We had a big group going (about 120 people) and our TA rented a coach bus to take us from Centreville and Sterling. We arrived at the dock around 10:15 to find out that the ship had just arrived... We were able to drive around and unload our luggage into these big containers and then walked into the facility where we were herded into a section and given a zone number. We received zone #1. At about 11:30am we then got herded to the ticketing agents and received our sail and sign boarding cards....then we went back and sat in different chairs. Carnival gave no information, only that there were still well over 1,000 people on the ship...and that we would have to wait. That was ok...however, I wish they had given any estimated time frame....each carnival representative had different information...and dear husband and I hated that they were selling hot dogs for $3 and $4 a pop when we knew we were just feet away from the "free" food on board. By 1:30pm we were turning into very hungry people... I think we were finally called around 2:15pm to board...and that was a fairly simple process. I think Carnival did a good job in getting folks on board quickly when they finally could. (However, I don't know how the people who had driven themselves felt....we saw long lines of cars just waiting and waiting to be able to drop off their luggage). We were at the front of the pack so we probably didn't experience what other folks did.
When we got on board we went right to our cabin...#8235, cat. 9. Lo and behold I forgot to take a picture of it....there was a small foyer when you walked in....a big closet on the left and wall on the right....walk a little further and there was the sofa, coffee table, and tv set high up. Then the room opened up where there was a huge mirror both on the wall over the bed and above the dressing table.... The dressing table was huge and they had a place where they had all kinds of different glasses for drinks and a "bar" area for alcohol. It was pretty darn nice. The bathroom was your regular rinky dink size and so was the shower....no complaints, the shower was great! The balcony was huge! It was very long and wide....could have fit four chairs with room for more on it. The one complaint I did have about this room was that there were always weird smells in it....sometimes it smelled like garbage...sometimes it smelled like food being cooked, etc.
We then went up to the lido...I have never been there on embarkation day and experienced it practically empty...the food was great though I can't remember what I had...I'm a big salad person so I would appreciate the salad bar having more variety but it was still very good. I think dear husband had some kind of fish... Of course they asked you every few seconds if you wanted the drink of the day...
It was cold out and the band was playing but we didn't hang out....we just went to explore the ship. Franksteins Lab was pretty cool! Since we had sailed the Pride almost two years ago we really had no problem finding our way around the ship...it was nice to know where we were going the majority of the time.
We had late seating and we wanted to have a light snack ahead of time but were disappointed to see that they had not changed the food. I'm sure this was because everyone had arrived very late. Our waiters for our table were awesome....we were supposed to have two other couples at our table but one couple cancelled out at the last minute and one gentleman decided not to come because his mother was very ill....so the other gentleman decided to switch to an earlier seating....so we were at a huge table by ourselves with two of our friends down the way....we ran back and forth between tables Omur the maitre'd said that we could have everyone at our table....but then we all loved our waiters so much we didn't want to change. Our waiters were Wayan and Nengah...loved them!!! The food was excellent every night....never had a bad meal.... More often than not dear husband either had two entrees or two appetizers....sometimes three....whatever we wanted, they were more than happy to bring.
We went to the Welcome Show which was pretty funny! Dear husband and I loved Mark Hawkins....he was fabulous! He called up for five folks who had been in the armed forces so I told dear husband to run up....it was hilarious...when Mark asked what branch he had served in he didn't say a word until I yelled ARMY...so Mark teased him....he was funny with everyone! ...and we got a free bottle of champagne.
The next day was a sea day and I thought it was too chilly to catch any rays though lots of people were....dear husband wanted to play Fear Factor but didn't get his name drawn so we went to the Art Auction....could not stand the auctioneer. We go to auctions (antique ones and are used to a certain way) and I know the art auction is different but I thought the guy talked way, way too much between items. Plus I'm not a fan of the majority of art they had. So after about 45 minutes we skipped out on that and went to the Lido to find that we had missed lunch....aaahhhhh... I was not a happy camper. So we went to the guessing faces and names game which was ok. We got three sheets of paper and tried to figure out who the people were....we did terrible and when Karl asked who thought they did the worst dear husband yelled that he had so for being honest he got a ship on a stick....you have no idea how happy he was. That was his goal....he got one from the Pride and now he has one from the Miracle. Then we went to shipboard trivia which was a blast though it was too short. Mark had trivia questions and the first person to raise their hand who got the answer right got a prize. dear husband got me a free drink of the day.... They also had folks call in from their rooms which was great fun!
We got dressed for formal night and had a group picture taken with the TA's group and then went and dear husband got some sushi and just hung out. Checked out the casino which we did not play in and took some pictures and then went to late dinner. The food was excellent again. After that we went and watched some of the Generations show which you do not want to miss and then to Sam's Piano Bar ....Duane was the pianist and he was ok but there was a gentleman whose name was Gus and he did a better job but he played at Nick & Noras and sometimes did the Piano Bar...that's where he really wants to be but he needed more people to tell Carnival that he did a good job....so at least we did. We then checked out Frankensteins Lab and that was fun depending on what the theme was for the night.
Next day was another day at sea. Dear husband and I caught some rays and we like to go to the topless deck (it's very quiet up there) and all adult....but I don't know why they have the area around the top for folks to look over. I don't care so much but it does get annoying when guys are hanging over the rail just gawking. We did shipboard trivia again and dear husband won me a photo album. We went to the hypnotist show....think it was on that night...don't know what to think of it. The guy had one woman trying to kill pink spiders, another guy putting band aids all over his face....a woman running off the stage to make out with her husband...it was interesting. Then we went to the comedy show....I fell asleep.
Key West...what a great day....everyone knows Key West so I don't need to say much about it....you guys know.
That night we dined at Nick and Noras....for our four hour dining experience....there was a large group of us and we had a good time between our meal and running out to see the lunar eclipse....on the top deck with high wind warnings. They said the wind was keeping steady at 60mph....don't know what that was about. Anyway, I had the 24oz porterhouse which practically killed me....but my TA didn't believe I could do it so of course I had to prove her wrong. The creme brulee was fantastic!!! It really was a superb meal. Afterwards we went down to the cigar bar and the guys smoked cigars...
The next day was Nassau and we ran off the ship and did some quick shopping. Dear husband got me a beautiful tanzanite ring at Tanzanite International...then we ran back to the ship, got changed for our snorkeling excursion with Stuart Cove. It was a blast....highly recommend booking this independently if you have the time...if you do it in advance it is $40/pp and they pick you up at the end of the pier. We did a couple of snorkeling sites and then watch sharks feed in the water off of chum they had lowered down....when they raised it up there were all these fins just above the surface...and one shark actually jumped up....it was great! When we got back to the ship....about 5pm we changed and went back out to find everything had closed...it was terrible. The only things open were Senor Frogs and Hard Rock....that was it. Also the Straw Market never opened that day either. It was like a ghost town and I was not happy being there until midnight with nothing to do...so we went back onboard and had dinner....and I'm glad we did it because it was good. Didn't do much after that though....I forget...I think we just went to our cabin.
Freeport....we booked the Peterson Cay Kayak and Snorkel....we were supposed to meet at 7:45am but the ship didn't dock until around 8am....we didn't get going until 8:45am which was crummy because when we got back we just had to get back onto the ship. Freeport was decimated....we met our Kayak Guides and they said that Freeport did not look like it normally does. We kayaked about 1 mile to this tiny island.....the kayaking was tough because the current was so strong....dear husband and I were ready to kill each other after we finally got there but it was fun and the snorkeling was GREAT! We even got to see an octopus!!!and funny little things that change color and disguise themselves into the rocks... They provided lunch which was actually good....very fresh cold cuts and they had all the fixin's so you could make your own sandwiches...and peanut butter cookies, and water and lemonade. Then we kayaked back....dear husband and I were ready to kill each other again and then we loaded into vans and went back to the ship....a good excursion but because of the weather the kayaking was a little rough.
On our last formal night we went to see Ticket to Ride which was excellent! Also if you were dressed up and got there early they offered a VIP seat...total of 6 couples. So we got to sit right up front and had free champagne. On the last sea day the weather was kind of funky...not sure if it was sunny or where quite the sun was shining on the ship but at least it got warm. Every night at dinner was great because the waiters would sing and dance with Omur leading the way....did a conga line on one of the nights...
There is so much I'm leaving out now...but along with the Carnival board and other member reviews I'm sure you'll find that this is a great ship...and don't worry about the dining room decor and what others say...who cares, you're on a cruise!