It's finally time to write about the last five books on my fiction reading list for 2015. In case you missed them, here are links to Books 1-5 and Books 6-10. Here are final five books of my list for this year.
My last few times in Barnes & Noble were spent consulting my reading list and looking for e-books through my library to make sure I didn't buy a book that I could get for free. Basically a whole lot of work to make sure I picked just the right books to buy. The last time I was in the store, however, I threw my "buying strategies" out the window and just grabbed whatever looked good to me. One of those books was The Time Between by Karen White. Here is the summary from Amazon:
Eleanor Murray will always remember her childhood on Edisto Island, where her late father, a local shrimper, shared her passion for music. Now her memories of him are all that tempers the guilt she feels over the accident that put her sister in a wheelchair—and the feelings she harbors for her sister’s husband.
To help support her sister, Eleanor works at a Charleston investment firm during the day, but she escapes into her music, playing piano at a neighborhood bar. Until the night her enigmatic boss walks in and offers her a part-time job caring for his elderly aunt, Helena, back on Edisto. For Eleanor, it’s a chance to revisit the place where she was her happiest—and to share her love of music with grieving Helena, whose sister recently died under mysterious circumstances.
An island lush with sweetgrass and salt marshes, Edisto has been a peaceful refuge for Helena, who escaped with her sister from war-torn Hungary in 1944. The sisters were well-known on the island, where they volunteered in their church and community. But now Eleanor will finally learn the truth about their past: secrets that will help heal her relationship with her own sister—and set Eleanor free....
The Good Girl by Mary Kubica was one of the first books I bought using my credits at Audible.com. I just finished listening to it last week while I was on a work trip to Houston. I thought it was an interesting way to tell the story and really enjoyed it. Here's what Amazon has to say about the book:
"I've been following her for the past few days.
I know where she buys her groceries, where she
works. I don't know the color of her eyes or
what they look like when she's scared. But I will."
One night, Mia Dennett enters a bar to meet her on-again, off-again boyfriend. But when he doesn't show, she unwisely leaves with an enigmatic stranger. At first Colin Thatcher seems like a safe one-night stand. But following Colin home will turn out to be the worst mistake of Mia's life.
When Colin decides to hide Mia in a secluded cabin in rural Minnesota instead of delivering her to his employers, Mia's mother, Eve, and detective Gabe Hoffman will stop at nothing to find them. But no one could have predicted the emotional entanglements that eventually cause this family's world to shatter.
An addictively suspenseful and tautly written thriller, The Good Girl is a propulsive debut that reveals how even in the perfect family, nothing is as it seems.
This next book was on my list from last year and I never got around to reading it. Wool by Hugh Howey is another book I have gotten through Audible.com lately. However, at over 17 hours long it may take me a while before I start it. My plan is to listen to it this year though because I don't want to leave it un-read for yet another year. Here's the summary from Amazon:
For suspense-filled, post-apocalyptic thrillers, Wool is more than a self-published ebook phenomenon―it’s the new standard in classic science fiction.
In a ruined and toxic future, a community exists in a giant silo underground, hundreds of stories deep. There, men and women live in a society full of regulations they believe are meant to protect them. Sheriff Holston, who has unwaveringly upheld the silo’s rules for years, unexpectedly breaks the greatest taboo of all: He asks to go outside.
His fateful decision unleashes a drastic series of events. An unlikely candidate is appointed to replace him: Juliette, a mechanic with no training in law, whose special knack is fixing machines. Now Juliette is about to be entrusted with fixing her silo, and she will soon learn just how badly her world is broken. The silo is about to confront what its history has only hinted about and its inhabitants have never dared to whisper. Uprising.
I am not even sure how I heard about Tiny Pretty Things, but it sounds like it's a book that I would definitely like. Here's the summary from Amazon:
Black Swan meets Pretty Little Liars in this soapy, drama-packed novel featuring diverse characters who will do anything to be the prima at their elite ballet school.
Gigi, Bette, and June, three top students at an exclusive Manhattan ballet school, have seen their fair share of drama. Free-spirited new girl Gigi just wants to dance—but the very act might kill her. Privileged New Yorker Bette's desire to escape the shadow of her ballet star sister brings out a dangerous edge in her. And perfectionist June needs to land a lead role this year or her controlling mother will put an end to her dancing dreams forever. When every dancer is both friend and foe, the girls will sacrifice, manipulate, and backstab to be the best of the best.
Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline is another one of those books that I don't remember hearing about originally. I may have seen it in a book store or maybe it was recommended to me by my library based on other books I've read. Either way, I've already bought it and am looking forward to reading it. Here is the summary from Amazon:
Orphan Train is a gripping story of friendship and second chances from Christina Baker Kline, author of Bird in Hand and The Way Life Should Be.
Penobscot Indian Molly Ayer is close to “aging out” out of the foster care system. A community service position helping an elderly woman clean out her home is the only thing keeping Molly out of juvie and worse...
As she helps Vivian sort through her possessions and memories, Molly learns that she and Vivian aren’t as different as they seem to be. A young Irish immigrant orphaned in New York City, Vivian was put on a train to the Midwest with hundreds of other children whose destinies would be determined by luck and chance.
Molly discovers that she has the power to help Vivian find answers to mysteries that have haunted her for her entire life – answers that will ultimately free them both.
Rich in detail and epic in scope, Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline is a powerful novel of upheaval and resilience, of unexpected friendship, and of the secrets we carry that keep us from finding out who we are.
And that's it, the end of my fiction reading list for 2015. So far this year I have read five books out of the fifteen I have chosen. I'm currently reading my sixth book from the list, Ensnared. I own all but two of the books, so at least this year I won't be waiting on copies to become available from the library before I can read them.
Maybe halfway through the year I will write a review on one or two of my favorite books so far, so stay tuned for those.
Tea Haul: DAVIDsTEA
Last week a co-worker told me about DAVIDsTEA and I knew right away that I had to check it out. Their website has amazing pictures of their loose-leaf tea and great descriptions for each flavor. I started shopping around and before I knew it I had not only qualified for free shipping after spending $50 but had also qualified for a free gift for spending over $100! Despite spending a small fortune, I really felt like I got a lot for my money. Here's everything I bought:
See what I mean about getting a lot for my money? That's nine different teas plus a mug, spoon, and a teapot/teacup set! And even better, my order confirmation email said I should get the package on April 26 and it actually came one day early!
Here are the pictures I took of my package and the contents.
Now I'll share links to each of the flavors I selected and also show the great pictures of the loose leaf tea from the website.
GREET THE DAY: We all know the classic morning ritual: a cup of coffee and a glass of orange juice. But what if you could get your energy boost and fresh-squeezed fruity taste all in one cup? We’re serious. Shake up your old routine with this fruity maté blend, and you may never go back. It’s got the juicy flavour of orange, papaya and pineapple, plus the high-energy punch of green yerba maté. Just one sip and you’ll feel alert, refreshed and ready for anything. Say hello to your new main squeeze. (MK Kosher)
Green yerba maté, candied papaya, pineapple, safflower, natural flavouring.
Strawberry Rhubarb Parfait
PICTURE PARFAIT: The ancient Chinese used it in medicine. The medieval Europeans traded for it along the Silk Road. And today we love it in pies, sauces, muffins or just plain, dipped in a little sugar. But the best way to eat rhubarb is with sweet, ripe strawberries. Like in this refreshingly fruity, deep red tisane. It tastes as bright and juicy as a fresh-picked berry, with a tart rhubarb punch and a subtle hint of yogurt creaminess. We love it hot or iced, or as the base for sweet, zippy sangria. Now that’s a beautiful thing. Caffeine-free.
Apple, hibiscus, raisins, carrot, yogurt bits, beetroot, strawberry, rhubarb, natural and artificial flavouring.
THINK PINK: When life gives you lemons, reach for this zippy hot pink blend. One sip is enough to turn any frown upside down. Not only is it packed with rooibos, hibiscus and other good-for-you stuff, it’s also unbelievably delicious any way you drink it. Served hot, it’s a tart and tasty throat soother. On ice, it’s an addictively tangy summer refresher. And if you really want to take it to the next level, freeze it into ice cubes and blend them up with some agave and a splash of vodka. Hello, grown-up slushie. (MK Kosher)
Hibiscus, mango, lemon peel, rooibos, lemon myrtle, lemongrass, stevia, cornflower petals, natural and artificial lime, lemon and sugar cane flavouring.
BERRY BERRY QUITE CONTRARY: Rich, dark, sweet and addictive – is there anything more delicious than a perfectly ripe blackberry? Not that we can think of. And with this unbelievably fruity tea, you can capture that fresh-off-the-bush taste anytime, anywhere. Served hot, it’s like a warm slice of blackberry pie. Over ice, it’s like a scoop of blackberry sorbet. With apple, hibiscus, rosehips and blackberry, it’s better than good…It’s supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!
Apple, hibiscus, blackberry leaves, orange peel, rosehips, rose petals, artificial blackberry and cream flavouring.
PARTY LIKE IT’S YOUR BIRTHDAY: What’s the best thing about birthdays? It could be the presents, or spending time with loved ones, but let’s be honest. It’s all about the cake. With vanilla icing, and lots of sprinkles. And this sweet and festive rooibos blend brings the taste of birthday cake to your cup any day of the year – sprinkles and all. Best of all, not only is it low in calories, it also has all the goodness of rooibos. Talk about having your cake and eating it too.
Red and green rooibos, honeybush, sprinkles, ice cream bits, natural and artificial flavoring. Contains milk, eggs and soy.
Vanilla Chai (organic)
CHAI SOMETHING NEW: There’s no better way to warm up a chilly winter day than a hot cup of chai. The combo of rich black tea and exotic spice is like a cup of pure comfort. And this spicy black tea blend turns up the heat even more with a sweet and creamy hint of vanilla. It’s as cozy as a teddy bear wearing a scarf. In front of a roaring fire. While cuddling with a puppy. Try it with milk and sugar for a warming treat that’ll have you wishing for snow.
Organic: Cinnamon, black tea, licorice root, ginger, vanilla. With natural vanilla and cream flavouring.
Midsummer Night's Dream
SUMMER LOVE: This citrusy-mint tea is refreshingly magical, with sweet apples, cool spearmint, tart gooseberries, orange oil, and petals of marigold and rose. But before you take a sip, we should probably warn you that it’s a bit of a love potion. For some people, it seems to turn regular summer evenings into dreamlike nights of romance and enchantment. Ice it and see what happens. Caffeine-free.
Apple pieces, spearmint, freeze-dried whole cape gooseberries, marigold blossoms, safflowers, rose petals. With artificial flavouring.
Garcinia Goodness (organic)
GOODNESS GRACIOUS: We all sometimes need a little after-dinner relief. Next time, reach for this earthy, citrusy tea. It combines pu’erh and garcinia – two traditional metabolism boosters. Haven’t heard of garcinia? It’s a small tropical fruit that looks a bit like a mini pumpkin. And in its native Asia, it’s been used as a natural appetite suppressant for centuries. Here we blend it with black tea, pu’erh, orange peel and hibiscus, for a rich, earthy tea you can feel good about drinking. The perfect end to any meal.
Organic: Black tea, puerh tea, orange peel, hibiscus, garcinia, stevia, red cornflower. With natural orange flavouring.
Mint Chocolate Rooibos
FRESHLY MINTED: You won’t want anything else for dessert when you taste this tea. Even the aroma is totally satisfying. Minty fresh, with hints of dark chocolate and rich vanilla. Pour it and admire the coppery red of the rooibos, then take a sip and sink into its velvety sweetness. You can’t help but fall in love.
South African rooibos, chocolate, cacao, peppermint, natural and artificial chocolate flavouring*. Contains soy. May contain milk.
So those are the nine different teas I selected. I have already tried a couple and they taste as good as they sound! If you are interested in trying them out make sure to use the code TEAFORONE if you spend $100 so you can get the free teapot/teacup set!
On my last day of the cruise I had a long list of things I wanted to do. I started the day by going to get breakfast at Johnny Rockets on the Boardwalk. Once I was done with breakfast I went to the casino and had a really lucky morning on the slot machines. After playing for a long time I decided to go back to my room and to start packing. I had been packing for a while when I decided to take a break and went to the wine bar, Vintages, for a lunch of tapas. It was the best meal of the trip!
At 3pm I had the ice show to go to so I went and got a spot for that. I thought they did a pretty good job, especially for how much the ship was rocking. It always makes me nervous watching them do all of those jumps on such a small ice rink and we did have a couple of wipeouts so that took a little away from the show for me.
After the show was over I wandered through the Promenade and I finally got a chance to go into the pub and get my cider that I had been planning on drinking. I was even able to buy use my two-for-one coupon and get one for free! I took one of the ciders up to my room to drink it while I got ready for dinner and then headed to the dining room. I realized as I was getting ready that the sun was setting so I was able to go out on my balcony and take some really nice pictures of the sunset, which was a nice ending to my last day on the ship.
For my last dinner of the trip I ended up sitting with my favorite couple that I met the whole week. At the end of the dinner they gave me one of the wife's business cards, so I have already reached out to them and hope to keep in touch. I sent her some links to previous cruise related posts, so she might even be reading this blog right now! If so, "Hi Pamela"!
Once I was done eating I went back down to the casino hoping that my good luck would continue from the morning. It really did stick around and I ended up winning back all of the money I spent in the casino during the whole week. It felt good to break even! At one point I had to stop gambling and go up to my room so that I could put my suitcase out in the hallway for them to take to the airport for me because I was using their luggage valet program. I went back to the casino and kept playing for little while but eventually decided I was done gambling for the trip. I went up to Central Park to walk through and enjoy the scenery one last time. Then I went to bed shortly after that because I knew it would be an early morning the next day and that I would need plenty of energy in order to make it through a long day of travel.
I woke up earlier than expected on Saturday morning and was able to watch the last sunrise of my trip in the port. It was beautiful!
Next I ran down and got a coffee from Park Café and then came back upstairs so I could shower and get ready to leave. Before long I was ready to hit the road and I went down to debark from the ship. As I was waiting in an hour long customs line I realized I had forgotten to eat breakfast in the buffet like I had planned! No wonder I was so hungry!
After a quick taxi ride to the airport I went to the information desk to find out if it was possible to catch a ride downtown because I wasn't able to go to my gate until two hours before my flight. At this point it wasn't even 10am and my flight wasn't until after 4:30 in the afternoon. Sure enough there was a free trolley that could take me downtown so I went outside and grabbed the trolley. Once we arrived downtown I went into the welcome center and they were able to point me in the direction of a good breakfast place down the road. She warned me that there would be a long wait but that the food was good enough that it would be worth it. Sure enough the wait at the Old Fort Lauderdale Breakfast House was 50 minutes. The weather had warmed up and the sun had come out so I sat outside and drank some coffee while I waited for them to call my name.
Once I was done eating I decided I was ready to head back to the airport. I caught the trolley near the welcome center and rode back to the airport where they dropped me off. I still had about an hour and a half before I could go through security so I got settled in a spot on the floor and relaxed until it was time to go through security. At about 2:30 I headed to my gate and grabbed some food on the way. I ate and charged my phone at the charging station until it was time to get on the plane.
I had already decided I wanted to sit on the left side of the plane so that I would have a nice view of the sunset we would have on the way home. I sat next to some really nice ladies who had also gotten off a cruise that day. We talked about our trips and discussed the differences between our two ships.
The flight felt really long so I was happy when we finally landed in Denver. I met my mom, who came to pick me up, and we went to go grab my luggage. Thankfully my suitcase had arrived and came out almost as soon as we walked up to the carousel. I drove us home and I lugged my suitcase up the stairs. Very soon after that I collapsed into bed, exhausted from the long day of travel.
Overall, my trip was amazing! It went by so fast because there was always something to do or see. I didn't spend as much time relaxing as I thought I would, but I was happy that I did everything I had hoped to do on the trip.
Typically by now I would have already booked my next cruise, but I think I have gone everywhere I want to go on a cruise ship for the time being. Eventually I would like to go on a southern caribbean itinerary and I'd also love to do a Mediterranean cruise, but I'm going to save those for later.
I hope you enjoyed reading my trip report! Thanks for following along!
Thursday was the first of two sea days and my second to last day on the ship. I had planned on sleeping in because I didn't have anything specific I wanted to do but I ended up waking up earlier than expected anyway. I looked at the calendar of events and made a list of everything I wanted to do. Here's what I came up with:
So much for not having much to do!
First, I went down to Promenade Cafe to get a coffee and then went back to my room to get ready to go to the pool. I had gotten too much sun the day before so I knew I wanted to find a good spot in the shade. I found an awesome spot in a cabana type area and got situated there. I left my stuff and went and got a custom made omelette at the Wipeout Cafe and brought my food back to eat in my chair. I relaxed for a while and then decided I was done laying around so I gathered up my stuff and made room for someone else to take the great spot I had been hogging.
I started the afternoon by going to the Men's International Belly Flop Competition. I had already planned on getting a spot on the upper balcony so that I could sit in the shade and get a good view for my pictures and videos. After the competition I was hungry for a late lunch so I went to the Mexican restaurant, called Sabor, on the Boardwalk. I had tableside guacamole and a cheese quesadilla along with Yucca fries that were actually really good even though I didn't know what to expect.
After lunch it was time to head to Vintages for my wine tasting. There was a large group of people that had signed up for the wine tasting but I got a great spot right in front of the guy who did all the talking so I had a great perspective of the whole thing. We didn't just taste wine like I had expected, instead he told us quite a bit of information about the regions in Italy of the wine and some of the history of winemaking. Altogether it was very informative and I actually really enjoyed the wines even though three out of four of them were reds which I typically don't like. My favorite part was that they had a cheese plate in front of us and had us tasting cheese along with the wine which really enhanced some of the flavors. It was a really cool experience and definitely unique to have my first wine tasting on a cruise ship in the middle of the ocean.
After wine tasting it was time to head to dinner. I went to my room and watched sunset from my balcony as I got ready. I went to the dining room and was seated with two older couples who had known each other for a very long time and had an enjoyable meal with them, talking and enjoying our food. I went to the casino after dinner for a short while and not long after that it was time to head to the theater for the Come Fly With Me aerial show. I really enjoyed the show and got some really great pictures and videos that only capture the basics of the show, it was much better in person.
Once I left the theater I headed to the Boardwalk for the fountain show at the Aqua Theater. I got there early enough that I had a great spot and chatted with the woman who sat next to me while we waited for the show to start. The show didn't last for long so once it was done I headed to the casino for a while. The last item on my list for the day was the Quest game show. They describe it as an "adult scavenger hunt", but other than that it is hard to describe if you haven't been to one. By the time Quest was done I was ready for bed, so I headed to my cabin and found a towel monkey hanging out waiting for me. I added him to the group of towel animals on my couch.
Tomorrow will be a combination of my last full day on the ship along with my trip home the following day. Stay tuned for this last segment!
On Wednesday we arrived in St. Maarten at about 7:30. I had an excursion booked that started at 8:30, so I had to be off the ship as soon as they opened the gangway. We were told right away that the water conditions were really rough and they gave us the option of skipping the catamaran tour of the coast for a discount of 25%. Having just been on a catamaran the day before I didn't feel like I was really missing out on much by skipping the water portion of the excursion. Plus, I had met a really nice pair of ladies who I hit it off with and they were going to skip the boat tour as well, so it all worked out the way it was supposed to happen. We got on a bus and the driver gave some commentary as we drove through first the Dutch side and then the French side.
When we got to Marigot we were told we would have two hours to explore, shop, and eat lunch. I grouped up with the ladies I had clicked with. Our first stop was a French bakery called Sarafina's that I had read about on Cruise Critic and that they had heard about from a friend. I had eaten breakfast earlier than usual so I was ready for lunch by the time we got to the bakery. I ordered a cheese sandwich on French bread and my favorite French drink called Orangina. For dessert I had a hard time deciding from all the options but I ended up getting an amazing chocolate mousse-type dessert that had a chocolate macaroon on top. It was heavenly!
After eating we still had a lot of time to kill so we wandered down to the water and then through the market where all the souvenir vendors were set up. We also walked through a small mall and then relaxed on a bench in the shade until it was time to get back on our tour bus. We took a long winding ride along the coast and even drove past a nude beach. The driver offered to let us out for a few minutes to explore but we all declined. I saw enough skin from the bus window that I didn't need to get any closer!
Pretty soon we were back at the ship and I parted ways with my new friends. I went back to my cabin and took my first and only nap of the whole trip. I watched sail away and sunset from my balcony and then headed to dinner.
After dinner we had the 70's disco party so I grabbed a spot on the upper level of the Royal Promenade to get some pictures and video. I didn't stay the whole time because it was so loud and crowded, but it looked like everyone was having fun. After the party I wandered over to the Boardwalk and took some pictures now that it was night. Then I went to the casino and stayed up well past midnight since I didn't have an early morning the next day.
Tomorrow's post will be my next day at sea. This one was much more relaxing than the last one, so I won't have as much to write about. It's hard to believe the trip report is almost over. I hope you are enjoying reading it as much as I am writing it!
On Tuesday morning we arrived in St. Thomas. When I opened my blinds in the morning I couldn't believe how beautiful it was! The water was an amazing shade of turquoise and there were sailboats along the beach, so amazing!
I started the day by getting breakfast in the Solarium Bistro. On my way there I managed to walk into a glass wall! I obviously didn't see it coming and smacked right into it! Thankfully the only people around were a couple of kids. With nothing majorly hurt except for my pride, I continued on to breakfast. It was a light breakfast and very healthy.
We arrived to the port at 10 and I was able to get off the ship almost right after we got there. I wandered through some shops and then relaxed on a bench in the shade while I waited for it to be time to meet with my excursion group. Pretty soon we were on an open air bus that had to drive up and down some crazy hills and maneuver down an impossibly narrow "2-lane road".
Eventually we made it to the catamaran and got loaded up. I was lucky enough to get a seat at the very front of the catamaran next to one of the nets. I did get sprayed a few times, but it was totally worth it! We sailed to Honeymoon Beach on St. John and then got geared up to snorkel. I had planned on staying on the boat and just relaxing, but for some reason I changed my mind at the last minute and decided I wanted to try snorkeling.
It took me a while to get comfortable with it and we had a strong current to deal with getting from the boat to shore. But once I was in calmer water I felt really comfortable and enjoyed myself. Pretty soon it was time to head back to the boat, where we were served copious amounts of champagne and rum punch, which were both delicious!
Once I was back on the ship I grabbed a snack and headed to my room. I was still hungry so I ordered room service and then took a shower after eating. I could see the sunset from my balcony, so I took a couple of pictures. I was pretty wiped out by that point but it was so early that I made myself get out of the room.
First I went to the casino and then I wandered to the very back of the ship and relaxed for a few minutes. I also took a walk through Central Park, which was even more magical at night. I finally decided that a long drawn out dinner just wasn't going to happen, so I went back to my room and put on my bathing suit so I could go relax in one of the cantilevered hot tubs in the Solarium. I also tried out one of the big chairs at the very front of the Solarium and it was so comfortable!
I eventually headed to my room and got ready for bed. I went to sleep at about 10 and had an alarm set for an early wakeup at 6:30.
Tomorrow I'll be writing about another busy day in port. My St. Maarten excursion got changed at the last minute, but I'll explain more tomorrow. Stay tuned!
The third day of the cruise was a sea day. I had a busy day scheduled for myself and got through almost everything! Here is my to-do list from that day:
See how I had to schedule in time to relax in the afternoon? No wonder I was exhausted when I got back from my vacation!
First I woke up around 6am to watch the sunrise from my balcony. I had figured out ahead of time that there would only be two days when I could see the sunrise from the comfort of my cabin, so I made it a point to wake up early on this day so I could watch the sunrise without having to leave my room. After the sun was up I showered and got dressed so that I could go eat breakfast in the main dining room.
After breakfast I went to the Cruise Critic Meet & Mingle. I talked to a few people who seemed friendly, but didn't make a strong connection to anyone. After that I went to bingo and didn't win anything. I knew I wanted to play at least once, so I was able to cross that off my list!
By that time I was ready for lunch, so I went to Izumi for sushi. They didn't have many fish-free options on the menu, but thankfully they were willing to make me a vegetable roll, which was really good. Once I was done eating I was ready to chill out & relax, so I headed to the Solarium. Unfortunately there weren't many spots open, so I moved to a few different chairs before finding a good spot. I guess I wasn't in the mood to relax because after a short time of sitting still I was up and moving around again. I went to get some soft serve ice cream and then headed back to my room.
When I got to my room I changed and went to the Rising Tide Bar for a lesson on making martinis. It was a really cool experience because I learned some really good martini recipes and I was able to be in a cool bar at the same time. The Rising Tide Bar is a moving bar that rises three stories to end up in Central Park, almost like a big elevator that serves drinks. Altogether it was a really unique experience and I'm happy I did it!
Next I had planned to go to the wine tasting at Vintages, but it turned out I needed a reservation. I ended up signing up for another one later that week. Instead of doing the wine tasting I spent some time at the casino before dinner. I ate with some more nice couples and then relaxed in the room for a little bit before my evening activities. At 9pm I saw the comedy show and at 10:30 I watched the Love & Marriage game show. Then I went back to the casino and turned $35 into $95. I called it at night after midnight.
Coming up on tomorrow's report is my champagne catamaran sail in St. Thomas. Would I be brave enough to try snorkeling for the first time ever? Keep reading to find out!
On the first full day of the cruise I woke up to the call from room services saying my breakfast was on its way. I got set up on the balcony and took my usual "breakfast on my balcony" picture, which is always a favorite of mine. Whenever I am wishing to get away I look at those pictures and remember the feeling of being completely relaxed and at rest.
After my quick breakfast I decided to get a mocha because the room service coffee was terrible. I really liked that my room was so close to Central Park because it quickly became on of my favorite spots on the ship! The coffee I got at Park Cafe tasted nothing like a mocha, so I grabbed a packet of hot chocolate and made my own! Now that I had a coffee I could drink I went back to my room to shower and get dressed. After that I grabbed my camera and set out to take pictures of the whole ship. I had hopes that it would be less crowded with some of the passengers out in port. I started at the top and worked my way down, also giving myself a nice tour of the areas I hadn't seen yet.
After I was done taking pictures I went back to my room to charge my phone a little bit and grab the stuff I needed for the golf tournament. I also took some time to write out my journal for day one. Then I headed to the Solarium Cafe for lunch. They had some tasty food that was supposed to be healthier, plus I was able to check it off my list of places to eat! Next I spent some time relaxing in the Solarium in a comfy chair drinking a frozen drink and waiting for my golf competition.
After spending some quiet time in the Solarium I decided to check out the Sport Deck. I watched a couple of people do the zip line and decided that if it freaked me out to watch someone else do it there was no way I could do it myself! Then I went and watched a few people do the Flowrider surf simulator. Some people were really good but most of them could barely stay up for a few seconds!
Next it was time for the golf competition I had planned through Cruise Critic so I headed over to the mini golf course. I was there about 10 minutes early and asked a couple of people if they were there for the tournament, which they weren't. I stayed until 10 minutes after we were supposed to start and nobody ever showed up. I was really disappointed and honestly upset that nobody had bothered to come. It actually hurt my feelings a little bit because I had expected that maybe half the people would show up but it had never occurred to me that nobody would come!
After that disappointment I went to the Wipeout Cafe to try the fries I had heard were really good. They were actually pretty tasty. Since I had some free time I went to the casino next.
After that I went back to the room to get ready for the formal night dinner. I was a little late to dinner but it all worked out because I sat with two really nice couples. We had good conversation and one couple even invited me to sit with them during Cats. Right after dinner I headed to the Royal Promenade to hear the captain speak. Then I ended up skipping Cats and after some more time at the casino I decided to call it a night and go to bed.
Thanks for sticking with me through today's long report! Tomorrow's report will be much shorter because it was a sea day and I didn't take very many pictures. Stay tuned for more!
On Saturday morning I woke up way before my alarm went off, probably because I was so excited to get onboard Oasis and get the cruise started. I remembered that the ship would be arriving in port right at that time, so I went to the webcam for Port Everglades and was able to watch Oasis come into port. It was a great way to get even more excited about the cruise!
Once I was dressed and ready to go, I went downstairs for the free breakfast provided by the hotel. Then I walked to the Publix grocery store near the hotel. Mapquest said it was half a mile away, so I had walked a mile before even getting on the ship! I went to the Publix to get my two bottles of wine I was allowed to bring on the ship with me. I got the champagne I really liked, not thinking about the fact that I'd have to drink each bottle in a day before it went flat!
After getting back from the store I took my stuff down to the lobby to wait for my shuttle at 10:30. I got lucky and the shuttle driver for the 10am departure said he had room for me, so I got to leave for the port right away. There was some traffic to get to the port, but we were still there by 10:30.
Because we were so early, I was one of the first people to check in at the port. There wasn't anybody in line, so it went really fast. The ship hadn't gotten clearance yet, so we had to wait about an hour before they could let us on. Soon enough it was time to get on the ship! I will admit that I spent a lot of time before the cruise watching YouTube videos of Oasis, so I think that may have taken away from the "wow factor" when I first boarded. I knew exactly what it would look like and didn't get that surprise like other people probably did.
I went to the dining room right away and asked them to put a note on my account that I'd like to sit at a table of solo cruisers. After that I wandered around for a short while until it was time for lunch at noon.
Having decided ahead of time that I wanted to eat lunch at Giovanni's Table on the first day, I made my way there to get a table. They had a $15 cover charge which is cheaper than dinner there. I was the first person to be seated, but a couple other tables came in after me. I used my drink package right away and got Pellegrino water and a Sprite. For lunch I had the margherita flatbread which was just okay and then the mushroom risotto which was amazing. I didn't even have room for dessert, so they boxed up two pieces of their chocolate tart for me.
Next it was time to go see my room. I got there right at 1pm when they opened the doors to the staterooms. I found mine easily and was pleasantly surprised by the size. This was my first time not having a Junior Suite so I wasn't sure what to expect. I got another surprise when there was a knock at the door and my luggage had arrived. It was so early, I hadn't expected it until later. Since I was already in my room with my luggage I decided it would be a good time to unpack. I have a system of where to put everything in my stateroom, so packing went fast. I also called my mom to say hi and tell her I had made it onto the ship.
After unpacking I went to the Solarium Bar and got my traditional embarkation wildberry lava flow, although I opted for a virgin drink so it would go towards my pre-paid drink package. Then I went down to deck 4 for the muster drill (which was thankfully inside) and once that was done I went back up to my room for sail away. My room steward hadn't come by to introduce himself yet, so I hadn't been able to request a wine glass. The only option was to use my Coke cup that came with the drink package, so I made sure to take a picture in order to show how classy I was drinking champagne out of a plastic Coke cup. Once sail away started I took a bunch of pictures and videos of us leaving port and then got ready for dinner.
At dinner I sat with two older couples who were very nice and talkative. After dinner it was time to check out the casino. I sat down to my first machine, hit the spin button three times and won $61 right off that bat. Just like that I had more than doubled my money! I played until it was time to head to the Aqua Theater for the dive show. It was amazing! Even better than I ever expected!
After the show I went back to the casino until about 11 and then I was ready for bed. It had been a long day!
Coming up tomorrow is our half day in port at Nassau. I stayed on the ship and used the time to take pictures of the whole ship from top to bottom, so tomorrow's post will include a picture tour!
It's taken me over two weeks, but I am finally getting around to writing my trip report for my latest trip! First, here's a look at what I did day-by-day so you can get an idea of what is coming up in this report:
My flight to Florida didn't leave until 11:35am, so thankfully I didn't have to wake up before dawn to make it to the airport on time. It also helped that my mom offered to drive me to the airport, so that meant I didn't have to worry about parking offsite and catching the shuttle to the terminal.
I arrived at the Denver airport about two hours before my flight took off, so I grabbed breakfast and then found a seat at my gate. I passed the time by listening to an audiobook on my phone. Before long, it was time to board. The flight seemed to take forever, probably because I was excited to arrive in Florida and get my trip officially started!
After we landed I grabbed my suitcase from the baggage carousel and headed outside to catch my shuttle to the Sleep Inn I was staying for one night. The shuttle area was a mad house and very chaotic. Thankfully my shuttle only took about 20 minutes to arrive and pretty soon we were on our way to the hotel.
Once I was checked in to my room I decided that I would just order pizza delivery instead of trying to take another shuttle to a nearby restaurant. While I waited for the food to arrive I got my clothes situated for the next day and packed my backpack with the items I didn't want to leave in my suitcase. Not long after eating dinner I decided to go to bed and have an early night so that I would be rested up for the big day tomorrow.
Up next tomorrow, boarding the largest cruise ship in the world! Also, my first Oasis dining experience with strangers…would they be friendly or would it be awkward? Stay tuned to find out!
My name is Beth and I live in Denver. I am a single lady in my 30's and wanted to start sharing my awesome and amazing life through a blog.