S: Carnival Liberty Exotic Western Caribbean - November 2012
BC: Hasta | Luego!
FC: Carnival Liberty 2012
1: First cruise ever! So exciting to pin four new locations to my travel map - Miami, Belize, Honduras and Grand Cayman - you know how I come alive when I hear 'quatro'. We had a little taste of everywhere in paradise - mucho mucho fun! When and where can we go next? Feels normal to look for the daily didja, spend $7 for a beer, eat 10,000 calories per day and use my "Sail and Suck It Up Card" to enjoy it all! | November 2012 Carnival Liberty Exotic Western Caribbean
4: Blessings have allowed us to enjoy one final blast of sunshine and good spirits before we hibernate for the winter (see before and after above-difference of 1,000 miles and a few hours)! We traveled on Carnival Liberty's Exotic Western Caribbean journey out of Miami from November 3 -10th. We flew out on Spirit Latrobe one day early (great experience!) for a 2 /12 hour flight to enjoy the Hollywood Beach/South Beach areas prior to departure. I talked Ray into his first Cuban dining experience at Padrina's with some ropa vieja and the crowning gem - plantains! We walked the sparsely crowded boardwalk that was quiet except for the local Zydeco band.
5: We rented a Mustang and got to see Highway 1 to the Miami Port. While in line to board the ship, we met the anti "fun-suckers". The ship was grand, clean, packed with eating contest buffets and full of entertainment! Some of the more memorable amenities were the Punchliner Comedy Club with Allyn Ball ("glitter"), Jerry Goodspeed and Cowboy Bill. There were many games/activities, pools and hot tubs, one waterslide, Serenity “adults only” area, mini golf, piano bar, shops, casino (Casino Vault), Seaside Theater, and EA Sports Bar. Here we watched the Steeler game with some noisy Giant fans! The ship had their own craft brew - Red Frog! The Love and Marriage Show was funny with the 4th of July/Thanksgiving/Memorial Day reference.
6: We enjoyed the Guy Fieri Burger Joint, Blue Iguana Cantina, Mongolian Wok, the Tasting Bar, Grand Olympian Dining Room especially the "didja". We had lobster, panko crusted shrimp, flank steak, shark, frog legs - all very tasty!
7: Overall, I would say this was a fabulous cruise experience! Since hurricane season ends in late November, the weather was a bit overcast and rainy at times. We did meet some great people - Ned & Mary from San Francisco, Steve & Kenzie from Greensburg, and Steve from Australia. Yes, now know who "Friends of Dorothy" are too! The cruise was a good price (about $550 per person Oceanview) with Spirit Air ($150RT) but there were numerous add-ons for gratuities, drinks, and excursions.
17: The first stop was in Cozumel – here the ship docks and there are numerous shops and bars directly at the port. We took a taxi for $13 USD to San Francisco Beach nearby. We were first driven to “Ocean Club” but following some protest, ended up next door. We had buckets of Coronas for $20 and Miguel "my Mexican boyfriend" was very friendly. TIP: Ask for their complimentary tequila shot on your exit! Tit for tat for the guys too :) We also had a loco taxi pursuit on our way back to the ship.
21: - The Sleeping Giant -
22: Xunantunich (Stone Woman) Our "tuna sandwich" tour was through Chukka Tours and was very entertaining on our 2 hour bus ride - some highlights were - BMW is the most popular form of transportation in Belize "Better Me Walk"! To reach the ruins, we had to cross the Mopan River aboard a tiny hand-cranked car-ferry. Our tour guide then explained we would need to secure a machete prior to touring the ruins among 59 species of snakes and poisonous spiders - Ok? Xunantunich was a major ceremonial site built on a natural limestone ridge during the Classic Period (300-900 AD). The site is composed of six major plazas with more than 25 Maya temples and palaces. Built at the top of a hill, it dominates the countryside for miles around and is only a few miles from the Guatemala border, which experienced a 7.5 earthquake hours after our visit! The restored sections of this city contain a ceremonial center, residences for the wealthiest, a middle-class residential area and a ball-court complex. The largest pyramid at 130 feet above the plaza, "El Castillo" or the castle, has a carved frieze of the central mask representing the sun god flanked by the moon and Venus. As we climbed the top, the gods made their presence known with an ominous storm that unleashed just as we descended. | The site was occupied for a few hundred years until around 900 A.D. and was likely abandoned after an earthquake. We had lunch at Hode's Place in San Ignacio which included Comatose Hot Sauce!
29: The next day we entered Roatan, Hondoras – here again the ship docks at the port where there is a craft market and the beach within close walking distance. At the craft market there is a Visitors Bureau/Rotary Club that will stamp your passport for a $1 donation. I read that the word "Caribbean" comes from "Caribes' which is what the Spaniards called cannibals. You will also find many silly props for those must-have photos - lol! There is a chair lift to the beach for $12 although this is only a short, easy walk away The beach has bar service from Fat Tuesdays and provided great cover when the downpour finally came - it was fierce but short lived. Ray went scuba diving with Anthony's Key Resort.
30: Grand Cayman
32: Our boat was delayed to rescue a distressed "boat" of Cuban refugees that were at sea for 11 days, drifting in the wrong direction!
33: Our final stop was in Grand Cayman – here the ship has tenders to boat to shore as ships cannot pass through the reef. There was nothing substantial at the port (Georgetown) – so Aussie Steve and I caught a tour bus for $25 that drove us around the island for 2-3 hours through the various residences, most of which were surprisingly "For Sale" (and there is no property tax); the town of Hell - which is an area of volcanic rock and a glorified shanty house but does have a Post Office so in three weeks I had "mail from hell"; the Dolphin Encounter; Tortuga Rum Factory - where they had yummy rum cake and Mango Rum samples and a crazy waterspray; Seven Mile Beach and shopping. I opted for this and had a good flavor of the island. Ray spent the day diving where the reef drops to 4,000 feet! Words of the day were "Fat Yankee" and "Milk & Coco-Puffs".
36: Alchemy Bar
38: Florida Keys
39: For our extended Florida day, we hung out with Ned and Mary. We really tried to squeeze every possible moment of vacation in by touring the Keys down through Key Largo and Islamorada. We ate at Marker 88, fed the tarpon at Robbie's, and rode an air boat through the Everglades where our guide introduced us to alligator "Mic" - Made in China. Also he said there were no worries - the water was only 3 inches deep but the mud is 3 feet deep! We capped it off with a night in South Beach - which was an extension of Halloween!
40: Miami/South Beach
42: Scuba Diving
47: Extras (Top to Bottom ) - Red Frog Rum Bar - Hollywood Beach - One week of ship food - Red Frog Rum Bar - Lunch on board - Corn hole Victory - View of Miami from ship - YMCA Gangnam Style