Cruise Day

I had every intention of having my first blog post completed and ready for your viewing pleasure, but was having some technical difficulties all day yesterday and this morning.  I don’t know what the problem was, but it seems to be resolved now and I’m happy to begin sharing pictures and details about our 7-Night cruise adventure.

Let me begin by saying, our cruise was nice.  I can’t say it was fantastic, although there were certainly some fantastic moments.  Hubby and I did spend the week comparing our cruise from last year, to this year and I’ll share some of those thoughts with you along the way.

We had driven from our home in the DFW area to Houston where we picked up a friend and her daughter who were joining us on the cruise.  After a night in a hotel, we drove into Galveston and parked at Discount Cruise Parking.

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It was very reasonably priced for the week and the staff were very friendly and helpful.  They helped unload our luggage onto a cart while we waited for the shuttle to arrive.

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Lili with Hedwig the Owl.  She calls him her cruise buddy since he has now gone on two cruises with her.
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Naomi didn’t want her picture taken.  Notice the flamingo shoes she picked out for the cruise.  They were quite a match to her anchor pants and shirt.
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They say everything is bigger in Texas.  That includes the flip-flops.

We only waited a few minutes for the shuttle to arrive and it was a short drive from there to our cruise port.

And there she is . . . . . Liberty of the Seas!!

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The photographer was trying to quickly take a photo of the ship.  Obviously, she didn’t do a good job getting the camera straight for the shot 🙂

It was a little cooler than I would have liked and although you can’t see it here, it did get a bit cloudy by sail time.  Overall, I would say it was a pretty good day weather-wise.

A friend and her daughter joined us on this cruise.  I was so happy and excited they were able to take a vacation with us.  They are still in Illinois and with us now in Texas, we don’t get to see each other very often.  Now we had the chance to spend a week together sailing the ocean blue.  But first we had to board the ship.

Our first stop at port was security.  We were hoping for a much better experience from last year in Ft. Lauderdale, where there was virtually no organization and everyone was unsuccessfully trying to figure out where the lines were.  Instead, we all followed the people in front of us,  but with so many different lines of people, everyone was jockeying for position.  It was not fun at all.  In Galveston, everything was very well-organized and we moved along smoothly and pretty quickly considering there hundreds of people in front of us.  In all, it took maybe 30 minutes.

After security, we moved on to check-in where we had to present our passports (I.D.) and get our Sea Pass cards.  The Sea Pass cards become our identification, room key and credit card while on board.  It is also mandatory that security scans all Sea Pass cards when getting off and back on the ship at each port of call.  No need to carry anything but the Sea Pass card while on the ship.  It’s really quite nice.

By noon, we were on board and in the Windjammer for lunch.  The Windjammer is Royal Caribbean’s buffet dining.  Like all the other cruises, it was packed full of hungry and excited cruisers, so finding a place to sit was a bit challenging.  Thankfully, we found a group who was just getting ready to leave, so hubby and one of the staff stalked the table for us while we headed off to fill our plates.

We were just finishing lunch when they announced that all staterooms were ready, so we headed out to find our rooms.

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This is a shot from our balcony into the room.  We got a balcony room for the first time last year and won’t ever go back to an inside or outside stateroom.  Each evening, our stateroom attendant would come in while we were at dinner and pull out the sofa, which converts to a bed.  That is where the girls slept each night.  The room had plenty of room in the closet and drawers to store all our clothing for the week.

Ours was on Deck 10 and in a really good location.  Just a short walk down the hallway and one flight of stairs up to the Windjammer and the pool deck.  It was only two flights of stairs up to Adventure Ocean, which was our next stop.

Adventure Ocean, which we commonly refer to as the “Kid’s Club” is Royal Caribbean’s program for kids.  It is broken down by age group, however, since we tend to sail during the school year (thanks to homeschooling), they typically combine the 6 – 8 yr olds with the 9 – 11 yr olds.  They work hard to make it a fun-filled place for kids to enjoy their own cruise experience, away from their parents and the girls were looking forward to spending some time in Adventure Ocean.

After filling out the necessary paperwork for Adventure Ocean, we went to check out the pool area and wait for the ship to sail.

Liberty of the Seas is an older ship that recently went thru renovations.  Part of those renovations were adding in water slides and a splash park for the kids.

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The splash park had smaller water slides for younger kids.  Larger water slides for older kids and adults were at the other end of the ship.

We were really impressed and looking forward to spending many hours over the upcoming week enjoying our time in and around the pool.

Before we knew it, we were leaving port and heading out to sea.

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The girls were ready and anxious to try out the pool, but they did want to see us sail away first.

The girls didn’t spend much time watching us sail off before they were ready to start the real fun of their cruise.

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She is letting me know that the water is pretty cold. 

 

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The hot tub is much more up Naomi’s ally and hubby’s too.  Neither of them handle cold water well at all.  By this point, Lili also needed to warm up

By 6:00, we were dried off, dressed and heading to the Main Dining Room for dinner.  Last year, hubby and I weren’t pleased with our dining room experience.  Primarily, we weren’t impressed with our server, but it didn’t take us long to realize that this time around we would be enjoying a scrumptious dinner in the dining room every evening.

The girls were anxious to go to Adventure Ocean, so we dropped them off after dinner and enjoyed a little kid-free time on the ship before we all turned in for the night.

Our cruise day was done, we were tired, happy and looking forward to a good night’s sleep before our first full day at sea.

 

 

 

 

 

More Cruise Photos

I finally got the photo situation resolved.

Here are more pictures from our cruise.

Our Little Mermaid
Our Little Mermaid

 

Approaching our Dolphin Encounter excursion at Blue Lagoon in the Bahamas.
Approaching our Dolphin Encounter excursion at Blue Lagoon in the Bahamas.

 

This is Cacique. We were able to get in the water with him. It was an awesome experience.
This is Cacique. We were able to get in the water with him. It was an awesome experience.
I love the towel origami our state room attendant left for us.
I love the towel origami our state-room attendant left for us.

 

More towel origami.
More towel origami.

 

Okay, I am a bit obsessed with the towel origami.
Okay, I am a bit obsessed with the towel origami.
Naomi really wanted to get her picture taken next to this car. It was parked on the ship.
Naomi really wanted to get her picture taken next to this car. It was parked on the ship.

 

Royal Caribbean has a program for the kids called Adventure Ocean. The girls loved it and one day they decorated bandanas and did a Pirate Parade. Naomi was in character.
Royal Caribbean has a program for the kids called Adventure Ocean. The girls loved it and one day they decorated bandanas and did a Pirate Parade. Naomi was in character.

 

Hubby forgot about the time difference and his alarm ended up going off much earlier than we needed to rise. Even though we were all tired, Lili was happy to give me smiles.
Hubby forgot about the time difference and his alarm ended up going off much earlier than we needed to rise. Even though we were all tired, Lili was happy to give me smiles.

 

Perfect princess chairs.
Perfect princess chairs.
Some of the cruises on Royal Caribbean have DreamWorks characters. So we did a character breakfast one morning. This was on the wall in the dining room. Each state is made from license plates in that state.
Some of the cruises on Royal Caribbean have DreamWorks characters. So we did a character breakfast one morning. This was on the wall in the dining room. Each state is made from license plates in that state.
The menu from our character breakfast.
The menu from our character breakfast.
Gloria joined the World of Weeks for a photo op.
Gloria joined the World of Weeks for a photo-op.

 

And Alex joined us for a photo op.
And Alex joined us for a photo-op.

 

King Julian needed to get in on the action.
King Julian needed to get in on the action.

 

Later that day we caught up with Mort on the Boardwalk.
Later that day we caught up with Mort on the Boardwalk.

 

Tableside Junkboxes. So fun!
Tableside Jukeboxes. So fun!

 

What's better than a Rootbeer Float? Sharing a Rootbeer Float.
What’s better than a root beer float? Sharing a root beer float.

 

Then getting up to dance with some of the crew at Johnny Rockets.
Then getting up to dance with some of the crew at Johnny Rockets.

 

My beautiful girls in Central Park on Allure of the Seas.
My beautiful girls in Central Park on Allure of the Seas.

 

Snorkling at St. Thomas
Snorkling at St. Thomas

 

Once Lili got the hang of it, she was all about snorkeling.
Once Lili got the hang of it, she was all about snorkeling.
Like I said, she loved snorkeling.
Like I said, she loved snorkeling.
Naomi was all about looking for shells.
Naomi was all about looking for shells.
There's our ship.
There’s our ship.
Daddy and daughter.
Daddy and daughter.
Our last stop before heading back to the U.S.
Our last stop before heading back to the U.S.

 

Hubby and I bought new wedding rings. After all, this was a 30-yr anniversary cruise, so why not get new wedding rings.
Hubby and I bought new wedding rings. After all, this was a 30-yr anniversary cruise, so why not get new wedding rings.
Even with the clouds, St. Maarten was beautiful.
Even with the clouds, St. Maarten was beautiful.

 

Our St. Maarten lunch spot. The girls stayed on board enjoying time in Adventure Ocean while hubby and I spent our day together.
Our St. Maarten lunch spot. The girls stayed on board enjoying time in Adventure Ocean while hubby and I spent our day together.

 

Great name for a restaurant.
Great name for a restaurant.
Look at all those ships! We were on Allure of the Seas. She was the largest of them all.
Look at all those ships! We were on Allure of the Seas. She was the largest of them all.
Pirate ship!
Pirate ship!
Lili and her cupcake creation.
Lili and her cupcake creation.
Naomi and her cupcake creation.
Naomi and her cupcake creation.
Hubby was imitating the way his octopus looked on his cupcake.
Hubby was imitating the way his octopus looked on his cupcake.

 

My cupcake creation.
My cupcake creation.

 

These are just a few highlights from our cruise.  Hope you enjoyed them.

Souvenirs

We recently returned from a trip to Dallas where we visited family, did some shopping and went boating.  We had a wonderful time, but the souvenirs we brought home SUCK!

Instead of picking up magnets, post cards or coffee mugs we picked up a flu bug.  Unfortunately, it was spreading during our trip.  In fact, we cut our trip short by a day and a half, but it didn’t preclude that little bugger from joining our travels home.

First Naomi got sick on the drive home.

Last night it hit hubby and Lili.

Now I’m braced for it to hit the rest of us while hoping that somehow we have dodged the bullet.

Eventually I’ll get back to my blog on a more regular basis, but for now I’ll leave you with this.

Georgette and the Great Southeast Adventure – Part 9 & 10

We were in for a looonnngggg drive after leaving the Greensboro Campground, but we didn’t know just how beautiful of a drive lay before us.

Our trip took us north thru North Carolina, into Virginia, West Virginia and on into Ohio.

The drive was absolutely spectacular.  One of the most scenic drives I’ve ever been on, but I have no pictures to share because I was driving.  For a matter-of-fact, once I got comfortable behind the wheel of Georgette, hubby planted himself in the passenger seat and hasn’t driven since.  Yes folks, I really do have control issues, but hubby also enjoys being the passenger more than the driver.

Next time we make that drive, I’m going to make every effort to stop and take pictures along the way.  The Great Smoky Mountains and the Appalachians are breathtaking and we were fortunate to have taken two different routes that allowed us to see both.  Although, I think the Smokies are part of the Appalachian mountain range.  Guess it’s time for us to do a little geography lesson on U.S. mountain ranges 🙂

We stopped in Dayton, OH for the night at the Dayton KOA.  We got there in time for hubby and the 3 oldest to go for a swim while I stayed back to get things ready for our evening.

Although I didn’t get out to explore the campground, I’m told by hubby and Lili, that it is an awesome campground and we need to go back to visit for more than just a night.  I don’t think it will happen this year, but it sounds like we’ll be putting it on our campground list for next year.  Unfortunately, because I didn’t get out to explore, I didn’t get pictures again.  Plus, two of our dogs were having tummy problems which meant I was making more that usual trips outside with them.

Sadly, on Day 10 we headed home and as we pulled into the driveway I felt a little rush of sadness.  I suppose the end of a good vacation always brings about tinges of sadness, but having spent 10 days with Georgette felt more like saying good-bye to a good friend.  Silly I know.  Especially since she sits in our driveway 🙂

Our Great Southeast Adventure had it’s fair share of challenges.  Since we don’t have perfect children . . . .  let me rephrase  . . .  since we have perfectly normal children, there was bickering, arguing and fighting from time-to-time.  Hubby and I weren’t always on our best behavior every moment either.  FS1, while appearing to have a good time on our trip, was also out-of-sorts which was stressful and yet somewhat expected.

However, despite those little stumbles along the way, we built lovely memories on our trip and in many ways we can thank Georgette.

I also learned a lot from our adventure.

– Thanks to hubby, I think I can now set everything up on my own at campsites.

– Getting from place to place in an RV just takes longer.  While we certainly saw many RV’s flying down the interstate, we kept Georgette at recommended speed limits for safety.   Allowing ourselves more time and enjoying the sites along the way will make future trips much more enjoyable.

– Traveling as a family of six with that much room is much more comfortable than sitting in a vehicle while driving across 8 states (9 if you count crossing into South Carolina several different times on this trip).

It’s really is nice being able to stop for the night without unloading luggage only to load it again the next morning.  I suppose one could argue that you still have to do some set up for the night, but an overnight stop set up is minimal and probably takes less time than hauling luggage back and forth.  Although the girls do enjoy riding on hotel luggage carts 🙂  They probably consider that the downside of RV travel.

– Being able to take our dogs with us has its own set of challenges, but is better than trying to find someone to watch them or boarding them while we’re gone.  Plus, they really like going.

– Having our own beds to sleep in each night is NICE!!!!

– I really should use a set up and tear down checklist.  I know I forgot to strap the refrigerator/freezer doors at least twice on this trip.  Oops!!!!

Of everything I learned, the most prevalent was coming away from this trip with a greater understanding of how much better our lives would be if we lived smaller.  Smaller house, less stuff = more time to enjoy life.  As such, I have once again begun throwing things away and clearing out the junk in our lives.

I must admit, it’s hard.  One cannot spend this many years accumulating things they want or ‘might need one day’ and easily begin tossing without the hold habits surfacing.  And they surface often, but I’m working on it.

So thank you Georgette!  You carried us across 9 states and helped to make this trip a wonderful adventure!!

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Georgette and the Great Southeast Adventure – Part 7 & 8

Our time at Camp Wilderness was done, we were packed and on the road again.  This time our stop was the Greensboro Campground in Greensboro, NC.

The campground was clean and simple, but sat right off the interstate.  While there was certainly traffic noise, it wasn’t as noticeable as I expected it would be.  The single biggest downside in my book was the size of the sites.  They were quite small and I was constantly telling the kids to get off the site next to ours.  You really couldn’t take many steps at all before you were in your neighbor’s site.

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Our friends lived a few minutes away and during the two days we were there, they came out both days to spend time with us.  It was WONDERFUL!!!!!

This stop was probably the most relaxing as we stuck around the campground visiting.  The kids did a little swimming, we played games, took dogs for walks, played games and ate very well.

The weather was nice and there was a family in a site across from ours with kids which helped keep my kids entertained and vice versa.

Another memorable stop on our Great Southeast Adventure!

 

Georgette and the Great Southeast Adventure – Part 5

We woke up to another beautiful day and it was clear that we would be spending the majority of our day at the campground.  There was swimming to be done, but the bigger reason was LAUNDRY!  The amount of laundry six people can accumulate in 5 days is amazing.  All that laundry in approximately 300 square feet is crazy.  So I headed out in   search of the campground laundry facilities.  I walked thru the campground, over the parking lot, past the pool and found the laundry room.  Boy was I glad we still had the rental vehicle!   I had two full laundry bags that needed attention and they were heavy.  It would not have been fun dragging them to the laundry room.  It was also in that moment I decided I would invest in a collapsible wagon.

I’m quite sure there are more RV trips in our future that will require doing some laundry. Having something to haul those heavy bags in seems like a good investment and as I was doing laundry I began to think of other uses for this wagon – carrying small children, carrying pool towels and toys, loading and unloading the RV at home.  The ideas just kept coming.

But enough about my need/want/desire for a folding wagon.

After some time at the pool and with clean laundry put away, we decided to grab some dinner and pick up some needed grocery items.

We found a Mexican restaurant not too far from the campground –  La Poblanita.  It got some high ratings and having eaten there, I would agree that rating is well deserved.  Even being short staffed, they provided good service and the food was awesome!

I didn’t get many pictures of our day.  After all, no one wants to see our dirty laundry 🙂  However, I did take some pictures during dinner.

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I love this picture of Lili, although she was very uncomfortable smiling and had been uncomfortable for a few days.  She had two canker sores in her mouth which caused her lips to swell quite a bit.  This made eating and drinking quite difficult.  She had never had such bad canker sores before and I felt terrible for her.  Fortunately, they started getting better the next day.

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Naomi and hubby!  She is quite a cuddle bug and especially loves cuddling with her daddy.

Our day was done and while it wasn’t necessarily an exciting day, I found myself enjoying the RV more and more each day.  Yes, Georgette got a bit crowded with 6 people and 3 dogs, but she was comfortable and cozy.  She felt like home and I went to bed loving our traveling home.

Georgette and the Great Southeast Adventure – Part 3

On Day 3 of our adventure we ate breakfast, dressed cool for hot weather and headed out for a day at Carowinds theme park.

We had taken Lili and Naomi to Disneyland several years ago, but being so young, Naomi remembers nothing of the trip and Lili has only vague memories.  This would be their first memorable theme park visit and we were all looking forward to the day ahead.

The park was not far at all from the campground.  For a matter-of-fact, we had a view of the park from our camp space.

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However, the entrance was just over a mile away.  Instead of walking, we took advantage of the shuttle service offered to those staying at the campground.

What I didn’t realize about Carowinds until shortly before our visit there, is the fact it is built on the North Carolina and South Carolina state lines.  So as we walked into the park, we stepped one foot in North Carolina and one foot in South Carolina.

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Staying at the campground also allowed us to enter the park 30 minutes prior to opening to the general public.  This allowed hubby an opportunity to ride the Fury 325.

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For a matter-of-fact, when entering the park, you walk under this roller coaster and after watching it, I was absolutely convinced that I would NOT be on the Fury 325 at any point during our visit.

If you want to get a better idea of what this roller coaster is like, feel free to watch this . . . .

We had a thrilling morning at the park.

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Lili got to experience her first big roller coaster ride.

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We took a break for some Dippin Dots.

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Enjoyed some rides in Planet Snoopy.

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And with the heat index in the 100’s, we decided to head back to the campground for a cool down, some lunch and naps before heading back to the park for an evening of more rides and souvenirs.

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As we returned to the campground, Georgette awaited us with refreshing showers and soft beds for the night.

It was a good day!!!

 

Georgette and the Great Southeast Adventure – Part 1

I had a wonderful plan in place.

First, I would take a lot of pictures along the way.  Then, after the kids were in bed, I would post about each day’s adventure.

It really was a wonderful plan, but I took far fewer photos than I had hoped and none of the campgrounds had great Wi-Fi.

For now, Georgette now sits in the driveway, recovering from her Great Southeast Adventure.  I’ve spent the week getting laundry done and preparing for our weekend away.  This time a closer-to-home adventure, but I wanted to at least share Day 1 of Georgette’s Great Southeast Adventure with you.  After all, I’m sure you’ve all been checking in daily hoping to read the exciting story 🙂

Wait no more . . . . .

We were loading the last of our supplies shortly before 6 a.m. and by 6:15 the kids were buckled in their seats and the dogs were in their travel crates when hubby took his place behind the wheel.  He turned the key and Georgette’s engine began to purr.  She doesn’t have a quiet, gentle purr.  Instead, she purrs loudly letting us know she’s ready to travel.  Hubby raised the levelers while I did a final walk-around to make sure all basement compartments were closed and locked, then made my way to the end of the driveway.  My job was to make sure there were no vehicles coming and then direct hubby out into the street.

With Georgette safely backed out of the driveway, I took my place in the passenger seat and we headed toward the highway.   This is when we discovered a problem.

Georgette’s generator wouldn’t start.

Georgette has air-conditioning in the cab, but it’s not enough to cool the living quarters and that is where the kids and dogs were riding.  If they were going to stay cool on the trip, we needed generator power while on the road and we didn’t have that.  Had Georgette let us down so early in the trip?  Since we would be traveling thru 90+ degree temperature, this truly was a problem that needed to be solved.  We had to make a stop to fill the fridge and that would give hubby a chance to check the fuses.  This would be an easy fix and if it didn’t solve the problem, we weren’t sure what we would do.

While I quickly wheeled the cart thru the grocery store picking up fruits, veggies and lunch food for the road, hubby was checking fuses and trying to get the generator running.

I returned, opened Georgette’s door only to discover her generator still wasn’t working.  What would we do?

Obviously, the next step was pulling out the Owner’s Manual.  Within a few seconds I discovered the problem wasn’t Georgette or her generator.  It was inquisitive FS2 who had turned a switch to the Off position when we weren’t looking.  Once it was turned back on, the generator started right up and we made our way to the Interstate and headed east.

We drove for a few hours looking at field after field of corn and soybeans.  Farms, towns and small cities were scattered about, but overall, it was a view we saw every time we left our small town for any destination within the Central Illinois area.

Finally, we got to Indianapolis and Georgette took us in a southward direction to Kentucky.  Finally, a change of scenery.  The flatlands were replaced with hills, which got bigger and bigger the further south we travelled.  The corn and soybeans fields disappeared and were replaced with rocks and trees.  Suddenly, our trip was much more visually appealing and we enjoyed looking out over the beautiful landscape.

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Georgette had been used to driving over the flatlands of Illinois and we didn’t know how she would handle the hills.  She revved her engine and pulled her way up each hill then cruised down the other side.  Any concerns we had disappeared as she tacked each hill beautifully.

By dinnertime, we were pulling into our camp space at the Renfro Valley KOA.  The kids were excited to get out and burn off some energy in the pool.  I also realized just how nice it was to have Georgette.  It took us (primarily hubby) just a few minutes to level her, plug-in the power, get us hooked up to water and put out the slides.  Since our clothes were already in drawers and closets, there was no need to unload suitcases and cart them to a hotel room for the night.  We were soon dressed into our swimsuits and making our way to the pool for a splashing good time.

After the pool, we got something to eat and then took the kids to the playground for a little while before we all settled in for a good’s night sleep.  After all, we had another full day of travel ahead and we needed rest.

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