Having the first day at sea allowed at least a third of the passengers to get thoroughly sun burnt. That was something else I noted. I know the cruises have food about 24/7 but the number of obese passengers seemed to have doubled since I last cruised. As always standing in line I had chosen by accident to stand behind one. He took all the sausage in the morning and the largest slice of pizza at snack time. I imagined that his wife had taken him away from home to save them money for a week.
Dinner was a tad confusing as we had selected something new to us. Instead of having to pick a time to eat and usually have to eat with 8 of the most boring people on the planet we could have an open schedule. Our passenger cards informed us we were in the Golden Olympian room to arrive and be informed we should actually be in the Silver Olympian room. Next evening the opposite. Tonight will be a surprise I am sure and they must have a Bronze room we might have to find. On that subject ships maps are provided between the elevators. That's smart as it's the only place without lighting so impossible to read the tiny print especially when they pick great deck colors. Dark blue with tiny black writing doesn't help. That's probably the deck with the Bronze dining room.
Today Monday is Cozumel. Visited here last time and did a real submarine tour. The other tours are basically underwater ones which I am not into. Couple of city tours but I like to wander around in places where the other passengers don't go. Like the aforementioned correct dining room.
My wife decided that the "snuba" excursion seems worth trying. I declined. However I asked questions on her return. Well apparently this is a cross between Scuba diving and Snorkeling. Could have been snuba or scorkeling I would presume. The snuba concept is to walk out to sea and have an inflatable raft connected to you by air tube. I remember the snorkeling bit in my youth. Always deterred by my mother who convinced me that as the tube had a ping-pong ball in the end there was a great possibility that I would breathe it in and die. Depth about 25 feet was achieved. It was reported that everyone had a great time and it appears to be an intro to full scuba diving with ones own tank and equipment befitting Jacques Cousteau. Next part of the day was a wander around Cozumel. Last time we were here we decided to brave the natives and what appeared to be a short distance into town. This time being sensible went by taxi to what was requested as "the old town please". The reality is that all they appear to have is a multitude of tourist shops selling the usual funny quips on tee shirts at 20 for $5 or similar, bars with happy hour all day and mariachis with guitars always ready and able to sing something we neither want to hear or pay for. One visit up an alley being pitched to by every store vendor 5 feet apart was particularly frustrating as we found it led to a wall and turnaround allow us to be harassed by the same people onward back to civilization. The things I didn't want going up the road were amazingly the same things I didn't want returning down it.
Photos were taken. I like to keep a few photographic mementos of my journeys. I use a small Sony camera with what they call millions of mega pixels. They are required apparently to have any chance of having a photo worth retaining. I have about 25 settings on mine but usually I set mine to the green dot. Automatic everything. Always makes me feel better when the end product is a really poor shot. I simply blame the camera afterall I did my bit, why couldn't it do its part?
Back on the ship we were quite exhausted, all that sun and harassment will do it every time. During the evening I decided to take a stroll around maybe a snack along the way. Noticed the huge array of photographs the ship's people take continuously. We had ours take on entry to the ship, like it or not, so the game was to try and find ours amongst some 10,000 thousand that appeared to be there. We did have a number but that went missing prior to reaching our cabin. After 20 minutes discovered our sample. Horrendous photo. I almost felt I had to purchase it only if to not have someone at the bar recognize me and tell me how bad it was. Second option was to draw a moustache on my face so I would be incognito for the remaining voyage. I did neither and exited the area to avoid being spotted in the future. Stores opened at 9 pm they stated, I gave up waiting at 9.15. That expensive watch would have to wait. Probably would have done anyway.
At the end of this deck I could hear the variety show taking place. Let's amble in and see what it is all about I thought. The Cruise Director is the one who makes the whole thing come together. This evening I am sure his request of his performers was simply, "Can you all please do your best to sing out of tune tonight?" A request they appear to have adhered to.
Tuesday was a day at sea. Time to relax even more having no excursions to think about possibly taking. Time to sit back in the sun, add to the prior days sunburn and people watch by the pool. Starting with breakfast buffet it was quite interesting to see all the low fat products offered. Even more amazing as at least 80% of the passengers were in the 150 lbs over weight category. This was never billed as a weight reduction cruise and with the enormous amount of food offered and consumed it seems like the huge Big Mac washed down with a diet coke syndrome. There is something special about the ambiance by the pool. Think about it, anyone really overweight at times has their own embarrassment at appearing in a skimpy bikini on a beach filled with athletic model type females and Adonis type guys. On a cruise it just doesn't matter. Who cares if you take up two loungers, eat enough for ten people per meal or have to have a four wheel motorized vehicle to get anywhere? You are just part of the majority. There is a comfort zone for all.
This was the oldest house still standing in Grand Cayman, We were the only guests and were moved into this small dark room and instructed to sit there and a movie presentation would commence. A door slid shut behind us and we were trapped. It wasn't a poor presentation in fact relatively interesting however the whole lot was based upon the local people and very little history. Boredom set in and one feeble attempt was made to "break out". Failing we sat through a twenty minute song about the island.argh! At last the door opened and freedom! Up a flight of stairs to the two rooms with the whole islands history. Yes a turtle was involved. Quite interesting overall and about all there was in the town worth remotely seeing. Unless you were a bank watcher when you could have an enormously enjoyable time looking at the many banks around the area.
Onward to Jamaica. I had visited some 20 years ago and by coincidence the ship docked where I could see the hotel I last stayed at. It was interesting in that I couldn't see many new hotels having been built over the years. They have updated the excursions and to a great extent the main ones are designed around the Duns Falls. This is a must go to. The best tours are Duns Falls and one or two others up into the forest. Duns Falls are some 600 feet from the beach up to the top. As one would imagine the deal is to start at the beach and climb up the falls to the top. Everyone holds hands while a guide (with bare feet!) escorts you upwards. I had already completed this on my first visit so declined another water version of Mt Everest. Quite illuminating watching very unfit people attempt and succeed at the venture. Leaving the top of the falls it was easy to see the "exit" sign to the car park. We followed the first sign. Moving into a number of old wooden buildings with narrow dirt paths I could see clearly the sign informed us to take the right track. One of the store "vendors" informed me the track was wrong and I should take the track to the left! Yeah right, that took us to HER store. Further along we fell for the same game and almost ended where we started. Eventually we found the car park unscathed and with our credit cards unharmed.
The small shuttle took us down the road to the "skyway" line. This is a cable network which appears to never stop. One braces oneself as it loops behind you. The trick is to jump onto the seat before you get run over. Then up some 700 ft to the top of the mountain area. Great views of our ship and Ochoa Rios. I must admit I am not too good at heights and this cable car network did shake a bit and it was a long way off the ground. Reaching the top we found a great restaurant and the window view really was sensational. On our return to the ship we could see the restaurant from the decks. The choice down again is either to take the cable car back or their version of a bobsled down. Single or double versions available. The Jamaicans are very proud of their bobsledding team and heck, why not have rides about it all.
Back to the dock and a wander along the streets into Ochoa Rios. Every ten feet we were asked if we wanted a taxi. Surely after two turndowns the normal intelligent person would assume we didn't actually need a taxi. The question of if we wanted a taxi or not continued every ten feet including one "pitch" from a person with no car! Back to the ship. This was overall one of the best ports of call for us.
It takes a few days to think about the overall cruise and make any type of constructive comments. The reality is that although enjoyable, I think we have just about gotten burned out with cruising for a while. One evening we were invited to a "VIP" meeting of prior passengers. It would appear that around 60% had been on a cruise prior. Good for the cruise line and they all appeared to continue with the same cruise line. A great loyalty factor. If we base the number upon 3000+ passengers that's a large lot of loyalty.
The excursions are ok, but many based around enhancing your suntan or some type of water adventure. We live in Santa Barbara so for us it's a bit normal. However if you are in the Mid West I am sure the adventure would be more enhanced.
Facilities on board? The restaurant food was very average. What happened to the word gourmet? The buffets were really very poor. Same options every morning and there seemed a lack of enthusiasm from the servers. The omelet bar was very popular. As they have a myriad of options for inserting everything into ones omelet a good 25 minute wait was expected. I didn't bother. Cabaret very poor. It was nice to get away but as they say, sure nice to get home.