Saturday, April 30, 2016

Vacation: Carnival Freedom day 7

The last sea day arrived finally and the reality of home began to sink in. We slept in again (hello another day of no yoga) and I only woke up because Dad sent me a message to see if we were awake yet. Since it was 8:00, I decided I better get up and not waste any of our last day.

We got dressed and met Dad on lido for the breakfast buffet. I got a couple of eggs over easy from the omelette station along with my buffet goodies. We sat near a window and actually watched a couple of birds flying around. I can't figure out why there are birds flying around so far from land. Don't they get tired? Where do they land? Where do they live? It baffles me. 

After breakfast, Nick and I headed down to the main lounge to make towel animals. We each made a puppy and an elephant, which I think are the two animals they taught us to make on the Triumph last year. Our room steward, Faruk, was showing everyone what to do on stage. We cheered loudly for him. 
We did a little bit of shopping on deck 5 once we left the theater because the sale tables had been pulled out for the last day. I picked out a couple of new t-shirts for myself. 

We decided to eat at the Mongolian Wok today since I hadn't had a chance to dine there yet. It's one of the places that's only open from noon-2:30 each sea day so it's hard to remember to get back there in time to eat. I also made myself a salad and the chocolate buffet was set out, but it didn't really have much that tempted me I did eat a chocolate rum ball and a tiny sliver to chocolate cheesecake. 

The magician from dinner a few nights ago had a show at 1:00 this afternoon so we caught most of that, but we had to leave early because we needed to be back in the atrium for the last day of Super Duper trivia. Most of our team from yesterday came back, and we gained a couple of new team members. We actually did really well today and ended up finishing third overall, which isn't bad since we were in 4th or 5th yesterday.  Nick and I stayed for Harry Potter trivia next but really didn't do well, which only signifies that I need to reread the books. 

The cruise director had a short Q&A session at 3, so we went to that and found it really very interesting. I am fascinated by the life style that the crew members choose to live. 

Immediately after that session, Malcolm changed into a hot pink 80's Mohawk wig and lead 80s music trivia in the atrium. Just like Motown the day before. It ended up being a big sing along when we graded answers. We ended up getting 18 correct and earned a boat on a rope medal! Woohoo!
It was time to get dressed for dinner one last time with Alex, Rama, and Gary in the main dining room. They were our wait staff all week and we loved them! Alex was especially fun. Tonight I had jerk pork loin and melting cake, of course. 
We finished dinner and went to hear Bill D. Washington's comedy act, which was hilarious once again. After taking a few more photos, we headed up to the room to begin packing. I started a load of laundry and then sent Nick to go listen to a performance in the main lounge so I could pack in peace. 

Once the luggage was out, we decided to get some water and take a few last laps around the walking track. We ran into Mom, Coleen, and Richard in line for pizza, so we talked to them for a little while before we walked. 
Now I'm laying in bed, sad because my vacation is over but excited to get home to hug my little girl. I've missed her! 

Friday, April 29, 2016

Vacation: Carnival Freedom day 6

Thursday was a saw day as we began our long trek home. Nick and I aren't much for laying around on a cruise ship- we like to fill our days with activities and games so we planned a busy day.

Nick actually had a spa appointment at 8 for a shave and facial thing with Jacques from South Africa. Our room steward, Faruk, had brought a birthday card with a $50 spa coupon inside, so the service cost him $59 with the built-in gratuity. I decided not to go back to yoga because hello- it was hard- so I slept in. 

I got dressed to go around the time Nick came back from the spa, so he and I met Dad and went down to brunch in the Posh dining room on deck 3. Dad and I both had a filet mignon and eggs and Nick ordered a spicy hen dish. 
After brunch we headed to the atrium for a Thriller dance class and learned the choreography from Michael Jackson's video in front of a large crowd that had gathered to cheer us all on. There were probably 30 or so of us dancing. It was fun! 

A digital scavenger hunt was next on the agenda, and we wore ourselves out running all over the ship. We had 15 items and 15 minutes to get pictures and get back to the lounge on deck 5. Here's how it went: 

We ran out of deck 5 and up 5 flights of stairs to get a photo with the smoke stack, hole #2 on the putt-putt course, and the basketball court. Then we bolted down to lido deck9 for a photo with the iguana and frog on each bars a towel animal, a lady in a floppy hat, and we couldn't find a guy in a speedo. 

Next it was down 6 flights of stairs to get the underside of a lifeboat and then back up to deck 5 to get a pic in front of the Cherry On Top candy shop, find someone in an ugly outfit, to the coffee bar for a tuxedo strawberry, and into the arcade for an iPad claw machine. We went into the piano bar for a photo with the grand piano and totally interrupted a seminar, which we felt bad about, and ran back into the Jazz lounge with 2 minutes to spare. We had 14 items, but we were not the first with 14 so we lost. 
After the scavenger hunt we stayed for rock trivia and also lost. I was completely sweaty and needed water badly!

There was no time for hydration because it was time to join our team again in the atrium for Super Duper trivia. We began the trivia on the first sea day Monday, and the next two sea days would determine which team won. We gathered several new team members because most of our original ones didn't return for day 2.  

We decided to grab a Guy's Burger for lunch and sat with Cody and Kim, a couple from our cruise group while we ate. They're really nice and have been enjoyable to talk with all week.

After Guy's, we looked at photos for a bit and then I went into the atrium to do Motown trivia with Malcolm, our cruise director, while Nick went up to the room for a nap. Malcolm so much fun- by far a superior CD to our last one, Kirk, who was funny but not as dorky and involved as Malcolm is. That took a while but it turned into a huge Motown sing-a-long in the atrium so it was a lot of fun. 

This was elegant night #2 so we got dressed and met Dad at the dining room for dinner. Tonight I had a dual of filet mignon and spare ribs, which was so delicious. Of course I had melting cake again and tonight I also ordered a grand marnier soufflĂ© to try. It was ok, but it just wasn't chocolate melting cake. 
We took some more photos for the evening since we were dressed up and then went to the comedy club to hear the PG show from Billy D. Washington- he was hilarious! Definitely enjoyed his show. 
The show in the main lounge tonight was Heart of Soul, featuring Motown and soul music. We enjoyed that the show quite a bit and decided after to go out to the hot tub and sit in it until they kicked us out at midnight. Tomorrow is our last sea day. Sad face! 

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Vacation: Carnival Freedom day 5

Day 5??! When did that happen? We are already halfway through the cruise. Boo for that, but yay for today 5 being Jamaica, man.

In Jamaica our excursion is to spend the day at an all-inclusive resort, but we were in the second group to go so we didn't have to meet for the excursion until 11 am. That meant sleeping in a little bit. Which we desperately needed. I started a load of clothes before we went out to the breakfast buffet and then up on deck 10 to take in the views of beautiful Jamaica. I couldn't wait to step foot on land, because what I could see from the ship was gorgeous! 
I dried our clothes while getting everything ready for the day. We got off the ship and did a little bit of shopping before meeting up with our excursion group for a day of relaxation on the beach. Dad went with us today. He has gotten off the ship at each port, but so far he has only spent a coupe of hours shopping for the grandkids and then returned to the Freedom. This was his first real beach day. 
We exited the ship just before 10 am and went ahead to our excursion line. They boarded is shortly thereafter, so we didn't have to wait until our 11 am time slot after all. The bus ride to Secrets was really short- maybe 5 minutes- so we didn't really get to see that much of Jamaica on our way over there. 
Once at the resort we were set loose and told to have a fun day. We could go anywhere on both Secrets properties and everything was included. We walked around the grounds and hunted for a couple of available beach chairs in the shade, which took a while but we finally found a spot to claim for the day. 
Nick and I were pretty red for Grand Cayman the day before, so we were careful to add more sunscreen multiple times, but I still managed to get sunburned. Not very long after we sat down a waiter came over to offer us drinks. Dad ordered a daiquiri and I asked for something non-alcoholic. At first the waiter tried to convince me that it was ok on vacation, but I just don't like the taste of alcohol so he said he was a mechanic and he could fix me something. He returned with our drinks, and mine was some sort of fruity concoction that was quite tasty but alcohol-free. 
Nick and I grabbed our snorkels and headed into the water. We had to swim out a ways to get to the pretty coral and big rocks, but we saw a lot of interesting and different fish and plants under water. 
We were told on the bus ride over to make sure we didn't miss the man with the jerk chicken cart, so as soon as we spotted him around noon we jumped in line for jerk chicken. It was delicious! I've got to find some jerk tub when we get home because it's fantastic. 
We sat on the beach for a little bit and went hunting for bathrooms, which is when we spotted the peacocks and macaw that are on property. They even had a whole bunch of peacock chicks wandering around! 
The bathrooms were located outside the buffet, so we decided to venture in and see what was offered. I don't think any of us were actually hungry after the jerk chicken, but I wanted a real salad and Nick can always eat more food. Even dad made a small plate before going back to the beach lounger.
We hopped back in the water for more snorkeling and playing. I moved around some rocks while snorkeling and discovered some hiding spiny starfish looking creatures, which some nearby fish printout started attacking so I had to shoo them away with my feet until the starfish could get to another rock. Oops. 
It didn't take long and our time in Jamaica was just about over. We dried off and took a few more photos on the beach before making our way back to the bus.
Once on board Nick headed to the atrium for trivia and I went up to deck 10 to watch us sail away. I exchanged stories from the day with some friends I met and enjoyed watching Jamaica disappear into the distance.
 That's when Mom, Richard, and Coleen caught up to us and I found out what Mom did on the beach today: she got 32 braids! Apparently she has always wanted to do that, so today she checked that off her bucket list.

I was determined to see at least one sunset while on this cruise, and usually we were at dinner when the sun retired so I told Nick that we were dining later tonight so I could watch the sun set. Since we were now traveling west, that meant we had to head to the front of the ship. Coleen went with us. I love the front decks of the ship. There are never any people up there, although a couple more joined us, because most people don't know that they're out there, which is fine by me. 
We showered then and dressed for dinner. We were dining with Mom, Richard and Coleen tonight. Dad had grabbed a burger and gone to bed- we wore him out on the beach! Tonight one of the appetizer choices was escargots, and I made Mom and Richard try them. They liked the garlic butter better than the snails (truth be told I do too) but it was fun anyway. Our waiter, Alex, is a hoot so he had fun messing with Mom tonight about the snails. 
After dinner we took a few photos and then headed to the main lounge for this evening's show, Getaway Island. It featured lots of beach themed and drinking themed songs. The cast on board is really talented. The main show was followed by a Caribbean deck party up on Lido, so that's where we headed for an hour or so of line dancing- and Nick even joined in!! I was so proud of him for trying it and he kept up pretty well. He wouldn't let me get my camera back out once he joined us though, so I only have some video of the rest of us dancing. 
We stayed up on the Serenity deck for a little bit since the night club was outdoors tonight, but we all got tired pretty soon after since it was past midnight and headed on to bed. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Vacation: Carnival Freedom day 4

We awoke once again bright and early to begin our day in Grand Cayman. Technically we didn't have to get up super early since our excursion wasn't to meet until 9:15 to catch a tender to shore, but we wanted to give ourselves plenty of time.

Taking a tender to shore is kind of interesting. Georgetown doesn't have a pier to dock at, so we have to hop on smaller boats to get from the cruise ship to shore. The whole process was tedious and time consuming, but mostly everyone around us did a good job on keeping their cool and not causing a scene. Patience is key when you're trying to ferry 3,000 people onto shore. 

We met up with our tour group and signed our waivers. We had decided to do a snorkeling excursion over the sunken USS Kittiwake ship and then on to a coral reef area. There were 14 people in our group, which was a perfect size. 

We were led from the terminal area a little ways down the street to our boat. The excursion was led by Cayman Diving, and our guides were Josh and Connor. They were both in their early 20s I would say, but very professional and nice. 
We had a 15 minute boat ride from the shore to the shipwreck. Since it is off the shoreline a little ways, the water was rougher out there because it was a tad windy. We had to swim into the wind to get from our boat to the shipwreck. It was pretty neat to be swimming along and suddenly the Kittiwake came into view. I had flashbacks of Titanic music come into my head. 

The 250 foot Kittiwake was a naval submarine rescue vessel, and it's claim to fame was being the ship that located and recovered the black box from the Challenger back in 1984. It was decommissioned in 1995 and they sunk it off Cayman's coast in 2011. It's now a pretty popular snorkel and diving sight. 

We just so happened to come upon it at the bow of the ship, so we snorkeled the full length of it and then turned and came back the full length to the bow. There were several divers down in the water, so we could see them moving around and play with their bubbles that were rising to the surface. 
It's really eerie to look down over a sunken ship. I guess if it had not been purposely sunken, it would have felt a little creepier, but still pretty eerie nonetheless. 
The highest point of the ship sits 14' below the surface of the water, so I had to make an attempt to touch it...and I was successful! Nick filmed the whole thing. I was pretty proud of myself. 
After our 40 minutes were over at the shipwreck, we were taken back near our cruise ships to a coral reef the locals call Cheeseburger Reef. It got its nickname because it sits out off the shore from
Burger King, which was the first chain restaurant to come to the island. 
We had another 40 minutes to snorkel there before it was time to head to shore. We got off the boat and walked just a short way over to Rackams for lunch. I had a jerk chicken sandwich (minus the bread) with sweet potato fries and Nick had fish tacos with cole slaw and a salad.  They had wifi so we sat there for an hour-ish before heading out. 
From there we took a 10 minute walk down to Hard Rock Cafe so I could buy a pin for my collection. Then we caught a taxi to take us to Seven Mile Beach. 

What do you think the odds would be that our cab driver would choose to drop us off at Calico Jacks on Seven Mile Beach and the second we walked into the sand I would spot Coleen, Rochard, and Mom? Probably not that great, but that's exactly what happened. 

We hung out with them until time to head back to the cruise pier. Mom and Richard both tried our snorkel masks and loved them, and I sat in the shallow water and dug around in the sand to find a few small chunks of dead coral and pieces of shells to bring home along with my baggie of sand. 
We took a cab back together and dos a little bit of shopping before getting back on the tender to take us to the ship. Unloading 200 people from the tender took forever.

I headed straight to the room to shower and discovered the sunburn on my back. Yay. It's not terrible, but I'm definitely red. Nick showered and we dressed for dinner. We sat again in Alex's section, but since Dad opted not to eat in the dining room tonight Alex immediately asked us where Mr. Billy was. He will just have to join us again tonight since Alex  missed him. I had beef tenderloin tips for appetizer and fish with plantain chips for my main course, followed by melting cake of course. I ordered a S'mores parfait to try as well, but it wasn't hear as good as the cake so Nick ate it, which he later regretted. 
We finished dinner and waited until time to go to the main lounge for the Hasbro Game Show, which is a live version of the TV show Family Game Night. Kate would've been so excited! Later in the evening was the Love & Marriage Show, which is always hilarious. Once that was over we were exhausted so we headed to our cabin for bedtime. 

Tomorrow is our last port day in Montego Bay, Jamaica.