Monday, June 26, 2023

West Palm Beach & Margaritaville at Sea

Monday, June 19, 2023

Woke up bright and early today (before 3AM) so my brother could take me to the airport. I was there by 3:40A for my 5:35A flight. Way earlier than I probably needed to be, but I haven’t flown out of MSP in awhile and wasn’t sure what the TSA lines would be like.

Pre-check wasn’t open, so I had to get in the regular TSA line. When I checked in they gave me a slip of paper to show that I had pre-check and didn’t have to take off my shoes/go through the big X-ray. 

Nothing was open at this ridiculous hour, but they did offer complimentary coffee and muffins at the gate! Unfortunately, they didn’t mention the muffins part until boarding was starting, otherwise I would have grabbed one. Also, I don't drink coffee.

The flight from MSP to ATL was uneventful. I slept for most of it, thankfully. We were in Atlanta by about 9AM with the time change, and my second flight wasn’t until 12:15PM. I took the tram to my gate area and found some breakfast. I was going to settle for McDonalds, but then I saw CREPES! I got the Nutella Supreme: Nutella, bananas, and strawberries! 

I spent the next 3+ hours reading, playing games, and trying my darndest not to fall asleep at the gate. I nearly moved to the floor so I could nap, but decided I’d rather sleep on the plane. Our pilot ended up being delayed in a flight from Phoenix, so we didn’t end up leaving until an hour later than planned.

Flight #2 was also uneventful. A little bumpy as we flew around a storm cell coming in to West Palm Beach. After landing, I waited outside for my shuttle.


I stayed at Hilton West Palm Beach. I originally booked it because it had on-site restaurants and I didn’t want to have to leave for food, nor order it. Also, I liked the pool! Unfortunately, I got an email a couple weeks before arriving that the pool would be closed for renovations. I decided to keep the reservation anyway because food…. Also, because of the shuttle from the airport. And the shuttle to the beach!


In addition to that, I paid for it all with points from my Chase Sapphire Preferred card. I just opened a Hilton Honors card as well which gave me diamond status. Both of those things offered me a $100 statement credit for food and $15/day credit applied to my room for food/drinks, respectively. Which was great, because I looked at the menus ahead of time and YUM!

After checking in and getting situated, I changed out of my plane clothes and headed down to the on-site bar, The Galley. The waitress was very sweet. I ordered the Executive Burger (smoked Gouda, crimini mushrooms, caramelized onions, tomato jam, thick cut bacon) and upgraded my side to truffle fries. I ate all but a couple bites of the burger, I was so hungry, and it was so good!

I was eating outside, but storms were starting to roll in, so they had to close the roof. By the time I made it up to my (11th floor!!) room, the storms had set in. Seemed like a perfect time for a book (Out of the Ashes - FREE on Kindle Unlimited!) and movie (Pitch Perfect 2)!

Tuesday, June 20, 2023

I stayed up shockingly late last night for waking up before 3AM, which meant I slept in today! (Well, until 8, which is only 7 back home). Honestly I probably could have slept longer, but I wanted to shower and go to breakfast at a reasonable time.

I went downstairs to the Manor restaurant in the hotel. I had looked at the menu online ahead of time and had decided on waffles, but waffles weren’t on the menu! So I got pancakes with berries instead. They were HOT and FLUFFY!!


I decided to explore the hotel a bit, but then got locked out because I guess I went out the wrong door. I took a walk around the block and came back up to my room to digest before texting the shuttle to the beach.


WPB has a shuttle called “Circuit,” and while Hilton has their own specific contracted Circuit shuttle, they also run around this area of WPB for FREE! When I got in the shuttle, the lady asked me where I was from. I told her Minnesota, to which she responded, “with THAT southern accent?!” I guess I’m not losing it yet after all.

There were more people at the beach than I expected, but it wasn’t packed by any means. It was hot, but pretty windy. And while the wind was a bit annoying, it kept it from actually feeling hot out. I read on the beach for an hour and walked into the water, but knowing that I still burn like a Minnesotan, and I had more days in the sun ahead of me, I texted for the shuttle to pick me back up. 


Once back at the hotel I grabbed a coke from the shop downstairs and headed up to shower and rest for a bit before heading back down for lunch at the Manor. My waiter was the same friendly guy from this morning. He remembered my name, so it must not be too busy today. I ordered the grouper tacos with pineapple salsa and they were DELICIOUS! So much so that I ate the pineapple that fell off of them with a spoon after finishing the tacos.


I went back up to my room to read as the storms were beginning to settle in to finish my book and watch Law & Order SVU.

I headed down to dinner at 6, and got the Margherita Pizza from The Galley. I was debating between that one and a mushroom one. Maybe tomorrow! It was so good, I ate it all (except the crust). 


I spent the rest of the night continuing my reading binge with some more SVU in the background.

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

I did nothing today, and it was fabulous! Alright, maybe I did a little, but mostly relaxed! 

I stayed up far too late last night (again) and didn’t fully wake up until almost 8. I watched some tv, and read on my iPad for the whole morning. 

I had a late check out, then went downstairs for a late lunch. I ordered the smashburger with fries. It was delicious, but I could only eat half of it.


From there I snuggled up on the couch in the lobby and read for the rest of the afternoon! My friends showed up about 6 to pick me up, and we checked into our AirBNB before going for dinner.

For dinner, we went to a place I found on my favorite show, Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives - Cholo Soy Cocina. I had the spicy chicken (buttermilk fried chicken, cholla, chimichurri aioli, quest fresco, pickled red onions) and chorizo (chorizo, pineapple, cheese, cilantro, radish, onions) tacos and they were SO GOOD!!

Thursday, June 22, 2023

I was wide awake by 6:30AM, so I spent an hour playing phone games and watching Tiktok before getting up to shower.

We spend a couple hours sitting outside and chit-chatting. There were lizards everywhere! I snapped a picture of a few. A couple kept sticking their throats out which was really cool. I googled it to find what it meant, and found it was either A) to attract a mate, or B) as a defense mechanism to intimidate other male lizards.

I had a zoom a little after 11, and then we packed up and headed to port for our Margaritaville at Sea cruise!

We had read horror stories about the embarkation process, but it went so quick and smoothly! We arrived by maybe 12:30, had valeted by 12:45, went through security and were on the ship by 1:15. It was a super speedy process.

The first thing we did was go up to the 8th floor Euphoria lounge to get our drink wristbands and a beverage. We sat there for about an hour until the mad rush to go to rooms at 2 died down.


We took our bags to our rooms and check them out next. The light switches threw us off (there are so many!! Do they even go to anything?)

We went up to the Port of of Indecision buffet for lunch. Again, we had read about how bad the food was, but it was good! I went to the pasta bar - you choose what you want in your pasta and they cook it up right there! And I grabbed some green beans because #health.


After lunch, we wandered the deck to explore for a bit, and then laid on the chairs on the deck for a bit and chatted before our muster drill at 4. At the end, the announcement said loud beep would go off signaling the end of the drill. A guy in our muster group made a loud beep noise and everyone laughed.

After going back to the room to check the schedule, we headed up to the 5 o’ Clock Somewhere Bar to watch the ship leave port. Except, it didn’t. Our understanding was that since the Sail Away Party was from 4:30-5:30, that we would leave during that time frame, but that was not correct. Still tied up after 5:30, we decided to go to dinner.


Dinner was delicious! I had planned on having two apps AND two desserts with my entree, but I was still so full from our late lunch that I knew that wasn’t happening no matter how much I wanted it to.

For my starter, I ordered the Caprese salad. I really wanted the hush puppies with pimento cheese, but I figured I should shoot for something lighter. The balsamic vinegar was amazing! Not too tangy, but great flavor. I didn’t eat one piece of mozerella because that was too much cheese for me.


For my main dish I had the pineapple glazed chicken with mashed potatoes. Oh my goodness, those potatoes! I saw them at the buffet later in the night and wished I wasn’t so full because I wanted a whole mother bowl full! While at dinner, we finally departed the port (around 6:30). 

I ordered two desserts because #sugar. The brownie was so soft and delicious. I went ahead and plopped it right into the bowl with my cherries jubilee which made it even better!

Mary and I went to the pool deck and turned our chairs to watch the ocean while we read as the other ladies went to a show. It was so nice, and the breeze felt great.


The ladies joined us afterwards and we just people watched on the deck for a couple hours. 

At about 10:30 we went back to the Euphoria Lounge for Quest Adult Game Show night. We thought it would be trivia. It was, in fact, NOT trivia. The assistant cruise director ran it, and she said you had to have at least one male and at least one female in your team. We were mad that we didn’t have a male (and we weren’t about to recruit one) but changed our minds real quick once the game started! Turns out the Game Show was a scavenger hunt of sorts. It started out pretty tame (female, bring me a ship schedule), but quickly turned into the reason why it was ADULT game show. 

  • I need a male to bring me a shirt with a hole in it
  • I need a male to come up here and show what it looks like giving birth
  • I need a female wearing male trousers 
  • I need a male to be the horse and a female to be the rider
  • I need a male wearing a bra on his head
  • I need a random male to come up here. Now I need a female to put on lipstick and kiss Scott (the random male volunteer) on the forehead
  • Now I need a male to put on lipstick and kiss Scott on the forehead 
  • I need the group to dress a male member as a beautiful female
  • Lastly, I need the male to state their female name in a female tone of voice, as well as their occupation. Then give a little strut for the audience if you’d like!

I knew the occupations would go exactly like I thought they would - stripper, Only Fans, etc. if someone would have said CEO of a multi-million dollar corporation they would have won I'M JUST SAYING. Overall, it was a pretty comical show.

We headed to the buffet for some late night snacks (sandwiches and dessert) before heading down to our rooms. Melinda and I read for a bit before calling it lights out a little after midnight.

Friday, June 23, 2023

Melinda and I had a STRANGE night. She’s pretty sure someone knocked on our door in the middle of the night (well, we didn’t go to bed until after midnight, so middle of the morning I guess). There was one point that we both woke up to a buzzing and dinging sound IN OUR ROOM. We have NO clue what it was, but it went off three times, then stopped. We investigated the phone in the morning but that’s not what it was. Also, around 6-something the closet door slid closed on its own. I’m sure because of the ship coming in to port, but it still freaked us out. 

We met Jana and Mary for breakfast at 8, and were shocked how many people were there. We thought for sure everyone would still be in bed from the night before.

Breakfast was good. I had French toast with caramel syrup, bacon, sausage, and breakfast potatoes, all smothered in maple syrup! Yum!

We went back to our rooms to get ready for our day’s adventures. We had to meet with the group at 9:15 and the girl that led us was absolutely adorable.

By 9:30 we were in the shuttle heading to Paradise Cove. When getting off the ship, the security lady told Melinda to have a good day. Then she tried to tell me the same but could NOT get my name out. She did ask "how do you pronounce that?" It was so sweet.

The shuttle ride was about 20 minutes, and our driver was hilarious. He gave us info about the island and country, read us speed limit signs, etc. It through me off to by riding down the LEFT side of the road and seeing cars coming towards us on the RIGHT side. I may have fallen asleep on the shuttle (as I do), but I did see some of the Bahamian homes and destruction from past hurricanes. 

At Paradise Cove we claimed some chairs and hung for a little bit before gathering our gear and meeting with the group. The man in charge taught us how to put on our equipment. As soon as I put that mouth piece in my mouth I gagged, then breathed in through my nose, which made my goggles suction to my face even more and half sent me in to a panic attack. That made me pretty nervous for what was to come. 


In the water, it took me a second to get my feet wet. (Not literally). I finally stuck my face in the water (which I usually have no problem doing), but the breathing through me off. I just held my breath. Then I remembered I could breathe so I did a couple times, then came up out of the water like I needed to come up for air. I did get the hang of it though! Luckily, I wasn’t one who ended up swallowing ocean water, but just the bit of it that would drip into my mouth was enough. As I said, “I need a margarita to go with all this salt!”

We saw a lot of little to medium fish, but we also saw a couple giant barracuda! And a few sea turtles. My favorite was the ocean floor, however. All of a sudden, the coral seemed to multiply and then BAM! The ocean just opened up super deep. It was so neat to see. The video I managed to get didn’t even do it justice. Such a cool experience.

After an hour and a half in the water, we came back in for lunch. I ordered a hot dog and fries, but after seeing Melinda and Jana’s fish sandwiches, I was super disappointed I didn’t get one of those. They looked amazing (and their reviews said so as well after eating them). I did get a cool soda though. It was tropical, kind of pineapple-y. The can said it was from Coca-Cola Bahamas which was cool. Also, I asked for my change in Bahamian money, and got 4-$1 bills, one for each of us!


After lunch we had about an hour to lay in our chairs and hang. The time went quick, and when the 2:30 call came for our shuttle back to the boat, none of us wanted to go!

The driver was just as funny on the way back. He was telling us about Bahamian fast food (you call someone or go pick up a cheese burger from then). I know he said more funny things, but I dozed most of the way back.

Back at port we looked at a couple shops before  going through customs and boarding.

As soon as I got back to my room, I showered. That salt water did a number on my hair. But don’t fret, three conditioning attempts later I finally got a brush through it!

I filled my Yeti with much needed ice water and grabbed a chocolate ice cream cone for a snack before Melinda and I spent some time reading/napping in the room.


We went to dinner the same time as the night before. The man who waited on us even reserved the table especially for us! We hadn’t expected that, so it was super nice. I wanted to be brave and try the Ahi Tuna for my starter, but I was too ravenous and needed something I knew I would like. I ended up ordering the Caesar Salad for my app. For the entree, I got the stuffed portobello mushroom. Then, for dessert, I had the Baked Florida.

We went and sat on the deck for a few hours after that and had some beverages and people watched. Again, I was asked how to pronounce my name when a waitress brought my receipt to sign for my drink. It was really sweet, honestly.

At 9:30 we headed to the theater for the Adult Comedy Show. The comedian was Flip Schultz, and his comedy was VERY MUCH adult in content and language. He was very funny, but probably something I could only take small doses of.

After the show, we headed to the Port of Indecision for the Late Nigh Taco/Nacho bar. We all made nachos, and they were yummy! We made our plan for the morning before splitting and going back to our rooms to pack, read, and snuggle in for the night. 


Saturday, June 24, 2023

The end of vacation. Ugh.

I was awake before 5:30 this morning and checked in for my afternoon flight. Eventually, we made our way upstairs for breakfast. It wasn't nearly as busy as the day before. 

We had to be out of the rooms by 9AM. Debarkation, we had heard, will take awhile, so we packed up our luggage and went to the Euphoria lounge to hang out. A little after 11 we ended up getting off the ship. Mary and I went to the same customs officer. He asked us how we were, and we said, "good, how are you?" and he replied, "Well, I was outstanding..." Mary and I were a bit taken a back and she said, "Oh no what happened?" and he says, "Well, now I'm IN-standing!" He was a funny guy!

The valet brought the car and we headed off to the airport.

My first flight was due to leave at 2PM, but was delayed until 2:15. In reality, we didn't leave until AFTER that, which put me in Atlanta a little after 4. When my connection was already boarding. I had until 4:15 to get to my connection, so when I say I ran, I mean I RAN.

I wasn't the only one in that boat though, and I followed some guy over to the concourse where my gate was. It would have been a lot funnier if my lungs weren't burning! Some people were yelling, "he's winning!!" and another girl yelled, "good luck!" I made it to concourse A and saw my gate and started to walk. It was 4:14. I had one minute. I told myself if I missed this flight because I was too out of shape to make it in time, I would have to start doing real exercise everyday, so I picked up the pace for one last sprint. I got to the gate huffing and puffing and gasped to the gate agent, "Did I make it?!" She asked if my name was Harley. "No!" I wheezed. Then she asked my name and had me scan my boarding pass. I made it just in time!

The flight to MSP was uneventful, albeit a little bumpy on the way in. I could see the lightning around the airport, but we made it.

Overall, I had a great trip, but I was happy to be home. The time I was gone was perfect, but the cruise was too short. Unfortunately, 3 days is all MAS does, and since it was FREE (minus taxes and port fees) we took what we could get. It was so good to see my Tennessee friends, but it was sad to leave them!

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