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Armonia Western Caribbean 25 Aug - 2 Sep 2019

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Carolyn Jane:
Armonic Experience  25 Aug  - 2 Sep 2019
MIA - Roatan - Costa Maya - Cozumel - Key West - MIA

25 August  JAX - MIA.  Sunday.  We were off to JAX by 0900.  So faar no rain.  Drive was uneventful.  Found a good space in long term covered parking.  Going to cost a bundle, but certainly a lot less than cruise port parking.  Checked in at the gate - had checked in for flight online, had boarding passes on phones as well as printed.  Got 'valet check' tag for rollaboards.  Actually, we could have checked them for free from my credit card, or at the gate because bins on this 1x2 plane are not large enough for even rollaboard suitcases. 
 Plane left on time, arrived on time.  It was raining in Miami, lightly.  As we glided into Miami I had a good view of the port and Breakaway in for turnaround, and Grandeur on a port call.  Made our way to the terminal exit and called for the shuttle to the hotel.  Did not have to wait too long.  Not much longer than it took me to get through in the first place. 
Checked into the hotel, this year Hampton Inn Miami Airport East.  Room is kind of minimalist.  Missing a lamp in the corner by the couch.  Bathroom has a barn door that slides to close the closet or bathroom.  No nightlight in bathroom.  Must remember not to leave mine behind. 
I went back down to the desk to register for the shuttle to the port.  $12pp.  Probably what a cab would cost.  We are not in to Uber or Lyft yet.  Also got a list of suggested dining in the area. 
Took a nap as we had a baseball game on, and when I awoke there was a thunderstorm going on.  Hard to tell if I was hearing thunder, or the landing path for the airport had changed. 
Got on my ipad and browsed through the menus for the suggested venues.  Lots of focus on Cuban cuisine.  We settled on a sports bar, and it was good.  The hotel called a cab for us, and when we got there the driver gave me a card.  When we were done, we went out and I called the company and they were there in five minutes.  It was raining again.
Back in the hotel, we are again watching football.   
I think airports are cutting down on a/c.  Definitely not cold in JAX, and the plane could have been a tad cooler.  Coldest place was the terminal for gate 60 in MIA.  We always freeze there waiting for our flights home.  As we entered, a lady walked by with a blanket around her.  The hotel lobby is cool, as is the room, but the hallways are hot!  Had a new experience in the elevator.  You have to wave your key card over a spot on the wall before you can punch in your floor. 

Carolyn Jane:
Our ship awaits   :bounce: ;D

Carolyn Jane:
26 Aug 2019  Miami   Early morning for me.  Up before 7am.  Awake earlier than that.  We hav been down to breakfadt, which was standard hotel fare, and crowded.  We should have waited 20 min.  Lots of table hogs, like in the buffet...  Bet a lot of them are on the 1000 shuttle to POM.  Sunny day, although there was rain about 0600. 
Later.  This has been a most interesting day.  We got the 11am shuttle to the port.  There was some confusion about paying, as when I booked it he said they could charge it to my hotel bill, and I said okay.  Apparently he was supposed to give me a voucher, and she finally got it from them..When I checked my bill later in an email, they had not charged me for it, and the room charge was quite a bit less than I was told when I reserved...
We got to the port about 1130.  The shuttle had two other groups that were going to Carnival Victory, so they let them off first.  We walked around to the front of the building and right in.  No lines at all.  They waved us to the not too long line, but when I said Black Card we were waved to a line that wasn't - just us.  We went through security and Mary's hip didn't ding it.  And I didn't have to take out my computer.  Then up the escalator and the long walk to checkin hall.  I don't remember this hall, and we only sailed MSC last Feb.  Of course, there was no Yacht Club tent out front, as Armonia doesn't have Yacht Club.  But it all seemed different.  No lines at checkin, and we were rolling right along.  Straight onto the ship, as we had priority boarding and they were already calling group 3, and by the time we were walking in, up to group 7.  The ramps were downhill...
We boarded the ship on deck 6, and walked aft some before we just collapsed into chairs along the windows opposite the casino.  We sat awhile, and Mary really needed something to drink, so we started aft again, and ran into a bar that was open, and they filled her bottle with ice and water.  Then we headed for the elevators to deck 11 and the buffet.  Which was a madhouse.  Not just the lines, but finding a table.  There was a place checking bags, but we just kept rolling ours.  We grabbed a table being vacated by a single guy, and I went to the buffet and got salad.  When I came back, Mary went and got soup and some salad and fruit.  She refilled her water bottle, and off we went, to find a less crowded place to sit and wait for our cabin to be ready.  They said they would be ready at 2pm. 
We took the elevator down and wandered through the Marco Polo restaurant and found our assigned table, 541.  It is a 9 or 10 top.  Depends on how they squeeze on the settings.  The restaurant is odd, as it is in two parts, separated by an elevator bank.  To get anywhere from it, you either have to take the stairs/elevator up one floor, or walk forward theough the other part of the restaurant.  Which we did. 
We found a lounge with lots of seating and sat for a spell.  Then I got up and went exploring farther forward, and found the White Lion Pub which is sort of a sports bar, and one of the screens had the US Open tennis on.  I also found the theater, and went in to take pictures.  There were a few people sitting in there, watching one of the performers practicing on the large hoop. 
I went back and rejoined Mary, and at 1:30 they announced that the cabins were ready.  WE came to the cabin, sat and rested and explored it, and then I unpacked.  There is lots of storage.  Even though it is quite small.  One odd thing is that there are quite large nightstands, but we can't use the storage.  They are fitted with lamps that the shades are hemispheres, and when the beds are together, the stands have the lamps against the side walls.  So there are doors that open and a shelf inside.  But when you split the beds, they put the side with the lamps under the window, and the doors are against the side of the bed and can't be used.  One could pull out the stands and turn them so that the lamps are back to back in the middle of the stands, and then have use of the storage, but I guess they thing people wouldn't like that...  I know it is hard to imagine, but I will post pictures.
After awhile, Mary decided she needed to eat, so she went up to the buffet.  I went out shortly after and headed for the gelato place.  I thought hey, I'm just on deck 9, I'll take the stairs op to deck 11.   Ummm...the nearest stairs only go to deck 10.  So it was take the elevator to deck 11, or walk forward to another set of stairs....  I took the elevator, which let me out by the pool area.  I went forward, taking pictures...It had started to storm earlier while we were eating, making the crowding in the buffet even worse as people couldn't sit outside.  It was still raining lightly, but there were kids in the play area and in the pools.  I found the gelataria and had the stracciatella (chocolate chip), which was pretty bland.  Not much taste to the vanilla part.  I then walked further forward and found the kids area (under threes, and over threes...), and the spa.  Then went down each deck, and glanced down the hallway to the Medical Center, which is on deck 7.  Odd, since they are usually below the lowest passenger deck. 
I walked back across deck 6 to the elevator closest to our cabin, taking pictures as I went.  When I got back to the cabin, Mary was in bed...a little bit teary.  Less than five hours on the ship and she had eaten something with her allergen in it.  Probably a roll.  She had eaten a little of a sandwich and realized she was having trouble swallowing.  Came straight back to the cabin for benadryl.  By this time it was 4:30, and muster drill was at 5:15.  But we made it okay. 
Muster on Armonia is out on deck under your lifeboat (like on HAL).  We were station W.  They go all the way to Z.  Of course, they were scanning cards to make sure everyone attended, but some didn't, so immediately after they announced a drill in the business center for those who missed it...
We had time to relax a bit before going to dinner.  Hmmm... No dress code tonight.  LOTS of shorts, but then, a few who really dressed up.  During the evening we saw people in dresses that would certainly be called gowns.  There are several scooters...One of the waiters was having fun with one, which had been accessorized.  REd lights across the base at the back, a fan on the tiller, as well as a horn and rear view side mirrors, as well as one of those found green fans on the base pointing up.  He rode it up and down the dining room tooting the horn...
Our table was set up for 10, seven chairs and three on a curved banquette.  We took the banquette, as first there.  Three young girls and a fellow joined us, but then he and one of the girls went off, and when he eventually came back, he had arranged a whole table for a full group, and it was right next to us.  That left Mary and I, and an older man who had joined us.  Eventually, our orders were taken, and we were served pretty fast.  Hope some new people show up tomorrow.  Elegant night. 
After dinner, we wandered forward and through the shops which were now open.  There is one strictly MSC logo shop, small and crowded.  There is an apparrel shop that seems to be aimed at Europeans, of which there are a lot onboard.  Lots and lots of watches; the Inch of Gold will be available tomorrow...  The jewelry store was packed, too.  We ended up in the White Lion Pub and watched tennis until time for the show. 
The cruise director dragged out introductions and welcomes too long, and Mary was falling asleep, so she left before the real show started.  I stayed and the show was pretty good.  Four singers, four male and six female dancers.  No cirque stuff tomight.  After the show, I wandered through the jewelry shop, then headed back to the pub to watch more tennis.  There is a decent singer there, and when she went on break, one of the staff came around with the opening round of progressing trivia.  Surprise!  I won.  Got 11 of 16.  Then it was time to come back to the cabin and start in on this opus. 
Before we left 'Verizon waters' I was able to upload all my pictures from my camer into Shutterfly via the app.  Glad I figured out how to do that, and had set up the folders ahead of time. 

I must say that the ship is beautiful, she doesn't look old and worn, although I believe she is from 1999 - although stretched at one point.  Still, she is smaller than the Fantasy class of Carnival.  I have a lot more exploring to do...
We gain an hour of sleep tonight.

Carolyn Jane:
27 Aug 2019  Tuesday, at sea.  Of course, I was up much earlier than Mary, and went up to the buffet for breakfast.  It was not terribly busy, so I was able to find a table.  I found that this ship does have cottage cheese, so I had some with fruit.  Along with eggs and sausage.  I went around taking more pictures, mamaged to find a machine working to register my credit card, and sat outside the Red Bar waiting for the Cruise Critic Meet & Mingle to start.  I watched them set it up with the cake, and little plates of hors d'ouvres and martini glasses with chocolate strawberries.  We were offered drinks...chanpagne, mimosa, wine, bloody Mary.  I had the latter.  I think you could have asked for other things.  The cruise director welcomed us, and introduced some of the senior staff.  I joined a couple who were talking with the asst. hotel director, and he told us that at the end of next year, Armonia would be going to Tampa.  And that they hoped to have a dozen ships sailing in the Caribbean.  I suggested that the Armonia class was the ideal size to sail from many US ports, those that could not handle the larger ships because of bridges (Baltimore, Jacksonbille, Tampa and that the ships currently serving those areas are the oldest in their respective fleets...
We also had a chat with the head of housekeeping, and soon after, they were knocking on our door to remove the duvet (too hot) and replace with a top sheet.  They also delivered our chocolate ships, chocolate covered strawberries, and bottle of prosecco.  But back to the M&G:  they told us there are 1900 Americans onboard, and 900 Europeans.  Tonight at the show they introduced the senior officers, the captain (from the Faero Islands of Denmark) read a list of how many guests were from which countries.  Quite an amazing array.  Not all of the non-Americans are from Europe. 
I came back to the cabin after the meeting and Mary got sressed and we went to get her some brunch.  It was really crowded, and we ended up at a table outside.  There was a breeze so it wasn't too bad.  I went down to the pub and watched whatever was on the tV, although it wasn't tennis.  Did a little crocheting.  Came back to the cabin and got a little nap before we showered for Elegant Night.
I must say that this shower makes Princess seem roomy.  But it works. 
In the dining room tonight, there were still people trying to find their tables, and to change them.  There was a continual crowd around the Maitre 'd desk.  And people came it very late.  The people at the next table, some didn't show until 7:10, when dinner is at 6:30 for early seating.  I think many can't adjust to not having anytime dining.  We are to be only three at our table, unless someone asks for a change and are assigned to us.  We have a good view of the passing scene, and the dress code was nowhere in evidence.  Ragged short shorts and t-shirts alongside evening gowns.  And everything in between. 
We went from dinner back to the pub to watch tennis again, until time for the show, French Follies.  It ran a little late, as the captain took up so much time reading the list.  He has a sense of humor...or maybe that is humour...  Lot of dancing, not much singing, but the acrobats were there in full force.  After the show, we went back to the pub and did night 2 of the trivia.  Tougher tonight, very random, but I still won with 6 out of 15. 
We gain another hour of sleep tonight, not arriving in to Roatan/Coxen Hole until noon.  The captain said we are making good time because the chief engineer has figured out how to harness the treadmills to the engines to increase efficiency...

Carolyn Jane:
28 Aug 2019  Coxen Hole, Roatan, Honduras.  I went up to breakfast after 9am.  Still crowded at the Brasserie.  But I managed to grab a tables a a lady was leaving.  While I was eating, the captain came on and said that since we had had 25 kt winds and seas, we would be delayed into Roatan by 45 min.  But that he would keep the ship in port another hour and tours would not be affected.  We were due in at noon, already.  I finished eating and headed back to the cabin.  Mary headed up to find something to eat.  Before noon!  I rested a bit, and while I was sleeping we arrived in Roatan.

The port is outside our window, so I grabbed my cellphone and went out to get some pictures.  I wanted to get to deck 6 and go outside, so I went all the way aft where there is a door to the outside and a small deck area with stairs.  I went down to sseven, and there were a few loungers there, and a couple of people.  There were stairs down to deck 6, so I went down.  There were tables there, set for dining, a a couple taking pictures.  I think they belong to either la Pergola restaurant (Aurea and Fantastica Suite guests) or the Surf & Turf restaurant.  I didn't think I would dare go through those doors, so I went back up to deck 7.  There I went back down the inside stairs to deck 6.  I walked forward through the lounges but all of the doors either said crew only, or were tied off for 'high winds'.  I finally found one where the sign had been put aside, and was able to go out. 
It was still quite breezy.  I took pictures from the railing, lots of people gathered on the dock behind guides with signs.  The gangway was all the way forward. on deck 4.   From there, I went back inside and went up to deck 12 in the elevator.  I went to the railing and took more pictures, then went aft, taking pool area pictures (without people, wonder why...).  Aft, I went up to deck 13 and found the mini-golf course, and then went up the stairs to deck 14 and the basketball court.  Then it was time to go back to the cabin.  It was quite warm and humid.  The wind up top blew my visor off but I managed to catch it before it could blow away. Later, on the pier, we would see a man race across the pier to grab his hat before it could blow into the water.

I came back to the cabin and gathered Mary, and we went ashore.  I don't think there is much more here than there was the number of years ago when I was here before.  The upper level of the shopping mall is being renovated, so there is nothing there but a restaurant.  We did find t-shirts with lizards on them, and I bought a ring in Colombian Emeralds.  But it is not an emerald, just a silver ring.  We were hot an sweaty, so came back to the ship to cool down and rest. 
Supper was disappointing for me, as there were no entrees that I liked, so I ordered the always available New York strip steak.  I have been disappointed in MSC beef before, and this was no exception.  Not much taste, and very tough.  Half a dozen bites and the rest a waste.  But the appetizer and salad were good. 
Back to the White Lion to watch Serena Williams at the US open, then to the show.  The Addams Family.  Not much point to the show, the acrobats and juggler were out in force.  Then back to the pub for more tennis and trivia.  Guess what.  We/I didn't win tonight - we tied for the lead.  Bit I still lead the totals by 6 points.  By that time, it was 11:45 and we lose an hour sleep tonight.  Have to pay back what we borrowed last night.  Costa Maya tomorrow.  We dock as 0800, but we are there until 1730, so we will probably be off the ship after noon. 

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