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Saint Greg

Carnival Magic - LIVE - Dec 1-6 - FLL - Nassau, Grand Turk, Amber Cove

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 Before I started planning this cruise, that was all I knew about Fort Lauderdale. I didn't even realize how close it was to Miami until I did my hotel search. I was like "This thing gave me results for Miami instead...oh Miami is right there by Fort Lauderdale." 

 

I'm starting this a week early. I'm flying to Fort Lauderdale a week from today. This is for the new people to catch up. These are newest to oldest:

 

 

 

 

 

 

https://saintgregtravel.com/breezy-like-sunday-morning/

 

https://saintgregtravel.com/seven-days-of-freedom/

 

https://saintgregtravel.com/i-will-triumph/

 

https://saintgregtravel.com/leaving-the-elation/

 

https://saintgregtravel.com/r1-my-intro-to-cruising/

 

 

 

 

 


 

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I booked this cruise after the NFL schedule was released. The football gods left me two potential windows to cruise: September 23rd-October 5th and November 29th-December 7th. I definitely have developed a preference for Dream and Vista class ships so I searched for cruises during those two time frames on Dream, Breeze, Magic, Vista, and Horizon. I searched for 6-9 day cruises which eliminated the Dream. I was also looking for ports I haven’t been to yet which eliminated Vista and Horizon.

 

That left me with a 7-day Breeze cruise from Orlando that went to San Juan, St. Thomas, Amber Cove, and Grand Turk or a 6-day Magic cruise that went from Fort Lauderdale to Half Moon Cay, Amber Cove, and Grand Turk in the first time frame and a 6-day Magic from Fort Lauderdale to Nassau, Amber Cove and Grand Turk in the second time frame.

 

The Breeze cruise would be my first choice but it was just a month after my Glory cruise and it left me the least amount of time after the cruise. I would have to be the guy standing by the door with my luggage when the ship docks waiting to get off. I don’t want to be that guy.

Out of the two Magic cruises I would prefer the one that went to Half Moon Cay since I haven’t been there yet, but the Nassau cruise time frame works better for my schedule and it’s a December cruise which means the ship will have the Christmas decorations and activities. I decided to book the Nassau cruise. I’ll visit Half Moon Cay next year.

 

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OBC

 

I normally book cruises myself when Carnival is offering $50 onboard credit. There have been a couple of instances where I was ready to book and didn’t want to wait for an OBC sale. One was my Dream cruise last December and the other is this one.

 

In those cases I’ve dabbled in booking with a travel agency to get some OBC. I found [redacted] on [redacted] last year. They offered me $75 OBC on my Dream cruise when everyone else was at $25-50.

 

Again this time they offered me $75 when everyone else was at $50 or less. After I booked with them I caught a Carnival OBC sale at the same room price but with $50 OBC. I emailed the agency and they got me that $50 OBC on top of my $75. I caught a price drop in August and was able to get another $80 OBC. Add on another $50 for being a CCL shareholder on a 6-day cruise.

 

When you add it all up I have $255 OBC to play with on this cruise. I’ll let that cover my gratuities and some specialty restaurant visits. I don’t think I’m going to book any Carnival excursions on this trip.

 

 

Flight

 

I have to book a flight. I haven’t flown in years. I probably haven’t booked a flight in 10 years. I started looking at prices after I booked which was about seven months out.

 

I used various applications on my phone to monitor prices. I set up price alerts with them. The apps I used were hopper, sky scanner, and cheap o air.

 

Hopper was the most active with price alerts. It would project out when prices are going to go up and down. The problem was it would go by the cheapest flight which would be one arriving after midnight on embarkation morning and leaving at 6 or 7 in the morning on debarkation day–not ideal flights. I couldn’t 100% go with what it said. But it did save my searches so all I would have to do is go in and with one touch have it search for my dates.

 

Sky Scanner was necessary because it had airlines that weren’t in hopper and vice versa. Delta is the main one I noticed was in Sky Scanner but not hopper.

 

Cheap O Air is one I didn’t find until a couple weeks before I booked so I didn’t use it as much. They had a flight for $175 that they listed as sold out by the time I could complete the booking process. A couple weeks later I found a $195 flight which I was able to book.

 

I prepaid $32 for my checked suitcase and $10 for the ability to pick my seat location. For another $15 I could’ve had a seat at the front of the section with additional leg room. I just wanted to make sure I could get an aisle seat so I wouldn’t be sandwiched between a couple of people.

 

Hotel

 

Here is a blog entry I did during my hotel search: Fort Lauderdale hotels with shuttle service.

 

I booked the Cambria on Hotwire. for $123. I selected this one for location and transportation. They are close to the airport, offer a free shuttle from the airport, and have a shuttle to the cruise port for $10.

 

Transportation

 

I’m parking my car at a lot that provides transportation to the airport. When I arrive in Fort Lauderdale I just have to call the hotel and they will come pick me up. The front desk will sign me up for a shuttle that will take me to the cruise port the next morning.

 

Insurance

 

This is my first time purchasing cruise insurance. All of my previous cruises have been pretty low risk going by myself and just driving a few hours to the port. This time since I have flights and a potentially dangerous excursion involved, I decided to purchase insurance.

I compared plans on the insurmytrip.com website and went with the Nationwide Cruise Choice plan. I liked the fact that it had cruise specific items such as missed ports, excursions, etc. The plans started at $65. The one I purchased was $90. For an extra $45 I could have purchased a “cancel for any reason” add on.

 

Excursions

 

Nassau

As you may remember from my first Dream review, I had a pretty good self guided city tour last time hitting the forts, the queen’s staircase, the judiciary, the legislature, the distillery, and Junkanoo beach.

 

The one place I didn’t make it last time was Paradise Island. I think it would be cool to do the water park and get video going down all of the slides. But I’m not paying $175 for that. This isn’t Disney World we’re talking about. I understand that it’s seasonal and it may cost less in the summer when more people are there. But 1-7-5 ain’t happening–Not unless they move that decimal to the left.

 

You can book the Discover Atlantis through the ship for $75 or on TripAdvisor for $44. I was going to book this on TripAdvisor but after reading reviews there seems to be no advantage to booking ahead of time. The people who booked online still had to wait in line to get a wristband. It sounds like Dunn’s River Falls. My plan is just to show up there and get in line. That way if I change my mind and decide to do something else I can.

 

One thing I would like to add. I checked into the swimming pig excursion because it seemed unique. The reviews I read were not good. They said they don’t have cute pink little pigs like in the pictures. They’re have a few big ugly hogs. And they have to be lured into the water with food. Apparently these big hogs like to use the water as a toilet.

 

One reviewer said they felt trapped there. Boats were bringing more people and they weren’t allowed to take a boat back until their time was up. If this is an excursion you were looking at, I would recommend checking the reviews prior to booking.

 

Grand Turk

 

Grand Turk seems like a great beach stop because you can practically roll off of the ship and onto the free beach. I’m not really a beach person so…options seem to be limited.

 

I’ve read the thing to do is rent a golf cart for the day and explore the island that way. I’m not really interested in paying $100 for a golf cart unless 18 holes of golf are included in that price…Actually even then I’m not interested.

 

You can rent a car for $50 or a scooter for $60. I explored all transportation options. But then I thought about it. I don’t really know where I’m going. I don’t really know what the parking situation is going to be like. I guess you can park a scooter anywhere. But I think they drive on the left side of the road there and I don’t really want to end up as a hood ornament on one of those big tour buses.

 

I decided to play it safe and be on one of those tour buses. Most of those tours are in the $30-60 range. I found a fairly new one that doesn’t have a lot of reviews yet, but it doesn’t have a single negative review yet either. So I booked this Hop on Hop off bus for only $20 which is available on Viator or TripAdvisor. The reviews I’ve read suggest it isn’t a true Hop on Hop off bus. It’s closer to a normal tour than that. All I’m looking for is affordable transportation to see some of the sites. This one should work for me. They also have a good variety of start times. 8:30, 10:30, 12:30, and 2:30.

 

I picked the 12:30 slot so I can have a leisurely morning and potentially explore the port area before getting on the bus.

 

Amber Cove

 

Damajagua Waterfalls is something I’ve wanted to do for awhile. There are options where you can do 7, 12, or all 27 waterfalls. I decided to research all options, but deep down inside…I know I want all 27.

 

The fact that I’m going to be jumping off of waterfalls on this trip is another reason I opted to purchase insurance.

 

This is going to be a long excursion. I always prefer to do long excursions through Carnival if possible. Since Carnival doesn’t offer a tour with all 27 waterfalls, I know I’m going to have to go with an outside company if I want the full experience.

 

If you do want to book through Carnival, there is an opportunity for a price match. I confirmed with someone on my cruise that Carnival is still price matching this excursion with this non-Carnival excursion and receiving 110% of the difference ($33 per person) in OBC.

 

If I didn’t care about doing all 27 waterfalls, I would probably book the Carnival excursion either with a 10% off Carnival gift card or with my Carnival Mastercard which gives me 10% back on Carnival excursions and would bring the price down to $80.99. Then with the price match I would receive $33 in onboard credit.

 

The two outside companies I’ve read about for all 27 waterfalls are Iguana Mama and DSRR. Iguana Mama I can book online for $89.00. DSSR’s website doesn’t quote prices but the reviews I’ve read said they charge $50 per person. I suspected the problem with them would be that I only have one person. I went ahead and emailed them for a quote to see what they would say. I received a response from them asking for my phone number. Two days later I received an iMessage quoting $150. I went ahead and booked Iguana Mama.

 

Specialty Restaurants

 

I have a lot of onboard credit to use on this cruise. I like to use some of that on specialty dining. I made reservations for the Steakhouse the 1st and 4th nights and for Cucina Del Capitano on the 3rd night. That puts me in the main dining room for the two elegant nights and the last night. If my calculations are correct I may end up with $50 in unused OBC. If that happens I may try to add another Steakhouse visit on the last night. I wish they had JiJi’s on this ship. Maybe one day they’ll add it to the Dream Class.

 

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After a long absence from these boards, I am back again.  I will be following.  although I have not been logged in, I have followed your previous reviews and always enjoy them, especially as a solo cruiser/traveller.  You always seem to have so much fun. So will be following your review once again, and may chime in once or twice, for a change.

 

 

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1 minute ago, SMSACE6 said:

After a long absence from these boards, I am back again.  I will be following.  although I have not been logged in, I have followed your previous reviews and always enjoy them, especially as a solo cruiser/traveller.  You always seem to have so much fun. So will be following your review once again, and may chime in once or twice, for a change.

 

 

 

Thanks! Please do. Don't be a stranger.

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1 minute ago, Jamman54 said:

Hey Greg! You know that I'm along for the ride! 😀

 

1 minute ago, Jamman54 said:

Hey Greg! You know that I'm along for the ride! 😀

 

I guess this means you're going to read everything twice. 😁

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1 minute ago, Saint Greg said:

 

 

I guess this means you're going to read everything twice. 😁

 

Forwards and backwards!😁

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I've already messed up. The dates should be December 1-7. I get off the ship on the 7th....6 day cruise. Did I mention I'll be at 74 days on this cruise? One stinkin day.

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Excited since we'll be doing this boat in the spring.  We're looking at going through DSRR for the waterfalls, from my research it sounds like all tours just essentially get you to the national park and then the tours are done by the park, not your tour guide.  I agree that the website for DSRR leaves a lot to be desired.

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29 minutes ago, detroitavant said:

Excited since we'll be doing this boat in the spring.  We're looking at going through DSRR for the waterfalls, from my research it sounds like all tours just essentially get you to the national park and then the tours are done by the park, not your tour guide.  I agree that the website for DSRR leaves a lot to be desired.

 

Same here. If you have a good group it'll probably be a good way to go. For just me they were going to charge for three people.

 

 

Edited by Saint Greg

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When I woke up this morning, I predicted that your review would start today... I'll be flying down to Florida on Saturday also to sail the new NCL Encore... Have an awesome cruise!...

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Your reviews are always good, looking forward to this one too!  Your video walking through the mall to the port in NOLA was very helpful to me last year 😊  🐳🏝️🛳️☀️

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6 minutes ago, sid_9169 said:

When I woke up this morning, I predicted that your review would start today... I'll be flying down to Florida on Saturday also to sail the new NCL Encore... Have an awesome cruise!...

 

It's always good to be the first thing people think about when they wake up in the morning.

 

I've been seeing a bunch of the Encore stuff on twitter. They have a go cart track on the roof!  I wonder which is worse...a basketball court above you....or a race track.

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34 minutes ago, sid_9169 said:

When I woke up this morning, I predicted that your review would start today... I'll be flying down to Florida on Saturday also to sail the new NCL Encore... Have an awesome cruise!...

 

Speaking of that go cart track. I'm interested in those helmets....I'm assuming people aren't bringing their own helmets on the ship. Is there anything to shield you from....where everyone else has been? Are they spraying them like bowling shoes? Are you wearing like a cloth head cover that they wash? Or do you just get...whatever comes with the helmet?

 

 

 

Edited by Saint Greg

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5 minutes ago, detroitavant said:

At the local kart tracks around here you get a fine mesh hair net to wear under the helmet.

 

Nets have holes in them. I saw a picture of a guy and it looked like his mouth was awfully close to where other mouths have been. I'm glad I thought of this. I remember the pictures I've seen of people doing the water falls have them wearing helmets. I have another purchase to make.

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58 minutes ago, Saint Greg said:

 

Speaking of that go cart track. I'm interested in those helmets....I'm assuming people aren't bringing their own helmets on the ship. Is there anything to shield you from....where everyone else has been? Are they spraying them like bowling shoes? Are you wearing like a cloth head cover that they wash? Or do you just get...whatever comes with the helmet?

 

 

 

I think they have cloth hats that go on under the helmet... I'm not going to be doing that anyway... Too busy eating and drinking...

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38 minutes ago, Saint Greg said:

 

Nets have holes in them. I saw a picture of a guy and it looked like his mouth was awfully close to where other mouths have been. I'm glad I thought of this. I remember the pictures I've seen of people doing the water falls have them wearing helmets. I have another purchase to make.

It's hard to explain, they remind me of the ones you wear at the hospital but they aren't as thick.

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Yay!  So glad to have you back for a new review, Greg.  We will be boarding the Vista in Galveston for the first time on 12/7.  You sold me on her (even if you didn't get a chance to review Bonsai Sushi 🙂)  Have a great cruise, and I'll be happily following along!

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3 minutes ago, Amadawn1 said:

Yay!  So glad to have you back for a new review, Greg.  We will be boarding the Vista in Galveston for the first time on 12/7.  You sold me on her (even if you didn't get a chance to review Bonsai Sushi 🙂)  Have a great cruise, and I'll be happily following along!

 

I'm really not a Sushi eater. 

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5 minutes ago, Saint Greg said:

 

I'm really not a Sushi eater. 

I kind of figured 😄 By the way, if you do like Conch fritters, there's a great little place in the port area in Grand Turk called the Beached Whale. The fritters were awesome, and it's a great respite from the Margaritaville zoo.  Just walk to opposite direction from Margaritaville at the end of the pier.

 

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