Booking Your First Cruise – Top Tips and Hints

Booking Your First Cruise – Top Tips and Hints

Here’s our best hints and tips to help you book your first cruise.

Whether you are booking Royal Caribbean, Carnival, or Disney, we will cover all the don’t miss points for booking you cruise.  Should you use a travel agent or book yourself?  How do you select a travel agent?  We will talk about all the items that have to come together to make your cruise vacation a low stress success.

• Booking yourself or with a Travel Agent

• Transportation to your departure port city and our #1 tip!

• Transportation from your hotel to the cruise port

• Travel Insurance tips

Here’s a few links we mentioned to travel insurance sites:

Friends, we hope this series has been very helpful with booking your first cruise and has helped take some of the stress off what should and will be an amazing fun vacation!

Live life fully in phase 2!

Mike and Nancy

Selecting and Budgeting for your First Cruise

Selecting and Budgeting for your First Cruise

Hi Friends.  In this video we are covering selecting your first cruise as well as budgeting for your cruise.  This is Cruising 102, the second in our series of classes to help you get the most out of your cruise vacation.  We hope to help you learn the basics about cruising.

Today we will cover all the things to think about when selecting your fist cruise.  We will cover setting your budget and all the items that go into budgeting for a cruise.  We also hope to dispel some of the internet and social media myths related to cruising and take the stress out of booking your cruise.

Thank you so much for watching and enjoy living in Phase 2.

Make it a great day!

Mike and Nancy

Healthy Cruise Eating and Lifestyle

Healthy Cruise Eating and Lifestyle

Hi Friends,

It’s a New Year with that comes a new resolutions, including being more healthy while cruising.

Here we pass on our best tips related to being more healthy when on vacation, especially on a cruise.  Just click on the video above to be inspired to live a more healthy lifestyle.

We will cover our top 3 tips to help you cruise more healthy while still having a great time!

One items we cover was when you need special needs on your cruise. Here’s a link to Royal Caribbean’s special needs form.

We want to remain in Phase 2 as long as possible before moving into Phase 3 – when our health declines.  

Lets live healthy Friends,

Mike and Nancy

What’s Coming Up in 2023

What’s Coming Up in 2023


As you all know, a new year is a time for us to review our goals and plans.  And for us, 2023 is going to be a full year.  I thought I’d share with you what we have coming up.  

  • 3 Cruises are Scheduled, one in January, July and December
  • Grandbaby #3 coming in March
  • Grandbaby #4 coming in April
  • Gaining a daughter-in-law, wedding in July
  • Currently planning to judge 8 barbeque contests
  • Sharing our story with our franchise we own coming to YouTube and this website in February and March
  • Eat clean with limited processed foods and sugar
  • Move my body 5 times a week
  • Meal plan weekly
  • Cut back my days at our business to 3 days a week
  • Care for my mom 3 days a week
  • YouTube videos and blog posts a minimum of 1/week

Suffice it to say, it is a busy schedule.  I’m a pencil and paper girl and Mike likes his schedule and planning online.  Regardless of how you do your planning, it is best to have it written somewhere where it can be reviewed and revised.  

I am using 2 planners.  They are very different.  The first is the Homemaker’s Friend by Sue Hooley and it is a daily planner.  This is my 5th year to use her planner and I love it.  You can find it in our Amazon store here.  I’ve also linked the Zebra pens I use there as well.

Commit 30 daily planner

The second planner I’m using is Commit 30.  It is a daily/hourly planner that focuses on reaching your goals through 30 day increments.  This can be found on the Commit 30 website.

This is my first year to use the Commit 30 planner, so I’ll let you know how it goes in the future.

My biggest goal this year is to remain healthy through clean eating and moving my body.  I sometimes feel as if I’m slowing down and I want to stay in Phase 2 for many years to come.  I want to live life to the fullest and enjoy each and every day God gives me. 

As a reminder, Phase 2 in our life is when we are becoming empty nesters and around retirement time.  Phase 3 in our life is when our health declines.

Please feel free to share your plans and goals for 2023 in the comments below.  Also, if you haven’t yet, consider subscribing to our YouTube channel.  We are trying to continue growing with it.  Thank you.

Make it a great Living Phase 2 day friends,



Nassau Bahamas Food and Cultural Tour

Nassau Bahamas Food and Cultural Tour

Today we are in Nassau, The Bahamas.

This is a port that often gets a bit of a bad rap. Most people look at it as just having some shopping, Atlantis resort waterpark, and some beaches, but not much more. Also, being such a close port to the East Coast, many cruisers stop there quite often and frankly don’t see much to do there.

However, we found a GREAT tour that explores the culture of the Bahamian through food, while walking around the wonderfully historic city of Nassau. We had an excellent tour guide LISA!!!!!!. She made the tour fun and well as educational.

We hope you enjoy this overview of our tour and that it encourages you to try this excellent tour.

Link to Viator Nassau Food Tasting and Cultural Walking Tour…

TRU Bahamian Food Tours:

Thanks for watching Friends.  Have a beautiful Phase 2 day.

Mike and Nancy


Royal Caribbean Question and Answer

Royal Caribbean Question and Answer

Today we are aboard Royal Caribbean’s Wonder of the Seas attending the Royal Caribbean Leadership Coffee Talk Question & Answer Session with CEO Michael Bayley.  This was a great session and the leadership team was open, candid, funny, entertaining, and quite informative.  It was good to hear all about Royal Caribbean post COVID and the pause.  Royal Caribbean has a lot of great plans for their future, some they could share, other not so much, like the plans for their next private island!

We hope you enjoy this glimpse into Royal Caribbean’s plans and leadership.

Live life to the fullest Friends,

Mike and Nancy

Royal Caribbean Ultimate World Cruise Q & A

Royal Caribbean Ultimate World Cruise Q & A

Today we have the full Royal Caribbean Ultimate World Cruise Q&A session from Royal Caribbean’s Wonder of the Seas.

We recorded the entire session so those that were not in attendance could listen to all the great information presented.

There was so much valuable information and we want to thank Michael Bayley and all the Royal Caribbean staff for their hard work putting together this amazing adventure.

Live your Phase 2 life to the fullest friends.  

Make it a great day,

Mike and Nancy

Port Canaveral Cruise Bording Hints and Tips

Port Canaveral Cruise Bording Hints and Tips

Make boarding your cruise ship in Port Canaveral effortless and stress free.  Today, we walk you through our boarding procedure and show the first things to do when you get on your ship. 

Don’t let this small portion of your vacation cause you any anxiety.  We want you to enjoy every step of the cruising process.  Afterall, your cruise is a vacation of a lifetime. 

Make it a great day Friends and live life to the fullest in Phase 2.

Mike and Nancy

What to Know Before Your First Cruise

What to Know Before Your First Cruise

Welcome to cruising 101 our class to help you know the basics about cruising.

There is a lot of miss information on cruising basics.  What food is included, what entertainment, what is there to do?  We will walk through everything a new cruiser needs to know.  Our hope is to dispel some of the internet and social media myths related to cruising and take the stress out of booking your cruise.

Enjoy Friends and live a full Phase 2 Life.

Mike and Nancy

Cruise Ship Comparison

Cruise Ship Comparison

We’re doing a cruise ship comparison today Friends.

We compare our cruise on Royal Caribbean’s newest and largest cruise ships, Odyssey of the Seas and Symphony of the Seas to a trip on their smallest and oldest ship, the Grandeur of the Seas.

How was our cruise on the newest mega ships? How can an older ship like Grandeur, known as the Lady G, compare? Did we have a good time? How were the cabins on the newest ships compared to the older ship? Did being the largest ship vs. the smallest ship make a huge difference? Today we give our hints and thoughts on these very different cruise experiences.

In the video we referenced some of our other videos here are links to those for your viewing pleasure:

Odyssey Reviews: Odyssey Review Part 1:

Odyssey Review Part 2:

Odyssey Review Part 3:

Grandeur Review Videos. Grandeur Day 1 Boarding:

Grandeur Day 2 Sea Day 1:

Grandeur Day 3 Costa Maya:

Grandeur Day 4 Cozumel:

Grandeur Day 5 Sea Day 2:

Grandeur Day 6 Debarkation: 

Thank you Friends for watching. 

Live your best phase 2 life,

Mike and Nancy

Ultra Luxury Cruise, Not What You Think

Ultra Luxury Cruise, Not What You Think

Hi Friends, today we take a very unusual luxury cruise. We cruise the great lakes and experience the ultimate in luxury cursing….or did we??? From the arrival at the port to disembarkation this is unlike any cruise you’ve ever taken. Follow along with us on this very “special” cruise. Be sure to stay to the end for a real surprise and some great information.

Live a full life Friends.


Mike and Nancy

Visiting Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula

Visiting Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula

Today we continue our upper Michigan travels by visiting the Keweenaw Peninsula. In our opinion, this is one of the world’s most beautiful places.  It is a very sparsely populated, get away from it all place is a true bucket list destination.  The Keweenaw Peninsula is full of amazing natural beauty, with lakes, vistas, trails and of course waterfalls.

We will show you the RV park and cabins where we stayed as well as our hiking, ATV riding and touring adventures.  A trip here wouldn’t be complete without a visit the world famous Jampot for some amazing treats!

We hope these videos are helpful and inspire you to make your own visit to this piece of paradise.

Have a beautiful and full Living Phase 2 day friends,

Mike and Nancy



Hi Friends,

During a recent visit to our daughter in TX we drove from Dallas to Galveston to catch our cruise on Grandeur of the Seas.  On the way we stopped at a Texas icon Buc-ees!   Yes, it’s a convenience store, but it’s NOT just a convenience store.  It’s the world largest convenience store.  We had to stop and check out this Texas landmark.  

Upon entering this 60000 square foot mecca you will find everything you could possibly need to make your cross country trip enjoyable.

First you will find the cleanest bathrooms in the world!   They pride themselves on having large clean restrooms. Yes, it is pride for them.  🙂

They have fresh BBQ brisket sliced and chopped for breakfast tacos and burritos, and at lunch try a brisket sandwiche, chopped or sliced.

Since we were traveling both in the morning as well as the afternoon we got to experience both breakfast and lunch at Buc-ees.   I had the breakfast brisket taco, it was very good.  For lunch we tried the smoked sausage on the stick and the brisket sandwich.  It was all delicious.  In fact, it was too much to eat!

One thing to note about Buc-ees is they carry their own brand products.  So don’t expect to see name brands, just Buc-ee the Bever brand products.  Fortunately they all seem to be very good.

 Other things we picked up were some everything bagel flavored cashews.

We also tried the Beaver Nuggets.  These are kind of a cheese puff or a corn puff but covered in a sweet coating.  If you have ever had Chicago mix flavored popcorn salty and sweet, it’s a bit like that.  We had to get the white cheddar beaver nuggets as well as the original.  Both were very good, but the original was just down right evil.  YUM!

If you like soda (or pop in Michigan) they even have their own brands and flavors. 

For coffee they have a TON of creamer flavors, including many that are sugar free.

Don’t miss the jerky counter, it’s the biggest I’ve ever seen!   About every flavor you can imagine.    At the jerky counter you can also pick up bakery products, and order custom burritos and tacos.

 Other items not to forget are the fresh roasted nuts and the cups of cookie dough!

Beyond all the snacks and drinks they have a whole shopping area that is like a Cracker Barrel on steroids.

All in all, it is a must stop if you are driving and see one just off the exit of your freeway.

Have a beautiful Living Phase 2 day friends,

Mike and Nancy

Royal Caribbean Icon of the Seas

Royal Caribbean Icon of the Seas

Hi Living Phase 2 Friends,

Royal Caribbean released the most information to date on their newest ship Icon of the Seas and we couldn’t be more excited.

We decided to watch it with you so you could see our reactions and comments to this latest marvel by Royal Caribbean.

Hope you enjoy this.

To see this video, without our commentary go to Royal Caribbean’s YouTube page here:

Have a beautiful Phase 2 day everyone,

Mike and Nancy

The Amazing Central Upper Peninsula of Michigan – What to See

The Amazing Central Upper Peninsula of Michigan – What to See

Hi Friends,

We are ½ way across the Upper Peninsula of Michigan in the Munising area.

We’ll show you the Amazing Tahquamenon Falls, White Fish Point, The history of the wreck of the Edmond Fitzgerald, Pictured Rock National Lake shore (By land and Lake), and we’ll do some ATV riding.

This is truly a bucket list place to visit, and we hope our tips, tricks and suggestions help you in planning your trip to one of the most beautiful, unspoiled, and breathtaking places on earth.

Enjoy and live a fulfilled life,

Mike and Nancy

Traveling to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and Sault Ste. Marie

Traveling to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and Sault Ste. Marie

Hi Friends.  Today we are traveling from our home to one of our favorite destinations in the world, Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, or as it’s called the “UP” and our first stop, Sault Ste. Marie.

It’s a beautiful drive across the Mighty Mackinac Bridge and we even stop for dog at the famous Wienerlicious hot dog stand in Mackinaw City. Yes, it’s spelled differently, but pronounced the same.

We will share some tips and tricks on the drive to the UP and show you some of the charming town that is Sault Ste. Marie.

Join us on our first leg of our trip across the unbelievable beauty that is Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Live life fully in phase 2,

Mike and Nancy

Hiking and Excursion Tips and Tricks

Hiking and Excursion Tips and Tricks

Today we cover one of our favorite activities in Phase 2, hiking!  We love going for a walk in the woods and getting close to nature.  However, there are a few hints and tips we can pass along that will help your adventures go smoothly, be safe and be even more enjoyable.  Take a walk with us today. 

One thing that living in phase 2 has afforded us is more time for leisure activities and we LOVE the outdoors.  For us that means hiking.  We get to see so many places that can only be accessed by hiking and we have found that being prepared makes it so much more enjoyable.  Hiking is a great form of exercise in phase 2 of life.  It incorporates cardio and even a bit of strength.

 After many years as a scout master and hiking and backpacking for hundreds of miles I, Mike, have learned a few things over those miles and we’d like to pass them along today.  Also, note that many of these hints are NOT just when you are hiking in the woods, but are also applicable when you are on a long day touring a city or new area.  When you are prepared for any long time on your feet walking, it can make for a much more enjoyable day.

Have the Basics

First, let’s make sure you have the basics when you are out on a hike and that means you need to be able to carry some supplies and a good backpack is invaluable.   Look for a backpack with comfortable, padded shoulder straps, not just strings. Don’t get one too big.  Just big enough to charry what you need.  Having a waist strap is also a big help.  That positions the weight of the backpack lower on your waist vs. your shoulders which can make a huge difference on long hikes when you have to carry more with you.

So you have the pack, what you do you take with you.

 #1, first and foremost always bring water!  Hydrate or die!  That is not an exaggeration.  When travelling you may not realize the lack of water or length of a hike.  This goes not just for hiking, but also when traveling, walking around cities, or on excursions.  Bring more than you think.  We were on a recent hike we thought should have been about 8 miles and it ended up being almost 13!   That’s a huge difference and thank goodness we brought plenty of water.  

Another reason to say hydrated is you will feel better at the end of the hike.  By saying hydrated your muscles will feel better overall, post long day out.  Preventing fatigue and headaches.

A general rule of thumb is you need about 32 oz. / ½ liter of water per hour when doing moderate activity.  In the US Desert Southwest or areas at higher elevations or low humidity you are going to use a lot more water and won’t even realize it.  So, plan accordingly. You can carry your water in bottles either disposable or reusable or as a hydration pack, if your pack is made for that.  One item to note with hydro-packs is be sure to keep them clean as the hoses can be a little difficult, so don’t ever put anything in them but fresh water.

Finally don’t drink water from a source if you’re not sure of it’s safety.  If you are in a city touring, especially a foreign area, stick with SEALED bottled water or as a last resort soda.  They will be safe.

 So you have the pack and the water, what else do you need in that pack?

  • Water
  • Snacks – something that won’t spoil. Enough for your expected day.  High protein snacks like nuts or meat sticks are a good choice
  • Small first aid kit
    • As for the first aid kit, just keep it simple with some bandages for small scrapes, wipes to clean the area and tweezers
    • Band-Aids
    • Tweezers (for thorns)
    • Ibuprofen (we aren’t that young anymore)
    • Tylenol
  • Small knife
  • Mole skin
    • – This is really on of the most important, as nothing is worse than a blister, that can make your fun adventure miserable.
    • For the moles skin I use precut mole skin forms from a multipack.  I use the preformed ones since it is so difficult to cut moleskin and these are very quick and easy to use.
  •  Sunscreen
      • Skin cancer is no joke and the best prevention, after clothing your best protection is a good sunscreen. 
      • Nancy and I have our preferences when it comes to sun screen. Nancy is a sprayer and Mike is on team lotion.  With my light complexion I want all the protection I get and lotions vs. sprays.  I believe they give a better coverage and last longer, especially when in and out of the water.
      • Sprays are easier but you need to make sure to get good coverage. Don’t spray the face, as you can get it in your eyes, use a lotion there.  When spraying spray until your skin glistens and then even if it says “no rub” rub it in anyway for the best protection. 
      • One of the best and most affordable out there are the Walmart Equate products. Their Equate Ulta Lotion or sprays SPF 50 are great price and rated top performer. 
  • Bug Spray
  • Walking sticks
  • Your cell phone
  • A cat kit – explained in a bit.

 Let’s talk clothes for the day out.

 Your first line of defense from the sun and insects is your clothing.  Always wear a hat.  This is some of the best protection against both ticks and the sun.  Your attire should include good walking/hiking shoes appropriate to the terrain, with good socks.  Long pants and long sleave shirt may also be appropriate, especially depending on where you are going.  You may be thinking that will be hot and uncomfortable, but there are some great breathable products out there that protect from the sun and insects and keep you cooler by keeping the sun off your skin.  Of course, you always want to dress for your adventure, and these are just guidelines and something to think about.

Let’s talk about Bugs for a minute. 

It is critical that you protect yourself from various insect bites.  These can not only be a nuisance but can carry diseases such as West Nile Virus, Lyme’s Disease, and malaria. 

 In addition to your clothing, you need a good insect repellent.  When it comes to bug spray. There are a ton of them out there, none still works as well as those with Deet as the active ingredient with at least 25 to 30 percent concentration.   We believe you don’t want to take a chance on Lyme’s disease, West Nile, malaria or other illnesses and Deet has long been shown to offer the best protection.   Additionally, you can treat your clothing with a Permethrin spray that will actually last a few treatments.  However, DO NOT use this directly on your skin.  It is designed to treat clothing.  I used these products when traveling the world in areas with malaria risk with great success. 

Now, let’s talk about an uncomfortable subject, going on the go…  This is where you need your cat kit.

When you must go #1 while hiking just be sure to do it far from the trail.  Don’t do it on any trees.  That’s right guys don’t pee on the tree.  It causes animals to chew the bark and wood to get at the salt.  It’s best to aim at a rock where animals can get the salt as a salt lick but do no damage.

How about #2?   First make sure you know any special rules about going in the area you are hiking.  Some have prohibitions, other don’t allow any TP to be left behind, so it’s good to check that out if you are going on a long hike in remote areas without bathroom access.

When you go in the woods you use what’s called a “Cat Hole”.  What is that?   It’s a hole you dig for your business that is at least 200 feet from any water source, camp, or trail and is 6 to 8 inches deep and 4 to 6 inches wide.  Once you are off the trail be sure to consider your surroundings and squatting position before digging to make sure it’s properly located, and you can go in the position.  Once you go it is recommended to pack the TP out with you, but not required in most areas, just make sure you are using a biodegradable TP.  If you pack it out, carry a marked Ziplock with you. You can even cover the Ziplock in duct tape to hide the contents.  Then dispose when you get back to civilization.

NEVER leave any feminine product, wet wipes, or other items like this behind, always pack them out.

After you are done, re-cover with the dirt you dug out and scatter leaves or other material cover hand hide the evidence. 😊 

Carry a cat kit (sounds better than poop kit 😊)   Have biodegradable TP, a small portable hand trowel, hand sanitizer, and a pack out Ziploc.   It’s always good to have in your pack, just in case. 

If you take away anything from this, PLEASE don’t leave TP on or near the trail.  When hiking in the UP it was terrible.  It was like TP flowers everywhere.  Please think of nature and others on the trail, even when you need to go.  Keep nature for everyone.

Have fun!

Friends, we hope this has been helpful when it comes to travel and hiking.  Our goal is to make your adventures as enjoyable as possible, passing along our experiences.

Make it a great Living Phase 2 day,





Grandbaby Update

Grandbaby Update

We had a big birthday celebration at our house as the twins are turning 1 in just a few days.  They are not walking alone yet, but walking along the furniture and meeting all their milestones.

Twins age 1

An update on Levi with his cleft.  He goes in this week for the cleft palate repair.  Currently he does not take anything by mouth.  His feedings are through a g-tube in his stomach.  We are all very hopeful that once he has healed from the palate repair, he will go through intensive feeding therapy and learn to eat.  Then the g-tube will be able to be removed.

More exciting news.  We had all the family home for the birthday party.  Katie andher husband flew in from Dallas.  Tim and his fiance visited from the other side of the state.  And we brought mom here from her assisted living apartment. 

Gender Reveal

But, it was more than a birthday party, it was a gender reveal as well.  Both Katie and Emily are expecting!  They are just weeks apart with Katie due in March and Emily due in April.  

So here are the results………Katie and Chris will be having a boy!  Emily and Matt will be having a girl!

What an eventful day friends.  It will be a busy 2023 for sure.  So many blessings and God is so good.

Live life fully in Phase 2 friends,


Day 6 Disembarkation of Royal Caribbean Grandeur of the Seas

Day 6 Disembarkation of Royal Caribbean Grandeur of the Seas

It’s our last day on Grandeur of the Seas so it is time to pack up and disembark. 

This video shows the disembarkation process and give a quick wrap up of our last day.

We hope these videos have been very helpful. Please leave us a comment and let us know what you’ve thought of this series.

Live life to the fullest friends in Phase 2.

Mike and Nancy