Top Five Best Items I Packed for Our Cruise!

Hello lovelies!

In my prior post I discussed the things I would and would not do again on a cruise, but here I want to let you know about the items I’m so glad we had on board!  I highly recommend:

  1. Magnetized Hooks. One thing about staterooms is that’s handy is that the walls are magnetized and since there’s not a lot of counter space, having magnets will keep your room free of clutter. I opted for these magnet hooks so we could hang our hats, bags, as well as post notes and invites! These are the ones we bought (holds up to 18 lbs.): https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B018LEN67U/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o03_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

2. Passport Holder. On a ship, you need to have your passenger card on you at all times and the last thing I wanted to do is bring my purse everywhere. So this holder solved these problems perfectly! I could hold not only my passenger card but also my passport, lip gloss, credit cards and tissues. I was surprised how much it could hold! https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01GZJHS6I/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o09_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

3. Dramamine. Yes, sea sickness is a thing. Now, I usually don’t get motion sickness but there were a couple of rocky days when my stomach was not so happy. Don’t think that it won’t happen to you!  I popped a non drowsy Dramamine and I was fine.

4. Pop Up Mesh Hamper. 13 days at sea will cause an accumulation of laundry, and having this foldable mesh hamper made it much easier to deal with dirty laundry! The hamper fits easily in the suitcase. Speaking of laundry – be sure to pack a stain pen, a few dryer sheets, and a couple of sample sized laundry soap. You don’t want to pay ship prices for those items.

5. Travel Adapter. Since we were on a ship out of Australia, we needed an adapter for our electronics. This small adapter not only had a way to charge phones and my hairdryer, but has a USB drive for charging tablets too! This particular one comes with a little case for easy packing and is very affordable ($15)!

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B06Y62QPDS/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o09_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

This is based on my experience and not sponsored, so I’m not getting any kick back on these items:)

What are things you’re glad you had on your cruise? Things you wish you had? Also, where are places you cruised?

Until next time – love, laughter, and shoes-

.

xo, Melanie:)

 

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What I Learned from My First Cruise!

Hello Lovelies!

It’s 2018 and I have not written here in months! It’s safe to say I got pretty busy with various projects- but I have missed blogging and since I’ve had an amazing experience travelling, what a better time to begin writing again? We went on our very first cruise and though I researched the “do’s and don’ts” of cruising, we learned what things we would and would not do again, so I’ll share it with you!

We thought that since we were north of Australia, we should see it while we are on this side of the world. You’d think that living in Guam it would be fairly easy to travel to Australia.  WRONG.

For one thing, there are no direct flights to Sydney or ANY Australian city. The quickest way would be to fly north to Tokyo and then down to Sydney – but ahem, at $2000 per ticket, that was not happening! We ended up booking a flight to Manila in the Philippines for considerably less, but we’d have a LONG layover – I’m talking 12 hours! I decided to rent a hotel room near the airport (for just $35 USD!) so we could at least be comfortable.

If you are active duty military, military family, or a vet, I HIGHLY recommend going through militarycruisedeals.com.

Without their help, we would have never secured the deal we got for a 13 day cruise with Princess Cruises from Sydney to around New Zealand! Regardless of which travel agency you use, it is ideal to book at least six months ahead to pick the type (and location) of your room.

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What I Would Do Again on a Cruise: 

  1. Stay in a hotel the night before sailing. Since we were flying in super early in the morning, there was no way I wanted us to be exhausted and trying to make our port in the same day. Having that night before allowed us to relax and begin “vacation mode.”
  2. Get a Balcony Room. The deal we got with Princess allowed us to afford a balcony room, and I have to say it was definitely worth it. Just being able to walk out and feel the breeze and see the waves while having breakfast is awesome. Booking early also allowed us to choose a room away from the elevators and not on the lower level (less rocky).
  3. Talk to Others! It sounds bizarre, sure – but don’t be afraid to do a couple of dinners at a shared table. People are on vacation and are relaxed, more likely to keep conversation light. This is especially fun if you are on a cruise with lots of people from other countries! The Aussies we met were incredibly nice. We also talked to people while playing trivia, at the bar, plus our servers -meeting Canadians, Brits, Phillipino, Serbs, Russians, and Chinese along with other Americans and Aussies!
  4. Do The Activities! You can only lie in the sun so long, so check out the activities going on. Every evening we would get a newsletter about the next day’s port stop and onboard activities. From trivia, to karaoke, to attending an art auction, to game shows – there is something for everyone!
  5. Dress Up for Formal Night. Don’t groan at the thought of this; it’s actually pretty fun to see everyone all dressed up for dinner, plus if you want special pictures taken the ship photographers will be doing portraits (for a fee of course). It’s like Prom for Adults; but you’re allowed to drink alcohol! On our cruise, servers passed out free champagne.:)

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6. Explore Every Port. Princess’ reps were great with handing out maps and information on “where to go” at every stop. Plus, there were always shuttles to take us into a main area so it was simple to get around and make our way back. Don’t let a new area intimidate you from checking out the scene!

7. “Pre-Booking” the Next Cruise. Now, this is something that Princess Cruises offers – I don’t know if other lines do this (check with them), but before our cruise ended we were given the option to place a small, totally refundable deposit on a future cruise in order to receive extra onboard credit. Since we could still use our travel agent and use it with any sales, we went for it. If we didn’t book a cruise within two years, we would be refunded the money, so it was a no-brainer!

What We Wouldn’t Do Again:

  1. Purchase a “Unlimited Soda and More” package. Neither of us drink that much soda (I don’t at all), and it was disappointing to realize that this “unlimited” did not include coffee, tea, and juices in all bars/restaurants. I think we could probably save money on it in the future.
  2. Go to the salon. We decided to renew our wedding vows on this cruise (which was totally worth it!) and thought getting ourselves pampered on the day of would be nice. Honestly, I didn’t get service that was any better than what I usually do (in fact; my stylist and nail tech are better) and the prices are too much for what’s offered.
  3. Book excursions with the cruise line. We quickly realized that we could have saved quite a bit of money booking excursions in the port. One thing that made me want to book the excursions with Princess is that they guarantee getting back to the boat in time. Frankly, the agencies are parked right by the port and it would be bad business to not guarantee the same. We’ll definitely do it differently next time!

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Most of all, the biggest “DO” is go with a upbeat and “go with the flow” attitude. Little things might pop up, so don’t sweat those little annoyances.

In upcoming posts, I’ll profile various ports we visited plus the packing essentials for any cruise! Where have you cruised? Cruise lines you traveled with? What would you do differently? 

Until next time – love, laughter, and shoes:)

xo, Melanie.

What Paradise Means to Me

Romper 1

Hafa Adai! (Chamorro for “How are you?”)

Recently I read an article about a woman who had a 95k job in New York City who tired of the hustle and bustle of the stress, so she decided moving to a small island in the Bahamas and simplifying life would be the answer. She now scoops ice cream and bartends, and couldn’t be happier.

The Hubby and I have been here in Guam for about 6 weeks now, and yes – this place is paradise. So much sun, water, beach, and greenery to see! Although we were assigned here because of Hubby’s job, I think about if Guam would be my paradise if given the choice.

Ah, the palm trees!

Ah, the palm trees!

After living in several places during my life, I’ve come to believe that paradise is a state of mind. Location is important, but it is equally important to be surrounded by support and people who care.

I won’t lie, the first few weeks here were a bit tough. Transitions are stressful, no matter where you go.

Romper 3

Thankfully, I have met a few ladies who have welcomed me and I can begin to breathe in the tropical air and relax.

I’m also loving this new Charlotte Russe Plus romper! It’s super cute and very comfy. Hooray for Charlotte Russe for getting on board and putting cute clothes out for we curvy gals!

Such a cute tie in the back!

Such a cute tie in the back!

Once all of our furniture comes, then our home will truly be in Paradise.

What is paradise to you?

Pink lip 3

Until next time!

Love, laughter, and shoes-

xoxo Melanie.

Go With the Flow

Moving to a new area is exciting, a little scary, and…yes, frustrating. Even in a paradise like Guam, I have had moments where I just wanted some familiarity.  The Hubby and I are in our new home, but it isn’t “home” yet. Our furniture, pictures, favorite games, convenient kitchen gadgets, etc. are still en route to us, and it could possibly take another month for these things to arrive. Trying to find where to get resume’ paper, a hose for the tub (these things are not in the same place!) and spending an afternoon driving around to find these is a bit challenging. Thank God for the beach!

Beautiful and lonely.

Beautiful and lonely.

A couple of days ago, I was really struggling with loneliness. The time difference between here and Michigan is 14 hours, so pretty much the two times of day I can call home is early in the morning, or late at night. Not exactly the most convenient times.

Wish my family could enjoy this with me.

Wish my family could enjoy this with me.

There is the saying, “this too shall pass.” Belongings will arrive, new friends will be made, and I’ll be a whiz at finding bargains.

Until then, I’ll just soak up the sun and go with the flow.

Fringe beach 2

Fringe beach 4

I love fringe, but hate it when a snag happens!

I love fringe, but hate it when a snag happens!

Kimono by Primark, tee by Calvin Klein.

Kimono by Primark, tee by Calvin Klein.

Until next time, lovelies!

Love, laughter, and shoes-

xx Melanie.

 

 

 

 

Pale Girl in Paradise

Hello lovelies!

I’m a proud mix of Irish and Swedish decent, and though I am proud, it does make me, well, stand out in a tropical area.

Hafa Adai!

Hafa Adai!

After four years in mostly cloudy Germany, the Hubby and I didn’t get much sunlight. Now that we are in Guam, the sun’s rays blind everyone who sees us, lol! However, I just slather on the SPF 50 and let the freckles come.

At sunrise.

At sunrise.

A few nights ago, the Hubby took me on a date and I got to wear this fierce Torrid dress. What is so especially cool about it are the small dark blue spots with the leopard print. Looks great with my Charlotte Russe top!

Torrid 1

Paired with Forever 21 sandals and a Nine West bag.

Paired with Forever 21 sandals and a Nine West bag.

Feel like Marilyn!

Feel like Marilyn!

Just like my curves, I’ll work my pale self to the max. I’ll probably end up a light coffee color eventually, but I’m ok with who I am now. So, if any of you out there are pale like me, take solace in knowing that you’ll have great skin for many years. Take it from me, a 40 something with no wrinkles:)

Love, laughter, and shoes-

xoxo

Melanie.

 

And Now For Somewhere Completely Different…GUAM!

Outside hotel

HAFA ADAI, all!

Yes, I am LITERALLY on the other side of the world since I last posted! The hubby and I got into Guam two days ago, and whoa, the jet lag is kicking my behind, but I’m very excited for the new adventure:)

Leaving our friends and family in Michigan was very emotional for us.  We had so much fun hanging out and enjoying each others’ company, and when it was time to go, my heart sunk. We don’t get to see our family except for once every couple of years, and that is the toughest part of being in a military family.

However, I find some comfort in being in the sun and being able to rock my newest looks from Charlotte Russe and H&M! Curvy gals, did you know Charlotte Russe just debuted their plus line? Check out this adorable romper!

Char Russe romper 1

And…CR is doing a 30% off sale right now! Ohhhh yeahhhh!

I also got adventurous and decided to mix prints. Here’s a cute lipstick kiss tee from H&M paired with this skater skirt from Charlotte Russe! Forgive the mirror selfies; hubby is busy getting our stuff processed!

Lipstick shirt 2

Lipstick print shirt

Lipstick print CU

 

Kiss, kiss!

Kiss, kiss!

Lots of pics to come soon of this lovely island – but here is a view from our hotel balcony!

Hotel view

Until next time – love, laughter, and shoes!

xoxo

Melanie.

Looking Hot in the Big Chill

Michigan, aka Antartica.

Michigan, aka Anarctica.

Hello lovelies,

So, the Hubby and I are “back home” in Michigan, during one of the coldest freaking winters ever! Today it was actually a semi-tolerable 20 degrees, so the two of us (plus my dad) ventured out to the pier in Grand Haven. Lake Michigan is almost frozen solid! You’d think we were in the Artic!

Brrrrr! But beautiful.

Brrrrr! But beautiful.

Of course,  I had to attempt to be fashionable, so I wore TWO pairs of leggings (these are my new favorites from H&M), a cute knitted head wrap to keep the ears warm, a black peacoat from Paris, and my trusty Just Fab boots. Let the frostbite just try and get me!

Hurry and take the pic!

Hurry and take the pic!

Pier 1

Check out this ice sculpture Mother Nature made!

Pier 5

While my teeth chattered, I chanted under my breath, “soon I will be in Guam…soon I will be in Guam…”

How are you keeping warm and fashionable? Let me know!

Until next time-

Love, laughter, and shoes-

xo Melanie.