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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Travel Wishlist:

Everyone has that one place they always dream of visiting. I was bit with the travel bug when I was young (I think it started with our moves across the country). I have a never ending list of places that I would like to visit. The following is my never-ending, always adding destinations I would like to visit and experience I would like do:

North America:

- Take a Civil War Road Trip
- Visit British Colombia
- Visit all the Florida State Parks
- Visit Colonial Williamsburg
- Visit Asheville, NC
- Take a railroad trip throughout Canada
- Take a cross country train ride with Amtrak
- Hike in Oregon
- Visit all 50 states

- Stand with the Redwoods
- Gaze into the Grand Canyon
- Go to Yosemite!!
- Visit the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island
- Visit the haunted Alcatraz
- Banff National Park
- Niagara Falls
- Yellowstone Park
- The Fingers Lake, NY
Visit Wrigley Field  (July 2015)
- Visit Boston
- Fenway Park

South America:

- Visit Machu Picchu  (September 2015)
- Take a Amazon River Cruise
- Iguazu Falls
- Patagonia
- Costa Rica
- Canopy Tour in Costa Rica


- Visit Scotland (Isle of Sky, Edinburgh, the whole country)
- Stonehenge
- Road trip across England
- See the Black Sea
- Count Dracula's Castle
- Petra, Jordan
- Visit Norway
-Visit Ireland
- Visit Romania
-Chase and see the Northern Lights

- Visit Iceland

Middle East:

- Petra


- Visit the Falkland Islands
- See Polar Bears in their natural habitat



- Shicheng, China
- Visit a Temple
- Great Wall of China
- Samurai Culture in Japan
- Kyoto Japan
- Mount Fuji


- Visit Kuger National Park
-  Go on a safari
- Go on a night safari
- Visit Victoria Falls
-  Ride Camels in the Sahara Desert


- Go to as many UNESCO World Heritage Sites as possible (3)
- See Moose in their natural habitat

- Get my scuba diving license
- Cage diving with sharks
- Ride in a Helicopter
- Ride in a hot air balloon
- Step foot on all 7 continents (3/7)
- Whale Watching
- Try a food native to every country I visit
- Swim with Dolphins (2013)
- Snorkel with Manatees
- Volunteer at an Elephant Sanctuary

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Atlantis and Swimming with the Dolphins

For this cruise we didn't have anything planned beyond getting on the ship and enjoying ourselves. After we arrived at our room we had a booklet listing the excursion that were available for the following day at Nassau. When we both saw that swimming with the dolphins were available we agreed that we should do. It was something I had always wanted to do, so I was fine with shelling out the money for it. The option we chose was the shallow swimming with the dolphins and the aqua venture park. This allowed us six hours at Atlantis, swimming with the dolphins and access to their water park and all the rides. It cost us $150 per person.

The Atlantis property is awe inspiring huge. We had a guide that took our group from the ship to the property and directly to the water park section. It's very easy to get lost and it can very easily take you 30 minutes from one side of the property to the other. We were assigned a time of 10:30am to swim with the dolphins. We had almost two hours before then, so we started riding all the water rides. It was nice being at the property that early, because most of the resort guests were still sleeping or just getting up. This means no lines for the rides, lockers or beach chairs.

There are six water slides available on the property. They are the Leap of Faith (the one you see on all the commercials), challenger slide, the abyss, the surge, the drop, serpent slide, the falls and the jungle slide. The first ride we went on was the abyss and this is a pretty crazy slide. You are completely inclosed in a tube with rushing water. As soon as you push yourself off there is a drop that puts your heart in your mouth. There is eventually a opening in the tube that I thought meant you were at the end of the ride. This is not the case!!! I opened my mouth and choked on water the rest of the way down. At the end of the ride you are spit out into a cave with aquariums. This is definitely a thrill ride that will give you a rush.

The challenger slide is two slides side by side and you race someone to the bottom. The serpent slide was and still is my favorite ride. This ride requires a tube, single or two person. This ride is also enclosed and towards the bottom you spit out into a clear container, where you can observe all the sharks and fish swimming around you. We also rode the drop, the surge and the falls. They are all open water slides that require either a single or two person tube. They are very fast slides!! I also went on the leap of faith. Since I was at Atlantis I had to ride it at least once . . . and once was enough. I was scared to ride this and it's terrifying (at least to me) to sit at the top staring straight down the slide wondering how you can possibly survive it and not fall into the shark infested waters below. I had to force myself to push off (with my heart in my stomach) and go down. It was over in a few seconds and you don't really see the sharks as you go by them.

We walked to the dolphin cay where we were suited up in a tight wetsuit . . . did I mention tight? Then our group (maybe around 6 or 7 people) were shuttled into a room where we watched a short informational video on dolphins and how to interact with them. We were then taken to a section of the pool, with our instructor, and met our dolphin Noah. Noah was at Atlantis with two of his siblings, who were rescued during Hurricane Katrina and brought to Atlantis to recover from their injuries. Noah was such a sweet dolphin!! We spent around a hour with Noah and the instructor will answer any questions that you have about dolphins, in fact they really encourage questions. We were able to feed Noah, have pictures taken with him, and he performed tricks for us. Noah has quite the personality! He was constantly swimming away and stealing brother and sister from other groups and bringing them back to our group. There were multiple times we had 3 dolphins interacting with us and it was a blast!!!

Noah doing tricks

One of my favorite pictures from my travels.
Afterwards we purchased our pictures (the only way to get pictures). You are not allowed to take your camera to swim with the dolphins. If you want any pictures you have to purchase them from Atlantis. They have different package options available and we chose to purchase a cd and split the cost. The rest of the day we spent riding the water slides and lazy river. We unfortunately didn't take a look at the aquariums while we were there, but I hear wonderful things about them. We also had to purchase lunch while we were there. The food and drinks were slightly pricey. Overall, I'm so glad we chose this excursion and were able to swim with the dolphins. It was such a blast and this day was the highlight of our cruise. However you do have to pay for a locker to use during the day, lunch and any drinks and this can add up to be a pricey day. The resort itself is beautiful and there is so much to see and do. I have no doubts I will be back again.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Cruisin to the Carribean . . .

In December of 2013 I went on my first cruise. This was a girls weekend away with one of my friends. We chose to take carnival cruise line and purchased our four day cruise for $200 each. We had two days at sea, 1 day in Nassau, and one day in Freeport. The nice thing about a cruise is you pay the money and that includes your food, most drinks and your room for four days. However, there are some exceptions as to what is included in the price. If you want to eat at any of the speciality restaurants that will cost extra, all alcoholic and soft drinks will cost you extra, along with any excursion you choose to do. In order to offset the cost of this most cruise lines will offer dinner packages, soda packages and packages for your drinks.

We were on the Carnival Ecstasy ship, which did offer a alcoholic package. We had looked into purchasing one, but the cost was too much in our opinion. It was $59 a day, every person staying in a stateroom had to get it, and you were cut off at 10 drinks in a 24 hour period. Each cruise line allows each person to bring a limited amount of alcohol on the ship with them. We chose to do that and just purchase whatever drinks we wanted.

Image result for carnival ecstacy ship

This ship was an older ship and you could see that around the boat. Our state room was pretty spacious as was our bathroom. I really surprised about this after reading reviews about the staterooms being small. We had plenty of space for the two of us. We chose to pay a little bit more for an exterior room with a window. The interior rooms were running about $50 cheaper, but I was afraid of getting claustrophobic.

Our stateroom

We had our towel animals waiting for us every night. We loved the surprise of a new animal every night.

The food on the ship was surprisingly good. We ate in the dining room 3 nights and one night we grabbed food from the "cafeteria" and ate outside. I had dessert every single night .  . . mainly the hot lava cake.

We also can't forget those delicious late night drinks that occupied us to the different shows.

This ship had shows every single night and we took advantage of them. We really enjoyed the Hasbro Game Show and Newlyweds. The pool on the ship was relatively small and always crowded. That was disappointing, but it comes with the territory. They also had a waterworks area on the top of the ship with slides and a waterpark for the children. One thing I really liked about this ship was the serenity adult only area. This was at the back of the ship with lounge chairs, hammocks, hot tubs and a bar for anyone 21 and older. It seems like this is was the place for parents to escape from their children, because of this it was sometimes hard to find a lounge chair open.

Overall this was a nice weekend getaway for a relatively cheap price. The cruise was $250, our excursion was $150 and about $100 in drinks for a four day vacation. Cruise ships are not my preferred travel style. I like to visit a place and immerse myself into the culture and try and find every nook and cranny wherever I go, and that is impossible to do on a cruise. However, if your looking for a cheap relaxing weekend getaway then I would definitely recommend a cruise. The shorter cruises mainly go to Nassau and somewhere else in the Bahamas and that is nice to do every once in a while. The longer cruises have some fun destinations, but you only get a couple hours at the destination. While this isn't my preferred travel style I can still see myself every once in a while going on a cruise.

Keep an eye out for our Nassau excursion review!!

Who prefers cruises as their main vacation style?