Randy has been bitten by the travel bug. We have already taken three two cruises this year one on Norwegian Star in February, the second on the Royal Caribbean Monarch of the Seas in April and then a wonderful motorcycle trip up the Natchez Trace in June.
About mid-August he came into my workspace and said once again, “I found a deal that is just too good to let slide by”. The deal he was talking about was a 7-day cruise the first week of September on the Carnival Dream to the western Caribbean. This quick turnaround is one of the reasons it is such a good deal. It is perfect for people who can pick up and go on short notice. Although Randy is still running his computer business and I am still writing a weekly column for our local newspaper but we make adjustments.
I love cruising so it did not take even a moment for me to ask only one question, “When are we going?” The nice thing about this trip is that the ship was going out of Port Canaveral which is only a few hours from our home in Central Florida and many of the hotels in Cocoa have deals where you stay for a night and they allow you to leave your car in their parking lot for length of the cruise. They also have a shuttle that takes you to and from the port. How great is that?
We stayed at the Econo-Lodge Cocoa and ate dinner at Corky Bell’s. The dinner was wonderful and we turned in early. Check in the next morning was quick and easy and before you knew it we were sitting and enjoying the buffet lunch on the Lido deck. Rooms were ready by 1:30pm. I loved our room especially as it was a balcony room. The room was spacious with a queen size bed, sofa and coffee table. There was plenty of storage space. I was surprised how quickly our luggage was delivered to the room. Wonderful!
We headed up to the pool deck for the fun to begin as the ship sailed away from the port and headed south. We spent some time getting our bearings walking around the ship to see where we would be spending most of our time the pool, the theatre and the dining room. Then we were off to join in the fun on the Lido deck and the sail away party. The sail away is always fun with staff members leading groups in line dances and games. After watching for a while we finally joined in and had a great time.
One thing that really surprised both of us was how many children were on board. School had started in Florida in mid-August and most other schools would be starting the day after Labor Day. But I reflected that people had to take their vacations when they could just like my family did way back when. It did not take too long before there was a long line waiting to go down the beautiful water slides midships.
Traditionally the ship’s dress code is relaxed on the first evening as there is no guarantee that everyone will have their luggage before dinner time. We had our luggage so we decided to change before heading for the dining room. The menu was interesting. There was a section that offered the same selections every day, a section specific for the day, comfort food and heart healthy selections.
I noticed on the everyday selections was a gourmet burger. I don’t think I ever saw a burger on a dining room menu before so I decided to give it a try especially as the burger would be snuggled in a toasted Kaiser roll. The burger was wonderfully cooked just perfectly medium, moist but not greasy. The Kaiser roll was perfectly toasted giving it a nice crunch on the outside while soft and buttery inside adding to the moistness and flavor of the burger. Now what do you think I had for dessert? A wonderfully sweet ice cream sundae.
Randy had a grilled flat-iron steak that he loved. According to Randy it was cooked just right, tender, and juicy and had a good flavor. Unfortunately the rest of his meal was tepid and the asparagus was over cooked. But it only first night no rush to judgement.
We spent the rest of the evening just walking around the ship and then turned in early with only one goal in mind for the next day, go to the pool and read.