Friday, October 22, 2010

Vacation 2010 - Cruise

On the Embarkation day we reached Galveston around noon. After dropping the luggage at the terminal, we parked the car at official parking area. From the parking area we took the free A/c shuttle to the terminal. Porter checked in the luggage for us, so we didn’t have to walk around with our luggage. After that there was a 2hr long queue to get to the ship; 1st the itinerary check and then the Customs. Around 2’oc we got into ‘The Ship’.

Once you are in you feel like you are in a mall or something. We got confused and not sure where to go or how to get to our room. Later we realized that the room number along with the deck name/number was on the ‘sail and sign’ card. Next task was to get to our room thru the elevator. The way deck names displayed on the elevators are confusing. For example for Deck R, press ‘Rivera’ on the elevator! By the time we got to the room, our luggage was waiting for us. We got refreshed and while getting ready to explore the Ship we were informed to report to the Muster station. It is a place where everyone in the deck has to report in case of an emergency. After a 20mins of safety briefing at the Muster station we were told to walk towards the life-boat station, where we watched ship moving away from the port.

We went back to the rooms for a break and got refreshed. After exploring the rooms and the amenities we were ready to explore the Ship more. Every time we get to the elevator we saw people trying to figure out which floor to go and how to map the deck names with the display names on the elevator. At least we were not alone! We then went to the Club Carnival seminar where you can drop the kids off for Free until 3:00Am most of the night. Unfortunately our kids were not trained for that and they stayed with us all the time. For dinner, there were many options; buffet, dining, grill were few of them. We kinda tried all just to explore our options. After the dinner and few picture sessions we went back to the room. Ladies and the kids decided to stay at the room while the guys went out to explore more. I know I have used the word ‘explore’ a lot , but that’s what the cruise all about! That was the end of our 1st day on the Cruise.

There were lot to learn about the room service and other charges associated with it. Room services are free, but the sodas and bottled drinking water in your room are NOT! We learned that only after opening few..LOL! The daily program chart or the Fun Pass we get in the room is very helpful in scheduling our daily activities. About the rooms; we stayed at the interior state rooms and it’s of 10x12 in size. There are bunker beds for the kids and TV with few channels options. Two of the interesting channels are live ocean view of front and back of the ship; it’s nice to watch especially when docking and un-docking the ship.

2nd day was a day at sea and we started around 7:30Am. It’s hard to wake up especially in interior room coz there is no sunlight to wake you up! We started our day with buffet breakfast. Now about the food on the ship- Amazing and it’s a lot! If you didn’t gain few extra pounds after a cruise trip you didn’t really enjoyed the trip, that’s all I have to say! While kids and the ladies attended some kid’s shows, the guys went to explore the ship more. Now, for me the word explore also means ‘chilling’. So in other words ‘guys went to chill more! After the lunch we all went back to the room for an afternoon power nap. Since we slept for 2-3hrs I don’t know the word ‘Power’ nap applies here! But we rested well enough. Later that day we went to the upper deck of the ship with the kids, where there are water activates, like slides and pools for kids. Kids had lot of fun! We went back to the room to clean up and to get ready for the formal night. After few photo sessions we went for the formal dining. Our dining option was ‘any time dining’ and it was easy with the kids to show up whenever we are ready other than a set time. Again, the food was amazing! That completes day#2.

3rd day the Ship docked at Progresso port by 7Am. After the breakfast we got off the ship by 9Am. At the port there is not much to do, so we took a 20 min free shuttle bus to the Downtown. We walked towards the beach and sat there for few hours. Beach was kinda crowed with locals and tourist but we managed to find a place to sit where you have to pay for the umbrellas and chairs. Since we ordered the food from the beach they waved the fees for us. Food was not that good though! Guys found few places down the street where you can get $1 beers and free tequila shots. After few hours we decided to head back to downtown and then back to the ship. We did some shopping on the way back. The key for shopping at Progresso is bargaining! By the time we got to the ship we were so ready for our afternoon ‘power’ nap. In the evening we went to the upper deck of the ship and hang out. We explored the stern and bow areas of the ship. Since they don’t let us to go to the bow of the ship we missed the Titanic shots. Even though it’s windy it’s a nice view from the upper bow area. Later that night we went for dinner. The crew there is amazing; they are very friendly, they dance, they sing and they serve great food! After attending few shows we all went back to the room. That was the end of day#3.

Day#4 was at Cozumel. Ship docked around 8’oc and we got off the ship by 9. There are lots of shops at the ports itself. It’s a good 10min walk to get off the port. At the front of the port there are lots of tourist guides to guide you and to misguide you sometimes! We took a taxi to our beach. We went to Paradise beach, which was a 20mins drive from the port. Beach was very nice; small but clear water and lot of things to do. We spend most of the time at the beach. Kids loved the beach. For the 1st time in my life I did Jet skiing at the beach. It was kinda scary, but I did it. We ordered the food and drinks from there and the food was okay compared to Progresso. After few hours at the beach we decided to head back to the ship. I tried to do some shopping in Cozumel, but it was expensive. Bargaining is good in Progresso than Cozumel. Prices are high to start with so there is little room to bargain and to get things for a good deal! I ended up buying nothing from Cozumel other than few shot glasses as a Souvenir. There were Indian buffet foods waiting for us at the Ship, so we cleaned up and went to get the food. As always, we ate a lot and were ready for our nap. In the evening we walked around the ship and attended few shows and then dinner. That was the end of day#4

Day#5 AKA last day AKA day at sea started as usual with heavy breakfast. By Day#5 you are kinda ready to get back to the land. We didn’t feel like doing much, so we kinda spend the day by being lazy. More food and more resting was the highlight of day. Later that day we went to attend the Debarkation seminar, which was really helpful in understanding the process. We packed our luggage by midnight and left it outside the room for the crew to pick up.

Debarkation day, started with an early breakfast. We were told that our deck will be called by 10’oc, so made our plans accordingly. We waited at the waiting area until our deck name called for debarkation. It took only 15mins to get off the Ship, but it took almost 2hr to complete the immigration process. We got off the ship by 10:45Am. It was a long 1+hr wait at the immigration. There was a line to get a Porter and to get a cart to push our luggage. After immigration we took a shuttle to the parking lot to get our car. After a small wait to bring the car to the pier to load the luggage by 12:30 we started our journey back home.

Overall, it was a great memorable vacation. Now, Am I going for a cruise next year again, No!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Carnival Cruise

Carnival Cruise Lines is a British-American owned cruise line, based in Miami, Florida.. Originally an independent company founded in 1972 by Ted Arison, the company is now one of eleven cruise ship brands owned and operated by Carnival Corporation & plc. The company has the largest fleet in the group, with twenty two vessels currently in operation.

Carnival was a pioneer in the concept of shorter, less expensive cruises. Its ships are known for their Las Vegas-style decor and entertainment. The line calls its ships The Fun Ships, and there are a wide range of activities offered on board. Its trademark is the smoke stack, or funnel, which is red, white and blue and shaped like a whale's tail. The mascot for Carnival is "Fun Ship Freddy", a character in the shape of Carnival's distinctive funnel.

Carnival Ecstasy
The Carnival Ecstasy is a Fantasy class cruise ship, which began operation with Carnival Cruise Lines in 1991. Features include three pools, whirlpools, a variety of dining options, nightclubs, a casino, and duty-free shopping. She is currently offering four- and five- day Western Caribbean itineries out of Galveston, Texas.

The ship suffered heavy damage in 1998 after the laundry room in the ship's stern caught fire damaging much of her stern and aft section. On the afternoon of July 20, 1998, MS Ecstasy had departed the Port of Miami, Florida, en route to Key West, Florida, with 2,565 passengers and 916 crewmembers on board when a fire started in the main laundry shortly after 1700. The fire migrated through the ventilation system to the aft mooring deck where mooring lines ignited, creating intense heat and large amounts of smoke. As the Ecstasy was attempting to reach an anchorage north of the Miami sea buoy, the vessel lost propulsion power and steering and began to drift. The master then radioed the U.S. Coast Guard for assistance. A total of six tugboats responded to help fight the fire and to tow the Ecstasy. The fire was brought under control by onboard firefighters and was officially declared extinguished about 2109.

After Hurricane Katrina, the ship spent six months in New Orleans serving as quarters for refugees and relief workers. Now, the Carnival Ecstasy travels on four and five day itineraries throughout the Western Caribbean from Galveston, Texas.

On July 1, 2007, David Ritcheson, the victim of the April 22, 2006 Harris County, Texas assault incident, jumped off the MS Ecstasy and died.

April 21, 2010 at approximately 12.55 pm U.S. central time, the cruise ship Carnival Ecstasy was forced to perform a maneuver to avoid an object in the water, near Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, which resulted in the ship listing 12 degrees to the starboard side. The object was a large buoy which was adrift and mostly submerged thereby preventing it from being detected by the ship’s radar. Injuries included 60 guests and one crew member. The ship safely docked the following day, Thursday 22 April 2010, at its home port in Galveston, Texas.

Carnival has announced a new program that will be applied to all Fantasy class ships. It involves many upgrades to the Fantasy ships. After Ecstasy completed its Hurricane Katrina charter, it went into drydock. While there, it received some of the upgrades that are part of the Evolutions of Fun program. These include a new mini golf course on the sports deck, refurnishing of all the staterooms, new children's facilities, and the remodeling of the gift shop and Lido deck restaurant, The Panorama Bar And Grill. In 2009the ship received the Full Evolutions of Fun which includes the children's water parks and "Camp Carnival" where parents can drop off their child, "Serenity" adult only decks, refurbishing of the ship's aft lounge, additional 98 balconies and other small improvements.

Monday, February 1, 2010


Bharatanatyam is a classical Indian dance form originating in Tamil Nadu, India. One of the oldest of the classical dance forms in India, it is also known as the fifth Veda. It has its inspirations from the sculptures of the ancient temple of Chidambaram located near Pondicherry. Bharatanatyam is usually accompanied by the classical music. It has its inspirations from the sculptures of the ancient temple of Chidambaram. Bharatanatyam, as the name depicts is the combination of:

BHA- Bhava (Expression), RA- Raga (Music) and TA- Tala (Rhythm) Bharatanatyam is a traditional dance-form known for its grace, purity, tenderness, and sculpturesque poses. Today, it is one of the most popular and widely performed dance styles and is practiced by many dancers all over the world.

The Basics Of Bharatanatyam (3N)
Bharatanatyam is generally referred to have three distinct streams or aspects:
1. Nritta
2. Nrittya
3. Natya

Nritta is pure dance or sequences of dance that are non interpretative in nature. This means that these steps, movements or gestures are not meant to convey any message or thought. They are primarily meant to add beauty to the dance form.

Nrittya on the other hand is an interpretative dance and involves a lot of sentiments, emotions and description. The gestures in this stream convey messages like depicting a king, indicating that it is morning time etc. This consists of leg, hand, neck, head and eye movements to convey the message.

Natya is dance drama and its main technique is Abhinaya. It involves acting out a story for the audience using expressions. Also the actors may dress like the character. Natya is usually performed with a mythologial theme, like on the stories of Ramayana or Krishnaleela, etc. For eg. This would involve enacting parts of Ramayana or Mahabharata.

A distinctive feature of Bharata Natyam Dance is the use of expressive hand gestures as a way of communication. Hastas refers to the varieties of hand symbols that a dancer can use. Many of these hand gestures are well known.

There are two types of Hasta Mudras: Asamyuta and Samyuta (single and combined, respectively).

There are 28 Asamyuta Mudras which are: Pataka, Tripataka, Ardhya-pataka, Kartari-mukha, Mayura, Ardha-chandra, Arala, Shukatundaka, Mushti, Shikhara, Kapittha, Kataka-mukha, Suchi, Chandra-kala, Padma-kosha, Sarpa-shirsha, Mriga-shirsha, Simha-mukha, Langula, Sola-padma, Chatura, Bhramara, Hamsaya, Hamsa-paksha, Samdasma, Mukula, Tamrachuda, and Trishula. Note that hand "mudras" are usually spoken in sanskrit (which is the proper language, used for saying the gestures in the Kalakshetra style).

There are 24 Samyuta Hastas which are: Anjali, Kapota, Karkata, Svastika, Dola, Pushpaputa, Utsanga, Shivalinga, Kataka-Vardhana, Kartari-svastika, Shaktata, Sankha, Chakra, Samputa, Pasha, Kilaka, Matsya, Kurma, Varaha, Garuda, Nagabandha, Khatva, Bherunda, and Avahittha.

Adavus in Bharatanatyam:

Tatta Adavu (8)
The word Tatta literally means “to tap”. In this adavu, we are taught the Bharatanatyam way of leg tapping. This adavu involves only the use of legs unlike most other adavus.The Bol for Tatta adavu is “tai ya tai hi"

Natta Adavu
“Natta” means to stretch and so the Adavu involves some stretching .Natta adavu involves heel contacts of the feet. Thus word “Nattu” in Tamil is also referred to “Perching of heels”.The bols (sollukattu) for this Adavu is “tai yum tat ta tai hi ya ha