As I’ve stated before, I write this in a manner that is more geared toward helping me remember the vacation but hopefully will also be helpful to others so I apologize for the lengthy writing.
So 7 of us get in the hotel van with most of the luggage and head to the port. Chris realized he forgot a belt and a store opened at 10am just a short distance away so he was going to be there at 10am get in and get out so we decided he would ride with the Uber because we could hold him up. He was in, bought a belt and got back to the hotel by 10:07. Ally forgot her phone in the room so her and Chris went up to look for it while I waited for the Uber. They came back down just as the van was leaving and off we all went.
There was confusion as to what terminal number Carnival goes out of so we can tell the Uber driver. We called Carnival and THEY didn’t even know, they just said follow the signs. To me that’s sad that they can’t tell me exactly where. The van knew where to go, the Uber driver got lost cause we had to guess as to the terminal number and he was following his GPS. We wound up in Princess terminal. He almost missed it again, he actually had to make a U-turn to get to Carnival which is stupid. But we made it, dropped the one piece of luggage we had and were able to find the rest of the group.
This was the quickest we’ve ever got on a ship so far. We are heading into building close to 11am. Mind you we signed up for 12:30 but we were there early. We figured we would have to wait. We zig-zag through the stanchions almost humoursly because there is hardly anyone there. We wait for a bit for an agent to open up at a podium and our family approaches. We hand them our boarding passes and our passports. He scans both and captures a photo from our passport and is now in the Carnival system. From there we go through security.
Once again, Augers have problems. At this point in our travels it has become a little funny. The first time, Chris couldn’t get through the airport security because of something in his pocket that was setting it off. Norwegian they didn’t print off their boarding pass so they had to stand in one line in order to stand in another long line. This time at the airport they were getting extra screening because they didn’t take their laptops and iPads out of their backpacks. Now Chris had to go to another agent pass security to get approval from them. Apparently his picture wouldn’t scan appropriately so he had to go through an extra procedure.
We get to the waiting area and on our boarding pass it has like A2 or something like that on it and we here overhead “Now boarding…blah blah blah…something…” Ella says, “That’s US!” I’m like no way, we are way too early…and we ask this security guard where we should go and he says right here and sit and wait for your number to be called. They say it again overhead and this time we all hear it. Yep, it was ours already.
We are on the ship by 11:30!!!! It took a half hour.
The first thing we notice as we are getting on is how worn it looks on the outside. Very rusty. We were on Disney Fantasy and they do an excellent job cleaning and painting the ship. It may cover the actual underlying defects but at least the usual cruiser won’t notice. Norwegian we were on a fairly new ship so the ocean air had not yet gotten to it. Not sure how Norwegian takes care of its ships. Carnival, or least this particular ship, they did not hide the rust. With that said, the inside was actually very well kept we thought. There were a few things here and there but with 4700 guests you can’t keep everything in tip top shape. The decor is sort of Caribbean looking with its green interior, it isn’t really my taste but some people seemed to appreciate it. I normally don’t notice DJs but this one was actually quite entertaining and funny. DJ-Q It was nice that the Christmas decorations were still up. A very festive green. I am not saying at this point we are cruise experts but this is our third one and we kind of have down some of the things we should do when we first get on the ship. After we take some pictures around the tree by the main atrium we wanted to make sure the kids were all squared away with the kids clubs. We were instructed to go to Camp Ocean which was the only place staffed at this point. We needed to go aft so we tried to head that way. Currently on 3rd there is no way to get to the back which I thought was strange. We went up one floor and was still a little confused on how to get back. Instead we headed to the elevator to go up to 11th (one floor up from lido) and walk to the back. Later we find out we need to go on the starboard side of 4th floor if we want to go aft. I love this part when you walk out onto these decks for the first time. We get to Camp Ocean and the only thing we needed to do was allow the 3s the ability to sign themselves out. We were concerned being 11 (and girls) they would feel very old in Camp Ocean and asked if they could go to Circle C. She said we would have to ask the manager there but he wouldn’t be there until 8pm. So we released the 1s to do whatever and said to meet at the room at 1:30 (finally, Kaitlyn was really getting antsy to explore on her own to the point where it was maddening). I forgot to download the HUBB app on Ella’s phone so I was trying to do that. We didn’t have very good reception so it took a while to do. So here was us waiting and listening to the steel drum player.
We got the download finished and we let the 2s go to do whatever they wanted. Ella wanted to hit Guy’s Burgers so they went there. The rest of us went to the Lido Marketplace where we found some free champagne.
We ate at the Marketplace but the 3s managed to find Cucina del Capitano
It’s just a bit of a hidden staircase leading to the Italian restaurant but these two found it. Lunch is free but it is a specialty restaurant for dinner. Moms said it was good but not overly special, maybe it was better at dinner.
It was time to go to the room but on the way we found the drink of the day. Don’t remember what it was but the alcohol was mostly at the bottom.
Both Heather and I felt this one a bit by the end.
We met everyone at the room at 1:30 and for the first time in three cruises, all our luggage was at both our rooms. I apologize but we forgot to take pictures of the room. I will say it was very warm in the room and in the hall. It was actually a little cooler in the hall so we propped the door open. Once we were at sea it cooled down. Unpacking went quick as both Kaitlyn and I helped and being this our 3rd time, Heather had the process down now so it went quick. We waited for the muster drill at 3pm. We had to meet at Southern Lights main dining room (MDR). They would scan us as we came through the doors and the adults had to go in first. They tried to entertain us a big while we waited. After about 20 minutes of sitting there, we were free to go so we zoomed up the steps to deck 12 for Sail Away!
I LOVE SAIL AWAYS! At this point we are unpacked, have done everything we NEED to do, we’ve usually had our first drink by this time. Now it’s time to relax, dance a little, and watch the land disappear.
Celebrity Leaving Port Everglades. Princess was next, followed by us.
Also time to get a little silly. This would become a common theme for Chris and I throughout the cruise as you will find out later.
These two beauties.
2s and 3s Line Dancing
Thing 1 and Thing 2 making the rounds. We would only see these characters one other time on the ship.
There are a couple of videos to share but I don’t have them edited or loaded to Youtube just yet so will have to come back to this later.
This was the windiest and cloudiest Sail Away we’ve ever had. Thankfully for us, it still felt warm. I was afraid the wind and clouds was an indication of the rest of our cruise but I will say after this day, it was probably the LEAST amount of wind on a cruise so far.
Once the ship got to the jetty, the DJ was done already which I found strange. People are still watching buildings go by and wanting to party and the DJ had quit. This was a common theme it seemed throughout, not just with the DJ but with some of the food places and entertainment as well.
The 2s and 3s decided to swim at this point. Others split off for the moment and I believe at this time the moms went to figure out what we needed to do for the “zones” for the tender to Half Moon Cay tomorrow. You had to go to a kiosk and reserve a zone. All it said were some zones were earlier than others but it gave no estimates on times. We had an idea when we would have liked to get off but no idea what zone to reserve. So they just picked one in the middle in hopes it would work. After a while the moms came back and we couldn’t find the 2s so eventually we just decided to go back to the rooms to see if they would show up there. Eventually they did. That’s the great part about having a buddy and kids that are all older now, you can leave and trust they know where to find you.
We decided we were going to eat at 6:30. I was hesitant to go with Anytime Dining being there would be 10 of us. I heard you can do up to 8 with relatively no problem but with larger tables there could be a long wait. I get to Northern Lights first thinking I’ll get ahead of everyone and get our name in because most likely we will have to wait a while. There was a line outside and some confusion on this night because people were still getting used to using the HUBB app. So the lady at the entrance of the MDR asks if I’ve made a reservation using the app. I said no because there is 10 of us and I can only make reservations up to 8. She said make the reservation and she will change it to 10 on her system. So I do that, she makes the change, we refresh and sure enough on my phone app it says reservation for 10…”Under 10 minute wait”!! WHOA! I thought I came down plenty ahead of everyone, now they only have 10 minutes to finish getting ready! So I’m frantically texting EVERYONE to make sure someone in each room sees it. The screen updates that my table is ready and no one is there yet. I need everyone in my party to be here. So I stall and don’t show up. Finally some start showing up and eventually I went in with as many as I had and told them we are short 2 yet. They were fine with that and as we were walking in towards our table the rest showed up. Phew.
Thankfully there was a magician. He showed up fairly early and was entertaining but we only saw him one night and it took us an hour and a half to eat so our kids eventually got antsy again. Sure wish they would have had other entertainment for kids throughout the cruise.
We all split after dinner. 3s were able to move up a club level which I wondered how the 2s would take it. They bucked it at first but in the end they all said it was not good there. They didn’t do what was planned (which turned out to be a theme for the cruise) and everyone just played video games and that was it.
The adults went to the All Aboard Show which was a lot of singing and dancing and introducing some of the staff. We hung out at atrium after the show and saw the 3s and we rode the glass elevator all the way up and down a few times with them. As we were walking towards the aft we had joked that Chris and I should stop at the LGBT meet n greet at the Alchemy bar and see which one of us gets hit on. The other would likely go to bed sobbing. At one point we noticed Ally leaving Kaitlyn and she went down to her room. Drama already on the first night. Not exactly sure what happened. I do know Kaitlyn loves meeting new people and it takes Ally a little longer to warm up so I think it had something to do with that. Eventually we knew everyone wanted to go to the sports deck and watch the dodgeball tournament. This is where we met everyone and Heather made Kaitlyn and Ally talk about what was bugging them. They were then fine the rest of the trip after this night.
Ella showed up just pumped and said we had to go to the front of the ship with her. So me and Heather and Linda all followed to 5 forward and it was pretty awesome. There are no ship lights on in the front so you get a pretty good view of the stars. It was a little windy but not too bad. The view was beautiful. Ella had tears in her eyes. Highly recommend and late night trip up there. I did find out a few days later there are steps to go up 2 more decks but there were other kids hanging out there and I think a young couple making out. Wish I had a camera with at that time but there are no pictures.
We started playing Wizard on 10 aft and the line for pizza rarely went down. We came to find out the comedy show let out right before we got there so the line got long. Eventually it went down some so we jumped in but there was still a wait. The pizza was OK but it was about the only thing you could get late at night other than some very select items in the buffet. I’ll get back around to that some other post. This one is long!
We were in bed by 1:30 and every child was already sleeping. It had been a long day already and we were just getting started!