FYI, this is a fairly long post so I’d recommend getting a cup of coffee, a bottle of water or a pop and sit back and relax while you read and look at pictures!
Since I like to scrapbook my adventures (vacations, trips, or whatever you want to call them), I decided to start a travel blog. This new blog has two purposes: (1) for family (mom, this is for you!!!) and friends to see where Jim & I are and what we’re doing while we’re gone, and (2) so when it comes time for me to scrapbook a particular adventure, I’ll have written about each day and I’ll remember what we did and in what order we did it! As you can see from the scrapbook below, it worked perfectly! You can see my new travel blog here: http://amgjrgadventures.blogspot.com/
For this scrapbook, I used the Snap book that I won at our annual East Meets West retreat last summer. I was going to use a Smashbook I had purchased from Michael’s in Arizona for $2 but I liked the Snap book better. I think it’s because it’s a binder and you can add and remove pages, picture pocket pages, etc. Whereas with a Smashbook, you can’t. Plus, it’s a smaller size. I’ve gotten tired of huge 12 x 12 scrapbooks but the 6 x 6 scrapbooks are a little bit too small (boy, it’s really hard to please some people isn’t it?!!!)!
In 2012 on our Alaska cruise, the ship had packets of Royal Caribbean 12 x 12 scrapbook papers and embellishments for sale. Well, duh, of course I bought them! Did you think I wouldn’t? LOL I used some of it on my Alaska scrapbook, and had plenty left over for this one (I only used a few embellishments since I used mostly Christmas paper this time). Plus there’s some left for when I scrap our trans-Atlantic cruise in April (yes, another cruise/adventure coming up so stay tuned)!
The front of this “snap” book identifies that we’re on a cruise on Royal Caribbean International (by the way, we’re loyal to Royal and will cruise no other cruise line).
Day 1: I started my book showing the name of the ship and a little calendar with the dates followed by a page showing that the cruise starts in New Orleans. I think I demagnetized my Seapass card the second day by putting it next to my cell phone!
The next page shows that it’s a Christmas cruise and as a 7 time returning Crown & Anchor member, we were welcomed back with a little gift in our cabin (snacks and Coke).
Our cabin was on Deck 9 and we had to attach these pink luggage tags to our suitcases so they would get delivered to the right cabin. Our Seapass cards got us off and on the ship, used when we purchased margaritas or bought anything in the shops (of course, we had to pay the bill the last day)!
We waited less than a half hour before we were able to board the ship. Before sail-away, of course, there is mandatory Muster Drill to attend. Do you think I could get Tracy to be serious instead of cutting up? No, is the correct answer! And look how serious Jim is! He was really paying attention and making sure he knew where our lifeboat was! hahaha
Happy hour started at 4:00 and we hadn’t even left the port yet! We only had until 6:00 to get 20% off our drinks and when they’re Patron margaritas, all the 20% we could get off was very helpful!!! Especially after 3 rounds of margaritas!
Each evening we’re given the Cruise Compass for the next days activities which information about the activities on board (or if we’re at a port of call) and times, forecast, etc. Except the day you board the ship the Cruise Compass is waiting for you in your cabin!
As we’re sailing out of New Orleans down the Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico, we’re sitting behind the Windjammer in the back of ship enjoying our margaritas and watching the sights in New Orleans go by! My goal was to write about every day and I actually did it!
After our luggage was delivered, Tracy and I decorated the inside of our cabin and the outside of our cabin door. I made the Merry Christmas banner (I used my Cricut to cut the banners) to hang on the door but it was way too big so we hung it inside the cabin (Raj, our cabin steward, said we were the only cabins he took care of that had any decorations). The little wreath with the chalkboard banner on top we hung outside the door and wrote something different every day! I loved the “Think Snow” and “Go Seahawks” that Tracy wrote! The neighbor next door to us told us they loved our wreath and couldn’t wait to see what we’d be writing every day!
Day 2: This was a sea day. I also decided to take a picture of the seas every morning. Sometimes it would be cloudy when I looked outside our balcony window and when I got topside to have my coffee, it would be blue sky. On this day when the clouds cleared up and it was sunny and blue sky, I saw only one cloud in the sky!
Our first port of call was Key West. We didn’t dock until middle of the morning and we were in no hurry to get off the ship. Jim & I had spent two weeks in Key West the winter of 2012 and Tracy had been there before so we didn’t need to do any sightseeing. It was very warm and humid and since there were two ships in port, there were LOTS of people. Plus it was the week of Christmas so there were lots of tourists.
All aboard was 4:30 and I couldn’t believe the line of people trying to get back on the ship so close to all aboard time. We ended up waiting for a couple of stragglers who acted like it was the ships duty to wait for them – they were slowly walking down the pier toward the ship. The final couple were very old people and the wife was in a wheel chair. The ship’s staff kept trying to hurry up both sets of people but there was just no hurrying these people. The sunset we saw that night was beautiful!
Our next port of call was Nassau, Bahamas. There were five ships in port that day (3 Carnival and Majesty of the Seas, another RCI ship) and it was ridiculously crowded. Tracy and I only left the ship long enough to get into town to buy tanzanite earrings and pick up the charms for our charm bracelets (more on that later). Once all the Carnival ships left, you could really see the harbor and Atlantis on Paradise Island. Majesty looked very festive at night with all the lights!
Day 5: Our port of call for Christmas Day was supposed to be RCI’s private island, CocoCay. However, the winds were so bad and the choppy seas were so high, the tenders were unable to maneuver so our day on the island was cancelled. You can see from my first picture of the day how bad the weather was. The funny thing about this day was you could see Majesty, and a Princess ship, and a Norwegian ship all day doing the same thing we were doing – apparently since nobody could tender into their private islands, we were just sailing around in circles – sometimes they’d be on the port side and sometimes they’d be on the starboard side! So we had an unscheduled day at sea!
Day 6: On our scheduled day at sea, there were several activities going on. I went to the cake decorating contest. The cruise director, the head chef and the food & beverage manager competed! It was quite hilarious. The food & beverage manager won the contest while the cruise director just hammed it up the entire time making a total mess out of his cake! Their goal was to make the best cruise ship!
Day 7: Our last full day on the ship was another day at sea. For some reason, I didn’t get a picture of the sea that morning. Tracy had taught me to play Cribbage earlier in the cruise so we played that plus read plus napped plus I crocheted some (I’ve been working on a doily forever and apparently it’s not my favorite thing since it’s taking me so long to get it done). We also watched the juggler’s act, listened to the comedian and saw the RCI singers and dancers! It was a busy day even before we had to go back to our cabin and pack our suitcases and get them outside in the hall to be picked up sometime in the night.
We loved our cabin steward, Raj. He took such good care of us and figured out our schedule very quickly! One night he skipped a towel animal and we left him a note the next morning on our write on/wipe off board saying he’d leave us two that night – and he did! There were also some lovely Christmas trees and gingerbread village around the ship. The Centrum wasn’t situated for a huge Christmas tree especially since they did aerial performances from the Centrum.
Every time I climbed the stairs, I would see this sculpture. I would have liked to smuggle it in my suitcase but it was firmly attached to the wall! One of the tips I’ve picked up from the cruising forums I read, is to take a cheap plastic over-the-door shoe hanger and use it for all items you don’t have places for in the cabin. It worked great, especially with 3 of us in the cabin, and I’ll definitely be using it again!
Back in New Orleans:
As we left the ship in New Orleans, we encountered the same organized cruise terminal as when we boarded the ship 7 days earlier. I’ve been in 8 cruise terminals and New Orleans, hands down, has it figured out the best. We had the best embarkation ever. And, this day, we had the best debarkation ever. We waited in the theater until our time to leave was called; we used our Seapass card one last time to leave the ship; our luggage was waiting for us at #19 station; there were only 2 people ahead of us in the Customs line (the Customs agent was pretty funny giving Tracy & I a bad time about our Seahawks clothes); and finally, we only had about a 10 minute wait to get a taxi! It was so smooth that all the other cruise terminals should take a lesson from New Orleans!
The last pages of my scrapbook are simply pictures that I wanted in my book but didn’t want to scrapbook: my bed the night before the cruise trying to get both Jim & I packed (how much to take, how much to leave at home); Raj with more towels to make towel animals; and 5 towel animals. As we were docked in Nassau next to the Carnival ships, Jim pointed out their solution to their engine problems – just strap a generator onto the top deck of all their ships. All three ships had these generators! Really Carnival? During our Alaska cruise in 2012, Jim & I reached “Emerald” status and received our “Emerald” status pins during this cruise (on our trans-Atlantic cruise in April we’ll reach Diamond status but won’t receive our pins until we cruise again). And, finally, my charm bracelet! The cruise lines work with Diamond International and if you go to all the DI shops at the ports of call you get free charms! Silly, I know, but it was to run around and get all the charms!
I’m getting better and better about getting these scrapbooks started and finished closer to end of our vacations instead of waiting months (or years if you consider I never did finish the scrapbook for our Mediterranean cruise in 2001 — YIKES — maybe one year I’ll finish it)!