csp, family, travel

Carnival Horizon Southern Caribbean Day 9

This morning I woke up at 4:40 am for some reason and couldn’t get back to sleep. We went to breakfast at Meridian at 6:30 am. We had been given instructions where to wait to be called for debarkation. Last night we all discussed and agreed that we would carry our own luggage off the ship so we could leave the ship earlier than if we let the porters take our luggage. So after breakfast CSP parked me on deck 5 by Pixels (the photo shop) and brought up the luggage to wait. We had been told that debarkation would begin at 7:45 for Diamond & Platinum passengers and that they would start calling us by our muster stations.

We were seated on deck 5 by 7:30 am, listening for the announcement. 7:45 came and went. Then 8. 8:15. 8:30. 8:45. We are restless and thirsty and ready to go!!! NO announcement. Finally at 9 am they called for Diamond, Platinum, and A4. That’s us! A4! Meanwhile my parents had a different muster station and were camped out elsewhere on the ship. We took the elevator down to deck 3 to debark, but everything was shut off- doors closed. One of the guys in our elevator group opened one of the closed doors and we made our way through a restaurant to the debarkation area on deck 3, hauling all our luggage btw. As soon as we reached the open doors to debark the Carnival peeps shut down one of the debarkation lines! So we all had to file out in one line. And let me tell you, there were a LOT more people in that lobby than just Diamond, Platinum, or A4! It felt like all of humanity was crowded into that lobby!

We made it off the ship, down the gangway, and into the terminal. We took a turn and were just following everyone else when we just stopped. The line halted. No idea why. We couldn’t see anything from where we stood. Just a looooong line ahead of us as well as behind us. We stayed that for over 20 minutes. Then finally, movement! We had to take the elevator downstairs so we had to wait a few minutes in that line. Then we made it to the luggage area. Along with everyone else’s luggage! We were so delayed in our debarkation that we could have had the porters carry off our luggage anyway!!! UGH!!! Instead we’re schlepping our suitcases, CPAP machines, and tote bags like a couple of punks!

Thanks to facial recognition we made it through customs in no time and were outside. CSP said to me “This is different. Where are we??” I stopped an official looking man and asked where was parking deck G, where we had parked- directly across from the terminal 9 days ago?? He took one look at us with all our luggage and said “Oh you’re gonna need an Uber. Parking deck G is a mile and a half that way!” WHAT?!?! We could not believe that Carnival would pick us up at one terminal, causing everyone to park in G, and drop us off at another terminal a mile and a half away!!! Assanine!!!

Meanwhile, my parents were still stuck in the line on the ship. There was an island with benches and giant planters in the middle of the road we were standing on. Keep in mind 4000 people are filing out of the doors behind us and 4000 people are coming straight at us as they were starting to try to board the ship! So CSP parked me and all the luggage next to a planter that I could lean on in the road island and took off on foot to find our car. My parents found me shortly thereafter. At this point it’s just past 9:30 am. Almost 2 hours after we were supposed to start the debarkation process. And we were in the middle of a very busy road with the sun beating down on us. It took CSP an hour and a half (!!!) to get back to us with the car! Everyone that had parked in parking deck G was trying to leave at the same time, so he had to sit through that line, then circle the car back to us. Finally at just past 11 am we drove away from the terminal.

Talk about leaving a sour taste in your mouth at the end of a nice vacation!!! CSP and I decided we will never cruise Carnival again. There was just no communication or order on Carnival’s end and we followed all their rules, so it should have gone more smoothly. It was a logistical nightmare!

On the way out of Miami we spotted the Hard Rock Hotel at Seminole. It’s shaped like a guitar! So cool!

Luckily today was Sunday so we didn’t have much traffic to speak of. We stopped at a great Mexican place for lunch in Rockledge, FL and Buc-ee’s for gas and drinks later. We dropped my father & Mimi off at their house in SC and finally pulled into our driveway at 2 am Monday morning! By this time I’d been awake almost 24 hours and driving for most of it.

Even though the trip ended on a sour note with debarkation, we had a great time and are super grateful to my father and Mimi for treating us! We made wonderful memories together!

csp, family, fun, travel

Carnival Horizon Southern Caribbean Day 8

Today is another day at sea- our last full day of this cruise. We went to breakfast at Meridian. It’s a v cool restaurant. Two levels.

After breakfast we went back to our room to get ready for the day and start organizing everything since we have to pack today. Around noon we stopped back by Pig & Anchor so CSP could get another one of their fabulous Bloody Marys. It’s a drink AND a snack!

We found seats in the Ocean Plaza on deck 5 for General Knowledge Trivia.

My head is full of useless and trivial information but we didn’t do so well! We only got 11 out of 20 correct! DOH!

For lunch we went to JiJi Mongolian Wok. While we were seated at our table we could hear what sounded like a thundering herd above us. I pulled up the ship map on my phone and we found out that JiJi is directly under the basketball court!

JiJi says it’s a build your own stir fry bowl place on the app but in reality you choose from premade mixes that they wok up for you. Also you have to bring your own beverage unless you want water or alcohol.

For instance I asked for no peas and they couldn’t accommodate me because it’s premade (according to our server). I had the shrimp stir fry and CSP got the steak broth. I wish I’d had gotten the broth. Who knew it was like ramen? My stir fry had no sauce or flavor, but CSP loved his dish.

Then we went back down to the lido deck for gelato for me and a slice of cake for CSP. On the way to our room to pack CSP picked up a cheeseburger at Guy’s burger joint. CSP said it was his favorite thing he ate all week! It did look yummy! We went back to our room to shower and get ready for our last dinner, plus pack a bit.

Dinner was back at Reflection.

As you can see, CSP was wearing a hoodie and NOT into dressing for dinner tonight! We chatted with our service team for a bit before we went back to our room. Darwin was leaving the next day to go home to the Philippines for 3 months and had 23 hours of flying ahead of him! Bless!

We have a very early start tomorrow so we finished packing and went right to bed!

Tomorrow: debarkation & the trip home!

csp, family, fun, travel

Carnival Horizon Southern Caribbean Day 7

This morning CSP & I had breakfast at Meridian.

After breakfast we went back to the room to get ready for the day. Luckily I was able to finally get in touch with my father & Mimi, who had fallen asleep when they boarded the ship yesterday afternoon and slept through dinner. Not kidnapped! Huzzah!

We wandered around the ship for a while and stopped in the candy shop called Cherry on Top to see if they carried my favorite, albeit hard to find, candy- gummy grapefruit slices. Unfortunately they didn’t. Whomp whomp.

We had lunch at the Pig and Anchor on deck 5.

They have a buffet set up outside in the sun’s core, but you can eat inside. Lots of beef and pork. Neither of us were impressed with the food, but CSP LOVED his Bloody Mary!

The decor is neat too and I love the country music they have playing. While CSP was at the buffet a man tried to sit down with me at our booth and have his lunch! That was interesting!

It was another beautiful day so after lunch we decided to sit out on the Promenade Deck (deck 5) in the shade and enjoy a shared slice of yummy cheesecake that CSP got from the coffee shop.

We could hear Andy from the Fun Squad leading a group in Fresh Prince of BelAir trivia. I played along and did horribly. It was SO nice out except for the family of smokers to our right who were smoking in a NON smoking area and THROWING their cigarette butts overboard!!! I was shocked an appalled! There are signs everywhere not to throw things into the (already over polluted) ocean but they shouldn’t have to even tell you that! Just be a decent human and don’t litter!!! Ugh I loathe litterers!!!

Tonight was another fancy dress up night for dinner. CSP refused to wear pants though and snuck into the dining room really quickly so he wouldn’t be noticed. Ha!

You can’t tell from this photo but CSP is wearing shorts to Fancy night!

Tonight was lobster night!

Back to the room after dinner.

Tomorrow- another fun day at sea!

csp, family, fun, travel

Carnival Horizon Southern Caribbean Day 6

Today we woke up early (6:30 am!) to get ready for our day in Aruba! We went up to the Lido Deck for the breakfast buffet and on the way back saw the coolest thing! The housekeeping staff had created dozens and dozens of towel animals on the deck chairs and around the pool!

CSP & I got off the ship and walked to Diamonds International, our prearranged meeting place with the dude from Speed car rental. He came and found us and gave us our Jeep Compass for the day. We then picked up my father and Mimi and took off for Ling and Son’s grocery store. Such a nice store! We bought loads of apples and carrots and water (the water was for us). Then we hit the road for the Donkey Sanctuary! CSP & I arranged today to thank my father and Mimi for treating us to this cruise and we all had so much fun! First up was a treacherous roundabout with 4 lanes going around it! I was driving and frankly, we are all lucky to be alive!!! But we miraculously made it to the donkey sanctuary.

At the sanctuary you park then go through a gate and walk to the visitors’ center where you can be in the shade and feed the donkeys. Each of us grabbed a bag of carrots and a bag of apples and we set off for the visitors’ center. A donkey decided to pick off the smallest of our crowd and set his eyes on Mimi (she’s only 5 feet tall). He followed her all the way to the center grabbing at her carrots and apples the whole way! It was hilarious hearing her try to shoo him away!

Not only does the sanctuary house and care for over 130 donkeys, they have chickens (and tiny baby chicks!!!) and peacocks! I was in heaven! It was yet another gorgeous day and we all had the best time feeding and loving on the animals.

CSP & the donkeys. Note tripod on the far left. My heart!!!
Tripod gets a carrot
My father & Mimi feeding donkeys

When we were finished at the Donkey Sanctuary we got back into the car to head to Chapel Alto Vista. On the way there we saw a mama chicken and her 3 teeny tiny baby chicks crossing the road. They were like 3 wee cotton balls bumbling across the road! My heart was in my throat watching the whole scene! But they made it! Whew! Then we came across a big family of goats in the road, including a baby!

It’s wild in those Aruba streets I tell you! We stopped at Alto Vista Chapel. It’s so beautiful.

A sweet dog who found shade in the chapel.

When we left the chapel we drove back to Oranjestad to find a place for lunch. We happened upon Gostoso. We pulled over and looked it up to find great reviews so we gave it a try. It was sooo good! I should have taken pictures. Also, it is home to the narrowest, tiniest restroom I’ve ever been in!

After lunch we dropped my father & Mimi off at a farmer’s market while we filled the car up with gas and returned it. We boarded the ship and went up to the coffee shop so CSP could get a coffee. We went back to the room to get ready for dinner. Dinner was back in Reflection and we waited and waited for my parents but they never arrived for dinner! I texted Mimi on the Carnival HUB app, but got no response. Back in our room after dinner I called their room, but no answer! Were they still in Aruba?? Were they kidnapped?? Did they miss the ship?? We will find out tomorrow!

Side note- the Horizon is really easy to get around. Lots of you are here ship maps by the elevators so you really can’t get lost even though it’s a huge ship (at least to us). The crew and all of the passengers we’ve encountered have been really friendly!

Tomorrow is a sea day!

csp, family, food, fun, travel

Carnival Horizon Southern Caribbean Day 5

Breakfast with a view

This morning we woke up and went to breakfast at Meridian, which is in the back of the ship. We had a table next to a big window (and a ton of high chairs!) which was nice. There was a loud talking lady behind CSP who was a major expert on Bonaire without ever having been there! She was so loud talking that we could barely talk amongst ourselves. Sigh.

Today’s homepage of the Carnival HUB app.

After breakfast we went back to our room and got ready for the day. We docked in Bonaire at 1pm ish. By 2 pm we were on the island. We walked into town, the capital Kralendijk. It’s sooo pretty!

We went to Karel’s and tried their conch fritters. So yummy! CSP had a Polar beer and I had a cocktail called Yellow Bird. Wooo! They sure do pour their drinks strong in Bonaire! One and done for me! We sat on the deck part that’s over the water and it was such a gorgeous day again today! It was so relaxing. There are pigeons all over the place begging for food. They are NOT scared of people! They cracked me up. AND there was a dude snorkeling just off the dock. Bonaire is world famous for scuba diving and snorkeling and this guy chooses the area right beside a beach bar??

Snorkeling in town!

After Karel’s we walked around Kralendijk for a while, just exploring. We went to Luciano’s where CSP got a coffee and we shared a delicious warm waffle with a scoop of chocolate and sea salt ice cream on top. They served it with the tiniest little fork and spoon. So precious!

We really like Bonaire- it’s clean and safe and no one bothers you. Highly recommend! We walked back to the ship. The Horizon is a HUGE ship! Over 4000 passengers! It’s the biggest ship we’ve ever cruised on. You don’t realize how big it is until you’re standing next to it and you feel like a tiny bug!

People look like ants next to the ship!

We got showered and dressed for dinner. After dinner we went back to the room and to bed early because we have an early day tomorrow in Aruba!!!

csp, family, fun, travel

Carnival Horizon Southern Caribbean Day 4

Today we are in La Romana in the Dominican Republic! This morning we had breakfast at the Lido Marketplace buffet on deck 10. Then we went up on a higher deck to get a look at La Romana.

CSP decided he’d rather stay on the ship today so we went back up to deck 15 and the Serenity area to see if we could score another clamshell lounger. We were in luck and it was another gorgeous day today!!!

We spent most of the day up on deck in our clamshell lounging, relaxing, and reading. I finished my book Reminders of Him by Colleen Hoover. Later we got a snack on deck 10 then went back to our room to shower and get ready for dinner.

CSP was rushing me to hurry up and get to dinner on time. We walked up to the restaurant and the doors were closed! What?!? Then I looked at the clock on the wall. It said 5 o’clock. Dinner starts at 6! We were an HOUR early because my phone and watch had both automatically changed to local time instead of ship’s time! DOH! The whole ship’s time vs real time thing is more confusing than it should be!

To kill time we explored the ship a bit.

Pixels- where you go get your ship photos printed
Pig & Anchor on Deck 5.
Pig & Anchor on the left, Pixels on the right
The smart elevator kiosk. You choose your location & it tells you which elevator to ride.
I like how they have the deck # on the carpet so you don’t get lost.

We went up to deck 5 Promenade and the coffee shop where J got a coffee and some chocolate covered strawberries for us.

so yummy!!!

Tonight at dinner Jon had a salmon cake and I had fried chicken. Our server team consisted of Rocky (who’s been with Carnival for over 20 years!!!), Darwin (his assistant), and Lemuel (the bread and butter man). They were all great and gave excellent service! At dinner we found out from my parents that there was a lazy river on La Romana! I LOVE a lazy river! Dang it CSP for wanting to stay on the ship!

Our hallway to our room
Our room
They even decorate the panels next to our door

After dinner we went back to the room and changed clothes then went back up to Serenity and read in a clamshell lounger. Except CSP couldn’t find his phone. We looked everywhere around the lounger and he went back to the room. He came back up empty handed. I got up to help him find the phone and DOH! I’d been laying on it! Ha!!!

The big screen tv by the pool. Showing Wakanda Forever.

Tomorrow: Bonaire!!! I promise we get off the ship!

csp, family, travel

Carnival Horizon Southern Caribbean Day 3

Today we are in Amber Cove, Dominican Republic! It’s a GORGEOUS day!!! We woke up and went to breakfast at Meridian. They sat us at a table for 2 and when we sat down, to our delight, we noticed we were seated next to Jennifer from Texas again!!! What are the odds?? We had a great chat over breakfast then CSP & I went back to our room to change clothes and get ready for our day.

We went down to deck 0 to disembark for the day and when the elevator doors opened the lobby was PACKED with people!!! And the line was NOT moving. I asked a lady in line what was going on. She’d been in line for 15 minutes without moving. Then the cruise director came on over the PA and explained that another ship was currently docking next to us so disembarkation on our ship was halted until the other ship was finished docking. Well my trick knee won’t let me stand in one place for that long so we went up to the Serenity adults only area to wait it out. We scored one of those round loungers with a clamshell roof type thing and climbed in and started reading our books. CSP then decided he didn’t want to get off the ship today so we just hung out up on deck 15 in the Serenity area until about 1 pm.

At about 1 pm we went down to the Lido deck buffet for lunch. They have great gelato! After lunch we went back to our room for a nap then showers and getting ready for dinner.

Dinner tonight was back at Reflection on deck 3. The menu tonight was pretty nondescript, so no pics.

CSP cheesing at dinner

After dinner we went back to the room where CSP watched tv and I read until bedtime.

I love the towel animals!

Tomorrow: La Romana in the Dominican Republic!!!

csp, family, travel

Carnival Horizon Southern Caribbean Day 2

We slept in late today because we were both exhausted from traveling. We went to brunch at the Meridian restaurant where we were seated at a table for 2 that was V close to another table for 2. There was a couple at that table and the man turned to us and said “Since they basically seated us all at the same table, I’m Wayne.” He and his wife Jennifer are from Texas and are v nice people!

After brunch we went back to the room to get ready for the day, then up to Guest Services to tell them about our ruined suitcase. The line was much more manageable today and Guest Services was super nice about the whole thing. I showed them the pictures of the suitcase and CSP asked for duct tape. They said they didn’t have duct tape but instead would replace the suitcase! We were not expecting that!

We then stopped by the deli on deck 10 for sandwiches then down to my father & Mimi’s room to pick up a pair of pants for CSP. CSP refused to pack pants! Punk! And there are 2, count em, 2 dress up nights for dinner on this cruise! And I ALWAYS dress for dinner! Next time I’m auditing his suitcase! We visited with my parents for a bit then went back up to our room for showers and to get ready for formal night. While we were getting ready, Guest Services called, then they sent a nice lady up to our room with a replacement suitcase for us. Such good service!!! They even took the broken one away.

After last night’s dinner debacle, my parents changed our dining schedule from any time dining to early dinner at 6 pm. So tonight’s dinner was in the Reflections restaurant on deck 3. CSP had barramundi and I had jumbo shrimp. Below: the only 2 pictures I took all day long! I can’t believe I only took 2 photos ALL DAY!!!

CSP & my father
Me & Mimi

After dinner we stopped by Guest Services AGAIN (we need frequent flyer cards for guest services at this point) to dispute a charge from a bar at 10 am this morning, when we were still asleep! They were v nice about it and removed the charge no problem! Back to the room where we read for a while then went to bed.

Tomorrow: Amber Cove, Dominican Republic!

csp, family, travel

Carnival Horizon Southern Caribbean Day 1

Today we drove from Melbourne, Florida to the port of Miami. Yesterday we drove from home to pick up my father & his wife Mimi in SC, then on to the hotel in Melbourne (with an obligatory stop at Buc-ee’s of course). Melbourne to Miami should have taken 2.5 hours. It took 4 hours due to wrecks and horrific traffic on I95. We got to the port, parked, and went through the boarding process. At one point they had a group of us line up against a wall while a drug sniffing dog went down the row of us, sniffing us out to see if we were packing! I’ve never experienced that! The boarding process was smooth and efficient and in no time we were onboard the Carnival Horizon!

Once we got on board, CSP & I went to our room to drop off our carryon bags. We met Gede our room steward. SO nice!!! CSP immediately began the search for electrical outlets next to the bed for our CPAP machines. There were none. A quick tour of our room.

Nice large tv. Door behind it is to the bathroom.
The vanity& closet area. Only one small drawer in vanity area and half of it is taken up by small hairdryer that can’t be removed. 3 drawers and 2 shelves in closet. Plus a safe.
CSP looking for outlets.
Bath with shower. Shower gel and shampoo are provided.
Lots of shelves in bathroom.

So we went up to the Lido deck (deck 10) for lunch. We met up with my father and Mimi for a bit and ate from the buffet. It was super crowded and there were already people in their swimsuits walking around. And thongs! So many thongs! With no coverups! Nothing like lunch with a side of tushy.

Next we went to our muster station for a very quick muster drill. Then we headed down to Guest Services to stand in line for extension cords for our CPAP machines. There are 2 regular 120 volt outlets in our room and they are under the vanity light. It took 45 minutes in line because Diamond and Platinum cruisers are allowed to cut in line. Hmmm.

In front of Guest Services there’s a bar and lounge area with this cool funnel thing that has a video screen that wraps all around and changes designs based on what’s going on at the moment! Very cool!

Once we were finished at Guest Services we called home from the lounge there as we had no cell service in our room and up on deck was too loud. We checked in on our pups and family then went back to our room for a quick nap and to freshen up for dinner. That’s when we noticed my large suitcase was damaged (by the porters maybe? or maybe something caught on it? who knows?!?). I tried calling Guest Services but they were so busy I kept getting disconnected. So we took pictures of the damage to show them later.

Because of where the rip is and how the suitcase is made, when we opened it up it about split right in two!

Dinner tonight was in the Meridian restaurant. We met up with Mimi & my father at 7. You have to check in on your Carnival HUB app for dinner. Well, you and the rest of humanity who was all congregated at the entrance of the restaurant! And the entrance was right in front of the elevators. And there was nowhere to sit. Anyway, I checked us all in and the app said there was less than a 10 minute wait at 7 pm. Then every 10 minutes I would get a notification that there was still less than a 10 minute wait. It was odd. What if you don’t have a smartphone I wonder? Anyway, after over 30 minutes of waiting, my father bugged the host staff enough that they sat us and we had a great dinner. CSP had a steak and I had chicken parm. We were seated near the kitchen doors that would swing open and give us a peek of their escalator! The restaurant is on 2 decks/levels so the escalator makes it easier for waitstaff to go between levels. So smart!

We were exhausted after dinner (I drove all the way from NC to Miami, btw) so we went back to our room and crashed! Tomorrow is a Sea Day!

adoption, family, friends, holidays

Mother’s Day

I received this card the other day, just in time for Mother’s Day. For most people Mother’s Day means brunch and flowers and merriment. And that plays into my day too as I celebrate my mom and my sister (who’s a mom). But Mother’s Day is also bittersweet for me. Because I’ve always, always, as long as I can remember, wanted to be a mom. Every year since I turned 30 and the Clomid didn’t work for us I’ve sort of dreaded this day. But there was always a glimmer of hope for us to become parents so each Mother’s Day I get up and get dressed up and join my mom and my sisters and we spend the day together.

But today is different. Today my mom is out of town helping my youngest sister move. So Mother’s Day has a different sort of feel. But mostly today is different because my glimmer of hope is almost faded out. I’m 45 now and still childless. But not because we didn’t try, that’s for sure. We tried international adoption (2 different countries) and that didn’t work out for various reasons. Then we were matched up by a friend with a birthmother who, after a few months, changed her mind. We took a year off after that, to heal. Then we joined a domestic foster to adopt program. Our social worker told us “Give me a year and I’ll have you matched with a child.” EIGHT years later we still didn’t have a match. We came close a few times. Last year we even drove 8 hours to Northern Virginia to be interviewed for a child who ultimately went to another family. Then in December of last year our home study expired again and would require more money, more time, more paperwork, more effort. And by then CSP was worn out. He was over it. I was tired too, but I always finish what I start so I was willing to go through it all again. But I can’t be a married single parent. I can’t do it alone. So we let our home study expire. And my heart broke into a thousand little pieces.

I was watching a tv show the other day where a lady (we’ll call Susie) was having twins via surrogate after 8 miscarriages and 13 failed IVF trials. She was talking with another lady (we’ll call Karen) who was 35 and unmarried with no prospects and was considering freezing her eggs. Susie told Karen “If you want to be a mom, you’ll be a mom, whether it’s through biology or adoption, you’ll find a way.” That really hit home because I thought when my body failed me and I had to have a hysterectomy, that I’d found my way- through adoption. But now I don’t know anymore. I don’t know if I’ll ever be a mom. I don’t know what the future holds. I don’t know what God’s plan is for me. I do know that my heart hurts. That some days I feel useless, like my life doesn’t have much purpose or direction if I can’t be a mom. That I’ll end up all alone, forgotten in some nursing home somewhere when I’m old. So when my dear friend sent that thoughtful and sweet card that reminds me that I AM strong, brave, beautiful, cared about, and loved, it was just what I needed! I have faith and friends and family who love me and my story isn’t over.