Thursday, March 06, 2008

CARRIBBEAN VACATION, Part 3.

And finally the last installment. I hadn't intended to drag this out, but the fifth day turned out to be an adventure in and of itself, so it was easier to just break it down one more time.

Day 6: Day 6 was scheduled to be a day at sea, traveling from Cozumel to Princess Cays, Bahamas. I had had a very uncomfortable night with the motion sickness, and then was abruptly awakened by Don who decided at 6:30 am that he was going to get up and do some laundry! "Now??" was all I could moan and lay back down, still feeling sick and queasy. "Why do you have to wake me up now??" was all I could ask. Apparently that was enough to scare him out of that idea, because he quickly got dressed and headed out of the room, and later he told me he went to the gym instead.

I had just drifted back to sleep when there was a knock on the door. Room service. Of course! After the second day of having no coffee readily available in the room, I started ordering room service coffee. As long as it was complimentary, why not? The first day, they brought it late. The second day, I had to call. The third day it was weak as water. And now today, it was early.

I got up and stumbled to the door, which even with the dark room and not having my contacts in would have happened anyway, since the boat was still swaying more than I liked. Then, I went right back to bed.

A couple of hours later, Don resurfaced, saying he had been at the gym and was going to go get breakfast and did I want to come? No way! I still was weak and queasy and my head was pounding too. "Just bring me a little something, and hopefully I can eat it later." When he came back later, it was with some fruit and a couple of boiled eggs, which he knows I can always eat, regardless of how I feel. Then he did laundry and showered. I still was in bed. I had already decided there was no way I was going to be able to do my last scheduled run workout that day. It could wait until tomorrow.

Around 2:30, I was finally able to get up and shower and put myself together enough to go down to a late lunch. I had a terrible time in the shower, because with the boat still moving quite a bit, I was constantly losing my balance. Same when I was at the sink. I just wanted the boat to stop moving!

Before lunch, I headed down to the ship's store and found some Dramamine. I wasn't alone in trying to seek some relief from that affliction. I hadn't been outside yet, but knew the winds were still causing rough waters.

I didn't eat much for lunch, just some fruit again and some fish. I was still feeling a considerable amount of motion, while Don was not, but the queasiness had pretty much stopped. I decided to take one dose of Dramanine, hoping for the best. We then went out to a semi-protected deck area, looking for a sunny spot, and we both read for a while. It wasn't long before I could barely keep my eyes open. The Dramamine packet had said it would cause "marked drowsiness" and sure enough, it was right!

So I headed back to the cabin for a nap, fell asleep, and didn't wake up again until almost 7 pm. Then I forced myself up to go eat, and went right back to the cabin after and went back to sleep and didn't wake up until 7 am the next morning.

Day 6: Day 6 was scheduled to be a day on Princess Cays (pronounced keys), Bahamas, the private island of the Princess Cruise lines. Announcements were being made nearly every hour about arriving late, shore excursions being delayed and later cancelled, and apologizing for the delay, but which was of course due to the weather. I felt good enough to get up and get my run in, but with the high winds and continued swaying of the boat, I decided I would just go to the gym and use a treadmill. My workout was a 4 mile tempo run, and getting started I could see my "tempo" was going to be much slower than planned. I was still feeling weak from the day before, but was no longer sick or queasy.

And what I thought would be a much easier run on the treadmill than outside battling the winds, turned out to have a surprising twist. After running about a mile, I did increase the speed slightly, so now running was a little challenging but not impossible. Before I knew it though I was struggling and thought about backing down on pace when I realized that I felt like I was running uphill! Then it was like I was running downhill. It occurred to me then that the boat was going up and down so much still that even running on the treadmill I felt like I was on a rolling hill course. I was amused by this and decided to consider it a good workout after all.

As was our usual routine, we were planning on heading over to shore after a late breakfast. The planned ship's barbeque on the Cays was cancelled because of the late arrival, as well as most of the shore excursions. As it turned out, we were only going to have about 3 hours of shore time. I didn't really care that much. I wished that we could just stay on the boat, but I also knew that I wanted to get that last chance in to shop and sit on the beach in the sun. It hadn't been that warm since the day in Cozumel, so I really wanted to be able to soak up the final warmth of the trip.

Getting ashore, we used the ship's tender boats, which went much smoother than the last trip off the boat we had. It was probably just a 5 minute trip and we were on land. And the tender boats only held about a 100 people, so there were no long waits getting on or off.

Princess Cays was a small island off the "mainland" island near Eleuthera. There was a bridge connecting the two, but we didn't really have enough time to explore. Here I am at the welcome sign. And that is not my drink I'm holding!


After doing the obligatory shopping, where we found out the shops only took Princess Cruise cards for payment (it all went on the same credit card, so no problem for me), we found some beach chairs and attempted to settle in for a while.

































It was very hot, however, so we both wanted to go in for a swim. Don had brought his goggles, I had not, and I wasn't that energetic anyway, so I just decided to wade. Wading was very difficult, because the water's edge and the sand in water itself was very rocky. So I looked for a clear spot and just got wet and took pictures while enjoying the scenery, the water, and the sun.













Then it was time to get back on the ship, our final time in paradise.





We had a late lunch again, then lounged around on deck and read for a while before heading back to the room to start the packing ordeal.





The procedure for packing up required us to pack everything on Friday that we didn't want to have to remove from the boat ourselves, which pretty much was everything. We were to keep out an overnight bag and our carryon items for the plane. So you had to be selective on what you packed and didn't, so you either weren't without something necessary or didn't end up with more than you could carry. Once we collected our luggage prior to heading to the airport, we could stow any items not allowed as carryons by the airlines.



After packing for an hour or so, it was getting close to 7:30 pm, so we decided to go to dinner, and after we could finish up organizing our luggage. It needed to be done by 9 pm. Packing to go home would also require on my part some major reshifting of items, since I now had an entire suitcase full of purchases for the kids mainly. Good thing Don packs light, that's all I can say, because now I had his bags filled with my excess stuff!

We took a last walk around the ship, and then called it a night. I was still tired out enough that going to sleep was not going to be a problem.



Day 7: Day 7 was traveling home again. We had set the alarm this day, getting up by 6 am, because our scheduled departure from the ship was 7:45. This allowed us time to shower and dress and go for breakfast, along with most of the other ship's passengers it seemed. We saw Cowboy and his crew for the last time (after having run into him in the elevator the day before, on the beach the day before, in the tender boat the day before, and again at dinner the day before--each time he was a two-fisted drinker. I was surprised he was still standing this last morning!) The weather had calmed quite a bit and was nicely warm. We had arrived at the Ft. Lauderdale cruiseport sometime in the early morning hours, and after eating, we took our coffee out on the deck for the last time. We could see them making arrangements on the dock to get the ship ready for disembarking passengers. I really hated leaving the deck. It was peaceful and warm, and even though I was ready to go home, I was not particularly ready to leave the warmth and sunshine.



We finished packing our last minute items and cleared up the room. Here's a last look at the room. (The bathroom is not visible from these views, but the room is about the size of a small hotel room. Adequate enough.)















Then it was time to go to our departure area and wait to be called. I'm not going to go into the rest of the trip home. Suffice it to say, it was a long day, I did not like the Miami Airport, and true to its reputation, our United flights were late.

Would I take a cruise again? is one question I have been asked. Did you like it? was another. Yes, to both questions, with some reservations.

First, if I were to take another cruise, I would ask for a room closer to midship. Our room was on the extreme front of the boat, making it necessary for us to walk long distances for everything, even something as simple as a glass of water. They do not have ice or vending machines anywhere on the boat, like in a hotel. Not that the exercise wasn't great, its just that I figured walking to the dining room twice equalled almost a mile, and I can't tell you how many times we did that, not just to eat, but to get coffee or water, or iced tea. Also, I have to wonder if the ship's movement would have seemed less midship. The other thing about the room location was we were directly above one of the theaters, and the sound carried well enough that it was like we were right next to it. There were nights I would have preferred going to sleep before midnight, but I am too light of a sleeper to block out that noise.

Second, I would go on a shorter cruise. Four days would have been enough for me, with another 3 or 4 on shore somewhere. After four days, I was ready to not have to be around that many people all the time or wait in lines to eat or go on shore. Even when in your cabin, you really couldn't be alone because the steward was in and out during the day doing his thing, unless I put the privacy sign out, which I did a lot of the time.

Third, I would be more specific on airline specifications. We decided to book airfare through the cruiselines to make it one whole package and not have to bother with that detail, but the return flight was less than convenient. We had to spend 6 hours in the Miami airport, basically with nothing to eat or drink or do (a problem with the airport setup), and then still have to go the rest of the way home, returning close to 11 that night. Way too long and a wasted day.

And finally, I would take less and spend less.

For the most part, what I wanted to achieve on this vacation was met. My main goals were to:
  • not get a bad sunburn (I didn't--tanning ahead helped);
  • sleep until it was light every day (most days I think, although we didn't have a window so I'm not completely sure);
  • get adequate exercise but not overdo it or be rigid in working out (I only had 3 run workouts planned: one long run; one speed run; one tempo run, all which I did. Other than that, I only swam which was relaxing and enjoyable, or did a lot of walking, which could not be avoided.);
  • eat and drink in moderation (we never stuffed ourselves, even when mainly using the buffet for meals, only had a few of the many delicious desserts available, and only had a few drinks each. Of course paying for those helped curb that!);
  • read a whole book (almost got one done);
  • have fun (mostly I did).

I don't want to dwell on any negative part of the trip or give an indication that it was a negative. The weather was a factor, to be sure, but any sensible person knows you can't control the weather. It was a first-time learning experience, and no vacation could be expected to be perfect. And what's perfect anyway? Well, that's another whole post by itself!

8 comments:

Non-Runner Nancy said...

that about sums up the pros and cons for me too. I had the queasies some, too. The higher you are in decks, the more the ship moves, so a room deeper in the boat might help, but still you want to be up on deck and enjoy so that is a tough one for me.

Glad you got away!!

Lisa - Slow & Steady said...

Thanks for such detailed descriptions of each day. It was almost like being there....

See Zanne Run said...

sorry to hear you got so queasy! i did too, on our first night - but i took the pills from the front desk - 2 every 12 hours, for the remainder of the trip ... no drowsiness & they worked perfectly. it still looked like a gorgeous sunny day when you docked though! my whole thought on the cruise thing was going in totally open minded - knowing there would be crowds and lines, etc ... but it was a vacation, it was sunny & we were without kids ... it ALL outweighed any minor annoyance!! i can't wait to go on another!! thanks for sharing everything - th epicture are great!!

cindy said...

I enjoyed reading about your trip! Thanks for sharing it with us.

I always wondered what the rooms looked like on a cruise ship...they are actually bigger than I thought. It looks nice :)

Sunshine said...

What a trip!! I read it all. Guess we should know it is never quite like the pictures in the ads.

So glad you were neither road kill or drown.

Impressed you actually got in some activity besides eating and reading.

Thanks for taking time with all the interesting details.
And you did get away from the snow!

Sunshine said...

PS Wonderful pictures!!

Anne said...

Seasickness is one reason I've held off on a cruise. My husband saying, "Oh, hell no" is another.

Oh, and I just tagged you.

Black Knight said...

I work in the Port Authority and Civitavecchia is a port of call of "your" ship. The Grand Princess is wonderful.
Great trip and beautiful pics.