TR: Closing Weekend at Cedar Point (10/29-30/16)

(I’ll preface the trip report with some notes – there was no trip report written for either of our other trips to the park this year. We went in June and September, staying at Sandcastle in June, and in Toledo in September on a Friday night. There are no lasting complaints about either day, and in fact, the Halloween decor looked way better in September than October. I chose not to write about either because, frankly, I’ve written about Cedar Point countless times on this blog and there’s often little to provide in terms of updates.)

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TR: Veendam Caribbean Cruise 2016: Pt. 7 –Florida Aquarium (3/20/16)

Sunday morning came, and with it came the end of our journey aboard the venerable Veendam. Outside our porthole was the city of Tampa again, ready for our exploration on foot. Being on foot limits you quite a bit, but since we had a clear target for our time located right in the port area, it wasn’t a great concern to us. The kind folks of Tampa have spent a ton of money on the Florida Aquarium and placed it to be exceedingly convenient to us and not so much them, and I’d like to thank them for that perhaps unnecessary expenditure. Really, seriously, it was great for us, especially since we were extended a 50% off admission thanks to our membership with our local zoo. Continue reading

TR: Veendam Caribbean Cruise 2016: Pt. 6 – Costa Maya/At Sea (3/18 & 3/19/16)

Arriving into our final port of the cruise, we were welcomed by a slightly different sight than what was present the first two days: flat earth. The small town of Mahahual is barely visible when compared to the enormous cruise port facility that’s been constructed along the water front. We also weren’t alone here: two other ships had docked, one larger, one significantly smaller (NCL’s Dawn and the Swan Hellenic MV Minerva). There would be something akin to a “crowd” around us, though not much so much of one as to radically change our viewpoint. Like with our stop in Honduras, there are natural limits on the number of potential shore excursions one might be able to take, as most tour companies book through the cruise lines. Prices were anything but low: most trips towards the ruins were in the range of $120/person. Not exactly ideal. Continue reading

TR: Six Flags Great America (10/15 & 10/16/16)

(originally posted on rec.roller-coaster)

We’ve made the investment in Six Flags season passes again for the 2017 season and trekked out to Chicagoland to get processed in. This is the first time I’ve been in the park in a month other than June ever. Weird how things like that happen. From a basic standpoint, the park doesn’t look that much actively worse than it did in preceding years, however the number of empty ride pads seems to have grown without clear replacements coming in. Joker will take up one of those spaces, and the return of The Lobster (an Octopus ride) will help a little. More clear to us is the clear gap between how Six Flags manages to decorate a premier park in the chain versus how Cedar Fair does with Cedar Point and Kings Island. There was likely more money spent just on the pumpkin displays at Cedar Point than all of the Frightfest-related materials at Great America combined. It’s really too bad given how good much of the original infrastructure put in place by Marriott was. Continue reading

TR: Veendam Caribbean Cruise 2016: Pt. 5 – Guatemala (3/17/16)

In the lead up to the cruise, I discussed my trip with several friends. With some of these being somewhat obscure ports, this wasn’t a bad idea given that I’m blessed to have friends who’ve been to some obscure places. In particular, this came in handy with our day in Santo Tomas De Castilla, Guatemala. My good friend David had been to the region prior, and was very forthright with his response: You need to go up the Rio Dulce, and you need to go to the town of Livingston. Digging a bit, I was able to locate a tour provider doing both at a fraction of the official cruise ship price for tours. This is a pretty good life when these things happen. Continue reading

2016 Veendam Cruise Trip Report Series

I’m very late in doing these, but here’s the Veendam Cruise Trip Report Series from our trip way back in March. I’ll update this as I go.

Pt. 1: Preface/Travel Day

Pt. 2: Ship Review

Pt. 3: Departure from Tampa and Key West

Pt. 4: At Sea 1/Trujillo/Banana Coast, Honduras

Pt. 5: Santo Tomas De Castilla, Guatemala

Pt. 6: Costa Maya/Mahahual, Mexico/At Sea 2

Pt. 7: Return to Tampa, Florida Aquarium

TR: Veendam Caribbean Cruise 2016: Pt. 4 – At Sea/Honduras (3/15-3/16/16)

How did we spend our first full sea day on the Veendam? Eating. Sleeping. Reading. Eating again. And then eating again. Is this worthy of a play-by-play? Probably not. Our most significant activity of the day would have had to been attending the America’s Test Kitchen presentation that reviewed how to make creme brulee. Yes: samples were provided, and yes, they were tasty. This is why people take cruises: in between the stops in outrageously exotic locales, you chill out and have a good time. We even got a chance to enjoy formal night, which we bothered to participate in this time. I feel like we looked good? Continue reading