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All Things EARTH... part 2


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Laurie!  That is the best Christmas present ever for both of you!!!  Arthritis isn’t great, but it sure beats cancer!!!  I actually wondered if it’d be good news when the appt was changed to before Christmas  (docs like to give good news before holidays)


Fabulous Christmas Eve with entire family yesterday. We had our soup & Swedish meatball & panini extravaganza & ugly sweater cookie decorating contest. I’m not sure I’ve ever laughed so hard. We were each given a secret ingredient that had to be incorporated on our cookie. Altoid, cashew, Swedish meatball, craisen, etc. I have some crafty kids & grandkids!!  I’ll post a couple of pictures later. 

Merry Christmas & healthy New Year to all!!!  Melody

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The arthritis is half of it, actually.  They have been trying to figure out if he has two different things going on, or if it was cancer.  The worst symptoms spelled out leukemia, but thank goodness, he doesn't have it.


The other issue, which we think they are going to research next, is a cyst at the opening of the pancreas.  We will have to see what they think of that.  


Still, I am so encouraged to see him looking and feeling better than he has in a while.


Christmas was wonderful for us.  I promised my husband that I'd watch some football with him while we eat some leftovers for lunch, so I will add details later.


I feel so blessed, and so grateful.


In the meantime, I want to leave you all with a thought: do you find yourself drawn towards purchasing certain things?  I tend to buy as needed these days, but when it comes to gym attire, I seem to want it all.  Isn't that weird?  


My husband has purchased a few athleisure type items (not gym wear) at Dick's Sporting Goods that I love for this time of the year.  They look like a knit pullover with a hood, but it has the softest lining.  It's really lightweight, but warm.  It feels a bit luxurious because it so soft.


Anita, they may be good for you in Florida for when you get the occasional cooler days.  It doesn't look or feel heavy but will keep you comfy.

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I hope everyone enjoyed a lovely holiday! We got home late Monday after caring for relatives. Fortunately the situation is stable now and there is hope that DH's aunt will make a full recovery. We plan to go down again in January to check on things.


We still haven't had our Christmas yet since we left all our presents at the lake, and we won't be back there until early next week. DH is having phone issues and his new one won't arrive until perhaps Monday, so we have to stick around the apartment for a bit.


It's weird to think that we will be cruising again in just about four weeks! I know the Omicron cases look bad in NY but that is partly because there is so much testing going on, including families before getting together in groups just to be safe, and kids coming home from college for a bit. We are testing on Friday before visiting our friends for NYE since the husband is on immune-suppressant drugs for his medical condition. There are a lot of asymptomatic positives from all the testing going on, so everyone is being super careful about protecting loved ones at this time of year, and it's very easy to find a test site here.


So, I finally have some photos to share. Fair warning that we have very few of ourselves, and I didn't focus on outfit pictures this cruise.


I have problem nails and my manicures don't last long, maybe a week at the most. So I decided to try Color Street Nails, which I found at a local craft/vendor fair. I got two free demo nails and bought a set just in case they worked out. In fact the demos lasted 10 days so I was happy. I chose a blush/nude color for the cruise since my nails are short. They did make it through the cruise but just barely. I don't know if the salt water and chlorine had an effect, but they had some crackle by the end.




When we left LGA it was cold and cloudy, but made for a pretty sky. Weird to think it has been almost 2 years since I'd been on a plane. The airport wasn't very crowded, and we spent a relaxing hour or so in the Sky Lounge having some lunch before the flight. One of the nice perks of DH's credit card.



When we got to the Hilton FL Marina Hotel, the Sky Princess was berthed right across the street. She's pretty but soooo big. The convention center is right next door and there is a lot of construction going on there.



View of the intracoastal from our hotel balcony. We were happy with our hotel choice for many reasons, but this was number one.





The hotel restaurant was under renovation so lunch and dinner was available from the tiki bar. There were tables and chairs under a tent, and bistro tables with chairs near the bar. The food was actually quite good.


Edited by MJC
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Waking up to CB across the street was exciting. We could see our cabin from the lobby!



We got to the terminal at 10am, were through the embarkation process in about 8 minutes, and sat in the Platinum lounge until 10:50, listening to a dj playing fun songs.



I have to admit I was a little emotional when we boarded and the crew was lined up clapping as we entered. We were on the first sailing of CB post-pandemic and excitement was in the air.



The Atrium



This was our first Medallion cruise. It turned out to be so easy and convenient, we really liked the new technology. It certainly streamlined the embarkation process for us.


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Margaret, you & hubby look great. Glad the family medical issues are resolving. 

relaxing NYE here, going to gorge ourselves on hamburger, rotel & Velveeta cheese in my little crockpot with Doritos & some bubbly, maybe football or a movie & leftover cookies. Melody

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Margaret, since we both cruised at the same time but on different lines, I love to see what is the same and what is different.  


I hadn't posted this picture yet, but when I got on board I was hoping for Christmas decorations.  That is something I have always wanted to see.  There was some garland up, but it wasn't lit and that was it.  However, a few days in, the tree went up and then they turned on the lights.  It was so beautiful to see.





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We had our traditional Chinese food for dinner last night (definitely not as good as New England Chinese food, but not bad). Finally getting some snow, hope it puts out those horrendous fires in Boulder & Denver. Very cold, -11 at 6am, brrr, glad I’m not going anywhere!!!  Happy New Year everyone, stay healthy!!!  Melody

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Laurie as the week progressed there were more and more Christmas decorations and trees around the ship. We have never done a Christmas cruise but the photos I've seen of them are so pretty.


Our cabins were so similar in layout. Given that we thought we'd be spending a lot of time in our cabin, we were so happy with the extra space and the large balcony. We also made it a point to use them! We had the suite tea on our balcony twice, and on sea days I LOVE to sit on the lounger and watch the ocean, napping and reading. One night we went out to stargaze and had an amazing view of Jupiter and later on Orion was splayed out above the horizon.


All our favorite places are aft on the Grand Class ships, so we were snug as a bug back there, and the aft elevators are not as crowded.


This is called a Vista Suite. It is the least expensive suite class except for the Window Suites which don't have a balcony and are located near the casino.













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Two small things that I love about suites on Princess: the fruit bowl, which is replenished daily, and the toiletries because I don't have to bring my own shampoo and conditioner.  I can't use the shampoo/conditioner combos that they have now in the regular cabins.

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Margaret, lovely suite. We’ve never sailed on Princess, how’s the food? Are any beverages included?


I’m surprised you can use the shampoo on board, I always found it stripped my color (when I was using color). Melody

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Margaret, you have sailed RCI before...,would you say your room was more like a grand suite or junior suite?  I was thinking JS from the looks of it.  I ask because Alaska is on our bucket list, and I have heard that Princess has great pricing for those.  I told my husband a while back that it was likely that Alaska would be on a Princess ship.  I have heard some people saying that currently, RCI is offering some very competitive pricing these days.


I have often felt that I would love to be onboard closer to Christmas, when ships were fully decorated.  I am not sure if they were done decorating Serenade or not.  She is older and smaller, with no promenade.


I tried the shampoo on board.  It did not bother me.  Generally speaking, I find that my hair is usually much more cooperative on vacation.  We have hard water at home, and my hair tends to be rather flat from it.  Since my hair color is intended to match my natural color so that I won't have to keep coloring, I can't say if it stripped the color any.  I have lots of gray coming through, something you really can't see in the black and white photos I posted previously.  


For me, my issue is the eczema I get, and it comes and goes as it pleases.  During colder weather, it gets worse.  The only thing i find that irritates it seems to be all the essential oils shampoos and conditioners that are out now.  I thought that having an oil integrated would be moisturizing, but they really bother me.   I'm not sure why.


I need to hear some pointers from both of you, Margaret and Melody, on sailing from Galveston because I booked the cruise!  I went with a balcony room this time.  I figure that airfare and transportation will be more, so the savings on the room will help offset it.


So far, that is all I have done - book the cruise.  I wanted you both to tell me about where you stayed, and what you liked about the location.  I like to be close to the port, and use the hotel's transportation to the pier.  I want to be able to walk around to restaurants and so forth.


I always fly in a day early.  We sail on Sunday, so that means Saturday.  While I would love to tack on an extra day, I don't think we will be for this one.  The time zone difference is an hour, I think?  I know that when we sailed from San Diego, it took me a bit to adjust but I think I will manage with an hour fairly well.


We had a fruit bowl in our grand suite.  I thought that was really nice.  We also had bottles of water they left for us...I think 6 of them?  and then a large bottle of a fancier water.


And I take back my thought about that looking like a JS.  It is definitely a little bigger, and having both a tub and shower is pretty cool.  I don't think RCI has that at all.


Were you on a newer ship or older one?


Melody, we had a white Christmas, but not a lot of snow.  We have had mostly warmer weather and rain.  Today, it is much cooler and in the teens.  It sure is strange weather.


I know that Anita has indicated she isn't online as much lately, but if she is looking in every now and then, I hope you had a nice holiday!


Our New Year was low key.  I made pizza for dinner, and we watched a movie and lots of football.  New Year's Day, we put away the decorations and yesterday we took down the trees.  I think I decorate too much, because it took about 7 hours altogether.

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Laurie, on Royal we had a junior suite with balcony. There is not a comparison to that on Princess: it is bigger than a minisuite, which is the first balcony category on P that gets you a sofa instead of one chair and the desk chair (but has no suite perks, so a misnomer). I would say our Vista suite was more like a Grand Suite on Royal, though from looking at the plans I want to say there seems to be more of a sense of separation between LR and BR on Princess because of how the entry/bath/walkin closet is configured, making a partial divider between the two on the side away from the windows. The setup feels a lot like two rooms, and there is a curtain you can draw across the opening. Nice when only one wants to nap.


Caribbean Princess is an older ship. I think it was the second or third of the Grands? She is one of three with the "shopping cart handle" for Skywalkers, the nightclub. We love it up there. Princess is just rolling out the last of its current Royal class ships (which we don't like as well). The new Sphere class will have LNG for fuel. DH has already said never ever to those. 🙂


Melody, the food was delicious. The crew/passenger ratio was in our favor, everything was cooked right and arrived hot or cold as needed. The variety was excellent. The pacing was custom. The only beverages included are juices, basic coffee, and tea. There is a soda package that DH buys, and there is a Premier drinks package that includes everything except top tier liquor and bottled wine... so scotch etc, cocktails, wine by the glass, beer, specialty coffees, smoothies, soda, bottled water etc. People say that you would have to have 15 drinks per day for it to be economical. If one person wants it, everyone in the cabin has to purchase it (for obvious reasons).


P also has a basic cruise fare and a Plus fare. Plus fare includes the beverage package, tips, internet.


I would never in a million years do a Christmas cruise lol. I enjoy seeing the pictures of them, but the crowds would be a no for us even before the pandemic. Now that I am not teaching, we will never do a cruise during spring break either. Yay.


Laurie, we did not sail from Galveston. We stayed in Houston and also at the Kemah Boardwalk, so I'm sorry I can't be of help. At that time Princess was using the Houston Bayport terminal, which has been repurposed for importing cars. After the oil spill debacle, none of the cruise lines renewed their contracts there.


Our NYE was very quiet. We were supposed to have dinner with two other couples, but the husband on immune suppressant drugs had his son (home from college) test positive for covid, so they were all sequestered in different rooms in their apartment and had to cancel dinner. 😞


One of my board colleagues is a hospital doctor, and he said the situation where he works is bad. We can tell by the number of ambulances going past us from our community hospital to the big one in Manhattan. Delta is still about 50% of cases even though Omicron is getting the news. So, be careful everyone, and let's get through the wave.


It was 28 this morning so we don't plan to go anywhere!




Edited by MJC
bad writing lol
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Laurie. Galveston can be a challenge. Fly into Houston Hobby (it’s a hub for Southwest). It’s an hour closer to Galveston than Houston Bush. Don’t book a return flight home before 2pm, Galveston tends to have delayed returns due to fog. Don’t rent a car, there’s nowhere to return one in Galveston on Sunday. Either Galveston Limo (little pricey, but fabulous service) or Galveston Express (shuttle service).

We’ve stayed at 4 different hotels there. Three on the Seawall, Hotel Galvez (very historic), Hilton Resort (very nice) & holiday inn (wouldn’t send a bad dog there). This last time we stayed at Harbor House & if we cruise out of Galveston again that’s where we’ll stay. It’s pricey but so convenient. We walked with our luggage to the ship, about 500 yards!  The hotel is easy walking distance from The Strand (a historic shopping district). Great restaurants very close to hotel. We really liked Katie’s & Willie Gs. 

what ship are you on?  Liberty leaves Galveston in October & will be replaced by Allure.  Melody








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Here are some photos from our pre-cruise stay at the Hilton.  We were on the 6th floor looking north over the pool and the intracoastal.




We originally planned to arrive at lunch time and hang at the pool for the afternoon, but once they required a pre-cruise test within 2 days, we had pushed our flights back to test in the morning, so we arrived at the hotel around 6. It was already getting dark. The next day we spent the morning by the pool and walked to a late lunch at Carrabas. I spent the rest of the afternoon reading on the balcony and watching the boats. It was lovely! We heard the Sky's horn as she left... the newer ships play the beginning of the Love Boat theme song. It made me so happy to hear it!




After embarkation we had a perfect view of the hotel we had just left! Some people prefer this side of the hotel so they can see the ships come and go, but it is a little noisier on the balconies because of the bridge traffic. Plus they are in full sun most of the day. We were happier on the other side.


The water taxi leaves from an area just across the street from the Hilton. We didn't use it but it is very convenient if you want to shop or sightsee a bit.




My home away from home for the week.




Leaving Fort Lauderdale. It was gorgeous.



Edited by MJC
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Margaret, I remember the oil spill and you getting stuck at port for an extra day or two.  I knew it was Texas, I just wasn't sure of the port itself.  


Melody, the cruise I booked is on Liberty.  It leaves October 9th, which is before they bring in Allure.


Before my cruise, I had really nice nails for months.  Then a week and half before our sailing date, I broke a few.  My nails grow fast, so I figured they might catch up.  Then I broke one of them again and then another one, so they were all different lengths.  Only one was broken down very short, so when I went in for a manicure, a few nails had acrylic tips put on.  I go for gel most of the time, because a regular manicure will only last me about two days.


After I got back, I decided I'd get them done again.  At that stage, it was almost all my own nails, except for one.  Then yesterday, I got them done again, and they are truly my own nails -  so much, much thinner. The polish gives them strength but it is not heavy like it waas with the tips on. I've been getting a dip manicure.  I'm liking doing a little something for myself right now.  They are very clean where I go, and very strict on mask enforcement there so I feel safe.  


With the holidays, it seemed like I was focused on home and food, and we didn't want to create any unnecessary exposure for my husband...so we haven't been doing much outside of work and household things.  It's kind f nice to have pretty nails.  Now that they have grown a bit, I will probably have them rounded more next time.  I am learning a bit about what I like.  Red.  No surprise, right?  🙂  I do like color.  The current neutral look is very nice, but the red was awesome.  (the second time was a red too, with some sparkle)


One thing I definitely decided after my cruise was that if I want to wear a long dress, I'm going to.  I missed it.  With the shorter cruises such as a five day, I'm content with either but my next cruise is a 7 day with two formal nights, so this girl decided to just be herself.


Macy had some really nice clearance dresses to try.  One came in yesterday.  I really, really like it.  The part I'm not thrilled about is that I am pretty sure the dress was worn.  There is a very subtle smoke smell, and it looks like some deodorant residue?  My first thought is to send it back and order another one in the same size, since Macy's has free returns.  I know there was low stock so it may not still be available.  There is nothing wrong that taking it to the dry cleaners won't cure, but they should never send a dress out like that.


I have a few others coming in, so I will decide from there.    I do really love this dress though.  It's good to try something you aren't certain about once in a while.  You never know what it will look like on. 

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Now, I don't have a ton of cruise pictures, as I have mentioned.  I felt so out of it.  We enjoy ourselves for sure, but my mind was so preoccupied with worry that I forgot to take pictures often.


Our balcony had the loungers too, and I just love that.  We used them often, even when it was cool.  The weather was definitely cooler.


Cococay though, turned out to be nice.  My husband loved the cabana so much.  I am so glad I decided to splurge.  Our attendant was fabulous.  This is one thing I have a lot of pictures of.


This is the cabana and area near it.



I was tempted by the over the water cabanas.  They are exactly the same, except they are over the water and have a water slide.  I figured that with my husband not getting around the best, it might not be good to have to walk a distance to the restrooms.


This was fun.




We snorkeled without snorkeling, I told my husband.  There was so much to see just wading in the water.  I did not take the best pictures but you can see some of it here:




And they are sideways, lol.  Oops.


Here are food pictures to make up for it!



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10 hours ago, laurspag said:

Melody - I am going to look int the hotel you stayed at.  I really do like staying someplace a little bit nicer.

There’s also The Strand hotel. We haven’t stayed there, but it looked lovely. Slightly longer walk to ship. We’d stay at Harbor House again. No breakfast  (but coffee & juices in am). Only thing we missed was no pool or hot tub  if you want a nice pool area stay at Hotel Galvez out on Seawall Blvd   That’s a taxi from port & The Strand historic shopping area. Not as many good restaurants close either 

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I think there is a two night minimum stay at Harbor Hotel, so I may need to look at some other options.  Going in from Syracuse to Texas is a long day of flying, so I will likely just need a nice place to stay overnight, with a good place to eat that evening.  


I'd go with flying in Friday so that there is two nights, but I'm not sure I can convince my husband of that, lol.  He has a thing about not wanting to be gone more than one week.  I admit it is hard work-wise but I typically take Friday off if we are flying Saturday for a Sunday cruise anyway.  The difference is having everything done and packed a little earlier.  Actually, I haven't done a cruise in a while where I took the extra day.  Between the pandemic, shorter cruises and sailing out of NJ the last time, it hasn't been necessary.

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Laurie, awesome stingray photo. And is the other one a barracuda?


Our first port was Princess Cays, which we had never been to. Between having to tender, and the ship at 45%, it was not crowded at all. I wanted to snorkel a bit since I wanted to try out my a new mask, so we headed to the right where I had read there was a small beach with some rocks. Most people head left to the larger beach with more amenities. It is easy to find shade under the trees where we were. If there were 30 people on that side, I would be surprised. So nice and quiet. DH actually fell asleep for a bit.




There was some surf so I snorkeled without my camera to have both hands free. I did see a school of gars and a small octopus!  We had beautiful weather.






On the main side, most of the people were clustered down by the water, and the buffet on that side was much busier and more crowded. There are a handful of shops, and I bought a cute sundress there. I'll see if I can find a picture of it.


Lots of space to be had. I can't imagine what it's like when there are 3x as many people here.



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20 hours ago, laurspag said:

I think there is a two night minimum stay at Harbor Hotel, so I may need to look at some other options.  Going in from Syracuse to Texas is a long day of flying, so I will likely just need a nice place to stay overnight, with a good place to eat that evening.  


I'd go with flying in Friday so that there is two nights, but I'm not sure I can convince my husband of that, lol.  He has a thing about not wanting to be gone more than one week.  I admit it is hard work-wise but I typically take Friday off if we are flying Saturday for a Sunday cruise anyway.  The difference is having everything done and packed a little earlier.  Actually, I haven't done a cruise in a while where I took the extra day.  Between the pandemic, shorter cruises and sailing out of NJ the last time, it hasn't been necessary.

Most of the Galveston hotels are a 2 night minimum unless you call the hotel directly. I always call directly. 

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