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  1. Looking forward to the second half! How many pictures would you estimate Patti take during an average cruise? She’s so good at that!
  2. Debarkation – May 4th They say all good things must come to an end. Morning came, as it always does, and our anchor/rope/thruster alarm went off about 5:30 am. There would be no danger of oversleeping this morning! We showered, dressed, and headed up for our last Breakfast at Tiffany’s. The day was overcast but the temperature was still nice. We had elected to do self-debarkation. This was the first time we had used the digital debarkation scheduling within the app, and it is super easy to use. Our debarkation time was 8am and the gangway was on Deck 7. Ron, being the wonderful husband that he always is, would not hear of letting me push my own suitcase. He kept both suitcases through the entire process. Chivalry is definitely NOT dead with this guy! Liz has commented before that when she has been with him, she wasn't allowed to carry her own suitcase. He's a good one and I'll keep him! As we found pretty much everything else on this cruise, the Elation crew had this debarkation thing down to a science. Our cabin was on Deck 6, so we only had to go up one deck to get in line. There were signs and people pointing us to the line. The line went down one hallway, snaked around the second hallway and off the ship. From the moment we stepped in line we never stopped moving. When we reached the gangway, our cards were scanned, and we started down into the terminal building. The gangway is rather long, probably mostly because they were using Deck 7 and it’s kind of high. There are multiple "switchbacks" on the way to ground level. When we reached the bottom of the gangway there were two lines and people directing us into the correct line. If you had traveled with a passport you were supposed to get into one line. The second line was for people traveling with birth certificates. Pretty standard. We got into the passport line but were told several times that we did NOT need to show our passports. Just look at the iPad, smile at the camera so to speak, and it will do the rest with the facial recognition technology. Talk about easy! I think we were on Horizon the first time we experienced the facial recognition debark. Definitely a good thing! The entire process probably took a total of 15 – 20 minutes from the moment we stepped in line until the time we were walking to our car. Easiest debarkation ever! Here's our traditional "our cruise is over and now we're pouting" picture. So….there you have it. My Elation cruise Christmas present was the best present ever. We had a wonderful time, as always, and I have no complaints. 9ish hours later we were back in West Virginia. Although we live in Princeton, the closest route to our house is typically through Bluefield. We use Exit 1 to get there so we're barely inside the state when we turn off I-77. Here's our sign! If you ever drive north on I-77 and go through the East River Mountain Tunnel, give us a wave as you go by! Thanks so much for reading along! I’ll see you again when we again sail on Mardi Gras with our "friends who became family" in September! It's going to be epic!
  3. Yes! This was the first time we'd seen them. I hope we see them again at some point in the future!
  4. Dinner was jerk pork chops. We both started with a garden salad again. I had melting cake for dessert and Ron had Babaloo cake. I have never seen this offered before. It’s a pretty, colorful dessert. He liked it. I tried it but really wasn’t a fan. I don’t know if it’s specific to this ship or if it is also on other ships. On that last day there is usually Baked Alaska on the menu but on this sailing the Babaloo cake seemed to have replaced the Baked Alaska. Dinner was excellent, as before, and we snuck out before the “Leaving on a Fun Ship” song could start. That one is always kind of sad, I think. It means the cruise is over! I FINALLY remember to take a food picture! Melting cake has pretty much been my favorite since the first cruise. This was the Babaloo Cake. I've never seen it on a menu before on any other ship. The evening was before us, and we decided we wanted to go see Music Manila again. Ron kept trying different versions of that name…..Manila Ice, Manila Folder, Manila Envelope, Manila Frosting…..enough already! LOL We wanted to get there pretty early since seating was limited so we took our books with us and settled in for the evening. There were a surprising number of people already there, so it was good that we went early. If you get a chance to see these guys GO! They're so much fun! They started their set, and they were every bit as good as the night before. So much fun to watch! People were in the halls and at the bar dancing. Everyone that walked through was smiling and most were singing along. They played their first set, and we enjoyed it so much we waited around for their second set as well. I can't remember EVER having done that before on any of our cruises. In the time between the sets, one of the band members named Albert went through the crowd and introduced himself to everyone. I thought that was really nice. He invited everyone to join their Facebook group. Very smart of him! If we ever cruise with them again we’ll definitely catch their show. We sang along with them until after 10pm. It was time to go pack. I didn’t feel that I had left anything undone. We’d had a great time. Time to get back to reality. I'll be back later this evening to finish this story!
  5. Sea Day – May 3rd As inevitably happens every single time, we had arrived at our last day on the ship. It goes by so quickly! We slept in a little because our anchor alarm didn’t wake us at “0 dark early” like it had the previous two mornings. We didn’t have any real plan for the day except relaxing and enjoying our last vacation day before returning to work. Today was Towel Animal Takeover. There weren't any of the really large creations that I've seen on some of the other ships. I think Magic had the best one with the huge dog and doghouse. This was the display for Elation.... I like the googly eyes! This was from Magic in 2022... First order of business was Breakfast at Tiffany’s. After breakfast we caught a morning trivia game in the Romeo and Juliet Lounge. The first game was all about superheroes. I knew before I sat down that I wouldn’t do well on this one. The second game was Harry Potter. I know a little more about that subject but definitely not as much a many of the people in the room….and there were a lot of people in the room! We didn’t win, of course, but, as always, enjoyed playing. The line for the Deal or No Deal Bingo cards was forming right outside the door, so I got in line to collect our Bingo card. I’m not a big fan of Bingo but if the card is “free”, I’m going to play it! Best days ever......nothing but water. By the time I got through the line it was close to lunch time. I still hadn’t managed to get my pizza, so we went up to the buffet. Ron preferred a Guy’s Burger, and I ordered my pizza. It took about 10 minutes to get my pizza so that was perfectly acceptable. We found a table and settled in for our last lunch. We finished it all off with a piece of key lime pie. That was the best dessert I’ve had all week! Tummies full (too full in my case!) we opted to take a quick nap. Naps are a luxury we don’t have very often! We got back to the cabin to find our "Get Off Our Ship Heart" that is there on every last Sea Day. When we woke up from our nap it was almost time for Bingo. As usual, there were three games. The first two were normal games and the last one was the $5000 game. In order to win the $5000 you had to cover the entire card within 49 calls. Although the winner didn’t quite make it, she was pretty close, maybe 52 calls? and she won $1100. I needed only one number at the end of 49 calls and that was about as close as I have ever come to winning Bingo. I didn't get any Bingo pics, unfortunately. I need to do better at channeling my inner "Patti" @Jamman54 to get ALL of the pictures. That girl doesn't miss a thing! As we headed back up to the Lido deck Ron mentioned that we had yet to play mini golf. Mini golf on ships is very hit/miss. Sometimes the weather is cooperating, and you can play mostly normally. Other times the wind is howling, and it is virtually impossible to play. Fortunately, it was a nice day and we had fun playing a round, which he won OF COURSE because he always wins. (Major eye roll) Often, we will do a long weekend somewhere with our sons and daughter-in-law, just to get everyone together for a couple of days. I miss them! Ben and Katherine moved to Nashville last year so it's a long drive to see them now. Andrew, our oldest, is back in Princeton temporarily as he decides where he wants to go next. His job allows him to work remotely so he can live anywhere, which is nice. When the five of us are together, we play vicious, killer mini golf. Our other favorite family activity is escape rooms. We turn into a very competitive bunch! I don't win often at golf. I still have a picture on my phone of the score card from the one game I won while on a kayaking trip in KY. This was taken in January when we took a weekend to visit Ben and Katherine. We, of course, found an escape room. This is something like number 56. There is only one time in 56 that we haven't gotten out in time. It was in that dark room that we realized we all wear glasses and none of us can see in the dark. LOL Not a bad track record! Anyway....back to the Elation cruise! The golf course on Elation looked new. It was only open certain times of the day, and the clubs and balls were kept locked during the off times. It's a very nice course! We hadn’t made it out to Serenity during the entire cruise, so we headed that direction to check it out. Serenity is Deck 8 aft on Elation. There are several loungers in the sun, a covered area with couches and two hot tubs. It was pretty busy on this last sea day. We grabbed one of the couches and spent a delightful hour or so there. Before too long, it was time to go get ready for our last dinner. This is the only picture of Serenity the site is allowing at this time. I keep getting a "server error". As you can see, it's at the back of the ship. I had made Thank You cards with extra tips for Gede, Gusti and Sadia. We left Gede’s in the room earlier that day and we took the cards for Gusti and Sadia with us to dinner. All of these people are so nice. All of them work so hard. That extra tip isn’t much but it’s the best way I can think of to say, “Thank you!” I'll be back to continue later!
  6. And maybe I'm misremembering. Who knows?!? It's been a while! 🙃
  7. Thank you! That's very odd. The last time we were there with Liz and Aaron on Sunrise, we had gone to get a Diet Pepsi (and whatever they wanted) and were told they would only accept cash, so we make the trek back across the sand to get cash. Luckily Ron had some left over in his back pack from some other venture. Maybe it was just that one bar or they were having difficulty with a computer or something. I don't know. I had thought they would accept the card like it had been in the past but not that time. Thanks for weighing in on that. You've definitely been there more than me and would certainly know better than me!!
  8. Yes! They were having a ball! Albert came through the crowd introducing himself (in the next installment) and inviting people to join their Facebook group, so we did. Some of their pictures and videos go back almost 20 years on various ships. They’ve been doing the Carnival circuit for a long time!
  9. They were! We don’t usually stay for an entire set but this time we stayed through two sets. One of them said their contract on Elation was through July.
  10. The dining room was still pretty quick but alas, showtime was a little earlier than previous nights and we would up being there for the performance. I guess it's OK. We ate dessert. One night in five isn't bad at all. This night would be a conga line. We both had a garden salad for an appetizer. I had chicken parm and Ron had pepper steak for an entrée. I had chocolate ice cream, and he had a banana split for dessert. It was all very tasty, as it has been all week. Way to go, Elation! Epic Rock was playing in the Mikado theatre at 7:30. I had seen it several times, but I always enjoy it. I think it’s one of my favorite Playlist shows. I don't think I remember this guitar decoration from before. I definitely remember the speaker screen from before. After Epic Rock, we didn’t yet have enough music, so we went in search of whatever else was available. We first stopped to hear Kenny J. He was pretty good. He was a soloist with an acoustic guitar. I didn't get a picture of him. We listened to him for a while and then wandered up to the Drama Bar to catch a little of Music Manila. They had been playing all week, but we had missed them until this point. We'll get a better seat for the next show! The Drama Bar is basically the bar immediately beside the casino and basically a wide spot in the hall. A small stage is positioned on the side in front of a window. There were quite a few people already listening to these guys and we quickly discovered why. They are really good! Music Manila is a group of four guys. There is a lead guitar, bass guitar, piano and drums. They play 70’s and 80’s music. It appears that they've been performing on Carnival ships for many years. I think what made them so much fun is that THEY were having a ball performing. It’s always fun to watch people who enjoy what they are doing! We watched them for quite a while and decided to head for bed. We were tired. Tomorrow would be our very last day. Ugh! Time goes by so quickly on a cruise!
  11. Thanks so much for taking the time to read along again! I really appreciate it! I would have been absolutely terrified!! It's a wonder you ever went back into the water! I've seen a couple of barracudas, not as big as the one Ron saw, but I've never seen a shark. I both want to and don't want to see one. I'm pretty sure I would need to get out of the water ASAP, but it would certainly be an experience. Liz insists that she'll never swim with sharks for an excursion. I keep telling her that we probably already have and just didn't realize it. LOL I am going to try the fins in Sept. I have tried them before but I they just feel clunky to me. I think I may be bending my foot or something in a weird way. I am going to watch some videos on YouTube before then and see if I can figure it out any better. It's strange, when I went scuba diving, I wore them with no problem but somehow, I haven't liked them when snorkeling.
  12. Thank you so much! We're really looking forward to it. We've had an idyllic marriage for the past almost 40 years. I am so blessed. We started so young....we didn't know how young we were! I was only 18 when we got married. Ron was 21. I turned 18, graduated high school and got married in three consecutive weekends. My dad was a basket case. LOL I wouldn't recommend it to anyone, but it has worked for us!
  13. What fantastic pictures! Thanks so much for sharing them! I remember of couple of those, especially the Rolls, from my times on some those ships. I saw the Rolls again this past Thanksgiving on Celebration. We were scheduled for the third sailing of the Jubilee but when it was delayed, we had to switch to Celebration. I still hope to get to Galveston at some point. You've had such an amazing run and I appreciate your telling us about it! Also, thanks so much for reading along and for your kind words.
  14. We walked up to the buffet area. There were four buffet lines. Like I said earlier, I’ve never been to Princess Cay before. I assumed that all the buffet lines would be the same. We joined the shortest line, which was Line 4. This is the buffet area. A great view from the picnic area Here's the menu When we reached the serving area, we realized that this line was only for sides and desserts. What?? You had to go to one of the middle lines to get a hamburger or hot dog. That’s kind of weird but whatever, I guess. We got our sides, and I sat down at to keep our seats at a picnic table since there wasn’t much available seating at the time. Ron went back to one of the middle lines to get our burgers. That was when the war began. As you can see, the lines were numbered but no explanation given. Grrr...... There were flies. Lots and lots of flies. I was trying to keep them off our food. Waving them away wasn’t enough because there were too many. I finally covered our food with napkins AND continued to wave them away as much as possible. It was so frustrating! I hate flies, especially when they’re trying to land on what I’m trying to eat. Ron finally made it back with our burgers. He had accomplished it surprisingly fast, but our sides had unfortunately pretty much reached room temperature by then. We tried to eat as quickly as possible because of the flies. I usually enjoy a picnic lunch but not this time. I don’t know if it’s always like this but if I’m at this port again I intend to move further away from the picnic area to try to find a place with fewer flies. No matter, we were fed and that is what mattered. As you can see, we survived the invasion of flies. We went back to our loungers, and I decided that we needed a Diet Pepsi. I remembered that on Half Moon Cay the Sign and Sail cards could not be used at the island bars. I would need cash. I got some cash and headed to the bar. When I got there, I was told that they don’t accept cash, only Sign and Sail cards. You’re kidding, right?!? I walked back to our loungers, got our cards, walked back to the bar and FINALLY managed to get a Diet Pepsi. Seems like a lot of work for that, doesn’t it? On the way back, I noticed this... Oops! I kind of missed that little detail. The day was beautiful, and the temperature was perfect. We stayed on the beach reading and just enjoying the beautiful day for another hour or so. I had thought I might get back in the water but the mood sort of left me and we decided to head back to the ship. It was about 2pm by that point. The last tender would depart the island at 3:15. On our way to the tender we stopped in a gift shop and bought a Princess Cay magnet. The tender was full but not crowded and both the boarding, trip and unloading happened quickly. We were back in our cabin in no time. This is where you go to board the tender. No lines! Boarding the tender There was an elephant waiting for us We spend some time on deck reading before getting changed for dinner I put my "duck of the day" in a corner to watch to see if anyone would get it. This one had to be in a Ziplock bag because the band holding its little card had broken. As lady came by and picked it up. She grinned and seemed happy. She took it with her. That, in turn, made ME smile! Since it was well into the afternoon, we decided to go ahead and get ready for dinner. We did this at a pretty relaxed pace as there was no reason to hurry. When we were ready, we wandered around listening to music for a while before dinner. Lunch is over but I'll try to get back later to put up the rest of that day.
  15. I would do that one again in a heartbeat! It makes me sad that Carnival doesn’t sail from Puerto Rico any longer. I will probably do that one again on another line at some point. I’d also love to do the ABC islands at some point. I’ve been reading @Saint Greg’s recent review of that. i’m one of those weird people who will get off the ship regardless. If we’re in port, I’m getting off. Even on Celebration last Thanksgiving when I got so sick, I managed to walk into the port area very briefly. It was made slightly better by the fact we were doing that same itinerary in Sept. Next year we are doing our bucket list cruise to Alaska. It reminds me a little of the southern Caribbean itinerary in that there are 5 ports in 7 days. That will be awesome!
  16. Thanks so much! I'm easily amused, I guess. LOL I wish I were a better photographer but occasionally I get one that I really like!
  17. Yes, exactly! I've been on Sunshine and Sunrise but not Radiance yet.....or I guess I WAS on it when it was still Victory. I think that whole episode of "sunshining ships" was very confusing!
  18. Princess Cay – May 2nd My faithful anchor/rope/thruster alarm again woke me up bright and early whether I wanted to be up or not. This was our first trip to Princess Cay. I don’t know how we’ve missed it so many times, but I was looking forward to trying it out. Some of our friends had been there the previous fall and had talked about how good the snorkeling was. We brought our own snorkel gear and were ready to see what we could see. I had read that Princess Cay was one of the most missed ports in the Bahamas, but it appeared our weather was beautiful, the sea was glassy and visiting the island wouldn’t be a problem. We got dressed for the beach and went up to Lido. I realized at that point that the name of the Lido restaurant was Tiffanys. How cool is that?!? We’d been having Breakfast at Tiffany’s the last couple of mornings and didn’t even realize it! (In case you haven't noticed, I'm easily amused by small things. LOL) We had used the blue towels in our room the previous day so after we finished breakfast, we stopped by the towel hut and got a couple more towels for the day. We stopped at the room to collect our snorkel gear and headed out to board the tender. This day the gangway was on Deck 4. Again, we walked straight down the stairs and onto the tender. We really didn’t have to do much waiting in line at all during this cruise. I guess that is one of the perks to a smaller ship with fewer people. On the tender Pulling away from the ship Princess Cay is a private “island” on the tip of Eleuthera. Unlike Half Moon Cay, it is very rocky, and the water tends to be pretty shallow in a lot of places. We had rented an umbrella and two chairs before the cruise, so we stopped by the “Float Station” to claim our chairs. This was also the place where you could rent snorkel gear and other things. There were lots of water items that were available for rent including a Hobie Wave sailboat. That looked like so much fun, but prior sailing experience was required and unfortunately, we didn’t have that. Welcome to Princess Cay! Why, thank you! Happy to be here! I always love the pictures of the ship anchored out in the water. This is where you went to claim chair/umbrellas, clam shells or water related items. I wish we had a choice of where our loungers were located but basically, we checked in and were shown to two loungers with an umbrella. I would have liked to have been a little closer to the snorkel area but no matter. I need to get those extra steps anyway. We settled our belongings on our loungers, got out our gear and set off to explore the island. We first walked down to the right of the area where the tender docks. There was a rocky point that projected into the water, and we thought it might be a good place to snorkel, but the water was really too shallow. We saw Lucia and Hannah at that end and stopped to tell them “Hi”. I didn't get any pictures to the right of the tender dock point. It was only about ankle deep. Lots of loungers The view from the observation tower Our spot for the day We then walked in the other direction. There was a playground, some shops, photo opportunities, swimming areas, a picnic area, a lookout tower and a snorkel area. According to the posted directions, you were to enter to the left of the snorkel pavilion where people were swimming and swim around to the right to the reef. Playground Snorkel pavilion Again, the water was slightly cold and again, we adapted pretty quickly. We set off to explore the area. There were lots of rocks near the shore and in the distance was a grassy area. I was pretty sure I saw a turtle moving out in the grassy area but as I tried to go that direction a lifeguard stopped me and pointed the other direction. Phooey! There were fish and it was fun, but I would have appreciated a little more freedom to explore a little further afield. Ron snorkeled and filmed for about 30 minutes and decided to head back to our loungers. I stayed out for another 20 – 30 minutes enjoying the fish and swimming. It was truly a beautiful day, and I was having a great time. I wanted the Go Pro He just kept filming! Finally, I got it and took his picture Lots of the typical Caribbean fish. I know the Seargent Major. What are the others called? This was one of the biggest of this variety I had ever seen. I tried looking it up online. It looks like a picture of a Bermuda Chub. Is that right? Does anyone know? Off in the distance was the beginning of a grassy area where I thought I saw a turtle but, alas, I was turned back by a lifeguard. Boo!!! I finally got out of the water and went back to our chair to dry off a little. I was tired and hungry. You know how swimming will do that! After we rested for a little while it seemed like lunch was a good idea. He seems pretty chill.
  19. I'm glad you had a great cruise. I agree completely, attitude is everything. It always mystifies me that some people can work so hard to be so miserable when, if you'd just let it go and roll along with the punches, you can still have a good time.
  20. Please feel free to hijack anytime! I enjoy learning about others experiences. We’ve been on 4 of the ships that have been retired…Sensation, Ecstasy, Victory and Fascination. I, too, like the newer ships better but, I’ll be honest, I like all of them and typically the embarkation port or itinerary is usually more important to me than the ship. I think Horizon might have been my favorite but it’s hard to say. lol. My favorite itinerary was on Fascination when they sailed from Puerto Rico. I loved the southern Caribbean route. Next year we’re celebrating our 40th anniversary with a trip to Alaska on Spirit.
  21. That’s awesome! You were, and have remained, an expert. My first cruise was on Sensation, then Ecstasy. I have yet to repeat a ship but it will happen for the first time in September on the Mardi Gras. Have you sailed every ship in the fleet? Your website is fantastic, by the way. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve used it.
  22. It was a fantastic snorkeling excursion. If only I’d seen the turtle, too…. Still, this was the next best thing. There is absolutely nothing like the Caribbean for beautiful water. I wish I could claim that comeback as an original thought but like I said, it was from an older lady on my first cruise. It has stuck with me for 14 years and I finally got to use it. lol
  23. Yes! Yes! It went on forever! In subsequent days for this story that is exactly what I had called it, an “anchor/rope/thruster” alarm clock! I didn’t realize that Elation was your first cruise. May I ask the year?
  24. One of the things I quickly remembered about some of the ships is the fact that the hairdryer is tethered in a drawer. You must alternate between standing, sitting, hunching…whatever position is necessary to get the hair dry. This is not a huge problem for Ron. His hair is very short. It IS a problem for me! It’s very awkward and I much prefer a "free range" hair dryer. Nassau falls away in the distance behind us All fresh and clean, we still had about 45 minutes before it would be time for dinner. We went to the Atrium on deck seven and listed to a couple of guys play music. They called themselves the Duo Bros. (I posted a picture of them earlier.) One of them looked like my friend Chris who plays music with us at church. The other guy looked like the actor Kevin Klein. I would think of them like that for the rest of the cruise. Once I’ve seen it or thought of it I can’t UNSEE it! We found one of the padded window seats to be empty and snagged it. I happened to notice something behind me and, lo and behold, a little pink duck was hiding on the window frame. Score! I dropped a duck in a stairwell on the way to dinner. I found a duck! I dropped off my "duck of the day". This night is my other favorite meal. I had spaghetti carbona for a starter and southern fried chicken from the entrée. Ron had a spring roll for a starter and the carbona for his entrée. I opted for a brownie for dessert and he had the banana cream pie. Gusti and Sadia were again super-fast, the food was really good, and we were again out of the dining room before showtime. We went straight to the theatre after dinner because it was time for Deal or No Deal. I picked up two cards and we settled in for a fun game. I made precisely one match on each of the two games. Ron won a Bingo package. Both of the contestants walked away with around $120 dollars. The big winner was a lady in the audience named Carmen. She won a 5-day cruise! I’ve never seen that happen before! Ready to play The game is starting Fingers crossed for this lady! Unfortunately, she only won $120. The big winner was... ...Carmen! She won a 5-day cruise! How awesome is that?!? After Deal or No Deal, they did a quick trivia game on classic TV. Ron only missed one, but it wasn’t enough. Someone had a perfect score. We decided to go back to the room for a minute. On the way down the stairs, we walked through a group of about 8 teenagers who were just sitting and chatting. As we walked by one of the boys said, “Well don’t you look snazzy tonight?” I immediately replied, “Every night is elegant night.” We all cracked up and I got a fist bump in return. I heard an older lady say that on my very first cruise fourteen years ago and I’ve been waiting all this time for the right setting to use that line. It may be one of those "you had to be there" moments because it doesn't seem nearly as funny as I type it out. LOL I usually never know what to say and always come up with what I SHOULD have said an hour later. I was glad I finally nailed it. We decided to go up on deck for a little while. I love the deck at night. The stars are beautiful, and everything is lit up like a Christmas tree. It’s so pretty! They still had cookies out from dinner, so I grabbed a few to take back to our cabin. We would snack on them occasionally for the rest of the week. We also got a Diet Pepsi. It had been a good day, but we were tired and ready for bed. Chugging along at 12.7 knots
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