MSC Divina Review Part 2

Continued from: MSC Divina Part 1 After checking out the room, I decided it was time to see some more of this beautiful ship.  Other guests were still boarding so I used this opportunity to wander around without a ton of people being in the way. Deck 5  Pantheon Theater The Pantheon Theater was very large and quite pretty.  The seats were very comfy and arranged so that every seat in the house is a good seat.  My personal favorite was the front row and if you want to sit up front arrive early because the shows do fill up.  The stage shows on the Divina were amazing and truly not to be missed.  All of the performers are incredibly talented and each night offered something completely different than the previous. Deck 6 Casino Honestly, I did not spend much time in the casino area.  This was my assigned muster station and other than the mandatory drill after embarkation, I was only here to pass thru.  The area is very nicely decorated and has all the normal casino games.  The casino always seemed busy when I would pass thru and I do have to say that walking down the central casino staircase is enough to make any girl feel like someone special.                       Piazza del Doge Piazza del Doge has cute little shops with a seating area in the center of the room.  There is a gelato and dessert bar here (these are not included with the cruise price but are reasonably priced.)  Quite often, there was something happening in this area…a sale being feature by the shops or a musical performance…great place to sit and watch the world walk by. Deck 7 La Luna Piano Bar I have to say this wasn’t really my kind of piano bar.  I was kind of hoping for a dueling piano bar setup…you know more of the sing along and make new friends kind of place.  This area did have a lot of plush, comfy couches, but the color is kind of blah…kind of a purple-mauve color… Golden Jazz Bar Pretty quiet place during the day but once the sun went down this was a very popular place to hang out, hear some music and talk with good friends. Sports Bar The sports bar on the Divina is a pretty nifty place to hang out.  They always have lots of TVs and always have sports showing.  I figured this bar would be very busy and much to my surprise it was one of the quietest places on the ship.  I went here for free happy hour drinks and had the place to myself.  The sports bar also has a small 2 lane bowling alley and a super cool Vespa on display! Caffe Italia This coffee bar is centrally located at the top level of the atrium and right beside the beautiful Swarovski staircases.  They have delicious coffees available (for an additional fee) and they are worth it.  With …

Urban Wine Walk – May 16 2015

Not sure if you have seen the weather report for this weekend, but it is going to be beautiful outside!  Still looking for a great way to spend the afternoon. Do you like wine and having fun?  Can you walk, skip, hop or find some other way to get from one place to another?  Then join your fellow winos this weekend for the 5th annual Urban Wine Walk in downtown Phoenix on May 16th from 1-6pm. Here’s the deal…Show up between 1 and 6pm at any of the locations listed below and you can purchase a sample of the wines listed for $2-3 each and have a little snack to go with it.  You can go to one place or them all, it is your choice.  It really is that simple.  For the full experience, you can head over to Cityscape Residences and line up to be one of the first 300 people and get a free commemorative wine glass.   CITYSCAPE RESIDENCES 11 S Central Ave Phoenix, Arizona 85004 602-368-6200     Participating Restaurants: DOWNTOWN DeSoto Cafe Market Samples [$3 ea.] Castillo de Monseran Garnacha Dry Creek – Chenin Blanc Poema Cava – Rose Snack: TBD Short Leash Sit…Stay Samples [$3 ea.] Stronghold Tazi – White Blend District 7 – Pinot Noir TBD Snack: Sausage Meatballs or Pimento Cheese Dip Carly’s Bistro Samples [$2 ea.] Avalon Winery – Cabernet Sauvignon Alberti 154 – Malbec Il Donato – Pinot Grigio Snack: Mediterranean Artichoke Bruschetta Paz Taqueria y Cantina Samples [$2 ea.] New Age Wine & Fresh Lime – Tincho Piattelli – Malbec Premium Purple Paradise Paso Robles – Red Blend Snack: Spicy Salsa & House Chips FilmBar Samples [$2 ea.] Bodini – Malbec Shebang! Cuvee – Red Blend Shebang! Cuvee II – White Wine Snack: Popcorn Downtown Public House Samples [$3 ea.] Coppola Diamond Claret – Cabernet Pascual Toso – Malbec Il Donato – Pinot Grigio Snack: Bavarian Pretzel Phoenix Public Market Cafe Samples [$3 ea.] House Cabernet House Rose House Chardonnay Snack: Chips & Salsa Brick Urban Kitchen Samples [$3 ea.] Snap Dragon – Pinot Noir Benvolio – Pinot Grigio Souverain North Coast – Red Blend Snack: Flatbread District American Kitchen & Wine Bar Samples [$3 ea.] Arizona Angel – Sauvignon Blanc Fetzer Crimson – Pinot Noir Cellar No. 8 – Merlot Snack: Bacon Wrapped Dates Steve’s Greenhouse Grill Samples [$2 ea.] Michael David – Chardonnay Castle Rock – Pinot Noir Hess Select – Cabernet Snack: Rosemary Garlic Parmesan Focaccia Bread with Fresh Tomato Sauce ICON Lounge: Renaissance Phoenix Downtown Hotel Samples [$3 ea.] SIP – Moscato Casa Lapostolle – Sauvignon Blanc Aquinas – Cabernet Sauvignon Snack: Lamb Lengua Tostadas Tom’s Tavern & 1929 Grill  Samples [$3 ea.] Napa Cellars – Chardonnay Napa Cellars – Pinot Noir Ca’Momi – Red Blend Snack: TBD The Urban Italian Strand Samples [$3 ea.] Summer Sangria – White The Strand’s Signature Sangria – Red Coto De Hayas Tempranillo – Cabernet Blend Snack: Caprese Bruschetta The Arrogant Butcher Samples [$3 ea.] Santa Cristina – Pinot Grigio Ruta 22 – Malbec …

Captain Marvin Grand Cayman Snorkeling Adventure

Do you wanna pet a stingray?  How about having dozens of them surrounding you in their natural habitat just waiting for your attention? Even better maybe you wanna pucker up and give one a smooch for good luck? Captain Marvin in Grand Cayman will show you the best location for all of these! If you look at any tourist guide for what to do in Grand Cayman, a visit to Stingray City is one of the top activities not to be missed things to do while visiting Grand Cayman.  Don’t be fooled though, it is not an actual city on land and is only accessible by boat.  It is very easy to find a tour company that will do a couple hour trip out to the sandbar that is known as Stingray City. The sandbar is located about 2 miles from the shore in Grand Cayman’s North Sound and the water is only around 3 feet deep.

Xrail All terrain Buggy to Jade Cavern Cozumel

Getting Our All Terrain Buggy Looking at an All terrain Buggy Tour in Cozumel thru the Carnival Shore excursions desk?  We did too. With a bit more research I found an excursion called Xrails to Jade Caverns.  An Xrail is similar to a dune buggy/go kart and drives like a normal car with a steering wheel and gas/brake pedals.  Be prepared to use a little muscle when driving…they do not have power steering! Your trip starts with you getting the proper safety gear and getting strapped into your Xrail.  The quads go first because they are faster and get out of the way pretty quickly. After this starting point, I don’t think I saw these guys again. With the quads out of the way, we were finally able to start the trip to Jade Cavern.  The road is bumpy and muddy.  Here is the biggest piece of advice I can give you: Whatever you wear on this trip be prepared to throw it away when you are done!  Everything that you wear is going to be very muddy and very smelly.  Anything you really want to keep you can wash the smell out  but I have some clothes and water shoes that the mud actually stained. The Xrail driving time to the cavern was about 30 mins.  Everyone stays together in a long line with a guide in front and behind so no one gets lost…just follow the leader!  Some of the trails are very muddy and wet while other parts are dry as a bone.  You go through some open areas where you can see a bit of the scenery and then you go into the jungle where you cannot see anything except the vegetation surrounding you. Arriving at Jade Cavern you get a little break with some bottled water available.  You also receive a life vest and a little info about the cavern.  The water looks kinda murky.  The guide shows how the water is actually clear and that it just doesn’t get light so it looks murky.  The smell is terrible (kind of like rotten egg) and they tell you it is sulfur and also give a reminder to not drink the water, they have parasites in the water that we are not use to and you will become ill. There is a pathway to walk down to the waters edge or for the more adventurous you can take the high road…and jump off a cliff into the cenote.  Of course, I took the high road!  The jump isn’t super high, but it was about 10-15 feet which is still pretty high. You get some time to swim around and see the stalactites on the ceiling of the cavern.  Oh, the cavern is also home to many, MANY bats.  During the day, they are all asleep and just hanging out, but it is still very interesting to see. After a little swim, it is time to start heading back.  You take the same path back as you did going into …

Packing For A Cruise: 10 Things You Need

Yes yes I know I know…we all know about packing the proper clothing and toiletries…yes sunscreen and flip flops too.  What about the little things that you would need that you wouldn’t even think of.  You know the little things that will make your life a little easier while you are trying to enjoy your vacation.  Here is a list of 10 things you need to pack for a cruise.  Power Strip – In your cabin you will probably only have a few limited spaces to plug in and recharge your items.  Having a power strip with you will allow you more space.  I have found that the only power outlet in the cabin will be in the desk area. Insulated Tumbler – There are always cups provided for getting drinks, but they are a lot smaller than a tumbler.  I like having my own tumbler for around the ship. Insulated Coffee Mug – Same as the regular drinking glasses, coffee cups are available but an insulated mug will hold more coffee and stay piping hot while you spend your morning roaming the decks or watching the world sail by. Mini Flashlight – Always a great idea to have a little flashlight available in case of an emergency you can see your way or just to not stub your toe on your way to the bathroom at night. A stack of $1 Bills – Room Service is included, but it is always a good idea to have some $1 bills available for a tip. Also don’t forget to tip your bartenders…they remember their good customers and will take care of you.  😉 Small Waterproof Sack – Nothing is worse than hanging out on the pool deck and getting water dripping all over things tat should be kept dry.  This handy little sack will help prevent your stuff from being ruined. 7. Suction Cup Hooks – In the shower there is a small clothes line to hang swimsuits from, but I have found for two of us it really isn’t quite enough room…These little hooks give you additional drying space. Wine – Don’t forget to bring the wine!  Most (if not all) cruise lines let you bring at least 1 bottle of wine (750ml) per adult.  Don’t forget to bring your bottles onboard to enjoy! Portable Charging Brick – A portable power brick that will let you charge any device via USB.  I have found that I can fully charge about 3-4 iPhones before I run out of recharging power.  very handy to just throw int he bag when you are on the go.  Battery Operated Fan with Adapter – I like moving air while I sleep at night.  Just a personal preference, but I alway have to have a little battery powered fan while I am cruising.

Is Cruising Right For Me?

I have to admit that the first time I considered taking a cruise, I was apprehensive.  I am not a person that is a big fan of being in a crowd.  I imagined a cruise ship as a place where several thousand people are crowded together for seven days, with no potential for escape.  I am glad to say that I tried it anyway and found that a lot of my preconceived notions were wrong.  The idea for this post came from discussions I had with friends, describing my experience with cruising.

5 Things Not to Miss in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

Old San Juan is a beautiful city that has many historical sites to visit.  Blue cobblestone streets and fortresses make you feel as though you have taken a step back into history.  The people and the food only add to the magic of this historic city.  Aside from the obvious fortresses and beaches, here is a list of 5 things that you must see in Old San Juan. 1. Cathedral of San Juan Bautista San Juan Cathedral a massive church that is located in the center of town.  Originally constructed in 1521, it has been rebuilt multiple times due to hurricanes and pirates.  The current building was finished in 1917.  The exterior of the building is quite unremarkable and plain but in the interior is incredible. 2. Tomb of Juan Ponce de León Spanish explorer and seeker of the fountain of youth, Juan Ponce de León is buried at the Cathedral of San Juan Bautista.  Just inside the main cathedral and to the left is the tomb with a lovely statue depicting a woman drinking from a fountain.  3. La Rogativa A seaside statue paying tribute to the women of the city, along with the bishop, who paraded through the streets at night singing hymns, carrying torches, and bells. The British mistook this as evidence that reinforcements that had arrived to protect San Juan.  4. La Casa Estrecha (The Narrow House) Who wouldn’t want to take a peek at one of the narrowest houses in the world… La Casa Estrecha was originally an alleyway before being built.  It is about 5 feet wide, goes back 36 feet and is two stories tall.  I have heard that this will someday be turned into an art museum. Address: 101 Calle Tetuan  5. Paseo de la Princesa Paseo de la Princesa is located on the south side of Old San Juan near Plaza de Hostos and Plaza Darcenas. This is a beautiful tree lined area to walk through and quite often there are performances and food vendors present.  We found one evening that there was a craft fair set up for some local shopping. Like this Post?  PIN IT!  

MSC Divina Review Part 1

When I booked our trip on the MSC Divina I had never even heard of them.  After looking at photos of their ship I was really excited to see it for myself.  Everything looked very nicely decorated and I read some wonderful reviews.  The trip started really rocky…it was October 2014 and I was flying on Spirit Airlines from Phoenix to Miami the night before the cruise on a red eye flight.  After arriving at the airport, I found out that there was a massive line of storms going across Texas and all the airports were shut down temporarily.  Shortly after that I started hearing that the airline might possibly cancel the flight and re-book people for the next day.  Not normally a problem but this time it really was…Spirit has very few flights to Miami and the flight the next day would get me to Miami way to close to the boat departure time.  After a little last minute scrambling, I finally found an alternate option that luckily I did not end up needing.  With the flights finally sorted I was on my way to Miami…late but still arriving way before boarding time. Arriving at the port I found that Miami finally finished work on the new tunnel that takes you right into the cruise terminal instead of having to navigate the downtown area.  It was super convenient!  The shuttle dropped me off right at the cruise terminal building and I went in to get checked in.  Cruise terminal felt small compared to some of the other terminals but it was nice and they had some fruit flavored water dispensers available.  I stood in line for a while waiting to get checked in, but I was too excited to mind.  One thing I noticed while standing there was that a lot of the people around me held foreign passports.  Turns out that MSC is very well known to European travelers.  After I finally made it through the line I was directed up an escalator and I went straightaway to board the ship.  No waiting for a group to be called to board…I think I liked this way better. The lobby atrium was one of the first things I saw after boarding the ship.  It was spectacular!  Not to mention the Swarovski encrusted staircases..WOWZA!  I read that each stair costs about $3000 and there are about 100 stairs on these staircases.  They are beautiful to see in person and a photo doesn’t really do them justice!  Everything was super shiny and sparkling with lots of seating around for passengers to sit and relax and just take it all in. The colors and patterns of the decor were all very warm and inviting… nothing gaudy or tacky about this boat.  On the ground floor of the atrium, there is a piano that quite frequently had a piano player or one of the highly trained singers performing.  MSC definitely felt like a step up in the world of cruising. After seeing the staircase and …