Sunday, September 21, 2008

Cruise Day is Here!

Steve from SAS picked us up right at 10:30. I can't say enough about the quality of his service and highly recommend him for any of your transport needs in the Ft. Lauderdale/Miami area. He mentioned that the port in Miami was a mess due to four ships arriving at the same time. According to his information, people that should have been off already were still nowhere near disembarking.

He had no other pickups so we were headed strait to the port. On the way, a call came in about a pair of travelers needing to be transported from Ft. Lauderdale airport to the same ship as ours. After asking us if we minded, which we didn't, he turned around and retrieved them. It made the trip go easier having someone else to talk to.

Arriving at the port, we could see it was still a complete mess. Frequent cruisers now that things are usually cleared out by 11-11:30. Here it was almost noon and there were hundreds of people still getting off the ship! He dropped us off and we made our way inside. It is no exaggeration to say that we waited in lines to have a turn waiting in another line. It was ridiculous and horrendous. Had this been our first experience with Carnival I guarantee it would have been our last. It took hours to check-in. At the counter, our customer service person explained that Carnival rented the facility from NCL as theirs were full. Since it was an NCL terminal, there were no Carnival systems or computers. Everything was being done by hand. Once we knew this, it made sense and was more tolerable. Why Carnival chose to not communicate this to the thousands waiting to board is one of those business decisions where the only response is, "what were you thinking?"

By the time we actually boarded and got our stateroom, it was nearly 3:00. Despite being famished, we decided on light eating to save our appetites for the scrumptious dinner that was awaiting us at 6:00. While lunching and having a drink, we met up with a number of other people from the cruisecritic.com discussion boards. They were all nice people.

Muster is the process of exercising for an emergency drill. Everyone is called out and shows up at the evacuation points with their life vests. In our case, it went pretty smoothly with a hundred or so people at out area, all wearing their bright orange vests. But, then there were the past cruisers that not only thought they didn't need to participate, but by talking amongst themselves, and quite loudly, kept new cruisers from hearing all of the instructions.

During muster, the ship pulled away from the dock. I went up on the observation deck to watch the sail-away. It wasn't all that interesting, though I must say that the city of Miami looks much better in CSI_Miami than it does in reality.

Dinner for us was at 6:00 and its the early shift. We found we were seated at a table of ten, although we found we were the only ones at the table. The ffod was excellent as was the bottle of Reisling we ordered. The service was impeccable as we have come to expect from Carnival. We went from dinner to the casino, where I promptly dropped some bucks at the craps table. The wife donated a bit to the slot machines, but we both had fun in the process. We decided to head back a bit early.

Monday is a day in Nassau, Bahamas.

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