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Awesome People and Activities on Our January 2014 Cruise

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I didn’t want to completely bore everybody with a step-by-step breakdown of our latest cruise, BUT we met a few great people and had a fantastic time.  So here are the January 2014 cruise highlights!

Awesome People

You won’t believe me, but extrovert Crystal usually shuts down completely when she’s surrounded by people that she doesn’t know.  The Financial Blogger Conference doesn’t seem to bother me at all because those are my people, lol.  But I usually keep to myself in crowds.

This time though, I made sure to get involved.  I chatted up everyone that I thought was pretty cool.  That means that I got to know our evening waitstaff better – Manuel, Mauro, and Jimmy.  Mauro and I even talked about his 8 month contracts on the ship for the last 4-5 years, and what that means for his 4 year old daughter back in Peru.

Hubby and I chatted up the close-up magician, Barman (Sourav Burman), who seems to truly want everyone to simply be happy.  He got his work visa out of India about 7 years ago by performing for the government officials that were asking about his motives.  That means for 10 minutes in Calcutta, one of the visa offices shut down while the staff and those waiting all gathered around Barman to have their minds blown.  I know he impressed the crud out of me and Mr. BFS.  His sleight-of-hand skills are beyond amazing.  We had to get this photo with him too:

Magician Barman Joins Us at Dinner
This is the close-up magician, Sourav Burman (aka Barman), when he stopped by our table at dinner. And yes, that is Mr. BFS on the right. 🙂

Lastly, I even went out of my way to meet Edge – a comedian juggler that seemed like a pretty cool person.  He would fit into our board gamer/potluck group really well.  He’s sarcastic yet full of sincere moments where he just connects with you.  He’s just a lonely geek like so many of us…one with the skills to juggle pretty much anything (sometimes without even looking).  In regards to his skills, he was the best show we saw in the main theater lounge.  He was equally talented as he was funny…which is to say that he was freaking awesome!  😀

Activities on Board

The Carnival Magic is an extremely nice ship.  As always, our main activity seemed to be eating.  Not only was there the nice evening dining experience every day, but there was also a Mongolian Wok, a burrito bar, a deli, and an Indian food buffet.  I ate the ship.

Our Evening Dinner
Every evening, we ran to the Southern Lights dining room to eat all sorts of awesome stuff. Mr. BFS, our friend, and I were at a table with a cool group (a brother and two sisters) from San Antonio. It was fun!

I also very much enjoyed the Sky Course – an area where you get placed into a harness and then roam around an obstacle course suspended over the putt-putt holes.  I even dangled over one of the edges a few times as we left Grand Cayman to drink in the view.

Speaking of putt-putt, their 9-hole course was well kept and fun.  We played 3 rounds over the week.  It was relaxing the two times we were alone.  The last time was a little stressful because a couple of small children kept running across our holes…I had to move fast to keep from whacking them with my club or the ball.  I had several naughty moments of thinking that I should stop catching myself in time.

The rest of our time on the ship was spent at the two-slide water park, the Serenity area with hammocks, the pools, the hot tubs, the outdoor movie theater, and the different areas that we played trivia.  Thanks to our friend’s steel-trap mind, our team actually won 3 different trivia challenges.  My husband also came in second out of nearly 20 people in a bean bag toss competition about half-way through the trip.

The Underground Rivers Once Again

In 2010, Mr. BFS and I went on an excursion to Xcaret in Mexico.  It’s a natural park-turned-theme park with 3 spring-fed underground rivers.  We only made it through two on our first trip, and we wanted to go back.  We did on this trip!

We successfully made it through all three underground rivers this time.  It was PERFECT!  They start you out in a pit of water leading into a cavern.  Then you float from cavern to cavern through gullies and tree roots.  At the end, you are spat out in the open and swim to the exit.  Each river is 1500-2500 feet long.  We spent 2.5 hours in the water.

At one point, I was even swimming on the other side of a show enclosure and realized right at the last moment that there was a manatee on the other side!  I just sat there staring through a small window at the manatee that was lounging less than a foot away.  I was giddy!

Here were some pictures from that day:

Floating Down the River
Yep, that’s me floating through a gully in one part of the first river.
My Favorite River View
My favorite part of the underground rivers is when they pop you out among these tree roots. Mr. BFS is pointing out a small crab in the rocks.
Stained-Glass in the River
While floating through the second river, you are at one point going through a hollowed-out room with this amazing stained-glass ceiling. It was eerie and peaceful at the same time.
Flamingos on Parade
While we were walking between the rivers, we saw these flamingos being led from one enclosure to the next. They are so regal!

Cost Breakdown

  • Two cruise tickets – $1100
  • Two excursion tickets – $210
  • Parking – $50
  • Tips (mandatory and the extra I handed to our favorite staff) – $205
  • Picture from the ship – $15
  • Souvenirs – $50
  • Gambling – $70
  • Onboard credit – $100 off of our final bill
  • Total Cost for the 7 Day Cruise – $1600

Yet another great cruise and what a value for our money!!!  We’re looking into booking another one later this year.  😀

What has been your favorite vacation?

FYI:  I worked at a dead end cubicle job from 2005-2011 for about $30,000 per year.  I went self-employed in July 2011 and make between $70,000-$90,000 through blogging, professional pet sitting, hubby's reffing, and our rental home.  If you’d like to start your own site (link to my free step-by-step guide), I highly suggest checking out Bluehost (my referral link with a nice discount for you, PLUS a free custom header banner from me!).  Please contact me any time at budgetingfunstuff*at*gmail*dot*com with questions or just to brainstorm! I’d love to help!
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9 thoughts on “Awesome People and Activities on Our January 2014 Cruise

  1. Hey Crystal and thanks so much for sharing your vacation with us. It looks like you both had just an awesome time 🙂

    I’ve been told by a few of my friends that a cruise is the way to go and one day I think I just may do one. Normally, I prefer staycations, but it’s nice to get away once in a while I’m sure!!

    Where would your next cruise take you all?

    Take care and all the best. Happy 2014:)


  2. I would have to fly to anywhere in the USA that cruises depart from and that is not going to happen because I don’t think I would be comfortable on a boat if it didn’t stay close to shore for me to swim to land if necessary.

    Cruises to Alaska are popular among Canadians and European river boat cruises are really taking off too.

  3. Floating down a river like that looks and sounds amazing. Ive never been on a cruise but my parents and grandparents have. They also had a great time and said theyd go again. Ill be adding this to my list of things to do. 🙂 Thanks for sharing the pics.

  4. Looks like fun, however, I don’t think I will be going on any cruises, too many cruise scares recently…My question is, what type of camera were you using for the river float? I’ve been looking at some waterproof ones for float trips.

  5. @Lance, have fun once again!

    @Nick, a cruise for your honeymoon was a great idea. 🙂 Have fun in Florida!

    @Lyle, staycations don’t feel like vacations for me – still too much access to work and the normal everyday responsibilities. 😉 Our next cruise may include Belize, Roatan, and Cozumel again…

    @Marie, that sounds nice!

    @Jane, I would love to take a cruise to Alaska when we can take more than just a week off at a time. And yeah, cruises are probably not a good idea if you like to stay close to land. 🙂

    @traveling, I loved that trip! Whales and penguins in the same road trip…it was amazing. I still show off those pictures to friends frequently. It was my favorite road trip ever, which says a lot since I had fun at the Grand Canyon and a few other places we went too. But how do you beat walking with warm weather penguins?!

    @AmAnda, glad to have pushed you over to the cruise side! 😀

    @Trista, we used our friend’s iPhone with a waterproof case. I forgot the waterproof disposable camera and his phone took way better pictures anyway. I’m now looking for a great waterproof case for my Android Galaxy S3…

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