Sunday, December 4, 2016

Carnival Breeze Cruise Reviews - December 2016

Carnival Breeze Cruise Review
12/4/2016 and 12/11/2016
Just the Facts:
Ship: Carnival Breeze
Captain: Vincenzo Alcaras
Cruise Director:  Leigh Xuereb
Ports: Galveston - Key West - Freeport Bahamas - Nassau Bahamas - Galveston - Montego Bay - Grand Cayman - Cozumel - Galveston

I had week two of this cruise booked for a long while but later booked the week prior since the same cabin was available … so I will be doing a B2B cruise on the Breeze.  I will chronicle both in one review.   This is my 64th & 65th Carnival cruise, the 4th/5th time on the Carnival Breeze, and 121st/122nd cruises overall.  I am cruising as a solo.

Sunday / Travel /  Embarkation / December 4, 2016 / Day 1
Rainy Sail Away
I left the ranch about 7:45 am well after my usual scheduled departure time since there were flash flood warnings for my route to Houston area and I wanted to drive in daylight.  I did hit rain just before Bryan TX and it continued the rest of the way with very heavy rain between Houston and Galveston.  There was some flooding in Galveston and of course Dickens on The Strand was cancelled.  I arrived at EZ Cruise Parking in the pouring rain about 12:30 pm and was shuttled over to the ship soon afterward.  I was checked in at the VIFP priority check-in area and I boarded about 1:30 pm.  It was a smooth process considering the weather.  I wheeled my large duffle bag on board with me and went to my cabin on Main deck (deck two) and relaxed for a bit and then began unpacking.  I have a category 1A cabin on Main deck far forward.  It has a lot of floor space as it has a unusual square shape.   I did go to Lido for a lunch then returned to finish cabin set-up before muster drill.  As hoped I had a sit down location for the Safety Drill inside the Ovation Theater,  It’s cold and rainy outside glad mine is not on an open deck.  Following I did a walkabout on the ship, too bad there are not more interior public spaces designed in Carnival ships. The Liberty of the Seas docked next to us has a lot of spaces that can be used when the weather is less than perfect.  Guests seem in a good mood as they await the 4:00 pm scheduled sail away that was delayed an hour+.  I thought 4:00 pm was ambitious even with good weather and we ended up sailing just about 5:00 pm.  No sail away dancing or dolphin watching today.  They did have a unique Christmas tree lighting in the lobby area this evening.  They sang Christmas Carols and passed out Christmas goodies.  I went to the Piano Bar to get a martini aperitif before dinner, My special Cosmopolitan prepared by Michael was very good.  Dinner is at 8:15 in the Blush dining room (MDR).  I have a 10-top table in the center area as requested and the other guests seem nice.  I had an excellent view of the three chandeliers rocking along with the active seas we are experiencing.  For dinner tonight I ordered: the Creme of Tomato Soap, a Green Salad, and the Pork Tenderloin entree with Root Vegetables.  I had the Strawberry Parfait and a Fruit Plate for dessert.  They  have a Welcome Show scheduled tonight but I always pass on that and retired after a long busy day.

Monday / Fun day at Sea / December 5th / Day 2
Seuss-A-Palooza Story Time
The good and bad of my cabin location:  As mentioned I am far forward, in fact the second cabin so I am low in the ship where the bow narrows (thus my square cabin) into it’s point.  When we have high seas as we experienced last night…it is very noisy with what seems like banging and on a few occasions an explosion.  I’m visualizing the bow coming up and smashing back on the water, but I really don’t know the actual cause of the noise.  I was so tired I slept through all other than the explosive loud booms.  Hopefully we will have smoother seas soon.  I slept as late as possible and because I have the Diamond party about noon today I’m not going to do a big breakfast this morning, just some delish homemade cookies I brought along.  Fortunately the seas have gotten smoother the further south we go into the Gulf of Mexico there are even a few people in the pool early this morning. I went up to Promenade Deck and sat out on Ocean Plaza Lanai and enjoyed the sea air, most guests on port side were waiting for Fat Jimmy’s C-side BBQ to open.  I went down to the Piano Bar to the Diamond event at 12:30 pm.  It was good to see crew that I know including Hotel Manager Damir, GSM Thelma, and Beverage Manager Milan.  I knew a few Diamond guests and met several new ones.  There seemed to be about 14 fellow Diamonds in attendance.  They served very nice h’orderve & dessert trays and of course the cocktails were very good.  I 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.  This is another very good option for cocktails on the Breeze until they get an Alchemy Bar on the next drydock.  I did go on a bit of a walk around decks and guests are now taking advantage of the great weather and enjoying themselves.  I did something new this afternoon: I attended the Seuss-A-Palooza Story Time in the Ovation Theater.  I got to see the new (to me) Cruise Director Leigh in action and it was an interesting event.  I don’t think there are a lot of kids on this sailing, but probably most were there.  I think most adults in the theater were waiting for the $1000 Bingo session starting afterward.  When I got back to the cabin there was the usual chocolate plate for VIFP’s delivered on Captains Cruise Elegant night.  I enjoyed a great Guy’s burger about 3:30pm, then time for a nap that was interrupted when they delivered a nice larger plate of fancy chocolate sweets.  After a few of these I really thought I would skip dinner even though it’s a proper set up tonight with table clothes.  The production show tonight was Motor City and features the Breeze dancers and singers and highlights R&B music.  There were a lot of other entertainment through the ship as well, but I have two weeks to see it all again and extended my nap into an early night.

Tuesday / Key West, USA / December 6th / Day 3
Hemmingway House in Key West
Still loud noises overnight, it may be due to both high seas and speed.  Wasn’t as bad as first night though. I woke very early since I had an early night and plenty of rest.  I had some internet time then went on a walk about.  I did see a survivor of last nights fun on Promenade deck…a guy was asleep on a banquet leaning up against a wall with a plate of 24-hour pizza and his phone at a table next to him.  Someone covered him with a pool towel…hope he had a good time.  I was at the MDR for breakfast when it opened at 8:00 am. I had a great breakfast:  tomato juice, milk, pastry, fresh fruit, three eggs over easy, bacon, ham, potatoes, and white toast.  It was perfect.  We docked about 10:00 am and I left the ship about 10:30.  I messed up on Day One…when I left the ranch I had mail to mail and cash to deposit in night depository when I reached town, but forgot to do it.  So my first stop this morning was the Post Office and second stop the Bank.  Not the local bank I intended but the bank I use for my travel accounts.  With business done my next stop was the Kermit’s Key Lime Pie location on lower Duval Street for a fix.  I am very familiar with Key West and been many times but I had never visited the Ernest Hemmingway House.  Since we toured the Hemmingway House in Cuba this summer I wanted to see his home in Key West.  They are actually very similar.  The house and gardens are beautiful.  I took my time visiting on this hot and humid day, but there are guided tours available.  Yes there are six-toed cats everywhere. Upon leaving I went across the street to the Lighthouse Court Hotel and enjoyed a Mojito ($5) and great fast internet from the pool bar.  Very relaxing.  I was then off to my favorite Key West locale: Kelly’s Caribbean Bar.  Whitten fixed me up with a Mojito and I eagerly awaited Kelly’s famous happy hour and the great Chicken Wings ($5) and draft beers ($2).  I like Kelly’s as it’s not touristy like the bars on Duval Street, but at 4:00 pm the locals and snow birds fill the place.  This is one advantage of Galveston ship time…try to arrive at 3:00 pm CST and you’ll get the full happy hour before most ship departures.  After happy hour I did head back to the Breeze.  If one knows how to cut through the local resort it’s actually only three beautiful residential blocks to the pier.  I enjoyed some rest time and clean up in the cabin…Key West was quite warm and humid. Also watched sail away from my cabin TV although I know the sunset was beautiful.  I did go by the Piano Bar for an aperitif before dinner.  The MDR was only half full which is actually typical on Key West night.  I ordered two of my favorite Carnival appetizer: the Beetroot Carpaccio, also the Minestrone Milanese, and the Beef Tenderloin entree.  Following a walkabout the ship I retired.  It was a great day in Key West.

Wednesday / Freeport Bahamas / December 7th / Day 4
2Country4Nashville in Breeze Atrium
Calm seas over night and no noises in the cabin at all.  Great sleep and I slept past arrival in Freeport.  The weather is very cloudy so I will stay aboard ship today as more than half the guests seem to be doing.  I went up to the Blue Iguana about 9:40 am and enjoyed a Huevos Rancheros with extra cheese and salsa from the salsa bar.  They no longer cook the eggs to order…they just add prepared fried eggs to your tortilla.  I like my egg easy and the heat helps melt the extra cheese.…good, but not as good.  I have a lot of work to do online today so did that until I made a pizza run while they cleaned my cabin.  I noticed the Carnival Liberty in dry dock off the aft deck.  I took a lunch break about 1:30 and there were long lines at both the Mongolian Grill and Guy’s Burgers so I did the Regional menu station from the buffet: Jerked Chicken, Caribbean Stew, Plantains, Beans & Rice, and Pork from the carving station.  I stopped to drink a coke with Mima at the Lobby Bar, one my favorite bar server especially during group parties as she takes care of her customers.   Then back to the cabin to work online for the afternoon.  I did go on deck to watch sail away and I heard a Guy's Burger calling my name.  I then stopped by the Atrium to watch the two-person act: 2Country4Nashville.  They are very entertaining, I wanted to see a full set as I had heard them on previous walkabouts on the ship. I went to the Piano Bar for an aperitif then to dinner.  Tonight I ordered the Gespacho, Oysters Rockefeller (very good), Meatballs in Tomato Sauce (good), the Veal Parmesan with Spaghetti entree and a Banana Split for dessert.  Tonight feature production show was 88 Keys in the Ovation Theater, but after a walkabout I retired to the cabin.

Thursday  /  Nassau Bahamas  /  December 8th / Day 5
Junkanoo Beach - Nassau Bahamas
Calm seas and another good nights sleep overnight.  It’s a beautiful morning so guests are debarking early this morning.  I slept in then went to the Blue Iguana again for breakfast.  I’m not able to get past the precooked eggs so I will not be coming here for breakfast again unless it’s to get salsa to take to the omelette station. I did some internet business in the cabin the rest of the morning.  For the past several years I would usually stay on board in Nassau, but I decided that since it was a beautiful day that I needed to go ashore.  About 12:30 pm I went down to deck zero and the pier and many to most of those early guests are already returning. Not busy as I reach the market area and was offered several taxi’s but refused until third one met my offer ($5) since I was only going a short way to the famous Fish Fry located just beyond Junkanoo Beach. This is an area where there is a variety of local fish restaurants or seafood shacks.  I walked about the various eateries and selected Goldies Conch House.  I was there about 1:00 pm and it was busy being lunch time, but sat at the bar in the outdoor area next to the water.  Soon it cleared of tourists (I suspect many where on an excursion) and I got very nice service.  I ordered  Kalik Gold beer, a whole red snapper, peas & rice, french fries, and salad. It was fantastic.  I took my time drinking another beer and enjoyed watching the fisherman docking.  I then realized that the entire reef was made of 1000’s of discarded Conch shells.  Goldie’s has sold a lot of Conch.  After lunch I began my walk back towards downtown Nassau coming first to Junkanoo Beach.  I enjoyed seeing the public beach with local lifeguards and taking photos of the ships.  As I reached the eastern part of the long beach I took a break and enjoyed a beer with a Romanian crew member from the Carnival Pride.  We discussed my planned trip to Romania next year.  As I reached this area of town it is being revitalized primarily with Chinese investments.  There is a new resort, condo, and retail/parking facilities nearing completion.  A new modern McDonalds has already opened just across the road from the development.  Then I reach the British Colonial Hotel that I have been known to visit over the years.  As I reach the location of the old Straw Market it is now a very lovely Town Square currently decorated for Christmas.  I will say that Nassau is improving for the better…and it needed it.  The cruise pier is next and as I’m behind the crowd getting to the ship was easy…just a lot of walking.  I relaxed and recovered in the cabin until time for dinner.  My MDR dinner was again very good, I ordered the Mixed Greens, Escargots Bourguignonne, Braised Short Ribs/Loin, and two of my now favorite Carnival dessert: Buttered Popcorn Pot De Creme.  They had a brass type jazz group at piano bar, 2Country4Nashville in the Red Frog, a full house in the casino, and the Love and Marriage show in the theater.  It was a good day in Nassau and on the Carnival Breeze.

Friday / Fun day at Sea / December 9th / Day 6
Guy's Burger from Lido Deck
Smooth seas with only a few minor bumps overnight and during the day.  I slept very well until 9:30 am then took advantage of the faster (in the morning) internet. I finally got around and went down to the Blush Dining room about 10:45 am - no line and seated strait away. I had a nice table by side windows and I could see a pod of Dolphins as we sailed near the Florida Keys.  I ordered the Fruit Plate, and the Steak & Eggs breakfast.  This morning I did a walkabout and sat on the Ocean Plaza to take in the sea air…very nice.  There were a lot of activities today: Towel Animal Theater, The Military Appreciation Gathering, Trivia, Ice Carving, Bingo, and more, but I had a Guy’s Burger for a late lunch then watched some movies in the cabin and nap.  This evening is the new (to most) production show FLICK.  The show is difficult to describe…it is the most elaborate Playlist Production to date.  The overall theme is movies with a lot of magic used as the element that ties together the various scenes.  The graphics are amazing and I’ve never seen the use of fans (8) in a production as they do in Flick.  One has to see it as it’s indescribable…in a good way.  BTW-because of the fans located foreground of the stage the best seats are probably lower balcony as the fans do block a lot of action.  I wasn’t hungry this evening so I had passed on dinner, but about 9:00 pm I got hungry and ordered two BLT’s from room service.  I try to do that ever cruise as the BLT’s are a signature item on Carnival and consistently good from ship to ship.  So an enjoyable lazy day for me on the Carnival Breeze.

Saturday / Fun day at Sea / December 10th / Day 7
VIFP Party
Higher seas overnight, but the waves are braking on opposite side of the ship so I can hear the booms, but more as a background…I had a nice sleep. I went down to the MDR for the final sea day brunch about 10:30 and was seated with very a short wait.  I ordered the Fruit Plate and the Pancakes with side of bacon and ham…very good and different for me as I rarely order pancakes on a ship.  Mid-day I sat on a lounger on Lido (70°) and enjoyed the cool air but warming sunshine and watched the St. Jude T-shirt sales and activities.  Interesting.  They also got their Gingerbread Village up today…it’s located on Deck 10 indoors.  I had some cabin time in the afternoon and filled out my customs declaration forms for tomorrow then off for a late lunch at the Deli. I had a grilled Reuben sandwich and a Tuna on white sandwich…both very good.  The Platinum/Diamond party was at 5:00pm in the Limelight Lounge, the forgotten time and day that they buried the former Farewell Party.  The party itself was very nice, I took advantage of the Tito’s Vodka & Lemonade that they do at these parties.  Leigh, the Cruise Director, did a good job and I actually won the award for senior Diamond on the cruise.  Afterwards I went to the Piano Bar and they allowed me to drink the take away Cosmopolitans I got at the party.  My memory isn't so clear for the rest of the evening, but the unused drink voucher in my pocket was gone so I must have continued the party.  I usually have good judgement in these circumstances so I skipped dinner and had a wonderful deep sleep in the cabin. 

Sunday / Galveston / December 11th / Beginning 2nd Cruise / Day 8
Carnival Breeze Atrium
Smooth seas overnight and I slept very well even through the early morning debarkation announcements.  Fortunately I’m in the same cabin for both cruises.  The gangway was not available so I believe they started debark earlier than normal and it went very well.  They called my cabin about 9:30 am and asked me to come down and meet the B2B’s ASAP.  When I got to the Sapphire Dining Room there were only 300 guests remaining on board.  There were about a dozen doing a B2B and soon we went down to deck zero and walked over to customs then back on the ship…all before 10:30 am.  That’s the earliest I have seen a large ship cleared.  We got a Bellini cocktail and had a B2B group photo taken upon return.  I was hungry with no dinner nor breakfast but it was too early for any food so I set up my internet plan for the week and camped out in Lido Marketplace waiting for the Mongolian Grill to open.  They felt sorry for me and prepared me a great combo bowl for the starving guest…cooked perfectly as we had plenty of time…they did not allow boarding until 11:30.  By the time I finished guests were arriving on board.  I observed the new guests arrive and watched some NFL football this afternoon.  They began making announcements for boat drill by 3:00 pm and it started about 3:30…much too early IMHO as they close bars and food service before many guests are even on board and we didn't sail until about 5:30 pm.  My muster station was again in the was very easy.  Because of the Dallas Cowboy game on TV this evening I decided to eat early so I went to Cucina del Capitano for dinner.  I ordered: Il Capitano’s Signature Arancini (Fried Risotto Balls, Piled High with Baby Arugula and Shaved Parmesan Cheese, Served over Tomato Sauce), Parmigiana Di Melanzane (Eggplant Parmigiana), Il Capitano’s Favorite Insalata Di Rucola (Traditional Italian Salad, Baby Arugula, Cherry Tomatoes, Olives, and Parmesan Cheese, in a Sorrento Lemon Limoncello Dressing) and for an entree: Bistecca Alla Griglia (Italian Expression of the Classic New York Sirloin Steak, Seared and Served with Grilled Tomato, Pearl Onions, Garlic Confit, Fried Thyme and Parsley)  For dessert: Crosata Di Mele Coppetta (Slow-Baked Italian Apple Tart Topped with Hazelnut Streusel). It was an excellent meal and well worth the up charge ($15+).  The Welcome Show was of course tonight, but I had Football and relaxing time scheduled in the cabin this evening.  It was an easy and enjoyable turn around day on the Carnival Breeze.

Monday / Fun day at Sea / December 12th / Day 9
Carnival Breeze Piano Bar 88
Some rocking & rolling overnight with the accompanying bangs and booms until about dawn when the sea was as smooth as glass and all was quiet.  I went to the Blush MDR  and enjoyed the Seaday Brunch.  I ordered the Eggs Benedict with side of potatoes and bacon.  At 11:00 am the Diamond Party was held in the Limelight Lounge…I had a Bellini and Milan recommended a Champagne with Elderflower that I immediately tried as I like Elderflower a lot (read about our Jana 88 cocktails on previous Breeze cruise) and it was very good, although still a bit early in the morning for a buzz though.  It was a nice party and good to see the officers I know and new ones I met.  I did some business online this morning then went to Lido for a Guy’s Burger.  I didn’t succumb to the nice condiment bar this time and and ate it plain and dry.  You really get the flavor of the burger that way.  Excellent.  Michael the solo entertainer that I didn’t meet until the Saturday party last week was performing on Lido so I found a lounger and enjoyed his music…he has a lot of talent.  I enjoyed listening.  I tried to make Tea time today, but I was making some last minute trades at the market close (3:00 pm for both) and missed it.  Only two more opportunities so I’ll try again.  The Captain announced that we will be headed full speed towards Cozumel for a Medical emergency although we will be keeping the same itinerary. I'd really like to hop off and rejoin the ship on Friday, but was informed it will be a tender transfer so no docking.  This is the Captain’s elegant night and dinner, I saw the officers in the Atrium, they clean up very nicely.  I went to the Piano Bar for my aperitif with Michael.  I’m actually assigned to the ‘singles’ table this week something I try to avoid, but the tables I prefer were taken by a large group (Gamblers!) so I thought I’d give it try, I know it’s a nice ten-top table on deck four.  What is amusing is that during my cocktail a nice young lady sits beside me and orders a whisky…she’s a bit nervous as she has broken her shoes…Michael and I assure her she can make it just fine without even on elegant night, I ask her her table number and bingo same table.  Neither of us attended on previous night so we neither knew what to expect…turns out we were the only ones at the table.  The Maitre’D came by to check on me, thanks, all is well although I doubt I return to that table until the next ‘tablecloth’ night. It was a very nice dinner, I ordered:  Italian Wedding Soup, Spaghetti Carbonara (as starter), two entrees: a Prime Rib of Beef and the Maine Lobster Tail.  Dessert was a Creme Brulee and a Fruit Plate.    It was excellent.  Tonights feature show was Motor City in the theater, but I retired.  It was an easy and Fun day on the Carnival Breeze.

Tuesday / Fun day at Sea / December 13th / Day 10
Great dinner at Cucina del Capitano
Seas were fair overnight but the noise of the thrusters woke me when we made the medical transfer at first light early this morning. Slept until 9:00ish and went upstairs to the Blue Iguana.  The maitre’d’s told me I would be pleased and yes they installed a hotplate and pan for frying fresh eggs.  They still had the prepared eggs, but if one was in the know they could order (with just a little wait) fresh eggs.  I ordered two fried eggs over-easy (cooked perfectly) on my single Huevos Ranchero tortilla, added cheese that melted on my hot eggs and salsa and voila the best breakfast at sea.  Thanks for listening Carnival Breeze Food department, I appreciate it.  After breakfast I had more internet and cabin time…I am doing a bit of work these cruises, but what a good place to do it.  I did get the better internet package this week ($119), it really seems to be the same speed, but I can access my Dropbox and more accounts online.  I went to Lido pool deck and had another basic and very good Guy’s Burger for lunch then a walk about the ship.  It was quite breezy forward as I visited my secret deck from previous cruise…sunny and breezy on the Breeze.  I went back to Cucina del Capitano ($15+) for dinner this evening.  The staff welcomed me back and treated me very well.  I ordered:  Minestroni (Vegetable Soup with Beans and Rustic Spices, Served with Mascarpone Cream and Drizzled with Pesto Sauce), Nonna’s Meatballs (Grandma’s Recipe) -(Hand made with Olive Oil Sautéed Garlic and Onion, Baked with Fresh Mozzarella, Served over the Captain’s Tomato Sauce), Insalata Caesar-Our Signature Caesar Salad (Crispy Hearts of Romaine Tossed in Traditional Dressing, Served with Anchovy Fillet, Freshly Made Croutons and Shaved Parmesan Cheese), and for an entree: Piatto Della Nonna (Nonna’s Dish) (Inspired by the grandmother to Carnival Breeze Captain Vincenzo Alcaras and a legendary chef in her own right. A Penne Pasta Dish that is a combination of Crispy Shrimp and Prosciutto Tossed in a Vodka Creme Sauce made with San Mario Tomatoes).  For dessert: Magic Tiramisu (The Cake That Is Italy, Layered in a Glass with Mascarpone Cream, Served over Lady Fingers Soaked in Espresso Liqueur, Grand Marnier and Kahlua, Finished with Chocolate Ruffles).  OMG another great meal.  I ate as much as I could.  88 Keys was the production show in the theater tonight, but after such a wonderful meal I retired after a short walkabout on the ship.  It was a great day with great food today on the Carnival Breeze

Wednesday / Montego Bay Jamaica / December 14th / Day 11
Great Lido Dinner
Fair seas overnight and I slept very well as we arrived in Montego Bay.  The MSC Opera is also in port and it’s a nice sunny day. I took my time to allow many guests to debark then went up to Lido deck for another great breakfast at the BIue Iguana…same fresh egg Huevos Ranchero as yesterday.  Also same routine in cabin until lunch time, but I changed into swim wear before heading to Lido for an excellent Mongolian Grill. After lunch then spent the rest of afternoon on pool deck.  Most guests are off the ship so a nice day until they started returning and pool area gets busier…still much better than a sea day.  It was a nice day outdoors, but unusual that by sail away at 5:00 pm it was completely dark.  Ships time is an hour earlier and we are far east but odd experience.  I had Dinner in the Lido Marketplace and it was good, I sampled the Linguini Pasta Dish, had two BBQ Pork Ribs, Baked Potato, and from the carving station the Grilled Beef Tenderloin.  I asked and received a nice thick cut…it was wonderful. The feature show in the theater was ‘Two Men Without Assistance’ a magic show that friends have told me was very good.  I did an after dark walkabout on the upper decks to enjoy the lights.  Guests were enjoying the Movie and popcorn on Lido, some still in the pools, and others enjoying a lovely evening.  I sat and enjoyed the stars and sea breeze until cabin time.  It was a beautiful and fun day today in Jamaica.

Thursday / Grand Cayman / December 15th / Day 12
Blue Iguana Cantina
Smooth seas overnight and I slept very well. It’s a beautiful day in Grand Cayman.  I again went to Lido deck for breakfast at the Blue Iguana, I again had them add guacamole to the huevos rancheros tortilla with two fresh fried huevos on top, then from the Salsa bar I add Cheese and Pico de Gallo.  A great breakfast.  I did a walkabout the ship and there were more guests than I thought there would be on board, I understand staying on in Jamaica, I guess the hassle of the tender gets many to stay on board.  It was the same on my previous cruise to Grand Cayman perhaps one third+ of guests staying on board ship. The Breeze is a nice ship with a lot of features so it is a destination in itself.  Cabin time so I didn’t go to lunch until about 1:00 and had a few Fried Fish & Chicken Tenders (also served on Embark day) from the Lido Marketplace. I visited with a friend and we went to the aft pool deck and had a few Pilsner Urquell beers, my favorite.  I also saw a Pepperoni Pizza with my name on it.  Ended up staying until we sailed away from the Caymans.  At least it was still daylight, but the sun was setting.  This evening I went to the Piano Bar for aperitifs and visited with Michael the bartender and Antony the server.  It’s the second elegant night so tablecloths in the MDR.  Dinner was good one of the better menus, I ordered: the Pasta E Fagioli soup, the White Stuffed Mushrooms, Fusilli Mushroom Creme Pasta (as starter), Dual of Filet Mignon  & Short Rib entree, and Grand Marnier Souffle for dessert.  All excellent.  After dinner I stopped by the Red Frog Pub where Michael was playing tonight…In the theater was the newish production show FLICK, a very popular and unique show that should not be missed.  It was a Fun day on the Carnival Breeze.

Friday / Cozumel Mexico / December 16th / Day 13
Breeze & Dream at Puerto Maya
Smooth seas overnight and perfect weather…sunny but not too hot.  We are docked at the Puerto Maya Pier along with the Carnival Dream out of New Orleans and the Liberty of the Seas & Allure of the Seas are at the International pier.  I had a room service breakfast, first of the cruise to start the day.  About 10:30 am I went down to deck zero and yes the Mexican officials are checking bags for food items so please don't take any will get caught by the dogs and it delays all of us getting out and about.  Soon I was on my way to San Miguel ($8 taxi). I first went to Antonio’s Barber Shop and had my usual haircut from Martin. He has been my regular barber for nine+ years now.  Afterward I went to Woody’s Bar & Grill to use the internet and drink a diet coke.  This has been my Cozumel HQ for many years.  After a few beers and my great guacamole and pico de gallo the Woody’s team watched my ‘stuff’ while I went down the avenue to get some drugs from a few of the local Farmicias.  Still a better value to get basic meds here than at home.  The extended departure time for the ship allowed time for two more Bohemia beers and a order of Chicken Nachos. Woody's was very busy today and they also had live music all day.  Nice.  About 4:00 I walked down to the Malecon and I caught a taxi back to the pier ($8). I was back on ship about 4:30 pm. for a 6:00 pm sail away.  No time to watch pier runners as I took a refreshing shower and relaxed.  I also told the steward to skip the cabin this evening it's now my down time day.  I was content and not hungry so I skipped dinner and the evening activities and enjoyed some internet time and television, I had not seen the new MacGyver TV show.  I did order late room service…a Tuna Salad sandwich on white bread and a nice Toasted Grill Cheese...then to bed early.  It was a wonderful day in Cozumel today!

Saturday / Fun day at Sea / December 17th / Day 14
Atrium looking down from deck 11
Rolling seas as we left Cozumel with wave noises so I was afraid of a rough night, but it really became quite smooth by midnight so quiet and great sleeping overnight.  I went to the Breeze MDR for the Sea-day Brunch about 10:30 and had a nice table at far aft at the windows.  I ordered the Fruit Plate, Eggs Benedict with bacon, corned beef hash, and potatoes.  A very filling breakfast.  There will be a cold front in Texas when we arrive so my plan was to take advantage of the warm weather all day.  I spent time on the Serenity Deck (deck 15), and walked about the outer decks just enjoying the sea breeze and warm sun.  I did get a Guy’s Burger as well.  The Platinum and Diamond party was held in the Lamplighter Lounge at 5:00 pm.  There were about the same as previous week.  I sat with  new and old friends and got several Tito’s lemonades strait away…plus two Cosmopolitans.  I was again the senior cruiser on board.  Michael performed again…I enjoy his music.  Thanks Carnival it was a fun party that got extended to the Piano Bar until I went to the Cucina del Capitano (I'll spare you the 3rd menu selections) for dinner.  After dinner a quick stop in the Red Frog and the Atrium Bar, for final night Fun.  It was a great sea day on the Carnival Breeze.

Sunday / Galveston / December 18th / Debarkation
We had slightly rocky seas overnight going into Galveston.  We know it will be about 42° and windy when we arrive (only 22° at Ranch) in Galveston.  We were about an hour late arriving due to 45 knot winds we encountered as we got closer to Texas.  I went down to the designated Diamond meeting location at 7:00 am, but it was just after 8:00 am before we where allowed off the ship.  I was through U.S. Customs, rode the shuttle to the parking lot, stopped for gas ($1.95) and was on the Causeway off the island at 9:00am.  I stopped for groceries and was back at the ranch before 2:00 pm. 

I had cabin 2208 a 1A interior located on deck 3 far forward on port side, Yes you can hear the waves hit the ship if there are heavy seas. It can be annoyingly loud at times.  The cabin has a lot of floor space, with one single bed and a full couch. It has a swipe type safe, three-section closet, no chairs, one electrical outlet on counter/dresser, Telephone on desk, Small Stool at Dresser, Kleenex dispenser, and Hair dryer in counter/dresser, and small flat screen TV with the interactive features.  There is an empty refrigerator. The cabin is great for me as a solo, but not so much for two. My cabin steward was very good, the cabin was always clean and ice container filled.

Dining / Food / Bars / Entertainment
Both Main Dining Rooms are very nice especially the Blush Dining room.  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 MDR food on Breeze is better than other Carnival ships, I was about to give up on the quality of the MDR food on Carnival but Breeze is better than most.  I had good table locations, good fellow guests, and the waiters were good.  They have returned the butter knife to the American Table. 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.  No Alchemy Bar on the Breeze but I thoroughly enjoyed my aperitifs at the Piano Bar. 

The entire ship crew were 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 were 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.

New and Improved
Ships staff (security, embark, boat drill) now use card readers for Sail & Sign cards.
Return of the butter knife
$3 doubles on bar drinks
Hub Application is outstanding
Pilsner Urquell is now in cans and be ordered on outside boat decks

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