Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Day 9: Falmouth, Jamaica

Jamaica, mon.  Again. We have been here, at one port or another, for three out of five cruises. Eastern, Western, and now Southern have all included Jamaica. We did a fabulous off-road tour in 2007, an interesting catamaran snorkel in 2011, and now this trip. Originally, this was to be a sea day, and the last day of the trip was to Key West, FL. That changed with the hurricanes, though other ships started going back to Key West shortly before our cruise. We weren't too excited about going back to Falmouth, although now the construction would be completed. We figured it would be another rest day. I would have liked to do an excursion, but with the incidents in the news about we made Magaritaville our excursion.

Not sure why we were in this lounge at 9:16am. I think Rob needed the bathroom LOL. This is the Ensemble Lounge on Deck 5 and was where we had our Muster Drill on the first day. A nice, quiet lounge, often with acoustic music, I wish we had used it more. 

We made it off the ship and decided to walk around and get our kids' souvenirs that we hadn't gotten around to getting. What a lot of junk in those stores. A lot of drug and sex references. I get that it's Jamaica, but really, it made it hard to find things for the kids. All they really wanted was Del Sol things (for the girls; Hugh is hard to buy for!). I took this picture because there was a boy in the kindergarten class with brothers living in Jamaica and he was a huge Usain Bolt fan. We were walking around the outer parts of the port complex. There are some nice garden areas if you want a bit more quiet from the marketplace. 

We decided to find Margaritaville for some refreshments. It's on the "port shopping map" the ship provides. But do you think we could find it? We could see what looked like a pool area, but we could not find the entrance, based on what the map showed. I should have known by this time to look at a REAL map before arriving, but we didn't have a on-board wifi plan. We found another restaurant next to the potential pool, and thought about going there, but Rob wanted to stick with a name he knew. He asked the girl at the Greeter's podium. She pointed to a little path between two buildings. WTH? 

Somehow, we found the back way into Margaritaville. Totally bizarre. And for some odd reason, it didn't occur to us to bring our swimsuits either. So we sat outside for drinks. I had a really hard time getting the wifi to log in, the waitress wasn't much help. Finally logged in and it kept dropping. But nice to connect with home for a few minutes. 

I was going to have a margarita, since well, we were in Margaritaville (again). Opted instead for drinks in the souvenir glasses. And then a different drink. And then Rob insisted we have one more. I was quite buzzed by the time we finished and got our bill for $9,554.13. Jamaican Dollars! LOL! I knew ever even thought about what currency Jamaica had. We could also pay $96.89Cdn. Wow, it was about the same price as an excursion! For 46oz of slushie drinks (each!), a souvenir glass, and a good buzz. A nice way to "end" the cruise. 

 As we left, we went out the "proper" way. Through the store, of course.
 Totally applicable, since we entered in through some obscure back path.
 This was for my brother and his girl; they have an iguana.
 Well, we were younger than most on the ship (It says "Mixed drinks for those who don't blend in")
 We headed back up to our room for a rest. It bugs us that the only way to view the TV is to lay on the bed. On our first (two?) cruises, the TV was across from the couch. That's a much better set up.

Couple Selfie! Coupie?
We had seen earlier in the week during port departure, a lot of officers and cruisers on the helipad. We finally got our invite to attend for this day. It stated that we needed close toed shoes.  I swear, one of the other guests was wearing slippers. I only had my clog like shoes that I had worn down. I actually did not bring closed toe shoes for this trip because I figured we were taking it easy. Who would have thought I'd need them to go to the helipad? On this ship, you access it through a door into the crew area, and then out to their outside lounge, and then go up some stairs. So that part was kind of neat. Once up there, you get a little fizzy drink and get to mingle with the officers and staff.

 This woman had bought this shark puppet and was getting her friend to take pictures of her "eating" things in the background. They were having a great time but her husband was mortified. I added to his embarrassment by asking if I could play along! LOL.
 What's that out there?
Wow, it's a little fishing boat. And Rob is afraid to take Bob into Lake Ontario!
See, Jamaica does have police. It's a safe place! :)

THe man on the far right is the Cruise Director. I went up to him and asked him if he used to work on Royal and he said yes. I said I'm pretty certain you were the CD on our first or second cruise! He was impressed we remembered him. I don't recall him having a sock fetish back then though...
Thanks for the photo, hubby. Once again, at an angle.

Jamaica really is quite a beautiful island.

That's a shot of Margaritaville. We could see that "volcano" but could not find the entrance!

We walked around and checked out the blown glass on display. The artist had talked about how this vase didn't go as planned, but she worked with it anyway. I think the flower was supposed to be on the bottom but got stuck to the side as she put it in

Awww. Sea turtle!
Glass rods they use for various things.Love the colours!

Vase and pitcher
There is a "Whiskey House" on deck 15 (shown as "The Porch" in the Celebrity brochure of the layouts). It seemed to always be closed. It appears sometimes they have tastings (the Daily Planner lists tastings at a few bar, but they were extra). I do recall going by once and it was packed. 

 Looking down into the library

This was an interesting space on deck 7. Called "Team Earth" there was a really neat table and all these screens and posters promoting the WWF and their work with shoreline and shallow water rehabilitation. I'm not really sure what the area was for though. There was also a Card Room on deck 9.  It was very popular.
I think I took this picture because there was nothing on the menu I wanted that night. 

And our, sometimes very stinky, hallway. Can you see Rob all the way down there? He's by our door. Really, it's not that far (compared to the Allure!!), but anytime you want to go to the room...
Anderson came to bed with me :) We didn't get towel animals, so Anderson was the next best thing. Okay, maybe better.
There was a stage production show. I'm sure it was good. I have no pictures or really any recall. They tend to blend together. I see in the planner that Sean Roach played in a lounge, but I have a feeling we were tired.

I think this was one of the few nights where I didn't want anything on the menu. I probably had a Caesar salad and the grilled New York Striploin.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Cruise 2017: Day 8, At Sea

Finally, a day to relax, right? Not quite! There's always stuff going on. I did try hard though, and I think we were fairly successful!

I have nothing highlighted in the daily planner, but I know we did stuff. Pictures don't lie!

Okay, so the only picture I have from the daytime was this one:

Taken in the Sky Lounge, I was there for the Music Trivia, Broadway edition. I did terrible! They were mainly newer shows that I haven't played the music from. Then we stayed for the Trivia Club: Afternoon Challenge. This was to be general knowledge. General, my foot. Oh well, it was fun.

Prior to this, we had gone to Celebrity Central at 3:00 for a presentation "Oceans Ahead with 2nd Engineer Giorgios: How The Ships Move". It was a good crowd. That waited, and waited, and waited. We were probably mainly Canadians, considering how long we waited. People started coming in for the 4:00 Bingo. A few staff members tried to find Giorgios, and eventually they said they'd try to reschedule and to check the planner. Never saw it listed for another time. Rob explained to me how ships move though. An engine turns a shaft which turns the propeller and the water displaced pushes the ship forward. So now you know too!

 It was "Evening Chic" night, and I wanted to get a picture of my dress that I made. So Rob posed so I could set up the self-timer

We've really slacked off on "formal" night. He didn't even wear a tie. In fact, when he was packing, he found a drink receipt in the jacket pocket from the last cruise in 2014. So, obviously, we're not dress up people. Well, I try to. Him, not so much.

 Random dining room shots. At the large table behind me was a great group. They weren't all together, and had a great time getting to know each other. I realized a few days ago (on the cruise) that "Kevin"---the taxi-driver finder from Grand Caymen--was at this table. Sounds like a fabulous guy.

 Seafood cocktail, I do believe. An appetizer.
 It was lobster night. I agreed to try lobster tail for real this time. On Royal, Rob always started with two and often got at least one more. This time, there was one lobster tail. It's pretty small once they take it out of the shell. It was okay. I wasn't crazy for it, but  I ate it. And was still hungry. Don't recall the dessert.
People always say that Celebrity is for old people and I know they're trying to appeal to younger folk too. But this was the scene in the ONE dining room every night. And there were more scooters outside the door, and of course, some guests needed them to get to their table. At least ten mobility devices were parked at the doors.

 The nice thing was though, the evenings were very quiet on the open decks. This tends to be true on other ships too, but much more so on this one. Still windy though.
 Awesome Curad bandaids I got from the Guest Relations desk before dinner (I didn't wear those shoes to dinner). I always get blisters on cruises cause I tend to get new shoes before we go LOL. Those bandaids stayed on for quite a while, even after swimming.
 The Solarium roof. We were trying to decide if these are mini-solar panels.
The evening show was a Tribute to Broadway. Well done, of course. There was another Silent Disco listed in the planner, but I don't think we went. No glass blowing show either. There was one at 3:00-5:00, but of course we went to the talk that never happened. So, it looks like it was a pretty low key day after all.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Cruise 2017: Day 7, Bonaire

Usually when you do an Eastern or Western Caribbean, you get a sea day in between port days. You might get two port days in a row, but just once. This cruise, like most Southern ones, has three port days in a row. It's tiring. If it weren't for the fact we're pale Canadians, we would do excursions later in the day, but for what we wanted to be doing, early morning was best.  Shortly before we left for the cruise I got referrals for snorkeling in Bonaire. Renee was said to be the best. I emailed, and we tentatively arranged for 8am. However, it wasn't totally finalized, and I still had questions but it was hard connecting through email during our few port stops. She said she'd meet us at the end of the pier. Never having been there, we just took people's word that it would be easy to find her at this small port.
One sailboat we saw in Bonaire...towing TWO Zodiacs!

We walked off the ship and down the pier. And looked around. I didn't see any sign with our name, or her name. I think I heard my name being called. Anyhow, we found a lady with another couple and she confirmed she was who we wanted, though she didn't say she was actually Renee. The other couple were also Canadian! We followed Renee, walking briskly, to her little minivan, got in, and off we went. She explained that we'd do a walk in drift float off the coast nearby, then travel to another spot and do a jump in off a dock. She drove around the downtown and came out to a street RIGHT NEXT to the water, with a gravel "beach". Totally unlike any snorkeling spots we've been too.

Renee explained that there was an annual sailing regatta going on, so kids were out of school, and that's why there were SO many sailboats.  I wish we could have found out before and maybe gotten to go for a sail! The plan was to put all our shoes in a mesh bag and she'd float them down current with us. Luckily, I had cheap sandals, though Rob had his new sandals and wasn't too thrilled about them soaking in salt water. But he also didn't want to walk back up the road in his bare feet!

Renee chooses this spot because there isn't a huge reef. That sounded odd to us, but she explained that in reefs, the fish hide and you don't get to see that many. Makes sense!

Can you see him in the rock? So cool!

Don't know what most of the fish were called, but this guy was cute!
A little creepy looking but cool to see!
This one was freaking me out a bit.

Renee got really excited at one spot. Usually she yells out "Yoo Hoo!" and you come up to hear what she found. But it was hard to hear, and a little challenging for me with her accent. She'd point into the water and I'd just try to figure out what was so exciting. This time, it was this baby blue tang. Usually they're out in deep water so this was a real treat. They're yellow when born and as they change to blue, they go through a greenish period.

This area was used to discard old engine blocks. We're unsure if this was to create reef like structures.
The little tiny sailboats!
This is where we put in. If you look on Google maps, you'll see two docks on the west shore. I think it was the north one.
A Royal Bank! Another neat thing we saw here was an electronic billboard that gave all the upcoming dates and ships that would be in port.
Hard to see the Equinox behind the scrub brushes

After snorkeling here for awhile, we got out and she offered us a cup of soda, if I remember correctly. Warm.  But appreciated! We headed through the town, further up the coast, past the Governor's house. We parked and walked through a resort(?) to a dock where we put in. 

This location has a deep drop off, though we didn't go over that far. She chose this location because the drop off brings certain fish. There were other reasons too...I think there was more coral here?

 As soon as we got in the water, it seemed blue-er, brighter. I realized it was because there were hardly any clouds left in the sky. I'm glad we went early, but it really is so much more vibrant with the sun out.

So many fish!  Below is some vehicles in the parking lot that Rob said "Take a picture of that!"

 I had let her know in my emails that although I really enjoy snorkeling, I don't seem to be very good at it. I tend to hold my breath! She was very encouraging, and checked in on me often. Learning that I had to get every strand of hair out of the mask was appreciated, and even more, learning how to quickly blow out any water that snuck into the mask, was a game-changer. It was still a challenge to remember to keep breathing LOL. I didn't get sea sick at all this time! I did have one time that I lowered my head too much and got a snorkel full of water LOL.  And Rob tried to adjust it once and broke the clip off. Renee was able to take a hair elastic and McGyver it back together.

She took us back to the ship and we went up to change and eat. Of course, eating, eating, eating. I convinced Rob to head back off the ship, since we'd never been here, might never get back, and it's still an "undeveloped" port.

 Such beautiful water, makes you want to just head in right there. Except for all those crabs.
 Colourful little buildings. It was a pretty short walk around since Rob wouldn't do any shopping. I wish I could have convinced him to go on the flamingo or salt mine tours!
 I assume these were locals, but next time...

 You can see the salt piles off in the distance. Looks like snow!

 Somewhere along there is the second place we went snorkeling
 Lagoon on Klein Bonaire...the island right off shore.

No giant resorts on this island

 The airport

 Closer view of the salt works. It's actually quite a distance aways. But so huge.

Rob went for a nap so I was just strolling the ship during sail away.

 This is a BBQ Pork Spring Roll, I do believe. Yummy, I could have eaten more. Not much to that Chipotle coleslaw! We also had a Crispy Thai Beef spring roll one night that was good. Not sure if I got a picture. Our menus didn't quite match up with the ones I'm linking to.
The most incredible Prime Rib! I've never cared about prime rib before, but after this? Oh man, it was so good. I did try the horseradish, and I'll pass on that.

This appears to be a souffle. Rob appears unimpressed, but I'm pretty sure it was delicious.

We often got back to our cabin just as our steward was finishing up (or even before, since we had no one to talk to during dinner). This night, we got in the cabin and Rob noticed a wet spot on the bedspread. For some reason, he sniffed it. It smelled like bleach!!!

We have no idea of what happened. I'm glad I didn't sit down there! A couple times we entered the corridor from the elevators and were overwhelmed with the smell of moth balls. We did complain about that but don't know what it was from.

The evening's show was "Derek Cameron & Specialty Acts". What was that?  OMG! I just googled "Derek Cameron Celebrity Equinox". Do NOT do it. What comes up (LOL) was NOT what we saw. Perhaps this was the night a couple of other other singers/groups came back for a brief act.

Anyway. There was an event up at the Glass Blowing Studio called "Hot Glass Cool Sounds with Sean Roach". We caught the last hour of that. It was really good. The glass artists took turns working on something, silently, while Sean Roach played acoustic guitar. Old folk, rock type songs. Like being at a campfire, except he can really sing, and the campfire was the gas powered furnace. Good grief, just Googled Sean Roach, and the dude's Canadian. No wonder he can rock the campfire. He looks a little rougher in that YouTube video from the club. We didn't see him on the theater stage, but here's some of his show on another ship.  I would definitely be excited to see him on another cruise. Or back here at home.
 See...just like a campfire!
 After a bit, the artists do a spiel while Sean takes a little break.
 This artist's father loves to fish for sailfish so she created this piece for him. Wow. So much work!
 This shell was passed around. I couldn't believe how gorgeous it was. It was going in the auction at the end of the cruise. I knew I couldn't afford it (though it went for a LOT less than I thought it should have).

 Some other pieces
And I don't think any day was complete without a trip to the custom pasta bar.

We were quite happy the next day was a sea day. We needed a rest!