Saturday, November 1, 2008

Guess what --- I'm now sailing on the Liberty

Hey everybody,

I just got a new update on my vacation. Apparently, Carnival switched ships, and I am now sailing on the Liberty. While during my initial research, I pulled up some disheartening information on the ship. First, there seems to have been a large norovirus outbreak in 2006. Nearly 700 people fell ill. As someone who makes a living in the restaurant industry, I understand the severity of this, but also realize that most outbreaks are circumstantial and quickly remedied. Secondly, some schmuck named Scott Durbin jumped overboard in 2007. He was rescued minutes later by the coast guard.

Okay, that's the bad stuff. Here's the good stuff. 'Carnival Liberty -- the line's fourth Conquest-class vessel, and the first to sail a full season in Europe -- won't surprise folks familiar with the Conquest-style layout, public spaces and cabin amenities. As with its siblings, the ship features a plethora of themed bars and lounges, four restaurants, two main pool areas, a spa and fitness facility, a sprawling casino, and Harry's, a reservations-only supper club. Carnival Liberty boasts a high ratio of private balconies, a library, an ornate three-deck theater and a series of shops, and offers teens their own nightclub (which is uniquely located along the promenade with the rest of the "adult" fare). It's pretty safe stuff.' ---

What really excites me about this ship is the Seaside Theatre which sets adjacent from the main pool on the Panorama deck. You also have the Czar Palace Casino.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Best Beaches in the Caribbean

Information is based on Frommer's 2009 Caribbean Guide.

1. Shoal Bay (Angiulla)
2. The Beaches of Antigua
3. Palm Beach (Aruba)
4. The Gold Coast (Barbados)
5. Cane Garden Bay (Tortola)
6. Seven Mile Beach (Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands)
7. The Beaches of the Dominican Republic
8. Grand Anne Beach (Grenada)
9. Seven Mile Beach (Negril, Jamaica)
10. Diamond Beach (Martinique)
11. Luquillo Beach (Puerto Rico)
12. St Jean Beach (St Barthelemy)
13. The Beach of St. Maarten/St. Martin
14. Canouan (The Grenadines)

Of these fourteen beaches, my personal favorites include Paradise Beach, which is one area of the Gold Coast located in Barbados, the Seven Mile Beach at Grand Cayman, and Luquillo Beach in Puerto Rico. Luquillo beach is one of the most picturesque beaches I've ever seen.

Also, I came across this awesome Caribbean blog. ~~~Caribbean Beaches~~~

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Sorry Indiana...I'm so ready to go cruising.

I'll give Indiana a little one thing, it does a pretty good job at Fall. The summer can be incredibly hot and muggy. Unlike coastal areas, Indiana lacks the gentle ocean breeze needed to make the season enjoyable. Spring in Indiana is about as enjoyable as a colostomy . Winter sucks. First, we get some snow. Nice fluffy, pretty, snow. Then, before its completely enjoyed, we get the ice. The storms roll in. After the ice, an Indiana winter finishes with some nice cold weather. I'm not talking wrapping up in your nice new scarf weather, I'm talking about the horrible, snot freezing while it drips out your nose cold. Horrible.(yeah, that's my PT Cruiser. Covered. Blah)

But anyways, back to the point, Indiana does a pretty good job during Fall. Typically, the trees change. The weather gets slightly colder, but not winter freeze territory. I like fall. Not this year though, this year, I'm dreaming about 90 degree weather, white sand, pina coladas. Now that's how I want to spend the season.

It never hurts to dream.

**Blog Special** Caribbean Thursday

Jimmy Buffet Video - Margarittaville

Friday, October 3, 2008

The Ship - (the Carnival Pride)

(photo via

Carnival Pride : Where can you find the artwork of Raphael, da Vinci, Botticelli, and Michelangelo, and the architectural details of ancient Greece, Byzantine empires, Renaissance Italy, Beaux Arts France and Victorian England all under the same roof? Perhaps in the great museums of the world -- the Smithsonian, the Bilbao Guggenheim, the Metropolitan -- but also, most definitely, in the public spaces aboard Carnival Pride. Long, narrow, sleek as a knife and very fast, the 2,124-passenger Carnival Pride, launched in 2002, is the second ship in the cruise line's dual azipod-driven Spirit class. Carnival's long-time interior designer, Joe Farcus, chose Icons of Beauty as the ship's theme: beauty in life, beauty in art, beauty in the world's architecture, beauty in the human body and in the human spirit. At 963 ft., with 1,062 passenger cabins, 11 bars and lounges, 4 pools and 5 hot tubs, this ship was made for active participation. Carnival's guests come onboard knowing that they will have access to 24-hour partying, food and entertainment. A large and well-equipped children's center, Camp Carnival's Fun Club, is one of the line's signature features, luring families with kids of all ages: Everyone gets to play. There must be something in the water on this ship, because we have yet to meet a more accommodating, cheerful and outgoing crew. Everyone, from the harried Purser's Desk staff to the dining room and bar servers to the hardworking room stewards, expressed a sort of unfettered joy for being available to serve Pride guests. Officers were accessible and engaging, and the general atmosphere was uncompromisingly upbeat. One evening aboard our seven-night Mexico Riviera cruise from Long Beach, California, we saw two very young girls, perhaps 8 and 10, dancing together on the Lido Deck during a Calypso party. They danced with such joy, abandon and total freedom that it made us ache for the long-past youth of our children. "This," we thought, "is the very essence of a Carnival cruise." Ship Highlights:
  • Luxurious spa with a fully equipped gym and beauty treatments
  • Outdoor jogging track
  • Award-winning Camp Carnival program for kids
  • Elegant dining in the Normandie Restaurant
  • Spectacular Vegas-style productions in the Taj Mahal Theater
  • 12 bars and lounges throughout the ship
  • Winner's Club Casino, one of the largest as sea
  • Three swimming pools and one kids' pool
  • 11-deck-high atrium topped with a glass ceiling
  • 80% of staterooms offer oceanviews
Okay, so we booked a balcony. Balconies are the best. I've spent my time in staterooms with and without portholes to see. Balconies give you a get-away. I loved waking up in the morning, ordering room service (basic fruit tray, juice, coffee, toast) and enjoying the Caribbean air from the balcony. I've never been on an Alaska cruise, but I doubt you could do this. That really is a turn off for me, because balconies are my unwinding area. It sounds dumb, and hippy-like, but I can really free my soul watching the ship sail into port from my balcony.

As Jimmy Buffet refers to in 'A pirate looks at forty', "Yes I am a pirate, two hundred years to late. The cannons don't thunder, there's nothin to plunder, I'm an over-forty victim of fate."

Carnival Cruise

(picture was taken during my parent's Carnival Cruise)

Carnival Cruises according to Fodor's:

The world's largest cruise line originated the Fun Ship concept in 1972 with the relaunch of an aging ocean liner, which got stuck on a sandbar during its maiden voyage. In true entrepreneurial spirit, founder Ted Arison shrugged off an inauspicious beginning to introduce superliners only a decade later. Sporting red-white-and-blue flared funnels, which are easily recognized from afar, new ships are continuously added to the fleet and rarely deviate from a successful pattern. If you find something you like on one vessel, you're likely to find something similar on another.

Even the decor is fun; each vessel features themed public rooms, ranging from ancient Egypt to futuristic motifs. More high-energy than cerebral, the entertainment consists of lavish Las Vegas-style revues presented in main show lounges by a company of singers and dancers. Other performers might include comedians, magicians, jugglers, acrobats, and even passengers taking part in the talent show or stepping up to the karaoke microphone. Live bands play a wide range of musical styles for dancing and listening in smaller lounges, and each ship has a disco.

Arrive early to get a seat for bingo and art auctions. Adult activities, particularly the competitive ones, tend to be silly and hilarious and play to full houses. Relaxing poolside can be difficult when Caribbean bands crank up the volume or the cruise director selects volunteers for pool games; fortunately, it's always in fun and mostly entertaining. There's generally a quieter, second pool to retreat to -- even an adults-only topless sunning deck.

Carnival is so sure passengers will be satisfied with their cruise experience that they are the only cruise line to offer a "Vacation Guarantee." Just notify them before arriving at the first port of call if you're unhappy for any reason. Should you choose to disembark at the ship's first non-U.S. port, Carnival will refund the unused portion of your cruise fare and pay for your flight back to your embarkation port. It's a generous offer for which they get very few takers.

As a past guest, and a 20-something, married adult with no children, I find that Carnival works well with my lifestyle. While it definately fits with the party all night, sleep late in the morning crowd. [**cough**cough**mom? dad? sound familiar] I'm more into the experience. I love the opportunities available to learn and grow with Carnival. I'm not naive, just on a budget. I understand that Princess and Royal Carribean offers these experiences, but they also offer that upscale price tag. For me, its about my rum punches, curly slide, cute towel animal experience, not the glamour, the casino, or the rave parties.

(My dad with his new muscle shirt)

Fodor's goes on to say this, "If you've never sailed on a Carnival ship, or haven't sailed on one in recent years, you may not understand how Carnival cruises have evolved. The shipboard atmosphere is still bright, noisy, and fun, but the beer-drinking contests and bawdy, anything-goes image are history. Unfortunately, much like Casual Friday has evolved from no tie in the office to jeans and a polo shirt, it isn't unusual to see Carnival passengers dressed very casually after dinner, even on formal nights. You may be surprised at how quickly some passengers can swap their black ties and gowns for T-shirts and shorts between the dining room and show lounge."

The funny thing about that statement is that the beer-drinking contests and bawdy anything goes atmosphere bring back fond memories. [**cough**cough**right mom, didn't you when one of those contests in Dominica]

(my parents showing off the drink specials with Corona in hand)

And now it begins

For the longest time, I've been wanting to get away. I've tried to save, but something always happened, and I never would be quite able to get the money up. Finally, I was able to put the money up for a cruise. So here it is, my travel blog (although, I don't actually travel until August of 2009).

So for the next few months, I'm gonna be posting about cruises, islands, different activities. Most of the content is going to focus specifically on my upcoming cruise, but I'll have some broad, general posts. Basically, it's gonna be my 'baby' blog to get me through the drudge days of fall, winter, and spring.

Here's to finding my Margarittaville!!!