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Truth in Palmyra

By Wally Fry

Category

Cruising

Here a Meal, There a Meal, Everywhere a Meal!

To say cruising is about, in large part, the dining would be a really big understatement. It’s actually quite the focal point(sadly for the waistline I fear.) It’s more than just food; it is an experience. For today, I’ll just be sharing a few notes and some yummy pictures of some of the high points.

Food is EVERYWHERE. If one desires, they can literally eat 24 hours a day. Want fast food? Got it. Want a lazy brunch? Got it. Want a quick buffet? Got it. Want something a little more formal, that is almost an event in itself? Got that too!

Our first stop on board was Guy’s Burger Joint, as it is open for those coming on board already hungry. That would be Guy Fieri of Food Network fame. He isn’t actually there of course, but who needs him if we have his burgers and hand cut fries?

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For those who want breakfast, but don’t want to roll out at breakfast time, there is a really nice sit-down brunch. Cool pretty fruit faces too!

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Pasta Bella is a really great pasta bar, and a regular stop for us. You fill out a check sheet with your pasta, meat, sauce and vegetable preference, drop it off and like magic your own creations shows up in about 5 minutes.

Evening dining is a bit more formal, being a full-service event with multiple courses. They have a standard menu and special items for each evening. Like more than one thing? No problem, just order it and you can have it. I took full advantage of that on lobster night, and had my fill of steak and lobster!

Some main events

And of course desert!

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Showtime!

They do some really great onboard shows on the Carnival ships. As I have said, they don’t call them “Fun Ships,” for nothing. They actually have a production facility on land out on the West Coast somewhere I believe, where the shows are produced and rehearsed before sending them out on the ships. Good stuff. We made two this year. The America Rocks show and the 80s Pop show.

Here is us looking thuggish at the America Rocks show.

The 80s show brought back a LOT of memories of my younger days for sure.

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Late Dining

For the first years cruising, we ate a lot at the buffets. We had no clue what we were missing, as the sit-down evening dining is quite the event. We had 815 late dining, which turned out to work out very nicely. It’s a happening in and of itself and lasts for a couple of hours. The advantage to assigned dining is that you have the same table and staff every night, and by the end of the week everybody is almost friends. It’s also a great way to connect with the whole family every day. We don’t make the youngster hang out with us all day, but evening dining is a command performance.

Still an even on every cruise is at least one Formal night, where jacket and tie are still almost mandatory. I say almost because the dress codes have become a lot more relaxed over the years.

Our staff this year were Wesley, from Nigeria and Tri, from Indonesia. Nice fellow, and always very attentive, friendly and fast; in fact, they were almost the perfect wait staff. Part of the evening events is usually some form of entertainment, usually performed by the staff and participated in by the passengers. Not me. I don’t dance, period. I have to major theological problem with it but am just goofy so I don’t bother. 20180319_201959

And of course more food!

 

 

Jamaica-Dunn’s River Falls

After a couple of days break, it’s time to continue our vacation.

Dunn’s River Falls in Jamaica has been a regular and a high point for three trips there. It’s a huge attraction in Jamaica, and popular with both tourists and locals(So we are told; I assume they frequent the place on non-tour days!) It’s beautiful and the guides do a great job; it’s actually quite strenuous and somewhat the adventure outing, to be honest. Bumps, strains and other general physical maladies do sometimes result!

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Who’s In Your Bed?

Ok. Nothing wrong going on here I promise. On the cruise, we returned to our staterooms each day to find animals in our beds. Towel animals that is!

Remember that snoring, sleep talking young man I mentioned earlier? Well, this melted blob is him.

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On Deck!

They don’t call Carnival cruise ships, “Fun Ships,” without good reason. Things take off quickly aboard ship and keeps on going until the very end. Normally we board the ship around 1130 or so, but passengers can’t get in their staterooms until 100 about, so food and fun is the fare until then. The first stop on this trip was, no surprise, food. Guys’ burgers to be precise. Guy Fieri , the fellow who does the show, “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives” among others has a very nice arrangement with Carnival to have a Guy’s Burger place on certain ships. Fresh beef, formed and fried on the grill. Yum. Did I mention the fresh, hand cut fries and the every-topping- you can imagine bar?Attach94344_20180318_121822.jpg

Next up, fun on Deck. Conga lines and Dr. Seusss. What could be better? Carnival likes Dr. Seuss as well; in fact, on one day they actually have a Dr. Suess breakfast. I never attend. Why not you ask?

I do not like green eggs and ham. I do not like them Sam I am.

 

I had to give a special place to THIS guy. He is Chris Williams, the Cruise Director on our boat. This is NOT Julie from the Love Boat, I promise! He is Scottish, and goes by “The Flying Scotsman.” What an amazing fellow. Yes, he wore his kilt the entire cruise. He came up from the ranks as a singer and dancer in Carnival show crews. He did his own show at one point, and can really belt out some great tunes. He also happens to be a classically trained singer, and during his show proved he has one of the finest Operatic tenor voices you could ever hear.

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And finally, just us starting the fun.

 

Saturday-Embarkation Eve

We are blessed vacation wise, in that we live quite close to two of the largest cruise ports in the country, Galveston and New Orleans. We have only used Galveston once, and an oil spill cost us two days of sea time, so we prefer New Orleans. It’s a short drive, really only around seven hours.

Sunday is actually embarkation day, but we always go up Saturday so we don’t have to get up so seriously early to arrive by 11:00 or so, which is normal embarkation time. This time we drove an hour south of New Orleans to a town called Houma, where we met with some friends who have family there. That’s actually funny, in that we live less than a few miles from them and drove 8 hours to have supper with them. I already wrote about the seafood feast we had there, but hey…can one write about food too much? Crab legs, frog legs, shrimp, chicken and the whole enchilada so to speak. All you can eat. Yum right?

 

The port of New Orleans is very cool and unique. It is a deepwater port, yet it is not a harbor. The port is actually quite a few miles up the Mississippi River. It’s far enough up that when passengers go to bed night one, we are still in the River. Here is some data from Wikipedia:

The Port of New Orleans is a deep-water draft port located in New Orleans, Louisiana. In 2016, it was the fourth largest port in the United States based on volume of cargo handled. It also has the longest wharf in the world, which is 2.01 miles (3.4 km) long and can accommodate 15 vessels at one time.

The Port of New Orleans handles about 90 million short tons of cargo a year. The port also handles about 50,000 barges and 1,000,000 cruise passengers per year, with several cruise ships from Carnival and Norwegian Cruise Lines, making it one of the nation’s premier cruise ports. The Port of South Louisiana, based in the New Orleans suburb of LaPlace handles 193 million short tons. The Port of New Orleans and the Port of South Louisiana combined form one of the largest port systems in the world by bulk tonnage and among the top ten in the world by annual volume handled. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

One thing that is very cool is that Carnival Ships pull up the to the wharf just short of a low clearance bridge and stop; then, the ship has to actually do a u-turn to go back down the river. This is a serious River!

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Lots of traffic and goings on in the River!

And finally, us just on board

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An Ode to Cruising

We cruise. That is our vacation of choice. We work hard all year, and annual vacation is one of the benefits of hard work. We have only not cruised together twice since we started. Once was last year when we went to Israel and also the year before that when our boat was going to not return until Resurrection day and we thought God’s house was where we should be that day. So, for the next little bit, I am going to be that obnoxious guy who makes you sit and watch slide shows and regal you all with a  little tour of our week.

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There were four of us again this year, with minor adjustments. Our oldest is married, pastoring his church and quite busy with his own life. It was the two of us, our youngest and her significant other. No worries! The boys shared a room and the girls had theirs. Plus he has been sealed with the FEAR OF DAD, and they know the rules for personal interaction. So, I spent a week in a room with an 18-year-old young man who snores and talks in his sleep. Yay! Nice fellow, he is, though.

So, why do we cruise?

It’s an awesome value, with a LOT of bang for the buck. More or less, once you pay, you could technically not have to spend another dime. If you drink(which we don’t) it costs. If you do stuff like spa treatments, buy pictures or buy souvenirs it costs. Other than that it is an all in deal.

The food. Oh….my…the food. First, that is all included. Folks, one can literally eat 24 hours a day in one form or another. “Fast” food, buffets and nice sit-down dining are all available. The staff who does this are the real deal, and the quality is excellent. There will be more on the food later.

The coffee. Hey, coffee matters. Again, one can have it 24 hours a day and it’s good stuff. They have these neat coffee machines that brew it as needed, on the spot. Hot, fresh and free-flowing just as coffee should be. Specialty coffees are available but are extra. One of my personal high points when we port in Jamaica is to purchase a couple of pounds of Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee. This may possibly be the best coffee on the planet. I only buy a couple of pounds; more would require a second mortgage LOL.

The stuff to do. Again, something for all. One can lay on the deck, play games, read in the library, go to clubs, sing Karaoke or just about anything you could want. Or, as we do, one can lay on the deck for hours and periodically arise to go have fun or eat, then return to the deck.

The simplicity of relaxation. Oh, my. I read four books. Fiction books. Not great works of literature, either. Crime and suspense novels. Brain candy. I also got to work on my current Bible project, which is to memorize the Book of James. Many words crossed my eyes in this week.

The ports. Okay, I get that cruise ports are tourist traps and they just want our money. So what? They earn a living and we have fun. This time it was Jamaica, Grand Cayman and Cozumel.

The ship staff. All I can say here is the service industry back home could learn a few things from Carnival Cruise lines. They are always friendly, always attentive and always ready to fulfill passenger needs with a smile. They actually are taught how to have fun and personally interact with people. Amazing really. By the end of the week, the ones you see daily are almost like friends.

So, what’s the downside? Well, Carnival calls its ships “Fun Ships.” Not all fun is Godly fun, and this can be problematic for believers at times. Often the fun is a bit outside the pale of comfort for some. Sometimes that covenant one makes with their eyes has to be self-enforced. Sometimes one just has to walk away from something or another. Sadly, many who probably claim to be believers just dive in full force, but that is probably another story.

At any rate, stay tuned as our journey unfolds!

 

 

 

 

 

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