Darn, the Vacation Is Over

Our cruise started at Ft. Lauderdale, Florida aboard Carnival Liberty,. The 7 day trip took us to the Western Caribbean with stops in Bahamas, Grand Cayman Islands and Costa Maya, Mexico. The 110,000 ton mega liner is quite new, built in 2005 in Italy. It’s as long as 3 football fields, has three 12 storey elevators and can carry 3,000 passengers and a crew of 1,200. Checking in 3,000 passengers is in itself a challenge. Passenger registration was done in a huge building that looked like an airplane hangar but it was quite quick and orderly. Checked in baggages were loaded into the boat and delivered to the passenger staterooms.

The ship has a deck with 4 pools and jacuzzis, a large buffet restaurant and dining room, a supper club, fitness gym, spa, casino, day care, a theatre for 1500 people that plays Las Vegas style shows, an internet cafe, dance hall – in essence a floating resort. Food and drinks -juice and coffee are free, except for pop and alcoholic drinks. The buffet restaurant serves the 3 meals but we opted to take the sit down gourmet dinner every night at the restaurant, if only to take a little bit less of food 🙂 and savor the culinary work of French chef George Blanc. The restaurant dress code is casual- no shorts and formal on two occassions. Dang, the one thing I hated was I had to bring formal clothes! I was think of a totally lazy vacation with shorts, flip flops and T shirt.

Some folks who didn’t fancy dressing up opted for the informal buffet restaurant all the way. The formal nights weren’t that bad as we had our family photos taken ( at a cost ), went to watch the Vegas style show and went dancing afterwards. The great thing was the day care took care of my little girl after dinner while we were enjoying the night. Juice and coffee , ice cream stations are open 24 hours. The deli and oriental counter closes at 11pm. The gourmet pizzeria is open 24 hours. Those caught hungry between meals can order snacks delivered to their rooms. Room service is open 24 hrs.

If you didn’t drink pop nor booze the whole cruise, you didn’t have to pay a cent for anything you drank or ate. A cruise lasting more than 7 days would be a health risk , LOL. The ship’s currency is a card that is pegged on the passenger’s credit card or cash deposit. The card can be used to purchase drinks, merchandise being sold at the stores and last but not least, to play the 24 hr casino. The same card opens your serves as your stateroom key. Every stateroom has a phone and TV linked to the world via satellite. My favorite activity was watching a movie at the giant jumbotron TV at the deck at night, beer in hand as the warm Caribbean wind blows into my face. My second favorite pastime was sitting at the balcony of our stateroom, gazing at the ocean, the water, meditating about things. It was throughly relaxing and enjoyable. Darn, I think I am getting old.

I would be amiss if I didn’t mention our Pinoy kababayans who worked in the ship. The crew was truly multinational, composed of staff from 60 countries. Our Pinoy kababayans work as ship baggage handlers, stewards, cooks, waiters, maintenance crew, photographers, mechanics, day care staff. My wife and I were throughly impressed with the Pinay day care assistants who were quite articulate and spontaneous as they introduced themselves to the audience at the auditorium. The cruise we took understood the importance of family and my daughter throughly enjoyed the Camp Carnival day care. Overall, other than the waist enlargement, we enjoyed it a lot.

Thso picture was taken at the Port Lucaya shopping bazaar at Freeport Bahamas.

I’ve always wondered – how do you wash a braided hair?

Taken at the Georgetown Harbor, Grand Cayman Islands as we came down from the small boats that “tendered” or ferried the passengers from the ship to the shore.
Others chose to cruise along the harbor on a pirate ship look alike.

Busy street along the numerous shops, stores and restaurants jam-packed with tourists . We met a Pinay who worked as a jewelry shop attendant. She works as a contract worker along with some 2,500 other Pinoys in the Caymans.

View of the ship that is a few hundred yards from the shore. The shuttle boats were busy servicing about 7 cruise ships that were anchored at the bay at the time. The blue waters of the Caymans is imamaculately clear. You could almost see the bottom
of the sea.

We docked into this deep harbor at Costa Maya, Mexico and had to walk a few hundred yards to get to the resort. The town is about 4 miles from the resort.

Guests being welcomed by folks in traditional Mayan costume

Those who didn’t go for the wilderness tours chose to chill in the pools, had a few drinks at the restaurants or shopped around in the stores for clothes and souvenirs, just like my wife 🙂

Just cooling off as the boats are parked a few hundred yards away

Our next stop was a 10 day stay at a resort at Ft. Walton Beach area in Western Florida, some 8 hr drive from Ft. Lauderdale. The place is in the Central Standard Time zone and about 3.5 hrs from New Orleans. It was a relief to be back to normal, where we had to cook food to eat to detoxify ourselves from the 7 day binge. It was almost heaven when my wife , after a short trip to Winn-Dixie supermart cooked shrimps with beans and squash sauted in cocunut milk. The had a full kitchen at the resort which was great 🙂

The resort has the same “village” theme as the Mt. Tremblant but this time around a man-made wharf surrounded by shops, restaurants and condos. The pond is stocked with bass and trout for guests to fish on a catch and release mode. This also where we spent new years’ where a live band was playing and the place was literally full of people partying and waiting for the fireworks.

This is the beach area on the other side of the resort which is likewise gated, meaning only resort owners, members and guests are allowed entry. The sand is totally white which also evokes an illusion of snow 🙂

The golf course is artistically designed , sprawling across the good looking houses and the dozens of ponds that fill the area. The resort also has 2 other golf courses, private marina, an amazing biking trail, nature parks, a large conference centre. We had 4 hours of free biking time daily when we were there.

Shot of the Baytowne Wharf at night.

Please feel free to click at any pic to enlarge. I have many more shots of our vacation in my photoblog ( check my blog links ) 🙂