Our cruise vacation started last Sunday with a drive down to Tampa with my dad, mom, Jake, and Colee. We got into Tampa around mid-afternoon and headed straight to the pool (since we wouldn't be getting enough of that over the next few days). For dinner, we decided to check out a Cuban restaurant in downtown Tampa, called the Columbian. After dinner we walked the strip for a little bit before calling the shuttle and heading back to our hotel to make sure we're all ready to get on the cruise ship the next morning.
The cruise ship opened its doors to us around 11:30 the next morning and left the port around 4:00. We spent the whole first day exploring the ship until our luggage appeared in our room just in time to get ready for dinner!
We ate so much over the course of the week that I really can't remember specific meals from each day but the thing that stood out most to me from our dining experiences was our awesome waiter, Gonsi! Like seriously... awesome! He even had creme brulee prepared for our table even though it wasn't ever on the menu!
|Before dinner on the first menu, CLEARLY missing my husband a little bit.|
The first full day on the ship was a day at sea as we traveled to our first destination, Grand Cayman. We spent lots of time lounging around the pool and reading before getting dressed up for the one formal dinner of the trip.
After our fancy pants dinner of lobster tails and other goodies, the girls spent some time (and money) in the casino at the slot machines after arriving too late to the comedy show of the evening.
Wednesday morning, we got off the boat bright and early and tendered to the port in Grand Cayman. With no clue what we wanted to do once on land, we began walking around until we found a public bus to take us a spot on 7-mile beach. While on the bus, we met a couple on a different cruise ship that told us they heard good things about a specific beach resort, called Royal Palms. We were charged $2 per person to get into the private beach club, which contained not only a nice stretch of beach, but also a pool with a swim up bar, and restaurant, and free wifi so I could contact Ryan!! Win!
When we got to the beach, we rented some beach chairs and relaxed for a while with this view...
Within about an hour or so, some serious weather rolled in, completely covering our view of our cruise ship off in the distance. We moved our stuff up to the pool, hanging out by the pool bar for a little bit before packing things up and taxi-ing back to the port. While the weather never affected us as the beach, we ended up walking around the shops near the port in a torrential downpour. We all wanted some sort of souvenir to bring back with us so of course we didn't let a little rain get in our way!
The boat left Grand Cayman around 3, so we spent the rest of the afternoon napping and getting ready for dinner (1 shower, 5 people...). After dinner, we went straight to the Queen Mary Lounge to wait for the comedy show since it was too crowded for us to watch the night before. The comedian was named "Cowboy Comedian" and turned out to be pretty funny. We also witnessed a proposal which was pretty sweet.
Thursday around 11, we docked the boat at Cozumel, and rushed off to make it to our pre-booked shore excursion in time. We ended up booking a trip that took us all over the island, stopping at three different places.
|Pulling up to the dock. Viva Mexico!|
Our first stop brought us to San Gervasio Mayan Ruins in the middle of the island. While this was something I really wanted to do while in Mexico and I'm glad we did it, I probably wouldn't do it again. It was very hot and required some SERIOUS imagination since most of the structures were pretty ... well, ruined. It was very cool to hear how the Mayans lived and survived for so many years and the different traditions they created and followed.
After a couple of hours, we hopped back onto the bus and headed to our second destination, which was a beach on the eastern side of the island. We only had an hour and a half at this location, so the first thing we did was sit down for an authentic mexican lunch, which definitely did not disappoint. We even had authentic mexican coca cola, which is made in mexico using sugar cane.
We walked down to the ocean for a bit before getting on the bus again and heading to our third and final destination, the TEQUILA factory! Andale! Andale!
We tasted four of five different tequilas, a 7-year old tequila that was aged in old Jack Daniels Barrels, a silver tequila, a pina colada infused tequila, a guanabana tequila (Guava and Banana- a bottle of this one came home with me), and an amaretto infused tequila. YUM!
I don't really remember much from Thursday night (which is not a result of all of the tequilas I tasted, thank you very much), but I'm pretty sure we either went to a show or the casino after dinner before crashing fairly early.
|Before dinner Thursday night!|
|One of the many gorgeous views off our balcony during this trip!|
The water on Friday was absolutely beautiful and more serene than I have ever seen it. So beautiful and such a nice view to enjoy at the end of our trip!
Friday night, we said goodbye to Gonsi with one final meal and watched a show in the theater room put on by the Carnival singers and dancers. The next morning we woke up early to debark and make the long trek back to Georgia, ending my month-long vacation.
I'm so glad I was able to go on the cruise with my family. We had an absolute blast exploring other parts of the world and are already planning our next family vacation (Don't worry, Ryan- we'll make sure you are in attendance this time!)
Thanks Mom and Dad for hosting me for pretty much all of July- Love ya'll!!