Friday, February 13, 2015

Oh, Island in the Sun: Breeze-ing Back to the Southern Caribbean (Part Ten)

Despite all intentions to wake up early and have a full last day onboard the Breeze and after a late bedtime,  we woke up hours after we intended to. Fully rested, but well into the morning. But the sun was shining bright and we had the rest of the day to enjoy it.

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We discussed our breakfast options and while Mom wanted to go to the dining room for brunch (she really enjoyed the lox platter the day before), Stephanie and I just wanted something quick and not so heavy. And with some uncertainty over whether or not the Blue Iguana would be open on debarkation morning, we headed up to enjoy those breakfast arepas one more time.

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Apparently, we weren’t the only ones starting our day late because we found some lounge chairs in the aft pretty quickly and we settled in for a few hours of sun time.

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Last day means Chocolate Extravaganza, but even more appealing than everything chocolate was some burrito!tacos. Stephanie raved over the watermelon and jicama salsa, and I really enjoyed the black bean and corn salsa, but with over a dozen toppings and salsas to choose from, you really can’t go wrong.

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If you’ve never been on a Carnival cruise, on the last day of the cruise, instead of the Comfort Kitchen fare, they set up a buffet of chocolate confections and cakes. It’s rich, decadent and entirely overwhelming. This year, we noticed the addition of fudge cut to order and it was the highlight of the event.

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We headed back to the room to shower and start packing and found our debarkation information and luggage tags. In a heart shaped towel. Kind of like a “Enjoy your last day because here’s a reminder you won’t be here tomorrow! XOXO, Carnival.”

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While Mom and Stephanie packed, I did everything I could do to…not pack. I sat on the balcony. I watched Judge Judy. I slathered myself in aloe (because every time a burn healed, a new one appeared the next time I found myself under any sun). I took a walk along the sports deck. I kept as much distance I could between me and my suitcase. Out of sight, out of mind, right? If I didn’t see my luggage, I didn’t have to remember that in less than 48 hours, I’d already be back at work.

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Up on the sports deck, tucked away in a corner, there is a hot dog stand that doesn’t get much attention but undoubtedly has the best view of any hot dog stand I’ve ever seen.

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My skills of perfect procrastination timing had me back at the room just in time for us to enjoy one of our favorite at-sea activities: tea time!

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If you’re not looking out for tea time, it’s easy to miss it. It’s listed in the Fun Times amongst a couple dozen other activities and it’s held around 3:30 pm on sea days. Servers make the rounds passing out tea sandwiches and sweets, refilling tin teapots and helping cruisers select which tea to sip on (I’m partial to the chamomile). They used to have live music, but that went by the wayside a few years back. We enjoyed the Parisian music they were playing in the dining room – not as good as live music but a welcome change of pace from the usual Yianni tunes.

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We made a few rounds through the Fun Shops before Mom and Stephanie caught on to my dragging my feet on packing and dragged me back to the room.

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Our room steward stopped by to personally deliver my boozy purchases from Curacao and in a stroke of perfect timing, I finished packing just in time to head out to watch the sunset.

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We had originally made early dinner reservations and after seeing bits and rays of a gorgeous sunset through the dining room windows the day before, we pushed our reservation back in the hopes of catching something spectacular. And we did. As the ship forged north towards Miami, we stood out on the Lanai and watch the sun disappear into the horizon over the coast of Cuba.

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Our timing was just right and just as the last bits of light disappeared into the horizon, we had to head up to our dinner reservation at Cucina del Capitano.

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We wanted to end the cruise the way we began it: with good food and better service in a warm and welcoming environment. We found ourselves fascinated with the pictures of Carnival ship captains, both current and former, as we dove into a carafe of wine and a bread plank that would rival the bread course at any Italian restaurant we’ve ever been to.

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The fare at Cucina is best categorized as comfort Italian, and each course is masterfully executed. We pitted many of the items we ordered against the same items ordered in the main dining room and the flavors and textures these chef’s cultivate are levels ahead of their dining room counterparts. We enjoyed everything we tasted and at $15 per person, it was a steal.

Insalata Caprese
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Nonna’s Meatballs
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Il Capitano’s Signature Arancini
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Pollo Parmigiania della Cucina and Spaghetti with Captain’s Tomato Sauce
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Brasato al Barolo and Rosemary Potatoes
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Spaghetti Carbonara
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Broccoli with Peperonata
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Magic Tiramisu
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Sicilian Cannoli
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Crostada di Mele Coppetta
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After such a heavy meal, we had to walk it off so we didn’t end up walking into a nap. And by we, I mean me because my narcoleptic tendencies and affinity for naps didn’t seem to phase anyone. We went for a walk so I wouldn’t fall asleep…again.

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We ultimately headed back to the room to finish packing up some of the loose odds and ends and we were really gunning it towards the Miami, causing some extra motion on the ocean and an interesting juxtaposition from the smooth seas the day prior. Mom turned in for the night when the motion got the best of her, and Stephanie and I put all the suitcases in the hallway and headed out.

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Since we missed Latin Nights the evening prior, we headed to the encore performance. Our seats were designated as Splash Zone seats (they even gave us ponchos!), but it was just a small splash from the dancers dancing on some water puddles. I thought Latin Nights had more potential to grow into a really fantastic show than the others onboard the Breeze (though I question the musical prowess of any producer who considers Lou Bega’s Mambo #5 latin music). The only real downside was (and I know I’m repeating myself here) the cheesy animatronic scenes. The backgrounds of Sims dancing in clubs were cheesy and distracting from some strong performances and a strong set list. I couldn’t take the show seriously with the overuse of the animatronics and it seemed like a couple of the dancers couldn’t, either, because they were pretty checked out.

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After the show, the performers move to the atrium and turn it into a kind of latin dance club. Stephanie and I thought about going up to Lido for some pizza and a movie, but the motion was really getting to us so we just headed back to the room. As I settled into bed, I could see the waves from splashing out the window and between the high seas and the motion, I was a little surprised our cove balcony remained open (they have storm doors that will prevent you from going out onto the balcony in high seas). Stephanie said the seas reminded her of the intro to Revenge. We contemplated the comparison for far too long, trying to put off the inevitable sleep that would roll into the close of our trip.

Chocolate Extravaganza Menu:

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Taste Bar Menu:

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Today’s Lido Dinner Menus:

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