An Amateur’s Take on Cruising

Our cruise to the Bahamas was our first cruise ever. We had a very enjoyable time, but I don’t think cruises will be our number one vacation choice. Here are a few things we loved, a few things we could do without, and a few tips that we’ll make sure we do next time.

bahamas carnival pride

We loved…

… that we didn’t have to cook or clean. And they had turn-down service with mints on your pillows! I don’t stay at fancy places like that very often.

… our balcony. We chose Carnival because the balcony rooms were such a deal, and we spent a good amount of time out there reading, drinking our morning coffee, or watching for dolphins.

… that we didn’t have to fly anywhere. We live an hour and a half from Baltimore, so our travel time to the ship was pretty minimal. We both enjoy flying, but we were able to save some major bucks by choosing a port close to us.

We could do without…

… the smoking. Smoking was still allowed in the casino and outside in specific areas. It wasn’t overwhelming, but it was certainly noticeable.

… the busy port cities. We opted out of the excursions offered by the cruise line, so we disembarked at each destination and made our own way around town. Each port in the Bahamas felt pretty touristy, and we are more off-the-beaten-path kind of travelers.

… the “boozin and cruisin” vibe. Carnival’s slogan is “The Fun Ship”, and this certainly seemed to be the case. People seemed to love it, but its not really our thing.

Next time, we’ll know…

… that each passenger can bring one bottle of wine on board. Save some money!

… that people really do dress up on “elegant” evenings. We sneaked by in cocktail attire, but there were a lot of ties and evening dresses.

… that the excursions aren’t actually marked up. We assumed that it would be cheaper to pay for our own excursion in port, instead of booking through the cruise line, but most places seem to be asking the same price as what we were offered on the boat.

Have you done a cruise? What did you love? What could you do without?


Cruising The Bahamas

What better way to celebrate your 30th birthday than a seven-day cruise to the Bahamas?

bahamas nassau

Shawn and I had never done a cruise before, but when the tickets went on sale this past summer (after that infamous Discovery incident), we decided that we should jump on the opportunity to go! Shawn traveled to the outer islands in the Bahamas a lot growing up, but he had never visited Nassau.

bahamas beach

So away we went. We drove down to Baltimore on a blustery fall morning, stood in line for an hour or so, and then soon enough our cruise was underway. We spent the first two days at sea, followed by a day in Port Canaveral, Florida, and then a day in Nassau, Bahamas and a day in Freeport, Bahamas. We spent our last day at sea on our way back to Baltimore.

atlantis fish

bahamas fish

freeport bahamas

I’ll share some of the specifics about what we liked and didn’t like tomorrow, but I’ll say for now: It was a great vacation and we have a wonderful time. But we probably won’t choose a cruise over a different style of vacation for a while.

Have you ever done a cruise? Would you recommend one?

The Story Behind @senoranora

My friend Lindsey called me at “Señora Nora” the other day, and I realized: for the last five years, I have been misleading people. My twitter handle (and skype and instagram, heaven help me) leads one to believe that I’m a Señora. And the truth is: while it has everything to do with language, it has nothing to do with Spanish.

india countryside travel

Many moons ago, I traveled to India. I was doing a good bit of traveling at the time, and my personal goal was to be able to say hello and introduce myself in the native language of wherever I was. A worthy ambition, right?

On our first day in New Dehli, we wandered down to the market. After striking up a conversation with some shopowners (I use the term ‘conversation’ here very loosely), I thought we were understanding each other well enough for me to ask: How do you say “My Name Is _______”? After a few rounds of repeating each other in circles, like you would do in all cross-cultural conversations, I assumed I had it figured out and we walked off to another market.

We traveled around the Indian countryside for two weeks, and at every available opportunity, I introduced myself. “Namaste! Senora Nora!” I was quite proud of myself, actually. Not that I was getting people to think I was Indian, or whatever, but you know. Still proud.

At the end of our trip, we were gathered in the home of a host and we were sharing stories with our leader, David Moses. Some of my friends were teasing me about the tone I had been using when I introduced myself (it’s awkward to introduce yourself in a foreign language, ok?). David Moses overheard this gentle ribbing and said something like “Wait… That’s not how you introduce yourself.”

Naturally, I was confused. Could this native Indian really know how to introduce himself better than me? “What?”

David Moses said “Blah Blah Blah means ‘My Name Is'” (Obviously I don’t remember how to say it. Sorry if you were hoping to actually learn something here).

I was flabbergasted. “But I’ve been introducing myself like that for weeks! Why didn’t you say something!” Because it was his fault that I can’t speak Hindi.

And then, forever changing my social media profile, David Moses said “I thought that was your name!”

And for the rest of the trip, and now the rest of eternity on twitter, I was called “senora nora”.

india pastor

I love hearing about traveling communication mishaps. I also have a story about asking for weapon in Germany… we’ll leave that for another time.

Have you ever miscommunicated something through a language barrier? Please share!