Wednesday, July 15, 2015

7 Day Western Caribbean Cruise

I have had a few requests to write about my cruise, so here you go! :) 

In May, I went on a cruise with one of my best friends, Clarissa!  You may remember Clarissa from her 30th birthday party in November.   We travelled to the Caribbean on the Royal Caribbean cruise line for 7 days, stopping in Cozumel, Belize, and Roatan.  For more pictures, go here!

I was worried that I would get bored on a ship for 7 days, but by the end of it I was ready to make it my full time residence.  We set sail from Galveston, which is only a 30 minute ride from where I live.   Clarissa had driven down the night before and stayed the night. My aunt was in town for Mother’s Day and offered to take us to the cruise terminal.  We were standing in line and all we saw were couples! Clarissa said she hoped that all the cute guys were running late or already on the ship. Haha.  As the week went by, we learned that there were no cute guys. Whomp Whomp Whomp.  Apparently Carnival is the party cruise line but when we were booking it, we didn’t know this.  Not that we wanted to party, but it would have been fun to at least have someone to hang out with.
We checked in to our room and explored the ship.  We went to a few seminars to try and win free stuff (spa and fitness centers have tours to get you to buy their products throughout the week), but we didn’t win. 

Our Room
Our room was an inside cabin on the 7th deck.  We could have paid extra for an outside cabin with a balcony, but it was honestly a good room.  It was snug, but it was just the two of us and the room had lots of space for storage.   When we got there the bed was a queen size but we could have pushed them apart to make two twin size beds.  When we left housekeeping was preparing for the room to be a four person room…that is crazy!  I would say that unless the other two people were kids, four to a room is too much.

I liked that our room was inside with no windows because you could sleep in without the sunlight filling up the room.  No matter what time we went to sleep/woke up, it was always dark.  Our dinner mates had a cabin with a balcony and they said it was noisy and the sliding door didn’t always shut properly.

Dinner:  We lucked out and got wonderful table mates at dinner!  You are free to eat on your own for breakfast and lunch, but dinner is always with the same people.  We were all about the same age and the table each night was filled with laughter.  We only skipped dinner once (too tired) because we liked everyone so much.  There were two couples and a mother/daughter pair, plus us.  We had heard that you can eat as much as you want at dinner (at all times actually) so several people ordered more than one of each item (so nights, not all).  You can’t decide which entrée to get?  Why not both?! Or 4 different ones?  Seriously, you gain weight like crazy. Lol.

Breakfast/Lunch:  We usually ate breakfast and lunch at the Windjammer Café.  It is a buffet with lots of choices for even the pickiest of eaters.  One morning we went to the dining room for breakfast and were led to a big table.  You don’t sit with your table mates during breakfast or lunch so they sat us with random people.  There was an older female friend set and 3 other older couples (We were the youngest by 30+ years).  At first they wouldn’t talk to us and were so snobby, but the closest couple made small talk with us at one point and we mentioned that we were on the lookout for cute/single guys.  All of the sudden everyone was talking to us like we were normal.  I think they thought we were lesbians or something  (we are friends people! Jeez) because we got the cold shoulder literally up until we mentioned guys.  Seriously?  You may not agree with someone’s lifestyle, but you can at least treat them like people!  I can only imagine what gay people get treated on a daily basis.  It’s sad!  As we were walking out of there, Clarissa said “If I ever become like one of those ladies, shoot me.” LOL.  Needless to say we never went back there for breakfast.

Snacks:  I didn’t really eat snacks that much but there was a section in the Promenade area (where Starbucks is) that has pizza, sandwiches, and desserts 24/7.

We had three ports during our 7 days.  I was excited because I got to go to Roatan for the day to spend time with my Aunt Tracy.  They live in New Jersey but have a vacation house in Roatan that they go to all the time.  I have been meaning to take a group of friends there but I haven’t actually booked anything.  Maybe soon!

Cozumel-Cozumel was our port of shopping! Clarissa ended up buying a watch at one of the DI locations and I just browsed all the pretty jewelry.  We went to Senor Frogs for lunch and had drinks and even got a fun balloon hat!  (I gave mine to a kid on the ship when we got back-he kept looking at it all sad)

Belize-Oh Belize.  We chose Belize to do our one excursion of the trip.  Excursions started at $75 for each port and we didn’t want to pay a ton of $$ at each one.  Clarissa had always wanted to go zipling (I had been before in Costa Rica) and I had wanted to see something from the Mayan Ruins plus tubing and lucky for us there was one excursion where we could do both!!  We went ziplining through the jungle and afterwards we went cave tubing in an ancient Mayan ceremonial cave.

Zipling:  We got on the bus and our tour guide showed us all around as we made our way to the site, which took about an hour to get there.  We went ziplining first (thank goodness-I wouldn’t have wanted to zipline in wet clothes) but were able to put our stuff in a locker.  They fitted us for a harness and we went up the stairs to start our zipline.  We did about 8 (??) ziplines and finished where we started. 

Funny story:  As Clarissa was getting into her harness her helper was flirting with her, so she (thought) she was harmlessly flirting back.  When we got back to the platform, he pulled her aside.  Their conversation went like this:
Helper:  So did you think you would meet a hot Belizian while on your cruise?
Clarissa:  Umm, no?
Helper:  Well, did you think you would hook up with one?
Clarissa:  What?  No!
Helper:  Do you want to?
Clarissa:  No thanks. (and proceeded to run away to the safety of our group. LOL).  Later, she said “We were we supposed to go do it if that awful line would have worked?  A bush?”

The REALLY funny part was when we got back to the port we saw a t-shirt that said “I did it in a bush in Belize”  No lie!  We were kidding with her when we said that she would have had the best souvenir if she would have gotten that shirt.

Cave Tubing:  We changed into our swimsuits and picked up our tubs.  The cave was a short walk down a path and then in a hole with steps.  We all got in and made sure to hold on each other.  They took us to one end of the cave and showed us where they used to do several rituals.  There were some remnants of pots and other clay items that were still there but they said that a lot were either washed away in floods or thieves took them.  On the way back there is a place where you can either stay on your tube or get off and swim.  I thought it would be cool to swim so I did, completely forgetting that I usually FREAK OUT in open water.  I did start to freak out (quietly) and swam as fast as I could.  In my haste, I swallowed water and immediately thought, “I am going to pay for that later”.  (I did-I got really sick when I got home).  I also got an awful ear infection that is not 100% healed.  I am not 100% sure if it was from the water (or snorkeling in Roatan) but something got to me.  Just beware!
They fed us lunch and we got back on the bus to go home.  It was a fun excursion!

Roatan-I have been to Roatan before since my aunt has a house there.  Since we had done a lot in the other two ports our plan was to just relax in Roatan and do a little shopping.  We got off the boat and were looking for a taxi.  They were trying to get us to pay $25 each for the ride to my aunt’s house but I refused.  The taxi guy just kept saying (while showing us a map) how “far” it was.  The entire island is only 30 miles long!  Once he figured that I wasn’t buying it, we negotiated down to $10 total.  When we got there, Clarissa said “that wasn’t a far drive, it was like 5 minutes”.  I understand that they make money off tourists, but come on!

We got to my aunt’s house and took a tour of the new house they built.  There are two houses on the property but I had only seen one.  The new house is so pretty and full of handcrafted wood from the island.  I can’t wait to stay in that house the next time I go.

While my aunt went diving that morning, Clarissa and I went shopping and had breakfast.  We each got some souvenirs to take back with us and then went back to the dive shop to find my aunt.  She was about to go back out but I think she felt bad because I wanted to spend time with her.  So we compromised and we went with her on the boat to snorkel while she dove (dived? #grammar).  After we went snorkeling we went to lunch and they dropped us off at the ship.  I was sad that I didn’t get to see her more, but I will just have to go visit her!

The one thing I didn’t like about the ports was that we only got to go for a few hours.  You docked between 6-8 am (depending on which port) and had to be back around 4 pm.  You can’t really see the city/town/country that way, but I understand there is a schedule to keep.  Do those countries count as countries I have visited?

Port Charm Bracelet-Each port that Diamond’s International was at you can stop by and get a free charm for your charm bracelet.  The first stop we were able to get the bracelet and one charm.  In Cozumel you can get 5 charms total because there are 5 stores you can stop at.  Of course they use this as an incentive to get you to buy something, but really you don’t have to.  It is super cheap and made from gold tone paint, but it is a fun memento of your trip.  Be sure to bring it with you on your next cruise.  I heard they even have them in Alaska and Vegas to add to your collection.

Note:  Take your passport with you!  I didn’t know until it was too late but you can get your passport stamped at each location!  Say what?!!! 

Drink Packages
I thought we both had to get the same package, but we were able to get individual drink packages.  I got the one that was $19/day and Clarissa got the $45 a day package.  I liked the one I got because it included Starbucks which is the only place to get iced coffee.  Clarissa’s package was more than double mine but hers didn’t include coffee.  So she would buy me a drink at dinner (wine) or by the pool (cocktail) and I would buy her iced coffee whenever she wanted it.  It worked out.  I am not a big drinker to begin with, so the extra $ would have been wasted.  I put club soda, grenadine, and jalapeno (it’s good, try it) in my soda cup each time.  That’s pretty much what I drank every day.  In hindsight, I would have bought the soda package for half the price and just had that plus pay for my iced coffee separately.  Oh well, next time! 
Some couples were sharing a drink package to save on the costs.  Only one person can get the drinks though, so that might get annoying. 

Spa Packages
The first day we took a tour of the spa area so we could be added to a drawing for free stuff but we never won.  I got a massage mid-week and Clarissa got her hair highlighted.  The spa packages got cheaper and cheaper as the week went by.  My spa package was $50 more at the beginning of the week than what I paid for it and $25 less at the end of the week than what I paid for it.  Moral of the story:  get spa treatments towards the end of the week with whatever deal is in the Compass. 

That was my (super fun) cruise experience.   I really want to go back (different ports) and cruise again. They say that you either love it or hate cruising, but I loved it.  If you have any more questions, let me know!  

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