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About caryatid

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  1. We are going to be on the Sunshine next month! What was your check-in time? We got 12-12:30, but I'm hoping to be on the ship as soon as possible. We live outside of Charlotte, so we'll be driving in that morning. I'd rather get their early and wait, if there was the potential to get on a little early. I can't wait for this vacation, my DH and I really need some down time!
  2. Did jacks have chairs/umbrellas for rent? I was thinking about going down there on our April cruise, my boys want to be on the beach as much as possible, and I know that my hubby and I are going to want to have a drink or two!
  3. You are off to a great start! I also have two little boys (6&9), so I love family trip reports! Looking forward to hearing more, we've never been on a ship as big as the Magic, but I'm planning on booking the Breeze for Spring break this year!
  4. There is hope even after your kids realize there is a world of Disney Cruising! We are a huge Disney family, The Disney parks and cruising are our two "go-to" family vacations. We took the plunge and took a Disney cruise last year even though the price tag almost made me pass out. Well, we had a lovely time, the cruise was exceptional, my kids had a blast- but our next two cruises are still with Carnival, because when I explained to the kids that we could take one Disney cruise or three carnival cruises- the kids wanted to go back to Carnival. My boys told me "three is better than one, Mom" and I couldn't agree more!
  5. We've done both the British Colonial Hilton and Breezes. If it is just adults, I'd do Breezes, the beach is beautiful, and it is a nice all inclusive. The architecture is a little outdated, but it was very clean. They also don't have top shelf alcohol, if that is important to you, I'd try Sandals. The only problem we found with Breezes is that the first few taxi drivers we encountered weren't enthusiastic about taking us out there, it is a little bit of a drive, and most drivers want to just do the quick atlantis and back route. We had no problem getting a taxi back to the port. The British colonial Hilton is nice with kids because it is walkable. The beach is fine, but small, and while the water was clean, we did find a lot of glass on the beach. It isn't all inclusive, but you do get a food and drink credit, which is good for a drink or two and lunch.
  6. I like to get there as early as possible! I have two small kids who don't understand the concept of sleeping in on vacation, so they are usually bright-eyed by 6 am. I am very respectful of other people in hotels, so I make sure to keep them quiet, but it isn't easy, not to mention stressful, and the earlier we can get out and on our way the better! Once on board the kids can get straight in the pool to swim and play without bothering anyone.
  7. I think being able to drop the kids off and letting the adults have a nice quiet dinner is a big perk of cruising carnival! When we went on our cruise in April, I would drop the kids off at kids dinner while my husband went and sat at our table. Once I got the kids checked in, I would join my husband at dinner and the kids would eat with their friends and counselors. Once kids dinner was over the counselors would walk the kids back to the kids club and my children would enjoy the evening programming until we picked them up between 8 and 9. My kids loved eating with the other kids and they loved their evenings at Camp Ocean. My children really hate eating at sit down restaurants and would have been miserable eating in the dining room. Kids dinner is perfect because they are separated from other adults, so typical kid squirming and loud talking won't disturb other adults, the meals are all kid friendly, and they are relatively quick.
  8. I'm loving your review! We are cruising the Paradise on 12/31 on the same itinerary, so I'm looking forward to a sneak peak! In the meantime I'm really enjoying your Orlando photos. If we aren't cruising we're vacationing in Orlando and spending time at the theme parks, and it is so nice to take a photo tour through some of my favorite places.
  9. It would be better if the sides were mesh! We had some luck tilting the clamshell forward a little, that let in some breeze from the back, but we are definitely bringing the fans next time!
  10. After dinner we went to catch the tail end of the string trios set, stopping on the way to take some photos around the ship. I loved the color changing lights and the mirrored ceilings random ship decor bird picture! Color changing chandelier We caught the last few songs, which were excellent as always, and then decided to try something different and head up to the casino. Mark and I aren’t big gamblers,in fact, casinos make me a little nervous because I don’t really know what I am doing and I find all the “serious” gamblers intimidating. All the same I figured I could at least give slot machines a shot. I found a machine called “Whale Song” which looked good tome, Foster has been obsessed with “sea creatures” lately, so I thought it would bring me luck. I took my $10, but it in and gave it a whirl. I still don’t think I know what I am doing, but it was fun and I was able to play for a while with my $10. At once point I had doubled my money (a whopping $20!) but I ended up losing it all. I decided I would try one more machine, and took my other$10 to Heidi’s beer house (or some such name). Our neighbors and best friends are German, so I thought maybe I’d have some luck there, but that machine pretty much ate my money and spit me out, so after that it was time to say my goodbyes to the casino. We went to pick up the kids who had a lot of fun at camp Ocean and took them up to get ice cream. I took Everett up to the soft serve machine first, and left Foster to sit at the table. In the 20 seconds it took us to get Everett’s cone, I came back to this. Foster is done! Foster was toast after two consecutive beach days! Everett ate his ice cream, we carried Foster back to the room and all went to sleep! Next up – our last day- Fun day at Sea
  11. Once back on the ship we got cleaned up and ready for dinner and I took the boys to the kids club dinner and then met up with Mark in the dining room. Silver Olympian dining room On this night I had the pumpkin soup, which was pretty good,and then I tried the escargot, which I wasn’t a big fan of. Pumpkin Soup I have had escargot a few times, but only at the Epcot food and wine festival, where the snails are in little individual buttered rolls. I found these escargot to be a little too rich, it was like a garlic butter gut bomb, so I only ate two. I’m going to pass on these in the future. I also did the flat iron steak with the pepper corn sauce and the creamed spinach as a side. I ordered the steak medium, and it did come out medium, so I was pleased. The cut was OK, not too fatty and I liked the sauce and the creamed spinach. For dessert that night I tried both the buttered popcorn pot de crème and the chocolate melting cake. I wasn’t sure if I would like the buttered popcorn dessert, so I decided to hedge my bets. I found the popcorn dessert to be OK, it was basically flan with a few popcorn kernels on top. I took a few bites, but I wouldn’t order it again. The melting cake was as good as always.
  12. After my walk I headed back to do some relaxing, watched theboys, spent some time in the water, had a drink and lazed away until lunchtime. View from my clamshell Boys hard at play Toes in the sand A little after noon we rounded the kids up and made them leave the sand to each lunch. Neither of them were really happy about it, but the promise of cookies eventually lured them away. I don’t have any pictures from lunch, because I had my hands full with the kids and plates, but it was typical picnic fare. The kids and I had hot dogs, Mark had a burger and we each had some potato salad and cole slaw and cookies. It wasn’t anything to write home about, but it was serviceable, and it is nice to have a beach day with lunch included. One thing to note (something I had missed prior to our cruise) is that bottomless bubbles doesn’t work on Princess Cays. I tried to get the kids a soda for lunch, and it was a no go. I’m sure this is in the fine print somewhere, but my husband signed up for the program on the Carnival website, and he either didn’t read it thoroughly or he forgot. The same goes for the Cheers program (we didn’t have it, but its also good to know). After lunch the kids played some more and then we took a little walk. I had noticed this morning that there were some cement pilings in the water next to the stingray enclosure and that you could stand in the water and see some fish there. The kids aren’t big enough or coordinated enough to really snorkel yet (well, maybe Everett could), but they could go stand quietly in the water and see the fish. I don’t really know the names of any tropical fish, but we saw some striped ones and some silver ones and a blue one and one with spots. Everett and Foster really liked seeing the fish, and I’m thinking we might do some practicing in the pool this summer with a mask and snorkel and maybe they’ll be ready for some snorkeling on our December cruise. The last tender back to the ship was at 4 pm, but around two the kids were getting tired so we decided to call it a day. It ended up being a good choice because the skies opened up shortly after we had gotten under the cover of the tender line. The line was long and it took us about an hour to get back, so I was glad we ended up leaving when we did. The boys were really good about the wait and well behaved on the tender back. For as tired and sandy as they were, there was no whining or meltdowns and I was really proud of them.
  13. Day 3- Princess Cays- con't I was also able to get some nice pictures of the ship The Carnival Liberty The Liberty from the cabana area The Liberty is ready for her close up I found the snorkel area, which looked really nice, it is something to look forward too when the boys get a little older. I walked back to where the tender docked and I made another discovery, if when you get off the tender and when facing the ocean, turn left,there are more beach areas over there that are much less crowded. We’ll certainly do that the next time we visit Princess Cays. The less crowded beach The beach was still nice on the left side
  14. Day 3- Princess Cays- cont Once the boys were busy and Mark was relaxing, I decided to take a walk around to check out all of Princess Cay. I made some important discoveries, like, don’t rent a cabana because they aren’t even on the beach! The cabanas looked nice, but they were up on a ledge, and there was no way to access the water or the sandy beach. I would have been really disappointed if I had rented one, and that’s probably why most of them were empty! Cabanas not on the sandy beach another cabana view The cabanas were up along this ledge, overlooking the snorkeling area View from the cabanas, pretty but no sand!
  15. Day 3- Princess Cays The boys were up bright and early this morning excited for another day at the beach! I had never been to Princess Cays before, so I was also pretty excited to visit a new island of the Bahamas. We headed down to breakfast at the buffet, which was wasn’t too crowded yet, we did a good job of missing the rush. While we were eating we started to hear some of the tenders being called so I encouraged the kids to finish up so we could go ahead and get off the ship. One of the things I was considering was purchasing Faster to the Fun, I thought that getting on early would be helpful and I wasn’t sure how tendering was going to go, so getting priority seemed like it might be helpful. Well, on both accounts I found that Faster to the Fun wasn’t necessary, we got on the ship lickety-split right after our 11:30 boarding time, and then we weren’t even ready to go for the first priority tender. We also didn’t have any problems that necessitated visiting Guest Services, so that wouldn’t have been useful either. In the end I’m really glad we didn’t purchase Faster to the Fun, I just don’t see the value for our family, and I won’t consider it in the future, but YMMV. Once we were finished with breakfast, Mark suggested we walkover to get our tender sticker, just in case there was a long wait. The tender sticker location was just past the casino, which gave my kids the opportunity to ogle the “arcade where you can win money”. My kids had never seen a casino before and it just blew their minds. They were particularly obsessed with the cash crane game, probably since they have seen so many of those toy cranes before. The first time we walked by it, Everett stopped dead in his tracks, stared at it for a second, and asked “Is that real money?” , you could see the wheels turning in his head- “you can win REAL money?”. I tried explaining to him that no one wins,just like no one gets stuffed animals from the crane game, but I think we might have a future gambler on our hands. He spent the rest of the cruise telling me that it “was only 10 more years until he could go in the casino”. Great, just great. Anyway, we went to go get our sticker, but apparently you can’t get a sticker until you are all ready to go, so back to our room we went to get our beach bags. Once we had gathered all our stuff, they were making announcements that there was a tender special and that anyone could go get on the tender without needing a sticker. That was super convenient, and we headed down to disembark. There was a line, but it went smoothly and quickly and soon we were seated on a tender headed to Princess Cays. On board the tender The Liberty from Princess Cays The first order of business was finding some beach chairs and hopefully some shade. We weren’t having too much luck with the shade part so we decided to rent a clamshell for$30. It was a great decision, I had a little burn from yesterday and Mark forgot to put sunscreen on his neck the day before, so he was really red. It was warm inside the clamshell, but it didn’t bother me too much, and Mark just got up and jumped in the ocean if he got too hot. Next time I think we’ll bring the battery powered fans we had for the kids strollers when they were younger. They wouldn’t take up too much space in the beach bag and the air movement would make all the difference. The beach at Princess Cays The kids wanted nothing to do with relaxing and headedstraight for the sand and water! Everett on the beach Now, I had heard over and over again about how rocky the beach was at princess cays and that water shoes were a necessity. I diligently packed them, thinking that the beach would be mostly rocks and I was really pleasantly surprised when we arrived. There is some crushed up shell/coral around the water line, but nothing too terrible, and we didn’t even end up wearing our water shoes. The beach was beautiful and sandy, it felt like paradise!
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