September 27, 2001
First, a brief synopsis of the whole trip: It was a great cruise, Carnival food has improved tremendously, but service has slipped a bit, perhaps due to the tips being automatically being added to your sail-n-sign card, don't know. The ship is in great shape, clean and everything in working order. The carpets in the cabin area hallways have quite a few stains, but overall for a ship that does 4 & 5 day trips, she is in very good shape. Camp Carnival was good, though a few problems were encountered.
Entertainment was up to the usual Carnival caliber; as good as it was when I sailed the Inspiration in 1997. Not as many announcements all day long as was the case on the previous Carnival cruise I was on.
Overall, a great cruise, and it was great to see it through a child's eye on his first cruise.
Now for the details:
Arrival in Miami, Wednesday:
Day One, Thursday:
We went back to the hotel and checked out and headed out to the docks at 11:15am, which took all of 5 minutes to get over the bridge, but waited almost 25 minutes to get through the guard gate, (that was with very little traffic) they were asking for your cruise docs to get past this point. We pulled up to the terminal, un-loaded our luggage and I went and parked the car. Payment is cash in advance for parking. (yes, you can off-load luggage with no problem) We then proceeded on to the registration desk by way of the metal detectors, got through all that quickly and were headed up-stairs by noon. They were not boarding till 12:15. We got to our cabin by 12:30. All in all, even with the increased security, a very smooth and quick embarkation.
We went off to explore our new home for the next 4 days, and of course, "To The Buffet"! The dreaded Life Boat drill was an hour late, according to the schedule, no announcements made as to why. We found out later that is was due to the traffic back-ups at the port entrance, passengers and crewmembers were late getting to the ship.
At 5:30pm was the Camp Carnival meeting, it all went well, they handed out a schedule of the activities for the cruise, and on it was an "Over-Night" activity where they would keep your 9-12 year-olds from 10pm on Saturday, till 8am on Sunday for $32, not too bad we thought for a whole night for Mom and I, alone.... Anyway, they suggested to sign-up right away, as this tends to fill up fast, (only the first 20 kids) and to sign up at the Teen Center. Following the meeting we went directly to the Teen Center to sign up, the counselors were all in a meeting, and would not come to the door to tell us when we could sign up. We called and went to center several times throughout the night, no luck.
Early the next morning I went and was able to sign up! Anyway, our first evening we spent inside as it was raining off and on the whole day and night, made my obligatory deposit in the casino and prepared for dinner. Our son spent his first $20 in the arcade. Dinner was very good; we were seated at a table for 6, booth style table with our son in a chair at the end (I really don't like this type of table) and our four friends with us. After dinner I caught the end of the show in the Dynasty Lounge, which had a very funny comedian by the name of Kenny Miller, I also went to the Late night show with him performing, he was hilarious!!!
Day Two, Friday:
We had to be back on board by 1:30pm for a 2pm sailing, which was delayed due to a medical emergency. We left at about 2:45. Not a very long stay, unfortunately.
One note for those wanting to get off at Key West, due to the recent terrorist events, US Customs requires you to show your Passport or Birth Certificate and sail-n-sign card to leave the ship (and they did check each one thoroughly) and get back on the ship.
Back on the ship, the sail-away festivities were cancelled due to the weather, so we just hung around the ship and took part in one of the games called "Tic-Tac Trophy, a trivia type of game and our team won! Our prize... A 24k solid gold-plastic "Ship on a Stick" award, whoopee!... it was fun playing the game though.
This was the night for the Captains welcome aboard dinner, we usually skip the pre-dinner festivities and go straight for the picture taking areas. Had some very nice pictures taken and went on to dinner. I had Escargot and Salmon, both of which were excellent!
After dinner we caught the show called "Imagine It", decent show, well done, but they had two dancers from Russia, Youri and Luda, that were incredible!!
We were all pretty tired, I went to the casino for another quick deposit and turned in early.
Day Three, Saturday:
We left there, again plenty of taxi's waiting, went back to the ship to get cleaned up. Our son wanted to go to Camp Carnival, we were going into town. We gave him some money and we were off to town. We had a taxi take us into town, San Miguel, $5 and dropped us of at Pancho's Back Yard. This is a store with a lot of local crafts, t-shirts, knick-knacks and typical tourist stuff. It also has a restaurant, which for my tastes has the best Margaritas! We had an order of Fajitas, Chips and Salsa and an appetizer of Quesadillias. Also not to forget the Margaritas, Fabulous!!! My favorite restaurant in town.
After a few purchases we strolled on down to other shops and found a great deal on some Tanzanite at Tanzanite International. I'm happy with that purchase, as is my wife. We then stopped at Palmeras for another Margarita, (all that shopping left us parched, ha ha) nice place in the center of town across from the ferry pier.
We were going to stop in at Carlos and Charlie's, but the line to get in was out the door and on to the street, no thanks. We then got a taxi and went back to the ship. We all had to be on-board by 10pm, from what I heard, some people didn't make it, one very intoxicated person was brought out to the ship by the harbor pilot boat!
The ship pulled away at 10:30pm and we were off to the sail-away party! Many carry-overs from C & C's were there, it was a lot of fun. This was also the night of the Camp Carnival sleepover, which started at 10pm. This is where we had a little problem. At 1am our phone rang, you can imagine what went through our heads as I reached for the phone. It was one of the youth counselors stating that the sleepover had been cancelled due to only two children showing up. They waited till 1am to tell us that!?! We were in our room at 10pm while our son was there and no call about the cancellation. Then on the morning of departure we get a knock on our door with a woman stating that we hadn't signed one of the slips for babysitting charge for those three hours of the sleepover. I refused to sign it and wrote, "Refused" on the slip and told the lady that I will speak to her superior if there was a problem with that. We didn't hear a thing about it, and there were no charges for it. (I have since verified it with my credit card co.)
Day Four, Sunday:
Day Five, Monday: