Monthly Archives: December 2013

So Much More to Say

That’s right, a dozen, yep 12 days until we unite in Houston!  So much going on between now and then.  The last minute to do list to get done, anxiously awaiting the arrival of Kelsey, our 2nd Anniversary, New Years happenings, baby Allen’s 18th birthday, and of course work all make for 12 days of get it done.  Love it!!

Last blog I asked if anyone had suggestions on what we should do in Houston on our last night together.  Samantha came up with the idea of going to Dave & Buster’s.  It sounds like fun to us so we will put it on the yes list.

Aunt Jen and Uncle Michael were kind enough to loan us a booster seat for Uriah.  Thank you to Grandma (Nonna) for shipping that to us.  We will get it all belted in Kelsey’s car.  Kelsey is positive Uriah will want to ride with her on the way to Galveston 🙂

If anyone has anything they need or want please tell us A.S.A.P.  No last minute scrambling please and thank you.

On Sunday night before the cruise there will be a family meeting to go over a few surprises and not so surprise items.  I thought about doing it Monday morning but I think we should add as little to the get to the terminal process as possible.  In the bag of surprises everyone will find a t-shirt that was decorated especially for this cruise.  I have read that there are a lot of photo ops during the check-in process so I am asking everyone to wear their t-shirt to board on Monday.  I would really like to have a group picture of us with the ship looking excited and ready to board!  If you have a problem with this I request that you keep it to yourself cause I know you would hate to hurt my feelings.


For check-in please make sure you have your boarding pass (most of you will find it in your bag on Sunday night), passports, luggage tags on your bags (also found in your bag on Sunday), and cash to start your Sail ‘n Sign accounts.  I am told that the check-in process can be long so be prepared for a few hours of cruise terminal lines.  It is currently looking like our ship is less than 90% full so the lines may not take as long as what I have read.

Debarkation (leaving the ship on the last day):

Now I know it’s sad to think about the trip being over so I won’t dwell on the subject long.  I just wanted to let everyone know a few things about the process of checking out

There are two options ti disembark: 1. Self Assist.  You have to physically take all of your luggage without assistance from the staff.  Most people get off the ship faster that way. 2. Relaxed Debark.  With this option you have to leave your luggage outside your door by 8:00 the night before.  The next morning you go up to the terminal and your stuff is waiting for you.  Scott and I have decided to do option #2 because we are not rushing on our vacation.  If you chose to take option #1 please be patient waiting for us by the car.

On channel 17 in your stateroom the Cruise Director let’s you know everything about the last day and what needs to be done.  Please pay attention.

The other important item is this little thing called taxes.  Yes you must declare everything you purchase.  This means keep your receipts from the shops and vendors.  The night before leaving the ship everyone must fill out a Customs Declaration Form.  Once you receive your luggage you are to go to the Customs area with your sheet of paper and pay whatever taxes the form says.  Don’t lie and omit or lower the price on anything cause we will leave you to rot in the Galveston jail!  Just kidding, but seriously fill it out correctly.

One more blog to go before the cruise!  Don’t worry, I haven’t run out of things to talk about 🙂

It is very important that you have paid your Sail ‘n Sign account in full so make sure you have done that the night before.

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As of today we only have 20 days until vacation and 22 until we set sail.  Everyone has been checked in online and we have already received one packed suitcase ready to be put in the car!

On Saturday, January 18th we say Bon Voyage to the Triumph and head to Houston for our last day.  The sadness is already setting in……..

I have made reservations for the night at the Ramada Houston Intercontinental Airport South.  There is wifi and free breakfast.  The great part of this hotel is that it is close to the airport for our Sunday flyers. I have not made any plans for Saturday so if anyone has something in mind please let us know.


I did find a coupon for The Moody Gardens in Galveston.  It gives us $2 off per ticket so adults will be $19.95 each while Uriah & Grandpa (old man discount) will be $15.95 each.  Thought we would hit the Aquarium Pyramid after we do the free ferry ride. Don’t forget that the weather in Galveston in January is not anything like Mexico.  The average temperature is in the low 60’s.  I will keep an eye on the weather up until we leave.

There are only a couple of blogs left so if you have info to share or want additional information on things better say something soon.  You might find it helpful to go back and reread some of the blogs.  I know I have thrown out a lot of information but I sure do hope it has been helpful and informative.

The next blog will cover check-in and check-out process.

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Just Some Things to Know

With us getting super close to vacation, 27 days, I thought I would talk about some random things.

First, I found out that the Cheers program that I previously blogged about has a change.  They are no longer charging for 5 days but rather 4 days.  So it’s $49.99 for 4 days plus 15 % gratuity.  Please remember that if one person over the age of 21 orders the Cheers program, every person over 21 in that cabin has to purchase it.

* If your stateroom does not have a Carnival robe in it then ask the room steward for one to use during the cruise.

* It’s a good idea to walk the whole ship the first day.  It will help you learn where everything is.  Ask the purser’s desk for a pocket size deck plan that you can carry.

* Make photocopies of your passport (information page), any credit cards you will be using (front & back), and airline tickets.  Then put them in the safe located in your room.  This way if anything gets lost at least you have copies.

* The safes in the rooms operate with a magnetic strip.  You can use anything with a magnetic strip on it (credit card, store discount cards, gift cards, etc.).  Instead of using your Sail ‘n Sign card because it tends to wear the strip down and then very difficult to use for anything.

* The last day at sea is a big sale day in the shops.

* You get a free deck of cards at the purser’s desk.

* You can see the menu for the dining room on your tv so you can see if you like the day’s selections.

* You can buy buckets of beer

* You can make your own drinks with the stuff they have on the Lido deck.  You can mix ice cream and hot chocolate together for a cool, creamy drink.  Or get crushed ice, coffee and ice cream for a coffee drink.

* If you have the souvenir glass you can order any frozen drink as a refill not just the drink of the day. They do charge you for the price of frozen drink but you get it in a bigger glass.

* US Customs dictates that you are allowed to bring back 1 liter of alcohol, 1 carton (200 pieces) of cigarettes, and 50 cigars duty free.

* There is an $800 per person of duty free merchandise allowed.

* Don’t forget that you can view your Sail ‘n Sign account on your tv.  Please keep track of what you are spending and do not go over the amount you have.

* The chocolate melting cake is served every day.

If you have any questions please ask.  Only 3 more blogs left before we are all together!

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Carnival Cruise Lines has photographers just about everywhere on the ship.  They take individual and group pictures of people doing just about everything.  There is also “photo opportunities” on certain decks each day, usually decks 3, 4, & 5.  During these times they have backdrops that you can choose from.  The photos are then posted in an area for purchase.  Here is a breakdown of the pricing:

Original Prints

Fun Shots

5 X 7

$11.99 each

Cruise Collectibles

Embarkation / Dining / Gangway

6 X 9

$14.99 each

Package: Buy 2, get 3rdfor $5.00

Pro Portraits

8 X 10

$23.99 each

Reproductions *

Reprint Value Sheets

2 – 5 X 7

1 – 6 X 9

1 – 8 X 10

1 – 5 X 7 + 4 wallet size

1 – CD

$9.99 per image

Canvas Wall Art


*Photos must be purchased in their original size before reproductions can be ordered.

  Offer not available for groups of 6 or more.

These pictures are posted the whole cruise so some suggestions are to look daily and see if there are any you just have to have right away, wait until the last day at sea and then you can see all of them and pick the ones you want the most, or a third option is to take a photo of the photos that are there.  You are not obligated to purchase any photos but knowing us, we will.

I found this article that a professional photographer 19snapshot typed up giving suggestions on taking the best pictures.

1. If you want to look wider (cause who wouldn’t…not!), pose with your shoulders flush to the lens. If you want to look slimmer a 45 degree angle is best.

2. A wider stance will make you appear shorter.  Feet together will make you appear taller.

3) Tilting your chin downward and pushing it forward slightly will help cast a shadow on any extra chins.

Lifting the chin slightly and/or drawing your chin in will light up and highlight any extra chins.

4) Tilting your chin downward and pushing your glasses up will help reduce glass glare. If that doesn’t

work, raise the arms of your glasses slightly above your ears (no one will the sides of your head in your

average portrait) to tilt the lens glass downward.

5) Tilting your chin downward slightly will open your eyes making them look larger.

6) Pushing your tongue to the roof of your mouth will draw up and momentarily hide extra chins. Some

find this hard to do while giving a natural looking smile.

7) Ladies that stand at a 45 degree angle to the camera, with their weight shifted to the leg in back and the

front leg slightly bent (think standing in line) will look slimmer. Bending the arm that is closer to the

camera so the hand rests near the hip will flatter the figure even more.

8) Ladies that let their arms hang down by their sides will look more square thus larger then they really are.

9) A slightly elevated camera angle will take a few years off of any face and slims the face as well. For

close-ups, try a sitting pose or find a tall photographer.

10) Straight fingers will give a lady the appearance of man-hands. Relaxed hands with fingers slightly

curved look most feminine.

11) Photographic lighting will reflect off of glitter/shimmer cosmetic products. This can create “digital

artifacts” (white dots) and can highlight any wrinkles and creases.

12) If you want to reduce the look of a buffet-stuffed-tummy, sit or stand tall, roll your shoulders back and

bend forward from your hips slightly (very slightly). Make sure you are not drawing your just shoulders

forward, as this will have the opposite effect.

13) Take a deep breath in and smile as you release it. That relaxes your face and decreases deep lines. It

also gives you a more natural looking smile.

From Photographergirl Try not to face the sun: squinty eyes and harsh shadows. If the sun is behind your

subject, turn on your flash (yes in the daytime). It will balance the light.

Standing in the shade of a tree or other object on a sunny day will also give you more vivid, natural colors.

Ladies:Standing with your arms -hands on hips or on a rail, etc.-will greatly reduce “bat-wing

Shooting from above a female subject makes her appear slightly smaller and more feminine.

Shooting from a slightly lower angle on a man makes him appear more powerful (not up the nose, please!).

On a final note, we only have 34 days!

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Cruising Terms

I thought it might be a good idea to share with everyone some terms that are used during cruising.  In one of the forums I was reading they were making fun of newbie cruisers because they didn’t know simple terms.  Besides finding it rude, I think it would be helpful to be somewhat informed.

Aft: in the direction of the back (stern) of the ship.

Beam: the maximum width of a ship, distance from side to side.

Berth: a bed on the floor, a term used to determine a ship’s “official” capacity, usually two per stateroom.

Bow: the front, leading edge of the ship, aka the “pointy end.”

Bridge: the room where the navigational staff (captain) steers the ship.

Bulbous Bow: a forward extension of the keel which creates a frontal wave to reduce resistance.

Capacity: the number of passengers carried usually including pull-down and rollaway beds. A ship can usually carry more passengers than the number of berths so cruise lines often report quarterly capacity at well over 100%.

Captain’s party: a cocktail party for all cruisers usually held before dinner the first formal night.

Direct booking: booking with the cruise line yourself rather than using a travel agent.(this is what we did

Disembark: usually refers to a passenger leaving a ship, can also refer to a ship leaving port.

Document Dance: the intuitive response to seeing your cruise tickets printed.

Double digit midgit: a cruiser scheduled to sail in 99 days or less – politically incorrect message board term abbreviated DDM(We are double digits, 43 days until the cruise but 41 until vacation!)

Draft: how deeply a ship floats in the water; the distance from the waterline to the deepest portion of the ship.

e-docs: the computer paperwork printed after completing your cruise reservation over the Internet

Embarkation: the process of loading passengers aboard a cruise ship

Forward: in the direction of the front (bow) of the ship.

Friends of Bill W.: onboard meetings following the 12-step program of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Friends of Dorothy: onboard gatherings of gay cruisers. Dorothy is from the Wizard of Oz. Hope none of the guys are invited to this LOL

Galley: the “kitchen” area where the food is stored and prepared.

Gangway: a stairway or ramp passengers and crew use to access the ship.

Gross Tonnage: a standard term to convey the size of a ship by measuring its total internal volume.

Homeport: the regional port where passengers join a ship’s cruises a majority of the time.(Galveston for us)

Keel: the heavy steel shaft along the bottom of the ship that keeps it upright.

Key card: the magnetic strip plastic card used as your room key and to make onboard purchases. Also called “Sign and Sail card.”

Knot: (nautical mile): a measure of a ship’s speed, a common expression is one knot equals 1.1506779 statute (land) miles. Technically, it is a measure of distance or location where one knot equals one minute of latitude along any meridian.

Midship (amidships): the area of the ship generally halfway between bow and stern along the length of the ship.

Minibar: usually just a small refrigerator containing alcoholic beverages and a cabinet with glasses, ice bucket, etc.

Muster Drill: a safety drill run at the beginning of every cruise. Passengers are shown where to find their life vests, and where to assemble to prepare to enter their assigned lifeboats (muster station).

Muster Station: the place crewmembers and passengers are instructed to assemble if an emergency bell sounds. From the muster station passengers would be guided to lifeboats in an emergency.

Norwalk Virus: a common gastro-intestinal virus causing vomitting and diarrhea that can break out on cruise ships. To avoid it wash your hands often.

Onboard account: a running bill for purchases made on the ship, usually delivered to your room the last night and paid just before leaving the ship.

Onboard credit (OBC): credit applied towards your onboard purchases. Often an incentive or reward, or compensation.

Past passenger program: cruise line programs to reward repeat passengers. Benefits increase with frequency, perks include free laundry, get-togethers, ship credit, etc. Aka loyalty programs.

Pilot: a local navigation specialist who comes aboard to assist the captain in navigating certain ports.

Pilot boat: the small boat which brings the pilot to or retrieves the pilot from the ship.

Pitch: up and down motion of ship usually as it sails perpendicular to the ocean swells. Most obvious at the bow of the ship.

Pod: a self-contained ship’s engine and propellar mounted onto the hull at the back of the ship. Pods can rotate to steer the ship, replacing traditional propellar and rudder systems.

Port: a facility for a ship to interface with land; (2) the left side of the ship when facing forward.

Purser: officer in charge of financial accounting on a ship, works at the passenger service’s desk, or “front desk.” Watches your onboard spending and tallies your final bill.

Repeater’s party: a cocktail party hosted for passengers who have sailed the cruise line before (past passenger party).

Repositioning Cruise: Fall and Spring journeys from one seasonal cruising region to another; known for many days at sea while you cross the world’s major oceans. Generally good value cruises on a per diem basis.

Room Steward: the person who cleans your stateroom, delivers towels, etc.

Rocking: side to side motion of the ship, usually as a ship sails parallel to the ocean swells.

Sail & Sign Card: a magnetic stripe plastic card that works as your room key, boarding pass, identification card and onboard charge card during the cruise.

Shore Excursion: a tour sold onboard a cruise ship, (shorex) the staff who offers and manages land tours.

Starboard: the right-hand side of the ship when facing forward.

Stern: the rounded, back end of the ship.

Swell: the rising and rolling motion of the surface of the sea away from shore, a non-breaking ocean wave.

Tender: a small boat used to get passengers ashore when a ship is at anchor instead of alongside a dock. Tenders are used regularly in islands with no dock facilities. Tenders often look like lifeboats.

Theme cruise: a cruise geared toward people with a common interest, i.e. sports, culinary, music, etc.

Thruster: small perpendicularly mounted propellers in the keel that move the ship sideways, usually located both forward and aft.

Traditional dining: the system where passengers eat at the same time and table each evening with the same tablemates and waitstaff each night. This is largely being replaced by open-seating, anytime dining. Our dining time is 8:30 pm

Transatlantic: a cruise that crosses the Atlantic ocean in either direction

Transcanal: a cruise that sails through a canal, most often used in reference to the Panama Canal

Travel insurance: insurance to cover various aspects of loss before or during your vacation.

Underway: the time when the ship is sailing from one port to the next

Windward: exposed to the wind, as on one side of an island prone to prevailing winds

Now we will be super smart!

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