If someone asked me what I wanted to do for my birthday, and said money was no object, scuba diving in Cozumel would have been pretty near the top of my list. And, spoilers, that’s exactly how I spent my day. My life is rad. But let’s go back to the beginning, because it’s a very good place to start.
This is a long one, campers. Get a bevvie, a sammich, and a comfy chair as I’m doing this all in one shot.
I went and had a little jog that morning, and while a PR or at least a great race would have been a great way to start vacation, any morning I get to run 13 miles and am still upright after is a great one. The tummy issues started to subside as I got some food in me, and though we had a small wait to get on board, it was handled really really well (unlike ONE YEAR when we had to wait in line for like 9 hours outside and I got sick), and we snagged some lunch (potatoes, aloo, chickpea soup, salad, bread, scallops, stew, veggies – tastes of everything that looked yummy), and then went back to the room and popped the champagne cans we had saved for after the race. I felt much, much better by then.
The boat drill had us standing for quite a while, and I was really cranky because my legs were sore from racing. Once I got back to the room and finished my champagne can #2 though, I wasn’t feeling much pain anymore.
We changed for dinner (yay for our bags getting to us quickly) and as we sat down and ordered a glass of wine, we got notification that we had to book it to beat the fog, and we were off!
My plan was this – try not to eat like a complete jerk the rest of the time, but eat whatever I wanted at dinners. This particular day I enjoyed a roll with butter, spring rolls with peanut sauce, tortellini soup, crawfish etouffe w rice and veggies, split flourless chocolate cake with my mom, and had some bites of honeydew sorbet. So, yeah – I those carb stores were all back to where they should have been. Yep.
We saw the welcome show, which was a taste of all sorts of acts and meeting all the major staff. After that, we played cards with the ‘rents. Dad and I lost, which did not make us happy, but it was what it was.
Then, we left my parents and went up to the nightclub (the only bar that was still open) and drank a few crown on the rocks. This was my plan for drinking – mixed drinks I can pound until I can’t see straight, and I was hoping not to come home with another injury. The straight stuff, I sip like a normal human being, and I look classy. Bonus.
We weren’t feeling the dancing – running a hard half marathon does that to you, I guess, but we really enjoyed people watching and talking, and later retired to bed to watch TV with a to go drink, and drifted to sleep with the rock of the boat.
Sunday: Sea Day
After a few early wakeups, I really enjoyed sleeping until I couldn’t sleep no more in the dark of the interior cabin. Good times. Once I got up, I dithered around a bit, reading, tv, etc, and then finally got myself presentable to leave the cabin and we went to lunch.
Food there was a salad with spectacular tomato basil vinegrette, pea soup, a bite of fettucini, a few bites of some really great (usually cruise mexican food is WAH WAH) chicken enchiladas, and some fajita innards with a few tortilla chips, and more veggies. Yum.
After lunch we headed to the champagne art auction, because a) champagne and b) we were actually interested in buying some art. However, the art we wanted didn’t come up, and nothing else struck our fancy. I was kinda getting grumpy about spending 2 hours at it, but it was kind of fun (the auctioneer made it not so super serious).
We spent the afternoon playing cards with the ‘rents. I lost. Again. Meh. I was also cranky because I had yet to get any fun in the sun pool time, butt it was ~70 and super windy, so I decided to be patient and not tough it out for the sake of doing it (yes, poor me, pity me please…).
It was a fancy dressup night, so I decided to split the difference with fancy dress and some make up, but I let me hair do the au natural stuff and ended up with a fairly nice picture of us, so I’ll maintain I made the right call.
Dinner was pretty stellar, the requisite bread and butter, chilled corn soup, asparagus and salmon soup, salad w blue cheese, garlic shrimp dinner with rice and veggies, and the BEST desert – Oreo pb pie with a little bit of grapefruit sorbet on the side (not great together, but so so so good individually).
Please keep in mind this picture was AFTER the dinner when looking at the full body shot.
We did a lot of walking around, getting more pictures, drinking a glass of champagne, checking out the art gallery, and then we showed up to a PACKED revue show to which we got crappy seats not together, but it worked. We couldn’t locate my parents after, so we wandered more and ended up at the majority rules game show. Was not in the majority, lost badly but was a lot of fun. We decided to try to show up to more gameshows.
We hit the late buffet just to grab some snacks to bring with while diving the next day – but ended up snacking on some greek salad, some brie and blue cheese, green beans, and a potato croquet. Oops. We had a discussion over the snack of the idea for a new game feature, which could be promising! Can I write all this off as a business expense now?
Ended up back at the room really early and zonked out on my last day of being 34.
Monday: Cozumel (Birthday)
It’s fuzzy, but for some reason I look like the girl from She’s All That.
Happy birthday to me! I woke up semi-on time, and in enough time to fuel up for the day with corned beef hash (this is my cruise breakfast treat – I love it but it’s just so awful, I know), two hashbrown bits, english muffin w/ cream cheese, bacon, and fruit. It sounds like a lot, but diving REALLY takes a lot out of you.
We waited and then finally got the signal to go and our party was missing one – it happened to be the guy we were talking to that mentioned he was waiting for his wife on the ship because she had his passport. We relayed the message and she had to run back there and we had a little wait. It harkened to the days before cell phones. What did we do without?
We finally got all our peeps, then got out on the water and rode for about 45 mins to the first spot. I was happy as could be, I could have not asked for a better day, except for ONE THING.
So, my birthday wish was to see a turtle. Now, on the first dive, I saw MANY COOL THINGS. I saw a manta ray with a ramora fish attached. I got to hang out with a 5-6 foot nurse shark for a bit, real close. So many pretty fishies. But, after the first dive, when Zliten was like “OMG did you see the turtle?” I was like… “Whaaaaaa?” I totally missed him. He was super far away. So, I guess I got to SWIM with a turtle, close enough.
I could talk for a whole post about diving, but I’ll give the short version. The crew was pretty cool and did a lot of the heavy lifting for us. We got to go in the group that was first off and last back on, so lots of water time. We drift dove in the Cozumel currents, which meant we started at point A and the boat picked us up at point B. I fumbled a bit with my new camera, but got some great shots. This was not my favorite diving experience (it will take a lot to top Bonaire) but it was solid. Never a bad day when you get to spend time like this.
The boat dropped us off, we did a quick change, and went to one of those super touristy bars on the pier. It was my birthday, I wanted a big sugary fruity drink. I had some restraint though, I only had one. We met a couple from Oregon and talked a bit. We saw them throughout the cruise, but they always looked either super drunk or super hung over and cranky, so we didn’t really become cruise friends. On the way back to the ship, I picked up some rum cakes for souveniers and we waved bye bye to Cozumel.
A quick change, and then we toasted my birthday before dinner with champagne with the family. I got some earrings and socks. I’m a simple girl. I was happy.
Birthday dinner was ultimately spectacular. I’ll say it was my favorite, but I may contradict this later in the writeup. So much good food. On the menu: crab dip w/bread, Caesar salad, filet mignon and gorgeous shrimp, chocolate birthday cake, and butter pecan ice cream.
We played yet another round of cards and yet again I lost. No birthday luck there. We had originally planned on being super good that night because I wanted to spend EVERY MOMENT POSSIBLE in Roatan, but we got there later than I thought, so we went back to the nightclub bar to hang out and people watch for a bit, but then realized that the room bottle service was a MUCH better deal and we weren’t feeling social, so we got that (and maybe some fries for electrolyte purposes) delivered to the room.
I got up super duper excited for the day and fueled up with a similar healthy breakfast except I had a strawberry pancake instead of hashed browns.
Once it was FINALLY TIME we got off the ship, we took a gondola ride seeing some gorgeous views (fun fact: I booked the gondola ride because I got the impression it was the only way to get to the private beach. My parents walked and made it there before us.) and then it was SNORKEL TIME! I love diving, but it is such a hassle to deal with equipment and snorkeling you can just get in the water with a few things and GO. It’s like comparing triathon to running.
Again, I could do a whole post about this day, but here’s the highlights. At first, we got in and explored the swimming area and it was kinda snoozey. Then, we cut across to the slightly deeper area and RIGHT THERE was this HUGE reef. It took everything I could to not go find a phone, tell everyone I wasn’t coming home, and move to Roatan.
We spent two hours out there exploring and finally I got dragged out of the water by Zliten for a rest. Boo. We found my mom lounging on the chair reading under the clamshell and Zliten got us a plate of smoked jerk chicken, beans and rice, pico, and fried plantains to nibble on for lunch. While that digested I went for a float w Joel and then we decided to go back out to the reef.
The second time we got a LOT better pictures and got a lot more bold. We both free dove probably about 20 feet down to look at stuff, we saw lobsters and crabs and creeped on a school of fish playing paparazzi, and I saw my octopus buddy again!
I also saw a HUGE spotted ray whiz right by me, and I tried to chase it down… and ended up WAYYY out in the boat lane and the kayaker yelled at me to come back. Oops.
Zliten was done with the water, so he did the reading thing, and I went to go float with my mom for a while. I noticed my heels were chafed from my fins… or so I though. Nope, HOLY BACK OF THE LEGS SUNBURN. It was bad. It’s STILL peeling, and I spend a lot of time in the sun so it takes a lot to burn me.
We had to say goodbye to our pretty beach, and we ended up meeting a couple from San Diego on the gondola ride back and shot the shit with them. I looked into every little shop for a tee to bring back and finally found my birthday turtle on a shirt. I was satiated.
We had a little wine, and then went to dinner. It was italian night. I love italian night! I had a little spaghetti and meat ball appetier (I meant to get it to taste it but ate the whole damn thing because it was GREAT), minestrone soup, salad with cheese and bacon, tilapia, and limoncello sorbet with a bit of tiramasu.
After dinner, I was having food hallucinations. I was so tired from so much sun and fun and a huge meal. We went to the show (it was called Calliente – some really cool costumes!) – Zliten couldn’t keep his eyes open waiting for it to start, I made it through – but begged off right after and retired to the room to watch TV and read and sleep super early.
Yep, someone still had the red filter on from the day before…
We were booked for an early ruins tour, so I slept like a sleep monster until 5 minutes before I had to go, thus skipping breakfast. We had some emergency snacks packed, so I shared a bar with Zliten on the bus and life was fine. The bus ride was about an hour to get to the ruins site, and the tour guides entertained us with stories about Belize.
There were so many schools and churches, and while a lot of the houses were rickety, we found out at 18, they get to apply for land granted by the government and get 5 years to build on it. So they all pretty much know how to build a house. So useful! Also, there were some sweet houses for the rich people – mostly government officials. The day was gorgeous, about 80 and humid, but the sky was SO BLUE and the trees were so GREEN. I just couldn’t get over it.
We got to the ruins of Alten-ha and got more stories about what they were used for – I’m going to gloss over this part because I don’t remember a lot of it and this is already epic-length (and that’s what google is for), but we got to climb a bunch of them and look out… so pretty.
It was a nice reinforcement of fitness because the climbs were NO PROBLEM for us but hard for a lot of the group. I guess I’m not THAT bad at hills? 🙂
Our bus broke down, so we had a bit of a wait after the tour so we grabbed a beer (BELIKIN! Yay!) and soon we were on our way. Zliten napped on the way back, I took pictures, and then we were all of a sudden back at the docks.
We hit up the Wet Lizard – a totally tourist bar, but we had met the owner last time so we were hoping to see her and say hi. We did – she probably didn’t remember us (it had been 3 years) but talked to her for a bit. Being that it was late afternoon and all we had was half a bar and one beer, we indulged in some belizian meat pies, fish and chicken tacos, and a bucket or two of Belikins (we mixed a few lighthouse lagers in there too), watching the ocean and the construction workers next door. It was a nice, relaxing afternoon.
We picked up a souvenir tee shirt for Zliten, then picked up a tender boat back to the ship, and relaxed in the room for a bit (potentially with some Crown on the rocks, because, why not, we were done with responsible stuff).
Night came, so we washed up for dinner, which was goat cheese tart with bread, butter lettuce salad with an amazing shalot vinegrette, orange roughy with rice and veggies, and bites of creme brule, amaretto ice cream, and a chocolate haystack for desert. Y’know, a light dinner. We followed that up with some great big band music, and convinced my parents to stay for the YES/NO gameshow.
The host asked you questions and you had to last two minutes without saying yes or no. I lasted about a minute, my mom lasted just over a minute, Zliten got screwed on the second question, and my dad convientently went to the bathroom when his name was called. We also did the “jingle” trivia test, and got really close to winning since we had a lot of decades covered, but some others beat us.
We hit the buffet late night style but I kept myself to veggies and hummus and a little salad. Two more crown on the rocks were needed in the room (yay more bottle service) to wind down with TV and books, and then we drifted to sleepyland.
Thursday: At Sea
Another sleep until we couldn’t day. Ahhhhh. We got up and got on our pool attire and headed up to deck to read. We were unfortunately treated to cloudy skies and some wind. Booooo! Then, it started to rain. Double booo! It was about lunch time so we headed indoors and I had some salad, catfish, bites of lasagna, amazing ginger chicken stir fry, veggies, and bread.
It was not great weather, but it stopped with the raining, so I went out and chilled and read more. Since my Zliten had recently decided to shave his legs for triathlete purposes, I poked him to join in the sexy legs contest. He did alright, but he didn’t strut enough and some 16 year old kid won. Whomp whomp. We had many people come up and say later that they cheered for him though, so that was good.
Finally the sun came out, and we continued with the reading by the pool. I heard they were doing a contest called “Bar Wars” and I was all in for that, so I got to be a judge and got to grade the Mai Tai category. I did end up giving a point to the guys (they made it stronger) and the two teams tied. Oh well. Went back to reading, and then retired back to the cabin and had a few more adult bevvies and more book. I usually read SO MUCH on vacation and I barely got through ONE.
It was fancy night #2 – and this time I actually did my hair and stuff. I felt a little less than sexy due to the cruise bloat (not a whole lot of weight gain, just the rich food bleh), but my dress was forgiving so out we went for din dins. A quick stop in the cabin to have some wine with the parents, and we arrived for the feast.
Dinner was bread and butter, cheese from a cheese plate, Thai rolls, tomato soup, salad w vinaigrette, shrimp and lobster, pralines and cream ice cream, pb haystack. I suppose I should mention that these things are portioned out nicely. You’re getting a five course meal – they know you don’t need any of them to be gigantic.
We finished up the domino game and I finally won something!!! Woohoo!!! We started a new game and it was looking promising for me again, but put a pin in it to go elsewhere. We were looking to have one more night of debauchery, but it was hard to motivate. We spent HOURS digesting and reading in the cabin, but finally got back up to the dance club.
It was packed. We barely found a table. This was some FUN people watching. A group of older ladies were dancing, and one fell as Zliten walked by and he caught her. What a shining night in armor! She just got back up and kept dancing though, she was a trooper.
Finally, a song caught us and we danced. And danced. And danced. It was a blast! The DJ actually cut us off after hours and we begged him for more music but it was not to be. I joke that we close out the gym instead of the club nowadays (truth-I got the lights turned off on me in the pool the other day while I was swimming laps) so it was nice to have a flashback of previous selves.
We went back to the room to keep imbibing. We called room service for some drunk food – actually twice. We ordered fries and a salad to split, but when they came, we got like, five fries and a tiny side salad. We tried to go to the little cafe but the food didn’t look appetizing, so we called again for more food. Gluttons. However, since dinner was at 5:30pm and it was 4am, it was time for a feeding, especially after dancing for hours. Once the hunger beasts were satiated, we slept.
Friday: at sea
Slept until 10, which sadly was only 5.5 hours. My mom called and was like, “Hey there’s this sale, let’s go check it out”, to which I reluctantly, but dutifully like a good daughter got up ad checked out. Didn’t buy anything, I wasn’t really in the market for anything there, but it was fun to look. We then caught the end of the kitchen demo, and headed to the galley tour. I mean, I know they need huge kitchens to produce that sort of gluttony, but HOLY WOW the kitchen was big, and we only saw the “production floor”, there was a whole ‘nother level or two of food stores. Just wow.
It was time to feed the beasts, so we headed to lunch… shrimp fry, bite o mashed potato, bite spinach lasagna, pineapple, cauliflower, spinach, green beans, veggie soup, bread, bites of Asian food, and bite of coconut mousse thing. One thing I loved about the cruise food was the amount of healthy food that was just readily available at the buffets. Sure, I had bites of lots of things, but I was able to load my plate up with mostly veggies and a little fruit, and then a small corner of other things to nom on. I’m pretty sure that’s why I haven’t gained the “cruise 10” the last times I went. Also, not being afraid to skip meals. Lunch OR breakfast was perfectly adequate when I had super rich, big, 5:30pm dinners.
We did the read and nap thing a bit (in the cabin – bad weather – boo), and then the captain came on to announce we found something in the water and we were circling back to check it out! We went up to deck and it was an abandoned small boat – no one in it – but still… crazy!
Being the last day, we packed up our stuff (it all seemed to fit as it did before, which was nice). We decided to treat ourselves to a slice of pizza as a midday snack. Oh, woodfired pepperoni pizza, you’re my only friend. Back to the cabin, and we watched a movie – Red 2 – and I napped a little. Because that’s what you do the last day of vacation when it’s crappy out.
We just couldn’t do any more wine, so we gave my parents the last of our leftovers to drink before dinner, and then had a last feast – lingine w clam sauce appetizer (I didn’t expect to love it and got it just to have a taste – but OMG SO GOOD I finished the whole thing, oops), shrimp cocktail, salad w eggplant, zuccini, asparagus, tomato, which wasn’t really my thing, curry fish with rice and veggies , bday cake (we wanted to celebrate Zliten’s which was next week), baked Alaska, and a bite of cherry sorbet.
After dinner, we walked around, bought souvenirs, picked out our picture for the cruise (from the first formal night), and then went to finale show. It was called born to be wild, and was a lot of fun. Probably one of the best we’ve seen on a cruise. They had a for reals pink cadillac on stage the whole time. Legit.
We finished up domino game #2 and I won again! There was my mojo back! After trouncing the ‘rents and Zliten, we went back to the cabin and did final packing. Zliten decided to be indulgent and grab something from the cafe, and I told him to surprise me, and he came back with a black and white mousse to split. I had a few bites, cried fatty pants uncle, and then we went to sleep.
Saturday: Go Home (BOO)
Up at 745 (latest possible time I could) and showered just in time to get out of the room by 8. I had one last breakfast of the typical fare:corned beef hash (ahhh, til next cruise), bacon, half an english muffin, pineapple, waffle, and a hash brown. We got off the boat as scheduled at 9:45, drove home uneventfully except driving through a huge cloud which was scary, and got home around 1:30 and hugged our couch and bed.
I was lucky that this was a rest week for me, so no formal run/bike/swim – though I did rack up quite a few steps walking around the boat, and over 5 hours of active water time with snorkeling and diving (and dancing). I was a little up when I hit the scale Monday – but it took 3-4 days of normal eating to see normal numbers on the scale, so it was a total success! I highly recommend an intense long run before vacation to rev up your metabolism to fight off greedy eating weight gain. No injuries to report, and no nights I don’t remember. 35 is about being old enough to know where the line is better, I suppose!
Also, I just want to be back in Roatan with the fishies. Until next time…
If you’d like to see more diving/snorkeling pics, click here…