Tuesday, May 26, 2015

2015 Knoxville, Sevierville,Gatlinburg birthday trip

About a week after we got back from our month in Florida and 2 week cruise in April, I was on the road again.  This time to the Knoxville area with my son and daughter-in-law.  While we were on our cruise, Tim accepted a transfer to the Federal Courthouse in Knoxville.  So on my birthday, I left with them to go house hunting and checking out the area.  I knew it would be beautiful, I've been through Tennessee many times, but had no idea how much fun the area really is!

We did hit a lot of road construction near Nashville.  The highway was even closed a few miles near there.  So we took a bit of a detour through Nashville and found a great restaurant to get some dinner at---Peg Leg Porker
 We figured it must be good with the line waiting to order.
 My pulled pork sandwich and mac and cheese were excellent.  The "kids" rubbed ribs and sandwich and sides were also very good--so they told me.

Friday, May 8, 2015

2015 (April 17- May 1) Southern Caribbean Cruise: St. Thomas; St. Barths; St. Lucia; Barbados; Grenada; Bonaire; and Curacoa

We enjoyed our 2014 Maasdam cruise so much, that when  we received an email with an OBC offer if we booked a future cruise --- we checked the Maasdam itineraries and decided to go back to the Southern Caribbean in 2015---but for 14 nights this time (our longest cruise yet) and with some new (to us) ports of call (Grenada,Bonaire, and Curacao).  We booked a Spa Oceanview since we like being higher on the ship and it was almost affordable. 
A couple months after booking our 2015 cruise, they offered a free Beverage Package and a cheaper fare for new bookings.  Since it was well before final payment, I called and got the reduced fare and the Beverage package, but had to give up our "welcome back OBC" which was only $50@.  After that, we waited about 7 months for the cruise to finally get here.  I was surprised the rates never lowered again.  Since we're not big drinkers, I didn't figure we'd get much use out of the Beverage package and would have given it up for a lower fare.  No further reduction came, but it turned out really nice having the Beverage Package.  On board they were charging $44.99/person/day for the package which included up to 15 drinks a day as long as they were under $7@ ---per person!   I had heard there would be a Beverage card waiting for us in our room when we boarded, but all we found was this card stating the rules and wanting us to sign that we got the card.  After calling the main office, we found out that starting with this cruise, the beverage card was also our room card.
 One day I managed to get 10 drinks, but most of them were water, soda, or smoothies.  I found I could get a "lite" mango smoothie (half mango puree and half water with crushed ice) which was probably my favorite drink and I had it often.
 We took 2 large bottles of water on each of our port calls which we got from the very personable young lady, Caryl Carane, at the Explorer's Cafe.  I also tried the Drink of the Day everyday---most of which were really tasty---such as this one: Beach Comber made with light rum, triple sec, and sweet and sour mix with a dash of grenadine.
 Usually I would get my DOD with lunch. Also would hit up the Lido bar where bar tender Roel would save  a hard to find diet caffeine free Coke for me.