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Passport Photo Creator Makes Job Easier



If you’re applying for or renewing your passport, hopefully you caught the recent episode of Cruise Radio, which Doug talked to Steven Fox, creator of the Passport Photo Creator app.

The App


This app – which is available for iOS devices and Android users – allows you to skip the lines and take your own passport photo. Using biometric technology, the app analyzes each photo and notifies you within seconds of whether or not your photo is compliant with U.S. Department of State passport photo regulations.

My Experience

I tried out the app this week because I got married on Carnival Freedom this summer and therefore recently changed my last name. I also just booked another cruise for February, so I needed to be quick about getting my passport name change application started.

I downloaded the app on my iPhone, and I was instantly in business. It’s important to note that the app strongly advises against selfies – going so far as to make you check a box that reads that you understand this and making you click “Continue” before you can use your front-facing camera. This has to do with the specific dimensional requirements of a passport photo that are difficult (if not impossible) to meet with a selfie. So, be sure to have someone else with you willing to be your paparazzi when you’re ready to take your photo.

Taking my Photo


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It took me roughly 6 or 7 attempts before I achieved a compliant photo. Don’t worry; this is to be expected! The passport photo requirements are very strict that the lighting and exposure is right, that your face is looking straight at the camera, that the background is white, that your eyes are open, that your mouth is closed, that you are not wearing glasses, that nothing is covering your face, etc. However, thanks to the advanced biometric technology of the app, you get instant feedback on any errors, allowing you to immediately correct them and re-take your photo. Also helpful is the ever-present outline of a head and shoulders to guide your photographer in lining up the camera to your body in order to get the right proportions.


But don’t be put off by the long list of photo requirements, because the app does all the work for you. Once you’ve taken a compliant photo, you can save it in your Passport Photo Creator app library. Take as many compliant photos as you want before picking your best shot. This is another benefit to the app: rather than just hoping the photo that the drugstore clerk takes is half-decent, you can retake your photo as many times as you want until you get your glam shot with this app.

Final Thoughts

Once you’ve selected your photo to print, it only takes one more click of a button to select your local Walgreens store. As soon as I entered my email and confirmed my order, I got a confirmation email letting me know my photo would be ready within 1 hour. Walgreens beat its own time and had my photo ready within 35 minutes, and since I live nearby I had my photo in my hands within another 10 minutes. I never had to wait in any lines or waste any of my time. What more could you want out of this app?

Download and try it out

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Review: Jack’s Shack Grand Turk



Located in the Turks and Caicos Islands is the Grand Turk Cruise Center, a cruise port that was built by Carnival Corporation in 2008. The port is designed to berth two cruise ships at a time and has one of the largest Margaritaville’s in the Caribbean inside the terminal gates. Guests usually flock to the giant pool with swim-up bar, or sit on the beach right in front of the cruise ship.

Jack's Shack

For the guests that want to experience Grand Turk in a not-so Grand way (and free Wi-Fi), they can make their way down to Jack’s Shack. Jack comes from the northeast and was an engineer that was hired to develop the Grand Turk Cruise Center for Carnival Corporation. While he was down there, he was approached to help build a dive shop for one of his friends, and you could say the rest is history.

How To Find Jack’s Shack

Jack's Shack

When you disembark your cruise ship in Grand Turk, you will have to go through a gift shop before you can access the cruise terminal area. One you’re through the shop, turn left and walk down to the beach. When you’re on the beach and looking at your cruise ship, to your left will be the dock and to the right is miles of beach. You will to turn right and keep walking. You will eventually come to the end of the Carnival port area where you will notice there are no more beach chairs. If you look on the shore you’ll see pink houses, keep walking for a few more minutes and you’ll come up on (or smell the jerk chicken) from Jack’s Shack. Or you can look for Topher. Once you see him you know you’re close because he’s normally on the beach welcoming people.

Meet Topher, The Caribbean’s Most Famous Dog

Jack's Shack

Topher (short for Christopher Columbus) is a Goldendoodle that came to Jack’s Shack several years ago as a little fluff ball. Now, he’s still full of energy and loves to entertain the cruise guests. There is nothing this dog won’t do. He goes paddle boarding, digs deep in the sand looking for crabs, swims, and patrols the beach to make sure no other dogs move in on his territory. As nice as he is, he’s really territorial. If stray dogs come on the deck at the shack, Topher gets aggressive with them and barks them off of it.

Pick The Bar or Beach… or Both

Jack's Shack

If you want to grab a cocktail when you’re at Jack’s Shack you can belly up to the tiki-style bar and be get an island0 concoction or local Turk’s Head beer.

If you want to go straight to the beach before other people do, get yourself a chair or ask one of the friendly workers there to help you get situated. The blue beach loungers are free but there is a $10 charge if you want to get an umbrella (and believe me, in the Caribbean sun you’ll need one.) The water is warm, blue, and clear, just as you’d expect at an idyllic Caribbean island. Grand Turk is a great port to forgo an excursion and just have a laid-back beach day, and Jack’s Shack is the perfect place to bury your toes in the sand.

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Jack’s Shack accepts cash, and credit cards with a $20 minimum.

Drink Menu

Jack's Shack

  • Janet’s Mojito $10 (fresh mint, lime, white rum, and soda)
  • Mermaid’s Take $10 (blue raspberry, vodka, soda, and lime)
  • Golden Doodle $10 (Red Bull and dark rum)
  • Dark and Stormy $10 (Ginger beer and dark rum)
  • Jack’s Shack Rum Punch $10 (coconut rum, topical punch, grenadine, and dark rum)
  • Reef Recker $10 (coconut and pineapple rums, blue curaçao, and juice)
  • Sandy Vagina $10 (coconut rum, vanilla vodka, and pineapple juice)
  • Blue Margarita $9 (tequila, lime, blue curaçao, and sprite)
  • Jazzy Cockatoo $9 (coconut rum, mango juice, and dark rum)
  • Paranoia $9 (white rum, lime, sprint, and peach schnapps)
  • Sex on the Beach $9 (vodka, cranberry, pineapple, and peach schnapps)
  • Señor Peniz $9 (jalapeño infused tequila and mixer)
  • Pina Colada Virgin $6, Full Strength $11

Food Menu

Jack's Shack

  • Jerk Chicken $10
  • Burger $10 (cheese add $1)
  • Hot Dog $10
  • Butterflied Shrimp $17
  • Cracked Conch $11
  • Fresh Local Fish $12
  • Grilled Italian Hotdog $8
  • Conch Fritters $8
  • Chef Special (see chalkboard)

Side orders with an above order $4, separate $6

  • Fries
  • Salad
  • Rice
  • Hot Jerk Sauce $10 bottle

Don’t Forget About the Free Rum Shot

Jack's Shack

You can go to the Jack’s Shack website and sign up or print your voucher for a free rum shot while you’re visiting. It’s very simple and you can use it even if you don’t buy anything, just hand them the voucher and you’ll get a shot of rum, easy as that.

I have been to Jack’s Shack a number of times over the last few years and always enjoy my beach day there. If you’re looking for a quieter, smaller alternative to Margaritaville, I highly recommend taking the walk down the beach to this fun spot.

Final Thoughts

Jack's Shack

Is Jack’s Shack significantly cheaper than Margaritaville? Not really. But it does offer a break from the crowds and has locally sourced food that is cooked right in front of you. If you plan on using your credit you’ll want to ask them if the credit card machine is up. Hurricane Irma did a number to Grand Turk and the internet is still spotty. Once you go to Jack’s Shack once, you’re return time and time again.

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5 Reasons to Book Your Next Cruise Onboard



Any time you’re on a cruise having the time of your life, the first thought that comes to mind is “Okay, so when can I do this again?” Maybe you’ve even gone home after your cruise and immediately received those emails to “sail with us again.” But a lot of cruisers don’t know about (or just don’t take advantage of) the ship’s future cruise desk, where you can book your next cruise while you’re on one – and get a ton of perks for doing it.

Why Book Your Next Cruise Onboard?

1. Money off your onboard account

Want to get some money taken off the bill of your current cruise? Sometimes, booking a future cruise while onboard one will grant you credit to your current onboard account. So, if you know you’re going to cruise again (aren’t we all?), why not go for it and take advantage of the free money?

2. Future onboard credit

One of the most popular reasons cruisers will book a cruise while they’re on one is the guarantee for onboard credit toward that future cruise. The amount of onboard credit offered will vary, but who can pass up free money? Especially when we all know we’ll be taking another cruise at some point or another. Carnival Cruise Line ships have the Loyalty and Cruise Expert desk where you can take advantage of this. 

3. No set sailing date

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When you book another cruise while you’re on a cruise, you don’t have to commit to a specific ship, itinerary, or sailing date. Instead, you are given a time frame, usually anywhere from 12 to 24 months, in which you have to use this deposit toward your next cruise. So, if you put down $500, you might have, say, 2 years within which to book your next cruise and apply that $500 toward that cruise. This is important to know, because many people hesitate to visit the future cruise desk on a ship because they think they’ll be locked into specific dates. Not everyone knows their vacation schedule that far in advance, and the cruise lines know that. That’s why this flexible option is such a good deal.

Read More: Carnival Change Future Cruise Credit Program

4. Discounts or room upgrades

Yet another perk to booking while onboard is the potential to receive discounts and room upgrades. Instead of waiting around for the next sale to come through your email, you can simply talk to the friendly faces at the future cruise desk about any deals offered for your next cruise. That sounds much better than spending hours clicking through tabs to find the best deals and discounts.

5. Travel agent credit

There are some cruisers who won’t book their next cruise while onboard one because they have a trusty travel agent back home. The only way for a travel agent to get credit for the booking (and therefore to get paid) is they book it, and the cruiser doesn’t want deny them that credit. However, on most cruise lines, as long as your travel agent booked the cruise you’re currently sailing on, the future cruise desk can arrange it so your travel agent’s name is also on your future booking. Just make sure that when they show you your booking confirmation you see your agent’s name as well.

Do you book your next cruise while on your current cruise?

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Navigating Fort Lauderdale Cruise Port (Port Everglades)



If you’ve sailed from the Fort Lauderdale cruise port, you know how busy it can get. Especially during the winter cruise season, sometimes there are 12 ships embarking cruise guests at the same time. Recently, the cruise port received major upgrades.

Carnival Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises, Holland America Line, and Princess Cruises sail from the port on a seasonal or year-round basis.

Getting to Fort Lauderdale Cruise Port

Fort Lauderdale Cruise Port

The Port Everglades Cruise Pier is accessible from interstate 95 and 575. There are three entrances into Port Everglades.  The 17th Street Causeway entrance which is located at Eisenhower Boulevard, State Road 84 entrance located just off of US 1, and the I-595 East entrance.

Proper identification such as a driver’s license or passport is required and your vehicle may be subject to search.

  • I-95 south, take Exit #26 to I-595 East. Exit 12b, to Port Everglades.
  • I-95 north, take Exit #24 to I-595 East. Exit 12b, to Port Everglades.
  • I-75 north or south, take Exit #19 to I-595 East. Exit 12b, to Port Everglades.
  • On the Florida Turnpike north or south, take Exit #54 to I-595 East. Exit 12b, to Port Everglades.

Alternative Transportation

If you’re flying into the Fort Lauderdale airport for your cruise you can get a taxi, Uber, shuttle service, or take advantage of the cruise line transfer service that is available for purchase when you book your cruise.

  • Uber: $12-$16
  • Taxi: $20
  • Cruise Line Transfer: check with your specific cruise line

If you’re flying into Miami and cruising from Port Everglades, expect a 45 minute to an hour transfer. Like Fort Lauderdale, you can take advantage of a cruise line transfer, shuttle service, or an Uber. A taxi is by far the most expensive way to transit between the two locations.

Parking Prices

Parking fees at the Fort Lauderdale cruise port are some of the cheapest in Florida and are charged on a per-night basis. The parking garages are multilevel and are secured. Each parking garage at the cruise terminal has crosswalks to the corresponding cruise ship.

  • $15 per day for regular cars and trucks
  • $19 per day for oversized vehicles

Alternative Parking 

There are park and cruise hotels in the area that let you park your car in their lots if you purchases a night pre or post-cruise. One of the hotels that I use when I drive to Fort Lauderdale is the Hilton Garden Inn Airport Cruise Port. This property offers a charter bus service that will take you to and pick you up from the cruise pier.

You can also park your car off-property at a reduced price set by the company. Each park and cruise location will vary in price and will offer a shuttle to drop you off at your designated cruise terminal.


  • If you’re driving to the cruise pier and want to experience less crowds, consider boarding later. Most cruisers try to be the first passengers on the ship. By giving yourself extra time to get to the cruise pier and not rushing, the embarkation experience will be much more pleasant.
  • In my experience of flying into the Hollywood-Fort Lauderdale International Airport, taking an Uber has been the most economical way to get to the cruise port. If you’re considering Uber, use promo code ydhf9 for $5 off your first four rides.  You can even enter the code before you use it.

Do you have any tips for sailing from the Fort Lauderdale cruise port?

Featured photo via Port Everglades

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