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Oct 17-19, 2003
Arrived in downtown Norfolk about 12:20pm, parked in the Town Point garage, and walked across the street to the cruise terminal/pier at Nauticus. There was no line and we were through check-in, security and photos, and onboard by 1pm. We had decided to save money this year and just get and inside guarantee. We were assigned cabin 6289 on the Upper deck. A large room, with beds made up as a king.
We sent directly to the Atlantic dining room, to which we had been assigned for late seating at 8:30pm, only to find that we were seated at a table for eight and had requested a table for two. Marko, the Matre d? was very accommodating and set us up with a nice table on the upper level.
We enjoyed embarkation lunch in the Mediterranean restaurant on Lido deck, where the Chinese wok, deli, buffet lines, Mississippi BBQ, and Pizza kitchen were all open. Lifeboat drill was about 25 minutes later than scheduled, so we sailed about 4:45pm. It was a sunny day, in the low 70?s, the outstanding pool band Ecstasy was playing, and Karen even sunned in her bathing suit. With sunset about 6:20, we were still in the Hampton Roads channel at sunset.
We found our favorite wine and martini bar at the Caspian Bar and enjoyed pre-dinner cocktails.
At dinner hour we reported to the dining room only to see from the entrance that someone was seated at our table. I asked to headwaiter to check, and she moved the couple. She said to wait a few minutes until the table was ready. No one came to advise us, and finally at 8:45 we just walked to the table and sat down. The wait staff did an outstanding job of accommodating us at that time and by the time of the main course we were right on line with everyone else.
I brought my own wine to the dining room each night, prepared to pay the $10 corkage fee. We were not charged either night. The waitress, however, knew little about wine other than how to uncork it??not offering me a taste and immediately filling my wife?s glass to the brim. The second night I asked her to just let it breath after opening and I?d pour. We had no trouble with it during boarding. They x-rayed the boxes and asked if it was wine. I said yes and they sent me on my way with two bottles of champagne and two of dinner wine. I had carried a copy of the policy from the Carnival website FAQ?s that allow it.
The menu the first night was not memorable, but good. I had gazpacho, and rack of lamb and Karen had catch of the day: tilappia. Dinner the second night was outstanding. I enjoyed smoked salmon, strawberry bisque, Caesar salad, three lobster tails, and cherries jubilee, followed by birthday cake.
Both nights the dining room staff paraded and danced during dessert. They actually appeared to be having fun and enjoying it.
The shows both nights were outstanding, possibly some of the best we have seen aboard Carnival. The lead songstress, Diana LaSalla, has an awesome voice and vocal range, and Kevin Jayroe, the lead singer, was very good. The dancers dressed both nights like a Vegas review and were excellent. They were so good that neither of us fell asleep either night!
The weather on day two was as bad as last year, raining till late afternoon, and eliminating the normal pool activities and making the food lines very long and slow. They moved some activities inside, and the Siren?s Pool on Lido deck, with the retractable cover, was busy. A blackjack tournament made the casino the most crowded I?d ever seen on cruises. They did have nickel slots and me made our customary donation. Photo portraits were available both nights. Camp Carnival was in full swing, including a coketail party and formal dinner for them.
There were far fewer men in formal dress than on any other cruise we have been on, including this same cruise last year. Women were mostly formally attired. At the captain?s welcome aboard party, in the Adriatic Lounge, there were plenty of free drinks and appetizers even after the Captain and other officers were introduced and left, an uncommon situation.
There were a nice variety of music/dancing venues both evenings, from 70?s to jazz, classical, rock, etc. A Filipino band, The Bestsellers, was awesome. Because of the rainy day on Saturday we did attend a matinee comedy show with two comedians. TV is VERY limited. No CNN and intermittent movies. They did have Saturday college football in the sports bar by the casino.
The ship returned about 7am Sunday morning but we were able to stay aboard with luggage in our room until 9:20. We enjoyed breakfast in the Pacific dining room, the larger of the two dining rooms. I thanked the matre d? for his attention to our table problems. Leaving was easy, and we walked across the street to the parking garage, deposited our luggage and returned to the park adjacent to the terminal to watch the ship sail and then attended the Town Point Wine Festival to make a who weekend of it. We had a nice weekend holiday. But two years in a row of lousy Saturday weather stealing our sun time, darn.