30 January 2010

Carnival Legend

As written in Dec 2006

Total Staterooms - 1,062
Decks - 12
Passenger capacity - 2,124
Total crew - 930
Officer's nationality - Italian
Ship size - Large
Tonnage - 88,500
Ship length - 963
Registry - Panama
Gross tonnage
85,900 (including balconies, approx. 88,500)

We were sailing out of Miami Fl.  This is always one of my favorite ports.  I love to look at the hotels on the beach, the folks hanging out on the beach, that island of condos (have no idea what it is called), all the cruise ships (I love to try and figure out what each one is before I look at the hull), and just Miami in general.

Our room was just a little bit of wonderful!  We had a couch, a first on any cruise!  This was the largest Carnival vessel that we have sailed to date and you can see in the quality of the rooms how far they have come in a short time.  We paid for an inside cabin, the cheapest on the ship, but were very surprised when Carnival upgraded us for FREE to a mini balcony.  It did have a lifeboat right outside but big deal!  The bathroom had a vast amount of storage space and a tile counter (another first).  Our room had large wooden cabinets, now we have had these on other lines, but never Carnival.  It is nice to be able to store everything.

Around the ship:

The Colossus Atrium--- features a 100ft tall painting of one of the greek gods, I think it is Zeus .  This was by far the loveliest lobby s that I had ever entered. It features many rooms that look out onto the lobby.  That large painting...and a wonderful series of glass elevators.

The Follies Lounge-  A very San Juan inspired lounge, and the main lounge.  There were turret that were reminiscent of the real El Morro, only these were in a teal color with a sandy yellow stucco look.  The tiles outside the lounge were in a Spanish theme in the same teal and yellow colors. 

Unicorn Cafe- VERY medieval.  I loved it here.  I could picture myself in the days of Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry II.  The colors were hues that you would have expected of medieval times.  There were castle paintings, paintings of 1300-1400 people in their empire wasted dresses.

Firebird Lounge-  A Russian inspired bar...the colors were an brilliant red, sunshine yellow, and a holiday green.  There were artworks that reminded one of the skyline in Moscow.  A very religious type painting of a Russian angel is right inside and very awe inspiring.

The hallway leading to the Follies Theater featured a MASSIVE reproduction of the famous MGM "family" reunion that LB Mayer commissioned in the early 50's.  This was done for Life magazine and I have a copy of it because it has always made me happy.

Truffles Restaurant-  Where we first met with June and Jay.  It was our first cruise only have one other couple with us and lucky for us, it was a wonderful couple that we had tons in common with.  They were seasoned cruisers so we all had lots to talk about.  There was one thing about this dining room that I had never seen on our other ships...there was an escalator that the waiters (Ninja and Byron) took down into the belly of the ship and back up with our food, so the kitchen was below.  It was a very large escalator.

FUN---John and I did the usual things that we do on a cruise, sun, sand, casino (just a little we broke even $90), and walk around, but this time; I took a crafts class (loved every second of it), and we played Family Feud and WON!!  We had won Carnival trophies before, but this one was a very heavy medal.  I was so proud of us, we love it when we win the prizes. 

The Enchanted Forest---my favorite part of the ship, it was a very narrow hallway in which they had built a bar.  It was NEVER occupied, so I went into it every day and painted, drew, sketched, wrote, and listened to music.  It was like something from Snow White.

Rodeo Drive-a LARGE mall of wonderful shops...spend more dough here than I ought to have. 

Martinique-  A very tiny island and one that we have never been to before.  We started out with a lot of excitement.  There was this elderly couple whose room was close to ours and we kept saying they were too old and not in the best of health.  We were right!  They both were escorted off the ship in stretchers and that slowed down the ships debarkation, but gave interesting views to most of the passengers.  I had tons of time to take photos while this went on.  WE were docked in Fort de France, and John and I walked into town because we wanted to see the fort and what else the town had to offer.  We probably walked about 1 mile into town through what I call slums.  Our first sight was this row of apartments that I thought were condos when I was taking photos from the ship.  Upon closer inspection they were a dive!  Horrible conditions!

When we got into the area around Fort St Louis there was a huge park.  We were told that in this park that we might see things that were illegal to do in public in America(with couples).  We did not see any nakedness, but did see tons of folks "making out".  The palm trees in this park where the best that I have ever seen in my life.  We took lots of photos of the trees.  And looming straight ahead was this wonderful looking fort.  It is very much built in the fashion of El Morro, just on a smaller scale.  I shopped in a market and then back to the ship.

Barbados- From the instant that I laid eyes on this place I was in love.  Madly!!!!  You dock in Bridgetown and it looks just wonderful.  The port authority folks were not scary as in some ports, and actually said hello.  We got to the end of the pier and there met our tour.  Glen was to show us the best that the island had to offer.  We bordered a 4x4 jeep and almost immediately drove into the land of sugar cane.  The island makes lots of  sugar.  The canes were whipping up against the side of our jeep.  Glen told us to not let them hit us because we would get cut.  WE passed a row of palm trees (the same variety we had seen in the park)...Glen said when you see palms in a row it meant the owner was rich or you were at a sugar factory.  We were passing the later.  It did not look like much, but the palms were just the best.  Making our way to the coast we entered the town of Bathsheba.  There was graffiti on the walls, monkeys in the yards (they were a small variety and very cute), burned out sugar mills, complete shacks, and literally TONS of churches (Glen said there were 2 churches for every person that lived on the island).  As we passed one church, you looked over the side of the church yard and there it was the ocean!  It was the most fantastic ocean that I have ever seen! It is literally the end of it all, there is nothing else standing between you and Africa except the ocean you are gazing upon.  It was a ultramarine blue with flecks of topaz in it.  The waves were something that you can only imagine.  They were massive.  Glen said it was against the law to swim in the waters because they were too dangerous.  The beach was covered in sand that can be described as rocky and brownish white.  There were rocks that you would see off the side of the road going into the Smokey Mountains.  And white waves as far as you could see.  Glen said it was hard for surfers to stay away because of the huge temptation that the waves left.  We had a snack across the street, but I could not stay away from that beach.  I had never (and have not since) seen any beach that can compare to this beach.  And I don't even know the beach's name.  I know that an episode of the Bold and the Beautiful was filmed in a shack that was abandoned on the beach many years ago. 

We boarded our 4x4 and began another sightseeing tour.  Glen took us by Tiger Woods and Paul McCartney's house.  Past a row of shops that looked like something in Charleston, SC and then to a beach.  It was the rockiest beach that I had ever been to.  I was glad that I had aqua socks on.  I took lots of shells home with me too and we saw a crab walking across the sand.

We took our tour back to the pier and there was wall of giant rocks that looked like it was to help a sea surge and we climbed on top of them and went through a public park near the pier.  The ship left and headed to St Maartin.

St Maartin-  One of my favorites port....ahhhhh Philipsburg.  I love to shop here.  If you like designer wear this is your one stop.  WE took the water taxi into town (we usually walk) and it was a little bit of fun.  It took us from the pier to the ship in about the time it would have taken to walk, but it was more exciting you and did not have to walk by all the folks asking you to shop in their store.  Once we got into town, I knew right where I wanted to go, so I walked in and bought a Prada bag.  Philipsburg is on the Dutch side of St Maartin, but it is very french like in the architecture and couture.  When you get off the ship, to the right is a row of excursions that you can take.  We always do the same one, Orient Beach because we want to go to the French side.  The beach is just outside of Marigot and is lovely.  Not like Bathsheba, but very nice.  Now there are ugly naked people sometimes walking about on the French side so watch out, but it is a quiet beach where you can rest.  My intention was to get my hair braided and I did.  It took forever!!!  John was in the water the entire time I was getting my hair braided.  I also shopped in the stores for Hannah a beach towel that turned into a bag, because that was one thing that she asked for.  I did find one at a great price...not the color she wanted, but a great price. We stayed for a couple of hours, got wet a couple of times (rain) and then it was time to go.  When we got back to port, there were several ships in port, I got some wonderful photos of those ships as it was dusk and the ships were all lit up. 


Next stop....Miami

Wonderful ship!  Probably my favorite Carnival Ship.  I want to sail her again.

06 January 2010

A surprise gift

I don't think I have ever told you that I have cruise fever. I am constantly looking, and honestly the day we got home from the Fantasy last month, I got a brochure on the Epic and started instantly looking for good prices on her. This was before Christmas and on Christmas day, my husband kept telling me that he did not have a present for me. I told him that it did not matter, he just took me on a cruise. Since he mentioned it no more, I thought it was no big deal. After all the gifts were opened and we had begun to clean up, he brought me a rolled up piece of paper that he had tied with a ribbon. I opened it and low and behold he had found a cruise to purchase for us to take in June. It was a cruise...we all know how I feel about that....but as I looked harder it was an Alaskan cruise!!!! We had wanted to go back to Alaska, we have said that many times, but honestly I was not sure if it would be a possibility. Here it was, John just handed me a reality. What a thrilling Christmas gift, from a wonderful husband.

Now, I get to think about the trip...to begin the packing lists (I need to tweak the one that I created in 08'). To plan the excursions (and save the money for them), and now that we know our way around the towns better, see the things that we wished we had seen the first time. Neither of us felt like we had much time in Juneau...so we have another chance. Of course, we also both have said the we want to do the same excursions that did last time in Juneau too...but this is the fun part before the trip. Planning what on what to do, and how to squeeze it in during the time allowed.

We are heading to the same places as last time, which again is a little bit of wonderful because every place was a gem...Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan, and Victoria...the only exception to the trip is that we will not go into the National Park (Glacier Bay). This time we will venture in Tracy Arm Fjord. Which is supposed to be spectacular, but we will see. The fjord features the twin Sawyer glaciers, which are known to calve alot, and of course that is what I am hoping for.

It is going to be great! Going to be spectacular! Thank you for such a wonderful gift that I will enjoy very much...well he will too!

For a review of our first Alaskan cruise please visit my old blog....

http://amchampion.blog.homepagenow.com

02 January 2010

Progresso/Meidra

Got my photos of my last cruise back, just today. I was so excited that I greeted Gloria in the driveway (I knew what she was bringing since she pulled the mail truck up into the driveway). WOW! I used Winkflash...for the first time, and I can really see the things that we saw while in Mexico.

I wanted to talk a little about the ruins...for those of you that may go to Progresso, I recommend getting off the ship...Hit Los Cinco De Soles...uh, this is the same stuff you will find in Cozumel. The cruise will tell you it is not because this store does not pay the cruise line any money so they will not recommend them to the passengers. Don't buy much here, keep going through the shop to the little shops outside. There are vendors that sell hammocks CHEAP $15 here seems to be the going rate...but don't buy them yet!!! You can do better! Get you some vanilla or a ukulele if you want one...maybe a wind chime...then keep going. At the end of all the stores, there will be lots of guys selling tours. See you should not book them on the ship, this guy will sell you the same tour at a 2 for 1 price. Give him the money, get your bracelet and board a bus for the flea market. Now, you may buy your hammock $10! Purses that are hand made (very well made) $5, and silver (make sure it is real silver look for the .925 first) and all kinds of cheap t shirts. You will board your bus and head to Dziblichaltun. It's not a long bus ride and it is air conditioned. You will travel by little lakes...look inside there for you will see WILD pink flamingos. They are a sight to see in the wild. Through the ride you will see many great Mexican sites. I took tons of photos of signs, and even a water park. I really enjoyed the bus ride. The guide, Ivan kept it interesting by telling stories about hammocks and why they are so plentiful. Maybe if you ask nicely I will tell you.

Once you get to the ruins, your guide will have to get you a new ticket, this is all ready paid for by you so just wait. Please NOTE there can be NO video taking unless you pay extra. The guide did not know that I had planned on shooting video on my camera and did not tell me that, but I heard him tell someone with a camcorder this. We entered the ruins and saw some marvelous plants. My favorites were the flowers, all types, all colors.

The first magnificent sight that we saw was a giant wall. This wall was very tall, very steep, my first thoughts were "I want to climb that". Ivan made us sit for a lesson about the ruins. It was very informative, but I kept saying I wanted to climb that thing. After his talk he led us around a bend and there was the lovely cenote. This was a source of drinking water for the Mayans. It was so blue, and so refreshing looking. It was covered in lily pads and flowers. I just could not stop taking photos of it's majesty. Ivan invited us to take a swim and a couple of our group jumped right in. John took off his shoes and stuck his feet in. There were little fish inside and they started nibbling on his feet. It made a funny photo, with the blue water, his pale feet and those tiny fish.

Next Ivan led us to the exit, or so we thought. I ran ahead and climbed to the top of one of the giant walls, I could stand it NO more. John got my photo of me looking triumphant in my glory, "ha I did it and you said I could not"... Up there is was a LONG way down. The steps were very shallow and very steep. As I started my descent I got a little worried...How was I going to get down this with my big feet and now that I looked down I was tad dizzy? I just took it slow and walked sideways...seriously, my feet were way too big for the steps.

As I got to the bottom, Ivan was asking how many wanted to make the long trek to walk to the observatory. I had waited to see this...waited and waited. Actually, I did not think that we would get to go. It is a very cool place, and I was so glad that we went. Again, there are narrow (not as narrow but narrow) steps to the top and it is tall, but the view is outstanding and it is worth the climb in so many ways. In the Spring and the Winter on the equinox days, the sun will shine through the windows...we were about 10 days to early for this event. Oh well, we got to see it.

We next walked to the houses where the Mayans lived. They can withstand a hurricane, which fascinates me. When I visit an island here I always like to see the hurricane routes, the devastation from them and things that withstood hurricanes...Barbados was the most interesting...Maybe I will tell you why another day. The huts were poorly constructed to my eye, but again, they can withstand a hurricane so looks can be deceiving.

I would post a photo, but for some reason the blog will not allow photos, must be a windows 7 thing. I will look into it, or you can just go to my facebook page and see my photos...Note the cenote and the observatory