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Rhonda Lewis

Age: 42

Occupation:Executive Director local non-profit

Number of Cruises: 1

Cruise Line: Carnival

Ship: Carnival Imagination

Sailing Date: December 9th,2002

Itinerary: Western Caribbean

Monday Dec. 9
Got into Miami about 9 am after getting our things we got a cab over to the docks. The only thing I can say about this was he was rude, and Mister Toad must have taught him how to drive. We told him what pier and what ship he tried to drop us two other places before we reached our ship. The folks in the brown, officer type people re-directed him we finally took our bags and walked. Our next challenge was to find the right spot and people to leave our bags so we could wait to get on board. We kept asking people and got sent back and forth, finally about the fifth time of changing directions we found a guy in white and discovered that was the uniform for the porters, the one we wanted. He took care of us promptly letting us know that we should tip him for the delivery of our bags to our room. Papers they handed us as we were checking in told us that it could be a late a 9pm before we got our bags. We must have tipped right because I had not even gotten my carry on unpacked before our bags showed up. When we compared notes we both tipped. It must have been the right amount to get our bags because it wasn’t 1:30 pm. We left port on time, I stood up on the sports deck in front of the wind screen. The best part of this was the dolphins that swam along as we left the bay. It was slightly raining but it was warm so it did not matter to me.

We got assigned to the 8:30 dinner seating and our table mates were fun. There was supposed to be six of us but two never came to eat with us. Our waiter and his assistant were very good and by the second meal learned what we wanted for drinks and learned that the one guy at our table always wanted 2+ of the entree that he ordered even when he said he only wanted one. We had some good laughs from that but the waiter was right more than wrong. Monday evening was spent learning the ship and discovering the casino. Some people said the sea was rough but as this was my first it was just a good rocking and boy did I sleep well.

Tuesday Dec. 10
Day at sea
Started with sunbathing ok but not much that I can tolerate for long periods of time, for me boring. I had planned to do the river float to the pyramid but after the lecture on what to expect I chose the river float through the cave for our day in Belize (Wed). The lecture was fun, the cruise director gave his impression of the tours he had take and would only comment on his personal experience. A couple of hours later we went to the lecture from Michael the shopper. I had read one of these reviews that said sit close to the front, thanks it was a good choice. Not only was it more fun but I ended up with a freshwater pearl necklace, aloe bath gel, and a pair of diamond earrings. My sister got color changing finger nail polish, tanzanite earrings and something else I don’t remember. This was the night of the Captains gala, I dressed up and had fun, they took pictures everywhere. I got one good one with my sister and we are giving it to Mom for Christmas. I got a facial done what a jip. They had a booking deal for some free eye treatment that was supposed to be 20 min. longer for booking when I did. When it came time for the facial she was so focused on selling me product that she stopped at the 50 min not the 1hr and 15 min as promised and then tried to hit me for over $400 in creams. I choked at the $95 price for the facial and the $61 for the one cream that I was in after in the first place to go for more. I was not impressed. I did not realize I had been cheated until I was dressed and waiting for her to ring me up. I figured I would be heard by expressing myself in a forum like this. I run with the motto hit them in the future business.

The evening shows were fun, I don’t remember which one was which at this point so I will comment on all together. The comedian with the southern accent, funny both shows G and R. I wouldn’t want to be from Mississippi he sure picked on them but worth seeing. The music was good, right now I am brain cramping on names but the male singer was very good. He was called on at the last min. to fill in for the magic act who was ill. I don’t think I missed anything. He had a knack for arranging music and took a lot of songs from the last 30 years and gave them a good twist. He did a 20 - 30 min show and I would have been ok if it had been doubled in length. The second comedian was even funnier than the first, his R was way more R than the first but he did a great job of picking on the folks that just begged to be picked on or at least looked like it. There was a third comedian that we picked up in Key West but I was too busy packing to see him.

They also had Bingo a few nights before the evening show and once in the afternoon. My sister split a $100 pot with 4 other people one afternoon. The buy in was a bit steep but... it was $10 for one and $20 for three. My sister started buying in together after she won which paid off. On Thursday we bought in on the evening one and for the $200 pot I think we got 3 or 4 pounces on all three cards combined. The second game for $500 we won and split with no one. I put most of my share on my sail and sigh card it covered my land tours. I digress

Wednesday Dec. 11

We got escorted to our bus immediately upon leaving the shuttle boat. We were on the fourth bus of five to leave the port for the caves. Due to a very skillful driver (Bob) and a very organized guide Elvis, we were the first to get there. The best part was I was not nervous of his driving once. When we got there we picked up a second guide to get us to the caves. This was about a three mile walk through the jungle not a stroll for the faint of heart. It had rained recently and the trail was..... well I can say GA mud has nothing on that trail of slime. The lead guide, not Elvis, had been told we were in a hurry and he seemed to have no concern for the people following him. I was slipping and sliding all over the place. One time the trail was on an incline and my feet went out from under me. I reached out to steady myself and ended up grabbing a tree. I ended up pulling about 400 slivers from my hand. This slowed me considerably as my right hand resembled a porcupine on the palm which was a challenge as I am right handed. The gap widened between me and the group ahead of me. In the mud at the side of the trail there were several puma tracks that were about 6” in diameter, very comforting for someone alone in the jungle trying to catch up.

About this time Elvis comes up from behind with several others from our bus. What a good tour guide. He pointed all kinds of interesting things, bat caves, crystals, flowers etc. all of a sudden the walk became much more interesting and comfortable. When we caught up with the rest of the group there was no reason for all of the hurry. We had to wait for another cruise line to get in and go before we could even start. Once in the water we all followed Elvis’ directions about as well as a bunch of 4yr old. He tried to get us to go in lines of 6 and race for a while, well be did a bunch well and floated in blob. My light went out about halfway through the cave but that didn’t matter there were plenty of others. Even with the hike in that trip was well worth and I would do it again. That was one of the most amazing things I have ever done, the river was a good temp. the caves were awesome and the float down the river after to reach the trail back to the bus was fun and definitely not difficult. After changing we got back on the bus to head for lunch. Some people did not like the lunch it was simple and very ethnically regional. It was well seasoned black beans and rice (good), stewed chicken (very good), chocolate sauced bananas (fair), bread pudding (ok if you like it) and the best pineapple I think I have ever had. They also had a very charming gift shop, I think I bought all of their hand made ornaments to bring back to all of my staff. Very nice at 5 for a $4. All of the tours got off to a slow start so many of them did not have time to shop at the tourist city. Thanks to our very organized team we had about 30 min to get from where our bus dropped us off thought the market and to our dock. To be honest that was plenty of time. I was glad I had chosen the tour I had with the guide I had. The one I had planned on before the lecture did not have time to eat and barely made it back in time for the shuttle.

Thursday Dec. 12

Day at Sea.

Finished by book by the pool, there must be a better way to organize deck chairs. Had fun watching the Ice carving demonstration. WOW he is fast and good. The kids from the cruise had worked on a Christmas show with the dancers and vocalist from the production. Very cute. The cruise director reading a story to the kids was a bit over the top but not to campy. Dropped another $50 at the casino and had some very good shusi before dinner. Has left an extra tip for the steward and came back to two shade wearing critters instead of one. What a talent, they should sell a booklet on how to do that on the last day of the cruise.

Fri. Dec. 13 (I know Fri. the 13th we were tempting fate and we won)

Key West.
OK so this is where I want to retire. Took the train tour, good thing it was not more expensive than it was, as it was it was almost over priced. The shopping was wonderful. The shopping coordinator had really done his job and set up all kinds of specials to get you in the door. We did all of them and lived with the moto shop till you drop. We decided we wanted to eat a Sloppy Joes for lunch and we were willing to wait. We hovered at the door until someone finally left, I think it too 15 min or so. I got brain freeze from the rum runners punch and had the best chili dog I think I have ever had. It is a good thing no one yelled fire because there is no possible was to jam any more bodies in that place. While shopping I fell in love with a little emerald ring at Diamond International. I don’t often purchase jewelry on the spur of the moment but I loved this ring. When I got home I took the ring to a local jeweler I trust, Ferndale Jeweler in Fortuna and had her tell me if it was a good buy as the cruise line has a guarantee that if you are unhappy within a year for any reason they will refund all of your money no questions if the store was one of their approved ones. She took one look and said I had paid for the stone and the gold and promotional quality diamonds that were accenting were an extra. DI had sized it in less than an hour while were finishing our shopping. They had not stretcher the ring but had cut, added gold and polished it so you could not tell. But the band had not been thinned, all for less than $300.

Road the train back to the ship and had just enough time to get to the sports deck to watch as we pulled away. The sun streaks in the clouds were beautiful and the pictures we took do not do the view the artistic justice it deserved. The wind was brisk and very invigorating as we would our way through the channel and back out the sea.

Sat. Dec. 14
Back to Miami

We had been told there was no way we could make an 11:30 am flight so we had opted for the 9pm one. America West needs to add a flight in the mid day going back to Las Vegas. Any way we decided to do an everglade tour to kill time waiting for our flight time. This was recommended for those with flight times after 3pm. I am glad I took that trip. That was my first time in one of those big fan air boats and I will do it again. Educational and fun.

Sunday Dec. 15
Back to home and rain. Guess it can’t last forever.



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