cruise-inauguralWhile most families make plans to gather the family together for Norman Rockwell inspired Thanksgiving visits, my husband and I were faced with the question of, “What will we do for six days in Miami, when our home is in Bellingham, Washington?” We are in the fifth month of a unique job driving Mercedes Sprinter vans for Avon. This means we’ve been living in hotels and moving from city to city every week.

 

We Decided on a Cruise 

Since we were near a port, it made sense to take a cruise.Fortunately, the inaugural cruise of the new 130,000 ton Carnival Breeze was scheduled to leave for the Bahamas on Thanksgiving Day. Coincidentally, it was our daughter Sondra’s 23rd birthday. (We told her we had the ship built just for her birthday present.)

scooterOur little family joined 3,690 other passengers, along with 1,380 crew members, to celebrate. It may seem obvious, but a new ship has a special feel. Could it be a feeling of “newness”? Everything from the crispness of the sheets to the artwork to the intricate overhead lighting evoked a feeling of, “Wow! Everything is new and clean.” Not very profound, but it was a comment I overheard time and time again from passengers.

Family Friendly

As with all Carnival cruises, the Carnival Breeze is ideal for families. The WaterWorks aqua park kept kids of all ages occupied for hours. It must be a magical experience for kids to be on the top of a gigantic ship and then go down a 320 foot long Twister water slide. Judging by the screams of delight from the kids it was also just plain fun. The ship’s supervised area for younger children was spacious and filled with a wide assortment of toys and activity centers. For older kids, Circle C and Club O2 had age appropriate “mixers” and activities.

Billboards all over Miami advertised the Guy Fieri Burger Joint with Guy’s signature hamburgers…which we obviously had to try. The burgers were great and offered an extensive assortment of additional toppings to add even more calories to your daily cruise diet. Our Thanksgiving meal included turkey and all the trimmings, along with the benefit of not having to prepare or clean up after the meal.

After eating way too much at every meal, we tried to justify the extra calories by walking around the designated exercise deck. Let’s face it, can a leisurely stroll around a cruise ship really compensate for having two desserts at lunch and dinner?

All Ages Cruise Fun

The ship has everything needed to keep all ages happily occupied. Activities include: outdoor basketball, miniature golf, Dive-In movies, karaoke parties, adults only comedy club, Hasbro Game Show, video arcades and of course the casino!

If you are looking for a cruise ship that has professional staff along with outstanding facilities and activities, the Carnival Breeze is for you. Did I mention it is a very new ship?

Post Cruise

After our short sail to Nassau, we returned to Miami and headed to the Florida Keys for a few days. The highlight of the trip was snorkeling at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. The Keys can be quite commercial-ized; billboards and brochures overwhelm you with offers to visit displays of rare shells, dolphin shows and undersea wrecks. Our snorkeling trip at the state park evoked the feeling of a laid back, all-natural experience. Many people camp or visit the park to picnic and fish. After we paid admission to enter the park, friendly staff got us set up with wet suits and snorkeling gear. A 30 minute boat ride took us to the coral reefs, and we were ready to dive. Well, I was ready to dive, until the captain told us we would see 3 ½ foot long barracudas. With a shove from my daughter, I plunged into the water, knowing a barracuda was ready to attack me any minute. Being so far from shore made us feel this was a real snorkeling experience, not something contrived in a man-made enclosure. The water was clear and we saw many colorful fish swimming between the coral. And yes, I did see a barracuda with a fierce expression and many sharp teeth!