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12/18/05


cruisinmama
"Our 1st Family Cruise, I told bits of everything, sorry it gets long..lol."

TRIP INFO

Sail Date:12/18/2005
Destination:
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RATINGS

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COMPLETE REVIEW

We left early Friday as a we had terrible weather for 2 days prior to leaving and were worried they would close the HWY, so we left around 10:30 am on Friday to the City which is a normal 3 ? 3-1/2 hour drive.. took us over 4 ? hours due to the bad roads. we were very glad we left early.

We had a 4 am wake up call and we were at the airport for 4:45am for our 6:00am flights so we were could get to FLL for 1:30pm..so we could enjoy the day.. all was well until we got to Toronto and the USA Customs apparently EVERY Saturday is a nightmare. good to know.. so we missed our flights and our air carrier didn?t really care!! They provided some of people with meals us they didn?t. And got us other flights but we ended up spending 7 hours at the airport waiting for new flights. along with 20 other people.

So we ended up getting into FLL around 9:30 pm?It was quite hot & the humidity was high?soon as we got near the bagge area you could feel the heat..we had pre-arranged pick up with Top Shuttle and called them to tell them of our change of pick up..as we came to luggage we saw our driver waiting for us, we were to stay 1 night at the Holiday Inn, Port of Miami ,we went to the van which was a nice size but found 2 back seat belts didn?t work.. and wow crazy driving..very crazy..Then as he was driving it was like he wasn?t sure where it was and again I repeated what Hotel we needed and he said yeah he knew where it was? he ended dropping us at the wrong Hotel, and we had no idea until we went into the Hotel we were at the wrong one.. we were 2 ? blocks from the right one after 10:00pm we walked to the other Hotel down the street with our entire luggage we were very tired and glad to get to our Hotel.

Our room was ok, for 1 night but I wouldn?t stay for longer ours wasn?t that clean, hair in bathroom and the pull out couch was dirty we did get a higher floor with a view but with it being so dark we weren?t sure what we were looking at.. we were hungry and tired but went to bed.

We were up around 8:00am and opened the curtains to see Bayside and the Port.. as the kids woke up my dh and I said ? I think ours is number #3? and I said ?no I think its #1?..the kids came over to look at what were talking about and then asked what the heck were #3 and #1 ?? .lol.. I said our next destination and 2 of the kids said all I can see are Cruise ships. and we said Yup that?s it!!! They were excited and were a little freaked out.There were staring out the window going that huge Ship, NO WAY!!! Then they asked if were joking ?lol.. nope we said .. My oldest asked can it sink.lol..

We went and had breakfast and then headed over to Bayside to walk around and see the sights a bit few stores were open but most opened after 11:00..kids got a few souvenirs. We just stopped and stared at the Ship from the deck area at Bayside?they couldn?t get that they were going on that Ship.

Since we had to check out by 11:00am we took a cab to the Port just after 11:00am?. we were able to get through all the lines that were there and we were on board just after 12:00 noon

As we boarded they were in awe of the whole ship and kept saying wow...lol.. We walked around the Promenade and headed to Windjammers for lunch. There was quite a few people already on board. We walked the entire ship and headed to our rooms around 1:30pm they just couldn?t believe they were onboard and were so excited they were almost giddy..lol..It was awesome to see.

We had a 9th floor aft our 1st balcony it was small but more than enough for dh & I myself. and the kids had an inside triple almost right across the hall.

We sat on the balcony for a bit and saw some dolphins so dh took a few pics of them.

We meet our room attendant Antonio who was very quiet but did his job pretty well. we did ask that all mini bar items were removed so we could store our own drinks and such but it was never done but that was ok..Just warned the kids not to touch any of it..

We watched the ship leave Port just after 5:00pm..and then got ready for supper as we had main seating, we all got ready on time for supper.

We arrived at the Magellan dinning room on deck 3 and found our table 373, which was right beside the window in a quiet corner very nice spot.

We were at a table for 10 and were the 1st to arrive, our other tablemates arrived shortly after. Parents and 2 boys aged 20 and 18 and young lady around 12?USA and from the DC area.

Our waiter and assistant waiter and were AWESOME, Andrea, Elgin told to call him Engine.lol..they made our dinning experience the best and really the only reason we showed up to meals at our table.The head waiter also was very good, and came by nightly and even helped with parts of meal service can?t remember his name...sorry I could barely understand him most nights, he was wonderful

All I will say is our table mates were not chatty or friendly the Mother made some effort each night but they ignored us mostly through each meal, even when they had the serving staff and fun dancing night and other introductions and we cheered as the Executive Chef was Canadian the father an ex Military man rolled his eyes at our cheers. They made a few snide comments directed at us but not to us, if you know what I mean, we let it go

But after meal 3 with them it was almost a dread to come to dinner if it wasn?t for the staff we would have not bothered but I would have informed the staff , I was pretty well prepared not to come back to eat with them I eat light and wasn?t well the last few days and they made a point of pointing out that meals and lack of eating desserts was a shame. That Staff went to so much trouble and some people didn?t bother to enjoy things was a shame, but we went and enjoyed our dinning experience and ourselves despite them and cheered loudly for any Canadian staff member on dance and fun stuff the Staff did..tee hee

They really came across as they thought we were a bunch of hicks we knew better :o)

They did say they thought people dressed up too much for Cruises again perhaps again directed at us, my children were dressed in proper clothes we felt for each meal maybe dressy to them but we had planned out what we would wear for the trip and were quite ok with it all.

I didn't care if they thought we were too dressy but thought perhaps they brought it up as they were uncomfortable around us..we continued to dress as we had planned too..

The kids got to try many new foods, like Lobster Bisque, Duck, Onion tarts, Oxtail Broth, Lamb Shank, Fisherman?s plate, and oh the desserts they all were in heaven. 2 nights my son ordered 2 desserts and enjoyed them both..lol..

All our meals in the dinning room were incredible I had a few vegetarian meals that I didn?t like but it was a wonderful experience for the kids and us and the great staff.

As I was not well the kids and dh attended the Midnight Buffet and Chocolate & Ice Sculptures and enjoyed it very much. Took lots of pics

The first Sea Day we spent all over the ship. It was warm but the Pool area being so packed we went from place to place, the girls found the arcade and spent a few hours there and my son headed to the basketball area. They did check out the teen area but choose to stick together for the most part. We really spent quite a bit of time together as a family and enjoyed it.

Most activities were busy like the golf and the inline skating It took me 2 days to find the screening room, which they showed Movies at but we never made it to any of them on time..lol.. We hung out mostly at the Promenade for coffee and cookies daily and my dh had a daily beer or two from the Crown and Kettle.

Our formal night was great, we took 4 background shots with us as a family and just the kids and we had a great dinning experience that night.

We took in a few shows and all were wonderful The Ice Skating was fabulous and I would highly recommend and its not to be missed!!

We didn?t end visiting the Casino maybe next time..

Grand Cayman, we had a private tour Land & Sting Ray ?Thanks to CruiseCrazies Janet & MaryLou? all went well with my girls? and we were off the ship b/4 9:00am,we did find our Tour operator, as our Tour wasn?t to start to after 10:00am we were told to come back so we walked around and bought a few small items. It was crazy at the Port with people offering tours. And the heat WOW. it was 95 we were told and it sure felt like it?

We boarded a bus to start our tour and there was us and 1 other couple on our tour so 7 of us, a really nice size. We headed to the boat 1st which I wasn?t sure was going to be ok, as then we would be wet for the rest of the day. but it was the Highlight of our Trip. We boarded a smaller boat just the 7 of our 1 guide and us. He took us out to the sand bar. It was packed as you will see from our pictures, but our guide was GREAT. He helped us hold a Sting Ray and helped us feed them, I will say when we first got in I was a little freaked out as they kind of pushed you over and my youngest was also a little scared but our guide stayed close and even helped my youngest daughter hold a baby sting ray as the larger ones were so heavy for her and she was too scared, mind you mom sting ray was at our feet and wanted her baby back. We spent a good 45- 1-hour there. And headed in..

Once back we ended up joining a group that was just starting the Tour and was going to do their Sting Ray swim last..They were very friendly with us, which was nice. We told them the Sting Rays were awesome and they would enjoy it, they were a family & friends group of 14..so we were very happy to have our small group of 7.

We did the Turtle Farm which was a short Tour and then headed to Hell and a short stop at the Rum factory, I wished we had prepared ourselves as we didn?t have any water or anything else to eat all day and missed seeing a store to buy water at the Turtle Farm we were able to grab a drink at Hell. Which we really needed. We dropped the other group off at the their boat and we headed back to ship as we had a 3:30 last tender to make we got there as we got into a very long traffic jam and it took us over 25 min to get back to the ship.

The next day was Costa Maya, which was raining a bit but with some sun but a bit windy there were 2 other ships in and was very crowded. We did plan on sitting by the Pool at the Port and relax and did not plan any Tours. But with the weather we didn?t end up doing so..We walked around and enjoyed the Mexican dancers and bought a few things, we are not great at bargaining and again didn?t like the vendors pushiness and my oldest daughter got a fright when one man pulled her into his shop and was pushing her to buy things she got scared as we were in another shop. We bought a few things and know we got taken but oh well..lol..I got my plate and a few other things I wanted to get.

We headed back to the ship after a few hours and enjoyed the emptiness of the ship a bit. The girls went skating and my son headed to play basketball and dh and I sat and relaxed. We then went and played shuffle board the girls lost..we tried..

That night was our Skating Show time so we went to that.and that night is when the rock and roll of the ship began. The winds really picked up as we left Costa Maya and I ended up not feeling so well, and kept myself drugged with Dramamine during the day and another med at night to sleep. But that night not sure what happened but around 2 am was really sick to my stomach for a few hours that night but felt ok, the next day but still took some meds. Not sure if I ate something bad as I only had plain rice for supper but had some pasta and a veggie dish at lunch so not sure what it was all about.

Our last Sea Day we shopped and got a some shirts and had to buy an extra bag to take some of stuff home, but with most Ship items half price it was a good time.

It wasn?t that great of weather and many people stayed inside, as it was so windy, we heard they closed down a few places as balls from Sporting events were going over board. And the pool area was also unsafe. I also heard many people were unwell and we hoped it was seasickness and not a virus.

I did find it odd that they hand the hand cleaner as you came into the Windjammer for the first 3 days but after that they took it away, not sure why maybe they figured by then people weren?t getting sick, I wish they would keep it all the days just to be safe.

My dh and the girls went to the Ocean Lab Tour and had a great time they said they enjoyed it. I spent my time sorting through all the pictures that were taken and we got some wonderful ones, will post those some of those also. We got our family pictures out of this trip so it was great.

Debarkment was smooth we got Lavender and we were called by 8:00ish, we finished coffee and hot cocoa and then got off the ship no problem, we had pre arranged again a pier pick-up with the same company we called them to say we were off very early and we had a pick up in 5 min.

Again they are very friendly but the vans are not as safe as we?d like them, none of our seat belts worked, and that made me nervous also when we left the Pier area and he went through a check out he didn?t have a pass and things got a little tense?He did get us to our Hotel Embassy Suites which was recommended and he found it no problem!! TG!!! But I wouldn?t use this Company again, and I did email the Company about the wrong drop off and how the seat belts were not working, but didn?t get a response.

So we arrived very early and wasn?t sure we could get a room yet but we did, they actually had quite a few rooms, we saw where Wilma had caused the damage and how they were getting things fixed up. It is a very colorful and pretty Hotel, we dropped our things in our room on the 4th floor and we were still in time for the free breakfast so we went to that, we then went to the pool area which since the girls hadn?t really swam on the ship they spent a few hours in the pool there?free water and very nice area some of it was still closed the showers and the bar area and something else was roped off but it still was great.

The staff were good, the house keeping was something to be desired but enjoyed the Hotel overall and would stay again!!

It was warm and a beautiful day and the humidity was a bit lower?it was wonderful?We changed and watched a bit of tv and headed down to the Hotel dinning room. us and another couple were the only people there and the service was terrible. and the food besides the pizza which the kids ordered and were quite large was not very good, blah tasting and not worth the money..

We ended up crashing quite early that night and since 2 of us were still not feeling well glad I didn?t go ahead with the King Tut Tickets after all, as I?m not sure we would of made it.

The next day we had breakfast and took a cab to the Galleria Mall?We had a great time looking in shops we have only hear of and I was quite disappointed that Macy?s was closed.

We did our search for the Converse shoes while we looked in all the shops?we found some in the Lady Foot Locker, just the plain black ones. So we searched on knowing we could come back and get those if we couldn?t find some of the cooler ones the kids had seen. Well we saw this shop Hot Topic..OMG the girls went crazy once inside it was all this cool things from TV shows and Music?and we found some cooler shoes?and my youngest daughter who is really obsessed with animation found some cool things also and we got the shoes.. Yes oldest daughter found some that were marked down from 45.00 to 19.00 and then they were on sale again so we got a great deal at 9.99

Son then wanted to look at basketball shoes so we headed to some store think it was Finisht Line or something like that.. and he found some shoes he couldn?t get here in Canada. So shopping was a success?

We couldn?t believe this Mall though, I?ve lived and been to some very big Cities but I have never seen Valet parking service for a Mall, it was fun to watch people Valet park the cars for the Mall as we waited for a cab..lol..

We headed back to the Hotel with all our goodies and got dressed for supper, which I had been told that a Mexican place near by was good Carlos & Pepes and it was good. And the kids got to try fried Ice Cream, which they enjoyed. We went back to the Hotel stuffed and prepared to pack for the next day

We ended up catching the Hotel shuttle to the airport to find out our Flights had been cancelled, and they said maybe we could get you something tomorrow..and hell no was my reaction. I said find another airline and get us seats!! They were not very helpful and said we had to call the airline and arrange it, I again not that happy I said no you call you cancelled our flights you need to get us new ones!!

I was more worried as my dh had to work night shift Monday night and we needed to get home.

So something was said in Spanish which I?m sure wasn?t nice but an older lady got on the phone and came over to us and had gotten us on a flight out of FLL into Toronto with another airline. So we had a few hours to sit around at the FLL and then a 3 ? b/4 we could get a flight home, so instead of getting into the airport for 7:00pm and home hopefully for 10:00 ish we got in after 11:00pm and didn?t get home until almost 2:30 am.

So a wonderful trip over all we had a few major bumps in the road planning and going and coming but none of it matters as we had a GREAT time and the GREAT memories will always win over the bad ?

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