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  1. Great idea! Do you have a Cricut and like to do crafty things? I love my Cricut! I'll bet you could totally make something wonderful for Bimini...or anywhere else!
  2. Oh wow! I love that! I had just written in the post above that I always get a magnet. I have several magnetic boards on our kitchen wall with magnets through the years. When people come to the house they always spend a couple of minutes looking at that. LOL It's a fun reminder! I think your porch is awesome! Thanks for reading along!
  3. I know that Bimini only become a stop in the last couple of years, which is why I haven't been yet. It's the only one of the Bahamas ports that I haven't visited...most multiple times. I was really looking forward to the Sapona snorkel because I do enjoy snorkeling very much and the videos and such on that are very interesting. You can also climb up and jump off, which is exciting. My typical port purchase is a refrigerator magnet. LOL It isn't much, but I have magnetic boards on the wall of my kitchen with our travel magnets and it's a fun reminder of our trip! I don't know why they didn't have the ship specific magnets. They've had them on all the other ships. OH well, who knows?!?!?
  4. Monday, Feb. 6th - Bimini (or so we thought) Finally! The weather was beautiful, the boat had stopped rocking and Bimini was in sight! We gladly jumped out of bed, cleaned up, put on swimsuits and headed up to Lido for a quick breakfast. The sky was still slightly overcast but there were definitely areas of blue and some white, puffy clouds. This was going to be a great day. I ate my croissant rather quickly because I was anxious to get off the ship and start exploring this new port. Aaron was up early for some sunrise pics and as we were pulling into Bimini. Pretty sunrise Bimini in the distance We met Aaron, Liz, Lucinda and Derrick on Deck 4 to watch the ship dock. Aaron had been on deck since fairly early because he was taking some great sunrise photos (see above). The six of us were all snorkeling together. We were scheduled to snorkel around the Sapona shipwreck, and I’d looked forward to it for months. Bimini was coming closer and closer but then.....it was moving further away. Wait! What’s up with that! We sailed further out and started passing the island. You could see the island RIGHT THERE! What are you doing, Mr. Captain?!??! About that time the captain came on the speaker system and announced that our call at Bimini would have to be cancelled due to unsafe docking conditions. I could have cried! I’m looking at beautiful skies and glassy water. I can SEE the land right there! But alas, it was not to be. We slowly sailed away leaving Bimini behind us, further and further in the distance. It just seems too mean! We would later learn that although the surface of the water appeared calm, there was a strong undercurrent that was pushing the ship away from the dock. Aaron said he had observed this while taking pictures. Every time they approached the dock, the back of the ship would move away. They could not safely extend the gangway because the ship wouldn’t stay in one place. For that reason, we weren’t able to dock. It makes sense but it was still disappointing. Aaron and Liz on deck waiting This looks very much like a plan being hatched! Lots of people were waiting on deck.... ....including Derrick and Lucinda. Always having fun! Pure sass if you ask me! Apparently this is as close as I will come to snorkeling this winter! Ron turned to our little group and said, “Since we’re all dressed to swim, let’s find a hot tub!” We headed up to Serenity and found the hot tub at the top of the waterfall to be nearly empty. We all got in and sat around talking for the next 30 - 40 minutes. One thing about that particular hot tub....it was HOT! You couldn’t stay in it very long. Imagine lobsters boiling in a pot. I was feeling the whole lobster vibe. Although we missed Bimini and were definitely disappointed, we decided to make the best of the day we had and headed to our rooms to change and see what was on the new schedule that had just landed in the HUB app. Our towel animal for the day Lots of trivia was on the schedule so Ron and I joined Liz, Daryl and Frances to go play a couple of games. We didn’t win but it was still fun. After the trivia game was over, we caught up with Aaron and the four of us went to play mini-golf. Mini-golf on the ship is always challenging for me because the ball tends to roll around more than normal. I’m never a good golfer even on a normal day. Liz and Aaron play regularly at home, so I was proud to have a three way tie score with them. Ron had some bad luck with the wind and was a stroke behind the three of us. Aaron, Liz and Ron tee off I look like I'm trying to dance badly...no idea what I was actually doing! I know exactly what was going on here....I lost my ball. Oops! Still a little windy! While we were up on the Sports Deck, we decided to try out the ropes course, which was open. This particular course has a little different support system than the others I’ve experienced. All the other courses on the ships we’ve sailed had a fixed metal bar across the top of the course and your harness hooked into that bar. It didn’t give or sway at all. This one has two braided metal wires that went across each obstacle. It shifted way more than the fixed bar. For me, it was harder to pull myself up since I don’t have a tremendous amount of upper body strength anyway. Aaron preferred this system and was zipping around the course like nobody’s business. At one point I fell and was having trouble getting up on the platform. Aaron pretty much grabbed my harness and lifted me onto the platform. On the other courses it’s usually possible to make multiple laps but that isn’t the case on this course. You must go back down to where you were harnessed by the staff at the end of the course. Aaron and Liz on the course Ropes course finished, we headed down to get some lunch. Ron went to the Mongolian Wok. I got a salad and some pizza. We met up back in the Havana area. On the side of the Havana bar there were four trays. They had Cuban sandwiches (sliders really), pork empanadas, beef empanadas and a dessert that I can’t remember. Ron and I tried the empanadas and the sliders. The slider was the best of the three in my opinion. Both empanadas were a little bland. I noticed later in the week that they switched out the beef empanada for the chicken variety, but I never got around to trying that one. As always, I love the selection of cakes on the Lido during lunch. I think those are my favorite desserts during the entire cruise. They are better and have a larger selection than what is offered in the dining room in the evenings. After lunch we went up to Deck 10 to read. Most of our group went back to their cabins for a nap. We read for a little while but then followed suit as it seemed like a good idea. I had a little trouble going to sleep. I read a while and finally snuck down to Java Blue for a lemon meringue cupcake while Ron was still sleeping. It’s my favorite cupcake and I will get only one per cruise. When I got back to the cabin Ron was awake. Liz and I on deck Ron reading We decided to go see what we could find to do. In the hallway, we ran into Aaron, Derrick and Lucinda. They were going back to the ropes course so we decided to go with them. Liz was in the casino and opted not to join us that time. I knew Lucinda had wanted to try the ropes course, but I was a little surprised by Derrick. I knew he was afraid of heights, but he tackled that thing like a Boss!! I did better, too, this time and Aaron didn’t have to pull me up on the platform. We had a great time! Derrick on the course Lucinda on the course Togetherness! Ron made everyone stop on the same platform for a picture! After we finished with our second round on the ropes course, Ron and I decided to go visit the shops and see if we could find a ship specific magnet. No luck! This surprised me. I’ve never been on a ship that DIDN’T have ship specific magnets. Go figure. Liz told me she had looked for a Bimini t-shirt and couldn’t find that either. Maybe supply chain issues are still a problem? It was getting close to time to get ready for dinner. We had designated tonight as “Island Night”. Several of the guys had wanted to wear a Hawaiian shirt at least one night. Ron had several and always enjoys them. What they DIDN’T know is they were about to be pranked by the girls! To be continued........
  5. I'd never even been to one before. There are usually other things I prefer to do, but in this case, the timing was just right. I was happy that it was Frances who won. Liz and I have both sailed multiple times, but this was Frances's first and probably only sailing. Daryl says he had fun, but he doesn't want to do it again. He's the only one from our group who ISN'T ready to go again. LOL I wanted her to have a great experience. Thanks for reading along!
  6. Yes, I learned about that noise ordinance after the fact. It was definitely an interesting sail away.
  7. I wound up with a cancellation at work today so I'm going to try to get all of the first Sea Day posted. Here goes,,,,,,,,, Sun, Feb 5th - Sea Day Morning came as it typically does. We had slept in a little and awakened to discover that it was STILL cold and windy. (Ugh, what’s up with that!?!) The seas were rough. The ship was rocking. Water was sloshing out of the pool. Ropes course was closed. Many passengers reported being seasick. We didn’t have anyone in our group who was actively seasick, but several were wearing motion sickness patches and Bobby, especially, was not enjoying the rolling seas. I think he had forgotten to put on his patch earlier. Once he was wearing it, he felt much better. A few more of our group were not completely sick but not feeling great either. Not the best first day we’ve ever had! I had wanted so badly for their first cruise to be perfect in every way, but the weather just refused to cooperate. We still had a wonderful time and most of us were already ready to do it again. Bobby wasn't feeling well but he was still up and about We went to Lido deck for breakfast. If you read my Magic Story you might remember that I mentioned...several times...that the croissants really didn’t have much taste and I was disappointed because they were my favorites. Apparently, I mentioned it enough times that Liz was calling it “croissiantgate”. I am happy to report that the croissants were good, and my faith has been restored. Most of our group opted for the Sea Day Brunch and reported it was quite good. Not being big breakfast eaters, Ron and I usually gravitated to Lido for something quick and relatively light. After breakfast we headed down to Ocean Plaza for our first trivia game of the cruise. We were joined by Aaron, Liz, Daryl and Frances. The subject was General Trivia, and it was, as expected, quite difficult. We didn’t even come close to winning on that one. There was only one trivia game, so Ron decided to go read, Aaron headed for the casino and Liz, Frances and I went to the Fun Aboard, Fun Ashore presentation. Waiting for trivia to begin in Ocean Plaza I had never attended the Fun Aboard, Fun Ashore presentation before. Liz had attended a few and said it was interesting. It was held in the Liquid Lounge. There were quite a few people in attendance, which I’m sure was partly due to the bad weather. We sat in the balcony. As we entered everyone was given a ticket. They highlighted the various stores on the ship and available excursions at the two ports of call. Me, Liz, and Frances at the Fun Aboard, Fun Ashore presentation (I've probably mixed those up at least a couple of times!) They gave away lots of prizes. One of the last prizes available was a Beach Day for Two at Blue Lagoon in Nassau. Ron and I had visited Blue Lagoon in 2021 with Liz and Aaron. Half of our group, Emory, Cami, Kim, Bobby, Daryl and Frances had already signed up to do the Dolphin Encounter at Blue Lagoon. As Leon read off the number of the winner, I looked at my ticket and told Liz that I’d only missed it by one number. Now… you have to understand that Frances is very quiet. She nudged Liz and quietly told her that she had that ticket with the winning number. By this time, they had started to count down and they were going to give the excursions to someone else. I jumped up and started yelling and waving my arms. Frances started laughing at me. Leon yelled that I’d almost missed it because they had started counting down. I told him I was trying and to work with me. It was a big, glorious mess that culminated with Frances walking out with two tickets to a beach day at Blue Lagoon! It was something like nearly $200 in shore excursion value. As we walked along looking for the rest of our group, Frances said she wasn’t sure what to do with the tickets since she was already going to Blue Lagoon. She decided to give them to Derrick and Lucinda because they would have been the only ones in our party who hadn’t been there. We caught up with our friends and Frances told Lucinda that she’d like to give her the tickets. Lucinda was so excited! She gave Frances a big hug. It was a great surprise, and everyone was thrilled at Frances’s good luck and that Lucinda and Derrick would be going along to experience Blue Lagoon. It was lunch time and we headed up to the buffet for lunch. Different people got food from different places, but we ultimately sat in the Havana area to eat. After lunch, Ron and I played one more game of trivia, hid a duck and went to read and take a nap. The constant rocking and rolling WAS rather tiring! Gathering for lunch Lunch cakes are the BEST! (This is actually from the first day because that is Funfetti cheesecake however, there were great cakes EVERY day.) This would be elegant night. We all got dressed up and headed out to find a place that could handle a large group for a picture. I was trying to find our dining room but got turned around and made us walk around unnecessarily. I felt terrible about it! During our yearlong planning session, we had an ongoing group chat. That was a lot of fun. Emory had said I was his "Julie McCoy". Remember Julie from “The Love Boat”? Obviously, my cruise director vibe was way off this time because I totally lost our dining room! We finally were headed in the right direction, thankfully. The first couple of backgrounds we found couldn’t handle the large group. We finally found a setting on top of the stairs and another on the stairs itself that could photograph a dozen people at once. It took some doing but we were happy with the results. I was really glad we made the effort because I really wanted those pictures of our first cruise. (I seriously doubt it will be the last cruise together but still, this one was special.) On to dinner! As I said, tonight was elegant night. Several of our group opted for oysters. Daryl had been talking about oysters on the drive down and now as the time! Derrick had also mentioned oysters and was in full "eat-it-all" mode. Ron and I both had the prime rib. It was very good. The whole evening was a lot of fun. I think the dinners were some of my favorite parts of the trip because we were all together laughing and having a great time. Waiting for dinner to be served After dinner we headed back out to Limelight to see Carl Faulkenberry again. This time Daryl and Frances joined us. Unfortunately, it was the same show we had seen the night before. It was still funny, and we still enjoyed it. I had every intention of trying to make it back for his second show later in the week, but it just didn’t happen. Limelight Lounge After the comedy show we headed to the Liquid Lounge for the production show. It was originally supposed to be “Latin Nights” but due to the weather and the movement of the ship, they changed the show to just singing and did something called “Studio VIP”. It was very good, and we enjoyed it very much. The Playlist cast always does a great job. After the show we got some ice cream. Not long afterward Ron and I headed to bed. We were really looking forward to visiting Bimini since we’d never been there, and we were going to get to snorkel at the Sapona shipwreck. I love snorkeling! Ron and I waiting for the show Ron found a pirate duck! Our second towel animal On to Bimini! (to be continued.........)
  8. Thanks so much for reading along and I hope you have an awesome cruise! Not exactly an "assignment" as much as a surprise! Some of my pics are a little out of order but the story of those shirts will up in an upcoming post along with some more extensive photos. LOL The ladies were quite proud of that achievement!
  9. Sail away was at 4pm. It was cold and windy. (Did I mention that it was cold??) This was one of the stranger sail aways that I can recall. We took our place on the rail on Deck 11, expecting the music and dancing to get started at any time. It wasn’t to be. This was a quiet sail away. Too quiet. No music, no dancing, no blowing the ship’s horn. What’s up with that?? I would later learn that there is a noise ordinance in Charleston, and they cannot do those things that we normally do on a sail away. Go figure! It felt strange. Still....even though it was quiet, cold and windy (did I mention that it was cold??) it was still just as exciting as always. I LOVE that feeling of getting started on a new adventure! At one point Lucinda turned to us and asked, “Does it ever get old?” The answer is no! It never, NEVER gets old. Every cruise and every sail away is just as exciting as the very first cruise in 2010. I love them all! Port of Charleston Port of Charleston Port of Charleston Passing a fort as we sail out As we were standing on the rail, a very drunk man stepped up beside Aaron and started a conversation. He started off by asking if Aaron was drunk, too. The answer was no, not drunk. I don’t think he had even had an adult beverage at that point. The poor guy was on his first cruise and was scared to death. He proceeded to complain about the weather (It was cold and windy, you know.) and how he was nervous about sailing in the storm. At that point, Aaron started feeling a little “nauti”. (That was a terrible pun, I know! I’m ashamed. LOL) Aaron told the poor drunk guy that he had “checked the nautical charts and this would “be bad for the next couple of days.” The guy was dismayed. The wife asked Aaron why he’d told the guy that. The guy was ready to get off the ship immediately. Aaron thought it was hysterical because he had made it all up. He told them he was kidding. Turns out, Aaron was right! It WAS stormy and bad for the rest of the day and all of the next day! Could he have cursed us with his joke?? Hmmm........ Hanging out on the railing Getting ready to sail Lucinda's first duck Ron and I during our cold sail away We all stayed on deck in the COLD and WIND for about 30 minutes watching as we headed out to sea. We passed the little island with the cross. We passed Fort Sumpter. When it became apparent that there wasn’t going to be a party, we headed inside to get warmed up and cleaned up a little for dinner. Ron found a pirate duck on the way to dinner. So cute! I also set out one of my Valentine’s Day ducks. My ducks in a row First duck Dinner every evening with this group was so much fun! We all managed to sit together at a large round table. Our waitstaff consisted mainly of Oka and Gusti. They were awesome! Service was always quick and the food was very good overall. We didn’t have any evening when we felt that service was slow. It was probably one of the best dining room experiences we’ve had on our cruises. I had the chicken parm and finished off which chocolate melting cake (of course!). One aside, Ron and Aaron both had calamari and neither of them thought it was very good this time. Dinner - First night Dinner - First night While we had one of the large round tables, so did another group immediately behind where Bobby sat each night. He sometimes had a little difficulty hearing what we were saying to him because we were in front of him, but he had NO problem hearing what was being said behind him, whether he wanted to know or not! He heard one lady describe how she had worn the wrong undergarments and was having problems with them riding high and a gentleman who gave a detailed....very detailed....recap of his day at the spa. He didn’t relay much of what he heard and refused to give details, but it was definitely a funny quirk of his hearing aids. We love our “friends who have become family”! When the waitstaff did their song and dance the first night, Lucinda joined them. She’s amazing! Her energy and enthusiasm really set off our entire day and made everyone around her smile. The trip was off to a great start! Lucinda's first dance After dinner several of us went to the Limelight Lounge to see Carl Faulkenberry’s comedy act. He was hysterical! He’s definitely one of my top five favorite comedians that we’ve seen on a ship. If you have a chance to see him, I highly recommend it. He is from Texas and has sort of a deadpan style. It worked! We were laughing the whole time. Carl Faulkenberry After the comedy show we went to the Welcome Aboard show and met up with the rest of our crew minus Daryl and Frances who had gone back to their cabin to rest. There are large circular couches with some chairs behind them in the Liquid Lounge. These worked very well for us, and we tried to get one every time we went to a show or event in the theatre. We “met” Leon the cruise director. I loved him! He was so engaging and EVERYWHERE on the ship. They did the typical “shake the balls out of the containers” game and Playlist did an abbreviated show. The funny thing is, this would be the ONLY production show we would be able to catch for the entire cruise. The other nights were singing and a very small amount of dancing, apparently due to weather conditions. I wish those in our group who were on their first sailing could have seen an actual full-length show. Still, these were good. Kim commented at the end of the cruise on how much she had enjoyed the shows. I know she and Bobby plan to sail again so hopefully she’ll be able to catch a full production at some point. Leon, our cruise director, at the Welcome Aboard Show Goofing off....as usual! After the show, we pretty much scattered. Some went back to their rooms, some went to the casino, Ron and I took a stroll on the deck to see if the weather had improved (it hadn’t...still COLD and WINDY), got an ice cream and decided to call it a night. Our first towel animal was there where we got back. To be continued..........
  10. You know that every time I go to FL I can’t stay away from a port. Disney hasn’t “grabbed” me like that. Who knows what the future holds?
  11. That’s the ship we sailed from Norfolk. It’s an amazing ship. I know you’ll love it!
  12. I sailed from Norfolk in Oct. and very much enjoyed it. They are having some growing pains getting it figured out but I’m sure all they need is a little time. They seem really thrilled to be a year round port.
  13. I knew the ship would no longer be sailing from Charleston. I had read they were using the site for a retail development and some high end housing. Whatever it is, I hope it works out well for the city. It really is a beautiful area.
  14. Thanks so much for your kind words and for reading along!
  15. Hopefully you’ll get at least one last sailing before the big move!
  16. Thanks so much for your answer! I was reading a little about some of the plans for building on that site. It sounds amazing. I hope it works out well for Charleston. I know that the people I met in Norfolk are thrilled that Sunshine is moving there full time. Maybe it will be a great thing for both cities.
  17. Yay for another Mountaineer and thanks so much for reading along! Gotta love Tudors, lol
  18. Thanks so much for your kind words and for reading along!
  19. It does get a little rocky after we left port. Read ahead! LOL Actually, I've never been to Disney! When our kids were small, we simply couldn't afford it, (mainly because we had small children and they're expensive!). When they were older, they didn't want to go. We've just never gotten around to making the trip. Thanks so much for reading along!
  20. So before I get back to the Story, I need to introduce the "cast of characters" in photo. I should have done it yesterday, but it completely slipped my mind. Here we are... Ron and Michelle (me!) Cami and Emory Derrick and Lucinda Daryl and Frances Bobby and Kim Liz and Aaron So....on we go! Saturday, February 4th, 2023 - Cruise Day! After a couple years’ wait it was FINALLY time to get this group cruise started! Yay! (happy dance) I’m always like a kindergartner on the first day of school on cruise day. I am up with the sun and ready to roll! Ron and I headed down for breakfast. Hampton always has a nice breakfast included with the stay. They’ve never let me down yet! We were meeting all our group in the lobby at 9:45 to head over to the port for parking. We all had a 10:30 check in time. Liz in the lobby Ron, also waiting in the lobby. See how patient we are! (not!) Breakfast finished, bags packed...time to go! Daryl and Frances were again with us. They were a little nervous about the check-in process since this was their first time and we had promised to take every step of the way with us. We took a minute to download the HUB app onto Frances’s phone before we left the hotel. Cami and Emory took their car, Derrick and Lucinda took their truck, Bobby and Kim took their car and Liz and Aaron rode with them. Everyone was present and accounted for. Let’s get this show on the road! Charleston has a somewhat confusing boarding process like nothing else that I’ve experienced I any other embarkation ports. The cruise parking is relatively well marked along the way with signs but not all of them seem correct. It seems that some of the road signs might have been left over from previous parking configurations. The sandwich signs were more recent so between those and the port officials pointing us in various directions, we found where we needed to go without too much trouble. Cruise parking sign Parking in Charleston is one large open lot. When you pull onto the lot, you pay for parking. They slap a small colored sticker on your windshield. The cost is $105 for the five day cruise however, if you have a handicapped designation it is free and you park much closer to the check in building. I thought that was a nice touch. Parking lot After paying for your parking, you pull into a white tent. This is where you drop off luggage. Ron jumped out of the car, quickly gave the porters our luggage and jumped back in our car. We were then directed to a specific parking space. From there we would walk. Did I mention it was cold? It was STILL cold. It was in the 40’s at this point. The wind was blowing. I was freezing! Poor Frances was REALLY freezing! We hurried along a marked pathway that led to a metal building labeled on the side “Building 324”. Kind of like Area 51 maybe? This was the building where we would complete the first part of our check in process. We joined the line and in just a few minutes we were called up to check in and have our pictures taken for security. Daryl and Frances stayed with us through the entire process. The officials who were directing traffic flow let them go to the desk to check in with us. Just as we reached desk 1, desk 2 opened so it worked out perfectly and Daryl and Frances had no problems at all. We did the normal routine...check passports, check boarding pass, take picture...you know the drill. We were then free to sit until our boarding number was called. Our entire group of twelve checked in and sat down. This entire part of the process probably took less than fifteen minutes. It was running quite efficiently. Check-in area We joined the line and in just a few minutes we were called up to check in and have our pictures taken for security. Daryl and Frances stayed with us through the entire process. The officials who were directing traffic flow let them go to the desk to check in with us. Just as we reached desk 1, desk 2 opened so it worked out perfectly and Daryl and Frances had no problems at all. We did the normal routine...check passports, check boarding pass, take picture...you know the drill. We were then free to sit until our boarding number was called. Our entire group of twelve checked in and sat down. This entire part of the process probably took less than fifteen minutes. It was running quite efficiently. Checked in and waiting to load a bus to go to the ship and final security check Once our boarding zone number was called, we were loaded onto shuttle buses for transport to the ship. You could see the ship......it would have been a short walk....but you MUST take the bus. Most of our group was loaded onto one bus and it looked like Ron and I were going on a separate bus when they discovered there was still room for two more on the first bus. We climbed aboard and were on our way for a very short ride over to the ship. We were all excited. Some of our people were seeing a cruise ship up close and personal for the first time. I remember seeing Sensation the first time back in 2010. Even now, I still get goosebumps when I see the ship. The security check-in is right after the bus ride. You go into another building, the terminal building if you will, and are immediately sent to the lines for metal detectors and scanning. If you've read any of my past reviews, you know that I don't always have the greatest of luck with security. For some reason, I always seem to have done something wrong, be wearing the wrong thing or just get randomly selected for "enhanced screening". I always try to be very careful and check the rules beforehand, but it still seems to catch up with me. I'm proud to say at this time, I breezed right through! Yes! Now over the years, my dear sweet girl, Liz, has given me no end of grief over my various brushes with security. I am the mildest mannered and innocent person she knows apparently. She was actually on hand to witness the TSA debacle in the Concord, NC airport (see the Sunrise story) and that has become one of her favorite "Michelle" stories. Today would be a day of retribution! Yes! Like I said, I sailed through security with no problems. My halo was intact and shiny. You must have been able to see the goodness glowing in my face. OK, maybe not, but still, they didn't give me a hard time. Maybe I'm getting better at the whole "security" thing. Liz was in the line beside me. She was stopped for having a small pair of scissors in her bag. She kept insisting that she didn't have any scissors in her bag, and they were proceeding to go through the offending bag. In the meantime, the rest of our group was going on through security with no problems other than Bobby having to have his new knee wanded. (Wanded....is that even a word? Spell check says it isn't. If it isn't, then it SHOULD be.) Come to find out, her bag and Derrick's bag had somehow been confused. He DID have a pair of scissors, but SHE got blamed for them. Justice, I say! Knowing Derrick, he may have found a way to plant them in her bag. If that's the case, I owe him big time! Everyone was through security, everyone had backpacks and such and we immediately proceeded to boarding. Whoopie! We were going on a cruise! My first step on board!! I always love walking into the atrium the first time on each ship. We stepped into the Sunshine atrium, and it didn’t disappoint! There is a huge “sun” light fixture directly over the atrium bar. Above that are multiple strands of large silver balls going all the way up to deck 9. I loved it! This was one of my favorite atrium decorations yet. Sunshine atrium Looking down into atrium Immediately upon entering the ship, we proceeded to the muster drill. Our particular muster station was outside on deck 4. It was VERY windy and VERY cold but also VERY simple. Basically, it went like this....we walked up to a crew member, she asked if we knew how to wear a life jacket, we said yes but that fortunately we had never had to use one yet...and just like that, muster was finished. We didn’t even watch a demonstration. I love e-muster! I was grateful that it was short, and we could get back out of the wind and cold asap. (Did I mention that it was cold?) By the time we completed the boarding process and checked into our muster stations it was about 11:45. Time for a Guy’s Burger! I really didn’t think I was hungry at first and planned to just get something to drink. I got a drink of water and sat down at our table inside the Lido dining room. It was too cold to stay out long. (Remember how it was cold?) Everyone else went and got whatever lunch they wanted and came back. Most opted for a Guy’s Burger. The lines weren’t very long, and the food looked pretty good. Maybe I was hungry after all! I went to Guy’s and got my burger, too. I might have seen Liz with an ice cream cone even before we sat down to eat but I could have been mistaken.....or not. Derrick announced his intention to eat it all. I’m not sure he managed to get the job done but he made a valiant effort anyway. Does this look like a face that just had ice cream!?!? Boarding finished.....check! Lunch consumed...check! Liz had ice cream....check! Time to explore! We headed to the top deck with Liz, Aaron, Derrick and Lucinda. It was cold and windy. Did I mention that already? We visited the sports deck and Serenity, checked out the ropes course and mini golf and gave it all the "once over". It was too cold to stay out long so we went down to decks 3, 4, and 5 to see what was available inside. Lido Deck Sports Deck/Water Slides/Ropes Course/Basketball Ropes course Deck 11 Aaron just before his haircut. See??? It was cold! Funnel and big screen Serenity Serenity Walkway over Atrium Casino Walkway to Ocean Plaza on Deck 5 Java Blue - check out those lemon meringue cupcakes if you can! Ocean Plaza (or trivia central) Alchemy Bar Red Frog Sports Bar Taking a break in the sports bar Liquid Lounge (also served as a muster station) Entrance to Liquid Lounge Dining Room Bonsai Sushi Carnival Sunshine used to be Carnival Destiny. It had a huge remodel in 2013 which included the installation of some of the newer (at that time) features like the water park, Guy's Burgers and Blue Iguana. Emory commented that it still felt like and old ship and he's absolutely right. It DOES still feel like and old ship. They've done a great job of remodeling and adding some newer features but no matter how much lipstick you put on it, it's still an old ship. I'm a real estate appraiser and I look at houses every single day. Many of these houses are old...some VERY old...and many of them have been beautifully remodeled. No matter what you do to it, it is still an old house. That's not necessarily a bad thing but simply a fact. There is a certain charm to an old house and, likewise, a certain charm to an old ship. This ship has a different layout that seems awkward at first, but actually worked well for us. In most of the ships, you go out the back of the Lido restaurant to an outside area, usually called Tides, and that's where you'll find the pizza place, the seafood place, a pool, some loungers, and the Tide's Bar. This is NOT how it works on Sunshine. The entire back part of the ship on the Lido deck is Cucina, Havana and Ji Ji's. Cucina and Ji Ji's are on either side with the Havana Bar in the middle and all three share a dining area. This would prove to be a great set-up for us. We tended to congregate there, and everyone could get food from whichever area they preferred. After completing our "walk about", it was nearly 1:30 and time for the cabins to be opened. We met Ketut. He told us to simply call him "K". That always made me think of Men in Black. He did a great job and was so personable! Our luggage was already there when we entered our cabin, and we immediately unpacked. One thing we quickly learned about the Sunshine crew was that they had their act together! Everything was ready and attended to quickly. There were zero problems. It was some of the best service we've experienced on a cruise. Our room - we almost always get an interior cabin because we are rarely there other than to sleep or shower and change. Bathroom We unpacked and rested in our cabins a bit. We had all activated the chat feature, which was very convenient. I had brought along a magnetic whiteboard hoping to put it up in the hall outside our room so we could write notes, if necessary, but the magnets weren't strong enough to make it work. The chat feature worked beautifully and was a much better option. Liz and I had made door signs for everyone else to help remind us who was in which cabin. The signs went up and we settled in. Time for sail away! Our door sign Door sign Door sign Door sign (We were docked beside this building which appears to have been burned at some point. From looking at past photos, it seems to have been there for a while. Does anyone know the story on this???) To be continued......
  21. That's great! I hope you have a wonderful cruise and thanks so much for reading along!
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