Thursday, April 26, 2007

Cruising for Dummies: Ten Things You Should Know


One thing most people do not know about their luggage is that is typically does not arrive until three or four hours after you have boarded the ship. It usually comes RIGHT before or during the first dinner time. So it is important to pack things you will need or want with your carry on, such as: bathing suits, or important paperwork.


This is a major must. There are not only a ton of cool things to buy, but staff pays to pay, the cost of alcoholic drinks, and the extra charges to get in Johnny Rockets. You can put money on the room key they give you. They charge things you buy on the ship on this card. Everything you buy onboard is charged on this card and you pay what you owe at the end of the cruise. It is easier to just put money on it and try not to abuse it like a credit card.


Being early to shows is a must. Seats fill up fast! Also events that are held on the deck, or on the promenade get packed with people and you may not get the best view if you do not get there early.


There are many, many sets of stairs on the ship. It also may be quite a walk to your cabin, especially if you are on the complete opposite end of the boat from where your cabin is loacted.


Once you board the ship it is always good to walk around and find where specific places/things are located. Even after spending four days on the ship, I would still get lost or forget where places where. It is a lot to remember.


If you want to eat at some of the nicer restaurants onboard, you need to make reservations early so you can reserve a spot because they fill up quick. The same goes for getting tickets to see the ice show. Get them as soon as you can.


Do not be afraid to take part in activities offered onboard like ice skating, karaoke, guys sexy leg contest, water volleyball and countess other. Even if you aren't the best just try, it is fun and the people always cheer you on no matter how bad you are. (You can even ask my Dad about this, he can prove this point by telling you about his karaoke experience.)


At dinner there are always photographers taking pictures of families and couples before they go in to eat. It is very professional and there are nice backgrounds. It is free to get your picture taken, but they are extremely expensive. So it is best to just take your own pictures.


There are always locals hasseling you to buy a necklace, get your hair braided or go parasailing. If you want to buy something or get your hair in corn rows then go for it, but they are everywhere when you get off the ship, and at the different beaches.


Enjoy yourself, that is what vacation is all about. Oh and wear sunscreen, sunburns suck!!!

Friday, April 20, 2007


I've been to Tennessee countless times and the beauty of the land along with the entertainment never cease to amaze me.The Smokey Mountains are probably one of the most beautiful things I have seen in my life. During the fall the sight is even more spectacular. The mountainside resembles a sea of red, orange, yellow and brown.

There are many different parks and trails to visit and hike. The parks offer a lot of insight about various animals that can be seen throughout the hills, such as lions, tigers, and bears! OH MY! Well okay, Tennessee doesn’t really have lions and tigers, but there are bears. My family and I were driving and ran into a backup of cars and people with cameras. We looked to the right off the side of the road and saw about three brown bears. My heart raced in both fear and excitement. It was a little frightening since I’d never seen any bears in the wild before, and for that same reason it was thrilling.

My family and I hiked a path to see a waterfall, and I didn’t know what I was getting into. I can’t remember how far the trail was exactly, but I do remember thinking it wouldn’t take too long. Well....the thing is, the path was very long, or so it seemed. It was an extremely hot day out, and the time of year when bugs were everywhere. Hiking uphill on a hot fall day was horrible, and it made the distance feel twice as long. It was all well worth it when we FINALLY arrived at the waterfall. It was beautiful. The waterfall was a lot bigger than I had imagined it would be, and it had a few levels to it that people were climbing to. That was one hike I definitely do again, but maybe when it’s not so hot out.

Whenever we visit the Smokey Mountains we go on a helicopter ride over the mountains and specific areas. It’s a great opportunity to ride a helicopter for the first time, or see the beauty of Tennessee from the sky. If anyone has ever seen the show "Christie" that used to be on (back in the early 90's I believe), with the school teacher, that was set back in the hills of Tennessee. My family and I actually went there (well trespassed) and walked through the school and church in the show. Learn more about it. Read about the show. It was a very cool experience, and I thank God we didn’t go to jail.

I love Tennessee and wouldn’t mind returning there sometime soon, nor would I mind possible living there someday. The beauty of the mountains and wildlife always captivates me, and takes my breath away.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The Hassles of Vacationing

Traveling, and vacationing can be great, but the hassles that come with it are not. The first thing I have to worry about is packing. This is the part I hate the most. It takes too much thought and creative cramming. I tend to always over pack too. Take my last vacation for example, it was a seven day cruise to San Juan, Puerto Rico, St. Thomas, and Nassau, and I packed enough clothes to last me a month. Maybe it is just because I am a girl, and we tend to do such things. The hardest part of packing is trying to fit everything I want to bring into one suitcase. My suitcase was overflowing with shirts, shorts, styling products inside of plastic bags, and shoes of every shape and color. I had to put it by the edge of a trampoline and jump onto it with twenty pound weights in each hand while my parents tried to zip it shut. Every item had to be in a certain spot in order to make it all fit, in a way it worked my mind just like a puzzle, trying to figure out where that piece needs to go in order for it all to work. I sat there on my bed with a wrinkle in my forehead from going through my daily routines, and trying to think about all the little things I needed. I thought about this for a long time, and re-played it in my head to make sure I had thought of everything, but somehow it still felt like I was forgetting something. I knew better than to sit around wondering what it could be, since most likely it was just my mind playing games with me.

The part of this trip my family and I struggled with the most was fitting the luggage into the car. We looked like a pack of cavemen all huddled around a bow and arrow, scratching our heads in deep thought as to how this was going to fit. The clothes going into the suitcase seemed like a puzzle that led us to a larger puzzle; arranging the luggage in the car so that everything would seem to belong.

Our flight was at 8:30 in the morning, so that meant getting up around the time I usually go to bed. Of course we had to get there early and wait in line to be frisked and personally violated. It was just wonderful! After all of that jazz, came the dreaded waiting period. We found our terminal and just sat around for an hour or so listening to the announcement of "not to leave your luggage unattended, because unattended luggage will be confiscated", playing every five minutes while we became feebleminded by the lack of stimulation occurring in our brains. I might as well have been locked up in a padded room rocking back and worth while listening to the same noise over and over again.

I am not sure that I should even bring up the food situation. All the sitting around on the cold pleather seats managed to get my stomach rumbling. I ventured off in search of a food stand. The smell of cinnamon and fresh coffee lifted me up by my nose and reeled me in. Like a little kid at Christmas time, I anxiously waited until it was my turn. I gave them my order and they rang me up. After paying them, I looked into my wallet only to see cobwebs of desolation.

When it finally came time to board the plane, we were taken by tram to what I thought was a matchbox. The plane was so small you had to crouch down to avoid hitting your head on the ceiling. Sitting there for two hours was awkward. You had as much leg room as a seven foot man trying to fit in a kids toy car. It was ridiculous. We managed to survive, and with only a few dozen charley horses, my family and I started our vacation.

Boarding the cruise ship is a very long process. We had to wait in more lines, but at least there were cookies and drinks offered to us. Unlike the airport they were free. The wait is well worth it though once we got on the ship. My jaw hit the floor in amazement. I had seen pictures of the inside and different parts of the boat, but they do not do to it justice at all. I never in my wildest dreams could have prepared myself for that first step into the ship.

I do believe that next time I go on vacation I am going to bring one empty piece of luggage with me. I always buy tons of things like purses and shirts. If it was already hard enough to fit the puzzle pieces together before we left, now it was definitely going to be a challenge. I had all of the items I brought, along with the new things I bought and was bringing back. Even if I did not buy anything, it’s still a challenge re-packing, and still never seems to fit as well as it did before, and I spent way too much time on it.

When our vacation was over we headed back to the Miami Airport to fly home. Again we had to go through the usual chaos and stress of long lines, waiting, high prices on food, waiting, hearing the same announcement, oh and waiting. We did get on a plane that was a little larger then the previous one we came on. We were treated with only the best...peanuts and pop again. Yum!

One of the most stressful parts of our vacation was retrieving our luggage. My parents and I tied various colors of tape and yarn to our bags so we could find them easily. It still took at least a half an hour though because they were mixed with other bags too. Getting to them was definitely an obstacle. We had to shove our way through people and try to grab a very heavy, moving item, while not falling or throwing our backs out. It was like we were training for the army, and we had to run around poles and grab a body that was floating by. Retrieving our luggage was no simple task.

This experience and others like them have helped me in many ways. I now understand what is going to take place before I reach my vacation destination and how to deal with it. While packing will always be stressful, I can pack lighter which will help. The lines for security at the airport will also never change, (most likely not for the better) but I can double and triple check that I am not wearing anything metal and that I left my guns (except for my muscles) at home. As for the food, or lack thereof, we have learned to bring our own snacks. Vacations may seem like a job, with all the work you have to put into it, and there may be chaos and stress before hand, but it is all worth it for a little relaxation.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Nassau, Bahamas

Bermuda, Bahama, you know you wanna. Nassau, Bahamas, a place I love visiting because of the beauty and attractions. The first time I ever went to Nassau was terrific. I was excited to go to the beach and see what the island had to offer. Like most islands, there are the occasional run down areas, but the nicer parts definatly over shadow them.

When my family and I arrived on the island we grabbed a taxi and headed to Paradise Island (a specific part of the island) to go see the Atlantis Hotel. Once we got there my jaw immediatly dropped. It's huge! The outside of the hotel is painted a caribbean pink and is decorated with oceanic creatures and objects, and countless fountains. The enterance of the hotel consists of two massive ten foot iron doors. You walk into a huge lobby that has stairs that lead down to the dining room, and an aquarium full of tropical fish, sting rays, and sharks. To the left when you enter the lobby is the casino. It is filled with statues and artwork of all sorts. One main theme you will find throughout the hotel is glass artwork. There are also detailed paintings on the ceilings of angels, Gods, and the different zodiac signs.

Not only does the hotel have beauty, it also has amazing shops. In the hotel there are many different, expensive shops with brand goods such as Gucci and Rolex. The shops are not the only expensive things, the rooms are not cheap at all. The cheapest room in the hotel is around $300 a night, while the most expensive is about $2400 a night.

The hotel does offer great activities to the guests staying there. You can snorkel, swim with stingrays, or just relax by the private pool and bar area. My family and I though go to a beach a mile or so away. It is a little hidden behind a hill that you have to walk up and over. It actually makes it even more spectacular to see. Once you come up over the hill you are taken back by the white sand and crystal clear water before you.

On our most recent trip to Nassau, we re-visited this beach only to find rough water, huge waves, and the shoreline all tore up from a recent storm. We decided to head back to the ship so we walked up toward a hotel just off the beach. Once inside we got some water and the hotel called for a taxi to come pick us up. Little did we know an Excursion would be taking us back. (This is awesome and rare since most taxis are just large vans with no air conditioning that can fit ten, but the drivers always cram in fourteen) If anyone has seen the movie Casino Royale that just came out, the hotel Bond stays in during the beginning of the movie, is the same hotel we were in. It's pretty cool.

So if you ever go on a cruise and travel to Nassau check out the Atlantis Hotel and the beach behind it. Beware of the locals trying to braid your hair, sell you purses, bracelets, and drugs, they are everywhere!!! Have fun, and be prepared with a credit card if you want to buy anything from the Atlantis Hotel.

Picture: The Atlantis Hotel

Picture: The aquarium in the Atlantis Hotel, me pretening to be smooching a fish. I'll try to find more pictures to add for everyone to see.

Thursday, April 5, 2007


Ever traveled to Canada eh? If not let me inform you about an exciting place to visit there called Niagra Falls. This is a very beautiful place to see. There is a lot to do and see here other than just the falls. There are tons of shops, arcades, clubs and restaurants. Also you can see the horror houses and museums that they have to offer. Of course the main reason for visting Niagra Falls are the falls itself. There is the American side of the falls, and the Canadian side, which has the Horseshoe falls. You can go on a "journey behind the falls" which is where you can explore tunnels that led you behind the falls. There is also the Maid of the Mist ride you can go on. You put on a plastic raincoat and board a ferry that takes you right into the mist of the falls. These are just a few of the many activites you will find involving the falls. At night there are different colored spot lights that are shown on the water of the falls. It is very beautiful because they change colors, and light the falls up magnificently. There is quite a night life at Niagra Falls. On the strip there are bars and clubs to dance and drink the night away. Also you can visit the many souvenir shops they have. If you are in the mood to have some fun, check out the arcades or go to the casino. The Hershey store is a must-see. The smell of chocolate lingers into the streets outside. Inside you will find all the best chocolate that your mouth waters for. Up the street is the Ripleys Believe it or Not Museum. This is another great place to explore, and learn interesting things. You can also make your own wax hand. There are plenty of things to do and see at Niagra Falls. You can see a major wonder of the world, or enjoy the entertainment it has to offer.