Monday, May 30, 2011

Vacation








I know, it's been a long time. There's been lots of stuff going on, but I have been prioritizing and other stuff has bene taking priority over blogging. But, we just took a long, amazing vacation. I felt that it deserved a blog post. I have already posted pictures on Facebook, so I will share those pictures here so that I don't have to re-upload them. That would take forever! Just a warning, this is a really long post!






We left our house on Thursday, May 12 after work. We drove down to Tifton to eat, stopping at an Olive Garden on the way down. We drove the rest of the way to Tampa on Friday, checked in at our hotel, then headed over to Busch Gardens. School hadn't let out yet, so there were not many people there. We rode every ride we wanted to ride that day, but didn't really spend that much time looking at the animals and all that. Friday night after we got back from the park, we went over to the mall close to the port in Tampa and had dinner at Maggiano's and watched Thor. We really enjoyed both. I thought Thor would be more exciting, but it was still good. I am glad that now I know the story. We went back to Busch Gardens on Saturday and spent more time looking at the animals. The first thing we did was ride the train around the park so that we could see all the animals that are out in the open area. We rode a couple rides, at lunch, then went to the Cirque Dreams Jungle Fantasy, which was kind of like a miniature Cirque de Soliel (we think). We stopped to watch a short Christian concert and then it rained pretty hard. We ducked into one of the shops and tried to wait it out, but it just kept sprinkling. So, we bought a couple of ponchos and headed over to the animal area you can walk through. There we saw giraffes, gorillas, a small aquarium area (small compared to the GA aquarium), meerkats, and lions. I love giraffes! They were a lot of fun to watch. The little meerkats were also so cute! We had seen that they were having a Michael W. Smith concert that evening, so we headed over there. The openers were the the Sidewalk Prophets. We really enjoyed it. We would definitely pay to see Michael W. Smith. We ate dinner on the way to get in one more ride before the park closed. We purchased the all day dining deal that Busch Gardens offers and it was well worth it because we were able to get bottled waters and snacks all day when we wanted it. Here is our album of pictures from Busch Gardens.




On Sunday morning, we got up and took our time packing and eating breakfast, then headed over to he Port in Tampa. We went through the embarkation process to get our Sail and Sign cards (the ship ID) and got on the Carnival Legend. The first thing we did was find the buffet since our room wasn't ready yet. The food was pretty good. We chose the chinese buffet line. It was hard to find a table, so I sat at the first empty table we found while Scott got his food and then got mine while he ate. That was really the only way to do it since we were still lugging around our carry on luggage. By the time we were done with lunch, we were able to go to our room and put down our stuff. We then headed out to the pool to wait for the muster drill and the sail-away. We paid for a room with just a window, but we got upgraded for free to an obstructed balcony, probably because our ship wasn't full and my sister booked our cruise through her company and they book tons of cruises throug Carnival. The only other big things we did that night was go to dinner and the Welcome Aboard show. The show was so late that we checked out the Sing-along in the piano bar with a guy named Mr. H. That was a lot of fun. We met a couple at dinner who would supposedly be sharing our table for the week, Jocilyn and Dustin. The picture is of us sitting at the pool before the muster drill.




Monday was a "Fun Day at Sea" meaning we were cruising all day. We went to a couple of seminars about what do do in the ports when you weren't on an excursion, mainly about shopping. Please remind me to never waste my time at one of those again. They hand you all the information you need on the way off the ship and none of the "great deals" they talk about are really all that great from what I can tell. We also laid out in the sun, ate lunch, and went to our first "formal" night. Our new "friends" Jocilyn and Dustin had been drinking all day and were kind of funny, but Jocilyn said some things that I think embarrassed her. Also, Dustin hadn't realized that they prefer for you not to wear shorts and flip flops to the dining room. So, probably for those reasons, we never saw them again. That night there was a show called "Hot Jazz" that was pretty good.



Tuesday was our first day in a port of call, Cozumel. We had planned a dolphin swim and ride at the Dolphinaris. We really had a lot of fun. We got to pet the dolphins, "dance" with the dolphins, kiss the dolphins, hug the dolphins, and do a belly ride with the dolphin. Our dolpins names were Bina and Marcy (yep, that's right). The lunch was included in our package. It was pretty good, but when we saw how much it was, we decided that if it hadn't been included, we'd have gone somewhere else. After that, we just walked up and down the main shopping area and looked in the shops. We were getting up early the next morning, so we just headed to bed early and watched tv.




Wednesday was our day in Belize and our longest excursion. We went through a private company as opposed to going through Carnival. There were only six of us on our tour, Scott and me and a family of 3 and their son's friend. We did cave tubing and zip lining. The cave tubing was just okay. It was just like tubing in GA down the Chattahoochee, except you are going through a cave in the dark. We did see bat holes in the roof of the cave and some real live bats! Eek! The zip lining was tons of fun! We did 7 zip lines. We got some good videos of each of us zip lining. I really enjoyed being able to look down and see all the trees below us. Scott enjoyed it too and he's afraid of heights. It's a very controlled environment when you're zip lining.




Thursday was our day in Mohagany Bay, Isla Roatan which is in Honduras. We spent the morning on the beach. We purchased a package that included a ride on the "magical flying beach chair" which was a chair lift kind of like at ski resorts, two chairs and a "clam shell" cover, and two floats. The beach was crowded, but it was beautiful and they had an area roped off so that people could swim and not have to worry about floating too far out. Some people were renting snorkeling stuff and jumping off a dock that was a little to the left of where we were. I heard some people saying they saw all kinds of cool stuff. While we were at the beach, our waterproof digital camera stopped working. We had a regular digital camera on the ship, but the next day was our snorkeling trip, so we really wanted to digital camera. So, we decided to be cheap and go back to the ship for lunch, put away our beach things, then go back out to shop for a camera. No luck. We ran into a couple we'd met the next day while we were doing the slide later on and they have a waterproof camera and said they loved their's and had seen the exact same camera but a new model in the photo area on the ship. So, we bought one that night. That was our second "Cruise Elegant" night and there was a New Orleans-type show, so they had beads on everyone's plate when we got to the dining room. That night, it was really windy in the area the ship was sailing through, and we were going really fast. So, the ship was really rocking. There was a big show that night, the best one of the whole cruise, call The Big Easy. We couldn't believe the dancers and singers were still able to go on with the show. The cruise director had told them they shouldn't do it, but they really wanted to. The cruise director, Wee Jimmy, who was Scottish, said that after dinner he saw all the sober people walking around all unstable-looking and people were walking out of the bar in a straight line. It really was hard to walk!

Friday we were in Grand Cayman. It is so nice there! The water is beautiful and clear, the streets are fairly nice and clean. We shopped around, at lunch at Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville, and then went on a snorkeling tour. We visited a coral reef and a ship wreck. It was my first time snorkeling. Scott had been a couple of times before. There weren't tons of fish and there were really only abour 3-4 different kinds of fish down there. The ship wreck was cool. The ship was the Cali and it had a cool history about how it had had several owners, but the last owner had retro-fitted it with 2 big diesel engines. One night he was trying to make it back to the port to beat a storm and he fired up both engines at full throttle. The boat couldn't take the force of the engines, so it started to literally fall apart at the seams. He made it to the pier in Grand Cayman and a welder was trying to fix everything, but finally told him it was a lost job. Since he didn't want to be embarrassed by sinking his ship at the dock, he drove it further into the ocean and left it there. The boat was full of rice, so when the rice got wet, it expanded and literally sank the ship and busted the seams! It's the only time in history our tour guide knew of a boat being sank by rice. The British, who own Grand Cayman, thought the Cali was an eye sore, so they decided to blow it up right where it was. They brought 10 cases of dynamite with them. They really only needed 2.5, but they didn't want to take it all back with them. So, they hooked it all up and let 'er rip! The explosion was so huge, it busted all the windows out of the shops that are close to the dock in that area! This had happened years ago and the ship was all in pieces at the bottom of the ocean and there was lots of algae growing on it. That night, we saw a hilarious juggler, Dana Tison.



Saturday was another "Fun Day at Sea" and we got up bright and early so that we could get a good seat by the pool. We laid out by the pool, reading and napping and talking. There was an ice sculpting demonstration that afternoon. We of course spent a good bit of time on the slide. We played putt-putt on top of the ship in winds so hard, we had to lean into it to keep from being blown over. That was interesting. We worked on packing before dinner and managed to get most of it done before we went to eat. We just finished packing that night and went to bed since we knew we'd have to get up early if we wanted to get breakfast on the ship.




Sunday was "debarkation" and it really went very smoothly. We drove about half way home and stopped in Moultrie, GA where we had dinner with our friends John and Ashleigh, watched the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie, and stayed the night. We drove the rest of the way home on Monday and managed to get almost all of our laundry caught up! It was definitely a good idea to take Monday off!














I think we are both in post-vacation let-down. I, surprisingly, didn't feel a real sense of dread about going back to work. So, I thought that was good. I feel revived. I thought our vacation had a good mix of fun and activity and laying around and being lazy.

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