Tag Archives: Cruising

The Rest of the Fun

Now that I’ve told you about all our cruise excursions, you’d think I’d be done talking about this vacation. But nope. We had three full days at sea that I haven’t even mentioned. I had two more posts drafted, but I felt like that was a little excessive. So instead I’m going to sum up the main points in one post. One. long. post. See? You don’t have to hear about my vacation any more after this. Unless you want to… (call me!)

1. I bought two books before the cruise in anticipation of reading by the pool for hours on end.

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That didn’t happen. I never even went in the pool. I walked by it many times to get to the bar but actual relaxing by it didn’t happen. We spent most of our time eating (so, so much eating) or hanging out at a pool deck table chatting with Linda and Jimmy.

2. OMG. The eating.

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That’s our waiter, Anthony, posing with us. He helped us all eat five meals a day. It was ridiculous. Even when we tried to be good, it was impossible because he was hell bent on feeding us. If one of us didn’t order a certain course (like a second appetizer or meal *gasp*), he’d bring out what he thought we might like so we wouldn’t be “lonely” watching everyone else eat.

3. I ate something I said I would never eat. Snails, dude.

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I’ve been saying no to trying escargot for 10 years. I cannot deal with little, black, slimy things that look like hot garbage on a plate, but Linda insisted. So I gave in. The verdict: I ordered them every day for the rest of the cruise. Damn those things are good. Where have you been all my life you delicious, butter-drenched delights? If cruise escargot is that good, I can only imagine what non-cruise escargot tastes like. Also, that picture should explain why I’m not going to do a food post.

4.  At the Belly Flop contest, I captured this amazing shot of a man giving birth to a leg.

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5. This is Deck 5.

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Deck 5 is important for 3 reasons: Irish Pub, 24 hour pizza, and cupcakes.

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We spent a lot of time on Deck 5. The cupcakes were not included with the cruise food which did not deter me. I still bought many of them.

6. Linda and I worked out five out of the seven days on the ship since we pretty much stuffed our faces for all seven days. It is unusually hard to eat that much. That it something I never thought I would say. I mean, I wasn’t so hard that I didn’t do it. That would just be ridiculous.

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7. Our stateroom was on Deck 2.

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That means hubs and I were climbing a ton of stairs daily to get to Deck 11, which had the breakfast and lunch buffets, and Deck 12, which had the pools. By the time we climbed nine flights of stairs, we were panting and sweating. I have never worked so hard to get to a buffet. We did this at least three times a day. All the Crossfit and running do not prepare you for stairs. Stairs are the devil.

8. We went to four shows while we were on the ship. We saw a variety show, a comedy act, an ice skating show, and a dating game type show that was pretty entertaining. I didn’t take any pictures of them, so here’s a picture of Linda and I instead.

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9. We spent most nights at the bars. Although, I feel like that goes without saying.

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10.  Speaking of bars, hubs, Jimmy, and I all got the Premium Inclusive drink package.

Premium Package ($55 per day): includes house and premium cocktails (up to $10 value), frozen cocktails, beers, premium wine by the glass (up to $12 value), nonalcoholic cocktails, bottled still water, fountain sodas with a souvenir Coca-Cola cup and a 20 percent discount on wine bottle purchases.

Not cheap, but I still thought it would be cheaper than paying as we went. The package equaled about five drinks a day from my online research estimation. I didn’t plan to drink every day, but I’m no lightweight so I thought I could easily average that and make up the difference with bottled water.

Turns out drinks were way cheaper than I expected (and they had happy hour drink specials). So the package is worth it if you can drink eight drinks a day. Drinking eight drinks a day is hard, ya’ll. Of course, we didn’t want to lose money, so it became a challenge to drink as much as we could to get our monies worth. So yeah. Bad idea with the drink package. It would have been way cheaper to pay as we went. Live and learn, I suppose.

11. If you go on a cruise, bring cold medicine just in case. NyQuil was nineteen dollars on the ship. NINETEEN! Dying was cheaper, so I drank orange juice and suffered.

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12. I saw Frozen. We all watched it on the big screen at the pool the last night which was a fun way to watch. So now I’ve caught up with the rest of the world.

13.  Our last day on ship, we went to Johnny Rockets.

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We needed a break from the buffet and dining room but I think our JR waiter was friends with our regular dining room waiter because he kept bringing food we didn’t order too. We wanted a burger each and chili fries to share. We ended up with chili fries, regular fries, a bowl of ranch dressing, onion rings, four shakes, apple pie, and an extra burger. I ate all that in a bikini and felt extra sexy afterwards. Try that out if you want to feel super sexy too.

Our vacation was so fun. I’m sad it’s over. Although, I may have convinced Linda and Jimmy to join us on next year’s vacation to *fingers crossed* Ireland. My passport is lonely for its first stamp. 🙂

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Wandering Around St. Maarten

Our last, and most favorite stop, was in St. Maarten.

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St. Maarten is an island divided by two nations: a French side (Saint Martin) and a Dutch side (Sint Maarten). They are so split in two, they don’t even want to spell it the same. We visited the capitol, Phillipsburg, which is on the Dutch side.

Our visit to St. Maarten didn’t really go as planned. We tried really hard to book a snuba tour but there were only two spots left and we needed four. We even tried the wait list with no luck, so we decided to cancel our original tour (to a butterfly farm) and wing it since I really wanted to watch planes land at Maho Beach after hearing about it from my friend, Kate.

Maho Beach is a 30 minute cab ride from the port and right in front of an airport runway. Because the runway is so short, planes have to fly really low over the beach to ensure the wheels hit the runway as soon as possible. That makes plane watching extra interesting, especially when signs like this are posted.

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We hung out at the café on the beach all morning sipping Pina Coladas. I was starting to get a cold so I rationalized that those were the only things that felt good on my throat. Vacation logic. Hubs, Jimmy, and Linda ate lunch but I wasn’t hungry so I had more Pina Coladas to help my cold.

A lot of smaller planes land at the airport but the big ones are the most fun to watch, so the bar has a daily flight schedule posted so you know when they are coming in.

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After watching planes all morning from the beach café, we decided to get a little closer.

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See the plane approaching in the background?

This should be where I explain to you what Jimmy is doing. He decided at the beginning of the trip that he was going to pose like this for as many pictures as possible. He calls this pose “the erection.” So it was a delight when Linda would ask before someone took our picture, “are we going to do “the erection?” Always a crowd-pleaser.

Anyway, standing under those planes as they are passing over is a way different experience than watching from the café. It is freaky and cool. I took video of one of them but the video does nothing to capture the sound level and jet blast of a plane flying that close over you.

If you can’t see that video, you can click here too.

After watching planes all morning, we found a guy selling coconuts (illegally, because he ran when the cops drove by) and bought some.

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Well, everyone did but me because I hate coconut water. But it was still cool to watch this guy machete a coconut like no one’s business.

After that we caught a cab downtown for some shopping.

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St. Maarten is known for its shopping. There were a ton of cute shops selling all sorts of touristy stuff. It was fun checking them all out. Plus, fun fact about St. Maarten – you can walk around outside with alcohol like in Vegas and New Orleans. Basically my dream.

Downtown was about two miles away from the ship, so we just slowly made our way back stopping in just about every store on the way. I was hungry since I didn’t eat lunch, so I made everyone eat lunch #2 with me. We stopped at this awesome little beach restaurant.

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I wanted a cheeseburger in a bad way. So I ordered one because I’m an uncultured American. But I’m telling you, the burger was freakin’ amazing. (Hubs agreed.)  I was a little worried the waitress didn’t ask how I wanted it cooked, but apparently they only cook it one way: delicious.

Hubs, Jimmy, and Linda got this awesome beef plate so I ate that too because I like to eat off of other people’s plates.

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After lunch, we did some more shopping. I bought a bathing suit top and hubs bought some coconut rum with actual coconut pieces floating in it. Also, cigarettes were really cheap. (No, I didn’t buy them.) They were $17.99 a carton and $3.00 for a single pack. I think if I lived in the St. Maarten, I’d take up full-time smoking since it’s so cheap.

Oh, another interesting thing is that cigarettes had these giant warning labels all over them that we do not have in America.

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I was explaining to the lady at the store that our warnings are very small and she was like, “so that’s why everyone points out those warnings out to each other.”

Anyway, we all loved St. Maarten. Jimmy was already planning his trip back while we were there. We commented on how nice all the locals were when we noticed on the license plates that St. Maarten is called The Friendly Island. They definitely live up to that. I would really recommend visiting if you have the chance.

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I can’t get over hub’s face in that picture. He INSISTED on being the goat.

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Jet Skiing and Stingraying in the Bahamas

Now we’re gonna back up to our first port stop in Coco Cay, Bahamas. I’ve been to Coco Cay before and it’s meh if you ask me. It’s Royal Caribbean’s private island and it’s pretty because it’s the Caribbean but it’s small and boring unless you like sitting on a beach chair for 8 hours. So, I was a little bah hum bug about going back. We ended up booking two excursions for this stop and it was a lot of fun and I got to eat my words.

Our first excursion was jet skiing. Or Sea Dooing. I guess those are the same thing.

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Holding on for dear life.

Jet skiing has always been on my “too scared to try” list because falling into the water at high speeds and dying (in my scenario, I die) does not sound like a good time. So I made hubs drive and I hung on tight enough that if I was going in, he was going in with me. #thatslove. Once we started jumping waves, I starting dropping expletives. It was fun and scary and besides feeling the need to crap my pants, it was awesome!

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We followed our guide to a few spots where we stopped and waited for everyone else in the group to catch up. She’d tell us a few things, probably about the island or the ocean, that I didn’t hear because I was too busy trying to stay alive. Then we’d do it all over again. It was a good time. There was even a 70-something couple with us that hadn’t jet skied in 40 years. That’s the couple I want to be when I’m old. Smile  So overall, I didn’t die, which I like, and I’d do it again.

After the first excursion, we had some time to kill, which we did with many rum and cokes under a shade tree on the beach. We ate lunch after our morning boozing and then met up for our second excursion  – swimming with stingrays. After a briefing on what not to do around stingrays, we took a five minute boat ride over to the stingray area.

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We got into this big fenced in area where there were tons of stingrays swimming around our legs.

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It was kinda freaky and cool at the same time.

Then we got to feed and hold them which was just…omg.

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If anyone wants to style their hair like mine, send me an email and I’ll tell you how. It’s a delicate balance of wind, water, and not looking in a mirror.

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Those things weigh 100 lbs and they are all slippery and weird and interesting. They are all like, sure, hold me, it’s cool.

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There were all sorts of other things to see while we were there like sea cucumbers (so gross), starfish, and sea urchins, which suck on your hand while you’re holding them. *shudder*

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I did not hold that thing for long.

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sea cucumber

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After about an hour, we headed back. We wanted to see the pictures the guides took of us but we only had about 20 minutes left to catch the last tender back to the ship, so we skipped it. Boo.

We all loved both excursions and of course all the rum, so my second trip to Coco Cay was much better than the first.

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Snorkeling in the Virgin Islands

I’m going to talk about this cruise for a bit because it was awesome and there’s a lot to talk about. So get ready for my vacation shenanigans. I might even be able to talk about it in less posts than this girl talked about her Cuba vacation, but I doubt it.

Anyway, like I mentioned before, hubs and I went on a 7-night Eastern Caribbean cruise with our friends, Linda and Jimmy. The cruise had port stops in Coco Cay, Bahamas, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, and St. Maarten (in that order). I was a little apprehensive about going on a 7-night cruise. I’ve been on two cruises previous to this – both only three nighters – and both times I was bored half of the time and ready to GTFO by day three.

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Well, I had nothing to worry about. I had an awesome time and I was never bored. I wasn’t too excited about our stops at first. I wanted to do the Western Caribbean cruise but Linda and Jimmy had already done that one last year which kinda bummed me out. But, the fact that I LOVE vacationing with friends won me over so I got over my snobby Eastern Caribbean ways and decided to go anyway.

If you’ve been reading this blog since the beginning of time (or 3 years, whichever), you might remember that Linda was our personal trainer for several years (that’s how we met). This is the second time we’ve been on vacation with her and her husband. The first time was a Carolinas road trip about four years ago, so we already knew we could spend a lot of time with them and not want to shiv them in the kidneys. We also knew they liked to have fun.

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See? Fun!

Anyway, our first stop was in Coco Cay, but since I’m waiting to get few pictures from Linda, I’ll move on to stop #2 – St. Thomas, Virgin Islands.

Lots of ships ported at St. Thomas.

Can’t take him anywhere.

Originally, we had planned a snuba excursion in St. Thomas. Snuba is apparently a thing and I had never heard of it until we got on the ship. It’s not quite snorkeling and it’s not quite scuba diving. When you snuba, you explore 20 feet below water and the oxygen tank floats above you. All four of us were more psyched for snuba than any of the other excursions we had booked. So of course it was cancelled because the ship was an hour and a half late into port because of heavy wind.

We booked another excursion, our distant second choice of snorkeling. We picked a tour with Cool Boats USVI that went to Turtle Bay. We sailed there on an actual ghost ship called Blackbeard’s Revenge. The ship sunk in the 80’s and then was resurrected six weeks later and refurbished. It looked like a bad ass pirate ship.

There’s nothing like the feeling of sailing on a ship that once sunk.

The trip started out pretty well other than the fact that the water was super choppy and there were at least two people barfing into buckets and two others that didn’t look so hot. Those people were not us, by the way. Other than that, it was a good 30-minute sail.

I can’t say enough good things about the tour guides, Shy and Amelia, and Capt. Jim. They were amazing and funny and told stories like they haven’t told them 1000 times before. They did things like scale the boat to open the sails while the boat was in motion.

See Shy up there? You could not pay me to do that. He didn’t even use the ladder. He climbed up by one using one of those thin ropes. Crazy mofo.

We got to Turtle Bay and I was happy the boat had finally stopped. I was starting to feel a little sea sick even though I was sitting in the middle of the boat, which moves the least. We all jumped off the boat and started our snorkel.

The snorkeling selfie.

The water was beautiful but it was so congested with people that I couldn’t swim without hitting someone with my flipper or someone else’s flipper hitting me.

See what I mean?

I bought a GoPro camera right before the trip and I’m an absolute idiot using it. I thought I was taking pictures when I was actually taking video for half a day. Then I had it set on 10 pictures per second for another part of the day and ended up with tons of the same picture. The jury is still out on that camera.

Ok, so back to snorkeling. Besides being congested, there wasn’t much to see except a lot of flat sea floor and a fairly lame coral reef.

A few others saw some turtles and a stingray but I wouldn’t have been able to get there to see them unless I started taking down little children, which normally I would do, just not with that many witnesses. So I saw nothing unless you count the shadow of a turtle in the distance, three fish, and then a turtle once I got back on the boat that mocked me with its frocklicking.

So basically, the snorkel portion of the trip was a bust and I didn’t use much of the free snorkel time after we went on the “tour” where Amelia told us about parts of the reef.

We got back on the ship and our guides started serving us many of these fruity rum drinks called Painkillers (for FREE) and that significantly improved our moods. I was looking the other direction at one point, holding my drink, and felt Capt. Jim filling up my cup. Man after my own heart right there.

Also, our guide Shy memorized all FIFTY people’s names on the boat. He went around, asked everyone their name individually, and did some weird pneumonic thing in his mind for a few seconds each time. Then, after he asked everyone their names, was able to call everyone out in order. He even knew our names when we swapped positions on the boat and were coming out of the water wet and unrecognizable with our snorkle gear on. Crazy. That dude was pure entertainment. I’m sad I didn’t get a good picture of him because he reminded me of Aaron Paul. (Hubs said he reminded him of Dominic Moynahan.)

Everyone being entertained by Shy.

We left a good tip because we loved, loved the guides but the tour itself was meh. I would have preferred a snorkel trip that carried less people and had something to look at. You go to Turtle Bay, you expect to see turtles. Amirite?

We had a little time when we got back to shore before all-aboard, so we stopped at a cute beach pub called Fat Turtle and had a few more drinks and appetizers (to prep our stomachs for dinner, of course). We asked for a local rum suggestion and the waitress recommended Cruzan which is made in the Virgin Islands. We have that all over the place in Orlando, so no. No Cruzan rum for Paula. I went with a Moscow Mule instead (my current favorite drink). I didn’t take any pictures toward the end of the day, so imagine me enjoying many more adult beverages. Pretty much like you imagine me on any normal day.

St. Thomas wasn’t our favorite stop, but we still had a great time. We heard from the locals that if you’re going to go to the Virgin Islands, that you want to take the ferry over to St. John. Apparently St. John is amazing. St. Thomas was beautiful BUT super touristy, which isn’t my thing since I already live in the land of tourism.

Ok, so that was our second stop. I’ll be back with more in a few days. 🙂

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