Our trip into NYC was very uneventful. Once George and I reached the pier, we boarded the vessel in record time. We found the embarkation process to be a lot easier than past cruises. It was even better than the cruise we took out of NYC on board the Carnival Victory in June, 2008! Once on board, we located our stateroom, and went upstairs to the buffet on the Lido Deck to get lunch. There was so much to choose from! We couldn't decide what we wanted to eat first.
The life jacket drill wasn't as painful as usual. Well, the drill is more painful for those of us who don't think orange goes with our ensemble. Anyway, we had it in The Phantom Lounge, where all the Vegas / Broadway styled shows took place. BINGO, The Not So Newlywed Game, and other activities also take place inside the lounge. It's really big, and can seat a lot of people. You don't get that cramped feeling in that lounge the way you do at other spectator events.
I had joined the Carnival Forum's "Role Call For September 6, 2008" and had met some very nice people through the forum. This one couple I e-mailed were first time cruisers, and we kept an eye out for them while we were in the buffet area. We didn't meet them until our first full day at sea. They were both from NYC and had taken the subway that let them off a couple of blocks from the pier. They were both really nice, and we enjoyed talking with them.
We spent a lot of time in the gift shop. George wanted to buy some bottles of Drambuie and Grand Mariner. He even bought a 4 1/2 Liter of Johnny Walker Black to bring home. We had already brought one home from our cruise on board the Carnival Victory in June. We figured we'd buy another one to put on the coffee table. We packed light, so we could fit our 10 Liters in our suitcases, as well as the cartons of cigarettes George's mom wanted us to get for her.
We had a lot of fun shopping and attending the champagne art auctions hosted by Park West Art Galleries at Sea. We enjoyed this one painting by Alexander Chen, called "South Beach in Miami, Florida" or something like that. We became instant fans of his work. He really knew how to bring out the colors and painted in great detail!
A few other people we met were just as friendly as the first time cruising couple. We met this mother and daughter who were cruising for the first time as well. I can't remember where they're from, but they really enjoyed the champagne art auction. Neither of them drank the champagne though.
Our first Port of Call was San Juan, PR. We had been there twice before, and both times we had done something different. For the third time, we wanted to take a tour of the city. We were always told to beware of taking independent tours, however, we hadn't run into any problems as of yet. "Knock on wood." Anyway, this one guy approached us as we walked about a hundred feet away from the terminal. He hooked us up with this really cool taxi driver, who took us around Old San Juan. We even went into the capitol building and saw one of the forts. By the time we got back to the ship, we were tired, and we weren't in the mood for dressing up for dinner. Instead, we ate at the buffet, and then went to one of the revue shows.
It was great! Those shows they have on board are tops! George, who doesn't like to go to the theater, has to BEG me to go to see the shows. Of course, since we were right on the upper level of the theater, all we had to do was walk down the hall and into the upper part of the lounge, or the "cheap seats," our cruise director would call them.
For dinner, we were seated with this other couple. However, they decided not to sit with us the second night, and we ended up eating by ourselves until the last night on board, when this other couple, a different couple, joined us. They seemed really nice. We were really bummed that we couldn't have sat with them earlier.
During the cruise, there's a color war. Those who are seated at an odd numbered table are blue, and the evens are red. Throughout the cruise, there's a lot of competition between the colors. The Not So Newlywed Game, The Hairy Chest Competition, and BINGO are a few of the ways that cruisers can score points for their team. Many people forget where they're seated in the dining room, but when the cruise director looks at their room key, they can tell which table the person is sitting at, and therefore, which team gets the points.
Our second port of call was St. Thomas, U.S.V.I. We ended up going to Cokie Point, for our beach day, instead of our usual trip to Magen's Bay. We had a great time, however, we missed being in Magen's Bay. When we go in September, we're going back to Magen's Bay.
Our last stop was Tortola, B.V.I., because Grand Turk had been flooded from a previous hurricane. We liked Tortola, since we had been there once before. However, it was TOO hot, and we ended up just walking a little ways into town. Once we got back on the ship, George had to jump in the shower. The humidity had really gotten to him.
As we began our cruise back to NYC, we reflected on the best parts of the cruise. We enjoyed the galley tour, where we were able to see the food being prepared for the Midnight Gala Buffet. Also, we were treated like royalty in the dining room, and were very pleased to have our head waiter and assistant waiter as our servers. Their service in the dining room was prompt, professional, and terrific! We'd definitely cruise on board the Miracle again!