A Most Pimped Cruise! – How I Learned to Love Long Lines, Open My Wallet & Get With the Program

The Setup – Although veterans of many cruises, we had by no means had the “Drive Port” expertise. Just throwing the whole lot however the canine into the SUV – bypassing the problem and inconvenience of airports, airways and transfers – appeared like a good suggestion. From Memphis the logical alternative was Carnival’s Triumph crusing to the Eastern Caribbean out of New Orleans. (7 days-July 24 to 31)

Embarkation – Docs we printed out on-line indicated boarding was from 12:30p to 2:30p with ship crusing at 4:00pm. So, we obtained in line for pier-facet unloading and parking at 12:20p. Once parked and out of the SUV we stood in line for about 45 minutes – outside – at 95 levels mid-summer season New Orleans warmth and humidity. (What logistical genius organized for that little little bit of torture?) From parking to boarding the ship took a complete of 80 minutes – throughout which lengthy strains with many change backs had been the norm.

We had been instructed at the parking/unloading level that, sure, we might schlep our personal baggage aboard if that’s the case inclined. But, simply earlier than getting into the blessedly air conditioned terminal constructing, we had been singled out from the herd by Colonel Klink and instructed that three of our baggage had been outsized and should be checked. He pointed to just a little airline kind “carry-on-baggage-should-match-in-right here-or-we-stab-your-mom” warning signal with dimension testing receptacle, the quantity of which was simply large enough to maintain a medium sized lunch field. I’m pondering, “they’ve overhead bins on cruise ships now? So why wasn’t that signal positioned again at the unloading level?”

Accommodations – Once on board we had been directed to our ocean view cabins on Deck One. The cabins had been very spacious and fairly snug – bigger than on most ships – one thing for which Carnival is famous. Our resolution not to splurge on balcony cabins was justified. Overall ambiance of the ship appeared spacious.

Our room steward was Jorge from Peru – a really gracious man who appeared keen to please – as did most of the employees.

Waiting in our cabins had been bon voyage items from the Hotel Manager and our native Business Development Manager, fruit baskets, wine, and many others. They had been significantly appreciated and shortly consumed.

Department – Noticing at 5pm that the gangway had been retracted however we had not but sailed, an announcement by the captain defined that due to climate – tropical melancholy Bonnie – and heavy site visitors at the river’s mouth, crusing can be delayed till 3am Sunday morning. But, we had been reassured that the ship would nonetheless attain ports on time. And it did.

Dining – Even although we had formally requested a big desk for eight or extra, we had been seated in a sales space for 4. The sales space was snug and comfy, however this was nonetheless a disappointment for us – we cruise to meet individuals. The maitre ‘d was apologetic and mentioned he’d attempt to treatment the state of affairs, however didn’t. Understandably, most individuals need tables reserved for simply their group of household and pals, particularly throughout the summer season months when touring with children. My principle? They most likely initially had us booked for a big desk… then they noticed me tripping and stumbling my means up the gangway sporting a lime inexperienced Vampires Suck! tank high with “Bite Me” tattooed over my jugular. I’m certain they determined then and there that it was greatest to isolate us from the different diners.

The meals ranged from common to very, excellent. The greatest enchancment to Carnival’s meals service is in the presentation. Main eating room choices had been fashionable and gourmand in look. However, in precise style most dishes had been a few half star in need of deserving of that sobriquet. Some exceptions: the Chilled Avocado Soup, Mongolian Steak Salad, New Zealand Lamb Chops and the Chocolate Souffle had been to die for.

Fish dishes, whereas effectively spiced and elegantly introduced, had been constantly served dry and overcooked. Thinking that it is perhaps due to solely frozen provides being accessible somewhat than contemporary, I launched into a check. When the safety guard at the Atlantis Aquarium was trying the different means I scooped up a uncommon Triggerfish… smuggled it again in my digital camera case… gave it to ship’s chef fifteen minutes earlier than dinner. Yep, served dry and overcooked.

Just when I was about to quit on the Over-Cooked Fish problem, a ray of hope appeared. There on deck 5… simply round the nook from the on line casino… the Sushi Cart! But even right here the delicacies are tweaked for southern tastes. The Chicken Fried Tuna’Cado Rolls had been fabulous!

Entertainment – We took in most of the reveals and most had been fairly good, particularly the massive manufacturing reveals. Carnival is one in all the few remaining cruise strains to nonetheless make the most of full stay orchestras somewhat than recorded tracks for these advanced reveals. Sound high quality in all venues was wonderful. Stage results and mechanics, similar to hydraulically manipulated stage sections and (practically invisible) cable lifts enabling performers to “fly” had been efficient and never overly exploited. Site strains in all venues had been good. Smoke machines, flash pots and laser strobes had been used sparingly and never overdone. Well, perhaps the smoke machine did not add a lot to bingo… the caller was new and could not discover the off button.

The Big Easy Show was one in all the greatest manufacturing reveals I’ve seen on a cruise ship… and this coming from somebody who labored ships as an entertainer for 12 years. Clearly crafted for a predominantly New Orleans centric viewers, my first thought was “it is a low-cost shot – like taking part in the Star Spangled Banner at a VFW assembly – a assured standing ovation.” But as the present unfolded the alternative of music, the performances, costuming and particular results had been excellent. A very pleasurable expertise.

Comedian – Todd Justice began out sturdy however started to lose us half means via the present. Todd stored his watch – a surefire momentum killer. Not a good suggestion except it’s a part of the act. It was not.

Magic – A massive manufacturing/phantasm kind magic present in the essential showroom was a bit repetitive and simply OK. A shut-up magic present was scheduled for the Venezia Lounge. Although we arrived 20 minutes early there was not an empty seat to be discovered. It was already standing room solely and plenty of had been sitting on the flooring. This present wants to be in a bigger venue. We didn’t keep.

Specialty Act – Funniest present of the week was Asad, the stage hypnotist. To viewers volunteers who had been deep below, he gave lots of the outdated tried and true however nonetheless humorous options with a number of novel twists similar to… “you desperately need to kiss the particular person subsequent to you however they’ve horribly unhealthy breath.”

Asad had a really unique closing. Just earlier than dismissing the volunteers he gave them one last suggestion… “you’ll not keep in mind something you’ve got carried out on stage tonight… till the subsequent time you look in a mirror. Then you’ll all of a sudden keep in mind the whole lot in vivid element.” Of course instantly following the present sadistic family and friends steered unsuspecting volunteers into the restrooms to “powder their noses”. Screams may very well be heard three decks away.

On-Board Ambiance – With stunning ships, good meals and employees keen to please, Carnival remains to be all about relentless on-board merchandising and gross sales promotion – as are all cruise strains in the mass market class. The commerce-off is decrease fares.

But Carnival is usually a bit crass about it typically. You haven’t got to be a cruise snob to really feel a bit put out when, for the umpteenth time, you’ve got to stroll the size of the ship to discover an unblocked stairway or un-mobbed elevator to get from one deck to one other due to photographers having arrange one other half dozen Photo Op stations.

These all the time appeared to be positioned in the center of a significant staircase or thoroughfare throughout peak stroll-about-the-ship hours. One evening about twelve such setups had been in proof, all at choke factors with correspondingly backed up crowds spilling over into on-board outlets… the place silver tongued gross sales individuals lay in wait!

(Biz Op – Someone might make a fortune promoting Photographer Repellant. It may very well be spray-on… colorless and odorless however making the wearer appeared consistently out of focus.)

Also think about that for the two hours prior to departing from Key West, passengers had to stand in line for a median of half-hour to get again aboard the ship… and you start to get my level.

Why cannot CCL take a cue from the good individuals at Disney? Disney has mastered each in-your-face merchandising and crowd management. Carnival execs, are you listening? Can you say Fastpass?

Ports & Shore Excursions – there have been three stops on this itinerary.

Freeport – There is a motive why it’s known as “Freeport”. It is completely freed from something to do. Beaches and purchasing are an extended cab journey from the ship and nothing to write dwelling about when you get there. We stayed on the ship.

Nassau – One mistake that we will solely blame on our personal procrastination – not shopping for tickets upfront to the Atlantis Aquarium & Water Park on Nassau’s Paradise Island. Unfortunately, we waited till the day of arrival and in every single place we went, the Shore Excursion Desk, the Atlantis resort itself, different close by Paradise Island inns – the story was the similar – bought out, bought out, bought out.

But our decided ladies weren’t taking no for reply and gave the go-forward to our cab driver to do no matter it took to discover us Water Park passes.

Tito was the man… a quick speaking and (apparently) related man. With a smile a mile vast, a mouth stuffed with gold enamel and a cranked up increase field with sub-woofer in the again of his Toyota mini-van, he was an instantaneous hit with our 18-12 months olds. Meanwhile, I’m testing the van doorways to be certain they are often locked and unlocked from the inside.

To add to my nervousness, whereas careening via the backstreets of Nassau in Oddjob’s sub-woofed journey, my spouse is flashing round tons of of {dollars} in money – slowly counting all of it out – proper there in the open for all to see – ensuring we had sufficient to pay for these bootleg water park passes he’s about to rating for us. (Tito made it clear he did not take plastic.)

Meanwhile, I’m about to panic pondering “My God, he is going to pull right into a again alley the place we’ll be stripped bare and robbed of the whole lot… at gun level… and left stranded.” (Robbery can be survivable… however I wasn’t sufficiently medicated for strolling again via the Straw Market… bare.)

After quite a few furtive telephone calls and a again alley rendezvous with native underground operatives, we had the passes… and Tito had our money. Miraculously, we didn’t set off any fraud alarms at the entrance to the Aquarium / Water Park.

Key West – Arrival right here meant extra purchasing, in addition to low-cost or free Internet and mobile phone connectivity. You can join by way of the ship’s system however it’s a expensive means to feed your Facebook behavior.

We booked the parasailing tour, which was a hoot. The departure level is only a brief stroll throughout the pier from the ship.

Sea Days – We loved our time on deck, the swimming pools, water slide and the JumboTron (large out of doors video display screen). Yes, Agnes, yours really obtained in step with the children and went down the large water slide. It was a thrill. Especially the sudden cease in the water trough at the backside. I was common for 3 days afterward.

Question – Who will get to resolve what’s proven on the ship’s large JumboTron? Sometimes it featured commercials for Carnival or playbacks of intellectual fare similar to the Hairy Chest Contest – typically a film or live performance video – however every morning it was tuned to a neighborhood TV station out of Denver. (Denver?) I stored trying round for an enormous distant management.

The Spa – On the final day of the cruise my spouse booked me for the final makeover – a hydrating facial with full physique therapeutic massage. Admittedly, it did make me look a great six to eight weeks youthful for a number of hours. But, like the poor victims of the hypnotist, when I appeared in the mirror the subsequent morning… there staring again at me was that acquainted 63-12 months outdated catcher’s mitt with ears. I screamed too.

Conclusion – All in all it was a great cruise and a welcome change of tempo. Would I cruise on Carnival once more? Yes, undoubtedly. Would I do something in another way subsequent time? Yes, a few issues. First, I’d insist on getting that giant desk for eight or extra in the eating room – we simply have an excessive amount of enjoyable swapping lies with new individuals we are going to by no means see once more. Secondly, I’d be certain to e book the two or three most desired shore excursions upfront. And lastly, we’d like to rein in our on-board profligacy a bit. Oh, I’d additionally deliver alongside a case of that Photographer Repellant. – LEC

Leave a Reply