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About SimplyMarvie

  • Rank
    Cool Cruiser

About Me

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

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  1. Remember, this is not the United States. Licensed and playing by the rules is a lot to ask for, especially in some of the places you're going. You could probably snag a cab in Grand Cayman and go to the Turtle Park or find someone to take you to 7 Mile Beach without too much trouble (although, IMHO, missing the sting rays in Cayman is just about criminal...) but you do not want to be trusting some guy with a bus in Jamaica, no way no how. Belize is similar in terms of safety profile and distance from the really interesting attractions. And I don't know... if you know what you want to do, it should be a matter of half an hour on Google to find a few organizers and get an idea of prices, options, etc. and then book something. It's your cruise and you can do it you way, but I would think it's better to set it up ahead of time. You have a limited amount of time in each port, and it's smaller than it seems after you deal with getting off the boat, etc. Do you really want to spend that time shopping for an excursion and dickering with cab drivers?
  2. Not just for cruises, but for travel in general we've adopted a family tradition of packing our bags early and then sitting in the foyer/entry way on top of our baggage for at least half an hour having a cup of coffee and breathing and emotionally preparing to go before we get in the cab and actually leave the house. EVERY SINGLE DANG TIME one of us has jumped up half way through our cup of coffee because we forgot to pack something completely essential and irreplaceable. That cup of coffee has saved lives and thousands of dollars, won't leave home without it now.
  3. They definitely seemed to be the done thing when we last cruised with Carnival in 2013. I'll probably let each of my kids pick one out because they're space cadets and putting their lanyard around their necks will keep them from losing their cards. Honestly, I don't mind wearing one and if I'm wearing a skirt with no pockets (uuugh...) or planning on swimming and not bringing a purse, they're handy to have. I'd be happy if someone provided me one in a gift bag since it's probably not something I'd think to bring myself.
  4. We're coming in from overseas for a cruise out of FLL, but are also going on to spend Christmas with the family. We're looking for somewhere to stay for 2-3 nights pre-cruise and 1-2 nights post-cruise. I'm wondering if anyone has ever encountered a hotel that would hold some of our luggage for the 10 days we're on the cruise so I don't have to schlep and store my winter coat and kids snow pants (which they'll need in MN, but probably not on the beach in Aruba) on board?
  5. We're living in Israel now. Honestly, I'd get Shekels from the nearest ATM when you get off the boat. While people will take dollars, the exchange rate they'll give you isn't great and not everyone is going to take them to begin with -- if you're in the Old City in Jerusalem, yes. In Haifa or Akko or Ashkelon, not so much. Credit cards are widely, widely accepted here and we rarely have problems using our US Cards... but when we do, it's nice to have the shekels to save the day. Also, if you're thinking about using taxis, download the GETT app (Israeli Uber, but with licensed taxis) before you arrive. Its so much easier and will avoid getting shaken down by unscrupulous drivers (particularly a problem in Jerusalem).
  6. We have those silicon expandable travel bottles that I can fill with our normal shampoo and some little pill-case sized ones so that I can bring all the creams and cleansers for my fancy Asian Skincare routine with me when I travel (It makes SO much difference...) We travel enough that I've ordered/found a travel size of all Mr. Marvie's shaving stuff, all my cosmetics (or a dupe, I'm not too picky), toothpaste, etc. and they all sit ready to grab and go in our closet so we're ready for adventure at a moment's notice. Also, I'm trying to reduce the amount of plastic we use, so the refillable bottles help with that.
  7. Check the travel.state.gov website for the countries you are transiting. If they require 6 months validity on your passport, it will say on the website. Don't trust what random people on the internet tell you they remember being the regs -- actually look them up for yourself. It'll save you no end of trouble.
  8. We ALWAYS do this. After one traumatic experience with more luggage than we could manage to move ourselves, I had a Scarlett O'Hara moment and swore I'd never over-pack again. Now one of our Family Rules (right up there with "wear shoes while moving furniture" and "never pass up a clean flush toilet") is to never bring more than you can comfortably carry. By the time disembarkation day comes around the fun part of the cruise is over, and hanging around is just killing time with nothing much going on and nowhere really to go. If we get off early we can either get on to the next adventure or sneak in something fun before we have to be off home. And there's not a lot about the ship that's more pleasant than the airport once breakfast is done.
  9. We left our 3 and 5 year olds in kids club on their first cruise while we were in Key West. We took a quick wander around, got some alligator bites and had a chill day. I'm not opposed to leaving them in kids club, but I think doing it in a foreign country when we were more than just a walk away from the pier would probably freak me out too much -- I totally admit that this is a personal problem, and that generally I'm way more free-range with my children than this. It's something about the international border that freaks me out.
  10. Buy a yacht and pay someone to sail it for me and someone else to cook and clean. Toodle around the Mediterranean for a bit... especially Croatia and the greek islands and the Turkish coast, with all that blue water and history. (Mr. Marvie and the kids could come with. Friends could join for a while. But I'm enough of an introvert that I'd be totally okay with it just being me, the crew and the sea...)
  11. The MoBay Scotchies is (sadly) a bit outside of Montego Bay, but deeeeeelicious. It was our favorite restaurant when we lived in Jamaica. 🙂 Dolphin's Cove is an option, but it's outside of Ocho Rios so it would be a drive. See if you can swing a day pass for the Jewel Runaway Bay, it would be fantastic for kids. They've got a great waterpark and their service is excellent.
  12. ALL of Europe goes on vacation in August -- as an American, I always thought this was an overblown rumor until I was living in Europe and all our favorite restaurants were closed for the entire month because there's just this cultural understanding that it's vacation time. What that means is that everything is going to be crowded as heck, and everything that isn't going to be crowded is going to be closed. I'd avoid it if you can. As far as kids in Europe, I have LOVED taking our kids to Europe... but I'm not 100% sure that I'd do it on a cruise, unless I'd set our expectations really, really low. When we took our kids to Rome (at 3, 7 and 9) we could do exactly one thing per day and no more (and that one thing had to be pretty carefully choreographed to make sure that we weren't going to be doing too much walking, too much sun, etc.) That worked for us because it was a land-based vacation and we were traveling really slowly so if we weren't feeling up to something, we pushed it to another day. On a cruise, if you're really excited to see things in those ports, you need to be realistic about what your kids can and can't handle and whether you're okay with missing a lot of the itinerary if they're grumpy, jetlagged, too hot, not coping, etc. If you do decide to go, having a scavenger hunt, an iPad with virtual reality software of some of the monuments, or books with overlays was a game-changer for our kids at that age. Think about doing something to help them engage with the things that are in front of them in a more active way -- it makes a huge difference. My now 7 year old has a life-long love of "ruined cities" from our trip to Rome and is now advocating for a trip to the Turkish hinterlands because "Mama... they have the coolest ruined city EVER!" (Be careful, you may create a monster!)
  13. This is wise... 🙂 My oldest is just 13 and I'd really love to have a personal sherpa on our next trip. Although, he's been traveling for so long that he's probably too spoiled (and too clever... he'd just spit my "You packed it, you carry it!" mantra back at me!)
  14. Making my kids schlep their own bags was a painful (but necessary) way to convert them to packing light and one-bag travel, even as teenagers. Like, you can take the four pairs of shoes, but how much do they weigh?
  15. My TA will let me request price checks over email -- which is one of the reasons I work with her. I wouldn't call for anything less than several hundred dollars if it meant the 45 minute hold time RCCI has been running, but if I can fire off an email and have a professional handle it, why not?
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