Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A Perfect Vacation

Hello everyone!

Ron and I have returned from our vacation.  It was our first-ever cruise!

We drove down to Miami, FL on April 12th and spent the night in a hotel near the airport.  Can I just say that this was our biggest "win" with using Hotwire to date??  We have been using this website to book hotel rooms for the past few years.  You select the general area you want to stay in and can select the star ratings you'd like to select from.  You don't actually know where you're staying til you make your payment.  It's a bit of a risk, but we've never been truly disappointed.  Maybe one hotel wasn't up to par in the years we've been using it.  I don't know how on earth they decided our hotel on the 12th was a 3.5 out of 5 stars.  3.5 is a pretty good hotel but certainly not the Ritz.  We wound up with a reservation at the EB Hotel Miami.  I'd never heard of this brand before and, at first glance at the name online, I was skeptical.  That was pretty short-lived.  Click on that hotel link, won't you??  When we saw our room, we were of the mind that we could be quite satisfied just staying in that room for a week - forget cruising!  To say we were impressed is a serious understatement!  This is an upscale hotel right by the airport.  It is very modern and has every amenity you could possibly require...and then some.

That was just our first night!  The highlight, of course, was the cruise itself.  We set sail out of Miami late afternoon on April 13th.  We were on board the Carnival Glory.  We were one of about five cruise ships sailing out of the Port of Miami that afternoon.  I have trouble parallel parking a car.  I can't imagine how the ships' captains steer these behemoths into port!

#CarnivalGlory anchored in port at Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands - April 15, 2014
If you're like me, then you can't possibly comprehend the size of these vessels until you've been right up close with one.  They are absolutely massive.  To think that there are close to 3,000 passengers and 1,100 crew on board is just surreal.

#CarnivalGlory next to #CarnivalLegend in port at Cozumel, Mexico - April 16, 2014
I could make this a really, really long post about our 7 day Western Caribbean cruise, but to sum up {for now}, we spent the last week at sea, visiting ports in Grand Cayman, Cozumel, Belize, and Roatan.  It was an absolutely incredible vacation.  It was the perfect vacation and was just what Ron and I needed.

I also want to give a shout out to #Carnival and #CarnivalGlory for making this vacation the perfect getaway for Ron and I.  Honestly, we couldn't have imagined a better vacation.  One of the many takeaways from our first cruise was just how hard each and every person on that ship worked to make this happen for us.  As I said, there are about 1,100 crew on board.  We encountered many staff along the way, but there were so many more who were at work behind the scenes or quietly blending in to the background to make sure everyone was taken care of.  

We talked about the crew several times and we can't even figure out how they do it.  They must work incredibly long days because you see the same people working on deck, in the buffet area, on the floors where the staterooms are, and so on - no matter what time of day you're out and about.  We also realized that the crew wear many hats on board the ship.  The guy on the Lido in the shorts and golf shirt leading the line dance??  That's Eduardo the comedy club manager - the guy taking care of the club in the evening hours.  And the guys you saw singing and dancing in the "Divas" and "Latin Nights" stage shows...we'd see some of them in the shorts and golf shirts out and about at other times of day.  Not sure if that's how they had to dress when not performing, or if they were being used in other capacities when not on stage, but my guess would be the latter.  The wait staff you'd see roaming the decks during the blazing heat of the afternoon, carrying trays of drinks as the wind was working against them...those were the same servers you'd see working in the theater and comedy club late into the evening.  These people worked hard and they did everything with a smile while providing exceptional service.

#CarnivalGlory at sea - April 14, 2014
Who knows if anyone from #Carnival will see this post, but I just want to say thank you.  Thanks for all you did to make this the most memorable vacation ever.  While we cannot possibly list every person we encountered, I know we owe a huge thanks to our steward, Tong {from China}, on the Upper Deck for taking such great care of us.  And to Ozgurhan {from Turkey} - our favorite server, whether it was on the deck, in the Amber Palace Theater, or in the Punchliners comedy club.  Of the potentially 4,000+ people on the #CarnivalGlory, we didn't talk to anyone more than we talked to this one gentleman for the course of the week we were on the ship.  I actually was a bit sad to not get to say goodbye!

We spent a week at sea and in various ports in the Caribbean.  We were completely disconnected from technology for an entire week.  It was wonderful!!!  We knew no one on the ship when we boarded, and we pretty much left that way.  It was just the two of us.  Together.  For a week.

I want to share so much about the cruise, but I'll close this post for now and delve more into cruise life in subsequent posts.  You can view my enormous photo album HERE in the meantime!

Sunset from the deck on #CarnivalGlory,
somewhere around the west side of Cuba en route to Grand Cayman - April 14, 2014 
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