DAY 4 – CAYMAN ISLANDS
I have been to Cayman before and I know exactly what I want to do. Having an aft balcony, I kept watching the water color…and was sorely disappointed when we went to bed. But the first thing in the morning, low and behold – the deep, turquoise blue I had waited YEARS to see was back!! The day was overcast and dreary, but that wasn’t about to stop me! As far as tendering goes – if you book an excursion with someone OTHER than Carnival, you can still get off on the first tender. So head down to the theater early and make sure you get a sticker! Again, I was #1! No surprises there! We took Capt Marvins’ ½ day Stingray City tour and snorkeling. The boat is a 2-level vessel – I cop a squat in the back next to the water! I want to see and feel everything I can! As we head out in the channel, we see the many multi-bazillion dollar homes on shore. You KNOW there is money in Cayman. A few for sale signs, but nothing in my price range. Dang. We make 2 snorkeling stops – and despite lousy weather, I have a great time. I am a strong swimmer, but I am lazy – I have one of those blow up life vests to keep me floating on top of the water. At our second stop, the rain really starts coming down, but heck, I am already wet! I see my very first eel! And yes, I scream in statement through my snorkel…Not exactly very effective! The water is pretty rough at Stingray City, but I love it just the same! Again, being in land-locked Idaho, this is quite exotic to me! As we head back to land, we pass by mangrove trees – and if you look hard enough they are lined with iguanas everywhere! After our tour, it’s raining so hard, hanging out in town just isn’t any fun. We never really got dry…eeewwwww. So we get our souvenirs and head back to the ship for lunch. The buffet closes at 3:30. Keep that in mind. The sandwich grill was open a bit later, and of course there is always pizza.
Nap time – after spending over an hour in the water swimming and playing with the rays, and a very bumpy boat ride out and back, I am pooped! We have reservations at the Supper Club, and I want to be well rested. Digestion takes much energy!! That being said, I must say – The Supper Club (we had a 10 top) is all about service, service, service! And it’s very impressive! And the plating/presentation of the food was like – WOW. I took pictures of FOOD and my kids are thinking I’m nuts! My gripe – I had the lobster tail… and it was like chewing on a rubber band. Not what I’d expected for a 30 dollar meal – but then, the experience and the appetizers and the dessert was worth it. I understand the Porterhouse (which is big enough to feed 2 small countries) is very good and the surf and turf (smaller lobster and steak) is also. This is a 2-3 hour experience! After dinner, everyone heads off to the show – I was too pooped from all the digestion!! I went to bed.
DAY 5 – COZUMEL
We dock 9:30ish (again in amazingly turquoise water) and by the time they clear customs and all that mumbo jumbo, we were able to get off around 10. We did dock (YES) at the BRAND SPANKING NEW PIER! Nice!! Very Nice!! But, we did not look around much at that time – we were looking for a cab to get us to NACHI COCUM! About a 15min cab ride. We arrive at this all-inclusive beach property with the best guacamole I’ve ever had! The pina coladas were flowing like water! We had the most excellent service – all the drinks you wanted! They have a pool, a Jacuzzi, a covered eating area and a relatively clean bathroom. Not bad for the price! Dh and I decided to go parasailing a couple months prior. For those of you who have toyed with the idea I must insist you throw caution to the wind and give it a shot! I am deathly afraid of heights, but this was far from scary and the view is breathtaking! They harness you into a contraption and it feels like you are sitting in a swing. Most of our group was plowed by 2pm so we grab a cab back to port, do a little shopping and then head back to the ship to continue our party! We set sail, and watch it from our balcony. It was a beautiful sunset – although we were headed south – the moon and the sun were out at the same time! Couldn’t get it in the same picture, though. We did some karaoke after dinner – not many people out there so some of us get SEVERAL turns. They had been auditioning for the Legends Show and one of the members in our little group was voted in as ELTON JOHN. Oh – ‘scuse me…SIR ELTON JOHN!
DAY 6 – BELIZE
This is a fun one getting into. We were out on our balcony early in the morning watching the ship turn left and right and winding through this maze of buoys! It was pretty amazing. And yes – the tender is LONG. We had booked MAJOR TOM cave tubing and I’m here to tell you…it is an adventure! My gripe here is that the bus stopped twice for people that didn’t get on the first tender, as they were instructed. Sorry folks – holding up an entire bus because you missed your boat is simply rude. Period. Ok – gripe over. The port in Belize is nice – lots to look at and purchase – but again…outside the city walls is another world. A world of poverty and despair. But what an education we receive by Mikey as we ride our party bus to the mountains. They have some of the most beautiful foliage I have ever seen – There is a palm tree that I must research and find out what it is! The colors – the odor – the horizon…Something you would watch on National Geographic! Upon arrival at the base, the tubing area does have a changing room, but if you wear your swimsuit underneath your dry clothes, you wont have to worry about it! They fit you with waterproof lighted head gear and a tube with a life vest. If you wear a ball cap or hat, you will not need it.
**NOTE TO FUTURE TRAVELERS – The walk is longer than I had envisioned and very hard on the feet if you are wearing soft soled water shoes. Lots of rocks, some steps. The water is “refreshing” – aka cold. Once you get in the water, your body will get used to it and by the end of your tubing experience, you will appreciate the refreshing factor! Going through the caves is a bit scary – there is NO LIGHT except the light on your heads. But the current is easy and if you can relax and look at the beauty the jungle has to offer, you will enjoy your float trip adventure. Upon arrival back at the city, they drop you off outside the gates. You can choose to go walk around the area outside of the cruise terminal for some real deals! Dh had a drink made directly in a coconut! The dude just chops off the top of the coconut, and let him add the rum directly into the raw milk. I opted for the rice and beans! I purchase some Belizean Pecan Wine (which I did have to check in at the Ship at the “special alcohol table”) and some fried plantains (to DIE FOR) Once inside the gates, we do a little more shopping and then its back on one of the last tenders. I really hate to leave this stop! My favorite by far. There are some very poor people and they will approach you but they are ok to say no thank you, for the most part. I LOVED THIS PORT. Again, only dinner and no show for me – too much digestion…??? (I did notice my chest hurting the next afternoon – it was from paddling the tube! How I laughed when I figured out it wasn’t anything more than sore muscles!)
DAY 7 – COSTA MAYA
It is with great anticipation that we pulled into CM. From the ship (and the dock is quite long) it looks amazing. Bright colored buildings, pretty water, spotless pier. As we enter the ship village, I recall how clean the area was and that the people greeting the ship were highly costumed and super friendly! We have a tour with Carnival to Chacchoben Ruins (The place of RED CORN) so we don’t have much time to explore right away. They load us on the bus and we venture out of the safety of our Fortress. Looking forward to a long (about an hour or so), but air conditioned bus ride. There are soldiers with M16’s everywhere; even as you get off the Legend – and after we leave the fortress, there is still much evidence of the destruction and devastation everywhere. Hurricane Dean wiped CM off the map last year and many of the people abandoned what they had and moved on. Lots of abandoned structures and dead vegetation. Truly reminds me of some of the photos I’ve seen of the war in Iraq. Lots of partial buildings. There are little spurts of re-growth here and there, though. Steel structured frames, a concrete truck, and other evidence of cleaning up and rebuilding. Still hope for a poor and impoverished people. Arriving at the site, we find a small shop with a cantina and a snack bar and BATHROOMS!! The walk to the ruins is not far, but wear comfortable shoes. The guides, if you stay close enough to them, are FULL of information about the structures and it is a wonderful hands-on history lesson you will not soon forget. They allow you the time to browse about at a comfortable pace, then they feed you a simple boxed lunch. We board the bus, I grab my sudoko book and we head back to the port. When we arrive, dh and I elect to take a cab and head into Majahaul. We are dropped off in a questionable area, but as soon as we approached the “boardwalk” – which is a very nice cemented/tiled sidewalk – we feel better. EVERY VENDOR ALONG THE SIDEWALK INVITES YOU INTO HIS SHOP TO PEDDLE HIS WARES ALWAYS CLAIMING HE IS CHEAPER THAN HIS COUSIN DOWN THE BLOCK. In our experience, a simple “No Thanks” was NOT ADEQUATE – although for a few, it was. I was even called a name, in Spanish, that I cannot repeat here because I would not even look in his shop. We are approached, on the sidewalk, several times, by restaurateurs shoving a menu in our face or women offering a massage or hair braiding. They were, for the most part, in your face. Could have been the time of day – Could have been that it looked like we had money – I don’t know. But my experience in Majahaul is not a positive one. We had already eaten, and dh is not a beach person. So, for a great meal right next to the beach – with a very shallow sloping sea floor – it may be an ideal place. But I will not go back to Costa Maya. We take a cab back to the port area, did some shopping in a safer, less threatening environment, and boarded Legend early. As we sailed away, promptly at 5pm, I feel a little sad, as it is our final port, and it was such an unpleasant experience.
THEN…the thunder hit!! Legend hits top speed, racing right along the coastline of Mexico in rough water!! We had seen, on CNN, that there was a hurricane in the Caribbean, so we assume we were trying to outrun it. There is NO WEATHER CHANNEL and it was impossible to find out where it was, how big it was or where it was headed. Dinner (2nd formal night) has a lot to be desired because the engines are screaming – it shudders and rocks and cries. But – taking all things into consideration, we had confidence in the Captain and know he would keep us safe. So we pop a Bionine, grab a drink, and chalk it up as “rough waters”. About 10pm, we slow down, and to our surprise, we are back in Cozumel?? There had been an announcement earlier over the loud speaker (that did not come into our cabin so we did not hear it) that let everyone know we were headed back to Coz to unload an ill/injured passenger. There is not a critical care area in Belize or CM. So, we weren’t outrunning a storm; just trying to get a passenger the medical attention they needed. After talking with a few people, I guess the Mexico does not have an air ambulance (helicopter). That statement is just being passed on – I do not know that for fact. As we left Coz – again – the sadness hits me again. Dang, it’s almost over. So we grab another drink and enjoy the rest of the evening. And yes – the BOAT WAS A ROCKING THAT NIGHT!! (Don’t look TOO MUCH into that statement!!)
DAY 8 – FINAL SEA DAY
We get up late – take breakfast from the buffet back to the room – take a nap – eat lunch on the lido deck. Dh takes another nap and I head off to the spa. Which is VERY QUIET. It is very nice – in the very front of the ship. They have a couple of TV’s going, but I just watch the horizon. Something I wont see again for a long time. They have the WALK FOR THE CURE that afternoon, although I had not heard anything about it so I did not participate. I would have. But I get a good workout in. The upper level has several weight-training stations; the lower level has your cardio equipment. There was also a room where they would have classes and I assume some yoga. There is a Jacuzzi right in the middle of the gym area, and down by the bathrooms are several massage rooms, sauna and showers.
We are not gamblers – we did not venture into the casino. We are not big shoppers – we did not venture into “rodeo drive” for much. My 7yr old wanted a big plastic blow up boat. We did go through the different lounges and kids’ areas…Spent more time in karaoke than any other place, but that was because Sir Elton was amongst us!! What a hoot!!
There is a debarkation presentation they want everyone to go to in the theater, but if you miss it – it’s on the TV! You can self debark (which means you carry off every piece of luggage in your hot little hands) or regular debarkation (which you put your BIG items outside your door by 10pm). Keep a change of clothes and your important stuff with you. The story about the guy walking off the ship in a women’s house coat is getting old, but I can see how it can be done. So, we take an inventory of ALL the crap we bought, and pack it up. The laundry room was RIGHT ACROSS THE HALL – how convenient. We do a load. I don’t like to pack stinky stuff (well clothes, anyway!) Well, I forgot the quarters…have to go to the pursers desk to get quarters…but we remember the detergent!! Since we are on the AFT, our ZONE NUMBER is 15. We place the big stuff (that we were not carrying) outside the door and head to dinner. The last supper on Legend is hectic, at best. It seemed like every table is full! That was a bit unusual for what we have been used to… Plus, it is still a little rough, but not nearly as bad as the prior day! We hurry through dinner so we could get good seats at the LEGENDS show – (which made me sad because the Grand Marnier Soufflé was to die for! I could have had another one and another cup of coffee!!)
We head off to the Legends show. We have a large group that takes up most of the row. Now, they auditioned karaoke people for the roles of Madonna, Gloria Estafan, Aretha Franklin, Brittney Spears, Elton John, Garth Brooks, James Brown, Frank Sinatra and others that I am unable to recall at present. Some are good – some really suck, and there are a few that are AWESOME. (Including Sir Elton!) I guess they gave Mac – I mean, Sir Mac – an IPOD that he carried around for 3 days learning the song. These people actually get up on stage and sing to a live band in front of a large, live audience. Good show. Some of it was funny – some was excruciating – but overall a must see. Afterwards, a few more drinks, one last picture over the balcony, and off to bed.
DAY 9 – DEBARKATION
They do not start the self-debarkation until customs had cleared all the non US-nationals first. So there is really no rush to get up. We get up, get dressed and finish packing and are ready to go by 8. We elect to buffet it – find a table by the window – eat, sudoko, eat some more, more sudoko… They start calling zones 1-5; then 6-10; then 11-15; lastly 16-20. Again, there is NO HURRY as you just stand in line after line…You hand them your SAS card one last time as you exit the ship, down the gangplank and into the port, find your bags, and then proceed through customs. We find a porter that would wheel our heavy stuff around and help us get into a cab. Pretty simple – pretty organized – and somewhat timely. We are off the ship and wait for a cab by 10ish. We waited longest in the line for a cab…??
My 3 complaints for Carnival would be – 1. The missing of the fruit punch. 2. The lack of a weather channel or somewhere with some weather information AND perhaps ESPN. They did have ESPN in the sports bar, but we did not want to hang out in the sports bar all the time. 3. The port change from Roatan to Costa Maya.
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DAY 4 – CAYMAN ISLANDS