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About Sabalon

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    Cool Cruiser

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    Atlanta Metro Area, Georgia
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  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call
    Half Moon Cay

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  1. We didn't eat anything, drink anything ant Magen's bay...just played in the water. While the beach is long, the swimming area doesn't go out that far - plenty far enough for everyone there. We didn't rent any of the kayaks or anything, but the area for them was limited as well - a 30ft area beyond the swim area. Mind you, it ran the length of the beach, but it's not like you can just go anywhere in the bay. There is some sea grass in the bay, but plenty of areas where there isn't. Saw lots of fish swimming with us. So I don't know if some people were expecting something different, maybe found the food lacking or something. Also, the top of Paradise Point is just a building with some vendor stalls. Lots of t-shirts, but nothing to amazing...you're there mostly for the view but made a nice lunch stop. So perhaps they were expecting something different there too. The excursion isn't something amazing - you're not going to have monkeys climb on you, or laugh in the face of death (though some of those hills!!!) But it is a nice couple hours at the beach, some nice views, and an easy day.
  2. Fantasy was our first ship 6 years ago (wish we had started this earlier but too scared I'd get seasick - I don't). So I think it gave me a soft spot for the older and smaller ships.
  3. Most of the time they are very peaceful - you have to go down a windy passage to get to them as the front of the ship is closing in for the bow. If you look at the deck plans, you can see the way they stagger in like steps. When they are in a tender port and drop the anchor, you know that the anchor is going down. This doesn't last too long, but it is loud. The other noise you will hear is the bow maneuvering thrusters. These are mainly used for the finer movements when they are going in to dock, which of course usually happens in the mornings! It is a constant noise, semi loud, but something that you can roll over and go back to sleep with (at least we could). To me, it sounds like someone is running a vacuum a few doors down the hall. It is possible you'll hear the water sloshing around, but that will be minimal, and compared to the other two, pleasant! But even with all that, I'd book them again in a heart-beat. I get motion sickness, and even though you're on the bow, first to hit the waves, it never bothered me at all. I also attached the picture (from the Glory) which is where my daughter spent a lot of time reading and hanging out. Plus the natural light is nice!
  4. Thanks for asking this and for Schoifmom for answering. We will crest the hill to the next level on the embarkation day of our next cruise (and will languish on gold for years.)
  5. Yes. Admission to Magen's Bay looked to be $5, Skyride is $21. Taxi approx $12 - so $38 probably to do it yourself, maybe cheaper with a group for the taxi. Carnival charged $59/pp. Had a great driver who told us all about the island and we didn't have to try and find a taxi at Magen's Bay (though it appeared there was lots of transport) So paying for removing some of the hassle.
  6. So may variables. Just got off Conquest yesterday. Usually the onboard stuff (hub app, pixels etc) was very fast, meaning the infrastructure on the ship isn't the issue. I had the social plan and it was hit or miss - text was good, images not. Guessing as it gets more popular the link gets saturated, especially as everyone is settling in for the night and going online. 6am it worked a lot better! Could also be more people with premium getting priority on the bandwidth. But if you had premium and it was still crap, who knows. Overusage or bad uplink I guess.
  7. Lots of them for about $20. Most of them appear to be buy now, not an auction, so no idea of if they are actually selling or not. Some of the fun squad were pointing out they sell on ebay and laughing at it.
  8. This gets a bit long, but if you have any questions feel free to ask away, I'll do my best to answer. Haven't been home 24 hours yet, but figured I need to write this while fresh in my head. I normally do these grouped by topic - so don't expect full chronological order. Also, I'm pretty easy going, so things that may be a show stopper for some, I may not care about. In other words, I'm on vacation and it takes a lot to make me have a bad time, so this will not be a super-critical write-up. This was our 5th cruise, 4th with Carnival, and one with RCI due to who booked that. This is our second time on a Conquest class ship, which seems to be just about the perfect size. This was our 25th anniversary, and we delayed figuring out what to do, so we booked this a little late in the game and there were not many cabins left! We were in stateroom 6348, which is a balcony room (a first for us). We had Your-Time Dining and Faster to the Fun. And this seems to have ended up longer than I thought! Getting there... We live just outside of Atlanta. Miami is a LONG drive, and since it was just the two of us, it was cost effective to fly. We flew into Ft Lauderdale. Southwest was the airline of choice because the ticket price is roughly the same, but they don't charge for bags, which would have been an extra $400 round trip. We debated how to get to Miami. We could have done all public transit for about $10 each. But in the south Florida heat, that is a pain going between three trains (TriRail, MetroRail,MetroMover) hauling everything. We looked at Uber/Lyft, but for the XL we'd need it was about $60. We chose to rent a car one-way from FLL to return at MIA. This was cheaper than the Uber and let use do things. While in the Ft Lauderdale area, we stopped by Rock n Roll Ribs, which is owned by the drummer from Iron Maiden (been a fan for 35 years). Good food at a reasonable price. Just a small little place, but loved it. We were able to stop at Publix and get our one bottle of wine per person, find an ATM, etc. It made getting there more convenient for us. We stayed at the Hyatt Regency Downtown, which I had booked on Hotwire. I put that off too long and could have had a better deal, but the 23rd floor had a nice view. They had a Caribbean Cooking Conference in town, lots of chefs from the island competing. Would like to have seen more of that - but fun talking to people. Anyway, we drove to the hotel, parked long enough to take the luggage up to the room, freshen up, and just miss the free 30-minute parking. We drove the rental to the Miami airport. This was the worst part. Traffic was miserable. I'm used to Atlanta traffic and this was similar, but I was a stranger in a strange land so it seemed more frustrating, especially having to fill the tank on the rental - note: do not use the shell station right by the road to the rental car center -they are a full dollar higher than the next gas station which is a hundred feet away. We returned the car, took the MetroRail from the Airport to Government Center downtown, which is where you can transfer to the free MetroMover. We took that a few stops which dumped us near a place name Cafe Manolo and Rene Grill. A little Cuban cafe. Finally got my Cuban coffee and some Cuban style food. We may have been the only non-locals to have been in there, but great place, great service, nice people. We then walked up to the Bayfront Park, took in the sights, and walked the RiverWalk back to the hotel (or as close as we could due to construction) and went to bed. We walked to a local CVS the next morning to get a couple things, had breakfast at a place called the Egg Spot, which was pretty good - just a random little cafe with some good breakfast sandwiches, and went back to get ready to head to the port. Boarding and Setting Sail Last time out of Miami, we drove to the port. This time, we had to rely on Lyft, which I had never used before. This was 9:30ish. We were in the hotel lobby. I put in the Port as the address and it gave me an estimate of 15 minutes for pickup and a 8 minute drive. Sounded great. It told me my driver was going Delso and showed me his location on the map...basically the next street over, so we headed outside and he was pulling up. Nice guy - made me a Lyft fan. Some small talk during the ride and he dropped us right outside the Terminal C for the Conquest. So we were at the port and in the Faster to the Fun line at 9:45ish. We were the fourth group in line. Because of all the unknowns as for getting to the port, having to check out of the hotel, etc, this was one of the reasons for getting FTTF. That way we could just start out vacation without any hassles. At 10am they opened the door to get use checked in. It's been a few years since I've been on Carnival. I will say that their new check-in system amazed me. First person you talk to is a nice Carnival rep who verifies your travel documents. Once those are in order, they use the iPad or iPhone or whatever device it was to take your photo that they used to do at the counter with the webcam. This process took all of 3 minutes for the two of us. Then we go to the security scanner...... So I don't travel lite - we had our bathing suits and a few other things in my wifes bag, and in my backpack I had my kindle, notebook, DSLR, GoPro clone, assortment of chargers, CPAP, two bottles of wine, metal water bottle, and who knows what else. Her bag went through. Mine was scrutinized for a minute or so. Two agents played with the xray for a minute, pointing at this and that, and then they were done. At no point did they look at the wine bottles, the water bottle, or anything. Not that I'm advocating it, but I feel I could have brought almost anything on board in a wine-shaped bottle. Also at no point did we get the questions about have we been sick, etc. We just headed up to the waiting area. At 10:10, we were hanging out in the FTTF waiting area. They actually moved us because they said we'd be loading from the other gangway so we'd be sitting closer to that. At this point, I did have a message from Bank of America - even though I setup a travel advisory for the islands we were going to, they flagged an ATM withdrawl on the drive from Ft Lauderdale. So I called and cleared that up. At 10:30, they started boarding those needing assistance and Diamond members. Since they were boarding on the west and the 10 of us in the FTTF were boading on the east, they went ahead and started to board us. They didn't have the picture thing setup for the embarkation day photo, with the fake backdrop (hate those anyway). At 10:34, we were onboard the ship heading towards the atrium lobby. We went ahead to our room. They were still turning most of the rooms around, but our door was closed. From what I read online, the room key should be in the mailbox, but nothing was there. We found someone and asked him, who in turn found our room steward who had to pull the envelope out of his stack after looking at our boarding pass...that simple. Honestly, I think they started the boarding without everyone being ready for it. By 10:40am, we were in our room. I know they say that embarkation day is one of your cruise days, but this is the first time we've been able to have that much of it. We looked out the balcony view, took pictures, changed into bathing suits and went up to Lido. The main pool was closed - netting over it. This seemed weird, but like I said, since we got on so quick, we figured they just weren't ready. We had lunch then. Guy's Burger and Fries! While I didn't have anything from the Lido lunch buffet, it looked a lot better than I remember it...I think they upped their game. I did have dessert though - WOW. German Chocolate Cake was great. They all looked so good, and tasted good too - just couldn't resist - it was vacation and calories are free 🙂 We went back out and the pool was still closed, and they were cleaning the deck area around it still, so we set down for a minute, and then I remembered a feature of the Conquest class ships. We walked all the way through lido to the aft and the adults only pool there. Open and empty. I was able to have my mojito in the pool. We had that pool to ourselves for about an hour. They do need to make the adults only sign bigger, but they had a staff member asking anyone who looked too young their age and not letting them in. I felt bad, especially for those with young kids who were ready to go. I do believe the slide and the smaller pool by the slide base was open. We stayed up there for a while and eventually others started to figure it out, but it never got packed. We'd pretty much had enough sun and pool time before they had the rooms ready for general use. We eventually got out, cleaned up, changed back and walked around the ship for a bit, while everyone was still coming on board. I felt for those hauling luggage and carry-ons with them. I hated doing that before. Muster was a bit of a cluster. Hurry up and wait in the heat. They scanned one card per room (but would look at the room manifest that came up on their tablet to make sure the whole room was there). Numerous announcements about people needing to get to their station and they can't go on until everyone reports, or they will have to go to the alternate muster briefing in the auditorium. Many people may have had the thought of that being preferable. Once they got that all sorted out and released us, we went back to the room to see if the luggage was there (was not) and chilled for a bit. I happened to look outside and notice the palm trees moving past the ship in the way palm trees typically don't move. We had already pushed off from the dock. For whatever reason, all ships heading out that day were aimed towards the ocean, so the nice turn around in the main turning basin right by downtown did not happen. Was looking forward to that. But since our balcony was on the port side of the ship, we had a nice view of South Beach as we headed out so we just watched from our balcony. But by 4pm, we were clear of the port and in the ocean. And thus ends the play by play.... The Ship I've seen people talk about the older ships showing their age. You'd expect to be walking through having to avoid rust holes in the deck or something. Since I've not been on a super-new ship, something that is 18 years old seemed nice to me! The decor of the ship is a French theme, with the comedy club, theater and dining rooms all having French names (Degas Lounge, Toulouse Latrec and Renoir respectively). The Renoir dining room had Eifell Towers built into the design between the floors, there was a large art mural above the atrium with what I guess was a collection of French paintings, etc. The Promenade level had a real nice look to it. But otherwise, it wasn't that different than the Glory, and at the stateroom level, the Fantasy or Fascination. They were of course constantly cleaning. While we were at sea, they had the Blue Iguana Tequila Bar closed off. They basically stripped and restained/resealed the wood on the bar and chairs this week - the problem with always being in use, there is no downtime to do this. Maybe one day I'll be on one of the mega ships and know what I'm missing, but I really like this class of ships. The Fun Staff The Cruise Director Leigh was pretty good. He had a very quick wit about him, which made all the audience and guest interactions seem very fluid. I know some people treat the CD's like celebrities, but I really don't care...just another person doing their job to me. But he did seem down to earth, which was very nice. He could have an ego etc, but he seemed like the kinda of guy that could stand in front of all 3000 passengers, but at the same time would get you a napkin from the bar if you needed it. They handed out a LOT of glow bracelets at events. Leigh has an amazing arm with these. He will point to who he's throwing it to and had uncanny accuracy. I actually recognized one of the Fun Staff members from a prior cruise - Lee, formerly known as Princess Marshmellow. So I took that as a sign that I am now a professional cruiser. He mostly ran the comedy club but also did the other activities. Have always found him funny. Robbie was another on the team who you would see all over doing lots. He or his girlfriend had some extended family on this cruise, so they did a shore excursion in Puerto Rico and happened to be in our group. Somewhere between getting in line for the excursion and getting on the bus, he quickly changed to out of any recognizable Carnival gear. But another guy that seemed to have a big heart. Adele - she was pretty involved in a lot of stuff. She's from Liverpool and has the perfect level of snark. Katie - from Canada, and a huge Harry Potter fan. You'd see her all over the ship leading activities, welcoming you back on board, etc. and never seemed to run out of energy. She knew nothing about Game of Thrones and was hilarious watching her handle that trivia session. The fact that I can remember that many of their names (and Vanessa was another) means they seemed down to earth, interactive, human, etc... The Shows They had 4 Funtime Productions, one of which I'd seen before Epic Rock - rock anthems done by the production cast with some cool visuals Heart of Soul - more of a 70s r&b soul walkthrough, loosely telling the story of a guy and girl trying to connect, etc. While good, it really only had the two leads really singing and the rest just danced and provided some harmony or background Flick - this was cool. Hard to describe, but basically one persons "journey" via film. So lots of songs from movies combined with some really cool stage effects. During a medley of sci-fi themes, they did some stuff with lasers that make your draw drop. Before it, they had a red carpet event, where they would bring various people onto camera and interview them. Leigh would address you by some celebrity name you may have 4% resembled. But the production itself was amazing to watch 80s Extravaganza - this was a run through a bunch of 80s songs by the cast. Cool visuals with it. Very Michael Jackson heavy, which seemed a little weird after all the recent stuff with his music being pulled. Clue Gameshow - we went to the kick off for this not knowing what it was. Basically, you have to play Clue - but it's over the course of the week. They have different events in which a clue will be given. It helps to drive participation at the event, but I'm not sitting though 40 minutes of bingo to hear a clue, so we didn't play. But the kickoff was worth seeing. It was the above Fun Crew, dressed as the different characters from the game. They would go around the audience beforehand interacting. It was very funny. Robby as a drunk Col. Mustard was a highlight! Lights! Camera! Inter-Action! - we had no idea what this was. It's a new (6 months old) game thing only on a few ships. Various activities where audience members get pulled up to participate. One they flashed a character behind the person and their assistant had to find the clothes on the rack to dress them up as that character. Mrs Doubtfire and Jack Sparrow were the ones which was funny to see. They had a memory game, and a few greenscreen things which were very funny. It made for a good 40 minutes on a sea day. Carnival Quest - the adult game show. While this can be funny, it wasn't as good as the last time I saw it (albeit still better than what RCI does). Basically if you're easily offended, don't go, but it's a series of the CD saying "I need a team to show me this" It may be three fun times, it may be a girl wearing guys shoes, it may be...well, it's fun to watch. The Bands They had a number of bands on board. The always present steel drum player, someone playing Calypso, solo guitarist, piano bar. Didn't catch any of those (other than the steel drum on Lido). But they had 4 other bands String Trio - can't remember the actual name, but it was a violin, viola and cello. They may play classical music, they may play classic rock, they may play recent chart toppers. These three were amazing to watch. They were probably my favorite. Latidos - latin music duo. Caught a slight bit of them. They sounded good, but didn't see enough to say. Horn Stars - yup...gotta be careful saying that one. But a trumpet, trombone and sax. Didn't see a full one of their shows, but they also did a great job. Just not my cup of tea Whiskey Business - drums, bass, keyboard, guitar and two singers. They played well together, and they had a number of sets with Horn Stars also playing with them. When they stuck to the 70's R&B and that style, they did great. They did the 50s/60s pretty good to. Did not see their country set, we were at dinner, but were curious how they'd pull that off. Their 80s set, wasn't bad, but two issues: They were on Lido and something was wrong with the sound levels which didn't help. And the male singer, who had a great voice, just didn't seem to have the power with it he needed. "Don't you forget about me" the "hey hey hey HEY", Jim Kerr puts a lot of strength and feeling into it. This version felt more like a laid back lounge version of it. Not bad, but just not the right genre for him. The Food As I mentioned earlier, the food on Lido seemed to have been stepped up in the last few years. I didn't have lunch from the buffet but I saw things I would have liked if I wasn't already stuffed. Breakfast continued to be great. French Toast, Grits, Potato of the day, bacon and maybe a burrito from Blue Iguana. Only thing that didn't make sense is they had sausage gravy, but no biscuits...those two go hand and hand. We had Your Time Dining. In the past, the set dining time, we found it either too rushed back from shore or interfering with something else we wanted to do, so I prefer the YTD, and we got lucky it was available. We never had a bad experience in the MDR. I will say the first night, I was a little unsure of the headwaiter in our section. I'm sure he was tired, but just seemed to be some sort of attitude. Each night we had a different staff as they kept locating us at various places around the room. On Thursday night, we had a gentleman named Win as our headwaiter. I wish we had found him earlier. He was probably the best waiter I've had in all the cruises. We asked for him Friday as well, and Anne, the sweet hostess said lots of people ask for him. The food seemed to be the typical fare they rotate through. I think this is the first cruise I didn't have to drop back to the always present pork loin or flat-iron steak. I always found something worth trying. I'm not the kind to make note of everything I had, but there were a few appetizers that didn't have much flavor to them, but everything else was good. The meat lasagna was incredible - and you actually had a huge portion. For the first time, we actually ordered multiple appetizers and one night two entrees because we couldn't decide. Don't normally do that, but figured why not - I knew how much I was paying for this trip! On the Lobster tail night, I ordered that even though I don't eat lobster so my wife could have mine. I was probably full from dinner the night before anyway, so I didn't care. Again, about Win. We know he has two daughters back home he misses. On the second night (which was the last night), he gave me a hug goodbye. And then on debarkation morning, he must have been walking by in the kitchen cause he saw us in the Lido buffet line, poked his head out and said goodbye to us by name. We'd known him for less than two hours. Amazing person. Ports/Excursions Grand Turk - Power Scooter Snorkeling - not bad. Shuttles between the port and location every 20 or so minutes. The snorkeling was neat - you go to where it drops from 25ft depth to 7000ft. Saw a sea turtle and a nurse shark. Lunch at the site was good, and you had a nice beach area to use. Not packed at all like right off the ship was. San Juan - San Juan Favorites and Rainforest - slight messup with getting us on this one. I was joking in line that there were so many people for this one we'd have to sit on each others lap. Well, we get to our tour shuttle bus thing, and someone miscounted and there was one seat left for the two of us. The driver took us back inside, told the inside guy what happened. He recounted, but instead of trying to force a fix, he put us in front of the line for the next one, which worked out as it was the last one, and not full. Our guide, Rocky, was a treat to listen to. Not sure why it's called San Juan's favorites - you go to the fort and that's it...in getting there you pass other things, but it's not multiple stops. The old fort was really cool - could have used some more time there, it's huge. The drive to the rain forest again was full of info about the island. The rain forest, you drove up to a tower, got out and climbed that for a good view, drove a tiny bit back down to see the waterfall, again getting out for 20 minutes or so, then head back to the ship. He does stop at a "gift" shop on the way back. Should have tried the beer - they let you bring it on the bus. They had a sign saying credit card machine not working today -cash only. But when we put a few things back due to not enough cash, they decided it was working today after all. Trying to avoid those fees I'm sure! St Thomas - Magen's Bay and Paradise Point - an open air vehicle across the island, pointing out some facts, stopping at Drake's Seat for an amazing view, a couple hours at the beach, then a trip back across to the lift that goes to Paradise Point, which has an amazing view, some gift shops an a restaurant. You then head down on your own and walk the block back to the ship. The service at the restaurant was a bit slow, but have had much worse. Decent food, and strong drinks! Amber Cove - we stayed in port - we were going to do the Casa on La Playa, but with all the weirdness, she didn't want to go anymore. Plus we'd already been to the beach twice and were tired at this point, so we just saved our money (cancelled before we set sail). The port was kinda nice. The pool area was packed, but still enjoyable. Wife liked the water slide, I was too heavy for it. She said they had a scale up there. One person was complaining his son had been down 5 times but now he was too short for it. Had a drink at the very overpriced restaurant. If alcohol was the source of the poisoning on the island, I was perfectly safe with how weak this was. Did a little shopping in port and went back on board. Saw someone miss the other ship that was in port. They waited 40 minutes for him after on-board. Customer Service We had to go a couple times - once because my Sail and Sign card went on an excursion somewhere without me. They replaced it, told me to call when I'm in my room to have someone come and get into the safe for me, since I had used it to lock it - seems common based on her quick response. One time because the Bank declined a hold they were putting on for on board stuff, even though the money was there. We went to change the backing card and since no passengers were at Customer Service we just went to the regular line, not the FTTF line as the one person at work was at the regular side. Since we were FTTF and had the dedicated line, they asked to make sure we had the sticker on there. The only thing I'd classify as bad was the first night. We were on the balcony just staring at the ocean and the room lights started to flicker. The steward was trying to get our attention to introduce himself. I'm sure he knocked, etc and this was a last resort since you can't hear on the balcony. But still it seemed odd - was introducing himself really that important to let himself in? We had the option of morning service, evening service or both. We opted for morning since we'd be off the ship most mornings and less interrupting each other. Honestly, give me fresh towels and I'm good to go, so no need to make the bed twice a day, etc. Random/Oddities/Downsides So, I try not to be negative, and while nothing really was a "I'm contacting John Heald" moment... - The main Lido pool was only open for about a couple of hours on Saturday - no idea why. They opened it after setting sail, but it was closed again by dinner. The aft pool, slide and other pool were open. - Drinks - they seemed very weak, other than the martinis. - Promenade - the casino reeks of cigarette smoke and spills out. I hated going down deck 5 for anything. - Nightclub - I've always thought it silly (like it's some trendy place, but on a ship), but we found our room was at the edge of the casino near the nightclub. While not overpowering, you could hear the bass at night, but my CPAP tended to drown that out in white noise. I did happen to talk to someone just down the hall who was right under it. He said they stay up late. He wasn't too happy about his room location. - Room location - nice thing about our location is it was about 30 steps from the midship elevators, which made going to Lido for anything fast and easy. Slight bit of a walk for the atrium and MDR, but nothing bad at all. - Pixels and pictures - Normally they take tons of photos getting onboard, bug you at each port, bug you at dinner, etc. They seemed to have scaled this back, or gotten less annoying, taking no for an answer. We only saw them twice at dinner (could be a YTD timing issue). Even though I said no, they still insisted. Cut off half my head. But on the plus side, they don't print all the pictures anymore - it's all digital which is nice. Much less waste, and easier to find the pictures - The Carnival Hub app - this was something nice to use. I could pull up the dinner menu, find our pictures, and pull up the fun times. It worked 90% of the time. Occasionally, then Fun Times part would display, blink away and say unable to display. While not perfect, it typically made things easier. Too bad you can't access it off the ship. We had AT&T service in Puerto Rico, and it'd have been nice to see what was for dinner on the ship to decide if we wanted to eat there or in San Juan. - Free water - we each should have had a free bottle of water. When we boarded we just saw the "use and pay" bottles. However, later that evening the free ones did show up. - Luggage - our luggage showed up around 4-5 maybe. While I know FTTF is no guarantee, you'd think that as early as we were on board an checked in, it would have made it there faster, but I'm sure it gets packed onto something moved onto the ship with lots of other things packed in front of it or something. No big deal. - Serenity - somehow we ended up finding a free clamshell thing. Stayed in there a little bit...found them hot and uncomfortable. Much prefer the half-shaded loungers or sofas. - Poor sick girl - some young teen was running for the ladies and didn't quite make it. Hope she was okay...but that was right in front of the shore excursions deck. Not sure if I got splash on me or not, but went up to my room to wash my foot off anyway! - Cheers - we did not get this. My wife can't drink and we'd have to pay about $700 for the two of us. Our (my) alcohol bill was about $140. Maybe the cost did keep me from buying too much (basically $10-12 per drink) but there is no way I think I'd get the moneys worth out of it. - Motion - I took my ginger pills for motion sickness and never felt anything except the last night due to some storms, but even that was nothing to speak of. I am sitting at my desk at home and my body is having trouble with the fact that I'm not moving more than anything. Debarkation Since we had no rush, we did the relaxed on where we put the luggage out the night before. They called our tag numbers while we were hanging out in the room waiting for 8:30, so we started to head down. The line stretched up to deck 4, then down, through the theater and around the lobby and out. We instead walked across 4, downstairs in the Renoir dining room to our FTTF debarkation point. Soon enough a staff member came and got us and worked us into near the front of the debarkation line. We found our luggage, showed customs our drivers license and were out of there in no time. We waited for the Enterprise rental shuttle to get to the airport, which took a bit, and we started to wonder. It looked like it could pour at any moment which did help with the temperature. When it finally did start to lightly rain, they moved everyone back under the awnings, and of course that is when the shuttle bus showed up. We got on along with others, including a family of seven, each with two large bags! We got our car, drove back to Ft Lauderdale, found a place to get some coffee, drove over by the ocean (didn't get out since it was raining). Had some Skyline Chili, went out to Sawgrass Mills mall for my wife to go to Vera Bradley, and then to the airport. Our flight back to Atlanta was delayed about 50 minutes, but we only arrived about 15 minutes late, caught our ride home from my aunt, caught up with the kids and crashed hard!!! So....in the end, that's my story. If you read this far...wow. It grew in the telling. Hope this helps someone. I just really don't get negative about things if I can help it. Sure - there was a group cheating at trivial pursuit, but it's not that big of a deal...we beat them anyway. Sure, people get in line for an omelette, and end up getting one for each of the 5 people at their table. Sure, towels are on the deck chairs at 7am, but still plenty of places to sit. But overall, not really worth worrying about
  9. Just came off the Conquest and had the social media plan (mainly for What's App so work could reach out to me if needed - thankfully they did not!) Hopefully this helps. Your mileage may vary. Offer not valid in Wisconsin. Here are some interesting findings of what worked: 1) Facebook 2) Instagram 3) Twitter all of those work as expected. Images are of course slower 4) Snapchat - frustratingly slow - due to the video nature. Didn't upload anything, just kept an eye on the daughters feeds to make sure I had a house to come back to. Took 5-10 minutes sometimes for a 10 second clip to load 5) What's App - it works for text stuff well. Didn't try video/chat 6) Facebook Messenger - works as well as expected..again images can be slow 7) iMessage - we all have iPhones and use iMessage for texts. Those went out and came in just fine. I was able to send images, however I was not able to retrieve images the kids sent while on the social plan. 8 ) iMessage location services - pull up a conversation, click on info and if the access is enabled, you can see the location of the other person. Was able to see this for both kids, which was a pleasant surprise. 9) Apple Push Notifications - this was a surprise. I get a notification when the garage door opens/closes, and was really stunned when I got that notification. I was also getting gmail notifications of e-mails coming in. I could not go to gmail, but the notifications came through. I was tempted to enable notifications for my work e-mail program - I wouldn't see the whole e-mail, but at least the who, subject and first line or two - but decided nah - am on vacation. But still, this is a nice surprise 10) Google - this was a neat find. I could pull up safari on my iPhone and search google for something and I would get the results page. I could not click any of the links and have them come up, but a well crafted google search could get me the info I wanted. I did not try this from a notebook and don't know if the show cached page option would work. But "US World Cup team standing" worked to get what I needed. 11) Google Maps - this was slow sometimes and an accidental find. Wanted to just see where we were and opened google maps to let the GPS plot us. As I zoomed in, I was getting local info, places, traffic, etc. which was kinda cool. Not super useful, but a neat find. 12) Southwest airlines - I know they say some airlines pages work, but I was walking to dinner Friday night and was able to check in for my Southwest flight and get a good boarding position. What did not work (aside from the obvious web/email/etc) Discord - just tried to hit a channel I'm on there and nope!
  10. We may have a bit of a trivia addiction (or have found if you slightly know something about a trivia on a port day, no one is there to really compete). But came off the ship with this. Daughters think it's hilarious.
  11. Just got off the Conquest - sister ship to the Glory. Saw lots of kids that age having TONS of fun - this build-a-bear workshop was packed!. My kids loved the Glory, but they were a bit older than yours when we were on it a few years back. Our family consensus is that Carnival is more fun that RCI. Never been on NCL. Of course SO many factors go into what makes a trip fun. You could be on the best ship in the world and have a bad time due to any circumstance. It is what you make of it.
  12. Had no problems abroad. Had problems in Florida - was at the cruise port and had an email from Bank of America about a $280 payment. Had no idea what it was and started asking more like a vendor, etc. and the rep said it was an BoA ATM in ???, Fl, right after a purchase a a publix in the same city. That was a cash withdrawal I made - don't know why they called it a payment or purchase. And then, our Sail and Sign card came back that BoA did not authorize the additional hold they put on it so we switched it to another card. In port the next day, had service and checked and plenty of funds there. I guess they really didn't want me spending money in Florida!
  13. We just came back and DR was one of the stops. While waiting for excursions to leave one day, the Fun Squad member on stage was asking show of hands who has an excursion at St Thomas. Then who has one at DR - he made a joke about "ah...the brave ones" but then qualified it with a statement that people should not be afraid. I'm paraphrasing what he said, but the gist was that Carnival Excursion providers are held to a high standard, have to provide so much documentation etc to show that they are safe providers etc that there is nothing to fear. There are a number of theories going around from old water pipes to bug spray to counterfeit alcohol. The first can be mitigated by bringing your own water, the second - that seemed to have been around a resort on the opposite side of the island, and the third can be avoided by not drinking. We did not do an excursion in DR because it was day 6 of the cruise and we were dead tired at that point. The port area is a beautiful enclave, with some activities and an amazing pool, with a swim-up bar, which I had a drink from and felt fine (which is sad cause it should have been stronger). So cancelling the excursion on that port of call could be an answer as well. But honestly - you'll be fine. You have a lot of time to see what happens, what results come back from lab tests and the ability to cancel the excursion with not financial impact.
  14. Still too tired to think straight - been home less about 12 hours - but wan'ted to give you feedback so I can remove my reminder 🙂 We enjoyed it. It was about a 15 minute trip from the port - you may be on an enclosed (with AC) shuttle, or an open-air (with "natural" AC) bus/truck to get there. Just depends on what one is there and good to go. Shuttles went back to the port every 20-30 minutes, so you can leave when you are ready. They had a few excursion times. We were the 8:30 one. There was also a 10:30 one at least. Was impressed by how they operated the tour. When you get there, they have a large area with cubbies for you to stow all of your stuff you brought with you. They take you out on a boat and you scooter back in, so you don't take your towels etc. They then lock the whole cubbie area up so your stuff is secure. They give you an overview of how the scooter works, how the inflatable vest works and general snorkeling tips. They put you on the boat and take you on a two minute ride out by the 7000 ft drop-off. While in the boat, they pass around some defogger for the mask, have you adjust the mask and put your flippers on. Once you get out there, you are good to go. You can either fall back into the water or hop in. They then start dropping the scooters in. They float, so you grab one and while everyone is getting ready you play around a bit. It is then a game of follow the leader. Follow the guide as he takes you to a few spots, points things out, etc. The boat hangs out in the area, and there were two guides in the water. Basically - no one gets left behind and if anything happens, they seemed prepared. We saw a sea turtle, lots of fish, got to spend about 10 minutes or so around the drop off. They then guide you in towards the shore a bit, looking for other things to show off - some reefs, some more fish, a nurse shark or two. It's maybe 30 minutes of this - look, head inward, look, etc. It may have been a little more, but by the time you do get to the shore, you're probably good. The guide would dive down towards the floor to find things, etc. You are more than welcome to do so, but with the life-vest on, even uninflated it was difficult. I didn't make it that deep despite trying...just too much buoyancy. But it was neat to see, especially the drop off...you go from seeing the ocean floor to just nothing but a darker blue. Some of the light streaming down was beautiful to look at. (Still need to get my pics of the underwater camera) The scooters are not going to make you speed through the water. My wife called it snorkeling for lazy people. 🙂 They do have some pull to them on the high speed, but basically they turn a lazy kick into more momentum that kicking alone would provide. They have three speeds, and are super easy to operate. I was able to use mine one handed and have the camera in the other with no issue. Just make sure your bathing suit doesn't have anything super-dangly on it which could get sucked into the propeller. Don't think this was an issue for anyone, but just mentioning it. Once you get back to the shore, you turn in your gear and they unlock the cabinet with your stuff. They provided free bottled water as well to keep you hydrated. At that point, this small beach is yours until you head back to port. They do have multiple excursions to this "resort", so you're not alone, but it was not crowded. Some of the excursions are all-inclusive. But for this one, you are given a meal ticket and a drink ticket you can redeem for lunch. It was jerk pork or chicken, potato salad, pasta salad, rice, beans, corn and some hot sauce which was great over top of the rice, and some veggies. It was tasty. They have a bar for the all-inclusive, and a regular cash bar - sodas, water, beer, and a few mixed drinks. The local Turks Head beer was pretty good. The beach area has chairs and umbrellas - first come first serve, but never seemed crowded, but of course the earlier tour got first pickings. They had a couple water inflatables you could play/climb/lay on. The ocean area wasn't that big, but big enough. Some rocks, but nothing to worry about - I didn't have surf shoes and didn't have any trouble. We found a sea urchin and sand dollar as well while hanging out in the water. Some areas did have some sea grass growing, as it does. A couple pictures showing the resort area (and there was more on the other side) and the view from my chair - no idea where the guy with the horse came from, but he rode out to the float and picked up a passenger who was on our ship. Hopefully I remembered everything worth saying - feel free to ask any questions. Overall it was a very relaxing excursion, friendly people, and a good first day.
  15. We did porthole on Fantasy class. Riviera deck, r2 - only one room more forward. Didn't notice any waves at all. You WILL know when they drop anchor or use the bow thrusters!!!!
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