Background: I'm a single female, mid-50s; DD just (finally) finished college, age 23. This was my 11th cruise, 10th on Carnival, making this my first as a Platinum cruiser. DD will be Platinum on her next. I sailed the Triumph's Cruise-to-Nowhere in October, solo, specifically so I'd be Platinum, as our embarkation in Port Everglades two years ago was not very pleasant at all.
Two days after returning from our fantastic, exhausting cruise last May on Victory, I lost my job. I debated for the next couple of months whether to cancel this Miracle cruise or go ahead and make final payment. Although I have little savings and the job prospects aren't good, I just knew that if I cancelled, I'd end up with a job at the last minute and either wouldn't be able to rebook, or would be able to sail but would lose the aft cabin I'd booked 14 months ago. I discovered Cruise Critic a few months before we sailed Miracle on 12/17/07. Our roll call from that cruise is still going. At some point, we started talking about sailing her together again. This became our Lime Gang Reunion cruise, since we had all worn lime-green leis at our Meet & Greet on that cruise. Unfortunately, we ended up with just one couple from that cruise being able to make this one.
Although I didn't find a "real" job, I do have a temporary position lined up for mid-January through mid-April, so I don't feel quite so guilty about going ahead with my cruise. I really, really wanted to do this since I plan on relocating this summer and don't know that I'll ever have the opportunity to take another vacation like this with my daughter. It's been just the two of us since she was three years old, so this was important to me. Of course, after I'd made final payment, a couple of crises occurred, and I was "this close" to having to cancel and lose my deposit or worse. The last crisis happened the Wednesday before we were to sail, which would've meant I'd lose every dime. Thankfully, all crises were averted. It was very stressful, though, and I began to think that I really wasn't meant to take this cruise. I think it was appropriate that we were sailing on the Miracle, because I was felling like that is what it would take to actually pull this off. I wasn't going to believe it was really happening until I was actually standing on the deck.
Sunday, 12/13, Durham to Fort Lauderdale
I booked the 1:50 nonstop flight on Southwest Airlines from RDU to FLL. I had booked an airport taxi online for 11:30 pickup. I'd taken the dog to the vets to board on Saturday, so just had some last-minute packing to do (you know the stuff - making sure all my little bottles of liquids were actually in a zip bag, making sure we had cross-packed two checked bags and had sleepwear, swimwear, undies, etc. in the small roll-on case). The weather was in the 40s and rainy, and generally unpleasant. I was looking forward to getting to southern Florida, even though we'd had some glorious late fall weather here. But not this day! Got to the airport in plenty of time and got some lunch. Flight was uneventful and on time.
We went to the baggage claim and I went to the phones to call the Hyatt Place for pickup. Although luggage was already on the belt, I was told she couldn't send the driver until I had the bags and was ready to go to the pickup point. So, about three minutes later, I called again and said we were ready. I was told to exit the terminal and go past the end of the building all the way down to a sign that said "off airport hotels" or something similar. So off we went, wearing our cold-weather clothing, dragging our bags down the sidewalk. Of course, the couple of benches were occupied, so we stood there for a bit, feeling rather warm and uncomfortable. I looked back toward the terminal, and there was the little Hyatt Place shuttle, sitting right in front of the door to the terminal. So, I left DD with the bags, and I walked back to the bus and asked the driver why we'd been told to walk all that way. He had no idea. So I boarded and he drove down and picked up DD and the luggage. In a few minutes, we were at the hotel.
Check-in was quick and painless. Unfortunately, our room didn't face toward the port, but I walked down to the end of the hall later (searching for the ice machine), looked out the window, and saw a large ship pulling out, just at dusk. I believe it was the Celebrity Solstice. A couple of guys from our Roll Call were disembarking her after a transatlantic, boarding Miracle the next day, then flying to California to board HAL's Amsterdam for a Panama Canal crossing. I try to not think too much about how nice it would be to have the money and time to travel like that, because I really don't like being envious of others, but it's hard to keep from thinking, "Why not me? Why don't I have that life?" Instead, I try to just be grateful that I've been able to travel as much as I have. Given my situation, I may be living in a box under the freeway by this time next year, so obsessing about what I don't have or can't do is pointless.
I'd been told about an Irish pub near the hotel, so off we went for supper. Had very good fish & chips and a couple of pints of Guinness, while DD had the steak and kidney pie and a Strongbow cider. I was so stuffed! Just getting myself tuned up for all the overeating I knew I'd do on the ship. I didn't sleep very well, probably due to the overeating and the excitement of boarding the ship the next day.
Monday, 12/14/09, Embarkation Day
I was up fairly early (as usual), had my shower, walked down to the end of the hall and took a long-distance photo of the ships in port through the window, went down for the continental breakfast (which was pretty feeble), loaded up my plate, and took it all back up to the room. Then I pulled out my little roll of tape and attached my VIP luggage tags. Yes, you can board with luggage tags that you printed in B&W, that aren't laminated, aren't stapled, and aren't attached with zip ties!
We went down to turn in our room cards and the shuttle was already loading. It was only about 10:40, so we decided to wait for the next one. The weather was glorious (which was great, because it had been very cold two years ago). By the time the next shuttle was ready to load, there were quite a lot of people waiting. Surprisingly, those who had arrived later actually pointed out those of us who were there first! The van was small, with only a small luggage space in the back. I was expecting a larger van or small bus towing a luggage container. We headed for the port and went to the Ruby Princess dock first. We didn't have anyone going to the X ship this time. Then we were off to the Miracle's dock. We unloaded the luggage, tipped the driver, gave our two larger bags to the porter, gave him a tip, and headed to the terminal building.
At least this time the line wasn't a mile out the building although it was back to the doors. I went in, showed my FunPass with VIP on it, and was escorted to the front of the security line, where the gentleman held out his arms to halt the line and send us through. Oooooh, I'm so important! We went up the escalator and were directed to the VIP checkin. There were three employees checking people in, so we were given a #6 card. We sat down and filled out our little health questionnaire, and were called in just a couple of minutes. DD wasn't Platinum, but her gold card was there with my lovely, impressive Platinum card. We were then invited to help ourselves to the cookies and water or lemonade and instructed to go around the corner and have a seat. Turns out we sat next to a couple on our Roll Call (who I recognized because she told us what she would be wearing). They were just off the Dream, so were doing a back-to-back of sorts. We chatted with them for a while, and then it was time to go. We were led past where the "normal" cruisers were checking in/waiting and straight to the area to have our photos taken for our S&S cards. I would guess we were on board by about 11:40. We were on so early that the buffet lines weren't open! We pretty much had an empty cruise ship to ourselves.
I was familiar with Miracle, having sailed her two years ago, but had forgotten just how very different the layout is from other Carnival ships (which, to me, are just variations on a theme, based on the Fantasy-class and adjusted/expanded for size). I really like the Spirit-class layout SO much more! The flow is much better and just feels so much more spacious. We took a quick walk through Gatsby's Garden, since I hadn't done that on the first Miracle cruise, and were heading down the staircase from Atlantic to Promenade deck when a crew member stopped us and told us we didn't need to drag our carryons around even though it was so early. So we went up to Main deck, aft, and put our two bags in one of the closets (and had my first glimpse of my aft cabin).
Then it was up to Lido for lunch, where I had a corned beef and pastrami combo from the deli. It was tasty but a bit greasy. We decided to see if/when they were doing the spa tours as we always register for the drawing. We were told the tours would start at 2, so we just wandered around the ship a bit more. Back to the cabin to check out the aft balcony that I'd waited 14 months to see! We were in 4230, which is "just" a regular cabin, next to the highly desirable wrap-around aft (which I doubt I will ever be able to afford to book). There was no view, as we were facing the parking deck, and it was extremely hot out there. We got ourselves a cup of tea, and sat by the pool closest to the spa area and waited for the tour. Of course, it started to rain. We got our spa tour and registered for the drawing.
Back to the cabin to await the call to muster. We were Muster Station D, which was just out the side door near our cabin and down to Deck 3. It was really, really hot and we were all grateful that we no longer have to wear the life vests. It was over with quickly, so we headed up all those stairs to Lido and the bar by the Orpheus pool for our Meet & Greet. I ordered a Funship Special (regular glass) and DD had something with mango that was yummy. We had already met four of the Roll Call members earlier. Then we spotted CWcruisers, our reunion friends who live in San Diego and who cruise many times every year (those Milestone S&S cards are pretty cool). It was so good to see them again! We all stood/sat and chatted and introduced ourselves and shared our real names.
We needed to be back at the spa at 5 for the drawing. By the time we hiked from stern to bow, the aerobics room was packed, so I let DD stand by the door and listen for names while I sat on the seat of one of the exercise machines, watching Florida recede. Of course we didn't win anything. When we left the gym, the sun was setting behind Miami and I could see a couple of Carnival ships leaving port. Then it was time for more food, so down to the sushi cart. It isn't the best sushi, but I had been craving sushi - any sushi - for weeks, so I quite enjoyed it. I stopped by Formalities and purchased the cheaper wine package and was told I would receive my coupons from my waiter at dinner.
Off we went to the cabin to stare at the wake a bit more, then it was time to get ready for dinner. We had late dining and were seated in the Ariadne Room at table 237. The table was next to the door leading into Jeeves lounge. It was a table for 4 and no one else was there, so we sat in the booth with our backs to the wall, looking out over the rest of the room, toward the main dining room. The grapes are still ugly. There was a young couple at the next table and no one else with them, either, so the four of us sat facing out, which was great for observing our fellow diners and the wait staff.
Our head waiter was Mihai from Romania, and the assistant was Glenn from the Phillipines. I have to say our service was much quicker than I was expecting. Maybe that was partially because that room was never more than about 60% full. They had an 8-top, us, the couple next to us, and another table for four, so they had a lot fewer people to take care of than has been the case on our past few cruises. I had the cured salmon appetizer, a shrimp cocktail, and the tilapia while DD had the vegetarian Indian dish. Although she's not a vegetarian, she has had this twice and thinks it is one of the best meals on the cruise, so if anyone likes Indian food, give it a try.
After dinner, it was off to Frankie & Johnnie's to hear the band and do some "chick dancing" with "W" of CWcruisers, my reunion friend. I stopped at the casino on my way back to the cabin, but no luck. I had a very limited gambling budget on this cruise, so stuck pretty much to the $0.01, $0.02 and $0.05 machines.
Tuesday, 12/15/09, 1st Fun Day at Sea
I have no idea when I got up! And, to be honest, I should take notes because after several days, it all becomes a bit of a blur. I use sea days to relax. I'm not one to participate in a bunch on onboard activities. I headed up to Lido, found the omelette station, got my hot tea and headed outside by the Orpheus pool to have my breakfast and do a little reading. Then I went back down to the cabin, to sit out on my lovely balcony to read some more, allowing DD to sleep in. We're on very different internal clocks, which sometimes makes traveling a little difficult. I'm an early riser and she isn't, which means we're rarely ready to eat at the same times. That's OK, though. Usually, by the time she's up and going to have breakfast, I'm ready for my 2nd breakfast!
Since I'm Platinum, I had a free entry for the slot or blackjack tournament. I don't have the courage to play the card tables in a casino, so I decided to try the slot tournament. All I can say is that it's a good thing I didn't have to pay for my entry. I probably had the 2nd lowest total. Oh well! It was free, so why not?
We had lunch (I tried the turkey on sub roll and decided I really liked it), and then we went up to the Sun Deck (where there were plenty of empty chairs), and sat and read for a bit more. In case it hasn't become apparent by now, DD & I are avid readers.
Tonight was the first Cruise Elegant night, and the Captain's Party, which I imagine most Carnival cruisers now know offers $1 off drinks rather than the former freebies. DD wanted to nap, so I showered and dressed and decided to go down to see what was happening. Well, when I arrived in the lobby, absolutely nothing was happening! So I had a seat at the bar and ordered a glass of wine. I had a nice chat with the young couple next to me, who live about 20 miles away and were on their honeymoon. I also talked with Patrick, the bartender, who was from Mauritius.
After retrieving DD, we had a look through the photo gallery (which we think is better entertainment than most of what happens on board). Then it was time for our dinner. DD had the lobster & shrimp, but I was so greedy that I had that AND the duck, which was absolutely delicious!
As stuffed as I was, I still managed to go to Frankie & Johnnie's for a little more dancing.
Wednesday, 12/16/09, 2nd Fun Day at Sea
I was up fairly early, considering that I was out pretty late the night before, and had a few glasses of wine. When I went out back to have my breakfast, it was practically empty. The water in the Orpheus pool was coming out in big waves across the port side of the aft deck, and the wind was so strong that the sea spray was blowing back under the cover, where the dining tables were. I realized that I wasn't really very hungry, so I only ate a few bites, drank my tea, and went back to the cabin. I ended up lying on the bed, dozing for a couple more hours. DD finally woke up at about noon!
I've had motion sickness problems my entire life and just knew I'd hate cruising. Despite my bow cabin and 14' seas on little Jubilee, I was still hooked by Day 2. Still, I wasn't a big fan of sea days. Thanks to Cruise Critic, I learned about Ginger tablets, and took those on my 1st Miracle cruise 2 years ago and had zero problems, for the first time. I was convinced I was cured. On the next cruise on Glory, I couldn't even tell the ship was moving. That was the only reason I booked a cruise with 4 days at sea. But there have been a few times since then that I also had to take a Bonine. This was one of those days. Although I never felt nauseated, I just didn't feel "right" and had no appetite. For that to be the case on a cruise, I knew I wasn't my normal self.
I spent most of the day bundled up in my bathrobe, out on the balcony either trying to read or dozing. It rained several times and I was glad I had changed my original booking from a cabin on Deck 5, since we have much more of an overhang on Deck 4. Still, I had to turn the chair sideways, and turn myself toward the wall to keep my book from getting wet.
I called for room service and ordered 2 roast beef & brie on baguette with chips. When it arrived, there was only one sandwich, but it was OK as I still had no appetite. The room service was a bit sketchy. Sometimes the order was perfect, sometimes it was missing items, or we'd receive 2 of something when we'd only ordered one.
After taking ½ Bonine three different times, I decided I could manage to go to dinner, as long as I didn't spend a lot of time trying to get ready. Honestly, it's the time spent cooped up in the bathroom, either in the shower or in front of the mirror that seems to bring on the seasickness. So I just quickly changed in the cabin and decided I would have to go sans makeup. I doubt that anyone noticed! Judging by the lack of diners in the dining room, it seems I wasn't the only person on board who had a problem with the motion that day. It wasn't until our last day, during our talk with the Captain during the Behind the Fun tour, that I discovered we had diverted around Cuba, going on the west side rather than the east to avoid a storm, and we still had 10'+ seas.
I had the French Onion soup, shrimp cocktail, and the braised short ribs, although I only managed a few bites of the entrEe. I had some lime sherbet for dessert, because DD insisted that it would be good for my stomach.
So, it was an early night for us both, which was OK, because the next day was Panama!
Thursday, 12/17/09, Colon, Panama
When I book a cruise, I try to find an itinerary that has new-to-me ports. I sail to see the ports, not really for the ship experience. Both of the books I had brought to read on the ship were set in Panama. I hadn't finished the 1st, but had actually learned quite a bit from reading an "adventure" novel. I also do some research before I sail to learn something about the history and culture of the ports I will be visiting. With so much information instantaneously available to anyone with an internet connection, there's no reason to not be an informed traveler.
We had put out the breakfast card on Wednesday night. I always order the smoked salmon, a croissant, and hot tea. For DD, it was Raisin Bran, toast and jelly, and hot tea.
I had booked tour CL007 with MyFriendMario, thanks to threads I'd read on the Panama POC board. I'm always on time or even early, but I have a hard time getting DD out of bed and ready to go. We were a little late getting to the meeting place, but others were still arriving. Our tour guide was Laurie, a British woman who had moved to Panama with her family when she was 15, so she spoke perfect English and Spanish.
Folks, let me tell you, this was a fantastic excursion. I have to rank it in the top three I've taken. Of course, if your idea of enjoying yourself in port is a day of drinking near the pier, or shopping, then this isn't really for you. I might want to do that some day after I've visited Panama a half-dozen times, but not yet.
We started out with about 16 of us, most of whom appeared to be together (extended family, I think). We drove for a while as Laurie gave us some background info about herself and Panama. We made a stop at a fruit stand where she bought some items for our lunch. Then we arrived at the Chagres River, which is the body of water which empties into what is now Gatun Lake and provides most of the fresh water which floods the canal locks. At this point, we split up into two groups and boarded Embera Indian dugout canoes that had been fitted with outboard motors. She said we'd get wet, especially near the front of the boat. What she should have told us is that we should just remove our outer street clothes and make the journey in our swimsuits. Let's just say that those in the front of the canoe were soaked to the bone, those in the middle were drenched, and those in the back were merely saturated!
We had traveled just a little way when her cell rang and we came to a stop. A slightly smaller canoe pulled alongside and the folks in the other canoe had to move to the smaller one. Apparently, there were 14 people who had tentatively booked this excursion but who had never confirmed. Yet they showed up - late - at the meeting place. They needed the larger canoe to carry the other group. So, we took off again, and it turned out that those in the smaller canoe were barely getting any splash at all while we were soaked. I had brought my big beach tote bag and was glad I had because I put my camera down in the bag, between the two Carnival beach towels. Of course, that meant I got very few photos. We traveled up the river and through the lake for quite a long while. Finally, we pulled up to the Embera Indian village and dropped off the cooler with drinks and the fruit Laurie had purchased and then continued up the river. We then turned up a small tributary and eventually came to a stop in a very rocky area. We had to walk/climb quite a ways to reach a waterfall. Although the water was pretty cold, I certainly wasn't going to go all that way and not get in! I mean, I was already soaking wet, right?
We returned to our canoes and went back to the village. It was fascinating. I mean, it was like being in a National Geographic show! These were Central American natives! How cool is that? We climbed the stairs to a platform covered by palm fronds where some women were preparing our lunch. The men were loincloths with a small beaded skirt-type covering, while the women wear cloth skirts and some of them wear a decorative top, but not all of them. Before you lecherous guys start thinking "oh, yeah, baby" please realize that most of the women who were topless were the older women in the village.
While we learned about their customs, we helped ourselves to water, soft drinks or Panamanian beer, which must have been fairly weak, because I drank three that afternoon and felt nothing, despite the very hot sun. The women fried fresh Tilapia that was caught in the river, and also fried plantains. It was so good. We then had the fresh bananas, pineapples and melons that Laurie had purchased earlier. The "facilities" were really just a cement hole in the ground, but at least they provided TP, because I had left my little travel roll in the cabin. We had time to shop (of course), and DD bought two pairs of earrings. The mahogany carvings and the baskets were beautiful, but I'm not a souvenir person. We re-applied sunscreen and re-boarded our canoes to head back. Once again, we were drenched within minutes.
Then it was off to the Gatun Locks portion of the Panama Canal. It is such an impressive feat of engineering, especially considering the age. The fact that ships have only recently gotten too large to traverse the canal shows how much foresight they had when building it. Of course, thanks to my novel and my research, I knew about how the French had thought to build a canal similar to the Suez Canal, but found the terrain much more difficult to work with and they ended up abandoning the project. The 2nd novel I brought about the Canal is actually set in the late 1890s, but I've only just gotten started on it, so that should be interesting, after having seen the Canal for myself.
There was a cruise ship just entering the lower lock when we arrived, so we got to see her exiting into the Caribbean. There were also several freighters coming through. Unfortunately, we didn't spend nearly enough time at the locks, imho. I would have preferred to have spent just a little less time at the Indian village after we ate and more time at the locks. Remember the 2nd group that cause us to have to stop and change canoes because they needed the larger one? It turns out that they were all elderly, and when the women saw the canoe, they decided they weren't going. So, that time that we wasted on the water could've been spent at the locks. I guess none of the 14 people in that group actually read the description of the excursion. You know, the part that states, "we will take a 40 minute traditional Indian canoe ride through the Chagres River to arrive at the village"??? I wonder what part of "traditional Indian canoe ride" they didn't comprehend. Sigh.
Still, it was a great day. Really great. We re-boarded the ship and headed straight up to Lido deck for our late lunch. Then DD needed her afternoon nap, which I sat on the balcony and watched us leave Panama. The sight of dozens of ships sitting at the mouth of the Canal, waited their turn, as the sun went down, was really impressive.
WARNING: I totally have the meals for the next few nights mixed up. I know what I have, but am not sure what we had on which nights until the last two, so I can give no guarantee that what I show as being on the menu for days 4 & 5 are actually on the menu for those nights. It's very likely that I have them switched. Sorry!
For dinner, I had the Petit Marmite (really just beef stock & vegetable soup), Caesar salad, and the lamb. It was quite good. DD had the crepes and the blackened Tilapia.
I have no idea if we did anything other than go to the casino for a little while.
Friday, 12/18/09, Limon, Costa Rica
This was another new port for us. We booked with Charlie Soto of OkeyDokey Tours, based on our reunion friends' recommendation. They had used him a couple of times for tours from the Pacific side and highly recommended him.
We had to walk though the shopping area and through the terminal building, and then across the street to the waiting minivan. There were a couple of women there who had been on our Panama tour, along with CWcruisers, and the two guys I mentioned earlier who had done the TA on Solstice and were doing the repo on HAL following Miracle.
For some reason, Charlie had gotten the impression that this was DD's birthday (it was in May!). I gave him her age when I booked the tour, just because when I say I'm travelling with my daughter, some may assume she's a child, which she certainly is not (at least not chronologically). Our guide was George/Jorge. I had a little difficulty understanding him at first, but once my ear got used to the accent, I didn't have any problem. He was very knowledge and likeable.
Our first stop was to have a look at some Howler Monkeys in trees right by the road. There was also a sloth. Then we stopped at a fruit stand, where we sampled ripe bananas and pineapple. Then we went to Cedar Valley Ranch for a pit stop. I'm not really sure why we were there, since there were facilities once we got to the banana plantation, but it was a nice place. I recognized the sign from TallyRockChick's review of this itinerary back in December, 2007, shortly before I took my first Miracle cruise. They do horseback riding and ziplining from there, and there's a gift shop with some surrounding gardens.
We boarded the van and it was time for our breakfast beer, Imperial, which had a bit more flavor than Panama had. A bit more driving and we arrived at the Del Monte banana plantation and processing plant. Now, this stop was probably a bit more interesting for me than for some. When DD was born, I lived on the north side of Atlanta. I worked for a man from Ecuador. There were employees from the Dominica Republic, Puerto Rico, and Guatemala. In fact, I'm pretty sure I was the only one who spoke English as a first language and, unfortunately, I speak no Spanish. Anyway, this company would get orders from agents in Central and South America giving the dimensions of the plantation, the expected output, etc. He would then design the conveyor systems and order the various parts necessary to put together the overhead conveyor with the hooks that bring the bunches in from the field, the conveyor belts that carry bananas to various other parts of the plant, and the roller conveyors that carry the separated bunches on trays. So, for me, it was very interesting to see these various conveyor systems in action.
After another pit stop, we re-boarded and headed to the Tortuguero Canal. There we split up and boarded two small, covered boats and headed out to see some wildlife. We saw Iguanas, a sloth with her baby on her back, a crocodile, a Green Basilisk (which is a lizard, not a giant snake (for you Harry Potter fans)), and then the most interesting wildlife sighting. We pulled over to the bank where a local boy had a turtle and was showing it to people in another boat. In front of them was another boat where a passenger was holding a small croc. DD & I were in the front seats of our boat, just near the side of this 2nd boat. While this man was holding the croc, a kid reached up and touched it's underside. It whipped around and bit the man in the nose and the tail lashed him near his right eye. Stunned, he first let go of the muzzle, then the tail, so the croc was loose in the boat. As we pulled away, one of the boat employees was trying to stanch the bloodflow, but his t-shirt had a lot of bright red on it. Moral of the story: if you're going to hold a crocodile, don't let some kid goose it!
Back to the van and on to Bonita Beach Resort for lunch and a couple more Imperials. DD was also serenaded with a Latin-influenced version of Happy Birthday. There was also a man on the van who was really celebrating his birthday (I think) and they brought out a birthday cake. I thought there would be time for a swim, so had brought our suits and lugged the two beach towels, but there wasn't. Oh well. It was a good day, anyway. On our way back to port, we pulled over for a photo op and then a stop at a grocery store, where everyone loaded up on cheap, good Costa Rican coffee. I'm not a coffee drinker, but DD bought a couple of bags for friends.
I'm not sure, but I'm guessing that when we got back on the ship, we went up to Lido and had our deli sandwiches. I do believe I had a turkey with swiss on a sub roll every day except the day we boarded. I do believe this was the Past Guest party night, but honestly can't remember. DD didn't want to get up from her nap, so I went alone and sat on a stool in the back row. I finally got the opportunity to whoop when Malcolm asked how many were Platinum. Had a couple of glasses of white wine and then went back to the cabin.
For dinner, I had the mushroom soup, shrimp cocktail, and the veal parmigiana. I love the soup, but the veal was just OK. It was a bit dry around the edges, but the flavor was nice. If I hadn't been avoiding the beef dishes, I would've had the filet mignon. DD had the vegetarian lasagna, which she said was quite good.
Don't remember doing anything that evening, so I guess it was a quick stop in the casino to lose my daily gambling allowance, then off to bed after another interesting but tiring day in the hot, Caribbean sun.
Saturday, 12/19/09, 3rd Fun Day at Sea
Slept in a bit, then went up to Lido for breakfast. It was quite overcast, and I was hoping to do a little sunbathing later. I didn't really want another omelette, but cannot eat the scrambled eggs. That's when I discovered hard-boiled eggs. And there were no bacon police at this buffet line, either. I had my breakfast and took my cup of tea down to the cabin where I sat and read for a while, waiting for DD to get up and get moving.
I changed into my suit and went back up to the Orpheus pool area and sat to read in the sun, which had come through by then. DD joined me a while later, and we sat out until I was ready for lunch. I brought us a couple of deli sandwiches (yes, I had the turkey sub again). Then I decided to visit the hot tub in the gym, while DD went back to the cabin to read. We went down for tea, but the lounge was completely full at 3 pm. Someone decided not to wait for service, so we got a table and shared with another couple and a woman who was actually with the people at the table next to us (so sat with her back to us most of the time, talking). I'm a hot tea drinker, but the way the service operates, with one person bringing around the tea selection, then you wait, and someone brings around the hot water (which doesn't make proper tea anyway, because your water needs to be boiling), then it's next to impossible to get someone to bring you milk for your tea, then you wait for the cart of goodies (which are very tasty, but it's not like we can't get tasty food 24/7 on the ship), I'm just not sure I'll "do" tea again. I prefer tea to be relaxing, and enjoy listening to the live music provided. Instead, it seems to be just another reason for people to stuff their faces with "free" food and to spend the time bellowing at each other even though they're seated two feet apart.
I ran into "W" who had a bottle of champagne compliments of the hotel director on Legend. They had also done a quasi B2B, sailing on Legend the week before Miracle. I had really wanted to see their 9A cabin, but her DH - the "C" in CWcruisers- was having a nap, so she brought her perfectly-chilled bottle and 3 chilled champagne flutes down to our cabin instead, where we sat and had a nice visit.
This was the 2nd Cruise Elegant evening. I had the Delice of the Ocean (I could've eaten at least three of them) as well as the Creamy Bing Cherry soup. For my entrEe, I had the grouper, which was excellent. DD had the Chateaubriand, which she said was very good. She normally doesn't eat a lot of red meat, and I normally do, on the ship at least, so we sort of switched around our normal cruise dining choices. Of course, we've cruised more frequently the past few years, so why not try something different? If you don't like it, you can always ask for an item that you've had before and know you like.
I hadn't been to a show on a cruise since my Miracle cruise two years ago. I'm just not that into that type of entertainment (revues, comedy, jugglers, impressionists, etc.), and since I switched to late dining on that cruise, I find that I just prefer to visit the casino for a little while and/or find the lounge with the band. I don't do the piano bar (too much smoke and haven't yet heard a singer that I would want to sit through multiple songs; and I just don't like the whole sing-along stuff). So Ticket to Ride has been the only show I've seen in two years. Unless you lived through the Beatles era (I was a very impressionable pre-teen when they appeared on the scene), you can't really understand what an impact they had on people. Anyway, it was entertaining, although not quite as good as I remember the show from two years ago.
We again stopped for a little while in the casino and then off to bed, since we had a early excursion the next morning in Belize.
Sunday, 12/20/09, Belize
We had been to Belize on our Glory cruise in May, 2008, and went cave-tubing with Major Tom, which was great. I hadn't seen any ruins since our very first cruise on Jubilee in April, 2001, so decided I'd like to see Altun Ha. Because I was a bit concerned with some of the independent excursions cutting it very, very close with getting back to the ship, I decided to book the Carnival excursion that was Altun Ha and River Wallace. All the independent tours offered Altun Ha and a Belize City tour, but we had seen most of Belize City when we were traveling to and from the cave tubing last time.
Our tickets said to meet in the Mad Hatters Lounge at 7:45. Since we had put out the breakfast card the night before, we wolfed down our breakfast, and hurried down to the lounge, which was already full and had a line out the door, but which moved quickly. We were given an orange #10 sticker. They called a couple of tours, and then ours. We were heading to the tender at 8 am. People complain about the long tender ride, and maybe it is compared to Grand Cayman, but it really doesn't take all that long - probably less than 15 minutes. At the dock, we were met by Oscar and the other tour guide. I don't recall the name of their company, but their shirts also had Chukka on them, which I've used in other ports through Carnival. We were split into two groups, given time for a potty break, asked to sign the waiver forms, then put onto two speed boats.
By the time we were ready to go, it was 9 am, ship time. This is why I don't do ship excursions any longer. Besides being considerably more expensive, you spend half your time being herded around and loaded onto and off of transportation. It was very cool and looked like it could start raining at any second. One of the employees came around selling rain ponchos, which several people purchased (at $2 each, I believe). Silly me had assumed, when I looked at the grey skies that morning, that the clouds would burn off like they had the prior day, and it would be hot and sunny. Wrong! Unfortunately, our various hoodies and jackets were in the cabin and we were wearing sleeveless tops and capris. Fortunately, I had thrown one of the Carnival beach towels in the tote bag at the last second (just in case we got wet on the boat again).
My legs were sore from both the dancing I'd done and all the stair climbing (I haven't had a lot of exercise the past several months). My left quad was especially sore, which is one reason why I had wanted to visit the hot tub in the spa. Well, when I stepped down into the boat (it was a big step down), I felt a really sharp pain in my upper left quad. Uh oh. The cool, damp weather certainly didn't help. Prolonged periods of sitting didn't help, either.
We finally left the dock and head up the coastline. We were freezing! They stopped the boat a couple of times to point out places on the shore, and just before we headed up the river, we stopped to watch for Manatees. Apparently they like that area because the feeding is good where the fresh water river meets the Caribbean Sea. We saw several just poke their nostrils out of the water for a breath of air, but couldn't actually see the entire animal.
Then it was full ahead as we blasted up the river, trying to huddle against one another and find a little shelter from the wind. I finally realized that the $0.99 ponchos I had purchased at Wal-Mart years ago and that I'd been carrying around in that tote bag for about eight cruises might help a little. I pulled one out and it did help a tiny bit, and DD then could wrap the beach towel around her exposed arms.
I had really been hoping to see some big, beautiful, colorful, tropical birds and was pretty disappointed that we didn't. I'd love to have one, but not at this point in my life. We did see several water birds, another croc, some little bats clinging to the underside of a tree trunk, and assorted other wildlife, but nothing that was really impressive. I think the cool, cloudy weather didn't help with the wildlife viewing.
I could have sworn that when I made the reservation for this tour, it stated it was 7:45 - 12:30. Judging by that, I thought we'd be back to the pier in time to have lunch at Iguana Rana and do so shopping. I'm not a shopper, but I had wanted to purchase a couple of items at the pharmacy and had seen some things in a clothing store while we waited that morning to get under way. Well, we finished with the river portion of the tour at 11 am. At that time, we left the river at the dock of the Black Orchid Resort. Lunch was on our own, and we were told we had 45 minutes there. I asked Oscar if we would be back in port early enough to have lunch and do some shopping there and he said no, we wouldn't. So, DD & I split an $8 plate of chicken with black beans & rice, fried plantain, and cole slaw. I also had my Belikin beer for $4, and she had a cup of coffee for $2. It looks like a nice place. I could see myself spending several days there.
I finally got to see my large, colorful, exotic bird. They have a resident parrot in a tree by the pool. I wanted to take him home with me!
They also were selling various wines and were providing samples. The cashew wine is terribly sweet. I could never drink something like that. The star fruit wine wasn't as sweet, but was still almost more like liqueur than wine. I had already had a beer so refrained from sampling any others.
We were then all herded onto a large bus and rode for quite a long while and it finally started to rain lightly. We had been told that if it was raining, we would not be allowed to climb the pyramid at Altun Ha, which is one of the things I had most looked forward to doing, although I was concerned with the way my leg was hurting. We bounced along the road for what felt like an hour, but I'm sure it wasn't, really. When we arrived at the site, we were practically the only people there. We were told that we would have a different bus for the ride back, since there was a problem with the suspension on ours (which is why we had bounced along for such a long time). We left everything on the bus except our camera and head out with the guides. Of course, it was raining a bit harder by then, but wasn't pouring. Altun Ha hasn't been fully excavated and is not as large as some of the other Mayan sites, but I still found it fascinating. After stopping in Plaza A, we proceeded to Plaza B and then up the steps of the Temple of the Sun God, which is where the Jade Head was found.
Back down the other side of the pyramid and off to the parking area. There was no time to browse the vendors on site, which I imagine didn't make them very happy. I retrieve our bag and towel from the first bus and boarded the replacement. They did a head count and came up one person short. Someone then said that a woman had gone back toward the vendors, so one of the guides went hunting for her. Oscar got out the waiver lists and started calling off names, most of which he couldn't read! Eventually, they decided that every was on the bus after all and we headed back to the port. That was another waste of about 10 minutes.
Somehow I had neglected to notice that the capers stated we would sail at 4 pm. Apparently I had looked at the time for Costa Rica and thought we were sailing at 3 pm, meaning we would need to get a tender before 2:30. Well, it was already 2:30! Had I been on an independent excursion, I would've been freaking out by then. Anyway, we finally got back to the pier but had no time to shop. Naturally, the one port where I had wanted to do some shopping, there was no time. I did run into a pharmacy and bought several Albuterol inhalers for DD. We were just about the last people on the tender. Just as we pulled away from the dock, three people came running up with horrified looks on their faces. I'm sure there was one last tender with some crew members, but if that had been me, I would have ended up in a Belizian ER with heart failure! So guess what we did when we got back on board? Well, the first thing was to go to the cabin and put on a sweatshirt. Then it was to the deli for my turkey sub.
That night, when we walked into the dining room, there were two men sitting at our table! They actually existed! They were two men who had known each other since grade school, had kept in touch over the years, and ended up both divorced and living close to each other in NY. So we finally had some people to converse with over dinner. That night, I had both the smoked duck and the chilled cream of peaches, then the farfalle with roast turkey breast. And, finally, it was bitter and blanc night. DD must have had the rack of lamb, but I can't remember getting a taste, which is shocking, but considering how much I had to eat, I didn't really need a bite of anything extra!
I had my letter from the casino giving me 500 points and a complimentary drink, so decided I needed to redeem that. I was at a slot machine, so sent DD to find a casino host. She came back with one (I had talked with him earlier in the cruise but have forgotten his name; he wore glasses and was from India). He offered DD a drink as well. Since we had each brought a glass of wine from the dining room (I had my last coupon for the last night at dinner so we needed to do some drinking!), we ended up with four glasses. DD had been kind enough to "help" me with all that wine at dinner throughout the week. She headed off to the shops while I sat and played the slots and guzzled wine.
I probably stayed up later than I should have and know I drank more than I should have. On embarkation day, I had gone to the excursion desk and signed up for the Behind the Fun tour, and knew we had to be ready to go at 9 am the next day.
Monday, 12/21/09, 4th Fun Day at Sea Sigh. Last day of the cruise. And the first day of winter!
I'll tell ya, this 8-night cruising is great. I've done several 5-day cruises and they're over so quickly. Even on 7-day, by about day 4, I'm already getting depressed that the cruise is nearly over. But on day 4 of this one, I was thinking, "we still have 4 full days!!!"
Because we had the on-ship excursion, and because DD isn't an early riser, she put the breakfast card out for herself, but I got up and went to the Lido deck for breakfast. We had been told to report to the Joker Card Room at 9 am for the Behind the Fun tour, wearing closed-toed shoes and to NOT bring a camera or cell phone. Unfortunately, I should have known to take some seasick meds, since I knew we'd go backstage (which meant we'd be in the bow) and I wouldn't have the opportunity to get out on deck in the fresh air. There were 17 of us in the group. We were given our special ship passes, and given an introduction to the tour by Diane, our leader. As we left the card room, we had to stand and be "wanded" by the security guy to be sure we didn't have cameras or cell phones. No photos allowed!
We went into the theatre and up on the stage where we met one of the technical guys, who talked about the stage, lighting, and sound. Then it was down into the dressing room, which is about as far forward as you can get on the ship. It was quite warm and stuffy down there and I started feeling not-so-good. As we were leaving, I asked Diane if she happened to have any meds in her backpack (that might be something they should consider for future tours), but she didn't. She said we'd be passing the infirmary, but not for about another hour. The fact that I had an extra glass or two of wine last night probably didn't really help how my stomach was feeling, you know?
Next, we walked through Gatsby's Garden, up the lobby staircase, and into the photo lab. Several people asked about options other than printing every freaking photo they take, only to throw them away. She said that they are working on other options, but that people are more apt to purchase if they have a photo in their hands. She also stated that about 75% of the photos are trashed. Knowing the prices of photos, that 25% must generate a very nice profit. I think I've purchased one photo in the last 5 cruises. Maybe. I don't personally understand why people spend so much money, considering that most folks now have cameras that are easy to operate and take nice photos. We just ask someone to take a pic of us. The background on the ship is good enough. In fact, I prefer it to the Grecian columns or piano with champagne flutes, or palm tree and sunset stuff. But that's just me. It's really none of my business what other people do with their money, is it?!?! But as a Carnival shareholder, I can't help but feel that the whole photo printing process is wasteful. As I said earlier, although I rarely buy photos, we do sometimes have them taken when getting off the ship in port (it's easier to stop than to fight them saying you don't want it) and at dinner, and there were several times we couldn't even find them. What if I'd wanted to buy a couple?
Then it was back to the stern and down to Deck 2 and the main galley. I did a galley tour on Fascination last year and while I find it interesting, I don't find it THAT interesting, you know? But it is amazing, to me, how efficient the operation is. They were still finishing breakfast service while preparing for lunch. I looked over at Diane, and she was holding a packet of seasick meds! She was my new best friend! While the dishwashing system was being described, I snuck back to the galley entrance and took a pill. I felt better within minutes. We then had a group photo with the head chef. Before leaving the galley, we had a quick demonstration of how the chef made floral decorations from vegetables. He was amazing. All the females in the group were given a "lily" made from some gourd (I think) that was yellowish-orange.
At this point, I probably have forgotten the sequence of areas we visited, but will touch on most of them.
From there, we went down to Deck A (which is where you disembark in port) and to the Engine Control Room. I got a little lost about which engineer he was (not the Chief Engineer, but the 1st Engineer, I think), and his accent was a little difficult to understand, but it was a very interesting stop. The security officer stayed with us. Too bad we can't see the engine room itself, but I understand their reasoning. I'm happy we got to see as much behind-the-scenes areas as we did.
We then went to see the various food storage lockers. I'll tell you, the big walk-in freezer where they keep the ice cream and the blocks of ice for the carvings is really, really cold. Really cold. No, seriously. You know, like freezing! We also saw the meat-thawing lockers and the cooler where they keep the water, sodas, beer & wine.
Next, we met the Environmental Engineer where he described how they pulp the leftover food and feed it to the fish (at least 12 miles from shore), and how they separate and store the items for recycling, shred the items that can't be recycled, and where they have the incinerators.
We continued down "I-95" to the crew mess areas, where we were offered water/tea/lemonade. There are several different dining areas for the different levels of crew/staff. Diane explained how they were on a 28-day menu rotation and the chef talked about how he incorporates requests for various ethnic foods for the crew. From there, we stopped in the crew lounge, where we got our potty break and Diane answered more questions from the group.
We then saw the training room, which is Diane's area. There are several stations with headphones where the crew can work on their language skills, using Rosetta Stone software. She explained how new crew members usually start out working in the crew/staff areas and progress from there up to working with passengers. She also described the crew living quarters and how they try to accommodate couples and roommate requests.
Then we went down to Deck C, below the water line, which, of course, you can't tell because there are no windows. Still, it was a bit strange knowing that. We went through the laundry facilities and saw the great machines that dry, press & fold the sheets. I need one of those! I couldn't hang out in the room to see the beach-towel folding demo, because the heat down there was starting to make me feel quesy again, so I waited in the hall outside the door.
It was finally time for the highlight of the tour (at least it was for me). From Deck C, we went to Deck 8 and headed forward to the Bridge. It was right at noon, so Captain Lubrano was off giving his midday report. Let me tell you, the view from the bridge is spectacular! The first thing I noticed when I walked in was a Carnival ship off our port side, heading south. We were told it was Legend, the day after she left Tampa. We looked at the port wing control board, and had a look through the plexiglass square on the floor (yikes!). We were told what the various displays were for, and saw the radar screen. We had a good view of Cuba out the starboard wing windows. I loved how they had houseplants scattered around. They certainly get enough light up there. Oh, and the security officer accompanied us while on the bridge, as well.
The Captain entered and talked to us for a while, and answered questions. Until that point, I had been unaware that our original course, on those first two sea days, was to have been off the east coast of Cuba, between Cuba and Haiti, but the good Captain has taken us west around Cuba to miss most of the tropical depression that was south of Hispaniola. Someone asked him about the worst storm he'd sailed through, and he said it had 24' seas with 60+ mph winds! And he casually said that he could "feel" it, somewhat. Yikes! We then had a group photo and individual photos. Unfortunately, our individual photos did not turn out all the great. The Captain looks wonderful, but we didn't. Oh well. I think I'll put mine in my Platinum Carnival Souvenir Photo Frame that I received as my Platinum gift. The last thing we noticed was a panel with several small, square buttons. Two of them said "morse code" beneath them, and then the last one said "abandon ship!" I didn't like seeing that very much.
To finish off, we went aft to the Lido area and up to Nick & Nora's Steakhouse. I have only eaten in one supper club (on Glory), and while it was very good, I would just prefer to spend that money on other activities. I was a bit surprised to hear them explain that changing from "supper club" to "steakhouse" meant it was a little more casual. Personally, I would rather see Carnival go a little more upscale rather than bring everything down to the lowest level they possibly can! Anyway, I also was surprised that the lower level was open to Horatio's below. It was very noisy. We had a quick galley tour there as well, and then were seated to fill out the evaluation form, and offered OJ, water, or champagne. Of course, I had champagne. We were then given our "goodie bags" and also a soap that had been carved as a swan. It looked like it was white chocolate, so we were warned to NOT eat it. We then turned in our passes and were done.
I had been rather skeptical about paying $95 each for this, especially given my current economic situation, but it really was a special tour. I don't know if newbie cruisers would get as much out of it as those of us who have cruised a bit more. The logistics of keeping a ship that size running smoothly must be very complicated. Considering how very many things could possibly go wrong, it's amazing that things so rarely do go wrong!
We went right down the clear staircase to Horatio's for lunch. I wanted to pay another visit to the hot tub in the gym, so went down and changed into my swimsuit and headed for the spa. When I went in, there were about 8 people in the tub, and they had stuff on every lounger, so I turned around and went in the steam room instead. I maybe lasted 10 minutes, then went in the sauna for only about 5, then jumped in the shower.
At some point in the afternoon, I was going up the aft staircase from Deck 2 to our deck (Main, Deck 4), and thought I smelled something burning. Interesting! I walked the short way down our hall to the stern, and when I turned the corner, there were three men in firefighter garb, and another man in a blue crew uniform. There is a laundry room across from those mid-aft cabins, but I think they had the door next to that open. Anyway, the first thing I thought of was that "Abandon Ship" button I'd seen earlier!
The head chef sent a plate of yummy chocolate-covered strawberries to everyone who had been on the Behind the Fun tour. Unfortunately, we didn't find room for all of them or the little muffin thingies that were on the plate. Hard to believe, I know. But I'm not much of a sweets person. I did have one the next morning before we disembarked.
We realized we'd only had sushi on the first night, so we went down and had a snack. DD decided she needed some more, and I decided I needed to go to the Farewell Party and get a beverage (although I knew I had a full bottle of wine waiting in the dining room). When I walked in, the place was pretty full and the only thing going on was the band playing and some people dancing on the stage. While standing there, I looked over and there was Diane and Malcolm. Diane came over and asked if I needed a drink, and stuck her head in the door to tell someone she needed a white wine. I thanked her again for helping me out with the seasick meds and we talked about the tour some more. I did tell her I thought it would be great if it could be scheduled on a day other than the last, since it would be nice to have that last day at sea to get in those last few hours of relaxation.
We then started talking about disembarkation, and about the snowstorm that had hit much of the country while we were in the sunny (mostly) Caribbean. I had read conflicting accounts of how Platinum disembarkation was handled. I had booked an 11:10 am return flight, and was a little concerned, although I knew it was a short taxi ride to the airport. I had been told that Platinum had their own luggage tags that were silver #1 tags and would be the first called, even before self-assist. She asked Malcolm and he stated that this was not the case. He said that in Port Everglades, customs wanted all the self-assist, then the others. We had received a letter in our cabin detailing instructions, along with two blue #1 tags. The letter stated that if we were doing self-assist, we should meet in Frankie & Johnnie's at 7:20. If we were doing regular, we should put the tags on our bags and meet in F&J's at 8:20. I decided I needed to do the self-assist.
Sadly, it was time to pack (sigh), so we started throwing our dirty clothes in one bag, our not-dirty-but-not-clean clothes in another, and gathering and separating the things that couldn't go in our carry-on bags. We had most of it done, but there was still a lot to put away in the morning. It was nice to not have to spend too much time on our last evening packing to put our bags out in the hallway, though.
It was time for our last dinner on board the ship. Only one of our tablemates joined us. He had a lot of interesting things to say about his time in the Navy, so it was a good evening, even if I was sad that it was all coming to an end. I had the Mango Cream soup, a Caesar salad, the chicken breast on fettucine as the entrEe, and the cappuccino pie for dessert. DD had the crab cakes and prime rib.
We finished most of the remaining wine, and took a couple of glasses to the casino. We both managed to cash out with some funds on our cards, but no big win like I had last time on Miracle.
Tuesday, 12/22/09, Disembarkation Day and home to Durham, NC We again put the breakfast card out the previous night, and it arrived promptly at 6:30 am. I scarfed down my smoked salmon & croissant, and worked on getting the remaining clothes, toiletries, shoes, papers, etc. in the various suitcases.
The letter for Platinum cruises had said to be in Frankie & Johnnie's at "approximately" 7:20 for self-assist debarkation. Well, I had heard various announcements while we were getting ready, but they aren't broadcast in the cabins, so I didn't know what was being said. Apparently, they were already calling self-assist! We walked into F&Js right at 7:20. There was one couple standing there who said the Platinum group had already left, going through Mcguire's and through the casino. Their kids were late, so they were still waiting for them. We decided to go that way and see what happened. As we were going through the casino, a Carnival staff member came over to see what we were doing. I told him we were Platinum and that the group had left early, and he said to just go around and to the front of the line, so that's what we did.
We were off the ship in minutes, down the escalator in the terminal building, and into the line for immigrations. There were two lines for non-US, and three for US passport holders. We were in the line next to the non-US, and just when we got to the front, the gentleman stopped us and started letting more non-US up to the counter, although there were many more in the US lines. I know a lot of the non-US were crew members, but if they wanted to clear them first, they should've just made an extra line for them. We waited only a few minutes, and then were outside, heading for the line of taxis. After two taxis were loaded, we were next.
We were at the airport by 7:45! Sure, we were flying from Terminal 1, but still! Twenty-five minutes from the time we entered Frankie & Johnnie's until we entered the airport. That's pretty good. And hauling the bags wasn't difficult at all. Next time, though, I'll walk down the cabin hall to the elevator nearest the meeting point rather than take the elevator near the cabin and then fight the traffic on the deck crowded with everyone waiting to disembark. Taxi was $13.70 plus tip.
It took us twice as long to get checked in for our flight and through security as it had to get off the ship and to the airport. The line at Southwest was very, very long and they were pulling people out of line for a flight leaving fairly soon. Considering the length and the confusion, it moved along pretty quickly. Then it was through security and to the gate. The flight at that gate was being held up because they couldn't land in Chicago due to ice on the runways. Got some coffee and picked up a sandwich for us to split while we were on the flight (can you believe I had to PAY $7.50 for a turkey sandwich after a week of stuffing them in my face for free?) and sat down to read.
I moved twice to try to get away from the little groups of friends/family who (again) feel as though they must bellow at the top of their lungs even though they're sitting right next to each other. I just got tired of re-reading the same paragraph over and over because I couldn't concentrate. I was tired, I had gotten up early, and I wasn't happy that my cruise was over. Shortly before we boarded, a couple with a little boy sat near us. I was sitting at the end of a row of seats, with my back to the window. Little boy came over to look at the plane and the luggage carts and proceeded to scream MOMMY!! MOMMY!! MOMMY!! MOMMY!! MOMMY!! You get the idea. Then Mommy said, "Oh no, Caleb, don't spit on the nice lady!" What? Yes, the little darling had been standing behind me spitting on the back of my jacket. I was not happy, not one little bit and let her know it by informing her that she needed to keep him away from me. I don't expect children to sit quietly every second, but they need to be taught the difference between acceptable behavior at home and how you can