This is mostly links to pictures (not inline images, so this is just cut for length), though I will include the lengthy travel bitch that I wrote before this post fell by the wayside. Chad took almost all of these pictures, which have been cropped to reasonable sizes but otherwise not improved.
Our cruise left on Saturday, March 19. Friday night, I'd stayed up until midnight to print our boarding passes, and then took a while to get to sleep. And then at two in the morning, Chad woke me up to say that his sore shoulder, which had been bothering him for a couple of days, had gotten bad enough that we needed to go to the emergency room. Our flight left at 7:30, so we were planning to wake up at 5:00 anyway—which, conveniently, is when we got out of the emergency room. (Muscle sprain, which was somehow transmitted over the Internet.) Thank goodness for the quirk of commerce that provides our area with 24-hour pharmacies, is all.
So, we're running on basically no sleep, Chad's in pain, and there are horrific delays at Orlando because everyone and their dog brings their private jets into Fort Lauderdale on nice weekends and Air Traffic Control, for some reason, insists on delaying scheduled commercial flights as a result, to the point that I begin to seriously fear that the boat will leave without us. This is when Southwest's wonderful staff comes through, pleads our flight's case to Air Traffic Control (I overheard another woman on our flight say that she was getting married on a cruise leaving from Miami in two hours), and gets us cleared to leave something like forty-five minutes earlier than we'd previously been approved for—still late, but not as desparately so. I love Southwest—it took about fifteen minutes from the announcement to pulling away from the gate. That is efficiency.
Of course, we sat on the ground at Fort Lauderdale for a long long time, but I was finally able to collapse in exhaustion and relief when we got our bags in plenty of time for the last shuttle to the ship.
Here are some pictures of and from the ship:
We were not initially impressed with our room, but it turned out to be quite comfortable enough, far more so than it looked. Well, except for the shower.
- The room from the door to the hallway
- Me sitting on the bed reading (before the formal dinner; look, contacts!)
- Chad standing in the shower (fully clothed)
The ship had these weird little towel animals that they would leave after they made up the room during dinner. As you can see from the first picture, they were a bit startling at times:
The day after we got on the ship we spent at sea; I spent most of the day in the sun reading. Note to self: pay attention to your stupid hand when it puts sunblock on, or it will skimp on the back of your smart hand's wrist and you'll burn; and make sure you get those little bits of skin around the edges of the swimsuit. All the same, it was lovely to lie in the sun and do nothing more demanding than read. That night was the formal dinner; the next day was Jamaica.
I went snorkeling for the first time here, which I enjoyed a lot; I was nervous about it, since I don't swim—I don't even dog-paddle—but with a vest and fins, all you do is float and look at the pretty fish. (Okay, there was a brief period of adjusting to breathing through the snorkel; because you have to breathe harder, it feels somewhat like the physical symptoms of a panic attack, and then your brain can decide it wants to get in on the fun too and produce the mental symptoms of a panic attack. I found this went away as soon as I realized what was happening.) Then we got back in the catamaran and went to Dunn's River Falls, walking up which is exhilarating in a "what the heck am I doing?" kind of way.
- Cranes visible from the pier, that looked like dragons
- The Cool Jazz, the chartered catamaran
- Chad and me on the boat after snorkeling
- The seawall near our snorkeling area
- Arty tree shots at Dunn's River Falls: one, two, three
- The beach at Dunn's River Falls
- A bit of the Falls
- Another tour group going up the Falls
- Us standing in a pool at the Falls; the water comes up to just out of frame
The next day we stopped at Grand Cayman, which was still recovering from a hurricane. Pictures of the damage:
We did a bunch of snorkeling, first at the original Sting Ray City and later over a reef. Pictures:
Here are some external links to fish we saw snorkeling:
- My favorites, Juvenile Yellow Damselfish, which are a very very deep purple with shining spots that look like they've been studded with crystals: one, two
- A whole page of Grand Cayman snorkeling pictures
- A spiny lobster, which looks even leggier in person
Then we ate in Georgetown, and did a little shopping. The line for the tenders (no docks for the cruise ships) was kind of scary, but moved fast, which was fortunate because it was really quite hot already (I don't want to think about summer there). Pictures from the town:
- The silly turtle mascot on a sign
- The ferry line
- Cruise and working ships in the harbor
- Cruise ships in the harbor
Then another at-sea day, at which I bought an Emile Bellet print at auction and we marveled at a fancy midnight buffet, and then a long, long day of travel back home.
Weird food sculptures from the fancy midnight buffet:
We were with a big family group (Chad's grandmother's 80th birthday, with the kids and grandkids), so we had enough people that we could have our own dinner table and do our own excursions and generally avoid enforced jollyness. Chad & I probably wouldn't do another cruise by ourselves, at least not one with long at-sea periods, because Chad gets twitchy, but it was a very nice time and I definitely look forward to snorkeling again.