PCB 2017-Ridin’ The Storm Out

Panama City Beach is where my family heads each summer for a week of sun and fun! This year was no exception even with a little Tropical Storm named Cindy blowing in and keeping us out of the ocean for a few days. This is after all my happy place!  I could live near the ocean and still never get enough of its beauty.  There is nothing like strolling along the beach while the waves hit your feet or spending the day relaxing on the beach in a lounge chair, reading a good book and watching the waves roll in.

My daughter had already been down in Panama City Beach for a week for a bachelorette party and stayed a few days extra with her chocolate lab, Bailey.  Bailey had never experienced the beach life and apparently he is not fond of it-too hot.  After this trip I believe Bailey has decided he prefers to be a home-boy.

Aaron and Bailey PCB 2017
Aaron and Bailey chillin on the beach!
Bailey PCB June 2017 2
Bailey Boy taking a walk in the alongside the ocean!

After Aaron returned back home to Kentucky she had to turn around and head right back to PCB with myself and her grandpa.  My family has been vacationing down in Destin and Panama City Beach for over 15 years and we love it.  Our resort sits right on the ocean and from the living room, balcony and bedroom we have a oceanside view.  I love waking up each morning with nothing but white sand and ocean in front of me-it really is an amazing sight to see.

This year was an exception to our normally hot, sunny days at the beach when a Tropical Storm named Cindy decided to blow in. We had only been down to PCB one day and got a few hours of beach time on Monday, then came Tropical Storm Cindy.  Rain! Rain! Rain! All the years we have been coming down to Panama City Beach we have never experienced the constant downpour of rain.  The ocean waves shifted quickly and began to have huge white caps coming into shore, the pool area was closed-this has never happened-and before too much longer two red flags were posted along the beach along with constant beach patrol driving up and down yelling at people to stay out of the water.  What made me shake my head a bit was the fact that the red flags are posted, the waves that are coming in shore are white-capped and moving quickly back out-undertow is strong-but you still had people getting in the ocean, not only getting in but going out waist deep.  Not smart people.  PCB Beach Patrol were kept quite busy for a couple of days and they did an incredible job making sure all the tourists up and down the beach were safe.

PCB 2017-Two Red Flags-No Getting in Ocean 6-21-17
Two Red Flags Flying No One Allowed In Ocean!
Pool Closed-Never Seen This Before
Waves Coming in from Storm
Shell Hunting

We had a couple of days out of the ocean and very little pool time but there is always something to do in Panama City Beach. Aaron and I spent time shopping at Pier Park, watched movies on DVD, and waited till Cindy decided to leave.

Finally! Tropical Storm Cindy has passed and the sun has once again begun to shine.

Aaron Leaps for Joy
Aaron and the Turd Float
My daughter out enjoying the ocean

 

Big Foot has arrived
Panama City Beach

Of course a trip to Panama City Beach would not be complete without heading over to Pineapple Willy’s restaurant and Bar.  Great place to go for families and you can’t beat the ocean view sitting out on the deck while enjoying a meal.  Pineapple Willy’s is usually very busy, waiting time for a table out on the deck can be to an hour or longer in the evenings.  We have discovered going for lunch or an early dinner has solved the long waiting time and attempting to find a parking spot.

 

 

My dad, daughter and I truly enjoyed our time resting and relaxing even if it wasn’t at the beach and pool everyday we were there, all in all, it was a fun vacation!

Cruise DIY Binder from Sweet Tea Gals!

The Sweet Tea Gals cruised aboard the beautiful ship Carnival Fantasy in May and June of this year.  Before we left for our cruise Lori and I decided it would be nice to have a way to document and store our daily events aboard the ship as well as have something to store information in that we had already gathered about taking a cruise.  We came up with a Sweet Tea Gals Cruise Binder and it worked out great.  Not only were we able to jot down daily activities, agendas, and what we were enjoying during the cruise, we used the binder as a keepsake of our memorabilia from our ‘Fun Time’ at sea.

What You Will Need:

  1. Three ring binder of any color with front, back, and side clear slip openings
  2. Clear three-ring binder pocket pages
  3. Printable light-weight stock paper
  4. Printable colored paper

 

Sweet Tea Gals edited the Cruise Cover Page in Paint so it can be edited. If you look at the orginal picture of our binder cover you can see we edited in our names at the bottom and on the ship we edited in the Carnival Logo as well as the year we were cruising.

Cruise Notebook Cover Printable
Cruise Notebook Cover-Click on Image
Cruise Journal Free Printable-pg 1
Cruise Journal Printable Page 1
Cruise Journal Free Printable-of 2
Cruise Journal Printable Page 2

Inside Binder Sections We Used:

  • Packing
  • Ship Information
  • Calendar and Agenda
  • Daily Itinerary and Daily Journal Page
  • Map of Port-of Calls and Excursion Information

 

Cruise Notes Printable
Cruisin Notes
Daily Vacation Plans Printable
Daily Vacation Sheet Printable

Fun and Information Pages Added to Binder:

Carnival Fantasy Ship Banner
Carnival Fantasy Banner-Used for Opening Page
Carnival Cruise Line Logo Free Printable
Carnival Cruise Line Logo Free Printable
Crusin' Made Easy-Ship Terminology
Cruise Terminology-Fun for Cruise Notebook
Printable Cozumel Map
Cozumel Map for Cruise Notebook
Cruisin' Made Easy-Cruise Tips 101
Cruising Made Easy 101

 

A fun I-Spy game just for a Cruise to add to the binder if there is anytime to play it!

Cruise I-Spy Gsme Printable
Cruise I-Spy Game Printable

Hope you find these printables fun and useful as you set sail on your cruise!

Enjoy and Live Life One Sweet Tea at a Time!!

Cruising Aboard the Carnival Fantasy

The Sweet Tea Gals got to enjoy a week-long cruise this past May and boy did we have a blast!  Month after month went by as we anticipated our cruise and the time finally arrived for us to get on board the tour bus that was taking us down to Mobile, Alabama to catch a cruise aboard the Carnival Ship Fantasy.

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Sweet Tea Gals on our way to Cruisin on the Carnival Fantasy

Lori, myself, and my lovely Aunt Judy were taking this cruise due to Lori’s son, Keiton, being a part of, The ShowStoppers of Southeast Missouri. The group would be performing their song and dance numbers aboard the Carnival Fantasy.  This was major exciting for us!! Embarkation went smoothly and we couldn’t wait to walk up the gangplank and board the ship. Even after riding down in a coach bus all night-10 hour ride-with a bunch of teenagers-Lori and I were ready ‘to board the party bus’ or in this case, ‘party ship’.

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Carnival Fantasy
Carnival Fantasy-Ship Card and Water Proof Lanyard
My Ship Card!

Of course walking up that gangplank to board the ship is one of my favorite parts and this was no different-I love feeling the excitement of knowing I am about to board and be heading out to sea.  This was the first cruise for Keiton and he was ready to get on the ship and check it all out.

Our cabin wasn’t ready yet, which is normal for a cruise, and we headed up to the Lido Deck. We got a table with nice cushioned chairs that overlooked the ocean, had a good breeze blowing in on us and we had time to relax and grab some food. Oh my gosh, aboard The Fantasy there was an actual Guy’s Burgers-Lori and I had to try it. Guy’s burgers and fries were really great tasting, and I believe Lori and I could have eaten Guy’s Burgers everyday! While we were waiting on our cabin we took the time to go ahead and purchase our Bottomless Bubbles Soda passes.  There was already entertainment from the Fun Squad going on and the Lido Deck filled quickly as more passengers boarded.

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Guy’s Burger’s Aboard The Fantasy

After a couple of hours it was finally time to go find our cabin, our cabin was located on Deck 4 Rivera.  We already knew that our cabin was going to be an inside one with no view, and we were pretty sure it would be small but we didn’t expect the cabin to be as small as it was. The cabin was made for up to four people with two twin beds and two Pullman Bunks up top. Keiton and I grabbed the top banks and we began to unpack.  Aunt Judy, Lori, Keiton and I soon discovered our floor area could only handle one of us at a time as we tried to move around each other unpacking.  The cabin also had one mirror and small desk area and a nice size closet.  I had brought magnetic hooks along that we hung on the metal framing around the bathroom door and we were able to use those to hang our ship card lanyards and smaller items on those.  There was no way all four of could get showered and dressed at the same time, two either went out of the cabin while two got ready or two stayed on their beds.  Our biggest problem with the cabin occurred shortly after we began unpacking, my aunt and I both whacked our heads on the Pullman bunks, in fact I hit my head on the bunk so hard on our first full day that it knocked me on my rear, needless to say this comical scene sent Lori and I both into a fit of laughter, what else could you do but laugh.  This was a continual problem for all four of us throughout the cruise hitting our noggin on those bunks that by the second day Lori said, “There’s another subdural hematoma”, and that became our theme.  Honestly it got to be quite funny we hit our heads so much, I am not sure by the end of the cruise just who had the most bumps.

 

 

At 4:00 we headed up to the Lido Deck to join in the fun of the ships Sail Away Party! The Lido Deck on a cruise ship is the place to be during the day. It’s always hopping and the crew are so much fun!  At 4:00 pm The Fantasy’s Captain got on the mike system and introduced himself, he then blew the ships horn and The Fantasy was on her way.

The crew aboard The Fantasy was typically the same people each day and they would work in the same areas, this made it easier to recognize them and know who to go to for questions.  I got to know our steward and crew on our floor and crew on the Lido Deck areas and Promenade Deck. It’s a bonus getting to know their names and greet them each day, the crew staff that worked on the Lido Deck bar area and Promenade Deck bar area knew my face by the second day and would automatically get me a root beer. One of mine and Lori’s fav crew members, who worked everywhere on the ship, got to know mine and Lori’s faces and would grab us for pictures, he always had something funny to say when he saw one of us.  It made the cruise experience such a nice one to know that the crew recognize you and enjoy talking to you.

Carnival Fantasy Cruise Me and Crew Member Alvin - Copy
Kim and one of  our Fav Crew Members aboard The Fantasy

 

Our first day onboard was one of our Fun Days at Sea. Lori, Aunt Judy and I headed up to catch the performance of The ShowStoppers of Southeast Missouri. Keiton nailed his solo and for their first performance onboard they were great!

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ShowStoppers of Southeast Missouri perform, my cousin Keiton is the soloist in this number

We spent the day lounging on the Lido Deck and enjoying the view of the ocean all around us.  Aunt Judy, Lori and I kept noticing passengers drinking this pretty red and white drink that not only looked good but it also looked nice and cool so we decided to find out just what the drink was.  My Aunt went and asked one of the Lido Deck Crew and she ordered one.  Much to our delight we three had discovered our favorite drink for the cruise, ‘Miami Vice’!  Mine of course was nonalcoholic and it was a refreshing lifesaver for me and Lori-you see, when Sweet Tea Gals are traveling and the cruise you are on has the worst sweet tea ever, what are two gals supposed to do?

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Carnival’s Miami Vice! Yum!
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Jubilee Dining Room aboard Carnival Fantasy

We were assigned to The Jubilee Dining Room and our dinner was scheduled at 8:15 each evening.  It is a gorgeous dining area and we were assigned to a lovely section and our server for the week kept us on our toes.  We never knew what he was going to do, on Cruise Elegant night our server was dressed as a french waiter along with the hat and painted on moustache, he even spoke with a french accent.  This kind of charm and fun is what makes a cruise such a good, memorable time.  The crew and servers jump in with song and dance and encouraging passengers to join along. Our cruise host had told us about her favorite dessert, Chocolate Melting Cake, and since my Aunt, Lori and I cannot turn down anything chocolate we knew we had to try it.  It was delicious!  It was the only dessert I had on the cruise, I never tried anything else, it was so good.

 

After dinner Keiton enjoyed joining in at the Karaoke Bar with the ShowStoppers and Lori and I headed to see one of the ship’s shows, we both enjoyed seeing Showtime: Motor City, it was a fun show with a lot of great tunes we knew.  Headed down to our cabin for the night and after a couple more ‘subdural hematoma’s’, we were all sound asleep, worn out from the great day we had together.

 

Carnival Fantasy-Two Amigo's Lori and Kim The Sweet Tea Gals
Sweet Tea Gals! Kim and Lori on board the Carnival Fantasy

Our second full day cruising we woke up in the port of beautiful Cozumel Mexico. Keiton and Aunt Judy took off for their morning excursion as soon as passengers were able to disembark the ship.  They were headed for a 4 hour Catamaran Sail and Snorkel trip which included sailing to a private beach with an Aqua Park.  Lori and I stayed back on board the ship for most of the morning and planned to meet Aunt Judy and Keiton at the Cozumel Port for lunch.  My brother, whom I have cruised with, stayed on board at the port-of-calls when we cruised together, and I couldn’t figure out why anyone would want to do this when there is a new world and adventure waiting off the ship-that morning I understood why. I wandered around the ship while Lori was getting ready and there was no one aboard. The ship was empty of passengers, it was a strange feeling and kind of eerie at first, I saw a few crew members while I was strolling, but nothing like it had been the day before with the constant sounds of people aboard and the ship buzzing with life.  Not now.  I landed myself on the Lido Deck and took a seat overlooking the ocean and Cozumel and totally enjoyed my time of solitude.

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Lido Deck with towel animals around pool area.  All the passengers were off the ship sightseeing in Cozumel.
Carnival Fantasy-Ship in Port at Cozumel Mexico
Carnival Fantasy Sails Into Port-Cozumel

When Lori was ready the Sweet Tea Gals headed out!  It’s really cool seeing all of the cruise ships lined up along the docking area and it always amazes me just how big these cruise ships are, they are massive! Lori loved going through the long shop as you make your way into Cozumel.  This was my third cruise and third time in Cozumel and this time round the port shop didn’t excite me, as always, there were a lot of passengers from our ship as well as other passengers from different cruise ships and it was jammed packed with people everywhere. I have decided that some of the passengers stay in this zone the whole time they are at port buying duty-free items.  They don’t know what they are missing.  Cozumel is beautiful!  Keiton and my Aunt Judy had spent the morning doing a group excursion and Lori and I met up with them at one of the restaurants for lunch.

 

Carnival Fantasy-Cozumel Mexico-May 2017
Carnival Fantasy at port in Cozumel, Mexico

We had a nice afternoon shopping and eating lunch admiring the Cozumel shore line while we ate.  Time to board the ship came too soon and we headed out to sea once again.

 

Our next Port-of-Call-Costa Maya!!

Cruise Map-Costa Maya-Cozumel
Cruise Island Map showing Costa Maya and Cozumel

Costa Maya’s view was breath-taking from the ship. Crystal blue water, white sandy beaches and the scenery of an island.  Keiton and I couldn’t wait to disembark and head off for our morning excursion and we walked the long bridge into Costa Maya together taking it all in. Costa Maya is a whole different vibe, you are greeted with this awesome scenery all around you and once in Costa Maya the residents are happily ready to give you a glimpse of their culture.

Walk from Ship into Costa Maya
Bridge from Cruise Ships into Costa Maya
Costa Maya Welcome Sign
Costa Maya Welcome Sign
Carnival Fantasy-Costa Maya
Shopping Tiki Huts in Costa Maya
Carnival Fantasy-Keiton Zip Lining-Lost Mayan Kingdom Adventure Park Excursion-Costa Maya
Keiton Zip Lining at Lost Mayan Adventure Water Park

Keiton and I were headed for the Lost Mayan Kingdom Water Adventure Park. This place was so cool. Not only was it designed around the natural foliage but it was laid with sand paths that led to the many activities. Keiton loved the two zip glides the park had as well as the inner tube River Expedition, the many water slides, and the 800 ft. ZipCoaster that zig-zagged through the park.  I loved lounging at the pool area.  It was lovely, a round swimming pool surrounded by beach loungers and tent areas to get under out of the sun.  You really felt you were on an island and not a water park.  It was a fun afternoon!  The one thing Keiton and I decided we didn’t get to spend enough time at was the shopping area.  It was so different from Cozumel, the stores were designed like Tiki-Huts and the area was so much fun, there were not jewelers and other store employees hounding you to come in to their shop to see their wares, quite the opposite, it was a laid back atmosphere with stores we both enjoyed.  In too short of time we headed back to The Fantasy and out to sea once again.

 

Carnival Fantasy-Costa Maya Shoreline-Waterslide can be seen in far distance June 2017
Costa Maya Shore Line-In background view of the shops and view of the Mayan Ruin Water Slide from the Lost Mayan Kingdom Water Adventure Park
Carnival Fantasy
Carnival Fantasy-She’s a Beauty

I cannot express how great it is when you have a fantastic Cruise Director on board. Life at Sea becomes one big, happy party! Aboard the Fantasy we had the best Cruise Director I have experienced. Our Cruise Director, Mikey Gibson, and his Fun Squad Crew kept the Fantasy hopping. He was great fun and we looked forward to finding out each day what Mikey was up too. One of our favorite things Lori and I did was attending a gossip session called “Q and Awesome with Mikey.” Our delightful and entertaining Cruise Director proceeded to fill all of us attending in on the latest ship gossip going on with the crew, including divulging to us who his lovely finance was when a passenger asked about the ‘wedding’ rumor. It was loads of fun. We also had a blast watching ‘The Live Morning Show’ with Mikey and the Fun Squad Crew which was broadcasted over the ships Cruise TV. The show was hilarious!  There were loads of activities and fun for everyone aboard, plus the fun family themed dance, exercise, and music parties happening on the Lido Deck each day. The Fun Squad was running around handling casino games, kids activities and in the evening Mikey and The Fun Squad were found in the center of the ships hub, the atrium. These people were busy all the time!

Carnival Fantasy-Cruise Director Hosting Sing-a-Long-Last Night Aboard in the Atrium
Cruise Director, Mikey Gibson, Aboard The Fantasy Making Sure Everyone is Getting Footloose!

Our last full day aboard The Fantasy was another Fun Day at Sea.  At this point we had not been able to see all of the ship, yet alone, try to get in on some of the ship’s fun while we had a chance.  My Aunt Judy and I enjoyed a quiet hour in the early afternoon up on Deck 11 and enjoyed sipping on our Miami Vice’s.  Keiton hit the pool and spent time hanging out with his ShowStopper friends. We hit the tee-shirt sale out on the Lido Deck and some of the ship’s stores.  Later on after dinner Lori, Keiton and I hung around on the Promenade Deck relaxing and enjoying the evening’s entertainment.  Lori and I took some time and finally hit the ships casino and played a couple of slot machines-we are real big gamblers-20 minutes we were in and out with my slight winnings. We caught up with Aunt Judy and Keiton and we all joined in with Mikey and The Fun Squad’s “80’s Music Karaoke”.  From the atrium down below all the way up to the 9th deck, the rails around the decks overlooking the atrium were full of passengers joining in and singing along with the Fantasy Fun Squad.

Our last evening aboard The Fantasy ended on just the right note as Keiton hung out in the hot tub while Aunt Judy, Lori and I sat out on the Lido Deck overlooking the beauty of the ocean and enjoying our last Miami Vice together.

Carnival Fantasy-Lido Deck at Night.jpeg
Carnival Fantasy Lido Deck at Night

Extra Pics from Our Cruise!

 

Carnival Fantasy Lego Ship
Carnival Fantasy Lego Ship
Carnival Fantasy-Tail at Night
Signature Tail Fin of Carnival Line

 

Farewell Carnival Fantasy-Sweet Tea Gals Enjoyed Crusin’ With You!

Cruise Prep 101-Smart Tips for Having a Great Cruise!

Sweet Tea Gals went cruising aboard the Carnival Ship Fantasy this May and we had a great time. We did learn a few things while cruising and we have a few handy tips to share with you.

Packing-Be Smart!
This was my third cruise, but my first time experiencing traveling by bus and meeting our cruise host as we pulled into the terminal for the Fantasy. Our luggage was unloaded and taken off by the cruise staff and we headed in for embarkation. This was a wonderful thing because otherwise we would have been responsible for hauling our luggage all the way through embarkation and onto the ship, up the gang-plank and into the hands of the crew right before you board the ship.

Think about how you are arriving and if you are driving and parking at the ship’s port or being dropped, off keep in mind how far you are going to have to walk with your luggage.

Also you need to keep in mind the amount of space you will have in your cabins-not much. Too much luggage takes up more room space.

Useful Items to Pack

Downey Wrinkle Free Spray!  Your clothes will get wrinkles and in your cabin there is no iron, Downey Wrinkle Spray is great for dropping those wrinkles out.

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Downey Wrinkle Release-Cruise Must Have

Pack a Non-Surge with USB ports!  There are not many outlets in your cabins.  On board the Carnival Destiny there was one outlet in the room and one outlet in the bathroom. This comes in so handy and also allows you to plug your phones, laptops, etc, in to charge.  I did call Carnival Cruise Lines to find out if it was okay to bring aboard an and they recommended a non-surge power strip.  You can purchase these on Amazons for around $10.00.

You can also pack up to 12 cans of soda and 12 waters to bring aboard most cruise lines.  It does make your luggage heavier though.

Remember to Pack as light as you can! 

Do Not Forget Passport!

Your passport is a must to get through embarkation-do not forget it!

I also advise taking pictures of your passport, drivers license and birth certificate and having extra copies in your luggage.  I also upload these documents to my computer so my family can get to them if I need them.  It is also not a bad idea to take a picture of your luggage in case your luggage does get misplaced.

Motion Sickness

If you are a person who experiences any type of motion sickness be prepared.  Pack your Dramamine or go see your physician for the motion sickness patch to place behind your ear.  I have found the patch works best for me and my last cruise was the first time I used the motion patch, it was terrific and made my cruise so much more enjoyable.  I had experienced motion sickness on previous cruises just using dramamine and i really didn’t want to go through that experience again.  The patch works!  Even when we had a couple of days of rougher seas I never felt any signs or symptoms of motion sickness and was able to carry on with all the fun activities going on.

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Ways to Help with Motion Sickness

Embarkation

Embarkation can take a while, you could be standing in line for a length of time to get through embarkation and then after that you can be waiting on just boarding the ship. Best times to beat the crowd are getting there before 10:00 am and after 1:00 pm.  The later you arrive the quicker you actually will get to board the ship, just don’t miss boat-know what time the ship is leaving.

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Embarkation can look like this!

As you go through embarkation you will be issued your Ship Card. I like the new system of having a ship card to use for everything including room key, ship purchases and identification boarding and in boarding the ship. I also liked the opportunity of putting cash immediately onto the ship card which allowed me to have the freedom of my credit card not being used for purchases. This is a nice feature I had not experienced years before.

Carnival Ship Card-Most Important Item While Onboard!

The most important item to have with you at all times is your ship card! The ship card is your way for payment in board, your room key and your identification boarding and disembarking ship. Keep it with you at all times!

Of course walking up that gangplank to board the ship is one of my favorite parts and this was no different-I love feeling the excitement of knowing I am about to board and I am headed out to sea. Your ship card will be used to identify you and let you onboard your cruise ship.

Don’t Loose Your Ship Card!

You will have to wait for your room to be ready once on board for a couple of hours which is normal, so take the time to relax on the Lido Deck and grab some food. Extra Hint: Throw some swimming suits into a carry on if you want to swim or plan on walking around and getting to know your ship. (Since I have cruised with Princess Lines I do know you do not have to wait on going to your cabin, you can go to your cabin once onboard.)

Drink Options 

While you are waiting on for your room or once you are settled in check out the drink program ships offer.  Cruise ships offer free water, lemonade, tea and coffee from the restaurant areas but if you are a soda drinker or an alcoholic beverage drinker you are better off buying one of the programs.  Otherwise each drink will cost you and can build up quickly. Carnival offers a set price for soft drinks which allows you to drink as many soft drinks as you wish all through your cruise. There is also the same type of plan for alcoholic drinks. You can purchase these programs onboard on the Lido Deck.

Carnival Fantasy Bottomless Bubbles Soda Offer
Carnival Cruise Line Bottomless Bubbles Unlimited Soda Program

There is No Wi-Fi Onboard the Ship

You will not be able to text or use social media unless you plan on using the options for those who cannot do without social media for a few days.

Options: Cruise ships offer package deals for wi-fi and you can go cheap to expensive.

Carnival Fantasy-Carnival Wifi
Carnival Wi-Fi Offers and Price

One of the best options on cruise ships are the ships app to download to your phone free. for a very small fee is the ships Hub App. This app lets you message your family members back and forth on board plus the Hub App also gives you daily ships schedule and you can even keep up with your Ship Card account.

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Carnival Hub App-Great Tool to Have

Know What is Allowed and Not Allowed on your Cruise

Many people do not think about this but cruise lines are very specific to what they will allow you bring onto ship, what you can and cannot do once aboard the ship.  Passenger safety must come first.  You can also check this information out from your cruise lines web site before you board the ship.

Dining and Eating Options

Dining at the more elegant dining rooms is always a treat. Each evening the dining rooms have a different event going on and you can follow this by checking your ships daily schedule card that is left in your room each day. You are assigned a time and an area in which you will sit at for each meal for the dining room. Dress code for the dining room is casual dressy to elegant dressy and the daily ship itinerary will display what type of dress is planned for dining rooms each night. It really depends on your style and what you prefer. If you know you are planning on eating within the dining rooms each night you need to plan on packing a couple of dresses or dress slacks and tops. They do not allow shorts to be worn in dining rooms. Men can get by with a pair of khakis and a nice shirt. I like having the opportunity to choose where I want to eat and I enjoy eating at the dining rooms a couple of evenings. The ships restaurant offers many different styles of food and dress code is simply casual. Shorts and tees will do. If you are hanging out on the Lido Deck the option of eating from the burger, pizza or other eateries is quite nice plus you have the advantage of a great view while dining on the Lido Deck.  Sweet Tea Gals loved Carnival Cruises Guy’s Burgers, if my cousin and I had our way we would have eaten Guy’s Burgers each meal.

Don’t Forget Room Service as an Option

Room Service comes in handy on the mornings the ships are at a port stop and you have plans to get off ship and enjoy shopping, excursions or traveling around the island. Room Service lets you order the night before, your steward will leave a card each evening in your room, you simply fill it out and hang it on the door. Easy enough. We also used Room Service on nights we were doing other fun things aboard the ship and missed our dining room time and the restaurant was closing up. My Cousin and I found the French fries to be much better from Room Service than what was out at the restaurant.

Daily Itinerary Sheet and Ships Cruise Director

One of the best things you can do during your cruise is to check out your Fun Times Sheet-Carnival Cruises daily itinerary or your ships daily itinerary sheet left in your room each day and see the many activities are going on especially the two days you are at sea. I cannot express how great it is when you have a fantastic Cruise Director on board. Life at Sea becomes one big, happy party! Aboard the Fantasy we had the best Cruise Director I have experienced. Our cruise director, Mike Gibson, and his Fun Squad Crew kept the Fantasy hopping. He was great fun and we loved finding out each day what Mikey was up too.

Carnival Fantasy-Cruise Director Hosting Sing-a-Long-Last Night Aboard in the Atrium
Cruise Director Aboard The Fantasy Making Sure Everyone is having a Great Time!

Check Out Ship’s Entertainment

Take time to go see one of the shows going on during your cruise.  It is a nice time to relax and enjoy yourself and your family.  Entertainment can be geared for all ages to fun with kids to adult entertainment, there are also many games and even dancing scheduled while you are cruising.

Carnival Fantasy-Entertainment Schedule
Carnival Fantasy Entertainment Schedule

Excursions

Check out the many excursions offered at your port-of-calls.  You can check excursions offered before you sail by going to cruise line website or once onboard the ship sign up for an excursion.  There are many excursions offered and vary in activity level, kid oriented fun to adult fun plus the excursions vary in price per person.  It is worth taking an excursion around the island you are on if you have not had the pleasure to visit there before.  The other option is to wonder the island on your own, many have taxis, bicycles, buses, etc. waiting to take you around and show you the sights or to a specific place you would like to go visit.

Carnival Fantasy-Carnival Shore Excursions
Cozumel and Costa Maya Excursions Info

That’s our handy tips for enjoying a cruise and Sweet Tea Gals hope y’all have a great time crusin’!!

 

Cruise Prep 101-Research

Taking a cruise should be a splendid and fun experience for everyone and Sweet Tea Gals has some handy information, advice and ideas for those getting ready to take a cruise.

Most Importantly: Do Your Research!

When preparing for a cruise trip make sure to research the different cruise line and ships to find the cruise that fits your needs best. This can be done easily by searching out each cruise line using the internet and investigating each ship in the different cruise line families right down to being able to pinpoint a room. This really comes in handy.

Not all cruise lines are the same. If you are looking for romance, or  family fun, or perhaps want to take an adult cruise with no children aboard check with your cruise lines, research the different ships and what is offered and if needed go through a travel agent to make sure you are getting what you want.

My first experience on a cruise was for my wedding and we used the Princess Lines choosing the gorgeous ship Caribbean Princess.  The ship itself was geared more for adult fun with its many bars, shopping areas aboard, elegant formal dining rooms and casinos. I do not recall seeing a whole lot of children aboard.  The ship did offer activities for kids scheduled daily and parents could leave their children with the recreation crew and go do what they planned. The Princess worked well for our purpose as we were taking young teens and children, who planned to swim in the pools and enjoy shows geared for their age, our parents who would want a more quiet atmosphere and our friends who would enjoy the bar and pool areas.  The ship was beautiful and our stewardess surprised us each day with special things placed in our room for the honeymooners.  Our stewardess also picked up quickly on the fact that my stepdaughter had chosen to stay with her dad and I in our room and added an extra cot for her and each day made a special towel animal for her bed.  On my wedding day the stewardess helped me with my dress and after we left the ship at St. Thomas for our wedding,  she added rose petals, chocolates and champagne to our room.  We had not asked for any of these special amenities, our stewardess was very attentive to all her passengers needs and why they were on the cruise.  My mom and our other guests were on different floors and each had special amenities added to their rooms each day as well.  This impressed me! Our port-of-calls were St. Thomas, United States Virgin Islands and Cozumel, Mexico. We had planned to be married on the beach in St. Thomas and I called the Caribbean Princess line to find out if they could recommend a wedding planner on St. Thomas to assist us in arranging our wedding for us.  They were happy to oblige and we were married on St. Thomas without a hitch, the wedding planner that was recommended did a wonderful job and the scenery and ceremony were absolutely beautiful.

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Princess Cruise Line-Caribbean Princess

My second cruise was with Carnival Cruise Lines aboard the ship Destiny. Carnival has always been known for the party ships of the seas since the 1980’s. Many of my friends and even my husband had cruised on the Carnival  line during the 80’s and loved it.

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Carnival Destiny at Port-of Call in St. Thomas

On this cruise my husband, myself, and two of our closest couple friends planned on cruising with ‘Rick Springfield and Friends’. This was back in November 2008 and as we boarded the ship I immediately noted the difference in the size of the ship compared to the Caribbean Princess. This ship was quite a bit smaller than the Caribbean Princess Cruise ship and although it had many amenities it wasn’t quite as beautiful or as gallant of a ship. The rooms were a bit smaller compared to our other cruise even though we once again had a balcony room. Our steward for this cruise took care of everyday needs in our rooms but there wasn’t that extra special touch provided by the Caribbean Princess. This cruise was a much more laid back atmosphere and most passengers on board were there because of Rick Springfield. That ship sure did rock with all the concerts given by Rick Springfield throughout the cruise. I sure loved the entire cruise!

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Rick Springfield and John Waite!

Since this was my second cruise, we were again stopping in Cozumel and since two of the couples with us had been with us on our wedding cruise we all stayed around the port area, shops and restaurants.

My third and most recent cruise was once again with Carnival aboard the ship Fantasy. I had been asked to go by my bestie and the other half of Sweet Tea Gals, Lori, my cousin and my Aunt.

Carnival Fantasy-Ship in Port at Cozumel Mexico
Carnival Fantasy Sails Into Port-Cozumel

I had done some research on the ship and knew she had been updated, I also clued in very quickly that Carnival had adopted a lot of Disney Cruise Lines rules. A-ha, Carnival had decided to gear itself toward family time and fun. I noticed it immediately as I boarded the ship. Kids and their parents were everywhere. In fact throughout the cruise several passengers commented to me in conversations that they didn’t expect so many young children aboard.  Apparently these passengers did not do their research. I already knew the ships had added water slides on the top decks and had researched daily itineraries and Carnival Lines were now offering Kid And Teen Zone Areas and a lot more activities geared toward the whole family and activities geared for specific ages. It was a whole new experience this time aboard a Carnival Cruise ship and this was the best cruise by far.

Even though there was not the extra special touches added and our steward on this cruise was barely seen we still had a blast.  Not much time was spent in our cabin which was a good thing because the cabin was located on the lower decks and it was an inside cabin.  It was small.  With four of us in the cabin there was no room for anything extra.  It was at times difficult for all of us to get ready, for the day or evening, at the same time  because of the limited space but we quickly adjusted.  Thank goodness we are not the fancy kind of folks or we would have been in trouble trying to properly dress in evening attire.  Those shorts, tees, summer dresses and khaki’s for the young man, made it easier and we gals definitely didn’t have enough room to spend too much time in front of the only mirror in the cabin putting on makeup.  Hey, we southern gals know to touch up our lips with a bit of color to make ourselves presentable before steppin’ out for the evening.

Of course Disney Cruise Line says it all-it is Disney and it will be for kids of all ages, that’s a given.  This is a cruise I definitely want to do some day!

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Cruising Made Easy 101

 

Cruise Lines Offer Holiday Cruises-Check Them Out!

 

Sweet Tea Gals Best advice: Do Your Research!

http://www.princess.com

http://www.carnival.com

http://www.disneycruise.disney.go.com

Cruisin’ with ShowStoppers of Southeast Missouri-A ShowStopping Hit!!

This May, myself, my bestie and partner in Sweet Tea Gals, Lori, her son, and my Aunt Judy boarded the beautiful cruise ship Carnival Fantasy. We were on this cruise due to my cousin, Keiton, being a member of the group, ShowStoppers of Southeast Missouri, who would be performing three shows aboard The Carnival Fantasy.

ShowStoppers of Southeast Missouri

ShowStoppers of Southeast Missouri is a singing and dance group made of teens ranging from 7th grade to 12th, under the direction of Mrs. MaryRuth Boone.  The ShowStoppers begin to practice for their summer performances in the fall and continue practicing till its Show Time. Needless to say, this is quite a commitment on the part of the performers and their families, and these young teens work this hard because they share a love for music, love to sing, and love to perform. The group’s director, Mrs. Boone, plans out the theme of the show for each year as well as the music selections, choreography,  costumes and what the show will entail. I have to say-she is one awesome lady!

ShowStoppers performing at The Forum, In second picture that’s my cousin, Keiton singing a solo!

I had not seen any of the practices or the performance the group held at their home base before the cruise, and I was delightfully surprised with the show. Outstanding! ShowStoppers blew me away! Their show consisted of music from Broadway hits of ‘Jersey Boys’ and ‘Mama Mia’ and all of these young people were so talented in voice and performance. They were great!

One of my favorite pictures taken! Mrs. Boone directing The ShowStoppers from her seat!

What I didn’t expect was the dance and song numbers to be so outstanding and so much fun to watch. You couldn’t help but find yourself singing along to these great songs, and listening to the solos and dance routines given by these young artists was fantastic!

ShowStoppers perform in the Universal Lounge

The group preformed three shows aboard the ship. They began their first two performances in a smaller venue, The Forum, and with the first performance it was mostly family members and a few passengers who came on in to watch the show. By the second show the audience increased in numbers and by their third show the group performed in the largest theater, The Universal Lounge. Through word of mouth by passengers who had already seen the show and as passengers heard the music and singing coming from the lounge more and more passengers came on in to catch the performance.   The Universal Lounge seats were full and the audience throughly enjoyed themselves. The ShowStoppers were definitely a hit!  They even had several passengers come for repeat performances and one couple who didn’t miss any of the three shows. Outstanding!

The couple pictured with The ShowStoppers never missed a performance! They attended all three shows!

These young teens were as good or better as the shows that normally perform aboard the cruise ship. Their youth and exuberance was contagious and the pure joy the group displayed during their performances was undeniable-the audience loved it. They absolutely danced and sang their way into the hearts of the passengers aboard The Fantasy.

As Always-Enjoy Life One Sweet Tea at Time and add some great music to go along with your day!

Prayers for Texas!

All of us are aware of the devastation Hurricane Harvey has caused in Texas and throughout southern states.  These are just a few posts from some of Sweet Tea Gals favorite celebrities we follow and what they are doing to help out!

 

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Miranda Lambert down in Texas helping dogs in need after Hurricane Harvey alongside her foundation MuttNation
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Miranda Lambert’s MuttNation Foundation along with The Pink Pistol providing help to the dogs in need down in Texas
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One of Sweet Tea Gals Fav Twins, Jonathan Scott of Brother vs. Brother, Property Brothers, Property Brothers-Buying and Selling post from Instagram on how to donate to help out
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Clint Harp from Sweet Tea Gals fav Fixer Upper Show posting how to help by purchasing Texas Forever Tees

Help out by checking with your local Red Cross, local churches, local tv stations for items needed and trucks heading down to Texas to help out those in need!

Total Eclipse of the Heart over Kentucky! Solar Eclipse August 21, 2017!

I have no other word other than AMAZING for my experience and how I felt watching the solar eclipse.  In Kentucky we got quite a show, the eclipse began around 11:10 am in south central Kentucky, with a very small black space beginning to cover the sun. 

Of course we had our special eye ware on:

Me with my ‘OH SO COOL’ solar glasses taking a look at the Eclipse

My Daughter and Dad with their eye ware on. Check out my Daughter’s shirt and what it says…
Even Bailey Boy got in on the action with his special doggie glasses

Over the next couple hours my daughter, dad and I would check out the progression of the eclipse. Around 1:10 pm we could see that it was getting a bit dimmer in the backyard and sure enough right on cue for our area, at 1:25 pm we had totality.

Truly an experience to behold. Watching through the glasses we saw the darkness creeping closer over the sun as the moon was passing and to watch that one little last flicker of light and then, Bam!, to witness total darkness over the sun was amazing. We took our glasses off so we could view the backyard and sure enough we were in the dark, the temperature had dropped and the humidity was gone. 

But just as all good things must come to an end, this moment in time went too quickly. Just like the last bit of sunlight poked through before totality, so was our moment of the moon fully covering the sun. Within seconds we realized it was already starting to lighten again in the yard and as I put my glasses back on the moon was in motion and the sunlight began peeking through again. 

I went back out one more time around 2:00 pm and the moon was still partly over the sun but the heat of the day was back along with the birds and squirrels out in the yard again. What fun to anticipate and watch the eclipse as the moon made its way over the sun and to share it with your family, it is a moment that will always be remembered.

Just Livin’ Life One Sweet Tea at a Time with a Total Eclipse of the Heart over Kentucky!