*Times have definitely changed since the beginning of 2020. We haven’t posted in a while fearing it would seem insensitive. However, life must go on and we should live our best lives in an effort to honor those that no longer have that chance. So we hope to give you some insight into the Hotels, Ships and Destinations we have visited, so that you can plan your best next vacation.
The Carnival Breeze hosted our most recent cruise, and due to a change of ships and itineraries, will be our next vessel as well. She is one of the most popular ships in the fleet and we believe it is for very good reason! For our February 2020 trip we were joined by some of our closest friends while we visited Amber Cove, Grand Turk and San Juan and enjoyed three days at sea.
The Breeze is a Dream Class ship weighing in at 130,000 gross tons. Really, all that means to me, is that it is BIG. Also, she is the sister ship to the Magic and the Dream. We had already sailed the Dream on two occasions, so this was a layout we were already somewhat familiar with. There are several upgrades that make the Breeze a little better in my opinion, but I am sure when the Dream is dry docked she will be refit to match.
For embarkation we, of course, took advantage of Faster to the Fun. We were on board in one fluid motion thanks to the wonderful staff at Port Canaveral. I was on my second Pina Colada with a full plate of food when our friends Shawn and Amy found us on the Lanai. Guys Pig and Anchor can be found here on the fifth deck and is a great way to start the trip. Not surprisingly, I was first in line.
When Carnival teamed up with Guy Fieri for BBQ at sea, they nailed it! We are not talking about competition bar-b-que, but it is as good as most places you find on dry land. The Pig and Anchor is only open on embarkation day and sea days, so you will want to get there early to avoid the lines. Also, keep in mind that there are actually two lines. Start from either end and have your plate filled with smoked brisket, chicken and sausages. All the other sides are there along with a bbq sauce bar full of flavor filled bottles to meet every taste.
Faster to the Fun meant our room would be ready at 1pm, and true to their word it was! We dropped off our bags, and checked out our cabin and balcony view. We were able to see a lot of different ships in Port Canaveral, including a couple from Disney. Our friends came along to drop off their stuff until their cabin was ready, avoiding the inconvenience of dragging their carry-ons around for three hours. Definitely another big perk to FTTF.
I want to take a second to give a big thanks to Amy and Shawn for traveling on this adventure with us. They flew in and took the GoPort Canaveral shuttle arriving safe and sound, just in time to get on board. I think it is a wonderful testament to friendship to trust us and come on our adventures. We look forward to many more shenanigans at sea together!!
Off to see the ship…
The Red Frog Rum Bar is another must on embarkation day. They offer a Happy Hour that cannot be beat. 1/2 price pitchers of a selection of their Rum Specialties and Margaritas are available for a few hours, and they do not hold back! You can also get a case of beer to-go at half-price. If you plan on drinking beer for the duration of the cruise, this would be a HUGE deal.
With plenty of stools at the expansive bar, and both booths and tables to accommodate the crowd, even at its busiest the pub easily kept the service standard to a premium. The staff, though busy, were still fun and acted like they had not a care in the world. Our server was from the British Virgin Islands and her accent fit perfectly among the palm fronds and ocean décor. I know all too well how hard it can be to maintain a smile while answering the same questions about drink specials for three hours straight, but, you would never know this staff had been at sea for months at a time. You would have thought this was the first day for them too, and I think that is a wonderful impression to leave.
Outside the pub the Island theme continues out into Ocean Plaza. You will find an assortment of grasses and trees inside the ship giving the breeze a very tropical feel. Though it isn’t advertised in the Fun Times (the daily listing of ship’s activities), I found a buffet set up at Ocean Plaza several times in the early afternoon. Finger foods like chicken nuggets and a small salad area were available for a bite on the run.
Speaking of food…
There is literally always someplace to eat on the Breeze and it is always good. Food critics may not appreciate the presentation, but in my opinion, the flavors and preparation are always on point. Pizza is available 24 hours a day and you can even have it delivered to you, anywhere on the ship, with the Hub App. You can also use the Hub App to schedule Anytime Dining, find out what’s going on for the day and even access a map when you get yourself lost.
However, for you foodies, the Chef’s Table, The Steakhouse, and Bonsai Sushi will give you the fix you crave. Arguably the best steaks at sea are served from Carnival’s Steakhouses. Bonsai Sushi offers fantastic boats of fresh made hand rolls and Nigiri, and all the other usual offerings like Miso Soup and Edamame. While the Chef’s table is a culinary experience that extends over the course of several hours including a tour of the galley, and wine pairings for every dish.
One of the best kept secrets is the Steakhouse Bar. Never crowded and serving the best Bourbons and Wines aboard the ship, stop here before your reservations to set the right tone. Or, stop by anytime to get a top shelf cocktail, without a long wait, in a slightly classier spot than the Alchemy Bar by Ocean Plaza.
We love the Alchemy Bar, but the location on the Dream Class ships isn’t exactly private. It can be hit and miss when it comes to the experience here, but the Breeze staff did a great job of keeping up the standard. The drinks on the menu are fantastic, but go off script and have the bartender make you something special based on your tastes. They are true mixologists and can design something for your particulars wants, or needs. I say needs, because the Remedy can fix you up if you have had a hard day at play.
Have Dinner or Hang Out?
Our dinner assignment was Early Dining in the Blush Dining Room, but this will probably be the last trip that we have an assigned dining time. The convenience and ease of Anytime Dining makes it more convenient to visit the other venues without feeling like you are leaving your tablemates, or staff, waiting if you are not coming to dinner. If you want to have the same server nightly, that can be arranged on Anytime Dining as well.
The Blush Dining Room is the aft dining room of the Breeze and it has a great view of the ship’s wake. Dawn and I had a private table at the extreme rear of the dining room so our view was amazing when looking out the windows. However, the lighting was terrible and it was a bit stuffy back there, so be careful what you wish for. I think our best MDR experience was a large table directly in the middle of the dining room which was shared with strangers. Since that first trip we have always been shoved to one side or the other.
We did things a bit differently this trip and only ate in the dining room twice. We enjoyed the Deli on the second Elegant Night. We checked out the Steakhouse with our friends later in the trip, and even had dinner in our cabin one evening when we didn’t feel like getting out.
Hanging out …
Evenings are great for roaming the ship while you are at sea. Music awaits at just about every venue and the Casino is always in full swing. Being the only indoor smoking venue, the right side of the bar here is always busy. The left side is for non smokers and usually has a stool or two open. You can catch the ballgames and scores on the TVs, or try your hand at one of dozens of slot machines while you enjoy your smokes or vape if that is your thing. If you don’t smoke, and have an aversion to it, you should avoid this area altogether, as it gets pretty smoggy sometimes.
One of our favorite nightly activities is checking out the Pixels Gallery and all of the professionally made pictures we had taken the day before. Prior to heading to dinner we stop at just about every backdrop on the Promenade, and love taking home the memories we make. Our walls are adorned with many of our purchases from the Pixels crew and serve as a constant reminder of the fun we have had so far.
Usually after dinner, we enjoy a leisurely stroll through the duty free shops. You never know what you are going to find here, from Carnival logo gear, to deeply discounted liquors and watches, purses and perfumes, or even decorations for your Christmas tree, there is no shortage of deals. From the Cherry on Top candy shop you can have gifts and various decoration packages sent to your room, and we had already been pleasantly surprised by gifts from our friends. This time around however, Dawn found the biggest surprise we have ever had at sea. So far, we had feasted on a Fancy Cheese Platter and Chocolate Covered Strawberries. Later on, we would have a bottle of Champagne and a Ship Trophy delivered from John Heald, Carnival Cruise Lines’ Brand Ambassador (again, if you don’t follow him, do!).
SO, the BIG surprise – While on our first night aboard Dawn and I were looking for a Breeze ballcap for my collection. We had just entered the Fun Shops and started browsing when Dawn came back lit up like a kid that had found a new toy. What she had found were some of my best friends that had decided to book a trip with us, and they had managed to keep it a surprise for nearly a year! I will never forget the shock and joy I felt seeing them, and I have truly never been more surprised in my life! So a HUGE shout out to Christine and Mike for such a great gift! It is wonderful to travel with friends.
FUN at Sea…
Sea Days on Carnival Cruises are chock full of activities for young and old, lazy and crazy, and all of those mixed up likes in between. From the sometimes raunchy Hairy Chest contest on the Lido Deck during the afternoon, to the hilarious editions of The Love and Marriage show put on by the cruise director in the Ovation Theater at night, it is hard not to laugh until you hurt.
Start the day with a specialty coffee from Java Blue. Get there early if you want to avoid the lines, but the staff does a great job of keeping it moving. A little tip for you though – head down to the Atrium and have the bartender there make your morning Cappuccino or Latte. Spiked coffees and milkshakes are available too, and the first few days of the trip, nobody realizes it can be had here in the Atrium.
Another great idea for days at sea, the Cloud 9 Spa is a great place to kick back and unwind. I have always treated Dawn to a mani-pedi on the first day at sea, and this trip was no different. Once, she was settled in, I met up with Mike and Christine and had a few beverages at the Tequila Bar by the main pool. Though it seems obvious, don’t miss spending some time at the Lido Deck bars. The Blue Iguana Tequila Bar or the Red Frog Rum Bar both serve specialties based on the mascot’s favorite libation. You can also get yards of beer, or souvenir cups full of your frosty choosing while you hang out poolside. Just be careful…the sun and fun can catch up to you! I am living proof, and did I mention you can have dinner in your room?
If you enjoy Trivia, check the daily schedule in the Fun Times and pick your poison, or go play BINGO for a chance at cash and other prizes. If Karaoke is your thing, then the Red Frog Pub will have you covered nightly. You can try the Ropes Course or Mini Golf up on sports square. Jump in a pickup basketball game, or play foosball with your friends while you enjoy the ocean views and breeze. Or, if you seek peace and quiet, head to the adults-only Serenity Deck and stretch out with a good book. If you forgot to bring one of your own, head down to the Library Bar and borrow one.
Pools and hot tubs are everywhere you turn on the open decks, and there are plenty of lounge chairs to work on that tan to make your coworkers back home jealous. Steel drum music sets the perfect vibe as you make your way into the sun drenched days ahead. So if you are strolling along and need to take a poolside break, head to the towel station, lay yourself down and enjoy the Lido Life.
Another hit at sea are the Dive Inn Movies. Grab your blanket and some popcorn and relax on the open deck, or in the pool, while Hollywood Blockbusters roll on the big screen. Hint – popcorn is located behind the Red Frog Rum Bar. Also, 24 hour soft serve ice cream is only steps away.
Fun for the kiddos
While a family vacation is meant for actually spending time with your family, don’t feel bad if hanging out with strangers while your kids are off having their own fun sounds good too. Carnival makes it easy with dedicated kids clubs and activities. Camp Carnival hosts the younger children providing safe and secure fun, while you hang out and get your bronze on. Club O2 is a great hang out for the teens, set up for gaming or just hanging out listening to the music, from what I can tell, they never want to leave.
Carnival Waterworks has plenty of fun for all ages as well. Multiple water slides wind their way down hundreds of feet dumping you out into the middle of the onboard water park. The PowerDrencher will wash away any leftover stress you may have brought to sea with you, dumping about 300 gallons of water from the biggest bucket you may ever see. There are also smaller slides for the littles, and plenty of spots to climb, splash and enjoy the day.
Back inside, take the kids to the arcade. The Warehouse arcade offers all of the most popular video games along with air hockey (who doesn’t love air hockey), pop-a-shot, and skee ball. Beware however, there are several games of chance for big prizes. While the chance of winning is technically not impossible, the odds are very much stacked against you. I have heard tales of kids racking up large charges to their sail and sign account without the parent’s realizing, so make sure you set limits on spending so there is no sticker shock on the last day.
Making more friends…
As we have on a couple of previous trips, we hosted another Meet and Greet for the Facebook Group we started. Carnival kindly set aside space in the Liquid Lounge Nightclub for us to hangout, and have a chance to get to know one another. The Entertainment Director delivered some prizes from John Heald to be given away, and we had a pretty good turnout. About thirty folks took time out of their trip to come hang out and put faces with names. To see who would take home the prizes, we held a Carnival Trivia contest and everyone seemed to have a great time.
There are a lot of different venues and activities scheduled for private parties including weddings and family reunions. Group cruises sometimes have activities scheduled all week long, but you would never know it since there are so many other things happening at once. If you can’t find fun, then find the Cruise Director and ask for help! I bet you get it going then!
We always found plenty of fun, whether dancing on the lido deck with new friends like Kristen and Dave, or having dinner in the Steakhouse with our old besties, the Carnival Breeze was brimming with good times to be had. Now that we have our new schedule, we cannot wait to sail her again in November. The year 2020 has been weird so far, but it gets a little better every single day. We hope you find a way to get out and enjoy it to the fullest!