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About lindsay0526

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    Cool Cruiser

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    The Sunshine State

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  1. Updated for a 5-day cruise Clothes Packing List 4 Cruise Casual outfits (I normally pack 2 dresses and 2 pants w/dressy blouse) 1 Cardigan (to use in the dining room) 1 Jacket (for this trip, I am planning on a denim jacket) 1 Formal outfit (a LBD or something that I would wear to an evening wedding) 1 Travel Home Outfit (usually legging and a t-shirt) 4 casual daytime outfits (I wore these more than I thought) 3 swimsuits (I find that these can take a long time to dry on ship) 3 cover-ups (I love the terry cloth cover-up dresses from Lands End) 1 pair of flip flops 1 pair of sandals to wear with my formal night LBD 1-2 pairs of other sandals/shoes (Birkenstocks, gladiators, etc) 1 pair of pajamas 1 light robe (this was provided in the cabin) 1 pair of slipper socks 2 bras (keep in mind if you need to pack a strapless or convertible option) 6 undies (I always pack 1/night and then one extra)- Pack NUDE pairs if you take white pants Accessories 2 pairs of sunglasses 1-2 hats (for the pool/beach)- Take 1 ball cap or 1 sun had with strap if you are going on a boat Jewelry for my Formal Night Outfit (usually a sparkly pair of earrings and/or a necklace) Jewelry (for my cruise casual outfits and daytime outfits) Misc Items Bag to use at the Pool Bag to carry off ship USB charging station- only take if we are traveling with the kids and we are all in one cabin Travel Documents Toiletries- take your own shampoo and shower gel (the stuff in the shower is TERRIBLE) Medicines Sun Products Hair Things- take your own hair dryer, the one provided was adequate, but not ideal Light for the Bathroom Electronics Cups Tea Bags Travel Blanket Packing Cubes 1 bottle of wine (we barely got through the two we took in 5 days) 1-8pack sparkling waters (we took 16 and brought about half home) 1-8 pack sodas
  2. Excursions- We originally planned for the Elite Champagne Catamaran Sail & Snorkel excursion in Cozumel. We were notified the night before that our excursion was cancelled due to not enough people signing up. We were so disappointed, and a little bit annoyed that we didn't receive the notice until we got back to our room after our late dinner seating and after we had checked out a comedy show. So at 11pm, and a bit tipsy from our cocktails, we tried to figure out our plan for Cozumel. Oh, and we were arriving earlier than originally planned, which was now 7-3pm. We signed up for the All Inclusive Passion Island by Power Catamaran as a hail mary at the last minute. The excursion itself was okay, but I think we could have gone to an all inclusive beach day in Cozumel and had the same experience, if not better. But we hadn't researched other options and we were trying to pick something very late at night. (Note: Have a Plan B option even if you have an excursion planned.) The excursion is 5 hours long, its takes approx 45 mins to get to Passion Island and then another 45 for the return trip, leaving you only about 3 hours on the actual Island. Not enough time. Plus, our excursion left at like 8:00, and it was CHILLY when we got to the Island. It was not the day in the sun we had opted for. Sadly, about 11am the weather really started to warmup and we were able to enjoy the Island for about an hour before we had to pack it up and head back to the pier. Still, we had a great time on Passion Island- We had a great server, Jose, who kept bringing the drinks. We had some great lounges with an umbrella (since we were the first boat to the island). The lunch buffet was delicious. There were also plenty of options to spend more money than the excursion- a photo keepsake, little shops, open air massage, beers, extra tips for those serving, etc. (So take extra cash if you plan to do this excursion) If we go back to Cozumel, we would not opt for this tour again even though we had a great day. We just spent too much time riding on the catamaran, which was almost 2 hours of our day. For Grand Cayman, we originally planned to go out to Royal Palms Beach Club, but since we had a beach day in Cozumel, we opted to book an excursion and be a little more adventurous for the day. So, we booked Stingray Sandbar, Star Fish Point, Beach & Lunch. Again, our port time adjusted so the tenders were running from about 10:15-5:15. We arrived to the Normandie Lounge about 10:15 for our staging and were shuttled ashore about 11:15 and then didn't even start our tour until about 12. Then we were bussed to the boat, and then sailed out 45 minutes to the sandbar, so it was nearly 1:00 when we arrived at our first destination- almost 3 hours after we began the process of this tour. The stingrays were fine and our tour guides took photos of us in the water with them, which they later sold us for $40... After the stingrays, we sailed a little bit further to Star Fish Point- this was really a waste. There were like 5 starfish in the water, and we had lunch (by this time it was nearly 2pm and we were starving). It was some coconut rice, corn, and one piece of BBQ chicken- it was enough for me, but not nearly enough for my husband- and some tea or lemonade. The food was tasty though. Then we were taken back to the dock, and bussed back to the pier, where we returned around 4pm. Not really leaving enough time to do much else in GC other than check out a few vendors right on the dock. If we go back to GC, again, this is not the tour we would choose. There was simply just too much wasted time.
  3. Itinerary Change- We left Saturday and had a Sea Day on Sunday. On Sunday, they notified us that we would not be stopping in Grand Cayman on Monday like planned, but instead would head straight to Cozumel and do Grand Cayman on Tuesday. Essentially, they just flip-flopped our days which was no big deal to me. Since we had booked our excursion through Carnival, they took care of adjusting our tickets and times since our time in port also adjusted. Later I found out via internet research, that GC was reluctant to let ships port for fear of the Coronavirus. I guess once the ships could prove that no one was actively sick, then they allowed us to stop. We were there with a Disney ship, a RC ship, a MSC ship, and maybe one more. CHEERS- I am SO glad that I stuck with my gut feeling and did not get the CHEERS package. It would have been a COMPLETE waste of money. We took our two bottles of wine on, a few sodas, and some sparkling water, but our tab was only $150 for the two of us. That was approximately 12 drinks (mixture of cocktails, wine and beer), 2 trips to the coffee shop, espresso with dinner one night, and one bottle of sparkling water at dinner. Never once did I feel like we were skimping on our vacation and we were enjoying a drink when we wanted to, not because we were trying to ensure we got our moneys worth with CHEERS. So, I just confirmed we are not drink package people. ...up next....our excursions and what I would change about our packing list
  4. Our Final Budget: $698 for our room (including port taxes)* $68 trip insurance* $140 prepaid gratuities* $140 Cozumel Excursion (our original excursion was cancelled) $160 Grand Cayman Excursion (we switched this up after our Cozumel Excursion got cancelled and we picked another) $241 for our ship account $43 off-site parking $221 cash spent $1711 TOTAL SPENT We received $243.71 in credits to our ship account- $18.42 in refunded port fees, the $44 price guarantee for the Cozumel excursion that we knew about and $175.98 for our refunded Cozumel excursion when it was cancelled due to not enough people. We also only spent $155 in alcohol and specialty coffees, which was WAY cheaper than us paying for CHEERS (OOP would have been $613 for CHEERS). We went to the coffee shop twice, ordered espresso one night with dessert, a bottle of sparkling water with dinner one night, and ordered about 12 drinks throughout the cruise (which was 6 per person). We also drank 2 bottles of wine that we brought on board and our Cozumel excursion had free drinks. For us, we drank a. l.o.t., so for that reason, CHEERS would have been a complete waste of $$. All in all, we came home with $64 from the cash we took, and settled our ship account for $241. All in all, we came in under budget, didn't feel like we nickled and dimed it, and had a great time. *I do want to note that we spent more than we anticipated in additional tips- we planned on $20 for our Cozumel excursion, which we transferred over, but we didn't anticipate changing up our plans for GC and doing an excursion. We opted to just charge the excursion and hold onto the cash, which was a wise choice. We had additional gratuities for our tour guides (another $20), but then they sold us some photos from our excursion for $40, which I hadn't planned for. This is when I should have remembered that these excursions always have an add-on or extra that they want you to purchase- it was the same on the Cozumel excursion. We also left our Room Attendant an extra $20 because he was spectacular. We also didn't budget in tipping our shuttle driver to and from our car (an extra $5 each way). We also spent $20 in souvenirs in Cozumel.
  5. Dining- This is where there were some total hits and some blatant misses. We were unfortunately seated at the most awkward table for dinner on the first night. The conversation was terrible. This is the second time we have had this happen when we have sailed as a party of 2. As soon as dinner was over, I zipped to the maitre'd and asked to switch to Dine Anytime, but they said that they were full, however, they could keep us in late dining and just move us to a table for 2. This was a-okay with me. I was not impressed with our dining team at.all. There was no real conversation like, "Hello, Lindsay! Did you have a nice day today?", but instead they just handed us our menus and disappeared. I also like to discuss the menu with our server- what are their favorites or recommendations? None of that happened. Some nights they didn't even ask us if we wanted something from the bar. When I was a waiter, there was an order to service- welcome the guests, drop off the menu, ask from drink choices, then return a few minutes later with drinks or say "drinks are on the way. do you have any questions about the menu?" And then allow the guests to place their order. We loved Blue Iguana for lunch, but thought the breakfast burrito option was lacking. The huevos rancheros there was awesome though. We tried Guys Burgers- and they were good and were the perfect late lunch after we got back on board after Cozumel. Still unsure of what the "donkey sauce" was though... We did the Sea Day Brunch, which was just okay, and we didn't opt to do it again. My BIGGEST complaint was that there isn't an option for any plain fresh fruit on the side- like a bowl of melon or a banana. And when I asked about it, our server was like, "Do you see it on the menu?" in a sort of patronizing tone. If I go to brunch, and I order something that swings towards breakfast, I do like to have a fresh fruit option. I thought the MDR Breakfast menu was better than the MDR Sea Day Brunch menu for the breakfast items. We also did Tea Time on our fist day, and I thought it was a waste. They only had two savory sandwich options- a cucumber and a salmon, and like 5 dessert choices. When we have done tea in the past (not on a cruise), we have done it in lieu of lunch, and this was not the case with this tea. My husband was STARVING when we left and we had to head upstairs for pizza. We won't do it again, unless we go in with the exception of it just being dessert and tea, which we can just as easily get upstairs on the Lido without the ambiance, of course. The Pizza was delicious and we love a thin crust. Sometimes it just took a long time to get a pizza. We even ordered a pizza after we got back from Grand Cayman, just so we didn't have to wait in line. It would be nice if they had the option to add a side of parmesan or red chili flakes when you order. The deli was also good- I got their tomato mozzarella sandwich one day and a cuban another. The cuban was the better sandwich- the pork was delicious, but it needed more pickle. Chilled Vietnamese Roll- average, but enjoyable Fried Calamari- I don't think this was a stand out dish Stuffed Mushrooms- I did not like these. They were very small, and quite rubbery. Prime Rib- my husband got and enjoyed Flat Iron Steak- it was way overcooked and difficult to eat, I subbed the whipped potatoes for the baked potato, and they gave me one piece of broccoli on the side. I ordered the Ratatouille on the side, and that was very good. Indian Curry Trio- It was awesome and there was one with eggplant that was SPICY! Braised Short Rib- This was another dish that I thoroughly enjoyed- it was well cooked and well seasoned Seared Tuna- average Greek Salad- it was a little wilted by the time I got it because they had dressed it and the salad had sat for a while. It had a good amount of veggies and the dressing was tasty Rosemary Lamb Shank- my husband enjoyed this one Prosciutto Ruffles- basic melon and prosciutto, but always good and classic Red Beet Carpaccio- I got beet and grapefruit, but there was no blue cheese on mine Cannelloni- I ordered this as a hail mary, and thought it was delicious Grilled Beef Tenderloin- this was another dish that my husband thoroughly enjoyed and the steak was cooked well Oven Roasted Mojito Chicken- I thought this dish was delicious! Carnival Melting Chocolate Cake- this must be a cult favorite, because it was on the menu nightly. It was good, but it is VERY rich- we only ordered it once Buttered Popcorn Pot De Creme- not bad, but a bit weird. It didn't really taste like buttered popcorn. It almost needed a little bit of salt to balance the sweetness Tropical Fruit Plate & Cheese Plate- this was our dessert one night and it was nice to take a "night off" Creme Brulee- it was a standard dessert, but done well. I just wish it had been served with a bit of fruit on top. Bitter N Blanc- we weren't sure what this was when we ordered it- but it was basically bread pudding with sauce- it was good S'Mores Parfait- it had good flavor, but it was VERY runny Double Roasted Pineapple- this was amazing, but I didn't care for the cookies they served with it Brunch Chia Seed Pudding- my husband enjoyed and said it had good flavor Pancetta Scrambled- I got this. It was average- just scrambled eggs with some pancetta sprinkled on the top Skillet Cake- I thought this was very dense and kind of weird Fried Chicken- my husband thought this was the winner and I agreed Bagel w/ Smoked Salmon- average, but needed to ask for additional cream cheese. assorted cookies- these were terrible. I thought the ginger biscotti cookie would be crunchy, but it was just as soft as the other ones. Breakfast Vanilla French Toast- DELICIOUS Avocado Toast- it was average- the toast was very thin, but the eggs were poached perfectly Eggs Benedict- husband enjoyed Yogurt Parfait- I thought this was really delicious and had good flavor, but the nuts in the granola were burned...still ate it though Bruleed Grapefruit- my husband enjoyed but there was no mint My main complaint about the food is that some of the food descriptions just didn't match what was being delivered- if a dish, like my Red Beet Carpaccio says it has blue cheese, I would like to see the blue cheese. When I got a slice of cake from the Lido buffet one day, it read Chocolate Honeycomb cake- there wasn't a bit of honeycomb anywhere in that cake- it was just plain chocolate cake (which was still delicious but not what was advertised). My husband ordered the Bruleed Grapefruit, which came out without any mint. We got a peach cobbler during tea time, that I scooped out onto my plate because it was DRY, and there wasn't bit of peach anywhere in the ramekin- it was all crumble topping. The other thing I didn't love was the fruit selection- they covered the basics- lots of watermelons, and then a medley of cantaloupe, honeydew and pineapple, and there were whole apples and pears. Even in the MDR when we ordered the "tropical fruit" it was just a plate of watermelon, grapes, and pineapple. I would have loved to see some strawberries, raspberries, mango, papaya. Maybe not everywhere/everyday, but it would be nice for that to pop in occasionally. That was a lot about dining and the food... next I'll get into our Change of Itinerary, And Why NOT getting CHEERS was the right call (for us)
  6. We just got off the Paradise this morning. I agree with a previous poster- I didn't feel like Carnival increased hand washing/sanitizing measures. Yes, there were hand sanitizer stations sitting around, but I didn't see many people using them. This is in stark contrast to the Disney cruise we were on last year- every time we entered the buffet area or the MDR, there was a crew member handing out a hand sanitizing wipe. Our itinerary also got shuffled around. We found out the reason "why" from the internet, and not from a letter from our captain, which was very disappointing. There is obvious Coronavirus fears, and Grand Cayman freaked out and wanted to close the ports, later Carnival (and I'm sure the other cruise lines) were able to chat with the Grand Caymanians and we were allowed to flip-flop our schedule. So, we went to Cozumel first (Monday) and Grand Cayman second (Tuesday). There were 4 or 5 ships in Grand Cayman that day and it was EXTREMELY crowded to the point of almost not enjoyable. From what I read, the Caribbean islands are trying to balance protecting their citizens and still allow tourist dollars into the country.
  7. Okay- we are fresh off the Paradise and home! Here’s the first part of my review- Parking-We went with an offsite vendor, Parkway Parking, and they were super easy. The only surprise was that the balance of our parking fee was due in CASH and no where was that listed on our receipt after we paid the deposit. So thankfully, I had grabbed the extra $100 cash for our trip. An annoyance, but not the end of the world. They were very prompt with shuttling us to and from the pier. I also should have considered tipping the shuttle drivers into our budget, so that was another $10 ($5 each way) that I didn’t consider. Next time I think we will just prepay at the port, and make it easier on ourselves, because between the parking fee & shuttle driver tips, we ended up only saving $20. Not enough for the extra step... Embarkation- This part was stupid easy compared to getting off the ship (more on that later). From the time we were dropped off, handed our baggage over to the porter, and made our way onto the ship, the whole thing took us less than 30 minutes. Our arrival time was 12-12:30 and we were the only ones in line (I think we showed up right at 12/12:15). We were sitting on the Lido deck having lunch by 12:30. Room- Our rooms were ready promptly at 1:30, and by the time we left the Lido and made it to our stateroom, M111, our bags were already waiting for us! Whoop! We were able to quickly get our things put away and we were fully in vacation mode. We had an adjoining room with people, who we didn’t know. So, it was a big surprise when they went to open the door and it.was.not.locked! WHHAATT??!?! We immediately called and asked for someone to come by, but our room attendant showed up before they sent someone. He was able to grab his supervisor to lock the door, so our room was secure at last. Our attendant had his clip board and asked if we needed additional items (robes, towels, pillows) and when we wanted our room serviced (morning or evening). We asked for mornings, but it ended up being refreshed 2x a day. And once I asked for a bathrobe, it was delivered while we were at dinner the first night. Having an interior room was fine, and was actually nice when we took naps during the day. But we will never.have.an.adjoining.room.again if we don’t know the people on the other side- they talked SO loud, played their music SO loud, and used perfume/body spray that we could smell through the door, which gave me a migraine. We also felt a lot of vibrations for the first few days of the trip, see my comment below. Being on a smaller ship- I didn’t think that this would make a huge difference, and I’m not 100% sure it really does, but we had very high winds for the first few days of our trip. We felt A LOT of sway and A LOT of vibrations, which I am assuming were the stablilizers. At time our apparent winds were like 41 knots, but on the sail home it was like 9 knots- MUCH calmer, and much more enjoyable. Coming up next... Dining, Change of Itinerary, And Why NOT getting CHEERS was the right call (for us)
  8. Budget Update: We were just going to utilize the Global Passport on my husband's cell phone and call home on the days we were in Cozumel & Grand Cayman at $10/day, but then my anxiety about leaving our kids and not having contact with them on our ship days really started to kick in. So, we just added the "Value Plan" to our account and, therefore, our budget. This will be something that will help me relax while we are away. Running Budget: $698 for our room (including port taxes)* $68 trip insurance* $140 prepaid gratuities* $220 Cozumel Excursion* $140 Grand Cayman Beach Day (which we will likely take in cash) $350 for our ship account (drinks and 1-2 photos) [$44 OBC due to an excursion Price Guarantee, so I dropped our Ship Account by $50] $43 off-site parking $51 Value Internet Plan* $45 tips (cash- for porters $5, for Cozumel excursion 2 x $10, and tips for room service 20 x $1) $100 cash (varying bill sizes) $1855 New Balance *$1177 has been pre-paid Remaining Balance to be paid: $140 Grand Cayman- Royal Palms Beach Club (cash) [At a min this day will cost $63 if we choose not to eat/drink] $350 ship account (secured w/credit card) $44 OBC- "free" money because we price matched an excursion $43 parking (credit card) $45 tip money $100 cash
  9. Buffets are the easiest way to feed a lot of people quickly, and therefore cruise lines, hotels with breakfast included, and weddings will often have them. The end.
  10. I agree with the “taste of the the port,” however that might not be a bad thing. We took our family of 5 to Europe for 20 days a few years back- we stayed in 4 different locations (the Cotswolds, England; Edinburgh, Scotland; London, England; Paris, France) and moving between locations (especially with our 3 kids in tow) was very stressful. Managing luggage, accommodations, transportation, etc was at times very not fun and didn’t feel like vacation. [Note: Traveling with children is a trip, not a vacation.] There is a bit of appeal with the cruise ship in that your accommodations are moving with you as you travel and you still have access to food/entertainment/ship facilities. Does that mean that you might miss out on an immersive experience? Yes! But can cruise travel make certain aspects of your trip less stressful? Also yes! You just have to weigh the pros and cons and then determine what you want out of your vacation.
  11. You are so welcome! I love to save a little money and still get to do the things I wanted to do anyways!! Glad that this tip helped you, too! ❤️
  12. Technically basketball shorts aren’t allowed, but he may be able to get in regardless (enforcement of the dress code is somewhat of a gamble). If he’s willing to chance it, I would just throw in a pair of nicer shorts/pants in his bag, and let him know that someone might say something and he might have to go back to the room and change. He may decide on his own that he’d rather just wear the nicer shorts/pants and not chance it. and this is why shorts are allowed and basketball shorts technically aren’t. One just looks a little more appropriate for a sit-down dinner.
  13. A few things I forgot on my packing list- -water flavoring (I like the Gatorade-esque ones) -glasses/contacts -playing cards -book/kindle -puzzle book (sudoku/crossword) from $1 store and we ended up in the ER after DH accidentally got a drill bit through the finger after the bit broke in two. Thankfully, it didn’t hit the nail or the bone, so besides packing his antibiotic, I also need to pack some neosporin and waterproof bandaids.
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