Monday, May 15, 2017

Carnival Breeze Cruise Review May 14, 2017

 Carnival Breeze Cruise Review 5/14/17

Just the Facts:
Ship: Carnival Breeze
Captain: Vincenzo Alcaras
Hotel Director: Damir Mrsic
Cruise Director:  Schwartz
Ports: Galveston - Cozumel Mexico - Belize - Isla Roatan - Galveston

This is my 70th Carnival cruise, the 6th time on the Carnival Breeze, and 128th cruise overall.  I am cruising with the dear wife (DW) and this is her first cruise on the Breeze.  i am looking forward to the updates on the ship as the Breeze has just come from a dry dock the week prior.

Sunday / Travel /  Embarkation / May 14, 2017 / Day 1
Newly added Alchemy Bar
We left the ranch about 8:00 am well after our former usual scheduled departure time as I have found it easier to take our time and board after the initial rush.  We stopped at the Waller Buc*ees and then arrived at EZ Cruise Parking about 1:00 pm. We were shuttled with our bags over to the ship soon afterward.  Priority works very well at this time as we bypass the long line outside the terminal. We were checked in at the ViFP priority check-in area and boarded about 1:30 pm.  it was a smooth process.  DW checked her bag And I wheeled my large duffle on board with me to our cabin on Main deck (deck two) and relaxed for a bit and then began setting up.  We did go to Lido for a lunch, Mongolian Grill for me, then returned to finish cabin set-up before muster drill.  Our muster location for the Safety Drill is inside the Ovation Theater.  Following we went to the Alchemy Bar for a cocktail. The Alchemy is newly installed and located in the Ocean Plaza area.  They actually sell some beers and wine due to its location in center of the ship and being the only bar in the area.  We had a nice visit with the Alchemists Brian and Antal. Very soon we were sailing away and we took a walk about the ship to familiarize DW with the Breeze and get a soft serve ice creme.  We did notice the new Pandora retail shop on board. DW’s bag was delivered by the time we arrived back at the cabin and we met our cabin steward Ferry.  We had a nice lazy evening.  We watched the movie Keeping Up with the Jones’s and ordered room service…I had two wonderful BLT’s. So no MDR nor Welcome Show for us tonight, but a nice relaxing and restful evening.  It was a very nice first day aboard he Carnival Breeze.

Monday / Fun day at Sea / May 15th / Day 2
Damir, DW, Milan, Moi at Diamond party
Smooth seas overnight and I slept very well.  I went up to Lido deck to get a nice Huevos Rancheros breakfast from the Blue Iguana, very nice.  I took a continental breakfast back to the cabin for DW.  We relaxed in the cabin and watched a movie while preparing for the Diamond Guest gathering at 11:00 am in the Piano Bar.  We were sitting  in the outer area of the Piano Barr 88 when they opened the door for the Diamond event. It was good to see crew that I know including Hotel Manager Damir and Beverage Manager Milan.  There were only four Diamonds in attendance.  We had a nice visit with the Captain about Sicily. They served very nice h’orderves & a dessert and of course the Bellini cocktails were very good.  We did take advantage of the full hour of hospitality.  The piano bar on Breeze is unique in that it can be closed for a private party or in it’s usual open concept with areas extending into the promenade.  We went down to the Blush Restaurant for the final hour of the Sea Day Brunch, I had the Tomato Soup and the Hey Pork Chop with Banana Creme Pie for dessert.  When we returned to the cabin there was the usual chocolate plate for ViFP’s delivered on Captains Cruise Elegant night…the rest of the afternoon was cabin time for movies or nap as needed.  We had decided we were not going to eat in the MDR this cruise, so about 7:30 we went up to the Lido Marketplace for dinner.  I had Spaghetti Carbonara, Stuffed Chicken Breast, Roast Beef, Baked Potato, Fresh Broccoli, Mushroom Soup, and Key Lime Cake.  A great meal.  Following dinner we went to the Piano Bar 88 to meet Milan for cocktails. I was able to visit with my favorite Carnival bartender and friend Jana. I successfully sneaked in the bar and ordered a Jana-88 cocktail from the server so she didn’t see me or know I was there until she got the order.   A nice surprise.  We ended up staying for a full long set of Piano Entertainment by Gregg.  It was a fun evening, thank you Milan, Jana, and Tatiana.  We retired after 11:00 pm to the cabin.  The Platinum/Diamond gift was delivered tonight: a compact travel backpack.  It was a great sea day on the Carnival Breeze.

Tuesday / Cozumel Mexico / May 16th / Day 3
Puerto Maya Pier
Smooth seas overnight and we both again slept very well.  We were docking at Puerto Maya pier about 7:30 am so that was basically a wake up call as they began announcements about 8:00 am.  I went down to the Blush MDR for breakfast.  The assistant Maitre’D recognized me and asked why I had not been to the MDR…they have a two top table for us.  Maybe soon.  As guests were filing off the ship I had a nice breakfast of fried eggs, bacon, ham, hash browns, melon, and more.  The Breeze is the only ship in Cozumel today so it was easy to get a taxi when we left the ship about 10:00 am.  We went by the San Miguel church, then Antonio’s Barber Shop for my much needed haircut.  DW did some shopping then we ended up at  Woody’s Bar & Grill our Cozumel HQ.  The Coca-Cola’s, Guacamole, Pico de Gallo, Bohemia beer, fast internet, and live music by Pako were great as usual.  Before leaving town we purchased some pharmaceuticals then taxi back to Puerto Maya.  We were early so shopped a bit and purchased some Vanilla at Cinco Soles.  Smooth process boarding and we were soon resting in the cabin from the very warm day.  Our cabin was a very nice 68°.  About 4:00ish I had a Guy’s Burger and DW Guy’s Fries.  The Playlist Production tonight was 88 Keys one of the better shows in the Ovation Theater.  As we have seen the show several times we enjoyed the evening doing a little walk about on deck and noticed the large number of guests watching the outdoor movie on Lido deck.  We relaxed this evening in the cabin with our own movie time.  It was a very nice Cozumel Day.

Wednesday / Belize / May 17th / Day 4
Reflection in Cucina Restaurant window deck 11
Again very calm seas over night and another great nights sleep.  I went to the Blush MDR for a repeat of yesterdays breakfast, it was even better.  I barely made it to the Banana bread station before they took them off, but I bagged the rest for DW and the cabin.  Beautiful day today in Belize and guests are tendering away to get to shore.  We’re going to stay on the ship.  We enjoy staying on the ship on some port days as you have better use of the ship; however, looks like a lot of other guests have the same idea today as the pools are relatively full. It was very warm on deck so in the pool was a relief.  Just after noon we went to the Cucina Del Capitano for a nice Italian lunch. You select your own pasta, sauces, and toppings in a pasta bowl that is prepared for you. I had two Pasta Bowls as I like two different styles: A linguini with tomato sauce and cherry tomatoes only, and Bowtie pasta with chicken, sausage, onions, & zucchini with Bolognese sauce.  Sides are bread and Caesar Salad.  It was a very good lunch and free during the day, there is a service charge for the premium menu in the evening. The food was very good and it was not too busy on this port day.  This afternoon we had a Better Call Saul marathon.  I had previously downloaded season one so we watched the first four episodes.  A very good show.  At 7:00  pm we went down to the Piano Bar to visit with Jana and Tatiana before they get busy and enjoy some cocktails.  DW had not seen the show Flick so we got seats in upper center to enjoy the show.  It’s probably the most unique show on Carnival with the use of fans and graphics.  I had seen it several times on the Breeze and Vista and thought this the weakest cast, but still a good show.  After the show we retired to the cabin and ordered room service.  I wanted to try the delivered Pizza and it arrived in about 40 minutes.  It was awful, but at least I now know.  The Pizza Plus station on Lido has much better pizza. Fortunately I also ordered Buffalo Wings and they were good although not great.  Based on tonight and previous orders, the french fries are the only good items of the ‘pay’ portion of menu, I will stick with the tried and true items on the free side of room service in the future. We watched another late episode of Saul before retiring.  It was a nice port day ON the Carnival Breeze.

Thursday  /  Mahogany Bay, Roatan Island, Honduras  /  May 18th / Day 5
Calm seas with a few rolls overnight and another good nights sleep.  The ship thrusters woke us about 7:00 am as Mahogany Bay is a difficult bay to enter for large ships. We were docked by 8:00 am but we are being lazy this morning.  I did go to Blush MDR just before the 9:00 am closing for a wonderful Eggs Benedict breakfast.  DW had room service breakfast.  We got off the ship and only walked around a few shops and the craft area of Mahogany Bay port area.  It was very hot and humid day so we returned to the ship's cool Lobby Bar for a wonderful Mango Daiquiri.  Then we both and a wonderful lunch, I had a great Mongolian Grill and she a Taco Bowl from the Blue Iguana.  Soft Serve ice creme for dessert.  The rest of the afternoon was a Better Call Saul marathon of three episodes.  We went up to the Lido Marketplace for dinner about 7:00 pm.  I had every entree offered in the MDR and two of four (Breaded Chicken and Turkey from carving station) were excellent.  Salad and Baked Potato sides and Apple Plum Pudding for dessert.  After dinner we stopped by the Piano Bar for a cocktail with Janna.  The primary entertainment was Hasbro, the Game Show, but we retired to the cabin for DW’s regular network TV shows and I updated this review and worked on a possible fall trip to the Balkans.  It was a relaxing day in Roatan and the Breeze.

Friday / Fun day at Sea / May 19th / Day 6
Alchemy Beer - a first
Smooth seas with only a few minor bumps overnight and I slept very well. I was up early and had a good internet connection…it has been poor wifi most of the cruise.  I went to the Blue Iguana for Huevos Rancheros for breakfast and DW had room service as usual.  It’s a beautiful day and very pleasant on deck this morning. There are a lot of activities today: Towel Animal Theater, The Military Appreciation Gathering, Trivia, Ice Carving, Bingo, and more.  We did a walk about and enjoined the sea air this morning and we had Guy’s Pig & Anchor BBQ.  I enjoyed the pulled Pork Butt, BBQ Chicken, Slaw, & Bread. DW had the Macaroni & Cheese (served cold…more of a macaroni salad), Potato Salad, & Slaw.  It is an improvement from Jimmy’s C-side BBQ.  They also serve Beef Brisket, Sausage, Greens, BBQ Beans, and more.  This afternoon we did several more episodes of Better Call Saul.  About 4:30 pm I went up to the Alchemy Bar and had a few Pilsner Urquell beers.  The first beers I’ve ever been served at an Alchemy Bar.   I also tried a new cocktail (for me) a Death in the Afternoon a Ernest Hemingway inspired drink consisting of Absinthe and Champagne.  Very dry, very strong, and very good.  The Breeze Playlist Production show tonight was:  County Road,  a journey of the Ramsey Boys singing selections of the places they visit and people they see…Carnival really needed a new country themed production and this will please many guests and good choice for the Breeze.  We really just had a few assorted snacks this evening and again skipped the MDR.  Not really missing it and now actually making an effort to skip it this cruise...just for a new experience.  Good music and comedy on the ship tonight and I did catch the Carnival Breeze orchestra section (Yes a live band on the Breeze) in the Ocean Plaza.  It was a relaxing and Fun sea day on the Carnival Breeze.

Saturday / Fun day at Sea / May 20th / Day 7
Smooth seas overnight and we had a nice sleep on this our final sea day. We had room service
Our porthole cabin
delivered about 8:00 am and about 10:15 am I went down to the Blush MDR for a proper Sea Day Brunch.  I had banana nut bread, the fruit plate, steak & eggs, bacon side, potatoes, and more.  It was a very good and filling breakfast.  Guests were on deck enjoying the perfect weather this morning.  DW began some packing.  We did a mid-day walk about and amazingly the lines for Blue Iguana were longer than I had ever seen, I guess many waited until the last day to try it.  Also a big line for the Chocolate Extravaganza.  We watched a few more episodes of Better Call Saul in the afternoon then I went up for a Guy’s Burger about 4:00pm.  The big event for us today is the Diamond Platinum party at 5:00 in the Limelight Lounge.  We had as many cocktails as we wished and they provided nice hors d'oeuvres and entertainment.  Also nice seeing the officers and staff again. Schwartz, the Cruise Director, did a good job and i actually won the award for senior Diamond on the cruise with 508 days. DW had 248.  It was a party night for us as we went by to visit Jana and Tatijana in the Piano Bar and the Alchemists at the Alchemy Bar.  A fun evening on everyone’s last night on the ship.

Sunday / Galveston / May 21st / Debarkation

Smooth seas overnight going into Galveston and I heard the thrusters very early so we were docked well before scheduled arrival.  We left the cabin about 8:30 and were off the ship quickly.  There was a long line through U.S. Customs but it wasn’t a long wait. We rode the shuttle to the EZ Cruise parking lot, stopped for  McDonald’s biscuits, then gas ($2.09) and was on the Causeway off the island at 9:30am.  We drove to George Bush Airport and parked for our next adventure: a flight to Europe and a Batic cruise.

We had cabin 2221 a Porthole located on deck 2 far forward on starboard side.  I love it. It was the coolest cabin I have ever had actually dropping to 65° at one time. Great shower pressure and water temperature too.  I was originally booked as a solo in a 1A just a few cabins forward, but upgraded to this one at final pmt time…so glad I did since DW joined me on the cruise.  It’s fine for two people with the three section wardrobe, couch, swipe type safe, one electrical outlet (two plugs) on counter/dresser, Telephone on desk, Small Stool at Dresser, Kleenex dispenser, and Hair dryer in drawer, and small flat screen TV with the interactive features.  There is an empty refrigerator. My cabin steward was very good, the cabin was always clean and ice container filled.

Dining / Food / Bars / Entertainment

Both Main Dining Rooms are nice especially the Blush Dining room, but for the first time ever we did not eat in the MDR a single night. The Blue iguana for Burritos and Guy’s Burgers are excellent.  The buffet food is pretty standard fare, but selected entrees are very good.  The saucers for coffee cups as well as tablecloths are now gone from breakfast tables. The Mongolian Grill and Cucina del Capitano are great options for lunch or dinner at a fee.  The new Alchemy Bar on the Breeze is in the Ocean Plaza a bit different.  I also thoroughly enjoyed my aperitifs at the Piano Bar with Jana.

The entire ship crew are very friendly, they themselves can make the cruise more enjoyable for the guest. Waiters and Cabin stewards especially very friendly. They always seemed to have a smile on their face and eager to please the guests. The excellent training by Carnival is quite obvious.  The Ship Officers are fantastic…they really seem to enjoy working as a team and are very friendly.  i have never had so many crew call me by name on any previous cruise.

Diamond Guest Cocktail Party with Captain & Senior Officers
Carnival Breeze Crew members
Cozumel Day
Platinum / Diamond Party

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