Cruise
2018
Journal

Cruise 2018

Day 1: YVR

30 August 2018

Honeymoon time! Our first flights are on Aeromexico and so I paid for our one checked bag when I checked in online. Later, once Malcolm was home, I mentioned that they were doing a seat sale on their business class for U$210/person so like C$500 and he said why not, lets upgrade and I’ll pay for it. We were drinking, it seemed like a great way to start the honeymoon so after finding out that there were lay flat beds, gourmet meal, and open bar I figured we’d get our money back and a good nights sleep on a long haul. Baggage is also included but they wouldn’t refund me what I already paid so I have a $26 credit that I can use within the year if I fly YVR to MEX. Any who, it also gave us access to a business class lounge where we can have a hot buffet dinner and open bar so it really was seeming like a great deal.

After finishing up the last bit of cleaning, a friend picked us up and off to the airport we went. Our flight was delayed 30min it turned out so we got to check in before it opened. Since we were priority now we got a special checking line that was super quick when it opened.

Security took about 5 min and then we were headed off to the lounge (after grabbing makeup at the duty free; best travel make up packs ever). The international area has three different lounges and we were in the lounge closest to our gate which made things easy. It was a small and new. Upon getting off the elevator you are treated by a self-serve wine bar then a seating area with chargers, and then the buffet with bar. The buffet was not worth the money at all. Food was fresh but soggy and flavourless. The highlight was the noodle bar with dim sum, that was good and prepared fresh but with the hubby being a picky eater, it was a little harder.

We chilled there and drank for a bit before heading down to our gate where we watched our plane pull in late and that is when we realized that there was no way it had lay flat seats. I was already feeling ripped off from the lounge and the baggage but now this. I quickly jumped on seat guru and yup, no lay flat seats on this one. I was thoroughly annoyed at this point but what is done, is done.

Cruise 2018

30 August 2018

Once boarded and in our seats, we were presented with drinks (hubby got his free beer) and then mixed salted nuts to snack on. I stuck with water and got the evening snack; while not gourmet, it was a lot better then the buffet. To start the stewardess laid out a white label cloth on my tray table as well as gave my multiple pieces of cutlery (2 forks, 2 knives, and a spoon). My snack consisted of a limp green salad with 4 chunks of what i think was feta cheese and 1 olive. The main was a crescent sandwich with ham and cheese as well as some soggy old tomatoes. It even tasted better than the buffet...

After the cabin lights went off the service died but then again, it was about 2am so people were trying to sleep. The only downside is that because drinks were included, we didn’t buy a bottle of water like we usually do so we were very thirsty come morning. There were a couple of times I had to get up to find the attendant to ask for water as they were not coming when I pressed the call light.

Cruise 2018

Day 2: Havana

31 August 2018

I fell asleep a couple times last night watching random movies One nice thing about business is all the extra space (bigger seats and more leg room). Even though my seat didn’t lay flat, it had an adjustable leg rest but because of where it hit me, my knees would go numb randomly so i didn’t use it was much as i would have liked. Also noticed that Aeromexico advertises random suppliers, a lot. No wonder they wouldn’t refund me the bag fee, they are grabbing money anywhere they can!

The landing into Mexico was rough but we made it; almost an hour late. Since we have to go through customs here and collect our checked bag to go back through security according to the flight staff, we were worried that we would run out of time. Being business allowed us to get off the flight first and since our first leg was business, our bags were tagged as priority so that meant they would be off first at least.

After leaving the plane, we came to a hallway that split into “transfers” and then a stairway that went down into customs. As the transfer hallway was blocked by 5 staff members we headed into the customs hall and up to the first agent we found. She wouldn’t answer our question when we asked if we were in the right place just checked out passports, pass, and tourist card. With no idea as to where to go so. we walked up to the only exit which was a steep ramp that must have been stairs at one time, to get into the baggage claim area.

Once there a gentleman with Aeromexico called us over, checked our passes, told us our bags were checked straight through to Havana and that we would just walk through “nothing to declare”, go left, and then up the stairs. We followed his instructions; had our passes checked at the bottom of the escalator and then went up to TSA. They had us remove the iPads from the luggage which slowed us down a bit as we don’t have to do that in Canada or travelling to the US. They also checked to see if we had any camera (also have to remove) but we could keep our liquids in the bag and shoes on our feet. They just really seemed interested in electronics.

Cruise 2018

31 August 2018

After getting through we hit up the bathroom before popping into 7/11 to grab some water (yes, 7/11, right next to a subway, 2 Starbucks, 2 bodyshops, and a few more locally themed stores). At 7/11 I went to go pay with a bunch of coins that dad had given me but it turns out they don’t take anything older than 2010 so they laughed and handed them back to me. Luckily i had just enough to buy one bottle of water.

Next was getting to our gate which we got there just in time for the first boarding call. A gentlemen was checking passes as well as passports and when it came to our turn, he asked us for our VISA. I brought up the fact that we are Canadian and Canadians don’t need a visa for Cuba. He went and checked with the airline staff. Everyone boarding at the airport did. Even though I doubted this, they weren’t going to let us on the plane without one. Luckily however we could buy it at the Aeromexico kiosk (ugh! more money....) so we rushed over, paid the $18 for 2 visas, filled them out, and got back in line for the plane. Hubby was super annoyed at this point but there was nothing we could have done to prepare for this especially since Aeromexico said nothing when I booked the flights.

Oh well, now we are on the plane, half way to Cuba, and trying to figure out the customs form. Things are rarely straight forward except “Besides your personal belongings, you bring in some miscellaneous such as footwear, clothing, foodstuffs, personal hygiene and household goods, custom jewelry, lingerie, toiletries and other related articles that are worth______” and. “List the equipment and items (electrical appliances and others) other than miscellaneous that you bring with you________”. What? Everything that we are travelling with are personal items and I’m assuming they are asking about gifts but its not clear so I guess I will ask when we get to the country as I don’t want to fill it out incorrectly.

An hour to go, just going to keep looking out over the sunny ocean and hope that it is the same in Cuba, not the thunderstorms that are listed all over the weather channel.... Got to Cuba and it’s humid but sunny at the airport. The line up through immigration took about 45 minutes so its a good thing that we got in early. There was a bathroom so I headed over to it... 2 stalls and one didn’t have toilet paper; neither had toilet seats - welcome to Cuba!

Cruise 2018

31 August 2018

After getting through immigration, we had to go through airport type security before heading over to the baggage claim, and then into another line just to get out into the airport. Since there was not anyone who spoke English strongly and no one to ask specifically how to fill out the custom’s card, I did my best guess when trying to figure it out. Since we were not bringing anything that wasn’t personal, I left both unclear questions blank. When I handed the card into the person who was collecting them, they didn’t even take a look at it.

Our driver Wilson was waiting for us but it turns out he doesn’t speak English but he said that he could take us to a bank in the city as the one at the airport was easily an hour long. The Air BnB host met us at our cab and told us about an ATM around the corner. His wife took me there just for me to realize i left my card in the cab so I headed back. Malcolm decided that he was going to go take out the cash but came back empty handed as neither of his cards worked. I headed back, took out a smaller amount and had no issue. We then paid the cab and headed to the air BnB. Along the way, I saw our guide and let her know we were just dropping our stuff off and will be back down.

The apartment was small but nice and fits what we need. The air conditioning in the bedroom is fantastic due to the humidity and heat. After dropping off our stuff and being shown around, we opened the door to leave and was met by a down pour! Not like a light one either, it was a wall of water. We headed down to meet our guide who wanted to just wait out the storm (seems like that’s what the locals do) but since hubby had his hat and I had an umbrella wed figured we would be fine to walk in even though it had only been 5 minutes and the streets were starting to flood.

We made it 2 blocks before ducking into the bank for some cover. Just that 2 block walk had us drenched. There was no going back now, we were as wet as if we had just taken a shower fully clothed. After she found out where the car was, we ran down the block, jumped across a river that was once a street, and into a building with a bunch of other people. Right then the wind had picked up so now water was blowing over the Malecon whose parallel running street was flooded. Somehow though cars had no problem driving through water that came up to the bottom of their doors.

Cruise 2018

31 August 2018

As we were waiting for our guide to figure out how to get us from our current position to the car we watched a group of guys was taking down some scaffolding before the wind got to it without stepping foot outside. It probably would have been quicker had they actually gotten wet. While our guide was trying to figure out how to get around the corner without getting soaked, I pointed out a door that was open on the other side of the room that looked like it led out so our guide checked it out before waving us through. Have to say without having a local guide, I don’t know if the people we were around would have been very pleased but we quickly darted through the construction area and out the door.

Once outside we saw this gorgeous classic ford and in that moment in time we felt bad for how wet we were going to make it. Without any other choice through it was through the door, jumping over another mini river and into the car. Luckily his seats are plastic wrapped so we wouldn’t be doing any damage to the classic.

They then drove us along the Malecon and up into the new part of the city as well as Miramar with the hope that we would miss the storm. It was crazy! The streets were flooded and there was even a manhole cover floating around on top of a plum of water before the lightening started. All this within 20 minutes of the rain starting! We could barely see anything during the drive as it was raining so hard.

At this point hey felt bad that we were getting nothing from the tour so they took us to a Paladar for lunch/dinner. It was empty. We were met by a waiter and then escorted into a very nice back room with a fish tank. They gave us the menu and it looked like a ton of food so we shared a meal instead. Course 1 was pumpkin soup; 2 was a bowl of black beans, a bowl of uncooked rice, and traditionally prepared yuca - oil, yuca, citrus; entrée was rabbit cooked in a white wine sauce which was really good; desert was ice cream, flan, and a fruit salsa made of pineapple with tomato. It was more food than we could eat. For the meal with two drinks it came to CUC 28. There was also a couple of gentlemen that came in and played the guitar for us for the entire meal before trying to sell us a CD (awkward).

Cruise 2018

31 August 2018

We finished dinner and headed out the door (past the music players) to see that the rain had stopped. It was decided then that we would head for a drive through the large park / rain forest in the area. Along the way we learned that 90% of the population is Catholic but 10% are Afrikaans that practice Santeria and it is in this park that they practice it. You can actually walk along the river and there will be groups of people sacrificing animals (chickens mostly) as well as throwing gifts to the gods into the river. Due to these gifts however the river is too polluted to swim in and then all that junk flows out into the bay.

After that we continued onto the embassy area, saw the rich people housing, and that is when hubby started falling asleep.

Once back at the bay, we popped up to the Melia to be able to exchange some cash. The guide was very proud of this 5 star hotel but after selling it to customers, I know it is not an American/Canadian 5 star hotel but I wasn’t going to spoil her dream. The next stop we made was another hotel; Hotel Nationale. This is were all the famous people prior to the revolution stayed and partied. It really is a pretty hotel and I can see why it costs so much to stay here.

While walking around the grounds we found that the guide was actually a psychology student that was working on her masters but she works as a guide to make extra money on the side and to practice her English. We also learned that the new government that came in, in April has not yet changed anything but is focused on making the city great for the 500 anniversary next year (in November). They are hoping that he wont change anything which is interesting because she said that younger people are able to get vias’s to leave the country to study but they are not coming back which is causing issues in various different fields. She is going to stay in the country but she does have dreams of travelling outside of the country but it is just too difficult. Supposedly you have to be able to first prove that you have ties in the country that would bring you back (lots of money in the bank, businesses, an important role, etc) and then you can get a visa. This step is supposed to be very hard to achieve and she doesn’t even know how you would go about arrange your travels but she does know it is expensive. Besides this we also learned that Cuban people are half white and half Spanish which I find very interesting. I had no idea that the US made such a difference on this country.

Cruise 2018

31 August 2018

We headed across the bay as the weather was clearing up so then we could take in a view over the city while also checking out the Jesus statue. Turns out that this statue was built by Batista’s wife to try to win over favor from the people. It is made of 70 stones of Carrara marble and was carved in Italy before being sent back to Havana where the statue was put together. The lips on the statue were very thick to represent the previous make up of Cuban’s genealogy - Spanish and African.

By now hubby couldn’t hold out any longer so they took us back to the Air BnB.

After getting out of our wet clothes and sorting out what we needed for that evening / the next day, it was into bed for him. I showered while listening to the music being play in the plaza outside of our building. It’s times like this that make me happy to travel; the local flavour. Once out of the shower, it was time to figure out the Wi-Fi to let everyone know that we got in safe. It was fairly easy; start Wi-Fi, enter in internet card information (the only way to access internet is by buying an internet card and finding a Wi-Fi hot spot. Luckily our air BnB is a hot spot, the next closest one is outside of the bank about 2 blocks away). The cards come in 1 hour increments and we don’t have to use the full hour at one time as long a we log out of the log in page or turn off the router. The card is valid for 30 days after activation.

Twitter worked, what’s app didn’t want to work but it eventually did, Facebook would load text but no images, email didn’t work, and Instagram worked. After trying to send what app messages saying that we arrived and getting an error saying its not working, I posted on Facebook as that did work. Once everyone knew we were alive, it was time to sleep.

Night.

Cruise 2018

Day 3: Vinales

1 September 2018

Just after 6, the hubby was woken up by noise in the apartment and then the light turned on. He woke me up (I slept through it all) and was very confused as to what was going on but it turned out to be Janet. We only found out once he got dressed and walked into the living room/kitchen to see what was going on. We expected her to arrive at 630am, not to have breakfast prepared for 630; just a little lost in translation situation. Turns out she barely spoke English as well so it sounds like we are getting eggs and tea for breakfast. Hopefully we get more than that lol.

Janet tidied up a bit and then took off, leaving us to enjoy fresh fruit, unknown meat, scrambled egg, some form of cheese, toast (there is no toaster or oven, not sure how she made it), and grapefruit? Juice. It was a old way to start the day and was very filling. We had a bunch of the fruit left over and the bread so we popped it into the fridge and then I did the dishes before we started sorting out our suitcases.

While I was packing the big suit case in the living room, there were keys in the door and then Janet popped her head in. Turns out she came back to do the dishes but they were already done. She kept repeating it wasn’t necessary but ended up putting everything away and leaving. The entire time, all we could hear was the local roster cawing as loud as he could every ten minutes. Guess it was time to get going.

At this point we had some time to kill so we headed out to the ATM to grab some more cash before meeting up with our guide and driver to head to The weather is holding out so far; hoping for a good day.

The drive to Viñales is said to take just over two hours so I just watched the locals and how they caught transportation on the highway (walking down it with a bill sticking out of their hand or waiting in a group in random spots for a bus), how they got around (mostly buggy and horse), as well as all the different farms along the way. To break up the drive we stopped into a little pit stop on the way which was needed as the hubby spent the majority of the ride asleep.

Cruise 2018

1 September 2018

At this little pit stop there was about four other coach buses as we pulled up so I was worried that it was going to be extremely busy but it wasn’t. At this little spot there was two small shops, a restaurant with a bar, a bathroom, and a little bridge that led to a seating area on a small lake. The bathroom toilets didn’t have toilet seats and the toilet paper was for sale at the front door but the woman who was selling it would follow you in (almost to the stall) to try to get you to buy the paper. Luckily I brought my own so I showed her out of the stall area and away from the sink when I was washing my hands.

While waiting for our driver and guide we were watching two ox that were just standing completely still in a field, tied to a donkey that was excited to be able to eat grass. There were some tourists that kept trying o pet the donkey and take photos with it before the owner moved the ox and donkey further into the field so no one can get to them. Our guide and driver showed up and he asked who the rude people were before the guide replied she thinks that they were Guatemalan and Antiguan.

Back in the car we continued on our drive until we pulled into a farmers field not too far off the highway or from Viñales. Here we got out and were met by the cigar guide who escorted us inside the traditional farmer hut where we got a cigar each (I didn’t have one) and some coffee to try. The coffee was really good and I don’t like coffee. He then asked if we could speak French as we were Canadian and gave us a book on making cigars that was fully in French. Since we don’t speak French he decided to tell us what it said.

It was then that he took us outside to the barn where thy drive the leaves. It is off season so there was nothing growing and the barn was almost completely empty when it came to leaves. However as people still visit them in the off season they do keep some leaves hanging up just to show what the process is like. Here is explained how leaves were cut off the plants, stitched together, and then hunt to dry before being shipped off to the government factories where they are fermented before being rolled into cigars.

Cruise 2018

1 September 2018

With knowing how the process is done we were taken back to the hut where we were shown how to roll a cigar while the cigar guide was trying to sell us some of the cigars they had on hand. We ended up buying one before heading off into Vinales. When in Vinales we parked so then we could go to a cigar shop that was in town. We didn’t buy anything as the price was twice as much as Havana. Along the way back our guide let us know where we could get wi-if (in the plaza in front of the church), we got to see what the locals eat / how they eat lunch, and get to enjoy a more realistic Cuban feeling than what we were getting in Havana but then again we were staying in Old Town so maybe that had something to do with it.

Our next stop was the Indian cave; not worth it. CUC 5 for a ten minute walk through a cave to wait 20 minutes to get on a boat that was a 5 minute ride before exiting into the parking lot. I was really looking forward to this experience as the YouTube videos made it look really good but maybe it’s better during high season. At least that’s what I can hope...

The drive continued onto the prehistoric mural where we learned about the history of this painted wall which was really intriguing as there was a lot of work that went into it. It took them four years to strip the mountain ide of foliage before hanging down to pain the wall by hand. It was a lot more to interesting to learn about it then to actually see it.

With the rain slowly coming in, we had one more stop to make; the view of the Valley. It was gorgeous and unobstructed. We took a few photos and then a “statue” entertainer came over and took photos with us. I was fine with this as I had some change that I gave him at the end. Right after using the bathroom (toilet seat on the toilet but you needed to buy toilet paper), the rain started so we were taken to a Casa Paladar for lunch.

Just like last night, the meal was more than enough food for two people and we were glad that we shared. We had white rice, brown rice, beans, yuca, half an avocado, cucumber, pickled beans, fried plantain, and stewed lamb. It was more than we could eat and the hubs shared some with a stray cat that chilled at our table before it ran off to chase some chicks while a hen and roster fought back.

Cruise 2018

1 September 2018

Now that we were full it was time to head back to Havana.

Along the way, the thunderstorms started and the two of us fell asleep in the back. There was one point hat I fell asleep, my head fell to the side, and I ended up bashing my face on the metal car door. It didn’t hurt but certainly scared me awake!

Back in town we headed over to the fort as our guide wanted us to be able to buy some cigars to take back home with us but the one downtown was closed at this point. After buying a pack of cigars at the fort we headed back to the air BnB where we said good bye to our guide and then decided to explore the area because the rain stopped.

Our main must visit that we had wanted to do was the brewery which was right across from our Air BnB. It was pointless. They only brew one beer and it was like a hoppy version of bud. After that we decided that since we were still stuffed from lunch we would just walk around, checking out the tourist shops, and then head back to the Air BnB.

The weather held out, we checked out a couple of over priced shops, before walking to the next plaza and turning down another street to do a circle back. That is when we met a man and his “daughter” (they both look mid 30’s, early 40’s) who told us about a very popular local bar just a couple of streets away but since his English was not very good, he was getting frustrated and decided to just show us. After walking for a couple of blocks, we came across a group of people and just as we started walking by them, two of them jumped up and started kickboxing each other. What are we doing, went through my head but by the time I finished that thought, we were at the El Florida.

Here we sat down for 3 mojitos and a beer, trying to talk between his broken English and my broken, high school Spanish. When our drinks were almost done he tried to get me to buy his daughter milk to which I told him i don’t have money for that. We then got the bill (18 CUC) to which I quickly paid and then we were off, back to the Air BnB. “Hope you had your cultural experience.” The hubs said on our way back and I felt like I did but it was time to get repacking and ready to leave tomorrow.

Cruise 2018

1 September 2018

With the packing down, we grabbed a couple of beers from the fridge and settled in to watch TV. There was a TV show that was just YouTube clips so wed watched that as it was the only thing that we could understand before crawling into bed where we watched some predownloaded Netflix shows.

Tomorrow morning will come quick again I’m sure...

Cruise 2018

Day 4: Cuba to Florida

2 September 2018

Can’t believe how much I miss toilet seats.

This morning we got up, had breakfast (Janet prepared it again), and this time it was orange juice that was bought from a local jug, an omelet with cheese, some undescriptive meat again, various fruits, and bread. It was filling but I got quite queasy when I found a very course hair in the meat and then realized that it ran through a few slices. It wasn’t on top, it was within the meat which made me realize that the undescriptive meat is made of animal skin that hasn’t been shaved. Clearly I’m spoiled if that makes me sick.

After puking, I finished packing, and then our taxi driver picked us up to take us to the airport. We got to the airport about 30 min before check in time so we just stood around waiting. The airport check in had the normal line laced out but the locals started a line outside of the queue and wouldn’t enter it until the workers walked from the desk to say that they can enter they line.

We got to the check in and they upgraded us to the exit row for free and waived out bag fee. It was a really nice surprise. Getting through security was very easy and then we got to the great big open room that is the airport terminal from the ‘70’s. I was not interested in looking at any of the souvenirs; I’ve put enough money into this economy. I feel like the entire time we had a giant target on us that screamed “we pay lots”,

While waiting for a while, it was apparent that our flight was delayed so I decided to go to the bathroom. I walked in and there was a paper dispenser outside on the wall so I grabbed some and went in. I was glad it had toilet paper but the next hope was for a toilet seat; the toilets did have seats but every single one of them was filled with shit. I tried flushing one, nope, nothing so I moved on to the next, still no luck. At this point I realized that the toilets don’t have water so I went through the stalls until I found one that I could suffer through the smell and peed.

Cruise 2018

2 September 2018

After I was done I tried to flush (it didn’t work) and then I went over to wash my hands. This confirmed that there was no water so I bee lined it right back to the hubs to get the Purell. He nonchalantly said “oh yeah, the men’s didn’t have water either; can I have some purrel?” He’d already been sitting and playing on his phone for 10 minutes and didn’t think to ask earlier...

The plane ended up being 20 minutes late because the flight attendants wanted to go to the duty free shop and took a bit of time doing so (welcome to the Caribbean), the gentleman next to me saw that our passports are Canadian and he tried to make small talk while we waited :Oh, you guys are going back to Canada?” “Nope, Miami” *rolls his eyes, awkward pause* “I get the flight is going there but you guys are then going home right?” “Yeah, in 2 weeks.” “Oh.” *he turns and looks away*. By this time the plane was ready to board and they got everyone on quick.

Since the flight was only 45 minutes, there wasn’t much time to watch any inflight movies as the majority of the flight was them making different announcements. We also were supposed to fly though a thunderstorm so hubs was slightly worried due to the turbulence but we didn’t hit one. People ended up clapping like their hands were going to fall off when we landed but then I quickly remember that for many, this was probably their first flight

Getting off was easy and since we are Canadian, we didn’t have to fill out the customs form as we get to do it electronically at the terminal. We ended up doing this and got flagged for additional security. There was a little bar just to the right of our photo that had L at the bottom, M in the middle, and H at the top with a number. Mine was 72 with a 3/4 coloured in bar that was just above the M marking. The hub’s was 100 and fully covered in to H. I took this to mean low risk, medium risk, and high risk. He doesn’t think that it means that, he thinks it has something to do with height but I’m not convinced. The agent we got was very friendly and loves Vancouver as well as Victoria. He was a chatter box and then we got through, grabbed our luggage before heading down to the taxi loop. Along the way, the hubby dropped one of the carry ons down the escalator which ended up smashing the lump on my hand, exploding it. It hurt and I'm sure there will be a bruise but it was time to gather everything and jump into a taxi. (flat rate of $22 to the Biltmore.)

Cruise 2018

2 September 2018

Coral Gables really made me think of how I pictured old school Hollywood with the single rancher homes in bright colours with wrought iron and ceramic roofs. The hotel itself was very impressive while driving up to it. The main entrance was closed for renovations so we came in through the bottom level which spoiled the grandeur a little bit. Check in was quick and then the concierge showed us where everything in the hotel was, introduced us to the manager, and then took us up to the room where he showed us how everything works. Since we are in a brand new renovated room, there were a few things he was not sure of but with the three of us, we figured it out.

Once settled in we headed down to the lobby to take the free historical tour of the hotel. It was a bust and I would skip it. While it was interesting to hear about it, you can read it all online and the guide doesn’t take you anywhere where you cannot go yourself. Most of the group slipped away throughout the tour until there was just 3 couples left at the end.

The end of the tour had us come inside from the pool, spend about 5 minutes looking at a photo of the builders and then we were free to go. We wanted food so we decided to head to the sports bar (we were craving burgers) but within that 5 minutes, the skies had opened and it was down pouring. The concierge told us the driest way to go so we saw a bit of the hotel. Once outside we realized that the rain was like a lighter version of what we had at home so it was no worry and we didn’t rush to get to the sports bar. By the time we were there and seated, the sun had come out anyways.

After a couple drinks and some burgers we headed back to the room to relax and shower. We ended up curling up for a bit to watch some comedian and ended up napping for about 20 minutes. Right now I’m sitting beside the window watching another down pour that just finished as quickly as it started. In the distance we can see all the planes arriving / leaving Miami international (its a lot) and a couple major cities on both sides. We really are spoiled with the view from this room. We are in 1004 with a bedroom connected to a bathroom by a little hallway. Since we are in the tower and in a corner room, we have two different views out of three sets of bullet proof, hurricane proof windows.

Anyways, it’s off to bed so we can get up early for breakfast tomorrow and then off to the cruise!

Cruise 2018

Day 5: Coral Gables to Miami

3 September 2018

Woke up this morning and couldn’t see out the window. We laid in bed for a while before dragging our butts downstairs for breakfast. The weather did improve a slight bit - we could see out the windows - but the wind was still strong and the rain drops were just as large.

Breakfast wasn’t as amazing as the hotel made it out to be. Lots of fruit and bread, one small pan of scrambled eggs, another of sausage, and one of bacon. It did the job and we only had one plate each along with a glass of very fresh juice before heading back up to the room to finish packing.

Back in the room, that is when we found out that Tropical Storm Gordon is upon us. There is a hurricane / cyclone warning for the Keys right now and a flood warning for low lying areas. Since it looks so bad outside we figured it might be better to head to the ship early (check in starts at 11am) as we were originally aiming as being at the ship around noon/1pm but with the weather the way that it is, I think it wouldn’t be wise to wait.

It took us about 45 minutes to order a cab, drive to the port, and get out. The cab driver was slow and kept us in the slow lane, saying that we can’t get out of the cab because our cruise people wouldn’t be happy as our bags wouldn’t be in the right area (he lied), When I said that it looks like it won’t be an issue and I want to try, he finally pulled over the cab and got out to take our bags (with the meter still running). Considering he left the meter running he only shorted himself out of his tip as when we stopped and he got out, the meter was $36 but when we got out it was already up to $37 so I can only imagine what it was at when he got back into the vehicle.

For the baggage, it was an island just beside the road way and a parking lot where you waited for a porter to come to you and tag your bag. There was nothing that would have made them mad had we gotten out earlier and walked up to them. I’m getting really sick and tired of all these scams! It was pouring so we quickly headed inside where we went through airport quality security then up the stairs to check in. Even though we were in a priority line, it didn’t seem that way.

Cruise 2018

3 September 2018

After getting through the check in, it was upstairs and onto the ship. Our room wasn’t ready yet but they did have a special lunch of the concierge guests in the main dining room so we headed in. The table we were sat at had us sitting with a couple from Scotland and a couple from central Florida. Both were world travellers and had taken multiple cruises. The lunch was a preset menu with me getting a soup (and hubby’s salad) with salmon while he had the chicken. The chicken was good, everything else was bland or over cooked.

It wasn’t long before our room was ready so we excused ourselves, some how squeezed into an elevator and headed up. The room was really nice and my head was killing me at this point so I unpacked our carry ons and took a pain pill before laying down. I only had about 15 minutes at this point before we had to head down to our muster drill.

The muster drill was a waste of time... we rushed down 7 floors to watch a video on safety before being let go to head back to our room. Instead of going straight up we went to the café and grabbed some water as well as mint tea, then went on up. Once here we watched the ship pull out of Miami and then I started puking, hard.

While I was laying down after puking, hubs gladly point out the dolphins that were following the ship. By the time I sat up to see them, they were gone and I ended up running back to the bathroom.

It’s been 5 hours since we left, I’m still puking violently and hubby has gone out to drink; well keep drinking. All I want to do is sleep but I can’t even do that so he came back with some ginger ale and buns for me as I’m now just dry heaving.

1140pm: hub has come back and I am not puking anymore. I did sleep for maybe 20 minutes. The whole time I’ve been in bed, it feels like we are going through turbulence on a plane but I don’t think this is motion sickness, I’m thinking that it food poisoning. I can’t wait for it to be over with. He just came back and won $135 while playing poker shit faced. He is proud that he stoked an argument between a Hillary and trump supporter at the poker table but then he ended the conversation as well.

Cruise 2018

Day 6: Sea Day

4 September 2018

Feeling a bit better today so after waking up early for breakfast that we arranged on to the table on the patio. My stomach was too impressed with what we had chose; smoothie (yum), mint tea (yum), poached egg on toast (gross - tasted like mint), croissant (saving for later), and grapefruit (too acidic for now). We picked at the food but didn’t finish it before heading out for a walk.

I was pretty much only able to keep down booze which is kinda counterproductive. We did find a little bar with healthier choices in the adult pool area so I had a smoothie and a little turkey sandwich. Glad I found something I could eat.

We went back to the room and slept for a while before getting up and explored the ship which didn’t have much going on. Later on we got some drinks and then found an empty day bed so we chilled there for a bit before heading on up to the buffet for some dinner.

I had a little pasta with meat sauce with upset my stomach so back at the room I ended up puking all the booze up. Then we crawled into bed and slept.

Very lazy day.

Cruise 2018

Day 7: Sea Day

5 September 2018

Woken up to a bright flash of lightening. We were hoping to get 8 hours of sleep but it is 635am.

I opened up the blinds so we could watch and what a storm it was! It started off as just ball lighting, pink in colour, that filled the sky. Not even 10 minutes after it started, the ship went quiet and the wake slowly disappeared. It was then that I noticed one of the room lights came on but neither of us had touched the switch. Hubby got up and the hallway was dark with no power. I poked my head out the door and the concerned helper just said that it was nothing, they were doing some testing. I thought this was weird but what do I know. We then sat in the room and watched the storm but the Wi-Fi worked still so we did some updating as well.

Shortly after the captain came on to say there was a blackout but that they were working on it and all essential services were working still. That was a bad time for me to get an upset stomach as the toilet was not flushing and there was no water coming out of the taps. About 20 minutes after that the toilet flushed, the ac came on, the lights returned, and there was an announcement saying non-essential services had been returned and that we hadn’t lost propulsion which was weird since we could see there was no wake. About another 20/30 minutes after that the wake returned and we were on our way. All in all, we were without power for just over an hour.

The rest of the day was us relaxing, drinking, and snacking. I did take in a lecture on how artwork pricing is determined which was interesting but besides doing a bunch of laundry, nothing else was going on today. The weather has kinda been on / off but relatively good as we were going on the far outside of Hurricane Florence which is headed up to Bermuda. Right now I’m watching YouTube, typing this, and resting my very upset stomach while I have clothing hanging around the room; hoping we can get it somewhat dry for tomorrow.

Cruise 2018

5 September 2018

Then a giant bug flew in the patio window.

All I could hear was the flutter of wing and I looked up to see this big, black Beatle fly in. The fucker landed just inside the door so I figured that I could just smack him out. Nope. He decided to fly inside more and landed on my drying PJ’s. I texted the hubby in a panic and got no answer so I knew that I was in this alone.

After noticing that he moved towards the lights so I turned all the lights off and then noticed that the bathroom light was still on. Fuck. I have to run past this creature to turn it off. Not happening. So I turned on the flash light on my phone, pointed it out the door, and waited. During this wait I watched the creature try trying to crawl into the roof before seeing the light and flying out the door. Just a he got out, I stated closing the door, and he came back in.

Fuuuuuuccckkk!

I aimed the flashlight out the window more but he wouldn’t move so I moved my light more, grabbed the keyboard, and bashed the thing outside before slamming the door. Then I realized that there was clothing drying outside that I needed to bring in. I waited bout 1 minute before starting to pull things in; Tahiti swim suit wrap - got it, leggings - got it. Then I didn't want to push my luck so I left the boxers out there a little while longer before grabbing it. Then while I was getting them, my hair fell and hit my arm, causing me to lose my shit thinking that it had flown into my arm. It hadn’t though and I was fine lol.

Turn out the reason that that the hubs wasn’t getting back to me was because he was doing his whiskey tasting at the British bar when I started texting him. He was there with a guy who was from Scotland and had actually worked in one of the distilleries but had never actually tasted the product before.

My stomach is crazy upset now after the excitement.... Hubby ended up coming back just before midnight and he was up $8 from poker so he was happy and very drunk.

Cruise 2018

Day 8: St. Thomas

6 September 2018

Today is our first island - St. Thomas.

The weather is gorgeous and hot. We also got to watch us pull into port as they backed in so that was a really nice way to start the day. We had some breakfast on the patio while watching us dock before heading to the gangway to get off. Yesterday we tried to call our concierge to figure out where we were supposed to go for our tour as the ticket just says “section 2 middeck”. But she didn’t pick up so he called the shore excursion desk who just kept repeating “it’s on your ticket sir”. Even when he read off what it said she just replied “head to the gangway, middeck on level 2 like your ticket says sir.” He was getting pretty mad at this point so he asked what section 2 is and she just repeated “it’s on your ticket sir”. At this point he was going to lose it so he hung up.

Knowing that we were supposed to go to the gangway on level 2, we headed down as soon as we docked so we could figure out where we were to meet the tour. There was nothing on level 2 so we exited onto the pier. Nothing on pier so we walked into port. That is when we noticed that there were tour groups so we looked around and saw signs on the fence that stated “Station 1”, “station 2”, etc so we knew where to go now but we had 30 minutes to kill first so we walked along the waterfront a bit while taking photos of all the iguanas that were sunning themselves on the rocks.

Time went quick but the heat is rising just as fast as the humidity builds. We were really happy to get onto the boat for our tour and sat inside for some AC. Our tour is of St. John’s which is the smallest island of the USVI. There were no tours of St. Thomas so we had booked the one of St. John’s instead. One significant thing about today is that it is the one year anniversary of Hurricane Irma hitting the islands.

Cruise 2018

6 September 2018

After setting out on the boat, the captain was telling us information about everything we were seeing but he was holding the microphone too close so I couldn’t make out the majority of it. After about a 45 minute boat ride we were loaded onto open safari tour buses before taking off around the island. There were a lot of gorgeous views over the ocean and of green, lush rolling hills but they were all off set by the damage that Irma and Maria had caused last year. Lots of homes were missing roofs, some still had just tarps covering the damages areas. Bald patches of hills where forests used to be, beaches that were larger then they used to be because the trees that used to be there were gone, and lots of beach resorts just wiped out. The local elementary school for example just uses the lower floor because the top one was devastated to the point where they should just tear down the building and rebuild.

Everyone is hoping that the hurricane season this year doesn’t hit them as it would just take them right back to square one. It was very interesting to actually see the devastation from a first hand point of view. I can’t even imagine how it was back before it happened. Winds were said to have gotten up to 223 km/h and one of our guide’s neighbors was killed when he went outside to look and got taken out by a flying tree in front of his family. The pressure was so bad that people were bleeding from the ears. The destruction was so bad that the captain of our boat was without power from Sept 6, 2017 to January 12, 2018. The islands were fucked.

After seeing all of St. John’s and being told about the moni fruit, we had about 20 minutes to explore before getting back onto the boat to head back into Charlotte Amaile on St. Thomas. On the way back, we could hear the captain better. He pointed out celebrity homes, animal sanctuaries, the only privately owned island in the USVI (a former broker that was charged with stealing money was sentenced to house arrest so he bought an island. As the island was his home, he served his 2 years of house arrest there before turning it into a resort), and a small home that was built by NASA and used to try to teach dolphins to speak English. Quite the mix on the island.

Cruise 2018

6 September 2018

After seeing all of St. John’s and being told about the moni fruit, we had about 20 minutes to explore before getting back onto the boat to head back into Charlotte Amaile on St. Thomas. On the way back, we could hear the captain better. He pointed out celebrity homes, animal sanctuaries, the only privately owned island in the USVI (a former broker that was charged with stealing money was sentenced to house arrest so he bought an island. As the island was his home, he served his 2 years of house arrest there before turning it into a resort), and a small home that was built by NASA and used to try to teach dolphins to speak English. Quite the mix on the island.

At this time, the heat was too much for us and after checking out a map the spots that I wanted to do (the 99 steps to black beards castle, the gondola, etc) were not as close to the port as we had originally planned. It also looks like there are multiple ports with one being closer to these items but we were well out of the downtown core and I didn’t want to figure out the taxi’s so we just headed back to the ship.

Here we relaxed, drank, and went to the buffet before hubs went off to play more poker and I went to the martini bar. Here the bartenders flipped bottles, bounced ice, and put on a show while the bar was empty. Once it picked up, they stopped and focused just on serving. I was really thrown though because I ordered a Black Forest martini. The Filipino bartender said “black like me? Or like him?” While pointing at the Asian bartender. Not knowing how to answer this without being racist I just laughed so he pointed at the black bartender and said “you probably want it like him.” I laughed and said “sure!”. Then he made the drink.

After checking in the poker game after the second drink (they were really strong but really good) I headed back to the room so he could keep playing. He came back to the room down about $35 so he was not in a very good mood. I ended up throwing up again but my stomach is a lot better than it had been the last few days. I’m thinking that all the rough water didn’t give it a chance to recover but the time on land today really helped. I think this puke was just too much booze and rich booze at that (the Black Forest martini was piled high with whipped cream).

Cruise 2018

Day 9: St. Croix

7 September 2018

Today we are in St. Croix. This is the one island that we are not interested in as the government had declared a state of emergency 5 years ago due to gang violence being out of control and entire restaurants (including the patrons) have been known to be robbed so we are not even sure if we will get off the ship. However, since there is nothing to do on the ship, we figured that we might as well actually get off and explore but we were not going to rush.

When I woke up this morning just after 8 (we docked at 7), I looked outside and saw nothing so I decided to get ready to go just in case we have to tender in. Turns out the toilet wasn’t working.... this is going to be an awkward morning... just as we both were finishing grabbing everything to head to breakfast we heard it flush. As we were headed out the door, our room Stewart asked us if the toilet was working as the entire area’s was out. Now we don’t feel like we clogged it. Phew!

We headed up one floor and over to the adult pool which has the “healthy” options and smoothies. After grabbing a couple small plates and a couple of smoothies we enjoyed our breakfast before heading down to the gangway on deck 2. No line up so it was easy to get off the ship but then we had about a 3 minute walk along the pier that connects the ship to Frederiksted. The only problem is we had no idea what town we were in so we started walking around while the majority of people were jumping in cabs.

Frederiksted was pretty sad so after exploring a bit, we decided to check out the cabs to see what it would cost to get to the other town which is when we found out where we were. If we wanted to go to Christiansted then it would be U$ 16/per person round trip. Then I heard someone mention an island tour so I asked; U$ 25/per person with an hour in Christiansted. The hubby said it was up to me to decide so after handing over $50 we were waiting for our cab to take us on a tour.

There were only 4 other people that were wanting to take the island our and the vans took 15 people so I was very interested in how this would work. Turns out there was a smaller owned cab that fit 6 people. Lucky us!

Cruise 2018

7 September 2018

The two of us crawled into the back as we were the youngest and most agile. This gave us a set that just fit two people and had our own AC so we lucked out. The middle seat took 3 people and one woman had to sit up in the front which she was happy about as that gave her room for her knees. Considering it was just the six of us + a guide, I was really happy with the value we got. The guide was knowledgeable about the island and took us from the city, through the rain forest and pointed out the various plants along the way as well as homes of people she knew. Then it was up to the peak, photo op, and then down through the valley to the beach for another photo op before heading into Christiansted.

While on our way to the city through it turns out that our guides car was out of gas. We ended up turning off the AC to save gas as we tried to coast down the hills hoping to reach a gas station in time. Our guide was saying that she doesn’t fill her tank as the heat causes the fumes to expand so she normally keeps it low but didn’t realize how low it was before setting out on this drive. Considering how hot it is outside I can’t imagine having to push a car or even walk to the next town. I’m glad we have a large water bottle....

Luckily we made it to the gas station but the pump she needed didn’t work. While they were figuring that out, we were noticing how no one pulls up to the pump and parks. They all seem to pull up near it, jump out, and then try to pump. It was a really crapping parking lot basically.

Once in town we had an hour to wander so we headed to the waterfront which is where found a microbrewery and popped in. Hubby enjoyed a couple of pints while the chickens kept roaming around, looking for food, and the cock cawed. We decided to order some food and went with chicken nachos. What we got was more like a poutine. It was a bowl of BBQ sauce and hot peppers; at least that’s what we could make out lol. Upon digging in, it was in layers. Nacho chips were soaked in queso then covered in BBQ sauce that had banana peppers and jalapeños as well as chicken mixed in. The chicken was very well cooked and the whole thing had a good kick to it. The downside was that it was so soggy that you couldn’t use the chips when you found them. I’ve never had to eat nachos with a fork before, it was sure an experience.

Cruise 2018

7 September 2018

While sitting at this bar we were right on the pier and people keep gathering at the water, looking in so I got up to check it out. There were these massive finish that were longer than my arm! I told hubby when I went back to the table but he said that he was going to check it out after the meal as they would still be there. Well after we paid our bill, he went over and was shocked at the size and thought I was over exaggerating. No idea what they were (neither did our driver when we asked) but they were massive and right near the surface.

We walked along the pier looking at the damaged boats and ripped apart pier extensions that used to exist. This island vertically was hit by Irma but it does not look as bad as St Thomas or St Johns. There are some buildings though which are completely gone and a lot of debris in the bush that we didn’t see on the other two islands so maybe this island just hasn’t done as much clean up. Once we got to the end of the pier, we turned around and walked the other way. This is where we came across the fort. There is one in Frankenstein that is maroon and this one is the exact same and it is in yellow. Turns out they were both the same colour at one time but there was such an argument about which colour was the original colour that they painted one, one colour and the other, the other colour.

After walking through the weight tour we headed back up the King Street which is the Main Street (streets in both major cities have the same name) looking for our guide / driver with the car. We ended up finding her further down from the meeting point so we headed up and found the third couple (the first couple was already in the car) who were already waiting at the predetermined meeting point. Then it was time to head back to Frederiksted.

Our driver guides driving drove hubs nuts. Along this trip we have found out that her break light it out, we assume that one of her turn signals are out due to how fast her signal is clicking, and she likes to blow through stop signs but stop randomly in the middle of the road without warning. He can’t wait for this to be over with.

Cruise 2018

7 September 2018

On the way back we found a Morgan Rum distillery that is on the land that used to be a Sulphur and aluminum plant. It is this one small shack on this massive amount of land; it looked out of place. Then we went by a prison which was massive! It as one of the largest building groups we have seen on the island. I guess that is how they dealt with the gang problem....

No matter her driving, we made it back to Frederiksted in one piece. After tipping we popped out of the car and made our way up the very hot, long pier to the ship to be greeted by flavoured water and cold towels again. It was lovely. There was no line up for security this time so it was a quick entry onto the ship, up to the room to drop off our stuff and then off to explore the ship. As we still have 3 hours until the ship departs so it is I still fairly empty.

We headed up to slush so I can get my slushy alcohol and hubs ended up being called over for a game of ping pong. They guy he was playing with kept bending rules so he ended up winning which annoyed hubs but at least he got a game in. After that we headed up to the Mast Bar so he could smoke his stogie. The one good thing about grabbing those cheap cigars in Cuba is that he can smoke them here and enjoy himself. The only shitty thing is that the day before last some guy stole the cigar cutter and torch lighter so there is only one cigar cutter now and its attached to a guys belt who only works certain times of the day so he got to enjoy his stub from our tobacco visit but he wants to smoke his uncut one and the guy who has the cutter doesn’t show up until tomorrow at 1pm. They don’t even sell cutters so there is no way around it.

While he is enjoying his cigar I’m sitting here, looking over St. Croix, enjoying my drinks and typing this. The breeze is blowing, the birds are flying everywhere and the sun is shinning but luckily we are in the shade. Nice and relaxing. That is what this trip is all about; relaxing.

Cruise 2018

7 September 2018

The sun was getting a bit strong so we headed inside for more drinks and ran into some of the people that hubs played poker with over the last few nights. We ended up; talking about how we got our really great deal and they were shocked at the basic secrets (ex. Calling to get a new promotion before final payment) that lead to us getting the deal that we got. I really made me want to work harder at getting my website off the ground. Since I didn’t have the business cards made that I wanted before we left, we popped into the gift shop so I could get a pad of paper and write my info on it to hand out.

After that we went to the casino so we could try to win the $1 million dollars tonight and iI spent $17 on a quarter machine that maybe gave me $4 in return which I spent as well. A guy came and watched me play for a bit, mesmerized by the game. We ended up running into him later in the elevator and he was bragging to his father about how I had skill at the game lol. Once I had spent all my money we went to tonight’s show; an impressionist that was described as Jim Carey meets Little Richard.

He was good but I was expecting more of a stand up comedian impressionist and he was a singing impressionist. He was still really good and had a few jokes so it was worth it but not expected. A few other people said the same thing as we discussed it in the elevator while heading to our respective floors. Following the show we grabbed some more drinks and then headed back to the room as we were both exhausted.

Cruise 2018

Day 10: Antigua

8 September 2018  

As much as I love journaling my daily experiences, sometimes I would way rather just curl up in bed and do nothing. Right now I’m learning on how they are making the newest Celebrity ship. Am I interested? Not really but this is another few moments that I don’t have to spend typing and I am learning some surprisingly interesting things. Weird how that happens.

Anyway.... so we got up this morning just after 7am and noticed that we are docked even though we aren’t supposed to be here until about 8am. I guess we made good time over the evening even though it look like there was a rain storm (our deck is soaking wet) some time last night. Either way, waking up to Antigua was gorgeous.

We had nothing planned for today, except for a private tour with some guy named Marcus I came across on TripAdvisor for U$ 140 that we decided to cancel the first day of the cruise. I felt bad for cancelling but we didn’t pay anything and with how upset pour stomachs have been, we really don’t want to risk it.

After speaking with cabbies, I’m soooo glad we cancelled. According to the internet, getting from the port to the dockyard was $20.person but according to all taxi cabs upon arrival is actually $70 for two round trip plus entrance fee to the the dockyard. If we did a shared island taxi tour then it would be U$ 50 for two, round trip. Since we can’t argue with that price, we allowed our taxi driver to track down two more people to get the $50 price or else it would be $100 for the two of us. Our cab driver was able to find 2 other couples but instead of splitting the $100 between 6 people, they decided it would be $25/.per person due to the fact of the size of the vehicle (fits 6 perfectly) so there would be no additional discount.

Cruise 2018

8 September 2018  

On our way, we headed off from town towards the cricket stadium (2 people we are with are from Wales, 2 from Scotland) since the driver figured that “the 4 from the UK want to see the cricket stadium”. While he was wrong about the UK English part, he was right about the cricket which was over our Canadian heads. After seeing the roundabout and the cricket stadium we headed into all saints parish before going onto Nelsons dockyard which is where Malcolm wanted to go. Today was gorgeous with lots of clear blue water, sun, trade winds, and green mountains while being in such a historical place which used to be full of military boats / men and a British queens sister celebrating her honeymoon (which would have been boring!).

Hubby was excited and happy to visit Nelson’s dockyard before we headed up the mountain to Dow Hill interpretation center (gorgeous views) before heading over to Shirley Heights (more gorgeous views and the crocodile of Antigua). Once here while everyone stopped to have a beer, I ran down the hill and into the cemetery to see the 150+ year old graves that overlooked the water. Its was odd seeing these graves; some were inside wrought iron enclosed tombs while some were just piles of rocks on the ground while an obelisk over looked the water. This is when I noticed some off a little ways into the brush so I ventured further in just to be able to see the entire area. Once I felt I saw enough I ran up to the old hospital ruins before running further up the hill to the bar where everyone just started coming out which is when everyone jumped into the vehicle.

After getting into the vehicle, we continued on our trip through the rain forest and various other villages (they don’t call them cities or towns here) until we reached the harbour. Here we paid our guide and then we were on our own. Hubs was so hungry that we just went straight onto the ship (without saying goodbye), ate, and then headed off to drink.

After a few drinks we went for sushi on 5 which was having a special; all you can eat for U$ 25/person. Considering I wasn’t sure what I wanted to earn that was a great item. However we ate so much that we got cut off without actually trying everything. Due to this our bill was a little lower than we would have planned but if we had actually gotten what we ordered it would have been more and we pointed this out to our waiter as well....

Cruise 2018

8 September 2018  

That evening hubby took off to poker while I watched a story about how the most recent vessel was created while typing this. Now I’m going to hit up the world class bar which used to be the molecular bar as I was looking forward to the original incarnation.

Cruise 2018

Day 11: Barbados

9 September 2018  

So last night I went to the world class bar and it wasn’t great. It was funny however. I sat down, ordered my drink and went on Facebook to upload photos. The guy beside me complained to his wife about how in the old days he would be chatting to me but now I’m on my phone. Out of the 7 people at the bar, I was the youngest and not the only one on my phone. Upon hearing this I giggled and got off my phone before chatting with the bartender about the difference between tequila, agave, and mezcal. (Agave is used to make tequila but tequila comes on the city tequila where as everything else is mezcal; like champagne).

The entire time I was chatting with the bartender, the guy beside me did not engage me once but he did leave shortly after. I then ended up chatting and drinking with the woman next to me, Alison, who had kids my age but said that I was such an interesting person she wanted to stay in contact and take photos with me. It was quite funny; oh alcohol!

When I got back to the room I decided that tonight was the night I was going to sleep on the patio. I did get a little bit of sleep in but it was sooo rough tonight that I ended up waking up a lot so I just crawled into bed to sleep instead.

Upon waking we weren’t at port yet so we started getting ready and then watched as we pulled into a working port so there wasn’t much to look at. Since there was nothing to see, we got ready and headed up to the buffet for breakfast. I hate it. Sure there were lots of options but there was waaaayyy too many people. We had to pretty much fight for a table before eating sad food and then taking off.

Cruise 2018

9 September 2018  

Our tour leaves at 10:30am and the ship docked at 10am so we had to be quick. Hubby wasn't feeling well so we didn't get off the ship until 10:20am. I walked quick to try to figure out where gate 101 was while hubs dragged behind because he wasn’t feeling well. After getting off the ship, we walked down the pier, into a building and then exited either into the prearranged tour area or the general exit. We had a prearranged tour but no tickets so we talked to the guard who let us through into the prearranged area. Once there we went to gate 1 who then sent us to gate 9. Hubs wanted a ginger ale and there was a vending machine so I walked over to get him some. After a bit of trying to figure out how the hell to get the machine to work (turns out the pop was BBD 2.75 but it wouldn't tell me that when I hit the button); I got him a ginger ale that he could drink as we waited.

10:30 am came and went but still no taxi pickup but it is Barbados so it would be very surprising if it showed up on time. When it did show up, it drove us to where we met the boat for our snorkeling tour. Upon arrival the guide said we would wait a bit before we left since the cruise ship was late getting in (it was not) which pushed them back a bit. After sitting around for a bit we were ready to walk down the beach and jump on the boat.

From there they drove the boat 3 minutes down the beach to a spot where a group of people were already floating; looking at a turtle. By the time we got into the water we saw nothing. Then the guides brought out the food and the turtle (not turtles, turtle) was swimming so close that you can touch it and hubs did. There was an urge in me to touch it but since it was a wild animal, i didn’t want to disturb it so I didn’t. The thing came very close to me so I got some great photos and video but I had no food for it.

Cruise 2018

9 September 2018  

After, 4 other boats showed up and about 10 minutes in the water, it was on to our next location - a ship wreck. This was just another 2 minutes down the beach (neither were very far off shore) with about another 3 boats all in the same area. Here we got out to swim over a ship wreck which you could tell was a boat that was sunk to make an artificial reef. Here our guide threw food into the water and attracted schools of fish. It was interesting to swim but the water was starting to get really choppy so we headed back to the boat. After getting out of the water there were a few dark clouds but I’m guessing that the water issue was due to the number of boats in the area. This tour is clearly very touristy but fun and I got to swim with a turtle.

Once on boat, we were waiting for the rest of the group so we both did the water slide off the back of the boat before enjoying rum punch and heading back to the beach we set off from. Upon arrival we went straight for the deck chairs under the palm fron hut on the white sand beach. After getting more free rum punch, hubby fell asleep, and I got to fend off the beach sellers. When he woke up again I popped into the “food court” and took advantage of our free lunch. I got macaroni and cheese pie which had a bit of kick to it, fried flying fish which was really good, chicken curry on coconut rice which was delicious, and braised lamb which fell off the bone. After grabbing the plate and more rum punch I settled into my chair while he slept more.

An hour went by and while I was taking photos with him while he slept, he woke up due to feeling a bead of water run down him and him thinking it was the spider I flicked off my tit earlier. It wasn't long after this we moved inside. Here hubs used his lunch card, we got more rum punch, and I hit up the gift shop before we took off to grab the cab back to the ship. While heading to the ship we popped into the duty free shop and did a bit of shopping before heading back for a shower.

Now hubs is trying to sleep since his stomach is very upset and I’m looking out over the Barbados port while my curry stained white shirt hangs in the window. Only a couple more hours until the ship departs. I will say that I wish we had explored the island more but after doing island tours for the last 3 days, they are starting to blend together....

Cruise 2018

Day 12: St. Lucia

10 September 2018  

St. Lucia today! One of the islands that I have been really wanting to see but as I sit here and watch us pull in, I’m starting to wonder why as the photos I’ve seen don’t match what I’m actually seeing. After breakfast was sorted it was off to the theatre to head off on our tour. Here we learned that the buses would be smaller than Barbados but since we didn’t do the buses in Barbados, I don’t know what this means. We got our sticker (mine wouldn’t stick) and then waited for our number to be called. When our number was called, we headed to the pier. As we were young and able bodies, we headed down the stairs which meant that we missed the entire group and got to the front so we had a choice of seats.

We decided that we would sit on the opposite side of the bus that we did last time (so we are on the left this time) and it turned out to be the wrong side. I guess tomorrow’s tour, we are going to sit behind the driver as that seems to be where you need to sit!

Driving around the island we saw a lot of lush greenery but as this island was not hit by Irma, there was not a lot of damage. As we drove out of town, the driver pointed out the local flora and explained how bananas grew when he pulled over to the side of the road. As he was explaining that the tree flowers and then when the petals fall off the bananas start growing around a centre cone. This cone eventually falls off and then the bananas start growing up into bunches instead of down to the ground. While he was doing this, a local woman came by and started knocking on the bus windows trying to sell her items. I thought this was weird but it was not the first time.

It was then on to our first stop which was a bathroom, bar, small / empty shop, and a view point. There was not much here and not worth a 10 minute stop. As we continued on to a local fishing village, we stopped off for a photo shot but we were not allowed off the bus. Just then, the bus had three teens show up and start knocking on the windows trying to sell painted rocks.

Cruise 2018

10 September 2018  

Once in the fishing village we were given 30 minutes to explore so we walked down to the beach, took a few photos, watched a guy gut and clean a fish before heading back to the bus. While walking there, the Main Street of the town had lots of people calling us over to look at their wares as the whole street was covered in tourist stalls. Once we got to the end of the stalls, we found out that the bus was locked up so we found some shade and hid. There was a guy laying down with a busted foot who tried to get hub’s attention. Once he got it, he asked where he was from and then asked if we liked Bob Marley. Both of us were confused and said no. Then he asked if we wanted some Bob Marley, hubs was still confused at this point and said no but then it dawned on me that he was trying to sell us weed. This is when the guy got up and hubs saw the joint in his hand so when the guy said “It’s really good Bob Marley” , he knew exactly what he was referencing and we both walked away. As I figured I might as well go to the bathroom I saw a few people with the same sticker as us so I went to the bathroom. While there was no TP, there was a toilet seat so I was fine.

Then I headed back to the bus and found out that I was holding up the bus. The other stickers I saw were not people in our group but they were on the same tour from the ship. Noted for next time.

It was then off through the town and on to lunch. The villa that we were eating at had a gorgeous view of the Piton’s. With the description of the tour I thought that we would get a better view of them but this is our view. Lunch was a buffet with a few different items; rice, green banana pie with salted cod (like a tuna casserole), BBQ chicken, taro, bread fruit, cooked plantains, noodles, salad, French bread, and vanilla cake (which hubby couldn’t get enough of). To drink we were given mango juice and water.

After our hour break and a full stomach, we started off to the world’s only drive in volcano. Here we had a guide give us a quick 10 minute explanation of what the volcano was (basically a hot spring and bubbling mud that is vented out of the volcano). It also turns out that in the 80’s there was a bridge that went out into the volcanic mud fields where the locals would cook food in the actual steam vents (eggs, chicken, etc). During one tour the guide was jumping up and down on the bridge when it gave way. He ended up with 2nd degree burns to the bottom half of his body as his tour group was able to grab him before he was fully submerged. After that they destroyed the bridge.

Cruise 2018

10 September 2018  

The smell of the area was like baby poop that was lit on fire. I really wish we did this before we ate as I was ready to puke. The area was so salty that my eyes were burning as well. It was quite the site to see but I could have done without it. The stock was basically a leg stretching break as we were back on the bus as quickly as we got off of it.

With fresh air in the bus pumping in, we were off to the final stop, the plantation. Here our guide pointed out all the flora and fauna before taking us to a small path that led us to a recreation of an Indian village from he 1800’s. The path then led down to the plantation home which is the summer home for a family that lives on Martinique. After walking around the home, we were met by a guy who was breaking open coconuts. We got to try coconut water right from the coconut, some of the coconut, and then some of the coconut heart which was like a soft tofu. The heart is formed when the coconut water hardens (due to age). We then walked around and into a shed in the back where we got to try sucking on a cocoa nut while being shown how cocoa nuts are prepared to be turned into chocolate. Out back they showed us how donkey’s were used to mill cane syrup.

It was then back to the bus but we were able to spend some time at the gift shop while they gave us a glass of sour orange juice. I was very refreshing but they didn’t sell it so I’ll have to figure out how to make that.... after about 30 minutes shopping it was back on the bus and back to the port.

Back on the ship we were invited out to the helipad so we could watch the ship sail out of port. We met about another 50 people at the aft elevator before3 staff made sure we were wearing closed toe shoes before leading us out to the staff bar where we were given a mimosa or champagne before we stepped up onto the helipad. There we stood in. The sun with wet towels waiting to leave. Some people were whispering saying that we were late leaving because we were caught on a reef. Not sure how we missed in coming into port then.... after about thirty minutes we were off. The only downside was that we had backed into this port so there really wasn’t much to see as we headed out to sea. This was a port that we wished we were on our balcony for but it was an experience.

Cruise 2018

Day 13: St. Martin / Maarten

11 September 2018  

Today is the day for St. Maarten & Martin.

The captain sobering reminded us that today marked the anniversary of Sept 11 before asking us to seize the day. Since we don’t have to really rush off the ship we decided to order in room service for breakfast today. Nothing too heavy; hubby had a strawberry-banana smoothie and I had 3 different smoothies plus a Danish. Then we learned that the temp was supposed to be 31C on the island so we were glad we didn’t have a big breakfast.

After we ate, we headed to the Equinox theatre. As we were headed out towards the theatre, we noticed an American flag with two light bars on it set up in the grand foyer. It’s was a touching tribute and I’m sure that everyone on the ship understood the importance of it.

Once in the theatre, like yesterday, we got our badges before getting off the ship to meet our group. Unlike yesterday however, our group was massive on top of that there was also another cruise ship - Carnival Vista - in port so there was twice as many people. They also told us to take the stairs to three and ignore the ”gang way arrow” signs. This led us down to three which had two closed doors that were marked “crew only” after some convincing, we got another couple to open the crew only door to our left. A surprised crew member pointed us to the right to which the entire group quickly rushed through and then we were met with the exit but not the mid-ship exit so we missed the photo ops but when we got onto the pier, hubs wanted to do a photo as he had a photo in the gastro bar that he wanted to pair with another photos for a deal. Truthfully, I don’t think you get a deal if you pair more than one, I think they still charge you $20/photo.

After waiting on the hot pier for about 10 minutes they led us into the parking lot in the open hot sun. It was only 10am and easily mid-20’s. That is when we found out we were going to be loaded onto coach buses of about 60 people each. This is when ew really started dreading this tour.

Cruise 2018

11 September 2018  

We got on, picked a seat, settled in, and then found out that the AC wasn’t strong enough to cool the bus. Red flag number one. We picked a seat behind the driver since the last couple of times we didn’t pick behind the driver and got the shitty view. Hubby asked if I picked the correct side to which I replied “my gut says no but we have picked the wrong side the last two tours so lets try behind the driver this time”. Well after we started moving, it turns out the view was on the opposite side. Fuck, after missing out of ocean views and the boarder crossing, I was pissed. It also turns out that we only have 3 stops during the tour; 2 for shopping and one for a view.

Between the heat and the lack of view, this trip wasn’t going well for anyone on the bus. We eventually got to Margoit and had 30 minutes to shop. The head was now 31C and it was cooler outside then it was in the bus.

We walked the water front a bit and got bombarded by people selling their knock off souvenirs that we could get in any port. I was hunting around for some of the French specialties that are imported from France that you can only get there; we ended up in an almost empty mall. After exploring the 6 shops in the AC'ed mall, we headed up the Main Street then down the next street before I decided to go to the bathroom. I’m really not understanding why people here think the free bathrooms are so bad but maybe after visiting bathrooms in Cuba, my standards are quite low. If it has a toilet seat I’m good. If it has toilet paper then I’m over the moon.

We got back on the bus and then found out that if we had gone one more street over, there was a bunch of shops. Not sure why they didn’t call this street the main shopping street as the Main Street had a couple of restaurants and that is it.

Cruise 2018

11 September 2018  

Any who.... it was now time to head back to the Dutch side. We drove past the marker (also on the right side) and onto the bridge that connects them. According to our guide, legend tells that a Dutch man and a Frenchman were dropped off at the same point and told to walk. Any land they crossed was theirs. They were allowed to bring one item with them so the Dutchman brought some Dutch vodka so he had something to drink. After drinking too much, he fell asleep while the French man kept walking. After he woke, he discovered his error and that the Frenchman was already done. When asked the Dutchman said that it’s not about the quantity it’s but the quality of the land, at the beginning the Dutch side was the rich side as they had salt, tobacco, and tree farms. However as times changed, the Dutch side now has to import everything as that side of the island is too hot to grow anything. The salt farms also stopped production in 1949 so there was no longer that industry.

As we passed on the bridge, we could see lots of half sunken boats (and one fully sunken boat with just the mast sticking out on the right). Not sure why the owners/ insurance hasn’t removed them but they are still there. After crossing the bridge and realizing that people in the bus were getting cranky American: can you sit down, I can’t take pictures.
Irish: well when you stand up, I can’t take pictures so how do you think I feel? 
American: well I’m allowed to stand up 
Irish: then I will stand up when I feel like it won’t I?
clearly we need air conditioning at this point....

Instead of giving us air conditioning they gave us a stop. Where did they stopped a bus of adults (we were the youngest) that were at least 40+ At an ice cream place with a free carousel. Yup, no joke. Neither buildings were air conditioned either but the carousel went by a fan (just one fan on the right hand side that was a stand up oscillating fan) so at least you got a bit of a breeze.

After riding on the carousel to cool down we walked into the next strip mall which had a domino’s pizza. Pizza sounded better than ice cream so we ordered a small pepperoni to go. While we were waiting, we saw that they deliver the dough in plastic trays in the back of an open air truck that I was watching one of the employees inspect the dough but when he saw me, he quickly covered it up. I guess that this isn’t food safe....

Cruise 2018

11 September 2018  

We then got the pizza and then headed back on the bus. That is when we found out that the couple in front of us took our seat so hubs asked them to move as they were in our seat. Begrudgingly they moved back to their seat (ours had the better view where as they had a curtain partially blocking theirs). A few people said that our pizza smelt good and they were interested in having some. We only got a small (4 pieces) so hubs and I started eating it on the bus. It was boiling hot but tasted so good; the best pizza I had ever had even though it was greasy beyond belief.

The next stop we had was at the view point “international flag view point” our guide referred to it as. However the flag was missing and we were not allowed to walk up to the point as people usually wipe out. Due to how clumsy I am, hubby wouldn’t let me walk up there either so I settled for the standard view. Then it was back on the bus.

They then dropped up off in Phillipsburg where we popped into Guavaberry emporium (um!! Guavaberry rum and liqueurs) before heading down front street to find “that yoga guy” museum. We found it and then proceeded upstairs. We didn’t want to pay U$ 10/person to walk down a hallway with items so we checkout the gift shop where the yoga guy (he helped create the animatronics for yoga) was sitting; “Questions are free. Answers cost” he said as we said hi “What an ass” hubs said as we kept looking at over priced stills from the movies since they had his signature on them before heading back out.

“He’s just playing off of the fan boys” hubby said “and I’m not that into Star Wars. He’s an ass for taking advantage”. I couldn’t agree or disagree so we decided to walk to the end of front street so we could say we had seen Philipsburg before heading back to the ship even though it was no 35C + humidity outside. As we were looping back, we decided to stop into a duty free shop due to AC. There I found some interesting rums that were 2 for U$ 18 with the fruits in the rum so I decided to grab them as they were very pretty (one coconut, one vanilla banana) before we continued our walk back to ships.

Cruise 2018

11 September 2018  

Once back we were dripping,.. not sure with sweet or humidity but it was straight up to the room to shower and then rest, We ended up going to the main dining room as they had food that hubby would eat.

To start we ordered a Greek salad, strawberry soup, and escargot the escargot was removed from the shell but excellently cooked in butter and garlic. The Greek salad was really a tossed salad with feta and the strawberry soup was like a strawberry smoothie as a gazpacho. The entrée was a New York strip cooked medium (chef recommendation) and I got a Moroccan leg of lamb. The only thing Moroccan about it was that it had some couscous underneath the veggies. The streak was good but not amazing.

After I ordered a lava cake to share when our waiter brought over a chocolate cake that said “happy honeymoon” as a surprise. That was nice but the table behind us though we were celebrating our birthday as we had to blow out a candle so they requested he sang happy birthday. After the awkward correction our server tried really hard to sell us on a specialty dining package. He didn’t have any information about what each restaurant was serving over the next couple of nights so we kept saying we would think on it yet he kept pushing. When we said we would let him know (for the fourth time) he disappeared, brought over the lava cake and took off. At this point we were very uncomfortable so I ate half the lava cake, hubs had one scoop of the chocolate cake, and we took off before he came back. Unimpressed with dinner, we chilled in the room for a bit before hubby took off to the mast club to smoke a stogie as I puked all of dinner up. It was great....

Unimpressed with dinner, we chilled in the room for a bit before hubby took off to the mast club to smoke a stogie as I puked all of dinner up. It was great....

Cruise 2018

11 September 2018  

Around midnight he came back after smoking and it turns out he had met a couple of people from New Brunswick at the mast bar. They were also newlyweds but they met the ship in Antigua as their plane had blown a tire and that delayed them several days. They didn’t have travel insurance so they wouldn’t be reimbursed for the first few days of the cruise but the airline did put them up in a hotel for a couple of days so they were fine with that. To top it all off, it was the grooms first time flying. He said he wasn’t scared, it was fine. I would have been pissed and this is yet another example of a reason to get travel insurance. Sure the airline would put them on another flight and cover their hotel, food, and taxi but they won’t reimburse them for the cost off the first few days of the cruise. I would have been pissed but we have travel insurance so I would have gotten my money back but spent more time in the air. Hopefully next time they get insurance.

Cruise 2018

Day 14: Sea Day

12 September 2018  

Today we have been invited to check out the galley as we are concierge guests. Fancy.

Soooo we rushed for breakfast at the solarium space place and then rushed downstairs to meet with all the concierge guests on our floor it turns out (and there was a lot). I assume it’s our floor as I recognize a lot of people as being on the port Heli view from St. Lucia. The tour had us split into groups of about 30 before being led by an assistant manager into the kitchen of the formal dinning room. Here he pointed out the appy prep station, the station that food for people with allergies is prepared at, and then the dessert stations. At least that is what I gathered as the group was too large to be in such a small area that we didn’t hear what our ass. Man, was telling us.

At the end of the 10 minute tour he asked if there were any questions and our group asked some good ones. We found out that although a lot of the staff work 8 - 12 hours; if they get frustrated or need a moment, all they have to do is tell their manager and they are allowed to go since customer service is key and they realize that it is hard to smile when you are livid. The manager also said that when he first started working on the ship, he found it extremely hard and wanted to quit but kept being told it gets better so he stayed on and it did. We also learned that they only keep food for 4 hours so if there are any leftovers after the dinner service (or lunch if it is not served at dinner then they will send it down to the crew mess where nothing goes to waste as they are normally quickly snapped up. Even though the crew is fed well, it’s not the same stuff that the guests are served so it is in high demand. We also learned that the chef has a math equation to guess how much of each dish will need to be made based on the make up of the nationalities, age, and sex of the guests travelling on board. They also make more than expected as nothing goes to waste.

After the tour we head back up to the room where we napped for a bit before going to grab lunch. The next few hours were room time before I headed off to catch the show. I got to the show 1 minute late and I was lost. I’m glad I read the planner or else I would have no idea what was going on. If I hadn’t read the planner, this is what I would have assumed the show was:

Cruise 2018

12 September 2018  

The description of the show in the daily planner was: In the land of Elysian, a fairytale unfolds between the forces of good and evil as the kingdom is threatening. The struggle for the rightful rulers to regain control is a journey of self-discovery, inner strength, and unexpected forgiveness in this original story that touches the heart.

How I could explain it: 
The queen and king of pop don’t like that there is a king and queen of rock (80’s rock, 2010’s pop). The queen of pop is a trained opera singer that doesn’t know she is in a small theatre so she either over sings to the audience or drowns out anyone else singing with her. The pop team then has their leather and rose clad fighters have a dance off until one is injured but she is then saved by a silk artists who teaches the main fighter how to walk again by lifting her into the air. After they can all walk again, the leather clad male rock fighters dance it off to prepare for battle. Once the fighters all ready the males and females duke it out until the rock king is killed. The rock queen then does a gorgeous rendition of Paul Simon’s “sound of silence” before the female warriors return dressed as cotton balls with giant white roses on their heads. Some time while backstage the male rock worriers are converted and return as well dressed as shirtless chickens wearing mettle corsets. The pop queen then us use the male chickens (i can’t even say cocks as they were dressed like chickens) to hold back the rock queen while the two queens since a lackluster rendition of “wake me up” by evanescence. I kept waiting for the powerful vocals but they never came. This song also was what was used to convert the rock queen (although it is a rock song, it was sang in a very poppy way but I digress),. After the rock queen turns pop, the pop queen brings the rock king back from the dead who some how, in the grave, has dressed in the now white pop queen’s attire. He can’t remember who the rock queen is (or maybe since she’s in silver instead of gold now he’s confused) but decides to dance and sing with them anyways. After a “what have you done later” rendition, the show concludes to a wtf did I just watch silence quickly rush out of the theatre from the audience.

While the singing was mostly great, the arrangements didn’t work for 90% of the songs and if you hadn’t seen acrobatics or silks before they would be amazing but if you had even watched AGT then you would have seen better performances. Maybe the sea was too rough?

Cruise 2018

12 September 2018  

After wishing I could get the last 45 minutes back I swung by the world class bar before heading up to the room with ginger ale for Hubs who was tucked into bed. He laughed when I explained the show but was glad he didn’t come. I then got ready for the formal night, headed to the bar for another drink, and then went up top the grass rough so then I could type while relaxing. Here is where I saw the moon for the first time this entire trip.

While I’m sitting here in the middle of the ocean and I just watched a small orange light appear in the air, hover a bit, then moves up before disappearing. I’ve been watching it for a while now and it’s on the horizon, not near the moon and there are no other lights at this level. It disappears when the clouds pass over the moon and reappears when it does. Hubby just checked the TV and while on my right hand side there is an unmanned island, there is nothing on my left where the light it. It‘ s been about 10 minutes now and the light has completely disappeared but the moon is still out. I’ve been waiting about 2 minutes but it has not reappeared. There is now however a couple staring at me while I sit I in the middle the grass while I type this. It sure if I spoiled their plans of screwing on the grass but hate to break it to them, there are two cameras on me right here so they wouldn’t be going at it for long....

After typing I headed over to the mast bar for a drink. The bartender was trying to recommend something but got side tracked so I picked a caliente without the simple syrup. He asked if I liked spicy, I said yes, and then he said that he would make it spicy / sweet but I asked for no simple syrup so it would be spicy but it turned out its not. I guess that the fruit juice makes it sweet.

Cruise 2018

12 September 2018  

I then headed in to the world class bar because I prefer the top shelf things (less of a hang over) and got a don Julio Paloma before heading to the middle gallery where they were having a Gatsby by themed dance party. The only downside is that women are looking at me like I’m trying to pick up their men (even though I’m wearing a wedding ring) and the music is too up to date for most people so they don’t know how to dance to it. It’s a lot of people looking down from the 5th floor to the 3rd floor as the 3rd floor is dancing, hoping they would win prizes. I’m not sure how to react with this crowd as people my own age (male or female) would have invited me in to dance. Right now, as I look at the crowd, they are not interested in inviting me in as the woman look like they are threatened and the men are scared as their wives are here. I guess that is the issue when people are over 20 years older than you. l wonder what the after party in the night club will be like as I hope I’m not the outcast. We had seen a few younger people earlier that we had not seen before in the cruise but they are not here tonight. The Austin powers voice saying “yeah baby” is getting annoying but our DJ is from Jamaica so maybe the movies are new there?

Finally, quasar has the stuff to make their açai drink. Who cares if they are playing Ricky Martins ”she bangs” although it reminds me of being 10, I’ve never drank to this song before and now spinning in s bubble chair hanging from the roof, welcome to 1990/2000. I mean when I was 10 I imagined clubbing to be like this so why not actually club like its the noughties? Because it sucks. Now they are playing bohemian rhapsody in a weird remix like the show Elysian tonight who did we will rock you. Guess this night is just bunk.

Cruise 2018

Day 15: At Sea

13 September 2018  

Well I’m horribly hung over. Last night I tried to have fun and find people to hang out with but there was no one that was interested in carrying on a conversation so I ended up just sitting in a hanging chair at the night club, drinking my face off. The last thing I remember is heading to the bathroom, puking my guts out, and then realizing I’m too drunk to keep going so I headed back to the room. Don’t remember getting back though.

Now I have woken up in bed with a laughing husband. According to him I came back just before 1am last night and then puked hard before arranging the towels in the bathroom on the floor so I could sleep there. He tried to get me to bed but I felt pukey and wanted to stay there so he let me. When I originally came back to the room I kept saying “I’m sorry” before curling up on the floor and continuing to apologize. Eventually I came to bed as I was freezing. All I wanted to do was curl up against him but I smelt so strongly of booze he didn’t want me near him. I kept trying to convince him by saying “but I rinsed off”. I wouldn’t explain what rising off entailed but I don’t think I shampooed my hair still had bobby pins in it when I woke up.

Breakfast had shown up and I’m not moving anywhere. Hubs goal today is to play poker so I told him to go have fun. He came back shortly after the first game was supposed to start but it was cancelled as it was just him and one other person. He then headed backdown stairs after checking on me so he can have a beer and read his book before trying to catch the second game of the day. 1pm rolled around and he came back. Second game was cancelled for the same reason and according to him, the ship is very quiet so I must not have been the only one to go hard. At this point, I was awake so we decided to get some bottles of water and walk a little bit. I got the water and then we headed to the buffet to get some food. I got down some garlic bread and a little bit of quesadilla with all the toppings before having to go back and lay down while hubby took off to try to get in on the third game of the day.

Cruise 2018

13 September 2018  

The third game was cancelled for the same reason. We went back out for a bit, walking the shops before heading up to the Mast Bar for a drink. Since I still feel crappy it was time to try hair of the dog. I ordered a daiquiri but the bartender made it with tequila instead of rum so I did not get much of the drink down. Afterwards it was on to the buffet to get dinner that we can eat on the patio. Hubby is 9 beers in at this point so he is drunk, chatty, and emotional so we didn’t chat for long. Back at the room, I ate half my plate before throwing up and giving up. It was then that it was time to get the packing done so we can get our bags out of the room for pickup on time.

I decided that I would go to the comedy show. The theatre was the fullest I have seen it this entire cruise. The comedian was amusing but not a show I would have paid to see as it wasn’t that great. Due to how choppy the material was I think he was trying out some new stuff to see how it landed. Then at the end he changed into a character; his 104 year old grandfather. Who then went on to explain how his wife had died (no jokes, just a sad man whose wife collapsed beside him before he begs her to to die) before going on about how we need to not forget our elders as that is what they fear the most and that we need to call our elders as it makes their day. It got dark. Quick.

After a very sobering comedy show I headed into the casino to see if hubby finally was able to join a poker game. He was able to but they delayed it a bit as people were still coming out of the show. As I’m bad luck I have left him to play and come up to the room where I’m watching MSNBC covering hurricane Florence who is expected to flood a chunk of the US Eastern seaboard.

I hate that I feel so lazy this trip but as hubby said, we were busy on the islands and it is our vacation plus I’ve been sick multiple times so there is nothing wrong with me just laying in bed. He also highlighted how boring the ship has been. Which is also true, the activities are not inline with things that we like to do so we have just been sleeping/drinking/doing nothing instead.

Cruise 2018

Day 16: Miami to Fort Lauderdale

14 September 2018 

The cruise is over with. I watched us pull into Miami this morning with a building flashing “Good morning Miami!” Across it’s front. Part of me is happy this is over with but part of me is not.

We are supposed to be off the ship at 8:50am due to being group 16 so after a last minute check of the room, it was time to head to the concierge lounge in the main dining room. Or we could head to the theatre for the general waiting area. Breakfast sounded better so we went to the lounge. Here we found coffee, tea, and pastries but upon looking downstairs I noticed that there was full breakfast being served. Why eat pastries when I can have eggs?

We popped downstairs and were the last people that they sat before cutting off service. Talk about perfect timing! They started calling numbers just after 8am so they were running behind as they were expected to be docked at 7am. With a meal in we headed back up to the concierge lounge to wait for our number to be called. Then they started calling numbers in pairs and then triples so time went flying by. By the time we were called and off the ship it was 9:15am but there was a bit of a bottle neck as Captain Kate was shaking the hand of every single person as they left the ship. Her arm is going to be so tired after today.

Finding our bags was easy and the line for security took a while but we were out and waiting for a cab just before 10am. As there was nothing to do and our train isn’t until 2pm we decided to head to Bayside Market as I was reading that not only is it close there is a bunch of stores that you can wander. Even though it was supposed to be open at 10am, it was closed so we looked around and found an air conditioned food court (with 4 stalls). I left hubby here and wandered around to explore. There was lots of shopping but it was set up like an outdoor mall so there wasn’t much air conditioning. It didn’t take long for me to go back to a still unhappy hubs (he felt that we shouldn’t be at a mall with suitcases) since there wasn’t much to explore. Here we switched off with him going for a walk and me sitting with the suitcases before warning me of the giant cockroaches scurrying around.

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14 September 2018

He came back in a happier mood as he saw that there were a lot of people with suit cases. However it was getting hotter and the AC in the food court was lacking so we decided to head to a restaurant. As we were both tired and I wasn’t feeling well, we decided on Bubba Gump's as we knew what to expect. Since they had wi-if hubby took a look at where the train station was (he felt that there might be more things to do closer to it) and found out that we were a 10 minute walk away so we wouldn’t have to cab.

With our bill paid we headed off down the street to the train station. It was a really easy, short walk and it’s an area that is clearly being upgraded so it should be nice in the next couple of years. After passing a fallout shelter and the court house, we were at the brand new station. With our tickets we were able to check one bag each before heading up to the lounge. The lounge here had a mini-bar full of beer, water, juice, and wine as well as different chips, energy bars, and fruits. Hubs was surprised that for $20/person we had our luggage checked in, an unlimited drink bar, and the lounge.

Without knowing that we just had to wait in the lounge until we were called, we headed into the general terminal about 20 minutes before the train was set to arrive. Instead of heading back into the lounge we just waited. Eventually it was announced that they were doing pre-boarding for select customers (us) so we headed up to the train. We were greeted by very friendly staff and found our seats quite comfy and spacious. I flipped through the menu and it said that any train prior to 3pm won’t be served alcohol. Upon looking out the window, I saw that they had a welcome alcohol station for select guests so I jumped out the train and grabbed 3 beers and a bottle of water. Hubby laughed when I came back.

Shortly after the train left for our 37 minute journey to Fort Lauderdale. Half way through our journey the drink cart came around (they did offer us beer) so hubs grabbed a beer, I grabbed a gin with sprite, and a snack box of mixed cheese / lunch meats. Not even five minutes into the ride we started chatting with a guy across from us. Turns out he is a singer from Miami that lived in Nashville but is back. His brother lives in Seattle so he was asking us a bunch of questions about Vancouver. Needless to say, we ran out of time to finish our drinks as we were in FLL in what felt like 5 minutes. As I still had half a beer, a full drink, and he had a beer and a half we hung out in the terminal so we could finish the drinks. I ended up chucking my warm beer but he finished his.

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14 September 2018

Downstairs our luggage was waiting for us before they called a cab and helped us in. The ride to the hotel was $25 and fairly quick. The hotel is the only one on the beach it looks like so we really lucked out! Now I know that the hotel had multiple towers and we booked through a 3rd party, cheap booking site so I wasn’t expecting much. The room we had though was huge and a corner unit that over looked the beach as well as the main drag. I’m so happy for all the space as it will make repacking so much easier.

Hubby wanted to relax for a bit so I took this as an opportunity to rip apart the suit cases and start the repacking process. Eventually I got frustrated so we decided to walk the main drag and check things out. I wanted to get souvenirs for the last couple of people and he wanted to drink so we eyeballed places as we went. Eventually we came to a little outdoor courtyard / mall thing that had a cigar bar in the back. As hubby was looking for cigars to add to his growing collection we went up. The place was huge and also had a whiskey bar. The owner was very helpful and walked through the entire cigar collection with him explaining about each one and helping him pick a few out. Once he had his cigars we headed back down the walk as he had spotted a place with fish bowl drinks he wanted to get me. It turns out there were four places in a row with the same size drinks so we just randomly sat down at the Rock Bar and ordered a beer, a 45oz drink, and calamari. The calamari was good, the beer went down quick, and the fricken massive mojito took a lot longer to finish. For $25 I was surprised that we couldn’t keep the cup.

Once we were settled he wanted to go back to the cigar bar so he could smoke one of the cigars. After talking with the owner, it turns out that in FLL you are not allowed to smoke inside anymore but for places like him, he is grandfathered in under the original law so he is allowed to still have people smoke inside. Here hubby smoked the owner’s favorite cigar (he didn’t like it) while we drank a bucket that had three types of Malibu rum, cranberry juice, and OJ. At this point I was done so we headed back to the hotel as we had their mermaid burlesque show tonight in the Wreck Bar.

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14 September 2018

After dropping our stuff off at the hotel room we decided to pop down to the bar early to see if we could get in earlier for better seats. Getting in was no problem and we sat at the bar for an even better view. Here we ordered a couple of drinks and some appies for dinner(Kobe beef sliders and Kobe beef tartar). The bar we were at was almost fully covered in carvings but there was one small spot so hubby started carving an M with a dime. As we were trying to get it deep enough in the wood to stay a man that looked like Andy Warhol came over and asked what we were doing. When we said that we were adding an initial he told us not to go over any of the names since “as legend of the bar says, there are a lot of famous names carved into the wood from past celebrities like Frank Sinatra and Marylin Monroe so we don’t want to lose the history.” When we showed him that we weren’t causing any damage to the names and that we are marking the occasion of our honeymoon he congratulated us and walked off. I kept trying to carve an E coming off of the M but it wouldn’t take so we just kept making the M deeper until I pulled out a quarter and then we really worked on getting it carved into the wood.

The show started shortly after. The four girls all free dove without air hoses or nose plugs so technically it was very impressive. It was mostly just them spinning in the water and blowing bubbles before taking their tops off but the fact that they could hold their breath for as long as they did was crazy to see. When we got our bill at the end of the night it turned out that Andy had bought us a drink as congratulations for our anniversary.

With the show over with, we headed back up to the room.

Cruise 2018

Day 17: Fort Lauderdale

15 September 2018

First and only full day in Fort Lauderdale. It’s 9am and 28C outside this is going to be a really warm day. After the heavy drinking last night I’m not feeling hot so I really want to get a coconut to help with this hangover. At least it’s not as bad as the ones I got on the ship. Going to the bathroom last night was interesting though as I don’t think I’ve gotten rid of my sea legs yet.... I was rocking side to side like I was walking down the hallway of the boat to get to the bathroom. I didn’t wake up drunk so I knew that the instability was not due to that.
 
After getting dressed we took off for a long, hot walk along the Fort Lauderdale beach to find something to eat. It’s so touristy here that I’m turned off by the majority of the restaurants so we walked all the way from our hotel up to the W. The first stop that we had to make though was for a little elephant that said “I love you more” as hubby feels that this will end our argument lol. Along the way we stopped at a nearby stand that sells fresh coconuts for only $7 which is the cheapest I’ve seen them anywhere so I figured that I’ll give into my inner tourist and grab one. When I told the guy it was for a hangover, he cut open his largest one for me. I have named him Bob the Second but I’m not sure if he would bob in the water as the damn thing weights 10 lbs! He was not kidding that he was going to give me his biggest one that is for sure.

With coconut in hands (there was one way to carry it with one) we continued on our hunt for breakfast before turning around at the W, heading back to the coconut stall where they cracked open Bob so I could eat him. We then continued on the walk back towards the hotel and ended up popping into H2O for lunch as we couldn’t find a reasonably priced breakfast place anywhere and we were melting. After some awesome baby back ribs and a very filling taco salad we headed back to our hotel in the 31C, direct sunlight heat. I didn’t even know that my face could sweat.

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15 September 2018

Getting back to the room was one of the best things we could have done. I don’t even remember 35C on St. Maarten being this hot and there is a breeze here due to the water. I guess humidity makes a difference. With some cooling down done we headed over to the beach as there were too many people in the pool for us to relax.

Our hotel is the only one on this beach so it’s nice to walk downstairs and out onto the sand. Until the soles of your feet start to burn. There are so many people out here; how?! It felt like I was walking on the sun and I had to turn back around not even 5 feet from the hotel to see if we could get through a different way. This hotel has a private beach so I figured that there must be a private entrance that is more direct. With the hotel it is made up of several towers so we headed to the one surrounded by the beach.

Here we found the Salty Sirens bar with a beachfront pool and direct access to the private beach. Hubby grabbed towels while I ordered the drinks. U$ 25 for 1 can of beer + 1 cocktail is insane but no other options. While drinking in the pool we watched a large iguana wander through the pool side chairs. Once I finished my drink we dropped off the towels and started heading back to the room. As we were leaving, the iguana was starting to become annoyed as people kept trying to touch him. Eventually one of the staff came over and stood near him telling people not to touch it. I almost wish it had flicked people with it’s tail as they are strong enough to break the skin and they are covered in a bacteria that leads to gangrene. That would teach them to leave a wild animal alone.

While we walked back to the room, I vented about the stupid people and even wanted to go over with a bunch of towels, capture it, and then release it into the bush but hubby thought that was a bad idea. Along the way back to the hotel I noticed that the hotel had a sign about the beach. Turns out the reason that the beach goes completely black at night is because there is a type of sea turtle that nests along the beach. Due to this the city has made it mandatory to go dark at night along the entire beach. I didn’t know they had sea turtles here nor that they nested so close so I’m glad to see that.


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15 September 2018

In the room we showered and got ready to head out to Mai Kai for dinner and the shower. I’m very excited, I can’t wait! We paid $25 to cab out there only to find out that I made the reservation for next Saturday not tonight and they are fully booked up. Luckily though it was happy hour and there was space in the bar so we went in there for a few drinks and some calamari. I can’t believe I screwed up so bad with the date. I had gone online for OpenTable to make a reservation and was wondering why it had said that there was no space for 5:30pm but said the next available time was 5:30pm. I guess it had changed the date but I didn’t check, I just clicked 5:30pm and was happy we got a spot.

After a couple of drinks (and finding out that this place was built in 1956) we headed into the gift shop before walking down the street to find a cab. This is when my body decided I needed to puke so our goal became find a place to puke and then a cab. While walking down the street we saw a sign that said “POO” which I thought was very odd. Hubby was interested in the closed gentlemen’s club across the street as this made him start to think we were in a very bad part of town. I didn’t care, I needed to puke. As we got closer it became obvious that the sign said “PDQ fresh salads and sandwiches”. That is a way better name than POO. We got in, I got hubby to order me a burger, I puked, and then ate the burger. It was needed to settle my stomach.

Now that, that is all done it was time to find a cab. We weren’t haven’t any luck on the road so when we found a shopping mall we headed straight into target where they ordered us one which made things extremely easy. Back at the hotel I took on the ongoing task of packing our bags. This was harder than it looked as it turns out that 2x 1L bottles of booze with our shoes in the large suitcase pushes it over the weight limit so after cramming all the carry on with our clothes it was clear; we need to check two bags and but one bottle in each suitcase. Once I got this figured out it was time to relax and enjoy our last night.

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15 September 2018

There wasn’t anything on TV so we decided on the British version of Sherlock and I was starving so hubby took it upon himself to find a pizza place while I finished packing. He found a place but the hotel won’t allow them to come up to the room so hubby said he’d go down to get it once it arrives. At the time it arrived I was done with packing so we curled up on the bed and found out that a medium pizza is massive. I quickly scarfed down 3 slices before settling in to watch Sherlock as the episode was deep, dark, and really messed up so it needed some attention to be paid to it. Then what we had expected to be an hour long episode turned into two but we didn’t want to turn it off as we wanted to see how it ended but we also wanted to get some sleep.

Eventually the episode ended and it was time to pass out!

Cruise 2018

Day 18: Headed Home

16 September 2018

Eventually the episode ended and it was time to pass out!

After waking up, eating left over pizza from last night, and cramming the last few items into my carry on it was off to the airport. The cab to the airport was $25 and only a 5 minute drive. After taking so many cabs last night and paying that price for a 15-20 minute ride I feel ripped off. I guess that’s the downside when a city decides to put into place a flat rate for travel, someone gets ripped off but some people get a deal.

At the airport, security was a breeze and then it was sitting at the airport for 2 hours. We grabbed a couple of crappy burgers and waited. Now we got on the flight and have 2.5 hours in the air before we end up in Toronto for our 5 hour layover before heading on to Vancouver.

Well Pearson has certainly changed, its a lot bigger.

We landed and then headed towards customs. As we were meeting connections there was a line of about 10 customs machines as they no longer do the paper forms. It then takes a photo of you after scanning your passport (my photo make me look like I was stoned as I was half blinking. It was so funny I laughed until I cried.) then it was down the stairs into customs where we had a great big red check put onto the printed off form before being flagged through. From there another person decided if we went straight or into additional screening. Luckily we were able to pass straight into the baggage hall. Announcements kept saying that our flight specifically did not have luggage transferring to our next flight so we waited. And waited. And waited until no more luggage appeared.

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16 September 2018

Thinking that our two bags got lost we walked over to the west jet baggage handler who then let us know that our baggage was indeed transferred directly onto Vancouver just like the agent in Miami told us. Now that is one less thing to worry about so we exited out which put us into arrivals which is confusing if you’ve never been here before. I have never been to this arrivals hall so it threw me off a bit but I followed the flight staff up an escalator and we found ourselves in the departure hall.

Now that we don’t know our gate we checked out the large board which didn’t have it listed yet as they only listed the flights up to 8pm and ours is after 10pm. After looking at the numbers for the other west jet Canadian flights we deduced that it would be a B gate so we headed to the security point for gates B and C. While there we were told our gate was B2C. After getting through security and asking where it was as thee was no signage. The woman giggled and said that we were at the very far end.

Even though we weren’t sure how far that was, we popped into the Irish bar for a couple drinks and some food while we killed 5 hours. After 3 hours of drinking and slowly eating we headed off to find our gate. As Malcolm hadn’t quite finished his beer I left him at the restaurant and headed off to find this illusive gate with no signage.

Since the woman had said the end of the hall I exited the restaurant and headed left toward the end of the hall where I could see a sliding door that led to a staircase. While heading there, just past gate B22 I noticed a sign that said B2C and pointed down; upstairs inspection there was an escalator behind a pillar that it was pointing to. Fricken pearsons, they sure like their hidden escalators! I headed down one escalator, then a second one that met me with a long hallway that was three people movers long before going up another stairwell.

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16 September 2018

At this point I figured hubby would be lost so I called him as I was texting him the directions as I went. Well it was a good thing I did as he ended up going up an escalator somewhere and was upset as he explained an area of the airport I had never seen before so it was useless. He then asked someone who told him to go downstairs and all the way back. When I told him to get back to the restaurant he said that I should just meet him there which was already my idea. Once we met up it was back down the long way and then up an elevator where we found our gate finally. It was busy but there was a few shops, a restaurant, a booster juice, and not much else. I was able to use the Booster Juice coupon for a free drink from my birthday, it was a nice way to get ready for a flight.

The flight was uneventful and it was nice to be back in Vancouver and in my own bed!

Safe
Travels

“One doesn’t discover new lands without consenting to lose sight, for a very long time, of the shore."

–Andre Gide