Sunday, February 8, 2015

*Tent on Wheels ON WATER* Meeting the Magic and the Prime Steakhouse

Sunday morning, I woke early.  Not really on purpose, but someone had to make coffee for the 6 people staying at our house.  That, and I was pretty excited about what the day would hold - by the end of the evening, we'd all be on the ship and the vacation that I'd been "cruise director-ing" for the past number of months would finally be underway!

The awesome part of getting up early is that I had the chance to turn on the Galveston Cruise Cam - a live camera feed of the port we'd head to shortly.  

Ok, so it's not really in *this* photo - I didn't think to take one that morning. This is what the camera shows toady at 7:30pm.

There was our Fun Ship!  AB and Sis woke up to the smell of coffee and the three of us watched as the Magic navigated her way into the port and docked.  It was a perfect beginning to an awesome adventure!  Once everyone else woke, RDB finally packed, and Mom and Aunt J arrived, we stuffed all our luggage into two cars and took off thru Houston, straight down I-45, into Galveston.

Houston traffic on a Sunday morning isn't so bad.  DO NOT ATTEMPT this on a weekday - take Beltway 8 (tolls) around instead!

 For those who might not be familiar with the Port of Galveston - it's about 4 miles off I-45 right as you cross over the bridge and onto the island.  The photo below shows the first glimpse we had of our ship (I see a Whale Tail!!) The odd looking facility in the middle of the photo is a grain elevator.  Ya'll know Texas, we play hard, but we work hard, too.  RDB and I had prepaid parking ($71 for two cars) with Discount Cruise Parking - who's lot is located behind the Exxon when you exit off I-45, but we wanted to take all our luggage (and people) straight to the ship, drop them off, then go park and ride the bus back.  Not necessary, but we wanted the few minutes' ride to ourselves.

**Funny story: we were riding back with a busload of passengers going to the RC ship over in Terminal 1.  One of the more, ahem, seasoned, cruisers leaned over and said: "Ya'll aren't on the wrong bus, you're on the wrong boat!" And then promptly showed us his platinum VIFP pin with a wink.  Said Carnival was better than RC, because of the 24/7 ice cream.  ;-) **

Ok, so I said we wanted the ride back to ourselves.  Truth was, we knew the luggage situation that morning was going to be messy, so we didn't want to have to load it onto the DCP's bus and then unload it again at the terminal.  We went straight to the terminal and found a porter.  Perhaps you'll understand why:

And that was only the bags we checked - not the backpacks, purses, bottles of wine, etc that we carried on!  Going thru security was easy enough - most things were well marked and the employees did a great job of keeping us informed of the next steps.  In less time than I can remember, we were taking our embarking photo and walking up the gangway.  It's official! We're on vacation! We're going on a cruise!!

We arrived a little after one and our rooms were ready, so we dropped off our carry-ons and went up to Lido to grab our first lunch and check out the aft deck.  I can't recall what we did between lunch and the Steakhouse, but I know we were amazed with our rooms and bumped into our room steward, Ihar (pronounced e-Har).  When he found me out on Mom and Aunt J's balcony after introducing himself to A&R, he asked if we would like the dividers opened between the three rooms. Well, YES! When we came back from dinner, and for the rest of our cruise, the six of us had a private veranda on the starboard side of the ship, deck 7! (I've written a separate post about our rooms, as we had an Ocean Suite, two balconies, and an interior, and between the eight of us, I've got pictures of all of them.)

We had a reservation for the group at 6pm in the Prime Steakhouse.  Rumor has it, if you booked the steakhouse for the night the ship leaves port, you'll get a bottle of wine for free.  I am here to tell you - it's no rumor: the wine flowed freely at our table (and it was much more than one bottle, I'm sure!)  The service was absolutely stellar, and the food set the tone for the rest of the cruise: everything was beautifully plated and tasted just amazing!  If you've not done the steakhouse on a Carnival ship, I highly encourage you to do so - the $35 up-charge is certainly worth it.

What a day!  We turned in shortly after dinner, ready for a week of fun on the high seas!

And ready for many more of these!

For more photos of our first day, go here.

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