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SimplyMarvie

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  • Content Count

    98
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About SimplyMarvie

  • Rank
    Cool Cruiser

About Me

  • Location
    All Over
  • Interests
    While cruising: Food, photography, non-cruiseline excursions, sitting in a lounge chair and reading
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    I approach cruiselines like pokemon -- gotta try 'em all.
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call
    Caribbean and the Med. One day I'm gonna get to Pitcarin Island, though...

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  1. We're coming from warm weather to the cruise, and then on to MN, so we have to schlep the cold weather stuff... (We could send it, but we're coming from overseas, so that's cost prohibitive. I've considered just buying what the kids need from Goodwill when we get there, but we've tried that before and it was a hot mess -- no boots for one, no coats for two and an expensive bill to buy new for things we already had at home.)
  2. We're a weird data point because we're young (40s, with kids at home) and we're expats, but almost all of our trips are land-based. We try really hard to make the most of living in the places we've lived and getting the kids out to see the world as much as possible while they're still young and living at home, and we're pretty fearless about foreign countries and languages and things, because being somewhere that we don't know the language is pretty much the norm for us. That said, as my job is getting more stressful and my husband's work is also getting more intense, we find that we're mixing in more vacations where we're doing a little less intensive travel and where I don't have to do as much research and planning, which will probably bring us back to more cruises as time goes on. I don't think we'd ever switch over to cruising entirely, because there's too much of the world that just isn't accessible from a boat... but maybe we'll do more. This year we've done land vacations to Cyprus and Romania with the family (and Nepal, Sophia, Greece and the UK for the adults, for various reasons) and we'll cap it off with a Caribbean/Panama Canal cruise this winter. Next year we almost certainly won't cruise, and will take a long road trip around Israel and Jordan and then go to Africa on Safari... but the year after that we'd really like to make time for a transatlantic on our way home from our current overseas job, if the travel and timing Gods are kind.
  3. Our upcoming trip is 11 days in the Caribbean/Panama Canal for about $5000, for the 5 of us, in next-door outside cabins. That's less than $100 per person, per day, which covers transportation, a place to sleep, and most of our food. (And with two teenaged boys, that's not an inconsiderable expense!). Yeah, we'll spend extra money on excursions and drinks and whatever, but we would have spent that anywhere we vacationed so it's not fair to tally in up in the cruise column and not for other vacations. We actually budget those expenses separately from the "hard costs" of a trip anyway, so that when we're making these decisions we're comparing apples to apples. The closest comparison I can think of is when we were living in the Caribbean and went to all-inclusive resorts, we were paying $250-300 per night, and that was when the kids were small and traveled for free. It'd be double that now, because we'd need two rooms (and they'd probably make us pay the extra person fee for the third kid) so the price is in-line with what we'd pay there, or a bit less. And for that, we feel like we get a lot more transportation and opportunity than we would with a land-based all-inclusive. (We'd generally only stay for a long weekend there, because we'd get bored. Not a problem when you're in a different port every day...) So, is it the cheapest option in the world? Nope! But the value for a family vacation is there.
  4. Were there also hints and allegations? If you can call me Betty, can I call you Al?
  5. Remember, this is not the United States. Licensed and playing by the rules is a lot to ask for, especially in some of the places you're going. You could probably snag a cab in Grand Cayman and go to the Turtle Park or find someone to take you to 7 Mile Beach without too much trouble (although, IMHO, missing the sting rays in Cayman is just about criminal...) but you do not want to be trusting some guy with a bus in Jamaica, no way no how. Belize is similar in terms of safety profile and distance from the really interesting attractions. And I don't know... if you know what you want to do, it should be a matter of half an hour on Google to find a few organizers and get an idea of prices, options, etc. and then book something. It's your cruise and you can do it you way, but I would think it's better to set it up ahead of time. You have a limited amount of time in each port, and it's smaller than it seems after you deal with getting off the boat, etc. Do you really want to spend that time shopping for an excursion and dickering with cab drivers?
  6. Not just for cruises, but for travel in general we've adopted a family tradition of packing our bags early and then sitting in the foyer/entry way on top of our baggage for at least half an hour having a cup of coffee and breathing and emotionally preparing to go before we get in the cab and actually leave the house. EVERY SINGLE DANG TIME one of us has jumped up half way through our cup of coffee because we forgot to pack something completely essential and irreplaceable. That cup of coffee has saved lives and thousands of dollars, won't leave home without it now.
  7. They definitely seemed to be the done thing when we last cruised with Carnival in 2013. I'll probably let each of my kids pick one out because they're space cadets and putting their lanyard around their necks will keep them from losing their cards. Honestly, I don't mind wearing one and if I'm wearing a skirt with no pockets (uuugh...) or planning on swimming and not bringing a purse, they're handy to have. I'd be happy if someone provided me one in a gift bag since it's probably not something I'd think to bring myself.
  8. We're coming in from overseas for a cruise out of FLL, but are also going on to spend Christmas with the family. We're looking for somewhere to stay for 2-3 nights pre-cruise and 1-2 nights post-cruise. I'm wondering if anyone has ever encountered a hotel that would hold some of our luggage for the 10 days we're on the cruise so I don't have to schlep and store my winter coat and kids snow pants (which they'll need in MN, but probably not on the beach in Aruba) on board?
  9. We're living in Israel now. Honestly, I'd get Shekels from the nearest ATM when you get off the boat. While people will take dollars, the exchange rate they'll give you isn't great and not everyone is going to take them to begin with -- if you're in the Old City in Jerusalem, yes. In Haifa or Akko or Ashkelon, not so much. Credit cards are widely, widely accepted here and we rarely have problems using our US Cards... but when we do, it's nice to have the shekels to save the day. Also, if you're thinking about using taxis, download the GETT app (Israeli Uber, but with licensed taxis) before you arrive. Its so much easier and will avoid getting shaken down by unscrupulous drivers (particularly a problem in Jerusalem).
  10. We have those silicon expandable travel bottles that I can fill with our normal shampoo and some little pill-case sized ones so that I can bring all the creams and cleansers for my fancy Asian Skincare routine with me when I travel (It makes SO much difference...) We travel enough that I've ordered/found a travel size of all Mr. Marvie's shaving stuff, all my cosmetics (or a dupe, I'm not too picky), toothpaste, etc. and they all sit ready to grab and go in our closet so we're ready for adventure at a moment's notice. Also, I'm trying to reduce the amount of plastic we use, so the refillable bottles help with that.
  11. Check the travel.state.gov website for the countries you are transiting. If they require 6 months validity on your passport, it will say on the website. Don't trust what random people on the internet tell you they remember being the regs -- actually look them up for yourself. It'll save you no end of trouble.
  12. We ALWAYS do this. After one traumatic experience with more luggage than we could manage to move ourselves, I had a Scarlett O'Hara moment and swore I'd never over-pack again. Now one of our Family Rules (right up there with "wear shoes while moving furniture" and "never pass up a clean flush toilet") is to never bring more than you can comfortably carry. By the time disembarkation day comes around the fun part of the cruise is over, and hanging around is just killing time with nothing much going on and nowhere really to go. If we get off early we can either get on to the next adventure or sneak in something fun before we have to be off home. And there's not a lot about the ship that's more pleasant than the airport once breakfast is done.
  13. We left our 3 and 5 year olds in kids club on their first cruise while we were in Key West. We took a quick wander around, got some alligator bites and had a chill day. I'm not opposed to leaving them in kids club, but I think doing it in a foreign country when we were more than just a walk away from the pier would probably freak me out too much -- I totally admit that this is a personal problem, and that generally I'm way more free-range with my children than this. It's something about the international border that freaks me out.
  14. Buy a yacht and pay someone to sail it for me and someone else to cook and clean. Toodle around the Mediterranean for a bit... especially Croatia and the greek islands and the Turkish coast, with all that blue water and history. (Mr. Marvie and the kids could come with. Friends could join for a while. But I'm enough of an introvert that I'd be totally okay with it just being me, the crew and the sea...)
  15. The MoBay Scotchies is (sadly) a bit outside of Montego Bay, but deeeeeelicious. It was our favorite restaurant when we lived in Jamaica. 🙂 Dolphin's Cove is an option, but it's outside of Ocho Rios so it would be a drive. See if you can swing a day pass for the Jewel Runaway Bay, it would be fantastic for kids. They've got a great waterpark and their service is excellent.
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