Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Join Me on an Amazing Reset Retreat

I consider myself very lucky that my job allows me to cross a lot of things off my bucket list as “all in a day’s work.” I’ve never been given the opportunity, though, to take two dreams off at once – until now.

When I was approached by Cierra Savatgy-King, who along with Natalie Jenkins and Crystal Veness founded Reset Retreat, I didn’t have to listen much further than “Belize” and “Yoga” before I said, “I’m in.”

I’d always wanted to go to Belize and I relished an chance to do yoga on a retreat, so this trip seemed ideal to me from the start, but the more I read and the more I talked to the ladies involved, the more I realized this was so much more than yoga on a beautiful beach.

Reset Retreat is about re-charging, re-motivating, re-freshing, and re-inviguorating your life. It’s about bonding like only women can bond, it’s about finding out what you really want to put on your bucket list, and how you are going to adapt your life so that you can do it.

The very first Reset Retreat unfortunately took place without me as I broke my arm a few weeks before it took place (watching people do yoga on a beautiful beach is definitely not on my bucket list). I saw the photographs shown here, watched the videos, and sat back with my cast elevated as high as my jealousy.

All that is in the past because Reset Retreat number two has been organized for November 4-9, 2015. The only big difference in this trip? I’LL BE THERE!!

Due to the overwhelming response by the participants, Cierra, Natalie, and Crystal are not changing much. It will still be at Ambergris Caye in Belize with almost the same exact itinerary:

Accommodations, Meals & Transfers
Beachfront cabanas, three meals a day, a chartered flight and boat transfers from Belize City to San Pedro

Personal Growth
Daily coaching sessions, charitable activity in local community, personal trait exercises

Wellness & Adventure
Therapeutic Massage + 1 spa treatment, full day catamaran adventure, daily group yoga, ladies night out, San Pedro exploration

To celebrate my first Reset Retreat, I’ve convinced the ladies to give a little incentive to my readers – a $350 discount! Simply enter the code RESET350 when you sign up and you’ll be able to join me in Belize on November 4th for a fun-filled week.

Space is extremely limited on this trip so be sure to book your trip right away. Let’s reset our lives together, one spec of sand at a time.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Introduction to Grand Cayman

I was up early for another fun-filled day with MSC Cruises. It was my first time to Grand Cayman, an island I had heard nothing but good things about.

I let Mom sleep in and I had breakfast in the Yacht Club’s Top Sail Lounge. It was an excellent cold buffet filed with fruits, Danish, cake, bread, muffins, cheese, cereal, and yogurt.

I had a little of everything along with a cappuccino, also complimentary to MSC Cruise’s Yacht Club guests.

I had made arrangements with Viator to take a tour so I had a quick breakfast and took one of the first tenders from the MSC Divina to the island. It was warm and sunny as I walked around looking for my guide.
Rex found me at the pier and took me to the bus to cool off and wait for the others on the tour.

Once we were all onboard, he told us about this wealthy island with beautiful beaches and lots to do. As we drove, Rex pointed out some of the interesting places on Grand Cayman and we did make a few stops.

We saw house made completely from conch shells. The second was definitely more exciting, at least to me.

I had no idea Tortuga Rum made so many different products and spirits. I always thought of them as just the bakers of those cakes in the gold hexagon box.

First, it turns out those cakes come in a variety of flavors, including chocolate and lime. It also turns out that Tortuga makes the rum that goes in them in various flavors. I really enjoyed the Pineapple Rum and Coconut Rum best.

The Tortuga Rum Factory also had some native creatures outside in cages to greet us, including some peacocks and an iguana.

We then made a stop on Seven Mile Beach. It’s often been called one of the best beaches in the Caribbean and it certainly looks deserving of that title. It’s also the home of many high end hotels, such as the Ritz Carlton and the Westin Grand Cayman.

Next, we went to the Cayman Island Turtle Farm. It was an interesting place where they were breeding turtles, mostly for food. They did let school children release some turtles each year out into the sea.

After seeing the turtles, babies, large adults, and everything in between, we were back in the bus and heading to Hell.

I know Hell is basically just a tourist destination, but it was quite interesting for a short stop to see the shops and see the black limestone that helped earn this small town its name.

Rex took us back to the pier and I thanked him, agreeing that Viator provides a great tour.

I had hoped to go to Stingray City, but I couldn’t arrange it in time to be back on the ship so I just did a bit of shopping in downtown Georgetown before taking the tender back to the MSC Divina.

On board, Mom and I had probably the best buffet I’ve ever eaten. It included an equal to New York Pizza and a Waldorf Salad.

After lunch we relaxed for a little while and then went to the spa. Mom had a lymphatic massage and I had a Swedish one, which was perfect for my aching back and feet after a few days of lots of walking.

When my massage was finished I toured the spa and it was by far the nicest and largest I’ve ever seen on a ship. Also, all of the therapists had trained in Bali and were very experienced in all techniques. Mom certainly agreed and she made an appointment for another massage two days later while I was booked for the Himalayan Dream.

I took a short nap and then we went to High Tea. The ship had it every afternoon, but this was our first. They had tea sandwiches, pistachio mousse and mascarpone with cherries.

I was a bit disappointed that the tea was bags and not brewed, but it was nice to sit there and sip while we watched the sunset.

We walked outside to the Le Muse Restaurant. The deck was set up for the White Night Party later in the evening.

It was another wonderful dinner at this restaurant only available to MSC Yacht Club guests. I had the French Onion Soup and baby lamb chops, while Mom enjoyed Clams Casino and a filet of sole stuffed and on a cauliflower au gratin. The blueberry cheesecake they had for dessert was amazing.

We listened to the Italian music in the lounge, but I was fading fast. It had been a long day and there was going to be another one just a few hours away as the MSC Divina was heading to Costa Maya.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Falling for Falmouth on MSC Cruises

After a relaxing day at sea on our MSC Cruise, it was time for our first stop in the Caribbean.

It had been about a dozen years since I was in Jamaica. I had previously visited Montego Bay and Ocho Rios, but I had never been to Falmouth. I was excited to discover this city with Falmouth Food Tour Guides.

We were already docked in Jamaica by the time I was up for breakfast outside at 8:00. I was happy the wind wasn’t as bad as the previous day so I could enjoy my yogurt, pancakes, and cappuccino outside at One Pool, which was reserved for the MSC Cruises Yacht Club guests.

Mom had decided to stay on the boat and I bid her farewell and headed off the boat.

The Port of Falmouth was beautiful and new, with lots of souvenir and jewelry shops. I browsed for a bit and then met up with the Falmouth Food Tour Guides at the information booth.

We had about a dozen people in our group with two guides, so it was easy to stay together and be able to have all our questions answered.

It was a walking tour that was as much about history as it was food. It was also not about seeing just the bright shiny port, it was about Jamaican life.

As we walked to the other side of the port, the guides told us about how Columbus had brought the slaves to Jamaica to work the sugar cane that could be brought back to Europe, along with the rum made from it.

We then made our first stop, at a market on the pier for some sweet and delicious papaya, pineapple, watermelon, and sugar cane. It was getting hotter by the moment and this was certainly refreshing.

The Falmouth Food Tour Guides led us out of the port area and to the residential area of Falmouth. The streets were busy, but we felt very safe.

Our first stop in the town was at the Wan Mei Market where we talked about all the vegetables that are popular here, including breadfruit and many types of potatoes.

From there’re we went to Officers Lane to taste some roasted breadfruit, which was tender and tasty, along with yams and salted mackerel fish. I can’t eat fish, but everyone in the group enjoyed it, saying it was salty and spicy.

It was just a few stalls over to the coconut water and slices of coconut, which we were told would be great to keep up our hydration in the heat.

We continued through the town, learning more about the history at the Courthouse and at Water Square before stopping at Spicy Nice Bakery for the best Jamaican Meat Patty I’ve ever had.

They took us to a church where William Knibb, whose tomb is dedicated at this spot, gave a speech to 600 slaves the night before they were freed and allowed them to bury their shackles here.

It was a few blocks walk to Peppers Jerk Centre, where plates were given to us with Jerk Chicken, corn fritters, and vegetables. The chicken was tender and although the sauce on the side was too strong for most, we ate the rest.

Our last stop was at a 19th century home owned by a woman from San Francisco who had married a Reggae singer and moved to the island. She helps out with tourism and has a cat shelter.

Anne brought us some coconut pastries before we headed back to the pier at the conclusion of the fun and educational tour.

I went back aboard the MSC Divina and enjoyed some quiet time at the One Pool. Although there was still plenty of pool space in the other areas, I really liked this area – and the complimentary drinks to Yacht Club guests certainly helped!

I went back to our Yacht Club suite to change for dinner. Mom and I stopped in the Top Sail lounge for cocktails and appetizers – another benefit in this area of the ship – before heading to Le Muse for dinner.

It was actually a perfect menu for Mom, but I didn’t go away hungry. She started with an excellent chopped crab and mackerel with anchovy sauce.

I had Pasta Fagioli Soup and a Pasta Pomodoro for dinner. We both loved the unique bread offerings at Le Muse, which this day included fennel bread sticks and sundried tomato rolls.

I continued the true Italian meal with cannoli for dessert. Despite the sugar, I was exhausted from all the sun and walking. I anticipated another full day and decided to head to MSC Divina cabin at 9:00, while Mom went to the Italian Show. I was asleep when she returned, ready for a full day to come in Grand Cayman.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Life Onboard MSC Divina and the Yacht Club

I woke up at 6:30 in time to see the sunrise coming through the Atlantic Ocean. It was a good night’s sleep. The gentle rocking of the MSCDivina definitely agreed with me and I was ready for the day at sea.

After a short workout, I ate some of the fruit left in our suite and waiting for Mom to get up for a full breakfast while I explored the Yacht Club section we were staying in, accurately called a “ship within a ship.”

There was a lounge area in front of the spa entrance which served very interesting teas, all of which had a specific purpose for your body.

The yoga studio had wall to ceiling views of the ocean. I could definitely get into the relaxing mode there.

The Aqua Park is an area with a retractable roof so the pool and whirlpools are available in all weather. This area is also especially popular with families as it’s fairly condensed.

The main pool deck was also surrounded by whirlpools and had both shaded and sun-filled areas on two decks. There was also a bar in the corner.

Also in front of the pool was a large movie screen. During the day it had mostly music videos, but at night there were movies under the stars.

It was rather windy so the top floor with the Yacht Club’s One Pool, bar, and breakfast, was closed so we went to Le Muse for a sit-down breakfast on the MSC Divina

Mom had the Eggs Benedict and I had an omelet with cheese, spinach, mushroom and tomatoes. We both had the pan au chocolat (chocolate croissant).

While Mom enjoyed an art history lesson in the Jazz Lounge, I met with the excursions manager and Yacht Club manager Rendy to discuss the islands we would be visiting.

I stopped by the cocktail party for those of us in the MSC YachtClub. The captain was there welcoming us aboard and they were serving some very unusual cocktails. 

I had the Jello Shot Martini, which was a combination of Jello squares, each containing a cocktail: Pina Colada, Manhattan, Martini, and Mojito.

Mom and I met up and went to a Wine Blending Class. It was a lot of fun as we learned about different types of red wine from various regions, then were able to blend our on wine with four unique ones.

The bottles we created were later delivered to us in our cabin, with our names on it. It was an interesting and unusual way to spend time aboard MSC Cruises and I definitely recommend it.

We were back in Le Muse, the restaurant for Yacht Club guests, for lunch.

Mom loved the Pina Colada Soup and the Vegetable Fajita. I agreed about the soup, but wasn’t too crazy about the fajita. 

I did have some wonderful fried cheese and we both had our mouths’ watering over the chocolate gelato for dessert.

While Mom rested in the room, I headed to the main pool. It was nice to have some time to lounge on the pool deck and read. I also relaxed in the whirlpool a bit before heading to the room to shower.

It was our first Formal Night and we got dressed up for the occasion and headed to dinner at Le Muse, the restaurant only for Yacht Clubguests.

They greeted us again with Prosecco and one of my favorite wines, Brancott Sauvignon Blanc. There was also another unique bread selection. This night it was a Cheese Focaccia and it was delicious.

I started with the Asparagus Soup and Mom went for the Shrimp Cocktail. We both had the Spinach Cheese Ravioli, but Mom’s was topped with lobster medallions.

Mom had the crepes Suzette for dessert and I splurged on a brownie with ice cream.

After we left the restaurant we went to the lounge and listened to music. We met a nice couple from Scotland. I learned that MSCCruises, which have many more itineraries in Europe, were definitely filled with a nice mix of people from around the world.

The show was as good as a Broadway production. We were really impressed. When it was over, we headed back to the room to get ready for the first port stop – Falmouth, Jamaica.