Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Spring Break 2015 - Day 5 - Nassau

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Today we spent the day at RIU Palace. It's an all-inclusive resort. We bought day passes and had access to all of the perks of staying there... private beach, pool, bars, food, towels, etc. We arrived at 10, but had some issues checking in (to get wrist bands and pay the balance... they only took a deposit when we reserved the passes). Turns out the resort doesn't take AMEX and that's the only credit card I'd brought with me. I did have my bank card with me, so I gave the woman that. It was denied, I guess because I didn't tell the bank we were traveling. Weird because I'd just used it the day before to get money out of the ATM on the ship. Anyway, she tried three times and it was denied all three times. Keeper Boy said we could try his. He happened to have his wallet with him because he wanted to shop while we were in Nassau. His card went through, so he ended up paying the balance and we will pay him back when we are back in Charleston and I can get online to transfer the money.

Once that was taken care of, we spent the first hour and a half on the beach. John and I parked in lounge chairs (do you sense a theme here?) and the boys went down to the water. They did some body surfing.
Keeper Boy catching a wave

Then we grabbed some lounge chairs up on the pool deck once the sun was up enough that they were in the sun (they weren't when we walked through to the beach). The boys played ping pong ALL DAY. They made friends with a boy from Argentina who didn't speak any English. Somehow they managed to communicate. Keeper Boy said his Spanish helped a little. We got in the pool, sat by the pool, lounged on the lounges that were built into the pool, got drinks from the swim-up bar, ate lunch. The boys learned some line dances -- The Cupid Shuffle, the Wobble, and a couple others -- from the activities staff. They also played a rousing game of hot potato, which J-Mav actually won. They Hubby was recruited to play a game where everyone held a plastic cup (by the bottom of the cup) in their teeth and they had to pass a ping pong ball down the row, cup to cup. Keeper Boy and Hubby participated in that and their team won. I got out of it by taking pictures. Thinking we might need to look into an all-inclusive resort for a vacation sometime.

The built-in lounges in the pool

Got a taxi back to the port a little after 5. Realized when I paid the driver her $4/person that I had shorted the driver this morning. Totally unintentional. I feel horrible. Gah!

Did some shopping at the straw market, and now we are back on board and showering for dinner.


Went to dinner, but decided nothing looked fabulous enough on the menu to miss the comedy show we wanted to see, so we just ate in the Lido deck buffet. Then we all went to a comedy show that was family friendly. After that, John and I went to an 18+ comedy show and the boys watched a movie in our stateroom. We fetched them afterward and went to the midnight Mexican buffet and now we are hitting the sack.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Spring Break 2015 - Day 4 - Freeport, Bahamas

Monday, March 30, 2015

Up at 8. Breakfast. Out and about. Took a taxi bus to the Grand Lacayan Resort. Took us a bit to figure out where we needed to be, but once we did, we were ferried out to a platform boat and were in the water snorkeling by 10. We saw so many cool fish! And Keeper Boy and I saw a nurse shark! Then Hubby and I saw a sting ray. We were out there for about 3 hours. J-Mav lasted a little over an hour in the water. He was just unable to stay warm. He was physically shivering in the water. He had fun, though, even just hanging out on the deck of the boat with Timmy (the guide) and the other people who were out there with us. The shark was small... probably 2 -3 feet long. And apparently nurse sharks have no teeth, so I guess had we/he gotten close enough, it wouldn't have eaten too much. It was very graceful swimming along. Hubby was bummed that he didn't see it. We didn't get too close to the ray, either. It had a long barb! We saw so many cool fish... one was blue and yellow striped. Another was black with two thin white lines. Another was black with bright purple polka dots. And there was one that was black, white, and red. We saw a HUGE school of fish that we think were like the ones in Finding Nemo that make the shapes. I mean, hundreds of them just bobbing in place in a pack. Hubby dove down into the pack and they scattered, and then came right back into formation. Pretty neat.
That's Keeper Boy waving, and Hubby to the left snorkeling

After we were done snorkeling, we hung out on the beach for about an hour. Hubby and I laid on our towels, while the boys walked down the beach a bit. The excursion that we got (which was through excursioneer.com, not through the ship), was an unlimited snorkeling pass that was good from 9am - 5pm. And we could go back and forth on the little ferry boat as many times as we wanted to. While we didn't do that, it was cool that we had the ability to.

After we were done hanging on the beach, we walked up an alley to the main road and headed to the shops for about an hour. While the houses were nice, they were all gated in and there are bars on the windows of all houses. Tells you about the safety of the area. Although, in our experience, much of the Caribbean is like that for some reason. Anyway, we got a new mask for the wall, AND we got it for $10 because there was a piece of wood chipped out of it. Hubby "fixed" it when we got home with the filler pen we got with our hardwood floors, and you can't even tell unless you really look closely. Score! Our taxi back to the terminal was a limousine. While that sounds cool, this one had seen better days! It had a mostly flat front tire and was full of dents. But it did the job. The family we shared the limo with was cruising on another Carnival ship that was in port that day. They were from Columbus, OH and had been on a banana boat ride. Their boat driver spied a star fish and told the dad that if he could get it, he could have it! So he did! Of course, they charged him $10 to gut it and dry it out, but still. What a cool souvenir!! It was huge! Great day!!


Another yummy dinner! For appetizers, Hubby had sushi and French onion soup; Keeper Boy had sushi; J-Mav had shrimp cocktail again; I had caesar salad and prosciutto. For dinner, Hubby, Keeper Boy, and J-Mav all had penne with clams, scallops, shrimp, and calamari. The boys had theirs specially prepared with no sauce, so they took longer. As a result, theirs' had no clams. Keeper Boy didn't eat any of his calamari. J-Mav ate most of his calamari, but there was a lot on there (must have been the cheapest seafood of all of the ones included). I had steak. I didn't write down what we had for dessert that night... I know Keeper Boy had lava cake and J-Mav had vanilla ice cream because that's what they had every night. I think Hubby had creme brule. I truly have no idea what I had...

After dinner, we wandered in the shops while the boys played ping pong. Then we went to the Hasbro show. It was billed as oversized Hasbro games. While we were waiting for the show to start, they showed video of the TV version (who knew?), which included variations on Connect Four, Yahtzee, Monopoly, Simon, Operation, and others. During the show, they did Yahtzee and Operation, with the Monopoly being the finale for those who won the other two. Jack tried to get picked, but he wasn't. The little girl that was on the snorkeling boat with us yesterday was picked. We keep seeing that family everywhere now!

Now we are killing time until the 10:00 show--The Game of Love. Like the Newlywed Game. Should be fun.

Still Later...

Hilarious!! They chose the couple in the audience who had been married the longest (48 years), shortest (3 days), and middle (24 years). They were all great. The boys enjoyed the show, too. Jacques (the Cruise Director) was a good host for both shows. As I said, we ran into the couple we had snorkeled with at the Hasbro show and again at The Game of Love. Nice people. No idea what their names are, though, other than the Dad is Adam and the youngest daughter (of three) is Haven.

Went for pizza after the show. Well, Hubby and Keeper Boy had pizza. J-Mav and I just walked along.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Spring Break 2015 - Day 3 - At Sea

Sunday, March 29, 2015

I can't remember the last time I did absolutely NOTHING all day. And while sitting in the sun, too! We slept until 9 and then ate breakfast. J-Mav and I went up first. Hubby and Keeper Boy weren't quite ready (Keeper Boy was still asleep, actually), and J-Mav had been up since 8 and was itching to go eat. In his defense, he did occupy himself quietly and let the rest of us sleep. 

After breakfast, Hubby and I went in search of lounge chairs. Wow. Note to self: stake chairs out early on the next sea day! We finally found two that were about half in the sun. Hubby promptly went to sleep. I read. After a bit, the chairs in front of us (in the sun) opened up, so I moved to a chair, which was all the way in the sun. I read some more. Hubby slept some more. We also people-watched. Cruises are very good for that. Keeper Boy and J-Mav checked in periodically. We grabbed some lunch about 1:30. J-Mav kept cruising by asking if either of us wanted to play shuffleboard, so Hubby finally went. Then he came back a bit later and told me to come with him because J-Mav was saving two chairs for us on the upper deck. Yay! We were up there for about 45 minutes before we headed back here to the room to get ready for dinner as we had told the boys to meet us here at 4. Hubby and I are going to a show at 5. It's a high school band that's on board. Then dinner. It's elegant night.

Oh! The boys had some excitement this afternoon. There had been a call over the intercom for the medical team to go to a stateroom. The boys apparently walked by that very room before the announcement was made and said there was a man calling 9-1-1 because there was a woman who wouldn't wake up. Keeper Boy saw there was a problem and asked if he and J-Mav could run and get someone. The man said thank you but that he had called for assistance. The boys thought the woman might be dead. We never heard anything about or what happened to her.


Didn't hear anything else about the lady. Hope she's okay.

The high school band was really good. They are from Bethlehem, PA. Small world. Freedom High School.

We got all fancied up for dinner and had pictures taken. Hopefully they're good. :) We all had lobster tail and shrimp for dinner. Keeper Boy and Hubby had alligator fritters for an appetizer. J-Mav and I tried them, as well. But he had the shrimp a his appetizer and I had spring rolls. For dessert, Keeper Boy had the lava cake again. I had an apple thing. Hubby had cherries jubilee. J-Mav had vanilla ice cream.
Alligator fritters!

After dinner, Hubby, J-Mav and I went to a motown show, which was very good. Then we all went for a late night snack... pizza and ice cream.

Freeport tomorrow!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Spring Break 2015 - Days 1 & 2 - Leaving VA and Getting to Charleston, SC

I'm going to back date the entries from my journal and just copy what I wrote during our vacation. If I have stuff to add now, in hindsight, I'll put it in italics.


Saturday, March 28, 2015

Wow. What an auspicious start! Delayed while looking for Keeper Boy's retainer. Again. Didn't find it. Finally took off about 5:30 after going back into the house a few times (belt for Keeper Boy, put Keeper Boy's keys back...). Made it almost to Stringfellow (edge of our subdivision) and Hubby realized he left his iPod sitting on top of his car. Back to the house. And finally off. Got almost to Fredericksburg and realized the tub with the nieces' and nephews' Easter baskets and the bag with the camera, sunscreen, books, etc. were still sitting in the house. Gah! John had loaded the truck while I was searching for Justin's retainer. He didn't see the bags and I didn't check. Just assumed he'd gotten everything. Back to the house we went. Potty break. Got the boys' skates while we were there. And our pillows. On the road again about 8:20. Drove and drove. Had traffic until just below Fredericksburg, but everyone was in a good mood. Traffic was good after F'burg.

Started looking for a hotel just below Fayetteville, NC. EVERYTHING was booked. We hadn't made a reservation because we didn't know how far we would get. We ended up driving to, basically, North Charleston, parking in a Wal-Mart parking lot, and sleeping in the truck. First time for everything! We slept for about four or four and a half hours. I changed in the Wal-Mart bathroom and we brushed our teeth in the parking lot with bottled water. We found a Denny's and had some breakfast and then drove to the port terminal without incident.

Finally got through the parking check, paid for parking, and got into the terminal. We had the slowest check-in person AND the entire computer system went down in the middle of our check-in. But it came back up and we finally got our Sea & Sail passes and got onboard. So. Many. Bad. Omens. We looked worn out and beat down in the picture they took just before embarkation!

The ship is older, but nice. Room is small, but fine. Wish it had a couple more outlets. The room had one outlet in the room itself, and one in the bathroom. It was sufficient since we weren't using our phones except for one at night as a "fan." Had we actually had to charge lots of devices, it would've been a challenge. The room became significantly smaller later that night when the cabin steward put the berths down. One was basically a bunk bed over the head part of our bed, and the other was at the foot of our bed. There was floor space at the foot of our bed; however, once the bunks were down, you had to stoop over to get back the bed so that you didn't bonk your head on the bunk. The bunks stayed down for the duration of the trip. We hit our heads more than once while getting up from bed during the night or in the morning.

This is the room looking in from the door. The closets are on the left; the door to the bathroom is on the right. Straight ahead is the bed, and the one upper berth folded down from the left to about where the yellow starts on the bed. The other one came from the other side.

After checking out our room, we explored the ship and stopped at one of the bars and bought the Bubbles soda package. Grabbed a bit to eat in Windows on the Sea on the Lido deck. We weren't real hungry since we ate a big breakfast after vacating our parking space at Wal-Mart.

Our cabin steward is named Nahammed. Hamed for short. Seems very nice.


The muster drill was long. Hope it goes quicker in the event of an actual emergency! :) Apparently you no longer need to take the actual life jackets to the drill.

The boys went exploring after the drill. John and I went to nap on the Serenity deck (over 21 only on rear of ship; Deck 9). He napped. I didn't really. Got some cool pictures of Fort Sumpter as we passed, though.

I'm going to get a pedicure at 7:45 and then we will go eat.

Later still...

Most expensive pedicure ever! OMG! It looks great, but sheesh.

In case you were wondering what a $75 pedicure looks like...

First experience with MyChoice dining was good. Got seated right away (well, it WAS 8:30). Good food. Hubby and I had sweet & sour shrimp. Keeper Boy & J-Mav had salmon. They both had the shrimp cocktail appetizer, too. I had a Caesar salad. Hubby had chicken fingers. For dessert, Hubby had a cheese plate. Keeper Boy & I had chocolate lava cake with vanilla ice cream. J-Mav had vanilla ice cream.

After dinner, we went to the welcome show and now we are crashing. Good day. Had a really fun time talking at dinner. Everyone talked and laughed. Very nice.

Two funny things from Keeper Boy today:
First, when we were exploring the room, he opened the closet and said, "Oh! We have a microwave!" (It was the safe.) Next, at dinner, he thought the butter dish was a bell to summon the waiter. (In his defense, it did look kind of like a bell, but still...)