Cozumel (Mexico), Grand Cayman (Cayman Islands), and Falmouth (Jamaica)
02.06.2015 - 02.15.2015
2/6/15 at 2:34 PM (Orlando time)
My journey east has started again!! I'm on my connecting flight from Dallas to Orlando, where I'll meet up with Clare, we'll pick up a rental car, and enjoy a little Downtown Disney and Universal Studios before our Disney Cruise on Sunday. I'm feeling pretty excited. The last cruise was so fun and this time it'll be on a different ship and hopefully we'll get our full amount of time at Castaway Cay. (Last time it was cut short due to a medical emergency where we were diverted to Nassau.)
Only a few more hours . . .
Downtown Disney fun
2/7/15 at 0031 (Orlando time)
Tired and off to bed! Great evening in Orlando. Met up with Clare at the Avis rental counter and picked up the car. They told me I had a Mustang or I could downgrade to a Nissan for better gas mileage. Umm, I'll take the Nissan. ;-)
Clare with her lollipop and handmade Mickey cover made by my mama
We opted for the fun bar at the Rainforest Cafe
We headed off to Downtown Disney, singing along with the radio along the way. We had dinner at Rainforest Cafe, of course not before trying at T-REX. I will eat there one day! We did some shopping, I picked up some Minnie Mouse ears for my pirate costume, and then headed on down to our AirBNB room. Cheryle met us warmly, giving a quick tour of the house. We found out she was an interior decorator and we met her friend Katherine, who is a volcanologist (which excited me very much, considering my new found love of volcanoes). Although we were sad to hear the pool wasn't heated, we had a good time chatting with the lovely ladies as I got to know their shy kitty who ended up letting me give him some pets.
The most interesting part of our AirBNB accommodations. A teal accent wall covered with the owner's travel memories.
An intriguing art piece greeted us as we entered the home of our AirBNB hosts.
Now, on to bed before Universal and Harry Potter!!
2/8/15 at 0215 (Orlando time)
Feeling the connection of all things tonight . . . sitting and watching the film 'Nebraska' with a volcano specialist while staying in an AirBNB home . . . the first time I watched 'Nebraska' was in a friend of a friend of an AirBNB host's home on Faial, the island I stayed at on my way home from the volcanic island of Pico. I also connected with the film 'Nebraska' itself, recognizing the struggle of a family member with dementia and wanting to travel to Nebraska where I have family living from my father's side.
The film concluded, the crackling of the fireplace ambers died down. Clare & I spoke with Catherine (a fellow AirBNB patron) of wild dolphins and the deep dark ocean, lost loved ones and spiritual natures, healing chi, and asking what is the appropriate price to pay for assistance in healing? I find myself very taken with Catherine and her animated speech, outgoing nature, and precise accent, talking of dangerous volcanoes and caring for her family.
Before this late night experience, we went to the new Harry Potter Diagon Alley area in Universal Studios, rode the Hogwarts Express, the new Gringott's ride, danced to Beetlejuice music, ate earl gray & lavender ice cream, sipped on butter beer, and had a good time overall.
The Dark Mark!
I wonder where the other Vanishing Cabinet opens up . . .
Edible Dark Mark? You don't say . . .
It was a little stale
Now to sleep, and tomorrow our cruise!!
2/8/15 at 1939 (Orlando time)
First time on the Disney Magic
The famous Mickey Mouse helmsman statue of the Disney Magic
On the ship and officially off and sailing, rockin' and a-rollin'! We've unpacked, enjoyed the pool, talked to Guest Services to verify our $150 onboard credit, took frownie-face photos when we realized a nearby scheduled rocket launch was cancelled. The door is decorated and now we're on our way to our first dinner at Lumiere's. =)
We were so sad that the rocket launch was cancelled!
2/9/15 at 1725 (Orlando time)
Sitting in the Promenade lounge, listening to softly sung cover songs and munching on chicken tenders while I wait for the Villains show to start. Today is our first day at sea and tomorrow is Cozumel, Mexico. It's a special day for me as I've often remarked how I've had the opportunity to travel the world but haven't been down to see our neighboring country yet. While I still need to visit Baja California, I'm looking forward to seeing Cozumel. We booked an excursion to see ruins and then do some swimming on the beach.
This morning we ate at Palo for brunch, which was a first. It was delicious, as expected. Buffet style combined with hot plates, and food varying from freshly baked muffins and melt in your mouth cinnamon rolls to oysters rockefeller and caviar to chocolate dipped strawberries and tiramisu. Mmmmm, can't wait to go back for dinner later on the cruise!
2/13/15 at 1901 (Orlando time)
I have officially been slacking on my travel journal duties. Been relaxing and running around simultaneously, enjoying Mexico, Cayman Islands, and Jamaica! Sitting now in the Cove Cafe on deck, and it's our second (and last) day at sea. Listening to guitar covers of Norah Jones, cheating before dinner with a prosciutto and salami plate with crackers, chunks of fresh parmesan and carrot sticks with veggie dip. Sipping on the tart blue drink of the day garnished with a slice of fresh lime, I was enjoying my last hour by relaxing in the warm room that smells of freshly brewed coffee, silent BBC World News playing in the background as I flipped through the New Yorker and Martha Stewart Living. It's semi-formal night at dinner and we'll be going to a show of Buckets-N-Boards after, so I'll need to head out to get ready soon enough.
A quick recap of the past few days . . .
- tour of the island, animated Ivan (pronounced E-Van) as our guide and Pepe the previous NYC cabbie navigating through the narrow roads, quick look at the ruins and time on the beach, swimming in the light azul water with sand kicked up, tested out my water proof camera, rinsed off and headed back to port, where we walked around and did some shopping, enjoying the glittery sculptures set up along the ocean
Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
- diverted Spot's Bay due to rough waters which would affect the tender boats, spontaneous markets set up with locals selling conch shells, slicing coconuts to drink, and of course, assorted t-shirts and other mass produced keychains, pens, and the like, took a complimentary bus to George Town where we did some shopping, walked down the road to the fabulous 'Da Fish Shack' sitting right on the beach, took up a patio seat and felt the wind, listened to the waves, and enjoyed the free WiFi as we both contacted our loved ones, then headed back to town where we took the complimentary bus back to Spot's Bay, then hopped on a tour where we stopped in Hell, Cayman Islands for approximately 10 minutes, sent out some postcards and took a picture with the interesting formations, then went on to the turtle farm where we were able to wade into water tanks and hold 4 and 6 month old turtles, which will be released into the wild when they reach 1 year of age, then stopped by the Tortuga Rum Cake factory (which was not on the tour but our driver told us was nearby), picked up a few including regular, chocolate, and key lime, then headed back to the boat
Cayman Turtle Farm
- first off the boat to do some shopping which included Jamaican coconut cream liquor and a handful of wood carvings, flirted with the locals for a good deal, returned to the boat to drop off my goods, then headed out on our excursion to Green Grotto Caves with Daniella as our guide, then Che as our guide in the caves, made friends with a lady & her daughter where we took photos for them, then on to the beach where our time was unfortunately cut a little short due to running late, but we enjoyed the clear water and were able to walk quite far out on the sand bank, then returned to Falmouth where I enjoyed a Red Stripe (had to) and some tamarind, took Clare around to the various shops where I found the best deals, then returned to the ship where we munched on chicken tenders and sat by the water until we headed out of port
Jamaica's Green Grotto Caves
We are having a great time, relaxed and with an easy flow. I think with so many trips together, Clare and I have a good understanding of how each other are, and know in what ways we are different and in what ways we are alike. Together is fun but we also don't hesitate to tell each other that we're going to separate off and check out that movie or show solo. We then return and tell each other of our experiences. Quite well paired travel partners!
Oh, we also are having a good time comparing the Magic ship to the Fantasy ship. We both are in agreement that we love the Fantasy and if we were ever to do a cruise again, no Magic. =P
Now on to Castaway Cay tomorrow, which is our last stop. We're looking forward to having a better experience there than last time, when our time was cut short due to a medical emergency on board that had previously diverted us to Nassau.
Pulling up to Castaway Cay
2/15/15 at 1501 (Orlando time)
On the plane from MCO headed to DFW, sitting next to two women who are quietly discussing religions and cultures, a conversation that stemmed from my seat neighbor reading a self-help book chapter entitled "How to Stop the Pain." The film playing silently overhead is The Princess and the Frog and I'm enjoying the various night scenes, depictions of candlelight and shining stars, shadowy voodoo figures, and everything else that we link with New Orleans. It reminds me of my trip to New Orleans with my brother David and how I made sure to watch the film before heading out on the flight to meet him. New Orleans where we ate beignets and bananas foster, rode on the Mississippi during a stiflingly humid evening, walked on the broken streets and took the old cable cars, explored the French Quarter and listened to live jazz. It was all in celebration of his graduation from college, a long-planned trip that checked off a big "to see" box for both of us. But I digress . . .
The cruise is over, the Orlando trip completed yet again. Castaway Cay did not disappoint and we were grateful for our 8 hours there. In the morning, the weather was chilly and windy. We were among the first off the boat. After picking up a Castaway Cay shirt for me and a Castaway Cay towel for Clare, we headed directly to Serenity Bay via tram, tested the chilly sea water with our feet before bundling up with beach towels and relaxing on the reclining beach chairs. Every now and then the sun would peak out and we could feel the tease of warmth that would come later that afternoon.
Although it stayed a bit windy, we were able to hop in the water after our afternoon lunch. We exhausted ourselves with about 2 hours of swimming against current, in search of the Mickey and Minnie Mouse underwater statues. We explored the sunken submarine and watched random fish and flowing bits of sea life dance underwater. Our new snorkel gear worked perfectly and my Olympus Tough TG-3 (underwater camera) worked like a charm, taking fun images of fish and of ourselves with snorkel gear suctioned to our faces.
A little wiped after snorkeling
Afterwards, we biked the trail around the island bike path, enjoying the warmth and light breeze inland, stopping occasionally to snap a picture or enjoy the beach view. We took the tram back and headed back to the boat a little early to partake of the drink of the day, grab a warm slice of pizza and watch the last few minutes of "Up" on the Funnel Vision.
The end of the bike trail near Serenity Bay
I stopped by the Future Sailings desk and spoke with them about accommodations and arrangements for those with service dogs. I have been speaking with my parents for sometime about taking a Disney Cruise and am hoping to talk them into it for sometime in 2016. I was able to book a "place holder" cruise for April of 2016 and I have two years to complete the booking, in which we will have a stateroom credit for booking onboard, an onboard credit for using my Disney credit card, and a third onboard credit for booking with Dreams Unlimited travel agency. (EDIT: They only allowed two of these three stateroom credits. Boo.) Not too shabby of a deal . . . only now to convince my parents to go. And possibly find another travel partner for myself. Any takers?
Clare at the Sail Away Party
No Island Info on Castaway Cay today?
Animator's Palate animation night
Gotta have Red Stripe in Jamaica!
The door of our Fink Family neighbors
A mask that the Fink Family made for us
Green Grotto Caves
Face in the Green Grotto Caves
We were surrounded by gigantic coral, proving that in the past Jamaica was once under water
Hell, Cayman Islands
El Arco at San Gervasio
Gotta keep it all lookin' pretty
Trying escargot again
Close up of the chandelier
"The Little Mermaid" on the Funnel Vision