Sometime ago, my mother and I decided it would be a great experience to go on a family cruiseAs we live within 80 miles of Port Canaveral, we headed towards the port at 10am. Embarkation was a breeze, even being a family of newbies (with the exception of my parents who have cruised 4 & 5 times.) The port is beautiful & the security & staff were very pleasant & understanding. Should you be traveling into Orlando International Airport, prepare yourself for the opposite, as the security staff is NOT in any way polite or understanding of the stresses of travel. If memory serves, we arrived at Port Canaveral at 10:30am and were onboard by 11:30. Everyone was advised to go up to Deck 9 (Lido) to the Red Sail for lunch, buffet style. Obviously, during embarkation things feel VERY much congested, but after rooms are available, which was at 1:30pm, people moved to different areas of the ship.
@ 1:30pm we went straight to our room, Cabin 7834 and tried to get ourselves familiar with our close quarters for the next 7 days. We originally had planned to use the bunk above the couch for our 5 yr old and the couch for our 2 yr old, but immediately decided probably not a great idea, for safety concerns. All the announcements and Muster Drill advisories made our 5 yr old VERY VERY upset and our steward, Sherwin from Trinidad, did his best to calm him and us. Although the Muster Drill was NOT fun, we managed through it and went back to our rooms to find MOST of our luggage had been delivered. My parents had the balcony room next door and my grandmother, who was in a single room (only a handful on the ship) was located towards the front of the ship on deck 6. We asked Sherwin to remove the balcony partition, which proved to add a great deal of balcony space. As for the cabin itself, it is very small but has a great deal of storage space, thank goodness! Best part of the cabin: the Beds! So soft and comfortable, which says a great deal coming from a Sleep Number bed gal!
As we were planning on using Camp Carnival for our boys, we attended the Welcome Aboard Orientation in the Ebony Cabaret @ 5:30pm. It was somewhat thorough and helpful to get the Kids Capers (I do have a copy) and general info about the week ahead. Camp Carnival hours are varied and most times not at all convenient. A typical day on ship was 9am - noon/ closed from 12pm - 2pm/ open from 2 - 3:30pm (WHY!?)/ CLOSED until 7pm/ Open from 7pm-10pm (after 10pm babysitting service at Camp until 3am - 2 boys = $10/hr). Personally, I would have preferred they remain open more daytime hours and start the babysitting earlier (if it's a money making issue) and end around midnight. Who am I though?
Our first night & day at sea were okay, I suppose. Hubby and I had a massage, which was nice, followed by a money making scheme of product selling. Before I knew it I had spent nearly $500.00 for 2 massages, 1 manicure and a couple of useless products from the spa! Watch out, Carnival nickel & dimes you to death!!!! So, after our 1 hour of relaxation, we had to go pick up our kids from Camp. As I felt the 1 1/2 hours of Camp from 2-3:30 was a waste, we remained in our cabin for the next 7 hours, except to eat at Lido's Red Sail buffet.
By this time, I'm beginning to realize, this ship's food is well, NOT well. In fact, so far, it's BAAAD. We had reservations for the Supper Club that night though, so was willing to accept buffet food for what it was and hope for the best. If you are willing to pay an additional $30/person for dinner, you MUST MUST MUST go to the Emerald Supper Club! It was as good, if not better than some of my favorite 4 & 5 star restaurants at home! The filet is actually grilled (not so in the Dining rooms) the lobster tail was cooked perfectly... the food was Delicious!!! We wound up going back 1 more time after that. It should be said, that this pallet could only stomach these 2 meals. With the exception of the BLT & Roasted Turkey from Room service. Otherwise, I do not have to worry about the after cruise diet as I actually LOST weight!
Day 3 - Cozumel I had done a lot of Cruise Critic research and was looking for an excursion for ALL to enjoy. Rather than book through the ship, I decided to go to the all inclusive: Nachi Cocom. We had to pay a deposit through the website but paid the remainder upon arrival. The cost of the taxi was about $20 1-way. For $49.00/ adult & $15.00 for the 5 yr old, we were brought to our own chairs on the beach. Offered a 3 course meal, drinks all day & a lovely waiter named Joseph. It's a beautiful spot (don't let the entrance scare you), very clean and simply perfect! Also, they only allow up to 100 guests/ day! Unfortunately for us, the high temp was only to reach 68F and all water activities (through the resort) were cancelled due to bad weather & seas. We picked through seashells, drank Corona & had some of the best Guacamole ever! No swimming to speak of (as we are Floridians and were cold, cold, cold).
Day 4 - Belize City Only time we made plans to go on an excursion w/o our kids. Camp stays open until 5pm on port days. So, get this, our ship was 2 hours late getting into port due to an underwater earthquake! Not only were the seas rough due to weather but the ship had to slow to a crawl for safety reasons due to an earthquake! Anyways, we left the boys in Camp that day, while grandma stayed on ship, and headed to AltunHa & the Belize City tour through Carnival. It was definitely good for me to see the city and to get a better appreciation of just how good we Americans do have it, but as for spending time in the city... DO NOT GO INTO BELIZE CITY unless locked safely in a bus. After the city tour we headed about 45 minutes out of town to the ruins. Altun Ha is VERY cool! Approx. 8 temples/ buildings and 1 you can actually climb up to the top! It was a good and interesting day.
Day 4 - Roatan Island, Honduras Without a doubt, the most fantastic day! We went to the Coral Cay resort through Carnival. What a breathtaking and beautiful place Roatan is! My hubby walked to dock down to the reef to snorkel, the kids played in the water, of the food ordered I would have to say the breaded shrimp was the best. I have discovered a new favorite drink: Monkeylata (Baileys, Kaluha & OJ frozen) YUMMY! Tasted like a chocolate milkshake. The service was awesome and the people were so friendly. Based on our time there, I would definitely consider going back to the island to stay for a week... although the singer at the resort suggested to stay away from the mainland if at all possible. Apparently, what we witnessed in Belize was very much like the country of Honduras....
Day 5 - Another day at sea... much like the 1st. Couple hours of free time and then, stuck in our cabin. We did roam the boat some, but due to the bad weather we couldn't go swimming in the pools on board. The upper decks (mini golf and scenic views) were closed a lot of times due to Strong Winds and bad weather. Can't do much about the weather, but it would have made for a totally different experience had the Caribbean been more like the Caribbean weather-wise. As for the boat, itself, there is not much else to do but gamble, drink, drink, gamble, & spend money. Every single show, Camp activity, shop & onboard experience had some kind of catch. Sell, Sell, Sell! Which seems unfair to the crew as far as I'm concerned. If I were them, I'd much rather give people things to do so as to earn better tips rather than force them into spending money on corporate crap because they are so bored....
So, here's where I'll talk about the Ship's Crew. WOW! What an amazing group of people they have working on the Glory! Every single person from housekeeping to bartender to Manicurist was simply lovely and so personable! Sherwin remembered our boys' names after day 1! Nearly every crew member stopped to smile and speak to our children! They were w/o a doubt some of the most humble and sweet people I've ever met in my life and they were from all over the world! The sacrifices those people make to make our lives more comfortable is amazing! Kudos & much much appreciation to the entire Glory Crew!!!!
Day 6 - Freeport Not much to look at once you pull into port... industrial Ship Yard. We decided not to book anything and take a taxi ($10/person round trip) to Port Lucaya, which was nice I suppose. Lots of shops and bars. Again, chilly & windy weather didn't allow for swimming really. So, we wondered around, went back to the shop 2 hours later and were VERY anxious to pack our things and head home.
THIS WAS THE WORST NIGHT AT SEA! I actually got sick for the 1st time on our way into Port Canaveral.... We HAD to take motion sickness meds everyday even though none of us had ever had it before. You should know, my husband and I go out on boats fishing the intercoastal & off the FL coast and I've never been sick (nor has he). We were not blessed with good weather EVER on this trip... no one's fault but be prepared for it. Apparently, the Eastern cruise scheduled for the week prior to ours only made it to 2 ports due to a hurricane. I realize we scheduled during the final days of hurricane season, but I was born and raised in FL and late season storms truly are a rarity. Oh well.
Day 7 - HOME (FINALLY) Getting off the ship was nothing short of AWFUL. Our boys really tried to hold it together. We were in port at 7am, they began calling by deck (self assist luggage) & luggage numbers (issued w/ luggage tags) at 7:30am, by 9:30am they had called through number 7 (we were 9 - my grandmother was 25!) So, needless to say, my 2 yr old pitched such a fit (thankfully) that a very lovely crew member actually escorted us off the boat! Thank you, thank you, thank you! What a relief it was to get our luggage! Once off the boat, things moved very smoothly (as they had during embarkation) through the port & customs. What a surprise to get back to the garage & find our car battery was dead, but thankfully jumped by the parking garage attendant!
NOW - 2 days later We are all still very queasy and suffering from motion sickness. My 5 yr old has something viral and was taken to the doctor this morning with a fever of 103. The kids don't want to sleep in their own rooms (having slept in the cabin with Mommy & Daddy for 7 nights). We are adjusting and hoping that one day soon, the wobbling will quit and the fond memories will surpass the pretty disappointing ones.