Sunday, May 11, 2014

FUNtastic Cruise

Our last day of cruising was a day at sea.
I have noticed on our previous (and this one) last cruise days, I always want to soak up as much fun as I can. I also have a bad habit of thinking - 'this is my last lunch', 'this is my last walk through the shops', 'this is my last towel animal', 'my last time in the pool', 'my last dinner', 'my last show', 'this is my last ice cream cone'..... and on and on and on.
I can't help it.
Maybe this makes my last full day of vacation a little sadder.
Or maybe it makes me appreciate all the 'lasts' a bit more.
Do you do this on your last day of vacation?
Just me?
Because I don't remember exactly what we did on each individual day, I have decided to lump some of the things we did throughout the entire time we were on our cruise ship.
In addition to watching the two musicals I told you about a few days ago, we also watched a British musical show and another musical show called Epic Rock.
Epic Rock was awesome!
My favorite! In fact, we watched it twice! Two days in a row!
On all our previous cruises, each musical show showed twice in one evening. This seemed like a great idea until this cruise. The Carnival Legend offered each show twice, but they offered an early showing of the show one night and then the next night they offered the same show at a later showing time. This is a much better schedule for me the guest. The night I was too tired to do anything but sleep, I would have missed the show if that was the only night it was offered. Since it was offered on two separate nights, we didn't miss any of the musical shows.
In between exploring different islands and watching musical shows, we also played mini golf, hung out in the pool and hot tub, played cards, laid out in the sun, shopped the stores, took a bunch of pictures of ourselves (mostly me)...
My souvenirs from the ship are two t-shirts ($20) and a porthole picture frame ($20). Two cruises ago I had seen the porthole picture frame and didn't buy it. I regretted that decision. Our third cruise didn't offer the picture frame. This cruise did - for one day.
Our first evening on the ship we were by the pictures and saw the frames. They had 4. I was going to think about purchasing it, but Matt sometimes knows what I want better then I do and he told me I needed to buy it because he didn't want me to complain for another year if I didn't get it. So I did - after inspecting them all for the best. Because I AM that person! The next day when we walked by the pictures, they had the display closed and locked indicating there were no porthole picture frames available. Everyday we walked by the display we saw the same thing. Thank goodness Matt made me buy it the first night! He's right, I would have been sad if I hadn't gotten it.
As for my 2 new shirts, I have a pink one which I eyeballed from the first night and a black Tampa one that is decent.
I really wanted this shirt but they only had 2XL from the first night:
I ended up purchasing a light blue one only to have to exchange it because it was too big. By the time we exchanged it, they only had the Tampa one in my size. (If you buy 1 shirt, it is $17 or you can buy 2 for $20. Might as well always get 2.)
My friend is going on a cruise in October and maybe she will be more successful at finding the 'Keep Calm and Cruise On' shirt for me. :)
We bought one picture from Carnival for $15. Talk about expensive! If they ever lower the prices, maybe we would buy more of them. Just saying. Carnival, take note if you are reading.
Currently, they print every picture and you can either buy them or place them in a bin to be destroyed. Talk about a waste! They spend so much money on developing the pictures that they have to charge too much for you to buy them. I think they should do like Disney World (and many other places I'm sure) and scan your room key before taking any pictures. This would enable you to view your pictures in your room and purchase from there. Thus saving money on photo printing. They could even have a giant VOID across the picture on the TV which would eliminate people taking pictures of there pictures. And this would eliminate theft of the physical pictures as well.
Win/win for Carnival in my opinion.
Overall opinions of the Carnival Legend:
I am absolutely in love with the new 2.0 updates. Great job Carnival!
  • The layout of this particular ship was a bit choppy looking when we first went exploring. But after the first day, Matt and I both decided this was a good thing because no one area ever seemed too crowded. The Serenity deck is for guests 21 and older... a very relaxing oasis. Not only do they have plusher lounge chairs, they also offer hammocks and big circular chairs with a roof-like hangover. Matt and I both enjoyed laying in the hammocks.
  • Our room had a nice cleaning staff. We didn't talk to them as much as previous cleaning crews, but these people did always say 'hi' and 'good morning' when we saw them. The turn down service was always done quickly and nicely. I only have one small complaint about the cleaning staff... they must not have wiped down the hard surfaces inside the room. I could see finger prints on both sides of the doors around the door knobs and prints on the bathroom walls. I am a bit of a germaphobe when it comes to certain things and I felt this was a bit gross. I noticed it on the first day so I know it wasn't from us. I need to pack some Lysol wipes next time.
  • We had wonderful food staff throughout the cruise. In the Lido deck, the busboys who clear the tables were quick and efficient. Our favorite food staff people were in the Pirate Pizza and the Carnival Deli - I ate pizza most days for lunch and Matt ate at the deli. In the main dining room, we had decent wait staff in the beginning. Nothing worth writing home about. But the last two dinners, we sat in a different section with a wonderful wait staff. They were marvelous!
  • Boarding and departing the ship at the beginning and end of the cruise was very quick.
  • We enjoyed each island we explored.
  • Enjoyed wonderful sunrises and sunsets while sitting out on our balcony.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Sights Above and Below Grand Cayman

Reading reviews and forums can save you a bunch of money if you are willing to take the time and do a little research before going on vacation. I cannot stress this enough! Write this tip down if you don’t think you will remember it. I am confident you will thank me. At the very least, your bank account sure will thank you.
For the Grand Cayman Islands, I knew I wanted to find a recommended taxi tour for $20/pp which is similar to the one Carnival offers for around $50/pp and I wanted to snorkel at a nearby diving place which can also be explored on the surface by snorkel. 
Luckily, we were able to do both activities before ending the day with a teeny tiny bit of drama. Let me start at the beginning of the day before I tell you the ending. (How's that for a cliff hanger? Sure sounds like a nail biter to me!)
This particular morning, I woke up in a wonderful mood and feeling great! My calves were feeling MUCH better! The resting must have finally paid off. I imagine eating two bananas a day must have helped out some as well. I was able to walk longer distances without having to take a break. I was thankful they were feeling better because I would have been very disappointed if we hadn’t been able to explore this island. Just to be safe, I did go easy on my calves in case they decided to start cramping on me again. We didn’t actually arrive at the port until 10AM which allowed plenty of time for my calves to get a little more resting time while we lounged around all morning.
On our way to breakfast, before docking, we went through the pool area on deck 9 just like every morning. Only on this morning, we were in for a wonderful surprise....
The staff had placed towel animals EVERYWHERE!
On every lounge chair, all around the pool and on the stage in front of the pool.
It was marvelous to see! I felt like a kid on Christmas morning!
Of course, as luck would have it, I didn’t have my camera on me. Go figure the one time I don’t bring it with me! I immediately turned around to go back to the room to get it before more people woke (it was 7:30AM) and possibly ruin the towel animals. No other ship we have been on has done this display of towel animals. My friend who has been on at least 12 cruises and introduced me to cruising says she has never seen this either. Guess the Carnival legend is special.
In hindsight, I wish I had taken a picture of all the towel animals from deck 10 looking down.
Grand Cayman is another port where you have to take a tendered boat from the ship to the island. This boat ride is less than 5 minutes compared to the 20 minutes in Belize. Not bad at all.
Let me stop for a moment and show you how beautiful and crystal clear this water is -
You can see all the way to the bottom of the ocean!
I think this is the prettiest water I have ever seen!
Once we arrived at the terminal, sure enough, found the $20/pp van tours.
The van tour took us to a town called Hell, Tortuga Rum Cake Factory, and then we had an option of going to a dolphin encounter or to see sea turtles.
On our way to the town called Hell, we drove by the governor's house and the Homestead house which is the oldest house on the main island. Maybe all three of the islands that make the Grand Cayman Islands - I'm not sure now. Neither were too exciting, but I did take pictures of both places. At Hell, we were told we had 15 minutes to look around and shop.
Matt and I went straight to the rock formations at the back of the place.
We took a few pictures then headed to the shopping area. We avoided everyone by doing these tasks in this order. Seemed like everyone wanted to shop first then see the rock formations. This is definitely a tourist trap and I can't imagine anyone wanting to spend more than 15 minutes here. Our tour guy stated the #1 reason why you should come here at least once if you are ever in the area - 'If someone tells you to go to Hell, you can now tell them you have already been there and back'. Ha ha ha!!! For some reason, I thought that was hilarious!!!
(No, the actual eternal place of Hell is NOT somewhere I EVER want to go!!!)
Our next 15 minute stop was to the Tortuga Rum Cake Factory. Calling this place a factory is a joke. We didn’t see any factory. I'm not sure they even produce the run cake there; I didn’t see any evidence of a factory. They offered free samples of rum cake and the rest of the place consisted of items for purchase - rum cake, alcohol, soda and souvenirs. The only redeeming aspect of this place was its location on the ocean. While here we also saw some giant lizards and neat looking birds. Not worth the stop in my opinion.
Next up, our choice of seeing dolphins or sea turtles. These 2 places were located right across the street from each other and we were told we had 25 minutes to explore. If we chose to see the sea turtles, we had to pay $10/pp admission. Matt and I decided to skip the sea turtles this visit since we had swam in the ocean with them in Barbados last cruise and didn’t feel like spending the money to see them for only 25 minutes. When we come to this port again, I want to see them at my leisure with no time limit. I hear you can swim with them AND hold them! Sounds awesome!
The dolphin encounter was great! It's free to enter and you can stay as long as you want. The only annoying part was a man who kept walking by trying to sell pictures of us with a dolphin. For about 10 or 15 minutes, I watched the dolphins in amazement and snapped about 100 pictures. I knew the majority of them would be deleted, but I wanted to make sure some were worth cropping and keeping.
Matt kept asking me if I wanted my picture with a dolphin and I kept refusing. I didn’t want to spend the money (they have several different packages available). Somehow, Matt convinced me to do it. For $30, we bought a 8x10 picture of a dolphin kissing me while Matt was behind me.
I asked a couple on our tour if they would snap a few pictures with my camera of us doing this and they agreed. The lady actually captured a few good ones of us walking to the dolphin and then back from the dolphin.
As for the experience, after we paid, we followed the photographer to put on life jackets and were given a long verbal list of what we were going to do and what the rules were. We then went to the dolphin of his choice - one far away from the lady with my camera taking pictures. The handler came out and placed a mat down for me to kneel on and I leaned in, got kissed and the picture was taken. You get one chance according to the photographer. One snap of the camera. Meaning, you better not be blinking when he takes the photo or else you are stuck with it. (You pay before the picture is taken.) I think this rule is dumb - he used a digital camera that wirelessly sent the photo to a computer to be printed. It's not like it would have cost them anything extra to take a second photo if needed. Mostly because of this, we decided to keep our sunglasses on for this picture.
Matt doesn’t like his picture on my blog so sadly, you don’t get to see it.
This was the end of the tour. On the way back to the ship terminal, we stopped at a beach to let off the people who wanted to stay there. Before boarding the ship, we walked around looking for Wi-Fi. Found a spot where people were on free Wi-Fi but Matt was never able to connect and we were hungry.
As we are standing here, a lady was going around offering the tour we had just been on.... well I guess since it was later in the day, prices for the tour dropped to $10/pp. Dang! Could have saved $20! LOL!
After lunch on the ship, we went back out to snorkel at a within walking distance place called Eden Rock Diving Center. When we left the gates of the terminal we turned left to walk the 15 minutes to the location. We stopped and got a shirt for my step-dad (he babysat Wyatt) and stopped at another store for my favorite candy bar (that I haven't had since my last cruise) and a bottle of water.
Here we rented a locker for $5 plus a $10 deposit that we received back when we turned in our key. I felt much more relaxed having our stuff locked up while we weren't near it. Especially once the guy showed us how far out into the ocean we had to swim in order to get to the area where the good snorkeling was. At this spot, the water is about 55 feet deep.
I won't lie to you, I was a little nervous. In the end, I had nothing to be worried about. Everything was perfect the entire time. And can you believe we could see all the way down the 55 feet to the bottom of the ocean? Does that tell you how clear the water is?
It should!
It is absolutely amazing!
Both Matt and I feel the best snorkeling we have done is in St. Lucia, but this place was nice in its own way. I was just surprised we didn’t encounter more fish and other water creatures then we did. I was a little disappointed in this aspect. You would think deeper water would house more fish.
Because we don’t have a waterproof watch (we will be buying one before next cruise), we had no idea what time it was until we got out of the ocean and retrieved our stuff from the locker. Matt's phone claimed it was 4PM ship time since it had remained on airplane mode.
We changed and then started the walk back to the ship. We noticed we barely saw anyone around us which seemed odd since we had passed so many people on the way here. We picked up our pace and made it back to the terminal in record time - good thing my calves were no longer in pain! Hardly anyone was in the terminal and all the stores were closed. Yikes! I asked a Carnival crew member the time and he said 5:20PM. Ahhhh!!!!
The last tendered ship was suppose to leave at 5PM and the ship was leaving at 6PM!!!
I couldn’t believe how late we were! Matt's phone must have switched from ship time (Eastern) to local time (Central) while we were on our tour or maybe even before then.
Thankfully, they had one last tendered boat for people like us -about 12 people - and we made it back to the ship. I can only assume this happens often. don’t know what we would have done if we had been left. Actually, I do know one of the things I would have done. I would have cried and cried.
I am very thankfully this didn’t happen to us!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Missed Out On Mahogany Bay

I had big plans for Mahogany Bay, Isla Roatan - I had grand plans of walking to the Carnival owned beach and snorkeling right there followed by some laying out on the sand soaking up the sun in an attempt to get a tan. It would have been free and people have reported if you go to the right spot, you can actually see some decent stuff below the water.
We could have swam, laid out, went to the ship for lunch, then walk around and check out the nearby scenery.
Ya, that didn't happen.
Due to my 'injury' in Belize, these plans were spoiled.
Completely ruined!
I was bummed about it. Very bummed if I'm being honest. I can't tell you if Matt was or not. He either really was okay with it or he is really good at acting like it was all okay and he didn’t blame me for missing this port. I probably beat myself up enough for the both of us.
That morning I had told Matt I felt much better. At least I thought I was feeling mostly better. You know, if I walked slowly and only walked on flat surfaces. I had no real issues walking to breakfast - slow and steady was my motto. I thought my 12 hours of sleep and water guzzling had paid off.
Sadly, I was WAY wrong!
But because I am stubborn sometimes, I had to learn this the hard way. Shocker, huh?
We loaded up our beach towels and snorkel gear into my book bag and headed out. I barely traveled any distance before I told Matt we had to stop and give my calves a small break. I should have just turned around then. Matt even suggested it. I refused. Remember, I am stubborn.
I wanted so badly to go to the beach and hangout there instead of in our room. My calves, on the other hand, had other plans. 
We walked a little further where I took my one and only picture off the ship.
I should have asked someone to take our picture next to it.
We continued on towards the beach about 1/3 of the way (at least this is how it appeared from our balcony on the ship) when I had to stop for a long period of time because I was in too much pain. After about 15 minutes of sitting there I was forced to admit to Matt there was no way I could travel the remaining distance to the beach. Even if I did make it to the beach, I wouldn’t have been able to enjoy swimming in the ocean. And the thought of making the return trip back to the ship was more daunting then I cared to admit.
Eventually, we did return to the ship after a slow walk with several breaks in between.
What a disappointment!
So yes, I can say I have been here, but I don’t think it really counts since we didn’t actually view anything or do anything.
Our entire day we mostly relaxed in the room watching TV and sitting out on our balcony. We did get out later in the evening and do some fun activities on the ship - I'll blog about all that later.
Not nearly as much fun as we could of potentially had. :(
I did take a few pictures from our balcony:
See the beach we would have walked to on the far right? We would have came in from the left - the first picture shows this best. Glad we were on the side of the ship facing the land!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Xunantunich Mayan Ruins in Belize

Prior to coming here, everyone kept telling me this is a third world country. I disagree. It looks like every other country/island we have been to in the Caribbean. Yes, not exactly like us, but they still have everything we are used to here in the United States. There have been several places in the Caribbean we have been to that appear worse than this country. Not sure why many people have this opinion. I should have taken more pictures of the scenery to show those people what it really looks like in Belize.
They speak perfect English just like us, wear the same clothes as us, eat mostly the same food as us and drive our same cars. Exact cars - they drive to the US and then drive the 2 or 3 days back to Belize with them. In fact, our tour guide said that's where are bus for the day came from and our driver is one of the guys who drives cars from the US to here.
Matt and I decided for this stop, we wanted to see the Xunantunich Mayan Ruins. This was going to be a 7-hour excursion with lunch included. The price was $89.99/pp. Expensive, yes, but we never do expensive excursions and we figured we might as well splurge in order to fully experience everything we think we will enjoy. By booking through Carnival, we were guaranteed the first tender to the port (and the ship wouldn't leave us if we were late coming back) so everyone who had an early morning tour all meet in the theater 30 minutes prior to departure and were given different colored and numbered stickers based on which tour they were going on. I think this was a good idea for making everything run a bit more smoothly.
When we arrived at the port pier from the tendered boat, we were walked to air conditioned charter buses. They broke us into 3 smaller groups which made our group consist of 39 people. Our tour guide was Melissa. Our bus had a separate driver which was wonderful because this allowed Melissa to talk to us the entire 2 hours to the ruins instead of being distracted by the road. She told us all about the history and current conditions of Belize.
Very fascinating! I greatly enjoyed this part while watching the scenery of the country go by! Matt didn't. I guess he would have preferred to sit in silence. LOL!
I especially (among several others things) liked learning that they have satellite TV there - Direct TV in fact. The exact TV service we have which we pay roughly $100 for the lowest package they offer with whole home DVR. Wanna know what they pay in Belize?
They pay $22.99.
Yep, you read that correctly.
Can you believe that?
This price includes all the channels.
Every single channel. All movie channels - she specifically listed them all for us.
They also get all the pay-per-view movies. For free. She explained to us that's how people in Belize know everything we in America like to do, where we shop and where we eat. She told us if we look around, we won't see any fast food restaurants from home since their country is more established by Asian countries. This means if they want our Burger King or McDonald's, they travel the 70 miles or whatever it is to Mexico. Isn't that crazy? You should have heard her talking about all this. She was very animated. :)
But sure enough, I didn't see any restaurants or stores I recognize from the US - we did see several oriental places though.
After driving the 2 hours to the Mayan Ruins area, we exited our bus and walked onto a hand cranked ferry where we met our two Mayan Ruin tour guides.
One of the tour guides for the ruins noticed Matt and I looking at the small fish in the river. He told us they are toothless fish who people use to charge others to eat their dead skin. Sound familiar???
Matt told the guy we just had that experience in Cozumel and we could have saved $60 by coming here first. LOL! Such a funny thought!
Once off the ferry, we boarded vans to the entrance of the Mayan Ruins where we had the opportunity to purchase $1 bottled waters and use the restroom.
Fun fact - we were just two miles from the Guatemala border.
While here, Melissa told us to look up at the 'I forget what they are called and I am too lazy to Google them right now' monkeys in the trees not too far from us.
She told us not to get there attention because they are very territorial and would not like us being as close to them as we were currently. A little scary considering how close they were to us. Luckily, they never woke.
Now, I am going to let the pictures do the talking for me. I took a bunch!
Please note, lots of walking was involved and it was hot.
 Looking down from the largest temple
Looking up at the largest temple
The ruins are beautiful!
Breathtaking looking up at them and breathtaking looking down from atop of the tallest temple! We climbed a small one and the largest -El Castillo.
While at the top of the largest one, I noticed my calves cramping and burning much worse then when we were going up all the steps. Going down the temple was really hurting. Hurting to the point that I sat on my butt and scooted down for some of the steeper steps.
I wanted to cry.
I wanted to quit and take a very long break.
I would have liked a nap in the shade.
None of those options were even options at that point. I had no choice but to continue on the journey.
I cannot express how much pain I was in nor do I really want to try and remember all the details of the pain. To make a long story short, I barely made it off the largest temple and down to the picnic table area. When I made it to the tables, I didn’t even have the energy to get to one. I laid on my back on the cool concrete ground until I could find the energy to sit up. People (mostly older, probably concerned) who did not climb the ruin clapped for me and told me I made it. Commented on how we should all receive a metal for climbing up and down the temples.
I'm sure I was very pathetic looking (and acting) and they were just trying to be nice. Matt kept telling me to get up. I don’t think he realized how much pain I was in.
And since I am not ashamed of what happened (although I'm definitely not exactly proud), here is a picture of me that Matt took after I had sat up.
This was also the last picture taken in Belize
I could barely stand. And I sure the heck couldn't continue walking to where we started our hike. I truly was about to cry. Matt stopped Melissa and asked if we could catch a ride with this white truck who just happened to be heading in our direction to go down the hill and across the way to the entrance. At first, she said no and that she didn’t know them. After Matt explained to her how much pain I was in and how I could barely walk, she must have felt sorry for me because she asked them and they said yes. I was so thankful to these people (they worked there) and to her for asking!
When they dropped us off in the shade at the entrance by the vans, I just sat there. Matt bought me two cold bottles of water and told me to drink. He thinks I was mostly dehydrated and my legs weren't used to going up and down so many stairs.
Not fun at all!
I barely made it to the van, then the walk to the ferry, stand on the ferry while it went across the river, and then the walk from the ferry to the chartered bus and then to my third row seat on the bus. I was miserable.
And then 15 minutes later, I had to get off the bus and walk through a few booths of shopping vendors to get to a seat to eat a local lunch included with the tour.
I ate one bite or chicken and one bite of rice and beans. I didn't like any of it. Matt ate most of his stuff (he did try the Belkin beer decent he said and the hot sauce LOVED and bought 3 per comments on the reviews I read) and my chicken so I at least appeared to have ate some of my food. To be fair, this could have been because I was exhausted and had no appetite for anything. I then had to go pee from all the water I drank which meant I was forced to walk to a nearby restroom and then back to Matt for the slow walk back to my seat on the bus. I felt like I wanted to die. And yes, I know I sound a bit dramatic, but this is all true. I am trying my best to paint the picture for you. If I'm not doing it good enough, just scroll up to the last picture to see how pitiful I really was.
I slept most the 2 hour bus ride back to the pier. I was thankful the return trip involved no talking. When I woke, I had to go pee again. Barely made it to a restroom after departing the bus. I knew I had to go before boarding the tendering boat since the trip is about 20 minutes back to the ship followed by more walking to our room.
Once Matt and I got back on the ship, we ate lunch/dinner on the Lido deck and then I slept. I think I slept the whole evening. I don’t remember doing anything. I felt bad about us missing the evening magic show (Matt enjoys watching magic tricks). He should have went without me.
And that was Belize.
Overall, I had a wonderful experience there. Wonderful tour. I highly recommend going to the Xunantunich Mayan Ruins as long as you are well hydrated and in somewhat good shape. If not, you can still come here, but don’t climb the ruins.
It's not Belize's fault my calves burned from dehydration - just my own.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Made By Hand Chocolate and Flesh Eating Fish in Cozumel

I found a few unique experience for us to checkout while in lively Cozumel, Mexico.
And they did not disappoint!
Prior to cruising, I am always really good about checking out and the forums on Carnival's website for recommendations and reviews on what to do at each port. I like to look for a mix of different/off the beaten path experiences and less expensive options. And I try to find places and things to do unique to the location we are in because, why do something I can easily do at home? 
I planned a visit to a chocolate factory and fish spa for our day in Cozumel.
Both places were definitely off the beaten path.
Our first stop was to Chocolates Koakao which consisted of a 1 hour interactive tour experience - I had pre-paid $23.20 total (plus tip) for 9AM.
We took a $10 taxi (plus tip) from the pier to here. We arrived early and they allowed us to come in and watch a video about the history and presence of chocolate in Mexico until 9 AM. Promptly at 9AM, our tour guide, Ruby, came and got us for the tour.
And guess what?
We were the only 2 people on the tour. How awesome! This made our tour completely personable and a wonderful experience!
Gotta love the off the beaten path experiences!
 Inside the gates
That's our tour guide in the picture
Front of the building before entering gates
The beginning of the tour consisted of about 15 minutes of her telling us what products are in there chocolate and how it is made. We both found this very interesting.
Our next stop was to wash our hands with CHOCOLATE soap. It smelt so yummy! I wanted to eat it!
Notice the conch shell - the water came out of it!
We then went and made chocolate...
The cocoa is grinded once by hand, then again. Something liquid (I cannot remember what for the life of me) was added and then we grinded again. Each time we grinded, she tightened the bolts more and more.
After we had a runny consistency, she added sugar and (I think) something else which I mixed by hand. The chocolate was then flatted onto a wooden surface to be scoured. We then both tried a small taste. It was a bit bitter. She told us this bar is what is used to make hot chocolate. Which we had already learned has a lot of meaning to the Mexican culture in regards to dead.
The finished products are in the large triangular shaped box
After we made and boxed up our chocolate, we went to a tasting and gift shop room where we sampled many different flavors of chocolate. Our favorites were the milk chocolate, white chocolate with coconut and dark chocolate with almond. They even had samples of there chocolate made with Splenda and another made with Steva.
Once we were done here, our tour guide called us a taxi as promised on there website. We took our taxi ($20 plus tip) to our next stop -  Islander Fish Spa at Mr. Sancho's.
Prior to coming here, I made a noon reservation. We got here around 11AM and had no issues getting in but I do want to give you a little more information if you decide to ever come here.
I knew Mr. Sancho's is a paid beach area/club but the section the spa was located at was suppose to be free. Well, when we pulled up and walked to the entrance of the beach, we were asked what we were wanting to do while here. I told the guy we were here to go to the Fish Spa and he proceeded to ask if we had an appointment. Honestly, I don't know why this mattered to him. I can only assume he was going to charge me admission into the area if I didn't. And technically, we did have an appointment so I told him yes. He let us in and told us where to go.
From there, we had no issues finding the place.
They didn't even have a line when we got there. A guy showed us a short 30 second clip of what to expect and then asked us if we were interested in having it done.
Obviously I already knew the answer to this question. We had also already discussed which options we were choosing. We both chose 30 minutes for $30 each (plus tip). I wanted the larger fish and Matt wanted the smaller fish. I had read bigger fish = more tickles and smaller fish = only tingles.
This worked out since they had 2 of these tanks together.
The owner, very nice lady from Texas, took these first 2 pictures of our feet already submerged -
I took this picture looking down prior to placing my feet in the tank.

And this is the view of the fish on my feet.
While having this experience, I mostly talked to the owner and Matt looked at the Internet through the free Wi-Fi which he says was slow.
After the 30 minutes were up, (they keep track with a digital timer) my feet were rubbed with some lotion. Matt skipped this part. can;t say I blame him since it would have been a young teenager boy rubbing him.
Overall, I loved the feeling of the fish on my feet. I liked the tickles. I think even Matt had an enjoyable experience. He thinks 15 minutes for $20 would have been better though.
This is definitely at least a one time must experience.
I was a little disappointed my feet were are still crusty looking though. I wish they would have 'sanded' them down once we were done.
FYI - return taxi to pier was $17 plus tip.
We went on the ship for lunch and then walked around the area by the ship. Found a grocery store where we bought a few drinks and snacks prior to heading back to the ship.
Very enjoyable day! 

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Hello Carnival Legend

Such a beautiful ship she was!
The Carnival Legend did not disappoint. She just had her 2.0 updates which definitely seemed to enhance her.
Sunday - April 27, we boarded a plane for Tampa, FL. We decided to select a ship out of this port since the flights were cheaper. Right now we are still using airline points from our credit card and we are not interested in wasting them. They are very valuable since they save us a bunch of money by making travel almost free. (We paid $10 in taxes or something and another $50 for priority boarding.)
Let me tell you - we have now tried 4 different ports and this has been the fastest one!
I think we were at the port (via taxi $25 plus tip) by 11:50 AM (tip to bag boy) and on the ship by noon after being checked in by a very friendly man.
We went straight to the Lido deck for our first meal. Pirate pizza for me and the regular buffet for Matt. The food was all very delicious! We might of had our first ice cream cone at this point.
After lunch, we explored our home away from home. I enjoy looking in each and every nook and cranny before everywhere gets crowded. This is the perfect time to take pictures around the ship.
Shortly later, maybe around 1PM, our room was ready.

We booked an interior room and then within a week before our cruise, we got a phone call from the upgrade fairy aka Carnival Cruise Line. They offered us an upgrade to a balcony room for $110 more dollars.
We said yes!!!
I had done the math and this was almost a $300 savings over booking the balcony room from the beginning.
We were both very excited about the room change. And the room did not disappoint! We both enjoyed having the balcony. It allowed us more time to hangout in the room. It was nice relaxing on the balcony opposed to hanging out on one of the decks.
Because we are thrifty, I am not sure we will ever book a balcony room to begin with. I can only hope Carnival will always calls us to upgrade at a discounted rate. This is likely since we do enjoy cruising in the off season where there is a chance the ships won't be fully booked.
Moving back to the ship; here are a few pictures I took when we first arrived:
 One of the 3 pools and hot tubs area
 One of the hallways
 Main dinning room
Our ship left Tampa around 4PM.
I had read online that it was worthwhile to watch the ship go under the Sunshine Bridge. I told Matt I did not want to miss seeing our ship barely clear the bridge.
Sounded like a sight I must see!
I had read online that this would occur around 6PM. I would say by 5:45PM we were outside on the top deck waiting along with several other groups of people. 
Here's the bridge in all her glory:
 The front of the ship going under the bridge -
 The back of the ship going under the bridge -
Just barely!
It was fun to watch - definitely a sight to see!
Our first full day of vacation was a sea day. These are relaxing days which allow you to do whatever you want on the boat.
We choose to continue exploring the boat, play Skip-bo and eat until we were stuffed! I know we did other things as well, but I just can't remember everything from over a week ago.
This was also our first formal night.
I wore a dress  (first time since my wedding almost 2 years ago) for a lobster dinner in the main dining room.
We also took a few picture around the ship...
I had bought this dress for our honeymoon cruise but never got the opportunity to wear it. It was our first cruise and we didn’t know they had a formal night. Because we didn’t know this, Matt didn’t have any long pants and you aren't suppose to wear shorts to the dining room on formal night. At the time, we didn’t think we could enter the dining room without the proper attire. We now know, you might get some glances, but they will not turn you away if you aren't 100% dressed correctly.
We saw a Motown musical show and a VIP musical show by our theater crew. They were both very good shows. One of the wonderful things about this ship opposed to our previous ships was the amount of shows. I believe we saw 5 different ones in all. Whereas on our previous ships, they only offered 2 maybe 3 shows by the ship dancers.
The shows are ALWAYS one of the highlights for me.
At one point over the first 2 days, we got a towel animal we had never received before.
Not exactly sure what animal he is, but he is cute.
I had Matt take a bunch of pictures of me with him.