Thursday, August 1, 2013

Carnival Sensation Cruise November 1, 2012 / 3 - Night

We really enjoyed this cruise.  While the Sensation is an older ship, it had
undergone a recent rennovation.  The Lido Deck where the pool and hot tubs are located was made to look more like a resort with palm trees and umbrellas surrounding the pool and hot tub deck.  It looked very nice.

We chose the Late Dining option which is always my preference.  The dining was great and the servers were awesome as usual.  

We give this ship a Thumbs Up!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Park Avenue Limousines

Charles Morrison offers private transportation in Florida and throughout Florida.  I highly recommend his services.  He is TOP NOTCH and very reputable.  I consider him to be a very dear friend and business associate.  Charles is THE ONLY transportation service I recommend to my clients.

Park Avenue Limousines has become a premier Central Florida limousine service by providing impeccable service to their clients.  They can transport you, your family, or a very large group.  They have limos, SUV's, and buses.  From weddings, proms, airport and cruise ship transportation to sporting events, night out, dinner parties, and any occasion that you would like to make extra special, call Park Avenue Limousines!

Phone:  (407) 668-0850

Make sure to tell Charles you saw him mentioned in my blog!!!! And that Anna Mullins with Magic of Mickey Travel sent you!

Charles gets a big thumbs up!

Cocoa Beach Suites

Cocoa Beach Suites is located close to Port Canaveral and is a fairly inexpensive place to stay prior to a cruise.  They offer different rate options including the Park N Cruise Rate which is where you can park your vehicle there while you cruise in a safer location than at the port with no one watching it.

We always look for a hotel that offers this because it is a better location to leave your vehicle plus it is much cheaper than the $15+ per day parking at the port.

We have stayed at Cocoa Beach Suites a couple of times and it has worked out well especially for our larger family.  They have a 2 room suite which comfortably sleeps 6 guests with a mini kitchen.  

The also have a shuttle to and from the port which you schedule and pay for when you check in.  Sometimes 2 people are included in your rate.  Always ask and see.  

Now, this is not a posh hotel by any means, but it is clean and within walking distance to a restaurant or two. This hotel does not offer a free breakfast nor does it have a restaurant.  

We give this hotel a thumbs up.  

Disney Dream Cruise

January 2, 2013
4 Night Bahamian Cruise

We did a family cruise with our 4 teens on the Disney Dream and LOVED it.  This was my second time on the Disney Dream (the first one was the Inaugural Cruise in January 2011- just me the travel agent) and the first Disney Cruise for my family. 

When I cruise, I always talk to other cruisers of all ages inquiring about the number of cruises they have done and which cruise line they liked best etc.  As a travel agent, I like to get a wide variety of input and opinions to better help my clients.

Our teens as well as my husband and myself have been on quite a few cruises, so of course I asked our teens what they thought of the Disney Cruise versus the other cruises we have done.  Not surprisingly, they all agreed the Disney Cruise was FAR above any other cruise they had done in all aspects:  food, teen club, activities, atmosphere, hot tubs, and pools.  

I guess I was most surprised by our oldest, Tyler who is 19 and soon to be 20.  He said the Disney Cruise was by far THE BEST cruise he had done.  He really loved the large adult only areas.  He especially enjoyed the adult pool and hot tub area.  He also liked Serenity Bay at Castaway Cay.  :)

The food choices are amazing especially for lunch on the Lido! Shrimp, crab legs, lamb chops, and you name it! The food quality was far above other cruises.  The rotational dining makes dinner a lot more fun and interesting.  

We rarely saw our other teens who spent most of their time in the teen club.  Our only rule is that they show up for dinner.  They loved their own smoothie bar, private pool, and pool deck.  The teen club is a haven for the teens.  

The Tween Club and kid's clubs are like none other.  There is so much to do all the time.  

The fact that the Disney Dream has the Wave Phones for each stateroom to use made staying in touch so much easier! Being able to text among the family was a real winner.  Having them with us on Castaway Cay was great!

The family loved that the soda was included in the cruise for everyone.  I hate having to pay extra for soda on a cruise.  

While a Disney Cruise is a little pricier than some of the other cruises, you get what you pay for.  You are treated like royalty.  Disney will bend over backwards to correct any problems and to make things right.

The kids are much more controlled on the Disney Cruise.  They are not running wild and taking over the hot tubs like on some other cruises we have been on.  They are not allowed in the adult only areas and this is monitored carefully.

Disney has many more adult only areas than other cruise lines, and the Disney Dream and Fantasy has two adult only restaurant choices.  The rooms are significantly larger than other cruise lines.  The split bathroom makes getting ready much easier for multiple people.  

As for the people I interviewed about cruising, one couple in their 60's had cruised 39 times.  When asked what cruise line they thought to be the best (and they had cruised on the Queen Mary, Princess, and Cunnard) they both agreed that Disney was their favorite even without their grandchildren.  They were on this cruise without any grandchildren.

I noticed that the smoking areas were better contained and the drinking was not wild like on other cruises.  You didn't see staggering drunks or adults grinding on each other which was a nice change.  

Would we do a Disney Cruise again? YOU BET!!! We already have one booked for 2014.  We give the Disney Dream a THUMBS UP!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Carnival Dream

The Carnival Dream is amazing.  We loved cruising on the Carnival Dream.  This ship is 3 football fields long  and cruises out of Port Canaveral to the Caribbean. They continue to expand with the addition of the RedFrog Rum Bar and the BlueIguana Tequila Bar.  

Carnival Dream features two dual-level dining rooms, a gourmet steakhouse, and the Lido Restaurant. Make your own pasta creation and present it to the Pasta Bar's Chef for preparation! The Dream features Ocean Plaza which combines tasty treats with tastier entertainment.  

My favorite is the Chef's Art Steakhouse! It is open from 6:00pm - 9:30pm for dinner by reservation only.  It is $35 per person, but the steak house did not disappoint! It boasts dimmer lighting, a quieter, more comfortable ambiance, and a much more calm dining experience.  The food is definitely a cut above.  The ribeye steak is tender and juicy.  The appetizers include beef carpaccio and tuna tartare.  The side dishes such as Yukon gold mash with wasabi horseradish was delish! The chocolate sampler dessert was very good.  The choices change daily, but can include:  chocolate tiramisu, maple-walnut ice cream with warm chocolate cake - my favorite!

One downside:  if you order the lobster AND the filet mignon it is included in the price, but if you order the lobster with a ribeye steak, you will pay another $25!

The Dream features a heart-racing waterslide at Waterworks!

The Cloud 9 Spa is gorgeous and features the soul-soothing Thalassotherapy pool.  If you are going to have a spa treatment, this is the Carnival ship to do it on! 

This was an amazing cruise for our family! We loved the steakhouse! This cruise gets a thumbs up from my family!

Carnival Dream Highlights from Carnival!


Radisson Resort at the Port, Cocoa Beach

The Radisson Resort at the Port is a very nice hotel.  We stayed there prior to our cruise.  I booked it online and got my bonus Club Carlson points.  

We flew into Orlando, and had a service drive us to the hotel.  When we checked in, one of the guys gave us a room upgrade and moved us closer to the lobby since we did not drive.  He gave us a free breakfast coupon and 2 free drink coupons.  

When we went to our room, it was a nightmare trying to roll our luggage over their cobblestone walk ways.  Every walkway was cobblestone.  We had a very long and tedious walk to get to our room and we were very tired trying to pull our luggage across the cobblestone.  It was not fun by any means.

I saw a lady fall when her heel got stuck in a groove on the cobblestone.  The cobblestone was a horrible choice for the walkways.  It is on every floor level too.  

The breakfast buffet at the hotel was a joke.  It was $10.50 per person! Luckily I had the coupon for 1 free breakfast which significantly lowered our cost.

We went in and the eggs had been on the warmer so long they were dried to the pan and brown.  ICK.  None of the food was really edible.  It had all been sitting out for hours.  The waiter a guy with longish curly brown hair got our juice for us and went to cut up with the other staff at the register.  

Our juice sat empty while they played and talked.  The food was never replaced on the warmers.  It was just awful.  Finally the waiter offered to bring us some more juice.  He brought an apple juice bottle from the kitchen to fill our glasses.  

We paid $10.50 plus tax for both of us to sort of eat breakfast.  Wish we had just gone across the street to McDonalds.  I bet the others wished the same thing who ate there.  

Would I recommend this resort? I would not due to the cobblestone nightmare of trying to roll luggage to the room.  Other than that it is a great hotel with a very nice swimming pool and hot tub.

The food nightmare could easily be avoided by not eating at the hotel.  

This hotel is very nice, but the cobblestone needs to be removed and replaced with normal sidewalks.
Due to the sidewalk issue, I would have to give this resort a thumbs down.  Other than the cobblestone issue, I like this hotel.  

Carnival Ecstasy

The Carnival Ecstasy launched in 1991 is one of the older ships in Carnival's fleet.  It recently underwent a huge renovation to bring it more current.  See the full information for the Ecstasy on Cruise Critic where I research each cruise before sailing or recommending it to a client.  

I had sailed on its sister ship, the Fantasy in 1994 shortly after it launched.  Of course that was quite some time ago, and cruising has changed quite a bit since then.

However, I wanted to try the Ecstasy firsthand since I have many clients inquiring about sailing on it. Here is my experience this past week...

I booked this cruise in October 2012 for the February 7 sail date - 4 night Bahamian cruise for my teen daughter and myself.  I had booked a couple of spa treatments for my daughter and myself as well and prepaid. I also booked an new option at Port Canaveral only called Faster to the Fun which gives a taste of what a Carnival VIP gets, I must say I really liked this option.  You only have to book this for one person in the stateroom and it covers everyone.

Priority Check-in with Express Boarding
The quicker you board the ship, the quicker you're holding a frosty drink.

Guaranteed Stateroom
Your stateroom will be ready as soon as you board, so you can relax or freshen up for the fun you're about to have.

Express Luggage
Your luggage will be expedited to your stateroom so you can unpack and get settled in for a great vacation!

Guest Services
You'll have a dedicated phone number and line at Guest Services so you can quickly have your questions answered.

Dining Reservations
Priority Main Dining Room and Specialty Restaurant reservations.

Tender Priority
You will have the option to choose a priority tender from the ship to shore (multiple departure times may be possible), so you can explore ashore as quickly as you would like.

We're always sad to see you go. But when your cruise is over, you may choose an early or late disembarkation time upon arrival to your homeport.

We skipped the lines, went straight to the VIP line, dropped our carry on items in our room before heading to the pool and we were set.  We were ON THE SHIP and sitting by the pool at 11:10am! How cool is that? 

I would definitely purchase this option again!

I am not sure if I have cruised too much, if my food expectations are too high, or what, but the Lido indoor buffet just did not look good to me at all.  I do realize on the smaller ships it seems to me that the food choices are less appealing.  I had a salad and some grilled fish.  

The ship has a resort-style feel to it.  The pool deck has palm trees.  It looks just like the Carnival Sensation deck.  They did not put a jumbo screen up unfortunately which is a shame.

I like that the water slides were moved out of the main pool and onto a deck by themselves.  Two small hot tubs on the Lido deck flanking the pool.  In my opinion, there are NEVER enough hot tubs on a ship.  These are very small ones.

Our room was an inside stateroom.  We actually like the inside staterooms because they are always dark if you want to take a nap.  :)

Our dinner was the second seating in the Windsong dining room.  My daughter and I were seated at a table for 12 and we were the only ones who showed each night.  It was kind of awkward being at a huge table all alone.

Dinner is usually a lot of fun and we really enjoy it.  The dining room was WAY TOO COLD! I am a hot nature person and when I am cold everyone else is FREEZING.  My toes and fingers were numb.  It was really too cold to enjoy dinner.  I asked if they could make it less cold and they just laughed and went on.  Everyone was shivering.  

We were so cold when we left, we went straight back to our room for some HOT showers to warm up.  We were on the lowest floor R214 and this is where the night mare began.

My daughter took her shower first.  Then I got my shower.  When I went to step out, my flip flops were FLOATING in the bathroom.  Our drain was not working.  GROSS! I stepped out put on a robe and called our "dedicated guest services" line.  A plumber was sent out to snake the drain.  He didn't even clean the sewage up from the floor.  GROSS! 

Then the smell began...we could smell the sewage.  It was awful.  We called the room steward and he said he would call the plumber again that a lot of the staterooms near us were having the same problem.  Great.

Once they supposedly had it fixed, we went to bed only to wake up to a horrid stench, severe headaches, and nausea! No wonder.  We called again.  The room steward called the plumber.  We dressed and went to guest services.  They came to the room.  Of course by that time the plumber had already fixed it and sprayed a deodorizer.  

One would think that we would have been offered another room.  But, NO.  Nothing.  This went on the entire 4 day cruise.  

We did go to the spa for our manicures.  They kept trying to sell us their $30 hand lotion etc.  They became upset that I did not purchase.  There is no consistency within the spa.  The girl that was doing my manicure had just ship hopped from Royal Caribbean that day.  Apparently they can do that whenever they like.  My daughter had a teen manicure while I had mine.  I felt that both were more interested in selling products rather than doing a good manicure.  I would not do another manicure.  As a matter of fact, after the way we were treated during the manicure, I cancelled the pedicure we had scheduled later in the cruise.  They are very overpriced.  The manicure was very shabbily done. 

I also did the Ionithermie treatment for detox and inch loss.  The girl, Melissa that did that treatment was very nice.  She was wonderful.  This I would recommend.

Could I in good conscience recommend this cruise? Not really, although it may have only been in the lower section of the ship.  But obviously Carnival Ecstasy has some serious plumbing issues that need to be addressed. This cruise experience gets a thumbs down overall.