Sunday, November 12, 2017

Football Weekend

We were given two tickets to the Cardinals/Seahawks game on Thursday, so Michael and Andrew went because Andrew loves the Seahawks.




Then, on Friday, Michael, Nathaniel, Emily, and Andrew left for Las Vegas to watch the BYU vs. UNLV game.  BYU won!!!








They were on TV!!!!!!  Michael and Nathaniel are covered by the score, lol!


Daniel, Jonathan, and I had fun at home by ourselves. The boys spent time with their cousins at Peter Piper Pizza. 

On Friday night, the boys and I went to dinner at Olive Garden.  Michael and the three older kids stayed the night in Las Vegas and drove home on Saturday.  I was able to get caught up on the photo albums, and Daniel and Jonathan enjoyed having the TVs to themselves.  It was a great weekend!

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Halloween 2017

The kids had a great time on Halloween!  We have a ridiculous amount of candy left over. 

First, we had our Fall Festival at church. 


Nathaniel--Chief Hopper from Stranger Things

Emily--Minnie Mouse
Andrew--ninja
Daniel--pirate
Jonathan--Iron Man





I won 3rd place for my chocolate pie.  This time, I tried to up my game by using a chocolate chip cookie crust.  Last year I got 2nd place, so that didn't work out, lol!


Halloween night


Jonathan


Andrew changed costumes and went as a BYU football player


Andrew and his friend went Trick or Treating together


Daniel


Emily and her friends





Nathaniel went with friends and wore a different costume, too.  Somehow he escaped without getting a picture.


Too much candy!!!


Full size candy bars again!  Wow!


Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 27, 2017

Cruise Tips

As I usually do when preparing for a vacation, I spent many weeks researching before our cruise.  I must have read 50 different posts on Pinterest:  10 Things You Must Pack for Your Cruise, 7 Rookie Mistakes People Make on Their First Cruise, 15 Things Most People Don’t Think to Pack for Their Cruise, etc, etc.  So, I took my regular vacation packing list, whittled it down and made adjustments that I thought would apply to our cruise, and then took all of the suggestions I read and changed or added to my list again.  Once onboard, I quickly realized I had purchased a number of things that were not necessary for our cruise and some I couldn’t use at all.  I made many returns to Walmart and Amazon when I got home, lol!  Some of those things might have worked or been essential for other people, but not for me.  I took a Carnival Cruise on the Inspiration from Long Beach to Catalina Island and Ensenada, Mexico from Monday to Friday and we had an ocean view room, so maybe if I had taken another cruise line or even had a different cabin my experience would have been different.  Also, we were traveling with five children and had two cabins that were next door to each other (there were no adjoining ones left).  Here is what I learned. 
 

Things I did need/use:

Carnival’s HUB app
This was essential!  It was so helpful and it works even if you don’t purchase their wifi.  I know this for sure because my I let my daughter use the wifi I had purchased for myself (one device can use it at a time) and the app still worked great.  For anyone with a smartphone, the Chat feature (for only $5 per person for the whole cruise) was awesome!  One of the blogs stated that the Chat feature doesn’t give you notifications, but that is incorrect.  I got notifications just like I would for texts or any other messaging app.  The app has detailed maps of every deck, and listings of all of the onboard activities.  I loved that you can “heart” your favorite activities, and the app will notify you when the next one is coming up so you don’t miss out!  You can also check your spending on the app, which was especially helpful for the kids.  I gave each of them an allowance and once the money was gone they couldn’t charge any more.  I had tried to set up the allowance before we sailed, but I kept getting conflicting information from various Carnival customer service agents.  All you have to do is go to guest services once you are on board and they can easily set this up for you.  One last thing—if you download the HUB app before you sail and put in your sail date, it will show you a countdown until your cruise starts.  My kids had a great time with that!  Then, once you’re on board, click “I’m onboard” and you can start using it.  Don’t wait, though—download it before you sail.


If you’re going to Ensenada, bring cash! 
They take US dollars.  I recommend having small bills as well.  We didn’t do much tipping on board except for our steward—Carnival can add the tips to your account and you can even request to tip extra to members of the crew who gave especially good service.
 

Folding fabric baskets for toiletries
I get mine at Dollar Tree so I don’t feel bad if they get destroyed.  You could also get nicer ones—just make sure they are the kind that fold flat so you can easily pack them in your suitcase.  The bathrooms are small and there is no counter (just two narrow shelves), so I kept my toiletries in my basket and kept the basket on one of the closet shelves until I needed it.


We used the wine glass they provided for our toothbrush holder, lol!

 
Folding fabric hamper for dirty clothes
You can buy them at Walmart wherever you buy the regular laundry baskets.  It folds into a small circle that you can pack flat.  Those cabins are tiny (compared to an average hotel room), so it was very helpful in keeping clothes off the floor!
This is how it looked when we were leaving.
 
Ziploc bags in various sizes
I bring them every time I travel and always find many uses.  For instance, my son loved the arts and crafts at Camp Ocean and one day he came back with a little colored sand contraption.  It seemed to be sealed, but I wasn’t taking any chances and put it in a Ziploc just in case.  I also use them for any toiletries that can leak. 

 
Travel Space Bags
This is actually my own tip that I didn’t read on any blogs.  Space Bags are super helpful for putting dirty clothes in to take home.  You just seal it up and fold down the top to push out the air.  It saves room so you can fit any souvenirs you bought!  Make sure to get the ones that say Travel, because the other kind require a vacuum cleaner to suck out the air.
 

Power strip
We actually might have been OK without one in our cabin (I only had my daughter and youngest boy in my cabin), but I know Michael and our three older boys used theirs a lot.
 

Lanyards
I got these for about $1 each from Walmart.  If you are cruising with kids, it is so much easier if they have their Sail and Sign cards on their lanyard.  They don’t use it that much (although they are required any time you get on or off the ship), but I found it so helpful to be able to just look at the kids and be assured that they each had their card just by looking at them and seeing it around their necks.  I had only brought three for my younger boys, assuming that my teenagers wouldn’t want to wear one.  I was wrong.  My daughter wanted one, too, and I had to pay $6 for one onboard.  It might have even been nice for my husband and I to have one, too.  It was a hassle to get it from my purse every time I dropped the boys off at their kids’ clubs or picked them up.
 

Dramamine
This is the only sea sickness medicine we used, even though I brought others (meclizine, ginger pills, and Motion-eze).  For me personally, I noticed the motion of the ship when we were waiting for the elevators when we first got on.  I remember thinking, “Yikes, what have I done!?”  But once we got to our cabins and went to lunch, I completely forgot about it and I was fine.  You can definitely feel the motion of the ship on occasion (it was worst on the morning of our sea day), but I never needed to take anything.  My husband and two of my boys took a Dramamine once or twice.
 

Dressy clothes for Cruise Elegant night
We are not getting family pictures done this fall like we usually do, so I brought nice clothes for all of us (like what we would wear to church), hoping that the pictures they take of us that night would suffice.  It worked pretty well!  Many people were dressed up fancy that night.  They had about 10 different backgrounds for nice pictures.  Most of them are catered to couples and not big families like ours, but I really liked the ones we had taken and I bought two of them.  You can get posed pictures with various backgrounds every night. 

 
Workout clothes
We actually went to the gym twice and it was great!  There were plenty of machines for everyone.  Note: to get to the gym, you have to go to the spa and walk through the locker area.

 
Hair Dryer
One of the emails Carnival sent me had packing tips and they mentioned not to bother to bring a hair dryer.  I thought that was weird because I had read that only the fancier rooms like suites provided a hair dryer.  I’m glad I read that, because we did not have a hair dryer and I was so glad I brought mine.
 

I wish I had brought something that I could lay across the bathroom sink for doing my makeup and hair.  I don’t know what it would have been, but I’ll think of it for next time!  There is only a one small shelf by the mirror and no counter space in the bathroom.
 


Things I did not need, most of which I returned
 

Magnetic message boards
I read so many articles that said cabin walls are made of metal.  I was so disappointed when I was unpacking and I opened my two magnetic message boards for the cabin doors, only to find out that they wouldn’t stick!  I couldn’t return them because I had already opened them!  Oh well, they are now on our refrigerator.

 
Magnetic hooks
Same reason as above. 
 

Shoe organizer
So many people mentioned taking a shoe organizer, insisting it was essential because you wouldn’t have anywhere to put your stuff.  I don’t know what cruise they were on, but we had plenty of closets and shelves and also a desk with drawers and we didn’t even use all the drawers!

 

Nightlight
There were multiple small lights around the cabin that could act as nightlights.  We each had a small light with a switch by our beds.

 

ID holders
The lanyards are helpful, but the ID holders weren’t necessary.  The Sail and Sign cards already have a hole in the corner so you can easily hang it on your lanyard clip.
 

Luggage tag holder
Others might find these helpful, but we carried our own luggage on and off the ship so I wish I hadn’t opened my luggage tags that I ordered from Amazon.  I had purchased Faster to the Fun, which I highly recommend, so we were promised that our cabin would be ready as soon as we got on the ship.  It was so nice to go straight to our cabin and unpack, and then freely walk around the ship without having to lug our backpacks. We had the earliest boarding time of 12pm (more like 12:30 by the time they let us on) and it worked out really well.  We also carried our luggage off the ship.  The morning of debarkation, we went to the meeting place at 7am, and even though we had to wait a little while, we were pulling out of the parking garage by 8:10am. 
 

Towel clips
Another recommendation was towel clips, because it gets windy on the deck.  I saw these at the Dollar Tree so I picked up two packages.  Maybe if we had been on a cruise in the summer months this would have been more of an issue, but we had no use for these clips.  We did spend time at the pool and water slides, but the pool towels they give you are nice and thick and don’t blow away.

 
Hangers
We had three different closet sections.  One had shelves and a safe, and the other two had room for hanging clothes and at least seven nice wooden hangers each.  I travel with a garment bag so I had hangers anyway, but for most people for a four night cruise that would have been plenty of hangers.  They probably would have brought a few more if we had asked.

 
Highlighters
Many people said it would be helpful to have highlighters so you can mark your favorite activities on the list they give you every day.  However, like I said, the app has the feature where you can select your favorites and it will even notify you when they are about to start.
 

Our family had such an amazing time on our cruise!  I am so grateful for the information I was able to find, but now that I have been on a cruise I will know how to prepare even better for the next one. 😊

 
General Tips 

Most of the information we needed was left in our room by our steward.  Our prepaid excursion tickets were delivered the night before.  Also, for debarkation they have a big meeting you can attend to learn about your options, and they play the video of it on their TV channel.  They also put the instructions in your room the night before.
 

Faster to the Fun (FTTF)
I went ahead and splurged on this.  You are basically buying most of the benefits of their VIP services.  It’s $49 per cabin.  If it had just been my husband and I, it probably wouldn’t have been as important.  The first benefit we got was a quick line at the terminal to check in and get our Sail and Sign cards.  Although, like I said before, once we got through that line we had to still wait another ½ hour because they didn’t board until 12:30pm instead of 12pm.  Also, because we had FTTF, our cabin was guaranteed to be ready as soon as we boarded.  We could have checked our bags and had them to our cabin sooner because of FTTF, but instead we chose to carry on all of our luggage and went straight to our cabin to settle in.  The other benefit is that if you need to go to guest services, you have a dedicated phone line and also a dedicated line at the desk on deck 7.  Finally, as I stated earlier, you get priority at debarkation.  There were multiple options, but again we chose to handle our own luggage and get on the road early.  If you decide you want it, buy early before it sells out.

 
Your Time Dining
We chose this instead of scheduled seating and I am so glad we did.  If there is a wait (one night we had a 15 min wait and another it was 30 min), they give you one of those contraptions that light up when it’s your turn.  The other two nights they got us right in. 

 
Elevators
I could explain how the elevators work but it’s very confusing unless you are there.  And even if you are there!  Not all elevators or staircases go to all the floors.  Each set of elevators has a map that will show you which floors it goes to (you can also look at the lights above the door).  I often pulled out my phone and checked my HUB app for a map to find the best route.  We also tried to take the stairs often to work off all of the extra calories! 

 
Arrive the day before
Unless you live close by, I recommend getting in to Long Beach by the night before.  We stayed at the Super 8 Long Beach and had dinner at Polly’s Pies nearby.  Obviously, it’s not a fancy place, but it was fine for us and they had a free breakfast with cereal, yogurt, bagels, waffles, etc.

 
Excursions
Once we bought the cruise, they sent us an offer to get 20% off excursions if we booked one in each port.  I don’t think they offered any other discounts later, but I could be wrong.  I’ve heard that you can get deals once you are on board, but I’ve also heard that the good ones can sell out early.  Many people just went and did their own thing.  We went ahead and purchased the excursions with the discount.  On Catalina Island, we split into two groups.  I took my daughter and youngest son on the Dolphin Runner Adventure.  It was wonderful!  We saw so many dolphins!  My husband took our three older boys snorkeling and they loved it.  My husband said it was his favorite part of the whole cruise.  In Ensenada, we went on La Bufadora Adventure.  I enjoyed it, even though we felt a little bit swindled by our guide because she seemed to want us to only go to the vendors she recommended.  Once you get to La Bufadora, you have to walk past a very long gauntlet of vendors clamoring for your attention.  I think the vendors at the beginning had the best prices, but we found that out too late and had to get back on the bus.  Read the reviews and see what you think.  If I had it to do over again and it was just my husband and I, I would definitely go parasailing!  We saw that from our Dolphin Runner Adventure and it looked amazing!
 

If I think of anything else, I’ll add it to the list!  We had heard some negative things about Carnival Cruise Lines, but we didn’t find them to be true.  There was so much to do for adults and kids, the food was wonderful, and the service was excellent.  We loved it, and I know you will, too!

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Our Cruise!

Our cruise was so wonderful!  We all had an awesome time!  I have wanted to go on a cruise for so long.  The kids loved it, too.  I was worried about getting sea sick, but overall we did pretty well.  The only bummer of the whole vacation was that I had to switch SD cards right before our Catalina excursion, and when I went to download them to my computer all the pictures and videos from the new SD card were corrupted!  I was so upset!  Luckily, I recovered most of the pictures but the videos from that card were all lost. 
 

We drove to Long Beach on Sunday.  The trip only took us 8 hours including all stops, so that was pretty good!  We stayed at a hotel in Long Beach for the night.  We didn’t have to be to the ship until noon, so we slept in until 8am.  The trip to the Carnival terminal was pretty smooth.  We decided (or I decided and Michael didn’t care) that we should just handle our own luggage, so that we could go straight to the room to settle in.  That ended up working well for us.  We got in the Faster to the Fun line (I paid extra for it—it’s a VIP service and it made it so we had shorter lines and our room would be ready as soon as we got on the ship) by about 11:45am and got through pretty quickly.  Then we had to wait. 
Waiting to board 





Carnival Inspiration


They didn’t start loading until 12:30pm, and by the time we got through security and on the ship to our cabin it was about 12:45pm.  It took forever waiting for the elevators (they kept skipping our floor!), but we went straight to the cabin to unpack.  We had two cabins.  I had hoped to get adjoining ones, but there weren't any available.  Our cabins were right next door to each other, though, so that was nice.  I had Emily and Jonathan in mine, and Michael had the other three boys.  We had lunch at the Lido buffet and it was great! 
Our first meal onboard 
After lunch, we explored the ship.  I stopped at guest services (where we had our own super fast separate line because of Faster to the Fun) and set up our account so each kid had their own budget for spending during the cruise.  Our Sail and Sign cards were our room key and also how we paid for extras while aboard.  Michael, Nathaniel, Emily, and I all used the Carnival Hub app’s chat feature while at sea and it worked really well.  After exploring, we went back to the cabins and the boys all put their swimming suits on and we headed for the Muster Drill to learn about emergency procedures. 
Jonny waiting for everyone to get ready.  He loved his pull-down bed!
Then we took the boys to the water slides.  Jonathan didn’t want to get off!   

Hot tub
We finally pulled Jonny away and went to get dressed for dinner.  We started dinner at 7pm, but the kids (and I) really wanted to go to the Hasbro Family Game Show at 8pm.  We told our waiter Armando, and he got us our food quickly.  I had the miso salmon and duck potstickers, Michael had the fried shrimp, Jonathan had the lasagna, and the rest had the flat iron steak.  It was all so amazing!  Jonathan couldn’t finish his lasagna so Nathaniel and I helped him, lol. 
Our first dinner

Random funny pic of Nathaniel
We had a great time at the Hasbro show.  They asked trivia questions, and if you got it right and were enthusiastic enough, you could get on stage to play.  After one of the questions, the hostess couldn’t decide between Daniel and Andrew, who were both jumping on their seats, but she ultimately chose Daniel.  His team had to play a Skee Ball-type game, and they won.  Then they chose a Monopoly piece to see which one had the bigger mystery points.  The winner had 26,000 points, and Daniel was so close with 25,500.  The other little girl won a $150 gift card for Hasbro.com. 

 Daniel with his medal from the game 
After the show, we looked around the gift shops.  Andrew and Emily went to Circle C, their kids’ club.  Daniel and Jonathan went to their own Camp Ocean activities and Nathaniel went back to the cabin.  I looked for our pictures and bought two and a lanyard (I only brought three lanyards, assuming that Nathaniel and Emily wouldn’t want one, but Emily did so I needed another one).  We were all back to the cabins by about 10pm.  Jonathan went right to sleep.  Funny of the day:  Daniel using his butter spreader as a spoon during dinner.
On Tuesday morning, we were up by 8am.  I went to work out in the gym, and Michael and Andrew came, too.   


We left by 9:30am and went straight to breakfast in our workout clothes.  We went back to the cabin to get dressed and ready.  We headed to the tender boat at 11:05am—we were supposed to leave one hour before our start time of 12:15pm.  We sat and waited a while on the boat. 
View of the ship from our tender boat
We got to Catalina by about 11:45am.  We took some pictures and then Michael and the three older boys separated from us to go to their snorkeling excursion. 

For our Dolphin Runner adventure, we rode in a RIB boat that had saddle seats.  They got pretty uncomfortable by the end.  Michael and the boys’ snorkeling didn’t start until 1pm, but by the time we left we saw them getting into their wet suits.  Michael said they all loved it, but Andrew had trouble with the swimming and had to use a life vest.  Our Dolphin Runner adventure was fantastic!  They took us out past the cruise ship, and we saw a huge pod of dolphins right away.  We must have seen about 50 of them!  I had a great video, too, but sadly it didn't survive the SD card debacle. 

Emily and Jonny loved it!


We rode around to another place where the currents meet, but instead of seeing more dolphins we saw a family of sea lions floating on their backs. 
We didn’t see any more dolphins.  It ended up being more like an hour and not an hour and a half as advertised.  That was fine with me, though.  Emily and I had a good laugh about our messy, nasty hair.  We caught a tender back just in time. 
Jonny being silly on the tender back to the ship
We stopped at the Pizza Pirate for a late lunch.  The pizza was available 24 hours a day.  The buffet was closed when we got there, but it was open by the time we left so we had dessert.  Then we went back to our cabin to rest. 
Jonny loved the towel animals waiting for us every day 

I took Jonny to Camp Ocean at 3pm and the others came back.  Emily and I both had to take a shower and wash our hair because it was so nasty and stringy.  I picked up Jonathan and took him to Build a Bear at Sea.  Daniel came, too, but he changed his mind about buying a bear. 
Jonny chose The Cat in the Hat at Build A Bear 

We came back to relax and got dressed up for Cruise Elegant night.  We left at 7pm for pictures.  We did the white, piano (Andrew really wanted that one and it turned out great!), and black backgrounds. 

The dinner line was really long, but even though they told us it would be a ½ hour wait it was only about 15 minutes.  We had Nelcar as our team head waiter this time.  Michael had the sea bass, I had the prime rib, Nathaniel had duck, Emily had spare ribs, Andrew and Jonathan had the flat iron steak, and Daniel had a kid food feast—hot dog, fries, cheese pizza, chicken nuggets, and more fries (that he gave to Emily).  Toward the end of dinner, the waiters all got up and sang and danced for us.  After dinner, Andrew went to Circle C and the rest of us went back to the cabin.  We had an early morning the next day, but later Michael, Nathaniel, Emily, and Jonathan all went to Pizza Pirate again—after our big dinner!  Crazies!  We were in bed by 11:30pm.  Funny of the day: During our very late lunch with Emily and Jonathan, I said “Don’t eat too much right now because we’re going to a fancy dinner again tonight.”  Jonny looked at me and said, in all seriousness, “Don’t worry, Mommy.  Jonny’s always hungry!”  Bonus funnies: At our elegant dinner (tablecloths and everything!), I told the kids to put their napkins on their laps.  Without missing a beat, Nathaniel and Emily both said, at the exact same time, “That’s too fancy!”  Also, Jonny was getting anxious and wanted his steak.  He kept asking us and we told him they would bring it when it was ready.  That wasn’t good enough for him.  A little later, he raised his hand for the waiter, who came up to him and asked what he needed.  Jonny said, “Excuse me, but I was wondering if you made my flat iron steak yet?”  It was hilarious but also a little embarrassing. 
On Wednesday, we had to get up early for Ensenada.  We were up by 7:30am and ordered breakfast from room service.  I sent Michael a message about it the night before, but they didn’t order.  They went to the buffet for breakfast while Emily, Jonny, and I got ready.  We met in the Paris Lounge at 8:30am for our tour—La Bufadora Adventure.  Beba was our guide.  She had us wear stickers with her name on it, which we later figured out was probably for her to get credit from the vendors we shopped at.  Our first stop was at an old casino: Museo de Ensenada, built for Americans during Prohibition.  The building was beautiful.  After the tour, we went out to the courtyard to buy souvenirs.  Daniel and Andrew each got a ukulele, Nathaniel and Jonny got a mini painted skull, and Nathaniel also bought a name bracelet as we left. 
Shopping for souvenirs 
Museo de Ensenada 
Emily thought it was funny that Peter and Parker were next to each other--Spider-Man--get it?
The ride to La Bufadora was about 45 minutes.  Jonathan fell asleep on the way there.   

The curvy road on the way there was pretty treacherous.  Michael called it the “winding road of death,” lol.  Once we got there, she took us down a gauntlet of shops, selling souvenirs and food.  It was pretty overwhelming.  I did enjoy the samples of churros!  We took pictures of La Bufadora, which is described as a blowhole, and can shoot water upwards as high as 100 feet. 
La Bufadora 


Great view!



We didn’t have much time to buy souvenirs, so we didn’t get the deals we could have.  Andrew wanted a poncho, and we got BYU bags for all the kids except Jonny—he got a Pokemon one.  We hurried back to the bus to get there on time, and ended up waiting another 20 minutes for other passengers.  I felt a little car sick on the way back.  Jonathan fell asleep again.  We could have walked to the downtown area, but we all seemed to prefer to just get back on the ship.  We had lunch at the buffet.  Jonathan and Daniel went to Camp Ocean, and Emily and Andrew went swimming.  Later, Emily and Andrew came back and Andrew, Emily, and Nathaniel went to the arcade.  We picked up Daniel and Jonathan by 3pm when Camp Ocean closed, and we all came back to the cabins for a rest.  I took a nap.  Andrew went to Circle C again.  We went to dinner at 7:30pm.   
We were trying to finish in time to go to the comedy show at 9pm, as that was the last family-friendly version of the show.  Emily and Daniel skipped dessert so they could make it on time, Andrew went back to Circle C, and the rest of us got to the show at 9:15.  It was over by 9:30.  What we saw was pretty funny.  Michael took Jonathan back to the cabin, and he fell asleep right away.  He had been pretty grumpy at dinner. 
On Thursday, I got up at 7am so that I could work out again.  By the time I got there, I only had 20 minutes to work out.  I was relieved to find out that I didn’t gain any weight since Tuesday.  Michael was already there on the elliptical.  We went back to the cabin to get ready for the Cat in the Hat breakfast at 9am.  It was super cute!!! 








Michael and I had the Fox in Sox filet mignon and eggs; Nathaniel and Daniel had green eggs and ham; the rest had Truffula tree pancakes.  Most of us weren’t feeling well that morning.  Andrew left first to go back to the cabin, and Emily and Nathaniel soon followed.  Daniel needed a Dramamine, so he had to learn to swallow a pill.  He finally did it, thankfully! 

Another towel animal for Jonny

After breakfast we went to play mini golf.  They didn't have score cards, but that didn't stop us from competing, lol.  We just kept track in our heads.  I won, and Emily was a close second. 




We went to Harry Potter trivia at 10:30am.  It was pretty hard!  We didn’t even get half of them right.  Jonathan went to Camp Ocean, I went to the arcade with Nathaniel, Emily, and Daniel, and Andrew went back to Circle C.  Everyone went to lunch around 1:30pm. 

I loved my dessert swan

Afterwards, Nathaniel took Daniel and Jonathan to the water slides, and Michael and I went to the Serenity Spa, which was for adults only.  By 5pm, everyone but Nathaniel went to play Cranium.  The girl who was running it had no idea what she was doing, so that was frustrating.  We still had fun, though.  We joined teams with a family from Mesa with five kids. 

Jonny being silly in our hallway

I took Jonathan to the kids’ dance party in the Rock and Roll lounge at 7:15pm.  We all got ready for dinner and picked Jonathan up at 7:45pm. 

Camp Ocean

Our last dinner

Jonathan was so upset that he had to leave Camp Ocean, so our sweet waitress named Dolma brought him his pizza right away and Michael took him back to Camp Ocean.  Michael made it back before we got our entrees, and we had a nice dinner together.  I loved those family dinners!  The food was amazing and we were able to sit and relax and enjoy each other's company.  We looked at our pictures one last time, then picked up Jonathan and went back to the room.  We did some packing to prepare for the next morning.

On Friday, I was up at 5am to shower, pack, and eat our continental breakfast room service.  I tried to let Emily and Jonathan sleep as long as possible.  We made it to the Mardi Gras dining room by 7am, which was the earliest we could leave the ship.  We carried out all of our own luggage. 

Waiting for debarkation
Cell service!  The teenagers were happy about that.



We had to wait about ½ hour, but we got through customs and pulled out of the parking garage by 8:10am.  We stopped for lunch at Burger King in Blythe.  While we were eating, we saw another family from the cruise.  Jonathan recognized them right away.  He knew one of the girls from Camp Ocean, and the older sister, Madison, was the same one who won the Hasbro game show!  Michael drove the whole way home, for which I was so grateful!  We were home by 4pm, so it was a great trip home.  Funny of the day: We were talking about stopping for lunch in Blythe, and Jonny said, “Mom, I want to eat at the Broken Barrel!”  It took me a minute to figure out that he meant the Cracker Barrel, lol!

I am so glad I got to go on a cruise.  I have wanted to for so long!  Michael took some convincing, but I think even he had fun.  He especially loved the snorkeling in Catalina!  The kids had such a great time and I know we will remember it forever!

Family favorites:
Jonathan—Camp Ocean, water slides
Daniel—Ensenada and Catalina, Hasbro game show, water slides
Andrew—Circle C, mini golf
Emily—relaxing, dinners
Nathaniel—snorkeling, unlimited food (I think he ate 6 meals one day!)
Christine—dinners, not having to cook, dolphin runner
Michael—snorkeling