- Of all the process this was most defiantly the lengthier of them all. This is where the fast to the fun would have came in handy. Oh I didn’t mention that. If you book early enough an d the fast to the fun is still available its $99 per cabin purchase it. It has a lot of perks but the most important one is you get to debark first!
- we had to be out of rooms around 8am I think. I choose to take my luggage with me because once I got off I knew I’d be ready to hit the highway and drive home. We were on deck 6 and had about a 2 hour wait for our deck to be called to debark taking a elevator to deck 10 was a nightmare. The middle elevators only work to get to the lower level to debark so everyone that was waiting had to use the elevator at the front or the back and most people were going to deck 10. The lindo food bar is there for breakfast as is the main pool area. Once we got up there we got up there we ate breakfast and hung out at the pool area for 2 hours. I was thankful it was not hot.
- When our deck was finally called to go down we were in lines waiting to get through customs for another hour, with all our luggage in tow.
- This is where passports are so much more convenient than birth certificates. All they do is scan the passport and your own your way out. With Birth certificate and Ids they have to key stuff in.
- Once we made it through customs and were off the ship this is the moment I wished I would have parked in carnival parking instead of a third-party.
- they people that parked in carnival parking walked straight to the carnival garage got in their vehicles and left.
- Our third party was right outside with a sign but we had to wait another 20 minutes for our shuttle bus to drop off another party before they could pick us up. Then I literally watched like a hawk them load all our luggage because I didn’t want anything left.
- Getting out of the parking lot was miserable. People were coming in for the next cruise shuttles were blocking the way and it was a complete cluster.
- I want to leave you with this. I will now cruise every spring break with my children. This by far exceeds any spring break vaca we have every taken….including disney world. Please tip your cabin steward even if you pay your gratuities up front. They work extremely hard. I hope these blog post help you on your cruise. And if you’re a single mommy…..YOU ROCK!
I’m back and its Embarkation day or ITS CRUISE DAY BABY TIME TO BOARD YOUR SHIP.
- put yourself in a position to be on time for your boarding time. They give you a window to be there. Keep that time in mind you don’t want to be too early and defiantly not too late. We departed out of Galveston Tx, it’s about 3 1/2 from where we live so we went a day ahead and stayed in a hotel which was great because I didn’t have to rush in the morning. If you know me personally you know I’m terrible with mornings.
- Let me talk about parking. Shit it is confusing!!! There are a ton of people on every corner trying to get you to park in their lot. I was completely confused. I drove past the carnival lot entrance because of the amount of traffic trying to get in and opted for one of the other lots. I want to say parking for the week was about $80 the loaded our luggage on a shuttle and took us to or ship entrance. It was all of a 5 minute ride not bad.
- We arrived five minutes before our time window closed our window was between 1:30-2pm. There are people outside the port that will take your luggage for you. I made sure I tipped. it was much easier letting them take our luggage than standing with it in line.
- I’ve heard horror stories about getting on to the ship, however for us it was literally 20 minutes (make sure to keep your passports and Id on you, if you’re using birth certificates have those too. I kept all those in my bag back that I took with me. you will need those to get on the ship. Have lanyards for your room card. You need it on you at all times it’s how you get in and out of your room and purchase things.)and we were through the line checked in and on our way to find our room.
- The vista ship is magical! one thing that seemed like a inconvenience but honestly is great is the meeting they make everyone on the ship go to. There are thousands of people on the ship so they split you up into different areas, but everyone hears the same message.
- Things to do….literallly everything! from spas, to casinos, to kids clubs based on their age groups, basketball courts, pools, sky rides, golf, pool etc the itinerary is always filled with things to do. If you’re a single parent there is also single night. One thing I enjoyed with my pre-teen was movie night on the pool deck. Make sure you google your ship ahead of time and check it out! It’s also a fun way to get your kids excited about going on a cruise
- Dont be afraid to let your teenagers wander without you. I purchased the chat app its $5 per person so for us it was $20 bucks not bad and you can stay connected by texting each other. My teenage sons were honestly only with me about 20 percent of the entire trip. They played basketball, spent time at their club and made friends. I don’t think they ever made it to the room before 1am any night. Trust me its ok they’re fine. Now my sons are also 14 and 16. My 12-year-old went to her club some but spent the majority of her time with me. Which was fine. I love spending QT time with my princess .
- Make friends talk to people and drink. I got the bottomless bubbles for my kids. You can carry on a 12 pack of cans a piece but I didn’t want the inconvenience. They have an adult beverage drink package also. I didn’t buy this because I had my kids with so I brought my drinks secretly it was cheaper that way. However when I take a adult only cruise…please believe I will purchase that package.
- We took a 8 day cruise which had 4 stops Cozumel, Costa Maya, Belize my favorite, and Mahogany Bay…which we didn’t get to port at due to weather (yes that part completely sucked and I was bummed but we made the most of it and they took us back to Cozmuel again which was nice, though I would of rather went back to Belize.
- ok back on track. Excursions. You have the opportunity to buy excursions so we had 4 ports. You can buy an excursion through carnival or you can wait til you get to the destination to get an excursion. Be careful not purchasing through carnival however because if something happens and you don’t make it back to the ship on time the ship will leave you and you’ll be stuck finding your way back to the States.
- I wish someone would have told me not to buy an excursion at every port. As fun as they are they take away from shopping time and meeting the locals. I”m a writer so I’m kinda obsessed with humans. Also getting up early after not going to sleep til late can make for fussy kids,
- For all four excursions we did I think it totaled to around an extra $1,700 next time if we do four stops we’ll only do two excursions. I will say this snorkeling in Belize is a once in a lifetime opportunity and you should defiantly try it.
- Make sure if you purchase your excursions ahead of time (which I suggest because they come with discounts) that when you enter your room the first day you look for the envelope with them in them. They will be with our paper work on the desk. You will need your tickets for everything you purchased when you get to that destination so make sure you take them off the ship with you so you can be on time.
- The food is spectacular. If you’re in the dinning room we did my time dinning we could eat from 5:30-9:00pm we aren’t early dinner eaters so this worked out perfectly. We made our reservation on our chat app and our table was always ready in about 10 minutes. So make sure you are dressed and ready to go when you are reserving your table. Once in the dinning room order more than one entre and appetizer I mean you are on vaca! As awesome as the dinning room in after day 4 my kids and myself were over it. We did the lindo buffet, pizza, five guys burgers etc. There are so many options. I didn’t do any of the restaurants you had to pay for, there really isn’t a need with the amount of food on the ship.
- Also make sure you leave room in your luggage to shop. I’m quite sure my luggage went from 60 pounds when I boarded to about 100 pounds from my purchases.
- Have cash, or your credit card most places took credit cards also when shopping. I would never suggest using a bank debit card when out of the country.
What to pack? I mean come on packing for a cruise is just as important as getting on the ship. I can’t mention enough how important it is to reasearch.
- If you are going on a 7 or 8 day cruise you will need full size luggage. In my previous post I included the size luggage I packed.
- You will need multiple clothes best bet is to say plan on changing clothes it least twice a day, for us sometime we changed clothes 3 times just depending on what we were doing.
- make sure you take a light jacket it can be a bit chilly at times on the ship and depending on what time of year you leave and where you are leaving from it may be cooler leaving and coming back
- pack multiple swimsuits if you have them, swim trunks also
- flip flops, boat shoes, sneakers for excursions depending on what you’re doing. heels for elegant night, or a comfortable casual sandals. You walk alot on the ship.
- please don’t forget your sunscreen regardless of your skin tone I promise you need sun screen
- I read that luggage can not exceed 50 pounds. I can’t speak for any other cruise line but carnival doesn’t weigh your luggage and i’m all but certain both my luggage weighed more than 50 pounds. so don’t stress and dress that but pack smart.
- oh back to the shoes how many pairs? well it depends on how much of a shoe geek you are. You know you will need black and brown shoes they go with everything. I packed 10 pairs of shoes. I honestly wore about 5 pair my whole 8 day cruise. My black and brown Birkenstocks sandals were my most worn shoes my entire trip
- If you don’t have reliable luggage go to walmart.com or you local Walmart. They have reasonable priced luggage that will last you years to come. I’ll make sure I post a pic of all the luggage we took.
- ziplock baggies I’m the queen of zip lock baggies. Its so easy to organize in them. hair stuff, morning stuff, face stuff etc.
- Pack some type of motion sickness medicine. I brought dramamine for motion sickness from Walmart. I think it was around $4 a bottle, however we didn’t use any of it. Myself and my kiddos are dolphins and love water, and luckily we had no sea seasickness.
- pack a small first aid kit….trust me things happen
- pack a yetti cup with a lid, or if you’re like me the ozark trail cup from Walmart work just as well and they are easier on your pocket book, so if they come up missing you aren’t going to go ballistic 🙂 They offer free juice, water, and coffee on the ship. However the cups offered are small.. Pack your own cups so that you can carry them around and arent having to refill every 40 min
- What to pack for elegant night. I honesty I saw everything from prom dresses and tuxs, to sundresses and khaki and polos. It’s honestly up to how you’re feeling.
- If you are on a 7 to 8 day cruise you will have two elegant nights.
- Don’t forget a swimsuit cover up or two, If youre like me there were times I spent half of a day on the cruise ship in my swimsuit, and after excursions I shopped sometimes in my swimsuit, shorts, and birks.
- make sure everyone has a light weight water-resistant bag pack. You will need them for the first day of the cruise in case it takes a bit of time to get your luggage to your room. It took our luggage about 4 hours after we boarded to get to our room. You can pack your swim suits, cups, sunscreen and a light jacket in them and wear them on your back to carry with you.
- Your room has soap and shampoo however I packed my own soap and shampoo and conditioner just because i’m extremely particular about what I use.
- The luggage tags that you have to print are longer than regular luggage tags. I had read on the internet that a person had a mishap of just tapping their room tag on their luggage and it was raining the day they boarded and it destroyed their room tag and they didn’t get their luggage til the following day. So I used their method which they called “the redneck way for luggage tags” print the luggage tag, put it in a zip lock bag….or course I have zip lock bags :-)and zip tie them on your luggage. That way if it rains your room tag wont get destroyed. I’m also quite sure you can order large luggage tags…but hey this was extremely cost-effective.
- Makeup let me not forget for me, I did’t bring my mac makeup suitcase, cause thats honestly what it is. I packed some concealer, foundation, eyeliner, mascara, powder, lip gloss and liner. But honestly I rarely ever wore any of it and by the time we left Belize my skin was 5 times darker than normal so my foundation wouldn’t have matched anyway.
Being a single mom I was stumped about what to do for spring break vacation with my 2 teenage sons and preteen daughter. We had been to Florida multiple times and although Disney and universal are fun you can only do them so many times. After asking on fb for advice the same answer came up multiple times. Go on a cruise. I was beyond hesitant. Going out of the country with just myself and my children, and next being on a boat and having to the on a time limit when we port. Ultimately I decided on a cruise. I figured if we hated it no big deal there will be plenty of other vacations. Let me just say this we loved it!
1. Research! Critics cruise is a good site, of course Pinterest, and nothing happens without Google!
2. Ask people that have been on cruises for advice! A lot of things you won’t think of they will.
3. Yes you can cruise with birth certificates instead of passports as long as you are leaving and coming back to the same USA port. However make sure the destinations you are going to allow it. I will say this passports are much easier, and a lot quicker to get through customs when debarking (well get to this process a bit later) keep in mind most passports have to be valid for it least 6 months
4. How to choose a room, and the ship. It really all depends on your needs. I googled best cruise ships for teens and the carnival vista was in the top 5. I read a ton of reviews and figured this was the ship we’d try. Plus where I’m located I’m 3 1/2 hours to Galveston TX and 3 1/2 hours to New Orleans LA. I choose the middle of the ship deck 6 not to low not to high. The lower the deck middle ship the less rocking. Do you want a balcony, ocean view or interior room? I get claustrophobic easily, I also love everything about the ocean so choosing a balcony was a no brainer for me.
5. Room size I was completely paranoid about fitting 4 of us in one balcony room. I had called after reading reviews we’d be cramped, about getting another adjoining room. Because the only rooms available were about 20 cabins down I wasn’t able to add another balcony room, if the second room has children and no one over 18 the room can only be separated by no more than 5 cabins. Well shit there goes that idea. So then I asked about the family harbor cabin, it was middle ship deck 2 and had more space, I called carnival and asked about the upgrade and they told me an extra $3,000 yes that right not $300 but $3,000. I told them I’d call them back tomorrow to see if the room was still available. In the mist of that 24 hours I was talking to one of my associates who cruises often. She was like “why would you pay an extra $3,000 for just a bit more space you will hardly ever be on your room. Save that money for shopping.” She has caught my attention with the words “more money to shop.” If you know me you know I’m a minimalist, however I like quality and authenticity which the majority of the time equates to a higher price tag.
4. The balcony room was more than enough space for us. Keep in mind both my teenagers are males and my preteen is 12 and she doesn’t live in the bathroom just yet. Idk if I would have chosen this room if the genders had been reversed. The couch turned into a twin bed, there was a twin bed that dropped from the ceiling that my daughter slept on and two other twin beds. So we all had our own beds to sleep on. My sons kept their clothing in their luggage and it fit under the bed. They both have 28 inch suitcases. My daughter has her hard shell 24 inch luggage and I packed my hard shell 24 and 28 inch luggage. My daughter kept the majority of her clothing in her luggage and we got her luggage upright under the counter desk in the room. I unpacked both of my luggage and hung them in them in the 3 closets and used the drawers. Then put my empty luggage in the two hanging closets.
5. Yes I will go into what to pack in my next blog. Kind of a little backwards I know but hey…my blog is called imperfect-me for a reason.
Quiana aka to my family and close friends I’m Kiki, to my business colleagues and associates I’m Q. When its all said and done I am me.
Why talk about my past struggles? Why not just bask at where I’m at now in life? Why not talk about my past struggles? Why not tell the truth. There was a time when myself and my children ate ramen or bologna sandwiches daily for lunch, we ate chicken every night for dinner. There were times when I didn’t know where our next meal was coming from.
A single mom 5 kids, at the time they told me I made $130 too much for food stamps. $130 seriously? Said if I quit my “job” because at the time I only made $38,500 a year…..instead of her saying my career I still remember the woman telling me my job. She specifically said if I quit my job she could help me get section 8, food stamps, and child care. I remember walking away devastated. Thinking to myself all I need is some help with food, that’s it. I had begged and borrowed from just about everyone I knew. Yet I knew I couldn’t give up.
I remember sitting in my room crying on Christmas because I literally only had enough money to buy my kids about 2 gifts a piece, totaling to about $30 per kid. I remember feeling like such a failure. I remember only having a hand full of people that believed in me, a handful of people that encouraged me me and their motivation at times kept me going. Somehow though God always made a way. He always made it happen.
The reason I speak about my past is because I know what it’s like to wish, pray, grind, and at times it seems like you’re getting no where. I know what it’s like to wonder where your next meal is coming from, and how far can you make $20 stretch. I talk about my past because I want to show a single mother that it’s possible. Please don’t give up, please don’t give in. That hard work is going to pay off, and when it does…..don’t forget to tell your story. You may just be the reason another woman decides to give it her all and not give up.
So why speak of my past? Because it has help shape me into the woman I am. Without my past I wouldn’t be able to remain as humble as I am. I pray that woman from 10 years ago, trying to make $20 stretch, knows we made it and we aren’t stopping now!
Where to begin? I’m a 38 year old single mother of 5 with a granddaughter. I should probably mention I was married before….right. I mean god forbid people think “omg its a black woman that has 5 kids that has never been married.” Honestly though does it really matter if I were married or not? I also have a full time career that I have worked my ass off for. Yep I said it, ASS. If you get offended easily or if you need to hide behind a filtered mask and seem perfect, and correct every mistake that your human eyes can see…this isn’t the blog for you.
Be vulnerable, feel liberated, say SHIT. Its ok to admit that you fed your children sandwiches, chips, and a fruit juice on more than one occasion this week, because you just simply didn’t have it in you to cook. I promise you it’ll be ok. The world will go on, and your children will be just fine. We can talk about anything you like. I will post, as much as I can, I’m not a celebrity, I don’t have anyone proof reading my blogs and photo shopping my body before I post stuff (though I do know how to use a snap chat filter if needed). I want you to feel empowered…..to just be you, while I’m being me.
Thanks for joining me!
Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton