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!

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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.

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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.

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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.
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Y – Yawn

Congratulations DJ and Matti on their beautiful wedding. With all of the hustle and bustle of the last week you would think the “Y” for yawn would mean I’m tired. You would be wrong.  I’m good to go and ready to talk to you about nightly activities on the ship.

Carnival offers nightly entertainment in many forms for all of those that just didn’t get enough during the day.  After hours you can find dancing at Liquid Nightclub.  Make sure and check the Fun Times to see if there is a theme for the night.  For all of you dancing machines get on down to Liquid Nightclub and dance the night away.

If you want music but not all the dancing, Piano Bar 88 is a fun place.  There are plenty of people singing along with the piano player and requests are taken.  Don’t forget to tip the piano player if you enjoyed the music.

If laughter is what you are looking for then head over to the Limelight lounge and the comedy Punchliner entertainment.  The adult only show is perfect for time away from the kiddos.

Don’t forget the Dive In Movie up on the Lido deck.  There is usually a double feature showing.  Grab popcorn, a lounge chair, and blanket.  There is nothing like the Dive In Movie experience.

For those adults that couldn’t get to the casino during the day do not fear.  The casino is open and ready to take your money, I mean let you win.  This is a no kid zone so if adulting is what you want then that’s a sure fire way.

Now you are thinking, this is all well and good but I have little ones and can’t just lock them in the cabin…can I?  No, there will be no leaving little ones behind without supervision.  Carnival has thought of that.  The Night Owls for ages 6 months to 11 years is open from 10:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m.  There is a fee of $6.75 per hour and a gratuity of 15% is tacked on.  No discounts are given for any additional children so sorry parents.  Any child left after 1:00 a.m. gets to pay double and also have the privileges of leaving the children at the Night Owls taken away.

If you are not capable of staying awake late then it’s ok.  Just take your yawning to your cabin and enjoy the comfort of your bed.  The up all nighters will miss you and have extra fun just for you.

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X – Xcaret Park

Welcome to DJ and Matti week.  Yep, it’s all about them and their big day this Saturday.  I know you read the title of this blog post and thought, “this girl has lost her mind.  What the heck is that?” Well, now that I have your attention let me explain.

When we get to Cozumel on Tuesday, December 19th we will be on the Cozumel Plus itinerary.  We now have an extended amount of time in the port of Cozumel.  This allows for longer excursions than what is normally offered.  These tours can last up to 8 hours making the most of the time you have in port.

Here are a list of the Cozumel Plus excursions that are available:

Ancient City Of Tulum

Underground River & Famous 5th Avenue Shopping

Turtle Cove and Cavern Snorkel Adventure

Mystic River & Paradise Lagoon Adventure

Tulum Temples & Mayan Village With Lunch

Xcaret Park

Xplor Park – All Inclusive Adventure

Amazing Secret River

Chichen Itza Mayan Ruins

Xel- Ha Paradise with Lunch & Drinks

Amazing Secret River & ATV Adventure with Lunch

Isla Mujeres Island Getaway with Lunch & Open Bar

VIP Exclusive Tulum & Cenote Swim with Mayan Lunch

Whale Shark Encounter & Snorkel Experience

Cenote Hopping With Lunch

Xenses- Sensorial Theme Park

I encourage everyone to at least check out what the Cozumel Plus tours have to offer.  Make the most of this port and start your vacation off with an all day adventure or don’t.  It’s your vacation, do what you want 🙂

I will be seeing some of you in just a few days.  I do want to say Happy Birthday to my most favorite twins Hayden & Zachary.

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W – Wifi

I am sorry for the delay on this week’s blog post but quite honestly yesterday just got away from me.  It’s not a very good excuse but it’s the truth.  Our home is whole again as Scott is back from traveling for a bit.

Back in the day when a family went on vacation there was no way to reach them unless you left a message with a hotel clerk.  Today’s not that way at all.  People carry cell phones and computers with them and there is always a way of communicating.  Carnival makes it so you can have the vacation you want….connected or disconnected.

Carnival offers three packages for wifi.  You can only have one device connected at a time to the plan that you choose. Scott and I like to upload pictures to Facebook so we can make all of our friends and family jealous, I mean a part of, our vacation.  We purchase the Social plan at $5 per day.  Scott usually does the uploading onto his but if there is something I want to post he simply logs out of our internet account and I log in.  So for $5 a day it’s not a bad deal.  Here are the three packages:

  • Social – $5 per day gives you access to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and popular airline sites.  This plan does not allow access to any other sites including Snapchat, Facetime, Skype, etc.
  • Value – $16 per day does  not allow Skype calling or music streaming but does allow everything the Social plan does.  It also allows you to check email, sports, news, weather, banking, and more.
  • Premium – $25 per day gets you the fastest possible internet available and includes access to most internet sites, apps, and streaming.

We have not purchased the Value or Premium packages so I cannot give you an opinion on them.  I have read on several message boards that the speeds are slow on the Premium package.

If you are interested in purchasing one of the plans you can do so before you cruise thru the Fun Shops on the Carnival website or Manage My Booking.  You can also purchase once on board. If you purchase prior to cruising you must pay for the whole cruise duration.  If you purchase on the ship you can choose just a daily option.

Please note that you need to put your phone on airplane mode.  This makes it so you are not charged by your phone service carrier.  There are other restrictions such as Hulu and Netflix, connection to private VPN, and sites that are mature or violent content are blocked.  If you do not want to carry your phone or laptop with you on your vacation then please note that there are computer areas on board that you can use.  You still get charged 🙂

So you decide, will your vacation be plugged or unplugged.

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V – Vacation Protection

It’s another Monday and another installment of Gina’s vacation talk.  Yes, right here every Monday for your reading pleasure….you are welcome.  It was a quick weekend for together time with Scott.  He is off again but this time on the other side of the country than last week.  He’s a traveling man.

This week is all about protection, vacation protection that is.  As with health, car, life, and house you can purchase vacation insurance.  Some people find vacation insurance brings them peace of mind while others find it a waste of money.  I will give you a few benefits of Carnival vacation insurance and you can make the decision for yourself.

  • Trip Cancellation Coverage – this covers you in case of bad weather or illness with 100% of your cash back.  If you have another reason to cancel then you receive 75% back in future cruise credit.
  • Travel Insurance – if you have a delay in your trip you get up to $500 towards meals and transportation. Up to $500 if your baggage is lost, stolen or damaged.  And up to $500 if you have to buy necessities if your bags are delayed over 24 hours.
  • Medical Coverage – This gets you up to $1000 if you get sick or hurt.  It also gets you up to $30,000 if you need emergency medical evacuation.
  • 24/7 Worldwide Travel Assistance.

In a previous blog post titled fog I wrote about weather delays and issues. I actually know a guy named Adam that was part of a day and a half fog delay in January while trying to board the Breeze.  Him and his fiance were to head out of Galveston but the fog prevented the Breeze from making it into port.  Adam did not have travel insurance and was EXTREMELY upset that Carnival did not give him a place to stay in Galveston and pay for all of their meals for that extra day while they waited to board.  To “show” Carnival how unhappy he was not to get to board the ship when they were scheduled, he chose not to get on board at all.  He went home and vowed to never go on a carnival cruise, ever.

Now I have very strong opinions on what Adam believes he was entitled to and how he thinks Carnival somehow was responsible for the weather but that’s not what this blog post is about.  This is quite simply about the option of getting vacation protection.  There are several companies that offer vacation insurance and you can find them easily with a Google search.  I cannot tell you what company is the best because we have only purchased from Carnival.  Scott and I like having the peace of mind that vacation protection brings.

If you do decide to purchase vacation protection it is something that must be paid in full at the time.  Unlike the cruise where you have been able to make payments.  If you would like more information and costs I suggest contacting George our friendly PVP.

Categories: Family Cruise 2017 | Leave a comment

U – Underage

It’s Monday again.  I hope all of the Mom’s out there had an amazing Mother’s day.  I had an awesome day. With my partner in crime off to travel the country for the next couple of weeks I will be prepping the house for a family full of goodness come June.

I can’t believe how quickly this year is going by.  The blog is already up to the letter “u”.  So for “u” let’s talk about being underage.  Even though Carnival Cruise is all about the family atmosphere and all of the loads of fun families can have together, there are age restrictions on certain things.

First, you must be 21 years old to drink alcoholic beverages unless you have a sister named Samantha that fudges on the rule.  Just kidding…you really have to be 21 years old.  Now it is true that in Mexico the legal drinking age is 18 years old.  So by all means you 18 to 20 year olds have your legal drinking fun in Mexico but remember on the ship you have to be 21.

There is a section on the ship that is for adults only.  Yes, you may think that 18 is an adult and how it’s completely unfair to be looked at as still a child but it is what it is.  The Serenity area is for 21 year old or older to go.  No, you may not be over 21 and think it’s ok to bring your child up to the Serenity area because after all “they are well behaved children.”  Even with a parent or guardian no one under the age of 21 is allowed.

It’s all fun and games in Las Vegas if you are 21 years old but on the ship you only have to be 18!  That’s right, gambling in international waters is legal for any person 18 or over.  If you are going to gamble at any legal age please gamble responsibly.  You lose all your money that’s on you and age is no excuse. Parents you may not have your children in the casino.  It’s the rule at all casinos so don’t make a big deal about it on the cruise ship.

Dance club for anyone under the age of 18 is a no go after 10:00 p.m.  Sorry 17 year old you will have to put your dancing shoes away.  You also cannot attend the late comedy shows if you are under the age of 18.  Please be aware of the age groups for the Carnival kids clubs. Club O2 is for kids ages 15-17 years old.  Circle C is for ages 12-14.  Camp Ocean is for ages 2 to 11.

The Breeze has a ton of fun activities for kids of all ages.  Find the things that are right for you and are age appropriate.  Sorry not all of you are as old as me so you can’t do it all.  I guess if I’m going to be way old it comes with some privileges.

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