It's a long post since it was a week plus trip and my first cruise. I'll put the video first (2 parts ~20 minutes total) in case you don't want to read it just yet.
The trip started off from D and Eric's house. We watched a little rugby with his folks and discussed the house projects for the week. Woke up to an unusual bright and sunny Michigan morning. Of course the weather would be nice the day we leave for paradise, but we welcomed the opportunity for even greater sun and warmth. The security checkpoint went smooth, for the most part. Jessica forgot she had an illegal 6 oz lotion in her baggage, so she her bag was screened further. TSA Agent confiscated the lotion and let her go.
The flight was on time and our seats were unchanged. However during the flight our arrival time to our connection flight did not make sense. The flight was due to arrive about the same time that our connection flight was due to take off. The nice flight attendant offered us free drinks to cool our nerves. Of course I had to accept her offer as not to be rude, a simple honey whiskey and sprite. After a while, the flight attendant returned to reassure use we would make our connection and we discovered that Memphis was in CST, so we would have plenty of time. We made the connection without incident, but we arrive at the gate during boarding, so no time for lunch.
Florida was quite nice and we ate dinner at a local Mexican joint to honor our cruise destinations. Found a CVS to buy to buy spray tan lotion that was greater than 3 oz and relaxed. Breakfast at the hotel was alright but expensive for what it was. It was nice to see some rowers on the river. After chilling in the hotel for a bit we received voicemails that fog had settled in the port and delayed the ship. We were surprised because we didn't see any fog in the city. Without being able to board the cruise, there was some time to kill, so we ate lunch and made our way towards some unique looking buildings that we thought was a mosque due to their moon shaped pillars. In fact it was the University of Tampa. Wondering around the hall was quite fun as it was an old hotel with some great history and ambiance.
At the terminal we found out the cruise still had not disembarked its previous guests and no one really knew what was going on. Some said to wait in line, other's said it would be hours before we would board. The porters were available to take our bags but there was an indeterminate amount of time before we would cruise out. Chanelside was not too far away, a mixture of shops and restaurants greeted us to spend our money during our wait. Most people there were from the cruise and making the best of the situation. Seven hours later we were able to board the ship and get going. Dinner was not our usual seats due to the late arrival, so we were paired with a group of Georgia women who were out to have a good time.
Finally we were off and cruising! The second day on ship I was still acquiring my sea legs, so I had to take it easy. It quickly passed and was enjoying our sea day. There is so…much…food!!! Wow. People on cruises like to eat and we were quickly adopting that mentality. Multiple desserts . First, second and third dinners. Let me tell you, the breakfast and lunch selection was good but fairly standard in my opinion. Dinner was high class though. Steaks were available most nights. One night we had lobster. I got a little ahead of myself though and didn’t talk about our first breakfast.
The group decided to go for room service on the first morning so we could sleep in slightly and relax. Jessica and I ended up with tray after tray of food in our stateroom. I think we ended up with 56 breakfasts or so, which you’ll see exactly how many in the video. It was good though, we just felt bad there was so much. Being in the middle of the ocean was fun, a lot of water, but truly a good experience. Unfortunately stargazing was not in the cards for us. Most nights were somewhere cloudy, so no spectacular viewings for us.
Around Monday I realized each day they changed the floor of the elevator to reflect the current day. That was really cool. Life on a ship was fun, although probably not very exciting to read. There was much relaxing in the sun, enjoying the fresh ocean air and a lot of good food. Nights were filled with free shows and whatever other activity you wanted to do. The Cigar Bar was great, not necessarily for the cigar, but meeting Fernando. A Mexican and engineer by trade who claims Poland be his home country now. He had a lot to say about life and was very professional and extremely helpful too.
The ports of call are a lot of what you would expect. There was a lot of shopping, tourist stuff and relaxing by the beach. I will highlight some of the notable activities. In Cozumel, we went on an excursion called snuba. This is essentially scuba diving with the air tank on a raft floating at the surface. It requires a little less skill but surprisingly not by much. I know this because a certified scuba diver was there snuba diving with us. She hails from Canada and we had a good time with her and her husband afterwards for lunch and drinks. Furthermore, you do not have to be certified to snuba. It was a lot of fun. We went around 20-30 feet deep and used approximately 2500 PSI between me and Jessica. D and Erica used about the same. Our Canadian friends only used 2000, which was the sign of a professional. You breathe differently underwater and are supposed to. Think Darth Vador and you’ll get it.
Costa Maya was a lot smaller port than Cozumel. We rented a hut and relaxed by the beach. The temperature and breeze were in prefect harmony and it was fantastico. While slightly depressing, were the amount of children either working by themselves or with their parents around the huts. They were selling little trinkets, bracelets and fried bananas. We ended up buying the fried bananas, which I knew would be great and they were! Much better than banana chips you normally get. D and Jessica bought matching bracelets. Jessica also get a diamond ring in the port, which we are awaiting its true appraisal as I write this.
Overall I really enjoyed the cruise experience, even though it started out rough. I would highly recommend it to anyone. There is a lot of value in it and a lot of fun.