Happy happy Friday!
We are back on dry land after an awesome and relaxing 4-day cruise on the Carnival Sensation.
Our vacation kicked off on Sunday. We got to the port nice and early to avoid the lines getting on ship. We arrived just before 11:00 and were on board within an hour. I brought two bottles of (unopened) alcohol because I knew I didn’t want to pay the ships prices for drinks, well…as soon as we walked on a bartender handed out a drink in a souvenir cup and my reflex was to grab it. I enjoyed all 15 bucks worth! 🙂 I did not enjoy how pushy the bartenders were with drinks…
I don’t know how, but we somehow missed the part where we check our luggage because we were stuck lugging around our giant suitcase. Because of that, once we got on board we just picked a spot to sit until our room was ready. We took turns grabbing lunch at the buffet, and then headed down to our room. The room was much larger than I was expecting.
We did the assigned dining option for dinner and selected 6:00 (as opposed to 8:00). We laid out and explored the ship before having to get ready for dinner. Dinner was very very awkward initially. We were seated with four young couples, and things were just very quiet. The Boy is naturally very shy and quiet; I have to get to know you before I loosen up. Thankfully by dinner #2 the conversation flowed and everyone had a great time. We were seated next to Amanda and Bart from Georgia (they had just got married the day before the cruise and were on their honeymoon), Paula and Ben from Pennsylvania, Candy and Randy from Georgia, and Shana and Justin from Florida.
I wasn’t expecting the dining room staff to put on a show for us; the first night they danced around the room doing the Conga.
After dinner we walked around for a bit, hit up some karaoke in the Michelangelo lounge (yes, I may have participated), and then went to the Kaleidoscope night club when it opened at 10. Nobody was there yet, and about 15 minutes later I was ready for bed, so we left and called it a day.
Our first port of call was Freeport, Bahamas. We arrived early Monday morning around 8:00. After looking out the window at the port my nerves kicked in…
Asides from having lived in Germany the first three years of my life, I haven’t been outside the States, and am nervous about traveling “abroad”. From the ship, the port looked shiftier than I was comfortable with. At that point I decided I wanted to purchase a Carnival-vetted excursion; after spending about 20 minutes deciding on one to do, it was sold out by time we got down to the kiosk. At that point I decided we could get off the ship and just stay close. We walked around the port and enjoyed shopping at the market. I purchased a Bahamian purse for myself and Boo, and spent way too much buying shirts at the Harley Davidson shop. I also found a really cute bracelet in one of the shops and picked that up for a couple bucks. I got a yummy Electric Lemonade at Fat Tuesday’s before we made our way back to the ship. Needless to say, I am a crazy girl and my nervousness was uncalled for.
After we got back on board, I went to lay out while the Boy took a nap. Lunch-time quickly rolled around, so we headed over to the buffet. After our food digested, I went up to the track (I wanted to get my run in while we were at port because I wasn’t sure how I’d handle the whole running-laps-while-on-a-moving-vessel thing) and the Boy headed over the gym. It was very hot, and while there was an awesome breeze, I did not want to push it because I get dehydrated very easily. I ran a quick mile and then went to the gym to finish with some stretching and core work. I thought the gym was very nice; it was a decent size, well-equipped, and was dead.
Dinner #2 was our fancy night. I got showered and dressed and then headed up to the Lido Deck because I wanted to watch as the ship left port. It was so pretty and peaceful where I was sitting- and the scenery was majestic.
For dinner, I had lobster tail and shrimp and it was sooo good. I also learned at dinner #2 that I could order two appetizers and two desserts. That’s exciting stuff! 🙂 Afterwards we sat in the Serenity Lounge for a bit (that’s the 21 and over spot of the ship) before calling it a night.
I was most looking forward to Nassau. We got to port about 8:00, and got off ship to walk around a bit before our 11:30 excursion. I didn’t feel safe in Nassau; the street-pedalers were very pushy, the cars/drivers were all over the place, and the alley-ways just didn’t feel right. This is sad, but…I was feeling pretty on edge until I saw Starbucks. I didn’t get a Starbucks, but I guess just knowing it was there helped to settle me. I don’t know. I’m weird!
At 11:30 we went on a catamaran tour and snorkeling excursion. It was awesome! We had a 45-minute ride out to the reef, and then snorkeled for just under an hour. On the way back, we enjoyed some music and rum punch. I had never been on a catamaran before and that alone was super cool. We sat on the net part and I got to lean over the edge and watch the water. The snorkeling was interesting (read terrifying). I’m a very good swimmer, but for some reason the snorkeling equipment was too much for me. I think it was because I didn’t feel in control of my breathing. Oh, and the salt water that kept sneaking its’ way into my mouth sure wasn’t helping. As were winding down and making our way back to the boat, I removed the snorkel tube thing and left my mask on; I should have done that from the start because I felt a million times better. But overall, we had a great time and would totally do the excursion again.
Note: I purchased a disposable sport camera for taking underwater shots and will upload those as soon as I find a place to develop them.
We got back on board around 3:30/4:00 and quickly made our way over to the buffet to grab some lunch. After lunch it was time to get ready for dinner. That’s the down-side of having an assigned dinner-time. After dinner we watched Superstar Karaoke from the Plaza Lounge; this was a fancier karaoke setup than the one I previously partook in, so there was NO way I would be singing.
Wednesday was our “fun day at sea”. I woke up around 7:30 and went for a quick run. We then headed over to breakfast, and made sure to stop by the omelette station. We spent the rest of the pre-dinner day napping and laying out (well, I laid out while the Boy went to the gym). After dinner we went up to the 12th floor deck and just chatted while enjoying the view. It was our mission that night to stay up late enough to catch the late-night buffet. It opened at 11:30 and once we finally reached it (because of the line and all) we were disappointed in the offering. We opted to get pizza instead! And then we were off to bed.
We woke up early to ensure we could enjoy breakfast before debarkation. The debark process was smooth…actually a bit too smooth. We were called from our waiting area before our estimated debark time. Going through Customs was a breeze- we were asked a couple questions and then sent on our way. Since we arrived at port so early (8:00), I thought we’d spend some time at Cocoa Beach (since we are never over on the east coast), well…someone missed her turn. So, to the Orlando outlets we went! That was a mistake! The trip (or maybe it was all of the Malibu Rum I consumed the day prior) caught up with me, and the drive home was not fun.
These are the things I now know for next time
Online check-in- I checked us in online the day prior to leaving. This was clearly a waste of my time because there was no record of it in the computer system. The Carnival rep was able to quickly input our information, but next time I’ll save myself the 15 minutes and just not worry about it.
Outfit selections- Prior to leaving everyone I talked to said that people really don’t dress for dinner on board the ship, and the fancy night wasn’t really all that fancy anymore. While yes, there were some in shorts and t-shirts, most people did put some effort into their dinner ensembles and everyone wore something different than what they had worn earlier in the day. I was fortunate because I am not capable of packing light and brought two outfits for each day AND I used all of them.
Price vs. ship- Leading up to the trip, everything I read said don’t pick your vacation based off price alone and to research the ship itself. I now understand why. Sensation is a smaller ship; it almost looks to be half the size of some of the others. There were a lot of times when we would just make laps around the ship because there wasn’t anything exciting we wanted to do. I feel like bigger ships will have more to offer in terms of activities.
All you can eat food- That’s not really the case. There are plenty of times when the buffets are not opened. When that happens, your choices are pizza, deli, and/or ice cream. Going into this, I thought the food options were going to be endless.
Swaying feeling- I can handle jet-lag; I am having a very hard time with cruise-lag. We’ve been off-ship for over 24 hours now, and I still feel like I’m being swayed. It’s making me very dizzy. I was fine on-board though. I don’t do well flying, and even get motion-sickness in the car at times. I made sure to bring a surplus of Dramamine, but only took it that first day.
Overall, we had a great time and I can’t wait for our next cruise!
Click here for more pics from our trip.