Tuesday, May 13, 2008

All good things come to an end...

We are back! And boy, did we have an amazing time!! The trip started off with an interesting hotel stay on Miami Beach last Saturday night. The hotel was probably built in the 1950's and hadn't really been updated since then!

The room was small and smelled funny, but we didn't spend that much, so we weren't too worried about it. It was right on the beach though, so the ability to escape to the sand made the stay worthwhile.
We boarded the ship around noon on Sunday and promptly found the buffets (yes, plural) on the Lido Deck. We ate lunch and were able to get into our rooms around 1:30pm. From there, we just spent time exploring our home away from home until dinner. Monday, our 3 year anniversary, Tyler and I got up to watch the sunrise as we docked in Nassau.

It was really beautiful. We spent the day snorkling at Paradise Island (several movies have been filmed here, including one James Bond). The beach was GORGEOUS and had very few tourists, so we had a huge stretch of sand all to ourselves.
The water was beautiful, and we did see some marine life, but there weren't a whole lot of fish too look at. We had to be back on the ship by 1:30pm, so it was a short stay in Nassau. Monday night brought the first of two "formal" nights on board. We (read: "I") had fun dressing up and looking fancy.
Tuesday was our first "fun day at sea" and we spent the time reading books on deck, playing mini-golf, eating (of course), and napping. It was a very relaxing day. Our stop in St. Thomas was Wednesday. It was a nice little island, if not a little dirty. My inlaws said it reminded them a lot of Kenya. We shopped in the morning (supposedly St. Thomas is GREAT for shopping, but we did not have any luck at all!!), and ended up kinda depressed because we didn't find any good deals. The afternoon made up for the disappointing morning, though, as we snorkled at Coki Beach. It was a little crowded, but the underwater world totally made up for it! We saw (and touched) an octopus that was swimming along which was pretty cool. We also saw several squid, lots of tropical fish, a pretty large fish (I don't know what it was), a small sea turtle, and lots of coral. It was so fun to just float along the top of the ocean and take a peek at everything teeming underneath me. So, like I said, the snorkling definitely brought up my opinion of St. Thomas. Thursday brought our day at St. Maarten, and also, our first SCUBA dive without an instructor!! I was a little nervous, as we had only done shore dives (walk out into the water with all your gear on and then descend to your desired depth, then ascend and swim back in and walk up the shore), and this was a boat dive (ride out into the ocean and step off a platform with all your gear on and descend to your desired depth, then ascend and climb up a boat ladder with all your gear on and ride back). I would love to say my "giant stride" into the deep was graceful and professional, but really I basically just face-planted and then recovered nicely. The dive itself was absolutely stunning. It felt like we were swimming around in a huge swimming pool (the water was 79 degrees) and there just happened to be fish living in it. We didn't see too much life the first dive, but what we did see was cool. A medium sized tuna fish, brightly-colored tropical fish, and lots of coral. I just can't even describe the feeling of being under 60 feet of water, perfectly able to breathe, and just hanging out as a fish swims by your mask. Once the dive was over, we took a ride to another dive spot that was much calmer (the first site was very rough and several people ended up not being able to relax enough to get down, and so didn't dive and ended up getting seasick as they waited on the boat for the rest of us to finish). This site had a sunken submarine and a fishing boat that we were able to penetrate. It was pretty cool seeing these old structures just rusting away under the ocean. Lots of fish were using them as shelter, and we were able to get some up-close-and-personal time with an 18 inch puffer fish. :) Our dive guide kinda showed us the ropes for a few minutes at this site and then let us wander and go explore where we wanted. The visibility wasn't as great there (only about 30ft as opposed to 100ft at the first site), but it was still soooo fun! Once that dive was over, we rode the boat back to the dive shop and then filled out our divelogs...we are now in the green pages (the 2nd level of divers)!! We went back to the ship for lunch and then Tyler and Jerry (my father-in-law) went back to the same spot to snorkle, and Jeannie (my mother-in-law) and I went shopping. We had much better luck at St. Maarten and came home with several shirts, a necklace, and a few other odds and ends. One cool thing about St. Maarten was that instead of taking a cab everywhere, they had "water taxis" that you paid a flat rate and got to ride as much as you wanted all day. Friday was another "fun day at sea" and we spent alot of the day reading again, and went to several activities onboard. It was also our 2nd "formal" night so we got to dress up again (Tyler was "thrilled" but he played nice). Saturday was our final day on the ship (*sob*) but the day was full of onboard activities including (but not limited to): the newlywed game, learning how to fold towels into animal shapes, and the galley tour (that's the kitchen for all you non-sailors). We kept busy, but not overly-so. It was a lovely way to end the cruise. The food was great the whole time. I'll just give you some examples of the fine dining we experienced: duck, lobster, prime rib, filet mignon, red snapper, rack of lamb, pork chops, salmon, and shrimp. Those were all main courses and of course, they had fancier names on the menu, but you get the idea. Some appetizers included shrimp cocktail, lots of yummy soups, escargo, smoked duck, and sushi. The desserts were also pretty decent :), and consisted of baked alaska, cherries jubilee, cappucino pie, tiramisu, and my personal favorite, warm chocolate melting cake! I seriously had this cake every night of the cruise. It's nice and cake-y on the outside, and the inside is like hot fudge. With vanilla ice cream, you just couldn't beat it! We liked it so much, we came home and found the recipe for it online, and I have the batter sitting in my fridge as I write this, just waiting to be baked in individual serving portions! As for the entertainment on board, Carnival really did a pretty good job. None of us were really thrilled with the singing/dancing shows, but there were comedians several nights that kept us laughing. Jerry was very into karaoke, and we sat through a few pretty terrible renditions of Elvis and Elton John to humor him. :) We also watched a movie on deck one night, which was pretty fun. I am quite sure I'm forgetting things, but this post is monstrous. Just ask if you want to know any more!! I would HIGHLY recommend going on a cruise to ANYONE! There is something to do for any age and life stage. Oh, I just remembered a detail: there was a group on board called "Santa on Vacation" that was made up of about 60 "santas." It seemed every time we turned a corner, we were face to face with old St. Nick himself. Made things interesting anyway...


I just included a snapshot of the pictures I took...if you'd like to see the whole trip, you can go to these three links (you don't actually have to sign up for facebook to see the pictures).






4 comments:

Our Four Kids said...

What a blast, Gillian! You did a great job writing about your trip, so much so, that I really want to go now! You guys look so spiffy dressed up and so cute in your dive outfits! I'm so glad you had a great time!

theturnerfam said...

Looks like it was a lovely vacation!

Heather said...

so fun to read about! Thanks for updating. The Santas on Vacation made me laugh.

bro said...

All I wanna know is... how much shrimp/lobster/prime rib did Ty eat?