On about April of 2008 we booked a cruise connected with our daughter and her husband. We booked with the CRAZIES. We sure didn't know what we were getting into. So the adventure begins. This was to be for my husband's 50th birthday. For those of you who have never booked with a group or with CruCon, it is an adventure. We started talking on the thread non stop and then some. We helped each other with births, death, divorce, health issues, and offered up prayer for those in need. Funny story and true - The first 3 days on the thread we were talking with Floatie, Jenn, and Hillie.- Those are screen names. At that time we were taking care of 2 of our Grandkids and had very strict rules about internet behavior. They went away to their Dad's for the weekend and when they came home on Monday, we were discussing what we had done in our lives. Well when it got around to us, we told them about meeting Floatie and Jenn downtown at Toby Kieth's Restaurant. Now we were very excited about our adventure and we were getting nothing but sad and disappointing looks back from our Grandkids. We stopped and asked what was wrong and they shock their heads and their fingers at "US". Our 10year old said, Grandma, you broke the rules. We went and met "strangers" from the internet. Never in my wildest dreams did I think we were meeting strangers and we might be in danger. After all we were with our daughter and her husband, they were 4 of us and 2 of them. We were all cruisers with a common ground and were learning about each other every day. That was just food for thought. I learned my lesson, if I do something that I have taught the kids is wrong, keep it to myself....HAHA! So for the next year, we had meet and greets and Christmas parties and dinner and over all fun. We really got to know the people we were going to be with on this magnificent ship. All the planning and talking really paid off as you will read. I'm a believer of the "6-P's" - Proper Planning Prevents Pizz Poor Performance.
Okay, getting on with it. We read and read and planned and planned. My daughter made us a cruise book with everything you could want to know about the ship, the 3 ports we were going to and Galveston, where we get on the ship. WOW....what a gift. You can get lost on the thread gathering up information, not knowing what to save and what to believe. I can honestly say that I did not receive any information that wasn't correct. We went applied for our passport in January of 2009 and received it in about 8 weeks. (give or take a week or two). O.K. we made a decision. We are going to treat Galveston as our 1st port. We are going 2 days early. Hurray!!!! So if you add 2 more days to the cruise and 1 day going home, we are having a 10 day cruise. Yippee!!!! Everyone knows there is no such thing as a perfect vacation. We had to replace the brakes the morning after we got to Galveston. It was no big deal and the guys fixed it in no time. We stayed at the Hilton to be with the Crazies. Now we had booked at the Best Western and changed our booking. We love the Crazies, but Best Western was the better bargain. They had free internet and continental breakfast and frig in your room all for the same price. It was worth being with the Crazies and I still wouldn't change a thing. We chose to do the out of way Ma and Pa Restaurants. We ate at Sonny's the first night and it was great. The atmosphere was just right. Now the next morning we went to "The Drug Store". Wow!!!! I highly recommend this place for breakfast and lunch. It was cooked right there in front of us. I have a picture of Woody standing next to the water line, the water line won. Woody is 6'1" tall. They lost everything and then some. It took them about 4 to 5 months to get going again. It's been a stuggle, but it was worth the wait. Some history on "The Drug Store". It was not de-segregated until 1989. They were the first to start de-segregation. Can you imagine in the USA that this was going on? Anyway well worth the visit.
Okay, off to shopping on the strip. We all love to shop. One of the first places we went into was an antique store of all places. I have looked for a year for a formal clutch that I could afford and that I like.....BINGO....$5.00 Bucks - right up my alley...yea!!! Off to another shop. Roar....Roar....Roar....Motorcycles up and down the street. And where there are bikes there must be cops. The Bikers parked on the sidewalk and of course someone complained. So they made them move them. The other shop owner was upset that someone complained, so he went outside and played his bag pipes. I thought it was pretty cool that he would want to stand up for his patrons. He owns the house of mystic and magic. I'm not so sure of the name, but he has my respect. We hit a lot more stores and it's lunch time. We decided to do Yagas at lunch instead of dinner with the crazies. It was busy at lunch, so add about another 100 or so at dinner. It would be way too crowded for me. We had the most amazing lunch - I had chicken Quesada and Aundrea and Jeff and Woody split a surfer's paradise pizza. Boy, everything was great tasting and the service was outstanding. Anyway we found 2 pirates outside and they were more than willing to pose for pictures right outside of Yagas. So I volunteered to pose. You see I'm the photographer and have never been in the pictures for the last 25 years. It's not happening this time. I want my presence known. We found a painter doing pictures outside with spray paint and torn up pieces of cardboard. What an incredible artist. I dabble in painting, but nothing like this. Maybe I could pick up this medium? I was just thinking on the ole' keyboard. - sorry. Okay, off for more shopping. I found sand dollars very cheap which saves me form cleaning them up. It will make a nice gift for the Grandkids. I'll put them in frames when I can. We are back at the hotel and putting our goodies away. We are all putting on our swim suits to go sit in the Jacuzzi and maybe for a swim....off for a good soak. Well guess who we find? We find "THE CRAZIES". We didn't find all of the but we found a lot of them. Oh goodie goodie - there is the banner and mach and stitch and the rest. They are just as I pictured them. No that's not correct - they are better than I expected them. It's hard to tell you how we are feeling. At this point I'm feeling a little shy. I know the ones who do know me - know I'm NOT shy - not in the least. You see on the boards, I read the words one communicates with and in person I have to read lips. Funny story - sitting in the hot tub and watching Mach and Stitch and I cracked up laughing. You see they were talking to each other and I wasn't supposed to be privy to the conversation. Mach makes the comment that one could fart in the hot tub and no one would ever know. He turns to me and says "what"? I repeated what he said and then had to tell him that I read his lips....I couldn't hear a thing anyone was saying so I tried real hard not to eaves drop, but I did anyway. Sorry! Everyone was just standing around talking and cutting up that I hated to leave. Have to get dressed for dinner. The Crazies were going to Yagas and we were going to the Spot. Well not a chance in hexx were we getting in so we settle for some mexican restaurant. Great food and no waiting - another great choice. The service wasn't very good, but who cares. I'm not complaining. I'm on V A C A T I O N!!! We are off to bed and up at the crack of dawn to see our ship come in. We were to meet on the patio at 5:30 am to see her come in. So off to bed were go.
I can not sleep. Did I say I could not sleep? I couldn't sleep. I'm an early riser, but I do get some sleep. I'm just not getting any on this night. It's way too exciting. Ok, we are up and dressed (sort of) and on our way to the infamous patio. This is the same patio that we watch from the web cam at Galveston.com and see our ship come in every Sunday. Except, this is different for 2 reasons. One-Customs is doing the crews clearance and second-We are getting on the boat. WAAAHOOOOOOOO!!!! Well we turn down the street and she's already tied up and waiting on us. Fooo!!! We really wanted to see the ship all lite up coming through the channel and to dock so we can get on her. This was a mild disappointment, but I can live with it. I'm still getting on the boat. Wow - she sure is big. No, not big - Hugh - gigantic. Her size is enormous and beautiful, so beautiful. She is shinning. Every part of her is shinning. The Conquest takes my breath away. I can not believe her size. We see pictures of her and our mind thinks she's big. But not until you are there side by side do you really realize that we are so small. In about 6 hours I will be at the Sky Bar and Pool eating the famous hot dog. My mouth waters as I am thinking back. I'm jumping ahead of myself. We are back in the truck and heading to the hotel. Oh what a minute, our last SAWP guess. We saw Lambie and gave her our guess. What a privilege to get to guess first. Can it get any better? OHHH YESSS it can.
We are back to the hotel and loading up our stuff in the truck. Oh I forgot to tell you Jeff's sister, her husband's best friend and hubby's parents are also on this trip. We load their entire luggage in the truck and Aundrea, Woody, Jeff and I are off to the port. It gives me chills to just think about getting on board. Everyone gave us their money for tips for the porters and off we go. My body is starting to shake. I don't know if it's out of fear or anticipation or excitement. You see I have had this dream that we have problems with Customs. My dreams always become true one way or another. We pull up to the port and start yelling for a porter. We didn't have to yell loud. They were there in a heart beat. We tipped the porters and Aundrea goes back to the hotel to park the truck and to take a cab back. Now this cab was pre-arranged at home and confirmed and confirmed. We even called them the morning of embarkation. Well, they never came. The name of this cab company is Busy Bee Cab Company. Don't use them. They are very unreliable. Woody, Jeff and I stay at the port with our carry on and waiting in line to get inside. It's wee-wee time and don't want to move away very far. I was afraid of being left behind. Whoooo.....Standing in line gives me time to calm down some what, but not really. I'm still apprehensive about going inside and why haven't Aundrea returned with Sonya, Tammy, Nick, and Jarrod. They had to call another cab. I'm just a worrying Mom. Okay, they arrive and we start to go inside.....no bathrooms until after Customs. We have our Passports and DL out and they send us to Customs. We don't pass go and we don't collect $200.00. They decide to search Woody. And again my dream came true. They pull him aside because in his backpack it looks like he is carrying bullets. Wrong - it is 3 electrical outlet plugs put together. They did look like bullets. HAHA!!! On to the next line - we show our passports and our fun pass with our booking number on it. Wow we are through. We get to our assigned seating area and realize I don't have the passports. I'm off to see the lady at the counter. No passports....crap....Woody yells - I've got them. They were supposed to go back into our cruising book that Aundrea made for us. I'm shaking so much - it's a wonder I didn't leave my entire luggage at the hotel. My head is turning around and around trying to take in everything. I am surprised someone didn't think I was from the Exorcists. They had people from Carnival dancing and trying to get everyone into the partying mood. It was quite a hoot to see and to be a part of. This is really happening and it's happening to me. I see Mach and Stitch walk in and go to the front of the line. Foo!!! I know they need to be on board to set up everything. Thank God for them. Ok, the line is starting to move. Our section hasn't been called yet and my stomach is doing flip flops. When will it ever calm down? They just called us. We stand. Am I really moving my feet? Okay....Picture time....with Woody, Aundrea, Jeff, and myself. That was o.k. Am I on the Boat yet? No, darn....more winding line and then over this bridge that doesn't look like it is supported by anything. Woody grabs my arm and says it's O.K. we're going to be on the ship. He had calmness in his voice that was so soothing. He told me to put one foot in front of the other and close your eyes and don't look down. You see I'm afraid of heights. He did it good. We are on the Ship and WOW, AMAZING, WOW, AMAZING. I can't believe what I am seeing. I had my doubts about being excited because of the research we did for the last year and a half. This surpasses everything I could imagine. Your first time on board comes without words. I'm really without words to describe what I see and what I feel. We looked around for a while and took pictures of everything and I mean everything. I took 749 pictures on this trip. We headed for the Sky Bar and Pool to experience my 1st Carnival hotdog. My mouth is watering bringing back the memories. I'll never have another hotdog without thinking of our great trip. We finally got our DOD (drink of the day). You see, I don't usually drink and didn't want to get tipsy and miss anything. I didn't want to miss anything at all. I wanted to see every smile on Woody's face and the grins of Aundrea and Jeff. You see, they are the ones that have gotten us hooked on cruising. It's all their fault. It is the happiest all of us have been in a long time. Every smile shows in every picture. This is a much needed V A C A T I O N......We are on V A C A T I O N. This is said with Vitalii Pysarenko accent. He is the guy who does karaoke. His e-mail is Vitalipysarenko@yahoo.com. He also has a web site www.friendsofvitali.synthasite.com. He also has another saying WoooHooo Juice and everyone is from Texas....just not us. Oh BTW we are from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Vitalii was great. Well, it's 1:30 and off to our cabins. We had 7441 on the Empress Deck. Thank God for the tall beds and the storage cabinets. Everything fit to a tee. My family teases me about my shoes. I took 13 pairs of shoes with a shoe hanger. You know the ones that you hang on the back of the door. I hung it on the hook that held our privacy placard and room service menu. It's on the wall by the fridge. I was really surprised at how compact everything is and that the luggage fit under the bed. Our Stewart's name was Rocky. I'm not really sure because he kept turning his back to me. Anyway I called him Rocky. He is very good at what he does. I will admit I was very disappointed on our 1st night that we didn't get an animal. BooHoo!!! We did wipe down our cabins with cleanser (just in case). I didn't want to take any chances with this trip and our health. Our luggage did arrive early and was very surprised just how early. It was an obstacle course walking through the hall way. The bags were here and there - big and small and so many of them. Everything is unpacked and we are ready to relax. So many people want to live out of their suitcases, but not us. Everything has its place. Aundrea thought we over packed. Maybe we did. I don't think so. I only had 4 shirts that I didn't wear and only because I wore some of the new ones that we bought. And the shoes - I had 1 pair of water socks I didn't wear. Not bad, if I say so myself. We're off to muster.
We grabbed the life jackets and down to deck 4. Muster Drill is a must. Everyone must be there or there will be delays. Now this is a problem for Woody. He hates to be in a shoulder to shoulder crowded room. If we were going to be packed into this room like sardines, he wasn't going to make it through it. Jeff said to hang back and get as close to the big door as possible and maybe it won't be so bad. He was right. Woody did great. I got stuck next to one of those impossible redneck jerks. Of course our lady wasn't American and she spoke with a heavy accent. And this jerk didn't even bring a life jacket. The lady kept asking where is you life jacket? And he kept asking why don't you speak English. He was really giving her a hard time and being obnoxious. Why us? And why couldn't I keep my big mouth shut? I asked him, don't you know, you're not on an American ship and why aren't you speaking her language? That didn't shut him up. He said he didn't even know his cabin number and didn't have a sail-n-sign card. I asked him why are you on the ship, if you didn't have a sail-n-sign card. I finally caught a whiff of his breath. He was drunk as a skunk. I shut my mouth for good this time. Drunkard and the right thing - doesn't mix.
It's time for sail away. The only thing I requested was to be at the bow of the ship. That means going through the secret door. We found it on 7th floor just like Mach described it. It was an Amazing place for sail away. We could see the dolphins and sea gulls and the pelicans. We even caught a glimpse of a sea lion. I know they are not supposed to be in these waters, but there it was. I wasn't the only person who saw what I saw, so I know I wasn't just seeing things. It was incredible. I felt like a little kid in a candy store. Yes, it was very windy, but worth every bit of endurance. Seeing the submarine and museums and the tugs and the barges was amazing. The smells were fantastic. You could actually smell the salt in the air. And the little bit of fishy smell wasn't bad at all. It's like all of our allergies are instantly gone. Like I said, it is an amazing experience. We stayed out on the bow for a long time. Aundrea and Jeff wanted to hit the hot tub, so they went to change. Woody and I stood there and just took every bit of emotion and sight in. He held me so tight, I thought I was going to break, but I didn't. We just couldn't believe we were on the ship and then here you are. You are feeling the wind in you face and the salt on your lips and you gasp....wow....we are really here and all you can do is just sigh. And the adventure begins. Sitting her writing this, I have tears running down my face. We just had the most amazing vacation that we can hardly believe it.
Off to the cabin to change. Now our cabin was in the aft. This is 3 football fields away and no ladies room along the way. We had to hurry. I'm not a spring chicken and definitely over weight. Getting my work out is not what I had in mind before dinner. We definitely didn't need to go to the gym on this day. We finally made it to the cabin. Now where did I unpack the swimsuits? Of course, they are in the cabinet draw. We have changed and off to the elevator. Thank goodness the sky pool is in the aft. I don't think I could walk that length of the ship again. Boy, did I have something in store for me. I'll write more about that later. The hot tub was great. It was very relaxing and very hot. It's one of those good hot things. I am very particular about hot tubs and getting germs. After seeing them clean the hot tubs at night, I have no worries about getting in. They do a very thorough job and even the pool every night. All those cramps in my legs went away. This hot tub will soon become my best friend.
We are off to the cabin to change for karaoke in the Degas Lounge. Woody got up and sang King of the Road. He did a great job. We didn't stay very long because we had to get ready for dinner. We got back to the room and he has one leg in his pants and one leg out and he said with relief, "Oh, Thank goodness, I thought it was my legs that were shaking and instead it was the vibration of the engine in the ship." I laughed until my stomach hurt.
Our first dinner on board is amazing. There is that word again - amazing. I can't think of a better word for the things that we all experienced. We are in the Monet lower level at table 384. Our waiter's name was Ricardo and his assistant was Marco. Jeff had warned us about putting the napkin in our own lap. If you don't, the waiter will do it for you. Ricardo and Marco were amazing. Marco didn't quite get it - that I wanted coffee at the beginning of my meal and all the way through. After that first night, he was right on the mark. Woody had flat iron steak and I had pork spar ribs w/ corn on the cob and slaw and potatoes. Aundrea and Jeff had shrimp and linguini. Everything was better than great. Now here come the desserts....giggles.... 2 ½" high chocolate w/ cherries and also slow melting cake w/ ice cream. WOW.....It couldn't have ended any better. And off to bed we go. Some people know that I don't hear everything and what I don't hear doesn't sound normal. I wasn't born deaf. I just lost it from shooting too many guns without ear protection and too much loud music. So now, I hear through vibrations and through interpretation of body language and reading lips. Now Woody has become accustomed to my deafness. We are all tucked in and my eyes are closed and I keep hearing something. I don't know what it was. I just thought it was Woody trying to talk to me. Didn't he know I was trying to sleep? He shook me and told me to get the pillow off my ear. I was picking up the vibrations from the ship's engine. I thought he was talking to me. Oops!! We are off to the "welcome aboard" show in the Toulouse Lautrec Lounge. We set on the left on bottom level about 8 rows back. It's amazing that we weren't cramp at all. There was a small table in between 2 chairs and everyone can walk through without having to get up and let them through. Our cruise director had a surprise coming to him. He is about to meet the "CRAZIES". He took the first 5 from up front and they were all crazies. The next 5 was from all over. Well, he choose Woody. OMG. I was so happy for him. After all, this was his 50th birthday cruise. Now they introduced everyone. Woody got interrupted by "Tiffany" aka, Janey. You see they asked Woody who he was with and he said his wife, his daughter and here comes Tiffany. He didn't have a chance to say the Crazies. He'll get raked over the coals for this one. Now the game was 2 groups. Woody is not with the Crazies group. They have a spoon with a very, very, very long string attached to it. They have to weave it in between their clothes. It goes down the ladies' shirts and down the men's pants. There are 5 on each team and most people had been drinking. HAHA! Especially Tiffany. The Crazies Team did pretty good but they forgot to include Chiefie and every time Kyle (CD) went to talk to someone - here comes Tiffany. Her team mates started roping her "in" to keep her in control. We were laughing in the aisles. Ok, they did it again. This time it was start to finish and to remove the spoon at the end. Now Woody had on cowboy boots and he had to take off his boots to play the game. I don't really know who won and it doesn't really matter, but when the spoon came out of Woody's team, the spoon was bent. Now what did it hit to bend that spoon? OUCH!!! I know everyone really enjoyed the show.
The rocking of the boat was great, but still got up at the butt crack of dawn to see the sun come up. Coffee comes first. So I'm off to deck 9 for coffee. All the workers were busy cleaning and moving about. It seems that there are no strangers on board. Everyone that I came in contact with was just like old friends. I meet this one guy - his name was Choctaw, at least that's what his hat said. He was a nice guy born in Oklahoma, but now lives in Texas. Oh, I won't hold that against him. Don't take that the wrong way. My whole family is from Texas. I'm the only one from Oklahoma. It's an old family joke. Oh, never mind. Okay, I have my coffee and I do a double take outside. It's still dark, but it looks like there are buildings all around us. I'm saying to myself - what the foo... I'm running up those stairs to deck 10. Thank goodness, it's just low laying clouds. I thought they were buildings and we had to go back to Galveston and no one told me. It was quite a relief. I took some amazing photos. I really don't like sunrise pics, but we were eating when the sun goes down. I'm settling for sunrise pictures. It's an amazing sunrise. The different colors are brilliantly arranged and slowing coming over the horizon. They are pink, red, yellow, and purple. There is every color of the rainbow. Here comes that word again. It's AMAZING!!!
We had breakfast from the aft buffet. The breakfast is great and can go back for seconds. Later on in the day we went to the tours show given by Kyle. I thought it was pretty boring, but we did get some pretty cool coupons. I think in the afternoon we went to the cooking demo. No it wasn't in the afternoon. It was right before lunch. The smells were overwhelming. I'm starving and ask to leave. Everyone else said, "Let's go eat". I got my recipe for hot melting chocolate cake and we were out of there.
Aundrea and Jeff are off to the hot tub and Woody and I are off to the M & G for Cruisecritic. There were a lot of people there that we haven't met, but we did know them from the threads. Mach, Stitch, Janey, G and No G, Chiefie, Six, Chevelle, Blaster, Lambie. There are too many to mention. This is where we got our certificates and did the judging for the flip flop door decoration contest. There was a lot to be judged and I'm not sure won won, but it was fun. Way to go Crazies. Now, I'm not really sure if the M & G happened at this time slot or not, but it sounds right to me. Lambie and Mach really took over and kept things going. Our beloved cruise director, Kyle, came by and gave us a little talk and welcomed us aboard. What a great way to start the Crazies Cruise.
Our first formal night was great. Woody looked so good. And Tiffany thought so too. Shame on you Tiffany for trying to take my man. HaHa!! I think she took our picture 10 times. Woody did look "HOT". We had our picture taken so many times that we were seeing stars all through dinner. Aundrea and Jeff were great. Aundrea got to dance with Kyle the CD. The look on her face was fantastic. She was so happy. It was great getting all dressed up and looking pretty. The food at dinner was fabulous. The wait staff sang on the main stair case and it was a waltz. Woody asked me to dance. Ok, but where? Well, we found some place. I always enjoy dancing with Woody and have always kept my eyes on him, but for some reason I caught someone looking at us in the main dining room. It kinda shook me up and I stopped dancing. I'm not use to people watching us dance because we are always on the dance floor with other couples. For some odd reason we kept dancing and I saw Mach take our picture and so did Aundrea. It made my day and a perfect ending. We are off to bed.
1st port day - Key West. We are up on deck 10 looking for Floatie. We've text back and forth and we finally find her. I have pictures of her waving her arms back and forth and the darn hat. You know the one. We got off the boat and hugged Floatie and Julie and took pictures with them. We took pictures of the ship. Wow she is enormous. It is unbelievable that we just walked off that ship. Will she wait on us to get back? I sure hope so. I sure wish Momma Floatie could have been there. Her 75th birthday was the day before. We missed seeing Hey Jude and Dan. Darn!!! I know Floatie was disappointed that we couldn't hang all day with her, but we did have an agenda to get to the furtherest most point of the USA. We needed those pictures. We took a cab ride when we couldn't walk any more. We did a lot of shopping and picture taking. We ate at Cowboy Bills. The Mexican food was great and very reasonable. I thought it would be at least 10 to 15 a plate. We split a plate of enchiladas for $12.00 and had 2 margaritas for $10 bucks. Not bad. I didn't realize just how big this place was. It is huge No, I mean really huge. I'd recommend Cowboy Bill's to any one. She is the best waitress in Key West. We did run into Floatie and Julie at some bar along with Six and Chevelle. They were smoking. On the way back we ran into a real live "Pirate" complete with a peg leg and a ship tattoo on his chest and a parrot on his shoulder. That was a perfect ending to a perfect day in port. There are wild chickens (pretty ones) running loose all over the island. I asked the cabbie why. His reply was - do you know why the chicken crossed the road? To keep from getting run over! HaHa!!!
We are back on ship pretty early, so we set in the hot tub. Ahhhh!!! It's so relaxing. SWAP, is at the secret door. We couldn't see the sunset, but this was amazing. No one is out there except me and Woody and then we meet Patrict. He's a DJ from Texas. He will also be in the Legends show. Dinner was good. I had steak tonight. We had to tell Ricardo that we won't be there on Wednesday. We had dinner plans at the Point. We can't wait. Early night tonight because a big day tomorrow. It's Freeport today. We are going snorkeling. Me with claustrophobia. HaHa!! I hadn't really planned on getting in the water, but we would be on another sail boat. We will be on a 56' catamaran. This is right up my alley. I need to back up just a little. We didn't book with Carnival and we knew it was a risk, but Captain Tony was highly recommended. And I would use him again and recommended him to everyone I could think of. His booking agent over booked in the am tour and they called us if we would move ours to the afternoon. I was very concerned when Aundrea called me. We had to be back on board by 4:30. Captain Tony guaranteed us being on the ship in time. So we agreed. We took our time getting off the boat and grabbed a taxi to do some shopping first. You have to take a cab to get to the shopping area. This port is all industrial area. The main thing on the island is oil and tourism. I t looks desolate. The shopping area is great and the straw market was great. This is where I got sick. My blood sugar dropped like a led brick. Thank goodness for one of the ladies in one of booths. She knew what happened and told Woody where to get me a coke. I look up and they are leading me into this diamond store and then we were in grocery store. This place is weird. Or at least I felt that way. The coke did the trick. I feel good. We are off to go eat. We go into this place that serves conchs and hamburgers and other stuff. It was suppose to be a 4 star place to eat? I don't think so. The sail boat leaves in 15 minutes and we haven't gotten our food yet. We ate it on the run. My burger was raw and bloody. I didn't eat it. We are off and running to the boat. Wheeee ....we made it. Captain Tony is on the way. You can reach Captain Tony at 242-646-1051 or at Snorkel@sanddollarcruise.com. I would give this excursion a 5 STAR rating. He had subway, which a smarter choice. They handed out our snorkeling gear and made sure everything fit right. Especially the face mask. It is the most important part of the gear. It's a fit. I told him about my claustrophobia. He told me not to worry, that he hadn't ever had a failure yet. We went up front with some help. They were very respectful and helpful for those of us that doesn't have good balance. Woody stood at the front edge of the sail boat with nothing to hold on to except a railing between his knees. He's an iron worker and a sailor. This is nothing uncommon. We both windsurf and neither of us has been on a catamaran. Go figure. Ok, we have dropped anchor and I know my time is coming. I'm scared. I know what is in that water. I use to teach dissection class at our zoo. I really didn't what any part of it. Tony was chumming. That means, throwing bread out to bring in the fish for us to see. Aundrea and Jeff are already off the boat. They are experienced snorkelers. They went snorkeling with one of the crew members. He dove down and brought up a spider sea star. Jeff holds it and then Aundrea. She gives it back to the crew member and he fed it to another fish. They did get pictures of all this. How cool was that. He throws a round doughnut connected to a rope out. I knew that was for me. He put a jacket under my arms to help with floating and away I go. The first thing that happens is my legs cramp up and I'm getting out. Captain Tony jumps in and helps me. He is so patient and kind and he teaches me to snorkel. I'm actually breathing under water. My breathing slows way down and I relax. You see everything. The outside world doesn't exist anymore. It's just you and those darn fish. I come up to tell everyone what I saw. Captain Tony was laughing with me that I had succeeded. Woody sees a jelly fish and I'm done. I know what they can do to you. And I have allergy to bees. Heaven help me if I get stung. Nick does get stung and he is green and quiet and struggling to get on the boat. Boy, was it a trick to get a big person like me on the boat. Tony told me to put my foot on bottom ring and then straighten it when the wave is at the bottom and the wave will throw you up on deck. He was right. I sure swallowed a lot of salt water. I am so glad I didn't drink any rum like Woody did. He fed the fish this day....and then I did. I am so glad I didn't drink any rum. It could have been worse. We made it back on the ship in plenty of time for sail away, which we saw from the secret door. It's the best place to be, if you don't have a balcony. I'm not spoiled yet to a balcony, so I really don't know about such things. It's pretty cool to be out there by yourself.
We are off to get ready for the "Point". It's a specialty restaurant. We did dress up, but not formal. Dinner takes about 2 ½ hours. I really don't know how many courses they serve, but it was amazing. It didn't seem to take that long. The only bad thing about this experience is that the ladies room is one floor down. At the end of dinner they bring out the menu for dessert. It's chocolate of course. The guys chose fried apple something or another. They bring the dessert out on a 12" by 4" crystal platter with 4 oblong jiggers of chocolate on them. I have one word "AMAZING". This is worth the extra money that you spend. It's an experience you won't ever forget. And remember to take pictures of your food. It will make your mouth water later. Ah, the memories. We are up early, but not so early. We are up on deck 10 aft when we pull into the port of Nassau, Bahamas. We see 2 ships come in, The Pride and something else. We also see a Bahamas vessel there to protect us. You could tell that it had machine guns attached to it, but it's now covered up. Just a little scary, but at the same time I'm relieved. That they do have good security. Now we are debarking at the front of the ship and then we have to walk all the way back to the aft. That's 6 football fields. We get the usual pictures in front of the Welcome to the Bahamas sign. Ok, that's done and we just intended to do shopping. Until we run into David. He makes a deal that we can't refuse. $25.00 for a 3 hour tour. What a deal. This tour is the best thing that we could have done. David was wonderful. His name is David Curry Jr. At taxi # 1134. You can reach him by phone or by e-mail. Phone # is 424-426-8106. E-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org. I insist on sitting up front. Woody and Aundrea and Jeff are in the back of the van. Now, the drivers in Nassau ,drive on the left side of the road and they have one rule. It's called blow and go. The biggest vehicle has the right of way, even with the local police. They can turn within inches of one another. This scares the crap out of me. He gave the complete history of the island. He showed us the poor side and the wealthy side. He showed us the water faucet where everyone in the poor communities gets their water. It's located on the street corner. There's not running water in their homes. Now these people do not pay taxes, but the government makes up for it by tariff tax. If they pay $15,000.00 for a car, they pay the government another 60% of what they paid. If you bought a house, and it stays in your family without reselling it, there is no tax. If you sell it, they pay the taxes forever. He takes us to the fort and we get a free tour. This is where we did most of our shopping. They didn't grab at us and they were very polite. We did get to see the Queen's staircase. That was a little disappointment. The waterfalls were turned off. We met David 30 minutes later. We are off to Atlantis. Atlantis is an all inclusive resort. It's really more than that. The pictures are fabulous. The aquarium is top of the line. We saw a Manta Ray that was 15' across and 10' long. I went upstairs to get a picture from up top. This Manta Ray was chasing a fish and it came flying out of the water. Of course, I got the picture. It looked like this "thing" was flying and about to go into orbit. I was lucky this whole trip getting the right picture at the right moment. We were lucky enough to get a picture of the magistrate carrying his wig. You know the white one that you see in the movies. Well, I got the picture of the bag that he was carrying it in. The John Travolta case is going on and they were interviewing him in from of the court house. Wow..... In my opinion, this is the only way to see Nassau. It's too far to walk and if you rent scooters, you will get lost. We had David drop us off at the main straw market. I got grabbed by people who wanted me to buy Cuban Cigars. Scared the crap out of me and I tried to climb back into the cab. David to the rescue. He just flat told them, that we were his family and to behave. That they knew better, they weren't supposed to grab ladies. It made me feel better. We did a little more shopping and on the ship I wanted to be. Boy was we tired.
A good shower and some relaxation is what we needed. At 6:15 we went and played ½ price bingo. I'm not a winner, but that's o.k. We made a decision. Woody was going to try out for Garth Brooks. There is one catch - try outs is right in the middle of dinner. So here we are, at try outs. Well, he made it. Bang, Bang and we're done. And off to dinner we go. We are late, but we made it. Dinner is great as usual. I love to see everyone up and dancing with the wait staff. That's cool. Off to bed.
The next morning is the Crazies remembrance ceremony. At first I thought, how gloomy. Then I thought - this might be really nice. I am so glad I went. The pictures of sunrise were wonderful and the release of grief was great. Thank you Lambie. I got back to the room and found Woody still sleeping. I got the best picture of him just a snoozing.
Today is Friday and it's lounging day. Nothing really planned, except to stay out of the sun. All of us are sporting a pretty good sun burn. We went to the ice sculpture demo. That was pretty cool. Woody spent most of the time rehearsing and in the afternoon they had rehearsal. He got to meet his "date" - no I mean his escort for behind stage. His date was only in his minds eye. Everyone seems to be pretty uptight including Woody. I just hope everyone can pull it off. They said there was going to be monitors on the stage. That's a relief. It's hard to hear yourself when the music is playing. Woody sings a lot on stage and always has a monitor. In the afternoon we went to the marriage game. Woody and I almost got chosen. Some of the questions were: 1 Where did you meet? 2. How would you rank your first kiss? From 1 - 10 3. What is your husband's most disgusting thing that he does? 4. You haven't seen ugly until you have seen my wife's_________. 5.Where is he the most macho? 1 - in bed 2- in his head 3- or I don't remember. 6. When is your husband the most amorist? 7. ?????? 8. When you husband gets out of the shower, how would he describe himself? 1- a limo 2 - a ford dump truck 3- or a pink v.w. w/ 2 flat tires. 9. finish this statement - Love making hasn't been the same since_________ 10. If your husband was left on a desert island, what would he want? 1 - a hooker OR 2 - a Nun. Woody and I took the test in the audience and we only missed 3. What fun we had.
In the afternoon, we had the Crazies M&G, complete with alcohol. Boy did we all get pretty plastered. Aundrea and Woody were doing races with whiskey sours. I think Aundrea won. Six was handed Mach's leopard PJ's and he actually went and put them on. It took Woody and Blaster both to pull Six out from behind the curtain. I even got pictures of Six changing, but won't share them. What a great time we all had. By the time we left there, I for one was completely sober. HaHa!!
Its formal night and most of the Crazies are at the "Point". We made due without them. The food was wonderful as always. I'm pretty beat. We walk around on the top deck and try and relax. Our feet and legs hurt so bad, that we decide to turn in. Woody needs to practice anyway.
It's Saturday. It's up and atom for breakfast. But we just didn't get up early enough. The rush was on at the buffet so we went to the Monet. First time I had eggs benedict. I didn't like them. It was something about the whites being too runny. We had great table mates. An older couple, a single man w/out his wife, and 2 more couples. We were the last to leave. I wanted to stay and drink my coffee in leisure.
Woody had practice at 12:30 and got fitted for his costume. It's just his hat and shirt. He had everything else. Rehearsal went well and I took lots of pictures. Everyone was very nervous, but they pulled it off. This is where they met their escorts for back stage and Woody was speechless for a while. She was a knock out. VaVaVoom!!!
Okay, we went to see the game show. I ended up on stage. I had no business being up there. I couldn't hear a thing that was said or the tape recording that was played. I did get one answer right. He asked me what I had for breakfast. HaHa!!!
We went back to our cabin for a while until I had to go down and save a place for Aundrea and Jeff. I took a bottle of wine with me and had the whole bottle to myself. Janey sat next to me and then Aundrea and Jeff finally showed up. I absolutely love the show. I didn't get to holler as much as I want because Aundrea was filming. At one point Chevelle and Six came in, in their toga outfits. It was quite a showing and a lot of guts. They lived up to being a true Crazie! The show is over and everyone had done their job well. They go to the lounge to get their picture taken and for autographs. Aundrea got most everyone and Aretha was so pleased and amazed that we wanted their autograph. We had so much fun.
After the show, we all met back in our cabin for Woody's birthday cake. We didn't get to do it on Wednesday so we did it on Saturday. There was too much going on. Oh, by the way Woody and I forgot to pack. We had rehearsal, dinner that we had to leave early for, then to be back stage. We had no time to eat or anything. Aundrea and Jeff went to our cabin and packed our stuff for us. Thank You!!!! I know I won't find anything for a while, but that's ok. We went on board with 4 suitcases and walked off with 11. OOPS! What a day and what a night we had.
Woke up by the ship turning very abruptly and I yelled at Woody to get up she was dancing! This is the one thing that we wanted to do. It was to be on top when we came back into Galveston. Wow, what a trip. You could see everything coming into Galveston. It was quite a sight. We went to breakfast at the buffet and went back to the cabins and retrieved our stuff. We knew we needed to be out of our cabins by 8:30. So we waited until they called our number. Ours was 16. Darn. We left the boat, not sad, but happy. We had a glorious V A C A T I O N!!!! And this won't be the last time we see her. Getting our luggage was something else. We needed a porter. And we couldn't share one. It went very quickly. No x-raying or anything. They just asked a few question and we were done. Now getting it to the truck is another story. It's relaying the suit cases. The men did all the hauling and Aundrea drove the truck and I stood guard over the luggage. The moment we stepped off the ship, guess what happened? Our allergies came rushing back. Darn and Crap. If I had to rate this cruise, it would be a 5 star cruise. The food was fabulous. The steward was great. The service was good. The only thing I would change would be the scheduling of on board activities. The auditions for Legends were during the dinner hours. There was also a gap during the days at sea. There was very few choices. So you see, there is not a perfect cruise, but pretty darn close. The whole reason I wrote this review is so that we don't forget anything that we did or what we saw or what we felt. To the reader - I apologize. This was our 9 day vacation and not just a 7 night cruise. We are at home now. It took me a week to finish this review and I'm not sure I want it to end......