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!