Thursday, 3 January 2013
Tampa & CARNIVAL PARADISE Part 1
(Click on pictures to enlarge)
Saturday 24th November 2012
Today we arrived back in Miami in the darkness of 5 a.m., which I saw on the television View from the Bridge, so that was a very quick 2 nights on Carnival Breeze. I had breakfast in the Market place, below the Captain's Kitchen so had an excellent view of the beautiful lights there.
Disembarkation was easy and my group left at 7.30 a.m.; immigration and customs shore side was easy so I was soon on the prearranged Carnival coach to Miami International airport, arriving at 8.30 a.m. for my 1.50 flight. All their written instructions said I should not arrange a flight before 1.30, so I didn’t, but rather than wait so long I went to the American Airlines desk and arranged to fly at 11.50 instead, which was much better. Soon I was boarding a Boeing 737, for the 41 minutes flying time to Tampa, at 24,000 feet, so we were up and down in no time.
I was amazed at the size of this huge airport, with its mini rail to the main building to collect my suitcase and then take the shuttle bus to my hotel in Downtown Tampa, which is fairly near the Cruise Terminal. The hotel charges for wifi but Starbucks in one area of Reception offered it for free, so that was good news. Coffee and cake set me up for a lovely Riverside walk to the port where I saw JEWEL OF THE SEAS. ISPS security fencing prevented any photographs being taken.
Back at the hotel I visited the Manager's Special Reception which is two hours of free drinks and excellent snacks down in the reception area, before having an evening meal; they also provide a similarly free breakfast each morning.
Ships seen: In Miami Carnival Breeze, Carnival Liberty
In Tampa: Jewel of the Seas, American Victory near the Aquarium,
Sunday 25th November 2012
The day started with the free brunch, with lots of people attending down in the Reception area. I decided to do the tourist thing this morning and took a trolley to Ybor, a local historic town. The area around the Cruise terminal was full of traffic but the lady trolley driver soon clanged the bell and the way was clear. Ybor seems a sad little town, with interesting building facades dating from 1800s or early 1900s, but many were shut up, and most establishments were cafes or restaurants, with few shops as such. I wonder where locals buy their food and other necessities.
I walked around the streets, occasionally being deafened by music, and took a trolley back again to Channelside in Tampa, so I could get something to eat at the Greek restaurant right on the quayside. Of course it was heavily fenced off because of ISPS, but one ship was just yards away, towering up into the sky near my window table.
Back at the hotel and in my 5th floor room, I had a brainwave: took handbag, camera and elevator/lift up to the 20th floor, wedged the doors open with my handbag and photographed CARNIVAL LEGEND through the glass, leaving the port in beautiful sunshine. Had a slight surprise when a male guest suddenly appeared and started to get into the lift, so I did the English female thing of smiling politely and explaining what I was doing, and he kindly waited a minute whilst I took my view of the complete ship in the gap between buildings. Down we went, and he walked away smiling, so that was all right. I waited another 15 minutes and went up again, did the handbag trick and saw NORWEGIAN DAWN leave. I had seen on the wonderful AIS Marine Traffic website that they both had tugs beside them! That left RYNDAM and she left half an hour later. I was glad to be high up on the 20th floor with my camera, as I could see the route out of the harbour and towards the sea, and realise what a long way it is from the city through the waterways.
Ships seen: Carnival Legend, Norwegian Dawn, Ryndam
Monday 26th November 2012
Breakfast in Reception started the day well, as did a quick elevator/lift trip up to the 20th floor – hooray, I could see CARNIVAL PARADISE in port, with her stern to me. I took a taxi to the Cruise Terminal and I was on board within about fifteen minutes, which was excellent.
CARNIVAL PARADISE was built in Finland by the Kvaerner-Masa Yard in Helsinki and handed over to Carnival Cruise Lines in 1998. She is the thirteenth Fun Ship and the eighth and last vessel in the Fantasy Class series, at 70,367 gross tons, and is a diesel electric ship. She was built to carry 2,632 passengers, and sails out of Tampa on short cruises; I am on a five night cruise, visiting Grand Cayman and then Cozumel, Mexico. The Design Architect was Mr Joseph Farcus, and I really looking forward to seeing his work on this ship.
Stepping into the Atrium though was a bit of a surprise, especially after CARNIVAL BREEZE last week. Oh my, I thought, so this is Joe Farcus at his 1998 best. It's very much - notice me, notice me! There is a lot of yellow in the small flower decorations around each level of the atrium. There are ship names for most rooms and public spaces, what fun, and one of the reasons for sailing on this ship.
Because I had boarded early I had the chance to walk around and take photographs without too many other passengers in view, which I appreciated. I met one of the social hostesses for a group tour of the public rooms of the ship, and asked her if there were any arrangements for passengers travelling alone. She said there weren’t, which I thought was a bit short sighted, but then perhaps I was the only such person on the ship. I also mentioned I had been on Carnival Breeze for the 2 night inaugural cruise from Miami and she asked for my comments, so I said I wished there had been a real live band of musicians for the Shows.
My cabin is Riviera Deck 92 an outside for single use, with a king size bed, large picture window, big bathroom and lots of space. There is a back-lit picture of the Ile de France over the Life Jacket box in one corner, under the television. Walls are grey, the doors are all coral pink, and then in the bedroom area, the wiring and light switches are all channelled into wall fittings that are bright red! It clashes horribly, but I can live with it.
I had lunch in the Paris Restaurant which is really the lido area, with Mongolian Wok, salads, hot foods and other delights, to eat inside or out; later I attended a well-run Lifeboat Drill, again without lifejackets, but we were all taken up to the lifeboats from the muster stations so we knew where to go and what would happen.
We sailed from Tampa at 4 p.m. in lovely sunshine and warmth and I stood with a family from Canada. We sailed down a cut, and joined another one, saw a few dolphins in our wake, with dry-docks one side, plush homes on the other, oil holders, and heaps of something grey in the distance. This is a very flat State, I’m told. It was calm and lovely heading south, through the many miles to the sea.
Before dinner I had a drink in the America Bar (the Piano bar), with a Guess the Tune competition from the pianist. All was fine until he played ‘Sweet Caroline’, which reminded me of the distance between me and my loved ones at home. I had chosen second sitting for dinner and was so pleased to be shown to a table in the Elation Restaurant where I met new friends Misty and Jeremy.
Ships seen: Carnival Breeze, Linda Moran, American Victory, Sea Cruise I, Sea Cruise II, Orange Sun, Sulphur Enterprise, Honourable Henry Jackman
To be continued...