Monday, December 14, 2015

Triumphant Thanksgiving... Debarkation

Back in The Lone Star State
Monday, November 30, 2015

It was complete darkness and silent in our inside cabin and for the first time in a week I heard my phone ringing for my morning alarm. It was 7:00AM and we were still creeping into Galveston Bay. I got up and showered and got the kids ready before I did our final packing. At this point it was "just dump it all into the suitcase" type of thing and I would sort it out once we got home. Chris had to be at work on this day as it was the first day back from Thanksgiving break and he was required to be there. The poor guy had to get up and ready in a suit and tie to get off the ship.

We finished throwing all of our stuff into our crazy amount of suitcases (we are notorious for over packing but since this was the first time we had sailed in the fall AND we had the kids, we felt it was warranted) and headed off to the Lido buffet for our last breakfast on board The Carnival Triumph. We knew the lines would be long at 7:30AM since EVERYONE was trying to get off the ship and get food before doing so. The lines were VERY long at the buffet but manageable at the Express Breakfast in the aft and Blue Iguana was not any longer than usual at a 5-6 person wait time. We got the kids their last breakfast from the Express and Chris and I shared one last DELICIOUS Blue Iguana breakfast burrito. It was fantastic...In fact, I think I can still taste it!

We went back to the room and snapped a few pictures of the emptiness (unfortunately it was not as clean as I would have liked... sorry) and then went to Gigi and Poppy's room to say goodbye. It was at this time that the kids and Gigi decided it would be cool to throw Lucky Charms at the seagulls. I had seen this before but my kids thought it was hilarious. Totally illegal, I'm sure, but funny nonetheless!

Throwing Lucky Charms to the seagulls. 

She LOVED it! 

And if we didn't get kicked off before... we surely will now!
Good thing the cruise is over! 

My parents did not have to rush like we did so they were debarking by their zone number which happened to be Zone 2. 

Carnival (and most cruise lines) offer several categories of debarking: 

 The "Self-Assist" mean you carry off ALL of your own luggage. You do not have to have your bags outside of your room the night before because YOU carry it off. It allows you to have peace of mind that your luggage will not become lost and it also is a little easier in our opinion. 

The "Zoned" debarkation is what 90% of the guests do. This is where you place your luggage outside of your cabin the night before at 11:00PM or sooner and the crew takes it to a holding area of the ship until we reach the port. Then the crew will unload ALL of the luggage (think 3,600+ guests for most ships) and you will collect it AFTER you get off the ship. This method means 1) packing the night before (and putting the end into reality) 2) finding your luggage in a mass deposit at the terminal 3) waiting to get off the ship longer and in some cases HOURS later. And keep in mind that you are still required to get out of your room at a certain time, usually within an hour of arriving in port, and could have to wait in a common area of the ship. Despite Chris having to go to work, we typically still do the "self-assist" because we like the ease of getting off and it seems to be less of a hassle in our experience. 

This cruise we had FTTF and we were on a time crunch to get Chris to work in North Houston by 11:00AM so we HAD to do "Self-Assist" so we met in the London Dining Room with the other 150-200 guest who had FTTF. The Diamond and Platinum guest met there too and those guest totaled about 40. This is when both Chris and I noticed it may not be worth the $59.95/ cabin for FTTF if it is just a 4-5 day cruise. We had to wait about 35 minutes before we were allowed to debark the ship. Some of the wait time was due to customs but other was due to lack of organization. I do know that because of the Paris terrorist attacks the week prior to this cruise the US boarder patrol was cracking down on checking for US citizens which caused somewhat of a delay.

We were debarking the ship and listening to that dreadful last DING by 8:50AM. This is always the worst part about a cruise and usually it is fine because we want to see out kids but today we had them with us so it was even more depressing (plus Chris was headed STRAIGHT to work). We had to wait in the US Customs line longer than usual because not everyone in our party had a US Passport. The lines for birth certificates was significantly longer and it took an additional 20-30 minutes and we were some of the 1st people off the ship. Using a birth certificate for your kids instead of a passport was easy to do and saved us quite a bit of money but this was a drawback for sure. 

We cleared the US Customs line by 9:20AM and were in the car by 9:35AM. We parked at EZ Cruise Parking off of Sante Fe drive in Galveston. It was about a 4.5 block walk from Terminal 1 but only $35 for 4 days. If you are cruising a shorter cruise via Galveston I would recommend using this parking lot and paying online ahead of time to get the discount. 

We got onto Harborside drive and said goodbye to The Triumph as our kids began to cry already asking to go back to the ship. We were able to make it to Chris's school by 11:00AM with time to spare. We all reminisced about the cruise and how much fun we had and we told the kids we were going again in December 2016. Little Miss Natalie immediately started singing a song about going on another cruise.

We had a GLORIOUS 4 days of fun and family time and making memories with our kids. We are so blessed to have this opportunity and are so grateful for these blessings! I hope these posts have helped answer some questions that you may have about cruising, or cruising with kids or The Carnival Triumph. Thank you all so much for following along!

We have 3 cruises currently booked and 2 more on the calendar. We love cruising and are literally ADDICTED! And now I think our 2 little ones are too!

Caribbean Princess- 10 Year Anniversary Cruise- March 2016
Carnival Legend- Alaska - June 2016 
Carnival Liberty- Christmas with the Kids- December 2016
Royal Caribbean Liberty of the Seas- March 2017
Carnival Breeze- Summer 2017

 Thank you so much for following along and until we meet again... 

Keep Calm and CRUISE ON!  

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