Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Embarkation

Sunday morning we were Carnival bound.  We ate our continental breakfast, loaded up the rental car and we were on our way.  Our drive to Tampa was not nearly as long as I had expected it to be.  We were only on the road for an hour and 15 minutes.  We dropped our rental car off at Alamo and rode their shuttle over to the Carnival Port of Tampa.


While riding on the shuttle we met a nice man named Peter and his family who were from Austria.  Peter was the only one in his family who could speak English.  He was traveling with his wife and two little girls who looked to be 7 and 10 years old.  They were very nice and they were going to be on our ship for the week so we hoped to run into them again.  They told us they had visited Washington DC, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee to see where Elvis lived.  We thought it was pretty funny Elvis made it on the same list as our nation's capitol. :)  My mother would have been proud.


Once at the port the chaos (orderly chaos) began. 

I was really happy we arrived when we did because I had no idea the boarding process had so many steps.  First of all we had to give our luggage ( the bags we wanted to check) to the gentlemen at the gate.  Then we had to stand in line to show the guards at the door our boarding passes or  "fun pass" as Carnival calls them as well as our passports.


Once inside the building we took escalators up to the next floor.  Nick walked onto the escalator with one of our carry on bags with the handle still up and the lady at the top of the escalator became unglued.  She yelled "Put down the handle, you need to put down the handle on your bag, put down the handle." Nick quickly put down the handle and then she shut up.  Seriously, what on earth did she think was going to happen? Nick was embarrassed and felt like he was in trouble.  The employees inside the port were not what you would call "warm fuzzies".  I am sure they have to move thousands of people everyday as if they were cattle ;  I probably wouldn't be a warm fuzzy either.  Nick however had no clue he was supposed to put the handle down on his bag so it wasn't like he was being an unruly teen.


There were signs everywhere reading "No photography inside the building", "No cell phone usage inside the building", so obviously I do not have pictures of inside the building.  I didn't want to get yelled at like Nick.


We then had to stand in a line to get our Carnival "sign and sail" cards.  We needed to show our passports again as well as our "fun pass".  The lady who checked us in also had an August 1st birthday so we chatted a bit about how weird it was we all shared the same birthday and how great we felt August 1st was.  Les was not impressed.


We then proceeded down the hall where they took our picture knowing we would HAVE to buy it later... which we did. :)




THEN we could board the ship.  We had 45 minutes before we could enter our state room so we found a spot on the ship where we could relax and set our luggage down.  I realized they had us listed for the early dinner seating and we wanted the late dinner seating so I walked around to find someone to get it changed.  They changed it for us very easily and were happy to do so.  I also went to the excursion desk to confirm  our excursions because our port of call had changed for a couple of the islands and I wanted to make sure our excursions were not affected.  Once all was settled I could then begin to enjoy the sites of the ship.  It was beautiful.

We sat for a little while until it was time to find our state room.  We were in room 4227. 


 We were so excited to see our room.  When we opened the door we were pleasantly surprised to see a rather spacious room for a ship; I was expecting much smaller. 





Bathroom

  Shower


When we first walked into the room we thought there was another bed underneath one of the twin beds, however we were wrong.  Greg called our stateroom steward to ask where our other twin bed was and he told us it pulled down from the ceiling and he would pull it down for us in the evening and every morning he would put it back up.  We thought this was pretty cool and Nick immediately said he wanted the top bunk and almost simultaneously Leslie said she wanted the bottom bunk.  Everyone was happy. :)




This arrangement worked out perfectly because we didn't have to worry about the kids kicking one another in their sleep or pulling the covers or "stop touching me" conversations.  Les told us about times when Nick tried to use her stomach as a pillow.  As funny as that story was I don't think it would have been funny on this trip with all four of us in one room.

The balcony was amazing and we were so happy we spent the extra money to get it.  I had originally thought we might want the extra room since we were used to having at least 2 bedrooms and 2 baths on vacation, however it wasn't used for extra room at all.  We loved to wake up in the morning and walk out onto the balcony to see where we were at each port.  We could look all around and see the beautiful blue water. 




Once we were settled in our room we walked up onto the upper deck to watch the ship pull away from the port.


Nick waving to the people on shore...


The little girl in blue next to Nick is one of Peter's daughters.


Jelly fish down in the water...


We walked around checking out the ship.








Greg trying to undo a small knot...


We began to feel the ship pull away from port and we were on our way.


Goodbye Tampa!


As we walked around checking out the place we continued to hear our cruise director (who was British and I struggled to understand her at times) tell us in a few minutes we will all proceed to our "muster stations". 

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 I am not a sailor and this was our first cruise so we had no idea what a muster station was much less where to go to find one.  No one else seemed to be struggling with this so we felt rather stupid.  We found one of the staff members wearing an "ask me" red shirt  and we asked where muster station C was and they directed us to the location of  Muster Station C.  Later we found in our room instructions on the muster station procedure and how to find your muster station. We truly are clueless cruisers. :)

We stood in a huge group of people while they told us how to exit the ship in case of an emergency, where to find life vests and what life boat we were to be placed in if needed. 


 I was thinking about the Titanic the entire time.  I think we should have had this little talk while we were still at port and not on the ship. 

After our muster station experience we continued to take in the sights on deck...

Mini golf...



Basketball....


One of 3 pools and hot tubs...




We still had time before dinner so we all changed into our bathing suits and sat around the pool for a bit.
These guys played Jamaican music around the pool which gave the ship the perfect atmosphere for a Caribbean cruise.


The kids continued to walk around the ship while Greg and I relaxed around the adult pool.


After lounging around the pool for a bit enjoying some ice cream we headed back to the room to get cleaned up for dinner.  Dinner was one of the big highlights of the day.  We loved our waiters.  We moved our dining time from 6:00 to 8:15 to give us time to clean up after our excursions throughout the week.  They said our 8:15 dining would start the next day so we were scheduled to eat at 6:00 our first evening.  We only had one night with these waiters but we really liked them.  We called this guy smiley because he smiled really big ALL the time.

Greg thought the napkins looked like crowns...

Our other waiter....

My yummy dessert...



Dinner was very good and we could order as much as we wanted.  If we wanted 10 shrimp cocktails we could have it. :)  This was informal dining and it was called "come as you are" dress code since we just boarded the ship.  We didn't get the full feel of the dining experience that night and we had no clue what was ahead of us.  Little did we know dinner would become one of our favorite times of the day on the ship.

After dinner we went back to the room to sit on the patio for a little while.  The sun was setting and it was beautiful.

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The kids left to go find information on the teen club while Greg and I relaxed for a bit and then went to a show together.   It was a great first day experience on the ship and we were so very excited for the week ahead. 

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