Sunday, November 20, 2016

Cruisin' - Day 1 - 11/28

Well, like I say over and over, it's been forever since I have written a blog post! I am mainly on Facebook these days as everyone is. Not many blogs still going that I used to read daily! Anyway,
I am using this as a way to remember our trip and give advice for friends who have one coming up!
I am back at work today and it's really hard to get in the rhythm of the daily grind again! Our trip was Nov 28-Dec 5, so I had 12 days off in a row because of Thanksgiving! Longest I've ever been away from the office in years, well, ever....
Day 1:
We got on the Carnival Freedom on Saturday Nov. 28th. We went with two other couples, so we all rode together since we all live in Seabrook and could save money on parking at the cruise terminal.
We unloaded and got in line, as we got to the building we all had to use the bathroom before we got in the security lines, and we were laughing and cracking jokes. As Jennifer and I headed into the ladies room, a man was standing there and said, "Looks like y'all are already having fun?" and mentioned he wanted to "check us out" when we were finished. We got to talking in the bathroom and were a little mystified. So we come out of the ladies room and meet Nick right in front and this guy comes over and asks if we could help him test security? Nick says sure and he puts a bullet in an outside pocket of our carry on bag. He also led us to a line saved for VIP's and we didn't have to wait at all! They ran the bag thru and even though it was a set up we were a little nervous, but they found it and passed the test! We even beat our other friends through the line who had paid extra for "Faster to the FUN" to bypass lines, etc. :)  The weather in Galveston was cloudy and cool, so we were all in warm clothes, no shorts and tanks yet! We were all hungry so we headed to the Lido deck for lunch. First stop, Guy's Burgers. Food Network Star Guy Fieri has this restaurant and the burgers are amazing and you can have as many as you want, and I did, almost everyday!!

Our rooms weren't supposed to be ready for a while, but we went up and checked and they were! We put our stuff down and went back up top to check out the boat. The guys found the putt putt golf and so that's what we did. It was very windy up there on the top deck, so we all sucked!

Wandered around a bit more, went back to our room to watch sailaway from the balcony. We all had rooms side by side, so we opened the dividers on the balconies and had one long 40 foot balcony!

Dinner was at 6pm every night and we had a table in the very back of the dining room in the very back of the ship. Too bad it was always dark at dinner, would have been a great view! Our server was Leilani, she was from the Philippines and was the sweetest girl. She had been with Carnival for 10 years, she was great at her job and remembered our names after the first night. She would always greet us by name every night. She was always happy and cheerful, as were all of the stewards and waiters. Our room steward greeted us by name everyday, "Good morning, Miss Kristin and Mr Nick." After dinner we ran around, went to the club, saw a show and played ping pong and chess on deck. It was still a bit cool, but not for long! First night towel animal was my favorite, an elephant! Day 1 was a hit, and we were the last ones up on the whole ship I think :) Couldn't wait to find a spot by the pool the next day and get some sun before the Texans game!

Day 3 - Sea Day again! 11/30

So another Sea Day but it's day of love, the weather is perfect, slight breeze and SUN! We went to breakfast in the Dining Room. We like it because there was usually no lines and they wait on you! We never once ate the buffet on the Lido deck... never got around to it! Then out to the pool by 10am! Jen got us a good spot by the pool on the lower deck so we could be in the middle of the action!  Met a few crazy people in front of us and got some much needed tans! Didn't do much all day but relax by the pool, have another Guy's Burger and then do the evening routine all over again. Dinner was cruise casual and as usual we got stuffed and spoiled again!

Montego Bay, Jamaica - 12/1

When we woke up on Tuesday morning, we were pulling into Jamaica.

It was a gorgeous day and there were mountains on the horizon. Got a cup of coffee and out to the balcony to watch us pull in, but our room was on the wrong side of the ship! Got some good shots coming in, but had to go up on deck to see us tie up to the dock.
We didn't have any excursions planned because all of the good ones were over 90 minutes away and we didn't want to spend time in a bus, we'd rather be on the beach. We got on a HopON/HopOFF bus and took off around 10am. Then we could figure out where to go from there.
Our driver told us some history and about some of the resorts in the area. First stop was an outdoor mall, but we can shop at home! Next stop was Doctor's Cave Beach, this was it for us.

It was a private beach, just $6 to get in and they had food, restrooms, showers, chairs and umbrellas (of course, for a fee). Before we could hardly get off the bus, there were Jamaicans in our faces wanting to "sell us their wares" Yeah, green, smelly ganja! Would you believe they even had clipboards with photos for you to pick from?? Crazy! So, to the beach we go, grab a chair and get comfy. We had a great view of the ship from the beach and planes going over too. Had to try the official drink of the island, Red Stripe, it was ok, hot day and a cold beer.
The water was so gorgeous, and cool, but not too cold. It was perfect to hang out in and swim. I had taken some mini Milk Bone dog treats because I heard the fish love them and boy did they. We would break them up and as they floated around we got swarmed with all kinds of fish. So cool!

We snorkeled and hung out most of the day, but wanted to check out the town and grab a bite, so off we went. We found a great place close and had some jerk wings and they were so good!

Then the boys had to try out the bobsled from Cool Runnings! Silly guys!

  Of course, before we left we had to hit the Harley store. It was our goal to get a shirt from each port, 2 out of three wasn't bad. Didn't make it to the one in Cozumel. That's a story for another day!

Cayman Islands - 12/2

This evening when we went to dinner we came back to the room and there was my favorite towel animal! Monkey! We had another great dinner and an early night since the next day we would be in Cayman around 7am and need to catch one of the first Tender boats to shore. Cayman is supposedly building docks since it is one of the most popular destinations for cruise ships, would be nice to just walk off the ship, but we had no problems with the tenders. We got in early and went up on deck, it had been raining, so everything was wet, but it was gorgeous!

There were 5 other boats in port! We grabbed a quick bite and met up with everyone and headed to the shore. We were to meet our van about a few blocks from the dock and found it right away, checked in for our excursion, but had about an hour to mess around before we left, so we shopped :) I had heard from friends, if you go to Cayman, you have to do Stingray Reef, so I researched it a little and found the best reviews about Captain Marvins. Boy did it live up to the reviews. It couldn't have gone better! We got on the van for a 15 minute ride to the boat. Have I mentioned they drive on the wrong side of the road and the wrong side of the vehicle in the Cayman's?? That's some scary stuff right there, especially since they drive like maniacs! We heard a little about the island from our driver and enjoyed the view, it is gorgeous. We got to this "subdivision" on a canal, beautiful homes all with big boats in the water. Got settled on board and headed out. Thru the canals and past some mango groves, beautiful multi-million dollar homes with landscaping and pools like you wouldn't believe!

We went about 20 minutes out to a reef where we could snorkel and dive for conch. They explained to us which ones were available to harvest, they couldn't have a hole in the back, the meat had already been retrieved from those, and if they were "hooked together" leave them alone, they were getting busy :) So they guys got about 10 conch and we snorkeled around. The water was amazing, not too cold, just right, and the fish and the reefs were gorgeous!

We got our dog treats out again and I brought a box of Cheerios from the breakfast buffet on the ship with me. The fish loved us!! I had a case for my phone to get underwater shots, but it wouldn't work, I was so mad! Hoping our friends underwater camera got some pics! There were a few stingrays, but they stayed close to the bottom. It was about 10 feet deep. I spotted a sea biscuit, but didn't have the energy to get it, so John did for me. :)You can't tell from the pic, but it's about 4 inches in diameter!

As we were heading back to the boat, about 20 yards away,  there was a stingray following me, kinda creepy, but really cool. I think he wanted some treats. :)
  As we were getting back on the boat and rinsing off, it started to rain :(. Now this boat was a 45 foot Taurus, named

Capt. Jimmy, and we had plenty of room to stay dry. It had a galley (kitchen) and a head (bathroom), and there were only 16 of us total on board. But about 2 minutes in, it started pouring and we were singing the Gilligan's Island theme song! It got pretty bad! One girl got sick, but it didn't bother any of us, we have been on the water most of our lives!  After getting back on board we headed to the sandbar where we could get out and play with stingrays! About a 10 minute ride to the reef, we backed in with a bunch of other boats and got a quick briefing about how to interact with the stingrays. Don't swim or kick, shuffle your feet, just hang out and they will come around. Casey, one of our guides brought his favorite ray over for us to hold and kiss. I was the chosen one in our group to hold it, of course I wanted to! 

 They were so cool! Then we could feed them, but once you had the shrimp smell on your hand, they wouldn't leave you alone. Someone must have rubbed their shrimpy hand on my back, because one ray loved me and kept sucking on my back! A hickey from a ray isn't too bad! LOL! We stayed there about 30 minutes, while we played, our other guide cleaned the conch and got it ready for lunch.

Day 2: Sea Day - 11/29

So all day we will be cruising south
 through the Gulf, on the way to Jamaica, getting warmer and warmer by the minute! YAY! Pool day for sure!

Today is Sunday and the Texans are on, so we are going to find out where we can watch! Nothing better than enjoying a football game in the middle of the Gulf! So we went to the EA SportsBar and it was standing room only, 4 deep at the bar. Then Rob decided to go check out the Red Frog Pub where we had stopped in the night before, and when he didn't come back, we headed over there. Had the whole place to ourselves and a few tables in front of  2 big screens!! Bonus!!

As the people walking by heard the screaming and hollering from the Pub, it got more full, but we still had the best seats in the place! Best thing of all? Texans WIN! After the game it was time to get ready for dinner, first formal night. Guys were all spiffy in their suits and ties and girls all fancied up and hair done. The Dining Room had tablecloths on the tables and was more elegant than the other nights so far. Every night after dinner we'd be so full, we would go change and head up to the Promenade. Stopped in the Sing Along Piano Bar one night, totally fun! Went in the dance club to get our groove on, then catch a show, then to the Comedy Club, usually watched two or three shows there a night. Finally would head to our rooms around 1 or 2 am. Towel animal on Night 2 was a dog. Looked like an elephant, but short nose :) Onto Day 3, another Sea Day, it's a long trip from Galveston to Jamaica!!

12/3 Evening

So tonight instead of dinner in the main dining room, we had reservations for the Steakhouse. It was another Formal dinner night, so it worked out perfectly! We got all dudded up and had a great dinner and Rob had gotten a bottle of "Michelle" champagne for the table to share. We had a great dinner, as usual, we surely gained 10 lbs on this cruise! They made Michelle a special dessert and sang Happy Birthday.