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.

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2016: New Experiences, New Obsessions

Hello Lovelies!

How was your holidays? As soon as we’re winding down from all the shopping, wrapping, travelling, and eating (!), it’s time to usher in a new year!

I’m starting off 2016 with a new look! Behold my PURPLE hair! I decided it was time to do something bold and I LOVE this color!

Time to switch things up!

Time to switch things up!

But why am I wearing a scarf when I live in Guam? Well, the Hubby and I decided to take a week long vacay to Seoul, South Korea for Christmas! We got a taste of winter like temps (without the snow) and experienced true Asian culture for the first time.

Look at the size of that rock!

Look at the size of that rock!

Korea is well known for fashion, cosmetics, and yes – amethysts! One of the places we stopped at during a tour is a amethyst jewelry factory, and for a fraction of what we’d pay in USD (likely around $700), I had a custom made ring created for under $300! Merry Christmas to me!

Totally unique!

Totally unique!

One of the sites I enjoyed the most was going up in the Seoul Tower. Although the journey begins with a LONG line to get into a cable car to the site, it’s so worth the view once you get to the top. Our timing was perfect since the sun was beginning to set, creating a gorgeous view over the city.

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I also loved the windows of the Tower. Cities of the world wound around us, and I was excited to find a window with cities we’ve visited!

Hello Berlin, Paris, and London!

Hello Berlin, Paris, and London!

Another attraction Korea has become known for is its cat cafes! As a “crazy cat lady,” of course I had to visit one. The place we visited, Hello Cat, served coffees and teas and lots of purring kitties for us to pet and spoil. This lovely gray striped tabby, Willie, made fast friends with me:)

Sweet Willie!

Sweet Willie!

What a cute coffee! Almost a shame to drink it!

What a cute coffee! Almost a shame to drink it!

Of course, I need to talk about the COSMETICS AND SKIN CARE! However, that is going to be in my next post because I went on a huge buying spree, and there’s LOTS to share!

What are YOU wearing for New Year’s Eve? I rocked a black jumpsuit, a sequined Calvin Klein jacket, and Dereon glittery booties for a Christmas party. This look would be fab for NYE as well!

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Until next time!

Love, laughter, and shoes –

xo 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!

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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!

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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.

 

Thank You, Europe

Hello all,

I apologize I haven’t been posting lately, but the Hubby and I have been mad busy getting ready for our move to Guam (yes, you read that right)! Talk about a big transition!

Since we are visiting family in the Midwest en route, my luggage is quite eccentric. I’ve got boots and flip flops; maxi sundresses and fluffy pullovers. With the temps barely hovering over the zero mark back home, I will be the Layering Queen!

Living in Germany has been an amazing, a wonderful adventure. Never did I think I’d get to experience Paris THREE times, show the wonders of Greek life to my hubby, walk inside the Roman Coliseum, and ride a gondola in Venice.  Along the way I got to rock some fierce fashions, and so I thought I’d share my favorite looks in favorite places.:)

Venice.

Venice.

Kindsbach, Germany

Kindsbach, Germany

Ready to take Rome at night!

Ready to take Rome at night!

Milan.

Milan.

At Notre Dame, Paris.

At Notre Dame, Paris.

Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris.

Trier, Germany

Luxenbourg

Luxenbourg

Though I’ll be trading in my moto jackets and leggings for more sundresses and shorts, I pledge to keep taking fashion risks and working my curves, no matter where I go.

Here’s to a new adventure!

Love, laughter, and shoes –

xx Melanie.