a gringo's take on fatherhood and other stuff

the clueless american


First Days at Sea

Posted on March 09, 2013 by TJ

Last one for tonight:

After watching the Mississippi for a long time, we attended the Camp Carnival orientation and then it was time for dinner. We chose early dining and were assigned to the Renoir Dining Room on 4 mid. Our waiter Gede and his assistant Imade were excellent throughout. I was a little bit disappointed with the seating because when the crew entertains, most of the action is on the 3rd floor where the anytime diners sit and we didn’t have much to see. Also, the windows of 4 mid would look out onto the liferafts, so they are covered.

A little Carnival hiccup with dinner: somehow Carnival’s computer system decided we were travelling with a 70ish-year-old couple, presumably one of our parents. We weren’t, but that glitch got us assigned to a 6-person table with only 4 people at it, fewer when one or both boys ate with Camp Carnival. On the second night, the Maitre d’ came by to question us about our missing parents. We had to work to convince him we weren’t traveling with anyone else. He was then upset the mysterious couple had skipped dinner twice without bothering to notify him. If they showed up to dinner the first night, I can’t really fault them for seeing the two boys and quietly moving on without saying anything. After all, they were not related to us despite the insistence of the Maitre d’ :) Despite the troubles, Jan (Pronounced Ian) was super-friendly and gave a us a good recommendation for Doctor’s Cave Beach on Jamaica.

I’ve read a lot of lukewarm reviews about the food and I would tend to agree. Not bad considering how many people they’re feeding at once, but nothing spectacular either. In general, hot foods arrived slightly warm. The only steam I remember seeing at the table is when I had hot coffee. Although I should have expected it, I was surprised to see nearly everything from the dining room menu at the Lido buffet. Other than the friendly and attentive waiter service I don’t think there was a large benefit to choosing the dining room over the buffet. In fact the buffet items might be a little hotter since you can get them right off the heating tray.

As others have reported, the dress code was very loosely followed. I saw just about every “not permitted” item in the dining room and swimsuits in the Lido buffet. I honestly didn’t see the big deal with swimwear in the Lido buffet since it sits right between two pools. I think it’s a bit optimistic to expect a deck full of swimmers to run back to the room and change before stepping in the door to get an ice cream or a lemonade.

In an effort to finish this review sometime before the end of time, I’m going to try to speed along a bit. The two days at sea were fairly rough, enough that the crew kept promising it’s not usually like this. Starting right after we exited the Mississippi, the Captain’s Suite shuddered every time the ship hit a wave a certain way. If you’ve ever lived near an artillery range (I have), it was kind of like that: a loud boom like we hit something along with the whole cabin rattling and shuddering. Despite the roughness the days got better as we went along. The first sea day was warm enough to wear shorts with the sun up, and the second day was approaching hot.

I posted several questions on John Heald’s Facebook page before departure, and as a result Carnival surprised us with a ship on a stick and bottle of champagne on the first sea day. I honestly wasn’t posting asking for a gift, but I think the entertainment department must send something to everyone who posts there.

The first days sort of blurred together with lots of reading, a nap every day, and the occasional nip of rum in our cokes. The first sea day we attended the Brits show after dinner and were surprised to see Max and the others his age sitting two rows in front of us. By the by, for anyone who was there, Max was the “young man” trying to answer the question about the game conquers. He actually learned about that game in school and was trying to answer, but the senior citizen who thought he was the young man kept yelling over him ;)

From a musical standpoint the Brits seemed well done, but the whole live action and cartoon mix didn’t work for us. For large portions of the show we were sitting in the theater watching a cartoon sing a prerecorded track with no live people in sight. Even if there was someone backstage singing for the cartoon, it was strange. We’d attended every show of the other 3 cruises but decided the Carnival shows weren’t quite for us.

One thing that was very much for me was the Alchemy Bar. I wanted to try it after reading the menu on Zydecocruiser.net. We were lucky to get the “Master Mixologist” on our first visit. She made all her drinks without having to measure, and they tasted great. As someone who generally sticks to either beer or rum and coke, I appreciated that she could talk me into trying new things. I would have spent a lot more time there, but Elle doesn’t really drink so I try not to drag her to bars too much :) The Alchemy Bar was also one of the few places we wound up talking with fellow cruisers, something we enjoyed on our other cruises where we always sat with a group of strangers at dinners.

I realize I’ve been rambling the last two days, but it should be a bit more structured when I get to the three ports. Please post any specific questions you have and I’ll try to answer them. Thanks again for the encouragement, and the help identifying the Jackson Barracks and the Chalmette battlefield.

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