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SonoranDevil's Mardi Gras Pre-Inaugural Sailing Full Review with Pictures! -7/31/21


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13 hours ago, ShaniBell said:

 

I try to tell her that but she's having none of it!  She's earned her "old" as far as she's concerned.  One look at her and you'd argue that she is firmly middle aged though.

 

Anyway,  I logged in last night to check her in and was only able to get a 12pm check in time.  Unforuntately, when I booked her into that spot it reverted all of us to 12pm.  AARRGGHH.  My original boarding passes (which I saved) say 10:30am.  My cousins checked in and got 11:30 on theirs.  Those of us in suites have "priority" printed on our passes, mom has D02

 

Since we are all staying at the Hyatt at the airport and shuttling over together we'll just get there together, probabaly shooting for 11:00 - 11:30 and see what happens.  If they let us on early they let us on early, if they don't they don't.  I'm not going to worry about any of this because....

 

IN FOURTEEN DAYS I WILL BE ON A SHIP!!! 

 

and an hour one either side won't change that fact.

What a refreshing full of life person you are!

I hope you’re all able to get  on early (the saved screen shot should help), but if not at least you’re able to keep it all in perspective instead of most people these days who make the biggest deals about such petty stuff.

Another hour of your life waiting your turn to get on such a beautiful ship is pretty low in the pecking order of life changing problems!!

4 hours ago, KmomChicago said:

I don't usually think this way, but for this cruise we are all considering choosing the LAST arrival time and just sauntering onboard well after the cabins are made available.  We'll be at my dad's place relatively nearby in Florida the night before so we don't have to be on any particular schedule and I see little reason to hustle and possibly deal with who-knows-what shenanigans and crowd management issues. 

 

If you want to “smuggle” a little, ahem, adult beverages, being one of the last helps. There comes a point where they’re trying to close the doors and they tend to relax a little on their search for alcohol. 

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4 hours ago, amcankid said:

If you want to “smuggle” a little, ahem, adult beverages, being one of the last helps. There comes a point where they’re trying to close the doors and they tend to relax a little on their search for alcohol. 

Had not heard that one before. Interesting, thanks! Still, how does it work? In the carryon, they will see it in the scanner, and in the checked bags, won't they just hold them longer on board before delivering to your room?

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2 hours ago, KmomChicago said:

Had not heard that one before. Interesting, thanks! Still, how does it work? In the carryon, they will see it in the scanner, and in the checked bags, won't they just hold them longer on board before delivering to your room?

 

Rum Runners - in the pockets of baggy cargo pants. Not that I know that from any past experiences, mind you --- that's just what I've "been hearing"!   😄

 

Tom

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10 hours ago, KmomChicago said:

Had not heard that one before. Interesting, thanks! Still, how does it work? In the carryon, they will see it in the scanner, and in the checked bags, won't they just hold them longer on board before delivering to your room?

They tend to not pay attention to the scanner when they’re rushing the last groups coming on. I only know from experiences twice as we were some of the last boarding. Of course there’s no guarantee, but the worst that will happen is they take it and hold it till the end of the cruise when you can then get it back.

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We're now less than 2 weeks out.  We're very excited to get back to the cruising life.  I thought I'd drop by and give you an update on some of the pre-trip logistics.  Shani has already mentioned some of the details above, but I want to consolidate that information as well as to add a few more details.

 

Getting to Orlando

 

One negative aspect of living out West is the scarcity of cruise ports within driving distance.  Of course, places like Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle all are homes to cruise ships.  Being in Phoenix, only one of those ports are really within driving distance, and that's still a six hour car trip.  This was one of the reasons that we were so excited that Carnival decided to make Long Beach the home port of the brand new Panorama in December of 2019.  We would have loved it more if she sailed to places other than the Mexican Rivera, but beggars must not be choosers.  All of this means, if we want to go on a cruise, we're probably flying, adding additional cost to any trip.

 

When Shani originally started searching for airfare to Orlando, we were surprised to see Southwest offering the best fare for flying in on a Friday.  Being a hub for American Airlines, they usually win in the best fare department. Our biggest rule about traveling to a cruise port is that we travel the day before the cruise.  We're not risking a flight delay or cancellation that leaves us without the ability to take our vacation.  Anyway, with Southwest's generous checked baggage policy and the need to bring at least one extra piece of luggage, we chose to fly with them. The suit and dresses will go into a garment bag that we normally wouldn't travel with on vacation. 

 

Accompanying us to the airport and on the flight will be Shani's cousin, who lives in a suburb of Phoenix.   We'll call her G for the purposes of the review.  G's daughter, S is the same age as Shani and lives in Shani's hometown in the Boston area.  Ironically, while we're flying with G from Phoenix, S is accompanying Shani's mom on their flight from Boston.  The three of us and G are slated to arrive in Orlando late Friday night, within an hour of S and Shani's mom arriving from Boston.  

 

Hotel

 

Due to our late arrival in Orlando, we decided to stay at the Hyatt Regency in Orlando's airport.  It doesn't get more convenient than grabbing your bags and walking upstairs to check into your hotel.  This will give us the best opportunity to get to bed at a decent hour before heading to the port the next morning.

 

Transportation to the Port

 

When doing the research on our port transfer's, we decided to wait until all six in our party got their check in times.  This brought a little bit of a logistical challenge as five us had early check in due to being in a suite, while Shani's mom wouldn't be able to check in until two days later.  Shani managed to get get us a 10:30 port check in, the earliest available, while G and S weren't quite as quick and snagged an 11:30 check in.  By the time Shani's mom was able to check in, Noon was the earliest available.  Shani actually checked her mother in and when securing the check in time, noticed that the website moved our check in time as well.  Well, there went the 10:30 slot.  Snag number one encountered, but there is nothing we're going to fret over.

 

Shani determined that we would plan on arriving at the port for G's and S's 11:30 check in window.  If the other four of us have to wait an extra half hour, so be it.  When doing her preliminary research, Shani found that it was actually cheaper for the six of us to hire a private shuttle from the airport to the coast the next morning, than it was to use Carnival's own shuttle.  We chose to go with a small provider named Cruise Control.  They are a small business with excellent reviews.  All things being equal, we love to support small business owners.  We'll let you know how our experience with Cruise Control goes!

 

Up next, we'll be putting the final touches on our preparation work.  My new suit should be ready this week and vacation haircuts for all three of us are planned for next weekend.  Until next time, here's to smooth sailing!

 

 

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23 hours ago, Tom-n-Cheryl said:

 

Adding - though this is Florida, and a good number of people sharing that space with you may not be vaccinated. Also, over the last week - out of all the new cases reported in the country, 1 in 5 were in Florida. 

 

That's my PSA for the day!  🙂

 

Tom

Thanks Tom.  I hope you're both feeling better!

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I am soooo excited that she is finally getting to sail with people on her. I will finally be able to live vicariously through others to get me through the next year until I cruise again in June 2022. I cracked up laughing when you described your experience at the tailor. My husband has the same affliction of no hips or backside to hold his pants up either. 

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12 hours ago, SonoranDevil said:

Thanks Tom.  I hope you're both feeling better!

 

Yep - THANKS 🙂

 

Cheryl just recovered her sense of smell/taste, and I apparently dodged that bullet entirely. It had us rethinking our specialty dining right around the corner!  WHEW !

 

Tom

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7 minutes ago, Tom-n-Cheryl said:

 

Yep - THANKS 🙂

 

Cheryl just recovered her sense of smell/taste, and I apparently dodged that bullet entirely. It had us rethinking our specialty dining right around the corner!  WHEW !

 

Tom

That's great!  Since you and Cheryl came down with Covid 22 days from your cruise, does that mean you're in the clear when you check in at embarkation? Like the 14 day window after a person gets their second vaccination shot. TIA!

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11 minutes ago, ninjacat123 said:

That's great!  Since you and Cheryl came down with Covid 22 days from your cruise, does that mean you're in the clear when you check in at embarkation? Like the 14 day window after a person gets their second vaccination shot. TIA!

 

I can only assume so - as we're still holding our CDC vaccination cards, and should be able to attest to our health status when the time comes. I have no idea what additional steps might be required. Glad this didn't happen two weeks from now !!

 

Tom

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20 minutes ago, Tom-n-Cheryl said:

 

I can only assume so - as we're still holding our CDC vaccination cards, and should be able to attest to our health status when the time comes. I have no idea what additional steps might be required. Glad this didn't happen two weeks from now !!

 

Tom

I'm thinking you are all good.  My DH and I have a cruise Sept 4 and we are both vaccinated, but what if we came down with Covid a week before?  I'm just trying to figure out the variables.  Thanks for your thoughts and I'm glad you are both recovering quickly!

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Hello again!  We are now 10 days out!  Our preparations are moving forward and the thought of setting sail is finally starting to seem real!  While we still have some hesitations, we are putting our faith in science and feel comfortable enough knowing we're all fully vaccinated.

 

Shani finally ordered the Cheers package for us and I've picked up my new suit.  With that, we're finally able to officially pack our first bag, since the suit and Shani's dresses are not on the schedule for the next 10 days.  

 

One helpful hint, though it's not new information for those who have been around CC for a while, but take advantage of an AARP membership if you have the opportunity.  A $12 dollar investment enables you to save 10% on Carnival gift cards.  You can purchase up to five, $500 gift cards per month.  These cards can be used to purchase your Cheer's package or even pay for your whole cruise for that matter.  A 10% savings on your cruise is nothing to sneeze at!    

 

WE ARE SO EXCITED!

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35 minutes ago, SonoranDevil said:

Hello again!  We are now 10 days out!  Our preparations are moving forward and the thought of setting sail is finally starting to seem real!  While we still have some hesitations, we are putting our faith in science and feel comfortable enough knowing we're all fully vaccinated.

 

Shani finally ordered the Cheers package for us and I've picked up my new suit.  With that, we're finally able to officially pack our first bag, since the suit and Shani's dresses are not on the schedule for the next 10 days.  

 

One helpful hint, though it's not new information for those who have been around CC for a while, but take advantage of an AARP membership if you have the opportunity.  A $12 dollar investment enables you to save 10% on Carnival gift cards.  You can purchase up to five, $500 gift cards per month.  These cards can be used to purchase your Cheer's package or even pay for your whole cruise for that matter.  A 10% savings on your cruise is nothing to sneeze at!    

 

WE ARE SO EXCITED!

hubby just got the AARP card- he's in the 50 club. how does one get the gift cards?

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6 minutes ago, stellarose said:

hubby just got the AARP card- he's in the 50 club. how does one get the gift cards?

 

Once you log in go to AARP Rewards.  You'll find the gift cards there.  You have to be a paid member to get the Carnival Cards.  

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4 minutes ago, ShaniBell said:

 

Once you log in go to AARP Rewards.  You'll find the gift cards there.  You have to be a paid member to get the Carnival Cards.  

he is . an AARP card carrying member.  🙂

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1 minute ago, stellarose said:

he is . an AARP card carrying member.  🙂

Have fun then!  I bought the max number of cards I could for the top $ value.  $2500 in gift cards for $2240.  I used a couple to pay for Cheers for Rob and I and will use some to pay down on board expenditures on this cruise.  Anything left over will go towards our next cruise on the Panorama in March.  You can buy 5 cards per month so we'll do that until the other trip is paid for.

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14 minutes ago, ShaniBell said:

Have fun then!  I bought the max number of cards I could for the top $ value.  $2500 in gift cards for $2240.  I used a couple to pay for Cheers for Rob and I and will use some to pay down on board expenditures on this cruise.  Anything left over will go towards our next cruise on the Panorama in March.  You can buy 5 cards per month so we'll do that until the other trip is paid for.

I bought $4000 of Carnival gift cards at All State.  Go to the AllState gift card thread for the code that gives you points for signing in.  10% off!

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1 hour ago, Tom-n-Cheryl said:

10% adds up - the more you spend, the more you save (Cheryl has used that phrase on me a couple of times, lol) !
 

Tom

I get that every time Cindy goes out & buys a pair of shoes or a new purse! Like she needs them! lol.

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2 hours ago, Tom-n-Cheryl said:

10% adds up - the more you spend, the more you save (Cheryl has used that phrase on me a couple of times, lol) !
 

Tom

 

1 hour ago, Joe817 said:

I get that every time Cindy goes out & buys a pair of shoes or a new purse! Like she needs them! lol.

KOHL'S math, my husband calls it!!

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Hello again CC friends!  We're 4 days out from boarding the brand new Carnival Mardi Gras!  We ran our final cruise related errands this evening, picking up a pair of our offspring's pants that had been sent to the tailor.  If anyone is curious and lives in the Phoenix area, we love Brothers Tailors (https://www.brotherstailors.com/).  I've purchased several suits from Gus and Peter, and they handle all of our tailoring needs.  

 

I have to admit that the lead up to this cruise is taking forever.  Mind you, it's only been six weeks since we initially booked.  That doesn't matter.  Time is dragging.  I thought I would try and trick the old noggin this morning, in an attempt to start the vacation vibe a few days early.  This morning, I grabbed my sailboat resort shirt out of the closet to wear for work today.  At least I would look like I was getting on a ship.  Well, it didn't really work.  It didn't make work go by any quicker.  In fact, I found myself even more perturbed at various points today (e.g. Note the perturbed look on my face when I am reminded that I'm not on the ship yet, sailboat shirt or not).  I was dressed for vacation, but I was definitely not on vacation.  I suppose you miss every shot you never take.

 

P0hGglJlVam01rh1PeTfbTOMoCmNIy9REmCkUsDM

 

Tonight, our guest room will begin serving the distinct honor of serving as our suitcase staging area.  We'll begin setting aside the things we won't need the next few days and finding their rightful place for their cross country journey to Florida.  Of course, the initial packing run will not look remotely close to the final storage schematic.  Spatial reasoning has never been a strength of mine.  It's usually best to let Shani organize each bag so I can focus on the monumental task of bringing the fully loaded luggage down the stairs.  

Before we know it, we'll be heading to the airport on Friday.  By late Friday night, we'll be in Orlando and checking into the Hyatt Regency at the Orlando airport.  I'll make sure to leave a review of our brief stay there (walked into room, it was clean, went to sleep, woke up, ate bacon, where's the shuttle?).  I'll probably sneak one post in on Saturday, with some initial images of the ship.  After that, I'll be mostly silent until John Heald kicks me off the boat on 8/7.  Until then, Salud!

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