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lindsay0526

Last Minute Anniversary Trip- from Booking to Planning and Finally an Overall Review

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So now that I have my list, here is how it all comes together in my luggage. I take 3 bags- my handbag, a rolling carry-on luggage (both of which come aboard with me) and then I hand my larger suitcase off to the porters.

 

Wearing (or in my handbag, which is a leather Michael Kors crossbody)

1 Cruise Casual Outfit

1 pair casual sandals

1 bra

1 undies

1 jacket

1 pair of sunglasses

1 beach hat

 

In Rolling Carry-on Luggage

Travel Documents

1 swimsuit

1 cover-up

flip flops

1 pajama 

1 undies

1 bottle of sunscreen

(some) Toiletries- I normally just make sure I have my toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant and a hairbrush so I can at least freshen up before dinner

Medicines

Electronics plus chargers

Straw Cup

Travel Blanket

2 bottles of wine (with corkscrew, if needed)

 

In Larger Luggage, handed off to porters (clothing packed in packing cubes)

3 Cruise Casual outfits 

1 Cardigan 

1 Formal outfit 

1 Travel Home Outfit

2 casual daytime outfits 

2 swimsuits 

2 cover-ups 

1 pair of sandals to wear with my formal night LBD

1 pairs of other sandals/shoes 

1 pair of pajamas

1 light robe (if one isn't provided in the cabin)

1 pair of slipper socks

1 bras 

5 undies 

1 pairs of sunglasses

1 hats (for the pool/beach)

Jewelry

1 Wristlet/clutch (for evenings)

(remaining) Toiletries- shampoo, conditioner, lotion, hair products, etc

1-2 bottles of sunscreen & aloe

Flat Iron/Curling Iron/Hair Dryer

Cosmetics

USB charging station

Reusable Water Bottle

Tea Bags

Baggu Bag for the pool

Collapsible Backpack for Port Days

Bathroom Light

 

 

DH will hand a bag off to the porters. Then he will carry on our soft sided cooler with our sodas and sparkling waters.

Edited by lindsay0526

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Running Budget:

$698 for our room (including port taxes)*

$68 trip insurance*

$140 prepaid gratuities*

$220 Cozumel Excursion* 

$140 Grand Cayman Beach Day (which we will likely take in cash)

$350 for our ship account (drinks and 1-2 photos)

[$44 OBC due to an excursion Price Guarantee, so I dropped our Ship Account by $50]

$43 off-site parking

$45 tips (cash- for porters $5, for Cozumel excursion 2 x $10, and tips for room service 20 x $1)

$100 cash (varying bill sizes)

$1804 New Balance  

*$1126 has been pre-paid

 

Remaining Balance to be paid:

$140 Grand Cayman- Royal Palms Beach Club (cash) [At a min this day will cost $63 if we choose not to eat/drink]

$350 ship account (secured w/credit card)

$44 OBC- "free" money because we price matched an excursion

$43 parking (credit card)

$45 tip money

$100 cash

 

I guess I need to head to the bank to get my cash- I'll need $285 in various bills.

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Lindsay, we are doing exactly the same thing! We are planners, but my wife a bigger planner than I am. We try to pay every thing we can think of well before the cruise(pre-paid gratuities, parking, 1 night hotel stay, travel ins., etc, etc, etc.)

 

One suggestion: when going to the bank, be sure and tell your banker that you are going out of country, and where you are going. It will assure you that if you use your card while on your cruise, it won't be declined. 

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@joe817 Yeah for fellow planners! 😉 I do like to pay for as much up front, but I also like to track it as we go. It’s so easy on a cruise to be like,”Wow! We only spent $400 (or whatever amount) this week!” And easy to forget you’ve been paying small amounts for other items along the way. We never have a set budget for a trip, but rather discuss where we are spending money on the trip, and create a good estimation. Then there aren’t any big surprises. 

 

And yes, my husband travels a lot for work, so his card is always flagged for travel. 🙂

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40 minutes ago, lindsay0526 said:

@joe817 Yeah for fellow planners! 😉 I do like to pay for as much up front, but I also like to track it as we go. It’s so easy on a cruise to be like,”Wow! We only spent $400 (or whatever amount) this week!” And easy to forget you’ve been paying small amounts for other items along the way. We never have a set budget for a trip, but rather discuss where we are spending money on the trip, and create a good estimation. Then there aren’t any big surprises. 

 

And yes, my husband travels a lot for work, so his card is always flagged for travel. 🙂

 

Isn't that what a budget is? 😉 

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Another thing that I do after I get the cash for our trip is I separate the money using a paperclip. And then I take a sticky note and write what that money is for. So, I have 2 x $10s for our excursion in Cozumel to tip the tour guides. I take the two tens, paper clip them together and take a sticky note and write "Cozumel Tour Tip." All of our cash is kept in the safe, and we just pull out what we need for each port day, but this allows DH to know what the money is for (he's not the planner...) and we don't waste time each day trying to divide the cash out.

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On 2/12/2020 at 12:48 PM, lindsay0526 said:

Okay moving forward.  

 

We are doing a few things differently on this trip- we have booked an interior room, which I have never had an a cruise. At minimum we had a porthole on our Disney cruise, and we have always had a balcony on our Carnival cruises. And in all honestly, we really didn’t use the balcony when we had one, so this time, we are saving some $$$ and trying out an interior room. And currently we have a room on Deck 5 in the middle of the ship, so hopefully it is plenty quiet and we don’t feel too much motion from the ship.

 

The other thing we have done differently is we are sailing on an older, smaller ship (recently refurbished, but older none the less) and different class than we cruised on when we were on the Miracle. The Paradise is a Fantasy class ship and the Miracle is a Spirit class. I’m not super concerned about this one, except the more I have read on here I think we would have enjoyed the Alchemy Bar and the Serenity Bar. But there’s always the next trip, right?

 

The next decision I needed to make was did we feel like the Cheers package would be beneficial and I’ve read enough on this board that it is a very polarizing topic. For us, the Cheers package is a “no” even though it covers more than just alcoholic beverages. Since we are driving to the port (and even if we flew, we would have stopped and picked up beverages), we are going to take 12 sparkling waters, 6 sodas and 2 bottles of wine (the Carnival wine list is terrible). We aren’t avid soda drinkers, but if we get a little seasick the sodas will help settle an upset stomach. We also won’t order bottled waters for our room. Since I am Red (I should be Gold- Carnival is supposed to be adding a missing a cruise...), we will already get a free liter of water in our room, and we will take a refillable water bottle with us. I will likely take a Mio water flavoring with the electrolytes, because it’s always a good idea to replenish electrolytes when spending a day in the sun or after a night of too many drinks.

 

Here’s a quick calculation on how I came to my “no” Cheers conclusion-

 

Cheers would have been $306.50pp or $613 for DH and myself even if I prepaid and that price included the automatic gratuity.I did a quick math of likely drinks we would order (and gave us a generous *for us* quantity) and also picked above-ish average priced options:

Embarkation Day: 2 drinks (9.50), dinner: wine (10.50), double espresso w/dessert (2.25), evening cocktail (11)

     Daily Total: 42.75 + 7.70 gratuity= $50.45

Port Days: specialty coffee (3.50), dinner: wine (10.50), double espresso w/dessert (2.25), evening cocktail (11)

     Daily Total: 27.25 + 4.91 gratuity= $32.16

Sea Days: specialty coffee (3.50), 3 drinks (9.50), dinner: wine (10.50), double espresso w/dessert (2.25), evening cocktail (11)

     Daily Total: 55.75 + 10.04 gratuity= $65.79

 

Our trip is 5 days (1 embarkation day, 2 port days and 2 sea days)- $246.35pp or 492.70 for DH and myself and I honestly don't think we will drink this many drinks nor do I think we will get a specialty coffee every morning (I think we will likely be about $150-200pp, which is $200-300 less than paying outright for Cheers), but it's nice to look at it and see that even if we decide to indulge a little more we won't be breaking the bank. 

 

Now, that we decided not to do Cheers, we are going to take the money we will save and use it for some excursions in Grand Cayman and Cozumel. And that’s what’s coming up next...excursions!

We, also, felt the drink package was too pricey for the amount we drink, so what I do is use my Carnival Mastercard for EVERYTHING. When I say everything, I mean everything—all bills, groceries, gasoline, and any and all purchases. For every 5,000 points I earn, I redeem for $50 bar credits. I earn reward points fast, because I also use their “reward boost” section in my online account, earning more points per dollar. During the holidays I earned 10/$1 on several purchases. You should look into the card. If you don’t already have it, I think they give a $250 statement credit to open it. 

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1 hour ago, lindsay0526 said:

Another thing that I do after I get the cash for our trip is I separate the money using a paperclip. And then I take a sticky note and write what that money is for. So, I have 2 x $10s for our excursion in Cozumel to tip the tour guides. I take the two tens, paper clip them together and take a sticky note and write "Cozumel Tour Tip." All of our cash is kept in the safe, and we just pull out what we need for each port day, but this allows DH to know what the money is for (he's not the planner...) and we don't waste time each day trying to divide the cash out.

Girl, you sound so much like me! I have lists of lists! I pack WAY in advance of any cruise! I just got off the Glory out of NOLA, and I was prepared for anything! Thank goodness, as my daughter and grandsons became ill, and I had the meds, and because I even had zip lock bags with me,I was able to give my teen granddaughter a bag of ice (I have room steward bring fresh ice twice a day) when she accidentally ran into a pole (when playing hide and seek with teens in teen club) and had a lovely goose egg. One thing we did get this cruise was the $5 Hub plan to text each other. I ordinarily totally unplug on cruises, but this was handy as we were traveling with family and we had 3 cabins. Also, I only book inside cabins since we retired. They fit our retirement budget much better, and we are only in cabin for sleep, shower, and dressing. You mentioned going to Tea Time. I had good intentions of going, but because I was eating so much more than I usually do for lunch, I never felt I could squeeze any more food in, especially with dinner around the corner. On my next cruise (a B2B April 5 & 11) on the Magic, I may try to get there, and we will just eat later (YTD) because we won’t have grandchildren with us. That cruise is our 50th Anniversary cruise. 😎🛳🌴🏖🍷🍹🍸

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4 hours ago, lindsay0526 said:

Another thing that I do after I get the cash for our trip is I separate the money using a paperclip. And then I take a sticky note and write what that money is for. So, I have 2 x $10s for our excursion in Cozumel to tip the tour guides. I take the two tens, paper clip them together and take a sticky note and write "Cozumel Tour Tip." All of our cash is kept in the safe, and we just pull out what we need for each port day, but this allows DH to know what the money is for (he's not the planner...) and we don't waste time each day trying to divide the cash out.


Why have I never thought about doing it this way! I am always trying to remember what amount I budgeted for what! 

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@grandmarnnurse I always carry the kitchen sink as far as meds- Motrin, tums, pepto, zofran, bonine, Benadryl and it has often come in handy! I take more when we travel internationally or on a cruise and it can be harder or more expensive to get meds. And I forgot to add plastic baggies and some Clorox wipes to my list. I’m not a super-germaphobe, but during flu season, I can get a bit neurotic about cleanliness when traveling, so I do like the Clorox wipes to wipe down the room. 

 

@Bluelock Glad I could help! ❤️ 

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34 minutes ago, lindsay0526 said:

@grandmarnnurse I always carry the kitchen sink as far as meds- Motrin, tums, pepto, zofran, bonine, Benadryl and it has often come in handy! I take more when we travel internationally or on a cruise and it can be harder or more expensive to get meds. And I forgot to add plastic baggies and some Clorox wipes to my list. I’m not a super-germaphobe, but during flu season, I can get a bit neurotic about cleanliness when traveling, so I do like the Clorox wipes to wipe down the room. 

 

@Bluelock Glad I could help! ❤️ 

I pack all that, but I also include Zoono. It is a 24 hour foam hand sanitizer that is the ONLY OTC hand sanitizer that kills the Norovirus, by the way it works. It is not an alcohol based sanitizer. I also have several little bottles of alcohol based sanitizer that I throw in my bag. BTW—I order the Zoono from Amazon. 

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3 hours ago, grandmarnnurse said:

I pack all that, but I also include Zoono. It is a 24 hour foam hand sanitizer that is the ONLY OTC hand sanitizer that kills the Norovirus, by the way it works. It is not an alcohol based sanitizer. I also have several little bottles of alcohol based sanitizer that I throw in my bag. BTW—I order the Zoono from Amazon. 

Thanks grandmanurse. I do want to get some of that, but Amazon appears to be out of stock. Is it available at Walgreens or CVS?

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6 minutes ago, Joe817 said:

Thanks grandmanurse. I do want to get some of that, but Amazon appears to be out of stock. Is it available at Walgreens or CVS?

CVS has their own brand of it. It’s with all the hand sanitizers, but read ingredients. If alcohol based, it’s not the same. I just heard from someone else that CVS has it, I haven’t seen it with my own eyes. Did Amazon have a comparable brand?

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18 minutes ago, grandmarnnurse said:

CVS has their own brand of it. It’s with all the hand sanitizers, but read ingredients. If alcohol based, it’s not the same. I just heard from someone else that CVS has it, I haven’t seen it with my own eyes. Did Amazon have a comparable brand?

Thanks for your reply. Yes, Amazon did have many more in their 'if you bought this, you might be interested in this. Others have bought it.' If it's comparable I have no idea. This will require some researching.

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It’s packing day. Here are my 5 dinner outfits- 1 to wear onto the ship (gray linen pants, anchor tee & jean jacket) and then 1 formal outfit (lbd and leopard sandals) and 3 other outfits (black tropical maxi dress, white capris with pink blouse, & red capris with navy top) along with a generic white cardigan to pack in my luggage.4F71B826-A7B4-4095-8BDB-986EEC78D03B.thumb.jpeg.6cfd8c50b07871fe2d38c07419c145b8.jpeg

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Just in case you were fooled by my organized packing list...  This is what my packing situation currently looks like. 😜 The hubs is home from his work trip, so the carryon he took will hold a lot of the loose items. And we are trying to determine if we are taking one suitcase and one garment bag or two suitcases. TBD...

 

Things still to do:

-get meals/groceries/instructions sorted for Grandparents coming to watch the kiddos

-get another $140 cash

-DH needs to start packing

-(Friday) pack toiletries & go back through packing list one more time

-purchase sparkling water/sodas for trip & pack in cooler bag

4345FC8D-2515-4DC3-A3BE-2C1E12FD986A.jpeg

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Hey congrats on 15 years. We're headed out on the conquest this Saturday to celebrate our 15rh anniversary which we reached earlier this month. With your lists you seem so organized.  We tend to spend then groan at our visa bill next month.  This was my packing situation yesterday.  My shoes always get packed first!!!!

IMG_20200225_135833_01.jpg

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A few things I forgot on my packing list-

-water flavoring (I like the Gatorade-esque ones)

-glasses/contacts

-playing cards

-book/kindle

-puzzle book (sudoku/crossword) from $1 store


and we ended up in the ER after DH accidentally got a drill bit through the finger after the bit broke in two. Thankfully, it didn’t hit the nail or the bone, so besides packing his antibiotic, I also need to pack some neosporin and waterproof bandaids. 

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On 2/19/2020 at 8:07 AM, lindsay0526 said:

Oh, and I forgot to mention that Carnival’s Price Guarantee for excursions came in handy! I didn’t even realize that was a thing, until I was reading on this board. I found a similar excursion to the one offered by Carnival that we are taking in Cozumel on Viator and submitted the form on Carnival’s website. They approved the request, and now we have a $44 OBC, which is how they refund you the 110% difference.

THANKS for this!! I filed a claim today and they gave me $42 OBC for our cruise in a couple of weeks!

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8 hours ago, TravelGirlinDallas said:

THANKS for this!! I filed a claim today and they gave me $42 OBC for our cruise in a couple of weeks!

You are so welcome! I love to save a little money and still get to do the things I wanted to do anyways!! Glad that this tip helped you, too! ❤️ 

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Budget Update: We were just going to utilize the Global Passport on my husband's cell phone and call home on the days we were in Cozumel & Grand Cayman at $10/day, but then my anxiety about leaving our kids and not having contact with them on our ship days really started to kick in. So, we just added the "Value Plan" to our account and, therefore, our budget. This will be something that will help me relax while we are away. 

 

Running Budget:

$698 for our room (including port taxes)*

$68 trip insurance*

$140 prepaid gratuities*

$220 Cozumel Excursion* 

$140 Grand Cayman Beach Day (which we will likely take in cash)

$350 for our ship account (drinks and 1-2 photos)

[$44 OBC due to an excursion Price Guarantee, so I dropped our Ship Account by $50]

$43 off-site parking

$51 Value Internet Plan*

$45 tips (cash- for porters $5, for Cozumel excursion 2 x $10, and tips for room service 20 x $1)

$100 cash (varying bill sizes)

$1855 New Balance  

*$1177 has been pre-paid

 

Remaining Balance to be paid:

$140 Grand Cayman- Royal Palms Beach Club (cash) [At a min this day will cost $63 if we choose not to eat/drink]

$350 ship account (secured w/credit card)

$44 OBC- "free" money because we price matched an excursion

$43 parking (credit card)

$45 tip money

$100 cash

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Can't wait to read all about it! Hope you all had a great time!

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Okay- we are fresh off the Paradise and home! Here’s the first part of my review-

 

Parking-We went with an offsite vendor, Parkway Parking, and they were super easy. The only surprise was that the balance of our parking fee was due in CASH and no where was that listed on our receipt after we paid the deposit. So thankfully, I had grabbed the extra $100 cash for our trip. An annoyance, but not the end of the world. They were very prompt with shuttling us to and from the pier. I also should have considered tipping the shuttle drivers into our budget, so that was another $10 ($5 each way) that I didn’t consider. Next time I think we will just prepay at the port, and make it easier on ourselves, because between the parking fee & shuttle driver tips, we ended up only saving $20. Not enough for the extra step...

 

Embarkation- This part was stupid easy compared to getting off the ship (more on that later). From the time we were dropped off, handed our baggage over to the porter, and made our way onto the ship, the whole thing took us less than 30 minutes. Our arrival time was 12-12:30 and we were the only ones in line (I think we showed up right at 12/12:15). We were sitting on the Lido deck having lunch by 12:30.

 

Room- Our rooms were ready promptly at 1:30, and by the time we left the Lido and made it to our stateroom, M111, our bags were already waiting for us! Whoop! We were able to quickly get our things put away and we were fully in vacation mode. We had an adjoining room with people, who we didn’t know. So, it was a big surprise when they went to open the door and it.was.not.locked! WHHAATT??!?! We immediately called and asked for someone to come by, but our room attendant showed up before they sent someone. He was able to grab his supervisor to lock the door, so our room was secure at last. Our attendant had his clip board and asked if we needed additional items (robes, towels, pillows) and when we wanted our room serviced (morning or evening). We asked for mornings, but it ended up being refreshed 2x a day. And once I asked for a bathrobe, it was delivered while we were at dinner the first night. Having an interior room was fine, and was actually nice when we took naps during the day. But we will never.have.an.adjoining.room.again if we don’t know the people on the other side- they talked SO loud, played their music SO loud, and used perfume/body spray that we could smell through the door, which gave me a migraine. We also felt a lot of vibrations for the first few days of the trip, see my comment below.

 

Being on a smaller ship- I didn’t think that this would make a huge difference, and I’m not 100% sure it really does, but we had very high winds for the first few days of our trip. We felt A LOT of sway and A LOT of vibrations, which I am assuming were the stablilizers. At time our apparent winds were like 41 knots, but on the sail home it was like 9 knots- MUCH calmer, and much more enjoyable. 

 

Coming up next... Dining, Change of Itinerary, And Why NOT getting CHEERS was the right call (for us)

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