knows there are a number of cruise line choices to be had when cruising
out of Florida's ports. For this years "Get Away From The Cold"
(GAFTC) cruise we chose Miami and Carnival. Three reasons:
1) Carnival recently opened a new port in the Dominican Republic called
"Amber Cove" and 2) We had never sailed on "Breeze", one of Carnival's
newer ships, and 3) We used credit card points to get 2 free air
tickets to Miami. The ship and Amber Cove were new to us but
we've been to the other ports several times before. It should be
noted that this was our 21st cruise in 6-1/2 years and we've cruised
Carnival 5-6 times before.
Please Note: Click on any image for more specific information about it. Clicking on the little map will bring up a satellite image showing where we were when the image was taken. Camera setting information can also be found.
South Beach, Miami, Florida:
We spent one night in South Beach after last years GAFTC cruise and decided a little more time there would be nice. So this year we flew in two days ealy and spent a couple nights at "The Hall" which gave us a full day to explore. We had travelzoo.com vouchers for "The Hall", a recently renovated boutique hotel done up in the art deco style prevelant in South Beach. "The Hall" was located in the 1500 block of Collens Ave, a block away from the hustle and bustle of Ocean Ave. Our room was clean and small as is typical of these historic hotels. We spent our day walking all the way to Pier Park TWICE which got us better than 20,000 steps on our Fitbits. We had arranged to go by Super Shuttle from the airport which saved us a couple dollars but took way to long because of additional pickups and dropoffs. Next time we'll just take a cab. We used UBER, a first for us, to get from the hotel to the cruise pier.
The Ship, Carnival Breeze:
As mentioned above, we chose to sail aboard Breeze this time around. Breeze carries about 3,700 passengers (~1,400 crew) and was built in 2012, relatively new for us. This was our first cruise aboard Breeze and, very quickly, grew to like the ship. We loved that everywhere we went, there was adaquate seating. The deck 5 prominade deck was the best we've ever seen, it was wide and lined with loungers. We especially like the lanai on each side of the ship. While walking the halls, I took pictures of the door art.
A couple days before flying to Miami, we got a call from "The Upgrade Fairy". We had booked an INSIDE and for a modest amount of money, we were upgraded to a SPA BALCONY cabin. Cabin 12031 which included access to the spa which we really enjoyed on a daily basis....
was our 4th trip to St. Maarten and we've yet to see the airplanes land
at Maho Beach. Rather than get involved in the chaos on the
beach, we signed on for an excursion (via Carnival) aboard Airport Adventure SXM.
Basically this is a converted troop carrier that anchors in 20'-25' of
water within view of the beach so we could watch the landings and
takeoffs. Everyone had the option of staying aboard or going for
a swim. The boat was complete with a ramp at the bow and even had
a platform on the side with some tables and chairs. Inflaitable
vests, noodles, etc were provided. We even had lunch aboard which
was VERY reasonably priced. We especially enjoyed going for a
refreshing swim and coming back aboard without having to deal with
This was our 2nd time in Antigua. This time around we booked the Carnival excursion out to Stingray City. At the appointed time, we were loaded onto buses and taken to Stingray City where we boarded boats after receiving some educational information about the stingrays. The boats took us quite a ways out to a sandbar where we stood in waist deep water among the stingrays. We fed them, pet them, and held them. An awesome experience! Of course photo opportunities were not to be missed. We were on the sandbar for about an hour before heading back.
St. Thomas, USVI:For this port, we decided to simply stay on the ship and chill out for the day. The ship is generally a lot quieter while everyone is ashore. My goal was to try out the two water slides and have a "Guy's Burger" for lunch. The water slides were heart pounding experiences but I did it. The "Guy's Burger" was the best I've ever had on a ship and, yes, I had one even though Kathy reminded me about how bad it was for my diet. Been on 21 cruises so far and haven't dieted on one yet.
Amber Cove, Dominican Republic:Amber Cove is the Carnival brand private cruise port that just opened 4-5 months ago. We spent a little time wandering around the port itself and some of the usual stores were there. Some store fronts were empty yet so there's more to come. There was a pool there but I'm not sure if there was a public beach. Anyway, we elected to book a Carnival excursion out to Coconut Cove Beach. Getting there was interesting and involved a 35 minute ride in an open air truck on a bumpy and dusty road. The beach was very nice and we booked the package that included lunch. All told we had 3 hours at the beach which is more than enough for us.
To see images in stream fashion: Flickr Album
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