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About jdcml

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    Montverde, FL

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  1. Came back with some sort of a head cold and low grade fever, guess I should have been taking the immune supplements even on the ship and when I got home. I noticed it some about mid-week and thought maybe it was just allergies but it’s getting the better of me now for sure. The first two days on this itinerary were sea days. Sea days then have sea day brunch on the menu too. Most of our group actually preferred the port day breakfast menu. We sampled quite a bit from the brunch menu on our three days total. The crowd favorite was the chia seed parfait and I’m going to try and find the recipe to recreate that at home. It seemed a lot like an overnight oats type of thing that would be easy to make in a batch and take to work. Breakfast service was decent but always seemed painfully slow every morning. It didn’t matter if it was a port or sea day, it was just slow. We only did the lido buffet for breakfast one morning and that was our first port day in St Maarten because we had to meet the excursion early. As for the ship on sea days, there was plenty to do. Of course, if you didn’t get to the pool by some silly hour the chairs were gone, so we worked around that. We were able to find enough room up near the slides on 12 that still could see the activities on 10 and provided a little shade too. Our favorite spot on sea days was probably 5 forward on the shade side of the ship. There were literally dozens of loungers sitting empty with nobody around. On 5 you wouldn’t really expect any bar service and there wasn’t any, but overall it was normally difficult to find a bar server even in the busier parts of 10-12 and often even the showroom. Back in the day it seemed like there was a conga line of people with the drink of the day and that isn’t the case any longer. This was actually something that we noticed in a lot of places on the ship and I’ve seen it mentioned before. The crew to guest ratio seems to have changed fairly significantly. It wasn’t uncommon for it to be 2 guests deep at the Red Frog or Blue Iguana on lido and just 2 or 3 bar tenders taking order as best they could. I thought on a number of occasions that it would be helpful to have a well or pass at each bar for walk up service so that everyone would be in a line. I noticed a lot of aggravated people that felt like they were there before someone else that got served but the bartender really didn’t have any way of knowing what was what based on the crowd of people looking for a drink. OH! On the first day I believe before we even left port the Red Frog Pub was doing happy hour. We had seen that posted in a few places and it didn't really impact us because we did the Cheers! package. We stopped by to see what was happening and it was like Black Friday at a big box store with $199 big screen televisions. It was no less that 3 people deep at the bar and crazy loud with everyone trying to get bottled beers. People were walking out with 3-5 buckets per passenger and heading back to their cabins with them. We actually passed someone walking out with an entire case, still in the cardboard. If you aren't doing Cheers and drink bottled beer, you may want to consider fighting the crowds to stock up on half price beer before you set sail! In the past we played bingo a few times each cruise before the show or whatever. We only played once this time and realized the odds vs the payout has changed significantly. The game we played I believe it was a $125 and $250 payout. The final game was a $2000 payout… and then when he claimed his bingo they brought him up on stage to throw corn hole bags and would pay per bag that was in the hole. They helped and pushed some in for him anyway so he didn’t go away with nothing, it just seemed a little deceptive. Also, if you didn’t get your cards early in the day, they would “sell out” of the $20 packets and only had the $40/$60 available. I just can’t see putting $40/$60 on the line in hopes of $125 with a few hundred cards in play!
  2. Just back from our 8th cruise with Carnival. Didn't take my computer with us this time because I was determined I wasn't going to fight with the wifi to do any work so I'll put a review and synopsis together over multiple posts. All in all we had a good time and will certainly be cruising again. Had a few things that I'll mention that we'd change or avoid given the opportunity to do it again. We had a cove mid-ship, late dinning, and did the steak house. Our group was 12 total and always had something to do! We live in Central Florida so we didn't have to deal with flights or transfers. Other than Port Canaveral, we always go down the evening before and this time was no different. Since it was Super Bowl weekend, rooms were scarce when we started looking about 7-8 months out! We couldn't figure out what the issue was and finally did a search for Miami and the dates and it became obvious. We were going out of Ft Lauderdale but best room that wasn't crazy expensive was an hour north near West Palm. It was a Best Western that was fine for the price. We had hoped to sit by the pool and order in a pizza. It rained all night and the only chairs for our group of 10 that drove down was in the lobby so we ate fairly quick and then headed to rooms. With no place for the group to gather, we ate breakfast and headed to the port. We had planned to get there early anyway since we'd rather wait in port than staring at a hotel wall and we were glad that we did. Getting to the port was easy, and luggage drop off went great. Since we had 10 people and 2 cars the plan was to drop luggage and 8 people at the curb, park, and then meet up for check in. Luggage drop went fine, but we didn't realize that the parking garage that we dropped luggage right next to the ship wasn't the garage we would park in. That garage is still under construction so we ended up headed out of that garage and then around to the other side to park in the existing garage. It was pretty busy and the signage was limited at best. Took a wrong turn but finally found a place. Then the signage got worse on the way back to the check in terminal but we eventually met up with the others. To get from the garage you walk through scaffolding and gates and come in from the backside of the terminal and then we had to walk against the line of people trying to get on the ship to get to the end of the line. Check in went super easy. We used passports and boarding passes and breezed right through. We didn't pack and soda because we had Cheers and Bubbles. 2 in our group that flew in brought some soda in cans and they never even opened his backpack to check what it was. In other ports we've been required to each carry one bottle of wine through so they could match the person with the bottle. This time we just sent the two bottles through and the adults weren't together. All in all they didn't seem nearly as picky as some of the other terminals we've used so the line kept moving and we were done in no time. Our boarding check in time was I believe 12:30-1. We met up after parking at just after 10:30 and were on the Lido with a drink at 11:03. As we walked though the end of security they did an all call for all zones. Had we been about 2 minutes earlier we could have beat the 'rush' since our boarding number was part of the group already called and we ended up behind the terminal of people that were after our zone. BUT, to be on Lido at 11:00 and had already dropped bags off in a cabin that was platinum was great. The whole process (other than parking and meeting back up with our group) was great and very efficient. We used our paper boarding passes for drinks and headed to Cucina for a sit down lunch. They didn't open until noon so we found a spot to sit and waited knowing that we didn't have anywhere to be for the next 8 days. It was nice to have a sit down, get waiting on, lunch for a group of our size. As we were being seated the other 2 that flew in met up with us and we were all 12 able to sit at the same table. Doing that in lido at noon would have been a challenge. We walked back down through there after lunch and it was of course packed. I don't know how we would have found a place with a couple of tables near each other. The food in Cucina was decent. We never ended up back there again for lunch or dinner. The ability to sit, out of the way of the crowd, and actually talk to everyone was nice so we'd do that again probably. There are always plenty of food options and we ended up filling up on pizza before we sailed away. Our bags were delivered before muster and we had everything unpacked well before we had to report for the drill. This was the first time that we had to actually check in with our keys for attendance and maybe that helped to speed up the process. It went quickly and easily and was over before we knew it. We are so thankful they changed long ago from going down to get your vests, meet in the meeting point, put the vests on, then go outside on deck! I'll put together some more thoughts through the next couple of days. We have some of the FunTimes but they are available online too. We didn't get them delivered to the cabin every day and just used our phone most of the time anyway. I'll share our excursions that we booked direct in St Maarten, St Kitts and Grand Turk. We also did the steakhouse and might have a few pictures from there. Did most of the shows and I'll put some thoughts together about entertainment, service, and everything overall!
  3. Not sure how you are getting to the port or how many you are traveling with. Is it possible that someone in your party could go park the car with your son as you get an opportunity to go in and scope it out? It has been a few years since we’ve been to Miami, and I wasn’t specifically looking, but don’t recall seeing anything outside the terminal. After security which was right inside the door it seems like there were a handful of people that were providing other directions. Again, wasn’t looking and didn’t need those services ourselves.
  4. We are normally mid ship and really enjoy them. Being so close to the water is hard to explain unless you’ve experienced it. Life boats above you, ocean view below you makes it more secluded. Noise has never been an issue for us. Headed back to I think the fourth cove this Saturday on the Magic!
  5. TOTALLY opened this thread for just that reason. I thought that was some new level of extreme in order to maximize the package value 🤣🤣
  6. Has anyone had any experience with the Lip Sync Challenge? I know it starts with a few preliminary rounds and culminates with a final show towards the end of the week. Does anyone know what might be on the song list for the preliminary rounds early in the week?
  7. Last time through Canaveral it was just a bunch of lines and trying to process everyone as quickly as possible. Looked a lot like the grocery store the day before Thanksgiving. If I'm reading this right, and you are in charge of the minor children, they'd be right there with you.
  8. So with Cheers!, how is the service speed on say the Lido deck? We’ve got a group going and will probably find a spot to camp out during the day. I’ve seen some general reviews that say service overall has slowed, too thin, etc. Is service with Cheers fairly good, or do they avoid you? Wondering if the 18% is added to each drink they bring, or are we a flat rate x amount on the package? I know we can add extra if we want and will if we are at piano bar or some place we get to know the server. Could be 5-7 loungers lined up looking for a margarita refill, will they walk the other way?? 🤣🤣
  9. Working on our packing list. It's been a few years since we cruised. Last time we brought a few little battery powered candles for night lights. Was that because the switch in the bathroom controls the outlet? Why wouldn't we have just used a traditional nightlight? These were nice because it was just enough light to prevent you from stubbing your toe!
  10. Why use Cruise Cash as opposed to the various ways of getting gift cards at a 10% savings? Yes, they have to be applied when you get on, but you don't have to do it the very first day. There is plenty of opportunities on any given day with 1-2 people in line at guest services, or you can use the kiosk. It doesn't really take too much of your vacation time, and it saves you 10% so that seems like a pretty worthwhile trade off. We used the gc for the entire fare, Cheers, Bubbles and gratuities. Have a little left over that we will apply at some point during the week to our folio to offset any charges that we might have for a few pictures.
  11. Does anyone recall the logistics for the obligatory boarding photo in FLL? We have a group and some have priority boarding. Is the photo once they call your zone to board, or is it some time before you get in to the waiting area? If we arrive at the port together can we all get the photo together, or would it require the priority person to hang back and board with us common folk?
  12. In the past - and of course everything is different on every ship and every sailing - in the MDR when our kids ordered a soda they brought the entire can and it was on the table before we got there. I would guess that the bar server in the MDR could easily provide another towards the end of your meal that you could then take with you. I wouldn’t be surprised if on the second day you had two sitting at your table when you arrive!
  13. Soft drinks are $2.50. Three sodas and the Bubbles package is worthwhile. Not ‘cost’ related is the intrinsic value that our kids found in being able to just order a drink when they wanted one. Last cruise we had 4 kids in our group that found two servers in the Atrium that were always excited to see them coming. They’d spot them in the elevator and start pouring for them. We later found out she had young kids at home that she was of course missing. It became a regular stop on our way to the show at night. Another upside is that if you have a set dinning time it’s not uncommon to have the soda sitting there or on its way as service starts. It gives the kids a little sense of ‘freedom’ at a set price. They pour the can into a glass so it isn’t a full can each serving. Our kids don’t drink all that much soda at home, but it’s a vacation so things are of course different on the ship!
  14. We love our BruMate insulated koozies. If you have one I’m sure you know why! Anyone have any experience with BruMates and compatible items? We have both the slim can (Ultra, White Claw) and bottle. Of course they don’t have glass bottles, but has anyone found something aluminum that works and fits well? These are standard run of the mill koozies of foam or neoprene, they are insulated metal like a Yeti so they can stretch to fit just any ol’ can/bottle. Believe it or not, a bottle isn’t a standard size and a bottle of Miller is actually a different diameter size than a Yuengling!
  15. On a very popular e-commerce site they’ve got the same (or extremely similar) items in a 5 pack for $10 (or 11 depending on size) with Prime shipping. Reports are they are $4 on the ship but of course branded. We ordered a set because we have a group. They fold a collapse fine but still stand up just fine when using. There isn’t any taste to them like a garden hose or anything.
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