Sunday, March 31, 2013

Last day on cruise

Well the fun is all over now. About a day and a half of open ocean from Cozumel back to Galveston.  While the fun didn't really end over this time there was really a strange sense of sadness on the boat.  We did however do our best to make the most out of the time remaining. 

I had managed to find the very front of the boat one day as I was lost trying to find the gym.  Not really sure if it was a place that we were really supposed to be, but that didn't stop us from going.  There was a observation deck above the bridge, which really stuck out over the ocean.  It was a bit of a uneasy place to be standing and enjoying the view.  Cool, but we didn't really stick around that much. 

Above the bridge, nothing but air underneath us.
We also watched a cooking presentation by the head chef and the maitre d'.  They were funny speaking Italians, who had both worked on cruise ships for something like 25 years.  The real reason we went was to get a chance to tour the kitchen afterwards.  This was only 1 of 8 kitchens, which makes it even more impressive, but the scale of everything in there was just amazing. 

At the end of the cruise they prepared a little newsletter which talked about everything.  Including the most traveled passenger.  Check it out below......seems like my kind of retirement.  Thelma was just a couple rooms away from where we were staying.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Great idea horrible execution

After two busy days excursioning we decided that we would take things a bit easier on our last day in port in Cozumel. That turned out to be a great idea but was matched by an equally bad outcome for the day as a whole.

As the city is much more touristy than the previous two ports there is much much more to easily do and see, and everything was much more commercialized as well. After the first successful snorkel day in Honduras we wanted to give it another go and asked around with the local tour guides of a good spot. While it seemed that half the ship was headed to paradise cove or princess beach or some super commercial spot we just went a couple miles down the road to Uvas beach. It wasn't much but was perfect for what we wanted to do.

Nice little beach and good water to snorkel in as soon as you got off the beach. We laid around for a bit and then headed out. This was the story for just about the rest of the day. Beach lounger ocean beach lounger ocean over and over again. Now this was the great idea, and at the time everything was perfect. 

My videography skills are a little better here.....for some reason the fish kept trying to eat the wrist strap on the camera.

Here are some other pics of our time in the ocean.

After leaving the beach and making our way back to the ship it became clear just how bad our day had really gone.  Every five minutes or so there would be a new body part that felt on fire.  Not sure if it was faulty waterproof sunblock or what but it was bad.  I pretty much had exactly one half of my body lobstered.  Anything that was above the waterline as I was floating around took a beating.  So looks like the next couple of days are going to be hiding in the shade and applying copious amounts of lotion. 

As the cruise has gone on we have run into more and more other ships.  The rumor was that there were 5 more ships at another port on Cozumel.  So 9 ships maybe close to 12,000 tourists decending on the island at one time.  No wonder the locals seemed more than happy to give directions and take our $$. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Trip to hell

Well if yesterday morning was a good surprise to wake up to this morning was just a surprise. Belize doesn't have deep enough water to actually dock so we and three other ships including the Norwegian Dawn were anchored offshore. Seeing a huge cruise ship so close when you wake up was a bit if a shocker.

Because we were at anchor we were at the mercy of local boats to pick us up and take us to shore. This turned out to be a pretty big pain and took some time. It make sense though when you think about 12,000 or so people trying to come awhile at the same time.

Our excursion for the day was tt go cave tubing. This had to have been the most popular thing to do in Belize seemed like half of all the people off the ships ended up at the caves. There was about an hour drive to the caves but we were entertained by our guide Dirty Harry so didn't make the transfer too bad. Belize is Mayan country so is steeped in stories. All the Maya believed that the caves were part if the underworld so stayed away from them but frankly they seemed pretty heavenly to us.

Anyway, after the bus ride and about a forty minute walk/hike through the forest we got to the start of our tour which looked like something out of a movie.
First sight of caves

Kristen is an angels need helmets?
Our guide Dirty Harry is eating termites

 There is pretty much no good way to describe the next hour and a half or so. Either I am not good at working the camera or it was just too dark to take any good pictures but it was pretty incredible. There were 6 of us hooked together just floating down what was the coolest lazy river ever. Because the caves were carved in the limestone there was pretty much nothing inside but water. When you did get some light you could see straight tithe bottom which was usually not more than 4 or 5 feet deep. Other than that just us and the occasional bat inside the cave.

The first cave was pretty short and small (comparatively) and while at the time seemed amazing turned out pretty ordinary.

 The second cave was just huge and amazing. Probably 100+ feet wide and tall. Rock formations both sides and on the ceiling throughout. About halfway through there was a waterfall and a huge opening to another part of the forest. My pics aren't great but you can see people climbing out with their inner tubes.


Once out of the cave we had another mile or so float down the river and ended up back where we started. Even as we were leaving which wasn't all that early there were still people just heading into the forest. Not sure how they made it back to their boats on time.

The entire time in the jungle and in the caves it was pretty much vacation paradise but we were quickly snapped back to reality driving back into town. Military checkpoints dotted the highway with soldiers and the assault rifles. Even in the center of Belize City they were just standing around with shotguns and A4s. Best we could tell there were guarding the butcher store but probably had something a bit more important going on than just that.