Sunday, December 15, 2013

Carnival Victory: 50 days til we sail

We have hit a nice little milestone today. 50 days until we sail on the Victory, again. With the holidays around the corner we are going to be focusing on those so before we know it, it will be January and we will be about 30 days out :)

Just a quick recap of what we have planned.

Carnival Victory February 3-8
Miami Feb 3
Day at Sea Feb 4
Grand Turk Feb 5
Day at Sea Feb 6
Little Stirrup Cay (Coco Cay) Feb 7
Miami Feb 8

We really aren't planning much this trip. We have reserved a spot for beach horseback riding on Grand Turk and then plan on lounging the rest of the day. We will hit up Margaritavilla and then the beach. As far as LSC, it shall just be a beach day. I may try my hand at snorkeling, never done that before.

As far what we are doing on board, we usually don't do much. We arent big on the productions but do enjoy a late night comedy show and ending our evenings in the casino & night club. I was thinking of checking out the spa on this trip.

Anyone checked out the spa on one of their trips? How was your experience? Was it worth the money? Let me know :)

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Carnival Victory: Grand Turk - Horse Back Riding

We have booked our first excursion for our trip! We decided to book with an independent company to go horse back riding on the beach during our stop in Grand Turk. We are in port from 7-5 so we booked at 10:30 am for a 1.5 hour excursion. The company so far has been great to work with and responds quickly to questions. I will post a full review once we have returned.

There is a lot of debating for most people when it comes to booking excursions. You have two choices, book through your cruise line or book through a private company. Each has its own pros and cons.

If you book through your cruise line you are guaranteed that they wont leave you behind. What does this mean? Sometimes things beyond our control happen and you could run late back to port. As long as you are booked direct, the ship will wait for you. The excursion will let the appropriate people onboard know. If you booked privately, more than likely the ship will leave without you and if you are traveling without a passport then you are SOL. Now what are the cons of booking through the cruise line? More likely than not, you are paying more money and getting a less personal experience. The cruise lines have a reputation of booking as many people as possible on their tours to maximize their revenue. A lot of people compare taking a direct excursion to being herded around like cattle.

So what are the pros and cons of booking independently? Basically the exact opposite of booking direct. You are more likely going to get left behind if you are late to the pier, although that may not always be the case. It is definitely a scary thought and you don't want to be featured as a pier runner on youtube. However you are more likely than not getting a better deal, a more personal experience and a longer excursion.

The best thing I can recommend is to do your research! Most importantly is to look at what time you are in port and compare it to the excursion time options. If you are pressed for time during an afternoon excursion that is a do not miss for your port, booking direct is probably the best option. But if, like us, you are going to take an excursion in the morning on a small island, it is fine to book a private excursion. How many people are the max amount allowed for your tour? If you want a more personal experience where you can ask questions and really get to know your port, booking a private tour is the best option.

Also look at the price, it adds up when you have a family or a group going. Even the smallest discount booking private can save you tons if you have a couple people traveling together. Something else to mention, what does your price include? Some include transportation, snacks, drinks or even lunch. Again, that adds up so it is something to consider.

Reviews. I can not stress this enough. Do not just book a company you have never heard of or even worse one that is not reputable. I have talked about Trip Advisor in the past. It is a great site that reviews hotels, excursion companies, restaurants, etc. Utilize other peoples experiences, making sure to take them with a grain of salt. Some peoples experiences may not pertain to what you are doing and lets face it, some people just like to complain. I cant speak for other lines but Carnivals site also offers reviews on their excursions.

I hope these tips help you pick a great excursion. We have booked both private and direct in the past. We were lucky enough that the ship excursions we booked were reasonably priced and had a small max of people. We have however priced out excursions that were just ridiculously expensive. Its all relative so you can take this information and apply it to your trip and see where you end up.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

A post for the ladies :)

As our cruise gets closer I am trying to come up with different ideas for a beachy themed manicure. I usually get my nails done a couple days prior and then have to deal with chipped nails during my trip, not a good look! I think I have found something that will work! I tried out some Jamberry nail stickers and they lasted for two weeks! They could have lasted longer but I have a tendency to fidget and peeled them off during a meeting last week.

Anywho they have tons of designs and even an area to create your own if you have an idea of what you want but dont see it as an option! I peeped their site and came up with 4 different looks that could work as a mani or pedi, perfect for a cruise or beach vacay.

Flip Flop

Aloha Flower


Delta Gamma Anchors

Let me know if you try this on your upcoming trip!

Carnival Victory: Final Payment Dance

Excuse me while I do my final payment dance! You can look away if you want, it is slightly embarrassing! I always love when I make my final payment, it means that I am thaaaaaat much closer to taking my cruise! With the holidays coming up it will make it go by that much quicker as well. WAHOO!

Now we just have to book our airfare. Rates have stayed exactly the same since we started looking. It is a little more than we usually pay to go to Florida but it is still very reasonable. I am going to reach out to a horse back riding company in Grand Turk to see if we can get that all squared away and then we will be good to go! Cant wait to sail away with a Drink of the Day!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Carnival Victory: Planning process

Hey fellow cruisers!! As we have crept on 70 days until we set sail we are diving into the planning process! Final payment is closely approaching and although we are happy with the price we paid I am sure a lot of people are eagerly hoping they get a price drop. Since the rate we booked at included OBC (On Board Credit), the price drop would have to be pretty significant for us to scoop it up but we would consider upgrading to a balcony if the price was right ;)

We have been doing a little research here and there in regards to excursions but this will probably be a no frills type of vacation. We really just want to take a relaxing break and hang out on the beach in February while everyone we know is freezing their tails off; yes we will be sending some braggy photos to them!

One thing we do want to try to get in is horse back riding on the beach. I am a little iffy about it but I get to do a lot of the planning for our trips so if my boyfriend comes up with an idea I try to incorporate it. We originally looked into doing this in the Bahamas for our cruise on the Glory but got no response from the tour operator :(

Carnival does offer a horseback riding excursion in Grand Turk but it is about the same cost as doing it through a private company. I feel we may get a better experience being one on one with a small group rather than being herded around on the ship excursion. It does make us feel better that if we book with Carnival the ship wont leave us behind but with us having such a long day here I am sure we will have no issues with timing. Decisions, decisions. Only time will tell.

We are definitely planning a beach day for our stop at Little Stirrup Cay. Just a nice, relaxing day drinking a Miami Vice or two and hanging out in a lounger.

Have you been to Grand Turk or Little Stirrup Cay (Coco Cay)? Ever been horseback riding on the beach? Let me know your thoughts!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Faster to the Fun?

Carnival recently revealed their "Faster to the Fun" program with their 2.0 upgrades. We decided we would buy it for our upcoming cruise on the Victory. What does "FTTF" include?

*Priority Check in with Express Boarding - There is a separate check in line for those who have achieved Platinum & Diamond status, along with FTTF cruisers. You board the cruise before regular boarding.

*Guaranteed Stateroom - Your room is ready as soon as you board, as opposed to having to wait until 1:30 or so as normal. This is great for people with carry on bags or kids.

 *Express Luggage - Your luggage makes it way up to your room ahead of normal.

 *Guest Services Line - Hate when you just need something quick but there are 50 people at Guest Services? Now you can join the "platinum" line! You also have a designated line you can call from your room to reach guest services.

*Dining Reservations - Your group gets priority for reservations at both the main dining room as well as specialty restaurants.

 *Tender Priority - Ready to board a tender boat to one of your port stops? Head down to that special line at guest services and you can bypass the line. NOTE - This does not include return tender OR ports of call where you are docked at the pier.

 *Debarkation - You can leave first or last! FTTF allows you to choose early or late debarking.

Think FTTF seems like something you could use to your advantage? Want to know if it is available for your sailing? Check out Carnivals Shore Excursion page for more info.

**You only need to buy FTTF for one person per room, not for both or all. If you have more than one room, one person from each room must purchase.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Carnival Victory AGAIN

We booked another cruise !!! We are still interested in going to Bermuda for 2015  but since those schedules aren't out yet we decided to book a short cruise next February to hold me off :)
Carnival had a "National Cruise Vacation Month" sale with pretty good rates as well as offering on board credit so we jumped the gun. In addition to the great sale, we still had our 20% off a future cruise discount from our debacle during Hurricane Sandy last fall good for use on a 6 day or less cruise so we booked a 5 day from Miami.

There were 2 options we were looking at.
Option 1
Carnival Victory sailing from Miami 5 Days February
2 days at sea, 2 port days: Grand Turk , Little Stirrup Cay (Coco Cay)


Carnival Sunshine (formerly the Destiny) sailing from Port Canaveral (Orlando) 5 days April
1 sea day, 3 port days: Nassau, Freeport, Key West

Ultimately the decision came down to the itinerary. The Sunshine is a completely new ship and all it has to offer is amazing BUT the itinerary is terrible. We LOVED Key West but probably wouldn't go back on a cruise. There is a lot to see and the area is 100% different that anywhere else in the US. It is slow paced and fun and there is A LOT of drinking going on. The Bahamas- I feel so so about. On our last cruise we were to call at Nassau & Freeport. Sandy came in and we were left with a couple of hours in Nassau. We had an awesome time at Atlantis but really there isn't much else to see. The vendors were also worse here than anywhere else we have been. From what I know, Freeport is the same deal. A couple of beaches and some shopping, not much else. Nassau is a frequent stop on most of Eastern Caribbean itineraries so I am sure we will go back eventually.

So with the Sunshine itinerary out of the question we ended up with Grand Turk and Little Stirrup Cay (pronounced Key). Grand Turk is the largest of the Turks & Caicos islands from what  I understand and the port area is great. The beach is right off the pier as is a large Margaritaville Party Pool Bar area. I'm sure we will be stopping here ;)

Now there is Little Stirrup Cay which I had seen on a couple of random itineraries. This intrigued me. Turns out that this is actually Coco Cay, one of Royal Caribbeans private islands, that they lease to Carnival sometimes. Having never been to one of the cruise lines private islands before I was excited!

I am also excited to be on the Victory again, we even got the same room! This ship may not have all the bells and whistles that newer or updated ships have but it will always be our first ship. I love it. The layout is great and the Panorama deck is a great location for our room to be.

And of course there is Miami- my favorite place to cruise from and I love South Beach. We aren't sure if we will do a pre or post cruise in Miami since this is a last minute trip, we have to have a last minute budget. 

LET THE PLANNING BEGIN! Interested in following our planning process? Subscribe to get all the latest posts to your email!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Bermuda anyone?

Good evening guys! I am always on the prowl for a cruise to book and decided to start looking early for Spring 2015. When trying to narrow down a cruise, we wanted to go out of Baltimore. We loved driving to Norfolk for last cruise as opposed to flying. We are interested in Royal so our options are Baltimore or Jersey for optimal driving distance.

We aren't interested in doing a Port Canaveral/ Bahamas cruise and although Royal offers amazing longer itineraries to the Caribbean from Baltimore, Bermuda sounded like an interesting choice. Since you are in port for 3 days, it is kind of like doing a cruise & a land vacation at the same time.

Any of you lovely cruise enthusiasts been to Bermuda? What were your favorite activities?

Has anyone been on a cruise that stayed overnight at your destination? What was it like to be able to come and go as you please?

Hopefully you guys will have some great ideas for me! Leave them in the comments below.

Happy cruising!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Sorry for the lack of posts!

Just wanted to come on here and give you guys an update. Unfortunately we decided to cancel our December cruise on the Oasis of the Seas. It was pushing $3k with airfare not including any excursions or extras. It was a really hard decision but I am trying to plan a trip next summer to Italy & France so I will be updating on that some since Naples is a cruise stop. We will most likely be visiting Naples (Capri, Amalfi Coast), Rome, Venice, & Paris! Hopefully it all works out as it is in the planning stages now but it is looking to be an amazing trip!

Remember- If you have any cruise questions please let me know! I love hearing about your plans and itineraries and would like to be able to help if I can!

Happy Sailing :)

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Comparing the Worlds Largest Cruise Ships, Then & Now

I found this while perusing on pinterest lately and found it to be quite interesting. Check out the actual site where it can be found here

RMS Titanic and Oasis comparison infographic - CP

Monday, April 8, 2013

250 days !!!

250 days until we sail on the biggest cruise ship  in the world! We have never had to wait so long to cruise! The ship is a destination in its self so that's also going to take a lot of research. We don't want to miss a thing!

What do you do to pass the time between booking your cruise and embarkation day??

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Tuesday, April 2, 2013


A little off topic but we all love saving money right? Well what if I told you there was a site that saved you money everytime you shopped online from many of the stores you already shop at? Consider it a cruise savings fund! Take a look, sign up, and start saving money!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Hampton Inn Virginia Beach Ocean Front North

We spent an awesome weekend away in Virginia Beach and wanted to share a little about our hotel with you in case any readers are interested in a pre or post cruise stay when departing from Norfolk. Or maybe you are just interested in a taking a vaca to Virginia Beach. Either way we stayed at a fantastic hotel with excellent staff that I am sure many of you would enjoy!

We booked online via the Hampton Inn Virginia Beach North Ocean Front site with a great rate considering it was Easter weekend and lots of kiddos were on spring break.  We choose the king size room with whirlpool and were not disappointed. The balcony room was clean spacious and had a great view.

Both checking in and out was a simple process that took nothing more than 2 minutes. The staff was friendly and hotel was in a great location. All rooms are oceanfront with good sized balconies. The hotel offered free parking, free WIFI which worked well and free breakfast from 6-10 am(we didnt get to try this).

Since we checked in around 8 pm on Friday we decided to eat at the North Beach Bar & Grill inside the lobby. The front desk offered a 10% off entrees coupon, one of the VA Beach coupon books near the elevators offered 15% off. The food was good as was the service but it was a bit over priced. They offered a full wine and beer list as well as a large drink menu.

The hotel was very quiet and had a convenient location on the boardwalk.

Very few cons about this hotel, certainly nothing that would stop me from staying here again.
- The elevators move painfully slow. Both between floors as well as the time it takes for the doors to open once you have stopped.
-there are 16 rooms per floor and the elevators drop you off in between room 1 and 2. We were room 416 so we had to walk the entire length of the hotel to get to our room.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Just booked Oasis of the Seas!!

I am very excited because we just booked our first cruise on Royal Carribean. After our first cruise I was all about Carnival and loved the service we received. Since then, it has been declining every cruise and we were interested in trying a different line. A few months back my boyfriend and I watched a special on the Oasis and we were amazed at how big she was and all that the ship had to offer.

We have been looking for a while but decided to go ahead and book. We choose a superior ocean view balcony stateroom. OUR FIRST BALCONY!! This class of ship (there is also the Allure of the Seas) offers Central Park view and boardwalk view balconies as well which look over those areas inside the ship. 

We are doing the December 14 Eastern Caribbean sailing to Nassau, St Thomas, & St. Maarten. Yes, places we have already been. However, we didnt get to experience much in those places so we are very excited to revisit these islands. I am not thrilled with the time in Nassau and we may consider staying on board that day to see everything the ship has to offer us, with hopefully shorter lines. 

Our itinerary is

December 14- Fort Lauderdale
December 15- Nassau 7-2
December 16- Day at sea
December 17- St. Thomas 10-7
December 18- St. Maarten 8-5
December 19- day at sea
December 20- day at sea
December 21- Fort Lauderdale

Make sure you subscribe so you dont miss out on our planning process!

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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Upcoming Posts & Subscribing

Keep forgetting to check if From The Lido Deck has new posts? Subscribe by email so you stay current with my blog! Just add you email address to the box in the right column!

I will be out of town this weekend and will be posting a hotel review for anyone looking to sail out of Norfolk and stay pre or post cruise in VA Beach!

Also I will be doing a neat little giveaway post in the near future. Make sure to subscribe so you don't miss a thing!

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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Trip Advisor

Just wanted to do a short post today about Trip Advisor, which is an awesome site I use when planning all of my trips. There are great reviews from fellow travelers on hotels, restaurants and attractions. This is my go to site before I book anything.

An important part of this site is to go back and leave a review of your own. They send you an email if  someone finds your review helpful or likes your picture and lets you know how many people are reading your reviews on a quarterly basis. I got an amazing email from them last week that I wanted to share.

I encourage everyone to check out the site before your next trip. You may come across a bar that only the locals know or find a cool place to get a bite to eat that is a little off the beaten path. Leave me a comment and let me know what you think of trip advisor!

Check out my trip advisor profile :)
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Saturday, March 16, 2013

Carnival Glory:Debarking & Final Thoughts

Hey Guys! I know it has been a while since this cruise but I wanted to finish up on this post.

We had our couple days at sea with rough weather, lots of rain, nothing but rocking and they announced that we would be coming home a day early. They said the port was closing sunday due to flood warnings and the next weeks cruise was canceled. Honestly, it was such a relief to hear. We were in the dining room when they made the announcement and everyone clapped. After dinner we roamed for quite a bit and then headed back to our room to pack and head to the disco. Debarking was pretty easy, we waited a while since we had driven to the port and then headed out.

A couple of things we learned from this cruise:

- Never ever take a cruise before it goes in to be refurbished, they were out of a lot of knick knack type souvenirs, the shop was pretty bare, they were short on some food, the crew seemed to be ready for a break and didnt seem to mind expressing that

-Although the weather made a huge impact, it was clearly evident that we do not like sea days. A transatlantic cruise has been removed from my bucket list for sure!

- I don't think we will ever ever cruise during hurricane season again- although we didn't get sick, our travel mates were quite sick and it was a very unpleasant experience. It seemed to make a lot of people agitated. The staff were great (except for the front desk people) so that was a real help.

- I am also not sure we will ever cruise with people we know again.  It is so nice to do whatever we want to do when we want and that makes it difficult when others want to do other things. Maybe it will be different with people who are seasoned cruisers, who knows.

Once we returned we were quickly refunded a days fare to the account used to purchase the cruise which was great. We were also given 20% off a future cruise to be used on a 2-6 day cruise which expires in October 2014. There are some destination exclusions but I am sure we will be able to find something to apply it to. We are hoping to use it towards a 7 day cruise, I have been in contact with Carnival so that we can try to work that out. I don't want all 7 days discounted, I would just like to have the 6 days of discount applied. Hopefully it works out, we prefer longer cruises.

Even before the weather we didnt get the same experience we received on previous cruises so we may try to branch out in the future and try a couple of different lines. Our first cruise was AMAZING and I am really wanting to have another great experience like that.

Sorry for the distance since the beginning of this post! Hope you enjoy!

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Thursday, February 7, 2013

Towel Animals !!!

Hey guys! Just wanted to do a quick post on some of my favorite towel animals we have received on our cruises! Leave a comment and share your favorites!

                                                           We finally got the monkey!!

    My towel animal zoo from the Glory :)

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy new year!!!

Hey guys!! Just wanted to make a quick post to thank you all for your support this year! I'm so thankful for the feedback I have received and hope that I have helped some of you with your cruise questions.  I wish you all nothing but the best for 2013!!!