Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Carnival Conquest Cruise Review- Thanksgiving 2006

Suffice it to say, this was by far one of my most memorable holidays! First, I did not have to cook. Most of my family is eternally grateful for this, while my sister and husband are both laughing their a**es off at the thought of me even hinting that I might have cooked had I not been on a ship. I CAN actually follow directions and make some decent side dishes and fabulous Rice Krispie Treats(thanks to my Granny)! Anywho, this vacation was my idea so that my husband might relax some and as a way for me to recall the good old days of being able to read and relax during holidays like when I still ate at the kid's table. Of course, somehow, I was still sitting at the "kid's table" in my early to mid 20s (but at least I didn't have to cook). So I booked this cruise to Montego Bay, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel!

Second, I got to spend a whole week with no phone, no blackberry, no work worries, and got to sip drinks out of fun glasses with little umbrellas! We only have one child and she was out of school the whole week, so we had to take her with us. ;) Not that romantic with an 8 year old sharing a cabin with you!! Fortunately, Carnival understands that parents need some child-free moments and provides a kid's camp (aka Camp Carnival) that is available during the day and in the evenings, so we were able to sneak a few minutes alone. Priceless!

Third, my in-laws were able to go with us. Now, I know, most people would not see that as a plus, but we figured we need to be nice if we ever want to get any family heirlooms when they croak! ;) Just Joking! My in-laws are truly a blast, and we really enjoyed sharing this vacation with them. Especially since we don't get to see them as much as we'd like.

So the journey began...We drove to Galveston on Saturday and met up with his parents, who had flown into Houston earlier in the day. If you ever cruise out of Galveston and need hotel accomodations, you should check out the Harbor House Inn at Pier 21 where we stayed. It's an old waterfront warehouse convereted into an Inn. Visit their website at Our room faced the ship's pier and we were able to watch as the Conquest docked early Sunday morning. FYI...the Harbor House gives AARP discounts! My in-laws booked both rooms with their discount. I guess there are some perks to getting older! :) The inn provides a decent continental breakfast, the rooms were big enough and nice, not too pricey, and the hotel is walking distance to the cruise terminal. Walking to the terminal is not a bad idea unless you packed your entire house just to go on a 7-day cruise! Between 5 of us, we had at least 10 bags, so we drove to the terminal to drop off all of our lugggage & stayed with the bags while my husband took the car back to the hotel then walked back to meet us. We were able to park our vehicle at the hotel for the week of the cruise for only about $20/week.

We got in line at the terminal around 11:30 am or so and were on board within 30 minutes. We booked balcony cabins on the Upper Deck...for me, this is the only way to cruise and definitely worth the extra moola! Also, if you travel with friends or family, you can request cabins next to each other and open the partition between the balconies to make one big balcony and increase party capacity. However, the cabin next to us was not available, so we were just a few cabins away from the in-laws. Shortly after embarking, we were greeted on the pool deck with the "drink of the day" (aka DOD). Did I mention all I needed was a little paper umbrella floating in some type of rum or tequila concoction! ;) Perfection! We then found the burger station next to the pool to grab some sustenance to try to slow the effects of our DOD! Watch out for the hazards of your Sail & Sign card. This is the lovely "purchase anything and everything on the ship card" they give you just to make it easier in maxing out your credit card right before Christmas!

Now full and working towards inebriation, we headed to our cabins to see if by chance we might have our luggage. A few of our pieces were there, none of mine of course, so we unpacked then enjoyed the view from our balcony. We were still in port, and it was fun watching the "latecomers" rushing to get to the ship! I can't stress enough how relaxing it was getting to Galveston the day before! Again, worth a little extra money to stay overnight than risk missing the boat!

We were assigned the 6 pm seating in the Monet dining room. which worked out great for us...although a little earlier than we normally eat, but it worked out for seeing after dinner shows. While getting freshened up for dinner, we sailed out of port and my bags finally arrived. Luckily, I had worn casual pants and top onto the ship just in case which was appropriate for the dining room on a non-formal night. At dinner, we had the table right next to the "captain's' table. However, we ate in the dining room 4 of the 7 nights, and the captain's table was empty those nights. We were seated with another family (2 grandparents, daughter, son-in-law, & 2 children). They were a nice and interesting family. The food was delicious each and every night, and the staff was wonderful and attentive.

So the first day of the cruise was a success. Then came the 2nd day...about 5 am Monday morning, we felt the ship rolling through the waves. I am not usually prone to motion sickness (I can read in the car, etc.), but this I was feeling. I did not get sick, but I quickly took Bonine motion sickness medicine to ward off any thoughts of becoming so! I can handle blood & broken bones, but I am completely useless when it comes to vomit and mucus (anyone's including my own)! I gag at the sight or even thought of runny noses and major reason why I would not make a good nurse or preschool teacher. My husband was feeling the movement more so than I did (or maybe it was from partaking of wine and other drinks at dinner Sunday night). However, once he had some coffee and toast around 10 am along with some Bonine, he started feeling a little better.

We were at sea both Monday and Tuesday and hoping to enjoy the pool deck. Unfortunately, the weather was not cooperating. It rained off and on, the seas were a little rough, and it didn't get warmer than about 70 degrees those first few days. Of course, my daughter, was not the least bit fazed by this. She was ready to go to the pool in her bikini with me wrapped up in workout pants and a long sleeved jacket. I need it to be at least 85 degrees to be in a swimsuit (along with and a tan and some lipo). ;) So we headed to the hot tub which was full of people all under the age of 12. They were having a blast while all of the adults were cuddled under their beach towels fully dressed trying to stay warm! As I was sitting there trying to read while my teeth chattered, my daughter calls me over to the hot tub. As soon as I get close enough she whispers and points to a boy about 10 in the hot tub who happens to have a big green mucus thing hanging from his nose (I am gagging uncontrollably...even now just thinking about it). Seriously...did she have to point that out! Then she just laughs while I can barely chastise her between gags. His dad finally sees his green monster and proceeds to wipe it off with his hands THEN washes it off in the hot tub! I am now about to lose whatever contents are in my stomach! I quickly get my 8 year-old out of the mucus/germ-ridden water and take her to our cabin for a shower! Needless to say, I never enter the hot tub the rest of the week.

The ship is great, the food fantastic, but I was really looking forward to the ports of call. Wednesday morning we reached our first port, Montego Bay. I sat out on the balcony with my coffee as we pulled into port in Jamaica around 7 am. I am not typically a morning person, but I did not want to miss it. Although it was overcast that day, the view was still amazing. My in-laws took a shore excursion to the Rum Plantation, and we took Morgan to Sunset Beach Resort, an all-inclusive resort with a private beach, waterslides, and all you can eat and drink. We paid for a day pass that they offer to cruisers and had a great time. Good Jerk Chicken and Rum beverages!

Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, we were to be in Grand Cayman. We scheduled a shore excursion with my in-laws to the Turtle Farm (turtle is supposedly a delicacy in the Caymans - not so sure about that). Anyway, this is a port where we were supposed to tender, but the seas were too rough for the tender boats. So we had an extra day at sea instead. Although I was really looking forward to seeing Grand Cayman, it was not entirely a loss as Carnival refunded our excursion cost since we booked through the ship plus we received a $25 credit per person to our Sail & Sign card for missing the port. The refund and credit allowed for a few more DODs and vacation photos! However, it was sad for a few couples who were to be married in Grand Cayman. Fortunately, Carnival stepped in and provided a ceremony on board for them. That night, we had a nice dinner in the Monet, and I did not eat any Turkey! Instead I had shrimp, filet mignon and a fabulous dessert. By far, one of my favorite Thanksgiving meals!

Friday we reached Cozumel. It was truly our first full sunny day. Scott and his dad took an excursion to Tulum. I would have loved to go on this excursion, but I was not sure Morgan would be up for the long bus ride. My MIL enjoyed some peace and quiet on the ship, while Morgan and I took a ferry to Playa del Carmen. Her 3rd grade teacher was vacationing at a resort in Playa, and we were to meet her there. However, on the 45 min. ferry ride to Playa, Morgan, who had been fine on the ship all week, vomited due to the rough ride. Poor thing...I can't believe that I did not join her like I feared I might, but as I was getting up to throw away the nasty wipes another parent loaned me to clean up the mess, we hit a wave and the boat threw me into another seat and cut my leg. Now, I was bleeding! Aren't we a pair! I cleaned and doctored my wounded leg, which luckily did not get infected! We then caught a cab in Playa to get to the resort. Looking back, I'm not so sure it was a great idea for me to go it alone with my 8 year old daughter, but I've never really been overly cautious. The driver was very nice and came back to the resort to pick us up as requested. Luckily, the ferry ride back to Cozumel was uneventful. We were all so tired that we went to one of the buffets for dinner instead of going to the dining room.

Saturday, alas, was our last day on the cruise. It was a sea day, and was by far the warmest and sunniest day of the cruise. We enjoyed the pool deck, more drinks with umbrellas, then the dreaded task of having to pack. It was also our 2nd formal night. So we got dressed up and went to dinner at The Point, the additional fee for this dining room was well worth it. Afterwards, Morgan and I went to see the Legends show. This show includes cruisers who have auditioned during the cruise during the karaoke nights to perform at the show. They dress up and sing like famous singers, aka Britney Spears, Dolly Parton, Garth Brooks, etc. It was a great show. Not typically my husband's idea of fun so he enjoyed some peace and quiet on our balcony.

Sunday morning we docked in Galveston and were off the ship by about 10:30 am! Then we had a nice 5 hour drive back to the Big D. It was a great vacation, and I hope to take another cruise soon. Maybe the next one will be adults only. We certainly had a great time with our daughter, and it is hard to leave her for that long. However, my daughter has now been on two cruises (the same number as both my husband and me...the 1st was in 2003 on the Disney Wonder).

Not to worry, I will post pictures of our Carnival Cruise vacation soon!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Linus Christmas Monologue

This is great! It reminds us of the true meaning of Christmas. My friend, Pam, had it on her blog, and I had to share it on mine.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Merry Christmas from our family to yours!

We hope you have a very Merry Christmas
and wonderful New Year!
Scott, Cheri & Morgan

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Emerald Ball 2006

A local troop of older girl scouts hosted an "Emerald Ball" Friday night. This was a "Wizard of Oz" themed dance/costume party. Morgan went as Glinda, the Good Witch of the North, and her best friend, Josie, went as the Wicked Witch of the West. They had such a great time. Josie's mom, Pam (also my good friend), made Morgan's crown and Josie's "crystal ball". She is so artistic and creative. The crystal ball has a doll-size Dorothy and Toto on the yellow-brick road.