Wednesday, January 25, 2012

First Cruise booked!!!

Well... here I am less than one month into the new year and my new year predictions blog is already outdated!!  Cody and I knew that we were going to go somewhere during spring break this year.  Originally we were planning on going to California, but after I started looking into it I realized that a couple of things that I really wanted to do/see in California weren't going to be around/open in March.  I had the feeling that Cody wasn't really into going to California anyway, and he had mentioned us going on a cruise before.  At the time when he first mentioned it, I told him that we needed to do a ton of research before we would be ready to go on a good cruise and that we didn't really have enough time to go that route...

Well........  Once we decided that we didn't really want to go to California I started to think that maybe a cruise wouldn't be so bad after all.  Cody was on board with the idea pretty quickly and we started doing some research into it.

And I was right about my original assumption that doing research into cruises is hard work.  I can't believe how many HOURS Cody and I have spent looking into different cruise options.  I don't think that I have ever researched a trip so thoroughly.  But I think that might be because I've learned the hard way from the past that you need to make sure that you are getting a good value before you go on a trip.

But besides that... cruises are a different beast for me.  I've been on a quite a few guided tours, I've book plenty of hotels and flights but lets be honest it's not too hard to pick one hotel room vs. another.  But cruise lines?  Holy cow there is a LOT to consider.  Since this is both of our first cruises neither one of us have ever on a big ship before and we really had to educate ourselves on what to expect.  And the variety between cruise lines is astonishing.  I've literally spent the past 5 days reading and reading about different cruise lines and ports.  We decided pretty early on that we didn't want to book our flight through the cruise line, because they charge about $800 for a round-trip flight per person!!!  Which we thought was ridiculous!

Sooo there started the research.  At first we were going to go on a 5 day cruise, and I spent probably 5 hours looking at various travel websites and comparing different upgrades/perks that they offered that the cruise line didn't offer... and after that I found some good deals and I thought we were going to book.  But then Cody mentioned well...  why don't we look for a 7 day cruise.  And really that made a lot of sense because it was only a little bit more than the 5 day cruise.  A huge expense with the cruise was the flight anyway so why not go for a couple more days. 

This opened up a WIDE variety of cruises.  I guess a lot of cruise lines don't go to a lot of ports/offer just 5 day cruises.  But once we started looking for 7 day cruises a lot of possibilities opened up.  It almost got frustrating at times, and we seriously talked about not doing a cruise at all... but actually going back to California.  In the end we realized it wasn't that much of a price difference once you took the flight, hotel, rental car, food, and entertainment into account.  So after exploring those options... we were back to the cruise idea.  This took us about a day to decide. 

I really liked a cruise out of San Juan Puerto Rico, but plane tickets cost about $700 so that plan got scraped in the beginning stages of planning.  But maybe someday we'll plan far out in advance and go there if we like the cruise we go on this time.

Another option we were seriously considering on taking a Norwegian cruise out of Miami which seemed like a great ship to us, but once we tried to book our plane ticket flights from Miami increased from $440 on Monday to $530 on Tuesday!  Oh I was soooo mad about that!!!  I considered staying in Miami an extra night and flying out of Miami on a Monday instead of Sunday but in the end we decided to just scrap the idea of a cruise out of Miami.

SO after 5 intense days of research and planning and re-planning WHERE did we finally decide upon??

The winner is....

Carnival Legend leaving out of Tampa Florida on March 4th 2012 and returning on March 11th 2012.  A big factor into choosing this ship is that it has recently been refurbished, and I've heard reviews that it is supposed to be really nice.  I'm happy that we ended up choosing Carnival.  I'm hoping that we will be able to meet some people our age to hang out with while we are there.  And I feel like Carnival is probably one of the best cruise lines to meet younger people on.  However, my research showed that Norwegian Cruise lines often have younger people on them too.  Heck if anyone needs advice on booking a cruise let me know!  I'm practically an expert haha. 

On the cruise we will be going to the following ports:
  • Grand Cayman, Cayman Island
  • Cozumel, Mexico
  • Belize
  • Mahogany Bay, Isla Roatan

Like I said, Cody and I have never been on a cruise before and we've never been to any ports before.  We figured that any port in the Caribbean would be nice so we weren't too concerned about which ones we went to this time around.  If we decide to go on a cruise in the future we'll probably factor in that we've already been to these ports.  If anyone has any suggestions for us about what we can or what we should do at these ports please let us know!!  We are looking for cheaper excursions that the ones that cruise ship provides.

After evaluating all of the bonuses and offers that different websites provided we decided to book with Expedia because they are going to give us $75 on board credit and a room upgrade.  There is a law that says that sites like Expedia, Priceline, and Bookit can't make an offer lower than the cruise lines price.  So every website had the same price as the cruise lines website.  Just the other sites offered some extras like room upgrades so we thought that it was a better value to book with Expedia than Carnival itself.

And our highly influential flight was booked through and we will be flying with United Airlines.  I'm quite proud that we found $420 tickets!  I felt like I had a deal after the whole Miami mess.

Overall I'm really excited about our decision.  Cody and I really put our homework into this.  Cody is great, I think he is the first travel companion that I've ever had that is an active participant in trying to book things.  Most people that I travel with don't want to get wrapped up in the research and logistics behind the trip, and I end up doing most of the leg work, and they just come along.  But not Cody, he's really been working hard and staying up until midnight with me trying to get this all settled and booked.  I think we are both relieved that this is finally done!  All we've been talking about for weeks is this trip, and I know that I'm sick of looking into it.  I'm just excited that we only have to wait just over a month to go on the cruise!!  YIPPEE!!!  Expect massive updates then!

Friday, January 13, 2012

2012 Predictions

I thought that it would be fun to try to predict some of the things that I think are going to occur in 2012 now.  I look at some of my past years and I know that I have done a lot of things that I would NEVER have been able to really predict in 2011.  It seems like sometimes I just go with the flow and see what ends up happening.

However that is not going to stop me from trying to predict what is going to happen in 2012... so here is what I think is going to happen in 2012.

1.  First I am going to start completing my final semester of undergrad!

2.  Over spring break Cody and I are going to head out to California.  We are going to go to both Disneyland parks, Six Flags Magic Mountain, and then we are going to explore around California.  Most likely checking out LA/Hollywood and then maybe some California beaches.

3.  I'm going to graduate from BGSU in May with my bachelor in business science specializing in supply chain management and finance.

4.  After I graduate I am going to be moving into an apartment with Cody. We are looking at a two bedroom apartment in Olmsted Falls.  We really like it a lot and it's quite possible that we'll be moving into a two bedroom ranch at Oakwood Apartments.

5.  Later on in May around the 13th-14th I am planning on taking a 10 day tour of China.  I am hoping that I will be able to convince my dad to come with me.  I've always wanted to go to China and I finally have some time to go.  I feel like this is really a chance I can't pass up.

6.  On June 4th I am going to be starting my new job at Swagelok in Solon, OH.  I am going to be on a 2 year 6 month rotational program.  So I am going to be working in 4 different areas of supply chain at Swagelok over my rotational program.  I know when my start date is, but I don't know what program I will be starting in yet.  So I can't predict that!  But I'm excited about it.

7.  On June 20th Cody and I will celebrate our one year anniversary!!  Wow how fast time flies!  I can't believe it has already been almost 7 months!

After that... I really don't have too many more predictions for 2012.  I feel like I have a pretty good feel on what is going to occur in the beginning of 2012 but the second half... I guess I'll have to wait and see what happens!

2011 in Review

Happy New Years Everyone!!  In the spirit of the new year I thought that I would make two blogs.  The first blog will look at 2011 and I'll review everything that I did in 2011.  Then in the second blog I am going to talk about what I think 2012 will bring.

Sooo to begin!

In 2011 I....

worked at Bendix CVS.  I worked as a purchasing coop in the charging department for 8 months.  My experience at Bendix was really pleasant.  I really enjoyed working at Bendix and getting all of the exposure I received there.  I really felt like this was a great decision for me to make.  I love how long the coop term was, and that I really was able to learn a lot of different things.  I was able to visit a lot of suppliers and learn a lot about purchasing.  Definitely a positive 2011 experience.

got flowers for Valentines Day.  This might seem like a silly thing to recall as a highlight of 2011 but I was sooo thrilled to have flowers delivered to me at work on Valentine's Day.  I was not expecting it at all and it was extremely sweet.  I also think the part about having it delivered to me made it seem even more special because that takes a bit more effort to organize than just giving someone flowers.

went to King's Island.  I have been wanting to go to King's Island for literally years!!  I'm so pumped that I finally got to go there this year.  Although I went on opening day and probably not with the best person to go with so my experience wasn't absolutely fantastic.  It was exciting to get to go though.  I hope that I can go to a lot of other amusement parks in the future.

went Zip lining.  This was a cool experience.  I've always wondered what it would be like to zip line.  I have to admit it wasn't AS cool as I thought it would be.  It was a fun day and zip lining was pretty cool... but of all of the thrills I've had in my life I don't know if I would necessarily rate this one up very high.  It was still fun.  I think it would be fun to go in a big group.  I would love to go zip lining and white water rafting with Hannah, Steph, and our guys.  I think a big group would be fuuun!!

Hannah and Kyle got engaged!  Now this happened in the very beginning of 2011 and I know that I already wrote a separate blog about this, but I'm really happy for them and I wish them well in the future.

met Cody!!  It's amazing how things work out.  I'm so glad that things turned out the way they did because I was able to be in the right place at the right time to meet Cody.  We've had a great 7-8 months together now and I'm really happy that we met in 2011 :)

Aunt Dar got married!!  I'm so happy for Aunt Dar and my new Uncle Bobby.  They seem so happy together and it's wonderful to see Aunt Dar happy.  Their wedding was very nice, and I feel like I've seen Aunt Dar a lot more now.  I'm really thankful that Aunt Dar was at Christmas this year... every year without her just didn't feel right.

Country Concerts over the summer...  Poor Cody!  We went to a bunch of country concerts over the summer.  And what I've learned from that is... I will never go to another concert at Blossom again!  I just hate concerts there.  They just aren't that fun and you can't really see/hear the performance all that well.  I did get to see my beloved Rascal Flatts in concert though!!  Gosh I don't know HOW many years I've been waiting for that to happen!!  I also got to see Brad Paisley at Jacob's Field.  That was a pretty fun concert too.  My favorite concert that I saw this year was for sure Taylor Swift's.  I can't believe I didn't write a blog about this... (maybe I'll have to!)  Her concert was just excellently performed and it was probably the best concert I've ever seen.

went to New York and met Cody's friends and family.  I've been to New York on a couple of occasions (New York City and Niagara Falls) but I've never been up to up state New York before, and I've never gone home to someones house to meet their family.  This was a unique experience for me and I enjoyed it alot.  I like getting to go to Cody's home town and getting to see how he grew up.

moved into my own apartment...  now this I'm proud of!  I've never had my own apartment before but I really like being able to cook for myself and have my own living area.  I loved being able to decorate my apartment as well.  It is kind of lonely living on my own though.  I kinda like it and I kinda don't sometimes too.

got a new car!!  Ahhh I love my new car.  It's so nice to have something brand new and your own.  I worked really hard to get my car and I'm really proud of it.  I think it's a really pretty car, I love the heated seats, and the great gas mileage I get.  This was definitely a good purchase to make in 2011!

started my last fall semester of college and I got 4 A's and 2 B's!  Dean's List!  Yay!!  I'm glad that I am finishing out my last semesters strong.  I really enjoyed college and I'm extremely pleased that I decided to go into business.  I love learning all about the world and how business works.

Went to the job fair and I got a post graduation job with Swagelok!  This is probably one of my greatest accomplishments of 2011.  I learned about Swagelok a few years ago and I really decided that I would like to work for them this fall.  Swagelok was my top career choice and I feel like a lot of my hard work paid off when I got this position.  I'm officially going to be starting at Swagelok on June 4th! 

went to Vegas... 2010 was the first time that I went to Vegas but this was the first time that I really got to explore and do a lot of things in Vegas.  It was great traveling with someone that I liked and that I got along well with.  Cody and I had a lot of fun in Vegas together.  I can't wait for us to go to more places together in the future.

first Christmas with Cody...  I really enjoyed spending this Christmas with Cody.  We got along well together and I think that we had a really nice Christmas holiday.  We had such a nice long Christmas break together that it really sucks now that we are apart from each other.  I'm really missing him now that I'm back in BG.

first New Year's Eve with a significant other!  I know this is just on the verge of being in 2011 or 2012 but it was really nice to have someone to bring the New Year's in with. Every year I always watch my friends be together and I have never had anyone to be with.  It was really nice to be with Cody this year.

So there is 2011 in a nut shell!  Below is an idea that I saw on a website that talks about every year you should write down the answers to different questions, and then at the end of the next year you can compare how your responses have changed.  Sooo here are my answers to how I felt at the end of 2011.
  1. What do/did you enjoy about school?  I enjoyed getting to finish up my finance classes, and to learn about a lot of different things.
  2. Which is the best vacation you’ve ever had?  This is such a hard question.  I've had a lot of good vacations in the past.  It's sooo hard to pick just one.  I loooved going to Australia.  It was so peaceful and I had so much fun.  I loved it there. Then there is my whole vacation/trip throughout Europe which is irreplaceable to me. I also loved the times when I went to Orlando with my mom and dad.  We had a good time together there.  Anytime I'm in Orlando it's awesome.  I also really liked it when the Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened in Orlando.  And just this year Cody and I went to Vegas which was a great time too.
  3. Who is/was your favorite teacher?  I don't know if I've ever really had a favorite teacher before.  I really appreciate everything that I learned in Dr. Bragg's class this year though.
  4. If you could have any superpower, what would it be?  If I could have a superpower I would like to be able to teleport myself and anything else I wanted with me.  I think that would be the most awesome power ever.  I would be able to just arrive at work, and when I wanted to go on trips I could just go whenever I wanted to.
  5. If your house was on fire and you could grab only 3 things before leaving, what would they be?  I am going to interpret this as my apartment is on fire and I am alone in my apartment.  I would probably grab my favorite blanket, my purse/money, and my ipod.
  6. Where is your most favorite place on this earth?  This is easy!  Orlando Florida is my favorite place in the world!
  7. What is the best present you have ever received?  Well I have received a looot of great presents.  My mom and dad have always given me great presents.  Cody also did really well for me this year.  But I think that my favorite present ever is probably my bike or my ipod.  I love them both very much and use them all of the time.
  8. Why do you like living in this area?  I like living in Bowling Green because I feel safe in BG, and I'm getting a good degree there.  I'm really happy with my thoughts on going to BG. I like my apartment a lot.  It's small but it's great for me.  It's really close to Walmart which is nice, and I have a lot of parking areas there.
  9. Most hated chore on the household chore list? It's really a toss up between the dishes and taking out the garbage.
  10. If you could change the world what would you do?  If I could change the world tomorrow I would probably make it so that all of the people in the world had enough to eat.  Or to get rid of world hunger.
  11. If you could go on a road trip with any person (dead or alive), who would you choose and where would you go?  Hrmmm....  Well I really want to go on a rode trip to see the Grand Canyon, Mount Rushmore, and to go to California.  I want to go to Six Flags Magic Mountain and Disneyland out there.  So I think I would pick Cody to go with me.  He's never been to Disney before and I think it would be fun to go together.
  12. How could I make you happier?  This is a weird question.  But I don't know what would make me more happy.  I'm a pretty happy person.  I guess I would be happier if Cody didn't get super drunk whenever we come to New York. 
  13. What do you usually think about right before falling asleep?  I've had a reoccurring dream since 6th grade that I have just about every night as I'm falling asleep.  I won't describe it because it's kind of silly.
  14. When are you most frustrated?  I'm most frustrated when I'm DDing for people and they get super drunk.
  15. Do you believe in ghosts?  Yes I do.  I always have.
  16. What do you think the greatest invention is in your lifetime and why?  I would have to say computers because it's revolutionized the lives of everyone, and I feel like it is essential in my life.
  17. What do you think the secret to a good life is?  The secret to a good life is to learn to let yourself be happy, and to not worry too much about stupid things.
  18. You wouldn’t be caught dead being seen where?  I wouldn't be caught dead in a "dirty store" like the ones I came across in Amsterdam.
  19. What would be your dream job?  I am pretty excited about the job that I got this year.  I can't wait to start working at Swagelok it was my number job choice and I'm excited that I am going to be working there in the future.
  20. What is your most cherished item?  My most cherished item is probably my blanket that I took with me across Europe.  It's kind of silly but I've grown quite attached to it.  In years past I was on my bike, trampoline, or ipod a lot but recently it's all been about my blanket.
  21. If you could have 3 wishes granted, what would they be?  Ohhh I know exactly what I would wish for!  I would wish to always have the exact change in my pocket for anything that I wanted to buy.  This way I would never run out of money and I would always be able to buy whatever I wanted.  Just think of all the good in the world a person could do with this wish.  Then I would want to be able to teleport... no more driving or flying!  Yippee!, and for my third wish... I don't know what I would wish for.  Probably world peace.  I know so cliche but I think that's what I would wish for.
  22. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live?  I would live in my favorite place ever!  Orlando!
  23. Name three exotic countries you would like to visit?  China, Peru, and somewhere tropical!
  24. What crazy activities do you dream of trying someday?  I could have a whole blog devoted to this!  I have a looot of crazy ideas that I would like to try someday!
  25. If someone was to ask you, “What is your dream in life?” what would you tell them?  To be happy and to be able to continue to travel.