Wednesday, January 28

Cruise Day 2 Conclusion

I think the best part of the cruise to this point wasn’t even on the ship. The sting ray excursion was so incredible that the rest of the entire cruise pales in comparison. We chose the sting rays over the dolphin swim simply because it offered more time with the rays. We were in the water with the rays for about 3 hours. It was on a private island, the rays seemed to be treated well, and the guides were quite knowledgeable about the rays.

Feeding the rays was incredible. It wasn’t as squishy as I had expected and it was really funny. We lined up in 2 rows across from each other. One line was parallel to the shore and the other line was parallel to the first line. The guide then went through the line with a couple of coolers and handed out frozen little squids. The rays knew exactly what to do. They swam in between the lines and grabbed the food.

Rays have their mouth and eyes on the underside of their body. To eat, they just vacuum up the food. So the rays were swimming up and down the line sucking up the food as they went past. Sometimes they would get confused and end up behind us and try to vacuum our legs or feet. There were rays flapping all over the place as they tried to get all the food. It was really a feeding frenzy and we were in the middle of it. Add that excitement to the fact that there were about 3 teenage girls in the group and it was a screaming good time! Sorry, had to say it. Then the guide singled out a huge ray and we all got pictures holding it. I am still looking for my pix. It was pretty cool since they got the pix while the ray was in mid flap.

The last hour of the excursion we spent on the other side of the island. There were lounge chairs lined up on the beach and the bar was there. We all pulled the lounge chairs into the water far enough where we were laying in the water but it wasn’t lapping over us constantly. Though there was a rogue wave or two…in fact, the only complaint I had about it was that a wave came up and splashed salt water into my fruity, girly drink. I drank it any way, it wasn’t that much salt water and the damn thing cost $7!!

I could tell I was getting a bit pink. I had been applying sunblock all day, but I was also in the water and the life vest was rubbing on my shoulders. Laying there in the water I draped my t-shirt over my head so my face would be protected and just basked. I had forgotten how good it felt to just lay in the sun.

I wore my sarong over my swimsuit back to the ship and after my shower I put on a sundress so there wouldnt be too many clothes rubbing on my increasingly sensitive skin. After a quick look in the mirror (no stroke today!)I knew that I was going to be uncomfortable later on…it was 1 in the afternoon and I was already sunburned, and it was only going to be worse as the day wore on. That in mind, we stayed in the air conditioned ship and just wandered around. They didn’t serve alcohol since they were in port, so I grabbed ice coffees from the bars we passed.

The ship was nice and empty during this time since everyone was either in port or on a shore excursion. We found the library and puttered around on the lower decks for a while. It was pretty relaxing to just wander around the nearly empty ship and explore.

By this time all of the sun and lack of sleep had caught up with me. We had supper at the italian restaurant and I was dead to the world by 10. No partying for me that night!

The Steve Irwin Shore Excursion

For the shore excursion the next day a group of about 20 people went to a little island about 20 minutes from the cruise ship. We picked up our snorkels and life vests (I fought that one since I am a great swimmer but they insisted). We had our little training course and got some info on sting rays and then were allowed in the water.

The water was incredible. I have heard people say you can see right down to the bottom and that the water was so blue and warm but I never really paid much attention. I grew up near a beach and know first hand how filthy that water is. This was different. The water was the most beautiful turquoise I had ever seen. It was clear and clean and the perfect temp. Just cool enough to be relief from the sun without being cold and numbing. I could have stayed there all day.

I was interested in seeing how they were able to offer this shore excursion. I was thinking it would be a sting ray in a pen and we would each get our turn and a pix with it. Boy was I wrong! It was incredible! On one side of the pier they has a huge area penned off. It was pretty square, but it was HUGE. The pier made up one boundary, the shore made up another. The boundary to the ocean was way past the pier and too far out to swim to. The last boundary was down the beach too far to see.

Plus the sting rays were happy to see us…well, excited at least. They have learned that people in the water means food…and not in the Steve Irwin way either. Part of the excursion was feeding the sting rays (I will get to that) so the sting rays knew that they were getting fed soon. There were about 20 people on the trip and there were about 50 rays in all sizes. They were unhindered in any way (other than the boundaries) and were swimming freely. I was having the best time and was very happy for the life vest. LOL.

The life vest was canvas and only had the tiniest amount of air in it. Just enough to allow you to float without having to think about it and it certainly was not big and bulky. Combined with the snorkeling gear, it was perfect. I was floating around looking at all the fish and just basking in the sun and water and I realized I was getting a bit too relaxed. I was starting to fall asleep!!! I was all floaty and warm and comfy, doing the Dead Mans Float and I was really starting to drift off when the air horn blasted. Good thing too. I can just see myself falling asleep, snorting and inhaling a gallon of seawater into my lungs.

The air horn was to let us know it was time to feed the stingrays. I was looking forward to this part and I wasn’t. I wasn’t looking forward to it simply because it meant that I probably had to hold something squishy. I was kinda right. They passed around frozen little squids. Ick…but they were frozen so the squishy was taken out of the equation until you put it in the warm Caribbean water. After feeding the sting rays they all left (presumably to go take a nap after a large meal) and everyone else went to the other side of the pier. That is where all the lounge chairs were lined up and where the bar was.

Mum and I got fruity drinks with little umbrellas, dragged the lounge chairs into the water and basked in the hot sun and cool water until it was time to go back to the ship.

Saturday, January 24

The Stroke

I got to the ships doctor's office and found out that clinic hours are 8am to 11am and then again from 4pm to 6pm. It was 1 in the afternoon so I was right in the middle. The receptionist said I could be seen immediately but it would be $122. I asked how much it would cost if I waited until 4 to have my stroke and she said it would be $75. Well, it was only $50 more so I pulled out my health insurance card and slid it across the desk. The receptionist slid it back and said that they don’t accept insurance. Well, now I had a dilemma. I am notoriously cheap so I was weighing the 120 dollars if it turned out to be nothing or hoping the stroke would hit between 4 and 6 pm. I opted for scheduling the stroke for a more convenient time since my odd eyeball was the only symptom.

Back in the room my mum started grilling me: do you have a headache, is your vision blurry, are you seeing spots, are your ears ringing, can I have your grandfather clock when you die? Then she asked me something that I had completely forgotten about…What side of your head is your seasick patch on? I just looked at her dumbfounded and pulled the seasick patch off from behind my right ear. Could it really be that simple?

Turns out it was…we went to supper and then to a couple of shows. By the time we were dressed and ready to go to Carnival my eye was back to normal…so I started drinking. Lol.

Carnival was kind of a let down…it was supposed to be held on the pool deck but it was raining so they moved it all down to the Disco. Still, not too bad because they had drinks there too! And really, the more I drank, the better Carnival was. Booze Goggles…what cant they do?

Around 2 we went back to the room to get some sleep. The shore excursion for the next day was at 8 and I was really looking forward to it…swimming with the sting rays. Steve Irwin, here I come.

The Cruise - Day 2

Ok, so the next morning, we get up and hit the buffet for breakfast (coffee). We had planned to go into the town of Freeport even though our shore excursion had been cancelled so we were grabbing a quick breakfast and we were off. We got ready and left the ship. 2 steps onto the gangplank and the heat hit me like a truck (or what I think being hit by a truck would feel like. Didnt like it, I dont think I am going to do the hit by a truck thing to find out if I was close). I actually stopped for a second in order to acclimate myself to the humidity and 100 degree heat. I was wearing a t-shirt and some denim shorts thinking that would be fine but suddenly I wanted nothing more than to get rid of the clothes. Unfortunately, the rest of the world wanted nothing more than for me to keep my clothes on! My mom was having the same problem and before we got off the gangplank we were both sweating.

A quick walk across the pier brought us to the taxi stand and some small booths that were selling Bahama crap: reed fans, shell necklaces, etc. What they were also selling were dresses - Very pretty, very colorful, very light and flow-y dresses. I found one I liked, paid for it and immediately pulled it over my head. It was a strapless so I was able to ditch the t-shirt, the bra, and the shorts since the dress was below the knee. Yeah, and I did this in the middle of the booth area. I was not waiting a second longer to ditch the clothes. I put what I was wearing in the bag that the dress originally came in and we were off to do more shopping.

Before we hit the Taxi stand I had picked up 3 more dresses and a sarong for the next day. We waited for the cab and before a minute had gone by, one pulled up. It was a mini van and my first thought was “Great. I wont have to sit too close to anyone. 3 in a minivan is plenty”. Well, we chatted with the driver and it turns out they were going to cram 10 of us in the van to take us to $5 each. Oh, and we shouldn’t worry, there were 2 more seats that folded down so they could get even more people in the minivan. At this point, Mum and I declined citing health and safety issues (it was unhealthy and unsafe for anyone to be that close to us when we are hot, sweaty and bitchy), but Jackie climbed right in. Mum and I headed back to the ship. By the time we got halfway there gravity had increased 20 fold and our dresses were soaked. We got up the gangplank and stepped through the hatch and were instantly enveloped by air so cold and refreshing that for a minute I forgot how to breathe. Ahhhhh…heaven.

Back in the room we each took showers and planned to lie down for a while and recover from the heat. As I was standing in front of the mirror combing my fingers through my mop of hair I stopped dead in my tracks. WTH??? I went to the mirror in the room thinking that the light was funny in the bathroom. Nope, it was the same here…my right pupil was dilated so much that you could barely see my iris. The other eye was fine - pupil small, iris big and green. I asked my mom if she could understand what I was saying and had her look at my pupils. She said she could understand me just fine and it was no big deal that one pupil was huge and the other wasn’t.

NO BIG DEAL? I was probably having a stroke…or maybe the intense heat gave me a brain tumor…maybe I was having an aneurysm...or maybe the heat had just boiled my brain…did I mention the stroke? I decided to go with the stroke option since that was quicker and headed down to the ships doctor.


Well, by now, anyone who knows me knows that I am the daughter in this scenario. I am tired of this line of blogging but again, if you know me you know I cant move on to something else unless I finish what I have started. So I am going to finish the cruise line of blogging in first person because it is just quicker and easier.