Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Cruising and Valuable Lessons Learned

I'm back from my 3-night cruise on the Carnival Fascination from Miami, FL to Nassau, Bahamas.

Here are a few things I learned this weekend:

- I will not go on another Carnival cruise

- I will cruise again, only this time on one of the ships I originally wanted to go on, a Royal Caribbean Voyager class ship.

- Cruising alone is not much fun unless you are Pamela Anderson and really outgoing, neither of which describes me. I will take someone with me on any future cruises, even if I have to kidnap someone.

- Green Iguanas spit when it's mating season and you are trying to get a picture from too close up, but... it's not poison spit.

- I will not return to the Bahamas on a cruise.

- I will only return to the Bahamas if it's to stay at Atlantis. It looks very cool and very good for kids too.

So, as you can see the cruise was a valuable learning experience. It was good for the most part. Not particularly exciting though. There's not a lot to do on that ship besides eating and drinking. Neither of those really appeals to me. The food is not good enough to eat constantly. The drinks were also weak and too sweet. The bed was nice, very cozy sheets. The room was small, but not too bad. The biggest problem was that the public places smelled like urine. I'm serious. It was really gross. That's definately why I will not go on another Carnival cruise ship again. They are old and they obviously don't care much about keeping them up. The lack of things to do is also a big problem. They have a lot of cheesy games and activities planned. LOTS of bingo.

Saturday was the day in Nassau. It's not that great. Really not my style. Very geared towards shopping. The only thing I got was a present for Sarah which I can't talk about here yet cause she hasn't seen it yet. I'll tell everyone about it once she's seen it. I hope she likes it.

Saturday started out with my massage. It was decent. It was a massage and facial combo. The facial part was much nicer. She didn't seem to know what she was doing really with the massage. I will probably not get a massage on a ship again. There are much better ways to spend money on a good boat. Then I headed off to the island. It was around noon, so I didn't want to head to the beach yet and get burnt. I found lunch at Twin Brothers. It wasn't very good, it was expensive and the waitress forgot about me. After that I walked over to the Ardastra Gardens and Zoo. That was cool. They had some interesting animals. I was trying to get a picture of this huge iguana's head. I couldn't get the camera to focus right. The iguana got sick of me being that close and spit on me. Seriously, it was funny. He shook his head a couple times, geared up and spit at me.

After that adventure I walked back and tried to make my way to the beach on Paradise Island. FYI, if you want to get to PI quickly, don't take the ferry unless you get there just as they are about to leave. A taxi would be much quicker. They sit around until the boat is overloaded with people before they leave. Once I managed to get to PI it was a whole other thing trying to find the beach. I managed to end up on the Atlantis property. That was a big whoops! I don't think I was supposed to be there. But no one seemed to notice that I didn't have a bracelet on. It's a very cool looking hotel. They have great looking pools and water slides and seperate pools for different ages. It's great. I would really like to go back. It will definately be on the option list for a honeymoon, if one ever happens. :)

Anyway... I finally found the beach and most of it was private Atlantis beach. Once I walked really far down the uncomfortable-to-walk-on white sand beach I found the public beach. I also found a guy renting out jet skis. He coerced me into renting one for a half hour. Luckily I didn't have enough money on me so he rented it to me for $40 instead of the list price of $60. That was actually A LOT of fun. Jet skiing on the ocean is quite a bit different from jet skiing on the Schuylkill.

After that I was totally soaked, so I had to get back to the ship to change. I was going to walk all the way back but then I saw that they were loading up one last ferry. So I ran down to chatch it. The captain was a total jerk to me because I had some sand on my bag. He was whining about getting the ship dirty. Stupid ferry guys. Once I got back to the ship I got a shower and got changed to go find some dinner. That proved far more difficult than I had expected. The area near the docks shuts down in the evening. Nothing was open except Senor Frogs. But the food there turned out to be pretty good. It was Mexican. I had tortilla soup and veggie fajitas. It was good. I also got a completely non-alcoholic iced tea, which came in a big plastic souvenir cup. On the way back to the ship I emptied the melted ice down a rain water drain. From behind me some guy yells "Hey, that's alcohol abuse, I saw that!" I yelled back that it was just water abuse and ended up walking back to the boats with he and his friend. They were on the Carnival Celebration though, not my ship. The other problem was that the cute one was married. Oh well. So, I just went back to my boat and watched Mr. and Mrs. Smith.

Sunday I slept in late, which was great. I went and got lunch and had a great conversation with a couple from Chicago about other cruises and vacations and such. The wife was telling me that there was definately a lot more to do on Royal Caribbean cruises than on the Carnival cruises. She thinks that I would enjoy a Royal Caribbean cruise a lot more. I think so too. Since it was my birthday I decided to do a little shopping after lunch. Everything on the ship is duty free and also discounted (supposedly) from US retail prices. Most of the stuff I agree on the discounted part, but I'm not so sure about the alcohol. It didn't seem that much cheaper to me. But, I also don't buy much alcohol, so maybe I'm wrong. Anyway, I looked around and found a very pretty Hot Diamonds necklace for myself. Hot Diamonds is a company that puts very very tiny little diamonds into sterling silver jewelry. I like it a lot and it's pretty inexpensive. My necklace was only $78. It was a lovely present purchased with the ship board credit that my mom gave me. I took a picture of it on me that I'll probably put up on Flickr.

Not much else happened on Sunday. The Steelers won the AFC Championship, so that's very exciting. GO STEELERS!!! Hey, at least they are still from PA. The Eagles aren't worth rooting for at this point. I watched Bewitched, which was eh. Dinner was also eh. They brought out Baked Alaska for dessert, which was terrible, and then they wouldn't take orders for dessert from the regular menu until they got done with this horrible cheesy dance number. I almost got up and walked away, but I had to get the taste of the Baked Alaska out of mouth. After that I walked around the deck, took some pictures and then went to bed. I had to get up really early so that I could get into the Early Bird line to get off the boat. If you could carry your own luggage you could get off the boat at 7:00am. Otherwise you had to wait until after 8:30am and after your tag color was called. Since I was in the basement of the ship basically, I figured it'd be a while till my number got called. My luggage wasn't that hard to handle, I hadn't taken much. So, I just got up at 6:00am and got off early. I was back at my dad's house by noon on Monday, so it worked out well.

Today I just relaxed around the house, did laundry, and now I'm going to go pack up. I'm heading back to Philly tomorrow for hopefully a week or two. When exactly tomorrow I leave is entirely dependent on the Adelphia cable guy. We've been having problems here at Turk's house with the cable going in and out. It'll go out for hours at a time, which is a big pain in the neck, especially if Turk is trying to work from home. We've tried several different things, including getting a new modem, none of which have helped. So, tomorrow comes the cable guy, hopefully he can figure something out. Hopefully he also comes really early in the morning so I can head out nice and early. Wish me luck!

Friday, January 20, 2006

On a Boat

Yes indeed, I am on my cruise. Yes, it's only 6:45pm and I have already made my way to the internet cafe. So far not off to a thrilling start, but I'm looking forward to things getting better this evening, I hope. I also scheduled a massage for tomorrow morning, so that will be really nice. Then it's off to hang out on lovely Nassau, Bahamas for the day. I'll keep you posted. I bought a 30 minute internet cafe pack.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

New Adventures all around!

Well, I know I haven't updated in a bit. That's because things were pretty boring and frustrating and annoying for a while down here. The truck ended up needing parts that are taking a while to order and it's just making me nuts. I really appreciate that my dad is putting so much effort into making the truck ready to go for me. It's a really awesome birthday present. But, it delayed my travel back to Philly and changed my birthday plans again. But that turned out really well anyway, so it's pretty much all good in the end.

I'm going on a cruise after all. Three night cruise to the Bahamas on the Carnival Fascination. I'm really looking forward to it. It should be really nice. I will definately update either from the ship or as soon as I get back and let you all know how it goes.

On another completely FABULOUS note.... one of my absolute favorite people in the world called me today and told me that she asked her girlfriend to marry her. I am SO HAPPY for both of them. They are so happy together and so perfect. I am so so so happy for my friend (who's name I will mention if she gives me permission). She deserves this happiness so much!

So, that's the new adventure news for today. I'll try and keep you posted as my adventures progress.

Friday, January 06, 2006


I need ideas! Or a cruise buddy. I'm trying to figure out what to do for my birthday, which for those of you that don't know or don't remember is January 22. It's my 25th birthday. I want to do something cool. I wanted to go on a cruise, but I can't find anyone to go with me. The cruise I want to do is January 29-February 5, Royal Caribbean Western Caribbean cruise on the Explorer of the Seas (one of the big ships with the ice skating and rock wall and mini-golf). It stops in Belize City, Belize; Costa Maya, Mexico; Cozumel, Mexico; and Georgetown, Grand Cayman, all starting and ending in Miami, FL. If anyone seriously wants to go with me, let me know. I'm sure there are many that would love to go, but can't.

But, that's besides the point. Seriously, I'm asking for suggestions. Any thoughts as to what I should do for my big quarter century? Did any of you out there reading that have already passed this number do anything big for your 25th? I was thinking about maybe learning how to snowboard. Any thoughts on that? Feel free to either leave me a comment, or just email me.

Other than stressing trying to figure out what to do for my birthday, there's nothing really going on here. I'm taking the truck to get fixed/looked at next week. After that, I have no clue.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

The year in interesting questions... or stealing great ideas from Sarah

I stole this off of Sarah, but it was interesting. I'm curious to see what my own answers will end up being to some of these questions.

1. What did you do in 2005 that you'd never done before? Quit my job without having another job to go to.

2. Did you keep your New Years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year? I don't really do resolutions, never have. I think I've always known I wouldn't be any good at sticking to them.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth? Stacey, one of my very cool quasi co-workers. I've also known Carin (Sarah's cousin) for practically as long as I've known Sarah, though not as well certainly, so that sorta counts too. Oh, and Jen just barely made it into 2005, giving birth on Dec. 29.

4. Did anyone close to you die? My father's half brother died, but the last time I'd seen him I think I was about 18 months old, so we weren't close emotionally and I didn't go to his funeral. Other than that I can't think of anyone. Definately didn't go to any funerals, thankfully. God willing, 2006 will be the same.

5. What countries did you visit? Canada, a beautiful and friendly country.

6. What would you like to have in 2006 that you lacked in 2005? Sanity... :) I don't know, a quiet place to live.

7. What date from 2005 will remain etched upon your memory? October 21, my last day at my job.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? Quitting my job, which took more thought and questioning and reasoning and guts than anything I've done in a really long time.

9. What was your biggest failure? The bus.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? Thankfully no, at least nothing major.

11. What was the best thing you bought? ipod. laptop.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration? Sarah, she worked harder than I've ever seen her work and did it with grace. She has totally amazed me this year, from beginning to end.

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed? George W. Bush

14. Where did most of your money go? into my house

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? buying the bus... and then going to Canada.

16. What song/album will always remind you of 2005? Garden State Soundtrack, particularly Blue Eyes

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. happier or sadder? eh, the same
ii. thinner or fatter? sadly, I think a bit larger
iii. richer or poorer? ummm.... that depends on how you look at it, I have more money in the bank now, but I also have no income at the moment.

18. What do you wish you'd done more of? Spent more time with Sarah. Spoken up for myself.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of? Responding to ads on craigslist. :)

20. How will you be spending Christmas? Spent Christmas with Mom and Jake in CA.

21. Who did you spend the most time on the phone with? Probably a toss up between my mom and my realtor's voicemail. Okay, not really, most likely my mom.

22. Did you fall in love in 2005? Nope

23. I had to delete this question for purposes of the possibility of young people reading this, and I wouldn't have answered it anyway.

24. What was your favorite TV program? Lost, CSI, House (discovered late in the year)

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year? no

26. What was the best book you read? The Chronicles of Narnia (the first 6, I don't really like The Last Battle)

27. What was your greatest musical discovery? Matisyahu, that guy is just amazing.

28. What did you want and get? a bus

29. What did you want and not get? a Bentley Continental GT

30. What was your favourite film of this year? oh, dear Lord, that's an awful question to ask me, there were so many awesome movies I saw this year: Unleashed, Sin City, Kung Fu Hustle, etc. etc. But, I guess my favourite would be Garden State, because it really made me realize something about myself. I know that sounds cheesy, but one of the lines in the movie just put into words exactly how I'd been feeling for months, but just hadn't been able to figure out what it was. I saw the movie and a lightbulb went off in my head.

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? For my 24th birthday I finally made it to Maggianno's for dinner with a group of my favorite people, it was great.

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? The bus not being screwed up, or having been able to get my old bus back.

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2005? I really don't have a personal fashion concept, I dress all over the place.

34. What kept you sane? I'm not sure anything did... I guess the hope that things would get better, or I'd find something better.

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you like the most? uh, no one really impressed me this year.

36. What political issue stirred you the most? uh, I probably shouldn't talk about that here, it might anger some of my readers.

37. Who did you miss? Sarah, a lot.

38. Who was the best new person you met? Gilly.

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2005. I cannot ever buy a car for myself again, from now on Turk will be forced to make every car buying decision for me.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year? "everything in this world, everything in this life has an inner essence, and inner soul… it comes into this world for one reason, that it should transform the darkness into light, so make it light" -Matisyahu

Monday, January 02, 2006

Happy New Year!

So, I've finally gotten around to posting the bus for sale on thesamba.com. It's a VW centered website mostly geared towards posting of vehicles and parts. It's how I bought the bus, so I figure it's a good way to sell it. Wish me luck.

Other than that things have been good and uneventful here in Florida. New Year's Eve was nice. Turk, Theresa and I went out for dinner to a very nice steakhouse in City Place. Then we went over to the Palm Beach Convention Center for the Dave Mason and Leon Russell concert. Dave Mason was great. I don't think I ever realized some of the songs he sang. I recognized several of his songs. It was very good. Leon Russell however was not so good. He's only 63, but he seems more like 83. I think I understood maybe 15 words out of the whole hour+ long concert. He got out there, played through the set as fast as he could without pausing and then left. It was pretty lame. But, Dave Mason was worth it anyway. After the concert the ride home was extremely foggy, so we were quite happy to go straight home and not be out in the fog with all the crazy bad drivers.

My assignment for this week is to take Turk's pickup truck to the nearest, or most highly recommended if Turk can find someone to recommend, Dodge dealership. It needs to be tuned up and it pulls very badly to the right, so that needs to be looked at as well. It will likely need a few things. This is all in preparation for the possibility of me driving off in it for a few months. So, let's hope that goes smoothly as well. Not much exciting going on here. I'm also going to go out hunting for a pair of boots now that the holiday shopping madness and the odd store hours should be over. Not that I need boots in the 80 degree Florida weather, but I'll need them eventually.
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