Friday, April 24, 2015

I Won a Cruise (Again!) and It's in 30 Days!

Have you ever said, "I need a vacation!" when returning from vacation? That's exactly how I've been feeling this week. Our trip was unreal but now I'm paying for it catching up on everything and feeling exhausted in the process. It was totally worth it because while on our 7 night cruise I won another 7 night cruise!

If you've been following my blog for a while you know our very first cruise in 2013 was also one that I won courtesy of Scotch (you can see all the details here). Since that cruise Mr. Lovebird has jokingly said off and on, "How about you win another cruise?" 

My current ticker on my Galaxy S6 Edge
Well that's exactly what happened this past Friday night! There were nightly cruise trip drawings on our ship, but you had to be present to win. I'd watch each night as the prize winner would come claim it imagining how cool (yet unlikely!) it'd be that I'd win one too. Finally towards the end our cruise I was losing hope but when they kept drawing names Friday and no one came forward I began to think I just might have a chance. 

I turned to the woman next to me and pointed to myself and said, "Pick me pick me!" when they asked, "Who wants to win?"

Well after 3 or 4 names being drawn I heard, "Congrats Quiana Agbai!" I looked at Uka and smiled so big and ran to claim my prize (they were drawing names pretty rapidly, and I didn't want to delay). 

I spoke to the associate and got more details - I'm always skeptical on things like this, and it turned out there was a hitch: I could only go May 17 or May 24...THIS YEAR!

Ughhhh. So soon given the fact that we're just fresh off our cruise, but there was no way around it. 

Mr. Lovebird absolutely could not go. The cruise is on the Carnival Dream out of New Orleans and with a trip already booked May 17 and Nia's last day of school the following week - and adorable step-up ceremony - one of us has to be there. 

So . . . 

I decided I'd ask my mom to be my guest. A bonus is that I have to connect through Dallas anyway where she and my dad recently relocated to so I can literally connect with her and keep going!* I had to officially call the booking number with my prize code and when I did upon docking Sunday I was informed the cruise ship was sold out, specifically the cabin class that was my prize. 

WHAT?! I'm Miss Squeaky Wheel so I pressed on and tried a few different avenues to get a room. I thought it was a reasonable request to be upgraded but they pressed me to pay for the upgrade which would've been $800 total for me and my mom. No way! This was a prize not a bait and switch, I hoped. 

They advised me to email customer service and keep calling for a room. Well lo and behold after multiple calls a room suddenly opened and my mom and I are all set. 

Here are our ports:

Embarking out of New Orleans I wish we had more time to explore but with Uka's work schedule there is no way I can add more days. 

From there it's on to Montego Bay, Jamaica (I spent a month in Jamaica during Wintersession at Wellesley, but never visited Montego Bay so I'm super excited about this port) 

Next, it's Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands; I've never been but just seeing this is making me giddy: 

Image credit
Lastly we'll be in Cozumel, Mexico a port I visited during mine and Uka's first cruise, but it was cold and stormy (plus we had the moped debacle), so I'm hoping for better weather this time.

Now about the Carnival Dream . . .

Image Credit
Built in 2009, it's 7 years younger than the Carnival Pride, the ship we were just on, and it's jam packed with amenities. Also, it's HUGE - currently the 3rd largest of Carnival's ships. It holds 3,646 passengers compared to the Pride's 2,124. I was a bit nervous about this especially as the cruise is nearly full, but reviews say it's spacious enough that it doesn't feel crowded. We'll see...

Ultimately, I'm so excited to have an extra-special mother/daughter trip with my mom and to escape the cold again. Take a look at this morning's temperature comparison: 

Yes, this is from today, April 25, 2015 and YES, this completely justifies taking 2 cruises close together!
It'll be fun to have girls' time in the 2-level spa, the 21+ Serenity Adult Only Retreat  (unfortunately, I didn't get to go on the Pride, but I saw it from afar) and to eat my meals without being interrupted by little peoples' requests. Now, since Grayson still nurses I will be pumping on the trip, but I did on the recent cruise too and it was a cinch!

I still can't believe this is actually 30 days! It's crazy, but I'll take it. Now the tricky part is to continue to go hard on my fitness. Thankfully, I only gained 3 lbs during the cruise which given how much I ate wasn't bad. I took the stairs a lot, ate lean meals (sometimes), nursed Grayson and got in two hard cardio sessions during the week. I'm hoping I can walk off the cruise the same weight I got on. We'll see . . . 

Anyway, thank you Carnival for giving this mama a much needed vacation after a vacation!

Have you ever cruised? If you haven't, where would you want to go?

*P.S. My initial response upon winning and finding out Uka couldn't join me was to gift it to my parents, but the cruise is non-transferable.