If you've never taken a cruise
or traveled through the Western Caribbean, you must! For an entire
week Rafi and I were fortunate enough to take a weeklong cruise
on the Grand
Princess, which left from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida and sailed
through the Western Caribbean. Our room was exquisite with an outdoor
private balcony, chocolates on our pillows every night, and the
smallest bathroom imaginable!
Our first stop was the Princess
Cays. Here we rode the Banana Boat ride (we didn't fall
off, but the entire left side of the boat did!) and rented a paddleboat
(which is quite a workout, we discovered, when you are paddling
against the current). After some fun in the sun, we enjoyed a beachside
BBQ. We also played the first of many losing games of Bingo.
The next day we spent at
sea. Again we played losing games of Bingo, but the wonderful Vegas-like
shows pepped our spirits. There was even a hypnotist who puppeteered
his volunteers on stage. Hmm...maybe hypnosis for weight loss COULD
work! This day was also formal
attire night. We dressed up this night, but boy were we
ready for some comfortable pj pants after all that eating!
Cayman was our third day's destination. I can't begin to
explain how beautiful the water is here - which still hardly justifies
the cost of beachfront property there - $35 to 40K per square FOOT!
We took a brief tour of the area that highlighted the town named
Hell (due to it's magnificent lava rock formations), the Tortuga
Rum Cake Factory (with free samples!), and my favorite, a turtle
hatchery. I've never seen so many turtles in my life! After all
that, we took a 30-minute boat ride out to a stingray sandbar and
got to snorkel
with the stingrays, which was amazing. We touched and held
them, and I even got to kiss one! :)
Our fourth day took us to Costa
Maya, near the town of Majahual in Mexico. There's not much
there other than some shops and a VERY rocky beach with strong tides.
Don't try to body surf there - trust me on this one. It'll result
in some very scraped and bruised knees.
Our last destination was Cozumel,
Mexico. We were very busy for a good part of the day in Cozumel.
After waking up much too early for a vacation day, we set out for
a ride across the island. Then we strapped ourselves onto a 4-wheeler
(of course, Rafi REALLY enjoyed driving - the roads were EXTREMELY
rough and rocky) and set off on our 9 mile trek to a wonderful pristine
beach. Then we gathered our snorkeling equipment and kayaked a ways
out to a barrier reef. We tied our boat to a buoy and began our
adventure. The water there is SO crystal clear, that we
were told that on calm days, the visibility was up to 125 feet!
We only snorkeled in depths of 30 feet or so, though, but we could
see all the way down to the bottom. Colorful fish, coral, and other
plant life were everywhere. After snorkeling, we kayaked back to
the beach, ate a quick lunch, and rode our ATVs out to a Mayan ruin.
Here we made our Mayan wishes and then continued our bumpy ride
back to base. Our time in Cozumel
was completed by some shopping. Then we worn out travelers went
back to our ship and relaxed the rest of the day.
Our last day on board the Grand
Princess was spent sleeping VERY late (as I said, we were very worn
out from our Cozumel activities) and eating. The food aboard the
ship is delicious and always available, so anytime there was a lag
in activities, we ate...and ate...and ATE.
Our friends Marco and Pilar,
who live in Ft. Lauderdale, picked us up after we sadly packed our
things and disembarked. But they showed us around Ft. Lauderdale
and let us stay in their beautiful townhome for the night. Of course,
I crashed, but the guys stayed up playing FIFA. Go figure. ;)
And now we're home. And guess
what? We're already researching our next cruise! ;)