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jjsparkles

Newbies return from the Conquest

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:D:D

I've been browsing these boards for weeks in the run up to our first cruise, so I thought I'd have a go at a review/trip report.

How this trip came about:

We’ve never cruised or considered cruising until our son was successful in an audition to work with Carnival. He hadn’t heard anything about the job for months and then out of the blue got an email in March and to be in Fort Lauderdale 2 weeks later. His contract runs until mid September and we knew we couldn’t last 6 months without seeing him.

So after we said our tearful goodbyes I started checking out flights/hotels and luckily managed to change our holiday we’d already paid for Spain, and transferred the funds for the cruise. Flights were then booked and suddenly we had a cruise countdown.

 

Being from the UK I would never have considered flying to Miami for a 4 night cruise,but the short notice/work commitments and timescales involved meant that that’s what we would do! We had 2 days in Fort Lauderdale before the cruise and booked to fly back the day the cruise finished.

 

I’m Julie, my husband is John, daughter Abbey and youngest son Lewis. I hope this report turns out ok and that you seasoned cruisers won’t be too bored....

 

Tuesday 19 June 2018

We were up early and drove the short distance to Glasgow Airport and parked our car. Flight left Glasgow for London Heathrow at 09:15 on time and soon we were in London transferring from terminal 5 to terminal 3 for our American Airlines flight to Miami. We booked everything through British Airways so our luggage was dropped at Glasgow and we wouldn’t see it again until we reached Miami which was so helpful. The flight was ok – a nice enough plane and plenty to watch on the tv’s. The food was just ok – only eating through boredom really. I couldn’t get comfortable enough to sleep so was really tired when we finally arrived at Miami after a 9.5 hour flight.

 

I’d read horror stories of Miami Airport and had been apprehensive so I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to navigate and get through passport control. Once we collected our luggage we were met by Chris from Larry’s Limos.He was very helpful and took our luggage to a brand spanking new black limo. My son’s eyes nearly popped out of his head, lol.

Soon we were on our way to our hotel in Fort Lauderdale and really enjoyed our luxury transfer to the Gallery One hotel.

 

We got chatting to Chris about our plans and he suggested that we change our collection time on our last day from 1pm to 3:30pm and promised he’d definitely get us to the airport on time for our 6pm flight. So I emailed Larry’s Limos and requested the change and that Chris be our driver.

 

We checked into the hotel easily and were delighted to hear that we’d been upgraded to a 2 bedroom suite. We’d booked a 1 bed suite for approx. £115 per night. The suite was just what we needed, spacious, balcony and lovely air con.

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After dropping our bags we ventured out and strolled the short 10 minutes to the beach. It was so hot though so we didn't make it onto the beach.

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We had a bit of a wander then made our way back to the hotel for food. We ate in the Vue restaurant. Our server Norkis was lovely. The hotel had given us some coupons for complimentary drinks so we used these tonight.The boys absolutely loved their burgers and said they were delicious. Good value too for $14 I thought. The fries were delicious. Tiredness had set in with mea nd I realised it was about 2am our time and suddenly had absolutely no appetite. Soon we had settled down in the room, the beds were so comfortable. We had no real plans for tomorrow except to relax and explore a bit of Fort Lauderdale. Lights out by 10pm and we were soon sleeping.

 

Wednesday 20 June 2018

I woke before everyone else, which I usually do, and sat on the balcony with some water and read my kindle for a bit.

The view from our balcony

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Slowly everyone else woke up and we decided to head out and find some breakfast and do some shopping. Abbey was desperate to get to Sephora for some makeup that she can’t get at home. The Galleria Mall is literally next door to the hotel.

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We found some breakfast before wandering around the shops. Abbey loved Sephora and got some makeup whilst John got a new cap and Lewis some sunglasses. Nothing much else we wanted to do here so headed back to the hotel and purchased tickets from the concierge for the Water Taxi which luckily has a stop at the hotel. It should have been $28 each for the day but we were only charged $18 each for some reason – I wasn’t going to argue!

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We had about 10 minutes before the taxi was due and we sat outside to wait.

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Some locals came to visit us...

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We loved the Water Taxi, such a lovely way to see some of Fort Lauderdale.

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We went to stop 6 first, the beach, and found something to eat for lunch in Fat Tuesdays. Not the nicest of places but the food was actually really nice and we were so hot we’d happily have eaten anywhere. Then we took a stroll on the beach.

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Feeling tired we headed back to the Water Taxi stop. I’d downloaded the Water Taxi app which gives timescales of the next boat pick up which was really helpful. We had about 10 minutes to wait and it was so hot we stood under some trees to get some shade.

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Soon we were back at the hotel and got into our swimsuits and enjoyed a couple of hours at the pool. It was lovely and quiet with a nice breeze, just what we needed.

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After changing we caught the Water Taxi again, this time to stop 2, Las Olas Boulevard. We had the double decker taxi this time and the breeze was lovely on the water.

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We strolled the length of Las Olas Boulevard and considered getting something to eat but no-one was hungry yet. So we popped into Starbucks for some refreshing drinks. I checked the app and we made our way back to the stop for the Taxi back to the hotel. This leg took about an hour, which was fine as it let us work up an appetite.

Some Tiki cruisers....

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I was surprised by how early it got dark. Everything looked lovely lit up. The commentary from the staff on the Water Taxi was really good. Lots of info about the mansions and yachts along the water way.

 

Back to the hotel, we strolled to the Publix store which was conveniently across the road from us and picked some bread/butter/milk for breakfast next morning. I thought this was a bit expensive but was fine for the few things we needed. The chocolate chip cookies weren’t really essentials but they were delicious!

We ate in Vue again in the hotel, with the same waitress and enjoyed our meal. Fort Lauderdale was really beautiful and we had such a relaxing day. We were all looking forward to seeing Mark in the morning. Off to bed around 11pm and again sleep wasn't long in finding us.

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Thanks for posting a review and the pics! You have a lovely family. I have subscribed to this thread and can't wait to read more about your adventure and see more pics. Welcome to the world of cruising. Once you take one you are hooked for life. Just think if you lived in Florida how many you would be taking LOL.

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Awesome start, please continue :)

 

Thank you :)

 

Thanks for posting a review and the pics! You have a lovely family. I have subscribed to this thread and can't wait to read more about your adventure and see more pics. Welcome to the world of cruising. Once you take one you are hooked for life. Just think if you lived in Florida how many you would be taking LOL.

 

Thank you.If we lived in Florida we'd be there all the time!;p

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Thursday 21 June

 

I was up bright and early as usual and enjoyed some peace on the balcony before making breakfast for everyone as they slowly all appeared.

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We had a slot to check in to the ship between 11:30 and 12:00 so we had a lazy morning. I sent this to Mark...

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Soon it was time to check out. I'd emailed the hotel before our trip to ask if it would be possible to store our luggage here on the day we leave our cruise. Ryan, the hotel manager had said it would be fine and as we were checking out, it was Ryan who was dealing with us. He remembered my email and again confirmed that it was absolutely fine for us to come back to the hotel after the cruise, store our bags and use the pool if we wanted to. This was music to my ears as our flight wasn't until 6pm.

I’d asked the concierge to arrange a taxi for us and it was waiting at 11am. It cost just over $20. I now know that Uber would have been cheaper but I don’t use this at home and didn’t have the app. Honestly I couldn’t have cared less, I was off to see my boy!

The journey took about 15 minutes and soon we were at the port and joining the queue to get into the terminal. The queues all moved fairly quickly, I set up our cash account and we were on board.

Once inside the lobby we immediately saw the stage that Mark and his fellow band mates play on each night. I messaged Mark to say we were here and he appeared within a few minutes. It was so lovely to see him. He looked fantastic.

Tears and cuddles over, Mark wanted to show us around. First he took our carry on bags and stored them in his room, which was really handy for us. Then we did a whistlestop tour of the ship. My head was spinning by the time we were finished. He never uses the lifts so the stairs were our new best friends, lol.

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It was lovely to be all together again.

We wanted to try and change our dining time but were too early for the restaurant opening so headed to the Lido deck for something to eat. I’m sure I’d read in someone’s review that it’s best to sit upstairs and it was so true. There was hardly anyone upstairs but it was so busy downstairs. We enjoyed some time catching up with Mark, hearing all his news and enjoyed some food from the buffet followed by ice cream.

 

We made our way to the restaurant to ask to change our dining time. We’d been assigned late dining, which would mean we’d miss lots of Mark’s sets. I asked for Your Time dining and luckily we were able to change, which would also mean that Mark could eat with us. If we hadn’t been able to change I suppose we’d have eaten at the buffet each night which would have been fine.

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It was time now to see our room and as we did this Mark went back to his room to fetch our bags. I was pleasantly surprised at the size and feeling of space.

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The water I'd ordered via Fun Shops had been delivered. I also noticed some larger bottles and then made sure everyone knew not to use them as they had a price tag on them, lol.

 

We had room 1060 on the Panorama deck with a balcony. I loved the location here. So close to the Lido deck and the lifts that would take us down to deck 3 which is where Mark played each night.

Mark returned with our bags but wasn’t yet able to come into our room just yet as he hadn’t had security clearance. Mark had to go and get ready for the Muster drill so we agreed to meet up at the restaurant at 5:30pm.

 

We were in section D for the drill. We all know that it’s important this is done,no complaints about that, but why do people just not listen to instructions? The crew must have told the same family about 10 times that they were at the wrong section and pointed them down the deck a bit but they didn’t budge. Others wouldn’t stand in a straight line with their family, choosing instead to put their children in front of them. This then meant that they took a few steps back into the people behind them. Honestly, if it wasn’t for people then everything would go ok, lol.

 

I can't remember if the drill was after the boat set sail or before....but I know we went up to Lido to see it setting off and then returned to our room to see it from the balcony instead. It was so busy up there.

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The view going out of Fort Lauderdale was beautiful.

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Our bunks had been made up and luggage delivered whilst we'd been at the drill and I spent some time unpacking our cases. I was pleased with the space and how everything fit in well to the wardrobes.

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Freshened up we then headed off to meet Mark at the restaurant for dinner. Our waiters were really lovely and we enjoyed our meal.

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We popped back up to the room and this wee guy was waiting for us

 

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I called the Steakhouse to try and get a reservation for tomorrow night, but they were full at the time we needed so I just left it. I'd speak to Mark later to find out when would be best for him.

We headed to the lobby and got some seats to settle down to watch the band, The Conquistadors.

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I don’t know why but I don’t have any photos of them actually playing, lol. I think I just took video tonight. They were fantastic and we really enjoyed meeting the other band members. They played a few sets and finished around 23:45.

 

Lewis was desperate to try the pizza but when we got up there the queue was really long and we agreed not to wait tonight as everyone was really tired. Back to the room and we settled down for the night. We’d said we’d fit in with whatever schedule Mark had so he said he’d message us when he was up and about in the morning. Off we went to sleep in what’s got to be one of the most comfortable beds I’ve ever had on a holiday.

More to follow tomorrow.....

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Following.. Its sounds great to have your own personal cruise guide. I am sure you guys will really enjoy your time on the ship.

Happy Sailing!

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Great start! I’m on the ship in August, and am excited to hear about it, BUT, I’m just really happy you were able to spend time with your son (and the entire family)!!

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Forums

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You have a great looking family and I'm loving your review thus far. :)

 

Thank you :D

 

Following.. Its sounds great to have your own personal cruise guide. I am sure you guys will really enjoy your time on the ship.

Happy Sailing!

 

Thanks, yes it was great to have him show us around, but we still got lost :')

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You have a beautiful family & loving your review so far.

 

Thank you :)

 

What a fun review this is and with a special insider's guide to show you the ropes and a right braw family.

 

Thank you :)

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Great start! I’m on the ship in August, and am excited to hear about it, BUT, I’m just really happy you were able to spend time with your son (and the entire family)!!

 

Sent from my iPhone using Forums

 

Thank you - hope you have a lovely cruise :)

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Before I get on to the next day, I forgot to mention some things from yesterday:

At some point we met our lovely room steward, Gusti. He asked us if there was anything special we wanted to have and when we couldn't think of anything he suggested ice. Yes, ice! How could we have forgotten about that! When we returned to the room later that night we had a lovely ice bucket full to the brim. We'd also brought some cans of coke with us and they chilled nicely in the fridge along with our water.

Abbey had turned 21 at the beginning of May and Mark had given her a lovely Pandora charm for her new bracelet at dinner last night. She loved it.

 

I'd downloaded the Carnival Hub and loved being able to check what was going on. I didn't bother with the internet packages but Abbey got the social media package which we used to keep in touch with Mark via Whats App.

 

We'd also met Mark's friend Macie who works in the Fun Squad on the ship - she was lovely.

So, onto the next day

Friday 22 June 2018

I was up early and enjoyed the view from the balcony. It was already hot and felt odd to see just sea, lol. No idea where I was, ha ha.

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Once everyone was up and organised we headed to the restaurant for the sea day brunch. We got a bit lost. Mark had warned us that not all lifts got you to the area of the floor you might want and that if we got stuck just go either on Lido or deck 5 and walk through the Casino. We ended up seeing lots of the Casino as it became our go to corridor, lol.

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After a bit of a look we finally found our restaurant. I think it was the Monet (I constantly got the restaurant names mixed up and they eventually became know as breakfast and dinner restaurants..) Breakfast was delicious although we got a bit mixed up with the menu and ended up with omelette and a huge plate of pancakes each, lol.

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I though the portions would be smaller taster sizes. It was delicious.

Fully filled up we hadn't heard from Mark yet so took a wander around the ship as we knew he'd probably want a lie in.

 

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I couldn't believe how hot it was. In Fort Lauderdale there had been a breeze but here there was nothing at all. I'd assumed that when the ship was moving we'd feel a breeze. We were so hot with just one lap round the top decks. We had a peek at the basketball courts and intended to go for a game of mini golf but we never got there, deciding instead to head inside. Yes, we are stereotypical Scottish.....we complain because it rains all the time but the second we get a bit of sun we are complete wimps and head indoors :')

 

We wandered the inside of the ship, taking our time to look around

 

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I checked the hub and could see that there was a cookery demonstration in the Steakhouse soon so we headed there. Macie was hosting and we enjoyed the demonstration, not realising that there would be a chance to sample each dish. The tiramisu was gorgeous.

 

Not long after we left here we got a message from Mark to say he was up and would meet us on Lido at the buffet. We weren't very hungry but we enjoyed some of the sweet things whilst Mark tucked into his lunch. For anyone wondering, Mark is allowed to eat in the main areas, but only if it's not busy. If there is a long queue he needs to wait until there are little to no guests waiting.

After this we visited the security office with Mark to sign some forms and get our family crew passes. These would allow us into the crew areas and Mark into our room. Mark took us on a brief tour to see his room and the other crew areas. Then we came back to our room.

It had also been Mark's birthday in early May so we gave him his birthday presents which he loved. He also thought our bed was really comfy.

 

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We headed next to the Degas lounge for the Harry Potter Trivia quiz. We are massive HP fans, or so we thought..... Macie was hosting this too and Mark was not amused when we didn't win or even come close to winning....it was a great laugh though.

When this finished I think we had another wander through the ship and I got a strawberry milkshake from the coffee bar in the casino.

These lamps amused us each time we passed them

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Not sure what we did at this point, but I know we made it back to the Degas lounge for some bingo around 3pm. Macie was hosting again - I'm sure she must have thought we were staking her by now, lol.

 

Tonight was elegant night so I think we had a bit of a nap after bingo and then got ready for dinner. Mark was able to come with us again and we met around 6pm. I also managed to get us Steakhouse reservations for tomorrow night at 5:30pm.

 

For anyone wondering, I saw a huge mix of dress code tonight. Some people really dressed up, some smart and others not bothering at all. So just go with what you're comfortable with.

 

Abbey ordered a cocktail at dinner. It was so strong she asked for a can of Sprite to water it down a bit, lol

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The food was lovely and the waiters put on a wee show with a boogie to Justin Timberlake...

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