I have never started a review so soon, but this will be a very special cruise, and I want to do it right. For the next couple of days, I will chart my routine for getting ready for the cruise. I will then give a day to day account of the cruise itself.
It will be long, because I am southern, and we do not learn to say what we want in three words.
I hope to include as much info as possible, even down to the smallest detail, so that someone new to the board can use it to go by and to make their cruise more enjoyable.
Please remember, just because you are not going on the Conquest, doesn't mean this the info will not work for you. Some info works for all ships, no matter the size.
Also, please don't tell me during my cruise, to get off the computer and have fun. I love to write, and this is very enjoyable for me.
Also, if you are looking for a complainer, you are on the wrong thread. I very seldom complain about my cruise. I book knowing that I am one lucky person to be doing this kind of travel. I count my blessings everyday.
I have had many e-mails from some of you saying how good I was in helping you with your cruise, so let me tell you a secret. Yesterday was the anniversary of our first cruise. Not 20 years, or 10 but 2. Yes, two years ago we started cruising. Okay, so this is my 5th cruise in two years, but in May of 05 I was like many of you. I had more questions than you will ever have. I didn't even like watching the Love Boat in the 70's. I was clueless, like I am sure some of you feel now. I read everything. I had never been to a web site, and I sure have never asked questions to total strangers, so all of it was new.
Okay, let's get started. The cast of characters in this story are Luanne, Jim, Joe, Josh.
I am a substitute teacher in a small town in Texas. I quit my full time job in the 80's when I made a deal with God. I told him that if he would override what the doctors had told me about not being able to have babies, I would stay at home and raise them. He stuck with his part, and so I stuck to mine. I went back to work when they started school. I only wanted sub work, because if you don't have a teacher in your family, you don't know that they work sometimes 10 and 12 hours a day. I wanted to be here, mind and spirit for my babies.
Jim is the love of my life. He means the world to me. He was active duty military for 24 years. When he decided 3 years ago to retire, I was both scared and relieved. No more travel, no more giving him up, to an organization. I was going to be #1 in his life. Just before he retired, he came home and reassured me that he had a new job.......... with the military. WHAT? Sure enough, he was right back at it again. Of course the pay is better, but I am still #2. The military will always be the love of his life, and I accept that.
Josh, is my first miracle baby. He is smart and shy, and a mothers dream child. Always helpful, sweet, caring, and respectful. He is in his second year of college, on a full ride. We are lucky to have a university close by, so he is still at home with us. He has wanted to be in law enforcement since he was three, so that is his goal.
Joe, was my second miracle child. He is funny, smart, talented, and he and I think he will be a star one of these days. If he is not a star to the world, he will always be my star. He was conceived before my 6 weeks check up with Josh. So, I have two babies born the same year. After he was born, we thanked God, but asked for no more. Okay, now you know who everyone is.
We are 6 days away from our cruise, so I need to get out our list, and also make my cruise grocery list. I will post my lists later.
Until then, welcome aboard the Conquest.... final voyage......
I can't wait for the Travelogue. This way we can enjoy your cruise with you. I know you will have a blast.
Gary & Rox "554 CES Red Horse" "USAF" Fantasy 2-96 Glory Western 2-07 Ecstasy 01-08 Ecstasy Feb. 1st. & Feb. 6th. 2010 B to B Freedom 12-12-10 Freedom 09-24-11 Triumph 09-10-12 Triumph 09-15-12 Triumph 09-23-13 Triumph 09-28-13
Luanne..are you "bucking" to take over Kuki and Paul's or Dave the Wave's role (VBG) ?
For the sake of your male counterparts..when you get to the part about picking out which clothes you are going to pack, can you put a disclaimer in your header...ditto for the romance part when your husband takes you out on the balcony and throws you (oops I don't want to spoil it for everyone) (VBG)
I think this is a great idea that you are sharing especially for the many lurkers who are getting ready for their first cruise and are not inclined to post questions..
Are you posting pictures also ? Who am I going to tease while you are away ? I hope you only allocate 5 minutes per day to post while you are cruising....you should not take away time from your "other" family
When is your next cruise after this one and on which ship ?
a request..could you ask Jim to try a Blueberry White Russian for me and report back how it taste (see my posting of the same on the Chit Chat board)..if he likes it, ask him to ask the bartender to share the receipe with Carnival's HDQ so they can have it on all Carnival ships and then I will select them for my next cruise (VBG)
Okay, Let me thank some of you, and shake my finger at Venice.
Thanks to all of you who have responded. It's nice to know that people care to read what you write.
Venice, I do not think of myself with having Kuki or Paul's job. I Did that on another site once, and the people were great who posted, but the behind the scenes were a pain. I do like to think that I make a difference in the happiness of Cruisemates.
Okay, Let's get started on what I have done to get ready for our cruise.
I worked very hard to get the house ready for us to leave. I always empty the frig, because we tend to have storms this time of year, so I don't want to loose power, and then have lots of science experiments in there. It is kind of fun, because I grew up with the meat, potato, yellow veggie, green veggie, etc. When I am cleaning out we get all kinds of combinations You haven't lived until you have hot dogs with corn on the cob. When we cruise in the winter, I make a big pot of homemade veggie soup, and throw everything in there.
I also printed out our list, of things to do. I have to redo some of it, because things have changed since the last cruise, but I can touch on some of it here.
Police Watch on your house. How many think of this before you travel? Do you realize that the police have forms for you to fill out, that will put a special watch on your house. Josh has to go and get the form, and then we have to figure out what to say. Here, they want to know how many cars in the driveway, what lights will be on. What is locked. When will we be leaving? When will we be coming home, etc. You get the idea. There is also a form on the back of the form we fill out, for the police to check, and record every hour 24/7 that our house was checked.
Funny story. The first time we cruised, we did this, but came home late, and went straight to bed. About 1 hour later we were wide awake, because the police were on there way in to arrest us. Every since then we stop by the PD on our way home to let them know. So check with your local police to see if they offer this service.
Also, Remember to stop the paper, and have the Post Office hold your mail. Here we have a special program where instead of the newspapers going to waste, they will donate them to the local schools for current events in the classroom.
I also sat down and e-mailed all the companies I will deal with on our cruise. This time we are going to do all of our excursions with other companies besides Carnival. The only one we are doing with them, is Jamaica I e-mailed to re-confirm our plans and give them a chance to tell me if there is a problem, before we get there. After that, I printed everything out. Gone are the days where a man's word was all you needed.
We also did our clothes shopping today. Mine came in the mail, Jim did his during lunch and the boys did theirs on there own. We never shop together. This is one way the boys have been allowed some freedom. I most of the time, don't know what they have picked out until we cruise. It has always worked out good, except when Joe bought a tee shirt that said, "Give me a beer, and something necked." He was 16. Needless to say he never wore it, and I still have it. (I plan to give it to him when he is 30)
Okay, I have given you something to think about!! More later
Luanne..I'll shake my finger back at you-I was" getting your goat !!(I am not afraid of you (VBG)..I remember what happen before.
Once again, your detailed preparation of getting ready for a cruise shows the fundamental difference between an organized spouse (very detailed oriented) and most last minute husbands/BF(myself included)..I just tell my neighbor about 2 days before that I am leaving on a cruise (she's trained, she takes care of all the stuff that you are describing) and the night before I throw everything into my suitcase and stay up all night and leave the next morning. No stress (of course I have my cruise bag packed and reloaded 3 days after returning from my prior cruise- I just purchase one new outfit and sneakers)
Well today is T minus 5 days and counting. I ran into a problem that I know about, and try to avoid. I thought to much of the cruise. I get bubble headed when I think to much, about the cruise itself. When I get this way, all I want to do is sit and think about all things cruising. You feel the excitement building, and then you get nothing done. For those of you who have cruised, you know what I am talking about. For those who have not cruised, it will be worse, because you have yet to learn the power of the force.
Let me tell you how I came about this booking. We had been on two other Conquest sailings, and thought seriously about moving on to flying to a port for the next one, but I wanted one more shot at the Conquest, because there were a few excursions we had not done yet. Our first three cruises was with the Guarantee thing. It was not until the third one of those that we got a less than desirable room, and from then on I have picked our rooms, or the TA has, with my approval. There is nothing wrong with the Guarantee thing, and in fact will save you money, but I know more now about the ships, so I feel more comfortable picking myself.
This room I have picked this time, is something I can't talk about yet. You will understand why when we get on the ship. But, I will tell you that I counted the doors from our cabin to the laundry room. Yes, I do wash clothes on the ship. I know when the quiet times are, and to me, there is nothing like having clean things, plus it keeps us from packing to much. It was also picked for the closeness to the elevators, and stairs. I also know what is above us, and below. Another thing I looked out for is the location of Joe, and Josh's room. With the Guarantee thing, they were not always close by, and sometimes not even on the same floor, but the last time, I got spooked, because they were not even in our Muster area. This time they are within sight of our room. Why not across the hall from us? because if they are that close, I get the mommy thing going, and I hear every sound. Is that them coming in? Do you hear anyone with them.
I trust my kids to be as safe as they can. I never gave them rules and said if you don't follow them you will be grounded, but told them that if they didn't follow, they might be dead. That seemed to work. They are pretty good about checking in to see how we are doing. We run into each other on the ship. If we are lucky, we eat in the dinning room together some. Joe is my party animal. He is usually the life of the party, and often gets invited to eat with some young girls parents on formal night. Instead of getting all bent out of shape, I am proud of him for being so nice that they would want him, as a dinner guest. Joe also took over the teen club this last time. There were close to 300 teens on the cruise, and all were sitting around doing nothing. He got the music started, and had everyone dancing and singing. The rest of the cruise, when you would see him, you would see tons of others following. He also has a tradition of buying a cheap cowboy straw hat to take on the ship. They all take turns wearing it, and the lucky teen at the end of the cruise takes it home with them. So, if you have been on the Conquest, and your teen pictures have everyone wearing the same hat, it was Joe's. I in fact met one of the teen moms on the last day of the cruise. Her son was the lucky take home of the hat. She told me how good Joe was, and how he was quick to tell someone that drinking was bad, or don't horse around like that, because someone might get hurt. All of this proves that even teens can have fun on cruise ships.
Another thing I want to touch on is insurance. Cruise insurance is very important to all of you, even if you don't realize it. The most common excuse is "I can't afford insurance" What I say is you can't afford to not have it. Let me tell you about a couple I met on one of the ships. They were young and in good health, and didn't think young people needed insurance. They man,(about 30) fell down the stairs, when he simply missed a step. He broke his leg. He was taken to the doctor on the ship, which by the way will charge you. They were unable to set his leg without surgery, so a helicopter was called. Once he got on land, he was taken to a local hospital, and surgery was done. Guess what his bill was? 210,000 dollars. Guess how much his insurance would have cost? 110.00.
He now realizes he could afford the insurance, but had to learn the hard way. So, if you have not purchased insurance, do so. It will be worth it, if something happens.
Well, I have things to do. All of you take care, and if you have questions up to this point, please ask.
I just read the beginning of your travelogue. You are too funny! I will look forward to my daily doses of "Luanne's Life at Sea." Keep it coming.
We are all going to enjoy your cruise even if we are still on land!
Your sons seem life fine young men. They are obviously going to have a
fantastic time. I am glad you all can be together.
Yes, two years ago we started cruising. Okay, so this is my 5th cruise in two years, but in May of 05 I was like many of you.
Luanne, I am quite surprised to hear that you have only been cruising for 2 years. My first cruise was Dec. 2005, on the Conquest, but unfortunately I have not been able to go on any since then. But soon ---
Anyway, I just wanted to say that I have read many of your post and others on this board and I appreciate them all. I can't wait to hear about your cruise and anyone else's for that matter. It is what keeps me going. So keep it up, I hanging on to every word!
This is something that I have improved on each cruise. I have been reading all of you talk about financial planning for a cruise, so let me tell you what I do.
When I book our cruise, I have included into the price, the tips. All you have to do is ask, and they will add them. I still have the ability to have them removed, but at least I have taken care of the expense. If you do not add them, they will be added to your bill on the ship. Remember, the whole idea is to not have so much to pay for once you are on the ship.
The next thing I do, is start looking for those excursions. I absolutely love researching those. If I have a few months before final payment, then I spread out over that time, the purchase of excursions. I pay for those using either a credit card that allows me points for motels, or has cash back. More about that later. A big misconception is that once you pay for an excursion on Carnival, you can't change your mind. That isn't true. I change my mind all the time. Another misconception is that if you miss ports, you loose your money. Not true either.
I hear people every once in awhile say they will wait until they get on the ship, to book excursions. I have never been given a good excuse for doing this. Let me tell you why it is good to do it at home.
Unless you have 20 kids all drinking Foo Foo drinks, and waiting to use the computer, you can do your deciding at home. No one is making you feel rushed, no one is leaning over your shoulder asking if the elevators on the ship go up and down or sideways. (That is a true question someone once asked) My point is that you have the convenience of doing it at home, talking to your traveling companions, and yes, changing your mind later.
If you wait until you get on board, you have to wait, put up with those around you, and do without, because someone has already booked all the available seats on the thing you want to see or do.
Ask yourself, why wait?
Something I have learned since my last cruise, is how to pay for my on board expenses before I get there.
Go to the Carnival web site. Put in your pass word and go to Fun Ship Dollars. Click on there, and buy what you think you will spend on your cruise. If you don't have the money for all of what you think you will need, then buy a few at a time. They will ask for your booking # plus your address. In the box where it says address, put your booking # where it says city, state, put your cabin number and the words "On Board Credit" Within an hour I had an e-mail confirming the amount, plus that it was applied to my account. I printed it out, and will take it with me. I know it worked, because when I received my doc's it said the amount of on board credit. I will still secure my credit card when I check in, in case I go over the amount, but for the most part I have taken care of another expense. Now the reason the Carnival site doesn't say how to do it already, is because cruise web sites are faster than Carnival. The computer is set up to process it, but the directions are not.
Now remember I said I would tell you the trick about using the credit card? I used mine and made enough credits to get my motel free pre-cruise. So, by spending money, I let someone else pay for my room. pretty smart huh?
awwwwwwwwww right! I am so happy you are going to be doing another virtual cruise for us!! I will say that I almost fell out of my chair when I saw how little time you have been cruising. I thought you had been cruising for years! Thanks for all of your posts. I can't wait to read these each day because, since I have never cruised before, you have answered so many of my questions before I could even ask them.
BTW, I do have a question and I am embarrased to ask it but, what the heck is a FOO FOO drink? One of the other cruisemates told us to ask for them without the booze in them since we don't drink and that they were really good, but I didn't want to ask what it was, but now.....what the heck is it?
Also, looks like God gave you your gifts (kids) in quick order didn't HE? He never half does anything!
Luanne -you are smart in your planning. Plus another reason for booking an excursion on the Carnival website before you go . We paid $35 per person for an excursion on the website a month before we sailed. When we got on board the same excursion was $50 per person. I don't know if this happens with every excursion, but we were sure happy we booked ahead of time
We are T minus 4 days and counting. Cathy, to answer your question, I would not do this until I had a room number. I would just feel safer. In the meantime, save up the money, you plan to put on account.
Okay, Today is me day. I am going to take the time to do a little shopping, get my hair cut, and that sort of thing. I never wait until the last minute for me time, because the closer you get to your cruise, the more stressed out you become, especially if you are the planner in the family.
What I would like to do is talk about the spas on board.
Going to the spa on a ship, should never be a must do, but something you have budgeted for. It is very expensive if you are watching your dollars, but there are sales that you can watch out for. I will tell you that I have never been to the spa. So I guess we could move along. I will tell you that this is a great question you could ask on the site here, and I am sure you will get lots of responses, both good and bad.
Yesterday I felt like was a very productive day. I now have our traveling money (cash) I have the forms from the post office, and the PD, and a few grocery items I always take with us. If you have read my virtual cruise, you will know that I am a big believer in zip lock bags. They make things so much easier on the ship. I also use highlighters to make the things we want to do, each day. Jim gets the orange, and I get the yellow.
I also found the cutest candles. Remember candles on the ship is a no no, so these are battery operated. It makes the candle look like it is flickering, when turned on. They are in heart shapes. Can I get an OHHHHHHH? lol Hey, Jim has been in Iraq for most of the year, so we have some catching up to do. (Venice, If you are reading, yes I am taking the candle to the balcony as well.)
I received an e-mail from my TA. She checked into my request to see if we qualified for a new discount that has come up on one of our rooms. At first she told me it was to late to apply, but when I told her that others in my roll call had applied and received, she had no choice but to try. Good news.... we have 200.00 more applied to our OBC or On board credit.
That brings up something else. These cruise boards are very valuable to you and your cruise. If you don't know something, then how will you know to ask? It's not just fun and games here boys and girls. It sometimes means real money.
I asked yesterday, on the boards, if you used a TA (Travel agent) or Carnival to book your cruise. I asked for two reasons. One is to keep the board running, with new and exciting answers, but also because you get valuable info on what is best. I have always used a TA, but I am seriously thinking of trying to book through Carnival this next time. I would love to have a good PVP. (Personal Vacation Planner)
Well, Time to get started on my day. I will try to add more tonight. Until then, keep dreaming of that cruise.
I am looking forward to your review of the Conquest. My family and I are sailing 10/07/07. This will be our first time on the Conquest.
I too pack a first aid kit. Just a tip for anyone who would also like to pack one, always keep every medication in it's original container. If it is possible buy the separate samples that are individually wrapped. This way you never have to explain anything.
Another tip is, if you have no idea what to put in the first aid kit, look at the contents of a ready to buy first aid kit. It may cost more to put one together, but you can personalize it to fit your needs. Plus you will always have a good kit that can be used at home.
Royal Caribbean Enchantment of The Seas -2004 Carnival - Fantasy 11-13-06
Carnival Conquest 10-05-08
Celebrity Equinox 4/01/2011
Another Tip on Shore Excursions: Luanne you may have covered this in another post. If you have not booked your Carnival Shore Excursion by the time you get on board, there is another option. If you do not want to stand in a long line at the Shore Tour Desk, you can order your tours through the "Fun Vision" interactive Cabin TV. It seems like there was a Tour sheet in our cabin when we arrived. However, if it is not there, you can pick one up on a stand near the Shore Tour desk--no need to stand in line for the tour sheets. That way you can book in the privacy of your cabin. It will show your confimed order, and the tickets will be delivered to you. Sometimes, they are put in the mail slot outside your cabin door and other times, I've had the cabin steward put them on the desk. They usually arrive the day before the excursion. We have done
this on the last few cruises with no problems.
I cancelled one tour on the last cruise the day before it was scheduled.
We did cancel in person not through the interactive TV. We expected Carnival would charge us a 25 percent cancellation fee, but they did give us a 100 percent refund.
Woke up to the following e-mail. Thought it was a nice touch.
All of us at InsureMyTrip.com wish you a safe and enjoyable trip. Exceptional
service to our customers is paramount to our success. Please keep us in
mind for your next trip. As you know, no other Internet company provides
our depth of travel insurance coverages or comparison features.
If you need assistance or have to file a claim while on your trip, please contact
AIG Travel Guard using the telephone numbers that were included in
your order confirmation email.
If you have any other questions please let us know. We look forward to serving
you again on your next trip.
Thank you and Bon Voyage!
I like the feel of having insurance. It's a lot like having a chair behind you, in case you have to sit down real quick.
Today I get the final stuff organized. Unlike some people, I don't actually start packing, until the last day. I hate having suitcases laying around.
We are now T minus 2 days to go. It sure is starting to feel real now. Even if this is my 5th cruise, I still get those butterflies in my stomach. I look back at all the planning I have done, and all the hours spent, and I still wonder if I did everything.
As I look around, I see all these suitcases. It doesnt matter how hard I try, it still seems like we take to much.
Today the dogs go to doggy jail. That will give me a chance to vacuum one good time before we leave. It is always saying good by to them, but they really are taken good care of.
Jim is all packed, I have a ways to go, but boys have not even started. This is another way for them to feel independent. I let them do it, even though I want to go, and get it done.
I watched the Conquest pull into Cozumel this morning. Just think, when she comes into Galveston next, I will get on her.