Wisconsin EMS Cruise
EMS Cruiser's Newsletter
Only Weeks Until Bon' Voyage
By now everyone should have received their cruise documents and flight information. In only a couple of weeks the 3rd Wisconsin EMS Cruise will set sail. If you are a first-time cruiser, it will all be a new experience for you. Past cruisers already know pretty much what to expect, although it’s always nice to have the latest information specific to this cruise. We certainly hope that our series of the Cruiser’s Newsletter has helped prepare you for the 3rd EMS Cruise. You might want to go back and review them before the trip, or check out all of the previous editions on-line at www.WisconsinEMS.com/cruise.
What we’ll do here is walk you through the cruise from the time you head for the airport until you board your plane at the end of the cruise.
Many of the cruise passengers have already booked a hotel room at the Four Points for either Thursday, Friday or Saturday night before the cruise. With a double occupancy rate of $65, including a week’s worth of parking, you simply can’t go wrong. If you haven’t taken advantage of this package yet, call the Four Points Sheraton at 800-558-3862 right away. The room block will be released on March 1, 2005 so don’t delay.
Those of you staying at the Four Points will take the hotel shuttle to the airport – with your luggage – no less than one hour before your flight is scheduled to leave. Everyone else should arrive at the airport about 75 minutes before your flight so you have time to park your car before check in. Many airlines now allow electronic check-in over the Internet, allowing you to drop off your luggage, bypass airport lines and go straight to security.
Have your tags from the cruise line filled out and on your luggage before you arrive at the airport. Be sure you only have one carry-on and one personal bag. Everything else must be checked. Don’t take any prohibited items. Have a photo I.D. for boarding the plane and have your birth certificate or passport with you for boarding the ship later.
If you are flying down on Sunday, after you land, pick up your luggage at the airport and look for a cruise line representative holding signs for the Carnival Miracle or for Carnival going to the Port of Tampa. They will help you board the shuttle that will take you to the ship.
Those of you who purchased the pre-cruise package will be spending Saturday night in Tampa, and will awaken the next morning to see the ship already in port. Between 11:00 AM and 12:00 Noon you will take the shuttle from your hotel to the dock, where you will board the ship by about 1:00 PM.
If you didn’t purchase a pre-cruise package but are going down a day or two early, you will have multiple options for ground transportation including taxis or purchasing shuttle tickets. You can also take a taxi from your hotel to the ship on Sunday morning, board the trolley for only $1.50, or if you’re up for it, you can walk there in about ten minutes.
Your luggage will be taken at the dock for loading onto the ship and delivered to your cabin later in the day. As you enter the walkway for boarding the ship, be sure you have your carry-on bags, your Carnival Fun Pass, as well as your photo I.D. and birth certificate or passport. During check-in they will take your credit card information, give you your cabin keys and take your photo as you board for identification purposes.
Even though the ship will be docked for several hours after you board, most everything on the ship – other than the casino – will be operating. You’ll be able to eat lunch, use the pool, exercise rooms, and nearly everything else. Late in the afternoon, the ship will host an informational talk to give you details on the shore excursions and other events taking place during the cruise. The next item to take place will be the mandatory life boat drill.
To help everyone get introduced to the other EMS Cruisers we’ll have a get-together outside of the main dining room in the Metropolis Lobby from 7-8 PM. This will be an informal gathering, but it’s still a good opportunity to meet fellow EMS Cruisers prior to dinner.
Our first complimentary cocktail party – exclusively for Wisconsin EMS Cruise passengers – will take place at 6:00 PM Tuesday night after the ship leaves port. A variety of complimentary drinks as well as hot and cold snacks will be provided.
Katie from Magic Carpet Travel will be available onboard the ship from 9-10 AM Monday, Wednesday and Saturday to answer your questions. If you need any assistance or have any onboard problems, be sure to see Katie.
Every evening, a Carnival Capers newsletter will be sent to your cabin. It will contain a schedule and information for the next day’s events, including any information for our group. We suggest you spend at least a minute or two looking it over to keep informed.
On Friday after returning from Belize, we’ll take our traditional group photo. We can’t stress enough that this is for everyone. You do not have to be an EMT – just be with the EMS Cruise. We want as many people to be a part of the group photo as possible. We will meet at 4:00 PM at the Lido pool area on deck nine. Don’t miss it. Photos will be available for purchase during the cruise.
We’ll start to wrap up the cruise with a final cocktail party only for Wisconsin EMS Cruisers at 7:00 PM on Saturday Night. Also on Saturday, you will be given customs declaration forms and information on clearing customs. It is a simple procedure, but again, have one person from your group attend the informational talk to get all of the information if you’ve never done this before. Carnival now allows you to keep your luggage and walk off of the ship with it on Sunday morning. However, if you prefer, your luggage can be collected on Saturday evening and retrieved in the customs clearance area on Sunday. We suggest you do the new self-assist and keep your luggage.
On Sunday morning, the ship will disembark all passengers. After clearing customs, you will board the shuttle bus which will take you back to the airport. Depending on your flight time, you may be at the airport from an hour or less to four hours or more. Once you return to Wisconsin, you’ll again retrieve your luggage. If you parked at the Four Points, you’ll take the shuttle back to the hotel to retrieve your car.
Carnival has more information than ever on their web site at www.carnivalcruise.com. It will really pay to look over all the details, because as we said, it’s now only a matter of days!
The final stop on this year’s cruise is Belize – a destination we will enjoy for the first time as Wisconsin EMS Cruisers. Being the second smallest, most sparsely populated country in Central America, Belize will serve as home to the intimate finale to our week-long getaway.
Just because it’s small, however, doesn’t mean that Belize
doesn’t pack a punch. For instance, what might an avid diver and a history buff
have in common? The answer: A keen interest in exploring all Belize has to
offer. For the diver, you’ll discover the longest stretch of unbroken coral reef
this side of the Prime Meridian, measuring a mammoth 150 miles in length. The
reefs and cayes that embrace Belize’s coast have earned the country its
reputation among divers as one of the sport’s
Goff's Caye, a small yet abundantly endowed caye replete with reef life and magnificent coral formations, may be the best spot to marvel in Belize’s underwater splendor. You’ll even have the option to snorkel from the beach or straight out of the boat. Goff’s Caye is conveniently located just 12 miles off Belize’s pristine shores.
Maybe you had something more exciting in mind. How about an underwater adrenaline rush? Sounds like a match made in Heaven for EMS Cruisers, or a trip to the hyperbaric chamber. Kidding aside, if you’ve ever had the urge to swim with the fishes and don’t mind the idea of staring a shark in the eye, Belize’s interactive shark excursion may be the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity you’ve been waiting for. Visit Shark Ray Alley, where you’ll snorkel among Belize’s people-friendly nurse sharks and sting rays.
For the history buff, imagine a country with the largest concentration of Mayan sites in Central America, and you will have imagined Belize. Come along with a venture through ancient Mayan ruins, including the spectacular Xunantunich site. Xunantunich means "Maiden of the Rock," and is comprised of 25 Mayan temples and palaces, including the El Castillo – a pyramid that stands 130 feet tall and is the second tallest structure in Belize. If you find this fascinating, make sure to stop by the site’s renowned museum to find out more about this ancient and wonderful place.
More Mayan ruins await you at Altun Ha, one of Belize’s most historic locations. The best way there is by boat up Belize’s Wallace River, where you might catch a glimpse of some of the region’s native creatures, ranging from crocodiles and iguanas to manatees and the area’s many species of tropical birds. Once you’ve arrived at Altun Ha, you’ll weave your way through the heart of one of ancient Mayan civilization’s most important ceremonial sites. Climb the stone steps at three of the site’s main temples to take in spectacular views of the ancient city and surrounding countryside. Two plazas and 13 structures are yours to explore and rediscover during your day trip to Altun Ha.
Like some of us, maybe you can’t say Xunantunich or have an
aversion to sharks, or maybe you’d just prefer to do something a bit less
adventurous on the last stop of our third EMS Cruise. If that’s the case, look
no farther than the Belize Zoo. Considered one of the best "little zoos" in the
world, the Belize Zoo resides on a mere 30 acres, but gives its visitors an
unparalleled look at Belize’s wildlife. Bring the kids and they’ll enjoy the
zoo’s sprawling playground, complete with spider web ropes and finished in a
natural Belizean motif. Before leaving for the day, be sure to stop by the
visitor center, where you’ll learn more about the zoo’s custom-installed solar
system and enjoy views of their fresh
Ever heard the song "Bicycles of Belize?" Maybe not, but the song’s title will be put to good use, should you choose to accept our mission: Explore and enjoy Belize’s beautiful and natural rainforest on some of the nation’s best bike trails. After a quick orientation, you’ll be on your way through the depths of the Belizean backcountry. On your excursion, you may see iguanas, tropical birds, possum, anteaters, foxes, forest rabbits, and even a crocodile or two – though we advise you keep your distance from them! As an EMS provider, pay close attention to the lush foliage you pass through, as much of what you’ll see goes into the medicines we encounter on many calls.
But perhaps even more relaxation is what you had in mind. Then take a ride up a lazy river as we embark on a journey of cave tubing and rain forest exploration along Belize’s Sibun River. Enjoy the sights and sounds of the jungle from the safety of your flotation tube. Gaze at the limestone formations first shaped at the brink of Creation. A more tranquil, yet interesting way to spend your day in Belize will be tough to find.
With so much to do it may be difficult to find time to eat. Not to worry – many of the above excursions include lunch as part of the day’s activities. If you choose your own adventure and need to grab lunch, be sure to check out the Smoky Mermaid located at 13 Cork Street, where you can feast on fabulous lobster entrees and dine on fresh fish. For more localized cuisine, don’t look past Four Fort Street, where you’ll get a taste of the local food and culture. Both restaurants offer convenient hours so don’t miss this opportunity to say you’ve eaten Belizean style.
Travel to and from wherever you choose to spend your day in Belize is as inexpensive as hopping on one of the regularly scheduled buses from the Belizean transit system or as simple as renting a car from one of the many well-known rental car agencies. If you’re feeling more extravagant, look to the skies and island hop with one of Belize’s four airplane services.
Our time in Belize is nine hours, so spend it wisely. With so many things to do, don’t forget to get back to the ship in time for the group photo taking place at 4:00 PM.
For more information on Belize, visit www.travelbelize.org, and for shore excursion information visit www.carnivalcruise.com.
Information Only A Click, Call, Or Booklet Away
There is more information available to help EMS Cruise passengers with the 3rd EMS Cruise than with the first two cruises combined. Carnival Cruise Lines, Magic Carpet Travel and the Wisconsin EMS Association have all greatly improved the amount of, and sources for, cruise information.
To begin with, the new Carnival web site has just about everything you need to make your cruise easier and more enjoyable. You can check in and print your Carnival Fun Pass which will allow you quick access onto the ship on Sunday. The web site also allows you to book shore excursions right from the comfort of your home. While we have given you a lot of information and you should be able to find things to do on your own while in port, if you’d like to book any shore excursions, the best way to do it is over the Internet before you even leave.
Carnival has a great booklet that came with your cruise documents that will provide answers to just about every question imaginable. It’s really worth it to take the time to read through this book.
Magic Carpet Travel has a list of questions and answers on their web site and can also answer your questions via e-mail. If you need to know any last minute information, a quick e-mail should get the answers for you.
The Wisconsin EMS Association has added all sorts of on-line information as well including the still new www.EMSCruise.com web site. From cruise news and reviews to 360 degree videos of the ship and her cabins, to hundreds of photos on independent web sites, you could literally spend a dozen hours pouring through all of the information and still not see it all. A great place to start is the links page on either www.WisconsinEMS.com/cruise or at the www.EMSCruise site.
As your excitement builds, and as you watch the days count down on our Internet counter, there is no better time to tie up any loose ends and find out all you need to know by taking advantage of all this great information.
Wisconsin EMS Cruise Itinerary
EMS Cruise Meet and Greet
EMS Cruise Cocktail Party
Farewell Cocktail Party
Four Points Sheraton
Only $65 - includes parking