September 27, 2018

That Time I Took My Friends On a Cruise...

After our first cruise (20 months ago on the Vista), Husband and I had so much fun that we decided that we needed to take all our friends on the next one... and then we went on two more in the interim. Yes, I'm an addict. I already covered a ton of stuff the Horizon has to offer when I was on it in May which you can read more about there.
We ended up picking the Carnival Horizon's 4-day NYC to Bermuda sailing because a) we loved the Vista which was almost identical, 2) it was the lowest overall cost and fewest required days-off-work for a cruise we wouldn't have to fly to (we're all in PA)...

Bonus that we hadn't been to Bermuda yet. 

Anyway. 

Cruising with a group of friends was just SO much fun. Now don't get me wrong, my prior three cruises with just Husband were amazing and fun, but we also took breaks when we were tired and watched movies in our cabin because they were free and we hadn't seen them. 

I'm as addicted to socializing as I am to cruises, so anytime at least one of my friends wanted to do something, I was there. Also because Husband sleeps later than me and I figure he'll sleep better if I leave the cabin than if I toss and turn, reading my iPad, until he gets up. So much better than waiting till 10am and then bugging him to get up cause I'm bored.

I planned a loose events schedule for the group based on the Funtimes from a previous cruise with the same itinerary, just because it seemed a bit daunting to keep such a big group from all loosing each other. 

Per usual I played a lot of trivia, except this time, with a more diverse knowledge base, we won almost all the trivias we played.
Movie Music Trivia
And 4 of my friends won a dodge ball tournament.
One of them is a random guy
AND 12 of us played Quest and came in 2nd.
We came in 2nd, but it was the 3rd time the lady in yellow had placed.
We had a bunch of help from a solo cruiser who picked us to join (and a bit more from one who was sitting by herself among an empty set of chairs whom we joined), but nonetheless impressive for a bunch of first-timers (4 of us had played before).

I would feel bad about winning so many things but it did mean that a lot of us got a ship-on-a-sticks. Plus those two bottles of bubbly!
One Hit Wonders Trivia
I subtly convinced everyone to get the Social internet package (only $4 a day if you book in advance) so that we could easily keep in touch with each other using a Facebook event and Facebook messaging. So glad I did. It was so easy to post "who wants to do this thing?" and then someone would join! Or post "a few of us are doing this thing" and someone looking for something to do could join in.
Nerd Trivia
Yes. We could have each paid for messaging in the Hub app. But then we could only message one person at a time. Sounds like a nightmare. I guess that would be sufficient for couples or families traveling together, but we had 15 people in 6 cabins, and most were single. And not everyone has the same interests.
Hunger Games Trivia
And by not taking any breaks except to sleep, I was able to do everything I wanted to - and FINALLY visited the Havana Bar when the band was playing! Believe it or not, we did not manage to make it there on our 14-day cruise on the Horizon for my honeymoon, after we specifically wanted to because we didn't find time to go when we were on the Vista.
I *might* have gotten on stage and danced for like 3 songs...
I did want to get us all together at least a few times, so I told everyone to plan on attending dinner on formal night, one of the Sea Day brunches, and made a reservation for all of us (I'd actually done this months ago) at Teppanyaki.

Sea Day brunch is really good if you like steak and eggs, but there was so much other food we wanted to eat that with just 4 days, we skipped the second one.

We ended up eating in the Dining Room the first night, because me and Husband wanted to, and everyone else assumed that was an okay idea. It was okay but service was a little sloppy and slow. I somewhat blame it on our large group, 2nd blame it on being upstairs and off to the side, and third blame it on who-seemed-to-be a newish server. 

Formal night dinner the second night was perfect. I asked them to squeeze all 15 of us at this one large table I'd spotted right by the entrance. It's supposed to seat 12, but we're all friends and I promised we wouldn't complain. It was a bit tight, but it was better than being split between two tables as we were at dinner the first night and at Sea Day Brunch that morning.

Other than that... Service was fast and efficient. Food was delicious. My chocolate melting cake was not over cooked. And it was one of my friends birthday that night so he got a tiny cake and we all sang happy birthday.

I enjoyed everything else about the cruise except for not having a little more time in Bermuda with it being our only port. Actually even if it was just later in the day so we didn't have to wake up so early to get as much time as possible, that would have helped. We opted for dinner at Bonzai Sushi that night since it's both delicious and wouldn't take as long.
It does cost extra, but we love the shrimp tempura, so it's worth it.


Oh. Except the guy that did most of the trivias. He had just the thickest accent which made it hard to understand the questions even if we knew them. Oh. And. The girl doing karaoke. She was just terrible. She seemed to not know how to work the software, which seems important for a karaoke host. There was a couple whose song was finally called, they missed the cue to start and asked her to restart it, something happened when she tried, and then their song was gone and they didn't get to sing it. These two positions should not be an afterthought. 

Our cruise director was a substitute. It was this guy Ryan Rose (was previously hosting Headliners on the Horizon), instead of Mike Pack, but he was actually nearly as great. Just needs a bit more practice. Mike is back as the CD for the Horizon now, but just FYI if anyone sees Ryan as their CD on their Funtimes.

One other thing I made my friends do, which I think was worth it was to take a group photo with the ship photographer in our formal wear. Some of Carnival's ships (others being upgraded slowly but surely) offer digital photos for $15 each. So I bought one and one of my friends bought one.
We actually only paid $13 (or whatever the exact math is on it, I rounded) because photos are 10% off on day 1 & 2 .

It was great to be back on the Horizon so soon after the last one. And wealready have another Horizon cruise booked in fall of 2019! 

Don't worry though, we have another on booked for next month! We will be on the Carnival Inspiration - one of the teenie-tiny Fantasty Class ships. We have yet to go on a cruise in a smaller ship so it should be an interesting experience. The cruise is just 3-days and goes from Long Beach, CA to Ensenada, Mexico. I decided I had to go on it because I'm being sent to LA for a business trip and it's an opportunity to try out a different ship. Luckily, I now have experience cramming a whole vacation into just a few days!
The plush towel elephant was too cute to not buy.
More on Cruising :)
Funtimes for this sailing
Carnival's Restaurant & Bar Menus

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