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Carnival Dream 2/19/11 - My 2nd trip report ever


jackdis

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I am loving your review!

 

One.. because we are going on the Dream.. with the same itinerary in August... and two, because we have three kids .. and just hearing about what your kids enjoyed helps!

 

A couple of questions...

 

How much is it for the Day Package to the Spa?

and... How crowded was Paradise Beach? We have been there years ago, and are torn between there and Nachi Cocum.

 

Looking forward to the rest, especially Belize!

Thanks,

Catrin

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I am loving your review!

 

One.. because we are going on the Dream.. with the same itinerary in August... and two, because we have three kids .. and just hearing about what your kids enjoyed helps!

 

A couple of questions...

 

How much is it for the Day Package to the Spa?

and... How crowded was Paradise Beach? We have been there years ago, and are torn between there and Nachi Cocum.

 

Looking forward to the rest, especially Belize!

Thanks,

Catrin

 

Thank you, Catrin! How exciting that you will be going on the Dream in August!

 

The day pass to the spa was $35 per person, but they only have a certain number each day. It depends on how many weekly passes are sold at the beginning of the cruise. I believe the weekly pass was approximately @250/couple or #150 per person.

 

Honestly, we were at Paradise Beach a few years ago as well, and it seemed more crowded this time. I think more people might know about it now! It was still ok. We probably got to the beach before 11 and there will still chairs to choose from. The pool area was not crowded at all. When we go back to Cozumel next time, I think we might try out another beach. I've read great things about Nachi. Love that it's limited to 100 guests per day.

 

Have a great day! Will post about Belize soon!

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TUESDAY, 2/22/11 - BELIZE

 

We were up bright and early today, had a good breakfast in the dining room, got the little one situated in Camp Carnival, and headed to the theater to wait to be called for our tender. And to wait, and to wait, and to wait……

 

But a little background before I go into more detail. Our friends had done the Carnival sponsored cave tubing excursion a few months prior, and raved about it. Several people we had talked to did not recommend doing something "on our own" in Belize. My husband and I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to do something special with our older daughter. As I mentioned, the little one went to Camp Carnival in the morning. Grami was onboard, so we had no worries. She actually picked her up for lunch, they did some mini golfing, used the pool and the slides, and then returned to Camp Carnival at 3:00 for PlayDoh time. (I only mention this because this was something that the little one was so excited about….PlayDoh time, of all things. We only have about 346 cans of the stuff at home. Got to love the minds of little ones!!!)

 

So, months before our trip, we booked "Cave Tubing - A FUN Adventure" directly through Carnival. As per the website, here is a description of the tour:

 

Excursion Description

 

Jump onto your tube, feel the excitement as you float into mysterious limestone archways beckoning you into the mouth of centuries old caves, holding untold stories of Maya rituals.**

Explore the many awesome formations that decorate these amazing caves and learn about the trees and jungle that surround them.**

Feel the rush of cool water as you meander down small rapids, letting the currents guide you.

Board a comfortable air-conditioned motor coach at the pier and begin your journey to the jungle playground that is “Jaguar Jungle Camp”.*

Marvel at the diversity of the city and the expanse of the country as you travel past mangroves, savannah and small villages.*

Fun and informative local guides will impart local information and when you turn off the highway onto a rugged country road you know you are nearing the caves!

At Jaguar Jungle Camp the river guides will greet you and outfit you for your river and cave adventure, a short safety briefing and it’s off to the clear cool waters of Caves branch River.

Just relax and lay back in your tube, listen to the sound of falling water and let your imagination take over as your guide leads you through the currents that continue to carve and shape these natural wonders.

Exhilarated from your adventure, you make your way out of the river and up to the “Bush-camp Café” where you can purchase a snack and drink and reflect on the marvelous expedition you have just completed with friends and family, before heading back to the pier.

 

Note:* Recommend to take a beach towel, change of clothes. Snacks, souvenirs and mosquito repellant are available for purchase. This tour is not suitable for persons with disabilities, heart conditions, back or leg problems. All guests must be in good physical condition and able to walk on a jungle trail for approximately 35 min. Guest will be linked together when the river has a higher volume of water and when going through the caves.* Helmets, lights and life jackets are provided and are mandatory.*Minimum age is 8, and additionally, minimum height is 48 inches. Pregnant women are not permitted on this excursion.

 

Back to the theater, and waiting for our tender…..we were among the first groups to be called for tendering, but that still was closer to about 9:30. Apparently, there were some winds that were delaying the tenders a bit. Now for what seemed like months, we weren't sure if we would even be going to Belize, due to Carnival and the tender operators not agreeing on certain issues, but, after what seemed like months of waiting, we were called!! I was shocked by the distance of the tender to Belize. Now I have only tendered once and it was a few minute ride at most. This was at least a 15 minute tender ride, if not more. Our home away from home for the week was far out from the port. The tender ride was fine. It went pretty quickly and it was much bigger than the other tend I had been on before.

 

Once off the tender, we were directed to a line to board our bus. It was a large, air conditioned coach style bus. Two guides were with us on the bus, and they gave us a history on Belize and pointed out things as were driving to the jungle. I must say, it was interesting, and I learned quite a bit from them. The bus ride was over an hour long, and by the end, on the "rugged country road" as described above, I was ready to get out and go cave tubing!! I must say, it was more like a bumpy, unmaintained road, but I'll let "rugged" slide to keep with the jungle theme. (Potholes after a long winter can pretty much sum it up as well!)

 

We got to the site, but not before we rode yet another bus - an old school bus, but luckily just for a minute or two, up and down a steep hill, which added to the adventure of this whole ride so far. There were lots of people!!! You were ushered to the lockers to put your things away ($5 for a small one) and then put into groups of 8 people with your guide. You were then given a tube, your life jacket was put on you, and you were outfitted with a helmet with a light on it, and the hike began!! It was about a 30 minute hike up to the caves. We did not rent the water shoes there. Instead we brought our own. Make sure you have sturdy water shoes, because it isn't the smoothest terrain. Not terrible, but bumpy. We also brought bug spray with us, which we didn't use, since they told us it was not the season for it…..I'm still not quite sure about that statement????? But we were fine. (Even though the guide kept telling us to keep moving or the fire ants would crawl up our legs. I think he just wanted us to move it.) We all made it to the caves, and yes, my dear husband carried my tube for part of the way. Thanks, babe! But we were ready for the real adventure to begin!!

 

Up next…..What???? You want me to "fall" backwards into the tube from the dock???? I have to trust a total stranger with this?? Do you promise you won't let go of the tube when I let myself fall into it????????

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Love the review so far!

 

Thank you for confirming my decision to not leave the ship at Belize. I don't like little boats so the idea of tendering doesn't thrill me at the best of times but hearing how long the tender is plus the waiting in the lounge on top of that - well, it clinches it. I'll make it another relaxing sea day for me! ;)

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Oh! I'm waiting with baited breath about how you got into your tube! Can't wait to hear more about your trip and what you thought of the Carnival tubing excursion.

 

Love the review so far!

 

Thank you for confirming my decision to not leave the ship at Belize. I don't like little boats so the idea of tendering doesn't thrill me at the best of times but hearing how long the tender is plus the waiting in the lounge on top of that - well, it clinches it. I'll make it another relaxing sea day for me! ;)

 

Thank you! Thank you!! I appreciate all the kind words!

Next installment tomorrow.......

But in the meantime, cave tubing was great!!!!

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I am loving your review!! Can't wait to read the rest!! We April 2nd on the Dream :)

 

Did you get to try the Thalassotherapy Pool? I am trying to decide if I want to try myself!

 

Thank you! Yes, we got a day pass to the spa. I loved the thalasso pool and the various steam rooms that were included. I wish I was sitting on one of the heated stone chairs right now, with that beautiful ocean view!!!

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BELIZE - CAVE TUBING CONTINUED…..

 

Once we arrived at the top of the jungle mountain that I felt like I had just climbed, we were quickly ushered to a dock near the opening of the cave. It all happened very quickly, as to keep people moving, I suppose, but basically, you were pushed, ok - gently nudged - into a waiting tube that was behind you. Praying that my rear end would land in the tube and not in the river, I was thrilled when I was in the tube that I/we had been carrying for the last half hour. (It wasn't heavy….I don't want to scare off any prospective cave tubers here!)

 

The water was "refreshing." That is the word that the tour guide kept using, and well, he was right. It was refreshing, aka cold! But it did feel "refreshing" after our mini hike. (Plus it's really just your bottom that gets wet.) Eight tubes were linked together, two side by side, four tubes long in length, and we were on our way. IT WAS AMAZING!!! Once we were in the cave, the guide had us look back….the scene was breathtaking…..You were in the dark cave, and you could see the opening where you just entered and beyond that was the jungle. So pretty!!!

 

Right away, we got some clarification about bats. Thank goodness. There would be "sparrows" flying around, since bats are nocturnal and we were there during the day. I'm not sure if I really bought this. But he reassured us that the flying things would not attack us, or even come close to us. The guide then told us there would not be any leeches or snakes in the water either. WHAT????? I hadn't even thought about that possibility!! Again, I just hoped that he knew his stuff. He did say there would be fish, but I didn't see, or feel, any. Thank goodness! And he did mention that the piranhas only go near people who pee in the water! Funny boy!!!

 

It really was all amazing, interesting and beautiful……the fact that these rivers have been flowing for thousands and thousands and thousands of years and worn away the limestone to form these paths through the caves is fascinating. Would I recommend this tour to others? Yes!! Our daughter loved it too. I'm so glad we did it.

 

There were a few somewhat open places in the caves..not many…and the light coming through into the caves was spectacular as well. At one point, it reminded me of an old Indiana Jones movie. It looked like an altar before us. I was waiting for the "currents" that were mentioned in the tour description. I think I pictured them more as rapids, which they were not. In two areas, the water sped up a tiny bit, where two rivers came together. No sudden drop, no Splash Mountain, you only got wet (except for your rear end) if you splashed yourself. The helmet really was for light, not for any whitewater rapid cave tubing I thought we might be doing.

 

After maybe about 45 minutes in the caves, our experience was almost over. It was relaxing, as the tour description mentioned. We had enough time to get change and get a snack and a drink back at Bushwhack Camp…not the correct name, I know. And then it was back on the old school bus for a quick ride over the hill to our Coach that would take us back to the pier. The tour guides did not really talk to us on the ride back. They gave us a little snack. We pulled over and went back to see a crocodile, but it had left from the noise of the bus. We did see a few iguanas. Very cool!! And we ALL napped on the bus ride back to the pier.

 

It was a great tour and I was so glad that we booked it!!

 

Getting back to the pier area, the bus pulled as close as it could to the entrance of the secure area. I didn't understand why they pulled SOOO close, until I looked out the window and saw all the vendors that were not permitted into the secure area, but were right outside the gate. To put it into perspective….I was in the first row of the bus with my daughter. My husband was right behind us. We were maybe 10 feet from the secure entrance. Besides already holding things up to us through the bus window, we were SWARMED by vendors in those few steps to the secure area. I did not feel threatened in any way. But it was intense. Also, I must point out that I did see quite a few rifle bearing soldiers/police at various locations from the bus, such as the gas station, while on the tour.

 

Cave tubing in Belize is something that we will not forget. I am glad we had the opportunity to experience it. It really was one of the best tours I have taken while on a cruise.

 

We were excited to get back onboard and see how the little one's day went. (All was good!) We did a little swimming and definitely a good shower before dinner, after being in the rivers with the non existent leeches and fish!! And, according to our river guide, the interesting fact of the day was that the round holes you see when you look up in the caves, right next to the amazing stalactites, are caused by the ammonia from the urine of the bats when they are hanging in the caves. It eats away the limestone. SEE, I knew there were bats in there!!!!!

 

Up next: Wed., 2/23: ROATAN!! We can't wait!! We are so excited!! We've never been there before!! The little one can't wait to see the howler monkeys…..

WHAT?? We're not going?? REALLY?????

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I'm really enjoying reading about your trip and the cave tubing! Just wondering how you were attached to each other in the tubes. Did you have to paddle down the river or did a guide push you? I've heard the river is running low.

 

So glad you enjoyed it!

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I'm really enjoying reading about your trip and the cave tubing! Just wondering how you were attached to each other in the tubes. Did you have to paddle down the river or did a guide push you? I've heard the river is running low.

 

So glad you enjoyed it!

 

Thank you! We did not have to paddle. The guide kind of moved us along when we weren't floating on our own. The front and back two tubes were tied together. We had to link our feet under the armpits of the person in front of you. Sounds gross, I know, but it really wasn't bad. I also held onto the handle of the tube next to me, and that lady held mine. It was all good!

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No! Where did you go??? Must have more...

 

In the beginning you wrote that you switched from a Cove balcony to deck 8.

"Were we sorry we didn't stay with the cove? Was our regular balcony cabin a good choice? More about that later….."

Well? I am trying to decide between a Cove and a much higher deck.

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No! Where did you go??? Must have more...

 

In the beginning you wrote that you switched from a Cove balcony to deck 8.

"Were we sorry we didn't stay with the cove? Was our regular balcony cabin a good choice? More about that later….."

Well? I am trying to decide between a Cove and a much higher deck.

 

Thank you! I'm back!!!

I hope you enjoy the next installment! Please let me know if you have any other questions.

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WED., 2/23 - ROATAN

 

Well, here it was. We were more than midway through our cruise. I must say, the time FLEW by! Our 4 cruises felt longer than this for some unknown reason.

 

Anyway, back to the trip report….

 

We were so excited about seeing beautiful Roatan first hand. We had read so much about it. We had heard how amazing it was. And we had heard wonderful things about Bodden Tours. So we booked a private driver for the day, with plans for the husband and the older daughter to zipline, for the little one to see the monkeys, and then to tour the island and possibly hit up a beach. Victor (Bodden) was such a pleasure to deal with. My emails were always promptly responded to, and I could just tell that he was a friendly man.

 

We ate our usual breakfast in the dining room and then the announcement came…..The winds were too strong and our big old boat would not be docking in Roatan.

 

I was not surprised…..I had read enough on the computer and on these boards to know that this happens at times with the Dream. Her size can be a bit of a problem when coupled with winds that might not bother "smaller" ships. I was not angry, as others were. Safety comes first. I was laughing because, I swear, I saw and heard people jump up from the dining room, mid meal, to go pursue their alternate lifestyles of chair hogging. Really!!! People jumped up because our Roatan day had now become a sea day, and we all know what that means…….heaven forbid the family of 5 that really only has one person who sits on a lounger isn't able to block off 6-8 chairs with towels for the day. And might I mention that said one person probably only sits in the chair for a total of 20 minutes all day…..ha ha ha!!! (Our family of four is a one chair group…..that's usually all we need. Maybe now the older daughter has taken an interest in tanning next to Mom, but two is more than enough. I just don't get why people need a chair for every member of the group if they are not planning on sitting. And believe me, I have seen people save seat after seat with towels, old tattered paperbacks and empty suntan lotion bottles. Props, too. Wow! Those are professional chair hogs, I must say!!!)

 

All kidding aside……I was sad to be missing our Bodden tour. That was a highlight of this trip for us, but what are you going to do? Things happen. Cruising is always the unpredictable, as with any kind of travel. Stuff happens. And you must go with this attitude. I am not going to let something that is beyond my control ruin my vacation.

 

A tiny part of me didn't mind the extra at sea day….a day of relaxing sounded pretty good about now. And now I knew that we would have to make sure we get to Roatan in the future!!!

 

Announcements were made. Revisions were made for an extra sea day. Kids clubs activities were added and a new and updated Fun Times was soon given to all guests. We headed back to our cabin after breakfast and that is when we actually saw CD Butch from our balcony moving STACKS of chairs himself and kindly telling people he would find them perfect spots to sit in. I think I might have mentioned it before, and it bears repeating if I did, Butch did an outstanding job as Cruise Director. He was available. He was a hard worker. He was funny. And most importantly, he was a nice and genuine person.

 

Now is a good time as any to mention our cabin. We were midship on Deck 8. Great location. Nice sized room, by cruise cabin standards. More than enough space and storage for the 4 of us. The balcony was nice. As always, the views were spectacular and relaxing from the balcony. Just you and the sea, if you were sitting down, that is. As many have reported on these boards, Deck 5 on the Dream goes out further than the decks above it. That's the easiest way I can explain it. So when you are looking straight down from your balcony, you do not see the ocean. You see Deck 5. And directly under us was one of the hot tubs that hang out over the ocean.

 

When we first checked into the room and I saw this, I had concerns that the noise from Deck 5 would be loud and that people would be in the hot tubs at all hours. Not the case at all. The hot tubs closed for the night relatively early. I'm sorry I can't remember the exact time, but it was peaceful on our balcony. In fact, if people watching is your thing, it's a great location as well, if you are standing up and looking down. Some on the boards also mentioned the lack of privacy since people below can see you on your balcony. Again, if you were sitting, they could not. And if you were standing and looking over, yes, they could, but truth be told, I didn't walk around much on deck 5, but when I did, I really wasn't looking up as I did. People tend to be focused on where they are going and not looking up while walking ahead. (OK, there are a few that don't pay attention to where they are going, so they might have been looking up!!)

 

I really wanted to check out a cove balcony when we boarded the ship and the cabins were available, but I never did. I imagine it is nice being so close to the waterline. THAT is an uninterrupted ocean view, I'm sure. My mom's cabin was on deck 2, not a cove, just an aft window - which was a great sized room, by the way - but they did mention that when we were docked the noise of the waves crashing on the bottom of the ship was quite loud.

 

I feel that our upgrade to a regular balcony was well worth the approx. $100. I liked being higher up, and the deck 5 extension didn't bother me. It worked for us, and the location was a good one.

 

After dinner that night, we had big plans. A little bit of kids club for the kids, and we were all going to the tryouts for the Legend show. The Legends show is on the last night of the cruise. It's basically a show of singers, different legends throughout music history, such as Elvis, Elton John, James Brown, Aretha, Madonna, and Sinatra, amongst others. My husband was trying out. He was pursuing the role of Old Blue Eyes himself. He sang Come Fly With Me for the tryout. Of course, I'm biased, but he was awesome. By audience vote, he was chosen to be Frank!!!! We were so excited for him. He was thrilled! It was a good night!!

 

Up next: A family day at Costa Maya, and some wardrobe, costume and rehearsals for the husband!!!

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THURSDAY, 2/24 - COSTA MAYA

 

We had been to Costa Maya on one other cruise (I believe in 2009) and it was right after a major hurricane that devastated this little area of Mexico (Hurricane Dean, perhaps). There is a commercial port and shopping area right off the ship, complete with a big pool with a swim up bar, with your ship in clear view in the background. We ended our last visit at this location, but we also went to Majahual, a tiny little fishing village area, both this time and last.

 

The last time we went, the roads were gone, there were not many buildings, the area was almost desolate and just starting to rebuild in a few places, but it was worth the visit. We got massages on the beach for maybe $25, cervezas were insanely inexpensive, and all in all it was a good day.

 

We planned on visiting Majahual once again this trip. I really think it is a hidden gem when going to Costa Maya….well, maybe not so hidden anymore. We took a bus to the Malecon area for $2 per person, and took a cab back for $3 per person. The roads were rebuilt and there were many more buildings/businesses open, but the beers were still a great deal….$10 for 6 Coronas!!! We were seated on the beach area, and the waiter comes from across the little walkway with food and drinks for your liking. There was no charge for chairs, etc. on the beach…..just the cost of food and drinks you consume.

 

The food was a little more expensive than the beers. We had quesadillas and chips and guacamole, but still very well worth it in my book. Vendors do come up to you on the beach, but a polite "No, thank you" and they were on their way. We did get the girls two bracelets with their names on it for $5 each. They really hadn't asked for very much and this little thing made them so happy! (Negotiate freely…I think he started at $15 or $20 each. Really???? No way I was paying that!)

 

It was just a relaxing time at the beach and nice last port of call to visit on the Carnival Dream.

 

We went to dinner that night, saw the family version of the comedy show. The older daughter started complaining of a stomach ache….she went downhill pretty quickly. And a few hours later, I started feeling the same. Was it the quesadillas in Costa Maya? The only other thing we had eaten in common was our favorite, the warm chocolate melting cake…..

 

The husband's rehearsal for the Legends show was tomorrow - our last sea day. Would we make it to the show that night? What do you mean you can't find toast, a banana or something bland for us to eat on this ship that has so much food all over the place??? Really? You got us cheeseburgers and pizza for our sick stomachs???? Stay tuned…..

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…I was sad to be missing our Bodden tour. That was a highlight of this trip for us, but what are you going to do? Things happen. Cruising is always the unpredictable, as with any kind of travel. Stuff happens. And you must go with this attitude. I am not going to let something that is beyond my control ruin my vacation.

 

No no no no NO!!! This is Cruise Critic. There is an expectation that you are supposed to write about never cruising with Carnival again and how your entire YEAR has been ruined because Carnival didn't schedule the weather conditions at a more convenient time for you! ;)

 

Enjoying the review and am looking forward to more. Any pics?

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No no no no NO!!! This is Cruise Critic. There is an expectation that you are supposed to write about never cruising with Carnival again and how your entire YEAR has been ruined because Carnival didn't schedule the weather conditions at a more convenient time for you! ;)

 

Enjoying the review and am looking forward to more. Any pics?

 

LOL......That's great! That's so funny! I've got tears rolling down my face!!!

I'm glad you are enjoying the review!! Sorry, no pics in the review!

Still laughing at your comment! That is funny!!!:):):D:D

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As I am sitting here in bed recovering from 7 days of the flu, it was nice to open your review. You have a fun writers voice. I'm looking forward to the rest. We went on the Dream western in February 2010 and were blessed to have made it to all ports and I fell in love with Roatan (we also used VB). So much that we are doing a very similar iten. next month on the Legend and getting the same guide for the day. I really hope you get there because it is amazing.

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Enjoying the review so far, you're doing a great job! Thanks for taking the time to post it. Only 1 question for ya so far. We're taking the Dream on June 4th for the Eastern route, I saw this outtake...............

My mom's cabin was on deck 2, not a cove, just an aft window - which was a great sized room, by the way -

just curious as to what cabin # she had, we have a good sized ocean view cabin booked on deck 2,and I was wondering if it may be the same one, and if so, do you have any pics? Thanks!

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Enjoying the review so far, you're doing a great job! Thanks for taking the time to post it. Only 1 question for ya so far. We're taking the Dream on June 4th for the Eastern route, I saw this outtake...............

 

just curious as to what cabin # she had, we have a good sized ocean view cabin booked on deck 2,and I was wondering if it may be the same one, and if so, do you have any pics? Thanks!

 

Thank you so much! I believe it was 2495. Sorry, no pics. Just googled it and saw that it was described as a "greater sized cabin" in some online information. Maybe there are some pictures out there somewhere. Thanks again!

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As I am sitting here in bed recovering from 7 days of the flu, it was nice to open your review. You have a fun writers voice. I'm looking forward to the rest. We went on the Dream western in February 2010 and were blessed to have made it to all ports and I fell in love with Roatan (we also used VB). So much that we are doing a very similar iten. next month on the Legend and getting the same guide for the day. I really hope you get there because it is amazing.

 

Thank you!

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