2011 Anniversary Cruise Trip...

We had a few bumps in the road, but we managed to get our cruise vacation after all.  I woke up around 04:00 this morning and couldn’t get back to sleep.  I guess I was a little anxious to make sure that everything went right and we actually got on the ship.  When hubby got up several hours later, he joined me in relaxing on the couch.  It was strange to not be running around like crazy but we actually got 99% of our packing completed last night so, perhaps for the first time ever, we were good to go day-of-travel.  We loaded up the car and got on the road a bit after 09:00 and headed west.  We made it to the port just after noon and found a crazy mess of traffic backed up waiting to get to the terminal.  I don’t remember it being anything like that last time we cruised out of Mobile.  It took us a while to get to the parking garage and then get parked but the wait inside to get through security and get checked in really wasn’t bad.  We were on the ship and in our room by 14:00 – yes, this cruise is really going to happen!!!  As we were leaving our luggage in the cabin, our room steward, Alit from Indonesia, stopped by to introduce himself.  He is a wonderfully friendly young man and we enjoyed our introductory chat with him before undertaking our first order of business – the excursion desk.  We booked snorkeling trips for Jamaica and Grand Cayman.  We had chosen a Mayan Ruin trip for Cozumel but we were informed that it wasn’t being offered on this cruise because we wouldn’t be in port long enough.  I guess it’s a good thing that it was too late for me to book excursions online because it showed available on the website.  We decided to go excursionless in Cozumel since we’ve been there several times before and know it’s a safe enough place to “wing it.”  Our next order of business was to take on the first buffet of the week!  Don’t you judge us - we had only a small breakfast around 08:00.  After lunch, we took a quick lap around the lido deck and then headed back down for the muster station drill, which was by far the longest and seemingly most chaotic one we’ve done yet. 

exploring the pool deck

Sail away was supposed to be at 16:00 but, for whatever reason, we didn’t actually pull out of port until about an hour later.  We then undertook a full exploration of the ship to get a feel for what all was there and where to find it.

carnival's whale tail as we leave mobile in the distance

who needs bunny ears when you can have whale tails?

cool wake pattern

hubby enjoying the view

Since one of us had been awake since 04:00, a quick nap before dinner seemed like a good idea but, sadly, my body was still fighting sleep.  Such is my life.  We always do the late seating for dinner.  It just seems to fit better not only with our regular routine but also with activities on the cruise.  We went to our 20:15 dinner and found that we were placed at a small, four-top table.  Generally, we prefer the eight- or ten-tops so that we can socialize with a variety of people but the couple we were seated with, Billy and Elaine from Tupelo, were very nice so we weren’t going to abandon them to be moved to a bigger table.  They were both former casino dealers so the conversation was interesting.  After dinner was the Welcome Aboard Show, one seating only, in the main theatre.  It included song, dance, and comedy.  There were two comedians who are promised to be performing for the next two nights.  Mark Hawkins has a very high energy, verging on caffeine-overdose, comedic style that I appreciated.  John Sibley is much more country-boy and laid back in his presentation – sitting down and talking slow.  Both made us laugh but hubby definitely preferred the “redneck” feel of Mr Sibley.  After the general audience (GA) show, we made our way up to the comedy club lounge for an adult-only (AO) set by Mr Hawkins.  I found this show to be much funnier than his brief GA bit.  It was a full day and I’m just relieved that we actually made it on our cruise.  It’s going to be a great week!

towel animal du jour: seal

mirror pic



HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, HUSBAND!!! We both woke up pretty early and I offered to go to the gym with him but he insisted that he was not going to drag his wife to the gym on our anniversary. Smart boy! But I would have gladly gone without complaint as a gift to him. Instead, we stayed in bed most of the morning, napping on and off. We finally got up and headed to the lido deck, just catching the end of the breakfast buffet. After stuffing ourselves (I heart breakfast foods!), we took a long stroll around the upper decks enjoying the view and breeze but unable to find adequate shade.

hubby's favorite part of a cruise ship is the ice cream machines. especially when they have strawberry frozen yogurt!

the main lobby/atrium

main lobby/atrium

main lobby/atrium

We finally made our way back to our cabin and ran into Alit, who called us by name, in the hall. We had a long conversation with him and learned that he had a wife who was working on the ship as well and a three year old son back at home with his parents in Indonesia. I really enjoy talking to him and I hope that he does not grow weary of us throughout the week. Between the breakfast and the sun from walking around, we passed out! We made it back out of the room for a late afternoon lunch and then lounged by the pool for a while before heading back to the room to get dressed up for elegant night.

mirror pic

On our way to the early show (for the late diners), we stopped to have our photo taken at a couple of booths and then did our own on the stairs.

obligatory "elegant night" staircase photo

The main show tonight was called Just Rock and was a singing/dancing compilation of 50s-80s era light-rock. Overall, it was an enjoyable show. The dancers were all very good, as they were last night, but there was one guy that stood out to me and I wish I had found out his name. There are two singers, Lizzie and Troy. After two shows now, I would say that the female vocalist is definitely the stronger of the two. The male was all over the place and I am finding his voice grating at times. I think there’s only going to be one other show this week with the singers/dancers so he’ll have one more chance to redeem himself or seal my opinion.  Before dinner, we stopped back by the room to pour a couple glasses of the wine we had brought from home as an anniversary treat – a yummy semi-sweet blueberry wine from Panama City Beach Winery. It paired very well with my pasta carbonara and hubby’s lobster.

our anniversary toast was blueberry wine from home. yummy!

When we entered the room, we found that Alit had left us a special anniversary surprise.

towel animal du jour: love swans! our anniversary gift from Alit

He also must have called the dining room and told our waiters, Georgica (Romania) and Christopher (Philippines), because they brought a piece of cake and sang happy anniversary to us after dinner. It was a lovely celebration of seven years of marriage.

hubby's apple-something-or-other-dessert. i thought it was pretty. he thought chocolate melting cake would have been better.

When we had eaten and finished our wine, we made our way up to the comedy lounge for the last two performances of the night – adult comedy from both Mr Hawkins and Mr Sibley. Here is where I must make my first complaint… there were five comedy shows this evening, two GA and three AO. The GA shows were at 19:30, during the main show for the late diners, and 20:30, during the late dinner. So we missed both of those. Early diners, however were able to catch both those shows and still see their main show as well. I just felt that the scheduling was pretty crappy and wish that we didn’t have to choose which show to go to just because we were part of the late diners. We left the dining room as soon as we were through with dessert and made it about half-way through the first AO show, which was Mr Sibley. We arrived just in time for a hilarious bit about Bin Laden and thoroughly enjoyed the rest of his act. Happily, the last show of the night was a repeat so we got to see the whole thing after all and got to see the differences in his delivery the first time around versus the second time. Sandwiched between those was Mr Hawkins’ AO performance which was completely different material from last night’s and still laugh-worthy.  

i was playing around with the "color swap" mode on the camera, making his blue shirt red. we had time to kill between comedians.

i appreciate that they are bringing more comedy to the cruises



After yesterday’s anniversary respite, we rose bright and early this morning and headed straight to the gym. I know I’ve been in the gyms on other cruises but I don’t think I’ve ever seriously worked out before. Go me! We did a full circuit of the weights, which was no easy task given the hoards of exercise enthusiasts in there.

pumping iron

We then did the bike for a half hour and headed up to the sports deck to put in a mile on the jogging track.

ready, set, pedal!

view from the bike

The spongy track was nice but the small loops got very tedious very quickly. It took eleven laps around to make a mile. Any chance of doing a nice little 5k workout was quickly dissipated. Not only would I be bored out of my mind running thirty-four of those tiny circles but I’m sure my knees/ankles wouldn’t have appreciated all those corners either. That, and it was insanely hot. We found some shade by the pool and lounged around for a bit to cool down before grabbing some breakfast. Such a productive morning earned us a good long shower and an entire afternoon of laying in bed dozing and watching movies. It was 16:00 before we finally dragged ourselves out for a small lunch, followed by a few rounds of putt-putt.  


I certainly do not excel at putt-putt but hubby’s ball rolling back down to him a dozen or so times on this hole just may have put me ahead.  

hubby got stuck on this hole for quite some time

it keeps coming back!

This evening’s main show was a singer – Ron Joseph, The Soul Man of Bourbon Street. Once again, we had to choose between the main show and dinner or the GA comedy shows. Truly poor scheduling, Carnival; in my opinion. Mr Joseph has a great voice and is a good performer, but it wasn’t my cup of tea. I’m just not that into soul music. I was, however, very entertained when he kicked a volunteer offstage when he was acting like a fool and trying to steel the show. Still, I would have preferred the comedian, personally, but that is no fault of the performer. Happily, we had two more chances for laughter after dinner when both comedians put on new AO shows again. Tomorrow they get off the ship so we won’t be seeing any more of them this trip. We’ll be getting two new comedians in a couple days so hopefully they’ll be as entertaining as misters Sibley and Hawkins.  

when the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie... that's amore!

the moon's magic had me making eyes at my hubby

mirror pic

towel animal du jour: koala!