Sunday, October 28, 2012

Our Carnival Liberty 2.0 [Party Cruise WOOOO!] Vacation, Part 1

First things first - I originally booked this cruise as part of a group, and did so over a year in advance. When it came down to the wire we only ended up with 5 cabins (the absolute min for a Carnival group booking, to get any perks or whatever). Then when full deposit date came around - six months before sailing - everyone dropped out but us. So. We were obviously no longer a group booking.

Fast forward to...I don't know, March/April. A friend of mine was looking to go on a trip for her 5 year anniversary with her husband, we ended up chatting and in the end they booked the same cruise as us. Which was awesome because I'm of the mindset that traveling in groups is always more fun :)

Here we are! This was taken on the second night of our cruise at what became our favorite hangout spot...the ALCHEMY BAR! From left to right - Rachel, her husband Josh, myself, and my husband Steve...

Of course as *soon* as Rachel & Josh booked, I called Carnival and linked our bookings together so that we would have the same table at dinner. We were all confirmed for early seating, anyway. I even called again about a week or a week and a half before our cruise to make sure the bookings were definitely linked and that we would definitely have the same dinner table. But...more on that later.

We left home on Friday the 11th and drove to Ft. Pierce, FL. It was a nearly-9-hour drive for us, and we worked a half day Friday morning, so we were exhausted...this meant sleeping in until about 9:30 Saturday morning, checking out right at 11, and driving the last 2 hours to Miami for a 1 PM-ish arrival at the port.

And yeah, we definitely drove through the city with "Miami" by Will Smith playing on the car stereo.

Now, because I totally sucked about this on every. single. previous. cruise. - I actually made note of when we got in line for security and whatnot. Yeah, I'm a geek, what can I say. But what with parking (D garage; ship was leaving from terminal E), unloading the car, and taking the shuttle bus over to the ship, we were in line for security at 1:33 PM.

The line had stretched outside and it was definitely hot out, but thankfully it moved somewhat fast. We were in our room at 2:26 PM and I'd say that only about half of that time was spent waiting to get through security (so less than 30 minutes). HUGE improvement from my Valor cruise out of Miami in 2005...two hours to get on the ship and most of that spent waiting in line in a giant, non-air-conditioned warehouse.

Unfortunately...the not-very-long wait to board was probably the most decent part of the beginning of our cruise experience. First, when I checked in they gave me a blue card. In itself not a HUGE deal, especially as this was only my third Carnival cruise, but considering they gave my husband a gold one I was obviously really confused. I mean, they had my past guest number when I booked. And I'd been signing into for months, where both my past guest number AND my cruise booking were listed. Under the same account, of course. When I asked the girl if she could fix it, I was told I'd have to go to guest services. Which didn't please me because on our last cruise guest services pretty much always had a line a mile long. But the girl checking me in - you know, at the place they print the cards - swore she couldn't do anything.

Then, in looking at my card, I noticed a second issue. Earlier that day Rachel had sent me a picture of her sign and sail card when she and Josh boarded. I had noted that they were in the Silver Dining Room for dinner, while our sign and sail cards said we were in the Golden Dining Room. I asked the girl who was checking us in why we had different dining assignments, but - surprise surprise (sarcasm) - she couldn't help us with that either. She *did* tell us to go to the Golden Dining Room "at 3:30 PM today" (yes, that is exactly what she said) to talk to the maitre d', and she said that all four of us would have to be there. I literally set an alarm on my phone and then we were off, on the ship and on our way to our cabin.

Our room was balcony cabin 6316 and sad to say that on this cruise I never got any pictures of it. We kind of made a mess of it almost immediately by unpacking a bunch of our stuff and it was never really clean enough for me to feel comfortable taking pictures. Oops?

After dropping off our carry-ons (by the way, *so* nice to not have to lug them around for an hour or more while waiting for our room to be ready - not sure I'll ever board a ship first thing in the morning again, haha) we met Rachel & Josh on the Lido deck for drinks (and food, for us). Guy's burgers had just a few people in line so I grabbed a "straight up" burger.

Yes, the burger was awesome! To be honest I was always a fan of the burgers Carnival had on the Lido, so I was a bit concerned about the change, but let's just say that we ate at Guy's a few times on this cruise.

Coming up: Guest Services.

Again. And again. And again.

Story of our cruise, not that we let it ruin the trip as a whole!

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