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Thanking my lucky STARS that cruising is back (a Symphony Star Class family blog)


Tiffeven
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12 minutes ago, Tiffeven said:

On our last cruise, we got caught in traffic in the Great Smoky Mountains pretty much as soon as we left our house.  This time, so far, so good.

You are getting ready to pass close by.  I just waved.  👋

Have a safe and wonderful trip.  🙂

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16 minutes ago, barbeyg said:

You are getting ready to pass close by.  I just waved.  👋

Have a safe and wonderful trip.  🙂

Oh awesome.  👋 Thank you very much!  

 

3 minutes ago, wannabecruiseexpert said:

Wishing you safe travels! 

Thank you!

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We are still yet to learn our lesson about jinxing ourselves.  Steven bragged that 2.5 hours is the longest we've driven with kids without a bathroom stop... 5 seconds later Nyssa yells "I got to go potty" which was, of course, echoed by Kat.  Two bathroom stops in less than 10 minutes... we should hopefully make it there by Saturday lol.

Edit: make that a third stop 10 minutes later haha

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Looking for some advice.  We seem to always do Western Caribbean itineraries and have visited most of the ports so many times that we don't even get off the ship usually.  This year most of our cruises are Eastern Caribbean, so we are going to venture off the ship in port.  Since the kids are not old enough to get vaccinated, they can't get off the ship unless it's a Royal Caribbean port excursion.  Doing a long excursion or an excursion where we can't just leave when we want is not really our style especially with kids, so we are looking for some advice on things for Steven and me to do in St. Thomas and St. Maartin.  We don't want to be off the ship away from the kids for too long, so we are looking for something that is doable in two hours where we won't feel like we are rushing off and missing stuff.  In St. Thomas, we were thinking about Skyride to Paradise Point or Mountain Top, but we are also open to other ideas.  We would like to be able to shop a little bit, take some nice pictures of the view, and of course eat some local cuisine.  If you have any advise on these two locations or any other locations you recommend, please let us know.  Also, if anyone can advise how long it takes to get to these, it would be much appreciated.  The same goes for St. Maartin, please let me know of any recommendations and also how long it takes to get to from port.

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My recommendation for St. Maarten is do Maho Beach.  You can easily grab a taxi at the port and they also have them at Maho Beach to get a ride back. There's a little beach bar right next to the beach. This beach is the beach right at the end of the airport runway so you can watch planes takeoff and land and it's scarily close to the folks at the beach. It's probably a 20-30 minute ride each way to Maho and you can stay as long or little as you want and catch a cab back for around $10 each way.

There's also the water taxi that takes you to the walkable shopping area if you don't want to venture that far from the port.

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Adding on to @AshleyDillo‘s comments about SXM - if you’re comfortable with the walk over the water taxi you can also walk over to the downtown area pretty easily. There’s a cheese shop on the way that sells Gouda to bring back to the ship, and there’s a little museum in the downtown area that’s run by the guy that developed Yoda from Star Wars and has a little museum sharing all of his movie memorabilia. Cool stop for something a little different!  

Most of the restaurants in that area I believe will also let you use their beach chairs if you order food/drinks - but I could also be mistaken. 

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@AshleyDillo and @KLA thank you both very much for jogging our memories.  We have literally talked about doing both of those after reading it in other people's blogs but totally forgot about them since it's been so long.  I think we are leaning towards Maho Beach this trip and downtown and the museum run by the Yoda man on our trip in November.

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We drove until we had about 5 hours left on the drive for tomorrow.  We also made sure we stopped before we passed Buc-ee's so we could make that our first stop in the morning.  We ended up getting the first hotel we could find that was less than a 10 minute detour, sleeps six in one room, and has atleast 4 stars on google reviews.  We booked Hampton Inn and Suites Jacksonville South-Bartram Park.  It probably would not be the hotel I picked if I was doing more than a quick overnight stay on my way to a destination, but as a place to sleep for the night when you are tired, it doesn't seem too bad.  

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7 hours ago, Tiffeven said:

We drove until we had about 5 hours left on the drive for tomorrow.  We also made sure we stopped before we passed Buc-ee's so we could make that our first stop in the morning.  We ended up getting the first hotel we could find that was less than a 10 minute detour, sleeps six in one room, and has atleast 4 stars on google reviews.  We booked Hampton Inn and Suites Jacksonville South-Bartram Park.  It probably would not be the hotel I picked if I was doing more than a quick overnight stay on my way to a destination, but as a place to sleep for the night when you are tired, it doesn't seem too bad.  

I absolutely LOVE that Buc-ee's is a planned stop. So fun!! 

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3 hours ago, KLA said:

I absolutely LOVE that Buc-ee's is a planned stop. So fun!! 

We made friends with a couple on one of our other Star Class cruises.  They are from Texas and raved about Buc-ee's, so when we cruised out of Galveston on Enchantment before the shut down we made a detour to checkout Buc-ee's.   I was just going to walk in for a minute and let Steven know if it was as great as they claimed.  Within 5 seconds of walking in the store, I ran out to the car and told Steven he had to come see for himself.  Our five minute stop turned into two hours and we were still having to drag ourselves out.  Now, if we come anywhere close to a Buc-ee's, we always make it a priority stop.  They actually just announced last month, that they are building the world's biggest Buc-ee's about 30 minutes from our house in Sevierville, TN; and we are stoked!

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Final thoughts on Hampton Inn and Suites Jacksonville South-Bartram Park: 

It was your standard hotel nothing special.  The internet was slow and when I watched a YouTube video this morning, it spent the majority of the time buffering until we switched it to our phone's Hotspot instead.  They did offer an upgraded internet package which was an extra $5 a day, but we weren't there long enough to make it worth it.  We generally stay in hotels that offer suites with a separate bedroom so we have a space away from the kids, but since we were planning on only staying there long enough to sleep, we compromised on this.  It had two queen beds and a sleeper sofa.  The setup was different than most other hotels I have seen like this.  Instead of all three beds being next to each other, the sofa bed was across the room from the queen beds and there was a good bit of space in between which we appreciated as it gave the kids an area to play when we got ready this morning.

The showers had low water pressure and were slippery as they had no type of non-slip material on the floor.  I didn't wake up in the middle of the night, so the beds must not have been too bad.  They were firmer than I like, but Steven said they could have been firmer (we never agree on beds as he likes super firm and I prefer super soft, but as he said we usually compromise and get super soft 😜).

They offered a hot breakfast with pre-made cheese omelets, hashbrowns, yogurt, cereal, plain bagels, and make-it-yourself waffles (but they didn't have non-stick spray and the waffles needed it).  I can't attest to whether it was good or not since I opted for Starbucks instead.  Steven tried it and said it was just ok: not really good but not bad either.  Nyssa, of course, had something to say about the breakfast, well atleast she did about the froot loops.  She enthusiastically told us, "This is really good cereal."  As for the other part of her breakfast, she was quiet and just picked through it.

Overall, it was an ok hotel.  I would give it a 3 out of 5.  We might stay there if it were only to sleep; but for anything else, we would stay somewhere else.

 

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We ended up stopping at the Buc-ee's in Daytona Beach.  Our attempt to eat healthy today in preparation for the food coma of Star Class was thwarted by Buc-ee's.   We even stopped at Subway before to try to keep ourselves from going "full Tiff" at Buc-ee's, but it still didn't keep us from spending $100 on food at Buc-ee's (and that's not including the shirts I bought).  We had never tried the beaver nuggets, so we got some but it was a one and done for us on those.  No worries though as the beef jerky, jalapeno sausage kolaches, fresh chips, fudge, cinnamon cashews, fries, dippin dots, hot dogs, meat and cheese tray should keep us occupied for the next 4 hours of the drive.  Guess I should have sized up on the clothes I ordered for the cruise.

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37 minutes ago, Tiffeven said:

We ended up stopping at the Buc-ee's in Daytona Beach.  Our attempt to eat healthy today in preparation for the food coma of Star Class was thwarted by Buc-ee's.   We even stopped at Subway before to try to keep ourselves from going "full Tiff" at Buc-ee's, but it still didn't keep us from spending $100 on food at Buc-ee's (and that's not including the shirts I bought).  We had never tried the beaver nuggets, so we got some but it was a one and done for us on those.  No worries though as the beef jerky, jalapeno sausage kolaches, fresh chips, fudge, cinnamon cashews, fries, dippin dots, hot dogs, meat and cheese tray should keep us occupied for the next 4 hours of the drive.  Guess I should have sized up on the clothes I ordered for the cruise.

Ughhhhh I would loooooove some kolaches and cinnamon cashews right now. I've never actually been to a Buc-ee's, but having travelled to Texas for work I've had coworkers make the drive in and share their snacks with me. So good - so glad you had a fun stop there!!! 

Just had a conversation with husband about not eating the pastries in the kitchen because of all the pastries in the Windjammer in a few weeks. 

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We got an email this morning that our guest health questionnaire would be available later today.  It wasn't available this morning and I'm not sure exactly when it became available but I just noticed it was now showing up in the app.  I completed it for all of us.  It was very short, and I took screenshots for anyone wondering what was in it.

20210910_152118.thumb.jpg.f2b4246b42365432a0d6f54ddc663f0c.jpg20210910_152134.thumb.jpg.31fe35584d6f338252d637f648eccbbc.jpg

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