Sunday, April 26, 2015

Belize - Part 4 - Vacation Spring 2015

The next morning, we arrived in Belize.  Since Belize has very shallow waters, it has measures in place to protect the environment.  We had to weigh anchor about 20 minutes from shore and everyone who wanted to get off the boat, would be picked up by another boat.

We had booked an excursion that included snorkeling and a couple hours of leisure at a private island.  We waited in the main theatre for our number to be called, and we went down to Deck 0 and the boat from our tour provider picked us up.
I didn't take any pictures until we were finished snorkelling and arrived at Starfish Island.  I know, I know, next time I will take a few more pictures.  Blogging about all this is making me aware of the things that I wish I had pictures for.

Anyways, snorkelling was pretty good.  I think Tyler enjoyed it more than I did, because he finally had a mask that didn't leak, and knew what he was doing by now.  I tried to enjoy it, since we were on part of the Barrier Reef (the second largest barrier reef aside from Australia).  It was a bit crowded, and the guides kept us all together, so we were swimming on top of everyone else.  I think I've had enough of these "jump off the boat and snorkel" excursions, and I'm ready to try something more calm and solitary, or maybe it's time to learn scuba diving!  It's time for an upgrade!  In any case, we did see quite a few interesting reefs and lots of different varieties of fish.  Since coming home, I saw Journey to the South Pacific on IMAX, and some of the underwater reef video they took was very similar to what we saw, so I guess it was pretty cool.  
In most of my pictures, it looks cloudy and windy, but I can assure you that it was a gorgeous, hot day in Belize.  It was absolutely beautiful.  If it weren't for the stiff breeze and occasional cloud cover, it might have been too hot!  

Starfish Island was by far my favourite part of the day.  This is one of those little islands that you see in the travel magazines.  It was just so cool.  I absolutely loved it!  
There was an outdoor bar with a big thatched roof on top, a buffet set up outside one of the other main buildings, and a small gift shop.  
We started with drinks at the bar, and then wandered around the island before finally settling in on some beach chairs.
I know those clouds look menacing, but I didn't even really notice them until I saw the pictures later!  It was so warm and lovely.  See the hammocks under the thatched roofs?
The trees and mangroves were gorgeous, and unlike anything I had ever seen before.

This is some kind of a funky palm tree.  Isn't it amazing???
We walked out on to the dock to get some better pictures.  See?  Sometimes I get good pictures!

Here we are settled into our loungers.  
I love laying under palm trees.
I rolled up my shorts and ventured out into the water.  It was probably the clearest water I've seen.

All that I have shown you is about all there is to this island.  Pretty cool, hey?
We headed back out to the same boat that took us snorkelling.  Coral Blue.

As I was taking that selfie, a nice man came over and offered to take a real one for us.  Nice!
On the way back to the ship, we had a party.  The rum punch was flowing, the music was pumping, and quite a few people were up on the front of the boat dancing.  What a hoot!  When we got back to the ship, they encouraged us to make everyone else jealous of the fun we were having.  It was a blast.

And lo and behold, as we were waiting for our turn to get closer to the ship, a perfect Kodak moment presented itself, and I got this stunning shot of the ship in all her glory.
Back on board, we had a couple hours before we would set sail, and it was still fairly quiet up on the top decks.  
The entertainment team were having a dance party by the main pool, and these college kids knew all the moves to this particular song.  Thumpin' sound system up here.  They had a DJ and everything.
Wandering around up top is really fun when you're in a new location almost every day.  We were watching the tender boats bring people from Belize City back to our ship, and the Norwegian Dawn.  There were 4 ships all anchored out here, and they were all spaced about this far apart.
The water here is absolutely stunning.

I love this enormous tail fin.  It is so huge, I'm sure this picture doesn't do it justice.  I was in awe of it every time we walked under it.
As we set sail, we had some really nice sunsets, and we passed by some pretty little islands. 
We just stood out by the rails and soaked it all in.  

That night, after supper, we saw the band from the theatre playing in the Ocean Plaza.  They were sooooooo good.  They played Justin Timberlake, John Mayer, Bruno Mars, and some other older favourites.  The horns made them sound totally "big band".  Top notch entertainment.  

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Cozumel, Mexico - Part 3 - Vacation Spring 2015

After one magical fun day at sea, on Tuesday, we docked at Puerta Maya, Cozumel, Mexico.
It was very easy to get on and off the ship.  We went down to deck 1, and we got our cards beeped on our way out, and we walked out onto the pier.  We got a new view of our ship, and it was pretty amazing.
We walked mostly through the "tourist trap", or the area designated for the cruise ship tourists.  Lots of shops, a few restaurants, a beach, etc.  We were pleasantly surprised that it wasn't that busy.  There were 4 ships docked here that day!  

We stopped for an early lunch at Pancho's, an authentic Mexican restaurant.  It was a very pleasant place; like many places in Mexico, it had open doors and walls.  
Ty had an enchilada, and I had black bean soup.  One of my favourite things from Mexico on our two previous trips was the refried black beans.  This soup was almost that good.  We also had chips and salsa.  I love it when they make fresh salsa.  Mmmmm...
We had a snorkeling excursion booked for 1:00, so we had a few hours to kill while we waited.  We moseyed around a few times, bought some t-shirts (I love t-shirts!!!), sat in the sun and watched people walk by,  and finally waited for our group to assemble.
I didn't get any pictures from our snorkeling adventure.  But I found this one on google, and it shows some of the reefs that we saw.  
It was pretty basic.  They took us on a bus just a few blocks down the street to a dive shop on the beach.  We got outfitted with basic snorkel gear, and four of us went with a guide for a swim.  It wasn't bad for $35.  A good way to learn to snorkel.  We swam for about 45 minutes, and that was long enough.  I always forget how much exercise swimming is!  Especially when you're trying to concentrate.  There were a few small reefs near the shore, and we saw quite a few different fish.
Here is a neat shot of two of the cruise ships on the pier.  Ours is at the back.  See the red and blue tail fin?
Here are the other two.  What gorgeous water, hey?
After our swim, we wandered around the shops a bit more, and eventually settled into Fat Tuesday's for a drink.  The music here was awesome (see the DJ on the far left?), and there were a bunch of spring break kids dancing it up and having a hoot.  (you can see a couple of the guys in the middle)  
It was a really fun place to hang out before we moseyed on back to the ship.
Cruising is so cool.  Every place you go gives you something different to look at.  Right beside us, they were building another leg onto the pier, so two more ships could squeeze in here!
The afternoon sun on the water was just gorgeous.
I love how turquoise the water is.
Having fun just hanging out on the balcony.  :)
Later that night, we went to the Play it Again Piano Bar.  Peter Damon was our guy.  This is when they get to say, "I'll be here all week."  This was hands down our favourite place to hang out.  We came here at least 4 different nights.  He was awesome!  So much fun!  And we had the same bartenders all week, too, and they work together as a very close team.  He joked around and sang about them all the time.  :)  That's Evie in the background.
Here's a shot of him from his website, since you can't see his face.  He reminds me a little bit of Dexter. What a talented guy.  He totally won me over when he played Mozart's "Ah Vous Dirai-Je Maman", which is one of my favourite classical piano pieces.  
Music on this ship was so awesome.  So many different things going on, and a few incredibly talented bands or performers made their rounds.  Never a dull moment!