Well, to begin with I wanted to post this to thank all the other posts which helped immensely before we left. On Christmas morning I opened a present with all the docs for this cruise. My first thought was OMG the Atlantic in winter! NOT what I was dreaming about a cruise but being a golf professional this is the best time to get away. The good wife even arranged to go down to Baltimore a day early (normally a 2 hour drive from outside Philadelphia). So we began the adventure on Saturday only to run into a buzz saw of snow that surprised Maryland and we made the 2 hour drive in 3. The next day we went to the Aquarium to pass time before boarding. You MUST experience the 4-D theater.
We arrived at the port at 1:20 PM and began the process. LINES, LINES everywhere lines. Lines to get in, lines to go through security and lines to get on board. It went well and in less than 1 1/2 hours we were on board waiting until 3:30 to go to our room 7277. Although the "surprise" was booked in November we didn't confirm dinner times. We were "wait listed" for anytime dinning and 6 PM seating. We decided to stay with 8:15 seating anyway and found distractions to keep us awake until then. You see my wife and I retire around 8 PM each evening and get up about 4 (TIVO does the rest) so we needed to make some real changes. Our first dinner was sooooooo good we decided to keep the late seating as we had a table to ourselves and we loved Haydee (pronounced Heidi. The food was excellent and service divine.
Day 1 We were up at 6 (late for us) and made our way for coffee. Breakfast in Mermaids doesn't start until 8 so, as on our other Carnival cruise, we had pizza and coffee! Now the trouble was finding our way around. It took 5 days before we could actually get from point A to point B correctly. We'd head to Mermaids and find ourselves at the Taj Mahal at the other end of the ship. Over time we got better but every wrong guess as to which way to go got increasingly frustrating. We ate in Mermaids for lunch and I agree it is difficult to find all the stations before deciding what to eat. The food was good though and I usually went for the burgers and fries. We had lunch in the main dining room, Normandie, when we would check the menu and it had veggetarina fare for Lynn. So far the cruise was smooth and fun to watch the map to see how far we had sailed and where we were. My thoughts of the Atlantic being like "Deadliest Catch" seemed to ease a bit and it did feel warmer on our balcony. 80% of the rooms have balconies and I will never cruise without one and it was so cool to sit out and watch the ocean go by. WE were protected from the wind so could sit out with only a sweatshirt on.
Lots of activities going on but we just vegged out for the morning. We did find our way to the Casino and we agreed to play a little bit before lunch. Not having been to Atlantic City in a few years I just tried to remember how to play Blackjack, 3 card poker etc. While Lynn played to penny slots. I found myself at the Caribbean 5 Card Stud table and started to take a beating. Realizing it was 10 minutes to lunch I figured I could last until then when POW! I looked at my cards and was excited to see they were all spades! Money hand! THEN I realized they all were connected as in STRAIGHT FLUSH! On the progressive that would amount to a payout of $5,500!!!!!! Well they had to do all the verification, count all the cards look at the video (which they said I looked remarkably calm) and 1/2 hour later, after signing tax withholding and other forms I was presented with a ton of chips to cash in. Lunch would be late. After calming down and a little lunch I went back to the 3 card poker table to be dealt 3 of a kind and another HUGE payout. Mark, the Casino Manager, came over to congratulate me again. It was the luckiest day I ever had. As the week went on my luck did not return until the last day where I did pretty well. All week long Lynn was playing the nickle and penny slots with mixed results until the last day. Sitting g side by side at the penny machines I hit the wrong button (max bet) and hit a progressive winner for $134. $134 on a penny machine! Almost simultaneously Lynn hit for $90 again on the penny slots! We walked away forgetting how much of my big win we had given back during the week and felt good.
Day 2 I awoke at 7 feeling like we had made the change from early to bed to staying up past midnight. I felt the motion and figured we were in for it now. It was raining and, yes, the Atlantic looked like I had pictured it way back on Christmas morning. Angry and gray with 10 foot seas I was amazed I didn't feel more "rocking". We still sat out on the balcony sipping coffee mesmerized by the seas and protected from the rain. The Lido deck has a removable roof, which was closed, so the kids were in the pool all day with adults enjoying the hot tub even in the lousy weather. At the beginning of the trip I didn't see myself getting the "sun God tan" so back to the casino, lunch and walking around to shop. Oh yes I did buy my lovely wife the very expensive (but 1/2 off) ring she wanted. Tanzanite or something but they have some really great shops on board. Bought 2 insulated cups to ferry coffee every morning while "she who must be obeyed" showered. We began to establish a routine...... We found ourselves in the Atrium Bar every night for a cocktails and listnening to Tony Ray who was fabulous with his variety of music and interaction with patrons. Actually the next night there was Cathrine the bartender who remembered our drinks! We spent every evening there and came to know her and Anton quite well along with joking with Tony Ray. Now a point to contradict a previous post. No matter where we were (elevators, bars or Casino) it was SO easy to strike up a conversation as we did at every turn on the cruise. We'd meet people,see them later and say Hi! After few days we had made many friends. At the Casino it seemed everybody had heard about my good fortune and wanted to sit next to me and chat.
A note about the shows as I am very fussy about entertainment. They were excellent and a close resemblance to Broadway quality in every way. Let me tell you about Jerry Goodspeed the ventriloquist. I howled harder that I ever remember as he was the most talented and funny guy I have ever seen. His humor and ad lib with the audience had me seriously considering blowing off dinner to see it again but alas hunger won out. With the late seating we'd find ourselves getting a slice or 2 of pizza at 5 PM to tide us over. Man I can't get used to being home....where's the pizza guy????? Anyway, all the shows were fantastic, even the closing show with cruisers performing various singing artists. They had auditioned in the Karaoke lounge throughout the week and really amazed even me! The karaoke lounge was packed to overflowing every night and we'd stop by occasionally to get our "American Idol" fix, you know the good and the bad LOL
Day 3 We awoke already docked in Port Canaveral as somebody had fallen that night, broken a hip and had to be taken off to a hospital. We had signed up for the Sapce Tour at Cape Kennedy and really enjoyed it. Fascinating stuff only to find out that Obama had mentioned he was cancelling the space program in his speech two night earlier. Way to go Prez! You want to create jobs by the elimination 1/2 a million? It was cool in the morning but toasty in the afternoon. Now about creating conversation. On the bus we chatted with many folks and then a lady mentioned that she got a text from her daughter that a storm was coming to Baltimore expected to drop 50 inches starting Friday. Now THAT was a conversation starter every where we went for the rest of the cruise. We got back to the ship and played mini golf and had a blast! Sticking to routine we had pizza, atrium bar and dinner. What they say about getting two entrees is true as I asked Haydee if she could slip the prime rib choice onto my lobster and she did! Oh what fantastic meals we had. Another great show, a few slots, party on the Lido deck (with roof retracted) and off to bed.
Day 4 The big event was watching our approach to the port. Magnificent green water, warm as promised and just stunning vistas greeted our waking eyes. Watching the Captain do a "180" to get into port was worth the trip. Soon we were off to our "Sea and See" excursion. Actually it was a submarine type vessel taking us on an underwater tour of the protected marine park. Like snorkeling and not getting wet! Fantastic! But the real hit was the boat tour on the way out to the marine reserve. The narrator was extremely funny, showing us all the houses of the rich and famous. After that we walked the shops in Nassau and found them pretty cool too. Back to ship to sit in the sun and hot tub, now I was feeling the "island rhythm". You also must understand there are ALWAYS activities going on but we didn't see them. They were there though and it kept the day full. Normal routine at night.
Day 5 Again awoke, coffee on the balcony, breakfast at Mermaids and start the day. Then the announcement came. Due to high winds and current the Captain could NOT get into Freeport. BUMMER as we had planned to swim with the Dolphins. Kinda funny as other reviews had mentioned not getting into Freeport. On deciding to swim with the Dolphins at Atlantis or Freeport we called Carnival. They said it was extremely rare not to make Freeport so made the decision. WRONG call. The seas were a little rough but not bad. Another fun day at sea, hello Casino! Earlier in the week I had run into an officer from the bridge (seeing the piping on his jacket) and asked about the unusual wake mid ship (I spent most of my younger years sailing, fishing, surfing and everything on the ocean). I asked if we had outriggers and he said the ship is equipped with stabilizers, wing like attachments to the hull. That is why, even in the roughest seas,the ship does not rock very much. Lynn found the patch worked fine and bonine worked too (though she admitted not really needing them). Very few accounts of motion sickness which surprised me. I have never been sea sick even on some really bad sailing days. Pretty much into routine now great food, great shows and we can actually find our way without a wrong turn.
It dawns on us the cruise is close to ending. The captain has put the weather channel on our room TV so we watch the diatribe about the storm. Actually a word about the TV. It's great to see Jamie and William do the morning show and all the other ship board channels but I wanted to see news. ABC, NBC and CBS were represented but they were local stations in DENVER Colorado! That's NO use to us whatsoever and all the other passengers were from the east coast. I didn't meet 1 patron from the west on the ship! Thanks for putting the Weather Channel on! We spent the day in heavy seas watching the map to see were we were. Again sitting on the balcony watching the fog rise off the angry seas. That made 3 out of the 7 days in HEAVY seas. Because of the design of the ship it knifed easily through the 15 foot waves with just a slight movement. We went to the debarkation talk which is a must.
Day 7 Packed and ready to go I watched us glide into port on smooth Chesapeake waters. COLD it was! The snow had BURIED every car and they were frantically trying to make paths in the 36 inch plus snowfall. I did NOT look forward to getting off the ship. We did the self assist versus the assisted debarkation. We were supposed to be called around 9:30 but got off the ship at 8:45. Quick trip down the gangway, a snap though customs and now find the car! With some help and 4 wheel drive we got out, cleaned off the car and were on our way 45 minutes after passing though the ship for a final time. If we didn't have to dig the car out we would have been on the road in less than 1/2 hour.
What a lovely, fantastic cruise! The passengers represented every corner of the human race. Tall ones,Fat ones, skinny ones too or how the song goes. Being somewhat in the middle age beer gut I felt very comfortable as MANY other had more that I did. Typically the passengers were all friendly and orderly. Carnival are geniuses when it comes to moving people expeditiously and were very helpful if we had a question. Formal nights went fro Tuxedos to just dress shirts but nobody tried to go the blue jean route even though you can on other nights. The point I want to make is that this cruise was very laid back and casual. As far as Atlantic seas in winter goes, it lived up to my expectations but the ship is magnificent. Activities, many. Staff, unbelievably friendly and helpful. Passengers, very outgoing and easy to start up a conversation with "strangers". The ship, just outstanding . Now to count the days until we can do it again! Now if I can stop the rocking feeling as if I was still sailing. This too will pass.