Enjoying the companionship of friends, cold beer and delicious food on Cozumel

Pulling into port

Is there anything better than having a cold one and breaking bread with family and friends?  I love sharing time with friends and I especially love sharing my favorite places with them that we have found during our travels.

On the ninth day of our Caribbean cruise we docked in Cozumel, Mexico and had plans to share a favorite restaurant with our friends Ron and Connie.

We made arrangements to meet Ron and Connie on the pier at 10 AM so we were up early, enjoyed a light breakfast in the Concierge Lounge and prepared to meet them on the pier.  We stopped by the little tent area just a few steps from the ship and waited.  And then, we waited some more.  Finally, we decided to walk down to the end of the pier just before arriving at the port area.

We ran into Sharon who told us that Ron and Connie had been waiting and finally gave up and walked up to the shopping mall.  Sharon said that if we hurried we would probably catch up to them.  Sharon had already been shopping and was returning to the ship.

We caught up to Ron and Connie and had a few laughs about the mix-up about where to meet and talked about where to go.  We were in a pickle as the ship docked at the downtown pier instead of the International Pier.  Our original plans were to go the Harley Davidson store to pick up tee shirts for Ron’s son and then go to a new restaurant near the International Pier Randy and I had discovered on our last stop at Cozumel.

After a bit of conversation, we decided to walk around the downtown, stop for a cold beer and stop along the way for lunch.  Randy wanted to go to Toro’s but I wanted to take Ron and Connie to Pancho’s Backyard.  I won.

We walked along until Ron said he was thirsty and wanted to stop for a cold brew.  We stopped at a very small restaurant called Mar y Juana with outside seating and ordered one of our favorite Caribbean beers, Sol!  The restaurant is colorful, the waiters very friendly and the beer very cold.  It was a pleasant place to just sit back watching the world go.

We continued our walk down the street periodically looking into the many shops along the way.  It has become a little obvious that more and more stores have made the decision to move down near the International Pier.  That concerns me a little as we enjoy visiting San Miguel and would hate to see more businesses move away.

We finally made it to Pancho’s Backyard and to my pleasure Ron and Connie were pleased with the choice.  Pancho’s is an open courtyard, is colorful and comfortable with a variety of seating and table arrangements.

Chicken Enchiladas Verde

Pancho’s Chicken Fajitas Especiales

Taquitos de Pollo

We all chose different dishes from the menu and all were delicious! Randy ordered the Taquitos de Pollo – eight golden crisp miniature chicken tacos with a center scoop of guacamole.  Ron and Connie ordered Pancho’s Fajitas Especiales.  I ordered the Enchiladas Verdes – with corn tortillas, shredded chicken breast, tangy tomatillo sauce, sour cream, beans and fresh salsa Mexicana.  Everyone at the table said their dish was absolutely delicious!

While we enjoyed our food we were entertained by a husband and wife team playing a variety of tunes on a xylophone.  Every once in a while the dining room would erupt in singing and clapping.  Pancho’s is definitely a very nice experience.  This was our second time and we will definitely go back again.

After our wonderful lunch we struck out again only this time in the direction of the pier.  We walked along and I caught sight of something I had never seen s since coming to Cozumel.  The copper sculpture that represents what Cozumel is famous for; its scuba diving and coral reefs, was alive with water falling into the starfish-shaped fountain.

Saw this outside a cigar store and could not resist to stop. Funny!

 

On all our other visits the fountain had been drained and the not running.  I had to stop and check it out.  “How beautiful”, I thought.  Ron wanted to catch a cab and make a run to the Harley Davidson store before returning to the ship so we parted ways.

The sky had been threatening all day and as we walked along it started to rain.  We actually considered stopping and enjoying another beer while waiting out the rain but came to the conclusion that we would not melt and proceeded to the pier and boarded the ship.

 

By the time we made it back to the cabin we only had a short time to freshen up, stop at the lounge for a cocktail and make our dinner reservation at Giovanni’s Table.  I love Giovanni’s.  The atmosphere is simple, warm, inviting and the service is always wonderful.

Then there is the food! We started our meal with the Caprese salad for two.  Vine ripened tomatoes topped with crisp greens and bocconcini mozzarella balls.  With just a little of pesto and balsamic vinaigrette the dish was delicious and filling.

For our main dish we both chose the 8 ounce grilled beef tenderloin, served with garlic fries and the Barolo reduction .

The steak was cooked to perfection and so tasty.  The fries were deliciously crunchy on the outside while soft inside.  I loved dipping my fries into the reduction!  By the time we finished I wondered out loud if I would be able to eat dessert.

Well, the question did not linger long when our server brought the dessert tray around.  Randy loves the tiramisu and ordered some.  He also ordered a small cannoli.   Me, I wanted dessert but did not want to walk away from the table feeling stuffed.  I chose a mini dessert called Crema all’ Amarena.  This creamy custard dessert had delicious black  cherries on the bottom and was just the perfect size.

It had been a fun and full day.  We went up to the Diamond Lounge for a nightcap and then returned to our cabin for a relaxing evening.

View of the sun setting behind Cozumel as we slowly cruised away from the island.

Tomorrow is our last day at sea before returning home.

 

 

Enjoy,

Mary

Posted in beer, cruises, cruising, Food, Mexican food, restaurants, travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Lovely, lazy day at sea

It was just a week ago today that I happily posted the next adventure of our back-to-back cruises to the Caribbean on the Brilliance of the seas when out of nowhere I was felled by, first the flu bug and then a bout with bronchitis that has kept me from making any effort at sitting for too long much less in front of a keyboard.

After a week of fever, chills, aches, pains and a cough that left every muscle in my chest in agony, I believe I am finally on the mend.  So, I will now finish sharing the last three days of our wonderful cruise.

Day eight of our cruise was a day spent at sea.  We slept in that morning and as a consequence missed a beautiful sunrise.  By the time I stepped out onto the balcony, the sun had already popped above the horizon and was ablaze with color that cast a golden light across the waters.

We had received a message from our friends Ron and Connie telling us that they would be heading up to the Windjammer Café for breakfast.  We dressed quickly and found them sitting back by the buffet stations.

And there we sat for almost two hours just talking and having fun.  Ron and Randy talked about motorcycles and motorcycle trips and Connie and I talked about their dog Ted and about our respective families.

We had an event to attend mid-morning so we parted ways but not until we made arrangements to meet later in the day for cocktails at the Schooner Lounge.

We returned to our cabin to freshen up then went up to deck 13 to meet our group.  The Next Cruise staff had arranged a VIP Exclusive Suite Event Tour and we were anxious to see which suite (s) they had chosen.

We gathered in the concierge lounge and learned that there were no suites available this cruise and that we would be attending a power point presentation instead.  We were all a little disappointed but the draw of champagne and a raffle helped us make an attitude adjustment.

The presentation was very interesting.  We listened intently as they showed the floor plans of each class of suite available.  There are three classes of suites; Star, Sky and Sea.  The sea class is made up of junior suites.  The Next Cruise representative did a very nice job of explaining the differences between the suite classes as well as the perks available to each.

Some of these suites are beyond amazing and quite beautiful.  Some of the suites actually come with the availability of a personal “Genie” (butler) whose only job is to make sure you have all your wishes and desires taken care of while on the ship.

For the last few years suites have been a big push for the cruise line and I must admit the suites and the perks that go with them are quite tantalizing but I have not reached that level of travel yet.  Although we have enjoyed many cruises using the junior suite cabins.  They are very spacious and come with upgraded amenities.

From there we returned to our cabin to take advantage of our lovely, large balcony reading, eating a light lunch and enjoying a plate of sweets from the culinary staff.

 

From left: Randy, Mary, Sharon, Don, Ron and Connie

Before we knew it, it was time to dress to meet our friends at the Schooner Lounge for cocktails.  We met Ron and Connie and their friends Don and Sharon and had a fun hour talking about our experiences on the ship and what are plans were for Cozumel.  Don and Sharon were celebrating their anniversary.

Mike, Rebecca, Randy and Mary. (Monroe and Martha has to leave before the photographer arrived).

The dinner hour had arrived and we all headed for the dining room.  But, before parted we, we agreed to meet in the morning on the pier and do a little shopping and have a nice lunch along the water.

As always we had a great time at dinner with our table mates.  It was formal night so one of my very favorite dinners was on the menu; carved tenderloins of beef, with Morel-crimini mushroom sauce, creamy mashed potatoes and asparagus.  This lovely dinner was yummy as always.

The evening entertainment featured the comedy of Mario and Daniel.  We had seen their comedy routine last week, and while we enjoyed them very much, decided to go up to the Diamond Lounge for a cocktail.  I could see that the sunset was going to be very colorful so I left Randy and ran down to deck 12.   While I waited a storm could be seen to my right moving towards the ship at a rapid rate.

Fortunately, I was able to capture a beautiful picture of the sun setting before I had to retreat under the overhang and the sun consumed by dark clouds.

I returned to the Diamond Lounge where Randy and I spent a bit of time enjoying  a nightcap and talking with Diamond Lounge concierge, Rafael.  He is quite engaging and very funny.

We returned to our cabin and just leaned over the railing enjoying the warm night air and watching the moon moving in and out of the dark, dark clouds.  It had been a lovely, quiet day of kicking back, being with friends and enjoying some really good food.  Life is so very good!

View from our wonderful balcony!!!

Tomorrow we dock in Cozumel, Mexico.

Enjoy,

Mary

Posted in cruises, cruising, travel, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

A wonderful day spent in one of our bucket list destinations: Key West, Florida

As we were walking back to the ship we noticed this written on the sidewalk. It was written by Key West artist Fran Decker. Lovely!

What can I possibly tell you about our wonderful visit to Key West?  Should I talk about the colors of the waters past the shoreline, the colorful history of this beautiful city, the lush foliage we saw embracing so many beautiful homes, the many notables who graced the city with their presence or the fun one could have stopping in one of the many restaurants and bars along Duval Street?  I will try to share some of my memories and hope they will paint a picture in your mind of what we saw and heard.

As soon as I stepped out onto the balcony this morning I knew it was going to be a wonderful day.  The sun had already risen painting the sky with little puffy clouds highlighted with tinges of yellow from the rays of the sun and the air was nice and warm.

We were in no hurry today because the ship would not be arriving in port until late morning.  We ordered room service so we could enjoy the morning on our balcony.  We enjoyed a light breakfast of cold cereal, fresh fruit, orange juice and coffee.

But the best part of breakfast was watching the deep sapphire blue sea water transform into a bright royal blue and then a cool turquoise green as we came closer and closer to the port.

After we ate breakfast, we made our way up to meet our friends Ron and Connie in the Windjammer Cafe and had a wonderful time catching up and talking about getting together during the cruise.

Our only plans on shore was find a bar we had enjoyed a raucous afternoon in fifteen years ago, stop by the southernmost point in the continental US and take a walk down Duval Street.

With that in mind and map in hand we started our walk into town.  The first sight that caught our eyes was a 25’ bronze sculpture called “Embracing Peace” by Seward Johnson.  We did not need an explanation of what we were looking at.  The sculpture depicts a famous scene in New York’s Time Square captured by photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt in 1945 after the Japanese surrender in WW II.  It was hard to get a photo of the sculpture as everyone who entered the area wanted to be photographed under this impressive piece of artwork.

As we walked along we spotted a tiny lime-colored building boasting to be the ‘Original’ Key Lime Bakery.  We made a note to return and sample the pie.

While walking along we realized that there was so much to see and we had a limited time in port so we decided to catch the Conch Tour Train that would drive us around town with while giving a running commentary from one of their expert ‘engineers’.  We walked over to Mallory Square and bought a ticket.

The tour lasted 90 minutes and I was amazed at the knowledge of the engineer as she regaled us with a running history of the “Conch Republic”, the many notables like Ernest Hemingway, Harry Truman, Tennessee Williams, John James Audubon, Robert Frost and others who have lived here contributing to the cities long and sometimes troubled history.

We drove by Harry Truman’s Little White House, the Audubon house, Sloppy Joe’s,  the Mel Fisher Maritime Heritage Society, St. Peter’s Church, City Cemetery, Hemingway’s house, Lighthouse Museum, Flagler Station, Casa Marina Hotel, the Southernmost Point and so much more.  It was a little hard to capture all these wonderful sites as the train had to keep up with traffic but they are emblazoned on our memories.

Our guide made the tour interesting playing snippets of songs and speeches to enhance our ride.   As we passed Harry Truman’s Little White House she played ‘Hail to the Chief’.  As we passed Caroline Street she played a Jimmy Buffet song called, “Woman going crazy on Caroline Street” and more.  It was very entertaining.

Me at the Southernmost Point in 2001

 

The tour was to include several stops on the tour; however, we only stopped once for a short restroom and snack break.  We were a little disappointed as we hoped to stop at the Southernmost Point to take a quick photograph.  But to be honest, there were so many people in line to do just that that we would not have had the time.

The tour ended back at Mallory Square where Randy spotted a small, old and weathered boat called “Mary”.  Well, of course, we had to stop for a photo opportunity.  Very funny!

We then made our way to Duval Street in search of a place to have lunch.   We actually passed by the bar/restaurant we had spent many fun hours in 15 years ago but decided to try a new place.  After hearing the little snippet of Jimmy Buffet’s song we decided to go to Caroline’s Café.  The restaurant is mostly an open-air restaurant with a bar in the front, a courtyard with an umbrella ceiling, small wooden tables and chairs and pigeons freely walking around looking for scraps of food.

We spent the entire lunch time talking about how much we enjoyed the tour and how impossible it was going to be to remember all the information we had learned.  There was a wonderful variety of dishes to choose from.  There were fish sandwiches, quesadillas, Buffalo style chicken wings, a variety of burgers, Spicy Cajun Jambalaya and, of course, Key Lime Pie.

We ordered Rev. Joe’s Burger listed as the BIGGEST & THE BEST.  The burger was served with lettuce, tomato, onions and pickles.  We added strips of very crisp bacon and cheddar cheese and loved every bite!

After lunch we walked back down Duval Street stopping in at Kevin’s Irish Bar to see if brought back any memories and Sloppy Joe’s.  Sloppy Joe’s was a favorite of Ernest Hemingway. Either Irish Kevin’s had changed a bit or our memories were faulty either way it was fun to stop and listen for a while as the entertainer and patrons were singing “American Pie”.

It was getting late so we started our walk back to the pier.  We took the same streets so we could find the little lime green building again and stop for a piece of Key Lime Pie.  The bakery was tiny with only two tables and 4 chairs.  We looked into the refrigerated cabinet and saw a variety of pies but we stood fast and chose a slice of the original Key Lime Pie.  It was very tasty!  I asked Randy what he thought and he replied, “It was good, but I prefer the Cozumel Pie at Ernesto’s in Cozumel!!!”

By the time we got back on the ship it was time to prepare for evening cocktails and dinner.  We had another great night at dinner  all of us sharing our experiences in Key West.  We left the dining room and made our way to the cinema to see the movie, “Masterminds”.  I had mixed feelings about this movie.  Randy thought it was funny.

We returned to our cabin just in time to see the sun setting and stood leaning over the railing until the moon was high in the night sky casting a long line of light across the sea.

I asked Randy what he thought of our day in Key West.

“I remember the last time we were here walking down Duval Street to the wharf and watching the jugglers, dancers, vendors and the drink creators.  I remember that there was a rule that all of the cruise ships had to be gone by 1 hour prior to sunset.  When they were gone, then the party really began,” he said wistfully.

He went on to say, “Key West has changed, but also stayed the same.  Sloppy Joe’s is there, the old Irish bar is there although changed a little, the Southernmost Point still attracts people, as does the lighthouse and Hemingway’s home with the famous 6-toed cats.  Now there are modern buildings, and old buildings have been rehabbed into museums, art galleries and restaurants.  The one thing I really noticed is how clean the city is.  Back when we visited years ago, it was not the cleanest place to be”.

He looked out at the water and said with a smile, “It was good to come back and good to see that the city is beautiful, alive and vibrant.  We will definitely come back and spend some time”.  I agree!

Tomorrow we are at sea.

Enjoy,

Mary

Posted in cruises, cruising, restaurants, toast | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Turnaround day: new cabin, new table mates and more fun

Turn around day tends to be fairly relaxed.  No rushing to get a quick breakfast, get to your assigned waiting area, getting through customs and then the making your way home.  And yet, here we were at 5:30 AM standing on our balcony as the ship slowly made its way to port.

One of my favorite breakfast meals; French toast and very crisp bacon.

We did not linger long on the balcony as there was a chill in the air.  Because we were in no hurry, we made our way down to the dining room and had a lovely breakfast then returned to our cabin until it was time to go to the theater with the other consecutive cruisers.

We did not have to wait long before we were escorted to customs and returned to the ship.  This would be our first time to have a cabin at the back of the ship so we walked up to deck 10 to see if we could get a sneak peek.  The lovely gentleman who would be taking care of our cabin told us the door was open and to go right ahead.

We had a balcony cabin and, oh what a balcony.  This was the largest balcony we have had to date.  There were two lounge chairs, two regular chairs and a table.  So much room, we were in heaven.  Alex told us the cabin would be ready in an hour.  Happy, we left and walked down to the Colony Club to wait.

Ooops! Randy got to the cookies before I could get a photo. Funny!

The hour passed quickly and we returned to our new cabin.  Our luggage was in the cabin as well as a welcome plate of cookies.  Randy and I unpacked and settled in until it was time for the safety drill.

Randy had received an email from a friend alerting us to the fact that a bus filled with members of our community would be boarding the ship.  Excited, I called and connected to friends Ron and Connie and we made plans to meet for breakfast in the Windjammer in the morning.

After the safety drill, we made our way up to the pool deck to watch as the ship made its way through the channel and into open waters.  The ‘Sail Away’ party was in full swing when we arrived.  I couldn’t believe it.  Every lounge chair was full, there were many people already enjoying the cool waters of the pool and the activities staff had happy people line dancing to the ‘Wobble’.

Royal Caribbean Rhapsody of the seas

We passed the Rhapsody of the seas and the American Victory Ship and Mariners Museum.  The American Victory is one of only 4 fully-operational WWII Ships in the country.  There was a sailing vessel tied up to the American Victory but I could not read her name.  She was beautiful.

As we continued to cruise through the channel we saw many beautiful homes on one side of the channel and a large commercial area on the other.  Then we saw a lovely sight.  There on a large grassy area was of a large group of children having fun hunting for Easter eggs.

Randy enjoying the view from our balcony as we head into open waters.

Before we knew it, it was time to return to the cabin and prepare for the evening activities.  We arrived at our new table and were very happy.  This trip we were seated at a table for six.  We met our new table mates Monroe, Martha, Mike and Jessica and felt that dinner time would be a great deal of fun for the next five days.

By the time dinner was over I was feeling a bit tired and wanted to return to the cabin.  Randy went on to the theater for the headliner show featuring the comedy of Steve Smith.  We had seen Smith on the first leg of our cruise and wondered if he had a different act.  He did not so Randy returned to the cabin and we settled down for the evening.

View of the sun setting from our balcony.

We both just wanted to spend time on our balcony.  The sun was setting and offered us a very new perspective as the sun was setting to our left.  I could only catch a glimpse of the sun as it slowly dropped down below the horizon leaving hues of red, yellow and orange in its wake.

On our way!

Tomorrow we are at sea as we make our way to our first port-of-call.

Enjoy,

Mary

Posted in cruises, cruising, travel | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Last day on Brilliance filled with sunshine and laughter

In the wee hours of the morning I woke up to the sensation of being gently rocked back and forth.  The sea had become a bit turbulent creating a field of white caps across the water landscape.

7:12 AM

But, for the first time during this cruise the horizon was clear of its misty curtain and the sun could be seen peeking from behind a sky filled with ominous looking clouds.  I stepped onto the balcony to a chill in the air.

With only two items on our agenda, Randy and I decided it would be a lazy day as we slowly make our way back to Tampa.  With that in mind we decided to enjoy a slow, lovely breakfast in the Minstrel dining room.

My favorite two breakfasts in the dining room are the made-to-order omelets and the French toast.  Today I ordered a cheese and tomato omelet with very crisp bacon.  Both were yummy!  After breakfast we went up to the Concierge lounge for a hot cup of café latte and sat and just watched the waves below.

8:37 AM

The rest of the morning was spent in the cabin packing for our move to a new cabin tomorrow.  Today ends the first half of our back-to-back cruise; tomorrow we start a second 5-day cruise that will take us to Key West and Cozumel.

The nice thing about being a consecutive cruiser is that I only have to pack items that are in the drawers or on shelves.  All items hanging in the closet will be moved as is by our cabin attendant.

11:04 AM – View from the back of the ship on the Promenade. Look at the colors! Beautiful!

 

I wanted to take a walk around the ship so as soon as I had finished packing I grabbed my camera, put on my sunglasses and off we went.  The first stop was in the Windjammer Café.  I loved the “Welcome” cake at the beginning of the cruise and wanted to see if they would have a “Thank You” cake for the last day.  They did!

We continued our walk around the pool deck.   Although it was a little rocky the sun was shining bright making it a beautiful day to get those last rays of sunshine before returning home.  There was not a lounge chair to be had.  It was wonderful as we walked around to hear all the laughter from the adults and the squeals of the children as they frolicked in the pool.

As we started to move away from the pool, Randy pointed to something on the wall.  There on the wall was a funny weather forecasting tool developed by Capt. Stig Nilsen.  We cruised with Captain Stig on our trans-Atlantic crossing on the Brilliance in 2015.     A small anchor hung next to a wooden sign that gave the observer the signs to look for when wondering what is happening with the weather on the ship.  I thought it was very funny.

Our next stop was the Solarium pool and noticed that they had covered the pool with netting.  I love beautiful Asian motif of the Solarium Pool.  This pool area is glass covered and is for adults only (16 and above).  The area includes the pool, two whirlpools, a bar and its own café making it a lovely haven if you just want to kick-back for the day.

The pool was looking very whimsical today as the crew had decorated it with a variety of towel animals.

Then it was off to the sports deck.  The sports deck was a very busy place with passengers playing a lively game of basketball and the golf course seemed to have a steady stream of players.  Due to high winds the rock wall was closed.

 

 

We love to play a round or two of miniature golf when cruising especially when the wind was up.  It makes for a very interesting game indeed.  We were behind two teenage girls and it was so much fun to hear them laughing and squealing when they would hit their ball in one direction and the wind took it into another.  Fun, fun, fun!

12.09 PM –The waters remained a bit choppy but the sun shone brightly our last day on the Brilliance!

We returned to our cabin for a bit of lunch and hanging out on the balcony before attending a special afternoon comedy show by Steve Smith.  Oh my word, this man was so funny.  Randy and I laughed and laughed.  Steve was wonderful engaging the audience pulling them into his sphere of influence; comedy.

Then it was off to the Consecutive Cruisers meeting.  The meeting is designed to provide information and guidance for the consecutive cruisers to make a smooth transition in to the next leg of their cruise.  There were not many staying on.  Although I looked at the back of the room and saw the three comedians, Mario, Daniel and Steve were in the room.  I took a moment to walk over and express my happiness that they would be returning.

The last night’s dinner is always a fun time with the dining room staff singing and dancing and expressing their thanks that we all chose the Brilliance for their cruise.  Then it was ‘good byes’ and sharing contact information with our table mates.  We have met so many nice people on our cruises and always look forward to seeing them again on another ship.

The last two things we wanted to do before returning to our cabin was purchasing our photos and spending our free pulls at the casino.  We both received a receipt entitling us to fifteen cents.  Now these get turned in usually for a raffle.  The cashier explained that they do not hold raffles anymore and offered us a key chain.  We laughed and told him that we had a draw full of key chains.  I asked if it would be possible for him to give each of us one more coin instead.  He did!  We both dropped the coins down into the bowels of the one-armed bandit never to see it again.  Funny!

Tomorrow we arrive in Tampa to start the second leg of our back-to-back cruise on the Brilliance.

Our towel family!

 

 

Enjoy,

Mary

Posted in cruises, cruising, travel | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

A beautiful day to sit by the sea in Cozumel

Our wonderful view of the crystal clear, turquoise and blue waters off the shore of Cozumel at the Sunset Restaurant & Bar.

Today we dock at one of our favorite destinations in the Caribbean, Cozumel, Mexico.  We slept in this morning so I missed the sunrise.  But I have to say that, like yesterday, there was a misty curtain hanging over the horizon so I am not sure we would have seen it today.

Outside patio of the Concierge Lounge

 

We dressed quickly and made our way up to the Concierge lounge for a lovely breakfast of fresh fruit, café lattes and, of course,  a chocolate covered donut for Randy.  It seems that he just cannot resist these sweet breakfast treats.

Randy was in heaven each morning enjoying his chocolate donut!

 

We love eating in the lounge.  The atmosphere is quiet and inviting and, affords us an opportunity to eat outside on the patio or inside with a wonderful view of the water.  Today we ate inside.

We returned to our cabin to prepare to go ashore and watched as several other cruise ships made their way to the pier.  While we watched the Crown Princess, Carnival Freedom and Carnival Vista docked at the International Pier.  We learned that there were two other ships docked at the downtown port.  The town will be very busy today.

During breakfast we talked about how much the  port had changed over the years especially in the last year.  In the past we would walk down the pier and into a two-story shopping area with additional shopping to the left and a Señor Frogs restaurant along the waterfront.  So, we decided to spend some time exploring all the new changes.

The first new addition to the pier was the new Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville.   We have spent many a happy lunch hours in both restaurants and look forward to many more.

The new growth is to the right of the pier and included a lovely building built in a semi-circle housing many different shops selling a variety of wares.  They have also added two lovely Tiki Huts with benches offering a wonderful respite from the sun as well as several small areas with greenery and benches.

As we walked around I noticed that a small lunch area had been established with umbrella tables and chairs and seemed to be doing a very brisk business.  I think the next time we come we will try the food here.

We continued our walk and discovered that there was a small Cenote within the walls of the port.  A cenote is a natural pit, or sinkhole, resulting in the collapse of limestone bedrock that exposes groundwater underneath.  There are several of these beautiful openings in the earth across the street at the mall as well as throughout the Yucatan Peninsula.

We stopped for a moment to see if there was any wildlife in the water below.  We saw one turtle with its head above the water.

We stopped in several shops making note of a few items I would like to think about and perhaps purchase before we make our way back to the ship.

By now it was nearing the lunch hour and a decision had to be made.  Randy wanted to go back to Ernesto’s and I wanted to find a new place to eat along the waterfront.  I suggested that we take a leisurely walk along the waterfront until we found a restaurant that piqued our interest.  Randy agreed and we were off.

We eventually stopped at a restaurant called Sunset Restaurant & Bar.      The restaurant is a comfortable walk from the port.  There were two levels to the restaurant one on the beach and one on a patio.  We decided to take a seat on the patio and had a wonderful view of the water and the activities that were taking place in the water.  There was a dive class going on that kept our interest as we enjoyed bottles of cold Sol beer and a wonderful lunch.

We ordered the chicken nachos to share.  The plate was large and filled to the ends of the plate with chicken, black beans, pico de gallo, sour cream and came with two salsas that were delicious.  I especially loved the salsa verde.  Yummy!  We had originally thought about stopping at Ernesto’s for a piece of Cozumel pie (a version of Key Lime pie) but we were so full we decided to pass.

After our lunch we returned to the port and stopped at Señor Frogs.  I could not resist a photo opportunity with the frog and stopped in a few more shops before returning to the ship.

By the time we reached our cabin we had just enough time to shower and prepare for evening cocktails and dinner.  We had another wonderful evening with our table mates.  It is always interesting to me that so many people from so many different places can come together for just a few days and have such a wonderful time.  Lovely people!

This evening we decided to attend the headliner show featuring the comedy of brothers Mario and Daniel.  Mario and Daniel were so funny.  These two funny men have been compared to the likes of Laurel & Hardy, Abbott & Costello and Martin & Lewis.  “Big shoes to fill,” I thought as I took my seat. There were times the act looked a little chaotic and then they would mirror each other striking a pose or delivering a punch line.  Very funny!

Then it was off to the cinema again.  The cinema is small with only about 40 seats so we needed to get to the theater and secure a seat.  Tonight we saw the movie Sully.   I was saddened to learn how badly he and his co-pilot had been treated after delivering the plane to a safe landing, albeit on the water, and all aboard safely back to their families.

It had been a busy, wonderful and fun-filled day.  We made our way back to our cabin to spend a little time on our balcony before turning in for the night.

Tomorrow we are at sea as we slowly cruise back to Tampa.

Our towel family is growing!

 

 

 

Enjoy,

Mary

 

Posted in cruises, cruising, Food, restaurants, travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A lovely afternoon in beautiful Grand Cayman

I am often asked by some of my friends, “Are you going to the Caribbean again?”  I often wonder why that is a question at all.  From the first time Randy and I cruised to the Caribbean I fell in love with each and every port we stopped in.  I love the crystal clear turquoise waters, the white sand beaches, the sound the wind makes as it travels through the palm trees and the sunsets are amazing.

Today we are stopping at one of my very favorite islands in the Caribbean, Grand Cayman.  Grand Cayman is one of three islands Christopher Columbus called “Las Tortugas” because of the turtles he found lying off shore.

To Hell and back in 2015

Cayman Turtle Centre – 2015

 

Grand Cayman is known for its world-famous scuba diving, snorkeling, fishing, sailing and other water sports.    We have been here many times visiting the Cayman Turtle Centre, Seven Mile Beach, gone snorkeling off one of its many beaches and visited a town named Hell that features jagged rock formations that can only be conjured up in your dreams of what hell must look like.

But over breakfast, Randy shared that he would like to just get off around 10 am and just walk around town.  He wanted to stop in at a few liquor shops to price a few items to stock our bar at home and then stop at our favorite spot for a burger and beer.

And so, that is what we did!

The morning started quite nice with a gentle warm breeze and sunny skies that is until you looked out at the horizon.  There in the distance hung a misty curtain that made me feel as though rain was in our future.

After a quick breakfast at the Concierge lounge we made our way down to deck 2 to get onto a tender that would take us to shore.  As we started across the bay we noticed a ship not too far from ours and realized that it was the Royal Caribbean Monarch of the seas that had been sold to a ship line called Pullmantur.  We have spent many happy days on the Monarch and were glad to see her looking so good.

We actually did stop at a few shops but Randy was disappointed about the prices feeling that the prices in Cozumel or the ship might be better.  We turned around and started to walk in the other direction down Harbour Drive towards a little white church that I fell in love with many years ago.

The Elmslie Memorial United Church was established in 1846 by Rev. James Elmslie.  According to the literature I picked up in the church the present building was constructed in the 1920’s by Capt. Rayal Bodden.  The church has an arched roof, made of mahogany salvaged from shipwrecks and is constructed like the reversed hull of a ship for strength and beauty.  There are several beautiful stained-glass windows, a belfry, pulpit, font, and plaques commemorating those lost at sea, teacher, lawyers, island’s first dentist, ministers and other active members of Elmslie.

My favorite thing in the church is a small prayer tree located in the front of the church.  Next to this little potted sprig is a basket with tiny pieces of paper and pencils so parishioners and visitors can leave a little note to have prayers said for loved ones.  I filled out one of these little pieces of precious papers when I was here last.

Of course, I always like to look for the roosters that run free in the church parking lot.  I remember the first time I was here I quietly crept around a number of cars in hopes of catching a glimpse of these beautiful, brightly colored roosters and perhaps a hen and chick.  I was always rewarded for my patience.  Today too!

We continued our walk stopping at the site of the ruins of Fort George.  All that remains are a couple of cannons, the WW II lookout house and several murals commemorating significant times in the island’s history painted by artist John Broad.   In front of each mural is a plaque explaining the significance of the mural.  I have read them many times but I find myself reading them again and again.

Next stop on our walk through town was the Cayman Cabana Oceanside Restobar.  We discovered this fun and friendly spot several years ago and find that we keep coming back. The Cabana is an open-air restaurant/bar that has a great view of the bay.  The staff is friendly, the beer is always cold and the burgers are juicy and delicious.

As soon as we sat down in our favorite bar stools, we looked up to see if our names were still visible on the beams.  We could not find them so Randy asked for a marker, stood on the stool and wrote our initials on one of the high beams.  We looked at each other and wondered if they would be there the next time we come to the island.

No matter, it was time to eat.  We ordered the Gourmet Cayman Burger with jerk aioli, crispy bacon, melty cheese, lettuce, tomatoes and pickles.  (This burger also comes with an onion ring and sautéed mushrooms but we passed on those.)  The burger is so moist and tasty.  The fries are good too!  We washed our burgers and fries down with a local brew called Caybrew.

We returned to the ship relaxing in the cabin until it was time to prepare our evening activities.  Cocktails and dinner were great as always sharing stories of our adventures on the island.  Then we were off to attend the Crown & Anchor Society Top Tier Event in the Colony Club.

Captain Grønhaug welcomed everyone aboard and thanked us for our loyalty to the cruise line.  He then turned the microphone over to other members of the staff after which our Loyalty Ambassador, Juliia introduced the top three cruisers on this voyage.  It blew my mind when she announced that the top cruisers were a couple that had spent 2,422 nights on Royal Caribbean ships.  Randy and I looked at each other and laughed and said, “We have a long way to go”.  Too funny!

Our last stop for the evening was the cinema.  Rogue One: A Stars Wars movie was showing and we thought this would be a great way to end our wonderful day.  It was.

Tomorrow we dock in Cozumel, Mexico.

Enjoy,

Mary

Posted in cruises, cruising, restaurants, travel | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments