Saturday, January 26, 2013

Diaper backpack

Obviously I'm currently in a bag phase, unfortunately I don't use too many bags, I tend to find one I like and stick with it for a while then rotate another in.

Front view with flap down

Front view, zippered top, changing flap zipped up.

Since I wanted to keep making bags I thought it would be fun to make something directly for someone else.  I've made things in the past and just given them away but this time I made a bag specifically for a particular person/reason.  A friend of my sister is pregnant with her second child but got rid of most of her baby stuffs a little while ago. She got a lot of stuff from my sister including a diaper bag but I thought it would be fun to make a diaper bag that could be converted to a backpack.

Lots of interior pockets. Laminate fabric used.

My sister helped me pick out a fabric that we thought she would like. I found matching cotton laminate for the interior of the bag since having a water-resistant interior is probably helpful.  The main fabric is Michael Miller Zoology Sea, contrast fabric Baby Play Stripe Sea, and lining Michael Miller (PUL) Dumb Dot Aqua.  I do love the fabric, I think it is awfully cute without being over-the-top cute.

Remembered to add my label to the bag!

I used Classic for Mom by wpcreek. It was one of the few backpack diaper bag patterns I could find. I also loved all the pockets it had (inside, side, and front pockets), and a changing flap. This came as a pdf pattern, which I really prefer because you get it almost immediately, and it's a lot easier to save it on the computer instead of hoping the pattern and directions don't wear down over time.  The directions were well-written and since the pdf also had photo directions, it made making the bag very straightforward.

Side pockets: one small to hold cell phone/keys, larger pocket to hold bottles.
I did make some minor modifications:

For the changing flap, the design has you using one fabric for the outside and inside. Since it was a changing flap, I thought it more appropriate to make the changing side out of the polyurethane laminate (the polka dots fabric) and the outer side would be the main fabric. I also topstitched the flap to give it a nice decorative look.

Front with changing flap open. Even more pockets!

For the straps, I increased the width from 1.25" to 1.5". The main reason is because I have a stash of 1.5" swivel hooks but I also like the look of the increased width. To match the straps, I increased the connecting D-rings from 1" to 1.25". I also increased the length of the D-ring tabs from 2" to 3". I wanted to have a little more fabric to play around with when sewing it to the bag.

Straps set in the backpack rings. Can also convert to shoulder bag or cross-body bag.
Lastly I reinforced the bottom of the bag by adding a double layer of double-sided decor bond fusible interfacing. it adds a bit of stability to the bottom.

I am very happy with how it turned out and the best part? The recipient loves it too!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

TwoZip Hipster

TwoZip Hipster enlarged size

I recently discovered Dog Under My Desk blog/designs.  I used her free tutorial to make an earbuds case for Mike so he wouldn't lose them.  While there, I saw some nice bag patterns so I bought the TwoZip Hipster and the Daytripper.

Front pocket is holding an iPad and Kindle Paperwhite
Again I got to use some fabric that I bought a while back but didn't know what to use it on. Bought the fabric on spoonflower by designer studiofibonacci.  We haven't been able to identify all the characters on the fabric but its fun to look at.

Since I prefer my bags to be larger, I went with Erin's larger bag modifications. I also made the bottom of the bag wider to fit more inside.

Bottom of the bag was modified to be wider
The directions are well-written and very easy to follow.  I would not hesitate to buy other patterns from her.  I did make one modification.  The inside of the bag has a pocket on one side so on the other side I added a zipped pocket.

Two inner pockets, one zipped inner pocket

The bag turned out very well but I think it's just not the right regular bag for me.  The bag is too tall and too narrow for my regular use.  It would be a great way to carry around electronics like kindle, ipad, and a wallet but anything more than that and the bag starts to bulge outward a bit.  I think I'm starting to realize that fat big-bottom bags are the way I need to go for my daily carry-all.

Inside is full with just my wallet and coupon holder
I think this will be a sporadic bag for me to use when I want to just carry a few electronics and nothing more. 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Multi-tasker tote

I finished this bag at the end of last year.  I've noticed that as we carry more electronics around, my bags need to get larger and larger.  Saw this multi-tasker tote by Anna Marie Horner and thought it would be a great all-purpose bag to use.  Plus it would make a great vacation bag when we want to lug a bunch of stuff around.  This is a LARGE bag, apparently can be used easily as a diaper bag (so I've been told).

The directions are quite clear and the design comes with the pattern pieces, some of which you have to tape together.  I used Betz White Stitch Organic fabrics for the bag.  It did come together pretty quick.  The outside pockets can be sewn as one large pocket (more than enough space for a water bottle) or sewn into two smaller pockets.  On my bag, one side is one large pocket, the other side is two small pockets.  The interior has one pocket you can sew into any set of sizes.  I chose to just make two even-ish pockets.

Modifications I'd make next time.  The bag does not have anything to close it, so I'd use a magnetic snap as closure.  Instead of the interior pocket where it is now, I'd put two smaller ones on each short side of the bag.  Where the pockets are now, I'd put in a zippered pocket instead.

Interior of tote
This is a HUGE bag (have I mentioned that already?).  While it holds a LOT of things, it's like Mary Poppins' carpet bag.  It gets a bit tough to find anything in it.  Before I can really use this as a purse, I plan to make a purse organizer that would help organize all the stuff to make it easier to reach a particular item without rooting all around the bag to find it. 

Some stuff in bag as reference. Black case is holding a kindle (for size reference)
This would also make a really good beach/vacation bag if you want to stuff random stuff (towels, clothes) into it. 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Seuss wallet

In 2012 I started doing a lot more sewing.  I got a great price on a basic Bernina sewing machine and since I've swapped to that machine, sewing has become a lot more fun.  This year I decided to finally start blogging my finished projects.  Mostly to keep notes on any issues or modifications I make to each pattern so that if I decide to make it again, I have that information.

Wallet w/Seuss fabric
I bought this wallet sewing pattern from napkitten a couple of years ago but only recently decided to make it.  I love that it has so many pockets for cards, since I seem to horde rewards and gifts cards, plus all my other necessary cards. Separately, I had bought some fun Seuss fabric a little while ago but couldn't figure out what to make with it.  This seemed like a good match.

Left side of wallet
The pattern is extremely clear with lots of pictures and very concise directions.  I would not hesitate to buy another pattern from her, she makes it easy to put the project together.

Right side of wallet w/zippered pocket. The bills pocket is super deep.
While the pattern is easy to follow, it does get a bit tough once all the fabrics are joined together. Sewing multiple layers of fabric, plus interfacing, and duck canvas gets really hard for the machine.  I had to use a jeans size 90 needle to sew the layers together and in some areas, I had to sew slowly so I wouldn't break the needle.  It is doable as long as you have a good sharp large needle.

Lots of card slots
The only modification I made was the binding on the outside borders.  By the time the binding is added, there is just too much fabric.  When I tried sewing the binding, it would slip and slide everywhere.  I tried hand sewing to tack it down, and even fusing the binding first but it would still slide around while using the machine.  So to keep the binding even and neat, I just hand-stitched it onto the wallet.  To keep the fabric from getting dingy, I sprayed the wallet with Stain-Master fabric spray.

Top-down view

If I make this wallet again, I would use a magnetic snap instead of 2 no-sew snaps.  It takes a little bit of coordination to get the snaps together.  A magnetic snap tends to close without too much work.

Opened wallet
I do love the wallet but it is big.  I tend to carry around a large bag so it works out but be prepared. If you make the wallet, it does take up a bit of space.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Allure last day & parting thoughts

Today is just waiting to head back home. I am looking forward to the dogs and getting back to the routine. My jeans seem a bit tighter than they did a week ago. :(

Got up and headed to Windjammer for breakfast. Since everyone has to leave much earlier, the buffet was packed this morning. We headed up to the Solarium for some quiet after breakfast. Since our flight is in the afternoon, we chose to be the last group to leave the ship which is about 10am.

Some thoughts about the cruise. RCL really has it together on moving/handling this many people at one time. The embarkation and disembarkation was extremely smooth and easy, The staff are helpful and friendly but that seems on par with all other cruises we've been on.  There are a lot of activities here if you are interested in getting involved but it's also just as easy to keep to yourself and relax as we did most of the time.  There is definitely a lot of space to roam around, with open chairs everywhere, 

The interior stateroom is very open and I don't feel like I'm navigating a maze when I move around. I like that you can see your daily spending on the tv in your room, with a scanned copy of the receipt. It's easier than waiting till the end of the cruise for the bill and wondering "what the hell was that cost?" You can also sign your waivers and shore excursions on your tv in the room.

I highly recommend reserving as much as possible before the cruise. My-time dining reservations are a must, even if you plan on any specialty dining. Reserve for the shows but you can usually make it standby for most of them  if you show up about 30 minutes in advance. If you want good seats, make reservations and show up at least 30 minutes before the show starts. The shows are worth seeing, they are much better than your typical cruise shows. We didn't try any specialty night dining but since we're snooty about our food, we figured we'd enjoy our food at home. The windjammer is fine for breakfast but we were very disappointed by the lunch selection. Park Cafe, Johnny Rockets, Boardwalk Dogs, and Rita's Cantina are much better options for lunch.

Central Park is a great place to sit and relax but it doesn't feel like a cruise ship at all. It really does feel like a park. The solarium is also a great place to relax during the day. There are a lot of shady areas, and sunny areas. It's a 16+ area so there are no kids, and it has two hot tubs, a pool, and a bar.

There are a lot of great places to people watch. If you look at all receptive, there are ALWAYS people willing to talk to you. I got trapped for 30 min in the hot tub by a gentleman who wouldn't stop talking. Mike had to come rescue me. Even I started a conversation with a woman during lunch one day.

The ship is much warmer than other ships we've been on. I didn't have to wear my sweaters in the evening at all. I did have a small wrap I wore during formal nights but that's all I needed, I rarely wore my capris during the day, it was either shorts or a swimsuit.

This is a damn big ship. After a week, I still haven't figured out where I am. I know Central Park is on 8, and Boardwalk is on 6 but when I'm standing somewhere, I can't remember which way is front or back. The touchscreens and maps by the elevators really come in handy. The touchscreens are great because they show what's currently going on, and how to get to various places.  Apparently there are also days of the week on the elevators which probably comes in handy.

We ended up taking the stairs the entire time which ended up getting exhausting. We did take the elevator once so we could see what it was like, especially since its a glass elevator,

The flow rider is a lot of fun but you need to have a good shirt to wear over your swimsuit, the water is chilly so if you plan to wait in line more than once, having a swimshirt is good, most of the pros there were wearing board shorts(including the girls) and swim shirt tops. A cotton shirt ends up getting drenched, heavy, and cold. If I had known in advance, I would have tried bringing the right top and tried the flow rider more than once, course it is a bit intimidating since the same pros were doing the flow rider over and over again.
Allure of the Seas is a great ship to try out.  It's huge and has so many various activities but a lot of space if you want privacy too.  Turned out to be a fantastic vacation for both of us!

Allure Day 7

Last day of the cruise and an at sea day. Got up at our usual time and got breakfast at the Park Cafe. Found a couple of non wet chairs and people watched. It rained briefly but since we were under shelter, it didn't bother us. It only lasted for a few minutes anyways.

After breakfast, we looked into the Britto artwork gallery and the Coach store. Didn't buy anything but the Britto artwork looked fun. The royal canine struck a chord with both of us but the 3d artwork was $16K, not quite what we wanted to spend. I liked the Britto luggage, but again a bit expensive.
Getting psyched up to climb
We moseyed over to the Boardwalk and grabbed a seat for the captain's corner Q&A. It's a question and answer session with the captain, chief engineer, hotel operations manager, and cruise director (have I mentioned we really like our cruise director?). It was quite informative and definitely fun to listen to. After the q&a, I had to try out the climbing wall. It was both easier and harder than I expected. It wasn't quite as hard to move up the wall as I anticipated, but it was murder on my hands and forearms. I did make it to the top. Interestingly it was the most scary at the top just letting go of the wall and hoping the rope support me back down. Once I got down, my hands and arms were so cramped I couldn't really use them for about 30 minutes. It was definitely worth it though. 
"Well, this isn't so bad...."
Almost there....
I can't believe I made it!
Letting go and depending on the rope was the scariest part!
We had lunch at Rita's Cantina, the Mexican restaurant on the ship. We noticed that people definitely shift their food schedule on board. I guess because they are awake so late, they don't have breakfast till late, which means a later lunch. At 11:45, we were the only ones at the cantina for lunch. The food was good.  Tip: even the small dishes are pretty significant in amounts of food.

After we wandered a bit we made enough space in our stomachs for popcorn and cotton candy with a Captains Bahama Mama drink.  Cotton candy in ridiculous humidity does not make for fun cotton candy. The first few bites were great, but then the candy literally started to melt and compress. The popcorn and drink was really good though. I think we both agreed the drink was the best we had on the cruise.

We decided to vegetate in the solarium for a few hours (I'm pretty sure the solarium and central park were our favorite spots). While it was crowded, it wasn't as crowded as I expected. We were able to find some loungers in the shade. I am impressed at how well RCL  manages space. Even with all the passengers aboard the ship, there is always some loungers and chairs available to catch some sun.

I wanted to watch the 60 second game show so we headed down to the promenade. Various contestants have to accomplish things with typical household items. One is to knock all the plastic cups off using rubber bands, another is to catch increasing number of pencils from the back of your hand into the front of your hand. The funniest one is where the contestants had to bend over, put their nose into Vaseline, then move one cotton ball at a time from one dish to another with their nose. We both thought it was pretty hilarious to watch.

There was yet another watch sale on the promenade when we got out of the show so we perused it along with about 300 other people.  This was more a designer sale than mass market cheap sale. The Invicta watches are humongous! They had all sorts of designer watches: Bulova, Fossil, Anne Klein, Michael Kors at apparently at 50-75% off msrp. It amazes me how many people seemed to buy the watches as I thought watches were going out of style. I wonder if it's because of the moment (being on the ship, big sale, etc).

Since we knew we'd have a slightly later dinner, we grabbed a quick meal at the Park Cafe. We headed back to the room to change for the evening. We had reservations for the 5pm showing of Blue Planet. Blue Planet was a bit of a disappointment but that's because I was expecting a cirque-type show. It was visually appealing but there wasn't much in the way of acrobatics. Mostly a lot of dancing and singing, more along the lines of a typical cruise show. I'd have to say I liked this show least of all, but possibly due to higher expectations.

We had our last dinner and headed back to the room to pack it all up. Called it an early night.

Random thoughts: If you do my time dining, reservations are highly recommended, especially if you eat late. If you eat around 5:30-6, you won't have much of a wait. But every time we came out of the dining room at about 7, there was always a large group of people waiting for seats.

Allure Day 6

Today was Cozumel port. Since we've been there a few times, plus we didn't feel like doing a shore excursion, we decided to take advantage of the nice quiet ship today. Grabbed some breakfast at Windjammer this morning, same old stuff, then headed straight to the solarium.

Watched the maintenance crews clean the tops of the solarium windows. Bit scary watching them work up there
Looks like Cozumel is going to be a busy port today. When we pulled in, the Mariner of the seas (RCL) was already docked. Plus there was an NCL ship at a pier further away. After we docked, Norwegian Dawn parked next to us, and about 30 minutes later a Carnival ship parked next to the Dawn. Another NCL shipped parked by the far pier, and it looked like a third one parked there later. We ended up counting seven ships at port (including ours) by mid-morning.
Promenade behind us, we're on the Rising Tides bar
The solarium was very very empty so we had our choice of chairs.  We soaked up some sun, read, and relaxed for a few hours. Before we knew it, it was lunchtime, we headed to Windjammer for lunch. I had some salad and a hot dog but the food was rather unappetizing so we went down to Park Cafe so Mike could find something better. The food was definitely an improvement, the roast beef sandwich was very good. Plus the drinks are not diluted with ice so they taste more like what they're supposed to taste like and less like water.
Rising Tides bar making its way up to the Central Park level
During lunch, a woman sat next to us and we chatted for a bit. She's been on 130+ cruises just with RCL! She lives in CA but originally from Wales. When I asked why she came to FL instead of leaving from CA, she stated that RCL pulled most of their ships from the west coast so they need to come to FL or Europe to take the ships. I'm not sure if Mike and I will ever reach that number of cruises. We come on board to completely unplug but once Mike retires, I don't think it'll be quite as necessary to isolate and do nothing on our vacations.

Flash mob class on the Promenade
After lunch, we headed back to the still mostly empty solarium and found some nice shady chairs to sit in.  More relaxing and hot tubbing was involved. After a few more hours, we headed back to the room (Mike's iPad was almost empty of charge, plus it was almost time for dinner).

Jogging track, nice surface. Not many people.
After dinner, we walked briefly through the promenade then headed back to the room for an early night. My cold (thanks, Mike) was getting a bit worse so early to bed.

Allure Day 5

Today is an at sea day.  Slept in until 8am this morning! Got breakfast at the buffet and stopped at the sun deck to see if it was a good place to spend the day.  Looks like it was still a bit early as the chairs were still stackd and tied down. There are side platforms on the deck that lets you see the entire side of the ship.

Solarium, 16+ area only. Two hot tubs, one pool, lots of space
We headed to the solarium instead and found some nice loungers to relax in.  Good thing we got there relatively early since by 10:30, all the chairs had been taken. Mike found the shade immediately while I attempted the sun for a little while until I started to broil.  Once the sun hit pretty high, we started to lose our shade so we headed out. Since we had a late breakfast, we decided to skip lunch. We stopped at the boardwalk to get a malt to go. Hung out at the aqua theater in the shade to drink the shake, read, enjoy the quiet, and watch the rock climbers.
View from Aquatheater towards center of ship
After the malt, it was time for our daily nap/relaxation in our cabin. Afterwards it was time for formal dinner. Dinner was prime rib and lobster. We've definitely gotten snooty in our tastes. The food was ok but definitely not up to our usual caliber.

View of the Aquatheater. Blue stage floor sinks to form a deep pool for performances.
We caught the ice show after dinner. It was a monopoly theme (Ice Games). It's a small rink but the show was pretty good. They would roll the dice and then do a number based on the location (Giovanni Place, Casino Royale, arcade place, jail, boardwalk). They started a bit slow with multiple falls for triple axels but it did get better and was entertaining. We still liked Chicago best so far.
Three floor dinner room. First two for fixed dining, top for my-time dining.
Since we missed our reservations for the headliner show yesterday, we decided to get in via standby for tonight's show. While we didn't have the best seats, it was still fine. The Amber theater is large enough that there are good seats just about everywhere. The show was Tony Tillman who sang various classics (rock, Motown, blues) and had a bit of comedy involved in his show. It must take an immense amount of energy to put a show together like that! He was definitely putting a lot into his show.  Again, started a bit slow but once warmed up, it was a lot of fun.

It appears that the cruise director introduces and ends almost all shows. We'd be at one show and see him intro and end the show, then when we go to the next show, he'd be doing the same thing.  The cruise director really gets around!   We both liked our cruise director, he seems to have a great sense of humor.

Love the water in the Caribbean!
Tomorrow is Cozumel, but since we've been there a few times now, we're gonna just stay on board and relax again. It's a tough life!
Random thoughts:
- Allure doesn't seem to feel the need to keep the indoor temperature at sub-arctic levels.  It's a very nice change from other ships where you bake outside, then freeze inside.  I've been comfortable walking around the ship in shorts. It gets a little chilly in the venues during the evening but that's to be expected with so many people at one show.  Even in the evenings we haven't had needed our sweaters or sweatshirts when walking around.


Allure Day 4

Today was Falmouth Jamaica. It looks like a relatively new port stop.  Basically the port is one big shopping area and if you want to do anything on the island, you have to sign up for a shore excursion. Falmouth must be further away from civilization since all the shore excursions are at least 5 hours+.

View during our morning munching.
Decided on Central Park for breakfast as I was craving a bagel instead off the usual buffet fare.  Did some people watching at the park after breakfast since we didn't hit port till about 10ish. There is definitely something a bit freaky about sitting in a park setting (with bird noises piped in) that really screws with your sense of being on a ship.  The nice thing about getting up early on a ship is that it tends to be very quiet in the morning. Once 9:30 hit, even the park area became a bit more crowded.
Another view of Central Park
We decided to do our souvenir shopping in Falmouth and get it over with.  Definitely quite busy with everyone trying to get all the deals.  After about an hour, we finished and headed back on board.  The ship seemed a little more crowded than in Labadee.  Probably because if you weren't on an excursion, there wasn't much else to do after you finish shopping.
Royal Promenade
We grabbed some lunch at the buffet and since Mike wasn't feeling so well (sucks getting sick during vacation), we headed back to the room to relax and try to nap.

We had the headliner show reserved for 10:30pm but we already knew we weren't going to make that show tonight. After dinner, I was intrigued about the 1 hour $19.99 watch sale happening on the promenade, so we headed there to people watch, and to procure some cold drugs.  Mike compared the sale to the yearly wedding dress sale.  There were a lot of people crowded around the area waiting for 7:30pm and when the lines opened, there was literally a surge of people rushing to the watches.  It did stay civilized and there didn't appear to be any blood drawn.  

Watching surge of people during the $19.99 watch sale.
Once we finished watching the mass of humanity, we headed upstairs, calling it an early night.

Random thoughts:
-Really like the decorations on the ship.  We found that Norwegian is extremely gaudy and bright. Princess is very elegant but overly so, lots of marble and shiny surfaces. Royal Caribbean has a lot of wood and photography as artwork on the walls. We've actually found ourselves going up to the photos to get more information about them.  The decorating is understated but very nice.

Allure Day 3

Labadee, Haiti - view from the ship
Today was Labadee, Haiti.  It's a private beach owned by RCL on a small part of Haiti.  It looks like they've done extensive work on it, it's a lot more expansive than the other private beaches we've been on.  It has zip lines over the water, roller coaster, water slides, small kiddie water park, watersports, and lots of beaches to relax. 
View of the ship docked at Labadee
We grabbed breakfast at the buffet, which was definitely more crowded than yesterday (due to early port), and headed off the ship.  We walked around a bit then headed towards the coaster.  We got there early but as there was no crowd, they let us on.  It's a single car that you control with brakes.  It's quick but fun.  It's no Cedar Point Park but there are some nice views as you whip around the side of the hill.  They don't let you bring a bag onto the coaster so you have to store it in a locker.  It's an interesting concept.  They give you an rf id tag that will open any locker on the island.  You can use it all day and it costs $8. It's great for someone who is going to be on the island for hours but we were only there for a short time, which made it a bit annoying.
View from the top of the coaster

After the coaster, we walked around the artisan marketplace where the locals were hawking their wares.  It's not quite as bad as some of the islands we've been on, but they were definitely pushing their stuff.  Of course I found a couple of random dogs on the beach to pet for a while. We watched the zipliners and sat in the shade for a little while then headed back to the ship.

The nice thing about port days is the ship is pretty empty.  We changed into our swimsuits and found a couple shady chaise loungers right next to the pool.  We cooled off in the pool, drank, read, puzzled, and hot-tubed.  There was even a bit of dozing it the chair.  The majority of those still on the ship appeared to be a much older crowd, we were definitely in the minority.  As it was quiet and empty, we didn't have anything to complain about.

One of the pools, far side is the kids pool
I really wanted to try the flow rider, so after it opened, we headed up there. There was a short line already.  Basically you get to stay on the board until you fall off.  Women are required to wear shirts (which makes sense since things can shift around when you fall). The guide there gives some brief instructions and holds you up while you try to find some balance.  It's a lot harder than it seems, you need some good core muscles to make it work.  Both of us did not stay up very long after the guide let go.  I'd love to try it again but I don't quite have the right clothes to make it work.  The water is pretty cold, and a cotton shirt just gets really heavy and cold.  The ones who have done this before had on surfing tops and board shorts (the right swimwear for the flowriders). If we ever do this ship again, I'm definitely bringing the right clothes and doing this again! 

We grabbed a hot dog and chocolate shake on the boardwalk for lunch.  They were pretty good. I got the coney island, Mike got a pork sausage with spices on it.  Then it was time for our daily nap.....BEST part of the vacation.

Entrance to Boardwalk

Headed to dinner and then to Chicago broadway show. It's quite good and definitely much better than any ship shows we're used to seeing. They did a very good job with the production. Since we missed our Ocean Aria show last night (apparently due to the high winds yesterday, they ended up canceling one of the night shows anyways), we decided to try to see it via standby line.  We were able to get in but it was much more crowded than usual. We has to stand on the rock climbing wall level and watch standing up.
Boardwalk - view towards center of ship
It's basically a show of divers. While its not Olympic-par, I thought it was fabulous, especially since they have to do this on a moving ship. There were a couple of high divers which looked quite scary since the pool is not that big to start with. It looked as if they ended up really close to the side of the pool. Not a cirque show but very entertaining ship show.

Random thoughts:
-Bathroom light never turns completely off, but stays very dim.  It ends up being very helpful in an interior stateroom when trying to find your way to the bathroom in the middle of the night.
-Bringing a water bottle has been very handy. Refills of ice, water, and juices available about everywhere, and we find we're drinking more water because of the convenience.