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LittleMissMagic

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    Architecture, Photography, Disney
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  1. No. The mask thing just seems sort of counter-intuitive for a cruise ship scenario where people will be removing their masks to eat or drink, and to go swimming. Like do you wear a mask in a hot tub? Can you sit in a hot tub with strangers? Can you share a dining table with strangers? The mask is really the last of my worries - I'm having difficulty envisioning how people could maintain social distance on a cruise ship.
  2. Now... You may have noticed the orange flag flying on our balcony. The Shinglebells are huge Clemson football fans. And this was the week of College Football Playoffs. It happens every year, no matter the cruise line..... lots of Americans onboard want to watch College Football Playoffs, and the cruise line doesn't understand the great importance of this to their football-loving passengers. Earlier in the week they had played some college football games in the Aqua Theater, so I was really hoping that, you know, the two very important College Football Playoff games would be shown in the Aqua Theater. Nope. They announced earlier that the Clemson v. Ohio State game would be shown in Sabor. Great! We love Sabor. So Rachel went ahead and made us a dining reservation so that we'd have a spot to watch. Well..... it was 9 PM the last evening of the cruise, and it was very evident that the crew was ready to start cleaning. I guess they knew we were there to watch the game because we weren't even offered food from the menu. And then.... the most annoying thing that can happen.... NO AUDIO FOR THE GAME! Ughh!!! Why is this always a problem, Royal Caribbean??? I thought that since they had designated a location for game viewing that there would definitely be audio. We asked the staff, and they said they weren't able to change it. If you watched the Clemson V. Ohio State game, you'll know that was a really rough game to watch. Especially when you're relying on lip reading the ref's mouth to see what the call was. You'd think they could at least provide some closed captioning!! This is why we need to go on a Disney Cruise over Christmas - for the ESPN College Football Playoff coverage. College Football Playoffs by Victoria Shingleton, on Flickr They really could not wait to start cleaning up. I understand that they have a lot of work to do, but they still had a lot of guests sitting in this venue watching a scheduled event. After the game (We won - that game. Don't talk to me about the next CFP game. I'm still bitter.), Rachel and I decided to stay out a little bit longer. We went to good ole' Schooner Bar. While we were sipping on lavender martinis, we watched this crew take apart the Christmas tree. It was quite comical. They had roped off the area behind them, but they blocked off the exit to Sorrentos' by just placing a chair there. So people didn't understand the chair was actually a safety barrier and would walk past the chair, so the crew would say, "No! No! You can't go this way!" And the people would keep walking anyway because at that point the damage was done. So the crew would add more chairs to this barrier until eventually enough chairs completely blocked the exit. The entire act was very unsafe. Especially when they started getting higher - rather than bringing over a ladder or lift, these guys started climbing the tree to remove the branches (they got a lift over eventually). But maybe you can tell who I work for because the entire time I was watching this, all I could think was "This is Bad Show!!!!" The boxes, the crew disassembling decor while guests are still out and about and venues are open.... it's not a good look. Way to kill the magic. If there isn't time to remove the tree while guests are sleeping and venues are closed, then it's time to get a new scheduler. Atrium Tree Take-Down by Victoria Shingleton, on Flickr I hate that the last evening had to end with two "Bad Show" complaints because really this entire vacation was so great. My main critique to Royal is that on the last day, once you tip your evening wait staff (well, symbolically - we didn't do MDR), it's very clear that your cruise is over and now the priority is getting the ship ready for the next guests. That's not a good way to end a vacation! Keep the stage set until the venues close. Rachel and I grabbed some late night Sorrento's before going to bed. And the next morning we awoke in Port Canaveral! Cape Canaveral by Victoria Shingleton, on Flickr This was truly a great cruise. Overall it made me enjoy Royal Caribbean more. After our cruise last Christmas on Navigator of the Seas, I left unimpressed. However, I attribute this cruise being so great to my sister Rachel, who took charge of planning to give us an enjoyable experience that didn't feel like we were just being herded around like cattle on a megaship. I think having the Ultimate Dining Package (also kudos to Stove for working so hard to get that once onboard) and being able eat at specialty restaurants instead of in the main dining room (a menu which I am BORED of) was critical. Also, I didn't set foot in the Windjammer ONCE on the cruise, and that's something I'm thrilled about. Thanks so much for sailing along with us! Unfortunately, due to the current circumstances of the cruising industry, it looks like a 2020 Christmas Cruise may not be a possibility. However, we've been exploring other ways to vacation together as a family during the pandemic, so rest assured - the Shinglebells will be reunited again!
  3. Tonight we had another reservation for Chops Grille. This time we were seated outside on the Central Park patio area which is a very nice atmosphere. If it's not too cold or rainy, I'd recommend requesting the outdoor seating. First up, Ahi Tuna. Tuna Tartar by Victoria Shingleton, on Flickr Here's the crab cake, which was Mom's first course that night. Crab Cake by Victoria Shingleton, on Flickr And Rachel got the shrimp cocktail. Shrimp Cocktail by Victoria Shingleton, on Flickr I really like the Crispy Goat Cheese Salad. Crispy Goat Cheese Salad by Victoria Shingleton, on Flickr And then here's Rachel's Caesar salad... much more appetizing than the one in the main dining room. Caesar Salad by Victoria Shingleton, on Flickr Soup! Tomato Bisque - Tomato Bisque by Victoria Shingleton, on Flickr Tonight I ordered Filet Mignon. Filet Mignon by Victoria Shingleton, on Flickr Medium-rare - perfection! Filet Mignon Medium Rare by Victoria Shingleton, on Flickr But Rachel has some issues, man. EVERY TIME! It's not just this cruise. She always orders her steak medium-rare, but it's usually overdone. At one point she decided it's because I ordered my steak medium, but they would always bring me her medium-rare. So now I order medium-rare, but still her steaks are overdone. This time I got some photographic evidence... Filet Mignon Supposedly Medium Rare by Victoria Shingleton, on Flickr Again, they do a share-style for the sides... Sides to Share by Victoria Shingleton, on Flickr For dessert, Rachel asked our waiter if it would be possible to get the fried cheesecake from 150 Central Park (remember, we had to leave before dessert at 150 Central Park so we could make it to the Aqua Show). And he delivered!! I guess that made up for her overdone steak. Dessert by Victoria Shingleton, on Flickr The Warm Chocolate Cake - Dessert by Victoria Shingleton, on Flickr The New York Cheesecake, which we had all decided was the best dessert at Chops Grille the previous time we visited - Cheesecake by Victoria Shingleton, on Flickr Rachel said if she could tweak some things, she would've booked a second reservation for 150 Central Park (we didn't know we'd be rushed that night) instead of Chops Grille. But I didn't mind eating at Chops twice. And I really liked the outdoor seating.
  4. Last day of the cruise - such a bittersweet time! At Sea by Victoria Shingleton, on Flickr At Sea by Victoria Shingleton, on Flickr After lunch, we went up to the pool deck to squeeze in some more fun in the sun. Beach Pool by Victoria Shingleton, on Flickr Beach Pool by Victoria Shingleton, on Flickr And then time to get ready for dinner! Cruise Life by Victoria Shingleton, on Flickr Cruise Life by Victoria Shingleton, on Flickr Cruise Life by Victoria Shingleton, on Flickr
  5. Time for lunch! Finally, we got to try the teppanyaki grill side of Izumi. It was a sea day so table service lunch is included with the dining package. If you have the package, you can order anything from the teppanyaki menu, but if you're sitting at the grill and order sushi, it's an additional charge. Izumi by Victoria Shingleton, on Flickr Izumi by Victoria Shingleton, on Flickr Our chef was fun. It can get a little loud in there with all three grills going. Also, they all do pretty much the same schtick, so if you see one chef come out, then the next comes out, it's going to be mostly the same jokes (so maybe don't watch if you want to be surprised). Izumi by Victoria Shingleton, on Flickr Izumi by Victoria Shingleton, on Flickr Izumi by Victoria Shingleton, on Flickr Izumi by Victoria Shingleton, on Flickr Izumi by Victoria Shingleton, on Flickr Izumi by Victoria Shingleton, on Flickr Izumi by Victoria Shingleton, on Flickr The craziest thing happened - I caught egg in my mouth first try! I'll likely never be able to repeat that, so I need to be sure to brag right now. Izumi by Victoria Shingleton, on Flickr Izumi by Victoria Shingleton, on Flickr I ordered the Gyu, which is the beef, because you probably know me by now.... I'm a red meat-lover. It's very good. Teppanyaki is usually pretty consistent, so this is a safe bet for good food. Izumi by Victoria Shingleton, on Flickr And dessert! Mom tried the Sesame Balls since we'd already had the mochi when dining on the sushi side. Pretty interesting. Izumi by Victoria Shingleton, on Flickr
  6. Thank you! The photography was the only thing distracting me from the heat during that show!!
  7. Our typical vacations were cruising and Disney - both which may take awhile to return to the same caliber. This summer, after our Alaska cruise was canceled, we took a beach vacation. In the past, we'd rent out a condo in a high-rise in Destin, Florida, but we weren't comfortable with the idea of a populated beach and shared pool and amenities. So instead we booked a private home with a pool and a hot tub right on the water in New Port Richey, FL. Only left the house for groceries. It was almost like a cruise, except we weren't moving, and we had to cook our own meals (but better than MDR imo!!). We really enjoyed the privacy and not having any crowds. We're not so optimistic that cruising will return this year, so we're looking at this kind of alternative vacation for Christmas.... maybe someplace further south. Also, BF's passport was sent in for renewal in March, and we're still waiting to get that back....
  8. Time for a final number... finally. Aqua Show by Victoria Shingleton, on Flickr Aqua Show by Victoria Shingleton, on Flickr Aqua Show by Victoria Shingleton, on Flickr Okay, so overall consensus of the show is that it is 20-30 minutes too long. They need to do some edits and cut some of the nonsense filler content. I understand the divers need to rest and reposition, but I think it could be reworked with less downtime. Also, the narrative is very corny. They were kind of leaning into the cheesiness Deadman-style with silly graphics. But in my opinion, they didn't hit the satire sharply enough for it to overcome the exhausted storylines and low production cost. I would say ditch the silly costumes, storyline, and Big Daddy character and lean into the talent. Aqua Show by Victoria Shingleton, on Flickr
  9. Now the biggest issue I have with this is that the show's cast is made of skilled divers and acrobats. They are not dancers. So why do they dance so often?? Aqua Show by Victoria Shingleton, on Flickr Oh, great. Someone wearing a Tiki mask. Aqua Show by Victoria Shingleton, on Flickr If you're wondering who Big Daddy is, he's the guy in the green suit. He spends most of the show walking around flamboyantly and flashing his riches. He has a lot of diamonds, and at one point they do a number to "Diamonds are a Girls' Best Friend. Aqua Show by Victoria Shingleton, on Flickr Oh, yay - back to the water talent. Synchronized swimmers. Aqua Show by Victoria Shingleton, on Flickr Aqua Show by Victoria Shingleton, on Flickr The diving is my favorite. Obviously there has to be some lull in between because they dive down and then have to make their way back up, but I think they could work on pacing. Aqua Show by Victoria Shingleton, on Flickr So this part is strange. This guy is suspended from a rope dressed as a flamingo. They leave him up here for at least 10 minutes. Aqua Show by Victoria Shingleton, on Flickr Aqua Show by Victoria Shingleton, on Flickr The trampoline part is enjoyable. The crew dressed in yellow right now is the skilled divers/acrobats. Aqua Show by Victoria Shingleton, on Flickr Okay, so while Big Daddy was walking around like he owns the place (he does) and oggling women, a robber came and stole all of his diamonds. Aqua Show by Victoria Shingleton, on Flickr Time for some real high diving! Pay no mind to my dirty sensor, I've since cleaned it... Aqua Show by Victoria Shingleton, on Flickr Aqua Show by Victoria Shingleton, on Flickr Aqua Show by Victoria Shingleton, on Flickr Aqua Show by Victoria Shingleton, on Flickr Yay! Our hero caught the robber and got the diamonds back. Phew! I was really sweating that (literally sweating, remember). Aqua Show by Victoria Shingleton, on Flickr
  10. But it was time to get seats for the show. See the shadow pattern on the seating below.... this photo was taken while we were waiting in line for the rock wall. By the time we were done climbing, the shadow had lessened, and all of the shady spots were taken. Aqua Show by Victoria Shingleton, on Flickr So Rachel and I were forced to find a seat in the SWELTERING sun. It was so hot and uncomfortable. Abyss by Victoria Shingleton, on Flickr After staking out our seats in the aqua theater around 30 minute prior to showtime, we were already sweating. And then we had to endure an HOUR-LONG show!!! This is called "Big Daddy's Hideaway Heist," and let me tell you, it is strange. I think this takes place during the 50s... maybe the 60s. Basically Big Daddy owns a resort and has lots of money and lots of babes. It's just what you were hoping for in a show - classic sexist tropes. It started out with some slack rope which is certainly one of the most entertaining skills. Aqua Show by Victoria Shingleton, on Flickr Aqua Show by Victoria Shingleton, on Flickr Aqua Show by Victoria Shingleton, on Flickr Aqua Show by Victoria Shingleton, on Flickr That was cool. Great start. Maybe they should've ended it right there. Now it's time for this guy to come out and spin in circles twirling his skirt for an uncomfortably long period of time while these men who are certainly not of islander decent perform native dances. Cultural appropriation at its finest. Aqua Show by Victoria Shingleton, on Flickr Oh, thank goodness. He's done spinning... Aqua Show by Victoria Shingleton, on Flickr
  11. So Rachel went first. She was put on the right (I believe more difficult side), and I went right after her, so I wasn't able to get any photos of her climb. That is because she fell off the wall about halfway up, and they operate this pretty efficiently because once you fall, you're done. But, she was able to grab her phone and take photos of me. I made it to the first bell, rang it, and was like, "Okay, I'll come down, now." But Rachel yelled at me, "KEEP GOING!" Realizing my only way off the wall was to jump backwards and trust that the mechanical belay will engage, I decided that it was less nerve-wracking to keep climbing than to repel down. Untitled by Victoria Shingleton, on Flickr I was shaking the entire time. I don't have a lot of fears, but falling off a rock wall is one of them. But I made it! Untitled by Victoria Shingleton, on Flickr Now the most dreadful part..... repelling down! It was totally terrifying to take that faithful fall. The difference between the mechanical belay and a human person belaying you is that the mechanical belay has slack on the rope the entire time. It will not pull you up, and it will not engage unless you fall. A human belay can tell you, "Alright, come down," and start putting tension on the rope. (A human belay can also help pull you to the next rock if you're a little kid that needs help.) It's definitely more scary to belay than climb. Untitled by Victoria Shingleton, on Flickr I came down, still shaking and heart racing. So. Much. Adrenaline.
  12. Last day! Rachel and I had a fun and active morning planned. Sea Day by Victoria Shingleton, on Flickr At Sea by Victoria Shingleton, on Flickr At Sea by Victoria Shingleton, on Flickr We decided that we were going to tackle the rock climbing wall. It's been.... maybe a decade since I have attempted that. The last I remember scaling a wall on the back of the cruise ship was on Grandeur of the Seas when it was bumpy and windy, and the rock wall felt like it was completely over the ocean. I wasn't all the way to the top, but I looked back and had a mini panic attack. This was back when they used to have crew members belaying you (it's now mechanical), and I looked down at the crew member and said, "I want to come down." "You're almost at the top!" "No, I want to come down." "Keep going!!!" "I'M COMING DOWN!" And I repelled back off the wall. He was very annoyed at me for giving up. So, needless to say, I wasn't super excited about trying this again. Rock Wall by Victoria Shingleton, on Flickr Harmony of the Seas has not one, but two rock walls. Only one was being used when we went to climb in the morning. It was actually pretty popular - lots of people giving it a try. Rachel and I got our shoes and joined the line. Rock Wall by Victoria Shingleton, on Flickr The rock walls are above and on either side of the aqua theater. Our plan was to climb the wall, then go get seats for the aqua show that morning. Aqua Show by Victoria Shingleton, on Flickr Rock Wall by Victoria Shingleton, on Flickr
  13. But right now, I relate so much more to life-crisis Britney. That Britney is REAL!! (pssssttt... if you haven't already, go look up "Free Britney" - this is the act that ended her in a 12-year-long Conservatorship with her father)
  14. I think learning from a private instructor is the only way I would really learn to like it. I need time to figure things out and to fall and be able to get right back into it, rather than waiting in a line. I'm very intrigued by the private lessons they offer - maybe on another cruise, I'll convince Rachel and my dad to go in together with a group session.
  15. Yes! I used a braided steel coat security cable and just wrapped it around the GoPro base and the rail to secure it so if it falls, it doesn't fall far. This is the specific cable pack I have and use which I like because it's only 3mm in diameter, so easy to pack and manage - https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0778QRPBZ/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&linkCode=ll1&tag=victoonvaca04-20&linkId=be526c06064de271e3c5436c682aae5f&language=en_US Also, if you need more length, you can loop two or three cables together.
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