Family Cruise 2017


Oh my gracious, September is rolling by faster than I can keep up with.  I have a mental list of things I want to accomplish this month and am sadly very far behind. At least I am keeping up with a few of the important things like birthdays, bathing, and blogs.

As couples go Scott and I are pretty compatible.  It’s amazing to find someone that enjoys so many of the same things you do.  It makes for a lot of adventures and happiness.  I wish I could say that we agree on everything but sadly we don’t.  He likes spam, sauerkraut, and yard work.  I do not enjoy any of those things.  The strangest difference we have is that I love dessert and he does not.  Seriously? How can you not love the sweetness of desserts? It’s mind blowing.

On a Carnival cruise you will find plenty of opportunities to feed that sweet tooth. At every meal on the Lido there is an area set up with sweet goodness.  You will find a selection of cookies, cakes, pies, and even brownies.  I must say that I have not found a dessert I haven’t liked so far.  In the main dining rooms they offer desserts at the end of each meal.  You can have more than one.  My personal favorite is when they have carrot cake.  This is usually the last night of the cruise. Like I mentioned previously, Scott is not a dessert lover but he does get the assortment of fruits and cheeses at the end of his meals in the main dining room.

On one of the sea days the Lido offers a chocolate indulgence.  There is an area setup with amazing offerings of chocolate desserts.  On our last cruise they even made mini swans out of some of the chocolate desserts.

On deck 5 Promenade you will find the Coffee Bar. Here you can have specialty coffees, teas, milkshakes, and desserts.  Items from this area are an extra charge.  You can also purchase candy and sweets at Cherry On Top.

I should probably consider going on a diet before the cruise so I can eat the sweet goodies.

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Port days

It’s Patriot Day.  A day to remember 9-11.  A sad day and I am sure everyone remembers where they were when those towers fell.  I would also like to do a shout out to the residents of Florida and hope everyone is safe after Irma’s visit. September is a big birthday month for our family so here is a shout out to Michael, Dad, Ryleigh, D.J., Kitten, and Kara. Now let’s get to the blog.

This week is about port days.  No not port as in wine but port as in the town or city with a harbor where ships load or unload.  We have several ports that we will be going to: Galveston, Cozumel, Belize, Mahogany Bay, and back to Galveston.

The port of Galveston is where we will be boarding for our seven day cruise.  I will have a blog post about just the boarding process as the cruise date gets closer.  I will also have another blog post for the return to the port of Galveston.  So, you should pretty much ignore the port of Galveston for now.  Act like it was never even mentioned.

This might get a little confusing because there are different factors that come into play when going into port.  I will break it up by whether or not you have an excursion booked thru Carnival and the port of Belize.

If you do not have an excursion booked thru Carnival then here is the overview of the disembarking process (the get off the ship process). When the ship arrives at the port they must first get inspected and granted permission from the port authorities to let passengers off.  This process takes some time so just chill.  The cruise director will keep making announcements of where to go and when to be there.  You will notice lines starting to form on deck three by the stairs.  You may not use the elevators to get to deck zero unless you are handicap so don’t even try. Simply get in line and be a lemming.  Follow the line of people down the stairs to deck zero.  At deck zero you will see several signs telling you that food cannot be taken off the ship.  It’s simple, don’t take food off the ship.  You can have unopened water bottles.  Make sure you have your driver’s license or passport along with your sail and sign card.  The ship’s security will swipe your sail and sign card as you exit the ship.  The process runs fairly smooth but the whole standing in line thing can get old. Once you have exited the ship head thru the duty free shop and begin you day ashore.

If you have an excursion booked thru Carnival one of two things will happen.  You will get tickets in your mailbox right outside your cabin.  The tickets will tell you where to meetup for the excursion.  In Cozumel we were told to go to the Ovation Theater and they called us by excursion group to get off the ship.  We still walked down to deck zero and went thru security to have our sail and sign cards scanned.  We then went to the center of the shopping area and found our tour and signed in.  It sounds kinda of intimidating going to a country you have never been to and then having to find your way to your excursion but it’s all about following the train of people.  When we went to Mahogany Bay our tickets told us to go to the port and locate our excursion by a sign being held up.  We found the sign easily and off we went.

In Belize things are different. Why? Because I said so. Just kidding.  It’s different because once you exit the ship you get right onto a boat.  Because of the reef along the port area the ships cannot pull up to a pier.  The ships anchor themselves out in the ocean and tender boats are used to transport passengers.  The ride is only 10-15 minutes in length.  Once you get to the pier, passengers are unloaded from the tender boats and directed where to meet up for excursions.  Again, just follow the crowds if you are nervous.

There is no need to panic or rush to get off the ship.  Pushing and shoving your way down the stairs is rude and can cause injury to yourself or others.  Since Scott is so good at throwing elbows I let him lead us down the stairs and I hold onto his backpack strap.  We have only had a few jerks that pushed their way thru and I am happy to announce that they forgot their sail and sign card so they had to go back to their cabin.  That’s called karma!  If you have a little kiddo I suggest you just carry them down the stairs.  It’s safer and quicker.

If you are handicap please go to the guest services deck the day before and let them know that you are going to be getting off the ship.  They will tell you where to meet up the next day.  This way you can use the elevators to deck zero.  If you are sweet enough you might also mention the other people in your party so you can all go down together.  I leave that up to you and your fellow party people.

If you have any thoughts or concerns about disembarking at the ports just leave a comment and I will get you the best answer I can.

Categories: Family Cruise 2017 | 1 Comment

Spending Money

I would like to say that we have been using our 3 day weekend to get things done and have been completely motivated.  The sad truth is absolutely not.  It’s been awesome!

Let’s talk money.  This is a subject that I am uncomfortable discussing.  Why? Well, this is the time that I admit how much money we spend playing on our cruise vacations.  I have read plenty of posts about the “formula” that cruisers use when deciding on how much spending cash to take….$100 per person per day. That’s all well and good if you are single or have a big spending budget.  Here is my insight for spending money:

Galveston: The Saturday before the cruise we head down to Galveston and spend the night.  Scott and I like to pick a restaurant that we haven’t been to before and have a nice dinner.  For the two of us we spend $50-$60. A couple of times we went and played tourist by checking out a local sight.  We play that by ear and how the weather is.

Boarding: The first day we don’t spend any additional money on the ship.  We take that first day to explore the ship and get ourselves settled in.

Sea Days:  We budget $50 to $100 on each sea day.  Scott might have a drink or two and I will play a game of bingo.  We always make Steakhouse reservations so in our pre-cruise budget we have $70 set aside for that. We aren’t big gamblers but will stick $20 into a slot hoping to hit it big.  One cruise we played almost 3 hours with one machine and our $20.  Yes, we play the same machine together.  It’s called bonding people. LOL When we sailed the Breeze last year I purchased the bento box at the Bonsai Sushi for $10 at lunch one day. We will buy a t-shirt or teddy bear at the Groove for St. Jude for $10.  There is the Seuss at Sea for $5 per person that we do the last sea day for breakfast.  It’s not just for kids.

Port Days: For port days be budget $50 each day.  We bring a backpack with some unopened bottled water and do our excursions in the morning.  We like to be back on the ship for lunch unless our excursion comes with lunch.  Cozumel is where we buy all of our souvenirs.

We have purchased pictures while on our cruises at an additional expense but for the most part Scott is the camera man.  There are also sales that happen in the Fun Shops and we will purchase a shirt for the boys or jewelry for the girls.

I cannot tell you how much money to spend on your cruise.  I can only give you guidelines that we use.  Just remember that Carnival has so many great activities all day long that there is plenty to keep you busy.  You have already spent the money on the cruise take advantage of everything it has to offer.

Categories: Family Cruise 2017, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Adults Only, Sorry Kiddos

Welcome to another Monday and the official 111 days mark until our family cruise.  Our thoughts and prayers are with the residents of Houston and surrounding area, bad Harvey!  Living in Central Texas we have been fortunate enough to only receive 3″ of rain spread over 4 days.

Today’s blog post is for adults only.  I guess kids can read it and be jealous of the fact that they can’t participate. On deck 5 the Promenade you will find the casino.  The glorious sights and sounds of people winning money or maybe just enjoying putting money into the machines.

I invite all of the adults in our cruising group to the casino on Monday, December 18th at a time to be determined.  The time will have to be when all children are in the clubs having a blast or being taken care of because they are not allowed in the casino except to walk thru.

I will be hosting a slot pull for all the adults that wish to participate.  It will cost each adult $5 to play.  We will pick a $1 slot machine and put all of our entry money in it.  Then in an order chosen by commenting the secret phrase, we will individually go up and pull the slot five times. After each adult has pulled the slot five times we will cash out our winnings and either split it up equally to each adult that played or use the money to buy drinks and celebrate our good fortune.

Here are the rules:

  • Each paying adults pulls five times
  • No matter what you win on your slot pulls it gets put into the winning pool.  Example: If Lulu pulls the slot five times and wins $30 those winnings just get added to the pool.  If Lala pulls next and gets nothing, she is still getting a cut of Lulu’s winnings. At the end both Lulu and Lala get $15 or a tab of $30 at the bar for them to enjoy together.
  • The host is the only one that can change the order people pull. The order will be determined by the order in which the phrase, “Big money, no whammies” is typed into the comments of this post.
  • Nobody in the cruise group is obligated to participate in the slot pull. We do reserve the right to gloat about our winnings to your face.
  • All monies are due when you arrive at the slot pull to play.
  • If the group decides to use the money at the bar you may chose a non alcoholic beverage.

If you have any questions about the slot pull please do not hesitate to ask.

Categories: Family Cruise 2017 | 3 Comments

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 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!

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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 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

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