Cavscout Posted May 9, 2005 #1 Share Posted May 9, 2005 Arrived at the Tampa airport about 1:00 pm. On the way to baggage claim passed several Carnival greeters gathering those who were using the “meet and greet”. We had not, so we grabbed our bags (2 with clothes and 1 with snorkel gear and room for purchases on the trip). First we went out the end of the building to try and join a shuttle to the pier but the guy in the booth was too busy on the phone to acknowledge us so we went back to get a taxi. The drive thru was full of personal vehicles and we didn’t see any taxi’s. A few steps up the side walk and we found the Taxi Stand. A Taxi came out of nowhere and we were loaded and on our way for $20.00. Time now @ 1:15. The drive to the port on Saturday AM was fairly quick and the cabbies foot was fairly heavy J . Arrived at the port about 1:40. Porters met us at the cab and introduced himself and said he would make sure our bags made it on board. Paid $2 per bag and we headed to the door to embark. We were greeted by a carnival person happily directing us were to go. A few steps further and our Cruise Docs were happily checked by another employee. We were directed up the escalator and there was another employee there to direct us and tell us what documents to have ready. Thru a security screen and then into a large room to get our ID’s checked and Sign and Sail Cards issued. This room was huge and was barely full thanks to the efficiency of the carnival personnel. The people working there were very pleasant and helpful so if you don’t know what you need to do, rather than stand in the middle confusing everything it is better to ask someone so the flow keeps moving. We had a couple of photos taken and then directed to the gangway. As we stepped onto the ship on the Empress Deck, a greeter was there to hand us a map of the ship. Time now 1:50. So far it took me longer to get off the plane than anything else. We made our way to the Brasserie Grill at the back of the boat and 3 floors up for lunch. Many people were already on the boat and in the pool or sunning. I don’t recall exactly what was served but I know it was good as was all the food we had. After lunch, we headed to our room on the Main deck. Our bags were already by our door. We took everything inside and were impressed how big 185 sqft. Actually is. The bed was put together for a couple. The bathroom was larger than we had expected. The shower was almost as big as a fiberglass shower in a house. Towel bars were everywhere. There was an outlet on the light fixture and some room around the sink as well as the medicine cabinet. But most of our stuff went in the shoe organizer we hung from the towel rack on the wall in front of the toilet. I preferred this so that as the door swung open and closed it was not clunking back and forth. The room had two power outlets by the desk but I was glad I had the power strip so I could keep my cell phone on a charge as well as the video camera and my wife could use here hair care devices as needed. We never used the extension cord but there may be a need with more than two people in a room. Our room had about 10 or 15 hangers in the closets, 5 shelves, and 5 drawers. Plenty of storage for two people. I also had brought about 8 plastic hangers. We used them but could have done without them. Time now is probably about 2:45. Carnival was very efficient and pleasant thru the entire embarkation process. What a great way to start our first cruise. After unpacking we headed out to tour the ship. The captain announced we would be about an hour late departing but once your on the boat, who cares. We went to the dinning room to try to change from the late seating to the early seating we had requested. The Matri D’ said no problem but wanted us to consider keeping the time because they had arranged for us to sit with other couples our age and that young couples tend to prefer the later seating. For the most part he was right but there were a couple nights we skipped late dinner and used the alternate dinning areas. About 5:00 we made our way to the front of the boat to watch our departure. Slowly the boat pushed off and eased down the channel to the bay. It took about two hours to reach the Gulf. At 8:30 we met our table mates and enjoyed there company very much. There were many common traits so it was comfortable but enough differences to make it interesting. Our Head server was Peter and Assistant Server was Henry. I believe Henry was the hardest working person on the ship. I don’t know how he did it but I swear he was working in 3 different parts of the ship at the same time J and he always had a pleasant and curtious attitude. These guys work some incredible shifts and maintain an equally incredible attitude. I wish our teenagers working part time could do that. I can’t say enough good things about the food and service. Just a very nice experience. We spent our days at sea sunning. Plenty of places to get drinks. We brought large bottle/cup and loaded them with drinks from the buffet. One fill was all we needed so it wasn’t like we were running back and forth for drinks all day. If I hadn’t had to eat I probably could have remained motionless for the entire day. We enjoyed a few shows but didn’t participate in any of the games or activities. Spent one night lying on the Forward Deck looking at the stars (just the two of us). The most impressive thing about the ship was that if you wanted to be in the middle of the activities you could. If you wanted to be in a quiet area with other quiet people you could. If you wanted to find an empty space to be alone you could. We tried the gym one morning and the equipment was OK. It was not crowded and they offered many nice services. My wife jogged while I rode the stationary bike. The gym is located on top of the ship so you feel quite a bit of motion. The only complaint I had on the whole cruise was that the temperature in the gym was TOO HOT! You walk in and it feels fine but as soon as you get your heart rate up you expect to burst into flames. I ride mountain bikes for hours at a time in the south so I know it’s not because I’m not used to heat. There were no fans to create a breeze, so that would probably help the issue. Debarkation was smooth as well. There were 3 debarkations. The first was the “Early” for people with early flights or whatever. Early flight is anything before 12:00. Then the “Self Assist” which meant you were an American and you could carry your own bags off the ship. The third was the normal debarkation where they took your bags the night before and would unload them for you. We packed the night before and did the self assist debarkation. About 7:30 they announced we could begin debarkation. We were off the ship by about 7:45. We did get lucky and had a short walk to the gangway so this could be a fluke. Grand Cayman We scheduled our own excursion with Captain Marvin’s which was a very short walk up the sidewalk. Our excursion was at 8:00AM Cayman Time (CT). Our ship arrived at 7:00 AM Ship Time (ST). The time difference was not an issue. 7:00 AM (ST) is the same as 6:00 AM (CT). THIS IS THE IMPORTANT PART: Do not bother piggy backing with the Cruise Excursions to try and get off faster. While the cruise groups were gathering in their assembly areas we went down to the 3rd deck and the tenders were already running at 7:45 (ST)/ 6:45 (CT). We hopped the tender and were feet dry in about 10 minutes. Captain Marvin’s wasn’t even open when we got there at 7:00 AM (CT) so we sat on a sea wall looking at coral and sponge that had washed up. At 8:30 we boarded a bus to Captain Marvin’s house where we boarded a boat with about 20 or 25 others and headed out to Sting Ray City. We were the 3rd boat on site and were able to stay away from the other crowds. This was truly a don’t miss. The rays are like big flat dogs. As the crowds picked up rode the boat about 5 minutes west to Coral Gardens and saw some very nice coral and fish and the occasional sting ray and what looked like a small barracuda. We returned to the ship and to the bus then to Captain Marvin’s Shop at about 12:00 (ST). Because the ship left at 2:00 PM (ST) we opted to skip the shopping district to avoid the long tender lines we had heard about. We stepped right onto a tender and returned to the ship for an early lunch. Cozumel We woke up at 7:30 and went to breakfast before heading to the forward deck to watch the ship dock. It was very nice. We watched the Holiday Dock Ahead of us. Because we were coming in next the holiday gangway was closed until we docked. Our schedule was to rent a jeep and drive to San Gervasio, then to the East side for lunch at Coconuts then back to the west side for more snorkeling and drinks at Paradise Beach. We strolled thru the path lined with shops and came to the row of Rental Agencies. There was Alamo, Hertz, Executive and probably a few more. The guy at Hertz wanted $70 usd for a jeep + Insurance. He dropped to 60 but still too much. We went next door to Executive and got the jeep for 40 us + Insurance for a total of $71.00 usd. The jeep was used and ran about as smooth as my wifes leggs in need of a harvest but it got us where we needed to go. We headed to San Gervasio first. I asked the Rental guy about the bypass mentioned on this site but he still gave me directions thru town. Probably for the best as they were easy to follow and aquainted me with the driving practices of the locales. WOW! We got to San Gervasio early and were one of two couples there. The total cost is about $10.25 usd but you have to pay it in two payments (locale and federal) It was something like $5.25 locale and $4.00 federal. They were used to tourists not having correct change and the clerk at the locale desk worked directly with the clerk at the federal desk (eliminating the stupid gringo, I mean middle man). The ruins here are very impressive considering I had no desire to see them. The signs describing the history are kind of general I thought but I love history so it let my imagination wander. This was a larger complex than I expected you can walk as much or as little as you want but there are some nice walks thru the jungle following the ancient roads. Iguannas and birds are everywhere and the bugs were not that bad since we were before the hot part of the day. Next we headed to the east for lunch. We cruised the east side of the island south to a small sandy parking lot with a sign that said “Coconuts Parking”. Pull in here and follow the steps cut into the stone up thru the palm trees. You pop out on a hill top with a straw roofed hut and a hanbful of tables. You can sit in the shade of the hut or on the edge of the cliff watching the waves crash against the rock below. Each table is surrounded by low growing palm trees so you feel very secluded and the crashing waves drown out the conversations of the other tables. George was our waiter. He brought us sodas and chips and salsa. The chips appeared to be locale made and the salsa was chunks of fresh tomatoes and peppers and onion. Salt was provided on the side. It was excellent. We ordered shrimp casadias. They were delicious by themselves but slip a little salsa in them and they really come alive. The bill came to $22.00 usd. The ambience, service and food in the states would cost closer to $100.00 so this was a bargain. George was very concientious and polite so take care of him. We had planned to cruise around the southern tip of the island but nixed that to make sure we had time to snorkel and get to Paradise beach. We stopped at the shop on the corner near Mezcalitos just before tunring onto the cross island road. We had checked the prices on a few things as we left the pier so we had an idea of what we could get things for. The young men working there were anxious to make a sale but they were courteous. We haggled for a bit over a few trinkets and came to an agreement. We back tracked our route to San Miguel but on the way the sky began to look like rain so we skipped Dzul Ha and went straight to PB. To avoid traffic in San Miguel turn left at the large Conch Shell sculpture and follow this road. It will make a 90 deg curve to the right and in about 2 miles, bring you out right in front of the International Pier. Turn Left again and you are on the main road heading south to PB. As you proceed you will see a road sign pointing to an exit for Chanakab, Dzul Ha and several other places. If you want Dzul Ha take this exit other wise you will miss it. There are no other signs. You will however see several other signs for Chanakab. As we pulled into Paradise Beach and the grounds were very scenic. The main building is beautifully constructed and decorated. We parked in the virtually empty parking lot and strolled thru the open air bar onto the beach. Plenty of chairs. A storm out in the channel had clouded up the water and the staff were quickly cleaning up the seaweed that was washing up but it was still a very scenic beach. We found a couple of chairs and ordered the “Large Pineapple” with a strawberry margarita $10.00. Delicious! Then we ordered a refill $6.00 of pina colada. Talk about creamy, delicious! We took some photos of the Parrots perched in the changing room transoms and enjoyed the hammocks. A storm began rolling up the channel and the staff began putting the floats away so we decided to get out of their way and try the El Cedral ruins just a short drive to the south. Their was a lot of traffic headed in the direction of the ruins but this was for a Festival happening in a small town on the way. The traffic was being routed in a very confusing way and as we didn’t know where we would end up we opted to turn around and head back to the boat and do a little shopping at the pier. We had used about ¼ tank of gas so we topped of the jeep before returning it. We wondered thru the shops and made our final purchases at Cinco Soles on the pier. They have a wide selection and the prices seemed reasonable even compared to the shops on the East side of the island. As we strolled back down the pier, onto the ship and thru security we passed many people heading back into town for a fiesta. We opted to stay on board and enjoy dinner with a view of the Cozumel Skyline. Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.