My mom, dad, sister and me. We are from Charlotte, NC, and this will be our 4th cruise. And it just so happened that my birthday was going to be on the cruise as well. I turned 23 on June 7th. About 1 month before the cruise, my sister (14) said she didn't want to go anymore because she didn't want to leave her boyfriend and friends for a week. But luckily we all talked some sense into her (more on that later). Now in my defense, I was on vacation and don't usually drink this much anymore (college days are over) so don't think I'm one of those loud party animals on the ship!
Woke up about 6:30, I just couldn't sleep, I was too excited plus I wasn't completely finished packing. We left home at about 8:30. The drive wasn't that bad, it didn't seem like 8 hours but we arrived in Tampa at about 5:30. Not bad. We checked into our hotel, the Best Western, and went by Walmart to pick up some little things we forgot at home. Went to sleep around 9. Woo hoo, crazy Saturday night, huh?!
Finally! woke up at 8:30 and got ready. Stopped for some breakfast and arrived at the port at 12. We had been on a cruise from Tampa in 2004 so we knew what to expect from the Tampa port. There wasn't a line, very shocking, walked straight through the metal detectors and up to check in. We were in group 20 to board the ship and they had just called group 17. 15 minutes later we were walking on the boat. The Miracle is themed after fictional characters. The Atrium was supposed to be superman metropolis, but it looked nothing like superman to me, but it was still very pretty and colorful. Lots of pinks and blues; I liked it a lot.
We weren't allowed to go to our rooms until 1:30 because they were still cleaning. So we went up to the Lido deck. We ate at Horatios, themed after a british naval officer. It was mostly red, gold and white. and I grabbed my first daily ship drink special - the FUNSHIP, it was a rum, vodka, brandy, STRONG fruity concoction! - then we walked around the boat. It's a huge ship.
We went to the Phantom Lounge, themed after the Phantom of the Opera. Again mostly red, gold and white, very pretty. Kids don't look at the ceiling - there's nudity. Next on to the Mad Hatters Lounge based on Alice in Wonderland. Lots of red hearts. Gatsby's Garden - based on the Great Gatsby. It's just a pretty walkway to the arcade. Lots of Ivy and white picket fences. Mr. Lucky's casino, again don't look at the ceiling, but kids shouldn't be in the casino anyway! Bacchus Dining room -- the Greek God of wine. Oh, those infamous pink grapes, man they're all over the place, but you get used to them. Grabbed another Funship drink. I went back to the same bartender, his name was Ming from Indonesia. He quickly became my favorite bartender, he was so nice.
My luggage arrived at the room about that time so I unpacked. Then I went back up for another drink. Yes, 3 of these strong drinks and I was drunk before the boat even left port! What a way to start the vacation!
The boat set sail at 4 and I watched the boat sail away. Bye bye, real world! I needed a nap, so I slept until it was time for the ship to pass under the Skyway bridge. I walked up to the very top deck and the tail funnel barely passed under it - a must see moment. This is when I met my main friends for the cruise, 6 guys that had just graduated from West Virginia. Hello Craig, Sexton, Rob, Gertler, Haner and Whitie!
Then it was time to get ready for dinner. Our waitress was Romona from (you guessed it) Romainia. She wasn't as super friendly as all the other crew members, but she wasn't mean. She didn't have good bedside manners, I guess that's what you would call it. This was the only dinner my sister came with us to (more on that later). I skipped the appetizers and salad and had 2 main course dishes. Herb Chicken and a Sirloin Steak with a peppercorn sauce - yum!
After dinner, my mom and I went to the welcome aboard show (it was entertaining) and my dad went to the casino. After the show I headed to the dance club and met up with the guys, more drinking. Security is tough on this boat! I got carded 4 times while in the club!! That's not including carding for getting in the room or by the bartender! I know I look young, but hey security is a good thing. Sorry, kids.
Day at Sea. Woke up around 8:30, ate breakfast and then laid out by the pool with my family. My sister is against getting a tan, so she hung out with the friends she made. I ate lunch quickly (today's buffet theme was Caribbean food) and headed back out the the sun and I had a Miami Vice. Well, I got my belly full and had a nice buzz, so I passed out. Two hours later I woke up sweating like a cow and my family was gone. I just knew I was sun burnt. I stopped by for some pre-dinner sushi, yum! May be the best sushi ever! Then I got ready for dinner.
I was a little red, but nothing painful. Thank God I was tan before the cruise or I would have been fried! Tonight was the first formal night, I wore a strapless aqua blue sparkley dress. Pretty. My sister wanted to hang out with her friends, so she didn't dress up or go to dinner. So me and my family got all dolled up, stopped by all the photo stations and went to dinner. I had 2 appetizers - minestrone soup (delicious) and pumpkin soup (good). Then I had prime rib w/au jus. yum. Me and my mom went to the R rated comedian show. Tom Willkins...or Will Tompkins??? He was hilarious, I was in tears! I'm gonna see if he was a dvd or something. By that time it was 1:30 and I was tired from partying the day before. Off too bed.
Grand Cayman. Today our shore excursion was swimming with sting rays at 10:30. I'd been to Grand Cayman in 2004 and LOVED it, so I was excited to go back. The Disney Magic was parked beside us. We took a 5 minute tender to the island, met our group right there at the dock and got on a bus to take us to the the other side of the island. Then, we got on to a little boat and took a 30 min. boat ride out to the middle of the ocean (a little spooky) where there was a sandbar that the sting rays hung out at. I hopped into the water. These things were huge, and bumped right into you. It was creepy at first, and they felt slippery and weird. There were huge dark clouds headed our way and pretty soon it was raining. I was already wet so who cares, but it was a little cold. We stayed there for another 45 mins.
When I got back on the cruise I ate (mexican buffet day) and laid out, watched the boat sail away. Stopped for sushi. Tonight there was a party for past cruisers with FREE DRINKS. I sat down and here comes Ming with a tray full of drinks. He sets the whole tray down at my table! 2 whiskey sours, 2 screwdrivers, 2 rum punches, 2 hurricanes. Well, 6 drinks later, I couldn't see straight and everyone walking by was amused by the tray of drinks I got, probably just wondering how a little 100 lb girl sucked down all those drinks. For dinner, I had jerked pork loin, it was spicy, spicier than jerked normally is. After dinner, I headed to the club - still tipsy - met up with my friends and did hots at midnight for my bday!
MY BIRTHDAY - Wednesday
Cozumel - All inclusive beach- FREE DRINKS. Wow, is Cozumel damaged from Hurricane Rita last year! I had also been here in 2004. The pier is wiped away. The shops are still there and look great, but I can't believe the pier was completely destroyed. So we had to take a 5 min tender to the island. There were 3 other ships there - Carnival Holiday, RC Enchantment and Disney Magic. Mostly all the trees are gone, but the beach was still great. I started of with a Strawberry Margarita, then a Sex on the Beach, then a Miami Vice, then a Rum Runner, then 2 Coronas. In between, I had some authentic mexican chicken quesadillas - great! It was fun because everyone on that beach was drunk, except for the kids. Then I had a Corona to go. I love Mexico, and drinking in public.
Back on the boat - more drinks, met up with the guys. By the time dinner came around, I was a little sobered up. I had Wonton soup, tomato soup, and Filet Mignon. Then here comes the singing and clapping and my bday cake! Yeah! Well after dinner I needed just a little nap, but I didn't wake up til the next morning. I was out. I was sad that I passed out on my bday, but I guess that means I had a good day? Right?
Belize - Zoo. The ship had to stop really far away from the island as to not damage the coral reefs, so it was about a 15 min tender ride. I had never been to Belize, but I did my research and I knew that it was mostly rain forest and a 3rd world country. I figured it was a little more poor than the other islands.
Well, we got off the boat and took a bus to the zoo, but we did a city tour on the way and a tour guide told us a little about the country. Wow! I had never seen poor like this before. They make our ghettos look luxurious, no lie. We drove past the Prime Minister's house which was in the upscale part. It was regular 2 story house (well, the first floor was a just a car port because it floods a lot) so the ruler of this country has the same sized house as me - no "white house" here. But the tour guide said if you never had it, then you don't miss it, so then don't dream of being rich. Hmmm, something we should think about.
The zoo was in the middle of the forest. I had my bug spray on and was ready to go. The zoo didn't have elephants or giraffes, just Belize native animals - jaguars, other small wild cats, monkeys, and mosquitos! My bug spray did not repel those demons! I got about 5 bites. I guess it would have been worse without the spray. The bites still itch today, a week later! The zoo was interesting though.
Back to the ship and sushi. For dinner, I had Lobster Bisque soup and Beef Wellington Sirloin (not very good). Then I met up with the guys - we meant to go to karaoke, but we ended up at a R rated hypnotist show...what??!!!! The show was very R rated! To end to show, the guys were told they were in the Full Monty strip club...one guy was about to take his boxers off when the hypnotist ran over and stopped him. I don't know if I believe in hypnotism or not, but these people were acting pretty weird. Who knows? Too risque for me.
Costa Maya, Mexico - another all inclusive beach. FREE DRINKS. I'd never been here either. This was our only stop that had a pier so no tender boats, yeah! This beach was beautiful! One of my top beaches. 2004 -- Grand Cayman, 2005 --Aruba, 2006 -- Costa Maya. This time my sister stayed on the boat. They had the BEST margaritas! So I drank those all day. My mom doesn't drink much but she did have a couple margaritas because they were so good. I did have a Mexican Sol XXX beer I think is what it's called, it was good. I held an iguana, it was almost bigger than me, got a good photo I hope. Everyone in Costa Maya is really nice.
Back on the boat again drunk. Got ready for dinner and it was formal night again. But then my dad came to my room and said my mom had a hangover from today, and that we weren't gonna go to dinner. So I went to bed, but this time I made sure I set an alarm. So we didn't get dressed up - oh well. Woke up and the boat was rocking really bad. Turns out that we hit that tropical depression (before it was Alberto). The winds were crazy outside, I think I heard the winds were around 80 mph. They had to block off all the top deck so the highest deck you could go to was the Lido deck. The waves we were hitting were huge. I had never been on a boat this rocky. There's always at least one day that's rough, but this was crazy! It was entertaining at first to try to walk straight when sober! I've also never gotten sea sick, but when I went to lay down...well you get the point.
Day at Sea - Woke up around 9, it was raining outside, still rocky, but not nearly as bad as last night. So I went back to bed, sad that I wouldn't be able to lay out. Woke up for lunch. My family and I went to the photo shop and bought a lot of pictures. By this time, the rain had stopped and we were able to watch the sun set. We didn't go to dinner again tonight, just ate at the lido deck. I had pasta form the pasta station and met up with the guys. Since they couldn't take cigars off the ship, we sat outside and smoked those, I tried a little. I don't smoke cigarettes, but cigars were ok. Last night - sad. Said good bye to everyone. My sister had the hardest time, she was crying. The one that didn't even wanna go on this cruise is the saddest to leave.
Boo hoo. Woke up at 8:30, stopped serving breakfast at 9. Were of the boat at 10:30. Got lost in Tampa. Drove around for awhile. It was such a pretty day outside, great day to be going on a cruise : (
We didn't stop for dinner because we just wanted to get home. Finally arrived in Charlotte at 8:45. Saw trees and Power lines down. what happened here??? A big storm had just come through. We just knew our power would be out, but it wasn't. But we couldn't order pizza like we were going to. Wheres the buffet? I miss all that food. Welcome back to the real world. I had to work Monday so I went to bed knowing tomorrow would be rough.
I had a great time, met some great people and ate great food. I ate about every 2 to 3 hours hahaha! I had sooo much pizza and turkey sandwiches, and $5.18 beer! My bar tab was about $140. Not bad, I smuggled booze on too.