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MITSUGIRLY sails off into the HORIZON-review & pictorial

Day 1: Flying to Florida for an over night stay

Well hello everyone! I'm back! I know a lot of people have been probably wondering where I have's been a hectic and complicated year for me. 


So many things have happened this year and I just needed a break. I deactivated all my social media, removed myself from the internet and computer (other than turning in homework assignments and tests) and completely changed life up as it was known around August.


Everyone knows I've been in school for a while to get my bachelors, but I have been slacking on my classes over the year(s). Well, I put my mind to it that I was going to get my butt in gear and finish. Last year I only took 1 class in the spring and decided to take the summer off (because it's the only semester they will allow you to take off and not be penalized). Well, I enjoyed it so much that I also took the winter off...which meant come this year, I had to reapply to my school and that meant lots of paperwork. I took my spring classes, summer classes and just finished up my winter classes. I have 1 more class to go and I'M DONE! Finito, adios school, completed. This last class I just finished lasted from August until the week of my cruise...nutrition! Uh! I have been avoiding it like the plague. I'm the most un-nutritionalist (is that a word?) you will meet. LOL  It consisted of anywhere from 5-12 quizzes weekly and 1 test weekly. Then there was 2 "mid-term" tests and a horrible 2-hour final. Whew! I'm proud to say I passed with a 96% and it's all behind me.


My youngest son just bought a house (I'm such a proud momma but I'm missing him terribly since he's been gone), my oldest son just had another baby (that makes 7 for me now-I'm getting old), we sold one of our businesses (the skate/bike shop) and have been doing a complete remodel on our kitchen. It has been hectic! I'm sure there's a lot more but I'm jet-lagged and can't think at the moment.



Anyhow, we normally take a November cruise (which actually used to be a December family cruise but we stopped doing that a few years back because it was one of the busiest times of the year for our store and the hubby complained about missing out on all the sales during the Christmas season that we pushed it back to November) but with my hectic class schedule, we decided not to go this time. Then, of course, out of the blue, Kendra starts talking about a Christmas cruise instead. We started scouring the internet and booked last minute (less than 30 days before the cruise) on the Carnival Horizon. I liked the ports we would be going to (all repeats for me but 3 new for Kendra) and a new ship! I didn't have much time to get myself too excited or research ports but we managed to pull it all together quickly.


Since Kenny had just had a baby Dec 10 (was due Thanksgiving, but she decided to cook a little longer), he wasn't able to go. Since Kolin had just put a large down payment on a house, he wasn't able to go. That meant it was just us and Kendra and family. The day we were leaving on the plane, Kendra's fiance backed out. His dad has been in bad shape the last 2 years, but has progressively become worse. They put him on hospice the week before and didn't expect him to make it to Christmas. I'm glad to report he's still with us at this time. However, Billy didn't want to be away on a cruise if something was to happen. This meant that Kendra was now cruising with TWO kids...on her OWN! If any of you are thinking this scenario know this can't be a good thing. LOL  I'll jump ahead and report that when Kendra's plane landed last night, she didn't even make it home before dropping both kids off with their Aunt Chrissy (who was the one who cruised with us one year to Bermuda). Kendra said she's now on vacation!


So, this is the beginning of our cruise.  This was an 8-day cruise sailing out of Miami to Grand Turk, Dominican Republic, Curacao, and Aruba!

This will make my 22nd cruise, my husband's 20th cruise I think? After a while, things are starting to run together.
and Sakari's 19th cruise...

CAMERAS:  This entire review was shot with my Olympus Tough TG2 & a few with the 620. I take my model 620 & 830 along with me for back up because you never know what might happen and I would be devastated if I was without a camera. Last Christmas, we also purchased Sakari her own camera (the 620 model) and she uses hers as well.

So everyone knows that my family is not considered "morning" people. Although I have gotten better since summer and not staying up so late.


We decided to book a late morning flight out of Columbus, flying to Ft Lauderdale (since that's where Southwest flies to instead of Miami). 


We packed the truck the night before and all we had to do was pull out that morning, head for a quick breakfast and we arrived in plenty of time.


It's winter here in Ohio and cold (in the 20's) but today it wasn't that bad (mid 40's), which was a nice change. Waiting for the airport shuttle bus was tolerable and in our minds, we knew sometime today we'd be living it up in the heat.

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The shuttle arrived within minutes, so we didn't stand in the cold for too long. 

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We were on our way and Sakari was super excited for this cruise.

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We met Kendra and the kids at the airport and began our pre-flight ritual of Kendra sitting on the floor at the airport...

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We boarded the flight on time, was able to get excellent seats all together, and was pulling out at 11:55am.


Sakari also has her ritual of touching the plane before boarding for luck.

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Kendra immediately pulled out the electronics to keep the kids occupied.

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Sakari starting drawing as soon as we were up in the air...of course.

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It didn't take long for Kendra to say it was nap time...that girl sleeps more than anyone I know.

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Sakari has a new app on her phone for drawing. For those of you who follow my reviews, you all know she's an artist. Those that are new to my reviews...she's been drawing since she was 3 and her talent was noticed in preschool. She's very talented with her drawing and creating skills. She was tested several times over the last 2 years and has now been labeled as gifted. I'm so proud of her and it just comes so natural for her. She usually has such detail in her work that most would miss and she's really super fast at drawing too. She usually only uses pens, not pencils, and now this new app on her phone has become the "in" thing for her drawings most of the time. So during the cruise, I will post her pictures she did on her phone instead of her normal paper drawings...because that's mostly what she worked on during this cruise.


She absolutely adores her dog, Loki the husky, and most of her drawings consist of him. Well my sons ex-girlfriend Courtney (from previous cruises), her stepmom has a husky, which comes over for play dates. Sakari draws a lot of Loki and Sophie pictures...

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We had a connecting flight this time (thanks to Kendra booking our flight last minute). We were originally supposed to leave Columbus at 11:15am. The flight was delayed. Sakari started to worry. Our last vacation, to Aruba, was also delayed and they ended up flying us to another destination...AND THEY LOST OUR LUGGAGE!!! All of them! The airline only gave us $150 to buy clothes and necessities, which think about it, that's not much! Sakari was starting to freak out thinking the same thing was about to happen. 


But as I said earlier, we pulled out at, still very late. They did inform us that they were holding the plane for us in Atlanta so no worries.


We arrived and ran to the next plane...only to find out that it was a FULL flight and everyone was waiting on us to leave. This meant no seats together...with 3 kids...which don't go over well. I hate when I have to pay $45 for the airlines to check us in automatically and be able to get good seats only to have something like this happen and not have any seats. gets worse... there's actually NOT ENOUGH seats at all! It was overbooked!! A very nice man traded a lady for her seat, which let me sit with Sakari and the lady ended up having to sit in the back seats with the airline stewardess in the jumpseat. I was so grateful and sad at the same time.


One thing I noticed this time around is the stewardess no longer comes around to inform me to put the face mask on myself first before putting one on my child in case of emergency. Oh my gosh! My child is growing up! She would now be able to put her own on! I'm feeling old.


We travel frequently...well, frequent enough to know all of the airline drills about safety, crashing, where the exits are blah blah blah. I'm busy playing a game on my phone when I hear "Thank you for those that have listened to our drill. For those of you that didn't...GOOD LUCK". LOL They are sometimes very witty with the comments.




We booked the Doubletree by Hilton in Hollywood Florida, basically right across from the beach. We were due to arrive early enough that we could squeeze in a little beach walking time. However, with the delayed flight...that didn't work out well.


This hotel is located at 4000 South Ocean Drive.


We had originally booked the Hyatt using Value Trips, which we have used before with great success. However, they usually respond within 3 days. I emailed 4x and tried to call 3x with no response. Just days before we were to leave, I'm in a panic to find another place. Two days before leaving, they emailed a no! I canceled and stuck with our Hollywood hotel.


We scheduled a Lyft driver for 6 people and held our breath. We had originally planned on just getting 2 vehicles but the hubby put in 6 people and it said it was a $20+ ride, which was a lot cheaper than what we were coming up with on our phones. He claimed he has a discount code and let him book the ride for us. Our driver arrived in a nice 3 seater Chevy that fit all 6 of us and all of our luggage. He was very nice, very informative, and told us that he is normally a Lyft XL Luxury driver and we were getting a deal! (Which we were...I looked it up and it would have been over $100).


Off we went....only to arrive at some unknown place which wasn't ours. After telling the driver our hotel and address, we were nowhere near where we needed to go and on the opposite side of town and up north. UGH! The hubby had messed up the address and took us to NORTH Ocean Drive...not SOUTH Ocean Drive. Well, South Ocean was going to be another 30+ minutes away. Blah! Never trust the hubby to book anything again, which is why I usually take control of all the planning. LOL


We arrived at the hotel at 6pm and it was already dark. Marco, our driver, gave us his card and said he'd give us a lift to the cruise port as well.


We checked in and here's the hotel....


I absolutely LOVED this built-in shelf wall with ocean stuff on it...I now want one.

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We arrived in our room and it was nice and spacious.

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The only difference between our room and Kendra's room is that she had a walk in shower with glass and no tub.

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I hear Sakari shriek with excitement "Come look mommy"...we had a balcony...which overlooked the pool that she has now discovered and can't wait to get in to. 

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Immediately the kids wanted to swim. They got on their bathing suits and we all headed down. It was 6:30pm. We were stopped and told that we were not allowed to use the pool and it was now closed. SAY WHAT?!?! Are you serious? It's only 6:30pm. They told us that we were welcome to sit around the pool or go to the bar around the pool and have a drink but the pool closes at dark. What the heck kind of rule is this???? I would have never booked this place had I known that. They tried to say that it was a city-wide ordinance and that no swimming is allowed after dark. Not even getting in the hot tub was allowed.  How ridiculous! The kids (and even myself) were very disappointed.

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The pool area was huge (both the pool and pool deck) with plenty of seating and huts and everything all the way around it. It was super nice! Resort style for sure.

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They even have an easy entry, like a beach, at one end. Very nice.

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Why was this area so lit up and pool lights and all if it's closed? It was just too inviting.


Along the waterfront were chairs lined up as well. It was very nice and a good place to hang out and watch the boats go by.

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We decided to head out and get something to eat.


There's a nice waterfall in front of the hotel.

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There's also some type of area next to the pool that looks like it would be used for weddings or receptions.

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Then there's a restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating as well, right by the pool.

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Directly across from the hotel was a path to the ocean and beach. We decided to walk down and at least check it out.



It was dark.

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There were no lights on the beach and it was deserted. Not sure what Kendra was looking for...but the only light on the beach was her phone. LOL

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Sakari drawing in the sand "Loki" of course...

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We took out our phones and turned on the gps to see where we could walk to get some food. "Left" Kendra said. Hmmm, should I trust her? I know I'm not giving this assignment to the hubby this time around. We headed to the left of the hotel and came upon a place called The Diplomat. It was a very nice area to eat and hang out at.


The kids sat down at the water fountain...Brayden being himself thought he would go for a swim and see just how long he could be in the water before his mom noticed him and yelled. This child I swear...

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We found a place called Bristols Burgers and it looked and smelled yummy in there. They also had a game room and both indoor and outdoor seating. We decided we wanted to sit outside along the waterfront. 

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We put our order in and it took quite some time for our food to come. There really wasn't very many people there either. There were a few people inside and one other family outside. 


The kids were already getting on Kendra's nerves arguing and she sent them away to the game room. The games are free to use. They had several video games, like Pacman and so on, then a driving game you sit in the chair, foosball and other things. At least it kept the kids occupied while waiting for the food and not fighting.


When our food came...holy cow! The burgers and especially the chicken was HUGE! The picture does not do them justice trust me.

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After dinner, we all headed to the game room for a little fun. The kids enjoyed it and so did I. It's been a while since I played Pacman, Galaxy and Donkey Kong. LOL


Kendra cheered everyone on.

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We headed back to the hotel and were in our rooms by 9:30pm. We decided to call it a night and just relax before going to bed...we knew it would be a big day tomorrow and we were all excited.


A can of pop is $2.66 at the front desk small store...for a can! Yikes! But I'm a popaholic so...I fork out the mulla when needed.


Sakari and I sat out on the balcony for awhile...AND WATCHED PEOPLE SWIMMING! What the heck? There were 2 couples swimming (probably in their 20's) and a family with 3 children swimming as well. Now I'm a little ticked at this point but too tired to put bathing suits back on and head down.


We watched t.v. for a little bit and decided to call it a night.




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