Wednesday, April 13, 2016

cruise 2016

I need to write this all down before I forget. I know my blogging days are coming to an end so I'm going to finish out the year (maybe?) and get it printed I need to stay on top of it in the meantime.

Camille and Brian, our "cruise buddies" decided that for their 40th birthdays they wanted to do a cruise with us again. The only week they could do it ended up actually working for us too (their spring break week). I had a really stressful couple of months and this timing ended up being just what I needed. Issues with Sadie, issues with my calling, and issues with my health all felt like a lot at the time. Anyway...we were looking forward to it. One of the many perks of traveling with Camille is that she is a planner and she finds out a lot of details about places. After selecting the cruise with 4 "new" places, we knew we needed to maximize our time in each location. (Remember? We don't take "vacations.")

The cruise was out of Miami so we flew in the night before and I marveled at how the hotel that looked SO NICE online managed to be so dumpy. Oh well. The next morning we listened to conference and made our way to the port where we boarded and ate lunch while listening to Elder Christofferson's wonderful talk on Fathers. We finally met up with those guys and while their luggage took 5 hours to get to their room, we finished listening to conference. Then we were off!

Our first day was a day at sea. I can't sleep in past 7 so I knew I would be the one to get up and reserve chairs on the Serenity Deck (no kids allowed there=quiet). Spencer read his book while I went running on the outdoor track, then he worked out while I read. We hung out outside most of the day - it was cloudy and sometimes even cool, so it was do-able. I have no idea what we did that night - we did eat dinner every night in the dining room because the food is SO much better, but I forgot what show we saw. We played games each night until midnight-ish, while eating ice cream and pizza and candy.

Tuesday was our first port day - Cozumel. We had to quickly hurry to the ferry to Playa del Carmen, where we hopped on the bus to Tulum. We had heard this was amazing and was a must-do, but I was skeptical. Needless to say, it wasn't my favorite excursion. The ruins weren't all that impressive, the beach was pretty but small and crowded, and we had no extra time when we returned to the island.

Fun, but not my favorite. (So many iguanas!)

On Wednesday was Belize. This was a tender stop, and it was a 30 minute ferry ride to the island. This was the most primitive and untouched of all our locations. Usually port areas are nice but this one didn't have much nice going on. However, I really liked it for that reason. Who knows if it will become really commercialized in the next 10 years? We were on time but so many people were late getting together with our excursion group, and we left 75 minutes past when we were supposed to. We boarded a school bus probably from when I was elementary school and drove an hour and 15 minutes to our cave tubing location.

Cave tubing was really fun. We had to hike in carrying everything and the caves were really cool. Our guide was a tiny Mayan guy named "Too Tall." :) When we were done we were provided with lunch that was really good, but we were nervous about time and had to really push the guides to get people back on the bus. We truly barely made it back for the last tender to the ship. Kinda stressful. But FUN day aside from that issue. The drive was interesting - lots of poverty. I took pictures to show my kids.

Our next day was Roatan, where we had a zip lining excursion planned. Routan had a beautiful port (Carnival spent $60 million there to make it really nice) but WOW the poverty right outside those gates and throughout most of the island was stunning. I took SO MANY pictures to show my kids so they never forget how privileged they are.

We got to the zipline and it started to rain. Bummer! But it ended up being great because it was cool and it made the zipping way faster.

At one point they told us to let go and pushed our legs up high so it felt like we were flying upside down. Camille and I did it and the guys opted out. :)

There were 14 platforms/ziplines, and this was definitely a highlight of the trip for me. We also got to hold a monkey for a few minutes.

After, we went to the resort beach for an hour to hang out. It was still drizzly so Spencer and grabbed our masks, ran down to a rocky area, and snorkeled, while Brian and Camille did the stand-up paddle boards.
It was not enough time there but it was a gorgeous part of the island that i'm glad to know about. We headed back to port and got to shop and look around before getting back on the ship (I love not being rushed).

Our last port day was Friday - Grand Cayman. I haven't been here before but felt like I had before. It was definitely more "Americanized" and was quite the contrast from Honduras. We had an hour before the tour group picked us up so we did our shopping then, as well as found some Wifi (the first time for me all week).

We went to the beach club for our Sea Doo's and this part was super fun - we rode them out to the sandbar of Stingray City. Right as we started going, the water was choppy and the salt water kept spraying right into my eyes.

We made it out to stingray city and got to play with and hold the stingrays. I had always heard the bottom was the softest thing ever and the top was like sandpaper. But both sides were suuuuper velvety. They were also heavier than I realized. We got some pictures (those are coming later) and I even kissed one. I tried to feed him, but he just bit my finger instead.

We got back onto our Sea Doos and went to Rum Point to snorkel - it was really pretty, but I was tired and could feel that I was getting sunburned. We got on to go back to the beach club; luckily the water wasn't choppy this time so I could see better. BUT Brian got gutsy and started going in circles, and knocked them both into the water. The problem was his wrist kill-switch broke off so they had to chase down the Sea Doo. I laughed so so hard...I also think it will be a good story to Camille someday... ;)

We went to the public beach part of 7-mile Beach for an hour or so but Spencer wanted to go so we parted ways and went back to the port to be tendered back to the ship. I wasn't feeling great - dehydrated/drank too much saltwater/sea-sick/who knows what else so Spencer did most of the shopping and I sat down.

We got on the ship and I felt gross until the next morning. But we still had to play games! That was our second Elegant Night and I sure didn't want to participate. :)

That ended our excursions. Tulum, cave tubing, zip lining, and Sea Doos to stingrays. It was pretty incredible and I'm not sure I can pick a favorite day. Our last day was "at sea" and one of the coolest parts was being able to see Cuba for most of the day. We mini-golfed that evening before dinner, right as we passed Havana.

We all took the "5 Love Languages" test that night and then played games one more time (well, we thought it would be our last time). On Sunday morning we got off early and headed to the airport - funny enough, we were all on the same flight to Atlanta AND we were sitting right behind Brian and Camille. So we got a little more game time in. We said bye in Atlanta and I totally cried! Camille is like a sister to me - we have been dear friends for 11 years and have talked on the phone at LEAST twice a week that entire time. I always feel like we always pick up where we left off, and we never run out of things to talk about. Best cruise buddies ever!

We came home to happy kids and Kathy had done a phenomenal job. Sadie is extra clingy but not in an annoying way. This vacation was just what I needed.