Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Caribbean Cruise!

WARNING: This will be a very long and picture laden post! :)

Before Dan even began flight school, we talked about taking a little time off between Primary and Advanced. We talked about going down to the Keys for a few days. As time in Primary drew to a close, I had an idea...a cruise! We couldn't book anything until we knew exactly when he was going to finish, when the movers were going to be scheduled, etc. At the time we began looking we were going to get a balcony room. By the time we were able to book prices had jumped quite a bit and we ended up with an inside stateroom. It ended up being good though. Sure a balcony would have been nice, especially on the 2 days we were at sea all day, maybe next time.

We left Tampa on June 6th.

Just after we got on the ship.
We couldn't go to our room right away, so had time to kill.

The journey out of Tampa was pretty neat.
We went by the Peter OKnight airport where we disrupted the traffic pattern.
Planes had to go around and wait for us to pass,
there were a few who practiced a good 25kt cross-wind landing.
We went under the Sunshine Skyway Bridge too,
our stack didn't appear to have much clearance under it!
Our home for the week.
Verandah 7102.
When we booked our trip there were not many rooms left.
We ended up with a handicap one.
Yay for a big bathroom--not the traditional 1'x1' cruise shower.
Monday the 7th was a full day at sea.
That night was our first elegant night. a dress *GASP* I know, shocking!
Our first port of call was George Town in
the Grand Caymans on June 8th.
This is our ship, Carnival Legend.
I took this while we were heading in to port.
We had to take tenders in instead of docking.
It also was a rude awakening for me that morning.
We arrived very early. Our room was at the bow of the ship,
right near the anchor locker. The clunking of the chain
startled me a bit (which Dan laughed at).

In George Town we went snorkeling.
Our first stop was at a shipwreck.
There was a storm and the ship began taking on water.
The Captain decided to ground the ship.
Said they would fix it once the storm had passed.
They waited it out ashore.
Would have been a perfect solution.
However, the Capt. didn't consider his cargo.
The water got into the cargo area,
the rice absorbed the water...
and thus the wreck happened.
The ship has been tossed around here and there
as hurricanes and storms hit it.
It is really strewn about a large area.
Our second stop was a reef.
I kept trying to get a good pic of us underwater together,
didn't happen though!
So this will have to do.

Once the snorkeling excursion ended,
we headed back into town.
This is a statue outside of the Guy Harvey store.
Not only is there a Guy Harvey store,
but it is also his studio!
We had bought shirts for the boys first thing that morning
(before we went snorkeling, had some time to kill).
When we walked by later there was a sign saying he was there.
He was really nice to talk to.
Signed a few shirts and took a pic with us.
Also thanked Dan for being in the Coast Guard.
We found a local craft market.
Dan had been wanting a straw hat,
but everything in the stores had something written on them.
The first booth we stopped at a woman made these hats and the bands.
Dan picked out the hat and she finished a band to put on it for him.
Our 2nd port of call was Cozumel, Mexico.
We pulled in there on Wednesday the 9th.
We docked in Puerta Maya then took a taxi to the downtown area.
The cabbie was a CRAZY driver.
Would have been awesome if we were on The Amazing Race.
I was just praying that we made it downtown without an accident!
Dan was quite fascinated with this large Mexican flag.

This was just as we got off the ship in Cozumel.
A couple asked me to take a pic of them,
then they offered to take one of us.
Yay, a decent pic of us together,
those are pretty rare!
All downtown they had statues.
This one was one of my favorites!
Did I mention before that we were in Mexico?
In June?
Yep....that means it was HOT!
This statue was outside a shop right in the port area.
Um, I mean real live person!
Scared me when we walked by.
I can't imagine standing outside in that weather all day.
Guy must have been absolutely roasting in there!
Cozumel was beautiful.
Well, the landscape anyways.
After walking around downtown a bit
(and being heckled at
to come in for something
"almost free" or "just for fun"),
we came across this plaza.
We sat on a bench and made a call to the boys.
It was the only call we made on the trip,
international rates are spendy!
This is one of the Hard Rock Cafes in Cozumel.
"This is it...the smallest Hard Rock in the world."
While in Mexico we decided to buy some soda.
It was very pricey on the ship
and we both need a caffeine kick in the morning.
We ventured off the main road and up a few blocks.
Went into a store where all prices were in Pesos.
I asked if they took US dollars
(pretty much everyone does in the port areas),
the women working did not speak English.
Thankfully there was a local man who overheard us
and asked if we needed help.
He translated for us, told her the exchange rate, etc.
So we bought a few cans of soda to take back to the ship.
Not your average size! Well, average US size anyways.
We were given Pesos back for change.
When then gave that to the boys.
They are both fascinated with money,
especially Landon.
Back at the port area we sat down to have some lunch.
These guys were our entertainment during our meal.
Which was quite fact,
I've been craving Mexican food every since!
(Heck, tonight we even had some spicy chicken enchiladas with Spanish rice)

The 3rd port was on Thursday the 10th.
It was Roatan, Honduras. Pulling into port we had to be guided.
You can see the remnants of a few ships who weren't so lucky.

They call it Mahogany Bay,
it is actually owned by Carnival.

We took a chair lift over to the island area.
We had a chair lift/kayaking/snorkeling adventure planned.
With it also came a clam-shell for lounging in on the beach.
We decided to do the kayaking first,
I was glad we did!
We were the only ones out and it was beautiful!
Along the way was a pin of sea turtles.
It was so neat to be right there with them,
but I felt horrible for them.
Especially once they started putting their flippers on
the fencing and trying to get out.
I could have sat there most of the day just admiring
how beautiful everything was around us!

There was also a pin of Nurse Sharks.
After we turned in the kayak we went snorkeling.
Unfortunately, our underwater camera decided to malfunction.
I didn't get the shots I would have liked to.
Everything was beautiful!

Our final port of call was on Friday the 11th.
Belize City, Belize.
We did a cave tubing excursion.
While it was neat, it wasn't exactly what I had imagined.
I was thinking the water would be a little more swift moving,
but it was very calm.
Many areas we had to paddle ourselves through.

This is the group we went with.
(I'm front left, Dan's just behind me)
The first cave they had us tether together,
after that we were set free.
After the cave tubing we took a long bus ride back into town.
Inside the market area there were some women doing hair braiding.
We had some time to kill and I thought it would be fun to have for a few days,
Dan said to go for I did!
It really did make me feel so much cooler
(temperature wise that is!),
because more of my scalp was exposed to the air.

Saturday the 12th,
our last night on board,
was also the 2nd elegant dinner.
So we dressed to the 9s
(hmm...maybe the 8s due to my hair)
Ceiling of the dining room.
Most nights the wait staff had to
dance/sing and put on a mini-show
after dinner was served.
This is our dinner group!
Daniel and Kendall are from Oklahoma.
Dwight and Taheni are stationed in Savannah
(he's in the Army...was his R&R from Afghanistan).
Our head waiter was Anthony and his assistant was Marsels.
I really enjoyed everyone's company at dinner.
We became friends and did things together outside of mealtime also.
We went to shows almost every night.
The last night was packed,
we didn't get the best seats.
Weeeeee Jimmy was our cruise director.
I'm pretty sure he totally ripped off my Dad's
impersonation of Dolly Parton from the summer of 1994
on our Alaskan cruise!
(For those scratching their Dad
was asked to be Dolly for the last night talent show.
He was singing and dancing when all of the sudden...
his skirt fell off! He claims he didn't know it happened,
so he just kept on. It had the entire audience in an uproar,
the hostess had to run off stage to the bathroom.)
Anyways, Wee Jimmy decided to show off his lovely Batman boxers
while he was pretending to be Dolly Parton!
At some point during the cruise,
I think it was day 2 or 3,
Dan called in to the call in game show.
He got through and was on it!
"Home" sweet home...we made it back to Tampa!
This is inside the main area of the ship,
the decor was a bit gaudy for my taste!
The Sun Deck.
The giant smoke stack.
This was on one of the top decks.
If someone needs to be med-evacd
(Go Coasties!)
the helo would drop the swimmer/basket
into this circle to pull them back up.
Every night when we came back to our stateroom
our steward would have the bed turned down.
There would be a booklet of information for the next day,
it would list all of the shows and happenings for the following day.
Also a few mints to enjoy.
There would also be a famous towel animal waiting on us!

Umm...any clue what this guy it?
Because we couldn't figure it out.
We even bought the book on how to make all the different ones
(for the boys, figured they'd get a kick out of it),
and it didn't resemble anything in the book!
*raises eyebrow*

So that, in a nut shell, was our cruise! We had a blast. It was great to get away from the kids for a few days, though we missed them terribly...which means it was also great to see them again! It was almost like a honeymoon just taken 5 years late since we never got one. Well, we did 2 days at Disney with some of my bridesmaids but I don't really count that as a honeymoon!

No telling when we will be able to take another vacation again, but we had a blast on this one and the memories will last us a lifetime!