New York Port and first 2 (oups, 3) days at sea

Getting to New York

Here we are! 2 weeks ago was the official beginning of our first 2 weeks vacations! We had never taken more than 1 week vacation at a time, so you can imagine how excited we were (to be honest , I was the one excited, my husband was more or less following the vibe) to be off for 2 full weeks!

Our respective suitcases ready to go!

The cruise we had booked was leaving from New York City, Manhattan Cruise terminal on Tuesday, June 5.  We had already estimated that is was cheaper to drive to New York rather than flying.  We have no issue with the driving factor, we consider this as a full part of the vacations.  My husband is also lucky enough to get a free concert, featuring a large variety of music styles.  From Adam Lambert to Alan Jackson, I’ve got you covered!

So here we are, driving to NYC, we had booked a cheap hotel in Secaucus, right next to the Lincoln Tunnel, so we could relax on the ride to NYC and take it easy on Tuesday morning.

Getting to New Jersey was a breeze and we were able to relax at night before heading in trafic on the next morning.

Driving to NYC and getting on a cruise means that you have to leave your car IN NYC for an extended amount of time.  I don’t know where you guys are from, but near the cruise terminal, there is no such thing as free parking.
You can either park directly at the cruise terminal for the affordable amount of 40$/night, but if you are willing to walk about 500 meters, you can park in a private parking for 28$, for the 9 days we needed the parking, it was well worth it!

This parking is VERY busy, so I recommend booking your reservation online in advance if you plan to park your car in the Big Apple.  I have nothing good or bad to say about the service we received, we parked the car, took it back 9 days later and nothing happened to the vehicule, so I guess it was OK, but in the end, what can you expect from a parking?

Anyway, we realized  that the ship was right next the the Intrepid which was converted to a museum featuring not only the ship and several planes, but also the British Airways Concord and the Enterprise.  We took a few pictures and decided  that we would visit it on our way back. Pictures will be displayed in the 3rd post.

 

The Carnival Horizon

The ship is quite impressive by itself and when you see how big it is and how many people are waiting to board you can do nothing but thinking : Man! it will take FOREVER to board!
We were too early for our boarding time, so we were promptly directed to Zone 11 after passing through security.  Zone 11, they were boarding Zone 1… yeah… we will wait all afternoon for sure… NOPE, within 1 hour, we had checked in, gone through security and boarded the ship.  It was prompt and efficient, just how I like it!

Better picture to come, NYC terminal is not optimal for Ship Pic!

Our stateroom was an interior cabin and we loved it! The fact that there is no window, it is SUPER DARK day and night, we had the most restful sleep ever in that room.  Some people complain about the interior cabin, I understand they are quite small and dark, but the only activities we conducted in the room was shower and sleep, so we didn’t really care about how spacious the room was, as long as it featured a bed and a bathroom.

Most important feature : king size bed
Love the mirror that has built-in light

 

Leaving New York

Leaving New York wouldn’t be a complete experience without the statue!

Days at sea

This cruise featured 3 ports of call : Grand Turk, San Juan and Amber Cove.  Due to a medical emergency that required the US coastal guard to evacuate a passenger, we had to make a detour of 400 miles, which cause us to miss Grand Turk, we finally had 3 days at sea, San Juan, Amber Cove and 2 days at sea.  I must say that I was BEYOND pissed off for missing Grand Turk.  My former colleagues taught me very colorful expressions to express my anger and my disappointement in English, but those expressions are not necessarily lady-like and will not be featured here.  Let’s just say that I was mad en tabarnak.

Anyway, as usual the food is great and there are multiple activities on board to keep you busy.  However, when I am on vacations, I spend most of my time reading.  We haven’t gotten wet once on the ship.  We haven’t tried, the pool, hot tub nor water slides.  We have played mini-golf and tried the Skyride once though.

The Serenity is a small section on deck 15 that is adult only. Unfortunately, people leave towel to « reserve » the chairs…
How cute is this cuban inspired bar?

 

Week End Getaway

9-5 job and no vacation time? No problem!

The urge to travel to escape our daily routine is strong! But our bank account is weak and the number of vacation days is to its bare minimum…

That’s why they invent “weekend getaway”! A way to feel like you are on vacation (but still has to rush home on Sunday afternoon), because you still have to get to work at 8 AM on Monday morning!  Nonetheless, sometimes those short escapes are worth it, plus, they can help wait for the next statutory holiday/full week vacation.  Of course, we try to keep it low key so we can save for the “real vacations”.

We are lucky enough to have several places very nice within driving distance from our place.  One of our favorites would be Lake George, NY.  We recently purchased tickets (actually, the tickets were purchased a long time ago, but the show took place recently) for Alan Jackson show in Albany.  My husband is a huge Alan Jackson’s fan and I am a huge fan of Lake George’s outlets. So we left our place on Saturday morning and drove to Lake George, we had rent a room at the Super 8, because yes, we are conscious about hotel rooms pricing.  I find that hotel rooms around the Lake area in insanely overpriced and we typically refuse to pay a premium for a hotel room because the only thing we do is shower and sleep.  We don’t chill at the hotel if we wanted to spend time indoors or in a room, we would stay home! 

Quick TIP

We always book our hotels via Hotel.com, you can use whatever booking site you like, this way you can cumulate points which are frequently rewarded in free nights!

That being said, so we checked in and had lunch.  We typically go for the Barnsider (where you can have the most amazing smoked ribs you have ever had) when we are in Lake George, but we were in for something different. We stopped at the Adirondack brewery on Canada Street.  First, the exterior was very appealing and had a super cute cachet.  The inside was old-fashioned and a bit dark for my liking, but it was consistent with the general ambiance and decor.

What a cute location!

It was the best fish and chip I had in the US in a long time, but that’s just the main course, for dessert, I had the most surprising smore’s.  They actually bring you a “fire camp” on which you can prepare your own smore’s, how cool is that!? 

Nom Nom! A small fire camp to myself! Thanks hubby for the pic!

We really like the outlets you can find near the amusement park at the village entrance, these are not the biggest outlets ever, but we always find good deals.  Namely at sketchers and GAP for my little nephew!

The main reason for the trip – Alan’s show

Heading to Albany we could enjoy the show that was taking place into the arena.  The show tickets had been paid a long time before, so it was basically a “free show”, booking events long in advance can help to minimize the pressure on your budget.  The show was great, but we were too far to take good pictures. 

Quick TIP

Booking events or tickets in advance and online can sometimes save you big compared to purchasing the day-of.

Unfortunately, when went back to Lake George it was POURING RAIN and it had been pouring non-stop so we couldn’t walk our way on Canada street and by the lake and take pictures and so on. BUT, we could have breakfast at Caffe Vero, they used to be at the village entrance, beautiful location with a large free parking, now they moved to this awkward spot “downtown” no parking, tiny place, not so much visibility, I really don’t understand what motivated the move… Anyway, if you are seeking for a good coffee and you are in the area, I can’t recommend Caffe Vero enough.  They have a full menu dedicated to coffee and their pastries are to die for.  My husband always chooses something close to a mochaccino and I am always looking for something to complement my pastry choice.

Latte Art at Caffe Vero

Since it was raining so hard and the forecast couldn’t promise clear sky by the end of the morning, we had no choice but to leave Lake George before being able to take any good pictures. 

TRAVEL TIPS RECAP
Book your hotel with a booking site
Purchase tickets (museum, show, zoo…) online in advance, sometimes you can use a coupon, sometimes you have the opportunity to purchase a combo and get a discount and sometimes you can get an early bird discount.

Do you have any travel tips you like to use and or share?

I can’t wait to tell you about our next trip, which will be a genuine vacation, see you soon!