Monday, September 19, 2011

Getting Back to a Normal Life---Whatever that is!

After many months of planning and talking about it, we just got back from a cruise vacation with our son and his family.    So there were seven of us on board the Carnival Ship Elation, leaving out of Mobile, AL with stops in Progreso, Mexico and Cozumel.    We had been planning the trip since Christmas time last year, so we had built up plenty of anticipation about the trip.   The grandkids were super excited since they had never been on a cruise ship before.    I have to admit all of us were looking forward to a few days of being pampered and treated like royalty by the crew and staff of our ship and we were not disappointed!

We boarded the ship on a Saturday and right away got to experience the famously touted Buffet in Tiffany's on the ship.   We had some time to kill while our rooms were prepared and the luggage distributed to our staterooms.    So we ate lunch and then explored the ship from front to back---er'a---Bow to Stern.    Starboard and Port, as well.  Having grown up with a boat in our family, all those nautical terms for parts of the ship were pretty familiar to me, although I confess it has been a long time since I used them so much!   So we got to know our our ship and then before we knew it, we were under way.    They never blew the horn in Mobile so when we slipped away from the dock, it was without a lot of fanfare or hoopla.   The decks, however, were lined with passengers peering out at the water, the familiar landmarks of Mobile fading into the distance.     It wasn't quite like the QE2 leaving NYC harbor but pretty darn close!  
                                                               Embarkation Photo
So off we went,  headed south toward the Yucatan.  We had been watching the weather for days--maybe even weeks---while Nate churned down in the Bay of Campeche.   Mercifully, he meandered into Mexico as a Tropical Storm and caused us no delay or distress.     Our first night in the dining room with our wonderful wait staff (Vernon, Ronny and A Ngurah) was a real treat because we were seated at a window table with a magnificent view of the sunset over the Gulf of Mexico.   Later in the meal we all indulged in the first of many servings of their famous Warm Chocolate Melting Cake.  By the end of our trip when it was time to order dessert, Little Miss Luci said confidently to the server, "You don't have to bring me a menu.   I KNOW what I want!"   

And so our trip went day by day enjoying the great service and friendly atmosphere aboard the Elation.   We stopped in Progreso where we saw the Mayan Ruins of Xcampo and the little town that reminded me of the Mexico I saw as a youngster.    There is much poverty there but the people seemed cheerful and were industriously selling their wares of friendship bracelets and assorted "silver looking" jewelry.   It was a reminder to all of us how fortunate and blessed we all are and that we should help those less fortunate than us as a small token of our gratitude.   We took a double decker bus tour around the town that took only 20 minutes or so to complete.    Then we sat for a while by the beach and drank Cokes and Diet Cokes from glass bottles using straws.    That brought back some memories for sure.   When was the last time we saw Coke in a bottle?? 

After a quick trip through the market where I quickly purchased a colorful straw fan (only a $1.00 US), we waited for our tour to begin out to the ruins.   It was hot, hot and hotter, even in the shade and made me doubly aware of what the tropics are like.   The mosquitoes there were quite large and only so happy to have lunch on Luci's back and our legs.   A quick spray of Off! and that seemed to disperse the natives eager for fresh meat.   After our tour at the ruins was completed our guide took us back to our ship where we happily retreated to our staterooms for some well earned rest and the most welcome hiss of the air conditioner going full blast!  

Every night after dinner we took advantage of the entertainment on board provided by young, energetic singers and dancers.     Never seeming to notice the slight rock and roll of the ship as we plowed on through the Gulf of Mexico, they danced with wild abandon and much enthusiasm, as only the young can do!   The two youngest grandkids kids went to Camp Carnvial and Gavin took advantage of the Circle C program for those between childhood and older teens.    They had a blast playing games and going on Scavenger Hunts all over the ship.   One night there was a Night Owl Party for the young ones and they got to stay up until the wee hours of the morning.    Our second night on board,  we all put on our finery for Elegant Night and had that time immortalized in a portrait made on one of the winding staircases.  

     Elegant Night on the Elation 
Our stop in Cozumel was preceded by the most gorgeous Caribbean Blue water we've ever seen.    It was hard to remember that it is NOT artificially colored it was so vivid.  It was also uncharacteristically calm in the geographic center of the Gulf.  Larry commented that he could have been out there in a row boat!   Once in port the color seemed even more eye popping blue.    Our excursion there was a Dolphin Encounter.    Luci had her heart set on doing that once she heard about it so all seven us rode to the place where we were to get in the salty water with the dolphins.    I must admit it was a bit intimidating at first to be right in the water with the gentle creatures since they are somewhat large and very strong.    But we were put at ease by the trainer right away and before we knew it we were sticking out our cheeks for a kiss and giving one back in return.    We got to pet them and found out they are soft almost like velvet.    It was a fun activity and one we'll all long remember!

And then before we knew it, like the Jimmy Buffet song says, "it was time to cruise on back home."    Our vacation was quickly winding down.    One more day at sea and overnight sailing along through the Gulf of Mexico and the port of Mobile was what we saw out our window when we woke up on Thursday.    The huge ropes (lines) tethering our ship to the dock were tied off and the gangway put in place.   After a quick breakfast in the dining room, we all gathered near the Drama Bar to wait our turn to disembark.   That's "get off the ship" to all you landlubbers.    And just as quickly as it began, it was all over and we were headed back to Pensacola.   

We were all worn to a frazzle and had suitcases full of dirty laundry.  Having a lot of fun, too many buffets, late night parties, dancing under the moon, tanning on deck and enjoying fine dining experiences in a short span of time will do that to you.    The time we spent on the ship was so much fun, many memories were made, lots of photos taken and the scenery will long be remembered.  After we got back to the house, we all wished more than once that we could have taken our dining room staff with us when we left.     They were the best at what they do and tried to give us a top notch experience every time we dined with them.    And we all agreed that we gotta find the recipe for that Warm Chocolate Melting Cake.     One more family get together goes into the memory books created with colorful strands of love and affection that adds another section to our evergrowing tapestry of life.    
                                                      Vernon, Ronny and A Ngurah
                                                    Our Waiters on board the Elation


  1. What a wonderful trip and such memories!! Thanks for sharing this!

  2. What, no glaciers? No heart-racing excitement in the ports of call like you can get in Fairbanks? No ulu knives that can cut the tip of your pinky off without you feeling a thing? What kind of cruise was this, anyway? (Although I have to admit that unlimited chocolate lava cake would go a long way toward compensating for the lack of those essentials.)



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