A Tropical BREEZE to Clear My Head – Miami

Morning yet again came sooner than I would have liked. I did get a little more sleep than the night before and was able to not make a mess with tissues and sinus crap.

It was roughly 5:30am when I was stirring, so since I couldn’t fall asleep, I took full advantage of my hotel room’s view of Port Everglades. As I laid in bed being lazy, I watched as the ships arrived. First was Independence of the Seas, followed by a Holland America ship, then Oasis of the Seas, with Liberty of the Seas being the last to arrive. There’s something very calming about watching the ships very silently slip into port when it’s still very dark out. You see them all lit up as their guests did before turning in for their last night on-board. After Liberty of the Seas settled in place, I decided to throw in the towel, or rather blanket and get around.

The hotel restaurant, Nanking, offers a very nice breakfast buffet starting at 7am. At roughly 7:30 brought myself and some Kleenex down for a nice early meal to get my day going. The food was actually very good aside from the sausage. Notable was the yogurt that they made on site which you could add seasoning or toppings too and was very good itself. There were also pancake, waffle, and omelet stations where chefs would make them in front of you. I don’t remember much about the price other than it being a little high, but I left satisfied.

Early into my breakfast, Andrew sent me a message to let me know that he had left and was going to be arriving a little after 9am. This was great timing actually because it gave me some time to shuffle some of my luggage before leaving. It also meant that we could stop at a drug store, so I could re-load my tissues and a couple other things before heading to the ship. After getting all my crap together and checking out, I took a seat outside and waited a short while before Andrew arrived. The weather was nice with a little bit of a breeze that was appropriate given that it was the name of the ship I would soon board. Sure enough, Andrew arrived shortly after 9am and we set off with a brief stop at a CVS.

Traffic was actually pretty light as we arrived in Miami. Ultra Music Festival was in town that weekend but mercifully was not taking place at the time we were there. Andrew had made a reservation with a parking garage for relatively inexpensive parking. On the reservation he made, he chose a time of 10am. We were a little early, but when we got there the person the staff was particularly rude in pointing out that nobody was to arrive before 11am. Both Andrew and myself had the full intention of being among the first on the ship and after being told with attitude to wait in a couple of spaces, we quickly made the decision to park in the deck across from the ship at port. Knowing it was going to be expensive, I told Andrew I’d cover half of it. Sure enough, when we arrived at parking garage D, we found the cost was $20 a day. That was steep, but at this time it was pointless to care. The lot was still nearly-full with cars from the inbound cruise passengers that had yet to debark. After driving up a few levels, we grabbed an end-space that had gone unnoticed by another car. We parked, got our stuff, and Andrew gave me 2 priority luggage tags he had printed out. He was Platinum status with Carnival (while I was just Gold). Since we were roommates, I was able to ride along with his benefits which included early boarding and luggage delivery.

The cruise terminal was already buzzing with guests arriving for our cruise. We dropped off our suitcases and headed for the security lines. There was a roped section for priority which seemed to go nowhere. We asked the lady at the entrance and got a sort-of confused look and half answer that didn’t make sense. So, we joined the line we thought was VIP, but was actually just the regular check-in line.

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After breezing through security, Platinum guests are able to stay in the Captain’s Lounge for a relaxed separate check-in. After being greeted, you had a seat and then they would call your name to check you in. This went nicely until we were actually in the process of checking in. You see, when you add a guest within 24-hours of a cruise, that guest has a hold placed on their account and must go through an additional round of security screening. Andrew was pulled aside for a short while, and I waited at the counter. It took a few minutes before his hold was released and we were both checked-in. After that, we headed upstairs to another lounge where VIPs wait. It was actually really crowded. March 28th was a popular week given that it was Spring Break for many. A lot of VIP guests were traveling with their families and it showed. The room was fairly noisy and I could feel anxiety and a headache coming on. I tried to relax with some of the water that was offered in the lounge but my excitement kept my nerves active. I was getting ready to board the newest Carnival ship that had been getting so much praise. It was hard to wait. At almost 11:30 we started lining up close to the exit. We knew we would be boarding soon.

At 11:30, the people with walkie-talkies signaled to us to follow them and all the crowd descended upon the hallways. Andrew and I were not as ahead as we would have liked to have been, but fortunately we cut through one hall. We also took stairs that ran next to the slow and congested escalator, bypassing many people. Once on the catwalk, leading to the gangway, we were among some of the very first guests setting foot on the ship, (aside from those who were doing back-to-back cruises). We had plans that required being on the ship first and fortunately things seemed to be working out.

Setting foot on Carnival Breeze was excellent. We skipped the lobby bar to head to the Red Frog Pub so we could be the first guests. Being first there means having a free pint and recognition from Carnival’s head cruise director, John Heald. We also talked about booking the Behind the Fun Tour. Those of you who may not have read my review from my Carnival Valor cruise, the tour is a behind the scenes tour of the unseen, working areas of the ship. To book this tour you must do so early because there are only two tours available with a max of 16 guests each.

As said, we arrived in the Red Frog Pub first. With all the anxiety I had a short while before, waiting to board, all I wanted was a nice cold beer. A fresh (and FREE) pint of Thirsty Frog Ale was perfect. We sat for a couple mins talking to the bartender and having our photo taken. After finishing the beer, we made our way to the Shore Excursions desk to book the Behind the Fun Tour. Even after making a stop at the pub first, the first tour was still open for several more guests. We both booked it and then headed up to the cabin to drop off our stuff.

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A couple issues here…

-It’s Sean, Not “Shawn”
-I’m not from Marco Island
-We didn’t intend to match (facepalm).

Lunch was being served in the Lido Marketplace Restaurant. I passed though and went right for something I hadn’t had in over two years. One of the Guy’s Burgers. I asked for a “Straight Up” with no onions and then sat down with Andrew who had found some company. Being terrible with names, I can’t remember who they were, but I had good conversation with these two women while enjoying my delicious burger. After a good lunch, I headed to the cabin for a much needed nap before muster drill.

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The cabin I had booked was 11275. It is a 1A cabin with upper and lower twin beds. As I found out when I entered, it was also a handicap accessible cabin with a large bathroom and sit-down shower. Cool, more room to spread out. Housekeeping had not yet opened the upper bed from the ceiling yet, so I crashed on the lower bed for the time being. I spent a few minutes signing in to the new wi-fi and Fun Hub app that Carnival recently released. It came in handy for keeping in touch on the ship, seeing activities, and monitoring my account. While laying down getting ready to sleep, I kept hearing this weird moderately loud “swooooosh” sound every few minutes. My initial thought was that it must’ve been the crew hauling luggage carts around the ship. No biggie, I thought as I nodded-off to sleep. I was tired and not much would keep me awake at this point.

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I awoke a little after 3. Knowing that the muster drill would be soon, I looked at the deck plan on the door. I realized that my station was the upper level of the Ovation Theater. This was excellent! All my previous Carnival cruises, muster was located near the life boats and we were packed like sardines in the heat. How nice it would be to have muster drill in an actual lounge where I could sit, and not be up against somebody who was drunk, stinky, overly-chatty, or all the above. This was great for guests who have trouble standing for long periods of time as well. The muster drill itself went by rather simply and quickly. When it was all over we were excused all at once. I figured this was okay because guests were more spread out over the ship, thus not needing to be released in sections.

Before getting ready for sail away, I met up with Andrew and we headed to the cabin real quick. The upper bunk was still in the ceiling, but I told him I’d use it and he could have the lower. While getting ready to head back out, the luggage arrived. Sweet! Noticing that storage was not really good in the cabin, I told Andrew I’d just live out of my suitcase. He unpacked for a little bit and I got my cameras ready. Sail away was going to be great because the ship would need to turn around in the end of the channel to then exit Port Miami. I grabbed a drink and made my way up to the sports deck to watch sail away. While up there. I realized what was really making the “swwwoooooooshhh” noise. It was the massive “Power-Drencher” bucket in the water park. Every few minutes, it would unload on people enjoying the water park below. A massive amount of water being dumped right on the area the cabin was below. When booking that cabin, I didn’t really think of the water park above. This was the first time I was on a ship that had something more than just a water slide. “Oh well, I’ll just deal with it I told myself.”

First Norwegian Getaway departed. Soon after, Celebrity Solstice (I think). It wasn’t too long before the water started churning around Carnival Breeze and we were on our way. I always call my mom on sail away and today was no different. As the ship began entering the basin where it would u-turn, I made my way down to Deck 5, aft. I stood dead center at the back of the ship as it turned around, waving to my mom on the webcam that was watching the ships leave. After the turn, I made my way up to Deck 5 forward. I said goodbye to my mom as we sailed past South Beach and into the Atlantic.

After sail-away I headed back to the cabin briefly to unpack a little. Within a few minutes, I got a text message from Andrew saying the ship wasn’t moving. “Uhhhhh, what’s going on?” I thought. A short time later, Matt the cruise director announced that we had paused to release the luggage of some guests who did not make it on board. A port-boat was going to pick the luggage up from the ship and bring it to shore… No biggie. Within another few minutes, the ship was back underway again, and so was I, setting off to explore the ship before dinner and see the sunset.

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One thing I always like to get when I cruise is a ship-shaped magnet of the particular ship I’m on. Thinking that because I was on Carnival’s most popular ship, this would not be an issue. Unfortunately when I walked into the store, what I found were magnets that looked like they were made on Zazzle.com. I asked the clerk if there were any hiding anywhere and she suggest I come back on the 3rd day when they restock. No biggie. I continued to explore the ship.

At roughly 8pm I met up with Andrew. He didn’t have a table assignment and I invited him to join my table if there was room. We waited outside the Blush Dining Room for about 15 minutes as the maitre’d was busy and the staff didn’t really want guests around until the dining room reopened for late seating. When it did reopen, I found the table I had been placed at was full, but table 600 was open. The Captain’s table. They said it would likely be for the night unless it was a good table. I didn’t mind the move and when others took seats, they were actually pretty cool people there as well. Karen, Cindy, and two girls both named Lisa. There were two other women seated there whose names I don’t remember, but they were cool as well, though occasionally there was a language barrier. 2 guys and 6 women is a nice ratio! I don’t remember what we all ate, and I don’t remember what I drank, but I do remember it was the American Table menu that I had not tried before. Many people weren’t particularly fond of it, and I was leery. To be honest though, it was good. The selection wasn’t bad and I do remember liking what I had when I dined there. After dinner wrapped up, I skipped dessert because all I wanted to do was pass out. At roughly 10pm, I called it a night… or so I thought.

At roughly 3am I was stirring and having trouble going back to sleep. I figured that since I hadn’t had the opportunity to take photos around the ship after boarding, that it would be a decent time to do so. I set off with my Nikon taking photos for 45 minutes to an hour, before returning to bed and returning to sleep until the next day at sea.

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