Western Caribbean Cruise Vacation Review




At the beginning of May, CJM and I went on our third cruise, a Western Caribbean cruise on Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas. We've always cruised RC, but this was our first time on such a large ship. We left Sunday morning from Savannah, and arrived at Port Canaveral about 12:30 p.m. On our last cruise, we were the last people on the ship, and basically ran through the gate at 2:57 p.m. This time we hit it right in the middle of the busy time, but it really only took us an hour to get from our car to our cabin, which wasn't bad to me. It definitely helps to be loyal to a line, because our Crown & Anchor Society membership allowed us to get checked in faster in a special line versus waiting in line to our corresponding deck number.

Oasis of the Seas
Oasis of the Seas--The Boardwalk at Night


Oasis of the Seas--Central Park from inside

Going through cruise check-in is a lot like going through TSA at the airport, and then checking in on the other side. Once we got on the boat and checked in, we got a cocktail and started exploring. This ship is so huge, and there was so much to see. It started raining once we got through security, so we didn't get to explore the pool area much {it also rained every cruising day, so we really only spent any time on the top deck on the second day for a quick drink}.  We did try to make the most of the huge ship and all it's amenities by being sure to exercise each day we were at sea, eating at all the different dining options, and checking out all the bars.

Oasis of the Seas--Aqua Theater


Oasis of the Seas--Champagne Bar
Oasis of the Seas--American Icon Grill Main Dining Room


On the ship, we enjoyed the main dining room each night thanks to amazing food and waitstaff, visited the casino a few times, and loved all the shows and entertainment. We ended up doing a ton of things, but there were still activities on board that we missed even with our week long itinerary!

Haiti

Oasis of the Seas in Haiti

Haiti

Labadee, Haiti

Oasis of the Seas at Labadee, Haiti

Our first stop was at the private Royal Caribbean beach of Labadee in Haiti. It was absolutely amazing, and way better than CocoCay. It was a beautiful beach, with tons of different sections to lay out at. The water was beautiful, and we spent too much time swimming by the floating bar which ended up with me getting my first real sunburn!

Bamboo Beach Club in Jamaica 

Falmouth, Jamaica

Falmouth, Jamaica  
Bamboo Beach Club in Jamaica 

Our second stop was Falmouth, Jamaica. I had read a bunch of questionable reviews about this port, so I booked a shore excursion through the cruise line. We boarded a bus and drove over an hour to the Martha Brae river where we tubed with our group down crystal clear cool water for about 45 minutes. Then we were taken to the Bamboo Beach Club where we received a sampling of Jamaican delicacies. On the way back on the ship, we picked up  beef and cheese Jamaican patties which was delicious and so spicy!

Cozumel, Mexico

Cozumel, Mexico

Cozumel, Mexico  


Cozumel, Mexico

Cozumel, Mexico

Oasis of the Seas in Cozumel, Mexico

Catamaran in Cozumel, Mexico

The final stop on our trip was Cozumel, which we both absolutely loved. I had the best margarita of my entire life at the Thirsty Cougar Seaside Boozery {cucumber + jalepeno for the win!} and a delicious steak burrito at like 10 a.m. thanks to the time change. We explored some, and then walked {and walked, and walked...we clocked over 5 miles that day!} to a ocean side beach club to wait for our next excursion. I had booked a catamaran sail and snorkel via Viator that had great reviews. We got nervous because no one else showed up, but it turned out to be our lucky day! We were the only two on the tour, and go to snorkel privately for over an hour before cruising around the bay while eating homemade guac, margs, and delicious fruit and pico de gallo!

Oasis of the Seas Central Park at night 

Oasis of the Seas Ice Show
 
Oasis of the Seas Ice Show

Oasis of the Seas Ice Show






Overall, we had the absolute best time. I keep saying it was more fun than our honeymoon because we weren't as tired, and we really maxed out all of our options and experiences this time. We really love cruising, and I can't wait for our next one. We're thinking about doing Cuba next  year!



Best Maxi Dress for Vacay EVER












We've had the absolute best time on our vacation last week! I can't wait to share all about it, but wanted to give myself a few days to recover and think about all the high points again before compiling it all into a blog post. Before I do, I wanted to share the BEST maxi dress for vacation EVER!!

This dress has been hanging at one of my favorite local boutiques Mint {hop on over to their website and Facebook page, and you may see a familiar face!} for a couple of weeks, and I knew it would be perfect for one of the dinners on our cruise. It's absolutely beautiful. The colors are gorgeous, it's kind of glam yet comfy, and it's cool and fun for summer.

Unfortunately, we had super rainy/windy weather on all of our "at sea" days, so my plan for an awesome shoot at the very front of the ship was foiled by like a million mile per hour winds. Hence the limited balcony location. But the weather doesn't stop this dress from popping and being absolute perfection. It'll definitely be one I live in all summer long.

A couple of my favorite pieces make an appearance in this look: my gold Lisi Lerch "Ginger" earrings {if you love the tassels, you'll love these! A lot lighter to wear, and a little less expensive. Wait to order during a 30% off sale!}, my new stack of Alex + Ani bangles that we began collecting on this trip to commemorate all of our stops, and my favorite dupe wedges that are super comfortable and super popular this year.

Check back soon for vacation recap, and be sure to follow Mint on Facebook & Instagram {@shopmintbdublin} for all the cutest spring and summer styles.


Second Anniversary Gift Ideas




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Here we are, two years married next week. It's kind of hard to believe it! On Saturday, we'll have been engaged for five years. It's so sweet to look back and see how far we've come, and how much we've grown together and as individuals.

We really like sticking to the 'traditional' wedding anniversary gifts, but this year it was hard: cotton and china?! Those are kind of both girly options in my mind, so I was really struggling. I tried for a week to get Christopher to skip the gifts this year, but no such luck. I finally found him something really cool {and not on this list!} that I think will surprise him.

When I thought about cotton, I first thought about nice Egyptian cotton sheets. A gift for both, but one that could be given by either party! You can never have too many sets of sheets {especially with pets, and I've heard the same with regards to kiddos}, so this is an obvious choice. But I was looking for something a little unusual.

For the men, a new button down shirt is always a nice gift, especially a cotton shirt by Cotton Brothers to really stick with the theme here! You could even get it monogrammed for a touch of personalization. For a unique gift, you could get a custom cotton-themed wall hanging like this one with your initial, name and the year you were married. It's nice to give gifts that will be seen daily! For a more subtle unique gift, you could double dip with the cotton and china theme and fill a porcelain vase or pitcher with some long stemmed cotton bolls to display somewhere in your home.

Going the china route may be easier if you registered for a pattern or two when you got married. There's always new additional pieces to the classic collections like my family's Old Country Roses, and besides, you can never have too many place settings! I'd love to get a few more pieces from my Christmas pattern, the Spode Christmas Tree Gold Collection. Who cares if our anniversary is in April?!


Are you a newlywed? Check out my first anniversary gift guide here.

Vacation Planning




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If you've been around me at all in the last month,  you've heard about one thing: our vacation! We booked another week-long cruise in May {read about our last adventure here}, and I cannot wait. I really really like cruising. For us, it just works. It's all-inclusiveness + the sheer amount of activities and entertainment make it a no-brainer, especially since not everyone can't be out in the sun as much as I can.

We're going on a Western Caribbean cruise on Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas, and will be stopping in Haiti, Jamaica, and Mexico. I like going in May because it's super warm, but not blisteringly hot just yet, and we shouldn't have to worry about any hurricanes either. If you've been on this boat or done this itinerary before, let me know some of your favorite can't miss spots or activities!

There's always a bunch of "what to pack" lists for cruises that are like, way too much stuff. I'm more concerned with the wardrobe for the week of course, so I threw together a quick list of my faves. 

1 & 2. Cute one pieces & shorts: Great for excursions and exploring your stops. No worrying about things becoming untied or slipping down when doing the various activities (Pink Ruffle Suit here) (Blue Off the Shoulder Suit here). I like pairing them with some cute shorts to create a cohesive look. Of course a cover up or caftan work as well, but sometimes with all the walking/climbing/etc., it's nice to have shorts.

I still love a good bikini for tanning, and usually find a great selection at Target. 

3. A Beach Bag: Mine is huge and monogrammed, but I saw this palm one at Belk this past weekend and loved the waterproof material as well as the exterior pockets! I use my beach bag to carry all my important stuff on and off the boat: meds, passport, wallet, etc. and then I reduce and put the beach towel in it when we are at our various destinations.  I use this in place of my traditional handbag and and camera bag for the week. 

4. Beach Towel Clips: It's windy on these giant ships. I've never brought the clips before, but I'm going to this time. I hate trying to lay out by the pool and the wind keeps whipping the towel into me the entire time. 

5. Fun Maxi Dress: This is the time to bring out all the fun summer wear, and a great palm print maxi like this one is perfect for the environment and the more formal nights. There's a ton of really cute palm/flamingo/lemon/fruit themed pieces out there this year, and vacation is the best time to wear something printed and fun!

6. Sunhat: No brainer, but it's hot and sunny whether you're on the boat or exploring the destination. These fun sunhats were all the rage last summer, and I've found these dupes for less than $20 with lots of fun sayings on them like "Alcohol You Later" and "Do Not Disturb." 

7. Sunnies: Same with the hat, you need sunglasses on a cruise. Why not get a fun colored pair like some pink tinted aviators?!

8. Clutch with Shoulder Strap: So I  gifted white monogrammed bags like these to my bridesmaids, and got one for myself with my new monogram too, and it turned out to be the most handy thing I had on the last cruise. It's the right size and weight to hold your cruise ship pass, wallet/money, lip gloss, and phone. It looks nice at dinners as a clutch, and is easy to carry throughout the ship without lugging around the whole giant beach bag. I just slip it inside the beach bag with my wallet and passport to get started, and then pull it out when needed throughout the week. 


Pinch Proof | All Things Green




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It's the time of year where all things in Dublin, Ga., begin turning green! With green bows on mailboxes and shamrocks on doors, there's more than enough green to go around. I rounded up a quick list of a few of my favorite green {and gold!} St. Patrick's things to wear throughout the month of March and into spring.

Of course I love the Charleston Rice Beads green necklace and bracelet combo. These are two great pieces to add a touch of green to any outfit; I particularly like adding it over a black dress or a white top with navy pants. Dainty gold shamrock studs don't scream green, but are definitely festive, and would look so cute with the lime gingham Collyn Raye top with white jeans.

This jade monogrammed clutch is on major sale {50% off!}, and is another piece that can be added to a non-green outfit to make it St. Pats appropriate, just like the cashmere poncho. And finally, who doesn't need some green tassel earrings. These look just like the ones from Baublebar but are only $10 and come in so many colors.  Plus, Prime, so go get a pair or two!

Erin Go Bragh! 

Merry Mardi Gras + Rent the Runway Review




Happy Mardi Gras!

Definitely not one of my "normal holidays" but after all the fun a few weeks ago, it may need to become one. Some of CJM's friends from pharmacy school are from Biloxi, Mississippi, and are super involved in their local Mardi Gras celebrations. They invited us to come to this year's coronation ball as Jacob was being crowned Duke and his brother king of their krewe.

Having never done Mardi Gras before, all I knew was that it was fancy...lots of sparkles and sequins. Que Rent the Runway. I thought I had a dress to wear, but I just wasn't loving it on Wednesday night; mind you, we were flying out before 9:00 a.m. on Friday. I didn't really have a lot of time to find a back up formal gown. So at about midnight, I decided to look into Rent the Runway, and I'm so glad that I did!

I packed my original dress {because a girl can never have too many options, right?} and hoped that my gowns would be at the hotel by Friday evening. So the cool thing about RTR is that you get three dresses with your order: you pick your favorite dress in the size you think you need, as well as another size {larger or smaller depending on reviews, measurements, etc.}, as well as a singular "back up" dress. For my favorite dress, I picked a gold fully-sequined Badgley Mischka dress in my size and a size up, and then a metallic cut-out Adianna Papell gown as the back up.

With the time change and our early flight, we arrived at our hotel at 10:00 a.m., and surprisingly not only was our room ready and they let us check in early, but my RTR package had arrived as well! The gowns came on gold hangers in a fabric garment bag that folds in half and zips up for shipping. I ended up wearing the back up RTR dress for a couple of reasons.



The sequin gown was strapless and really heavy, and would have scratched under my arms really badly. Plus the two dresses were totally different color golds and the one that fit me best was a really brassy gold instead of the more champagne color like the other size. Plus, the Adrianna Papell gown was so comfortable! It was an amazing almost t-shirt material but had a fab metallic sheen to it. The straps and cut-outs were comfortable and fit me just perfectly, and the slit wasn't too high. Some sparkly shoes and jewelry really set it off right.

I ended up flying home with the dresses folded up as my carry on because I'm paranoid and wanted to drop it off at UPS myself and not leave it with the hotel staff, just in case. But yes, I will definitely Rent the Runway again! It makes so much sense...I spent less than I would have on any kind of appropriate dress for that type of an event, that I never would have worn again. Plus, it saves me room in my closet which I definitely need!