(click on pictures to enlarge)
Friday 23rd November 2012
Today we arrived in Nassau, in the Bahamas, at 8 a.m
I was on deck at 7.30 a.m. all dressed and ready for the day, as I couldn't sleep any more and the View from the Bridge was looking very enticing. All around was blue sky and hot sunshine as we approached the quayside. Up on deck I met two charming American ladies - Valerie and her friend Jean - and we chatted for quite a while. We could see the hotel resort of Atlantis on Paradise Island which looked weird and wonderful, but then Michael Jackson thought enough of it to have his permanent rooms there, over the bridge between the buildings.
We had breakfast on board and watched the huge surf pounding onto the surrounding outer rocks and the turquoise sea was a wonderful colour wherever I looked. I understand there is very deep water outside the reefs.
We walked ashore to Festival Place Market which was noisy, vibrant and colourful, just at the entrance to the Cruise Ship port. The original building was destroyed by fire in 2001 I gather, and this rebuilt one is said to reflect the architectural style of a Bahamian village and evokes a time when Bahamian artisans and crafts persons practised their art and trade in small island communities, with over 45 artisans busy at their work in the Straw Market. Most of them were busy making hats and bags and I have never seen so many for sale all at once. Walking around the town was interesting and occasionally hazardous as some building work was being undertaken in unexpected places, but the high number of diamond and jewellery shops was a surprise. The T-shirt shops appeared to be doing good business too.
We walked along a town quay to watch the arrival of NORWEGIAN EPIC into the harbour, and she really is an odd sight with the positioning of her forward cabins.
She had been closely followed by CARNIVAL SENSATION but because of the EPIC manoeuvring, the SENSATION had to wait outside the harbour. We felt so glad not to be on board her then, as the wind and currents caused her bow and stern to rise and fall rather a lot as she struggled to stay in place, and we saw one anchor dropped to try to help. Once EPIC was alongside, the CARNIVAL SENSATION could come into port.
I knew that my Father had been to Nassau on the ARANDORA STAR in 1931, but his two pictures taken there show a huge shark being carved up on deck, whilst he and other colleagues look on. Father is in the right hand picture, third from the right, in his Engine room overalls.
Back on board CARNIVAL BREEZE the pool deck lunch looked very appetising, with a big choice. We sailed from Nassau at 5 p.m. under a threatening sky, but the view from the stern decks was fascinating as we left the port and soon came into deeper water. The Pilot left us as we sheltered him from the rising wind, and we watched the views of the island disappear into the dusk.
Dinner this evening included a starter of alligator fritters, which I decided to try. It was all right, but mixed with vegetables so there was hardly any flavour, but maybe that was the idea. Some diners kept doing arm movements like an alligator's jaws, but we eventually realised that is the name of a famous American football team so they are used to doing that action when the name is called.
Again this evening the Maitre d' sang, some of the waiters danced on a few tables down on the lower level of the restaurant, and it was fun to watch.
The Show at 10.15 was again good, but there is no orchestral music, it is only recorded, and yet there is an excellent band playing for the atrium after dinner. That atrium is so like those on Costa ships but there seems to be more participation on here with hundreds of people happily dancing or standing around on the various levels enjoying the music.
Tomorrow we arrive back in Miami before dawn, and later I leave the ship to start the next part of my Miami-based adventure, by flying up to Tampa to join another Carnival ship. I am now part of the Carnival family!
Ships seen: A Bahamas ferry, Norwegian Epic, Carnival Sensation
Saturday 24th November 2012
Here we are back in Miami Cruise Terminal, with Carnival Liberty astern, and I will be leaving the ship to head for the airport.
I have really enjoyed my time on CARNIVAL BREEZE, although it was rather short. I think the ship architects, the Partner Ship Design company of Hamburg, Germany, have done an excellent job with many memorable places on board, and I would be pleased to sail on her again. My travelling companion has written an article about the ship which will be published in the Ocean Liner Society's quarterly magazine "Sea Lines" so I shall look forward to reading an in-depth description and review of the ship.
To be continued....
(click on pictures to enlarge)
Thursday 22nd November 2012
How lovely, it's Carnival Day! It's also Thanksgiving Day, so there were lots of good wishes flowing back and forth all day.
After breakfast in the hotel we took a taxi to the Carnival terminal to check in for the CARNIVAL BREEZE 2 nights Inaugural cruise from Miami to Nassau in the Bahamas.
Check in was rather long-winded, but as we had each completed all documentation on line that helped a lot. Once on board we could take our time walking around to take photographs, as there were few other passengers around. I located my cabin 1351, an inside single way down on Riviera Deck, which was very spacious, so I could put things in the safe even though my luggage had not arrived.
CARNIVAL BREEZE is the third of the Dream Class Ships and was built by Fincantieri's Monfalcone shipyard in Italy, and in May 2012 Carnival accepted delivery. In June the ship was then based in Barcelona, Spain, for her inaugural season of Mediterranean cruises. She can take 3,690 passengers, and is 130,000 gross tons.
We enjoyed seeing a lot of the ship soon after boarding, but my thoughtful travelling companion decided it was time to have an Italian-style lunch in the Cucina del Capitano Italian speciality restaurant. We were each handed a list of food available and enjoyed choosing what to eat by ticking off each item on that list, and handing it to the waiter to be cooked. We could then go and look at the photographs decorating the room, and I was shown the one that would be of special interest to me: it was the ship FESTIVALE, bought by Mr Arison in 1977 from Union-Castle Line for Carnival Cruise Line. She was built in 1961 as the TRANSVAAL CASTLE for the regular Mailship voyage from Southampton in the UK to Durban in South Africa, calling at various ports along the way, and she was the first Union-Castle Line ship I worked on as a sea-going Purserette in December 1965. That was a long moment of nostalgia for me, looking at that photograph and others. I loved the beautiful lighting in that restaurant, and the whole decor.
We sailed at 5 p.m. after boat drill, to which we didn't have to take our life jackets. This all saved time and trips to and from cabins. I was sitting patiently in my Muster Station when there was an announcement apologising for the delay in starting. The voice continued by saying that this was due to some people not yet being present at their Muster Stations, but having been seen on the CCTV sitting in one of the Restaurants and eating a meal. These people were politely requested to leave this location, as food was available on board for 24 hours per day, and their mandatory presence was requested at the Muster Stations so the Lifeboat Drill could start!
I have looked at Dad's photos again and can see where he must have docked on the ARANDORA STAR at one of the then finger piers, in 1932. When we came down Government Cut from the quayside it was obvious how his photos were taken. I think we can identify Al Capone's island now as Palm Island, so I can show his and my photos, taken eighty years apart.
Back then it seems there was a railway track running down MacArthur Causeway, all the way from what is now Biscayne Boulevard and crossing NE 1st Avenue, probably at the northern end of what is now Bicentennial Park. The Park is more reclaimed land, because it is thought that the original 1930s finger piers were located there, and the remaining current 'cut' on the south side of that is almost certainly where the ARANDORA STAR berthed during her annual visits to Miami. I have the photos and the railway pictures which I think illustrate this.
Local ferry Eagle, which crosses Government Cut. It often has to wait or pirouette in the water as the cruise ships leave port!
We soon settled into ship life with a family comedy show, and then dinner in the Blush Restaurant for second sitting on the upper level. The food was excellent, with a good choice, and appropriate Thanksgiving Day menu. During the meal the Maitre d' announced that he would sing, which he did beautifully, and this was followed by some of the waiters on the lower level leaping on to small tables and dancing to pop music, and this was rather spectacular to watch.
After dinner entertainment was a Latin Nights Show in the Ovation Theatre, which was very enjoyable to see, but there was no live music. This was such a shame, and we couldn't understand why. The Atrium had its own six-piece band which played immediately after the Show and this drew hundreds of people on all deck levels to watch, listen and dance. We passengers like real live music played by real live musicians!
Tomorrow we visit the port of Nassau in The Bahamas, so that will be interesting. I have the 1932 Blue Star Lines brochure advertising the ARANDORA STAR itinerary for her first cruise that year but of course nowadays such brochures are a rarity from the shipping lines so I have nothing similar to show for my Carnival cruise. How strange that I am following in Father's footsteps...
Ships seen: Carnival Breeze, Grandeur of the Seas, Carnival Destiny, ferry boat Eagle
To be continued...