Second Mate

Hometown: Des Moines Iowa
Joined: 12/21/2015
Helpful Votes

About martinassociate


martinassociate's Past Cruises

Norwegian Epic

December 2017 - Norwegian Epic to Caribbean - Western

Organized Confusion

This is my first time on NCL and I was impressed with the staff and overall service. I have heard some negative comments about some peoples interactions with Casino Staff and Customer service, but Not me.. Two notable interactions were the Cruise Critic meet & Greet. They had 7 staff members there, Snacks all held in a private area. Well done NCL! Our group did a Casino Slot Pull but the Casino staff wasn't much help. The other Area That was great was the Future cruise Desk. They give you back immediately $250 OBC if you buy 2@$250 deposits and you DON'T have to book a specific cruise immediately!

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Carnival Sunshine

December 2016 - Carnival Sunshine to Caribbean - Southern

Fun With the Sunshine Gang

You're going to get a "Debbie Downer" every now and then as they want to sound important and be noticed , but I am DEFINITELY on the other end of the spectrum. This was my 8th Carnival Cruise and by far the best. I was group administrator for "The Carnival Sunshine Gang" a group of cruisers, some first timers and some very well seasoned Diamond and Platinum members of the VIFP program. The majority of us had never met before. Our Pre-cruise party at Fish Lips at Port Canaveral was attended by a few but consider going there for happy hour if you arrive a day early. You'll most likely get to see a few ships leaving port as it's right on the canal leading out to the Atlantic.  Found a great inexpensive Motel only about 2 miles away from our off site parking but its up to you as many choose to stay at a hotel that offers parking and shuttles. Got to the port at about 11 and was able to zip thru check-in as I had Faster to the Fun. Being able to drop off our carry-ons right away is also a plus. The new prices are higher but if you have to use guest services onboard you get the express line which is Always shorter. Well worth the additional cost. IMHO.  The Dining service was excellent but the jury is still out on the American Table Menu. I could care less if we had tablecloths or not but the entre's leave a bit . Their Appetizers are top notch and many of us just ordered 2 or 3 and some even skipped or ordered the Flat Iron Steak or upgraded for the $20 for the steakhouse entre's. We had 2 elegant nights on this cruise as it was an 8 day do we got some great entre's those nights and if you like Lobster order 2 as they're small or order 1 and the prime rib. They do a great job on deserts and one couple ordered the Banana Splits off the kids menu!  Their Specialty restaurants are off the chart excellent. When you see the Cruise Director and hotel director having dinner at them you know its good. Steakhouse,Sushi Bar, Ji Ji's Asian Kitchen and Cucina del Capitano well worth the prices. The Cucina has some great pictures of all the various Carnival Captains, Godmothers and CCL Presidents and ships thru the years. Fun to look at. Oh That's where they hid the Omlette Station and the in the morning and the Mongolian Wok at lunch.  What Can't I say about Our Cruise Director Chris "The Flying Scotsman" Williams. More energy and talent than I've seen in ALL of my cruises so far. His events in the Atrium bar and on TOP of the bar were FUN. Of course we had Christmas Caroiling and the "Ugly Christmas Sweater" Contest ( one of our sunshine gang came in 2nd) Chris was Very Approachable and made himself available all the time. Trent our Entertainment director has taken over some of the CD's responsibilities and that has been a big help.  Tijana Cavic our Guest Services manager and Our Event Planning Co-ordinator were IMMENSELY Helpful in setting up our "Sunshine Gang" Meet & Greet immediately after our Cruise Critic's meet & Greet. We had the Hotel director, the Cruise Director and the entertainment director there for both. had a 50-50 drawing for "Cruisin for St Jude" and raised $155.00. John Heald and the Hotel Director gave us plenty of "S.W.A.G." to give away as well. The Piano bar was a small but great venue for the 50 of us who showed up.  Shore excursions in Aruba and Bonaire I got from Trip advisor and saved a bunch of $$. Having been to Grand Turk our group opted to head to Jacks Shack up the beach from Margaritaville about a mile. Great Conch Fritters and Jerk Chicken! Watching Topher their dog dig in the sand was a hoot and he loved being held.  Debarcation as always is tough and crowded but if you get Faster to the fun you get off BEFORE Self debarcation and it's less crowded. Port Canaveral is a tough port for shuttles and busses in and out but have patience.  All in all a great time was had by our whole group, so ignore the naysayers and "Debbie Downers" 

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Carnival Ecstasy

December 2015 - Carnival Ecstasy to Caribbean - Western

Good Value for the money

First of f let me say that I sometimes wonder what cruise some of these reviewers have been on. One review positive 4-5 stars and one review 1 star for the same cruise! Knowing that the Ecstasy is an older ship gave me pause, and you could see the age in her but it was well maintained by the ships staff.  Embarkation was flawless as I purchased Faster to the Fun so I got on early (12:00) and was able to place my carry on's in my room right away and visit the guest services in the priority line to place my gift cards on my sign & sail account. After that I had plenty of time to explore the ship and have lunch. I cruise as a single and I would like to see them have something for us. I was able to be placed at a group table 2 nights in the AnyTime dining room, but it would be nice if they had a meet & greet in one of the lounges as well. I'm sure had I gone to the nightclub that wouldn't have been an issue but I found it was mostly for the 20-40 age group. My roll call was devoid of fellow cruisers ( only 4 ) probably due to the fact that it was a short cruise.  The food was as expected in both the MDR and the Lido. The Mongolian Wok for lunch was very popular as was the omelette station for breakfast so arrive early to avoid the long lines. The Maitre'd in the MDR was very personable as were all of his staff. If you want the most exceptional dining experience I suggest trying the Chef's Table ($75pp). It is very limited in seating ( only 14 guests) but the 8 course (with wine) was awesome. Champagne & appetizers start you off along with a tour of the galley. It will give you a better appreciation of how volume meals can be prepared and not lack in quality. You also get to see how their signature warm chocolate melting cake is prepared ( they even give you the recipe) The whole experience lasts around 3 1/2 hours.  I had been to both Key West & Cozumel before. I rented a 7 speed bike and did my own tour of Key West. We were only in port till 1:00 so it wasn't feasible to do much. The same went for Cozumel as we arrived in port late and the longer excursions couldn't be made. Mr. Sancho's closes at 5 so people who went and got there at 2:30 were refunded their money.  Debarcation was a little slow due to customs port clearance. I parked ar Premier Cruise Parking and had little wait time after leaving the building for our van. Total cost was only $35 ( including the shuttle both ways) for the 5 days I parked there. It was valet parking and they call in your key tag number prior to leaving the port so your car is waiting up fron for you when you arrive!  Overall a good value for the money 

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Carnival Splendor

November 2014 - Carnival Splendor to Caribbean - Western

Carnival Freedom

January 2014 - Carnival Freedom to Caribbean - Western

Carnival Victory

October 2013 - Carnival Victory to Caribbean - Western

Carnival Liberty

November 2012 - Carnival Liberty to Caribbean - Eastern

Carnival Triumph

November 2003 - Carnival Triumph to Caribbean - Eastern


January 1992 - Carnivale to Caribbean - Bahamas

martinassociate's Tips

Falmouth, Jamaica - Long 1 1/4 hour drive to Dunns River Falls and the Jamaican Bobsled run but it was fun
Nassau, Bahamas - Been here before and just got off the ship to visit the shops and go to catholic mass at St Francis Xavier ( take a cab but not one right at the port as they wanted $15 I walked a ways and found one for $3/pp it's up a hill!) Sunday mass at 8:30 is one with their Choir and they're great!
Port Canaveral, Florida - It's a busy port but they are improving. You have to take the time to visit the Kennedy Space Center if driving. It costs $10 for parking and $50pp for entry but well worth it.
Norwegian Epic Norwegian Epic - Reserve your dining preferences as soon as they come available online. Some dining venues you could just walk up and be on a waitlist but I don't recommend it. I did just walk up to the Comedy Club on Standby and got right in. Same way with The broadway show.
Oranjestad, Aruba - Sonny Binns tours thru Trip Advisor the best and a small van as opposed to the huge busses.
Grand Turk Island - Jacks Shack for sure down the beach at the end at the left as you leave the cruise port shops.
Carnival Sunshine Carnival Sunshine - Book a 4J on the Lobby Deck it's close to the elevators and atrium bar. Get FTTF (Faster To The Fun) if you need to go to the Service desk often.
Key West, Florida - If you've been here before rent a multi speed bike and you can tour where you want. As it's a short day in port ( we left at 1:00 ) you can't do much
Cozumel, Mexico - Been there but if you get in to port late the excursions aren't worth the time We got in at 2:00 and Mr sanchos beach closed at 5
Carnival Ecstasy Carnival Ecstasy - The serenity deck at the aft of the ship was great and if you got there early on a sea day you could get a good lounger and the bar service was always coming by. If not it was just one deck up. The Punchliner comedy club was a definite hit if you like adult Comedy I went to BOTH adult shows.

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received a helpful vote on their Norwegian Epic cruise review - Organized Confusion

received a helpful vote on their Norwegian Epic cruise review - Organized Confusion

shared a quick tip for Norwegian Epic"Reserve your dining preferences as soon as they come available online. Some dining venues you could just walk up and be on a waitlist but I don't recommend it. I did just walk up to the Comedy Club on Standby and got right in. Same way with The broadway show."

added Dec 2, 2017 cruise on Norwegian Epic to their profile.

reviewed their Caribbean - Western cruise on Norwegian Epic and gave it 4.6 stars!

received a helpful vote on their Carnival Ecstasy cruise review - Good Value for the money

received a helpful vote on their Carnival Ecstasy cruise review - Good Value for the money

shared a quick tip for Carnival Sunshine"Book a 4J on the Lobby Deck it's close to the elevators and atrium bar.
Get FTTF (Faster To The Fun) if you need to go to the Service desk often.

added Dec 10, 2016 cruise on Carnival Sunshine to their profile.

reviewed their Caribbean - Southern cruise on Carnival Sunshine and gave it 5 stars!