1-29-16 At Sea & 1-30-16 Port Canaveral

Today wasn’t very eventful.  Some of us took naps, some gambled in the casino, some hung out here and there.  Mix this in with brunch and cocktails making this a relaxing day.  Oh, we did participate in the 90’s music trivia.  No win.

I don’t even have photos worth posting.  Here’s 2 towel critters.

2016-01-29 114

2016-01-29 117

1-30-16 Port Canaveral

Off the boat we need to go.  The worst part of the cruise is disembarkation.  It’s typically a mess.  The Faster to the Fun pass gave us another great perk…  Off the ship faster.  We gathered at 8am, was off the ship and through customs in under 30 minutes.  Best disembarkation experience ever.  We drove home, an approximate 8 hour drive, while I blogged in the back seat. 

Overall review of mine and Jim’s 8th cruise, first Carnival Cruise:

Dining: The buffet was very good especially for lunch.  We ate in the main dining room every night.  The food was excellent and I hate to say it… it might be the best food on a cruise we’ve ever had.  Seriously.  There’s few foods that we said “nope, don’t like it.”  Most items were great and others surprisingly delicious.  The desserts were underwhelming.  Service was hit or miss.

Entertainment:  The dancing was terrible.  Always out of sync.  Jim and I liked the shows themselves… Beth and Anne weren’t impressed.  We enjoyed the trivia.  Bingo was a rip off.  We paid $40 each for 3 rounds and found the payoff was only $120.  There were so many people playing and that’s the best they could do?  The bingo MC was annoying.  The comedy shows were in the George Lopez Punchliner Comedy Club (George Lopez wasn’t on the cruise) and they were awesome.  Several different comedians throughout the week along with different shows made this a winner for us.

Ship: The cabins were fine, and well cared for.  They could use a color scheme change but nice overall.  The ship decor was nauseating at times.  The theme is American Heroes.  Here’s what Cruisecritic.com had to say “Heads of Abraham Lincoln, George Washington and other patriots adorn the atrium's sculptural frieze, faux gilded eagles perch on pedestals near the elevator banks, and the hallway art often suggests heroic or historic moments.”  Enough about that.  There was a strange fowl sewer odor here and there.  It’s gross.  It’s not all over, all the time, but it’s there.

The cruise was awesome.  The value was there.  We’d come back for sure.

1-28-16 Costa Maya, Mexico

Today, we’re in Costa Maya.  Unfortunately, we’re only in the port from 7:30 to 2:30.  We were up pretty late and never made it into port.  No big deal for Jim and I since we’ve been here several times.  Beth and Anne weren’t concerned since their preference was to relax.  We spent a good part of the day on the Lido deck, in the shade, near the pool, near the pool bar, enjoying adult beverages (Peach Daiquiris, yum!) playing Phase 10 and Cards Against Humanity.  We hung out with a new friend, Tim, who joined us to play Cards Against Humanity. 

2016-01-28 107

Above/Below: Anne

2016-01-28 108


2016-01-28 109Above: Beth

2016-01-28 110Above: Tim

2016-01-28 111Above: Jim

All week we’ve been playing various trivia games as a group and tonight we finally won with 30 out of 30 points for 80’s music trivia.  Basically a Name That Tune game.  Beth and Jim did 95% of the work.  The Cruise Director, Mat, gives 2 different types of awards.  A plastic ship statue which he lovingly calls “ship on a stick” and a plastic gold medallion on a ribbon dubbed “bling on a string”.  We won the coveted ship on a stick.

2016-01-29 113

2016-01-29 112

Tonight’s show = “Far from Over”.  Another singing/dancing theater show with 80’s music/themed and bad dancing.

Other photos:

2016-01-28 106

2016-01-28 105Above: Me making fun of the ship decor.

1-27-16 Mahogany Bay, Isla Roatan

Today’s port of call was Roatan, Honduras.  We were supposed to scuba dive here but cancelled the day before due to Jim feeling sick.  We weren’t sure he’d be well and the excursions have to be cancelled 24 hours in advance.  Beth and Ann stayed aboard.  Jim and I decided to check the port out.  We got off the boat, the heat/sun sucked.  We took a trail through the woods which was a great way to cool off.  Up a path, atop a hill, we found a swing.  It was a great view point, cool in the shade and off the main path.  We attempted to walk into the beach area but it was very hot.  We decided to go back to the boat.  I was sweat drenched.  It felt awful.  We found a shady spot to cool off and eventually made it back to the cruise port entry way shops where we browsed around some air conditioned stores to cool off.  We got a few souvenirs.  T-Shirts and a Christmas Ornament.  Nothing spectacular. 

2016-01-27 104

Back on the ship, we met up with the girls and found a quiet semi-private place to play Cards Against Humanity.  Beth and Anne had never played.  Jim and I had only played once previously.  They enjoyed the game.  We had a fantastic time.  We laughed.  A lot.    

2016-01-27 103Above: Towel critter of the day.

Cat in the HatAbove: A fun photo shoot we did.  I loved it and bought it.  $20!

Tonight’s entertainment = Love and Marriage Show – I think this is another common cruise ship game.  Think Newly Wed game only there’s 3 couple with varying degrees of marriage lengths.  70 years (yep and they were so darn cute), 15 years, and 10 days.  All 3 couples won.

Since this is a light entry, it’s a good time to share Carnival’s daily newsletter.  Each cruise line has one.  They’re all similar.  It’s a list of activities, reminders, restaurant/shop hours, and entertainment for the day. 

Carnival FunTimes0001

Carnival FunTimes0002

Carnival FunTimes0003

Carnival FunTimes0004

Below is a tear out (back and front) that has all the activities in a nice list by time format.  The reverse side was everything food related. 

Carnival FunTimes0005

Carnival FunTimes0006

1-26-16 Belize

Jim was sick.  He was the only one who drank water from Xplor Park’s water fountain.  Before he swallowed it, Beth yelled for him to stop.  He spit it out but if there were any parasites in it, it was certainly too late.  I’d like to think that in a big tourist attraction such as this place, the water is filtered.  Either way, we now refer to this as “Montezuma’s Revenge”.  This is even funnier now since as I researched Mexican water for this blog entry, an article mentions that falling ill from drinking it is referred to as “Montezuma’s Revenge”.  Well, that just confirms it. 

He wasn’t able to make today’s excursion to Altun Ha Mayan Site & River Wallace. I went to the Excursion desk to cancel tomorrow’s excursion expecting Jim wouldn’t be 100%.  The cancellation policy is 24 hours for a refund… so I thought.  Anyway, the desk was closed and Beth, Anne and I had to start our excursion.

Here’s the excursion description:

Flanked by Mexico and Guatemala on the Caribbean coast, your Carnival cruise destination of Belize offers wonderful natural attractions and ancient history. Altun Ha Mayan Site & River Wallace is just the shore excursion for you if you’d like to visit an important Mayan ruin and see Belize’s wildlife in a lush tropical rainforest.

Step aboard a boat and hang on to your hat for an exhilarating ride along Belize City’s scenic coast. Then you’ll enter the Belize River, called Rio Wallace by the Spaniards during the Conquistador rule of the New World. The Maya traders and British loggers transporting precious mahogany also used the tributary.  Keep your eyes open and your camera ready for a glimpse at the natural wildlife.  You just may spot crocodiles, iguanas, howler monkeys, and even feeding manatees or dolphins during your journey.

After approximately 90 minutes on the river, your tour captain will tie up at a riverside dock for 30 to 45 minutes. Take the time to purchase a local lunch and browse the gift shop for Belize souvenirs.  Then board your air-conditioned motorcoach for the 45-minute ride to Altun Ha, an ancient Mayan ceremonial center that covers five square miles. Archeologists did not know about this ancient site until 1963 when Hal Ball, a pilot and amateur Mayanist, noticed the existence of the ancient site from the air. Three plazas and thirteen structures mark the epicenter with the largest of the pyramids being The Temple of the Masonry Altars. This is where, in 1965, Professor David Pendergast of the Royal Ontario Museum discovered the almost ten-pound jade head of the Sun God Kinich Ahau in the tomb of the Royal Priest. Located only seven miles from the sea, Altun Ha was also a vital trade center during the Classic Period.

Interesting huh?  Even I didn’t read all that.  Consider yourself enriched.  So anyway, we boarded a small boat.    We began the trip in the ocean, transitioned to the river in brackish water and then into fresh water.  Our tour guide, Melissa (Mel), was awesome.  She spotted amazing sites along the river.  She’s been doing it for 13 years.  We saw dolphins, but missed the manatees.  Iguanas.  Crocs.  Howler Monkeys.  Bats.  Herons. 

2016-01-26 073Above: Beth

2016-01-26 062Above: Duh, it’s a pelican.

2016-01-26 063Above: The 3 of us.

2016-01-26 069Above: Trees and water.  Cool, huh?

2016-01-26 070Above: Anne

Now for the nature pics:

2016-01-26 086Above: Crocodile’s head.

2016-01-26 075Above: Iguana

2016-01-26 076

Above/Below: Heron

2016-01-26 077

2016-01-26 078Above: Baby croc on a branch.

2016-01-26 079Above: Iguana.

2016-01-26 080Above: Iguana.

2016-01-26 081Above: Croc with its mouth open.

2016-01-26 082

Above/Below: Howler monkeys!

2016-01-26 083


2016-01-26 084


2016-01-26 085Above: Bats

The temps started off nice but the sun started beating down.  When the boat went fast, it was OK, but when we stopped to look at wildlife, it got hot fast.  After about 2 hours of river touring, we stopped at Black Orchid ResortWe ate lunch there, then boarded a bus to continue onto the second half of the excursion, the ruins.  A second tour guide joined us.  Mel and Therese gave us a lot of info about their country as well as the ruins.  They wanted us to spread the word about Belize since tourism is 25% of their country’s employment.  There.  I did my part.  Look it up.  https://www.travelbelize.org/

We got to the ruins and for Anne and I, we were feeling pretty sun beaten and weary.  There wasn’t much for shade there and the ruins were cool but you can only look at them for so long.  We had a little over an hour there which was an hour too long.

2016-01-26 095

2016-01-26 093Above: Sisters.  Anne & Beth.

Once again, the length of the excursion matched the time we were in port.  There wasn’t any time to shop.  Not that we wanted to anyway.  Back onto the ship.

I stopped at the excursions desk to cancel tomorrow’s excursion.  I explained that I tried to cancel within the required 24 hours but no one was at the desk and I had an excursion.  They actually refunded the full price of Jim’s missed excursion since he was sick.  And as for the scuba diving excursion, they refunded 100% of his ticket and kept 25% of mine as the cancellation fee.  How awesome.  That was a lot of money back in our pocket.

We played Bingo this evening.  A complete waste of money.  $40 a person for 3 games with a low payout of $125.  Never again.

 2016-01-26 102Above: Beth

Below: Anne2016-01-26 101

Jim was feeling better and joined us for dinner.

Tonight’s entertainment:

We probably saw a comedy show most every night but I can’t remember exactly what night was what.

Motown music trivia: nope didn’t win.

Jerry Goodspeed Ventriloquist.  This was a funny show and done every well.  If I remember correctly, he had 4 different dummies.  He even managed to have 2 of them sing a duet together and then sing at the same time.  That was impressive.

1-25-16 Cozumel, Mexico

We booked a great excursion to Xplor Park.  What a fun place.  Read the description below, or don’t. 

Xplor Park is a unique underground world, with amazing circuits that invite you to rediscover your emotions and senses within nature. Feel the excitement of flying between trees and into caves with 14 Zip-lines, an adventure with water landings and bridges. Swim along in a river with stunning underground sceneries and surrounded by stalactites and stalagmites. Discover the ancient secrets of this amazing underground world. 

Take a Raft and enjoy along underground rivers in spectacular caves and grottoes, paddle with your own hands and discover the extraordinary rock formations. Drive through the roads of the exotic Caribbean, where grottoes, caves and bridges will fill your engine with adrenaline. Enjoy the thrill of riding between caves, jungle and water!  A portion of the excursion involves driving an easy to operate amphibious vehicle into the trails.

It started with a 40 minute ferry ride to Playa Del Carmen where we boarded a bus to the park.  Daniela, our tour guide, was awesome.  There were 2 groups of 4 for a total of 8 of us in her group.  She called each of our groups “family”.  When she wanted the 4 of us to follow or such, she would say, “OK family…” in her broken English voice.  It was a phrase we used (accent all all) throughout the remainder of our vacation. 

We started with the ziplines.  There were a lot of them.  Part of the excursion deal was that we skipped ahead of the lines.  There were no more than 3 people waiting their turn at a time.  This made it really awesome.  Some of the lines were very high up and others were designed for speed.

At one of the rest stops, we saw a strange (to us) animal.  We didn’t bring our camera into the park due to the water and such so I don’t have a photo.  We asked what it was and was told it was like a raccoon to us in the states.  It’s called a Coati.  Here’s a photo off the internet.


The next activity was a river float/swim in the caverns.  The water was so cold but we got used to it pretty fast. 

Included in park admission was a good buffet.  We had 45 minutes (plenty of time) to eat before starting the next activity…  ATV’s.  This was fun too.  Next activity… paddle rafts.  We had these hand paddle things.  Anne and I didn’t do very well.  We couldn’t steer well and it was just overall miserable for us.  Oh well. 

The park took a ton of photos of us all throughout our activities.  They knew who was who based on the helmets we wore which was numbered and had a microchip.  The photo package was very steep at $90 for all of your photos.  We combined photos with the other group of 4 and split it up in cash.  We shared the link and download code with one another.

At the end of the day, we hopped back on the bus with no extra time to spare and boarded the ship for departure.

Here’s some of the many, many photos the park took (we purchased):

2016-01-25 002Above: Photo op prior to actually riding the vehicles.

2016-01-25 034Above: Anne and Beth.  That camera knew just when to snap the photo.

2016-01-25 035Above: Same photo point as the pic above.  This was just as we went through a lot of muddy water which splashed up all over us.

2016-01-25 038Above: Jim masters the waterways.

2016-01-25 049Above: Yep, that’s me all sideways.  I didn’t do very well at this activity. 

2016-01-25 042Above: Beth and Anne.

2016-01-25 060Above: Jim and I.

2016-01-25 068Above: Jim, me, Beth and Anne.

2016-01-25 069Above: Beth, Anne and perhaps Jim.

2016-01-25 074Above: Beth looked like a pro in every shot.

2016-01-25 079Above: me

2016-01-25 080Above: Another pro shot of Beth.

2016-01-25 092Above: Anne.

This was awesomely fun!


Non-park photos

2016-01-25 031

2016-01-25 004

2016-01-25 005

2016-01-25 006

2016-01-25 009

2016-01-25 011Above: Our ship is in the background.

2016-01-25 022

Today’s entertainment:

Gender Showdown – The audience is split into 2, men against women.  They ask each other a trivia question about the opposite sex’s typical interests.  For example, men ask the women a trivia question about plumbing.  Women then ask the men to answer a question about a designer.  The team captains gather answers and are the spokespeople for the team.  That’s pretty much it.

Motown music trivia.  Nope, we didn’t win this one either.