This past week we took a 5 day cruise out of Tampa, FL with our family of four. My husband Ben, myself and our two kids Caleb (11) and Naomi (9) and our stops were at Grand Cayman and Cozumel. If you’re here, most likely you have never been on a cruise before, you’ve never done a cruise through Carnival, maybe you’ve never been on their ship “Paradise”, or you just want to compare notes. I’m here to share with you our experience on the Paradise ship. I should start by saying that I did very little research and let our travel agent do all the work leading up to our trip. She was great at getting us info but there are always things that you just don’t know until you experience it. Please feel free to leave a comment below to let me know if you have more to add or possibly questions. Let’s get started.
- BEFORE THE TRIP: Within the week or your trip or before you will receive an email asking you to “Check In” to your cruise. This will give you all sorts of information such as a check in time to load the ship, information on parking, packing list, etc. I strongly suggest downloading the Carnival HUB app before the trip. There isn’t much you can do with it before your cruise but we used it a lot during. Keep in mind, when on the ship you’ll need to keep the hub open at all times on your devices for the app to work. I’ll explain more on this below.
- BOARDING THE SHIP:
- PARKING: We drove down to Tampa from Michigan so we had our vehicle. We were able to get parking near the port for the 5 days for $75. If you stay at a hotel near the port, sometimes they’ll let you park your vehicle there for a small fee and shuttle over. Of course if you’re flying you could do a shuttle or Uber as well.
- LUGGAGE: We brought our luggage with us and as we entered, there were gentlemen ready to grab our bags for us to get it to the port (These individuals expect a tip so be ready to have anywhere from $3-5 to give them. You’re able to bring your stuff yourself but they are pretty aggressive and will just take you bags. To be honest I didn’t care because I had a rather big bag so I was happy to have this service. We also had carry on bags. When you check in to your cruise online the week before they will have luggage tags for you to print. We opted for plastic bag tags to put these in so there wasn’t a risk of then getting torn off. It also came with two lanyard to use for our “Sail and Sign Cards” which are used the whole time you’re on the ship.
- CARRY ONS: Something we wish we knew;
- Each kid/adult was allowed to bring a 12 pack of pop on board but they have to carry it on.
- Another tip, if you bring a bottle of wine (Paradise allows you one bottle per 21+ adult) You need this in your carry on luggage not in your checked bag.
- LUNCH: Our loading time on the ship was 12:30pm-1:30pm so we were able to get some lunch on the Lido deck when we first arrived (Floor 10) at 1:30 we were able to get into our rooms and receive our sail and sign cards.
- STEWARDS: When you arrive to your room your steward will touch base with you on how often you want them to check your room. This includes emptying your trash, makings your beds, freshening your towels and making those adorable towel animals on your bed. We signed up for one time and picked a later time in the morning so we could sleep in. If you want they can come in the morning and night but we didn’t think that was necessary. Their pay also comes out of gratuity. I’ll explain more of that later but if you give them extra tips you might end up with some extra surprises in your room after they clean.
- SAIL AND SIGN CARDS:
- WHAT IS IT?: These will have all the information about you on them. When you check into Carnival with your documents, they will take your photograph and this will show up to Carnival employees every time your card is swiped (Which is nice because then no one else can use your cards). Something we purchased that you’ll see most people wearing are these lanyards to connect your card to. This just assures you don’t loose it and it’s just nice to have.
- ACCOUNTS: We were able to pre-check our kids into their Kid and Teen rooms so they could come and go as they please. Best decision we made. It’s also nice because parents will have their HUB app which will tell them if their kids checked in or out and where they are headed.
- MUSTER STATION: Your cards will have your safety muster station on it. Before the ship takes off they will have you attend a safety briefing. They scan all sail and sign cards to make sure you are there. All kids 12 and under will then receive a bracelet to keep on the entire time with this station as well. This is to ensure their safety and to bring them to you in the event of an emergency.
DINNER: Your card will also tell you which fine dinning room you are assigned to. You do not have to attend but one of the nights you are on board will be a formal night. This is the dinning room you will attend. Whether you go or not your gratuities are charged for attending. I’ll explain more of this later.
- PORT EXCURSIONS: Something I wish I knew ahead of time is that your card is what gets you on and off the ship. Kids are not allow to scan cards without a parent’s card swiped first, You do not need to carry passports and birth certificates because all that information is identified with your card and photo ID that comes up when it is scanned.
- THE CARNIVAL HUB APP: This app was a life saver of staying in touch and knowing what was going on. We simply set our phones on airplane mode and connected to the ship’s server. Here is a breakdown of it’s features.
- CHAT FEATURE: This was a no brainer for us. We weren’t purchasing WIFI on the ship because the idea is to get away from it all right? For $5 per device for the whole week we were able to turn this on once we boarded the ship. This allowed us to communicate with our entire party.
- WHAT’S HAPPENING: The entire schedule of events is in this tab and allow you to “favorite” the activities you want to go to. not only were you able to see your favorites but it also would show the people in your group and what they “favored” So you knew if more than one of you wanted to go.
- KIDS & TEENS: This is a separate tab of events going on in which ever group kids were in. It would tell you what area they were in as well as if they are doing games etc. There were a couple actives that would show up with a $ next to it which meant that it cost money but we didn’t partake in those.
- SHIP MAPS: This was very helpful, It was nice to see where things were happening and know which floor they were on.
- ACCOUNT SUMMARY: This was a very nice feature. While on the ship there are additional expenses that may come up such as gratuities, casino, beverages (if you don’t buy the bubbles or cheers packages), if you visit the stores etc. One thing we were not aware of is that you don’t have to pay gratuities for things you don’t attend. For instance, we didn’t attend our fine dinning every night and our kids only attended once, we were able to visit guest services on the ship and be refunded those charges. These all showed up in the summary. We also decided to tip most things in cash instead of on the card so we were able to tell them to take those charges off and we would like to pay with cash. There were no questions asked and they were removed.
- PACKING: I would love to share with you the items I did pack as well as items I added on if we go again. Completely optional but I will definitely use this list.
- Luggage tags and sleeves for suitcases
- Passports and birth certificates (We only needed these at check in and then used our sail and sign cards for excursions).
- Cash (for tips and gratuities) excursions etc.
- Snorkel Kit (For cheap beach options on excursions)
- Chair and towel clips
- Hangers if you want to hang more than your room provides
- Night light plug (Rooms can be very dark so it was nice having one)
- Power strip (We had many devices to plug in at night but we also found that our room had quite a few USB plugs.
- Water Bottle: You get plastic water bottles if you get the cheers or bubbles package but we didn’t get either so having a water bottle to fill with tap water at the buffet was nice.
- Reusable Straw: If you do get beverages they now use turtle friends straws in everything so having your own that you can wash in your room is a bonus.
- Coffee Mug: If you like to keep your coffee hot and walk around with it then this is a nice option. The downside is that you can leave your dishes anywhere one the ship and it will be taken care of so it’s up to you.
- Bathroom spray (They don’t have fans in the bathrooms)
- Bandaids or over the counter meds such as dramamine (Non Drowsy) Ibuprofen, Tylenol etc. We had a very rocky first day so prescription bonine would have been nice. Friends of ours use the behind the ear patches but they were all experiencing blurred vision and very dried mouth from it.
- Pump hand soap
- Beach Towels
- Hair Dryer
- Shampoo and soap in your showers
- Some items for room service morning and night. Salads, Cookies and some cakes, Coffee, tea, hot cocoa, toast, bagels etc.
- Two glasses in your room (Bottles of water but they are $3 each if you use them)
- buffets (My favorite was Guy Feri’s Hamburgers), unlimited Ice cream and frozen yogurt, Coffee, Hot Cocoa, Tea, lemonade and juice/milk in the morning.
- PIXELS: They constantly want to take your photo. If you’re with a character or prop they will not let you use your own camera or phone (You can see below I snuck a photo) but there are many places you can take your own pictures. Packages start at $21.99 for photos.
- CHEERS/BUBBLES BEVERAGES: These are in addition. If you drink a lot of either of these then the pre purchase plan is the way to go but we don’t drink a lot of pop and we didn’t want our kids to so if we wanted any we just purchased as we went and it was added to our final bill.
- ENTERTAINMENT: Most entertainment is free on the ship but the following cost extra. Bingo (Anywhere between $20-$40 a game), Casino, Excursions etc.
- LATE NIGHT CARE: During the day most kid activities are open and are included with your ship costs but if you have small little children or want your kids to hang out late in these areas (Like past 10pm) they offer these for an additional fee. We did not do this so I don’t know the cost.
I Hope this helps you plan for a cruise or just give you an idea or what it’s like. I am not a pro by any means but like I said, I wanted to share the things I wish I knew. Please comment below if you think I missed anything or if you have questions.
My daughter and I were talking today about how we could spend our evening doing fall things. Some of the things we came up with were carving pumpkins, caramel corn and baking pumpkin seeds. Luckily I had my trusted caramel corn recipe and all the ingredients on hand. This is probably the easiest recipe I’ve ever done.
What you’ll need is;
- 1 cup of popcorn kernels
- 1 stick of butter
- 1/4 stick of butter
- 1 Cup brown sugar
- 1/4 Cup of Karo corn syrup
- 1/2 tsp of baking soda
- Brown paper grocery bag
- Non stick spray (optional)
- Baking sheet (optional)
- Stock Pot with lid
- Small pan
- Place popcorn and 1/4 stick of butter in a stock pot. Place on high periodically shaking the pot to mix butter and kernels. Once it starts to pop continue shaking the pot. When the popping begins to slow down take it off the heat. (You can also use microwave popcorn if you choose)
- Place popcorn in a greased (with non stick spray) grocery paper bag.
- In a smaller pan, bring 1 stick of butter, brown sugar, and Karo syrup to a boil while stirring. Don’t over boil. Once it boils for about 1 minute take off the heat and stir in baking soda.
- Pour caramel over the popcorn in the bag, fold the top of the bag and shake.
- Place bag in microwave for 90 sec and then shake.
- Place in microwave an additional 90 sec and shake.
- Place in microwave for 30 seconds and shake.
- Place in microwave for an additional 30 seconds, shake and pour onto a baking sheet until it cools down.
Speaking of Fall, we want to invite you to our booth at the Jenison Christian Fall Arts and Crafts Fest where we’ll have discounted fall items as well as new items we’re selling for Christmas. You won’t want to miss out.
In our house we have a mantle. If you’re lucky enough to have one then this is just for you. With adding a location of our booth I thought I’d share some of the stuff I’ve been working on. Yesterday I was cleaning up and took a peek in my fabric bin. Here I found some of the following materials. You could do this with whatever fabric you have but I’m going to share with you what I used.
First you’ll need some string and fabric. I used Jute (5ft), burlap (50 strips of 8″x1″) and buffalo check (50 strips of 8″x1.5″). Depending on how big you want it will determine the length of cut. If you use burlap make sure you keep in mind that it can be very messy.
To assemble you just tie a knot over the string in a pattern.
I’m pretty happy with how it turned out and it’s the perfect fit for our mantle. -Kara
Did you like the tutorial? Tell us how you would use this in your space. Comment below 👇🏻
In addition to your home we invite you to check out our new super soft Happy Fall Y’all T-shirt. You can find these next week at Rustic Corner in Jenison or in the online shop.
Other mantle items:
Water pitcher and cotton from Walmart $16
Letter H and truck from Hobby Lobby $20
Country egg sign and trick or treat bag from Hanes Home Market
Trick or treat yo’ self sign from uniquely Chic by Karen
We have many new fall items in the shop that we are very excited about. Also this week only we are offering 20% off your purchase of $50 or more in the online shop. Simply use code SUMMER20 at check out. Lasts until September 2, 2019. We hope you love these as much as we do!
Coming up later this fall…
Join us this Fall for the Farmgirl Flea 2-day event and shop 200+ vendors who will bring you amazing vintage and handmade goods from across the USA. The vendors are carefully juried to bring you the best shopping experience over the course of 2 days.
Come see why the Farmgirl Flea has been featured as one of the top 100 markets to attend by Flea Market Style Magazine! The events have also been featured in local newspaper articles as well as Flea Market Decor Magazine and Vintage Holiday Magazine. How exciting!
TWO-DAY EVENT- Friday September 27 and Saturday September
Friday September 27 event hours 4pm-8pm
– VIP event $15 entry fee for 12 and over. Includes the Friday night early buyer pre-sale & also includes Saturday re-entry into the market. ALL vendors will be set up for VIP event and Saturday as well. Shop two days in a row😊
Saturday September 28 event hours 8am-4pm
– $5.00 entry fee for Saturday; kids 12 and under are FREE. All vendors will be set-up, restocked, & ready for day #2 of shopping for you!
Location: Hudsonville Fairgrounds
Address: 5235 Park Avenue, Hudsonville, MI, US
Full Details at www.FarmgirlFlea.com
Let’s admit it, as the football season goes on it gets pretty chilly which can make going to the games less enjoyable. Snuggle up with one of our made to order Stadium Blankets for $25. Blanket comes in size 50″ W x 60″ L. The following fabric colors are currently available but could change; Black, Cardinal Red, Carolina Blue, Forest Green, Navy, Red, Royal Blue. Standard name color will be white unless another color is requested for an additional $5. Fabric is 50% cotton / 50% polyester. Turn around time is usually 1 week or less. Email Kara.email@example.com to get yours today!
Crunchy leaves, pumpkin everything, hot apple cider, donuts and football games. Could there be anything more perfect than fall? We’re sharing some of our favorite things this fall;
- Amazing pumpkin donuts from our local place in Hudsonville, Michigan called, Post Family Farm. They are the best if you get them while they are still warm.
- Apple Pie. This is probably my favorite dessert of all time with a side of ice cream. We have a friend that makes the most delicious pies at The Warm Oven Bakehouse.
- Sweatshirts, t-shirts and campfires. I love a comfy pair of jeans and a nice warm sweatshirt.
- Boots. Every year I’m on the hunt for a cute pair of fall boots, here is my favorite pair from this year.
- Farmer’s Markets. Have you ever been to one? For those of you who are local, here are a couple that are in the area that are must sees.
Jenison Artisan Market
Grandville Farmer’s Market
See more of our fall products in our shop at https://www.etsy.com/shop/haneshomemarket
Can you believe it’s been so long? I still can’t believe that I retired from photography. There have been many changes over the last few years but the reason is what I’m most proud of. Family is everything and I’m working to spend more time with them. As someone who was a loyal friend and followed my work I wanted to update you on what I’ve been up to. If you’re new then welcome I’d love to share what I’ve been working on.
Starting this March I began designing products. Why the switch? I wanted to be able to release my creativity but also have time with my family. Unfortunately photography took a lot of nights and weekends from that. Aside from me I think you’re really going to love what I’ve been working on.
Together my mother-in-law, Kathy and I have been creating items for a booth we have at The Red Door in Allendale. She makes amazing soaps and aprons while I make signs and pillows. In addition to our booth we also have our online store front with products that can be found exclusively in our online Esty shop. Above you’ll find our handles and we hope that you’ll take a peek and share the love.
Are you someone working to get your business or endeavor growing! I see you over there! Feel free to visit our links at https://linktr.ee/hanes_home_market
Meet 5 day new Brooklyn Claire Deppe. James, Samantha and big brother Finley welcomed her on October 5th, 2017 at 10:27am weighing 8 pounds 9 ounces 21 inches. She is very relaxed and very chilled out. She makes the cutest little noises when she’s sleeping. Not to mention she has been a recipient of many kisses from big brother Finley. Take a peek at this beautiful family and the newest member.
“Be prepared for what will come.” Samantha Impens
East Kentwood High School Senior, Samantha Impens is most passionate about art, drawing and design. She grew to love it because she has been drawing and creating things since she was little and learned to get better and better as time went on. In her free time you’ll most likely find her doing just this.
Although she has dreamt of becoming a fashion designer since she was little, she plans to pursue nursing. Her plans are to attend Grand Rapids Community College after high school and then transfer to a university shortly after.
Sam I wish you the best with your last year in high school!
Are you interested in having your senior photos taken? There is only a small window of time left as we approach the end of fall. I will be accepting clients through November 4th and then I will be taking a break until January 2nd. Inquire a session by filling out my contact form.
Today I’m welcoming back the Rose Family, Rob, Courtney, Sophia and Sawyer.
The two of us dreamt of what it would be like to have a family. In fact we practiced many times with her American Girl Dolls when we were at the ripe age of 7 years old. Courtney and I have been friends for as long as we can remember. Many times I look at her daughter Sophia and I brings me right back to those days when the two of us were in Sunday school in our little laced dresses chatting away. This family has been having me take their photos since Sophia was born. I love seeing these kiddos grow and remembering what they were like for each stage. This year was especially fun because we were all relaxed and had time to enjoy one another’s company. Little Sawyer is celebrating his 4th birthday and if it’s even possible has become more and more cute as the years go on. When asking him who was his favorite he listed off some of my favorite people as well. Papa Lyons, Papa Biondo, Noni, etc. These specific individuals have been a huge part of who I am today and I hope they are able to treasure these moments even more than I do.