I usually type out these long winded “what I did every day on vacation” recaps, which get almost exactly 0 comments because, well, who cares what I ate at the buffet for lunch on Thursday or that I spent Tuesday afternoon reading. So, let’s try the high points instead.
Post marathon and cruising:
Saturday after the marathon I set pretty good expectations with my parents about my potential mental and physical state. So, when I was able to only deal with about 20 mins of hanging out in the afternoon, going to dinner and eating an embarrassing portion, and then one game of cards after, they were pleasantly surprised instead of upset about it.
The next day, embarkation day was kind of rough. Let me tell you the tale of pain of having to stand for 30 minutes for a boat drill the day after a marathon. It’s probably about as painful as the last 10k of the race, but you don’t get a medal at the end. Though, there is beer. So, sort of the same? By the afternoon, I felt like this…
…cranky, tired, and not really wanting to play reindeer games with anyone but having to accommodate my parents by actually going to fancy dinner and with a little bit of QT when all I wanted to do was to be horizontal somewhere.
However, after a lengthy sleep and the next day of mainly laying on deck and reading my book, I felt better.
Actually taking the time to get to the gym Wednesday to spin out my legs and stretch and roll made me feel like a whole new person. I didn’t plan on doing any structured workouts, but next time, I would try to do that sooner if just to improve my mood and stiffness.
- The buffalo chicken strips, fries, and salad I had in The Woodlands for dinner after the race at Willie’s Icehouse were tip top. I will definitely consider returning there for post-race festivities if I’m in the area.
- Waffles with nutella, butter, and syrup for the day after m-day at Springhill Suites breakfast bar. Game changer. All the carbs.
- All the indian food at the buffet was EXCELLENT. Masala fish, butter chicken…
- They had weird pizzas every day, some were good, some were… interesting. I tried thai chicken (awesome), beef teriyaki (pretty good), and shrimp (ehhh).
- The jerk chicken I got in Jamaica. So spicy and delicious.
- They brought fully cooked meals to your room for breakfast (most cruises just do continental breakfast). So, most mornings, I woke up with two strips of bacon or sausage, a bite of hashed browns, some fruit, and tea.
- The dining room food was certainly just fine, but not a lot stood out as awesome. The list that rocked my socks off: garlic soup, tandoori chicken salad, flourless chocolate cake, chicken cordon bleu, and key lime pie.
- The most EXPENSIVE for-the-value thing we did was one margarita, 2 beers, and chips and salsa in Grand Cayman cost us about 50 bucks US.
We clean up OK:
One reason I love cruises is that we actually get a chance to wear clothes that are not a) spandex b) pajamas or c) tees and jeans. I have to record these moments.
Night 2 (formal night):
Night 6 (formal night 2):
Adult Bevvie Action:
I had some post race beers on Saturday, but it was more of a “caaaaaalories” thing and relaxing a little than a “get drunk” thing.
My parents have been on a million cruises, and one of their perks was free drinks from 4:30-8 every day. They let us in on it some of the time. Considering the prices, it was very nice (drinks were generally 7 bucks or more). So, we saw this a lot…
One of my favorite drinks on cruise ships is Crown on the rocks. Generally, its reasonably priced, and bartenders are usually pretty impressed with a girl ordering it, so I get hefty pours.
I always try to get a local beer if I can (even if it’s the equivalent of Budweiser, because most countries make MUCH BETTER mass market beer). In Jamaica, you get a Red Stripe. In Grand Cayman, you get a White Tip Lager. In Cozumel, when you are at an all-inclusive… you get whatever they’re pouring you (I think Dos Equis).
I enjoyed my bevvies responsibly until the second to last day (with the all-inclusive package). I started the fun by forgetting to eat lunch. Priorities were 1. snorkeling 2. booze… and then everything else fell off. Then, we had more beers with our new friends Mary and Chris, and then somehow I ended up in my red formal dress at fancy dinner… and then the night gets a little hazy. I crashed out early and didn’t injure anything this time so life is good.
I spent most of my birthday in a bathing suit, reading, napping, and swimming. No complaints. Happy Quix is happy. However, the night before was… interesting.
We headed up to the lounge/dance area and spent an interesting and exciting night people watching. We got a seat in the back, which made it a little hard to see the people on the dance floor, but easy to see out the window to the pool.
At the pool, a drunk, greyhaired lady with one of those swimsuit coverup with an airbrushed bikini on it, was trying to get into the water. It was closed, and security was there escorting her out. She was NOT having it, and threw her sandal in the water. They fished it out and she threw the other one in. As they fished that one out, they had to lift the net up, and she went for a dive to get in… and she fell. She was ok, but she was a little subdued after that and decided to leave.
Shortly after that, a party of drunk girls showed up to the table next to us. The tables had some ambient lighting on them, and the one next to us was broken. It didn’t have a lampshade or bulb in it, which is actually why we didn’t sit there, even though it was a better seat. One of the girls decided to stick her finger in the socket, and… as you would guess, it had electricity going to it. She was yelling and shaking until someone pulled her away… and it sounded like her finger got cracked pretty good. It smelled all to burned flesh and they had to bring the lights up to take care of her for a few minutes, but I was pretty amazed how “the show went on” rather quickly. The people up front probably didn’t know what happened.
I toasted my birthday at midnight being that perfect age where I don’t go sticking my fingers in light sockets OR harassing security guards at pools while drinking. The sweet spot.
Apparently, the thing to do in Jamaica is to see the falls. However, with Zliten just recovering from his bear fight and subsequent broken leg, and the travel time necessary, we decided to find the closest beach the cruise would take us to and just do that. This beach was Red Stripe beach.
When we got there around noon, it was truly just that – a little beach with a snack stand and waiters, a lifeguard, and massage services. The water was rough, it was cloudy and a little stormy, the swimming area roped off was very small, and there was ZIP to see in the water. We gave open water swimming a go and ended up spending 30 seconds to get 500m down and spent another 15 minutes getting back to where we started. I gave up and walked some of it.
However, you’re in Jamaica, on a beach. You enjoy being in/around the ocean, drink a red stripe, eat jerked chicken, and realize that your life is not so bad at all.
We had an early, early 6am wakeup call so we could eat breakfast and be ready for an 8am dive excursion. We chose Grand Cayman instead of Cozumel for diving this time because it offered a one tank shore dive, which we’ve never done in the ocean before. It was really cheap, considering, and after researching, we figured we could get a second tank and go off on our own after.
Getting equalized sometime is a huge noob moment for me because it can take me a while, and diving from shore means plenty of time to get adjusted and chillin’ while everyone else gets acclimated.
And…. happy birthday to meeeee (well, a few days late, but), I finally got to see a turtle. He played with us for a while. I think we all would have continued to chase him down and play paparazzi, but the divemaster kept us on course.
We also got to see a trumpet fishie and play with some angel fish but… turtle!
Zliten didn’t want to risk injuring his leg again (dive gear is like 60-70 extra lbs, and it was a decent walk from loading it up to shore), and our day was already made, so we called it. We bought shirts, and headed to tourist trap central (Margaritaville) to get a drink and a snack.
It was a blast, but definitely a one-time thing. Grand Cayman had dollar amounts on the menu, which looked like pricey but typical… until they mentioned the fact that they also had to be translated to GC dollars. As I mentioned before, two local beers, 1 margarita, and chips and salsa cost 50 bucks.
However, they had a waterslide, and it was early enough not to be clogged up with drunk people, so I made liberal use of it before we left.
While I had no idea how I could top seeing a turtle in GC, I think the best day of vacation was here in Cozumel.
We went to an all-inclusive resort called Playa Mia. All you can eat, drink, lounge, snorkel (well, with your own gear or rent it), play on the inflatable water slides… we were most looking forward to this day.
Of all these things, for us, snorkeling is priority number one, so we got there, got geared and sunscreened up, and headed into the water for the vaaaaast majority of the day.
First, we found this pot that were protected by the blue fishies. The seargent majors wanted to party but the other ones kept nipping them away. We saw a purple spot, which meant breeding area, Zliten said, so it made sense.
We found these awesome red starfish all over. After a while, someone yelled at us for picking them up, but I promise we were careful. We made sure to hold them delicately, and swim them back down instead of dropping them.
The biggest spotted eagle ray we’ve ever seen visited us in less than 20 feet of water! He probably had a bigger wingspan than I do, and was 10 feet tip to tail. I’m really glad I do sprints in the pool because otherwise I would have never been able to catch this guy, and calm down enough to get pictures that actually were focused. We followed him around like that for about 5 minutes, and then had to take a rest. They swim fast!
I found the most chill yellow spotted stingray in very shallow water. Zliten and our buddy Chris were still gearing up and getting in. I kept tabs on him for about 10 mins waiting for them. He was either very mellow, or was scared of me and didn’t want to move too much.
Also in very shallow water, I found a brown spotted eel. Usually these guys hide well, and you can only see them poke out of nooks and crannies, but he was just hanging out for everyone to see. I’m pretty sure the people hanging out and having drinks in the ocean around here probably would have freaked out about seeing an eel right below them, but I was excited!
Sergent majors are my favorite, and I think they know it too, because this school led me around when I went back in by myself after Zliten and Chris had enough. They got right up next to my camera. It was super fun!
The rest of the day was for priority 2: drinks. Since we only had about 1 hour left, and ship drinks were expensive, I put back quite a few dos equis! We had a great time drying out and chatting with Chris and Mary, and all of a sudden, it was last call for the bus, I forgot to eat, and we had to leave paradise. Sad.
We prolonged it a little by having some more beers by the boat, and I got some chips and guac. We took a little dip into the ocean right off the pier (it may or may not have been the most convenient place to pee), got fed lots of free shots, danced, and enjoyed our last minutes of our last day in port.
Fun things we did on the ship:
If we weren’t doing anything else, we were up on the Lido deck with our kindles, in swimsuits, reading and taking dips in the pool. That is the core of vacation relaxation for me.
Somehow this cruise, on the sea days, became all about the art. We went to the art auction, drank some champagne, and then “let’s not buy any more art” turned into “wow what a deal for 3 more Krasnyansky pictures” and we just got them in a tube yesterday ;D. Ah well. Obtaining stuff for our wall of Kras is now pretty complete, we just need to get it framed and put up.
The shows were pretty fun, but the Ice Show was actually pretty spectacular (yeah, the ship had an ice skating rink). Lots of ambitious choreography for a rocky ship and there was even a gal who hula hooped and did tricks while skating.
We went to the Majority Rules game show and paired up with some other random people. The point of the game is to guess what the majority of the groups are going to say to something – for example – What do you tell your boss when you can’t come to work? The majority said “I’m Sick” (and we got that one), but there were some people that said weird stuff like “I quit” or “I’m dead” or something like that. They did NOT get a point. We did well, but didn’t win. Oh well.
Lots of games with my parents. I won all but one! Birthday luck!
All in all, it was a great trip with much excitement, but I definitely didn’t come back feeling rested and refreshed. The silver lining there is it made us take March a little easier than normal, which seemed to be a GOOD THING in the grand scheme.
Question: What cruise port would you be most excited to visit for a day?