Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Family Cruise Day 6---Sea Day

I was trying so hard to keep up with these posts. Only 3 days left and I totally slacked off.

We were trying to decide between Johnny Rockets or Playmakers for lunch, to use our $50 on board credit. Playmakers won. There wasn't a lot of seating and we had to go to "the back" near the arcade games. Service was slowish. We were worried about the wings being too spicey, even the "not spicey" ones are a little hot, the waiter said. They finally came and after a few, we declared the regular Buffalo ones too spicey. The waiter brought us some more "naked" ones. Along with drinks, I think it came to about $35US.  Twenty four wings were $12.

The best part of the lunch was the group behind us. I heard Toronto being mentioned. We realized it was a group of the cast from Hiro. One member was from Toronto. We had a brief chat. They said it was their last performance and their contract was over after this cruise. They highly recommended coming to the performances that day, it's was a more of "highlights" and talking about the cast.  We decided to go to the 5:00 show since we were scheduled to see the theater show after dinner. This made us late for dinner, but that's just something that happens.

View from the girls' balcony before going to the show.

Of course they wanted to be right at the front

Crazy high diving. Can you see her?

Look up!

Cool to see the slack line and other acts during the day.

These harnesses are so cool. Rob and I saw them up close on one of our first 2 cruises when we did a backstage tour.

Look how high they are!
The cast members we saw in the restaurant waved to us and gave us some extra splashes LOL

This was I think an onion "tarte" for a starter. It was very quiche like

Classic Calabrese salad

Don't remember what this was, but it appears to be shrimp on top of something.

Lucy wanted to give the lobster tail a try this time, since she missed it on the last cruise

She said it was okay.  Unfortunately, I don't know what the rest of us had. I wonder if this was the night with the coconut shrimp. Oh, we ate so many of those. He just kept bringing us more!

As a special treat for their 50th Anniversary, every table got a little cake.

Our great wait team, Dobrovoj and Andrew

I took this picture of the rules. We were trying to find out where it says "No Glasses". Then it was time to go to the main theater show, "Flight". I had heard you need to sit up on the balcony for the best view.

It was kind of a weird show, going back in time in the history of space travel and flight. Royal Caribbean does phenomenal productions.

Look at this bi-plane "flying" across the theater!

We'd been having a few issues with the room attendant and had a call and visit from the manager. When we got in from the show, this towel animal was there (they no longer do them every night), with a letter explaining our Future Cruise Credit to make up for the difficulties we had. 
I think this night was really windy. Was this the night Rob and Lucy went down to the Bionic Bar and tried a whole bunch of drinks? (Mocktails for Lucy). Then she threw up in the night LOL. I've forgotten so much already!

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Family Cruise 2019--Day 5, Cozumel

Cozumel. You either love it or hate it. We had been on our second cruise and weren't too excited by the port area then. I wrote that I thought we were at the International Pier. This time we were, and it didn't seem familiar at all. Looking at the satellite map of Cozumel, I think we were docked at the south most pier last time (seems to be called Puerta Maya Pirs).  This time we were at the one just to the north of it, which is called Terminal de Cruceros on Google. On the current satellite image, it looks like it's still under construction which would explain why it felt so bare compared to what I remembered. 


The day got off to a rough start. At dinner one night, Mom mentioned to the Head Waiter (Waitress) that she wasn't impressed with the breakfast in the dining room--the cold Eggs Benedict. She gave Mom a card and said to come to the Solarium Bistro and if there's a line up, present the card. We decided this would be the day. We got there around 9:20. Lucy was being very emotional but couldn't explain why. I know she was upset by not getting any wifi all trip, and by not going to a beach, but she said it wasn't that. She was visibly upset and silently crying in the line. Our Head Waitress saw and pulled us out of the line and to a really large table in the centre, surrounded by pillars and had these huge wicker chairs. Check it out: https://www.cruisecritic.com/photos/ships/symphony-of-the-seas-984/solarium-bistro-412073/solarium-bistro--v18418936/  

Rob was getting fed up with Lucy, and she didn't want to eat, so Mom and I checked out the buffet. I put in an order for a custom omelet, got the rest of my food and headed back to the table. Rob was still sitting there, pouting. Then my omelet came. After a few more minutes, he went up to order one.
He came back, upset. They stopped taking orders. It was 9:35 and the buffet was open till 9:30.  There was a long list of orders already in so they weren't taking more. Still plenty of food though. I don't think Lucy ate anything. The food was pretty good, still love the hash brown patties! It was a quieter (somewhat) spot than the Windjammer. I guess quieter, as in the number of people. It was still rather noisy. 

As we were heading out of the Bistro, a woman sitting at a table near the entrance grabbed Lucy's arm. What?! She asked Lucy what was wrong, could she help, she's a mom and she can tell she needs a hug, we all do sometimes, did she want a hug? Lucy is pretty shy. I can only imagine how mortified she was. She politely declined the hug and rejoined us. She was a little shook up. We hadn't met a lot of overly friendly people (Mom seemed to though, LOL). 

I'm not sure what we did for the rest of the morning, but we decided to meet at El Loco Fresh at 12:15 for lunch. I think Lucy went back to her cabin. I know I showed up at El Loco Fresh with Mom, and we were the first ones there. It has pretty good food, but the lines are a little crazy at times. Especially if you only want to grab one thing off the line--it felt rude to jump in at the chip section to get just a bowl of chips. Lucy still wasn't feeling great. After lunch we were heading to the Schooner Bar to play Scattergories, at 1pm. This is a game we have played as a family for years, only at Grandma's though. So we thought it was awesome we could do it together on the cruise. 

We got to the bar and there was nothing set up. We sat down and a few more people came in. Lucy decided to not stay and play, and went back to her cabin. She must have been feeling really terrible! Finally, the host came in and got us going. It was surprisingly a very small group. A few didn't actually know what Scattergories was. We had a lot of fun, especially when the letter C was used and we could add "Canada/Canadian" to many of the topics. We ended up winning! Received some lovely Royal Caribbean "medals". Megan is so proud to now have two.

After Scattergories, it was time to go ashore. Megan thought the sandy area to the right of the pier looked like a place we could go swimming. I explained that if it was suitable for swimming, it would already be used for swimming. There appeared to be a fence separating it from the port area.
We popped into the duty free store you get funneled into. We picked up the liquor we needed for our dog sitters. Then headed into the shopping area. I saw a sign for wifi at Tiki Hut #2 (it may have been #3). We tried to follow it, found "the beach" (don't get excited, more on that later), but no Tiki Hut #2. Then suddenly there was a sign for Tiki Hut #3 (or #2...). This one we did find. It was a round open shelter with benches around the edge. And indeed, wifi.

Have you seen happier girls? I loved that Mom was on the phone too. 

And I....I didn't take my phone. I have no idea why.
It was sooooo hot, this was the only shade, there was no breeze. I drank all my water. Megan was taking forever at the Ron John store. Everytime you walked anywhere, there were hawkers at every store trying to get you to come in. We did see the same vanilla as what we got in Costa Maya, for cheaper. 

For some reason we had to split up and we said we'd meet back at the Cozumel sign by the "beach". We couldn't get to it though! We tried retracing our steps but there only seemed to be entrances, not an exit. Finally, we found it.  Apparently the other half of our family also had a hard time, but were able to go out through an entrance and get to it. It was so weird.

The "beach". You walk down a slippery wet wooden dock and climb some steps down to a beach. It was very wavy, the caution flag was up, but we were determined to "go to a beach". We got soaked.

Lucy at the Bubba Gump restaurant.

The security leaving the port was terrible. You funnel into a room, the workers don't speak much English and were hard to understand. It was slow. Hot. Because we had alcohol, we were told we had to leave it outside and were funneled through doors on the left. The line to leave the alcohol was really long! Grandma and the girls decided to go ahead to the ship and Rob and I stayed to deal with the alcohol. As we moved up a bit, I noticed there was another door from the security room, with another table and ship staff to take alcohol. But there was NO line! The workers were just sitting there chit chatting, helping the odd person that came out. Why was this line different? It made no sense.  As we were waiting in line, I heard someone mention about making sure to get a receipt. We finally got up to the table and they took our info, we were pretty cranky by then. We asked for a receipt.

They didn't have any!!! So we held up the line while they found something to write on saying we gave them our two bottle of alcohol. They didn't even write what the alcohol was or it's value. Imagine if the bottles got lost?! There was a LOT of alcohol waiting!!

We headed back to the ship and went to the girls' cabin. They weren't there! We walked around and got a snack and still didn't see them! We went to Guest Services and they were able to tell us that they had indeed gotten on the ship. I'm not sure if it was this port, but at one, you went to different gangways depending on your muster station. This could be a challenge for a group like us, or other family groups who need to stick together. 

We finally found them and we got ready for dinner. 

This was one appetizer I wasn't too thrilled with.  I think it was the Seafood Vol au Vent. 

Even when other appatizers disappoint, the Caesar salad is dependable!

Looks like someone had a plain piece of chicken?

Lucy got the horseradish crusted salamon. I was surprised! She said it was good. The drink in the foreground is Rob's Sexy Ocean. He really enjoyed them!

Trifle for Lucy, Grand Marnier souffle for me! They even poke the hole for you and pour the sauce on. 

Chillin' for a bit after dinner. They discovered that the sofa actually had a trundle! However, you couldn't get into the drawers,  or the fridge ("the cooler"). You had to walk across it to get to the balcony. I can't imagine a 4th person in this room! That would really suck. At least in most cabins, with a Pullman bed, you can leave it down.

The kids wanted to go to another showing of "Hiro". I agreed to  go and sit in the front, with the waterproof camera. It was fun!

It was a little harder to see the overhead acts from the front row. So, if you get to see the show more than once, do sit somewhere different each time.
After, we went swimming. It was so nice but breezy.

Lucy found a quarter in the pool

Mom loved her night swims. So much calmer than in the day

When we walked around we noticed a pair of Crocs with some other things, on a chair. Then, the Croc showed up in the pool! It was windy! Not too long after, a couple came around and seemed to be looking for something. We pointed out the Croc and made his night

We walked around the deck, enjoying the lights.  We wanted to go in the hot tub, but the overhang ones were closed so we went to the Solarium. We were SO disappointed to find it filled with a bunch of young kids (3-10) and a couple adults. There are signs saying it's adults only! They weren't speaking English and there was no staff around. It was after 10pm! 

We parted ways and Rob and I went to the elevators. The Piano Man zoomed by! We quickly ran over to the elevators and pressed the buttons. He just kept zooming by! From deck 2 to 15 (or 16?). He never stopped!! How fair was that?! We gave up and left. 

I'm not sure if it was this day, but I think so. We kept having issues with Spanish speaking people in the elevator not moving over for others to get in, or letting people get out! Once there was a young dad at the back calling out "We want out! Excuse me!" and no one moved, they just stared straight ahead (I was waiting to get on). Finally, I gestured for them to move aside.  Then Mom and I were in the elevator, and she got trapped behind a woman and a stroller. I got out and held the door open, but no one listened to her "Excuse me". I finally yelled "Perdon!" I couldn't remember any more Spanish than that! I had just learned "door" but I couldn't remember it! "Mi momma necesita la puerta" might have worked. If you're travelling somewhere that speaks a different language (especially English), wouldn't it make sense to learn some simple words? Excuse me, please, no, thank you, yes. That would cover so many situations.

Friday, November 8, 2019

Family Cruise 2019--Day 4, Costa Maya

Costa Maya! I had booked a “two reef by boat” snorkel excursion through Shore Excursioneer for just mom and me. She, incredibly, had never snorkeled before! I’ve enjoyed it in the past, but on our last cruise, we had a semi-private snorkel excursion with a pro, in Bonaire.  Her little tips really helped improve my comfort in the water. I really thought Mom might enjoy this “once in a lifetime” experience of snorkeling on the Meso-America reef, the 2nd largest reef in the world. I had snorkeled in Cozumel but that wasn’t the greatest experience (I got sea sick, IN the water!).

We were up bright an early, there was a time zone change I believe, so I have no idea what time it was now. Mom's cabin had a view of the looooong pier. You can just barely see it here in the morning light.

I had recently watched Tony’s video of the Costa Maya port area, and knew it could take us 15 minutes to get to the taxis. We were able to take the tram ride down the pier and then we meandered through the port. Things were just starting to open up and store keepers were friendly. 

We couldn’t find our way out though. We met up with a young couple with a stroller who were also looking for the way out. We both thought the signs for “Emergency Exit” might be a lead, but no, they actually were for emergency exits. We asked a couple times and got very general hand waves, but eventually made it out. 

I knew we had to go to the taxi stand right outside the official area, and it was then easy to find. We quickly got a taxi, $8 for the two of us, into the town of Mahahual. The taxi driver was fine, but didn’t talk at all. Some speak good English, some speak none. He knew where “Doctor Dive” was though. We got out and weren’t too sure about his general hand wave. I saw a sign for “Ya Ya Beach Club” and knew Doctor Dive was “next to” it…but really, from the road, it’s through it and on the left side before you cross over to the beach area.

In the shop I let the lady know we were there. It was 25 minutes before our meeting time, and the meeting time was 30 minutes before departure. So, plenty of time! We saw a fine young man loading up a boat. I noticed what looked like a fence in the water, about 20 ft out from shore. There were boats in an area on the other side of the fence. My first thought was a shark fence. But would you have to battle sharks to get to the boats?!

We had some torrential rain while waiting .  It almost seemed chilly, at least by Mexican standards. It doesn't really look warm and tropical in the photo. The rain stopped but it was still quite breezy. Finally, the young man came over and introduced himself as Luca, our guide. He told my mom that she’d hang on to a rope attached to a ring buoy, and he’d pull her along. Not fair! He led us to the beach and into the water, towards the boats.

Then I remembered. Costa Maya had a seaweed problem. The fence stops the seaweed from coming up on shore. The boat we were going to…beyond the fence. Mom had her flop flops on, and I had my good “sport” sandals. I was able to keep them on, but I could still feel the icky. It’s too bad the Google Satellite map images are very washed out for this area. A quick Google search led to this https://www.journeymexico.com/blog/update-on-sargassum-seaweed-affecting-mexicos-beaches  Costa Maya is a bit south of the areas in the article. Google “Sargassum Costa Maya” for some scary pictures! Wow. The fences really do help. I was worried though what it would be like out on the reef. It was fine.

And then we got to the boat. How to get in though?! Through pantomime and some English, we got the message. This was the first time I had this sort of experience. Usually we board a catamaran from a dock! Sometimes it goes to a beach and you can climb down a ladder into the water, sometimes you just jump off. I’ve never had to climb in the boat from thigh deep seaweedy water. It wasn't too bad--sit on the side, facing out, and swivel over. I didn't want to bend my knee that much but it seemed okay.

It was a short boat ride to the site, and during that time, Luca and his helpers got us suited up in life jackets, flippers and masks. He gave my mom some tips and instructions, and then we had to swivel over the side and jump in! What on earth had I brought my mom to?! LOL.

Within a few minutes she was complaining about the mask, and getting water inside. She kept trying the tips but she was getting really uncomfortable; the salt water was burning her eyes and nose. Finally, Luca gave her his mask. This made all the difference. She was able to relax and enjoy the underwater world!

 There weren't huge schools of fish like in Bonaire, but the lettuce coral was really vibrant! There were parrot fish and other fish. There must be some reason I took the picture below. Maybe something living in those rocks?

However, it was quite rough out. Large swells would raise me up and down a couple feet. I got some water down my snorkel and of course, started feeling sea sick! Like, retching, thinking I was going to throw up. Not again! I was ready to give in, but we were a distance from the boat, and Luca and mom were too far from me to say anything. Then I hear him yell and point down. I look down, and there’s a sea turtle!!!!
 It was so awesome. There were two or three in total.

 My first one!!! Mom’s first, and on her first snorkel!!! There were actually two or three in the area. It was so cool! They nibbled on the sea grass, and we saw them stick their head above the water too. Exciting! Then, he pointed again, and there was some sort of sting ray!! No way!! It really blended in!

And then a puffer fish, just to finish off the snorkel! As usual, later in the cruise I was exploring options and settings on the camera and found the "underwater" setting again! I should put a sticky note on the camera so I don't keep forgetting!

I was pretty much done. It was supposed to be 30 minutes at each location, with a short boat ride between them. That’s not what we got, but it was still worth it. We swam over to the boat. On the way there, I thought, how are we going to get in? From deep water?! When we got there, Luca told us to hold this rope and take off the flippers. Mom climbed a little ladder first. Where was this ladder when we first climbed in? While waiting for her, I bashed my knee against the boat when I got swooped up in a swell. The day before I bashed my shin on the pool ladder. Typical stuff for me LOL.

I got to use a little of my Spanish and say I was “poco cansada”. LOL. Luca asked where we were from and he was excited to hear Canada because he likes to see snow. He was from Argentina, so had seen snow there. It was kind of neat, because we go north to see snow, and he’d have to go south!

We got back to the seaweed fence and had to figure out how to get out. Turns out it’s similar to jumping over the side…but it’s not deep LOL. We made it back to the shop, where I gave the lady a tip for Luca, and we headed to the washroom and freshwater showers.

Rustic, Mexican charm!

We headed back out to the street, wondering how to properly hail a cab. A man saw us, asked “Taxi?” we said “Si” and could see some up the street. He pointed to them. Thanks! LOL. We walked to them and then saw all. A woman came to get us and we headed back. On the way back, there was a man standing at the curb with a suitcase. She pulled over and we thought she was going to let him in! She spoke to him in Spanish but I couldn't understand except it seemed like she was going to pick him up on her way back to town. 

Like other ports, the taxi could come right up to the actual buildings. There were some cool dune buggies in the parking lot. Next time?

We wondered around the port, keeping an eye out for the girls and Rob. We saw the flamingos

the parrots

the dolphins

No girls and Rob.  We walked all around the big pool (which the girls told us later that it was freezing).

We passed a shop and bottles of vanilla caught my eye. 

They were the ones the members of the cruise group recommended! Mom and I each got a bottle--she got clear though. The sign said $20USD. I had to follow a girl into the shop where she got a calculator and did some math showing me how much the peso is worth and something about what it would say on my credit card bill. I believe, in the end, the two bottles were $56Cdn. They are 500ml. I recently opened mine and oh man. It smells so good, and tastes really good too. 

We headed over to the pier and had a seat at the security booth to wait for the tram. There really should be actual seating. It came and Mom and I got on the first car. We waited a few minutes and then I saw the girls! They didn't notice us and actually climbed up and were sitting down before they clued in! Pretty crazy!!

They had had a good time in the port, but they said the pool was FREEZING. They really wanted to go to a beach. If I had known how the whole week would go, I would have had us all go into the town and the girls could have gone to the beach there. I really wanted to do something independent though, and show my Mom it's not all that scary if you're prepared.

I don't have many details for the evening! I have some random food and menu pictures--some from my kids--but no dates for them. This was the night of the '80s party and I remember trying to walk up the Royal Promenade with either Mom or Rob and it being a zoo. We probably went swimming. Maybe we went to bed early cause we were so tired from the early mornings? We did like to walk the upper decks and the jogging track in the evenings.

One thing I see, looking at the Cruise Compass, was that we went to Jazz on 4 to see the High C's Horns. That was at 10:15. We got down there just after 10 but needed to meet up with the girls. We peeked into Jazz on 4 to see if they were there, and were shocked! The place is tiny! Seats maybe 50 people, in these gorgeous massive chairs. It was totally full, and a lot of people were standing in the doorway because there was no where else to stand (the chairs went right to the back wall). The band started up and it was extremely loud. My ankle couldn't tolerate standing too long at that time of day, so we gave up. We sat in "The Entertainment Place", but we had to sit on the edge of a statue base. There was no where to just sit. I found that in many places around the ship. Waiting to go in the theater or the MDR? Be prepared to stand.

We were really disappointed to miss out on seeing this band.