Cruise – Cozumel (Dolphin Day!)

We woke up early the next morning to see Mexico on the horizon, it was Cozumel day!
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Em and I woke up and went to breakfast, leaving Wade and Hayden to sleep in. We met up with Mr. Wade and walked around, exploring the ship a bit.
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These were at the very top of the ship by the golf course … it was very windy up there!
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We got a little bored and tired of waiting:
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Finally, we were off of the boat!
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Cozumel also had a nice area to walk through right off of the ship. The only thing that was kind of annoying was that the only way to get to it was through a huge duty free shop … not a problem except you have hundreds of people filing through it at the same time and some of them trying to stop to shop and causing traffic jams. Once out of there, there was a pretty sprawling area of restaraunts and shops to walk through:
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At the end is where all of the cabs are and we caught one to Chankanaab Park, where we had reservations to swim with the dolphins. We had one cab and paid $22 for all of us to go one way, about 10 minutes.
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When we arrived at the park, they had a few people standing around with different animals – this monkey, an iguana, a parrot and another monkey. They ask you if you want to hold them and take a photo, then they tell you its $5.00 LOL … we thought this monkey was cute, though, so we took this one and then avoided the rest.
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I really loved this park and highly recommend it to anyone visiting Cozumel for a day. You can do pretty much anything – dolphins, manatees, snorkeling, sun bathing, etc. There is an entrance fee to the park, which was included in our dolphin tour. We booked through this site: Cozumel Tours. We only did the Dolphin Encounter b/c its the only one the kids were old enough for but it was also the least expensive and well worth it. We all felt that we didn’t really need any other experiences with the dolphins.

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The park has sea lions, manatees and dolphins, swimming pools, beaches, lots of snorkeling areas, kayaking – pretty much anything you’d want to do. The only thing I didn’t like is that the beaches do not lead straight to the water, there are rocks that you have to walk down to get into the water. Wade said there was a “real” beach further down, but we didn’t get that far. The beach was pretty nice though and had plenty of chairs and places to relax.

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We had some time to kill before our dolphin swim, so we walked around and explored a bit:
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This is what the entrance to the water looks like along the beach … very rocky and slippery.
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You could walk right in and see lots of fish, though!
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Emelyn hated all of these wrist bands … one of them was for the cruise, the other two were for Cozumel:
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There was this cool fountain for the kids to play in right by the dolphin waiting area:
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Finally, it was time to meet the dolphins! We were given life jackets and led to one of several fenced in areas. The dolphins immediately started swimming around and performing for us:
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We were all so excited
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When it was time, we walked down some stairs and had to stand in neck deep water on a slippery platform. It was kind of hard to keep your balance and not get knocked over, especially when the wake from passing boats would come through. It was even harder trying to stand straight and hold on to Emelyn. But it really was so cool to be that close to dolphins. There were two of them and they were literally within a foot or two of us at all times.
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I had a water proof casing for my camera that was really cool but hard to focus through and take photos. Mr. Wade wound up taking most of the pics for me b/c I had to hold Emelyn the whole time.
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Emelyn LOVED them … if they swam by her and she didn’t have a chance to touch it, she’d get upset:
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Jess was first up from our group … they split us into two groups and we each had a dolphin … I think ours was called Freddy or something like that. The trainers had given us instructions before we went in on how to do the 3 tricks.

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See Wade holding on to her jacket? It was so hard to keep your footing:
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Next up was Mr. Wade … there was a professional photographer on the dock and with every trick, we were told to look at her and smile. We all did as we were told because we didn’t want to make them mad.
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The trainer held the kids and helped them do their tricks.
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I love this shot
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Em got a nose kiss instead of a cheek kiss
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My turn … I think these pics are out of order b/c Wade and Hayden went before us.
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Smile and look at the camera!
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Ah, here’s Wade
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See, we all did as we were told!
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Hayden’s turn <3 LOVE
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You can see the big smile crinkle lines by his eyes lol
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After, they let us pet him more and had him do some more tricks for us. They told us all kinds of interesting facts about them.
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At the end of the swim, the photographer led us to drop off our life jackets and without even stopping to let us dry off, brought us into a cold gift shop to see the photos. Emelyn slipped and fell and started crying, so we snuck out as soon as we could and headed to the restaurant for lunch. It was a neat little Mexican place right on the beach:
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Right when we were finishing up, it started pouring. We watched the storm come down the beach, it was kind of neat to watch. We headed under the shelter and the kids played out in the rain until it stopped:
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I was still shooting with that waterproof case on, so these are all dark and out of focus lol
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When they started drinking the water coming off of the roof, I had to put an end to the fun LOL
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After taking photos, of course:
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The storm blew over pretty quickly and we walked the beach while Wade did some snorkeling. I tried taking some underwater photos but had too many things in my hands (um, margarita) an couldn’t quite do it all. At one point I slipped and all my money and credit cards came floating out of the plastic thing I had on my neck. That put an end to the underwater pictures.
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We all got pretty tired really quickly and were ready to go back, but had to wait for Wade, so we let the kids swim in the pool for a few minutes until he was ready. Then it was back to the ship. We did stop at one store, a pharmacy, so that I could get some medicine for my mouth. The whole trip, I’d had a cut under my tongue which made it miserable to eat and sometimes talk. I was thrilled that they had something at that store and shocked when I saw the wall of muscle relaxers, anti-inflammatory drugs, antibiotics … stuff that you can only get with a prescription at home. I guess I knew that you could buy that stuff in Mexico, but hadn’t thought about it or expected to see it!

And that was Cozumel as well as the end of our ports! We have one sea day left then its all over (and we were so ready to get home!)

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Cruise – Grand Cayman Day

Yes, I know I’m slacking again, just been really busy. I’m not even sure if I can remember enough details to blog about the rest of our cruise, but I’ll try! The day after Montego Bay, we headed to Grand Cayman. This is a later morning, if I remember correctly, where you don’t dock until around 10am and you have to ride a tender (?) to the island. We expected long lines and a long wait, like the morning before (I don’t think I mentioned that, we waited a really long time to get off of the ship in Jamaica). But we were able to hop right onto the boat. You could get on at the front of the ship or the back. The tender took us right to Grand Cayman, about a 10 minute ride.

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You can see the two locations for the tender here:
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I don’t know why I always felt the need to photograph the ship when we weren’t on it …
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Grand Cayman certainly had some of the prettiest water I’ve ever seen … it was turquoise and crystal clear. Pictures just do NOT do it justice:
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There were “pirate ships” all over … I think you can book trips on them or something
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After doing a lot of research on Grand Cayman excursions, we had decided that the sting rays were a “must do” and Moby Dick Tours was the most recommended group to go through. I was so disappointed, though, when they emailed me back saying they were booked for the morning we were there. The guy guaranteed us a spot with another tour that they trusted, though, and had put us on the waiting list. We were just a few minutes from going with Moby Dick when the people showed up and one of the Moby Dick guides stayed behind with us to make sure we got on with the other group. He was really nice and I wish we could have gone with them. I’m not even sure what our group was called, but it was fine, no complaints except that it left a bit later than the other tour and we wound up having overcast weather that we probably would have missed had we gone with the Moby Dick tour.

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The unloading area in Grand Cayman is much nicer than Montego Bay. When you get off of the ship, you get to a really nice shopping area and all of the excursions and vendors are in that area. Grand Cayman is very clean and feels safe; the Moby Dick guide told us that it is a very safe place. This is where we FINALLY found a camera store and got a battery for my D80! Unfortunately, I didn’t bring it with me b/c I didn’t think we’d get a battery and I didn’t feel like carrying it around.

After about an hour of walking around, browsing and waiting, we boarded a bus that took us to our boat … maybe a 10 minute ride?
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They had us PACKED into this bus but I think it was 2 different tours on one bus. We got to a docking area that had lots of boats and boarded ours:
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The boat ride to the sting ray sand bar took about 30 minutes … it was a pretty boring ride except for seeing huge iguanas lounging around on rocks! No photos of that, though … again, the water in Cayman is just amazing. Looks like a swimming pool and the sand on the bottom is so soft and fine.
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I don’t have any of my own photos from the experience but there was a photographer with us that took photos and sold them on CD to us. I think these 2 photos were $50? But they are the only ones we had gotten of us together … Hayden was already on the boat with Jessica, I think. Jess stayed on the boat and took pics of us all with Mr. Wade’s camera … still need to get those :-)
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Emelyn wasn’t scared of them but she didn’t want to touch them. When we first got in, the guy caught a baby stingray and she lightly touched it, but that was it. The rest of the time, she just stayed with me in the chest-deep water, watching the stingrays.

See, she wasn’t freaking out or anything, but just kind of pulling away so it couldn’t touch her LOL
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I wasn’t scared of them if they were in front of my and someone was holding them, but they would often brush up against the back of your legs when you didn’t expect it and that freaked me out. Wade caught them and held them, we have a good video of him with one.

If you wanted to, they tour guides would help you hold, kiss and massage the stingrway (it was rub against you.) Then the photographer would take the photos. None of us did any of that, we just did our own thing. After about 30 minutes with the stingrays, we boarded the boat to head for a reef to snorkel. I’m not too big on snorkeling, so everyone stayed on the boat except Wade, who loves to snorkel.

On the way back to the dock, one of the guides jumped out and grabbed a starfish for everyone to pass around. Wade and I saw starfish like this all over in Whitehouse, Jamaica. They were scattered in the water right off the beach. We thought they were fake b/c of the color and how many there were.
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This was the weirdest thing to me … in the water around the docks, there were hundreds of jellyfish all over. It was weird b/c the water was gross around that area and you could see the oil sheen from all the boats’ fuel. They were so neat, though, just floating all over. Wade said it might be b/c the water was so calm in that area:
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Once we got back to the main area of Grand Cayman, we had some time left to walk around a bit and get some lunch. We walked a couple of blocks and found this place to eat. I don’t remember what it was called, it looks like something “Breezes” from the menus, but it was really good. We all enjoyed our food, though it was kind of mainstream (burgers, hot wings, nachos).
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There were statues of this pirate outside of several shops … according to the sign, his name is Richard something or other Negro … otherwise known as “Big Black Dick.” LOL
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Once we got back on the ship, we probably had dinner then went to bed … I was excited to finally have a real camera, so I played around with it a bit. It was definitely a step up from the phone pics but no where close to my D300!
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My son’s unusual nostril talent
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The kids really enjoyed the sandwiches, especially Hayden. You could get them hot or cold:
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I convinced Hayden to go spend some time at Camp Carnival and this is how I picked him up later that night:
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Thank goodness it was easy to wash off!
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