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Mitsugirly needed to ESCAPE from the cold weather


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CHRISTMAS CRUISE 2019!!!!  ESCAPE TO: Roatan, Belize, Costa Maya, & Cozumel.


After going back and forth between various ships on different cruise lines, we decided to give the Escape a try. Sakari had been asking to go on it for awhile and I figured...why not? I didn't realize that it had actually been out for several years now! I'm still thinking it's a new ship...as in over the last year or so. Man time flies when you're having cruising fun! :)


Now, I honestly was not planning on cruising this winter. Anyone who follows my reviews knows why and the ordeal I have been dealing with since August after our Breakaway cruise. For anyone that might not be a "regular" follower of mine...I still lol when I say that and people say I have a "fan base"...you can check out my Breakaway review with the gory details and pictures starting at post # 109 LINK

The short version of my accident: 2 days after returning from my cruise, I fell, fractured my tibia/fibula in 3 places around my ankle area, chopped off my ankle and broke my fibula up closer to my knee. I had surgery with plates and screws put in on both sides, 2 repairs of ligaments, and 2 screws fusing my fib/tib together. As if that wasn't enough...I developed 3 blood clots by the next week. 2 weeks later, I developed an infection on one side and it required another surgery. I've been in a wheelchair for 3 months and just started PT and learning to walk again. I will have to have a 3rd surgery in the future to remove one of the plates and the screws fusing my bones together. I don't have much range of motion because of that. So...that's the "quick version" of what happened.


So, I just wasn't sure I'd even be able to cruise and if I did, how fun could it possibly be for me? My oldest daughter, Kendra, begged and begged to "go somewhere" for a Christmas getaway. "Land vacation in Aruba, cruise, or even Orlando and go to Disney with the kids" she said. "It'll be fun" she said. 🙄 Ugh...I just wasn't so sure about that! But we started making plans. Then all of a sudden, when I booked, she dropped out. Her fiance said no and to wait for Spring Break. She was crushed but didn't put up much of a fight for some reason like she always does. Now normally she would just go without him. But not this time. I really really wanted her to go because I knew I would need all the help I could get this time around. Sakari promised to help as much as I needed. 🥰


Who's cruising: Me the Hubs and Sakari, who is 11 years old but appears more like a teen at this point. 😮She is almost as tall as me and I'm pretty sure by the next cruise, she'll be as tall as me.


We are on (I think) cruise number 23 since we started cruising "full time" 🤣 in 2010. However, Sakari gets a little confused at times and I'm sure she adds at least 3-4 to that number EACH time we cruise. I used to be able to name, in order, every ship...but I've lost count and have to go back and actually look at my website (have you guys checked it out yet??? I hope you have found it useful with the ports, hotels and so on) and recount every time. INSERTS A PLUG FOR HER WEBSITE HERE  😅


OUR ITINERARY: (This is a repeat of what we just did 4 months ago on the Breakaway)


December 14 Saturday: Board the ship

December 15 Sunday: Sea day

December 16 Monday: ROATAN 10-6pm

December 17 Tuesday: HARVEST CAYE BELIZE 8-5pm

December 18 Wednesday: COSTA MAYA 8-5pm

December 19 Thursday: COZUMEL 8-5PM

December 20 Friday: Sea day

December 21 Saturday : Back to port


This time around we decided to go with a balcony. The price was good and cheaper than an OV when we checked. It was also only a few hundred more than an interior. I mean who could pass that up right? Now I honestly don't care what type of room it is. Interior, OV, balcony...doesn't matter to me. I usually don't spend any time in the room other than to sleep, shower, and change. I don't use a balcony like most balcony lovers do. It's nice to wake up and walk out and see where we are, but...that's about it. BUT, with my current situation, I figured I just might get a little more usage out of it and booked.


Also, something new for me this time around....I decided to book a guarantee balcony. 😲 Some people have had good luck with this and others didn't like it. I was going to roll the dice and hope for a good location. They assigned me room 9140. It wasn't too close to the elevators as I usually like to book as close to the elevators as I can. But, I figured I'd be in a wheelchair so it wasn't going to matter to me.


Another thing we decided to do (well hubby decided) was to use the Uplift financing for this cruise. Now we have credit cards for all 3 cruise lines we cruise with. We usually use those to get the points. My rule is they always have to be paid in full by our next cruise or before we go on a cruise (which is usually within 2-3 months time frame). However, the hubby wanted to try out this new financing to see how well it worked and to get some other types of accounts on his credit profile to improve his already mid-high 700+ score. (He's always trying to compete with my fluctuating 819...I told him good luck). 😜We financed the cruise, used my NCL cc for the automatic payments...win-win right? There was only $119 interest charge so not bad at all. THEN...I remembered that my (long-lost-daughter and my sons ex, Courtney, who had cruised with us in the past) still had 2 Cruise Next certificates that needed to be used up ASAP. I had her transfer one over to me and called up NCL and told the to apply that to my booked cruise and they did. They sent a letter over to Uplift and they credited the account. Easy Peasy.




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We'll start with the "formalities" and get that out of the way. (Mostly copied from all of my other reviews, BUT there are some changes and I update with any changes we might have added/adjusted.


PLEASE NOTE>>> My reviews are LONG...as in VERY LONG, with a lot of details, A LOT of pictures and this is the experience of my family on the cruise, sorta like a blog.


*So, if you are not into long reviews and want something short, sweet and to the point...this review is not for you.


*If you expect this review to be done quickly and you don't like to wait...this review is not for you.


*If you don't like personal details of our daily activities, this review is not for you.


*If you expect me to sugar coat everything, this review is not for you.


*If you think I tell you about something that wasn't appealing or I didn't really care for or seen happen and you consider me "complaining" or unhappy...this review is not for you.


I'm open, I'm honest, we have a good time no matter what, but I report everything I see. It doesn't make or break my cruise or experience and I always manage to have a great time no matter what. We are pretty easy going.


It's sad I feel the need to say these things with my reviews now due to certain people who like to come on a be rude in the past.


However, if you like to laugh, get a chuckle every once in a while, think of our family and some of the things we do that could be pictured on "the people of Walmart" and want details and pictures of places...you have come to the right place.




My Cruising Experience:


We started cruising with NCL for years, until we became Platinum. I decided to venture out and try Carnival and then recently RC.  We love them all. I can't really say I've had a "bad" cruise or experience. Things aren't always perfect, but we roll with the punches.


In the
80's and 90's I also sailed with NCL and Royal Caribbean.







People always ask how I organize for my reviews and it takes A LOT to put together a review like this. Once I decided to post how I personally organize for my reviews and if you are interested, it can be found HERE-1ST HALF and the 2ND HALF HERE.






I am constantly questioned about what type of camera's I use for my reviews. This is one of my most asked questions!!!!


Several years ago I decided to purchase my first Olympus point-and-shoot camera (not by choice, but because I had one of my many "bloopers" with my Canon cameras). I have loved the Olympus since that purchase that we actually have quite a few of them.


This review is mostly shot with my OLYMPUS TOUGH TG4 AND I GOT A NEW OLYMPUS TOUGH TG6!!!! It has most of the same features as the TG4, but a lot of improvements and I'm quickly learning to love it more. ALSO, I bought a GOPRO!! I have absolutely NO experience with GOPRO's but it was a Black Friday sale and I went for it. Now...it's not the "good" fancy GoPro...I bought the cheapest one that it seems like everyone complains about. You can't remove the battery and so on. It's the GoPro Hero 7 Silver. However, it took awhile to get used to it, but I "think" I just might like it (I still have to review the footage to see how well it did). Sakari and the hubs used it most of the time. I didn't buy it to make awesome videos with it or take great pictures...it was just a spur of the moment, for §heets & Giggles, and to have a little fun with (especially for Sakari...I figured she'd love it). I did have the 830 model, which quit working all together on the last cruise and we still have the 620 (which is Sakari's) but she managed to crack the screen on it during school camp last year so it's strictly a "land" camera now.


I'm a photography FREAK! Always have been. I do have a DSLR with tons of equipment, lens, and so on, but I find that I just don't want to lug it around with me on a cruise...and of course, it's not waterproof.


When I process my photo's, I do take it into PS (I have to get my watermark on there somehow) and I have an "action" that resizes the picture for a more appropriate posting size, and sharpens for web and I put my stamp on it. Every once in a while I'll get a really crappy picture that just needs something (like white balance) done to it and I really want to share it and I might white balance it. For the most part, I don't do much of anything...no one has time for all that with the thousands of pictures I take!


I take thousands of pictures on vacation and I do a lot of walking and snapping. Yes, I may get some outstanding photos and quality, but for every good picture I get, there may be 3 bad ones. You win some, you lose some. I've been known to stand in a spot and take 3-5 pictures of the same thing, using different settings on the camera, just to get what I'm looking for to share. That's just me.






I am a very open and honest person. Everyone has a different expectation and experience, but I report how I feel during mine. You may or may not agree with my thoughts or views, but that's the beauty of it...everyone is different and all thoughts and comments are welcome.


We are a fun loving and outgoing family that, for the most part, don't get upset about much and roll with the punches. We've had a lot of "bloopers" (especially when the kids come along=Kendra lol), but it is what it is and I have learned over the years that getting mad or upset doesn't solve the problem and only takes away from the fun, so I try not to dwell on bad things (although I will always report them...not to be a Debbie-Downer, but to show this is the experience I had and how it contributed to what was going on at the time) and I move on.


We are BEACH people. So, if you are the touristy type of person that likes historical stuff, seeing the sites, or likes to do the land tours, this review might not benefit you too much as far as the ports. If there's a beach, we will be there! I have to drag Sakari the Mermaid out of the water every place we go. So, to the beach it is for us.


Sakari decided in 2016 that she wanted to "be a scuba diver" and took classes and became a certified PADI Seal that year. In December 2 years ago, she finished all the PADI classes and became a MASTER PADI SEAL!! I think she was one of the first at her scuba shop to complete the program. They made quite a big deal over it. She went to class monthly and started repeating the classes for the fun of it. However, she has not been for almost a year now. The other kids in her class went on to get their Junior Certification and she was unable to because we were on a cruise during that time. So now, she just dives with us, doing the Discover Scuba, in one port each cruise. They still do not have an instructor for the Seal team and it's been over a year. 😞


So, you will find us doing some scuba diving in reviews as well.






My reviews are meant to be helpful to others looking for information. I'm a "picture" kinda girl and if I'm looking for information, give me a picture to help me understand and it will go 10x further in helping me with a decision. So many of you wonderful cruisers have helped me decide places to try out, shared your experiences with me, and even cruised with me....and this is my way of thanking you and continuing to help others the way they have helped me.


With that said...I hope you enjoy the review
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Thank you for posting the link on the other thread which made it easy peasy to find this and  I’m now following!  Absolutely love your reviews and photos.  Although I’m a HAL addict I love other people’s reviews on any ship and especially yours.  Thank you for doing this again!  Looking forward to it.  

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Sakari's Elf (Trixie) and her Reindeer (Cookie, who used to be Starlite but had a name change a few years ago when Sakari started naming everything with some type of "food" product) had an accident and broke her right lower leg (imagine that....) and wasn't able to cruise with us this time (whew...I'm not sure momma could handle it this time around and after all....we booked a 3 person room not a 5 person room).








We booked a "late" flight because I hate having very little sleep and getting up in the early morning to fly out. Our departure time was 4:20pm and arriving in FLL at 7:05pm. I wanted plenty of time to get to the airport and transfer from the parking lot with our "added" luggage...my wheelchair.






My mode of transportation was all strapped in on the shuttle bus to the airport and we arrived in plenty of time. I decided to keep my own wheelchair while we were in the airport and just gate check it. It was easier than I thought and of course I received priority boarding. I wish I would have thought things over a little better because we always purchase "Early Bird Check in" and it wasn't even needed because we board first no matter what with a wheelchair. I wasted a lot of money for nothing. 😞   Lesson learned.


We were on the plane and getting ready for take off.






Sakari was "snapping" her friends and they were wishing her well.





One last picture of me and the hubs before take off....








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Finding a hotel, around Christmas, pretty much last minute, provided to be a bit challenging. I've stayed at a lot of them, but the prices were high enough for me to take a loan out for that as well. Maybe there's a Downlift program out there for us?


I knew that getting in somewhat late we would need some place within walking distance to a restaurant or fast food. We have stayed across the street at Hilton Garden Inn before but I figured I'd rather just save some money and book Quality Inn. It's only for one night and I just need a place to sleep the night before a cruise. As long as it's clean and bug free, I'm good.






I still think the price was outrageous...especially after I got there.





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We arrived at the airport, gathered our luggage and tried to figure out a way to push me in the wheelchair and handle 3 large luggage pieces. 


The hubby pushed me with 1 hand and pulled 1 luggage and I used my left leg to guide the wheelchair in the right direction and Sakari pushed 2 of the pieces of luggage. It's a VERY long haul down to the area for off site hotel pick up. Then the hubby and Sakari switched places. Then I tried pushing myself with my hands on the wheels...whew! I've been doing this for months in my house but down a sidewalk that had dips in it, maneuvering around people and luggage, then the dips at cross walks....it provided to be a little too much for me. In the end, it worked best if I held on to 1 luggage, Sakari pushed me with both hands, and the hubby pushed the other 2 luggage. This trip is providing to be challenging right from the start...which I figured. We'll get it together sooner or later I promise.


We finally arrived at the off site hotel pick up area at the airport and called the hotel. The shuttle arrived within 10-15 minutes and then we were on our way to the hotel.





This hotel is one of those that you enter your room from the outside. Each room has a door leading outside. I actually like these types of hotels and you don't have to worry about going down a hall to get out. When I booked, I put in a request to have a room on the 1st floor. They actually did save one for me and it worked out great.








We headed into the lobby and checked in.












They do have a breakfast room and offer a free hot breakfast. I usually try to pick these hotels with this benefit...it just saves money.


The lights were out and the security guard was in there refueling...I must have looked shady coming in to a dark area and taking pictures. lol








They handed me a paper with directions to our room and off we went.







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I do want to bring your attention to the bed by the bathroom. I'm not sure who designed this but....





The hubby thought he was going to settle in...nah, I may be in a wheelchair, but I'm still going to be on the go and I was ready for some dinner.





I also wanted to check out the hotel grounds...











They had a really nice pool area with plenty of seating. However...once again, you were not allowed to swim here after dusk. I've stayed in FLL plenty of times and I honestly don't remember this "rule" until the last couple of years maybe??? It seems to be at most of the hotels. Anyone know why?





















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The hubby decided he wanted to just walk next door to Taco Bell and that was dinner that night despite all of the other food options we could have had. 🙄


We came back and Sakari told daddy to "chose which bed you want" and this was his choice/reply...



Once again...that door that hit the bed and you had to really yank on it to get inside...




Now this hotel is not perfect at all...it looks worn and old. It was clean, there were no smells, but you could tell that it just wasn't a $180+ hotel IMO. Walls and ceilings were cracked and plastered, grout was missing in the shower and just things here and there that just wasn't appealing. But, it WAS the cheapest I could find in the area (or other places I have stayed before).














Would I stay here again? Eh, I don't know. Would I recommend it? Eh, I don't know. I guess if there was a huge price difference compared to everything else in places I have always stayed, I might stay again. It wouldn't be my top choice, but money is a factor when it comes to picking a place I'm only going to be in for an overnight sleep.


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Ok, time for a break. Sakari is chomping at the bit to open presents. We are doing things different this year and doing our presents tonight on Christmas Eve, and Santa and family all tomorrow. It just gets to be too much when we have to do our presents in the morning on Christmas day and then shortly after 3 adult children show up with all of their kids and significant others. I just don't feel like being rushed tomorrow. That's one thing I CAN'T do at this point. I'm slow like a sloth these days.


I'll try to come back later tonight as we wait on Santa to arrive...

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For one of my cruises, we wound up in FLL on the day of a Bowl game in Miami, so all the hotels were insanely expensive.  That might have happened to you - this hotel might be more reasonable most of the time, but maybe there is some convention or something else going on?  I hope you have a lovely holiday, and feel better soon!

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