All Aboard…The Carnival Ecstasy Cruise


Dearest Readers:

If you are a follower of this blog, you will recognize I haven’t written much since early May of this year. When my husband was so weak and ill, I could not function, nor could I write. Every time I attempted to write, I hit the delete key. Life was too demanding and frightening for me. My husband needed me in ways I never dreamed. Suddenly, I found myself feeling trapped in a dark and lonely abyss. Walking in the familiar shoes of caregiving, my entire life focused on my husband and his recovery. Friends offered to help, although I did not know what they could do. Once, I told a friend on the phone she could listen to me and my tears. She agreed. Fortunately, our life is improving. I give all the credit to God, all the prayers He answered and my faith.

arthur-ravenel-jr-bridge

Arthur Ravenel, Jr. Bridge – Charleston, SC

 

Cruising on the Carnival Ecstasy

On September 3 – September 8, 2016, we cruised on the Carnival Ecstasy, cruising from Charleston, SC to Half Moon Cay, Nassau, Bahamas and back to Charleston. The cruise was booked over a year ago, and it was a non-refundable “free cruise” that cost us $1078.08, to be exact! Trust me, this “free cruise” had nothing to do with free, and from now on, when we receive invitations to attend a time share dinner where we could ‘win a free cruise’ we will not go. I was told by many people on the cruise they did not pay $1000. Lesson learned!

Culinary Skills Disappointing

While on the cruise, I sat around, watching people, making notes. The only idea I had was about the culinary skills on the ship. The food was so disappointing, my mind drifted back to when I worked at a local culinary college. So you see, I’m not a critic about the food, but I am a writer, and I have quite a few culinary skills, so I do know how good food, especially gourmet cuisine is supposed to tantalize the taste buds and taste. My taste buds were not tempted. The food presentations needed better displays. Seasonings. Well, maybe I’ll keep that opinion to myself. On second thought, let’s just say, the food needed seasonings, especially rosemary, garlic, and the fish should have orange marmalade or other sauces that would complement fish.

My first night, I ordered salmon. Big mistake!

salmon

The only taste in my mouth was a harsh fishy taste. No sauce. No seasonings, only bland. Ugh! The second night at dinner, I ordered mahi-mahi. Certainly, with that delicious fish, my taste buds will be fulfilled. Hardly. The mahi-mahi was a bit dry and lacking any seasonings, spices, or sauces. I ate about three bites. Although I am still doing Weight Watchers, I decided to order a dessert. The chocolate molten cake with ice cream was delicious, so I decided maybe this would be ‘dessert cruise!’

untitled

 

Although I jotted notes, I could not find story materials to write about until Rina Patel of New York apparently jumped from the 11th deck of Carnival Ecstasy in the dark of early morning. Why did she jump, leaving the family, a young child and a husband behind? Only Rina and those who were witnesses might possibly know the answer to this question. I’ve written about the experience of that early morning twice, so this post will not be about someone ending her life on a cruise ship. I still have difficulty with this when I find myself drifting away to those events. I’ve never been on a cruise ship where a passenger goes overboard. I have to compliment how the crew on Carnival Ecstasy handled the situation. Totally professional and caring.

“Passenger Overboard”

However, when my friends heard about someone missing from the Carnival Ecstasy, they admitted to me their first reaction was, “Oh no. Did Barbie actually throw Phil overboard? I thought she was joking!”

I have to admit, I did state that comment as a joke when we decided to go on the cruise. I mentioned to Phil that if he didn’t give me a bit of space, he might find himself overboard. Trust me. I would never harm my husband. Domestic violence of any type is not my style. Thank God I did not joke about that on the cruise. Can you imagine? Joking about going overboard? It isn’t a funny situation. Tragic. Shocking. Unbelievable. When I heard the announcement, I prayed the person would be found. When I watched the rescue boat searching for the passenger, I prayed he or she would be found. At that time, none of us knew if the passenger was male or female; nevertheless, when guest services continued paging “Rina Patel,” as a writer, I was able to determine Rina Patel must be the missing, overboard passenger. Truly a horrible way to change the mood on a cruise ship. Everyone was a bit gloomy while we all prayed the passenger would be found.

Sorry, I promised not to write about the missing passenger, didn’t I? I must stop and post this section of my epistle for today. Next topic:

Day One – And We’re Off!

Stay Tuned!

Carnival Fantasy — Cruising Along On A Rocking Ship!


Hello Readers, and Carnival Fantasy:

Yesterday, I reported briefly about the first bitterly cold day of our cruise. Although it was cold, Phil and I could not check into our room for a bit, so we dragged laptops, cameras and other items around with us. We chose to eat at the Mongolian Wok and Off the Grill where food was plenty along the buffet lines. I was impressed with how clean the buffet area was, choosing to do my best to eat healthy via the Mongolian Wok. After lunch we continued our journey to find our friends and tour the ship. Climbing onto the next level, I found the jogging and walking track and mini-golf.

Carnival Fantasy would not depart until 4pm, so we walked around in hopes to stay warm. Of course my husband is always hot natured so he wasn’t cold. We chose to locate our cabin so we could drop off the personal items we were carrying. Trust me, next time we will not pack laptops. Never did we use them, along with cell phones! This was a nice way to ‘unplug’ for a bit.

I changed from boots to my ShapeUps, deciding to find the walking and jogging track. Believe me, it was cold there. The wind rushed thru my hair, freezing my ears, but I was determined to get a few laps in. Meanwhile, Phil is still trying to find our friends — on a cruise ship loaded with guests, staff and a few children.

After my brutally cold walk, Phil continued leaving voice mails to locate our friends. I heard someone whistling in the distance, looked up and finally — our friends approached!

We were scheduled for early dinner at the Jubilee Dining Room. Jubilee Dining Room resembled an upscale restaurant, with the wait staff dressed in black and white, intimate lighting and soft music. While the ship rocked back and forth, ever so relaxing, I ordered chicken breast — the driest chicken breast I have ever eaten. If memory is correct, Phil ordered a steak or maybe it was prime rib. Nevertheless, it was small. When I saw the prime rib, I could not believe my eyes…. The prime rib was the thinnest prime rib I have ever seen – reminding me of a package of thin deli meat.

On the menu, there was a box with several tempting entrees that I do not recall now. Lesson and note to myself – carry your journal everywhere, even when on a vacation. What I do recall is the entrees listed within the box were an additional $20.00!

As a food and travel writer, I know quite a bit about culinary cuisine. The baked potato our friends ordered was overcooked and dry. Carnival Fantasy could do a much better job with their dinner presentations along with serving sizes and culinary skills! The wait staff was amazing. Never did I have to request a refill of water or decaf coffee. I splurged on the chocolate molten cake, served in a small ramekin dish with vanilla ice cream. It was delicious!

After dinner, we relaxed a bit and went to the Cat’s Lounge. Some critics have reported the Cat Lounge is a smoking lounge. Trust me, no one ever smoked in the lounge while we were there. Nor did I smell the dreadful tobacco aroma in the lounge! As the ship continued to rock back and forth, like a slow-moving swing or rocking chair, we relaxed, enjoying the music of most of the karaoke singers. Of course, I sang although on this night we had a new karaoke DJ who catered to one particular singer I reported about yesterday in my blog post. This singer sang four songs before I was able to sing a second song. And in case you were wondering what I drink before finding the courage to sing??? ‘Water with lots of lemon!’ I am one of the rare animals who loves to hop on a stage and take it over!

What songs did I sing? My signature songs — of course:

At Last, Etta James version
Georgia On My Mind, Ray Charles version
Unchained Melody, Righteous Brothers

After three songs, I was ready to call it a night, while the ship continued rocking and relaxing me. I do believe this is the most I have relaxed in a long — LONG TIME!

Carnival Fantasy — I hope you change a few things on my next cruise — I am more than certain we will cruise on the Carnival Fantasy again. When? That’s my little secret!

Bon Voyage!

Meeting the Chefs…


As a writer, I targeted this story to many publications, only to discover the restaurant is no longer open for business. Hope you enjoy the read!

MEET THE CHEFS – TRACY ADLER, OWNER – CAFÉ ON THE SQUARE

Café on the Square, Asheville, NC

Located at One Biltmore Avenue in downtown Asheville, Café on the Square offers appetizing American food in a non-smoking atmosphere. The restaurant opened in 1989, targeting casual, fine dining customers. Artwork, provided by local artists, is on display, complimenting the interior decoration and theme of the restaurant. The lighting is soft. The décor is pleasing to the eye. Tables and chairs are plush and comfortable. Café on the Square is just the place to have a pleasant family lunch or dinner.

Owner, Tracy Adler offers something unique at Café on the Square. After the birth of her second child, Tracy discovered a unique way to snack by using a small four-ounce bowl for snacking purposes, choosing to name the bowl a “Yum Yum Dish.” Promoted on the web site, http://www.yumyumdish.com, the set of four dishes are colorful and safe to use in the microwave, or dishwasher. The Yum yum dishes are great for snacking and dieting since the dishes will only hold four ounces of snacks. Tracy has a passion for children and contributes a portion of the sales from Yum yum dishes to Louie’s Kids, a non-profit organization providing obese children from low-income families an opportunity to attend camps to help them lose weight.

The menu at Café on the Square contains a variety of tempting entrees and appetizers including Cajun Eggplant with Andouille Sausage, Encrusted Chicken with Whiskey Dijon Glaze; Sesame Seared Tuna with Wasabi Vinaigrette, Mountain Rainbow Trout, and a Spinach and Artichoke Au Gratin dip appetizer, served in a Yum Yum dish you get to keep.

According to reliable sources Cafe on the Square is no longer open for business; however, the website, http://www.yumyumdish.com is still available. Visit the website today and purchase the yum yum dishes. They are the perfect size for tasty desserts and snacks.

Image

Happy Thanksgiving


The turkey is ready, awaiting the time to brine and prepare for a Thanksgiving feast. The menu is planned with delicious roast turkey, dressing, fresh cranberry sauce, potatoes, cornbread dressing — or perhaps, oyster dressing. Whatever you as the cook prefer, along with your guests.

Thursday, November 24, 2011 is the day of Thanksgiving for the United States of America. Since 2001, America has learned to appreciate and give thanks during a time of war. Many of our family members will be away from us, and I am certain it is difficult. If that is the scenario in your family, please be thankful for SKYPE, e-mail, cell phones and the ability to surf the Internet to speak with your loved one. Never is it easy to miss a loved one during this special time of Thanks, but many of us are still missing those we have lost, due to death.

As a writer, I would like to wish all of you a Happy Thanksgiving.  May you spend time enjoying your loved ones. May your turkey and all of the trimmings help you to appreciate the life we have, along with our freedom. If you are a soldier, away from home, reading this, I say a special Thank You to all of you.

Our family will spend Thanksgiving with dear friends, and our precious adopted rescue animals. Let us all be thankful for the life we have, the friends and family we share, and for the gift of celebration with our family and friends. Happy Thanksgiving. Enjoy all of the festivities and please remember to say a prayer to God for all that He has given to us, this day — and every day. Have a great Turkey Day!!!