continued from Carnival Breeze Embarkation Day – June 2013 — Key West, Florida…such a beautiful town! None of us had ever been to the “Conch Republic” before, nor had we been to any of the other ports on this cruise. The day we arrived was a hazy and sometimes rainy day, so our explorations were kept to a minimum. We took one to the trolley tours around the town, which worked out well, as the plastic windows were convenient to keep the POURING rain off of us. It was at times entertaining to see how much rain we were getting, as a storm system had come up from Cuba. During the tour we learned about the history of the Conch Republic, and how the area “seceded” from the United States in April 1982 because of a roadblock that the US Border Patrol had setup on Highway US 1 to check cars coming from the keys for immigrants and narcotics. This roadblock caused an unwanted impact to residents of the area, as well as the important tourism business. The Key West city council tried to get an injunction against the roadblock and failed. Since they were being treated as a foreign nation, the Conch Republic was “formed”. The Mayor of Key West was proclaimed Prime Minister. He symbolically declared war against the US by breaking a loaf of stale Cuban bread over the head of a man wearing a naval uniform. After one minute, he “surrendered” to the man in uniform and applied for one billion dollars in foreign aid. Of course, no trip to Key West would be complete without a stop at the “Southernmost Point” of the continental US. Technically, there are several points in the Continental US that are further south than this marker, but they are privately owned and not open to the public. There was previously a sign at this location, but since it was stolen many times, it was replaced by this gigantic marker. This marker is actually a painted concrete sewer junction that was too heavy to be easily moved, so it was painted to look like a buoy. Because the rain was so heavy this day, we cut our trip short and went back to the ship to relax and dry off.
We had found a very reasonable deal for a 6 day cruise from Miami, with stops in Key West, Grand Turk, and Nassau, so we invited my mom and step dad to go along (their first cruise), and made all necessary arrangements. Upon arrival to the Port of Miami, the enormous Breeze was welcoming us for our adventure. We entered the terminal building and proceeded to check in and receive our boarding group number. After sitting in the nice terminal area with the brightly colored ceiling, we were called to board and took the obligatory cheesy boarding photo. One of the first things you notice when boarding the Breeze is that the Atrium is not quite as flashy as you have come to expect from the typical Carnival Ship. Joe Farcus, the man behind the “flashy” theme-based designs, took a back seat on the design of the Carnival Breeze. This has rendered it a little more subdued, and has also left the Breeze with out the typical “theme” feeling that has been a mainstay of Carnival ships since 1977. There is a serious lack of gigantic Medusa heads on this ship. After taking a quick self-paced tour of the ship, it was time to find a snack and a drink. We headed up to the pool area, and gathered up a Guy Fieri burger and fries, along with a rum drink from the Red Frog rum bar. After our snack, we headed to our cabins to get settled in and drop off our carryon stuff, so we could continue our tour of the ship. We wandered around for a little while at which time we went to the sailaway party for a short time, followed by finding a place to quietly watch Miami fade off into the sunset. After watching this, we tidied up and went to the Fahrenheit 555 Steakhouse. Because we made reservations on the first evening, we were given a bottle of wine for each of our reservations. I am not certain if they still do this, but if they do, it’s a nice little touch to make dinner even better 🙂 For a $35 per person surcharge, you are provided a wonderful meal. I have had steaks in some very nice steakhouses in my life, and the steak I had that evening is tied for first place of all the steaks I have ever eaten. After enjoying our meal and wine, it was time to start winding down our first day on the Breeze. Day two will take us to Key West, Florida. (to be continued)