Trip Report – Carnival Cruise & Disney Part 1

We hit the sunny beaches where we occupy ourselves keeping the sun off our skin, the saltwater off our bodies, and the sand out of our belongings.  ~Erma Bombeck

That was indeed what our cruise was like.  My sister and I woke up with blistered, swollen lips, bright red faces & a killer of a hangover.  In fact, we spent the next day trying to piece together what happened the night before much like the plot of The Hangover — more on that later.

My sister Kerry decided she needed to get away.  Her 3 kids were going to visit their father in Maryland for an entire week.  They had never been away from her that long and she needed a distraction.  So the planning began about 3 months ago.  Vegas, cruise, all-inclusive Caribbean trip?  She lives in Florida so we decided a cruise would be the cheapest option since she wouldn’t have to pay for a flight.  Then we realized that most ships are in Europe during peak hurricane season in the Caribbean.  We didn’t want to do a cruise to the Bahamas since we had done that 3 times.  So, we went with Carnival.  I’ve been on Disney & Royal Caribbean cruises so this was a new adventure for us.  The reputation on Carnival was that it was a cheap cruise and frankly you get what you pay for.  They are known as the Fun Ship and with 2 sisters looking to have fun it sounded like the perfect fit.  All of us have Disney annual passes so I went down to Florida early to hang out with my niece & nephews and to go to Disney.

The itinerary:

  • Thursday July 28th:  Disney World Hollywood Studios
  • Friday July 29th:  Ormond Beach, FL
  • Sat July 30-Thurs Aug 4th:  Carnival Inspiration Cruise out of Tampa, FL  Stops in Grand Cayman & Cozumel  Stateroom E-152
  • Thurs Aug 4th:  Disney World Epcot (on very little sleep) & then fly home

Disney World Hollywood Studios:

My entire family are HUGE Disney fans and while my husband and I lived in Miami I got him hooked as well.  We would go 4-6 times a yr when we lived so close.  Since we moved, we make at least one trip a year together.  Then I try to sneak down without him with my sister as much as possible.  Kerry picked me up at the airport and we headed directly over to Hollywood Studios.  I had not ridden Toy Story Mania yet.  When I was there last year in August it was shut down for refurbishment.  This ride is awesome.  It’s like a shooting gallery but add on top of that it is in 3D and a ride.  Tyler, the oldest, got the highest score.  I believe it was 119,000.  I got 91,000, respectable for a rookie.

Here we are waiting in our 90 minute line and finally got the glasses.  We were so goofy and had so much fun the time flew by.  We tried to get fastpasses when we arrived but by 11 am they were all out at most of the main rides in the Studios.  [To learn more about fastpass go here]  As a side note, it’s not a good idea to EVER go to Disney in early August.  It’s oppressively hot & extremely crowded.  But it was just one day and we were just hitting the main attractions.

We got in a Little Mermaid show then had to rush over to 50’s Primetime Cafe for lunch.

We made quick work of those Onion Rings.  I dare you to find even a crumb.  This was my first day off my diet!  I was excited.  This is such a great restaurant.  It’s heavily themed and you are greeted usually by a “cousin” because you are in Mom’s kitchen set in the 50’s and frequently reprimanded for having elbows on the table & asked to clear your own plates.  Check out their menu here.  You can see the restaurant better in this picture with the TV’s showing old black & white shows and movies.  Mom’s wallpaper and lovely decoration like plates on the wall.

Here is my niece Tayte & I being goofy.  After, the onion rings they ordered the classics–Dad’s Traditional Meatloaf, Mom’s old fashioned Pot Roast & Aunt Liz’s Golden Fried Chicken.  All cleared their plates except for the collard greens left on Tayte’s plate.  I, of course, had the vegetarian meal which was very good.  Uncle Dana’s Artichoke and Ricotta Agnolotti.  Pasta tossed with veggies in a spicy tomato broth.  So, we stuffed ourselves silly then for dessert…S’mores.

I love Kerry’s face in this pic.  It’s like she is excited but not sure at the same time.  It tasted just like it came off the campfire.  I’ve never had S’mores from a restaurant but like everything Disney does it did not disappoint!

We rode Rock N Rollercoaster next.  How can you not love flying 60 mph on a coaster to Aerosmith songs?  Love it!  Then we headed over to the newly redone 3D Star Tours ride.  It was my first time on the new version.  It was great but I think the best part was how excited the 2 little ones were to share it with me.  It was one of their favorites and they were so excited to introduce it to their aunt.  Here they are podracing:

We finished up the day on The Great Movie Ride.  Then my sister, Kerry, came up with a sweet idea.  Our oldest sister’s son, Michael, was hit by a car and recovering in the hospital in DC.  He also shares our obsession with Disney.  So we videotaped characters holding signs saying Get Well Michael and sent them to him.  Then we got random people around the parks to help us as well.  It was so much fun and Michael loved it.  We found a very tall janitor.  Tyler (holding the signs) is 6 feet tall and this guy towers over him.  Then, a mannequin.

The videos were so great and the characters were adorable.  I loved the evil witch.  I’ll see if Kerry can send me a high def version of it.

Next, we headed to Kerry’s beachside home in Ormond Beach, which is just north of Daytona Beach.  I got my mani-pedi, went to the beach & then we headed out to dinner at Stonewood Grill, http://www.stonewoodgrill.com.  This is a beautiful restaurant with great food & wine with locations all over Florida.  We took it easy on the wine since we had to wake up early and get the kids to the airport.  But the dessert was a different story.

Hey, I was off my diet!  This is their Chocolate Bread Pudding.  Wow, was it good.  We packed up and got ready to wake up at 6:30 am to head to Orlando airport to take the kiddos for their 9:45 am flight.  Stay tuned for Part 2!

Martini Tasting

20110730-070236.jpgThis was our 2nd stop as we arrived on our Carnival Cruise ship.  $17 to taste 4 Martinis

We chose the Florida Squeeze, Mangotini, Spicy Chipotle & Pomegranate Breeze.  It was served by Dimitri from Macedonia, who you can see in the background in the first picture.

As we tasted each Martini we spontaneously in unison said, “Oh – My – God”.  They were so good.  I loved the Spicy Chipotle and will be making this at home.

It’s refreshing with the mint leaves and then it ends with a Chipotle kicker.  If you can’t read it in the picture here’s the recipe for the Spicy Chipotle Martini:

  • 2 oz vodka
  • 1 oz Monin Chipotle
  • 1 oz Pineapple Juice
  • 0.5 oz simple syrup
  • 6-8 mint leaves
  • Garnish with Mint Leaf

It says Pineapple Syrup but doesn’t say how much.  Not sure about that.