Carnival Radiance Highlights (and Lowlights)

Before we move cross country and our new kitten arrives, we thought we’d jump on the Carnival Radiance out of Long Beach for a 3-night cruise to Ensenada. We’ve had a lot of fun in Ensenada and for the last couple of times, we’ve stayed on the ship. But we were looking forward to getting on another ship, especially now that masks are optional. And this is Carnival’s 50th birthday. This fall will be 40 years since my first cruise (original Mardi Gras).

Top 12 Highlights:

  1. Steel drums by the mid ship pool
  2. Shaq’s Big Chicken (and I’m not a big chicken lover) – so good, we ended up choosing that over Guys Burgers this cruise
  3. Alchemy Bar
  4. Steak house (Best Filet ever for me – best oysters for Rich)
  5. Sushi Bar (best sushi ever)
  6. Main dining room service (best ever) – food and service were soooo good!
  7. Best dining room (loved the decor and the booths)
  8. Best dessert (love Carnival’s Chocolate Melting Cake!)
  9. Suite service in the dining room (they knew we were in a suite and really upped the level of service)
  10. Lunch at Cucina Capitano
  11. Rich liked the dressing area in the suite – I did not – it reminded me too much of the group dressing area on the original Mardi Gras – lol!
  12. Parrots in Ensenada (so disappointed when they weren’t there in Puerto Vallarta on the Panorama)

Top 3 Lowlights:

  1. Lack of evening service
  2. Promenade deck is often closed off to passengers for part or most of the cruise (we did get out there, though, unlike the Panorama)
  3. Cabin steward could have done better. She greeted us as we left the cabin on the first day and we were thinking, oh good, our room will be clean in no time. After we returned from Brunch and other stuff, it was still no clean and this is only one service a day. She made some sort of lame apology. Also, we’d asked for evening ice and she did deliver that the first two days but not on the final night. By early afternoon, service was over for us.

Photo Highlights:

 

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)!

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!