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Archive for "Travel"

Journey to #ZINCON 2018

Posted on August 5, 2018 by under Travel, Zumba.    

Brian got to relish an “I told you so” moment on our way to Orlando. We decided to fly out of Kansas City this year to save money. It’s been a while since we’d done that (the last time was 2011 when we traveled to the East Coast with the Dills). We have a very nice airport in Wichita now and there are usually good flight options (granted, not as many as the Kansas City airport, but it’s better than it has been); however, the flights were super expensive for some reason. I wanted to pay around $330, which is what we have paid to travel to Orlando in the past, but this time the prices were hovering around $400 per person. So Brian and I decided to pull the trigger and fly out of Kansas City instead. Our airfare ended up being about $200 per person but it was a direct flight from Kansas City to Orlando (so we wouldn’t have to mess with connecting) and it’s through Southwest so there aren’t any check-in luggage fees. Plus, since there’s no connection, we would arrive in Orlando around 9:00 am which is plenty of time for my 11:45 am Zumba Wear Insider shopping appointment.

I couldn’t believe that in 2018 we managed to find ourselves driving three hours out for a flight but, once I accepted it, I actually began to look forward to spending the night in Kansas City. I had all of these ideas. We would go out to dinner at one of my favorite places and hang out and have some pre-ZINCON fun before hopping on the plane to Orlando the next day.

Well, the best laid plans are often foiled. Or so is the case in my world. Instead of leaving work at 4:00 pm on Tuesday like I wanted, I ended up leaving closer to 5:00 pm. That meant we didn’t make it to Kansas City until after 8:00 pm. I really should have taken Tuesday off too but I ended up with a few meetings and the day proved to be super busy so by the time I thought to add Tuesday (I had put my ZINCON vacation on the calendar months ago but not Tuesday) it was too late. There were already meetings on the calendar. I probably could have gotten out of them but I hate missing things. I’m the kind of person who answers my desk phone as I’m leaving the office because I can’t leave knowing that I have voicemail that hasn’t been listened to yet. I also always respond to emails — though, sometimes too hastily. Bottom line, it would have been better had I taken Tuesday off (because Brian was smart enough to take that day off) and we could have gone up to Kansas City early in the day and actually done stuff. But I didn’t. I worked the full day instead and so that’s what happened.

We arrived at the hotel too late and didn’t really feel like doing anything. We did get there with enough light to check out how to get to the airport from the hotel. Yes, I know. The Kansas City Airport Marriott is like two minutes from the terminal but we are nerdy and didn’t want to get confused, specially since we will be navigating it in the dark the next day. It was actually really confusing (because there’s all sorts of different parking options and the one that Brian insisted on was the garage parking — the most expensive option obviously, that’s Brian for you) so I’m glad we did a trial run of sorts. It made finding the parking garage easier the next day.

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In the meantime, we hadn’t had dinner yet so we decided to just eat that the restaurant inside the hotel, KC Tap & Table. It wasn’t fabulous but it wasn’t terrible either. The crab cakes didn’t look like much but they were actually pretty good.

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The flat bread pizza was just okay.

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Take the food review with a grain of salt, though. I may be a bit salty over the fact that we could have eaten for free had we arrived just a few minutes earlier. There was free food in the club lounge for elite rewards members until a certain time. When we got there, they had packed everything up except for the dessert.

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All that was left were some fresh fruit and crème brûlée. But it was free so I had some. LOL. However, the sugar got me amped so, instead of going to bed early like we were supposed to, we ended up staying up and catching up on some Netflix.

The next morning, we both got up pretty early but we weren’t in any particular hurry because we were pretty much at the airport already. We were parked and in the door by 4:00 am for our 5:20 am flight. You would think that would be enough time but NOOOO! If you were not checking any bags in, I guess that was fine. The line for the Southwest check in counter was insanely long!

It was almost 5:00 am by the time we got to the counter. And, of course, since it’s less than 45 minutes before our flight, they couldn’t guarantee that our bags would make it. Brian was a little bit freaked out about that, which in turn made me worry as well. And then she tells us to run to our gate.

In our panic, we went the wrong way — in the opposite direction of the TSA Precheck security line. So then we had to start running back the other way because there was no way we were going to quickly make it through the regular security line. I get through security but Brian gets hung up because he’s randomly selected for an additional screening. I’m on one side through security and he’s on the other side. He’s like, “Just run to the gate so you can make out flight. If I don’t make it, I’ll catch the next flight!” This shit just got serious.

Anyway, I make it aboard the plane and I tell the flight attendant that my husband got stuck at security and he’s coming and she’s like, “If he makes it, he makes it. Nothing we can do about it.”

I call Brian in a panic to find out where he is and he tells me that he’s in the jet bridge getting ready to board. Jane is with him too. Whew!

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Oh, yeah. This is Jane, a Zumba instructor (ZIN) based out of Overland Park. That was the silver lining in all of this. We met Jane while waiting in the long check in line and we got to visit with her a bit. She was also going to ZINCON. So at least I made a new friend.

All three of us made it, as did our bags. Here’s a video of us arriving at the airport in Orlando with our fancy, schmancy customized ZINCON suitcases.

BTW, Brian, who likes to be at the airport three hours early, never let me forget that the whole debacle of almost missing our flight was my fault because I hate getting to the airport too early. But we made it so I can’t say I learned my lesson. However, I will be less likely to complain about going to the airport too early next time.

That’s all for now. Check back in a couple of days for a recap of the rest of our ZINCON adventure. GNG!

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Our Final Day in Miami

Posted on May 12, 2018 by under Travel.    

We took advantage of our final day in Miami to do some exploring. And, because I’m always curious about public transportation, we had to check it out. In Miami they have this thing called Metromover and it’s completely free. It reminds me of the KC Streetcar but with a greater reach.

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We got instructions from the concierge on how to use it to get to Bayside Marketplace and so we embarked on our little sightseeing adventure.

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On our way to the Metro station, we walked by Trinity Cathedral, a beautiful church next to our hotel. It is the oldest church in the original city limits of Miami.

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I thought it was a Catholic church at first because of its look and name, but it’s actually Episcopalian. The two are very similar and I didn’t know the difference and so I honestly had to look it up.

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This is the Adrienne Arsht Center Metromover station, which is the closest station to our hotel. I took a picture because I’m use to trains being on street-level or underground. I guess the LRT in Manila is also elevated but I don’t remember ever taking it. This is the first one on an elevated platform that I recall ever taking.

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Brian is very anti public transportation so he was kind of cranky at me for making us take the Metro. As payback, he made us take the steep stairs instead of using the elevator. The stairs reminded me of the stairs at the Downtown YMCA. It was a workout and I remember thinking to myself, no wonder all the people we’ve seen in Miami are fit! You’d have to be in order to use the public transportation.

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This pretty much sums up Brian’s attitude toward taking the Metro. I considered it an adventure that didn’t cost us anything.

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The trolley is another free way to get around. It runs Monday through Saturday from 6:30 AM to 11:00 PM. We didn’t get to check it out though.

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After getting off at the station closest to Bayside Marketplace, it’s still a bit of a hike. Not too far, though. The walk was doable and gave us the opportunity to take some fun photos along the way like this one.

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These next few photos were taken at Bayside Marketplace.

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We walked around a bit before deciding on a place to eat.

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There were lots of options and some with great views.

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There was even a Hard Rock Cafe nearby.

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After walking throughout the place, we settled on Bubba Gump Shrimp Company which was actually the first restaurant we came across before exploring the marketplace. The restaurant, which is now an international franchise, was originally inspired by the movie Forrest Gump.

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Here are some pictures from inside the Bayside Marketplace location.

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Here are some pictures of Brian perusing the menus.

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You use these signs to signal to your server.

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Here are some pictures of our food.

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Leave it to Brian to order a “chicken” sandwich at a seafood place.

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I found something with rice and immediately knew that’s what I wanted.

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We opted to skip dessert at the restaurant so we could get the Belgian chocolate shake at the Haagen-Dazs next door. It proved to be a wise choice because this was the smoothest, most delicious chocolate shake I’d ever had. It kind of made me wish there was a Haagen-Dazs shop nearby.

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Brian gave the chocolate shake his seal of approval.

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We decided to hang around Bayside Marketplace to finish our chocolate shake but then it was time to make our way back to our hotel. The transit system was simple enough to navigate that I managed to talk Brian into taking it again. Plus, it’s kind of tricky to find a good spot for a Lyft or Uber pick up and the Metro is free so it was kind of a no-brainer. Anyway, it allowed us to take in more of the sights like this awesome urban graffiti wall.

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Once we were back at our hotel, we discovered this small shopping center next door which is sandwiched in between our hotel and the DoubleTree.

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There were several restaurants in there so we really didn’t have to venture far for food. I wish we would have known this when we first arrived. Although, we did want to hit South Beach and do some exploring. I think Brian would have been perfectly happy eating in one of the restaurants next door, though.

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Speaking of exploring, I managed to convince Brian to walk down to the marina at sunset to check out some boats.

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As nice as the marina is, it’s actually even more spectacular at sunrise.

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Here’s the view of the port from our hotel room on checkout day. There were more cruise ships docked and ready to take on new passengers on their adventures.

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That pretty much sums up this recap of the 2018 Zumba cruise. Until next year — when we hope to do it all over again. GNG.

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Debarkation Day

Posted on May 11, 2018 by under Travel, Zumba.    

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Alas, all good things must come to an end. We woke up on Friday morning and it was time to get off the ship. We didn’t have to fly home until the next day though, so we were able to take our time and not have to rush to the airport. The only downside is that, even though we weren’t in a hurry, they still kicked us out of our cabins by 8:30 am because they wanted to clean and prep it for the next passengers.

Speaking of our cabin, this is kind of embarrassing, but I didn’t find the hair dryer until the night before. I guess there was a drawer in the makeup vanity but the chair, which we were using to hang my dirty workout clothes, was always there and so I didn’t ever realize that drawer was there. Brian found it while checking all of the storage places when we were packing the night before.

It’s not like I had time to dry my hair, anyway. I barely had enough time to shower before dinner on most nights. LOL.

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I took a picture of our SeaPass cards for the sake of memories. The DX sticker on Brian’s card signifies the deluxe drink package, which meant that he could drink an unlimited number of drinks each day. It’s a privilege that didn’t come cheaply (about $60 a day before the required gratuities). However, if you consider that drinks are about $15 each on average, then it makes sense to get the all-you-can-drink package. To save money, we didn’t get the same drink package for me. I got the next package down which got me unlimited coffee, soda, and smoothies.

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Here’s a photo of me with some new friends we made from the Zumbaholics Facebook group. We were trying to find our designated staging area.

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This is a summary of the artists who performed on the cruise this year. Many of them are unknown to most people who are not in the Zumba community. Heck, I didn’t know about Fuse ODG until this trip!

I heard this song for the first time during the sail away party and I immediately fell in love with it. It’s now my current pre-cooldown song.

Anyway, the debarkation process went pretty smoothly and we were back at the Marriott before long. I think the trickiest part was making sure that our Lyft driver could spot us and could find a reasonably safe spot nearby to load. The Port of Miami is pretty crazy. It’s very busy and, because people load and unload in the middle of the street, traffic barely moves.

I was getting stressed out as the passenger. I couldn’t imagine what it would have been like to drive in that mayhem. I was very grateful that neither Brian nor I had to do it. We were so thankful that the Lyft driver got us out of there and delivered us safely to our hotel that we tipped him $5 for a $7 ride. He earned every bit of that fare and tip, as far as Brian and I were concerned.

Check back tomorrow for how we spent our final day in Miami. Until then, GNG.

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Day 5: Final Full Day on the Cruise

Posted on May 7, 2018 by under Travel, Zumba.    

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Our final full day on the cruise started out really interesting. We met and chatted with the “gringo bass player” for Locos Por Juana, David Pransky, over breakfast. He’s a really interesting fellow. Here it is almost eight in the morning. Brian and I are starting our day and David has yet to go to bed from partying the night before.

We tried not to stay up too late at night. Well, mostly me, because I had early morning Zumba classes almost everyday. Brian could always go back to our cabin after breakfast and take a nap, which he often did.

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Here are some other folks we had the pleasure of meeting and chatting with at breakfast. This is a group of friendly Filipino-Canadians.

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I couldn’t resist taking pics of the Aqua Zumba class down below as I walked by.

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This actually reminds me to start working on my Aqua Zumba routines since my classes will be starting in a few weeks.

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I ran into these guys (Brynden, Laurie, and Todd) while I was observing and taking pictures of the Aqua Zumba. It’s always fun seeing your friends. It’s a great way to start the day. I ended up following them to their Afrobeat Makossa session with Ricardo Marmitte and Alexsa Sissom.

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I only stayed for half of the master class, though, because I didn’t want to be at the end of a very long line to get into Beto’s master class.

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The line wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be and actually got a good spot.

Here are a few short clips from Beto’s class.

This next video is the one where I’m calling out the wrong words.

I was really glad that I waited until the last day to take Beto’s class because almost everyone had taken his class at that point so his class wasn’t as crowded. I managed to find a good spot and was actually able to dance and move around. I will have to remember to register for his very last class again next year.

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After Beto’s class, it was time to hit another Benjamin and Rodrigo session — because I just couldn’t get enough of these two.

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The stage seemed like a good spot for the stickers when they start falling off. I had a lot of classes at Deck 13 – Forward. It was actually my favorite spot for classes, despite the potential for the worst sunburn imaginable. Oh, and Brian’s name is on these stickers but he didn’t actually go to the classes. I signed him up for classes so I could use his stickers and attend twice as many sessions. I did that and then some!

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This is Jose from DC. One of the amazing Zumba Jammers I met on this trip.

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This is Rony, another amazing Zumba Jammer who is based in Orlando. We took this photo at the end of Jhon Gonzalez’ Latin Urban master class. Now, he is my all-time favorite! I’m actually still using two routines I learned from him at ZINCON last year: A Mi Me Pone and Mala Mujer.

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My final class of the trip was Tropical Turn Up with Gina Grant, Dahrio Wonder, Armando Salcedo, and Heidy Torres. It’s a mash up of Heidy and Armando’s Tropical Urban and Gina and Dahrio’s Hip Hop Turn Up. It was super fun and a great way to end a very fun, Zumba-filled cruise vacation.

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On our way to dinner, we ran into Walter Diaz (Wally). He holds a very special place in my heart because his was the very first session I ever took at my very first ZINCON. And, he’s one of the nicest people you will ever meet.

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After our final group dinner, we went to the party at the pool deck and ran into some famous people. This man needs no introduction. LOL.

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It also looks like the Brutez brothers are back in the fold.

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I was also super excited to get a photo with my two favorite ladies, Loretta and Marcie. I first met them in Reggaeton Rebellion years ago and I’ve been a huge fan ever since. I can’t wait to take Reggaeton Rebellion again at this year’s ZINCON.

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No cruise is ever complete without a picture with DJ Gringo.

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We were originally hanging out at our favorite spot up top but it was just way too windy. After waiting for several minutes for people to show up, we finally gave up. Brian stayed up there a while to wait for people though, but he also gave up eventually and went to join us at the main pool deck.

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On our way back to our room later that evening, we decided to take a detour and stopped by the Cosmopolitan. I’m glad we did because Kass Martin was there and Brian finally got his long-awaited photo with Kass.

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I also got in on the photo action. You can never have enough photos with famous people. LOL. Now I have two with Kass!

Anyway, that’s all for now. Check back next time for the saddest day of all when we finally have to get off the floating party and get back to the real world.

Until then, GNG.

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Day 4: Grand Cayman Day

Posted on May 5, 2018 by under Travel, Zumba.    

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Not as many people were up for the early morning classes on the fourth day. I suspect the free all-you-can-drink tequila “tastings” in Costa Maya had a lot to do with it. LOL.

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I took a photo of Richard’s Aqua Zumba class on my way to start my morning with Benjamin, Rodrigo, and Marcie.

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It was the best class ever! I even got to dance on the stage with Marcie!

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Ran into Betsy and Henry as they were headed to their session.

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I had some time after my Zumba class so Brian and I did some exploring while we were waiting for our massage appointment.

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Ran into Erick Santana. He was among those waiting to board a tender to shore.

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This is the Cosmopolitan during the day, when people are off ship.

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Here’s the view of the stage and main pool deck from the Cosmopolitan.

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We found the chapel.

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We decided to play a round of miniature golf while everyone else was off the cruise ship. We had the course (and pretty much the rest of the ship) all to ourselves.

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We decided to do some more exploring after our excursion to the spa and we really did have the ship to ourselves. There really wasn’t a soul in sight.

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It was a beautiful day in Grand Cayman and it made me kind of wish that we didn’t decide to stay on the ship. Brian didn’t want to deal with the whole tendering mess.

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There two other cruise ships anchored in Grand Cayman that day.

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Brian and I found the helipad and took some fun pictures with the nearby cruise ships in the background. The one closest to us is the Carnival Paradise, which happens to be the same cruise ship that we were on during our honeymoon.

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We couldn’t resist taking a selfie with the cruise ship. We couldn’t believe the ship was still in service and sailing the same route considering our honeymoon was almost sixteen years ago.

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Later that day, we ran into DJ Francis while I was waiting for my Aqua Zumba class with Richard Gormley to start.

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Also ran into Lisa Marie.

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After Aqua Zumba class, I had to rush to change to make it to Ricardo and Lindsey’s class. And then after that, I had to rush to change to make it to dinner.

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We went straight to the party after dinner. I think we missed the first act, but we got there in time for Jenn Morel’s performance.

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It was super windy at our favorite spot that evening.

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That pretty much sums up day four. Check back next time for day five of the most amazing cruise ever!

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