Aaron Saunders, Live Voyage Reports
By the time I returned back to my stateroom from breakfast aboard Carnival Cruise Lines’ Carnival Breeze, the dreaded Disembarkation Information was sitting on my bed, surrounded by a happy little heart made out of towels.
Today marks our last full day aboard the Carnival Breeze as we sail back to Miami on the tail-end of our eight-day Eastern Caribbean voyage that has taken us to Grand Turk, San Juan, Philipsburg and St. Thomas.
Carnival’s disembarkation package is short and concise. Three luggage tags with a designated group number were placed on the bed, along with a sheet outlining the disembarkation procedures.
There are two main options for disembarking tomorrow: Self-Assist Debarkation and Relaxed Debarkation.
With the Self-Assist option, guests are free to disembark anytime they wish between 7:00a, and 8:30am, pending clearance from the authorities shoreside. Guests utilising this option have to be able to wheel their own luggage off the ship with them, but is ideal for those who have early flights out of Miami International or Fort Lauderdale –Hollywood International airport.
The Relaxed option allows guests to go ashore in one of 33 different “Zones”, each with its own approximate disembarkation time. Since I’m staying in the Miami area tomorrow before heading home on Monday, I’ve been assigned one of the last disembarkation numbers.
Guests are requested to leave their staterooms by 8:30am tomorrow morning, and can relax in one of three relaxation zones: the Seaside Theatre on Deck 10; the Liquid Nightclub on Deck 5; and the Ovation Theatre on Decks 3, 4 and 5. The Liquid Nightclub seems like an oddly unhelpful choice for a relaxation area; it’s the one public room on the ship that is noticeably devoid of almost any seating.
To be honest, there’s not much I can say about today that hasn’t already been said. At this point, everyone has settled comfortably into their shipboard routines, whether that means spending an afternoon in the Ocean Plaza on Deck 5 enjoying a trivia marathon; or bronzing yourself up on the Sun Deck. The weather has been so nice that Bingo was even moved up to the Seaside Theatre on Deck 10. Ever seen someone hold a bingo card while in the pool? I have.
Our last full day aboard Carnival Breeze, sailing the clam waters of the Atlantic Ocean en-route to Miami, could best be described as the quintessential postcard-perfect day at sea.
With that in mind, I thought I’d go over some of the things that made the greatest impression on me over the last eight days:
The Punchliner Comedy Club
Quite possibly some of the best comedians I’ve seen on land or at sea. Carnival offered nearly 17 unique performances during the course of our cruise featuring four separate comedians. Some of these were family-friendly, while multiple Adults Only comedy shows were offered from 9pm onward. Thankfully, when they say “Adult”, they mean it! Developed in conjunction with comedian George Lopez, this venue has been the talk of the ship.
FunShip 2.0 Enhancements
From the RedFrog Rum Bar to Guy’s Burger Joint, Carnival’s hit a home run in terms of the variety these new Fun Ship 2.0 enhancements represent to the product. Trying out each different venue becomes a bit of an event in and of itself.
Open Deck Space
Just today, after a full week onboard, I discovered a new area of open deck space that I wish I would have earlier: a beautiful open deck space on Deck 9, accessed by the portside stateroom corridor. What makes this level so special? You can stand atop the port and starboard bridge wings for a magnificent view down the side of the ship. Couple that with open deck space on Decks 5, 6, 7, 10, 11, 12, 14 and 15, and you’ve got plenty of room to find your own unique spot in the sun.
Bold, ‘New’ Carnival
The first Carnival ship to be designed almost exclusively by Partner Ship Design of Germany, Carnival Breeze represents the “new” Carnival. Fun yet elegant, the new décor scheme and colour palettes that public rooms have been afforded is welcoming but vibrant. Staterooms are sleek and modern in their design, and the Caribbean-theme running throughout the ship works tremendously well.
Boredom is completely impossible here aboard Carnival Breeze. Regardless of your interests, there’s likely to be something happening each and every day that appeals to you. The only problem I’ve found so far this cruise: it can be tough to see and do everything that you want to! Carnival particularly excels when it comes to trivia, live music performances, and production shows that feature audience participation and interaction.
Cloud 9 Spa & Suites
Carnival Breeze is on the fourth ship in Carnival’s history to have a sprawling Cloud 9 Spa complex, and the line has continued to tweak and refine its layout and amenities. The private elevator and stairwell-access for the nearby Spa Staterooms, which include unlimited access to the Thermal Suites and Thalassotherapy Pool, is just the icing on the cake. Highly recommended.
Tonight, I had the opportunity to chat with Carnival Breeze Hotel Director Pierre B. Camilleri. Hailing from Malta, Camilleri and I talked about everything from the history of Carnival to the enhancements to the Carnival Breeze.
But he always came back to the same subject: the crew. Carnival Breeze is one of the most desirable ships in the fleet to work on, and the crew take great pride in their jobs and in ensuring that guests have an enjoyable time. He emphasized Carnival’s greatest asset isn’t the value in its pricing; it’s the value they provide in their service to each and every passenger onboard.
After eight days aboard the Carnival Breeze, I can see exactly what he’s talking about.
|January 31, 2014||Prepping our Fun Ship Journey|
|February 1, 2014||Miami, Florida||Embark Carnival Breeze||4:00 PM|
|February 2||Fun Day at Sea|
|February 3||Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos||7:00 AM||3:00 PM|
|February 4||San Juan, Puerto Rico||11:00 AM||7:00 PM|
|February 5||Philipsburg, St. Maarten||8:00 AM||6:00 PM|
|February 6||St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands||7:00 AM||5:00 PM|
|February 7||Fun Day at Sea|
|February 8||Fun Day at Sea|
|February 9||Miami, Florida||8:00 AM||Disembark|