Category Archives vacation

Finding the Right Cruise

Last summer, we went on our first cruise. We booked it rather late and simply did not over think things.

Finding the Right Cruise

Fast forward to almost a year later. Both of our boys were bit by the cruise bug. They loved the activities for kids, swimming, relaxing, and food. We all had fun and never had to think too much once we were on the ship.

NHL really wants to go on a cruise for his Bar Mitzvah. He does not want a party and would like to go away. I am over thinking everything and there are very few options in times that work for us. School and the actual Bar Mitzvah complicate things. In addition to this, there are not a lot of cruises out of the New York City area.

So what are we looking for? Here are are a few things:

  • Family friendly cabins – We need a room that sleeps all four of us. Last summer, we learned how to make a very small space work and know we will be fine.
  • Kid and teen activities – The boys really enjoyed the kids club on our first cruise. Things will be different this time. On most ships, NHL will be considered a teen (whether he’s 12 or actually 13 when we sail). We need to make sure the cruise line we select has options for both of the boys to be happy. This also means that they must be autism friendly.
  • Sensitive to kids with special needs – From start to finish, our last cruise worked with us carefully to help NHL not to be anxious and potentially ruin the cruise experience. We told them he was autistic and they helped us to get on board in the least hectic manner. In addition to this, the kids club was aware and knew how to get to us if there was an emergency. As a teen, I still need to make sure that NHL has options that are age appropriate, but has supports that he may need.
  • Flexible dining times and options – Selecting a dining time is hard when on a vacation. With our first cruise, we were able to go to one of three dining rooms and a buffet any evening. We did not have a set time to eat. This allowed us to swim late, get dressed for dinner, and make shows at the early time for the kids to enjoy. We also found out that we enjoyed a sit down breakfast that looked out on the water over the hectic seating options found by the buffet.
  • No required formal nights – While we dressed up for dinner, we were not in formal attire. TechyDad did not bring a sports jacket, and the boys wore dressy shorts and polo shirts. This is our style and we don’t want to be forced into something more.
  • Seven day itinerary – While open to options, we really enjoyed our week long cruise. We had just the right amount of time on board to do many things and at the end we were ready to go home to larger quarters at night.
  • Different itinerary – Our first cruise went from New York City to Orlando. After a day in Florida (we went to Kennedy Space Center), we were on the cruise lines private island in the Bahamas. The last stop before heading back up the east coast was Nassau. While we enjoyed most of our ports, it would be nice to do something different. We’re not fussy and would consider a different Eastern Caribbean,  Bermuda, or Canadian option. If we can find nice air fare, leaving outside of New York City is a possibility that would certainly open up more ships. There are a lot of options up and down the east coast to look at, but New York City is still the most convenient for us.
  • Family fun – Our first cruise experience was on an older and what many would now consider a smaller ship. This meant that it did not have a fancy water area and only had a small waterslide. It would be fantastic to have something with more water fun space, a mini golf option, and family friendly night time entertainment. Our boys adored the shows we went to on all but one evening. This is a must since it is something we can all enjoy together.

Now that we are no longer cruise virgins, we have some things that we hope for on our next getaway. While we enjoyed our last experience on a specific cruise line, we are happy to explore all options. It certainly can not hurt to check out other cruise lines and ships. Our first ship was big to us, but most newer ones are much larger.

Our First Cruise

If you enjoy cruise travel, what are your musts? Do you have any suggestions for cruising with a nine and almost thirteen year old?

It's Me

Share:
Share on Facebok
Share on Twitter
Share on Pinterest
Share on Google+



Trusting Your Smartphone Photos

#VZWBuzz Disclosure

Do you still take a camera with you when you go here, there, and everywhere? I used to schlep around an extra camera, but those days are primarily over. I rarely have my digital camera with me because I know my smartphone will be there to capture the moments. Not only am I able to share them with family, friends, and social media at an instant, they are a good enough quality that I can print them.

Capturing Memories with a Smartphone

On our recent cruise, I brought my Samsung Salaxy S5 along for the trip. I love the camera on it and knew that if TechyDad did not have his big camera with us we would be fine. My phone was on airplane mode while traveling all around the Atlantic Ocean, but I could still use the camera. While sitting outside and listening to the waves, I was able to edit photos and get them ready to share with our limited WiFi access.

While waiting to see the Status of Liberty, I was able to check out the sail away show with one of my boys. While he danced, I captured and shared a sneak peak of the fun we were about to experience for the week.

Norwegians like to get wild. #CruiseLikeANorwegian

A video posted by @theangelforever on

The boys loved the shows on the Norwegian Gem. No photography or video was allowed and it was wonderful to enjoy everything as a family. After Magika with Sander and Alison, the kids begged to purchase one of their DVDs to take home. We allowed the boys to select them and NHL was so excited to meet Sander. He loves magic and as you can see my smartphone caught this magical moment beautifully.

Sander from Magika on the Norwegian Gem

The kids had some moments with just the two of us while we were on the Gem. At one point, NHL went to the kids club and JSL stayed with us. The little guy was surprised that we stopped in the Atrium to get a nonalcoholic Pina Colada. Of course, I had to get snap shots of the boys drinking them at the family friendly bar.

Fruity Beverages on the Norwegian Gem

We also found out that one of our boys is great at being a photographer with my phone. Thanks to JSL, TechyDad and I were able to get a rare photo together with the Atlantic Ocean behind us.

TechyDad and Moi on the Norwegian Gem

I know that with my new Samsung Galaxy Note 5, I will be exploring new places this autumn with my kids where I will capture those memories for future generations to see. How do you use your smartphone when traveling?

It's Me

Disclosure: As a member of the Verizon Lifestyle Bloggers, I receive devices like the Samsung Galaxy S5 and Samsung Galaxy Note 5 to test out and share ways that I use it in my life. I am a long time Verizon customer, and all opinions are my own.

Share:
Share on Facebok
Share on Twitter
Share on Pinterest
Share on Google+



Hello From Our Cruise

image

It’s hard to believe that our time on board the Norwegian Gem is almost over. There is so much to write about. For now, I will share some photos from our family travel.

The first day we spent time looking around the beautiful Gem.image

Thanks to Splash Academy, the kids liked to play and TechyDad and I had time to explore and relax alone.

image

Our only excursion was to Kennedy Space Center. So amazing to see the history behind NASA.

image

A day of sun, fun, and sand thanks to the private Bahamas island. The Great Stirrup Cay was gorgeous. I wanted to take home my own palm tree.imageimageimageimage

The next day we explored Nassau, Bahamas on our own.

image

image

So much more to share, but first I must enjoy the rest of the cruise with my family.

It's Me

Share:
Share on Facebok
Share on Twitter
Share on Pinterest
Share on Google+



Cruising with a Smartphone

#VZWBuzz Disclosure

I have a confession, I love my smartphone. At times it is my lifeline and my BFF. It allows me to be connected to my family, friends, kids’ schools, and work. In addition to this, my Samsung S5 that I currently use has an amazing camera on it. This means I rarely need anything else to capture memories. Thanks to my heavy reliance on my smartphone, an upcoming vacation scared me a little bit. We are going on our first ever cruise and it was planned rather quickly.

Smartphone gear for cruise

During out planning process for the trip, my phone has been huge. I have been able to communicate with our travel agent, Norwegian Cruise Line, and make lists. This week it has also allowed me to keep tabs on the developing weather. Tropical Storm Erika was starting her path earlier in the week and we didn’t know what that would mean for our Florida and Bahamas cruise. While out last evening, I checked the NCL website and saw an updated weather alert. We were one of three ships that had their itineraries changed to avoid the storm that will likely become a hurricane shortly. While waiting for an event to begin, TechyDad had already started to research places to go and see while in Bermuda.

While it is easy to get phone plans for international travel, cruising is an entirely different beast. Being in the middle of the ocean for a few days at a time leaves you at the mercy of very expensive and potentially slow WiFi. I have to admit that being completely unconnected may appeal to some, but I am not as thrilled. I like being able to be in touch in case of emergencies.

I have embraced being mostly disconnected and prepared so I can still use my phone to share and check in from time to time. For days when we head to the pool or beach, I have a waterproof Geckobrand pouch to store my phone and camera inside I have my handy dandy Zeiss lens cleaning wipes for my lens and glasses. Thanks to TechyDad, I will be able to avoid the use of our WiFi enabled SD card in my camera to transfer for social media shares. He found us a Card Reader Hub by Allreli. This fantastic item will allow me to take photos off my phone and store it on a FlashDrive or shuttle something from my digital camera to smartphone. To be ready I just had to put the ES File Explorer app on my phone and I am all set with folders ready for quick access.

Now I just need an app that will finish packing everything that I am sure to forget. What tips do you have for traveling on a cruise with your smartphone? I would love to know and will share more after we get back from our family vacation.

It's Me

Disclosure: As a member of the Verizon Lifestyle Bloggers, I receive devices like the Samsung Galaxy S5 and Droid Turbo to test out and share ways that I use it in my life. I am a long time Verizon customer, and all opinions are my own.

Share:
Share on Facebok
Share on Twitter
Share on Pinterest
Share on Google+