Jan 2019 – Back to Back Cruising

bd11csh0tmc9e6p3z1w9za

Paradise Island – Overnight Nassau

 

bbxa0u50ti69kjpjwuir0g

Carnival Victory docked at Key West, FL

 

My family and I just came returned from a “Back to Back” or B2B cruise. You might ask, what’s that? Well, it’s where you take at least two cruises back to back. For example, we cruised 4-7 Jan 2019 on the Carnival Victory out of Miami to Overnight Nassau. Then we stayed on the same ship, same cabins (you have to ask for this!), and cruised 7-11 Jan 2019 on the Carnival Victory to Key West and Cozumel. Because we had the same room, there was no need to pack our suitcases. In between cruises, we had a leisurely day eating breakfast, waiting for all to exit ship, and then we got priority “boarding” for our second cruise. We only had to exit to show our passports to customs, re-board and receive our new sign and sail cards. The process was easy.  Note: Each cruise is separate so you do need to settle each cruise account separately.

So, we talked about B2B cruises and if we would do this again. Let me share the pros and cons with you while it’s fresh in my mind:

Pros:

  • The transition between cruises was nice. Knowing in advance what is going to happen will help facilitate the transfer. Carnival sent us a letter on the last night of the first cruise explaining the process in detail.
  • We were treated like special guests because we did the B2B cruises. On the 2nd cruise, we found a bottle of champagne in our rooms with a note from the Maitre D.
  • The staff also left us a nice basket of fruit in each room with a $50 off spa certificate.
  • We were offered complimentary drinks in between the cruises, to include alcoholic drinks!
  • The photographer took a group photo of all the B2B cruisers. That photo was free to each cabin.
  • Our cruise price was an early saver so not only did we got a great price, we got a $50 credit for our cabin for each cruise. Then we got a discount on port fees as well for both cruises (this discount was provided to all cruisers).  My Mom got casino room rates and $50 casino cash for each cruise! The casino cash does not need to be used in the casino. If we did one 7 night cruise, we would only get the on board credit and casino cash once! So it’s double the fun if you do B2B!
  • The Fun Times cruise planner provided different entertainment options which was nice. That’s may be because we chose two different cruise locations.

Cons:

  • Be prepared to entertain yourselves while the cruise line gets all those required to exit the ship, off the ship. The letter from Carnival did not give us a feel for how long the exit process would take. We were told to meet at 9:30 am in the dinning room, and everyone that is required to exit is normally off the ship by 10 am. While the exiting process was ongoing, since we were in Miami, we were able to use our cellular service, but some of our group ran out of charge on their devices. Not many thought to bring an additional charger. Also, the 4G cellular service was unable to download new Netflix shows. Be prepared to entertain yourselves with conversation, mobile phone, a good book, or drafting blog posts!
  • B2B cruising for us felt like we went on 2 cruises. The mix of the people were totally different between the 2 cruises. The first cruise had a great balance for our age group, but the 2nd cruise had a higher mix of college aged people looking to “let go” on their vacation.
  • The first cruise was 3 nights and the second cruise 4 nights. The menu in the main dinning room was exactly the same for at least 2 of the nights making you feel like, “…didn’t we already have this?
  • We added one additional person to the second cruise which was great, but we ended up with different waiters that were not as attentive making our experience not as good as the first cruise.

So are B2B cruises a great alternative?  Yes, they can be!  B2B cruises provide twice the fun and twice the credits!  Yes, we plan to do it again!

 

Between The Dashes!

Happy New Year – Happy Better You!

Happy-New-Year-GIF-2016

Happy New Year, and a big welcome to 2019!  The past is behind us.  It’s time to learn from the past and look forward to the future!  Don’t forget to consider establishing your vision for the next 5 years.  Check out Happy New Year!  for details.

One more thing.  This morning, I read a post about the habits of the rich vs. those of the poor.  This post was very motivating, so I wanted to share it with you, Your Miraculous Future is Going to Be Amazing

I pray that 2019 brings you clarity, good health, a closer relationship with God, and blessings beyond your imagination!

 

Between The Dashes!

How To Get The Best Price On Your Cruise!

209387

Have you ever wondered how to get the best price for your cruise vacation?  Well, let me count the ways!  My family and I love cruising, and we have been to the “school of hard knocks” when trying to get a great cruise deal!  So, I’m sharing what I’ve learned so far.  I want your cruise vacation to be memorable and at a great price!  Before we get into how to get the best price for your cruise, there are some simple steps I recommend you take to become a cruise insider. Cruise insiders stay on top of the deals and promotions as they become available so you know a great price when you see it, and you have lots of great choices before you decide.

To become a cruise insider:

  • Establish an online account with the cruise line(s) you are interested in.  This will enable you to compare cruises and save the ones of interest for later research.  Once you cruise, this online account establishes a rewards member number that can be used to get freebies as you become a loyal customer.

 

  • Use social media to get the latest on deals, promotions, etc. for the cruise lines.  Actually follow them on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.  If you have your notifications turned on, you will get a lot of traffic so be prepared.  If you enjoy this type of thing, you will have loads of fun with this tip!

 

  • Sign up for the cruise line newsletter.  Deals and special promotions are also advertised in the newsletter.  Also, most cruise lines have a blog.  Lots of good info here as well.

 

  • Don’t forget to sign up for the promotions that are sent out by email.  You don’t want to miss anything!

Continue reading

Happy New Year!

Happy-New-Year-2016-GIF-Images-And-Share-Download-Free-2

 

Happy New Year!  I hope this post finds you in good spirits and looking forward to another year!

As 2019 approaches, most of us think about what we will do different this year.  We may decide that this is the year we will lose weight, eliminate our debt, or travel more.  Perhaps we will pursue that promotion we always wanted.  Each year brings on new possibilities.  We have so much to consider, and so much to do.

Instead of New Years resolutions, why not establish a 5 year plan?  This approach will allow you to be strategic, focus on your priorities, understand what takes you away from your priorities and help you to truly work towards achieving your goals.  To get started, I recommend you take a look at the website Organize My House, and the post, How To Create A 5 Year Plan which can be found here:  https://organisemyhouse.com/how-to-create-a-5-year-plan/

Make your goals for 2019 fit into your overall vision for the future.  Happy New Year, and I wish the best for you and your family!

 

Between The Dashes

May 2018 – Southern Caribbean Cruise on Carnival Cruise Line

This was the first time Al and I went on a cruise, just the two of us, leaving from Port Canaveral going to Aruba, Curacao, and Grand Turk on the Carnival Sunshine.  During this cruise, we experienced a lot of firsts which I’m excited to share!

  • Cruise Director:  Al and I weren’t aware how important the cruise director is on a cruise.  Ours was awesome!  Our Cruise director was Mikey, and he made you feel like you wanted to be wherever he was on the ship because you knew you were going to have fun!  Now I know what it means to say Carnival’s “Fun Ships”!  Mikey selected Al to participate in a dance contest and Al actually won!  Mikey started our day with fun and had events all day long if you were up to it!  Here’s a pic of Mikey with Al and I.

 

IMG_7120

Continue reading

It’s Not Safe Here!

If you have more than one child, you realize they are all different with different needs. Well, my daughters taught me this.  At the time, it wasn’t funny, but years later I can look back on it and laugh. My daughter was about six years old, a time when kids enjoyed spending the night over a friends’ house. I didn’t always let her spend the night with friends, but this night, I decided to let her go. I made sure the parents were home, and that I could reach them in case of an emergency.

Anyway, my house phone rang about midnight. Phone calls this late can be really scary. I wondered if it was my Mom telling me someone was ill, or worse yet, someone had died. I was almost afraid to answer the phone since it was so late.

Continue reading

2018 – Celebrating Family

As we get older, we realize just how precious life is, and how short it can be. Sometimes we get so busy with our own lives that we don’t take the time to let our family know how much we love them.

When my Mom and her sister married, they moved to different areas within the United States for various reasons; however, every year they met at the same time at their parents home during the summer in Mobile, AL. This not only gave everyone an opportunity to meet other family members, but also spend time with my first cousins. Over the years, we felt like we were raised together even though it was for a short time during the summer months. As we got older, the summer rendezvous stopped, and we grew apart with the exception of attending family reunions every two years. The reunions stopped, and our lives convened only during funerals. Then everything stopped when our ancestors were no more.

As the first cousins’ children got married, we started to come together again. Before we knew it, my Mom was 80 years old, and her sister was 83 years old! Time waits for no one!

So, here we are this year, celebrating 60th birthdays and 55th birthdays! Not all of us that grew up together made it this far. We lost a few in our generation along the way, but this month we celebrate.

We celebrate God and how far He has brought us.

We celebrate family and how just getting together takes us back to where we left off during our childhood with so many amazing memories!

 

Between The Dashes

Alaskan Cruise – Inner Passage – Princess Cruises, May 2017

Source:  Princess Cruises

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything, but I need to share my Alaskan Cruise with you!  In May 2017, the Family and I went on a 7 Day Alaskan Cruise, Inner Passage. We decided on Princess Cruises because this cruise line has been the # 1 cruise line for Alaskan cruises over the past 10 years by Travel Weekly!

Alaskan cruises are generally May thru September, with May being the cheapest.  Our schedule allowed us to cruise in May, so we decided on the 13-20 May 2017 cruise out of Seattle, Washington (https://www.princess.com/learn/cruise-destinations/alaska-cruises/roundtrip/seattle/index.jsp). Based on our past cruise experience, we book our flights to arrive a day prior to the cruise to avoid any mishaps that flight delays or cancellations may cause.  Unfortunately, our flight departure times were changed, and we had only two options, depart extremely early or evening.  We decided to go with the evening flights which did not allow much time for sightseeing.  Following was our cruise itinerary:

Day 1 – Depart Seattle, WA

Day 2 – At Sea

Day 3 – Juneau, Alaska

Day 4 – Skagway, Alaska

Day 5 – Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska

Day 6 – Ketchikan, Alaska

Day 7 – Victoria, British Columbia

Day 8 – Arrive Seattle, WA

We cruised the Inner Passage on the Ruby Princess which has a guest capacity of 3080 persons (or 1542 guest cabins), a crew size of 1200, a total of 19 decks and was recently refurbished in December 2015.  The cabins were 220 sq. ft. as compared to Carnival (230 sq. ft.) and Royal Caribbean (164 sq. ft.).  The service was awesome, the food phenomenal, and the ship very relaxing. I think the cruise prices were comparable to other cruise lines, but Princess is a leader in this location!

Source:  Princess Cruises – Ruby Princess

In addition, Princess had enrichment programs on board to add to the overall Alaskan experience such as visits/presentations by:

  • The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race champion Libby Riddles
  • A Lumberjack
  • Sled Dogs/Puppies
  • Gold Rush Klondike Festival
  • Fresh Alaska seafood throughout the cruise as well as cooking your own catch
  • National Park Rangers and naturalists
  • Alaska storytellers and authors

When we arrived in Junea, we did a dog sled excursion.  It was one of our most memorable experiences!

IMG_5517

Empty Sled and Dogs

IMG_5518

Sled Dogs Aligned and Ready To Go!

Before coming on the Alaskan cruise, I did a lot of research to determine what to pack.  Everything I read talked about dressing in layers.  We decided to leave our winter coats home, but bring sweaters, jackets, heavy socks, winter gloves & hats, and rain attire.  Overall, the weather was mild and varied between the 50-60°F.  There were many comments about the lack of rain during our visit because there is generally lots of rain in May.  What I was not prepared for was the Glacier Bay National Park!  I was raised in Chicago, so I was familiar with cold weather.  However, it was literally freezing in Glacier Bay!  The Ruby Princess ships’ log says the temp was 46.4°F, but it felt much colder than that!  The layers, gloves, hats, etc. did not allow me to get warm!  I could feel the cold to my bones!  I have never felt a cold like I did when viewing the glaciers!  Following are a some facts and a couple of pics:

  • In 1750, Glacier Bay was a massive single glacier but due to higher average temperatures and lower average snowfall amounts over the last several centuries it has been transformed into what is now a 65 miles (105 km) fjord with many smaller glaciers.¹² (see notes below)
  • There are 1045 glaciers identified in Glacier Bay National Park.
  • There are more than 50 named glaciers in the park including Grand Pacific (2 miles wide by 35 miles long), Johns Hopkins (1 mile wide by 12.5 miles long), Margerie (1 mile wide by 21 miles long), and Lamplugh (.75 miles wide by 16 miles long).
  • 7 of the glaciers in Glacier Bay National Park are tidewater glaciers.

Glacier Bay National Park – Margerie Glacier (1 mile wide, 21 miles long, and 350 ft high of which 100 ft is under water) – View From Our Balcony!

Zoomed picture of Margerie Glacier.   The ship is not allowed to get too close to the glacier just in case some of the glacier falls away and creates high waves!

Lessons Learned:

1. Choosing a cruise line – Most cruise lines do Alaskan Cruises so do your homework and decide on your priorities.  If excursions are your priority, then the cruise price can be cheaper leaving you more money for off ship activities. If the cruise ship is your destination, then make sure you pick a cruise line that offers on board activities that you enjoy!

2. Type of cruise and locations – There are a variety of Alaskan cruises.  Options include cruise only, land and sea cruise, Glaciers cruise, Tracy Arm Fjord cruise, etc. Departure locations vary as well to include Seattle (WA), Vancouver (British Columbia), and Alaska.

2. Transport between pier and airport – Most cruise lines provide transportation for a fee.   We used the cruise line bus transportation and there were some draw backs.  The “Greyhound” type bus waited until it reached capacity which took an unusually long period of time.  Also, the airport drop off location was an extremely long way from the airport check in.  The only thing that saved us was my Mom needed a wheel chair, and we accidentally stated our flight departure was soon.

3. Pre-cruise activities – Before purchasing your flight, consider doing some pre-cruise excursions or venture out on your own.  If the cruise departure location is a place you’ve never been, this is an opportunity to do some sightseeing!

4. Post – cruise activities – This is another opportunity for sightseeing or visiting family.

Between The Dashes

Notes:

  1. “Climate Change”. National Park Service. 2016-01-15. Archived from the original on 2015-11-19. Retrieved 2016-01-15.“History and Culture”. National Park Service. 2016-01-15. Archived from the original on 2015-12-19. Retrieved 2016-01-15.

July 2017 – Western Caribbean Cruise On Carnival Cruiseline

In July 2017, we decided to go on a cruise with our daughter who lives in Chicago. When other family members heard about it, the number of attendees grew.  As the cruise drew near, some dropped out, but in the end, there were a total of 8 of us across 4 cabins.

We picked a 4 day Western Caribbean cruise going to Key West and Cozumel, roundtrip from Miami, FL on the Carnival Victory.  The cruise was amazing! The ship was renovated in 2015, and the ship and cabins were roomy and well decorated.  There were lots of activities on board starting with the Sail away party.  I never noticed this activity on previous Carnival cruises, but it’s so worth going!  On the top deck, the combination of the cruise director, cruise staff, a DJ, cruisers, line dancing, and lots of food and drink make for an awesome start to any cruise!

Some of the other activities included Karaoke which is a must for any cruiser that loves music!  Carnival went all out for this activity!  I have a video of my sister singing “Rapper’s Delight” by The Sugar Hill Gang.  This was the song in the day!  She had the entire audience clapping, shouting, dancing and singing with her!  Now, when I look for cruises, my husband always asks, “Is there karaoke?”  He doesn’t want to go if it’s not on the itinerary.

The other question he asks, “Is there a Guy’s Burger Joint?”  These burgers need to be on your bucket list!  The first time we learned of these burgers, we had them daily for lunch!  They are amazing!!  Make sure to check the dining options before you book because this burger joint is not on all Carnival ships yet.

We did one excursion in Key West.  We needed an activity for all ages so we did the trolley tour.  Of course, we had to try the conch fritters!  Oh la la!!

Now I must mention the casino.  It doesn’t really matter if you are going to win or not, you have to go through the casino to get to the restaurants, pools, etc.  As you walk thru the casino, the slot machines and the table games are calling your name.  The casino is saying, “You can win big money with me!”  The waitresses are offering free drinks (especially if you are a “repeat offender”), and there is an oldies but goodies band playing your favorite melodies.  So, you gotta stop and spend some time!  There is even a dance floor in the casino!

The food on the ship is very good.  My daughter doesn’t think it’s as good as Princess Cruises, but it’s hard to beat fresh seafood on an Alaskan Cruise.  There are so many onboard activities, and Carnival is all about having fun!

Cruises are really a value, especially if you can take advantage of the off season.  We had so much fun, and there’s hardly any planning involved.  Another plus for booking cruises.  We plan to do an annual family cruise.

I’m interested in your family traditions for vacations.  Feel free to leave a comment!

Between The Dashes

27 Oct 2016 – Miami Auto Museum At The Dezer collection

This auto museum was the bomb!!  There are so many one of a kind cars, motorcycles, bicycles and so much more!  I’m finally getting the time to share.  Feel free to comment and let me know if you enjoyed this post!

img_3565

Flintstones Movie, 1994

img_3564

Flintstones Movie, 1994

Continue reading