Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Top ten cruise moments--part 2

Well, I've had ENOUGH with packing today and needed a break, so I'll choose one of my favorite forms of therapy--blogging. I didn't realize what a slow process packing was. Or maybe I just didn't know what a slow packer I AM. I packed for 2 straight hours today while the kids were napping....I got three boxes ready to go. Is that pathetic or what?

Anyway, back to reminiscing about the heavenly week on the cruise. I made a rookie mistake last time and didn't realize that if I included reason #5 in the first installment, I'd only have 4 left this time. Oops. I'll remember that for next time I do a countdown.

4. Snorkeling at Grand Cayman. We didn't pay for a snorkeling excursion, but Tony and Cindy brought masks and snorkels from home and I'm SO GLAD they did. I had never been snorkeling before and I LOVED it. We were actually able to do a little both in the Bahamas and at Grand Cayman--but the latter had more spectacular fish. I had taken a mask and snorkel out on my own and swam out pretty far into the ocean and couldn't see a single creature. I came back and told everyone that there were no fish this close to shore. Andrew, on the other, went out and found the most BEAUTIFUL tropical fish. He took me out with him and pointed them out and I don't know how I could've missed them on my own. Brilliant blue, yellow, and purple fish. Others were white with black zebra stripes. Most of them were only 2 or 3 inches long, but others were maybe 6 or 7. It was amazing to see them up close and personal in their own habitat. I wish I had pics of them, but I had already used all the photos in my underwater camera. :(
Here we are in Grand Cayman.
The water is SO clear and beautiful,
it almost looks like I just photoshopped
us into a postcard. Trust me, it's real.

3. The food. Whoa. I had been forewarned that the food would be amazing, but it's hard to understand it until you're there. I think the favorite for all of us was WARM CHOCOLATE MELTING CAKE. We ordered this for dessert after dinner almost every night. Our waiter got to the point where he would just bring them out for us when we were done with our entrees.

It might look small, but after appetizers, rolls,
salad, and a main course, this was the perfect dessert.
A bite of warm chocolate cake filled with a little spoonful
of ice cream. Mmmmmm. I'm drooling right now.

Food is available 24 hours a day.
This is a pic from the midnight buffet.
Cool ice sculpture, huh?
I was so stuffed from the 4 course meal
we had just finished that I couldn't eat
any of their beautiful creations.

But I did manage to make room for the
chocolate buffet in the middle of lunch!
The chocolate covered pineapple was the best.

I wish I would've taken more pictures of the food
because this one really doesn't do it justice, but
this was the lobster tail Andrew ordered one night.
I may never eat this good again.

I found myself eating to PREVENT hunger rather than to FILL my hunger. I guess that's why I gained three pounds in a week. Nothing a little Billy Blanks can't fix. D'oh--I already packed my DVD's!

2. Stingray city. This was one of the coolest experiences of my life. We went on an excursion when we were at Grand Cayman. We got on a little boat that took us about 20 minutes out into the ocean. There is a sandbar out there where the water is shallow enough to stand up in. Fishermen used to stop there to gut their fish, so the stingrays in that area became accustomed to being around humans and to having a free supply of food.

All these boats just back up into the sandbar and
give the passengers 20-30 minutes to be in the
water with the stingrays. It was amazing.
If you look in the background, you can see
how far we are from land.

They give us these little squid that
we can hold under the water and the
stingrays will come slurp them up
right out of your hand.
You can tell by our facial expressions that
we were all a little creeped out at first.

It was weird to have the stingrays all around us and some of them would swim right into you. But after a while we warmed up to them. Their "wings" were so soft and smooth. We were told not to touch their backs or tails because that's where they have their barbs. But sometimes they would swim right under us and it was basically impossible. We were also taught the right way to hold the squid when we were feeding them. You have to tuck your thumb in or the stingray will mistake your thumb for the squid and slurp it up. I was so giddy and excited that one of the times I forgot to tuck my thumb (another rookie mistake!) and got a nice little stingray bite. It hurt! But I got over it.

This picture shows you how big some of those
rays were. I didn't expect that.

Here's a picture of Tony trying to kiss the stingray.
Pucker up!

This was an awesome experience and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to get close to nature. I felt like I was in a National Geographic movie or something. Loved it.

And finally, drum roll please.....My all-time favorite moment from the cruise....

1. Playing on the beach at the Bahamas. We decided not to purchase a shore excursion at this port, but to just go out on our own. I'm so glad it worked out that way. It was perfect. We found a secluded little spot on the beach with that beautiful, clear, blue water. There are no waves there. It was kind of weird. We had the best time just playing.

Andrew and I practiced our cheerleading
tricks. Pretty impressive, huh?

We had chicken fights. (No pictures of those.)
But Andrew and I won. hee hee

We did the handstand Olympics.
It was a close one between Andrew and Tony.
I think Andrew ended up winning.

There was a little rocky outcropping where
we went snorkeling and saw a few tropical fish.

And I WISH I had a video of this because it's hard
to explain, but after one of our chicken fights, we were
just standing out in the water and these two little swordfish
got into a fight. They were skimming along the top of the water
as if they were wrestling. Then one of them disappeared
and the other was flying along out of the water. It was
unbelievable. Reminded me of those flying fish at Carolina
Beach, but even faster and with a sharp nose.

It was a serene, idyllic setting and exactly
what I pictured when I knew we'd be going
on a cruise to the Caribbean.

Ok, I've got to get to bed so that I can possibly pack more than three boxes tomorrow. At this rate, I will never make it by next week! Next post: LEAST favorite things about the cruise and honorable mention for the top ten.


the sandyman said...

I agree - snorkling is GREAT!
(Did it in Hawaii; saw hundreds
of fantastic fish and got a great sunburn on my back.) Thanks for the pictorial tour. Not sure I'd like to pucker up to a stingray, though.

rob, jax & max: the harmon squad said...

It sounds like you had a blast, and I'm glad you liked snorkling. I did it in the Florida Keys and wasn't too impressed, and after Rob getting stung by a Portugese Man-of-War I'm not sure I'll be venturing too far out from any beautiful shore. But props to all you brave people!

Amy said...

I'm so glad you liked snorkeling. I've been in Mexico, Hawaii, and in the Pacific off of Oregon and just love it. Mexico was by far the best though. I think it's amazing to look under the water and see so many fish right below you that you didn't even know where there.
Those sting ray pictures are awesome! I had heard about that adventure, but had no idea they were that big. How cool!
A chocolate buffet. I'm so jealous.

Natalie said...

Sounds like you guys had a blast! I have been on a cruise once before and my two favorite parts were the food and the snorkeling. I can't believe you got up close and personal with some stingrays. Awesome. You guys have some great pictures too!

Sandy said...

Ah man, your cruise sounds like SO much fun!! What cruise line did you go on, by the way?

I agree - those pictures look like you guys just photoshopped yourselves onto post cards!

Denny & Joe said...

You and Andrew have the most dazzling smiles I've ever seen. And your adventures sound fabulous.

Barbara said...

Top 5 favorite things on this post:

5) Andrew's eyebrow in picture #2.

4) Tony's face in picture #7.

3) Handstand Olympics - memories of the kids doing that when they were little. I was actually quite accomplished at this myself back in the day.

2) How delicious all of you look in every picture (including the food). Those black body suits the boys are wearing that cover up white bodies are very studly.

1) The striped blue water behind you and Andrew practicing your cheerleading moves (and Andrew's face in that picture too :)

Thanks for the great travellog - and now you have to PACK. It's grueling. It took us 5 years to pack our house in WEst Valley - 2 years just to clean out the shed in the back yard by the swingset. Good luck in all you're doing - talk to you soon, sweet kids.