Cruise Tips

 Monday, July 15, 2013

I have had so many people ask me about cruising since I have been on 5 and James has now been on 2. I have decided to organize my thoughts on this blog post and give y'all some tips on how to get the best experience out of you cruise (although really you should ask my  mom, she's been on 10+!). 

1. Do your research. What kind of cruise do you want to go on? Are you looking for family friendly or party-ship? Find out what ports the cruise visits and what there is to do at those ports right when you dock. For example, if you plan on visiting a beach in Grand Cayman, then do your research and find out how to get to a beach. You don't get off the cruise and you are automatically at the beach, you have to get a taxi ride to the beach. Also, research the shore excursions ahead of time. There are many other websites to book your shore excursions besides through your cruise that are less expensive. Do research, find the best deals & what is legitimate, and save yourself some money for shore excursions! Also, if you think you will get seasick, don't cruise in January, the waters are more choppy and you will have a more rocky, more sea-sick experience. I have also found that leaving out of Florida is more smooth than Galveston or even New Orleans. Also, be sure to renew or apply for a PASSPORT in advance & don't forget to pack it.

2. Plan to arrive at the debarkation port later rather than earlier. On our first cruise, we got there early/on time and it was PACKED, crowded, and a long process. Our second cruise we checked in and boarded 30 minutes before the recommended cut off time and there were ZERO lines, we boarded in 5 minutes or less. (The recommendation was between 1-3pm, we boarded at 2:30 and the ship left at 4.)

3. Don't feel like you have to pose for every single photo they take of you on the ship. This can be a big waste of time. The photos never turn out that great, the poses are awkward and not flattering, and you pay $20 for one photo that you could have taken better yourself. If you do want to pose for some photos, don't feel like you have to do every backdrop for every night. Just a few are fine, and then if you really really want to, you can purchase a photo. (this photo is from our honeymoon)

4. Enter the Spa Raffle soon after boarding. If you want to take advantage of the spa services on board, enter into the spa raffle soon after boarding because they close the raffle just a couple hours after debarkation. It's better to win/get discounts on the spa packages rather than spend even more money on a spa service.

5. Shop the $10 Madness Sale. On the Carnival ships, they have what is called the $10 Madness Sale. This is only at a certain time and usually happens the morning after boarding the ship. One or more of the gift/cruise shops sells everything for $10. Did you forget a cover-up or hat for the beach? Shop the $10 Madness Sale instead of paying $30 for a hat you will never wear again. 

6. Plan your days on board the ship the night before & participate in all/most the activities. You've spent a great deal of money on this vacation, so take advantage of it and have some fun! There are tons of activities planned for you on board the ship. Housekeeping leaves a daily itinerary for you every night when they turn down the covers and leave chocolates on your pillow. Take the time to highlight what you want to do the next day and pay attention to the times. That way you can fit everything in you want to do! Even if it's not on the itinerary, write it in. Write in "fitness center" before/after breakfast, write in "breakfast", write in "lay out on deck", etc. Also, you'll have a record of what you did every day so when you get home, you can remember and record/journal it more easily. Also, do get a WAKE-UP CALL because the inside stateroom cabins have no windows and you have no concept of time. It is important to stay on a schedule, especially with early morning shore excursion appointments!

7. Eat a light breakfast filled with fruit. There's soo much food to eat. Breakfast is probably my least favorite on the cruise just because it's usually the same breakfast foods every day. On our last cruise we ate everything and anything in sight because it's all inclusive and so good. Treat your body well. Eat a healthy, light, breakfast filled with fruit. This will leave room for all the other delicious meals you will be inhaling. It will also feel better for your tummy and help with digestion during the day. We would eat bananas, cantaloupe, and Special K or Raisin Bran with fat free milk for breakfast. Then we were free to enjoy whatever else for the day!

8. Eat salad and veggies with every meal. Again, treat your body well and keep your digestion regular. The buffet always has salad, fruits, and veggies.

9. Eat early or later, but never right on time or during peak meal hours. The lines can get long. If you want pizza, don't wait until prime hours of lunch time. 4 pm is usually a good time. Plan on eating breakfast before you head out on shore for your excursions, but maybe skip the lines and have room service deliver for you (you fill it out and hang it on your door). They always have the basics (banana, yogurt, bagel, orange juice, etc.). 

10. Your Choice Dining: Early/Late/Your Time: Our first cruise we chose Your Time dining. James liked this because we didn't have to go at a specific time to the dining room, so we could plan other activities during dinner hours. Our second cruise we had early dining, which I LOVED having because I knew that dinner was every night at 6pm, we got the same table every time, and usually they will seat you with other people so you can make friends (even though this time we didn't share the table with any others). I liked having the same servers, the same table, at the same time. I recommend the early dining because then you can see the later evening shows. If you choose the late dining you go to the shows earlier, but I am used to dinner then a show, not show and then dinner. Your time dining sometimes gets crowded or there are lines where you wait a while to be seated. TIP: If you have early or late seating, always arrive like 5 mins later. Everyone waits by the door before they open and it gets hot and crowded. If you walk in 5 mins late, you don't keep your table waiting very long and you don't have to wait to get in either.

What to Pack

-An empty water bottle to fill with ice each night. You will have cold water on the beach or by the pool for the next day!

-Water shoes. Buy an inexpensive pair from Walmart or Amazon beforehand and pack them. We needed these when we hiked Dunns River Falls & rented them for $7 a pair. We also needed these when we went to the beach at Cozumel. You never know when the beaches are going to have rocks in the sand/ocean. 

-Ones and fives. It's good to bring small bills for tips. We had to tip all our drivers and we only brought 20s & 10s and it made it harder to split the tips. Save yourselves the hassle and worry and just bring the smallest bills possible. 

-A cardigan. It gets freezing cold from the air conditioning on the cruise ship. I forgot a cardigan this time around and had to wear my owl print hoodie jacket everywhere! It's a cute jacket but it got dirty, smelly, and didn't go with all my outfits, especially on the two elegant nights! Bring a white or black cardigan that will match your outfits & will keep you warm from the AC.

-A jacket. You think that it will be all sunny & hot on your cruise, but more often then not it sprinkles/rains/storms in the tropics! I'm so glad I brought my jacket with a hood because it saved me from getting wet from the rain more than once. Plus, it gets windy and sometimes chilly when you are hanging out or reading on the deck.

-A waterproof camera. I made the mistake of bringing our nice camera with us on all shore excursions. I was worried sick about it when we climbed the 600 foot waterfall. It was a pain to get back on the boat to get it out for the stingray encounter. Just bring a waterproof camera so that you don't worry about your nice camera getting ruined or losing all pictures forever. Canon has some really nice waterproof & underwater cameras for not too expensive. You can get the disposable underwater cameras, but I personally think it's a waste of money because you can't see what your photographing underwater, the photos don't always come out looking that great, and you have to pay for developing them too. 

-Thank You cards. We got to know our servers in the dining room pretty well eating dinner every single night and having them serve us. I wish I would have left thank you cards for them because they made our time so pleasant and fun and they got to know you and you got to know them. I wish I could have wished Ida good luck on his new baby & told George to take care and have fun on his days off. The cruise includes gratuities at the end of the cruise, but I wanted to do something a bit more personal to show my gratitude.

-Snacks/water for excursions. They won't let you bring food back on the ship, but you can bring food going out. Save money by bringing your own snacks on shore excursions instead of paying $7 for a stack of Lays Stacks in Jamaica. Ridiculous. Plus, mini cereal boxes of Fruit Loops & Cinnamon Toast Crunch just don't cut it when you are on the shore for 6-8 hours a day. 

-SKIP packing beach towels. The cruise provides fresh beach towels for you to use throughout your whole cruise experience. You can even take them off the ship with your on your excursions, just be sure to return them to avoid any fees. You can trade them in for fresh towels as long as you have the used ones at any time on the pool deck.

-Motion sickness medicine & ibuprofen. I only got seasick on one cruise about 7 years ago. It was helpful to take motion sickness medicine. The cruise does have some medicine, but to avoid them selling out or spending a bunch of money, just pack some just in case. Everyone reacts differently to cruising, especially while at sea for a week. I always pack ibuprofen too in case I get a headache or bad sunburn.

-SUNSCREEN & Aloe Vera. Be sure to apply sunscreen every hour and to apply 30 mins prior to sun exposure or swimming. Reapply after swimming or sweating a lot. Nothing is worse than burning your first day and being burned all week long. Be smart. 

-Sunglasses & Hat. Bring extras in case sunglasses break.

-Workout clothes, shoes, & socks. We enjoyed exercising at the fitness center, so be sure to bring appropriate clothing to work off all the calories you will be consuming!

-Books, iPod, earphones. I read 3 books, James read 2, and I listened to music when I exercised or you can listen to music while laying out. 

-A watch. Set it to the ship's clock. Wear it. It's important to keep track of time while on and off the ship!

-Hairdryer. If you have thick hair like me, bring your own reliable hairdryer. The ships' hairdryers just don't get the job done and are small, hot, and frustrating. 

-Phone charger. Turn your phone off once on the cruise to avoid roaming and unwanted long distance charges. But do bring a phone charger just in case your phone dies and you need to communicate once on land.


-Airfreshener/Roomspray. For the tiny enclosed bathroom in the tiny cabin. There are no fans in the bathroom.

-Multiple swim suits. Lots of swimming and pictures! They do have laundry services on board the cruise or you can wash your own in the washer/dryers provided but I think they are coin operated. There is also a line to dry your clothes that pulls out in the tiny shower in your tiny bathroom in your stateroom cabin.

-liquid soap with pump if you don't like bar soap like me

-hand sanitizer to eliminate bacteria & avoid getting sick

The Big All-in-One List
-underwear & socks
-light-weight shorts or capris
-light-weight tops (I like them flowy and not confining)
-2 elegant night dresses or nice slacks/dress shirt or suit & tie for guys (2 if week long cruise, 1 if 3-5 day cruise)
-water shoes
-pajamas or sweat/track suit for stormy days (we had a stormy day at sea in July and I was chilly indoors in my capris & short sleeved top. I wish I brought my juicy tracksuit to keep comfy and warm).
-2-4 swimsuits
-water shoes
-workout clothes & shoes
-flip-flops, elegant dress shoes, sandals, flats
-sunscreen, Aloe Vera, after-tan lotion to keep skin hydrated
-motion sickness medicine, ibuprofen, feminine hygiene products, anti-diarrhea medicine, laxative medicine
-jewelry but nothing expensive. they do have safes in your room but even those get broken into
-hairdryer, curling iron, flat iron, brush, hair ties, bobby pins, headbands
-makeup, waterproof mascara
-makeup remover, facewash, face cream/lotion
-contacts/solution, glasses
-hairspray & mousse 
-favorite shampoo & conditioner (the ship provides standard shampoo & soap in dispensers in shower)
-toothbrush & toothpaste
-beach bag
-empty water bottle
-snacks for excursions
-ones & fives
-waterproof camera & charger
-phone charger
-thank you cards
-books, ipod, earphones
-inexpensive watch, possibly waterproof
-liquid soap with pump
-hand sanitizer
-PASSPORTS & IDs & other documents. Keep these handy. 


Cruisin in 2013

After almost 1 week of being home from our fabulous cruise, I'm finally posting this and 100 something pictures. Now for all those who asked, "How was your cruise?!" you can finally know! 
Saturday June 29th 6:45am-Our Frontier flight was supposed to leave Phoenix. We boarded the plane. Our plane broke. We deboarded the plane.They were going to get the part needed to fix the plane from another airline. They didn't have it. They said they could fly the part in but we would be delayed until 4:30. Oh and this flight was going to Denver, CO where we had a layover. We were not going to wait that long to get to New Orleans because we had plans with our friends Marti & Collin who live there. We call customer service. We reroute our flight to fly with American Airlines with a layover in Chicago. We give our baggage claim info to the Frontier worker and she keeps it so we have no record of a checked bag. We go all the way downstairs out through security to have them reprint us one. The line was super long due to all the customers who were missing their connections (the whole flight). We wait for 45 mins with the SAME customers being helped (the line didn't budge at all). I interrupt them and politely ask them to just reprint us a new baggage claim ticket because our next flight was leaving in 15 minutes and we had to go back through security. They weren't able to print us a new one, but they were able to print a receipt showing we purchased a checked bag. Grr. So we had back through security and make our flight. 
So now we are flying American Airlines.
Oh except it's too hot in Phoenix for the plane to travel all the way to Chicago, so we have to make a stop in Omaha, Nebraska to refuel. We weren't allowed to deboard the plane, they just refueled and we took off again, even though it took an extra 30 minutes of sitting in the airplane.
The flight attendant was so sweet, she gave us a free bag of gourmet popcorn. We finally land in Chicago. Our flight in Chicago is delayed. We are praying our bag makes it to New Orleans but in could be anywhere. Phoenix, Denver, Chicago, New Orleans...The worst is NOT KNOWING. So we are stuck in Chicago. Our flight is delayed 5 or 6 times.....finally somewhere between 11-11:30PM we board the flight. We arrive in New Orleans at 1:00am. Our bag is not there. We talk to the American Airlines people for 1 hour. Frontier office is closed of course. American will leave a note for the workers opening in the morning to contact Frontier and then contact us when they find our bag. They are aware that we are leaving for our cruise the next day, Sunday, at 4pm. We finally crash & Marti & Collin's place at 3am. They were so sweet & accommodating, giving us everything we could possibly need (especially since we had no luggage!). It was awesome arriving in New Orleans 12 hours later than expected. Not. Thank goodness for good friends. 
The next morning, Sunday, American airlines did call us with good news-they found our bag! We drove back to the airport to pick it up immediately. We went out to lunch to Johnny' Po-boys! Our first New Orleans food experience. Yum! James had a muffaletta & I had a turkey po-boy. After lunch we walked to Cafe du Monde, where they have the best beignets! The cafe is basically a large patio with a covered awning because the beignets are LOADED with powdered sugar and it gets everywhere. The floor is covered in white because the wind just blows it away. They say not to where black while eating beignets. We loved the experience and were pleased at how quickly we sat down and got our food considering how packed they were. We wished we had more time with Collin & Marti before we left for the cruise. If it weren't for the airlines, we would have had a whole day to play. Some other day....
 Reunited with Collin at Johnny's Po-Boys
 Enjoying our first New Orleans meal: Po-Boys!
 Our friends for life: Collin & Marti. We wouldn't be married if it weren't for them :)
 James loved his Muffaletta (ham, salami, mozzarella, olive salad on a bun)
 My Turkey Po-Boy (it looks like a normal sub but it's on french bread!)
My girl Marti
 Johnny's Po-Boys
 New Orleans!
 We wish we had more time to explore
Eating beignets at Cafe du Monde
sooo much powdered sugar
this is a must stop for beignets & hot chocolate
We boarded the cruise ship at around 2:30 and there were NO lines. It was awesome. We are going to show up later to check in for our cruise every time (boarding is between 1&3 pm). 
 The first thing we did when we got on the ship was get ice cream and call our parents to let them know we boarded the ship safely after our crazy nightmare of a trip. We had just enough time to get settled in our stateroom before the safety briefing.
Here's the building we saw in town. What an excellent view from the ship!
James LOVED watching New Orleans pass us by as the ship departed. We watched from the deck for 2 hours...good thing we didn't watch until we got to sea, the Mississippi River lasted for 6 hours! 
I felt loved in New Orleans.
We saw the most random trampoline location ever-on the edge of the Mississippi river with no house nearby
 He LOVES watching from the deck
Finally we headed down to explore our ship. 
 These paintings brought me back to my ballet days
 Sunflower Atrium
We ate some dinner & then went to the Welcome Aboard show. We were introduced to our cruise director, Corey, & instantly liked him WAYYYYY more than our last cruise director from our honeymoon. I was very pleased with the performers because they could sing & dance and do both extremely well! I was excited for all the other shows that week. 
Day 1: Sea Day
We set our wakeup call to 8am (6am Phoenix time) and headed to the fitness center to get our exercise on! I love the fitness center because it's on the top deck overlooking the ocean. After a good work out, we got ready & went to breakfast. We then hit up the $10 Madness sale at the shops on the cruise because everything in the store is only $10, but only during that sale! We bought a cowboy hat for James to wear for when we lay out to protect his neck & ears from the sun. Then we layed out on the deck.
 protecting my hair from the wind
 first day at sea
 tip: always bring a hair tie when going on the deck
my sailor
Then we went to Mind Game Trivia.
James went to trivia almost every day.
I participated in the Name that Kiss trivia. I had to identify 40 different movie kisses. I got 30 or so right. I needed Dad there to help me identify some of the movies! Then we had lunch & headed to Hasbro the Gameshow. This is a game show where audience members are the life size pieces to Hasbro games such as SORRY! SLIDERS, YAHTZEE BOWLING, CONNECT 4 BASKETBALL, OPERATION SAM DUNK and SIMON FLASH, where you can team up with your friends and family to win great prizes, all in front of a live audience. James and I were part of the audience. 
Then we headed to dinner in the Monet Dining room. We had early seating, so dinner was at 6pm every night. Monday was elegant night, so we dressed up all fancy & enjoyed fancy food!
Elegant Night in the Dining Room.
 James had the alligator fritters again (he had them on our last cruise)
I also tried sushi for the first time! There were 3 types of sushi, and the type I had tasted super peppery. It wasn't bad but I definitely didn't love it.
 We ate lobster tail
 and steak
 and of course I ate the chocolate melting cake every single night.
Monet Dining Room
 Traditional cruise stairway picture
 We loved our friend the towel elephant
so cute 
After dinner we changed to go to the Family Friendly Comedy show sponsored by George Lopez. We had some good laughs. 

Then we headed to the entertainment show of the evening titled The Brits! The show was a tribute to the British invasion of music including songs from The Beatles, The Who, Herman's Hermits, & The Rolling Stones. The performers were soo talented! 

Day 2: Sea Day
The second day was also a sea day on board the ship all day long. The weather turned kind of stormy & it started to rain. So after we layed out on the deck and read our books, we went indoors to read our books & sip hot chocolate. 
 relaxing on the deck & reading our books
 James read the two most recent Orson Scott Card books (Earth Unaware and Earth Afire)
 I read Beachcombers, Moonshell Beach, and The Great Gatsby
We ate lunch.
 James' first Guy Fieri burger from Guy's Burger Joint: The Chilius Maximus
I ate The Ringer burger yummm
Then we we went to The Game of Love where 3 couples from the audience participate in personal questions about their significant other. There was a newly wed couple, a midlife couple, and a couple who had been married for 60 years. The old couple were the cutest. Frank & Sandy. Frank had hearing aids. One of the questions was, "If your husband was on a deserted island, would he rather be stranded with a hooker or a nun?" Frank's response was, "If I say hooker, I get nun (none)." Bahahahahahahaha. We laughed sooo hard.
 As you can see...we had a great time
James then went to Sports Trivia in the Sports Bar & Lounge before dinner.
 James concentrating hard during sports trivia
 sports bar & lounge
We enjoyed dinner in the dining room again and got to know our servers a little better. There's George, a young guy from Romania who we socialized with the most. He has a girlfriend who also works on the cruise ship. So cute. Then there's Luko, from Croatia, an older man who should be retired. He was the main waiter. Then there was Ida, who has a really long Indonesian name, so we called him Ida. He was 30 years old, just married, with a baby on the way. He left them in Indonesia to support his family by working on the cruise ship. They were great servers, we enjoyed talking with them. 
We went to the family friendly comedy again and laughed our heads off.
We went to the entertainment show titled Latin Nights. This show's theme was based on Latin culture with music featuring superstars such as Gloria Estefan, Santana, J-LO, Shakira, Ricky Martin, and Enrique Iglesias. Loved this show!
Day 3: Montego Bay, Jamaica
We ate breakfast & loaded ourselves onto a bus to drive 1.5 hours away to Ochos Rios where we would climb Dunns River Falls.
 Upon arrival in Montego Bay, Jamaica
 We didn't even explore Montego Bay, we just hopped on a bus to explore other parts of Jamaica.
 We shared a coconut to stay hydrated. It's deceivingly small.
We also spent $7 on a pack of Lays Stacks...make sure to bring snacks with you on long shore excursions. 
Our tour guide's names was Angela & our bus driver was Frank. They are "no-problem people in a no-problem country." They taught us to say YaMan, NoMan, and NoProblemMan, as well as Irie. This means yes man, no man, no problem man, and irie means "great".
Our falls trek was fun! Climbing a 600 foot waterfall was way fun! I stupidly brought my non-waterproof camera...our falls guide, Moses, told us "noproblemman" he would hold onto it and keep it dry for us. I was freaking out! But he stayed true to his word and kept it dry throughout the entire hike AND he took all our pictures for us without us even asking. We gave him an "irie" tip at the end. Haha.
 Our adventure begins~before hiking Dunns River Falls
 Showing off our awesome neon water shoes that we rented.
 I love the green trees
 One of the many photos our falls guide generously took for us
 the water temp was perfect
  the limestone rock was slippery
 We made it to the top! 600 ft.
 We held hands with those people in the background while climbing the falls. They were high school teachers from Louisiana.
 We found this stray cat curled up outside the gift/rest stop on our way back from the falls. 
 good morning stretch
Our ship docked. The Carnival Conquest.
 Saying goodbye to Montego Bay
James went to sports trivia before dinner.
 Then headed to dinner.
Then went to another episode of Hasbro the Gameshow. We loved the commercial break:


Day 4: Grand Cayman Islands, Grand Cayman
The Fourth of July.
We arrived in Grand Cayman, ate breakfast, boarded the ferry to shore, bus ride, boat ride to Stingray City. Beautiful clear water in the middle of the ocean where the sandbar was swimming with 50 or so stingrays. We loved swimming with them! 
 Introducing our adventure in Grand Cayman! Stingray City!
 James loooooved these stingrays.
 He kept trying to catch one himself, but they are so fast & big & heavy
 The females are massive!
 so excited!
 They're so smooth & soft & slippery
 salty kisses
 thanks for the back massage!
We took the boat ride back, then another bus ride to the Cayman Turtle Farm.
 hundreds of rescued sea turtles
 I took tons of pictures of James holding the turtles. Here are a few:
 Oh and me.
 He kept flapping his flippers so I had to massage his neck to calm him down
flapping away
 favorite picture at the turtle farm
 pretty shell
There was also a man-made swimming area to snorkel & swim with the turtles, but the line for snorkel gear was long, only a few people were actually snorkeling in the murky water, and I bet there were only a few turtles in there. We decided to pass on that and head to the hatchery.
 lizards & iguanas everywhere
 2 more chillin in the shade
We also saw some alligators & sharks at the farm.
 stepped inside the air conditioned hatchery
ninja turtle
or Franklin
 educational video-James loved learning about the cute baby sea turtles that are being rescued!
 I love the colors in Grand Cayman
 look at that turquoise water! 
 We said hi to our neighbors on the Carnival Liberty! We were on that same ship 2 years ago on our Honeymoon!
We went back to the ship for lunch.
 LOVED the Blue Iguana burritos on the ship
 so good.
 Our second elegant night was on Independence Day
Here are similar pictures but I couldn't decide which one to post
 James tried the escargot again...we're still not huge fans
 favorite towel monkey friend! or is it a ninja?
We changed clothes to head to the entertainment show of the night: Divas! This show featured the music of diva singers such as Whitney, Celine, Beyonce, Christina, Madonna, Rihanna, Lady Gaga, and even Prince!
here's a scene from Rihanna's Umbrella song.
Happy 4th of July from the middle of the Caribbean Sea!
 It was so humid on the deck that my ice cream cone melted in seconds
 deck party
 love when this man dances
 dance party
 4th of July deck party
Day 5: Cozumel, Mexico
We ate breakfast. We shared a taxi with 2 girls from Ohio-Lauren & Kelly. We both wanted to go to a free beach to lay out, so we split the money for a taxi and hung out at the beach. Unfortunately, the nice beach was closed because there were 3 other ships docked there and they needed to reserve the beach for shore excursions. So we went to the grainy sand/rocky ocean beach where you either pay $12 for a chair or purchase food or drink to have a free chair. We purchased a $2.50 water bottle. The beach workers kept trying to sell us stuff. It was rather annoying, but at least the beach was free (to some extent), we shared a taxi, and we could just relax & read our books. I dipped my feet in the water, but it was too rocky to wade out. I was disappointed in that, but next time I will remember to pack water shoes!
We went to Paradise Beach to lay out...& watched the storm clouds approach
 We wanted to go to the Mayan ruins but this is as close as we got...maybe next time.
 picture of a picture.
We ate Blue Iguana Mexican & pizza from the 24 hour pizzeria for lunch. 
We layed out and swam some more on the ship.
James went to sports trivia again.
We went to karaoke. I did not sing, I still had a bit of a frog in my throat from my cold I caught before the cruise. It was entertaining though! 
We went to Showcase of the Stars-the cruise talent show. There were 6 acts. There were 3 gospel songs and 3 country songs. Everyone on the cruise was either from Louisiana, Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, or Texas. We had a lot of religious, southern people on the boat! The first act was a pastor who sang How Great Thou Art. I actually felt the Spirit during one of the cruise shows! It was awesome. Then next act was a gospel rapper. He rapped for 10 minutes about the Bible & Jesus & stuff. He kept going on and on and on....another pastor sang but he sang country. All of the acts were great! 
One of the comedians from the Comedy Club is also from the south and he mainly does church comedy. He says that he never cusses in his comedy, even during the adult shows because he doesn't need to swear to be funny. He was our favorite comedian, he was hilarious! He even had fake hick teeth he would put in his mouth whenever he would make fun of Alabama folk. We definitely laughed a lot on this cruise.
Day 6: Saturday Sea Day.
We woke up and went to the Comedy Club Brunch
 Comedy Club Brunch with pancakes & Ranchos Huevos-George Lopez's Recipe!
 omelet goodness around 9am
Around noon we headed to the Chocolate Extravaganza. Lots of yummy chocolate desserts buffet style....yes please!
 chocolate extravaganza.
 gotta have my chocolate...
 oh and my cookie fix
we layed out & read books some more, ate salad for lunch, oh and this:
 just practicing in case we fall overboard
 that face...
 Saying goodbye to Mexico for now
Another episode of Hasbro the Gameshow, a dance show performed by a dance troupe in Mississippi (reminded me of my dance studio days), dinner, comedy, and relaxation while watching The Big Bang Theory on our TV. 
Great ending for a great cruise right? Wrong! We were informed Saturday night that the Mississippi River had been closed due to a ship sinking. Updates in the morning. We were supposed to dock in New Orleans at 7am on Sunday morning. We are all set and ready to go that morning. The captain comes over the intercom to inform us that they have rerouted us to dock in Mobile, Alabama, which is 2.5 hours away from New Orleans. ETA is 2:30pm. Our flight was supposed to leave at 2:30. Another flight missed. Unfortunately we booked our flight through Orbitz. We got on the phone as soon as we had cell service, the Orbitz lady was NOT helpful whatsoever, we cancelled our flight. No other flights going out that day due to huge New Orleans Essence festival. We call Collin & Marti after being on the phone for over an hour trying to figure out our next plan of action. Luckily they had driven to Florida that weekend and were driving back straight through Mobile, Alabama! They graciously picked us up so that we didn't have to be stuck on the hot crowded bus shipping people back to New Orleans. The cruise did their best to accommodate everyone. Guests were allowed to spend an extra night at no additional cost due to flight cancellations and lack of hotel reservations. Transportation to New Orleans via buses were provided with no charge, but thankfully we had amazing friends to transport us instead. The traffic was insane due to the festival weekend, so instead of 2.5 hours we added an extra hour to the drive. We passed all of the miserable buses on our way to New Orleans. That night we ordered pizza & sat down to figure out our flight options. Every flight was $1000+ for 1 one-way ticket to Phoenix. James had his first rotation the next day. He would have to miss it. We looked at surrounding cities to fly out of. We ended up purchasing a ticket through US Airways for Houston to Phoenix, direct flight, for $500-600. 
James rented a car and drove 5 hours, then got on his plane on Monday and flew home. He missed his first day of rotations, but his preceptor was understanding-thank goodness. I, however, stayed another day in New Orleans with our friends, because there was no way we were spending that much money on a plane ticket. I was to miss a day of work and fly home on Tuesday for $300, with a layover in Charlotte, NC, and then a 3 hour flight to Phoenix. At least they were smooth flights though. Full, but smooth. I like US Airways. Here are some pics of my extra day in New Orleans.
 stranded  arriving in Mobile, Alabama
 Lunch at The Milk Bar. 
Clooney's Choice sandwich. chicken breast, avocado, tomato, mozzarella, cilantro & lime mayo
 The Milk Bar-New chocolate shake ever.
photo credit here
Dinner at Joey K's Restaurant 
photo credit here
 Joey K's Restaurant-New Orleans. Another Guy Fieri suggestion from Diners, Drive-Ins, & Dives. Thanks Collin & Marti for letting me experience real New Orleans fried chicken!
Dessert at Sucre.
photo credit here
 prettiest display of macaroons from Sucre Sweet Boutique 
 in love with this shop
photo credit here
 think Tiffany's meets The Cocoa Bean
 chocolates, cakes, cupcakes, chocolate drinks, cookies, macaroons, gelato, every dessert you could imagine pretty much.
 chocolates at $2 a piece
 thank goodness for free samples
Thanks for sharing the sweet treats Marti!
After an extra $1000 spent just to get home, we are home, safe and sound. James has had a great week of rotations, and I am back to work. 
We are forever grateful to Collin & Marti for being the perfect hosts and for going above and beyond to help us out. We had a fun time visiting them, experiencing a little bit of New Orleans, and having a blast on our cruise. We are thinking we might just have to drive everywhere from now on, avoid airlines for a little while, or at least purchase insurance for our next flights. Hope you enjoyed this insanely long post. We certainly enjoyed our insanely fun cruise. Next time we will skip the insanely nightmare of travelling.
Until next time!
Stay posted for a special Tips for Cruisers post coming in the next few days!


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