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Carnival Splendor through Agua Clara and Cocoli locks Jan 2018

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Carolyn Jane:
Splendor Revisited
Carnival Splendor Jan 13-27 2018
14 Jan 2018.  Miami.  Up early this morning to follow a ship through the Gatun Locks for Seacruise.  WE then loaded Mary's car and she drove us to Jacksonville for our flight to Miami.  Weather was a bit chilly.  It was 42 when I go up at 0630, but when we left at 0900 it was down to 36.  Fortunately it was ten degrees warmer in JAX.

I think our flight left on time, and arrived on time.  Small commuter plane. We love these because we can gate-check our roller bags and not have to wrestle them into the overhead.  We were on the west side of the sirport and banked to approach from the east.  That allowed us a view of Dodge Island POM with five ships.  Got off the plane, hiked into the terminal, and down the corridors to the train, two stop to terminal exit, where we called the shuttle from the hotel.  It arrived in ten minutes.  Made one stop at Delta where one man got off, and a couple got on.  About 20 minutes to the hotel, Hilton Garden Inn Miami Airport West.  Seems like you have to drive all the way around the airport to get to any hotel. 

The hotel had a room ready for us for early checkin, and our package of egg crate mattress toppers that I sent here FedEx.  We wished for them on Carnival Glory, were glad we had them on Pride.  Did not need on Magic, Fascination or Elation.  But couldn't take the risk of 13 nights on Splendor in hard beds.  Mary is really uncomfortable with her hip.  Will be seeing a surgeon in early Feb. 

There was a towel animal waiting for us on our bed.  Not even on the ship and already we have a towel anumal.  Rested a bit and turned on the TV for the NFL playoff game.  I had to take a nap during the first half.  During halftime, we went down to the restaurant and had supper, watching the second half on the TV there.  The Eagles won (Mary's team) but I had sort of hoped Atlanta would win.   Nowe we are watching the second game.
We have 1100 reservations on the shuttle to the port.  $12pp. 

Carolyn Jane:
Towel animal

Manuela:
That's adorable!

Carolyn Jane:
14 Jan 2018.  Sunday, Miami.  We are in the channel, moving out.  NCL Getaway is ahead of us, Divina and Navigator still in place.  I got Mary up at 9am and we had breakfast, relaxed for a time and then caught our ride to the port.  It surely is a small world.  There were people in the shuttle that were familiar with/from some small towns we knew from summers in very rural northern Missouri.  And another who was familiar with the part of northern PA where Mary lived several years. 
     Got to the port and grabbed our bags and egg crate mattress toppers.  Walked right into the terminal, only a short wait for 'check in', which involved scanning our passports and looking at boarding passes.  Then to security, where we had to wait a bit as they were already boarding and the hallway was full.  We took the escalators upstairs and the line kept moving.  finally on the ship, and caught an elevator down to deck 1 where we have an OV cabin.  Our Sail & Sign cards were waiting in our mailbox. 
     We unpacked and relaxed until they were about to announce all cabins were open, and then went up to fill our drink bottles and have a bite.  Then we explored a bit before returning to our cabin for a short rest before muster drill.
     On Splendor, there is a separate lifeboat deck, where we mustered outside - much like on HAL.  They scanned one card from each cabin.  One they accounted for everyone, the drill was short, but then we had to wait for those needing assistance to leave the assembly, and then we were released.  Then it was back to the cabin for another rest, until the cabin steward tapped on the door to introduce himself.  He is George, from St. Vincent.  WE have early seating, and on this ship it is 1730 with late seating 1945.  That may be cutting our afternoon nap short, but I'm sure we will be able to adjust. 

Dinner was an interesting affair.  To backtrack a bit, when we boarded and sought our cabin, there was a little lady ahead of us with an accent that seemed to be unsure whether they wanted her to get to her cabin and that it would be okay.    Already grumbling and we hadn't even left port.  Fast forward to dinner.  WE had to wait until they opened the doors to the dining room, then there was noone to guie you to your table.  This same lady was standing at the host podium and saying she wouldn't accept the table she was assigned to, wanted something different.  I have no idea what they problem was with the assigned table.  Turned out he took her to our table.  Ugh.  She sounded like someone with an 'entitled' complex.  I purposely didn't sit next to her.  We have a ten top with 11 chairs.  We have another solo cruiser with friends onboard who were eating at the Steakhouse tomight.  She was from Ontario, Canada and flew in today.  There are three traveling together, they might be from NJ.  Two other women joined the table also.  The trio were all heavy set, and had trouble with the armchairs.  The husband managed to get things changed during dinner, and tomorrow they will be gone upstairs to late seating at a table with armless chairs.  I think the other two ladies may change also.  The table is just too large for good conversation, and there was jazz playing the whole time, making it even harder to hear.  That may leave six at the table, although the early seating in is demand, so we may get replacements. 
     Dinner was very long.  I hope it was just the first night chaos.  We were just leaving the table at 1930, two hours.  Interesting coincidence - of the 9 at the table, 6 were nurses. 
    We left the dining room and headed for the shops, where we browsed the EFFY, and then the clothing and souvenirs.  I wanted to peek into the library, but that was all we could do.  Despite being listed as open 24 hours, it was locked.   We stopp[ed into the sports bar just as the last NFL game ended, and tennis came on.  We might have stayed and watched, but we wanted to check out the piano bar.  Gregg is a good piano bar guy, so we will be back.  There was a group traveling together from Anchorage that dribbled in, and they were haveing a good time...  I was just sitting there yawning, so we left after an hour. 

Carolyn Jane:
15 Jan 2018  Monday, at Sea.  Weather has been regrettable much of the day.  Has warmed up outside, pretty chilly inside...Rain off and on.  I was up by 9am, breakfast in the buffet, then off to shore excursions.  I had booked an excursion for Antigua (Guatemala) just to be sure we had a way there, but we didn't want the city tour, just the transportation there and back.  They said they would probably offer the Antigua on Your Own on the ship, but they wanted to sell the other tour...  So we get on, and I bring up excursion on my Hub App, and there it is.  So I cancelled the one I had, and booked the other (cheaper) one.  Saved. $60.
     Went to the At Sea and Ashore talk.  No shopping talk, these ports don't have recommended stores (except maybe Cabo).  I was surprised he only described a few of the many available tours, non of the ones to Antigua.  Of course, the CD admitted ha has never been to any of these ports. 
     I then dropped into the Academy of Fun talk on photography.  He was telling the audience, a healthy one, how to get the most from their point and shoot and cell cameras.  I learned a few things about my iphone.    Back to the cabin for a nap.  Mary said earlier that we passed an NCL ship, and blew the horn another time, so maybe we met another Carnival ship.  I can't get into Marine Traffic, probably too many people online now, so I couldn't ID them.  Shower, and first Elegant Night.  First Playlist show of the cruise, too. 

     Well, the first Elegant night was...interesting.  There were a number of formal gowns and I noticed at least three tuxes.  But some people's idea of formal tended more to the 'dress up' we used to play as children.  One man was wearing a suit of wide light blue and white stripes, with pink flamingos, fuschia polo shirt with tie that matched the suit.  And white sneakers.  His wife was wearing a different blue and white stripe dress with a border print of large pink flamingos.  I might post a picture when I can...WE saw another lady in a heavy brocade type fabric in a pale mauve with pink puffs all over, either some kind of feathers, or cotton balls.  The dress was not floor length, but long and had a matching caps.  Looked like something you might see at a renaissance fair.  Her hairdo matched.  He bangs were red, but the rest was a sort of pewter braids, something link some ethnic groups wear, although she was white. 
     Dinner was interesting.  Three of our table were gone, but the couple who at at the Steakhouse last night were there, as well as a new pair, a woman and her sister in law.  So we were ten, and the 11th chair was gone.  Our entitled lady was vocal, kept reminding her neighbor that she was Diamond, found out she is originally from Israel, and lives in the richest neighborhood in Dallas.  Service again was very slow, and we were not out again before 1930.  We wanted to go to the show, but it had started at 1915, so we went to the shops and then to the 9pm show.  I did purchase a little bauble for my finger in the shops, something I had been looking for.  I think I got a good price. 

We were late to the piano bar after the show, and it was packed, and the joint was jumpin'.  This guy is a good piano bar man, and is gathering a following.  We left at 11pm, when he went on break.  Tonight we got a towel animal - elephant, and our platinum gift of Tervis tumblers.  One of the flyers on our bed is for laundry bag specials.  One bag $15 for same day service, another package of 5 bags for $50, same day service.  I don't believe they offered this on our Pride cruise of 14 days.  Theymust be learning as they go with the longer cruises, and find it is something they need to offer, even though they have self service laundries. 
     Another sea day tomorrow.  Have to decide what to do in Cartagena.

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