7 Best Updates on Carnival Vista

7 Best Updates on Carnival Vista

Not much longer now!  That’s right we only have a handful of days left until the Carnival Vista welcomes her first guest on board!  As of right now she has finished all of the sea trials and the crew should be on board getting everything ready!  May 1st will be the first sailing and she will continue to travel around the Mediterranean until later in 2016 when she makes her way across the Atlantic to the US. It’s been a few years since the Carnival Breeze started sailing and I have no doubt in my mind that this one will be better than the last!  We are booked on one of the first sailings, so keep an eye out for that!  I am really excited to get over to Europe and see her for myself, but for now, Carnival pics will have to do!  With that in mind, I decided to do a preview post of a few of the new and improved features that I am most excited to see! Red Frog Pub  Red Frog Pub is not a new feature to Carnival but the Vista will have something a little special that we have not seen before…the 1st American brewery at sea. Yes you heard me right…they are going to be brewing beer on the cruise ship! Cruisers will be able to see the brew tanks on board, get the house made beer at the regular bar and pour their own beers through special tabletop beer taps.  Here are the beers that are to be brewed on board.  Cheers! ThirstyFrog Port Hoppin’ IPA – aromatic, floral and hoppy notes with passion fruit and citrus overtones ThirstyFrog Caribbean Wheat – unfiltered lager with aromas of bananas and spices FriskyFrog Java Stout – Carnival Vista’s take on a traditional stout, rich and creamy with hints of coffee IMAX Theater SkyRide Skyride is a peddle-powered roller coaster car that goes around the ropes course on the top deck.  The ride is 800 feet long and 150 feet above the water and can get going up to 25mph. Hope you’re not afraid of heights!  I am pretty interested to see this in person and I am not afraid of heights so it should be lots of fun! Kaleid-O-Slide At a dizzying 455 feet long this slide features visual effects along with twists and turns.  This will be the cruise line’s first water raft ride.  I’m kind of interested in seeing how they plan to get the rafts back up to the top once people are done at the bottom of the slide… Havana Pool Palm trees, thatched huts, hot tubs, colorful umbrellas, comfy seating, and the best view on the ship.  Sound like paradise?  I’m pretty sure this might be a possibility!  There is also the Havana Bar that will authentic Cuban food and drinks. Atrium A new kind of atrium will be found on the Carnival Vista.  It will feature a multi-deck funnel-shaped LED screen and visuals to help set the mood.  So far, I have seen a varieties …

TSA PreCheck Locations & What You Might Not Know

Complete Guide to TSA PreCheck Locations & What You Might Not Know

(UPDATED AS OF AUGUST 4 2018) You did it! You signed up for TSA PreCheck, went through the application, got the conditional approval and went to the nearest TSA PreCheck Locations for the final interview. Now you are ready to book a flight somewhere awesome! You have your suitcase packed, your trip all booked and it is time to go! But wait, you are sitting at the airport looking at your boarding pass only to find that there is no TSA PreCheck listed on your pass. What the heck!! Turns out the TSA PreCheck program has a little more going on than you may have realized… PreCheck is currently available at 200+ airports. The good news is that most people will be flying out of a major airport and will most likely have the TSA PreCheck lines. Keep in mind TSA PreCheck locations are only at US airports and territories. The program currently allows approved flyers on the following airlines to use the TSA Precheck lines (some of these may not be at every airport).

Lamanai – Seeing the Submerged Crocodile

Lamanai – Seeing the Submerged Crocodile

  When I found out we were going to Belize, I knew that the one thing I wanted to see the ancient Mayan ruins of Lamanai. For this trip we were coming in on Royal Caribbean’s Navigator of the Seas so our time in Belize was pretty limited. The day before arriving in Belize we were in Cozumel being lazy on a beach at Mr Sanchos …so we were ready for so adventure! Ok, so here is where the planning got real…Belize requires a tender boat to get from cruise ship to the shore, then about an hour and a half bus ride from the cruise terminal to the River Safari boat launch, then about and hour and a half boat ride until you finally reach Lamanai. Then you do it all in reverse, but the return boat trip is not quite as long. Seeing that we were coming in on a cruise ship and were planning to head deep into the country, we decided it was probably best to book this directly thru Royal Caribbean to eliminate being left if there was any kind of delay! The bus ride thru the city and the countryside outside of Belize city was pretty miserable.  It was a very old charter bus (sorry no working restroom on board) and the AC was out as well…well mostly anyway.  The tour guides did have a lot of information about Belize, the culture, the people and anything else you could want to know about the country.  The roads are also pretty bumpy along the way so be prepared. The New River Safari boat launch is actually a pretty nice little place. There is a large building (with bathrooms!) with a gift shop, seating area for lunch later in the day, lots of pretty landscaping and a nice view of the New River.  After a few minutes, you are put onto a boat with all the people you were just on the bus with.  It is a pretty large boat holding probably about 20-30 people.  During the long boat ride, you will get to see lots of animals along the way…we saw a monkey, an iguana and a few different types of birds! Arriving at Lamanai you are taken to a small “village” kind of area with more gift shops and a restroom.  After a short break, your group will reassemble and start the walking tour thru the ruins.  The guide that has been with you all day will tell you all about the history of the ruins.  The pathways thru Lamanai are pretty easy to navigate for the most part but it may be difficult for some people with mobility issues.  All in all, we saw three temple ruins and were able to “climb” the tallest of the three.  By climb I mean we took stairs most of the way up but were able to physically climb the last 15-20 stairs to the peak.  Either way fantastic climb and view from the top of the world!  In …

Flying on the Cheap: Spirit Airlines Edit

Flying on the Cheap: Spirit Airlines

Everyone loves a good deal.  Unfortunately, with airfare that usually isn’t the case as airfare can quite often be very expensive. Yuck…  Fortunately, we are seeing more and more “low cost” carrier becoming part of the mainstream air industry and even flying out of the larger city airports.  Here in Phoenix, our big low-cost carrier (aside from Southwest) is Spirit Airlines.  Spirit has received a lot of really mixed reviews, ranging from the absolute best to the absolute worst. (Although I guess even the large airlines get the same treatment.) Here are the ways you can get the best price on Spirit Airlines! Go to the Airport and Book Your Flight Booking online includes “Passenger Usage Fee” that is between $8.99 and $16.99 each way.  If you head to the airport and book directly with a ticketing agent you can save $17.98 to 33.98 per person roundtrip.  That is a pretty substantial saving right there!!  Think you can avoid going to the airport by calling Spirit Customer Service?  Sorry…if you book your trip by phone there is $10 Reservation Center Booking fee. Pack Light The checked baggage weight limits for Spirit Airlines are a little lower than the industry standard of 50lbs.  With Spirit, you can have up to 40lbs in your checked bag and it must be under 62″ combined length.  If you are planning to have a “carry-on” bag, the dimensions can be at the most 22 x 18 x10 inches including handles and wheels.  To get the best price you need to be able to pack everything into your “personal item” which can have a maximum dimension of 16 x 14 x 12 inches including handles and wheels…sounds impossible but it can be done!  I got my bag at Costco and it meets the criteria of a personal item!  here is what it looks like: Pay Your Baggage Fees Early If you know you are going to be checking a bag (and most of us are) then pay for it up front…as you can see from the chart below…baggage will get more expensive the longer wait.  Here is a link to Spirit Airlines baggage page. Just Say Yes to Online Check-In Make sure you check-in for your flight online!  If you wait and do it at the airport you will have to wait in line and also pay an additional $10 fee per boarding pass. Just Say No to Advanced Seat Assignments Also, when you check in online you will be given your seat assignment.  Sorry, you can only change the assigned seat they give you if you bite the bullet and pay the fee.  If you are flying with someone else and are on the same reservation then you will be seated together.  If you are flying with someone and are not on the same reservation, you will be ok…read a book, sleep or chat up the person next to you and make a new friend. Flying A Lot?  Check Out the $9 Fare Club If you are …

Glasgow Cathedral & The Necropolis

When we decided to travel to Scotland, I knew that one of the places I wanted to visit (nearly top of the list) was the Glasgow Cathedral and Necropolis.  We actually ended up going out of our way to visit, but it was worth it.  When I saw pictures of the Glasgow Cathedral, my first thought was that it is the picture-perfect, stereotypical gothic church.  From the outside you see many tall spires, tons of stained glass and just an architecturally beautiful church.  It is very easy to see why it made the list. Arriving in the city was very easy, we came in by car and the freeway system was easy to navigate.  There were many signs that helped direct us right into town and directly to the cathedral.  We were able to locate a parking garage called the Duke Street Car Park that was not far off the freeway and was a short walk to the cathedral. Entrance to the cathedral was free at the time of our visit and donations to the church are always accepted, but not required.  You should be able to visit any day of the week but you will need to check the current times on the churches website:  Visiting Glasgow Cathedral     The inside of the church is just as incredible as the outside.  You first enter into the Nave of Glasgow Cathedral, this is a large open area that leads to the main altar.  When passing from the Nave to the main altar, you can also head downstairs, under the church to visit the crypt and see the Shine of St. Mungo.  It is much cooler in the area as you are under the church, kind of gives a creepy feeling but it is an area not to be missed. The Necropolis After leaving the cathedral, we headed over to Church Lane which takes you thru the large entrance to the Necropolis. We probably wandered around for about an hour or so looking at the many ornate memorials.  Some were very simple being just a headstone and other were quite large and extravagant, seeming to be the size of a small building.  It was a cloudy dreary day when we visited, which kind of fit the tone of the Necropolis.            Like this post?  PIN IT!

Specialty Dining on Navigator of the Seas Edit

Specialty Dining on Navigator of the Seas

We can all agree that cruise lines have some amazing food.  All you can eat buffets, main dining rooms that will knock your socks off and smaller cafes to pick up snacks in between your meals; these are all pretty standard places to eat on a cruise ship and are available for no extra charge.  Pretty sweet deal if you ask me, but what about all the specialty restaurants that you hear about…the specialty restaurants that are not included.  Are they really worth the extra cost?  Is the food really that much more spectacular that you would be willing to pay an extra fee per person for a single meal? During our last cruise on Royal Caribbean’s Navigator of the Seas, we took the time to check out a few of the restaurants and see what all the fuss was about. Izumi Izumi is a specialty sushi restaurant that is located on the 14th deck and offers incredible views of the world passing by while you enjoy your meal.  We decided to take the sushi class that was offered on one of the sea days.  The class will set you back $25 per person but considering the amount of food that you get and that you get the knowledge of how to prepare some of the most popular rolls…I think it was worth it.  We had a lot of fun and left completely stuffed!    Sabor Sabor is a specialty mexican restaurant that doesn’t feel like a mexican restaurant.  Contemporary and bold colors on the walls and a darker, intimate dining area that makes Sabor feel like you are in an upscale restaurant in a downtown environment instead of the middle of the ocean.  The restaurant was only open on certain days for lunch and dinner.  It is strongly advised to make a reservation or you may miss out.  Separate from lunch or dinner, Sabor offers a guacamole class that is during lunchtime on at least one of the sea days.  I thought we would get to make our own guacamole…I was wrong.  Instead, you sit at a table and listen to someone talk about the history of the guacamole and how it is made. You get to eat the guacamole (which is amazing!!) and also get some other food.  We also got a small history lesson around the various types of tequila and how it is made.  All in all, it was a fun time and really great food.    The guacamole class was so good that we had to get a reservation to try out their dinner menu and see what else they had to offer.  I am glad we took the opportunity because they didn’t disappoint for dinner either.  They make the guacamole table side and even have a table side margarita bar.     Giovanni’s Table Giovanni’s Table is located on the 11th deck next to the WindJammer Cafe.  Amazing food and amazing views…best advice is to come hungry and listen to suggestions from your waitstaff.  Our waitress …

5 Incredible Christmas Gifts for Travelers

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…ok well most wonderful may be a bit of a stretch but I do enjoy it quite a bit.  Especially since I live in the desert, it is nice that the weather cools down and we are able to enjoy being outside.  Not to mention all the food we eat and the different holidays/festivities that seem to take place every other week.  You also get to see the best (and unfortunately also the worst) in people. With Christmas Day fast approaching the top question now is, “What do you want for Christmas?”  Ugh…I never really know what to ask for.  Anything I want I always just buy for myself, but what fun is that on Christmas morning to not have anything under the tree.  So here we go…here is what’s on my Christmas list (and also some good gift ideas for the traveller in your life!)