Monday, March 31, 2014

Navigator of the Seas Review

 
 
Navigator of the Seas Review 3.23.2014


Just The Facts
Ship:  Navigator of the Seas
March 23-March 30, 2014
Captain: Frank Martinsen
Entertainment Director: Mitch Merucci
Ports: Galveston-Cozumel-Galveston
Weather:  Mixed

This is my 17th Royal Caribbean cruise and first on the Navigator of the Seas although our 4th cruise with Captain Frank.  We booked this cruise very early in order to get our favorite aft cabin on deck seven. We are traveling as a couple and looking forward to sailing on Royal Caribbean again and the new features on the Navigator since she has recently come from dry dock.  We are very pleased that Royal Caribbean again has a ship sailing year round from Texas.

Day One--Sunday—Embarkation
Oil slick in Galveston Bay
The night previous we received a warning of potential fog in Galveston, but it was vague as to if it would actually happen. Early in the morning I checked the port web cam and there was only a slight fog and I’d seen them sail in worse so we left the Ranch at 6:20 a.m. about our usual time.   I checked the web cam again an hour later while on the way expecting to see cruise ships, but there were none.  That was a concern so we stopped at the McDonald’s in Navasota to use the internet.  We discovered the port was actually closed due to an oil spill in Galveston Bay,  it really wasn’t a fog issue at all.  About the same time we started receiving text reports from Royal Caribbean NOT to proceed to the port.  Wish we would have known this earlier, so we called our cruise friends in Cypress, TX and diverted there arriving about 11:15 am.  We discovered that there would be a long delay with the arrival of the cruise ships so we decided to make a day of it with our friends.  We drove to Tomball to eat at Goodson’s Cafe, home of the “Best Chicken Fried Steak in Texas”.  I must say they live up to their reputation, it was one of the best I have ever had and it was a huge CFS.  The sides were also great and the Banana pudding was wonderful.  We returned for an afternoon nap and await updates on the ship.  I discovered I had a friend on board the Navigator and they had some internet from their anchorage just outside Galveston so I had good sources of information.   A recorded telephone message from Royal Caribbean woke me from my nap and I heard that the ship was to hopefully arrive at 6:00 pm and that we would board late that night.  Being concerned about the late boarding and expected chaos at the terminal area we decided to leave our car with cruise friends in Alvin and they took us to the pier.  Thank goodness for our friends today.  We arrived about 11:30 pm, checked our bags, and got into the line to get in the line for the terminal.  Once we got into the building at 12:30 it went quicker through security and check-in and we boarded at 1:00 am.  We went straight to deck seven and our favorite aft balcony cabin and thankfully our bags were there waiting for us. We went up to the Windjammer for pizza then returned to the cabin to unpack and settle.  It was 2:30 a.m. when we hit the bed, a very long and interesting day.

Day Two—Monday—Galveston, Texas
The Beautiful Royal Promenade
A short restful night for tired people as we were awakened by Captain Martinson’s announcements just after 8:00 am.. Basically he told us that the port of Galveston is closed until further notice.  DW had ordered her usual Room Service breakfast in bed the night before and I went to breakfast in the Sapphire dining room. I had Melon, Eggs Benedict, & Bacon.  It was very good.  This morning we went to explore the ship, it is very beautiful with a great Promenade, but since we are in port the shops, several bars, and the casino are closed. It’s still cool outside, so we went by the new Diamond Lounge located on Deck 14, it’s large and very nice with an outdoor area as well.  In addition to the Diamond Lounge serving complementary cocktails each evening, they have preloaded on our Sail & Sign Cards the cost of three cocktails that can be redeemed at most ships bars between 4:30 and 8:00 pm.  We went to the Windjammer buffet for a nice lunch then to the cabin for a much needed nap and cabin time.  The television choices are not that good, but we do have internet since we are in port.  At 6:30 we went to the Metropolis Theater for the production show: Now and Forever featuring a selection of contemporary Broadway Show Tunes.  The twelve member Navigator Singers and Dancers were very good as well as the live Orchestra.  After the show we had wine in the Schooner Bar using our Diamond credits on our S&S card (what a brilliant program) until time for dinner. The Captains reception was scheduled this evening, but the Captain and staff were in meetings with the USCG concerning our status.  We had just settled into our two-top table on deck four (middle) of the Sapphire Dining Room (MDR) when the Captain came over the ship-wide speakers with the announcement everyone had been waiting for all day.  It was not good news, the cruise has been cancelled.  Because the USCG would not give an answer as to when the port would reopen, RCCL made the call, the correct one I believe.  Passengers will receive a 100% refund and 25% off their next cruise.  They can also stay on board until Sunday if they wish or leave at any time.  Passengers and the MDR wait staff were shocked, but the Captains Gala Dinner was a wonderful meal, I ordered: Escargot Bourguignonne, Artichoke-filled Crepe au Gratin, and the Pan-fried Silver Corvina Fillet  entree.  For dessert I had the BBB Creme Brulee.  This was an excellent dinner, but everyone was discussing their travel options.  We walked around the ship and it seemed to be a somber mood although all the activities and venues were full.  We retired to discuss our options, but the plan was to go home early.

Day Three—Tuesday—Galveston, Texas
Dancing on Ice - Navigator of the Seas
We slept much better overnight and the weather was warmer with some sunshine.  I again went to the MDR for a repeat of Mondays breakfast.  We spent the morning on the internet making queries and getting news about the seriousness of the Oil Spill.  There are four cruise ships effected: Navigator of the Seas, Carnival Magic, Carnival Triumph, and the Caribbean Princess out of Bayport.  The USCG allowed the Navigator and Magic to sail through a portion of the oil slick in order to debark passengers late Sunday and the Triumph on Monday morning.  This meant that the ships hulls had to be decontaminated so that was being done this morning starting with the two Carnival ships since they had not cancelled their cruises and intended to sail when they could.  About noon we went to the MDR for a nice lunch, the large Salad Bar they set up at lunch is excellent, but I ordered the Pasta special.  After lunch we went to the 2:00 pm ice show.  They opened the seating at 1:30 for ticket holders so we were able to walk direct from the MDR on deck three across to the ‘Studio’ and got great seats.  The show was Dancing on Ice and it was very good.  They had ten skaters, great routines, and colorful costumes.  When you sit within the first few rows you feel as though your right on the ice with them.  Several of the ice dancing sets followed the movie theme of the ship, it was a very enjoyable show.  We had a walk on deck to check the progress on the Carnival ships and the Magic has now sailed since they opened the port this afternoon.  The Triumph was being cleaned and would sail soon.  A bit disappointing that they were leaving, but we are getting a full refund so no real complaints.  We had decided that we would leave the ship on Thursday and were making plans to get our car when there was another ship-wide announcement from Captain Frank.  His voice and tone sounded much better than last night and the news was good:  ‘We will be sailing to Cozumel tomorrow’.  Fantastic News!  Royal Caribbean decided to give us a cruise experience and basically it’s a free cruise since we will still be receiving our full refund.  Soon afterward we had cast off from the pier so that they could clean the ship’s hull then docked again so folk off for the day could board.  We went to the Diamond Lounge for wine and celebrate our good fortune.  We had reservations for Sabor the new premium ($25 pp.) Mexican restaurant. This is the first Sabor in the fleet and promoted as modern Mexican food.  It’s really Tex-Mex food, they made Guacamole at the table and we ordered: Queso Fundido, Chicken-stuffed Jalapenos, Pork Carnitas, Carne Asada, Tres Quesos Quesadilla, Calabacitas (roasted vegetables), and a small tray of dessert samplers. It’s very good food and would be very popular on European or Florida sailings, but honestly Texans will not be impressed as it’s really not anything special compared to a typical good Mexican restaurant in Texas. 

Day Four—Wednesday—Sail Away
Beer Tasting selections in Two Poets Pub
A good nights sleep overnight and we again have cooler cloudy skies.  DW had her room service and I went upstairs to the Windjammer for breakfast.  They have a very efficient egg station, you place your egg order and receive a number, that gives you time to get ham from the carving station, potatoes, or bacon, etc. I had a nice omelet.  I noticed some travel bags in the passageway on the way to breakfast so I guess a few people returned to the ship this morning.  Sail away was at 10:00 am. and we watched from the balcony as we finally left Galveston harbor. It was really nice to be underway, I did see several oil cleaning barges on the way out of the harbor.  Since we are now 12 miles out we went down to the Promenade and the shops were now open, it was very busy with liquor tastings, sales, promotions, etc.,  We had been restricted on better liquor and beers while in port due to restrictive TABC laws so it was nice to stop at Two Poets Pub and have a proper beer.  I had a Haegaarden from Belgium.  We then went up to the Windjammer for lunch, I had some Sweet & Sour pork and a minute steak with potatoes.  We are sailing into a high wind and the seas are a bit rough and it clouded up with some rain, but the temperature is climbing as we sail south.  At 3:00 pm I went back down to the Two Poets Pub for a Beer Tasting. The Beverage Manager who presented the tasting was very knowledgeable and we sampled five beers: Stella Artrois, a Red Hook IPA, Haegaarden, Newcastle Brown Ale, and a Le Fin Du Monde.  It was very enjoyable.  We had cabin time and ordered two Cheese Plates and two Fruit Plates from room service. The Past Guest party was held at 7:15, and they had two Ice Skating shows but we passed on them as we were having a lazy day and watching movies.  I went up to the Windjammer for dinner and I had forgotten how good the food is there in the evenings, I had a nice sliced Roast Beef with horseradish, and some very good Pork Chops with Mashed Potatoes.  The ship was really rocking this evening so I let it rock me to sleep.

Day Five—Thursday--at Sea
Navigator of the Seas
A nice nights sleep as the ship was rocking & rolling…I like it.  There was even a thunderstorm during the night but daybreak was nice and sunny...the best weather so far.  DW had room service and I went to the MDR. It is Chocolate breakfast day in the dining room, you could get chocolate éclairs, donuts, cakes, chocolate pancakes, hot chocolate, chocolate milk shake, and more, but I had a nice ‘country’ breakfast (Fried Eggs, Potatoes, Bacon, Corned Beef Hash, White Toast). After breakfast we went down to Promenade deck for cookies and to visit.  We then went to Lido deck and listened to live music until lunch time.  I was in a mood for a salad today to we went to the MDR as they really have the best salads that they prepare at the salad bar they set up each sea day (or home port days on this cruise).  After lunch it was balcony time.  We have a great balcony on an aft corner and this was finally a day we could take advantage.  BTW—I will never book a cruise in March or Spring Break season without a private balcony.  It is an escape from the Kids who dominate the pools and some deck areas.  We went to the Martini Bar ‘R-Bar’ for a cocktail, but moved to the Two Poets Pub for a couple of more cocktails redeeming the ‘comps’ loaded on our cards.  I really like the Cosmopolitan Cocktail they prepare on the Voyager, only a ‘touch’ of cranberry.  It was now time for the 6:30 production show: Ballroom Fever featuring the Voyager Orchestra and Voyager Singers & Dancers.  This was a more dance oriented show and very enjoyable.  After the show we went to the Diamond Lounge for final cocktails before dinner.  Dinner was very good this evening, I ordered the Escargot Bourguignonne, the Royal Shrimp Cocktail, Cock-a-leekie Soup, the Mustard-crusted Roast Beef entree, and a Trifle & Pecan Pie for dessert.  After a great ‘party day’ on the ship we retired to the cabin after dinner.

Day Six--Friday—Cozumel
El Cid Hotel - Cozumel Mexico
Another good nights sleep and today and we have the best weather of the cruise.  We were scheduled to arrive at the International Pier at 7:00 am and were docked next to the Allure of the Seas when I woke up at 8:00 am.  DW had her usual Room Service and I went to the MDR for a repeat of my ‘country breakfast’.    By the time I returned to our balcony the Carnival Sunshine and Carnival Magic had docked at Puerto Maya.  For the second time in two months they had Mexican agricultural inspectors checking for fruit.  This time they were off the ship and could have fined people trying to carry off fruit.  About 10:00 am we walked over to the El Cid hotel and purchased day passes @ $20pp with $12 applied as bar credit. Fortunately we got two loungers under a palapa on the beach area as very soon the place was packed primarily with crew from the RCCL and even Carnival ships. It is a very convenient location for them.  The beach is fine with a great view of the cruise ships,  They have internet, swimming pool, restaurant, access by stairs into the water, towel rental, and more.  They also have an all inclusive option day pass, but ours seemed best for us, we had a Bloody Mary, two Beers, two cokes, Guacamole, chips, & pico de gallo and our bill was only $9 more than our credit.  It was a close & walkable location, but not as nice as the many resort beaches on the island.  We returned to the ship about 3:15, those that have sailed from Cozumel are aware of the ‘drunk walk’ on the pier that may make on returning to their ship. Our aft corner balcony was a great location and the beginning of the ‘tunnel’ created by the two ships.  We ordered and enjoyed our cheese & fruit trays we ordered for sail away.  This was the second scheduled formal night and dinner was very good,  I had a Hearts of Palm salad (special request), the Royal Shrimp Cocktail, Fresh Snow Crab Salad, Fisherman’s Plate with Lobster, Slow Roasted Prime Rib, and dessert was Baked Alaska. The Prime Rib was perhaps the best I had ever had.  After that great meal and the sun we got on the beach today we retired to the cabin for TV, balcony, and to relax this evening.

Day Seven--Saturday--at Sea
Flo-Rider on Navigator of the Seas
Sunny, but somewhat hazy today.  DW had her usual room service breakfast and I again went to the MDR for a full breakfast. We had balcony time and worked on debarkation paper work and this review in the morning. I got a one day internet package today as well. I had lunch in the Windjammer and took a final tour of the ship since this is the last day on board and I still had not seen everything.  The new Flow Rider looks great, but I doubt I would ever try it.  I had a cocktail at the Sky Bar while on my little tour and later one at the R-bar…the new prepaid Diamond cocktail benefit is wonderful. I had cabin, balcony, and internet time this evening as DW was under the weather. Since we skipped the MDR, I went up to the Windjammer for a late dinner and was impressed with the entree choices: Pork Chops, Turkey at the carving station, Minute Steaks (very good), Grilled Chicken Breast, and much more.  Although I didn’t attend the Farewell Show I heard it was well received by guests. 

Debarkation--Sunday
We were docked by 6:50 am and it was a beautiful day in Galveston.  No room service on debarkation morning, but a full breakfast menu is served in the dining room (we didn’t go). We were up early to pack as we have a 8:15 am meet time for our self-debark group E. You have to request self-debark on the Navigator and get a ticket at Guest Services the day prior.  They had a group earlier, but I was allowing time for our ride to arrive.  Since we docked a bit early I suspected the debark would as well and it did.  They actually called all the self-debark zones just after 8:00 am. so we went straightway as getting an elevator is always hard to get on a middle deck.  We got down to deck 4 in good shape and proceeded to ‘click’ out and were in customs within 20 minutes.  They did have a TABC booth set up to collect taxes on liquor and cigarettes as we left the terminal.  No pre-warning from the ship as there was from Carnival.  We walked across Harborside Blvd. to the old Sante Fe Train Terminal and shortly met our ride.  After a nice breakfast in Alvin, we were on the highway and at the ranch by 3:00 pm.  A nice debark and travel day.

Ship
The Navigator of the Seas is Royal Caribbean's new ‘Texas’ ship being the first to berth in Galveston year round since the Rhapsody of the Seas.  For the past several years we have only had a Voyager class ship six months of the year. At least each time they have changed ships it has been for a newer or larger one.  After Navigator it will be the Freedom of the Seas and following that it is supposed to be an Oasis class. The port already plans for expansion to accommodate the larger ships.  With a large ship there are a lot of people and the pools can be very crowded during peak times and the elevators are always full, but the additional size also means that there is room for the photo gallery, casino, bars, etc. without any one of them dominating an entire deck.  The Grand Promenade is very impressive indeed and must be experienced.  The theme of the ship seems to be Hollywood Movies with movie posters decorating the passageways and stairwells. They have added a Flow Rider, the Sabor restaurant, Diamond Lounge and more during the dry dock retrofit.  I really like the new interactive touchscreen information centers located near all the elevators and other locations.  They have the daily Cruise Compass, guides, maps, and more.  They also have interactive menus at the Windjammer and on all entry floors of the Sapphire Dining room.

Crew
Overall very good, but our individual crew contacts such as cabin steward and waiters were not as good as we have experienced on Royal Caribbean in the past.  Just the luck of the draw.  I enjoyed the Cruise Director and the Activity Director’s morning show.  I really admire Captain Martinsen and he really worked hard this week getting the very best for his passengers under difficult circumstances.  He is exactly what one would want in a Cruise Ship captain.  He had already done me a great favor on a previous cruise and his actions this week just reaffirmed my opinion of him.

Cabin
We have cabin 7688 a corner aft on port side.  It is one of our favorite cabins on any cruise ship.  The room is a standard size, or actually slightly smaller, but the balcony is one of the largest on the ship.  The cabin has: key pad safe, hair dryer, refrigerator, short couch, nice sliding door shower, custom drapes, and more.  The air conditioning & water pressure worked well. It is a long walk to the stairwell and elevators from the far aft, but I needed the exercise.

Food
Our dining room was the Sapphire Dining Room, deck four the middle level of the 3 level restaurant.  It was table 493 a two top table.  The waiters were nice service was just good to average.  The bread and appetizers were very good, and you can order the Escargot, Cesar Salad, or Shrimp Cocktail every night if you wish.  The Windjammer is also very good, the quality of food was excellent.  Best buffet at sea IMHO.  Room service was always good and fairly prompt.  Johnny Rockets was a good alternative for lunch or afternoon snack.  Lunch in the dining room has the same menu each day with one special item that does change daily. There are several ice crème and yogurt machines in the Windjammer.

Cruise Highlights
I enjoyed Dinner & Breakfasts in the dining room, the Ice show, and the two production shows we attended.  We didn’t use many of the public areas of the ship as much this cruise as we used the balcony a lot.  Our favorite public space was the Two Poets Pub.  Of course the highlight is that this was a free cruise.

Comments
This was certainly a unique experience this week.  The oil spill in Galveston Bay created major problems for many this week including: cruise passengers, the cruise lines, the environment, commercial shipping, and much more.  I only have good things to say about Royal Caribbean and the Navigator Staff and Crew.  Royal Caribbean really did an outstanding job doing the right thing TWICE in making major decisions concerning the cruise.



Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Cruise Ships in Galveston

Navigator of the Seas  -  Carnival Triumph  -  Carnival Magic


Great photo from March 25th when three cruise ships were 'confined' in Galveston due to an Oil Spill.  I was on the Navigator.  Click on photo to enlarge.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Carnival Sunshine Cruise Review

 Carnival Sunshine Cruise Review

February 23, 2014


Just The Facts
Ship:  Carnival Sunshine
Ship Captain: Roberto Leotta   
Cruise Director: Butch Begovich
Ports: New Orleans, Montego Bay, Grand Cayman, Cozumel
Weather:  Good all week

This is my 41st Carnival cruise, 4th time on the Carnival Sunshine, and 87th cruise overall. I am cruising with my dear wife (DW) and eight good friends.  This is the second week of a Back-to-Back (B2B) cruise.  For those reading this review for information on the Carnival Sunshine please read all my previous reviews on her as after sailing her so many times I will not be attending all the various shows or events this week as one would do on a cruise on a lesser known ship.  I will have by the conclusion of this cruise eaten at all the food venues, visited all the bars, and participated in most all ship activities. 

Day One--Sunday--Embarkation
First in Red Frog
The weather is rainy in NOLA, but an easy Embarkation Day as we are already on the ship. We moved from deck 8 to deck 5 between 9:00-10:00 am. this morning then met the other B2B guests in the lobby.  Embarkation is very smooth today and this is as early as I can remember a B2B ‘walk off-walk on’.  We were back on the ship just after 10:30 so it was a rush to the Red Frog Pub for the ‘first’ free beers.  We did make it first and it was the first time I was ever able to beat other guests even though doing a B2B as usually we are not first to board the ship, but it was very smooth this morning and it worked for us.  The group also gathered for the first tube of Thirsty Frog Red beer.  A good start for the second week of the cruise.  We then all went up to the Havana Bar to eat lunch and since it was rainy outside there were many more people in there than usual, but the lines were not bad for the Mongolian Grill.  I had a great bowl and DW had pasta from the Cucina del Capitano.  We then returned to the cabin to finish unpacking.  The great news is that we have the same cabin steward, Antonio, as I had for 16 days on the Sunshine Transatlantic and he is excellent.  We tried to take some bags to our car, but they would not allow us to leave because they were under weather sailing conditions and could be forced to leave at any time.  That’s fine is is foggy outside.  Since we are on deck 5 and so close to the Alchemy I was able to get a proper Cherry Kiss cocktail from Miro before they closed for the safety drill.  Boat Drill was about 3:40 pm somewhat earlier than last week, and we sailed away earlier about 4:00pm just as a window of sunshine appeared.  I hope all the passengers made it on board.  We went to a FUN sail away party for our group on deck 7.  It was dark when we sailed last week so the views from the balcony were nice and interesting due to patches of remaining fog.  We went to the Alchemy for an aperitif then to dinner.  Matre’D Ken assigned us the 12-top Captain’s Table in the front of the dining room for our group. Thanks Ken, it’s good to have us ALL at one table.  It is again the traditional Carnival menu items tonight and I had the Linguine & Sausage as a starter, Gazpacho, Heart of Lettuce Salad, the Tilapia entree, and Creme Brûlée for dessert.  We passed on the Welcome Show with Butch and retired early, A fun and easy first day.

Day Two--Monday--at Sea
Carnival Sunshine Alchemy Bar - Cornelius, Ioana, Miro
Very calm in the Gulf of Mexico and I had a very good nights sleep.  A very nice and sunny day.  I got DW a nice breakfast in bed in lieu of room service since the Ocean Plaza taste bar is so near our cabin.  I then returned and had a nice breakfast there myself including: French Toast, Prosciutto, Cheese, Bacon, Potatoes, Eggs, and more.  We then walked around deck and the Serenity Deck was packed as was the Lido and Sports decks.  We saw our group in the Havana Bar and we visited and all went down to Ocean Plaza to purchase a future cruise at the future cruise desk.  We stayed there to visit and played a trivia game of identifying celebrity photos.  We had 36 of 40 but lost by one.  Since the lunch items were now being served at the Taste Bar on Ocean Plaza most all had a nice salad.  The girls all signed up for the 1:30 Martini Classes in the Alchemy Bar with Miro.  The guys went to the Red Frog for a tube of Thirsty Frog and by accident ended up listening to the afternoon Karaoke. So it was an Ocean Plaza day for everyone.  About 4:00 I went up to get a Guy’s Burger and soon almost all my friends had come by for one as well…we do think alike.  We sailed into a rain cloud and there was a waterspout along side the ship for a good while. Interesting and another first at sea.  The group met at the Alchemy Bar for aperitifs and some fun with the Alchemists.  Tonight was the Captains elegant night and dinner was excellent, I ordered the Spaghetti Carbonara, White Stuffed Mushrooms, Prime Rib with Baked Potato, and Cherries Jubilee for desert.  At our table we sat with the girls on one side and the boys on the other and the men all wore our matching black shirts and the previous night our matching red shirts, it was amazing how many guests came by and mentioned what a fun group we seemed to be…and of course we are a FUN group.  After dinner a cocktail from the Alchemy Bar as we listened to the Swamp Thang Band in the Ocean Plaza perform their Mo-Town set, then finished the evening in the Havana Bar listening to Latin music. 

Day Three--Tuesday—at Sea
Mongolian Grill
Another good nights sleep and smooth seas as we entered the Caribbean this beautiful morning. I had breakfast in the Ocean Plaza again then took breakfast to DW in the cabin.  I had a few bookings for the future cruise rep so met him at 10:00 then went up to the Havana Bar and saw most of the group up there.  At noon I had the Mongolian Grill for lunch and they were doing a different preparation system with two cooks at each station.  Mine had a bit more water than usual (perhaps also new), but it was really good.  Cabin time in the afternoon watching some classic television shows and updating my review.  We had another of our Snoozemates  parties at 4:00 in one of the large deck 8 cabins…lots of fun.  The Captain had a Diamond Guest Cocktail Party at 7:00 pm in the Piano Bar.  There are 16 Diamonds on board and the Senior Staff also attended.  We had very nice h’orderves prepared by Bonsai Sushi and I liked the sushi and vegetable rolls very much.  It was a very nice gathering and I appreciate the effort from the Carnival Sunshine senior staff. It feels very personal when the Captain called me by name and Caroline calls DW by the name she uses and not her official ‘cruise’ name, it shows genuine involvement with the guests.  Thanks Captain, Caroline, and Carnival.  It was now time for dinner and it was very good this evening.  I ordered the French Onion Soup, Pasta, and the Beef Short Rib entree.  We skipped desert in order to get prime seats at the Lobby Bar for the big Mardi Gras Party in the lobby area.  Guests came in Mardi Gras gear and Cornelius and Mr.T did a bartender flair show, but I have to say that Cruise Director Butch adds so much to this event when he dances around the bar.  I really can not imagine a future MG party without Butch as the host.  Following we went to the Havana Bar, but found the music from the Ocean Plaza and the Swamp Thang Band much better.  A FUN sea day on the Sunshine!

Day Four— Wednesday—Montego Bay, Jamaica
Pirate Night in MDR
Calm seas and a very good nights sleep.  I slept a little late (for me) and watched us dock on the
ship’s TV cameras.  I got DW a breakfast plate from Ocean Plaza then I went to the Sunrise MDR for a hearty breakfast.  I had Melon, three Fried Eggs, Corned Beef Hash, Hash Browns, Bacon, Ham, and Leche Caliente. Very good.  No one in the group had specific plans for the day.  DW and the girls went to Serenity Deck and enjoyed the ship with most of the guests off the ship.  I went off the ship and to the little village next to the port to Partners Restaurant & Bar.  They have unlimited WiFi for $3 (charging an extra $2) so I spent four hours there updating emails and doing a little work.  I also enjoyed a Red Stripe and some very good Jerk Chicken.  I was back on board about 2:30 and had cabin time ordering an excellent BLT from room service.  It’s Pirate Night for our group and we had a party from sail away until dinner.  All dressed as a pirate or in pirate theme.  We had the interest of many in the MDR especially with our table location at the entry. For dinner I ordered two Shrimp Cocktails, the  Bowtie Pasta with Turkey, the Pork Steak entree, and Tiramisu for dessert.  It was now time for my late cocktail from the Alchemy Bar, Ioana prepared a special Cherry flavored cocktail for me, it was very good.  Another great day on the Carnival Sunshine.

Day Five—Thursday—Georgetown, Grand Cayman
Cucina del Capitano
Another good nights sleep and calm seas.  We arrived and anchored off Grand Cayman before 7:00 am this morning.  I slept in as we have no plans for the day on shore.  MDR was open & closed early so I went to Havana Bar for a nice omelet and ate with some our group.  We only have one going ashore today for a dive excursion.  The girls have a Pajama Party planned for the day, they locked themselves in one of the suites with a supply of goodies for the day.  It was cabin time for me until noon when I had a Cucina del Capitano lunch.  The guys met at the Red Frog Rum Bar at 1:00 pm for a tube of beer.  I also had the Mango Magic…very nice cocktail.  A nice lazy afternoon on board ship.  We sailed about 4:00 pm and the VIFP Party was held at 4:30 in the Liquid Lounge.  Butch, the CD, did a good job keeping the party exciting. There were 16 Diamond Guests on board and two of our group were the senior guests on board.  We had excellent bar service from servers we have been using for two weeks+.  The party continued on to Ocean Plaza until we had to get ready for our 8:15 dinner. For dinner tonight I ordered the Pasta, Escargot, Seafood Platter, and Chateaubriand.  For dessert it was Baked Alaska and a Fruit Plate as Ken sang again for us tonight and the wait team did the song: What Does the Fox Say?  I did not need an evening cocktail and retired early for some cabin time before retiring.

Day Six--Friday--Cozumel, Mexico

Woody's Bar in Cozumel
A bright sunny day as we approach Cozumel.  We have the later 10:00 am arrival today so time for some early morning activities.  I got the DW a breakfast plate from the Ocean Plaza then went to the Sunrise MDR for a nice breakfast: Melon, Eggs Benedict, Bacon, Corned Beef Hash & Leche Caliente.  Then I met our group up at the Havana Bar.  We are docked next to the Carnival Magic, and the Navigator of the Seas is nearby, two of our favorite ships.  There are six total docked in Cozumel today.  DW and I left the ship about 10:40 am and took a taxi ($8) to San Miguel and went to Woody’s.  Soon we were joined by the others in the group and ended up spending the entire day at Woody's.  We started with Bloody Mary’s and Nelly brought me a nice large birthday Margarita that started the day off very well.  I've been able to celebrate several days the past two weeks!  It was warm and humid, but we had a nice rainstorm about 1:30 pm and after retreating to the interior rooms,  then had very nice pleasent weather for the rest of the day.  We had a great day at Woody’s enjoying: WiFi, Cocktails, Cervezas, Margaritas, Guacamole, shopping, and FUN.  About 3:30pm we got a taxi-van for 9 ($20) and all returned to the Puerto Maya pier and I was soon on the ship eating a Guy’s burger.  I had some cabin time and later most met at the Alchemy for the Friday Martini Tasting (4 different small ones - $16--see video at bottom).  I skipped the sampler and had a Curative Peach cocktail.  Dinner was good, I ordered the Lasagna (as a starter), two Shrimp Cocktails, Petit Filet Mignon / Short Rib combination entree and Butter Pecan Ice Creme for dessert.  I really suspect that I had a Flat Iron and not a filet.  As a Texan we don’t consider a Flat Iron a ‘real’ steak.  Some went to Punchliners, others the casino, and more to the Alchemy.  Another FUN day.

Day Seven--Saturday--at Sea

Havana Bar on Carnival Sunshine
I had a very good restful nights sleep and it’s a beautiful day with smooth seas.  I had a light breakfast in the Ocean Plaza then met our friends in the Havana Bar (photo left). The Havana Bar has been a great meeting location for our group especially with most cabins nearby.   At 11:00 am we all met for the Sea Day Brunch in the MDR as we did the previous Saturday.  I had the Steak & Eggs and the steak was excellent, much better than the steak at dinner the night before.  Most used their drink vouchers for Bloody Marys’, thanks again to Ken for arranging the large table for brunch.  After brunch I reviewed my ship account, they have two kiosks that will print your statement for you and save a trip to Guest Services.  Unfortunately they do not have an interactive TV system.  I had cabin time this afternoon and was updating email and online with the final minutes I have left on my small internet package (120 Minutes for $59.00 ($0.49/min)).  After a bit of work in the cabin we went to the Alchemy Bar for an early aperitif at the 4:00 pm opening.  We attended the 7:15 pm production show: Epic Rock, the best show of the week.  Dinner was very good, they prepared an encore of Carnival’s signature disk: Speghetti Carbonara for the table.  Tonight  I ordered two Shrimp Cocktails, Sweet Potato Soup, and the Panko Crusted Jumbo Shrimp. For dessert I had the Grand Marnier Souffle.  Following dinner I went to my favorite bar, The Alchemy, for two wonderful Deal Closers.  Since we are well in the Mississippi River I had wifi from my personal hotspot so checked some late email and arrange some items to pack for the following morning.

Debarkation
We arrived back in NOLA very early.  I was up early as I had not really started packing. I began to pack about 6:00 am and at 7:00 am headed to deck three.  We just arrived at the VIP staging area in the Sunset Dining Room when they started the VIP debark.  They had the casual inspection at Customs and I was soon to the elevator and at 5A our parking area and in the new car by 7:40 am.  There was again a light mist so the indoor parking did come in very handy.  We were soon on Interstate 10 heading to Texas.  Between the large statue of Sam Houston on I-45 and Huntsville the temperature dropped from 75° to 45° within 3 miles.  We later ran into a freak ice storm near Mexia about 3:00 pm so spent the night there at the new Holiday Inn Express.  It was actually very nice, we had a great king room, pizza, and watched the Oscars on TV.  It took us 1.5 hours to get twenty miles and beyond the ice when leaving the next morning, but where at the ranch by 1:00 pm on Monday.

Crew / Staff
What an excellent week we had with the crew.  Our wait team in the MDR, Senvile, I Gusti, and Wisnu, are the best I have ever had as a team on Carnival. Both the new team and previous weeks team were all giving us a lot of attention during this week.  Then to be reunited with Antonio my cabin steward from the Sunshine transatlantic was great.  He is one of the best ever as well.  He always kept our cooler full of ice and our cabin spotless.  I was able to again meet many ships officers through the Diamond reception. The bartenders were all great.  Bar servers all very good. Ken Byrne as always is awesome as both singer and Matre’D. The future cruise representative, Hai, was very efficient.  Of course the Alchemy crew of Ioana, Miro, and Cornelius were outstanding.  Video below: Ioana pouring for the ladies!

Food / Drink
I found the food overall to be good. The Pastelitos de Guayaba y Queso from the Havana Bar at breakfast were great. In fact all breakfast venues are very good.  The waiters brought 3-4 cheese plates for dinner every night…excellent touch.

Cabin
We had cabin 5317 a category 4D interior on deck 5.  I love the location and as mentioned I have the same cabin steward that I had on the 16-day transatlantic cruise.  I had fears that the cabin would feel very small, but hopeful as well since it’s a ‘new’ cabin. As it turned out I was very pleased.  It has plenty of room since it has no couch or table and we didn’t miss the couch but could have used the table.  The cabin has a very comfortable twin/queen bed, refrigerator, full length mirror, two bed side tables with lamps, push button safe, three section wardrobe with shelves, sconce lighting at vanity, stool at vanity, standard small bathroom.  It’s really just fine and I’m glad we didn’t upgrade.

Cruise Highlights

Sailing with Snoozemates
MDR wait team of: Senvile, I Gusti, &  Wisnu
Diamond Cocktail Party
Alchemy Bar & team
Pastelitos de Guayaba y Queso from the Havana Bar

Another FUN cruise with Good Friends!!

video  

 

 

Thanks to John J, Kaye G, & Zydeco for photos

Carnival Sunshine Cruise Review

 

Carnival Sunshine Cruise Review

February 16, 2014

Just The Facts
Ship:  Carnival Sunshine
Ship Captain: Roberto Leotta   
Cruise Director: Butch Begovich
Ports: New Orleans, Roatan, Belize, Cozumel
Weather:  Excellent all week

This is my 40th Carnival cruise, 3rd time on the Carnival Sunshine, and 86th cruise overall. I am cruising with my dear wife (DW) and the fantastic group of experienced cruisers: the Snoozemates.  As well as 688 fellow Bloggers on John Heald’s 7th annual Bloggers Cruise (BC7).  My first Bloggers cruise was BC2 also sailing from New Orleans on the Fantasy so we have come full circle. This is also the first week of a Back-to-Back (B2B) cruise.

Day Zero--Saturday--Travel
We overslept and was awakened by a call from our car dealer so a bit of a late start.  The good news is that we are driving our brand new 2014 GMC Acadia.  We left the ranch about 10:30 am and headed south again using the same wonderful Texas backroads I traveled last month on the way to NOLA. The weather was good, the drive wonderful, and we arrived in Gonzales, Louisiana about 7:00 pm. to stay overnight at the LaQuinta.  We visited the new Cabela’s store just up the street...it’s a huge store with museum, aquarium, and more...a very interesting sporting goods operation.  Most of the Snoozemates’ are partying in the French Quarter this evening and I know having a great time.

Day One--Sunday--Embarkation
Beautiful Serenity Deck on Carnival Sunshine
We left Gonzales about 9:45 am for the easy one hour drive to NOLA and the cruise terminal arriving about 10:45 am.  We parked at the official port of NOLA Julia Street Terminal.  It is pricey @ $16.00 a day, but it has a baggage drop, covered parking for the new car, and it’s just an elevator ride down to cruise check-in area. Also since we are cruising for two weeks and they only collect for one it is a value this trip.  Down the elevator to the nice VIP area for check-in and we were processed about 11:30.  We then proceeded to boarding and it was very busy, but we made it on board and to our cabin about noon.  We have an aft facing balcony on deck 8.  We began seeing friends immediately as their cabins are all in the area  Then it was up to the Havana Bar were we had some group tables for cocktails and Mongolian Grill (JiJi’s) for lunch.  This is a great spot for our group to meet as it’s directly above our cabins and one has the choice of Cuban Food, Mongolian Grill, Cucina Del Capitano (Italian), or the Lido Buffet across the way.  Many thought the Cuban Iced Tea from the Havana Bar was an excellent cocktail.  Some explored the ship, I returned to my cabin and my bag arrived, but none of the others.  Boat Drill was about 4:00 pm, and we sailed away about 4:30 pm.  DW was getting somewhat concerned with no bag as yet, but it seemed many had not received all their luggage.  The first bloggers event was Welcome Cocktails in the Liquid Lounge at 5:00 pm and it was a full house of Bloggers.  I enjoyed a few Funship Specials and visited with friends and bloggers, a FUN event.  Following it was time for a visit to the Alchemy Bar then to the cabin to prepare for dinner.  DW’s bags had arrived and all is now well.  Matre’D Ken arranged for three excellent tables in the center of the dining room for our group. Perfect.  It is traditional Carnival menu items tonight and I had the Creme of Sun-ripened Tomato Soup, Linguine & Sausage as a starter, Gazpacho, the Tilapa entree, and two desserts: the Creme Brulee & the Black Forest Gateau Cake. The shops do not open until we are out of the Mississippi River, but the casino and bars are doing a brisk business.  Most of the group who had partied in the French Quarter the previous night made it an early night.  I retired soon after to get some last minute free internet time while in the river and rest.  A great first day.

Day Two--Monday--at Sea
Snoozemates 'Morning Glory' Party
Very calm in the Gulf of Mexico and I had a very good nights sleep.  Nice and sunny today and quickly warming.  DW ordered her usual room service breakfast and about 8:40 am I went up to the Havana Bar and had a very nice omelet from the omelet station.  Soon I was joined by several other Snoozemates arriving for breakfast.  Nice to have a designated meeting area.  At 10:15 we went down to Piano Bar 88 for our private ‘Morning Glory’ cocktail party.  This is one of the new cocktail party options on Carnival and the first held on the Carnival Sunshine.  Cocktails include: Mimosas, Bloody Marys, Belinnis, Screwdrivers, House Sparkling Wine, Red Wine, White Wine, Sodas, Regular Coffee and Tea.  in the spirit of the morning event many wore pajamas and EVERYONE arrived in their white Carnival cabin bathrobes.  Very funny.  With just our small group the service was excellent, thanks Jermaine, and very soon everyone was in a very spirited mood.  After the party we all met in the Havana Bar area to continue the party and have lunch.  People had their favorites including Guy’s Burgers, Mongolian Grill, or Pasta from the Cucina. The ‘Havana Iced Tea’ from the bar was very good too.  Several had enrolled in the Cocktail Seminar at the Alchemy Bar this afternoon and several attended the ‘Friends of John H’ cocktail party in the Limelight Lounge.  It was nice visiting with  other friends and bloggers. This was certainly a full day for cocktails so by 5:00 I needed a nice nap that extended into cabin time for the rest of the evening.  DW had a nice dinner from Lido so we didn’t make it to the MDR this evening.  The rest of the group enjoyed various activities including:  the Casino, the production show Latin Nights, Adam Coe in the Red Frog, The Swamp Thang Band was in the Ocean Plaza, Ben in the Piano Bar, and Percy Crews was in the comedy club with late shows. 

Day Three--Tuesday—at Sea
Captain's Diamond Guest Luncheon
The ship rocked a little more, but another good nights sleep as we entered the Caribbean this morning. An invitation under the door this morning for a luncheon changed my plans for breakfast, I’ll save the sea Day Brunch for the last sea day.  I had another great omelet from the omelet station then enjoyed a bowl of fruit on our balcony.  It’s a beautiful day and the large balcony is wonderful.  We were invited to the Captain’s Luncheon for Diamond guests in the Steakhouse 55 at noon so we went to the Library Bar for a glass of wine prior, this is the only bar on the Sunshine that I had not previously visited.  They have an automatic wine dispenser as well as a small bar.  At noon we entered the Steakhouse, they had assigned seating and we sat with friends that I knew, Caroline the Guest Services Manager, and  Linda the Housekeeping Director.  They had a set menu with choice of entree between Salmon or Chicken.  I started with the unique mini salad of mozzarella cheese and cherry tomatoes, pasta course of spaghetti, the Chicken Roulade entree with a mushroom creme sauce, and a selection of three small Creme Brûlées for dessert.  They also served wonderful breads with three flavors of butter, choice of wines, sparkling water, and sides of Spinach and Creamed Potatoes. They prepared a vegetarian dish of Mixed Vegetables in a phyllo wrap for DW.  It was a very nice and enjoyable lunch experience. Thanks Carnival.  There was a Crazy cocktail party after lunch and balcony time, but I was really looking forward to the Alchemy Bar opening at 4:00.  I was carrying messages from the Triumph Alchemy bar crew for the Sunshine Alchemy bar crew and had not had a chance to deliver them.  Great fun with them and other Diamond friends at the Alchemy.  We went down to the Limelight/Punchliner to see Al Ernst’s comedy show at 6:45, he has become a regular for Bloggers cruises and was very funny as usual.  The Snoozemate’s crew then met up in the Ocean Plaza area for an aperitif.  Dinner was good tonight, I ordered the French Onion Soup, Pasta, the Short Ribs entree, and Strawberry Cheesecake for dessert.  Motor City was the production show this evening and they had the big Mardi Gras Party in the lobby area.  The group split up for various FUN activities this evening.

Day Four— Wednesday--Roatan, Honduras
Mahogany Bay - Roatan
Calm seas and a good nights sleep.  I was up early and watched us back into the pier at Mahogany Bay, we were docked before 7:00 am.  Since it’s a port day the breakfast venues opened early and I went down the The Sunrise MDR for Melon, Omelet, Corned Beef Hash, and Bacon.  DW did room service as usual.  We were in no rush as we didn’t have any specific plans and went ashore about 10:00 am.  We walked to the beach and it was very crowded with both the Carnival Dream and Sunshine docked.  We headed back to the shopping area and there saw our friends so decided on a few drinks at Fat Tuesdays that soon became 15 friends, 7-8 buckets of beer, cocktails and nachos.  What a wonderful group we have.  I returned to the ship about 2:30 and had a Guy’s burger then went to the Serenity Deck to cool off in the swimming pool and waterfall.  After almost an hour of lying in the warm sun I had another Guy’s burger on the way back to the cabin for a short nap. One of the group had a wonderful sail away cocktail party for us at 6:00 pm in their suite.  Excellent  h’orderves, small bar,  wines, and snacks.  Thank you very much.  It was now time for dinner, I ordered the Tom Kai Guy soup, the very good Bowtie Pasta with Turkey, the Lamb entree, and Bitter & Blanc and Tiramisu for dessert.  John Heald brought in a special entertainer for just the blogger group, Gronway Thom, so we attended his one and only show at 10:00 pm in the Liquid Lounge.  He is a comedy juggler with a lot of audience participation and should be seen at least once.  Not everyone's cup-of-tea, but I found him very entertaining.  It was now time for my late cocktail, The Deal Closer, from the Alchemy Bar before retiring.  Another great day on the Carnival Sunshine.

Day Five—Thursday--Belize
Maitre’D Ken Byrne
Another good nights sleep and calm seas.  I was up early again and it was a beautiful Caribbean Sunrise as we approached Belize.  We were anchored about 8:00 am near the Carnival Glory.  Some day they will have a pier here, but for a long while this will remain a tender port.   It is about a 15-20 minute ride from the ship to the pier in Belize City.  I went to the MDR for breakfast and ordered Eggs Benedict, Potatoes, Bacon, and Corned Beef Hash.  It was very good.  DW had room service with extra tea, honey and lemon for her sore throat.  I went to a Bloggers Q&A event hosted by John Heald in the Red Frog Pub at 10:00 am.  It was cabin time following until noon when I had a very nice Mongolian Grill for lunch.  A lazy afternoon on board ship as I decided not to go ashore.  We sailed about 4:15 pm and the VIFP party was held at 4:30 in the Liquid Lounge.  Butch, the CD, did a good job keeping the party exciting. There were 44 Diamond Guests on board.  The party continued into the Red Frog Pub and actually continued until 8:15 dinner with most Snoozemates coming and going as they prepared for dinner.  When I returned I had a birthday ‘Fish Bowl’ size cocktail I was only able to finish with the help of friends.  For dinner I ordered the Eggplant, Escargot, Pasta, and Chateaubriand.  For dessert it was Birthday Cake and Baked Alaska as the waiters and Maitre’D Ken Byrne sang Happy Birthday for me. Very nice…thanks friends.  Ken sang again for us tonight and the MDR wait team did the song: What Does the Fox Say?  Most of the venues again had good entertainment scheduled, but I had a Cherry Kiss and a ‘Deal Closer’ at the Alchemy Bar as my nightcaps and retired by 11:30. A FUN and interesting day.


Day Six--Friday--Cozumel, Mexico
Carnival Sunshine docked at Puerto Maya Cozumel
A bright sunny day as we approach Cozumel.  DW is still feeling under the weather so is planning a cabin day, I’m glad we have the aft balcony this week for her benefit. I watched the Freedom of the Seas and Navigator of the Seas follow us in and dock next to us at the International pier then I went down to the Sunset MDR for a nice breakfast of Fried Eggs, Bacon, CB Hash, Potatoes, Melon, and Leche Caliente.  By the time I finished we were docked with the Carnival Magic next to us.  Today  the girls went to Paradise Beach and the guys went to San Miguel.  We made our HQ at Woody’s Bar owned by my friend Nelly and used her super fast internet and three of us got haircuts from my barber Martin.  Great people watching place as we enjoyed Cerveza, Coca-Cola Light, Guacamole & Chips, and Tequila.  About 2:00 pm we were joined by some of the ladies and we went to Wet Windy’s for their great Margaritas and to eat.  It was quite a feast.  We got a taxi and returned to the Puerto Maya pier and was back in the cabin by 4:00.  After cleaning up we met in the suite above the gangway for the 5:00 pm sail away, always fun to see the late runners and the waves from the guest on the Magic as we back away from the pier.  I took a nap and DW was not feeling up for dinner so I had room service with her this evening and we had a casual cabin evening and watched the Winter Olympics on TV.  I know the group enjoyed the casino, the Hasbro Game show, the Punchliner Comedy Shows, and more.

Day Seven—Saturday—February 22—at Sea
What Does the Fox Say?
I had a very good long and restful nights sleep.  Today is my birthday.  Smooth seas and I was up early again this morning.  I enjoyed a good breakfast at the Sea Day Brunch, I ordered the Steak & Eggs and it was prepared very well.  After brunch I had cabin time and reviewed my ship account, they have two kiosks that will print your statement for you and save a trip to Guest Services.  Unfortunately they do not have an interactive TV system. The morning was very nice and sunny and guests enjoyed the outdoor activities.  Our group including DW who is now feeling better met at 11:30 am and had the Sea Day Brunch (lunch for me) in the Sunrise MDR.  We did a ‘girl’ table and a ‘boy’ table as we have been known to do.  I ordered the Tomato Soup, Grilled Pork Chop, and ice creme for dessert. It was very good.  It was a good sea day and I was greeted by many on board with birthday greetings including a call from Guest Services.  The weather got cooler once we reached a cold front late in the afternoon, but guests have had great weather all cruise.  At 4:00 pm liquor can be taken from the Ship shop so I got a bottle of spiced rum for the following week. The production Show this evening was:   Epic Rock, perhaps the best show of the week, we hope to attend more shows next week.  The group met for cocktails before dinner in the Ocean Plaza, a good location as you can order Alchemy cocktails or standard bar cocktails or beer from the Red Frog as both haver severs in that area.  We had all our tables full for our final dinner,  I ordered the Grilled Chicken Breast on Fettuccine and two Panko Crusted Jumbo Shrimp.  For dessert I had the Grand Manier Souffle.  Ken sang again for us again tonight and the wait team again did the song: What Does the Fox Say?  Much better than the usual Bags are Packed song.  Following dinner I went to my favorite bar, The Alchemy.  Since we are now well in the Mississippi River I had wifi from my personal hotspot so checked some late email and arrange some items to pack for the following morning.

Debarkation
We arrived back in NOLA very early and I was up and using the internet by 5:00 am.  It will be an easy Debark as we are actually staying on board ship. We started packing about 7:00 am as we do have to change cabins today.  I went up to Lido for a very nice omelet. Then we began our B2B process. Easy.

Crew / Staff
I found the crew to be very good as on all previous Sunshine sailings.  I was able to again meet many ships officers through the Diamond reception and VIFP party. The ship is in very capable hands.  My cabin steward team was adequate, our MDR waiters were much better than my previous Sunshine cruise.  The bartenders were all great.  Bar servers all very good. Ken Byrne as always is awesome as both singer and Matre’D.  I enjoyed getting to know Linda the HouseKeeping Manager and sat with Caroline the Guest Services manager again, such a sweetheart. John Heald’s Blogger staff did a great job, I also enjoyed seeing Stephanie who used to be on John’s team and is now on her last week as the ACD on the Sunshine. 

Cabin
We had cabin 8330 a category 8N aft facing balcony on deck 8.  It is the first time I have had an original cabin on the ship.  We have had this cabin location on many Carnival ships and the cabin is slightly smaller, but the balcony is very nice perhaps even larger than the same location on Conquest class and definitely larger than Dream class ships.  Great balcony, cabin not so much.  The cabin is the usual layout with glass door at balcony (not sliding), full couch, three closets (a bit smaller), nice table, one bed stand (no lamps), push button safe, and stool at dresser/desk.  No mini refrigerator, no mirror.  The new downside to this cabin is the music late at night from the Havana Bar, it didn’t bother me, but it did friends in similar cabins.

Needs improvement
They should have never sold any FTTF (Fastest to the Fun) passes since there were well over 600+ Priority Guests booked.  They could not properly handle that many VIP’s and baggage wasn’t delivered until 8:00 pm for many.  Also that was too many cabins to have ready at boarding, ours was only half way prepared and some not ready at all.  One should not believe the claims that FTTF’s are not sold on sailings with many VIFP’s booked, they are.

Cruise Highlights
Sailing with Snoozemates & other Blogger Friends.  It’s always nice to see friends and familiar faces all week long on the ship.  The Alchemy Bar is my favorite bar by far.  The Diamond Luncheon was wonderful.


Another Great Bloggers Cruise !

Thanks to John J,  Kaye G,  &  Zydeco for photos