Saturday, 28 June 2003: Our final day at sea before we dock back in Tampa tomorrow. Katie and I just spent the day sunning ourselves a little bit more and checking out some more of the boat. We also spent some time reading (she's reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix while I'm reading Dune).
Dinner was great, but we had to say goodbye to Nino. It would be our last time with him serving as and we are already missing him. Zuzana we get to see one last time tomorrow for breakfast, so we can deal with the goodbyes separately.
We decided to play bingo one last time tonight primarily because this is the night they are giving away a free cruise. Did we win? Of course not. Small stuff like T-shirts we can win with no problem. Big stakes prizes like cruises will always avoid us like the plague. Go fig, eh?
After bingo was the final show on the boat. We hadn't gone to any of the previous shows that they've put on other than the late night uncensored comedian routine and we are now seeing why. This show was horrible. I don't even want to go into details it's so painful.
Oh, and tonight's flick was Chasing Papi. I gave it a chance and I paid for it. No review as I didn't quite catch the whole thing. Sorry.
Friday, 27 June 2003: Today was the day that I was most looking forward to before the trip... our day in Belize City, Belize.
Yet, I walked away quite disappointed.
For one, the time ashore was a mere three or four hours which doesn't really let you explore anywhere of significance. Second, the pier they drop you off at really is only a quarter mile square of basic shops. Third, the rest of the area immediately surrounding this pier just didn't look particularly inviting. I'm sure there are some great areas to Belize, we just weren't in them. I was told by one of the families that went ashore apart from us, that they ventured just a little bit further in and saw a giant iron gate with barbed wire around the top and tons of villagers on the other side yelling to vacationers to come over and buy stuff from them. Hmm... if I wasn't interested in what they were pushing in Mexico, what are the odds I'm gonna jump all over it in Belize?
The most interesting of these shops was a pharmacy where you can buy tons of prescription drugs over the counter without a prescription and exceptionally cheap as well. Wow. They clearly advertise many of these and even keep several right on the shelf so you can just pick them up to pay for them. Katie was sitting there pointing out all the ones that they keep behind the counter at her Walgreen's.
We went back out to the boat after only about an hour or an hour and a half. I was really upset about this experience. I'd still like to go back to the country some time, just not as part of a cruise.
So, Katie and I worked out and read our books a little while sunning and left for the formal dinner. Just before the dinner, we tried to get a group photo taken on the grand staircase of all 44 of us. Rather daunting task. In the initial cut of the photo, I wound up being cut out of it for sake of cropping. How fun is that? So, they had to recut the photo to an odd size so I wasn't cut out.
There was also a midnight buffet that was incredible not because of the food, but because of the presentation of said food. I took a ton of pix and will soon get those up here on the site. You might have to wait until this weekend, though.
Tonight's movie was The Banger Sisters... yuck. Never wanted to see it nor do I plan to waste valuable cruise time doing so.
Thursday, 26 June 2003: Our second day in Mexico -- this time in Cozumel -- and the storms that the weather forecasters have been saying should have been with us the whole time on this cruise have finally caught up to us. It poured here. Not just some quickie little shower either. It started and almost never let up. The streets were flooded and, yet, cabbies still drove through with no care whatsoever.
We started in one shopping area near the pier where we docked. Then we took a cab into the city's central area to get some food and shop some more. I felt like I was back in the States. Burger King, Subway, you name it. This entire area is so Americanized, it's not even funny. Pretty depressing actually.
Katie and I went with her brother Scott and his girlfriend Liz and her mother to Carlos & Charlie's for lunch. Fun place. I was at one in Cancun a long time ago. Biggest difference being that I can now drink. Well, while I was sitting there waiting for my food, the servers decided to test that. They came up behind me and slipped a giant brown paper bib over my head and tilted my head back. Then, while one guy polished my forehead and receding hairline, the other poured away into my mouth. Downed it all, baby. No spills whatsoever. Everyone else we saw had to stop or they spit some up. No problems here. As for food, Katie ordered an enchilada that really had no kick whatsoever and I got a chicken molcajete which is kinda fajita like in that you build it on soft shell tortillas. It came with the chicken (duh) as well as a white rice, beans, cheese sticks, and sauce. Pretty good.
That night, however, was when we really felt the storm. Everyone was stumbling around the ship because of how it was rocking. Made moving kinda uncomfortable. But Katie and I were rocked to sleep like babies. Quite nice, indeed.
The day's movie was Pool Hall Junkies which was one I wanted to see in theaters bust was in such limited release because it's an indie that I never got around to it. I didn't watch the whole thing while it was on the TV, but what I saw I liked.
Wednesday, 25 June 2003: We spent a few hours today in Costa Maya, Mexico. This was truly a little rinky dink village in the middle of nothing. Or, maybe that was just the port area and we just aren't given enough time to check out everything thoroughly. All it was is a bunch of typical touristy shops with the standard fare of little trinkets and blankets and hats and shotglasses, etc., etc., ad infinitum. So we checked out the shops until we just couldn't take it anymore and went on the one area of beach nearby that actually had sand. I made the damn fool mistake of trying to go in the water. It starts of with pretty nice sand which then becomes relatively smooth yet unstable pebbles. This gives way to huge rock formations that have all the nooks and crannies and points and edges that you'd expect on the great barrier reef and can do a number to your feet unless you're wearing steel-toed boots. I tore up my right big toe and bruised the ball of my foot when the undercurrent pulled me one way and the tide forced me the other. Ouch.
Today's movie was something I've never heard of before and is obviously kinda dated... Triggerman. Never bothered watching it at all. And, no comedian. Dammit.
Tuesday, 24 June 2003: Today was our first trip into a foreign port on Grand Cayman. God, this place is beautiful. However, we didn't really get to experience too much of it as we took an excursion our to Stingray City to swim with the rays. That was a blast. They just swim up to you and "cuddle" up against you. Hell, they're friendlier than dogs and cats. And there were hundreds of them everywhere. We were able to feed them raw squid which, I'm sure, is why they're so friendly.
With the little time that we did have in George Town, Katie bought her first pair of Oakleys. Usually, she just buys cheapie sunglasses that fall apart after a few months. I can count over half a dozen pairs that she's had just in the few years we've been together. So, she promised to take care of these and keep them in their Ballistic case so they won't be damaged. Now she's got good ones and already they're paying off in that she didn't get any migraine headaches like she usually does from the sun. God bless polarized lenses.
Oh, and today's featured movie is Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.
We also went to another midnight comedian. Not nearly as good as last night's show. But decent all the same.
Monday, 23 June 2003: This was just a day at sea on the way to Grand Cayman and that's a pretty good thing considering Katie and I slept through half of it... literally.
We were both so tired that when we crashed the night before, we crashed hard. When I finally woke up to go to the bathroom, it felt like it was still 5 a.m. So I grabbed my watch to go in the bathroom and look at it (since we were in an inner room, we had no window to catch sunlight and, therefore, a sense of time). And, yes, our room did not have a clock. So, I checked my watch and discovered it was 11:30. Yowza! We woke up pretty quick to take advantage of what little day we had left.
This included actually watching all of Just Married (now the secondary movie -- they have two movie channels on board, one is primary while the other is secondary) which wasn't an entirely terrible flick all things considered. We also went to lunch, went out tanning on the deck, worked out in the gym, caught a little more sleep, and went to a cocktail hour with the captain just before the first of two formal dinners. After dinner, we played some euchre and went to see a comedian named Tony Esposito. He was absolutely hilarious. We also caught some snippets of the movie Daredevil.
Even though we were only awake half the day, we still got in quite a bit. And walking the length of the hallways as well as taking stairs instead of elevators is proving to be quite a workout.
Sunday, 22 June 2003: Today, we left the hotel for the boat. We sailed with Carnival Cruise Lines on their Inspiration Fun Ship (little did I know that "Fun Ship" translates to thousands of little tykes and teenagers running, screaming, whining, and all that jazz). This discovery was just the start of things to come.
We took a hotel shuttle and, since there were so many of us in this portion of the group (25 in all), we had to be driven in waves. Katie and I were in a van with many of the teens in the group along with one other set of parents. What ticked me off about this was not the kids, but the parents. What you're supposed to do is tip people as they help you. Both drivers and the luggage handlers at the pier. They did neither. I gave what I could, but these two jags just bolted leaving us high and dry. Neither the driver nor the bellcap were any too happy with us. What the hell could I do? I only had enough singles on me to cover Katie and I. Not the whole group of 10.
So, the bellcap takes off with our luggage to the waiting room. Little did we know that we had the carry-on bag for Katie's parents that contained the tickets for the ship. So Paul (her dad) had to run around and find the bag amidst all the other load-on bags. It took a little while, but he found it. Would you consider this jinxed yet? No?
Well, when we found our room, we discovered that we (being Katie and I) were at the opposite end of the hallway from almost everyone else in our group including her family. And these are not just some small hallways. This thing had to be nearly an eighth of a mile long and I'm not exaggerrating here, either.
As for the rooms, I gotta tell you, living in these "staterooms" is like being back in college just with your own mini bathroom. They are tiny, cramped, dark (we didn't have an outside room with a porthole), oddly furnished, etc. You get the point.
Okay, enough griping. It was a vacation after all. So, as for the good stuff... we did have our first dinner and it was pretty good. Our waiter for the week was named Nino and he rocked. Simply put. He was just this really cool Philippino guy who got to know us so well, he could practically guess what we were going to order. Along with him was our drink girl named Zuzana who was from Slovakia (she doubled as our waiter for breakfast and lunch). She was always there to fill my water. Very cool.
That night, we went to play bingo and, by that time, I was so tired, I fell asleep just after the game ended and the live comedian began. Nothing like having your audience fall asleep to dishearten you as a performer. Luckily I was in the upper deck so I doubt I was noticed.
Throughout the day, a TV station hosted by the ship was showing the movie Just Married with Ashton Kutcher and Brittany Murphy. I caught snippets of it when I could.