It was almost time for our cruise, scheduled for January 16, and on January 11, I had my gallbladder removed. Great timing, but my doctor assured me I would be fine to go on the cruise. On January 14, my husband drove me to Fairfield, Texas to meet Marie so I could spend the night before we were to fly out to Miami where we would board the Carnival Breeze on Saturday, January 16. I was healing well and the soreness was almost gone. I’m not really that tough, but you know you gotta do what you gotta do.
Marie’s husband Chuck took us to DFW to catch our flight out and help us with our bags. Luggage seems to be a huge issue for us. Marie and I have a difference of opinion on how many bags to pack, what to pack, and how to pack. She usually gets her way and we pack less and lug less suitcases, but it’s still usually a nightmare. And what is so odd is that usually if someone offers to help us, it’s a woman and not a man. Why is that?
We got to TSA screening and I sailed on through without stopping. It was one of the few times we have flown and not been pre-checked so we had to take off our shoes. For some reason Marie drew the short straw and was subjected to a body search. The TSA agent, which was a woman, had her hands inside the front of her pants and inside the back. She said it was because she had on baggy jeans. Seriously, she was not wearing baggy jeans. They were GAP boyfriend jeans. Give me a break. She should have at least got dinner out of it. I just stood there and watched and was glad it was Marie and not me. Hah!
The flight was great. We flew American Airlines round trip. The seats were comfortable, leather, and had an entertainment screen on the backs of the seats. We were able to watch television and movies both ways. But as usual, baggage claim was a nightmare. People everywhere were scrambling for bags and us trying to catch our bags on the conveyer belt. We only had two checked bags between the two of us, but we had two carry-ons plus our purses. We grabbed a cart and managed to load our bags on it and push it out to the curb where we took the shuttle for the Hampton Inn Blue Lagoon.
By the time we got checked in and got our bags upstairs, we were starving and exhausted. We ordered a Cuban to be delivered to the room – a Cuban sandwich that is. It was very good, but strange. Inside the hoagie bun was ham and turkey and sliced pork and pickle chips which is normal. But also inside and all around the sandwich in the wrapper were canned shoestring potatoes. I have never seen that before and it might have been good for extra crunch except the shoestrings were soggy.
The shuttle picked us up the next morning and took us to the cruise terminal. Our driver handled our luggage and we got through screening. I had a cane I was using because I didn’t want to risk a fall so the port terminal staff were kind enough to provide me with a wheelchair ride to get onto the ship. My ride ended at the 3rd deck bar on the ship. Perfect. It was smooth sailing from then on.
We took our drinks up to the lido deck to watch us sail away. Miami has a beautiful cruise port with views of the intra-coastal waterway, large beautiful houses and condos, and the area where Miami Vice was filmed. We found a couple of lounge chairs and watched Miami disappear as we sailed. Next was time for muster (our favorite thing, hah) which turned out to be rather painless.
As soon as muster was over, we decided to go eat dinner before we went to the casino. We chose to have the Any Time Dining because we didn’t want to have to be on a schedule. Plus we wanted to go to some of the specialty restaurants on the ship like the sushi bar and the Italian restaurant. I have no idea what I ordered, but Marie had grilled chicken, Caesar salad, shrimp cocktail and a sugar free dessert. She was starting out on the right foot but I was betting it wouldn’t last. The only thing I remember I had was the Caesar salad and apple pie a la mode for dessert. And I remember the pie because our waiter Vladimir said he picked and peeled the apples himself.
Then it was on to the casino. It was quite a bit smaller than the Carnival Magic casino and had less of the newer machines. There was one Ellen slot and one called Ultimate Wheel of Fortune (I think), two Wonder Woman slots, and some of the Asian themed machines. The rest were old type machines. Marie fell in love with Spartacus and played it a lot. I moved around trying to find one that would be good to me. Not much luck that first night or any other.
When we were on the Magic, the casino hostesses were constantly announcing jackpot winners, but on the Breeze, we only heard an announcement twice. But to be fair, we did hear by word of mouth of other jackpots. We just didn’t personally experience any. To be fair, we did hit a few $50 and $100 pays, but that only gave us a little to play on.
I enjoyed playing the tables while on board, especially Ultimate Texas Hold-em. I played with the same group of people every night and I really enjoyed them. Here is a picture of Jim with his unusual sun visor. Then there was Patsy from Boston who had a fabulous collection of Fascinator hats and she wore a different one every night.
Ultimate Texas Hold-em is really a fun game. It was a $5 minimum table and the least amount you have to play is your $5 ante and your $5 bet, but you can put $5 on the 3-card spot and another $5 on the 6-card spot, but most of time I didn’t play the 6-card spot. A 6-card hand is really hard to hit so I rarely bet on it. The main thing you need to know is that instead of playing against the other players as in Texas Hold-em, you are playing against the dealer.
There was a semi-live Texas Hold-em play in the casino bar, but I didn’t play. It is played with electronic modules and I just didn’t feel like trying to figure it out. I don’t understand why the cruise ship industry doesn’t include at least two tables of live Hold-em on every cruise. It’s not like there is a shortage of dealers and I’m sure space could be found.
We also met a lovely lady, a retired principal from New York City. Her name was Doreen Gardner. Marie had lots of interesting conversations with her.
Another woman, Nancy Sweet, was taking a vacation with her friends.
We cruised for two full days and landed on the third day in Turks and Caicos. It was gorgeous, beautiful white sand and turquoise waters and cold beer which Marie was good enough to go and get one for me. A lot of people took excursions like zip-lining and snorkeling. But we decided to just relax and soak up the sun and sea breezes. Not to mention people watching. It was a lovely day.
The fourth day we were in Dominican Republic which because we had been to Haiti, we decided to skip this port. I’m sure it was a mistake to skip it because who knows when we will get another chance to see it, but poor Marie had to put up with me sleeping until 3:00. Some people said it was run down and some said it was beautiful. We can’t confirm either one. Thinking back on it I’m glad we missed it because the Zika Virus was in full swing.
The fifth day was Aruba which was my favorite port. I have always wanted to see Aruba and was so anxious to get there. Unfortunately we didn’t reserve in advance a spot on the Sunset Catamaran Sail and it was full. We got off the ship and walked through town to the nearest casino. You are probably not surprised. It was very nice and we played with American money for about an hour. We wanted to go to the Hard Rock Café for nachos since it had been too long since we had eaten Mexican food, but it was closed. We passed up a casual seafood restaurant to make our way to the Hard Rock and didn’t have the energy to turn around and go back for seafood.
At the casino (I understand there are more than one) I saw one of the passengers on our ship hit $5,000 on a Sizzling 7’s machine. We weren’t there long enough to lose much money, but we stayed even. We shopped in some of the local stores and I bought a refrigerator magnet and Marie bought a Christmas ornament. From what we could see, it was a beautiful island and would really love to go back and see more of it. No one had anything negative to say about Aruba. One lady we talked to received a diamond ring from her husband which he bought in Aruba. Our husbands weren’t with us and I’m sure they would have done the same thing if they were there. Hmmm……..
Day six was Curacao and again I had a sleep day. Another big mistake. Every one said it was the best port of all four.
I think because of my recent surgery, the amount of walking we did the day before, and the fact that there was not a sail day between the ports, it was just too much of a journey for me. But a beautiful journey it was. When we were in Aruba, we were as close to South America as we had ever been and probably would ever be again. Curacao was north of Aruba so it wasn’t as close to the continent as Aruba. When we sailed out of Curacao, the captain put the pedal to the metal to make the return to Miami in two and a half days. It was a rough ride because they couldn’t put out the stabilizers with the speed we were going. I never heard of anyone getting sick and we were fine except for being wobbly. We took our 24-hour non-drowsy Dramamine and had no problems. You can buy it at the grocery store in the drug department for about $4. I wouldn’t think of taking a cruise without it.
We spent most of the last two days in the casino, along with a lot of the other passengers. One of these days we are going to see a show or two so we can report on it. No luck again, just fun. I played Wonder Woman and here is the video of my play.
One thing was a disappointment to us, though. On the last night of our cruise on the Magic, we received in the mail box next to our door an offer for a complimentary cruise which was based on our play. This trip Marie matched her point play from the previous cruise and I doubled my point play and we received nothing. It was quite a disappointment because we both know that Carnival made plenty of money on our play. I e-mailed Carnival about it and received no response at all.
When we docked we took a taxi back to the Hampton Inn. The taxi driver was very fast and as he made a U-turn in the middle of the street, Marie ended up in my lap. That ride was very cheap. Since we had no car we decided to walk across the street to an Asian restaurant. We had to cross four lanes of traffic and we lived to tell about it. We walked into the restaurant and the Asian lady behind the register got up and waved us in. We thought she was motioning us to follow her to our table and so we did until she opened the restroom door and went in. We started laughing and couldn’t quit. We made our own way to a table and sat down and giggled hysterically for at least five minutes. After we ate we made our way back across the four lanes of traffic, went to our room and got ready for bed.
The next day was a travel day back home to Texas. We again had baggage problems. When we got to curbside check-in, we were so happy that Miami had it. When they weighed my bag, I was five pounds over. I knew that refrigerator magnet couldn’t weigh five pounds. The porter asked me if I wanted to take something out of my suitcase, so I started jerking things out. Not realizing what I was doing, I took out my zip lock bag with my hair products in it which of course contained 8 and 10 ounce bottles of product. I handed it to Marie to put in her carry-on and neither one of us even thought about the fact that I would be over the four ounce rule. We were just so relieved that my bag was under 50 pounds. when we got to Security, our bubble was burst when the nice officer absconded with my hair products. I was just glad Marie was my travelling companion instead of my husband who wouldn’t have taken the dilemma so easily. Just one more lesson learned. When we got back to Marie’s she went to the store and bought me some small travel-size plastic bottles to hold my hair product for my suitcase. Hopefully, I won’t repeat this mistake. In fact we made a trip to Belk Department Store and each of us bought a lightweight carry-on suitcase with 360 degree wheels and maybe I can distribute the weight of my suitcases better. Time will tell!