I thought I would put in writing my thoughts on this trip. My goal was to journal everyday.…well…that didn’t happen.
TUESDAY, AUGUST 18: Leave for Miami!
We woke up at 4:30 am and left for the airport around 5:30 am. My sister Charmin graciously dropped us off.
Now, let me tell you that I was very nervous. This was only my second flight and my first was way before 9–11. So I had no idea what to expect for the security procedures. Amy had never flown before so she was nervous too.
We arrived that the airport, found our check-in area (as we are passing lines upon lines of people going through security. Luckily I printed out my boarding passes and checked in the night before. All we had to do was go up, confirm our checked baggage and then get in line.
The line only lasted about 30 minutes I think. While we were in line, we ran into the Bride’s parents (Bob and Jody, and the Bride’s nephew Jonathan). They happen to have the exact same flight as us AND sat in the row right behind us. That was too funny.
When we passed through the checkpoint, we had to remove our shoes, place our bags on the conveyor belt and I had to take my laptop out and put it in a bin. We didn’t set off any alarms! Thank goodness. We headed toward our gate and stopped at a Starbucks for some water and muffins.
We then found our gate (at the END of the entire terminal) and waited to board (which was only another 30 minutes. So our time at the airport actually seemed to go pretty fast. I decided to take a muscle relaxer before getting on the plane, so I would be relaxed and perhaps nap!
We loaded onto the plane and took off. Amy was excited to see out the window. Luckily we didn’t have anyone else in our seat on the way there, so I moved over one so we would be more comfortable. I promptly fell asleep. Our flight took about 3 hours and 10 minutes. I awoke just as we were landing.
We arrived in Miami, and boy was I NOT ready for the heat. The heat wasn’t so bad, it was the humidity! After a few minutes you were sweating and feeling damp. Yuk! (And this was just the terminal)
We had some confusion with other passengers trying to find where our luggage would be arriving and no one on the bottom floor of the airport spoke english. We finally figured it out. We got our bags and stepped outside.
Okay, I thought I was gonna die! I was already exhausted from the plane, I didn’t want to sit there for another 30 minutes waiting for our shuttle to our rental.
We finally found our shuttle and waited for him to come back. He then took us to Advantage Car Rental. We were there for another 30 minutes (It was busy!) but we finally walked our with a Kia Rio. Red. It was a zippy little thing. Although after a few minutes on the road, Amy was so done driving. Miami drivers are crazy! (But at least they actually listen to turn signals!)
We headed to our hotel and checked in. Ran into the wedding party checking in as well. We headed up to our room and put our bags away and then left again to go get my tux.
After that was all done, we then headed back to the hotel and ordered some room service for lunch/dinner (which was fabulous! and our server was extra friendly). Then we watched a movie and crashed early.
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 19: Fun Day in Miami!
We woke up and had breakfast. Came back to our room and decided we didn’t really need to go anywhere so we returned our rental car and then walked back to our hotel (It was only a 20 minute walk but it killed my feet! They were sore and red).
We then ordered some lunch; vegged for awhile (I think I napped). Then we woke up and headed down to the lobby for the Manager’s Cocktail Reception (every night…FREE DRINKS!) and met up with the other wedding party.
After that we were treated to a dinner reception with the entire wedding party and guests (everyone got a gift bag of stuff). Great food, the tables were all set very formally.
(Side note: Apparently we had popular seats, because throughout this vacation people kept taking them, Whenever Amy and I would get up to do something, we’d come back and seats were taken. Even after other people told the “would-be-takers” that we were sitting there. But for the dinner that was okay, cause we got to sit with The Bride’s family (Mom, Dad, Aunts and Brother) and let me tell you, Melanie, Val and the rest of that gang, were a freaking hoot! I wish we could have sat with them for dinner on the cruise too. But we had assigned seating, so it wasn’t meant to be (But we did get to sit with people we didn’t know–which was interesting, because we got to meet more people and get to know them.)
After the dinner, they had an info meeting regarding the cruise and what to expect. We then headed to bed so we could get up early.
THURSDAY, AUGUST 20: Sail Date!
We woke up, had some breakfast and then packed up our stuff and met everyone in the lobby at 9am to all ride the shuttle bus over to the ship. Driving up to the ship was awesome, because you could see our ship (The Carnival Destiny) and it was HUGE!
We were let into the “side door” as VIPs with the wedding and we all got to go through security, check-in, and all that hassle before they let anyone else really in. We then got to sit in the VIP lounge and waited until US Customs cleared the ship for boarding.
We then were all able to board the ship, go to our room (and if they weren’t ready and anyone gave us any trouble, to use the magic word “Wedding”). That would allow us to get to our rooms to drops stuff off. Our room was in the process of being cleaned so we just dropped stuff in the closet and ran.
We then headed for some quick lunch on the lido deck. We mainly hit the gill and not the main buffet (we didn’t know about that until after we had already eaten). So Amy and I had burgers, huge hot dogs, chips, chicken fritters, and fruit!
We then headed over to the Criterion lounge for the wedding ceremony. The lounge was very comfortable and the wedding was very nice. Most of the bride and grooms family were on stage.
After the ceremony, they ushered us to the “Point After” Disco Lounge were we had a light reception and dancing. Then they gathered everyone in the rotunda on the stairs for a group shot. (We really wanted to purchase a group shot, just didn’t have any cash left over on the last day…well, enough to get a cab back to the hotel).
After that, we were free to roam the ship. We headed back to our room to change and wait for the “Muster Drill”. (The muster drill is where you grab your live vests and head to your designated muster station–ours was “E”. In a real emergency, we would then board lifeboats–women and children first).
Our room was all ready and boy did we walk into some gifts in our room.
We had a bottle of Sparkling Cider waiting for us, a chocolate cake that I pre-ordered for Amy for our Anniversary, two platters of chocolate dipped strawberries and confections (one from me and one from the people that handled the groups reservations), we also got 8 drink credits and 4 bar credits and a photo credit from our good friends Katie and Troy (THANKS GUYS!!!), we also had $50 credit on our Sail & Sign cards from The bride and groom.
(Sail and Sign cards act as your room key, your charge card on ship–everything is billed to your room–and as the way to verify you as a guest when you go on and off the ship).
After that, we then just kind of wandered the ship. We headed up to the SPA deck and waited for the ship to leave port. It actually headed into port to a bigger area, then turned around and left port. (Now this is where it gets fuzzy—too many drinks)…
I think we headed back to the cabin to change for dinner, then headed down to the Rotunda bar and had drinks until dinner where we met up with some of the other wedding guests.
Dinner was fantastic. I would have to say that the dinner in the dining rooms were much better than what you could find around the ship. Everything else was “good” but it wasn’t “Fabulous” like the food in the dining rooms was.
After dinner, we walked out on the spa deck some more and couldn’t get over how freakin DARK it was. Literally, you couldn’t see anything but the stars…It was kinda spooky to think that there are people driving this ship, in the dark, by instrument!
Then off to bed. We were beat! It was a long day.
FRIDAY, AUGUST 21: Key West!
We woke up just as we were docking in Key West. We had breakfast brought to our room. (You could fill out a door hanger and put it on your door the night before) So we ate, then got dressed and headed out to Key West.
As you leave the ship, they take your photo AND take your photo next to a “themed character” In this case…a pirate lady…very odd. We then went SHOPPING!
(Side note: all throughout the cruise they would have “picture spots” to take your photo. They would put your photo either that night or next day on these walls on one level of the rotunda and you would “hunt” for yours and then purchase it or recycle it. We “recycled” a ton, but we did walk away with quite a bit.)
We wanted to explore more of the different ports, but that heat was a bit much. The nice thing was that the ship would have “shopping channels” were you could get an idea of what shops were in port and where you could get “cruise only deals” (which I really didn’t believe). So we tried to plan our shopping stops.
So with that knowledge we headed our of the port area and walked up to Del Sol, which sells clothes and items that change color in the sun. We figured the kids would love something like that. It was the furthest spot away that we wanted to go, so on our way back we stopped at this little market area and got some trinkets. (We decided since Amy loves Christmas, we will try and get an ornament at each spot). So we happened to find one for Key West that had a cruise ship on it.
We boarded the ship and we decided to check out the pools. We were gonna go swimming, but they close all but one pool when in port and there was kids in the “adult only” pool, so we grabbed some drinks (Amy only drank water or pop the whole cruise…me…hell no! My drink was a Bahama Mama, I couldn’t get enough) and sat by the aft pool and looked out over the sea. After that we then went to our cabin and changed into our swim suits and with drinks in hand, we laid out on the SPA deck (almost the top deck) and sun bathed in an area pretty much all to ourselves. I think I napped. It sprinkled a little, but we didn’t care.
We then were leaving port, so we grabbed some lunch. We then did some shopping (they had the “Inch of Gold” sale, $1.00 or up for every inch of gold. I bought a necklace and then got2 bracelets for free.) We also bought some other small items and checked for photos.
We then headed down to our cabin and took another nap before dinner. This night was our Cruise Elegant Night. So Amy and I got dressed up, her in her Ball Gown and me in my Coordinating Tux.
We Amy got many compliments on her gown. Everyone was dressed nice, but very, very few were in actual tuxes or ball gowns as elaborate as our (that we saw anyway, I think I saw one other person in a tux, but I don’t think we saw anyone else in a full ball gown like Amy had. She also had on her “heart of the Ocean” necklace from our wedding. (I kept telling all our friends she was tempting fate!). But complete strangers would walk up to her to tell her how beautiful she was.
So for our formal night photo, they just happened to have the background of the staircase from Titanic. How fitting, so we made a beeline to that spot and got some shots done (Which turned out gorgeous). Then we ate. At dinner the waiters “sang” “That’s Amore” for the whole dining room.
After dinner we changed clothes and basically hit the sack, we were way too relaxed, so much so, that we were tired.
SATURDAY, AUGUST 22: Mexico Day!
We woke up and decided to try breakfast on the lido deck. We hit the buffet and had stuff like French Toast, sausage, bacon, fruit, yogurt, Danishes, etc. It was nummy!
We then did a little bit of exploring of the ship, but basically headed back to our room and took a nap before we headed to Cozumel (since the ship docked at 2pm and would leave at 10 pm.)
When we docked at Cozumel (early!) we left the ship promptly. We had our customary “off the ship” photo take with a Mayan guy and a Mexican dancer. We then walked down this really long pier and noticed that we were docked next to another Carnival ship…the “Inspiration”. Our ship was bigger.
When we got closer to shore we saw that another ship was docked up the cost, another Carnival ship!
The pier led us to a sort of Plaza “terminal” called “Puerto Maya”. It had shopping, restaurants, etc. It was really beautiful. So we did some shopping. I couldn’t get over how CHEAP everything was. One shop had 5 shirts for $20! It was odd though that in ever story the attendants would, well, “attend” to you and offer suggestions on items to buy, and when you chose something they would take it up to the register and get it ready for you.
We hit a few more stores, then sat at this little man-made, walled-off beach and just relaxed for a little bit. A guy came over and asked if we wanted a Pina Colada or if I wanted a cigar.
We then saw two Mariachi bands playing and these weird guys that at first glance looked like metal statutes (they were painted in gold/silver and their clothes looked stiff and shimmery) but were actual people.
We then left the terminal and thought about going to a beach, but weren’t sure if we had enough cash to get back to the terminal. So we sat outside the terminal for a bit, then decided to go back to the ship and swim, since it should be pretty quiet.
We boarded the ship, went to our room, changed into our swim suits and headed to the adult only section of the lido deck. We grabbed some pizza (we finally found where the 24 hour pizza grill was!) and then headed to the hot tub to relax.
The adult pool was closed, so we headed to the main pool. It was okay, but very salty. Amy got some in her nose and mouth and so after that we got out of the pool and just hung out on the SPA deck and sunbathed for a little bit, then headed back down to our room to change for dinner. I think we napped before dinner, but I really can’t remember.
Before dinner we looked out at the sea from midship on the starboard side and just relaxed with drinks in hand.
We weren’t sure how many people would be at dinner since it was Cozumel night and most people would get dinner on land. There was one other couple at our table. So we ate and talked and then decided to scope out the Karaoke in the criterion lounge. (Another couple the night before was saying how phenomenal most of the singers were). We scoped that out for about a half hour, and then decided to check out the Dance Party/Mexican Buffet on the Lido Deck. We scoped out some deck chairs and waited. Not too many people where there, but the band was pretty good. The Mexican Buffet didn’t start until about 11:30, so we decided to head over to the Palladium Lounge for the Main Show.
The Main Show was a Juggling act opener and a comedy act that was planned. The juggler was really good and funny (Dana Tison), with some awesome audience participation and the Comedian (Tommy Drake) was a freaking riot. We wanted to catch his “rated r” act the next night if possible.
After that we were kind of tired, so we decided to call it a night and head to bed.
SUNDAY, AUGUST 23: Fun Day at Sea!
Sunday was our day at sea, back towards Miami. We awoke and had breakfast on the Lido deck.
We then headed over for the Debarkation Talk to find out what we needed to do once we got back in port. Our Cruise Director Brent was funny.
After that I think we grabbed some lunch. My back was acting up so I went back to the cabin and napped; I was tired and had a headache as well. Amy went to the Build-A-Bear Workshop and made a froggy and got lots of clothes for it. She then came back and snuggled in bed with me and we watched the new Star Trek movie. (It was playing all day on our in room TVs!)
We then headed back up to the casino deck for some Karaoke. They had some good singers. Amy sang a song she hadn’t done before (and totally rocked!)
We then played the “Destiny Amazing Race” and tied for first place with two other contestants. So we won a trophy of the ship. We celebrated by sharing carrot cake and cookies at the Café.
I think we checked out some more photos, did some last minute shopping. Picked up my necklace (they had to add clasps and stuff). Possibly had some lunch or a snack.
We then headed back to our cabin to do some packing, so we wouldn’t have to do it all the next day. Then we headed back to the rotunda and sat at the bar and had a drink, then headed outside and watched the sunset.
We then had dinner, where the waiters then “danced” for us to “Jai Ho”. It was awesome! After dinner we were going to go see the more adult comedy show, but it was packed and we didn’t want to go to the really late one. So we headed back to our cabin for bed.
MONDAY, AUGUST 24: Back in Miami!
We woke up in Miami at 7:30 in the morning. We were going to have breakfast on the ship, but we figured it may be crazy and so we decided to just gather our stuff and leave the ship.
Well, that took some time. Since we were carrying everything off ourselves, we didn’t have to wait for them do call our zone number for baggage. So we stood in line and made our winding way around the ship and off the boat.
We then got a taxi and went back to the hotel and checked in very early. They were still serving breakfast, so we headed down and ate some breakfast. We then went back up to the room and chilled. I worked on photos and Amy headed down to the Hotel’s gift shop and found some ornaments from Miami for our collection. Then she came back up and watched TV.
We then headed down to the lobby to rent a car. (We didn’t know before the trip that the hotel had a rental company in house). We rented a car, returned my tux and then bought some lunch at McDonalds). We headed back to the hotel and turned the car in.
We had lunch, Amy napped, I worked on my photos. When she woke up we headed down to the Hotel’s gift shop to get me a pop (I was whining) and some food for dinner (they had frozen dinners and we had a microwave in the room). Ended up I didn’t eat mine, because I still had some McDonalds left.
We chilled, watched a movie, and then went to bed.
TUESDAY, AUGUST 25: Heading Back Home!
We woke up and Amy headed down for breakfast. I ate my frozen dinner from the night before. We packed everything up and checked out of the room.
We waited for the shuttle to bring us to the Airport. Once we got there, holy crap!
The Miami airport sucks. Completely unorganized compared to the Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport. There was one big line, and then it split to either Kiosks, or bag checkers. Well, you had to go to the Kiosk to print your tickets, and “check” your baggage. Then you went into the line for the checked baggage and actually ”turned in” your bags. But it was so unorganized, and there was one mousy little man trying to direct people (somewhat rudely).
Then once we got near the front of the baggage line, the mousy man starts looking for anyone going to London, so they could move up in the line because the departure time was approaching. So you had this gaggle of people all standing at the front of the line (most of whom DIDN’T go through the Kiosk line) and they were all from different countries and didn’t understand what anyone was telling them.
Plus, you had the First Class line cutting through. And all the Airport counter checkers were trying to be patient with people and be fair about getting people through in turn, but this one couple (with like 40 bags and 20 kids) kept trying to but in (they were going to London) while the husband was trying to figure out what they meant by him needing to go to the Kiosks to print passes).
We finally check our bags checked in, head through security (actually within minutes we were through) and then headed to our gate and waited.
We boarded the plane, and found out seats. We didn’t luck out and someone was in the row with us. But people were moving to empty seats all around and I was hoping she would move…she didn’t. I was tempted, but didn’t.
I couldn’t believe some parents though. This one couple had like 3 kids. Their girls were already sitting down by the mom. The dad puts his bag away, then sits down and makes his 9 year old boy (I think) fend for himself. So he is standing in the middle of the aisle and people can’t get past him and he’s futsing with his bag and the dad is just sitting there doing nothing. Finally the dad gets up and helps him put his bag away, but then kid still is standing in the aisle. Finally he sits down after a stewardess asks the lady behind him if she needs help and she says, “No, I am just trying to get through here”.
The trip back was uneventful, they did have to stop on the tarmac and reprogram the flight computer because of the weather.
I watched a movie and Amy slept.
We arrived in Minneapolis, headed to the baggage claim area, found our luggage and then called Charmin to pick us up. (She was nearby at a friend’s house). While were waiting I see another family, where they have their young kid pushing this big cart just full of like 8 luggage bags! I couldn’t believe it.
Charmin pulls up, we load up and head home. On the way home I am whining at cars to move, that I am hungry, etc. and Amy says to Charmin, “We should have just stayed in Florida.” And Charmin asks why, and Amy says, “Cause Bert didn’t whine at all on the trip!”
It was funny.
We then arrived home to a home cooked meal by my mom, signs welcoming us home from the kids. And we gave everyone their gifts. They loved em!
As we were pulling up to the house, Amy called and had the kids hid in my mom’s room and Amy talked to Riley and asked if he missed us. He said, “Yeah!” so she had him go open the front door and she was standing there. He got a huge smile on his face, then said, “Auntie Charmin is here” (She was walking up behind her). It was so funny.
All in all, it was a great tip. It seemed like it went on forever when we were there, but seemed so short when we got home.