Italy 2014 – Rome Day One

Today was our first full day in Rome, so we got up early to wait in line to get into the Vatican Museum and the Sistine Chapel. We waited in line for two hours and spent over three hours going through the museum. There are a bunch of smaller rooms that lead up the the Sistine Chapel. It’s kind of like the big hoorah at the end of the experience.

As expected, each piece of art was absolutely exquisite and beautiful. We also paid for the audio tour, so we were able to hear about info on each piece (wall?) in each room. It was really helpful to have, because without it I feel like we would’ve sped through without knowing what we were looking at. I also took a picture of the Sistine Chapel before I realized we weren’t supposed to. Oops!

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Then we to the Pantheon, which was awesome and totally reminds me of the movie Percy Jackson and the Lightening Thief, after that we took a cab to a trendier part of the city which happened to be near the capital building. It was dark by this time but everything was lit up beautifully and I got some really great pictures of the area. Yay for shooting in manual!

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 Rome: Day Two // Day Three

Cruising Baja – A Photo Dump

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This was the coolest part. In order to get out of the port in Ensenada, they had to use two tug boats to pull the boat horizontally, then help it back out and pull out of port. It was the gigantic ship equivalent of a three point turn.

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On our at sea day, they had one of the chefs do an ice carving demo. It was so incredibly cool to watch. The emcee said that these types of things take a few hours normally, this guy did it in twenty minutes. Of course they place “Ice Ice Baby” to keep the crowd pumped up.

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All in all, we had an absolute blast on our first vacation as adults. I hope you found my experience, tips, and photos either helpful in planning your vacation, or enjoyable to read about. :)

Our Experience: Part 1 // Part 2 // Cruising on a Budget

 

 

 

Cruising Baja – Budget Friendly Tips

I am including links to make it easy for you to see what I’m taking about, but no I’m not making any money. We paid for the cruise with our own money.

I’ve had a lot of interest from people curious about our cruise experience in general, but I also wanted to share how we were able to make it more budget friendly, and didn’t completely break the bank. This was our first vacation as adults, so we wanted to keep it relatively inexpensive. meaning we didn’t spend thousands upon thousands of dollars on our vacation. Here we go!

1 // Check your cruise line’s water + soda policy. We took Carnival and they allow a certain amount of water and soda to be brought on board, per person. The amount they allowed was plenty for the amount of time we were gone. We actually ended up taking some home at the end of our trip.

2 // Find something where meals are included. Could you imagine having to pay $20-50+ per meal, times the number of days you’re gone? We had food available to us 24 hours a day, including ice cream. :)

3 // Do your reseach on alcohol policies. This is where cruise lines make bank, because people assume that paying per drink is their only option. They DO NOT allow alcohol to be brought on board. They will confiscate it and you will be screwed. Carnival offers something called “In Room Gifting” of beverages and gifts. So a week before we left, I bought a package deal that included a bottle of Jack Daniels and a six-pack of Coca Cola. This was just for Josh, as I don’t really drink. We figured that even though this drink package was fairly pricey, buying per drink would be even more expensive. He ended up taking a 2/3 bottle of JD home.
Carnival also offers a deal where you can purchase a pass for unlimited alchohlic drinks per day, but all persons over 21 in the same room have to purchase it, so it wasn’t the right choice for us.

4 // If you’re going to gamble or spend money on other extras, set a budget. We decided to splurge on a spa experience. It was amazing and totally worth it because we decided not to spend much money elsewhere. Also know that there is so much free entertainment going on, pretty much at all times. We went to the comedy club several times, which was really great. Even when you’re not going anything, you’re doing something. We loved people watching, since there were hammered people by like 11a.

5 // We didn’t have to pay travel fees (flight, taxi, etc), which saved us a ton of money!  The port we left from is only about 45 minutes away from where we live and we had my mom drop us off and pick us up.

6 // If your vacation budget is small and your time off work is limited, go on a short vacation. We left on Sunday afternoon and woke up on Thursday morning back in port. It was the perfect length for us!

Cruising Baja: Our Experience — Part One // Part Two // Photo Dump

I really hope this helped those of you who are also on a budget and can’t afford to travel for weeks and weeks! Carnival, if you read this I’d really like to go to Turks & Caicos. :)

Cruising Baja – Our Experience II

Click here to read Part One.

Tuesday was Ensenada day. On Monday afternoon, we checked out the spa and made appointments for massages, facials, and foot reflexology – a special they called Top to Toe. Definitely worth it to splurge, in my opinion. It was super relaxing and just what we needed. We made the appointments for Tuesday when we were in Ensenada because we knew that the following day – Wednesday – we would be at sea and everyone and their mother would be treating themselves before we arrived back home.  We also got off the ship, but only went to the swap meet dealy at the port, as there was nothing to do within walking distance. I don’t know about you, but I’m not down to wander the streets of Mexico. We basically just stopped off for souvenirs and got right back on the boat. The best part of the day was watching the ship leave the port since it was a pretty tight squeeze. The entire process was so amazing to watch!

We were at sea all of Wednesday, which was definitely interesting! They had people teaching dances on the deck, like the cha cha slide and the wiggle. Although we didn’t participate it was entertaining and funny to watch everyone else do so. There was also an ice carving demonstration, which was super interesting to watch. I thought I was going to be able to lay out and enjoy the sun, but it was windy and cold. We mostly just hung around and people watched. The ship had a comedy club that we went to several nights, and I would definitely recommend the adult only show. Freaking hilarious!

Thursday morning we woke up back in Long Beach and disembarked, which was a tedious and long process. Does anyone ever want leave vacation? I don’t think so.

Our Experience: Part 1 // Cruising on a Budget // Photo Dump

Cruising Baja – Our Experience I

The week before Memorial Day, Josh and I took our first real vacation since we’d started dating in January 2010. It kind of happened on a whim, as I originally looked at cruises with the intention of saving up and going next year. Then I realized how freaking cheap they are. Hell yes. After some discussion and number crunching, we decided on a four day cruise that left from Long Beach, CA with stops in Avalon, Catalina Island and Ensenada, Mexico.

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Over all, we had a fantastic time! I thought the four day cruise was a perfect “starter” cruise and perfect for those with a smaller budget. We cruised with Carnival, so all of our food and basic drinks (coffee, water, juice, milk) were included in our fare. This was a major perk for us, as we knew we had a limited budget and wanted to get as much for our money as we could. We agree that the best time we had on the cruise was spent actually on the boat. We made the decision not to purchase any excursions because they were either way over priced or didn’t have awesome reviews, which was kind of disappointing and lame.

We boarded on Sunday afternoon and had a few hours before we left port, so we took advantage of the cell phone service we still had, said our social media goodbyes, and wandered around the ship before it got super crowded. One of the things that we majorly took advantage of was Serenity – a 21 and over area with hot tubs and lounge chairs. No kids allowed. Holler!

Monday we woke up in Catalina, and decided previously to take our time get up, eating breakfast and getting off the boat. I’ve been on one cruise before (in 2004), and know that the lines can be upwards of 45 minutes long first thing in the morning. That’s just not my cup of tea. We got off the boat and wandered around a bit with hopes of renting a golf cart to putz around the island a bit, but decided not to in the end. We wandered around, then got back on the boat. Not all the exciting, to say the least. I think the coolest part of that day was going up to the upper deck of the ship and watching all the dolphins and sea lions swim around and play in the waves of the small boats that were transporting us from the ship to the island and vice versa.

Our Experience – Part Two // Cruising on a Budget // Photo Dump