I'm trying to stay on the ball after this trip and write the blog about it pretty quickly!! For those of you that are wondering... I do have a process with my blog writing. When I go on vacation, I take a little notebook with me and towards the end of the night/next morning I quickly write down everything that we did for the day (unless I'm on a city tour... then I'll write down details right as we are on the tour so that I don't forget). I also have my camera on me and I know that I'm going to write my blog so sometimes I take pictures of something that I know that I specifically want to write about. Then when I get home I sort through my pictures, and between my notes and looking at our pictures I'm able to write the blog off of that. As I'm writing my blog, if I realize that I forgot to take a picture of something that I want to write about I'll google it and use that image. I've already realized that I didn't do a good job taking pictures on this trip for my blog (even though I took around 450 pictures!) so I'm going to have to rely a little bit more than usual on Google to help me fill in the blanks (usually about 90% or more pictures in my blog are ones that I've taken, and the other 10% are ones I've borrowed). If you enjoy reading my blog, I would HIGHLY suggest that you start one of your own. I absolutely LOVE going through some of my blogs a year or two later to remember some of the details of the top moments in our life. And I can't tell you how many times Cody has asked me a question about one of our trips and I said hold on let me check on my blog for the name of that... Pictures can help you remember things... but writing it down makes it crystal clear. When I re-read some of my blogs sometimes I feel like I'm right back in that moment and everything comes flooding back to me in a way that pictures alone don't do. An average blog takes me between 2-6 hours to write.... so it does take some work and effort, but it is definitely worth it! I also like sharing our life with our friends and family. People have asked me if I'm ever worried about who reads my blogs or if I'm concerned that they know everything about us... and the honest answer is no. I never have, nor ever will, write anything in my blog that I'm not proud to share... so enjoy!
Day 1 - Embarkation Day
On February 25th - March 5th 2017, Cody and I went on our first 8 day cruise to the Eastern Caribbean on Carnival's brand new ship Vista! We had really enjoyed our first Carnival cruise and we decided to head onto Carnival's brand new ship instead of going onto one of Royal Caribbean's mega ships. Cody and I were SO excited to go on Vista... We had researched for months and months ahead of time leading up to our trip, and Vista did not disappoint. Carnival Vista has a new room type that no other Carnival ships have, which is a Havana room. This room basically gives you access to a private area on the aft of the 5th floor (more on that later). We actually booked this cruise over 2 years in advance and we ended up getting the last Havana room on the ship for this year. What I mean is that we were flexible for any cruise that had a Havana room available from January through May and this room was the LAST room on any of those time frames that had this room type available. The room isn't really much more expensive than non-Havana rooms so basically everyone that travels with Carnival wanted access to this new room type, so YAAAAAY us for being able to get one!!
We decided to leave night before our cruise to head down to Miami. Silly us.... we were thinking that we should get down there a night earlier encase of any bad weather... aka a snow storm. Little did we know that it was going to be 75 degrees the day we left! The weather this winter has been fantastic, but it was still wonderful to disappear to the perfect weather in the south for a week. We decided to get a cheap hotel for our night in Miami at an Extended Stay America in Doral. Can you say crap hole?? Holy moly! Cody and I decided that we wouldn't be cheap with our hotels ever again. This place had 3 little pillows for the both of us so we ended up cuddled up all night trying to share the pillows and we threw off the thin sheet because it had stains on it! Yuck! At least we were only there for the night.
We picked that hotel because it was right next to Miller's Alehouse! Yummy!! We sure were excited to get some zingers! It was too funny when we were touching down in Miami, because Cody handed me his head phones and put the song Miami by Will Smith on. I cracked up at him and it was pretty amusing.
We ended up renting a car through Alamo because it was actually cheaper to rent a car (approximately $30) than it would have been to get from the airport to our hotel and then to the port. Alamo was awesome because they had a free shuttle from where we returned our car to the port. We returned the car and then got onto a shuttle bus almost immediately afterwards, but I think that we got really lucky. Some people said that they waited for 6 or 7 buses before they got on! One of the bus drivers honked at us and asked if it was just the two of us and we said yep... so he told us to hop on. There was only one seat left so I ended up pretty much sitting on Cody's lap for the 20? or so minute drive to the port. But that was fine with us! We were excited to be on our way!
So we had read that Carnival was VERY strict on it's check in times. They gave us a window of 12:30-1pm, and we seriously didn't think that we were going to be able to get on earlier than that. Even when we got there they had two lines, one that was for people with the current check in time and another for people with a later time. I thought we were going to have to wait in line until our check in time. But we were there around 11-11:30am so we figured that we mind as well try... Turns out it was no problem! They gave us a boarding zone (26) and told us to get in line and that everyone could check in to get on the ship! We were shocked!!! They had a good system for getting people through the line to get on and it took almost no time at all to get processed in. They probably had 20 or more stations checking people in so it was a breeze. We had to wait a little bit for our boarding zone (they were on 15 when we got there) but we relatively got onto the ship pretty quickly. They told us that our room wouldn't be ready until 1pm, but we tried it any way... and sure enough it was ready by noon. So we dropped off our stuff, had lunch, and then got a drink in the Havana probably before our check in time was even scheduled. So I won't ever go by the times they give us again. We could have probably gotten there way earlier and gotten onto the ship even sooner.
Our plan was to go straight to Guy's Pig and Anchor BBQ but it was closed for technical difficulties. :( so we headed to JiJi's Asian kitchen instead. Now for dinner you have to pay to go to JiJi Asian kitchen, but for lunch it is free. They give you a check sheet and you mark off what you want to eat. It's basically a monoglian wok. The only thing that made me sad was that they didn't have rice there. They only served the meals with noodles. They gave us a small portioned bowl which was fine for a light lunch. That ended up being the only time that we went there though.
We discovered these hand sanitizing stations on the ships and thought they were genius! Do you know the hand dryers that are super charged? You put your hands under them and they immediately start working at warp speed? That is what these hand sanitizers remind me of. You put your hands in and right away warm water starts spraying all over your hands for 15 seconds, and it completely disinfects your hands. We used these little babies whenever we walked past them, and we sought them out before we ate lunch/dinner.
We stayed in room 5229 in the aft of the ship. This was a PERFECT location for us. Most of the entertainment was on decks 3-5 so we had a prime location. We were also only steps away from the Havana area! We loved the location of this room. The only thing that we didn't like was that the Havana Bar was on the other side of our wall and we could hear them playing at night.
Here is the decorations in the hallway of the Havana area.
Here is our room. It was actually bigger than what we had expected so we were pleasantly surprised.
We had a desk area and a closet. The closet was pretty small. It only had a couple of drawers and one area to hang clothes. I heard quite a few people complaining about that, but Cody and I are light packers. We packed everything for our cruise in our carry on and personal bags (yay us! We hate waiting for our bags!) so we didn't have a ton of clothes so it was more than enough space for us.
Our mini fridge was empty so we could actually use it. I hate it when they fill up a mini fridge with mini alcohols or drinks that they are trying to sell us. We were happy to have this little fridge.
Bathroom was a typical TINY cruise ship bathroom. Cody and I couldn't fit in there at the same time, and the shower was pretty tight... but it's a small price to pay.
I was excited that they had USB port chargers. That made it easy to charge everything that we had.
One thing that I didn't like was that they made you put your key card in a slot in order to get power. I wish we would have known this, because we would have brought some other type of card... like a players card from a casino and put it in this slot. We saw other people do this and we were jealous that they knew to bring an extra card and we didn't. Lesson learned...
Now for our ABSOLUTE FAVORITE part of the ship! The exclusive Havana area! This area was beautiful and we loved it there. This area was only available to people who had Havana rooms, and kids weren't allowed in the area! We spent most of our days relaxing here and enjoying it. A lot of people that had Havana rooms... didn't come to the Havana area! We couldn't believe it... what a waste to buy one of these rooms and not use this area. It was never crowded, we could always find a good seat, and the pools/hot tubs almost had no one in them. We actually had one night where we watched the sunset from one of the hot tubs and it was just the two of us in there. They had 2 hot tubs, a pool, and then they had two sitting areas where the water touched your feet.
You can get a better view of the area in this picture. You can see that the pool in towards the rail and then there are two sitting areas in the water. The water from the pool basically sways all around and moves to the hut areas. Under the huts you can sit in the shade and have the water over your feet. I had a very nice time reading my books in there (Yes I read 3 books during our trip!) :)
Here is the outside Havana Bar. This picture was within the first hour or so of getting on the ship, so it was like the only time that the bar was this packed. Normally you could just walk up and get a drink with no wait. Cody swore that the Havana area made the best Long Island Ice Teas on the ship. And he would know because he had a quite a few of them. We ended up buying the drinking package on this ship, because we had enjoyed it so much when it was included on our Norwegian Cruise. Yeah... it was a good thought... but we couldn't nearly drink enough for it to be worth it. I actually felt obligated to drink more than I normally would... but even with that I'm not sure if we broke even on getting it. It was still nice to not have to worry about it, but I don't think we'd buy it again. There was a group of people that we kept running into that had maxed out their drinks (15 per person) every day! Now those are the type of people who for sure need the drinking package, but we didn't quite fall into that group.
Here is the inside of the Havana Bar (at night) you can see the area where the band plays. Basically the head of our bed was on the opposite side of that pillar on the right. Now I think that the bar only affects a couple of rooms on the ship because the people around us or that we talked to in the Havana area said that they didn't hear anything. But beware if you're staying in room 5229 you WILL hear them. Lucky for us, we are late night people so we usually came back to our room with only a few minutes left to their show (12:45 am) but there was one night when we were heading into port in the morning that we did hear them playing all night (2:30am). It actually wasn't the Havana band either that night, it was a DJ that plugged in his giant bass. The bass actually vibrated our room and was super loud. We had to go in there to check it out because we had to know what it was... and that's when I snapped this picture of the whole 10 people in there (and that's being generous!) And the DJ literally stayed in there all night, I was literally about to be one of those people that called down to guest services and say "turn the damn music down!" Luckily the Havana Band was back every other night and we could only hear them a little bit so it didn't bother us that much, but that bass really ticked both of us off that one night!
The Havana area had 6 of these little beauties. Now I will admit there were quite a few times where people threw their clothes/towels in these to save them for the day, but Cody and I were usually able to find one that was open whenever we wanted to lay in one. We went to the main pool area on the last day (and it was crappy weather that day, really choppy, cold, cloudy... basically no one was outside) and EVERY single chair was taken (and by taken I mean it had a towel on it to save it)! I guess if you want a chair in that area you got to get their early in the morning (at least 8am) to get a seat. No thank you! I'd rather have an area that isn't so crowded.
Since we didn't have a balcony on this trip, this was our sail away location. It was the perfect location. I did run up to the top decks before we left most times to get a better picture of the area that we were leaving, but we loved this area. I couldn't recommend staying in this area enough!
Another area that was right outside our room was the Java Blue Cafe and Shake Spot. They had specialty coffees (that Cody took full advantage of) and then they had alcoholic milkshakes, regular milkshakes and spiked/non-spiked floats (that I took full advantage of haha). We hit up this area at least once a day.
After settling in we decided to go on a tour of the spa. We did this on Norwegian and got a free mini hot stone back massage and then a good deal on the actual massage that we ended up purchasing... so we decided to go to Carnival's. Holy two hour tour of the spa (maybe a slight exaggeration... maybe...??). They took us to every nook and cranny and introduced us to every staff member that worked in the spa! Then that staff member proceeded to tell us an in-depth account of what their area does in the spa! It wasn't a bad tour by any means... I just wasn't expecting such an in-depth tour. They took us into the spa amenity area which looked very nice. You can buy a pass for the week (around $350 a person) to use the spa amenities or you can book a spa room and have it included. It was a very nice area. Above is the VIP massage room. And if you're wondering... yes... we did book a couple massage. :)
We ate in the Horizons dining room on all but one night of our cruise. A couple of interesting things about eating in Horizons... first... you have to check in to eat on the 5th floor by the Java Blue Cafe and then you walk down to the 3rd floor for your seating. It was kind of odd that they did this, but it wasn't a big deal for us because our room was literally steps away from there. Another thing was that twice a night the waiters broke out into song and danced! It was actually SO fun! I guess this is part of Carnival being called the fun ship. They turned down the lists and started flickering them and the whole crew broke out into song and dance. The first night they played Celebrate good times. Above is our waiter doing part of his dance haha.
My favorite dessert was the Carnival Melt cake. Yumm! We had these on a few nights. Overall, I'd say that the food on Carnival wasn't necessarily bad... but after traveling on Norwegian I think that we got spoiled, because the food was REALLY good on Norwegian (although we paid more for it on there). Carnival's free food was decent quality and it was a fun atmosphere for sure. Many nights we had a seat next to another group and we were able to talk with them and we got to meet a lot of people that way.
The biggest complaint that people have about Carnival Vista is the theater. Yeah it sucks... even the cruise director mentioned that they all knew that it sucked. It was small and it didn't have stadium/raised seating. There are also big support beams (not in this picture) that block your view. It wasn't what we were expecting at all.
The top section does have elevated seating, but the glass in the front row kind of blocks your view...
Also the most stupid thing ever... they have these little stands on your arm rests instead of tables to set your drinks on. Basically they are too small/unstable to actually put your drink on and they are just in your way when trying to use the arm rests. After a day or two Cody and I both agreed that Carnival needs to just uninstall them. Really odd choice for Carnival to make a theater like this...
This was our cruise director Matt. Ok.. it's official... I've liked both cruise directors on Carnival more than I've liked the Norwegian cruise director that we had. Matt was always around and very active and full of energy. This was his and actually most of the crews last week on Vista because their 8 month contracts were all ending, but even with it being his last week he was still awesome! And I've just realized that I've done a very poor job of taking pictures on this cruise.... I forgot to take a picture of SO many things! So yes... this is one of my first really obvious courtesy of Google pics in this blog. It's actually not even the first one... and it definitely won't be the last one... Yikes! I'll have to do better on our Norwegian cruise in May!
The welcome abroad show was a lot of fun. The crew taught us a dance in the beginning of the show, and they had us do it to Uptown Funk to close out the show. After that they had us all over flow out to the Atrium area (which was just outside the theater) for an after party. They were playing all kinds of fun songs, throwing beads to people, and we were really having a good time. The crowd really had a blast during the song "shout" it was a super fun.
Next we went to the Punch liner comedy club. I love how Carnival has so many different comedy shows. I think that they have 4-6 different shows almost every night. On this night we went to just two shows, and it was pretty funny.
Anyone who has been on a cruise will tell you that at the end of every night you get a towel animal. Well... this particular comedian said that he had his own towel animal... and he proceeded to make a towel animal into a woman's vagina. I won't lie... maybe it's one of those you have to be there things, but it was hilarious!
We were super excited to go to the Piano Bar because on Norwegian the dueling piano bar was our SPOT. The piano bar on Carnival only had one person on the piano and the poor girl was getting over laryngitis. She was still entertaining, and she still sounded good. She was an Australian girl named Natalie. We hung out in the piano bar on a few nights, but it wasn't the same as howl at the moon on Norwegian. She definitely had her posse though, there were at least 3 people that were adoring fans and stayed there the entire night every night. She did have one song called Alice (who the fuck is Alice?!?!) that was a fun song for the group to sing along with. She told us that the comedian that we had just seen often plays tricks on her. First he tells people to ask her why she fakes her Australian accent when she's really from Chicago (which really got her fired up). Then she said he tells people that if they really want her to play her songs that they shouldn't bother with giving her a tip but to show her a picture of their "area". She also said that he leaves her interesting towel animals on her piano haha. I can only guess! This was the first night that we ran into the group that was drinking 15 drinks every day. They gave her a $100 tip and basically told her that she was her bitch for the night and they'd keep telling her songs to play. The women in the group were also really forward/creepy with her. They kept kind of hitting on her and asking her back to their room. I gotta give this girl props... I think this would be a hard job to have because you have to keep the creepers under control.
Another really cool thing on the ship was the Pixels photo gallery. (Wish I had taken a good picture of it) but basically behind these people was a whole wall of digital pictures of people that kept changing. And you go could up to the wall and find your pictures (that's what the lady in green is doing). They had face recognition software that recognized your face and pulled all of your pictures. I thought it was BRILLIANT! Because on past cruises, they simply printed out every picture that they took and hung them up on the wall for people to see. I thought that this was a much more economical/environmental option. Kuddos to Carnival for coming up with this idea! I think that this is the future of cruise ship pictures.
Day 2 - Sea Day
The next day, to Cody's horror, I made him get up early to go to the cruise critic meet and greet at 9am. But first we stopped at the taste bar for breakfast. It was a small area, but it was right outside of our room, so it was super convenient. We grabbed a quick breakfast and then headed over to the piano bar for the meet and greet. Yeah... there weren't many people there and the people that were, were there to complain about various areas of the ship to the officers that came to greet us. Cody and I kind of bounced on out pretty quickly.
Basically if you have too much acid in your body than your liver can't process it all, and doesn't focus on burning fat. They said that your body then stores that excess acid (wrapped in water) in your lymph nodes to process later, and they said that is why people store most of their weigh in their chin, arms, belly, and thighs because that is where most of your lymph nodes are located (they are the green spots in the picture above). Also they said that basically your excess weight comes from having excess acid build up in your body. It was very interesting. Of course, they were trying to sell $100/month red algae pills that have a 14 PH level to help detoxify your body. But I started researching it more after I got home, and I'm really trying to take some steps now to balance out my PH level better. Now, I'm not sure if it's just my body balancing out after the cruise or not, but after my first week of switching my diet to eliminating most acid foods and eating more alkaline foods I've dropped the 5 lbs that I gained on the cruise.
After the seminars we spent the next couple of hours relaxing in the Havana area until we were ready to go the Clue Murder mystery show. They had all of the characters from the original game clue dressed up and walking around through the crowd. They were each holding one of the murder weapons (revolver, rope, candle stick, etc...). It was pretty neat. They each got up and told their relation to the murder victim and their alibi. I wish that it had just been a one time event though, because as it turned out you were supposed to go to different events every day to pick up clues to figure out who did it. Then on the last day you could turn in your ballot with how the murder happened. That was a little bit too much work for Cody and I haha. We just enjoyed the opening show, but then didn't participate in the rest of the game.
Afterwards we started to get ready for the first elegant night of the cruise. We both got dressed up and headed to Horizons. We both got two lobsters during dinner (which were sadly not that great) and then we headed to the Studio VIP tour. This was one of my favorite shows of the cruise. They sang disco type of songs during the show and it was fun to watch. The funniest part of the show was a skit that they did on "Play that funky music white boy." They had a guy come out dressed out super nerdy and they were kind of making of him to the song. It was really funny, and definitely my favorite part of the show. In the end, he "transforms" into a hot guy and is all "stud" like haha!
Day 3 - Grand Turk
On the third day of our cruise we went to our first of four ports which was the Grand Turk! Very beautiful. I think that most people from the cruise ship go and lay on the beach right off of the port.
Our first picture together off of the ship. I think that this is my favorite one of the trip!
I have a thing for getting my picture taken in front of Hard Rock's and Cody likes his pictures taken in front of Margaritaville's.
Here we are at the Grand Turk Margaritaville.
We booked a clear kayaking and eco-tour through Carnival. When we got off of the ship there was an area with all kinds of signs for Carnival excursions. It was very easy to find.
Here is the area that we kayaked. This was one of the easiest experiences that I've had kayaking. It was not very physical at all and it was a nice pace. We would kayak for a bit, and then our guide would stop to point something out to us, and then we'd start going again. I really enjoyed being out on the water. This was the first time that I've been in a clear bottom kayak and I have to say it was really neat! I guess the water was a little murky on the day we were there, so visibility wasn't the best, but it was still neat to see what was under you. We learned that the Grand Turk is only 7 square miles. Basically you could easily see from one end of the island to the other from our kayak. We also kayaked past an old abandoned navy ship that was rusted out and getting eaten by barracudas (who apparently like eating scrap metal). I guess that area that we were kayaking in was dug out by the navy to protect ships from going to sea when big storms hit.
This was our local tour guide named Josf (kinda pronounced Joseph). He was extremely knowledgeable about the Grand Turk and he was an excellent guide. He was very interactive and made sure to point out a lot of things to us. He also gave us tips on how to survive in the wild if we ever got stranded. He said he made a point to do this, because when he was young (15) he and his younger brother (11) were in the Dominican Republic and their boat broke down and had to survive until they were rescued.
Here is Cody putting on his sun screen. We had booked massages at 4pm or right after this tour... so we were hoping that we weren't going to get burned up from kayaking all day.
Towards the end of our tour we stopped at a little beach area, and they had a kayak FULL of different sea creatures. They explained us what they were and let us hold them. I guess every day they go out and try to find different creatures to show their tours and then at the end of day they let everything go. Our guide was really into showing us all of the animals, and I'm so glad that he was our guide! We didn't have our camera's with us so this is actually the next group that went out. Apparently the guide of the other group was afraid of the animals and doesn't touch them or talk that much about them. We also went on a little hike in this area, and Josf pointed out all of the plants around and what their uses were. So lucky us that we got the awesome guide! I think that this was probably my favorite excursion that we did.
Here we are on the truck that took us to and from the ship. Oh my gosh! I can't believe how much wind we got from driving in this. I almost couldn't keep my eyes open because of how windy it was during the drive! Whew!
But I was able to spot the wild donkeys and horses that were roaming around everywhere!! I guess that before the Grand Turk's main industry became tourism, that it used to be salt production. So they had donkeys and horses brought to the island. Now they just let them roam about (Josf said that it was mostly for the tourists benefit).
After the kayaking tour we went to get our massage. We were shocked to find out that our massage was in the "VIP" room. The massages were nice, but I think that Cody and I both came to the conclusion that we liked the experience on Norwegian more. I think that if we get massages we'll probably start just getting them at home, because they are pretty pricey on the cruise ship.
When we got back on the ship, we saw that there wasn't really anything for dinner at Horizons that we wanted that night, so we decided to go to Fahrenheit 555 which is the steakhouse on board. We were right by Guest Services when we decided that we wanted to try to get a reservation so we asked them if we could get one, and they told us that they were all full. The steakhouse was on level 5 (which was our floor) so we decided to stop by and confirm with them. They gave us a reservation with no trouble! We were very excited!!
Here is a view of what the Steakhouse looks like.
They started off with walking through a meat presentation for us. They showed us all the different kinds of meat that they had and asked us what kind we would prefer. Of course we both went with the filet mignon and lobster (which was delicious!!!!).
They started out by giving us compliments of the chef. It was a layered pastry with chicken inside served on a hot stone.
Then they brought us fancy fixings for our bread.
I loved the whole wheat bread.
Then they brought us our crab cakes. We both laughed at the huge plate that it came on haha. But it was probably one of the best crab cakes I've ever had. I also ordered a Moscato that was top notch. I wish that I had asked them the brand, because it was so good. Normally if I order wine, I can't even finish a glass throughout dinner, but on this night I had 2 full glasses of it! I kept telling Cody over and over how good it was too.
I don't think that I've ever had such a fancy baked potato. The sides are butter, sour cream, chives, and bacon.
Here is Cody with his main course. I had the same as him.
Presentation counts at high end steakhouses!
Cody with his giant cheesecake dessert.
When we got back to our room, we told our room steward (Donna) that we had just came back from the steakhouse, and she smiled at us knowingly. Little did we know that the steakhouse sent us a little present to our room, which she had obviously just delivered to our room... Haha of course she knew we'd been there.
Here's what they gave us.
That night we went to the Amor Cubano show. Besides it being sung in Spanish for most of the performance... it was good. The music was upbeat, the costumes were really pretty, and the dancers were energetic and really moving around a lot! If we spoke more spanish it would have been even better. There was one moment in the show where a woman started twerking, and then a guy picked her up and flipped her around and started pounding on her booty like it was a bongo. I think people were pretty shocked, and actually a couple of families walked out of the theater at that point. But I think that was a bit of an over-reaction... Overall, I'd say that day 3 was about a perfect a day. We went on a really fun excursion, learned a little bit about the Grand Turk, had massages, ate at the steakhouse and watched a decent show at night. Pretty hard to beat that.
Day 4 - San Juan, Puerto Rico
Finally we were able to sleep in for a day because we didn't get into San Juan until 1pm. We also finally got to eat at Guy's Pig and Anchor. Mmm the barbecue was very good! It had a really good texture and had a really good flavor. Guy's Burger Joint was also really good too. They had a toppings bar with grilled onions, mushrooms, bacon, and other toppings.
San Juan was the port that Cody and I were the most excited to see. Cody's parents met in San Juan, so I know that he was interested in being there. We were a little bit nervous because we didn't have anything lined up for what we were going to do once we got into port, because all of the city tours that I'd seen were ridiculously expensive. One tour offered us $120 for 2 hours... which I thought was stupid expensive for a city tour. So lucky enough for us when we got off the ship there was a tour company (SJ Happy Tours) there that was in full "geese wrangling" mode of trying to get everyone to go on their tour.... and for $20 a person we figured why not.
Our tour started in Old San Juan.
Here we are below the Governor's Mansion. Little did we know that in about an hour or two after we were there that there was going to be a full out protest of the governor later on in day. As we were trying to finish our tour we got stuck in some wicked traffic. Apparently everyone was heading to the governor's mansion to protest him, and all of the roads got shut down. We could hear them chanting from the cruise ship port. There were literally police standing on every street corner that we passed.
Speaking of the governor's mansion... It's the oldest in the western hemisphere.
I thought that the trees and the spikes around were neat looking.
That was a very impressive cemetery to see.
The whole view in this area was gorgeous.
Apparently, Carmello Anthony is Puerto Rican and this is the court that he used to play at when he was younger. They call it Carmello Anthony's basketball court.
Our tour was supposed to end by a shopping area and near the forts around 3:30pm. Cody and I had talked about visiting the Castillo San Cristobal fort because it is a very popular/highly recommended attraction on cruise critic. Since the traffic was so bad, they weren't able to get back up to drop us off by the fort, and they dropped us off by the cruise port around 4:00pm. I could tell that Cody was upset that we weren't going to have much time there (because it closed at 5)... We almost didn't go, because we weren't sure if it'd be worth it but in the end we hoofed it up hill, which was a fairly decent climb (especially with Cody in sprinter mode to get there before it closed). I'm really glad that we did go, because 45 minutes was plenty of time for us to check out the fantastic view, wander around, and of course take pictures!
Here is Cody impatiently waiting to get in to the fort. I thought he was going to kill me for making him stop to take a picture haha.
The best view was on the top floor. True to form of any old fortification, this fort was steep to climb up.
Spectacular! I wish that they had been open past 5pm because it would have been a beautiful location to watch the sun set.
Here are some pictures of Cody exploring the fort...
Cody exploring the fort some more...
Again... Cody exploring the fort haha. Finally, I told him that he needed to take the camera. Because on every trip, I take like 20 pictures of him wandering around having fun, and then occasionally I'll hand him the camera and say take one of me too. Basically it comes down to our vacation pictures having numerous pictures of Cody, and like 2 or 3 of me. I remembered a post that Aunt Vicky put on Facebook called "Take the damn picture" which basically addresses this exact issue of the woman always taking the pictures and therefore is never in the pictures... So this time, I gave him the camera and told him to snap some of me!
So here we go... pictures of me!
What a view! Got to love the cruise ships in the background.
After the fort we ran to a Starbucks so that I could download a couple more books to my kindle, and Cody was able to call his parents to wish them happy birthdays.
Here we are about to wait in line to get onto our cruise ship. I think that San Juan's port has the WORST setup of any cruise port. They let you off in the front of the ship but the walkway is fenced off so that you can't walk directly out into the city. They purposely herd everyone back towards the end of the ship to walk through a gift shop, and then you basically have to walk the same length of distance through the shop to get to the walkway to get out of the port. And mind you there were 3 cruise ships that they were funneling people through so it took some time to get through it. I was kind of mad, and purposely hoped that no one shopped in that store because it was so blatantly a ploy to try to get people to buy stuff. Can you tell that it irritated me? Sheesh.
That night we went to the Love and Marriage show, which is like the Newlywed Game. We always like watching that, and then we went to the casino for a little while in honor of Cody's moms birthday (she asked us to play for her). So the casino on the ship was a little bit tricky... every other casino that we've been to lets you print out a ticket and move on to the next machine... well Cody presses the cash out button to do just that, and the machine locks up and says that a maintenance person needs to come over. Apparently you are supposed to put your room card in and then the money you have left goes onto your card (to cash out you have to see the cashier). It was rather silly. Wish we would have known that ahead of time, because then we would have for sure put our cards in. The machines looked like like any other machine, so who knew...
Day 5 - St. Kitts
Next day was St. Kitts! We were super excited for St. Kitts because we got to go on the Sky Safari Zip lining tour. Initially this tour was sold out, but they ended up opening up for slots! Yippee! At first, I won't lie, I was a little bit upset because neither one of us wore jean shorts so we couldn't bring our camera with us while zip lining. I was really bummed that we weren't going to get any pictures of the excursion, but there was this gay couple that over heard that I was upset about it and he offered to take a picture for us. I thought that he was only going to take one or two of us, but turns out he took over 50 of us! Most of them we didn't even know he was taking, I was completely shocked when I opened up my email and saw all the pictures he took! But talk about a kindred spirit haha!
This zip line course was different than my other experience with zip lining (in that case there was a hand break that you had to use to stop yourself). Here there was a spring system that you crashed in to and it sprung you back and stopped you. It actually made the experience more enjoyable for me because I wasn't concerned with breaking at the end.
Here is the shop where we got all of our equipment. We quickly learned that our guides were practical jokers, and they kept scaring the crap out of people throughout the whole trip.
Here we are all geared up and ready to go! At first I thought this was going to be the only picture of us for the day, but I knew that we had posed for two other pictures too. So I was only expecting like 3 pictures.
Here is the truck that we all pilled into and then held on for dear mercy as we went up the rickety road to the top of the first zipline. The guides clipped themselves to the back of the truck and they were leaning back and screaming like banshees through the bumps. They kept trying to get us to put our hands up and enjoy the bounciness haha.
The way we were seating, there was a woman right in front of me, and she kept losing her balance and falling into me. The guide told her to hang on, and she was like onto what!?! Looks like I was the object of choice haha. (Didn't know I'd recruited our own personal photographer! I mean... he got some pretty good pictures of us. Yay!!!!)
Pretty sure that was my reaction after that wicked ride! Haha!
Here we are talking to a couple that we made friends with Lori and Jason.
Here we are right before our first zip line.
Here I am looking at Cody right before my first zip line.
Here's Cody watching me getting ready to take off.
Getting ready to go.
There's Cody watching me take off!!
Getting ready for the impact at the end.
Cody coming in hot! When we were done zip lining we actually unattached that grip, held onto it, and then they set it up for us on our next course.
Love my Bebesee! We had a lot of fun ziplining. It was very peaceful and the views were great on the first couple of zip lines. I only wish that there had been more zip lines (They had 5 of them). I feel like we took more time getting our locker and equipment ready than actual zipping. It was kind of like hurry up and wait. We'd be waiting for the people in front of us, and then when we got up it went really fast. But I thoroughly enjoyed it. And I'm actually glad that we left our camera behind, because we ended up getting much better pictures of us from that guy than what we could have taken ourselves!
After zip lining, we went and got some burgers at Guy's burger joint (yum!) and then we headed to the Havana area. It was so fantastic, we practically had the whole area to ourselves. We had a lot of fun in the hot tub with each other as we sailed away from St. Kitts. Wish that guy had been around to take pictures of us then, because I bet we looked super cute together!
As the sun was setting Cody told me to go run and get my camera. I was kind of procrastinating because I didn't want to leave the area... living in the moment ya know... but then I decided that I DID want a picture... So I'm running like a banshee back to our room to get my camera, and I almost missed it! I told him next time I'm either going to bring it with us ahead of time or just sit back and enjoy it. Another couple came in at that point with a couple of drinks, and I think that they had the right idea.
The Havana area was beautiful at night! The area was actually open to the public after 7pm, but no one really came in to take advantage of it. By the way, it was really easy to walk right into the Havana area. They gave you a bracelet that you were supposed to wear, but I never wore it once. The pool guy checked me on one of the first days for it, and I had it on me. After that he remembered me and it was no big deal. I always try to get out of wearing bracelets if I don't have to because I don't want to get the tan lines.
That night we went to the Viva Variety Edge Show. Basically it was a guy that came out and acted SUPER lame. He did very simple juggling tricks and acted over the top about it. I really thought that he was just playing... and that he was just building up to a really good act... but no... nope... he wasn't... he came out with a chinese yoyo and started to attempt to do tricks. It took him like 2 or 3 times to get his tricks right. I swear, if he'd been on America's Got Talent he would have been X'd! I couldn't BELIEVE that this was the show Carnival was putting on. I know that sounds a little harsh, but yeah... it was really the only show of Carnival's that I would say was flat out bad. Carnival says that they are going to send out a survey to get our opinions on things, and this will definitely make it on my comments. After that, we decided to head in early because we had to get up early the next day for our St. Maarten's tour.
Day 6 - St. Maarten
We are big fans of cruise critic and we had heard that St. Benard's tours are one of the top tour companies on St. Maarten, so we booked with them ahead of time. They gave us instructions on how to meet up with them that seemed very simple, and it seemed like we'd find them with no trouble. Well turns out they might have over simplified their directions. We had to be there by 8:30am for our tour, and I was concerned that we were going to miss it. We had to ask around and eventually were able to find them. Wish we hadn't rushed over though because our tour didn't end up leaving until 10:15am. I'm glad that we booked our tour though because there were 5 cruise ships in port when we were there and we would have never found them without already knowing that they were there. There were 3 celebrity cruises, one Royal Caribbean, and then ours all in port at the same time... we estimated around 20,000 cruise ship passengers!
St. Maarten is yet another very beautiful Caribbean island. It is 37 miles and it is split into two sides; French and Dutch. Our guide told us that they literally import everything (besides fresh fish) onto the island.
Here was our tour guide, "Mr. York" that was a pretty easy one to remember... considering that we live off of York road!
Loving the time in the nice weather!
My husband! XOXO
Next we stopped off the side of the road to see a guy with a bunch of iguannas! He had lettuce and he was letting people feed them!
Of course I stepped right up to do it!
I was nervous to take my eyes off of him for the picture haha!
Poor Cody... I went first and he took pictures of me... and most other people went when I did too. So when it was Cody's turn most of the iguanna's left! He was begging this one to get from him.
We stopped at a little flea market type of area. There were probably 50 or more of these little stands set up... all with identical merchandise in them. We ended up buying a dress and a magnet.
Ever since we got married we decided that we would start collecting magnets for our fridge from all of the places that we go (darn that we weren't able to get one in Dallas). Here is our collection of magnets from this cruise from all the ports that we went to.
Then for the crown jewel of the tour... Maho Beach! This is easily the most popular attraction in St. Maarten. It is a beach literally steps away from their main airport. You can sit on the beach and the planes fly right above you.
Here you can see where all 20,000 of those cruise ship guests went too... Haha...
We only had 30 minutes at Maho Beach, but we were able to see 10 or more planes come in. But here was one of the BIG ones coming in!
There she goes! Isn't that cool!?!?!
Right as we were getting ready to leave there was a big plane getting ready to leave, and everyone was running to line up behind it to feel the jet winds. But we didn't do it because these signs (that were posted every 10 feet) were enough to deter us from wanting to stand there too.
Alright... so I've yet to tell you about our friend here, "Pete". We first met "Pete" on our kayaking tour. He was an interesting guy to say the least... He and his wife had some trouble with the kayaking trip, and he left his cane when we got into the kayaks so he was having trouble getting around. He also liked to act like he knew more stuff than our guide did... which clearly he didn't... Anyway... we'd encountered them that day, and then we saw them EVERYWHERE!!! On the ship... there was Pete and his wife... in San Juan we were at the fort, and Cody went to take a picture of me... and who walks in front of me?? Pete's wife! We were like what the hell... I don't know how they even made it up into the fort... let alone be there at the same time as us... at the exact right time to walk in front of our picture. I mean these people were everywhere that we turned! And THEN we are at the end of our tour in St. Maarten getting ready to leave Maho Beach to return to the cruise ship and our guide tells us that we are picking up two more guests to take back to port. Guess who!?!? We were in port with 5 cruise ships... approximately 20,000 people that we could have been joining our tour... and YEP! It was Pete and his wife! Cody and I were cracking up. I told him that he had to sneak a picture of them so that I could put it in my blog... lol
So on the other side of this walkway was the Royal Caribbean Allure ship (one of the RCI mega ships). And both ships were getting ready to leave port around the same time. Well... there were people that were running late to the port, and they were running to make the ship. WELL... let me tell you... if that wasn't the funniest thing I've ever seen. People from both ships were heckling and cheering at these people. There was this guy on our ship that would yell out real loud for both ships to hear, "WE'VE GOT SOME RUNNERS" and then everyone broke out in cheers and started telling them to run. At one point the cruise ship blew it's whistle and the people really started running, and everyone on both ships were going nuts cheering them on to make it on time. It's actually a much farther run than it looks in this picture... so people would kind of start to stop running and the people on the ship wouldn't let them. They were like "Don't stop now! Run forest run! You can DO it!" Oh my gosh... Talk about the run of shame... because there was a big ship full of people watching on both sides of the runway so they had people yelling at them from both sides. It was amusing to say the least. People were booing at the very end (some people were like an hour late!!!) and a golf cart went and picked the people up (I think they actually WERE in danger of getting left behind though). But everyone was booing them and saying cheaters... and they were trying to get the golf cart driver to make them run past us! Remind me to NEVER be late for a departure time. Ahhh!! Talk about your run of shame hahaha!! Sucks for them.... hilarious for me!
That night we went to see the show "Flick" in the theater. I think that it was probably the best show that the ship put on. Basically they re-created/sang some of the most iconic songs from popular movies. I think that Carnival should add some more shows like this. I do like that Carnival has a show every night. However, the two shows that Norwegian put on during our cruise were full broadway plays that were all really good. I'm not sure which I prefer... I'm pretty excited that we are going on a Norwegian cruise over Memorial Day because that will be fantastic time to be able to compare the two cruise lines.
Day 7 - Sea Day
This day was a perfect day weather wise. It was absolutely beautiful out. Cody and I spent the entire day relaxing in the Havana area. I ended up finishing my books series there. We had a nice lunch at the Pig and Anchor and we got some pizza at one point. We also went swimming in the pool today, and I realize very quickly that Carnival lies with their markings of how deep the water is! The pool said that it was 4"4' so I hop in and I come up and I start talking... and then I got a mouth full of water! It was much deeper than they said. Cody had to stand on his tip toes to get his head above the water. That night was the second elegant night ( we didn't get any pictures of us dressed up). That night we went to the America Rocks show which feature rock music and we went to a comedy show. Love the comedy shows on Carnival!
Day 8 - Sea Day
We were pretty lucky for most of our cruise because we had absolutely perfect weather... except our luck ran out on the last day of our cruise. We woke up to a super rocky boat... even the crew were commenting on it being bad. It was also cloudy, VERY windy (therefore kinda cold out). People were wearing jeans and hoodies and most people weren't outside. We turned on the weather station and the weather woman in Miami said that today was a bad day to be on a boat because of the wind. And we were like... well... crap. My plan for the day had been to ride the sky ride and go on the obstacle course in the sky, but it was closed the whole day (rats :( ). I shouldn't have waited for the last day to do it... I ended up going to a ladies pamper party where we were supposed to get free mini facials, and then after that we went to the casino for a little bit. That night I ended up going to 3 comedy shows. Cody caught the last one, because he opted to watch the UNC/Duke game instead. We finished up the night in the Piano Bar, and our last song of the cruise was Alice (Who the fuck is Alice?!?!)
That night at dinner we had our waiter from the previous night, named Alejandro. And he was AWESOME! He remembered us from the previous night and he had high energy and was fun. He had a pepper shaker that he was very enthusiastic about. This was the final night dancing act in Horizons. He saw me trying to take a picture of his outfit and he posed for me!
The final song was Gangnam Style. Alejandro got all of guys in his section (350's) up and had them dance with him! It was great! I'm going to remember Alejandro on my survey that I do as well. They told us that they use those surveys as a way to help figure out who to give a raise/promotion... and this guy was awesome so I definitely want to make sure to call him out.
Day 9 - Debarkation
The next morning we woke up and went to breakfast in Horizons. We thought that this might provide us with a better breakfast then just the quick buffets that we'd eaten all week, but it turns out the stuff on the menu at Horizons was identical to the buffet haha. We'd have probably been better off to just go to the buffet area, but we had to be out of our room by 8am and it was easier to take our luggage down to flights of stairs than up 5. Since we were carrying off our bags ourselves we were able to get right off the ship as soon as we were ready. We went on the 3rd deck and got right off within a few minutes. We got the shuttle bus back to the airport to get our rental car (the shuttle was free because we were getting a rental car). It was way cheaper to fly out of Fort Lauderdale than it was to fly out of Miami, and the drive to Fort Lauderdale wasn't very far away at all. We got off the ship at 8:30am and our flight wasn't until 3:30pm so we had some time to kill. We decided to go to A1A to walk along the beach... which sounded good in theory but it was really windy out so we were pelted with sand! Yikes! We only walked for like 45 minutes and then headed to Miller's Alehouse for lunch.
Overall, I'd say that we had a really good time. We had been waiting a really long time to go on Carnival Vista and we really enjoyed it. We particularly liked the Havana area. I'm not sure how you could go on Vista and not have access to that area. I also really liked the comedy shows on the ship. I love how Carnival switches out the comedians on the ship half way through so that there is always a new show. I would say that on most nights the shows in the theater were good, and we liked having activities to do every night. The food was decent... not the best we've ever had, but certainly not the worst. Personally, I really like to cruise! I think that it's a lot of fun. After our Norwegian cruise in May, I'm not sure when the next time we'll be going on another cruise... it'll probably be a while. But cruises are a perfect blend of relaxation and activities for us. Thanks Carnival for a wonderful vacation.