Saturday Dec. 10th- Boarding
The port of Miami greeted us with warm rain and eager people ready to get their cruising on. As we made our way onboard the ship, pink zebra circles seemed to be the main thing of focus (they are plastered all over the walls). I learned later that The Carnival Splendor is apparently themed after the late and great Dr. Suess. On the flip side, my first thought was that the ship was channeling the Portland favorite, Voodoo doughnuts (It isn’t very often that you come across that particular shade of pink unless your In PDX or your shopping for Pepto). Either way, whatever other curious minds were channeling, its hard not to picture a pink zebra’d doughnut (although the pink circles could also appear like pink zebra Vinyl… if you caught them at the right time of day).
The Splendor has been cruising the world’s waters since 2008. With a solid 8 years behind her, the Carnival Splendor has seen an impressive amount of liquid terrain. The Splendor was constructed and is registered in Panama. However, it is fascinating to note that the boat has journeyed around South America’s Cape Horn (too big to travel through the canals at that time). Well cultured, the Splendor has also endured a couple life threatening experiences. One being an engine room fire in 2010. The second being an armed robbery in 2012 (note: this happened to a group on an excursion, not on board). Fortunately, the ship withholds an optimistic Dr. Suess view on life.
“There’s no limit to how much you’ll know, depending on how far beyond zebra you’ll go”- Dr. Suess
Our first day on board consisted of buffet consumption and professional Bingo playing (yea…we even brought our own bingo dappers). We also settled on our drink of choice for the vacay, The Colorado Bulldog.
(Vodka, Kahlua, Half & Half, Splash of Coke)
Sunday Dec 11th- At Sea
Our first full day on board, was our first full day at sea. We explored the floating vessel, and ate our way through the day.
Monday Dec 12th- Cozumel
In Cozumel, having booked an excursion for the day the previous night, we debarked the ship and made our way towards signs that read, “Ancient Mayan Ruins.” Our tour guide Sylvia, narrated our venture towards the ruins of San Gervasio. The ruins are believed to be a place of worship for the Mayan moon goddess, Ixchel. Ixchel is believed to have powers in the realm of fertility. Butterflies seemed to be of abundance here, and iguanas seemed to be the guardians of these ancient constructions. Interesting note, the large pyramid at San Gervasio is positioned so that every 18 years the full moon appears directly atop of its peak (2015 being the last occurrence). The tour concluded with a quick stop at a beautiful beach, where we enjoyed coconut drinks and swinging hammocks.
Queso dip, margaritas, & shots were all enjoyed hastily before making our way back on the pier. (Three Amigos)
Tuesday Dec 13th- Best Belize!…. When it rains … It Pours!
Arriving in Belize consisted of anchoring the ship down a few miles off the Central American coastline. We then tendered into Belize, where we were greeted with a tourist friendly pier. Lively bars, restaurants, and shops lined the entrance into the city. We quickly booked a tour on a rambunctious bike bus. As we waited patiently for the tour to kick off, a sudden monsoon erupted. Next thing you know; everybody is involuntarily taking a second shower of the day (assuming that a first one took place to begin with). What we anticipated would be a tour allowing us to get some city views in (while enjoying an open bar), turned out to be a tour that had to be canceled due to the inclement weather. Instead of embarking on the drunken bike bus, we opted to head back to the boat rather early. Although I myself am a fan of tropical rain, it was pretty hard to imagine seeing much in mother nature’s mid-afternoon tantrum.
Wednesday Dec 14th– Roatan Island (Mahogany Bay)
The ship docked in Roatan and the first thing in sight was some kind of beach lift that scooped you up by the pier and dropped you off at a near by beach. While the beach lift contraption was screaming “tourists land here daily”, the island was also visibly lush and green (the two can apparently work hand in hand).
We booked a tour aboard the cruise ship to take us to the top 10 sights in town. The island itself runs something like thirty-six miles long. Therefore, we assumedly were able to tour the perimeter of the island. There were a bundle of rentable villas and condos in sight, but the essence of primitivity mixed with poverty was also present. Roatan island clearly sustains its living from the many tourists that disembark their cruises and wonder onto its shores. Although, I will say, what more do you need but a hammock and a few chicken when you live along side a beachy paradise?
Thursday Dec 15th- Costa Maya
Costa Maya is nestled on the most southern tip of Mexico. It stretches out its limbs to the northern parts of Central America. It isn’t far from here where indigenous tribes are still capable of living out their cultures traditions fully.
In Costa Maya, we found ourselves taking a worthy pilgrimage towards an ancient Mayan site by the name of Chocchoben (more or less an hour there and back by bus). These pyramids were impressively massive in comparison to the ones found in San Gervaiso (Cozumel). We climbed up over well aged rocks and structures and ooed and awed over mysteries left undiscovered and buried by history.
One Man’s trash, Is Another Fish’s Part Time Hobby
Unrelated to mysteries of the Maya, there was another interesting mystery we found ourselves exploring, the mystery of the Fish Pedicure. Here, we placed our feet into a tub filled with cute little fishes who wanted nothing more than to suck off the calluses and corns off of our beautiful feet. I really felt like there was a good amount of interspecies teamwork that took place when I took my feet out of that bowl of corn eating fish (no fishes were hurt during the removal of my feet’s crud build up).
Friday Dec 16th- Grand Cayman
Grand Cayman was our last port. The tender ride to the island was shorter than that of Belize. Georgetown, Grand Cayman is still reminiscent of it’s older British colonial days, as several older colonial-like houses sill stand. The island itself is still in the hands of the British, but it is clear that the roads themselves carry plenty of international baggage. While in Grand Cayman, we enjoyed several drinks on the deck of a Margaritaville. The spotting of sharp looking cars was nowhere close to the rare sightings of Santa Claus. The influence of luxury and leisure is clearly a Grand Cayman stable. The last several hours of our day was spent on the island’s infamous 7-mile beach.
Saturday Dec 17th- At Sea
The last full day on board the Carnival Splendor gave us plenty of time to reflect on the island appetizers we had just experienced. The one thing that I both love and hate about cruising is the fact that you are introduced to a nice chunk of islands in a short amount of time. The plus side to this is that you can get a good feel for a place, and then get a better idea for which places you would enjoy spending a full vacation in. The downside to this is that each place leaves you half way full, like the job of an appetizer. After reflecting on my Caribbean appetizers, I would have to say that Roatan wins the, “I would return” card. It came off rural enough to seem genuine, yet touristy enough for myself to get by. I would place Costa Maya in second place, due to the Mayan ruins. I imagined filming a low budget film there entitled, “Indiana Jane” (I would of course play the protagonist).
Sunday Dec 18th- Back in Miami
I woke up and the ship had already found Miami’s port. One last quick buffet breakfast onboard the ship was enjoyed before we waddled off the Splendor and onto U.S. turf.
Cheers to Another fortunate vacay to throw in the books!
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