Here is a little refresher course for some background information. My husband and I have logged over 100 days at sea between Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, Princess, Disney, and some Carnival cruises. I feel that we have a wide enough array of experiences to be considered knowledgeable in cruising! Most of our cruises together have taken place on Royal Caribbean ships. This is due to the fact that we are comfortable with what to expect from them. We also enjoy the features on their ships, like FlowRiders, Royal Promenades, Ice Skating, etc.
I would estimate the 90% of our cruise time has occurred in the last 5 years since we met. I know that sounds like a lot, and it is. However we like cruising because of the relaxing nature, having someone make our bed, serve our food, etc. Many times we have secured fantastic deals that have made it worth our while to go out of town. We figured, with some of our cruises, we'd end up spending more money at home on the weekend!
Getting on the Road
We will admit, we overpack! I am always afraid I will be short on something. I am also picky about what I wear and change my mind far too often! So MY house had 3 full-sized suitcases. 1 carry-on suitcase with my son's food and formula. A pack n play. Diaper bag. Backpack. Stroller. plus all the stuff my mom and her boyfriend brought along. Thankfully my husband and I aren't big people, so we sat in my mom's backseat with our legs up because we had things stuffed in the leg areas back there.
The drive to Port of Miami was just under an hour from my house. So we got there, unloaded the ridiculous amount of stuff for the porter, and tried to do so quickly as to not hold up other people arriving. My mom went to park in the garage down where the Majesty of the Seas and Disney ships are berthed. So that took another 20 minutes. She didn't want her car parked out in the sun. I was very happy to see that Carnival provides drinks at the entrance of the terminal. Not all cruise lines do this. They had lemonade and water available.
When we were doing the security check-in we were informed that we had VIP access and should report to the Captain's Lounge to retrieve our Sail & Sign cards. A student of mine has a father who works at the Corporate office of Carnival, I had spoken to him about my cruise the previous week. He told me to give him my booking number and he'd take care of my vacation!
There were a lot of people waiting to board. I am guessing that boarding was delayed a bit that day. After receiving our cards we proceeded to the escalator/elevator area. We went right up the elevator and were on the ship within minutes of entering the terminal. my guess was a total of 10 minutes from the moment we went through security.
The terminal was nicely decorated for Christmas although its hard to tell from the photo. I took a quick snap shot as we were walking toward the ramps. It appears rather empty because many people were sitting off to the right and they started calling a lot of numbers once we were upstairs.