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  1. I try to be considerate of those who have to handle and inspect my bags, but I have never seen the port employees bat an eye for what appears to be overweight or "excessive" number of suitcases. Also, at least a couple of times every cruise, I see luggage that does not fit through the scanner and is inspected by hand. Yes, it does slow things down a little, but I have never witnessed a passenger being chastised for not following the guidelines. The look from other passengers, though.....
  2. On Carnival ships, my wife brings her diffuser. Since it does not have a heating element, it has always been allowed. I do not know what restrictions other lines may have. While we have never had an issue with the diffuser, I read about (and have personally experienced) ship personnel confiscating items that are specifically listed as approved. Challenging their decision does not always work, and I half expect to lose the diffuser each trip. But, hey, just being on a cruise wipes away a multitude of little irritants!
  3. While carrying your own personal reusable straw is a solution, my goal on a cruise is to go minimal. Keeping up with a straw and then cleaning it after every use just doesn't appeal to me. I want throw-away straws available when ordering milkshakes, frozen drinks, etc. There are many single-use environmentally-friendly sturdy drinking straw options. There are reinforced paper straws and straws made from plant stalks, for example. I found straw straws (yes, straws made out of straw) at a price point of 8 cents per straw to the retail market, and there may be some cheaper options. I imagine a bulk purchaser like Carnival would get a much better deal. If it comes down to it, I am willing to pay an environmental tax of a few cents more a drink to be able to abandon my (decomposable) straw with my empty glass. In the end, though, I just want to cruise. If that means no straws (because I refuse to carry one), then bring on the milkshake moustache!
  4. If you don't mind a boat ride, take an excursion to Passion Island just off the northern end of Cozumel. If it is the setting you desire, wife and I have always experienced clear Caribbean blue waters and nice sandy beaches. Can be busy (never felt crowded to me), but it is close and there are no vendors. If you really want to make your friends/family envious, take the excursion that goes to Tulum (mainland). It is the site of an excavated Mayan city overlooking a cliff right next to the ocean. There is a stairway that takes you down the cliff to a short stretch of beach that I can't even describe. You won't have a lot of time (it is a far piece), but we didn't feel rushed and were able to get pictures that Caribbean dreams are made of.
  5. Had to search current photos of San Gervasio as "abandoned gas station" does not reflect my memories of seven years ago. Pictures I found from 2018 and 2019 show a rustic but well-kept site, which is what I had experienced. Not challenging someone else's perspective, just sharing my own. Wife and I took a taxi from the pier. We hired a guide once we got to San Gervasio. There were signs and descriptions displayed at the different areas, but my wife prefers to interact and ask questions. Enjoyed it immensely. This is definitely not the scale of something like Tulum or Chichen Itza, but was a historically significant part of the civilization. So if you want the grandeur, go to the mainland (which I encourage). If you want a peek at specific customs and beliefs, San Gervasio has my endorsement. Back on subject. Took a taxi, hired a guide on-site, then taxied back to a beach. It was simple and inexpensive. That is my recommendation.
  6. Wife is the one who has to be GF. It is pretty obvious that I never met a food I couldn't (and wouldn't) eat. Here is what we experienced on the Breeze. I did observe the process when and where possible when it came to her food. Watched for the obvious, like food to food contact and changing of gloves. Did see some possible cross-contamination which we addressed with the involved server (in a kind and gentle way). She never got sick once on the ship because of gluten (port is a different story): MDR - easily the best way to get breakfast and dinner. Granted, have never used a for-fee dinner option. Staff was great! Guy's Burger - I looked through the kitchen door to the back. They did make burgers fresh when doing gluten-free, and they did a special cleaning on a section of the grill. Fries were from the back when ordering GF, but I couldn't see from where. Once they just put fries on the plate from the front area. Didn't eat the fries just in case. Blue Iguana - very nervous at first, but watched carefully and didn't observe any potential cross-contamination. Cucina del Capitano - dinner is a for-fee meal, but at lunch they call it a Pasta Bar and seems to be a little known venue for a "free" eatery. Very good, if not limited, options for GF diners. Bonsai Sushi - at the time, the staff at Bonsai could only identify one sushi roll as GF. Our only interest was sushi, and that roll was very good, so we stuck with that. There may be other GF options at this place. Pirate Pizza - only one or two times did we order GF pizza, but I thought it was good and she had no adverse effects. Deli - quite impressed. When ordering, the server changed gloves and went back to a fridge and took out the wrapped meat. Then went to a separate counter area to slice. Wife would not attempt the Lido buffets (except bacon), and I don't think she tried any other eating option not listed above. This is after two sailings on the Breeze. Very similar experience with the Conquest. Apologies to the OP, we never tried the barbeque venue, which you specifically asked about.
  7. I guess it is good to clarify, any of the suggestions in this feed may cause a reaction in certain individuals. There are just some that affect a wider group than others. I know, just from my group of friends, that a substantial amount of them are allergic to something in fabric softeners and fabric softener sheets. Thieves oil traditionally has clove, cinnamon bark, eucalyptus, rosemary, and sometimes lemon. You can search "thieves" or any of the individual ingredients to find studies. If a "study" tries to pass off the thieves oil legend during the bubonic plague as historical or scientific fact, stop reading and move on to the next hit. Again, most every hack in this thread would work for me, but I have to do extra research because of my wife's sensitivities.
  8. There is an essential oils craze out there, and I am skeptical of many of the claims. But, there are oil products that I find better than air sanitizers and odor eliminators (which can contain chemical fragrances and other allergens). Chemicals and perfumes don't bother me, but my wife can be sensitive to certain smells. One oil blend is called "Thieves". Depending on the manufacturer and retailer, its composition varies slightly. I have seen it in throw-away wipes, and you can dilute in a spray bottle. I have never wiped down my cabin, but have used a few drops of this oil in a diffuser (google it) to keep the whole stateroom smelling fresh. It kills some forms of bacteria on surfaces. There are also claims it kills mold and bacteria in the air, but I can't find any research or studies that support or refute that. Just an option some may want to look into.
  9. I have found (accidently) that I can live without a lot of things on the ship and still have an over-the-top vacation. But, I do love my hacks and conveniences. One is my electronic tablet. Before leaving home, I download apps, music, copies of documents, and books so that on the ship I can read, listen to my play list, fill the cabin with white noise, display a clock (easily seen across the cabin day and night), set an alarm (or two, or three), etc. Before bed, I can download photos and videos for the day and type out my thoughts and experiences.
  10. Just a comment on the CPAP and extension cords. While I don't use a CPAP, I do like outlets next to my side of the bed. I bring a long extension cord to plug in at the desk, then use magnets with hooks to string the cord along the walls up off the floor. This connects to a (non-surge) power strip on my nightstand. Figure this avoids tripping accidents and is out of the way of the vacuum. And, while my wife would prefer NO extension cords, it is much more aesthetically palatable to her than cords snaking along the carpet. This may be extreme to those who value packing space over conveniences (which might be the better philosophy), but maybe some will find it useful.
  11. Wife and I got that package last year on the Breeze. It had "CARNIVAL" etched on it. Very classy looking, and you do get to keep them. One thing, ours were very delicate. At home, barely tapped one against the cabinet when putting it away. It broke. Like an idiot, I took the other one and lightly flicked it to gauge how thin the glass was. Yup, pretty thin.
  12. Sorry for your loss. I think your idea is a touching way to honor your father. I see you have quite a few cruises on NCL. If, though, you happen to take a Carnival ship to Alaska, I know that you can go to John Heald's Facebook page and leave a request for him on the Visitor's Posts. He will respond, and Carnival will make all the arrangements for you. I would assume that there are contacts at other lines who offer the same service. Letting them guide you through the legalities and planning should help you focus more on the life and memories of your dad.
  13. In addition to some of the uses already posted, here are other ways I organize our room: I put a small magnet next to the room light controller. I tie a heavy string to the magnet, and an old Sail and Sign card to the other end of the string. It is our light control card. We take the card out and let it hang when the room is not occupied. I don't like electrical extension cords running across the floor. I use the stronger magnets with hooks to run the cord up off the ground along the wall. We don't trip over it, and the cord is completely out of the way for vacuuming. It does require a longer cord. Have never had an issue bringing on board. We use hooked magnets to hang belts, ties, and other assorted small items. When packing, magnets are separated by bubble wrap. Not for everyone, but works for us.
  14. For those that might not be familiar with these discount gift cards, just a heads up that you cannot just buy these discount cards, you have to "earn" and redeem a certain amount of points that allow you to buy a $100 or $500 gift card for 10% off. This is through their Rewards programs, no cost to sign up or earn points. Note that the Carnival gift cards are just part of a bunch of services and merchandise that can be had at reduced prices or no cost for points redeemed. I have used AARP and Allstate insurance rewards. You do not have to be, or become, a customer of Allstate or a member of AARP to sign up. Allstate - main source of points is through safe driving. You allow them to track your driving trips and are awarded with points for good driving habits. You can also get points by special key codes that they include in promotional e-mails. Wouldn't doubt that Allstate customers receive more points per activity than non-customers, but not sure about that. AARP - main source of points is to take quizzes. Points are applied for finishing the quizzes, not for how well you scored. Personally, I believe one should seriously answer the questions, but some talk about just throwing in any answer in order to complete and move on quickly to the next quiz. There is a limit to the number of points you can earn in a day. AARP members earn more points per quiz than non-AARP members. There are other point-earning opportunities, including key codes that are included with promotional e-mails. If you want to purchase these Carnival discount cards, be sure to give yourself plenty of time to earn the points required and for shipping of the cards before you need them. Carnival gift cards can be used to pay for the cruise and can be applied to your ship account instead of (or along with) cash or credit card. Just search "aarp rewards" or "allstate rewards" for their web sites.
  15. After three cruises after my wife was diagnosed as gluten-intolerant (not celiac), first night in MDR is always kind of rough, but each night a staff member would bring the next night's menu. You could pick any item, and they would let you know if it was gluten free, or if the chefs could alter it to make it gluten free. My wife ate very well. We like eating breakfast in the MDR, and the gluten-free French toast is a favorite. Of course, you can always order foods normally gluten free to your heart's content. But still, warn your waiter of your situation. My wife ordered a fruit dish, and the waiter was aware enough to let her know it had some flavoring (honestly, fruit that has a flavoring?) that may contain gluten. A few years ago, the bread served at dinner was delicious! I think they must have changed as she did not like the bread the last few trips. Wife does not do buffets, but I have watched servers make adequate accommodations for special diet needs. I have also seen some who obviously did not know what they were doing. As you guys can attest, it is our job to observe and question: do they change gloves, do they use separate serving stations and cutting and serving utensils, do they maintain uncontaminated foods (watched deli staff pull out wrapped meats from the fridge strictly to avoid cross-contamination), do they look at you with soulless eyes when you ask if something is gluten free (usually right before they say, "Yes"), etc. Some of my wife's favorites are: Guy's Burgers (she likes no bun, although they do have a gluten free bun) Blue Iguana tacos Cucina del Capitano pasta bar for lunch Bonsai Sushi Happy eating!
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