In the most recent portion of our 2016 Cruise to Mexico Trip Report, we had boarded the ship. So next it was time to sail away! Read on…
We went back to our room to wait for the mandatory safety drill to start. As with our last cruises, we wouldn’t have to wear our life vests to the drill, but we just had to show up when we heard the alarm sound. And once the alarm did sound, we joined the throngs walking in a very orderly fashion to our muster stations. We got to ours and were instructed on where to stand. Several people were complaining about the heat, and one lady nearly fainted because of the heat. I’m not sure how they planned to make it for the rest of the cruise, knowing we were going south where the heat would be even more intense.
I was also interested to see a guy going by with a counter to count the number of people there. He later explained that each muster station captain has to count the number of people in the station, and then they add it all up to make sure everyone is there. Again, this was different from on our past cruises, where they asked for your stateroom number and checked you off the list as you arrived, to make sure that everyone was there and to know for certain who wasn’t. I didn’t really feel all that much less safe this way, but it was interesting to note the difference.
The count must have been okay (do they have a certain margin of error, or does it have to be precise?), And the safety drill was declared to be over. They release one side of the ship at a time to keep everyone from going at once, and our side got to go first. Yay us! Take that, other side of the ship! We went back to our room and I grabbed my camera so that we could go up to the sail away party at the upper decks.
Once we got up there, the crowd was already there around the main pool area for the party. Not that big of a deal, because we didn’t care to see much of that anyway. We went up to the side railing to look out, and soon we noticed that we were underway. I’m still amazed at how these big ships can move laterally away from the dock and then start going forward. Pretty cool. We passed up the Carnival Freedom, which apparently would be leaving sometime after we did. So not only were we the first group to leave the safety drill, we were also on the first ship to leave. A day full of firsts, I guess. Yay us.
We passed that other Carnival ship on our way out. See ya!
Laura checks out the view as we are sailing away.
Next, we moved up closer to the front of the ship to get a better view of where we were going. We started off back in the Serenity area again. But then we could see some decks down below us, and we figured out how to get down there, partly for future reference. We found it pretty easily, but we also found that there weren’t any chairs there. Not that we were wanting to sit at the moment, but we were checking out places that we might want to come back to later. And if we wanted to sit, this wouldn’t be one of them.
Laura by the Serenity area of the ship. We would eventually spend some time here later on.
Seemingly all alone on the ship. And no, we didn’t have a Titanic moment.
Never look straight up at a bird. Up and over to the side is okay, though.
We eventually made our way down to the Deck 3 Promenade, which we discovered did not go all the way around the ship as it does on the Disney Cruise Line ships. Here, it is just a long walkway down each side of the ship, and the two do not connect. Some lounge chairs were stacked and tied up at one end of the deck, but someone had brought out some chairs from the lobby/lounge, so we sat in those for a while. It was a nice view, and we figured we would be out there more during the cruise since we didn’t have a balcony or window at our room. This was shady, covered, breezy, and nice. Just what we were looking for.
Areas like this are always favorites of ours on cruise ships.
Sailing away into the big blue sea.
Nice and quiet out here. Just the way we like it.
After a while spent looking out from the promenade, we made our way back up to the top, finding the walking track up high in the back. The sign said that nine laps around the track was a mile, and we did a little bit of walking to keep ourselves from sitting the entire time. The track went around the large funnel near the back of the ship, and I enjoyed the view of it from all of the different angles.
Going for a walk on the walking track around the big funnel thing.
By then, it was time to get cleaned up and changed for our evening meal. Actually, our scheduled mealtime wasn’t until 8:15, but we wanted to have plenty of time to check out the ship’s shops (say that five times fast - ship’s shops), and also possibly have our photo taken by one of the professional photographers. I had chosen the later dinner time on purpose since we usually eat somewhat late anyway. That would also give us more time to enjoy the daylight while it lasted and not have to rush to dinner.
At our room, we ran into Iketut again, who was starting the nightly turn-down service for the beds. He asked what time our dinner was, and we told him 8:15. As it turns out, we would have to remind him of that most every night, which was rather funny to us. He said he would come back and do our room while we were gone to dinner.
Once we were looking spiffy for the evening, we checked out the ship’s shops (You’re trying to say it again, aren’t you?), although we didn’t find anything we just had to have right at the moment. Lots of high-end watches and jewelry, clothes, and other stuff. Not much of the stuff we usually buy, I guess. We thought we would check back later on to see if any of the merchandise changed or if anything was starting to call to us.
We did stop and have a photographer take our photo in front of one of the generic backdrops. We had always been pleased with the photography services on our past Disney cruises, so we thought we would give it a try here, too. The photographer girl had us go through several poses, and she certainly seemed to know what she was doing, so that was a good sign. Unfortunately, the photos wouldn’t be ready until the next day, so we would have to wait to find out.
We then started making our way to dinner. The only downside is that we had to walk through the ship’s casino to get there. The casino itself wasn’t too bad, because we actually walked at the side of it, and casino games aren’t any kind of a temptation to us anyway. But the first thing we noticed was the cigarette smoke smell. We had run into that a few other times during the day, but it was especially strong coming from the casino. I guess smoking and gambling go hand in hand because all of the surgeon general’s warnings remind you that smoking is a pretty big gamble in itself. So we walked rather quickly.
We got to the Silver Olympian Restaurant just before our time of 8:15, judging by the crowd that was waiting outside when we got there. There never really is a good reason to be early to dinner at a cruise. They serve everyone at pretty much the same time, and your table is already reserved, so why be early and wait? We timed it just right because everyone went in to sit down right after we got there.
We had been wondering who we might sit with at dinner. Having strangers at your table can be a good way to meet other people, or the people can end up being rather strange. We have had both of those situations on past cruises when it was just the two of us. Not when we went with our friends. We wouldn’t call them strange! Anyway, we were shown to our table, which turned out to be a table for just two right by the window. A table all to ourselves! Not that meeting people isn’t nice sometimes, but more time for just the two of us is nice, too. Not sure how we were so lucky, but we didn’t complain at all.
Laura smiles at dinner, and not just because the food was good.
Our server Ed Mar came and introduced himself. He wanted to get our drink order, but we were happy with the big pitcher of ice water already on the table. We don’t drink alcoholic drinks and we didn’t want to pay for Coke, so water was fine for us. Next, we met our head server, Danesh. He greeted us warmly and told us about all of our dinner options for the evening. I knew that we would be in good hands with our servers.
Unfortunately, our view out the window didn’t last very long. The sun had already set by the time we sat down, and it got dark pretty quickly after that. But we could still see the whitecaps of the water out the window from time to time, as well as lights from the other ships out in the water, so it was all good.
I had a chicken quesadilla as an appetizer, and then sweet and sour shrimp with fried rice for the main course with ratatouille for my side dish. And melting chocolate cake for dessert. It was all delicious! And if I hadn’t been so full, I might have been tempted to ask for some more. Laura said her food was good as well, and we were quite pleased with dinner that night.
As we were about to leave, Danesh suggested that at some point during the week we get something off of the steakhouse menu, which was at the bottom of the regular menu. You would have to pay an extra $20 for those dishes, but he said it was worth it. I wasn’t sure that we would do that, but we did appreciate the suggestion. After going over the events of the next day and also our eating options for the morning, Danesh shook our hands and wished us a good night.
Even though we were almost too full to walk, we managed to make our way to the Venetian Palace Theater for the first night celebration. We entered on the balcony level, and we were fine sitting up there. A lively game of bingo was well underway, and we halfway watched that as we waited. I was interested to see that the girl in charge ran it all from an iPad, including letting it draw the numbers, and it would show on the big screen behind her. Ball cage spinners around the world are being replaced by modern technology. Oh well.
Bingo soon ended and the show started. There were dancers and singers, and they danced and sang songs. Frankie the cruise director had a good list of the top funny things people have said on cruises. There was a funny game with two married couples admitting to things. And there was some more singing and dancing by the dancers and singers. Can you tell I’m not that much of a show guy? I’m sure someone else could tell you much more about it if you are interested in all the details.
Once the show ended, we headed back to our room, tired from the long day. Iketut had indeed turned down the bed for us, and he had left the Fun Times guide for the next day, along with a lobster made out of a towel. I never have really understood the tradition of towel animals on cruises, but it lives on. Not that I mind it at all, and I am in fact amazed by how they know to arrange towels just right so that they look like animals. And this one even had little stick-on eyes. Does the use of eyes that aren’t a part of the towel break the towel animal rules? I guess we can let that pass for now, unless anyone has the official rule book to look it up.
Our towel animal lobster on our bed. Those eyes stare right through your soul.
While brushing our teeth, we were reminded of how rare it is to get cold water out of a faucet like we have back home. I know we have an unfair advantage at home in getting our water from a well so that it is always nice and cool coming up from the ground. I know that on the ship they don’t have a good way to keep the water cool so that the cold water isn’t actually cold. But it still takes me by surprise when I got to rinse my mouth after brushing. No big deal, it just reminds me to be thankful for what we have at home. It’s not like it was going to stop me from brushing my teeth or anything. That would just be gross.
As we went to bed, the motion of the boat gently rocked us to sleep, and we dreamed about what all fun we might have the next day.
Check back soon for our first full day on the ship in our 2016 Cruise to Mexico trip report!