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Our Awesome Travels

Our Awesome Travels
Taken In Quartzsite Arizona Dec 7th 2015

Monday, November 17, 2008

Cruise Nov.2008

This posting was done after our 7 day Caribbean Cruise with many pictures and itinerary of some of the daily things that we experienced. -->
Sun Nov. 9th
Cruising
We made our way from Willis to Galveston and the Carnival Cruise Terminal, about a 2 our drive right thru Houston on I-45. It was a Sunday morning so not too much construction and traffic. In the area of the pier we observed some damage and cleanup attempts from Hurricane Ike as well as around the cruise terminal. The process of boarding is well organized but was still about 1 hour for security checks and obtaining room cards and etc. Not bad for 2,974 passengers. We had our luggage with us so went directly to our room and unpacked and were by the pool deck in short order for some refreshment. At 3.30pm was the mandatory fire drill for everyone on the ship. We then made ourselves familiar with our ship. Our Stateroom was on deck 1 the Riviera deck, the many lounges, internet café, restaurants and dinning rooms were on Deck 4 & 5 and 9, 10, 11 & 12 were the pools , hot tubs, waterslides, various eateries including the huge buffets.
We had an early dinner seating at 6.00pm in the Renoir Upper dinning room where we met 2 other couples at our table from Saskatchewan, Canada and Washington State, fellow Coast to Coast Members and Rvers. This is a Coast to Coast Member Appreciation Cruise with about 200 members on this ship. Returning to our room was a Coast to Coast knapsack with some goodies and information for us.
Mon. Nov. 10th
At Sea
We turned our clock ahead 1 hour to keep with the time zones. Up early and grab some coffee in our stateroom while we checked out the days activities that we may wish to do for our first day at sea. About 7.30 am we went to the Lido deck and grabbed a quick bite of fresh fruit and fresh cooked eggs. We then sat by the front lower pool for a while with more coffee before exploring the ships outside decks, was a nice day but very windy. (there is 3 pools and 5 hot tubs, the rear pool has a sliding roof).At 11.00 am there was a seminar about all of the shore excursions available, so many of them!! About noon a huge ice block was brought out by the pool and carved buy a staff member with a hatchet in 12 minutes, he had to work fast so it would not melt. A nice swan. After this was a hairy chest competition that went on for more than an hour, very entertaining along with live music.
At 2.30 pm was our Coast to Coast welcome cocktail party in Henri’s Disco, with snacks and information on a contest somebody will win a free Alaska Cruise buy the end of the week. Following this, stopped at Alfred’s Jazz Bar and the internet café, (check email) then back to our stateroom to relax a bit before changing for our “Cruise Elegant” dress code in the 2 main dining rooms, this is mandatory for these rooms only tonight, but very nice. It’s amazing to see the extravagant tuxes, dresses and gowns. (one woman got honorable mention for the most luggage- 15 suitcases!!!) There is so many other places to eat that are equally good where dress code is casual.
After diner we went to Las Vegas style show of music and dance in the Toulouse Latrec theatre, very nice. Stopping by the casino to test our luck with $1.00 and listen to a nice band for a while on the way. There is so many different lounges and types of entertainment on boat.
Tues. Nov. 11th
at Sea
Today is a much warmer and humid morning at sea today so up to the lido deck for more coffee. Suzie wants to do some reading to day so I can explore the ship some more. The forward decks, running deck mini golf, so many different areas. At 11.00 am is a talk about on shore shopping, quite interesting and informative. We later grabbed a bit of Asian food from one of the many buffets, walked about a bit more then did a Galley tour from the Monet dining room. The Galley has 158 cooks feeding almost 5,000 people 22,600 meals a day!!!! Can you imagine???? The impressive kitchen areas were spotless and everything gleaming stainless steel with a few cooks demonstrating making cake flowers and carving fresh vegetables.
Back by the pool deck to watch some games going on , hula hop and a bean bag train along with more music and reading.
Supper at 6.00pm in the dining room then to the Lido deck again by the forward deck with a band playing Rock and Roll music and dancing, in the moonlight, until the wee hours of the morning. We left at 11.00 as they were setting up a beautiful buffet, we have a tour of Montegoa Bay Jamaica in tomorrow.
Wed. Nov. 12th
Montego Bay Jamaica
We arrived at the pier at (9.00am as scheduled) and proceeded to de-ship and went directly to our tour bus. A nice air conditioned coach (21 seats) as the weather was quite hot and humid. They drive on the left side of the road and as the driver said “the left side is the right side, the right side is suicide!!” We sat next to Russ & Judy from our table in the dining room. Thru town past a KFC ( translated for women as Keep From Cooking or for men as Keep Fat Coming – they like fat women) From here we proceeded to drive 2 hours thru the country side to the Appleton Rum Tour. The trip was amazing, very narrow, bumpy roads winding thru the mountains and many small villages.( almost like a 2 hour roller coaster) Houses and shacks right at the edge of the road or a rock wall or cliff beside you. Many vehicles swerved as we rounded bends and quite close when trucks approached. The driver and tour guide were very friendly and informative, telling stories, jokes and a lot about Jamaica. The driver commented if another vehicle looks too close just close your eyes and when you open them all will be better, no problem! Jamaica is a 3rd World country so not many Jobs, most people live in small shacks that look abandoned, but they have food and everyone gets an education and health care. Minimum wage here is $50.00 US per week if you can get a job. We had a quick rest stop at a service station and back on the road. Gasoline here is about $1.50 a litre Canadian. We arrived at Appleton Estate Rum Tour about 11;30am. Here we sampled some rum punch and did an escorted tour of the facilities. This is a beautifully landscaped estate and has been in operation for over 100 years. We were shown how the original press was operated buy a burro to extract the juice from sugar cane to make then make brown sugar and molasses. This is put thru an extractor to separate these products and then molasses is fermented to make rum. They now produce 46,000 litres a day of rum and age it in oak barrels for 3 to 30 years. We then sampled some pure cane extract and viewed one of 16 aging homes with about 8,400- 45 gallon wooden barrels in each. From here we returned to have lovely buffet of BBQ chicken, rice, squash and desert with a rum sauce, then unlimited samples all of all the rum products produced here. The bus tour back was different route and also quite interesting with narration and some Jamaican music along the way leaving us enough time to return to our ship for a lovely dinner and relax around the pool and listen to some Karaoke, such a beautiful evening, too nice to sit inside the theatre.
Thurs. Nov.13 th
We anchored offshore this morning at 7.00 am and were ready to get on the Tender (small boat ashore) for our 3 hour Best of Cayman Bus tour. We were at the bus by 7.35 am and our driver Mr. Charles was ready to go. We saw the highlights of Georgetown and headed along the coast to 7 mile beach. Past the Governors house on the beach, a condo complex destroyed by a hurricane then to the beach. Beautiful clear blue waters and beach sand that looks and feels like sugar.
From here we went to the Cayman Turtle farm and toured for about 1 hour. There is over 7,000 turtles here and the breeding turtles are huge 350 to 500 lbs, about 15 to 20 years old. We were able to pick up some 2 year old turtles which were quite large. Then we proceeded to sample some Tortuga Caribbean Rum and Rum cake, awesome cake!
Next our tour took us to Hell, Grand Cayman, a small village that is named so because of the landscape here, there is a gift shop and post office , also the weather was very hot and humid, perfect heat for the setting. Fuel prices here were about $5.00 US per gallon for regular gas.
We then proceeded back to the pier past some very large and expensive homes. We then walked about the downtown area and checked out some of the shops, mostly high end- jewelry stores and tax and duty free shops. There is no tax or duty here on Grand Cayman but most things are expensive otherwise.
After a nice lunch on shore with a view the ship and watching people snorkel at the beach, we walked about exploring more, purchased some yummy Rum Cake and returned via tender to our ship. We sat by the pool for a while and enjoyed calypso music and another band and watched some deck games, before going to dinner (Cruise Elegant) so we got dressed up a bit. Awesome again as usual Prime Rib, Lobster, shrimp, escargot, baked Alaska, were our choices this evening. Then walked about the ship for a while and took in the main show in the Toulouse Lautrec Theatre Lounge a nice song and dance show with many colourful costumes and great music. On our way back we checked out the country music in the casino, Blues in the Blues Bar, Easy listening in the lobby and Jazz in Alfred’s Bar. There are so many choices. Later the disco opens at 10:30, a Rat Pack Tribute at 11.30pm, too late for us.
Fri. Nov. 14th
We arrived Cozumel at 10.00am as scheduled and were guided in buy the pilot boat ( tiny compared to our ship) next to the Carnival Valor a sister ship. An ambulance came out the pier to take someone off our ship, I hope they were ok. It is amazing to see all these people going ashore from 2 cruise ships, (about 3,000 people per ship). The cruise season starts at the end of November and there can be as many as 6 cruise ships at a time here!!! We checked out some of the shops on the pier then took a taxi downtown. Walking past all the shops and street vendors was interesting. Picking up a few items and bartering with the Mexicans is fun. We went to Casa Mission restaurant and enjoyed a very inexpensive, delicious Mexican lunch. From here we walked back to the main street and headed towards the cruise ship. The sun, heat and humidity became quite uncomfortable so we grabbed another taxi back to the cruise Terminal (about 5 miles) here we sat by the water at Fat Tuesdays for a refreshment and watched the many passengers heading back to the ship. We returned about 4.00pm and promptly went for a swim in one of the many salt water pools on board. We then went for another delicious dinner in our dining room, and checked out some more activities on board. Country music in the Lobby, a great juggler and comedian in the Toulouse Lautrec lounge, Blues in the Blues Bar and some Karaoke in the Degas Lounge, we even made our donation at the casino while walking by. Another awesome day.
Sat. Nov 15th
Final day at sea
A much cooler day today, windy and overcast and quite large swells on the ocean. They had to empty the forward pools as water was splashing on the deck We had a nice breakfast in the dining room and went to the lounge to listen to the cruise director tell some jokes and information about leaving the ship tomorrow. In the after noon we took in a game show at the lounge and walked about some more, stopping to check email and use up a few minutes on internet time.
At 5.00pm we attended a farewell cocktail party for Coast to Coast, with draws for many prizes including a free Alaska Cruise, but no luck here either. Then a lovely dinner and farewells with our table mates in the dining room. Walk about the decks for a while taking in the sites sounds before retiring for the evening.
Sun. Nov. 16th
Galveston
We are up at 6.30am as our ship is pulling into Galveston Port, I got us some hot coffee to wake up , then have a shower , check the internet , pack up and have our final breakfast on board. Because we did not have to check our luggage, we waited for out deck number to be called to disembark. We make our way to the lobby, and down the gangplank and right thru customs, shuttle bus and we were at our car in the parking lot by 8.15 am. From here we drove thru Galveston’s empty streets. A good job has been done here of cleaning up the debris from IKE, but there was still quite a few boarded up houses. We drove along Seawall Blvd past the devastated State Park past the Community of Jamaica Beach. This is a very high end area of nice homes on stilts that do not look too damaged at first glance. There is a lot of garbage by the roadsides, and machinery moving mountains of sand and debris to reclaim some property and attempt to restore electric and water services to these once beautiful properties. From here we made our way north on I-45 to out coach parked at Castaways RV resort in Willis Texas. Arriving home about noon there was a sign on our door “Welcome Home Yates” a nice touch. We thought is was from Steven & Janice we meet before we left. But find out Rob & Pat from Durham Ontario were parked 2 sites from us, small world and a nice surprise. I went to the grocery store for a few items and good deals to be had, like a 13 lb turkey for .39 cents a pound ($5.00) Wow! Now just to figure out how to cook it in our coach.. Both couples came by later and we chatted a while before supper. Then relax in our own house after an awesome week on the cruise.

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