After passing out just a little bit early the night before, Sunshine and I were awake before 6am on Sunday morning. For me, this was the perfect time to head out and get some exercise done.
So off we went…before the sun even touched the sky…to the walking track that was located behind the hotel.
As the sun slowly rose behind the hotel, we could begin to see just how beautiful the track was. It went around a small pond and included small rock structures, waterfalls, and palm trees. When the sun fully illuminated the world around us, we could then get a full appreciation of just how awesome it was.
Once exercising was over we grabbed some breakfast, got changed, and started waiting around until it was time to leave.
Because we had paid for Carnival to take us to the port (and we didn’t want to take any chances), we decided to not use the hotel’s courtesy shuttle to the port and instead went back to the airport to meet up with them. We immediately found some Carnival staff and were directed to a waiting area as they took our information. The bus arrived shortly thereafter and we were off!
The port in Tampa looked really nice and appeared to be a place where you could spend a lot of time if you were coming in on your own. Upon arriving, though, we saw a HUGE line-up that had to be several hundred people long and went around the block. That was a little disheartening to see, but we hoped it would move along quickly.
Much like the line-ups in the Miami port last year, it moved along VERY quickly and we were inside within five to ten minutes. Of course, the line lasted another half hour before we finally walked on board the ship itself, but we were always moving and I had no issues with the wait considering over 2,200 people were expected to get on board at the same time. We really weren’t in any hurry and kept ourselves amused.
We had a sense of deja vu as we entered our cabin (which was ready by the time we got on board). It was practically identical to the one we used last year, so we were calmed by a sense of recognition.
We headed up to Lido Deck to grab some lunch and start taking a tour of the ship. We learned last year that it would make things a LOT easier to kind of tour around the ship while most people went up top to lay by the pool and watch us pull out of port. So we slowly took our time and tried to get to know the ship a little bit better.
We made our way upstairs to the Serenity Lounge area, which was located on the back of the ship. It’s an adult-only spot that’s simply one of the greatest, most relaxing places on the entire ship.
One of the great things about the folks on a cruise ship is that they’re all on vacation just like us. So that means if a total stranger sees you trying to take a self-portrait, they’ll offer to take your picture for you. Thankfully, this happened on a number of occassions over the course of the week…this one being the first:
We were on “Your Time Dining” as opposed to having an early dining time of 6pm, which we had last year. We were a little concerned at first but quickly realized that we could go eat whenever we wanted to. In addition, we could choose to either eat by ourselves or join other passengers at a table. This would mean meeting new people every night and that sounded like a lot of fun. We didn’t normally wait in line any longer than 10 minutes, even when the line-up was really long…so it was very similar to a normal restaurant on a busy night.
Food on the first night was pretty decent. We didn’t have any REAL complaints about the food all week, to be honest…just little things here and there. Overall, the food was good to very good…never awful and sometimes “meh”. I think it was worth the money we paid for.
After dinner we made our way down to the Follies theater, which would be the location of many shows during the week and held about 1,200 passengers at once. Along the way we had to stop at the specialty coffee shop to see what they had. Sunshine began to drool at this…
In Follies that night was the first of many entertaining evening events. This was a game show where three contestants would participate in answering questions based upon sound clips. Of course, I acted all silly to become one of the first three contestants.
And of course, I acted REALLY silly in order to win the contest itself. Not only did I answer questions correctly, but I ended up dancing like Michael Jackson, acting like Miss America, and doing a horrible hula dance in order to win. And believe me…I was determined to win!
Fully and completely exhausted, we turned in a bit early on this night. We loved having the slight movement of the ship rock us to sleep like laying down on a waterbed.
Tomorrow would be our first full day at sea.