Sunday, April 1, 2012

senior spring break in the caribbean

WARNING: this will be a very long and tedious post because I plan to update everyone that reads it on the events that occurred during my spring break cruise through the western caribbean.  Also, some of the photos may be a wee bit awkward, thus it was spring break.  Sorry, mom. 

I am going to tell this story with a series of pictures, so let's start with this one:

This is the room (or small closet) that we spent an entire week in.  Those beds on the side came down from the ceiling, and sounded like the sky was falling every time they were laid in.  

And this was the "hallway" (or crack) that we traveled through.  No I didn't compress this photo.  The door is really that skinny.  The little door to the left is the bathroom.  I am kicking myself for not getting a picture of it now because I couldn't even spread my arms all the way in it.  But this is all besides the point, because rather than be in our rooms, we were doing all of this: 

DAY 1: Miami, FL
When we first got on the boat, I must admit, I had a minor panic attack.  The idea of being in a boat in the middle of the ocean freaked me out.  Also, I was terrified I was going to get sea sick.  I bought tons of Bonine and Sea-bands.. and got plenty of jabs for that.  It didn't take long to get my sea legs and we all started having a great time! We hung out and explored the ship.  We all went to bed pretty early because we were exhausted from getting up at 4 am to get to Miami in time.  

DAY 2: Somewhere in the Gulf
This was our first real day at sea.  We hung out at the pool and got fruity drinks.  They have tons of stuff to do on the boat.  They have a putt-putt course, basketball court, volley ball court, water slide, 3 pools, 6 hot tubs, and tons of activities going on throughout the day.  They have a huge screen t.v. on the lido deck that played videos all day.  A lot of the time they had live reggae bands and such.  

This is the only picture I really took of our ship.  This is the lido deck looking towards the back of the boat.  I believe that is Honduras behind us.  You can see part of the teal waterslide on the right, and the two yellow hot tubs under the big screen.  They had two bars on either side of the hot tubs and a big pool behind them.  Our 24-hour restaurants are behind the pool, underneath the big screen. 

We had Captain's night that night at dinner, where everyone on the ship gets dressed up really fancy.  The food was always really good at dinner, and you could order whatever you wanted and as much as you wanted! Cameron got 3 lobsters one night just because he could, and we all munched on them.  Gotta admit though,  we all felt really guilty for how much food was wasted every night. 

DAY 3: Cozumel, Mexico
We woke up in Cozumel at 8 am on day 3.  We were all so excited to get off the boat. 

 We already had reservations with a shore excursion beach break at an all-inclusive resort called Nachi Cocom.  It was an all you can eat, all you can drink private beach resort.  We had so much fun!

They had people standing at the entrance when you got there ready to take your pictures.  Bobby's hat is my favorite. 

We were assigned to our own little "palapa" which I guess means umbrella? Its those big leaf umbrellas.  We had a personal waiter that came around every 30 minutes to get our food and drink orders.  Talk about relaxation.  

We had to do it. 

This is me and Ashley at Nachi Cocom.

They had a swim-up bar in the pool/hot tub at the resort.  

Me and the girls getting back to the port at Cozumel after the taxi ride.  

When we left the resort, they had a bunch of shops and restaurants by our port.  They had all these Mexicans dressed like Indians (I was confused too), and you had to pay to get pictures with them.  Cameron found a way to get around that however, by telling this random stranger that I would kiss him on the cheek if we could get a free picture.  Note, I was not involved in this decision.  Apparently, Cam changed his mind mid-picture and wanted to punch the man in the face.  

We spent the rest of the time shopping around and dancing at Fat Tuesdays.  Cameron and Lash even got up on the pole to dance very seductively.  Cameron tried to do some sort of twirl and ended up kicking an innocent bystander in the face.  We apologized and quickly retreated.  

This is what I found when I got back to the room after a long day in Cozumel.  They are so cute when they cuddle.  Notice that Bobby didn't even take the time to take off his bookbag, or shoes. 

DAY 4: Costa Maya, Mexico
Unfortunately, I have no pictures from this day because we never made it there.  We woke up at 4 am the night before with the entire boat shaking.  Apparently, there was an earthquake in Mexico City.  We were told that we were not going to be able to dock in Costa Maya because of the rough seas.  So instead we had another day at sea.  The even more unfortunate part of that is that the rough seas caused the pools on the boat to sway so violently, that they closed all of them.  We were dying of heat stroke most of the day, so we all sat under the shade at a table and played spades most of the time.  We still ended up having a good time. 

DAY 5: Mahogany Bay, Isla Roatan, Honduras
Mahogany Bay is the name of the gated private port and shops that Carnival owns and built on the Isla Roatan off the coast of Honduras.  The little island is just that, little.  We drove from one side to the other in 20 minutes.  Cameron and I had a little date day planned for Roatan.  We made reservations with a place called Upachaya, which we found out is a wellness retreat owned by 2 Americans, Barb and Dwayne.  They were an older couple with grown children who decided to pick up their lives in Seattle and move to Honduras.  I was totally inspired by their story.  They came to visit the island once and fell in love with it.  Barb told us she has always had a dream of opening up a wellness retreat, and what better place to do it than Honduras?  The cost of living there is insanely cheap.  She said that her car insurance for the entire year is $150 dollars, and that you can have a baby in the hospital for $15.  You would think that would mean the care is awful, but she said they have all the state of the art equipment that America has, just no running water.  I found that interesting when the baby thing came up.  The best part is, English is Roatan's native language.  

This was the 12-bedroom lodge that they built on the property.  They grow everything that they need to eat on the property.  She hired a couple locals to help out around the retreat and they were all awesome!  One of her men came and picked us up from the port.  Barb told us he was in charge of digging the holes for all of her gardening.  She said he had to be really patient with her because she's not very good at it, and he has to dig up a lot of plants and replant them.  

This is Searsy (I probably butchered that spelling).  He is the little dog that Barb adopted that runs around the whole property eating lizards.  She told us that Searsy means "my heart." I made sure he hung by my side while we toured the retreat

The rather large gladiator looking man to the left is Al.  He was our snorkel guide for the day.  You can see Barbs arm behind the pole.  And Stevo sitting with the sweet glasses on.  Ill tell you about Stevo in a minute.  Anyways, Casper was also part of our snorkel tour as first mate. He was a very young boy and very quiet.  Cameron and I of course forced him to talk.  The snorkeling was awesome!  We were on the 2nd largest reef in the world, which Al said was 48.7 miles long.  We saw stingrays, lion fish, eels, nemos, dorys, and a sea turtle (crush)! 

So, about Stevo.  Steven (Stevo) is the elderly gentlemen sitting in the boat in the picture above.  Stevo somehow made friends with Emmett, and began to just show up everywhere we went around the ship.   It quickly got disturbing.  Stevo may or may not have psychic powers.  He would say things like "neat" and "all that jazz."  Apparently, Stevo had fallen back off the wagon after already having liver replacement surgery with strict orders from his doctor not to drink.  So, Stevo would wait until his wife went to bed and then gallivant off to find us in the cruise ship social areas.  I must say, I wasn't very polite to Stevo due to the fact that he genuinely made me nervous.  Cam and I were absolutely shocked to find him standing in line with our tour guide when we got to the port.  Thousands of people on that ship and he happened to be one of the 8 on our tour.  He made sure to act like he didn't know us on the snorkel trip, and I was delighted.

At the end of the tour we had lunch, cooked by Rosario, which was not necessarily my taste, but I was starving so I ate it anyways.  It was a wellness retreat, which meant what I like to call tree-hugger food, which means no chicken fingers.  I smiled and shoved it down because I didn't want to be rude, but I'm sure all the hippies out there would have loved it, and probably Lauren.

Oh, and we saw lizards. Barb called them velociraptors (pretty long nickname) because they are so friggin fast.  Seriously, they get up on their hind legs and book it.  Honduras can have them. 

On our way back to the port, our driver decided to take us through the city.  I was so shocked by how small it was.  I never saw a real grocery store or restaurant.  The school for 6 different grades was 2 rooms big.  And all of the school children get out at noon and just wander the streets in their uniforms.  The strangest thing about that is there were two armed guards standing outside of the bank.  I couldn't figure out if we were safe or not.  There were stray dogs wandering everywhere, which was really not helping the fact that I missed Macon like crazy at this point.  

On the way out of the city, we passed a HUGE dump.  It was overflowing with trash, which honestly didn't look much different than the rest of the city.  The saddest thing is that people were literally wading through the trash with baskets and bags to pick up things to take back to their family.  Our driver said that a lot of them are looking for stale food that was thrown out or used clothing.  It broke my heart.  I looked over at Cameron and told him I felt so guilty for being in this van, on the way to get back on my luxury cruise ship that my parents paid for, when these people might not have food tonight, and if they do, its probably stale.

Jenn, if you are reading this, we're going to Honduras.

After me and Cam got back to the port, we met up with our friends on the beach at Mahogany Bay.  The funny thing is that there was a whole different group of Clemson students (that we knew) on the cruise, and we had no idea they were coming.  So we hung out with them a lot.  This is the whole group on the beach with our giant ship in the background.

DAY 6: Grand Cayman
We woke up in Grand Cayman on Day 6 and had to get on another little boat shuttle to get to the port.  Once we finally got on the island, the boys were this happy:

Grand Cayman has another little port area full of little shops and tons of taxi-hustlers.  We decided to walk to Margaritaville, literally singing the song the entire way. 

This was the bar on the top of Margaritaville's gift shop.  They had a water slide in it! It was like 10 am, so we all looked like we had just fallen off the wagon.  Margaritas were $13 for the tiny little cup you see in Thomas's hand.  I bought an $8 keychain instead. 

After Margaritaville, we found a really nice lady to take us to the famous 7 mile beach.  It was like $40 one way to go maybe 5 miles.  Pretty expensive endeavor, but we had fun.  We were so creeped out that they drove on the opposite side of the road and car, so Emmett pretended for us so we'd be more comfortable.  

And of course we all cheered and took pictures of the Esso in Grand Cayman.  You can take the students out of Clemson, but you can't take the Clemson out of the students.  There may have been a cadence count at this point.  

Once we got to 7 mile beach, we ate at a place called Calico Jacks.  I finally got some chicken tenders, at the low cost of $21.  Not a joke. 

We and Cam snorkeled a little bit off the beach, but there was nothing but beer cans to see, so instead we took pictures of ourselves with Caitlin's underwater camera thingy. 

Also, the beach volleyball Olympic qualifiers happened to be right next to our restaurant.  We got to watch USA and Canada, but we lost.  

DAY 7: Last Day at Sea
On our last day on the boat, they had tons of activities going on all day.  We layed out and got in the pool, but Emmett, Thomas, and Ashley were in the Carnival Olympics.  The series of pictures below show the "statue" event where the group has make certain artworks with their bodies and freeze. 

This is Thomas's group depicting George Washington crossing the Delaware.

This is my favorite.  They were a T-rex, and Thomas was the tail. 

This is Ashley at a picnic with bees. 

This is Ashley's team's zoo exhibit. 

There were tons of events, like biggest splash, relay race, and orange toss, but Thomas and Emmett's team came out on top. They got what Carnival called the "24-carat gold plastic ship on a stick" and Ashley got a medal. 

Here's my little winners! 

That night we had our last dinner, very emotional!

This is our whole group with our waitress/waiter for the whole week, Ida and Jasper.  

This is us and our favorite waiter, Donnie.  All of them are Indonesian, and Donnie is from Bali.  He was getting to go home to see his family after our cruise for the first time in 8 months!  The people that work on these ships sign contracts and a lot of the time don't get time off until after their contract is complete.  If they do, its only for a weekend, so a lot of them cant afford to fly home for such a short amount of time.  He was so excited! 

We got up and danced for the last time with Ida, Donnie, Jasper, and the hundreds of other people in our dining room.  This was not the wildest of our "SHOOOOWWWTIMMEE" nights though.  

A lot of the time the waiters/waitresses made different designs with napkins and put them on their heads.  This is as creative as me and Cam could get.  They had choreographed dances that they taught us every night before dessert.  Donnie told us we were the best table in the dining room, and I promise he was right. No one else would get up! Boring. 

I also had my first (and last) martini at dinner.  It was disgusting.

We spent the rest of the night dancing at the 21 and up dance club on the ship, "White Heat" (we called it "white meat" the whole trip, very cleverly).  They had different era dance nights pretty much every night.  Although, we were really the only ones that danced.  I think I wobbled and did the electric slide 10 times.  

At the very end of the very last night, Cam and I were feeling pretty down about having to leave and cook our own food and make our own beds.  We were looking down at the atrium from a few floors up, watching people get their last drinks and head up to bed.  Then, like a beacon of hope, we saw Clark. 

Haha, just kidding. But doesn't it look like him? I did a triple-take. 

Hope everyone had a safe and fun spring break! 


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