Fairbanks, Alaska

It’s a total eclipse Monday for most of America.  Don’t look directly into the sun without your special eye wear.  Did you notice I said most of America? No eclipse in Alaska.

Here it is the first time in 100 years for America to have a total eclipse that isn’t of the heart (80’s music reference here) and we are in Fairbanks, Alaska where it’s sunshine and bright as um….day.  Since Friday early morning, 12:08 a.m., Scott and I have been together visiting Fairbanks.  It’s been nonstop fun.

All daily itineraries have been planned by a certain 8 year old, our grandson Uriah. Since he was born and raised in Fairbanks he obviously must know what the best things to do are.  Here are just a few of the places we have gone.

The city of North Pole and the Santa House. This is a fun tourist spot.  The store has unique holiday and Alaska themed items.  Outside there is a barn area where you can see reindeer. After North Pole it was off to Alaska Land.  If it’s your first time in Fairbanks and you search for Alaska Land you won’t be able to find it.  You see only residents of Fairbanks call it Alaska Land.  The name changed several years ago to Pioneer Park.

Alaska Land is free to enter and wander around the shops and park.  There is also a mini golf area.  You can golf 18 or 36 holes.  We ended up doing this on two separate days with the end result being the same, I’m a winner.     Alaska Land is a perfect tourist spot because there is a museum, train ride, shopping, playground, ducks, and a fish wearing a saddle.  You can purchase a bag of pellets for fifty cents and feed the ducks.  At that same location you can sit on a wood carved salmon that is wearing a saddle.  If you post your picture on social media you can purchase a t-shirt that says, “I rode the wild salmon.”

Fairbanks has amazing views and plenty of wildlife.  Hanging out by the river, walking the trails, and skipping rocks makes for a great time.  On the rainy cold day of our visit we went gold panning.  At the Gold Daughter’s Panning site you can pan there all day if you want for $20.  My technique wasn’t the best and I might be the slowest panner in the history of panning but I did find gold.  I took all of my massive sized flakes and purchased a locket from the Gold Daughter’s store.  They cleaned my flakes, I mean massive sized flakes, and placed them in the locket for me.

If you have children and are visiting Fairbanks, take them downtown to the Children’s Museum.  Tons of hands on activities and crafts.  I think we could have spent an entire day playing.  Samantha even learned how to play the piano there.

For our visit it was more about spending time with family than being tourists.  We had a great time and are truly sad to be saying goodbye. Tonight we leave the largest state and head home to the second largest state.  Don’t tell Texans they don’t live in the largest, they truly believe everything is bigger in Texas. LOL

 

 

Categories: Alaska | Leave a comment

St. Jude

Well hello again on another Monday. This week is extra exciting for us because we are headed to Alaska.  It is definitely time for a mini vacation and some hugs from the grandson….and his parents too.

Most of us have heard of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.  This hospital makes it so all medically eligible patients that are accepted for treatment are treated without regard to the family’s ability to pay. Families never pay for treatments that are not covered by insurance, and families without insurance are never asked to pay. St. Jude also assists families with transportation, lodging, and meals.  At a time when families are dealing with so much, St. Jude is there to help.

Carnival has raised over $10 million to help fight childhood cancer at St. Jude.  There are several ways that Carnival makes donating to St. Jude easy for every passenger.

Online you can donate money thru Carnival at https://shop.stjude.org/GiftCatalog/donation.do?cID=13342&pID=21330. Simply put in the donation amount and add your billing information.  This is not associated with your cruise reservation or sail and sign account.

On every Carnival ship they have time set aside for an event called Groove For St. Jude.  This is a dance party held on the Lido deck.  At the dance party you can purchase t-shirts that say “Groove For St. Jude” for $10 each. This does go thru your sail and sign account.  You simply show the crew member your card and they apply it to your account. 100% of all money raised thru the sale of the t-shirts goes directly to St. Jude.

At the online Fun Shops you can pre-order cookies to be delivered to your cabin.  Four cookies for $6 or a dozen for $16.  You get your choice of chocolate chip, chocolate crunch, honey oatmeal raisin, and macadamia nut.  If you order the six cookies $1 goes to St. Jude and if you order the dozen cookies $3 goes to St. Jude.  You can also purchase the Towel Creations Book for $14.95 and $1 will go to St. Jude.

On a previous blog post I talked about Build A Bear Workshop.  If you purchase the St. Jude bear at the Build A Bear Workshop all of the money will benefit St. Jude.

Another way that Carnival helps St. Jude in their fund raising efforts if by donating left over sail and sign account money.  If at the end of the cruise you have less than $10 in your sail and sign account and have not cash out, Carnival automatically donates that money. If you have over $10 they will issue you a check.

Want to help out a wonderful charity then Carnival makes it easy.  Do you know who else makes it easy? ME! That’s right it’s contest time. The first person to not be my husband Scott and can answer a trivia question will have an order of cookies sent to your cabin.  What cookie would I order from the four available choices above?

Categories: Family Cruise 2017 | 4 Comments

Lost But Easily Found

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME! What an awesome day and month this is.

Now onto the blog.  When we went on our first cruise we decided to take a short five day on a smaller ship.  The thought process was not only so we wouldn’t have a tiny apartment filled with many people for the holidays but to check out cruising.  Plus, we wanted to get an idea if we even liked cruising and a smaller ship will be easier to maneuver around.  Everything worked out great and our cruising addiction began. Except for a missing Dad a few times. While I will admit my Dad’s disappearing act a couple of times was mostly done on purpose, a few of those times were because he was just trying to figure out where he was.

For some of you this will be your first cruise.  You get to start with a larger ship and have to learn your way around.  For the most of us we have found ourselves a little lost and trying to get entry into the wrong cabin.  It happens so expect to get turned around a few times and possibly getting lost finding your cabin.  Don’t you worry though I will not have everyone getting completely lost on my watch.  I have a few helpful hints on getting around the ship.

  1. Ship Map – There are little fold out maps you can pick up at check-in and at guest services.  We even had one in our cabin.  They fold up nicely and will fit in the lanyards that have been provided for you in your cruise bag.
  2. Deck Maps – Located throughout the ship by the elevators you will find oversized maps that show “you are here.”  You can also find a map on the back of your cabin door.
  3. HUB App – Download the HUB app on your cell phone and use the app to find maps of the ship.
  4. Crew – Ask a friendly crew member.  These people know every inch of the ship and are more than happy to help you.
  5. Placards – Just like hotels, Carnival has placards with room numbers and arrows in the hallways to help you out.
  6. Explore – The best way to learn the ship is to explore the ship.  Get those walking shoes on and be like Dora.
  7. Door Decor – With cabin decks all looking alike having your cabin door decorated makes it easy to locate.  Not only is it helpful for you and your family but trust me your neighbors will love you for it too. I will be posting a blog soon about door decorating so don’t do anything yet.  Trust me, it will be worth the wait.

I don’t want anyone to start having a panic attack now.  Adults and kids learn the ship quite easily.  If you are concerned about you and your children finding the way around, take the first day to explore together.  It will be a lot of fun and beneficial for all of you.  You can also go online to the Carnival website and get a look at the deck map ahead of the cruise.

Categories: Family Cruise 2017 | 1 Comment

Formal Night

Welcome to the last day of July before the best month of the year! That’s right August is truly the best month of the year and yes it’s because it’s my birthday month.  Let the celebration begin!

Of all of the cruise forums that I read on a daily basis, it’s not as many as you are thinking right now, the major discussion is about formal night. On six or more day Carnival cruises they host two formal nights for all passengers that would like to participate.  Please note that this is not a must but an option.  If you would like to eat in the main dining rooms during formal evenings then you have to adhere to the dress code.

It’s a simple dress code. Men should wear dress slacks, dress shirts, and it is suggested a sport coat. Scott has never worn a sports coat on elegant night so we know that it is not a requirement but a suggestion.  Men can also choose to wear a suit and tie or tuxedo.
Women should wear either cocktail dresses, pantsuits, elegant skirts and blouses. Women can also wear an evening gown.  What’s not allowed, jeans, men’s sleeveless shirts, shorts, tee-shirts, sportswear, gym or basketball shorts, baseball hats, flip-flops and bathing suit attire.

You are probably wondering why there would be so many discussions on forums about a dinner.  My take is people are a bunch of crybabies and complainers.  I do understand that jeans can cost way more than a dress but that doesn’t make it elegant apparel. I am also fully aware of the fact that not everyone owns “dress up” clothes.  This is exactly why elegant nights are optional.  Please feel free to eat on deck 10 The Lido at the food areas.

During our December cruise we will experience two elegant nights.  Please check your Fun Times daily to find out when the elegant nights are.  They also have a channel on the tv where you can check the menu and attire for the evening.  It is not anybody’s responsibility but your own to know when elegant night is.  Obviously we will all keep an eye open and hopefully let the group know as we are made aware.

Scott and I like elegant nights because quite honestly there are only a few times during the year that we dress up for a nice dinner.  Plus, we look fabulous in our “dress up” attire.

Categories: Family Cruise 2017 | 3 Comments

Sail and Sign Cards

Here’s to another Monday.  Another week on the road for Scott and a busy week for me.  This week we are celebrating Elle & Jaxson’s birthdays.  So happy birthday Elle and Jaxson.

Today we are going to talk about a new system that Carnival has started using on their ships.  This new system has caused a lot of positive and negative chatter on the cruise forums. As a matter of fact, in this house we have differing views.

Starting this month the Carnival Breeze will have a new embarkation process.  In the past when checking in at the Galveston terminal the friendly staff would set up each passengers sail and sign accounts.  They would go to a box and pull out your already printed sail and sign cards and give them to you.  You would then use your cards to board the ship and for the remainder of your cruise.  Passengers with priority status such as diamond, platinum, and faster to the fun are able to go straight to their cabins once they board.  They can drop off any carry on luggage they have, check out their rooms, sit on the balcony, or take a nap to name just a few.

Now instead of receiving your sail and sign cards at the check in area you will use your printed boarding passes to board the ship.  When your room is ready your sail and sign cards are placed in a sealed envelope and put in your mailbox outside your cabin.  If your room is not ready then you will not have the envelope and no access to your room.

The reasoning behind this new process is to speed up check in and to stop having passengers from going to their cabins. Passengers that were not priority were heading to their cabins as soon as they boarded the ships.  They would interfere with the room stewards that were trying to get all of the cabins ready.  Items were placed in cabins before room stewards get there to prep the room thus leaving the room stewards liable for items being misplaced or broken.

The negative comments on this new process is that people don’t want their cards placed outside the rooms because they could be stolen or tampered with.  So far this has not happened on any of the ships that have this policy in place. If you want to order drinks or make purchases before your cabin and cards are available to you that’s not a problem.  The staff will use your boarding pass and a picture of you will come up on their screen.  You sign for your purchase and the charge will go to your sail and sign account.

If for some reason there are charges that show up on your account go to guest services and get them removed.  Also, if your sealed envelope is missing from your mailbox, go to guest services.  They will get to the bottom of it and get you all squared away.

As with any new process I am sure there will be a learning curve.  Personally, I just want to get on the ship faster and the fun to start.  I also know that if I have a problem with my sail and sign card Carnival will make it right.  I hope that everyone will give the new process a try before making any judgments.

Less than 150 days before we set sail!

Categories: Family Cruise 2017 | Leave a comment

Lions, Tigers & Bears Oh My

Welcome back to Gina’s Amazing Adventures and another posting about our family cruise this December on the Carnival Breeze.  Today I am waiting for our internet to be fixed.  If you are reading this then it is fixed and we are swimming in the internet pool of life.

Let’s talk about stuffed animals.  Those lovable, huggable toys that nearly every child has.  I loved stuffed animals as a kid.  I still have a dog the kids got me one year as a present.  Heck, even our cat Junior has a stuffed bear that he carries around.

When the kids were younger they enjoyed going to the mall and making their own stuffed animals from the store called Build A Bear.  I’m pretty sure DJ still has his Colorado Avalanche hockey bear.  It was fun picking out the character and then accessorizing it.  Carnival Cruise offers the Build A Bear Workshop At Sea experience for the kids on their ships.

There are a variety of animals to choose from including bears, penguins, monkeys, sharks, Cat in the Hat, and so much more.  The animals cost $26 and then you can purchase clothes for them if you want.

I have read conflicting reports online about how many times the workshop is made available.  Some say twice while others say only once.  I’m going to go out on a limb and say it’s at least once.  Sometimes I’m so smart…or is it smrt (that one is for you Simpsons fans).

The one thing I can say about Carnival is they do keep kids entertained.  I can’t wait to see all of the kiddos with their stuffed creatures.  I might even be able to convince one of them to let me snuggle with theirs.  Fingers crossed!

Categories: Family Cruise 2017 | Leave a comment

Make Money Money

Well look at this. It’s Monday and I’m typing my blog post.  I have not been very good at getting the last few posts out on Mondays.  I sure hope everyone has had a good last week and staying on the cool side.  I thank goodness for A/C every day.

Today I would like to talk about the hard working crew members of the Carnival Breeze.  There are 1,386 amazing crew members that work everyday all day to make your cruise enjoyable.  It never ceases to amaze me how the room steward always remembers our names.  It is not unusual to be walking to our room and we hear “Hi Scott and Gina.”

I have not come across a crew member on any ship that wasn’t smiling and saying hi.  You will notice that on the name tags of each crew member it not only has their names but it says what country they are from.  These people are from all over the world.  Most are willing to chat and even have a picture taken with them.

Now I do not know how much crew members make nor do I feel like it is any of my business.  Just like any service position crew members love to be tipped.  Carnival has a policy that $12.95 a day per person is charged to your Sail and Sign card to cover the cost of gratuities.  I know some of you are sitting there with a calculator figuring out how much more you need to budget for on your cruise.  Let’s get into the details.

If you are sailing on a 7 day cruise your room would be charged $12.95 a day per person.  One person for 7 days would be charged $90.65.  These gratuities cover everyone from the room steward to the wait staff and everyone behind the scenes.  When you look at it that way $12.95 a day is not too bad.

Carnival does give you the option of prepaying your gratuities on the website.  Just go to http://www.carnival.com and sign into your account. Select Manage, then My Booking, view cruise details, and click on add prepaid gratuities.  One of the new features is that you can choose which person you are prepaying gratuities for so you can do a person at a time if you need to.  If the option does not show up for you just give George a call.

If you want to prepay for gratuities you can. If you want to just have it added to your Sail and Sign on board account you can.  If you think $12.95 a day per person is too much money you can go to your Sail and Sign account once you are on the ship and adjust the amount.

Scott and I prepay for our gratuities because when we board the ship we want our vacation already paid for.  We also bring small bills to tip people at ports such as drivers and tour guides.  We do bring extra money for our wait staff and room steward.  If we feel like they have done an amazing job, which is usually the case, on our last day or dinner we give them an extra tip.

Your tipping preferences are your business. I do plead with you to not just delete all of the gratuities to save some money.  The crew members do work very hard to make your vacation as enjoyable as possible.

If you managed to read the whole blog then you can now participate in my little giveaway.  To enter the giveaway all you have to do is read the blog post and leave a comment.  No DJ leaving the word comment in the comment section does not count!  I will give everyone until Noon CST on Tuesday, July 11th to leave your comments.  I will then draw a name from my super incredible heart shaped bowl that Scott and I made together.  Once I have the winner I will announce the prize.

 

Categories: Family Cruise 2017 | 6 Comments

Bling

I took a few days off to hang with my man and celebrate America & Junior’s birthdays. So happy 241st birthday America and happy 4th birthday to our fuzzy cat Junior.

Today I feel the need to talk about bling.  In this house the bling you will find are sequins and glitter.  While this may make you pause, it might be worth mentioning that I’m a crafter.  Yep, making cards, wreaths, and home decor.  But today isn’t about glitter it’s about jewelry.

There are several times during the cruise that you will find shopping talks you can go to.  These talks tell you about the best places in port to buy jewelry.  They also give you coupons and discounts.  There is a Carnival shopping expert that has a little booth you can go ask questions to and get the best answers.

We purchased a coupon book for $25 on our first cruise and then went around all of the ports we stopped at getting all sorts of free items.  I currently have enough charms to fill my free charm bracelet.  I should really add the charms.  I will put that on the things to do list.

Diamonds International is a big deal in every port. There are several good and bad reviews that I have read online.  I find the best plan is a well researched plan.  If you know that you are going to want to purchase fine jewelry in the ports then go online now and find out everything you need to know.  You are not allowed to complain to me later that you think you paid too much if you didn’t take the steps to be informed.

I will say that if I were to purchase fine jewelry from port I would most definitely go for the Tanzanite.  It is the most beautiful and vibrant blue stone I have ever seen.  I do know that Tanzanite is sold at Diamonds International.  Not that I have been looking at every port we have stopped at but I might have been 🙂

Last week I wrote about the Breeze being in dry dock a few months ago and got some upgrades.  One of the newest changes to the Fun Shops on the Promenade deck 5 is the addition of the Pandora shop.

I’m pretty sure most everyone has seen commercials about Pandora bracelets.  If you have been in the market for a Pandora charm bracelet well now is your chance. I haven’t been to a Pandora store so I will make sure and take a walk thru in December.

If you want the bling then cruising is a great way to buy it.  You get to see different stores at different ports.  With the coupons and discounts that you get on the ship buying that bling is even affordale, depending on your budget that is.

Categories: Crusing | Leave a comment

Here Piggy Piggy

Yep, I missed Monday again but look at me getting the blog post done on a Tuesday.  I do hope everyone had a great week since your last browsing of this blog.  It’s hot with a side of hot.  I’m not complaining because I love summer.

A few months ago the Carnival Breeze went into dry dock.  During dry dock the ship got some maintenance done, updated the interior look, and added a few new places for cruisers to enjoy.

One of the new places on the Carnival Breeze is Guy Pig & Anchor Smokehouse.  Guy Fieri has done it again.  Not only do we get the tastiness of Guy’s Burger but now BBQ.

The Pig & Anchor can be found on deck 5 outside the Ocean Plaza.  It is open on sea days for lunch only.  Here is a list of menu items:

Meat: Pork Butt, Grilled Chicken, Andouille Sausage, Smoked Beef

Sides include: mac ‘n’ cheese, coleslaw, baked beans,collard greens, and potato salad.

Available sauces include bourbon and brown sugar, and spicy sriracha BBQ, among others.

Guy’s Pig & Anchor has replaced Fat Jimmy’s C-Side BBQ.  There is no charge to eat here so that makes it even better!  I can’t wait to get me some BBQ and relax watching the ocean.

Categories: Family Cruise 2017 | Leave a comment

Z – Za

I know, I know, it’s Tuesday and not Monday.  I am a day behind on the blog and with a good reason.  I simply forgot yesterday.  I decided to hangout with Scott and play Lego Batman 3 on Xbox.  My apologies to all of my readers.  I would like to promise that it won’t happen again but honestly I really enjoy the Lego games on Xbox.

The countdown to the cruise is getting smaller everyday and the excitement gets bigger.  I’m sure you have noticed the title of this posting and are pulling out phones and computers to look up the word.  Za may not be a word found in the dictionary but it is slang for pizza.  You can look that up if you want…it’s true.

The Pizzeria is located on the stern of the ship deck 10 Lido.  You can get pizza by the slice or the whole darn thing!  Each pizza is made fresh so prepare to wait for your order. The varieties of pizza are:

Margherita – pomodoro (tomato sauce), basil, and fresh buffalo mozzarella

Funghi – pomodoro (tomato sauce), mushroom, and fresh buffalo mozzarella

Proscitto – roasted garlic, rucola, and fresh buffalo mozzarella

Pepperoni – hard to figure this out but it’s a pepperoni pizza

Quattro Formaggi – roasted garlic, gorgonzola, provolone, parmesan, and fresh buffalo mozzarella

You can also get a ceasar salad.

The Pizzeria is open 24 hours on the Lido but if you want to order a pan pizza to be delivered to your room there is a charge of $5 as of today.
One thing you can’t say on a Carnival cruise is that you starved.  So go back as often as you want or as often as your parents will allow and get yourself some za.  Pizza that is.
Categories: Family Cruise 2017 | Leave a comment

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