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For our honeymoon my wife and I took a seven day cruise aboard the Carnival Sensation. This was our first cruise. Our second port of call was San Juan, Puerto Rico.
For an excursion, we chose a city tour. The city tour was basically the bus driving us around the city, and the driver pointing out houses of different styles, and mentioning who lived where. It was pretty boring actually.
Following the city tour, we were dropped off back in Old San Juan. Helen and I walked up the road to a castle. Looking at a map now, I think it was San Cristobal Castle. We toured the castle exploring many nooks and crannies. Helen took a great picture of me standing next to a cannon that was pointing at the bow of our cruise ship.
Following the castle, we wandered back down the steep narrow street exploring the small shops of Old San Juan. Many of the shops were selling jewelry, and others were selling liquor especially rums. We bought a couple loose amethysts which I later had mounted as earrings for Helen. Old San Juan was very cool. I wish we had had more time to spend there.
The next time we visit San Juan, I want to spend more time in Old San Juan exploring the little shops. I also want to visit the castle again. I believe there was also a rum factory tour. I think I would like to do that also.

Q: How to get an upgrade on Carnival cruise?

A: A question that is often asked is how to get an upgrade on a cruise. What I have been told previously by a travel agent, was to book early. The reason I was given was that the cheaper cabins sell more easily. So the people who book early are upgraded to better cabins, to free up the less expensive cabins that are easier to sell.
I emailed Carnival Cruise Lines and asked them the same question. They emailed me back “Please be advised that upgrades depend on the sailing and we recommend that booking early is the best way to obtain the best rate/upgrade available.”
Also, when you book, book the lowest category that you will accept with a Category Guarantee. A Category Guarantee means you are guarenteed that category or better. Since they usually sell more Category Guarantees for a category than there are cabins in that category, some people are going to get an upgrade. These upgrades are first come, first serve. Another reason to book early. We have always booked Category Guarantee, and we have always been upgraded at least one category, but usually two. Our early itineraries were marked TBA (To Be Announced) for the cabin number, since it wasn’t assigned yet. It wasn’t until we got our tickets shortly before the cruise date that we actually find out what our cabin is, and how much we have been upgraded. This last cruise we had an outside cabin with french doors, but an obstructed view. We had a lifeboat blocking our view. We could still open the door for fresh air, and could see some ocean. But then again, we don’t tend to spend a lot of time in the cabin anyway.
I have heard rumors that past guests are likely to get better upgrades. I don’t know if there is any truth to that. But as a past cruiser with 4 Carnival cruises under my belt, I would like to think it is true.
Another way to get upgrades is to watch for specials. I have seen many specials advertised by travel agencys, and even Carnival themselves, that if you book during special sale events, that you can get a free 2 category upgrade. Generally when I have booked early, I have been upgraded 2 categories. So I don’t know if I got the 2 category upgrade during the special, whether I would be upgraded further for booking early.

These strategies may work with other cruise lines (Royal Caribbean, Holland America, Princess, etc) as well.

Well, that’s as much as I know on how to get an upgrade on a Carnival cruise.

My wife and I really enjoy factory tours. Here are some of the factory tours we have done.

Vermont Teddy Bear Factory Tour: (located in Vergennes, VT) It’s been a while since we toured the Vermont Teddy Bear factory. The tour guide rattled off bad puns (bear feet, bear chested, etc, etc), and seemed to be enjoying himself, and the rest of us enjoyed ourselves along with him. His patter was well memorized so I am sure he had done it many many times. He knew the puns were bad. But he was still enjoying himself! That made it fun! We saw many people, mostly women, working at sewing machines making bears. We saw the bear hospital where they repair damaged bears that are sent in. They also had a little store where you could bear Vermont Teddy Bears. This is probably my favorite factory tour!

Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory Tour: Near the Vermont Teddy Bear Factory is the Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream factory. The tour guides seemed bored, and my wife and I were bored along with them. They gaves us a small sample of a single flavor at the end, and that was it. This was one of my least favorite factory tours. Surprising. I would have thought the Ben & Jerry’s tour would have been much more fun.

Jelly Belly Factory Tour: (located in Fairfield, CA) We did this factory tour while on a trip to California. We saw machines processing the Jelly Bellys at each step. Big giant machines spitting out millions of Jelly Bellies. The tour guides seemed very good. At the end, we visited the store. Bought bought a bunch of bags of Belly Flops which are rejected Jelly Bellys. They were a real bargain! We gave some out as gifts, and ate the rest! Yum!

Louisville Slugger Factory Tour & Museum: (Located in Louisville, KY) The first thing you see here is a giant Louisville Slugger baseball bat outside the building. For the tour, they took us through the plant where we saw automated lathes turning out Louisville Slugger baseball bats. We also saw the other stages that the bats go through. There were other areas where custom baseball bats were being made for Major League Baseball stars.
The Louisville Slugger Factory also had a museum with a ton of stuff.

Maple Syrup Factory Tour: During a drive through Vermont, we saw a sign for a tour of a maple syrup factory, so we stopped. It looked the mostly made maple syrup candy. I don’t even know the name of the place, but there seem to be a bunch of places along the highway we were on. Since this was pre season they were really set up for the tour, but the lady took us around anyway. It was interesting. Nothing fancy, but then we weren’t expecting a lot either.

New Energy Works Factory Tour (Timberframe houses): (Located in Farmington, NY) This factory tour is geared more for people interested in having a timberframe house built. We own a post-and-beam house, and were interested in the process of building a timberframe house. The tour was very informal. We were shown the computer controlled milling machines cutting the frame pieces. We also saw craftsmen making tweaks to the pieces by hand. They also test fit all of the pieces. Next door is Pioneer Millworks, their sister company that reclaims old wood.

Books about factory tours:
Watch It Made in the U.S.A: A Visitor’s Guide to the Companies That Make Your Favorite Products by Karen Axelrod and Bruce Brumberg

Pennsylvania Snacks: A Guide to Food Factory Tours by Sharon Hernes Silverman

Carnival Sea Miles Credit Card came in the mail the other day, and I activated it. Yesterday, I started the process of tranferring my balance from my AAdvantage credit card to my Carnival Sea Miles Credit Card. It said it might take a few days. I haven’t checked back yet. I will get Carnival Sea Miles for my transferred balanace. My balance is a little higher than I would like. I will get it paid off quickly. At least I will get the Carnival Sea Miles! I have to start figureing out the automated stuff that points to my old credit credit, and get it transferred over. I know our ADT alarm service automatically bills my old credit card. So I can transfer that over and get Carnival Sea Miles for those payments. I’ll just stop using the other card, and see what charges continue showing up, and then transfer those too.
I really like the look of my new Carnival Sea Miles card as well. My AAdvantage card was a boring gold. My Carnival Sea Miles credit card has a Carnival cruise ship on the front! Way cool! Not sure if is a photgraph, or a detailed painting. There is no name of the front of the cruise ship though, so I am not sure which one it is. I could probably study photos of various Carnival cruise ships and maybe narrow it down. It is not really important though. The Carnival Sea Miles will be or more use than the American Airlines miles though!

I am currently listening to an audio book titled Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell. It is a weird book. It is kind of a travel book, kind of a history book, and kind of a political commentary book. The author Sarah Vowell is really into political intrigue, and especially political murders. She travels around visiting sites where people were assassinated. It is very strange, but it is kind of interesting. She has a twisted sense of humor that I like. She has a nice voice and reads the audio book herself. She also looks really cute in the picture on the cover. Sarah Vowell has also written some other books such as Radio On: A Listener’s Diary, Take the Cannoli: Stories from the New World, and The Partly Cloudy Patriot. I haven’t read any of these.
Sarah Vowell apparently also did the voice for the teenage daughter Violet Parr in the animated movie The Incredibles.
Anyway, the book is kind of a travel book, so I am reading it. As I said it is interesting. I think this book would appeal to the kind of people that like to visit historic cemeteries on thier vacations.

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