My Top 10 Cruise Tips

It’s that time of year again….Spring Break! March Break! Easter Break! and if you are going on a cruise, LUCKY YOU!!!

In my opinion, cruising is the best way to have a totally relaxing vacation.  You arrive, unpack, head to the bar for a welcome aboard drink and the rest of the week is planned for you!  You get to eat amazing food (that is prepared by someone else!), discover new ports, explore new adventures, and so much more.   You can do as much or as little as you like…we are more of the later with less is more 🙂

Norwegian Epic

You might ask why I think I’m such an “expert” (tongue in cheek) on cruises. My partner and I lived in Florida for 9 years, where we partook in many a cruise….cheap last minute prices plus you can hop in your car and drive to the cruise port in no time.  We have cruised with most of the cruise lines, all multiple times and these are some of my favorite cruise tips.

These are just my opinions so don’t shoot the messenger! 🙂

1.Booking your Room!  The most important part to having a relaxing vacation is having a great night’s sleep.  When you book your room, go online and view the ship deck map and look at the floor above and below the room you are interested in.  Make sure that you are not above / below the disco, if you like to go to bed early.  Make sure that you are not above / below the main cafeteria if you like to sleep in.  You will hear noise and will be calling to complain.  Also make sure that you are not near the elevators as they cause quite a bit of noise in the early mornings and late at night.

2.Pack once, unpack once! If you are planning on extending your trip for a week or two before or after your cruise, pack all of your cruise clothes, and the families, in one suitcase.  This would be your fancy evening clothes, shoes, and anything that is just for the cruise.  This saves a lot of time as you only have to unpack one suitcase instead of having to root through everyone’s suitcase to find your daily clothes and the cruise suitcase stays in the closet!

Cruising on the Norwegian Pearl

3.Pack a Power Bar!  There are usually only a couple of usable plugs in the staterooms and with so many electronic devices, everyone can charge and go all at once.

4.Download the cruise app for the cruise line you are sailing with before you leave home.  This way, you can use your phone, using the ship’s wifi, to send text messages and keep in touch with other people on the same cruise ship.  You can also use it to book dining reservations, excusions and you can read the daily activity guide and highlight your favorites so you don’t miss a single activity! Once you are on the cruise, log onto the app and sign into their wifi to start.

5.Check in online and book your excursions as soon as possible.  If you have your heart set on a particular excursion, book early to avoid disappointment.

6.Specialty Restaurants! If you can afford it, book a reservation with a couple of the specialty restaurants, especially the steak, French and / or Teppanyaki style restaurants.  If you are celebrating a special occasion, there is no better way to celebrate than at the Specialty Restaurants.  The service is second to none, the presentation, the ambiance, the food, the wine…it is just amazing and will be a memory you will have forever!  The small dining fee is worth every penny!

Palo – Adult Only Dining – Disney Fantasy

7.Buy the Beverage Package!  All cruises offer different packages with different perks.  The best one we have seen is on the Princess Cruise Lines…their beverage package includes all their specialty coffees, hot and cold, specialty shakes, the ice cream bar, all your waters, colas, energy drinks and all your alcohol.  A great deal if you like your coffees and alcoholic beverages during the day and /or in the evenings….at the pool, with supper, at the theatre, the casino, relaxing in the lounge for a nightcap.  Just perfect!

8.Bring your own bottled water or bring a reusable water bottle!  We drink a lot of water on the cruise…hot days by the pool, rehydrating after overindulding the night before, at the beach, gym, etc.  Bottled water on the cruise is SUPER EXPENSIVE!  We bring a couple of cases for a few dollars and save a ton of money. Just pack it in a duffle bag and they will deliver it to your room.

Windstar Windsurf

9.Always pack an extra bag!  We have a black duffle bag that  easily fits in our suitcase. We use it to bring our bottled water onboard  and then when empty, we store our dirty clothes in it and then throw all our sneakers and shoes in that bag and fill our suitcases with the great deals we got at the outlets, on the islands, and all our cruise mementos.

10.Check for Cabin Sales!!! As you get closer to your cruise date, the cruise line will put the rooms that haven’t sold on sale. If you want to upgrade to a better room category, call who you booked with, either your travel agent or the cruise line direct and ask them the price on an upgrade.  You can go from a port stateroom to a balcony for a couple hundred dollars to a mini suite for a bit more money.  Check on Mondays / Tuesdays for price reductions, especially the week before the cruise.

Finally……RELAX!  Enjoy your time with family and friends! It will go by so fast and then it’s back to the rat race we call life!

Enjoy your spring vacation and create lasting memories!

What are your favorite  cruise tips?

DD

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Skinny Lasagna Roll Ups “Meatless Monday”

A meatless lasagna that is low in fat (5.7 grams per roll) but still full of lasagna goodness with plenty of protein.  You won’t miss the meat, the fat and / or the calories in this dish but you can feel good about eating it!

Who doesn’t love a good ooey, gooey, cheesy piece of lasagna!!  ME! ME! ME!

Lasagna has always, always been one of my favorite Italian dishes but I rarely make it because of it’s high fat content! This recipe is just full of all that great Italian flavor but without the extra calories and fat.  These Roll Ups are perfectly portioned and just one roll is only 5.7 grams of fat, 13 grams of protein and 220 calories!!! Picture me doing my happy dance 🙂 Compare that to typical lasagna with meat sauce that weighs in between 15 – 20 grams of fat per serving.

These Skinny Lasagna Roll Ups are very creamy, full of 3 low fat cheeses and a whole 8 oz bag of baby spinach.  There is no meat so it’s a perfect meal for vegetarians or it you want to have one day of week without meat in your meal.  If you are observing Lent, this is a perfect meal for “no meat on Friday’s”.

You can also make a big batch and pop them in the frozen so you can have lasagna whenever you get a craving.  Mine didn’t last long!!  Just defrost in the refrigerator overnight and bake as directed below.

Skinny Lasagna Roll Ups (makes 10 servings)

  • 10 whole wheat lasagna noodles, (NOT OVEN READY)
  • 2 cups of your favorite marinara sauce
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 cups baby spinach (8 oz bag) loosely packed and chopped well
  • 1 cup low fat ricotta cheese
  • 1 1/2 cup low fat mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup low fat cottage cheese
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 cup parmasan cheese, grated
  • fresh basil to garnish, optional

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Cook lasagna noodles in a large pot of boiling water until al dente…about 8 minutes.  Drain and rinse in cold water.  Dry with paper towel and lay noodles out on a sheet of parchment paper that has been seasoned with Pam Spray.  Set aside.

Add 1/4 cups of marinara sauce to the bottom of a 9×13 baking pan.

In a large skillet, add oil to medium high heat.  Cook a couple of minutes.  Add garlic and saute until fragrant, 1 – 2 minutes. Add chopped spinach and stir until wilted, about 4 or 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.

In a large mixing bowl, combine ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese, cottage cheese, egg white, oregano, salt and pepper.  Stir to combine.  Add cooled spinach mixture and stir until mixed well.

To each lasagna noodle on the parchment paper, add 1/4 cup of the spinach cheese mixture. Spread evenly over each lasagna noodle. Roll up noodles and place, seam side down, in pan with the marinara sauce.

Evenly spread 1 cup of marinara sauce over each rolled up lasagna noodle. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese.

Cover with foil and bake 20 minutes until hot and bubbly. Remove from oven and sprinkle on the parmesan cheese and basil.  I served mine with a big spinach salad and it was the perfect meal!

NOTE:  I made my roll ups earlier in the day and kept them in the refrigerator.  I removed them from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before popping them in the oven.  I cooked them an extra 10 minutes.

Enjoy! 🙂

DD

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