Back to Back From Different Ports

Celebrity cruises

Celebrity Infinity

Lots of people take back to back cruises, often referred to as B2B. For anyone who flies to the port taking two cruises B2B means a cost savings on airline fees over doing the cruises at two separate times. If you stay in the same room on the same ship it’s easy. Just meet with the rest of the B2B folks at the time and place you’re told and they give you a new ship card for the next cruise and take everyone through customs quickly in a group just before boarding starts. There always seems to be a bit of a delay though due to one or two people who won’t get off the ship slowing down the process. Everyone has to wait until the stragglers get rounded up and sent on their way before B2B group can go through customs and get back on the ship.

lots of space

Our room on Celebrity Infinity – Inside Stateroom 3042

Meanwhile at the port officials anxiously await that zero count of passengers on the ship so they can send the B2B group through and the boarding process can begin. Then they can start to empty the crowded room full of restless people who all showed up long before the scheduled boarding time in hopes of getting on the ship just a little bit earlier, some of them not realizing how long it takes to get the previous batch off.

Sometimes people change rooms for the second leg of their B2B cruise. Moving to a different room means packing up and either taking your luggage to the new room or having a steward move it for you. If you let the steward at the new room know what’s up likely they will clean your new room as soon as the former occupants leave. It may be ready by the time you are required to be out of your first room, but if the steward is not there to open the door you won’t be able to get in until after passing through customs and obtaining your new room card.

cruise ship

Carnival Ecstasy

We recently tried a different approach to a B2B.  While ending one cruise and starting another the same day, not only did we not have the same cabin, we switched to a different ship from a different cruiseline at a different port.

Our 17- Day Panama Canal Cruise on Celebrity Infinity started in San Francisco and worked its way down the coast to Panama where it spent a day cruising through the canal. Once on the Caribbean side it sailed to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Though a hurricane had passed through the area just days before, the storm moved north several days ahead of us and had no effect on our itinerary and none other than weather on the ports. Our weather wasn’t bad, just cooler and cloudier than usual in a couple places. We had pretty smooth sailing the whole way so we got quite lucky as some cruise ships in the area a few days earlier had itinerary changes to avoid the hurricane. Some experienced rough seas and sadly a cargo ship was lost. The short 4-day cruise on the Ecstasy went back to the Caribbean where the aftermath of the hurricane was evident with some rainy weather and in Cozumel the normally crystal clear water had large amounts of broken bits of seaweed floating near the shore.

bigger than average cruise ship cabin

Our room on Carnival Ecstasy – Porthole Cabin R4

When disembarking a cruise ship passengers can choose to leave their luggage outside their cabin the night before where the crew will take it off the ship. Guests then pick it up in the port so they don’t have to carry it off the ship. Each person has a number assigned to disembark when it is called. Luggage is put out in batches according to those numbers. Others take the self-assist route and bring their own luggage off the ship with them. There is a third option for people with late planes to catch where they can take an excursion on their way to the airport and pick their luggage up there. Sometimes there is also a luggage express service offered that will deliver luggage directly to the airport without taking an excursion on the way. A fleet of taxis await any disembarking passengers who have not made arrangements for other transportation.

cruise ship launderette

after 17 days on a ship without them we went straight to Ecstasy’s self-serve laundry shortly after boarding

We took the self-assist route, which gives most people their earliest disembarking option since carrying your luggage with you means there is no wait for luggage to get put out in the port. People always gather as close as they can to the exit and line up long before the time to leave actually starts because that’s just how people are. They can actually slow down the disembarkation process if too many of them get in the way so ship’s crew does everything they can to keep passengers somewhere else. They can’t let anyone off until the ship clears customs. Once disembarkation started the Infinity’s lines moved fairly quickly and lines at customs hadn’t had time to gather many people yet so the whole process went quite a bit faster than we expected. We climbed into a waiting taxi and thought we may arrive in Miami before the doors even opened to let people into the port building.

An accident closing the express lanes and a traffic jam on the remaining freeway made for a long trip from Fort Lauderdale to Miami. We arrived while the ship was still disembarking, but after the doors to let arriving passengers in had opened so we did get to wait for embarkation inside the port rather than standing outside. The port had free wifi and since we had internet only occasionally in ports on the Infinity cruise we made use of the time to catch up on things.

Once all the departing guests leave the ship and it gets clearance for new guests to board they pile on in droves. Carnival Ecstasy had a couple weddings scheduled so those people got on first as they had limited time until all the non-sailing wedding guests had to leave. Passengers with priority boarding got on next, with the masses following close on their heels.

Carnival Conquest

cruise ship leaving Miami

It would have been much easier if the two ships were in the same port so we could just walk over from one ship to the next. The two ports are close enough to get from one to the other in between disembarkation from the first one and the end of the embarkation time for the second. Taking two cruises in a row from different ports worked out since ships arrive in the morning and leave late afternoon or evening.

Of course one can’t help but make comparisons when going straight from one ship to another. There are always things that are better and things that are worse on any ship. On the Infinity we loved the no smoking anywhere indoors policy and the indoor pool. The Ecstasy had water slides and launderettes.

Copyright My Cruise Stories 2016
Posted in Carnival, Celebrity, Ecstasy, Infinity, Shipboard Life, USA | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Things to do in Monterey

tender port

Tender in Monterey on the way back to the Infinity

Celebrity Infinity anchored in Monterey, California outside the marina in Monterey Bay. A short tender ride brought passengers to a floating dock with a ramp up to the pier. Passengers exit the tender right into Fisherman’s Wharf, one of Monterey’s tourist attractions. Buildings that once housed a wholesale fish market in Monterey’s sardine fishing heyday now have all sorts of cute little shops. Many contain restaurants, others things like souvenir or candy shops. One had a taffy machine where they made their own homemade taffy.

Shore excursions from the ship are an option in any port, but in Monterey there is plenty to do for any passengers who prefer to venture out on their own.

Monterey, California

Fisherman’s Wharf

One of the first buildings we passed offered whale watching tours. The little booth next to it had glass bottom boat rides for just $15. All along the pier signs in front of one shop or another offered whale watching or other boat tours for $40 or less.

At the end of the pier a left turn leads to the current commercial fishing pier. In the land area around the port locals had booths selling all sorts of things in Custom House Plaza on the day of our visit. Custom House near the land entry to the port was the first government building in California.  The plaza also has other historical buildings and a museum.

beach trail

trail from Fisherman’s Wharf to Cannery Row

A right turn at the end of the pier leads to a paved trail where once a railroad line ran to Cannery Row. A scenic walk down that path next to the shoreline brought us past rocks covered in harbor seals, cormorants, and seagulls. Another little cove had a rock pile covered in squabbling terns. Soon we came to a park where many scuba divers got ready to dive at world renowned San Carlos beach. The park also had a public restroom. Just beyond the park we came to Cannery Row.

beachside park

divers in the park getting ready to dive

This area where once canneries processed sardines now holds numerous tourist oriented shops and restaurants. Some rent things like diving gear, bicycles, kayaks or little pedal cars that can hold two people or a whole family. Guided tours are another option for kayaking in the bay. Walking down the street leads to numerous choices of things to do.

Monterey Bay

Sea Lions and Cormorants

We had thought about going to the famous Monterey Aquarium, but when we saw the line to get in snaking up the block we changed our minds and went back to the wharf for the glass bottom boat ride instead. If someone really wanted to see the aquarium they could probably bypass that line by taking a shore excursion from the ship that included a visit there.

cheap tour

Glass Bottom Boat named Little Mermaid at Fisherman’s Wharf

The glass bottomed boat took us out to see the sea lions on the breakwater and sea otters near the kelp beds. Then it skimmed slowly over kelp so passengers could look through the glass windows in the center of the craft. The water looked emerald green that day. Mostly we saw kelp, but now and then small fish swam into view.

Monterey Bay

seaweed and reflections of people in the glass bottom of the boat

Back on the pier at Fisherman’s wharf several little restaurants had free clam chowder samples. We tried a couple of them. One tasted very good and the other not so much.  I guess that just goes to show it’s a good idea to try before you buy a bowl clam chowder for lunch.

tourist attractions

Cannery Row

Cannery row has all manner of touristy things now, but in the past the canneries there canned sardines caught by commercial fishermen in the bay. The first cannery opened in 1902. Increased demand for canned sardines during World War 1 brought expansion with many new canneries opening up from 1916-1918. Two were destroyed in a 1924 fire from an explosion caused by lightning striking petroleum tanks. The canneries kept people employed through the depression era, turning sardines into fish meal and fertilizer. The industry expanded again from 1941-1945 during the second world war. John Steinback’s novel about the area called Cannery Row came out in 1945. The name Cannery Row was officially adopted 12 years later on what had formerly been called Ocean View Avenue.

things to do in Monterey

fun for rent on Cannery Row

By the 1950’s the heavily overfished bay ran out of sardines, shutting down the industry. Within a few years entrepreneurs started opening restaurants in former warehouses and in 1968 the Sardine Factory restaurant was the first in what is now restaurant row in the old canneries.

marine mammals

Sea Otter, Sea Lion, and Cormorants

It took nearly 40 years for sardines to return to the bay. The return of the fish brought a return of fishermen and another population decline leading to at least a temporary closure of the fishery. They do say that those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

Copyright My Cruise Stories 2016
Posted in Celebrity, Infinity, Port Cities, Ports of Call, USA | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Snorkeling with Tarpon at Grand Cayman

cruise ship at anchor

Carnival Splendor in Spotts Bay

Carnival Splendor approached Grand Cayman early one stormy November morning. Normally cruise ships visiting Grand Cayman anchor at Georgetown. With rain pouring down so heavily the area where ships anchor could not be seen from the nearby town and seas too stormy for tendering, the captain had two choices – move to the other side of the island or skip the port stop. He chose a safer anchorage in Spotts Bay.

Once the ship anchored safely, the announcement was made over the ship’s intercom system followed by a list of canceled shore excursions. Anything involving water would not happen that day. We had no official excursion scheduled, but had planned on snorkeling with tarpon in Georgetown.

Grand Cayman Island beach

beach at Spotts Bay

We took our time over breakfast in the Lido with other guests we had met on our first leg of the back to back cruise. The rain lightened up and eventually slowed to a light sprinkle. We decided we might as well take the tender to shore and if nothing else at least just take some photos and come back. Back at the room while getting ready we threw our snorkels and swimsuits in a backpack almost as an afterthought just in case.

By the time we met up with our friends and got to shore the rain had stopped. Soon the sun came out. Even before leaving the ship we could see a couple other ships on the other side of the island. They arrived later after the weather calmed down. Three ships total is not many ships for Grand Cayman, so either this was a really slow day or the rest of the ships that would have been there opted not to stop.

self-shading picnic table

trees growing through a very long picnic table

Spotts Bay had a tender pier in an area behind a chain link fence and not much else. It looked mainly like a residential area, with some pretty nice homes visible from the water. The beach near the dock had sand on the shore, but at the water’s edge the limestone formations most prolific near Hell lined the entire beach. An information booth and a couple large picnic tables with trees growing through them seemed like the only permanent structures there. Just outside the fence several local booths on trailers had set up to sell their wares and a number of vans and small buses waited to taxi passengers to Georgetown for $5 each.

interesting stores

inside Big Black Dick’s rum store (now called Blackbeard’s)

By then the clouds had vanished and the sun had started to shine brightly so we decided to go to Georgetown. A guy with a sign for Diamonds International said he had free rides for customers, or at least people who would look around the store. I’d have gone with that. Looking at jewelry for a free ride to town worked for me. Some of the people I was with did not want to walk too far if he meant the store on the side of town farthest from where we wanted to go so we went with the $5 bus instead. The bus passed a DI right near our goal and let us out in a little parking lot by the sea near the center of town, which was OK because one of our group wanted to visit the Big Black Dick’s rum store near where the bus let us off.  We had not heard of that store before, but apparently a lot of people from the ships go there. They have their own brand of rum and hot sauce and quite a following of people wanting their products. Since that trip they have changed their name to Blackbeard’s. They also have free rum cake samples from a booth on the outside of the store.

where to go in Grand Cayman

Paradise Restaurant

When anchored at Georgetown, whether you tender to the north or south dock, after reaching the sidewalk take a right and just walk down the street next to the water to get to the tarpon. One of Disney’s ships and Celebrity Reflections loomed large next to shore, the island tenders busily shuttling their passengers back and forth. After a short walk we reached Paradise Restaurant. This waterfront restaurant sits next to a tiny marine park. On shore it consists of a sign and a stairway to the sea. In the water it has a free snorkel area right at the shore. People from the restaurant feed the tarpon several times a day so they hang out right next to the shore there. Lots of smaller more colorful fish swim about just past where the tarpon like to stay.

big fish


It’s free to use the marine park if you have your own snorkel gear. If not you can rent some just outside of the Paradise Restaurant. They also have lockers available and beach chairs for rent in an area next to the water as well. There’s restrooms inside the restaurant. Outside next to the snorkel rentals and lockers they have a dressing room/broom closet. They let us change in it for free, but since we neither bought food nor rented anything we gave the girl there a tip.

tarpon at Grand Cayman

tarpon swimming through the bubbles

One of our new friends sat at a table outside near the entrance to the marine park while the other 3 of us went in the water. The waves had calmed enough from the morning’s storm that other people were snorkeling out there. Getting in was a bit tricky as some sizeable waves would come crashing over the stairway. Timing it to enter as they receded worked to get in without getting dashed against the stairway or limestone formations at the water’s edge.

tropical fish

Sergeant Majors

Near shore where the tarpon hang out the water stayed fairly murky as waves constantly dashed over the shore and washed into the sea with a mess of bubbles and floaty bits of sand and things. Out a bit the water was calmer and clearer. I thought the snorkeling there was pretty easy, but the others bailed to shore fairly quickly. I came in soon after so they wouldn’t all have to just sit there waiting for me. Coming back in I worried about my camera getting dashed against the rock or cement stairs when a large wave raced toward shore. Knowing I could not get out quickly enough to avoid the wave with my underwater camera hanging from the wrist of my good arm, I held it up out of the water and  wrapped the other arm around the stairway railing while the huge wave crashed overhead. I still had the mask and snorkel on so as long as nothing bashed into the stairway or rocks a wave washing over me was not a concern. It receded and I got out before the next wave came in. On a calmer day getting in and out of the water there would be much easier and the water far more clear.

Snorkeling with Tarpon Video

We were glad that the weather calmed down enough to have a chance to swim with the tarpon, something we had wanted to do ever since our last visit to Grand Cayman when we discovered them while walking around town after taking an island tour.

tile art

Guy Harvey Picture

Nearby the tarpon on the other side of the street the famous fish painting artist Guy Harvey has a shop.  My husband loves his work and so does one of our friends so we went in to have a look.  You can get his paintings on canvas or tile as well as on belts or t-shirts.  I got a small tile painting of a sea turtle and some fish that hangs on my living room wall and reminds me of snorkeling in the Caribbean every time I look at it. We did not have to carry it with us. They shipped it to our home.

Grand Cayman tarpon

tarpon up close

Grand Cayman is a popular cruise ship port so it has a lot of options to choose from for things to do. Besides island tours the locals have taxis to Seven Mile beach. When the ship anchors in Georgetown the tenders dock downtown and as soon as you walk to shore you can find people with signs offering tours or rides. There’s also a number of shore excursions to choose from on the ship. On our first visit we went snorkeling over the Kittiwake shortly after a hurricane moved it slightly from the position where it had originally been sunk not long before.  Now that several years have passed it would be fun to go there again and see how much sea life has grown on the sunken ship.

Copyright My Cruise Stories 2016
Posted in Caribbean, Carnival, Ports of Call, Splendor | Tagged , , , , , , | 5 Comments

The Melbourne Adventure

cruise ships docked

Legend in Melbourne

Before our Australian cruise on the Carnival Legend our daughter, Sheri, asked other Australians what is good to do in Melbourne with kids. She got a lot of recommendations for Science Works. On the map it didn’t look too far from the cruise ship port. Getting off the boat we stopped by the information desk. They had brochures with suggestions for places to go that passengers could get to on their own, none of which included Science Works. The map showed a free tram loop in the city. The free zone did not extend all the way to the port. The kind lady there showed us where to go on the maps to find Science Works and recommended buying the myki pass, which covers busses, trains and trams. After looking at the line inside the port building, which probably had over 100 people in it, she said we could avoid the que by walking to the end of the dock and out to the tram station where we would find a nearby store that sold the public transportation passes.

Melbourne public transportation

light rail tram in Melbourne

That bit of advice saved us a lot of time as there were only a few people in line at the store. With passes in hand we walked to the platform just in time to watch the waiting tram pull away. Another one quickly took its place at the end-of-the-line stop at the port. We boarded the empty tram along with a few other passengers that had not gotten steered onto busses while walking down the dock.

Melbourne trains

Southern Cross Train Station

A few other people got on at stops here and there, but the tram did not get overly full as we rode it to a stop near Southern Cross Station.  From that large busy urban station we caught a train to Spotswood. Exiting the train at the tiny suburban station far from the touristy area of town, we walked through an industrial area following the signs to Science Works.

small train station

Spotswood Train Station

We guessed that Science Works probably wasn’t on the tourist maps because people unfamiliar with public transportation could easily get lost trying to get there. Some might feel scared or uncomfortable in the deserted train station or walking through the somewhat rundown industrial area. Other than a few people standing outside a factory on their break we did not see anyone along the way.

unexpected science

Hot molten glass bottles whizzing by on some sort of conveyer

Passing by a factory that made new bottles from recycled glass we caught a glimpse through some open window slats of orange glowing molten bottles whizzing down a chute. It looked pretty interesting so we stopped to watch for a few minutes.

Melborne Science Works

Science Works

The end of that street came to a crossroad with a sign pointing the way to science works. Looking in the direction the arrow pointed we saw the building itself. The base fee to get in was $12, with several extra exhibits for additional fees. We just did the regular one, which had more than enough things to entertain the grandkids until they were ready to go back to the ship for lunch. Exhibits included things like ideas for a greener planet, past and future transportation, health and fitness, and space. Many of the exhibits were interactive. The kids had quite a good time.

interactive video game

wheelchair race

In this interactive wheelchair race exhibit the kids spin the wheels to move their onscreen racer.

indoor snowboard

Hannah tries snowboarding

Hannah tried new sports like snowboarding and rock climbing.  They also had exhibits for the mind, some about health, and some about the environment.  Some had futuristic possibilities and others items from the past whether real or imagined.

star trek transporter

beam me up Scotty

On the walk back to the train station we wondered if the factory across the street from the glass works was abandoned or not. The building looked old and run down. It had no cars in the car park (parking lot). However industrial type noises seemed to emit from one end of the very large building, and a new looking big square green metal box that could have housed a generator or other sort of working equipment sat just outside that end of the building. Perhaps a much smaller enterprise had moved into one end of an otherwise empty building once occupied by a larger company.

I'll huff and I'll puff

3 little pigs demonstrate construction techniques

We got seats on the train easily enough, but the tram back to the ship had standing room only and not much of that. A few people exited and entered at stops along the way, but the majority stayed on all the way to the port, going either to the Legend like us or to Celebrity Solstice, which someone said had come from New Zealand.

Science Works, Melborne Australia

Sheri, Daniel, and Hannah play a mind game at Science Works

After returning to the ship we had lunch and the kids went to Camp Carnival. We went back out to explore the area near the ship. A trail for walking, jogging, or biking paralleled the beach for quite a distance. Warning signs said the beach had strong currents and uneven ground.  We saw a few people on the sand, but nobody in the water.

rent these

bikes for rent

Not far from the ship we came across a row of bikes next to the path. For just $2.90, people can rent a bike to ride around the city. No more money accrues for half an hour. If the rider stops and returns the bike at other stations within that time they can keep checking out other bikes at no additional charge as long as each segment of the journey takes less then half an hour, with a minimum 5 minute stop before picking up the next bike. Apparently they want to make it easy for tourists to use the bikes to visit shops or the cafés Melborne is famous for.

touring Melbourne on your own

John tries out the rental bike

The pathway, beach, and a nearby pier offered a number of places to photograph the ship.  Sheri went off for a jog, John rented a bike, and I walked out to the end of the pier.  There were two cruise ships within site and no crowd.  People passed by on the trail now and then, but not constantly.  A lady had her dog out for a walk on the beach and a few people were fishing from the pier. A one-legged seagull sat on the railing about halfway to the end of the pier.

this dock went out pretty far

one legged seagull on the fishing pier

Ship’s excursions are always an option in any port, but in Melbourne getting around on your own is pretty easy. I don’t think any other passengers went to Science Works like we did though.

Copyright My Cruise Stories 2016
Posted in Australia, Carnival, Legend, Ports of Call | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Halifax, Nova Scotia

Port of Halifax

Veendam in Halifax

Our first Canadian stop on the Canada/New England cruise on Holland America‘s Veendam came at Halifax, Nova Scotia.  Everywhere on this cruise was new to me as I had never been to the northeast before and to me going to Canada has always meant British Columbia.  We didn’t book any excursions for this port, opting instead to just get off the ship and walk around on our own as pre-cruise online research showed this port had quite a lot within walking distance of the dock.

Halifax boardwalk

old train car by the cruise dock

Halifax had free wifi at the port and quite a few souvenir shops right where you get off the boat.  I found the wifi at all the ports too slow for my very slow old netbook travel computer, but it worked OK with the iphone (kept in airplane mode to avoid unwanted charges.) My aunt’s ipad worked fine there too.

boardwalk in Halifax

Halifax waterfront boardwalk

A walkway running along the waterfront from the pier takes passengers to a variety of things to do.  Even some things way out of the ordinary.  My uncle found a passenger list of the ship my grandfather’s family arrived in Canada from England on when my grandfather was just a child at an immigrations office near where the ship docked at the port.

flowering tree

magnolia tree at the public garden

Along the boardwalk you can find all sorts of things to do. The hop-on hop-off bus people hand out maps right near the exit from the cruise port to the boardwalk which can come in handy whether you want to walk for free or pay to ride their bus. Along the boardwalk there are things to see and do. Plaques and statues give some insight to the history of the area. At the start of our journey we first passed an old train car right next to the building you go through getting off the ship. Nearby there’s a farmer’s market that has lots of local maple products and other things as well as cooked food people can buy to eat there. All along the boardwalk we saw shops, food stands, and tourist attractions.

boat at the pier

Boat in Halifax

We found one place where we could take photos of the ship from the boardwalk and another selling tickets to the harbor hopper amphibious vehicle that goes from land to sea. We saw a boat with a booth out front saying you could get tickets to ride it for $5, which we might have done except there was nobody there.

Canadian delicacy

poutine anyone?

Among the shops on the pier we saw a snack shack where brave souls can try the Canadian specialty poutine (French fries with cheese curds and gravy.) I’m guessing it’s an acquired taste as it did not look appetizing to me. Also probably an eastern Canadian thing because I’ve never heard of it before or seen any such thing in B.C. and it apparently originated in Quebec.  The poutine shack also had some with meat, but that didn’t look any more appealing.

a place for kids to play

playground on the boardwalk

If you walk far enough down the boardwalk you’ll come to a playground, great for people sailing with small children. There’s also a maritime museum and a visitor’s center along the way. At the end of it there’s a casino.

charming little house

miniature house by a creek at the public garden

With a map it’s easy to find the public garden, and there are other attractions within walking distance like the Citadel.

historic churches

old churches

My aunt and I walked down the boardwalk to the ferry terminal and then followed the bus map up to the garden. On the way there we passed several beautiful old churches with tall intricate steeple spires.  Old churches are always one of the best representations of an era’s architecture.

tree in bloom

flowering cherry tree at the public garden

The garden had a lot of things similar to the Pacific Northwest, but blooming later as the daffodils and flowering cherry trees were in full bloom in Halifax while at home the early spring flowers were long gone before our May cruise.  The northeast had a harsh winter and late snowmelt that year so spring came later than normal to the region.

interesting plants

tree with fuzzy little things that looked like pussywillows

They had some other things in bloom as well like magnolia trees, hyacinths, and something that looked like dogwood. Also a tree with white flowers and some fuzzy little pods that resembled pussy willows.

is it a fountain without water?

dry fountain

Like the boardwalk and a park we walked through later, the garden had statues, plaques, and other historical monuments. Many of the plants were either still in their winter dormant stage at mid-May, or just starting to bud. None of the fountains had water going. Perhaps those get turned on later in the season.

old style architecture

Halifax has lots of interesting old homes

If you wander off on your own in Halifax it’s pretty easy to find your way back to the ship. Just head toward the water and eventually either come out at the boardwalk or somewhere where you can see the ship.  We took a random route on whatever streets had the most interesting looking buildings and ended up at a park near the dock.


daffodils at the public garden

Whether choosing to tour Halifax on foot or taking a paid tour, there’s lots to see. We even saw a group of people riding segways down the boardwalk, probably on an excursion from the ship.


Gazebo in Halifax Public Garden

Copyright My Cruise Stories 2016
Posted in Canada, Holland America, Port Cities, Ports of Call, Veendam | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Unique Staterooms on Carnival Breeze

Breeze in Grand Cayman

Carnival Breeze

All the big cruise ships have a variety of stateroom categories. The basic divisions include suites, veranda, ocean view and interior cabins. Each category has their starting level price for particular rooms and then differing levels within each category where the rooms get more expensive as they are deemed better for one reason or another. Suite prices go up as the rooms get bigger and bigger. Other staterooms vary more in price within their base category due to location on the ship than size. Rooms on the lowest passenger decks and farthest from the middle usually cost the least, with prices increasing as you get higher in the ship and closer to the center of each deck.

Accessible Stateroom

Accessible Interior Cabin 7342. Notice the extra-wide door and low mailbox placement

Carnival Breeze has plenty of ordinary staterooms, but it also has its share of odd and unusual cabins. To see the usual array of rooms click here. For the out-of-the ordinary cabins, keep reading.


cruise ship deck plan

Deck 2 – note larger cabins at the stern same color as those around them

Checking out the deck plans before booking your cruise can help you not only to find that one special cabin, but also to make sure you choose one in a location you prefer whether that means a quiet area or close to the action.

odd shaped cabin

L-shaped aft Deluxe Ocean View Cabin 2485 is bigger than other cabins in the same category

Here and there you find special rooms, some in a category of their own like the spa cabins, which cost more than regular cabins of their type because of the perks that come with them. Others just happen to be the odd room at the end of the row or along a curve of the ship that has more space, a bigger balcony, or some other feature that sets it apart from all the other rooms that cost the same.

its the perks

Special Spa Products come with Spa Cabins

Spa cabins differ from others partly in their location near the spa, but mostly because of the amenities and perks that come with them.  Guests in spa cabins have slippers, spa products, and special robes and towels provided for them.  They get unlimited use of the thermal suite and both priority on spa appointments and exclusive deals on spa treatments.

a uniqe room

Accessible Ocean Suite 7270

Grand suites are bigger than the other suites. Other categories include ocean and junior suites.  Breeze has just one accessible ocean suite so it’s a very unique room.

big veranda

balcony of aft premium vista balcony room 7458

In the back corners of the ship a few wrap-around balcony cabins delight the lucky occupant with extra large verandas and views in more than one direction. While these rooms have a category of their own and cost extra, the ones right next door at the end of the long side of the hallway have a different configuration of the room giving them extra large balconies with the same stateroom classification as the ordinary balcony room on their other side.

odd shaped rooms

Junior Suite 9206, bow corner deck 9

Another room type with a category of their own for just a couple rooms is the junior suites at the corners of the bow of deck 9.

special cruise ship cabins

accessible inside room with window 7208, bow deck 7

Decks 6, 7, 9, and 10 have a row of rooms across the bow that book as inside rooms though they each have a window. While at the top of the price levels for interior rooms, they cost less than ocean view and yet are practically balcony cabins with access at either end of the hallway to a door to the outside deck in front of these rooms. These are public decks, but seldom used so there aren’t hordes of people outside the window. Usually none at all except when the ship leaves port or has something else of particular interest to see. The railing on the bow area obscures the view from the lower half of the window, but the upper half has a panoramic view. These rooms are no bigger than other inside cabins.

cabin with portholes

Porthole Stateroom 1219

Portholes make another way to get a view at inside cabin prices. Again not the cheapest of interior rooms, but a bargain compared to ocean view. These cabins have two fully-functional portholes with covers the steward may close in excessively stormy weather. It’s not the sweeping view you get through a full-sized window, but enough to let light in the room and to have a peek at what’s outside – which can be spray from the waves at times.

porthole view

ledge in front of the portholes with 2 weeks of towel animals

The biggest bonus in these rooms is the size as they are about as big as ocean view rooms.  The biggest drawback is that in rough waters you can both feel and hear the ship pounding through the waves.  Sometimes it sounds and feels like bouncing over drifting logs. I’ve had porthole rooms twice and would still book them again in spite of a couple rough nights on the last one. Some ships have a lot of porthole rooms, but on the Breeze they are in short supply. One more added bonus, the ledge in front of the porthole adds an extra space to put things.

cove balcony

Cove Balcony from cabin 2285

Breeze has cove balcony cabins on deck 2. These close to the water balconies have a metal framework around them and a storm proof door that seals the room off from the balcony in rough weather. The view is through a large opening in the metal rather than fully open across the outside like verandas on higher level rooms.

bigger and easier to use

bathroom from wheelchair accessible room

Wheelchair accessible rooms are scattered about the ship and can be found somewhere in each of the major room types. These tend to be at the bigger end of room size for their category. They have wider doors than other rooms and lower placement of things like the mailbox and clothesline. Bigger bathrooms containing big showers with flat entries, handrails, and a fold down shower seat make for easier use by the intended occupants.

traveling with family

deluxe ocean view cabin 1393 sleeps 5

If traveling with a family or other group of people it’s nice to know the Breeze has a few 5-person rooms.  These deluxe ocean view cabins have two drop-down bunks and a couch that converts to a bed as well as the usual two beds that can be apart or together.  Having five people in a room could be a problem with just one bathroom, but these cabins have two.

great for extra people

extra bathroom in the deluxe ocean view cabins

One bathroom has a toilet, sink, and shower while the other contains a small bathtub and a sink. All the deluxe ocean view cabins have the extra bathroom regardless of the amount of people they hold. While this feature is an awesome addition when traveling with extra people, for rooms that hold just two most people would probably rather have left the spare bathroom out and had more floor space and a lower price as regular (not deluxe) ocean view cabins on the Breeze are rare.

a door makes two cabins one

connecting cabins 7382 and 7384

Connecting rooms make another helpful room configuration for families.  Some staterooms have connecting doors to the cabin next door.  Each side has a door which remains locked when separate parties stay in each room, and can be unlocked when parties traveling together want direct access from one room to the other.

good for singles

interior upper lower room 2203 has a couch that converts to a bed instead of a bunk

Solo cruisers or passengers on a tight budget might like the interior upper/lower rooms since these are the lowest priced cabins on the ship. Most have one bed and a drop-down bunk, but there are some at the bow of deck 2 with one bed and a couch that converts to a bed instead.

portable crib on cruise ship

ships have portable cribs for the youngest cruisers

Sometimes it isn’t a special room you need so much as a special accessory. When traveling with infants or toddlers it’s nice to know that cruise ships have portable cribs.

bigger stateroom

ocean view cabin 2493 is one of the odd shaped rooms at the stern corner

Staterooms on other cruise ships:

Breeze (regular rooms)DivinaEcstasyInfinity,   Legend, Liberty, Pearl, Splendor, Veendam, Westerdam, Wilderness Adventurer

Copyright My Cruise Stories 2016
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Reflections of 2015

christmas ornament ships

2 new ship model ornaments to add to my collection this year – the Infinity and the Ecstasy. (I already had Breeze and Legend didn’t have any.) Veendam didn’t have any either, but my aunt had a lovely ornament made for me from one of her photos.

Happy New Year Everyone! I hope the new year brings good things to all and fine adventures to the travelers.

ship model ornaments

Ecstasy and Infinity in their packages


2015 was my best cruising year so far with 5 cruise adventures taking place throughout the year. Our cruising year started early with a month-long February trip to Australia. We visited our daughter and her family who live there and took a one week cruise to Tasmania out of Sydney on Carnival Legend with my daughter and her kids.

cruise ship docked in Quebec

Veendam in Quebec City

May brought an early-season cruise to the northeast with a couple aunts and an uncle on Holland America Veendam. After a couple days touring Boston we boarded the ship for a cruise to Maine and Canada, ending at Quebec City.

Celebrity Infinity

Infinity in Columbia

In September my husband and I set out for 35 days of cruising to celebrate our 35th anniversary, which we spent transiting the Panama Canal on Celebrity Infinity. We had never sailed with Celebrity before so we got to try out a new line as well as a different ship. We boarded the Infinity in San Francisco and spent 17 days cruising to Fort Lauderdale. After disembarking we hopped in a cab for a slow and tedious traffic nightmare journey to Miami. It took about twice as long to get there as it should, but we still arrived well before time to board Carnival Ecstasy for a short 4-day cruise.

Carnival Breeze

Breeze in St. Kitts

We had one night to spend in Miami, but the motel we had booked near the cruise dock had plumbing issues and they took us to another they owned far from the port, which turned out to be the same place we had stayed several years earlier. Next morning we boarded Carnival Breeze for back to back Caribbean cruises totaling 14 days and the grand total of 35 days of cruising.

2015 In The Blog

2015 was a very busy year for My Cruise Stories blog. Besides adding cruises from 4 new ships over the course of the year, the blog had plenty already going on. Of course new towel animals and recipes appear from time to time. 2015 brought about the conclusion of the Cruise Ship Doctor series. Other adventures that saw their final post in 2015 included the MSC Divina Caribbean cruise and the Un-Cruise Adventures Wilderness Adventurer beer-themed cruise in Washington State, with the final episode published in October.

Meanwhile tales of the Carnival Splendor had pretty much just gotten started at the beginning of the year. The first leg of the back to back cruise got covered in 2015, but the second has yet to be revealed so there are plenty of posts left from the Splendor for 2016.

2015 On a Personal Note

This was the first time I was able to take so many trips because 2015 was my first full year without an outside job. I used to be a press-brake operator in a sheet metal shop so I had limited vacation time. After breaking my arm at the elbow joint in 2014, trying to keep working there led to back issues and a knee injury so I left my job that summer to regain my health. Things are going much better for me healthwise now other than having a bit of skin cancer removed last spring. While the arm will never regain full strength or range of motion and two of my fingers would like to be one, it could have been a lot worse. I’m working on losing the weight gained during that time, but have to be careful because while both my back and knee are much better than they were, exercise makes my back feel better and my knee feel worse.

fishing tackle

glow mono spreader light rig with water activated light

We’ve expanded our product lines on our internet fishing tackle business to include new items like King Kandy. Besides selling tackle now I actually make some sometimes and even invented my own product – the monospreader light rig – by adding an underwater light into one of my husband’s product designs, the Brite Bite glow monospreader. Both versions are available at, one of our fishing tackle websites. Also at, a site that I rebuilt this past winter so we could move it to a new host. At the Alaskan fishing lodge where they tested the prototype they couldn’t keep the fish off it and I had to send more because all the guests wanted to fish with something that had a fish on it as fast as they could get it into the water. Monospreaders catch bottomfish like halibut. The fishing line attaches to the plain swivel, lead weight to the corkscrew swivel, and bait on the hook.

cruise ship in Panama Canal

Infinity Entering Locks at the Panama Canal

Looking Forward to 2016

2016 looks like another good cruising year. I have a transpacific, an Alaskan cruise, a cruise in Europe, and a transatlantic booked so lots of interesting new adventures coming up for the blog. Two of them are on cruise lines I haven’t tried before, P&O and Princess. It’s always fun to branch out and try different ships and see new places, though familiar ones like Alaska or the Caribbean are lovely too.

Copyright My Cruise Stories 2016
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Staterooms on Carnival Ecstasy

Carnival cruise ship

Ecstasy in Key West

Carnival Ecstasy has several different stateroom categories ranging from spacious suites to money-saving inside cabins.  The showers have dispensers with shampoo and shower gel and bars of soap are provided. Beds in most staterooms can be set apart as twins or together as one bed. The ship has a couple launderettes which come in handy for anyone with clothes they want to wash, dry, or iron. Some cabins are wheelchair accessible with wider doors and lower placement of things people need to reach like the mailbox and clothesline.


Suites are larger than other cabins and come with VIP check-in.

biggest cruise ship cabin

Grand Suite room U94

Grand Suites are the biggest staterooms on board.  Some have extended balconies.  Some grand suites are available with connecting rooms or space to sleep 5.  There is even a wheelchair accessible grand suite in room #U69.

cruise ship suite

Junior Suite room V18

Junior suites sleep up to 3 people.  These suites have balconies and more interior space than regular staterooms.  Some have obstructed views from the balcony, which means a lower price for the room.

Balcony Cabins

Balcony staterooms have glass doors out onto a veranda for a sea view and a bit of private outdoor space.

really big balcony

Extended balcony from the Grand Suite

Aft View Extended Balcony cabins sleep up to 3 people.  These rooms across the stern of the ship offer a view of the wake and of where the ship has been from their extra-large balconies. Balcony cabins each have a private veranda.  Some balcony cabins sleep up to 4 people.  Some have connecting rooms or accessible features.

Ocean View Cabins

ocean view stateroom

Ocean View Cabin M60

Ocean view staterooms have picture windows for a view of the sea. Some sleep up to 5 guests. For bigger families some have connecting doors to the next room. These doors remain locked unless the same party has booked both rooms and wants to have passage between them. You can also find wheelchair accessible rooms in the ocean view category.

Interior Cabins

Inside cabins are the most affordable accommodations on the ship.  Many people book them for the cost savings, but some book them for the convenience of darkness for sleeping at any time of day.

a bit of a view

Porthole Cabin M22

Porthole cabins book as interior, but have two portholes to provide daylight in the room and a bit of a view giving guests the advantage of the economy of an inside room while still having small windows.  These fully functional portholes have covers which the stewards can close in stormy weather.  Although many of the porthole cabins are as big or bigger than ocean view cabins they sleep just two guests.

inside stateroom

Interior stateroom has a curtain with a light over it, but no window behind the curtain

Interior Staterooms sleep anywhere from 2 to 5 guests. Some inside rooms have connecting cabins and some are wheelchair accessible.

economical cruise ship cabin

Interior Upper/Lower Room R52

Interior Upper/Lower staterooms are the smallest and most economical rooms on the ship.  These cabins are great for singles and can sleep up to 2 people.  These rooms have one twin bed and either a fold-down bunk or sofa bed.

old style cruise ship bunks

One bunk is down, but the bulky frame of the other bunk over the bed takes up a lot of space

The majority of passengers sail two to a cabin, but sometimes more people share the same space. Many cabins only hold two people, but some have bunks and/or trundle beds or couches that convert to beds.  Some of the Ecstasy’s cabins hold up to 5 people with two bunks and a trundle bed. If you are traveling with just two people look for a room that only holds two. The bunks on the Ecstasy are in a bulky wooden frame along the wall rather than dropping from the ceiling as they do on newer ships so if you don’t need them they are just taking up space in the room.

portable crib on cruise ship

portable crib for the youngest cruise ship passengers

While there are no permanent beds for babies in any cabin, the ship is equipped with portable cribs that can be set up in a cabin as needed for very young cruisers.

Click links below to see cabins on other cruise ships:

BreezeBreeze odd cabinsDivinaInfinityLegendLibertyPearlSplendorVeendamWesterdamWilderness Adventurer
Copyright My Cruise Stories 2015
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How to Make a Towel Yoda

yoda in full robe

Towel Yoda with bath towel robe

How to Fold a Towel Yoda

Supplies Needed to Make Towel Yoda

towel Yoda

My first Yoda made for facebook in 2012

1 Green Hand Towel

1 Green Bath Towel

1 Brown Bath Towel or Brown Hand Towel

2 Paper Eyes

How to Fold a Towel Yoda Head

towel origami

make sure both ends of the towel hang evenly

Hang the center of one long edge of the green hand towel over a wall hook or tuck it under your chin. Make sure both sides hang evenly.

towel art

Roll both sides at the same time making them as tight as possible. The other hand should be even with the one shown, but it had the camera.

Tightly roll both hanging edges to the center.

towel creations

put towel rolled side down

Set the rolled towel down on a hard surface rolled side down.

step by step towel folding directions

roll towel starting from the wide end

Tightly roll towel from the wide end.

how to fold a towel animal

tuck the pointed end between the rolls and shape the ears and it looks like Yoda

Tuck pointed end between the two rolls. Shape the ends sticking out each side into Yoda ears.

How to Fold a Towel Yoda Body

how to fold towel animals

roll both ends of bath towel to the center

Tightly roll both ends of green bath towel to the center from the short ends.

how to make towel creations

pull the tips out of the center of each roll and fold rolled towel in half

Pull out the tips from the center of each roll at both ends. Fold towel in half with rolls to the outside.

the art of towel folding

Pull both sides at once. There would be a hand on the other side, but it’s on the camera.

Take the tips from both ends of one roll in one hand and the other roll in the other hand. Pull both sides at once until it forms a body. If you can’t pull both sides all the way at the same time you can finish them one roll at a time.

how to make towel animals

towel body in sitting position

Place the towel body into a sitting position.

Finishing Towel Yoda

towel Yoda

Finished towel Yoda with robe from hand towel

Drape the brown towel over it like a robe. Use a bath towel if you want a long draping robe and the hand towel if you want more of the body to show. Set the head on the body and add the eyes. Use double stick tape to keep the eyes in place. Position Yoda as desired.

For step-by-step towel animal folding instructions with photos for many other towel animals, please visit My Cruise Stories towel animal page.

Copyright My Cruise Stories 2016
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Cruise Ship Cabins on Celebrity Infinity

cruise ship at anchor

Infinity in Cabo

The infinity has several classes of suites. All suites include personal butler service, priority check-in, debarkation and tender, access to the Suites-only Michael’s Club Lounge and Luminae dining room, and ipod docking stations.

very fancy cruise ship suite

Foyer at the penthouse makes a grand entry into the suite – room 6147

At 1432 square feet, the penthouse suite is bigger than my house, which would pretty much fit on the 1098 foot veranda. This suite has all the comforts of home and then some. It comes with a baby grand piano, full-sized refrigerator, and the option of in-suite meals and afternoon tea served in the suite’s very own dining room as well as unlimited access to the ship’s specialty restaurants.

sweet suite

Royal Suite balcony has comfy furniture and private whirlpool – room 6141

The 538 square foot Royal Suite comes with many of the same amenities as the penthouse suite including private whirlpool tubs both in the bathroom and on the veranda as well as complimentary in-suite cappuccino, espresso and internet.

fancy suite

The spacious Celebrity Suite has separate living area and bedroom – room 8104

The 467 square foot Celebrity suites come with many of the privileges of the bigger suites like a bottle of wine and daily fresh fruit platters. Guests in these suites get one or two complimentary dinners in the ship’s specialty restaurants depending the length of the cruise.

cruise ship accommodations

Sky Suite comes with extra perks for suite guests – room 6132

The 251 square foot Sky Suites may not have as much space as the Celebrity suites, but they come with about the same amenities. Some Sky Suites are accessible with roll-in showers rather than tubs.

high class stateroom

Aqua Class room comes with spa privledges – room 9100

195 square foot Aqua Class staterooms have private verandas, free access to the Persian Garden aromatherapy in the spa, extra bathroom amenities, priority check-in, and their own restaurant, Blu, which serves lighter and healthier food than the regular cruise ship fare.

healthier eating

Blu Restaurant for the Aqua Class Guests

191 foot Concierge Class staterooms also have priority check in. These rooms include concierge service, seating time preferences for the dining room and specialty restaurants, expanded room service menu, and afternoon savories delivered to the room. Accessible Concierge Class rooms are 334 square feet and equipped with roll-in showers.

cruise ship cabins

Veranda Stateroom 7172

Veranda Staterooms come in three styles – Family, accessible, and regular. The 271 foot family cabin has a 242 square foot balcony and a divider between the bedroom and living room areas. The 272 foot accessible veranda cabins have roll-in showers and a 38 square foot balcony. The regular veranda rooms are 170 square feet with a 38 square foot balcony.

room with a view

Ocean View Stateroom

Ocean View staterooms have 170 square feet of space and a view of the sea. Accessible ocean view cabins are 381 square feet with roll-in showers.

lots of space

Inside Stateroom 3042

Inside rooms are pretty spacious.  At 170 square feet these have just as much room as the regular ocean view or veranda cabins. Accessible inside rooms are 240 square feet with roll-in showers.  Some staterooms have drop-down bunks in the ceiling which are lowered when more than 2 guests share a room.  Cribs are available on request.

drop down bunks add sleeping space

Inside cabin with one bunk down

The stateroom stewards came by to introduce themselves on the first day and when they said if there is anything you need just ask they meant it because a request for more hangers had them at my door within minutes.

ship bathrooms are called the head

bathroom in Celebrity suite

The doors and walls in the cabin are magnetic. Room amenities include shampoo, conditioner, hand lotion, soap, shower cap, and a box labeled essential vanity pack with a couple packets containing a couple cotton balls and q-tips and a tiny nail file.

inside cruise ship closet

the two bars at the back of the closet near the bottom of the picture pull down for more hanging space

The closet has a set of pull-down bars for a second hanging space, one on each side so either one or both people can have double rows to hang their things if desired.

kitchen or butler's pantry

penthouse has full sized refrigerator

We received a surprise email shortly before the cruise saying that the upper decks boarded first and the lower ones didn’t get on until close to the end of boarding time. As this was our first cruise with Celebrity I don’t know if this is their general practice or if it was specific to that cruise or that port.

cruise ship accommodations

Bedroom in Celebrity Suite

Staterooms on other cruise ships:  Breeze, Breeze odd cabins, Divina, Ecstasy, Legend, Liberty, Pearl, Splendor, Veendam, Westerdam, Wilderness Adventurer

Copyright My Cruise Stories 2015
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