We flew to FLL via SWA because we had nearly free flights (used vouchers) on Friday, Nov. 11. We spent the night at the Best Western FLL South and although we had a bit of trouble catching the airport shuttle (actually ended up in a cab that the hotel paid for) the hotel was great. Nice, new, and clean.
We booked SAS shuttle service from the hotel to the Port of Miami. Excellent option. Clean shuttle, excellent and on time pickup. Will definitely use this service again ($15/person)
Arrived at Port of Miami at 11:15, porters took our three bags and we headed to the VIP checkin. Checked in and waited about 15 minutes to board.
Once on board we headed straight to the Red Frog Bar and our vacation officially started. I highly recommend the "Bite of the Iguana". Excellent beverage. There are multiple option for 'collector glasses'. Tervis tumblers, porcelain steins in tropical designs, yards of various sizes/shapes. The odd school DOD glasses are gone, but the replacements are much better.
About 1:30 we headed to our Grand Suite and got our carry on luggage unpacked. This suite has more storage that any family of four could ever need and there was only 2 of us! The balcony is narrow but long. The couch is "L" shaped with two additional chairs and a coffee table. The dressing area has a sink, even though the bathroom has two more sinks. We never used the bidet, but the jetted tub was a welcome oasis after a day exploring new ports.
There are only two outlets in this suite, so the 3-way adapter was needed. We finally got our luggage at 4pm (VIP priority delivery?) was apparently delayed, since they confiscated my iron and three flasks out of one piece of luggage. Appreciate the note telling me my stuff was gone! Lots of complaints from other cruisers about confiscated articles. Apparently, they let your wine through, but confiscated your corkscrew! Oh well...
Life boat "safety briefing" was at 3:30 and lasted 30 minutes. Cruise Critic Meet and Greet at aft pool was at 4pm and a few showed up for this. Sail away was right on time at 4pm. No poolside bands anymore, just pounding DJ music!
We had late seating dinner at table ? I don't remember, because none of the tables had numbers on them anyway! Table for 4 with another couple from Kansas. Level 3 Silver Dining room! Reyes is our waiter. Quickly learned our names!
Spend an hour or so in the casino with our usual $20 donation and then to bed. I'm tired and have a bit of an alcohol induced head ache!! Room service menu is out and our room is cold and dark...ah!
Sunday: Had a bit of a fitful nights sleep. Couldn't get the temperature regulated in the room. When the A/C turned on it was cold, when it was off the room got hot. Oh well..room service was right on time.
Smelling cigarette smoke in our cabin in the mornings...jerk one deck below smokes on his balcony every morning and we get to enjoy the smell...CRAP!
Hubby went for his morning run on the treadmills (training continues for the Houston Marathon in January). I lingered on the balcony and watched us arrive at Half Moon Cay. The wind was a bit of an issue for the tenders this morning. I also gathered up today's laundry to turn in, gotta love free laundry service!
We had breakfast in Emilie's buffet (each morning). Omelet were good and love "fat free chocolate milk".
After breakfast, we used our VIP priority tender status to 'cut' the line in the tender operation. We were on the island in 10 minutes and although a tad overcast at first -â€" the weather cleared and it turned out to be a glorious day! Water was a bit cool, but we managed to get in. Sand was soft as flour and the sun was plentiful.
We waited til the very last tender to go back to the ship! A great day at Half Moon Cay!
Back on the ship, we took long hot baths/showers and then took a short nap before dinner. AHHHH our room is cold and dark, when we want to sleep. Cleaned, folded laundry waiting on is when we got back to our room.
We had a few minutes in the casino before dinner and then walked around to familiarize ourselves with some of the venues on the ship. Dennis was the winner tonight in the casino...well if you consider $80 on a penny machine a big win! Still hate the idea that Carnival sets up all the photo backdrops on the Promenade deck and blocks the only path all of the guests have in the evening! DUH!
After dinner, we wandered the ship some more. There's a really neat candy shop onboard now. I bet I can find some really neat stocking stuffers in there. I've already found my souvener "coffee cup" for the lake house. Visited the Lido deck but the Red Frog deck party hadn't really started yet. We were tired, so we turned in! Watched the live feed on the TV in the room as I was falling asleep, looks like the deck party turned out to be well attended!
Tomorrow is a sea day...so we'll be sleeping in and laying out by the pool for most of the day!
Room service breakfast is out and our room is dark and cool. Hoping for a better night's sleep!
We woke this morning to bright sun and miles of navy blue water! Dennis is up for a marathon training run and I'm lingering over a cup of coffee and early morning room service breakfast delivery.
Today is a sea day so we're planning on finding a nice lounge chair and enjoying the views!
Monday night was formal night. We met the Cruise Director and shook hands with the Captain then headed off to dinner. Lobster night!
After dinner, we visited the disco and listened to music for about an hour then stopped by the casino to donate a few dollars. Now we are back in the room about midnight and trying to decide what to do tomorrow in St. Thomas. We were thinking about heading over to St. John (Dennis hasn't ever been there) or perhaps going to the usual Megan's Bay for a day at the beach. Having a really relaxing time and getting some sun, so all in all a great cruise day!
Today was quite the adventure. We woke to our usual room service breakfast and then after Dennis' run we headed up to Emilie Buffet for a full breakfast. We enjoyed watching our arrival into St. Thomas as we ate breakfast.
After the ship had cleared customs, we headed off the gangway and hopped a cab to Red Hook Ferry. The drive to the ferry landing was about 20 minutes and cost $10 per person. Once at the Ferry landing we bought our round trip tickets to Cruz Bay, St. John ($12/person). We left St. Thomas at 11am and sailed for about 20 minute to Cruz Bay. We hopped on an open air cab and drove for about 20 minutes to Cinnamon Bay. $7/person. We didn't really like Cinnamon Bay, the bar wasn't open and is located about 100 yards away from the beach. So we hopped on another cab and went to Trunk Bay. This was much better. We rented chairs for $7 each and paid our $4 person entry fee. The water was a bit rough at both beaches but still enjoyable. We stayed at Trunk Bay until time to catch the 3pm ferry back to St. Thomas. It turned out to be a really fun day even though we didn't have a clear itinerary when we woke up!
Currently, we've just set sail from St. Thomas...well actually we haven't sailed. The captain is doing some thruster testing - so we're basically just turning around in circles and not going anywhere? Interesting huh?
Hoping there's nothing wrong with the ship and we'll get underway to San Juan shortly!
Today we left the ship and hopped in a cab for the Marriott Stellaris. We purchase a day pass here and enjoy their beach and beautiful pool! Gorgeous weather all day!
I'm back in the cabin and we're sailing for Turks and Caicos. Hubby's napping, because he's been bugged by some sort of allergy/sinus issue all day. I went to the repeat cruiser party, didn't win anything though. Then shopped on board for my usual coffee cup. Tonight we eat at Harry's Steakhouse. I've heard nothing but good about it.
Tomorrow we'll go to the Cruise Center Carnival built which is right at the pier and adjacent to a Margaritaville.
This cruise's Platinum gifts were 6 pack coolers!
It's 5:30 here, so maybe I'll catch a nap before our 7:30 dinner. But maybe first a soak in the jetted tub! How fabulous is that! We still haven't figured out the bidet yet!
There's a new candy shop on board, but the candy is $.55/ounce? Can't decide if that's expensive or not?
Well, guess I'll go soak for a while in the tub and then catch a few zzzz's before dinner.
We're a couple of hours from Grand Turk, so we spent the morning on the balcony with our room service breakfast. The flying fish are providing this morning's entertainment. Lots of them flying and some sail for 40-50 yards before falling back into the Ocean.
Dennis is getting ready to head up the gym for another pre-marathon run training. I'll sack up some of yesterday dirties for our daily laundry service!
We haven't been to any of the shows though. That's not Dennis' idea of fun and so I don't go by myself.
Karaoke the other night had some really great music and some really bad music! Participants are actually trying out for the "Legends" show, which is tomorrow night. Also they offer a "Superstar" karaoke where the contestants sing with a live band, not a CD.
The piano bar is a really cool venue, but during the one time we went in there, there was only about 10 people and the piano player talked more than the played/sang. When he sang...we realized why talking was better!
The band that usually plays at the Casino each night is horrible. Way too loud and way to off-key. Unfortunately the bandstand is near the non-smoking section of the casino!
Our waiter, Roberto Reyes, is a really good. He's funny and very casual. I usually have him select my entree each night and he's done well so far.
Well, time to pack up the laundry and get ready for another beach day.
Well that was a fun day! We left the ship as soon as the gangway was opened and headed straight to the beach at the Cruise Center in Grand Turk. Lesson learned...bring ice, flask and beverages because Margarittaville is ridiculously expensive! We spent the first few hours on the beach, a bit rocky and a bit of seaweed in the water. Spent the remainder of the afternoon in the pool and met a few other cruisers. The cabanas available were nice, but I'm not sure they were worth $100 unless you had small children or elderly with you that needed to get out of the sun. We headed back to the ship about 4pm and enjoyed sitting on the balcony watching the day fade away. Sprint calls are $1.99/minute here. Had a few work calls to make.
Tonight is formal night again....we'll be dining in the main dining room.
Getting excited about Saturday and Sunday's Nascar Chase Cup Championship races! Should be a great way to end a great week.
Okay, so that 2 hour nap was divine!!!!! Now it's up and into formal clothes for dinner!
We did another hour of thruster testing this evening as we left Grand Turk. Apparently, that's a quarterly event on the ship.
We'll be hitting up the casino for another donation I'm sure. Gonna check out the "Fun Times" paper and see what else we can do tonight.
Back to the cabin at about midnight. We had a nice dinner with Jay and Karen (Chicago couple we are seated with). After dinner we came back to the cabin and changed out of formal clothes. Then to the casino bar for a yummy peach martini! Gabriel is the bartender there and I got him to write out his recipe. He uses peach puree...so delicious. Then we headed to the comedy show, but the place was so packed, we couldn't find a seat. Headed to the disco, was supposed to be 90's night, but we didn't recognize one song, so we bailed. Headed to Karaoke in "The Cabinet" and watched about 8 or so singers. Fun place, all of the singers had good attitudes and the audience sang along with them. Then up to casino for another $5 donation and that rounded out our evening.
Tomorrow morning I have a spa appointment at 9:15 (sort of a spa sampler). Dennis will run while I'm in the spa. The 'free" slot tournament is tomorrow afternoon - so I'll enter that. Sometime tomorrow we'll pack our suitcases.
Dennis is anxious for the races this weekend. Sounds like we're in for a great race on Sunday between Tony and Carl!
So far we're not overly impressed with our cabin steward. He's just okay. The dining room staff is good, but not terrific. A few bar waiters stand out. Food has been really good. Better than most Carnival cruises. Tonight the ship was warm all over...not sure what's going on there.
Heard from our dining room table mates, that a passenger on the Eclipse died on a para-sailing shore excursion in St. Thomas. Horrible! Haven't heard any other news concerning that though.
Up at 8 and enjoying breakfast in the cabin. A bit overcast and a few sprinkles this morning. I head to Spa for a massage and hubby heads to the gym.
Massage was wonderful!
Back to cabin to load up our beach bag for our final 'sea day' out by the pool! It's a bit cool and windy to start, but heats up nicely.
The DJ is blasting out heavy Techno music, which really isn't our favorite but we stay the course and enjoy the day. Bar service is good and the usual pool games are held.
Back to the room about 3 (getting cool outside) so we pack up our stuff.
Dinner is sort of sad as we say goodbye to our new table mate friends and our excellent servers.
We head to the casino and make our final donations!
Up at 7am and out of the room by 8:30. Off the ship by 9am and in our rental car by 9:30! WHEW!
Go to Carnival.com prior to your cruise and register your sailing at the Forums: Onboard Now. This is a free/nice way to keep in touch while you are on board. You see, visiting Carnival.com is free from the ship and you can easily access the thread you started in Forums and update each day what you've done. Your friends/family can reply and update too. This is an easy way to keep in touch without spending any money on shipboard internet charges!