Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Carnival Magic Cruise - DAY 1 - Friday, Nov 28, 2014 - Travel Day 1

This was a difficult review for me to write. This cruise went very differently than I expected, and it didn't turn out like any of the cruises or vacations I have written about in the past. The reason for my discomfort was that things were not as harmonious with my three travel companions as I would have liked. As a result of this, I spent much of this cruise either alone, or with new friends I met on the ship. 

I knew that writing about this trip in my usual over-detailed way was going to be tricky. I considered not writing about this cruise at all. I also considered not mentioning that there were problems between my travel companions and I. In the end I decided that I DO want to write about this trip, and it is probably best if I just tell it the way it went, rather than try to change the story.

So here you go. I'm going to write about spending 10 days on a vacation with people that didn't turn out to be very good travel companions for me. 

I think this type of review needs a disclaimer: 

Disclaimer: This review is my own opinion and reflects how this vacation went for me. I understand there are two (or more) sides to every story and my travel companions may have a completely different story to tell. They certainly have the freedom to tell their own story.
Because this blog is public, I decided to completely leave out the names and any photos I have of my travel companions. I also have heavily edited the parts where things didn't go well. I kept it as simple as I could, because I do not want this review to be about my travel companions or the fact that we didn't get along. That's not why I am writing this review. I am writing this review for the same reasons I have written my previous vacation reviews. I really just want to write about my cruise, the awesome islands I visited, and the beautiful ship I was lucky to be on for an entire week.

For purposes of this review, I will use the term "my roommate" when I mention the person I cruised with.

I will call the other 2 people that joined us on this cruise "the neighbors". 

Now that all that is said, on with the review:


"My roommate" and I started planning this cruise about a year ago. She was a friend of mine that I have known for about 25 years and I had reconnected with recently. She had cruised before, and so had I. We thought it would be fun to cruise together, and agreed we would book something if we could find a good deal. We both wanted to make this a "cheap" cruise. 
I have been known to take some giant whopper vacations, but since I have a huge Disney trip coming up, I knew I needed to tone this cruise down.

We decided to cruise out of Galveston Texas and drive to the ship. Texas is the closest port to us, and we figured it was cheaper to drive and split the gas, and save the cost of plane tickets.

Carnival is the cheapest of all of the cruise lines, so we started there. 
There are 2 Carnival ships that sail out of Galveston, the Carnival Magic and the Carnival Triumph. I really wanted to cruise on the Magic - a bigger newer ship built in 2010. 

We were looking at booking an interior cabin down on decks 1 or 2 (keeping it cheap!),  so I started looking for sales or deals on Carnival Magic cruises. I also was interested in trying out an interior cabin. On all of my other cruises, I have had a balcony cabin. As a travel agent, I wanted to get the experience of what an inside cabin was like, and this was going to be a good time to do that. 

I found that it pays to read the fine print in the mailings that Carnival sends out.

 In March I received this in the mail:

Now that's a deal!! It says if I booked my cruise by 3/31/14 I could get Platinum status for the cruise.


 Platinum status is only for people who have cruised 75 days or more. 

When I booked this cruise, I had 20 days at sea with Carnival from my previous 4 cruises. (Now I have 27 days at sea) Getting to cruise as a Platinum was a super sweet perk and a pretty big deal to me. 

Some of the Platinum perks I would get to enjoy on this cruise:

Priority embarkment and debarkment 
Chocolate delight delivered to cabin
Priority spa reservations
Priority dining reservations
Carnival Platinum gift
Priority tender to the islands
Priority guest services line 
3 bags of complimentary wash-n-fold laundry service

I was also going to get $100.00 onboard credit, which is money to spend on the ship. 

Since the Carnival advertisement for this deal was addressed specifically to me, I was the only one who would actually have the Platinum status on this cruise. Since my roommate and I were sharing a cabin, she would get to share in some of the perks with me.

We picked a 7 day cruise going to

Roatan, Honduras (Central America)
Belize (Central America)
Cozumel Mexico

the cruise also had 3 sea days.

As I was looking at the different cabins on the ship, I saw that we could get an inside spa cabin on deck 11 for a good price. It really wasn't very much more than a regular inside cabin.

Booking a spa cabin would allow both of us to use the facilities in the spa on the ship whenever we wanted. That sounded nice. The Carnival Magic has a "Cloud 9 Spa" and I was curious about what was involved with that. 
Also, if we booked a Spa cabin, we would both get some spa perks to go along with the Platinum perks.

Some of the perks that come with booking a spa cabin:

Cabin on deck 11 or 12 with special access to the spa
Special Elemis brand spa products in cabin
Bathrobe/slippers/ towel upgrade
Use of Thalassotherapy pool and steam rooms
2 free classes (yoga, pilates, etc)
Priority spa bookings

So now I was getting really excited about booking this cruise. All of the perks from the special Platinum booking and the perks from the spa cabin booking were going to be a nice treat for my roommate and I.

We booked the cruise for November 30th, 2014 because it was the one of the cheapest fares I could find. 

My roommate and I were happy we would have a chance to reconnect. We had lost touch for the most part for the last 10 years or so. We were both glad to have the time on this cruise together to rekindle our friendship. 

We had about 7 or 8 months until the actual cruise, and during that time, we talked only a few times. She pays for all of her phone minutes and she didn't have a computer for awhile. The cruise planning communication between my roommate and I was far and few between. 

No big deal really. After the cruise was booked, there wasn't a lot of planning to do anyway.

In April, two friends of my roommate got in touch with me on facebook and wanted to join us on this cruise. It was mother and daughter, and they booked a spa cabin next to my roommate and I on Deck 11.

The mother and daughter (I'll call them "the neighbors" for the rest of this review) had never cruised before and the daughter was especially nervous to cruise. The daughter is in her 30's and going on a cruise had always been a dream for her. Its very understandable to be nervous before your first cruise (I was!)  and I did everything I could to ease her mind. Because they were friends of my roommate, and because they were cruising with us, I spent A LOT of time between email and instant messaging, going over details about ship life, answering her questions, and reassuring her that she was going to be fine. We were also building a friendship, or so I thought, since we were going to be cruising together. I messaged back and forth with the daughter almost every day. Some days it was just to answer a quick question that she had, and other days we would message back and forth for several hours.

As the cruise got closer, the conversations with the daughter were getting stressful for me. There was a lot going on with this mother/daughter. It seemed to me that they had one problem after another and there was a lot of whining and complaining and I sometimes wondered if these people were going to be able to have a good time on the cruise. I also wondered if all of their problems and complaining were going put a damper on my cruise. My patience was being tested daily as the cruise got closer. I hoped when they got on the ship they would calm down and everything would be fine. 

Although I was getting just a bit nervous about how this cruise was going to go, I wasn't going to let any of it bother me, I was going ON A CRUISE! 

As the cruise approached, the 4 of us made plans to meet at a hotel in Galveston the night before the cruise. My roommate and I would drive together in my truck, and the neighbors would drive together in their car. We would meet in Galveston and board the ship together. 

A couple of days before the cruise, I did my nails. I had found a picture online and I bought nail decals on Ebay and tried to do the same design. 

They turned out OK, but they didn't last long. I had put 2 coats of clear polish on top of the decals, but they started peeling off by the 2nd day. I superglued the edges down, but they peeled up anyway.

I really wanted 2 days to make the 14 hour drive from Kansas City to Galveston.

I'm not used to driving long distances without my husband doing the actual driving, so I thought it was more reasonable that we do 2 seven hour driving days.

We could take our time and maybe stop along the way and do some sightseeing. It would also give us time to spend in Galveston the afternoon before the cruise. 
My roommate and I agreed that we would leave early Friday morning, although we never specified exactly what time "early" was.

In my mind, I had hoped we could leave around 7 or 8ish. I had a feeling my roommate wouldn't be ready quite that early so my more reasonable thought was that I hoped we could leave by 9 or 9:30 AM.


Friday came and I was up and ready to hit the road by 9:00AM.
My roommate called around 10:30 AM and said she was running late and she would be over as soon as she could.

She finally arrived at my house ready to start our roadtrip around 6:00PM (YES!  SIX PM!)

So we had lost an entire driving day.

I was getting pretty frustrated waiting for her to show up, but I was OK after she finally arrived.

I was willing to forget it. Shit happens. She was here now and we were going on a cruise!!!!!!!

At that point I was determined to get us on the road and get as far as we could that night. 

My Sweetheart loaded our suitcases in the back of the truck around 6:30PM. He had already filled the tank with gas for us earlier in the day. I said goodbye to him (It's always sad to say goodbye to my Sweetie) and we were off! 

 After a quick stop at Wendy's for a burger and fries, we got on I-35 and headed south.

We were both really exited to be on the road, AND WE WERE GOING ON A CRUISE!!! We talked and talked all night while I drove. We caught up on everything and I don't think we even turned the radio on. We were having a good time and the hours went by really fast.

We did talk about the neighbors, and I found out that my roommate wasn't actually "friends" with them, which is what the daughter had told me. They were more like acquaintances. My roommate said she hardly knew them at all and had met them at one of her jobs in the small town they live in.

 Remember that communication was far and few between my roommate and I while we were planning this cruise, so we really hadn't talked much about the neighbors until we were on the way to Galveston. I also want to add that it was my roommate that named them "the neighbors" on the 2nd day of this cruise. Neither my roommate or I had a very good vibe from the neighbors by the 2nd day, and when she referred to them as "the neighbors", we both thought it was funny and the name stuck (it also works well for this review).

Since we were driving at night time, the traffic was very light. There were a few times when it seemed like we were the only ones on the road. We had no idea when we crossed from Kansas into Oklahoma, but we went through Oklahoma City sometime after midnight. I thought we were doing quite good. We were making up some lost time. I wanted to get as close to Dallas as I could before we stopped for the night. 

It was closer to 2:00AM when we found a Super 8 just off the highway in Ardmore Oklahoma. After we stopped I looked at the map and realized we really had done pretty good. We were about 100 miles north of Dallas. Pretty close to where I wanted to be if we had left earlier that morning. 

We couldn't really see what the hotel looked like on the outside, since it was so dark when we pulled in, but we were so tired we didn't care. The price was good, it was $73.00 total for the night, and we each paid half. 

We signed the paper, got our room keys, and unloaded our suitcases out of the truck. By the time we got to our room, I was really tired. 

It was about 3:00AM when I fell asleep. 

Since I didn't get a picture, I went to Google Earth and took a screenshot of the hotel we stayed in.

The Super 8 on I-35 in Ardmore Oklahoma:
(Google Earth screenshot image)

DAY 2 is HERE!

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