I'm going to warn you right now, this post is photo and text heavy. If you don't feel like reading it, don't...but do look at pictures. They're grand.
I would like to start off by saying that Little Man really was pretty good on our cruise. No, really...he was pretty good. Yes, he got crabby and tired but, honestly, what baby doesn't?
The above photo and the next photo are from the second day of our cruise, September 25th.
We left on Saturday, September 24th out of Madison headed to Ft. Lauderdale, FL (by way of Atlanta, GA). Little Man was quite good on the plane. He didn't much like landing but, then, neither do I. Besides, landing takes ten times longer than take off. We sailed on the Carnival Liberty, leaving out of Miami. We originally booked a regular room that had a balcony. Nothing huge and spectacular...just a room with a bed, TV, and crib for Little Man. About a week before we left, Husband got a call from Carnival asking if we'd like to move up to a grand suite for another $700 (normally, it would have cost another $2000-$2500 to do that). Husband asked what the difference was and the room was bigger with a sitting area (couches, little table), a full balcony, an office type area, a washroom/primping area (just a sink and counter where you could do hair and put on make-up or, in our case, wash bottles), and a full bathroom...with tub. Yeah, the tub did it. I don't know if we'll ever be able to not be in one of those rooms again when we go on a cruise. So much bigger! And a full balcony. And jacuzzi tub! Anyway, we not only were bumped up to the grand suites but we were also made VIP.
So, we left on September 24th from Miami. We headed toward Cozumel, Mexico that day (but we didn't get there until Monday). On the second day, we were going past Cuba and I asked Husband to look out the window and see if he saw any floaty rafts with Cubans headed toward the Florida Keys. I was kidding...you hear about it all the time on TV and such (well, we used to when we had cable). Funnily enough, Husband did see a floaty raft with a bunch of Cubans headed to the Florida coast. Oops.
Anyway, the above picture is from that day. We visited the "Fun Shops" on board and I showed Little Man all sorts of stuffed animals that were on sale: a dolphin, clown fish, the Carnival mascot...and then Husband showed him the bear. He grabbed it and basically wouldn't let it go. So, we bought Little Man "Liberty Bear" and it's his new friend. I think Tigger is jealous.
Anyway......some random photos of the ship before I get back to our regularly scheduled programming.
Husband took the above photo. The big black thing toward the top is a HUGE television. You could sit in the pools (the one in front and there was one behind Husband) and watch whatever movie they had on. I know one night we sat outside and watched part of one of the Scooby Doo movies and Husband sat outside one night and watched The Green Hornet.
The above photo was taken from the 6th or 7th floor down to the 3rd floor near the main elevators. It was actually really neat to look at. Little Man loved the lights and they changed color every so often.
But, now, back to my story...so, we left on Saturday from Miami. We had assigned seating in the Golden Dining Room. It was just the three of us at our table and next to us was a family from New Jersey. Now, I'm not against people from New Jersey unless they're assholes (pardon my perfect English).....and these people were assholes. Little Man was crabby. Big traveling day, new place, lots of people, lots of noise, weird naps, ears popping, etc...who wouldn't be crabby? So, he was crabby throughout dinner. The assholes from New Jersey tried to have us kicked out of the dining room (we didn't find this out until our last day there when we got talking to the head waiter). Carnival told them, in short: they're VIP, we're family-friendly, and if you don't like it, you're not welcome here. They moved them a few tables away and put people near us that were "grandparents"...and they all offered to hold Little Man when he was being a pill during dinner so we could eat. Good fun.
Anyway, we had a "Fun Day at Sea" on Sunday while we traveled to Cozumel, Mexico. When we got to Cozumel, we got off the boat but we really didn't do much. Husband wanted to see if he could find some good cigars (not necessarily Cuban cigars - but, then, we couldn't bring those into the country anyway...but something better than the crap around here). I think we picked up a couple of shirts for Little Man and Husband got his cigars.
I just don't really care for Mexico. My grandparents went every year to Puerto Vallarta (on the west coast of Mexico) and I went with them once and it was okay...tourist area so most everyone speaks English but I wasn't overly impressed. We stopped in Ensenada on our honeymoon cruise and it was the same deal: not very impressed. It was hot, humid, and.....well, I don't know. It just wasn't pleasant.
This was Little Man at dinner with Liberty Bear in tow. Seriously, he loves that bear...
After Cozumel, we had another "Fun Day at Sea" while we traveled to the Cayman Islands. We had a shore excursion while we were in George Town, Grand Cayman Island. We visited The Boatswains Beach Turtle Farm, just outside of George Town in the town of West Bay. It's the only place in the world that breeds and releases Green Sea Turtles (which are endangered, if I remember correctly).
There's a huge breeding pond where they have a lot of turtles. They're HUGE and will come right up to you. They can weigh in the neighborhood of 500+ lbs but they're they gentlest things. There's a tank elsewhere where they have these little turtles but they're mean and people are told not to go near them.
These are some of the turtles in the breeding pond. They will come right up to you.
One of the coolest things we got to do was hold some of the newborn green sea turtles. The ones we were holding were somewhere between 1-3 weeks old.
Little Man was very interested in the turtles. He's never seen anything like them before so he wanted to to touch them (which I did allow while I was holding it - I didn't allow him to hold one for good reason but he could touch).
After the tour, we had lunch on site (buffet style - burgers, fries, etc.) and we were allowed to view the rest of the park.
After we had lunch, we got dressed and went swimming with the turtles. Yes, you can actually go swimming with these huge turtles. Like I said, they're gentle. Husband snorkeled a bit further out in the pond and Little Man and I stayed closer to the shore. One of the turtles actually came up onto the sand not far from where we were. I, of course, didn't have my camera in the water...oh well. Little Man loved it.
This is after we went swimming and visited the shop. Please notice the turtle he has in his stroller. They had one that was the size of our bed and if I could have figured out a way to get it home, I would have bought it. But, this one sufficed. We held out a few different kinds and this is the one he grabbed.
We also had an opportunity to have fresh coconut on site. Now, the coconut we get here is usually a brown shell that is...hairy and takes a sledge hammer to open. The milk is kind of...boring, I guess, and the coconut meat is fairly dry. This stuff.......well, I'll be honest, I actually prefer the stuff we get here, except the milk. Fresh coconut milk is grand. Fresh coconut meat, on the other hand, resembles snot and is kind of awkward to eat. But, whatever. We gave Little Man a teeny bit of coconut milk (it's a diuretic, after all) and he promptly fell asleep. It was a big day for him.
That same night, Wednesday, September 28th, we had dinner in the "fancy" steakhouse. We were a little worried because dinner hadn't been going so well with him. He was much better after the first night but it still wasn't the best thing. Luckily....
He basically slept all through dinner. When he was awake, he charmed our waitress to no end. She even let him "ba-ba" her lips. I don't really know how to explain what that is...Anyway, she let him do that to her, which we were just amazed with. The hostess from our dining room actually came upstairs to check on us (without letting us know she was checking on us). She came in and talked to the hostess in the steakhouse and indicated toward us. Our chef came to talk to us (and no one else in the place). It was a nice experience, actually. Oh, and did I mention that dessert was to die for? I didn't....wow...I'm lame. Dessert all over the place was to die for!
On Thursday, we docked in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. Husband and I dropped Little Man off at Camp Carnival (i.e., daycare) for a couple of hours and got off the boat. We were just going to wander around but those cabbies can be so so so pushy and we wound up taking an hour tour of Ocho Rios via cab.
This was the view of our ship from up on the hillside.
This is of Ocho Rios from the same hillside.
This is one of the many "rios" in Ocho Rios. Okay, really, there are eight (ocho) rivers (rios) in Ocho Rios. Hence the name...
Apparently, this is the beach to visit...but we didn't visit the beach except to photograph it.
Yes, that's me...sweating my proverbial ass off in the heat of the West Indies. It was so friggin' hot outside.
After our tour of Ocho Rios, we went back to pick up Little Man before our grand adventure of finding jerk chicken for Husband. I'm not a fan of spicy food...especially really spicy food like jerk anything. But, we found Husband some jerk chicken and I had a chicken stew of some sort...aside from a couple of random bones, it was quite good.
And Ting. I love Ting. It's a grapefruit soda that's made by Pepsi Co. in Jamaica. Luckily, for me, Woodman's in Madison has it...but, it's better in Jamaica :)
We had another "Fun Day at Sea" while we booked it back to Miami...and we were booking! While on this trip, we actually went around Cuba entirely. How weird is that? We can't trade with this country because of the trade embargo but we can circumnavigate it...weird.
A few other things happened while we were on our trip that are entertaining to note. One of the nights, they had about twenty different backdrops set up for photos and you could go along and have photos taken. You're not obligated to buy any of them but you can have a bunch taken. We visited about ten different backdrops and had family photos taken. Each backdrop had anywhere from 3-8 pictures taken...so, at most, we had about eighty photos to choose from (although, in reality, I think we had about fifty to choose from). We purchased four.
Did you see Little Man's shit-eating grin? Yeah, he gets that from me :)
So, those are the two "family" photos we purchased. And then there were these...
Little Man was very interested in the camera and, instead of sitting nicely, he decided to try crawling toward the camera. The result was quite adorable.
And this one, complete with drool...he's so stinkin' cute. This is the first "professional" photo we've had taken of him. How can you not love that face?!
So, we had a grand trip...Little Man flirted with everyone and just about everyone was in love with him (except those assholes from New Jersey).
Interesting things that happened: we had VIP status. Our check in took all of five minutes. We didn't have to wait in lines to get on the ship. We had the head waiter in our dining room. The hostess checked on us because of Little Man's metabolic disorder. The head Maitre' d came to visit our table (and two other tables near us). When we were at the steakhouse, the hostess came to check on us. We found out from the aforementioned head waiter that he was instructed to take extremely good care of us. When he met us, he was a bit confused...we're not the type that they're normally instructed to overly ass-kiss. After talking to Husband, they figured that it was because Carnival was investing in us...second cruise in two years, bringing the kids, etc. Yeah...
And then there were these...