Friday, April 11, 2014

2014 Carnival Breeze Southern Caribbean Cruise - Day 4 - La Romana

Tuesday, March 18, 2014 - La Romana, Dominican Republic

It was another early morning for us as we had booked the Dune Buggy excursion for 9:30 AM. There was a morning and an afternoon session of this tour, and we decided to do the morning so that we would be able to shop in port or perhaps go to the beach after.

The buffet was ridiculously crowded that morning. I regretted not pre-ordering breakfast to the room.

Getting of the ship for a 9:30 AM excursion was a nightmare, considering that we arrived in port at 9:00 AM and almost all excursions were scheduled for 9:30. I complained to Max after we finally made it to dry land that I have been on much larger ships, but crowds have never been that bad. Or perhaps I've just never been trying to leave the ship at peak time before...

Finding the Dune Buggy excursion was a bit of a struggle. The signs directed us to a parking lot full of buses, but unlike in Grand Turk, there was no Carnival Rep pointing us where to go. Perhaps she just wasn't set up yet. We split up, and Max went to look around the parking lot to see if he could find our bus, and I went to wait in line at an information desk to see if they could help. The information desk line was at a stand-still, and I heard Max's whistle before I ever moved forward.

It was about a ten-minute ride from the port to the Dune Buggies. It turns out that the Dune Buggy tour and ATV tour are actually run by the same company, but the Dune Buggies have much higher ratings on Carnival's website.

As soon as we arrived, they brought out bandannas and sunglasses for sale. The bandannas were $5 each, and sunglasses ranging in price from $6-8. I had a cheap pair of sunglasses with me, but Max did not. I am SO GLAD that we decided to purchase the bandannas and sunglasses for Max. It would have been absolutely miserable had we not. I don't think Max would have even been able to drive without sunglasses because of all of the debris that flew on us throughout the excursion. Now, unfortunately, their sales pitch and overpriced bandannas caused Max and I to spend all of our small bills which resulted in no cash to tip them with at the end, but I guess that's the breaks.

After securing our bandannas, sunglasses, and safety helmets, we got into the tiny dune buggy. Max was driving because I had absolutely no desire to. However, the steering wheel and pedals were so close that he could hardly fit his legs in. Max is almost 6'1" which I suppose in on the tall side, but nothing near abnormal. I am guessing that the steering wheel and pedals are so close so that short people like myself are able to reach.

I made sure that this time my selfie included Max....

Dune Buggy GoPro



La Romana, DR

I was armed with the GoPro and my Nikon 1.

There were also these guys racing ahead of us and capturing photos and video...

La Romana, DR

The photos at the end of the tour weren't a bad price - $13 for the 4 in the envelope (but they also weren't great photos). The video was $45, though.... I'm not going to spend $45 on a video that I can't preview.

La Romana, DR

La Romana, DR

La Romana, DR

La Romana, DR

La Romana, DR

We had read in the reviews about being taken by residential areas where children beg for money. However, it seemed like all the children were interested in collecting was high-fives. Being in the passenger seat, I was the designated high-fiver.

La Romana, DR

La Romana, DR

La Romana, DR

La Romana, DR

La Romana, DR

La Romana, DR

Our first stop was here -

La Romana, DR

They had water and soda for us and sugar cane to try.

La Romana, DR

All of the Dune Buggy employees were very professional. I was impressed.

La Romana, DR

La Romana, DR

So we're going full speed down this road, and Max says, "The brakes are out." I didn't believe him for a second. "You're kidding." "No... really. The brakes are out." He pumped the brakes, and they started working again. This continued, and our brakes would go out temporarily, and then he'd be able to pump them and get them working again. He kept making comments like, "That's not a good sound." "That's a bad sound."

La Romana, DR

We were right about here when the brakes stopped working entirely.... everyone is very lucky that I wasn't driving because I would have just rammed into the back of the buggy in front of us. Max is a much better driver in situations of crisis, though, because he was able to off-road us and turn us so we were going uphill which caused us to stop. I then remembered the sign for "We're having car problems." And pointed my finger up in the air. We were soon assisted by one of the staff, and he told us to take his buggy.

And his buggy was much better!

La Romana, DR

La Romana, DR

It was also much faster at the back of the pack because we didn't have the ATVs stopping in front of us and slowing us down.

Our second stop was at a bathroom and souvenir store.

La Romana, DR

La Romana, DR

I thought Max was dirty, and then he showed me my face....

La Romana, DR

I think we were the dirtiest of all. Perhaps because when the cars in front of us would drive around a puddle, Max would make a point to drive through it.

La Romana, DR

The downside of being at the back of the pack is that someone in front of us was throwing out coins for the children. So now when we drove by them, they were hoping for money. Before, high fives were enough to make them happy, but now some jerk (nice, generous person) ahead of us was raising their expectations and making us look bad!

La Romana, DR

I struggled again with the GoPro, today. I had made sure to copy all of the video and photos from our dive to my computer the night before so that I could format the memory card and have plenty of space for the Dune Buggies. But I forgot to format the memory card. So about halfway into the drive, there was no room left on the card. And having no preview screen, I couldn't just thumb through and delete things because I would have had no idea what I was deleting.

Dune Buggies GoPro

Dune Buggies GoPro

Dune Buggies GoPro

The distortion on the lens is ridiculous. It's almost like a fisheye. Makes for some interesting shots.


Dominican Republic Dune Buggy from Victoria Shingleton on Vimeo.


We really enjoyed the Dune Buggy tour. The staff was very professional, and it was a fun ride. We were a little worried that the speed of the dune buggy was going to be governed, but they actually went along pretty fast. And once we switched for a dune buggy that had working brakes, Max could whip us around without the worry that we were going to end up in the sugar cane field.

After returning to the port, we stopped at the much smaller duty free store so that Max could purchase a souvenir glass (he collects!). We also decided to give Presidente a try...

La Romana, DR

Not fans. We were not fans.

La Romana, DR

La Romana, DR

Max was still sunburned and did not want anymore sun. He did, however, agree to check out the top deck. I was interested in seeing the sports deck and ropes course.

Carnival Breeze

I know pools on cruise ships are always really small... but the main pool on the Carnival Breeze seemed ridiculously so. On the bright side, there were plenty of deck chairs on the main level.

Carnival Breeze

There were actually five baseball fields visible from port. A few years ago, I had watched a documentary in Spanish about how boys from the Dominican Republic grow up eating, sleeping, and playing baseball. Their goal is to be recruited to play professionally in the United States so that they will be able to bring money to their families.

Carnival Breeze

I loved the aft pool, but I actually never swam in it.

Carnival Breeze

Carnival Breeze

There is this funny concept of an outdoor gym on the sports deck (the Royal Princess had similar outdoor workout stations). Max and I played around on the machines, and they are really just that - toys. The bikes, ellipticals, leg presses, etc. had NO RESISTANCE!

If you want to feel as if you have superman strength, I suggest that you do a some push-ups and then lift your body on this machine - you will fly!

Carnival Breeze

Carnival Breeze

The ropes course is also a recently popular amenity among the list of "novelties at sea." The new Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Getaway also have ropes courses which look a bit more invigorating.

Carnival Breeze

Carnival Breeze

Carnival Breeze

Carnival Breeze

Carnival Breeze

Carnival Breeze

Carnival Breeze

All of the crowds were on the pool deck...

Carnival Breeze

Max and I wanted to enjoy some pre-dinner cocktails at the Piano Bar. Well, like I said earlier, it turned out that the pianist was an absolutely terrible vocalist. I think my ears bled. We did order cocktails, but after a bit, Max decided that he just couldn't take it anymore.

Carnival Breeze

We were lucky to be practically alone in the dining room again. As soon as we came in, Subrata wanted to take our picture. It really was kind of him because besides our GoPro selfies, these are really the only pictures we have together.

Carnival Breeze

Carnival Breeze

Subrata recommended the Yukon Gold Potato Cream Soup.

Carnival Breeze

Max and I were both excited to try the Shark and Langoustino Fire Cracker Roll.

Carnival Breeze

I remembered the Black Bean and Vegetable Enchiladas being surprisingly good on the Carnival Dream back in 2010 and was delighted to find the entree on the menu, again (I hear the menu is changing, though... good thing I got this while I could!).

So at the end of dinner, Subrata comes up to us with the two assistant waiters following behind, holding a cake with two lit candles.

"It is your anniversary, correct?"

"Ummm.... it can be!" (Max thought that was hilarious.)

"How many years?"

"Uh... [quick mental math] four and a half!" (Good thing I didn't mess that up or Max would have something to tease me about for the rest of the week!)

Then they had us hold hands while they sang, "Happy anniversary to you!"

Carnival Breeze

And then, of course I had to dance, again!

Carnival Breeze

That evening was the Red Frog's Caribbean Beach Party. Max ordered a bucket of Blue Moon from the Red Frog Pub. He was told that they couldn't give him the bottles because they were glass. So instead, the bartender poured six bottles into cups. I'm sure that you can imagine that by the time you reach your last few cups, it doesn't taste too great anymore.

Let it be known that Max loves to dance. So after we finished those cups of Blue Moon (I can't say I recommend...), we danced for as long as he could tolerate the terrible DJ JonCarlos. I don't remember which back-to-back song combination led to Max throwing his hands up in the air and saying, "I've had it!" but it was a popular up beat song which had everyone on the dance floor.... and then all of a sudden it went into Celine Dion "A Moment Like This." WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY

Carnival Breeze