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Carnival Pride to the Panama Canal Feb/Mar 2017

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Carolyn Jane:
Pride of Place
Carnival Pride to the Canal
19 Feb. - 12 March 2017

18 Feb 2017.  Saturday, Amtrak to Tampa.  A short night and we were up early to catch the train.  We were leaving on the Silver Meteor from Jesup, GA and the train was due in at 0735.  She was on time, for  achange.  Jesup is an unmanned station and we were the only peopleboarding, noone got off.
I had booked us a roomette, in the sleeper section.  Much more comfortable than riding in coach.  As soon as we boarded we went to the dining car for breakfast.  It was a slow process.  There appeared to be only one attendant seating people and taking orders.  Several others came in and did a few things, but it only helped a little.  It was 40 minutes before we had our food.
Back in our seats I spent the time watching the scenery.  The rails are a bit bumpy so my crocheting didn't get very far.  I just love seeing the differences in the neighborhoods, fields, crops.  We were early into Jacksonville, but crawled when we left, and therefore late into Palatka.  But picked up time and were on time into Winter Park and Orlando. 
In Orlando we had to wat a few minutes for our Ambus (Amtrak Thruway Bus) to arrive, and then for the driver to empty out the luggage and then let the passengers off.  Finally, we were allowed to board.  He checked ID and tickets.  There were only 15 people on the big bus.  One got off in Lakeland, after a bit of  a shower.  Another 45 minutes and we were in Tampa.  Guess what.  No taxis.  I asked about calling one, and was given a number, but wasn't really sure about the contact.  So I called the Hilton and they connected me with the (not free) shuttle service they used.  He was there is less than five minutes.  $8+ tip to the Hilton.
I had already checked in online and we got our room keys and headed up the elevators.  There is a large number of young girls here, older teens.  Apparently there is a high school vlleybal tournament in town. 
We went down looking for dinner, and waited in the lounge for the restaurant to open  I had an excellent salad, and Mary had soup, flatbread, and key lime pie. 
we have both bathed and I am falling asleep.

Feb. 19, Sunday, Tampa.  Mary was up earlier than usual, probably because we went to bed earlier than usual...So we went down to breakfast.  I had opted for the buffet for us, and it was a really nice spread.  We went back to the room and finished packing, and napped for a time.  We did not need to be out of the room until noone, but went down about 11:15 and asked about the shuttle.  It actually was waiting by the entrance so we loaded up and she checked for other passengers.  The only other ones were going to the NCL Jade.
   It was a short ride to the terminal, and we unloaded and got in line.  It was not a good scene.  Apparently check in time and priority mean little there.  Everyone was in the same line to get up to the entrance.  There, they separated into priority and regular check in lines.  When the line on the ground got really long, the began only letting priority up the escalator.  The problem was there were only two security screeners.  After that, it was straight to checkin and onto the ship.  So essentially, it took us an hour to get onto the ship. 
   We went straight to the cabin and unpacked enough to be able to change into shorts.  I did a little more unpacking, then we headed out to find a cold drink.  We ended up at the lobby bar, where I had a diet coke on the rocks with a twist of lemon, and Mary had a Coke on the rocks.  Then we went around exploring.  We went all through the buffet area, and had a small cone each of frozen yogurt.  Took some pictures of food porn to send back to Erin. 
   Back in the cabin, we finished unpacking, and organized ourselves until time for muster drill.  We met our cabin steward, Ketut, and pointed out our egg crates and said he should put them on the beds when he made them up for evening, and that we would like twice a day service.  Also bathrobes.  And ice. 
   Muster drill went well.  We went to our muster stations.  They  didn't take roll, they went through the instructions, showed us how to don our lifejackets - which we didn't have to take - and we were out of there.  We were among the first groups released, and back up in the cabin,  we found we were already away from the dock and moving.  We cruised past the American Victory which looked like a really old navy ship.  Jade was still docked, and had a really loud deck party going on.  We dozed off and on, and then it was time for a last look at the Sunshine Skyway bridge in the distance.  We would sail under it while at dinner, and after dark. 
   On our earlier explorations we had visited the upper level of the MDR and located our table.  Right in the center of the lower level.  There were people having lunch there then, a group, I think, as they were all wearing name tags.  But we were escorted to our table anyway, to find a group of three ladies from Michigan, friends, and two men from Pittsburgh, also friends, I guess.  One was older than the other, and married but wife was not along.  They are also going to be on the next cruise with us. 
   We both had creamy tomato soup, I had a fruit salad, Mary a mixed salad.  I had glazed pork loin, she had sweet & sour shrimp.  Everyone had apple pie for dessert.  We left the dining room and went exploring some more.  Specifically, the shops.  We were disappointed.  The logo shop didn't really have much of interest, and the jewelry just seemed more mass market than what we are accustomed to see on the ships.  Don't think we will be spending much time in the shops here.   Further exploration found us the chapel and the ard room, and a rather nice library, but not many books.  There was one young boy sitting at one of the desks reading a book. 
   Back in the cabin, we foud the steward had been in for turn down service - but he had not put the egg crates on the beds.  So, we stripped the beds and did it ourselves.    I think it has been a while since the Pride was refurbished.  Our balcony could use some paint...But the mattreses appear to have been comfy pillow tops, but age has compacted them down except around the edges.  The cabins also have the old style tube TVs.  I think it is going to be an early night for us. 

Carolyn Jane:
Feb. 20 2017.  Monday, at sea.   Not up particularly early this morning.  I was out before Mary and up for breakfast.  Wandered around some and found some interesting areas on the ship.  There is a Sunset Garden Interior promenade on deck three around the sides of the theater, remniscent of QM2, with tables and chairs.  Tiny  tables though, no puzzles or games.  They were preparing the chapel for a wedding, or maybe vow renewal.   I searched out the Butterflies Lounge on deck 1 forward, and discovered the Park West people had it all set up for auction, or at least, viewing of 'art'.  There was a lecture going on, Art 101: 30,000 years of art.  So I sat in.  I had missed probably half of it, but enjoyed it.  Reminded me of my Art History class in college.  I was able to answer a few of his questions of who painted this...  Surely I couldn't have been the most knowledgable of the few there...  Must remember to go back next wee to hear the talk in its entirety.
   I went to Guy's burgers and had my burger for the cruise.  And fries.   They were having the drink mixing contest.  Don't know who won.  The man with the little chihuahua was one of those judging.   I guess it is a therapy dog.  He looks like a lot of former service people I see with PTSD. 
   Back to the cabin for a nap and then to the Cruise Critic Meet & Mingle at 3:45.  They put on a spread of coffee, tea, iced tea, punch, and cookies.  Not a large crowd, but this roll call was not large.    The next roll call has over 300 on it! 
   Elegant night tonight, time for our Little Black Dresses.  Prime rib, lobster tail... First time this cruise for the singing and dancing.  the maitre d', Ken Byrne stands right by our table to sing.  He's an Irishman, but has Frank Sinatra to a t.  After dinner was the Playlist Production of Heart of Soul.  Okay, but the shows on MSC are much better.  We won't have to see this one again.  Back to the cabin to chill out and get ready for Cozumel tomorrow, first of four port days. 
   I'm not having great luck with the internet.  I can surf the web, but my email won't sync, nor will my fitbit.  It worked fine last cruise on the Glory.   I have managed to pick up email on my phone, but can't sync the fitbit without bluetooth.    And I think the fitbit is dying.  It is supposed to go a week on a charge, but I have been getting better than two weeks.  but I charged it late last week, and yesterday it was nearly dead.  I charged it,  and by midday today it was nearly dead again. 

Carolyn Jane:
21 Feb. 2017.  Tuesday, Cozumel.  Up early for Mary.  We were docking in Cozumel.  Last ship out, no view to starboard.   We went up to breakfast and could see that Allure  was already here.  Later we could see another Carnival ship coming, which turned out to be Paradise.    WE can see NCL Jade downtown at Punta Langosta.  We walked  the long dock into the reception area.  Couldn't bypass the long duty free building.  Made our circuit of the shops.  Found a couple of photo spots for the girls.  In the first shop we stopped into, we bought a pair of silver earrings of the Mayan Calendar, and split them into pendants for the girls.  WE got our freebies and bottles of water in EFFY, and in another silver shop, Mary bought a bracelet and I bought a pendant.  We wandered a few more shops, then went back to the ship.
   There are red pedicabs going back and forth on the pier, and before I boarded the ship I asked one what the fare was.  He said 'just a nice tip'.  We came back to the cabin and collapsed for a nap. 
   Supper tonight was one of our favorites - gazpacho and Greek salad.  And an entree, of course.  I was a bit uneasy because I had snacked late on some of Guy Fieri's fries, and my system decided they were not welcome and proceeded to dump them...twice before dinner, and once after.  Dinner was quick - a lot of people missing and service was fast.  Our three lady partners were absent, just Anthony and Greg.  We had plenty of time after dinner, so we went up to the Lido for Mary to fill her bottle with iced tea, then out to the Serenity (adults only) area where there were lots of loungers.  It is packed during the day.  Then we headed back to the cabin to get Mary's Kindle, which had been charging, and then to the theater for the show.  80's to the Max.  Enjoyable, but still some not very familiar songs. 
   After the show, we stopped by the Ivory Piano Lounge where the evening's first set was starting.  WE had not been in before and this was not the man on the program.  He had to go home unexpectedly.  We were amused because one of the songs he sang was Your Song, by Elton John.  That song is in our upcoming concert (April) as well as the last song in the show, Man in the Mirror.  This performer totally wants requests, and has a second mike so one can sing along, or instead.  I have seen others complain that piano bar performers really don't want them to sing along.  I had my usual drink, Diet Coke on the rocks with a twist of lime.  Mary had Coke on the rocks.  Maybe tomorrow night I will have a Bloody Mary.   Just about time for bed.  Belize tomorrow.  More shopping. 

Carolyn Jane:
Feb. 22 2017.  Wednesday, Belize.   I was up early today.  No matter how tired, the arthritis in my shoulder only allows so much sleep.  I think if I could move to a recliner, I could sleep more.  We were already at anchor at Beize, and tenders were hovering around.  Mary was not yet ready to get up, so I went on up to breakfast.  Out the windows to port I could see another Carnival ship - the Magic, and a much smaller blue ship with medium blue funnel.  I knew she looked familiar, and my brain finally came up with Saga Sapphire, from many captures on the canal cams.  Aft of us was Caribbean Princess. 
   Apparently there was no big rush to get off, as by 9am they were saying they had more tenders waiting than there were people waiting for them.  It was after 1000 when we made our way down.  We were about 5th in line waiting, as there was a tender docking but it had to empty before we could board.  One annoying man had a woman in a wheelchair and couldn't understand why they couldn't go right to the front of the line because they had priority - they had bought Faster to the Fun.  Theydidn't understand that that meant nothing when you no longer needed tender tickets.  They never did go to the read of the line that kept getting longer...
   The ride into Belize seemed very long, because we were in an enclosed boat...the windows were to high you would have to stand to see anything.  We gotoff, and started surfing the shops.  WE made it to the Wet Lizard, where we again bought tshirts.  WE wanted a drink, but there were no seats, so we went next door where we sat on too high stools and had our usual cokes.  They came in bottles, and I noticed that the bottle of Diet Coke was 100ml kess than the regular Coke.  Not fair!  After our drinks, we went through the largest of the shopping centers, by the bus station.  We looked at a lot of stuff, and I bought a pair of silver earrings.  tTen we walked back toward the terminal and found another little lane we had missed before.  There, we found two water bottle holders, like ones we purchased four years ago in Guatemala.  In another shop I purchased a mahogany carving of the Mayan calendar in bright colors.  Should look nice on our living room wall. 
   The trip back to the ship seemed shorter because we were in the bow of the boat, uncovered.  A few sprinkles of sea water and a bit of sun.  BAck in the cabin, we relaxed.  It was very nice on the balcony, on the shady side with a breeze.  I then went downstairs to preview the menu for the night, get another $20 bill broken into smaller denominations, and then up to the buffet to fill up my bottle with iced tea, and have  a light snack.  This time I chose two pork spring rolls.  Back in the cabin again I took a nap of about an hour, and by that time we were leaving.  Mary said at the last minute there was one really full tender, and another with just a few people in it.  I didn't hear any pages for missing people. 
   Supper was good, one of the chicken dishes I enjoyed last time, and Mary had roasted pumpkin soup.  And a double portion of a shrimp appetizer as her main.  There was singing and dancing again tonight.  Our ladies did not show again. 
   There was no show tonight, so we wandered through the shops and then sat downstairs below the piano bar waiting for it to open.  But Mary didn't last that long, and headed for the cabin.  I went up with a bunch just before 9pm, and the word has got around that the new guy is okay, so itfilled up fast.  I stayed an hour and had a Bloody Mary.  The laundry that we sent out yesterday morning came back before dinner 

Carolyn Jane:
Feb 23, 2017.  Thursday, Mahogany Bay, Roatan, Honduras.  We were docked before time, and cleared early.  Another lovely day.  I was up earlier than Mary, so I went to breakfast.  When I came back she was still sleeping.  She finally got up a bit after 9am and went we went up for her breakfast.  We had to close our drapes as they were going to be washing balconies today between 9 and noon.
   After breakfast, we took the elevator down to deck A and exited the ship.  Much to my surprise, there was another ship there, docked behind us.  Costa Deliziosa.  And here I thought there was only space for one ship.  WE made the walk into the shopping area and did the circuit.  Last time we were here, I saw some wod carvings that I wanted, but thought they would be too large to fit in my suitcase.  This time I brought a tapemeasure and had measured my suitcase.  Indeed, by measurement it was too big.  We looked at everything else and pinpointed some options.  Then we  finished the circuit, me buying a pearl and dark jade necklace and a pair of earrings in Jade Maya, while Mary bought earrings in another shop.  We went back to the shop with carvings, and I bought a cat puzzle for Erin, and we looked at the carvings again  Mary decided she would go back to the ship and get the fold up tote and see if it would fit, and measure her suitcase.  She came back with the tote, and it fit, so we bought it and another smaller one.  Mission accomplished.  More things to hang on the family room walls, to flank the gecko that climbs up between the windows. 
   Back on the ship, I went up to lido for a snack and Mary went out to sit on the balcony.  Then it was nap time.  We were off on time, and I got up to go to a talk on acupuncture for arthritis pain.  Well, that was a bust.  The buff young man from Poland mentioned acupuncture at the beginning of the talk, but proceeded to talk about your pain, etc. can be caused by toxins and they can make an appt. for you to talk about being detoxed, and how your feet can be causing your problems.  40 minutes and nothing about acupuncture.  One couple said they had to be someplace at 5, and I was ready to go, too.  There were only 5 of us there.  I'm so tempted to go back next cruise and stan up and say we didn't come to hear about toxins and feet.  If you aren't going to talk about the advertised topic, we will leave. 

   Back in the cabin, it was time to get ready for dinner.  Again, our three lady tablemates didn't show.  Ken is making up the seating for the next cruise, and asked if we would like to sit together again, although at a different table.  It seems corporate allocates tables to groups over his head.  We said okay.  No show or piano bar tonight, so we sat in the atrium for awhile listening to the guitar/singer.  The first part of the cruise it was a woman.  Last night,, she was in the Red Frog Pub.  Didn't see her tonight.  Wonder if she left the ship in Roatan, although that seems an odd place to do it...  I went to High Seas Karaoke way forward and down in butterflies lounge.  It was to start at 9:45 but was already going when I got there.  Some pretty good singers, but only a few who sang multiple times.  It closed at 10:30 so I came back to the cabin.  We are not in Grand Cayman tomorrow until 1000.  Should have the company of Coral Princess only.

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