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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That Little Forum Called Cruise Critic…

Before I get too deep into the cruise, let me tell you about a little site I happened upon one day while I was researching cruise information. I don’t wanna say that you are not an avid cruiser if you’ve never visited this site, but any cruiser worth their salt has been there at least once.

I found the site right after Carnival so graciously blessed me with a free cabin. I was in shock and disbelief for quite a few days. Any who, We chose the Carnival Breeze 8 day to the Southern Caribbean. Excited was an understatement.

So, I’m an avid reader. I like to read everything I can find on a subject that I am newly interested in and for this time period, it was the Carnival Breeze. A quick Google search brought up the site. Luckily (or really unluckily) I had a lot of free time on my hands since I was home with Pneumonia. And you really need a lot of time to take full advantage of everything that’s available. Whatever you want to know about cruises of any kind on any line is available there from people who have been on the ships. They have roll calls for future sailings where they set up meet & greets, cabin crawls and slot pulls.

Find out which cabins are noisy, where the best bartenders are and what lounge singers put on the best shows. Did they change the menu in the main dining room? Go to cruise critic. Which cruise director will you have? Go to cruise critic. First time cruiser and need tips for packing? Go to cruise critic. It’s like the library of congress for cruising.

Now, having said all that, these are human beings sharing their thoughts and opinions. As you can imagine, some people have bad days and can be not-so-nice sometimes. My philosophy is take what you need and leave the rest.

The link is below. If you are planning to cruise in the next 2 years, I would highly recommend visiting the site for information on the cruise line, ship and ports of call. It’s all there.

Have fun!

Cruise Critic Community
Cruise Critic Community

Until next time…

Your Cruise Girl

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

Worst Blogger. EVER!!

Yep, that’s me. I try to get on a schedule, but life happens. I’m sure it’s happening to other bloggers out there, but they are just able to get it done. I don’t know…is blogging for me? I feel like I have a lot to share, but if I don’t share it, what’s the point, right?

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I’m gonna do a little self-encouragement and start again. I still owe you my Hawaii trip. I haven’t forgotten, I just get caught up in other things. Well, this is my new resolution to re-commit my self.

You still love me? 🙏

Your Cruise Girl

Carnival Early Saver

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Have you ever booked with Carnival’s Early Saver rate? If you haven’t and you are a planner like myself, you probably should give it a look-see.

With Early Saver, you can book over a year in advance. If the price drops, Carnival will adjust your fare up until the final payment date. If the price drops after your final payment date, they will give you onboard credit. There are a few restrictions. I’ll give you the major ones. Click here to see all the terms and conditions.

The price drop only applies to your cruise fare. That means it does not include your taxes and port fees, insurance (if you purchase – and you should ALWAYS purchase), transfers, or prepaid gratuities.

The price drop is based on your cabin category. Cabin categories can be a little tricky and complicated, so let’s just say inside to inside, ocean view to ocean view and balcony to balcony. There are exceptions of course. But we’ll tackle that in-depth on another post.

You can’t downgrade.

It’s only available for bookings made in USD.

It does not apply to group rates, membership programs, charters, select promotional fares, travel agent rebates, or other travel agent promotions not offered by Carnival to the general public.

I book with Early Saver all the time, and usually only get a few bucks back. The good news about that is that I’ve usually gotten a really great rate on my cruise fare. You may even feel cheated by the fact that you don’t see any price drops, but that just means that you’ve paid the lowest fare. It’s a win-win in most cases.

Now, I’ve said all that to say, Carnival is having a sale with a reduced deposit! You can book Early Saver with just a $99 ($49.50 per person) deposit. Let me tell you what deposits normally are:

Cruise-To-Nowhere – $50 USD (non-refundable)
2 & 3 day – $100 USD
4 day – $150 USD
5 day – $200 USD
6 & 7 days – $250 USD
8 & 9 day – $300 USD
Alaska – $350 USD
10 Day or longer – $400 USD
Panama Canal cruises – $500 USD

Those are per person rates. So, if you were looking to cruise and just didn’t have that kinda cash to drop down for a deposit, today (and through January 31st) is your lucky day!

Click here for the sale!

Happy Cruising!! Maybe I’ll see you on the ship! 😄

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

Back to School – Sort of…

Blogging U.

Yep, I signed up for Blogging 101. I’m not just doing it for me, but for you too. I plan to put everything I learn to work here so that this is a blog you’ll want to continue to read.

Having said that, there are assignments that I will have to do and there may be posts that are not congruent with the overall theme of the blog. But, stick with me! I know I owe you part 2 of Long Beach, and it’s coming! I promise!

I just wanted to give you all a heads up in case you started wondering why I’m writing about how beautiful the red apple on the table looks (or some other strange topic). LOL

Until next time!

Your Cruise Girl