My wife and I traveled to the Western Caribbean on the Carnival Cruise Ship the Legend; we take a cruise every year with a couple we have known in Florida for quite some time.
We decided to take this year’s cruise to the Caribbean for 7 nights aboard the Carnival Cruise Ship the Legend. It is home ported during the winter in Tampa Bay, FL. Since we winter in Florida, this was very convenient and we could just drive there from our campground in a couple hours.
We made all our reservations and planning over the internet. We booked our cruise using Carnivals Main Web site. It was simple and quick. We then had to complete all the other online check-in requirements such as our passport info. After all this was completed, we then were able to print out our luggage tags for the cruise and we were ready and waiting for the big day to come. The whole online check-in process took approximately 30 minutes to complete. You will need a credit card for this, as they will ask you to set up your on board charge account during the process.
The boarding process was actually not a lot of fun on this Cruise. I have heard all these horror stories of long lines and standing for hours, this is one of those stories. Our ship was late coming in due to fog so we had to sit for 7 hours before we could board. The Cruise line did everything they could to keep people happy with free water and snacks, but there is still only so much you can do with that number of passengers waiting to board. They did however give everyone $30 dollar on board credit for this delay to help offset the costs of food for those that left the waiting area to go eat.
Our room was great like all others we have had on Carnival. We had the Grand Suite. It had a couch and sitting area separate from the bed. The room also had a walk in closet and a full bathroom with tub. I think the extra space is worth the additional costs, especially when my wife and I are the type that enjoys spending time away from everyone and the room is the only place to do that on a ship.
Things to do on the ship:
1) Casino: the casino is where my wife and I spent most of our time. We love to gamble when at sea. The casino cannot open till they are in international waters so it opens and closes about 30 minutes from port. It had plenty of slots and tables to entertain anyone are gambling urges. The only thing I wish they would do is enforce the no Smoking unless you are gambling rule. There are many people just standing around smoking and not gambling because they didn’t want to go all the way on the top deck. I don’t like smoke and it just makes the room even that much more difficult to handle.
2) Dinning: Dinning was outstanding. You could either go to the dining room or have a nice sit down meal with many different menu options and you can order as much as you like, or you can go to the back of the ship and eat at the 4 different buffet type meals. There is no reason to ever go hungry on this ship as it serves almost around the clock and room service is available 24×7 for free. The Steak house is top of the line. We enjoyed it so much we went twice. It is not included with the price of the cruise but for $35 per person it was well worth the price for the meal.
3) Shows: The shows were excellent. We usually don’t spend a lot of time going to shows but after this cruise my wife and I have decided to spend much more time as they were so enjoyable.
Cozumel was the first port we stop at on our trip. Due to being in Mexico and not feeling very comfortable at all withal the drug issues, we spent very little time ashore and what we did was only at the port where it is secluded from the rest of the area. The shop keepers were nice and we were able to purchase souvenirs as usual.
Belize was our second stop. It was a wonderful port and we took a trip up river to by boat to see the ruins and then enjoyed a nice bus ride back. The ship anchors out at sea and you ride tenders in to port. Wish we could have spent more time there to explore the local shops but our excursion took the whole day and we got back just in time for the last tender to leave for the boat. We hope to go back here one day.
Roan was our third stop and after Belize in the sun all day we decided just to skip our plan excursion and try and relax a little. We did walk off the ship to the local shops and they were nice and there was a ski lift ride over a small bridge to a beach area for those that want to go swimming nearby. Ur friends went to one of the other beaches about 8 miles away and they had a wonderful day in the sun,
Grand Cayman was our last port of call. We took a bus ride of the island and also toured the Turtle refuge. This was wonderful. They had small 1 and 2 year old sea turtles that you could hold and touch. There are over 300 turtles here and some are as heavy as 600 pounds. This is also a tender port and is a very enjoyable ride because the water is so crystal clear.
In closing this trip was one of the best things my wife and I do during the year other than travel in our Motorhome. We have actually already booked another trip with Carnival, but this time for a 7 days trip out of San Juan over Christmas.
My wife and I traveled to the Bahamas on the Carnival Cruise Ship the Ectasy, we were invited to take a cruise with a couple we have known in Florida for quit some time. We had never taken a cruise but had always wanted to, so we thought this was the perfect time to undertake this adventure.
We decided to take a cruise to the Bahamas for 4 nights aboard the Carnival Cruise Ship the Ectasy. It is home ported during the winter in Port Carnival, FL just outside of Orlando. Since we winter in Florida, this was very convenient and we could just drive there from our campground in a couple hours.
We made all our reservations and planning over the internet. We booked our cruise using a web site called cruises. It was simple and quick. After the reservations were made we then had to log into Carnivals Cruise main web page and register so we could complete all the other online check-in requirements such as our passport info. After all this was completed, we then were able to print out our luggage tags for the cruise and we were ready and waiting for the big day to come. The whole online check-in process took approximately 30 minutes to complete. You will need a credit card for this, as they will ask you to set up your onboard charge account during the process.
The boarding process was actually a lot easier than I had imagined. I hear all these horror stories of long lines and standing for hours, the line was long but from beginning to end it only took about 15 minutes to get through the line and enter the ship. I had VIP access due to the room we had but our traveling companions did not, and we bordered only about 5 minutes apart from each other.
We had the Grand Suite, room U107. Since this was our first cruise we wanted a balcony and didn’t want to take a chance of being in a room too small. Our traveling companions were in R8 and had an interior small room. There room, though, was still much larger than I had imagined there’s to be and would have been very comfortable there if I only spent time in the room to sleep. Our room was much larger. It had a couch and sitting area separate from the bed. The room also had a walk in closet and a full bathroom with tub. I think the extra space was worth the additional costs, especially when my wife and I are the type that enjoy to spend time away from everyone and the room is the only place to do that on a ship.
Things to do on the ship:
1) Casino: the casino is where my wife and I spent most of our time. We love to gamble when at sea. The casino cannot open till they are in international waters so it opens and closes about 30 minutes from port. It had plenty of slots and tables to entertain anyone’s gambling urges.
2) Dinning: Dinning was outstanding. You could either go to the dining room or have a nice sit down meal with many different menu options and you can order as much as you like, or you can go to the back of the ship and eat at the 4 different buffet type meals. There is no reason to ever go hungry on this ship as it serves almost around the clock and room service is available 24×7 for free.
Nassau was the first port we stop at on our trip. This was a beautiful port but I felt the entry to and from the port area from the ship was very cluttered. People all around trying to sell you things and made it hard to get through them. It also was a very long walk from the ship to leaving the port area and our traveling companions had difficulty walking that distance and then walking around town at the same time. We did purchase many things in town and the straw market area was outstanding. You can bargain with people and never pay the price they are asking. I got a Cobra walking stick for half the price they were originally asking.
Freeport was the second stop on this 4 day cruise. This port was a lot more enjoyable to my wife and I. The ship was right there on the port and the shops were very nicely organized and the people were not as pushy. We did decide to take a tour of the island which we purchased at the port for less than half the price the ship was offering them for. This tour was fantastic. We got a history lesson of the island and they stopped at the beach for 30 minutes and a big shopping center for 1 hour.
Day at sea
The day between the ports of Nassau and Freeport was spent at sea. This was very enjoyable and the Carnival Cruise line did everything to make sure people had a good time. Also, since you are at sea the whole day, the casino is also open the entire time. The one thing I thought this ship was short on was pool space. There is only one pool and its medium size at best, so it was always packed and you could only get in and stand in the water and not really do any swimming.
In closing this trip was one of the best things my wife and I have ever done. We have actually already booked another trip with Carnival, but this time for a 7 days trip. The Ectasy ship is a wonderful ship but it is small in comparison, thus it only takes 4 and 5 day cruises and not the longer ones. I did enjoy some of the smallness though because it does limit the number of passengers also.
I have spent quite a bit of time overseas in the last few years and there is one thing that I have had the hardest time getting accustomed too. That is most of the entire world other than the United States uses International street signs. If you are not accustomed to them they will cause you many issues and possibly cause you to be involved in an accident. I have talked to a lot of officials in the different areas I have traveled and they all say the same thing. Most accidents, that they respond to, are caused by tourist driving and not understanding the local street signs.
I thought I would take this time to show you some of the most common ones that you need to be aware of as to try and avoid being involved in an accident and hurting you or someone else in the process.
Another thing that is very common abroad are round-a bout’s. The United States is starting to deploy them more and more as time goes by. They appear to allow for better traffic flow in congested areas more efficiently than traffic lights. These are actually very simple to understand but so many people seem to struggle with them. The only rule to remember is that traffic already in the round-a-bout has the right of way. This means traffic entering must yield. There are a few places that this is not the case but the majority of the time It is.
Most foreign countries also require travelers that want to drive to have an International Driver’s Permit. It can be easily obtained and is only valid as long as your regular driver’s license is valid. You can apply for one online and only takes a couple days to receive it.
One final thing I want to point out to both Americans traveling abroad and foreigners coming to the United States, is that the United States is the only country in the world still using the Decimal system and has not moved to the Metric system. This means that speed limit signs in the United States are in Mile per hour and speed limits signs everywhere else are in Kilometers per hour. Remember this or you could find yourself getting a speeding ticket ruining the experience of traveling.
In closing, if you plan to drive internationally outside the United States, I would strongly recommend that you learn to read the traffic signs for the country you are traveling. This could mean the difference between life and death for you and for others on the road with you.
I wanted to write this article to show people that not all illegal aliens in the country are there to take jobs and get free medical. I want to explain to people how my wife and I actually became illegal aliens by accident, while living abroad. I will expose which country it is in a later article.
As many of you may have read previously from me, my wife and I retired a few years ago from the wireless industry and decided to travel the United States in our motorhome. After a couple years of this, we decided to finally try living abroad in another country in order to actually see what it is like and at the same time try to learn a culture other than the one in the United States. We wanted to see how other cultures lived there day to day lives without some of the daily conveniences we have become accustomed to in the United States.
It all started off innocently enough, with my wife and I traveling abroad to live. We wanted to have some comforts that we were accustomed to so we rented a condo and purchased a car to get around in. We would also travel back to the United States every couple months for two reasons.
1) We wanted to still take the time to see our daughter
2) We had to take care of things like prescriptions and certain bills that we could not pay online
During the entire first six months we never gave it any thought as to what the countries laws were in regards to travel and living on the island. This is the one thing looking back on we were being ignorant about as it is what caused us most of our headaches.
It was on one of our trips back to the island from the United States that the Customs and Immigration Department located at the airport instructed us that we had already reached to within 10 days of our maximum allowed per year without a permit and would only be allowed to enter the country if we left within ten days. We agreed to these terms and thus were granted permission to enter the country.
The following day we proceeded to contact one of the local lawyers and explained our situation in order to find out what our options were and what the process was to get a permit or visa to allow us to live on the island. She started to explain that there were two types of permits that would allow us to reside there.
1) One that allows us to work on the island
2) One that allows us to live on the island but not be allowed to work
Since we were retired we chose the living permit as we had no intentions of going back to work. She then proceeded to explain to us the requirements for this type of permit. This is where things got so difficult that we were about to give up on our dream and go back to the United States. We, however, decided that anything good in life comes with work, so we pushed on. The requirements we had to meet were very stringent and exact.
1) Birth Certificate for both of us. These also could not be older than 6 months so we had to write the states we were born in and get new ones issued.
2) Marriage license to prove my wife’s name change from her birth certificate. This also had to be less than 6 months old.
3) Background checks done by our state of residence showing we had no criminal record.
4) Statements from our brokerage firm showing we had sufficient amount of money in the bank to support ourselves and not be a burden on their socialist system. This was due to we were applying for a non-working permit.
5) After we got all this together we had to submit them back to the states they were issued in, to the State Departments to provide Apostille stamps to them to prove they were legal documents in the United States. They would not accept notaries.
These various documents took us well over a month to gather, especially since we were abroad doing it and mailing everything back and forth to the different places in the United States. During this time, is when my wife and I became illegal aliens on the island. We had to balance a thin line as to not do anything that would have required us to show our legal status in the area. This made things a little awkward at times since we were Americans living there and we stood out. We had to blend in with the tourist so that questions would not be asked of us.
After about two more months of waiting, our lawyer finally received our temporary permits which would allow us to enter the country legally. We still were not allowed to live there, but we could enter the country to finish the process o receive our final permit. Of course, since my wife and I were already there we had to get on a plane and fly back to the United States so we could then fly back and get the proper stamps from immigrations at the airport allowing us to enter the country.
Once we received this stamp, we took everything once again back to the lawyers and they then informed us that there was still one more step to the process. We had to report to the Hospital within 10 days for Blood tests and X-rays. It turns out they don’t allow permits or visas to people with HIV or Hepatitis as they are trying to control those two deceases on the island and that our permits would allow us access to their social medicine if we wish. After my wife and I completed that task we turned the results into the Country’s Health Department. Two weeks and we received our official permits to reside on the island and were no longer illegal aliens.
My wife and I actually had become Illegal Aliens for about two months during this entire process. I have never been through this process in the United States obviously, but after this long ordeal, if the United States procedures are even half this stringent I can now understand why there is such a high rate of illegal aliens entering the United States. I do not support illegals by any means, but for my wife and I, we also can now understand how sometimes not all illegal aliens are breaking the law with bad intentions. We could have avoided this entire situation if we would have research this more and looked into what the laws are in the other countries, as it applies to residing there, before we started this great adventure. Hind site is always 20X20.
My wife and I decided to go spend a month in the 1000 Islands and Adirondack Mountains area of New York in our Motorhome. We were always told these mountains were beautiful. Since we originated from Colorado there had been a lot of pressure for them to stand up to with all the hype.
This is the campground we choose to stay at in the area. It is near the town of Natural Bridge, New York. It’s located about 30 Miles south of the Canadian border. If you like seclusion then this was the place. We found the area to be very thick with mosquitoes and biting flies. They had an in-ground pool but you had to be buzzed in to get to it due to their security in making sure kids don’t play without a parent. Over the holiday weekends they offer many activities to entertain the kids. It’s truly a family oriented camp ground.
The Town of Natural Bridge really has very little to offer and you must go another 10 miles to get to any real shopping with grocery stores and the likes. However, the beauty of the area is magnificent and you are only a few miles from the Adirondack Mtn. National Forest.
There is a lot to offer guest in the Adirondack Mtn’s. There are many hiking trails, fishing streams, and waterfalls in the area. There even is a train ride that you can take through the mountains. The area is high in wildlife as we seemed to run into Wild Turkeys and Porcupines at every corner of the drive.
The highlight of the area is called 1000 Island which is on the border of Canada and the United States. While in the area, you must visit the number one tourist location which is called Boldt Castle, Pictures Below. It is a 10 minute boat ride at a cost of $7 a person and then it is another $7 to get into the Castle. You can spend all day as it is a self guided tour. This is one location that you can’t miss if you are ever in the area. You can also take a 2 ½ hour dinner cruise on the water and pass some of the large estates on the many islands around. The Dinner Cruise doesn’t stop at the Castle but you do go by it.
About 1 hours drive away is Lake Placid, New York. This is the home of the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics. The area offers many shops and hiking trails. You can also go up to the site of the Olympic jumps and look down them. It gives you a whole new respect for what those guys do.
In closing: If you are ever in the upper New York area, the two primary locations to visit are Lake Placid and the 1000 Island area. To See more
My wife and I were traveling from our Winter location in Florida to Maine for the summer for the first time in our new Motorhome and we decided to stop off and spend a month in Central Virginia. Once we got off of I81 Interstate we discovered that Virginia is a very beautiful state.
We found a campground just outside of Luray, VA. Country-Waye RV Resort. It was a wonderful park to stay at and it was central to numerous site seeing adventures in the area. I had a heated pool for the kids and had a huge field in the middle for playing football or other activities. Luray is also a large enough community that has numerous restaurants and has a Super Walmart for everyday shopping. its small enough though that you don’t have traffic and you get the feeling of small town.
The activities in the area were great and so close.
The first thing everyone needs to do when in the area is visit the Luray Caverns. Wasn’t a bad price and is about 1 hour long. They give guided tours through the mountains and you where a headset that gives you the history of different locations. It was 52 degrees inside though so bring a light jacket if you are someone that gets cold easily. With your entry fee you also get to tour a old car museum that is huge when it comes to the amount of cars but small when it comes to the space they put them in.
Next in the area is the Shenandoah National Park. There is a $15 dollar park entry fee but the nice thing is that its good for 7 days, so you don’t feel you have to do everything in one day and can take your time to enjoy the park. There is a skyline drive that goes a little more than 100 miles and is beautiful. you drive across the top of the mountain range and has many turnouts and campgrounds along the way for site seeing. There are also many hiking trails in the park for everyone from wheel chairs to the healthy hiker. With numerous Water Falls (See Pictures) and wildlife there is something for everyone in this park.
If you are ever in the Central Virgina area you need to stop off at Luray and visit the Caverns and take the drive in the Shenandoah Park. See More Pictures
Last Winter was my wife’s and I first year of retirement and we wintered in Central Florida for the first time. We discovered a wonderful RV Resort that had a lot to offer people but was definitely out of town and remote. So remote it didn’t even have cell phone service unless you walked out on there boat dock.
Yellow Jacket RV Resort is located in Old Town, Florida. The RV Resort is one of the nicest we have stayed at in our first year of full timing in an RV. It has many things to offer people either weekend camping or wintering in Florida. They offer Daily, Weekly, and Monthly rates that were very compatible to other RV parks in Florida.
They offer sites on the Suwannee River, and off river sites that are more cost effective but you can still see the river. We stayed in one of the off river sites for 6 months and still woke up every morning being able to see the river just fine. We were far enough away though that when the wind blew across the water we didn’t feel it as bad as others did. They have a heated pool and spa that they heat during the winter with wood and during the summer when needed with gas. It did seem though during the winter the smoke from the fire heating the pool did at times sit down in the area. If you visit make sure you don’t bring your own wood because that is the one rule they enforce greatly. They also offer boats you can rent to go up and down the Suwannee River fishing or site seeing. The Suwannee River is also home to the Gulf Jumping Sturgeon. Fish and Game doesn’t know what causes them to jump but in the fall you can see 4 and 5 foot sturgeon jumping out of the water.Its an amazing site to see.
This RV Resort has free WiFi that you will need to use since there is no Mobile Phone service. This place is completely in the tree’s.There are only a couple sites you can get satellite either but they offer free Cable TV to their guests.
The town of Old Town (15 Miles from RV Resort) isn’t anything great. It does have a grocery store but that is about it for the shopping. you can go about 15 more miles to Chiefland where you will find more restaurants and a Super Walmart. If you want to go to the movies or something you will need to travel an hour to either Ocala or Gainesville.There are also many nice sea food places to eat in the area.
For people like my wife and I, we were close to many natural springs for scuba diving. You are minutes from both Manatee Springs and Fanning Springs. My wife and I love to scuba dive. About 1 hour away is also Crystal River were you can snorkel with the Manatee. You are not allowed to scuba with them because your bubbles scare them. Even at Manatee Springs they shut down all scuba diving if the Manatees are in the area. you can swim and snorkel still though.
One thing to remember where ever you decide to winter in Florida and that is to plan early. Like most parks in Florida they fill up quick during the winter with Snowbirds. Try if at all possible to make your reservations close to 6 months in advance, then sit back and enjoy your time in the sun while others are shoveling snow.