Cruising on the Carnival Freedom – Summer 2009

Cruising on the Carnival Freedom – Summer 2009

Friday, June 19th

Kris and I had to wake up super early to get me to the airport for the first of my two flights to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.  After dropping me off, he headed to Houston for a concert. 

My first flight had me connecting in Atlanta.  During the flight I sat next to some very interesting individuals.  The man next to me (who was 6’4” and so scrunched in the seat) was very well-traveled.  He was telling me stories about the hygiene and bathrooms of countries all over the world.  He told me a story about how he was walking down the streets of Egypt following his native guide who was wrapped all in white robes.  He said he was following behind him and saw him start shuffling his clothing.  Next thing he knows, there is human defecation on the ground.  He was also telling me what the toilets in Italy look like.  I wanted to go to Italy, but I am not sure anymore.  Holes in the ground, no toilet paper unless you bring your own, co-ed, a lady who stands in the room while you go and hoses it down afterward, ugh…  He mentioned that Scandinavian countries are very clean. 

But I digress…Atlanta is a pretty nice airport.  I had an hour layover there before heading to Ft. Lauderdale.  I had a terrible flight from Atlanta to Ft. Lauderdale.  We had some equipment failure, and I was seated next to a very stinky guy.  He smelled terrible!!! 

When I arrived in Ft. Lauderdale, I gave Terri a call.  She was still at the airport.  We decided to catch the free shuttle from the airport together.  It was a good thing too, because we were at different terminals, and the driver skipped right over her.  I asked if he’d already dropped her off at the hotel.  He said he didn’t know who I was talking about.  I got him to go back and pick her up.

We checked into the hotel, and we walked to the local shopping center for some Subway and soda.  We later got a free shuttle to the local movie theater to see The Proposal and to eat at TGI Friday’s.

I made sure to call and wish Jenny a happy birthday before bed.

Saturday, June 20th

We signed up for the free shuttle to take us to the Everglades cruise port.  After checking out, we waiting around for the shuttle, then waited to check in, but we quickly found ourselves onboard and ready for our first lunch on the Freedom.  We found our room at 1:30, unpacked, toured the spa and gym, completed the muster drill, and joined in for the spa raffle.  I got an oxydermy facial that night on the cruise.  It was discounted, and I got an additional free facial later on during the cruise too.  We went to dinner at 8:15pm and met our tablemates.  The table held 8 spots and we were all ladies in pairs.  There were four recent college graduates and two ladies that were just friends in their late thirties on a cruise.  The food was delicious.  We then went to BINGO and to the show, a comedy show with Michael Panzeca.  We went back to the room after the show and watched Marley and Me.

Sunday, June 21st – Fun Day at Sea

This day was a Fun Day at Sea and the first elegant night.  I woke later than Terri.  She had already been out and about.  We participated in Big Screen Trivia before grabbing lunch.  Then we both participated in the Slot Tournament (lost) and hung out in the casino until the Majority Rules game.  After Majority Rules, we played Fact or Fiction, and then headed for tea time.  (Tea time was far more a dessert time with a small glass of tea.  Tasty – except for the cucumber sandwich.)  We went back to the room to relax, watch the travel and adventure talk, and get ready for formal night.  After a lovely dinner (lobster for Terri), we headed to the adult comedy show with Michael Panzeca.  He was quite funny.  We caught Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 before falling asleep.

Monday, June 22nd - San JuanPuerto Rico

We started this day off at the casino for TV Trivia and some early morning gambling for Terri.  She really did well this trip and wound up being up about $350 after the trip was over.  After the casino, we headed outside to play BINGO.  After less than an hour of sun exposure, while wearing sunscreen, I got my first sunburn.  We had a Greek themed lunch at the buffet before Terri participated in the Blackjack Tournament.  We played Slogan Trivia, had a cruise critics meet and greet, went back to the casino, then headed back to the cabin for a nap and Slumdog Millionaire before arriving in Puerto Rico.  We grabbed a slice of pizza each before leaving the ship for Bioluminescent Bay.

Ultimately, our tour was very neat.  There were 25 of us in a van, and the driver tells us (after we have been on the road for about 30 minutes) that he hoped we all had a towel and change of clothes since we were getting so wet.  Terri and I assumed that the tour company would take care of water clothes, so when we made a bathroom stop…we ran to Walgreens to buy some cheap towels.  I was so grateful we had them.  My towel later became my skirt. 

We arrived at Bio Bay when it was fairly dark.  We got into our kayaks and were determined to keep up with everyone else, but it didn’t quite work out that way.  Imagine this…sea kayak for two, two weak woman, 25 people per 2 guides, ocean currents before kayaking to a river in a  pitch black forest, people heading multiple directions, wild mangroves growing everywhere, hitting mangroves, going in the wrong direction, getting turned around, and not enough guides for the number of travelers.  Terri and I were last to the bay where the dinoflagellates congregate.  We made it though to see how incredible this natural phenomenon is and learned a bit of the history behind the dinoflagellates.  The glowing blue was truly cool, afterall “this unique bay contains up to 720,000 single-celled bioluminescent dinoflagellates per gallon of water. These half-plant, half-animal organisms emit a flash of bluish light when agitated at night.  The high concentration of these creatures (Pyrodimium bahamense) can create enough light to read a book from.”

Heading back, Terri and I got near the front of the line.  However, since 15 of the 25 people were in one family, they kept cutting us off.  We also got hit multiple times by kayaks on a different tour going in the opposite direction.  Since the current was, at that point, heading in a direction against the one we wanted to travel, we had a lot of trouble recovering each time a person knocked us off course.  At one point, Terri got her oar stuck in the tree, and it took me a while to untangle it.  We also were all alone in the middle of this calm wooded pond for at least 5 minutes.  We were so sure we were lost.  I started screaming, “Help!  Guide!  Can anybody hear me?” but we never got a response.  We decided to turn around and try to locate someone.  When we got to the opening of the pool, we see our guide towing the oldest couple in our group.  He tells us that he heard us but couldn’t help us because the old couple had fallen into the water.  His first priority was getting them back into their kayak, which took a while.  I still don’t understand why he didn’t holler back to let us know he was coming.  Terri and I were truly frightened that we were lost in the woods.  To make matters worse, because of the way they had divided our van into groups, we were late getting back to the cruise ship.  We were supposed to be back by 11:30pm and didn’t get back until 11:50pm.  That was with our driving running red lights and speeding.  It was spooky.  

(Look at the photo above of the bay without flash.  All you can see are the glowing rings on the kayak  Take a look to see why we were so freaked out when we couldn’t find anyone.)

We took showers before bed and slept well.

Tuesday, June 23rdSt. Thomas, US Virgin Island

Tuesday had the cruise ship arriving at St. Thomas at 7am.  We ate room service breakfast.  We had booked a tour, Sunny Liston tour, online on our own that met at 9am.  We had three hours of shopping downtown, two hours of sightseeing, and two hours at the beach.  This tour was a blast.  We rode around in an open-air taxi with a great breeze, the driver played music and we all sang along, and the sights were amazing!  We got great virgin banana daiquiris at botanical gardens, saw amazing sights, and learned some history.  I snorkeled over a coral reef off of Sapphire Beach.  

This tour was wonderful.  St. Thomas was beautiful.  The drive was like a roller coaster.  (The speed limit was 10 mph.  I think the driver never went under 50mph.  Crazy!)  *You have to see the photos and video to understand.*

After getting back, we went to the cabin to clean up and rest before dinner and the show.  The show was really good.  Jamie Frasier, a singer, sang songs of Bobby Darin, Dean Martin, Michael Buble, and Frank Sinatra.  We went back to the cabin after to watch Bride Wars

Wednesday, June 24th - Antigua

Another early morning, we had room service breakfast on our day in Antigua.  We had booked a Segway tour online for 10am.  We shopped a bit before the tour in town.  The taxi drivers were like vultures in Antigua.  After our group was all present, two families of three and Terri and I, we took a taxi to the Segway office.  During the safety video, they gave us a fruity drink they had prepared of Antigua pineapple and guava juice with cherry and lime.  It was so good.  Then we signed the release and went to a grassy pasture to practice on the Segways.

I had a blast on this trip.  I loved riding the Segways.  We rode down some roads, heard some history, sucked on some sugar cane, ate a tamarind fruit (tastes like a date), conquered a fort, and rode on a beach, before bringing the Segways back to get a native soda called Cocktail de Fruits and refrigerated baby-wipes.  We hung out at a restaurant/bar next to a nice beach called the Lobster Shack.

Sugar Cane

Terri and I had fun on this trip, but I must mention that a few in our party didn’t.  During a race, a husband and wife hit wheels and wiped out.  It was a hard fall.  The man broke his helmet.  She really cut up her shoulder and knee.  The funny thing was – they had both ridden Segways before.  The ten-year-old girl of the other family got a stomach ache and couldn’t continue.  She had only had skim milk to drink that day and got dehydrated.  Her parents let her ride to the ending spot with one of the guides in a car and kept riding the Segways.  Craziness.

After getting back, we went to the Jacuzzi for a while.  We then went to shower before Ticket to Ride, a Beatles tribute show.  Then we went to dinner.  After dinner we participated in the Carnival Fun Hop and were members of the Red Team.  We wound up winning.  It was fun.  We went to bed watching Wall-E.

Thursday, June 25thTortola, British Virgin Islands

Another early morning, we had room service breakfast on our day in Tortola.  We didn’t have a tour booked, but, when we went outside, found an open-air taxi tour for $20 a person and decided to go for it.  It was a few hours of sightseeing and an hour at the beach.  We had the driver drop us off downtown for shopping.  We shopped at Sunny Caribbee Spice Shop and Art Gallery and got some great spices, salsa, jam, and hot sauce.  (I bought both banana and guava jam.  I hope they are good.)  Then we walked back to the ship.  We ate lunch and showered when we got back, and Terri went to the casino for a spell while I got my free second facial.  We later watched Twilight, ate dinner, played BINGO, and saw the comedy of Happy Cole.  We watched Baby Mama while going to bed.

Friday, June 26th – Fun Day at Sea

Terri let me sleep in Friday while she went and got some sun by the pool.  She played a bit in the casino, we took advantage of the sales onboard, we worked out, we attended a seminar on makeup, we enjoyed the sauna and hot tub in the spa, and then, after we cleaned up, Terri played in another slot tournament.  We saw the Marriage Game outside when eating lunch and just had a leisurely day.  We enjoyed dinner that night, went to the Jump, Jive, and Wail show and headed to the cabin to pack.

The make-up seminar didn't do me any favors.
Saturday, June 27thNassau, Bahamas

We woke up and grabbed some breakfast after the debarkation talk.  We arrived a little early in NassauTerri and I had planned a walking tour for the Bahamas, so we were off the boat by noon ready to go.  

We visited Rawson Square, Parliament Square, the Nassau Public Library which used to be a prison (really cool), the Royal Victoria Hotel (which is just a parking lot now), the post office, Queen’s Staircase, Fort Fincastle, Gregory Arch, St. Andrew’s Kirk, Government House, Graycliff, Vendue House (slave trade spot), the Straw Market, Woodes Rogers Walk, and Prince George Wharf.  It was so very very hot, and we were sweating bullets.  We shopped a bit and truly enjoyed the library, staircase, and fort.  

We found it interesting that most public buildings in Nassau are pink.  Terri treated us to banana and pineapple daiquiris (non-alcoholic always) while we walked back to the ship.  We both passed out in the cabin.  We took a three hour nap and showered.  We later shopped a bit, Terri won another $80 in the casino, and we went to dinner.  After dinner we saw the Carnival Legends show before finishing our last-minute packing.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

As I write this I am in the Fort Lauderdale airport waiting to get on my 4:30 plane.  We were off the boat and here by 8am.  I won’t get home until after 10pm.  I am tired, but the cruise was wonderful!

Make sure to check out Facebook to see more photos!

Minnesota to see Britney - June 2009

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Quest for the Unfindable

Today, Kris and I awoke and readied in haste to get me off to the airport before he went to work.  I was heading at 10:10 to Minneapolis, Minnesota to see my friend, Britney.

The airport was uneventful except for the fact that I did not hear that they had changed the gate of my departure.  Imagine my surprise whenever I heard that a flight to New Jersey was loading at the gate I was supposed to be using.  I had to hurry up and find out where my new gate was, and, although the worrywart in my freaked out (yes – I am a freaky freak-outerson), I made it in time to load.

I sat next to a pleasant lady – a new college graduate looking for a place to live for her new job.  We did not really have any turbulence, which I am quite grateful for as I have heard Texas had terrible storms today. 

I got off the plane and found Britney waiting for me at the baggage claim – or she found me.  Then we were off to find her car.  While finding the car was a bit of a quest, we eventually located it.

We had a nice lunch, chat, and then headed off for The Quest for the Unfindable.  Quest #1 = a decent, reasonably priced pedicure.  Quest #2 = a small, cute stuffed animal. 

Stone Arch Bridge

The Quests remain undone.

We watched So You Think You Can Dance and Revolutionary Road.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Britney woke me up and we resumed our Quests for the Unfindable.  We went to a cute gift/floral store called Bachman’s and stayed a while.  We also went to a great, quirky little place called Patina.  We found the unfindable…Britney and I both found adorable stuffed animals for our animal albums.  We’re taking a cue from Laura.

Kasey and Skitler
We also went to Psycho Suzie’s for lunch and ordered a trio of appetizers before hitting Minnehaha Park to see Minnehaha Falls, which was the inspiration of the poem “Song for Hiawatha” by Longfellow.  We explored the park a bit too.

We came back to Britney’s before heading out to the Canterbury Park to participate in $1 Night at the horse races.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Britney and I went to the Mall of America and spent a good six hours there before coming back to her place and ordering a pizza.  We snacked on pizza and cheesecake while watching Bedtime Stories.  It was a good day.

Skitler and Britney's cat, Mischief

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Saturday was jam-packed.  We walked a lot - down Hennepin to the Sculpture Garden stopping at many shops, book stores, and the Tea Garden, back up Hennepin to Lake Street, then up Lyndale to 31st and Dupont.  The SculptureGarden is where the landmark Minnesota cherry and spoon sculpture is located. 

We later went and ate dinner at Mickey’s Diner in St. Paul, which is a famous retro place which has been featured on Food Network, in The Smithsonian, National Geographic, Sports Illustrated, Easy Rider, Playboy and Elle magazines. The Mighty Ducks I, II, III, Jingle All the Way and A Prairie Home Companion movies contain scenes that were shot on location at Mickey's.

After a really delicious dinner of breakfast (two eggs over easy with English muffins, hash browns, and a hamburger patty), we went to the Capitol Building in St. Paul

We headed back to Britney’s to watch He’s Just Not That Into You.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Britney and I went to Patrick’s Bakery for lunch.  Then we headed to an indoor park with a waterfall, a park with bird sanctuary, another bird sanctuary/botanic garden before heading downtown to the Stone Arch BridgeSt. Anthony’s Waterfall, the old mill factories, and to the Mary Tyler Moore statue.

Later that evening, we watched The Pursuit of Happyness followed by Last Chance Harvey and Twilight.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Britney and I cleaned up her apartment a bit before heading out to Wasabi for lunch.  I got hibachi chicken.  She got sushi.  One of her items came with flames.  It was called a volcano roll.  All of the food was quite good.

After lunch we headed to the library so I could print my boarding pass and then to the Midtown Global Market.  We were able to procure some oddities at the market like a Chile covered watermelon lollypop for Kris.  I hit a Scandinavian food and gift store called CafĂ© Finspang.  I got a wonderful dessert called a Sara Bernard.  It was quite possibly the best dessert I have ever eaten.  I went back and bought another!  What is it you might ask...a multi-bite treat that has double boiled chocolate mousse on top of an almond cookie with a dark chocolate coating.  Seriously heaven.

Afterwards we were off for the airport where this trip write-up ends.  Fun times!