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This is my first shot at a review, so beware! I tend to be VERY detailed when I write, so you’ve been forewarned!
This was a Mother-Daughter cruise for me and DD (17). She’s my youngest of three and they all have had “Mom & Me” trips over the years… this was HER turn. Julia chose this cruise after hearing about the FANTASTIC time DH and I had on the Conquest in February and was REALLY looking forward to this trip. Of course we wanted to do a longer cruise, but school and work schedules left us with this or nothing. Guess which we chose?? LOL
Our itinerary was Port Canaveral – overnight in Nassau – day at sea – Port Canaveral.
After my cruise in February, I put all of my “cruise crap” in a big duffel bag and stashed it in the back of the closet. It holds all the “little extras” we “need” for the cruise and makes it easier to get packed. All we had to do was decide what clothes we wanted to take, remove half of those and throw them into our suitcases. At least that was the plan… you know what they say about the best laid plans, right? I finally finished up the packing around midnight on Tuesday. I woke up suddenly around 2am when I realized I had forgotten to pack my “elegant night” dress (this will prove to be a theme this trip). After rummaging through the closet in the dark, I found it and added it to an already too full suitcase.
We left MN on Wednesday the 15th, nonstop flight from Minneapolis to Orlando. We had an early flight (9:00am) and we live about an hour from the airport, so needless to say, we had to get up at “Oh-God-Thirty”! We left the house at 6:30am and got to the off-site parking at 7:45, then to the airport by 7:55. Not bad in traffic, even with the nasty weather be left behind.
The flight was okay, a little bumpy for the first little bit, but then it calmed down. Then came the REAL fun! Now just to preface, I have kids… I love kids… I realize kids will act out every once in a while and I know that sitting on an airplane for 3 hours straight isn’t most kids’ idea of a good time. That being said, there were a couple of kids on this flight that I wanted to THROTTLE! Especially the kid behind me that decided her feet were better placed on the back of my seat rather than dangle down as God intended. This little girl didn’t just gingerly place her feet on the back of my seat, but instead she KICKED and KICKED and KICKED yet again until I seriously thought about turning around and asking her Mother what the hell she was doing slamming Screwdrivers instead of watching her demon spawn. Seriously, she had like 8 drinks during our 3 hour flight. Turns out they were on their way to Universal Studios for a week. No wonder she wanted to get plastered! Then there was kid #2, across the isle from me that SCREAMED the entire time “I don’t want to… I don’t have to… you can’t make me… you’re not my boss… shut up… I’m gonna tell Grandma… etc.” I did manage to dose off once, then came the simultaneous scream AND kick action. I leaned forward then SLAMMED back into my seat to make my point, then gave kid #2 the “death look”. They both stopped. We landed 10 minutes later. <sigh>
I had initially set up transportation from Orlando to Cocoa Beach with Cocoa Beach Shuttle as we were going to stay in Cocoa Beach for our pre-cruise night. After reading some things about them that made me a little uncomfortable, I changed our hotel plans and decided to stay in Orlando near the airport. We stayed at the Country Inn & Suites Orlando Airport. I had gone through Expedia months prior and prepaid for the room at a rate of $61.75. They had an airport shuttle and offered a full breakfast from 6:00am to 9:30am. They also provided free wireless internet access, which is a huge plus in my book (I work from home where I “remote” into servers, etc. I MUST be accessible at all times, so this is a big thing for me).
We waited for about 15 minutes for the Comfort Inn & Suites shuttle to get to the airport. Here’s Julia, waiting NOT so patiently.
Julia notices a cab parked next to where the shuttles are… she wonders why “Yellow Cab Company” cabs are orange?!?! Good question!
Anyway, we got to the room and were checked in by 2:30 or so, so we had a good part of the day left to do “stuff”.
We grabbed a cab and went down to a nearby strip mall with a Walgreen’s to pick up a few last minute things that we had left behind. We also had to find a nail salon for DD to get her pedicure. She was supposed to do it before we left home, but of course teenager’s priorities are not always what we’d like them to be. Before we called the cab to take us back to our hotel, we grabbed a quick bite at Quizno’s to tide us over until the morning. Later on we were a little hungry, so ordered from the TGI Friday’s menu in the hotel room. They were just across the parking lot from us.
Julia and I got up at 8:00am and started to get things together to head to the pier. We had a small breakfast downstairs and then went back up to the room to grab our bags. The room was comfortable and fit our needs perfectly. Even had a frig and microwave!
Since I changed our Cocoa Beach plans, I had to get us transportation to the pier and back to the airport on Sunday. I ended up using TraveLynx Shuttle Service which turned out to be $100.00 r/t. The shuttle from TraveLynx was pre-arranged to pick us up at 10:00am.
The drive to the pier was to be about 1 hour. Both of us get sick reading in the car, so books were out. We ended up watching the sights along the drive and listening to our IPods (threads from CC for vaca music to the rescue!). We had two guys in the van with us (never got their actual names, Julia named them “Jim & Bob” and we saw them on the ship several times, saying “Jim & Bob!!!” They always smiled and said hi back). They were very nice, pleasant conversation. Everything was great… until the snag… about 20 minutes into the drive; I was playing back in my mind the packing up and leaving of the hotel. All of the sudden, I turned around and said “HOLY SH*T!!” Jim, Bob & Julia all said “What?” I realized that I’d left my “formal” dress, still in the plastic bag from the department store, hanging on the rail in the hotel room. Really? I don’t wear dresses… ever! I spent $200 on a dress to make sure I looked “elegant” enough and I leave it at the hotel? ***???? The shuttle driver hears me freaking out and takes charge. He said they had some hotel pick-ups still to do and if I’d call the hotel to make sure they could get my dress from our room and have it at the front desk, they would have the other shuttle dude pick it up for me. I was relieved, to say the least. But still wouldn’t breathe easy till said dress was in my hands. The rest of the drive was OK, but I had the whole dress thing on my mind so Julia took pictures along the way while I worried. Here are a few random pics from the shuttle ride to the pier.
Now, unless I lost a year somewhere, this guy’s inspection sticker is expired!
We got to the pier at 11:10am and our shuttle driver gave me instructions on where to meet the other shuttle guy (the one with my dress!) when he gets there. I made sure he had my cell # and nervously made our way to the entrance. Right as we got there, they were calling two wedding parties to board, so it looked like we timed things out perfectly.
There was not much of a line getting into the terminal and we had our bags on the x-ray belt in about 5 minutes. Of course, with my luck, Security Guy #1 said “Uh-oh, we have a problem!” Security Guy #2 opens my bag and removes my fan. This fan was one of those little ones like they use in nail salons, not to mention it was brand new with the plastic still on the coiled up cord. I tried to tell him that my fan was allowed per Carnival’s website as long as it didn’t pose a fire hazard. He proceeded to tell me he didn’t give a rats a$$ what Carnival said, that it was his job to remove prohibited items. He filled out the “confiscated items” form and gave me my copy. I had a small adapter plug thing that turns the one outlet into three. That was fine. I also had my one bottle of wine allowed in my carry-on that they didn’t even blink at.
We then made our way up the escalator and were handing the “have you been sick lately” form to fill out. Got through the line to get our Sail & Sign cards pretty quickly and were handed zone 12 cards. They were calling zone 9 at the time, so we knew it wouldn’t be long. We sat for maybe 3-4 minutes and then our zone # was called. “Snap”, our embarkation photo was taken and next thing I know, “BONG!” (I LOVE that sound!). It was 11:30am at this point, so we made really good time.
We made our way through the crowds and got up to the Lido. First stop, BURGERS! Second stop, a “DOD” for me and a “DOD light” for DD. Sorry, I fixed and cut my burger before I remembered to take a pic!
I decided to go up to the spa to make an appointment for a hair up-do for Friday Elegant Night while DD stayed on Lido people watching. I was able to make my appointment and just then my cell phone rang. It was Shuttle Guy #2 with my dress… yeah! I went back down and had to make my way through crowds coming at me to get to the porter area. I met the driver and “Operation Dress Retrieval” was complete! I attempted to tip the guy but he refused, saying it wasn’t a big deal and he didn’t mind. I pretty much forced the cash on him because it was a VERY big deal for me. He was very sweet and thanked me profusely, even as I was walking away. Very nice guy. On my way back to where DD was sitting, I stopped for a whale tail photo-op.
We sat on Lido people watching, listening to “Tony from Minnesoooootaaa” one of the entertainment staff, doing movie trivia. He was running around near the pool, so even though I knew most of the answers, we weren’t close enough for him to hear. No big deal though… the people he did interact with were really having fun. He nicknamed them “Drunk Miami, Drunk Pittsburg, Drunk Orlando, etc.” And yes, drunk they were! Plenty of buckets of beer were consumed over near the pool that afternoon. It was fun to see so many people getting into the spirit of things.
We left to go to our room at 1:25 and got there at 1:30 on the dot. We didn’t see our Steward (Guillermo) until after 2:30, which with hind-sight was a good thing. I was NOT impressed with him, which kind of bummed me out. Throughout the whole cruise there were issues after issues with him. I later found out that he was on the last trip of his contract, so I went with the assumption that he was just tired and really wanted to be anywhere else but there. I think also with the short trips like on the Sensation, they probably are dealt more frustration than on the longer trips. Again, that’s just my opinion – who knows the real reason why he was terminally pissy. Our Assistant Steward (Aris) was much friendlier. My Bon Voyage purchases were there waiting for us when we got to the room (Vodka for me & flowers for DD).
Both our bags were placed outside our door by 3:30. I thought I heard the first one arrive at 3:20, but until the loud THUD against the door at 3:40, I didn’t check. We checked out the balcony and got everything unpacked. (My “goodies” made it through, no naughty room visit for me!).
DD wanted to just live out of her suitcase but I talked her into unpacking things. She was glad later on that she had done that. Two girls with lots of “girl stuff” takes up lots of room. I had heard differing opinions on the over the door organizer but decided to bring it along just in case. I’m glad I did, it really helped to keep organized and easy to get to. DD checked out the room service menu since she planned on utilizing it as much as possible.
Muster drill reminders started around 3:50, so we headed out. On the way down to muster I asked our Steward to fill my small collapsible cooler with ice when he refilled the ice bucket. I gave him $10 there and was planning on more at the end, if warranted. I had to ask for ice every single time. Muster was quick and painless, no lifejackets required. Afterwards, we walked around the ship for a few minutes and I snagged DOD #2.
We went up on deck for sail-away, and then decided to go back to the room to chill out until it was time to get ready for dinner (8:15 traditional dining). I kicked back on the balcony and read my book while DD went to the salon to get a tip replaced and the rest filled.
Once it was time to go to dinner, we headed to the Ecstasy Dining room. It was all the way aft, so I was a little nervous about movement. It was pretty rough on the way out. We got to our table before everyone else, so got a few pics of the table untouched. (Table for 8)
Our table mates showed up shortly after that. There were two families, both with one kid each. One was a Mom, Dad and a young boy, maybe 4?? The other family was Mom, Dad and teenage daughter. Not 3 minutes after sitting down, Julia got up and RAN out of the dining room. I was worried, but she went so fast I didn’t see where she went. A few minutes later she came back, green around the gills. We decided that dinner in the dining room really wasn’t a good idea so went back to the room. Our first towel animal was there… but he didn’t have eyes! We ordered room service (me; steak & brie, her; turkey wrap and dry toast).
I had the scopolamine patches my doctor had given me before my last cruise, so I put one behind DD’s ear. It says it take 4 hours to “kick in”, so Julia decided to decorate our door. After that, she still wasn’t feeling 100%, so I headed back out to the balcony to read and she crashed early. I stepped down to the Fantasia Lounge around 10:30 to check out the Welcome Aboard Show. It wasn’t anything I hadn’t seen before and Skip (our CD) just didn’t seem too animated. It was very much rehearsed, but I guess after doing basically the same show so many times it becomes old hat. I did laugh some, just not the “OMG this is SO funny” type of laugh. I didn’t go to the comedy show just because I didn’t want to leave Julia alone for very long when she didn’t feel good.
I got up early on Friday morning; even though we weren’t due to arrive in Nassau until noon. Julia had filled out the room service card the night before, but didn’t wake up when the knock came at 8:00am. I took my fruit and coffee out to the balcony to enjoy the view and read a little more. It was awesome… there is something magical to me about the sights and sounds of the ocean. It was nearly hypnotizing to say the least.
When the announcement came saying we could make our way down to get off the ship, we didn’t go right away so we could miss the crowds. Didn’t exactly work that way though, even 45 minutes later it was a complete madhouse with a lot of waiting. It was okay though, we knew the beach would still be there when we got there. We made it!
Once off the ship, we made our way to the British Colonial Hilton for our beach day. I was prepared to pay for the beach day thing, but we just walked straight through the lobby and out to the beach. Nobody said anything to us all day. The only thing I had to do for myself that would have been provided otherwise is walk a few feet to the bar to get food/drinks. No big deal… easy enough! When we found an umbrella and a couple of loungers we kicked back and started the long hard task of relaxing and people watching. There’s always at least one “Speedo guy” at every beach, right?
We spent some time at the beach, with DD really enjoying the water!
So… DD and I had been talking about getting another tattoo each (I have a few, she has one) and talked about getting it done on the cruise. She did an airbrush one on the ship, but while we were in Nassau, after the beach, we went to “The Tattoo King” and talked to them about our new tats. We both ended up getting one; Julia got the Chinese symbol for “daughter” and I got the Chinese symbol for “mother”, each on the top of our right feet.
(Can't get that pic to work, will try to add it at the end)
We did some shopping and some walking around and decided to head back to the ship around 3:30. I had my hair appointment and we both were a little tired.
Julia ended up going over to Club 02 for a bit… I think because it was such a short cruise there weren’t very many kids along for the ride. There were a few, but not many. I ended up taking a nap, and of course, I slept right through my hair appointment! Uggggh! No worries though, she woke me up and we were able to do “something” with my hair, not quite what I’d envisioned, but it was okay.
Our waiter was Gusti, and he was pretty awesome! After the first night with DD getting sick, he was genuinely concerned about her and tended to her very personally this evening. She ordered the flat iron steak while everyone else ordered the lobster – then he brought her a lobster plate so she wouldn’t feel left out. I thought it was sweet and she did eat the shrimp, just not the lobster.
Right before dinner, Juan Carlos the maintenance guy, came by to check if our AC was working? Don’t know why, except for maybe our (grumpy) Steward saw me out on the balcony that morning with the door propped open. I was using a bungee and maybe I got tattled on. The maintenance guy did ask that I keep the door closed, so I’m pretty sure that’s what happened. Who knows for sure, but that’s my theory.
Our towel animal that night had arrived, and once again Julia ordered room service:
You look like BFFs, not mother and daughter!! WOW! The elegant dress was worth waiting for from the shuttle guy. I'd have hated to lose that dress, too!
Could have done without the crotch shot of the speedo guy...not much to recommend him.
After Tom-n-Cheryl got their fan confiscated I sent a letter to Carnival to clarify their policy. Got a reply which was really goofy...
"In regards to your inquiry. Electrical devices such as fans can be used onboard and can be removed if determined to pose a hazard and returned the last day of the cruise prior to debark. Have a wonderful cruise! If there is anything else we can do for you please don't hesitate to ask."
DUh...huh? Can I take it or can't I take it? LOL!! (I'm leaving it at home.)
Enjoying your trip, so hurry back!
(donkeywrangler AT gmail.com)
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul. ~Invictus
We did go to the Love & Marriage Show, well like the last half of it, and it was funny. There were a few couples up there that were pretty funny.
After that, we stayed for the final Bingo game… we didn’t win anything, not in Bingo or on the raffle for a paid bar tab they had afterward.
The last night we just ate at Seaside grill, pizza and the salad bar. We just really didn’t feel like going to the dining room, too much to see I guess. We hung out at the pool and talked and giggled and all that fun stuff. It was nice.
Once we got back to the room, I saw that the liquor I had purchased from the shop onboard had been delivered. My fan had not. I called Guest Services to inquire and they said I wasn’t getting it back!!! Ummmmm, no. I don’t think so! They told me that Port Authority had my fan and that they had nothing to do with it. Without going into too many details, I pretty much put my foot down and said that I know they had my fan and that I’d better get it back that evening, and I didn’t care if they had to buy me a replacement. Within 45 minutes, my fan was at my door. Go figure.
BooBooKitEE~ I'm so enjoying reading this and seeing your pics! Hope we get to meet on the 27th Fascination. You look much too young to have a 17 yr old daughter!
That is the saddest towel animal pic I've seen.
ETA: And Speedo guy. Har har! I'm making up a "cruise bag" this weekend. Hopefully the 27th won't be the only time I get to use it...and I won't pack the fan. Also, NOW I WANT A BALCONY. But I'll have to make do with the inside cabin. *sigh.
Last edited by NeverBeenThereEither; September 21st, 2010 at 03:37 PM.
Julia was pretty sad to leave the ship, as was I. Here’s her sad face:
We were both sad to go home, but knew that we have more trips up ahead of us. Here are a few pics from the shuttle back to the airport.
And finally… WHY are there SO many wheelchairs at the Orlando airport??
Debarkation took less than 20 minutes, so that was nice. We got to our shuttle at 9:30am, which was still too early for me since we had a 2:15 flight, but we made it okay.
I must say though that even though I’ve only been on two cruises prior to this one, this is absolutely THE WORST for “sea legs” that I’ve ever experienced. We landed in MN at 4:30 on Sunday and the second I was off the plane I started feeling the rocking and the nausea. Once I got home, it got worse. I had to put a patch on and get my feet in a warm salt bath. My legs are normally SKINNY and this day they were so swollen… hard to the touch! I’ve NEVER had that happen and it kind of scared me. I even took some water pills Monday morning just to get a jump start on things and it started to help around 9:00pm Monday night. I’m still rocking back and forth, sitting on my computer chair in a VERY stable Minnesota at noon on Tuesday.
Oh well... all in all, it was a wonderful time with my daughter and I. Even with the little things that weren’t perfect, the trip as a whole was wonderful. All except for one thing. My DD Julia has decided that cruising isn’t for her and she WILL NOT come back with me anymore. That makes me sad, but maybe after some time she’ll change her mind. One can only hope.
So… thanks for sticking it out (if you have!) for this crazy long review. I love writing and thought at least someone might be able to get something out of it.