I woke up a little later on the 7th day of the cruise. We were on our way back to Miami and it was the first of two sea days.
I had a good amount I wanted to do this day. There was the Behind the Fun Tour to do. I also wanted to scope out the water park, ropes course, and a few restaurants I had not yet eaten at. I found myself getting another breakfast burrito at the Blue Iguana. It was fast and easy. I needed to meet Andrew and the others at 9:30 at the Fahrenheit 555 Steakhouse to begin the tour. I had a little time go eat, then brush my teeth before setting off.
The Behind the Fun Tour. For those who have not done it, it’s basically a behind the scenes tour of the ship where you get to see areas that only crew see or the more secure sections of the ship. I had done this tour once before on Carnival Valor and enjoyed it. This being the line’s newest ship and a new class of ship for me, I was interested in seeing how this one compared. Meeting in the steakhouse was nice. There were drinks and pastries set out by staff for us to have. Many were there already when I arrived, including Andrew. A few minutes later, Karen and Cindy from my dinner table arrived as well. It was cool to do the tour with 3 people I knew. A short time later, The guide (a cannot remember her name) arrived. With her, a security officer as well. We were asked about cameras/phones, then wanded-down by the officer before setting off on our tour.
The first part of the tour was the galley and food storage areas. It was fairly busy considering the tour started not too long after sea-day brunch had begun in the dining rooms. Wait and kitchen staff were in a flurry of activity. You could see someone’s Fruit Loop covered French toast on the shelf ready for serving. We walked around the galley seeing some parts that I had seen before during Chef’s Table. The head soup chef gave us a run down of operations, what the color-coded scarves stood for, and how much of what kind of work was done. Occasionally, behind him I would see the head chef walking around and monitoring things. We were given fresh chocolate chip cookies and each given a chocolate covered strawberry,
Moving on from the galley, we toured the storage and freezer areas. Numbers of how much stuff the ship uses boggled the mind. As I stood in one particular fridge, I turned around to find the ship’s supply of aluminum-bottled Bud Light. I know how popular those are and it was no surprise to find they were well stocked. The freezer was divided into sections with the inner most being the coldest I have ever felt since living in Montana, if not colder, being that I was in a light shirt and pants.
From the storage areas we then were taken to the engine control room (we had been told that we would not see the actual engines. This will always be the case). Within the room were all sorts of cool buttons and computer equipment. Panels with switches and controls, walls of what looked like server equipment, video monitors displaying the actual engines and their parameters (which we found out that at that time, we were only using 4 of the 6). The crew who worked in this room were actually capable of controlling the ship separate of the bridge, should it be incapacitated. Looking at the “engine start” switches, I really wanted to see what it would be like to start such a large one, but this was not going to happen as we were not allowed to touch anything.
After the engine control room, we proceeded to the ship’s laundry. Massive washing machines churned away with bedding, table cloths, and towels. There was a line of large dryers that would have made most laundromats looked insignificant. On the other side of the dryers, were the linen dryers. Not only would the sheets be dried, they were folded, and then spat out within a matter of seconds. Granted it took massive machinery, but some in the group uttered the cliché “I wish I had one of those, back home”
Heading from the laundry rooms, we were then shown the crew mess (cafeteria). A fraction the size of the Lido cafe it was actually a comfortable area (if not preferable compared to the craziness of Lido). Along the outside wall were portholes looking out into the sea. Many of us chose this time to look out the windows because we had not been so close to the water. It was rather intimidating considering how it seemed much more calm from the passenger decks. A short walk down the hall was the crew bar. Like the one on Valor, it was rather small, but offered some creature comforts. A nicely stocked bar, a foosball table, and a few other games among tables and stools. This being on the opposite side of the ship from the mess, I spent most of my there a stool looking out the porthole. The stop after this was our guide’s office. She was HR staff and had some interesting tasks, including sorting out sleeping arrangements so people could sleep as couples or in case there were clashing issues. On the tables were photos of what crew cabins looked like. Small, with an upper and lower bunk, desk, small wardrobe and small bathroom. Probably less than half the size of a guest cabin.
After a chance to talk about crew life, we were taken to the bow of the ship for a nice photograph. As usual it was cool being out there, but very windy. This would be a great place to be on a starry night because of all the room and how far away from the light it is. Our guide talked briefly about the spare anchor and ships bell before we continued. Along the way some staff were around and had been discussing the passing of a guest the morning before when we were arriving in Aruba. Apparently a man in his 50’s or 60’s had suffered a heart attack that couldn’t be recovered from. I didn’t find out who (and even if I did wouldn’t say).
The bridge was next. One of my favorite places on board, the bridge was always fascinating. We walked over to the starboard bridge wing and looked over the equipment that controlled the ship. There was the glass window in the floor to align the ship with piers. This being a Dream-Class ship, the outer promenade prevented sight of the side of the ship when docking, so there were cameras that did the job instead. A short while into the bridge tour, the captain emerged. “Who’s ready for pictures?” he calmly asked. We all had our photos taken with him and then again as a group. Afterwards we were allowed a little bit of time for Q&A. The captain while not particularly in a bad mood, didn’t really seem into entertaining questions at that point though. We would get short answers or responses that seemed like he didn’t really understand (or try to understand) what we asked. The most informative thing we took away was what kind of ship had passed while we were on the bridge. The Coral Princess.
After a somewhat disappointing Q&A, we headed downstairs to the last part of our tour, the main show stage. We met with the man in charge of choreography and the cast. He went through all the wardrobes, types of dancing, schedules and practices. From there we went to the stage and met with the stage manager. He was in charge of lighting, effects, music (pre-recorded) and various other bits of work with the show. It was cool to hear how about how the large LED panels could be positioned and which shows required what kind of attention.
After our time standing on the stage, our tour was over. We were taken back to the upper level of the Sapphire Dining room where we were given a goody bag with a cap and lanyard we used while on the tour. We were also given a bar of soap that had been carved into a swan by the staff who performed the ice and fruit carvings on the ship. Lastly we were asked to fill out a short survey. As we did our photos were delivered and then we were allowed to disperse.
Getting back to the cabin, there were some chocolates left behind as a “thank you” for doing the tour. It had been the chocolate covered strawberries on Valor a couple of years earlier, but I wasn’t complaining.
It was well into lunch time. I had yet to try the BBQ joint that was only open on sea days, so I figured why not. Outside the starboard side of deck 5 near Ocean Plaza was Fat Jimmy’s C-Side BBQ. I had heard nothing but good things about it, so I decided to give a shot. When I stepped outside though, I realized that shot would take a lot of dedication. The line was ridiculously long, going almost all the way to the very end of the ship. “Good grief. This better be worth it” I said to myself.
It was a fairly long wait, but eventually I made it to the buffet. Pork, sausages, chicken, beans, cole slaw, cornbread, etc.. it was pretty much all there and damn, it smelled good. I made a plate of just about everything but the sausage and went to find what was a non-existent seat outside. Giving up on outside seating, I found a seat neat the coffee shop and had much lunch. There was a little disappointment though as the BBQ was ok, but not really all that. Not worth the hype. The best part was what Kim had enjoyed most on her Breeze cruise. The jalapeno cornbread. THAT was good, but the rest fell flat. To make up for my disappointment, I went all the way up to deck 12 to get a hot dog from the stand at Sports Square. I discovered that these were really good and it would not be the last I’d have.
It was mid afternoon and all the poolside dances and contests were underway. It wouldn’t be a sea day if there weren’t. I never really participated in any of the dances or contests because they were becoming lame. However this ship’s cruise director and entertainment staff were incorporating new dances into the routine and had a good way of getting everyone involved. That said, I still watched until I decided that it would be good timing to check out the water park.
None of the previous Carnival Ships I had been on had a real water park like Breeze. Mostly just one slide and a pool/jacuzzi for kids. This ship had 2 big slides, 2 small slides (for toddlers), buckets that dumped water all over the place, and hoses kids could spray each other with. There were screams coming from kids and adults who were getting drenched. It was a very hot day in the Caribbean and there no better idea than joining them. I decided to go for the big slides. I ran back to my cabin and changed into my trunks. I also grabbed my rental HD camera to capture me going down the slides. Running back out, I found one nearby lounger and threw my stuff on it. I took off my sandals revealing the near-scalding hot metal deck to the underside of my feet. I quickly ran across it and to the stairs for the slides.
The wait wasn’t long before it was my turn to go down the first slide, the one with the bowl at the end. Going down it, I gathered speed quickly before going into the bowl which I circled a few times before coming to a stop. I got up and then took the stairs outside of the bowl. I needed to try the other slide which circled and zig-zagged. After a little longer of a wait, down I went. Like the other slide, I gathered speed fast and cursed while being tossed around. One turn after another, it was hard to keep track of where I was going until I was out. I made a few more passes, laughing while enjoying my trips down the slides. Each time I finished, I’d make my way back through the park to try again, all the while being relentlessly sprayed by kids. Hell, I’d have done the same. I do have video from the water park that will be posted soon. After romping around the water park like a kid, it was time for a nap. I headed inside the cabin, took a shower and laid down for a while.
Early evening came. I was a little groggy from before and decided to head down to the shops and casino to kill a little time before changing for Elegant Night. As we had completed our ports and were heading back to Miami, T-shirts were on sale. Buy two for $10. I considered it but they were all pretty tacky. Instead I bought one for a kid I knew the next day. The casino was packed, I looked and found a couple open slots but most of the tables were packed. I decided I’d spend a little time and money in the arcade. It was mostly empty and I had figured I’d enjoy spending my money more this way instead of gambling it away.
A little while later, I ironed my clothes to prepare for the night. I chose to keep it simple and not that “elegant.” A while/beachy button-down, light blue slacks, and white vans slip-ons. It was the 2nd of these two “dressy” nights and people including myself didn’t care as much about it.
At dinner I sat with Andrew, Karen, Cindy, one of the women whose name I couldn’t remember, and a new family that I had not met. Lisa and Lisa were at another dining venue that night and I wouldn’t see them again. Our waiter Achmed was very entertaining and the food was excellent as usual. Conversation was good among us. This was the only night this cruise that I had the signature warm chocolate melting cake, with two scoops of ice cream (that I had learned from Kim).
After dinner I decided I would try to take some photos on the outer deck with my tripod. My fingers were crossed that the night sky would be dark and peaceful. It was anything but! The forward decks were super windy and the moon was very bright. The chance of me getting any cool shots of anything was nil because the tripod was no match for the wind.
Alas, that was that. I stopped by the comedy club that was too packed and then the club that wasn’t in full swing yet. Passing both by, I decided to just go to bed and then enjoy the next and last day at sea.