Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Vacation Post: Carnival Breeze Review & Photos!

Hello Barbies!

Sorry it's been a few weeks since my last post. I've been super busy with work and also volunteering 1-2 nights a week until late, so life has been pretty hectic, but professionally and personally rewarding. The craziest part was two weeks ago, when amidst volunteering and a crazy work week, we were frantically packing, planning, shopping and making arrangements for our 3 year wedding anniversary cruise. We left for the cruise two weekends ago and were gone for 8 days. We were on Carnival's newest ship, the Carnival Breeze, with stops in St. Thomas - US Virgin Islands, Antigua, Tortola - British Virgin Islands, and Nassau - Bahamas. This was my 7th Caribbean cruise and hubby's 4th, so we'd seen a lot of the Caribbean already, but had never made it to the exotic eastern Caribbean, so this was a real treat.
The ship was great. We always love Carnival but the décor and ship plans get to looking a little redundant after a few cruises. Luckily, the Carnival Breeze was decorated and designed by a new designer (Carnival's longtime interior decorator retired I heard), making things feel very different - which we loved! Personally, I found it to be more tasteful and also more soothing/less hectic. Instead of the rainbow, glittery décor of all of our previous Carnival ships, the Breeze was decorated in only blues and a sand color, with beach wood walls and floors and giant photos of tropical beaches everywhere, a la the Holister store in your local mall.

As always, the staff and service were the best parts. I don't know how Carnival does it, but they always find the friendliest people to work on their ships. Special shout outs to Ioan and Nipaporn in the Sapphire restaurant, Larry on the Lido and Raul in housekeeping. You all were fab!
The islands were some of the most gorgeous we've ever seen, especially Antigua.
In St. Thomas we took a cab to Secret Harbour for some beach time. It was very pretty and had a nice little restaurant on it. Then we went to Mountain Top, the highest point on the island for the most AMAZING view (see the 3rd photo , which isn't filtered or edited and was taken on my iphone!).

 In Antigua we splurged (although we still got a really great deal I feel like through Uprising Stables) and rode horses on the beach, just hubby and I with a tour guide, alone on a super long, empty, breathtakingly beautiful beach. It was truly a once in a lifetime experience. It was amazing. We then walked back to the beach where we had been with the horses since it was so long, beautiful and EMPTY! We stayed there until we got too sunburnt, then we ventured back to the ship. The beach was called Runaway Beach.

By Tortola, our 3rd consecutive 7am island day, we were a little worn out. I don't recommend cruise itineraries with multiple island days back to back. Snorkel gear in tow, we went to Brewer's Bay Beach, which several locals said was the best snorkeling on the island. As a marine sciences minor in undergrad (and probably the only lawyer who was dumb enough to take 4 marine science classes prior to law school), I won't get on my soapbox about how awful the coral bleaching was in this "amazing snorkeling bay." In the Eastern Caribbean, in a choice bay, the coral and camouflaging fish should have been incredibly vibrant and colorful, but almost everything was white. It's sad, because traveling as a child with my parents in the Caribbean I remember the coral as it was supposed to be, colorful. Unfortunately, because of rising sea water temperatures from global climate change, it's almost all bleached/dead. Okay, so maybe I did get on a soap box, just had to get that out there. It's just sad to me that  I'll never be able to show my husband and kids what coral and tropical fish should look like. To prove I'm not crazy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coral_bleaching . Wikipedia sites an 80% increase in coral bleaching in the Caribbean in the last ten years alone. :(

After Tortola we had a "fun day at sea," as Carnival refers to days in transit between islands, to relax. We had 4 of these total on the cruise (3 before the first island) and we spent those days laying out by the pool on the back of the ship (the main Lido pool was so packed), in the casino, EATING... doing lots and lots of eating, in the hot tubs, in the broadway-esque nightly musical productions, doing trivia or bingo or in the HILARIOUS George Lopez comedy shows (Thomas Brown was freaking hilarious!). I almost enjoyed these days more than the island days.

After a day at sea to rest, we docked in Nassau, Bahamas, which we'd been to before together (and I also went as a child a few times with my family), but it's always nice to revisit. I swear, the sand in the Bahamas is the softest and lightest in the Caribbean. I also think the water was the clearest of the four islands we went to. We rented a scooter, explored the island, stopped by some cool historic caves on the back side of the island, shopped, and went to Atlantis. It was really nice.

All in all, it was a busy but really great trip. It was nice to see the lower eastern part of the Caribbean that we'd been missing and even better to get 8 days of uninterrupted, unplugged time together. We met a lot of great people, got to dress up every night (see my dark pink Ralph Lauren formal gown below!), ate a lot of good food (including way too much chocolate melting cake!), got lovely little tans, explored 4 counties... all hand in hand. I couldn't imagine a better way to celebrate our 3 year wedding anniversary. :)

The cherry on top was finally finding a new car for me, after searching since May to no avail, in Miami on the way back. Isn't she a beauty? One person has already referred to her as The Barbiemobile, so I'm thinking the name might stick.
Hubby got a pink roll of my deco mesh from our craft room and put this bow on her on our actual wedding anniversary (a day after we bought her/got back from the cruise). My first thought was that he used way too much of my expensive mesh, my second thought was that he must be getting really good at this marriage thing for our multi-month car search to magically end one day before our wedding anniversary, and maybe this was his plan all along. :)

Now that work is slowing down, volunteering with the neighborhood swim team has wrapped for the summer and the car search is over, I plan on enjoying the end of summer with hubby, friends and fam at the BDH and the amazing Hasentree pool. Summer has been crazy, but we hope to pick up on the home improvement projects again now that things are slowing back down. We got so much done this Spring but summer has been too busy to hardly remember we even have a house! We went to Miami, this 8 day Caribbean cruise, Texas and NYC all in the last six weeks! Woof!
I'm also co-planning with some amazing ladies a Great Gatsby themed couple's shower for my amazing best friend in a couple weeks to take place in the formal living room of the BDH, which we built/designed for this very occasion. It's going to be so glamorous! Stay tuned for pics. Ross is building a dining room table over the next few weeks (custom designed by him for our awkwardly long dining room) so that it will be ready for the shower. Pics to come!
xox barbies!
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