We Had A Grape Cruise
After arriving 3 days early in Buffalo and being snowed in for 2 days we managed to get another flight to Fort Lauderdale so we still arrived one day prior to the cruise.
We stayed at the Westin Fort Lauderdale which we got on priceline. We bid on an airport area hotel. This hotel was a 38 dollar- before- tip cab- ride away from the airport. The room was beautiful and everything went smoothly there. Well except that they would not let us eat in the restaurant but let us eat in the dark at a coffee table in the bar. We did look a little raggedy after 2 nights without sleep arranging flights but felt like we were a nuisance instead of paying guests but we were elated to be in Florida so we let it slide.
We arrived at the port at 11:30 by cab and gave our luggage as usual to a porter. We tried to give him a tip but he turned away saying Merry Christmas. Puzzled we followed him and insisted. After some minor confusion in the terminal which made it seem it was this particular group of staff members first day on the job we boarded the Carnival Miracle.
We headed up to Horatio's for lunch which was excellent. Then after muster and sail away we went to the aft to see if I could identify any cruise critic members. We saw a couple of groups of people there but I was a little shy to go around saying "Are you from cruise critic?"
DS 14 went to the Camp Carnival meet and greet and joined the circle c kids. This was unusual as he hasn't participated in Camp Carnival for the last few cruises. He did go to the Camp activities but also just hung out with the kids.
Sometimes these self designed activities were not so constructive.(example:my kid is an IB honor roll student who never does anything to cause us to even raise our voices to him, his behavior is always exemplary. One night as we walked past the photo display we glanced at the glass elevators in the atrium and noticed some kids(about 10 in one) in one of the elevators . These kids had taken over an elevator and some of them were sitting on the floor with plates!! They had brought snacks into the hideout. We sat down on the couch that face the elevators to watch the hooligans-tsk tsking all the while. Imagine my surprise and my eyes bulging like a bullfrog when I recognized one of the hooligans as a person I gave birth to!! We burst out laughing at our own self righteousness. Luckily security came along and kicked them out so I did not have to embarrass my son by pulling him our by his ear.
We ate in the dining room only the first two nights. This was our first cruise traveling without extended family so we had planned to eat whenever we felt like it instead of our usual getting dressed up and attending every dinner in the dining room. The service from our waitstaff was terrible. They let us sit for at least 20 minutes before bringing the menus while they doted on a large nearby table. After 2 nights of this we decided to forgo the dining room.
A short comment about those grapes-wow that's alot of grapes. I admit when I read comments about the grape decor I thought they here were somewhat pedantic and just plan silly after all ,I reasoned ,how could a few grapes on the ceiling affect your dinner? Normally I love Farcus' decor as it is fun and not something you see anywhere else. Those grapes though did more to induce a feeling of nausea than the motion on the ocean we experienced.
Speaking of motion there was quite the pitch,yaw and roll going on on this trip. By some miracle I did not feel ill as I usually would so I enjoyed rocked to sleep like baby in a cradle.
St Maarten-we took a shared ride to Orient beach at 7 bucks each person each way. We ate pizza on the beach for $20. We rented two chairs and an umbrella for $25. We swam most of the day even though the sea was a little rough. Orient beach was crowded,very crowded. My teenage son was getting whiplash watching all the topless ladies go by when it was suddenly cured by a fat bottomless man strolling past-after that he faced the ocean when swimming instead of the beach.lol If I had to do it again I would go to Pinel Island instead like we did earlier this year.
Early on in the cruise-I think day 3 the balcony was washed so the partitions were opened between balconies. The partition between our balcony and our neighbor's was left open. That night the room steward attempted to close the partition and broke it off the hinges and the glass came crashing down on a chair on our balcony where DH's t shirt was laying. There was glass everywhere. The partition was put back up without a glass piece. Dh's shirt was shredded. Someone from guest relations came to the cabin after we called to ask when a new glass would be put in. She assured us the glass was all cleaned up and we could now go out on the balcony.
I should mention that the Miracle was the least smokey ship I have ever been on except when I was on my own balcony. My neighbors seemed to wait inside the cabin and only come out when they heard the near inaudible squeak of my balcony door then they would pounce like a cougar waiting on prey and come out and let the chain smoking begin. Of course prior to the missing partition I did not complain as they have the right to smoke on their own balcony.
The morning following the clean up I stepped out early onto the balcony trying to get in some time before smokey the passenger and his wife got up. Upon stepping out I promptly got a shard of glass in the sole of my foot. I looked around and gathered up a baggie full of glass and brought it to the pursers desk to ask nicely that my balcony be recleaned. When DH told the person at the desk about my cut foot he slid 6 band aids and a small container of neosporin to me while I explained it was a small cut and I have taken care of it myself as I am allergic to regular band aid adhesive. He then told me I should see the nurse if I want them to do anything. I tried to explain it is not a big injury and does not warrant a trip to the infirmary as I am an infection control practitioner and have been able to take care of it on my own.
That evening before going to bed we went out to check that the balcony was clean before we go barefoot again and there were still pieces of glass so back to the pursers desk we went where they told us the head of housekeeping already inspected it and it is fine. DH advised this person we do not want anything free we just want to be able to use the balcony and that means not having to get dressed including shoes to use it. So 5 trips later and after declaring a fatwa on the bureaucracy of satan that is the pursers desk they send 2 room stewards and the head of housekeeping to our cabin while were there. The head of housekeeping offers to vacuum the balcony again. So DH explains to her that when glass breaks you must wash the floor not vacuum it. So the two room stewards go and get a hose and wash down the balcony. It takes all of 8 minutes and was done perfectly.
The following morning I awoke to find DH already on the balcony sitting on a chair with a towel across his lap. I sat down in the other chair wearing my flannel pj's because our neighbors were out getting some not so fresh air. It was disconcerting too that the neighbors could hear every word of our conversation. It was hot in those pj's and I said so to DH. His reply was (in a heavy spanish accent) "That is because you are wearing those pants!" I exclaim "Aren't you wearing pants?" Remember the neighbors are so close I can hear them breathing. So he say "Yes..........but they are skin colored!" This made me laugh so hard I leaned forward and with the unruly motion of the ship I hit my head on the balcony railing. The glass was replaced with some painted plexiglass after that morning so I was happy again in spite of my foot and head injury.lol
St Kitts-we took the fortress and brimstone hill tour with the ship because the weather wasn't great for going to the beach. We had a very informative guide. We went shopping after the tour-nothing is cheap in St Kitts. We took the galley tour for the first time. DH works in the restaurant food equipment business. I was wishing he could guide everyone around the kitchen. He told me so many things about the equipment that the people in front and behind us were listening intently. We loved seeing all the equipment but felt the other tour takers missed out on alot. After all it just looks like a big stainless steel room if you don't know what you are looking at.
We got 6 free drink tickets with a letter of apology for the trouble with the balcony. We don't drink very much and so still had 2 tickets left on the last night. DH tried to buy someone a drink with them (we had to show a sail and sign cards at the time of purchase so could not just give the ticket) but he was turned down.I suppose it seemed too good to be true. Or they were afraid of the big bald guy offering to ply them with free alcohol.lol I was really wishing I knew who my roll call buddies were at that moment.
DH's shirt that got shredded was one he bought in Grand Turk last year so the pursers went out and bought him a new one. Also our room steward went with her assistant and bought him a new one as well-both from Margaritaville with her own money where he got the original. We were very touched by the room steward's gesture. The gym-DH used the gym everyday but did not like multilevel design as much as one on on level. Having said that he went everyday even on Poseidon day when the ship was rocking so much he sounded like a grizzly bear running on a drum on the treadmill.
We attended On Deck for the Cure. I am vowing right now that next trip I will run around the deck instead of crawling around pathetically gasping for air. This may be possible as I lost weight this cruise which is either a testament to how much food I stuff in my gullet everyday normally which makes cruise food seem light or the increase in fruit intake. At home I am a bread person, after all you don't have to wash bread or prepare it. It just sits there waiting for you to eat it. On this cruise seeing as someone went to the trouble of peeling all that fruit I ate it..alot of it. We all know the result of tripling your fruit servings...lets say that the miracle has alot of washrooms..and they are clean, I believe I tested out all of them.
Seeing as I cannot afford to shrink out of my clothes I tried to keep up my weight by having a milkshake a couple of times at Fountainheads. Very yummy and so worth the $3.95 they charge.
DH and DS had sushi most nights. Only the first night there was a line so long it felt like it stretched all the way to Japan. After that you could walk up and order the kind you want with no wait at all.
Sadly I was too busy doing absolutely nothing to order room service more than once. On the one occasion we did my BLT and DH's PBJ sandwiches arrived quickly. His arrived with chips instead of pretzels which was serendipitous for myself as I love chips (hence the gasping while trying to walk fast). The delivery person actually pointed this out and offered to run back for the pretzels but I happily declined-more chips for me.
Lunch at Horatios was always really good with too many selections to choose from. Dinner was not as varied as only one side was open along with the deli. I ordered a tuna sandwich at the deli but was not thrilled with the brown tuna I got after last year on the Liberty getting white albacore tuna. Dh was happy to see me scrunch my face when I got back to the table and saw the tuna. He gobbled it up singing between bites something about not having to line up himself.
On the first night on the way to the Bacchus dining room I proclaimed myself to have to best sense of direction of anyone I know-just before I got us lost. DH preceded to tell our fellow elevator riders that his wife has the best sense of something that rhymes with direction but has no d in the word. Usually because of his heavy accent it takes people a minute to register what he has said-like after he is off the elevator which he finds hilarious. In this case they understood him right away and quickly exited the elevator lest they be trapped with us. Grand Turk-we had been here before so were looking forward to it. Something has changed at the beach though. When we went last time the dry sand was wonderful but once you got in the water there were rocks that were so sharp you could do a quick toe amputation if you weren't wearing shoes. I am not sure if this change was induced on purpose or a result of the hurricane but I like it. Now when you enter the water there were only pebbles on the bottom. And no silt so the water was clear.
When we first got off in grand Turk it was raining lightly so we went shopping first. I hate shopping but DH loves it so we went into every store. He even bought a couple shirts form Margaritaville. Here's the funny thing-DH is always happy no matter what so when he was paying he told the sales clerk if someone from the ship comes looking for an XXL he wants a red one. Of course he was only joking not expecting them to buy him one. So he regaled them with the story of his ruined shirt. He had them all laughing. He bought several colors but no red.
When we returned to the ship we stopped at the pursers desk to get change for the laundry and the purser lady handed him a red shirt. She said it was easy because the sales clerk had a shirt all ready for them.LOL The room steward as well got a red one for him at the instruction of the sales people. The steward left that one on our bed at turned down.
After shopping we went to the beach and rented a clam shell because it was still raining. I sat in the clam shell reading and DH and DS went swimming in the rain. Later I swam when the clamshell got as hot as hades inside. I do not think I would rent one again if it is sunny which is good to know because I have debated that for future cruises to half moon cay clamshell vs cabana so now I know.
Dh was snorkeling out by the ship past where you are supposed to go. he saw a large blue fish that he thought was a blue marlin. We saw some really beautiful fish near the pier.
We ate lunch at Margaritaville which was good but as soon as we left I felt sick. Not sure if it was the food or sun or what. We went back to our clamshell. There was a Holland America ship in port at the same time that left earlier than we did. Back on our ship we had walked around on deck then headed for dinner at Horatio's . While in line the person ahead of me used the spoon to scoop their food from the buffet then licked their fingers. Gross. You don't want to do that in front of an infection control person. I handed my plate to the person and said "Just lick my plate" To which he replied "HUH?" So I told him he may as well bypass the middle stage of me picking up the spoon and getting his saliva on my hand he could just go ahead and lick my plate and be done with it. There was no more finger licking episodes by anyone in the line. I used the internet cafe (Raven's library) every day to send email home and once to get my cruise critic fix. It is in a nice location near the chapel and has a nice decor-carved ravens in dark wood and there are windows.
The fee for the net onboard is $55 for a hundred minutes although they have packages with more minutes or you can pay just per minute. So here I am taking out a mortgage to use the internet and there are two morons I mean passengers sitting side by side discussing their stocks loudly. All the while the clock is ticking with a loud ca-ching ca-ching inside my head because I cannot concentrate. I briefly paused and fantasized about running just down the stairs and asking the sushi chef for a Ginsu knife to plunge into their eye sockets. Lucky for them I came to the conclusion that the satisfaction of seeing them writhing on the floor was not worth being banned form Carnival or being thrown in the brig.
The chapel is beautiful. Last year my sister got married on the liberty where they use a conference room for weddings. That room was nice but this one was more suited to a wedding-obviously because it is a dedicated room for these occasions. There are stained glass windows and the front is raised like a stage. DH and I stood at the front and re-enacted our wedding changing the traditional vows to more x rated ones. It was sweet in the end though as DH told me he would marry me again a hundred times. I told him I would marry him again if he took me on a cruise and with that he said ok and we left arm in arm like two eighth grade kids.
The shops were not enough for DH who can shop til he drops. I bought a pair of blue diamond earrings for my mother and that was my only purchase. He bought something everyday. There really was not anything new or interesting to me to buy. Earlier this year I bought a crystal ship that was a replica of the RCCL ship we were on and I was hoping Carnival would start selling something similar since I have been on too many land vacations and a few cruises now so am not interested in t-shirts with witty sayings on them although DH is not above such purchases. When I finally said enough is enough he went back to the shop and tried to get the sales person to sell him one of the bathing suits for cash so I wouldn't know.LOL He came back to the cabin with it behind his back. Being a Christmas cruise I foolishly thought he must have bought me something. His defense was that he can't find a red white and blue bathing suit in Canada.
The Entertainment-we went to the first show on the first night. I cannot recall what it was called because it was not very good. Possibly because of the motion we noticed the dancers were not in synch with each other at all. It seemed very high school to me. However be warned I cannot dance a step so am in no position to judge ,just passing on what my thoughts were Luckily we sat at the back on the bar stools so it was easy to leave before the end.
There was a young man who played guitar and sang in Jeeves lounge. He was really good I never did find out his name. The place was crowded and every seat taken. People were even sitting in the chairs down the hall listening. We enjoyed sitting at the bar in this area. He sang Harry Chapin and Simon and Garfunkel and the like.
The classical trio that played in the atrium were also wonderful to hear. We also spent some time sitting there on a couple nights just to listen to them. DS however said this area gave him the creeps and reminded him of the last scene before the Titanic sinks in the movie but keep in mind he is 14. I really wanted to see the hypnotist but somehow missed that. We skipped Jerome Dabney as last cruise that we saw him I fell down the entire staircase and lived to tell the tale-didn't want a repeat.
Pizza-DS had pizza every day. I had pizza 2x ,once for breakfast-it was ok. I had three caesar salads before I noticed something brown in mine. I found that odd and pushed the brown aside and continued to eat. I came upon another piece that I determined to be a stray mushroom as I got it from the pizza station. About 6 hours later I sat bolt upright in bed which made DH think we were sinking. I realized of course it was an anchovy. It was to be my last caesar for this trip. I much prefer the fake anchovy flavoring. Not much of a connoisseur I am.
Most of the sea days I spent on our balcony reading and using my binoculars to check out passing ships-mostly cargo. One day there was a rainbow so vivid I felt I could reach out and touch it. DH spent most of his other time in the gym or running around wherever he could. He usually plays basketball as much as possible but never happened to be there when that area was open-some spots were off limits due to high winds.
DS spent most of his time with the circle C kids sometimes mixing with club O2 age kids-alot of their time was in Frankenstein's lounge. DH and I tried to inconspicuously crash one of their parties(overprotective parents) and sat quietly on the upper level to observe. Unfortunately both of us sat on these chairs they have that look like red bananas. We assumed you sit on them like a horse with the longer banana side in front of you. This was an error. In unison we both leaned very slightly back so as to avoid detection by the children below looking up which caused out bananas to tip backwards and we both went head over heels onto the floor. DH was able to keep quiet however I was shrieking with laughter. After that whenever we passed our son in the halls of the ship he would give us only an imperceptible nod in recognition lest his friends know we were with him.
One night as DH and I sat at a bar a couple of two young girls came up and ordered a drink (alcohol). I remembered these kids form the meet and greet for 12-14 years olds in Circle C so shot DH a sideways glance. The bartender busied herself for a moment then asked the girl who had ordered to show her some ID. So the kid passes over some sort of ID across the counter and the bartender says to her that she needs to see her sail and sign card. Reluctantly the would be illegal drinker passes over her sail and sign card that has the Circle C sticker on it. The bartender just handed it back with a roll of the eyes saying have a good night ladies. No drink changed hands.
A note about our cabin 8233. If I ever go on another Spirit class ship I will book the same cabin. The location being close to the elevators was great for me to be able to scoot up to lido in 10 seconds for my lemonade/iced tea mix and back down. Smelling the scent of fresh pizza cooking, our cabin was directly under the pizzeria, in the wee hours instead of the stench of someone else's toilet was heavenly. We heard no noise from the elevator or our neighbors. We had plenty of space inside for three people as we have finally learned to empty all of the luggage and put the clothes in the closet/drawers and stow the suitcases it under the bed.
One strange thing we noticed was many many people carried their own luggage onto the ship. In 10 cruises I have never seen this and did not think it was allowed. I mean big suitcases not the size that are deemed carry on size. This made for a crowded lido buffet as folks were tripping over luggage left beside the tables in a new version of chair hoggery.
The casino is cashless so we had to register and make up a password to use the sail and sign card. For my 3 dollar a day gambling habit it was more trouble than it was worth.LOL
Post cruise-We stayed at the Il Lugano hotel in Fort Lauderdale. We had a breathtaking view of the intracoastal waterway for New Years Eve. It was a real change for us Canadians to watch fireworks for New Years. We like it so much we want to be there to ring in 2010 also.
This is the best cabin on this ship. Shhh don't tell anyone else. It was quiet and had a faint smell of cooking pizza, The balcony is large. Close to the elevator but no associated noise at all. Also close to the stairs if you prefer to walk. Directly under the Lido restaurant so it is easy to bring food back to the cabin for a balcony snack.