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Conquest 8-night repositioning cruise 11/16-11/24 w/pics

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I spent all morning and much of the afternoon uploading photos, organizing them, and starting the review. I write it in Word and then copy and paste so I can add photos.

 

This will be fairly detailed. It's been a while since I've written a detailed review, mainly because prior to this cruise, I'd been on Fantasy for a 12-night B2B, 5 nights and another 5 nights, so there isn't much to detail when you do repetitive cruises.

 

Anyway, I spent 2 pre-cruise nights in San Juan (I love the old city) and a post-cruise night in Ft. Lauderdale and I'm including those in the review, too.

 

Stay tuned...

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CARNIVAL CONQUEST 11/16/13 CARIBBEAN REPOSITIONING CRUISE

 

This was my 20th cruise, 18th on Carnival. I’ve often whined about Carnival moving ships empty (other than trans-ocean sailings). I just don’t get it. Repositioning cruises gives them the opportunity to provide a “different” itinerary. When I saw this San Juan-Miami itinerary, I jumped on it. Besides the fact that I absolutely LOVE old San Juan, I really wanted to return to Dominica, which Carnival stupidly has dropped from their regular itineraries. I had sailed Victory in May 2009 from San Juan back when it was a port-a-day and was looking forward to returning to St. Kitts, Dominica and Antigua. I was also getting to add a new port in St. Martin.

 

This was also a birthday present to myself. I couldn’t get anyone to join me, so I went solo, which I rather enjoy. We had a tremendously active Roll Call, and several of us booked the same independent excursions in the ports.

 

I had sailed Glory twice, so would be familiar with the ship layout although I most frequently sail Fantasy-class ships, simply because it’s more convenient for me (and I rather like the smaller ships). I don’t care for the stadium seating or the big TV and have only once eaten in a steakhouse, so these aren’t things I feel I have to have on a ship. I was looking forward to some new-to-me dining options with the 2.0 upgrades. However, I’m still puzzeled as to why they didn’t add the Serenity Deck when she was in drydock for the 2.0 upgrades.

 

Booking a newer, bigger ship with more bells and whistles isn’t what drives my cruise decisions. Itinerary and price is what I look at most closely, especially when I’m sailing solo and have the honor of paying for two!

 

Two days prior to sailing, in my rush to get home and change and go get my mani/pedi, I tripped up the stairs and severely hurt myself. I’d first hurt my back during an office bowling party that, oddly enough, was just a few days before my last cruise. This time, it was really, really bad. I used to have low back muscle spasms but this was very different with extreme pain basically at the bottom of my left butt cheek radiating down my left leg. Yep, I’m guessing at least a partial herniated lumbar disc. Great timing, once again! Sigh.

Edited by NCTribeFan

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Thursday, 11/14/13, flight to San Juan – I had a 2:30 pm flight on Southwest (yeah, no baggage fees!), with nearly 3 hours layover in Ft. Lauderdale, at which time I grabbed a bite to eat and recharged my phone. The flights were uneventful except that on the FLL-SJU leg it was absolutely FREEZING on the plane (which was only about 1/3 full). Hint: a plane at full capacity is going to be warmer than one that is mostly vacant, so the temp doesn’t need to be at the “meat locker” setting. Seriously, I was shivering badly. Walked up front to use the toilet and realized that it was at least 5 degrees warmer up there. With all the vacant seats, had I realized that, I would’ve moved. Being tensed up like that didn’t help my back. Sitting is the most painful position as you’re sitting right on the joint where the sciatic nerve is located.

 

We “lost” our recent time-change hour, so when we arrived in San Juan, it was about 10:45 and the airport was practically deserted. Worker asked me what gate we came in at and I said I had no idea, just down there. She said to follow some other people. So we walked and we walked and we walked and walked some more. An American Airlines flight had arrived at about the same time and we were all standing at the same baggage carousel. Guess what? That wasn’t where our bags were going to be! We were told to leave the terminal, walked way around to the next one, and go in there. So me, a mom & daughter, and a couple headed out. Didn’t see a way in, so we went back where, of course, we weren’t supposed to enter! We waited until someone came out and went back in. Where was the security?? No, we hadn’t walked far enough! We had to go way around and turn and then back into a totally different terminal. No wonder we had hiked so far to get to the first place! Why hadn’t that person simply asked what airline we were on, not which gate we’d arrived at? Grrrr.

 

We went back out and walked and walked some more and finally found the other terminal. I could see our lonely bags on a belt. This exit did have security standing outside and he not only wanted to see the baggage tags but photo ID! The couple had tossed their baggage tags. Seriously? Why would you do that? I’ve actually been in airports that wouldn’t let you leave without checking the tags. So they were not allowed in although we told the man that they had definitely been on the same flight. I have no idea what happened with them.

 

I got my two bags and went back out to the taxi stand and headed to the Sheraton Old San Juan, which is on the bay, across from the piers. It was nearly midnight and I was starving, but there were no food venues open in the hotel and I wasn’t going to go next door to Senor Frogs. I refuse to spend money in these chain bars/restaurants when I’m in the islands. I had booked the hotel on Hotwire, which was my first use of that site. I didn’t bid but booked it as some sort of “hot deal” and got it for $114/night, which was a very good price, compared to what they wanted directly.

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Friday, 11/15/13, Old San Juan – I had requested a “quiet” room, which it was. Not much of a view, although I have nothing against parking garages! The window did not have drapes, just louvered blinds. Opening them and looking to my right, I had a view of San Cristobel up on the hill. And it was raining. By the time I was ready to head out, the rain had stopped and the hot sun had broken through, making for some very steamy walking this day.

 

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I wanted a mallorca for breakfast. I knew La Bombonera had closed and although it was supposed to reopen in the summer, the recent posts on the San Juan Port-of-Call board said it was still boarded up. So I went in search of Cafeteria Mallorca. After getting only mildly lost, I found it and headed inside. It’s even more of a local dive than La Bombonera! And ancient guy with his veterans cap on wiped my table and brought me a glass of water. And English-speaking man came over to take my order. Gee, do you think this tall, blonde woman doesn’t look like a local? Is it that obvious? I was a little unsure how a ham and cheese sandwich would taste when covered with powdered sugar, but it was excellent. And the coffee was very strong. I’m a tea drinker, but I know to not order tea when I’m travelling. I’m really particular and most places don’t serve a decent cuppa.

 

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I then headed out to hike my way up to El Morro. My original plan was to tour both forts – El Morro in the morning, then have lunch and head to San Cristobal in the afternoon. I’d been to both in the past, and by the time I got there, I was hot and my back/leg were really hurting with all the up and down streets, cobblestones and uneven surfaces. I wimped out and just wandered around outside. I thought about going into the cemetery but I couldn’t find an entrance without venturing into the La Perla neighborhood, and I wasn’t going to do that, especially not by myself.

 

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So with my plans tossed aside, I just wandered, basically from shady spot to shady spot. Something bit or stung me on my right leg just above the ankle and it is still red, swollen and itching. Probably good that I didn’t see whatever it was! I was really warm, so I headed back to the hotel. I stopped at the CVS and picked up a bottle of wine to carry on the ship and continued on to the hotel to clean up a bit before heading out for lunch at The Parrot Club. I wasn’t all that hungry yet, so I ordered a beer and an appetizer – the Signature Quesadilla. It was fantastic! Monterey Jack cheese with chorizo and a pile of fried chicken chunks on the side with a red sauce and pico de gallo. The sidewalk on their side of the street was blocked off and I’d had to walk across some wooden platforms to get in the restaurant. Well, by the time I was finished eating, the cement mixer was in front of their door and they were pouring a new sidewalk, so I couldn’t leave! The manager kindly offered to buy me a beer, which I gladly accepted. And when they could reopen the door, I had about five strong Puerto Rican young men to help me across the platform back to the other side.

 

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I love the blue cobblestones!

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Friday, 11/15/13, Old San Juan – continued...

 

There were craft stalls set up in a nearby square, so I wandered over there and bought DD a pair of earrings that were made from recycled aluminum cans. Very unique. When I’d checked in, I’d been given five vouchers for blackjack. I’ve never had the nerve to sit down at a table and play, but when I saw that there was no one at the table, I told the dealer I’d like to use the vouchers and learn a bit more about the game. I had to purchase $25 of chips and use one with each voucher. I ended up with 6 $5 chips so gave one to the dealer for giving me the lesson and cashed out the others. Then tried the slots but had no luck. The casino attached to the Marriott Stellaris, where we’d stayed after our Victory cruise, had been quite kind to me, but this casino was not.

 

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I went out to walk along the waterfront after it stopped raining and saw a double rainbow. Just hung out for a few more hours, tried my luck again in the casino (and had none), watched it pour rain some more, and during a break in the downpour, quickly walked the two blocks to Punto de Vista. Got a little table just out of the rain and ordered a mojito (they have 2-for-1 all the time) and a shrimp mofongo. It was all delicious, but it was very, very loud under the awnings. Definitely a lively place! And it was a Friday night, after all. Sipped on my 2nd mojito, waiting out more rain, then back to the hotel and one more try in the casino. Again, no luck. I was tired so went to bed fairly early.

 

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Unfortunately, there were what sounded like several teens down the hall that yelled and hooted and screeched and slammed doors for hours. I finally got up and called the desk and went back to sleep. As had been the case the last time I was in San Juan and had mofongo for dinner, I was extremely uncomfortable within about an hour after eating. Apparently plantains do not like me nearly as much as I like them. So I had a pretty miserable night, and I don’t do well when I don’t sleep well.

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Looking forward to more and you still have your cell phone ;) hope the back gets better!

Edited by Sh1035

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Saturday, 11/16/13, Embarkation day – I was still uncomfortable (seriously, it’s like the food quadrupled in volume after I ate it), so I didn’t have any breakfast. That is highly unusual for me. I love breakfast and need my protein. I went up to the rooftop pool and took some pics of the ships that had arrived that morning. Directly across from us was the MSC Divina and Conquest was down at Pier 4. In the distance, over at the Pan Am pier, were Celebrity Summit and RCI Jewel of the Seas.

 

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View of the pier from the Sheraton. Quite an easy walk.

 

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Home!

 

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There are always questions about what time to arrive at the port. Carnival had sent out emails saying we could board as early as 10:30, which I thought was a little optimistic at the time. So I walked down to the pier, asked a woman in uniform, and was told we could start check in at 11. I posted that on our Roll Call and on our FB page, because there really is nowhere to sit and there’s no shade, so arriving super early and standing out in the sun didn’t seem like the best way to begin the cruise. I went back to the hotel and up to the restaurant to have a $3 cup of coffee, then to my room to shuffle some items around in my bags. I decided I’d wheel on my duffle bag and just check my large suitcase. That way, I’d have a change of clothes for the steakhouse that night and not be in a bind should my suitcase be misplaced.

 

I checked out (the lobby was packed) and headed down to the pier at about 10:50. It’s a very easy walk, even dragging two bags and with a heavy carry-on (why is a bottle of wine so heavy?) and large purse. I made sure the porter saw the FTTF/Priority on my luggage tag, gave him a tip, and hauled myself and the rest of my crap down the long walk to the terminal building. Up the escalator, get your boarding photo first, then into the checkin line. There was no one at all in the Priority line, but when I got to the end, I was told that they were checking in non-priority/FTTF people in the Priority lounge and it looked like there were about 30 people in that line! What? Why? And then I was told that we wouldn’t start boarding until 2:30 anyway. You have got to be joking. I wasn’t going to head back out to do the rest of my sightseeing with a big purse, a heavy wine-laden carry-on bag, and a rolling duffle bag! I was not happy.

 

I met some Roll Call people, and plopped myself down in a chair to wait. I started talking to a Canadian woman, which helped pass the time. I was also getting hungry (remember that I had had no breakfast), and found cookies and lemonade inside the VIP lounge. In the end, they started boarding just after noon, but they didn’t even have all the scanners open. Luckily, just before I got there, they opened the third scanner and the folks in my line split off into two lines. Note that once through security, you will need you S&S card AND your photo ID before you start up the gangway.

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Saturday, 11/16/13, Embarkation day – continued...

 

I went straight to my cabin #7345, one of the “special” 1As. They originally had one bed and an upper bunk, like most other 1As, but the cabin is quite wide, so they no longer use the bunk and there’s a 2nd bed on the floor. So I had a nice, big bed all to myself.

 

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I put a few things away, checked to see if my suitcase was there (it wasn’t), and headed out to explore a little while the ship was still fairly empty. Then it was off to have my first Guy’s Burger. I decided I’d have a Pig Patty, please, and went up to the Fish & Chips to get the tuna and watermelon appetizer, which I just love. Both were very good!

 

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With my lack of sleep, and the heat and humidity, I really wasn’t very enthused about heading back off the ship, but I did it anyway. I’d thought about finding the Coach store, but decided I didn’t really need to do that. What I did want to do was walk to the City Gate, which is one of the sights I hadn’t yet seen. So I did that, walked through the gate and headed back in the direction of the pier. I really had no idea where I was, but knew how to get back. I have a good sense of direction (and it’s a very compact city, anyway). So I climb up a hilly street, and I’m standing on the corner, huffing and puffing and sweating, and I look up and the sign on the side of the building says “Coach.” So I guess it was fate, right? I went in, was handed a 50% off anything coupon, and immediately found a bag to give to DD for Christmas. Then I decided that I needed to get myself a birthday present, didn’t I? I got two bags for $146!!

 

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I love the tiles on the buildings

 

Deciding that I was done with the hiking for the day, I stopped at the CVS again to pick up my 2nd bottle of wine. Turns out I didn’t need it. I actually poured out wine AND came home with two coupons from my wine package. When you re-board, you just go back upstairs, bypass the check-in lines, go around the corner to the security lines, and back on the ship. You do need your S&S card and your photo ID again. I stopped and changed my steakhouse reservation from 7:00 to 6:30. With late sail-away, hence late muster drill, I didn’t want to feel at all rushed through my dinner.

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Saturday, 11/16/13, Embarkation day – more continued...

 

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Full moon rising over San Juan

 

I showered and dressed for dinner and headed up to the steakhouse just before 6:30. There were already several tables eating. I ordered the ahi tuna appetizer and the surf and turf and had the cheese plate for dessert. Eventually, the young man came over to ask whether I wanted red or white wine. I ordered the white and it was only after I tasted it that I remembered people here saying how bad it was and that the red was marginally better. Too late! It really was awful. Look, I’ve been known to buy 3/$10 bottles at the grocery store and think they’re pretty good, so you know if I think it’s terrible, it really must be terrible!

 

The food was very good, and the people were very nice, but the service was not what I expected. Now, bear in mind that my idea of good service is for it to be virtually invisible. I do NOT want anyone hovering or fawning over me. Just do your job and do it well. My water glass was never refilled. I refilled my own wine glass. We'd discussed whether I should order my filet rare (how I like it but not cold-centered) or medium-rare. She said to order rare and if it wasn't quite right, it could be cooked a little longer. And then she never came back to check on me. At all. I was completely finished and sitting there with an empty plate forever. It took forever to bring the cheeses and I had to ask for my decaf twice. Three of the young ladies brought out a little fluffy creamy something and wished me Happy Birthday (they did not sing, which was just fine) but didn’t give me anything with which to eat it!! When I finally got my decaf, I was given a spoon and used that. I wasn’t sure whether I should even tip, but I added $5 to the $35 bill and took the rest of the awful Chardonnay back to my cabin.

 

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The filet was perfect (good thing I didn't need it cooked more, right?)

 

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Honestly, I don’t even remember muster drill! And believe me, it wasn’t because I’d had too much wine with dinner. Blech! But after the drill was over, I headed to the aft Lido pool for our informal Meet & Greet. I was exhausted so headed to bed soon after.

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Enjoying your trip report and pictures!

Thanks especially for the pics and info on 7345 as we have that cabin booked for an upcoming cruise on another Conquest class ship.

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Fighting a really bad cold (I'm sure I'm not the only person who picks up bugs when travelling) and didn't sleep well. At some point I started thinking about things I'd already forgotten to include, but now that I'm up and awake, I can't remember. Oh well. If it's important, it'll come to me!

 

I did stop at the aft Lido bar and asked for a plastic beer bucket with ice to put in the cabin for my wine and water.

 

And, I'd received an email from Michael at the Carnival Player's Club that I'd be receiving a Premium Bon Voyage Gift that would be in my cabin upon embarkation. I'd gotten one on my Glory to Bermuda cruise. Normally, I only get a whopping $25 casino cash.

 

Well, there was no gift basket in the cabin. Oh well, I thought, it's because this is a one-time sailing and we sail late and I'm in no hurry for it anyway. Much more on that later.

 

Before my last Fantasy cruise, I'd purchased a little compact surge protector with regular plugs and USB ports (because there were three of us sailing in one cabin). It wouldn't plug into the socket on that ship because of the location of the plug. I'd asked on the Conquest Only thread if people thought it might work on this ship, and it did. I don't bring a bunch of electronics and believe that there's only one outlet in each cabin for a reason (to NOT overload the electrical system and start fires!). But my bags weren't full, so I brought it to find out. It did fit and I was able to plug in my phone and charge my camera at the same time. I made sure to totally unplug the entire thing every time I left the room. I didn't want to give anyone any reason to confiscate it.

 

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Here are a few more random ship photos...

 

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I was SO excited to see this on the atrium collage of Impressionist paintings as I happen to have this print in my hallway (The Red Roofs). Camille Pissarro is my favorite impressionist. The little room in front of the Renoir Dining Room is named the Pissarro room. It's correctly spelled on the ship, but the little ship diagram is incorrect, with only one R in the name. Shame on them!

 

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This is, of course, in the Degas Lounge. It is not pronounced like "Vegas" with a D, people. The S is silent.

 

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Vincent's Lounge

 

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Promenade, looking toward the Alchemy Bar

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Sunday, 11/17/13, St Kitts – Happy Birthday to ME!! I woke up with a jolt, realizing that I had neglected to put my phone in airplane mode before I went to bed. And my nice plastic bucket-o-ice, while on a hand towel, had leaked ALL OVER the desk. All my excursion confirmations that I’d printed and had stacked on the end of the counter were wet. So I spent some time blow drying them with the hair dryer.

 

We weren’t due in port until noon, so I got up, and decided to try my first breakfast burrito. It was tasty, but I was expecting it to be warm! I don’t really care for cold eggs. And that damn big TV was blaring CNN news. I don’t watch TV when I’m cruising. I don’t need to “stay in touch” with anyone or anything. I hate that intrusive noise. So I got my 2nd cup of tea and headed up to Deck 10, where I like to sit outside the upper level of the buffet (outside where the Fish and Chips is located) because you usually have either sun or shade, depending on which side and which direction you’re headed.

 

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This place looks gorgeous. You can take a ferry or small plane from St Martin.

 

We passed a beautiful little island (did my research when I got home, it’s Saba), and before long, it was time to have my first Fish and Chips for lunch, then head down to the cabin and get my tote bag. I’d toured with Thenford Grey when we were here on our Victory cruise and really enjoyed it (except for THE LOUD FAMILY that was on the bus). Several other Roll Call folks had also reserved with him. I was off the bus and met up with him early, at about 12:35. He had a few vans and sent off a couple of groups while we waited for the rest of the folks.

 

I needed some leg room (I’m tall and my height is all legs, plus my back was still really hurting). He had me sit in the front seat. Thing was, there was no door! So I had to climb in and out all day, but at least I had a little room once I was settled. I felt bad for those on the bus who had to view my behind as I climb into that seat bent over at 90 degrees!

 

We went to Romney Manor, where Mr. Grey walked around the beautiful gardens and talked about the various plants, trees, and flowers. The Manor is now Carabelle Batik and they have some beautiful items. As we waited for the folks to gather back at the van, several of my travel-mates paid a visit to a man selling Carib beer out of a cooler. I decided to wait a little while before I started consuming alcohol.

 

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Looking through the giant Mimosa tree toward the sea

 

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Hope the photos aren't too big. Last review, they were too small and I couldn't figure out how to size them. I didn't change any settings but this time, they're much larger. So I apologize if they're large and cause you to scroll side to side to side and make yourself seasick reading the narrative!

 

Sunday, 11/17/13, St Kitts – continued...

 

Then it was off to Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park. Since I’d been there before, I declined to climb the steps up to the fort itself and stayed in the lower section, which I hadn’t investigated on my previous visit. It’s beautiful up there. There’s a snack bar, and some folks took advantage to have something to eat and/or drink. At some point, Mr. Grey had written some of our names on the back window of the bus.

 

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Next stop is a little pull-off at the top of hill before you start down across the “neck” of the island before you head down to the south peninsula. You can see Nevis in the distance and have this gorgeous view of the Atlantic on one side and the Caribbean on the other. Now it was time for my first Carib of the cruise! I discouraged people from having their photos taken with the monkeys. I think it’s a form of animal abuse. I know these people are just trying to make some money, but if people would stop having their photos taken with these poor animals. Do some research. Most of them are stolen as infants and what do you think happens when they’re ill-tempered adults and aren’t “cute” any more?

 

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The road to the right that is at the edge of the shadow is the road we took next to get to Carambola Beach Club. The big bump in the distance is Nevis.

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This is, of course, in the Degas Lounge. It is not pronounced like "Vegas" with a D, people. The S is silent.

LOL - The first time we sailed on Conquest I overheard someone refer to the Renoir Dining Room as the "Re-NOOR" room.:p Thanks for sharing your review and photos. I love Conquest's French Impressionist theme.

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Sunday, 11/17/13, St Kitts – continued again...

 

Our last stop was at the beautiful Carambola Beach Club. Due to our late port arrival, though, it was getting late. A few folks ventured into the water. I just sat and enjoyed the view and my Carib beer.

 

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Some folks had steakhouse dinner reservations and were getting concerned about the time, so it was a brief stop. Next time I’m there, I’m either going to get over to Nevis or I’ll spend the day at Carambola. When we returned to the bus, Mr. Grey had a Happy Birthday balloon waiting in my seat.

 

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Then it was back to the port, just as it was starting to get dark. By then, I was starving and nothing much was open. I didn’t want pizza, and the Taste Bar wasn’t open, so I just got a Caesar salad from the buffet. While getting ready for dinner, I tried to have a glass of wine from the complementary bottle I’d received in the steakhouse, but it was horrible. You know wine is bad when I can’t drink it! On my way to the dining room, I stopped in Alfred’s (Deck 4, just forward of the Monet Dining Room) and listed to an excellent salsa band. I’ve been saying for years that Carnival should have one on the ships! I love salsa (have been threatening to take salsa lessons for years), and being a sailing from San Juan, it was perfect. They really were very good.

 

Getting into the dining room to find the table was an adventure (first night was open seating). There are doors on both sides of the room, and no one out in front to tell people that even table numbers are on the right (port side) and odd are on the left. Made my way all the way to the back to my table. It was an 8-top, but there were only four of us (all solo, one woman and two men). The service was very, very slow. Waiters had a full 10-top and 8-top besides us and we got the short end of it all week. Nice guys, but service was not great. Don’t remember what I ordered. I tend to get the same things every time I cruise. I love the chilled fruit soups.

 

My female tablemate and I stopped at the casino bar and listened to the band, Government Shutdown. They were pretty good with male and female vocalists. I liked his voice but didn’t care for hers very much. I found the casino hostess, Elina from Bulgaria, and asked her about my gift basket. She said she’d check on it and it should be in the cabin the next day. Spent a little time in the casino, then off to bed.

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Monday, 11/18/13, Dominica – As with St Kitts and Mr. Grey, we had toured with Levi Baron of Bumpiing Tours when we visited Dominica on our Victory cruise. So far, it’s my favorite excursion of any I’d done. I was up by 7 and found the omelette station on the starboard side as you’re walking from the pool area to the main Lido buffet. It was yummy.

 

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Roseau

 

Levi always has a big crowd, and several drivers, so after checking in, reminding him that I’d toured with him before, we sat around and waited for a bit. Eventually, we headed off and, again, was lucky enough to have Levi himself as driver. The tour itinerary was slightly different from last time. Then, Champagne Reef was optional at the end (we didn’t go). This time, it was the first stop and it was very crowded. The surf was very rough, and since I’m not a swimmer, and with my back issues, I wimped out. I tried to sit on a rock and just enjoy the view but it was painful, so I climbed back up to the top of the hill and sat at a picnic table and waited. The hordes just kept coming.

 

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I’d warned folks that if they thought the roads in St Kitts were rough, they were in for a real treat. But it seems they’ve done a lot of work since I was there last and the road was 100% improved. There were still some rough areas, but it wasn’t just a pothole-filled dirt road now up to Titou Gorge. But when we arrived, it was very busy. Last time, it was just Levi’s three vans. He wanted to wait until the crowd thinned as there isn’t much room inside, but just as one group would come out, another would arrive, so we finally just started in.

 

Yes, the water is cold. Quite cold. Just get in and get wet. You’ll get used to it quickly. Besides me, there was another woman who was a non-swimmer and Levi just had us hold on to the ring and he hauled us in. Now, Levi is not a big guy, but he is wiry and obviously stronger than he looks, but I’m rather a beached whale these days. And the current coming out of the gorge is strong. Anyway, he hauled us in and we gathered over to the side before heading in to the area with the waterfall.

 

Now, where we were standing on the ledge is exactly where Orlando Bloom and the others are standing in the Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest. The scene is with the round bone cage and they go running down the hill and fall into a crevice and down into the water, then swim over to the side. Levi went ahead with the rope attached to the ring and people followed it along into the section with the waterfall. Us non-swimmers were last as we were again hauled in against the current. It was cramped in there and we were hanging onto the ledge to keep from being carried back out. Several guys climbed up and jumped from the waterfall back into the cavern. We made our way back out to the entrance. By then, the water didn’t feel cold at all! There’s also a little stream from a hot springs coming out of the rocks which feels like a nice, warm shower after the cold water.

 

I'm afraid I don't have any pics. I know there were people from our Roll Call that had underwater cameras with them in the gorge and I've asked there and on our FB page if they had any they could share, but haven't received any response yet.

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Monday, 11/18/13, Dominica - continued...

 

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Time for a Kubuli (my favorite of the island beers) then off to Trafalgar Falls. I swear there were twice as many stairs (up and down) to get to the viewing platform as there had been last time. Amazing what a difference a few years make as you approach old age! I stayed on the platform and didn’t venture down to the hot mineral pool. I wish I’d bought a new tote bag from the little straw market, as mine from St Thomas (2007) is getting pretty worn. But I had another Kubuli instead and a granola bar!

 

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Lastly, we stopped at Morne Bruce for a photo op on the way back to the ship.

 

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I was absolutely starving by the time we re-boarded, so I headed straight to Guy’s Burger and had my second Pig Patty.

 

I was tired, but decided against a nap. Instead, I had a Thirsty Frog beer, a shower and dressed for Elegant Night dinner. Still no gift from the casino, so I stopped and mentioned it to the hostesses again. I said Hello to the ship’s officers and went to listen to some more salsa before dinner. I had the lobster and shrimp, which was quite nice. First time in forever that the waiters didn’t come around and offer seconds.

 

I headed up to Lido to check out the Panthers game on the big TV, but I was so tired I could barely keep my eyes open until halftime, so I was in bed by 11.

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This is taking forever and I haven't even done laundry or really finished unpacking (and I got home Monday afternoon!!)!

 

Taking a break for a few hours. Will resume later.

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Hi Joan - Happy Belated Birthday!

 

Loving the review and pics!

 

P.S. You need to get one of those Belkin outlets for travelling - you can 'move' them around and adjust them as required! (esp when they don't fit well in the cabins!)...

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Hi, Froufie! Thanks!

 

Yes, I'd already bought that one when I saw someone post a pic of their's that swivels. I really don't need one when I'm solo, but it's nice to know it will work, at least on that class of ship.

 

I'm really bummed. I had planned on booking the 2nd leg of the Pride repo next December from San Juan to Tampa and they've cancelled it. I simply do not understand why Carnival moves ship empty rather than do these repositioning cruises. I love them.

 

Our ship wasn't full, but it was close. And they'd already posted the two repos for Pride and had sold cabins, so why cancel? I just don't get it. :mad:

 

I'm going to look for a longer cruise, maybe on HAL, if I can afford it.

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Thanks again, Joan, for taking the time to do this trip report.

Great to know Mr. Thenford Grey is still doing his tours. He is such a gentleman. We really enjoyed our tour with him in 2007.

 

Hope you get to feeling better soon - from your cold and your back/leg injury.

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Thanks for the review, we were on the cruise too, we were also on The Tour with Mr. Grey, we are the White's, it was our second time touring with Mr. Grey.

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I love your photos of Dominica...we have been to Dominica once on the Carnival Destiny on a Southern Caribbean itinerary. We loved it there....of all the places that we have stopped that is my dad's favorite port

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Looks great so far I can't wait to read the rest and I can't wait to be on the conquest in just 15 days!!!!!!!

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Tuesday, 11/19/13, St Martin – Surprisingly, given that this was my 20th cruise, I’d never been to St. Martin. When I’d checked the port schedules and saw that we would be in port with NCL’s Epic, I was very excited. You see, my DD’s maid-of-honor had been working on Epic for about a year-and-a-half, in the entertainment department (costumes), and I thought it was be pretty cool to meet up with a friend in a foreign port from another ship. And then she told me she was flying home the week before. Oh well. So I did some research. For new ports, I like to do some type of island tour to get a feel for the island, see what I like most, and where I think I’d like to return next time. I booked Tour #2 with Bernard’s.

 

Epic was docked on one side and Disney Fantasy on the other. Now, I would never, ever sail Disney (for many reasons), but I think their ships are beautiful! I don’t care for Carnival’s “floating shoebox” designs, but at least they aren’t as ugly as Epic. That big square box thing on the top front of the ship is just hideous. Anyway, for St. Martin, having “only” three ships in port is considered a light day.

 

I had another omelette from the same station, gathered my things, and headed out. Found the long check-in line for Bernard’s and gathered with the group for our particular van. In a few minutes, we were off to meet our driver, the infamous Mailman. I started out in the front seat (again, no door) but ended up asking a solo guy from Epic to switch with me, since the climbing over stuff was still bothering my back. He designated the man behind the seat with the two coolers to be the bartender and described his home-made, very potent rum punch. He also had many Carib beers in there as well as a cooler with water and local soft drinks. I decided it was be a very large mistake for me to drink the rum punch, especially since the tour was going to last 4-5 hours and we’d be out in the hot sun a lot of the time.

 

I just cannot do it. I can’t drink volumes of alcohol during the day and certainly cannot do it in the hot sun. It gives me a headache and I just want to sleep. That’s not my idea of an entertaining day. I rarely drink hard liquor any more as it tends to give me migraines, so I just don’t think it’s worth it. It seems a lot of people think that the only way to enjoy your cruise is to drink non-stop, but I don’t want to be stupid and make myself waste any of my valuable cruise time sleeping it off, or, worse yet, ruining the next day by being hungover or having a migraine. And, trust me, I do like to consume alcohol!

 

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I believe that's St Bart's in the distance, where the people with "real" money vacation.

 

So we stopped for a photo op, then headed straight to Orient Beach. Having spent a week in Nice on the French Riviera a couple of decades ago, I was pretty sure I knew what it would be like. Why people get all worked up about a nude/topless beach is beyond me. We all have bodies, folks. The external parts vary, but we all have them, so what is the big deal? Anyway, the solo Epic guy and I decided to share an umbrella, since they were renting them 2 chairs & umbrella for $10 that included 2 drink tickets. I’m afraid I didn’t make a note of the name of the beach bar/restaurant. The sand and water were gorgeous. But I seriously cannot imagine what it’s like during high season and if there are 9 ships in port!

 

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Orient Beach

 

We spent about 1-1/2 hours there, then we headed on in to Marigot. I was looking forward to this, since I love everything French and wanted to wander around the town. Unfortunately, we were only given about 30 minutes, and, of course, there was a long line for the public ladies’ room. By the time I was out of there, and headed down to Sarafina’s, I was running out of time. And there was a line of about 40 people at the counter. I saw Epic guy eating a very yummy-looking pastry. He said if I could get a spoon, he’d be happy to share. So I walked up to the cash registers and when the woman in front of me ordered just a pastry (without standing in the very long line), I figured I’d give it a shot. So, yes, I line jumped. It was nice to be able to walk up and say “un pain au chocolat, s’il vous plait!” And it was very good.

 

Headed back to the bus. Luckily, I’d looked around before I’d wandered off and had a good idea of where we were parked. But considering that I’d probably had 3 or 4 beers by then, the buses all looked alike. No, I did see some that said Bernard’s on the side, but I knew ours didn’t. Eventually, I found it, but I wasn’t the only person missing. We sat there and waiting another 15 minutes for Epic guy to return. Mailman talked to a couple of other drivers and decided we needed to leave if we were going to make it to Maho beach in time to see some planes land. Just as we were driving off, Epic guy shows up. He was lost. And he was the ONLY person on the bus who hadn’t been drinking! So, there’s a lesson to be learned here, folks. Either consume lots of alcohol or actually look around you when you’re in a strange place to get your bearings before heading off to explore.

 

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Harbor in Marigot

 

We could see the KLM 747 landing as we were on our way to Maho, and Mailman said it would probably take off before we arrived. But it hadn’t. We quickly unloaded and headed over to the beach and bar area. I was absolutely NOT going to go up to the fence and stand behind a 747 revving those engines for takeoff. Not me! Saw some other Roll Call people who were on Da Party Bus (and who were very, very drunk by then), and others who were on another Bernard’s bus. Took a couple of videos of American Airlines and US Airways jets landing as well as a couple of much smaller planes. The USAirways was a scary thing. All the others had come in straight from the water, very smoothly. This thing was coming in with the wings tilted at about 20 degrees. It straighted up and tilted again just before touchdown. I can assure you now that should I ever fly to St. Martin, it will not be on USAirways from Charlotte (which would probably be the easier flight for me)!

 

Note: I don't know how to add the video but it's in my Flickr set for St Martin. I'll post the link to my Flickr page at the end.

 

Funny thing. During the day, with all the beer consumed (I think I had 6 or 7 between 10 am and about 2:30 pm with nothing to eat except the small pastry), my back and leg pain was greatly reduced. Nothing like self-medicating, right?

 

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It was at this stop when I heard a Roll Call member tell a guy (who had a couple of sons with him) that he'd had a great time in Buffalo. So I opened my mouth and said something along the lines of "Buffalo!! I've never, ever heard anyone mention Buffalo and "great time" in the same sentence! Buffalo's The Armpit of America!!!" Ha ha ha. I'm so funny when I've been drinking beer all day, right? You should've seen the look on this guy's face. So I then say, "Hey, I'm from Cleveland!! It's the OTHER armpit!!" Man just herds kids back on bus. Roll Call guy says, "you really pissed him off!" Yeah, we'll, I guess I did, but it's true! OK, so I haven't been to Buffalo in about 40 years, but the times I was there, it really was the worst place I've ever been. I hope it has changed and not for the worse, like Cleveland's changed. So, my attempt at humor simply ended up insulting someone. Whoops!

 

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Back to the port and back to the ship and, I’m guessing I headed right to Guy’s Burgers again. In the cabin was part of my casino gift – the two giant bottles of water and a note that I’d receive a $10 photo credit on my S&S account. For dinner, I had my “usual” from this menu of the smoked duck, chilled peach soup, the turkey & bow-tie pasta, with bitter-n-blanc for dessert. Listened to the salsa band for a while after dinner, saw the other casino hostess (young woman from South Africa; I neglected to get her name), who told me it had all been delivered to the wrong cabin.

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..6 or 7 beers beers between 10 am and 2:30 pm with nothing to eat :rolleyes::cool: thats my kind of girl !!! :D:D

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Ha. Yeah, I don't normally drink like that. And Carib beer is not weak stuff. Thing is, I never really even felt a buzz. I just was feeling a lot less pain than I had been! :D

 

Sorry I haven't continued the review. I'm just now finishing the last of my laundry. I've been really, really sick since Wednesday night and had so many things to get caught up with.

 

I'll resume writing and posting tomorrow night. I hope. The rest of the days were beach or sea days so not nearly as much to write about.

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I think it is funny that the Coach store pulled you in. I love Coach also. It would pull me in also.

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I got your KLM right here. I was on the same cruise with you. Reading your review is like cruising twice. Great write up.

 

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HawkIVette - thanks for those pics. I wish we had been there to see her land.

 

Gingee - I don't buy designer anything, usually, but I love my Coach bags. I got sucked into buying them when I lived in a town with an outlet right there. I never, ever even pay the "regular" sales price. So what if they aren't the latest style! I love my bags.

 

In the casino on the last night, I had my little bag sitting next to the slot machine and, at separate times, each of the lovely young casino hostesses came over and said, "what a cute bag!" so I had to tell them what a great deal I'd gotten in San Juan. :D

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This is a great review. I haven't seen any repositioning reviews before. Can't wait for more.

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Friday, 11/15/13, Old San Juan – continued...

 

 

 

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I went out to walk along the waterfront after it stopped raining and saw a double rainbow. Just hung out for a few more hours, tried my luck again in the casino (and had none), watched it pour rain some more, and during a break in the downpour, quickly walked the two blocks to Punto de Vista. Got a little table just out of the rain and ordered a mojito (they have 2-for-1 all the time) and a shrimp mofongo. It was all delicious, but it was very, very loud under the awnings. Definitely a lively place! And it was a Friday night, after all. Sipped on my 2nd mojito, waiting out more rain, then back to the hotel and one more try in the casino. Again, no luck. I was tired so went to bed fairly early.

 

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.

 

we loved this place! Love your review so far!!

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I'm back!!!

 

Wednesday, 11/20/13, Antigua – As with St Kitts and Dominica, I’d been to Antigua on my Victory cruise and did an island tour. I thought about doing the same one but I had the feeling that after two days walking around OSJ, then three straight port days with tours, that I’d be ready for a beach day. Now, I’m not really a beach person (despite trying to get to Half Moon Cay as often as I can), but I knew Antigua was known for the beaches. We’d stopped at Long Bay Beach the first time, and it was absolutely gorgeous. So, I started doing my research and saw a thread about Coconut Beach Club. Some Roll Call members said they were going there, also. A day pass was $45 (I believe it’s going up at the beginning of the year, if it hasn’t already). Includes beach loungers, pool, open bar, and buffet lunch.

 

Our Super Organizer on the Roll Call contacted them to see if they would arrange a van we could share to avoid everyone arriving separately and paying more for a taxi. This is not a huge resort – just a relatively small hotel, so they only sell a limited number of passes per day. We were told to arrive after 10 so had arranged to meet our drive at 10.

 

This morning, I decided to try a different omelette line. I won’t go into the details, because I hope it was simply that my perception of the omelette-marker’s attitude toward some passengers was just off. Anyway, I went around to the main buffet line and had one made there, and it was quite delicious. Gulped down my two cups of tea, stopped in the cabin to brush my teeth and grab my tote bag, and I was off the ship.

 

Of course, I was there early. We waited until 10, but when 4 of the folks hadn’t shown by then, we headed out. We arrived, checked in (I paid using a credit card because I was low on cash). We were directed toward the pool and bar area and the beach and told that lunch would be served at 12:30. It was overcast, and the water was rougher than it had been when we were at Long Bay Beach. Still, most the loungers were occupied or “hogged” with various items. I went down to the end of the loungers and found a chair, spread out my towel, and got my book. Beware the sand burrs! I put my tote bag on the little dune and had them stuck all over it. And I managed to step on a couple. Ouch! I read for a little while, then walked down the beach away from the resort, then decided it was time for a drink! I again decided to stick with beer for the before-mentioned reasons.

 

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The view from my beach lounger

 

Time for a dip in the pool. Other than the stairs, it is 5 feet. It was quite cool, but, of course, once you’re in and wet, it’s fine. Not being a swimmer, I just floated around on my back, and paddled my way from one end to the other and back and few times.

 

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Standing behind the pool looking out at the sea

 

Went back down to my chair and book, had another beer or two, and it was time for lunch. There were tables in the bar area and others up by the buffet line that had linens. The girls up there were serving wine. The buffet had breads, a couple of different salads, black beans and rice, fish, jerk chicken, and pasta. There were at least two desserts. It was quite good. I “only” had one plate full and no dessert.

 

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Bar and seating area

 

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Standing next to the pool looking toward the buffet area

 

We all just hung out and drank and swam and read and relaxed until it was time to head back at 3 pm. I decided to have a margarita before I left. It was tequila, triple sec, lime juice, lemon juice and tossed in the blender with ice. Salted the rim of a white wine glass. I was thinking, “gee, that’s a small drink!” But it was very strong! And very tasty! Just as we were boarding the van, it started pouring! Our timing was perfect! We were almost back to the port, driving through the little shopping area, when I looked up and saw a shop I’d visited last time. STOP THE VAN! STOP THE VAN! LET ME OFF!!!

 

I ran in and there was Noreen Phillips, sitting behind her sewing machine. This woman designs and makes absolutely gorgeous clothes. Now, I’m not much of a shopper, but I’d seen things in there last time that I loved and really regretted not buying anything. So, know how to get me in designer-clothes shopping mode? Give me lots of drinks all day! I told her that I’d been there in 2009 and had looked forward to returning all these years. There was a woman in there from the Summit who said she comes to see Noreen every time she’s in port. Well, I immediately spotted a top I liked and it was on sale! Woot! Yes, I bought it.

 

Back on the ship, I decided to try a blue margarita from the Blue Iguana Tequila bar. It was very good. Then I stood in line at the deli for a while to get a hot dog. I absolutely LOVE Carnival’s hot dogs. And guess what was in my cabin! My casino gift basket! Guess what brand of wine? Yes, that horrible stuff! But it wasn’t the Chardonnay. I think it was Sauvignon Blanc, which I don’t normally drink, but it was marginally better than the other. I only poured out about ¼ of the bottle at the end of the cruise.

 

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Neighbors

 

I headed up to the casino after we sailed to tell the hostess I’d received the gift. Honestly, I’d rather have had some casino cash. The wine was awful, I didn’t need a basket full of fruit (I could get it at the buffet any time). I did eat the cheese and brought home the two little bags of almonds. Anyway, I sat down at a $1 machine and almost immediately won $200. So I go up, cashed out $100, took it up to the cabin, locked it in the safe, and Voila! I just recovered the cost of my designer clothing!

 

After dinner, I went back to the casino but didn’t have any luck. I met up with a couple of my tablemates who had gone to the comedy show and we went to the disco. I had too much wine. Again. But we were setting our clocks back and had a sea day the next day, so whatever!

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Thursday, 11/21/13, At Sea – I slept until almost 9 (unheard of for me; well at least for the last 30 years or so). Except it was only 8! I’d forgotten about the time change! Yay! After my omelette, I went up to Deck 10 to my favorite area and got all settled with my book and my cup of tea. And then realized that I was suddenly being rained on by ash from the funnel. I even had to get rid of my tea. I could feel chunks of ash in my hair. Obviously, I had to move. No problem; got a lounger at the end of a row that was just next to an overhang, so I could move in or out of the sun.

 

I had my Fish and Chips with Tuna and Watermelon appetizer, changed into some real clothes, and headed to our Meet and Greet at 1:30. We had nearly 100 people signed up, so they put us in the Degas Lounge. We checked in, were given a wristband to show we’d paid ($20 for 2 hours of open bar), and were given our name tags showing our Cruise Critic name, real name (if we wanted), and several of us participated in the Three Facts game. We listed three things about ourselves, only one was a lie, and people had to guess which was the lie. Despite my screen name being NCTribeFan (yes, I grew up in Cleveland), I had several people guess that “I love baseball” was the lie. Um, no. I do love baseball. And the Cleveland Indians, especially. We also had several people who participated in the gift exchange. We were supposed to bring something from home, but I forgot and figured I wouldn’t find much relating to North Carolina while in San Juan, so I didn’t participate. It was one of those where you could “steal” a gift from someone else if you wanted.

 

The drinks were a little slow at first and several people just went to the bar to order whatever they wanted. Since I knew I’d be going to the Past Guest party later, I decided I’d better stick with the rum punch. I did some mingling. I wanted to find the couple from New Zealand, as I’d told them I was a big Rugby fan, specifically an All Blacks fan, but I couldn’t find them. I did find the Aussies, though, and apologized to them that I wasn’t a Wallabies fan. I met several people with whom I’d talked in our huge Roll Call thread. I do believe that several people consumed a whole lot of alcohol in a rather short period of time. It was pretty crazy.

 

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I don't know how many pics I tried to take of the salsa band, but they were always too dark. I must admit I had a pretty big crush on the singer. He sounded like Victor Manuelle

 

We went straight from that party to our Slot Pull. I’d never been involved in one before. We had about 75 people for that. We drew numbers, and had three $1 machines that had a max $2 spin, so we waited our turn and each got 10 spins. It didn’t look like we were doing so great, so I went over and started talking to the young German couple who had been on the same excursion vans in St Kitts and Dominica. We were chatting away and I realized that everyone was gone! I had no idea how the pull had turned out, what our winnings were, or how to collect!

 

Time for the Past Guest party and more drinks! It was in the main show lounge and was pretty full. Yes, I could see and hear several of our M&G revelers enjoying themselves and consuming more quantities of alcohol. I did not go up on stage to dance. Instead, I headed to the cabin to get ready for our second elegant night. I decided to wear my new designer top over my black slacks and, since I had received the $10 photo credit, headed down to pose for several glam shots before dinner.

 

DD and I used to get many photos taken. Those who have seen Napoleon Dynamite will understand when I refer to these as our Uncle Rico poses. We always tried to ham it up as much as possible. I only ever bought one of those, but it was always entertaining to find them and laugh at ourselves. So, I’d gotten a few, and stepped up at another station for some more, when a man walks up, puts his arm around my waist and says he’d like to have a photo taken with me. Yeah, ok. Whatever, guy! I get a few more (solo), and start to leave but he stops me and asks if I want to go have a drink. Now, he was pretty good looking, but only came up to about my shoulder. He then says, “I love tall women!” Uh, that’s nice, but no, I don’t want to go have a drink. Thanks, though! It was pretty funny. I ended up buying one of those pics. It’s like the more extreme I try to be in the pose, the better it turns out. I really just wanted a good photo of my lovely designer top! LOL.

 

Dinner was just OK. I just do not know why I continue to try the beef dishes. The chateaubriand was rare enough, but it was stringy. My two tablemates and I went to the Latin Nights show. It was ok; not really what I was expecting. I bet the actual Latin Americans in the audience were not very impressed. The salsa band was playing in the lobby, so we stopped and listened to them for a little while, male tablemate went to bed, so female tablemate and I headed to the disco to dance again. I was in bed around midnight.

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I am really enjoying your review. I desperately wanted to go on this cruise but the timing wouldn't work. Thanks for making me feel like I was there.

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