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 ) 🙂

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27 Responses

  1. That was some trip, bro. Seems like you’ve enjoyed it to the max. A lot of my friends have enjoyed their cruise experience as well, after gaining a few pounds.

    I almost joined my then-wife when she and her siblings went on a 7-day holiday aboard the Disney cruise ship in the summer of 99. Like you they also went to the Bahamas.

    Sadly, it was only my camcorder that was able to tag along with them on that trip. 😦

  2. titanic na titanic ang dating ng barko, kahit 1 week na biyahe matitiis ko kung ganito kaganda ang barkong sasakyan ko. mukhang daming experiences sa pagsakay dyan 🙂

    gaganda ng pic sa cayman, meron ako friend nagta trabaho sa ship na ganyan na madalas din sa bahamas/cayman, photographer siya kaya malakas kita.

  3. Sngl – you should have come at that time 🙂 The Disney cruise is designed for kids. The one we went to was for family but we saw lots of single folks too. There was a program specifically for singles meeting each other 🙂 Now that would have been dandy for you !

    There are cruises designed for couples who desire more privacy – normally smaller ships that venture into smaller islands where big ships cannot go.

    My goal was just to get away from it all – shorts, flip flops, tshirt. In fact the ship had free wireless internet but I was glad my laptop didn’t have any 🙂 My wife had fun too and she visited the spa a couple of times, ouch.

  4. Iskoo – yep, the ship was quite interesting. In fact i felt wasn’t on one as I never felt that it was moving nor even hear an engine noise 🙂

    There were so many photographers in the ship and I saw a bunch of Pinoys. The were all toting high end Olympus DSLR cameras, which I believe was the official photo gear of Carnival Lines. Photographers set up their props all over the place and invite people for a photo shoot – you don’t have to pay unless you like the pics which will show up in the photo gallery hours after. It was almost a competitive scene ! These guys were all good. These Pinoys were probably doing photography work back home and found use of their talent in the cruise ships 🙂

  5. My siblings fellow Pinoy MD stopped by our house last summer and told me that he works as Physician on one of this Cruise Ships and I said, Lucky You. I’ve never been on a cruise yet, though the “girls” on the family have all been, but maybe someday, when I retire from it all, and completely savour the experience. And seeing the pixs you’ve taken it was a week to remember and worth repeating.

  6. Vic – you should go bro. I always thought cruises were for retired folks who seem to do it all the time 🙂 There’s shorter 3 day cruises for those who just want a quick breather. Just make sure you take a big, good ship and not those small ones.

    The Pinoys I know on the ship say they work straight 7 mos and take a couple of months off. They only get a half day day-off every week. It’s kind of lonely I guess unless you have your spouse on board like the ship’s day care manager we talked to quite a lot. She is Canadian from Ottawa married to a staff in the ship. She’s been in her job for 7 years now.

  7. This is what you call ending the year with a BANG.

    Man, you have life!

  8. MyePinoy – thanks bro. FYI I wasn’t able to blog for a few days because my wife and my daughter were preparing for an extended vacation to RP 🙂 They left Monday AM and I’m a bachelor again at least for a couple of weeks he he 🙂 I was re-energized and I hope that when my wife to work she will be as fresh a newborn 🙂

  9. hmmmmmm what was that program for singles? hahaha kidding

    Oh man! I envy you to the nth level! lolz I wonder when can I experience something like that but I’m so glad for you coz you really had a good time 🙂

    Thanks for the pictures BW…they’re amazing my friend.

  10. Verns – thanks. Yes, the singles connection was there and is part and parcel of the cruise. At the check in hangar, a couple of Pinoy photographers were taking souvenir pictures of passengers and their families in a photo prop that looked like the ship’s rails . All the photos were displayed in the ship’s gallery the following day and we saw so many pics of people by themselves! I reckon they were there to chill out at the singles club he he 🙂

  11. That was some grand vacation you had. I’ve never been to a cruise. Kelan kaya? 🙂

    I love the white sands. And you’re right. It gives you the illusion of snow.

    How do you wash a braided hair? When you unbraid it, which is not often. I once asked a co-worker who had braided hair. 🙂

  12. Wow, what a grand holiday. You really enjoyed your cruise trip to the hilt! Maybe my husband and I should take a break from missions trips and embark on a cruise vacation just for a change. 🙂

    And your photo blog would be where? I do hope you already have a Flickr account.

    P.S. I would like to work as a daycare assistant. 🙂 I love kids! Good that your five-year-old enjoyed the holiday as well.

  13. Wow! I want! I want!

    Inggit ako to the max. I haven’t had a grand holiday for years now. 😦

    Hey, that’s one ejoyable holidays! I bet you all had a great time!

    More photos please. 🙂

  14. Niceheart – I found out that cruise departures are quite driveable from where I am. The closest would be Charleston, Virginia and even Jacksonville, Florida isn’t that bad -5 hours driving time saved as opposed to driving to Ft. Lauderdale or Miami.
    I parked inside a multi-storey guarded parking which was beside the check in hangar. It was very easy. You must try the megaliners – the big ships because they have more facilities. I heard that a 160,000 tonner from Royal Carribean Lines has a skating rink ! That would be really cool 🙂
    I would enjoy that myself.The day care at Carnival which took care of kids from 2 to 14 years was superb. They had so many activities.They fed my kid the kids and gave me a cell phone to keep the entire cruise so they can call me if needed 🙂

    The white sands look great 🙂 We were showed reserved chairs and umbrellas and free towels as soon as I showed my resort card. THe place would really rock in summer 🙂

  15. Jayred – you should take a break ! Carnival lines also operates in Europe from Rome. They have 12 day cruises to the Mideterannean and Spain/France 🙂

    MY PHOTOBLOG is found in my blog links. Just click on it. Our vacation pics are all in the month of December.

    Yeah , working at the ship day care would be fun if you love kids. The Pinays we knew at the ship were professional teachers back home I was told 🙂

  16. Ipanema – yes, you should go sis. Try the 12 day cruise from Miami to San Diego via the Panama Canal passing through the western carribean islands. That would be awesome 🙂 That would probably be my next cruise or the Alaska one from Vancouver :). More pics are at MY PHOTOBLOG found in my blog links.

  17. Wow! What a vacation! It looks like life in paradise! Glad you enjoyed it together with your family! I should do a cruise when I bcome a rich man… 😉

  18. Suddenly, I was stuck with the question when will this happen? The only holidays I have is December when the children are off school.

    Hey, thanks. I’ll check your photoblog.

  19. Just came back from your photoblog. Lovely photos! Looks like your daughter is enjoying. 🙂

    Thanks for sharing. I can’t comment though. Think I have to register. 🙂

  20. Sidney – howdy pal.. I had a blast getting away from the Christmas stress ..he he. Hey, if BW can do it, anyone can do it too 🙂

  21. Ipanema, tks..I have more pics to load! The Caribbean hurricane season is from July to November. Ships won’t sail in bad weather and I’ve heard of people frustrated by cancellations 😦 December and March break are ideal for those with school going kids. Cruise operators are quite considerate. If your plane gets delayed for reasons beyond your control and you can’t make it to the departure port, they will fly you off for free to the next island stop 🙂 The trick is you have to register your itenerary at their website.

    December weather is very pleasant. The water temp is about 80 F or 25 C and not humid. Even at night, the temp is great, no need to wear any sweater. Good luck on your planning !

  22. My oh my; now I have some inkling of what a cruise ship vacation looks and feels like. Makes me feel like working and trying much harder so that I’d be in a cruise ship myself sometime in the not so far future.

  23. Major Tom – fyi there are also cruises in Asia, much closer to RP. THere are a variety of cruise ships but I was particularly intrigued by the large megaliners, those above 100,000 tons so I chose to cruise on one. This particular ship for example incernerates or burns all its garbage and never dumps anything at sea. The heat generated by the incenerator is also used to provided heating to the ship where necessary, ie. to heat water. It desalienates salt water to drinking water so there is no need for water conservation aboard the ship. Sewage is chemically treated to be biologically safe to dump into the sea. Totally environmentally friendly. At my balcony there was a sign – do not throw cigarettes into the sea. It generates 62megawatts of power enough to light up a small town. It does not need tugboats to park. THere are 6 thrusters on its sides to allow it to maneuver into tight harbors. It has stabilizers that ejects on the bow side to reduce movement in rough weather. As expected it is fully computerized navigation wise. If the Koreans are the masters of super cargo ship building, the Italians are the masters of mega cruise liners. It is truly an engineering feat.

  24. Wonderful pictures and what a grand vacation! You deserved it, BW!

    My nephew works as a baker in one of these cruise ships, and so far, he has practically travelled the entire globe. But he did say that the amount of food they prepare everyday is just unbelievable. A cruise ship, he claims, is like a floating city. Perhaps, one of these days, I, too, will get a chance to experience it. Hmmmm … maybe I should get a job there as a cruise photographer 🙂

  25. Eric – there were many photographers of different nationalities. The photo shoot was non stop, every night at the dining table, every disembarking the photographers were busy at the gangplank. During the 2 formal nights they have their props set up where everyone can have pics taken for free. The 8″ x 10″ photos are then displayed at the gallery. We particularly liked this Romanian photographer ( flag displayed on his name pin) who set up his props at a piano. The photos he got were absolutely great. One Pinoy had a great prop with the sea at the background. It was sort of a competition of artistry.

    Here’s the rub.. The 8″ x 10″ cost $20.00 a piece. It is copy righted and you must buy it first before you can ask for a smaller print- he he 🙂 Just imagine the recycling bin filled with rejected photos! But my wife who is a sucker for photos made an album of 8″ x 10″s .. 🙂 Now there’s many of them like my wife in the ship.. and ..they took care of the photo business.. he he 🙂

    When we docked at one of the stops I saw our Olympus toting Pinoy photographers chatting with fellow Nikon toting Pinoys of another ship. I guess each liner has its own brand.. It would be challenging to be a photographer in the ship when you get measured by who buys your photos !

  26. Oh wow! What a trip BW! Super-amazing! Reminds me of the Love Boat. I was half-expecting Captain Stubing to appear in your pictures. 🙂 About the braided hair… they never wash it… ewwww! 🙂

    I know a lot of my classmates in the Conservatory work as musicians in those ships. They earn good money and they have no expenses.

    That’s my dream vacation BTW. Thanks for sharing this with us.

  27. Toe – the ship being of Italian origin – the captain is also Italian 🙂 One of the first formal night was the Captain’s Welcome and he sang a song – That’s Amore’ – may pagka Italian din 🙂 As for braided hair, I had a friend who had her hair braided when she went to vacation in Jamaica. When she came back, she couldn’t handle it for long. She took it off after a week 🙂

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