Wednesday, March 05, 2008

CARRIBBEAN CRUISE VACATION, Part 2.


Day 5: Day 5 we were scheduled to sail into Cozumel, Mexico. We woke up late, after 7:30 a.m., which was surprising, but we also knew we had a longer shore day than usual, and the time changed when we arrived in Cozumel. Don wanted to get to the gym right away for what was becoming his new rehab routine for his Achilles. He had finally been able to use the elliptical and stationary bike the week before, so he was off to the gym for another long workout. Since this was my off day from running, we planned to meet at the endless pool for a swim later. Until this point, I didn't know where it was located, only to find out it was, not surprisingly, right next to the fitness center, as it was also an adults only pool.

Before heading for breakfast, I decided to go to the Internet cafe and attempt to figure out the wireless connection--or lack of--on my laptop, only to find out it was a compatibility problem with my model and the ship's connections. No problem! I hadn't wanted to spend any real time on the computer anyway, but only wanted to be able to store my photos or possibly send some e-mails with pics to family and friends.




I noticed a lot of motion on the boat that I hadn't been aware of before, but until this time, I hadn't been outside yet that day, so I was surprised when I looked out the windows of the Internet room and saw how rough it was. I also noticed it was cloudy and overcast. I was disappointed with this because I had been looking forward to sunshine every day.







I went to the purser's desk after this, where you sign up for any shore excursions you want to do. We hadn't signed up for any yet, and the only one for Cozumel that interested both of us was the Mayan ruins tour, which was 8 hours, so we nixed that. Plus, we would have missed the time frame for doing that. The only other thing I was interested in was a Nautilus submarine tour of the reefs with snorkeling after. But, I found out it was also unavailable. No problem!




I then headed to the buffet dining room to get something to eat before meeting Don later. This was when I noticed that today was the first day they had an employee posted at the entrance to the food line with hand sanitizer, squirting everyone's hands before they entered. They also were not letting you serve yourself, either food or drink, so I had to wonder what changed here.

After breakfast, they started making announcements about being late coming into Cozumel because of the weather, and that the tender boats were also running late. No problem!


I then went to the endless pool, found a seat in the sun, and planned to read until Don arrived. I noticed it was very windy, and while the pool area was open overhead, it was below a sun deck, so was mostly protectly by the wind. Above, on the sun/jogging deck, there is also a paddle ball court, and this area is covered. The winds were howling through here, making it sound much worse than it looked, but the flags overhead were whipping. The sun was in and out of the clouds. I enjoyed about an hour of reading before Don arrived. And then we waited for the endless pool to become operational. The hours for the pool were 10 am to 10 pm. Another woman arrived and began using the pool. She had been here the day before as well, not a swimmer, just doing some water exercises.


When 10 am rolled around, we both wondered who was supposed to come and turn on the machine that controlled the current. We waited about 10 more minutes and then Don asked the woman if she knew. "Its already on," she said. Oh, that's right. The time had changed, but the pool clock had not, so it had been on the entire time I was sitting reading! We waited some more, waiting for the woman to finish and leave. But she didn't. Ten minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes. All right, I've had enough I told Don. I want to get in that pool. We're wasting our day here. He finally got in when she swam to the other end of the pool to try out the current. We had been told it wasn't that strong, and there didn't seem to be any way to adjust it. And it wasn't very strong. I finally got in there as well, but couldn't control my stroke enough to go slow enough to get caught in the current, so finally gave up and headed to one of the other pools nearby. It wasn't occupied since this was a shore day, so again I had the pool mostly to myself. Don came and joined me after a while, and when I finished my swim, I headed to one of the deck chairs to relax and wait for him.


It was still very windy, overcast, and cloudy, but finding a spot in the sun it was comfortable enough. We finally decided to go shower and eat lunch before heading to shore. We actually had until 5:30 this day to go to shore and catch the last boat, instead of 3:30 like other days, so we weren't in that big of a hurry. I had pretty much figured it wouldn't be a beach day because of the clouds and wind, so we just planned to shop and wander around for a while.




At lunch, we again noticed the sanitization restrictions. It wasn't that big of a problem with the eating lines, but now you couldn't even help yourself to a glass of water, so that did become frustrating.


I noticed while eating how much motion there was in the boat. There seemed to be a continuous vibration and swaying, but Don said he didn't really notice it. After lunch, we headed immediately to Deck 4, where we were to take the tender boats to shore. By this time, no "ticket" was needed, meaning there wasn't any line waiting, so we figured we would have no problem getting ashore quickly.

How wrong we were! There was a long line, probably 100 people, waiting just to board the tender. We arrived just as they were attempting to unload people from an earlier boat, only to discover just how rough the water was, making disembarking very treacherous and time consuming. A woman in front of us said I should look out the doorway to see how rough the water was. She was right. The tender boat, and the walkway bridge, were going up and down so rapidly, it was almost impossible for people to get off the other boat and back on.

And then we heard a loud commotion, a crash, and a lot of scrambling. We found out that someone on a wheelchair nearly went off the walkway as they were attempting to help him off the tender boat and back onto the ship. I never saw any of this, but Don thinks he saw him a few days later, all bruised. After several more minutes of the dilemma, where people had a difficult time disembarking from the tender and getting back onto the ship, I finally said let's forget it. I was really concerned about getting on open water in a ferry boat, imaging us tipping or worse. Don was trying to pooh pooh me, saying it would be okay, but I held firm and said I wasn't going.
So we went back to one of the open decks, found some chairs in a somewhat protected area, and read, lounged, and played handheld yahtzee games we both had. After a couple hours of this, though, we were bored and I suggested that we go see if there was a line for the tender boat and go ashore. The sky had gone from dark and threatening rain to clearing somewhat, so I thought maybe it would be safe to go. To our surprise, there was no line waiting, and they had just finished unloading a group of passengers, so we only had to wait a few minutes before leaving for shore.

The water was still rough, no doubt, and the winds were still strong. We were the only ones on the tender boat except the crew, even though the boat would hold 300 people.















We managed to sit under one of the few open windows on the boat, so the first wave that hit came in and soaked us. It was like having 3 buckets of water thrown in your face at the same time! Salty!

Arriving on shore, I could see it definitely would not be a beach day. The waves were crashing against the dock and the sea wall on shore. The seas were angry that day, that's for sure.






















The tender docks were just a short walk to the shopping district. I'm not really sure what else there is on Cozumel, since that's the only area we were able to visit.



















Here, we were in a little plaza across from some shops. You can see that I now have on capris, and had had on a hooded zip up jacket as well until getting off the boat. The day was still cool, but warm enough to take off the jacket once on shore.


We spent a couple of hours shopping, looking in many shops, to the point where I just wanted to go back to the boat. After a while, it becomes the same everywhere. We did each get beach type jackets that said Cozumel on them, which I liked very much.






Heading back to the boat dock, we had to attempt to cross this street.










For the most part, the police were controlling traffic for the tourists to cross, but you still had to be careful, since standing on the sidewalk there was no curb to separate you from the street. One wrong step and you would be road kill.



It was now 5 o'clock, and the last tender boat was scheduled to leave at 5:30, so we decided to just get in line and wait it out, since the lines were from the docks to the street long, and were soon snaking down the sidewalk as well. After about 10 minutes of standing waiting, and after listening to conversations around us, I started getting the impression we might be in the wrong line, so I went to investigate. Sure enough, the Princess cruise lines were on another dock, and the line was less than half as long. That was a relief! Or so I thought.

So we stood there, and stood there, and stood there. Five thirty came and went. Not too many more people lined up behind us, and it was hard to judge how many were in front of us. But what else could we do? It was getting much windier now, and almost downright cold. The few stragglers getting in line were drunk for the most part, still carrying bottles or cans of beer and continuing with their partying. One guy, who we started calling Cowboy, was there with his group. We had seen him a few other times, and each time he had a drink in each hand. He appeared to maybe be French Canadian, since he spoke French, and we knew there was a large group from Quebec on the boat. His group was certainly having a great time!

We continued to wait. It was starting to get dark and now windier, and the tender boats were having difficulty getting close enough to the dock to board passengers. Six times they attempted it, and then left. We didn't know what to expect at this point. It was about 6 pm by now. Finally, a smaller tender boat came and picked up a load of passengers, and then headed to the ship. Another one came and picked the rest of us. When Don and I had a chance to get on the boat, I insisted we sit on the middle deck, near the exit. He wanted to go down below because it would be less windy, and probably we wouldn't get wet from waves, but I just had this gut feeling about staying on top.

But even after boarding, we still sat and sat and sat. No one knew why we weren't heading back to the ship, and lots of speculations were circulating among the passengers. Finally, the tender ship's captain came and told us that the other boat was having so much difficulty unloading passengers and getting near enough to the ship that they were going to turn the ship to help get it out of the wind some, but until they accomplished this and unloaded that boat, we would have to wait. In the wind and cold and dark.

People's moods varied. Some were grumbling, others were still partying, and some were complaining about feeling sick. Oh great, I thought, if one person pukes, I'm going to hurl myself!

Around 7 pm, we got the okay to head to the ship. There was much cheering for that! But it was a rough ride, as expected. Sitting and waiting, and then heading out to sea, I was reminded of the one time I rode one of those carnival rides, the gondola, or pirate ship, or whatever you know it by, where the front of the boat goes way up and then drops down and the other side goes up and down, like a teeter totter. That's what it was like. I was gripping the railing in front of me so tightly you could see my white knuckles, and I was holding back a scream for the entire ride. I think I did squeak out a few brief screams, since I am so terrified on those rides that I cannot control the urge to scream.

I was never so glad to get back to the ship, but then again, we had to wait to disembark. Fortunately, sitting in the first row near the exit, we were the first to get in line to unload. Still, the gangplank was bobbing up and down so much, it was impossible for 6 guys to hold it down, so we still had to unload, one at a time. I was the third one off. When they gave me the okay, I flew down that ramp onto the ship! Whew! I was off.

I expected Don to follow behind me, but instead a woman and her child were next. He would be next then. Or not. Somehow, he managed to get shoved back a ways and it was probably another 15 minutes before he got off. His first words were, "Let's go get a drink and then eat." But I wanted to eat first, since I was now starving, and it was after 7:30 pm. We had a show we wanted to go to at 8:30, so we had to hurry.
Sitting at dinner, we again saw Cowboy and his crowd, still with a drink in each hand. This was to be just the second of many times he would amuse us on the cruise

I could feel myself moving the whole time I was eating, and when we headed back to the room to change, I had a hard time standing up without staggering. And we hadn't even had anything to drink! We quickly changed for the theater show and headed to one of the lounges to get a good seat. Here, we decided to have a drink, and I just chose wine, thinking it might be a better choice than something else. Neither of us had had more than a few drinks since boarding.


We also had conversations with others sitting near us, everyone discussing the wild boat rides that day.

After the show, Don wanted to go on the upper deck to feel the wind. We attempted to get there, but the wind really was so strong I found it difficult to walk around without losing my balance, so I just sat at a table by a pool, while he went on the upper deck. I eventually decided to go to the room, because it was almost 11 pm and I was tired. He decided to stay outside for a while.

And that's when the adventure started again. Sitting in the cabin reading, I was really bothered by the movement of the boat. Our room was in the front of the boat, so maybe that was it. I don't know. Walking through midship, you could hear the boat creaking and groaning too. The captain had made a few more announcements about the wind, and also mentioned we were late leaving Cozumel, so most likely we would be late getting into the Bahamas on Friday.

I decided to get ready for bed, but still was having a lot of trouble with the boat's movement. And then it happened. I felt sick to my stomach. I tried to ignore it, but eventually I did get sick. Over and over and over. When Don finally got to the room, it was after 1 am, but I asked him to call the medical people and see if I could get something for the motion sickness. I never brought anything with me, and until then it never occurred to me I would need anything. They said they would bring something in 30 minutes. But the 30 minutes came and went, and they never did show up. I finally managed to get to sleep, but I felt extremely sick.

(To be continued)


4 comments:

jahowie said...

That sounds awful!! I'm sorry that the weather had to be so bad for you. I wish you had a picture of the "Cowboy". :-)

cindy said...

Wow...that's a lot of wind!

I'm sorry you got sick. That's no fun at all. I'm such a wimp when it comes to hurling or anyone else hurling. Jeff wants to go on a cruise someday, but that is the one thing stopping me.

Lisa - Slow & Steady said...

Oh dear!

The main reason i would never want to go on a cruise is that I would CERTAINLY get sea sick.

Sorry to hear about all that wind and you eventually getting sick. BUMMER

Fe-lady said...

You have just convinced me to NEVER go on a cruise...
I would certainly be complaining of having to wait in line all the time!

(and complain about the weather also!)

Hope the next chapter gets better! :-0