Friday, March 8, 2013

Love Birds' First Cruise Recap Pt. 2: Days 4-6

{If you missed Pt. 1 catch up here.}
Day 4 - Wednesday, February 27

Approaching Roatan...Mr. Love Bird liked what he saw
This was our first port day: Roatan, Honduras, an island off the coast, and I woke up feeling much better, but still a little shaky. The night before Mr. Love Bird and I made a visit to the medical center. There had been notices in the Cruise Compass (Royal Caribbean's version of their daily paper) that complimentary evaluations were available, but we found that they really weren't. The attendant asked a few questions, gave me seasick tips and offered to have the dr. see me and give me an injection to stop the nausea which would set us back a few hundred dollars. I declined and followed the advice to get some fresh air, drink liquids and took more seasick medicine as well as good ol' Pepto. 

I said a prayer, and we took our time getting off the ship late morning. It helped that we were greeted warmly . . .

I declared, "GET ME TO A BEACH," and we found another couple to split the fare and in about 15 minutes we were here:

It was well with my soul - West Bay Beach
Beach entrance fee included chairs or drinks; they were out of chairs . . . We admired the currency art while awaiting our drinks
Heading back to the ship . . .
This was one of my favorite dinners on the ship but I had to proceed with caution on the ice cream with my still slightly unsettled tummy =(
This was the only ticketed show; it was free but with a smaller capacity rink compared to the usual theatre they had a few shows during the week you could pick up tickets for. They were gone quickly and there was a wait for no-shows. It was a not-to-miss show!
Day 4 - Thursday, February 28

"Why good morning!" (aka glad we kept our curtains closed overnight)
When we woke up were at Belize City, Belize. I was 95% OK the night before so we decided to book an excursion. We ended up going with Royal Caribbean despite the warning of it being overpriced and recommendations to book at the port with an independent vendor, but we decided time was of the essence and we'd better be safe than sorry (logic we somehow abandoned the following day...stay tuned...). Because I hadn't been feeling well I'm glad we did it this way in the end. 

The excursion we picked was...cave tubing! My Galaxy S3 was in our locker with the rest of our belongings, and I had an underwater camera on me for this experience (btw I didn't realize how rare it is to develop film the old school way so I'm trying to find a local spot to do it), but here's what I have to share from the time surrounding the excursion:

Hooray for tendering! It was very efficient and easy.

We spotted a Sleeping Giant on the ride to the caves; when I was pre-schooler living briefly in CT my parents would point these out to me in the surrounding hills and mountains, and I was TERRIFIED. I think I got over that fear!
Silly Chukka Uka - I think he was just excited because they had size 15 water shoes that he squeezed his size 17 feet into O_o

I got called out by our tour guide for falling asleep on the 1 1/2 hr bus ride to our excursion so I tried my hardest to stay awake on the bus ride back to the ship by taking in the local houses

Another local home - the area is below sea level so most are built on stilts
Tender pt. 2

I have to confess - we learned from more experienced cruisers to order multiples of each course so we could gorge on sample as much food as possible; we didn't know this tip the first few days of the trip. As a result these pics are not fully representative of how much we ate at dinner each night.

Each night we could expect different main stage entertainment

Late night hilarious game show featuring our shipmates which was cringe-worthy, but oh so fun!
Day 6 - Friday, March 1

Besides my in-labor like sickness on Day 3 this was the 2nd most scariest day but only to Uka most exciting day of our trip...

Ahhh Cozumel, Mexico. Relatively cold and yucky. It was also our last day to shop and because of the conditions we skipped the beach. The water was very choppy.

Does anyone remember Frankie from Real World San Diego and how she was scared of large boats? I didn't fully understand her fear until I witnessed this upon exiting the gangway:


Completely fear inducing!

There were 2x as many passengers and crew on the Allure (about 6,000) as there were on our ship, the Mariner
We got sidetracked speaking to veteran cruisers on the Allure on our way to the shops. They said while overwhelmingly large, Allure was an amazing ship, part of the Oasis class - the largest cruise ship fleet in the world! I just couldn't imagine that many people on a ship I guess similar to how before being on the Mariner I couldn't imagine 3,000+ people on a ship! It's all relative . . .

Now on to the adventure. Despite all the warnings from Royal Caribbean Mr. Love Bird made an executive decision that we should engage in a bit of exploration on our own via scooter

Everything in me was screaming, "NOOOOOOO!," but I decided to play it calm and cool. But seriously, don't you see the anxiety in his face too???

We ran around to a few shops to collect free charms for Lil Love Bird and me - it was part of a shopping promotion to drive traffic to various stores, but it was all in fun! Plus I liked looking at the big diamond studs (I'm the last person who needs diamond jewelry especially since my right hand ring is still missing. Ughhhh.)

We made it safely to the Mayan ruins around 2p.m. and were heading back at 2:35p.m. along the highway (about a 20 minute ride) when our scooter stopped working. Yep, completely done. Luckily, we were on a stretch near a resort Mr. Love Bird could push the bike too and he got on the phone with the scooter owner while I spoke to the taxi drivers nearby about our situation. The big issue was that the scooter owner had Uka's sea pass card - the card that gets us on the ship! 

When Uka emerged explaining that a new scooter would be arriving in 20 minutes then we'd go to the ship and I saw it was 2:45 by that point I knew that there was going to be another option. How were we supposed to know it would really be 20 minutes? I was trying to remain calm and quickly suggested that we leave the scooter and just take a taxi to the port as we needed to be on by 3:15p.m. since we were departing at 3:30p.m. On top of this we hadn't picked up all the gifts we wanted to yet, but the possibility of being left in Cozumel was obviously the bigger issue. 

Uka went back to call and re-explain then came back again to tell me that option wasn't going to happen so he agreed that I should hop in a taxi and go to the port to "stop the ship" - yes, he said that folks!

I was nearly in tears and although we hadn't done anything illegal, images of Locked Up Abroad popped into my head, and I kept thinking, "At least I have our passports so we can fly back to NYC." The taxi driver delivered me to the port, I eeked out a weak, "Thank you" and snaked through the path to security picking up a few gifts along the way and looking over my shoulder for any sign of Uka. I was about to go join the security line at last and stopped to plead with speak to a Royal Caribbean associate. 

Here's how the conversation went:

Me: Hi sir...

Him: Hi, may I help you?

Me: Ummm my husband rented a scooter and -

I'm telling you I couldn't even get the full sentence out before he was all like:
{Image Credit}
Me: Well, what would happen if...

And mid-sentence I looked over my shoulder and there was Mr. Love Bird tearing down the walkway sweating with bits of highway grit on his face and a really red eye from not having his sunglasses on in the midst of the chaotic ride back. 

So I told the attendant nevermind and strangled hugged Uka tightly, and we made it through security walking on board at 3:27p.m. for a scheduled departure of 3:30. 

We still had an adrenaline rush, but I quickly came down and felt so drained. Mr. Love Bird on the other hand thought it was the best part of the trip. 

NO, sir it was NOT! It was highly stress inducing and made me feel sick all over again. NOT GOOD, but whatever. I let him have his excitement . . .

I was glad to return to a bit of normalcy onboard that night:

I stumbled upon the last of 3 rehearsals of my shipmates' painful voluntary performance of "Thriller"

Here's the video clip of the rehearsal:

We skipped the 2nd formal night and ate at Jade, the Asian buffet. The sushi was the most disappointing thing I ate on the cruise.
That night's performance was a Frankie Valli cover group; we met one of the singers later (he was staying on our floor) and he was the only one we met the entire trip who lived in NYC. Turns out they were part of a group of 40 men who rotate in and out of the show and this performance was their first time working together. They were so good you couldn't even tell!

I crashed SO hard that night!

Next, I'll come back wrap up with Days 7 and 8 then talk specifically about:
  • The Ship Itself/Royal Caribbean's Brand
  • The Food
  • The Entertainment 
  • The People 
  • The Ports/Excursions 
  • My Top Tips for Your First Cruise
  • Leaving My Lil Love Bird
Have you ever been in a tricky travel situation like the one we found ourselves in? What would you have done? I'd love to hear your stories!