Thursday, July 14, 2011

Cruisin' With the Brewers Day 7, Final Day at Sea

After Cozumel the atmosphere of the cruise life was a little somber. Maybe from exhaustion, maybe from the weariness of not seeing our kiddos, or maybe from the sadness of realizing that our fun-filled vacation was coming to an end. We were spoiled. Every morning we had breakfast made to order, access to a swimming pool with a whirly slide all day, the option of nap time at our disposal, and my favorite, an intimate and laughter filled dinner time every evening with close friends. Our waiter, Edgar, even joined in the fun and pulled a couple of pranks on Mark and Javi!! One of my favorite memories from this trip are all the new people we met, mainly on the crew. John our room steward was AWESOME, he even knew our names on the first night when he came by to introduce himself. Somehow we were lucky enough to be sat in the same area of the breakfast room every morning with the same waitress, Zarrah. We spent time getting to know Edgar, John, and Zarrah. We asked questions about where they were from and what their culture was like. They were such nice people, each took the time to say hello even when they saw us outside of our usual setting. We also met other couples, young and old. (One thing I admire about Taunya and Javier is that they will spark a conversation with anyone! That characteristic just isn't part of my personality, but I would like it to be! Now that I am aware of it, I can work on it!) It was a bitter sweet ending. That Sunday when we docked (day 8 officially), Javier called us and wished us a "happy kid day" because each of us anticipated seeing our mini-mes!!! What will be missed most is the constant feeling of being in community with fun-loving, positive people. But no worries, we are already planning a family cruise with the Blancos for September 2012!! Another advantage to homeschooling, we will do a unit study on the places we plan to go and then the kids will be able to experience it first hand!
 Mark, Jimbo, and Javi
The big kids in line to go down the slide!

Jimbo, Javi, and Mark...Mark and Javi being Mark and Javi!!!! 

Rita, me, and Taunya 

The crew with our evening waiter, Edgar
Mine and Mark's FAVORITE dessert of the week, chocolate molten cake!!! 

Fun times!!! 

The crew with our room steward, John. What a cool guy!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Cruisin' With the Brewers Day 6, Cozumel, Mexico

Cozumel was another adventurous day! We originally scheduled an excursion to zip line. After doing a little research, we decided that it probably wouldn't be as much fun as we were anticipating. We decided to go to a local beach, Paradise beach, that had a lot of activities available. Again, Taunya, Javi, and Mark got to snorkel while I worked on my tan. They found some conch shells to bring home for the kids. The beach had water trampolines, water climbing toys, kayaks, and much more. Too bad it started sprinkling on us and the mosquito's were eating us alive! We changed and took a look around the little shops. In one of the shops, they had a monkey and snake you could hold and take pictures with. I held the monkey, but was no where to be found while everyone else held the snake!!! At one of the shops, we were able to get two of the sitting hammocks and Austin a chess set made of onyx all for $55. Thanks to Javi and his mad haggling skills! As with all the other ports, negotiating a price is always an option not offered in the states. Once we left the beach, we went back close to the ship and had AUTHENTIC Mexican food. It was SOOOOOOO delicious!!! We did some more shopping after that. Then went back to the ship for an afternoon nap!
 Fresh off the boat, ready for an adventurous day!

A real coconut tress at Paradise Beach. I'd like one for my backyard please! 

Mark and Javi hanging out

Taunya with our new little monkey friend 

Some pretty birds, huh? They were just lounging around 

Mark's lunch at Pancho's Backyard, best food EVER!! 

 Chow time

Cruisin' With the Brewers Day 5, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands

Grand Cayman was my favorite port. It was absolutely BEAUTIFUL! The waters were the clearest there, we saw the most sea life there too! Because the boat couldn't dock, they put out the anchor and little boats had to sail out to pick us up from the ship. Once we made it to shore, we found our coordinators for our excursion: Parasailing and snorkeling. Unfortunately, the winds on the sea were too strong and our excursion was cancelled. I wasn't too broken up about it though because that means we would be refunded our money! Our guide lead us to a snorkeling rental shop where there was access to the water. We got our gear on and headed out further into the water when Taunya started yelling 'SHARK'! She saw two fins on top of the water and thought it was a shark! Javier went under the water and saw a HUGE fish swimming toward us and thought it was a barracuda. Neither are people friendly, so we got out of the water as quickly as we could. Javi asked our guide if either type of fish were common in that area. He said no, so ventured out again. The water was bothering my eyes again, so I hung back on the shore. Sitting in the water, a white fish a little smaller than my hand kept swimming around my feet. And a dog that had wandered up was pawing at the water trying to catch a fish. I could feel my skin getting a little toasty, so I went up to some covered picnic tables that overlooked the water. From there I could see 3 of the HUGE fish that we had seen earlier. The water was so clear!!! Visiting Galveston for so many years, I am not used to that! I yelled out to Taunya, Javi and Mark that the fish were heading their way. Luckily, they were close enough to the shore that they could get out of the water. The fish were completely harmless, but they were HUGE...which made them very scary! While snorkeling, Mark, Taunya, and Javi saw the wreckage from a shipwreck and a sea turtle. Afterwards, we explored the town....that's code for: went shopping!!! For lunch, we voted to eat at a local restaurant just to experience a little of the culture. Boy was that a mistake! We waited an hour after placing our order to get our food and the place wasn't even busy! I ordered the coconut shrimp and they were still raw in the middle. So, that was disappointing! Mark enjoyed his meal though, he had a turtle burger!!! We looked in few more shops and then got back on the boat. While we waited in line to get on board, Mark and Javi drank out of a real coconut. There was a local there with a machete cracking them open and sticking a straw in them, for a small fee of course!! It was our second formal night. Sadly, I didn't take any picture that night because the battery in our camera was dead!!! I'll have to see what pictures Taunya took.
 Taunya and Javier, patiently waiting for our lunch!

 Me and Mark at lunch, beautiful view!!

Mark's turtle burger 


 The little boat that takes passengers back and forth between the ship and shore

Isn't the water beautiful!!!! 

Mark and Javi with their coconuts 

 My brother and Rita had this cake sent to our room, it was quite tasty!!!

Mark commented a time or two that the water was 'SO BLUE'!

Our bed buddy!

Cruisin' With the Brewers Day 4, Montego Bay, Jamaica

FINALLY a day at port!! We docked in Montego Bay around 9AM, eager to get off the ship but not really knowing what to expect. To get off the ship, they open doors at the very bottom of the boat. So, we made our way to floor zero and then were herded out like cattle. Of all of the stops we made, Montego Bay was my least favorite. We scheduled an excursion for that day, ride on a catamaran, snorkeling, and a brief stop at Margaritaville. The catamaran was pretty neat, we could sit on the top and watch the water pass under us through cargo nets. I wanted to snorkel SO badly, but unfortunately my skin, particularly the skin around my eyes, does not like salt water!! So, I spent most of the time not being able to open my eyes even above water because my eyes burned so bad! Mark, Taunya, and Javier enjoyed what they did see though. Mark took a few photos with our under water camera, not too many tropical fish swam our way though. We only snorkeled for a few minutes then made our way to Margaritaville. Margaritaville was neat to see, but none of our people are really big drinkers!! I bought my dad a hat. Then Mark, Taunya, and Javier went down the water slide. Then we made our way back to the boat.
 The Catamarans
There was a couple 21 year old boys on our catamaran with us. Apparently, Jamaican rum is VERY strong. One of the boys was drinking the "free" rum very quickly and it all caught up with him at once!! He couldn't even stand up on his own. So, if you go to Jamaica, go easy on the rum punch they serve for "free" because you will pay for it later!

Mark and I before we docked...super excited!!! 

 If you look closely toward the top left area, you can see a blue fish!

 The DJ booth at Margaritaville

Big kid toys at Margaritaville!!

 Me, Mark, Taunya, and Javier on the catamaran

 Taunya and Javier at dinner

 Mark and I at dinner

 Javier and Mark on the top deck

Our bed buddy

Monday, July 11, 2011

Cruisin' With the Brewers Day 3, Another Day at Sea

Day 3 is a bit of a blur. I think by this day I was getting pretty antsy because we were unable to REALLY communicate with the kids. Through Carnival, you have access to their main website for free from your room (if you bring a laptop). For whatever reason, we were able to post a message through the 'currently onboard' community forum, but they were unable to respond to our post. So, we hadn't talked to the kids since we left Galveston. I had a hard time with that!! So, we decided to bite the $2.99 per minute bullet ($2.99 per minute with an addition $2.99 per minute to call from our cell phones with an international plan) and call the kids. The call ended up costing about $21.00, but we did find out that the kids would be reading our post every night even if they were unable to respond.

Watching a show, Me and Mark 

Bean bag toss competition, Mark, Javier, and Jimmie 

 Our first formal night, Me and Mark

 Javier and Taunya salsa dancing after dinner

Comedy show AGAIN! What can we say, we like to laugh!!!
Jimmie, Rita, and Me 

Jimmie, Rita, Me, Mark, Taunya, and Javier