Started with Jen, Brandon, and his mom, Pia, coming into town two weeks ago. Pia had never been to the eastern part of the country, other than airports. We went to Cedar Point amusement park, and the Ohio State Fair. And of course, hit up all Jen and Brandon's favorite restaurants. Saturday morning Michael and I, and the three of them flew down to Miami to meet up with Brandon's dad and sister. Went to South Beach for dinner. I am NOT impressed with that area. The actual beach was beautiful, but the restaurant/bar area was too crowded, too expensive, and the food was nothing to brag about. Plus, I actually started to think that the women there try to see how much they can get away with showing without being completely nude. And these are big women, BIG. There is no shame in that city.
Boarded the ship on Sunday, went to Key West on Monday. Did the Duval Crawl, hitting the main bars. Brandon's dad is a HUGE Jimmy Buffet fan, and hitting every Margaritaville is on his Bucket List, so of course we went there. Lots of drinking, lots of walking. And it was HOT. Tuesday was a water day, then Wednesday we went to Grand Cayman. Didn't do a planned excursion there either, just did our own thing. Went to a beach along Seven Mile Beach which was the most beautiful I've ever seen. Water was blue and clear, the beach was clean. I could very easily have stayed there forever I think. On the way back, our van driver took us up to Hell, where I got my passport stamped. Yep, I've officially been to Hell and it wasn't as bad as I thought.
Thursday was Ocho Rios Jamaica. We rode the Jamaican Bobsled which was a blast. First you have a gorgeous 15 minute chair lift ride over 700 feet up through the rainforest, then the bobsled ride, kind of like a roller coaster. And best of all it takes you back up to the tower when you're finished. You can control the speed, but they say it's safest if you just flat out let it go, which all of us did. I'd like to know how fast it goes. You can ride the chair lift up and down all day if you want. If I ever get back to Jamaica, I would definitely go up and down a few times. Most of it is through the forest, but for a long time you can see the ocean, including the shore and ship.
After the ride, grabbed a shuttle back to the ship area. Our driver was NoProblemPete, the 'best driver in Jamaica Mon'. He sang songs and talked about island. We were the only ones on the shuttle, so we got pampered a little. Of course we tipped him very well. Back by the ship is the shopping area. First we went to Margaritaville. Had a great waitress who really played along with the group. Then we walked along the store fronts, then the area before the dock where stalls and tables are set up. These vendors are relentless, all out begging you to look at their wares, buy something, or just flat out give them something. One guy hit up Brandon for his watch. Pretty ballsy, considering Brandon's 6'3 and about 270.
Friday was a sail day, then back to port about 6:30 Saturday morning.
During the cruise we had the first dinner shift. Loved our wait staff, they were professional, but very funny once they realized we were a crazy group. Our steward was nice, too. Amazed he called us by name, they get the manifest and memorize every guest they have, every week.
It was good timing for the Olympics. On sail days and during the evenings we were usually able to get a large table on desk and play cards, while watching the games on the giant screen.
The weather was perfect all week, even the storms were timed right so as to not interfere with any plans. Friday afternoon and evening was the best, with hours of thunder and lightning. I sat on the balcony for a long time and watched.
Overall I had a great time, and do plan on another cruise, but probably wouldn't go Carnival next time. Too many kids. Plus I was kind of underwhelmed with the food. I expected better quality, and more fresh stuff. Jen and I agreed we thought there would be buffets of fruits and veggies. We were lucky to find anything other than melon and apples. They had a snack bar on the main pool deck with burgers, dogs, chicken tenders, and nachos that was open 24/7. And you could get ice cream anytime. But the regular buffet food for the three meals was so-so. The food at the sit-down dinner was good, and we did eat at the Steak House one night, which was excellent.
Little Bit has forgiven me for deserting her. She didn't leave my side the first day, but she's back to her finicky self now. At work I'm trying to catch up. Our fiscal year end is July 31st, so I was gone for it. I miss the old days when I could go hours and not have any work to do. Now I'm buried.