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!!