I’m currently sick enough that my body aches and I considered taking a sick day (but ultimately didn’t) that I figured I’d ramble on about the reason I suspect I’m sick: coming back to cold weather after spending a week in the Caribbean.
My parents took my brother and I on a week long cruise through the Western Caribbean. Alison was busy with school, so she didn’t come on this family vacation. We left from Miami and our ports of call were Key West, Costa Maya, Cozumel, and Grand Cayman.
Key West is an island off the bottom of Florida that you can drive to over a series of bridges. We decided to take the boat instead. Key West’s claims to fame include: key (west) lime pie, Mile 0, and the Southernmost Point in the Continental US (only 90 miles to Cuba!).
There is a main street with lots of shops that we walked down and ultimately led us to a small beach and the ‘Southernmost Point’. The Southernmost point is marked by a large painted buoy next to the water. But if you’re able to get your bearings right, you quickly realize that the location of the buoy is not the southernmost point on the island. In fact, not too much further down the coast you can see a section of the island that juts out into the water much further than where this buoy is. As my dad so elegantly put it, ‘it’s the most easily accessible southernmost point of the continental US.’ The island of Key West hosts a military base and they occupy the southernmost point of the island. Thus, the next best thing is where the tourists flock.
I wasn’t aware that key lime pie was called ‘key lime’ because it’s actually a different type of lime. And, forgive me for stating the obvious, but key limes are from Key West. First fun fact of the blog!
Our next day was a day at sea. Aside from eating a lot and seeing three (yes, three) shows, we didn’t do much. I read and sat out on deck. Lounged around. Wondered why I was a ‘chosen frozen,’ as one of the comedians on board like to call the Canadians. We had the chance to take a tour of the galley (kitchen) which was very cool for me, especially having worked in a large kitchen before. They have HUGE stand mixers.
Since it was a sea day, there was an afternoon show called Broadway Cabaret. I only knew a couple of the songs. Then there was the standard evening show which was a tribute to Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. I had no idea who that was but I recognized a number of the songs. It was put on by a comedy band called December 63 and they did a very good job. The last of the show of the day Aaron and I went to see together; it was the adults only show of the comedian that had performed the night before. He threatened to be politically incorrect, but he wasn’t actually too bad. He just had a bit where he advocated against how strict political correctness was getting and saying that it’s impeding on us being able to connect with one another.
On Tuesday we were in Costa Maya. If you’ve never heard of it, that’s because it didn’t exist 30 years ago and isn’t technically a location. It’s just the name of the port that was built exclusively to support cruise ships and their passengers. It’s in the state of Quintana Roo in Mexico, on the Caribbean Sea. The main attraction is the Mayan ruins nearby. Well, ‘nearby.’ It’s almost an hour long drive to get there. Which we did as our one excursion of the week.
After shoving ourselves into the back of a 20-seater for an uncomfortable amount of time, we made it to the ruins. The word ‘ruins’ was kind of misleading; there were three mostly intact Mayan temples in the area. Our guide was very informative, if a bit repetitive. One of the most interesting things was that the whole area is very flat, so if there was a hill (of which we saw many) it was likely a old Mayan building that nature had taken over. Two of the temples were on top of a hill, which was in fact just a large base that the Mayans had built in order to make the temples taller. And we saw a spider monkey!
On the way back to the port, the bus stopped at a stall on the side of the road selling pineapple. The area is known for its pineapple. I was really hoping we would see a pineapple farm, but we didn’t. Our guide bought everyone some to try, since he knew we can’t take it back on to the ship. They also gave us little packets of chili powder to sprinkle on the pineapple, which is apparently something that the locals do. I could get behind that; the pineapple was very tasty and the chili powder added a nice kick to it.
Our next port of call was Cozumel, Mexico. We didn’t do much in Cozumel, we walked around the shops that are in the port terminal then spent the afternoon on the ship. When we were eating lunch, Aaron spotted a very large turtle swimming in the water around the port. It didn’t stick around for long and we quickly lost track of its form in the deep water. There were a whooping 8 cruise ships in port that day.
The last stop of the cruise was Georgetown, Grand Cayman. This was the only stop where we had to tender in. Georgetown has its own tender boats, so we weren’t using the lifeboats on the ship. It didn’t take us nearly as long to get ashore as we anticipated. Since it was our last stop, I requested that we go to a beach. The previous ports didn’t really have convenient beaches nearby so we had yet to go to one. We took a taxi/shuttle to 7 Mile Beach (which is actually only 5.4 miles long). It was by far the most beautiful beach I’ve ever been to. The sand was very white and so soft. Much to my surprise, it wasn’t hot to walk on; it was just warm. And the water was just stunning. Such a beautiful blue colour and a perfect temperature to cool off and relax in. The salt water also makes the relaxing bit easier because it doesn’t take as much effort to float. We stayed at the beach for 3hrs, then headed back to the port area. Again, we walked around the shops before heading back to the boat.
That evening, we went to the casino. Not because we wanted to gamble, but because the cruise ship had put $5 on everyone’s card to play the slot machines. We figured we might as well. After asking a casino employee how to use the slot machines, we started playing. Much to everyone’s surprise, including the employee, my dad won $42. Mom and Aaron cashed out with a few dozen cents each. I managed to win $12. Not bad for a free night of gambling! I can see how it’s very addictive though. When you’re only betting 27cents at a time, it’s hard to say no to one more spin.
Our last day on the cruise was at sea, with the ship going almost full speed to get us back to Miami by 8:00am Saturday morning. We went to general trivia and did much better than I was expecting. Spent some more time reading, but not in the sun because my shoulders were a little red from the day at the beach. Ate a lot of food (but what else is new?).
Saturday morning we had an early breakfast and then were one of the first groups to get off the boat. We made our way to the airport and suddenly the trip was over. The journey home was fairly smooth. We stopped at a grocery store in Michigan just before crossing the border and got some dark chocolate Oreos (among other things).
Here are some other random tidbits about the trip:
- our ship had a female captain, Captain Kate McCue, and she has a cat on board named Bug
- our waiter in the dining room regularly brought us food that nobody ordered. It meant we got to try a lot of the dishes, but it also meant we were eating multiple appetizers and entrees each night
- always find out what all the food options are at the beginning of the cruise. We realized half way through the week that there was a cafe on deck 5 with pastries and cookies that we had been missing out on
As of right now, I don’t have any trips planned 😱 so who knows where I’ll be next 🤷♀️