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Lady_Jag

Easter Cruise On The Carnival Legend (w/pics): 4/24/11-5/1/11

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I am still uploading pictures, but I wanted to get this thread started before I get too lazy to do a review/recap. :o

 

Overall, we had a great time. The cruise was far from perfect, but we tried to focus more on the positives and just shrug off the negatives. After all, it's the less-than-perfect moments that make life interesting, right?

 

Meanwhile, here are my general impressions, both good and bad, about the ship and cruise:

- The staff was incredible! Everyone was very helpful and friendly, from the room stewards to the wait team in the MDR, to the crew working on the Lido deck.

- The ports (Cozumel, Belize, Roatan, Grand Cayman) were nothing new to us, but we had great weather and enjoyed having the time to relax and not feel like we were rushing through excursions trying to take everything in.

- Embarkation was easy, except that security made my 5-year-old little girl cry...more on that later.

- Debarkation was a snap, despite the delay in waiting for people who were very late in showing up for immigration. Still, it was the fastest we've ever gotten off the ship (and we're NOT yet platinum!)

- The ship still needs some TLC. It came out of a 2-week dry dock in Feb., but it still needed some maintenance. For instance, there were tears in the wall art in several places down the hallways where the room steward carts would scrape down the walls. The mural in the Colossus atrium was worn, and the seams of the 3 sections that made up the giant piece were rolling back so that there were white vertical lines down the mural. On the wall above my daughter's bed was a thick, black sticky streak. When we flipped the switch, our bathroom light would take a good 45-60 seconds to flicker once, then another 5-10 seconds to finally turn on. The TV was an old model and the remote and volume were wonky. There were several light fixtures in the MDR that were missing some pieces, and one of the "new" chairs at our table one night was rickety and had to be replaced.

- The layout of the ship was really easy to navigate, and it took no time to become familiar with it. I don't know if it was the ship or if we just lucked out on the weather and swells, but we had some really SMOOTH sailing (except for the one night we were approaching Belize.) I didn't even feel the ship leave the port of Tampa! And usually, it takes me a few days to get my "land legs" back after being on a ship for a week, but this time, I was almost back to normal right away. A couple of times on debarkation day (yesterday), I felt my house pitch to the starboard side a bit, but today I felt no waves what-so-ever.

- We tried Your Time Dining for the first (and last) time this cruise. YTD was a mess! It often took 2 hours to make it through dinner. One night, only 3 of our party of 7 received menus. Almost every night, someone from our group would have to wait about 10 minutes or more for their starter or entree after the rest of our group were served.

- The Past Guest and Farewell party were fun, and the drinks flowed in abundance at both parties.

- Wee Jimmy, the CD, was pretty funny and made my daughter's week by letting her tell a joke on stage before the "Jazz Hot" show.

- We were given a champagne toast at dinner near the end of the cruise, in honor of the 100th ship the Carnival Corporation rolled out.

- The food was pretty good overall. A couple of times, I got some dry meat at dinner, but all my favorites (ribs, enchiladas, strawberry soup) were still yummy!

 

I'll post a brief note on our pre-cruise and the details of our embarkation day tomorrow.

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Good start to your review! I'm waiting for more, and want to see your pictures. Thank you for taking the time to do a review. I like to hear others opinions of the ships I'm going to sail. It's a long time until October, so your adventures make the wait bearable.

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We are leaving on her on Sunday so I am eagerly awaiting your review of the new route.

Couple of questions if you don't mind.

Which nights were "dress up" :D night?

Do you know if any of the rooms got new TV's?

Was the Serenity area crowded?

 

Thanks.

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We are leaving on her on Sunday so I am eagerly awaiting your review of the new route.

Couple of questions if you don't mind.

Which nights were "dress up" :D night?

Do you know if any of the rooms got new TV's?

Was the Serenity area crowded?

 

Thanks.

 

I'm on my work machine right now, so pictures and the start of my review will be posted tonight. Hopefully, I'll be able to get through most of it before you leave Sunday.

 

Our "dress-up" nights were Monday (1st sea day), and Thursday (Roatan day).

 

The suites have new flat screen TVs, and they're supposed to be slowly replacing the TVs in the rest of the cabins on an ongoing basis. The operative word here is "slowly," as none of the 3 cabins for our group had flat screens.

 

Serenity area was crowded on sea days, especially the first sea day, but I was pleasantly surprised that there were still opportunities for me to enjoy the area and get a seat without camping out there overnight. It was the least crowded...almost empty... on embarkation day, and I had my choice of hammocks that day. I also snagged a clamshell on our Belize day, and got some hammock time on our final sea day.

 

One thing of note on the Serenity area - they did not play the soothing new-age/intrumental type music (like Enya) I had grown accustomed to on the Dream and Inspiration. Instead, they played more adult contemporary and soft rock music (like Donna Summer).

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Thanks for writing a review! I'm looking forward to the rest of it and the photos as well!

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Totally looking forward to your review - we are also leaving in 11 days!! WOOHOOO!!!

 

What cabin were you in?

 

We also have YTD and your review makes me a bit nervous - however, what I am seeing is that the YTD is not good for groups of more than 3 or 4 -it seems the bigger groups have a bad YTD experience. It's only my husband and I so hopefully there won't be a problem - but hey - we will be on a cruise -there are no problems!! :D

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Great! I'm looking forward to this too!

 

I went in March and loved it so much I'm looking at doing it again this summer!

 

For me, the staff makes that cruise.

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Also, ladyjag - I think I read one of your older posts on the Florida Departures board about staying in the Sheraton Riverwalk pre-cruise and parking your car there for the duration of the cruise for $5/day - I wrote a question on the board about that here:

 

http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1396953

 

If you get a chance, can you answer any of the questions in that thread? Thanks!!

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Someone made your daughter cry?:eek: For shame. I remember how cute she is from a previous review.:) Looking forward to more.

Heather

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Also, ladyjag - I think I read one of your older posts on the Florida Departures board about staying in the Sheraton Riverwalk pre-cruise and parking your car there for the duration of the cruise for $5/day - I wrote a question on the board about that here:

 

http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1396953

 

If you get a chance, can you answer any of the questions in that thread? Thanks!!

I will visit that thread momentarily and do my best to answer the questions.

 

Do you have a copy of the fun times?

Yes, but I have not yet scanned them in...or located them at the moment. My house is in turmoil right now, since we're in the middle of adding a new bathroom and remodelling an old one. As soon as I find them (they're probably under 6 inches of drywall dust), I'll post them.

 

Someone made your daughter cry?:eek: For shame. I remember how cute she is from a previous review.:) Looking forward to more.

Heather

Thank you! She's a very tender hearted child, but it was a terrible shame that security made her cry on Easter. Details to follow...

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I’ll try not to spend much time on this part, since our pre-cruise adventure will be much different from most people. I managed to score $39 tickets to SeaWorld in Orlando a week or two prior to our cruise, and I used one of the PRICE onLINE bidding sites to secure a cheap rate at the Holiday Inn & Suites Universal Studios Maingate in Orlando.

The plan was to drive 2 hours to Orlando Thursday night, visit SeaWorld Friday, then drive to Tampa Friday night, where I bid on and won a $49 rate for the Sheraton Riverwalk Downtown Tampa hotel for two nights. Saturday, we would make use of our annual passes to Busch Gardens, then board the Legend on Easter Sunday.

Not everything went according to plan, though. We stuffed my SUV with our luggage (8 bags for 3 people!) left the house after work, and made it to the Holiday Inn around 9:30 Thursday night. Check-in was a breeze, and our room was pretty spacious, with a fridge, coffee maker, and two double beds. I brought a Styrofoam cooler for the car, because I was afraid that some of the meds and lotions in my medicine bag would get too hot in the car parked in the SeaWorld parking lot. I wrapped the bag in a plastic grocery bag, and the next morning, got the security escort to fill the cooler ½ way with ice. Yes, I said “security escort,” because the hotel has removed all ice machines from every floor of the hotel, and you have to request ice from the front desk. When you make this request, security comes out, takes your cooler (or ice bucket from your room), runs off to Area 51 of the hotel, and returns with ice.

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(Our room at the Holiday Inn across from Universal Orlando)

The Holiday Inn had a TGI Fridays on site that offered a breakfast buffet for cheap, plus kids eat free. It was here that I ate cantaloupe and discovered I was allergic to pineapple. You read that right! I helped myself to one of the last couple of pieces of cantaloupe set out in one of the bowls on the bar, and it tasted like it had been soaking in pineapple juice. From the bowl of pineapple on the bar, I figured the bowl used to contain pineapple and no one rinsed it out before loading it with cantaloupe. Oh well, no big deal. Except after eating one piece, my throat was itchy and burning from acidity. I thought I was coming down with a cold or sore throat, but it finally cleared up just after noon time that day, and I was finally able to figure out what happened. Anyway, I wouldn’t recommend that restaurant – not only was the service bad and the food lacking, but the lemon wedge that was in my water looked like it had teeth marks in it! Ew!

So back to our journey. The day we arrived, SeaWorld was just opening a new Shamu show called “One Ocean,” and everyone had come out to see it! Really! We arrived at least 30 minutes after the park opened, and the crowd was so huge, it took us almost an HOUR just to get through the front gates! Every show at Shamu stadium had reached full capacity at least 90 minutes prior to showtime. It was crazy, but it also dragged a lot of the crowds away from the other shows and rides. We ultimately decided to skip the Shamu show, since we’re Florida residents and would most likely be able to see it later on…maybe in a year or two…when the first-run popularity dies down.

0422_SeaWorldcrowd-1.jpg

(Massive crowd outside the gates of SeaWorld about 20 minutes after the park opened.)

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(Alyssa waits somewhat patiently to enter.)

Anyway, I took young Alyssa on the “Wild Arctic” ride while Alex rode one of the coasters. This ride is a simulator that drops you off at the SeaWorld arctic exhibit for polar bears and…mating walruses. Yes, there were two walruses up against the glass of one of the underwater viewing areas, putting on a show for a small crowd of people. Alyssa was so excited to be able to see walruses up close (and personal!) that she managed to get through all the people holding up their video cameras and cell phones and get right up to the glass. I braced myself for the inevitable “what’s that?” or “what are they doing?” question and my mind tried to formulate an educated answer that my 5-year-old would understand, without getting into too many details. Fortunately, Alyssa never asked!

The rest of the day was a typical sunny Florida day in a theme park. We rode rides, saw a show or two, did some people watching, and visited some of the animal exhibits. (Alyssa loved petting the stingrays!) Around 4:00pm, we decided to hit the road, stop for some dinner, and check into our hotel room in Tampa.

The inside of my car was HOT from sitting in the parking lot all that time, but there were still some solid ice cubes floating in cold water in our cooler. Unfortunately, though, the plastic grocery bag I so carefully wrapped our med bag in leaked, and our med bag and its contents got pretty wet. Ooops! No big deal, though. The medications may have had soggy packaging, but the pills and liquids themselves were fine. I meticulously dried off everything when we reached our hotel room, then set all the meds on a hand towel along with our med bag, which I turned upside down to “drain.”

The Sheraton Riverwalk was a nice place. I could tell it’s an older hotel, but it was pretty clean, and the staff was very friendly. There is valet service for $16/night during your stay, and then we bought a cruise parking package for $5/day during our cruise. The hotel offers a free shuttle to the port and back, and one side overlooks the river.

Our room was on the “preferred guest” floor (or whatever they call it), and we had a nice balcony outside our room, free in-room WiFi, and free computer/internet usage in the main lobby. I’m not sure if the entire hotel is non-smoking or just that floor, but at one point I had to call the front desk because we could smell cigarette smoke coming out of our A/C vent one night. (The response I received was “Thank you for letting us know. We’ll send someone up to investigate.” And the problem was gone within the hour.)

Anyway, we tucked a tired out Alyssa into bed and Alex and I sat out on the balcony for a while so she could fall asleep.

The next morning, Alyssa woke up with a headache, tummy ache, and dry heaves. She would yell “water! Water!” then after the first sip, wretch into the trash can. Oh no! My poor baby! No question we would skip Busch Gardens that day, so I called the park to cancel the stroller rental I had reserved online the previous week. The real questions were: do we cancel our cruise Sunday? Do we take her to an emergency care clinic? Do we wait and see?

I sent Alex out in search of breakfast. He thought maybe McDonald’s hotcakes, her favorite, would make Alyssa feel better. He returned a bit later with food and drink, which we slowly fed to Alyssa. ½ way through the second hotcake (and after holding down a lot more water), Alyssa was all smiles and declared her tummy ache and headache “all gone!” Weird. My guess was that she had dehydrated herself in SeaWorld the day before, which caused her to wake up feeling sick. (Bad Mommy!!) There was still time to go to Busch Gardens, but I decided we’d hang out in the hotel and downtown area instead so that Alyssa could take it easy and recuperate.

It turned out to be a very relaxing day. We bought a few cheapo thin beach towels from Walgreens since I forgot to pack ours, and Alex bought Alyssa a green water blaster at a nearby dollar store. Dinner was at a place called “The Jerk Hut,” which had excellent Caribbean Jerk food! And there was a pizza place right next door so that Miss Picky could have a slice of cheese pizza instead.

Sheratonroom-1.jpg

(Our messy, out-of-focus room)

 

Sheratonbalconycu.jpg

(Our balcony)

 

---

Continuing with Embarkation day in just a moment...

Edited by Lady_Jag

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Today was Easter Sunday, and I made sure the Easter Bunny paid Alyssa a visit. In lieu of a basket, Mr. Bunny left Alyssa a big sand bucket full of beach and pool goodies, plus some egg-shaped animal pool toys (they look like giant Weebles) hidden around our hotel room. Alyssa woke up ready to go, and had a lot of fun finding her hidden goodies.

By 9:45am, we were packed and ready to go! We just couldn’t wait any longer, so we called down to the valet for the shuttle service, [over]loaded a luggage cart, and checked out of the hotel. The shuttle arrived in moments and we were on our way!

0424_luggagecart-1.jpg

(We brought all this?!?)

 

We shared the ride with 6 of the ship’s crew, who were just starting their contracts that very day. We wished them luck as the shuttle dropped them off at the crew entrance, then gathered our abundance of belongs, tipped a porter to take our checked bags, then walked over to the very short line waiting to enter the terminal. Lots of people from the previous cruise were just leaving, and there was a wedding scheduled, but we still didn’t wait too long. I’d say we were inside the terminal by 10:15.

 

Once inside, we went upstairs and through the x-ray screening. One of the security guards saw Alyssa’s bucket of goodies and picked up the water blaster that was sticking out. He muttered something about “can’t have this,” then told me and Alyssa to follow him to the Naughty Room. Oh boy!

 

Alyssa was all smiles until he told her he was going to have to confiscate her water blaster and pack of squirt guns. Then she looked at me confused, and I explained to her what the word “confiscate” meant. Cue waterworks! Alyssa immediately started to bawl, and no apologies or assurances that she could have her toys back after the cruise was going to make her stop. Honestly, I wanted to cry seeing how brokenhearted my poor little girl (still wearing her Easter bunny ears) was! I placed the claim ticket in my purse and walked a sad crying Alyssa out of the room.

confiscated-1.jpg

(Alyssa's "dangerous" arsenal)

 

Now my husband Alex was walking ahead of us, so he didn’t see any of this. He made it to the point where he had to fill out the health form, and turned around to ask me what our cabin number was. He didn’t see me or Alyssa at first, but then spotted us walking out of the Naughty Room, Alyssa still in tears. I explained what happened, and the Carnival employee standing next to Alex said “aw! That’s terrible!” Alex just sighed and said, “Well, for a minute, I thought maybe Alyssa had been probed or something!”

 

Alyssa continued to cry over her confiscated toys as we walked over to the main desk to get our S&S cards. “What’s wrong honey?” the woman at the desk asked. I explained, “She just had her squirt guns taken away by security.” The woman rolled her eyes, muttered, “I think they need to lighten up. That’s just too excessive!” and with a sympathetic smile to my still crying little girl, handed me our S&S cards and a card for Zone 2.

 

Alyssa finally stopped crying when I took her over to the window, pointed out the ship, and asked her “which cabin do you think is ours?” She thought about it, and I said, “I bet it’s that one way over there! See that life boat?”

 

0424_aw-1.jpg

(Not the lip!)

 

We talked about the ship and activities and Alyssa was smiling and happy again. (At one point, she was jumping up and down chanting “Party! Party! Party!”) While we waited, I got to meet some nice folks from our CC roll call and introduce Alyssa to some other young cruisers. Crisis over!

 

Around 11:00am, our boarding zone was called, and we were on our way to board the Carnival Legend! Woo hoo! First stop was the Lido deck for lunch. Alyssa and I grabbed a table while Alex went to get himself some lunch and Alyssa some pizza. While we waited, I whipped out a travel “Gone Fisin’” game to keep Alyssa entertained. The little girl seated at the table behind Alyssa was intrigued, so Alyssa invited her to play.

0424_Yay-1.jpg

(All smiles now!)

 

“Laura! Hi, how are you?!?” I looked up to find our long lost friends, Mort and Emily, standing at our table. We originally met as table mates on the Carnival Celebration back in 2004, and hadn’t seen each other since the end of that cruise. We still exchange Christmas cards, and I always make sure to let them know when we’re cruising again and which ship. Well, just a few days before we left for our vacation, I received a surprise note from Emily in the mail telling me that they would be on the Legend with us and that they couldn’t wait to meet Alyssa!

 

We did a quick catch-up at the table, and they introduced me to their first-time-cruising friends, Chuck and Sharon. Then Mort handed Alyssa a snorkel set, which Alyssa just LOVED, and since our cabins were on the same deck, we promised to meet and catch up after the muster drill.

 

After lunch, we sought out Camp Carnival to register Alyssa. (I had registered her online, but forgot to bring the printouts with me.) Finding Camp Carnival (called “Noah’s Ark”) proved to me more difficult than we expected, since many of the corridors were closed off while the cabin stewards got all the rooms ready. We wandered everywhere, trying to get to the front of the ship on deck 5, but finally made it. Alyssa begged me not to register her for Camp Carnival, because she didn’t want to go. I told her she didn’t HAVE to go right then, but that she did need to be registered, in case she changed her mind and wanted to participate in the activities later in the cruise. She wasn’t convinced, but went along anyway.

 

While Alex and Alyssa went to the “open house” at Camp Carnival, I stood by our carry-on bags at the bottom of the stairs and took pictures of the “Enchanted Forest.” Unfortunately, they were not accepting registrations at Camp Carnival until the orientation that evening, so we took our bags to deck 4, since it was only a few minutes before 1:30 when our room would be ready. There, Alex watched the bags while Alyssa and I searched for a deck plan and Fun Times.

 

We got a little lost on our way back to deck 4, and wound up in one the corridor outside the rooms. The door to our cabin was open, so I snapped a few shots from the doorway and moved on. We found Alex just as the doors were opened, so we all went to our cabin to thoroughly check it out. This was our first 4K, cabin 4130, and it was…just ok. For the price, it was neat to have the French doors and natural light, but if given the choice between a standard OV room and a 4K, I would choose the OV.

 

The view was mostly of a lifeboat, but we could see the blue water below, and if I leaned out, I could see a little bit of the horizon between the lifeboats. The main obstruction wasn’t the lifeboat, though, but the huge white metal pulley system/winch that held the lifeboat in place. Bummer!

 

Another disadvantage to the 4K was that we had less space for our things. We wanted to keep the small area in front of the doors clear so we could open them, and since we didn’t have a window, we also didn’t have a window sill for placing items.

 

There was also a small makeshift wooden shim sticking out of the top of the doorframe. It looked like maybe something was rattling there, and someone just rammed a chunk of wood there to stop the noise. I guess it worked, but that, coupled with the TV issue, the sticky black streak on the wall that I mentioned earlier, and the bathroom light issue, made the room feel a bit dilapidated. Plus, when I turned on the faucet at the sink, I got just a small no pressure stream of water that all but dripped down the side of the sink. But it was all just minor cosmetic stuff and wasn’t going to get in the way of our good time!

 

We dropped off our carry-ons, grabbed the bottle of champagne we brought for our long-lost friends, and walked down the hall to Mort and Emily’s cabin. Lucky us, they were there! We visited for a while and Alyssa thanked them for the snorkel set. Then we decided to let them get settled, so I returned to our cabin to decorate our door and unpack, while Alex took Alyssa to the pool and hot tub.

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(Our door banner, sans last name)

 

Amazingly, ALL of our checked luggage arrived to our room by 3:00! With all that stuff to unpack and only one closet with shelves, I was happy that I brought along a hanging sweater shelf from the dollar store for all of Alyssa’s clothes. Her folded shorts and shirts fit perfectly in the canvas shelves, and then there was room at the bottom of the closet for her travel car seat, beach toys, and our excursion bag!

0424_sweaterhanger-1.jpg

(Handy extra shelves, since we didn't bring many "hanging" items.)

 

---

Photos of the ship next...

Edited by Lady_Jag

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Please forgive me for ending my narrative mid-embarkation day, but it is getting very late, and I have a busy work day tomorrow. Before I say goodnight, here are some pictures of our cabin:

0424_Room4130-1-1.jpg

(Looking in from the door)

 

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(Alyssa's bed)

 

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(French doors, decorated by Alyssa)

 

0424_4130outside-1.jpg

(The REAL obstruction!)

 

0424_4130view-1.jpg

(We can see the water...and part of deck 3... below.)

Edited by Lady_Jag

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Great review so far. I'll be on the Legend in less than 2 weeks so I'm soaking up as much info as I can.

 

Oh, good grief, it's 1:00 a.m.!! Time for bed. Can't wait to see more of your review. :)

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We are sailing in a bunch of months:(

 

We contemplated Any Time Dining due to the Bridge. We sailed on the Inspiration in December and loved the experience of going under the bridge and picked this exact cruise so my son and his friend (our other son) could experience it. We had ATD on the Inspiration and even though we didn't have long wait times, we just didn't get the one on one attention the main dining room staff give you. So we are trying Late Dining. I sure hope I can stay up that long!:rolleyes:

 

Really looking forward to it.

 

Always enjoy your reviews!! Read your Inspiration on also.

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We are sailing in a bunch of months:(

 

We contemplated Any Time Dining due to the Bridge. We sailed on the Inspiration in December and loved the experience of going under the bridge and picked this exact cruise so my son and his friend (our other son) could experience it. We had ATD on the Inspiration and even though we didn't have long wait times, we just didn't get the one on one attention the main dining room staff give you. So we are trying Late Dining. I sure hope I can stay up that long!:rolleyes:

 

Really looking forward to it.

 

Always enjoy your reviews!! Read your Inspiration one also.

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We are sailing in a bunch of months:(

 

We contemplated Any Time Dining due to the Bridge. We sailed on the Inspiration in December and loved the experience of going under the bridge and picked this exact cruise so my son and his friend (our other son) could experience it. We had ATD on the Inspiration and even though we didn't have long wait times, we just didn't get the one on one attention the main dining room staff give you. So we are trying Late Dining. I sure hope I can stay up that long!:rolleyes:

 

Really looking forward to it.

 

Always enjoy your reviews!! Read your Inspiration on also.

 

Thank you!

I should mention that the Legend may be traveling faster than the Inspiration, so I think you'd still be able to see the bridge before Early Seating. The weather sort of messed up our bridge experience, but I've read several reviews here that stated the ship went under the bridge before 6:00pm.

 

Still, I'm sure you'll be fine with Late seating if you decide not to switch to Early. With the fiasco of YTD, even if we went to dinner early at 6:00 or 6:30, we were often there until 8:30 - 9:00 (or even later) anyway! :eek:

 

More tonight, when I'm back on my home computer. :cool:

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The muster drill was at 3:30, so around 3:00, I grabbed Alyssa’s cover-up and my camera and made my way to the Lido deck. My first stop was the new Serenity area, which was nearly empty, so I snapped some photos and gave one of the 2-person hammocks a test ride. Ah! Yeah, I could get used to this!

0424_serenity-2.jpg

 

On our last cruise, the muster drill was held in the very cold show lounge, so I dragged my lazy butt out of the hammock and made my way to the pool area so that Alyssa would not be wet and shivering throughout the presentation. She was having so much fun in the pool, that she started to cry when I told her it was time to go. I dried her off, wrapped her in her cover-up, and promised that she wasn’t leaving the pool "forEVER!" (Dang, where do these histrionics come from?!?)

 

We definitely didn’t want to be the first people to the muster station, just in case it was outside…which it was. Alex and I learned when we first started cruising, that you don’t want to be too early for the drill if it’s held on an outer deck. All the passengers who arrive first get packed in like sardines at the back of the deck and have to stand there and sweat it out, while the people who arrive just a little bit later get to stand in the front lines closer to the rail. There were the standard life vest and life boat instructions made over the PA system, while crew members in front pointed and demonstrated the necessary safety procedures. In no time, the drill was over, and everyone was free to stampede back inside like wildebeests. I grabbed Alyssa and Alex and stepped closer to the railing to allow the herd to thin out a bit. There was still plenty of time before the ship would be underway, and I didn’t want to risk looking Alyssa in the mob.

 

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(Crowd shot...looks like SeaWorld on the first day of a new show!)

 

After a few minutes, the traffic jam cleared, so Alex took Alyssa back to the pool while I went back to the cabin to finish unpacking. I know, I know! I’m a nerd and can’t really relax if there are unpacked suitcases in my cabin. I HAVE to be settled in right away, everything in its place, suitcases under the bed. While I unpacked, I saw that our cabin steward’s name was Blessing. “Very appropriate for an Easter cruise,” I thought. We hadn’t met yet, so I left a note with a few bucks requesting a woman’s razor (we had just one men’s razor in the bathroom), some more breakfast room service cards (again, just one hung from the hook), and a couple of laundry bags, since I planned on taking advantage of the laundry special later on in the cruise.

 

During my unpacking process, I glanced at our French doors and did a double-take when I saw that we were moving! The ship was pulling away from port (late…around 4:30), and I didn’t even feel it move! I also didn’t hear any announcements about our departure – lack of info being a small annoyance that would be a recurring theme throughout the cruise. Well, then! I’ll just put these last few items away, and go to the Lido deck for sail away. That’s when the rain started. Bummer. Still, I was impressed that even with the rain, I didn’t feel any of the ship’s motion! We were either traveling really slowly, or this was one smooth sailing ship!

 

Anyway, now that everything was put away, I felt free to wander the ship and get a feel for the layout. By 5:15 I was in one of the lounges for the Camp Carnival registration. (It was best that I not take Alyssa with me, considering how adamantly she objected even to being registered for the program.) As expected, the lounge was pretty crowded. I asked for paperwork for the 2-5 year-old program, got the standard registration form, and requested an allergy form as well. I quickly filled out all the paperwork while one of the CC staff on stage tried to get everyone’s attention and politely shoo away a few kids who had run up on stage. I knew the drill, and wasn’t sure if Alyssa would even participate in the program, so I turned in my completed forms and booked it back to the main pool on the Lido deck.

 

By now the rain had let up, but the sky was still pretty gray and threatening. I spotted Alyssa in the pool with her arm floaties and fish ring float (thanks, Easter bunny!) having a blast while Alex watched from the side. I hated to disturb her fun yet again, but I knew it would take a while to get her cleaned up for dinner, and I had planned for us to go to the MDR just after the ship went under the Skyway bridge (around 6:00 or a little after). This time Alyssa surprised me by willingly leaving the pool when I called her. She knew she had a whole week ahead of her to enjoy it! (Although Alex and I made it clear that if she misbehaved at any point during the cruise, Alyssa would lose her “pool privileges” for the rest of the day. We had to give her a few reminders of this consequence, but for the most part, reminders were all it took to keep her on her best behavior.)

 

We had 2 wonderful surprises waiting for us in our cabin – a plate of chocolate covered strawberries, and a ship on a stick that read “Carnival Conquest.” Alyssa went immediately to the trophy and danced around the room like she had just won an Oscar. “Who sent these?” Alex asked.

“I’m not sure,” I said, looking for the standard Bon Voyage To/From certificate, “there’s no note, but since there’s also a trophy, my guess would be John Heald.” I explained to Alex that I sent a note to John Heald the week prior to ask if he would let the crew know that our CC meet-up was going to be during afternoon tea on Monday. Since we had a large roll call, I didn’t want the crew getting overwhelmed by all of us cramming into one of the aft lounges for tea.

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("Oooo! A trophy!")

 

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(mmmm!)

 

A little aside here about those strawberries – I gave up chocolate for Lent this year, and hadn’t had so much as a chocolate chip since Mardi Gras. So today being Easter, this was essentially my first opportunity for chocolate in all that time, and I was so ready to flip my head back, unhinge my jaw, and dump the entire plateful into my mouth! I had just picked up the plate, when there was a knock at the door. It was our old friends Mort and Emily, and our new friends, Sharon and Chuck.

 

I moved the coffee table back from Alyssa’s bed so everyone would be able to have a seat, then played hostess by offering the strawberries to everyone. Good thing I couldn’t unhinge my jaw that quickly, or all I’d be able to offer them would be a plate full of strawberry stems! We savored one each (ok, sneaky Alyssa helped herself to another when she though no one was looking!), and all agreed that these things were divine! Yum! There were two left, which no one but Alyssa wanted to take, so I placed them in our fridge for later. (By the way – usually the cabinet that houses our fridge is locked since there is a minor in the room, and we have to ask the steward to unlock it. Not the case this time, so we moved all the contents to the cabinet in one of the two night stands so we would have a cold place to keep stuff.)

 

Anyway, we chit-chatted about our plans for the cruise, and Alyssa talked Mort into playing a game of Go Fish with her. Halfway through the game, Mort turned to me and asked, “So what’s the plan for dinner?” It’s weird, but I’m often asked “what’s the plan?” or “what do we do [now]?” whenever I’m in a group of people, even a group of people I don’t know well. I guess my obsessive planning personality surfaces over my natural quiet and introverted tendencies. People can just tell right away that if they don’t want to be bothered making a decision on their own or organizing an activity for more than one person, all they have to do is ask me, and I swallow the bait hook, line and sinker! LOL!

 

“Well,” I said, gazing at the 6 anxious faces turned towards me, “I thought it would be nice to see the ship pass under the bridge, then go to dinner, but…” here I looked out the glass of the French doors and moved my head around to gauge the current weather, “it looks like it’s raining again. So why don’t we head to the dining room now?”

 

Everyone smiled and were agreeable with this Plan B, so we packed up the Go Fish cards and headed out the door. Before I stepped out of the cabin, I noticed my note to Blessing was still on the desk where I left it and the bills still attached. I moved it to a more prominent spot on the desk and stepped out of the room.

 

As I said, this was our first time experiencing YTD. When I booked the cruise, I booked Early Seating, but since it was originally just the 3 of us, I figured why not give YTD a try? So I switched our dining preference through the Carnival web site. When our friends booked the cruise, they had their reservations linked to ours, so they got YTD as well. Had I known there would be 7 of us altogether, I would have stuck with Early seating.

 

Anyway, we arrived at the second floor of the dining room around 6:30 or so. In front of the door was a velvet rope and a sign in front that read “<-- Your Time Dining | Early/Late Seating -->”. As instructed, we entered the dining room to the left of the sign, and there was absolutely no wait for dinner. So far, so good!

 

We were seated at a round table for 8, not next to a window, but close enough to be able to watch the wake from the ship. Our server was Esumitra (“but you can call me Clyde,” he said) and he was a very nice man from India. Now, I always expect the first night at dinner to be chaotic. I’m not sure why, but on every cruise we’ve taken, the first night at dinner is a bit of an unorganized mess. This was by far the messiest though! It took over 2 HOURS to dine that night! Unfortunately, this caused Alyssa’s second disappointment for the day.

 

You see, as adamant as she is about not going to Camp Carnival, the one camp activity Alyssa always looks forward to each cruise is the Welcome Aboard dance party in the disco the first night. Seriously, it’s the reason why she was jumping up and down chanting “Party! Party! Party!” after The Great Security Squirt Gun Fiasco at the terminal. Unfortunately, she had to miss the party this cruise, since it started around 8:00pm, and we weren’t even served desert until 8:30. The party never lasts long, so I was sure we’d never make it before it was over. (Alyssa was a trooper about missing her favorite cruise activity, though, and didn’t even poke her bottom lip out.)

 

“Excuse me?” our hostess, Barbora, called out as she approached our table. “I’m looking for Alex, Laura, and Alyssa W___” (Here I noted that she pronounced our last name correctly on the very first time. And she used the German pronunciation, too, not even the Americanized version!) Alex and I introduced ourselves, wondering if we were going to be receiving another surprise Bon Voyage gift or something from friends or family back home.

 

“I understand zat zair is a shellfish allergy here? Vich of you is allergic?” Barbora asked, and we told her it was all three of us. Then Barbora assured us that there is no cross-contamination in the kitchen, and that our only troubles would be if we ordered the foods that have shellfish as a main ingredient.

 

I wasn’t sure where she was going with this. I mean, d’uh! We would of course have to avoid ordering the foods we’re allergic to, right? What she did next, though, was pretty cool. She brought over the dining room menus for the entire week, and went through each one, day-by-day, pointing out the foods that were “safe” for us, and those that we needed to avoid because they had shrimp or real crab in them. Nice!

 

As we were getting up from the table, Esumitra/Clyde came over with a basket of candy and offered it to each of us. Yum! I plucked a Reese’s peanut butter egg from the basket, as I planned to cut it up tomorrow and mix it in with some ice cream. Alex chose some Easter-colored malt balls, and Alyssa grabbed one of the last Reese eggs. It was at least a sweet ending to a very long dinner.

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(Mort and Emily making their selections.)

 

Afterwards, Mort sought out his favorite activity – karaoke. I could tell Alyssa was exhausted, so we returned back to our cabin to tuck her in and get comfortable for the night. On our bed was our Carnival towel creation, a heart with 3 mini chocolate eggs. On the desk still sat my note with the extra tip attached. Weird.

 

I got Alyssa into her PJs and tucked into bed, and she asked Alex if he would lie next to her, her doll Zoe, and her zebra Martin for a little while. Alex of course accepted the invitation, and the two talked and giggled as Alex made Zoe do little dances and fall onto the bed. “Do Martin now!” Alyssa laughed, then “my arms are cold.” So she pulled her arms under the covers and was out less than a second later.

 

I smiled and filled out our breakfast card for room service the next morning. The next day was our first Fun Day at Sea, so I wrote a later delivery time on the card to allow us to sleep in. Whether Alyssa would allow us to sleep in the next morning was questionable!

 

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More chocolate! Yay!

---

Up next: Photos of Serenity and around the ship

Edited by Lady_Jag

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Shower

 

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Lounge chairs and hammock. (Taken just before muster drill. Note the cloudy but blue sky.)

 

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General seating. Not shown: Tables and chairs just on the other side of the 1/2 wall on the right.

 

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Clamshell

 

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Storm rolling in.

 

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So long, Tampa!

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Steakhouse stairs

 

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These windows about midway down the corridor on deck 4 were cool! They looked out over the main atrium and there were 4-5 of them in a row.

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Unicorn Cafe

 

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Nice view of the FL Aquarium

 

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Edited by Lady_Jag

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Only 9 more days and we will be on this wonderful ship!! Your pictures are a perfect way to pass the time and get even more excited!!! THANKS!!

 

Can't wait for more!

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I'm sure they took away her water guns because some other kid or adult were bothering others and being rude so now everyone suffers

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I'm sure they took away her water guns because some other kid or adult were bothering others and being rude so now everyone suffers

 

Actually, they took it away because Carnival rules are that no passengers may bring any weapons or any replicas of weapons on board. I saw this in the contract or FAQs on the Carnival site when I booked our cruise, but totally spaced out and didn't think about the small colored plastic guns being considered replicas of weapons. (My bad!)

 

The really sad thing was that Alex saw a kid playing with a water blaster (like the one they took from Alyssa) in the pool on the ship! I guess the kid got it through checked bags...either that, or security took the Carnival employee's advice and "lightened up." :rolleyes:

Edited by Lady_Jag

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We'll the security personal (wannabees) tend to think there gods. They gave a friend of ours a hard time over her cell phone after it went through the x-ray machine. He didnt understand it was her cell phone. I love the photo of the Liberty ship there in tampa. Been on it, its amazing to see a WWII ship. Wow you are right that is one heck of a blocked view. I also forgot they still do the muster drill the old way on the other ships. Were used to the dream class now.

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Please forgive my absence the last couple of days. I've had a lot on my plate, but am slowly getting back on track. Thanks for your patience.

---

Since today was a day at sea, we slept late...well, as late as Alyssa would allow us. She was very excited, especially when room service arrived with her breakfast! I gave Alyssa a couple of bucks to give to the nice server who delivered her chocolate muffins and my hot tea. "Oh! I like your window decorations," he said, indicating the window gel stick-ons Alyssa used to decorate our French doors. Alyssa beamed, "Thank you!" and then lifted the plate cover, "Mmmmmm! Chocolate muffins! Yummy! Yummy in my tummy!" I smiled, thanked the man, then noticed too late that even though I wrote "+More breakfast order cards, please" on our order, there were none on the tray. Oh well. There would be another chance (or ten) to request more.

The previous evening, I sat down with Alyssa and read through all the Camp Carnival activities for the week. I told her that she didn't have to go if she didn't want to, but I wanted her to at least listen to the planned activities, in case there was another dance party or something fun she really wanted to do. She listened and rejected the first few things I read off, then forgot her resistance to CC and she said "yes" to about 80% of the activities on the schedule, which I circled. Well, this morning she changed her mind again and asked if she could spend all day in the pool instead of going to Camp. Well, ok, I guess.

While Alex went to the Lido for breakfast, I gave Alyssa a shower, got her into her swim suit, and hopped in the shower. Just as I was turning off the water, I heard a knock at the cabin door. "Who is it?" I heard Alyssa call, "what? Who is it? What?" Then to my horror, I heard her OPEN the cabin door! It was Mort and friends, checking in to see what our plans were for today. I heard Mort talk to Alyssa a bit, Alyssa told him I was in the shower, and then Mort called out, "Laura, are you ok?" I affirmed that all was well in the steamy bathroom, then Mort said goodbye and told Alyssa, "Now don't open the door for ANYone!" before he left the cabin. Sigh! Well, at least Alyssa asked who was at the door before she opened it. Now if only she'll remember not to open the door until she KNOWS who it is... and AFTER I tell her it's ok!

Alex arrived back at the cabin not long afterwards and turned on the morning show with "Weeeeeeee Jimmy" and the ACD, "Juice Box." (The names on this ship took me back to my broadcast radio days when I was in college.) Wee Jimmy and JB droned on about the day's activities and read the Fun Times almost verbatim. Wee Jimmy asked for people to call in to chat and then he and Juice Box had a little side bar about how no one usually calls in on the first day. I asked Alyssa if she would like to call in and tell a joke, and of course she said emphatically, "Yes!" So I dialed the number, and told Wee Jimmy that 5-year-old Alyssa would like to tell him a joke, if that was ok. Wee Jimmy seemed genuinely happy to have the diversion, so I put Alyssa on the phone after a little dialog about there being a dancer named "Alyssa" on the ship, and the dancer Alyssa taught Wee Jimmy how to correctly pronounce the name "Alyssa" (by leaving the "M" off the name, "Melissa.")

"Alyssa," Wee Jimmy said, "How old are you?"

"5," answered Alyssa.

"And where do you live?" he asked.

She told him her hometown.

"Do you have a joke for me, Al...Melissa-Alyssa...Alyssa?" asked Wee Jimmy.

"Yes. Why did the chicken cross the road, roll in the mud, and cross the road again?"

Wee Jimmy made the obligatory pause before repeating the joke, "I don't know Al...Melissa-Alyssa...I don't know, Alyssa, why did the chicken cross the road, roll in the mud, and cross the road again?"

Alyssa smiled broadly and exclaimed, "Because he was a dirty, double-crosser!" Then she laughed.

Wee Jimmy and Juice Box chuckled, and then Wee Jimmy invited Alyssa to meet the dancer, Alyssa, before the evening's show, "Jazz Hot," and then invited her to tell her joke on stage before the show as well. Alyssa was thrilled beyond belief! We said our goodbyes, hung up the phone, and much to Wee Jimmy's relief, Alyssa's phone call queued a couple of other passengers to call in. Her bit, though, became a real treat for Alyssa, as it aired over and over again on the in-cabin TV.

So with a new found celebrity among us, the 3 of us made our way to the kiddie pool. It sure was windy on those upper decks! Alex had Alyssa’s cover-up over his shoulder as he climbed the stairs to deck 10. Alyssa followed, and I climbed the stairs behind her to make sure she didn’t fall. Whoosh! A gust of wind grabbed Alyssa’s cover-up off Alex’s shoulder, blew it over Alyssa’s head, and draped it over MY shoulder! It happened so quickly and so smoothly, that Alex didn’t even realize he had lost it! Ha!

We made it to the kiddie pool (only steps away from the slide), and I noticed there were plenty of deck chairs available. Cool! So we anchored everything down between two chairs near the pool, gave Alyssa her pool toys, and opened the gate to let her in. As Alyssa started to walk through the gate, another little girl ran over and pushed Alyssa out of the way, slid on the slick deck in front of the pool, and landed on her butt with a heavy THUD! The girl started to cry and her father (who said nothing when he watched the girl push Alyssa), picked her up and brought her out of the pool area. Alyssa, meanwhile, had already moved to the pool and was playing with other little kids and sharing her toys.

Alex and I relax in the loungers nearby, and I watched a mother bring her diapered toddler into the pool. A second mother carried her diapered child into the area, stopped in front of the rules posted nearby (right where the first mother was sitting), then carried her child out. I saw the second mother shake her head at her friend, apparently relaying the rule that diapered/non-potty trained children were not allowed, and the three of them left. I looked back over at Alyssa, and she was gathering up all her toys. She brought them all to me and asked me to put them in her bag for her. “You don’t want to play with them anymore?” I asked, “Why don’t you keep them in the pool and share them with the other kids?”

“Mommy,” Alyssa said, very seriously, “I WAS sharing them, but then that baby” [here, Alyssa pointed over to the diapered child] “LICKED one! Yuck!”

I suppressed a chuckle, nodded, and held out the bag for Alyssa to dump her toys. Alyssa went back to the pool to play with the baby and what looked like the baby’s older brother. Big Brother started splashing water in Alyssa face, and I saw Alyssa protest. He splashed her again, Alyssa yelled, then came back to me. “Mommy, can we go to the big pool now, please?”

So down the stairs we went to the main pool, where a lot of kids played, but the surrounding area wasn’t nearly as crowded as I was expecting! There were lots of people there, but not many chair hogs from the looks of it. We wanted to keep a close eye on Alyssa while she was in the pool, and since all the chairs with a clear view of the pool were actually taken, we made ourselves comfortable on the pool ledge. In no time, though, I saw two ladies stand up from two of the chairs and start gathering their stuff, so I swooped in and asked if they were leaving if I could take their chairs. They said sure, so I plopped down and signaled to Alex. He was content with being in the pool with Alyssa, so I removed our things from the chair next to me and left it open for someone else.

The next couple of hours were a mix of relaxing and playing. Alex and I would tag team each other so that we could take turns swimming with Alyssa and relaxing in the chair. In this way, we were able to have lunch, albeit separately. Around 1:15 or so, the hot tub Alyssa and I were in started overflowing with lots of kids who were jumping in with ice cream cones. I told Alyssa it was time to go and get her some lunch, and since the hot tub was too crowded for even my 5-year-old to move, Alyssa was more than willing to go.

We ordered a slice of cheese pizza for Alyssa, and within 60 seconds, we were walking back to our cabin with Alyssa’s lunch. Once there, I set Alyssa up at the coffee table, called room service to order a slice of chocolate cake for her dessert, then called Guest Services to ask for maintenance to fix our no-pressure bathroom sink. Room service arrived quickly, much to Alyssa’s delight.

While Alyssa ate, Blessing stopped by to take our ice bucket so he could refill it and told me that he got my note, but that there were no ladies’ razor available. I asked if we could get a second standard razor then, and he said he would see if he could find one, but that they were samples and usually only one per cabin. I thought this was odd, as on all my previous cruises, there have always been 2 new razors in the bathroom the first day of our cruise. Oh well! At least I knew why Blessing wouldn’t take my note or tip.

Someone from Maintenance arrived shortly after I talked to Blessing. He spent all of 4 minutes fixing the sink and voila! We had water pressure! Yay! Meanwhile, Alyssa finished her last bite of cake and said “I’m cold.” Time for my master plan!

“Well, why don’t you get all snuggly under the covers, and I’ll turn on the TV for us,” I suggested. She climbed under the covers and was asleep before I could even push the power button on the remote! Mission accomplished!

I powered up my iPad, thinking I would be able to access the “Currently Aboard” Funville forum on the Carnival web site and touch base with family and friends for free. (Thanks, CC members, for that tip!) Well, I was able to access the forum, but I couldn’t post TO the forum using my iPad, because instead of a text BOX, the forum used a text EDITOR that my iPad didn’t recognize. Oh well! I needed sleep anyway, so I curled up for a nice nap before our 3:30 tea time and CC Meet and Greet.

At 3:00, I was awakened to a PA announcement in the cabin calling out “Operation Bright Star” to all crew members. Yikes! The ship had slowed substantially – I had to glance at the water outside to see if we were even still moving. Alyssa continued to snooze, and I listened for more information on whether someone would be evacuated via helicopter, or if we would be routed briefly to another port. No further announcements about the situation was made, so I hoped and prayed that whoever it was who needed medical attention recovered without any need to leave the ship that day.

With Alex back in the cabin and Alyssa still napping, I headed for the second floor of Truffles, the main dining room, for tea and to meet the people from our roll call. I was happy to see that quite a few Cruise Critic folks showed up – our group populated 4-5 of the large tables in the back. Esumitra, our waiter from the previous night, was also there with a smile and a “Hello, Ms. Laura!” (Have I mentioned how much I loved the friendly staff on this ship?!?)

I sat at a table for 8 and chatted a bit, then noticed that another of our group and his family were seated by themselves at the table next to ours. Now, I’m a shy introvert by nature, but on a cruise I tend to slip into an entirely different persona (I call her “Lola”). Not that I’m schizophrenic or anything, but like the ads depict in Carnival’s marketing campaign, when I’m on a cruise, I do and try things I wouldn’t even think about in my normal life. So I excused myself from the table where I was seated and carried my tea over to the other table so that no one from our roll call would feel left out or awkward.

After we “closed the place down” I took the stairs down to the Future Cruise Certificate desk and purchased 2 certificates, noting the changes from last year’s certificates to this year’s. There were 2 major differences: last year, when I bought an FCC on the Dream, it was good for 5 years, but now it’s good for only 2 years. (You must book within 2 years, but you can sail as late as 3 years from the purchase date.) The other difference was that you can now redeem the certificates online, instead of sending them to Miami via certified mail. Cool! Other than those two changes, I knew the routine already, so I didn’t need to spend much time at the desk purchasing my FCCs.

I walked back to the cabin to clean up. Alex and Alyssa were playing Princess Uno when I walked in, and they finished their game while I got ready for our first Elegant Evening. I helped Alyssa and her doll, Zoe, into their matching dresses, and in no time we were ready to go. We called Mort’s cabin and asked if they were up for some sushi before dinner, but they weren’t fans of sushi, so we told them we’d meet them at the dining room later.

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(Alyssa and Zoe)

Now, according to the “Fun Times,” the sushi bar hours were something like 5:00pm-8:00pm that evening, but when we arrived at the sushi bar at 6:00, it was closed, dark and empty. Boo! Oh well, we had ample time to get some formal portraits made. A woman holding a cute little baby in a beautiful white flower girl dress stopped us near one of the staircases and asked if we would take their picture. We were happy to oblige, and Alyssa couldn’t get enough of that baby! The same woman and baby wound up behind us in line for one of the backdrops, and Alyssa entertained and shared Zoe with the baby while we waited. When it was our turn, wanted photos of just herself and Zoe (she’s such a diva!) and after a few shots, she was kind enough to “allow” me and Alex in the picture with her.

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(The pics taken on the ship didn't turn out well enough to be worth $20, so we took our own.)

Again, we had no wait for a table at dinner, and even wound up at the same table with the same wait team. And this time, we managed to get out of there in right around an hour and 45 minutes – 15 minutes faster than the previous night! Woo hoo! Before we left the table, our assistant waiter called to Alyssa and said he had a special treat for her. She was intrigued and watched him fold a napkin over and over until it formed…a turtle! It was really neat!

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(Zoe enjoyed dinner.)

We left the dining room and I took Alyssa to the main show lounge to meet Alyssa the dancer and tell her joke to the audience before the show. I spotted Wee Jimmy talking to some people by the stage, so Alyssa and I walked over to him and waited for him to finish his conversation. When he looked up, I introduced myself and Alyssa, and he asked where we were sitting. “Ummm…here, I guess,” pointing to the empty front row to the right of the stage.

“OK then, Alyssa” I’ll come over and get you when it’s time,” he said. Alyssa sat down with Zoe and me and beamed with excitement.

Juice Box came over to say hello and Alyssa said “I’m going to be on that stage!”

“Oh, are you going to be a dancer when you grow up?” she asked.

“Yep! And I’m going to be on that stage!” repeated Alyssa.

After a moment, Wee Jimmy came over with a microphone and said “Let’s practice, Alyssa.” Then he did a mock interview with Alyssa, and had her tell her joke. “Ok,” he said, and he turned the mic on, led Alyssa up to the stage stairs in front of us (the stage itself was taped/roped off), and said “Ladies and gentlemen, this morning I met a lovely young lady, who has a joke she’d like to share with everyone. Before the show, would you like to meet her?” (Applause and cheers.)

“Ok. Tell us, sweetheart, what’s your name?” asked Wee Jimmy.

“Alyssa.”

“And how old are you, Alyssa?”

“5,” Alyssa replied, holding up her right hand.

“Oh, you’re so cute! Do you have a boyfriend?”

“Yes.”

“What’s his name?”

“Nicholas,” Alyssa grinned.

“Is he cute?”

Alyssa giggled and nodded.

“Do you think Wee Jimmy is cute?”

More giggling from Alyssa.

Wee Jimmy smiled, “Well I understand you have a joke for us.”

Alyssa told her chicken joke, which was well received, then Wee Jimmy had her take a bow before sending her back to her seat.

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I gave Alyssa a high five and hug and told her how great she was. She was on cloud 9, and a moment later, Wee Jimmy passed through the aisle on a cell phone, telling someone on the other end that he just interviewed a little girl who “was so CUTE!”

Unfortunately, Alex arrived too late to see Alyssa tell her joke, but he was right on time for the show. By the way, “Jazz Hot” was ok…it wasn’t great, but I’m not really one for musical revues. Alyssa got a little restless a couple of times, but really enjoyed the more upbeat numbers.

Anyway, after the show, Alex brought Alyssa back to the cabin to tuck her in, and I walked over to the Holmes Library to log into the Carnival Funville forums and post an update.

 

Around 10:30, I was at the photo kiosk, looking for an extra SD card for my camera. I had an 8GB card already, but I failed to pack my extra SD cards, and I wanted to change out my main card before we went into Cozumel the next day.

You see, I expected to be in and around a lot of water with my camera while we were in the various ports, so I bought an AquaPac waterproof case for those photos. (I love my camera didn’t want to buy and keep up with a second underwater digital camera.) I was a little nervous because this was my first time using the case, so I wanted to have an SD card just for excursions in case the case failed. That way, I’d lose only the pictures from that day, and not all my vacation photos from the entire trip.

So when I arrived at the photo the photographers who were doing portraits earlier that evening were packing up their cameras and tripods and such. I double-checked the Fun Times, and it stated that the photo gallery would be open until 11pm. Well, I guess “photo gallery” doesn’t include the registers at the kiosk, because when one of the photographers asked if I needed help and I told him what I was after, he said “sorry, but we’re closed.”

I gave the photographer my I’m-stupid-and-have-no-clue-what-you-just-said look, so he elaborated and said something like “we’re never open on elegant evenings.” Ummm…ok. So I guess people can LOOK at their pictures in the photo gallery, but can’t PURCHASE them? Weird!

I asked the photographer if he knew where I could get a card the next day, and after asking confirmation from his fellow photographer that the photo kiosk wouldn’t open until late, he said, “You can get one in Cozumel.”

“Anywhere in particular?” I asked, “preferably near the pier, since we’ll be taking a taxi to Chankanaab when we leave the ship.”

“You should be able to find a place downtown that sells them pretty cheap. Just take a taxi to downtown and ask the driver to take you to a Walgreens. They’ll know where it is.”

“Thanks, but I’ll have a little one with me, and I’d rather not have to take a cab downtown for just an SD card and then have to take another cab to Chankanaab. Do you know if there’s a place around the pier that sells them?”

“Yes,” he said, “just ask the taxi driver to take you to the Walgreens downtown.”

Uh-huh. I smiled, thanked the photographer for his help, then tried to find a discreet place nearby where I could bang my head against a wall. (Head banging is becoming a recurring cruise theme for me!) Actually, I thanked the kind gentleman for his help and went back to the cabin to pack our excursion backpack for Cozumel the next day. I took my camera from my normal camera bag, removed the SD card, and placed the camera in its waterproof case. I was pretty sure if I asked enough people when we got off the ship, I’d be able to find a place at the pier that sold cards.

0425_monkeytowel-1-1.jpg

(Tonight's towel animal)

Next up, Cozumel.

Edited by Lady_Jag

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We are leaving on her on Sunday so I am eagerly awaiting your review of the new route.

Couple of questions if you don't mind.

Which nights were "dress up" :D night?

Do you know if any of the rooms got new TV's?

Was the Serenity area crowded?

 

Thanks.

Can't wait for your review. We watched you sail away this afternoon! Have a great time :)

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Enjoying your review, you daughter is a cutie. How fun for her that she got to tell her joke:) I am looking forward to hearing about your trip to the turtle farm in Grand Cayman (if that is where you did end up going). I remember reading in a another thread that you were thinking about booking thru Boatwain's on line to save 20% and taking thier bus...I emailed them regarding thier bus two weeks ago and have not heard back, so hopefully if you went you can share how you got there and if it was worth it etc....thank you:)

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Enjoying your review, you daughter is a cutie. How fun for her that she got to tell her joke:) I am looking forward to hearing about your trip to the turtle farm in Grand Cayman (if that is where you did end up going). I remember reading in a another thread that you were thinking about booking thru Boatwain's on line to save 20% and taking thier bus...I emailed them regarding thier bus two weeks ago and have not heard back, so hopefully if you went you can share how you got there and if it was worth it etc....thank you:)

 

Thank you!

We did buy discounted tickets for the turtle farm online. We had no problem with the shuttle to and from Boatswain's (except for one particular uppity passenger on the way back, but that's another story!) We asked about the shuttle at the Info kiosk in port, and they just put us on a big bus with the Carnival excursion. For the return trip, we were allowed to take any of the departing shuttle vans, so we weren't on a set time schedule like the folks on the Carnival excursion.

 

We had a really good time there and stayed many hours, so yeah - I'd say it was worth it, especially if you have little ones. I'll cover all the details later on in my recap, but right now I'm completely zonked from a very long day and will have to pick up again tomorrow. (Sorry! :o)

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Thank you!

We did buy discounted tickets for the turtle farm online. We had no problem with the shuttle to and from Boatswain's (except for one particular uppity passenger on the way back, but that's another story!) We asked about the shuttle at the Info kiosk in port, and they just put us on a big bus with the Carnival excursion. For the return trip, we were allowed to take any of the departing shuttle vans, so we weren't on a set time schedule like the folks on the Carnival excursion.

 

We had a really good time there and stayed many hours, so yeah - I'd say it was worth it, especially if you have little ones. I'll cover all the details later on in my recap, but right now I'm completely zonked from a very long day and will have to pick up again tomorrow. (Sorry! :o)

 

 

Thank you for your reply, I am looking forward to reading your recap...my children are a 9 and 11 but I still think they would enjoy the turtle farm. No reason to be sorry that you are unable to write more, we all know the time and effort it takes to write a review and to get back in the swing of things with work, kids etc.:)

 

Ps in my first reply I meant THEIR not Thier lol I missed typed twice :D

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Room service was right on time today with Alyssa’s chocolate muffins. She scarfed all 3 of them down and was ready to go! We grabbed our excursion bag and headed for the Lido deck so that Alex and I could eat some breakfast too.

 

I was happy to see the omelet station was empty. I guess most of the other passengers were on the way to their excursions in Cozumel and already leaving the ship on deck…ummm…I wasn’t exactly sure WHICH deck we were supposed to exit the ship. I heard no announcements when we docked at Cozumel, none when passengers were cleared to leave the ship, and I had no idea where we were supposed to go. Oh well! I decided we would just get in the elevators to go to the lowest deck, deck A. Score!

 

We were off the ship (after the obligatory pictures behind the cardboard life ring and the yellow-feathered cha-cha girl) around 10:00am ship’s time. Now, the last few times I visited Cozumel, it was so hot I thought I would spontaneously combust the second I stepped off the ship. This time, though, the weather in Cozumel was AWESOME! It was overcast and windy (VERY windy), instead of scorching hot and humid. The only problem was once off the ship, Alyssa turned into a kite. Or at least, she could have passed for a kite, as the wind was REALLY strong! We were docked next to the Carnival Inspiration, and the tunnel created by the two ships side by side was fiercely windy! Once we rounded the corner of the pier, the wind died down a bit, and we could loosen our grip a little bit on Alyssa.

 

First thing I noticed was that the pier had shrunk since last time. It was no longer a long stretch of concrete to traverse before reaching the shops and restaurants in port. Instead, there was a little strip of shops right there between the ships and the port area, where they funneled all the passengers. The only way off the dock was through the stores, where the merchants asked you if you would like to buy perfume, vanilla, tequila, hot sauce, etc. Well, at least it was air conditioned!

0426_Legendcu-1.jpg

(The Carnival Legend docked at the pier. The "new" strip of shops is barely in the picture on the left.)

 

Once at the end of the pier, I asked around for a place that sold SD cards for my camera. Alex and Alyssa waited while I went on my mission, and I managed to find a 4GB mini-SD card with SD adapter for $23 at "Drugs & Deli," which was a few bucks cheaper than the card the ship sold. Cool!

 

During this time, Alex and Alyssa went in search for me, and a merchant called out to Alex, “Come in, senior! I make you a deal!”“No thanks, I’m just looking for my wife,” Alex responded.

 

Without missing a beat, the merchant said, “Sheez een here, senior!” LOL!

 

So armed with my camera, excursion backpack, Alyssa's car seat, and sand bucket of toys, we walked to the taxi station and hopped in a cab to Chankanaab Nature Park. There, I presented my internet coupon for $5 off for the 3 of us, and paid $51 for me, Alex, and Alyssa to enter. (Still a lot cheaper than Disney, and not NEARLY as crowded…at least at first!)

 

As we did when we visited the park last year, we stored Alyssa's car seat (too big for the lockers) at the information desk at the entrance. We bypassed the pool, and took Alyssa to the lagoon, where she had fun playing in the water, trying to catch tiny minnow-like fish, and building a sand castle with her mom. Alex and I commandeered 2 Adirondack chairs under the shade of a palapa while she played with her beach toys.

0426_Lagoon-1.jpg

(Lagoon area. The pelican in the foreground provided great entertainment, swooping in, catching fish, and bobbing along during his snack.)

0426_Chankanaab-1.jpg

(Shop/rental place near the lagoon. The Sea Lion theater is the theater in the background on the right.)

 

Another family came into the lagoon and started tossing around Alyssa’s beach ball that she left at the edge of the lagoon. “Hey!” Alyssa called, “You can play with it, but don’t throw it, because the wind will blow it away!” The family ignored her, and before long, Alyssa’s ball was being pelted against the jagged rocks that divided the lagoon and the ocean. The mom pointed to the ball and called to her son, who simply swam away. The mom then shrugged and moved onto other activities with the other kids. She watched as the wind blew the ball over the rocks and into the ocean on the other side, looked at Alyssa, then walked away without a single word of apology. Grrr! Alex, being the great dad he is, walked across the rocks to retrieve Alyssa’s ball before it was lost at sea, and we decided to deflate it (there was already a tiny hole in it from the rocks) and let Alyssa play with it another time.

 

I wanted to go to the sea lion show, and since I couldn't talk Alyssa into seeing the show with me, I went alone. About that time, I accidentally rubbed sand and/or sunscreen into my left eye, and the darn thing watered and winked for HOURS after! Seriously, it watered so much, my nose started to run, and I wondered if I was suddenly stricken with pink eye, since I couldn't see well out of it and couldn't stop the tears from pouring out of the corner.

 

Anyway, the sea lion show was ok and probably would have been more enjoyable if my eye wasn't misbehaving. Afterward, I walked back to our palapa and let Alex explore the park while I watched Alyssa out of my "good" eye.

 

Alex came back with the daily special... a margarita, which I gladly accepted. By this time, the park was PACKED! (Did I mention there were 3 or 4 other big cruise ships in port with us?!?) Alyssa was happy, though, because there were plenty of kids to play with and share toys with (as long as she didn’t share with the rude and thoughtless family!)

 

Alex said that while I was at the show, Alyssa had floated past her comfort level in the lagoon (she couldn't touch the bottom), and called out for help. He said that before he could go in and get her, a little boy grabbed her around the waist and dragged her back to the shallower end. She chased him around for a while, then made some new friends on the beach.

 

By 2:00 or so (my eye was STILL watering), we decided to head back to the pier so that we could do a little shopping before the last call. (We had to be back on board by 5:30.) I wanted some vanilla, and was determined that THIS time I’d get the real stuff, and not the “Bebe de vanilla” (vanilla drink) that I accidentally got a few years ago when I was in a hurry to get back to the ship!

 

Once again, I was armed with an internet coupon for 10% off my purchase at "Los Cincos Soles" (The 5 Suns). Alyssa asked pretty please for an ornament, and I got a 1/2 liter of vanilla for me and a bag of coffee for my mom. The guy at the register wound up giving me 20% off instead of 10% (I'd like to think I was just so charming!), so I was happy. We stopped back in “Drugs & Deli” for a Coke Lite and some diaper rash cream to put on the sand rash Alyssa now had just at the tops of the back of her thighs from playing in the sand and surf all those hours. We also checked the price of sunscreen, since we were starting to get a little low on the spray Alex and I used. $20!?! No thanks!

 

Back on board, we grabbed a bite to eat (Alyssa had cheese pizza yet again), then back to the cabin to shower and change. I tried to talk Alyssa into taking a little nap, but that wasn't going to happen this time. Our FCCs were waiting for us in our cabin, but our last name was completely misspelled on both certificates. So back the FCC desk I went. Well, at least it gave me a chance to sample today’s sushi, since the sushi cart was right there. I heard the ship's horn blow – time to watch the runners!

 

The Inspiration next to us must have been leaving shortly after the Legend, as there were a LOT of people boarding the Inspiration, but alas! No runners for the Legend. The wind had picked up again, and I saw a man in line to board the Legend drop his S&S card. Before he could even look down to find where it landed, the wind took the card and blew it down the pier. Two or three people tried and failed to catch it. One of the Legend crew in an officer’s uniform was standing by the gangplank to the Legend and stomped on the card like it was a giant flying cucaracha! The other passengers in line applauded. Yes, the next destination for that card would have been off the side of the pier!

 

I looked at my watch, and it was after our 6:00pm departure time. The crew were starting to push the gangplank back onto the ship, when a very large lady came shuffling, or maybe staggering, along towards the Legend. She stopped to chat with one of the workers on the pier, then she stared over the side of the pier at the beautiful turquoise water. The officer who had caught the S&S card at the gangway sang out "C'mon! It's time to go!" She slowly dragged herself over to the gangplank and I heard her ask, "Oh, am I the last one?" Duh!

 

I grabbed another plate of sushi and carried it back to the cabin for Alex. The cabin was empty. I thought he was probably looking for me, so still armed with a plate of sushi, I walked down the hall to the stairwell. I saw Blessing and said hello. He told me he left more breakfast cards in our cabin for me (yay!), and thinking I was trying to unload a dirty dish, he said something like, "you can just leave the plate in your room and I'll take care of it."

 

"Oh," I blushed, "I'm actually bringing this to my husband."

 

As the Legend pulled further away from the pier and the Inspiration, I checked decks 2 and 3 for Alex and gave this plate of sushi a tour of the ship, aft to bow, both inside and out:

0426_sushicu2-1.jpg

 

I felt ridiculous walking the promenade outside and passing the main dining room windows, so I made my way back inside, found a tray by Satchmo's lounge where one of the staff was placing dirty dishes and glass, and stacked the plate neatly. Then I climbed the stairs to the Lido deck, did a quick look for Alex and Alyssa, and decided to just chill out a bit in the Serenity area.

 

All the hammocks and clamshells were taken, and although there were some flip-flops enjoying the view from a few of the loungers, there were still chairs available. I was about to sit in one of the loungers overlooking the ship's wake when I saw some people getting up and gathering their things from the clamshell nearby. "Excuse me," I asked them, "Are you leaving? Can I take your spot?"

 

"We are leaving, but they already asked us for this spot," she apologized, pointing to an approaching group.

 

"You can have OUR spot over there," a guy from said group told me, pointing to a clamshell closer to the hammocks."

 

I thanked him, and climbed into the bed-like lounger to enjoy a few minutes of serenity before resuming my search for Alex and then going to dinner. Ah!

 

Service at dinner was a little faster this night. Not a WHOLE lot faster, but that was ok...we had no where to be anyway. Tonight it was just the 3 of us instead of 7 since we ate much later than our friends. We were seated at a booth with an entirely different wait team, and Alyssa got the princess treatment big time.

 

I ordered a cheese plate for Alyssa’s starter, which came with grapes and a strawberry. She immediately downed the strawberry, then when she spotted a waiter (he wasn’t even our waiter that night), waved and said "excuse me, may I have another strawberry please?" The waiter smiled and brought her a plate FULL of sliced strawberries! Then, when her main entree arrived (pizza, of course!) the waiter actually cut it up for her! Awesome! On every cruise at every previous dinner, if Alyssa ordered pizza from the kids’ menu, she was served an unsliced mini pan pizza, which Alex or I would have to slice for her. Not that having to cut up my daughter's food is a big deal for either of us, but what an unexpected nicety to have someone else do it!

 

As we were getting up to leave, one of the waiters came over with another napkin animal for Alyssa. I think it was a rat, but I'm not really sure. It was a sweet gesture, though, and Alyssa fell in love with it when the waiter was making it race up and down his arm. We thanked him, left the dining room, then did a quick look through the shops for sunscreen ($15...pass), a ship pin, and an ornament (it had the original $10 price scratched out and a $12 price written in.)

 

0426_rat2-1.jpg

(I think it's a rat?)

 

Back to the cabin to recoup from our long day in the Mexican sun. Alyssa curled up with her napkin rat and went right to sleep. I took a few minutes to repack our excursion bag and check the next day’s “Fun Times” for the location where we would have to gather in order to get a spot on one of the tenders for Belize. The paper stated that if you're leaving the ship before 10:30, to go to the main stage on the Lido deck after 9:00 and get a numbered ticket. I made a mental note and hung our breakfast card on the outside of our door. Tomorrow would be another leisure day in a different port.

 

0426_bunny-1.jpg

(Our bunny towel animal tonight used the same "body" as the monkey.)

Edited by Lady_Jag
funky font display

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