Thursday, October 29, 2015

Travel Diary: Royal Caribbean Majesty of the Seas (Nassau, CocoCay, Key West)

My recent vacation included a trip on the Royal Caribbean Majesty of the Seas 5 day cruise! We went on it because it was one of the best deals we found. I've only been on one other cruise which was last year from Vancouver to Alaska on Holland America so my review will be based on my experiences.


Majesty of the Seas is the oldest fleet in Royal Caribbean, I believe it was built in 1992, which would make it as old as me! The ship mainly does short Bahamas cruises departing from Miami.

Pricing/Deals: To begin our search, we had a rough idea of when/where we want to depart, but we were completely open to the destinations. We searched on Red Tag and booked this September cruise in April. The rate we locked in was $398 CAD (base fare $296) per person for an oceanview room on a 4 night cruise including taxes and port fees! I believe the rates went up closer to the cruise date, although not more than $100 per person.

Food: The ship has two main dining rooms, a buffet area, two additional fee restaurants, and one pizza parlour. Compared to my other cruise, the dining options are definitely limited.

The dining room serves a three course dinner every night and there are always tons of fantastic options to choose from. We also had fantastic servers who were attentive and friendly. We were even allowed to bring our wine into dinner. This was the best place for variety and quality.


*Tip: if you are a party of two, you will most likely be put into a communal table. Therefore, when you first board the cruise, ask to see your table and request to change to a private table. The earlier you can do this, the better!*

However, the problem I had was that after 9pm, your only option for food is the pizza parlor!!! I mean, where are the midnight snacks? That's what cruises are all about right?! And by 11pm, the only pizzas available are cheese and pepperoni. Safe to say, I was hungry and craving for snacks most nights.

Programming: The shows they had were quite hilarious. They draw upon the crowd's participation quite often and people were very down to participate. I really enjoyed one of the comedy shows, as well as the couple quiz show. They do not have as much programming as other cruises however, and as a result there was ALWAYS a line up to everything.


Hurricane Season: The reason that the cruise is so cheap is because of hurricane season. On most nights, there would be thunder showers but it didn't affect us because we were on the cruise. We even went to the beach in Nassau when the clouds were thundering. In the case of a hurricane, the cruise ship would choose other locations to dock, so if you are not too picky about your port of calls, September is a great month to travel.



I really enjoyed the port of calls this itinerary had. The times allocated in port was sufficient and the weather was nice and warm in all cities. Maybe a bit too warm actually, most days were about 30 degrees even in late September.

Nassau: The main attraction in Nassau is the Atlantis resort. But we didn't feel like paying $100 each so we walked around downtown and then took a taxi to Paradise Island. At first we were skeptical about the taxis, but they are not going to scam you. Just be prepared to go in the taxi with other parties.

CocoCay: This little island is owned by Royal Caribbean, so the only people on it are going to be from the cruise. On the day we went, our ship was the only one docked so it wasn't very busy. Since it's owned by Royal Caribbean, you won't be able to get away with the high prices. We rented our snorkle gear (mask, snorkel, fins, vest) for $37 each. We also rented a day locker for $10. Everything charges to your seapass so you do not need to bring your wallet around.


Although the snorkeling was expensive, the experience was definitely worth it and is a highlight of our trip! There was tons of fish and some coral formations. We saw a sting ray too! Although be careful because I think we got stung by some small jellyfish.


Key West: There wasn't too much in Key West so we walked around the port area and then decided to rent a scooter. This allowed us to visit the "Southern most point on continental USA". It was a nice quiet day to round off the cruise. If you are craving more variety in food, try some of the happy hours. They are really great deals and cheaper than getting drinks on board the cruise too.



Overall Review

Overall, the Majesty of the Seas was definitely lacking in terms of variety of food and shows. Additionally their service was no where as friendly as the Alaska cruise. However, given the price I would still admit that it's a fantastic deal. The sit down dinners were amazing and I had a ton of fun in the ports.

If you are not too picky about your experience and just want a few relaxing days of vacation at a good price, this is for you. If you've already been on several cruises, I'd pass on the Majesty of the Seas as you will be disappointed by it's amenities. Next time you are planning to visit Miami, I'd recommend checking out these short cruises as an add on to your vacation!

If you have any specific questions, please feel free to ask!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Clean & Clear Fresh and Clean Routine



Recently Crowdsocial put out a campaign with Clean & Clear for influencers to test out some of their skincare lines. The choices to target problem areas are: acne prone, oily, large pores, or help stay fresh & clean. Since I don't really have any of those problems I chose fresh & clean which is for those who don’t have a particular skin issue, but want to keep their face feeling fresh and clean. The products I received are for a three step skincare to keep you looking fresh. See how it went below:


Step 1: Clean & Clear Essentials Foaming Facial Cleanser

This cleanser is formulated with Vitamin C and Ginseng. There is a light citrusy scent that is very refreshing. There are suppose to be "bursting beads" but I didn't feel any when I used it. It starts off as a gel but quickly turns into a light lather.

I think this cleanser is very deep cleaning as I can feel the tingle around my pores and my forehead. It's a bit too strong for my liking and usually foaming cleansers are more drying. Also since I wear makeup more regularly now, I prefer a cleanser that can take off my makeup as well as gets rid of dirt so I can just have one step in cleansing.


Step 2: Clean & Clear Essentials Deep Cleaning Astringent

I've been loving using a toner after cleansing and an astringent is similar but is usually alcohol based. Read about the difference between toner and astringents. There's a nice light scent but since alcohol is the first ingredient I would not recommend this for dry skin. The salicylic content in this is 2% which would be great for fighting break outs.


Step 3: Clean & Clear Essentials Dual Action Moisturizer

This moisturizer combines oil-free moisture with a proven acne-fighting ingredient, salicylic acid (.5%). The consistency of this moisturizer is very light and has a fresh scent.

However, this BURNS when I put it on! Imagine having a windburn, and then putting moisturizer on. That's how it felt on the top of my cheeks and on my forehead. Also, it's definitely not enough moisture for my dry skin and I felt the need to layer another moisturizer on top. I'm guessing the burn is from the salicylic acid and the ingredient list is very chemical based.


Overall this line is not for me. When I read fresh & clean, I thought it would be a very gentle, basic skincare routine. However, I find the ingredients too harsh and not appropriate for dry skin. I cannot tell how it is with fighting pimples but it is definitely targeted towards a younger audience. This could be good for an oily skin teenager (boy or girl) but not that good for those who wear makeup, have sensitive skin, or have dry skin.





Thursday, October 22, 2015

October Empties 2015!

My last empties was in July so I have a ton of stuff to share in this post. It feels so good to finally dump everything that I've finished. I'm quite motivated to finish up a couple more items so I can splurge a little during the holiday season.

Makeup


Atoderm Moisturizing Stick :) - Lovely lip balm. Thin texture but hydrating! See review.

Too Faced Better than Sex :/- Better than when I first tried it but it still flakes. Gives big big lashes though!

NYC Big Bold Curl Mascara :) - A fantastic drugstore option, see review.

SBT Lip Balm :( - I received this from SBT, but this lip balm is way too soft and oily

*The two mascaras are from my Make it By Christmas challenge*

Throwaway


I'm tossing two top coats that have gone gloopy: Julep Freedom and Seche Vite (my absolute favorite). There's a dried Sephora Smoky Cream Liner that was actually pretty good and an ELF lip exfoliator that's smelling funny. I'm also tossing two bracelets and I thought I'd throw it into the photo.

Tea


David's Tea Filters :)- Love these, it makes drinking loose leaf tea so much easier.

David's Tea Santa's Secret :)- Yummy peppermint black tea

Tea Desire Morning Spirit :)- Got this at a Tea Sparrow event and seriously one of my favorite green teas now! It has a hint of mango!

*Accidentally included the Purgo Teatox again*

Cleansing Wipes


Cetaphil :)- Moist and so portable. These are in a 10 pack, would definitely recommend!

Simple :)

Covergirl Clean :(- Didn't work very well

Freshfaced :(- Surprisingly doesn't take off makeup that well.

Quo Cotton Pads :) - Does not feather, really great!

Hair & Body


Garnier Passion Splash Shampoo :/- More of a clarifying shampoo to use every week

Pantene Ultimate 10 Conditioner :(- Felt too heavy

Contact solution and eyedrops- make sure you check your expiry dates!

*realized the Rose Jam was in my empties basket again because I was saving the container, whoops*


Kiss Nail Dress in Double Lutz :/ - Loved the design, application is inconsistent

Olay Body Wash :)- So silky and feels amazing.

L'Oreal Fibralogy :(- Already have thick hair so didn't want to get even more volume

The Body Shop Mango Hand Cream :)- Light texture and delicious scent

Bliss Triple Oxygen Cream :)- Love this so much! Moisturizing and smells greatt!

Nivea Inshower Body Lotion :/

Let me know what you've used up recently? 

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Scent Memories by Demeter Fragrance | #CBBScentMemory

Recently, Canadian Beauty Bloggers got an opportunity to work with Demeter to share our scent memory and experiment with fragrance blending.

Demeter focuses on making single note fragrances that you can blend together to create your customized scent. They also believe that scent evokes some of the strongest memories and I can not agree more!


With the fall/holiday season, I thought Pumpkin Pie would be a fitting choice. Now, I don't talk about my personal life too much on the blog, but I actually just became a Canadian citizen this summer after living here for 15 years! It made me reminisce about my first year in Canada and learning about a weird new holiday-Halloween .


The smell reminds me of going to Superstore to look at all the spooky decorations and the Jack'o'Lanterns outside everyone's house. I recall making Halloween crafts in elementary school and knocking on doors Trick o Treating.

The two scents paired with Pumpkin Pie are Cranberry and Golden Delicious. I'll have a brief description of each scent down below. 


Cranberry: Light, sweet and reminds me of Sprite in a funny way.

Pumpkin Pie: Starts off smelling like cinnamon hearts but it melts down to a woodsy smell that will suddenly remind you of a good pumpkin pie.

Golden Delicious: Sparkling, fruity and smells exactly like when you've taken a bite out of a golden delicious apple.

To help with the mixing and creating our perfect scent, Demeter sent three additional scents that are picked by the founder which  has scent memory for him.



Rice Paddy: This reminds me of bamboo shoots and the countryside in Bali. It is woodsy but also sweet.

Mountain Air: It is a classic scent for a men's cologne: refreshing and sporty

Vanilla Cake Batter: If you are a fan of sweets, you'll like this one! This is too much for me to wear my body but would imagine it being a great room spray in the kitchen.

I've been enjoying pairing Mountain Air with one of the sweeter scents like Pumpkin Pie and Cranberry. The refreshing smell helps to tone down the sweetness and makes it more wearable. But honestly, I've been enjoying spraying all 6 into one room and surprising my nose with a party of scents.

The fragrance is quite light and only lasts about 2 hours on me. However, the scents are so unique that you are bound to find one that brings you back to childhood. Each bottle is 30mL and retails for $20 online at www.DemeterFragrance.com and for $15 at Superstore. 

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Irresistible Me - Royal Remy Hair Extensions in Natural Black

Have you wanted to achieve longer, fuller hair? It might be difficult trying to grow it out and maybe you only want long hair for special events. That's where clip in hair extensions come in handy. Recently, I got an opportunity to try out the Irresistible Me Royal Remy in Natural Black, so read on to see photos and read my thoughts!


My previous experiences with clip in extensions are these four short bright pink strips that I can add into my hair for a pop of color. Most people can't tell that they are extensions at all and think I've just gone super adventurous. So I was super excited to see what these full length hair extensions can do for me.


Irresistible Me is an online boutique that specializes in hair extensions and hair tools. The extensions I received were the Royal Remy which is their deluxe line. The price ranges from $129(14 inches) to $319 (24 inches) with lots of options in between. They also have a less expensive option called the Silky Touch line which ranges between $79(14 inches) to $219 (24 inches). Both of these uses 100% Remy hair. The exact one I got was 22 inches in Natural Black ($299)

What is Remy Hair?

Quick sidetrack here as I always hear this term but never knew what it means. Basically, it's a way of saying this is a high quality hair extensions and these types will look very natural and also last for a long time even if you wash, style, curl etc. The reason is because non-remy hair will undergo a chemical treatment that strips the hair cuticle because it was not originally all in one direction (ex. collected from a hair brush). But the chemical treatment can make the hair brittle and dry after use.


So this is what I received in the box. Shipping took 6 days which was fine. You can see there's a strand on the right by itself, this is quite neat as they allow you to try it out for the length and color. If you do not like it, you can return it as long as you didn't open up the left portion. There are 10 pieces of extensions in total varying in width so you can choose the size that you'd like. They have a super helpful Youtube channel.

So let's check out my transformation! I actually had three pieces that I couldn't fit in on to my head, so the difference can be even greater!



I absolutely LOVE how natural this set looks. Even after putting in the extensions myself, I can't tell by looking in the mirror where it starts. The hair also FEELS very natural and I can not feel a difference between my own hair and the hair extensions.

Of course, this is a big investment. It's not really the type of product you'll look at and be like hm yes I want to buy it today. But, if you've been thinking about getting hair extensions for a while, these are fantastic quality.

Since I've only had them for a month, I can't quite talk about durability yet. However, quality so far seems high and the blendability of these extensions is just amazing!

These are the pieces I didn't wear when taking the photo.

If you are interested in purchasing, they have 20% off and free shipping for over $150.

Do you own any hair extensions? What's the craziest hair style you've had?

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Travel Diary: Miami South Beach


I recently had a two week vacation in Florida (Miami and Orlando) and the Bahamas and I'm so excited because this means I can continue my Travel Diary series.

I'll be splitting up the recaps by city and first up is South Beach in Miami. I'll be sharing what I ate, where I stayed, what's happening and any tips I picked up. These are not comprehensive guides to the city but merely my reviews and tips of my experience!

Where I Stayed

The hotels in South Beach are pretty pricey starting off around $150CAD per night up to $300CAD per night. I picked Lincoln Arms Suites which is part of the South Beach group. 

The main things that drew me in are
1) free shuttle from airport (this will save you $30USD and runs every hour)
2) no resort fees (most other hotels have an extra $20USD per night for resort fees)

The front desk people were nice but not very helpful. However, what makes this hotel so awesome is the value. Our rooms are HUGE! And it comes with a kitchenette too.



The rate I booked at was $118CAD per night, which is a bargin! I booked it about 7 weeks in advance which is probably why I was able to get such a great price. Also, I collected 10 nights on Hotels.com so I was actually able to get this night for free. The nights never expire, so if you do travel, I'd definitely suggest that you try to book all your hotels with ONE website so you can collect loyalty points.

You do need to pay taxes&fees even for the free night but in total I paid $40CAD for a night's stay in a studio suite which is fantastic! I would definitely recommend this hotel.

Where I Ate

We didn't have too many culinary adventures in South Beach as the CAD was so bad to the USD we decided to be more savvy for this portion of our trip.

We went to Shake Shack in the Lincoln Road Mall which was quite close to our hotel. I surprisingly did not think Shake Shack was all that it's hyped up to be. But for Canadians, it's always fun to visit spots like that.

A more local eatery we went to was Le Sandwicherie. It is very highly rated and features lots of fresh, healthy options. They absolutely loaded our toppings to the brim and everything was fresh. The only things I disliked was that they do not toast the bread so the sandwich is cold.




If we had more time and budget, I would have liked to try these restaurants as well: Yardbird, Joe's Stone Crab , Huahua's Taqueria.

What to Do

We only had an afternoon to explore and we decided to go to the beach. And holy crap is it ever the beach/ocean I've been to! The sandy area stretched for miles and the ocean water is so warm!



So much white sand! It wasn't too crowded which was nice and it's a must do if you are going to be at Miami Beach. We were planning on going to a club but there was a thunderstorm and we got lazy. Some big names are Mansion, Liv, and Mynt.

Other Tips

*Getting from the Port of Miami from South Beach: We asked the hotel for a taxi and we ended up getting a van that was not even a taxi. He charged us a flat rate of $25 which is probably market price but I was not so pleased to ride in a non-taxi car.

* If you are looking for beer/wine, make sure to get it from CVS or a grocery store. We bought a bottle of wine from a liquor store and later realized it was ~$4 more expensive than at CVS

* Although on the map South Beach looks small, it is FAR to walk to places. Each block takes us about 2-3 minutes to walk to. So if you are planning to walk up and down Ocean Drive/Collins Ave, make sure to allocate enough time.

*If you are too lazy to walk, theres a bus that only costs 25 cents. I believe it's called the SoBe local?


There's a quick video we made with our GoPro if you'd like to watch!


So that's about all I have for South Beach! Hope you enjoyed this and if you have any questions, feel free to leave in the comments below! Let me know if you've been to Miami before and what are your favorite things!

Friday, October 9, 2015

Paul & Joe Moisturizing Primer and Pressed Face Powder

The last few items I have are from the core fall 2015 collection. Today's review focuses on the moisturizing foundation primer and the pressed face powder case. These two products are suppose to help you achieve radiant, photo ready skin. Let's see if it lives up to its claims!




The new Paul & Joe Beauté Moisturizing Foundation Primer S ($40) preps skin and corrects complexion for flawless, natural looking skin. There are three shades and the one I have is 01 which is pink and makes skin look brighter and clearer.

There's a pump which makes it handy and sanitary. The packaging itself looks old school elegant and I love the floral engravings. I have dry skin so I'm not usually too concerned with makeup sliding off of me. But my dry skin also makes it not very compatible with silicone type primers which is what makes this primer so great. It has a serum like texture so it's actually hydrating for my skin!


After coming back from my vacation, I am quite tan and the color is a bit pale on me. The primer is not clear like others and can almost correct uneven skin tone. I think this would be fantastic in the winter time. If you do not have much to cover up, this can work as a moisturizer, primer, foundation all in one.


To complete your perfect skin look, Paul & Joe pressed powder creates a soft, photo-ready finish. The compact ($10) and the powder ($35) comes separately so you can always customize the packaging. There are 4 shades to choose from and I have 05 Natural Beige

When using a powder brush, I get a very light coverage that sets my makeup. However, when I used the puff that's included and pick up more product, that's when I get the most amazing result! My skin looks so smooth and silky! When looking close up, it does look a bit powdery. But when I stand normal length away from a mirror, my skin has this beautiful soft-focus that I'm in love with!.

Blush Compact, Pressed Powder Refill, Powder Compact

Left: Primer | Right: Pressed Powder

You can see the primer is actually quite thick and contains lots of color.

This is after blending it all in. You can still faintly see the colors from the primer.

Before and After

So that wraps up all my reviews of the Paul & Joe beauty products! I'm a huge fan of the "cat lipstick" even though the color totally didn't work on me. I love the customization with the product and case sold separately. In general, I feel like this brand has sheer color pay off to give a natural flawless look. The brand also focuses on whimsical and unique packaging that captures the hearts of consumers.

See my other reviews back at the overview page.

Do you own anything from Paul & Joe?

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Paul & Joe Lipstick in Cafe Parisien 093


Next up and possibly one of the cutest makeup items I've ever seen, is the Paul & Joe lipstick with a cat center! Let's all just take a minute and adore this super cute cat!


Paul & Joe sells their lipstick cases ($7) and the bullets ($20) separately. The case I have is in sophisticated floral 08 which has intertwining flowers and leaves. You simply twist the lipstick bullet into the case and you can easily switch the cases depending on your mood.


The shade I have is Cafe Parisien 093 and is a light barbie pink with a beige center. There are three shades in total that was released for fall 2015. The formula is lightweight, creamy and smooth. But unfortunately the color is super unflattering on me. The color is too light and makes me look washed out. I would think this will look better on someone who's more fair.

15au_lip_093 THUMBNAIL

Here is the shade when swatched. You can see the beige center creating a streak on my hands but when applied to the lips it's not visible. Unfortunately this shade did not work out for me but I'm curious to swatch the other shades. This shade also accentuated my lip lines so although this is very cute to look at, it wasn't a quality lipstick for me.


I would recommend this if you love the unique and fun packaging! Once you use it the cat details will disappear although the outline will stay throughout the lipstick. To me, this is more of a collector's item than a practical lipstick. If you are planning to use yours, make sure to choose the right color for your skin!


Would you pick up a lipstick with cute packaging even if it's not flattering on?

See my other Paul & Joe review posts.