Carnival Cruise. Single Mom. Part 2

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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
  4. pack multiple swimsuits if you have them, swim trunks also
  5. 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.
  6. please don’t forget your sunscreen regardless of your skin tone I promise you need sun screen
  7. 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.
  8. 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
  9. 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.
  10. ziplock baggies I’m the queen of zip lock baggies. Its so easy to organize in them.  hair stuff, morning stuff, face stuff etc.
  11. 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.
  12. pack a small first aid kit….trust me things happen
  13. 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
  14. 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.
  15. If you are on a 7 to 8 day cruise you will have two elegant nights.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.

Carnival Cruise. Single mom with 3 kids. Part one

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.

Why am I so honest about my past??

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!

Let’s keep it real!

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.