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About Bulldogsoc

  • Rank
    Cool Cruiser

About Me

  • Location
    Barrie, Ontario Canada
  • Interests
    Hunting, Camping, ATV'ing and all things Outdoors
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    NCL Sun 2020, NCL Getaway 2019, MSC Meraviglia 2018, Carnival Splendor 2018, NCL Breakaway 2017
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call

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  1. Currently on day seven of eight day cruise on the Horizon. Was at the Chef’s table tonight and he told us the Captain will announce shortly about Carnival shutting down for thirty days.
  2. I have not heard of any changes. Don’t care anyway as all will be taxi to beach play by ear days wherever we end up. Re skyride, I read on an old fun times that it opens after the safety drill. I would love some pics with the Miami Skyline in the background with the kids/teens. Saw this on google images. Very pretty. Thx all.
  3. I would love to try them out sometime sans our teens. I saw that Ema did a promo cruise and panned the IKEA like convertible sectional to bed and the small bath. I rather like the interior and concept of a convertible live sleep idea. She was right about the light switch in the closet though. Very strange. I look forward to reading some more reviews of this new brand including your’s in May. Cheers. Mark
  4. Does anyone know if the skyride is open on day one of the cruise? Or is it operational at all I guess should ask first. We are on the ship at the end of this week. Wondering if it will be open before we leave port or on the way out. Thx.
  5. DAY 3 For our first of two port days we planned to got to Maya Chan. We booked it back in December. I forget what it cost... something like sixty dollars per head. Our ship did not arrive in port until around noon so we basically hung out and did some reading. Steve hit the rowing machine for an hour. Once we were in port and the go ahead was given by the cruise director we headed down to deck five I think it was. The way they worked the line was to start at the forward stair case and it snaked through the lobby passed guest services, through the mid ship dining roman back to the stairs and then down one floor and out. Maya Chan gave us a map by email to navigate the maze that is Costa Maya Cruise Port. Like most ports, they make everyone walk through and past all the show and bars to get to the exit. It is really a maze game. After you get out you walk to the gate and down the road about 150 meters until you see shows on the right with a big Mexican flag. There is a sign there that says Maya Chan. Staff will be waiting outside a little shop in a half finished and less than half full strip mall. We waited about ten minutes and then the cabs came with one group in one and the rest in the other. It is a bumpy 20-30 minute ride south though the little town and past the beach boardwalk where I had gone last January. They put large diameter manilla ropes across the roads every so often (or shall I say, OFTEN) to act as speed bumps. This coupled with the washed out dirt road and it made for a bumpy and not so pleasant ride. They told us it was part of the charm which is a good thing as it is a glass half full kind of attitude. If did not like the ride. They greet you and show you to your seating area which for us was a little palapa roofed cabana type thing with chairs and day bed. The beach is only 300 feet wide for the properly with unattractive fences at either end. The beach had lots of sea weed this day and by the looks of things, most days. He had an army of six plus guys raking the beach (and the water... no joke) constantly, but it was to no consequence as it made the water an unattractive brown mess. The Staff were AWESOME and I mean A+, as they came around every few minutes to ask if we wanted more drinks, salsa, etc. There are outdoor showers, change rooms, bathrooms, a small pool, two bars (one open while we were there), tube chairs to float in, snorkels and flippers, kayaks, etc. The Food was the BOMB. AMAZING home cooking that was buffet around 3pm. REALLY Good food. The Beer were not as cold as I like. I feel bad for them because the seaweed was really bad. Not much they can do about that. The properly has vacant property on either side and it is run down on both sides and the fence/barrier was very unsightly. Staff were awesome as was the food. The Funky rustic vibe was cool. But the small beach with run down sight lines, dusty, bumpy drive and fact that they get more than their fair share of seaweed, I would not return. Sorry. If I was returning next time, I would do like I did before and take a $2 taxi (catch this outside the port gates) and ask them to take me to the Hotel 40 Cannon on Majahaul beach, which is at the end of the boardwalk and then simply pick a hotel or restaurant along the beach and as long as you are eating or drinking you will get beachside service with umbrellas and chairs and can use their washrooms and showers across the boardwalk. You will get the same type of beach and service. You just might not get the home cooked food and a less crowded experience. It will certainly be cheaper and less of a drive. When you are done you can then walk the boardwalk to the other end and catch another taxi back to the port. If you did not want to leave the port, there is a pool and bars and dolphins and lots of shopping and restaurants. I like this port very much. It is similar to the one in Roatan. We got back on the ship and cleaned up a bit and then grabbed some drinks and chilled before cleaning up for our 8pm at Cagney's. Cagney's was ok. My porthouse was a let down. Just like last January. I should have remembered and went for the Fillet. It was a tough and (like last time) I don't think this was prime. It was more like choice grade, and it most certainly not a porterhouse cut. It was a T-Bone. A porterhouse is taken from the rear end of the short loin. This one was taken from the other end with a small tenderloin and almost no full T-Bone.. the T-Bone was half there and was full of tough connective tissue. It was a two thumbs down. My friends had the the fillet and the rib steak and they enjoyed theirs. We did love the sidecar cocktails and we skipped the desert. We had a few more drinks and called it a night as we planned to head off the ship after docking in Cozumel the next day. Day 4 We docked in Cozumel downtown (there is another port about 10 minutes south). There were two Carnival and one RC ships docked at the southern port. We did our morning ritual of coffee in the room followed by the aft buffet with coffee and Bailey's and then grabbed our books and headed for the pier which took no time at all. We had booked Mr. Sancho's for another beach day. You pay $5 in advance which secures your entry and then if it rains or you change your mind... no big deal. We were the only ship there aside from a very lovely motor yacht. We walked right though customs. Drug and food dog had a good sniff and we were off. In Cozumel they make you do what they always make you do and that is walk thought all of the mall to find an exit. You take an escalator up and then walk across the road by the mall bridge. You go down some stairs and then into a mall courtyard. You will see an opening to your left with sunlight an taxi drivers milling about. It is $17 for four people to go Mr. Sancho's which is about 20 minutes away. The taxi guy asked us if we have reservations (they sell out regularly). We get there. The guy at the gate asks... do you have reservations? We go in and get dropped off. The guy there asks... do you have reservations? You will have to walk past a bunch of vendors but then you will get to the check in. They pulled up my name... $50x3 on the credit card and we got our wrist bands and were shown to the table of our choice. We got two tables together right by the beach under a palm tree with lots of shade. We prefer table and chairs vs. loungers but you could take up both. I really did not understand the resort fully. It is really really big. There were signs saying not to share drinks and food with the non wrist band guests. There are two pools and there are shops and change rooms and washrooms constantly being cleaned. The Food at the buffet was ok but the a-la-cart menu was very good. We basically tried just about everyone on the menu. The fried whole grouper was awesome (order two). So was the shrimp saviche (sp?) was really good. The beer was canned poured into a plastic glass. I thought it was draft until I saw the guy pouring them at the bar. The mixed drinks were good. MR. Sancho's special Margarita was my fav. The beach is shallow but the water was clear and sea weed free and very nice. The place was not packed but I can only imagine what that would have been like. We were there by 9:30. By 10:30 lots of people from the Carnival Vista arrived and it was PARTY PARTY PARTY. You could pick the people who we would describe as "being in the wrecking chair" by 1pm (and we did!). LOL Fun. There are rental water sports and there is a water play area, but this is not a place I would take my kids. I would certainly return but not with kids or parents. By 1pm there was lots of dirty dancing at the pool with lots of donkey humping by people who really really should not be doing that but hey... they were were on vacation and rock stars for the day (albeit in their own mind). I saw one lady complaining about this on line but I do not know how she would not have known that this place was party central. We left around 2pm. Taxi was $18 back (not sure why and did not ask). We got back to the ship and had planned for a nap before our 9pm reservation at Moderno, but we kept the party going and enjoyed some great drinks in the Champagne bar. Coming back to the room to meet the guys I heard a lady in the elevator complaining about her meal at Moderno (worst meal of her life). So I returned to the room to announce this to the guys. Apparently the meat was undercooked and there were "no good salad dressings at the salad bar". We arrived and we were the only people in the place. I was concerned that the meat would be overdone by this point in the night but that was not the case. We got four whole tenderloins each to start. There were in fact lots of salad dressing option and the chicken and lamb were also pretty good medium rare to medium. The Picanha was rare and they offered to cook it more but we were so full that we skipped it. The bottom line was that the place was EMPTY. They are not doing much business there. The food was good. I would go there again before Cagney's but that is just me. We got so much meat! We took in the Magic show that night by the illusionist. We enjoyed it. But the resume he had on the power point screen that you sit through waiting for the show made it seem like he was a Vegas Headline and not doing one show and one workshop on a five day cruise. The Theater was good but if you sit too far back your view of the upper part of the backdrop screen is not visible. We had some drinks and then hit the hay. We put the coffee/continental order on the door handle before calling it a night. We loved sleeping with the door open. It was really nice. Day 5 One more sea day to go. It was spent like all the others... passing the time on the patio, drinks but the pool and chilling with some books. The Miss Norwegian Sun was not as entertaining as the Mr. Sexy Legs. They really did not have constant entertainment going on on the pool deck. They had some beer cup flip races which was very well attended. Lots of security on hand for some reason towards the end of the event on this last day. Not sure why or just a cautionary measure. We had breakfast in the centre dining room on this last day. That was nice. Cannot recall what we had but it was all good. Dinner was in the same dining room that night. We went at 5:30pm and it was good. He had to laugh at the "BAKED WALLEYE COD" . We asked the waiter to ask the chef what it was or if it was a typo. The head waiter did not want to do this so he never came back to our area. Our waiter did ask and was told to tell us it was COD. It was good and we had a good laugh. We had like four apps, two or three mains and two deserts. PIGGED OUT!. We took in the Comedian that night after a short nap. I did laugh at a couple of jokes but i would have skipped it in retrospect. Some people were howling!!!! I thought Steve was going to have to go in ER mode as one lady was laughing so hard I did not know how she was breathing. Good for her. None of my cruises to date on Norwegian have had comedy that competed with Carnival's offerings. Each cruise line has their strengths and weaknesses, We called it a night and packed our carry ons for morning. We were going to walk off and Bonnie and Dale were going to meet us at the pier to drive us to Orlando. My bill was stuck to my door number that night. No issues. All in order. We grabbed coffee and breakfast on the aft deck and then headed out once the announcement was made. We walked right out and we were curb side within minutes. I don't think we stopped other than to show our passport. We were waved through. OTHER STUFF The free wifi included 100 minutes. This was just enough for the three of us to do some emails and texting over the five days, if you composed your texts and emails first and then logged on. If you forget to lot off and we did the last day... it is gone! The internet was also hit and miss as many of our text did not go through towards the end of the cruise, while I was able to send pictures earlier in the cruise. We could get cell signal passing Miami the night before. We made some calls that last night. SUMMING UP It was really good trip. We felt we got good service. Good drinks. The Food was fine. Our room was amazing. Very good value for what we paid and we would do it again. Two thumbs up. Thanks for listening and sorry it took so long. I am heading to Miami on March 6th to take the family on an 8 day souther Caribbean itinerary on the Carnival Horizon. Really looking forward to that. Cheer for the snowy north! Mark
  6. Sorry for the hiatus there. When you are away from the office for a bit it takes a bit to dig out and catch up. Time to finish this review today!! I forgot one memorable time on day one and that was that after the muster drill we grabbed our shorts and hit the pool. Nobody was in the pool as people thought it was way too cold. People would dip their foot and scrunch up their face. That said, there was nothing that was going to keep there guys from cold weather climates from getting into a pool of non-frozen water in the February Sun and in we went to a lot of pointing and picture taking by people around the pool. It was wonderful. It was also really fun white the ship rocking as it turned the longer of the two pools into a wave pool and you would find yourself getting tossed around a bit. Very fun. Another Canuck and his four year old daughter soon joined us. The heat was obviously off initially as the pool gradually got warmer throughout the cruise. We hit the hot tub after that. There are four in the centre between the two pools. I only stayed a few minutes but Mike and Steve struck up a conversation with some nice folks and were in there for over an hour. You cannot drink in the hot tubs anymore. Not sure when that change happened. as I recall ordering drinks from hot tubs in the past. Oh well. I get it. Not the best idea for blood pressure issues combining the double dose of vasodilation from both the hot water and the OH/Alcohol. Unfortunately, Mike's skin did not like the water and he got a bit of a rash and alas that was his last day of swim trucks! DAY 2 Steve and Mike are my fishing buddies and our families have spent the last 20 years together at Thanksgiving so I know their sleeping habits well and I am the early riser of the bunch so I took the twin bed closes to the door and laid out some clothes the night before so I could slip out early to get my coffee and Bailey's early and let them sleep for another hour. So we were at the front of the ship on deck 11. There are a few dozen cabins up that way. Moving aft there is the spa on the starboard side and the gym and yoga studio on the port side with the open (small) atrium elevators in the centre. The Gym and yoga studios had people in them at all hours. Very nice views. This reminds me of one pet peeve and that was the floor to ceiling windows around the ship were FILTHY! I mean in many places it was so bad you could not see out of them. I have not seen this on my previous cruises, as they had cleaning crews working on this during the port days. The MSC Mareviglia (sp?) had a robot like machine that did this. This was a bummer because you really had to go looking for a spot to look out. Even on Deck 12, the floor to ceiling panels on the side of the ship were ten or twelve feet high and you had to look through dirty panels. You would have to find a deck rail somewhere further up or further down on deck 6 to get an unobstructed view. After the spa and gym is the pool deck with the stage at one end and the full bar a the other. There is a towel station that is open until the early evening. They do not put towels in your room. They use pen and paper system to sign out and sign back in again. It was unclear to me whether you had to find your original entry on the sign out board or simply wrote the sign in on the separate sign in board. It was very hap hazard and your did this yourself and many times there as not attendant there and it was self serve so I am pretty sure there is no way they are deciphering everyone's hen scratchings and entering that into a sail and sign account to charge people for wayward towels. The towels are about the cheapest towels I have every seen at resort or on a ship. Not a big deal. You will see what I mean. By day two the blue rope lines to the lines had disappeared. Behind the pool bar is the buffed on starboard and the sports bar on port at the back. There is a second buffet at the back that backs onto the aft outdoor seating area. Really nice. The Buffets are small but fine. They make custom eggs int he morning and have a crepes station inside and ice cream. Each morning the inside buffet has some type of sticky bun pan of sweet goodness. Pecan one day, apple the next, cin buns the next. Nice! The bar tender in the early morning at the aft was new and little green but nice. He eventually found the liqueurs and I was set with my coffee. For the Canucks, they cannot makes Caesar to save their sole but the bloody mary's looked all decked out with lots of green and olives. A glass of ice with kettle one and watery clamato is what you get and it you ask for spice they just put all the salt, pepper, Tabasco, Worcester in front of you to make your own. Maybe it was different at different bars. I had a few coffee's until the guys woke up and then we went back aft for some breakfast. They spent a good amount of time on our forward facing deck with their books. I grabbed a few loungers by the pool as we were going to watch the men's legs competition later in the day. There was never a problem finding lounger chairs by the pool. If you wanted one in a specific spot you likely need to be there by 8am or 9:30 at the latest. Day two was a sea day. We caught the contest and that was fun and funny. We grabbed some wings in the sports bar and did a lot of reading. We had a fair bit to drink and did not do a whole lot of anything. At 4:30 we ordered everything from the room service menu (yes everything... getting money's worth out of the delivery fee) and then proceed to eat all of it and then a nap was in order... just like a fishing trip before the evening outing. The room service was quick and pretty darn good as far as room service goes. As we age everything I cannot recall anything bad. Then again three guys with a dozen beer clocked might not be the best culinary critics at that point. Ok... Friday morning is garbage day and I have to get the bags out as they come early here. Minus twelve degrees centigrade here this morning! More in a bit. Mark
  7. So after the sale away party we wanted something to eat but the buffet was not open. We went to the pub at the back of the ship but it was not serving foot until 5:30 or six so we just ordered some drinks and then came back. They have wings (six or ten and sauce or no sauce), soups, burgers and other stuff. The service there as quick once you ordered but it can be best described as inattentive. The servers were all male when we were there and they seemed new to the job and frankly very timid... almost scarred looking. Very nervous. I guess they were new and wanted to do good but fearful of making a mistake. Maybe it was an English confidence thing. All the bar stools were taken at the bar anytime we were in there so you will get served faster by having a seat as opposed to going to the bar. FYI, they have washy washy staff at the entrance to every eatery or choke point, which was really good as I never saw anyone using the wash stations. One of my favourite things about the Sun was the big outdoor dining area at the back of the ship and the bar there. It is a big space that has a heavy duty high tech tent/roof over it. Great views. The bar back there is never busy and opens first thing in the morning so if you want a caesar, bloody mary, bailey's in your coffee you were in luck. It had great views and well staffed but in port be careful of leaving foot unattended or you will get bombed by seagulls. I do agree with some people's comments about the roof's rather dirty appearance. Look at it from dockside and you will see it is really crap brown from all the soot from the stacks. Not sure if they ever power wash it. So after a quick bit and some more libations it was back to the cabin for a quick nap before heading down the rear main dining room. Can't recall what it was called. I think it was on six or five but you could not get to it without going to the rear stairs or elevator. We ate there the first night and brunch one day. It was very good. Big Menu. We ate like it was our last mean every night!! terrible for the waist line but fun. I enjoyed the free mozzarella and tomato salad; the french onion soup, and many others. The seared sea scallops were slightly underdone for my liking but a good size. The slow cooked short ribs were not what I expected. Maybe we did not read the who description but it came on egg noodles. Mike and I cook and smoke a lot of meat as a hobby and neither of us were convicted that was short rib meat. It was more like a pot roast of outside round or blade roast. Still ok but not great. The breaded flounder and trout were good. We had the lava cake and ice cream which was also good. We only had one or two glasses of wine the whole time. SHOWS None of us really enjoy song and dance shows so we never went to any. We took in the Illusionist on night four which was pretty good. His slide show intro is a bit of over the top ingratiating. Reading it over an over for the 15 minutes until show starts made you wonder why the name of Pete would this guy be doing a show on the Sun of all places. He was good but he needs to dial back his CV on the power point. We also went to the comedian on the last night. He was ok. I laughed a few times but maybe I was a tough nut. Let me tell you some people laughed so hard I thought Steve was going to have to give them medical attention. It sounded like people that did go to the other shows said they were good. I went to the next cruise presentation. That was good. However, it was funny... they went through the full list of ships and all the various itineraries all over the world, BUT ASIA. They basically ignored it and nothing was mentioned at all. It was like they never went to Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, etc. I guess the powers that be said to simply ignore it. The Next Cruise deal is that you can give them up to 4 $250 next cruise deposits totalling $1k (actually you could do double that) and they would give you a $500 on board Credit to spend (for four deposits) or $1k (for eight deposits). If you did not spend the $500 on board credit, they would put it towards the $1k deposits. So basically, if you are going to do another NCL cruise in the next 4 years you could get $1k worth of deposits for $500 (or $2k for $1k) on 6 day or more cruises; and this is on top of any other discount or best price you could find, including Costco. After dinner the first night we were stuffed and tired so we hit the hay. Getting back to the forward facing cabin. It was not windy at all at 20 knots unless we were going into the wind. it was a calm as could be to sit out there at full steam as long as the wind was blowing in some other direction. If you put your TV on the navigation station you can find out all that info and monitor where the ship is in the gulf at any point in time. The other thing about our cabin was that the AC did not shut off when your patio door was open for some reason. I have never seen that before. Maybe the sensor was broken. We slept four of the five nights with the patio door wide open. While you are not supposed to leave stuff on your balcony, we strung an L - Shaped clothesline out there along one side and below the railing and stuff dried super fast with the breeze. It was as if there was a breeze below the rail while you were out there but above waist height, it was calm as could be. Bring a line and some clothespins. I packed super light in a 25litre back page and brought some soap and washed a few items several times and hung them out to dry. I also brought some magnets with hooks but be warned that while they work int he bathroom, deck and doors, the wallpaper in our room was too think for them to have a good adherence. OK... gotta head back to the ski hill to pick the boy up. More and Day 2 later... Mark
  8. Ok... Dogs calmed down. So in my previous four cruises I have always gotten on board early. With the Breakaway and Getaway I had the clan in the Haven. On Carnival we had FTTF. On MSC we had the YC. Not sure with those we really got on all that sooner than the rest of the people that get to the terminal early but my point is that I like to get on board as early as one can so as to start your vacation... get a drinks or six, explore, get some food, etc before the boat drill. I thought by two pm on a smaller ship like the Sun we would fly through... nope. With all the Corona Virus stuff going on, we immediately learned that they were checking every page of every passport. They also had us fill out a form and an addendum to that form (seemed to be the same questions on both). Now, everybody I saw, including US citizens appeared to have a passport in hand. I am told that US folks can take these Caribbean cruises without a passport (??? is that true??? no idea). Seems crazy to me this day in age that anyone would leave the country without a passport but to each their own. So I do not know what they did with US citizens without passport but suffice it to say I did not see very many people (Actually I saw none but I did not look at the 500 people in room. I was also curious about what they were looking for. How would these staff be able to identify passport stamps from the Asian areas of concern? Did they have briefing that morning with a power point (yes I do ponder of these things...). Well it tuned out that all the passports were gathered up once you got to one of the twenty or so counters and they sent them to only a small number of (I assumed trained) people to look them over. Smart I thought. So the bottom line was that while nobody likes to snake through a line for an hour. Nobody complained. I think it is save to assume that the collective WE like the steps they were taking! As a side note, I saw only two masks in that departure area and after that I did not see another mask until we were back at MCO five days later. We the staff were friendly... I had a Corona beer bag (yet one of those freebee's from two four of cans in Quebec last summer) and boy did I get some jokes about taking that bag. At first I thought they were making fun of me with the cheap free beer bag like I was teasing Steve... but no... Virus... Ooooooooh I get it! Anyway, by the looks of the very friendly staff at the port, I would guess the average age was well into their 60's. This may be a second career or part retirement gig for many of them. Wow... friendly and nice. Two thumbs up. With our card in hand we are off to get on the ship. We walk onto the ship on deck six with the lifeboat drill about to begin. We walk aft to our station B on the starboard side. We stand there for maybe 15 minutes and it is done. I was concerned at one point because there were still a few hundred people still to board in line behind us so I am not sure what they did for those folks. Anyway, the life boat drill was done by PA by the cruise director and once that was done we headed to our Cabin on deck 11. CABIN OK... I have had everything from inside and basic balcony cabins on Carnival to Suites at $$$ additional cost. This room was wonderful!!! I still could not figure out why nobody took it. The deck was huge. It had two big comfy cushioned wicker chairs, a table and two full side sun loungers. Wonderful. It had a king and a double sofa bed. it was also wider than the usual rooms (we saw others). Room 1002 Two thumbs up. We dropped our stuff and left a note with some money for the steward to do three things... separate the king into twins, empty the mini bar and see if he could replace one of the sun loungers with another chair. Then... off to get some drinks. DRINK PACKAGE So the deal was when we bought the tickets that two of us would get the beverage package and one would be pay as you go. A week after i bought it, they came out with another promotion that basically ever adult in the room would get a beverage package with you only paying the tips. We were prepared to pay but it was entirely unnecessary and i am not talking about being sneaky. Basically if the three of us sat down at any bar or restaurant together and ordered three drinks, they just asked us for two card even when they knew one did not have the plan. Don't ask me why? Maybe because these are usually short booze cruises and normally everyone get the package. But anyway, we were never charged for one drink for Steve. You could get two drinks as a time. I don't think the Starbucks on deck 5 was included. Someone educate me here. We never ordered from there. We only got speciality coffee (Irish coffee, Cappuccino, espresso etc) at dinner or breakfast in the DR. They had canned beer of various types at the pool bar in 11. Bottled beer in the Bliss, Champagne and other bars that escape me. The drinks menu was everywhere but nowhere could I find a paper list of what was included or not and it just never used our limited 100 internet minutes to look it up. Anyway, some of the mixed drinks were good. Some bar tenders were better than others, but overall they were good. We drink a lot and we did so. We liked the fact that we had the topsider's bar and buffet on the same floor as our cabin. The Pool bar staff would give your the beer unopened if you asked and we would stock our fridge for time we were just reading on the patio or getting ready for dinner (which for us was changing a shirt or maybe ditching our sandals). Thank worked good. FYI... be warned that after the boat drill and through sale away and thereafter until about 6:30pm the bars will be twelve deep. the pool bar will have ropes (enter and exist) on two sides of the bar for the first day or so until things calm down. Everyone wants a drink at this point so you will likely have to wait so my advice is to check out the champaign bar or see if something is going on in Bliss or other place where the line may be shorter. Around Four we cast off and went up to the Spinnaker lounge and deck to see if we could see Bonnie and Dale who were going to watch us leave. I was wearing my blaze orange Beretta hunting hat (I wear it so my kids can find me in a crowd on ship) so they said they would look for it. It turned out we could not see them but apparently they saw us having located the hat. Fun. While we were in the Spinnaker lounge we looked over to see a band's drum set and Mike the Engineer of our group figured that was located just about where I room would be located below... Ahhhhh maybe that is why nobody wanted our room. That may have been the case but we never heard anything and there were a few nights where we were reading or sawing logos by 9:30/10pm and we heard nothing from above. Ok... gotta grab a bite... more later... Mark
  9. OK... back from the ski hill. Seems like the beach(es) in Mexico was long ago. So I picked the Econo Lodge because it had a 24 hour 7/11 and MacDonald's right beside it and it checked all the other boxes. I was just waiting to arrive and find the place locked up (I can read that in a review). But no, while we do drive around in back of the Clarion, the Lobby (size of my kitchen) was open and manned by a nice young lady. It was clean, shiny and new. There was a small area with a computer and printer, big screen tv and a small area for the morning breakfast. She checked us in quickly and in a manner of a minute we had the wifi password and two room keys in hand. Hour plan was to take their free shuttle back to MCO the next morning to meet Mike coming in from Calgary. We asked about the shuttle and she said she had two seats left at 10am and we said great as Mike would be landing around 9:30am or so. We walked around the corner into the inner courtyard to find our room. Now it was here that the place looked like a public housing project. It really did look dire but when we got to our room, it was clean and reasonably modern. Beds were comfy and it was clean. It had a Fridge and lots of towels. Two thumbs up for sixty bucks and change!! It was now 3:15 am and the beer was wearing off and we both had the munchies so off to the McDonalds next door. I had read in a prior hotel review that it had been closed for reno. It was certainly reno'd but only staffed by three people and for the first ten minutes I swear there was nobody in the kitchen. LOL It took twenty minutes to get cheeseburgers and the place was not... well... clean! Nicest reno at a Micky D's I have seen but it was a two thumbs down. Back to our two star hotel and received text from Mike saying he made it to Pearson from Calgary! Perfect... we are on track. But Noooooooo! Not so fast. The next morning the Continental Breakfast was great. Coffee was good. Internet was good and the Seven Eleven even had a selection of toothbrushes to choose from (I am always forgetting to put mine into by bag after using it for the last time). [tip for Canadians... do what I did and unload all that USD change you have kicking around at home for purchase like this and save your bills for the tips onboard]. So, over coffee in the morning we hear from Mike that while he is on board his Westjet flight... it is delayed on the tarmac (just like us) for close to two hours (deicing and such). Oh boy! Our plan had been to meet him at MCO arrivals and take GoPort to Canaveral, but with the potential for him to not arrive until 12:45 we would unlikely make the last bus to Port Canaveral at 1pm. Dr. Steve casually turns to me and tells me that his mom and her boyfriend happen to be wintering just down the turnpike in Canaveral and that she would likely love to have coffee. Two minutes later a plan is hatched for them to come to MCO and drive us to Canaveral. Sweet. We get a text from Mike that his is now getting ready for takeoff. We check the WestJet web site and hit seems to be changing in real time as to the scheduled arrival, as it went from 12:30 to 12:15 to 12:11. Back on track!!! At twenty to ten we check out, grab one last coffee and head over the meet the Shuttle as instructed at the next door Clarion. We go early as it was my sense that it would be crowded and/or full. Sure enough there were lots of people waiting. The shuttles were brand new sprinter vans. The driver arrived with the clip board and my heart sank as I did not see the front desk lady writing down our names or mentioning our names when she had called at 3am to reserve two more seats. It was clear to me that there were more bodies than seats but no... our name was on it and we got loaded up and out of there promptly at 10am. SO.... the Econlodge... Look for Seventy bucks taxes in it was a bargain. It was run down in the courtyard but the rooms and service was better than I have gotten at four stars. Would I take my family back there in Month's time for another cruise... NO. but I would not hesitate to book the Clarion out front... we walked through it and it was quite nice and much bigger and reno'd. Having the Seven Eleven there as great for some drinks and last minute items. So we get back to MCO and the driver asks were everyone is going and she quickly and efficiently dropped everyone off where they needed so go. Once group were taking the Norwegian bus from MCO so they got dropped first. Someone needed to go to terminal A and we were last at Terminal B. It all only took 15 minutes from start to finish. Two thumbs up for the driver. Tipped and thanked her and grabbed our carry on bags. I had backpack and Steve had this carry on suitcase that looked like he stole it from a homeless person. I know he may read this (sorry Steve) but I have to tell the side story of the heat I gave him all weekend. Steve is an ER doctor without pretences (clearly) but he pulls out this brand new Apple Powerbook worth over six grand out of this crappy bag... OMG we rode him on that! But i degrees.... We get to MCO and locate where Mike is going to arrive from and plunk ourselves down near some plugs to charge our phones and wait. Forty-five minutes later, Bonnie and Dale show up from Canaveral and we are off for a coffee and bite and the Denny's right outside the airport. Man those folks in Florida are luck with the A++++ service you receive at places like that. We had the friendlies and fastest service there for $6.99 grand slam. Man wonderful people working hard for not a big pay check. Quality Quality People! We are getting out check and it is only a few minutes after noon and Mike texts to say he has landed. Bonnie and Dale are in the their Seventies so I volunteer to drive the car with PEI plates (again...if you have never been... FRIENDLY TOP drawer folks). Off to terminal B. We had told Mike to meet us at Post 28 right outside the the big Hyatt lobby. Boom... we pull in and he is there. We are off to Canaveral. WE ARE GOING TO MAKE OUR SHIP! Moral of story here... if you are faint of heart or a spending BIG bucks on a cruise, DO NOT do what we did!!! LOL It is an easy and smooth 45 minute drive to Canaveral. We arrive there by 1:30, so we had time to see the place Bonnie and Dale rented and they gave us the tours. Great people. Then we take the 5 minute drive to the north side of the port (terminal 10 I think) right nest to the Disney terminal. We pull in and hope out. The Porters were disappointed to see we only had carry on. We thanked our hosts and we then taking the escalator up to the departures area. It was not close to two pm. I think we were to sale at 4pm and I thought we were supposed to be there no later than three. The drop off area was empty so I was fully expecting us to simply check in and walk on in short order but when we got to the top of the escalator there was a VERY big line. What the heck???? OK... stay tuned I have to go see what the dogs are howling at. I promise I will get to the stuff you really care about but this is just the way to write. Mark
  10. I have been back for a little over a week and am now sitting down at the kitchen table to do my usual review with the piles of snow outside the widows. As usual, it will be long and in parts so some of you might want to skip my tomb of a recount. By way of background I foolishly waited about twenty-five plus years before I took my first cruise in March of 2017. Up until I travelled it was mostly to all inclusive land resorts when I was looking for sun in the south. After my first trip on the Norwegian Breakaway out of Manhatan, I was hooked. This most recent cruise was my fifth and I have another one coming up in early March. I have had a very good time on all of them and the Sun was no exception. THE PLAN This was a guy's trip; a short getaway. On a gloomy November day last year (we got dumped on with snow early this season) I texted my buddies who I do a yearly trip with to see if they were equally in need of a trip to look forward to and they were in. I live north of Barrie, Ontario and work in Toronto. Mike lives in Calgary and Steve is in the little town of Kensington, Prince Edward Island. We are all in our early fifties and are very seasoned world travellers. Within a few hours we had agreed on a four or five day window and I went to work looking into what was available within the window of time we had. I had been on Norwegian, Carnival and MSC and Mike had been on Norwegian in Europe the previous summer. We wanted something out of Florida because it is central for the guys coming in from Eastern Western Canada and because there are lots and lots of flights at pretty decent prices. Our last trip was in June the previous year where we went fishing in Northern Quebec. Our plan was simply to get away for a few days to eat, drink, read and relax. The Norwegian Sun's five day itinerary to Costa Maya and Cozumel hit the mark. I had been to both of those ports in January of 2019 on the Getaway. On our last cruise we had wanted to go to Maya Chan and Mr. Sanchos in those ports but they were booked. This time they were open and we booked them for our port days. More on them in detail in a subsequent post. We really did not care about the cabin. I had only ever sailed with the Family on Norwegian in the Haven and I knew the Sun did not have such a suite, and the guys just told me they were fine with an inside cabin. At the time I booked they had some type of sale and it turned out that a balcony cabin with three free at sea was only couple hundred dollars more than an inside cabin. It was crazy how little the price difference was for a balcony, 100 internet minutes and the dining package for two. Considering the guys had to fly to Toronto, I sprung for the difference and got us into a balcony cabin. I noticed that there was a forward facing cabin still remaining on deck 11, which is the lido deck with the pools, buffet, spa and gym. Our Room appeared to have a larger balcony. It was cabin 1002 and was right next to the port side owner's suite. I frankly could not figure out why this one was still available. The Bridge was below us and there was the bar above us. I figured it must have been the bar/noise potential. I wanted to try a forward facing balcony as I have had aft balconies before and loved them. I thought that it would be very windy up front once we were going 20 knots or so, so that also was something that I thought would be a down side. In any event, we are three very easy going guys that are very much use to camping and the outdoors so we are low maintenance as long as A. the place is clean. B. People are friendly and sensible and C. The ice cube machine works!!! The cruise was cheap in our opinion. It was something shy of $700 Canadian Each. We really did not want to take an extra day off so we planned to catch the first flight our of Pearson the morning of and if it was delayed, it was delayed and worse case we would find something to do in Orlando for a few days. None of us have every bought trip insurance in 30 years of travelling (we acknowledge we are due to get burned). It is what it is but cost of an extra day prior to departure in time and cost was something we were willing to roll the dice on. Mike was going to take a red eye our of Calgary on Feb 6th and then catch a 7:30 am flight our of Pearson to OCM. Steve flew into Toronto with his wife a few days early to go to Raptor's game and a show so the two of us were going to get to Pearson for a 6am flight to Orlando. Good plan until three days before I checked not he flight and it had been cancelled and we were now not leaving until 9:45 am which would put us into Orlando at 12:30 or so and that was cutting it close, so we decided to do what Mike was doing and take a red eye out Thursday, February 6th and then grab a hotel for a few hours sleep. We rebooked which was no easy task because around this time the Canadian Ministry started making entry restrictions and flights are getting cancelled in the far east and all hell is breaking loose and the wait time for Air Canada was two hours if you could even get in the cue. TIP.... when you call in and ask you to select one of the items depending on if you have an existing or new booking or something else.... ALWAYS say you want to spend money and go to new booking... they won't put you in the long line. Try it next time. I waited for 1.5 hours before giving up then I called back and it was to be a similar wait and then it hit me... tell them I want to spend money and they will put me in short line. What business turns away money? None. Boom... I was talking to an operator in three minutes and he had no idea what button I selected previously... It would appear they all go in the same line. Try it. So next I need a hotel for a few hours of sleep. The Hyatt at the airport was five hundred USD large so that was a no go. I wanted something close to the airport with a shuttle, breakfast would be good a nice option and ideally close to a pharmacy for last minute items. I was in a hurry and did not have a lot of time to research. I ended up booking the Econo Lodge on McCoy which was was advertised as sixty bucks and change and I regretted it as soon as I had a chance to look at it later in the day. It was an "oh well" if we can sleep in the woods while hunting, how bad could it really be? More on that later. LEAVING TORONTO So while we are having a beer waiting for our flight at Pearson, I start breaking the news to Steve and for comedy relief, letting Mike in on the joke while he was also waiting out in Calgary... the Trip Advisor reviews were brutal. We were laughing as we real each subsequent horror story and each added another half dozen exclamation points to each sentence. Oh Well. While at Pearson we discovered something we did not know... once in a bar in departures, you can ask them to put your beer in a plastic cub and you can take it with you and walk around. I had no idea... we walked onto our plain with a beer in hand.... seemed like a good idea at the time but not so much once we were delayed an hour and a half on the tarmac while we waited to be deiced. I had to make a made dash to the bathroom with the seat belt sign on. They were turning people back and I was going to burst so grabbed the air sickness bag as a prop and it worked like a charm... puff your cheeks out and hold the bag in a death grip and everyone will get our of your way and no crew is going to want to stop you!!! (two new things I learned). So the flight was full and quick (Pilot made up time) but he warned us it would be bumpy and it was... the seat belt sign never went off... no snacks or anything the whole way as it was BUMPY. ARRIVING IN ORLANDO We arrived in Orlando around 2:30am. We had no checked bags so we went right to arrivals to see where the taxi stand was. It was hard to find as it seemed like there are several levels that have pick up. It mattered not cuz there are no taxi's and I had forgot to download Uber and Lyft before I left. So there we were with 5% power on my phone and I had to download the app so we fund a plug... fast charge to get some more juice while I download Uber. Boom... order... app says seven minutes... boom there he is.. Awesome. It is only about a ten minute ride... the Econolodge is attached to a Clarion but it is AROUND BACK. This appears prominently in the chorus of negative (BAD BAD BAD) reviews. It was like we were going to be going down a dark alley as we anticipated how bad this place was going to be.... alas I will have to pick it up a little later as I have to drop my son off at the Ski Hill for the day. More shortly... Mark
  11. When we boarded the Norwegian Sun out of Canaveral a week ago Friday, they checked every page of everyone's passport. It took about 90 minutes and while nobody likes the wait, most seemed pretty glad they were doing it.
  12. Yes, you only need one card. The kids were ten and twelve at the time and they just shared the card. They never had to wait between plays. I only restricted the younger of the two. The older one was aware of what was and was not included. Was great value in our opinion. Enjoy.
  13. I agree 100%. Done both YC and Haven. Food, drinks, service and entertainment was better in our Haven experiences than on our YC 12 day sailing. It was certainly cheaper on our YC but even if that deal could be had again we would not return to MSC YC.
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