Wednesday 16 November 2016

The Glory Days: Half Moon Cay

Half Moon Cay is one of the most beautiful islands I've seen in the Caribbean. With its fine, white sand and crystal clear turquoise coloured waters, there's no denying that this island is paradise.

Half Moon Cay was a tender port. We woke up pretty late that morning, but we still had to pick up a number to disembark. We were waiting around for a while but ended up just being able to go ahead without a number because everyone was already on the island! We headed straight for the island barbecue. They had chips and salsa, hamburgers, hot dogs, barbecue chicken, couscous, coleslaw, salads, fruits and cookies. A good variety, and I pigged out.

During our first visit, we had gone on a horseback riding excursion. While it was a special experience, it was also unpleasant because the horses decided to empty their bowels when they got in the water. It was not fun having poop sloshed against your legs. This time around, we decided to relax on the beach. It was hot! The boyfriend and I were melting! We definitely envied those who had a cabana or beach villa. It's not cheap but the cabana and beach villa rentals are definitely worth it if you have a large group.

Such a beautiful island! Half Moon Cay was the first port of call on my very first cruise, which was on the Carnival Valor, so it has a very special place in my heart. It is now even more special, because the boyfriend became the fiancĂ© this time around! It was a surprise to me, and he couldn't have picked a more perfect place for the proposal. Nicely done, boyfriend, I mean, fiancĂ©!

When we got back onto the ship, we immediately cleaned up for our early dinner seating. We had a new table with no mates, not far away from our previous table.

Our dinner on day two... Bon appetit!

I love soup, so I always order soup to start every evening. The food was great, as was the service. Our serving team had three servers, Jimmy, Florina, and our head waiter... whose name I totally just blanked out on. Jimmy was very attentive early on and he always asked how we were doing. He loved hearing about what we did on land. Towards the end of the cruise, we saw Florina more. English wasn't her first language so she didn't make much conversation with us. We could definitely tell that both Jimmy and Florina were in-training. They had a lot of questions for our head waiter, and he was an impatient guy. He constantly berated the two of them, he didn't even wait until they were behind the partition! One of them would forget to bring the guest a fork or spoon for dessert and our head waiter would scold him for it. It made dinner very awkward for us. I hated seeing the two of them being scolded for such little things.

After dinner, we headed to the Amber Palace Theatre to watch the Playlist Production show, Getaway Island. The cast was amazing! The female and male lead both had strong voices. They got the entire theatre standing and dancing. It really shows when the cast has been together for a longer period of time, you can see the connection between each performer.

After the show, we headed to the comedy club for a good laugh. On stage were Chris Wiles and Jeff "Big Daddy" Wayne. Both comedians were funny, but I definitely laughed harder on the Vista.

We also stopped by the casino for a little while. I am happy to report the air in the casino is breathable on the Glory. I had difficulty being in the casino on the Vista due to poor air circulation. On the Glory, there were air purifiers (or maybe they were just fans) throughout the casino. There must have been at least 10-15 of them. It was a huge difference from the Vista! I wanted to be in the casino on the Glory!

There were so many things happening on the Glory - a deck party, dancing, and another deck party, but I was tired from the day's events. So off to bed it was for me... The next day will be spent at sea, stay tuned!

Wednesday 2 November 2016

The Glory Days: Embarkation

It's been a whirlwind of cruises for us these past twelve months. We've been lucky this past year. It's the most we've cruised within ten months - three cruises!

We came home with an offer for a free interior cabin on selecting sailings from the Vista, and we were ecstatic to to receive the offer - we had won a free cruise! We've never won anything before. So no sooner did we unpack from our European adventure, did it come time for us to pack up for our Caribbean cruise.

As we both work in the produce/grocery industry, we were only able to go during September, a slower time for the both of us. We had originally planned to sail on the Conquest, but the interiors were all booked up when we called to make our reservation. So, the Glory it was. The Glory is in the same class as the Conquest and the Valor, and the Valor was a ship we were familiar with - if you recall, our very first cruise was on the Carnival Valor.

We flew out on a red-eye, arriving in Miami on Saturday morning. We had been worried that Hurricane Hermine would get in our way, but luckily, she didn't, and we had no delays on the way to Miami. We took a cab straight from the airport to the port, a flat rate of $27, and headed straight for the terminal.

Carnival has this new thing called staggered check-in, now I'm not sure how "new" this system is (Note: We did not have staggered check-in on the Vista in May), but I had never been on a more disorganized embarkation in my life. This was worse than the Oasis last November. Basically, when you check-in online, you select an embarkation time. Passengers are advised not to arrive before their assigned time as they will not be allowed on board early. We chose a later time because we were worried our flight would be delayed. We arrived an hour early, and saw a huge line that wrapped around the terminal. We lined up immediately thinking it would take a while to get inside the terminal. There was no Carnival representatives to guide the passengers whatsoever. Our queue did not move for half an hour. When we decided to check out what was going on, we discovered that the queue was for passengers with a later embarkation time. It also meant we were not allowed inside the terminal prior to our assigned embarkation time. We all know how hot and humid it is at the Port of Miami in early September! Almost half the people standing in our queue had an earlier embarkation time, and could have just walked straight into the terminal. Needless to say, they were not happy about the lack of instructions. We were finally allowed inside the terminal at our assigned embarkation time. But we were not allowed to get our Sail & Sign cards just yet, we were asked to wait another half an hour in the seated area. Sigh. Hopefully, Carnival will get this sorted out for future cruises.

We finally made it onto the Glory at 2 PM. As usual, our first day was a write-off. We were tired; exhausted from the red-eye flight, sweaty from the Miami heat, and starving as we had not eaten since the morning during our layover - which was really "last night" for us due to the time difference. We headed straight to the buffet and we stuffed ourselves silly.

After our late lunch, we walked around the ship for bit. Two of my favourite things about the Glory was the Theatre and the Comedy Club. Plenty of seats! We certainly missed that on the Vista.

We eventually made our way up to the deck to take a few pictures of Miami. Miami is gorgeous!

While we were up on the deck, the captain announced that it was time for muster. Since we were already out, we decided to head straight to our station. Big mistake, we ended up waiting for forty minutes before it actually began. The Glory is an older boat, and the drill took place outside on the deck. It was stuffy and hot with no breeze, the crew was moving everyone back up against the wall, as they tried to fit more passengers in the front. An older lady almost had a heat stroke, and she had to be helped into the dining room during the drill. Unfortunately, it was a pretty unpleasant and frightening way to start the cruise.

After muster, we headed to our interior cabin to take a shower and a nap before dinner. This was our first cruise in an interior cabin, and certainly our last. Because the offer was for an interior cabin, we decided to stick with it as we didn't want to pay extra to upgrade (otherwise, it's not really "free"). The interior cabins are missing a couch, which is quite a bit of space. We also like to lay out our clothes on the couch, so we missed that. It wasn't enough space for the two of us to move around, and the lack of natural sunlight really got to us. We really missed being woken up by the sun.

We skipped the dining room that evening. We had visited the Maitre'D shortly after boarding, and requested for a table for two, which was to be sorted out on the second day. If you have any dining room requests, it's best to sort them out with the Maitre'D right when you get the ship. We've always had a pleasant time dealing with the Maitre'Ds on both Carnival and Royal Caribbean ships. As long as your requests are reasonable, they are very accommodating and understanding. We went up to the deck to watch the sunset for a few moments before suppertime. We knew we wouldn't have another opportunity during the week with our early dining arrangements. We ate a quick dinner at the buffet before heading back to the cabin to unpack, and catch up on our sleep.

That concludes our first day on board the Carnival Glory. Not a whole lot going on on the first day, but I assure you, there's a very exciting week to come! I apologize for the poor quality iPhone photos, our Canon Rebel T6S will come into play very soon! Stay tuned...