We went on our normal family vacation and had a really nice time. The end.
Just kidding, you know I can’t resist using my words. But because this is a vacation that I’ve taken many many many times with the fam, I’ll just hit the highlight reel and bloopers. The first immediate “whomp-whomp” moment was when we hit the Buc-ee’s for a gas and potty stop and I reached for my purse to exchange my sunglasses for my glasses… and no purse. I left it on the floor when I set it down for a last pee right before we left.
Thankfully the only important thing in there was my glasses, but I’m 100% blind without vision correction (anything more than 4 inches from my face is a blur) so I spent the entire embarkation process being too cool for everyone with my shades. I was extremely lucky to have a ton of extra contacts still packed from our EU trip (where I used exactly none of them), so I was set. It was just a bit strange as I wear my glasses about 99% of the time these days, I ended up taking a bunch of selfies just because I looked different, and it felt worthy of posterity.
We hit the gym every day we weren’t diving. Sunday (embarkation day) we found JUST enough time between unpacking and dinner to run a 5k on the treadmill. Monday, I ran again (woo speedwork!) and did a chest and shoulders workout. Tuesday, the boat was rockier, so we did legs and the elliptical. Saturday, we lifted back and biceps, and spent more time on the elliptical. I stretched and rolled as much as I could, at least a few times. It’s been a long time since I’ve been away from my massage boots for a week, and I missed them terribly, but I survived.
We were talked into a spa package and didn’t regret it. We used the thermal suite daily, with two different wet and one dry sauna, and a really nice rainfall shower. We had a one-hour soak in a private therapeutic bubble bath hot tub, and we did a couples’ mud and scrub treatment. That was fun – the salt scrub was nice and exfoliating and then we covered each other in this menthol mud which was OMG SO COLD and then sat in these weird sauna thrones with waterspouts. The spa was a nice quiet place in a very loud and crowded ship; we enjoyed our little Zen haven. My skin has never felt so dang soft, it was nice to be fancy.
The Allure of the Seas is one of the bigger ships out there. At 6k passengers and 2k crew, it’s just a lot of humanity in a lot of spaces. We watched an ice show – which was really great! – but we skipped a lot of the shows this time because it was just so… people-y. When we’re not eating food or being sporty, typically we’re playing cards anyway, so we spent a lot of the vacation in the card room or the back of the buffet. Not bragging or anything, but I did happen to win more games than the rest of the fam.
Cruises are definitely about food! They revamped the menu this year, and I thoroughly enjoyed the dining room dinners. There was an Indian dish available every night, and while I didn’t choose it every night, I would have been happy if that was the only option. There some really interesting new appetizers like a really great crab cake, poblano chorizo soup, a Mediterranean mezze plate. Most days it was REALLY tough to choose just one entre and I enjoyed everything I had – from beef tenderloin to shrimp to lasagna. The endings were just as sweet – I had two of the best brownies of my life, really excellent tiramisu, and these white chocolate macadamia nut cookies were all around the ship and I had to exercise extreme restraint to only consume two!
Buffet fare was pretty decent as well. I am typically not a fan of breakfast food, so I was very excited to find a brunch buffet that had salads, mac and cheese, and hamburgers alongside the normal eggs and bacon. For lunch, there was a daily selection of crusty bread and deli meats, cheeses, and sandwich toppings. I could have eaten this daily as well. They had a great salad bar, more Indian food, and lots of other yummy stuff to sample. It was nice to enjoy three big meals a day after dieting for the previous three months. I didn’t worry about the calories content what I was eating, but I endeavored to not eat to the point of feeling gross. It worked most of the time. 🙂
Rounding out the account of the gluttonous things we shoved in our cakeholes, we tried the taco bar out of morbid curiosity and, surprise, it was actually GREAT! We skipped the hot dog bar and the donut shop this time, and we gave the deli a go for lunch one day. The sandwiches there weren’t anything to write home about but their salads were awesome! In a strange turn of events, we were actually reasonable adults and only consumed a few bottles of wine the entire trip, spending a little bit of time in the wine bar when it was quiet but mostly consuming them on our balcony.
Our three ports of call this vacation were Roatan, Costa Maya, and Cozumel.
On Roatan, we took the normal bus ride to go diving with the ship. We had a very large group, which portended a subpar dive day. Then we ended up on a boat with a large newbie group that had their own separate dive instructor, and just 6 of us who were veterans with 100+ dives. I still somehow got kicked in the face a lot, but we had an excellent spotter in our divemaster who found TWO(!!!!) seahorses. He won the day.
I’ve never done a diving trip at Costa Maya before. All the snorkel trips we’ve been on have been mehhh (though after we went in the water by ourselves after one of them, I had a much better time). I wanted to give the depths a go. Unfortunately, the night previous, I almost ripped my toenail clean off by accidentally kicking a poorly placed dive bag in the room. I was very nervous that dipping that toe into saltwater would be a painful endeavor, but when we waded into the water and up onto a teeny boat it didn’t bug me. Whew! Not like I wasn’t going anyway, and I’m no stranger to diving through pain, but it’s always nicer when things DON’T hurt, yeah?
It was… okay. I chased down a turtle and we saw lobsters and crab and lots of shy eels, but I wouldn’t call it a “must dive” in the future. I might consider skipping it for nachos and beer on the beach (which we did after).
We returned to Dive Paradise/Hotel Cozumel at our last stop, said hello to our favorite dive operator Angel (in 2018, who offered us a guest room if we wanted to stay longer), and went on our safety-stop-depth dives from the shore. Conditions were gnarly above water – there was a foot of seaweed floating on the tide pool where we entered for the dive. I looked like a sea monster when I emerged from the water. Other guests that were at the bar took pictures of my ridiculousness. It took forever to get it all untangled from my hair.
However, below water we found many wonders, most memorably what we called the Eel Garden. It was so grey and rainy out, the eels thought it was dusk and they were out playing. I’ve never seen so many active eel buddies during the morning, it was super cool. Because the rain had progressed towards a torrential downpour by noon, we decided to stick with two dives and not push our luck with the third. Normally we end Cozumel’s dive trip with a margarita at Senor Frog’s, but the weather drove us back to the ship quickly and we celebrated at the wine bar instead.
Disembarkation and travel home was pleasantly without note. I certainly didn’t appreciate our welcome back weather, and two days later losing power for a week, but it was a nice time on a big floating city in the Carribean with the fam.