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Western Caribbean Cruise

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After a 6 day cruise where you are fed breakfast, lunch and dinner, your room is cleaned for you twice a day with an evening turn down service including chocolate mints on your pillow, and nightly comedy and musical shows, getting back to reality is a bit of a transition. That’s what happened to Rob and I yesterday. Normal chores like unpacking, doing laundry, making meals, cleaning up and doing dishes, seem exhausting and a dose of reality that’s hard to accept when you were spoiled on the ship for an entire week. No longer is anyone offering us a cold, refreshing cocktail by the pool, there is no coffee automatically served to you after dinner. Sigh.

But today we are a bit better. Nothing like the shock of Monday to get you back into the routine of things — you are forced into it. We are, however, awaiting our next cruise where we can be treated like Kings, Queens, and Princesses once more.

Yesterday I shared a few pics from our Key West jaunt, which was Day Two of our trip. The ship had a Michael Jackson inspired theme for the day, which included a trivia game, music, etc. After dinner we went to a Thriller dance class. Yes, we learned the choreography from MJ’s Thriller video. It was so much fun. We took on zombie characters, rose from our graves, and then did the dance that you see in the video. Okay, it was modified a bit because we only had 30 minutes to learn the moves.

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Day 3 of the cruise was a “Fun Day at Sea” which just means you get to hang out by the pool, do some requisite line dancing and drink overpriced cocktails (spiked or not). There was a Cheers program that would have cost $700 for Rob and I. Needless to say, we did not partake, but we were surprised how many people were lined up for it. I simply cannot drink enough to justify that expense. Day two was formal night and we donned our dress up garb and posed for the photographers that were situated around the ship. Jas and Rob cracked me up as the photographer posed them. It’s amazing how you forget which foot is the left one and which arm is the right when someone tells you to move it. We always had a few laughs and comments to share after each photographer. One in particular was Jasmine’s favorite. He was Filipino and as tall as she was. Before he took your pic, he yelled, “Woohoo!” so if you don’t expect it, you end up with a too wide grin for your photo.

Day 4 takes us to our second port of call (there are 3): Grand Cayman

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It was really bright out and Jas couldn’t really look up into the camera.

We had been to Grand Cayman via another cruise a few years ago, and my son TJ was able to join us. We did the Stingray City excursion then, so we opted for a different excursion this time around and chose the Great Barrier Reef snorkeling trip. On our way out to the reef, we spotted blue iguanas basking in the sun. They were everywhere, and we never saw them our first time on the island. Rob has an affinity for lizards, so he snapped a few pics on the way back in, but there weren’t as many out because the sun was blaring at that point.

I’m embarrassed to admit that I have become a bit of a chicken as I’ve gotten older. I was a bit of a daredevil when I was younger, virtually unafraid of any adventure that came my way. Now, something as simple as snorkeling in deep waters gives me pause (or if you’re okay with my un-PC term: butt sweats).  I mean, I was fine before I got off the boat. I was actually one of the first few people off the boat, hopping right on in. But when I got in the water and started sinking because my vest wasn’t fully inflated, I swam to Rob and said, “I can’t do it!” I have to laugh at myself because after I took the time to adjust my gear, I was fine (albeit I swallowed way too much seawater). Jasmine, however, is fearless. One of the ladies on the boat even called her that afterwards. She goes right in, goes as far out as we let her, and has no trepidation about anything. I am glad she just enjoys life like that…NO FEAR!

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Rob wore fins and Jas and I did not, so he became our “taxi” while we were snorkeling. We held onto him as he took us out close to the reef where we were able to see beautiful coral and colorful fish.

Jas saw a stingray swimming by her and alerted everyone else on the boat so that some of the passengers on board were able to spot the stingray as it went under the boat. We had about an hour of snorkeling time and I went back to the boat a little before that, while Rob and Jas were the last few to come back in. Rob actually had to coerce Jasmine to go back. There was a huge container of fresh water on board and man, did it taste sweet after swallowing all that saltwater!

After the excursion, we hung out at the port and browsed some of the shops. Rob and I split a Caybrew, a local beer, and Jas got some sweets at the It’s Sugar sweet shoppe. Snorkeling took a lot out of all of us and we ended up taking a 3 hour nap. We were even late for dinner. Not a problem though since we opted for anytime dining.

Day 5 brings us to our last port of call: Ocho Rios, Jamaica. We initially planned on just winging our visit to Jamaica and not taking on an excursion. The night before, Rob was watching the Cruise Director on the closed circuit TV talk about Jamaica and the various recommended activities and it convinced him to look into the excursions for us; a warning about the aggressive shopkeepers was one of the factors. Lucky thing he did, because the two activities we did in Jamaica during this excursion were worthy of filling the bucket list.

Our adventure began with a climb of the famous Dunn’s River Falls (http://www.dunnsriverfallsja.com/). I don’t think any of us really knew what we were in for. We just knew that Dunn’s River Falls was the thing to do while in Ocho Rios. Since we didn’t have internet access, we couldn’t do much research on the subject. First, you have to rent plastic, non-skid shoes because the rocks at the falls are very slippery. You are assigned a guide (in our case it was two) and a videographer who riles you up and gets you excited about the climb. You are given a preview of the falls, but the preview doesn’t give you the full extent of how steep the falls get.

It is a 600 ft, action packed, aggressive, one hour climb of the falls. To climb it, you have to hold hands with the person ahead of you and behind you, for symbiotic support of each other. You may think you are macho enough to not hold onto anyone, but you will change your mind rather quickly once you start to ascend. Those rocks are very slippery, and the rushing waters are very strong. At one point we were in one of the many pools that make up the falls and I was being dragged away on the strong current. And, the water is cold! It is a very exhilarating climb, and you and the other tourists climbing the falls will form a sudden bond that only survivors of a similar event share. If you are ever in Ocho Rios, I highly recommend this excursion. The falls are beautiful, and there are natural indentations in the rocks that provide for a slide feature, numerous pools, and even indents where you can put your head in and the rushing waters envelope your face, which makes for interesting pictures. Because you are pretty much always trying not to slip on the rocks or carried away by the rushing waters, Rob didn’t get to take too many pictures. I couldn’t hold the camera because I didn’t have any pockets. Just as well, because I don’t think I would’ve been able to capture more pics than he did.

Although the climb of the falls was aggressive, the shopkeepers we encountered in the Dunns River Falls park were even more aggressive. All of them wanted to talk to you, get your attention, shake your hand, and then lead you into their shop. It was really off putting, especially since we are always up for browsing for souvenirs. After such an exhilarating experience of the falls, the experience with the aggressive shopkeepers was a downer.

Our next Jamaican adventure was the Dolphin Encounter at the Dolphin Cove.

The cove itself is beautiful. It is a private resort, housing dolphins, sharks, stingrays, birds, and iguanas.

The dolphins are sweet. This one in particular kept coming back to us while we were waiting for our tour to start, just to check us out.

Our guide here taught us the sign language for “kiss,” “sing,” and “jump.” We were then lead to our dolphin, Alex. Alex was a 5 year old female baby dolphin. She was so sweet and her skin was very soft. We never pet a dolphin before, so this was an awesome adventure for us, and like I said earlier, an item for our bucket list. The encounter with our dolphin only lasted 20 minutes though, too short for dolphin lovers like us. But there was more of the cove to see and explore.

Rob can’t pass by a cat without petting it, even though there were a number of signs posted saying not to pet the cats. This one swatted at him, and of course he had to take a pic to record the offender. Looks pretty harmless in this pic.

We went up the hill to visit the bird sanctuary. There was a really nice lady attendant manning the sanctuary and she took these pics of us with the birds.

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Next we visited Charles the Iguana.

Which reminds me, if you ever go to one of these places, be sure to have lots of tip money on hand. It is expected that you tip anyone and everyone that you encounter who does something for you (dolphin instructor, dolphin sign language teacher, bird sanctuary attendant, lizard caretaker, etc.) .

Day 6 – Fun Day at Sea

We concluded our trip with a Fun Day at Sea. We spent lots of time at the pool – we woke up, had breakfast, then hung out at the pool from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.! We normally wouldn’t be there for that long, but I mean, they had a beach ball! All kidding aside, it is amazing what a simple thing like a beach ball can offer in terms of hours of fun for all ages. Jasmine and  two other girls actually started the whole ruckus. They were given the beach ball and before you know it, everyone at the pool area was in on the fun, whether they liked it or not. The adults also got to play Sharks and Minnows, in which you start out with one or two sharks and the rest of the participants are minnows. The sharks go about catching one minnow each and every captured minnow becomes a shark. As expected when you combine a pool full of adults who have been drinking: it got a bit rough. But it was all in great fun. We also fit in a round of mini golf and Harry Potter trivia in between the pool time. The view from the mini golf course was awesome (but not captured in a pic). We thought we would ace the Harry Potter trivia, since we have seen all the movies more than once and are all reading Harry Potter right now (Rob is on book 2, Jas and I are on book 3). But sadly, the questions were pretty hard core. We all only got 10 points each out of 30.

One final thing to mention about the ship. We had a landmark on the ship to let us know we were going the right way for the Lido Deck buffet.

We called her “the butt crack lady” or just “butt crack” for short. We thought we were pretty hilarious with our inside joke, but overheard a lady say, “I always know I’m going the right way when I see the a**.”

And that concludes the rather long synopsis of our Western Caribbean cruise. Counting down the days until our next one 🙂

Have you gone on a cruise? What adventures are you looking forward to experiencing?

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