In my previous post I told you about my sister and I winning a FREE cruise on our last night of our first cruise. The final night of Cruise Bingo had as grand prize a FREE cruise. Our dinner tablemates felt it wasn’t worth the $10 for a card with 3 games because the odds would not be with us. I even had to do a lot of talking to my sister to get her to put up half of that – I finally told her that when I won I would not take her! The game was in the large show lounge. We sat at a table with 3 couples who were not playing. Many of the people around us had several cards – we just had one. As our cards were filling up the people at our table were getting even more excited than we were. We were concentrating so hard to hear the numbers and our tablemates were yelling “you’re going to win, you’re going to win!” And then – WE DID!!!! I jumped up and ran to the front to claim our certificate.
We immediately went to gloat to our dinner companions. The drinks were on them.
We chose to cruise the following January on a 7 night Itinerary to the Western Caribbean. We would be on the Carnival Imagination (sister to the Inspiration that we had previously sailed on) and our ports of call were Jamaica, Grand Cayman and Cozumel.
We flew another red-eye to Miami, but this time arrived in much better condition. I think we were just more prepared this time. It was so nice to get on the ship in that wonderful Florida sunshine after the cold dreary Seattle weather.
We had our Deluxe Verandah stateroom this room. Oh, it was so luxurious and roomy compared to our inside cabin we’d had before. I loved going out on our roomy balcony. We had a nice big couch at one end, a refrigerator, and a nice sized vanity. There was even a bathtub in the bathroom.
We started with a day at sea. This was so nice after being in port almost every day on our first cruise. We found lounge chairs by the forward pool and relaxed in the sun with our books. Ah, this is the life – fabulous service, a nice frozen drink to keep us cool. This is what I really love about cruising – the opportunity to really relax, get fabulous service, and have everything you need right there!
This time we are seated at a table for 10. There is my sister and I, a mother & daughter (mom is probably 50, daughter around 30), 2 young ladies in their 20’s, 2 young guys in their 20’s, and another couple of guys probably early 30’s. We have a fabulous time together all week – lots of joking and fun with our waiters Peter and Pieter.
Our first stop was Cozumel. We chose to go to the ruins at Tulum. I am so amazed by the detail in the stonework of these buildings. And Tulum is such a fabulous setting overlooking the water. When we returned from the ruins, we walked around Cozumel a bit and got a bite to eat. Did a little partying with our cruise tablemates at Carlos and Charlies. If you’re looking for a fun party bar in Cozumel, this is it.
Our next stop was Grand Cayman. We did the typical tour here. We started at the turtle farm. I loved seeing them from tiny little babies up to the great big old guys. Our next stop was Hell where we bought the t-shirt and sent home postcards. Then we went swimming with the stingrays. This was incredible. The guides would hold them so you could see them up close and touch them. It was a weird sensation to feel the stingrays brushing against me, especially when I was swimming back to the boat.
Our final port of call was Jamaica. I had done some research and had found a driver to take us on a private tour. He met us right at the pier. We started with a drive through Ocho Rios up into the hills and through some neighborhoods so we could see how the people live. I find it very interesting because the people on these islands are so resourceful and don’t waste anything. Many people can’t see past the poverty – but I really enjoyed seeing a slice of how the Jamaican people live.
We went through Fern Gully and took some pictures – I absolutely loved how green and alive it felt! We also went to Dunn’s River Falls. Even with the cruise ship crowd and the group holding hands, I loved this. (I’ve done it again since with Jamaican friends without the crowds – enjoyed it both ways!) Our guide was wonderful, carrying out towels and cameras and taking pictures when we wanted. We played in the pools and took our time. It is absolutely beautiful to look down from the top of the falls to the ocean beyond – this should not be missed!
At the top is the craft market which, can be a bit overwhelming the first time. The vendors are quite aggressive, but if you have the right attitude it can be a lot of fun. First of all, they expect you to bargain over price and enjoy it. If you engage the vendors in conversation you can learn a lot about Jamaica – her people really are the best asset. We bought a couple of souvenirs here then went out and found our driver again.
I can’t remember the exact order of all of our stops, but we took a nice drive along the coast, we stopped at a little pottery shop. There was no one else there so the 2 guys working there gave us a complete tour and explanation of how everything was made – of course I bought a piece which I still have on my dresser. We also stopped at an old plantation house that is now a museum and art gallery. After doing a bit of research I believe it may be Harmony Hall. We were the only visitors here this day as well. We even stopped at a local outdoor market where they sold fruits and vegetables and got to try some local fruits.
The wonderful thing about taking a tour with a private driver was we got to see things that others didn’t, we had time to chat with the locals and get a better feel for Jamaica, it was really a wonderful experience.
Before we went back to the ship our driver stopped at The Ruins restaurant so we could have our picture taken in front of the waterfall.
What a perfect day. I fell in love with Jamaica and knew I would be coming back (and I have been back 4 times since, and hoping to get back again this year).
We had another day at sea to end our cruise. I really feel that cruising is the way to travel when you just want to relax, be pampered and not have to worry about anything! Again, lounging around the pool, reading, having some frosty drinks. I also love all of the entertainment onboard, the meals of course, and being able to see several places on one trip.
We were back in Miami and back home much too soon. Damn, where is that breakfast buffet? Why isn’t my bed made? Oh, reality can be so harsh!
Again, I’m sorry for no pics, but they just don’t come out well being scanned.