I started this post a ways back and realized it was still sitting in my draft folder. Since we can’t get out and get anywhere just now I thought I would finish this one off and post it.
Just before the Christmas holiday B and I went on a cruise. It was our third cruise although this time we went on a different cruise line, MSC. We went with our friends who we went to Cuba with a few years ago.
Our flight to Miami from Seattle was a LONG day with a layover in Houston. Our friends Jim & Christine picked us up at the airport and we stayed with them in their condo that night where we met two others in our group, Peter & Melinda.
Sunday we grabbed an Uber with Peter & Melinda from our condo to the cruise terminal and arrived on the ship around noon. As you get on to the ship you arrive on a shopping level [five?] with this amazing ceiling above you. The dome changed photos throughout the day. They even had a “dome show” where they had different iconic ceilings from around the world change to music. It was pretty cool!
Getting on board didn’t take too long and we headed to the nearest bar for an old fashioned – shaken. Was not expecting that and all of the pulp. The next time I went to that bar I asked for it stirred and that bar tender never forgot from then on.
Monday was a day at sea where we enjoyed the pool and water slides and a Cirque de Soleil show. I have seen several Cirque shows and this one did not disappoint! There was not a bad seat in the house and your ticket [extra just like a shore excursion] came with an adult beverage. Sorry, no photos were allowed.
Tuesday was our first stop, Costa Maya, Mexico. Immediately off of the ship we went through a “tourist village”. Multiple places to eat, shop, swim and relax. They even had a Starbucks.
Flamingos just chillin!
Beautiful bougainvillea all around.
Our guide dropped us off at the lighthouse in Mahahual for a cache. I have to say it was not very safe. B & our friend Christine ventured out to get it. IT was in the middle of an island roundabout.
We grabbed a cab and after some interpretation and being taken for a ride [literally] we paid the cab driver more than we agreed to for him to drop us at the Tropicante bar for another Geocache. We enjoyed a beer on the beach and then grabbed another cab back to the cruise terminal.
Wednesday was our second port of call, Belize City, Belize. We had to take a tender in to the port and again there was a “tourist village”.
After taking some photos we quickly moved through the shops and met our guide for our trip to a second Mayan ruin called Altun Ha. After hiking up Chacchoben the day before I elected to stay on the ground. At one point the sun was getting to me and I opted to sit on a small hill under an Allspice tree and let the breeze wash over me. It was so peaceful!
Below our group at the top of the Sun pyramid.
This is a Jaguar built in to the sun pyramid.
Included in our tour was lunch at a local place called The Road House Restaurant. They do not have a website and I cannot find them online. It was literally a stop on the highway between Belize City and Altun Ha. Lunch was chicken, beans and rice. The flavor was really excellent. After we were full we headed back to Belize City with a little tour of town. Our guide dropped us off and B, Rob & I headed out to do some Geocaching.
After a full day playing tourist and my what felt like 30th request to have my hair braided I decided to call it a day and head back to the ship for a nap. B & Rob stayed in town for a while longer.
Thursday was our third stop at the island of Roatan, Honduras. There are two ports on Roatan. We were supposed to be at Coxen Hole but there was already another ship there and we received special permission to dock at Mahogany Bay which is Carnival’s private dock on the island. It was much nicer and again included another “tourist village”. This one was pretty large. There were paths through the woods to the swimming area with areas that would mist you as you walked through.
Below is my friend Christine near a piece of art made from recycled garbage.
We located a Geocache and then we were on our way to meet out tour guide. First stop was the Manawakie Eco Nature Park where we were able to hold a sloth. That is Peter behind me playing with The Big Deal’s claws. He was a seven year old sloth. He was much lighter than I expected and had such a serene smile on his face. And yes, he is SLOW!
The claws on sloths are crazy long and sharp!
And play with capuchin monkeys who were very cute but also got in to everything! This one managed to get the snaps on B’s pants undone and tried to pull items from his pocket.
Our driver took us to our next stop the Roatan Rum Company where we sampled rum cake and seven flavors of rum. B purchased a bottle. This is also the highest point on Roatan at 900 feet above sea level.
Second photo of B in front of angel wings. Below a Jellyfish. If you look closely you can see faded Coca~Cola bottles.
We continued on to the Jungle Top Restaurant. They also have a zipline facility. B and I shared a plate of Iguana which was the special of the day. It tasted like chicken but with a lot more bones like fish.
Friday was another day at sea and a second Cirque de Soleil show but due to rougher seas it was canceled.
Saturday we arrived at Ocean Cay, MSC’s private island. We paid for and shared a cabana between the seven of us and it was SO worth it! The building behind our cabana was the bar. It took quite a while to get here from the main part of the island.
I settled in with my book and a fruity adult beveridge.
This was my kind of beach day! It was a bit breezy but a perfect temperature.
The ship is rather large and kind of dwarfs the island. The lagoon is between the ship and where our cabana was.
We were the second ship on the island and they definingly have some kinks to work out. Only one place to get food which is at least a twenty minute walk from our cabana. Long lines and they ran out of items.
We returned to the ship for a nap, a shower and some food and then back to the island for a parade and fireworks show.
Sunday we were back in Miami and headed home to Seattle with another LOOONG travel day. We did manage to get Geocaches in three cities in the same day. A virtual in Miami, an earth in the Denver airport and another virtual in the Seattle airport.
- While the western Caribbean was not high on my bucket list I enjoyed the cruise. My absolute favorite was Roatan and the adorable Sloths and Capuchen monkeys!
- The beverage package we signed up for ahead of time did not give us much options for adult beverages we would enjoy so we upgraded when we got on board after we tried to order a drink that was not covered. I prefer the price of the beverage package on Norwegian. Their beverage package was at least double that of Norwegian. Same as on the Alaska cruise, when in port they do charge you tax.
- Upon entering the ship you are inundated with people trying to upsell you on everything. Upgrading you, shore excursions, tickets to the Cirque show, fine dining, you name it. I was not a big fan of that. It did taper off as the week went on.
- We did not get a dining package and had a set time at a set table in a set restaurant for dinner each night. Our entire group was at that table. Norwegian has what they call Freestyle dining which I liked much better. I did have sushi one night and B and I splurged on a yummy crepe dessert.
- My Away luggage served its purpose but it was almost too small for the trip and I may consider a larger one for B and I to share along with our carry on’s as we are planning on going on a two week Mediterranean cruise in 2021.
- We did bring cards and a travel cribbage board but did not end up playing. The book I brought I read a bit on board but mostly on the island on the last day of the cruise and the airplane.
- We flew United – just NO! The only positive was the free on board movies.
- We booked shore excursions through our friends we traveled with [they are travel agents] through Trip Advisor. That enabled us to do an excursion in every port because pricing was so much better and in two of the three it was just our group. B did meet a new friend in Costa Maya who was in our group. Much better than a large bus with 100 of your closest fiends. In Costa Maya & Belize we made it to the Mayan ruins before the large tour busses and had the places almost to ourselves.
- As with Norwegian your “currency” is your room card. You use it at every meal and with every beverage or duty free purchase or activity [go kart’s, shows, gambling, art auctions, etc.]. The cruise line holds a credit card on file and it is run at the end of the trip. In our case we were able to view our balance whenever we wanted on the TV in our room. I brought along a wristlet to keep my room card, phone and chapstick in while on board.
- We did have the Wifi package. It took a bit of time to get it working correctly and after a few days I got the hang of it. We did not use up all of our “minutes”. We still had to be old school about meeting up. MSC does have an app that you can “text” people in but you need to add friends and isn’t kind of a hassle and doesn’t always work right. Sometimes the message would come in a couple hours after it was sent.
- I really enjoyed the shows on board and we went to one every night.
Have you ever cruised before?