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  1. OMG- I miss Algodones!! I grew up outside of Yuma. Cant beat $8 Jose Cuervo! We talked about it as a family. My twins are 15 and I have a 16 yr old. We decided together and they completely understood that it was no gifts and this was their gift. We all agreed. But they have done a cruise before and knew how much fun it was. THis was no different. They had so much fun!
  2. I didnt engage in conversation but I did look at people. I understand concerns about Mexico but I am a bordertown girl and love Mexican Culture. But yes it can be dangerous. Everything I learned about Jamaica, I read here on these boards.
  3. The shuttles are like taxis. I didnt see many taxis going to Doctor's Cave but I saw tons at Doctor's Cave Yes there are shops very close. What I learned is that those shops are owned by Indians (from India) the Jamacians dont like people shopping there. They want you to buy from their own native people shops.
  4. So sorry! I got distracted with life! As they say *squirrel* Dec 29th Ok. We had our last official full day on the ship. The seas were still choppy. I never got sick but I was worried I would. Thankfully Bonine was a lifesaver for me. No one else in my family needed to take it. I took 2 pills every night when I went to sleep. I slept in and headed up to the Lido deck for the so so breakfast. I basically got toast and bacon and I love the orange juice. I strolled on to the coffee shop to get my favorite drink - coffee au lait. I will admit that I got a couple of milkshakes on my cheers package and gave them to my kids. On this last day I decided to try my hand at the last bingo game of the cruise. *hint about bingo* They usually pre-sale the cards on Deck 5 by the coffee shop. If you buy them in the pre-sale, you get 3 extra bingo cards if you buy the $40 package. I bought this. While waiting for the big super prize bingo, I people watched and read my book. I honestly was sad about being almost done but also glad to be done. ( I think if the food had been better, maybe I would have wanted to stay longer). Hubby, daughter and I decided to try Guys BBQ for our last lunch. I am kind of sad I didnt try this sooner. I really liked it alot! It is on the 5th floor mid ship but you have to go out side to get to it. And the seating around it sucks. Very little seating. No drink stations either. A little more thought needed to be given to this but the food is very very good. I loved the different sauces. This and my chips and pico de gallo idea were my favorites. I went to play the big jackpot bingo. I won the first game that was played!!! I swear I never win and I won twice!! Carnival ended up giving me $300 when I cashed out. Thank you very much! During the blackout jackpot, an announcement came over the speaker that a life raft had come loose and fell into the ocean. They said we were stopped until they could figure out what happened. The bingo board went blank!! I thought the host was going to faint. She went backstage and with a few words and I am sure some prayers, it came back on! Of course rumors were spreading during the game of who let the lifeboat loose etc. I heard it was a teenager on a dare and they had him in custody and they were trying to locate the parents.... (I sat lower in my chair in case they came searching for me.. no parent wants to do the walk of shame in bingo!). And for the record, I dont think it was teenagers. Sure we had 500 of them but I am going to think positive on that. We stayed at a standstill for a few hours. I enjoyed the time with some good fruity drinks and poolside sunbathing. I had to go home to snowy Colorado the next day. I was going to make my friends back home jealous with my wonderful tan! Dinner was of course with Novi... I am telling you, she made the cruise for us. I think she is switching ships and a few months to join her newly married husband. Whoever gets her is lucky. Whenever you are cruising and you hear a high pitched "woohoo", its her. Dinner was actually pretty good. We had prime rib. Not bad. We stayed for desert and took pictures with Novi- When I am home I will load the picture. They did their farewell song and dance and I honestly enjoy these things. I didnt feel like doing the shows. I did some walking in the cool night air and packed my belongings to set outside. I then proceeded to nag my children to do the same. I was missing my cell service so I kept checking as we were chugging up the Mississippi. I ended up going to bed around midnight.
  5. I just used it on the Carnival Dream. Totally worth it!! What everyone else said- I would buy it again (except I dont plan on sailing Carnival again)
  6. Dec 28th Cozumel I love all things Mexico. Probably has to do with being raised in Yuma,AZ. Cozumel is a ton of fun and so many endless possibilities of things to do. We could not get off the ship until 10am. We had breakfast in the buffet area again. Again-nothing spectacular to write home about. Carnival is not the best for food in my opinion. Good thing I need to lose a few (50) pounds and can stand to not overindulge. This time we wanted to get off as soon as we could because my kids had a 1pm appt for a dolphin swim. Getting off was a debacle…. They wanted everyone to take the stairs and those who had bought faster to the fun or suites or diamond and platinum were supposed to get off first. Well that didn't happen… Everyone just crammed the stairs. My daughter had her knee scooter and could not do the stairs… NO elevators available. I had to swim downstream in the sea of people to find a carnival person to get an elevator for my daughter and then swim upstream in the sea of people headed downstairs back to my kids. Yeesh!!!! Pushing and crowding abound. I get it- Cozumel is fun! I said something to one of the Carnival attendants and she said there was nothing they could do about it. How about enforce your policies? If you don't have FTTF or other then you wait? I bought FTTF just for this reason. Cozumel is one hour ahead so it was 11 their time when we started to get off the ship and about 1140 when we got off. THe port is a long walk so we hightailed it as fast as my daughter could scooter and headed for the taxi stand. We hopped in and asked for a ride to Chankanaab. If you have not been to this place I think it is a great way to spend your day…. Every place we go to in the Caribbean has sand and beaches. Cozumel is no different. I have done Sanchos and Paradise Beach but wanted a different experience. I didn't want to cross the ocean to Cancun (though I would love to see the Cenotes one day (underground water caverns) after the rough boat ride yesterday. Chankanaab is an ecological park of sorts. They have sea lion shows, dolphin encounters, alligators, other animals including iguanas and parrots. They have swimming pool and a huge beach area with chairs, palapas and hammocks. What is different is that instead of wading in- you enter via a ladder and it is a reef area with snorkeling. I had gone online before we ever left on the cruise and bought admission to the park and included a buffet lunch. I also bought the dolphin swim package ahead of time as well. *NOTICE* - if you want to do the dolphin swim- do what I did. Go to https://www.*****cozumel/chankanaab-national-park.asp and buy your package to include the photos. I read on here about people getting ripped off on the prices of pictures. When we got there, I had to check in 3 different places it seemed but I we got there with 30 min to spare. (oh the cab fair was just $12 for the 4 of us) The dolphin swim I purchased had the swim, lunch, admission to the park, 1 printed picture and all digital pictures. I went to the picture counter and made sure that I was getting this deal. Apparently I was one of the few who purchased their picture package ahead of time. Only 2 of my kids wanted to do the dolphin thing. (I made them pay for it). So I watched and took some video from where I had to stand (not allowed to be up close). Both of them absolutely loved it. They had a fantastic time. I went to get my pics and I got a printed one of each that I got to choose and I got 94 digital pics!!!! I am soooooo glad I got the package ahead of time. The pics were great! SO worth the hassle I had to do in order to get them. Also the place had free wifi so I got to post some right away as well as satisfy my social media withdrawal. We then ate a late lunch, snorkeled and the kids explored the park. We didnt get to see it all and would love to come back. The snorkeling gear was included in the package I bought. We got a taxi back to Cozumel and the traffic was bad. THere was 7 ships in port that day and everyone was headed back to the boat! We got back with one hour left for shopping. The port that Carnival uses has so many shops! We looked around for souvenirs that the kids wanted. We hurried on the boat and went to change for dinner. We decided that we missed Novi and headed for the Crimson Dining. On this night, the wait staff did a dance for us. It was awesome! Novi convinced my daughter to stand up and dance with her. Very fun! I cant say enough great things about her. On this night the restaurant was not busy and I got chance to talk with her about her life and how she likes working for Carnival and such. She did extra things for us that promised not to say (extra treats for my kids that should have been charged $$). We all decided that we would definitely come there tomorrow for our last dinner. I am sorry to report that I didnt attend many shows or events. I used to be a regular attendee but I just didnt care this time around. Nothing appealed to me. I guess because I lead a busy life of being a mom with kids in sports and working nights as a nurse, I just wanted to be bored. I enjoyed spending time in the rear pool area reading or watching videos. I didnt want to gamble and just enjoyed relaxing in a quieter atmosphere.
  7. Dec 27th Grand Cayman We had purchased an excursion through Carnival for this stop. We purchased the Amazing Stingray, Snorkel and Starfish Experience. We had to be in the Encore theater by 715am. I had told the kids to order the breakfast that you can order in the room and I did the same. Theirs came on time but mine was 15 min late and I was getting worried that I wasnt going to get to eat before we left. I tried to call room service but no one ever answered and it did finally show up. I asked for delivery from 6:00-6:30 and it arrived at 6:45. I was not happy about that. (yes it was on my after cruise survey). I ate quickly and we went to wait in the theater for our excursion to be called. Now you have to take a boat ride into port from the cruise ship. The water was real choppy. Getting on the boat was kind of scary especially for my daughter with a boot on her leg and foot. They really cram you in on these boats and all I could think about was if we were to sink or capsize like what was in the news several months ago and I didnt have a life vest and …. . I had to change my thinking! We got to the port and found our excursion leader. We were broken up into groups and sent on buses to the other side of the island. Normally the driver talks to you about what island life is like and history and such. We got no info about Grand Cayman (yes I know I can google it). The driver spent his entire drive on the phone. That irritated me. We got to the boat area. I feel like they really crammed us in on the boat. We rode out to the sandbar where the stingrays are. I need to give a caveat…. I hate fish. I am terrified of fish. Stupid yes I know but I dont get more than knee deep in any water that has fish. So I sat in the boat the entire excursion and was there to watch my teens having fun. My hubby stayed on the ship our cruise because he wasnt feeling well that morning or he would have snorkeled with them. The water was ROUGH. Very very choppy. And the boat kept hitting the waves and we were all soaked by the time we arrived. The water is so absolutely beautiful in Grand Cayman. So stunningly blue. My kids loved the excursion. I think I have a pic saved to my computer of my daughter getting stingray kisses. Lots of people though. Our excursion people hit another boat backing in but we were all okay. We then went and snorkeled in another area. We headed back to shore (man I was getting so sea sick from the rough waves!). We took a bus back and by that time everyone was hangry! No food or snacks offered. If I had thought through it, I would have packed snacks. Not all of us could fit on one bus so we were going to have to sit and wait for another bus. I thought the people on that bus were going to drive it back to the ships themselves! We finally got going and headed back to port. We did some shopping and got on a boat back to the ship. We ate lunch on the boat. I think I got Guys Burgers. I was happy. OH I then grabbed my tortilla shell and pico from the Blue Iguana too. I was hungry! That night was the second formal night and we opted to do the Buffet again. Food was meh. We were tired from the sun and wind and rough seas so we had a chill night and headed to bed early. (okay I did). Hubby played poker and kids hung out with their friends.
  8. Dec 26th Jamaica. I had read on here about Jamaica. I was prepared. No direct eye contact, don't engage conversation, just go to your destination and that is it. We had decided to got to Doctor’s Beach. We were in no hurry so debarking was a breeze. We had a leisurely breakfast and headed out. There is nothing at the Jamaica port. One building. We were herded into a shuttle van and told the driver where to take us. Most of the people were headed on the van were headed there. Once we got going, the driver and tour guide of sorts tried to convince us to pay extra and they would take us around the city. She was very demanding. No one agreed and she got very unhappy. SHe also tried to get us to pay round trip and they would come back for us. She started telling horror stories about other taxis. I couldn’t get off the van fast enough, It was bad enough the ride cost $30 for 4 of us. I almost felt that if we didn’t agree to their demands, they would not let us off at the right spot but they did. We paid admission to the beach area and had to pay extra for chairs and umbrellas. It was $15 a person for admission including chairs and umbrellas. Once we got set up, the teenagers headed for the water. The beach area is very nice. There are servers who will bring food and drinks. They are very territorial. One told me that she was my server. I just happened to be walking to the water and stopped to ask another server a question, and my server ran over, shooed the other server away and reminded me that she was my server. Okay…… There are people who are selling trinkets but it wasnt so bad except for those that hide out in the ocean and pop up to sell you things when you wade in. I was wading in when a person that I thought was enjoying the nice cool water, jumped up from sitting in the ocean and up came with him lots of wet bracelets. The bathrooms are very nice and the water and sand was delightful. We were ready to go back to the ship after about 3.5 hours. As soon as I began packing up, workers ran over and stood by our chairs to give them to someone else. I am not one who likes to be pushed around. I may have unpacked completely just to confuse the workers. I may or may have not sat back down and then packed up again. We decided to do a little shopping. Again I was extremely wary. We hit one shop and were able to find things we liked. When asked about pot, I explained that I am from Colorado and our pot is better than theirs. I was left alone after that. My kids however were hassled about smoking pot. (Not cool in my book). We bought our things and got a taxi back to the ship. Lots of taxis available. I had no issues with our taxi driver. We got back to the ship and decided to have a last lunch at the pasta shop. I wish I would have eaten there sooner. I loved their marinara sauce. I added in sausage and onions. Delicious! Because of the long delays in the main dining room, we opted for the Lido Buffet for dinner. All I can say is Meh. I definitely do not think good food is a strong suit of Carnival. But I can stand to lose weight so I am trying to look on the bright side… My hubby and I attempted to attend the America Rocks show. We stayed all of 10 min after it began. The singing was so off key. It was just no enjoyable. We left. He played poker and I watched videos and watched Jamaica disappear in the distance.
  9. Â Yes I have to say that I got spoiled having a suite. It was very nice. I still only got service once a day- new Carnival policy that I will talk about here soon. I did spend more time in my room having the extra space.Â
  10. I wondered if they were long. I cant remember from the last time. Earbuds are a perfect idea! 2 of us broke ours- me included and we were begging to borrow from others on the way home! I just ordered another pair for me from Amazon LOL!
  11. Christmas Day!!!!! I wake up leisurely and realize it is Christmas.. except it doesnt feel like Christmas.. because we have always opened gifts before. No worries though. I honestly loved this Christmas season because I wasnt stressed about shopping. I had a few extended family members but that was it! I ate breakfast in the buffet my hubby and daughter went to the Scarlet Dining room again. I really enjoyed seeing people in matching pajamas or Christmas outfits. People also had their doors decorated. I loved it. I did learn however that someone in front of me at guest services was complaining because they confiscated her prelit small Christmas tree. They told her that they considered it an appliance and it was forbidden. She was unhappy. I can see that but.... and here I digress..... I get it that is a Christmas Cruise. I get wanting to bring decor and I guess if you drive there to the port you can load up that car with everything imaginable. Me- I am flying and not Southwest. I paid to check my almost 50lb suitcase and I filled it too many clothes that I *might* need. No way am I packing a Christmas Tree! Sorry kids. Pretend the big one on the 3rd floor Atrium is just for you. Some people used a big gift bag to decorate their door- Brilliant and it fits in a suitcase all folded up! And another thing... why would you bring big presents on the ship... Hubby saw someone bringing a scooter in a box and a barbie doll dreamhouse on board. Wow. But if you have small kids- this vacation is not ideal in my opinion and guess what - this review is all about my opinion- LOL. Small kids want Santa, they dont get the idea of making memories. I do feel for the parents that came on a Christmas cruise with little ones expecting presents. I would not have done a CHristmas cruise with little ones. Thankfully, I popped out my children in a span of 18 months and my now 3 teens love this idea generally. My daughter and I played games I packed and sat out by the sun. For lunch I thought about doing the Mongolian Wok but it was always so crowded. SInce I am loving that salsa... we get in line for some pork and chicken tacos and Blue Iguana. I make a mental note that we need to try the pasta shop that is on Deck 11 at the end of the ship. I consider Guy's Burgers. I have read here so many mixed reviews and honestly unless you are In N Out.. I am not interested. (sucks living in Colorado with none). I consider the Guys BBQ and I am always up for some good BBQ. Colorado while known for skiing and hiking is not known for BBQ. I add that to my list and get back to that wonderful spicy pico de gallo. I could not get myself to play Bingo that day- I didnt want to lose the money I won! I perused the shops- so not impressed. Why would I buy jewelry on a ship? or makeup for that matter. I also dont want a Carnival t-shirt. I keep my eye on a few small trinkets that I might get later. My hubby eyes the watches and considers getting one. I think the prices are okay for those when they are 75% off but he buys watches like I buy purses.. Now if they had Coach bags 75% off I might be hanging out there more often. He enjoys the Casino and plays Texas Hold' em almost every night. I personally spend very little time in the Casino because with the new smoking rules, the smokers congregate there and it is very smokey. Nothing against you if you smoke but I just dont like the smell. There was a Christmas service held that day which as a Christian, I appreciated. Dinner was in the Dining room and it was Elegant night. We have never done Elegant night in the past but I pleaded with my family to at least pack an outfit for Elegant night because I wanted a great Christmas Dinner ( I was hoping for Prime Rib). I brought a nice dress I would wear to church or a wedding. Definitely nothing formal. Boys had button down shirts and black pants. Hubby brought a nice shirt and pants. We go down and it is a mess!!! So crowded and getting around was crazy. We tried eating later hoping that the early people would have left but we ended up with a pager and waiting 20 min. We got to a table and again not Novi. Service was so slow. But like I said earlier- I dont blame the servers. They never take a break... they run run run. They do a great job and try to be as attentive as possible. And on the menu is no Prime Rib... Argh... We settle for something else - I honestly cant remember. It was good because if I didnt like it I would remember that! The baked potatoes to me were not cooked enough.. like almost not done. My kids were almost in revolt this night at having to wait 2 hours for appetizers and dinner. They fled the dining room not wanting dessert. I agreed and left too. I did attend the Comedy show that was rated PG- John Stringer (luckily I still have a few schedules I brought home and I ran and looked that up) right after and it was Meh.... not very funny. He kept making sexual jokes but keeping it just under the radar. Most of his spiel was about being married and sex after married but he kept beating around the bush. I would have been so embarrassed to be sitting with my parents if I was 12. I am not a prude but there are so many funny things to talk about in a comedy bit that is PG rated. I chuckled a few times but honestly.. I would have rather sat on my balcony watching one of my Netflix shows I downloaded. I headed to bed let the ship literally rock me to sleep. Just a word about my teens- I am not writing much about their perspective but I will tell you that my boys hung together with a group of about 20 kids. They liked to hang out in the steam room or sauna. I had a key to their room and checked on them. Did they make out in a corner with a girl- possible but I found them many times during the day not being impolite or rude- just hanging out and having fun. This group of kids seemed to be good and no I didnt meet their parents nor did their parents meet me- but my kids dont realize I keep close tabs and no complaints were made that I know of. I wanted them to make friends with other kids their age and didnt have the expectation that they would spend every minute with me. They needed to make their own memories. This is what teens want to do- hang out with their own kind. They utilized the Club O2 quite a bit and parents are not allowed in (and no I didnt try). I let them eat all the food they could want and ice cream until their stomachs bulged.... Heck I felt bad for Carnival because I know my grocery bill and they literally indulged on the cruise.
  12. Monday Dec. 24th Boy is the ocean choppy and rough. I can really feel the ship swaying. I can also see white caps on the ocean. We have a cabin in the middle of the ship. I am not sea sick but I am glad that I am taking Bonine to keep it at bay. No one else in my family is bothered by the swaying. We get up and decide to head to the Scarlet restaurant for breakfast. I feel like reading reviews especially from Saint Greg when he did live reviews really helped me with things to try and things to avoid. We decided to try the breakfast. I am not a big breakfast or egg person for that matter but hubby wanted the eggs Benedict. My daughter and I ordered pancakes with bacon. Service was great but I will tell you that unless you like the sit down not rushed experience, the same food is upstairs at the buffet. Including eggs Benedict. Same juice, thin cut fatty bacon, and same pancakes. I guess if you are a I want my eggs over easy kind of person then this would suit you. Food was ok. Nothing fantastic. My boys (ages 16 1/2 and 15) have abandoned the family for hanging with newly made friends. Fine by me. I just gave the expectation that we have dinner together every night. My daughter (also 15- yes twins) with her injured foot doesn't feel very social so she sticks mostly with me. We search for a place to get some sun. The Lido deck is crowded and no chairs are available. I really didnt see too many of saving seats. We found chairs at the back of the ship on Deck 10. I personally like this area because I am not into the shake your booty contest, hairy chest contest or whatever contest they can think of. I kind want to read or people watch but the music is soooo loud and kids are running around and people walking by. I liked the set up of the Magic pool area better in that there were steps and levels of chairs so that I could be near the main stuff happening but no feeling like people are crowding me. On the Dream, you have to go all the way up to the 11th and it is hard to lay in a chair and look down at the area. Not a big deal, just a difference in set up. I honestly prefer the Adults only area on the front of the ship but you have to get there climbing 2 flights of stairs and my daughter cant come soooo we look for other places to chill and I mostly settle on Decks 10 and 11 at the back of the ship. Since I ate a late breakfast, I wasnt hungry for lunch but right before closing, I waited in line at the Blue Iguana Cantina and I got a taco shell with some beef and lots of pico de gallo and ate it like chips and salsa. I am a tried and true Arizona girl and I am very picky about my Mexican food and especially salsa. That pico was the bomb. Why oh why dont they have tortilla chips?????? Seriously!!!! They have a salsa bar.. throw out some chips! I liked my idea and was satisfied. Backing up for a minute... Around noon I happened to walk by the coffee shop on the 5th floor and notice that they are selling bingo cards. Well I love to play bingo on the ship. I am not a big gambler by nature. But something about bingo on the cruise ship... Except I think it is expensive but hey what the hell.... So I pay $40 for a big 3x3 sheet of 9 and get 3 extra bingo cards for the last one. I never have won bingo on a cruise. I guess that is why I play. I relax until it is time for the 3pm Bingo session and my daughter joins me to help me play. On the last game of the session... I won!!!! I ended up splitting the pot with 3 other people and we each get $150.00. I am honestly just glad that I got my money back. So we meet up for dinner. We went to the sit down dining at the Crimson. We dont get to sit at Novi's table. I cant remember the name of our serving team because we were missing Novi! But they did a good job. This time my kids take mention of how long it takes and they are tired of waiting and they want to gooooo and be donnnneee and beeeee with friends... in teenage whiny voices. We do manage to sit and all talk about our days. It was nice to hear what everyone did. We ended up not wanting dessert. We had the melting cake the first night but nothing appealed to us. The wait staff looked at us like something was wrong.. it wasnt except that we already spent 1.5 hours eating. I guess our lifestyle doesnt suit the 1.5 hour meal times. With 3 teens who are active in sports- we eat quickly or separately due to having to be places. I also work nights so that adds to the rushed atmosphere. We dont know what to do with each other sitting waiting to eat for 1.5 hours. *again this is my perspective* Maybe most dont mind the long affair with dinner. Afterwards, I went to the American Rocks show. I love 80's music so this was right up my alley. I sang along and enjoyed strolling through memory lane. I thought it was well done. Afterwards, I went up to the Lido deck and the 80's party continued. It was fun. The chairs were cleared and we danced around to 80's music. I had a great time except for this older than me gentleman determined to get every neon necklace thrown to the crowd, He was quite shovy and I get stepped on and shoved by him jumping and reaching. I almost demanded a few necklaces for all the toes that got stepped on but I moved away and kept on dancing. I stayed until they stopped playing music and headed to my cabin. I think I might have gotten some ice cream for a night cap.
  13. We just got off the Carnival Dream on Sunday Dec. 30th. We did our first Christmas Cruise with 3 teenagers, myself and hubby. This was our first time on the Dream. We have cruised before but still kind of newish (cruised 3 times so far). I am going to write a very in-depth review and how things went from my perspective as a kind of newbie cruising with teens. Feel free to scroll on by if it gets too long and boring. Pics will be included. Sat. Dec 22nd. We flew into New Orleans from Denver. Wow what a day to travel. Busy busy busy. We hired an Uber to get us to the Hampton Inn Convention Center. Price was $35 for 5 of us using Uber XL. That worked great. But the Uber guy got there before our luggage! Luckily he waited for us. We checked in to Hampton Inn and secured a 10:30 shuttle to the ship ( We purposely picked the Hampton Inn because of its free shuttle. Totally worth it. I think my rooms were $110.00 per night). We walked to dinner just a few blocks to Mulates. Mulates was hoppin with lots of people but we were seated right away. The trouble though was getting food. The kitchen was backed up. But once we got it, it was great Cajun cuisine and the sweet tea hit the spot. We ambled back to our rooms and hit the hay. The Hampton Inn was clean and comfy. I would stay here again. Sunday Dec. 23rd. We got breakfast and got ready to board the shuttle. Everything was quick and efficient. Maybe I was being Susie Sunshine because I am about to get on the ship…. I do think all the construction around the Hampton Inn and the Convention Center make traffic more hectic. But I was will to overlook this. We loaded up and about 10 min later we were dropped off at the Port. A porter was right there ready to grab our luggage. Now my hubby and I were staying in a suite and we purchased faster to the fun for the rest of the family. Our bags were tagged accordingly. The porter kept saying “Now this is the last time I am going to see you, Now this is the last time… last time” I finally stopped gawking at the massive ship and tipped the guy. We grabbed our carry on items and headed into the building. My daughter was using a knee scooter because she had surgery on her foot that was in a boot (If you saw her scooting around-that was us!). We got to use the Elevator and go to the special assist line. Check in was a breeze. The silly part was since we booked a suite, we had to do a literal circle around the seats to get back to the suite seating area. Not a big deal unless your foot is killing you from getting squished in the crowded shuttle. This was our first time ever booking a suite. I am in Interior stateroom kinda girl. But Hubby thought we should splurge so I had no clue it included a nice seating area. We sat and waited for our time to be called. After about 15 min, the announcement was made for Diamond and Platinum members to board. We got to go next. It was kind of cool being one of the first people on the ship. Normally we board later but it was nice to get on and casually grab a seat and some food. We did end up purchasing the Cheers package (more on that later) so we grabbed our first drink and got some lunch with the family. We got to go to our rooms around 1:30pm. I have to say that only having stayed in interior staterooms, ours was very spacious. We had an Ocean suite on the 7th floor. The room was nice in my humble opinion. Everything was well taken care of. Yes it was worn and kind of outdated but I knew from reviews that the ship looked this way. I just wanted everything working and clean. Having the windows really made a difference. Great views and so much light. I am not one to spend much time in my room on the cruise but I did spend more time this cruise because of the size and not feeling cramped. We met Jose our Steward. I made sure to let him know that the teens were staying in a balcony room about 5 doors down from us. We set out unpacking. We did our mandatory muster drill which was supposed to start at 3 and I could clearly see people still milling around at 3:15. Now honestly- that is just rude people. None of us want to be there but be considerate and show up on time because they take names of who isnt there and then they hunt you down and the prolongs the process! They either gave up- or this is common and made an announcement that those who missed the muster needed to head to a dining room to hear the drill- maybe they do this every cruise but I dont remember it happening. Muster didnt end until 345. Ridiculous in my opinion. We headed up to the to deck to watch the sail off. It is one of my favorite things. I especially like turning around on the Mississippi. There were 2 other ships in port that day and we were the second to leave. Sail away was great and we went to our rooms to get ready for dinner. We utilized Your Time Dining. That was in the Crimson Dining room on 3 mid. Our first night we got the pleasure of meeting Novi and her team. She took great care of us. She was very funny and bubbly and made you feel like seeing you made her day. (I know it didnt but being in a service driven industry myself- I am a nurse- I can see how this makes people feel special). I do feel though that dinner is drawn out... like it takes 2 hours to dine. My teens luckily had cell service that night and were able to sit through the meal ( actually I am kind of kidding... my kids are great about not using phones during dinner but I sure wanted to use mine because I thought we waited along time). I dont blame the servers. Novi had 8 tables to take care of and provide attention to. She did have 2 people helping but I think that is alot especially whey over half of them have 6+ people. A good part of my review will be focused on how burdened down these people are and service is lacking due to the added responsibilities of the people. I knew reviews had shown people less satisfied with the service received on this ship and I wanted to try to understand why. It is hard to provide great service with added responsibilities. Trust me as a nurse, I completely understand this. These workers sign 8 mo contracts and work day and night every single day with no break. I cant fathom that. Yes I know they agree to it- that is true but Carnival is cutting corners by adding to their load and we are the ones who suffer but not getting the service we once got. I sailed last in 2013 on the Carnival Magic and I could tell a major difference in the level of service. - sorry to digress. Since dinner took 2 hours we were tired and hubby and I decided to hit the hay. My teens hit the O2 teen club. They said it was lame... but I dont really know. They did meet some friends that they ended up hanging out with the entire cruise. There were over 450 teens on this cruise and that was just ages 15-17. This is a popular cruise for older kids because like us- the cruise was the Christmas present. I did not bring presents on board... I spent enough on the cruise and excursions!!!! They did get spending money on Christmas Day. I think they headed to bed around midnight. We didnt do any of the opening shows are events. (My reviews on these will be limited because I went to a few and thought it was corny). Pics below are food and Mulates, sail away selfie with my kids (hubby was napping) and our Ocean suite- dont mind the mess.
  14. I was on this ship when it happened. Rumor was that a teenager let it loose.... Personally I dont see how that could have happened but that was all that was talked about.
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