Let’s Get This Party Started
So far so good, except for the shortness of one of the porters everyone seems to be in such a good mood. The porters are trying to get everyone’s luggage and move the cars out of the way. I was so tired last night and too excited this morning I forgot to put the ships luggage tags on the luggage. So the porter had to wait for me to pull them out of my backpack. He attached them all while I put my scooter together. The whole time he was telling Corinne that she needed to move her car. She finally told him to calm down and I tipped him well (since it was my carelessness that caused his short attitude. So take the advise and have your cruise tags on luggage when you arrive.
They are allowing people people in long before their stated boarding times. They have plenty of staff to assist. Of course we are sailing at reduced capacity but for it to be the first Carnival cruise leaving the USA in over 15 months they are doing great.
The news station is here recording the event
This is Carnival’s first cruise from USA Port in over 16 months. Onboard to welcome cruising back is Christine Duffy, President and John Heald, Carnival’s Brand Ambassador. The entire area is full of excitement and the long overdue feeling of freedom and independence.
Once Corinne got back from the off-site parking area, they were letting all passengers in. Check-in was delayed for a short time due to the X-ray machines malfunction but they were back up and running within 30 minutes. There were three lines, one for all vaccinated passengers, one for non vaccinated passengers including those with children under 12 years old., and the third line was for Suite Guests. Platinum and Diamond guests did not get priority boarding at this time and had to enter into the regular lines. It was explained that they would reinstitute Diamond & Platinum Priority Boarding on cruises in the future. Some people were upset and tried to argue but the majority of them understood (it didn’t mean they were happy about it but they were just happy to be cruising.We entered in a separate Accessible Line. After going through the X-ray section, we showed our boarding passes, passports and vaccination cards then my name on my boarding pass was highlighted and we were given an escort to take us further, it made us feel special until we were escorted to the section where they were doing the COVID testing for unvaccinated guests. I inquired why I was there since I was fully vaccinated and a Supervisor checked with operations on reason I was flagged. It turned out medical just wanted to be sure that I had my CPap with me. Because of the inconvenience we were then escorted to the front of the line to register and immediately preceded to the ship.
Once onboard, we went directly to our room, where our key cards were waiting for us and we met Demar, our room steward. He asked for our preference on whether we preferred him to service our room morning or evening, they no longer do it twice a day. We chose mid morning in case we wanted to sleep in. We have a Category PT Stateroom Deck 1 Forward.
We found lots of storage including a full closet, closet with shelf half way down and hanging rod on top, The closet with the safe also had three shelves and three drawers. There was a hairdryer in vanity drawer and dispensers of shower gel and shampoo on shower wall. The bathroom is roomy with 3 glass shelves with rails on each side of the mirror for your toiletries. Before we even finished looking at our room, our luggage had been delivered.
We dropped off our carry-on items, canned water and Bubli (put some of each in stateroom refrigerator) then headed to Lido (Deck 10) to the Market Place Buffet for lunch. Also open for lunch was Guy’s Burger Joint, Bluelguana Cantina, Pizzeria del Capitano. There wasn’t much of a wait anywhere since we are sailing at 70% occupancy.
All of the staff are wearing masks even though they are fully vaccinated but you can see their smiles in their eyes plus each one wears a photo pin showing their unmasked smiles. It’s different but the most important thing is we are sailing!
Before I go any farther I must let you know about the new elevator system. I’m sure this was changed to prevent elevator over crowding and to assist with accessibility with the many scooters onboard like I have. Each area of elevators have multiple touch screens where you choose the deck you want to go to and it assigns you an elevator, announcing which one as well as displaying information on a large over head screen.
To operate you tap the deck number for every one in your party (for 4 people going to deck 10 you choose Deck 10 4 times) it now knows that there are 4 people getting in that elevator and when it gets to a maximum it starts assigning a different elevator for the next people who want deck 10. For those of us with scooters, you press the handicap symbol first and then the deck number and the system reduces the occupancy maximum because of the space needed for scooter. If you happen to be a “Elevator crasher” and jump in front of others you’d better being going to that deck because there’s no buttons on the inside to stop at another deck. (This also eliminates kids getting on and pushing every button because its funny)
I found the system to be very effective once people got accustomed to it. It really did organize the elevator area as everyone was standing in front of their assigned elevator and not dashing to get in the first one that opened.
Another change which some people love and others hate is they have gone to the standard being digital. Those great paper Fun Times schedules with all of the days activities and information are no longer a standard. It’s all on the Carnival Hub App. My first thought was what about people without smart phones (yes believe it or not there are some people out there) but we found out on day two that you can request a paper copy from Guest Relations, its not the fancy Fun Times that we have all grown to love but a plain 8-½ X 11 piece of paper printed on a laser printer. For most that’s fine as they get tossed at end of the day but for me who keep them all for scrapbooking and showing new cruises what types of things they can expect, it was a little disappointing. But hey we’re cruising again!
The same goes for the menus in all of the restaurants, they are listed in the Hub App and there are also QR Codes on each table for that restaurants daily options.
Again you can request a paper menu but the elegance of the formal dining room is lacking the leather bound menus. The napkin is no longer placed on your lap in case you were one that enjoyed the special attention. When you order your meal you also order your dessert which in my opinion isn’t cost effective because when you first order you are usually hungry so you want everything but once you get through the appetizer(s) and entree(s) you may be too full to eat dessert. The previous way of ordering dessert after dinner you could say no if you were too full. But I’m sure it makes it easier on the staff and that’s good because they work hard enough as it is. I just hate to see food go to waste.
Speaking of dining, if you have chosen Anytime Dining like we did, you can eat anytime between 5:30 and 9:30. When you are ready to eat you check in on the Hub and they will notify you when your table is ready. Once you get you message on the Hub that your table is ready (it even tells you what table number) you click on the “I’m On My Way” button and proceed to the dining room. Upon arrival you are immediately seated. On this particular ship I find the tables are too packed together and there are many more serving stations scattered around which makes the dining room feel more like a cafeteria with all of the noise and traffic. The main dining room has always been like fine dining to me and I don’t get that feeling on this cruise. One evening we were seated at the end of a table next to a station used for dirty dishes and in front of the station used for plated meals. More than once a large tray of food plates or dirty dishes where moved over Corinne’s head and the noise was deafening.
The food was good but nothing fantastic, I can’t eat much anyway so it didn’t matter that much to me. The first night we both ordered the salmon and mine was moist and perfect but Corinne’s looked (and tasted) like it had been on the grill for hours.The waiter was apologetic and immediately brought her another piece which was so much better. If you have special dietary requests, I would suggest choosing set dining times, either Early or Late as in Corinne’s case she prefers unsalted food including unsalted butter. Each night she will have to tell the waiter her preferences. If we had assigned dining the waiter would remember these and have them available before hand.
The Welcome Aboard Show was fabulous with such talent in the Singers and Dancers. There was still so much going on, the Comedy Club, Deck Party and different lounge activities but my stateroom bed was calling and I answered. It’s going to be a great night. Or as John Heald would say “Oh FFS”
A few more glitches included my Sea Pass being locked (deactivated) and our safe not opening after putting our passports and wallets in there. We entered the “Virtual Queue” on the Hub App (to eliminate waiting in line) and we were notified when to show up. A quick trip to down to Guest Relations resulted in new SeaPass Cards for each of us.