On the third full day of our cruise, and over 1,200 miles from where we started, we are approaching our first port of call, Cartagena, Columbia. We are scheduled to dock at 6 pm, and we’ll be there overnight, giving us extra time to explore this Spanish Colonial port city that served as a military fortress in the 17th century.
In the meantime, we’re taking advantage of the sea days to relax and take in some of the scheduled activities around the ship.
Speaking of relaxing, one of the things we always enjoy on Carnival is Serenity, the adults-only retreat featuring cabanas, loungers and hot tub. Normally, it’s a nice respite from the kid set, but on this particular cruise, 99 percent of everyone onboard is over 21, so it’s just another way to settle back with a book and a drink.
In the afternoon we drop by “Tea Time” in the main Bacchus Dining Room for a cup of hot tea, finger sandwiches and assorted desserts. It’s a nice touch that seems to have become a standard feature on the recent Carnival cruises we’ve taken.
In the evening, we have reservations at the ship’s only specialty restaurant, Nick and Nora’s Steakhouse. Named for Dashiell Hammett’s famous “Thin Man” characters — one of our favorite movies — it did not disappoint. While we don’t eat red meat, we found plenty of options to try.
We started with Stuffed Mushrooms, which came highly recommended. It was obvious why — they were perfection. Pam also had the Lobster Bisque while I went with the Shrimp Cocktail. We both ordered the Dover Sole, also perfectly cooked and seasoned. But the real piece de resistance was dessert, appropriately called “The Art of the Table.”
To prepare it, the chef came to our table and laid out a large, white panel. Then he proceeded to “paint” using various flavored decorating gels. In the middle was a hard shell containing black pepper ice cream, while different types of cookies were placed around the board. It definitely qualifed as art — too good to eat, but we did. Combined with the top-notch, personal service, it made for a very memorable meal.
After dinner, we wandered into “Dr. Frankenstein’s Lab.” Instead of test tubes and flasks, we found a DJ spinning the hits of the Sixties and a multi-level nightclub cleverly themed around the famous fictional fiend. In fact, a 15-foot replica of Frank himself was chained to the wall by the dance floor. We got our groove on as the poor monster could only watch.
Time to rest up before we hit the streets of Cartagena!
Story and photos courtesy of Gerry Barker.