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Carnival Miracle Western Caribbean June 17-24, 2018 In Depth Review by jlebnet

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Our group of 6 included my husband (Robby) and myself (Julie), our three daughters (Jessie 17, Cortnee 15 and Molly 11), and my mom (Mammaw). This was Mammaw’s first cruise, the girls’ third cruise, and mine and Robby’s fifth cruise. We booked 2 interior cabins, 7287 and 7293, and an extended balcony, 7295. We chose Your Time Dining, and the 11:30-12:00 check-in time. We sailed out of Tampa, and visited Cozumel, Belize, Roatán, and Grand Cayman. This is going to be a really long and detailed review. I am starting from the time we left home, but I won’t go into as much detail about the places we visited and things we did before the actual cruise, although you can find those reviews on TripAdvisor (jlebnet) or just ask me here if you have any questions. To prepare for our cruise, I did a lot of research and organized everything in a 2” ring binder with pocket tab dividers. I separated the cash we would need each day into labeled envelopes, and inside each envelope money for each activity was paper clipped together and labeled with a sticky note.

 

We live in central Alabama, and left home around 6:15am on Friday, June 15th. The drive to Clearwater, FL took us about 10 hours, with stops at Chick-fil-A, Krispy Kreme, Five Guys, and a gas station along the way. We checked in to the Magnuson Hotel in Clearwater Central, where we stayed for 2 nights. Once we got settled, we drove to Clearwater Beach where we played on the beach and watched the sun set, and then ate dinner at Frenchy’s Rockaway Grill.

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Sunset at Clearwater Beach

 

The next morning we ate breakfast at the Magnuson Hotel before going to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, home of Winter and Hope from the Dolphin Tale movies. It was really fun!

 

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Clearwater Marine Aquarium

 

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Winter and Hope

 

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The Boathouse

 

Then we had lunch at Pearly’s Beach Eats – so good, and so much food!

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Pearly's Beach Eats

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Gnarly Nachos $12.95 and enough food for at least 2 or 3 adults

 

We played at Clearwater Beach until we got hungry, and then we ate dinner at LuLu’s Oyster Bar and Taphouse in Indian Rocks Beach. It was really good too. We had to make an emergency pit stop at the Waffle House for one of the girls, and then we finally made it back to the hotel for one more night’s rest before our cruise! Well, most of us rested. I washed and dried all of our towels that we had used on the beach so they wouldn’t rot and stink up the car while we were on the cruise. Then I rested too.

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Sunday, June 17, 2018 – Embarkation Day

 

We were all eager to get on the ship, so everyone got up, ate breakfast, repacked their suitcases and the car, and we were on our way with a few minutes to spare. Robby stopped at WalMart to buy a bottle of creamer for his coffee on the ship. I told him (probably close to 20 times) that they wouldn’t let him carry it on because it was in a bottle and not a can or carton. But he insisted that he was going to try it anyway. Whatever. I was secretly looking forward to being right and watching them throw away his brand new bottle of creamer.

 

I had reserved parking for the week with The Parking Doctors. It was $71.41 after tax and fees. We found their lot easily and were directed to a parking spot. It was a small lot compared to some we have used at other ports, but who cares? They said they usually have several vans that operate as shuttles from their lot to the Port, which is only a short distance away. But for some reason that day, only one van showed up. There were several large (and loud) groups that showed up after we did, and they pushed their way to the van in front of us. We didn’t really want to ride with them anyway, so we just let them go. It was a really hot day, and there were only a couple of chairs and a small tent for a bit of shade. After about 4 van trips and 45 minutes, it was finally our “turn”. Another family got in with us and we were really crowded, sweaty and stinky, but there was air conditioning and it was wonderful! We found out that the van drivers don’t even get paid by The Parking Doctors. They just work for tips from their passengers. Our driver got us to the port and unloaded our luggage quickly. As always, it was a little hectic trying to tip the shuttle driver, and tip the porters, while they are all working so quickly to get our luggage off the van and headed towards the ship.

We then made our way through the crowds of people who were just standing around for no apparent reason, and went up the escalator to enter the port. There was a bit of a line outside, but there was a big fan blowing and the line went quickly. There were several workers checking boarding passes and passports and once ours had been checked, they directed us inside. There was a longer line there, but it was air conditioned, and it went quickly also. We placed our carry-on bags on the conveyor belt where they were carried through a scanner. We walked through another scanner, collected our bags, and were directed to the next line. Let me pause right here a minute. My husband had his bottle of creamer in his backpack. I had a bottle of wine and several Ziploc bags of candy (M&Ms, Sour Patch Kids, Swedish Fish, etc.) in mine. My mom and the girls all had a few canned soft drinks in their backpacks. They didn’t even look at any of it. Not the bottle of creamer, not the open candy that I had forgotten to throw away, not even the soft drinks to see if they were cans of beer! I was really surprised. Maybe we just got lucky. Maybe the Port of Tampa just doesn’t enforce the rules. I don’t know. I’m just telling you what we experienced.

The next line was not very long at all. We had to present our boarding passes and passports. They told us that they quit requiring the health questionnaire a couple of weeks before our cruise. They took our pictures and printed out our sign and sail cards that already had holes punched in them, so we attached them to our lanyards right away. I collected everyone’s passports, and we went up the escalator, down the hall, and through the tunnel. Just before we set foot on the ship, someone scanned our sign and sail cards. On all of our previous cruises, they swiped them, and we always had to take off our lanyards and hand them over. With the scanner, we were able to leave them on and just hold out our cards to be scanned. Much easier!

We boarded on Deck 3 Mid, on the right (Starboard) side of the ship. The elevators there were crowded, so we walked to the aft elevators and went right up to Deck 9 (Lido). We were later than we wanted to be because of the delay at The Parking Doctors, so we had a little trouble finding a place to sit in the buffet area, but we finally found a booth. We put all of our carry-on bags under the table and while everyone else got something to eat and drink, I went to guest services on Deck 2 to get extra room keys. We booked an adult in each room, knowing that we would rearrange once we got on the ship. (That reminds me – we used luggage tags for the rooms that the suitcases would end up in, and wrote the names of the owners. No problem!) So I asked guest services for the 5 extra key cards, and at first they told me that since other adults were booked in the rooms, those adult would have to request the extra key cards. I explained that I booked and paid for all of the rooms, and they just said okay, and gave me the extra cards. Robby is the only one who actually stayed in the room he was booked for, so he didn’t need an extra card. The rest of us had our sign and sail cards (that still opened the room we were booked in) as well as a key card that opened the room we were staying in.

I went back up to Deck 9 and got a cup of water before I went to the booth where everyone else was. I ate their leftovers, so I didn’t even have to wait in line for the buffet or pizza. By the time I had eaten and rested a few minutes, the girls told me that our cabins were ready, so we gathered our things and headed down to Deck 7 to get settled in.

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Robby and I had interior cabin 7287, Jessie and Cortnee were right next door in 7293, and Molly and Mammaw were in the extended balcony cabin 7295 across the hall. Our interior cabin was just what we expected it to be. The beds were pushed together to make a King size bed, and there was just enough room to walk around the bed – not much more.

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There were 3 closets, one with shelves, one with coat hangers, and one with life preservers and extra blankets. There was a large mirror on the wall, and plenty of drawers.

 

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The refrigerator was behind the cabinet door on the far left, which we left open, and it kept our water, wine, and creamer cold. We had a card swipe safe – we used an old gift card and hid it in the room. The safe in the girls’ room next door used an electronic number code, and the balcony room had a card swipe safe. The small hair dryer was in the top dresser drawer and worked very well to be so small. There was only one outlet, so we brought an extension bar without a surge protector so we could charge all of our devices and camera batteries. The light used a toggle switch (it did not require a card to stay on like on some other ships). There was a switch by the cabin door, and another one at the head of the bed. There was also a small table lamp by the bed.

The bathroom was small but very adequate. The water in the shower was HOT. I had to adjust it down quite a bit, and I like hot showers. There was a dispenser with shampoo and body wash, which I used. They were fine for me, but they didn’t lather very well.

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There was an awesome small mirror that extended from an arm on the wall. It was a regular mirror on one side and magnified on the other. (Unfortunately, I didn't get it in the picture.) There was plenty of toilet paper and tissues, and well as towels and washcloths in the bathroom.

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The bathroom light switch was on the wall outside the bathroom, which I couldn’t seem to remember.

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Our Cabin Steward was Gugum from Indonesia. I didn't get a picture of him either :(. He greeted us soon after we arrived in our cabin, introduced himself, and asked us to fill out a card indicating when we wanted him to clean our cabin, and if we needed any extra towels, pillows, etc. I chose morning service, thinking that we would be gone and out of his way most mornings. Looking back, that may have been a bad choice, because we always came back with wet beach towels after he was done with our room. We saw him in the hall a couple of times and asked for dry towels, and the rest of the time we just exchanged them by the pool. Robby asked for an extra pillow, but it turns out he didn’t need it. The pillows were awesome! So good, in fact, we are going to buy some Carnival Comfort Collection pillows for our bed at home.

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Enjoying this so far and looking forward to more! We are doing this same cruise in mid-September.

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To prepare for our cruise, I did a lot of research and organized everything in a 2” ring binder with pocket tab dividers. I separated the cash we would need each day into labeled envelopes, and inside each envelope money for each activity was paper clipped together and labeled with a sticky note.

NERD ALERT LOL!!!!!!!! I'm Kidding looking forward to your review "SUBCRIBED"

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Our group of 6 included my husband (Robby) and myself (Julie), our three daughters (Jessie 17, Cortnee 15 and Molly 11), and my mom (Mammaw). This was Mammaw’s first cruise, the girls’ third cruise, and mine and Robby’s fifth cruise. We booked 2 interior cabins, 7287 and 7293, and an extended balcony, 7295. We chose Your Time Dining, and the 11:30-12:00 check-in time. We sailed out of Tampa, and visited Cozumel, Belize, Roatán, and Grand Cayman. This is going to be a really long and detailed review. I am starting from the time we left home, but I won’t go into as much detail about the places we visited and things we did before the actual cruise, although you can find those reviews on TripAdvisor (jlebnet) or just ask me here if you have any questions. To prepare for our cruise, I did a lot of research and organized everything in a 2” ring binder with pocket tab dividers. I separated the cash we would need each day into labeled envelopes, and inside each envelope money for each activity was paper clipped together and labeled with a sticky note.

 

We live in central Alabama, and left home around 6:15am on Friday, June 15th. The drive to Clearwater, FL took us about 10 hours, with stops at Chick-fil-A, Krispy Kreme, Five Guys, and a gas station along the way. We checked in to the Magnuson Hotel in Clearwater Central, where we stayed for 2 nights. Once we got settled, we drove to Clearwater Beach where we played on the beach and watched the sun set, and then ate dinner at Frenchy’s Rockaway Grill.

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Sunset at Clearwater Beach

 

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That is SOME sky! Looking forward to your review. We sailed the Miracle way back in 2008 and we loved the ship.

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We spent a little time unpacking and relaxing, and soon it was time for the 3:00 Safety Briefing. We were assigned to Muster Station C, which was outside on the right side of Deck 3.

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In the past, we always went as soon as they called us and ended up getting crowded in the back where we could barely see, hear, or breathe. We took our time – maybe a little too much time, as we were some of the last passengers to arrive. Oops! We really didn’t mean to be that late. And we were not last. They scanned our cards and after a few minutes they gave us instructions on what to do in case of an emergency, and demonstrated how the life preservers work. A couple of minutes after they finished talking, I got out my phone to text the girls and Mammaw and ask where they were. I was quickly told that phones were not allowed during the drill. Oops again. I thought it was over, even though we hadn’t been dismissed. After a few more minutes of standing there, we were dismissed. We stood off to the side and watched for the rest of our group, and soon found them.

Molly wanted to try out the water slide, so Cortnee and Mammaw went with us to do that. Molly went down about 3 times. The slide was super slow, and she kept getting stuck and had to push her way down, even though she was in the correct position. After seeing that, Cortnee decided that she didn’t even want to try it. Once Molly was done, we went back to our cabins and had a short family meeting. I let everyone know that we each had a $25 credit on our sign and sail cards, and that they could spend it any way they wanted, but if they went over $25, they had to pay for it with their own money. Is showed them how to use the Carnival Hub app to see what was happening on the ship, the menus, and how much of their $25 credit they had spent. We saw that each person also had a $8.64 credit for “refund taxes, fees, & port expenses”. That was a nice surprise. I also explained that we had purchased the Social WiFi package for each of them, so they could use SnapChat (to keep their streaks – very important) and Messenger to communicate with us as well as their friends back home. We posted pictures on FaceBook, but apparently that’s just for old people now – the girls used Instagram. The final thing we covered was curfew. They didn’t have one as long as they were up and ready on time each morning, and in a pleasant mood. After that, everyone else headed to the Sail Away Party on Deck 9, and Robby and I went to the Red Frog Pub on Deck 3 where we were meeting friends later.

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The Red Frog Pub turned out to be a really fun place. They had a foosball table, table top shuffle board, Jenga, a hook and ring toss game, and maybe a few other games. They serve drinks, but no food. I saw a lot of people with really pretty blue drinks in pitchers. I wanted to get one, just because of how pretty it was, but I never got around to it. I think they had Happy Hour every day, usually from 3 to 5, and drinks were half price.

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There was Karaoke most afternoons, and sometimes a band played. We were greeted by Titus, from St. Lucia. He was a young guy with a fantastic personality. He brought our drinks quickly and checked on us often to be sure we had everything we needed. He spent some time talking with us when he didn’t have other passengers to take care of. Karaoke started at 5:30, and people were reluctant to sing at first. When nobody else wanted to sing, the singer from the reggae band would step up. We even heard Titus sing once (after much encouragement from the passengers). He also danced from time to time – he really knows how to please the crowd. Once a few of the passengers started singing, they all wanted to. Robby and Cortnee signed up to sing a couple of songs, and while we were waiting for their turns, we missed sailing under the Skyway Bridge. Mammaw and Molly did get to see it, and fortunately, some of our friends took pictures and videos.

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The Red Frog Pub had a book with laminated pages that listed some of the Karaoke songs they had, but they also had a lot more songs that were not in the book. There were some really good singers, and some really bad ones too, but the crowd was great. They encouraged and cheered for everyone who sang.

I kept getting notices on my Carnival Hub App that people I had met were adding me, so I paid the $5 for the chat feature. We finally left to get some dinner.

 

We decided to eat at the Lido Buffet - Horatio’s Restaurant. It had some of the same items that were on the dining room menu. The food was good – nothing to really rave about, but no complaints either.

After we ate, we checked the girls into the kids clubs. Molly was in Circle C. She has never liked going to the kids club, but I always sign her up so she will have the option if she wants to. Cortnee and Jessie were in Club O2. Cortnee never goes either, but Jessie absolutely loves “clubbing”. If we did anything else after that, I don’t remember it. I am pretty sure that Robby and I went to sleep, and the others probably stayed up for a while and went swimming or sat by the pool.

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Monday, June 18, 2018 – Fun Day at Sea

Robby loves interior cabins. Everything has to be completely dark, “quiet” and cold for him to sleep well. Interior cabins are definitely dark. His idea of “quiet” is the constant drone of a box fan and no other sounds. Since we can’t take a box fan on the ship, he has a recording of a box fan on his phone, and plays it in a continuous loop over a Bluetooth speaker all night long. The air conditioner worked very well, which meant Robby was happy, and I was freezing. The bed was very comfortable, and the pillows were awesome, as I mentioned before. We both slept well. At least until I woke up. Because interior cabins are so dark, and my phone was on charge all the way across the room, I had no idea what time it was, and I was disoriented. My immediate reaction was panic – what it we had overslept! It was a sea day, so it really didn’t matter what time we got up – that was just the first thing that came to my mind. And it jarred me wide awake. Every time I woke up. Every day. Sometimes at 3am. I really need to get a battery operated clock to keep in the bed with me so I can check the time.

We finally got up and went to the buffet for breakfast. Robby used one of the water glasses from the bathroom to bring some creamer up for his coffee. I got French toast, bacon, sausage, potatoes, and milk. The French toast and bacon were really good! I ate the sausage and potatoes, but would have rather had more French toast and bacon instead. The breakfast buffet choices were about the same every day. There was an omelet station, where they would cook you and omelet with whatever you wanted in it. Just past that, the buffet contained scrambled eggs, French toast, pancakes, bacon, potatoes, sausage, oatmeal, grits, toast and baked tomatoes. There were baked beans – really? For breakfast? I thought it was tomato gravy when I first saw it, and upon closer inspection, it looked more like pork and beans than baked beans. I didn’t try it. They also offered Eggs Benedict every day, with either ham or smoked salmon. It was ham Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday, and smoked Salmon on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. I loved the Eggs Benedict with smoked salmon! Ham – not so much. They also had hash browns on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. There was cream cheese, strawberry compote, blueberry compote, butter and syrup for toppings. Around the corner, there was a selection of pastries, muffins and bagels. There was water, juice, and coffee at the beverage station. There were small boxes of cereal (frosted flakes, cinnamon toast crunch, lucky charms, and raisin bran to name a few), cartons of milk (2%, skim and chocolate), cartons of yogurt (I remember raspberry, peach, strawberry, banana, and blueberry) cold cuts, cheese, cottage cheese and fruit (oranges, grapefruit, bananas, peaches, cantaloupe, honeydew – never any pineapple or watermelon for breakfast).

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After breakfast, I decided to get a little sun. I went to the Serenity Deck first. It is at the very back of the ship on deck 9, just outside Horatio’s buffet. I was not too impressed. There was a small pool with lots of chairs, beds, and clamshells crowded around it. I walked up to deck 10, and I liked it there much better. There was more of a breeze, and it didn’t feel so crowded.

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I found an empty clam shell, and climbed it. It had a big round plastic mattress and some plastic pillows. I put my towel over them, and was very comfortable. It felt relatively private, and I was in the sun, where I wanted to be. (If I had wanted shade, I could have gone to the other side of the ship.) The clam shell did stop a lot of the breeze, so when I got too hot, I would stand up for a couple of minutes to cool off.

For lunch, I decided to try a burger at Off the Grill by the pool. It was really good. They hand you a bun and burger with cheese, lettuce, tomato and onion (but I am sure you can ask them to leave off anything you don’t want), then you can put whatever else you want on it. There was a buffet of grilled onions, chili, cheese sauce, hot dogs, and French fries. I know there was more, but that is all I can remember right now. Past that was BBQ sauce, Mayonnaise and honey mustard. Just around the corner by the ice cream machines was mustard and ketchup. There was a beverage station with water, tea and lemonade. The water and lemonade were really good. The tea – not good at all in this southern girl’s opinion. We sat on the pool deck, at a table in the shade by a window so we could see the ocean. There were lots of loungers in the sun by the pool.

RYTHMATIC was playing and singing reggae music on the stage by the pool. The singer was the guy I mentioned earlier who did some Karaoke at the Red Frog. I don’t know if he did it for fun, or if it is part of his job to fill in when none of the passengers want to sing Karaoke. Either way, we enjoyed listening to him. I wish I had gotten his name, but I never did.

 

Throughout the day, I learned that the Carnival Hub App itself is really awesome! I can look at it any time and see everything that is going on around the ship, and I can look at the dining room menus for the rest of the week. Very informative and convenient. I also learned that the chat feature is not reliable. At all. Sometimes it worked great, sometimes it didn’t work at all. There didn’t seem to be any certain times or places that were better or worse than others. We had much better luck communicating with Messenger, which wasn’t 100%, but still pretty reliable.

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Robby wanted to iron his clothes, so I went with him to check out the laundry room. The one on our deck was located just down the hall, across from cabin 7267. There are also laundry rooms on decks 1, 4, 5, and 6. The ironing board folds down from the wall right in front of the door. This makes it difficult for other people to get in and out when someone else is ironing. There were 2 washers and 4 dryers, and a vending machine with laundry detergent and fabric softener. You just use your sign and sail card to pay for everything. After you pay, you do have to go over to the dryer and push the start button. I didn’t realize that the first time, so the dryer never started. The iron is on a timer – you turn the knob to start it. If time runs out, start it again, or the iron will cool off.

 

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We checked out the dinner buffet, and tried the fried oysters which were delicious! But we decided to eat in the Bachus main dining room that night. It was elegant night, which is really not our style, but the girls wanted lobster, so we dressed up a bit. We had Your Time Dining, and arrived at Bachus on deck 3 around 7:00. Apparently, everyone else did too. We were given a pager and told to find a seat at the bar, but there were no seats to be found. We wandered around to the atrium, and watched our Cruise Director, Frankie “The Tank” introduce the captain and crew. They all got a glass of champagne and held it until the end of the introductions, then they all put them back on the tray without taking a drink. That seemed really pointless to me. After that, they had a couple singing some popular songs. They were just okay. I think we ended up waiting close to an hour before our pager finally went off. We were shown to a table at the very back of the ship, so we had a great view. Our waiter was Reymundo, and although he was very busy, he was very good to us. He asked our names, and then somehow remembered them for the rest of the night.

 

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Most of us ordered water, Caesar Salads and Broiled Maine Lobster Tail, but Robby had Shrimp Cocktail, Cortnee had the Flat Iron Steak, and Molly had French fries and bought a coke. For dessert, we had Carnival Melting Chocolate Cake. Robby got extra ice cream, and I got peanut butter to go with mine. Unfortunately, it was more like warm chocolate soup than melting cake. The gooey peanut butter and runny chocolate were just too much – I couldn’t even finish mine. It was 9:30 by the time we were finished in the dining room, so Robby and I went back to the cabin to get ready for Cozumel the next morning. Jessie went “clubbing”, and I don’t remember what the others did.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2018 – Paradise Beach – Cozumel, Mexico

Even though I had an alarm set on my phone, I woke up early and briefly panicked about the time. I got up, checked my phone, and went back to sleep for a while. When my alarm finally went off, I went up to the Serenity Deck to look around. I could see the Carnival Fantasy, the only other ship that was scheduled to be in port that day. We had friends on that ship, and were hoping to run in to them at some point in Cozumel. Robby finally came up to Lido with me and we went to the breakfast buffet. I had French toast, bacon, eggs Benedict with smoked salmon and milk. When we finished eating, I brought the girls some cereal, milk, yogurt and fruit on the way back to our room.

We all wore our swimsuits under our clothes, and brought our phones, towels and snorkeling gear. I also had my camera, our envelope of cash for the day, and my pocket tab for Cozumel with all of my notes. Robby asked what time Paradise Beach, our destination for the day, opened. Although I thought I had all the information we needed typed up in my binder, including our time in port by ship time, and local time, I failed to include what time Paradise Beach opened. Ugh! I went to their website to double check. 9:00. And it was already a little after 8. Frankie “The Tank” came over the intercom and announced that we were cleared to disembark and could proceed to Deck A on the left side of the ship (Port).

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We docked at Puerta Maya, the southernmost cruise ship pier. We had to go walk through a shop to get off the pier, and then we had to open our bags for inspection and be sniffed by dogs before we could leave the port. Once outside, we got in a taxi van and asked to be taken to Paradise Beach. Our driver didn’t say much, and I don’t know if he even spoke English. I gave him $30 for the 6 of us, plus a $5 tip.

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When we arrived at Paradise Beach, it was a little after 9:00, and the place was completely deserted except for some workers who were cleaning the walkways and the pool. Nobody greeted us. Crap. They opened at 9:00 Cozumel time. It was 9:00 ship’s time – 8:00 Cozumel time! So we had an hour before they even opened. I wasn’t about to pay $60 to go back to the port for a while and then come back. So we just walked right past all the workers, made our way to the beach, and claimed some loungers in the shade. Fortunately, nobody told us to leave. There were men working very hard at the edge of the water to remove the seaweed. A tropical storm had come through the week before and it had rained for 6 days straight. We were lucky that the rain was gone, but it had left behind a bit of a mess.

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We walked out to the end of the pier, and Molly and I jumped in. The water was a little cooler than I expected, but still very nice. We saw a small shark and a stingray before we climbed the steps back up to the pier and walked back to the beach.

 

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After a while (but still well before time for them to open) Darie walked up, introduced himself and told us that he would take care of us for the day. He told us that admission was $3 per person, and the fun pass was $18 for anyone who wanted it. Molly and I were the only ones who got the fun pass, so I paid him $54. He gave us menus and told us to let him know any time we needed anything. All of the food and drinks went on our tab, and since I appeared to be in charge of the money, he made sure I was aware when anyone ordered anything, and when he brought our orders out.

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The fun pass included the inflatables, paddle boards, kayaks and snorkeling gear. Molly and I wanted to paddle board – we had never done that before. We asked the guy who was getting the equipment ready and he told us we could at 9:00. Ugh. I had forgotten that we weren’t even supposed to be there yet! So we sat in the chairs and the hammocks for a little while, and at 9:00, we started paddle boarding! We were required to wear life preservers, and were told to stay inside the ropes. It was still a big area, at least for beginners! We started out on our knees, and paddled out a little ways. Then we both stood up! It was easier than I expected to stand up, but it was harder on my thighs than I ever imagined. Maybe it was because I was so tense, or maybe it just takes a lot of leg strength to stay balanced. I don’t know. I had to take some breaks and get back down on my knees or sit down and rest. Robby was out snorkeling, and I asked him to take some pictures of us. I’m usually the one taking the pictures, so I am not in a lot of them, but I wanted proof of my accomplishment!

 

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He also took some pictures of a starfish that was right below where we were paddle boarding.

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Jet skis and boats kept making waves, and that made it harder for us to balance. I only fell off once. I might have been able to regain my balance, but I was afraid I was going to fall and hit my face on the board, so I bailed off. I was surprised at how easily I was able to get back on. After a while, Molly and I got tired and decided to go back to the beach. Paddling in was a LOT harder than paddling out. We kept drifting back. I secretly started to panic a little bit, but of course I couldn’t let Molly know. Her arms were tired, and she kept drifting away from me, so I tried holding on to her paddle board with one hand and paddling with the other (sitting down, of course). It didn’t work very well. But after she rested for a while, she was able to paddle again. This time we made some progress. When we got close to the shore, I jumped off and started walking with my board. BIG mistake. There were lots of big, sharp, slippery rocks, and I kept falling. The paddle board attendant told me to get back on, and he pulled me on to the beach. That was embarrassing.

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The girls ordered chips and salsa and a Nacho Volcano Supremo.

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The food was very good, and there was enough for all 6 of us to share. We went to the pool for a while. It was really big, and really clean. There were lounge chairs inside the pool on the ledge, so you could sit in the sun and in the water at the same time. The pool water seemed to be fresh water – we didn’t notice any salt or chlorine.

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I followed a path from the pool that led back to the beach.

 

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There were two beautiful birds at the bar beside the massage tent. I found Molly and Mammaw and brought them back to see the birds.

 

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I ordered 2 tacos, and Molly was ready to play on the inflatables.

 

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There were big rocks in the water most of the way from the pier on the left to the massage tent on the right. But at the very end, you could wade in through the grass. It was a little gross the day we were there, but we didn’t let that stop us. Molly had fun on the big slide, but I couldn’t get myself up there. I just waited at the bottom. I did manage to get up on the trampoline, but there was a lot of sand on it and it scraped my leg. I was also able to bounce her off of one of the inflatables into the water – but I almost fell in. We both had fun, but it would have been more fun for me if I was younger and stronger.

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Robby waved us in to the shore, saying it was time to go and my tacos were cold. They were still good! I asked Darie to bring our bill, and he went over every item with me. We had 3 big bottles of water, 2 cokes, 2 bottles of Sol (beer), a virgin daiquiri, 2 virgin pina coladas, chips and salsa, nacho volcano supremo, Mexican fries, and 2 tacos. The total was $70.48. I forgot to mention earlier that they ask each person to order a minimum of $10 food/drinks in addition to the $3 admission. In my opinion, that is VERY reasonable for use of the loungers, beach, pool and bathrooms all day. I asked Darie if he got to keep the tip, or if he had to share. He said they share, so I gave him an additional tip, and told him that it was just for him. I don’t know if he got to keep it or not, but I hope so. We gathered our things, and took another van back to the port. Another $30 plus $5 tip. At the port, we had a few minutes for the girls to shop for souvenirs. We didn’t get see our friends from the other ship, but it was still a great day. We had to walk through the gift shop again to get back to the pier. There was a guy singing for tip at the exit door, but I didn’t have any cash out and there was a crowd behind me. Sorry, senor. Maybe next time. As we boarded the ship, they scanned our cards, put our bags through a scanner, and we had to remove our hats and walk through a scanner. Frankie “The Tank” was there to welcome us back aboard.

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The girls decided they wanted Sushi at Sea for dinner. They used some of their onboard credit to buy it and they absolutely loved it. They said it was the best sushi they have ever had. Granted, sushi in suburban Alabama might not compare with what the rest of the world is used to, so take it for what it’s worth. Sushi at Sea was right between the casino and the Red Frog Pub.

We ate at the buffet for dinner again. What we were starting to realize is that the buffet selections are very limited. There are three different serving areas, but they all serve the same thing. I am not complaining about the quality of the food – it was all very good. And the selection wasn’t bad – I could always find something that I liked. There just wasn’t a lot of variety like I remember on previous cruises. I am not sure if it is because we were on a smaller ship this time, or if it something new that Carnival has started doing. But it was a little disappointing either way.

 

Mammaw wanted to see the 7:00 show Getaway Island in the Phantom Theater, so Robby and I went with her. It was fun, but pretty cheesy. Frankie “The Tank” was there and even participated in the show, that was fun. He was even in the elevator with us after the show. That guy was everywhere! As usual, Robby and I went on to bed early and everyone else stayed up and had some more fun. Mammaw said it was the best day ever.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2018 – Goff’s Caye – Belize City, Belize

 

I got up and had my usual breakfast – French toast, bacon and milk, while Robby had his coffee and whatever he decided to eat that day. The buffet area was crowded, so we found a table out by the pool. Belize is a tender port, so everyone who didn’t have an excursion booked though Carnival had to get a tender sticker from the stage by the pool. Robby got ours, and we were in group 7. I brought the girls breakfast, and they weren’t even up. I told them to get up and get ready.

Fortunately, it was a while before our ship was cleared by customs, and even longer before tender number was called. When it was finally time to go, everyone was ready with their phones, towels and snorkeling gear. Frankie “The Tank” was there smiling, waving and talking as always. They scanned our cards and we were helped onto one of the tender boats.

Once the boat was full and everyone was seated, one of the crew members welcomed us to Belize and gave some brief safety instructions before telling us a little about his country. He was very nice and friendly. During the ride, I had another one of my secret panic attacks. WHAT IF… I got my times confused again. WHAT IF we had already missed our excursion! At that point there was nothing I could do about it, other than pretend everything was great After the 15 minute ride, we were helped off the tender boat, and I tipped the crew as we left.

We had a few minutes to spare (or we had missed our excursion and had the rest of the day free…) so we put all of our things down at a corner table at the Thirsty Lizard where Robby sat and had a Belikin beer while I took the girls souvenir shopping again. We all walked up to our excursion meeting place, Terminal 4 Booth 4, at 10:50 ship’s time. We were supposed to meet at 11:00 – I was super relieved to find out that I had the time right after all. I had booked our excursion online through Island Marketing. It was $40 per person, but I only had to put down a deposit of $8 per person ($48 total). I paid the balance of $192 in cash, we all got checked in and got our blue armbands, and were told that our boat would leave at 11:45. Wait – we were supposed to leave at 11:30, and be back just in time for our last tender! More secret panic. Robby assured me that it would be okay – they would just cut our excursion short so we would be back on time. Yay, and boo at the same time.

So we waited in terminal 4 for an hour. It was almost 12:00 before they finally called us. We got on the small boat named “Wet ‘n’ Wild” and were on our way. Claudius offered us water in plastic bags, showed us what Belizean currency looks like, and talked to us about Belize during the whole trip to Goff’s Caye.

The boat ride was pretty bumpy, especially for those in the front of the boat. I was worried about Mammaw and her back, but she did fine. Thank goodness. We arrived at Goff’s Caye, and walked down the pier to the tiny island.

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It had a little hut where they sold food, drinks, and a few souvenirs, a small bathroom, and a few chairs for rent. The main part of the island is kind of rocky, but there is a long sand bar that juts out to the side. The ocean moves it around, so it is not always the same size, shape, or in the same place. The water over the sandy areas around Goff’s Cays is absolutely gorgeous, and so clear! I got a complimentary rum punch almost immediately. Nobody would say where they wanted to sit, so we all just stood around for a while. I finally decided I was going to put my stuff down by the little hut and get in the water. But before I even had time to do that, Claudius was calling for “Wet ‘n’Wild” to go snorkeling.

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