Starting the new year cruising with friends

View from the ship as we cruised into open waters.

View from the ship as we cruised into open waters.

I love cruising!  So, what better way to start the new year than hopping on a ship with friends and taking a leisurely cruise around the Caribbean?

Today we are off with friends Bob and Sandy to board the Rhapsody of the seas for a seven-day cruise around the Western Caribbean.  We will visit ports in Honduras, Belize and Mexico.

I was up early to finish a few chores around the house before walking over to Bob and Sandy’s to take the two hour ride to Tampa. Randy and I  were excited as this was to be Bob and Sandy’s first cruise as Diamond members of the Crown and Anchor Society and we wanted to be there to help them celebrate.

The morning air was cold and wet as we made our way down the highway with an occasional sprinkle of rain dampening the the windshield.  But no matter, we were all happy and looking forward to a week of having fun.

I was surprised when we arrived at the terminal to see such long lines.  We were here just a few weeks ago and we glided through registration.  But with a smile on our faces and a whole lot of patience we got our key cards and boarded the ship.

First things first, we made our way up to the Windjammer Café for a bite of lunch.  Remember, we had were on the  Rhapsody during the holidays and knew our way around the ship so after lunch we took Bob and Sandy down to deck 6 to see where the Diamond Lounge was located.

How fun it was to watch them use their key cards to enter the lounge for the first time; a momentous occasion indeed!   We sat for a while then parted to get settled in our cabin before the safety drill.

I must say that I am growing very much accustomed to the junior suite size of cabin.  The cabin is spacious with a couch, coffee table, two hassocks, a comfortable bed a generous amount of storage space and a bathroom with a shower and very deep bathtub.  Can you imagine being able to take bubble baths on a cruise ship?  Trust me it is heaven.

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Celebrating new diamonds, Bob and Sandy, on the Rhapsody of the seas.

After the drill we made our way up to the diamond lounge and waited for Bob and Sandy to arrive.  Our lovely concierge JJ (Hajeong Shim) came by and we told her that Bob and Sandy were new diamonds and she exclaimed, “Newbies”.  We met JJ a few years ago while cruising on the Freedom of the seas. By far JJ is one of the most welcoming, friendly and funny Diamond concierges we have ever met so we were so glad that she would be the one welcoming Bob and Sandy as new diamond members.

Bob and Sandy arrived and, as we expected, JJ was just wonderful welcoming them.  After introductions she started to chant, “B O B, B O B” which made everyone laugh and laugh.  We spent the rest of our time drinking a little and chatting a little and before we knew it, it was time for dinner.

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We were very pleased to be seated at a table by a window.  We were also pleased that we had wonderful servers.  For some reason I was beyond hungry and ordered accordingly.  I had the fruit medley for my appetizer with pineapple, strawberries, watermelon, and kiwi; roast beef with baked potato and snow peas for dinner and a dish of Ice cream for dessert.  Everything was delicious.

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325px-sunshine_skyway_on_the_tampa_bayWhile cruising out of Tampa Bay we passed under the beautiful Sunshine Skyway Bridge.  The sun had set but I wanted to try and capture the image on my camera anyway.  Not easy to do after sundown and through sea salt streaked windows.  I remember so clearly crossing the bridge some years ago; it was beautiful.

Randy and I were very tired so we retired to our cabin for a good night’s sleep.  Bob and Sandy wanted to walk around the ship for awhile.  We made arrangements to meet for breakfast then went our separate ways.

Tomorrow we will be at sea.

Enjoy,

Mary

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Holiday cruising on the Rhapsody of the seas – day 7

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I always love the last full day on a cruise.  We will be slowly cruising towards home and the day is getting off to a good start with a sky that was a lovely shade of blue filled with puffy white clouds.  Standing on the balcony and looking skyward made me feel as though I was looking at a beautiful painting of nature at her best.

The last full day on cruise is always busy and fun.  We had a full day planned and needed to get started.  We made our way up to the concierge lounge to get a small continental breakfast of fresh fruit, pastries and coffee.

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Today we won two key chains, a tee shirt and one penny. Very funny.

We returned to the cabin to do some preliminary packing.  The next few hours found us at the casino playing our three free coins in the slots, doing a little shopping and choosing a few photo memories.

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That done we were off to attend the first of three events that would be the highlight of our day.  The first event was the Captain’s Corner.  This is a nice event where passengers are invited to a question and answer session with the captain and, at times, other senior staff.  The events are always informative and a very relaxed and intimate way to learn more about the captain, the ship and future plans for the cruise line.

Today Captain Malmberg was joined by the chief engineer, hotel director and environmental engineer on the stage. I thought all the questions were quite good.  Actually, several of the questions were ones that Randy had mentioned during the cruise.  The one question I most enjoyed being answered from each of the gentlemen was, “What led to become a captain?”  The captain answered that for him ships were always his passion.

Randy being silly!

Randy being silly!

By not it was time for lunch.  We decided to run up to the Solarium Café and pick up some lunch and return to the cabin.  We did not want one moment of this lovely day to be wasted.  All of a sudden Randy told me to look down at the water.  There gliding through the waves was a pod of bottlenose dolphins.  I grabbed my camera but all I could ever capture was a splash in the water after they had already jumped.  There we were like two little children hanging over the railing anxiously waiting to see if they would surface again and they did several times.  It was quite wonderful!!

Diamond Lounge

Diamond Lounge

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We decided to take another walk around the ship stopping at the Diamond Lounge, the Schooner Lounge, and Giovanni’s Table.  Two interesting pieces of machinery caught our eye as we explored these areas.

 

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The first piece of machinery we spied looked to be an engine of some kind perhaps a piece of a ship’s engine.  I found it interesting that was on display in a lounge.

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Giovanni's Table

Giovanni’s Table

The second piece of machinery we discovered was at the entrance to Giovanni’s Table. This beautiful piece of machinery was an Italian meat slicer.  The sign on the wall read: “This Bella Macchina will slice Prosciutto, Carpaccio, and Salami with a razor sharp precision, in cast aluminum and stainless steel maintaining the high quality and craftsmanship of traditional Italian meat slicers made in the early 1900’s to the late 1960’s”.

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On our way back to the elevators we heard a commotion emanating from the Centrum.  We walked over to the landing to see what was happening.  There was a bean bag toss or Baggo game being played.  I watched for a moment and wondered why members of the sports team had hard hats on until I realized that bean bags were being tossed from deck 5 and 6.  How funny is that!!!!!

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On our walk we discovered that a light lunch was available in the Diamond Lounge.  So, we decided to make a quick stop at the Concierge Lounge to see if they too offered a light lunch.  There were little sandwiches, fresh fruit, cheeses and vegetables.  Who knew?  We ran into Janet Mary and Jim.  They were spending their afternoon playing cards.  We stayed a while and chatted and then returned to the cabin to finish packing.

Before we knew it, it was time to prepare for the rest of our day.  No cocktails this evening.  Instead we would be attending a bridge tour event sponsored by the Crown & Anchor Society.  Randy has become very fond of these events and so off we went.

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img_8345Very rarely are we greeted by the captain and yet, there he was.  “How fun”, I thought to myself.  Captain Malmberg spent a few moments greeting everyone and introducing the officer who would be conducting the tour and then asked if anyone would like to have a photo opportunity.  While most people were listening to Tom explain the inter-workings of radar, etc., I was standing by the window looking beyond the bow as the ship moved through the beautiful blue waters below.  I do love being on the water.  Perhaps, just perhaps in a past life I was a seaman.

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Our wonderful server Maricel joined us for a last photo. Good, good group!

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The tour finished, it was time to join our tablemates for dinner.  This would be our last dinner with our wonderful tablemates.  We talked, shared our day’s activities, agreed that we had a great table and then shared contact information.  Randy and I hope to meet them again on another cruise.

Mr. James jumping rope while on a unicycle. Very funny!

Mr. James jumping rope while on a unicycle. Very funny!

The last event we planned to attend this evening was the Farewell Show featuring entertainer Michael James.

I just do not know how he was able to keep his balance...

I just do not know how he was able to keep his balance…

Mr. James was beyond funny as he performed many sight gags all the while talking to and away from the audience.  During his act he juggled, rode a unicycle and performed several tricks while standing on a ladder on stage.  The entire show was one you could not look or walk away from.  I laughed and laughed enjoying every moment he was on stage.

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img_8428Before the final farewell, cruise director Patricio entertained the audience with the top 10 funny questions he and other cruise directors had been asked over the years.  They were all so very funny.

The show over, we made our way back to the cabin to get a good night’s sleep.  As I laid my head down on the pillow I found myself reliving some of the wonderful memories from the past week.  I loved it all but especially all the holiday spirit we encountered on the ship and on shore.  The cruise was a perfect prelude to our Christmas festivities.

I loved this photo of the ship at night all lit up looking like a jewel floating on the sea.

I loved this photo of the ship at night all lit up looking like a jewel floating on the sea.

Tomorrow we disembark and return home.

I want to wish all my family, friends and readers a very Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah.  I wish everyone joy, peace and happiness over the holiday season!!

Enjoy,

Mary

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Holiday cruising on the Rhapsody of the seas – day 6

The Rhapsody of the seas

The Rhapsody of the seas

The moon was still high above the earth when we started our slow move towards the dock at the International Pier at Cozumel, Mexico.  I just had to get up and watch.  It always amazes me how these large ships glide so easily into the docks.

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I was really looking forward to today because it had been several years since we were in Cozumel during the holiday season and I had this wonderful memory of walking down the waterfront and seeing beautiful and colorful artwork of iguanas, birds and other interesting animals along the Waterfront Promenade.

And, today was going to be a beautiful day for a walk around town.  The blue sky was clear save a scattering of wispy clouds and the temperature was going to be a comfortable 83.

Once we had our first cup of coffee for the day, we made our way to the dining room for a quick breakfast before preparing to go ashore.  We have docked at the International Pier in the past and have walked the 3 ½ miles several times.  However, this trip we would be taking a cab or shuttle as I am still plagued with leg problem.

Having fun cooking with friends Barry and Lana on the Salsa and Salsa tour

Having fun cooking with friends Barry and Lana on the Salsa and Salsa tour

 

We have visited Cozumel many times over the years and have taken several shore excursions.  Without a doubt my favorite will always be the Salsa and Salsa excursion we took with friends Lana and Barry in 2012.

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Learning to make Mexican chocolate 2015

Learning to make Mexican chocolate 2015

Next two favorites would be our visit to Discover Mexico once for a tequila experience and then a chocolate experience.  Both experiences were informative, fun and delicious.

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This trip we decided to take a leisurely walk around town and do one of our favorite things; have lunch at a new restaurant.  To-date we have never eaten at the same restaurant twice opting instead to discover new places to indulge our love of Mexican food.

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img_8245The shuttle dropped us off in the middle of San Miguel and we started our slow walk passing many shops filled with jewelry, cigars, souvenirs and many, many restaurants.  There were many hawkers standing outside the shops beckoning us to come in and see what the store had to offer.  They are always very polite when you respond, “No gracias”.  Of course, every once in a while we will meander inside a shop or two looking for little treasure to take home.  We have always found the people of San Miguel to be very welcoming and friendly.

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February 2015

dsc00200I was a little disappointed when I did not see the waterfront adorned with the beautiful artwork that I remembered.  I stopped in one storefront and ask a very nice gentleman if they would be on display during the holidays.  He smiled at me and said, “It is too early.  They put them up during Carnaval”.   As soon as he said that I remembered that I saw them on a visit here in the month of February in 2012.  I was a little disappointed but knew I would be back sometime in the future during February and would see them again.

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We continued our walk and saw beautiful Christmas trees and nativity scenes along our walk.

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We finally reached our destination for the day; Pancho’s Backyard.  Pancho’s is one of the restaurants listed in the Cruise Compass as a place to visit while in port.  To get to Pancho’s you had walk through a building called Los Cinco Soles.  This building was once warehouse that has been through several transformations.  At one time a hotel then an apartment building until its final transformation a beautiful shop and restaurant.

We were seated and given a menu.  According to the information included in the menu, “The new Los Cinco Soles opened in January 1990 and Pancho’s Backyard a few months later”.

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We walked through the store admiring the many beautiful handicrafts, jewelry, pottery, food and souvenirs eventually making our way to the entrance to Pancho’s.  There was a small section of Pancho’s indoors but the main restaurant is located in a lovely open garden.

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The setting was quite lovely as was the furniture and decorations.  There were umbrella tables in the open garden, tables inside and a lovely section of overstuffed couches I am sure would be lovely a lovely area for cocktail time.

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img_8238It was early and we were not quite hungry so we settled on a plate of chicken nachos and, of course, margaritas.  I ordered the traditional margarita while Randy chose a mango margarita.  Let me tell you about this margarita; it was strong and delicious. I had to sip this drink very slowly.

While we were enjoying our lunch a husband-wife duo set up a xylophone and played a variety of Christmas and traditional music. I just loved everything about Pancho’s Backyard.  The setting was lovely, the food was delicious, the margaritas were wonderful and the music pleasant.  This was definitely a good way to spend our day in Cozumel.

Lovely tiled wall on the outside patio

Lovely tiled wall on the outside patio

We were enjoying our afternoon when two couples came into the restaurant.  They seemed very familiar with the staff and reminded everyone that they had been coming to Pancho’s Backyard for 20 years and were so glad to be back.  We also met a very nice couple from Texas at the next table and enjoyed a conversation of their many visits to Cozumel.

After lunch we walked back to the center of town to catch a cab back to the pier.  We stopped at Diamonds International to pick up our free charms.  While there we spent a few minutes admiring several watches and then moved on.

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While in the jewelry store we received a message from our friends Dennis and Connie.  Dennis and Connie were also on a cruise and docked at the International Pier.  They were at Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville at the port and said they would wait for us to come by.   We hurried over and had a nice visit before we all had to return to our respective ships.

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From left-Mary, Randy, Mary, Wayne, Mary Gail, Mike, Janet Mary and Jim. Great group of tablemates!!

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A took a short rest after we returned to the ship then prepared for the evening.  Cocktails and dinner were wonderful again.  While enjoying our dinner everyone agreed that we had a great table.

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White chocolate souffle

 

I was a bit hungry tonight so chose the Roasted Peach Soup for an appetizer and the Thai Chicken Breast with mild red curry, edamame and shitake sauce, bok choy and steamed rice.  The dinner was filling and delicious.

 

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This was the winning couple.. They were replicating the dance from the movie Dirty Dancing when “Baby” (Jennifer Grey) run into the arms of Johnny (Patrick Swayze).

 

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Our only plan for the evening was to attend the “Dancing with the Superstars” competition.  Six members of the crew were paired with six volunteers among the passengers and competed for honors after dancing to several different styles of music.

I laughed so hard when I watched this very interesting, funny competition that my sides hurt.  There were truly only two out of the twelve competitors that actually danced to the music.  The rest was made up mayhem.  There were three judges who narrowed down the competition to three couples.  By the time they got to the last two, the audience was given the privilege of choosing the winners.  The whole competition was beyond funny to watch.  I was glad we stopped to watch.

Tired, we returned to the cabin for a little relaxation before retiring for the evening.

Tomorrow is our last day and we will be at sea.

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Mary

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Holiday cruising on the Rhapsody of the seas – day 5

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Today we docked in Costa Maya, Mexico.  It has been several years since we were here and we were anxious to see changes that had been made.  The air was warm although a bit humid, the sky was a little cloudy and it was already in the 80s.  It is going to be a very good day!

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Costa Maya Adventure Park

As soon as I stepped out onto the balcony I was amazed at just how much the port area had changed.  The first thing I saw was a large Mayan temple structure high above the vegetation with several smaller structures just behind and to the left of the port area.  I learned later in the day that it is the Costa Maya Adventure Park.

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I also noticed that the Norwegian Jade and the Holland America Oosterdam ships were tied up to the dock.  “It is going to be a very busy port today,” I thought to myself.

Edelweiss Restaurant

Edelweiss Restaurant

We decided to have breakfast in the dining room and spent most of our time reminiscing about past visits to Costa Maya.  I had a great pancake breakfast.

View of the beach in 2008

View of the beach in 2008

Bob, Sandy, Mary and Randy enjoying a day at the beach in Costa Maya

Bob, Sandy, Mary and Randy enjoying a day at the beach in Costa Maya

We first visited Costa Maya in 2008 with friends Bob and Sandy.  The year before the area had been hit by Hurricane Dean in 2007 and we heard that much of the area had been hit hard.  We took transportation down to the small fishing village of Majahual and were struck by just how much damage was still visible.  Trees had been stripped of their leaves and bark, most of the town had been damaged with multi-level building missing their top floors, a great deal of the beach was gone.  It was terrible.However, after walking down the street for a while we were able to find a small restaurant with umbrella tables on the beach and enjoyed buckets of beer and nachos.

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On a visit in 2012 we took a tour to the Kohunlich Mayan Ruins.  They were amazing.  But over the last few years we have stayed at the port enjoying the large pool in the center and having great lunches at Señor Frogs and Carlos and Charlie’s.  This visit we decided to go back down to Mujahual to see how it had recovered first hand.

But first, we stopped at Diamonds International to pick up our free charms.  While there I could not help myself and walked over to the Crown of Light diamond case to see one more time a bracelet I had fallen in love with the last time we were in Cozumel.  It was a beautiful as I remembered.  We lingered a little but finally moved away and continued our walk to the place to catch a shuttle down to the beach.

I remember when we took this ride so long ago and feeling very sad at seeing all the trees stripped of all its leaves and bark.  It was so good to see that all the lush vegetation had returned as we drove along for the 10 minute ride to the beach.

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Once we walked a few steps up to the little town we were so happy to see that the little town, not only had come back, but seemed to be thriving.  We strolled down the walk looking this way and that way at all the shops, restaurants and people hawking snorkeling, paddle boat rides and beach chairs for rent.

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One very enterprising gentleman caught our attention outside a restaurant called the Krazy Lobster.  We listened to his spiel and then assured him that we would return after our walk.  We walked for quite a while finally coming to the end of town.  We turned and made our way back to the Krazy Lobster.

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What a great stop!!  We were shown to a small table under a grass umbrella near the beach and, because we returned, were each given a small free Margarita.  We took a few moments to look over the menu and settled on a bucket of beer and an order of plain nachos.

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img_8105bThe plains nachos come with cheese, black bean puree, pico de gallo, and jalapeños.  The beer was cold and the nachos delicious.  But the best part of the afternoon was the enjoying the view, enjoying the gentle breeze crossing the beach and enjoying just kicking back and watching the world going by.

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We made our way back to the port and walked around a little then returned to the ship.

Just one of the many tapestries called "Rhapsody in Blue" by Norwegian artist Ase Froyshov

Just one of the many tapestries called “Rhapsody in Blue” by Norwegian artist Ase Froyshov

While Randy was relaxing on the balcony I took a little walk down the aft staircase to look at some tapestries that had caught my attention over the week.

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The pieces are called “Rhapsody in Blue” by Norwegian artist Ase Froyshov.  There were pieces of this tapestry on every floor and in some cases more than one at a level.  I found them to be whimsical.  The accompanying plaque read: “Froyshov created this work after an inspiring journey she made along the coast of Norway.  She used the rhythms of music and the vast range of sea and sky blues that she encountered during her voyage to mould her tapestry.  Whence the title of her series: Rhapsody in Blue.

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By the time I returned to the cabin it was time to prepare for the evening.  Cocktails, as always, were fun enjoying a Lemon Drop drink and a few appetizers.  I was not very hungry so chose a wonderful berry soup and img_8141bbeef sliders for dinner.

 

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Once again we had to get going as soon as dinner was complete.  Tonight was the Holiday Parade of Flags in the Centrum.  I have seen this parade on other ships and always enjoy the spectacle. We were fortunate to find seats and eventually when Wayne and Mary joined us.

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It is always amazing to learn just how many countries and cultures are represented by the crew of a ship.  At any given time the staff and crew of a ship will be from 50-60 countries.  Our cruise director Patricio called out the number of crew and staff represented each country.  Every once in a while representatives of a country would come to the center of the Centrum waving their flag and performing a dance.

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Just when we thought the event was over three trumpeters blew their horns heralding the arrival of Santa.  It only took me a minute to be out of my chair with camera in hand looking to have my picture taken with Santa.  I loved it!!!

It had been a very busy and fun day but it was time to return to the cabin for a little relaxation before turning in for a good night’s sleep.

Tomorrow we dock at Cozumel, Mexico.

img_8190bEnjoy,

Mary

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Holiday cruising on the Rhapsody of the seas – day 4

The Solarium Pool

The Solarium Pool

I was very excited when we rose this morning because we were going to be visiting one of our very favorite restaurants in the Caribbean, the Wet Lizard in Belize.

Carnival Splendor arriving at Belize 7:45 AM

Carnival Splendor arriving at Belize 7:45 AM

The morning started off warm with partly cloudy skies and the promise of temperatures rising into the mid-80s.  I stepped out onto the balcony and watched as the Carnival Splendor was making its way to port.

I enjoyed the French toast, very crisp bacon and maple syrup.

I enjoyed the French toast, very crisp bacon and maple syrup.

We docked early in the morning but since we only wanted to get off to have lunch we decided to enjoy a nice breakfast in the dining room and then return to the cabin so Randy could catch up on his email.

We visited the Alta Hun Mayan Ruins with friends in 2012.

We visited the Alta Hun Mayan Ruins with friends in 2012.

dsc00089Like so many Caribbean islands there are so many activities to participate in.  There is cave tubing, scuba diving, touring the rain forest and visiting the beautiful Mayan ruins.

We have been to Belize so many times that on one visit a tour guide on a boat we were traveling on to a private island beach told us that if we came here five times we would be citizens.  So, I guess we are citizens.  On these visits we have rented a cab to take a rather scary tour of the city and outskirts and visited Mayan ruins.

At the Wet Lizard in with our family in 2009

At the Wet Lizard in with our family in 2009 – From left-Randy, Kevin, Kristine, Jennifer and granddaughter Madalyn

Back at the Wet Lizard with friends in 2013

Back at the Wet Lizard with friends in 2013

 

 

But, no matter what we choose to do while onshore we always stop at The Wet Lizard restaurant to enjoy their absolutely delicious cucumber salsa and bottles of cold local beer.

 

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We all signed one chair. Fun!

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One of the really fun things to do at The Wet Lizard is make your mark that you visited.  The grandchildren thought that was great run.  One year I made sure that the Delicious Divas  left a mark.  Each time we return we look for our names and leave them again.

 

 

 

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By 10am the skies had become thick with dark clouds and a steady rain started to fall.  We made the decision to spend the morning relaxing at the Solarium Pool until the skies cleared.

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img_8068bThe pool area is done in an Egyptian motif with plain columns etched/painted with hieroglyphs.  The pool and pool area are large and include a bar and café.  One unique aspect of this area is the retractable roof that can open during sunny days and close on raining days.  It never opened on this trip but we did see the roof open on a cruise we took on the Jewel of the seas.

Once settled I opened my book and just relaxed.  At one point the sun popped out of the clouds and we were heartened that we would indeed make it ashore.  It was not to be.  Ultimately, we resolved to stay on the ship and have a nice lunch at the Windjammer Café.   I had a lovely lunch of creamed chicken with vegetables, sliced tomatoes, carrots and mashed potatoes.  The dinner was very nice and very filling.

The afternoon passed slowly with me looking longingly at the sky to see if the sun would come out; it was not to be.

The air inside the Solarium was warm and inviting.  I noticed that no one was going into the water and decided to walk over and to the pool steps and lowered my toes into the water and was pleased that the water seemed warm.  “I will definitely go swimming once I finish my book,” I said to Randy.  As it turned out however, I was so close to finishing my book that I never left my chair unable to put it down.

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It was time to return to the cabin to prepare for the evening.  But first, I stepped onto the balcony and was surprised to see the Carnival ship almost totally hidden by a thick fog.

By the time we settled into our seats at the dining table I was not very hungry so I chose a cold soup and simple salad for dinner.   The dominant conversation during the cocktail hour and dinner hour was how soaked people had gotten returning to the ship on the tenders.

After hearing about the trials and tribulations some of our tablemates had on shore I was very glad we had remained on the ship.  Wayne and Mary had a very scary experience.  They had signed up for a river cruise.  They were in a group of about 30 in a small aluminum boat with no cover when the skies opened up.  Everyone was given a poncho to wear but the rain was so hard it did not help.  Then the sky turned even angrier with lightning strikes all around the boat.  They both recalled that it was very scary indeed.

Mike and Mary Gail faired a little better.  They were on a tour of the Alta Hun Mayan ruins but faired a little better.  Mike said they managed to be on a bus or inside a building during most of the rain and lightning.

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img_8080bWe ate our dinner quickly as we had been invited to a Crown & Anchor Reception at the Shall We Dance Lounge.  While we were standing in line a photographer asked if we would like to have our picture taken with the captain.  “You can never have too many pictures with the captain,” I replied and struck a pose.

I always like these events.  The captain and several other members of the executive staff say a few words and give everyone a heads-up on future plans for the Royal Caribbean fleet of ships.  The event usually ends with members of the Crown & Anchor Society being recognized and rewarded for their loyalty to the Royal Caribbean cruise line.  Several people were recognized with one woman having accumulating over 2,000 nights.  When I heard the number I was blown away.  At this point Randy and I have accumulated 298.  We have a long way to go.

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After the presentations we were treated to a performance of several numbers by entertainer Jimmy Hopper who has been described by one critic as, “Freddie Mercury meets Andres Bocelli”.  He did have a beautiful voice.

Well, today had been an interesting day.  We returned to the cabin to relax and prepare for our next port-of-call.

Tomorrow we arrive at Costa Maya, Mexico.

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Mary

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Holiday cruising on the Rhapsody of the seas – day 3

Tabyana Beach

Tabyana Beach

img_7979We woke up this morning very early anticipating stepping out onto the balcony to a warm, sunny morning.  However, the first thing I saw was an island far in the distance shrouded in a fine mist making it almost invisible.  “Not to worry,” I thought the prediction for the day is temperatures in the 80’s and partly cloudy skies.

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Breakfast was easy decision today.  Last evening we received a lovely plate of fresh cut pineapple, watermelon, cantaloupe and honeydew melon from the Crown & Anchor Society all we needed was piping hot cups of café lattes.  Randy went up to the lounge and returned with two cups of our favorite coffee.  The fruit was ripe, sweet and wonderfully delicious.

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Today we are docking at the port of Coxen Hole, Roátan, Honduras.  We have been here several times over the years on our and with family and friends.  We have always enjoyed our day in Roatan very much.

While here in the past we visited Bananarama Beach with the family, Tabyana Beach with friends and the Maya Key Private Island Resort on our own; all the visits were great fun.

I had asked Randy what he wanted to do this time while on shore and he said, “I would really like to return to Tabyana Beach.  I can still remember the wonderful barbeque lunch we had there and would love to have that again”.

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So, as soon as the ship docked we lined up on the pier to participate in a shore excursion called Tabyana Beach Break.  Tabyana is a private beach of white sand, lovely turquoise waters, snorkeling, plenty of beach chairs, plenty of palm trees and, of course, a delicious barbeque lunch.

The ride to the beach is interesting to say the least.  I have never seen so many potholes in my life.  Our guide said not to worry because our driver had a PhD (Pot hole driver) which made everyone laugh.img_7977

By the time we reached the beach the sky was filled with thick, dark clouds and we were greeted with spits of rain as we walked to the beach.  We secured two beach chairs under a small palm tree and watched as several groups set off on a snorkeling tour.  I watched as they entered the water and based on their reactions knew the water was cold to the touch.  I walked over to the shoreline and stepped into the surf and learned for myself why they were making faces.

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We spent our time reading and watching the activity on the beach.  At one point Randy took a stroll down the beach to see if Bananarama Beach had changed since we were here last.  It had not; it was still very nice.

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Lunch time rolled around and we made our way up to the buffet.  It is a very nice area.  The buffet is under roof, there is a lovely sitting area in the open and a bar.  We were treated to music as we ate our lunch.

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The lunch was just as we remembered, delicious.  There was barbeque chicken, rice and red beans, coleslaw, hamburgers, hot dogs and lovely fresh fruit.  There was watermelon, papaya, pineapple and cantaloupe.  The first time we came here I asked the ladies serving the food if I could get the recipe for the barbeque chicken.  They looked at each other and then back at me and with a sweet smile said, “No”.  Oh well, it was worth a try.

 

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The bus took us back to the port and we spent some time walking through some of the shops, taking pictures by the Christmas tree and stopping at the Monkey La-La Snack Bar for a cold beer.  The snack bar extends over the water and we could see many, many small colorful fish swimming img_7999baround.

 

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We returned to our cabin to see a plate of small, sweet treats waiting for us.  We dropped our beach things, went out to the balcony and enjoyed our treat as we watched passengers slowly make their way back to the ship.

Bosc Pear salad with mixed greens and walnuts. Yummy!

Bosc Pear salad with mixed greens and walnuts. Yummy!

Cherries Jubliee

Cherries Jubliee

All too soon it was time to prepare for the evening.  We made our way up to the lounge for cocktails then down to the dining room for dinner.  After eating the wonderful barbeque lunch at the beach I was not very hungry and decided to order a small salad and dessert for dinner.  Both choices were delicious.

 

Standing-Wayne, Mary Gail, Mike, Jim and Janet Mary. Sitting-Mary, Me and Randy

Standing-Wayne, Mary Gail, Mike, Jim and Janet Mary.
Sitting-Mary, Me and Randy

Once again we had a great time with our tablemates sharing our experiences both on the ship and on shore.

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After the conga line wound its way around the Centrum they came together in a very tight circle. Funny!

After the conga line wound its way around the Centrum they came together in a very tight circle. Funny!

After dinner, Randy and I had decided to go to see the evening’s entertainment in the theater but as we walked past the Centrum our attention was pulled to see just what was happening.  We were up on deck 6 and had to look down.  I started to laugh out loud when I spotted a gentleman with a two-day growth on his face dressed in a pink polka dot dress, white patented leather heels and two huge balloons in the bodice of the dress.  Well, that is all it took.  We stood there for the next hour watching a game called Battle of the Sexes and laughed and laughed.

The women won the conga line challenge!

The women won the conga line challenge!

The men won on points for the game but the women won the most women to participate in the conga line.  Very funny!!

By now fatigue had set in and we decided to return to the cabin for a quiet evening.

Tomorrow we our port-of-call is Belize City, Belize.

img_8059bEnjoy,

Mary

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Holiday cruising on the Rhapsody of the seas – day 2

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I was laying bed in that state of not quite awake when I heard Randy open the balcony door.  He stepped out for a few moments and when he came back in he said, “The Sea is angry today”.

I rose and grabbed my camera, stepped out onto the balcony and was greeted by warm air, a sky heavy with dark clouds and a rolling sea with 3 to 5’ swells.

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We sat on the balcony for a while watching the sun trying to break free of the cloud cover.  As we watched rays of sunshine shone down on the water making it glisten.  Watching the sun rise and set always fills me an incredible sense of joy and happiness.

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We turned our attention to going up to the concierge lounge for cups of hot coffee and a lovely continental breakfast of fresh fruit, cheeses and pastries.  Randy was hungry for some bacon so we made our way up to the Windjammer Café to get some.

 

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While I waited for Randy, I took a bit of time to look over a beautiful model ship in a glass case outside the café.  The model was amazing.  There was so much detail.  “Incredible,” I thought to myself.

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On our way back to the elevator we noticed that beautiful, fresh poinsettias had been placed at all the landings.  “How beautiful,” I thought.

Today we are at sea.  There were many wonderful activities listed in the Cruise Compass to help us pass the time but we decided to just wander about the ship and spend time on our balcony enjoying the view.

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We returned to Centrum and noticed that it too had been decorated with beautiful poinsettias.  We spent a few moments speaking to Diane, the Crown and Anchor Loyalty Ambassador, walked around the Centrum shops and stopped by the shore excursion desk to purchase tickets to Tabyana Beach in Roatan.

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The shops were very nicely situated along a curved hallway on deck 6.  We stopped in each shopped looking at all the merchandise.  We did not purchase anything; today was not a buying day.

 

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We then made our way up to the theatre.  I had spotted two pieces of artwork outside the doors to the Melodies Theater that I admired and wanted to know more about it.  I read that the pieces were created by French artist Marc Berlet.  Both pieces of artwork are painted metal and wood.  I found both pieces to be quite beautiful!

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The accompanying plaque read: “Berlet is at ease and fluently conversant with the artistic language of the 20th Century.  He has grasped what it has to say and see his art as an eloquent account.  The outstanding characteristics of Berlet’s work are wit and style, verve, virility and the good cheer of fine craftsmanship.  He is a diligent seeker of visual diversion and both by form and by colour shows how handily it can be made tangible”.

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I loved the colors of the grass and sea glass and stones and other earthy materials the grass was planted in. Delicate and lovely.

On our way back to the cabin I stopped by another piece of artwork that caught my eye on the first day on board.   I loved the way the light shone through the sea grasses.

“Wild Grasses” was created by American artists David and Robin Bellantone.  The accompanying plaque read: “David and Robin Bellantone are artists/designers who often incorporate glass, metal, light and colour in their site specific artworks.  They live close to the sea and so their art is influenced by the patterns of nature, the intersection of art and technology, global cultures and the spirit world.  Their art and creativity draws inspiration from many sources, and ranges from large scale sculptural installations to lighting design, limited editions and beadwork.  Their multimedia interactive exhibit on the Golden Age of Islam was a recent gift to the people of New Hampshire from Prince Sultan Ibn Saud of Saudi Arabia, in memory of astronaut and teacher Christa McAuliffe”.

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By the time we returned to the cabin it was already past noon and the skies had cleared to a beautiful pastel blue.  The air had a decided chill and there was a slight breeze blowing but we made ourselves comfortable on the balcony me with my new Christmas book, “Christmas in Paris” and Randy with one of his favorite magazines.

The afternoon just flew by and it was time to prepare for cocktails and dinner.  Tonight was formal so I needed a little extra time to prepare.

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We managed to arrive at our dinner table on time this evening.  A funny thing about our table is that all the women were named or called Mary.  We all found this to be very amusing.  Our tablemates were Mary and Wayne, Mary Gail and Michael and Janet Mary and Jim.  We enjoyed everyone at our table.  The conversation was interesting, the smiles generous and the laughter loud.  Great fun!

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We ate quickly as tonight was the Captain’s Welcome-Aboard Reception and picture opportunity.  We always have our pictures taken with the captain on a ship we are cruising the first time.  We found Captain Johan Malmberg to be very personable and funny.

The show was not until 10pm and Randy was tired so we retired to our cabin to relax and get a good night’s sleep.

Tomorrow we arrive at our first port-of-call, Roatan, Honduras.

Enjoy,

Mary

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