Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Port Day in Labadee, Haiti// Royal Caribbean's Private Beach

I know I am super behind on these posts, since we went on our cruise back in November (you can read the first two posts here and here), but I am finally putting the finishing touches on our cruise recaps, with our day in Labadee.

The cruise ship docked at the tip of the island, onto Royal Caribbean's private stretch of beach. Honestly, as fun of a day as it was, I am not sure what my thoughts actually are on the private islands/ beaches. I really wanted to explore some of Haiti and get a true feel for the culture, but there is no way to get off of the private strip. It was really nice to have a relaxing day, but one of the things I love so much about cruising is the change to experience new places while still have the ship perks while traveling between destinations. If we ever end up back in Labadee, we will probably try to rent jet-skis, as that seemed like the best way to at least see some of the rest of the coast line of the whole island, as opposed to just Royal Caribbean's section of it. Even though we hadn't known that the jet-skis would give us a little more freedom, we did make the most of our day in Labadee!
We began our day by finding a place to lay our stuff before heading to hop on the Dragon's Tail mountain coaster. If you like more privacy, head to the far end of the beach (directly under the zip line). People tended to stop at the first lounge chair they saw, to put their stuff down. We kept walking a bit further until we were at the very edge of the island, where the rocks block off the sea to form the calm cove of water to swim in (section pictured above in the bottom right corner). We were almost the only ones there for the first hour or so. It did get a bit more crowded, but we walked the entire property and it still seemed like the least crowded option.

We then went to hop on the mountain coaster experience that they have on the island. Honestly, it was really hard trying to decide between the zip line and the coaster, because we had heard such great things about the zip line that goes out over the water. We had done zip lines other places though and were SO glad we picked the coaster!! It's a bobsled like coaster, that sits on metal tracks and you control the speed yourself. It was a blast!! It was also dead! There was no wait at all, whereas the zip line experience had TONS of people!! The coaster was also a lot less expensive than the zip lining. We actually got an awesome bang for our buck and here's how: when we booked we bought two tickets, one for each of us. There is an option for all day access, but we didn't think we would want to do it enough to justify the difference. So, when we got there to do the coaster, the attendant asked if we wanted to ride together or separate. I knew that Babe was going to want to get to be the driver at least once, but I wanted to ride together (one person basically sits in the others lap). Since we each had a ticket, I asked if we could use them per sled, basically meaning could we go twice if we rode together. One with him driving, the other turn with me driving (driving isn't the best term; you don't control direction, just speed- by handbrake). The lady was super nice and said ok! So that insured two rides! Then when we were done with our second ride I asked the guy at the bottom (who was helping unload) if there was any way to go again (never hurts to ask y'all), since there was no one there. He said yes, if we made sure to tip the attendants working. No problem!! Beats having to pay for a whole other ticket (it did require Babe to take a long walk back to the ship though, as we had no cash// we tipped $10). Anyways, that's how we basically got 3 turns for the price of 1! I could not recommend the coaster ride more!! It was so fast, a little scary (just what we love), and provided INCREDIBLE views!! It also lasted a lot longer than the zip line did, so win-win in our book!
After getting our fill of adrenaline, we took to the crystal clear water for a swim! It was glorious! Do be careful though, as there are some rocks that you can stub your toes or scratch your feet on. They are closer to the snorkeling area that is near the rock barrier. You can rent snorkel gear (we didn't), but next time we will remember to bring ours! We then lounged a little while longer and went to grab lunch before we packed up our stuff to head to the other side of the beach for our time slot on the water inflatable park.

We chose to do the water inflatable park, in which you book an hour time slot to enjoy the slides, climbing iceberg, water trampolines, obstacle course, etc. We have done this before and usually love it, and while this time was no different, I think we may be nearing the end of our inflatable play days. 30 may be the cut off- haha!! We were out there with a lot of kids, though there were some other people a bit older than us out there making it happen. We didn't even make it through the full hour and we were beat!! We did make it to the top of the iceberg though! So I felt accomplished!! Babe would like me to note, that we did make it ALMOST through the hour. We finally called it quits with about 10 minutes left and swam back to the dock to go enjoy the rest of the afternoon sitting in the shade playing rummy. Quite a perfect mix of adventurous fun, followed by old people rest time!!

On our way back to the boat we checked out the walk to the lookout point. Do NOT miss this!! It's a beautiful walk, barely no one was there, and it provided beautiful views of the rest of the island. It also passes the spa, which would be another thing to consider for the future as the massage rooms are open to the ocean, but provide privacy from the land. A massage with a view like that?! Yes, please! Especially after a full week of active adventures!!

We loved our time on Labadee, filled our day as full as we could and then headed back to the ship to sail back home!


Ok, now I'm ready to head back out to sea! 
Who's with me? Anyone else done a cruises private beach? 
What are your thoughts? 

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Tuesday, March 14, 2017

#TravelTuesday 14// A Day of Disneyland Magic

Happy #TravelTuesday friends!!
I am excited for another link up and to see where all you have been! 
I am actually taking a stroll down memory lane today and sharing a trip that we took back in 2013, because my little Mickey-ear-shaped-heart has really been longing for some Disney lately!!  

Back in May of 2013 Babe surprised me with a trip to California to visit Disneyland. As Orlando natives, we had been to Disney World many a time, but never Disneyland. So it was a trip of many firsts; first trip to Disneyland, first time sticking my feet in the Pacific Ocean, first time paying $20 for guacamole (Cali is expensive yo)! 
I could tell you that my favorite part was all the gorgeous Cali-coast views, but that might be a lie. While I did LOVE them (I mean just look at all these non-Disney pictures), my Disney loving heart could have spent every second wrapped up in Disneyland. Thankfully, Babe pulled me away so I could enjoy all the California beauty, but the Disney moments were magical. I mean Disney really is a dreamers paradise. So I figured I would share what a day in the life of a Disney dreamer looks like. 

Every true dreamer's story starts out...
At 11 o'clock I was Sally driving through Radiator Springs (probably my favorite spot since we don't have Radiator Springs at Disney World) and by noon I was a mermaid swimming alongside Ariel as she she wished for more...
At 2 o' clock I was inside the Beast's library discovering my true character from a magic book...

*This was awesome by the way.  I love that I got Belle because, while I am not a huge Disney Princess fan, she was always my favorite one because, well, she did not just lie around waiting.  She explored, she read, she discovered and she protected those she cared for above all else.
I also thought Babe's description and character were pretty dead on. He would be Marlin and is truly all of those things.  One night, when we were watching the movie The Impossible (awesome movie by the way), I was a little surprised by a choice the father had made when he went in search of his missing wife and son.  I asked Babe if he would make the same decision (you will have to watch to see what it is) and look for me. His response had no hesitation, he didn't even turn his face from the screen to look at me, and said "I would never stop." He really would swim the seas for the people he loves.


By 3 o' clock I was Princess Dot in A Bugs Life, living in a world much bigger than myself...
 and as the sun was starting to set I had the pleasure of visiting with the dreamer himself and the mouse that started the magic. 


After nightfall I was back in Radiator Springs to see the street light up in all it's glory and honk wave a final farewell to Mater as he cruised down Main Street! The lighting of the Radiator Springs strip was one of my favorite things. It wasn't crowded, as basically anywhere on the street is a great place to stand, and it was so fun to have all the lights come on to the tune of the music, just like in Cars! Times changes depending on the time of year, so be sure to ask a Disney Cast Member when you first get to the park. You can always see the street lit up once evening falls, but you really should try to make it for the actual lighting if you can!! 


And, as with any good dreaming day, it all ended with a "happily ever after." At least our version of it anyways.



And then the dreaming day started all over again the next morning as we ventured into Disneyland (the first day took place at Disney's California Adventure park)! 

I thought I would end with a note from Captain Jack because I do quite love me some Pirates of the Caribbean and was excited to be "stuck" in the skull and bones cage.  

"Better to not know what moment may be your last. Every morsel of your entire being alive to the infinite mystery of it all."



"Did everyone see that? Because I will NOT be doing it again!" 

Except I would love to do it again please!! And soon!! Now that we no longer have our Disney World passes my little Disney-loving soul is in need of some of that magic! 


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Have you ever been to a Disney park? What's your magic moment?
Any fun trips of your own recently? 

Share your link below and let's travel together! 
~On the 2nd Tuesday of every month I will be sharing a new travel post and would love to see where you have been exploring!
~Any linked posts will be pinned under Travel Tuesday on my Pinterest account. 
~Please leave a little love on the post directly before yours and then anywhere else you like! That way we can all grow this community together :) 
~Not many other rules, as I am not a huge fan of those sorts of things! Just add any travel related link and I encourage you to peek around and see where everyone else has been. 
~Feel free to grab the image from the sidebar and add it to your post so others know where to link up. 
~I will also be sharing my favorite post from the month before. February's fave was from House Blend, because her trip to the Keys had me all kinds of reminiscing about when Babe and I went for my Senior Spring Break (many a moons ago)! 

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

A Day Trip to the Blue Hole from Falmouth, Jamaica

I may be a bit behind, but I'm finally working on posts about the ports from our most recent cruise... 
Our first big port stop on the Allure of the Seas was Falmouth, Jamaica. I was really excited about this and did a lot of research for all the adventurous fun we could have for the day. Of course there is always Dunn’s River Falls, however we really prefer things a little more off-the-beaten-path, where there will be less crowds. That led me to the excursion that included time at the Blue Hole. This particular excursion described itself as a tubing adventure to the Blue Hole. In actuality it included spending the morning at the Blue Hole (after a 1.5 hour drive that was not mentioned in the description), then getting back in the van to head to the tubing run, which ended at our lunch destination. 
At least if you are in a van for 3 hours, there are gorgeous views almost the whole way! 
I LOVED the gorgeous, adventurous options at the Blue Hole! It was an adrenaline junkies paradise! It starts with a guide led hike up the waterfall, which is followed by descending the waterfall by cliff jumping off different points in the falls into swimming holes below! The final leap to the bottom can be done by rope swing! It was absolutely awesome and EVERYTHING I had imagined it to be… almost. Below are a few things I wish I had before going, that might have led me to choosing different options to get to the Blue Hole. 
The waterfall in the back is the one you can climb (also pictured at the bottom of the post intro shot). 
What ultimately sold me on the Blue Hole, over Dunn’s River (other than the lack of crowds), was the fact that there is still a portion of the falls that you can climb up- in a similar fashion to Dunn’s River. The hike you do to the top of the Blue Hole is more along the side of the falls, with certain spots where you will cut across through the water. However, there is a large section of the falls that has been smoothed over enough, by the cascading water, to allow for people to try to climb. They have fixed a rope to it to help you get up. I was so excited to try! Unfortunately, if you book through the ship, the tour you go with (Chukka Tour Group) doesn’t allow you to do that. We don’t typically book excursions through the ship, but when researching Jamaica there didn’t seem to be many options for booking on your own (at least for the Blue Hole). The ship excursions cost more and tend to be a little more strict, hence, why we don’t use them! Since we had never been to Jamaica and couldn’t really find options for renting your own car, we booked through the boat to make sure we had the insurance of getting back on-board before it left without us. While it was a good thing we did (we literally got back to the boat within a minute of time to board), I hated all the restrictions. We were forced to wear life jackets, which are horrible for cliff jumping, and we weren’t allowed to do some of the more exciting parts of the Blue Hole, such as the waterfall climb! Plus, I would have much preferred to spend all our time at the Blue Hole, exploring and jumping off cliffs. While the tubing was fun too, it was similar to tubing I could do in the states. The guides that work the Blue Hole specifically (not with the Chukka tour group), said to book through an independent tour guide, so that you can do whatever you want while you are there. The Blue Hole guides would have let us do anything and kept apologizing that they couldn’t because they had to stay within the excursion group guidelines! The Blue Hole guides were really great!!
If you’re planning a trip to Jamaica, I would definitely recommend time at the Blue Hole!! I would love to go back and be able to do the things we didn’t get to and just spend more time exploring the falls and swimming in the pools. Due to time our tour kept pushing us along. I did sneak away for a minute to swim under the fall and it was totally worth the guide they sent back to drag me away and make me stick with the group!!
River tubing views
*Another note if you do book through the boat- the Chukka tour guides will try to tell you that you HAVE TO have close-toed water shoes. I had bought a pair of Chacos- that I had been eyeing- specifically for this trip, knowing they would be good for the waterfall climbing. However, they were not close-toed and Babe actually had no water shoes. So they stop you by a little water shoe hut on the side of the road and tell you if you didn’t bring any that you MUST buy some or you can’t do the Blue Hole. This is a lie!! Half of our bus bought shoes, but we risked it, and are very thankful we did! There were no rules at the Blue Hole saying you had to have shoes. Most of the people there were bare foot. We are pretty sure our tour guides knew the people at the shoe hut and were in some kind of deal together. We are all for supporting the local economy, but not because we are forced to and definitely not for water shoes! To be safe either bring your own or just know that you really don’t need them.

If you have the freedom to either rent a car or book through a private tour group, I would definitely recommend doing that! If you are on a cruise though, it might be worth it to not risk it and just book through the boat. While there was a lot I would have liked to change, Jamaica was one of the ports where I could have seen us getting stuck somewhere and not making it back to the ship in time for departure. Everything was far away and roads were hard to navigate, so- while I would have loved the freedom- I am also very thankful the ship would have been forced to wait for us since we booked through them.

**I've decided it would be fun to ask Babe his point of view (get a guy's perspective); being a man of very few words you can always except something short and sweet. So here it is... 
Babe’s “Man-Point-of-View”:  The bus ride sucks; the scammers got most of the people in the van, but me and the guy from Germany weren’t being fooled (into buying the water shoes)!


Have you ever been to Jamaica?
What fun things did you do while you were there?