No cruise journal would be complete without some talk of food. So here you go, but don't blame me if you get hungry...
Everything you've heard is true - there's food, and lots of it. Starting with dinner - we were assigned to the Renoir for dinner, with open seating, so we got to decide when we'd go. There were two elegant nights, when you dress up a bit and put on some bling and get your picture taken. Here's a few of the entrees I had: Pan-Seared Grilled Tilapia, Lobster & Shrimp, Chateaubriand Tenderloin, Pork Loin with Jerk Sauce, Fried Shrimp. Some nights we'd have two entrees (most portions are small). We mostly started with a salad or soup, shrimp cocktail or other. On the last night, I had crab cakes, which were delicious. I didn't have any but all around me people were enjoying the Prime Rib and the Braised Shortribs too.
For dessert, Lou Ellen and I got the same thing every...single...night. Warm Melting Chocolate Cake!!! Carnival is famous for it. It's a warm, fudgy dessert, soft in the center, served in a ramekin. They bring some ice cream on the side but I'd ditch that any night, just to concentrate on the WMCC! Don always had Butter Pecan ice cream, and Charles had different desserts every night, but he was our cheesecake guru for sure.
There are recipes for it all over the internet and even videos on YouTube, just search for Warm Melting Chocolate Cake. Not only is it featured every night for dinner, but you can also get it if you eat on the buffet on the Lido deck.
Lunch had many options, of course you could go to the MDR (main dining room) but we never did. The Cezanne (lido deck) has two sections – the regular buffet has salads, breads, entrees and desserts and the other buffet is called “Nation of the Day” with cuisine from a different nation everyday. They had Italian, French, Indian, Mexican, American, and Chocolate. Yes, there is a chocolate day...on the last day, that buffet was dedicated to chocolate!! People were going nuts and walking around in a chocoholic haze.
Besides that, you could also choose from Sur Mer (seafood bistro upstairs, a fish & chips place) the Deli, the Pizzeria (open around the clock) the Grill (hamburgers etc) and the Mongolian Grill. We never had any pizza but between the four of us, we hit all the others at some point.
For breakfast, you could also go to the MDR, but again, we didn't. The breakfast buffet was so good and we became very fond of our omelette guy! You had to wait in line for him, but I didn't mind, I loved watching him cook. Also, the ice cream and yogurt machines were open 24 hours a day, and the Hot Chocolate too. For those who want something even fancier (we didn't) there is a steak house restaurant onboard, but there's an upcharge there of $30 pp. And, although we only used it once, there's room service available too. They have a limited menu, but it's fun to do if you want to hole up in your cabin.
OK, moving on from the food. The entertainment was sometimes good, sometimes average, sometimes lame - one night we were falling asleep during the show so we left. Each night there was some big show in the Toulouse Lautrec lounge...song and dance shows, though the first night there was a decent comic too. Our favorite performer was a singer/dancer named Jason Dowty who reminded us of the Osmonds. He was very talented. We took a picture with him on the final night. Other music: well, not Keith, not Kenny, not Carrie, not Taylor Swift, but music still...think foreigners singing american songs. Old ones, mostly. ;)
They had other activities going on too...talks on shopping, seminars on healthful eating, tours of the ship, bingo, group contests, karaoke, and The Marriage Game. There was a full service spa (pricey) and a full gym as well as a sauna and steam bath. There was also a track for walking outdoors, which we used a few times. But nothing felt as good as sitting in the hot tub, talking.
We dipped in the pool once but it felt too cool for me, or maybe it was because I was still all pink and warm from the hot tub. Don got a kick out of the towel animals our steward left for us each night.
Another thing I enjoyed about this cruise was the big outdoor movie theatre. One night we watched "This Is It" (Michael Jackson) and another night, "Up". There's just something about sitting out on the deck at night, under a sea of stars, and watching a movie as the ship glides through the water. It was just fun!!!
On my first post I mentioned some of the people we met on the cruise. The thing I want to say about that is, that overall - most people were nice and friendly, some wanted to keep to themselves, but most were happy to chat. I never felt threatened or in any way worried about my safety except in Jamaica where it was dicey, but that's the extent of it.
The other good stuff:
* We loved going with Lou Ellen & Charles! We always have a ball together, and it was nice that sometimes the guys could go their way, while we girls went ours. And anyone who wanted a nap got one. :)
* I loved cruising out of Galveston...one easy two hour ride and some embarkation processing and just like that, we're on vacation!!!
* I really thought it was a great idea to have an adults only hot tub and pool area.
* I liked not having to deal with traffic, and the Captain did the navigating.
* It was amazing leaving here with the weather freezing and knowing that soon we'd be warm and sitting in the sun. I know not all cruises have spectacular weather or such smooth seas, but when you get that, it's gold!!
* I kind of fell in love with the beaches. And the islands. And the jewelry. I don't know that I'd want to go in the summer, but in February it was paradise.
* I loved being out to sea...stunningly beautiful.