What a year of travel!

This first year after retiring from “Day Job” has been so much fun!  My last full day of work at Linde was September 30, 2022.  On October 8th we packed up our house and moved to Ocala, Florida to the house we bought and renovated during Covid.  I’m so happy with our new house.  There is just something so satisfying about renovating a home to meet your taste.  Then the travel began!

On October 13th, Sharon, Judy, Josh and I boarded the MSC Meraviglia.  Unfortunately this cruise was a disappointment from the moment we got in line to check-in.  We stood outside for almost 4 hours to just get checked in and board the ship.  The ship was beautiful and everything about the design and decorations of the ship was very classy.  I really enjoyed the gelato that I purchased but beyond that I was not impressed.  I found the food to be just okay.  I was very disappointed by the fact that at dinner one night the menu had country vegatable soup and when it was served at the table it had a very strong smell of seafood.  In fact the soup contained oysters, shrimp and I’m not sure what else but the menu did not mention any type of seafood.  I immediately requested the server to remove the soup, good thing I wasn’t allergic!  The passengers on this ship were the most rude I have ever encountered in my life!  Ran into a few TA’s that were heavily promoting themselves which I find to be a big turn off.  If you ever encounter me doing this please call me out!

Our next trip was on December 5th on the Carnival Sunshine out of Charleston.  I love cruising out of Charleston, the town is very quaint and fun to visit pre cruise.  Too bad that Carnival will no longer be sailing from this port after December 2024.  This trip we were joined by Josh, Chad, Bill, Missy,  Josh and Danielle.  We visited Aruba, Bonaire, Grand Turk and Princess Cay.  Weather and company was amazing!

Then on December 18th, Larry and I boarded the MSC Seascape.  I figured that I owed the cruise line another try because my first impression could have just bad timing, but no this cruise was just as bad if not worse!  The first night waiting to go to the dining room people were pushing and shoving like they hadn’t eaten for a week.  I have never seen such bad mannered people!  Just like the Meraviglia the ship was beautiful but cruising to me is more about the people and not the ship.  The food was still just okay.  I will say the sports bar is amazing!  And the casino on both ships was never busy so it was easy to find a machine if you like playing in the casino.  Unfortunately I got a head cold while on the ship as my head was so stopped up which led to my discovering that the category of cabin we had booked (balcony – Fantastica) did not come with tissues.  I could not believe it when I asked the room steward and he told me not included with my cabin type, seriously?!  We gave MSC two chances and both times were a big disappointed so we will not be sailing on MSC in the future.

In January (8th – 28th) Larry and I joined Debbie, Terry, Allison, Dan, Carmen, Hank, Debbie, Harry and Jo Jo on the Carnival Dream out of Galveston.  This was our first time sailing from Galveston and Debby and Terry were very gracious to offer to pick us up at the airport in Galveston. This was so very sweet of them!  We had an amazing time on this cruise!  Debby, Terry, Larry and I spent many evenings in the piano bar with a new piano bar entertainer (PBE) that was on his first contract.  Sean was a real sweetheart and very talented young man, he made the evenings a lot of fun.  On the first leg of the cruise we visited the ports of Costa Maya, Belize and Cozumel.  On this leg it was just Debbie, Terry, Larry and I so we were pretty laid back!  The second leg of the cruise was a 14 day Journey’s cruise that visited the ports of Key West, Amber Cove, San Juan, St. Thomas, St. Kitts, St Maarteen, St. Croix and Montego Bay.  In Key West we rented a couple of golf carts and just wandered around Key West and ended up at Sloppy Joe’s for lunch.  Of course we got the Southern most point picture while we were there! In Amber Cove we had a Cabana by the pool and enjoyed the sun! San Juan a bunch of us just walked around Old San Juan doing a bit of shopping and exploring.  We talked Larry into going rafting in Montego Bay but it wasn’t really his cup of tea but he was a good sport and we made some memories!

On February 5th we boarded the Carnival Celebration with Bill, Missy, Josh, Larry and I.  I have to say the new Carnival XL class ships are very nice.  I love the way they are laid out and the design is very appealing.  And of course you have to try Big Chicken, so good!  On this voyage we ported at Amber Cove, San Juan and St. Maarten.  We did a city tour with Elvis Tours (now Elbia Tours) at Amber Cove, we’ve been here a few time but have never really seen anything but the port area.  The tour guide did a wonderful job and we all had a good time.

On March 11th we boarded the Carnival Spirit with Bill, Missy, Larry and I.  What a change in ships!  The Carnival Spirit is a Spirit Class ship and her sister ships are the Pride, the Legend, the Miracle and the Luminosa so there is quite a difference is size.  But I do like the smaller ships, they might not have all the bells and whistle but they seem more intimate and are unique in their own way.  This was an Elite cruise for Bill and Missy so there were additional perks for the four of us!  This ship ported at Half Moon Cay, Grand Turk, Aruba and Bonaire.  We always have a great cruise when we travel with Bill and Missy, lots of laughs and good times!

By this time Larry is ready to stay home for a bit! But I’m ready to spend some time with some girl friends so off to LAX I go to spend time with Sharon, Debbie, Sandy, Ally and Joanna.  Sharon and I arrived within a few hours of each other and grabbed a shuttle to the Hotel Maya in Long Beach.  I hadn’t ever stayed at the Hotel Maya and the hotel is very nice.  We stayed here for 2 days and enjoyed the restaurant and the firepits.  With all travel there were a few hiccups, Debbie drove down from Northern Cali and unfortunately had a flat tire which resulted in having to have all 4 tires replaced so she was later than expected arriving at the hotel.  Then Sandy, Ally and Joanna ran into flight delays and cancellations due to weather in Texas!  This is why I tell people to travel at least one day early and two if coast to coast.  Josh jumped in to help with getting them rescheduled on flights for the next morning so they made it just a day late.  This is a great time to mention that even though I know everyone hates early morning flights, they really are your best option for getting you where you need to be.  Statistics show that these flights are the least likely to get cancelled!  On April 22nd the 6 of us boarded the Carnival Panorama to head to the Mexican Riveria ports of Cabo, Mazatlan, and Puerto Vallarta.  In Puerto Vallarta Sandy, Sharon and I hired a driver that provide a city tour that include seeing the sites, visiting a tequila distillery, lunch on the beach and finished up with some shopping at the port.  In Mazatlan we booked with Pulmonia Tony Zatarain open taxi.  This was so much fun and I highly recommend getting in touch with Tony to book if you are in Mazatlan.  We had 2 of the open taxi’s (golf cart that looks like a car) with a driver.  Our drivers were very accomodating  and made sure we had a great time.  They dropped us at a restaurant on the beach for lunch and the food/drinks were amazing.  In Cabo we just walked around, made a stop at Cabo Wabo and then did some shopping.  We all had a wonderful time and looking to plan another girls trip in a few years.  Come join us!

After the cruise Sharon and I jumped on a flight to Vegas to extend the girls trip for a few more days.  We opted to stay at the Flamingo because well it’s the Flamingo, lol!  Both of us were a bit under the weather but that didn’t stop us from walking miles and miles!  We even won a little money!

Then I was off to Indiana to spend some time with family and visit with friends.  I arrived in Indianapolis on May 3rd and Larry joined me a couple of weeks later to bring me back to Florida.  On the trip to Florida we made a detour and spent Memorial Day week in Hilton Head at our timeshare.  I always enjoy spending time in Hilton Head, it’s so relaxing.

In June Kendall, Zayda, and Josh flew into Florida for the 4 of us to take a cruise on the Carnival Freedom.  This was the first cruise for the 2 girls and I was really looking forward to seeing them both.  We spent 5 nights on the Freedom and visited Nassua and Amber Cove.  We were actually suppose to go to the Grand Turk but some young lady decided to have baby on the ship and we had to make an emergency stop in Nassau so our itinerary had to be adjusted.  Fortunately mother and (full term) baby were fine.  Don’t get me started on this one!  The girls had a blast!  They entertained us with karaoke, duck hunting (over 50 ducks!) and just getting to spend quality time together.  After the cruise the 4 of us spent the day at Disney Worlds Magic Kingdom, so much walking!  I think they really enjoyed themselves as they wanted to know when their next cruise was schedule!

After a few weeks at home we are loaded back up in the car and headed back to Indiana making an over night stop in Chattanooga to have dinner with my aunt Nina!  Always love catching up with family then off to French Lick to spend the weekend with Bill and Missy before heading back to Bloomington.  We had meetings planned with our February 2024 Hawaii cruise group and will be flying out of Indianapolis for our Alaska cruise.

I was not very excited to do an Alaska cruise, I am one of those people that love the deep blue oceans of the Caribbean and laying under a palm tree soaking up the sun!  We opted to spend two days in San Francisco before our Alaska cruise and booked the Holiday Inn Golden Gateway. Joining us on the Alaska Cruise was Brian, Denna, Kim, Russ, Leigh, Stephanie, Josh, Chad, Teri, Jerry, Larry and I. San Francisco has sure changed since I was stationed in Vallejo!  But I thought the hotel was nice and was close to restaurants.  We ended up booking an Alcatraz tour through Viator and we all found the tour very interesting.  I would love to do the haunted tour if we ever make it back!  After visiting Alcatraz we met my college friend Julie and her husband Dan at Fisherman’s Wharf for lunch and did a bit of shopping.  The next morning we grabbed Uber’s and headed to the port to board the Carnival Miracle.  We visited the ports of Juneau, Skagway, Icy Strait Point, and Prince Edward Island.  The highlight of the cruise was cruising Tracy Arm Fjord well and the amazing weather we had during the cruise!  If you have never been I highly recommend going.  I didn’t really want to go but I will be doing this again.  Now the down side of this particular cruise.  We had terrible service in the dining room every night, our service was slow, the food was cold and overall it just wasn’t up to expecations.  But we made the best of it and really enjoyed spending time with friends and family!  If you are looking to cruise to Alaska and want to join us let Larry, Josh or I know and we will be sure to keep you in the loop for our next trip!  We had arranged to fly back to Indiana with a layover in Vegas and I even won a little money!  Though I really need to give Chad props on feeding the machine for me!

Larry and I spent a few more days in Indiana, he had golf to play and I wanted to spend some more time with Maeve, Hadley, Robby, Ashley and Josh!  Then Larry and I were loading up the car and heading back to Florida. Once back in Florida Larry and I headed to Port Canaveral to board the Carnival Miracle for training with our Carnival Business Development Manager (BDM) Katy Rose and other TA’s from our host agency.  This was great trip and we were able to network with Katy Rose, Isabella from OA and the other agents. We even spent time in class so it wasn’t all fun and games.

After the cruise we headed back home to Ocala, Larry is getting some much needed time at home and I got ready to head to Jacksonville for a week of training.  With my fulltime job as an IT manager I didn’t have an opportunity to attend the in person training that my host agency offered and even though I have been helping my wonderful clients book some amazing vacations over the last 7 years I thought it would be great to get some face time with vendors and the folks at the host agency.  The week of training was really good.  Learned some new and better ways to doing some of the processes I currently use so keep your eyes open for those!  The training was well worth my time and money!

While I was at training Larry did some work around the house that we have put off while we have been traveling plus in got to play a lot of golf and spend some time on his own personal training.  Our little business is growing this year.  Larry has gotten more involved and booked a few cruises on his own, started a group for his 50th class reunion and helped me as he always has.  We also brought Josh (my youngest son) into the business so that we would have someone that could assist if needed while we are out traveling.  Josh has made a couple of bookings and has assisted Larry and I.  We also brought in a friend/client that wanted to start in the TA business, Kim Rabener in March who is having a great first year of booking cruises.  As a group we have grown the business this year and I can see next year being even better!

So then October snuck up on us and we had a back to back cruise with great friends booked on the Carnival Horizon.  A group of us met at the Yve Hotel in Miami pre cruise and then boarded the Carnival Horizon on October 28th.  The group took over about 20% of the Havana cabanas on the ship and I think everyone really enjoyed the Havana pool and bar.  This first leg of the cruise was a scheduled reunion for those of us that had been on NYC to Florida repositioning cruise of the then new ship the Carnival Vista from November 2016 cruise.  It was great traveling with the group again and catching up.  We hope to cruise again together and hopefully it won’t be 7 years the next time!  During this leg of the cruise we visited the ports of Aruba, Curacao, Amber Cove and La Romana.  Eight of us (Sharon, Michael, Tonia, Tom, Debbie, Harry, Larry and I) stayed on the ship for 6 more days and visitied the ports of Ocho Rios, Grand Cayman and Cozumel.  This part of the cruise was a bit quieter but we still enjoyed the Havana pool and bar.

Last week we boarded the Carnival Celebration with Frank, Judy, Charles, Josh, Larry and I for 7 relaxing days.  We had booked the Cruise Express bus by Yankee Trails out of Lady Lake for our transportation down to Miami for the day that the cruise departed.  We arrived to get on the bus at 6:15 and made it to the port of Miami about 12:30.  I’m not sure what the issue was but the traffic at the port was crazy, but we made it with plenty of time to get onboard.  We first dropped by our muster station to complete our muster drill requirement then headed up to deck 16 to drop off our carry on bags in the cabin.  For this cruise Larry and I were sharing a suite with Josh.  I really like the suites on the Excel Class ships.  We had plenty of room even for storage. Then we made a beeline for Big Chicken.  I’m trying to do a better job of eating gluten free so I opted for the grilled chicken with no bun.  If you haven’t had the opportunity to be on a ship with Big Chicken then let me tell you that you need to give me a call and let’s get you booked!  I love Guys but the Chicken is equally as good!  I’m a die hard early dining gal but on the Excel Class I prefer to do anytime dining so I can choose the other restaurant options.  During the cruise we ate at Pig and Anchor, ChiBang, Cucina and the main dining room, so it’s nice to have options only decision is when and where!  On this cruise we visited the ports of Cozumel, Costa Maya and Mahogany Bay.  Cozumel was a little rainy so we stayed on the ship, Costa Maya we got off and did some shopping at the port and at Mahogany Bay spent some time at the beach soaking up some sun.

I thought that would be the end of our traveling this year but… I booked the Mardi Gras for December 9th.  We will be joining Bill and Missy again (it’s really their fault!) and we will be heading back to Cozumel, Costa Maya and Mahogany Bay!  This time I’m going to remember my tennis shoes so I can ride Bolt!

Next year is looking pretty busy too!  In January Sharon and I are going to try out Virgin Voyages so stay tuned on our review!  Then in February we have our group that will be going to Hawaii on the Miracle.  In March we are headed back to Galveston to board the Jubilee, I’m so excited because Ben Gentry is the Piano Bar Entertainer! In April we have a back to back on the Vista the first 6 days are Larry’s 50th class reunion cruise then we will joined by Bill and Missy for an 8 day Southern Caribbean cruise. Larry and I will spend some time in May in Indiana and Hilton Head. Then in September we will head back to Indiana, then fly to NYC to board the Venezia for Bermuda cruise and then will fly to Europe for a bucket list cruise on NCL out of Italy, then back to Indiana to attend the Josh G and Danielle’s wedding. In November for Thanksgiving Larry and I are trying a Celebrity cruise  and will finish out the year by sailing on the Carnival Magic with Bill and Missy.

In 2025 we have a 14 day Journey’s cruise on Venezia out of Port Canaveral and then will be flying to Australia for a Great Barrier Reef and South Pacific cruise.  I am really excited to go to Fiji!  Still lots of time to book.

And of course we are already booking 2026!  Come join us!  Stay tuned for more!
















2 comments on “What a year of travel!

  1. Lene Tereyla on

    Yikes!!! So much to read. I got halfway through and will have to go back. Hope future blogs are shorter.

    Missy and Bill are Elite? Not a Carnival status, right? Must be casino?

    You’re having way too much fun!


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