How NOT to Blow Your Diet on a Cruise

With the focus I place on the delicious dining options on Carnival Cruise Lines, it’s no wonder that I am often asked how I maintain my weight while cruising. Many of my regular readers might recall that I lost 30+ pounds in 2012, and I am constantly working on either losing regained weight or maintaining my weight once I am successful. With as often as I travel, and my But I’m On Vacation! attitude towards food, it isn’t always easy to make healthy food choices…but it’s not actually difficult either!

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How NOT to Blow Your Diet on a Cruise

Drink Water Instead of Soda

This might seem like common sense, but I think it needs to be said: drink water. You can also save money while cruising by skipping the soda package and drinking the free beverage options:lemonade, tea and water. Those are things that I drink anyway, as I am not a big fan of soda. Just as soda adds empty calories while you are home, it’s especially helpful to skip the soda and drink water while cruising.

There’s also a bonus to choosing water over soda while cruising: you’ll stay hydrated while playing in the pool on the Lido Deck!

Start Your Day with Protein

While Carnival Cruise Lines offers many delicious options in their breakfast buffet (and room service!), make sure that you are eating at least a little protein in the mornings. Scrambled eggs, bacon, Canadian bacon or ham, eggs benedict – whatever fits your diet plan, make sure to start your day with solid proteins so that your body has fuel and you are less tempted to hit the 24 hour soft serve ice cream station…several times.

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Tip: Speaking of ice cream, did you know that Carnival Cruise Lines has a lowfat frozen yogurt option in their ice cream machine? It’s a great way to indulge in a sweet treat without totally blowing your dessert allowance for the day!

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You will also find that the buffet serves yogurt as well as a wide variety of fresh fruit each morning. Take advantage of the low calorie, healthy options and why not grab a banana or apple to go? You’ll have a healthy snack for later on!

The Salad Bar is Your Friend

Carnival Cruise Lines offers everyone’s favorite vacation food in the form of delicious cheeseburgers, pizza and burritos at their specialty restaurants, but there are so many options in the buffet area too! Before heading to the buffet line to pile your plate high with fried chicken, casseroles, comfort food and the like, stop at the salad bar and fill your plate with leafy greens and fresh veggies. There is always a salad bar in the buffet area at lunch and dinner, which makes it easy to balance your meal with a healthy salad and a little indulgent food.

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Hit the Gym at Sea

There is also a pretty fantastic gym on every Carnival ship, so wake up early and get your workout in before the day of fun begins! You can also find a jogging track on most Sun Decks, and while I am not a runner, I love taking morning walks along the track while the sun rises. It’s the perfect way to start my day!

Take The Stairs

Unless we are disembarking on a shore excursion, I always take the stairs when cruising. I am not a gym aficionado, so that is how I get my exercise while cruising! It’s a great – and easy – way to work off the extra calories you are consuming while on vacation!

Another obvious way to get a good workout in while cruising is to do a few laps in the pool. Many spend a lot of time in the pool but don’t think about actually swimming – it’s a great way to get a full body workout while still having a ton of fun. Make sure you get there early if you like to swim alone, as the Lido Deck is usually full on bright and sunny days!

Sample Indulgent Dinner Options in Smaller Portions

Did you know that you can request many of the dinner entrees as a starter in the main dining room on Carnival Cruise Lines? While you are free to order a second main course to sample if you want a little indulgence alongside your healthy dinner option, you can ask for a starter course if the option is designated on the menu. It’s a fun way to try a little bit of something without going overboard at dinner time.

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There are also lighter menu items alongside the more indulgent dishes, I’ve often seen grilled fish and chicken, as well as vegetarian options!

How do you stay on track with your diet plan while on vacation? I would love to hear your tips!

Have The Perfect Family Vacation In Branson

When you Google top family destinations across the country, one of the search suggestions belongs to Branson, MO. That’s because this one of the best cities to have an R&R with the family. The city itself was built for this kind of activity. Every corner is riddled with establishments for relaxation and entertainment. There are lots of wonderful attractions to visit like museums, theatres, theme parks, and many more.

Here are some of the things to see in Branson, MO which are perfect for that family getaway you’ve always been planning.

Silver Dollar City

A family vacation is not complete without a trip to the city’s premier theme park— the Silver Dollar City. It is filled with all sorts of rides that the whole family can enjoy. What’s unique about this amusement park is that it has an 1800’s vibe as seen in its rides. These are perfect for those who seek thrill and adventure.

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Meanwhile, kids can also enjoy their visit at SDC because there are areas intended for them. For instance, there’s a park where kids can play and partake in some activities prepared by staff. Crafts and shows for kids and adults too are always available in SDC.

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Apart from rides and kiddie activities, the family can also take witness shows prepared to its guests. Entertainment is a forte in Branson and Silver Dollar City has prepared shows suitable for the whole family. There are fireworks show, dive-in movies, and entertain cruises. In addition, the family can spend the night in the wilderness of SDC where camp sites are available.

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Table Rock Lake

For a perfect family getaway, include Table Rock Lake in your itinerary. This is the best place to visit if you are looking for an experience close to nature. Created in the 50s, the lake has been a destination among locals. Now, it is also being marketed as one of Branson’s tourist spots.

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The Table Rock Lake is composed of 50,000 acres of crystal clear and serene water. Folks can snorkel or fish on the lake or they can also set a camp site at the lake shore.Boating and fishing are also popular in Table Rock Lake. Visitors can climb aboard Branson Belle a regular showboat in the area. This showboat offers amazing cuisine and entertainment that will surely please everyone.

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Dogwood Canyon

Branded as the ultimate nature park, Dogwood Canyon is one of the premier family tourist destinations in Branson, Mo. Families will surely love the 6 mile hiking and biking trail with a stocked trout fishing stream on the side. It also boasts a wide picnic and camping area for those looking to dine with nature. What’s amazing about the place is that the locals have preserved the area well despite being visited by thousands of tourists annually. It was the place that English settlers used to traverse and the tourism board of Branson has kept its essence for the enjoyment of today’s tourists. The best activity to accomplish here is to ride a horse while traversing through the path made by the English settlers. Visitors can also marvel at the magnificent sights offered by Ozark Mountains while horseback riding. Meanwhile, bike rentals are available to those who wish to explore the place through biking. On the other hand if they wish to explore it by foot, Dogwood Canyon has paths intended for hikers.

These are some of the attractions to include when visiting Branson, MO. There are other destinations for the family to discover as well. What’s great about having a family vacation here is that it can be realized any time of the year as Branson’s family destinations are open all year round.

 

Author Bio: April is an online publisher for The Cabins at GrandMountain in Branson, MO. She often writes about camping, Midwest traveling, and log cabin experiences. 

Photography provided by Mellisa Swigart of MomLuck.com, a fellow blogging friend who often writes about travel on her site! I highly recommend checking her out for firsthand stories of her visits to Branson, like her recent zip line adventure!

A Day of Exploration and Inspiration at Kennedy Space Center

Kennedy Space Center used to be the place to go and spend a day while you waited for a shuttle launch. I remember driving out to Cape Canaveral, on the “Space Coast” as it has proudly been referred to by Floridians, and sitting in traffic for miles. Watching a shuttle launch is one of those things that appeals to everyone, not just “Space Geeks.” No matter what your interests, space exploration appeals to everyone, doesn’t it? When the Space Program closed down, we were afraid of what would happen to Kennedy Space Center. Who would visit a park designed around shuttle launches if there were no more launches?

Well, as it turns out, the people at Kennedy Space Center had a very well thought out plan in place. Kennedy Space Center redesigned the visitor’s center and after spending a day there in February, I almost forgot that it was even missing something…Kennedy Space Center has become a place of history and exploration, education through exciting exhibits and powerful reminders of what Americans can accomplish when we put our minds to it.

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Meet an Astronaut at the Kennedy Space Center Astronaut Encounter

Learn about space travel and exploration from someone who has been in space and experienced it firsthand. While you dine on a delicious buffet lunch, a veteran NASA astronaut relives their journey through space and tells you what it is like to feel the power of g-force and float through the air. You will learn what kind of education is required, how physically fit you have to be and how hard it is and how long it takes to acclimate upon one’s return to earth. There is also the daily Astronaut Encounter, featuring discussions with a veteran astronaut. When I visited, Tom Jones (no, not that one) was in attendance and he couldn’t have been nicer!

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The Space Shuttle Atlantis and Launch Experience 

The Space Shuttle Atlantis and Launch Experience at Kennedy Space Center should not be missed! With simulators, multimedia presentations and dozens of interactive exhibits, the separate building housing Atlantis with the payload doors open and Canadarm extended, details thirty years of fascinating space history.

Just walking through the exhibit was inspiring and I found myself with teary eyes and goosebumps more than once. To be there, so close to the Atlantis and see how ginormous it is – it’s an amazing experience.

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There are two on-site 3D IMAX theaters, each offering unique and unparalleled movie experiences on five story screens with surround sound. The story of the Hubble telescope details the trials and tribulations of building and installing the telescope, while Space Station chronicles life aboard the International Space Station.

Adults and kids alike love the Angry Birds Space Encounter exhibit, which features five unique, interactive exhibits. You don’t even realize that you are learning physics, engineering and math because you’re having so much fun!

There is an on-site cafeteria, which has an extensive variety of burgers, sandwiches and salads. After lunch, continue to the Rocket Garden to view Apollo, Mercury or Gemini or head to the gift shop to purchase exclusive souvenirs.

 

A day at the Kennedy Space Center is enjoyable for the whole family! There is so much to discover and experience you will want to come back for a second day of fun-filled learning.

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Kennedy Space Center Hours and Admission

The Kennedy Space Center is open year round at 9 AM but closing time varies by season.

Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex
March 31 – September 1: 9 am – 7 pm
September 2 – December 31: 9 am – closing time varies

The U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame® 
Now – September 1: Noon – 5 pm
Daily admission tickets are $40.00 and you can buy multi-day tickets for $60.00

You can purchase your tickets ahead of time on KennedySpaceCenter.com.

Tropical Vacations: 10 Steps For An Unexpected Hurricane

You’re so excited to be traveling to a warm coast for vacation! You pack carefully, research restaurants and attractions – you’re ready to go. But, have you thought about what you will do if a storm strikes? No one wants to think about a tropical storm ruining their vacation, but if you are planning to spend time this summer in an area where hurricanes are possible it’s good to be prepared. Here is a list of 10 things you can do to ensure your safe return home.

Storm Coming

1. See how often your destination is hit by tropical storms

When someone says ‘hurricane’ your first thought is probably Florida. You might be surprised to know that, as of 2013, Florida ranked 11th in locations most likely to be affected by tropical storms and hurricanes. The Bahamas, Gulf Coast and even North Carolina are prime targets. Check yearly patterns and seasons so you can pick an area least likely to be hit during your trip.

2. Listen to local news outlets

If a storm is brewing, keep your local news on the tv and a radio close by. Areas that are familiar with these storms will notify you on a regular basis if a hurricane is approaching and offer updates on location, severity and safety measures.

3. Contact your travel company

If you booked your travel through a tour group or travel agency, let them know what is going on. They can offer even more advice on where to go, if evacuation is needed and how to speed up your return home.

4. Have a Plan B for return travel

If a hurricane or tropical storm hits, airports may close or even become damaged, delaying flights. Immediate travel may not be possible by air but, depending on how far you traveled, leaving the area by bus, train or rental car may be possible.

5. Stay inside, away from doors and windows

If you are still at your hotel or vacation rental when the hurricane hits, make sure you are inside until evacuation is possible. As tempting as it is to watch a coastal storm roll in, make sure to stay away from doors and windows at all times.

6. Make a hurricane supply kit

A hurricane often means staying put. Don’t rely on the hotel restaurant or snack shop to remain open. Make sure you are prepared with food, water, and a battery operated light source as early as possible.

7. Know the hurricane procedure for your hotel

Regulations require that hotels have a hurricane procedure in place to protect guests and control chaos. Check your hotel’s website for information or ask at the front desk when you check in so you know ahead of time what is expected: evacuation route, loss of electricity, areas guests are to assemble, etc.

8. Make a physical list of emergency contact numbers

We all have our important phone numbers in our cell phones. But, what happens if you’re without power and lose your charge? Cell phone towers are taken down by high winds? Make sure to write down all of your emergency numbers on a piece of paper so that you have them on hand if you need to use a land line to contact friends and family.

9. Prepack and get all your documents together in case you have to evacuate

Evacuation can happen without notice. At the first mention of an approaching hurricane, prepack your bags and gather your important items such as IDs, passports, credit cards, cash, driving license, contact number list etc. If an evacuation notice is sent out, you’ll be able to grab and go.

10. Follow directions, follow them quickly

The best thing to remember is that the people working around you live in a hurricane region. They’ve done this before and know how to direct you. Follow their lead and do exactly as instructed, without argument and as quick as possible.

Most of all, don’t panic. While some hurricanes have the potential to create damage on land, many will blow over with minimal danger. Keep calm and be prepared.