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Spaniel Lover

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Everything posted by Spaniel Lover

  1. American Eagle is the first of twelve new "Coastal Cats" for American Cruise Lines. Even though construction completed over two months ago, and she's completed quite a few cruises with passengers, it seems like there are very few actual photos or videos of the ship online. Even on the American Cruise Lines web site, instead of actual photos, they're still showing a series of computer-generated artist's concept drawings of the ship. If you'd like to take a look at how American Eagle actually turned out, and see some of the gorgeous scenery on the Maine Coast where she did some of her recent cruises, have a look at this video I made:
  2. Two of my recent cruises have used Starlink as the Internet Service Provider, including a recent cruise on Celebrity Solstice. I had high hopes that Starlink was going to improve the quality of Internet access on cruise ships, but in both cases, the Internet connection was quite slow. Take a look at this video where I show you the specifics of the Internet speeds I was able to get using Starlink on cruise ships, compared to a much faster connection I had recently on a cruise ship that was not using Starlink.
  3. I've been running speed tests all week long, just to verify that the results I had early on we're not some fluke. Upload speeds have been consistently better than what I got in that other test I posted, and ping times, too. Download speeds have remained close to what I originally showed you.
  4. I was recording a time lapse video last night at the cruise ship dock in San Juan when I saw something I've never seen before. Here's the video: Valiant Lady retrieved her mooring lines and began her regular scheduled sailaway. She didn't even get a ship's length away when she came right back to the dock and tied up again. She stayed tied up for about an hour before finally sailing away for good. I'm told by a passenger onboard Valiant Lady that there was a last minute medical emergency.
  5. Yeah, a professional film crew gets access to the bridge, but a lowly YouTuber does not! 😄 But I did almost get a similar shot. Do you know who Calvin is? I ran into him when I had my camera with me, and I introduced myself and explained about the "new ship smell" video I was trying to make. I asked if he'd be willing to let me sniff him for the video. Unfortunately, he claimed to be forbidden from appearing on YouTube.
  6. I know, right?!? She was a great sport about it, and totally willing to play along. Obviously, I told her exactly what I was going to do. I asked her to look at me suspiciously. She came up with the rest.
  7. Back in 2008, Carnival made a classic television commercial to publicize the debut of Carnival Splendor. The commercial featured an actor stopping at various parts of the ship and taking a deep breath in through his nose to appreciate the "New Ship Smell". You can see a copy of that old commercial here: I've never forgotten that funny old commercial, and since I'm sailing aboard the new Carnival Celebration this week, I thought I would create a tribute to it. (Some might say a parody of it.) Here's my version: No copyright or trademark infringement is intended towards Carnival Cruise Line. I'm actually a big fan, and a Diamond-level VIFP member. I would love to hear your comments about my version of "New Ship Smell"! Post them here, or feel free to post them on YouTube.
  8. The speed test I showed you earlier was done at 6:38 AM... before most of the other passengers were awake and using their devices. I thought it would be a good idea to do another test at 11 AM when presumably I would be competing with a lot of other passengers for bandwidth. The download speed was only a little bit slower, at 61 Mbps, but still excellent for a cruise ship. Surprisingly, the upload speed was hugely better than it was earlier, and the ping time was improved by a bit. All and all, a stellar connection... and I was easily able to upload a short video clip to Facebook this morning.
  9. I've been on plenty of cruise ships where I was lucky to get 5 Mbps. When I booked the cruise, they were offering a deal where premium Internet service was included in the cruise price.
  10. I'm onboard Carnival Celebration this week to shoot some new videos for my YouTube channel. I noticed that the Internet service seemed fast, so I decided to run a speed test this morning while we are at sea. The results surprised me. 92Mbps download speed! That's fast for a cruise ship! Another pleasant surprise was last night's entertainment on "Center Stage" in Celebration Central. They had some really great live music during what was basically a welcome aboard show, although they didn't call it that. This is my 58th cruise overall, and I've seen a lot of musical entertainers over the years. The ones they've hired for Carnival Celebration are really good. I remember the days when Carnival's idea of good live music was to hire a Phillipino cover band that would work for cheap. They've come a long way since those days. I've read a lot of bad comments here on the Cruise Critic boards about Center Stage... so I was delightfully surprised by the show and the venue last night. I liked it a lot more than I expected to. The sound in that venue, especially up in the seats on the 7th floor, is really good. I tried a couple of different seating locations to see how the sound differed. The worst were the seats up on the 8th floor... as there is a lot of noise from people walking by, and loud people at the bar. The best sound is on the 7th floor, in what are essentially balcony seats hanging out over the 6th floor, where the stage is. One bad surprise was to discover that they took the Trash Can Nachos off the menu at the Pig & Anchor. This is a huge personal loss for me, but I will stay strong and cruise on. Thankfully, the brisket is still as good as I remember it.
  11. If I lived in Miami, I probably would be! But I'm at the far opposite corner of the country... so, I can't just pop over to smooze with the Carnival brass at the naming ceremony. But I'll be getting aboard the new ship quite soon. I just don't like to book the very first cruise, or even the first couple of cruises of a new ship, because I know the crew needs time to work all the kinks out of their processes. Heck, even when I sailed on MSC Seaside when she was new... and they had been doing cruises for about two months before I got there... the crew didn't know what the heck they were doing. It was the most disorganized cruise I had ever been on... and a good reminder to give a crew a little bit of time to figure out how to do everything the best way. Carnival crews seem to be a much sharper bunch than the folks working for MSC, plus I'm sure there have been a lot of lessons learned from Mardi Gras... so I'm pretty confident that they'll be pros by the time I get there a few weeks from now.
  12. I didn't see that. I just went over to FB and looked through all of John's posts from this morning and didn't see anything about Diamonds & Platinums, other than where he showed the lounge where they would wait before boarding. Perhaps you could bring me up to speed by summarizing whatever it was you read.
  13. Thank you... that's very nice of you to say. We'll be on Carnival Celebration, next month... and of course, there will be videos on my YouTube channel about it.
  14. I'm just curious... Were you not impressed with it based on a sea day lunch you had there? Or did you dine there for dinner? I'm not all that impressed with the sea day lunch buffet they offer outside the Pig & Anchor... but the sit-down dinners inside the restaurant, I LOVE those. The dinner at the Pig & Anchor is completely different than what they serve at lunch time. I worry that people might be un-impressed with the lunch, and then never try the dinner version. Do try the Trash Can Nachos sometime, if you never have. They are unlike other nachos you've probably had.
  15. They offered me the whole range of arrival times, as early as 10 AM. I chose the 10:30 - 11:00 arrival time window. Boarding group is B. I'm assuming A is probably wedding guests or perhaps people in wheelchairs.
  16. I'm a little surprised that no one has mentioned the Pig & Anchor yet. For my money, it's the best value in premium dining on the ship. The prices at the Pig & Anchor (I'm talking about food prices at the restaurant at dinner time) are very low, and those smoked meats are fantastic. The brisket... the ribs... ooh, I can't wait 'til I can eat there again! Also, be sure to try the Trash Can Nachos. That Guy Fieri really knows how to cook! I was just watching a video from the British YouTubers, Ben & David... who do a lot of cruises on Royal Caribbean and Norwegian, in addition to British lines like P&O. They did their first Carnival cruise (on Mardi Gras) and when they got to the Pig & Anchor they were just RAVING about how great the food was. I thought "finally, someone who appreciates the Pig & Anchor as much as I do!" On a 7 night Carnival cruise, it's not unusual for me to have dinner at the Pig & Anchor three times during the week. I can have a nice steak dinner at several different restaurants in my hometown for less than the cost of a meal at Carnival's steakhouse, and in a much more comfortable, casual atmosphere. The whole presentation at Carnival's steakhouse is a little stuffy for me. But the Pig & Anchor... now THAT'S my place when I'm onboard a Carnival ship!
  17. Yep, I see they fixed it now. I was able to go in and select and arrival time, and now I have a boarding group number. Thank you all for your comments... you saved me having to bother my travel agent!
  18. I'm diamond level in the VIFP program, and just checked in for my upcoming cruise. Upon completing the check-in process, I was issued my final documents including the boarding pass. On my boarding pass, there is no arrival appointment time listed, it is just blank. Same for boarding zone... that field in just blank on the boarding pass. Is that because I am in the diamond group, or did I miss a step in the check-in process? If diamonds don't get assigned an arrival appointment time, can I just show up at the Miami terminal at 11 AM and check in? Thanks for your help. This process is slightly different than the last time I cruised with Carnival, thus my confusion.
  19. Prior to the Puget Sound cruise, I did the Columbia/Snake River cruise and then the Upper Mississippi cruise.
  20. If you'd like to see a 19-minute video that tells the full story of all the places our ship visited during the week, head on over to my YouTube channel. You'll find it there. https://www.youtube.com/user/jimzimmerlin/ That's the story of my Puget Sound cruise on American Constellation. If you have any questions, I'll try to answer them. But be aware that if you ask questions weeks or months after my original post, I most likely won't see them! I'll be checking this post for question for about a week after posting this.
  21. Still photos are great, but a video is even better! Have a look at this video I made about my visit to Butchart Gardens...
  22. An unexpected benefit of this trip was getting to know the man in this next photo. His name is Jim Walker, and he is a historian that was traveling with the ship to inform the guests about the history of the places we visited. He was one of the most interesting and charming guys I've ever met. Hotel Manager, Rick Di Censo, was also a real pleasure to sail with. He was very cooperative with my mission of shooting photos and videos of the ship. I also snapped pictures of a few of the deck hands , and thought I would include them here in case someday any of them (or their parents) do a Google search for American Constellation. I think it will be a nice surprise for them to find these pictures...
  23. On the way to our next port of call, Port Townsend, I saw another beautiful lighthouse... While in Port Townsend, I had a burger, fries, and a shake at this 50s-style diner... Our final port of call was Poulsbo, Washington. From my drone, I was able to get this shot of the ship anchored just off Poulsbo...
  24. The highlight of the entire cruise was a day trip in to British Columbia, Canada, to visit the world-famous Butchart Gardens... The most famous scene at Butchart Gardens is this view of "the sunken garden" as seen from an overlook above it. Almost everyone that visits Butchart Gardens comes home with a shot that looks a lot like this! This is just one of many beautiful water features at Butchart Gardens...
  25. The next day, with the ship docked in Anacortes, I went on a boat excursion exploring the area near the north side of Whidbey Island. This is the Deception Pass Bridge that links Whidbey Island to the mainland of Washington. I like the photo because it really captures how beautiful the scenery was in this area. Another very scenic place the ship visited was Port Angeles, Washington. You can see the Olympic Mountains in the distance of this shot. With a big telephoto lens mounted on my Canon DSLR camera, I got this more detailed view of the mountains...
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