Thursday, March 31, 2011

Caribbean Cruise: Day 5-7

Day 5: Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
By day 5, we both woke up feeling much better.  My double motion sickness patches were working wonders and Chris' eye felt better, although it still looked pretty red.  We were excited to get out to Grand Cayman where we had planned a Stingray and Sea Turtle encounter.  We met our tour group and took a short bus ride to the marina to catch our boat.  We had a 30 minute boat ride out to a shallow sand bar that is called "Stingray City" where hundreds of wild stingrays gather to be fed by the tourists.  We had a AWESOME time and loved interacting with these neat creatures.  We took photos of us kissing the stingrays (we were told that it brings 7 years of good luck!) and having them draped over our backs (which the guides called giving a back massage).  Our guide was a little crazy and kept licking the stingray tails and barbs.  After about an hour with the rays, we took the boat back to the marina.  Just as we were pulling back into the marina, it started to rain.  We got back on the bus and took another short ride to the Grand Cayman Turtle Farm.  They raise green sea turtles for release, education, and market.  They let us hold some teensy weensy 4 month old sea turtles and then some larger 8 month old sea turtles.  But the best part was the huge salt water snorkel tank where we got to snorkel with some adult sea turtles.  Since we missed out on snorkeling with the sea turtles in Hawaii, we were really excited to get to swim alongside these awesome guys.  After our excursion, we had about an hour and a half to spend in Georgetown before we needed to be back on the boat.  Chris was really excited to hit Margaritaville, so we ate our lunch there and Chris had a Landshark beer.  We had just enough time to buy our souvenir magnet before we got in line to get back on board the boat.  That evening was supposed to be another formal night, but we were too exhausted from the excursion to get ourselves dressed up for dinner.  So we stayed casual and just ate at the buffet.  The evening show that night was Lady Hellevi, the magician.  She was an amazing acrobat with so-so "magic" involving a lot of box tricks.  The overall show was very entertaining.

Day 6: Cozumel, Mexico
We actually woke up before our boat docked in Cozumel.  So, while we were eating breakfast, we got to watch our captain skillfully bring a 110,000 ton ship into a narrow parking space.  We actually docked right next to a twin ship, the Carnival Valor.  Our excursion didn't meet until 11 a.m. so we had about an hour to explore the port shopping in Cozumel.  The port shopping is pretty awesome with a beautiful, clean shopping center right at the end of the dock.  We met our excursion group and they quickly got us fitted with life jackets and safety harnesses and loaded onto our Aqua Twister power boats.  Then we took off into the ocean, jumping waves at 50-60 miles per hour.  Near the end of our trip, the captain found a smooth lagoon area where he would get up to a high speed and then turn sharply, swamping our boat in water -- SO much fun.  We couldn't stop smiling!  Our destination was a private island called Isla Passion, where we were looking forward to spending the afternoon on a pristine white sand beach with unlimited access to a Mexican buffet and open bar!  The island was certainly beautiful.  It's actually the island where those Corona beer commercials are filmed.  The food was OK (not exactly the Mexican food we were hoping for) and Chris did take advantage of the bar to have a couple of beers and margaritas.... but the real draw was the peaceful sandy beach.  We took a lot of pictures and enjoyed just getting to relax.  We rode the Twister boats back to Cozumel with only about 45 minutes before we needed to be back on the boat.  Chris and I decided to do some speed shopping for souvenirs and were pleasantly surprised to find that most of the stores had marked items down to 50% off for the end of the shopping day.  We were really happy to go home with this very cool fish sculpture at a reasonable price and a sombrero for Ledger!  We both wished we'd have had more time to explore Cozumel.  Back on the boat, we had buffet dinner followed by the musical review called "Point and Click".  It was entertaining, but Chris found the "mouse" character creepy and I couldn't take my eyes off of the jerry curl man mullet on the lead singer.  We decided to see the new comedian's "adult" show, which was surprisingly good.  I enjoyed my first on-board drink, a virgin "Miami Vice" and Chris had a margarita.  We even hit the casino and played the Roulette table for a while.  We lost $12 but got about an hour's worth of entertainment out of it! :)  I am not a very good gambler, so I just stood by Chris' shoulder while he placed the bets.

Day 7: Fun Day at Sea
We really didn't know what to do with ourselves on our last day on the ship.  We lounged around, laid out (with LOTS of sunscreen this time), played Bingo (but didn't win the $10,000 grand prize), paid our bills, ate frozen yogurt... Yeah, that's about it.  The evening show was kinda like live karoke where some of our shipmates got on stage and did "impressions" of famous singers.  I was amazed at how great a couple of them were.  We spent the evening packing our bags and went to bed a little early so that we could get up and try to disembark early.

Day 8: Disembarkation
We woke up at 6 a.m. and went to eat breakfast and start the disembarkation process.  We dragged all of our bags down to the lounge and waited to be called.  They started disembarking passengers at 7:30 a.m. and we were off the ship, through customs, back at our car, and driving away by 8:20 a.m.  Not too shabby!  We drove 750 miles back home and made it to Lindsborg by 7:30 p.m. -- early enough to pick up Ledger before bed time!  We sure did miss that little bugger!  He had a great time with Oma and Dooda though!  We were surprised to find it snowing when we got home -- considering we were both sunburned and wearing shorts and t-shirts, it was quite a culture shock!!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Our Caribbean Cruise: Day 1-4

For spring break, Chris and I drove 750 miles to Galveston, Texas and took a cruise through the Caribbean on the Carnival Conquest.  I had prepared to write big, long, daily posts about everything.  Instead, I'm going to give brief summaries and lots of pictures. :)

Day 1: Embarkation
Our ship was delayed almost 2 hours getting into port due to fog.  Since we arrived early to try to beat the lines,  we ended up sitting in a holding pen for a couple of hours before we were able to get on the ship.  Once on board, we hit the buffet and found ourselves a nice seat to people watch and listen to the live musicians on the Lido deck.  After the standard "what to do in an emergency" spiel, we left the port around 5:00 and headed out to sea.  We ate our first dinner in the Renoir dining room and then explored the ship. Afterwards we went to the "Welcome Aboard" song and dance show.  After the show, we found lounge chairs on the Lido deck and watched the move "The Last Airbender" on the big movie screen outdoors.  At the end of the movie, Chris had a late-night burger for snack and I had a banana.  We discovered that there were certain areas of the boat that I really couldn't be in because the vibrations really increased my motion sickness. When we finally headed to bed, I crashed immediately but Chris had some difficulty sleeping.

Day 2: Fun Day at Sea
I actually woke up and hit the ship's gym.  I did 20 minutes on the treadmill, which was a challenge -- probably a combination of missing my last few workouts and motion sickness.  After showering, we headed to the breakfast buffet.  Chris ate well, but I was too nauseous to eat much more than fruit.  Then we found a pair of lounge chairs... one in the shade for Chris and one in the sun for me... where we just relaxed for a few hours.  There was a strong STRONG wind across the deck which helped keep me cool.  Unfortunately, it kept me so cool that I didn't realize how burned I was getting.  After lunch, we went back to the stateroom for a nice long nap. :)  That evening was one of the ship's formal nights, so we got dressed up for dinner in the dining room.  Unfortunately, neither Chris or I are adventurous enough to try any of the exotic foods -- we had prime rib and chicken.  I still couldn't eat.  We went to see the comedian, Mutzie.  He was OK, but not great.  The cruise entertainers did a song and dance show called "Voila Paris" which involved some crazy sets and costumes.  The show was pretty good, but there was a lot of rockin and rollin' on the boat, so I was having trouble enjoying the show because I was concentrating on not puking.  That evening, we went to enjoy the outdoor movie theater again and watched Iron Man 2.  Unfortunately, I just couldn't make it all the way through the movie and finally had to go back to the room to sleep away my motion sickness.

Day 3: Fun Day at Sea
Chris woke up with increased respiratory symptoms and a very red left eye.  He wasn't feeling great and I was feeling super sunburned, so we both wanted to just lay low for the day.  I finally bit the bullet and decided to add a second transdermal motion sickness patch to try to get a grip on my nausea.  When Chris still had a red eye at the end of the day, we went to the ship's medical center to get some over-the-counter eye drops.  It was an early evening for us.

Day 4: Montego Bay, Jamaica
Chris woke up with super pink eye.  We made the decision to see the doctor as soon as the medical center opened.  So while most of our shipmates were getting off the ship to venture into Jamaica, we were sitting in the doctor's waiting room.  Chris was officially diagnosed with pink eye and placed on ophthalmic antibiotics. Since we hadn't planned an excursion on Jamaica, we only ventured onto land to check out the shops in the Mo Bay cruise terminal.  For the rest of the day, we took advantage of having an empty boat at our disposal. We did a video tour of the boat, enjoyed some live music, and relaxed in peace.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Snow Boy!

As promised, Ledger and I went out and played in the snow this morning.  It's a good thing we did because there is not much snow left this evening.  We had a great time.  Ledger shoveled lots of snow... mostly right into his mouth.  He loves to eat the "ice".  Mommy snapped a ton of pictures, so enjoy...

And this is what happened when I tricked him into coming into the garage and shutting the door.  He was not ready to come inside just yet, and I got a full force tantrum in the garage...

... and it continued into the living room once we got inside.

How do you tell a 2-year-old that "all good things must come to an end"?