Tuesday, September 24, 2013

My Caribbean Vacation - Day 3 - Boarding Day

Click here for Day 1, and Day 2 

Also,  HERE is my tour of the Carnival Victory

DAY 3 - BOARDING DAY - Monday Sept 2, 2013

I woke up at 6:00AM. I have no idea what woke me up. But my timing was PERFECT!
I went to the window and I could see a ship turning around in the bay to the far left. It was a CARNIVAL ship!!! It was MY SHIP!!!!

I texted Lisa in her room and she was awake and looking out the window too.
I woke Chris up and told him our ship had come in and he needed to get up and SEE it!!
Clearly he wasn't as excited as I was............he grogily got up and dragged his blankets and pillow to the window sill. He grumbled at me, looked at the ship turning around practically in front of us!!! And he went back to sleep.

So now I was sitting in the window by myself, with sleeping Chris. I decided there had to be more excitement in Lisa's room, so I texted her and told her I was coming over. I went down the hall to her room in my PJ's.
Cody had spent the night in Lisa's room, so she was already there.
Lisa, Cody and I watched out the window for quite a while before Cody and I went back to our room to shower and pack the last of our things.

Chris was still asleep in the window, so I decided to have a little fun with him.

We play this little game when he falls asleep accidentally when he is over at my house. I put stupid things I find from around the house on him and photograph it........he usually sleeps through it until I start balancing things on his head...........that usually wakes him up.

So Chris and I decided to play our game while he was sleeping in the window. I stacked things on top of him, and took pictures to show him later. It was a really fun game!

It's even funnier if I show you the pics!

Here's Chris sleeping in the window, when Cody and I came back from Lisa's room.

And later, he pulled his knees up while I was trying to photograph the sunrise.
So I balanced a can of coke on his knees!

Cody had some trail mix so I balanced that too

A sponge puffy:


I tried loading him up with stuff and he wouldn't wake up!

I was running out of ideas when I had the best idea of all.

I put my bikini swimsuit on him, I just layed it on top of the blankets, and I got a picture.
It's GREAT!!! One of my best pictures yet!

Because he's my son and I love him, I took that particular picture off this post.
I really wish I could post it (because it's funny!) but I can't do that to my son.
He's really lucky though, I was thisclose to posting it.

Poor Chris! It looks like he lost this round too! He's not very good at this game.

All in good fun, but we needed to get packing and get to our ship!!!
We woke Chris up and shuffled him into the shower. Cody and I finished getting ready and double checked the room to make sure we didn't leave anything behind.

And I did manage to get at least one good sunrise picture from our 2 mornings in Miami

We met Lisa in the hall and went down to check out around 9:15AM.
The hotel bellmen had cabs waiting for everyone wanting to go to the ships. We stuffed our luggage in one, and we were off to the port!!

The cab ride was less than 5 miles, and cost lest than $10.00 + tip.
We were dropped off at the port where the porter took our bags and we went inside the port building.

I was SO excited I think I skipped into the building.
We went through a series of security checks, including the lady at the back table who went through our Coke, Sprite and water one can and bottle at a time to make sure we weren't smuggling alcohol. She took forever to check each can.
When she finally let us go through, we went upstairs to complete our check-in

On the 2nd floor, I was happy to see this!!!

We went through the check-in and got our Sail & Sign cards, or map of the ship and our ZONE 1 card!!
We would get to board with the first group, right after disabled people and wedding parties.

Lisa and Chris........waiting to board the ship

Cody Leigh was excited too!

As we were sitting there, Amy and Greg and their friends showed up! We all introduced each other to everyone. Some of us had never met each other. Now we were a group of 8!

Here are a few of us waiting to board the ship. (I have no idea who the guy in the orange and blue shorts is. He just happened to be sitting there):

Amy and Cody

Around 11:00 or so, they began boarding. I was so excited, I forgot to take pics of us getting on the ship!

I thought the Victory was beautiful!!
The first things you see when you enter the ship lobby is the beautiful emerald green skylight in the lobby, the bar, the glass elevators and the awesome staircase

We were all hungry and ready to eat some buffet lunch, but first we had to stop at the Excursion desk to reserve our cabana for Half Moon Cay. I had prepaid for the cabana but now I needed to pick which number cabana 1-15 we would get. We wanted a number closer to 15, down on the quieter end, and I knew I would be happy with any number between 10 and 15.

 The excursion desk, on one side of the lobby:

I had to wait in line at the excursion desk for about 15 minutes, which seemed like forever after we had just got on the ship. I chatted in line with Bonny, who I had been chatting online with for several months before the cruise. Bonny and I are both members of Cruise Critic, a forum for cruisers. We found each other, and several others going on this cruise, on the roll calls at Cruise Critic. It was nice to finally meet Bonny in person after chatting online for so long.

Finally the lady came to help us with our cabanas, and I got cabana number 14. I was very happy with that number. Bonny had number 15, so we would be sure to see her in a few days when we were on the island. We would be neighbors!

Now that we had our cabana secured, we got in the glass elevators and went up to Deck 9, the Lido deck, for food!!
We found a table and took turns going to the buffet for food.

Our first meal on the ship!

After we ate, we walked up a deck so we could explore a little. I also wanted the kids to be able to see over the side railing, which they could only do on deck 10. It's pretty amazing when you realize how far up you are when you look over the side. Those ships are pretty massive.

We weren't able to go to our cabins until 1:30 because the cabin stewards were still cleaning them.
We had about an hour to kill so we walked around and explored the ship.
I'll post pictures of the ship in another post. There are too many to put in this post.
We ended up on deck 5 at some point, and we sat down on some benches in the casino near the window.

At 1:30PM, we started to head toward our cabins on deck 8 in the back of the ship.

The cabin I picked for Lisa and I is called a "Premium Vista Balcony" cabin, but it's affectionately referred to as an aft-wrap. It's in the back corner of the ship and it has a really long balcony.

In this picture, the black arrow is pointing to our balcony, which goes all along the back corner of the ship.
I was SO excited about this room!!! I had been dreaming about it for 18 months, and it was finally my turn to see it!

We found deck 8 - the Veranda Deck

And we made our way to the back left corner of the ship.

Walking down the back hallway to our rooms, we smelled a funny smell. I couldn't tell if it smelled like old food, or like garbage. I finally decided it smelled like burning garbage. It was not a pleasant smell, and I hoped it would go away and not smell like that for the entire cruise :(

Ignoring the smell as best as I could, we found our cabins.
Lisa and I had the cabin straight back at the end of the hall, and the kids had the cabin on the left side of this picture

We checked out the kids cabin first:
(These pics were taken at a later date, so the cabin looks a bit "lived-in" in these pics. I should have taken pics on the first day when the cabin was spotless, but in my excitement to see everything, I forgot to take pics)

The kids cabin - (inside cabin)

With the way the luggage mat is on Chris's bed, these pics must have been taken on the last night, as they were packing up.

OK, the kids room was a bit smaller than I expected but definitely do-able.

Now it was time to see OUR cabin!

After entering the cabin, looking back at the door:

These pics were taken on another day, apparently after our cabin was "turned down" for the night. We came back to our cabin looking like this every single night. Such a nice treat.
My bed was on the left in this pic:

The curtain on the other side of the TV opened up to go out on the balcony.
The door on the left is the bathroom.

Pics of the bathroom:

And the shower:

After we inspected the cabin, we went out on the balcony:

This was taken standing in the doorway

Here is the long part:

And this part was around the side of the ship.
I loved the aft-wrap cabin and balcony! It was fabulous! I don't know if I could ever go back to a regular balcony cabin after having that aft-wrap for 10 days. I have been spoiled.

 At some point we met our neighbors in the aft cabin next to us. They were 2 nice ladies, and one of them was from the Kansas City area too. We met them over the balcony railings, and said hello to them when we saw them outside on their balcony throughout the week.

We still had an hour and a half until Muster Drill, so we decided to walk around and explore the ship some more. I remembered our online Roll Call had a meet & Greet planned, so we worked our way toward the Casino on deck 5, our designated meeting spot. We found a lounge area, and we sat down for a while to see if anyone else showed up.
2 other families did show up. It was really nice meeting them after spending so much time online with them before the cruise.

We spent about 30 minutes or so talking and then we had to part ways to get ready for Muster Drill. We ended up seeing one of the families several times a day for the rest of the cruise. We seemed to run into them EVERYWHERE. It was fun seeing them and catching up on what we were all doing throughout the cruise.

We also found out that they had cabana #13 on Half Moon Cay, so we would know our neighbors on both sides of us!

Here are several of us from our Cruise Critic Roll Call:

Lisa, the kids, and I went back up to our rooms to wait for the Muster Drill announcement. Around 3:30 or so, we heard the call on the loudspeaker to go to our Muster stations. We had Muster station H, which was down on the 4th floor just below our cabin. They let us use the crew stairwell just outside our cabin door which was really nice because we seemed to be the only ones using that staircase.

The Muster drill was informative and painless. We learned how to use the life jackets (did you know they have whistles and lights on them now?), and we were given some basic safety instructions.
The whole thing lasted about 15-20 minutes, and then we were set free.

The part where they release everyone from their Muster stations is the worst part of the cruise. It's wall to wall people all trying to get to the stairs and elevators. We roughed it and took the stairs up 5 floors to the Lido deck. It would have taken forever to wait for an elevator.

We stopped off at the bar at the very back of the ship, which I had a feeling would be empty......and it was. This was an out-of-the-way bar, and not many people knew about it yet.

This bar was one deck up, right above our rooms!

We all ordered a drink, and we took them down to our balcony to watch sail-away.

Soon we heard the ship horn and we were off!!

These pics were taken during sailaway.
Cody is watching as we leave the port

We sailed past South Beach. We were just there less than 24 hours before.

My drink is almost empty!

 How many drinks did I have??

Cody might be missing her Sweetie already?

Looking behind us as we were coming out of the channel and heading out to sea. Another Carnival ship followed us out.

 Watching off the back of the ship was nice. It was peaceful to watch the water we churned up.
Looking off the side of the balcony toward the front of the ship. The ship was 3 football fields long, and it really did seem like a long way to the front.

Looking back at Miami. This was the last time we would see land for a day and a half.

I want to say that Lisa and the kids had never cruised before.  The kids were really excited about the cruise but Lisa was not. She was "interested" to see what cruising was all about, but she wasn't thrilled about it. She was worried she would become seasick, and she was a little apprehensive about the whole cruising thing from the very beginning.

As any good sister would do, I talked her into going on this cruise with me.

She can thank me later because as it turns out, she had a REALLY good time. She seemed to enjoy all of it; the new friends she met, the cabin and balcony, the islands, the ship.

Back to sail-away, I was wondering how Lisa would do as we got further away from Miami. I didn't need to worry about her, she did fine.

When we couldn't see Miami anymore, we all sat down and made a plan for what we were going to do with our first evening on the ship.

First thing, one last call to my Sweetie and turn off the cell phone for the entire cruise.

Second thing.............dinner! We were all getting hungry. We decided to go to the Main Dining room for dinner that night.

Later, we wanted to see the Welcome Aboard show at 10:15 PM in the Caribbean Theatre.

We found Amy and Greg, and we made a plan for all 8 of us to go to dinner together. We had all chosen "Your time dining" so we could go to dinner anytime between 5:45 and 9:30PM.

I think our luggage showed up right before dinner that night.

We also met Carlos, our room steward. He was very nice, but he wasn't chatty. He introduced himself, but he didn't stay long. I asked him if he would leave ice for us in a small cooler bag I brought, and he said he was happy to do that for me.

Before we left the cabin for dinner, we put out our "crusin" sign. This was to let Carlos know when we were out of our room,  so he could do the turndown.

When we were in the room we were supposed to put the "snoozin" side out, but we never did.

We met up with Amy's group and we all went down to dinner. The 8 of us sat at a big round table near the back of the dining room. I don't remember who our servers were.

The food was good. I didn't keep track of what I ate each night, but I liked all of the food I ate in the Dining Room.

After dinner, Amy and Greg wanted to go to "Superstar Live" at 8:30 in one of the lounges. It was karaoke with the live Carnival Victory band.

 The kids and I wanted to change our clothes before we went "out" for the evening so we told them we would meet them there.

When we got back to the rooms, Carlos had already turned down our beds and left us towel animals
He also left ice for us in the ice bucket, and in my little cooler bag.

We changed into more comfortable clothes, and went in search of the Adriatic club.
We found it at the back of the ship on deck 5.

The Adriatic Lounge, where Superstar Live was:

Just after we arrived at Superstar Live,  Amy and Greg were called to the stage!

We were lucky we arrived when we did, I had never been to karaoke before (ever) so it was cool to see my friends up there singing. We watched a few more songs. It was really good with the live band.

We walked around the ship some more, still looking around and getting to know our surroundings.

At one point, Lisa saw a group of Officers walking by and asked if they would pose for a picture, which they did.

We walked along the Promenade deck, and there were photographers with backgrounds. As we walked along they asked us to pose for pictures. We said no to all of them, we weren't dressed for pictures. Cody and I were both in yoga pants and sweatshirts, and Chris was wearing Nightmare Before Christmas pajamas. Then the last one talked us into it. We decided we had nothing to lose so the kids and I jumped in to pose for a picture.

We went past the giant map that showed where we were going this week. It was all lit up in red since we hadn't gone very far yet. As we cruised along, the lights would turn green along our route.
Florida, where we started is at the top left. The first island we were going to was Grand Turk. It's the yellow dot near the bottom right. We had 600 miles to go and it would take a day and a half to get there.

We found our way into the arcade and we played a really fun game of air hockey with 4 people.

Cody and I won!

At 10:00 the four of us went to the Caribbean Theater, the big theater at the front of the ship.

The Caribbean Theater:

We were there for the Welcome Aboard show. I was excited to see Marcelo, our cruise director. I had heard he was a very good cruise director and I wasn't disappointed. He was VERY funny, and very good with his audience. 

The show started with the Carnival Victory Band playing (they were very good, by the way) and there was singing and dancing on the stage. 
After the singing and dancing, Marcelo came out and did some funny stuff with the audience. I really liked him, and I would find out later in the cruise, he was very visible and also very nice. He was all over the ship, we saw him everywhere throughout the cruise. 
Likewise, the assistant cruise director, Donkey, was really good too. Donkey was as visible, as funny, and as nice as Marcelo was. They were both very charming.
They posed for this pic for me on the last night of the cruise, but I'll post it now so you can see who I'm talking about.

Marcelo and Donkey

Now back to the Welcome Aboard show................After Marcelo played around with the audience, he introduced one of the ship comedians. The guy, Tommy Drake, was pretty funny, and he balanced one of the ship's lounge chairs on his chin. We would have liked to have watched his show in the comedy club, but we never made it there during the week.
The Welcome Aboard show wasn't very long, maybe 40 minutes or so. I found that all of the ships shows, games and activities move along pretty quickly. 

When it was over, we went back to our cabin and sat on the balcony for a little while. It was really peaceful and calm on the ocean at night. 

At some point that night I barely caught the sunset off of our balcony, it was probably after dinner and before karaoke.
Since I don't remember exactly when I took the pic, I'll put it here, as it's a good picture to end the day with.

I told the kids they could sleep in the next day if they wanted to, but that Lisa and I were going to get up early to eat ship breakfast. It's one of my favorite things to do. I love the breakfast buffet, but I don't like the lines.
The kids wanted to join us for breakfast so I think we planned to meet for breakfast around 8:00AM

We all turned in for the night around midnight. We had a Sea Day coming up the next day and we were looking forward to spending the day on the ship doing ship things.

DAY 4 is HERE!


  1. this is so awesome how you take the time to do this.i very muched enjoyed your journey so far.thanks for shareing with me.and your beautiful kids all grown up.and tell your sister that Marilyn says hello.

  2. Thank you! I'm so glad you are enjoying it! I love to do this part so I can relive all of the fun I had over and over again. Thanks for your sweet comments! Let's plan a cruise!!

  3. I really awesome ...When I was reading your journey of the Caribbean Vacation now I want to go on one so ..I think that I'm going to start planing real soon for me and the girls to go on one ..But we was thinking about taking the Alaska Cruise..Thanks for sharing and lets the rest of dream that we was right there with you ....Sarah Trahan

  4. YES! Plan a cruise!! It's so fun! Carnival is the cheaper of all of the lines, and as you will see, they do a great job at making our cruises so awesome!! I can help you find a really inexpensive cruise that you would love. A lot of my friends have done the Alaska cruise, and they loved it. I hate the cold, so I'm staying in the Caribbean for my cruises, LOL