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LittleMissMagic

LittleMissMagic's 2014 8-Day Carnival BREEZE S.Caribbean Cruise - A Photo Review!

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Hello, Cruise Critics! Welcome to my 2014 Spring Break Cruise trip report!

 

I’m Victoria, a fourth year (final semester!) architecture major and travel and tourism minor at Clemson University. In addition to architecture, I enjoy photography, traveling, and sharing my experience with others. This is my seventh photo review on Cruise Critic – you can find links to my other photo reviews in my signature below. And if you enjoy my review, you can read more travel writings on my travel blog, victoriaonvacation.blogspot.com or keep up with me on Facebook.

 

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I feel the need to start every cruise review with a little ‘disclaimer.’ This review will be told in a journalistic style with lots of photos. With the exception of this first post, I don't expect there to be too many posts with only paragraphs and paragraphs of text – I rely greatly on photos to tell the story. I also don’t take myself too seriously, and you shouldn't either. There will be a lot of fun-poking and maybe a little sarcasm, and you’re all invited to join in on the fun! I encourage you to post comments to share your thoughts and experiences, or just tell me who you are!

 

My Traveling Party

 

Well, I guess this time it's just a travel companion...

 

My boyfriend, Max, is a civil engineering major at Clemson University, and you might recognize him from my Norwegian Epic Western Mediterranean review on Cruise Critic. This was his second cruise and his first Caribbean cruise. Max finds joy in the simplest things in life and is eager to share his enthusiasm with others. That being said, he's very fun to travel with because has an opinion about the smallest of details and is really good at pinpointing exactly what he likes and what he wishes was different. I think his observations will add a lot of value to this cruise review!

 

If you're wondering about my sister, Rachel, don't worry! She went on a cruise of her own with her friend and my mother on the Norwegian Dawn and had a fabulous time. You'll see more of her (and Max) on our Disney Fantasy cruise in May!

 

Choosing the Cruise

 

I had many different ideas of what I wanted to do for my final spring break. My first thought was Vegas because Max has really expressed an interest in going and accommodations are so affordable. However, after a bit of research and calculations (not to mention experience from previous trips), I realized that a week in Vegas was going to cost us much more in entertainment, and we weren't going to Vegas to sit by the pool all day. By the time I added in airfare and cabs, it was really starting to push our budget.

 

I started looking into cruises because it was freezing in South Carolina (We had two different weeks during which we had snow in Clemson!) and I wanted a tropical escape. Norwegian had great prices - the Epic was starting at just under $400pp for an inside stateroom, but I was a little in love with the Getaway which was around $600-700pp for an inside stateroom. Both had great onboard credit offers. Then I noticed an extremely good price on the Allure of the Seas (around $600pp inside), and Max fell in love with the ship. We were watching the price and preparing to book....

 

And then I went home one afternoon because I needed the box to return a camera lens I had rented. I was standing in the kitchen talking to my mother and mindlessly flipping through the mail when I noticed an envelope addressed to me from Carnival Cruise Line.

 

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Free Carnival Cruise by vshingl, on Flickr

 

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Free Carnival Cruise by vshingl, on Flickr

 

I get mail from cruise lines all of the time, so I wasn't at all surprised by the envelope. However, when I opened it up and read that I had qualified for a free cabin (yep... I'm one of those people), I couldn't believe it. My mom was skeptical and told me to photocopy it and leave it for my dad to check out. After returning to school, I went online and logged into my VIFP account, and then I started to believe it....

 

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Carnival Free Cruise by vshingl, on Flickr

 

I knew exactly which cruise I wanted - the 8-day on the Carnival Breeze - and was excited to find that the March 15 sailing was included in the promotion.

 

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Carnival Free Cruise by vshingl, on Flickr

 

I immediately called Max and told him the good news. He was ecstatic and ready to book as long as my dad was good with the terms of agreement. Unfortunately, by the time my dad was home and able to check it out, the $80 balcony room was gone. I contemplated briefly switching to the Carnival Dream (I've already been on that ship) so that I could get the balcony room but decided that was a ridiculous reason to pass up an extra day on a new ship with new ports. I called Carnival to book the cruise just to make sure that I understood everything (and was hoping that maybe there was a balcony available... no luck). The Carnival representative was super excited for me, saying, "Who gives away free cruises? My company! It is a great company!"

 

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Carnival Free Cruise by vshingl, on Flickr

 

It's not actually a free cruise, just a free stateroom. We still paid taxes and government fees and also purchased the vacation protection. Which meant that the total cost of our cruise booking was only $366.50 for two people - still amazing!

 

Choosing the Cabin

 

Well, I didn't get much of a choice. I wanted the $80pp balcony upgrade, but it was unavailable. So instead, I did the $40pp ocean view upgrade. The Carnival rep said that she had stayed in that category stateroom - she called it a family ocean view - and that it was a really great room and had two bathrooms. I had the choice between two rooms, and I chose the one closer to the stairs.

 

Pre-Cruise Planning

 

This is something I completely skipped over for my Royal Princess review, but Max very much enjoys pre-cruise planning. He enjoys looking through the excursions on the website and reading the reviews to decide what to do.

 

The two of us got our SCUBA certifications this semester. Max's dad dives and had always encouraged Max to do it, and I finally had a bit of freedom in my schedule this semester, so we were able to do it through Clemson. We were looking to do a dive excursion, and there were three ports that offered it - Grand Turk, Aruba, and La Romana. After reading through the reviews, we decided that we couldn't pass up the opportunity to see the third largest barrier reef in the world and booked our scuba excursion for our day in Grand Turk through Carnival.

 

The other excursion we booked was something I never would have even been interested in. But Max read the reviews which were very positive and decided that we should do the Dune Buggy tour in La Romana, Dominican Republic. It took a bit of persuasion to sell me on it, but the reviews on Carnival's website were very thorough, and this was something that I normally wouldn't do on a cruise with my family.

 

My Camera Bag

 

I usually get several questions about cameras and gear, so below I've listed all of the gear in my camera bag! It seems to grow larger with each review... I may be a bit of a gear addict. For the most part, I shoot with my Nikon D7100 which I carry around my neck almost all of the time. When I'm doing something risky or can't carry as much equipment, I shoot with my Nikon 1 compact camera. And for this trip, I rented a GoPro from BorrowLenses because I wanted to be able to take photos scuba diving, and I wanted to see if it was something I'd like to buy in the future.

 

Nikon D7100 camera body, Tamron 17-50mm f2.8 lens, Tokina 11-16mm f2.8 lens, Nikon SB-700 AF Speedlight

 

Nikon 1 compact camera, 10-30mm Nikon 1 lens, 30-110mm Nikon 1 lens

 

MeFoto Backpacker Travel Tripod

 

Wireless Remote

 

Also, I rented a GoPro Hero 3 Black Edition which came with the underwater housing and several other gadgets. I bought a GoPole mount from Amazon to use underwater.

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Thanks for taking the time to do the review. I will be following along as I will be on the Breeze in a couple weeks.

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Awesome start to your review!!! Thank you for taking the time to do it. We will be on the Breeze for our 2nd time in July, doing this exact itinerary. :)))). Bummer about the balcony. :(. Ok. I'm ready for more. :D

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Subscribing. I don't sail Carnival but I LOVE your reviews and photos. I even gave you credit in my recent Allure review. I dragged myself out of bed at a ridiculous hour in the morning for some shots of the ship, after seeing your Royal Princess photos.

 

Sent from my SGH-M919 using Tapatalk

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Thank you all for joining in!

 

Subscribing. I don't sail Carnival but I LOVE your reviews and photos. I even gave you credit in my recent Allure review. I dragged myself out of bed at a ridiculous hour in the morning for some shots of the ship, after seeing your Royal Princess photos.

 

Sent from my SGH-M919 using Tapatalk

 

Yay! You found me, Karen! I posted on the Norwegian, Princess, and Royal Caribbean (that one got removed) boards in hopes to find some of my loyal readers. I do wish that Cruise Critic had a private message feature because there were a few users coming to mind who I was really wishing I had a way to contact.

 

Do you mind sharing the link to your Allure review? I would love to read it!

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Sweet!! I LOVE your reviews!! Really looking forward to all your photos and observations. Congrats on getting the free cruise... how awesome is that! :D

 

Celine

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Friday, March 14, 2014 - We're Coming, Miami!

 

I did contemplate flying to Miami, but decided on driving. I've done the drive a few times before, as has Max (he's gone to both Orange bowls that Clemson played in while in school). We decided to leave at 5 AM in hopes of getting to Miami in time to enjoy dinner and the hotel. The difference between leaving with Max and leaving with my family is that when I leave with Max, we actually leave on time... :D

 

5 AM wasn't a good departure time, though, because it was timed perfectly for us to hit both Atlanta and Miami rush hours.

 

As we drove through Atlanta, I began shouting at Max to take photos of the skyline.

 

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ATL by vshingl, on Flickr

 

He wasn't too happy with me because he was playing Clash of the Clans, an iPhone game to which he has a current obsession which I don't quite understand but can't be judgmental of because I doubt he fully understands my obsession with travel blogging... or photography... or Disney trivia.

 

Cops were everywhere in Georgia. I passed at least ten. There was also a bit of construction on I-75. We also witnessed a horrifying wreck in Florida right before the turnpike on the north side where a boat fell off of the trailer which caused at least a 9-mile back-up (when we passed it). Those poor people weren't going anywhere for a few hours!

 

We were going to hit Orlando around lunch time, and we debated going to Disney to eat but decided that it would slow us down too much. We ate at one of the travel plazas along the turnpike instead which had great options including Earl of Sandwich!

 

We hit Miami rush hour which was terrible. Max was driving then, and he was really annoyed... just wanted to get there.

 

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Miami by vshingl, on Flickr

 

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Miami by vshingl, on Flickr

 

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Miami by vshingl, on Flickr

 

13387815645_310b0d53bf_b.jpg

Miami by vshingl, on Flickr

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Love the review ... are you on facebook?

 

ETA, nevermind that fb question, I found you on there and messaged you

Edited by rockinmlb

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Thank you all for joining in!

 

 

 

Yay! You found me, Karen! I posted on the Norwegian, Princess, and Royal Caribbean (that one got removed) boards in hopes to find some of my loyal readers. I do wish that Cruise Critic had a private message feature because there were a few users coming to mind who I was really wishing I had a way to contact.

 

Do you mind sharing the link to your Allure review? I would love to read it!

 

It's very very short :D. I did include the link to my not so short collection of photos on Flickr though.

 

I found you from the Princess board. I've been bouncing between all the boards for the poor ships stuck in Texas, so I would have found you eventually.

 

I'm having to type the link because I haven't quite got the hang of copying and pasting on my phone. Hope I get it right.

 

http://Http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1992139

 

Sent from my SGH-M919 using Tapatalk

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Yay! You're back! I was counting down the days to this photo review. I can't wait to hear about your experience with Carnival.

 

Two comments so far:

 

1. Excellent use of your Grand Turk day, ie. scuba diving. Not too much else to do on Grand Turk other than the pool at Margaritaville. The port beach is meh!

 

2. Miami traffic is the bane of my vacation existence even on the best of days. I can't imagine what it would be like during rush hour. :mad:

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Awesome start !!!! Cant wait to read and see more!! Keep it coming, the Breeze is a beauty of a ship! We'll be sailing again in 32 more days so any review with pics , woohoo!!

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Lucky you to get the free cruise offer! I'm excited to read the rest of your review and see pictures. Enjoying your review style!

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Friday, March 14, 2014 - We're Coming, Miami!

 

I did contemplate flying to Miami, but decided on driving. I've done the drive a few times before, as has Max (he's gone to both Orange bowls that Clemson played in while in school). We decided to leave at 5 AM in hopes of getting to Miami in time to enjoy dinner and the hotel. The difference between leaving with Max and leaving with my family is that when I leave with Max, we actually leave on time... :D

 

5 AM wasn't a good departure time, though, because it was timed perfectly for us to hit both Atlanta and Miami rush hours.

 

As we drove through Atlanta, I began shouting at Max to take photos of the skyline.

 

13387124825_61038454ec_c.jpg

ATL by vshingl, on Flickr

 

He wasn't too happy with me because he was playing Clash of the Clans, an iPhone game to which he has a current obsession which I don't quite understand but can't be judgmental of because I doubt he fully understands my obsession with travel blogging... or photography... or Disney trivia.

 

Cops were everywhere in Georgia. I passed at least ten. There was also a bit of construction on I-75. We also witnessed a horrifying wreck in Florida right before the turnpike on the north side where a boat fell off of the trailer which caused at least a 9-mile back-up (when we passed it). Those poor people weren't going anywhere for a few hours!

 

We were going to hit Orlando around lunch time, and we debated going to Disney to eat but decided that it would slow us down too much. We ate at one of the travel plazas along the turnpike instead which had great options including Earl of Sandwich!

 

We hit Miami rush hour which was terrible. Max was driving then, and he was really annoyed... just wanted to get there.

 

13388167194_78d3dc46b7_b.jpg

Miami by vshingl, on Flickr

 

13387945653_5519d501e5_b.jpg

Miami by vshingl, on Flickr

 

13388166524_c84cda43a5_b.jpg

Miami by vshingl, on Flickr

 

13387815645_310b0d53bf_b.jpg

Miami by vshingl, on Flickr

 

Victoria, I have strolled/moseyed/sashayed over from the Princess Boards to read yet another Shingletonian Epic. I am pulling up a comfy chair...

 

Norris

norrisadair.blogspot.com

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Yay! You're back! I was counting down the days to this photo review. I can't wait to hear about your experience with Carnival.

 

Two comments so far:

 

1. Excellent use of your Grand Turk day, ie. scuba diving. Not too much else to do on Grand Turk other than the pool at Margaritaville. The port beach is meh!

 

2. Miami traffic is the bane of my vacation existence even on the best of days. I can't imagine what it would be like during rush hour. :mad:

 

I'm glad you found me!!!

 

Max's first comment when arriving in Grand Turk was, "Is this what all Caribbean beaches are like?" I thought he meant the white sand and clear blue waters and answered yes, for the most part - I was surprised that he seemed disappointed. When walking back along the beach, I realized that he might have meant close to the ship with so many chairs and asked him to clarify. Sure enough, the excessive amount of chairs was what concerned him!

 

The Margaritaville did look pretty nice, though....

Edited by LittleMissMagic

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13387815395_5bbc507c79_b.jpg

Miami by vshingl, on Flickr

 

Finally, when waiting in the terrible traffic, I spotted our hotel!

 

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Miami by vshingl, on Flickr

 

We were staying at the Conrad Miami. See, Max's mother travels for work and stays in hotels typically 4-5 nights a week. Therefore, she has an incredible amount of hotel reward points, and she is so generous to use her points to book hotels for Max and me when we travel. But for this trip, she really spoiled us!

 

The entry is kind of confusing (for non-city dwellers like ourselves), so I'm surprised we figured it out the first try. You turn past the hotel and pull into the parking garage where they valet your car... I'm not even sure if self-park is an option. Then you take the express elevators to the 25th floor which is where the hotel lobby is located (I do have a bit of experience with mixed-use buildings, as I designed a mixed-use high rise on the NYC High Line for a studio project). Max was fussing at me because he had traveled in his sweatpants and felt under-dressed in this classy establishment.

 

After checking in, we had no luck calling the elevator. The light wouldn't come on, and we were looking rather silly among all of these people in suits. Since we only had two flights to go, I suggested we take the fire stairs. The entire situation was really amusing to me, but Max didn't find it quite so funny as I assured him up the stairs, "They put their pants on one leg at a time, just like us!" "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent!"

 

Once we opened the door though, who cares how anyone else put on their pants? Because we had an awesome room for one night!

 

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Miami by vshingl, on Flickr

 

It was a king suite overlooking the bay.

 

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Miami by vshingl, on Flickr

 

I have never before stayed in a suite in such a ritzy hotel.

 

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Miami by vshingl, on Flickr

 

13387803315_4d238ffeb6_b.jpg

Miami by vshingl, on Flickr

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13387800575_7efc9b846a_b.jpg

Miami by vshingl, on Flickr

 

After photographing the room and calling Max's mom to thank her immensely, we set out for food.

 

And being our awkward selves, we descended to the ground level where we asked the guy at the concierge desk if he had any food recommendations. "What type of food are you feeling?" "Um... really anything." "Well, just go to the end of the block and turn left, then cross the street and go right, and you'll have many options." Max joked that he should have told him, "I'm feeling cheap..." or "Do you know any Waffle Houses nearby?"

 

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Miami by vshingl, on Flickr

 

13388148494_419ba52163_b.jpg

Miami by vshingl, on Flickr

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We settled on the second place we found which was LaBoca which had Argentinian cuisine.

 

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Miami by vshingl, on Flickr

 

It was Happy Hour, so we celebrated our arrival to Miami with martinis!

 

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Miami by vshingl, on Flickr

 

A Cosmopolitan

 

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Miami by vshingl, on Flickr

 

And Apple Martini

 

I'll let you guess who had which drink.... it's probably not your first guess. Because if it was your first guess, then I could probably just tell you! ;)

 

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Miami by vshingl, on Flickr

 

We both got sandwiches. Max took a bite into his and shook his head. "I'm disappointed." "Oh no, do you not like it? You can try mine." "...that we don't have one of these at home, so this is the last time this deliciousness will ever enter my mouth."

 

Yes, Max gives me the best quotes for my trip report.

 

13388145884_ff671d1b9d_b.jpg

Miami by vshingl, on Flickr

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13388144434_226af27eaf_b.jpg

Miami by vshingl, on Flickr

 

After eating, we tried to find a grocery store to get some champagne from for the night. Siri found a Publix. We walked there to learn that it was a Publix Cafe, not a Publix grocery store. However, we had passed a 7-Eleven along the way where we were able to pick up some champagne for the night and a bottle of wine to bring on the cruise (Carnival allows one 750-ml bottle per guest 21 and over).

 

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Miami by vshingl, on Flickr

 

After returning to the room, I took a few long exposures from our balcony.

 

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Miami by vshingl, on Flickr

 

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Miami by vshingl, on Flickr

 

We then celebrated our very brief high life with the finest champagne...

 

13387817945_24ff10d8e4_b.jpg

Miami by vshingl, on Flickr

 

Hey, now - don't laugh! We're still on a student budget! :D

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My sisters and I splurged on booking a night at the Conrad Hilton in Chicago for New Years Eve one year. I'll never forget that marble bathroom...with heated tiles! Talk about the high life! LOL

 

What a beautiful room...and excellent way to begin your vacation!

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March 15, 2014 - Embarkation

 

I woke up that morning as the sun was rising and decided to take the opportunity to get a few more long exposures from our balcony.

 

13406802824_7d57984043_b.jpg

Miami by vshingl, on Flickr

 

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Conrad Miami by vshingl, on Flickr

 

We noticed later that we could see the bow of the Norwegian Getaway.

 

13406572273_5128225911_b.jpg

Miami by vshingl, on Flickr

 

We got ready and went downstairs for our complimentary breakfast as Diamond members.... or Diamond member guests, at least. The breakfast buffet was wonderful - definitely the best hotel breakfast I've ever had. Mainly because if I ever eat a hotel breakfast, it's probably free, and it usually sucks.

 

I actually didn't bring my D7100 to breakfast because I thought it might be a little embarrassing, but I couldn't resist an iPhone photo...

 

13406752053_11e8fdda4c_c.jpg

Breakfast by vshingl, on Flickr

 

We were finishing up our breakfast when the check came. Opened it up.... $60 for the two of us. It was a good hotel breakfast, but it wasn't that good. Max decided that he was going to take the bill to the front desk to see what we were supposed to do about it.

 

Yeah, we were obviously new to this.

 

It turns out that the breakfast was complimentary for Diamond members, but they gave us a bill so that we could tip because the tip wasn't included. So our breakfast was covered, we just needed to tip extra. Phewww!

 

The guy at the front desk must have gotten a real kick out of us.

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13406572143_e5fefb1bcc_b.jpg

Conrad Miami by vshingl, on Flickr

 

We finished packing and said good-bye to our fabulous room.

 

13406804544_e3531ea53c_b.jpg

Miami by vshingl, on Flickr

 

Here we come, Carnival Breeze!

 

13406571603_98fac0ce51_b.jpg

Miami by vshingl, on Flickr

 

We were driving on this bridge, and I was taking this photo when the cab that was in front of us (in the previous photo) had its hood fly open. It was crazy. And I wasn't able to get a photo of it.

 

13406803684_78fb1d482f_b.jpg

Port of Miami by vshingl, on Flickr

 

Hello, cruise ships!

 

13406447365_b4358df215_b.jpg

Port of Miami by vshingl, on Flickr

 

The Port of Miami is much different than Port Canaveral and Port Everglades. There aren't any security checkpoints before going in, which is a little concerning. So we were really just trying to follow the signs to see where to go, but the Carnival Breeze wasn't on any signs. We drove to the Norwegian Epic and asked a traffic officer there who sent us on to Terminal D.

 

13406803094_b350c78c23_b.jpg

Carnival Breeze by vshingl, on Flickr

Edited by LittleMissMagic

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Love your review! We are sailing on the Breeze in August.. Can't wait. Not our 1st cruise, but 1st Carnival cruise.

 

 

Sent using the Cruise Critic forums app

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Love your review! We are sailing on the Breeze in August.. Can't wait. Not our 1st cruise, but 1st Carnival cruise.

 

 

Sent using the Cruise Critic forums app

 

The Breeze is fabulous. We've sailed her twice last year and planning one for this year on her.

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Yet another awesome review from you! I have always enjoyed reading your reviews so thank you for all your hard work!

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WOW!!!! loving your review. I'm even going back and reading all of your other reviews. I really like your writing style and pics. I do have a question. We are also BIG Disney fans and tried to click on your WDW review but the link didn't work:mad: can you try and post the link again, would love to read it.

Thanks,

Scott

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