Friday, May 31, 2013

Carnival Spirit - May 2013, Day 5 Mare

Mum and I had been to Mare during our January cruise on the Jewel but my sister and the kids hadn't. This is a tender stop which sometimes can mean there maybe delays getting off the ship and this was no exception. It was due to the water being a little choppy which makes it quite difficult for the tenders to dock at the ship and at the pier. You need to collect a tender ticket before you can board and these were being handed out on the Lido deck and each person had to get their own ticket. You couldn't send just one person up to get all of the tickets. I think they do this so they can ensure everyone is ready when their tender ticket number is called. If you're ready you get your ticket if your not you wait until you are ready and then get your ticket - makes sense.

We were tender number 31 - there was a bit of a wait but the weather wasn't that special, a bit drizzly, so we weren't in any real hurry. The only tour option that is available on Mare is a shuttle bus around to Yejele Beach. The bus takes about 30mins each way and was $18.99 per adult and $15.99 per child. We didn't bother with the bus as we new we could swim at some of the other stops our cruise was doing and it does add up when you have to pay for 6 of you. We have heard that the beach is gorgeous so maybe on another cruise we might just splurge!

You can swim near where the tender drops you off as there is a small swimming hole plus a few places along the coast that you can get down to the water. There is also a small beach area if you head to the left after walking up to the road from the pier.
One good thing about the tender ports is that they use our tender so we actually get a lovely view for the day - pity we're out most of the time!
After getting to Mare we just walk around - it isn't a very big place so you can see everything with 30mins. There are some markets setup by the locals but that's about it for shopping. You can get you passport stamped but there was never anyone sitting at the table when we walked passed. It was also raining a little bit and there wasn't much shelter so I don't think we would have risked getting our passports wet anyway. If you don't plan on getting your passport stamps you don't need to take them off the ship all you need is your cruise card.

After a couple of hours walking around we head back to the ship, it is almost lunch time you know! Mare isn't one of my favourite islands, there isn't anything horrible about it but there just isn't a whole heap to do if you don't catch the shuttle bus.
Once we've filled our bellies again we decide to get a bit sporty.
Putt Putt! This was a big hit with the kids (big and little).

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Carnival Spirit - May 2013, Days 3 & 4 Sea days

Our first sea day also meant our first breakfast at sea! The beds are very comfy but I did notice a bit of noise coming from outside - I'm guessing it's from the tender moving around a bit. In cabin 4127 they said it actually sounded like a train going pass plus their door (the one that opens to the outside of the ship no the hallway) rattles a bit. (they did eventually stop it from rattling later in the cruise) The room is very dark when the curtains are pulled all the way across so it is quite easy to sleep in, which we did on the first morning! There was someone knocking on our door and as I slowly woke up I said to miss 13 'who on earth could that be at this hour?'. Low and behold it was mr 6 seeeing if we were ready for breakfast! It was almost 8am! It's a holiday though so it's not like we were late for anything and the main buffet is open until 10.30am and then they open a smaller area for the extra late riser which is open until 12pm. In the 'Fun Times' where the days activities are listed and the open/closing times of everything is found it actually says '8am-12pm' Late Risers Breakfast! I thought 8am was pretty good for a holiday!

After our 'what we thought was early' wakeup call we had a quick shower, which is a decent size and the water was lovely and hot, and made our way up to the buffet. It is a BIG buffet with about 10 different stations. The only problem I had was that I like pancakes with bacon and scramble eggs but they were on 2 separate food stations so it kinda meant you had to line up twice. Not really a big deal though as the lines do move fast anyway.

Today was all about eating relaxing and having a bit of a wonder around the ship. We went to the Champagne Art Auction in the Cool Club deck 2 didn't buy anything but got our glass of champagne and a free piece of artwork (which we had to pick up later that evening). I think all cruises have art auctions and I'm always surprise at how much some people spend! I wonder if they'd budgeted for it or if they just got a bit carried away.

Lunch time and we decided on the pizza, good choice! The pizzas are made to order so are fresh and hot. They're not packed with toppings but enough to make the pizzas tasty. You can choose from Margarita, Four Cheeses, Pepperoni, Ham & Pineapple and Funghi - they were all yummy but I think our favourites were the Four Cheeses and the Pepperoni oh and the Ham & Pineapple and the Funghi and Margarita!

Later on we headed down to the Fountain Court as there was some trivia on but as we were a bit late there were no seats left so we had to sit on the otherside behind the fountain, which is just outside the Club Cool. Unfortunately the trivia was a music trivia and Club Cool had karaoke on - made it a bit tricky so we didn't stay long. I am sure we would have won otherwise!

The kids wanted to go for a swim so we met them back up on the Lido deck. This is a fantastic spot to sit, rain, hail or shine as one side has a retractable roof. Such a fabulous idea. It stops the wind coming in too and just makes it so pleasant to sit and read or talk or swim or listen to the DJ or eat! I think I may have had an icecream while watching the kids in the pool! The pool is great for the kids as well, I think it is much better than the Dawn and Jewel pools from a kids perspective anyway. I've never ventured into a cruise pool just observe.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Carnival Spirit - May 2013, Day 2 Sailaway

Cruise day has arrived and we are ready! We checkout of our hotel nice and early and head down to Maccas at the Ent Cent for breakfast - we need all the energy we can get as it's a looooong walk to our ship that's docked at Circular Quay. We've got plenty of time as our checkin isn't until 1pm. A very foggy start to the day but no rain, thank goodness that certainly would have messed things up a bit. So off on our long walk we go through the middle of Sydney - busy busy busy. It is a work day afterall. A quick pitstop near the Apple store and then on we trek.

Getting closer:

There she is our home for the next 10 days - the BIG Carnival Spirit! We thought the Dawn was big (and it is) but this ship is even bigger, wow. Circular Quay is a gorgeous place to leave from, it IS Sydney! The Harbour Bridge and the Opera House right there with ferries here there and everywhere. Such a busy, exciting place. As exciting as it is though, all we wanted to do was drop off our suitcases! We walked over to the terminal and one of the very friendly Carnival staff came over and explained what to do - very easy. Walk over to that tent just there and give them your bags. Make sure you have your luggage labels on them and then the next time you see them will be at your cabin door onboard! We were told that everything was running on time and to come back at our boarding time. ok. It as about 10.30am so we still had a bit of time to kill and the kids were done with walking and they certainly didn't want to look at any shops (well maybe miss 13) so we slowly walked around to the Opera House. Took a few happy snaps



It's getting closer so we walked back around to the Spirit and hope we can board a little earlier than what our boarding pass says and..................woohoo, they're running ahead of schedule now so off we go! Checkin was a breeze but you do checkin per cabin not per group - not a drama though. Once everything is confirmed and you've got your cruise card you're off to customs. This was quick and painless too. Closer and closer and then we're onboard! Let the eating fun being! First up, finding our cabins - deck 4, 4117 and 4127. They're both obstructed view inside grade cabins, something we haven't been in before. Now, which side are we one? Port or Starboard, Aft or Front?
 Cabin 4117 - Twin
 Cabin 4127 - Quad (the bunk isn't down yet - it lowers from the roof above where the painting is)
This is what an obstructed view is - a tender. Cabin 4117.
The cabins are setout a lot different to the Dawn and Jewel - they seem roomier. The bathroom is a better layout too, the shower is smaller but big enough so the rest of the space is better used. Our suitcases fit under the beds which is handy and there is plenty of hanging space and drawers for all our gear. Both the rooms are the same just reverse and of course the quad room has a bunk bed and the sofa is made into the other bed. Initially the quad room had a queen bed (we needed it as twins) but this was easily sorted.
Right, off to lunch. Now, where's the buffet? Finding our way around the Spirit took us sometime - the layout is very different from the PO ships Dawn and Jewel plus it is quite a bit bigger. Lots of extra walking. The buffet is on Deck 9, many sets of stairs. I think the first meal at the buffet was one of my favourites!

Time for a wander around the Carnival Spirit. First up, the waterslides!

This is the Green Thunder!
Almost time for sailaway so we head back to our cabins to grab a cardy or 2 and then back up to the Lido deck (9). Let the party begin! Unlike the P&O ships the Carnival Spirit doesn't actually have a sailaway party - never mind, we'll have our own!
Even the Opera House joined in - simply stunning! What a send off! See you in 10 days Sydney.

Our dining time was 7.45pm (late sitting) in the Empire Dining Room so we still had about an hour before we had to find it - time for a glass of wine and a toast to our glorious adventure on the Carnival Spirit!

When you get your sail and sign card on check in it will have printed on it what your dining time is (5.30pm, 7.45pm or Anytime) and your table number (unless you're anytime) this is the table you'll have for the whole cruise. We sat at a table for 6 because, I guess, there were 6 of us! Makes sense. If you have anytime dining you at seated in the upper level of the restaurant, deck 3 because we had a set time and table we were on deck 2. As we found out, if your time says 7.45pm then that's the time it is - no earlier!
The first on many (many) yummy meals. This is why we LOVE cruising! After dinner there's plenty to do. On our first sea day there was: The Show Band on in the Artists Lobby(deck 3), Guess That Song in the Pharaoh's Palace (deck 2), Live Party Music in Club Cool (deck 2), Texas Hold'em in the casino (deck 2) plus the Welcome Aboard Party at 10pm in the Pharaoh's Palace (deck 2) - and a whole stack more! We went to bed :-)

Monday, May 27, 2013

Carnival Spirit - May 2013, Day 1 Sydney

Who would have thought it, another cruise already!! We are defnitely hooked! This cruise is to celebrate my sister's 'milestone' birthday but we had a few hiccups so it ended up being earlier than we had planned - her birthday isn't until August (maybe that just means we'll have to do another cruise!!). This time around there are 6 of us (3 adults and 3 kiddies - well technically 4 adults but I'm classing miss 13 as a kid!) in a twin and quad cabin. I'm in the twin (with miss 13) - woohoo, more room for me!

Our adventure begins like our last cruise from Sydney - on the train! This time though we are doing the day time train and staying overnight in Sydney, much better! I found a reasonably priced hotel (Aarons - Haymarket) with a room that will fit us all, cosy!
XPT from Wauchope to Central - approx 7hours
It was still a long trip but much better than the overnight one we did in January. We arrived in Sydney at around 4.30pm and then trekked off with suitcases in tow to find our hotel. After a couple of wrong turns we made it, it isn't that far from Central if you take the direct route! We checked in and after a trip back to reception to fix our room key we were in our cosy room - although considering there were 2 sets of bunks and a double bed it wasn't too bad at all. Mr 6 made up the beds for us all while the 3 adults partook in a glass of wine. We were all so exciting to be cruising again!

Time for dinner and what better place than Chinatown! It was close by and very easy for us to walk there - there were a lot of places to choose from but we decided on the foodcourt. Fantastic choice! The food was amazing and so cheap - next time we're in Sydney we know where will be having dinner!

After dinner we walked down to Darling Harbour as the Vivid Festival was on - amazing! Too bad my photo's didn't turn out very well! It started to rain a little bit so we ducked into the shopping centre at Darling Harbour and the kids had an icecream - 30c from Mcdonalds.

After watching the light show we walked back to our hotel for a good nights sleep - tomorrow was CRUISE DAY! We did see a few funny sights during our stay in Sydney - there are a lot of weird and wonderful characters walking the streets of Sydneytown that is for sure. Need to go to the toilet, no problems, just drop your daks and push (we're not talking number ones here!!) this was just out the front of Maccas at the Entertainment Centre - hilarious! (and a touch gross) Welcome to the big smoke kids!