Day 1 – Embarkation.
We live in central Florida, so we are able to make the 45 minute drive to Port Canaveral easily. We used Park ‘N Cruise which was a little less than $50 for the total bill. So when you get there, you drive into this pole-barn type of structure, and they check your reservation. Then they whisk you all out of the vehicle, saying “one of you move the car, one of you pays”, and before you can even comprehend what they have just said, all of your luggage is out of your car, and moved over to wait for a shuttle! Very, very efficient.
We arrived at Park ‘N Cruise at about 11 AM, and once we had the car parked it took about 10 or 15 minutes to wait until the shuttle was filled to drive us over to the port. It is a very quick 5 minute or so drive over to the port. It started raining on the way over, which was kind of a bummer, but you don’t have to stand in it too much, most places you have to walk are under cover.
We had gotten a letter from Carnival, in addition to a automated phone call, saying that we should not show up to the port early as they would not be boarding people until at least 1:30PM due to a “scheduled Coast Guard inspection”. We decided to show up early anyway, and take our chances. We were able to start the boarding process immediately upon arriving at the port. YAY!
We purchased FTTF for this cruise. We were off the shuttle and onboard within maybe 10 minutes. Once onboard, we went directly to our room to drop off our carry-on luggage. Our room was ready as advertised. So we headed up to the Lido deck and had our first drink at the Red Frog Rum Bar! There was a fairly substantial line to purchase the Cheers program, and/or soda cards that sort of wrapped around into the rain. We got soda cards for 3 of the 4 of us, but we just went to one of the bars to purchase them instead of waiting in that long line. We had also considered getting Cheers, but after a LOT of thought, we decided to just pay-as-you-go instead. After a drink, we went to Tandoor for lunch, and it was very good.
At this point we headed back to the room and half of our luggage had already arrived, the remaining half came a few minutes later. So, we unpacked and got all settled in for our fun-filled week! We went exploring for a bit and got some blended coffee drinks (awesome!) and headed back to the room for sail-away. Just to review for others considering FTTF… we were happy we got it, and will do it again if it is offered.
We had early seating, and were in the Crimson upper dining room. We did not have any other table mates, and our servers were awesome. We had Inyoman and Sityono (I’m pretty sure I’m spelling those wrong!) They memorized who we were immediately, and called us by name every time we were there. I have read all the reviews recently and all the negative comments about the food and service in the dining room, and am happy to report; we did not experience any of that! Our bar waiter was prompt, and brought soda’s every night as we arrived. We also ordered wine and drinks every night, and never had a long wait. Our food was always the correct temperature, and the flow was smooth… I don’t think we were ever there longer than an hour and 15 minutes.
The first night I had the linguini with sausage and bell peppers as an appetizer, the beef briscuit, and crčme brule. It was all very good, and we all enjoyed our meals.
After dinner we went to make our nightly donation to the casino, and after that we found more desserts in the “Sweet Spot” in the back of the Gathering buffet area. I think we spent some time on our balcony then for a bit… I remember it was quite windy that first night and there was a lot of motion on the ship. Then I believe we called it a night and went to bed.
Now is as good a time as any to talk about the Cove Balcony. We had mixed feelings about it. We enjoyed being so close to the water, but when it was windy, we felt it was quite loud. The room itself was mostly quiet – I did notice some noise coming from the floor above us from time to time. It wasn’t what I would call “bothersome”, and it didn’t keep us awake or anything, it was just there. We also didn’t like the lifeboats being right overhead… it cut down on some of the night time scenery for us. We did see a bunch of flying fish, and one morning (I think Cozumel) we saw dolphins – so that was pretty great!
Also, having four (including two teen aged girls) in one room was tight. I knew it would be, but I’m not sure I would do that again. Our room steward Christine, was so great. She knew which one of us was which without us introducing ourselves! I don’t know, she must have looked at our photos for the S&S cards or something, but it was impressive! She did a great job.
Next up… Day 2 – Sea day.
Bahamas Celebration - April 2012
Carnival Dream - April 2013
Carnival Glory - March 2015