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Carnival and Carrie Underwood Support Operation Homefront

You’ve heard me talk about Carnival Cruise in the past. While they are truly one of the best vacation adventures our family has taken they are also an amazing supporter for communities in need.  They recently announced an initiative with Carrie Underwood and Operation Homefront to help raise funds for military families.

During her The Storyteller Tour, Carrie Underwood will treat selected military families, chosen in partnership with Operation Homefront, to personal meet-and-greets 10 different concert appearances. The final stop in the cross-country Honor. Family. Fun. campaign will be New York City, where Carnival, Operation Homefront, and Underwood will treat hundreds of military families to a special concert aboard the new Carnival Vista at the Port of New York on November 4, 2016.

Driving the effort to raise funds for the cause, fans of Underwood, and of the program, will have the opportunity to donate by clicking on the “Donate Now” button on Carnival’s HonorFamilyFun page. Commemorative dog tags will also be available for purchase at merchandise stands at all Storyteller Tour stops as well as on board the fleet of Carnival ships with all proceeds going to Operation Homefront.

Carnival and Operation Homefront introduce Carrie Underwood Honor Family Fun

Carnival and Operation Homefront introduce Carrie Underwood Honor Family Fun

In the coming weeks, Carnival will launch a new shipboard military appreciation program. Each ship will host a special event on board to recognize active and retired military personnel and their families and will kick off with a welcome video featuring Carrie Underwood.

Finally, it was also revealed that Carrie Underwood will join the Carnival LIVE! roster of artists in early 2017 with further details to be announced at a later date.

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St. Jude Day of Play with Carnival

2014 disclosureThere are times I look at my children and wonder if they were put on this planet to just frustrate me. Then there are moments when I just want to hold them close and thank the universe for giving me so much in my life. These are the times I’m grateful for a happy and healthy family. A few weeks ago I had the honor of being invited to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, TN and was awoken again to realize that our lives are precious while having to witness the struggles of the families seeking treatment everyday.

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is leading the way the world understands, treats, educates and defeats childhood cancer and other deadly diseases. Founded in 1962, Danny Thomas changed many lives with his vision to provide care and treatment for children without burden to their families. Today thanks to treatments invented through St Jude research the survival rate for childhood cancer has risen to over 80% from its original rate of 20% fifty years ago.

St Jude focuses its research  efforts on childhood cancer some acquired and inherited immunodeficiencies, sickle cell disease, infectious diseases and genetic disorders. Currently they are also investigating work in gene therapy, bone marrow transplantation, chemotherapy, the biochemistry of normal and cancerous cells, radiation treatment, blood diseases, resistance to therapy, viruses, hereditary diseases, influenza, pediatric AIDS and psychological effects of catastrophic illnesses

As you can tell this isn’t just a regular pediatric hospital. The most severely ill children are brought here to take part in breakthrough technologies, clinical trials and treatment.

I, along with several other bloggers and the media and entertainment group of Carnival Cruise Lines, were invited to take a tour and learn more about how the hospital benefits it’s patients and families.

  • St. Jude is where doctors send their toughest cases because St. Jude has the world’s best survival rates for the most aggressive childhood cancers.
  • St. Jude freely shares the breakthroughs we make, and every child saved at St. Jude means doctors and scientists worldwide can use that knowledge to save thousands more children.
  • St. Jude is a world leader in developing new, improved treatments for children with cancer. We create more clinical trials for cancer than any other children’s hospital.
  • On average, St. Jude has more than 67,000 patient visits each year.
  • St. Jude has helped increase the survival rates for acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) from 4% before opening in 1962 to 94% today.

The most important fact I want to press upon you is this. Families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food – because all a family should worry about is helping their child live.

I was also invited to be a part of the Day of Play that was put together by Carnival Cruise Lines. This was an underwater adventure themed party with a DJ, food, dancing, games and crafts as a way to give the kids some fun to look forward to. The doors opened to the patients and their families and for the next couple hours there was no talk of treatment, medication or diagnosis.St. Jude Day of Play with Carnival Cruise #sjblogtourSt. Jude Day of Play with Carnival Cruise

I was honored to be a part of this chunk of time of their day.  If I helped one child smile then it was all worth it.

Through a variety of innovative fundraising activities such as on board Groove for St. Jude, Beary Cuddly Program and simple bingo games, Carnival Cruise Lines has raised more than $5 million for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital® for the hospital’s many lifesaving pediatric cancer research and treatment programs.

St. Jude keeps moving forward due to the generosity of individuals, businesses, the community and a band of loyal volunteers.

This Family is #CruisingCarnival

In just a few shorts days we’re heading out for our summer family vacation thanks to Carnival Cruiselines. We aren’t strangers to the cruise but nowhere near the cruise enthusiasts I want to be. Our last cruise was 4 years ago and the kids still talk about it and have been begging to go again since then. Timing couldn’t have been better either; Sabreena graduated high school a few weeks ago. Rob and I will be celebrating our 13th wedding anniversary while at sea and Shae turns 7 a couple weeks after we get back. It’s celebration time all around.

The Carnival Fantasy leaves out of Charleston, South Carolina and headed to the Caribbean. We’ll be taking the 9 hour drive to South Carolina overnight, seeing some of the pretty and historical sights of Charleston then boarding the 855 foot boat for non-stop fun over the next 8 days.This Family is #CruisingCarnival #FamilyTravel

Our Ports of Call while #CruisingCarnival

Grand Turk-Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos, may be small, but it’s packed with scenic punch and historic charm. Carnival® cruises to Grand Turk deliver you to an enchanted island outpost dotted with old windmills, grassy trails, and picture-perfect beaches. Discover an oasis of green set in aquamarine seas ringed by a pristine coral reef and the steep wall of the continental shelf with cruises to Grand Turk. Swim in the sparkling turquoise seas off Governor’s Beach. Snorkel or dive the coral reefs fringing Grand Turk.This Family is #CruisingCarnival #Fantasy Grand Turk #FamilyTravel

Half Moon Cay, the Bahamas-Fulfill your tropical island fantasy on Carnival cruises to Half Moon Cay, the Bahamas. Sway in the sweet Bahamian breezes to the rhythms of calypso and find romance on this private island paradise. Cruises to Half Moon Cay deliver you to an idyllic sun-drenched island hideaway where you can play in the turquoise seas, ride horseback on powdery white sand, and encounter silky stingrays. Sail, swim or snorkel the shallow blue-green Atlantic. Ride horseback along the sea’s edge on Half Moon Cay cruises.half moon cay

Nassau, the Bahamas-Blessed by balmy breezes and jumping to a bouncy calypso beat, Carnival cruises to Nassau, Bahamas promise sizzling fun in the sun. The historic and cultural heart of The Bahamas is one of the world’s most popular cruise ship ports—one million travelers board cruises to Nassau annually.This Family is #CruisingCarnival #Fantasy Nassau #FamilyTravel

The Fantasy is filled with so much to do during the 8 days at sea. The kids will enjoy Club Carnival, Hasbro the game show, video games in the arcade, putt putt golf and of course Waterworks water park. Rob and I have the casino, nightclubs, Punchliner Comedy club, the piano bar, Serenity Adult Retreat and spa services to rival the best in the country.

As a family we’ll have lots of time to relax by the pool, enjoy casual dining with 24 hour soft-serve ice cream and pizza and do a little shopping while sailing.

Follow along all week while we share our experiences, photos from the Caribbean and memories we make while #cruisingcarnival.

History and Charm in a Small Package-Galveston Island

My first thoughts of a vacation are laid back, no hassle, exotic trips to the beach. My mind has been changed. Last week’s visit to Galveston Island, Texas has made me a convert to sticking to what is right here in the states. Yes Galveston Island has beaches but there is so much more. A city rich in culture, history and pride, Galveston Island offers a little bit of everything for whatever vacation you’re planning; a romantic getaway, a family retreat or a lesson on times past on a small footprint.

Moody Gardens Hotel and Spa Resort- It all started with a decadent suite just for me and Rob. Way too much room for the two of us but it was so nice to have space to spread out and relax in-between activities. Moody Gardens is more than a hotel too; it’s a non-profit foundation for the conservation and education of nature and wildlife. A member of the American Zoo and Aquarium Association, Moody Gardens works with captive and injured animals and their rehabilitation.

Aquarium Pyramid-More than 10,000 marine animals and 1 million gallons of water is the showcase at Aquarium Pyramid. Coming over the the Galveston Causeway this 10-story blue-glass aquarium stands out against the palm trees and blue skies. The Aquarium Pyramid is separated into 4 regions of the world; Carribean, South Atlantic, North Pacific and South Pacific. Each exhibit is centered around the species from that region and gives an educational overview of their natural habitat, predators and lifespan.
moody gardens pyramid aquarium



Rainforest Pyramid-Glass and steel make up this see through pyramid filled with free roaming exotic animals and birds. A recent $25 million upgrade has revolutionized the way we learn about the rainforest by bringing guests up to the canopy, up close and personal to what lives within. Carnivorous plants, lizards, butterflies, macaws and even a white faced saki monkey can all be seen right before your eyes. Once on the floor you’ll visit the replica home of a giant green anaconda, piranhas and vampire bats.

rainforest pyramid moody gardens

Schlitterbahn Waterpark was a family owned and operated hidden gem located right next to Moody Gardens. From the hotel room you could see the rides and slides and it instantly drew us in. Even though the outside park is open seasonally the indoor park is enough for a family to enjoy a relaxing and exciting day together. We are looking into heading back to enjoy the full park next summer.

Schlitterbahn Cliffhanger ride

learn to body surf at BoogieBahn

Historic Galveston is full of stories, memories and reminders of surviving. Walking and driving past buildings you’ll see markers stating the flood lines from 1900 Hurricane, Hurricane Ike 2008, and others in between. Sea water damaged trees are transformed into pieces of art. Buildings are being brought back to their original state reminiscent of from Being one of the oldest seaports in the States and considered the “Ellis Island of the South” Galveston Island has a deep rooted foundation in maritime operations and immigration. Lots of it’s architecture has stood the test of time and is now protected by the Historical Foundation. Bishops Palace was a place that had to be seen. Built in 1892, this now museum stands as a regal Victorian presence in the midst of smaller less conspicuous homes. It survived the 1900 hurricane virtually unharmed and now attracts visitors who admire works from Nicholas Clayton and home rich in character, charm and eccentric design.

Birds of Galveston Tree Carving

bishops palace galveston tx

Bishops Palace Architecture

bishops palace galveston tx historic mansion

Bishops Palace Details

The Galveston Seawall was built shortly after the 1900 hurricane to protect the island from disastrous storms and surges. The seawall is exactly that, a wall built into the island at the waterline about 17 feet above sea level. Spanning 10 miles long of the 32 mile long island it’s the perfect spot to watch surfers, sunbathers and the tranquil water crashing on the shore. Memorial Day 2012 expect to see a newly constructed Pleasure Pier; an amusement park built right out on the water.

The Hotel Galvez and Spa might be one of the most beautiful architecturally designed hotels I’ve ever seen. It’s multi-leveled roofs, tall windows and grand entrance make it a sight from its historic beachfront. They are celebrating 100 years with a history rich in the military, community and rebuilding of the city. Our next visit to Galveston will hopefully be on one of their rooms overlooking the water; where state of the art meets old world charm.

hotel galvez photo courtesy of Wyndam

Hotel Galvez

I was surprised with the beauty and culture found all over Galveston Island. The people were friendly, the sites were plentiful and the heritage was rich. Since it was just Rob and I that got to enjoy the tours and fun we really want to head back so the kids can experience the fun too.

A special thanks to the Galveston Island Convention and Visitors Bureau and the participants of the Galveston Island Familiarization tour for hosting us during our Carnival Magic experience. We hope to see you all again soon.

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I Can’t Wait!

carnival-cruise-blogger-ambassadorOn November 13th, my favorite band, Maroon 5 will be playing in Galveston, TX. Carnival is offering this free-ticketed concert on Pier 21 to welcome Magic, their newest ship to set sail in states. Galveston is going to be homeport to the Carnival Magic and what better way to celebrate its inaugural sailing than with a party with a thousand fans.

“We wanted to do something big and memorable to mark Carnival Magic’s U.S. debut and what better way to celebrate than to bring together fans of music and fans of Carnival, along with our partners in Galveston, for an exceptional afternoon of fun and entertainment,” said Gerry Cahill, Carnival Cruise Lines’ president and CEO.

Rob and I are going to be there, front and center, rocking with the rest of Galveston and other invited Carnival guests. We’re getting a sneak peak of the Magic before it heads out on its maiden US voyage. We’ve been on a Carnival cruise before, last year’s awesome family vacation was aboard the Dream; and a dream it was. The amenities, food, entertainment and activities rival those of resorts and hotels. We talk constantly about booking again and just can’t figure out where to go, when to go and which ship to sail. It doesn’t help that Carnival is pumping out ships bigger and better than the one before.

Do you want to come to Galveston with us? Carnival is giving away tickets, airfare, accommodations and spending money. Make a video of Your Best Dance Moves and upload it to Carnival’s Facebook Page. Check out all the details and good luck!

We are just a couple weeks away and I’m beyond excited. Did I tell you Maroon 5 is my favorite band, no lie.

Fun for All, All for Fun

As a Carnival Cruise Line Ambassador it is my duty to let you know of all the fun things onboard. For years I thought I would be scared or bored on a cruise ship. I also never thought it would be an adventure for the whole family. carnival-magic-waterworks

If you followed along our Carnival Dream vacation last year you’ll know I was dead wrong. Carnival caters to the whole family. Starting with Camp Carnival for the youngest all the way up to Cloud 9 Spa for the moms and dads. We enjoyed parties, music, concerts, movies, shows, crafts, activities, food and swimming each and every day. Honestly, there wasn’t enough time in the day to take in all the amenities.

Carnivals newest addition is the Magic, the cruise line’s largest ship yet. The Magic has upgraded Waterworks with a more elaborate onboard waterpark that includes a dump bucket that pours HUNDREDS of gallons of water on unsuspecting sunbathers.

Parents aren’t left out of the fun either. The RedFrog Pub is hangout for adults, where they can get together, have a drink and enjoy the live entertainment and gameroom. Whether it’s the largest ship or a local ship I guarantee you’ll have a blast on a Carnival Cruise with the whole family.



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Carnival Announces Unique Concert Experiences


Remember Carnival’s “Didja Ever” campaign, where they asked you to create a list of things you’ve always wanted to do; a bucket list of sorts? Well in response to the all the music lover’s wishes Carnival and Live Nation have joined together to bring cool opportunities such as attending a sound check with a top-performing artist, meeting a band prior to a show, VIP seating, fan interaction and other exclusive artist access.

The agreement makes Carnival the Official Concert Series Sponsor at four Live Nation amphitheater concert venues, including Aaron’s Amphitheatre at Lakewood in Atlanta, Jiffy Lube Live in Washington D.C., Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion in Houston and Center in Dallas. Carnival branding will prominently appear on tickets and in advertisements promoting Carnival’s “Rock The Deck” Concert Series in each market. Carnival will also be the Official Cruise Line category sponsor at Live Nation’s Susquehanna Bank Center amphitheater in Philadelphia. All markets are within a short drive of a year-round Carnival homeport.

They are called the Fun Ships for a reason. “Carnival is all about creating fun, memorable, once-in-a-lifetime experiences and encouraging people to get out of their comfort zone and try things for the first time – whether that’s taking their first cruise, trying a new food or experiencing their favorite new band performing live,” said Jim Berra, senior vice president and chief marketing officer for Carnival Cruise Lines. “By tapping into Live Nation’s own unique assets, we have a prime opportunity to create new and exciting experiences well-aligned with our brand that showcases the essence of a Carnival cruise vacation to an audience of loyal fans and those we invite to sail with Carnival for the first time.”

Stay tuned with Carnival Cruise Line’s Facebook Page for more details and announcements of appearances and activities near you and chances to win cool stuff!



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