Memphis airport). Arrived at Miami at 12:30 and retrieved my bags. My friend Paul was flying in from Cleveland, so I awaited his call saying he arrived. On other cruises I usually purchased the Transportation provided by Carnival from the airport to the cruise port but when traveling with 2 or more people it is easier and cheaper to take the $24 flat rate taxi. Arrived at the cruise port around 1:20pm and stepped into a medium-sized line. It moved rather fast (even though some one should have told me they abolished the Funpass for Miami - I wasted my time filling out the docs...)
We got onboard the ship by 1:45 and had a cocktail in our hands from the Lido bar by 1:50! The ship looked great with its new fitments and feel. There was no deli, but the pizza was good as usual. Found our cabin steward Clarence and slipped him $20 to ensure complete service during the cruise. Our bags were delivered by 3:30 and we were unpacked and ready for dinner by 4:00pm. We chose to eat at the Lido deck on Monday and the food was as good as could be expected from a grille aboard a cruise ship. Watched the breath-taking sunset from the Hot Tub on the Serenity adults-only area. Monday night we hit the Karaoke in the Lounge at the far aft of the ship. The host was friendly enough, albeit brand new at his job (the Carnival Corporate Trainer was onboard to assist him in learning). Interesting crowd, decent singers, and I learned about the upcoming "Carnival Legends" auditions in the coming nights. Pizza after Karaoke (De Chevre pizza - Garlic, Mushrooms, sausage and goat cheese YUMMY!) Then to the club for dancing. Good crowd, but I must say the DJ was annoying as he would play a very popular song for about 45 seconds then mix it with another one... Just when you get into the rhythm, poof it is gone. This happened every night! The only exception he made was when he was playing 'crew-songs' (music picked by the crew and they were the only ones dancing, Reggaeton, salsa, etc.) To bed at 4:30am or so.
Tuesday, Dec 4th (Day at Sea):
Up at 6am, grabbed our 2 towels and the 2 'reading novels' I brought and staked out our prime poolside chairs, draped the towels and strategically placed the books. Back to bed until Noon-ish then ate lunch at the Lido grill. Chairs we undisturbed so we kicked back by the pool most of the afternoon. Men's hairy chest contest and several Red-Blue team competitions ensued during the day. We had no idea what Red or Blue meant because we didn't attend first dinner but your team is designated by the color of your table number card at dinner. Funny they would do that, as many people habitually skip that meal. Tonight is formal night and my tux that I sent out to be pressed arrived at 5:00pm (Dinner was the 5:45 sitting). Dinner was incredibly good (and I am usually luke-warm in my reviews of food). I ordered the Lobster (yes it was small as has been said here before, but very good) and shrimp and also wanted to try the roast duck so our waiter brought that as well. The service all week was surprisingly impeccable and friendly. Karaoke again at night and Melvin the host didn't seem to know how to arrange the rotation in their system. I do not care for their new computerized system as it allows people to preload their own songs and no human interaction is involved in scrutinizing singers (multiple names for one person). Club that night was intense - even though the DJ cut off most of the songs again... A lot of single people there. The crew was there in their formal attire as well (sometimes getting too cozy with the female passengers I noticed). In bed at 4.
Wednesday, Dec 5th (Grand Turk):
Up at 10, breakfast on the Lido then off to the island. We purposely didn't book an excursion, as the cruise port has a Margaritaville with a swim-up bar. WHAT A BLAST!!! The DJ hosted games, the music flowed well, even if the drinks were ridiculously expensive (1 Corona and 1 Jack Daniels and Diet = $16 plus tip). Spent a lot but had a lot of fun. Wish there weren't a ton of kids... It could have been a lot more fun. Back on the ship at 2:30pm for a power-nap then dinner at the Lido (too drunk to change into slacks...) Karaoke again and try-outs for the Garth Brooks character of Carnival Legends... I won! They gave me an MP3 player with the song on it to practice for the show that will be on Friday night. Club later and same DJ same issue but no crew this time (thankfully). In bed at 3:30
Thursday, Dec 6th (Half Moon Cay):
Up at 11 and onto the tenders to the island. I have always loved this part of the cruise (private islands). Half Moon Cay is a lovely island with powder-sand beaches. We simply grabbed 4 chairs (with the girls from the club the night before) and did a beach day. Swam a lot, jumped on the inflatable trampoline, and ate lunch (decent food for an outdoor mass-produced BBQ). Back to the ship at 4:30 to watch the sunset from the hot tub again at Serenity then dinner at 5:45 and it was exceptional again! I had Sushi for the appetizer, crisp salad, Grouper with a second plate of Veal on the side (I can never choose!) Wine with dinner was a nice Riesling Spat lese (both nights). Karaoke again then the club... Same DJ Same issue...
Friday, Dec 7th (Nassau):
We were upset when we tried to book our Nassau excursion online and the Yellow Bird Party Boat was not offered... Imagine my surprise when they offered it to us with an adjusted time for our departure to fit the ships schedule. $45 per person all you can eat rum punch and a calypso band on board. About an hour boat ride to the private beach with rum flowing the whole way, bar closes while you are on the beach but music is playing and a cash bar is there. The hour ride back was a debaucherous adventure... The reason we booked the excursion! WAY drunk people dancing and losing articles of clothing from time to time. I do not recommend this excursion for younger children for that reason. Senior Frogs for drinks then onto the ship at 4:45. Carnival Legends rehearsal... went smoothly... Show that night was a hit... Hungover for most of it but was given a free DVD and cast photo for my performance... To bed after show... After we packed and placed our checked baggage outside the room.
Saturday, Dec 8th (Debarkation):
Up at 7 for formal breakfast... showered, then left the ship at about 9:30 in Zone 10. Easy Debarkation until I received my bags. BOTH of my bags were damaged heavily! I mean not just a scrape here and there but really tore up. Cab back to the airport ($24 again, except the cab driver made US pay the $2 to leave the cruise port). Flight delayed from 2 to 7:50pm (so far - that is where I am sending this from... Miami airport!
All in all a very fun cruise! The ship was amazing... we loved the serenity area (actual Hot Tubs instead of cool-tubs in the general area). Great job on this ship carnival... crew was very attentive!