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Posts posted by John1928

  1. Wow. Not my idea of a vacation.


    Hopefully you're not one of the 5. ;)


    People say the same thing about 6000+ mile road-trips with kids. However, those were my best vacation memories growing up. At least so far, that's holding true for my kids as well, ranking higher than the various cruises we've taken, trips to Disney, or other resorts.


    For the OP, you cannot book more than 4 in a standard room on that boat apparently so you'd need two. But, if you're dealing with young children and not wanting to have you and your spouse in different rooms at night you can make that happen. It's relatively easy if one is in a crib, more work/crowding if not.


    I personally promise the steward won't count noses in the middle of the night and send one of you back to the other cabin.:D

  2. Your Funtimes will list what is showing each day.


    This is true, but doesn't really address the reason for the OP's question:

    "I don't want to watch something between now and then that they might be showing on my cruise!"


    I've poked around a few times and found current listings people have shared but not a regular location to check on the Carnival website (or elsewhere). If this exists I'd like to know where it's at too.

  3. You're probably okay, though chalk it up as a lesson learned for the future.


    Flying to FLL isn't bad, it's further than MIA but closer than many metro airports are to their respective downtown areas.


    In Texas cruiseport terms, FLL is way closer to the port of Miami than IAH is to Galveston. Heck, it's like 10 miles closer than Hobby is to Galveston.


    There are a ton of daily flights between Atlanta and Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, or West Palm Beach, all of which would be cheaper than having to fly you to somewhere in the Caribbean so Carnival has some incentive to get you rebooked in a timely fashion even if there were a problem with the Atlanta connection.

  4. I logged just under 150 miles over 3 weeks this summer hiking in various mountainous national parks, and the vast majority of that distance was carrying our 2 year old on my back. So, I have no problem using a baby carrier, but my recommendation is still to use a good (higher-end) umbrella stroller.


    The ability to let a sleeping baby sleep is the biggest benefit (no trying to swap the baby without waking him/her so you can use the head, take a dip, or grab beverages)


    Fitting through doors is no problem (easier than a backpack, though harder than a chest carrier), and when folded the stroller takes almost no space in the cabin. The higher end ones make toting things around easier with bins under the seat or on the back, and beach bags looped over the handles add more space if needed. They also tend to have larger wheels which helps in sand or rough surfaces, and sun shades to keep the skin cancer risk down.

  5. I want to say one word to you. Just one word. Plastics... or maybe Nalgene, or Hydroflask, or Camelbak, or... yeah... Another vote for the refillable container of your preference.


    Larger volume, larger opening for ice if desired, better for the planet, and no hassle during the security theater/revenue enforcement phase of the trip. Everyone wins.

  6. Fins make so much of a difference moving about. I wouldn't consider doing without them. Here's something to try - snorkel for 15 minutes with fins and them take them off and try to move about looking a different sights.


    Agreed! Huge benefit for movement on the surface and below. I love swimming near/along with the big schools of fish, turtles, rays, squid, etc. and it would often not be possible for me to stay anywhere close enough to observe them for extended periods without fins.

  7. I would hate having to pay for the 7 day price and not be able to use the program on embarkation day because of a Texas law. :eek:


    You live there, call your representatives and tell them that blue laws are so last century! ;)


    I do agree with your line of reasoning, but I can also see where they may want to use a slightly higher daily rate as embarkation day is a partial day for any departure port (though I suspect it may also be a higher utilization per hour day potentially offsetting the lower cost).

  8. I've even read on this forum from parents whose kids turned a certain age DURING the cruise, and were still not allowed to enter that level of the club until their actual birthday. I assume insurance is involved.


    We ran into this on our cruise last December when my son turned 6 mid-cruise. They actually asked him which he would prefer and then allowed him in the 6-? group for the whole week. I don't know if that's against policy or not, but I think he enjoyed being in with the older group.


    Carnival and Disney have camp options for younger kids. Carnival allowing 2 year-olds (and Disney even younger I believe) and NCL/RCI only taking 3 and up may be a consideration for you during that year. I know I missed having the option to drop off our youngest when she was 2 on NCL. Our son has enjoyed the camps on all of the ships we've been on regardless of line or ship class.


    [edit: I know the OP already made their decision, just responding for others who may find this thread]

  9. Snorkeling on Maya Key is not that great. Most of the reef is brown and dead. But the island itself was pretty neat.


    This was not my experience last December. The area right at the end of of the pier seemed to be pretty dead (not much of a surprise in such shallow water with such heavy tourist use) , but heading out a short distance (less than 100 yards) there was a very vibrant reef. This did require navigating some shallow areas with deeper channels (pic below). There was a main route with the coke bottles you could follow but that was congested at times. That said there were several other routes available too if you do some poking around. In the attached pics there is an example of these channels and looking back to the pier to show approximate distance to the wide open/drop-off side of the reef.


    @snc_cam The portions of the reefs that I saw were similar with perhaps a bit more soft corals by Maya key, but more conchs, starfish, and such on the sandy bottom interspersed between the coral in West Bay. Maya key is near the airport (very close to Coxen Hole, and pretty close to Mahogany Bay). West Bay is at the very Southwest tip of the island, maybe 5 miles as the crow flies (eyeballing on google maps) from Coxen Hole (further by road).







  10. I decided to just go ahead & purchase a zip lining excursion instead of snorkeling. We are doing the "Canopy Tour & Tabyana Beach"


    You chose well, Roatan is probably my favorite. Tabyana beach is part of the West Bay beach and there is excellent snorkeling a very short distance from shore (the farther to the left you go, the closer to shore it is). We bring our gear with but I can confirm that there were people using locally rented equipment there as well (don't recall which resort(s) were renting it).


    There are some areas where the coral is very shallow and could not be safely (for you or the reef) crossed if there is any significant wave action. However there are several decent sized channels which you can follow out through the reef to view the taller side of the coral and a very impressive drop off.

  11. OP is still at post count = 1 so I'll answer here.


    I will be sailing on Carnival Ecstasy and it is $80 per person. I plan on booking this excursion, but I would like to know how it all works first. I was looking for a website for the park that has all of the different prices for things if I chose to go there on my own, but I couldn't find anything. I have a few questions about this excursion:


    1. Is all the snorkeling equipment included in the price (including life vest)? Is the snorkeling guided? I can't swim and have never snorkeled, but I would like to try it with a guide.


    This may be a bit of an issue, depending on what you mean by you can't swim. You'd be able to wear an inflatable snorkel vest which will keep you on the surface but you'll need some way to move around in a semi controlled fashion. At Chankanaab my recollection is that there wasn't much in the way of shallow coral (less than 5 feet deep) that you need to go over other than right at the entry so even with beginner issues maintaining orientation you're not likely to cause damage (to yourself or the reef).


    I bring my own gear but I've seen people rent the full setup there. With Carnival's "all inclusive" excursion I would assume this is included, but I can't say for sure.


    When we've been there in the past there have been some free (included) guided tours for park guests. I'm not sure how interesting the narrative may be, as when I've seen them it has always included a number of people sort of jostling around and bobbing on the surface splashing a lot so I try to steer clear.


    2. Is it possible to book a guided snorkeling tour independently without going through the cruise line? How much will it cost?

    Yes, kind of... There are plenty of ways to go snorkeling separate from the cruiseline, including taking a cab ($12-20ish depending on whether you have more than 4 people and which pier you're coming from) to Chankanaab ($21 admission, -$2 coupon available), renting snorkel gear ($12 I think I read) on your own and participating in the same tour there.


    At other locations you'd need to ask the operator how much guiding is going on vs just taking the boat to a reef they they like, that's typically what I've seen on other private snorkeling excursions.


    3. Do you have to stay with the tour guide the whole time you are there or can you go off on your own?

    You can go off on your own or skip the tour entirely.


    4. Will it be cheaper to do everything on my own? I don't want to do the dolphin encounter or watch the sea lion show.

    It can be cheaper particularly if you have multiple people sharing the cab fee.


    One other note. Chankanaab is not a sandy entry beach for snorkeling. There are stairs down into the water at several locations so you don't need to climb down the rocks. In calm/moderate waves this makes it easy to get in and get going and I've had my son out snorkeling there at ages 3-6.


    However, we were there last year when the weather was poor and there were waves 3-4 feet high coming fairly directly in to shore. This would make entry difficult and potentially dangerous for a weak swimmer as the water level goes up and down several steps with significant force and there are rocks in close proximity.

  12. I have been verbally asked about age/birthday on several recent cruises at check-in, but two members of our party have the same name and that's the differentiating factor they fall back to by default. My wife and daughter were not asked so it seems unlikely to be an issue for you.


    Coming back through customs it seems not uncommon for them to ask about birth dates, middle names, and the like. However of the 4 of us who usually travel together I'm the only one who uses a passport. The others are on birth certificates from a state/county which doesn't use an embossed/raised seal so those already seem to garner additional scrutiny (sometimes, not always)

  13. Once again, anyone who wants to beat the drum of, "Trip interruption insurance is a good idea", ask yourself if you would pay double or triple for the same coverage (if there were no cheaper options). If the answer is "no", ask yourself why not. If your response would be, "The value wouldn't be there. It wouldn't be worth it", well guess what? It's already a horrible value.


    That's the point I've been trying to make.


    Do you fly down a day early to make sure you catch the boat? Do you select more expensive airfare that's either non-stop or closer to your home or the port to reduce the risk of missing the boat? Do you leave for the airport early or with just enough time to catch your plane if all of the TSA gates are open with no waiting? All of those are forms of insurance by another name and all have their own cost in time or dollars while covering a more limited set of circumstances (flat tire, weather delay, plane breakdown, etc.). All also reduce stress, hassle, and check a box off the "do I need to worry about XYZ" list.


    Typically with our family the costs associated with the above (and we typically do at least 2 of the 3) would be at least comparable and potentially significantly more expensive than a trip insurance policy which also provides evacuation, emergency medical, weather, strike, airline bankruptcy, and other benefits... I think you've convinced me we SHOULD be buying trip insurance and flying down the morning of departure? ;)

  14. Thank you so much John1928. Perhaps that's all we would need the way that policy is worded. Do you mind my asking which company you used? Thanks again for all your help



    The underwriter was United States Fire Insurance Company but the policy was sold by an online trip insurance comparison company. I believe CC is one of the boards that's a bit touchy about links to 3rd party websites that may compete with sponsors, but if you look for any well reviewed company I suspect you'll find contracts with similar language (be sure to read the fine print as it were before buying).

  15. I'm not sure that you need cancel for any reason coverage for your situation, if the concern is your husband's mother's health.


    Below are a couple sections from a trip we took last year. This was a policy that did have CFAR coverage (75%) as well, and the price for 18 days with an insured value of $2500 per adult was $125 each (5%). The kids (who had lower insured values as 3rd/4th people) were $42 each. A lower-end policy without CFAR was surely cheaper but I don't have any comparison quotes anymore.


    Also note that if you both have coverage his policy would cover his cancellation and yours would cover the single supplement if you did decide to sail alone (or refund yours if you wanted to cancel as well).



    From the policy of the last insured trip I took:

    <under the valid trip cancellation reasons>

    A covered Sickness or Injury involving You, Your

    Traveling Companion or Business Partner, or Your

    Family Member which necessitates Medical Treatment at

    the time of cancellation and results in medically imposed

    restrictions, as certified by a Legally Qualified Physician,

    which prevents Your participation in the Covered Trip;


    <under definitions>

    “Family Member” means Your or a Traveling Companion’s:

    legal spouse or common-law spouse where legal; legal

    guardian; son or daughter (adopted, foster or step); sonin-

    law; daughter-in-law; grandmother; grandmother-in-law;

    grandfather; grandfather-in-law; grandchild; aunt; uncle;

    niece; or nephew; brother, step-brother; sister; step-sister;

    brother-in-law; sister-in-law; mother; father; step-parent.

  16. I think if he's already accepted the position and didn't bother to mention his existing plans then trying to find someone else is likely the right move. Had he mentioned this during the "Do you have any other questions" phase of interview 3+ then it would be easy to know if the new job could accommodate such a request or not. Even if they could, it's possible that this isn't the impression he would want to make if this is a dream job or career progression step for him.


    Back to the real question. We've been able to change people even with early saver in the past, but check and see if it makes sense to do so. Sometimes adding an additional person to the room (assuming it has capacity) and just letting him no-show may be cheaper than the change costs if they want to use a new price basis for the new person (this was true for us on a cruise a couple years ago).

  17. Here's some interesting FB info:


    - FB is aging :) 68% of FB users are over the age of 50.


    87.322% of un-attributed statistics quoted in message forums are made up on the spot according to me. ;)



    Here are some numbers from the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project Omnibus Survey December 13-16, 2012



    18-29 86%

    30-49 73%

    50-64 57%

    65+ 35%


    The percentages represent the percentage of internet users in that age bracket who use Facebook. Since the percentage of people using the internet also declines with age it seems unlikely that nearly 70% of Facebook users would be on the downhill side of the century hike despite the increasing average age...


    That said, I fall into the camp of only being "friends" with my actual friends, and don't like organizations, join circles, or similar. I think a locally hosted solution on CC makes sense.

  18. <snip>


    - The ride is LONG and the van/bus is hot. Even mitsugirly, who reviewed them positively, indicated this. Most say the ride is 60-90 minutes each way, on a rough road. Ouch.


    That ride time is pretty accurate, though only the last ~5 miles is on a bumpy road. It's an interesting trip through the city and countryside with decent narration making it feel shorter. Of course, we're not an ADHD-type family and are used to MUCH longer road trips to the domestic crown jewels and better state parks so even with 4-5 year-olds that wasn't a concern at all.


    - You have to walk 45 minutes on a rocky trail WITH YOUR TUBE to get to the tubing site. This sounds very unappealing, especially since I have a 3-year-old who likes to complain during long walks and demand I carry him when his little legs get tired.

    This is true. We used Viv the second time we did this specifically for this reason. I was riding heard on a 4 year-old and had a Mother-in-law with a bum ankle to manage. Not having to tote the tube made that easier. The walk was not particularly challenging, but if your 3 year old isn't used to doing any hiking they may need some prodding.


    - You have to lock your feet UNDER THE ARMPITS of the person in front of you. Yuck! Also, seems uncomfortable.

    No longer true



    - The water is cold.

    YMMV - We were there in December and March and it wasn't particularly cold either time.



    - The equipment is musty and smells bad (like the helmet)

    Could be. I didn't notice this but it doesn't seem like an impossibility


    - On busy port days (I'll be there during the Christmast cruise, btw), it is disorganized and the advertised small groups become large groups


    Max group size is 8 tubers per guide, and is enforced by the park rangers (we had to wait for a second van since we had a 9 and 7 or maybe 10 and 6 split. That said, there can be several rafts in close proximity. Check cruisett to see how busy the port may be on your date (xmas may increase the average number of people per cabin, but shouldn't have much impact on the number of boats stopping on any given day)


    - The caves, while peaceful, are not all that interesting. You're basically floating for an hour and not seeing that much.


    There are several caves you'll enter and exit with some open river at the end. These aren't caves with a ton of crystal formations, colored lighting, and whatnot, but plenty of stalactites, some other formations, and a small waterfall (coming into the river, you're not going over it in the tube).


    I have to say that, if the bad reviews are even half accurate, this is not appealing at all to me.


    Can anyone give me some truth here? I read mitsugirly's review, and while informative, it did not make much reference to the problems above, aside from the hot van.


    Different strokes and all... The only significant differences between vendors seems to be if/what kind of lunch is included and if you'll be carrying the tubes. We had good A/C both times in Belize and no significant problems to speak of. If the types of issues (other than the armpit chains which have been discontinued) mentioned in the handful of less positive reviews will ruin your day then another type of excursion might be your best bet.


    Also, does anyone know which operators don't make you carry your tube and/or hook the tubes to where you don't need to do that weird foot/armpit thing?




    Most have gone to the nicer tubes now and no longer make folks hook armpits. When we went last winter Viv did not make you carry your tube, and I read that some of the others including .bz and maybe another one would help if you needed it though they didn't claim this was a generally included service.

  19. +1.


    We've used both .bz and VIV in Belize with two 4 year olds on one trip and a 5 year old on another. Great time with both and no major concerns due to the age of the kids so long as they're willing/able to walk (less than a mile) or you're willing to carry them (and potentially your tube depending on company selected).

  20. I still say that ones of you who are looking for these wonderful family movies are missing the boat. Pun intended. If you and your children are lounging around the pool eating popcorn, carnival or any other company is potentially missing an opportunity to make money. Even the movies in the cabin are of poor resolution, old and not particularly "family" movies. It doesn't make good business sense to have you want to stay in your cabin. It's always about the money! Always!


    Showing good movies targeted at any demographic is a better money maker than having people spending time in their cabins. The occasional kids movie probably makes sense in that rotation though it's not a deal-breaker for us.


    On our last Glory cruise there were no movies on over half of the nights including ones without deck parties or seemingly any other conflicts. A double/triple feature seems like an easy win on at least one of those nights.


    On one of those evenings I was on kiddie duty so the wife could have some casino time. The kids were ready to crash and would have happily let them snooze on/next to me while enjoying the weather up on deck, watching a movie and chatting quietly with my brother (also on this trip). Instead, we were back in the cabin watching Dark Knight Rises on a small iPad screen while the kids snoozed. I know Carnival lost out on at least 3 cocktail/beer sales to my brother and probably one for me during that window. If they were generating revenue in some other fashion from the lido space that might make good sense, but in this case it just seemed like a missed opportunity.

  21. We had a couple of large people who were not physically able to paddle their way down the river. One bottomed out in shallow water and couldn't get out of her tube. She panicked and raised a big stir. Then a man didn't have the strenght to paddle the last half of the tour. Two guides who wouldn't weight 110# each had to pull him down the river. I don't think he even tipped them.


    Again, it may be operator or water condition specific, but when we went I didn't see anyone from any company allowed to paddle themselves. Everyone was in connected rafts of 6-8 people (some tethered, some interlinked arms/feet). The guides then alternated between walking and pulling (shallow areas), paddling with their arms and pulling (deep areas) and coasting (faster flowing areas).


    Were you there before the cruise passenger fatality a few years ago? Perhaps that's when it changed?

  22. I'm down over 100 pounds since then, but I went cave tubing at about 6'2" 385Lbs. TLDR version: I didn't have any significant problems.


    Here's a few more detailed thoughts.


    The walk to the entry point isn't too long (less than a mile I think and I believe we went to one of the farther entry points as I didn't see the trail continuing nor any other tubers coming down river to us, other tours were definitely starting down stream from where we put in). It does have some uneven ground and small hills and steps but no serious climbs. The footing however can be tough with loose river rock/cobble base for much of the walk. I had no issues, but my MIL with a bum ankle had a bit of a tough time with it.


    The tour operator we used (VIV I think?, something like that) actually took the tubes most of the way for us so we only needed to carry them a couple hundred yards. This was nice as I imagine I'd have been lugging 3 tubes for our party if that was not the case. Again, this may lower the exertion level if you think you're borderline on the physical capability scale.


    Also, while it sounds somewhat laughable at that weight, I wasn't in terrible shape (30+ mile bike rides, and 7+ mile walks had been part of my routine for some time). It can be hot and humid (though there's a good amount of shade) and I did see several folks huffing and puffing a bit.


    I had almost 6" of extra life jacket strap length left but that could varry depending on operator and luck of the draw for what size jackets are provided.


    Getting into the tube looked like it may be an issue as we approach the put-in spot as there was a platform/dock and most folks basically had to lean/drop in backwards. However, several of the bigger guys (think muscles, not just overweight folks like me) used a different approach where you basically put one foot on a rock wall next to the platform and just sat down with a hand from the worker. It was a piece of cake.


    There were shallow areas where everyone (even my 60Lb. son) needed to do the "butts-up" deal, but I never hung up on rocks or anything.


    Some (most now?) tour operators have nicer tubes with a mesh bottom and back rest, these may be preferable/more comfortable when overweight.

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