I am never going on a week's vacation without my laptop ever again. Because when I am computer-less, I end up having to not only blog, but remember, the entire trip. Granted, there were computers on the boat and I hopped on to check in, but I didn't want to blog until after all my pictures were posted. So here goes.
For the first time ever, flying was fabulous. At least on the way down. We caught up with our transfer, the guy gave us a really good tip for our transfer at the end of the trip, and we were off and on our way. Easy getting onto the boat, though here is my advice for Carnival from the get-go: have a seperate check-in for people with kids. Maybe with a play area for while they're waiting. Because they give you a number, and you wait to be called just to wait in line, and all the excitement makes kids crazy! Though I also want to know what possesses parents to want a vacation in the middle of the ocean with ten kids. Some of the foreigners could breed, I tell ya! To be quite honest, I went the entire week never being annoyed by any kids. Carnival really caters to them. I was more annoyed by crazy, drunk spring breakers.
Now, the layout of the ship is crazy, and we spent the first two days trying to find our way around. This resulted in frustration, arguing, and a lot of cussing. And also had me ready to go running from the boat in Grand Cayman, which isn't possible, because you have to take a tender boat to the dock.
I think the worst thing cruise lines have done for these countries and cities is also the best thing. They've brought tourism, and the dock areas have turned into duty free shopping meccas. There's nothing tropical about cruising to these certain ports unless you find a way out of the port town. This is the reason I hated Nassau so darn much on my last cruise, and why I hated Grand Cayman on this one. Fortunately, we scheduled a glass bottom boat ride, and loved it. There were only about 10 people, and we had tons of room to spread out and hop from window to window. We saw two shipwrecks and Cheeseburger Reef and stingrays and lots of little fish. By the time we were done, I'd chilled enough to actually do a little shopping.
The next day, we arrived on the island of Roatan, Honduras. Much less touristy, very high security. We went out to the nature park to go on a kayak tour, where the only wildlife I saw was a teeny tiny jellyfish. Great. I have nightmares about jellyfish, and it's the only thing I see in the water while I'm there. As you can guess, there was no after kayak swim. But the mangroves and sea grass were gorgeous, and the excursion was fun, if not exhausting.
Our next trip stop was Belize. We are in love with Belize. The people were sweet, the rainforest was gorgeous, and the river tubing was, well, terrifying. You start off taking an hour and a half bus ride out of Belize City. When you arrive at the tubing place, the more adventurous guides (like ours) will take you over to a ledge from which you can jump into the Sibun River. Yes, I jumped, Jere didn't. Something about wanted to know what was beneath him. Then we hiked through the rainforest, jumped in the river from another ledge, and got in our tubes and went down the river. Did I mention this wasn't just river tubing? It was cave tubing, and 20 minutes of our trip was spent in total darkness. Not my thing. I flipped out and clung to Jere. Once we were out of the cave, it was fine. Except for the part where Jere abandoned me, I got stuck on a tree, and had to be rescued by 4 Villanova students, who latched onto my tube so we all floated down nicely as a group. 10 arms backstroking are better than 2. Of course, Jere was waiting to snap pictures at the end of the trip, at which point I told him the young Villanova boys had much better backstrokes than his old arms did. That's what he gets for leaving me behind LOL.
Our last stop was Cozumel, Mexico. Not my favorite port, this one. Touristy, again, but we had booked a snorkel trip, and the water was so unbelievably choppy that I stayed in for a minute and a half, swallowed a gallon of the Caribbean, and cut my leg open getting back into the boat. I'd feel like a wuss, except that nearly everyone had the same problem. Jere was the only one who stayed out there the entire time. The sail back to shore was nice, though. About 40 minutes of wind, salty air, and beer. Lots of Mexican beer and music. Then we shopped. And that's about it.
We got back to Miami, and took an excusion to the Everglades. Lots of gators and old French ladies. After that, we had a nearly 6 hour wait in the airport for our flight, and got stuck in front of these drunk New Jersey women who now hold the record for loudest people alive. They didn't even get the point when the man sitting beside them moved seats. And when people started complaining and the flight attendant asked them to please quiet down, they started yelling and asking who was complaining, yada yada, give them a piece of their mind, kick their ass when we get off the plane....all talk, they were too drunk to kick anyone's ass. The attendant was sweet and gave me a free glass of wine to take the edge off the nasal squealing. But I was more than happy to get on my very quiet flight from Atlanta to DC and go home.
All in all, Jere had a fabulous time. I'm going with so-so on this one, and I think it was the cruise line. It just seemed to me Royal Caribbean had so much more for us to do while we were stuck on the ship. What made up for Carnival's bad points was its staff. Our waitresses were phenomenal, our room porter was completely on the ball. The assistant cruise director was a bit of a whore (she needed a bra with her dress quite badly). And we never met the maitre'd, and were apparently expected to tip him. We took what we would have given him and divvied it up among our favorite staff members instead. We'll go again, but I'm guessing we'll try a different company.
I picked up Miss Ginger yesterday, and she was traumatized. She still won't let me out of her sight, and since I brought her in when Jere wasn't here, she walked in circles until he got home last night. She's laying here sleeping, but if I move, she'll follow me, guarding her mommy. I wonder how she'll do when I leave for Ireland next week. *sigh*
Today's lesson: Sometimes you should stick with what you know is good, even if it costs you some extra cash. Otherwise you might end up regretting all the money you saved.