Monday, March 28, 2011

The Entire Cruise in Blog Format (With Photos!)

Some of this I'll be taking directly from my Carnival forum posting and filling in some gaps here and there.  Since I stopped updating Wednesday you'll get to read the rest of the week and see the photos now too!
Day 1 - Embarkation and Sail Away

We woke up before the alarm on Sunday and started to gather things together for the dogs. Byron did his usual "climb on top of me" to wake me up routine since he always has breakfast on the brain. After they were fed we packed their bedding and paperwork into a suitcase and started loading things into the car.

Somehow I managed to forget my makeup case which isn't a huge deal but irritated me a little bit that I forgot something so obvious. We dropped the dogs off at the boarding place. It went much smoother this time, Basil didn't seem scared at all and was actually running around quite happy. Byron loved seeing new dogs to play with and Bernie was just happy there was a new person to pet her. I explained the feeding routine for all of them and then we went off to grab some breakfast at Waffle House before heading back home to print off confirmations for excursions that I forgot to do.

Then we were off to the port! It was chaos when we showed up. I don't remember it being that busy last time. I think we showed up later than last year since it was more chaotic when we got inside the door. We had to wait in line about 30 minutes or so between the security checkpoint and the Carnival check-in desk before getting on board. The good thing is we didn't have to wait at all this time, after we got our Sail and Sign cards we just went on board. We caught up with our friends and headed up to Lido deck and I talked them into heading to the new Serenity area to wait until our cabins were ready.

The new Serenity area is fantastic! We occupied a section of chairs and couches and relaxed. My worries about children infiltrating the adult area were unfounded as I noticed one family bring their child in and they were asked to leave the adults only area while we were waiting. There are several tables, couches, lounge chairs, papasan chairs with clamshell covers and 4 hammocks. I doubt I'll be climbing into a hammock anytime soon as my history with hammocks is not a good one. **I actually spent some time in the hammocks and the only mishap I had was caused by my husband trying to scare me.**

After grabbing a small bite to eat (I had Sicilian fish with grilled vegetables that was wonderful) we headed to our cabin. Our cabin is on the very end of the ship so we get to see - and hear - the ships wake and everything behind us. We do have quite a few neighbors but they were not overly loud thankfully. Our balcony came equipped with 3 deck chairs and a small table. Ringo's chair fit out there just fine and he felt comfortable in it. It is heavier than the deck chairs so I don't think we'll need to fold and unfold it every time we go out there.

We went to the informal meet and greet for our Cruise Critic roll call but no one showed up. Earlier up on deck at the Serenity area one of the roll call members recognized me and we said hello. I also ran into another member that recognized me in the elevator! I'm hoping everyone shows up for the meet and greet open bar that they paid for today. I get the feeling that is where I'll meet a majority of the folks I've been chatting with the last 10 months.

We took a tour of the spa and entered to win spa treatments (we didn't). The spa is really nice and they have a shower and sauna area available for all guests. The fitness center has a great whirlpool inside of it too if you don't want to be out in the sun. We might do that sometime if it isn't crowded.

Then we went on deck to watch the ship go under the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. They have about 14" of clearance so it is amazing to watch. I got a few photos - hope they turn out ok since the sun was setting and kept messing up my exposures.

After a bit more exploring we went back to our room and relaxed a bit before dinner. I had shrimp cocktail, gazpacho, St. Louis style ribs and for dessert - creme brulee and chocolate melting cake. The rib plate was gigantic. I couldn't believe the amount of ribs I got and they were so tender and delicious. Ringo got the southern fried chicken plate, lasanga and same desserts as me. He said the lasanga wasn't what he was used to but he really liked it. Our friends got the same entrees as us and enjoyed themselves. We were seated right next to the railing so we could see the dining room below us. I brought my gnome Carl to dinner and he enjoyed it too.

Speaking of Carl - he is making the rounds already and having quiet a few photos taken of himself. I figured out I can clip him to my lanyard via the handle of his bucket so he is easier to carry around. Kind of regretting leaving on his "handle" but it's ok, it has come in handy a few times I just gotta make sure I don't impale myself.

Last night after dinner we went on the Serenity deck and enjoyed the hot tub under the stars. It was quite deserted so I'm glad we went. The moon looked amazing over the water! I took a few photos but I doubt it did the moon any justice. It was a relaxing evening and we all had a good time.

Once back at the room Ringo ordered some BLT sandwiches (our favorite room service meal) so we snacked on those and then tucked in to bed.

The ship wasn't rocking nearly as bad as the first cruise we took. I'm glad for that. This morning it is rocking a bit more, I think it is because of how windy it is in the Caribbean right now. I heard Grand Cayman is supposed to have high winds all week so I don't know if we'll be able to go ashore because of that.

Day 2 - Fun Day at Sea

I woke up early of course and decided to go wander around the ship and post an update before I forget all the things we've done.

Yesterday was our first day at sea. After waking up and posting on the forum, we went and had breakfast in the main dining room. We never did this previously so it was a new experience. They serve everything to you and you order off the menu. The food was okay but we preferred to do Lido after seeing the small portions and small selection of things for breakfast. The boys were still hungry after eating there so we sat at the buffet while they got some more breakfast before figuring out what to do.

They had an arts and crafts activity so Ashley and I went to that. Olena taught us how to make rosebuds out of tissue paper and plastic drink stirrers. I made 5 of them in various colors and Ashley made quite a few as well. It takes some practice to get them looking good since you've got to fold and twist at the same time. Apparently the Legend is the only Carnival ship to offer this activity. Olena told us she's been on the ship for 3.5 months and they assigned her to work in the cigar bar. She had problems tolerating the smoke so she would sometimes go hide in the back and make roses out of the tissue paper. They found out she could do this and asked her to teach a class on it. The last sea day she will teach us how to make carnations and it looks much easier.

We caught back up with the boys and decided to split up. Ringo and I went to the fitness center hot tub and relaxed for a while. Afterwards we met back up on deck and dried off in the shade. It was really windy up there so it didn't take long to dry off. We caught some lunch and then got ready for the Meet and Greet.

Everyone came and checked in early thankfully. The open bar meet and greet got off to a bit of a rough start. I thought the doors were locked and then we realized you just had to push on them to open. After everyone got settled our wait staff began moving around with trays full of drinks. Everyone had a great time. One family brought me a shot glass set from North and South Carolina as a thank you gift! It was really sweet. We are hanging out with them at the beach in Cozumel since a few people booked the same excursion as us.

We took a nap afterwards and then got ready for the first elegant night. Because of how popular the main dining room is on Elegant night we had to wait about 40 minutes or so before we were seated. They must have gotten slammed. We took the time to do some photos out on deck as the sun was setting. Dinner was pretty good. I got prime rib and the pear carpachio appetizer. For dessert they had an apple crisp that I remembered was good last time. Ringo had the spaghetti carbonara. Three of us ordered macaroni and cheese as we'd heard how good it was. They made it for us special and it was delicious.

We hightailed it to the 9:30PM comedy show after leaving there and enjoyed listening to Diane. Then it was time to relax on our balcony and see the stars before heading to sleep!

Day 3 - Grand Cayman

This morning we woke up later than usual but made it to breakfast around 8:30. The ship had been in Grand Cayman since 7AM. I ate some cereal and then we all hopped onto a tender boat to go ashore. The ride was only about 5 minutes from our ship to the pier. THe port area is kind of chaotic with cab drivers trying to sell you their tours. We popped in to the Tortuga Rum Cake store right there and Ringo purchased three different cakes.

We kept asking the drivers to tell us which one would take us to the turtle farm They put us on one bus then took us off and put us on another. After waiting 15 minutes while he tried to fill up his bus we asked how much the fare was to go to the turtle farm and then he said he wasn't going there. So we got off again frustrated and spent another 10 minutes trying to find a driver. Finally they found a lady that would take us along with a tour group she had in her bus so she drove us to Hell, dropped off her tour passangers and then took us to the turtle farm.

The turtle farm gave us a special admission price of $10 per person because a taxi had dropped us off which was awesome! Online the price is like $35. We wandered around the different areas. They have a large breeding pond with the big sea turtles. Then they have some separate holding tanks for the other small turtles that are growing. You can pick them up in there and hold them. They know how to avoid the tourists though, some just sit on the bottom of the tank and others stay near the areas where the tourists can't reach them. We still managed to catch a few and take a few photos. Their little faces are so sweet.

We purchased some cold coconuts and had some coconut milk and then he cracked them open so we could eat the meat from the inside. Mine was more like jelly but it was good. He sprinkled some raw brown sugar on it and it gave it a great flavor. After a quick stop in the gift shop to get some stuff we headed back. The lady told us about a local bus that would take us back to the port. I wasn't sure how to find it but Ringo said we'd find a way back.

After asking one bus if they were going back to the port area we stood for a minute to look across the street where they have the Dolphin Discovery place and more busses. A bus pulled up, dropped off some people and asked us if we needed a ride to the port and we said yes. Turns out that was the local bus. You can ride for $2.50 a person. It was less expensive than the first bus we took by far.

We rode all through Grand Cayman. He picked up several other local passengers and someone handed him his lunch at one intersection. The houses are on very small lots, not much grass at all and most people have chickens running through the place. We saw some local dogs, a horse and a cow. It took another 25 minutes to get back to the port area. We wandered around a bit and then picked up our rum cakes before getting back on the tender.

I just ate some lunch and now I'm gonna go take a nap before we go to the Chef's Table tonight. Should be a fun experience! We get to tour the galley and meet all the chef's staff. One person in our group gets to help make Chocolate Melting Cake!

I've been taking lots of photos. Unfortunately today I was told to not bring Carl off the ship anymore because of his little stake. So I tried to break it off and ended up snapping his feet off. So now it looks like he has nothing below the knees. At least he is more portable now. When I get home I'll hacksaw off the stake and glue his feet back on. For now he'll be traveling with no feet.

We rested a bit before heading down to the lobby bar to meet the rest of our Chef's Table diners. There were seven people total dining at the Chef's Table. The head chef came and escorted us down to the main galley where they were currently serving dinner. A station was set up with all the ingredients for Warm Chocolate Melting Cake - including a huge chocolate bar - and we were served champagne. The sous chefs provided small plates and gave us small appetizers to enjoy as the chef explained various things around the galley and how it worked. It was rather loud in the area so I wasn't always able to hear what he said.

We were served ahi tuna tartar with an avocado cream on top, a duck potsticker and a steak taco. They all tasted amazing! After that I volunteered to help make the chocolate melting cake that we'd later be eating. Basically the only thing I got to do was whisk the eggs and whisk in the sugar before the sous chef took over - I guess I was whisking too slow for his taste.

The galley area is huge and we only saw a portion of it. They have sections to prepare salads, appetizers, desserts and main courses. Each main dish and appetizer is cooked when it is ordered, nothing is cooked in advance. They have to carefully time some of the desserts that take longer than normal to bake and anticipate how many they will need at each dinner seating.

The chef talked about how he had to order food for the next cruise. He does it two weeks in advance and it is based on the number of adults versus children on board as well as ethnicity. He likes to provide a taste of home for each ethinicity on board so he orders food accordingly. He is only allowed to get food from the home port so it is inspected by the USDA. If a vendor can't provide the food that was in his purchase order they have to fly it in and provide it another way which can quadruple the cost for the vendor. He said it takes him about six hours to complete a food order for a cruise.

After the tour was over we were taken to the disco on the dance floor where a table was set up for us. The floor was lit up to provide some lighting in the room. We were served our first appetizer which was salmon tartar with avocado mousse. Then we had poblano and corn bisque. After that was a salad, then the Filet Mignon and a dessert. I think I might have missed a course - there were so many. We each received a customized menu with our names on it wrapped in ribbon with a star anise attached. I'll have to scan it - it is gorgeous.

We were entertained by a closeup magician that does card tricks and things.  He was really awesome!

The dessert was our chocolate melting cake and a few special treats from the chef. The entire meal was just amazing. Easly one of the best things we've ever done on a cruise. I highly recommend it. The chef made the evening very special, explained each course, quizzed us on some different cooking terms and then at the end of the meal asked us if we noticed what one ingredient we had in nearly every course. I guessed avocado correctly!

We met up with our friends and then headed down to the disco for throwback night with 70's, 80's and 90's music. Ringo enjoyed taking photos of me "cutting the rug" with our friend. Things got pretty crazy out there by the time we left around 1AM.

Day 4 - Cozumel

Since we'd stayed up so late we slept in and went to breakfast around 10:30AM. After that we got off the ship and went directly to the taxi area in Puetra Maya. Getting a taxi to our destination was much easier than in Grand Cayman. Our driver tried to convince us to go to a different beach but we kept telling him to take us to Nachi Cocum. It took about 20 minutes or so. The entrance looks kind of sketchy but once you get in it is gorgeous.

The area includes a private beach, hot tub and pool along with a covered open air dining room. We moved our stuff from the beach chairs up to the pool area and spent a majority of our time in the hot tub. It wasn't really hot - just warmer than the pool and the beach water. The beach has crystal clear water - you can see all the way to the sand on the bottom. It was rather steep and I kept sinking down into the sand past my ankles. Quite a workout just walking up and down that beach.

I stuck to pina coladas most of the day and Ringo drank more Corona's than I can remember. We had wonderful servers that were so funny and kept joking with us. It was a very nice relaxing day. I only missed a few spots with sunscreen thankfully and didn't burn.

We headed back to the port area and purchased some vanilla and Mexican blankets. They had a deal to get 3 Mexican blankets for $14.95 which was perfect so now Byron can have his own bed and leave Bernie's alone. We'll see if he will actually use it. I doubt Basil will use his as he much prefers our bed but we shall see.

After coming back I took a quick shower and we napped until dinner. Ringo wasn't feeling well so he didn't eat anything. I had mozzarella sticks and New Zealand Lamb chops! They tasted amazing. For dessert I had the Bitter and Blanc bread pudding and tiramisu. Both tasted wonderful. We headed back up to the room to let Ringo sleep and I grabbed my stuff to go do some sewing for a bit before the 10:30PM deck party.

So that is where I'm headed now - going to go wake him up and see how he feels and then we'll be relaxing up on deck for the deck party and midnight buffet. Tomorrow the ship is in Belize but we won't be getting off so it'll just be a casual day for us to play card and board games. I might see if I can get a massage or a facial depending on what the special is. Can't believe it is Wednesday already and it is almost over....

Day 5 - Belize

This was another sea day for us as there were not any excursions we were interested in doing and you have to take a rather long tender from the ship to get to shore.  So we slept in.  After grabbing a late breakfast we met up with our friends and I watched them hit up the ice cream and nacho bar.

I decided to get some sort of spa treatment so I ended up doing a mini facial, eye booster and scalp massage.  My spa therapist was really nice, she's from Sydney, Australia.  She was on her first contract and said after she completed it she didn't think she would do another one.  She wanted to see the world rather than do the same cruise over and over.  We chatted a bit about marriage, not having children and the pressure you get when you get older and still don't have any... then the treatment was over and I met up with everyone at the Firebird Lounge where they were watching the A-Team.

The rest of that day we just kind of bummed around, played some games and of course, ate food.  Since we had to wake up early the next morning we decided to head in around 10PM after relaxing a bit up on the Serenity deck.

Day 6 - Isla Roatan

This was our favorite port last time even despite doing a Carnival excursion.  This time was even better as we did a private tour company and I requested a guide I'd heard great things about!  To get to our guide we had to trek up this huge hill and down a very steep decline to where the guides were allowed to park outside of Carnival's port area.  Carnival built this huge port and won't allow any private excursion companies inside the gates unless you are returning from an excursion.  The old port they let them have an office inside of it because Carnival doesn't own it and can't enforce the rules.

After making it to our guide in one piece (the decline seriously had me concerned, I felt like I was gonna roll down the hill if I made a misstep) he loaded us into his air conditioned minivan and off we went around the island.  He took us on the east side first and showed us the Mayor's unfinished mansion that is designed to look like the White House, the Spanish quarter, the fishing harbor, Wendys, the new mall, and we drove around this really nice beach area that was just gorgeous with the sun rising.

After that we went to see the monkeys, birds and other wildlife at Victor Bodden's house.  He also has a zipline that Jason did as we waited.  He said it was fun but it was really hot up in the tree canopy.  Everyone had fun petting the baby monkeys and feeding the parrots and deer.

There was this one animal that was akin to a raccoon and it held it's back against the fence so people would scratch it for him!  He loved it!  Only a man would do that.

Our driver took us to this cute little bar for lunch that was on a pier over the water.  Ringo got to have some of the Honduran beer he loves so much but can't get here in the states.  Everyone ordered a hamburger but I wanted something different so I ordered shrimp and wings.  They were just delicious!

Our driver took us back and we got on the ship to rest a bit before dinner.  That night was elegant night so we decided to skip it and eat up at the Lido deck instead.  It was pretty much deserted.  We played some board games and stayed up pretty late.

Day 7 - At Sea

After breakfast I wanted to try out the Amazing Race.  They give you a piece of paper and you wander around the ship answering the clues.  Since I was the only one on my team I was at a severe disadvantage.  I was forced to climb the glass staircase so I could count how many steps were there which was super scary to me (it was 10 decks up and you could see all the way to the lobby through them).  When I got back I was apparently the 30th team to return so we decided to go do something else.

We played Bingo and trivia.  Then we did some more board games.  I taught the others how to play Toss Up and it turned into a real competition.  The other games we played a lot were Apples to Apples and Bananagrams.  Bananagrams is hard!  The good thing is it takes a lot of time but you have to do it on a really large table or you run out of room.

We hit up the Fun Farewell party where they serve free drinks for 45 minutes and play music for you.  Hence, the photo on the right.  

We ate dinner on the Lido deck that night and then packed everything up.  Re-packing was a chore.  Nearly misplaced our passports but we found them in another bag.  After chatting on Serenity deck a bit we all headed to bed to be ready for early debarkation.

Day 8 - Debarkation Day

This time things went much smoother.  I'm glad to see that Carnival has taken steps to make the debarkation process on the Legend much better organized this time than it was last year.  Last year was a complete cluster and we handled our own baggage to try and avoid issues - it created more of them I think.

This year we got put into Zone 4 which is a much lower Zone than we had before (which was 10) and we had them set out our luggage at the port so we didn't have to handle them ourselves through the ship.  They took forever to clear self assist debarkation passengers before calling actual zones.  Once they did call the zones it went quickly.  We went down to deck 2 and wound our way around to the exit.  It was so much easier this time.

After hauling the luggage out I picked up the car and drove it around.  We loaded it up and then headed up to Wesley Chapel to pick up the doggies.  Beverly said Byron was quite a hit at the daycare that week and everyone loved him.  She told Ringo that when she'd go walk around the yard Bernie would follow her instead of playing with the other dogs, which is typical of Bernie.

We got home and took a nap.  I did talk Ringo into going to see Sucker Punch which I sort of liked.

We purchased a Future Cruise Certificate which will entitle us to on board credit once we book our next cruise.  Not sure which Carnival cruise we'll be doing next - probably won't be until 2013 - but we shall see.  I'm hoping to do a Southern Caribbean cruise out of San Juan.


  1. Wow, your criuse was a lot of journal work to keep up with so many details. It was fun to check out your cruise by blog.
    Hope this one comes through since I've posted before and it hasn't...

  2. The photo editing took the longest I think... but it is nice to look back on it a year from now and remember what we did! Worth the time invested. We had a fantastic time and it seems the dogs also had a great time at daycare away from us. :)

  3. It was a very nice cruise, enjoyed it so much. It was also a pleasure meeting you and your husband. Thankyou again for the meet and greet, and Nachi Cocum was wonderful! we had Carlos as our waiter and he was so efficient. I really enjoyed reliving the cruise through your photos. and who knows maybe we will see each other again in a future cruise and/or a roll call~ Lisa and Jimmy(webecruizin) from South Carolina

  4. Hi, It's Jurora,(Julia)from the Roll Call group. I just wanted to say I liked reading your Blog, and seeing a different version, of how we spent our trip. It was a fun time, wasn't it...not having to make and serve meals, and clean-up after the children, was a great part of the trip too!! Just wanted you to know, I did pass thru' the Legend's Cafe, on the day of arrival, with my daughter, to see if anyone was still hanging around there, but they weren't. My fault, being late, as we got to our cabin at 1:40, and got busy, and I lost track of time! Maybe others were busy too, sorting there stuff. I tried to recognize people, over the next few days, from some of their pics they posted, but no luck. I think Nilbogs were on the same elevator for a short while, but I didn't realize until later (as they looked familiar), but her hair was shorter and she was wearing glasses, but not in Roll Call pic. With so many people on the ship, it was hard to 'pick-out' people. I never did see you nor your hubby, but with our different type of plans, it was no wonder, suchas you had later seating, we didn't, we wouldn't have seen you at ports, as we did different things than you, and we never went to the card room, etc... I hope to get my Cruise Critic review done soon. I see Victory Bound did a really long one; daily journal type. Julia


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