Article by Jen Lepkowski, Geneva Shore Report reporter:
A cruise can be a very fun and unique way to vacation as long as you are prepared and know what to expect. I, a GSR reporter, will give you my first- hand experience and thoughts. We spent the weekend before our cruise in Miami to give ourselves some extra time in case our flight was changed and we had any issues traveling, because of the weather or life in general. Those who did not leave early did experience some delays and troubles with canceled flights, delays and lost luggage. There were definitely some memories made and life lessons learned that weekend. I definitely recommend flying into your port at least a day early to guarantee you don’t run into delays and miss the boat. We arrived at the port and retrieved our luggage from the bus, headed to our terminal to get through security and customs. I was expecting chaos and long, slow-moving lines, but the process was fast and streamlined. We got through the line in about five minutes before we reached security. Our passports were scanned and matched with pictures that popped up on their screen to confirm it was ours, we went through the metal detectors as our bags were checked and off we go to find our ship. The whole process from getting our bags to getting through security took about ten minutes. As you travel through the building to get to the walkway to board, there was plenty of photo ops set up to help you document and remember your experience. The walkway to the ship is all windows, so you can look out as you make your way up to deck three to board the ship.
Once you have made it onto the ship, you’re overwhelmed with how big it is and what they really offer their passengers. We stood there in the lobby for a few moments soaking in all the stores, restaurants, and activities that were offered just in that one area. We adjusted to our surroundings, made our way to the sports bar to watch some games and wait until we could make our way to our rooms. Carnival offers an app that you can only use onboard the ship that allows you to text other passengers in your group, check your account, find a list of activities, a map of the boat, the times that everything is open and much more. We made our way to our room our suitcases were there waiting for us and we were pleasantly surprised with our room.
We were upgraded to an Ocean View Deluxe so we had two bathrooms, three twin beds, three closets, a desk, and a great window to look out of as we sailed the ocean. I was not expecting to have as much space as we did. We could easily move around and felt very comfortable. Carnival really does make you feel welcome and at home. They remind everyone that while you are on the ship we are all family, and they definitely treat you like family. The crew is what made the trip so wonderful and relaxing. Our room steward was constantly checking on us to make sure we had everything we needed, and that we were having the best trip possible. Our head waiter for dinner had all twenty of our names memorized by the end of our first meal and made the kids feel extra special by ending every dinner with a magic trick. The cruise director was amazing and I have never laughed so hard or felt so relaxed on a vacation before. There were activities and food 24/7 so no one was ever bored or hungry. I had some of the best food I’ve ever eaten on the boat. Everything was homemade and fresh and the dinner menus were different every night. There were so many choices, and restaurants to choose from I don’t think I made it to all of them. The staff was also wiping everything down and sanitizing everything from tables, chairs, railings and everything else on the boat so there was never a thought of uneasiness or uncleanliness.
Getting on and off the ports was much easier than I envisioned. The first port took the longest to get off. Once you make your way to the front of the line, they scan your Carnival sign and sail card and use facial recognition to let you off the boat. Then when you return you go through the same process to get back on the boat. The worse part was waiting in line. While you waited they had water and entertainment for you and made it quite the event. The kids especially enjoyed the waterpark, mini-golf, sky ride, and swimming pools. Trivia was also a big hit for the nights that we had some rough waters and couldn’t enjoy the outdoors. Every night there was a different show in the theater and they were fabulous. Each ended with an after-party in the lobby area that had all five floors singing, dancing, and having fun. Our favorite activities were the Hasbro game show and Lip Sync Battle. We got to participate in a live version of some classic Hasbro games such as Trivial Pursuit, Connect Four, Simon Says and Monopoly. The highlight though was Lip Sync Battle, which was the grand finale the last night on the ship. The two final contestants got to battle it out live, on stage, with costumes and back up dancers just like the television version. The theatre was packed, standing room only and was the biggest event on board. Carnival truly made every guest feel welcome and like they were a part of the family. I enjoyed every minute of our adventure and recommend anyone considering a cruise to go for it.