Saturday, December 20, 2014

RFFC: The Ships

For a lot of cruisers, the ship they choose is part of the destination. Some people never step foot off the ship until they are debarking, choosing instead to enjoy the amenities on board. Now on a Run For Fun Cruise, you wouldn't do that but the ship is still important ;)

The RFFC Caribbean Cruise will be sailing on the beautiful Regal Princess which is less than a year old! The ship, which debuted in May 2014, will be visiting Princess Cays, St. Thomas and St. Maarten. Joining the RFFC Alaska in June? Enjoy the Ruby Princess as she sails past glaciers stopping at picturesque wilderness destinations. On the days you aren't island hopping you will be treated to some great entertainment and dining choices!

Traditional and Anytime Dining Rooms are available along with both Specialty and Casual Dining restaurants. Sabatini's offers Italian dining while the Crown Grill was voted one of the Best Steakhouses at Sea by USA Today! Traveling with the kiddos? How about Pizza, Hamburger & Hot Dogs, and Gelato? The Regal Princess and Ruby Princess have enough options for everyone's palette!

Eaten your fair share of lobster and shrimp cocktail and ready for a show? Princess Cruise Lines is ready to deliver. Enjoy the Princess Theater for top of the line musicals. If you prefer to wind down check out a movie under the stars. Just getting your evening started? Head to one of the many lounges for a drink, win big money in the Casino or party in the dance club until you are ready to retreat to your stateroom.

Rooms are a plenty on both the Regal and Ruby Princess with both ships having 19 decks. The Ruby offers 1542 staterooms while the larger Regal Princess offers 1780. Take your pick of a secluded interior room, a balcony with a view or a variety of suites to match your exact taste. The rooms are gorgeously decorated and offer plenty of room for single cruisers, couples and families alike.

As the Regal Princess is newer, it offers top of the line options. Princess has unveiled the Princess @ Sea Messenger service which allows you to message fellow cruisers on board, coming soon to the fleet. The Watercolor Fantasy turns the top deck pools into a sound and light show that is sure to get some oohs and aahs from the crowd.  Check out the SeaWalk for a unique view of the ocean, with glass panels extending 28 feet for an amazing experience during the day and an exciting walk at night as the panels change colors. Princess LIVE! is a TV studio of sorts that offers comedians, culinary demonstrations and game shows.

Remember that you must book directly through Run For Fun Cruise and let them know LIVE from the Lido Deck sent you :)

Friday, November 28, 2014

Want to take an EPIC Runcation? RUN FOR FUN CRUISE

You may be wondering what a Runcation is... By definition, it is a weeding. Well, that is nothing do to do with Runcation I am talking about! A Runcation is vacation where you go running! My first Runcation will be to Walt Disney World in February where I will be running the Disney Princess Half Marathon.

Now I love to travel but cruising is my favorite way to travel. I have found a Runcation that suits both my needs, Run For Fun Cruises. I came across Run for Fun Cruises a couple of months ago but was disappointed to find that it was the same week as my half. I followed them on Twitter to stay up to date with future cruises and found that they were offering another trip in June!

The RFFC is offering two trips in 2015. The first in February is for the beach bunny interested in running around the Eastern Caribbean. This 7 day cruise onboard the Regal Princess runs from February 15-22 and offers stops at Princess Cays (cruise line private island), St. Thomas,  & St. Maarten. This cruise offers fun in the sun, sand and the chance to shake off the winter blues.

The second sailing on the Ruby Princess is for the cruiser looking for adventure. Join RFFC June 14-21 sailing from Seattle to Alaska including a stop to see the Tracy Arm Fjord! Other stops include Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway & Victoria, BC Canada. This cruise offers amazing once in a lifetime wild life excursions!

Now what makes these cruises a Runcation? You go on fun runs of course! Each cruise starts out with an optional Half or Full Marathon. The A1A Fort Lauderdale Marathon or the Rock & Roll Seattle Marathon take place the Saturday before the cruise departs. Then, throughout the cruise, the RFFC team has set up group runs on board and in port to take in the sights!

Look for upcoming posts that go into greater detail on the RFFC, ports of call and the ships being sailed!  For more information visit Run For Fun Cruise's site. Call or email them for more information, just don't forget to tell them that Amanda Causer with Live from the Lido Deck sent you!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Book Review: The Family Freedom Project

The Family Freedom Project is unlike any other book that I have read. Liisa Vexler breaks down how you can free your family from living 9-5. Even if you do not have children, this book can help you! The first half of the book is more of an enrichment course that you could easily use for improving your lifestyle: weight loss, getting back into the dating scene after a divorce or running a marathon. The book goes into detail on lifestyle design: understanding what you want from life, visualizing your goals and removing any obstacles that can and will slow you down from living your life, the way you really want it.

 Liisa says “Get Started today. Don’t wait. Life is Short. Turn your dream into a plan, and make it a reality.” This is definitely a theme that she used in her goal to be more involved in her children’s day to day lives. Her family splits their time between their native Canada and Costa Rica, where she and her husband Derek spent their honeymoon. As their idea that they wanted more out of life grew, they remembered how much they loved Costa Rica and took a trip back to see if it was what they remembered. It was, and soon they had planned a 6-month stay in Tamarindo.  Their experience wasn’t bump free but she dives into the good and not so good details that helped them decide what would make this work for their family. Both Liisa and Derek have Internet based jobs, which gave them the flexibility they desired so that they could explore their new home, travel and watch their kids grow.

Moving in general has a lot of steps but moving out of the country? That takes a plan and this book has very detailed step by step guidelines to help you successfully make it to your destination. The second half of the book is definitely about uprooting your family. She helps you figure out your goals, what you need to get there and how to finally obtain them. There will be obstacles along the way. She shows you how to identify if the obstacles you face are Emotional Barriers, Financial Barriers or Logistical Barriers and how to solve the issues holding you back. Liisa has tips on ways to support yourself at your new home, what to do with your current home and belongings, gives experience on needing a vehicle and ways to stay in touch with your extended family. Sharing her observations and experiences along the way, the book also showcases other ex-pat families living in Costa Rica. It is interesting to read how other families made the decision to live free. 

The tools found in the Family Freedom Project are invaluable. If you want to read more about Liisa and her family, follow their journey, or check out more Ex-Pat stories, look for The Family Freedom Project online , on Facebook, and on Twitter ! Want a copy of The Family Freedom Project? The book is available to purchase today.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Whats your favorite thing about cruising?

I read an interesting article this afternoon which got me thinking about why I LOVE to cruise so much! Sid makes a lot of good points on both the pros and cons of cruising, but this is going to be about my favorites.

The best thing about cruising to me? The first moments of stepping onto the ship. Walking into the atrium, you just know that this vacation is going to be a good one!All the smiling faces, relaxation just takes over. I will certainly never forget the first time I walked into the Atrium on the Victory, as you walk up the ship is soooo big. Get yourself a Drink of the Day and you are set for the week!

Next is the excitement of the destinations, thus far I have never visited the same port twice. The more I cruise the less likely that will continue. I love visiting somewhere new each time I step off board. Each island offers something different, beach , mountains, amazing cuisine, once of a lifetime excursions. No matter what your taste for adventure is, you are sure to find something for you everywhere.

Don't like getting off the ship on the islands? Many people love having the ship practically  to themselves and there sure is plenty to do on board (although I cant vouch for what goes on when the ship is in port, I am always off on an adventure). The pools, slide and water park type areas are always a hit for kids and adults alike. The pools are seriously packed on sea days so make sure you get there early. The entertainment stuff does a great job on dance shows, scavenger hunts, great comedians, and at night check out the disco!

The food is always a plus. I do understand where Sid is coming from,  24-7 food can be a dangerous thing. I still haven't worked off the 8 lbs I gained from my February cruise but the food is just wonderful. Lobster night, shrimp cocktail, ice cream cones, OH MY! It is obviously all about control here but you are on vacation, indulge a little.

What are your favorite things? Do you enjoy the same things as I do? How do you feel when you first walk into the atrium?

Have questions? Leave a comment below or send me an email

Friday, September 26, 2014

When is your favorite time to take a cruise?

When booking a vacation, especially a vacation on the water, timing is everything! There are many advantages and disadvantages to taking a cruise during all times of year.

Seeing as so many people fly in and out of the cruise port they are sailing from, winter could make or break your vacation. Many people suggest traveling a day or two prior to your cruise all the time, but especially during winter storms. Traveling to your destination early to avoid snow delays is a stress reducer and gets you into the vacation mode early! However, winter is an ever popular time to cruise due to everyone avoiding their freezing cold temperatures at home, many times returning to lots of snow.

Summer is also a popular time to cruise for families since the kiddos are out of school. The warm summer temps are also enticing to those beach lovers! Although starting in June/ July and running until October/ November lurks hurricane season which can easily ruin anyone's cruise experience.

Seems like spring and early summer are the best times to take a cruise! If you can luck out before the prices for summer skyrocket this is a great time to go on vacation. The water is plenty warm, the weather is beautiful as always and there are hardly any weather issues to worry about! Our experience is that if it rains in the Caribbean, it is for 5 minutes and then it is back to the sun shining again!

So far, we have cruised in early February, late March, late October, Thanksgiving. Our favorite time frame to cruise thus far has been Spring time. Our first cruise went through March into April and we had AMAZING weather. The days were warm, the evenings on board were slightly chilly and the water was perfect. The February cruise was nice but we had a huge storm coming our way and were flying out morning off, very nerve racking! We came home to snow which was a Debbie Downer as well. Our Thanksgiving cruise was nice, weather was a still nice enough for people to be swimming in South Beach post cruise. Traveling over the holiday was also night, the airports weren't busy yet and the cruise didn't seem to be full. Nice to have a relaxing Thanksgiving on the beach, we would do that again in a heartbeat.

Now to October..... This was most definitely the worst idea ever. The cruise was so convenient, leaving from a port close to home. Norfolk only sails May and October so we took advantage of not having to fly and taking a new cruiser with us, poor guy didn't stand a chance! Now not every cruise during hurricane season is a disaster, my grandparents used to sail in September every year. Thousands of cruisers depart and make it back without a hurricane story to tell. We however, cruised during Super Storm Sandy and what a disaster she was. When I tell you we were surrounded and followed by Sandy the entire cruise I am not exaggerating. Our 3 days in the Bahamas, ended up with 7 hours and as we headed back up the Atlantic, Sandy tagged along. We had a rough ride which our cruise mates did not enjoy. I can only imagine what that would have been like for all the first time cruisers.

There are a lot of options for anyone who is open to cruise during severe weather seasons. As mentions previously there is the choice to fly in and out a couple of days before and after your cruise in case of any delays. Travel Insurance is a popular choice. Although I have never purchased insurance, it is widely available from both cruise lines as well as private companies. If you are at all concerned, I recommended looking into the details to avoid a vacation disaster.

You have heard from me, now I want to hear from you! When is your favorite time to cruise?

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Orlando Hotels?

I am reaching out today to get feed back from fellow travelers on hotels in the Orlando area for my Disney Princes Half Marathon in February. As we approach the 5 month mark, I would like to start my search for accommodations. I am not particular right now as to how nice the hotel is etc, just want honest recommendations!

We still have not decided how long we will be staying. I am going to do packet pick up on Saturday, Feb 21 and the race is bright and early Sunday, February 22. I am narrowing down some choices for a cruise to take immediately after (either leaving Sunday or Monday).  We will most likely be sailing out of Port Canaveral unless we find an awesome deal from Tampa, JAX, etc.

Please leave a comment below or let me know on Twitter!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

National Harbor Pirate Cruise

I am always looking for local activities to review on here. I like to try out fun things families can do when they cruise out of Baltimore or Norfolk! This weekend we took my nephew on a pirate cruise for his 4th birthday. We bought our tickets on living social but even the price on the Boomerang Tours website is a great value. The hour long tour met along the boat dock of the National Harbor. Our tour started at 1:30 so we stopped at the pizza shop and walked around a bit watching the ducks swimming in the Potomac River.

Once the Boomerang Pirate Ship approached, we were checked off the list and given doubloons as our entrance tickets. Once everyone was loaded the treasure hunt began! They introduced the crew, and went over pirate terms with the kids. The premise of the "treasure hunt" is that an ex crew member took the keys to the treasure chest and you must go after him to get them back!  The boat ride was nice and breezy on such a hot summer Sunday!

Included in the cost of the tour was pirate tattoos and face painting! Also available for purchase was a pirate bag for $10.00. This included a treasure map, pirate hat, eye patch, sword and a sticker along with the reusable drawstring bag. My nephew enjoyed being able to dress the part!! Before the kids could finish their tattoos, the evil scurvy dog pirate was spotted and all the kids hopped on the water cannons to try to sink his boat!!! The kids loved the excitement of the chase as the evil pirate drove his boat around ours. He left but returned and when he did we were able to get the keys to the treasure chest back. YAYYYY! With that, the treasure was shared among the kids.

On the way back to the dock, the kids enjoyed a dance party and the limbo which was a fun way to wrap up the cruise. The adults enjoyed the gorgeous views of DC and Arlington. Once back to the harbor, we stopped for ice cream and headed home. The afternoon was awesome and I highly recommend Boomerang Tours. We took a sunset cruise with Boomerang for my birthday in June but they also have bus tours to local wineries and other boat tours. Check out their site for all their options.

**NOTE** We drove into DC and parked in a parking garage across from the harbor for $12/ day. They have posted rates that differ but this is what we were charged both times we used them. There are plenty of garages and some street parking as well as the option to take the metro. Anyway you get there, you will be sure to have a great time.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Aurora or Cinderella?

EEK! I signed up for my first half marathon. I first heard about the Disney races at the end of February and thought it was a great idea to get healthier. In March, I signed up for a gym membership and began training for the Disney Princess Half Marathon at Disney World! Over the last couple of months I have amazed myself at what I can do! Since then, I have completed 2 5Ks (3.1 miles) and a 4 miler with a 10K (6.2 miles) in queue for September.

While I continue to train, I am getting into the planning mode of this mini vaca! I believe we will drive down for a couple of days but need to pick a hotel. This will be the tricky part as I am not sure if we will stay at a Disney Resort. While convenient, they are also more expensive but driving to the Park on race day may be more of a hassle than it is worth. Stay tuned for updates there!

The 13.1 course will take place through both Magic Kingdom & Epcot as well as in between. There are stops at each mile for photo ops with your favorite Disney characters as well as a run through Cinderella's castle just before mile 6!!!

 What good is a race with out some free stuff?  With your registration comes a official Disney Princess Half Marathon technical shirt and a MEDAL. Yes you read that right, a Disney Princess MEDAL. Which I have to admit, is what first sold me on this challenge.

The race registration opened Tuesday and sold out within 6 HOURS!!! CRAZY. There are more than 20,000 runners so it will certainly be very different than what I am used to. They place you in different starting corrals based on an estimated finish time. You must be able to provide a finish time for a 10K or better to be placed in a corral other than the last. You must also be able to keep a 16:00/mile pace or they will unfortunately "sweep" you and take you to the finish line.

Although I am very excited for the race, I am a little disappointed that the registration fee does not include a ticket into the park. $170 per person is pretty steep but the experience is supposed to be well worth it, park entry afterwards or not.

My only question now is which character will I be dressing up as? Aurora or Cinderella?  Do you have some Run Disney Tips? Want to recommend an Orlando hotel? Have questions about the race? Leave a comment or send me an email! Don't forget to subscribe so you can follow along!!

Sunday, June 29, 2014


As some of you may be able to tell we have a new look that we have been working on for the blog lately. We are still working on it but please let us know what you think!!!

I want to update you of some other changes as well. LIVE from the LIDO DECK has joined Twitter!
Follow us on Twitter  or on Google Plus. Some of the content will be the same, some will be little different snippets. Follow along for more LIVE from the LIDO DECK!

Don't forget to enter your email address in the subscription box so you never miss a thing!!

Can't wait to share our new look! Special Thanks to Limefish Studio for re designing our logo!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

National Cherry Blossom Festival: PHOTOS

Here are some more photos from our day in DC.

National Cherry Blossom Festival

Although I have lived in Northern Virginia my entire life, I had never been to the National Cherry Blossom Festival. There were 100 trees originally given to the United States by Japan. Now, each year between late March and mid April, the Tidal Basin is surrounded by pink and white petals.

I took a Wednesday off work and headed to our nations capital with my sister & Nana. We drove to our local Metro station which is the easiest way to get around DC. The stop you want to get off is the Smithsonian. Once you are at street level, head left past the Washington Monument. You will pass some restrooms on the right side a little before the "pencil". I would take a moment to stop here because the bathrooms are few and far between. You will then turn left just past the monument and see the Tidal Basin, the Jefferson Memorial and the gorgeous blossoms.

The Cherry Blossom Festival provides tons of events throughout the month, more so on the weekends when it is more popular. There was a nice stage with different entertainment when we were there, with a local high schools band and other local talents. We stopped and ate a packed lunch at the picnic tables in front of the stage. There were also food trucks and little shops if you wanted a souvenir. We headed down towards the Jefferson Memorial along the basin. Even for a week day the area was pretty popular so I am sure there are tons of people who visit over the weekends. If you don't like large crowds or want to really be able to walk around with out much distraction, you might consider going during the week. We made our way completely around the basin, stopping at both the FDR & MLK memorial areas. On this side of the Basin, there are a lot of benches for you to enjoy the gorgeous view!

DC is less than an hour from Baltimore, and just a few hours from many Mid Atlantic cruise ports. If you are cruising around this time next year, look into the Festival as a side trip! There is plenty of museums, memorials and monuments to keep you busy.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Carnival Victory AGAIN: Debarkation

Whew! Sorry for the distance between posts! I have been training for the Disney Princess Half Marathon- but more on that later!

Debarkation- everyones least favorite day. The night before you have all your stuff packed up. You can leave your luggage outside of your door for them to collect and for your pickup once you are back at your home port. A lot of people take that route but we prefer to carry off because of how hectic debarkation can be. You add in looking for your luggage that morning along with the other grumpy passengers getting off board and it could throw a wrench in your plans.

We had an early flight to catch at MIA so we were up early to catch a little to eat, room service of course! Then we waited for them to call for any one who was doing self assist debarkation. Basically that is when you take all of your belongs off yourself.  We had packed up our stuff and hung out on the lido. They did self assist by deck and since we were on the Panorama, we were about the last to be called. With that being said we were still off, through customs in 15 minutes and at Miami Airport by 7:45 am.  The airport was getting busy so the earlier you can get there, the better.

Carnival and all other lines have "guidelines" in regards to what is the earliest you should book a flight on debarkation day. In this instance, the recommendation for leaving Miami is 11:30- 12pm. Our flight left at 11:05, just slightly sooner than their recommendation. Our only options were early morning flights that we would NEVER make, this flight or a 9 pm flight. This worried me some but as you can see, we made it just fine. We have also always came in to the cruise the day of, either by flight or car. The most important thing is going with what you are comfortable with, if it will add extra stress to have to rush to the cruise port to make it on time or to the airport to make your flight, it may be better to have a pre/ post cruise stay planned.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Carnival Victory AGAIN: CoCo Cay (Little Stirrup Cay) Part 2

After a couple hours out there I finally made it back to my dear boyfriend who had found a lounger under a nice palm. Once I returned, we took a walk to the closest bar and went back to relax. It was about 85* so I managed to reapply sun screen plenty but it didn't help. I was out in the reflective water for too long and managed to get a free sunburn souvenir! It wasn't bothering me so we took a walk to where lunch was being served.

They offered a BBQ lunch for free as they do on Carnivals private islands, Half Moon Cay. You were able to use your sail and sign card at the bar but the drinks were WAYYYYY more expensive than on shore. I am sure that it costs them an arm & a leg to rent out the island and that is the reasoning for the extra cost. I was disappointed that they didn't offer my mocha chocolate getaway that I had been drinking all week but they only were serving generic Daiquiris & mixed drinks.

We decided to eat lunch at a shaded picnic table and then went exploring. They offered a walking tour of the island as an excursion. They had someone explaining about the low tide, animals & plants. We decided to just walk the trail by ourselves but I am sure the tour was nice. We got to see a lot of iguanas and small lizards as well as seeing where the people who take care of the island lived. It was getting kind of hot so we slipped our feet in the water for a bit more before walking to the beach closer to where we entered the island. The area was crowded and there was a lot of music playing but people seemed to be having a good time. A lot of people were playing out in the water. They had one of those inflatable water parks as well as some seadoo rentals and different snorkeling activities.

We stayed there for quite some time enjoying our last bit of time on the island. We stopped by the cash only market to do some shopping from locals who came by boat to sell their goods. After that we hopped on a tender and then headed back to the boat.

We would definitely like to come back to CoCo Cay again as well like to  try some other private islands. It is a relaxing day in port for sure! Have you ever been to a cruise line private island? Which one? What did you like about it?

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Carnival Victory AGAIN: CoCo Cay (Little Stirrup Cay) Part 1

Friday February 7: 7-5

Let me first clear up what some people may find confusing: Why does this island go by two names? Little Stirrup Cay is the name that appears on their itineraries. However, they rent this private island from Royal Caribbean. RCI calls this island CoCo Cay. It appears they rent this island occasionally through out the winter season to Carnival and possibly other lines on days when it is not needed.

The island is gorgeous, the water is amazing and its "wildlife" can be entertaining. This was our first time at a cruise line private island and we LOVE the private island life. We were up early again this port day and were greeted with another beautiful sunrise. As with most or all private islands, there isn't a normal dock so you take a small tender boat to shore. They got started rather early this morning, with a tender dedicated to the crew & materials needed to take onshore along with a passenger tender.

                                                  A MSC ship was in port at the private island next to CoCo Cay

We also had never taken a tender boat on any of our previous stops so I was interested in the process. Since we had purchased FTTF we were able to for go the lines and be directed to the front. We didn't need to use that feature since there were so few people getting off so early. Later in the day, if you do not have FTTF, you would go and get a numbered tender ticket which let you know what tender you would be going on. They had you wait in the Caribbean lounge until your number was called. I am sure this is a tedious process and am glad we didn't need to go through this.

                                           The tender in the back was the crew only tender taking supplies on shore.

The tender ride was only about 15 minutes or so and then we were off for our first taste of a Bahamian private island. We walked along to the right as we were headed to Barefoot Beach. I did my research and heard that this was the place to be. It was further than most people wanted to walk and therefore a lot more serene that the first beach you come to. There were bars here and there that we passed along the way as well as some lively roosters, chickens and chicks and an iguana hanging out in a tree.

Walking past a bar and some lovely hammocks in the shade, we finally made it to our destination. Let me tell you, the view from Barefoot Beach is AMAZING. I have never seen anything like it. The water here was in low tide so there were people walking hundreds of yards out (I would soon join them.) The many palm trees here made it a perfect shady spot on the beach and the quietness of it all added to the paradise.

I followed the "trail" out about 200 yards to what looked to be deeper water. Once out there, the deeper part was actually just a lot of sea grass that made it look deep and dark. The water here varied, never going higher than mid thigh on me and it was the perfect temperature. Here I explored, finding a couple of conchs, sea snails and some sea urchins. There were plenty of types of fish swimming here and there and many people found star fish. There were some barracudas off to the side and the snorklers & kayaks close by saw some sharks! I later was able to swim with a small ray right off shore.

                                                                  People walking out along the shallow trail

Another conch I found along the way

                                                                                                Sea Urchin