I am signed up for a CC group cruse on the Liberty next July … but I thought I should try out a short cruise just to make sure I'd actually enjoy the cruise ship vacation experience (understanding the two will be very different, but gives me a lil sample is all).
I booked this solo trip a bit last minute, for a nice relaxing birthday weekend. I got exactly that. I booked a 1A guarantee, and ended up in R30 (4A).
Carnival Ground Transportation
I arrived at MCO around 1pm. Waited around for a bit, (I don't wear a watch so can't tell you exactly how long), and eventually boarded the shuttle bus with a dozen or so other people. Traveling alone, taking the shuttle vs renting a car was about the same price. On board we took care of all our paperwork, and started check-in. As we approached the cruise port, the driver cranked up the party music. I could have used a frou-frou drink about then. (oh wait, I don't like those!). Anyway, cheesy but it puts ya in vacation mode.
There was a bit of a line to get through the security. Seemed odd to me that they only used one machine to x-ray carry-ons and filter everyone through. After that it was upstairs to see one of the Carnival Reps from the bus ride and collect my stateroom key & sail & sign card. That was a bonus moment since I expected the whole check in to take a bit longer.
Say "cheese" for the SS picture, walk across and wow. Here I am in the Atrium of the Sensation. I was expecting some purple barney in a blender explosion. I liked it. It's a warm purple. I guess it helped that that particular shade is one of my favorite colors. Not sure what exactly I was really expecting, but I remember thinking, "what's all the fuss?" Remember y'all had warned that it's a lot of purple, so I was prepared for A LOT.
Day 1 How cool! We're on our way!
And the rest of day 1 is really just a blur, I spent most of the time still exploring everything, learning my way around, and finding the various bars (hey a girl needs a coke now n then). I grabbed my copy of the Capers and started to see what I might like to do that evening.
Just a few hours into my vacation and a couple lessons learned. Next time bring something warmer than a light sweater, also bring a watch.
I had requested the 8pm dinner seating, but ended up with 8:30pm. I could have changed it, but enjoyed the company of my tablemates. This first day happen to be my Birthday! (You're not too late to send gifts). And yes, my dessert came with a candle and a birthday song.
Oh geeze! I completely forgot to mention the food in the dining room & staff! Hmmm. Maitre d' Omur was very personable, he stopped by and visited us each night. Our head waiter was Francisco and his assistant Edy. All took excellent care of us. The food through out my dining room experiences was mostly good. The final night being a bit iffy for most at my table.
Tonight's main show was Far from Over. Loved it! But then again, I was quite the 80's gal. I wanted to see the midnight show, but it had been a long day of traveling and I just couldn't stay awake. If I wasn't in age denial, I might be inclined to say I must be getting old. But we'll just stick with it was a long day traveling.
I LOVED having such a dark room to sleep in. I even put something over the door peep-hole and put a towel against the bottom of the door to block out the hallway light. The ship rocked me gently to sleep and I was a happy little Q.
Okay, so maybe it wasn't all that gently. The first night the ship was rolling a bit from side to side. We felt it a lot more than I expected. A few people seemed a bit unsteady. Day 2 - Nassau Last night I fell asleep watching the shopping talk on the TV. There was some good information in it, but I was glad I didn't take up time actually attending it.
I'm not much into doing touristy things, and really enjoy walking the streets (not in THAT way), and absorbing all the sites & sounds of every new place I visit. I had printed off the Frommer's walking tour and set out. I am directionally challenged, so I got a bit more of a scenic tour than others who have done this tour may have gotten. I walked n walked my little flowered crocs off. (Which I did not wear into the dining room, you may be happy to hear). Oddly, one of my most memorable moments was lunch (not on the ship).
By now its 3pm and I gots me some shopping to do (I'm a retailer … shopping is a bit of a sport for me). I really didn't care for the haggling that you have to go through to get a real price at the jewelry stores I went into. I'm used to haggling at open air markets, not in places with safes and real doors. Now I may not have cared for it, but I still did it.
Ok. It's 5 now and I've walked my little crocs completely off. So I grab an ice cold beer from a shop, and sit drinking it out of a paper bag, listening to the guy near the moped rentals playing Amazing Grace. Hmmm, before I grow roots to this bench, I best get back to the ship and take a shower.
Whew! Cleaned up now, it's time to head back out to Senor Frogs. I did say I didn't like touristy stuff, right? Well I had to go just to say I've been. Had an overpriced drink, and then headed on to Atlantis for just a bit. I don't gamble so I walked around a bit, saw a bit of the aquarium, and then headed back to the ship. It's formal night after all and I packed a dang dress, so I'm gonna wear it.
I missed the Captains Cocktail party. I wasn't ready in time. No watch remember. I heard it was quite nice.
So I am running a bit late, and head to the dining room ready to apologize to my tablemates for my late arrival. There's no one there. So here I am ….. sitting all alone ….. at a table for 10. Everyone else showed up eventually.
The show tonight was comedienne Tia Thompson, and a juggler. (Not together, separate). Tia was OK; the three guys she pulled up from the audience were hilarious. I liked her R-Rated show the next night better. The juggler was good I guess, just not my kinda thing.
OK. Time to get out of these heels. A quick change then back out on deck to check out the deck party and all the festivities up there. I was a bit surprised at how few people were still out n about. It wasn't even 1am. Headed to one of the bars and had a margarita (or two) on the rocks with salt
1am, things seem to be winding down, so I'm heading to bed.
Day 3 - Fun day at Sea … weeeeee I was sound asleep when we left Nassau. Hmmm. I just realized I've not written anything about Breakfast or Lunch on the ship. I had breakfast at the lido buffet one morning. It was alright. I'm not a big fan of buffets, so we'll leave it at that. On this day, I had a few leisurely cups of coffee on deck and lounged about the pools. (Plenty of chairs available everywhere). As soon as the deli opened I ordered a bagel with lox and a shmear. Or as it says on the menu, Bagel, Smoked Salmon, Cream Cheese (hold the onion please). Now that's breakfast. Yes, I could have ordered this off of room service, but I was hesitant to order room service for breakfast because that would commit me to a waking up time. I preferred spending today around the aft pool. It was a bit less chaotic than the main pool. To me the daytime activities were a bit cheesy so it was my choice to avoid them. I think I tried the pizza for lunch. It was ok, but I wasn't over the moon for it. I think it's a better choice at 1am. : ) the soft serve ice cream … that's ice milk, right? It was a bit grainy and not much flavor. Bummer for sure.
I'd missed a couple activities I did want to do today so around mid-day I finally got the idea to start setting the alarm on my cell phone. Wish I would have thought about that on Day 1.
Midday I caught the Newlywed Not so Newlywed show. What can I say, it was cute and it kept my sunburned nose in the shade.
Now what? Pictures. I'd really wanted one of the pictures I took while in Nassau. I couldn't find it to save my soul. Bummer. I never realized how hard it would be to pick myself out of a sea of photos. I mean I thought that my eye would instantly be drawn to myself. Nope.
OK. Casino time! Me and my $20, head on in there. I'm prepared for smoke to be billowing out of the casino. Nah. Yes it was noticeable when I first walked in, but once I got away from the tables, it was not much worse than any other place that allows smoking. Cigarette smoke and I don't get along, makes me wheeze. I won $20 on the quarter machines (spent $2), and oddly $20 on the penny machine (maybe it was a 2 cent machine I don't know). In between I played roulette, dollar machines, and more quarter & penny machines. Walked away with more than I walked in with, so all was well. I like the penny machines because they make so much noise … all for winning 37 cents. Nap time.
Time to get ready for dinner. Listened to the debarkation talk on the TV while getting ready. Good information, but again glad I didn't spend time sitting through it. Decisions Decisions, pack now, or wait till after dinner. I waited.
After dinner, I rushed back to my stateroom to get my suitcase packed. I always felt rushed to finish dinner if I wanted to make the start of the late shows. I'd probably try for an 8pm seating next time. I got my suitcase all packed up except for the few things I needed the next morning, and set it outside my door. Rushed upstairs to the Fantasia Lounge to catch the evening show, Curves.
This show was really just great. The costumes were again great, the dancers good and entertaining. I really liked it. It was at this show I learned I could order a double sized drink. All this time I'd been drinking itty bitty rum n cokes. Sure it was ten bucks. But it was better than the little sippy cup sized drinks. Shortly after this show was Tia's Adult comedy show. Pretty sparse crowd, but oh my gosh, I laughed so hard. It was a nice way to end the evening. It was going to be an early morning, so I turned in for the night shortly afterwards.
Debarkation I was in group 9. I took my time waking up and gathering up everything, exiting my room at about 7:30am. Enjoyed a nice breakfast in the dining room … I would have thought there would have been way more people dining in here on the last morning. Shortly after I was done with breakfast my group was called so I headed down and out. This went fairly quickly. When it came time to find my luggage way too many people commented on how light I must pack because my suitcase was so small. Not sure what was up with that.
Showed my passport, handed over my customs form and BSQ has exited the building, it's barely 8:30 am. Walked across the lot to the ground transportation area, and waited for Hertz to come get me.
Hertz: Loved these folks near the cruise port, not so much at the airport. I had booked using the #1 Gold whatever member rate, and they included a GPS system at no charge to me. My first stop was Kennedy Space Center at just past 9am. Let me just say, if you have the time, this is very much worth a stop. I loved loved loved this part of my vacation. With a launch later this week, I was fortunate enough to be able to get pictures of Atlantis on the launch pad. Everything about the space center was just beyond cool. I wore myself out and was getting cold. Reluctantly I left at 5pm … still having things I would have liked to have seen and done.
Off to Orlando Airport for my 8pm flight.
Some random afterthoughts …
• everyone dressed fairly casual for dinner (and daytime as well) • I should have brought a pair of jeans except CC members put the fear of God in me for even thinking about it. • Formal night had a full array of attire • it wasn't chilly on the ship, I found it downright cold (course while I was freezing I saw an other lady in a tank top fanning herself • the inside rooms aren't that dark, light comes in under the door which makes it easy to find the bathroom • a power strip with multi outlets really would have been helpful. I had to chose between powering my cellphone or my ipod on the last night. • stick your key in the door and leave it in, then turn door handle to open (it says this on the key, but of course I didn't read it and wondered why I couldn't open my door). • I had no need to bring anything to hold the shower curtain in place. It stayed put. (I was expecting it to be flying all over) • I only heard one person yell "freeeebirrrrrrd" during one of the shows • around the grills on the lido deck, it's OK to leave your plates on the tables when you are done eating. (I kept looking for someplace to store them). • alcoholic drinks are really small • there was something like 2050 passengers on board during this sailing. Only seemed like that many when it was time to get off the ship in Nassau • The singing by the waiters isn't that bad ... though I could do without the dancing night • coming from a very directionally challenged person, getting around the ship was pretty easy