Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Cruise Story, Part 1: All for fun and fun for all!

We boarded our Carnival Fun Ship in Galveston, Texas on June 21st.

We were so ready for a little R&R!!! As soon as we stepped onto the ship, we put the long lines, a little suitcase incident, the Texas heat, work, emails, and cell phones behind us. It was smooth sailing from here on out!

Immediately upon entering the ship, we were offered a cute little drink- you know the ones with the pineapple and cherry with the umbrella. Who could resist that?!?! It was the “Fun Drink!” Then, the guy asked us to sign our room number for these cute little pricey drinks.

Next, we were approached to sign up for our Fun Fountain Card. We needed that to get sodas or juice while we were on the ship. Only one drink per person and you had to pay a flat rate for the whole week.

We were starting to see that FUN meant $$$$!!! But that’s okay, just know that before you go. We were a little annoyed at times, but determined not to let that ruin our “all inclusive” vacation cruise!

The first few days, we were at sea. We laid out by the pool, read some books (I read 6 total on the trip, Jeremy 1 ½), worked out, took naps, ate, ate and ate some more. It was so weird not having our cell phones or checking on emails. But it was NICE!

I'll just go ahead and insert my disclaimer here. Unfortunately, when 2 people go on a cruise, most of the pictures are of the 2 of them and water. We do have the occasional picture when we tracked down a fellow cruise passenger and begged them to take our picture. But most are done by us. Feel free to scroll quickly through all of the standard pics!

This was a pic on the self-timer!

On one of our nights at sea, we chose the option of upgrading to the fancy restaurant. We had fillet and lobster. It was delicious!

Then, we had this chocolate assortment for dessert. Yum!!!

Our cruise was off to a great start as we headed for Jamaica!!!

Cruise Story, Part 2: Hot, hot, hot!

The beautiful Jamaica was our first stop. Our excursion was to the Dunn’s River Falls. We took about a 2 hour bus ride to Ocho Rios. We saw lots of different areas in Jamaica.

Some say the Dunn's River Falls are the 8th world wonder. I'm not sure, but you can see what you think from our pictures!

It was sad to see so much poverty there. A lot of the homes were just pieced together with scraps- our tour guide told us that many of the little “houses” don’t have water or electricity.

It was hard to think about our cruise ship and the vast quantity of food that is prepared and thrown away each day. There was a very clear line or literally, barrier wall, between the fancy, extravagant resorts and the true countryside of Jamaica. I wasn’t able to take many pictures, since I left my digital camera on the ship and only had the disposable water camera.

We stopped along the way at a little roadside store for some jerk chicken and it was amazing!!! Far better than anything we ate aboard our ship.

The falls were very pretty. Overall, it was a little too crowded, but I’m glad we did it. A guide helped us navigate the steep, slippery rocks. Another guide went with us to video tape everything. He told us in Jamaica they say everything three times. How are you? Good, good, good! And when the camera was on us, we said hot, hot, hot!

At times, the water was a little cool.

You can see the crowds of people behind us and there were just as many in front!

These pictures show how steep and slippery the rocks were. It was hard not to fall at times. All of the tourists wore water shoes, but the guides were all barefoot.

After completing the falls, it was time to get back on our ship.

We took a few more pictures of Jamaica from our balcony.

Cruise Story, Part 3: Chicken of the Sea

Our excursion in the Caymans was a kayaking trip. This trip was a little more Jeremy and a little less me. But I really tried to be a good sport about it!

We took a very short drive to the kayak area and left all our things in our guides car (crossed our fingers that it was safe). And we paired up and got into our kayaks. Our guide let us know that more than couple decided to end things after going on his kayaking expedition.

This is the most expensive home on the island- I think the bus driver said it's worth about $7 million.

This is the oldest private residence on the island- I wish I could remember the year. But I already forgot!

The water in the Caymans was like no other. It was so clear- it was unbelievable!

Our guide said that the person in the front of the kayak was the leader and the person in the 2nd seat should follow the lead. Don’t think I didn’t remind Jeremy of that more than once on our expedition!

Things were going pretty good. We were near the shore, looking at the trees and in the distance, we could see the storm headed our way. We tied our kayaks together and within just a few minutes, it was pouring down rain. It wasn't too bad, since we all had swimsuits on, but the cold rain pelting down on us was not the best time of the trip. The rain passed after about 10 minutes and we kayaked out to a little barge/ dock type thing.

We tied our kayaks up and the guide passed out snorkeling gear. Let's just say snorkeling is not on my list of things to do . . . ever. I just don't want to do it. It wasn't a big deal- I relaxed on the dock and Jeremy snorkeled with everyone else.

While we were on the dock, our guide started telling us a funny story about something that happened on a previous excursion. Something about an octopus falling out of a large shell and getting stuck onto a girl's foot. Naturally, she was hysterical.

Unknowingly, as our guide told the story- he tipped Jeremy off to a new phrase for me. The hysterical girl didn't want to go snorkeling or get into the water at all, so the guide referred to her as- Chicken of the Sea. Jeremy thought this was hilarious and referred to me as the Chicken of the Sea for the remainder of our kayaking.

Don't we look like pros?!?! It was a really fun trip, but my arms were definitely sore after all that paddling (you know, as the leader).

One more note- I realize that I am the only person with a life jacket on (the only person in our group). You can never be too careful! Safety first!

We look rough in this next pic- a day of kayaking in the sun wore us out!

We were ready to shower and get ready for a fabulous dinner!

Cruise Story, Part 4: Adios Amigos!

Our final port visit was to Cozumel, Mexico. Like the others, it was also very beautiful with crystal blue waters. I was most excited about our excursion in Mexico and I had been looking forward to it all week!

A cooking class!!! A Mexican Cuisine Cooking Class and Tasting! My favorite things: vacation, Jeremy, cooking, and Mexican food! This excursion was made for me.

Of course, again, we had to take our standard pic!

We arrived at the beach by bus and were taken to this little building with kitchen stations. We were with a really small group, which was nice. Chef Luis introduced himself to us and we got started. He was hilarious!

We began with the dessert, since it had to chill in the fridge for a few hours. It was a rice pudding and cookie combo. We mixed the rice with cream, cinnamon sticks, and sugar.

Here is Jeremy stirring our mixture.

Next, we had to press out some cookies. We didn't get to make the cookie dough, but it was some sort of ginger with lime zest thing.

They took our pressed dough and rice mixture, so they could bake the cookies and chill the rice mixture. We moved on to our main course, which was a fish entree. I believe it was grouper.

We browned both sides of the fish in our skillet. Jeremy got a little wild with some fire. We put our fish on some foil (also a banana leaf) and then, added onions, bell pepper, tomatoes, and olives. We wrapped it up in the foil, so it could be baked.

Next, we got to decorate out entree plates. We had to write our name, so they would know which foil packet belonged to us.

Then, it was time to assemble the desserts. We decorated our dessert plates with a strawberry glaze and a creme sauce.

The appetizer was last. It was a tortilla type thing (not like ours, thicker and a corn flavor). Then, we put on refried beans and a sausage potato mixture. We topped it off with lettuce and decorated the plate with a sour cream sauce.

And finally . . . it was time to EAT. We went to a banquet room upstairs where they had all of our food for us. We started with our appetizer and moved on to the main dish. It was fabulous!!!

We took a picture with Chef Luis! I've already made a very similar fish dish since I have been home using tilapia. Tasty!

After we completed the cooking class, we had a few minutes to hang out on the beach. We walked around a little bit, but decided not to get in the water.

It was time to board our ship for the final time and set sail back to Texas. We were sad that it was ending. Time seemed to fly!

We had another day at sea on Saturday and our ship was to arrive in Galveston at 8am on Sunday morning.

It was our final night to dress up and go to dinner. The food was pretty good, but we were ready for our regular food from home!

And just a little bit, we missed those 2 little white dogs!

All in all, it was a fabulous trip. We had such a fun time and it was so relaxing. Everything that we hoped it would be!!!

Adios Amigos!