Barcelona to New Orleans
We arrived at the cruise ship terminal close to noon and the line up was very short. We ran into Greg,who sings in the choir at home with Doug, and Greg's three friends in the line up. We knew they were coming on this cruise but did not expect to run into them so soon. Doug, Heather and her sister Sally are from Red Deer and we all seem to get along really well.
A buffet lunch was waiting for us and it was so wonderful to see a salad bar and different menu choices, (ask me how I feel in16 days from now though.)
The ship is huge and we spend a bit of time exploring the upper deck. Hundreds of lounge chairs surround the small pool and above is a large screen where they show movies (outside) and during the day they have scenes of snorkelling the reefs. Loud music is played during the day from the rock and roll era of the 70s 80s and 90s.
The floor above has a serenity pool with a water fall and it is also surrounded by many lounge chairs. This is an adult only area although there are only a dozen or so children on this ship anyhow. There are double hammocks and double lounge chairs.
We also find a sports area with walking/running track, ping pong, billiards, basketball, huge water slides and a rope challenge course.
At 2PM we are able to get into our room and find that is is larger than most of the hotel rooms we have had. We booked a cabin on the lowest passenger deck in the middle of the ship as I am prone to seasickness and this area has the least movement. Our ocean view cabin is bright, furnished in blue and yellow and we are very happy here.
After a rest for a couple of hours we made our way upstairs for dinner in one of the many dining rooms. I am happy to see a few choices for vegetarians on the menu.
Our 16 day repositioning cruise came in at $700 each, so with tip it works out to $55 a day. This includes meals, room and entertainment. It's cheaper than staying at home.
Day 56. Our ship arrived in Mallorca, Las Palmas islands. Sally, Greg, Doug and Heather joined Doug and I on a hop on hop off tour of Mallorca today. We hopped off at two stops, one at the castle on top of the hill and the other the church and palace in town.
It is a very beautiful city and we enjoyed our short time here.
Later in the evening we had a wonderful dinner and then watched a comedy show which was pretty funny
Some of the street entertainment we have seen.
Day 57. Sea day. I joined a boot camp up in the gym and today was the first day. The gym is very modern and it felt great to work out again.
This afternoon was spent watching a live musical show with Beatle tunes, swimming and sun bathing by the pool, and talking to the many staff on board who are from all over the world.
The average age of the passengers on this ship is probably 60. There are many well travelled people aboard who love to share their stories, wether you want to hear them or not. Some folks are on their 60th cruise. It appears that for quite a few it is a contest as to who has been on the most cruises. There are some very interesting people aboard but like any large group of people, there are some that we would rather not spend time with.
There is one older couple, we will call them Jim and Millie, I can't remember their real names. We sat beside them at lunch and asked if they had done many other cruises. Well the flood gates opened and he told us about every place he had ever been, as though he was the only one who had ever been there. Millie didn't say a word, Doug said he saw her nodding off a few times as I am sure she has heard these stories a million times.
After 40 minutes or so of this one sided conversation I stood up to leave. He started talking about another destination that he had been to. I put on my backpack. He kept talking. I slowly backed away. He kept talking.
I finally said, "well, gotta go now". And we left.
He did not even ask us where we were from, the basic question on a cruises ship. Greg and crew said they met them as well and had the same experience.
People like Joe and Millie, and there are a number of them, must love cruising because they have a new audience every day.
Day 58. Malaga was our port of call today and once again we did the hop on hop off bus to tour the city. Another beautiful Spanish city with wonderful beaches and interesting buildings.
This evening we did another comedy show, and then up to the pool deck to watch a movie under the stars.
Day 59. Sea day. Boot camp again followed by pool time, sun time, lunch and then another Beatles sing along. I look around and see all of these old people swaying to the music and singing along. How can these old people be Beatle fans? It is hard to comprehend that they are probably the same age as us. Perceptions.
After a wonderful siesta and a great dinner we watched another comedy show and then went to the piano bar to listen to a young man play piano and sing some of Elton John's and other songs.
Day 60. A short port day in the Canary Islands, Las Palmas. Because we only had four hours we opted to do the ships shore excursion which was a tour of the island. The passengers were lined up and slowly boarded the many buses waiting in port. The roads to the top of the lookout to see the crater from the volcano were very narrow and winding. When two buses or cars meet it would be quite a nail biter. The tour meant sitting on the bus 90% of the time, so not my cup of tea but Doug and others really liked it.
I think that there are beaches and prettier areas in the Canary islands but the area we saw was very dry and hilly. They have not had rain for a long time and it shows. There are many different types of cactus and bougainvillaea, some grapes and potatoes growing.
This evening we went to another comedy show after dinner
Day 61. We have sea days now for six days. Nothing but water on all sides We are following the equator so the weather is quite warm, (29C) and blue skies. The sea is fairly calm, a bit of rocking and rolling at times but my ginger pills and the absence of alcohol seem to be keeping sea sickness at bay for now.
Boot camp followed by more sun bathing and swimming. The pool is like a wave pool with the swaying of the ship which is kind of fun. They show old tv shows in the morning at the pool, Happy Days, I love Lucy and Mash followed by loud music from the 70s and up.
We gained another hour today. We gain 7 hours over the course of the cruise which is pretty cool. No jet lag when we get home.
We spend a lot of time talking to other passengers and crew as I said and the time passes much quicker than I thought it would.
The crew are involved in a murder mystery game where we need to figure out 'who done it' in the next week.
After dinner there was a fantastic show "Epic Rock from the 80s' the singing dancing and visual effects were amazing and we were all blown away by this 35 minute show.
After this show we went to another area for an hour to listen to live rock and roll from the 80s again and watch others dancing.
Day 62. Miles and miles of ocean. Another hot and sunny day spent pool side. Today I decided to mix it up a bit and do pool and sun first and gym later. I watched tv while in the pool, it is getting very hot.
Working out in the gym is challenging when the boat is rocking so much.
The movie 'Lincoln' was playing at the pool this afternoon which Doug watched but I found it hard to hear so went to the cabin.
After dinner we watched another comedy show which was funny.
Day 63. Another time change last night. I can't figure out what time it really is anymore. Hot and muggy today. We look to be in the middle of the Atlantic right now. We see some of the same people over and over and forming a friendship with a few.
Pool time and boot camp at 2PM today which was a bit too late for me but I survived,(barely). We started with 6 women and 4 men and 3 of the men dropped out cause it was too tough....
An early night after dinner.
We have a different towel animal on our bed every night. Sometimes we are not too sure what it is....
Day 64. Had a great night sleep. There are a lot of people with colds, it is sweeping the boat. I am fighting it off but Doug is suffering.
After breakfast I went to check out the water slides and decided to try the slow one, yellow. You had to climb up around three stories or more and then choose one of three slides. It felt like it went on forever and threw me around inside a lot.
After that Doug and I went swimming and laid in the sun for a short while but it was over 30C today so too hot to stay out of the pool for long.
Greg and I decided to tackle the rope sky course. I had my sandals on and one of the young men said that I needed runners. I told Greg I would have to come back and the young man gave me his runners to wear! The staff is fantastic here. I felt like a clown from the circus, they were a few sizes too big but I got harnessed in and off I went.
The first station was a tightrope across. You had a rope to hold on to and also your harness.
"I think I made a mistake, I don't want to do this"
There was a line forming behind me. So I went.
The old "don't look down" didn't work too well here. I made it across the first two stations and then freaked.
A balance beam that seemed to go forever. One of the young men who worked there came over and talked me across and stayed with me the rest of the course.
I watched others just zip across, but my balance is terrible and I am terrified of heights. I could not believe I finished this without falling off, or freezing. One woman a while ago just stopped in the middle and would not move. They had to get a pulley system to bring her down.
As soon as I got down I ran into a woman that we sat with at dinner a few nights ago and she wanted to do the water slide with me. After I stopped shaking from doing the ropes we headed over.
She got in the blue and I did the green, we were going to have a race. I crossed my ankles, laid down and crossed my hands across my chest as instructed.
We went so freaking fast, but my head was banging on the back as I went down.
Bam bam bam. Ouch, that hurt. I am going to have a headache from that.
Hazel said the blue one didn't do that and talked me into going down again on that one.
The blue slide was so fast! I got to a corner and flipped around and got a face full of water and before I knew it I was at the bottom. With a huge wedgie. Damm that was fast.
That's enough of that!!
My body is a little sore right now.
Another great dinner tonight and then we went to another comedy show and in bed by 9.
No wait, 8 , another time change.
Day 65. I went up to the gym to weigh myself this morning and the digital scales went up and down 15 pounds continuously because the waves are so bad today. It was quite funny. Kevin, our trainer, said we would not use weights today because the ship is rolling too much, just our own body weight and the resistance of the waves. I would be doing push-ups and thinking "wow, this is so easy" and the the wave would go up and it would be so hard. Really cool but a tough work out.
Pool time, reading, relaxing. Lots of wave action in the pool. You can do laps without moving, it's like one of those resistance pools. No seasickness yet which is fantastic. I find it fun so far.
Most of the passengers are American, then Canadian followed by European, Russian, German, English, Israeli and Spanish.
Today is November 11, Remembrance Day. I made each of our 6 a poppy from the daily newspaper in our room, Carnivals colors are red. We had a moment of silence at 11am.
There was a remembrance gathering in the after noon that Doug went to.
After dinner we went to another "playlist" show. This is with the professional dancers and singers and tonight was a 70s theme. Our cruise director and some of her staff came out to where we were all lined up to go in, and asked who wanted to be a VIP, who could do the "YMCA song."?
For reasons that remain unknown, I yelled out " I do, I do!!!"
I was given a VIP neck tag and interviewed about the 70s and then my party , Doug ,Heather, Doug and Sally, were al escorted in and put in front row seats. What have I gotten myself into? They did the same with about 10 more people.
Sally took off thinking that they would have all of us do something. Greg was In his room nursing a bad cold.
The show started and the music,dancing and costumes were fantastic. Third song in one of the women dancers came over to me, put a pair of glitter cats eye glasses on me, which really impacted my vision, and we started to dance. There were six other guests on the floor partnered with the other dancers.
We then made our way on stage to do " the hustle". Well I have no rhythm but was doing pretty well following her lead until they moved me to the front and I had no one to watch, I was two left feet dancing.
She brought me up again at the end of the show to dance and it was a lot of fun. Normally I hate this type of thing but really didn't care that much.
Day 66. Changing the clock back every night is getting tough. Everyone is waking up at 3 or 4AM . A lot of tired people in the gym this morning.
I have a siesta around 2 or 3 every day, but find I am not tired then and feel the need to sleep at dinner time instead which is inconvenient. I haven't had my nap for three days now, but going to bed around 8 PM is helping.
I sat at the pool and read but only lasted around a half hour in the sun as it is so hot, over 30. The pool looks like there is a convention happening, standing room only. There are so many crispy critters laying by the pool. They are going to be sore tomorrow.
I moved into the shade to read for a few hours and then the pool side theatre showed the Michael Jackson movie "this is it" . I have seen it twice before but still loved it the third time.
After dinner Doug and the other two guys went to a ventriloquist show which they said was great. I stayed in tonight.
Day 67. Port day. Turks and Caicos. Another carnival cruise ship pulled in just before us so the place was packed. But what a place! The ships pulled in just a few meters from the beach. We walked down the walkway, through the duty free shop and out to find our shore excursion. We are on Grand Turk, one of a few islands here.
Carnival owns this part of the island which has stores, bars, a huge swimming pool, and many lounge chairs on the beach and under to palm trees. It is a great set up.
The beach has powdery white sand framed with Palm trees and the water is a gorgeous turquoise. We can see the tropical fish from the pier.
Doug and heather and the two of us signed up for the "ultimate snorkel tour". There were around 50 of us on a catamaran that had two snorkel stops. The crew were all wonderful and we left for our two and 1/2 hour sail at 10:30am.
The first stop was not great. I am so spoiled from Belize but just dead coral and a few fish. I was so disappointed.
The second stop was much shallower and there were many more tropical fish and some colorful coral. Two nurse sharks and a barracuda were swimming with is as well.
All too early we had to head back but stopped to watched four dolphins playing in the water. It would have been great to snorkel with them.
The rest of the afternoon was spent swimming in the beautiful warm crystal clear water and relaxing under the palm trees. This was such a wonderful break from the ship. I think I would like to come back here one day for a couple of weeks. When the cruise ships aren't here it would be very peaceful.
After dinner we went to a show by one of the entertainers who sang and performed and we all really enjoyed it.
No time change tonight. Yeah!!!!
Day 68. We talk to the crew a lot, especially the wait staff. One young man from Indonesia has really touched our heart and we spent some time talking to him about his plans etc.
I said I would like to ask him a question but he didn't have to answer if he didn't want to. Does Carnival pay you well?.
"No, we don't make any wages, only tips"
Three years ago they changed their policy and quit paying them, but after a straight 8 or 9 month contract they will pay their flight home and back after a holiday.
He said they book them on the milk run to get the cheapest flights, he would rather get a salary and book his own flight.
These guys and girls work so hard, 12 hour days or more. If you talk to them they give you all the time you need, and now I know why.
There is a mandatory tipping of $11 per day per person divided between staff,, but you can also give extra to whom you want.
No wonder cruises are so inexpensive.
After my boot camp Doug and I sat on lounge chairs on the upper deck and read. The weather changed and it rained a bit, we moved under cover.
There are a number of silly, (in my opinion) games on the ship and today was no exception. Today was the men's hairy chest contest.
Did I mention the average age on the ship is 60? It should have been the hairy back contest. Older men with pot bellies strutting their stuff and then two women in their 70s would run their hands through the chest hair of these strangers. Yuck. It got really silly after that and I tried not to watch and just read my book, but it was like a car accident, I just had to look up now and then.
Lazy day, lots do reading and then we dressed up for our second, and last, formal night dinner. We were also treated to another playlist production with more amazing dancing and singing with the eight very talented young men and women. The theme tonight was Latin songs and the colors and costumes were fantastic.
After the show we went to a comedy show and he was the funniest we had sen yet.
Stayed up until 11PM tonight and then had another time change back to 10PM. Whohoo
After my workout in the gym Doug and I met for breakfast and sat with a couple from England who were probably in their early 70s. They lived close to Liverpool and had a very thick accent, but delightful to talk to. They described the Serenity deck (the top pool deck), as an old folks home. People go there and lay in the hammocks and lounge chairs all day and don't move. He said he saw one guy even drooling as he slept, and they even have their meals brought to them. It was very close to the truth and we found him very funny.
The weather was very rainy and bleak today. We did a lot of reading and after dinner went to a comedy show which was funny. At each port stop we have new comedians and entertainers board and the old ones leave.
The ship was really rocking tonight. I had a hard time walking.
Tonight we had a jazz band from New Orleans, the "dirty dozen" which had 7 men playing brass keyboard and drums. Not sure why they were called dirty dozen? They were very good but incredibly loud. The only thing about this cruise I would complain about is that the music and events are far too loud. A lot of people ended up leaving the show because of the volume, including me.
Day 70. My last morning in the gym. Doug and I went for a swim this morning after breakfast, the weather was great today.
We arrived at the Mississippi River and started our way up to New Orleans. We sailed past many oil rigs and then to an area of marshland. Large pelicans flew overhead, cows grazing on the grassland. Everyone was on deck and it was very exciting to come to New Orleans this way.
After lunch there was a Mardi Gras party on the pool deck, with the jazz band from last night, who turned the volume down thankfully. It was a lot of fun to watch and a great way to spend our last day on the ship.
At 4pm the ship anchored in the middle of the river and immigration boarded to go over all the papers, mostly of the crew. Because this is our first point of entry into the USA and the crew is from all over the world they will clear them fist so that no one slips in tomorrow when all the passengers disembark. Paranoia about crew jumping ship to stay here I guess.
We gave some extra tips to some of the staff members who went above and beyond for us. It is hard because they are are all so wonderful. One buss boy that Doug gave a bit of money to was so grateful, well they all were, but he said, " you know it's not the money, it's the respect"
We had an early night tonight. Had to pack up and get ready to leave what was our home for the past 16 days.
On to New Orleans.