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Anita Latte

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  1. When we first started cruising...it was based completely on itinerary. Sailing around DS's academic year schedule, we would look for shorter cruises as we found that a 7-night cruise was rough during a one week school break. DS had a more "balanced" school year, so we had single weeks off in September, November, February and April. The 5 nights were the best fit. In pursuit of that goal, we ended up sailing on Connie, then Carnival Fascination, then Enchantment. Alaska was all itinerary based. Now that DS is heading off to college in the fall...for the first cruise DH and I are taking on our own...and after we just moved down to Florida...I picked the class of ship first, wanting to take DH on Oasis class. I was able to take a TA with my parents on Allure while DH graciously stayed home with DS. I looked at all the Oasis class ships from Florida ports and then picked the best combination of itinerary and price...and that's how we ended up with a booking on Harmony. Continuing to look...because I can...LOL...I started looking for an aft facing balcony. So again, ship based but specifically ships with aft facing balconies that were "normal" balcony type staterooms and less expensive. It was quite the search to find an aft facing balcony leaving from a port within driving distance on an itinerary that was interesting enough to warrant sailing. And that's how we ended up on a shorter Explorer cruise with two ports...Coco Cay and Labadee. Might need a drink package for that one...
  2. Anita Latte

    Bug Spray

    We used an Alaskan made product: https://www.alpenglowskincare.com/collections/alaskas-best-insect-repellent I absolutely love this product and recommend it to everyone that asks...I have no affiliation to the product...I am just insanely attractive to biting insects and I truly dislike insect repellant. I worry about the chemicals from typical repellant on my hands, getting on my clothes...I dislike the smell. I don't have any of the worries I normally would with this product. A little goes a long way and it is very effective. The oil base makes it very easy to spread on exposed skin and it is absorbed quickly so that your skin has no residue. You can smell it, but I don't find the smell offensive.
  3. OMG...should have known that this trip included an eclipse!! So funny. I'll have to check out the links... With regards to a launch viewing...I'm all over these launches now. There's an experience offered at KSC that is called Feel the Heat. The cost is high...over $100? Closer to $200? I don't remember...but there are other levels of pricing for viewing on the KSC site. More $$$ the closer you get to the launch site. I'm thinking that personally, I'd like to work my way up to the Feel the Heat...getting closer and closer to the action, but then, I do have the privilege of that option. Keep track of the schedule...you can see in September how we are set up and if our accommodations would work for you and DH. He's so tall...not sure our guest bed would work! We could, and should, totally plan to go together though. Would be so fun!
  4. Melody...I'm pretty sure we're talking about two different places. We were at a tiny city or county park. This is where we were: https://www.google.com/maps/place/William+J+Manzo+Memorial+Park/@28.578543,-80.798857,15z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x0:0x2b8aae31322c4573!8m2!3d28.578543!4d-80.798857 Could you point out on a map where you would go? There's another launch on July 9 and I would like to get closer...maybe over to the barrier island side.
  5. Having a conversation about similar topic with my Mom earlier... The thing about the AQ cabins is that they are not the most desirable location on the ship. You could argue that being directly under the pool deck is, in fact, a very UNDESIRABLE location. Creating a whole new cabin category to overcome what must previously be unappealing...most prefer to have cabins above and below...in order to not only make the cabins appealing...but also to charge you MORE for the now PRIVILEGE of staying in an otherwise poorly located cabin. Now perhaps...the potential pool noise CON is overcome by all the PROs offered by a redesigned cruising experience that at one point offered things like free yoga programming with Rodney Yee, complementary water, a superior shower, aromatherapy, etc. The whole idea was to create a more fitness minded cruising experience...you have excellent interior only access to the spa area, which is complementary...you could be more comfortable wearing a robe from your cabin to the spa because you didn't have to "go outside" to get there. And easy access to the spa cafe where options are more suited to the health conscious. Or were...with many options for a less indulgent lunch, yep still timely, than what my family affectionately calls the buffet, "pig out palace" in an ode to the by gone days of the cheap all you can Vegas buffet. Blu was touted not just because it was a smaller dining venue...but BECAUSE it offered food that was supposed to appeal to the more health conscious...lighter sauces, less sodium, smaller portions, more vegetables...and people who had no interest in the banquet food of the MDR. Slowly by little bit...the AQ experience has been downgraded...with all the little things that had added up to a very nice package for someone desiring to maintain a certain health focused lifestyle even while on vacation. It's sad. Because more and more, the quality of the package cannot overcome the failings of the location(s) of the AQ cabins. They spent some time to get a reputation going but they aren't maintaining it. Booking AQ is simply reduced to the ability to dine in a "specialty restaurant" each night...with little else to recommend it. Book a cheaper cabin...pay for the week long thermal suite pass...get the unlimited specialty dining...possibly pay to check a bag with fun spa product...and save money and not miss anything because it feels like there is nothing else to AQ.
  6. Went to the launch in the wee hours of the morning... First, let me say that it was totally worth going. I'm very glad that DS's friend was up on the twitter feed...something I wouldn't have even thought of doing...something I'm realizing is probably a valuable tool when actually used as a tool. Anyway...we hit the local Raceway for some cold drinks...heading up to the pizza to pick up our take out and we learn that the launch is shooting for 2:30 am...but it was still only 10:15 pm...so we turned around to head home to wait it out...leaving at about 1 am to find our viewing location. Melody...I did a bit of researching to see what the best locations would be. Definitely read about what you said...our plan of attack was to head toward Titusville driving up US 1 and just see what would work for us. I had read about a little park named William J Manzo Memorial Park...looked like there would be a lot of parking around it...and it is directly across the Indian River from the launch pad. So we headed in that direction... As we approached the area of US 1 that started to go along the Indian River front...so many cars. Cars parked everywhere...and we did happen to the little park and there was good parking in a lot across the street (handy for leaving)...and so we parked and walked over. The little pier / fishing dock had been wiped out by Irma...but there was a smaller one that didn't extend into the water. DH and I settled up there...only about 10-14 feet wide...there were some front row people there, but not enough to crowd that railing. DS and his friend walked below on the concrete retention grid thing to sit with a more unobstructed view right at the water's edge. Everyone was happy. I have never attended any launch before...this was the first SpaceX night time launch. A night launch is spectacular. Our first view of the rocket... You can see that it is pretty far away...but that expanse between the camera and the rocket is all water. Not much to see as we waited...everyone hoping that the launch would actually take place. On schedule...suddenly...it was like the sun was rising... Far beyond the capability of the point and shoot camera video could capture...the sky lit up and the water lit up...SUDDENLY...suddenly the night was like emerging daylight on the horizon. These are all frame captures from the video I shot...but you can see the ascent of the rocket and the smoke on the launch pad... I didn't read up on the launch specifics...IDK that I will use the proper words or descriptions for what actually happened...but what I SAW...the rocket goes up and up and up...and then a sudden burst in the sky as the boosters kick in and the single point of light became three points with two descending and one continuing to rise. The striations in the sky from what must be jet fuel? create a sort of kaleidoscope effect in the sky as the three points of light spread further from each other. The two descending lights blink out well before the rocket does. The rocket continues to diminish in size until the sky is dark again. Now keep in mind...the only sound you hear at this point are the ooo's and ahh's of the crowd...some cheering...some clapping...voices of excitement that carry so much further and easier in the dark. Time passes...and then finally...the two booster things reappear in the night sky as twin beams of light...brighter with small tracer tails...and then they blink out again. At some point...the sound of the launch finally reaches you and you hear the rumble and the thunderous noise of the launch...and the twin boosters reappear and come closer together and land in almost perfect synchronicity on the landing site just down south of the launch pad. Darkness again. Wait for it. Wait for it. BOOM. BOOM BOOM. BOOM!!! Sonic booms!!! Like the biggest, most incredible firework or cracker that you have ever heard...sounding out in the renewed darkness. AMAZING. I give a thumbs up to our location. Especially for a first time viewing. The effect of the reflection on the water directly in front of you was spectacular. And the likeness to the rising sun is mind blowing. DS's friend said he had goose bumps watching it. This site was also a good one in terms of the getaway afterward. DH did have to go to work today...after about 3 hours of sleep! So, if you have the opportunity...I do most definitely recommend catching a night time launch. We will definitely go again...and will definitely be looking for a closer view to the action, if schedule and finances allow. Some of the more prime viewing locations come at a price...this free view was definitely good for us for this time around though.
  7. I love seeing pictures of Grace's cousin!! LOL. That's a very exciting trip Margaret...super fun. Did you book your airfare today? We're getting ready to head out to see the launch tonight. Weather is looking pretty good for it...hopefully it will be sooner rather than later...4 hour window begins at 11:30 PM! DS has a friend visiting...we're all about to pile in and head out to pick up some carry out special pizza and hope to find a decent spot for launch viewing!
  8. This brochure lists all the trails, their lengths, etc. https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprd3835583.pdf
  9. I have no qualification for answering this question except for my own observations and research. I have not taken any of the tours you have asked about. But this is the deal with Mendenhall... Picture a lake...this is Mendenhall lake. At one end of the lake...the point that is furthest "inland" is the glacier. There is a river that leaves the lake and heads to the bay. One side of the lake is a rather large recreation area that includes campgrounds and the park and trails and visitor center. I believe that the raft trip leaves from the far side of the lake (away from the glacier), closer to the camping grounds and other access a bit removed from the area immediately around the visitor center, so that you can see the glacier from across the lake and then you float down the river to the bay. The river will go through residential areas before hitting the bay. I believe that the canoe and kayak tours will "launch" from an area similar to where the raft would launch and you will paddle yourself across the lake to get as close to the glacier as you can get. I have read that paddling can be challenging on a windy day. When I visited Mendenhall...we hiked down the Nugget Falls trail and there was a canoe that had "landed" on that same area that I had hiked to. IDK if they had paddled any closer to the glacier or not. Were I you, I would be calling the tour operators...and if you are looking at ship's tours...look for those same tours independently. You are likely finding the same ones that the cruise has negotiated...ask them directly how close to the glacier you are likely to get...keeping in mind that how close you get can be affected by weather, possibly tide, possibly rainfall affecting the level of the lake and thus the level of exposed ground at Nugget Falls and/or at the glacier itself. Ask in particular if you have the chance to land on the glacier moraine. I do believe that there are some tours that do land on the moraine, which is the land directly in front of the glacier, which may have even been previously under the glacial ice. That said...Mendenhall is a popular tourist spot and I can say, based on my one and only visit there...I wouldn't hesitate to go there by myself and hike on the Nugget Falls trail. Some of the other trails, like the East one?...I'm not sure that I would love to do that on my own...but the ones that are basically in the midst of all the other tourists...yeah, you don't really get to be alone anywhere in that area.
  10. Gorgeous! Your wood circles came out great...nice platform to bring the vase and light jars together!
  11. Laurie thanks for sharing! Even without pictures...I was thinking about you on and off all day yesterday...hoping all was going well. So glad to hear it did. Will enjoy seeing the photos when you can share them. I just booked reward travel for DS to get back to London after the winter break. Wanted to share...because I learned from Margaret...just wanted to share this info again, because it is so useful. The details are that we needed to purchase a one-way for DS after New Year's (hopefully) but before he had to go to class on Jan 6...with a bit of time there for him to get over the flight and the time change. Not an inexpensive proposition, especially with a one-way flight. I've been debating the one-way flight...but it just makes sense that we get on the cycle of the RT flights originating and returning to London...rather than from here. If I were buying a RT ticket...I'd be trying to get a return flight in July. The booking window isn't even open to July yet...and picking a July date is somewhat ridiculous when that's the end of the school year that hasn't even started yet. Much better to be thinking about that July flight as the first of a RT that is July to September...and so on. Anyway...the lesson learned from Margaret is with regards to reward travel and how there are only so many reward seats at whatever reward pricing levels from the different airports for the different routes. I could still get a one-way ticket from MCO to London with a layover in Atlanta for 44K miles...BUT the layover was around 12 hours. Ridic. So I looked at my nearby airports and I could get a flight from little Melbourne to London for 44K miles with only a 3 hour layover in ATL. There were 2 options for 44K from MCO but there were over a dozen options from Melbourne. So the lesson to pass along AGAIN is that if you are booking reward travel, contrary to what you might think...you can get a better deal from smaller airports where the competition for reward travel may be less. I don't know if we will make a change to the ticket once we figure things out...it is possible...and much easier to do with reward travel than with OOP tickets. But I think we'll stick with taking advantage of reward travel to get DS's travel on a different cycle. Meanwhile...still loving the move...still unpacking and settling in. Thinking about re-dying my hair because the purple has faded so much. And I made a sweet purchase yesterday at Uniqlo: https://www.uniqlo.com/us/en/women-airism-uv-cut-long-sleeve-mesh-hoodie-413363.html SO lightweight...this is the perfect summer hoodie. Debbie...I highly recommend this. I think it would be great at the lake and I know you love your hoodies too. I bought the orange which is a perfect Earth color...especially Soft Earth. IDK that it would be as good on others...for you, I'd have to go back to the store to pay attention...one of the blues/lavender I think might work well.
  12. Nice photos pacruise! Mom and Dad are currently IN Bermuda...that's on my short list actually. I've seen some nice longer itineraries that have many sea days and the overnight there. That's my preference...I like sea days. Seems like a mini-TA in a way with a 7 day Bermuda itinerary. Mom and Dad are on a last minute 11-day that includes stops in the NE US. Laurie...I think they have stopped at some of the ports you will be going to. Love the tea stain Margaret! The big day is tomorrow Laurie? OMG...such excitement!! My hair is curling down here in the humidity...for a while there in Texas I could coax some curl but here...the wave is coming out in full force. I think my layers are good...if I go to bed with damp hair from an evening bathe...I wake up with some serious waves...almost as if my hair had been in braids overnight. Loving the afternoon showers...so much like Houston. The big difference is in watching the clouds roar past...a more definite direction to the storms as they move across this piece of land sticking out into the sea. I forgot to mention that we arrived down here just in time for the start of hurricane season. Kind of like other states we have lived in where there is a sales tax free weekend for school supplies? There was a sales tax free day for hurricane supplies! LOL. Bottled water, generators, etc etc Welcome to Florida! LOL.
  13. Thanks for the glimpse of Mom and Dad! Sounds like the weather is good! Mom and I were talking about Chef Boulud coming on board! Hoping they get to taste some new menu items before the end of this sailing...thinking you should get to see new menu items on the second sailing but not sure how quickly they can revamp the menus et al. Please pay attention to that though...we are very interested in what Chef does to the menus. Mom said Blu will be after Luminae.
  14. I am so enjoying reading your live review...I've read a couple of your past reviews and enjoyed those. My parents are also sailing on this cruise and mentioned meeting you. I'm pretty sure you are referring to them here...Mom's user is Member 123...IRL Pam and Dave/David. 🙂
  15. We flew out on July 2 from our northbound cruise. Seward has a big event on July 4 also and we were talking to people about how we were just missing the holiday and the locals were saying that fireworks aren't really a big thing for Independence Day because of the long daylight hours...they said that the big fireworks holiday was New Year's Eve. So there may not be any fireworks...also wonder if fire danger would have any effect on fireworks displays...
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