Saturday, October 16, 2010

Cruisin' together

Kevin and I got back today from a five day cruise. The girls spent the week in Tyler with my parents, while Kevin and I enjoyed cruising on the Carnival Ecstasy out of Galveston. Hurricane Paula changed our intenerary from Progresso and Cozumel to Veracruz, but as long as we could lay around on the deck doing nothing, it didn't dampen our plans too much.

Sunday, (10/10/10), we wished Caroline a happy birthday and I met up with my parents to drop off the girls. Kevin and I spent the rest of the day getting the house in order and packing.

Monday, (10/11/10), we got up, finished packing, stopped off at Wal-mart to pick up a hat for Kevin and McDonalds for breakfast, and headed to Galveston. We got all checked in and were boarding the ship by noon.

Kevin is sitting in our fake window. We intentionally picked an interior room because it's always so dark in the morning and you have no concept of the time. Oddly enough, we were up and going by 8 o'clock each day.

After dropping our stuff and hitting the buffet, we sat on the back of the boat until we cruised out of port. Actually, I think we took a nap in there somewhere. Storm clouds were coming in and it drizzled a bit as we pulled out. See how the sky is half blue and half grey. The back of the boat was our favorite place because the deck chairs had cushions and it was adults only - aptly named, "Serenity." Oh, and it had a huge overhang for shade. By the end of the trip, we were so comfortable that we'd pull lounge chairs up into the shade for ourselves.

The main atrium was really pretty. The teal lights cycled through an entire rainbow of colors if you stood there long enough.

Tuesday, (10/12/10), was a full day at sea. We spent a lot of time reading and then got dressed up fancy for the formal night.

We really enjoyed the company of the two couples at our dinner table. Tyson and Hayden celebrated their first anniversary on the first night of the cruise.

Tim and Brandy celebrated three years together on the second evening.

We enjoyed getting to know them. There were two other couples assigned to our table but they only joined us on one evening. I guess the formal dining room wasn't their thing.

Wednesday, (10/13/10), we visited our surprise port of Veracruz, Mexico. One of the ship comedians referred to it as the Galveston of Mexico, and thats a pretty good description. It's indurstry on one side and town and hotels on the other.

Veracruz doesn't get cruise ship traffic unless the ships are avoiding a hurricane, so we had made the front page of the paper and the kids had all been let out of school early to come see the ship. The town was very friendly and welcoming, despite the presence of some very militant looking police officers and these odd, machine gun statues that stood outside of the public buildings by the pier.

The only excursions offered by the cruise line were tours of the city for $55. We decided to pass on that and just walk around. But, we found our own bus tour for $5 and enjoyed touring the city on the top deck of the bus.
It was really neat to see the old architecture of the town.

The town squares were really pretty too, with their tree trunks painted white. It made the area look so crisp and clean.

There was part of an old fort in the middle of the town. It seems a bit too far inland to be of much protection from the sea, but since the tour guide was only giving us tid bits of information in English, we have no idea of it's entire history.

I think the most interesting observation about touring another country, it finding all the things that we have in common like Dominos Pizza, Costco, Office Depot, and Burger King. The entire bus let out a little cheer when we saw a Super Wal-mart. It's so interesting how we go on vacation to find new things and here we are reveling in the familiar.

Here we are on the way back from the farthest part of the tour. We could see the cruise ship clear down the coast.

After the bus tour, we had lunch on the ship and then got off again to shop a little. We bought some vanilla and then t-shirts for the girls (they have a monkey on them with an extra flap so he opens his mouth - Kevin picked them out). Then we took advantage of the empty ship and had our turn riding the water slides and doing more lounging and reading.

Oh, and enjoying an icy beverage.

A lot of the town came to see us off as we pulled out of port and headed back towards Galveston at a snails pace. We took two days to travel the distance that only took one day on the way.
Thursday, (10/14/10), another day of lounging around and reading. Kevin and I both got a little sun on the top deck of our bus tour so we tried to stay in the shade.

Each night at dinner, they would play music and the waiters would perform a song. It was really festive and all the guests would twirl their napkins as the staff paraded about.

Friday, (10/15/10), after eating big all week, we are finally slowing down. We had a small breakfast from the buffet today. Then more lounging and reading. We lounged in three different places. We aren't much for all the craziness around the pool. In fact, we never even got in the pool. Just the hot tub at Serenity and the water slide.

I was so excited to read two entire books on the voyage. I read Stuff Christians Like, which had me laughing out loud, and The Puzzle King (which I finished on the drive back to Houston). I knew that if I didn't finish, it would be forever before I'd pick them up again. I'm so proud to have finished two grown up books.

Saturday, (10/16/10) we had a light breakfast before getting off the ship at 8:30. I guess it was all those Warm Chocolate Melting Cakes that I had for dessert each night, but I still feel stuffed.

It was such a good trip. Just a good time for relaxing and hanging out as a couple. We really didn't care where we went. We just enjoyed being on the ship and having no schedule or set agenda. I hope we don't have to go another five years before we get a week long vacation for just the two of us.