#My1stCruise – Review

“My Date with Destiny”

Destiny1

Miami, FL – 11.26.2012

I’ve uploaded all of the photos to FB, now it’s time to write that review…I do plan on posting this on CruiseCritic as well, as that was a source of wonderful information for me in the 11 month countdown to #My1stCruise. Check back for updates, photos and more.

Carnival Destiny – Now in Drydock

imagesCANEPLWH

My Date with Destiny Journal

I’ll take some time and back it up a bit…I started a journal after booking My1stCruise in January 2012. I’d like to take the time to highlight some of those entries before continuing on with my review…This will help give an idea of my anticipation as it grew leading up to this momentous dream come true.

09/24/2012

62 Days Away

Wednesday, September 19th – Cruise is paid in full!!

Friday, September 21st Upgrade fairy calls with a balcony for $198+, we respectfully decline.

It seems like tomorrow! To some, they laugh when I announce the days left, but to me – the person who started at 297, this is right around the corner. I’ve ordered my “official” birth certificate as the one I have doesn’t seem “official” enough, so I’d much rather be safe than sorry. Getting TO the port is still up in the air. The lowest flights (today) seem to be originating in Nashville and going to West Palm Beach. With my mother already in Nashville, that may be a winner, winner chicken dinner, but that remains to be seen. My cousin has sent me a nice outline of a packing list, and as she vacations frequently and is a list person like me, I do believe I’ll go with that. I’ve already made pet-sitting arrangements for my furry children (Princess the beagle mix is going to Dad’s and Sassy the kitty cat is staying home with visits from her favorite Aunties). Is it sad that I already have my large suit case in my living room?! My boyfriend mocks me, asking if I’d like for him to take it to the storage in the basement and I tell him, “absolutely not! I’m only 62 days away.” The cruise was paid in full as of last Wednesday and now the only thing left to do, other than count days is to pay the final taxes for adding my Mother and our pre-paid gratuities. Now, where’s my end of the summer sales? I need some new swimsuits! And the only way I’m buying those crazy expensive curvy friendly swimsuits is when they’re on SALE. I’m just saying.

My mother and I are growing more and more excited as the days go by. I spent my lunch discussing some of our recent purchases and plans. Like myself, things are tight and we want to make sure we have everything we need prior to our cruise.

09/26/2012

60 Days Away

One way trips are coming down, and the total of both tickets (and luggage) equal about $260. I’m hoping that “holding out” will warrant us a better return, but you never know. I would prefer to purchase a round trip ticket, but it may be better on the pocket books to do the 2 one-way tickets. The flight for Allegiant Air is still pretty empty, so we shall see.

I’m reading on cruise critic about what NOT to forget when packing and thought it helpful to list things that stick out to me.

  • Power Strip
  • OTC Meds – Allergy, pain, aloe, Dramamine
  • Feminine Products – Just In Case
  • Travel Clock/Watch
  • Sunscreen/Suntan lotion
  • Over the door shoe thing
  • Candies for the stewards
  • Decorations for our door
  • Chargers: Cell phone, rechargeable batteries
  • Memory Card for Camera
  • Clothes Pins
  • Tote/beach bag
  • Air freshener
  • Cooler

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10/17/2012

39 Days Away

 

I’m starting to think a flight isn’t going to happen. Prices haven’t come back down and reality is, it’s just more feasible, although less desirable to drive. My mother’s friend must take time in extended road trips to lay down and rest, as she has a bad back so that will extend the already long drive. In discussions, we’ve decided that if we drive we will make the first leg the longest at 12 hours, which would put us right at Lake City, Florida. I’ve started researching hotels in that area to rest for the night and start again in the morning.

If we (and by we, I mean Evelyn, Doug and myself) leave around 8:00a on Saturday morning, that will put us outside of Nashville around 10:30-11:00 to pick up my Mother. From there we would proceed to drive south and hit Lake City, Florida around 8:30-9:00p to check into our hotel. Hopefully wanting to get an early start would be on their agenda and we could leave that small Florida town by 6:00a and make it to Miami by Noon. Just in time to hit a beach and then check into our hotel for the night’s stay. I was hoping to spend a little more time IN Miami, as I’d love to see Tiya, but we’ll see.

10/29/2012

27 Days Away

 

Thank GOD for great friends and buddy passes. My mother and I will be on the first flight out of Louisville come Saturday morning (only 25 days away). Yesterday the girls came over and we had a “packing party” which consisted of me trying on everything in my closet and compiling my suitcase… Here are some tips Baker gave me for flying (seeing how Mama and I haven’t been on a plane since I was in the 4th grade).

Flight Tips

  • 2 checked bags up to 50lbs
  • 1 carry on (roller preferable)
  • 1 purse/personal bag
  • All toiletries should be in checked luggage
  • You CAN check liquor as long as it’s not more than 70 proof – remember to pack bubble wrap
  • PURSE – any makeup/toiletries must be placed in a quart size zip-lock for TSA
  • Pack a “just in case” outfit in carry-on
  • If luggage is delayed – we’ll have to come to airport to pick it up

11/15/2012

10 Days Away

 

I am officially doing a single digit dance!!! I am 9 days away from starting my vacation. Yesterday I got my hair done and went to the airport to purchase my buddy passes, and it’s really starting to feel real! Every day I come in and look at my suitcase and the tub next to it with everything that I’m supposed to pack. Now, the fun part of making sure the bag is 50lbs or less and or finding another suitcase to use. I haven’t packed any toiletries or accessories, so fun stuff ahead! Ms. Shylonda is letting me borrow her digital camera and a carry-on, but I need to pick up a few things.

Memory Card

Cat / Dog Food

Cat Litter

(2) Keys Made

Pedicure

****Next entry will begin my REVIEW of My Date with Destiny****

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#My1stCruise – My Date with Destiny Review


I joined cruisecritic after the suggestion of my cousin and have enjoyed the boards ever since. I have read a number of reviews and decided very early on I would be doing a review of sorts as well. If nothing else to document my experiences and to help others relive their cruise experience through my words & pictures. I hope you enjoy!

A little background on the cruisers:
Myself, (Anita – 25), Mom (Charlene – 61) and Mom’s friends – Evelyn & Doug (50/55). My mother has cruised before, once when I was very young with my father. She won a cruise to the Mexican Riviera through a radio show but for some reason opted for a different itinerary and ended up going to the Bahamas instead. She remembers enjoying herself, the “flea market” and being terribly sick due to motion sickness, but little else. My mother’s friends and I are all newbies to cruising. They travel together all of the time, but I couldn’t tell you the last time my mother and I were on a trip together – oh yes I can. My 4th grade trip to DC, this was our first (and my only) time on an airplane, and it was together LOL.

“Vacation” was just a word I heard others used and have really never been able to enjoy one for myself – so I was definitely looking forward to getting AWAY. I love to travel, but it would always be for long weekends and just to places in driving distance (Chicago, Nashville, Atlanta, etc.) My mother and I both work 60+ hour work weeks (and that’s on the low side) so we were both anticipating this vacation more and more as the time grew close. I do believe my FB & Twitter friends were getting just as excited for me as I was sure to post often about our progress to Embarkation.
We booked this cruise January 25th, with the intentions of booking a “birthday” cruise for my Mother. My cousin and I had thrown a surprise 60th themed birthday party for her and her twin the year before so I was looking for a way to “top” that, if possible. I was seriously considering two cruises, both were around or on my mother’s birthday (11/04) but when my (beloved) PVP contacted me via phone she introduced me to a cruise itinerary I hadn’t even noticed. So, I narrowed down the search and weighed the options:

1) Grand Cayman & Jamaica
2) Nassau, Half Moon Cay & Grand Turk.

My mother didn’t really have a preference while I have always wanted to go to Jamaica so I was a little biased, but then after reading reviews and talking to a few friends who had already cruised, I opted for the one with the most stops! I just KNEW I was going to love cruising and there was always “next time” for Jamaica. A little more on that later…

2011 “Birthday Bash” for my Mother and her Twin:

Cruising has ALWAYS been a dream of mine and to finally make that dream a reality is a feeling I can hardly put into words. Just 2 years before I had completed a Dream Journal and I’ll include a picture of my “travel” page – with a big ol’ cruise ship on it. Alas, 2 years later – a dream fulfilled.

I’ll first do a snapshot for those who like to skim and get the “facts” – but will do a day by day break down as well.

Flight Details:
SDF – 6:00a Arrive 7:24a ATL – 8:40a Arrive 10:40a MIA
MIA – 6:30a Arrive 8:28a ATL – 10:33a Arrive 12:00p SDF
Hotel Details: Holiday Inn – Doral Area
Address: 3255 Northwest 87th Avenue, Miami, FL 33172
Winning Bid: $60/night
Average Rate: $146/night
Check-in/out: 11/24 – 11/26
Pros: Free parking, close to airport, free 24 hour shuttle to/from airport, some restaurant options within walking distance. If you have a car – this is a very convenient place, Mall of Americas was close, not too far from expressway and port of Miami. The staff was VERY courteous, very accommodating and overall made for a wonderful experience. If I need to be in this part of Miami again on a visit, I’d definitely consider staying here.
Cons: No free breakfast, PC in business center was very slow – I had better service on my cell.
Shuttle to POM: We used the shuttle service suggested by the front desk (Nia) and for 2+ people it was $12/pp.

NEXT UP….
Vacation before the Vacation….

Vacation before the Vacation

Friday, November 23rd, 2012 – Black Friday – It’s Finally Time!

Our luggage tags I decorated

My mother drove up from Nashville, TN and met me after I got off of work. I was so excited to see her! I had a few errands to run before flying out early the next morning, so we got started right away. My dad agreed to do dog-sitting duties, so we took my pup to his place, stopping to say hello to my sister on the way back.

Oh, did I mention I hadn’t officially packed yet? The one, who has a list for everything, including a weekend trip and what to pack, had NOT packed for my 8-day vacation. Everything was in a tub and out in the open, but I hadn’t put it in the suitcase just yet. I discovered early on that my adopted cat has separation issues – the last time I took a trip, she took it upon herself to mark my suitcase before I left. Needless to say, I was a tad nervous to pack until the last minute.

I was concerned with the 50lb weight limit, so we both used 2 suitcases each, leaving room in both for returning souvenirs / shopping.

I’m sure many can relate to the thought of not being able to sleep the night before you leave – and the same was true for me. I hadn’t been on a plane in 17 years, and I was thinking of everything and anything to make sure I hadn’t forgotten anything before leaving. The bed saw me after midnight, only to be back up at 3a.

Saturday, November 24th, 2012 – Can I Get A Window Seat?

Thankfully my good friend agreed to do crack-of-dawn airport duty. (Thanks JaKobi) He arrived right on time at 3:30a and helped to load our luggage, and we were off on our short drive to SDF.

It was finally real; we were FINALLY on our way! Nerves, excitement and a teeny bit of stress lingered in the air as I said my goodbyes and got checked in for our flight. We were flying Delta while Mom’s friends were flying US Airlines, they happened to be at the kiosk next to us, so I helped them get checked in as well. As we made it through TSA, we split terminals and said we’d see each other in Miami.

We made the cleared list for the first flight and were seated quickly in Premium seating. I was fascinated by the whole thing, it was as if I was flying for the first time all over again and I couldn’t help but watch the sites go by. Juice and snacks were served and the next thing I know the captain was telling them to prepare for descent. I just knew we had to stop in Nashville for some reason because we hadn’t been in the air that long at all, but sure enough we were approaching Atlanta at sunrise. I told the man next to me, “you mean to tell me I’ve been driving 6hours to Atlanta when I could’ve been here in 45 minutes?!” He laughed and shared he’d have his day full of airports as him and his son were on their way to Japan!

Atlanta at dawn

A quick walk from B27 to B11 and we were seated at our next terminal awaiting our connecting flight. Mom was so pleased to find they had smoking lounges in the ATL airport. Again, on the cleared list, we boarded the next flight only to have a seat between us in the back of the plane. Comfortable and happy as a clam, we were on our way to Florida!

Happy as a clam, can’t you tell?

Saturday, November 24th, 2012 – Can I Get A Window Seat?

I remembered my friend saying she loved Delta’s cookies, so I was sure to grab some for her.

I was fascinated with the sites from the plane, so entertain me as I share some shots.

And we’re HERE!!!! Palm trees, sun and WARMTH in November

I couldn’t wait to change my shoes!! I was in MIAMI!!!

I have a dear friend from high school who is doing her residency in Florida so we planned to get together while in Miami. It was nice, seeing how I hadn’t seen much of her since she left for Miami. When you’ve known someone half your life and they’ve always been “right around the corner” it’s an adjustment for everyone involved when they’re 18 hours away. So, it was nice catching up with the “Doctor”.

She agreed to pick us up from the airport; she was just a phone call away after we picked up our luggage. We just knew Doug & Evelyn had beaten us to Miami and subsequently to the hotel, so we were in no hurry. Funny enough, there was a “cold front” hitting Miami when I arrived, but 65 was a far cry from 35 at home. I couldn’t wait to put on my sandals waiting on my friend outside of MIA. We decided to grab a bite to eat by the hotel, but then Cracker Barrel won over IHOP so to Pembroke Pines we went (Broward County). I must say, after reading so many reviews of hotels in the area(s) it was nice to see some of the places I had read so much about.

My friend & I at Cracker Barrel waiting on a table…

Saturday, November 24th, 2012 – Can I Get A Window Seat?

After a leisurely breakfast/lunch we made our way back to Doral area (to help those not familiar with the area, it was about a 25 minute drive). We finally got in touch with mom’s friends (Doug & Evelyn) who actually landed in MIA after us and caught a cab to the Holiday Inn instead of using the complementary shuttle. They said their fare ended up being $28.00. Google maps says that the airport is only 2.0 miles from the airport, so be aware of this if you decide to take a taxi – it was not a “cheap” option. We had all caught taxis in larger cities (NYC, Chicago, Las Vegas) but they were much more reasonable, in my opinion.

Holiday Inn – Doral Area
We arrived to a busy lobby and a Christmas tree in the process of going up. I’ve listed some pros and cons earlier, but let me just say this: the front desk staff was awesome! They were accommodating, friendly and helpful throughout my entire stay. Not only did they arrange accommodations for a double room after we purchased through Priceline (which they don’t have to do), but they were able to manage an early check-in, shuttle services as needed, etc.

So, at 2:00p on Saturday we were able to check in and finally relax for a bit after a long morning of airports. I’ve read reviews that said the hotel staff was rude, the room wasn’t clean, etc. however I did not experience ANY of this during my 2-day stay. As a matter of fact, it was quite the opposite. This is a viable option for a hotel, especially due to its proximity to the airport, and not too far from the port – but best if you have a car to get around.

The view from our hotel room…

In front of the hotel there is a local restaurant – Doug and Evelyn decided to have lunch there while waiting for an early check-in. They said it was decent; prices weren’t bad at all either. While driving earlier that day we noticed a Ruby Tuesday just up the block and decided to go there for dinner. It was a short walk up a half block and then across the street. At this point, I really just wanted to do back to the hotel and attempt the sleep I didn’t get the night before, but we decided to venture around instead. Right across from the hotel is a local park – we didn’t go over there, but it appeared to be a nice place to spend an afternoon should you choose. Now, a “block” from the hotel – and I use the word block loosely there’s a shopping center with a Dunkin Donuts and some other eateries, as well as a service station that was open late.

My first sunset in Miami…

During our walk to Ruby Tuesday, look what I spotted… The Carnival Offices were everywhere, or so it seemed. LOL

Dinner at Tony Roma’s was just as I remembered – delicious! Louisville only had 1 Tony Roma’s and that shut down a few years ago, so it was nice to eat somewhere familiar (and close to our hotel). Our server was very personable and knew immediately we were tourists. I don’t know if it was the summer gear in winter, or our KY accents, either way – she made for a pleasant evening.

Next up…Dinner shots


FYI-I take pics of just about everything, food included. So, for those who love those food “porn” shots – hopefully you’ll enjoy this review!

After dinner, we returned to a completed Christmas tree up in the lobby… Very pretty!

And, although I only slept virtually minutes the night before, I was in MIAMI! And my dear friend wanted to show me around, so it was time to get gussied up and head out for a night on the town. Oh wow…The only pic I have is the “before heading out/bathroom shot” and I’ll share, well, because I told you I love taking pics.

Sunday, November 25th, 2012 – I Slept til When?!

Sliding in well after 4:00a, I only remember the shower feeling like heaven and walking to the bed. I don’t even remember getting IN the bed, or falling asleep for that matter. I had a wonderful time out and about with my dear friend and we were joined by another friend from undergrad who was also in Miami working on her Master’s degree. It was a mini reunion, one we’ll all remember. Apparently, I was out cold because my Mom, Doug & Evelyn had been out all morning and it was well after 1:00p before I was stirred from my coma.

The only thing I could think of (after waking up of course) was getting to the beach and getting my toes in some sand. I couldn’t tell you the last time I had been to a beach; I do believe I was too young to even remember. Every time I had visited Florida since high school, it was to Orlando or Tampa, or some other land-locked city. BEACH!! Must, see the beach!

So, as this was my only request, my friends happily obliged and off we were to head to Miami Beach.

Look at all of those Whale Tails!

Anyone on these ships that departed 11.25.2012?

Carnival Glory

NCL’s Sun

NCL’s Pearl


Driving down by Miami Beach, we decided to take in some sights. Again, I had the best tour guides (Thanks Tiya & Allisha).

And finally, a much anticipated moment — THE BEACH!

Let me take this time to share: as this was my first cruise, and first REAL vacation in quite some time… I wanted nothing more than to relax, unwind and put my toes in the sand… I’m so glad I had this opportunity, and ta-da…

The infamous toe shot:

My beautiful mother & I at Miami Beach…


And there goes the first ship…

Sunday, November 25th, 2012 – I Slept til When?!

I was so excited…. I’m standing, with my toes in the sand, at the BEACH and watching ships head out to sea. If it wasn’t real before, it certainly is now… I’m about to take #My1stCruise !! I could cry, I was so excited…

Anyhoo, here are a few more pics from the beach and the ships leaving POM….



My friend, Tiya and I…

My beautiful friends & awesome tour guides…

My friends, the new Florida residents are dressed more for the season, after all, it is November. My friends are in sweaters, and I’m in a tank top with flip flops. I thought that was funny…Now, to get some grub on South Beach.

But first, a few more photos, of course! …

This is one of my favorites!


Ahh, South Beach…

I literally, could not get enough of the palm trees – so beautiful.


The Versace Mansion turned B&B

As we were walking along, we decided to stop at one of the many “happy hours” – a selected menu at a discounted rate from the restaurant’s regular menu. I present to you, a suggestion from someone who’s visited Miami a # of times, My first Cuban Sandwich… ((It was just okay, lol))

After searching in all of the South Beach shops for something very specific – A Miami University key chain, no luck. We decided to head on back to the hotel…After all, the morning will bring Embarkation day!!

Lastly, I did not have breakfast at the Holiday Inn-Doral Area, however I did order from their restaurant this night when we returned to the hotel. I had the chicken salad and Mom had the quesadilla.


NEXT UP: EMBARKATION MONDAY! …

__________________________________________________________________________

Monday, November 26th, 2012 – Embarkation Monday, Fingers Crossed

A ball of nerves is the best way to describe us all the night before. You see, while running errands on Friday (the Friday after Thanksgiving no less) I ran into an issue with my state issued ID. Thankfully, as of Monday afternoon, we were able to get that settled. Although I was in Miami, it wasn’t a guarantee that I’d be on the Carnival Destiny by 3:00p. All the same, I’m grateful that I made it – as I’m here writing this review.

Mom, Doug & Evelyn took the shuttle from the Holiday Inn-Doral Area to the Port of Miami that was suggested by the front desk agent (Nia). It was $12/pp with 2+ people. Mom said they were there in no time, as the hotel is only about 10 miles from the POM. I, on the other hand caught a $40 taxi, but I didn’t complain – I was on my way to #My1stCruise!!!!

Sidenote: Again, I can’t stress how awesome the staff was at the Holiday Inn-Doral Area. They offer a complementary airport shuttle every hour and even allowed us to utilize this shuttle to go to a nearby Walmart to get snacks and such for our hotel room and the cruise. So, if I’m ever in the area again, I’ll definitely stay at this hotel.

In the taxi headed to the Port of Miami…

At this point, it’s well after 1p. In a perfect world, and after all the reviews I read – I had wanted to get to the POM early morning, but soon realized I had to go with the flow and all that mattered was that we were there. We made our way into the first set of security and breezed through and into the big room where you can actually see the ship through the glass.

After virtually no wait, we walked right back to the desk to check in. Here we opted to place cash on our Sign & Sail account as opposed to using a credit/debit card. I remember I had made a post about which was the best option – we went with good ol’ cash.

I MADE IT!!!

It wasn’t long before we were stepping onboard the beautiful ship. I could breathe. I made it, this is real and my Mother is with me.


Stepping inside the Atrium…

LET THE FUN BEGIN!!

We reported to the Lido deck for a much needed drink & some LUNCH.

Everything but the fries were tasty…


My first and one of only Drink of the Day – most had coconut in some form so I couldn’t partake after this day ((allergic)).

Monday, November 26th, 2012 – Embarkation Monday, Fingers Crossed

The music was going, drink in hand and food in our bellies – now, where’s Doug & Evelyn? They had shuttled here together, and Mom told them to go on while she waited for me, yet they weren’t anywhere in sight. They weren’t answering the phone and we were starting to get worried. It was already after 1 and the rooms were available so we tried to search for them there, no luck. Our room! Let’s try our room – 1157. No luck there, so Mom decided to try their phone again. She got through to Evelyn just for a moment, to discover Doug didn’t have his birth certificate (or Passport), for some reason he thought his military ID would suffice. They were in a room, awaiting it to be faxed, she’d call as soon as they were onboard.

Trying not to worry (we had done enough of that all weekend) we tried to relax.

Room 1157 – Rivera Deck

No idea why this was blurry…


In all of the reviews, I didn’t recall anyone mentioning this step UP into the restroom…


The goodies – that lotion is still sitting on my vanity actually…I use it on my lips prepping to apply makeup, lol.

Room 1157 – Rivera Deck

Mama trying to cool off…

Exploring the Destiny


Rivera Deck

Weird to know these details won’t be there the next time we sail her…


Some say they easily get lost on Destiny; however that wasn’t the case for us. Maybe it

was the convenient location of our room?


I’m on a cruise and the Christmas décor is up! Which reminds me, I hadn’t put up my décor before leaving…That is usually up on Black Friday in my house.


Aft pool – where our CC Meet & Greet was to take place after Sailaway…

After exploring (and checking in with Doug & Evelyn, who were now onboard and in their room) we decided to check on our luggage… and there it was!

Sailaway…

After watching all of the youtube videos and pics from everyone’s sailaway, I decided to hang out on deck to capture it all. This was one of the highlights for me, so there will be quite a few pictures. For those who have left POM, I’m sure not much has changed for you, but this was all new to me.

Sailaway…

Yes there was live music!! I remember reading a post here on CC saying they wish it would come back… Every time I caught this band, I liked them! ((They’re not there when I took the pic b/c of the DJ/line dances they were doing at sailaway))

Sailaway…


Yup, We’re moving!!


See that empty space….I think I’ll build my house there!!


Hey I drove by there last night!


The Miami-Dade Police showing us out…


ONE OF MY FAVORITE SHOTS


Sure, I’ll take that one too…

Ahh the seagulls…


Folks were honking and waving as we were leaving…

Would you like to live on Fisher Island? They ferry over every day…

Sailaway…


PS the name of the boat – almost my last name! lol.

We must be getting close now…


The open sea…


One of my favorites of South Beach…

Sailaway…


Last stretch of something before we’re out in the ocean…


Windblown & all…here I am


So, let it be said, I was snapping pictures while my mother was busy dancing closer to the pool. She even got some beads for participating in the contest of sorts.

I went to the aft pool area for our CC Meet & Greet but ultimately never seen anyone looking as if they were looking for me. So, I just decided to enjoy the sunset there…


Goodbye Miami…


I decided to hang out by the aft pool and just enjoy the sunset. I struck up a conversation with 2 lovely ladies I’d continue to see throughout the cruise… My mother tried the pizza, even though we were headed to the MDR soon, she said it was just okay, enough for a snack.


See, I didn’t see anyone looking for anyone, LOL.

It was back by the pool that I discovered a backpack someone had left. I set it to the side while I enjoyed the sunset, trying to wait for someone to reclaim it. After about an hour, no one had come by looking for their belongings and I decided (while on the way to our room) I’d just drop it off to one of the staff and be done with it. The bartender told me I’d have to take it to Guest Services, and then I was off to find Guest Services, LOL.

Again, this ship was not hard to navigate at all for me. We went down the aft elevators to 3, thinking we’d be able to walk right over, but weren’t able to. We ended up going back up to 5 (back by the comedy club if I remember correctly) and walked over that way, and down in the atrium. This was our ONLY time having to re-direct ourselves.

Guest services took the bag, and examined its contents. There were DSLR lenses as well as other very important items, I couldn’t imagine going through the entire cruise without them, or much less losing them for good. I was shocked when they asked for my Sign & Sail card and information. I just wanted to be a nice person and turn it in. The agent assured me it was protocol and I provided the info as requested. My Mom thought that was strange, as did I, but the agent said sometimes the people reclaim the item and like to thank those who turned it in. I wasn’t expecting that, and it never happened. I just hoped the proper owners found their bag.

We returned to our room and discovered our steward had turned down our bed and left our Fun Times for the next day. We decided to spruce up and head to the Main Dining Room (abbreviated MDR from now on). We decided very early on that we wanted that dining experience and opted to have dinner there every night. I promised food porn, and I hope I’ll deliver to your liking!

NEXT UP: Our 1st Night in the MDR (and food porn, lol)

Monday, November 26th, 2012 – Embarkation Monday, Fingers Crossed

Our 1st Night in the MDR (and food porn, lol)

I have all of the Fun Times from the cruise – if anyone is interested, I’d be happy to share. Even though she’s in dry-dock now, it’s nice to have bits & pieces of her Destiny Days…Especially with it being my first cruise.

We selected “Your Time Dining” and were very happy with that choice. The only night we experienced a wait was Monday (the 1st night). All other nights, the hostess essentially knew us by name and had our table (with the same server, as requested) every night.


The MDR – Main Dining Room, Floor 4

I happened to catch them as they kissed…The servers were singing, “Happy Honeymoon!”


For Starters: Spring Rolls

Monday, November 26th, 2012 – Embarkation Monday, Fingers Crossed

Our 1st Night in the MDR (and food porn, lol)


For Starters: Head of Iceberg

Main Entrée: Pork Steak; Cream of Peas (very good); Loaded Baked Potato (that we ended up getting with just about everything, every night, LOL); Mac & Cheese; Carrots… The pork steak, I’m not a huge pork chop/steak fan, and I think this was just too big for my liking. I was perfectly fine with just the sides and the beauty of it – I could’ve ordered anything else.


After Dinner: WCMC of course! LOL, this was my 1st cruise and the only thing ya’ll lovely folks talk about; I had to see what all the hype was about.

Dessert – Warm Chocolate Melting Cake = HEAVEN

I realize this picture is blurry; I was still adjusting to the settings on the camera. I just thought it was hilarious that they had Monday Night Football on the big screen. The Mister would have been happy, because the thought of missing a game is always a bit much for him.


Walking around the ship a little more… Mom decided to hit up the casino, and I was just ready for a shower and bed…

Wrapping up the 1st night…

Walking around the ship a little more… Mom decided to hit up the casino, and I was just ready for a shower and bed…

Our first towel animal!!! Our room steward “Blessing” was awesome!!!


Every night, I’d put the animal in the window…

I found myself up watching the water go by, listening to the waves. It was here when I took a moment to truly be thankful for this experience, release all of the craziness it took to get there and realized I was finally living my dream – a dream fulfilled, #My1stCruise.

Last photo from Monday – Like ships passing in the night…

Next up: Day 2: Nassau, Bahamas

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012 – Day 2: Nassau, Bahamas

Sunrise in the Caribbean

I remember being lulled to sleep the night before by the soft rocking of the ship as she set out to sea. We chose a cabin on the Riviera deck at the suggestion of my wonderful PVP (Laura). She said the lower, most mid ship you can get, the less you’d feel. She was right; it was the perfect amount of movement to let me know I wasn’t at home, but not so much to keep me up at night. We had started our vacation before the vacation by taking Dramamine when we landed in Miami to help prepare us for the cruise (as another suggestion). I had gotten a prescription for the behind the ear patches, but in all of the excitement prior to flying out of Louisville, I completely forgot to pick them up. That wouldn’t be an issue, until later in our voyage…More to come on that later.

Let it be said that my mother is an early riser, me, on the other hand – not so much. However, I was determined to catch at LEAST one sunrise while on this cruise. With a peaceful night’s rest, I stirred easily (or maybe it was the lovely wakeup call) and decided to head to the Lido deck to catch the sunrise. The TV told us when to expect it, and I called for a wakeup call (because, of course we forgot our travel clock). My lovely mother was up before me and had already gotten some coffee and had her AM smoke, but she came back to our room to make sure I was up and ready for our first sunrise.

Note to self: Pack more “casual” clothes. I’ll go into detail on my dos / don’t for packing later, but it was this early morning start that I realized – a track suit & jacket/sweater would have been nice. It was very windy on deck that early, and made for a “chilly” start. I was in the Caribbean so it wasn’t too cold, just saying.

We were due in port at 8:00a and we were right on schedule… Entertain me as I share some sunrise / pulling into port photos…

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012 – Day 2: Nassau, Bahamas

Sunrise in the Caribbean


I’m literally in love with the ocean…


Would you want to climb that ladder?! LOL

Another ship is already in port… It’s going to be a busy day!

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012 – Day 2: Nassau, Bahamas

Sunrise in the Caribbean


This is one of my favorite shots!


My Lido breakfast….eggs were just okay, French toast was DELICIOUS, and I’m determined that the Apple Juice & Lemonade are crack. I’ll go on a cruise, just for those.

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012 – Day 2: Nassau, Bahamas

My 1st Time out of the Country – Welcome to Nassau!

We didn’t have anything planned for Nassau, or any of the ports for that matter. No excursions, no sight-seeing tours, we just knew we wanted to see some of the sights and put our toes in the sand. Leading up to this cruise, I told everyone I simply wanted to relax, sit on the beach, drink at 11a (should I choose to) and look at men. Well, I had my fair share of all of the above, I’ll just say that. LOL. I had done a lot of research on all of the ports and we were off the ship, info in mind and off to find an adventure.

Getting off the ship for the 1st time… Ahh, the memories!!

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012 – Day 2: Nassau, Bahamas

My 1st Time out of the Country – Welcome to Nassau!

Our “Private” Beach

Stepping away from the port, headed to the welcome center we were met by tour guides offering their services. There were print-outs and pictures of all that we’d see, we even entertained the thought of taking the $60/per person 2-hour tour of Nassau, but decided against going with our first offer.

We stepped inside, still unsure of what we’d do that day and a nice gentleman was offering cab rides to Paradise Island, Atlantis, to the beach etc. for $6/pp. Mom and I shared a glance and realized this is where we needed to be. We asked a few questions – how would we get back, what time and so on and the man answered everything to our satisfaction. We waited for more passengers to fill his van, and before you knew it we were escorted through the courtyard to his parked taxi.

The van packed full of passengers was off for a day’s fun. A quick taxi ride over the bridge and we were on Paradise Island where a few passengers got off at Atlantis. I saw a number of resorts and made a mental note to Google some of them in the future for travel plans. The rest of us decided to spend the day at the beach and agreed to be picked up at noon. The driver told us anyone would be happy to escort us back to the port, but agreed to pick us up at noon.

It was still very early, I’d say just a little after 9a and we were walking up a dirt road to a public beach next to Sheraton Grand Resort. We were greeted with offers of beach chairs 2/$15, which we happily agreed to. We walked along the beautiful, sparsely populated beach and decided on the perfect spot for the day. The waves were crashing and a few kids were playing in the water.

The tide was very strong that day. I mean, while it was beautiful to look at, I attempted to “swim” and got only a few feet into the ocean before being tossed back on shore. One of the local merchants said the tide was even stronger the day before – 2 people almost drowned.

I’m not sure why these are showing up so large – I apologize folks.

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012 – Day 2: Nassau, Bahamas

Our “Private” Beach


This is the life!


Yes, my mother got action shots – whew. I’ll save your eyes from the rest… LOL. This is about as far as I got into the water because of the tide.

Our “Private” Beach


Yeah, no swimming for me!


So relaxing… You can see the tide is coming further up on the beach. And to think, Mama wanted to put her chair right there!

I had a “custom” anklet made… I can still hear her now, “heyyy fluffy gal, you want a ankle bracelet? We don’t discriminate against our big gals around here” – in her island accent. “We make these custom, you want me to fit you?” And she proceeded to sit down next to me, in the sand, I picked one that I liked and she started taking the necklace apart, fitting it to my ankle. After taking it apart and fixing it to fit me, she put it on my ankle. My mother also got an ankle bracelet and I got an additional bracelet.


Well, it’s time to catch our taxi back to the port…it’s just now getting busy! __________________


We wanted to stop by the market, and were told it was in walking distance but this was the only market we noticed (inside the welcome center).


Headed back to the ship…


Look, it’s our room!

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