Monday, December 7, 2015

Triumphant Thanksgiving... Galveston

A Golden Start
Thursday, November 26, 2015

In November 2015 Chris and I took our kids on a Western Caribbean Cruise aboard the Carnival Triumph sailing out of Galveston, TX. We also sailed with my parents, Gigi Shirley and Poppy, as well as my sister, Allison. It was a true family vacation and we were excited to take our kids on their 1st cruise. This beautiful floating resort took us to the following destination: 

Cozumel, Mexico 

Chris and I have been on 5 other cruises prior to this one; 3 with Carnival and 2 with Royal Caribbean. This cruise was all about the kids and showing them what it was like to cruise, Lord knows we have talked about it enough!  This will be a multiple entry blog about not only our 4 days at sea but a food blog highlighting the new American Table menus Carnival offers from each of our perspectives, an updated Shore Excursion rating blog, a pictorial review of The Carnival Triumph and a few more. Thank you SO MUCH to all my followers... without you the blog would not be as popular as it is today!

Our home away from home for the next 4 days! 

Morning- Our Trip to "Buc-ee's"
The day we had been so anxiously awaiting had finally arrived and we were ready to surprise the kids with a cruise. Everyone woke up early this day to be sure we had everything we needed and the cars were packed (we didn't want to forget any bags like we did on the Magic in June). We had been talking about cruising a lot with the kids but decided to detour them from the surprise by telling them we were going to "Buc-ee's" for Thanksgiving. This was true as we ALWAYS stop at the Texas City location on our way to a cruise or Galveston. The kids were so excited and were ready to go. They each grabbed a baby/ stuffed animal and we were out the door at 7:01AM which was almost the exact time I wanted. I know my family put a lot of effort into being on time throughout the entire cruise and I greatly appreciate it. 

Traffic was very light and we made the 62 mile trip to "Buc-ee's" in less than an hour. The kids were really excited and anxious to get a Dr. Pepper Icee and sample some fudge. We made our way inside the store and had a great time just looking through everything and tasting the goodies. I had never seen so FEW people in a Buc-ee's. We spent about 30 minutes in the store before loading back up to make the rest of the 21 miles to the Cruise Terminal. 

Natalie LOVES this place so much! 

Happy Thanksgiving from our BUC-EE's!

We are all loaded up in the car and ready to go...?

We had decided that Gigi would drive us to the terminal so both Chris and I would be able to see the kids reaction to the surprise. We made it all the way to Harborside drive in Galveston and the kids were still clueless. Luke kept asking if we were going to a baseball game/ stadium and Natalie was just taking it all in. Finally we saw the Whale-tail/ smoke stack and started having the kids look around for clues. They each looked out their windows and didn't have an answer until I told Natalie to look out the front window and she saw the cruise ship. She was hesitant to guess going on a cruise but Daddy asked if they wanted to go on a cruise today and they practically erupted in the car. We were able to get the whole thing on video. 

This reaction and video capture the memories of a lifetime. 

We pulled through to the drop-off area of the terminal and the boys dropped us off and all of our luggage and everyone changed into their "Davis- Klingsick Cruise" shirts. We gave our luggage to the porters and headed to the terminal entrance. We had family cruise shirts made that featured the #TriumphantThanksgiving as well as a turkey on a cruise ship on the front, plus each person had the number of cruises they had been on the back. Chris's shirt said "Cruise Runner" and the kids shirts read "Cruise Rookie 1" and "Cruise Rookie 2" respectively. Mine read "Cruise Diva" and the #6. We were very satisfied with the shirts and got LOTS of compliments throughout the cruise. 

My Cruise Shirt!

It was 9:20AM by this time and we had a 10:30AM check-in time. The terminal was still getting all the exiting passengers out so we had to wait outside from 9:30-10:00AM before they would let us inside the terminal to check-in. Because we had "Faster to the Fun" (FTTF) we were able to stand in a priority line while outside and check-in through the same priority line. There were about 100-150 people waiting outside between the main and priority check-in lines. However, it was very well organized and I think the staggered check-in times that Carnival is trying out at the Galveston port seem to be working very well. In fact, I am pondering if with this new check-in system if we even need to purchase the FTTF

They now know and are EXCITED!

Our 1st Sister Selfie of the Cruise! 

Waiting in line to get into the terminal!

They opened the terminal at exactly 10:00AM and we were literally the 1st 7 people in the building. We got to the 1st check point and unfortunately, we chose the wrong line as both of the machines were not working and each had new and OLDER assistants working on them. This slowed us down a bit but we were still the 16th-23rd people to check-in on The Carnival Triumph. Not our best record but we will take it. At the end of this cruise Chris and I would have sailed 25 nights with Carnival which would make us GOLD cruisers. We didn't expect to be GOLD until our next Carnival cruise in June but when we checked in we got our GOLD cards and each of us were ecstatic. It felt great to have that GOLD card and we could not wait to see the other perks waiting in our stateroom once we got on board. 

By 10:12AM we were all checked in and waiting in the Captain's Lounge with the FTTF perk. We sat around and took the kids to look at the ship and reviewed the days FUN TIMES. This is the daily newsletter provided by Carnival to let you know about all of the fun things they have offered on board. Check it daily to really be in the know for what is happening on board... or don't and just "chill". It's your call! (I will also be posting a blog featuring all of these FUN TIME from this cruise. Be sure to come back and check that out).

They called for all Diamond and Platinum guests and wedding parties to board the ship at 10:47AM and we heard the glorious 1st DING at 11:07AM. I had the song "Come Sail Away" by STYX playing on my phone as we walked up the gangway and it was a wonderful feeling to finally be taking my kids alongside me on this addicting habit. 

We got on board and went straight to our room to drop off all of our carry-on luggage. This is also a perk of the FTTF option and is the sole reason I would keep purchasing it for a Carnival cruise, especially a shorter cruise. This perk is now $59.95 per cabin but includes ALL guests in the cabin. For the most part I think it is money well spent but I did notice it lost it's exclusivity on this particular cruise. More on that later. 

After dumping our luggage in the cabin we headed straight to Guy's Burger Joint and Blue Iguana Cantina. These are easily our favorite restaurants on Carnival cruise ships and perhaps some of our favorites on any of the ships we have sailed. You just cannot get a better burger at sea. These 2 restaurants are part of the Carnival 2.0 Fun Ships upgrades and are on several ships but not all ships. The kids LOVED the food and were in heaven just taking all of the sights and the sounds in. And of course, Luke began his quest for eating as much ice cream as he could.

Not even PLEXUS can tame this craving!
They really are the best burgers on the high seas!

Luke eating his 1st of MANY ice cream cones!

Looking out at the water from the Lido Deck!

Afternoon- Time to Explore
After lunch we wanted to explore the ship and learn as much about The Carnival Triumph as we could before we set sail. We decided to go to our room and get our camera and once there we learned that in order to even get into the room we would need to unpack all of our bags. We are notorious for over packing and we did it once again (This was our 1st time sailing in the Fall and with the kids so the over-packing came naturally and was warranted but next time we can cut in half AT LEAST).  

This was a VERY small room and easily the smallest inside room we have sailed on. It did in fact have 3 closets but one of them was taken up with the life vests, which we got 2 additional child's size ones later that evening so there were 6 in there total. That closet also had the safe in it so it was all but a lost space. The other 2 closets were hanging closest and were of good size but neither had shelves like we were used to so a lot of our clothes ended up laying in piles at the bottom of the closets. This was unexpected for us and made for a hassle when finding clothes. The room did offer 3 small drawers by the vanity but they too were smaller than usual. This was a quad inside cabin, category 4E and roughly 150 SQFT.

The kids LOVED the bunk beds! Us... not so much!
There are only so many times you can hit your head in the middle of the night and not get upset!  

After unpacking we decided to go and explore the ship as best we could. We mainly checked out the larger common areas like the lobby atrium, the casino, the lido decks and the promenade deck. While we were out on the promenade deck we saw fuel being pumped onto the ship which was very fascinating. We also went and got the kids registered for Camp Ocean, the kids club on board. 

The smiles on their faces tell it all! 

I love the excitement in their eyes! 

Auntie Allie and Gigi in the Atrium Lobby.

Gigi and Luke on the Promenade Deck. 

Watching the fuel being pumped onto the ship!
I have never seen that before! It was SO COOL! 

Love this little ANGEL!

Hello I am Kellie Davis, your Maitre' D! 

Poppy and Luke exploring Camp Ocean.

Selfie Time!

After exploring our kids requested to get into the pools and the hot tubs so we all went and changed into our swim suits. Natalie immediately asked to go down the waterside and oddly enough it was open (without a lifeguard on duty at the time) so Natalie and Chris went down the slide a few times. Luke said he wanted to go down but we knew he was too short. Chris took him up to deck 14 and tried to get him to go down on his lap but he chickened out at the last minute. Natalie continued to go down the slide 11 more times while the rest of us waited it out in the hot tub in the 75* Galveston temperatures. Eventually Poppy and Auntie Allie made it down the slide and they all said it was great fun. I planned on going down it in the next few days!

Hello from the Carnival Triumph!

"C'mon mommy take the picture already so we can swim!"

Natalie at the end of the slide! 

Daddy at the end of the slide. 

Poppy at the end of the slide! 

After about an hour of swimming time we headed back to the room to shower and get ready for the evening before the Muster Drill would begin. After getting ready we ventured over to Gigi and Poppy's balcony where the kids found a new favorite place on the ship. 

Hanging out in Gigi and Poppy's room! 

Smiling on Gigi and Poppy's balcony!

Around 3:45PM they called over the speakers for everyone to make their way to their Muster Station, which is the typical call time but was actually ON TIME for the 1st time in our Carnival history. While our 2 cabins were just feet away from each other, the fire door between us meant we were at separate muster stations so we all went our own way and would meet for sail away. Naturally, Luke said he was hungry after the drill so we grabbed him a Guy's Burger before we met up with the family for sail away.

Gigi found a great HIDDEN place for sail away on Deck 9 all the way to the front. It was wide open and hardly anyone was there. It sat directly above the bridge and was only accessible from the far forward of deck nine. If you didn't know it was there it would incredibly hard to find. It was perfect for sail away. We were able to watch the ship turn around and head out the channel. We even spotted SEVERAL dolphins jumping out of the water and even the kids were able to see them. I am afraid those watching the sail away from their balcony would have missed this. Be sure to find this hidden gem if you ever sail on the Triumph. The Carnival Triumph set sail at surprising time of 4:16PM, which was very prompt in our experience.

Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours! 

It was windy!

 A Traditional Buoy picture for me! 

The Davis- Klingsick Thanksgiving Cruise 2015 can now commence. 

Luke ate all of his cheeseburger and was like "hey, I am still hungry".
Yeah, he caught on to the whole "eat your heart out on the cruise" thing REAL FAST! 

Watching the dolphins! 

Evening- A Thanksgiving Feast 
After watching the sail away we headed back up to our room to get ready for the evening's Thanksgiving Feast provided by the Main Dining Room. We all met at the Taste Bar on Deck 5 at 5:30PM to try out the evening's samples. The Taste Bar is another thing that cannot be missed on The Carnival Triumph. It is only offered on embarkation and sea days but showcases some of the fleet's best restaurants and food options. The Taste Bar also features daily drink specials at only $5 from 5:30-8:30PM.  Chris and I also got one of our favorite drinks of the cruise called "The Cruiser" which is always the 1st day drink special.

Trying out the Blue Iguana offerings at the Taste Bar!
We are ready for our Thanksgiving Feast! 

The kids LOVED dancing while we waited for my family!

Fun times! 

We got to the London Dining Room by 5:50PM and were seated shortly after 6PM. The wait staff was great and friendly but the service was the slowest we have ever had on ANY cruise. At first I thought it was because it was the 1st night and the Thanksgiving Menu but it did not seem to get any better throughout the duration of the cruise. However, the kids did REMARKABLY well and despite the 2+ hour dinner time even Luke did very well.


Even Luke got to enjoy the CHEERS!

Luke was living it up and LOVING EVERYTHING he ate! 

Natalie got to eat pasta... EVERY night! She was in heaven! 

More ice cream for Luke!

Due to dinner taking so long we were not able to make it to the Welcome Aboard Show but we did catch the last few minutes of it and the cruise director Kirk seemed to be great and funny. We wanted the kids to try out the Camp Ocean kids club offerings so we took them to the welcome party at 8:30PM. Luke said he did not want to go but I told him to at least try it out. I got there at 8:15PM and found a VERY LONG LINE. I ended up waiting in line from 8:15-8:50PM just to drop them off and the party was over at 10:00PM. The workers in the Camp Ocean did not seem to know what they were doing and very unorganized. 

While I was dropping the kids off Allie and Chris played a Movie Trivia and each came very close to winning. However, Chris was able to get onto the Game Show as a contestant by acting wild and crazy in the lounge. He ended up winning the game show and getting yet another trophy called a "24 karat gold piece of SHIP on a stick". He has gotten one on each of our 2 other Carnival ships so he was determined to get one on this trip despite it only being 4 days. He surprised us all and got it on the 1st night. Way to go Chris! Not only did we get our GOLD cards but Chris got his GOLD trophy as well! What a great way to end our GOLDEN day!

It's Show Time!

Chris was SO SMART! I was so proud of him! 

Chris got his very own Carnival Triumph "Ship on a Stick"! 

While Chris was on the game show the Camp Ocean people called me on the cell phone they gave me to inform me that Luke had been crying for 10 minutes and had requested his mommy. So I headed back on up to the 11th deck to get my babies who just didn't like the kids club. Luke said it was too dark and too loud but Natalie said it was just boring. We would try again tomorrow.

We all went and changed clothes and got more comfortable before trying to walk on the outside of the lido deck. But first the kids wanted to try on their life jackets for size. I think Luke wanted to wear it all the time. 

Our 1st towel animal of the cruise!

Time to put on the life vests! 

And now go show Gigi! 

We finally made it to the Lido Deck and it was WINDY! Luke did not like the high winds and got very frustrated. The winds were unbelievable and I can only imagine how the 38 pound little guy felt because I too felt like the wind could whisk me away at anytime. Chris and I sailed on The Magic during a tropical storm and it was BAD but this was just as bad WITHOUT the storm. It made for a VERY long and ROCKY night!

We calmed Luke down and got some lemonade and popcorn and watched the Dive in Movie, Night at the Museum. All 7 of us enjoyed this down time but after about 30 minutes the kids ASKED to go to bed and were tired. We were in our room by 10:45PM and they were asleep by 11:00PM. This is not our typical cruising style but I have to be honest, we were tired too. 

The Dive in Movie was a big hit! 

Everyone had a great and relaxing time... But we were ALL tired!

The room was unbelievably hot. I think they looked at the Galveston weather of 60* and thought "lets turn on the heater". I asked our steward for a fan and he was able to get us one, but my parents stewards was not able to get one for them. Once again, take a fan with you if you are traveling on any Carnival ship. It was a great night but too bad the constant swaying kept both Chris and I awake most of the night. It was so bad in fact, that my sister got sick in the middle of the night. The boat was "a-rocking" all night!

It was an awesome feeling of surprising our kids with a cruise and it was promising to be a wonderful trip. We were ready and excited for what Day 2 would bring! 

Next up... Sea Day #1

God is good... All the time!

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