Even though Buffy the Vampire Slayer turned 20 this year around Halloween I find myself pulling out the Buffy The Vampire Slayer DVD’s and sitting back and having a good time with Buffy and the Scoobies.
Halloween episodes were made every two seasons beginning with Season 2, “Halloween”, Season 4, “Fear Itself”, and Season 6, “All the Way”. Even though “Buffy vs. Dracula” is not a Halloween episode, I had to include it. The episode is about Dracula after all, and it is one of the most hilarous episodes the writers of Buffy the Vampire Slayer created.
Halloween: Season 2, Episode 6
The episode begins at school with Buffy, Xander, and Willow being handed their list of kids they will escort on Halloween for trick or treating by Principal Snyder. We learn from Giles that despite the fact that we have grown up on the lore of Halloween night being for witches, ghosts and goblins, it is quite the contrary, the ghoulish all tend to stay in hiding on this night and therefore the Slayer is not needed for patrolling and protecting Sunnydale on All Hallows’ Eve. Also, going on at school that day is a confession to Willow by Buffy that Buffy often wonders what the girls were like back in Angels time and how beautiful the girls must have been all dressed up in their gowns.
After school Buffy, Xander and Willow go costume shopping at a new costume shop in town. As Buffy and Xander are talking, Buffy walks off completely mesmerized by a gown she sees. Of course the merchant of the store offers the gown to Buffy at a price she can’t refuse for ‘the gown has found the perfect girl’. Willow settles on a ghost costume and Xander picks up a toy army gun to go with his fatigues he is planning to wear.
Buffy and Willow get ready on Halloween, Buffy admires herself in the dress, feeling like an 18th Century girl and wonders how Angel will like her in the gown. On the other hand Willow has to be encouraged by Buffy to discard the ghost costume and to wear the scantily clothed costume telling Willow, “that the cool thing about Halloween is you can dress up and be who whatever you want.’ As Xander arrives in his soldier costume, Buffy greets him at the door and our lovely Willow comes down the stairs in her ghost costume.
Buffy, Willow, and Xander head back to school to meet up with their groups they will be taking out trick or treating for the evening.
As the gang takes their groups of kids trick or treating some dark magic has also been cast. As the magic spell begins to hit the town Willow is with her group of kids and within seconds they begin to behave like real little monsters and run off leaving Willow looking down upon her ghost costumed body wondering if she really is a ghost.
Everything goes crazy, Willow finds Xander shooting at creatures and Buffy screaming like a girl and scared to death of what is going on. Willow approaches them and begins to question Buffy and Xander as to what is happening and she soon realizes Buffy and Xander have some kind of amnesia and have no idea who they are and believe they really are the characters of their costumes. Willow heads them over to Buffy’s where they can find protection. As Buffy begins to look around the room she notices pictures of the three friends and becomes more confused and frightened.
Willow, Buffy and Xander hear all kinds of yelling and fighting going on outside the Summers home. Xander stands guard and when he hears a girl screaming he runs out to save her. He return to Buffy’s with Cordelia dressed as a cat. Willow realizes Cordelia knows who she is and begins to explain to Cordelia that Buffy and Xander do not know who they are, Angel arrives to help out and Willow sets out to find Giles.
Willow ‘poofs’ through the wall of the library making Giles jump and she quickly explains to him what is happening. Willow and Giles figure out that Cordelia had purchased her costume from another Halloween Shop which only lead to one explanation, that the Halloween Shop where Buffy, Willow and Xander bought their costumes had to have something to do with what was happening in Sunnydale. They take off to the Halloween Shop.
Meanwhile, Spike and the other vampires have figured out what is going on and decide to go after Buffy. Soon the Summers house is under attack. When Buffy witnesses Angel vamp face while he is fighting she is immediately frightened and runs off into the night. Cordelia, Angel and Soldier Xander take off in pursuit
Giles and Willow reach the Halloween Shop and confront the man responsible for the spell, Ethan Rayne-an old pal of Giles from back in his school days. Buffy has been cornered by Sike in an alley and just when it looks like the end for the slayer, Buffy jumps up and states to Spike, “Honey I’m Home”.
Giles has managed to break the spell, turning everyone back into who they are and Halloween is saved.
Finally, Buffy and the gang are once again with their assigned group of kids, balance has been restored in Sunnydale and everything is good.
Willow heads home carrying her ghost costume and as she is crossing the street the guy in the van at the stop sign once more admiringly questions ‘Who is that girl”?
Sometimes I think I watch the whole episode just so I can see this scene-it is one of my favorite scenes in the series. I believe this is the third time 0z has run into Willow and wonders who she is. Love it!
Fear Itself: Season 4, Episode 4
The gangs are all at Xander’s carving Halloween pumpkins and Buffy just isn’t a happy girl, she even wants to patrol on Halloween, knowing the monsters are at bay on Halloween. She takes off to Giles apartment to see what his thoughts are on her patrolling only to find Giles dressed up for Halloween with candy to hand out to trick or treaters.
Xander and Oz head over to a fraternity house that will be hosting a Halloween party later that night. The fraternity brothers are in need of Oz’s help with the sound system. As Oz is setting up the system the faternity brothers ask if him and Xander will be attending the party and Oz replies that they will. The faternity brothers have painted a symbol on the floor of the attic with no idea of what it may invoke. As Oz is fixing a wire he cuts himself and a small amount of blood drops onto the symbol.
Willow talks Buffy into going to the fraternity Halloween party and Xander asks Anya if she would like to attend. Anya tells Xander she will meet him at the party later after she figures out what costume she is going to wear.
Willow, Oz, Buffy and Xander meet up and head to the Halloween party. Upon entering the fraternity house they realize the frat brothers have turned it into a sprawling haunted house and as they journey through the house the gang hears screams. All of a sudden the house changes, fake spiders become real spiders and fall on Willow, fake bats become real flying down the hall and Buffy finds real blood on the floor. Their worst fears start to become real. Willow’s fear of Buffy not accepting her as a witch, Oz’s fear of not being able to control the wolf in him, Buffy’s fear of not being able to protect her friends and Xander’s fears that he is just invisible to the gang and is no worth to them.
Meanwhile, as Anya comes up to the fraternity house in her bunny costume the doors and windows of the house become sealed and Anya cannot enter. She quickly goes to Giles for help. Giles and Anya head back to the faternity house and Giles makes an entrance with a chain saw. Buffy has realized what is happening and is trying to find Xander, Willow and Oz as they have all become separated. Finally they all wind up in the attic with Giles and Anya appearing too. Giles sees the symbol and informs the gang what demon has been hailed. As the demon shows itself the gang begins laughing because the demon is so tiny. Our fearless slayer smashes the demon with her foot and the spell is broken.
Buffy vs. Dracula: Season 5, Episode 1
This is one of my favorite episodes and it is wickedly funny. From Buffy’s first encounter with Dracula in the cemetery to Giles falling into the pit with the Three Sisters and finally to Buffy turning Dracula into dust, again, and again, and yes, Buffy is standing right there Drac!
Buffy, Riley, Xander, Anya, Tara and Willow start their day off at the beach. (In Buffy the Vampire Slayer there has not been before this episode, nor after, where Buffy and the gang are relaxing at the beach. The importance of this little frolic to the beach is the fact that Buffy doesn’t get to relax much or get out of Sunnydale very often-the slayer needs a break. Also within the episode there is no mention of just what beach the gang is at nor is it ever referenced in a BtVS episode that Sunnydale is close to the ocean or sits on the ocean.) At last, Buffy’s fun doesn’t last long, it starts storming and the gang has to head back to Sunnydale where we next find Buffy, Xander and Willow out on patrol.
Then this happens:
Buffy meets Dracula himself. Dracula tells Buffy he has come to Sunnydale to find out about this slayer he has heard of and Buffy is quite impressed that Dracula actually knows who she is. As Willow and Xander come upon the conversation and Buffy tells them who is standing before them, Willow is taken aback, but not Xander he actually begins counting like “The Count” on Sesame Street til Buffy gets through to him that it really is Dracula.
On the way home Xander discovers that Anya knows Dracula and has hung out with him, as Anya walks off to her apartment Xander is faced with the Count himself and is put under Dracula’s spell.
The next day as Willow, Buffy and Xander retell their encounter with Dracula to Giles, Tara and Riley, you can hear the admiration in Buffy and Willow’s voices. Giles even wishes he had been there to have seen Dracula turn into a bat and fly off. While Buffy and Willow are talking about Dracula and how awesome he is, Xander’s responses to Dracula’s name become evident as he refers to Dracula as “Master”. Riley has become concerned that Buffy is under Dracula’s “Thrall” and Buffy reassures him she isn’t . The gang come up with an okay plan to find Dracula. (The scenes in Giles apartment are hilarious.)
Riley is not satisfied with Buffy’s response and in concern over Buffy he heads out to find Spike to get some information on Dracula. Spike warns Riley to stay away from Dracula due to Dracula being around for ages making him a very dangerous foe.
Later on that evening, Riley and Giles decide to find Dracula’s castle-courtesy of information learned from Spike. Xander, Buffy and Anya are at Xander’s where it was decided Buffy would be better protected from Dracula. Xander informs Buffy he must take her to his master as he shoves Anya into a closet and locks her in.
Riley, Giles, Xander and Buffy all wind up at Dracula’s castle and the episode gets funnier and funnier as Riley and Giles wander though the castle in search of Buffy. The battle begins between Buffy and Dracula.
In the end Buffy dusts Dracula-kinda-and Xander informs Riley, Buffy, and Giles he is tired of being everyone’s butt-monkey, Buffy replies, “Right, no more butt-monkey.”
And at the very, very end someone shows up at Buffy’s house we haven’t seen before…..
All the Way-Season 6, Episode 6
What I love about this episode is that it revolves around Dawn and pure teenage behavior.
The episode begins at the Magic Shoppe where Anya is skating around dressed as one of Charlie’s Angels and Giles is merrily dressed as a Wizard, The Magic Shoppe is busy due to Halloween and Anya is counting the money. While everyone is present at the Magic Shoppe, Xander announces his and Anya’s engagement.
Buffy, Tara, Dawn and Willow head back to the Summers’ house to throw an engagement party for Anya and Xander. Dawn has asked Buffy if she can spend the night at her friend, Janice’s house and Buffy gives her permission. Dawn heads out to meet up with Janice and we find out, two older boys from school, Zack and Justin. The foursome go about town spreading Halloween antics of smashing pumpkins and so on throughout the evening. They have an encounter at one of the homes as Dawn is yanked into the home by the owner and the others go to save her. The teens get out of that mess and head back to the car Zack has stolen. Janice and Zack take a walk which leaves little Dawny with Justin and Dawn receives her first kiss, realizing Justin is a vampire as she feels the bumps on his lumpy forehead. Dawn quickly gets out of the car.
Meanwhile back at Buffy’s the phone rings and Giles answers only to discover it is Janice’s mother who is under the impression that Janice is spending the night with Dawn. Giles informs the others that Dawn has tricked them as he and Buffy take off to find Dawn. Buffy heads for Spike’s and after throwing Spike’s door open, Spike informs Buffy what the teens have been up too. Buffy grabs a crossbow and heads out with Spike following.
Giles is in the cemetery looking for Dawn and hears a girls screaming. He runs towards the scream only to discover it is Janice and she has been bitten. Zack refers to Giles as “Grandpa” and Giles dusts Zack. Buffy and Spike catch up to Giles and they all three find Dawn who is running from Justin. Buffy immediately tears into Dawn about going out with boys you don’t know and that the boy could be bad or a vampire. The sisters bicker back and forth with Dawn finally telling Buffy she didn’t know Justin was a vampire and that she liked him, and reminds Buffy that she dated Angel, who was a vampire. The vampires circle around Giles, Spike, Dawn and Buffy and the fight is on. Dawn is caught by Justin and knocked to the ground where Justin proceeds to try to bite Dawn. Dawn dusts Justin with a crossbow arrow she had in her hand. Buffy, Giles and Spike fight off the rest of the vampires and we learn that little sister can fight vamps too!
There you have it-Sweet Tea Gal’ s rundown of Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Halloween episodes.
The movie Hocus Pocus is a perfect way to plan, create, and carry out a themed party. Last Halloween I decided this would be my theme due to the neighbor girls had never seen the movie and had asked if we could get together and watch it one evening before Halloween. Once the girls had asked about the movie I set into motion to plan a Hocus Pocus Party for them which would include props, decorations, party foods, pumpkin carvings, activities for the girls to do with this theme, and for the last event to be the viewing of the movie.
I set out thinking of fun ways to create activities that teenage girls would enjoy and began my planning stages of props and decorations around my home to add some good old creepiness to the party. After all the Sanderson Sisters weren’t exactly what you would call good witches, in fact they were quite the opposite.
For my first project I wanted to make some type of invitation that would reflect the theme. I got onto pinterest and found a cute picture of the Sanderson Sisters that once downloaded would let me edit and create my own wording of date and time of party. After I completed printing out the invitations I then cut them down and glued each invite to black stock paper and attached a ribbon.
I didn’t want to mail the invitations since the girls lived right up the hill from me and I wanted a clever way to present the invitations to them. Faith and Grace were not aware I was throwing the party and I decided I was going to make each girl a broom to hang the invitations on. The dogs and I went for a stroll out in our yard and field and found the perfect branches for the handle, the branches were long, knotted and sturdy. I then gathered up smaller sticks and branches to construct the broom section. I gathered the smaller branches up and took some jute twine and tied the branches together at the top of my bundle, next I took that section and tied it to the larger branch. Next I took the jute twine and went around the area of the larger branch and where the small branches were tied to give it more of a broom look. They really turned out great! I attached each invitation to the brooms and while the girls were at school I went up to their house and placed each broom invite alongside their front door area. Faith and Grace loved them, and used the DIY brooms for Halloween decorations at their house for the month of October.
My next step was making out a list of supplies I would need. Since we were doing a Hocus Pocus theme and the movie is about witches I thought it would be really cute for the girls to design and create their own witch hats to wear while we watched the movie. I also found on pinterest a cute DIY of floating witch hats to hang up as decorations. As I was picking up some of the craft supplies I would need I lucked out and found at Target in their $1.00 to $5.00 bins a package of wall decals with Hocus Pocus on them for $3.00-what a deal. When I got home I had to hang the decals up to see what they would look like and they were perfect.
Once I got the decals on the wall everything started coming together with how I would decorate the house. I decided on printing out Hocus Pocus spells and quotes from the different characters in the movie, frame and hang them along the Hocus Pocus decals. I also thought it would be fun to print out the History of the Sanderson Sisters that is shown in the movie in the Sanderson Sisters museum. I took my various print outs that I made in different sizes and placed them into frames I got at the Dollar Tree Store. The History of the Sanderson Sisters I placed on a board and decoupaged it and added a bit of glitter to it to jazz it up. Then I got to thinking about the main character behind the whole story of the movie-Binx the cat. Binx had been turned into a cat by the sisters when he had come to their cottage to attempt to save his little sister-which went terribly wrong-and poor Thackeray Binx would remain a cat who could not die for over a hundred years. I found a print out of a cat and cut it out placing it on an 8×10 piece of board. Next I painted the board orange then traced the cat onto the board and used black glitter to be the cat’s body. I found some black glitter letter stickers and used the calling of Binx by his little sister, “Thackeray Binx where are you…” as my quote. My next decoration had to be nothing less than the spell the Sanderson Sisters placed on Thackery Binx and I printed that out and hung it above Binx’s picture.
I had really gotten on a roll by this time with ideas and thought I needed something to hang on the coat rack since I had placed the spell, Binx and Sanderson Sister History in that part of my foyer. I went back to the Dollar Tree and picked up 3 witches hats and hung them on the hooks of the coat rack along with a black cape I already had. I knew Grace, over the past couple of Halloween’s loved the couple of spell bottles I had made so while I was at the Dollar Tree I picked up a few more. I also found at Target lab jars and beakers and thought these would be cute to use too. I took my different bottles and jars and placed spooky spell ingredient labels on them then filled some with colored dye and others with ashes from our wood burning stove and even used some crushed up color rocks I had found at the Dollar Tree. On Pinterest I found some Sanderson Sister ingredient labels and decoupaged a couple of these onto the bottles.
The Black Flame Candle is a major part of the movie and once Max lights it the whole sha-bang begins I wanted to come up with a way to make it or even better let Faith and Grace make one too. I found the Black Candle warning on Pinterest and copied it down, then typed it onto shiny stock paper and printed this out. I went back to the Dollar Tree and found the high jars with the candles in them and used the candle jar to wrap the warning of the Black Candle Flame around it using decoupage, then took jute twine and wrapped it around a few times at the top of jar to make it older looking. My Black Flame Candle looked pretty good.
By this time I was really getting into this whole party theme idea and begin to think how I could decorate outdoors with this same theme going on. I brainstormed a bit and came up with three ideas for the outside. First I made a Sanderson Sister sign to hang on my front door. I did this with a pallet board, painted it pumpkin orange and then placed ‘Sanderson Cottage’ on the pallet board with black stick on letters. I used a large, thick jute rope for the hangar. Secondly, I got out my big boards, painted them black, then went to my computer and found a font I could use which was thick enough to be traced around on to the boards. Using the ‘Back to the Future’ font and enlarging it I printed out letters to spell Hocus Pocus. I sanded the boards down a bit after the paint dried to give the boards an old look then I traced Hocus onto one board and Pocus onto another, painted the letters orange, took some purple and orange glitter into my hands to sprinkle onto the boards, then sprayed each board with a matte sealer. I placed boards alongside my front door and added pumpkins around them. I also got a Dollar Tree pumpkin and cut a straight line down the back of the pumpkin, cut off the handles and wrapped it around my porch light. Easy!
My third idea for outdoor decorations was the biggest endeavor-I decided to make a cemetery area due to in the movie several scenes take place there. I knew I would have to have a Billy Bones tombstone since Billy is brought back by Winifred to aid in getting those kids and her spell book. I looked up Billy’s tombstone and wrote down what was on it, searched out the Sanderson Sisters gravestone and wrote it down. I used old plywood boards I had and styrofoam boards I had gotten at Dollar Tree to make the gravestones, sprayed the plywood and boards with Krylon Natural Stone in Granite Gray, and painted my letters onto the gravestones. Just to add a bit more Hocus Pocus magic to the graveyard scene I took a piece of pallet board, painted it a creepy orange and painted “Come Little Children”, (Sarah’s song to call the children in the movie), onto the board.
To decorate downstairs I placed the floating witches hats over my table and placed a witch tablecloth down. I had purchased each of the girls a black plastic witches cauldron from the Dollar Tree and decorated the cauldrons with their names and ribbons then added candy into each cauldron. I also placed Halloween Treats, plus witch plates, cups and napkins onto the table. Both faith and Grace love Butterbeer, from the Harry Potter Series, and I mixed up a batch of this to serve.
Upstairs in the kitchen I laid down a Halloween orange and black striped tablecloth for our crafts we would be doing and I printed out a “Pumpkin Carving” sign, placed it on a pumpkin and stuck pumpkin carving materials into the pumpkin.
Menu Plan For the Evening:
White Chicken Chili
Pillsberry Chocolate Crescent Witch Hats
The day for the Hocus Pocus Movie Night had finally arrived. Grace and Faith came over to the house in the afternoon and loved all the decorations outside and inside the house. We began our afternoon with crafting our witch hats. On the craft table I had spools of tulle in different colors, assorted ribbon colors, silver stud stick on’s and plastic spiders. The girls went to work on their hats and the witch hats they created were so cute!
Next we made our Black Flame Candles and then it was time to carve pumpkins. Faith, Grace and I have been carving Halloween pumpkins together since they were young. It all started when I first moved to Missouri and had met their sister Aubrey who was six years old at the time, the twins were just babies. When Aubrey was old enough to carve pumpkins I began inviting her down to my house and we would make a day of it carving pumpkins and watching fun halloween movies. As Faith and Grace grew older they also became included into the annual pumpkin carving and movie time at my house. It was a fun tradition to start with my neighbors and we continued this for years till this year when I moved back to Kentucky.
After Faith, Grace and I finished our pumpkin carving we cleaned up our crafting area and began to fix our snacks. We used a cookie cutter pumpkin shape for the quesadilla’s and cut out the shapes from tortillas. Next we warmed up some cut up chicken and ground some hamburger meat. Placed our tortillas in oven to warm up and when they were ready we added our toppings of cheese, salsa, and sour cream. The girls mom, Laurie, who is also my dearest of friends came down after work and joined us for supper and the rest of our festivities. After we ate we mixed up another batch of butterbeer and made our dessert of Chocolate Crescent Witch Hat-still staying with the theme of the night-to munch on while we watched Hocus Pocus.
Before we started Hocus Pocus it was time to light our pumpkins and set them outside.
The girls, Laurie and I donned our new witch hats and throughly enjoyed watching the movie while enjoying our butterbeer and chocloate witch hats.
Faith and Grace loved the movie Hocus Pocus and afterwards we hung our witch hats up in the foyer to add to the Hocus Pocus theme.
The Hocus Pocus Movie Night was loads of fun and Faith and Grace, Laurie and I had a great time spending the day together!
Print outs I used for Hocus Pocus Themed Movie Night-Print outs and recipes can also be found on Sweet Tea Gals Pinterest Page-www.pinterest.com/sweetteagals/:
This past July my dearest friend, Laurie, called and mentioned that her twin daughters, Faith and Grace, would like to come spend some time with me in Kentucky, what else could I say but, “HECK YEAH!”
Laurie and I talked back and forth several times arranging the dates for Faith and Grace to visit and some of the possible activities Aaron, my daughter, and I had planned to do with the girls while they were visiting. Faith is in Color Guard at her highschool and Grace is on the Volleyball Team, both are in-coming freshman and they both were already practicing. With the twins schedules this left us with three full days of being able to discover some new adventures together in Kentucky.
I drove to Missouri on a Friday, Aubrey , the oldest sibling, who is beautiful, smart , musically talented and gifted, plus a college student at Missouri State University where she is in the marching band and since last year-engaged! Aubrey was going to be at home and I wanted to spend some time with her too before she headed back to college and this was a perfect opportunity with all our schedules. On Saturday, we spent the afternoon preparing strawberry preserves the good old-fashioned way-canning-to freeze and put back for Aubrey’s upcoming wedding next May. We made a lot of perserves! It took us all morning and most of the afternoon, but what a great way to spend time together!
On Sunday Faith, Grace, and I headed out for Kentucky!
Day 1 Adventure: The Climb-Russellville, KY
On Monday Aaron, Faith, Grace and I headed to The Climb. I don’t know how Aaron found this place but it is indeed a huge swimming area complete with zip lines, water slides, paddle boards and more. It was cool. The girls loved zip-lining and did it several times.
The Climb is a rustic area out in Russellville, KY. I am assuming at one time the area was mined and then flooded. The Climb cannot charge admissions, as sanctioned by the city of Russellville, so instead they ask for donations.
Day 2 Adventure: Holiday World-Santa Claus, IN
The twins had never visited Holiday World in Santa Claus, Indiana and this was something they were wanting to do. Aaron and I had already had this day planned beforehand. Holiday World is a lot of fun and entertaining for all ages and if you have kids with you-especially teenagers- the rides are a priority. Of course we lucked out and had the usual hot and humid weather of Kentucky in July where everything sticks to you. The great thing about Holiday World is the Water Park-it is awesome and on a hot day it’s perfect to go and cool off at. I know Faith, Grace and Aaron would agree with me on that. We had planned our day around the heat with riding some of the rides in the morning, having some lunch, hitting the water park all afternoon and in the evening riding anything left that they wanted to do again or didn’t get to do in the morning. This plan worked well except I was ready for the water park by 11:00 from the heat, other than that, the girls were off to ride the roller coasters and other rides in the amusement side of the park. Holiday World Ride areas are broken up into four lands; Halloween, Thanksgiving, 4th of July and Christmas, there are shows to see in these areas, plenty of souvenir shops and places to eat, but with the age group Faith and Grace fall in, there is no stopping for shows or anything else-it is Ride Time!
Over on the Water Park side of Holiday World Faith, Aaron and Grace hit the water coasters slides first. They loved them! All three of them got me onto the water coaster and sure enough just one spin and a loop-de-loop and I was queasy. Give me the Lazy River and I will float all day! The wave pool and kid water areas are all fun, even big people enjoy being over in the kid areas. Even though the park was crowded due to everyone in the park deciding to be at the water side during the afternoon there were still plenty of chairs, lounge chairs and tables available, which was very nice.
What I love about Holiday World is parking is free, tickets are reasonable, food is reasonable and while you are in the parks there is free drinks of soda, tea, water, and lemonade available at the many drink huts throughout the park. The drink huts are great and if you think what you spend on drinks at other amusement parks with your family you have probably spent more on the drinks than the actual ticket, so this is a great big plus. The other freebie is sunscreen stationed throughout the water park and when it is a hot day the free drinks comes in handy. The parks are very well maintained and clean, and what I found to be quite nice is the training the Holiday World staff receives in constant greeting and talking to park goers making sure everyone is having a great time and quick to assist if needed.
By 9:00 pm all four of us were worn out and ready to head back to Bowling Green, KY and get some sleep because we had another planned full day coming up.
Note: Aaron, myself or the twins took any pictures while we were in the water park. Unless you have someone who is going to stay with all the bags as everyone moves from one water park ride or water area you really don’t want to pack phones or cameras around. Too much fun in the water! There are great locker systems you can rent when you get into either park area and we rented a locker at the beginning of our day so we didn’t have to drag swimming bags and purses around with us.
Day 3 Adventure: Mammoth Cave National Park and Diamond Caverns
Mammoth Cave is the world’s longest cave system and is really something everyone should try to see. There are so many cave tours offered throughout each day, as well as the many hikes throughout the park grounds and just being in the great outdoors. On our adventure we didn’t preorder tickets for a tour before we left and when we got to the park the tours were all sold out. In all the years I have lived in Kentucky and the many trips I have taken with my family to the cave I have never had this experience of all tours being sold out. As always the 1/2 mile self guided tour was available, price for self guided tour is very cheap, and Aaron and I felt since Faith and Grace were in the cave area they still should have a chance to see inside this historic cave. The self guided tour really is not worth it if you have been on any of the other tours, you will find it is nothing but going into the cave and seeing just a glimpse of what is up ahead-but if you have never experienced Mammoth Cave and all the other tours are sold out, it is worth going because you do get to enter the cave in the original historic entrance.
Since we couldn’t do a Mammoth Cave Tour we decided to go over to Diamond Caverns which is about two miles from Mammoth Cave National Park. I am so glad we made this decision, it has been quite a few years since I had been over to Diamond Caverns and down in the cave, and it is beautiful!
The lodge is rustic, comfort-beauty, and the gift shop and history of Diamond Caverns can be found in the lodge area. The guide takes you down into the cave and you immediately have a breathtaking view of the caves stalagmites and stalactites. (Note: Mammoth Cave Tours does have one section where you will see stalagmites. Mammoth Cave is still a limestone cave and that is mostly what you see is limestone.) The Diamond Caverns tour guide immediately begins to educate you on the stalagmites and stalactites and how they have formed plus guides you to why we cannot touch them in order to preserve them. The tour itself is fantastic not only do you learn the history of the cave and how it was found over a 150 years ago, the tours that have been taken inside the cave over this time span but you also hear humorous tales from the cave war times and other stories that are fun and fascinating. The whole experience was a lot of fun and Faith and Grace were able to learn about the history of Kentucky Cave Systems and see first hand the natural beauty Kentucky’s caves.
Day 4: The Conundrum-Bowling Green, KY
Aaron had discovered The Conundrum and she asked Faith and Grace if they would like to do something like this place offered. When the twins found out it was a place that hosted locked room puzzle mysteries they were both game and couldn’t wait to go. This turned out to be such a fun experience for all of us. We chose ‘The Bank Robbery” mystery, which was one of the hardest puzzles and levels to solve. The girls, Aaron and I had one hour to figure out who robbed the bank and how they had accomplished the bank heist. Our host took us into the room and gave us the back story of the robbery and we were locked in and time was set on the huge timer on the wall. I don’t want to give away any of the secrets because it is extremely fun to figure out all the many codes to unlock hidden places in the room so we would get pieces to solve the puzzle. If we got stuck we were able to place up to five phone calls for a clue. The puzzles and clues were quite difficult and it took all four of us to work as a team to find them and figure them out. We managed to solve the puzzle and unlocked our door within seconds of our time being up. Faith and Grace absolutely loved this activity and both stated that this was by far their favorite out of all the others we had done in the past few days.
One of the last things Aaron, Faith, and Grace did was head over to a sunflower field close by and they took some really cute pictures.
Alas, on the fifth day of Faith and Grace’s visit it was time for the three of us to head back to Missouri, they both had to be back for school related practices. We made the trip back safely and as soon as we got to their house the twins were full of energy and couldn’t wait to share with their parents everything they had done during their visit to Kentucky. Faith and Grace had a great mini-vacation and I was thrilled they had enjoyed themselves. Both girls have already said they want to come back next summer and that’s fine with me!
The old deck at my daughter’s house had began to show its age of 25+ years. Wear and tear from many years of foot traffic by my daughter, our family pets and my daughter’s friends as they traveled back and forth across the deck through childhood, teenage years and into young adulthood. That ole’ deck had seen many a year and it was time to replace it. My daughter came up with a great idea to build a Screened In Porch and a small deck in its place. What a great idea-why didn’t I think of that years ago.
My daughter and I looked at Pinterest for Screened In Porch ideas and found several we liked. My daughter decided on a design and a carpenter was contracted to build new screened-in porch and deck.
Once the design was chosen and the Screened In Porch was complete it was time to choose the perfect stain color. Aaron and I looked at several different stain colors and chose a few colors we liked. We purchased small cans of stain samples from Home Depot and tried samples out on old boards.
The color we liked the best and chose was Behr’s Semi-Transparent Pewter. We thought this stain color would not only make the new Screened In Porch pop from the house exteriors light gray, but also bring out accent colors with her interior choices of furniture, cushions, pillows, and rustic fan blades Aaron planned to put inside the new screened in section.
After three months the new wood had time to season a bit and it was ready to begin applying the wood stain.
Since Bailey is a Chocolate Lab who loves to play Frisbee and as soon as he catches his frisbee he makes a mad dash directly for the deck my daughter and I decided the area in front of the staircase could use a few pavers. Aaron went out and chose the pavers and she thought would best fit in with color scheme of new porch and deck area. My Dad, myself, Aaron, and her boyfriend, John-with a little help from Frisbee Boy-worked together and set the pavers in place.
Finally the new Screened In Porch and Deck were complete and my daughter was able to place her deck furniture and decor. Aaron chose dark blue as her main color to blend with the stain color of porch, she then accented with different color pineapple pillows and pineapple decor to add some pop to her color scheme. Lastly, my daughter chose to place Coolant Blinds over her windows to protect the furniture from sun fade and to give more warmth to the Screened In Porch during the winter. She also hung string lights with glass bulbs around inside the porch to give the screened in area a pretty glow when sitting out on the porch in the evening.
My daughter is very pleased with the way her new Screened In Porch and Deck turned out. It is an extra bonus to her house especially when it rains or snows, Aaron can now let her dog in and out and has a place to dry him off. It also offers my daughter a nice place entertain guests. I know my daughter will get many years of enjoyment out of her new Screened In Porch.
Aaron can enjoy Living Life One Sweet Tea at a Time out on her new Screened In Porch!
Each year as we head down to Panama City Beach my daughter and I plan to try something new. My family has been going to Panama City Beach and Destin, Florida for years and the one thing that both of us had on our “Lifetime List” of really wanting to do was to swim with dolphins. Aaron and I have been on excursions out on a catamaran with group tours where we have gotten into the ocean in dolphin spotted areas and had, dolphins swim around and underneath us, but we had not had that experience we both wanted of actually being with the dolphin in the water and getting to interact with it. My daughter began researching and making phone calls and we discovered this wonderful program offered by Gulf World-The VIP Sea Life Experience!
The VIP Sea Life Experience my daughter learned about while on the phone with a representative from Gulf World. After my daighter explained to the repreasentative what we were looking for, the representative offered this package and explained to my daughter what the VIP Sea Life Experience Swim included-and it really is a great package. VIP Sea Life Experience can be found on the website under the Interactive Programs along with all the other great programs offered at Gulf World and prices are listed for each event at http://www.gulfworldmarinepark
The VIP Sea Life Experience Swim Package Included:
Admission into park
30 minute swim with Stingrays
30 minute swim with Dolphins
30 minute swim with Sea Lions
CD loaded with pictures of each swim time with the animals by a photographer who goes with you to each event and takes special shots of holding the animal, swimming with the animal, etc.
Free Gulf World 32 oz Cup With Refills
For $3.00 Extra my Dad was able to come into the park with us and go into each swim experience and observe
At first glance my daughter and I thought this was going to be too expensive but as we compared prices to the other Dolphin Swim packages offered at Gulf World and other places we checked at and began adding another swim package, food and drink cost, picture package, and any other snacks or sovenirs, the VIP Sea Life Experience package per person was a great deal. Aaron and I both thought that what the experience is giving you, one on one time interacting and swimming with the animals and their trainers; a CD loaded of photos taken of you during each swim that would be a keepsake we will have forever of our adventure and all the extras, we agreed it was worth the price.
Aaron and I really lucked out on the day we chose to go because no one else had signed up for the VIP package which meant the Sting Ray Swim would be just my daughter and I, the Dolphin Swim we were in a group but it was a very limited number of people and the Sea Lion Swim, one other person joined us. You are also allowed one guest to accompany you to each swim event and my dad went with us so he wouldn’t miss out on our adventure.
First Event: Sting Ray Swim
What makes this so unique is the fact that not only are the Sting Rays huge and scary when you are looking at them from outside the pool area and you are thinking to yourself, “Do I really want to do this?”, but once you get inside the water with these amazing creatures all those thoughts vanish as the stingrays begin to swim all around you. There is a trainer with you at all times and they guide you how to touch, hold and even feed the stingrays as well as educate you about these beautiful animals.
The one surprising thing we learned quickly about the stingrays is they love to nuzzle on your feet. They are so soft and smooth and a stingray nuzzled on top of your feet is something to try. I was wary at first as they moved and circled around me but when the trainer instructing me to reach out and touch one and I felt the smooth , velvety skin I began to relax and have fun, which the stingrays weren’t going to give me much choice anyway as one quickly began to nuzzle my feet.
Second Event-Off to swim with the dolphins!
I cannot express how much fun this was! Aaron and I were with a small group and as the trainers took us into the pool area the dolphins were both already greeting us. We both got to learn a few small commands to do with the dolphins such as the movement of our arms and hands for the dolphin to come up, hand signals for spinning around and my favorite the signal for the dolphins to take off swimming and jump out of the water. But the coolest part of this event was getting in the water, waiting for the dolphins to come behind you and grab their torso fins and go for a quite a ride. The excitement of waiting on the dolphins and feeling their mouths on the back of your feet and being launched upwards to a stand while being pushed by the dophins across the pool, it was the coolest thing I have ever done and both my daughter and I would have loved to have kept doing it over and over, it was so much fun. Both of us got into full stands with the dolphins. After our swim time these two sweeties gave hugs and kisses to my daughter and I. The dolphins were sweet and playful and I love listening to the dolphins chatter-it was so cute. It was definately the experience with these charming creatures that I had hoped for.
Event 3: Sea Lion Swim
I cannot express enough how sweet, friendly and docile th Sea Lions were. All three Sea Lions came out of the pool and slid over to greet u and the Sea Lion’s eyes looking up at you will make you melt.
Aaron and I stepped down into the pool with the trainer who instructed us how to introduce ourselves to each of the Sea Lions, which was no problem because these Sea Lions love the attention. We were with one female Sea Lion, who happened to be a sea rescue, she was over 30 years of age and had developed very poor eyesight to where it was a danger for her in the ocean and Gulf World has had her for many years since her rescue. The other two gentleman we had with us were both her babies, Sheldon and Flounder were fun, sweet, and playful. Mama Sea Lion loved to be held and when Aaron and I were holding her she literally went to sleep in our arms. How sweet is that? Aaron and I learned that Sea Lions are smart, playful and very gentle-they love the attention and love to be petted. The skin of the Sea Lion when looking at it appears to be slick, looks can be deceiving, as Aaron and I were both surprised to find out that their skin actually has a coat of fur to give the Sea Lion warmth in the cold waters. Their fur is so soft and velvety smooth you just want to pet them more.
Gulf World is a beautiful, fun place to just walk around and see the all of the animals, there is Sea Lion and Dolphin Shows, plus different feeding times for the animals so visitors can participate. Even if you don’t indulge and do one of the swim programs there is plenty to do and see. It is a great adventure to take with your family and they will love it!
Aaron and I loved our Gulf World experience so much I can see us both doing it again! We also learned while we were at Gulf World there is an Interactive Program called , Trainer for a Day, and this thought peaked our interest to do this program next season when we come back for our vacation,
Finally, Aaron and I both got to swim and play along side dolphins but on top of that, the extra bonus of the sting ray swim and the sea lion swim made this a spectacular day and one that Aaron and I will never forget!
As Always, Live Life One Sweet Tea at a Time!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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:
- Three ring binder of any color with front, back, and side clear slip openings
- Clear three-ring binder pocket pages
- Printable light-weight stock paper
- 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.
Inside Binder Sections We Used:
- Ship Information
- Calendar and Agenda
- Daily Itinerary and Daily Journal Page
- Map of Port-of Calls and Excursion Information
Fun and Information Pages Added to Binder:
A fun I-Spy game just for a Cruise to add to the binder if there is anytime to play it!
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!!
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.
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’.
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.
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.
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!
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?
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.
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.
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.
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!!
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.
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.
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!
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.
Extra Pics from Our Cruise!
Farewell Carnival Fantasy-Sweet Tea Gals Enjoyed Crusin’ With You!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
That’s our handy tips for enjoying a cruise and Sweet Tea Gals hope y’all have a great time crusin’!!