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Everything posted by mlshum

  1. I’m curious now…. What is Karl’s real first name? Did I miss that somewhere!
  2. Thank you so much for reading along! One nice thing about the smaller ships is how easy it is to get from point A to point B. You're never too far from where you need to go. I confess, I'm a fan of the large ships. I loved Mardi Gras and Celebration. Horizon was probably my favorite so far, but Elation was such a sweet surprise. I've never had a bad cruise. I think many of us took our very first cruises on the Fantasy class ships and they will forever have a special place in our hearts. I also wonder about the bridges that you have to pass under in some places, Jacksonville being one of them. I don't believe it would be possible to fit one of the larger ships under that bridge. I guess they'll always need at least a few smaller ships for that very reason. Or.....people smarter than me will figure something out! LOL
  3. Thank you so much and thanks for coming back to read this one! I appreciate you! Thanks so much for reading along and you're very welcome! I hope it works as well for you as it did for me. I can't take much credit. My son suggested it. I really liked being able to see all the availability, with prices, in the various towns. It made the whole process so much easier. Thank you so much and thanks for reading along! Elation was such a pleasant surprise. I had sailed Fantasy class before, and it was fine, but this one was certainly the best of the small ships. Thank you so much and thanks for reading along! That sounds so much like Paul Harvey "The Rest of the Story"! LOL
  4. Thanks so much for coming along! I truly hope you enjoy the trip! I think I can remember reading about the training camps! Golf seems to be their favorite sport. The resort is owned by our governor and it’s a gorgeous facility. I would love to be able to stay a couple of days and try out some of the activities. Maybe someday…. Thanks for reading along!
  5. I think I remember passing a sign for Yulee. Is Kings Bay Naval Base in Kingsland? Please tell your son I said, “Thank you!” for his service. My dad was in Vietnam and I’m an “Air Force Brat” myself. LOL How awesome! We were the same way… we hadn’t done a Fantasy class for several years. I’d say Elation is the “pick of the litter”! Enjoy your cruise!
  6. Travel Day – April 28th As I said earlier, we had opted to leave right after church on Sunday morning and drive most of the way to Jacksonville. I am the pianist for our church and Ron plays bass guitar. While everyone on our worship team would understand if we decided to skip that day and leave earlier, we felt like we’d have plenty of time and didn’t want to make it difficult for anyone else. We loaded our luggage and headed to church. There are six musicians and two regular singers in our group. We meet every Sunday at 8:45 to get in a quick practice before the service starts at 10:30. Right after service we jumped in the car and headed south. Vacation mode at last! We made a quick stop for gas and lunch but mainly drove through the day. We were excited and ready to get this show on the road. We work really hard to be able to afford these vacations, so we were determined to enjoy every minute. Hitting the road! As we passed through states, I took pictures of road signs...just for fun. Just a couple of miles to reach Virginia... Then into North Carolina.... Next up was South Carolina. I thought I had taken a picture but apparently I missed it. Oops! Here's a stock photo from Google Images..... ....and finally into Georgia! By around 6pm, we had made it to Pooler, GA. We decided to stop for a bit of dinner. A road sign advertised a Chipotle, and we thought that sounded good, so we headed that direction. When we pulled into the parking lot, we realized that it was REALLY crowded… I mean “line all the way out of the front door” crowded. We quickly decided that we weren’t about to wait that long and opted to go next door to Five Guy’s Burgers and Fries. It wasn’t crowded at all. That works. I downloaded a new (to me) app called Hotel Tonight. It’s unusual for me to not make a reservation ahead of time but since I didn’t know how far we’d be traveling I thought this might be a better solution. While we were eating, I opened that app to see what was available. We also looked at a map to figure out what towns were approximately an hour north of Jacksonville. We settled on Brunswick, GA. We found a Holiday Inn Express right off I-95 in Brunswick. It was only $103 on the app. The app was super easy to use and in just a few minutes, I had booked the room, and we had a plan in place. We traveled about another hour before arriving in Brunswick. We simply followed the maps GPS directions and drove straight to the hotel. It was very nice, and the price was right. No complaints at all! We checked in. We were ready to NOT be driving for a while. I promise to start getting ACTUAL CRUISE pictures up tomorrow as soon as possible! Thanks! I'll be back!
  7. Thank so much for reading! I always love your reviews. I thought she was in amazing condition considering her age. I wouldn't hesitate to sail on her again. Thank you so much and thank you for reading along! I was so pleasantly surprised by Elation. I've sailed on three other Fantasy class ships....all retired now.....and Elation was, by far, my favorite. How wonderful! She is such a great ship! I was so impressed with her condition, the service, the FOOD....I won't spoil it for you because I have a lot of that coming up over the next few days but let me say, she is, by far, the best Fantasy class ship I've sailed. I hope you have an amazing trip!
  8. Thank you so much! I’m really glad you’re able to join me! Thanks so much! I will be sailing on the Spirit next year and I’m very excited about that! So glad you’re reading along! Thank you so much and I’m so glad you’ll be reading along with me! Hopefully I’ll be able to get a little more posted tonight.
  9. Yay! So glad you joined me! I wish I could post more but my lunch hour is over. Hopefully I'lll be back with a little more later tonight. Thanks again for reading along!
  10. Check-In Two weeks before the cruise and time to check-in. It just so happened that the check-in date corresponded with a trip I made to my parents. I live about 2.5 hours south of them. My mom wanted to take a day trip on Amtrak to the beautiful Greenbrier Resort and tour the bunker. Sounds like a plan! I’m in! My niece and great-niece joined us for the trip. We left Mom’s just a little before 7am on April 14th. She’s about an hour south of Charleston, our capital city. We caught the train at 8:30 and traveled to White Sulphur Springs, arriving around noon. None of us had ever visited the Greenbrier so it was really interesting to visit the grounds and wander around the inside. I’d seen lots of photos over the years and I was finally seeing it in person for the first time. Four generations...my mom, Donna; my niece, Sarah; and my great-niece, Gracelynn. What a treasure to be able to spend time with them! Traveling on Amtrak The beautiful Greenbrier Resort - we weren't allowed to take pictures in the Bunker. That's my sweet mom, Donna. I want to be just like her when I grow up! Isn't she beautiful?!? She'll be 80 next month. Waiting on the train One of the most interesting things about the Greenbrier is that there was a Cold War bunker constructed on the West Virginia Wing for the purpose of housing congress in the event of an attack on Washington. The Greenbrier is about 5 hours away from Washington, D.C by train. The bunker was a huge secret for 30+ years and was finally decommissioned in 1992 when the story broke in the Washington Post. Since it was after the Cold War and the secret was out, the government didn’t need it any longer. (If you’re interested in the bunker, there’s a lot of info online and a Dateline televised tour that aired in the 90’s.) We caught the train back to Charleston at 5pm and finally arrived back at Mom’s around 9:30. Now…I’ve told you all of that to say this……by this time, I was tired. Really tired. More tired than I expected to be. Why is this important, you may ask? Because I always stay up until midnight to check in and get the earliest possible boarding time. Some folks prefer a later time for a more relaxed boarding and the option of going straight to their cabin. I want to get on as early as possible to start exploring and get into full vacation mode. Either way is fine….there’s not really a “right” or “wrong”…..early is just our preference. Since we’re gold level (this will be our last cruise as gold!) all of the Platinum and Diamond guests who wanted to check in early had already done so. I stay up until the clock ticks over to the “next day” and get the earliest time still available to me. So….back from the Greenbrier at 9:30. I still had a little while to wait. Like I said, I was tired. I was having more trouble than usual staying up that late. (I’m usually in bed around 10:30 to 11ish.) I had this internal dialogue going: Me: I am so sleepy! Myself: Listen, you’ve got to push through. It’s time to check in! Me: Maybe it won’t matter this time? Myself: Of course it will matter! Don’t be lazy! You can do this! Finally, I won the battle (or lost, as the case may be) and at 12:01 I checked in. The earliest available time was 11am. I snagged it, closed my tablet and immediately fell asleep. I had done the best I could. Mission Accomplished!
  11. Here are some of the photos of our activities...... Liz receiving her award Proud of my girl! Andrew (my oldest son) and I on top of the work at the Raptor Observatory (no raptors were observed) A West Virginia mountain view from the observatory
  12. Background – What happened leading up to the cruise? Ho, ho, ho! Merry Christmas! Santa came through in a big way this year! (In my defense, my behavior was impeccable all year.) After getting so sick on our Celebration cruise in November, Ron (quality guy that he is!) gave me a short spring cruise for Christmas. Right after Christmas we booked a short, 5 day cruise on the smallest, oldest ship in the Carnival fleet…Elation. This would be the first time since 2019 that we have sailed on a Fantasy class ship, and we were very much looking forward to stepping back in time a little. Should be interesting since we’d just sailed on the biggest ship (at that time, Celebration) in the fleet at Thanksgiving. Biggest to smallest…newest to oldest! Since we didn’t get to do any snorkeling or diving on our November cruise and didn’t get to do ANY of our planned excursions, we decided to do our best to make sure that we would snorkel this trip. This cruise had stops in Princess Cay (which is supposed to have good snorkeling) and Nassau. We planned to snorkel in both locations. For this trip, we decided to drive instead of flying. This would only be the fourth time in about fourteen cruises that we’ve driven to our embarkation point. Jacksonville is approximately eight hours from home so the drive wouldn’t be much worse, time wise, than the time we’d spend waiting in airports, flying, and THEN driving home from the airport. This was our first time sailing from Jacksonville and our first visit to Princess Cay. Several firsts this trip! Time to begin researching. Yay! I came here to Cruise Critic to read some reviews of this ship and these locations. We’ve been to Nassau multiple times, but we keep finding new things to do there. We’ve snorkeled there before but this time we would be snorkeling with Stuart Cove’s Dive Bahamas. Their reviews were excellent, and they offered lots of options. I was also looking forward to seeing the new port area as construction was finally completed. Princess Cay is reported to be a good place to snorkel, both by some of the folks on Cruise Critic who have done it, vloggers that we like to follow AND our close friends who visited last fall and did some snorkeling. Sign me up! The countdown began. We weren’t having a bad winter at all in WV, so I stayed busy at work right up to time to sail. I also had some things to occupy me as I waited….my first 5K with my son, a good friend’s wedding, a hike to the Hanging Rock Raptor Observatory with my son, a trip with my mom, niece and great-niece to the Greenbrier Resort to tour the famous Greenbrier Bunker, an award ceremony where Liz, my “adopted” adult daughter, was being honored for excellence in her job, etc. I didn’t suffer too much with waiting this time! Since we were driving, we were planning to leave right after church on Sunday morning and drive until we were about an hour or so from Jacksonville. We would then get up the next morning and drive the rest of the way on embarkation day. Sounds like a plan.
  13. What follows is a study in opposites….old and new, large and small….and realizing that “newer and larger” doesn’t always men “faster and better”. Thanks for joining me as I tell you about our latest “adventure”! If you’re joining me for the first time, my name is Michelle and one of my favorite things to do is to travel with my BFF who is also my husband, Ron. Cruises are our favorite! We are both real estate appraisers and we try to go on a couple of cruises a year, if possible. The Caribbean is usually our “go to” choice. We live in the beautiful Mountain State of West Virginia, just a few miles from the southernmost Virginia border. Some call my stories reviews, some say trip reports but I call it a “story” because that’s what I’m doing…telling the story of our trip. I like to read stories of other Cruise Critic members’ cruises and I guess I tend to enjoy writing the same kinds of things that I like to read. My stories are not necessarily better or worse than a fact filled review or a LIVE report…just different. If you prefer to skip my telling of all the things that happened up until the time that I actually boarded the ship, that is fine. I get it! My feelings aren’t hurt! I’ll tell you my feelings and thoughts on the things that we experienced. We’re pretty easy to please, generally. We don’t spend much time in the casino, and I’ve never darkened the door of the spa because I just don’t like that type of thing at all. We DO like physical activities and games. I’m very much a “you do you” kind of person. I’m not upset if someone comes to the dining room wearing something outlandish. I might write about it, I might even sneak a picture, but it doesn’t offend me. It’s your vacation and you should absolutely do whatever makes you happy. I’ll do the same. If you want to skip ahead to where the cruise actually starts it’s labeled “Embarkation Day” BUT…if you’re here for ALL of it, the entire story, then you are MY “people”! Here we go!
  14. My mom does this! I put the butter on the bread myself. Gotta have one or the other, though!
  15. My heart goes out to Karl. He’s a good egg! He and Sakari are the kind of kids who give me hope for a bright future. Her thoughtfulness of him is commendable and rare. I hope Karl does try it again with a better instructor. My first attempt at diving was a horrible experience. I was, quite literally, pushed off the boat by the captain. I didn’t know that I had to hold my regulator in my mouth with my hand. When I hit the water it flew out of my mouth, nearly taking my teeth with it. After going down a long way and swallowing a good amount of seawater, I finally broke the surface and began coughing it all back up. The instructor thought that was pretty funny. She was diving with 8 new divers. I later learned that it was supposed to be a maximum of three. She chose me to do my skill test first. I tried but I was so shaken and upset at that point I just couldn’t do it. I gave up and got back on the boat. I was so embarrassed. She said, “I promise to take good care of your husband since you aren’t going” and down they went. I got my snorkel gear and snorkeled the rest of the time. I was absolutely mortified and ashamed of myself. After that experience I wanted so badly to prove to myself that I could do it but I was terrified at the very thought. The next year I worked up the courage to try it again in Cozumel. There was an in classroom class, only 3 students per instructor and I was able to gradually walk into the water. The instructor saw that I was shaking with fright and stayed with me the whole time. He was wonderful, I felt so much better about myself after that. Did I love it? No. Will I do it again? Maybe. But I was able to overcome my fear a little bit at least. Hopefully in the future Karl will have an opportunity to overcome his fear and have a good experience. With a fun and supportive bunch like you guys, I like his chances!
  16. What a relief! Definitely helps you feel better about their earlier shortcomings.
  17. The whale pics and your descriptions are amazing! I’m so glad you found them! I’m headed to Alaska next summer and seeing the whales is pretty much a bucket list item. Fingers crossed that my experience will be as good as yours! So sorry to hear about Karl’s seasickness. I have heard that is absolutely miserable. Glad he seems to have recovered quickly. You mentioned jumping off waterfalls in Dominican Republic. Was it the Waterfalls of Damajauga? We had a blast doing that, too! I always get excited when someone else mentions it. Lol Thanks for the review! Your reviews (and Jamman) were some of my favorites here on Cruise Critic and a big part of the reason I’ve started writing myself. Thank you!
  18. I love the sea lions! I kind of want to go, if for no other reason, to see them.
  19. Hey, so glad to see you back! I’ve missed reading your reviews! I’m all settled in to enjoy your cruise!
  20. ABC sounds awesome and I hope you have a wonderful trip! The waterfalls of Damajagua is pretty amazing but definitely not for the faint of heart. The hike in is pretty easy and takes about 40 minutes. Depending on the water levels, you might have differing numbers of waterfall jumps. The first jump is about 12ft, if I remember correctly. The highest jump we did was about 20 ft. It was fun and terrifying! Floating through the canyon was a lot of fun but the water is very murky and you can’t see the bottom. It requires a good bid of climbing over rocks, some slick, and sliding down natural water slides. If you’re interested, I did a Mardi Gras review and included lots of pictures from the excursion. Whatever you decide, I hope you have an awesome cruise!
  21. I don’t drink alcohol either and Carnival is my favorite!
  22. Thanks so much for the advice!
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