Crusin', Baby!

11:13 AM

The last summer hurrah...

The perfect way to end our summer of small trips. I've done some traveling, minimal, but enough. But I've never been in the airport as many times as I have this summer, in that short of time span. I feel completely lucky to be sharing my adventures with you. This summer turned out much more exciting than I would have thought back in January.

This trip has been a long time coming. Originally my Mom gave us some traveling funds as a thank you for motivating her to become healthier, which involved working out every day for over a year, running her first ever half marathon, and embracing a healthy lifestyle. Lil and I felt guilty taking this gift, but she insisted. So we did.

We originally started to plan the trip for a weekend getaway, say Carmel, but then it morphed into a cruise with then entire family - boyfriends and all. I'm glad it turned out the way it did, even if I feel like a slightly spoiled 32 year old woman. The guys - J and R (Lil's boyfriend), have never been on a cruise - so this was going to be a new adventure for them.

Thursday, the Parentals swung by and swooped J and I up to head to the airport. J and I couldn't help but be thankful for our summer fun, realizing we'd been to the airport three times in about four weeks span. We grabbed a coffee and split a breakfast burrito, as we'd done the last two times (can you say creatures of habit), and waited for our flight. Lil and R were going to fly in a little later than us, so we waited in the terminal for them after we arrived. Once we were all together, we went to grab our bags and wait for the transfer bus to take us to Long Beach, where we'd board the Carnival Imagination.
Oh, but before that, you have to endure the hoopla that is registering for the cruise. You wait in line after long line, take a picture, then wait in another line, then take one last picture (which they don't mention are optional) before you make your way to the ship.
Once on board, we went to find our cabins (re: rooms). Lil and R were going to be right by us, but the Parentals upgraded themselves to a suite, they deserved it. After looking around and settling in, we met up with the Parentals, peeped their room, then sought out some grub.
View from the Rents Suite!
Inside the Rents suite!
If you've ever been on a cruise, then you know about the food. If you haven't then let me explain a little. It is glorious in the fact that it's already paid for and its unlimited. It's not so great in the fact that it's not the healthiest or best food one could dine on. Certain food areas are open 24 hours, they do have room service (which is free, unless you upgrade your food items), and even the 'fancy' dinners are unlimited!

After we ate, we decided to go sign up for the Cheers Program, which is essentially $49.95/day to drink up to 15 drinks in a 24-hour period. The catches are everyone in your cabin must buy the package (we almost said I was pregnant, just so we could pay for one - baller-on-a-budget, but decided against putting that into the word), you have to buy it for all three days of the trip, and there is a 15% gratuity added to the bill as well. Some other randomness is that the drinks couldn't be more than $10/each, but most top shelf drinks weren't over that price. However, if you ordered a shot of something, the chaser would cost you another drink, even if it was just soda or juice. Because they also a Bottomless Bubbles soda program, which is about $6/day. So J and I were set out to make our $344.66 worth of alcohol worth it!
 

After we grabbed our first, of many, drinks it was time for the safety program. This is where everyone gathers in their selected area and they walk you through an evacuation. Once all that was done, they walk you to where you'd go if you needed to get on one of the emergency boats. After standing in the blazing LB sun for five minutes, they finally dismissed everyone.

I don't really remember when the ship set sail, but it did at some point that evening. Since we didn't have any plans I went to read my book outside and enjoy the nice evening. I ended up getting really cold, so I ran downstairs to grab my jean jacket. I got back in time to watch a gorgeous sunset. After it got too cold, I went down to grab another drink and find a comfy place to read my book.
Clearance books at Barnes & Noble for the WIN!
View from the highest deck on the ship!
I could sit here forever....
 

As I was nestling in, J walked up and found me. We had a drink and then decided to go and see if we could make it into the Dining Room for dinner, which is where they serve the nice, plated dinners. We ended up selecting the 'shared table' option, which is pretty self explanatory, with a nice couple from So Cal. We chatted, ate plenty of food, and met our soon-to-be fave server, Luis! 

Flat bread Appetizer // Walnuts, Pears, Onions, & Cheese
Duck Dumplings // Appetizer
Filet Mignon w/ Roasted Garlic
Sides // White Rice & Creamy Potatoes
J's Dessert // Healthy Strawberry Cake...it was gross!
Carnival Chocolate Cake & Ice Cream // Not that good either :/

After dinner we set out to explore and ended the night with a drink!

It had been a long day, from traveling to settling in, so we decided to call it a night! When we got back to our room, we had a little surprise waiting for us. Towel Art, it's really a thing.
Poppa bear decided to kinda surprise us with an Shore Excursion for Friday, which was when we had our Ensenada day! He asked us about it, then a few days later we all received an email saying he booked it for us!

I'm going to leave our Ensenada FUN for another post, so stay tuned..

Before we rushed to make our group meet-up for our excursion, we grabbed a quick bite to eat. To our surprise, the entire deck was covered in Towel Art...I told you it was a thing. I think Carnival is synonymous with towel art now!

As we headed back to the ship, from our day on shore (Friday), it was time to wait a few more lines (customs and boat security). We were finally back in the A/C heaven of the boat, but the sun was still shining! Shell and I tried to go grab some sun, while the guys went to explore the ship.

After it got too cold, we went downstairs to get ready for dinner. We met up with the Parentals and put our name in for a reservation, for the 'elegant dinner' night. Depending on the duration of the cruise, you are expected to dress up for one or more of the dinners. Carnival is really relaxed with their dress code, so it's not that big of a deal. While we waited we took some of the obligatory ship pictures. If you don't know about ship pictures, just know that photogs roam all over the boat willing to take anyone's pictures and there are also backdrops randomly set up to take professional pictures, if you feel so inclined. Our photog took his job serious and had some interesting ways of posing his customers! Then, finally we dinned our little hearts out again!
 
Italian Wedding Soup
Carbonara
J's Dinner // Lobster
My Dinner // Prime Rib
J's Dessert // Hazelnut Cake
After dinner we didn't do much, drank some, checked out the casino, then called it an early night by normal standards!
Being sneaky, took a quick pic of the silly photog!
Saturday was completely a sea day, which meant that we were stuck on the boat all day. We woke up late, went to the brunch offered in the Dining Room.
Steak & Eggs
Breakfast Mac-n-Cheese
Fries that came with the steak & eggs!

I went to lay out all day and J was trying to avoid sea sickness as much as possible! When I first went out there, we sailed past a huge school of dolphins, I'd say close to 30 of them swimming right by us!
If you look hard enough, you can see the dolphin!
Shell and Mom met up with me and we just laid out all day, drank, and they watched some of the pool side entertainment - hairy chest contest, to be exact!
 

I can even say I smoked a stogie (used loosely) with Poppa Bear. We ridiculed him growing up for doing this, but I guess it's time to let him enjoy his hard earned retirement. J and him were smoking one each, but J offered me a few puffs of his. I don't ever really need to do it again, but it was fun to do with Poppa Bear! After hours and hours of being outside, sun kissed, we finally went inside to get ready for our last dinner on the ship and found our last surprise!
Of course we request Luis' section so we had to wait a little bit while a table freed up. Since we had some time to kill, we perused our pictures from the previous evening, which we ended up buying a few...suckers! Then our pager went off and we ate our hearts out, ordering plates on plates on plates of different dishes. After dinner we went to the Casino again and I'm happy to admit I won $20, I didn't lose anything! HAHA, seeing as how I was only going to spend $20, I was pretty happy. I love the slots, but I love spending money on other stuff, more!
The Fellas waiting for dinner!
Salmon Cake!

Strawberry Gazpacho in action!
Strawberry Gazpacho // It tasted like melted Strawberry ice cream!
Chicken Crunchy Chow Mien

Sides to go with my Beef Tenderloin, which I forgot to take a pic of!
Cheesecake!
Since we were to debark the ship at 8:15AM the next day (Sunday), we called it a semi-early night! J was having a hard time all day with the swaying of the boat, so he was more than ready to call it a night.

Overall, it was an amazing trip to end the summer. It was time spent with my favorite people. We partook in all of my favorite past times - eating, drinking, laying out, and laughing. I couldn't feel more blessed or grateful for the vacation that the Parentals took us on and even included our Dudes! Just like all of our family vacations, I won't ever forget this one...

It's been three days and I still feel like I'm on the ship!

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