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samiam0403

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About samiam0403

  • Rank
    Cool Cruiser

About Me

  • Location
    Mexico Beach, FL
  • Interests
    Cruising (obviously) and enjoying my retirement!
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    Thanks to NCL's drink package shenanigans, I no longer have a favorite cruise line.
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call
    Wherever the ship is going.

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  1. Hi all - sorry for disappearing for a bit; we had an emergency with one of our doggos so I've been remiss in posting over the last week. I'll get back to it this weekend, though!
  2. I sailed on Horizon last November, and was blown away by how much I loved the ship and crew. After 20+ Carnival cruises, it easily is my favorite Carnival ship (after the old no-longer-owned-by-Carnival Holiday, of course).
  3. Day 19 - 21 March 2019 - Marseille - 1130-1800 - I woke up early (for me) at just before 0900. R was still sleeping soundly, so I went to turn the espresso machine on, and then slipped out to the balcony to see the sights as it warmed up. It was a beautiful, clear, warm day - should be perfect for exploring Marseille! Hello, France! I would have to revise my planned outfit though - I had expected it to be much cooler. No need for jeans and a jacket today! However, R woke up a little after I did, and upon checking his e-mail, found a message from our contractor who needed some signatures on our permit before they could start working on our roof. Looks like we’ll have a later start in Marseille than originally planned, as R needed to find the business center on the ship to print out the documents and get them sent back. An inconvenience, to be sure, but the sooner the work starts on the house, the better! Happily, his trip to the business center was short, and customer service was able to get him pointed in the right direction to get everything sorted. We were able to make it off the ship at 1130! Since we had no plans again today, we thought we’d just walk to the city - it’s worked fantastically well in every other port so far. 30 minutes later...this port is MASSIVE! We were just 2 in a large number of people from the ship who had the same idea, and were kicking ourselves that we hadn’t purchased the round trip bus tickets on the ship for 7 or 8 euro each. Ah well - lesson learned. We finally came across a bus stop, with a machine for purchasing bus passes. Perfect! We waited in line, and bought 24 hour bus passes for around 5 euro (maybe?). Bus route info: And then we waited. And waited. And waited. After 30 minutes of no bus, we decided to follow a French couple from the ship (who seemed to know what they were doing), and walked to the next bus stop. 15 minutes of waiting - no bus. UGH! Finally we gave up and just hailed a cab across the street. Luckily, my ‘used to be fluent, but it’s been years since I’ve used it’ French was able to get us exactly where we wanted to go. I asked for the city center, and a restaurant - one with wine and cheese preferably. He proceeded to talk to us in French the whole cab ride, and I probably got about 50% of it. He dropped us off at the old marina, which was surrounded by a ton of restaurants and shops. We walked around the marina a bit, admiring the gorgeous boats, and finally located a nice looking restaurant with open seats outside. (We do love our people watching!) I (of course) ordered a glass of rose wine and a cheese plate, and R ordered lamb kebabs. Foooooood! The cheese wasn’t as good as the local ones I had on Lanzarote, but it was tasty. R was unimpressed with his first bite of French ‘cheese’. He scooped up what he thought was cheese with his knife and popped it in his mouth. It was butter, to go on the French bread, but I couldn’t warn him fast enough as I was swallowing a bite of cheese myself. I. Was. Dying. After I finally stopped laughing at him, we finished up our snacks and enjoyed the sunny weather and people watching. At one point, a busker set up across the street from us, and began to play music on his guitar. What made him stand out was his big dog that laid next to him, HOWLING during parts of the songs. Such a good boy! We loved it! We finally decided to go walk off lunch, and walked all the way around the marina. Random Marseille pics: It was a gorgeous day, and a lovely walk, and apparently today was ‘Samantha belongs in France’ day, as multiple people from the ship and/or tourists approached me to haltingly ask directions to something in French. After a fantastic, perfect day, we walked back to where the cabs tended to be and hailed one around 1630. We got back to the ship around 1700, and were surprised to see so many people hanging about the atrium with their life vests on. Ah yes, lots of new people boarded today, but it couldn’t have been too many as their muster drill was in the Piano Bar. We sat at the atrium bar for a cappuccino, then headed to the room to see what was for dinner. Our menu was waiting for us in the room - dinner tonight is the French menu: I honestly couldn’t tell you what we had tonight, as I was starting to come down with a bit of a sore throat/sinus-y thing and went to bed super early. It was definitely good though (otherwise I would have definitely mentioned it!), and our favorite waiter Jignesh tried his best to help me kill off the sore throat with tons of prosecco and wine. 😄 After dinner, we went to the cabin to relax, read, and try to get to sleep early since we’ve an early day in Savona tomorrow. We put out our room service order for breakfast in the morning, and snoooooooozed.
  4. Hi Deb! Thanks for reading! I wish I could help on the menu piece, but I really don’t know. Since we were ‘assigned’ to the Club dining room, I don’t even think we could have eaten in the main dining room. Hopefully another seasoned Costa cruiser who has cruised in multiple cabin categories can help answer your question! I hope you have the best time on your cruise!
  5. Day 18 - 20 March 2019 - Sea Day - Today we thought we might have gotten to bed early enough last night to get up early enough for breakfast, but no such luck. We slept until after 0900, and enjoyed another lazy morning. There was a disembarkation briefing at 1015, but luckily it was just for those guests disembarking tomorrow in Marseille. It was a chilly morning, so we just puttered about the cabin with our books and espresso until it was time to get showered and head to lunch at noon. Lunch was delicious - we both had pork cordon blue and amaretto mousse (and a salad for me). After lunch, we stopped at the atrium bar for cappuccinos, went and checked out the photos we had taken last night when we were all gussied up, stopped by the duty free shop for some lotion, and then had planned to attend today’s cultural lecture (Marseille Through the Ages) - but we mixed up the times and there was another event happening instead. (Turns out we were an hour early for the lecture - oops.) After that, we headed to the atrium for a cocktail, then headed to the casino to see if we’d be lucky. After a few hours, R couldn’t win to save his life, and I couldn’t lose to save mine. I walked out with 750 euro (lots of small/medium wins!), cashed it out at the casino cage, and threw it in the safe. After some more time spent enjoying the balcony and our books, we decided to head to dinner at 1815 so we could make tonight’s show. Surprisingly, the Club Restaurant was fairly empty when we showed up at 1820 (normally you can’t get a window seat if you’re not there at 1800), and we had our pick of 2 top window seats. We sat in our favorite waiter’s section, and he promptly brought a glass of champagne for me, and San Pelligrino for R - pretty standard, actually. The menu tonight was the English menu, and I was hoping for shepherd’s pie - happily, it was on the menu! R and I both skipped the antipasti. I ordered the linguine with beef ragout, and R had a salad, then we both had the shepherd’s pie as our main course. He had the no sugar added lime and mint parfait for dessert, and I had the paradise cake. We were both happy with all of our selections! The theater show was an acrobatic show, by a Spanish group - Ice Air Duo. We got there early enough to get our favorite end seats towards the back, and settled in for what we hoped was a good show. It turned out to be our favorite show of the cruise! It was 2 men, who performed a Cirque du Soleil-type show involving contortion, hoops, silks, trapeze work, aerial straps, and more. It really was an incredible show, and I have no idea how difficult it must have been doing it all on a moving ship. After the show, we thought about staying up for the 2230 live show “Cabaret2” which was to be put on by the ship’s animation team, but we felt like we’d be disappointed after the amazing acrobatic show. I had to catch up on my writing anyway, so off to the cabin for us. Reading, balcony, sleep. The usual. The only different thing today was the notice tucked into our mail box for Marseille - basically a terrorism alert telling us not to linger in large crowds, pay attention to our surroundings, etc. Having been in the military for so long, this is all second nature to me, so I’m not too worried about it. We’re supposed to arrive in port tomorrow at 1130, and I’m curious to see how things work when some passengers are disembarking for good, and loads of us are staying on for another week. Guess we’ll find out. We put out our room service order form for 1000 tomorrow. A nice late morning, followed by absolutely no plans other than to walk around and get lost in the city. Can’t wait.
  6. It was a Costa trip - on port days where we found something we wanted to do that was a full-day excursion, or would cut close to departure times, we booked with Costa to be on the safe side. I think it was around 150 euro each? It was a full day and included lunch and the tickets for the cable car ride (just under 30 euro each if you buy them yourself), so we didn't think it was toooooo bad.
  7. Thank you! Hubs was pretty apprehensive about the length of the cruise, and the sea days, and was surprised at how much he enjoyed them. Excellent question on the menus - I would have thought the menus (at least while we were in the Caribbean) would be similar to menus for US cruises. Maybe someone else can chime in? We were of the opinion that if there wasn’t anything we loved on the menu, we could always get a steak and were happy. The amount of moaning and complaining was CRAZY! And yes, we experienced the same thing; one of our favorites - ‘there’s a reason they call it Costa - it’ll ‘Costa’ you a lot of extra money!’ 😂 Probably because we were in a suite, but the only things we paid extra for was the 4D movie theatre and our pizza/hamburgers (which are free at lunch). Maybe if you book a ‘basic’ cabin, there’s a lot more upcharges?
  8. Thank you! I feel like it was about a 50/50 split. People who dressed up generally really dressed up, and the other half went with comfy, casual clothes. I wouldn’t worry too much about it if you’re not a dress up guy!
  9. Day 17 - 19 March 2019 - Malaga, Spain - 0800-1400 - This was another port that we had no plans in, and due to the time change, we slept in a bit, and woke up around 0900 and headed off the boat shortly after 1000, without having had breakfast. Our plans were simple - walk around town, and find a restaurant for breakfast and coffee, then walk around a bit more before heading back to the ship for the all aboard time of 1330. Luckily, the port is near town, and we found a gorgeous path leading along the beach with shops and restaurants. Unfortunately, nothing opened until 1100, so we walked a good long while, enjoying the view, and watching the locals as they jogged, bikes, and generally enjoyed the sunny weather. We finally found a spot right on the beach as they were opening, and had a full breakfast with orange juice and coffee for 6.50 euro each. The food was delicious, and we enjoyed our coffee so much that we ordered another cup each. After soaking up the sun and ambiance for an hour plus, we finally headed back so we could be on board by 1245 or so. The weather was perfect, and the views were heavenly. The port also has a LOT of local and duty free shops in the main building, so we did some shopping, picking up a Christmas ornament, some body wash for R, and some duty free cigarettes that were much cheaper than on the ship. Once on board, we dropped everything off in the cabin, then changed into swimsuits and coverups and headed to the spa. One of the perks of our suite was a 1-day spa pass - but we could only use it on port days. With today’s short port time, we figured it was the perfect time to use it. The spa was almost empty when we arrived, and we enjoyed the tepidarium (a mid-temperature room with heated stone loungers). We then moved on to the other room with heated stone loungers, but this one was more sauna like - but the views were spectacular, as the wall was all windows. There was also a thelassotherapy pool, that I thoroughly enjoyed, R not so much. I went back and forth between the pool and heated stone loungers for a few hours - R headed back to the cabin after an hour or so. After relaxing in the spa, it started to get more and more crowded, with people talking loudly in the quiet rooms, so I went back to the cabin at around 1630. Tonight is gala night, with the Officers’ Grand Ball (where you can dance with the officers), as well as the main theatre show, ‘The Tree Gees’ - a Bee Gees cover band. We got dressed in our nicest clothes (a suit for R, a shiny silver and black dress for me), and headed to dinner at 1800. Having not eaten since breakfast, I was starving! The menu for tonight: R and I both started with the Veils of Parma ham and mozzarella, then I had the Imperial risotto, and Pink point veal fillet, while R had the Hunters chicken stuffed tortellini, and the slow cooked lamb ribs. Everything was absolutely fantastic, whether it was due to being the Chef’s Gala Dinner, or the fact that (per one of our favorite waitress’ intel) people from ‘corporate’ had just joined the ship, I don’t know. But everything was fantastic! We were even lucky enough to catch a beautiful rainbow off in the distance over the water just before sunset. After dinner, we made our way to the Tree Gees show, not really knowing what to expect, but honestly thinking it would be a cheesy cover of Bee Gee’s songs by members of the on board entertainment staff. We were definitely mistaken! Our first clue was the stage - set up with a piano/keyboard, a full drum set, a guitar, and a bass - no pre-recorded tracks for this show! We were pleasantly surprised by the Spanish band that quickly had the crowd clapping, dancing, and singing along. It was a really fun evening, even if we saw quite a few older folks leaving mid-show. They don’t know what they missed! After the show, we each took a few euros to the casino, played for a bit, then the standard return to the cabin for reading and enjoying the balcony.
  10. Day 16 - 18 March 2019 - Sea Day - today was a late sleeping day for us, as we were instructed to move our clocks forward at 0200 this morning. We enjoyed our espressos (our butler did replace our espresso machine yesterday - lucky for him!) and books on the balcony, and relished in having nothing to do for the day. We read, walked around the ship, and were 100% lazy. We spent quite a bit of the afternoon in the casino, missing the Cultural Lecture (Moorish Spain, rise and fall of al-Andalus a bit on purpose, and skipping the show (Gente di Mare - the Crew’s Show) in favor of being gambling degenerates and visiting with fellow cruisers and crew that we’ve come to enjoy chatting with. Tonight’s menu was the Piemonte menu, but R had reviewed it earlier and said there was nothing on it that looked good. (Unfortunately, I had a look after we ate dinner, and found a few things I would have enjoyed sampling! Note to self: don’t trust R’s opinion on the dinner options!) We instead ordered a pizza and lemon pie to go from the pizza place, and enjoyed dinner and an early bed time in our cabin, largely due to the early arrival time in Malaga tomorrow.
  11. Day 15 - 17 March 2019 - Lanzarote - 0800-1700 - At 0845, we were awakened by a tapping that I thought was rooms service. Nope - instead it was a maintenance crew on the lido deck 2 floors above chipping away at old paint. I stumbled over to the espresso machine since I was already awake, and it wouldn’t turn on. Definitely not a happy camper this morning. Luckily, our butler showed up with breakfast (pancakes for me, an omelet for R, and cappuccino for both of us), and I explained to him the issues we’ve been having with the espresso machine. He was convinced that since we turn it off at night (to prevent the flashing lights going off all night), it just took longer to wake up. I explained to him that it was taking 5 presses of the button to fill a tiny espresso cup, and he seemed to brush me off. Grrrrrrrr. And of course it worked for him after he turned it off and back on again about 20 times. Sigh. I went to make another espresso, and of course after he left, it took 5 pushes of the button to fill the cup again. R took it upon himself to call the butler and request another machine. He stopped by the room again, and made an espresso with one push of the button, all the while holding the water receptacle in tightly. He seems to think the water tank just isn’t attaching properly. R firmly requested another machine, as it shouldn’t require us to stand there holding the machine together to get it to make a decent cup of espresso. He stated he would deliver one today. Let’s see, shall we? On with today - we had no excursions planned today, only wanting to wander around the city and maybe find a bit of local shopping and a good restaurant for lunch. The weather was much cooler and windier than it was in Tenerife, so it’s time to break out the warmer clothing I packed. Jeans and a jacket dug out and thrown on, and it was time to go. We were happy to discover a pedestrian trail leading to the city center, that traced along the marina. It was a beautiful day, and a scenic walk that took maybe 15 minutes. After occasional stops for pictures, we broke off from the trail to head into the main part of town. The city of Arrecife is stunning - it reminds me of Greece, with its white and blue buildings. I took quite a few photos of painted doors that caught my eye. After checking out a few city streets where most everything was closed, we realized that it was Sunday, and we were more apt to have luck in finding a spot for lunch by the water. Luckily, the malecon was exactly what we were looking for - we found an outdoor cafe on the water called La Raspa that had tapas and wine. Perfect! I ordered a glass of local Lanzarote white wine, and R ordered fizzy water. We enjoyed the day and the views for a while until we started feeling hungry. When we were finally able to get the waiter’s attention (it was a busy day at the cafe, with lots of locals - which is always a good sign), and requested menus. The menu was quite seafood heavy, as expected, but R and I each found exactly what we wanted. I ordered the local cheese plate, and he ordered eggs and chorizo, that came on top of French fries. The food was easily the best we’ve had since we left home in February! We enjoyed our plates of food, and then realized we should probably head back to the ship as it was getting close to 1500. We would have preferred to stay and have more food (even though we weren’t hungry at all!), but the ship waits for no man (or woman). We took a leisurely stroll back to the port, and arrived at 1530 or so. Heading back to the ship: We stopped at the atrium bar for some beverages to go, and then (as usual) headed back to our cabin to enjoy the balcony and our last views of Lanzarote. We sailed away (mostly) on time, and the moon over the peaks of the island was a gorgeous last view. Lanzarote has definitely piqued our interest, and we’re looking forward to coming back to explore the island some more in the future. After some reading and relaxing, I decided to check and see if our nightly dinner menu had been dropped off in our mailbox yet. It had been, and as I started planning my evening’s meal, I realized that the cheese and bread hadn’t quite filled me up quite as much as R’s full lunch, and was feeling a bit hungry. Tonight is red and black night, so a black pair of pants and burgundy (close enough) silk shirt will have to do. We finally headed to dinner. R and I both started with the caciu, then had the chicken bites with Alfredo sauce and rice, and finished with the mango and coconut cream. Everything was good, and unfortunately, we were at dinner a little too long and missed tonight’s flamenco show in the main theater. We instead headed to the casino for a bit, then as usual, headed back to the cabin to enjoy the balcony and our books before turning in for the night.
  12. Day 14 - 16 March 2019 - Santa Cruz de Tenerife - 0900-1700 - Our alarm went off bright and early this morning at 0700. This gave us time to get vaguely human and have an espresso before room service showed up (and to catch our first sunrise on the ship!). Room service showed up right on time at 0735, and made for a good start to the day. R ordered the steak and eggs, and I ordered a bacon, mushroom, and green pepper omelet with croissants (the toast is a bit hard and chewy by the time it gets delivered, we’ve found), as well as 2 cappuccinos. After our leisurely breakfast, we headed to the theater a little early to meet up for our tour - only to be told that our tour was meeting at 0930. Luckily, the bar outside the theatre was open, and we had a chance for more coffee! When we went back in at 0930, everything ran like clockwork. Clear announcements and directions were given, and we were debarking the ship by 0935. At R’s request, we had booked the full day tour of the National Park, including lunch, and the cable car ride up the Tiede Volcano. The morning was sunny and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky - looked like a perfect day for sight-seeing. We were led out to a large touring bus, and with our combined grouping of English and French speakers, the bus was about a third full. The drive to the location where the cable car started at the bottom took about 2 hours, with a stop at a pull off with gorgeous sweeping views of the national park. The guide narrated the entire way, describing vegetation, animals, the history of the island, the topography of the island, etc. It was all very interesting and informative. She did a fine job of narrating each bit in English first, and then French. View of the volcano from the bus. Once we got to the cable car boarding area, she asked us to wait on the bus while she went and procured our tickets - they came with a scheduled time, so we got to avoid the majority of the long line. It was a little cooler there, and I was glad I’d brought a sweater. We finally started moving, and we had our picture taken, then waited for the next cable car. The ride up took 7 minutes exactly, and we were told we had to be back at the bus at 1330. The car was packed on the ride up, and the views were stunning. When the car reached the top of its tracks, the doors opened, and we realized it was much colder and windier at the altitude of over 11,000 feet than it had been at the bottom. But with the day bright and cloudless, it more than made up for the discomfort of the cold. We marveled at the views, and hiked up the trail for a bit. The thinner air made even our short hike much more difficult than we had imagined! After enjoying the views for around an hour, we thought it would be best to head back down in case there was a long line for the cable car return. Luckily, the line was short, and we were back down the mountain after the first car arrived. I made sure to firmly place myself at a window for the ride down (I’d been shoved away from the window on the ride up), and was able to enjoy the views of the volcano on the ride down. We had about 35 minutes to wait before we headed to the bus, and so purchased some bottles of water, and took some more pictures. We were back on the bus at 1325, and then were forced to wait as one of our fellow passengers had disregarded the return time, and the guide went to look for him. He finally was brought back at 1350, and we headed off late. The guide informed us we would stop for lunch at a local restaurant, have one more scenic area stop for pictures, then head back to the ship. Lunch was delicious (at Restaurant Bamby), and consisted of a small loaf of crusty bread, a fantastic soup filled with potatoes, carrots, yellow squash, and zucchini, then a roasted quarter chicken with potatoes, and ice cream and a banana for dessert. There was also a large bottle of water and a bottle of red wine at each 4-person table. They finished the meal by pouring coffee for everyone. We were ravenous (having eaten breakfast at 0700) when lunch was served at 1400 and it was a delightful meal. We had to be back on the bus at 1500, so it was a fairly quick affair by European standards. Everyone made it back on the bus on time, and we then drove another 30 minutes or so before stopping at a scenic outlook that was at the base of the observatory built on one of the high hills in the park. More pictures were taken, and then we hopped back on the bus for the long ride home. We were much more tired than expected, and our guide knew we would be - as she narrated for a few more minutes, then put some Canarian music on the radio and told us to feel free to nap for the rest of the drive back to the ship. I instead decided to enjoy the views, and after another hour of driving, we finally arrived back at the ship at about 1635 (all aboard time was 1630). We were the last group to board the ship, and we were quickly aboard and sailed out only a few minutes late. The sail away from Tenerife was gorgeous - with clouds just starting to pour over the tops of the mountains surrounding the port. We were exhausted, and contemplated napping and ordering room service, but decided instead to just watch the sunset over the mountains, then head to dinner. R wasn’t hungry, but still ordered a salad and the pork ribs. I was starving, and ordered the country mushroom and sour mashed potato pie (delicious!), the pumpkin soup (piping hot and less pumpkin-y than I imagined, but still good), and the pork ribs (meh - I’m not a huge fan of ribs, but they were tasty). We skipped dessert and our nightly cappuccino, instead hoping to get some good sleep tonight. R decided to swing by the buffet and gather up a few desserts to bring back to the cabin to nibble on later, and I wandered down to deck 2 to get a glass of wine to take back to the cabin. We somehow managed to meet up just outside of our room, where our butler had just gone in to do turn down service. Deciding to give him some time, we went down to the casino to play for 30 minutes or so. Then I grabbed another glass of rose to take back to the cabin, and we were in for the night at 2130 or so. We did some more reading, and turned in early after filling out our room service order form for the morning, with a requested delivery time of 0900-0930.
  13. We had one in our shower on Deliziosa in March - I used it quite a bit!
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