Carnival Miracle, 10/13/13 BOARDING DAY

Boarding Day

So, first off I got to the terminal in Long Beach at 1pm.  Later than I normally would, thinking the first rush of cruisers would already be boarded.  Boy was I wrong.

 Apparently the Miracle had some issue with Customs clearance, and hadn't even started boarding when I got there.  The line, for those of you familiar with the Long Beach cruise terminal, went out the door, across the plaza, and into the Queen Mary parking lot.  So, over an hour just to get to the front door of the terminal.  The wait was made bearable by 4 lovely elderly Englishwomen who were on a two week holiday to the colonies.  They had flown in from San Francisco in the morning.  None had
ever sailed Carnival and upon learning I was a travel agent, had a million questions.  Their previous cruising experience was limited to Princess, P&O, and Fred Olsen.

So, finally got thru the line, thru security and onto the ship.  My first impression is that she is quite nicely decorated.  More subdued than many Carnival ships, with the exception of the Bacchus Main Dining Room which has ghastly purple grape clusters for lights.  The Lido pool area is nice, with darkish wood paneling.  The elevators doors have a woman done with a woodcut effect (I'll get pictures and video later) that is beautiful.  The promenade area is all very quiet and elegant.  And the Gatsby's Garden, though I've no idea what it's for, is beautiful.

Got up to my room, Cabin 5141, a balcony on Upper Deck.  Typical balcony room with a double bed, full size couch, 3 closets, etc.  The balcony is average size, but I lucked in to a brilliant location.  The ship narrows in the center, in three steps moving back from the bridge.  I am in that third indentation.  So I have one neighbor forward, but the neighbor aft is set back from me.  So it's quiet, and very well protected from the wind while under way.

So far the guests seem to be evenly split between travel agents and 1st time cruisers.  I've run into two agents that I know, and I think I'll be changing dinner tables because one agent I met on a ship inspection two weeks ago is right next to me, and I spent most of dinner last night talking over my shoulder to her and her

Anyway, back to the story.  After finding my room, I took a long walk around the ship, getting oriented.  I've been on two sisters to this one, so that was pretty easy.  She's laid out in a pretty straightforward manner with the spa, pools and buffet up on the Lido Deck and all the other public rooms down on decks two and three.

 Then it was time for muster drill which went quickly, and by the time it was done, my bag had arrived.  Got myself unpacked and took another stroll around the deck, wasting time until dinner.  Dropped a $20 in a poker machine just to see how my luck would be, and decided I am not gambling much this week. Even though the casino is huge, and very spread out.  Did a "Name That Song" trivia and got 33/40.  Winner was 36.  So, you know...close but no cigar.

I have late dining at 8:15.  Went up a little before 8 got dressed and headed to the dining room and remembered why I so much prefer Freestyle cruising.  The line at 8:13 was as long as the line to get on the ship.  One of the odd things about the Spirit Class is the single dining room.  It really is a nightmare in terms of crowd control.  So I found a seat in the hallway, and waited 5 minutes for the line to go down.  Got to my table, which is all the way back against the full length aft window.  It would be beautiful at the early seating, but with the sun down for an hour, the view was somewhat lacking. I started with a smoked salmon and candied apple appetizer.  That was excellent.  Then a gazpacho andoulouse.  Insipid.  A brisket entree that almost chewed itself it was so tender.  Seriously, it just about dissolved when hit with a fork.  So that was excellent.  I didn't stay for dessert, because the other thing I dislike on Carnival is all the announcements and singing and dancing at dinner time.  Sorry, but it's just so lame.  And quite annoying for the Maitre d' to spend 15 minutes on a bad sound sytem telling the same jokes they were telling on the Tropicale in 1981.

After dinner I went over to the Piano Bar.  I am pretty sure that's where you'll find me every night this week.  The piano player on this cruise is Derek Wayne.  Good piano player, and with a ton of personality, and REALLY knows how to work a crowd.  It was the first night, so there wasn't a huge number, but I am guessing it will grow as the week goes on.  He's just very engaging, talking with people, making jokes, putting together weird medleys.  A true entertainer.

So, yeah...hung out there til 12:30ish.  By then the long day was catching up to me, so I bid the remaining piano barbarians good night and headed home to sit on the balcony a bit before turning in.

Tomorrow is a full day at sea.  Probably find a trivia contest somewhere.  I'll keep you posted!

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