Cruising

A Day in Nassau

During our recent three-day cruise aboard the Carnival Victory, we had one amazing stop on the island of Nassau, in the Bahamas. One thing we loved about this port was the fact that our ship was docked there ALL NIGHT. Meaning, we could have partied in town all night! (We didn't - but we could have!) Being there for as long as we were gave us the freedom to roam around the island at our leisure, not worried or stressed about getting back to the ship in time for departure. 

Nassau is known for its iconic resorts and waterparks, so obviously we had to check those out. ;) We booked our excursion through Carnival, and they made the whole process so quick and easy. Within 20 minutes, we were off the ship and on the bus heading for the Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island! We had a blast. 

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We enjoyed their aquarium and waterpark, where Bobby was like a little child. He kept asking, "Can I go on one more?" Ha! It was hard to leave the waterpark, but the beach was calling our name. Pristine blue waters and beautiful white sand… we are realizing that one day on Paradise Island is not enough time here. That just means we have to come back!

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Whatever port we are at, we always save time to explore the town. We like to experience the culture, meet new friends, do some shopping and try out the "local cuisine". 

We spent the better part of our afternoon roaming the colorful streets of Nassau and snapping photos in front of the many pink buildings. Did you know that the government buildings in Nassau are all painted pink? They are colonial-style buildings in a beautiful shade of pink, after their state bird, the flamingo. All of the buildings are so bright and colorful - even the police station was painted a bright sea green. 

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We peeked into a couple of the most magical looking restaurants in town, and got directions from a local policeman (who looked extra spiffy in his uniform)! He kindly directed us to the Straw Market, a traditional open-air market, where local vendors sell everything from handwoven crafts and carvings to colorful t-shirts and bags. It was quite the sight, and definitely the place to go if you want to barter. 

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Don't miss this spot when you're in Nassau, it's a local experience you won't forget. While we didn't end up purchasing anything, we were definitely tempted!

After the Straw Market, we found a spot to cool down and have a drink before heading back to the Carnival Victory. As much as we love exploring every port, there's always an excitement at the end of the day to come back to our ship. It truly does become our "home away from home". We're sure that those of you who have cruised before know the feeling!

Nassau is a beautiful port with locals as vibrant as their colorful buildings and bright blue sea. Thank you Carnival for putting together such a magical excursion! We can't wait to return and explore more of the island!

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This post was created for Away We Go with Carnival, the destination for getting in the getaway state of mind. Head on over.

Sea Day Sea-ssentails

In between days at port, you often get to experience a sea day. This is a day of traveling to your next stop where you get to do anything and everything aboard the ship. Some enjoy sleeping in, laying out in the sun all day, and then getting to bed early. Others love spending the day in the casino, trying to strike it rich. We, like many others, like to do a little bit of everything. If you want a taste of a variety of Carnival amenities and experiences, take a minute to read about our Sea Day Sea-ssentials. 

Towel Animals!

On sea days you will encounter a zoo of Carnival’s famous towel animals. While you may become used to seeing one in your room each evening, on a sea day (if you get up early enough), you will find an incredible assortment of animals all over the Lido deck. And you can even visit the towel animal theater, where the towel animals come to life and put on a show!

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Morning Brunch

On sea days, we brunch. Sea day brunch in the dining room offers your standard omelets, eggs and toast, and blueberry pancakes. But there are also crazy options, like French toast coated with cereal, mac n’ cheese, steak-n-eggs, and banana cream pie. We love the menu of sea day brunch because it really makes you feel like you are on vacation. When else would you have blueberry pancakes, mac n’ cheese, and a double chocolate brownie at brunch. Cruise life is the best life. 

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Fun in the Sun

After morning brunch, we like to go get our tan on. Swap the coffee for a mimosa, put on some sunscreen, and soak up the sun. Feel free to snooze, read a book (Alli), or work on your Rubik’s cube solving speed (Bobby). 

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Hairy Chest Contest

Exactly what it sounds like. A contest for showing off your chest hair and performing hilarious challenges to music. The best part is that the hairiest man may not always win… like Bobby. He won for the second time in a row on this cruise. Ha!

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Martini Tasting

After the hairy chest contest, and a nice little nap, we head to the Alchemy Bar for some martini tasting. The bartenders make amazing cocktails and like to have fun with it! You can order a flight of 4 martinis, and then blind taste to try and figure out which one is which. It’s 5 o’clock somewhere! 

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Art Auction

Art Auctions aren't something we normally spend our time doing, but why not peruse art and possibly bid on some? We love walking around and seeing the diverse art hanging on the walls of the Carnival Victory

Vroom!

Playlist productions are the live performances aboard the ships that have incredible dancing, lighting, and special effects. There are normally two showings on your sea-days, so depending on what else you have going on, make sure you get to one of them. Our favorite show so far was on this recent trip aboard the Carnival Victory, called Vroom! 

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Piano Bar

This is not just a sea day activity for us. Almost every night aboard a Carnival cruise, we will end our night at the piano bar. Not only do the ships always have super talented pianists, but it is one of the most fun places to make friends. The same people normally go to piano bar. People that want to have a good time, meet other people, and are outgoing enough to sing songs at the top of their lungs. No matter what kind of day it has been, it is always a great idea to end it singing classic piano tunes with your new best friends!

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There are endless opportunities for fun on a Carnival sea-day. You can be adventurous, mellow, or anything in between. We just rattled off a bunch of activities that you will find us doing on our sea-days, how do you spend yours?

This post was created for Away We Go with Carnival, the destination for getting in the getaway state of mind. Head on over.

How to get the most out of a weekend cruise (3 WAYS)

Sometimes people have it in their mind that cruises are long…normally over a week. But you know what? There are weekend cruises out there, and even they can satisfy all your cruising desires. You can book them last-minute, you can pack light, and you can feel refreshed from your 9-5 grind during a quick 3 or 4-day escape.

In 3-4 days, you'll have plenty of time to make new friends (including the cruise staff) and make lasting memories. We’re going to share a little bit from our recent weekend cruise aboard the Carnival Victory. We left out of Miami on Friday afternoon, spent a day in Nassau, had a fun day at sea, and were back in Miami early Monday morning. 

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We believe that in order to get everything you want out of your weekend cruise, there are three things that you should probably consider…  

#1 CREATE ROUTINE

Having some routine to your cruise will make you feel like you are at home. When we get on board, the first thing we do is unpack. Take all of our belongings out, pack them away throughout our cabin, and make our stateroom feel cozy. Next, we take a lap around the ship, briefly exploring everything it has to offer. Finally, we head to the main lounge area (on the Carnival Victory this is the Seven Seas Lounge) and have a drink while looking over the schedule of events for the coming days. It's essential to have an idea of what is going on, especially during a short cruise.

On Carnival cruises, here are the things we do every single day…

- Lounge – Even on a port day, we like to catch some rays
- Nap – Every day, we find time to nap
- Pizza Pirate (IMPORTANT - see below)
- Dine in our dining room – We love sitting at the same table and getting to know the people around us and our wait staff
- Chocolate Melting Cake (see below)
- Comedy Club – Laughing is the best
- Piano Bar – A great way to close the day is singing songs with your new best friends.

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#2 PLAN ON YOUR DIET STARTING MONDAY (when you get back)

You are on a short cruise. The purpose is to relax, refresh, and see the world. So please don’t be on a diet while you are cruising. This is your time to eat adventurously, and eat whatever you want, whenever you want. If you are nervous about how much you may eat without any self-control over the 3-4 day trip, then commit to your diet starting Monday (assuming that’s when you get back to reality). 

Since you are going to indulge in whatever you feel like, here are some of our favorites. 

First, take advantage of room service. With Carnival, they have a continental breakfast that you can have via room service each day. Fruit, cereal, bread, coffee, and juices. If you need some eggs, bacon, or something more hearty, head up a few floors to the Lido deck and grab something from the buffet.

Next, love Pizza Pirate as much as we do (they have both regular and gluten-free crust). We probably ate 1 pizza each per day. Ha! And on our sea day, Bobby ate 2 pizzas in one sitting! These amazing thin-crust pizzas are whipped up right in front of your eyes and can be customized to your liking. Pizza Pirate is seriously one of our FAVORITE parts about Carnival Cruises. Even if the secret gets out on how amazing it is, you’ll never wait more than 15 minutes from the time you get in line, to when you sink your teeth into a delicious slice of pepperoni.

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Finally, get everything you want at dinner (including dessert). Carnival’s American Table-themed restaurants serve up amazing cuisine with a standing menu, and a menu that changes based on the port you have been in that day. If you can’t decide between a Fried Chicken B.L.T. from the current port-of-call or one of their nightly Steakhouse Selections, get both! The portions are relatively small, and most people could probably eat an appetizer, a salad, and a main dish. Bobby normally gets an appetizer, the item from the “rare-finds” menu (escargot, cured salmon, etc.), and 2 main dishes. Even if you don’t have room, you must order dessert. We ALWAYS get a Chocolate Melting Cake, and usually 1 (or 2) other desserts. Hehe. Remember, diet starts Monday. 

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#3 DO THINGS YOU MAY NOT DO AT HOME

Cruising is a great opportunity to try new things. Food, activities, and excursions that are probably different from your norm. We like to look through the schedule of events and pick at least one thing each day that we wouldn’t normally do. On this cruise, it was Karaoke (we would probably do this normally), an art auction, the Hairy Chest Contest (for Bobby – he won!), and ballroom dance lessons. If you’re worried about looking silly when you’re in front of everyone, realize you will probably never see any of these people again. So go for it!

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We are confident that weekend cruises can be for everyone! Enjoy one soon and let us know how it was!

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This post was created for Away We Go with Carnival, the destination for getting in the getaway state of mind. Head on over.

 

"Yes Day" Aboard a Carnival Cruise

Carnival Cruise Line takes pride in having activities for all ages, and they REALLY do! This is most apparent on the days at sea, when we take a look at our “Fun Times” schedule and are overwhelmed by all of the possibilities! Aerobics classes, wine tasting, bingo, or mini golf tournaments… There simply isn’t enough time in the day! That being said, we decided to take advantage of all the fun on board by making our second sea day a “Yes Day." Which means, we said “Yes!” to every opportunity or activity presented to us. Whether it was ordering an unusual menu option, attending a comedy show, or a behind the scenes tour, here are all of the things we did on our “Yes Day!”

1.   Fancy breakfast at the Platinum Restaurant? Yes! Most days we start with coffee and something simple from the breakfast buffet, like cereal or oatmeal. It’s a yummy, relatively light start to our day. But today, we said “Yes” to the morning brunch and stuffed ourselves. Bobby got the Cereal Crusted French Toast and Eggs Benedict. Alli kept it a little lighter with an Omelette and Fruit platter. Annnnnd we had some warm pastries. Oops!

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2.   Quick round of Mini Golf? Yes! After breakfast we headed up to the top of the ship and got our mini golf on! We played through the whole course in about 30 minutes, and Alli brought her A game!!! Bobby claims he was distracted by the 360 degree views of the ocean… valid excuse. 

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3.   Tour the Galley? Yes! This was one of the highlights of our cruise. Led by our wonderful Maître D’ Suresh, we were taken through the Carnival Glory’s largest galley. Once inside, we quickly realized what a truly massive operation this is. The galley is all stainless steel, and there are various rooms for every moving piece. What normally is all in one big kitchen is spread out over a massive stainless steel maze, which the staff navigates with ease. Our jaws dropped when we saw how many Melting Chocolate Cakes and Prime Ribs were being prepared for that night’s meal. If you have the chance to do the “Behind the Fun” tour, do NOT miss it! It is incredible to have an insider’s look at what happens behind the scenes of a fun ship. 

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4.   Watch some Ice Carving? Yes! We were SO impressed by the ice carving demonstration. One of the chefs has a family tradition of ice carving, and he really showed it off here! We watched as he hacked a 300 pound block of ice down into this amazing Native American wearing a traditional head dress. Normally the intricate detail takes him about 2 hours to complete this work. But today, with the sun beaming down (and melting his canvas), he was able to carve this in less than 20 minutes! Insane!!

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5.   Take a Nap? YES! We don’t have many photos to prove it (because obviously, we were sleeping) but this was an important part of every day during our cruise. We ended nap time each day perched on our balcony, adjusting our eyes to the bright sunlight off the blue water.. or the fading light on the horizon, depending on how long we napped. ;)  

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6.   Play a round (or three!) of Bingo? Yes! It may sound cheesy, but playing Bingo is one of the highlights of our cruise! It’s always lively, always hilarious, and always accompanied with a couple rounds of drinks. We may have come away empty handed, but bingo sure is a blast!

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7.   Dance with the Platinum Restaurant Staff? Yes! We get so excited each night that we hear the Maître D’ say “It’s showtime”, knowing that the staff is about to perform some fun dances for us. We cheer them on, swing our napkins and sing along from our seats. But tonight, our server invited us to JOIN them on the floor! Being a “Yes day”, we couldn’t refuse! So we shook, twisted, and danced with the servers in front of the whole dining room. Yep, we were those people!

8.    Attend the Punchliner Comedy Club? Yes! This was an easy “Yes”. We attended these shows nearly every night, and laughed hysterically. Alli’s highlight was when one of the comedians asked Bobby, “Where’s Scooby?” (How have we never realized that Bobby totally looks like Shaggy?!) On this particular night, we watched a comedian who did a hilarious routine about her family in Minnesota - accents and all!

9.   See a Playlist Productions Show? Yes! Tonight we attended Latin Nights, which was a tribute to numerous famous singers that was an impressive performance of song and dance. It had us on our feet singing along all night! We were really impressed with the setup, including the stage and lights that make it look and feel like a broadway show!

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10.  Indulge in a Night Cap at the Alchemy Bar? Yes! This is a cool cocktail bar that we would walk by daily, and Alli would always say, “I REALLY want to go there.” Today, we wrapped up our “Yes day” with some great drinks from the long awaited Alchemy Bar. The location of the bar is a perfect spot for some late night people watching, and the bartenders really know how to make a good drink! 

11. Movie on the Lido Deck? Yes! Even though a Night Cap should signify that our night is wrapping up, how often can you watch a movie out on the open seas? While we didn't watch the whole movie, we enjoyed about an hour until we couldn't keep our eyes open any longer. Worth it!

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So there it is! A fairly comprehensive list of our “Yes day” aboard the Carnival Glory. We may have failed to mention some lounging in the sun, lots of laughter, and a trip to the Pizza Pirate, but those are daily givens aboard any Carnival ship. Do yourself a favor, and have a “Yes day” on your next cruise, who knows what will happen!!

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This post was created for Away We Go with Carnival, the destination for getting in the getaway state of mind. Head on over.

Cruising as Wanderlusting Explorers

When it comes to cruising, we’ve noticed there’s a really funny (and puzzling) stigma:

Adventurous souls are afraid to cruise. 

They think of it as a limiting way to travel. “You’re stuck on a boat”, they say. “You’re just one of the masses”, they say. “You can never go do your own thing”, they say. 

Well, friends. We’re here to break - no, CRUSH that stigma. Because it’s simply not true. We actually think cruising oftentimes gives us the ability to see and experience MORE than traveling on our own. Think about it… Every day you’re waking up in a new, exciting, and exotic location. What wanderlust soul wouldn’t be into that?! Exactly. We’re here today to share a few tips on how to get the most out of your cruise, you adventurous souls, you.

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 First things first, RESEARCH.

Before our Carnival Caribbean cruise, we spent ample time researching each island we’d be visiting. Keeping our itinerary in mind, we’d plan our day around the times we’d be at each location. For example, we knew we’d be entering the port of St. Thomas at 10am. We’d head straight to our favorite beach, (Magens Bay), beat the crowds and get our tan on, then hit up the local milkshake shop - all before noon! Leaving the rest of the day to get lost in the town, make new friends (we made some animal friends), or go on a hike!

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Next order of business: Don’t post up on the beach too long.

You’re on a cruise. You’re relaxed. You’re in a warm and tropical location, and the desire to create that “Corona commercial” moment is oh-so-real. But be strategic. Don’t spend all day laying out in a place where there’s a lot to see and do. We’ve found a couple hours on the beach is all we need, and the rest of the day is devoted to exploring. Trust us. You can lay in a chaise lounge on the sea days - go see the sights!

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When it comes to excursions, go outside your comfort zone!

Find the excursions that excite, and possibly scare you! Whether it’s scuba diving in St. Thomas, taking a salsa class in Old San Juan, or the Island Dune Buggy Adventure in Turk & Caicos, there are PLENTY of options for fun and invigorating excursions! Pick something different in each port, and you’re bound to have the trip of a lifetime. We explored Grand Turk via a dune buggy - and it was a day we will never forget!

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 Last but not least, get off the ship early!

Whether you’ve booked an excursion or you’re exploring the island on your own, try to be the first ones off the ship. Really utilize the time you have in that location. We’ve found that the early morning is a perfect time to chat with the locals, get a cup of coffee, or find an off-the-beaten-path restaurant for breakfast! In San Juan, we were sharing a piña colada (where the drink was created!) and had already explored the Fort San Cristobal while some people were just getting off the boat. If you get off early, you will see so much that by the end of your day in port you’ll feel like a local yourself! 

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There you have it, folks. Cruising IS for the wanderlust explorers. 

Carnival truly knows how to ensure that their guests get the most out of their time at each port… That’s why our adventurous souls keep coming back!! And hey, why visit one island in the Caribbean, when you can go to four?! 

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This post was created for Away We Go with Carnival, the destination for getting in the getaway state of mind. Head on over.