Looking Back on 2021, Looking Forward to 2022

With Covid continually in the news, cruise ships being denied port access, and tightening of protocols, it’s easy to forget how much better this time this year is compared to this time last year.

This time last year, we’d been able to do another Knott’s Berry Farm food tasting event – this time it was “Knott’s Merry Farm” with a Christmas theme, but Disneyland was still closed with no opening in sight.

Looking back on 2021, we can see the progress we’ve made. We went to the Knott’s Boysenberry Festival in March, Disneyland finally opened with a “Touch of Disney” (we were there in April), and Disneyland finally opened the end of April (to California resident only at first.

We were able to finally dine at Napa Rose in June without masks even, stayed at the Grand Californian with masks for our 25th wedding anniversary in August with 2 days in the parks, and by the end of September, we had our very own Magic Key, wining and dining at the Magic Key Terrace for Magic Keyholders only. How we bristled back when it was open only for “Legacy Passholders,” which we were not because we’d just moved back from Florida and hadn’t gotten around to “turn in” our WDW AP or a DL AP.

By this time we’d eaten at Napa Rose 3 times since it opened. We also had tickets to WDW we’d hoped to use in October, but that trip was postponed until spring. In the meantime, we finally got back on a cruise (the inaugural year of the Carnival Panorama) and were allowed entry to all 3 Mexico ports. However, we did cancel an upcoming cruise. And Princess was not gracious at all about it as they withheld our $500 deposit, even during these times. No special allowances for special circumstances.

The theme for 2021 has been “mask on, mask off” or as they described it at the Piano Bar on Carnival, “Sip and Cover.” Oh boy!

But, overall, we can say we had a pretty awesome 2021, as it comes to an end. We got to do a lot of our favorite things!

As for 2022, we are invested in a few Disney trips. Now we wait to see how it all unfolds. I would say we are cautiously optimistic. Covid taught us that anything can happen, whether you want it to or not. It also taught us to be a bit more self-sufficient in our lives, at least as much as we can. Enjoy our home. Enjoy our backyard. Enjoy each other. And try to be flexible with plans.

Wishing you the best in 2022! May it surprise us all (in a good way)!

Top 10 Things We Liked/Didn’t Like About the New Carnival Panorama

I say new because the Panorama was christened in Long Beach in December 2019 and only cruised with passengers for 3 months until the whole cruising industry shut down. She began cruising again in August of 2021 and we set sail on her in November, still in her inaugural year.

We were excited to try a new Carnival ship with serene, more elegant decor after mostly experiencing the tacky Joe Farcus ships. Our favorite Carnival ship class is the Spirit Class (a fan favorite), so we were hoping the Panorama would just be a bigger version of that. Here’s what we liked/didn’t like after sailing the Panorama.

What We Liked

  1. Embarkation – was pretty speedy (but not as fast as “Faster to the Fun” [FTTF], which is how we embarked pre-Covid.) It took us app. 40 minutes from car to cabin, which isn’t bad at all).
  2. Tides Bar – this is the aft pool bar that makes a stunning impression as soon as you get off the elevators on deck 10. Views of the aft pool and the wake of the ship.
  3. Ocean Plaza Bar – awesome rock band when we were there, great seating both inside and outside.
  4. Our cabin location in the aft – up 3 to the Marketplace (buffet – love the salad bar) and Tides Bar, aft pool and down 2 to the Ocean Plaza Bar, restaurants, bars, entertainment, etc.
  5. Guy’s Burgers – still awesome and the fries haven’t changed (unlike rumors we’ve heard about the Mardi Gras).
  6. Muster drill – I think this is true on every ship on every cruise line now. A huge improvement over the old way. Still, hundreds of people has to be nagged at to check in before we could sail away.
  7. The elevators – there’s been a lot of talk about how terrible they are because nobody knows to enter the number of passengers when you punch in your desk. Truth is, the number of passenger doesn’t matter at all, and once you punch in your deck, you know exactly which elevator is coming for you.
  8. The main dining room – quite lovely and one night we had incredible service, complete with staff entertainment. That’s what Carnival is all about and what we love about them.
  9. Carnival App – handy to check in to the dining room, see menus (like the dining room menu), but would be nice to be able to pick up the old “Fun Times” to see activities at a glance. More cost-saving measures resulting in not having enough servers, stewards, etc. Not fun!
  10. Disembarkation – incredible! The best ever! We were called first and all we did at Customs was have our passport scanned as we walked through.

What We Didn’t Like

  1. Ship Layout – just didn’t have a nice flow like the Spirit Class.
  2. Service – one really prominent reason we’ve sailed Carnival is that their service has been pretty awesome. Maybe it’s just the Covid restart, but we think some things are just how Carnival is doing business now. Cabin steward comes only once a day so that ice you requested has melted by evening when you really need it. No wine sommeliers or any kind of bar service in the dining room other than what you request from your waiter. Seaday brunch (a longtime favorite of ours) has changed the menu and removed my favorite cappuccino muffin and the service is hurried, unfriendly, and full of mistakes. The “fun” is gone so it’s impossible to “Choose Fun.”
  3. Midship pool – only one tiny pool with lounge chairs taking up where the second pool used to be, making the pool area quite removed from the bar area.
  4. Pig & Anchor – absolutely horrible. Simply couldn’t eat the food. And some items listed on the menu were not available, such as cole slaw, collard greens, and some beer selections.
  5. Alchemy Bar – location felt like a hallway so we didn’t ever stop in for a drink and it’s one of our favorite bars on other Carnival ships.
  6. Cabin – seemed narrow. People have complained about the cabin size on the new Mardi Gras but we think it’s the same size as the Panorama (which is smaller than older ships), just the bed is in the middle of the cabin, making the room seem smaller. We think we might prefer the cabin layout of the Mardi Gras. Bathroom is smaller in both classes of ship.
  7. Main showroom – the chairs down in front of the stage make it look like a conference room, not a showroom.
  8. Promenade deck – closed off. One of our favorite places to get some fresh air is the promenade deck. And being able to walk it is a great way to get some exercise, talk, and think. These are rare today so we study the deck plans carefully. So to have it blocked off was totally unacceptable.
  9. The two small atriums – neither had an inviting vibe and the shops were tiny with very little merchandise.
  10. Passengers – how you connect with other passengers can be hit/miss (we met some lovely people on our PV excursion, for example). We’ve even had a lot of fun with the drunks we’ve run into – lol! – but we didn’t seem to connect with as many as usual (could it be these Covid times?)

#Disneyland and the #Cruise Industry: Let’s Get This Party Started!

Disneyland and the cruise industry seem to have one thing in common (besides the fact that both are our favorite recreational choices): lots of talk about what they’re doing to restart but without any real dates. Both tried last summer and both were shot down.

The latest video I saw, uploaded by Sharon at Sea, was called “Carnival Cruise Line: Gearing up to Cruise Again.”

It looks awesome to me, and Florida and Europe have actually pulled it off, proving that what they are doing works. But restarting cruising in North America and Disneyland out west is still just talk. I’m starting to think by the time cruising and Disneyland actually get back to business, this whole situation will be over. And maybe that’s what Governor Newsom and the CDC are hoping for.

Enough delays. Give us some real dates. Give us something to start feeling!

If you’re feeling it, check out these videos (music created/produced by me during 50/90):

Cruising: Can You Feel It?

Disneyland Reopening: Can You Feel It?

More Cruise Cancellations (#cruising #OasisoftheSeas #RealWomenWearRed)

After last Friday’s big whopper announcement from the CLIA, today Carnival Cruise Lines announced their cancellations through September and some even October.

Our money is on no cruises on any of the major cruise lines until next year. And why we cancelled the late November, early February and even August Princess cruises, because we had a triple plan: 2 short cruises and then we’d make Platinum for the 25th anniversary Med cruise in August.

Final payment for the late November cruise was September and without any ships sailing before then to show us how the ships are going to handle this Bob thing and whether the experience appeals to us before final payment wasn’t going to happen. We’re not sure we want to commit to any cruise until we see what it’s going to look like. The only cruise we still have a deposit on is in 2022.

We’re also in wait mode for Disneyland and WDW – we want to see what the experience looks like before we make any plans – when we can make plans because we don’t have an AP at either park. So, it’s very doubtful cruising or Disney is in the cards for 2020 for us.

Our Oasis of the Seas video is still climbing (68K as of right now), but it’s fewer than 25 seconds so I cannot use any of the YouTube tools to promote our channel. I uploaded it for fun and was ignorant of Youtube requirements or really any possibilities for the channel. I since uploaded a longer one of Oasis of the Seas Part 2, but it hasn’t caught on quite like the original.

I would like to bring your attention to the “Cruise the Caribbean with the Women of Real Women Wear Red” (and Real Women Sing the Blues) video. That was so much fun – brought back the excitement of when the first book was first published.

I’m playing at working on the third book in the “Real Women” series that my agent had requested back then. Sales aren’t what they once were, so I’m not sure about the time commitment, especially because I’ve been so focused on writing/producing electronic dance music (EDM). But sales are picking up again, motivating me to get back into the writing groove.

Let me know if you’d like to see more of this.

Margarita Monday with Sharon at Sea #Cruise #Travel #amwriting

Okay, so our new latest thing is hanging out with Sharon at Sea and the gang on YouTube on Monday nights. We’ve even reserved a cabin for one of their group cruises, and are considering a second one.

So all of this having happened last night, got me excited to make a video for my novels Real Women Wear Red and the sequel, Real Women Sing the Blues, to replace the one I had on youtube years ago (before Goggle bought it and messed it al up). I kept thinking I’d try to recreate one, albeit, a bit different than before, but I did keep the same music. It’s just too perfect.

Maybe we can’t cruise right now but it’s such fun to hang out with other cruise lovers, and to relive the glory days of writing these two novels, remembering our past cruises.

French Martini & Cocktail Video (Inspired by Disney, Cruising, Las Vegas, California, Florida)

With the release of French Martini on Kindle, I was inspired to create a video looking back at our life through cocktails – lol! This was so much fun to put together (PS – a link to a recipe for a French Martini is in the video description). Enjoy! Also, please subscribe, like, and/or comment on the video. Thank you!

Our Last Trip to Disneyland (#Covid-19)

During this time of isolation, we’ve been binge-watching our favorite Disney and Cruise YouTube channels, namely (in no particular oder) The Daily Woo, Best Life and Beyond, Fresh Baked, Mr. CheezyPop, CruiseTipsTV, Tim Tracker, Scott Singer Cruises, and even peeked into Sharon at Sea.

And uploading some of our own videos, too, especially since this Oasis of the Seas video has now had over 14.5K views (and climbing). Our latest upload is the 3-Part series from “Our Last Trip to Disneyland” last summer to celebrate Rich’s milestone birthday. So glad we went!

Our Last Trip to Disneyland (Disneyland Park)

Disneyland Hotel Tour and Birthday Dinner at Catal

Walt’s Favorite Cocktail at Carthay Circle and Other DCA Fun

Nothing fancy here – just a collection of photos and video taken on our iPhone from the trip.

Hope you enjoy!

Oasis of the Seas: 22-Second Video Gone Viral?

You may or may not know we have a YouTube channel for Two4Disney – it’s mostly videos we’ve uploaded for ourselves or for others who happen to stumble upon them. Our views are anywhere from 0 to 7 – lol!

So imagine my surprise when our 22-second video of Oasis of the Seas started climbing in substantial views (for us). As of right now, it’s received 1807 views! (Now over 4300 – keeps growing.) In our world, it’s gone viral – lol!

When I noticed the interest, I created a longer video of that ship, but it’s not really getting the views. I have a suspicion the shorter video is on a playlist and that explains the views.

Oasis of the Seas (22-second video)

Oasis of the Seas, Part 2 (longer video)

Btw, if you love cruising, you might want to check out my two novels set on cruise ships – Real Women Wear Red (Book 1) and Real Women Sing the Blues (Book 2).

Now if only my sales would go viral. 🙂