Monday, January 29, 2018

Day 6: Aruba on the Carnival Vista

Hey, this whole "sleeping in on port days" thing is getting to be a real habit. We arrived at our scheduled time of 8 a.m., but we got to sleep in today anyway. When I set up our dives for Aruba, the dive operator said they'd pick us up at 10. Sleep in, and dive? Yes, please!

We had our now standard coffee and pastries on the balcony around 8:30, as usual. And, as usual, we were able to enjoy the relaxed pace of not having to get up and rush around. We were able to get a good view of the terminal area, as we were tied up on the port side of the ship. We watched many people as they headed towards their own excursions, much like we did in La Romana. 

I mentioned before in previous blogs how Cindy and I prefer to remain as unplugged as possible when cruising. Sometimes this can be a bit of a problem, as you'll soon see. When we are getting picked up by a dive operator at a given time, we like to be at the appointed meeting place a little early, usually about 15 minutes early, just to make sure we don't get missed. Today was no different, and we got to the meeting place and waited for our pickup......and waited........and waited. Hhhhmmmm, this isn't good. We waited until 10:30, then decided to go back to the ship. We figured there was a disconnect with the pickup time. Since Aruba is one hour ahead of Miami, or "ship's time," we wondered if they had already come and gone. This happened to us before, in St. Thomas. When booking with a dive operator, I'm always very specific about our port times. I make sure to state that we are on "Galveston time," or "Miami time," so that they can make the appropriate adjustments and pick us up at the proper time.

Remember that part about being unplugged? Call me cheap, or frugal as I prefer, but I didn't even take my phone out of airplane mode. International roaming/data charges? No thank you. I didn't feel like spending $10 for 24 hours worth of internet, either. I found out after we got back that the dive operator sent us an e-mail a couple of days before we got to Aruba that their boat had some mechanical issues and they weren't going to be able to take us diving. Of course, that was after the fact, so once we got back on board and dropped off our dive gear, we reconfigured into "shopping and tourist" mode and headed into the local area.

Downtown Oranjestad

We try to be flexible when traveling, as things can and do happen. Yeah, we were disappointed that we wouldn't be diving, but that just gives us an excuse to go back. With Christmas coming up, this would be a good place to find gifts for family and friends. One of our favorite stores to hit in the Caribbean (well, anywhere that has one, really) is Del Sol. This company sells color-changing clothing and accessories, and we try to get a t-shirt from each new port we visit. These shirts are location specific, and we have some from Cozumel to St. Maarten. There are a few Del Sol stores in the US as well, and we even have a shirt from Durango, CO. 

As we strolled about, we ran into Keith and Barbara. They had been under the weather all cruise, so they weren't diving today, either. We hung out with them for a while, visiting several shops. They, too, had no specific plan, so we took in the sights while shopping. This bright creature caught my eye and naturally I wanted a photo of it. 

A blue horse??

This is her story

OK, cool, but why a blue horse? Not that I have anything against blue, I like blue, but it is an unusual color. Maybe "a horse of a different color?" Some of y'all will get that, most probably won't. You are welcome to leave your guess in the comments section below. We spent about another hour or so shopping and sightseeing and headed back to the ship. Our first breakfast was light enough that we were getting hungry. I knew we should've had second breakfast before leaving the ship!

Wait, time for another photo!

I don't see too many of these in our travels, so it's always fun to take advantage of the ones we find. I'm glad there is usually someone around who's happy to take our photo so both of us can be in it. From there, our walk to the ship was very short. There was no line to speak of, as most were still on their excursions or shopping. While I know the Vista is a huge ship, this really gets driven home when there's a smaller ship tied up alongside it. 

Carnival Vista and MV Freewinds

For some reason, that smaller ship intrigued me. It was obviously a passenger vessel, and the name placard identified it as the "Sea Organization Motor Vessel Freewinds." Without internet access, I knew I'd have to wait until I got back to Miami to find out more about this ship. It had that "old school" look about it, if for no other reason than the open style lifeboats. 

MV Freewinds

Once we got back to Miami, and I had internet access back on my phone, I Googled the name and discovered that the MV Freewinds belongs to Sea Org, which is part of the Church of Scientology. A church with its own cruise ship? Interesting, to say the least.

We dropped our gifts and souvenirs off in the cabin and headed up to Lido for lunch. Being a port day, we had our pick of eating venues with no lines. I'm sure several of my long-time readers will have no problem guessing what I picked, and you'd be right.

Blue Iguana pork tacos

I'll admit that I have impossibly high standards when it comes to this type of food. That's why it constantly amazes me, then, at how good I find these! Between the perfectly seasoned meat to the fresh toppings, these tacos stand out as something I'd happily eat anytime, any day. Good for you, Carnival! 

This was our last port, and last opportunity to dive on this trip. We had two sea days back, so after lunch, we took our dive gear up to the aft Lido for another good rinse. During the previous evening in Curacao, we rinsed our gear, but I wanted to give it another thorough rinse and allow it to dry completely. The aft Lido pools were practically empty, so we had no problem finding several loungers to spread our gear out on. It was hot and sunny in Aruba, so our gear dried in no time. We packed it all up and took it back to the cabin. 

We then ventured forward to the Serenity Deck and relaxed in the hot tub. By now people were starting to return to the ship and the common areas were beginning to fill up.There were a few people already in the tub, but we still had plenty of room. I struck up a conversation with a man from Florida, who happened to be a private pilot. It was fun talking about aviation-related subjects. Another gentleman from Philadelphia confirmed for me that an authentic Philly cheesesteak is made with Cheez Whiz. That's a whole 'nother story, but suffice it to say it finally put that question to rest. 

About the time I started on my second, or third, adult beverage, the Vista got underway for Miami. Sailaway from the for me! In this part of the Caribbean, so close to Venezuela, I saw numerous drilling and production rigs on each side of us. Having been a rig medic for Sedco Forex (now part of Transocean) many years ago, I'm still drawn to drilling rigs, almost as much as aircraft......almost. I took a few photos of rigs as we passed by, but with a small pocket camera, it was hard to get a good picture from a distance.

Drilling rigs

Our view didn't last too long, though, as sunset was coming on fast. Add one more reason we enjoy cruising later in the year: watching a beautiful sunset before dinner. I have soooo many sunset photos from our previous cruises I could make an entire album of nothing but sunsets. Most are good, some spectacular, and some not worth keeping. 

Sunset in Aruba

A glance at my watch told me it was time to head to the cabin and get cleaned up for dinner. Reluctantly Cindy and I took our leave and made our way below. After a hot and sunny day in Aruba, then soaking in a hot tub, a shower was definitely called for. We took our time and enjoyed listening to some more Christmas music on our mp3 player while we got ready for dinner. 

Heading back to Miami

Both of us were anxious to hear how the rest of our group enjoyed their day. I knew the Weinerts had booked an excursion through Carnival and wanted to hear about their experience touring Aruba. I figured they would have some pretty cool photos, too.

Appteizer: Caprese Salad
Tomato and fresh mozzarella, balsamico, virgin olive oil, basil

This is another of those appetizers that I normally order two of. This time, though, I ordered only one, as the entree looked good and I wanted to save room for it. The tomatoes were firm with just the right amount of acidity. The mozzarella, combined with fresh basil and olive oil complemented the tomatoes and made the whole dish special. Just a touch of salt and pepper completed this most pleasing appetizer.

Main: "Antillean Style Grilled Chicken"
Marinated with fresh pineapple juice and Ketjab Manis. Grilled yam and pineapple on mashed potatoes. Served with a peanut and coco dressing.

Wow! This entree was one of the featured "port" entrees and gives me a reason to go back to Aruba. The chicken was moist and tender, with a spicy and crunchy breading. It was fork tender and when combined with the peanut dressing made for one of the best entrees I've ever had on a Carnival ship. 

Dessert: Butter pecan ice cream

While I can get butter pecan ice cream anywhere, I enjoy this treat just as much on the ship. After such a phenomenal entree, this was the perfect finish. I was pleasantly full, but not quite to the "waddling from the table" stage. 

So, how did the others enjoy their day? Very much so, apparently. Brian, Denise and B-Man told us all about their tour. They got a good overview of Aruba, including the Alto Vista Chapel, Casibari rock formations, the natural bridges and the California Lighthouse. 

Enjoying the view
photo courtesy of Denise Weinert

Make sure you click on the above photo and see if you can find our ship in the background. This is a good photo to demonstrate just how small Aruba is. We docked on the south side of the island and their tour focused on points along the north side.

Welcome to....a bridge?
photo courtesy of Brian M. Weinert

Natural rock "bridge"
photo courtesy of Denise Weinert

California Lighthouse
photo courtesy of Denise Weinert

B-Man adds his view of the lighthouse
photo courtesy of Brian M. Weinert

As if we didn't get enough time in the hot tubs during the day, Keith, Barbara, Denise, B-Man and I decided to spend some more time in the Serenity hot tubs after dinner. Cindy had her fill already, so she opted to stay in the cabin and watch......GASSSP.......some network TV. We enjoyed just hanging out and recapping our cruise so far. We even started talking about where and when our next cruise would be. 

In what felt like just a few minutes, our two-hour soak in the hot tub ended with us heading to our respective cabins. One more quick shower to wash off the chlorine and I was ready to sit out on our balcony and listen to the water rushing by, watch the stars and consider just how lucky I was to have this opportunity. 

Two more sea days, then our time on the Vista will be finished, at least for now. 

Coming up next, you'll be able to read about those fun days at sea. 

For your convenience, here are the links to the previous blogs in this series:

My Grand View of the Carnival Vista (first in a series)

Day 1: Embarkation on the Carnival Vista

Day 2: Our First Fun Day at Sea on the Carnival Vista

Day 3: Grand Turk on the Carnival Vista

Day 4: La Romana on the Carnival Vista

Day 5: Curacao on the Carnival Vista

Until next time.......

carpe cerevisi

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Day 5: Curacao on the Carnival Vista

On our last port of call in La Romana, we had no specific plans, so we got to sleep in. Today we were booked for a two tank dive with Caribbean Sea Sports.....and we still got to sleep in! Yay! When we first booked this cruise, I noticed that our port times for Curacao were from 1 pm until 10 pm. My first thought when I saw those times? Night dive! I immediately started researching dive operators and whether or not we could do a night dive with them.

Since we were cruising in December, sunset was early enough to allow full darkness for a night dive and still give us plenty of time to get back to the ship. Works for me! A late arrival time into Willemstad would allow us to have a relaxed morning before heading to the dive shop.

We are really getting spoiled to having our coffee and pastries on the balcony for first breakfast! Cindy and I took our time over coffee while watching the coast of Curacao slide by in the near distance. Our dive gear was already prepped, so all we needed to do was grab it and go when we docked. Actually, we had lunch before reaching Willemstad as well. The weather was so nice that we decided to have lunch on our balcony as well. We headed up to Lido and I grabbed a BLT and chips while Cindy opted for a Reuben. With a light breakfast and a moderate lunch, we were set for food until we got back. We made sure to have a couple of Cliff bars in our bag just in case, though.

Approaching Willemstad

I'm glad we happened to have our cabin on the port side of the ship, as we got to watch the pilot boat approach. It never fails to amaze me when I watch these boats approach the ship. These huge cruise ships, with their stabilization technology, make for smooth, comfortable sailing, at least for the most part. While we may feel only the merest bit of motion, the smaller boats look like a carnival ride.

Here comes the pilot boat

As we watched the pilot boat get closer, it was pitching and rolling wildly, while our ship continued sedately on course. I even joked to Cindy about how it reminded me of one of our dive boats in Belize.

And it takes a big wave

I'd like to take a ride on a pilot boat one of these days, just to experience what we watched. I've seen this on several occasions, and always wonder if they are strapped into seats or just develop a keen sense of balance. 

Coming alongside

Once the pilot boarded the Vista, we picked up a little more speed and soon we were approaching the pier. Keith and Barbara were still feeling under the weather, so they opted not to dive again today. Cindy and I proceeded to the Red Frog Pub for "priority debarkation." Basically, a bunch of us were just milling around until a uniformed crew member said: "Right this way, please." We dutifully followed her down a few flights of stairs and shortly thereafter we were off the ship.

We met J.J. from Caribbean Sea Sports, who drove us to their dive shop, about a ten minute ride away. He dropped us off near the shop and a short walk later we met Marcel, our divemaster for the day. Since we paid ahead of time, all we needed to do was fill out the obligatory release forms and start assembling our gear. We also needed to analyze our gas mixture, as we were diving nitrox today. Our tanks checked out, just as I figured they would, and Marcel gave us our dive briefing.

CSS dive shop
photo courtesy of Caribbean Sea Sports

When booking this dive, we had several options, from an afternoon boat dive to a shore dive from several our choice of several locations. The night dive would be a shore dive on the dive operator's "house reef" near the dive shop. As a group, we agreed that it would be most interesting to make both the afternoon dive and night dive from the same location so we could directly compare the two.

If you've read my blog on our day in Grand Turk (I really hope you did), you'll remember how I made a big deal about not carrying my camera that day. Well.....once again, I didn't bring my camera. I had a good reason, though. Doing a night dive requires a good light source, which we both had. I do have a video light for my camera, but it isn't bright enough for use as a dive light. It's great for close up work, but not for distance illumination. So, I could carry one or the other. Obviously, I'd need the dive light for the night dive, which ruled out carrying the video light/camera setup. While I could've carried the camera for the afternoon dive, I didn't know if I could secure it adequately for the night dive. I made the decision to leave it on the ship as it just wasn't practical to bring both.

Marcel, our DM (the diver in front)
photo courtesy of Caribbean Sea Sports

For this dive, we walked to the end of the pier in front of their shop and stepped right in. We spent the first few minutes of the dive looking for a seahorse that had taken up residence on one of the pier's supports. We didn't find it, so Marcel led us off along the reef. It seemed like there was a lot of debris on the bottom, and I made note of it to ask Marcel when we got back to the surface. As we neared the end of our dive, Marcel led us up this gradual incline to our safety stop depth. Our exit was at a small beach near the dive shop.

Dive #1 - afternoon
scanned from printed log

When asked about the debris we saw, Marcel informed us that some of it came from a pier that was wrecked during a hurricane. Cindy asked about all the empty bottles we found, and he said these came from passing party boats and yachts. "These people will finish a bottle of Champagne and just toss it overboard. There is no way to catch them at it, so it becomes a mess." 

Even with a 50 minute dive, we still had plenty of time before sunset, so I knew we would have a long surface interval. Marcel suggested we go to the nearby hotel restaurant and grab some dinner if we wanted to eat. With our recent hearty lunch, neither of us was hungry, so we just hung out at the dive shop, relaxing and enjoying a day on a Caribbean beach.

Nature treated us to a beautiful sunset while we organized our gear for our upcoming dive. This would be Cindy's first night dive, but she showed no signs apprehension or discomfort. If anything, she seemed excited to try something new. That's my girl! 

Because we were diving the same location, Marcel's pre-dive brief mainly covered how we would use the dive lights for signaling. He cautioned us not to keep our lights shining on parrotfish too long, as that would cause them to move from their sleep position and destroy a protective bubble they created each night to sleep. Yet another reason I love diving. I learn something new every time.

By design, this dive would be limited to 45 minutes, more or less. We had to be somewhat cognizant of the time, and 45 minutes would be adequate to see what we wanted to see. Once again, we made our entry from the end of the pier. The next time someone tells me "Take a long walk off a short pier" I can truthfully answer "Been there, done that" and leave them wondering. 

We actually found the seahorse this time after a brief search. As we progressed through our dive, we found several lionfish, but not as many as I expected. That's a good thing, too! The really cool thing was the way our lights reflected off a huge lobster. It was almost iridescent, and I wish I could've gotten a photo of that. 

All too soon our dive was over and we made our exit at the same beach. As we walked out of the water, I noticed a group of three or four sitting around a fire, enjoying the evening. I would've loved to had a Creature from the Black Lagoon costume on as we exited the water. That would've been hilarious, at least to me. Then again, I probably would've gotten my butt kicked, too.

Dive # 2 - night
scanned from printed log

We rinsed our gear off in the outside shower and rinse tank. It would be too late to rinse our gear on Lido, so this worked out perfectly for us. Marcel insisted we take our time rinsing our gear and getting it stowed in our dive bags properly. We didn't want to hold him up, as he still had to drive us back to the ship. He assured us that we weren't holding anything up, as he had the next day off. "Just take your time and take care of your dive gear." Thanks, Marcel! 

Back to the ship
photo courtesy of Brian M. Weinert

Almost aboard
photo courtesy of Brian M. Weinert

He dropped us off at the cruise terminal and we got back on the ship in very short order. As it was already 7:30 pm, there was no way we'd get cleaned up in time to make it for dinner. Of course, we knew this ahead of time and had already planned to have dinner in the Lido buffet. A quick detour to the cabin to drop off our dive gear and we were headed up to Lido. I grabbed an assortment of food, from a rice pilaf to chicken strips and satisfied my hunger. 

Back to the cabin to shower and change into our nightly wear. Cindy looked through the Fun Times while I was showering and thought going to the "High Seas Karaoke" in the Limelight Lounge would be fun. Ummm, sure, babe, sounds like fun. I'd much rather listen to a bunch of amateurs sing than watch some of the ship's professionals entertain us. Oh, wait, there's no sarcasm font, is there? 

Hey, look, some empty seats next to Keith and Barbara. As we plopped down beside them, I asked how they were feeling. Even though they were feeling a little better, they decided to scrub tomorrow's dive in Aruba with us. I'll admit that some of our fellow passengers actually did a good job. None of them were truly "bad," but one or two really knocked it out of the park. Our pick up time was 10 am the next day so we could stay up a little. That also meant, yes, you guessed it, coffee and pastries on the balcony! Most cool.

While this concluded our day, I want to introduce y'all to some of our other traveling group that I've mentioned, but not yet really written about. Cindy's brother Brian, his wife Denise and their son Brian Marcus ("B-Man") had some really cool excursions in most of the ports. 

Brian, Denise and B-Man took a private excursion featuring the highlights of Curacao's east side. Of course we didn't get to ask them about their excursion until the following night at dinner. We got to hear about their day in Curacao and Aruba. My Aruba blog will be out after I post this one, by the way. They seemed to have a good time in Curacao, and judging from some of the photos I saw B-Man did some exploring after dark as well.

Denise & Brian Weinert
photo courtesy of Denise Weinert

Vista at sunset
photo courtesy of Denise Weinert

Lighted arches
photo courtesy of Brian M. Weinert

B-Man takes a selfie
photo courtesy of Brian M.Weinert

I believe all of us had fun in Curacao, whether diving, exploring or just hanging out on the ship and enjoying a little downtime. We have one more port day, Aruba, then two sea days back to Miami. What will tomorrow bring? 

For your convenience, here are links to the rest of my blogs in the series thus far:

Coming up next, we visit Aruba!

Until next time.....

carpe cerevisi

Friday, January 12, 2018

Day 4: La Romana on the Carnival Vista

Sleeping in? On a port day? Yes, it's true! Usually, on a port day, we are up and ready to go, dive bags on our backs, ready to debark the ship and head to the dive shop as soon as we are able. As I mentioned in my last blog, we had no specific plans for La Romana. From what I was able to determine, the diving wasn't that good locally and there were no specific tours or excursions that sounded appealing. We'd just play it by ear and see how it would go. 

Welcome to La Romana

We were scheduled to dock at 9 am, and since I enjoy watching the process, I ordered our now-standard coffee and pastries for 8:30. We could watch everything from our balcony, have first breakfast and formulate a plan for the day. Cindy actually brought along some study materials for her last class she had to take. She was perfectly happy to study for a few hours in the morning while I sat on the balcony reading something on my Kindle. 

The cruise terminal is located in an industrial area, so I knew if we wanted to get off the ship it would be limited pretty much to the shops in the terminal area only. Fine with me, I'm flexible.

I watched our ship approach the pier and noted the line handling crew standing by, ready to secure the lines to the bollards. We actually backed into our spot, a somewhat common occurrence. Whew, it's definitely hot out here today! Well, maybe since our a/c is turned down nice and low it just feels hot. No, it's hot! The heat and humidity reminded me of summer in SE Texas, so it was really nothing unusual. Besides, we're in the Caribbean! What other kind of weather would be here?

Below is a screenshot I captured from Google Earth that will give you a good idea of where we docked and should give you a better feel for where I took some of the following photos. Note that the cruise ship on the Google Earth photo also backed into the same place we did.  

La Romana cruise terminal
image captured from Google Earth

Even from our Deck 7 balcony, I had an amazing view of the cruise terminal. The view got even better when we headed up to Lido for lunch, but more on that later. We were in no hurry to get off the ship, so I filled my tumbler with ice water and sipped on that while enjoying the view. The following few photos are looking basically east.

The terminal from our balcony

Looking forward (right)

Looking aft (left)

I had fun watching our fellow passengers as they walked down the pier, heading to whatever excursion or outing they had planned. Some were walking with a purpose, passing others who chose a more sedate pace. Some had backpacks or totes with them, while others didn't seem to be carrying anything.

Have fun, y'all!

First breakfast was good for a start, but lunch on Lido was sounding better and better. Being a port day, I knew lines wouldn't be too long at the most popular venues. That meant one thing: Guy's Burgers! You'd think being on a cruise ship, I wouldn't get excited over a mere cheeseburger, but hey, I love a tasty burger. Besides, I haven't had a Guy's Burger yet on this cruise.

A "Pig Patty" burger

We both took our time, savoring each bite, and watching those still on board enjoy their day as well. Once we finished lunch, we'd take a leisurely stroll off the ship and check out the vendors in the terminal area. If we saw something at a good price, we'd consider it. Otherwise, we'd take a look around and get back on the ship. There are an ice cream dispenser and a pool on Lido calling to me. No big deal, one way or the other.

A short walk from the ship brought us to the tourist area at the terminal. We passed several of our fellow passengers, heading back to the ship. Several were covered head to toe in mud! The only clean part on them was where their sunglasses were. We asked this group of four what they had been doing and they answered enthusiastically they had been "mudding" in ATVs. They related how much fun they had, which made us both want to do something like this the next time we cruised.

As we entered the shopping area we noticed that many vendors were present, offering a multitude of items for sale. Everything from shot glasses to t-shirts to hand-painted items was for sale. I happened to see a gentleman with dive gear in the area, and stopped to ask how the diving was. "Fantastic!" he replied. Great, so much for research.

We made the rounds of all the vendors, and actually found a few things worth a second look. One booth sold hand-painted shirts, and Cindy picked out a colorful shirt that will certainly look good on her. We also found a hand-painted wooden plate that had this beautiful sea fan painted on it. The price was right so we bought that as well.

Sea fan on a wood plate

This plate now resides on our fireplace mantel, alongside a wood Angelfish we got in Belize a few years ago. We shopped a little more, then decided to return to the ship. That ice cream wasn't going to eat itself. Nor were the chocolate chip cookies.

We walked past this large statue, and naturally I wanted a photo of it. Both of us posed with it, and we took several photos.

Interesting statue

Is it just me, or does this statue seem to have a Brazilian? Click on the photo for a larger view and tell me what you think.

I'm not the only one who takes many photos. Carnival has photographers constantly taking photos of the passengers, at dinner, on Lido, and at every port. As you get off the ship, they'll stop you on the gangway and have you pose for pictures. We usually just say "no, thank you" and keep walking. I realize they are just doing their job, so I don't hold it against them. As we made our way back to the ship, I saw two of the Carnival photographers waiting for more people to pass by. Bringing up my camera, I imitated their spiel about posing for a photo. Both immediately jumped into the act and posed nicely for me.


Back on the ship, we dropped our purchases off in the cabin, changed into swimwear and headed up to Lido. We found a couple of prime spots on aft Lido and plopped down to relax. Well, Cindy did, while I decided to take some more photos of the port area. As you'll be able to see from these photos, it's definitely an industrial area. If you'll look back at the Google Earth photo earlier in this blog, you can match that to what you see below.

Looking generally west

Looking generally WNW

Looking north

More and more people started filtering onto Lido as they came back from their time ashore. Based on the animated conversation I overheard, it sounds like most people had a great time. After my brief photo shoot, I dropped my camera into my bag and we enjoyed soaking in the hot tub for about an hour. By now the sun was creeping towards the western horizon and sailaway time was approaching. Timing was going to be perfect for this sailaway! Not only would we have time to watch sailaway from Lido, but shortly thereafter I could get some (hopefully) good sunset photos. I take many sunset photos on our cruises, and some of them have turned out quite nicely.

Sunset approaches...

We hung out on Lido, watching the sunset, until close to 5, when we headed downstairs to our cabin to clean up for dinner. For not having a full day planned, it still went by rapidly. We'll have to seriously consider doing that ATV mudding excursion the next time we're here.

If I haven't made it abundantly clear in my previous blogs, I'll make it clear now: I love that map screen on the TV! Then again, I'm that nerd who carries his GPS with him on every flight and every cruise and downloads the track log of those trips as well.

En route to Curacao

Did you notice our current speed? See what I mean about that number seeming to pop up everywhere? Recently Cindy and I had dinner with family from out of town and what was his order number? Yep, 19!

So, what's for dinner tonight? I'm not overly hungry, so just about anything on the menu will be fine with me.

Appetizer: "Michigan Pasty"
Filled with beef and potatoes, honey mustard dip

Wow, these are good! The beef was spiced just right, and the crust was flaky. I'm a big fan of honey mustard, so seeing this as a dipping sauce made the decision to order this app easy for me. I hope they are available on the next cruise we book.

Main: "Flat Iron Steak"
Pepper, herbs, broccoli, baked potato

I ordered my steak medium, but unfortunately, it came out well done. Well done, as in needing a scalpel to cut through it. The waitstaff is always happy to please, and it would've been easy for me to send it back for one less incinerated. I had taken only a couple of bites when the head waiter asked if I wanted another steak prepared. I wasn't hungry enough to warrant the extra work for them or wasting another steak, so I politely declined and finished the baked potato. That will just leave me more room for dessert.

Cindy's main: "Beef Wellington"
Puff pastry, burgundy sauce, roasted potato, pea gratin

She thoroughly enjoyed her beef Welly and was happy to see that the puff pastry wasn't soggy or undercooked. I had a bite of her pea gratin and would love to find a recipe for something similar. 

Dessert: Boston Cream Cake

No, that wasn't a typo. It was cake and good cake at that. It tasted just like a traditional Boston cream pie. I especially enjoyed the chocolate crumble with chocolate sauce you see on the plate. 

Cindy's brother Brian and his wife Denise followed us back to our cabin so they could check out the balcony. Like us, they book interior cabins and haven't done a balcony yet. All four of us fit on the balcony, although it was just a tad crowded. Not bad, but a larger aft wrap balcony would be more suited for more than just two.

We hung out in our cabin, just visiting and catching up on family gossip until the Love & Marriage Show. Of course, we left about 15 minutes early to get good seats, and all four of us settled into what is usually a funny show. For those not familiar with this show, the CD will host the Love & Marriage Show once per cruise. He or she normally selects the most recently wed couple, the longest wed couple and something in between. He'll then bring them on stage, sitting back to back, and ask them a series of questions. Much like TV's The Newlywed Game, these questions are definitely adult in nature, so Carnival restricts minors from the show. You can just imagine how funny some of their answers (and reactions) are. 

The show was as entertaining as we expected it to be, and afterward, Cindy and I headed back to our cabin to hang out on the balcony and listen to the water rushing by the ship. It's so relaxing to just watch the stars, listen to the waves and let your mind wander.

We don't get into Curacao tomorrow until 1 pm, so we get to sleep in again. Yay!

Coming up next, I'll take y'all on another "virtual" dive when I write about our time in Curacao.

For your convenience, here are the links to the previous blogs in this series:

Until next time.....

carpe cerevisi