Friday, December 28, 2018

Days 6 & 7: Our Fun Days at Sea on the Carnival Freedom

Day 6 - At Sea:

Here we are, our last two days of the cruise, and I have yet to enjoy brunch in the MDR. Well, that's going to change today. With two sea days ahead, we have plenty of downtime to do whatever we want, as much or as little. Other than the one "critical" task of rinsing our dive gear today, our schedule is completely open.



Blue skies and calm seas



After getting to bed at midnight, we slept in until 9. Ahhhhh, one of the many joys of sea days! We awoke to a beautiful sunny day with calm seas. Since we were doing brunch in the MDR with Keith and Barbara, we didn't order our standard first breakfast from room service. That coffee won't drink itself. Let's head down to deck 3 and sign up for a table.

We met Keith and Barbara coming down the stairs and the four of us approached the hostess to ask for a table. Thankfully the wait was minimal and soon enough we were seated. Our waiter served coffee and pastries while we perused the menu. I don't know why I grab a menu, as I always order the eggs Benedict. For a "mass production" service that Carnival has to do, they do a remarkable job with the eggs Benedict. I learned long ago to ask for the Hollandaise sauce on the side, though. Otherwise, the galley will plate the eggs Benedict with the sauce on them, which will then sit under a heating lamp. The sauce tends to get very thick and burned looking on top. Do yourself a favor and ask for the Hollandaise on the side. Trust me on this. 



Eggs Benedict with potatoes



Oh, my, these were soooooo good! The eggs were poached perfectly, and the muffins were crisp without being overdone. The Hollandaise sauce had a good blend of richness and tanginess. 

Cindy opted for the French toast crusted with Frosted Flakes. Yes, with syrup. She's not normally one to choose something so sweet for breakfast, but hey, cruise food doesn't count.

"Funnest French Toast"


I had a bite and if you like a punch-you-in-the-mouth sweet dish this is definitely for you. Just make sure to have a vial of insulin handy. 

We took our time at brunch, sipping coffee and deciding what we wanted to do next. Obviously, Cindy and I would be on the aft Lido, rinsing dive gear. Keith and Barbara elected to meet us up there, and hang out at the pool and hot tubs. 

It didn't take us long to change into swimwear and haul our dive gear up to Lido. Surprisingly we didn't find much of a crowd so we were able to rinse all of our gear and spread it out over a few sun loungers to dry. We alternated between the pool and hot tubs, having fun and visiting with others while our gear dried. 

After spending several hours on Lido, we took our gear back to the cabin, showered and took a short nap before dinner. I figured we'd be hitting the piano bar after dinner and wanted to be sure I had plenty of energy to hang out for the evening. This was also our second formal night, so I wanted to make sure we had time to get into our formal wear.

During the day, we only grazed since we had a nice brunch. We were all ready for dinner when it was time to head to the MDR. 


Appetizer: Pasta Fagioli soup


For such a simple soup, it was surprisingly satisfying. The broth was well seasoned and both the carrots and pasta had a good mouthfeel, not overcooked or mushy. 


Entree: Filet Mignon



Steak for dinner again. Yes, life is good! Perfectly cooked, and almost fork tender. The potatoes were rich and creamy and the green beans had a nice snap to them. 


Dessert: Grand Marnier Souffle
Orange creme Anglaise


It's a good thing I saved room for such a sumptuous meal. Usually, by the time dessert rolls around I'm pretty full and eat only a bite or two. Not this time! I finished every bite of it. Every.bite.

Even after all of that, I wasn't overly full. And the best part? I managed not to drip anything on my formal clothes. Cindy wanted to take some more formal photos after dinner, so we headed up to deck 5 and posed with three different backdrops. Some of these were new, at least to us, so we definitely wanted to see what would come out. 

That done, both of us wanted to get out of our formal wear and into more comfortable clothes. We didn't spend any more time in the cabin than to change and head back down to deck 5. Ben normally starts his night at the piano bar at 9. We were a bit early yet, so we dropped by the karaoke bar to listen to our fellow passengers belt out some tunes. As we passed the piano bar, though, Ben was there, earbuds in, working something out on the piano.

"Hey Ben, what are you doing here so early?"

He looked up, smiled, and said: "I'm trying to learn that song you requested the other night."

Wow, how cool was that? A few nights ago I had requested My Own Worst Enemy by Lit. He wasn't familiar with it and asked me to give him a few days to learn it. Sure enough, he did! You're a true professional, Ben, and an asset to Carnival.

We spent about half an hour at the karaoke bar before walking the short distance to the piano bar. I was happy to get seats right at the bar instead of one of the tables. 



Ben the Piano Man


As we got settled, drinks in hand, Ben did his version of My Own Worst Enemy. Dude! You totally nailed it! Then again, I don't know of any song he hasn't just owned. The man is definitely talented, and puts on a fantastic show every night he's there. Some people book a cruise just for a specific cruise director. I would book a cruise if I knew Ben would be on board.

He had the whole bar rocking and I had no idea how late it was getting. I happened to look up and see Keith and Barbara enter. There were two empty seats by us at the bar so we waved them over. A glance at my watch and I was shocked. Just a few minutes before midnight! 

After midnight, Ben will break out his "red binder" songs. These are more adult in content and not suitable for kids. Cool! Barbara requested one from the red binder and Ben made sure to tailor the song just for her. I honestly don't remember what it was, but it was hilarious.

I think she liked the song.

In just another blink of an eye, at least to me, Ben was announcing last call. Wait, whaaat? Already? No wayyyy!

Way!

In the words of Karl Childers: Alright, then. Let's drink up and call it a night. Yep, we closed that bad boy down again!



Day 7 - At Sea:

Yawwwwnnnn.....

Why oh, why are we waking up so early on a sea day? Well, it's really not that early. It's 9 a.m. and we don't want to sleep the day away. There's just one day left of our cruise, so let's squeeze in another full day of fun. Since we liked brunch so much yesterday, we decided to do it again. 

We beat Keith and Barbara to the MDR by 10 minutes or so. Just as we were about to give up on them, figuring they decided to sleep in, they showed up. Good, y'all are here, let's get some breakfast and coffee.

Eggs Benedict with cheddar grits


I'm sure you can see from the photo above that Carnival is not stingy with their cheese. Now that's my kind of cheese grits! The eggs Benedict, as expected, were wonderful, and the cheese grits were creamy and gooey with all that cheddar. 

But wait, there's more!

I did say this was our last full day, right? We're gonna finish this cruise off with a bang. Hhhmmm, what's the best way to complete this fine meal? I know, cheesecake!


Salted caramel cheesecake



OK, to be honest, Cindy and I split the cheesecake. The chocolate graham cracker crumb combined with the caramel cheesecake and salted caramel drizzle proved to be the best ending for brunch. 

Much like yesterday, we changed into swimwear as soon as we finished brunch and spent most of the day in the aft Lido pool and hot tubs. The grazing plan seemed to work well for us yesterday, so we did the same today. A slice of pizza here, a few cookies there, and we were happy. 

What's this? I happened to be looking aft, at our wake, when I noticed another Carnival ship in the distance. It would be crossing our wake from right to left, making its course north to northwest, probably heading to New Orleans.


Who's crossing our wake?



Carnival Triumph




Another passenger had some binoculars and identified the ship as the Triumph. Well, that made my initial guess of New Orleans correct, then. At least I think so. 

Cindy and I returned to our cabin around 3:30 to rinse our swimwear and hang it up to dry before packing later. We spent some time on our balcony finishing our open bottle of wine, a nice Riesling Auslese, one of my favorites. It's a sweet white wine, with notes of apple and apricot. 

Cheers!


Finishing our wine, we changed into our casual dinner clothes and headed to deck 5 for the Past Guest party.  We would go directly from there to dinner. The past guest party is usually good for a few drinks and some hors-d'oeuvres before dinner. I always wonder if we'll run into friends of ours that we don't know are on the ship. This has happened a few times before when we'd see someone at the past guest party that we didn't know was on the ship.



Hungry?



Waiting for the party to begin


We sat with Vinnie (our diving buddy from Freeport) and his wife, and traded stories of cruising with Carnival as well as a few diving stories. They were staying aboard the Freedom when it made the next cruise. Good for them!

Since dinner was coming up, we each had a few bites and a couple of drinks, but that was it. Based on what I saw on the menu, I wanted to ensure I was hungry enough to enjoy it. And enjoy it we did.


Appetizer: Caprese salad
Tomato and fresh mozzarella
balsalmico, virgin olive oil, basil


I'm always happy to see this on the menu. Whenever it's there, you can bet that will be my choice of appetizer. Basil is my second favorite herb, close behind cilantro. Just writing this blog makes me want to go to a restaurant serving a fresh caprese salad.


Entree: Jerk pork loin
Slowly roasted pork loin,
marinated in island spices and herbs

Jerk seasoning works so well on both chicken and pork. With the variety of spices such as cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg, the heat is determined by how much pepper is added. It doesn't have to be blazing hot to be good, although I do appreciate a high heat level. This tenderloin was fork tender and the jerk sauce had the proper amount of heat to be interesting. 


Dessert: Chocolate ice cream


Such a simple dessert, but oh so rich and creamy. Besides, I was getting full. 

As soon as we finished dinner, we headed up to deck 4 to check out the formal photos we took the day before. Some came out quite nicely and we purchased a few different backgrounds. We normally don't buy that many photos, but all of these were worth spending money on.

Between comedian John Wessling's family and adult shows, we took the time to pack and get ready for debarkation the next morning. We had to have our suitcases outside the cabin by 11 p.m. and we made it with about half an hour to spare. Once we finished that, we thought we'd close out another fun cruise by hitting the piano bar one last time. 


Hangin' with Ben one more time


Our intent was to hang out for just a little while, then call it a day. Yeah, right! Once again, we stayed longer than we thought and weren't really surprised when Ben made last call. Since it was the last night, he closed a little earlier than usual, but not by much. Thanks for a rockin' good time, Ben! We hope to see you on another ship soon.


Selfie with Ben


We turned in a little after one and slept soundly until our alarm went off. Time to get off the ship and head home, I guess. As usual, we had a blast, and can't wait for our next cruise. 

I hope you've enjoyed this series as much as I've enjoyed writing it. For your convenience, here are the links to the other blogs in this series:







Coming up next, I'll wrap up 2018 and take a look at what's coming up in 2019.


Until next time....



carpe cerevisi



Friday, December 21, 2018

Advent fiction 2018

I'm glad my friend Loren is hosting another Advent fiction event on his website again this year. My first experience submitting flash fiction for his annual event was back in 2016. I had a lot of fun coming up with two flash fiction stories, which you can read here. Go ahead and click that link. It will open (as will any other link on this blog) in a new window. You won't have to leave this page to read it. 

What did you think? Did you enjoy reading them? I hope so!


image from Google search


What is "flash fiction?" In our case, it's a story of exactly 100 words (excluding title). No more, no less. Like the first time, I prepared two short stories for your reading pleasure. So, stretch out on the couch in front of a roaring fireplace, grab your favorite holiday libation and enjoy your feature presentations.




Homecoming

“What a surprise, huh, we get to go home for Christmas!”

Sergeant Kinkaid glanced at his squad mate. “Yeah, I know, I wasn’t expecting this.”

“Hot damn, Christmas with the fam! I can’t wait!”

“We’re leaving the unit shorthanded though.”

“Hey, everyone leaves the sandbox eventually, sarge, so let’s just count our blessings.”

Kinkaid just shrugged. “I guess.”



The C-17 landed at Dover AFB two days later and taxied to the ramp.

An officer looked at the manifest and shook his head. “Look sharp, guys, we have two Medal of Honor winners here. Let’s handle those caskets with extra care.”


image from Google search






Naughty or Nice?

Hans and his sister Wilma loved Christmas. Most of the time. Wilma tended to be the nice kid while Hans frequently ended up on the naughty list. He couldn’t help it. He just loved to have fun.

A series of mean pranks this year landed Hans back on the naughty list. Again. This time in red ink.


St. Nick reviewed the latest updates to “The List.” He noted with dismay the new names marked in red. “Hans Krämer?” He sighed and added Hans’ name to a list worse than the Naughty List.

“Krampus,” he muttered, “another one for your attention.” 


image from Google search




What do you think? Did you enjoy reading them? I truly hope you did. I had fun writing them, although the first one was definitely darker than the second story. 

During this holiday season, please remember to keep all of our deployed service members in your prayers and take time to reflect on their sacrifices for us over the holidays. 

If you are on the Naughty List, be careful that Krampus doesn't pay you a visit. 

I will finish the blog series on our Carnival Freedom cruise now that this project is done. A big THANK YOU to Loren Eaton for doing this again this year. Please be sure to check out the rest of the entries on his website at the link I made at the start of this blog.


Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all!



carpe cerevisi

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Day 5: Nassau, Bahamas on the Carnival Freedom

OK, I'll admit it. When the alarm went off at 5:50 this morning, I actually questioned whether or not it was worth it to go diving. "Why are we doing this?" and "It's vacation and I'm up before the sun!" definitely crossed my mind. Yeah, I know, once I'm up and going it isn't so bad. It's just that whole getting up early thing. Just let me have some coffee and I'll get over it.

Thinking back on our first trip to Nassau in 2010, we had to get up early as well, but not quite as early as today. We booked a day pass to Atlantis Resort and loved it. An afternoon nap would make up for getting up so early if we really needed one.



Atlantis Resort


Our port times for Nassau today are 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. With morning dives booked at Bahama Divers, we really needed to be there as soon as we could get off the ship, grab a taxi and head to the dive shop. The arrival window would be tight, but they'd wait a few extra minutes for us if necessary. 

It was just getting light enough to watch our approach into Nassau from our balcony as we waited for first breakfast. I tried to get a good picture of the moon, but it was still a bit too dark for the camera to capture. At least the hotels had plenty of lights on, so I was able to get a decent shot of one of them.



Some hotel in Nassau



Now that I was up, I enjoyed viewing the scenery as I sipped my coffee. Just a touch of cool in the breeze made it the perfect environment to wake up in. Room service delivered first breakfast right on time. While a breakfast burrito from the Blue Iguana Cantina would've been ideal, I was happy with the pastries. The croissant with butter and orange marmalade is especially pleasing.


Our standard "first breakfast"



This is pretty typical of our first breakfast when we have it delivered. The specific type of muffin and pastry might differ, but otherwise that's what we have. I sure hope Tolkien's estate doesn't take issue with my liberal use of "first breakfast" and "second breakfast." It's just so fitting for what we do!

With such a tight arrival window, I was glad to get off the ship by 7:20 and secure a cab. The drive from the terminal to the dive shop went smoothly and the driver dropped us off right at 7:30. Perfect! We signed in, paid our fees, and were directed out the back door to our boat, the Dreadnought 6. The boat crew helped us aboard and we introduced ourselves to the crew and other divers.

Soon enough we were underway to our first dive site: The Lost Blue Hole. This particular site was literally a large hole, about 50 feet across, extending to about 200 feet. As we were setting up our gear, learned that one of our fellow divers was an Air Force instructor pilot. It was cool talking to him about flying, especially the "Bone" (B1-B).

Our divemaster ("DM") gave a thorough pre-dive briefing, and left us with: "I don't know why it's called the Lost Blue Hole. We find it every day." Good one, dude! Are you ready? We'll do this just like we did yesterday in Freeport. Inflate your BCD, mask on, regulator in, and let's go!


Cindy (L) and the DM (R) on the downline





Our site greeter





Cindy checking out the wall





Hey, look behind you!





Edge of the Lost Blue Hole



Was that cool, or what? The DM is up ahead, pointing to a large turtle. Let's go check it out. Careful now, approach slowly so you don't spook it. This thing is huge! I've never seen remoras on a turtle like that before. Interesting.



Turtle and remoras




Our divemaster decided to give us something funny to shoot. He started blowing "bubble rings." I need to learn how to do that. Looks like fun.



Not smoke rings, but bubble rings




By this point in the dive, we were close enough to the dive boat where we could just swim around on our own, finding interesting fish to video or photograph. Follow me, and let's see what we can find.



How many sharks in this photo?



Two, actually. Look in the background, near the top right of the photo and you'll see another. Remember to look all around, as well as up and down. 


Spotted burrfish (?)


One of these days I'll make more of an effort to learn fish recognition. Normally the DM will carry a slate and write down specific fish species or use a hand signal to identify the fish. When finding something on my own that I don't recognize, I'll either ask the DM (or other divers) when we get back on the boat or use a fish identification book I have at home. 

There's the downline. Let's go ahead and do our three-minute safety stop and get back on the dive boat.



Sign for three-minute safety stop
Image used with permission from sportdiver.com




My basic stats for the Lost Blue Hole:
Max depth: 92 feet
Bottom time: 40 minutes
Average visibility:  65 feet


I noticed a remarkable similarity between skydivers and scuba divers. Immediately after a dive, be it from a plane or a dive boat, the participants tend to talk animatedly about what they just did. From my skydiving days: "Dude! That was an awesome 8-way we did. We must've turned a dozen points before breakoff." From my recent scuba dives: "Dude! Did you see that huge moray? It was freakin' cool!" 

See what I mean?

Our surface interval was a bit shorter than what I'm accustomed to. I'm NOT saying this was bad or a mistake, just shorter than surface intervals we take in Grand Cayman or Cozumel. After we received our pre-dive brief, I understood why it was so short. Our second dive site for the day is Barracuda Reef, with a maximum depth of 30 feet. Our time would be limited to 42 minutes at the most. In fact, they were very specific about it. 

I'm generally not a fan of diving to a timetable versus my computer. That's one of several reasons I like using a private dive operator instead of the one through the cruise line. I get it, though. Different areas of the Caribbean do things, well, differently. Most of my perceptions of "Caribbean dive operators" comes from who we use in Cozumel, Grand Cayman, and Roatan. Yesterday in Freeport and today in Nassau is our first experience diving in the Bahamas. Maybe that's just the way things are done here. No worries, we'll still have fun. We've had a blast so far. 

For Barracuda Reef, the boat crew had bags of fish food for sale if we wanted to take some along. A few of the divers purchased a bag of food, but since I would be diving with my GoPro, I thought I'd just shoot video of the others as they fed the fish. Cindy opted not to carry a bag of food either since so many others had some. Our pre-dive brief indicated that this was a horseshoe-shaped reef, and the DM recommended we start at one "point" of it, follow it around the outside, then continue around the inside. The dive boat was moored essentially in the center of the horseshoe.

Are you ready to go, my virtual dive buddy (AKA "reader")? Full tank? Good! Fins on, BCD inflated, mask on, regulator in and off we go! Giant stride entry into the water.



Scuba selfie!


I'm really not vain, but the older model GoPro I use doesn't have a display on the back. I like to turn the camera around so I can visually verify that it's recording. Some family members though, often encourage me to take more selfies since I'm usually the one holding the camera.


Our welcoming committee?



Yellowtail snapper




Cindy selfie




Multiple species here




Grouper






Continuing along the "horseshoe"




"Can we buddy up with y'all?"


As Cindy and I approached another dive pair, Ryan (the Air Force dude) signaled us to ask if they could tag along. Absolutely! The more the merrier. It's also proper to let Army lead the way over Air Force. Just sayin'...


We must be at Ft. Bliss


I know many of y'all reading this are probably wondering about that last caption. Yep, this is another one of those esoteric references my wife is always fussing at me about. I'll explain the caption in my next blog but would love to see what your guess is. Please leave a comment below (in this blog, not where I posted the link) with your best guess. I'll give the one who supplies the first correct answer a shoutout in the following blog. This should be interesting!

Heading back to the dive boat



This is one of the few Caribbean dives where we don't need to do an official safety stop. Our average depth for this dive was around 22 feet. Basically, the whole dive was a  safety stop. The crew said 42 minutes max for the dive and as soon as my dive computer indicated 42 minutes we began our ascent to the surface.  I climbed back onto the boat with 1625 psi of gas still in my tank. 


My basic stats for Barracuda Reef:
Max depth: 26 feet
Bottom time: 42 minutes
Average visibility:  50 feet

To paraphrase Forrest Gump: And just like that, our diving and port days were over for this cruise. We broke down our dive gear and stuffed it back inside the bag on our way back to the dive shop. Like we did in Freeport, we'd rinse all of our gear in the Lido showers back on the ship. The dive shop gave us a ride back to the cruise terminal, and we were back on the ship right at 1 p.m. 

Number one on our list was to drop off our gear in the cabin and go up to Lido for lunch. Both of us were quite hungry, so rinsing our gear could wait a few minutes. Priorities, you know. 

Cindy had been mulling over whether or not to try a lobster roll from Carnival's new dining venue called Seafood Shack. This is one of those additional fee places, so she was initially hesitant. "Oh, just make like a rodent and gopher it," I encouraged. 

Go ahead and get all those groans out of the way now. I'll wait.

Better?

About the time she decided to snag that lobster roll, we found Keith and Barbara heading up to the BBQ place for their lunch. We chatted briefly, and I let them know we'd join them after we got our lunches. I decided a Cuban sandwich would be perfect, so off to the deli I went.



Cuban sandwich



No, your eyes aren't playing tricks on you. The fries in the foreground are smaller than the ones in the background. The smaller fries are from Guy's Burgers and are crispier than the ones included with the sandwich. I mixed a little BBQ sauce with the ketchup to dip my fries in and carried my plate up to deck 10 to join Keith and Barbara. 

Oh, wow! That Cuban was delicioso! Was I tempted to get another? Of course! Did I? Nope, not with the selection of desserts available just a few steps from the stairs. Carnival does a good job with their chocolate chip cookies, too. Care to join me at the dessert station?



Dessert trio



This trio of yum provided a tasty finish to lunch. On the left is a citrus napoleon. Proceeding clockwise you'll find a couple of chocolate chip cookies, and continuing around the plate reveals a Dutch apple cheesecake. The flaky layers of the napoleon combined with the tart, lemony filling definitely won the taste battle over the cheesecake. The cheesecake was good, but not quite up to the level of the napoleon. And the cookies? Both of them disappeared and a few more magically appeared to accompany us back to the cabin.

Would you believe me if I said that we had every intention of taking our dive gear up to Lido to rinse it off? We did, really! Between the early wakeup and a good lunch, the sleepy germ infected both of us and just a short little rest on the balcony would be just the thing before we went up on deck. That was the plan, anyway. 



I wonder if we could rent this house


I have no idea who owns this house, but I bet it would make a great place to rent for a week of diving in Nassau. It was visible from our balcony and I thought just how cool it would be to hang out there as sleep overtook us. Hard. Ninety minutes later I managed to claw my way up from the depths of blissful slumber. Glancing at my watch and...

Uh ohh....

Sailaway and dinner were rapidly approaching. By now the Lido pools would be getting crowded so rinsing our gear would have to be first thing in the morning. After breakfast. It's a sea day, so we should be fine if we get it done in the morning. We can watch sailaway and get cleaned up for dinner. 


Tugboat to assist us from the pier


Lines dropped and we were underway just after 5. Thankfully we departed on time so we could watch sailaway and still get to dinner by 6. I like having a cabin near the aft. Being so close to the MDR allows us a few extra minutes to do what we want or need to do. 



Interesting lighthouse


We passed by this little lighthouse as we departed Nassau. After visiting the other lighthouse in Key West, I was curious about the history of this one. It did make for some good photo ops, regardless of its history.

Farewell, Nassau


Nassau receded into the distance as Cindy and I made our way to dinner. Keith and Barbara had just sat down, and we traded stories of our day as we looked over the menu. There are some good choices tonight! 

With two sea days ahead, and diving finished for this cruise, I treated myself to a pre-dinner cocktail. 


Island Rum Punch

This "Island Rum Punch" consisted of rum (duh!), pineapple juice, orange juice and grenadine. Tasty! The thought briefly crossed my mind to order a second one, but at $9.25 per drink, I satisfied myself with iced tea after finishing the first drink.


Appetizer: Cannelloni
Ricotta, bacon, shaved parmesan

This cheesy pasta, accented by a rich tomato sauce served admirably as the start of my dinner. I appreciated the fact that the pasta wasn't overcooked and mushy.


Entree: Caribbean Pepper Steak
Tender strips of marinated steak, peppers, red onions and pineapple.
Served with fried plantains.


Oh, yeah, baby! This is definitely another keeper. The beef was tender and exquisitely seasoned. Combined with the pineapple chunks, it reminded me of a Caribbean-Asian fusion. Too bad I can't get this at a local restaurant.


Dessert: Double Roasted Pineapple
White wine stewed pineapple


The menu didn't mention it was served with cream, and I forgot about it since I had it on the last cruise. I ordered some vanilla ice cream to accompany the pineapple dessert. Pineapple is my favorite fruit, and I enjoy it prepared in almost any fashion.

Pleasantly full, we returned to the cabin to change out of our dinner wear. We had about half an hour before the "Name that Spooky Tune Trivia" started in the main lounge. Remember, we did this cruise the week before Halloween, even though I'm just now posting each day's events. I took a few minutes to sit outside on the balcony and enjoy a full moon reflecting off the water.

Beautiful night


That photo does absolutely no justice to just how pretty it was. Then again, I did take this from my phone, so it was still better than what I hoped for. On the horizon was another cruise ship, although I have no idea which one it was. I don't even know which cruise line it belonged to. Yes, this is at full zoom.


Who are you?


Cindy and I arrived early enough to get good seats for the spooky tune trivia, as well as the "Spook-Tacular Bingo" and the Love and Marriage Show to follow. Keith and Barbara showed up just as bingo ended, so we all sat together for the Love and Marriage Show.


Cruise Director Emma


Our CD Emma hosted the spooky tune trivia and the Love and Marriage Show. I wrote previously about this show on our last cruise. You can find the whole blog here, but if you don't want to read all of it, I'll repeat the most important details. 

For those not familiar with this show, the CD will host the Love & Marriage Show once per cruise. He or she normally selects the most recently wed couple, the longest-wed couple and something in between. She'll then bring them on stage, sitting back to back, and ask them a series of questions. Much like TV's The Newlywed Game, these questions are definitely adult in nature, so Carnival restricts minors from the show. You can just imagine how funny some of their answers (and reactions) are. 



Love and Marriage Show


As expected, some of their answers were hilarious, and everyone seemed to have a great time. I'm always curious after these shows what kinds of conversations the contestants have once they get back to their own cabin. 

Ben Gentry has the night off from the piano bar, so off to the comedy club we went. Keith and Barbara decided to join us for the comedy show and all four of us made the trek from one end of the ship to the other. On the schedule for tonight is John Wessling. Much like the other comedian we saw earlier, Chris Wiles, we weren't that familiar with Mr. Wessling. I'm glad we went, though, as his show was fantastic. He was especially relatable because he's originally from the Rio Grande Valley, where I spent a lot of time throughout my life. I think he was a bit surprised when I asked him when he last ate at El Pato's. That's a local chain in the Valley that I really wish would make its way to our area. It's not known outside of the Valley unless you've just happened to eat there.

John's show wrapped up and we called it a night. Yeah, we had a nap in the afternoon, but that early wake-up started making itself felt. We are so sleeping in these next two days!

Here is the whole Freedom blog series so far:


Back to the Bahamas on the Carnival Freedom

Day 2: Our First Fun Day at Sea on the Carnival Freedom

Day 3: Key West on the Carnival Freedom



Coming up next is our second fun day at sea, as well as our second formal night at dinner.


Until next time.....


carpe cerevisi