Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Vacation, Part One: Miami, Half Moon Cay, Sea Day (Days 1-3)

HalfMoonCay04 As many of you know, I’ve just returned from a seven day Caribbean cruise.  Keisha and I drove 17 hours, from her college graduation in Louisville, KY, to the Port of Miami in Miami, FL.  The boat was scheduled to leave at 4pm on Sunday, May 9.  The trip would include a stop at a private island in the Bahamas on Monday, a stop at St. Thomas of the US Virgin Islands on Wednesday, San Juan Thursday, and Grand Turk on Friday.  We would return to Miami at 7am on Sunday, May 16.  As you can imagine, the week was packed with activity, but I managed to find some time to rest and relax as well.

Summing up my trip should take three or four blog posts.  There will be many pictures (I took over 2Gigs of them!), but I’m only going to include some of my favorites here on the blog.  I figure I’ll populate the posts with various pictures and include a slideshow (no more than 30 pictures or so, hopefully) at the end of each post that contains a few extra photos of the featured islands.

I can’t decide how to write these posts up.  I’m thinking I may switch different point of view styles for each post: 1st person, 2nd person, and 3rd person limited.  Should be fun.

Hopefully these next few posts aren’t too unbearable. 

*****

I arrive at Miami around 11am.  The heat is 30 degrees warmer than in Kentucky and I turn on the air.  Eventually I spot the CRUISE PARKING sign, and we take our shuttle over to the Port.  I’ve never seen anything like this.  Hundreds upon hundreds of people of all nationalities and languages.  Finally we get through security and into the queue to board the boat.

The Carnival Glory is like a building that an move on the ocean.  The thing is humongous, and I don’t use that word lightly.  We’re hungry, and the boat already has a buffet set up for lunch.  We step on board and as soon as I see the lobby I’m instantly reminded of The Poseidon Adventure.  I start thinking about shipping disasters and entertain the thoughts for a few seconds.  But we press on, determined to see the room before we find the buffet.

The room is small.  Very small.  Large enough for a king size bed and that’s it.  I look longingly at the bed, exhausted from driving, but my stomach points out that I can sleep later.  Food is more important.  We meet our room steward, Gede, and head out to find the food and explore the boat.  The narrow hallways take some getting used to.

HalfMoonCay01After feasting we head to the top deck and watch Miami disappear behind us.  The ocean—mighty, powerful, immense—opens up all around.  It’s exciting.  Soon it’s time for a safety drill, followed by a quick shower and the evening dining experience.  We meet our table mates and indulge in fine dining.  Thoroughly worn out, we head back to the room and quickly fall asleep.

I wake up refreshed and ready to see Half Moon Cay.  We dress and head up to the breakfast buffet to watch the island draw nearer.  The turquoise blues I see are the exact colors I wanted to see, like they’re something out of a dream.  Half Moon Cay is a private island, owned by the Carnival Corp.  There is no place to dock, so we have to take small tender boats from the Glory to get ashore.  The tender ride over is beautiful.

Stepping into foreign soil for the first time is not a smooth process.  A pack of people are all trying to find their excursions or what not, including me.  We see our excursion line and take a small shuttle to a different location on the island.  The excursion is called the Eco Lagoon Tour.  I see the boat we’re taking, a little thing that can hold no more than twenty or so, and take a seat.  Our guide, a native that commutes daily to give these tours, is fun and loud, able to answer any questions we may have. 

I’m amazed by the clarity of the water.  Not just the clarity, but the colors.  Maybe it’s because Kentucky is landlocked and these things aren’t familiar.  Maybe it’s the buried artist inside me.  Whatever it is, everything I’m seeing is like a view of paradise.  Fish and starfish and coral and many other things open up beneath the glass bottom of the boat.  I can’t help but take pictures of everything I see.

An hour and a half later the tour’s over and we’re back at the main area.  Carnival is having a BBQ on the island, so lunch is provided.  After lunch, we spend the rest of the day on the beach.  The water is much colder than I expected, but it warms after a few minutes of staying in.  The beach is fun and beautiful, but eventually it’s time to head back to the Glory.

HalfMoonCay14 On board we explore more of the ship and its various stores, theatres, bars, etc. We go to a Motown tribute show after dinner.  I decide to try a drink I’ve been wanting to try, a Rum and Coke, and find that I like it quite a bit.  Keisha gets some pretty drink.  Sleep calls again, and I give in.

Today is a Sea Day, meaning the ship is en route to an island so we’re going to be on board all day.  There are all sorts of activities to do.  The day begins at 9am, where we flip on the tv and watch the cruise director’s morning show.  He asks a trivia question and Keisha calls in and wins a photo album, a medal, and a 24 carat gold plastic piece of ship on a stick.  Needless to say, that is pretty cool.

I spend the morning following Keisha around in the stores.  After lunch there are two shopping talks about how to shop on the islands.  Everything is tax and duty free on these islands, so we can get some exceptional deals, and Keisha is pretty excited about seeing some jewelry.  I skip out on the second talk and hang out on the upper deck, relaxed and reading. 

Tonight is the first elegant dining night.  I put on my suit and tie, dressed to match Keisha.  She looks very beautiful.  We stop by the casino, since neither of us have ever been to one, and lose a quick $30 in the slot machines.  That’s enough gambling, so we head to the dining room.

Everybody is dressed fancy.  We take our seats and check out the menus.  You’re allowed as many appetizers, entrées, and desserts and you want on the boat, and since it’s formal night, I figure I’ll get multiples, especially since I’ve never had lobster before.  The meal is great, and our head waiter, Sudana, is hilarious.  He’s from Bali and is not afraid of putting on a show.

After the meal we head to the bar for a piano sing-a-long, but it turns a bit vulgar after 11pm, so we decide to leave.  We head up to the open deck and hang out.  It’s been a windy day, and the upper decks have been closed.  The rockiness of the ocean has been felt a bit, but it’s not been too bad.  I stare out at the inky black waters, feeling humbled and awestruck.  It’s amazing just how big the world is, and how small and frail we are in its wake.  I think about how big God is.  I think about how dark it would be if the lights were all off on the ship.  I ponder these things for a while, even after we’re back in our room.

7 comments:

Bilski said...

Looking pretty slick there, Logan! It sounds like you guys really made the best use of the many amenities they have on those cruise ships. I look forward to hearing more!

Tell me though, did they have a rock wall you could climb? I always thought that was one of the coolest things to see on a boat.

logankstewart said...

@Bill: Hey, thanks, friend. We took advantage of pretty much everything we could, including putting down a deposit for a future cruise and getting on board credit!

Alas, there was no rock wall, but there was this big, winding slide.

Crystal said...

Love the pics! Sounds and looks like you two had a lot of fun. I'm enjoying vacationing vicariously through your blog :)

logankstewart said...

@Crystal: Hey, thanks. I thought mot of the pics turned out pretty good. Vive vicariousness!

David Wagner said...

*envy*

Ahh... someday...

Nice pics - I look forward to seeing more!

Marie said...

wow! sounds great! you're making me hungry for lobster. i can't wait to read more about your trip!

logankstewart said...

@David: *Thanks* :)

@Marie: I wasn't overly impressed with lobster, but I definitely wasn't disappointed, either.