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Richard's 1st Cruise! Gr. Cayman and Jamaica via Carnival Victory 12/26-31

Discussion in 'Non-Vegas Trip Reports' started by Richard Alpert, Jan 1, 2016.

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  1. Richard Alpert

    Richard Alpert LOST

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    My Trip Report

    Background: My bride and I (both early 40s) were first-time cruisers. My bride scratched our Vegas plans a few months back and booked this cruise. I was a bit worried, having a history of getting sick on even the smallest of watercraft, but I had no problems on the cruise! We traveled 12/26/2015 to 12/31/2015.

    I plan to post each day's observations separately and then add some final thoughts at the end.

    Please feel free to fire away with any questions anytime along the way! Thanks and Happy New Year! :wave2:

    -Richard
     
  2. mrstealth

    mrstealth High-Roller

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    Looking forward to this. Happy new year to you as well!
     
  3. Jer

    Jer VIP Whale

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    Can't wait... Love a good cruise for sure!
     
  4. Richard Alpert

    Richard Alpert LOST

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    Saturday, 12/26/2015

    We left our Wisconsin home at 10:30 P.M. Friday and headed southwest to MSP. We parked our car at EZ Air Park in Eagan, MN (near Highways 35E and 494). With my first step out of the car I slipped on ice and fell on my back, also slamming the back of my head into the doorframe on the way down. :cry: I shook it off and we boarded the shuttle to the airport. The expected 15 minute ride took 35 minutes. Our driver was certainly in no hurry. He was even braking as we approached green lights.

    We sprinted into the airport and were the only one at departures. Through the one security line, which I believe was the one they normally just used for airport employees, and as we set foot on the concourse we heard our names and “final call for boarding…You have two minutes.” We were only four or five gates down the nearby hall so I made it there in a moderate jog, the back beginning to feel the effects of the earlier fall. My bride made it and we collapsed into the “big front seats” of our Spirit flight. The extra leg room would make it possible for me to stretch my legs and recover on the flight down. :thumbsup:

    Our flight left the gate on time and after some extensive de-icing we were in the air at 1:15 A.M. We arrived in Ft. Lauderdale at 6:00 A.M.. We rested and people-watched until 9:30 A.M. when our shuttle to Miami arrived. A few stops to pick up some folks from Ft. Lauderdale area hotels—including a nice family from La Crosse, WI—and we were on the way to Miami!

    We arrived at the port of Miami at about 11:15 A.M.. After checking in and entering the seating area to wait for our boarding call I decided to snap a quick picture of a pretty Christmas :santa tree they had set up in there. A few minutes later, an employee came over and informed me that pictures were prohibited in that area because they didn’t want people photographing the ship’s preparations for security reasons. I showed her the picture of the tree (the ship wasn’t even in the picture) and she still insisted that I delete it. So I obliged.

    We boarded the Carnival Victory at about 12:30. My bride had invested in the “Faster to the Fun” program ($60 extra each) which gave us an earlier board and a few minutes earlier access to our cabin on Day 1. We went up to Deck 9 for some grub. We grabbed a few cheeseburgers and fries. We then went down to our deck 1 port-side cabin. It was on the “inside” part of the ship but we didn’t plan on spending too much time in the room. Sleeping and maybe a shot at some afternoon delight :wink2: was all that we’d need the room for.

    We participated in the safety drill, which took about a half-hour to get all of the party-goers in their correct spots. After that a good percentage of the ship went atop Decks 9-11 to celebrate the beginning of the cruise. The music was pumping, the booty-shaking had officially started, and we waved goodbye to those on other ships and on shore as we cruised out of Miami and out to sea.

    Lots of eating and drinking ensued. For soft drinks, my bride had purchased the bottomless beverages program (the name still makes me chuckle). $60 apiece, but unlimited soft drinks, juice, etc. during the course of the cruise. They offered a similar program for alcoholic drinks—I believe $50 a day—but we just signed for our alcohol as we went along.

    For supper we enjoyed the buffet near the back (aft) of the ship. I had a lot of different things, but their lasagna and pork chops were the two “stand-out” items that I really enjoyed. Self-serve lemonade and water were readily available at all times, orange and apple juice would “replace” the lemonade during breakfast hours. Milk (at time chocolate milk, too) was offered in the buffet line.

    We settled in at 9:00 P.M.. We are not spoil-sports or party-poopers here, but I had been up for 38 hours straight :faint: and was getting a little tired.

    I was rocked to sleep by the swaying of ship. I slept like a baby!

    Here’s a few snapshots from Day 1. There’s more to come…

    Happy holidays at Ft. Lauderdale airport
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    Long wait for our ride in a quiet Ft. Lauderdale baggage claim
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    Approaching the port of Miami
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    The back of our boat
    I like big boats and I cannot lie...
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    A view of the "hallway" in our tiny cabin.
    I was sitting on the bed as I shot this pic.
    Bathroom is on the left of the hall, 3 skinny closets on the right.
    SUNP0078.jpg

    I couldn't get a lot in the picture when shooting from the hallway.
    Here's the TV (mostly Carnival info/ad channels). Maybe 10 other channels--CNN, 2 or 3 Miami network-affiliates, TBS, TMC in Spanish, etc.
    But didn't really come to watch TV! The cabinet at right stored the life jackets. The blue towels were the beach towels to use onboard and off. Nice towels!
    SUNP0095.jpg

    The bed. Underneath the bedding it was two small mattresses side-by-side on a metal frame w/springs. The division between the mattresses helped denote my side of the bed vs. my bride's side. No territorial disagreements on this trip!
    SUNP0096.jpg

    Securing my valuable jewelry in our room safe at the end of Day 1.
    SUNP0083.jpg
     
  5. Richard Alpert

    Richard Alpert LOST

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    Sunday, 12/27/2015: A Fun Day at Sea

    I woke from my long, peaceful slumber at 11:00 A.M. to begin a great day at sea.

    We attended a “shopping show” in the theatre. A shopping expert gave a quick synopsis of the on-board shopping opportunities and those found in Grand Cayman and Jamaica. My wife had her eyes on replacing the tanzanite she’d lost from her ring a few years back.

    We had lunch—cheeseburgers and fries for me. My wife grabbed her grub from the Chinese food window. She had quite a long wait. While waiting for her, I enjoyed watching the “Hairiest Chest” contest going on on-deck.

    We headed down to check out the casino on Deck 5. On our walk-through I noticed it contained:
    About 150 slot machines
    13 VP Gamekings
    2 roulette tables
    13 BJ tables
    1 craps table
    And a 1/2 No Limit Hold’em PokerPro table

    The most popular thing in the joint was the Cash Crane and Casino Vault “skill” machines. The Cash Crane was a claw machine with shrink-wrapped bundles of 100 ones. Young and old alike were constantly on the things. They were available 24/7, even when the casino was closed. I only witnessed one winner—a kid of about 10 years old snagged two bundles at once.

    After our initial jaunt through the casino we took a look in the on-board souvenir shops.

    We then headed back to the theater to play some bingo. We each bought-in on the largest $40 package. Then found out there were only 3 games in the session. This was all paper bingo. Game one was any-five-in-a-row, game 2 was to make a six-pack, the final game was to make a block of nine. I believe the winners of the first two games received $100 and the final winner took $400. There were a lot of folks who hadn’t played bingo before so the caller went quite slow for the first few games and even gave a three-minute speech about what the space marked FREE was for. Game 3 went a little faster, but was at a snail’s pace compared to that of The Plaza. Didn’t get much for the package but some practice looking for numbers, a souvenir dabber, and a sheet of pulltabs. My bride got $5 back on her pulltab, so not a total loss for us!

    We went back to the casino where my wife redeemed her winning pulltab at the cage. We then slotted around a little bit—my wife on penny slots and I hit some dollar and quarter ones. My bride wasn’t happy to return to losing, especially after her recent winning streak at our local tribal casino. I came out a quarter up. :woohoo: Yay!

    We then found a seat at the edge of the casino floor. They had window seats with almost floor-to-ceiling windows looking out upon the sea. We could see into the sports bar and we watched most of the first half of the Packer/Cardinals game. My bride loves her Aaron Rodgers, and being a Vikings fan I had a little interest in the game, too. One commercial break we looked back out to sea and saw an awesome rainbow going from cloud to sea. Of course it was the one instance I didn’t have my camera with me!

    We decided to do supper in the sit-down restaurant near the back of the ship. It was the only fancy dress-up night for the trip (cruise casual all other nights). My bride and I tried to dress to the nines—my wife was a 10, I was probably a 7.5, but at least I tried! I enjoyed a great chicken breast and fries, with warm chocolate melting cake and ice cream for dessert.

    After the meal my bride went to score some loungers for the on-deck movie.

    I went down to the cabin to change back into shorts and a tee. On the way back I stopped in the casino to check out the Vikings/Giants score and to grab a couple of $5 scratchers offered for sale at the cage.

    Both tickets were losing efforts, but I had the joy of returning to Deck 9 to sit with my bride :kiss: and we ended Day 2 by watching “Pitch Perfect 2” :popcorn underneath the stars.

    Gambling this day for my bride and I combined:
    Bingo -$75 (including “winning” pulltab)
    Slots -$9.75 (bride -$10, me +$0.25)
    Scratchers -$10

    Here are some images from Day 2. I’ll have news from Day 3 (Grand Cayman!) coming soon…

    Here's someone trying their skill on the Cash Crane. The loose 1s on the bottom served to prop up the bundles I guess...
    SUNP0103.jpg

    Usually pink is my lucky color for bingo! And Oh-69 wasn't called in any of the games!
    SUNP0090.jpg

    My losing pulltab
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    My scratchers in their pre-scratched glory
    SUNP0117.jpg

    Watching the movie. The pic at night didn't turn out so well, so I attached a pic from later in the trip that gives you a better idea of the set-up of the deck.
    SUNP0107.jpg SUNP0142.jpg

    One of the renowned/infamous towel animal creations provided at turndown service--a dog perhaps? Also provided nightly is the brochure of the following day's events/opportunities.
    SUNP0098.jpg

    The dog? looks better with this accessory in my opinion! :peace:
    SUNP0138.jpg

    -Richard
     
  6. Richard Alpert

    Richard Alpert LOST

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    Monday, 12/28/2015: Grand Cayman!

    I awoke at 7:00 and went up-top to take some pictures of the morning as we were now anchored off of Grand Cayman. Another cruise ship was a little ways off of our port side.
    I returned to the room as my bride had requested room service for breakfast.

    After she was ready we went down to board the tender (double-decker boat) to take us ashore. Just inside the gate of the port we exchanged our tour tickets for wristbands. We had about 10 minutes to shop or look around, which stretched out to about 20 minutes but we stayed put in the shade of a canopy.

    We squished into a mini bus and traveled to Dolphin Cove. There we had the opportunity to enter the water and touch, dance with, kiss, and be kissed by a dolphin. It was the most action :kiss: I’d had since the trip started! About half the people there had the swim with a dolphin experience instead. After drying off I grabbed an island lunch of a hot dog and a Mt. Dew.

    We then boarded another boat and went about a half-hour out to a sandbar dubbed Stingray City where we got to interact with stingrays. It was weird to feel them brush up against your legs as they swam by you in the waist-deep water. Some people were holding and kissing them as well, but just being there was good enough for me!

    Our guide offered us some tropical punch on the half-hour boat ride back. After looking through the gift shop and my bride investing in some more pictures, we boarded the mini bus back to port. We were near the end of boarding time and we waited in a huge line to board. My wife was really ticked off :grrr: that she didn’t have time to go jewelry shopping, but she would have more time the next day in Jamaica.

    We took the tender back to ship and with a swipe of our boarding card (which doubles as a room key) we were back on board.

    My bride took a little nap so I made a break for the casino, but then remembered when I got there that the casino was closed until we got out to sea. So I went and checked the evening menu postings of the various restaurants, two-fisting drinks and ice creams along the way.

    My bride and I enjoyed the buffet that night. Turkey and rice were my favorites from this meal.

    At 7:00 we checked out the early movie on deck: “Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation” It was only fitting to watch Cruise while on a cruise! :thumbsup:

    We enjoyed some shakes and cake for dessert.

    My bride settled in for the night at about 10:00 and I headed up to the casino. I rode the quarter slots up to a quick $30, but slipped down to -$40 shortly after switching the denomination to dollars.

    A Caribbean and Latin American deck party was going on so I went up to Deck 9 to enjoy that. They had an awesome spread of food. Tacos were there, but there was so much more. I made about three trips to the buffet.

    After walking around I stopped by Pizza Pirate (open 24 hrs.) and grabbed a half of a pepperoni pie. Grabbed a chair in a lounge and finished that bad boy off with some lemonades.

    Grabbed a nightcap in the 3rd floor atrium lounge. An awesome Latin band was performing to the dozen or so folks assembled there. They finished their great set at midnight.
    I decided to cash it in for the night as we would be in Jamaica in the morning!

    Here are some images from Day 3. I’ll have the happenings from Day 4 posted soon…

    Another cruise ship anchored nearby.
    SUNP0147.jpg

    Grand Cayman!
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    Our tender approaching shore
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    Looking back at the ship
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    Welcome sign
    SUNP0159.jpg

    My first experience riding on the other side of the road. Lots of roundabouts in Grand Cayman...
    SUNP0167.jpg

    No dolphin pics, but here's the ride out to Stingray City sandbar
    SUNP0171.jpg SUNP0173.jpg

    Fun at Stingray City
    SUNP0192.jpg SUNP0195.jpg SUNP0201.jpg

    Spring training is still weeks away, but I must say that the Twins are looking good this year! :wink2:
    SUNP0205.jpg

    The boat ride back to the mini bus
    SUNP0215.jpg SUNP0218.jpg

    Heading back to the ship
    SUNP0234.jpg SUNP0244.jpg SUNP0254.jpg SUNP0261.jpg SUNP0268.jpg

    Elephant towel creation left at turndown service tonight
    SUNP0280.jpg
     
  7. Elf70

    Elf70 Low-Roller

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    Great report! It's been years since I've been on a cruise. This is making me think I should try it again. I'm looking forward to the rest of the report.
     
  8. Richard Alpert

    Richard Alpert LOST

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    Tuesday, 12/29/2015: Jamaica, Mon!

    I awoke to the knock of room service at 7:25. We enjoyed a nice breakfast.

    As my bride got ready I went to Deck 9 to shoot some pics of the Jamaican port of Ocho Rios.

    We left the ship via Deck 0 at 9:30 A.M.. No tender ride this time as the ship was moored at the pier. At the end of the pier we entered a tent to find the area for those going to Bamboo Beach Club. We had a wait of about 10 minutes before we were led to some mini buses. We piled in and had a 10 minute ride to the beach club.

    Our beautiful hostess Natalie shared many interesting facts about Jamaica on the ride there.

    We had about three hours at the beach. It was very scenic/picturesque and relaxing. We dined on many different things. My favorite was the jerk chicken. I had multiple servings of that. I even found that I like pineapple.

    The club had some dancers :wiggle: that performed on the beach every hour or so. Very cool!

    My wife had a full-body massage that took about an hour. She really enjoyed it, and I enjoyed the hour of solitude!

    Our time at the beach came to an end. Natalie shared more interesting things about Jamaica and its people as we rode back to the port area. Upon re-entry to the port a security guard popped his head and glanced at our boarding passes before waving us through. We were the only ones in our van of about 20 people to tip Natalie and the driver on the way out. I was surprised at that.

    We had about an hour-and-a-half before boarding so we left the port area on foot and made our way to the closest shopping area. We purchased some t-shirts and souvenirs for our offspring and we visited a jewelry store, where my bride invested in some tanzanite earrings and a ring.

    We strode the pier back to the ship and boarded. We went up the one deck to our room and my wife laid down to rest. I went up to Deck 9 and grabbed a cheeseburger.

    I returned to find my bride a bit frisky. After one minute of heaven :wink2: we showered and made our way up to Deck 9 for cheeseburgers and ice cream!

    We visited the quiet casino bar. No gambling going on due to still being in port. Downed a few rounds of Coke products while the bride had a few cocktails. :beer:

    We both retreated to our cabin for a rest. I planned on just watching TV but I fell asleep :snore: for about an hour and a half.

    We made our way to 8:15 seating in the dining room. This was the only night that all 8 spots at the table were filled. All three parties (a family of 4 from Virginia, a lady couple from North Carolina, and my bride and I) all had the same last name. The couple from NC said that on the first night the waiter thought all us “Alperts” were related!

    The conversation was as good as the dinner, which was very tasty. I had chicken and bacon mac and cheese. I had vanilla ice cream for dessert. During dessert the waiters all danced to Gangnam Style.

    We went to Deck 9 to view the movie :popcorn “The Martian” at 10:00 P.M.. My bride and I don’t get away to see many movies due to different work schedules, etc.. So seeing three films in three days was quite a treat indeed!

    We managed to stay awake to see the entire motion picture before retiring to our cabin :faint: just after midnight.

    Here are some pics from Day 4. I’ll have the events from Day 5 posted soon…

    Ocho Rios port
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    Walking the long pier to shore
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    Some of the vendors set up inside the port area
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    The fleet of mini buses/vans ready for tourists!
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    Welcome to Bamboo Beach Club
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    Some beauty at the beach...
    SUNP0318.jpg SUNP0320.jpg SUNP0352.jpg

    Some of the food I enjoyed
    SUNP0364.jpg SUNP0386.jpg

    Entertainment
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    Natalie--our "hostess with the mostest"
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    Heading back to the port area
    SUNP0411.jpg SUNP0420.jpg SUNP0423.jpg SUNP0424.jpg

    One of the entryways into the onboard casino
    SUNP0277.jpg

    Tonight's towel creation was a bunny
    SUNP0427.jpg
     
  9. BlacklabberMike

    BlacklabberMike VIP Whale

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    wife and i took that cruise a few years ago. just curious if you got the escort out to see with the police boats that had 50 calibers mounted on the bow....

    we took the side tour on a tube float down some river... the drive to the top was a hoot. those guys drive crazy
     
  10. Richard Alpert

    Richard Alpert LOST

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    Thank you, mrstealth!
     
  11. Richard Alpert

    Richard Alpert LOST

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    Thanks, Jer! My bride and I are looking forward to another cruise in the not-so-distant future...
     
  12. Richard Alpert

    Richard Alpert LOST

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    The only police boats I noticed were a few zipping around the port of Miami. I was hoping to see Horatio from CSI: Miami or Crockett & Tubbs from Miami Vice, but didn't see any of them either!
     
  13. Richard Alpert

    Richard Alpert LOST

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    Thank you, Elf70! I had a lot of fun and it was good to get out of the daily grind for awhile!
     
  14. Richard Alpert

    Richard Alpert LOST

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    Wednesday, 12/30/2015: Another Day at Sea

    Day five of our trip began with a 6:30 wake up, shave, and shower.

    I had a handful of hours while my bride slept in, so I walked around snapping more photos and grabbing many different breakfast items at various times. Pancakes and potatoes at the buffet, little boxes of Froot Loops and Rice Krispies at the grab-and-go stations. Lots of OJ in between.

    I went to the casino. The slots were open but no tables were open yet.

    The machines did not use TITOs. Instead you would put anything you wanted to cash out onto your boarding pass card. You could take your winnings to use at another machine or you could cash out at the cage.

    I had 25 cents left on my card. I used it on a quarter slot, losing 22 cents on the spin.

    (You could also charge $10 or more to your “Sail and Sign” account to continue the gambling--which my bride and I would both do later—but I was trying to minimize the itemized “surprises” for my wife on the final day’s bill (which was connected to her credit card).) I had only brought a little bit of cash with me. My bankroll for my hopeful June return to Vegas was safely at home.

    I hung out in the casino for a bit, grabbing another window seat to view the sea. I hoped to people-watch, but I was the only one in the casino for the span of about 45 minutes.

    After a walk around the ship and some chocolate milk and more Rice Krispies I came back to the casino to see if the joint was busier. Just a handful of people trying the Cash Crane claw machine again.

    I grabbed a Coke at the casino bar. A few more people wandered in. A few minutes later the cruise director came in and sat down at a table to begin his morning show advertising the day’s events on one of the ship’s TV channels. He gave me a shout-out on the air as his only live audience member. I felt bad walking out on him a few minutes later, but I had orders to wake the boss at 9:30 A.M.

    We had brunch at the dining room. I had bacon, hashbrowns, and pancakes. Our server brought out a huge plate of additional bacon which really hit the spot. I chose ice cream for dessert.

    My wife did some shopping in the on-board shops, picking up a nice watch as a surprise for me. She found me in the third floor bar after she finished her shopping.
    We went to the guest services desk to check out the options for tours in Miami the next day. We didn’t fly out of Ft. Lauderdale until about 9:30 P.M. so we needed to find some way to spend some time. We decided to book a hop-on/hop-off tour that ended with shuttle service to the Ft. Lauderdale airport.

    We walked up to the upper deck, hoping to grab some spots in the Serenity adults-only section but there were only a few individual seats open.

    We went to the casino bar for awhile and my wife came up with the idea to each charge $10 from our account and see where it would get us as one last “hurrah” on the slots. We were side-by-side on penny slots and I blew through the $10 pretty fast at the minimum of 30 cents a spin. I was down to about fifty cents left and I left my wife to go over to a quarter slot to do a couple spins there to finish things up.

    While I was over there I noticed my wife move a few spots over to a “350X” slot and begin playing that. I expected to see her on her last few spins when I returned. Instead I returned to see her in the midst of some bonus spins, which ended with her sitting at $137. She cashed out and was so excited :banana: she was trembling as the cage clerk counted out her cash.

    My wife put 20 dollars into the Cash Crane. She didn’t come close to even grasping anything, but even worse than losing was the know-it-alls and hecklers who would mosey over to watch/comment as she played.

    We went back to the on-board shops as there was a clearance sale that my wife wanted to be there for. A throng of ladies was being held back from one end of the store by a temporary barrier. My wife joined the fray. I watched from the hallway as a clerk counted down and moved the barrier. My wife disappeared in the flood of savings madness that ensued. I lost track of her, mainly because I was distracted by two ladies in a tug-of-war over a $5 shirt. My wife emerged unscathed with a few pieces of souvenir jewelry.

    We went downstairs and began the worst part of the trip—packing for the next day’s :cry: departure.

    We went up and watched the sunset from Deck 9. We had supper at the buffet. The chicken parmesan was the stand-out dish that night. With full stomachs we retired to our cabin :faint: for the night.

    Here are some pics from Day 5. I’ll have the events from our sixth and final day ready soon…

    Two-fisting OJ. I had lots of vitamin "sea"...:rolleyes2:
    SUNP0430.jpg

    Random pics taken while at sea
    SUNP0434.jpg SUNP0441.jpg SUNP0478.jpg SUNP0497.jpg

    The onboard jogging/walking track
    SUNP0445.jpg SUNP0446.jpg

    The sun setting on our last full day at sea
    SUNP0503.jpg
     
  15. Richard Alpert

    Richard Alpert LOST

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    Thursday, 12/31/2015: Miami and home to Wisconsin

    The final day of our trip :cry: began with a 6:00 wake-up followed by breakfast at the buffet. Pancakes and hash browns really hit the spot.

    We went up top to snap a few photos as the ship came back in to the port of Miami.

    We grabbed our bags (1 medium suitcase, a backpack, and a small tote bag) and reported to the lower mid-ship dining room to await our time to get off the ship. At 8:20 we were dismissed and left the ship. We had all our luggage with us so we were able to skip the baggage claim and proceed directly to the customs/border patrol line. The officer checked our passports and accepted our customs form and waved us through.

    We waited outside the terminal :whistle: for our ride to the central station for the Big Bus Hop on/Hop off tour.

    It was a short bus ride to the Bayside area where we hopped atop a double-decker bus to do the Miami Beach loop. There were two other loops to do, but we only had time to do the one loop and still allow time for lunch before our ride to the airport. The tour company stored our luggage for us.

    It was fun to see the sights from the top of the bus. The art deco district was my favorite. I was a fan of the Miami Vice show from the 80s so this tour was quite a treat!

    About an hour-and-a-half later the tour ended with our arrival back in the Bayside area. There was an acrylic box by the door for tips for the guide and driver. My wife and I were among the last ones off of the full bus and we were the only ones to deposit tips :confused2: into the box. The guide was very informative and funny and I learned a lot about the history of the area we toured.

    Just yards from the bus stop was Hard Rock Café. The food was excellent. I highly recommend the pulled chicken sandwich with fries and onion ring tower. There’s a lot more room at and between tables compared to the HRC on the Vegas strip.

    We had a few minutes to explore the mall. My bride found a magnet at a t-shirt shop. We looked at the Disney store. They had some post-Christmas discounts, but mainly on items that were way too big to bring home!

    We went back to the bus stop and a bus took us to a parking lot near the port to retrieve our bags, which were stored in two small delivery trucks. A few minutes later, a nice charter bus pulled up. We rolled our luggage over to the bus and hopped on for our ride to the Ft. Lauderdale airport.

    We had a handful of hours to wait for our flight but we sat outside for awhile to soak up the last few rays of Florida heat. After check-in and security we sat at a quiet gate area and my wife got caught up on her Facebook and I worked on my outline for this TR.

    The peace of our flight home was only broken twice. When the New Year :woohoo: began in the Eastern time zone people cheered, clapped, and couples kissed. The same happened when we were in the Central :woohoo: time zone. Some folks were even decked out in party hats and glow bracelets. So we got to celebrate the New Year twice!

    We landed and after claiming our luggage we rode the shuttle back to the off-airport parking lot. Our driver, who went by the nickname “Bigfoot,” was awesome. After finding out which car was ours he hopped out before us to brush the snow :thumbsup: from our car.

    A quick stop at a 24-hour McDonald’s in White Bear Lake and a quiet ride home resulted in an arrival at our Wisconsin home at :faint: 3:15 A.M.. :snore:

    Here are some pics from the last day of our trip. Thank you very much for taking the time to read my TR. I will post a few final thoughts shortly.

    Coming into the Port of Miami
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    Some pics from atop Deck 9 of the ship
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    All's quiet up top--Must be time to go
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    Waiting for our ride to the bus tour starting site
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    Snapshots from the Miami Beach tour loop
    SUNP0539.jpg SUNP0548.jpg SUNP0555.jpg SUNP0557.jpg SUNP0560.jpg SUNP0565.jpg SUNP0572.jpg SUNP0573.jpg SUNP0590.jpg SUNP0592.jpg SUNP0597.jpg SUNP0601.jpg SUNP0605.jpg SUNP0640.jpg SUNP0642.jpg SUNP0649.jpg SUNP0652.jpg SUNP0657.jpg SUNP0659.jpg SUNP0667.jpg

    Entering Ft. Lauderdale airport
    SUNP0680.jpg SUNP0684.jpg SUNP0685.jpg
     
  16. Richard Alpert

    Richard Alpert LOST

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2015
    Messages:
    1,341
    Location:
    Wisconsin
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    9
    Final Thoughts

    I really enjoyed my first cruise.

    On this trip I really packed on the pounds. I left Miami for the cruise as a passenger and returned as cargo! I didn't experience any nausea or dizziness that I usually encounter in smaller watercraft. This feeling good made the trip even better!

    I have to give a big shout out to those who choose to work on cruise ships. I talked with some bartenders and waiters. They are on a six month on/2 months off schedule so they are only home for every third Christmas. They all said they enjoy not having to worry about paying for rent or food while aboard.

    I was surprised at the lack of tipping that I witnessed on the part of others both onboard and off. The best tippers I saw were folks from the heart of America.

    I met a lot of great people and made some new friends along the way.

    I snapped 1537 photos in all, but none of them really captured the true beauty of the people and places we visited. This trip really inspired me to take more time to experience and appreciate the beauty our planet has to offer.

    Thank you so much for taking the time to read this trip report!


    -Richard
     
  17. TexasLady

    TexasLady Tourist

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2008
    Messages:
    45
    Location:
    Carrollton, TX
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    40
    Great report. We love to cruise we go at least twice a year. It is so relaxing to sit on your balcony and watch the world go by; read a book and have a coffee in the morning or a drink in the evening. Nothing like breathing in the warm salt air.
     
  18. john1516inny

    john1516inny Low-Roller

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2008
    Messages:
    143
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    100
    Hi Richard, great report, we're also going to Jamaica on a cruise and booked the Bamboo Beach Club excursion, did you get the one with the reserved lounges? How was the beach and was the food was included in the excursion?
     
  19. bjpcyclone

    bjpcyclone High-Roller

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2013
    Messages:
    874
    Location:
    NE Oklahoma
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    15
    Great report!

    We are heading for a week long eastern cruise on Celebrity next Friday. Your report got me even more excited!
     
  20. loonytoony

    loonytoony VIP Whale

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2008
    Messages:
    1,307
    Location:
    Atlanta
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    20
    Great report!!!!

    My wife and I have just started cruising. What did you think of the condition of the ship? Room clean? Things look new or worn? etc
     
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