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Travel Diary | Cruise Half Moon Cay, Bahamas Port – 5

Hi all!

Oh no! It’s Sunday again. The dreaded day of the weekend that goes by way too quickly and the day you remember all the things you need to complete before Monday.  Today in Chicago it’s freezing and snowing, actually it’s been freezing this whole weekend, however we were able to do a few outings since it was Valentine weekend.  We went to the movies on Friday and saw The Imitation Games and The Kingsmen: Secret Service, which was comedy mixed with lots of fun action – I recommend checking it out if you haven’t already.  And on Saturday, we went to watch the India vs Pakistan cricket world cup match at a friends house– I won’t talk much about it since I know very little about cricket.

Half moon cay bahamas cruise

Welcome!

half moon cay beach port

We got to Half Moon Cay on a small boat since there wasn’t a docking area on the island– you would think with $17.5 million they could have made one. Regardless, this was about a 10 min. ride from the ship.

Anyways, back to talking about the last stop on our cruise vacay back in Decemeber, Half Moon Cay, Bahamas.  Again, it has taken me so long to put up all the posts since I’m quite busy with school, however looking back at all our vacation snaps is really making me miss the sun and beaches.

Chicago to half moon cay

Chicago was only 1297 miles away from Half Moon Cay– we were getting a bit homesick. hehe…

We had heard a lot of great things about this island since it is Holland America’s private island.  We were really looking forward to our time on this island, however if you have been following my cruise review posts then you know the husband and I are not the beach bum type, thus this island was a let down for us.  I would describe Half Moon Cay as Disney World-meets-a-wealthy friends-private beach.  Literally, we walked off the cruise ship and saw the main areas in 10 minutes and were thinking about going back to the ship.  However, we had paid for an island tour so we gave it the benefit of the doubt and decided to wait around for that.  Our original excursion ideas was to go horse-back riding but those were sold out by the time we booked our excursions.

half moon cay beach port

The main area of Half Moon Cay where you meet for the excursions, check out shops, or chill at the bar area.

half moon cay beach port

Private beach overview

half moon cay beach port

Kiddie area at the beach

half moon cay beach port

“Abandoned ship” and bar area close to the beach

The island tour was an hour long tram ride covering the different aspects of the private island.  We learned the island was leased for $9 million, and remodeled for another $17.5 million –enough said! The beach sand is made from very fine milled coral, and the whole island is laid out as if you are visiting different shows/activities in Disney World, except you had to pay for them on this island and call it an “excursion.”

half moon cay beach port

Ahhh…envious of the horseback riders. During the tram tour we stopped at each of the excursion areas.

half moon cay beach port

Here a worker is feeding the stingray at the swim with stingray excursion area

half moon cay beach port

Another beach shot with some water excursions taking place

Majority of the worker’s on the island live in other close islands such as Nassau, Bahamas and only a few maintenance workers actually live on the island. There were hardly any shops to visit, a few bar areas, basketball area, and picnic area.  Every time a cruise ship stops on this island there is a buffet-style BBQ picnic that takes place with several veggie and non-veggie items.  After our tour we decided to enjoy the picnic even though the long lines didn’t make it enticing, and we almost decided to leave and enjoy better variety on the cruise ship.

half moon cay beach port

Enjoying the views from the “abandoned ship”

If it wasn’t for our tour, that cost about $25 but could have actually been free or no more than $10, and the picnic we would have explored the island in under an hour and been ready to head back to the ship.  With that said, it was still a nice relaxing last port day of our cruise vacation but I think in the future we would prefer to visit a major Bahamas island –for the real experience.

half moon cay beach port

Of course, photo session during our tram tour breaks

half moon cay beach port

And a photo with the husband!

Our cruise experience overall was a great one and shouldn’t deter any Muslim couple/family from enjoying their vacation, however on AnUblog.com we give our honest feedback on our experiences since we pay for these trips and excursions our self, and give the Muslim/hijabi perspective.

Half moon cay bahamas cruise

We did dip our toes and feet in the sand and water even though we didn’t swim.

Thank you for visiting our blog and following our cruise travel diary.  If you missed any of the posts check them out here (cruise part 1, Grand Turk part 2, Puerto Rico part 3, and St. Thomas part 4) or would like to see more snaps from our cruise then click here.

Half moon cay bahamas Hollan Amercia cruise

Goodbye beach and sunshine until we meet again.

Have a wonderful week!

Umair’s Sweetheart,
Ayesha

Travel Diary | Cruise San Juan, Puerto Rico Port – 3

Happy Monday all!

My apologies for taking a hiatus after Grand Turk post, however I have been completely swamped with studies.  I know this is how it will be for majority of this year so please bare with me as I try to get new posts up slower than usual.

San Juan Port Cruise

Overview of San Juan right before entering the cruise port

San Juan Fort

View of Fort from our cruise

Puerto Rico, was a beautiful stop on our cruise of the Eastern Caribbean.  It had been a place I was wishing to visit and I was excited to find a cruise itinerary that worked for us with a stop at San Juan, PR.

San Juan cruise yacht island

Beautiful yachts and boats area next to the cruise port

For our excursion in San Juan, we decided to take a trip over to the rainforest, El Yunque. This excursion was almost 5 hours long since it took almost an hour to get to the rainforest from the cruise port. The husband and I enjoy nature and scenic activities, thus we thought this would be a fun way to explore a part of Puerto Rico that not many tourists may get a chance to explore. Also, we figured once we got back from the rainforest we would still have some time to explore areas of Old San Juan.

El Yunque Puerto Rico cruise

The visitor center area in El Yunque

El Yunque rainforest

A waterfall area in the visitor center

El Yunque rainforest puerto rico

Waterfall in the rainforest…can you spot Umair?

El yunque rainforest puerto rico

Serene water area in the rainforest

After almost 3 hours in the forest we left without covering much ground. We found out that some areas of the rainforest were restricted to tours on buses. Thus, that was somewhat a disappointment, however I had gotten a headache from being on the bus therefore I was happy to head back to Old San Juan and explore on foot.

streets of San Juan

Colorful buildings of Old San Juan

old san juan

Another shot of the beautiful streets and buildings

The cruise port was walking distance to Old San Juan where we were able to see the beautiful brick streets and colorful building that I have admired from pictures for many years. This area is quite small and of course, touristy. We had about 2 hours left before our cruise departed the island so we made the most of it by walking around the local shops. We did want to check out one of the forts on the island, however we weren’t sure if we will be able to make it back in time so we resisted that urge and admired the forts from afar.

old san juan

Island overview from Old San Juan. In the background are the mountains where the rainforest was, and the cruises were docked where the ocean is.

For the 8 hours that we were on the island, we were still able to explore a lot since we got to see new San Juan on our bus tour, along with some of the rainforest and the beauty of old San Juan. It was a nice long, somewhat exhausting day but it was worthwhile. Our tour guide was friendly, but very talkative to the point where he was talking about personal stories that I didn’t feel fit the mood of the tour. I would definitely recommend checking out El Yunque rainforest if your are in Puerto Rico as it has beauty that can’t be found other places.

If you missed part 1 on the cruise, and part 2 on Grand Turk do check them out. Thank you for visiting, and have a great week!

Umair’s Sweetheart,
Ayesha

Travel Diary | Eastern Caribbean Cruise – 1

Hi all,

Cruise mojito wrap maxi dress hijab

Vacay has to begin with a mint mojito in hand!

Over the December break the husband and I went on our first ever cruise together to the Eastern Caribbean.  We sailed with Holland America’s ship Nieuw Amsterdam, and traveled to Grand Turk, San Juan, St. Thomas and Half Moon Cay ports over 7 day’s.  The cruising experience was quite relaxing and worry-free for us that we felt our vacation was well-spent. We would definitely love to sail to other ports in the future and try out other ships.

cruise orange wrap maxi hijab

Oh & a pina colada too!

Holiday cruise hijab red maxi skirt chambray

Walking around the pool area while listening to live steel-drum music

cruise lunch sea view Holland Amercia

Lunching at the buffet-style dining “The Lido” while enjoying the sunny ocean view

Here are some snaps from our “cruise day’s” which included two formal nights, shows, and special decor since the cruise took place during the Holiday’s.  Our first night on the cruise was spent trying to figure out how to navigate around the ship, figure out the dining areas, showroom, pools, etc.  It is quite amazing how much there is to do indoors that we almost had to make an effort to go out on the ship’s deck to enjoy the sunshine/pool areas.

Holland America cruise afternoon tea

Enjoying afternoon tea with the husband. It became a tradition for us to enjoy tea everyday at 3pm. So fancy!

Holland America Nieuw Amsterdam captain toast

Captain’s welcome toast and first formal night

Caribbean cruise formal night

My dashing husband getting ready to eat some yummy food!

Cruise hijabi formal night outfit

Carefully deciding between all the entree options

muslim couple on holiday cruise

The happy couple! We ate at the Manhattan Dining Room for our formal dinner’s

We decided to sail with Holland America mainly due to the fact that it fit our dates of travel, ports we were interested in, fit our budget and lastly was geared more towards adults/couple/mature cruisers rather than families/kids/college crowd.  The Nieuw Amsterdam ship is well-kept, constantly cleaned/maintained, is one of the newer/renovated ships, and what we truly appreciated about the ship was that majority of the staff on the ship was Muslim!  It was so nice to arrive to our cabin on the first day to be greeted with “as salam u alaikum” by our room steward, and then throughout our days on the ship to be greeted in the same manner by several workers several times a day.  In addition, whenever we wanted recommendations on what items were “halal” they always gave great suggestions.

Nieuw Amsterdam NY theme atrium muslim couple cruise

NY themed atrium and holiday decor that was not over-the-top-in-your-face

Holland America cruise review

The carpet in the elevator changed everyday so we made it a habit to take a picture with it everyday

Our room was cleaned several times a day, all our important papers/itineraries would be set out during the turn-down service, we never had to complain about getting extra towels/toiletries, nor did we have much trouble with our order during dining regardless if we went to the buffet or sit-down dining rooms.  At times at the buffet if we arrived late some of the items would not be available but there were always other choices for us to try.  As far as the food goes, it was decent American food, with huge salad bar, sandwich station, burger’s, entrees, desserts, to so much more that there were stations that we never even got a chance to try.

sting-ray towel animal

A towel animal was left every night during turn-down service along with the itinerary for next day

holiday cruise outfit hijab

Waiting in the Blues lounge for the live music to start. This became our go-to place after dinner every night. It was one of our favorites on the cruise.

Nieuw Amsterdam blues lounge

One of the live performer’s at the Blues lounge who was amazing along with the band!

Holland America recycled percussion show

Recycled Percussion was a great interactive show that was performed live one of the nights

cruise recycled percussion show

Umair was called up on stage during the show to “monkey” around

They had a few paid dining rooms, which we didn’t opt for trying out because we felt satisfied with the “non-paid” options, however one of the paid restaurants, Tamarind, had complementary lunch everyday so we did try that out one day it definitely was a nicer experience with a modern fixed menu.  The items on that menu were not items you could have gotten at the non-paid dining.

cruise muslim couple outfit

2nd formal night photo-op

cruise hijabi outfit maxi

Photo-op session before lunch at Tamarind’s bar area

Tamarind cruise lunch

Fancy salad for lunch at Tamarind

One of the port days we had early morning arrival, thus requested room-service for our breakfast.  We had filled out the menu the night before, and then selected the time slot we wanted delivery and our food arrived in the morning during that time.  We did hear of complaints from a few cruisers that they were not happy with the room service because it was quite delayed, and the items that they requested didn’t arrive, however that was not the case for us.  Room service is my jam!

hijabi cruise outfit maxi dress

Ocean breeze and the endless sea

We booked a window cabin that had a partially obstructed view, and while it was obstructed the window was a floor to ceiling window that allowed plenty of natural light to come through and gave us enough of a view to know when we were arriving land.  Our cabin was quite spacious with a king size bed, plenty of closet space, sitting space with small sofa, chair + table, and even the bathroom was decent size with vanity space for our toiletries.  Our cabin was located mid-ship on deck 4, where I felt would be the most comfortable to not feel motion or lots of noise.  While I did take motion sickness tablets the first day I didn’t feel the need to continue taking them throughout the cruise.

Niuew Amsterdam window cabin

Our room for the week

Holland America cabin

Opposite view of the room with closet, vanity + sitting area

Today’s review was mostly about the ship and overall experience.  In later posts I will share snaps of our time in Grand Turk, San Juan, St. Thomas and Half Moon Cay.  In addition, talk about our excursions and what we thought of each island.

cruise food veggie curry

The last night of our cruise was “international cuisine” night so Umair ordered the veggie + tofu curry – not bad!

Last year for our December break we visited Colorado, and despite the cold we had a great time with all it’s picturesque beauty at Rocky Mountain National park, Loveland skiing, and Vail for New Year’s eve.  Check out our gallery here until you wait for part 2 of our cruise snaps.

Thank you so much for visiting and do let me know places you have cruised to or if you are planning to take  a cruise soon in the comments below!  I read each and every comment.

muslim couple holiday cruise

Last night on the cruise in the Manhattan Dining Room

Umair’s Sweetheart,
Ayesha

Modern Islamic Stationery Reveiw

Happy Friday everyone!

Abud-Darda (May Allah be pleased with him) reported:

The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “He who follows a path in quest of knowledge, Allah will make the path of Jannah easy to him. The angels lower their wings over the seeker of knowledge, being pleased with what he does. The inhabitants of the heavens and the earth and even the fish in the depth of the oceans seek forgiveness for him. The superiority of the learned man over the devout worshipper is like that of the full moon to the rest of the stars (i.e., in brightness). The learned are the heirs of the Prophets who bequeath neither dinar nor dirham but only that of knowledge; and he who acquires it, has in fact acquired an abundant portion.”[Abu Dawud and At- Tirmidhi] credit: Sunnah.com

Islamic stationery

Today I am featuring fun Islamic stationery, yes you heard right fun like Kate Spade fun! We all have seen those adorable pens, pencils, notepads, and sticky notes, etc. from popular brands that have fun designs, and we want to hoard just because of the cuteness. We’ll now I’m so excited because I can find such Islamic products that are fun to display and useful.

Islamic pencil set and sticky notes

Muslamb Stationers, is an Etsy shop specializing in letterpress & offset greeting cards, fill-in invitations & desk decor essentials such as notepads, sticky notes, bookends, stamps & pencils, the most popular of which are the “Hijabi Hard at Work” & “Study Dua” pencils. Since it’s founding, Muslamb Stationers products have appeared on various design blogs & magazines in the U.S., U.K, Canada, Malaysia and Turkey. They are located in Chicago, and offer a variety of product’s on their Etsy shop which you can check out here.

Eid Mubarak magnets and InshahAllah sticky notesThey were kind enough to send me some items for review, and also they will be participating in the huge Ramadan & Eid giveaway so some lucky person will win some of this fun Islamic stationery. Muslamb stationery comes in bright colors, and their pencil’s have “studying dua” on them–how great is that. The sticky notes are as great as any in the market but what makes them better is they have “InshahAllah” and other Islamic reminder’s written on them. I was also sent small magnet’s that say “Eid Mubarak” on them- how cute. I love magnet’s and will be sticking these on my refrigerator right away. All these items were packaged very nicely, are of quality and are made in the US.

20140714-155642.jpg6 #2 pencils in shades of purple and pink. Print reads: “Rabbi Zidni ‘Ilman War Zuqni Fahman” Meaning: “O Allah advance me in knowledge and true understanding.” And below are other cute product’s that I’m loving!

Hijabi hard at work pencilSalat door signThe stationery items will make great gift items for children (and children at heart like myself) for Ramadan, Eid, just because presents or even as small prizes for kids in Sunday school competitions. To order your own, check out Muslamb Stationers on Etsy. Also join their Facebook fanpage here, and twitter for updates.

Umair’s Sweetheart,
Ayesha

*AnUblog was not compensated for this post. Only were provided the items for review and giveaway. All opinion’s are of AnUblog’s author’s. Anublog.com does not share opinion’s of brands/companies mentioned.

Handmade Ramadan & Eid Cards Review

Hi all,

Salena Lee Custom Cards

I hope all my Muslim readers are having a wonderful Ramadan thus far. I’m exciting for today’s post, because while I’m reviewing an item from Salena Lee, an Etsy seller, that makes beautiful handmade paper cards for special occasions, I’m also giving a sneak peek to a giveaway item. I will be hosting a huge giveaway this month with some great business’ that have amazing Ramadan and Eid decor, stationary, and gift items. I’m gonna sound like a broken record but this giveaway will be the biggest one I’ve ever hosted, and you will want to follow throughout the month to get a chance to win.

Ramadan Eid Custom cards

Ramadan and Eid are such special times, and while I’ve been living in the US for a very long time every  year around this time I feel like my home is missing something. When I was younger, and living with my parents my mom always made special food items during this time of year, she decorated the house, we wore new clothes during Eid, and received gifts. All of these these things my mom did made Eid so special to me, and now that I’m married I want to do the same for my family and future kids. Therefore, in search for great Ramadan and Eid decor to jazz up my space I will be sharing all my recommendations for this beautiful time of year.

Eid Mubarak handmade card

To start off this giveaway sneak peek is greeting cards made by Salena Lee.  Salena’s obsession with paper started at an early age when she would save money to buy construction paper and now as an adult that hobby took on a whole new meaning where she started creating custom cards for all occasion.

Ramdan Eid gift

The pictures on this post are just an example of some of the beautiful cards she makes. When I received these cards for review the first thought that went to my mind was that they would be perfect just as sending as a greeting card since they are all blank inside so you can personalize, or you can give them as thank you notes to host’s of iftar and Eid parties– wouldn’t a personalized handmade and handwritten card be a wonderful thing to receive? I definitely would cherish it since handwritten notes are becoming so rare these days.

Eid decor

Visit Salena on her Etsy page here, and see her beautiful handmade creations. If none of them strike your fancy, then I’m sure she will be more than happy to create something custom just for you.  Please also like her facebook fan page here.

Have a great week!

Umair’s Sweetheart,
Ayesha

*AnUblog was not compensated for this post. Only were provided the items for review and giveaway. All opinion’s are of AnUblog’s author’s. Anublog.com does not share opinion’s of brands/companies mentioned.

Movie Review | Man of Steel 3D

Hi everyone!

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Hope everyone is having a great weekend! Yesterday we checked out Man of Steel which we had been looking forward to for many months, well actually the husband had been looking forward for many months. Yet, to my surprise I loved it more than I ever expected and became smitten with Henry Cavill, the actor playing superman.

What I loved about the movie was how well the story was told and how those who are not aware of the story can catch up without feeling lost throughout the movie.

K.I.S.S (keep it simple stupid) Movie Review: Man of Steel 3D

AnU Overall Rating: 8.5/10
3D Experience: 8/10
Action Scenes: 8/10
Direction: 8/10
Story: 8.5/10

If you haven’t already I would highly recommend checking it out.
FYI- there is no after credits scene so don’t bother staying an extra five minutes after the movie.

Have a great Saturday!

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© Ayesha and Umair and AnUblog, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material and pictures without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ayesha and Umair and www.AnUblog.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. All opinions expressed are solely of Ayesha and Umair of www.AnUblog.com.

Movie Review | Fast and the Furious 6

Happy Friday!

I’m gonna keep this post short since I updated about our Ohio road trip in yesterday’s blog, and since I didn’t want to over do it yesterday I’m posting the movie review today.

K.I.S.S (keep it simple stupid) Movie Review: Fast and the Furious 6

AnU Overall Rating: 7/10
(Normal) Action Scenes: 4/10
(Impossible) Action Scenes: 9/10
(Racing/Cars) Action: 4/10
Direction: 7/10
Story: 7/10

The husband found it necessary to address the different types of action scenes in the movie thus rating them differently. Part 6 of F&F was more about regular action scenes. The actual cars racing scenes seemed a bit lackluster as true racing cars weren’t used, instead BMW 5 series were used- which doesn’t make sense to car enthusiasts.

Do let us know what you thought of the movie or what plans you have for the weekend.

Thank you for visiting and have a great weekend!!

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© Ayesha and Umair and AnUblog, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material and pictures without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ayesha and Umair and www.AnUblog.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. All opinions expressed are solely of Ayesha and Umair of www.AnUblog.com.

Blues, Whites & Star Trek Movie Review

Happy Thursday everyone!

This will be a quick hijabi outfit of the day. I wore this outfit a few day’s ago when we went to see the new Star Trek movie, Into the Darkness, which I will KISS review in this post (I know it’s a little late but those of you waiting for the long weekend to see it then this might help.) We liked the movie, but I was confused just a tad since I’m not an avid Star Trek fan.

K.I.S.S (keep it simple stupid) Movie Review: Star Trek Into the Darkness in 3D

AnU Overall Rating: 8/10
3D Experience: 8/10
Action Scenes: 8/10
Direction: 8/10
Story: 7.5/10

This hootd look was put together with the help of my main fashion consultant, the husband! As you will see we were matching unintentionally.

Overview with the faux leather jacket.

Overview with the faux leather jacket.

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With the husband, of course!

With the husband, of course!

The cold shoulder detail.

The cold shoulder detail.

Outfit overview without the jacket.

Outfit overview without the jacket.

|HOOTD deets|

Hijab/Scarf- c/of of Mil|Colorblock top- I.N.C from Macy’s|Long sleeve tee- Nordstrom rack find|Jeans- Forever 21|Faux leather jacket, Shoes & Earrings- Target

Thank you for vising our blog!

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© Ayesha and Umair and AnUblog, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material and pictures without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ayesha and Umair and www.AnUblog.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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