Friday, July 6, 2012

A Christmas Vacation...Cruise Style! Part 1

The gang's all here and waiting on our shuttle to the cruise terminal!
Christmas and a Cruise! Many of you may think of Christmas with the Griswold's or some other tacky and terribly movie that depicts a family vacation gone wrong, but thankfully for us our family vacation was great! Well, it was! Almost... Except, on Christmas Day, when we started our trip to the cruise terminal in Tampa, Florida where we had to get on the cruise ship the following day. There were a total of seven of us in our group so we had to take two vehicles since all of our luggage would not fit into one vehicle. Well, wouldn't you know it, we got all the way to Tallahassee, Fl, about halfway. At this point Leon looks over at Chris, out of the blue, and asks, "Hey Chris, do you have your passport?" Chris replies "Nope. I left it in my car back in Troy." If you know my brother, I think he's joking, unfortunately, he was NOT!!!! In the haste and confusion of the day, when we dropped off his car at his apartment in Troy and got into my vehicle he completely forgot about his passport, THE most import piece of information for this trip, considering we are going on a cruise that will take us to three other countries (Mexico, Belize, Honduras). So what do we do? I get out of the car and get into the other car with my parents, sister and sister's friend, Carissa and we continue on to Tampa and arrive around 10:30 p.m. Leon and Chris turn around and head back to Alabama. Chris, thankfully, was able to get in touch with a friend in Troy, on Christmas evening, who went to his car (the window was broken at the time and taped shut, lucky Chris) and got the passport. Chris' friend drove to the Alabama/Florida state line and met Chris and Leon with the passport. Now that is a great friend! Needless to say, they didn't make it to Tampa until around 3:30 a.m. They were extremely tired but thankfully we all made it onto the cruise ship the next morning without any issues.

The first day on the cruise ship we spent exploring the massive boat and finding our way around. Since there were seven of us in our group we opted for the floating dinner time so we didn't have to be ready for dinner at a specific time every night. This worked great and we could take our time and not be rushed each day, but we were all still able to eat dinner together each night. In case you're wondering how the room accommodations worked out with seven of us, my parents had their own room with my sister, Catherine and Carissa in an adjoining room next to them. Leon and I shared a room with Chris, which was very entertaining.
The second day on the boat was spent at sea traveling to Costa Maya, Mexico. The weather through out the cruise was great this time of year and very enjoyable will we were cruising.
It was 8:00 a.m. which was really 7:00 a.m. our time.

On day three we woke up early and docked in Costa Maya, Mexico and set off for our Chacchoben Mayan Ruin Tour. Here is where we ended up with a slight communication melt down. Since our rooms were not on the same floor we had all agreed to meet up on the dock at 8:00 a.m. since our excursion started board the buses at 8:15 a.m. Well, wouldn't you know it, Leon, Chris and myself were all ready to go and on the dock at 8:00  like we agreed to do, however, the rest of our family was no where to be found. We waited until 8:15 but when they started to load the buses we didn't want to miss our excursion so we got on the first bus and off we went. Little did we know there were actually five other buses being loaded for the Mayan Ruins Tour as well, so thankfully everyone else was on the bus right behind us. Unfortunately, we had no cell phone service and didn't know this until we were nearly done with the excursion and finally saw the rest of the family in one of the tour groups behind us. We still had a great time and I really enjoyed the tour of the Chacchoben Ruins. And in case you're wondering, no one knows (still) what ever happen to all the Mayans but what remains of their cities are a beautiful site to see!
           Chris did happen to see the rest of our family about half-way through our tour and we all agreed to meet up at Senor Frogs when we got back from our tours, however, when we got back it was pouring down rain, so needless to say, that didn't happen. Senor Frogs was right outside the gates to the port so that meant you would have to get rained on. Well, Leon, Chris and I didn't want the typical tourist food offered inside the gated area so we asked a local guy at the taxi stand where to get good, authentic local food and he recommend a place called "100% Aguave" or "Fernando's" by the locals. This place isn't anything fancy, we're talking sand on the floor and palm leaves for a roof, but the food was delicious! As soon as we walked in and sat down we were greeted by a friendly waiter who thankfully spoke English because our Spanish was not so great (or non-existent for me, I took French in high school). He greeted us each with a shot of tequila which was THE best tequila I have ever had (and I don't like tequila! Let's just say this was the start of a three hour lunch break. The three of us ordered a delicious trio of dips and chips that were all very fresh and enjoyed a wonderful lunch of fresh grilled chicken, rice, veggies, black bean, mole, much more tequila and some local beers. We even made some friends while we were there. Another young couple walked in while we were there enjoying lunch and I invited them to join us. They were actually from Mexico City and were in Costa Maya visiting friends while they were traveling to Belize on vacation. Andrea and Arturo were so much fun to hang out with and it was really nice to have a local's perspective. They even gave us a ride back to the cruise terminal and we keep in touch with them over Facebook. Our food was so good I forgot to take pictures but I did find some reviews of  Fernando's online in case you're interested and there were a some pictures there Here are several pictures of us at Fernando's enjoying ourselves and having fun with our new friends!

Waiting on lunch at Fernando's.

Leon had to try the Leon Beer!

So glad the conversion rate is good!
This included the food for three of us
and we bought our friends a few shots too.
The gang's all here!

We made it back to the ship with plenty of time to spare thanks to our friends! We went back to the room to rest for a little while before heading off to dinner later that evening.

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