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Crown Cruise Vacations | June 16, 2019

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Carnival Cruise Line Archives - Crown Cruise Vacations

Dr. Seuss Entertains all Ages Aboard Carnival Sensation

April 25, 2019 | Jackie Sheckler Finch

ABOARD THE CARNIVAL SENSATION –  Do you like green eggs and ham? How about moose juice or goose juice?

Chances are your children like them. And youngsters know exactly where such creative food came from – Dr. Seuss.

Now children of all ages can enjoy an exciting partnership with Dr. Seuss Enterprises and Carnival Cruise Lines. Read more...

Carnival Victory Shows Feature Top-Notch Talents

April 11, 2019 | Jackie Sheckler Finch

ABOARD THE CARNIVAL VICTORY – I didn’t know what to expect when I went to my first night’s show in the Carnival Victory theater.

On a previous cruise, the nightly entertainment was more audience participation and that got tiresome after a while. I’m sure it was enjoyable for the many passengers who raised their hands and rushed the stage for a chance to perform or chat or be part of a game show with the entertainers. Read more...

Carnival Victory Towel Critters Have Their Own Entertaining Show

March 21, 2019 | Jackie Sheckler Finch

ABOARD THE CARNIVAL VICTORY – What happens to those cute little towel animals when cruise ship passengers leave their cabins? The critters party.

At least that’s what a new show on the Carnival Victory says occurs once passengers head out of their staterooms and close the door. Read more...

Boarding and exploring Carnival Victory

January 17, 2019 | Jackie Sheckler Finch

ABOARD CARNIVAL VICTORY – Leaving the sterile steel-and-concrete cruise terminal to board the Carnival Victory, I saw the woman ahead of me stop and marvel at the huge nine-deck ship atrium.

“Oh, it is so gaudy,” she said.

 “I love it,” responded the woman next to her. Read more...

Carnival Victory Cruise: ‘American Table’ dining room offers tasty menu choices

December 11, 2018 | Jackie Sheckler Finch

I remember the first time it happened to me. I had enjoyed clam chowder many times, particularly when I lived near Cape Cod and worked at a Massachusetts newspaper.

But on a long-ago cruise when I ordered clam chowder, I received a big white bowl with some chopped clams in the bottom. Mighty skimpy.

Then the dining room waiter poured a small pitcher of clam chowder over the clams. That’s more like it, I thought.

On my Carnival Victory cruise, I saw the same look on the face of a newlywed bride at the dining room table next to mine. She had ordered chilled peach soup.

What she got was a big white bowl with a blob of chopped peaches. Then the dining room waiter poured a pitcher of soup over her peaches. I could hear the bride and her husband laugh as they realized how puzzled they had been.

Cruises are a wonderful way to try something new. In fact, Carnival encourages that yearn to try unusual food.

On our Carnival Victory dinner menu under appetizers is an item called “Rare Finds.” The food listing goes on to explain that these are “foods you always wanted to try but haven’t yet dared.”

Very cute idea. And very popular judging by my dining companions on the Carnival Victory. I must be an adventurous eater because I have already tried most of them.

It’s a safe bet that if you don’t like that night’s choice, a Victory server will be sure to bring something else that you do like. A couple of times I have not finished my appetizer or entrée – certainly not that it wasn’t good, just that it can be food overload on a cruise. Invariably, my server would ask if the choice wasn’t to my liking and if I would prefer something else.

Some ‘Rare Finds’

In case you are curious, here are Rare Finds choices on my cruise.

–          Frog legs with Provençale herb butter served with warm brioche

–          Braised rabbit in puff pastry shell with red wine sauce

–          Braised ox tongue with onion marmalade

–          Cured salmon and candied tomato with dill cream, grapes and lemon dressing

The salmon was great. Frog legs and rabbit, I didn’t need to try. I ate both rabbit and frog legs plenty of times as a child when my father caught them and my mother cooked them.  Ox tongue I have never knowingly eaten and don’t intend to eat, even though the server said it is quite delicious.

Also as part of Carnival’s new American Table style is a different place setting than many passengers are accustomed to seeing. There are no tablecloths except for the formal Captain’s Dinner. Instead, the lovely wooden tables get to show their shine.

Doesn’t bother me at all not to have tablecloths. Just think about all the laundry that saves. So much more environmentally friendly. On other cruise ships, I have seen servers changing tablecloths as soon as diners get up to leave so the table is ready for the next diners.

On the Victory, servers respond quickly to clean tables and set them anew. We do have cloth napkins, plus a big carafe of ice water sitting on the table.

Part of the dinner table décor for American Table is cute little bread plates with images of American city landmarks. For dinner my first night, I had a plate with the Hollywood logo sign.

Each table has a wine bottle with a stone on a rope around it with the table number. I don’t have a reserved table but have been escorted to a window dining table every night. That’s because on the first night when asked where I would like to sit, I answered “window” and the dining room staff remembered that.

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The menu is long and seems to offer something for everyone. It starts with about 10 appetizer choices, including fried calamari, chilled Vietnamese roll, cream of ripened tomatoes, shrimp cocktail, smoked chicken quesadilla, corn chowder, heart of lettuce, kale or romaine Caesar salad or lychee bisque. That’s was our first night’s dinner.

Next on the menu is entrees – slow cooked prime rib, spanakopita and stuffed bell peppers, grilled jumbo shrimp, teriyaki salmon fillet, spiral pasta with mushrooms and aged parmesan or the featured vegetarian of Indian style vegetable dish with lentils, basmati rice, pickles, papadam and raita.

Each evening, diners can also select “From the Grill” entrees such as salmon fillet, flat iron steak, chicken breast and pork chop.

For an extra $20, diners can choose one of the following: broiled filet mignon, New York strip loin steak, broiled Maine lobster tail or surf & turf.

All the entrees come with side dishes but those also can be ordered separately. Side dish options include mac & cheese with bacon, creamed spinach, ratatouille, baked potato with all the toppings, sautéed green beans and french fries.

‘Port of Call’ cuisine

A fun section of the menu deals with each “Port of Call” on our cruise itinerary. For example, in Cozumel, the menu notes that “Mexico is famous for producing some of the sweetest and juiciest corn in the region as well as grass-fed sustainably raised livestock. And, of course, tequila.”

The “Port of Call” offers a special cocktail, appetizer and entrée. The Cozumel cocktail was a margarita made with El Jimador Tequila, Patron Citronge and lime juice. Appetizer was tortilla soup with braised chicken. And entrée was steak tacos grilled over an open flame and topped with fresh pico de gallo, cilantro and avocado-arbol chili.

Desserts have included Carnival’s signature melting chocolate cake, crème brulee, chocolate hazelnut cake, apple crumb pie with ice cream, baked Alaska, cheese plate, tropical fruit plate or ice cream.

On the featured wine list are several choices, including Carnival’s special Gifft wines by celebrity winemaker Kathie Gifford – a chardonnay and a red wine blend. Carnival Cruise Line began offering Gifford’s wines in 2015.

Before that, the “Today” show host and former Carnival spokeswoman had joined the cruise line in the 1980s where she sang and danced her way through several ad campaigns.

That’s a fun thing about cruises – a chance to try something different and learn something new.

Photos and article by Jackie Sheckler Finch

 

Photo courtesy of Jackie Sheckler Finch

Chilled peach soup comes with a small amount of peaches and the soup is poured atop

Photo courtesy of Jackie Sheckler Finch

Chilled peach soup comes with a small amount of peaches and the soup is poured atop

Photo courtesy of Jackie Sheckler Finch

Bread plates feature images of American city landmarks

Photo courtesy of Jackie Sheckler Finch

The Atlantic Dining Room is light and airy with ocean décor

 

Carnival Sensation invites cruiser to pour their own ThirstyFrog Red beer

November 19, 2018 | Jackie Sheckler Finch

 

 

 

 

By Jackie Sheckler Finch

He used to live in the forest, soaking up the rain. Now he lives on the Carnival Sensation, basking in the sun.

That’s the Carnival story about the RedFrog. And they’re sticking to it.

In fact, the little tree frog has made himself so at home on the cruise ship that he has his own private label draught beer, custom-brewed specially for Carnival – ThirstyFrog Red.

The first pub ever on a Carnival ship opened May 2011 on the Carnival Magic with ThirstyFrog Red beer and the response was overwhelming. The ship ran out of the private label draught beer.

So popular has ThirstyFrog Red become that it is now served fleet wide. Carnival describes the specialty beer as having “rich taste and delicate aroma with toasted notes resulting from the fine caramel and black malts using during the brewing process.”

I’m not a beer connoisseur but I thought it tasted good.

A new option I saw on the Carnival Sensation – at least new to me – is a self-service beer station in the Lido buffet. Passengers can pour their own beer at 29 cents per ounce. All you have to do is place a glass under the tap, swipe your Sail & Sign cruise card, pull the tap and pour up to 14 ounces of ThirstyFrog Red.

 New dining options, bars added in 2017

In the ship’s 2017 remodel, the Carnival Sensation received a RedFrog Rum Bar and a BlueIguana Cantina. The Sensation also has a BlueIguana Tequila Bar.

Located on the Lido deck, the BlueIguana Cantina serves up freshly made tacos, burritos and tortillas with no extra charge. The Cantina serves breakfast and lunch. Tacos are topped with choice of chicken, pork or fish. Burritos offer chicken, pork, fried fish or shrimp.

Both come with unlimited toppings such as refried beans, cilantro lime rice, roasted corn, charred green peppers and more. Then head over to the salsa bar to add even more to the meal.

I never tried BlueIguana Cantina for breakfast but I was told that the breakfast burritos are good and that you can get scrambled eggs, chicken sausage, hash browns, cheese, salsa, pico de gallo and more. Huevos rancheros also are a possibility.

Blue Iguana’s tale

Of course, the Blue Iguana has to have a tale to tell. What makes him blue? Some think he was born that way. But legend has it that he spent too much time in the blue agave fields soaking up the spirit of tequila.

You also might be asking how an iguana finds a pair of purple sunglasses … that fit. Let’s just say it boils down to one memorable trip to Cozumel, Mexico. The rest of the story, it is said, can be heard if you treat Blue to a tall tequila drink.

To keep it fun, the BlueIguana and the RedFrog have devout followers who engage in friendly competition.

“We think it started when Blue stole Red’s drink and put it on his menu,” a bartender said. “We think that’s where the rivalry started.”

As RedFrog himself might say – “Chill out. Live life to the fullest.”

Photo by Jackie Sheckler Finch

Carnival Sensation décor reminiscent of retro ‘60s mod

October 29, 2018 | Jackie Sheckler Finch

 

 

 

 

By Jackie Sheckler Finch

Chrome and silver. Gold and purple. Neon lights. Orange leather seats. Triangle-patterned bar stools. Plush sofas. Squiggles and curlicues galore. The Carnival Sensation décor, to me, looked like retro ‘60s mod.

I almost expected to see movie secret agent Austin Powers sashaying down the ship promenade. I lived through those times so I like the styling of the 25-year-old ship.

The heart of the ship is the soaring glass-and-metal atrium. Two rocket-shaped glass elevators zoom up and down for great views. The Atrium Bar is a hopping place with drink specials and live music on a raised stage over the bar.

The Deck 7 atrium is home to Guest Services, Shore Excursions, and a five-station Internet Café. Deck 8 has Fantasia Lounge and the ship’s Fun Shops offering Carnival souvenirs, toiletries, cruise clothes, handbags, designer watches, sunglasses, jewelry, liquor, cigarettes and more.

The Promenade on Deck 9 is aptly named. It’s a good place to walk, glance in the galleries, see the action in the casino, browse Pixels photo gallery, stop by the new Cherry on Top gift and candy store, and more.

The ship’s photographers do a good job and I’m sure those ship photos often become valued family memories. The photographers roam around taking casual photos and they also set up beautiful backdrop sets for special nights, particularly during the captain’s dinner which is the only dress-up night on our five-day cruise.

Photos are displayed on large boards and can be bought or not. Life goes so quickly and I know from my own experience that families often put off having a professional photo taken, thinking we’ll do it later. But later might not come. On my home office desk are two ship photos of a cruise I took with my grandson Logan and my sister Elaine. Brings back happy memories.

Can’t get there from here

Built in 1993, Carnival Sensation does have some inconveniences. It is one of those you-can’t-get-there-from-here ships. For my first night’s dinner, it was a bit of a hunt to find my Fantasy Dining Room on Deck 8 forward.

Sounds reasonable to walk up to Deck 8 or take an elevator there but if you arrive at the wrong end of the ship, you’re out of luck. You can’t just walk to the other end of the ship on Deck 8. There is no thruway. Instead, you have to either go up and come down or go down and come up.

Quite a few of us seemed lost that first night. One woman said she would just follow me. With my sense of direction, that might not have been a wise move. But we did find our Fantasy Dining Room.

On Deck 0 is the medical center. Two self-service coin-operated laundries are busy places on Deck 6 and Deck 7.

At the top of the ship on Lido Deck 10 are two whirlpools, the main pool and an activity stage where dance lessons are offered and games such as corn hole are played. Carnival Waterworks is on Deck 11. For folks at least 21 years old, Serenity Whirlpool is located on Deck 9.

The Carnival Sensation is a grand old lady who is not ready to hang up her traveling shoes. And she shouldn’t.

Photo by Jackie Sheckler Finch

Carnival Sensation’s ‘American Table’ offers no tablecloths but tasty menu choices

October 22, 2018 | Jackie Sheckler Finch

 

 

 

 

 

By Jackie Sheckler Finch

 

On our first dinner aboard the Carnival Sensation, the woman at the table next to me was surprised to see dining room tables without tablecloths.

Doesn’t bother me at all. Just think about all the laundry that saves. So much more environmentally friendly. On other cruise ships, I have seen servers changing tablecloths as soon as diners get up to leave so the table is ready for the next diners.

On the Sensation, servers respond quickly to clean tables and set them anew. We do have cloth napkins. Just no tablecloths except for the formal Captain’s Dinner.

It’s all part of Carnival’s new American Table style. I like it.

One of the American Table changes I like most is a big carafe of ice water sitting on the table. I can pour it myself when my glass is empty. Usually, a server will quickly notice and do the pouring for me. But I like the option of knowing that there is plenty of ice water right within reach throughout my meal.

The Carnival Sensation has two dining rooms – Fantasy and Ecstasy. Ecstasy is open for scheduled seating. I’m in Fantasy because I chose “Your Time” dining. That means I can show up in the dining room anytime between 5:45 and 9:30 p.m.

Some folks like a set reservation for each night’s dinner to prevent any possible waiting in line for a table. I prefer the flexibility of “Your Time” in case I want to stay ashore a little longer, finish a shipboard activity or write a blog while it’s still fresh in my mind. I prefer to dine early so have had no trouble getting a seat around 6 p.m. I have noticed a bit of a line when I’m leaving the dining room around 7:30.

American Table décor and menu

Part of the dinner table décor for American Table is cute little bread plates with images of American city landmarks. So far, I’ve had a plate with the Hollywood logo sign, another one with the Statue of Liberty and one with the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, “The City of Brotherly Love.”

Each table has a wine bottle with a stone on a rope around it with the table number. I don’t have a reserved table and have never been escorted to the same dining table twice. But that is fine with me. Lets me see more of the dining room and be seated near different passengers.

The menu is long and seems to offer something for everyone. It starts with about 10 appetizer choices, including fried calamari, chilled Vietnamese roll, cream of ripened tomatoes, shrimp cocktail, smoked chicken quesadilla, corn chowder, heart of lettuce, kale or romaine salad or cured salmon with candied tomato. That was our first night dinner.

Next on the menu is entrees – sweet and sour shrimp, grilled swordfish steak, honey glazed pork loin, braised beef brisket, vegetable lasagna and Indian vegetarian. Each evening, diners can also select “From the Grill” entrees such as salmon fillet, flat iron steak, chicken breast and pork chop.

For an extra $20, diners can choose one of the following: broiled filet mignon, New York strip loin steak, broiled Maine lobster tail or surf & turf.

All the entrees come with side dishes but those also can be ordered separately. Side dish options include mac & cheese with bacon, creamed spinach, ratatouille, baked potato with all the toppings, sautéed green beans and french fries.

 ‘Port of Call’ cuisine

A fun section of the menu deals with each “Port of Call” on our cruise itinerary. For example, in Ocho Rios, the menu notes that “Jamaica is famous for its street food and jerk cooking. The jerk method of dry rubbing meats with spices and seasonings, then slow roasting it for many hours was used by the Jamaican Maroon people to preserve the meat for days. Originally only done with pork, today you find chicken, fish, sausage and other meats jerked as well.”

The “Port of Call” offers a special cocktail, appetizer and entrée. The Ocho Rios cocktail was pirate punch made with Bacardi Rum, Bacardi 8, Amaretto and orange juice ($8.95). Port of Call appetizer was jerked chicken wings served with banana chips and jicama slaw. Entrée was shrimp curry, sautéed shrimp in Caribbean curry sauce with lemongrass, chilies and tropical fruit, served with coconut rice.

Desserts have included Carnival’s signature melting chocolate cake, crème brulee, chocolate hazelnut cake, apple crumb pie, cheese plate, tropical fruit plate or ice cream.

On the featured wine list are several choices, including Carnival’s special Gifft wines by celebrity winemaker Kathie Gifford – a chardonnay and a red wine blend. Carnival Cruise Line began offering Gifford’s wines in 2015. Before that, the “Today” show host and former Carnival spokeswoman had joined the cruise line in the 1980s where she sang and danced her way through several ad campaigns.

A couple at the table next to me celebrating a young man’s college graduation ordered the Gifft chardonnay and said it was good, if a bit on the sweet side. They also plan to try the Gifft red blend at a later dinner. That’s a fun thing about cruises – a chance to try something we may not normally eat or drink at home.

Photo by Jackie Sheckler Finch

  • Carnival’s new ‘American Table’ style doesn’t include a tablecloth, except for the formal captain’s dinner.
  • Bread plates feature images of American city landmarks.
  • From appetizers to desserts, Carnival Sensation dishes feature lovely presentations.
  • Carnival’s chocolate melting cake is always a popular dessert choice.
  • Ecstasy dining room offers plenty
  • Read more...

    Carnival Sensation afternoon tea is relaxing treat

    August 27, 2018 | Jackie Sheckler Finch

     

     

     

     

    By Jackie Sheckler Finch

    On our first relaxing day at sea, I went to the afternoon tea in the unusual Touch of Class room. To enter the room, you walk through a doorway composed of two giant silver hands arched upward with fingertips touching.

    Window seats also are created by the same arched hands. Red tiled walls have black and white handprints.

    A little girl named Kimberly from Miami came skipping in the room along with her grandmother. Kimberly sat primly while she was served tea, tiny sandwiches and sweets.

    “I’ve never had tea like this before,” Kimberly whispered, adding that her brother is swimming in the ship’s pool with their father while she enjoys her special time with “Grammy.”

    I’ll bet that tea time with her grandmother is something that 5-year-old Kimberly will remember long after our cruise is over.

    Photo by Jackie Sheckler Finch

     

    Carnival cruise activities encourage family phone-free vacations

    August 6, 2018 | Jackie Sheckler Finch

                   

          

     

     

    By Jackie Sheckler Finch

    Relaxing on the Lido Deck while waiting for my cabin to be readied on our first day, I overheard a mother telling her family, “Remember, we agreed this would be a no-phone vacation. We’re not going to use our cell phones for the whole cruise.”

    What a great idea!

    So far, I’ve seen that family – including two teens – around ship enjoying cruise activities together and apart. Without any cell phones in view.

    Of course, It’s not hard to enforce the no-phone agreement. If you don’t pay for one of the ship’s Internet plans, you usually don’t have Internet.

    Carnival Sensation offers several Internet plans. The value plan costs $16 for 24 hours or $60 for the entire cruise. The value plan provides access to sites and apps, social media, email, news, sports, weather and more.

    The Premium plan costs $25 for 24 hours or $88 for the entire cruise. It provides access to all websites and apps, including such streaming services as YouTube, Spotify and more. Premium offers the fastest possible connection where coverage allows.

    These plans are so much better than previous cruise ship plans where you would pay so much for so many minutes. That meant you always had to keep an eye on how many minutes used, how many minutes left, and whether you had signed off after each use. If you didn’t sign off, you could find your Internet minutes being consumed while you weren’t using them.

    Lack of cellphones on cruise

    It was unusual and very heartening to see so few cell phones being pulled out at meals and activities. Most people seemed to be enjoying family together time and partaking in shipboard fun.

    One extended family of 10 people was celebrating the birthday of 12-year-old Christian. “I’ve never been on a cruise before,” the young man from Georgia said. “This is my birthday present.”

    Proudly wearing a necklace gift from his mother and a T-shirt proclaiming it was his birthday, Christian said that what he likes best on the cruise is the arcade and the food.

    His cellphone? “Don’t have it,” he said, patting his empty shorts pockets. “Don’t miss it.”

    Many activities aboard ship to enjoy

    The daily FunTimes schedule is packed, especially on our two days at sea. Activities seem to go from sunup to after midnight.

    Choices include early morning yoga, evening stretch classes, art auctions, karaoke, dance lessons, bingo, raffles, free liquor tasting and tons of trivia games. Some of the trivia topics are Decades, Slogans, Sports, Movie Quotes, Food and Drinks, Game of Thrones and Friends.

    The ship’s comfortable movie theater has shown “Dunkirk” and “Wonder Woman” so far on our cruise. Unlike other large cruise ships, Sensation doesn’t have a big screen by the pool for movies under the stars, sports games and concert tapes.

    Also, if you are a serious sports lover, be forewarned that there is no sports bar on the Carnival Sensation. I did see a couple of dedicated fans huddled around a small TV watching an ESPN football game near the Lido Aft Bar.

    Library offers books and games

    The Sensation does offer a very large library in the Oak Room with books and board games that can be checked out on the honor system. It was nice to see families and couples in there playing board games. Chess, Yahtzee and Scrabble seem to be popular.

    Photo by Jackie Sheckler Finch