Monday, 19 March 2012

Cruise-a-Palooza 2012

March break, 2012

At long last, I am able to sit down and type out details of our vacation!  We left out house at about 6:00 pm on Thursday, March 7th. Our first stop was at my high school friend, Leslie's house to drop off Rosabelle. I haven't seen Leslie since the week after high school graduation in June, 1987, but thanks to Facebook, we have been back in touch. She was lovely enough to offer to take Rosie when I put out a plea back in November. I owe her BIG time. After a hug and tabled off instructions, we were on the road again.  A quick pit stop at Tim Hortons and we were headed towards Buffalo. 

We arrived at the Holiday Inn Express at about 9:45 pm. After check in, we headed to our rooms and vegged for the night.  Not the nicest, nor cleanest hotel I've ever seen, but, it did the job for the short stay. We ordered our wake up call for 4:50 am...GASP!!!!!  And the call came, right on time. We were in the shuttle bus by 5:35 and at the airport for 5:45. The people at the Buffalo Airport, from the porters to the Customs Officers to the security guards were all so friendly and nice!!!  We arrived at our gate at about 6:45 and waited to board. 

The Southwest flight was no frills (no movie, just pretzels for food and pop for drinks) but the legroom was amazing and the staff was great. The 2 hour and 50 minute flight flew by (excuse the pun) and before we knew it, we had touched down in Fort Lauderdale!

We collected our bags and grabbed two taxis to our hotel, the Marriott Renaissance, which was about 15 minutes away.  We spoke with the front desk and were told that our rooms weren't ready yet. They let us leave our luggage with them and we walked down the street to Giorgio's for a nice Italian lunch. We took our time walking back to the hotel and our rooms were ready. We took our bags up to the 4th floor and the boys changed into their bathing suits. We headed to the pool because the boys wanted to swim. The weather wasn't great and eventually, it POURED with rain. It lasted about five minutes and then the sun peeked through the clouds for bit longer. We headed upstairs for showers at about 5:00. 

After speaking with the front desk manager about his recommendations for dinner, we decided to go to Duffy's...a sports bar which was about 2 kms from the hotel. We walked it...yay us!  The food was really good and it was happy hour, so drinks were two for one!  After dinner, we headed home to bed.

We took our time waking up on Friday morning and then headed down to the hotel restaurant for breakfast because it was threatening rain and we didn't want to walk to a restaurant and get soaked. We basically had to mortgage the house to pay for the average breakfast, but our bellies were full and we were ready for action. The original plan was to hit the beach, but because the weather was cloudy, we decided to go shopping instead. Our awesome shuttle driver took us to Target which was attached to a local mall.  Old Navy, TJ Maxx and a few stores were on the agenda. $250 and 90 minutes later, we were back on the shuttle, heading back to the hotel. 

By this time, the weather was lovely, so we put on our bathing suits and headed for the pool. Threepeat jumped into my arms in the pool over and over again!  He loved it!  We headed upstairs around 4:30 and decided on Quarterdeck for our dinner. This place was great!  It was about the same distance away as Duffy's, so we walked again. I had red snapper that was so fresh, I swear it jumped from the ocean onto my plate!  Grandma had us all in stitches after her ONE gin martini.  What a laugh we had!

We were back home for about 10:30 and went to bed. Threepeat was up in the night coughing, which made for a long day on Saturday, as we packed up and headed for the Carnival Freedom. I knew I would be tired because of being up several times with Threepeat, but I felt ABNORMALLY tired. I just had no energy at all!  

We arrived at the port at 12:30 just in time for boarding. The security line up took a long time, but once we got through that, the embarkation process was, just as it always is with Carnival, easy peasy lemon squeezy. We got on board and headed up to the Lido deck for our buffet lunch. The kids ate like champs and once we all filled our bellies, we headed down to our 1-328 on the Riviera deck. Grandma, Threepeat and I got the outside cabin and MIL, Hubster, Boy Oneder and Middleman got the inside cabin directly across from us. Our luggage was delivered in a timely fashion and Mom and I unpacked while the kids explored with Hubster. Once we were settled in, Threepeat decided it was time to ride the water slide. Three hundred times. In a row. All day. LOL. He LOVED it!!  Hubster and Middleman played giant chess on the Lido deck and I laid on the bed in our room, exhausted. At this point, my throat hurt, I had a headache and my nose was a bit stuffy. Yep, a cold was taking over. 

We headed down to our dinner at 8:15. The first night, I had beef brisket...delish!  We met our waiter, Sentil and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. An early night was not to be had as the show started at 10:30. Threepeat and I left as soon as the show was over and Hubster stayed with the older boys for the comedian. I was out before my head hit the pillow, but by 1:30 am, I was up coughing and unable to breathe through my nose. Ugh. Full on cold. 

After a rough night, we headed up for our buffet breakfast. Another yummy meal. Then, it was nearly impossible to find loungers, as everyone and their brother had put their towels, books and shoes on them. This was a fun day at sea, so the filled-to-capacity ship was, well, filled to capacity!!  Luckily, Grandma has great eyes and she found a few loungers on the starboard side of the ship. We all headed over and planted our butts down for a bit. Threepeat refused to go to Camp Carnival, as did Boy Oneder and Middleman. They wanted to hang with us. So they did. 

Lunch was a buffet on the Lido deck, then it was nap time for Threepeat and I. After an hour and a half rest, we headed back to the Lido, where Threepeat took to the waterside again. He sure loves that thing!!  We wandered the ship for a while and the boys spent some time in the arcade.  Tonight was our first formal night and we all dressed to the nines. We headed downstairs a little earlier and had our photos taken. Tonight's dinner was prime rib and lobster tail...mmmmmm!!!!  After dinner, it was back to the theatre for the show. I was really feeling awful and the sinus press was horrible, so Threepeat and I headed to bed. Another rough night with a nose so stuffed up, I couldn't breathe. Ugh. 
Luckily, MIL had some Advil Cold and Sinus which helped a little bit. 

Monday, at 7:00 am, we arrived in beautiful Grand Turk. The water was like a postcard...turquoise and navy, aqua and royal blues. The white sand beach stretched for as far as the eye could see from the ship!  We had our breakfast at the Lido deck buffet and then threw on our bathing suits, grabbed our towels and headed for the beach. Threepeat spent the entire time in the beautiful, calm water. Well, except while he was being buried in the sand or helping to bury his brothers!!!  We all had a lot of fun, but by noon, the sun was scorching, so we decided to head back to the ship for lunch (and some shade!). Another great buffet lunch and then we headed to our loungers for a little relaxation. 

Because we are on the late sitting for dinner (8:15 pm) every night, we don't get to see the shows until late (10:30) and Threepeat, being only four, can't stay up that late. So, I insist that he naps in the afternoon. Hubster thought Threepeat would fall asleep on the deck (pffft!!) and after half an hour of trying to get him to settle, I took him down to our room. Within minutes, he was snoring. Lol. Of course, I relaxed on my bed, but alas, I am not a napper. My mind won't shut down at night, let alone during the day.

After about an hour, Hubster came down to the room and I took the opportunity to head to the Internet cafe to check on my beloved Facebook. I was under the false impression that wireless was free and so, was disappointed to read that the pay-as-you-go cost was 75 cents/minute!!!!!!!  I checked in and then went looking for everyone else. I found MIL on the Lido deck and she told me everyone had gone down to the rooms. I headed down and found them. I had a shower and got Threepeat changed and we headed down to the past guest reception. A couple of free drinks and some entertainment later and Threepeat FINALLY decided that he wanted to try out Camp Carnival!

We headed all the way up to the Panorama deck only to find that they had already taken the kids to the kids only dinner and would return at 7:00. Because  there was lasertag in the auditorium tonight, the show was on before dinner tonight, so it worked out well. We killed some time in our room and then headed up to Camp Carnival for 7:00. Because I had pre-registered him online, they already had his name badge ready for him and he skipped off, barely looking back to say good bye. 

Hubster and I joined the rest of the fam at the show and went back to pick up Threepeat for 8:00, just in time for dinner. My choice for tonight's dinner was steak.  Hubster and Middleman had ribs, Boy Oneder joined me with steak and the grandmothers had pasta. Yummy!  The ship is rocking like crazy tonight!!  The wind is very strong and the ship is really swaying!!  After supper, the grandmas headed to the casino, while Hubster, Threepeat and I watched E.T. On the jumbotron out on the Lido deck. The older boys met a friend named Jordan, from Miami at the arcade earlier so they hung out around the ship with him.  11:30 was bedtime. :)

Tuesday began as it has sincere boarded the ship....breakfast on the Lido deck. Threepeat had to switch it up this morning because they ran out of Lucky Charms...he had pancakes. :). After breakfast, we disembarked and walked up the hill to the shuttle area, which had one tiny little duty free shop. I took a photo of the name "La Romana" in the rock and we headed back to the ship. Not so impressed with La Romana. But, we had a great day on the fairly empty ship. Threepeat spent his day in the waterside and today, Middleman and Boy Oneder joined him! Even Hubster and I tried it out!  So fun!  Threepeat went to Camp Carnival for an hour from 4:00 to 5:00 while Grandma and I played trivia and had a glass of wine in the lobby bar. We are chilling in our room for a bit now and then it will be shower time.  

Just saw on the news that it is 73 degrees in New York City!!  Wow!!!  Soooo not fair!  Lol. I paid to get away and they are getting great weather????  Grrr!!  Still sneezing like crazy and my nose is still runny/stuffy. Wondering if it is part cold, part allergy? Either way, ugh. 

For the first time, the dinner was not so hot tonight. Each day, there is a channel on the TV that tells you what is on the menu for that night. Mom and I were excited to have the roast turkey and the kids were excited about the lasagna. When we sat down and Pornpan (Sentil's assistant) gave us our menus, 
They were totally different than the TV menu. Mom ended up having the beef enchiladas, while Hubster had lamb, I had seafood and rice, Threepeat, MIL and Middleman had farfalle pasta and Boy Oneder had pork. No one was really impressed with their meals. Ah well, that's the first complaint, so I can live with that. 

We set sail from La Romana right on schedule at 5:00 and the sea wasn't quite as choppy during dinner as it was last night. Now that I am sitting on my bedin the cabin however, the ship is rockin'!  I do like the feeling of being rocked to sleep. It's very relaxing. :)

Tonight's show was a little different. Jerome Dabney, a Motown tribute singer flew into the Dominican from Las Vegas today, taking the place of the Freedom dancers for the evening. He was quite good, singing some of the hits of Marvin Gaye, The Four Tops, The Temptations and Smokey Robinson, to name a few. It was a nice change from the singing and dancing, which is very good as well. 

Tomorrow, we are set to arrive in Curacao at 2:00 pm and set sail at 11:00 pm. Kind of a crappy time because it's late in the day to go to a beach and we will be back on the ship for dinner, so we will lose the time after about 6:00. I wish that we had that timeframe in crappy La Romana instead of beautiful Curacao, but, we will make the most of it. :)

Oh Curacao how I love thee. What a beautiful island. Amazing weather, amazing people, amazing EVERYTHING. We arrived at 2:00 pm and took a taxi to Mambo Beach, where we grabbed a cabana and frolicked in the calm ocean. It was awesome!!!  Our taxi driver told us some really cool facts about the island and education here. He came back to pick us up at 6:00. After four hours in the scorching sun, we were ready for our showers and our dinner!

I am feeling MUCH better today and only blew my nose two or three times!  Hallelujah!  

Tonight's dinner choice was steak. Yummy as always!  The show tonight was "Love and Marriage". Basically, the Newlywed Game with golden-weds, newlyweds and a somewhere in between couple. So fun!  Threepeat spent the evening at Camp Carnival after dinner and tonight was the first time he attended "Night Owls", which is Camp Carnival after hours. The kids watch movies and pay games, but parents pay $6.75/hour per kid. Very reasonable when parents want to watch an adults only show.  The ship set sail tonight at 11:00 pm for Aruba. 

I got a little burned today, but that's's more of a sun kiss than a sunburn. ;)

We are all excited about Aruba tomorrow. Hubster and I spent the first week of our honeymoon there in 1994 and it will be our first time back. We plan to go to the beach again. :). We are scheduled to arrive at 8:00 am and we leave at 4:00 pm. 

Oh Aruba....just as The Dominican leaves a bad taste in my mouth, Aruba has a special place in my heart. We arrived a little ahead of schedule at 7:45 this morning and after a quick breakfast, we were off the ship, enjoying the walk along the main street of Oranjstaad. We walked over the bridge that was so familiar even after 18 years to the hotel that housed us during out honeymoon...originally called "Sonesta Suites", it is now called the Renaissance. Other than the name, you would see no difference. The lobby took me right back to the day we arrived back on April 10th, 1994. The walkway to the courtyard remained the same.  Looking up, we saw our balcony...where we spent many nights that week. Sigh. It was awesome. I even had the song, "Please ForgiveMe" by Bryan Adams playing in my head as we strolled through the grounds...that song played many times during our honeymoon. 

We took lots of photos and videos and Threepeat watched hundreds of crabs jumping on the rocks in the little bay at the hotel. We walked through the market next to the hotel and reminisced some more. It was awesome. Did I say that already?  We saw lots of big wild iguanas and some gorgeous boats. 

We headed back to the ship to have some lunch and grab our towels and at noon, we were on our way to Eagle Beach. Our taxi driver dropped us off at 12:15 and promised to return at 2:15. The boys and I played in the fantastic waves while Grandma laid on a lounger under the divi divi tree. Hubster rented a paddle boat and the older boys rode around for a bit. Next, Hubster and Boy Oneder took Threepeat for a spin. They had a blast. Back to the shore for some more body surfing. Threepeat was like a cork, being tossed around by the waves that must have looked like a tsunami to him!!

Time flew by and before we knew it, our taxi driver was back. Time to head back to the ship. :(. Our time here is nearly over and that just makes me so sad.   Our ports of call are all done and now, we have two fun days at sea before we return to Fort Lauderdale once more. 

Dinner was delicious, as usual. I had cinnamon pumpkin, squash, sweet potato cheddar cheese pot pie.   Divine.   Boy Oneder had fillet mignon and it was perfect. 

Grandma and I decided to have a bit of an early night and turned in at 11:00 with Threepeat while Hubster and the boys enjoyed the deck party and midnight buffet. 

Friday was our first of two fun days at sea, on our way back to Florida. The weather was perfect.  Threepeat spent the entire morning on the water slide and after lunch, BEGGED for a nap. I hung out on to lido deck with Mom while Hubster napped with him and the boys wandered the ship with the friend they met a few days ago, Jordan. MIL was off on her own again...probably at the casino. We basically only see her at dinner time. She's a party animal. ;)

We danced and sang along to some great music on the deck and had a few beers. Then, the boys wanted to take part in the bean bag toss,so we headed down to the lobby to watch. Middleman scored 3 while Boy Oneder scored 10. Not enough to win, but they had fun. 

After a shower, we headed down to the sushi bar for our daily dose of sushi and a drink. Threepeat wanted to go to Camp Carnival, so he had a slice of pizza.  We took a couple of photos because it was our second elegant night and then we dropped him off at 7:00. The Punchliner Club had a show tonight...a ventriloquist who was really, really good!  We watched his half hour show and then headed down for dinner. Hubster wanted to check with Threepeat to see of hef wanted to join us for dinner, so he headed up to Camp Carnival while we waited in the restaurant. Surprisingly, Threepeat joined us. And I am glad he did because tonight, the magician came to our table during dinner. He wowed us with some magic before we enjoyed our awesome dinner. I had roasted chicken tonight while the others had penne, shrimp and chateaubriand. Yum. 

After dinner, we headed up to the Victoriana Lounge for the show...a Beatles tribute. Amazing. We danced and sang and waved our glowsticks like mad people!! So so fun!

We were in bed by midnight and we all slept like babies. Didn't even open my eyes again until 9:07. Sweet. I need to bottle some sea air and take it home with me. Sleep is really becoming an issue at home. :(

We ate breakfast in the restaurant again today instead of the buffet. The boys like the ambiance and it is nicer than the buffet. Threepeat couldn't wait for Camp Carnival this morning. They were face painting and Funship Freddy was going to visit. This afternoon, the magician from last night is doing a show for the kids, so we will pull him out for lunch and he can go back for the show. I wonder if he will nap today. Hmmmm....

Well, off to enjoy the last day of sunshine on this beautiful ship. 

Gosh it's hot!  It's about 3:00 on Saturday and we are at sea. I want to remember this feeling so I am typing it on the spot!  The sun is burning my skin, the deck is scorching my bare feet and the sunscreen is stinging my eyes!  And I love it!  Ahhhh I don't want to go home!!!!!!  At least we have another couple of days...sleeping over in Fort Lauderdale tomorrow night and our flight doesn't leave until 8:00 pm, so two full days in Florida. Sigh....

Joe and I had a fantastic dinner in the steakhouse on Saturday night, courtesy of Grandma. It was awesome with amazing food, great service and we left feeling like royalty!  It was an early dinner (5:30) so we ate, did a little packing and then joined the fam at their dinner (we just had coffee while they ate). After dinner, it was $1000 bingo time. Nicholas was ONE number away when five others called Bingo. Poor dude. He was soooo excited and then soooo disappointed! :(

After bingo, we headed back down to the cabin to finish packing (our luggage needed to be outside of our cabins by midnight). Then it was jammy and bedtime.     

We had ordered room service for the next morning, so Grandma and I had coffee and bagel/cereal while Threepeat snored away. we had to be out of the cabin by 8:30, so we got dressed and headed for the Lido deck. We were zone #30, one of the last groups to be called off the ship as we had no plane to catch, so we people watched for a couple of hours. We were called down at 10:30 and through Customs in no time. At this point, Grandma left us. She headed for Madiera Beach on a bus, where she is staying with friends for an extra week. The rest of us waited for our hotel shuttle, which arrived pretty quickly (20 minutes or so). One last glance back at the beautiful Freedom and we were enroute to our hotel. 

Ten minutes later, we were checking in. Hubster and I got the same room as last week (420) and Nanna and the older boys were down the hall in 426. We settled in and headed straight down for Einstein Brothers Bagels!  Yummy!  After lunch, we threw on our bathing suits and headed to the trolley stop. Beach time!!!

We spent the afternoon on the beach, jumping the big waves in the hot sun.  When we were all exhausted, we headed back onto the trolley back to our hotel. The pool called our names and we spent an hour there before showering and walking over to Bimini Boathouse for dinner. Good, but not great. 

Back to the hotel for some computer time. I uploaded all our photos while he boys checked their Facebooks and Threepeat played on the IPad. Middleman decided he was hungry so Hubster ordered a pizza from Papa John's. Lol. The kids love when we do stuff like order a pizza a midnight!!  We ate and then it was bedtime. 

This morning, we woke up at 9:00 and Hubster and I walked over to Einstein Brothers for take out bagels and coffee. After eating in MIL's room, we headed down to the pool, where I am typing this now. I had to sit in the shade because it is wicked hot. LOVE IT!! Pin It

1 comment:

Kate said...

So glad you had such a great time :-)

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