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Everything posted by handbellplayer

  1. Thanks. I have emailed them a second time to ask about this. Their first response was that I had to book through the cruise line (but they don't offer this excursion or anything like it).
  2. Truth - there are some that will argue otherwise, but it makes no logical sense!
  3. I would love to do the luxury day sail, but when I go to book it on their web site, it only offers hotel pick-up, not cruise port. We are on RCCL, and they don't offer it as a ship excursion. Did they pick you up for the excursion you bought direct?
  4. We used our RCCL CC points for our Celebrity cruise last year. Works like a charme through the website Bob mentioned above.
  5. We have sailed Celebrity in the past and had the Elite benefits.
  6. Some background: This was a family cruise to celebrate the high school graduation of our older granddaughter. There were seven of us – Poppy and Nana (both 65), older son (41) and his daughter the graduate (18), younger son and his wife (late 30s) and their daughter (3). We take an annual family vacation each year and gave the graduate her choice of destinations; she chose a cruise. Poppy and Nana are Diamond on RCCL. We last sailed on Carnival 20 years ago. (A bit of trivia – we sailed on Destiny, Sunshine’s former identity, when she was new, 25 years ago.) We didn’t want to travel to FL with a three-year-old, so we started looking at Carnival Sunshine out of Charleston. Five days seemed like a reasonable duration, so we booked it. In order to make things easier with the little one, we did a couple of things – purchased FTTF and a villa at Half Moon Cay. Both were good investments. Due to the awesome help from folks on this board and a lot of research, I felt like I went into the trip well-prepared. In general, I was pleasantly surprised by Carnival and Sunshine. I will try to make some fair comparisons of the two lines. Carnival pros: The Hub app was really useful. For $5/pp for the week, we got a chat feature which was really helpful ( I guess some RC ships have this, but we've not been on one). Also, we all got acceptable internet for about $10 a day/pp, compared to RC price of $15.99 (I think) A minor thing for some, but I enjoyed it - the shower was twice as big as a standard shower on RC. The casual dining options were awesome - the burgers, pizza, and Mexican casual eateries were absolutely delicious. Far and above the same foods on RC. HMC is beautiful - soft sand and great swimming. Of course, the villa made it such a wonderful experience - I would highly recommend it for a group of our size or larger. The food at the the island buffet sucked, just like it does on CocoCay and Labadee. I thought the dining room meals were slightly better - maybe because I was just happy to have new options. They had a "port of call" option which was interesting. I had shrimp and grits the first night and it was really good. We had great service in the MDR, but it's the first time we've done traditional dining in a long time, so that may be the difference. The waiters were wonderful, especially bringing out fruit, etc. to keep the little one satisfied. I thought the desserts were better than the ones we've had recently on Royal. The Serenity deck was amazing. More beautiful than any Solarium I've been in. Entertainment - (we didn't do any production shows) We've been very disappointed in the musical entertainment in smaller venues on RC recently. It seemed like there were more pre-dinner music options on this ship. We are big trivia people and there were lots of games and trivia events on this ship. The cruise director's staff were very personable and enthusiastic. They have something called the Sea Day brunch - a really nice upgraded menu in the MDR that we tried the first sea day. Dr. Seuss breakfast ($5/pp) was well done and the little one had a blast. Carnival cons: The pool was ridiculously small for the number of people. The little loved the little splash area in the water park area and the graduate liked the big waterslides and the ropes course. Bar service - bar waiters were almost non-existent (only encountered a couple at the pool) and there was a shortage of bartenders everywhere. It felt like it was a struggle to get every drink. The ship was difficult to navigate - lots of areas you couldn't get to without going up or down a level (may just be Sunshine). The casino was very smoky, especially the casino bar area and it seemed like you had to walk through it a lot to access other areas. Even: Standard buffet was very comparable. Balcony cabin was comparable to a standard balcony on Royal. Service was very good (other than the bar staff issue). The ship was maintained well, much like an older Royal ship. I don't think we'd sail on this particular ship and itinerary - we don't like short cruises. But if we got a deal good enough to cover our free and D lounge drinks and had an interesting itinerary, I think we'd consider Carnival again.
  7. Thanks! I’ll certainly report back. Being closer to the port is definitely why we choose this cruise. We didn’t want our other son and his wife to have to travel so far with a toddler.
  8. To all of you on the Carnival boards. We are leaving tomorrow morning for Charleston to board Sunshine on Monday for a 5-day cruise. We are celebrating the high school graduation of our older granddaughter, who requested a family cruise as her graduation gift from Poppy and Nana. The party also includes our 3-year-old granddaughter. We are experienced cruisers on RCCL, and I would be totally comfortable with all of the details if we were sailing on Royal. We have not sailed on Carnival for many years. I so want this cruise to be a great experience for the whole family. I have purchased FTTF and rented a villa on HMC. I 've had so many questions, and the folks on this forum (for the most part) have been so kind and helpful. It has made me vow that I will try to be more helpful to those asking questions on the Royal forums. Thank you!
  9. Thanks to all of you who made helpful suggestions - I am not usually this clueless - I am a RCCL cruiser who is very comfortable with their procedures. I purchased FTTF for this cruise because it is a family celebration for my granddaughter's high school graduation. We have another grandchild who is a very active (and not very patient) 3-year old and I'm trying very hard to make this a happy vacation for all.
  10. OK - just checked our luggage tags and there is a symbol that says FTTF (didn't see it before) - thank you! I will watch to make sure we get the stickers.
  11. Thanks - I'll show them whatever documentation I have. I'm puzzled why Carnival doesn't tell you about these extra steps you need to take to get what you've already paid for.
  12. I'm a little confused. The only thing I have documenting FTTF is our boarding docs - so I need to show them to the porters?
  13. What did you show them to get the special stickers?
  14. I meant - making sure that the porters put the special sticker on our luggage. So that's never been a problem for you when you had purchased FTTF?
  15. Sorry - is that a southern expression? Just to clarify - it means bug/bother/insist. My point was that the passenger (who has paid for FTTF) has to make sure that the porters do what one would assume would be automatic.
  16. OK - so let's see if I understand. In addition to paying for FTTF, I have to dog the porters (who couldn't care less, in my experience) to put special stickers on our luggage? I thought paying for FTTF ensured that our luggage would get priority. Wow.
  17. Thanks to all of you for the advice and clarifications!
  18. Our luggage tags say FTTF. I doubt that a short summer cruise will have a lot of cruisers with status. (Our 16 day Panama Canal cruise on RCCL in October, on the other hand.....half or more of us will Diamond and above, I'll bet!)
  19. We actually sailed on Carnival many years ago and enjoyed it. We've stuck with Royal since then because of loyalty rewards, but have also sailed NCL and Celebrity. We are not picky cruisers - I've never had a bad cruise! We are so happy to be able to cruise from Charleston instead of FL ports!
  20. Although this would be really nice, it's not why I booked FTTF - I wanted the immediate cabin access and the priority tendering. The dedicated GS line is nice, too.
  21. I thought one of the benefits of FTTF was getting your luggage early. Thanks for the info. It just seems like a strange way to do things - probably because I'm used to a different procedure.
  22. I'm gathering from reading some posts here that you don't get your S & S cards until you get to your cabin. We have FTTF and can go to our cabins as soon as we board. How do they keep people from roaming the halls, taking your card and charging things to it? Also, if your luggage is already in the cabin, couldn't someone let themselves in and go through your luggage? Do they have the doors to the halls monitored so that only FTTF people can enter? (We are used to Royal where you get your cards at check-in and no one can access their cabins until they open the doors to the halls.) What if you need to charge something before you go to your cabin? We are sailing on Sunshine out of Charleston if that makes any difference.
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