Eight Days on the Carnival Horizon Cruise Line

I’ve cruised before but this was my first time cruising with Carnival and here’s my observations.

On June 2, 2018, my oldest son graduated from high school and I took him on his first cruise as his gift.   I also took my niece and her girlfriend along with us as they had recently graduated college.  We boarded the huge Carnival Horizon on June 5 anticipating 8 days of fun in the open water.  The first few days of sailing were at ‘at sea’ days as we made our way to the Caribbean from New York.  These days were spent by the pool, drinking, eating, enjoying and participating in shows, partying, relaxing, walking around the ship and taking photo shoots, enjoying Zumba on the deck, late nights in the jacuzzi, watching movies on the big screen under the stars, watching sunsets and spending time together.

On our second day at sea we got some unfortunate news.  One of the passengers suffered a heart attack and we had to turn back and sail toward North Carolina to meet the Coast Guard to air lift the passenger to land.  Due to this, we lost a day of traveling and had to miss one our port of calls- Turks and Caicos.  This was very disappointing because I had never been to Turks and Caicos and was really looking forward to it.  Even worse is the fact that Carnival did not give us anything in its place except a 20% discount voucher to cruise with them again.  So we made the best of our extra day at sea by exploring the ship.  Zamir rode the sky ride that I chickened out of at the last minute after seeing another lady having to be rescued once she got scared after starting the ride.  I was not about to be embarrassed like here.

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We did make it to San Juan, Puerto Rico, where Zamir and I decided to explore on our own.  We happened upon a beach and spent some time there.  Then we enjoyed a tasty treat and walked around the cobblestoned streets of San Juan where we took some fab pictures and purchased souvenirs.

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Our last port of call was Dominican Republic.  This was the highlight of our cruise.  We did the Big 3 excursion: Thrill bus ride, zip line, and beach.  The zip lining was amazing and so much fun.  There was the possibility that I would have a panic attack and chicken out but I was not about to do that.  I’ve wanted to zip line for a long time, so I just thought about the fun I was going to have and went for it.  As I climbed higher up the steps toward the first zip line, my heart began to beat so loudly, I thought others in the line would hear.  I was not quiet about being nervous and everyone was cheering me on, so I strapped on, watched my son zip across the trees, leaned back and went for it.  As my heart dropped a little, I allowed myself to enjoy the ride.  I opened my eyes and felt the wind breeze over my body.  Then it was over.  I DID IT and it was fun.  I was ready for the next one and even more excited for the bigger zip line straight across the ocean.   The last time I let go of fear and enjoyed a thrill was last year on my cruise with my husband to Cuba.  We jet-skiied in Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas.  I’m beginning to see a pattern here.  Anyway after the 3rd zip line, we did a sky course (obstacle course in the sky)- this was very fun too- then the last two zip lines were back over the ocean and over the trees to the beach.  I had a stiff drink after that and enjoyed some time by the ocean.  I’m still upset that we didn’t get a picture on the actual zip line but here are some pictures of the zip line itself and of D.R.

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We met some lovely friends on this excursion and partied with them for the remainder of the cruise

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After zip lining, I was feeling extra pumped so when we got back to the cruise, I decided to go all in and ride the skyride.   I literally pedaled a bike on the edge of a cruise ship over the ocean.  I chuckled just thinking about it.  Then we conquered the ships sky course (obstacle course high above the cruise).

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My son and I really enjoyed the cruise and did some bonding.  We went clubbing together and I saw him intoxicated smh.  We played some adult games together with a team and even won a small trophy at a trivia game.  We weren’t ready to return home.

I’ve cruised before but this was my first time cruising with Carnival and here’s my observations.  Carnival is a party cruise line.  There is always something to do for everyone.  However, their customer service does not even compare to Norwegian.  I had several problems with my meals including waiting over an hour on several days in the main dining hall to eat and finding a bug in my food.  Carnival nickel and dimes you.  There were so many extra charges for this and that, it was kind of ridiculous.  By the time the cruise was over, I had spend an additional 600+ for my son and I.  My suggestions, if you plan on going on the Carnival Horizon: pay attention to the fine print, plan for additional fees including a service and tax fee at the end of the cruise for 120+ pp, don’t expect too much from the food service, get to know the managers on board, make friends early (for several reasons), indulge in the activities, and shows, wear knee length shorts or pants if you plan to zip line, be sure to participate in the Carnival Quest game (18 years old and up) and go to the lip sync battle.  The Carnival Quest game is a must do! And by all means, have fun, try something new, YOLO!!

Here is some video footage of some of the shows we enjoyed..

 

 

How I spent my First Summer Break After Teaching Abroad

Super anxious to return to America after a full school year of living a dream, my 17 year old son and I buckled our seat belts, got comfy and prayed for a safe flight home.  After a mild flight across the Atlantic, avoiding the long custom lines, and quickly proceeding through the global entry kiosk, we were met with a welcome home sign by my nephew and husband.  It felt good to be home, in his arms (my husband that is) and in my familiar space.

My summer break back in the states was basically broken up into 3 distinct parts: The First 3 weeks, When new Friends Become Family and My 40th birthday celebration.  Yes, you heard me right, 40th, and proud of it.

The First 3 Weeks

...was spent loving my husband, shopping, and chillen.  I visited several of my favorite American stores either in person, online or in catalogues, (Macy’s, New York inc, Venus, and Marshals) and shopped for clothes, shoes, and other things to take back to Qatar with me.  I ate at some of my favorite restaurants and bars including (All the Way Live, The Pod, Chickies and Pete’s, The Raw bar, Chucks Alibi, Bonefish Grill).  I spent some time catching up with family and friends and we drank a lot.  I also purged, cleaned and got rid of a lot of items from my house since I would be renting it out to my sister for year 2.  Medical, dental and vision appointments also took place for me and the boys.  

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Strip club with friends, Sam, Luxy, Joe, April and hubby
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Old coworker turned friend for life, Theresa
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Welcome my new god-daughter Payton. And my son being silly in the background collecting a shopping delivery for me from the mailman

When new Friends Become Family

Darryl and I met up with my Qatar bestie, Jennifer and her boo Jermaine.   They drove up to D.C. from Florida and we drove down from Philly to D.C. to meet them.  They had never been to the capital and since we were both on the same coast we thought, road trip.  Together we visited some historical sites and grabbed some grub.  The next day we drove back home. 

A week later we boarded a plane to Las Vegas to attend their wedding.  We arrived just in time for me to attend the Bachelorette party, a party bus full of jovial people, bar hopping and plenty of spirits.  Darryl attended the Bachelor party the next day.  The wedding was on Friday and it was short and beautiful.  The reception was just the way I like them, good food, good music, fun people and good vibes.   The next day we enjoyed the Sunset hotel resort amenities like casino, restaurants and pool before packing up.

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The bachelorette party attendees.
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Darryl and I all dressed up for the wedding

 

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Mr. and Mrs. Dillard
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The beautiful bride and the beautiful friend

My 40th birthday celebration

I am a big birthday celebrator.  I usually like to spend the entire month of August celebrating my birthday, that is on the 8th but I only had 9 days in August to spend in America since school starts so early this year, so I didn’t have much time to do this.

My sisters Ericka and Michele kicked it off with a wine tasting at a Vineyard in New Jersey, then more drinks and snow crab legs (my second favorite food) at Chucks Alibi. We were supposed to go out dancing and some more drinking but one of us had a headache and two of us were tired so we called it a night.  This happens when two of you are over 40 and one of you is approaching 40.  I remember when I could party all day and all night but those days are few and far in between now.  It felt good chatting in the gazebo, listening to live music, man bashing, downing two bottles of wine after tasting 9 other wines, eating a block of cheddar cheese (which I don’t eat anymore, but it was nostalgic and felt good to cheat at the moment), telling them about my adventure overseas, taking pictures in the vineyard and pretending that time stood still if only for a few hours.  They get on my nerves but I love them.

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Chatting in the Gazebo over wine and cheese
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My sisters, Ericka and Michele

A few days later, my hubby and I hopped on a plane for a trip I desired for some time.   He was taking me to check CUBA off my list!  We flew into Miami, spent two nights there, then boarded our Norweigian cruise ship for 4 nights.  (Stay tuned for a more detailed post of all the adventures on our cruise) We spent the first night in the middle of the ocean sailing the open waters until we reached Havana.  (Stay tuned for a more detailed post on Cuba coming soon) The shipped docked there overnight.  The third night was spent on the open waters again until we reached Norweigan’s private Bahamian island Grand Stirrup Cay, one of the Berry islands.  On our last night we sailed back to Miami.  An overnight stay at Miami beach finished off our vacation as well as a seat in first class. (Stay tuned for a more detailed post of my experiences in First class) The trip was an epic gift from my husband and a great way to begin 40.

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Our home for 4 days- Norwegian Sky

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Cuba
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A day at the Beach in Miami

My son treated me to a pedicure and manicure and planned a dinner party for my actual birth day.  We went to Ocean Prime and 8 others joined us.  He planned it all by himself and I was so proud of him.  Even one of my oldest and best friends attended.  She had reached out to me before I came home and asked if we could hook up.  We met up before the Cuba trip and she apologized for past mistakes.  So her showing up for my my birthday was a big step in correcting past wrongs and moving on.  Anyway, my two sons, sister Ericka and my niece, nephew and his girlfriend attended the dinner and my friend and ex-coworker Angelic as well.  We had a great time and the food and drinks were tasty.

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My oldest and dear friend Ayana- We’re not perfect but we’re here
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Fabulous at 40

On August 9, I re-packed and hubby and I headed for New York for the long journey to Qatar.  I was one plus 1 person and short 2 others.  There are definitely some things I will miss about America as I enter year 2 abroad, but I was ready to return to the new place that I call home.  I missed it.  I missed my Qatar friends and my apartment.  I missed my bed and routines.  I was tired of spending money, although I enjoyed every penny of it.  I felt like I needed a detox from all the drinking I had done.  I was anxious to see what this school year holds for me.  There are so many things that I have grown to love about Qatar, but that is a post for another day!

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