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lara_lox

Solo Fashionista gets some Sunshine (Take 2!)

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Hi everyone! First of all let me introduce myself. This was my 7th cruise as an adult, but my first with Carnival, so although I’m a familiar face (or should that be screen name?!) on other forums, this is my first review here on the Carnival board. I’m a 29 year old single girl from Manchester in England. I travel solo and I LOVE fashion – yup you guessed it from the title of this thread! I love to read other people’s reviews and they really help me with planning my trips, so I first started doing this to pay back in kind. But somehow, my blogs have now become a tradition for me. I write really long day-by-day accounts of my adventures, with lots of pictures, including an ‘outfit of the day’ one if I can! I am the worst photographer ever; I just point and shoot, usually blinded somewhat by the sun and/or cocktails so they are to give you an impression of my experiences, rather than beautiful, professional photographs. For pictures of the Sunshine, just search online, there are so many that are so much better than I could ever take.

 

Here’s me:

 

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Anyway, moving on, I sailed 8 nights on the Sunshine May 2nd 2014, from Port Canaveral, stopping at Curacao, Aruba and Grand Turk. Because I was coming so far I spent three nights on Cocoa Beach pre-cruise to get adjusted, try to overcome any jet lag, and of course enjoy some Florida sun! If you are ready for a long, tongue-in-cheek account of my trip, the fun starts here, but if you prefer a serious, concise run down of ship facilities etc, you might want to stop reading now because you will probably hate me, haha! I write in purple so that you know which parts are my review and which are comments/questions, so you can just skip those if you want, for easier reading. So hold tight, here goes…

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Day 1 – Travelling

 

As always I woke up tired after a poor nights sleep, even beating my alarm. I drove myself to Manchester Airport where I parked at a private off-site facility then caught the free shuttle bus to the terminal. This is where the ‘fun’ started. I got into the check-in line for my airline Thomas Cook, after a rep told me that this was for all Thomas Cook flights. However, looking at everyone else I wasn’t sure, so I asked again, only to be told that actually the check-in for Orlando was on a different level of the airport. Great. So I traipsed back to the lower level I had already passed and waited there. And waited. And waited. The luggage conveyor belts had broken so there were long delays and the line was barely moving. Eventually we were told we could go and use the check-in desks upstairs as they were free. I made my way back to the line I had initially joined where one of the reps saw me and said, ‘Oh you were up here earlier’. Errrr yes… Luckily I had set off from home early, but even so I still only just had time for a quick breakfast before I caught my flight.

 

I was able to fly direct Manchester to Orlando, which took about nine hours but passed fairly quickly. I was pleased with the outfit I had chosen as it was comfortable and practical but I think still cute. I wore black leggings, with a white vest suitable for the sun of Florida, but a long woolly grey cardigan to keep me warm in the UK and on the plane, and grey trainer-style pumps. I had a gold pashmina that I wore as a scarf, then used a blanket on the plane. It’s all about the layers!

 

We touched down in Orlando slightly early and to my relief, I collected my luggage quickly. Travelling alone I can never relax until I find my case, because without it I would be in trouble, as there is no-one to share their stuff with me! People often ask me how I manage to bring so many clothes and accessories, but I plan rather obsessively (I actually have a spreadsheet, yes I know, what a geek!) so I don’t over pack and only bring what I will wear. Plus I have to carry everything myself and conform to airline restrictions, so this trip I had my large suitcase and a carry-on bag. I even took a picture in anticipation of this moment:

 

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I had pre-arranged a shuttle to Cocoa Beach with Cocoa Beach Shuttle for $33. I was meant to call them when I landed so that they know to collect me, however when I tried to turn on my mobile phone, nothing happened, it was dead. I went to a public phone which was free for local calls, but every time I tried to dial I got the incorrect tone. I asked at the information desk for help and the lovely man there used his phone to call for me. Within 5 minutes my shuttle arrived and I was on my way to Cocoa Beach. After a fairly quick journey of maybe 40 minutes I arrived at the Four Points by Sheraton, which is next to the famous Ron Jon’s Surf Shop. I checked in and found I had been upgraded to a junior suite, nice! This meant I had a huge room and two double beds all to myself:

 

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I tried to charge my phone up but it still wouldn’t work for some reason, This bothered me for a few minutes until I decided I didn’t care, I was on holiday and there was nothing I could do about it! Handily I somehow managed to use my Kindle to email my Mum back home so she knew I had arrived ok, and then I could relax. Except as I started to unpack, I saw that one of my bottles of sun cream had exploded inside my case. Thankfully I always pack all my toiletries in a plastic beauty bag so none of my clothes were ruined, but still, washing white gunk off of everything wasn’t really how I has envisaged spending the first thirty minutes of my holiday. Hmmm. Although it was only early, I was now really hungry so I quickly showered and changed into a white flowered sundress and new flat sandals and headed down to the hotel bar and restaurant, The Shark Pit.

 

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This bar is open to everyone, not just hotel guests, and the bar was full of cruise ship passengers from the Norwegian Breakaway. This meant that some people were dressed in usual drink/dinner clothes whilst others were in swim wear and cover ups, coated in sand. The bar has drink specials on port days, with Margaritas for only $1 and Mai Tais for £2.50. It was also Happy Hour buy-one-get-one-free from 4pm-7pm so I took advantage of this and ordered a long awaited glass of wine. Before I go on holiday I go on a major health kick for a month, eating very carefully, drinking no alcohol and hammering the gym. This is so I can stuff my face and drink as much as I want whilst I’m away without feeling guilty! So I really enjoyed my wine and ordered and ate a huge pizza all to myself, nom nom nom. I was happy! I chatted to various people at the bar for a while before my long day caught up with me and I went for an early night. It might have only been 9.30pm, but for me that meant 2.30am, so I fell into my very comfy bed and went to sleep.

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Day 2 - Cocoa Beach

 

I woke up at about 7.30am and spent a while unpacking and getting things sorted in my room. At the hotel Reception I was able to use a free safety deposit box, get a map of the area, book a shuttle to take me to the cruise port on Friday ($6 FYI) and borrow a beach towel. Very good service from wonderfully helpful and friendly staff. I had done my research on the area whilst planning my trip, so I knew where was good to eat. One place highly recommended on Trip Advisor was a place called TJ’s Full Belly Deli, right across form the hotel. However, I looked and I looked but I couldn’t find it. So improvising, I ended up at IHOP. We don’t have pancakes like this for breakfast in the UK, so that’s exactly what I ordered, blueberry pancakes. I felt so American, haha!

 

After this I did what any self respecting, pale English girl used to the rain would do – I hit the beach. I wanted to sunbathe whilst I could because there were some clouds and thunderstorms forecast for later. I walked along the shore and chose a spot past the crowds next to where Ron Jon employees were giving surf lessons, which were fun to watch. I just chilled out, enjoyed the water and read for a while. After a few hours I walked twenty minutes up the beach to Cocoa Beach Pier where I settled myself down at Marlins. I had a couple of Coronas and a delicious fresh grilled chicken salad, overlooking the beach

 

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On my way back I walked down the road so I could look out for the Sandbar, where I intended to hang out later. I found it easily enough (thank you Google maps!) and it looked busy and fun. Once back at the hotel I had a cup of tea and watched Friends before getting ready for the evening. Tonight I wore a peach coloured vest, jeans and really high multi coloured sandals.

 

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I went to Nolan’s Irish Pub for some food, but it was dead in there! There was almost no-one inside, only three people. I sat at the bar and chatted to the bartender as I ate my hot beef roll, but because there was nothing going on, I left as soon as I finished eating. It was a shame because the pub was pretty cool, with loads of interesting things to look at, and the bartender was a really friendly girl.

 

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I walked down to the Sandbar, and it was raining heavily. Being from England, I am used to this and so was prepared, with a little umbrella already tucked in my bag. I made it to the bar but immediately got asked for ID. I’d forgotten that I need this everywhere in the US as in the UK the legal drinking age is 18, so even though I look quite young for my age, I rarely get ID’d any more. So I had to return to my hotel to collect my driving licence in order to get a drink. Once I made it back again, I was fed up of walking about in the rain, and not really in the mood for socialising. The waitress also annoyed me because when I ordered a strawberry daiquiri from her, she asked if I wanted change. I though this was rude, like she was asking for a tip. I actually had some loose change I wanted to get rid of and intended to give her, so I said yes I did, and she actually short changed me. Grrrrrr, cheeky cow! I watched people doing karaoke for a bit and fended off a couple of strange men before deciding I’d had enough and heading back to bed.

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Day 3 – Cocoa Beach Part 2

 

This morning the holiday curse struck again as I woke up at 5.30am! At home I only wish I could sleep in, and now I had the chance it just wasn’t happening. Though it was probably just as well that I was up so early, as I ended up having a lonnnng morning. I wanted a lighter breakfast this morning, so I decided to walk the opposite way down the road to find the Beachside Grill and Deli, which came highly recommended online. After about a 25 minute walk I managed to find it… but it was shut for vacation, typical! I kept walking but there weren’t any breakfast places about that I could see. I had come this far so I refused to turn back, instead revising my idea that downtown Cocoa Beach was too far away to visit. I started to pass several of the sights I’d come across during my research, such as Lori Wilson Park, and this:

 

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Eventually after a whole hour I made it, hungry, tired and very much ready for my food! I happened upon the Simply Delicious Bakery, which was a charming little café, that baked home made breads and cakes. I had a smoked salmon and cream cheese bagel and some fruit. It was all delicious and very fresh and although I wouldn’t have chosen to walk all that way just for breakfast, it didn’t let me down.

 

I thought it would be much nicer to walk back along the beach, which was far more scenic of course than the road route. I considered catching a bus, but because I wanted to chill on the beach again, I figured I would just walk half way, relax for a while, and then carry on. I found a quiet, secluded spot where I cooled down in the sea then just read and napped for the rest of the morning. I stopped back at my hotel to collect some more cash (Four Points was in a great location for exactly this reason) and returned to the Pier seeing as I had enjoyed it so much yesterday. I had a grilled mahi-mahi sandwich and a Corona in the same spot as yesterday before wearily walking back down the beach to near my hotel. I walked for about 3 hours today in total! So by now I was tired, my legs aching, and my feet blistered. I also somehow managed to get sunburnt, despite slathering myself in SPF30 constantly after getting pink yesterday. Stupid snow white English skin

 

I took a cool bath to bring myself round then dressed in skinny blue jeans, a flowered vest and cream wedges.

 

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I was resolutely NOT walking any further today so I made it downstairs to the Shark Pit again in time for the end of Happy Hour. Also, as part of an environmentally friendly scheme the hotel ran, for each night you chose not to have your linens changed, you received a $5 ‘green credit’ for use in the complex. This meant I got $10 off my bill for tonight’s wine and pizza. As I ate I got chatting to a lovely family who were also embarking on the Sunshine in the morning, so I spent a pleasant final evening in Cocoa Beach with them, before another early night. I enjoyed my time in Cocoa Beach but I was ready for my Cruise. Roll on morning!

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Day 4 – Sunshine time

 

I woke up at 5am. Yup, that’s right, FIVE O’CLOCK IN THE MORNING, are you kidding?!? Why on earth was my body choosing to punish me this way? However hard I tried I couldn’t get back to sleep, so not only was I tired, I also had to wait even longer to get on the ship.

 

I got a coffee and panini from the Starbucks on site, as it opened at 6am. I didn’t like the girl who served me, and my takeout breakfast was only a few dollars less than either of the restaurants I had eaten in. So although convenient, it wouldn't be my first choice. At least the coffee was strong and perked me up a bit. I walked to the CVS across the street to buy some more Aloe, seeing as how by now I had already used most of mine and I was sliding around in green gloop in an attempt to turn from Patchy Red Tourist to Bronzed Beach Goddess. (It didn’t work ) I also wanted to buy my one bottle of wine I was allowed to carry on the ship with me. In my decision to buy a nice bottle of Chianti, I completely forgot my plan to buy a cheapo screw top so I didn’t need a corkscrew. More to come on that later…

 

I still had some time to while away so I went to visit the famous Ron Jon’s surf shop. It was pretty cool and I liked the design of the shop, so it was worth a look around regardless of whether or not you surf and/or shop. This Fashionista could have very easily gotten carried away with all the pretty sundresses, bikinis and sandals, but I somehow resisted. Though weirdly, that itself made me feel like I deserved to buy something as a reward. Now you can see why I have so many clothes and shoes haha!

 

My 11.15am shuttle arrived on time and from my hotel there was also a large family going on a Disney cruise. The driver was checking everyone off his list, and he asked me several times if I was one of the *** party, and several times I said yes, that was my name, but it was just me. Given that my ticket clearly said ‘1 person’ I don’t know why this was so hard to understand. He then made a big deal of me being by myself in front of the whole shuttle and told me ‘Well that’s weird.’ What’s it to him?! How rude, an instant loss of tip on his part. Anyway, even by myself (GASP!) I made it to the Sunshine a short while later after picking up guests from another hotel. I was so excited for my first glimpse of the Sunshine as we drove over the bridge to the port. I arrived at 11.45am and was onboard by 12.15pm, which I thought was good going. They had just started boarding when I checked in, and the whole process was running very smoothly. I also got several comments from other ladies in the line about my dress! This was a cute little nautical sundress that I love because it seems so appropriate for embarkation. I didn’t get a proper picture so here’s one of me wearing it on a cruise last year:

 

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I was really hungry after my ridiculously early breakfast so I headed straight to the Lido for some food. I wanted a Guy’s Burger but I couldn’t be bothered to queue up with my bag so instead I went to the Blue Iguana Cantina where there was no line. I got a chicken burrito, which was really good, and sat on a bar stool overlooking the port to eat. These bars ran behind the both the Blue Iguana Tequila Bar and the Red Frog Rum Bar on the other side of the deck, and throughout the whole cruise I always found a seat at one of these.

 

After getting rid of my hunger pangs I sat at the tequila bar itself and enjoyed a Corona and some people watching as everyone arrived. My carry-on bag was too heavy for me to lug about to explore so at 1pm I headed down to my cabin to see if it was ready yet, which it was. I had gone for 1A category, deck 2 forward, because it was cheaper than the insides but had two portholes. Motion doesn’t bother me, so I didn’t mind that being all the way forward it would take the brunt of the waves. I was really happy with my choice and pleasantly surprised to see that I had a double bed and a sofa, rather than a twin bed and a sofa bed, as described. I also saw later that it was quite a lot bigger than a standard inside. I did good!

 

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Once I dropped my bag off I explored the ship from the bottom up, deck by deck. I really liked all the different venues and spaces on the Sunshine, and felt like I was back on a newer NCL ship. Because all of two or three hours had passed, I obviously needed MORE food so I took my chance to get a Guy’s burger now the line had gone. YUUUUUMMMMMMMMMM! It was delicious. Even more so after weeks of healthy old salad and fish. The muster drill passed as expected, then it was time to start the party! We had really big Cruise Critic and Facebook groups going for this sailing, and we had arranged an informal meeting at the Red Frog Rum Bar on deck for sailaway. One problem, it was pouring with rain. But who lets a bit of water stop them? Not us! I instantly recognised one girl, E, (I will go with initials only in order to protect the identities of my fellow partiers to be!) who I’d been chatting to online and that was the start of a beautiful, slightly crazy friendship! I also met B who was to become another great buddy. B invited me to try some Fruit Loop Vodka he had brought with him, and in the spirit of new friendship I thought it would be rude not to! So I was chatting away to everyone when someone commented how good I was being sticking to water. Yeah, that’s what I’m drinking, water, hehehe! Cue much hilarity when they found out the truth. After this I went to my cabin, where my suitcase had finally arrived. I did a little happy dance before controlling myself and getting ready for the evening.

 

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Because there was a lot happening today, I will split this into two posts, stand by…

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For my first night I wore black leggings, a black and grey striped vest, and some unusual silver jewelled sandals that I love and call my Cruise Shoes! (I didn’t get a full length outfit photo tonight, oops.) I had already missed the Welcome Show having fun at our sailaway party, so I went to Ocean Plaza for a glass of fizz to celebrate the start of the cruise. The Taste Bar, which serves tiny taster portions of food from the specialty restaurants, was perfectly situated for a pre dinner nibble, but after my burrito AND burger, I thought I should just wait for dinner.

 

When I first booked this cruise, I was automatically given Anytime dining, as that was the only option left. I enjoy socialising over dinner and like the tailored service and routine of set dining, which is one thing I miss when I cruise with NCL, so I emailed Carnival asking if I could please be assigned to a large table at the 8.15pm sitting. They replied saying that they had contacted the Maitre D', who would be happy to accommodate me. I went to the dining room looking forward to meeting my tablemates for the week. However I arrived to find a table for eight with two very elderly gentlemen in their 80’s, each travelling solo, sat a seat apart. No-one else turned up so there was just the three of us at this big empty table. Both men were very nice and in particular the one I sat next to was lovely, but they couldn’t really hear me and conversation had to be forced. It was like being at a family meal with my grandparents rather than the fun, leisurely dinner I had hoped for. I was very disappointed so at the end of the meal I asked the hostess who else was allocated to our table, in case they had just chosen to skip the first night. She told me that there was just one other man, then offered to switch me to another table. I felt really mean towards the two gentlemen, but I accepted, as this aspect plays a big part in the enjoyment of my cruise. I explained that I wasn’t bothered about sitting with other solo cruisers, I just wanted people closer to my own age range.

 

The food was somewhat overshadowed by all this, but even so I found it to be good, but not great. I had gazpacho, cured salmon and apple, then pot-roast beef. Desert was one of my favourites; crème brulee, but sadly mine was a little overdone so beginning to curdle around the edges. When I left dinner I went to try to get into the comedy club for the first adult show, as our meal was over so fast it was not yet even 9.15pm. But the lounge was full, and I didn’t want to stand, so I left and wandered about the ship for a while. Not much was happening so I headed to the Red Frog Pub, where I sat by myself and listened to the live music for a while, which was very good. All in all, the first evening wasn’t really going to plan and I thought I might just have another early night. My luck changed when at that point E walked in and joined me. From there our night picked up, as we got on really well and had fun, laughing together.

 

As we left the pub to see what else was going on around the ship, a Fashionista nightmare happened! Something felt like it was stuck to the bottom of my shoe so I looked down and saw that the sole had come loose. E suggested trying to find some superglue for a quick repair, but as we walked I thought it must have clicked back into place because I couldn’t feel it moving anymore. Well it turns out there was a reason for that – it came off! So somewhere around the ship, the sole of my shoe was lying on the floor, oh dear Luckily the shoes were fairly good quality so the underneath was still sturdy enough for me to carry on with my night.

 

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We went to the Liquid Lounge, which turns from the show lounge into the club at night. It started out pretty quiet because it was still early, but things soon picked up as a younger crowd filtered in and the music became more modern. I was surprised how many people were actually there on the first night. We had several drinks, then encouraged by the DJ, got up and spent the rest of the night dancing away and taking silly pictures. B also joined us at some point, and we briefly met a few other people too. We didn’t know it yet but these people were to become our cruise family for the following week. When the club shut at 1am I went to bed happy that although it had been a mixed evening, it had ended well.

 

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Day 5 – At Sea

I woke up this morning and planned to go to Java Café in Ocean Plaza to get a decent cup of coffee. I’m a complete coffee snob and usually find the free stuff on ships to be horrible. The problem was that I got lost! However hard I tried I just couldn’t find Ocean Plaza, even though I’d been there last night. The layout of the Sunshine is so odd because of it being all chopped and changed in the re-fit. On several of the lower decks the halls just end. It took me a while to work it all out, and there were lots of puzzled looking people wandering about looking at the ship plans next to each elevator. Anyway, eventually I gave up and went to the Havana Bar instead. I had a coffee from one of the machines back there, along with some orange juice. Both were actually better than I had expected.

 

Once I’d had my coffee fix and come round a bit I went to the restaurant for Sea day Brunch. I was seated at a large table with three couples, who were all really nice. We all got chatting and enjoyed a leisurely breakfast together. I had the fruit plate followed by the huevos rancheros, and both were very good. The basket of cakes and pastries on the table were also delicious.

 

All full up, I wanted to read in the sun so I headed up to Serenity. I went straight to the very top deck at the front of the ship, because it was much quiter back there, in terms of both people and sound. The deck with the Serenity pool always filled up first, plus you could hear the loud music from the main pool deck. I was lucky to find a lounger right at the very front of the ship, with a perfect view out to sea. People were coming and going quite a lot, so even though Serenity was full, it would have been fairly easy to get a spot if you kept checking. I spent a few happy hours there before tidying myself up in order to attend the Art Auction. I don’t know much about art at all, but I love to see the different pieces of work. The free Champagne was nice too! The auction lasted a lot longer than usual, so I snuck out just before the end because I wanted to go to Tea Time. What a let down! Lots of Americans seem to think that us Brits have a full afternoon tea on a regular basis. We don’t! At that time most people would be working or doing the school run, so afternoon tea is a bit of a treat, or for a special occasion. Well what a let down! First of all, I wanted to read my Kindle, so I asked to sit alone. A girl at a table by herself glared at me the whole time, then very loudly started bitching about how I had refused to sit with her to the ladies who she ended up joining! The sandwiches served were ok but nothing special and the waiters kept missing me when they walked round with the cakes. When I finally got some, they weren't very nice, so I just left and went to the Deli for a tuna sandwich instead. That was much better and freshly made on request.

 

I took a nap on the shaded Serenity deck before getting ready for the first elegant night. Now this is what my fellow Fashionistas have been waiting for, the dresses and 'outfit of the day' photos I wore a strapless, silver brocade cocktail dress with black sparkly peep toe heels.

 

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I went to the Atrium bar for some fizz and people watching before dinner. There were a lot of people dressed up and I loved to see how many people had made an effort.

 

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Before dinner I watched the Latin show in the theatre, and it was easy to find a seat, even though I arrived just before it began. I really enjoyed it, as I love Latin music and I thought the singers and dancers were pretty good. When I returned to my cabin earlier, I had a card from the Maitre D’, saying he had changed my dinner table to the mid ship dining room instead. I went, silently praying that my experience would be better than last night. I was in luck, I was seated with a delightfully fun older couple, three brothers/cousins in their twenties, and also a couple and their friend in their thirties. We were an eclectic bunch but all got on well, and this made for some fun dinners for the rest of the week. I was so relieved. I ate stuffed mushrooms, followed by spaghetti carbonara. Again both were fine, but not amazing. I didn’t want desert so I asked if I could take a cheese plate for my cabin later on.

 

After dinner I bumped into B and we went to listen to the Latin band at the Havana bar. They were good, but there weren’t many people there so after a while we wandered around the ship trying to find some of the people we had met. We ended up in the Liquid Lounge club again where I found E, and also the three friends I briefly met the night before, M, L and J. We had a fantastic time dancing together and our group for the week was formed.

 

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Aww, I love this photo and miss these guys so much as I write this. I was incredibly lucky to meet such great people who I really clicked with and felt like I had known for ages, they made my trip for me.

 

The club again shut fairly early so we ended up sitting outside on the loungers on deck three, talking all night. I made it back to my cabin very late indeed, where I quickly scoffed my cheese before bed!

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Day 6 – At Sea

 

After my late night I was really tired when I got up and I had a pretty low key day. I didn’t fancy being sociable and joining people in the restaurant for Brunch again, so I went to Havana Bar to try the omelette station. I much prefer this kind of fresh option to the pre-cooked food of the buffet. There was short line but it went down quickly and my omelette was hot and tasty. I got a coffee from the same machine as yesterday, but this morning it was disgusting!

 

After breakfast I found the exact same lounger in Serenity as I had the day before so I settled down to read the morning away. At some point the lady next to me left and a young girl lay down. Not long after a Carnival employee came over and asked ‘How old are you girls?’ She said she was 18, and I told him my age, which is 29. He explained that Serenity is only for guests 21 years and over, and the girl left. He then looked at me and repeated himself, so again I said that I am 29 years old. He laughed and said I had to leave. I told him I wasn’t joking, that’s really how old I am, so he asked for my card then took it away to check. After a few minutes he returned, full of apologies. I was just happy that I looked so youthful to him!

 

By now I was getting hungry so I went down for another Guy’s burger, which was just as good as the first. Then I sampled the frozen yoghurt, which was ok. I’m not a huge fan of ice cream etc but I do think it was good how the self serve machine was open 24 hours and free. Kids must be in heaven! After my quick break I went back to Serenity where I found my friend J sunbathing. I took the lounger next to her, then over the rest of the afternoon three more of our friends arrived and still managed to get loungers with us. There were signs everywhere saying not to reserve loungers so I guess the staff must have been enforcing this rule.

 

Because I was hungry yet again I went to the Deli and tried the hot turkey roll. It was so good, I really enjoyed it. I took a cup of tea back to my cabin and had a quick nap. Today I planned to have a quieter, earlier night, so I dressed more casually in pale blue skinny jeans, a high necked cream lace top, and cream wedges.

 

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I decided to open the bottle of wine I had carried on with me, but remember how I told you I bought a corked bottle and no corkscrew? This resulted in me taking my bottle to the nearby Atrium bar, where I had to wait for ages before being told there was a $10 corkage fee for them to open it, even if I took it back to my cabin to drink it. On the way back I saw my room steward who said I should call room service. I did and they brought me a little corkscrew, identical to a Royal Caribbean one I have at home, pretty quickly. Still, what a fuss, why didn’t I just bring one with me or buy a screw top? Be warned... I took my well awaited wine to Ocean Plaza, which had now magically reappeared on the ship! I tried today’s offering from the Taste bar, which was a little chicken pancake, and it was very tasty. (I just realised how much I ate today and it's about to get even worse!) I listened to the live band Swamp Thang, who were very good and I wish I had chance to see more.

 

Dinner tonight was excellent. I had the shrimp cocktail, prosciutto with melon, then a melt-in-the-mouth delicious braised short rib with green beans and rice. I’m getting hungry just thinking about that beef! Then for desert I finally got to try the famous warm melting chocolate cake, with of course the recommended 2 ice creams OH YEAHHHHHHHH BABY! Chocolate heaven, and this coming from someone who is a savory person. For this reason (plus because I’m a greedy pig) I also ordered a cheese plate to go again. Can you tell I like my food?!

 

After dropping my cheese off at my cabin and getting a top up of wine, I found my friends in the Atrium, where there was a Mardi Gras party. They had saved me a mask, which I loved. Jaime the cruise director was dancing away on the bar and she was so energetic, really getting into it. This was true every time I saw her, we all agreed that she must be on drugs to keep that up all the time, haha!

 

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We then made our way to the Limelight Lounge for the 11.15pm comedy show with Ceejay Jones. We went to get in line thirty minutes early but after ten minutes they opened the doors and our group of seven was easily able to get a good seat together. Then the remaining time flew by as the bartenders got everyone drinks just in time for the show to start. Ceejay was funny, but be warned his show revolved pretty much entirely around sex! I was still really tired so once he finished I left my friends to it and went to bed. Lots of people must have done the same because the next day my friends told me that the ship was really quiet and there was barely anyone in the club, so I didn’t miss out.

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Day 7 – Curacao

 

I managed to catch up on some sleep and got up a bit later today. Most places had stopped serving breakfast so I went to the buffet, which was only ok but did the job. Though I did find some gorgeous banana bread, which I ate most days after that. Whilst I was eating, B found me and we went out onto the Lido deck ready for a party that was happening, as today was a big day… Sunshine’s 1st Birthday! Jaime led the usual line dances that I have never seen anywhere other than on cruise ships and they had a big cake in the shape of a Carnival whale tail. We were also all given hats to wear lol!

 

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Once this was over I watched the approach into our first port of call, Curacao. We docked almost exactly on time at 2pm (3pm island time) I had already pre-booked a trip with Irie Tours online, after seeing them highly recommended here on CC and also on Trip Advisor. For $25 you were taken on a tour of the island, which visited various different areas, the liquor factory with free tastings, then a beach. There was also unlimited beer, soda and water included. Our bus was almost exclusively CC members, and we had a fun day.

 

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The tour lasted about three and a half hours and after having a look around the souvenir stalls set up at the pier I got back onboard at about 6.30pm. We had the evening in Curacao but I didn’t really want to stay ashore by myself at night and I was really hungry.

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Lara,

I noticed on your other thread that your pics stopped showing,

What happened is that you ran out of bandwidth (used by people viewing the threads).

 

I'd recommend you use Imgur http://**********/ instead to host your pics as they do not have a bandwidth limit.

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On the initial entertainment schedule given at the start of the cruise, tonight was listed as being the Red Frog Caribbean party on deck, with a rival Blue Iguana Mexican fiesta later in the cruise. I had brought a blue top with me to wear for the fiesta, as I had already read about it. But the two parties were swapped around, with the Mexican Fiesta now happening tonight. I wanted to get back into a dress tonight so I scrapped the blue theme and wore my planned outfit of a lemon coloured lace shift dress with my colourful sandals and co-ordinating sandals.

 

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I went straight to dinner where I had tom ka gai soup then shark and languestino fireballs, that were both great. However for my main meal I ordered Newburg style seafood and as soon as I took one bite I realised it really wasn’t to my taste. There was nothing wrong with it, I just don’t like heavy, rich sauces like that. I apologised to my waiter and asked if I could just have the plain grilled salmon instead, which he brought me very quickly, insisting it was no problem.

 

I went up to the deck party where I saw the rest of my group, but there wasn’t really a great party atmosphere, and not much dancing other than the same line dances again. The lads got into the spirit with a tequila though!

 

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The club at Liquid Lounge was closed tonight because of the party so the DJ played at Havana Bar instead. We joined up with various people who usually went to the club and ended up with a fairly decent gang of us up there, where we hung out, danced and took some pictures. It’s quite a good all round venue, like a lounge rather than a club. We joined some of the others who told us that after the club closed they had been going up to sofas on middle Serenity deck and chilling out there. It was a lovely spot to relax at night, and we had fun getting to know each other a bit better, leading to another very late night.

 

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Some of you will be feeling a huge sense of de ja vu right now! Yes this is copy of my first thread, I somehow messed up in a panic after all my photos stopped showing, and this meant that the pictures on the first few pages of that initial thread were deleted. I didn't want all my hard word to have gone to waste, so I started this thread instead and will carry on here. Thanks for bearing with me everyone, I'm such a techie idiot!

Edited by lara_lox

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Following this thread now , glad you've got the photo problems sorted so quickly .

 

 

Sent from my iPad using Forums

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Hey Lara, so glad you are back with your awesome review! Glad you had a great time and as always, you look wonderful.

 

Looking forward to more....:)

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Glad the problem is all fixed Lara. Loving all the pics !! You looked amazing on elegant night btw I was dying to see that photo :D

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Welcome back Lara , another poster Wrigley , had the same thing happen to her review , which was heavily viewed by us all !

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Glad you're back! Your reviews are so fun and entertaining. I love the multi-colored sandals as well as the silver brocade cocktail dress!! You're a doll! Looking forward to reading the rest. :)

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Uh oh! Can't see your pics now 😟 Well I can see some but none after page 1. I really want to read but I want the pics too. Hope you get it figured out soon.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Forums mobile app

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Day 8 - Aruba

 

I was soooooo tired this morning but determined to get up and sorted so I could make the most of our stop in Aruba. I hadn’t booked any excursions or made specific plans for today as I knew what I wanted – beach time! I’d done some research and thought that I might go to the Reflexions Beach Club on Surfside beach, as it is the closest one to the port, and I don’t like to travel far ashore by myself. However, despite not thinking I would be ready in time to meet my friends, everything came together when I bumped into the group just off the ship.

 

We bought bus cards for $4 return from a little kiosk in the town centre, and it seemed that all the buses ran up and down the coast, so we didn’t have to wait for any particular one. There were different coloured routes clearly shown on boards at the stops though. We decided to go to Palm Beach, which is a bit further away. Some other people I had spoken to as I got off the ship had been to one of the closer beaches, Eagle Beach, but the vendors wouldn’t let cruise ship passengers use the facilities, instead keeping them for hotel guests.

 

When we arrived at Palm Beach, after about 15 minutes (the bus driver told us when to get off) we had no such problem, with locals immediately approaching us asking if we wanted loungers etc. We rented two loungers and one umbrella between us, for $25. At the point we got onto the beach there was a pier with a few shops and a bar, plus water sports stalls, but we settled ourselves slightly further up the beach where it wasn’t so busy. Wow! We were all stood there with massive grins on our face, unable to believe that this was real life right now. The beach was absolutely beautiful, and the photos don’t even begin to do it justice.

 

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I had the perfect day. I was in an incredible setting, with great people; life couldn’t have got any better. Oh wait, local beers and jello shots helped haha! We spent a few idyllic hours playing in the sea and sunbathing, and the time just flew by, we all agreed we didn’t want to leave, but we knew we had to get back to the ship. We easily caught the bus back to the port, where I left my friends so I could go for a nap. They quickly stopped by a bar called Mojitos for an appetiser and to use the free wi-fi. This was in a big shopping area next to the port, where there were lots of different kinds of bars, restaurants and stores, but I didn’t check any of them out because I can do those things at home, where there aren’t any stunning beaches to enjoy. I just wish our stop at Aruba had been longer. I guess I will just have to go back!

 

Back on the ship I went to the Blue Iguana Cantina where I tried fish and pork tacos. They were very good and the salsas at the topping bar were delicious. By now I really was shattered so I went to my cabin for that nap, to set me up for the night. I wore a turquoise dress with flat sandals tonight. I left my hair to dry naturally but at some point in the evening we went out on deck to look at the stars and I returned inside with a huge afro, so I had to restrain it in a bun so I didn’t look quite so wild!

 

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I fancied a change tonight so suggested that our group go to one of the speciality restaurants. I filled a very large glass with the rest of my bottle of wine from my cabin to take with me. We decided on Cucina del Capitano, and they had no problem reserving our table for five last minute. It was amazing! We were brought complimentary deconstructed bruschetta, which was grilled bread with side portions of roasted garlic, baby tomatoes and ricotta. We had to try not to fill up on this, knowing what was to come. To start I had anti pasti, and also aubergine parmigana. The parmigana was fantastic, I could have easily eaten it as my main course. Knowing this would be a filling dish, I ordered the shrimp main, which was also excellent, the shrimps were so flavoursome and juicy. I had these with a side of broccoli and also B’s left over rocket salad from his starter! The others had the risotto balls, meatballs, caprese salad, ceaser salad, and short ribs, so between us we tried most of the menu. For desert we all shared the apple tart, lemon sorbet and tiramisu, even though we were stuffed. M and I in particular both love our food and we both spend the whole meal groaning with delight at every mouthful! Everyone agreed on how good the food was, and that it was well worth the $12 cover charge.

 

Tonight there wasn’t a comedian on, but a comedy magic show, in the Limelight Lounge. It was ok, but I prefer one or the other, I find the combination a bit odd because you don’t really get the best of either comedy or magic. As we were finishing our drinks and the lounge was emptying, the magician invited us to come to the front for a little after show. He wanted some feedback because this was his first show, and he did some more tricks close up for us. He was very good, I would have liked to see him do a full magic show without the comedy aspect.

 

After this we made our way to the club and joined all the other night owls for some dancing and photos. Because I had enjoyed my wine so much earlier, I carried on drinking this. Big mistake! I love red wine but only drink it if I’m just having a couple of glasses, because I know it will make me rough otherwise. When the club closed everyone headed to the EA sports bar, where although the bar was shut, there was a socket for the speakers someone brought, and the casino bar nearby. It was really nice to have everyone together from all the different groups, and we stayed there a while drinking and chatting. My camera was taken hostage and shows the progression of a somewhat blurry night!

 

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As was now becoming customary, we ended the night out on Serenity before another unwisely late night….

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Day 9 – At Sea

 

…Bleurghhhhhhhhhhhh! I felt awful this morning, I could barely open my eyes. Damn red wine! This was the first and only day I really felt rough. I couldn’t even begin to face the dining room so I hid in a corner of the Havana Bar with an omelette instead. Then all I wanted to do was quietly lie out in the sun with my Kindle. But today was the one time I couldn’t get a lounger in Serenity. There were plenty free around the main pool though, so I set up camp there. I couldn’t relax though beucae the music was ridiculously loud! It was so bad that after about thirty minutes I’d had enough and was getting annoyed, so I left. I walked to the back of the ship where the water park is, and again found lots of free loungers there, and blissfully, no music. So I tried again and laid out there, watching people shooting out of the waterslides, which was funny. However, this still wasn’t a good spot because there was no breeze at all and within minutes I was boiling hot and laying in a pool of my own sweat, urgh! I wasn’t doing very well today so far! So I got up once again and wandered back over to Serenity. Third time lucky! I found myself a nice quiet, comfortable lounger on the top deck to settle down on.

 

M and J found me there and kept me company for a while but then it started to rain. We toughed it out for a while but when it showed no sign of stopping we admitted defeat and went inside. I changed out of my bikini and went with M to get myself one of the delicious turkey rolls from the deli. I took this back to the Havana Bar and she also persuaded me to try a Bloody Mary! I felt much better after these and was finally starting to come round a bit. We went to sit on the sofas in the sheltered part of Serenity, so even though it was still raining a bit, we were able to enjoy a magnificent view of the ocean and get some sea air. After a while J and L found us, and we spent the rest of day relaxing there, having a lovely chilled out afternoon.

 

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Tonight was the second elegant night and already my outfit was messed up because I had planned to wear the silver shoes that had broken on the first night. I was able to improvise though, and so I wore a hot pink satin dress with my black peep toe heels.

 

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I returned to my set dinner table tonight where I had the seafood platter, broccoli soup, chateaubriand, then another WMCC. Everything was very good and I enjoyed my meal. Egged on by my table mates I got up and danced with the waiters during tonight’s entertainment, despite joking that I would pop out of my dress because I had eaten so much. Luckily I didn’t. Yet…

 

I had arranged to meet my friends outside the comedy club for tonight’s show, but I was a bit early so I stopped by the Piano Bar which is on the way. I quite liked it in here and there were obviously people who went every night because they had a good rapport going with the girl playing. I stayed and listened for a short while, leaving when I saw my friends pass by. As before, we queued up for the comedy show about thirty minutes before it began, but only had to wait a few minutes before going in and finding good seats. Tonight was Russ Nagel, and I found him really funny and enjoyed his show. Unfortunately the room was really hot tonight and I was actually quite uncomfortable. We stopped by the Atrium for a quick drink and for everyone to regroup, then headed to the club where we stayed until it’s latest closing time yet of 2am. Oh and just to add to my list of fashion disasters this cruise, I actually did pop out of my dress! One of the straps couldn’t take the strain and just snapped. Luckily the straps are actually detachable so I just removed them both and wore the dress strapless.

 

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Love these reviews - it is all about the little details, rather than just a general impression here or there. We love reading the details; even the logistics of things, thanks!

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I'm glad to read this (again) and see your pictures for the first time. I always like to see what you are wearing and I agree, your boarding dress is adorable. And, now that your pics are up, I see that what you call a vest, I call a tank top. I was picturing you in a vest with buttons down the front. :o

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Where are the pictures? they're not showing up for me :-(

 

Oh no! I have no idea why, I can see them. Is anyone else having this problem?

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I love your reviews! And your shoes! I'm getting so excited for my first solo trip in September - Breakaway to Bermuda!

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Day 8 - Aruba

 

When we arrived at Palm Beach, after about 15 minutes (the bus driver told us when to get off) we had no such problem, with locals immediately approaching us asking if we wanted loungers etc. We rented two loungers and one umbrella between us, for $25. At the point we got onto the beach there was a pier with a few shops and a bar, plus water sports stalls, but we settled ourselves slightly further up the beach where it wasn’t so busy. Wow! We were all stood there with massive grins on our face, unable to believe that this was real life right now. The beach was absolutely beautiful, and the photos don’t even begin to do it justice.

 

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I had the perfect day. I was in an incredible setting, with great people; life couldn’t have got any better. Oh wait, local beers and jello shots helped haha! We spent a few idyllic hours playing in the sea and sunbathing, and the time just flew by, we all agreed we didn’t want to leave, but we knew we had to get back to the ship. We easily caught the bus back to the port, where I left my friends so I could go for a nap. They quickly stopped by a bar called Mojitos for an appetiser and to use the free wi-fi. This was in a big shopping area next to the port, where there were lots of different kinds of bars, restaurants and stores, but I didn’t check any of them out because I can do those things at home, where there aren’t any stunning beaches to enjoy. I just wish our stop at Aruba had been longer. I guess I will just have to go back!

 

Sounds like the Caribbean won you over and this won't be your last trip Stateside! If you haven't been Grand Cayman is great, if you ever decide to sail RCCL Labadee is good also!

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Oh no! I have no idea why, I can see them. Is anyone else having this problem?

 

I figured it out. I was trying to take a peek at work, and the pics were blocked. checked my phone and the pics showed up, I Didn't mean to alarm you :-)

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Sounds like the Caribbean won you over and this won't be your last trip Stateside! If you haven't been Grand Cayman is great, if you ever decide to sail RCCL Labadee is good also!

 

I LOVE the states and the Caribbean! I just wish I didn't live so far away, darn airfare...

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Day 10 – Grand Turk

 

I was awoken this morning by nearly vibrating out of my bed! It must have been something do with the way we were docking but there was a really loud grinding noise and juddering motion. It was very strange but a good wake up call, at least I wasn’t going to miss Grand Turk! This was the only time I remember this happening, but it would be worth bearing in mind if you are thinking about booking a forward cabin on a low deck.

 

I went to the buffet for breakfast with my friends, and today I shunned the hot items I wasn’t so keen on and made myself a continental style bagel, which was so much nicer. Plus of course some of that delicious banana bread, which I have just given myself a craving for by writing about it!

 

We went ashore and at my suggestion, immediately headed through Margaritaville, past the crowded beach of the cruise centre and down to Jack’s Shack. (As you walk off the ship and through duty free, turn left and walk down the beach for 10 minutes then you will see the sign.) The loungers are free to use, but there is a $10 charge for umbrellas. There was also free wi-fi but you did have to go right next to the bar to pick up the signal. I was happy to see the infamous dog of Jack’s, Topher, digging away in the sand. He even went for a swim with my friends! The rest of the day passed far too quickly once again as we just relaxed and enjoyed the beach. I had a quick peek around Margaritaville, which looked really fun, and had much more of a party atmosphere, but there just wasn't time to do everything. Just as well I already decided I'm going back, huh?!

 

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My mum had very kindly given me some holiday/Easter money just before I left, and I wanted to spend it on something that would be a treat, rather than have it disappear towards my bar bill, and so I had decided to have a massage. Today there was a special on in the spa, so before I left the ship I had booked a full body Swedish massage for $99. I rushed back for a quick shower and Guy’s burger before my appointment. I had Natalia from Poland, who was an excellent masseuse, very friendly, and she appeared to tailor the massage according to the tension she found in my body. I hate it when the masseuse just sticks to their set routine, regardless of what your needs are. She managed the perfect combination of digging in hard and releasing my knots but also relaxing me. I had to fight not to fall asleep. As always she mentioned some products at the end, but when I told her I already had most of them she just left it and didn’t ruin the session with a hard sell. I relaxed in the sauna for a while then used the spacious showers in the spa before heading back to my cabin.

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I was all chilled out after my relaxing day, and now that the Blue Iguana Mexican fiesta had already been held, and my ‘blue’ outfit I had planned was obsolete, I decided I didn’t fancy dressing up (yes really!) so I re-wore my Cocoa beach outfit of my flowered vest, blue skinny jeans and wedges. I love these wedges, which I only just bought, but tonight their cuteness was somewhat overshadowed by my puffed-up red feet spilling out of them :eek: I had somehow burnt my feet and they had swollen right up and looked like ham hocks! They got worse and worse throughout the night, which was funny when L advised me not to dip them in the hot tub or they would be boiled hams (!!!) but also very uncomfortable. Be warned, put extra sun cream on those tootsies.

 

I had received an invitation to a VIP art event tonight, so although I had wanted to see the theatre show, which was Swamp Thang Rocks On, I decided to stop by the gallery. There was no-one there! However the gallery staff were lovely and after I browsed some of the art work with a glass of champagne, I thanked them and said goodbye, but they encouraged me to stay and have a few more drinks! I chatted to them and some other people who eventually showed up and enjoyed my champers. After that I thought I’d better make my way for some food to soak up those bubbles.

 

I had an excellent meal in the dining room tonight, of langoustine cocktail, beef carpaccio, lamb chops, amaretto cake, and cheese. It was all absolutely delicious. How I didn’t come home as fat as a pig I don’t know!

 

Again I had arranged to meet my friends for tonight’s 10.15pm comedy show, which was with Jason Blanchard. All I have to say is HAAAAAAHAAAAAAAHA! He was hilarious, M and I were laughing so hard we could barely breathe and had tears running down our faces. Unusually the 11.15pm show wasn’t a repeat, but new material, so we practically sprinted out the room at the end of the show to queue back up for his next one. There is a one-way kind of system in and out the lounge, so that everyone gets a chance to watch the shows, instead of the same people just staying put through them all. The second show was just as good, and I really enjoyed our night of comedy.

 

Afterwards we headed to the club, but it was already pretty late so it shut before long. We still had time for a few pics and some dancing though. The late night Serenity gang grew tonight and there was a huge group of us up there. Security even came to see what was going on, but they didn’t say anything, I think they were just checking that we were all adults and weren’t up to no good. Everyone was having fun hanging out, but by now my ham hocks were out of control, and looked like they were about to explode so I thought I would save everyone this sight and go back to my cabin!

 

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