Here’s my first of probably at least 7 posts about our cruise earlier this month that will include lots of cruising tips. They may be a little spread out, but I’m just super busy now and am working on writing these up and going through photos as I have time.
Friday we left to head up to Valley, AL to watch Drew march during halftime. We had made arrangements before hand to snatch him up as soon as they came off the field and head south. That’s exactly what we did. I think it was almost 9 pm when we got out of there and we were just hoping to make it as far as possible. We had an 8 hour drive if we were to get all the way down to Port Canaveral, but we’d already decided that that wasn’t going to happen. We ended up stopping at the Quality Inn in Alachua, FL just north of Gainsville. Just quick note about that. This was the first place we stopped. It was a decent rate for 1 am or whatever time it was when we stopped, but I don’t recommend this hotel. Bathroom door didn’t close all the way, hot water ran out quickly, wake-up call never rang…
Saturday we woke up at 6:30am and continued southbound. We stopped at Dunkin Donuts on the Turnpike; Picked up some donut holes and some caffeine and forged on.
During our planning of the cruise, we looked to see how much it costs to park at the port. We discovered that the prices had gone up; for a 7-day cruise it would be $120. I think before when we parked at the port it was about $10/day not $17. Exploring different options, we found there to be a few companies that specialize in cruise parking and transportation to the ship. We read reviews from the Radisson all of which were good. $5.95 a day and you don’t even have to stay there. We booked ahead online. We payed right around $50 after taxes, etc. Highly recommend doing this instead of parking at the port!
We arrived at the Radisson around 10:30. My stomach was going crazy, rumbling, so as soon as we got there I took off for the restroom inside the hotel. When I came out Rob was like, “Get in, we gotta drive over there and get on the shuttle!” Rush, rush, rush! Which in most cases I’m good with that, but when your stomach is not being nice, it’s not so fun. Everything turned out fine. We went over to the next stop, where they took our luggage and put it on the shuttle. Meanwhile, I’m frantically shuffling around to make sure everything from the car that we hadn’t packed initially got put in the appropriate bags. I grabbed my purse and my carry-on, Rob drove the car off and parked it where it would stay all week, we hopped on the shuttle, and off we went to the cruise port! DANG! That was awesome. During the quick jaunt over to the cruise port, I’m thinking and looking to make sure that nothing was left in the car. All seemed good, so I enjoyed looking around the rest of the way to the port. Our ship was socked near the Disney Fantasy and the Carnival Ecstasy.
Carnival Ecstasy & Disney Fantasy
think know that I was the most excited when we entered the gangway. Although, I think Alex was a close second. After entering the ship, we headed straight for the bar to purchase our Coke Cards, which are now called Bottomless Bubbles. [$4.50 a day per child; $6.00 a day per adult]
Chillin’ out while Dad bought the Coke Cards
Taking advantage of the open deck area before it gets crowded!
The “Big” Screen right above the main pool, where they showed movies, concerts, etc throughout the week.
After that we found our way inside to buffet bars. I opted for the Italian bar on Deck 10 at The Gathering, while the boys jumped in the Mongolian Grill line. I rounded my first meal on the Dream off with a piece of Chocolate Mint cake, although, it was hardly mint. Oh so yummy!
My first taste of chocolate on the cruise and must add the best taste of chocolate all week!
After we ate, we went to check out the Kids’ Program areas; Camp Carnival for Alex and Circle C for Drew.
After we checked out those rooms, it was time for our cabin to be ready, so we excitedly went to see it; Cabin 8212 with a Balcony.
Later, the kids got their swimsuits on and went to Water Works where they rode all the water slides on the ship. Rob and I sat in the Adult only Serenity area that’s not far from there.
After hanging out at the Serenity Deck, Rob and I gave the kids instructions to meet us back at the cabin just before the Emergency Drill. He and I went to the bar for a drink and then back to the cabin. To our amazement, our luggage had been delivered! Rob promptly got busy unpacking for us all, so that we could stow the luggage under the beds. The kids met us back in time for the life boat drill.
A quick note about the Life Boat Drill. Carnival has revamped many things since the last time we cruised in 2008. The life boat drill is now condensed. You meet at your Muster Station and stay there for instructions on how to wear your life jacket, where you would go to get on your life boat, etc. You don’t actually leave your Muster Station like we used to. You also no longer have to wear your life jacket to the drill. Kudos to Carnival for this improvement!
After that we went back to the room to watch us set sail. We usually go to a deck to watch, but since we had a balcony, we just went back to our cabin. We watched as they detached the ropes. In the distance we could see Cape Canaveral.
Our cabin was Port Side Forward on the Veranda deck. We could look to our right and see the bridge, which was pretty cool. The guy facing us is the Captain Massimo Marino along with another officer.
Next on the agenda was Youth Program Orientation. During the Orientation, we were introduced to a new addition to the ship entertainment (which I was super excited to see), a dance group called Fun Force Dancers. Fun Force Dancers is a group of 4 guys who break dance, crump, etc.
Following that was dinner. We found our seating arrangement to be a table of 4 in a set up with a 1 long bench with several tables of 4 down the bench with 2 chairs pushed in on the other side. For our first dinner here’s what we ate:
Alex had beef and barley soup, tropical fruits, sweet and sour shrimp, sherbet
Drew had tropical fruit, beef and barley soup, chicken à la grecque, ? dessert
Rob had fresh fruit cocktail, sweet and sour shrimps, vanilla creme brulee
I had guacamole and tomato salsa, gazpacho andalouse, braised beef brisket in gravy, warm chocolate melting cake.
After dinner we went out to see the sunset and get a couple pictures.
Returning to our room, we found the pullman had been pulled down along with our towel animal, chocolates, and our fun time newsletter for tomorrow.
We decided to head up to Lido deck to watch some of the Alabama game and see if we could see the score for Auburn’s game.
The Lido deck was saturated with obnoxious Bama fans, so we went to the Encore Theater to watch Game Show Mania, while the kids went off to their Meet-N-Greets with the Youth Programs.
Finally, it was time for the Welcome Aboard Show, so we got the boys. Afterwards, we grabbed some free ice cream and watched The Welcome Aboard Laser Show out on the Lido Deck and went back to the cabin.
Here you see our Captain talking with the Cruise Director to his right and other officers to his left.
Before going to bed we went outside to the balcony and was surprised to see the Disney Fantasy sailing by at a much quicker speed. We laid down for a very comfy night and had sweet dreams of the next day which would behold lots more fun.
Read more about our cruise:
~ Day 2::Fun Day at Sea ~ Day 3::Cozumel ~ Day 4::Belize ~ Day 5::Roatan 1 ~ Day 5::Roatan 2 ~
Day 6::Costa Maya ~ Day 7::Day at Sea ~ Day 8::Disembarkation/Daytona ~
See more pics from Day 1 here.