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#2
Suffolk,VA
2,707 Posts
Joined Oct 2005
January 28, 2011 - the day had finally arrived. All preparations complete- car serviced for the water pump recall, oil, water and other fluids checked, tire pressure good, gas tank full. We had packed all the luggage the night before and only had to fill our thermos with fresh coffee and we were off. Departure time right on schedule - waving good-bye to the dog at 0815. estimated time of arrival at Kingsland, GA 6pm. Weather is brisk but sunny - a great day to travel. We are so ready for this time away. Looking forward to seeing old friends and making some new ones too. Let the fun begin.

Driving along with no cares. Traffic is very light ad the roads are clear. Making great time. Just past noon and we are 40 miles south of Florence, SC when the first adventure begins. Cruise control on the car kicks out and all kinds of lights appear on the dash. Quick- pull out the owner's manual and start deciphering all those little pictures. Aagh! Pull off highway and call the trouble number - get directions to the nearest Toyota Dealer - all the way back in Florence. Car still driveable but at a slower speed. Call the dealership in Florence, they will fit us in but it may take a while. Not a problem - just fix the car so we can be on our way. WOW!!! - What SUPER customer service. We get to Toyota in about 1/2 hour and they are waiting for us. They pull us right in to the bay and the Prius technician hooks up a computer to check out the car. Code after code after code appears. OMG - what can the problem be? Why is this happening now? must be a lesson here somewhere - help us learn it fast Lord. Good thing we left 2 days early. Options include rental car, plane, bus, limo - oh heck, we were just talking about getting a new car next year - just get it now if we have to.

After about an hour of analyzing the car the service manager asks if we'd had lunch yet. When we said no he offered to have one of his people drive us to a restaurant - such consideration - really appreciate the gesture but who can even think about eating at this point. Again - really great people and service.

3:30 pm - car is all fixed - recall water pump seems to have failed - they replaced it and there is no charge to us - grace, grace. Back on our way with just a minor delay. Will definitely be sending a letter to the company after the cruise - the entire staff was awesome....

to be continued...
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#3
Suffolk,VA
2,707 Posts
Joined Oct 2005
430 pm - traveling on down the road - nearing the spot where we broke down - YIKES! I don't believe it - all the lights just came on again - Bill immediately takes the next exit and we head back to Florence. I call the dealership and they say they will wait for us to arrive - they are open until 6pm. Taking it easy we limp back and get within 11 miles of the car dealer when the car just dies - now I really am near tears - call dealer again and ask for a tow truck - help is on the way - sure do hope we haven't blown the engine. Tow truck operator is a great guy - take heart folks - there really is hope for the human race - good, kindhearted people rally do exist.

555pm - arrive back at Florence Toyota and once again we are treated like royalty. The tech hooks up the computer to get the codes - and boy oh boy do they start rolling across the screen. I nearly lose it but then remember that there are plenty of options and 1 1/2 days to get to Ft. Lauderdale. Trisha helps us with hotel reservations and has already arranged for us to have the loaner car for the evening - didn't even have to ask - WOW! Talk about service that is above and beyond. Grace and favor abounds once again - these guys work on Saturdays and will begin on our car first thing in the morning. All we can do tonight is try to relax --- and pray.

Saturday 0600am - slept some - very restless. Just want things to go well today. Showered and dressed - checked out of hotel and took a short drive. Found the airport - just down the road - stopped in to a Krispy Kreme Donut Shoppe and watched the donuts being made - had never seen that before. Bought two dozen to take to the service crew - hey, I know it looks like a bribe but I am part of the MOB. Get to the car dealer about 9am - they have already located the problem and are working on the repairs. Now I start getting concerned about the cost for these repairs - I could just see a huge bill hovering over us. Well at least the cruise is already paid for - might have to curtail some of the fun spending....

1130 am and the car is ready - repairs done and test driven for 1/2 hour without problems - grace and favor once again - repairs are once again due to the recall - NO CHARGE to us! On our way - again.

1215pm - coming to THE SPOT - literally hold our breath as we continue driving. One, two, three miles past the exit and no flashing lights-- four, six, ten, twenty - looks like we're gonna make it now! YAHOO!!! We say yet another prayer of thanks and call back to the car dealer to let then know we are finally on our way. We promise to stop by on the way back home just to say hi.

Several hours of driving ahead of us now. Unfortunately we will miss the Bimini Boatyard Dinner - text Jane to let her know, call Rodeway to secure a late arrival status and leave Sandy a message. Upset that we won't be able to honor our offer to drive Ann & Gale to the restaurant but I now they will understand.

930pm No further delays or difficulties. Arrive at Rodeway - Sandy just happens to be walking in the lobby. Invited her to the room and we sat and chatted a few minutes. Time to sleep - very tired all of a sudden. We are really here - so happy.

Take a shower - I'll admit it now - first time I'm telling this part to anyone - I broke down and cried like a baby in the shower (that way Bill wouldn't hear or see me - didn't want to upset him) All the frustration just washed away -
Tomorrow - WE CRUISE!
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#4
Suffolk,VA
2,707 Posts
Joined Oct 2005
It's here! Embarkation Day! Finally! We have been planning this trip for 86 weeks - that is a long time folks - and now it is time to get on that ship and sail away.

Slept very well - bed was comfortable and the room was very clean. Super nice sheets too... One drawback for some was the lack of an elevator (and assistance with luggage) to the 2nd floor. Did not affect us as we were on the ground level - maybe because we got there so late... (Rodeway Inn - Ft. Lauderdale)

Up at the crack of dawn - get dressed and pack up everything that is staying in the car, double check all documents, luggage, etc. C'mon, ya'll know the drill - got to make sure we have it all.

Breakfast was okay - nothing grand but adequate. Cereals (hot & cold), juices, coffee, danish, fresh waffles - pretty standard fare. But who can really eat now anyway? Just give me some coffee and get me to the ship - the Lido Grill is calling me.

Free shuttle to ship leaves at 10am - if you want to pay $2.00pp they'll take you at 0930. So several of us opted to pay the 2 bucks and be on our way. Good choice!

We arrive at the cruise terminal - have never seen one so vacant - the crowds had not yet arrived. We were kinda early so we had to wait a bit before the staff started the embarkation process. No problem - we were keeping our eyes open for all the MOB-sters and their T-shirts. It wasn't long before they started trickling in. Embarkation was very fast and well co-ordinated. A very smooth process. We were onboard and enjoying the Lido by 11:15 am - earliest ever for us!

I gotta tell ya! I breathed a huge sigh of relief when my feet crossed the gangway and I was standing in the atrium - couldn't wait to pull away from the dock and be on our way...

We were able to drop off our carryons in the room around 1230 - the rooms seemed to be ready extremely quickly - good staff (little did we know just how well we would be cared for the next two weeks - our room steward rocked!)

Before we knew it the call came for "Safety Drill"- off we went to our station - soon we would be on our way. Now you all know just how tightly the crowd gets packed in for these drills. Well we were right up against the ship with 3 or four rows of folks in front of us. I'm having a good ole time just chatting with Robin,Terry and Morgan - Jane ended up a few folks down the row - when I glance over at Bill and he is as white as a ghost and perspiration just pouring from his forehead. My first thought of course was for him and his well being but then my next thought was - oh no - after all we just went through we are going to miss the cruise after all. Grace,grace - once again. The moment passed - not sure if it was something he ate (we still have to be real careful with certain things) or just the stress and strain of the past few days. Either way - it was another "adventure moment" to help us appreciate all the more the fact that we would soon be enjoying ourselves.

Sail a way was sweet - waved goodbye to cares and stress, put may face to the wind and prayed for peace and rest, friendship and fun for the entire group.

The rest of the afternoon and evening passed without incident. The MOBsters met at the aft pool bar - our hangout for the next two weeks and we reminisced with old friends and welcomed new ones. Folks were amazed by the physical changes in both Bill and I - thus the reason for no pictures in our roll call thread. Amazing what losing a couple (hundred) pounds (total) will do for ya. It seems that physical changes were not to be the only thing they would see in the coming days - we have changed in other ways too - for the good...
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#5
Suffolk,VA
2,707 Posts
Joined Oct 2005
Our first two days would be spent at sea. What a marvelous time to be able to reconnect with old friends and meet new ones. Our official meet and greet was scheduled for 10am on Monday. Sandy, our group leader, really did a wonderful job of pulling it all together. She was so organized and had lists of all our activities and cabin numbers for everyone. There were door prizes and Bill won a box of chocolates - Yumm - you know who got those. Sandy surprised me with a Cruise Critic tote bag (one of my pseudonyms is the bag lady) for transporting a good deal of her items to the ship for her. Oh - for those that don't know - Sandy lives in Canada and was flying in to the port - since we were driving I offered to bring her things down if she could get them to me. Saved a bit on airline luggage fees but it also meant she didn't have to lug an extra case or two around by herself. Imagine her thoughts when she found out we had that little incident on the way down - haha...

Our next scheduled event of the day was the Poker Crawl at 2pm. We were a host cabin and had so much fun. Bill dressed the part with a dealers visor and vest - the room was decorated with giant playing cards, twinkle lights, boas and other 1920's items. For our souvenir item I had poker chips made with the cruise dates on them as well as bags of "Planter's Peanuts" (we do live in peanut country). Both items were very well received. We all had a great time getting to mingle with our friends, see different cabins, share food and drink and some even won the money!
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#6
Suffolk,VA
2,707 Posts
Joined Oct 2005
I would be remiss if I did not mention a few things about the beautiful vessel we were so fortunate to travel upon.

The ship was in overall good condition. There were, of course, areas of wear and tear. The most noticeable to me was the decking in the pool areas - some definitely needed replacing. The cleanliness of the ship always amazed me. The crew was forever at work scrubbing, cleaning and painting. Perpetual motion comes to mind. There were no offensive smells that I noticed. Every once in awhile a whiff of "bathroom odor" was experienced but if one understands plumbing (DS is a master plumber - so was my dad) this is not unusual or unexpected. Never lasted very long and was tolerable.

We spent lots of time at the aft pool bar area and I am pleased to say the area was always well tended to. Dishes/glasses were taken care of immediately and tables and chairs were kept clean. Made for a pleasing experience.

Main Dining Room - hmmm- I was looking for all the "purple grapes" I had heard so much about. Well, they were there but I did not find them to be quite as obnoxious or obtrusive as others have proclaimed. I was told that they had been "toned down". There still is a tremendous amount of purple there.

We had originally been scheduled for late dining - our former preference. However, after the first night we realized that this might pose a problem with our digestion and asked to be switched. It took a bit of time but by late afternoon the next day there was a card in our mailbox acknowledging out request and reassigning us to early dinner. We were seated with a couple from Wisconsin and had several interesting conversations with them. The staff and service was good - not great or spectacular - but adequate.

We did find the ship to be somewhat cool most of the time. I usually carried a lightweight sweater or pashima with me wherever we went. The a/c definitely worked in all main areas and it worked especially well in our cabin. Thank goodness for the extra duvet under the sofa - slept really well that night.

We enjoyed so many of the lounges and other areas of the ship. Almost always found things to be neat and clean. The crew was very friendly and helpful - lots of smiling faces.

Our second day at sea was spent much like the first. A bunch of us ladies enjoyed Tea Time in the dining room at 3pm - the Piano Music was a nice touch but a bit too loud for my liking.

We made it to the aft pool bar in time for the 5pm L/C/R game and Bill took the jackpot of $36.00 - good return for 3 bucks.

Well that is all for tonight - maybe more later this weekend. I will be doing more detailed reviews of the first 3 ports we visited next.
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#7
Suffolk,VA
2,707 Posts
Joined Oct 2005
Our first port of call. St. Lucia is a very beautiful island but suffered much damage this past hurricane season. Much of what we had wanted to see had either been destroyed or was still inaccessible. Still - we did not come this far to not see some of its beauty. We did not book any of the ship sponsored tours this time opting instead to use private enterprises. Spencer Ambrose Tours was very highly recommended so we joined with a group of friends.

This tour is definitely not for the faint of heart. The roads on St. Lucia are very narrow - the paths are very hilly & wind precariously up and down mountainous terrain. The driver we had was fantastic - I couldn't have maneuvered 1/10 of the turns he did. There was not very much to see - not many stops or photo ops - we spent a good portion of our time riding up and down the mountain roads. The few photo ops we did have were, I must say, spectacular and DH did manage to get some pics. Lunch was included in this tour and it featured authentic Caribbean foods - jerk chicken, beans & rice, breadfruit. It was tasty and the amount was adequate for us (meaning the portions were small).

While we did get to see some of St. Lucia I was disappointed not to be able to see the waterfalls and botanical gardens due to the hurricanes. I must mention here that there was a "mix-up" in our time (ship vs. island) and our tour was not the full length we paid for. I was also disappointed that Mr. Ambrose did not take responsibility for this error - after all, running tours is his livelihood. Should he not verify docking times?

Again - the island was pretty but it was too much $$$ to just ride around for hours. I would have liked to gone to a few more areas where we could get out and really view things. I feel Mr. Spencer should have reduced our cost as he could not deliver what was promised. ie - waterfalls/gardens

My thanks goes to the cruise buddy who took the time to research and arrange this tour. We had a safe day, returned to the ship on time, and learned a few things too. Your efforts were much appreciated.
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#8
Victoria BC
8,172 Posts
Joined Jan 2006
Great idea for a thread, Poom. I'm enjoying your review.
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Sandy
"You're never too old to be young"

"To move, to breathe, to fly, to float; To gain all while you give; To roam the roads of lands remote; To travel is to live." - Hans Christian Andersen



P&O - 2 cruises
Princess - 2 cruises
NCL - 2 cruises
HAL - 1 cruise
RCCL - 1 cruise
Carnival - 17 cruises
#9
Sparks, Nevada
5,056 Posts
Joined Feb 2007
Poom, where is the rest?
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Laurie and JP
24 Hours in a day, 24 beers in a case....... coincidence? I think not!

10/2014 Carnival Imagination Sam and Jills Wedding Cruise
11/2011 Carnival Dream - Platinum Cruise
4/2011 Carnival Paradise - Catalina Ensenada
04/2010 Rhapsody of the Seas - Sydney to Honolulu
10/29 to 11/14 2009 Reno takes on Australia....the place will never be the same!
03/2009 Carnival Pride - Panama Canal
03/2008 Carnival Paradise - Baja Mexico
11/2007 Carnival Triumph - Eastern Caribbean
11/2006 Carnival Miracle - Western Caribbean
02/2005 Spirit - Exotic Mexican Riviera
01/2004 Carnival Pride - Mexican Riviera
04/2003 Carnival Elation - Mexican Riviera
NCL (3 day party barge - don't remember much )
10/1982 Carnival Tropicale - Mexican Riviera

NOB
#10
Suffolk,VA
2,707 Posts
Joined Oct 2005
Hope to finish the rest of this review this w/e. Was waiting on answers to letters sent to Toyota and Carnival regarding some of our adventures. Have received the replies and will pass it all on. Sorry it has taken so long hope ya'll will think it was worth the wait....
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#11
Sparks, Nevada
5,056 Posts
Joined Feb 2007
Thanks Poom. Looking forward to reading it.
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Laurie and JP
24 Hours in a day, 24 beers in a case....... coincidence? I think not!

10/2014 Carnival Imagination Sam and Jills Wedding Cruise
11/2011 Carnival Dream - Platinum Cruise
4/2011 Carnival Paradise - Catalina Ensenada
04/2010 Rhapsody of the Seas - Sydney to Honolulu
10/29 to 11/14 2009 Reno takes on Australia....the place will never be the same!
03/2009 Carnival Pride - Panama Canal
03/2008 Carnival Paradise - Baja Mexico
11/2007 Carnival Triumph - Eastern Caribbean
11/2006 Carnival Miracle - Western Caribbean
02/2005 Spirit - Exotic Mexican Riviera
01/2004 Carnival Pride - Mexican Riviera
04/2003 Carnival Elation - Mexican Riviera
NCL (3 day party barge - don't remember much )
10/1982 Carnival Tropicale - Mexican Riviera

NOB
#12
Delaware, USA
2,933 Posts
Joined Mar 2007
http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1371837
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Calamity Jane
"Why didn't we discover cruising earlier in life?"

RCI Sovereign of the Sea, October 24-27, 2008

Carnival Legend, February 7-14, 2010
http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showt...5826&highlight=

Review of Crusing with the Miracle Maniacs, Carnival Miracle
January 30 -February 7, 2011
http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1371837

Review of Our Cruise on the Carnival Valor,
Jan.15-Jan.21, 2012
http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1558535

Review:Maniac Reunion Cruise on the Carnival Breeze
March 2- March 10, 2013
http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1809932

Review: Freedom 12-13-14 to 12-21-14 Cruise, Calamity Jane; Shrimp, Seuss and Say It Isn't So
Revised Part I with a link to Part II
http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2142676

Review: Calamity Jane Takes PRIDE (11-15-15) In Having NO Calamities
http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2292021

Review Of NCL Epic Cruise 2-11-17 to 2-18-17
http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2466603





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#13
Suffolk,VA
2,707 Posts
Joined Oct 2005
Well hello again folks - here I am to add a few more notes to this story. Our second port of call was the beautiful island of St. Kitts. MARVELOUS!!!
No time errors - friendly and very experienced tour guides. Rose and Jim's Taxi service - HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
I cannot say enough good or nice things about this couple. They truly love what they do and are professionals. There were so many stops with lots of interesting photo ops. There was so much to see - a very interesting tour - not just the "tourist stops". Jim was the driver of our van and he provided a detailed and interesting history of the island, the people, and his life with lovely wife Rose. Jim is a native of St. Kitts and we were privileged to see his childhood home and hear such wonderful stories of growing up there. He and Rose have led a blessed life full of their own adventures. They will tailor a tour to your requests. We had a lovely lunch and spent even more time with both of them. I truly feel as if we have made new friends and look forward to going back to this island if for no other reason than to see these fine people once again. This was a great value for our money in more ways than one. If you are going to St. Kitts and want to have a great tour - look up Rose and Jim's Taxi.

Next stop - St. Maarten and Joyce Prince Tours - once again a time mix-up - not acceptable. Tour operators know we are all told to stay on SHIPS TIME - think I'll leave it at that. The tour itself was enjoyable. We had been to the island several years previously and looked forward to revisiting a few places. These islands are very beautiful and we always enjoy being able to see God's handiwork. One is able to lose oneself in the simpleness of life and glory of nature - such a blessing. We rode around the island, stopped at numerous plaes for excellent pictures, sampled plenty of "punch" and shopped. Went to a lovely linen shop where I was able to purchase just what I had been looking for (plus a few extra items) at a very reasonable price. Call me a happy camper!

This brings us to February 5th - a great sea day. Today was perhaps one of the most meaningful days of the cruise for me. (and a few others I'm sure) Today I had the honor of officiating a wedding vow renewal ceremony for Gary and Karen Parker. Tom & Denise opened their aft balcony to us for the ceremony and celebration. Such a joy to help a couple reaffirm vows made over 40 years ago. A committment between two people to love and cherish each other all the days of their lives - promises made before God and friends while standing with the sea breezes blowing and salt spray in the air. Life is good!

Sunday was another sea day and we enjoyed just being with friends and lounging around. The weather is holding up just fine. It is hard to believe that the first half of this cruise is nearly over. Later tonight it will be time to say good bye to some of our dear friends - new and old. Oh how we will miss you next week and wish you were staying with us. Perhaps next time.
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#14
Suffolk,VA
2,707 Posts
Joined Oct 2005
Transistion Day - Part 2

Here is where I may get booted off the boards but I have never been one to hold back or mince words.

I was not impressed with the service received from Cruise Critic and I would definitely not be quick to book another cruise through them. While it certainly was fun being a part of the group - I could have joined in any one of the activites without booking with them. Two of my main reasons for coming to this conclusion are:
  1. Replies to inquiries were very slow in returning - it seems the only time I got a quick response was when payments were made.
  2. In booking a B2B cruise it was the responsibility of the booking agent to notify the ship of this status for us. Not only were we not listed as B2B guests, but most, if not all, of the others booking in this group were not either. We found this out by going to the pursers desk on Sunday evening because we had not yet received instructions for the B2B procedures. Sandy, our fearless leader, had to give the purser a list of those of us who were indeed B2B guests. Good thing Sandy was so organized and had the info available. This to me is an inexcusable ommission on the part of the booking agent. Not pleased.
Negatives aside we did receive notification to meet in the atrium lobby on debarkation morning to proceed with our B2B. At around 10 am the group of us were escorted off the ship, taken through customs (no declarations) and then up to the counter to receive our new S&S cards. All of this took just a very short time and soon we were up on the Lido (having been re-escorted back onboard) enjoying a beverage and watching the reloading process.

As it got closer to embarkation time a group of us made our way down to the atrium lobby to act as the "unofficial" MOB welcoming committee. We cheered and greeted each MOB-ster as they came aboard - let the games begin!!!!

An uneventful (this time) security drill and a short meet and greet on the Lido was shared and before we knew it - dinner time. This week we would have the pleasure of dining with Ann & Gale and Karen & Gary in the upper portion of the MDR. The company was fantastic - sadly to say the food and service - well.... more on that a little later.
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#15
5,638 Posts
Joined Jun 2006
Jane's March 2, 2013 review.

http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1809932
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Tracy

My trips.
Disneyland 2001, 2006, 2010
Disney World 2003, 2005, 2007, 2008
Universal Studios Hollywood 2001
Universal Studios Orl. 2003, 2005
Knotts Berry Farm 2001
Sea World Orl. 2003
Vegas Sep. 2010, Nov. 2011, Aug. 2012, May 2014
Mount Rushmore June 2003(Drove through Saskatchewan, Manitoba, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, and Alberta)

IT ALL STARTED WITH A MOUSE
Click to see what ship to where.