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Our Carnival Pride Repo Journeys Cruise (with pics) - 2/26/17

Jamman

Carnival Specialist
Community Sponsor
#1
Ahoy there mates! In case you don’t know me, my name is Jeff “Jamman54” Maskall, and I am a cruise addict. My wife Patti and I just returned from one of our favorite cruises on board our favorite ship, the Carnival Pride. This was a 14 day Journeys repositioning cruise from Tampa to Baltimore, with plenty of fun in between. Here is where we went…..



This will be a tale of three all-inclusive beach days, (Cozumel, Aruba, & St. Maarten), a partial Panama Canal transit, (awesome!), two countries we have never visited before, (Costa Rica & Bonaire), and seven, yes count them, seven glorious sea days!

Please be patient as this review will take some time to complete. Patti and I, well mostly Patti, took nearly 4,000 photos during our journey. Also, I have tons of items to scan in, including all of the Fun times. For the first time ever I brought along my laptop, and we were glad we did. Every day, I was able to download photos from the camera and work on them, deleting bad ones, resizing, cropping, etc. That will save a lot of time moving forward, but I still have to upload our finished pictures to our photo hosting site as the ship internet, even the Premium Package, was just too slow to accomplish this.

Taking this cruise would not have been possible if Patti hadn’t retired last year. Once she did we immediately booked the Sunshine 7 Day Canada cruise, then this one. First, we had to figure out the logistics of leaving from Tampa, and returning to Baltimore. Here is what we decided to do. We would drive down to Baltimore four days prior to the cruise, and stay at the Best Western in Elkridge for one night. We wanted to build in some extra days in case the dreaded “S” word camein to play. Thankfully, it didn’t. The Best Western has a “Park and Cruise”package which allows you to park free for the duration of your cruise, so we got 17 days of free parking. The next morning we flew to Tampa, and stayed at the Bay Harbor Hotel for the three nights prior to the cruise. Once the cruise was over, the shuttle from the Best Western picked us up and took us back to the hotel, where we got our van, then drove back home to New Jersey. Easypeasy!

We will be covering our “Journey” from driveway to driveway, including our time in Baltimore and Tampa. I know that some don’t want to see the pre-cruise stuff, and I can appreciate that, so all I can say is please check back in a few days to see if I have started the cruise itself. Thanks again for your patience.

Our roll call on Cruise Critic had to be one of the largest I have ever seen, and I understand that the one on FB was huge as well, (we are not FB people). We joined the roll call about a year out, and it was very active. Let me just say that we met many wonderful people at the hotel and aboard the ship. It was great to meet each and every one of you! Hard to believe though, that there were a lot of roll call members we didn’t get a chance to meet. Hopefully we’ll meet some time aboard another ship in the near future. I invite anyone who was on this cruise with us, whether we met or not, to post their thoughts and comments as this review moves forward. There is no such thing as “hijacking” any of our reviews. We welcome your opinions even if they are contrary to ours. We want this review to be fun and helpful to all that read it!

I think that just about covers all the pre-review mumbo jumbo, so grab yourself your favorite DOD and enjoy the ride. We are glad to have you aboard with us!!!

Every“Journey” has a beginning, so here we are preparing to leave for Baltimore. Can’t you see the anticipation in our faces!





Here I am driving down the New Jersey Turnpike……



We head across the Delaware Memorial Bridge and out of New Jersey…..



Any drive to Baltimore must include a stop at Maryland House! Lol…..



To be continued…..
 

Jamman

Carnival Specialist
Community Sponsor
#2
After a three hour drive, we arrived at the Best Western in Elkridge, Maryland…..


One of the Best Western shuttle buses…..



Here is the Stained Glass Pub. It’s right across the parking lot if you want a close place to eat…..



Check in was very easy, and we arranged for our shuttle to the airport the next morning. We were given a room # 103 on the first floor. Here are some pictures of our room which we found nice and cozy…….







To be continued……
 

Jamman

Carnival Specialist
Community Sponsor
#3
Here are a couple more of our room pictures…..





Patti caught me utilizing the free wi-fi…..



The vending and ice machines were nearby…..



Here are a couple views of the breakfast area. They have an awesome free breakfast here from 6am to 10am, but since we had a 6am flight we didn’t get a chance to eat breakfast here this time…..





To be continued…….
 

Jamman

Carnival Specialist
Community Sponsor
#4
Here are some views of the lobby area…..







The internet station…….



While I was on the computer, Patti hopped in the van and went to check out a nearby mall. When she returned, we drove a mile or so down to road to a restaurant called Timbuktu, which is famous for their crab cakes. I had the crab cocktail, which was really good, and the broiled scallops. Patti chose to just have a salad and the grilled salmon. The meal was pricy even by our New Jersey / New York standards, but the food was all very good. Back to the hotel, and early to bed, as we have to get up very early tomorrow.

To be continued……
 

Jamman

Carnival Specialist
Community Sponsor
#5
Thursday, February23rd - Baltimore to Tampa (via Atlanta).

We were up at 2:30am. We would be on the 4:00am shuttle to BWI to catch our first of two Delta flights at 6:00am. We were the only two persons on the shuttle. We arrived at the Delta terminal and were able to check our bags curbside. We are always pre-checked, which means we don’t have to take off our shoes, belts, and jackets which is great, but since my knee replacement seven years ago, I set off all the alarms. No big deal as I get pulled aside and wanded by Mr.Personality, who seems to be annoyed that he had to walk ten feet to do so!

That task done,we now get to walk to the farthest gate possible, in order to catch our first flight which will take us to Atlanta. Patti has purchased Delta Comfort seats on both flights so that we have some extra leg room, and receive free drinks and snacks. Our flight departs right on time, and soon we are leaving Baltimore behind…..





The screen says we are on our way to Atlanta……



I have my free beer and a game to keep me occupied…..





The sun has risen as we make our way to Atlanta…..



To be continued…..
 

Jamman

Carnival Specialist
Community Sponsor
#6
We arrived in Atlanta at 7:40am a full 25 minutes ahead of schedule. Our next flight isn’t until 9:30am, so we have plenty of time. That’s a good thing, since our Arrival gate (B4), and Departure gate (A3), couldn’t have been farther apart! It was along walk to the beginning of Terminal “B”, a train ride over to Terminal “A”, and then a long walk to our gate. Our original itinerary when we booked a year in advance only had us with a 25 minute layover, which would not have worked.Thankfully, in the year since we booked that time grew to an hour and a half.

It turns out that our flight would be delayed about 15 minutes because the flight crew assigned to our flight was arriving on a flight that was coming into Terminal “B”,and they would have to make the same trek that we did. How ironic!

Soon we were on board and on our way to Tampa. Patti is happy that this part of our journey is almost over….



Patti has her wine, and I have my beer to help pass the time. It’s only an hour flight…..





Looking out the window we can see we are approaching Tampa…..





We have arrived in Tampa!!!



To be continued…..
 

Jamman

Carnival Specialist
Community Sponsor
#7
Once off the plane we made our way to baggage claim, claimed our bags, and then made a call to the Bay Harbor Hotel to have their shuttle pick us up.

While we are waiting for the shuttle to arrive, now would be a good time to explain why we are staying at the Bay Harbor Hotel. Our roll call leader gingerma had negotiated a very good group rate with the hotel, and I mean a VERY GOOD group rate! It saved us a good amount of money. She was responsible for 163 rooms being booked at this hotel. She also arranged for shuttles to get over 200 people to the pier on Sunday. This was a tremendous amount of work for her to take on, so THANK YOU gingerma!!!! On top of that, she is such a lovely, charming lady. Here are Ginger and I in the hotel lobby…..



Now I just want to say right up front, that any negative comments made by me or any other posters concerning the hotel and / or shuttle service, have NOTHING to do with gingerma, and EVERYTHING to do with the hotel and the shuttle providers. I just wanted to make that point perfectly clear in advance.

The shuttle arrived in about 20 minutes, and along with several other people we arrived at the Bay Harbor Hotel just before noon…..





Though we had requested early check-in, our room was not yet ready. It was here that we met our first roll call members, KrusinKris and her husband Ken. They had also requested early check-in, but their room also was not ready. The girl behind the desk suggested that we go have lunch and return at 1:30. No problem, so we made our way to the Beach Bar & Grill……



They had seating both inside and outside, but we chose to sit inside…….



Here I am having my first beer in Tampa…..



To be continued……
 

Jamman

Carnival Specialist
Community Sponsor
#8
Here we are at lunch……



We had a very nice lunch with great service. Since we had a little time to kill, Patti went around taking some shots of the Bay side of the hotel…..









To be continued……
 

Jamman

Carnival Specialist
Community Sponsor
#9
We went back to the front desk at 1:30 and asked the guy manning the desk if our room was ready yet. He rudely said “check-in time is 3:00pm!” When I explained to him that we had requested early check-in, and that we were told to come back at 1:30, he became even ruder. “Check-in time is 3:00pm Sir”. Okay, so we took a seat in the lobby to wait. There were quite a few people there in the same situation as us.

What made it even more frustrating was watching people getting off the shuttle, walking up to the desk, and getting their rooms. I even saw a guy with no reservation walk up to the desk and get a room. KrusinKris and Ken had gotten their room. What’s going on?

Then I noticed that those people that were waiting with us still had their luggage on luggage carts. We were told we had to take our luggage off our cart and store them in a room behind the front desk when we went to lunch. So now, when we finally do get a room, there will be no luggage carts available!

Magically at 3:00pm all rooms were ready. Of course there was now a huge line of people waiting to check-in, but fortunately we were up front. Their check-in process was extremely slow, taking a good 10 to 15 minutes for each room. Finally with room keys in hand, it took another 10 minutes for someone to get our luggage out of the back room.

Since there were no luggage carts available, we had to drag our luggage around the corner to the elevators. We got on an empty elevator and pushed the button for the 6th floor. These elevators were real slow. It seemed to take forever for us to reach our destination. We reached the 6th floor, the doors “dinged”, but did not open. Patti pushed the “open door” button several times, nothing. She pushed the “6” button several times, nothing. It seems like we are stuck in the elevator! Patti thought we should try to go back down, so she pushed the “5” button. The doors opened. Needless to say, this elevator would be out of service for the next day and a half. Not good, since now there was only one elevator to service the entire hotel!

We were in Room 607 on the City Side. The room was functional, but outdated. I understand that they are currently updating rooms, but ours was not…..









The drain in our bathroom sink would back up if you ran the water for more than 5 seconds. Several calls to the Front Desk resulted in nothing being done for the three days that we stayed there. Hey, send up a bottle of Drano and I’ll pour it in myself!



We were very tired since we were up at 2:30 this morning, so we napped until it was time to go to dinner. We decided to just go to the Beach Bar & Grill again. We went outside just in time to catch this beautiful sunset over the Bay…..



To be continued……
 

Jamman

Carnival Specialist
Community Sponsor
#10
Here are a couple more sunset pictures…….





We had a great dinner. Here we are with drinks in hand toasting the start of a great vacation……..





Afterwards, we just went upstairs and crashed. Tomorrow, we will explore Tampa by land and sea.

To be continued……
 

Jamman

Carnival Specialist
Community Sponsor
#11
Friday, February 24th - Tampa, Florida

One of the things that the Bay Harbor Hotel does right is to allow the shuttle to take you anywhere within a 3 mile radius. Walgreen’s is very popular destination to pick up those last minute things you need before your cruise. The nearby International Mall is also very popular. Patti had to jettison a few items from our luggage to make weight for flying, so now she needed to replace those items. Here we are waiting for the shuttle……



Along with our new cruise friends KrusinKris and Ken, we made the trip over to Walgreen’s. $125 later we called for the shuttle to pick us up, and they were there within 10 minutes.

Once back at the hotel, we had the front desk call us a cab. Patti and I wanted to go explore the Channel District, and since that was about 10 miles away, the shuttle couldn’t take us there. The cab came quickly and after a harrowing 15 minute drive, we were there. The cab fare was $27 plus tip.



We had done a little research and two of the things we wanted to do today was ride the streetcars and water taxis. First up for us was to ride the streetcars. They run back and forth from downtown Tampa to Ybor City, and you can hop off and hop on at any of the stops. The cost was $5/pp for an all day pass. What a bargain!



They run about every 20 to 30 minutes. Here comes our streetcar now……



The inside of our streetcar…….



Our reflection as we pass a storefront…..



To be continued……
 

Jamman

Carnival Specialist
Community Sponsor
#12
Here are Patti and I on our streetcar…..





We are passing the Amalie Arena, the home of the Tampa Bay Lightning…..





We are traveling by the Florida Aquarium…..



We have stopped to let this oncoming streetcar pass us…..



To be continued……
 

Jamman

Carnival Specialist
Community Sponsor
#13
HAL’s Oosterdam is docked at Terminal 3. That is where we will be sailing from on Sunday…..





Passing the car barn where the streetcars live…..



We have made it to Ybor City……







To be continued…..
 

Jamman

Carnival Specialist
Community Sponsor
#14
We had lunch at the Tampa Bay Brewing Company in Ybor City……





After lunch we boarded the next streetcar and rode it all the way back down to the Tampa Convention Center. At the Marina there, we would be able to board a water taxi……



The cost for the water taxi was $18/pp for an all day pass. Again, you could hop off and hop on at any of about 15 stops. The water taxis ran every hour and a half, which was the time it took to complete the loop. Here are a couple of idle water taxis……





Patti really wanted to ride on Pirate Pat, but this was our water taxi…..



To be continued…….
 

Jamman

Carnival Specialist
Community Sponsor
#15
It was a beautiful late afternoon to be in the waters around Tampa. We will share our views from on the water over the next several pages with you. Enjoy!













To be continued……
 

Jamman

Carnival Specialist
Community Sponsor
#20
We have almost completed the route…….







We will be getting off near the Amalie Arena and just a short walk to the Channel District…..



Patti wants to check out some of the shops so I head into Hooters for a cold one….



Patti told me that most of the shops here were closed. Not for the day, but forever!



Patti met me at the bar in Hooters, and then we called a cab to take us back to the hotel. It took a lot longer to get back because of traffic, but once back we had dinner at the Beach Bar & Grill, and then called it a night. Tomorrow would be our last full day in Tampa before the cruise!

To be continued……