Carnival Miracle: Embarkation!!!

So, I had to tell you a little something about Cruise Critic before I got to this point simply because I got so much information about this home port from there.

Anywho, if you are joining us for the first time, here’s Part I, Part II and Part III.

We woke up at the crack of dawn. Remember, we passed out early because we were still on eastern time. So, early to bed meant too early to rise. It was pitch black. I dozed, but I couldn’t really get any good sleep. When the sun finally came up, we got up and dressed and headed down to breakfast at the Promenade Cafe. I had the steak & eggs. The food was only okay. It wasn’t terrible, but a little overpriced for what I got.

Normally, I like to arrive at port around 10 or 10:30, but I had read on cruise critic that debarkation was a little later than I’m used to on the east coast, so we planned to do the free self-guided tour of the Queen Mary. Plus, we only had to walk through the parking lot to get to the ship, so travel time was not a factor.

We went down to the basement level to get the headsets to start the tour, but we saw the ship in port and all the people lined up and we immediately got impatient to get on the ship. So, we did a 180 and headed back to the room to get our bags and check out.

The Carnival Miracle from the deck of the Queen Mary
The Carnival Miracle from the deck of the Queen Mary

Remember that loooooooong walk down the hallaway? Welp, we had to drag our bags back. LOL! We got to the elevators only to find EVERYBODY checking out. We waited by those two tiny little elevators (no way was I dragging 4 bags up the stairs after that long walk). We waited. And waited. And waited. Then the doors magically opened! But an elderly couple was in the elevator looking to get to the Sun Deck. We told them which floor it was on and sadly watched the doors close on us. Sigh.

So, we waited. And waited. And waited. Then magically, the other elevator door opened! Guess what? That same elderly couple was in that elevator looking for the Sun Deck! Deja Vu! This time, I stepped in to press the button for them and then got out to sadly watch the doors close on us.

Miracle of all miracles, the other doors opened and no one was inside! Yay! We squeezed in there with our luggage like a can of sardines! By the time we got downstairs to the parking lot, my Mom said she wanted to take a cab through the parking lot to the terminal! And she was serious! I asked her how long was she willing to wait for a cab? She thought about that for a moment. I told her I refused to pay for a cab to drive me to the other side of the parking lot. I mean really! She caved and off we went! We had to take the scenic route since they were having a winter festival, but we made it through in a bout 5 minutes.

The crowd at the terminal was hectic and no one was boarding yet. It looked to be a long line even for the platinum and diamond cruisers. As much as I hear them fussing about lack of perks on the cruise critic boards, I have to say that the long line they were standing in would be one I would complain about.

At Long Beach, you drop your luggage over by the parking deck and then go check-in. So, we did that and then got in line. We filled out our health screening questionnaire and eagerly awaited our turn to get our sail & sign card. The line moved pretty quickly and the agent we got was super friendly. By the time we finished with everything, they were calling our zone! We lined up to board. There was an extra pep in our step. We skipped the embarkation photo and hallelujah we stepped onto the ship!

The first stop we had to make was at guest services to arrange the burial at sea for Gramma. Guest services was super nice. They offered their condolences and explained the process. The service can only be done on a sea day and you have to have a biodegradable urn. We purchased ours directly from the crematorium, but there are a plethora of online stores you can get one from. They said that the environmental officer would contact us to let us know what day we could have the ceremony. I had also contacted John Heald, Carnival’s Ambassador on his Facebook page to request this be arranged.

After leaving guest services, we headed up to the Lido deck for food. It wasn’t quite 1pm. We’re not platinum (yet!) and had not purchased Faster to the Fun, so our room wasn’t ready. We both had burgers and fries. By the time we finished eating, it was 1:30pm and figured the room would be ready.

After we dropped our bags off, we walked around a little to get the lay of the land (or boat lol). Here’s a view of the Queen Mary from the deck of the Carnival Miracle.

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We went back to the room to see if our bags had come, but they hadn’t. We had ordered two cases of water from Bon Voyage to be delivered to the room, but only one was there. We decided that we’d stop by guest services after muster to ask about it. In the meantime, I took a couple of photos of Long Beach from our balcony.

We went to muster and met a Pastor from Las Vegas. He said that he and his wife and recently done an Alaska cruise with an excursion on the Alaska train. This is on my bucket list!

Our muster buddy from Vegas!
Our muster buddy from Vegas!

Shortly after muster, you kinda expect to sail away, but um err uh, we didn’t sail away. There was no explanation. We kinda just sat there. It was dark when we left.

Late Long Beach departure.
Late Long Beach departure.

We’re still on eastern standard time, so we were too sleepy to make it to a show after dinner. Another night where we went to bed waaaaay to early. But, as you’ll soon see, there was at least one benefit…

Up next: Sea Days 1 – 4

Until next time.

Your Cruise Girl

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Long Beach Part III

I really appreciate you hanging in here with me. I know it’s taking me a while to share my whole trip experience with you, but you know how life sometimes gets in the way…

Anywho, if this is your first time visiting and you want to get caught up, here’s Part I and Part II.

So, where did I leave off? Oh, yeah. Walmart. We were going to be gone for so long, I wanted to have some sense of normalcy, so we brought our favorite teas. We drop our tea bags into a bottle of water, add sugar, and go. Welp, I use Splenda Sugar Blend and if you’ve ever tried, you know it’s almost impossible to recreate the mix with sugar and Splenda. So, I decided a trip to Walmart was in order. Luckily, there was one not too far from the hotel.

Right outside of the parking lot of the Queen Mary is a stop for the Long Beach Passport. It’s a free shuttle that takes you around the city.

Long Beach Passport

We hopped on!
Long Beach Passport

It’s a nice way to see the city and you can’t get any cheaper than free. Lol. The driver let us off at the stop for Walmart and told us how to walk the few blocks to the store. I live in the southeast and the Walmarts here are usually in a large shopping center or all by themselves, but this was quite the urban location. It looked like any other store in a downtown shopping area, but once you walk inside, you know you’re at Walmart. I don’t know how it happened, but I only bought the sugar that I went in for. If you’ve been to Walmart, you know how easy it is to overspend.

While we were on the bus headed to Walmart, we saw several restaurants and decided we’d stop at one for dinner on the way back. Since my Mom has dietary restrictions, she gets to choose the restaurant and she decided to go to Bubba Gumps.

We ate good!

After dinner, we hopped back on the Passport to go back to the Queen Mary. It was a really quick ride and the buses were comfortable and clean.

It was still early when we got back to our room. But our bodies were still on eastern standard time, so we passed out a little after 9pm. Rather boring for a Friday night if you ask me. But jet lag is a son of a female dog and it hit hard. lol

Up next: Embarkation!!!!

Until next time (which hopefully won’t be too long),

Your Cruise Girl

Travel Entertainment: Books

The last post was about the movies I took with me. This post is about books. Now, I am an avid reader, but in spurts. When I’m in the mood, I can read 500 pages a day. And I love me some historical romance novels. So here are the books I took with me on the trip:

1. True Love by Jude Deveraux
This was a book I was looking forward to. We were on the plane headed west and I had just finished watching God’s Not Dead. We didn’t really have time to start another movie, so I started this book. I only finished chapter two before I had to put it away for landing, but I knew I’d get back to it at the hotel just before bedtime. I got to read just one more chapter before I passed out from jet lag exhaustion. When I got up the next morning, we packed up and headed to the next adventure. I only realized after the boat had sailed that I left the book in the hotel. Can we say mad? 😤 Now I’m down a book.
True Love by Jude Deveraux

2. The Accidental Countess by Valerie Bowman
This is a new author for me, but I will say she did a great job! I was intrigued with the characters from the beginning and it made me want to read the other books in this series.
The Accidental Countess by Valerie Bowman

3. The Mystery Woman by Amanda Quick
It had been a while since I’d read Amanda Quick, but I looked forward to this story because of the Arcane Society. Those series of novels add an extra flair to the danger and romance.
The Mystery Woman by Amanda Quick

4. Midnight Rider by Kat Martin
Kat Martin is fairly new to me as well, however, I have read just about everything she’s written in short order. She’s goooood. I was a little leary about reading this one only because I never had much of an interest in the spaniard-hero novels. But, she gets the benefit of the doubt. I wasn’t disappointed.
Midnight Rider by Kat Martin

5. By Winter’s Light by Stephanie Laurens
So, I bought this in the airport on the way home because I left my other book at the hotel.😡 (Still mad about that. Can you tell?) I had watched all the movies on the ship, so I needed something to occupy my time. And who doesn’t love Stephanie Laurens?
By Winter's Light by Stephanie Laurens

What books do you take on vacation? Oh! By the way, I still read books the old-fashioned way. No digital books for me. How do you read books? And what genres make your vacation great?

Until next time…

Your Cruise Girl

Travel Entertainment: Movies

So, I was planning to be gone for two weeks. We had a total of 8 sea days and over 10 hours flight time round trip. I definitely needed to plan my personal entertainment.

The easiest choices were the movies. I picked movies I wanted to see, but hadn’t yet had time to watch. Normally, I wouldn’t take my iPad with me on a cruise, but with so much downtime, I kinda didn’t have a choice. I mean, I had just upgraded from the Air to the the Air 2. Who leaves the new gadget at home? Definitely not me! So, here is the movie playlist:

1. Conan the Destroyer
Conan the Destroyer
So, this is obviously an old movie, but I had just recently found out that Mom had never seen either of the Conan movies. I was completely aghast! So, we had already watched the first one and decided to add this to the playlist so she could join the rest of us. lol

2. Edge of Tomorrow
Edge of Tomorrow
I’ve been trying to tell Tom Cruise to retire through my movie screen, but somehow the message never gets through and he puts out another movie. Sigh. But, the plot was interesting, so I gave it a try. It was actually pretty good.

3. A Million Ways to Die in the West
A Million Ways to Die in the West
I actually didn’t get around to watching this one…

4. Sex Tape
Sex Tape
This was absolutely hee-larry-us!! I recommend it!

5. God’s Not Dead
God's Not Dead
This was an intellectual feel good movie. I will admit, not everyone will enjoy it. It starts out a little slow and the acting is not the best, but overall, I enjoyed it.

6. Neighbors
Neighbors
Another funny movie. I enjoyed this immensly!

7. Hercules
Hercules
I enjoyed the action and of course The Rock was easy on the eyes! This was a better storyline than the Hercules movie released earlier in 2014.

8. Tammy
Tammy
This was not what I expected. It had funny moments, but overall the movie left me nonplussed.

I was pretty shocked that I had actually watched so many movies while on vacation. But I’m glad I had them. Do you take movies with you on vacation?

Until next time…

Your Cruise Girl

Long Beach Part II

So, where did I leave off? (Read OUR FIRST TRAVEL DAY: LONG BEACH to get caught up.) Oh yeah, arriving at the Queen Mary.

When we pulled up at around 4pm, the parking lot was full of activity. They have winter events they put on every year and folks were out to enjoy them. I knew we wouldn’t have time to participate, but it looked like fun.

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The Queen Mary is actually docked at the pier and you have to go through a terminal-type building to come aboard.

The main lobby was beautiful and the line to check-in was short. Check-in is scheduled at 4pm, so we were right on-time. I’d read on trip advisor that you should get a harbor view room because it’s quieter on that side and the view is beautiful. The harbor view rooms are first-come, first-served. Luckily, since we got there right at check-in time, they had one available. Our room was on B deck, so we had to go down one floor. The elevator was very antiquated and tiny, but it worked. Our room was aft. Very far aft. Like all the way aft. Lol. It was a looooong walk to the cabin.

Our cabin was spacious and comfortable. We got the Family Cabin with Queen beds. This is suite-level type ish… I wonder how much this cabin cost back in the day…

I give The Queen Mary high marks for truthful advertisement. I had read some disparaging remarks on trip advisor, but I’m glad I didn’t let that stop me. The room I got looks exactly as advertised. Their photo obviously has better lighting though. lol

By the time we dragged our luggage down the loooong hallway (I know I’ve said it already, but it was really long lol), we needed a brief break. I needed to get to a Walmart to buy a bag of Splenda Sugar Blend (my only calorie compromise in life). That trip was a nice little outing and deserves its own post, so I guess there’ll be a Long Beach Part III. I promise I won’t make you wait too long.

Thanks for sticking with me!

Until next time…

Your Cruise Girl

Our First Travel Day: Long Beach

While it’s not my first time traveling to the left coast, it has been so long since I’ve done it that it might as well be my first time.

Since I’m going to be gone for so long, I decided it would be more cost effective to leave my car at home. I used the Curb app to schedule a taxi. It will only let you schedule for the current or next day, so I had to schedule a reminder to remind me to schedule a taxi. Lol


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Curb is really easy to use and you can even pay for the trip (including tip) right from the app. They give out discounts for referrals, so if you’re using the app, share with those you know so you can get a little monetary assistance.

Once I made the reservation, I received an email to confirm. In my city, Curb contacted the Yellow Cab Company. I arranged for the taxi to arrive at 10:15, but he was a little late. When I called to find out where he was, the automated system knew it was me and told me that he was 0.2 miles from my house. Right after I hung up, the driver called to ask for directions. He had passed the house. He was a really nice guy and got us to the airport in no time. I’m only 3 exits away on the interstate, so it was a quick drive.

We flew on the new American Airlines. Our trip west was on US Airways and was a direct flight. Check-in was a breeze. My bag weighed 52.5lbs, but they didn’t even blink an eye. I guess they charge for overweight bags if you are significantly over the mark. My Mom has the TSA Pre✔️ and was able to breeze through security in less than 5 minutes. I, on the other hand, was stuck in a long line. I told the officer that was monitoring our line that Mom had time to take a nap while she waited. Lol

By the time we got to the gate, our flight was boarding, so our timing was pretty perfect. I will say, the flight was way too long. I mean, I wanted a direct flight, but who wants to be stuck in one spot for 5.5 hours straight? I would prefer connecting flights if I have to go this far again. Luckily, that’s what we have coming back.

The flight was uneventful and I was able to watch the movie God’s Not Dead. I thought it was going to be a sappy, religious movie, but it was actually pretty good. It helped while away the hours. I only had one snack, so I had to purchase something else. I bought Pringles for $4. That’s just unnecessarily expensive. I looked at the meals they had, but I didn’t like the options. They would have been more filling and satisfying than those chips. And the chips were cold. 😏

Once we landed and got our luggage, we headed over to Super Shuttle to catch a ride. I also reserved this prior to our trip. They got us checked in and I immediately received a confirmation text letting me know they had a van coming. We only waited about 10 minutes before the van to Long Beach came. We had a good ride and driver. It took about 30 minutes. I passed exits of some of the famous streets I’ve heard of like Crenshaw and La Cienega. The amount of traffic on the 405 was interesting and CA has an interesting way of merging traffic on to the highway: they have a traffic light. Each green allows three cars to merge. Interesting.

I’ll continue Long Beach on the next post. It includes a trip to Wal
-Mart!🎉

Until next I write,

Your Cruise Girl

Preparing to Honor Hawaii in Photographs

I have many hobbies. Photography is not one of them. I enjoy taking photos, but I want it to be easy. A quality photo is not something I want to put a lot of work into. Having said that, wouldn’t it be a shame to use my very old Sony Cybershot with 7.2mp to capture the beauty of Hawaii? The least I can do is purchase a more updated camera, right? I mean, how often will I get to Hawaii?

So, after some research and comparisons, I came up with this:

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A Canon PowerShot ELPH 150 IS. In blue 😜!

Now, I will say that my Sony Cybershot has served me well. There really is nothing wrong with it and it still works perfectly. It’s just outdated. Here are the features of my new love:

From the Canon website:
*10x Optical Zoom helps ensure outstanding optical performance and versatility.
*20.0 Megapixel sensor combined with the DIGIC 4+ Image Processor for outstanding performance.
*Shoot 720p HD video with a dedicated movie button.
*Smart AUTO intelligently selects the proper camera settings based on 32 predefined shooting situations.
*Intelligent IS automatically chooses from eight different modes to optimize image stabilization for the shooting condition.
*Scene Modes such as Fisheye Effect, Toy Camera Effect and Monochrome provide creative freedom to capture your photos.
*ECO Mode helps reduce power consumption for longer battery life.
*Help Button provides simple explanations and easy control of your settings.

I’ve been playing around with it and it takes some really good pictures. I think Hawaii will be proud.

Until I write again

Your Cruise Girl

Where has the Time Gone?

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OMG!

Like, I have just 5 days to get it together! While I feel like I’m not prepared, I can say that I have been steadily checking things off my list.

By the way, Happy Thanksgiving!

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I made the usual – Cornish hen, stuffing, Mac & cheese, and an almond pound cake. Mom made cabbage. It was good and filling. I am officially fat. Lol

Anywho, I’m washing clothes, shopping for those last minute necessities, shopping (and crafting) for Christmas, cleaning and preparing the close up the house, packing and let’s not forget Black Friday shopping. Sheesh! I’m tired just typing all of that! Lol

In the next couple of days, my calendar is full of random little tasks and errands like going to the bank, filling prescriptions at the pharmacy, and putting a hold on the mail.

I feel like I’m gonna overpack and forget something. You ever do that?

I was gonna have this post be about the excursions we booked, but I need a little more down-time to get that posted. Maybe next post.

Until I write again,

Your Cruise Girl

Hawaii Pre-Planning: The Hotel

So, when we booked this cruise, we were only 25 days out. 😳

That’s less than a month to plan for a 15 day cruise that leaves right after Thanksgiving and returns right before Christmas. This will definitely be a test of my organizational skills.

We’re on the east coast and the ship leaves out of Long Beach, CA. Got our flights booked. We looked at flying directly into Long Beach, but flights were cheaper flying into LAX. I booked Super Shuttle for the trip to the hotel and back from the port after the cruise.

Now for the hotel…

I belong to a forum called Cruise Critics and they recommended a couple of the regular hotels in Long Beach. They were mostly major chains with the amenities you would expect. But there was one hotel that was recommended that was a little different. It was The Queen Mary. That’s right, the old ship. It’s now a hotel. Trip Advisor has it listed with a 4/5 of almost 3,000 reviews. With so much history, it’s nice that you get an audio tour of the ship and discounts to the other attractions.

We’re booked for the Family Stateroom with 2 Queen beds. The room has a port hole.

Photo of Family Stateroom with 2 Queen Beds

Now, based on what I’ve read, the rooms don’t always look like they do on the website. The site does say that each room is different and I will keep in mind how old the ship is. I told my mom that there were reports of ghosts and she seemed excited by that. I’m not sure how I feel about it, but I’m up for a new experience. I can stay at a major chain hotel anywhere, but I can only stay at the Queen Mary when I’m in Long Beach. Plus, it has the added benefit of literally being walking distance from the Carnival Port.

I think it’s also kinda cool to stay on a boat before I get on a boat. 😊

Here’s a video to tell you a little bit about the ship:

And this will be going on while we’re there…

Until I write again…

Your Cruise Girl