Cruise - Ocho Rios (Jamaica), Grand Cayman

Julie and I are back from our cruise.

This was our first cruise. Initially I had some doubts. Would I feel trapped on the boat? Would I get sea sick? Would I feel like I'd become one of the people in Wall-E? Well, it turns out cruises are super nice. Julie and I could both find enough activities to keep ourselves well entertained and the ship felt plenty roomy. The ride was very stable. Most of the time the motion of the ship was barely noticeable, and when it was evident it was kinda fun. Lastly and bestly, between being active enough to avoid any need to boredom snack and eating excellent food, I lost about 2.5 pounds on the cruise. Good times.

One of the activities on the cruise was a formal night. Everybody dressed up nice before going to dinner and a show. I had some doubts (wear a tie on vacation?!) but we played along and it turned out to be really nice. Here's a (fuzzy) picture of the group waiting for a show to start after dinner on formal night.

They had a fancy 3-level Vegas-style auditorium (called the Palladium - I believe the same name Ironman uses for the material that powers his suit :) with drink service. For this evening's show, a talking sofa introduced 5-6 different song and dance numbers. It was my first experience with singing dancing "shows" and I thought it was fun.

Here's a picture Julie took of me after we'd finished up our activities in Jamaica.

Earlier that day, we went snorkeling and walked up a waterfall. In the waterfall mind you, not along some trail next to it. Everybody holds hands and a guide leads the group up.

Here's a quick video I made after returning to the ship following Jamaica. I give a tour of our room and show how we get on and off the ship at the dock.

Jamaica was nice, but walking anywhere was somewhat uncomfortable thanks to an overwhelming presence of, well, not really beggars but maybe the term is "aggressive entrepreneurs?" It was a constant stream of people trying to sell you necklaces or carvings etc. Many of them were much more confrontational and pushy than other places I'd been (e.g. they'd pick you out of a group and start trying to put necklaces on you). Once you were actually doing an activity, it was lots of fun but the transitions were uncomfortable.

The day after Jamaica, our Captain parked the ship off the cost of Grand Cayman. Here's a picture of a Cayman Islands bank :)

There logo is some sort of gryphon. That's right, banks in the Cayman's are cool enough to use mythical eagle lions as logos.

While all the stores accept US dollars, everybody knows that the official currency in the Cayman's is Caymans. Here are a few gentlemen looking to make an investment.

Later, I was able to locate some local currency myself.

Okay, but seriously, wouldn't it be awesome if people traded lizards as money and bigger ones were worth more? I think that would be super cool. The sad truth is, those big lizards were there to alert the world to the plight of the endangered blue iguana. There were giant lizards all over the island though. 2 footers.

Also, outside the united states, everybody sells Cuban cigars. Here's one of me next to a cigar kiosk at the dock in Grand Cayman.

They had a proper store inside. Unfortunately, you had to smoke all of them before returning to the states. The customs officials were total buzz kills that way.

In Grand Cayman, we swam with a dolphin and we played grab-a-sea-turtle. Here's one of Julie harassing a turtle at the sea turtle farm.

The dolphin swing was really cool too. We all lined up in a pool on a ledge that put us a little more than waist deep and we interacted with our new dolphin friend. We gave one signal and she swam up and put her head in our hands and we could give her a kiss. Then we did another signal and she would stand up and hold out her flippers and dance with us. At the end, we got to slide out in the deeper water and she would swim around and let us pet her, etc. It was super cool.

Extra bonus: After playing with a dolphin in Grand Cayman, we started seeing them around the cruise ship. In the end we saw three pods, one with at least 20 dolphins. They would swim up and play in the wake of the ship. One of the groups had some jumpers. It turns out, dolphins do for fun in the wild everything they do for fish at sea world.

Here's another video I shot of our departure from Grand Cayman.

After Grand Cayman, we had another day at sea, then we landed in Miami. Everything was smooth leaving the ship, but we had some nasty delays through Atlanta.

A storm had swept through the Atlanta airport causing them to shut down for a few hours. I think Atlanta is so overcrowded it's very fragile to disruption. Anything that goes wrong cascades through the entire day delaying all the flights and delaying flights in and out of every airport it touches. My advice - avoid connections in Atlanta. We eventually got back to Wichita only 4 hours late at about 1:30 a.m. It was incredibly frustrating though because no information flows and we never knew until the next step whether or not we were going to miss something or have a cancellation.

Anyway, we got home and that's all good. Julie and I are discovering that we don't know how to eat anymore. For the last week 2/3 of our meals have gone like this:

Round 1: A waiter fills our glasses while a second waiter offers us a selection of bakery items.
Round 2: Order an appetizer (or all three courses at once for breakfast)
Rounds 3-5: Enjoy a course of the meal, maybe get another croissant, etc.
Round 6: Waiter asks if there is anything else we'd like, we say "no thanks." The waiter then moves away and we can just walk off any time we want (i.e. we didn't have to pay or anything).

I found that the kitchen staff was much better at portion control than me. The times I went to the buffet I felt a bit stuffed an uncomfortable, but I developed great faith in the sit down service dining options.

Now, Julie and I just stare at the kitchen and wonder what to do. I had some ramen earlier. I think Julie's getting by on chocolate milk. We'll have to hire a chef I suppose.


julie said…
I really do miss the meals. I think we'd both do well with a personal chef.
4 Is More said…
Sadly, I found the meals to be about the best part, too.

So how many Cuban cigars did you get - 10? 100?
4 Is More said…
We just watched the videos and they are super cool! Love the balcony views and the pop-up comment on #2. :)
Ah, good. I can't stand my voice (need to speak from the chest, not the nose) but I think that's pretty normal. I had so few decent pictures from the trip that I was happy the videos came out as well as they did.

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