Thursday, 2/13/20 – Nassua, The Bahamas
We lounged by the pool in the morning, broken up by a meeting to discuss the procedures in Miami on Saturday for those of us who are going `Back-to-back”. As I had assumed looking at the itinerary, our two week cruise is really two one week cruises, one right after the other. At around noon we docked in Nassau, and went on our excursion to Atlantis, a well known resort/water park/aquarium. We mostly checked out the fish and wild life. Atlantis does some good things for helping wildlife, as so many zoos and aquariums do. They provided a home for some of the dolphins made homeless by Hurricane Katrina, and a place for injured sea turtles. If they can nurse them back to full health they do so and release them back into the wild, otherwise they provide a safe home for them. We also saw sharks, rays, and other sea creatures. Finally, when we were kind of wiped out from all the walking, we went back to the ship. Our show this evening was a Michael Jackson tribute, with a very good impersonator who could do the dancing and singing very believably. I did wonder if Micheal Jackson grabbed his crotch quite so much, and if so, was he worried he was going to lose something? Back in our room I read another chapter then went to sleep.
Friday, 2/14/20 – Ocean Cay, The Bahamas
Ocean Cay is MSC’s own ocean property, and we had booked an excursion here. But that fell victim to a mixup when we heard that we could not leave the ship until 10am, while our excursion time was 9:15. So we missed it. It was an MSC excursion, so we got a full refund, and since we will be back here in a week we can try it again. Instead, we rented snorkeling gear and practiced. It went much better this time and we suspect that better equipment helped. We started on the ocean side, but the surf was pretty rough and all we saw was sand anyway. So we moved to the lagoon where the water was calmer, but the water was so murky that we didn’t see anything there either. So the main benefit was that we got some practice in snorkeling. We did however get sunburned, probably due to a failure to re-apply sunscreen after our first trip into the surf. Cheryl also thought maybe we should purchase sun blocking swim clothing if we want to do more of this. That is something to think about.
We went back to the ship to shower and put on clean clothes, then went to dinner. After dinner was another show, The Dream, then we went ashore one more time to watch a parade by the Ocean Cay staff, leading to a light show at the Lighthouse. It was not the ne plus ultra of entertainment, but we enjoyed ourselves. And so ended week one of our cruise.
Saturday, 2/15/20 – Miami
The buffet was packed with people getting their breakfast before leaving the ship, so it was much busier than usual. We tend to be “early to bed, early to rise” people, so we are not up late partying like some people. But there is usually a late night comedy show, and Cheryl wanted to check it out, but we never managed to stay up that late. The show generally started at 10:45, way too late for us. While we are staying on board for another week, we do need to go through Customs in Miami, so we grabbed our passports and got in line. All they did was to glance at them and we were back on board. I guess we proved we had a current passport with the right photo.
Back on board we had very little to do while new passengers were boarding and finding their places, so we went back to our spot in the Jungle Pool to read. But after lunch we checked to see if we could switch our seating, which was set for 7:30 (way too late for us). We got switched to 5:30, which was perfect,and began having our dinners in the Seashore Restaurant. One nice thing for me was that they offered sugar-free ice cream, which I devoured. Then to the show, Timeless, which we had not seen our first week.
Sunday, 2/16/20 – At Sea
The long haul to Mexico from Miami meant another day At Sea, so we basically went lazy and read most of the day. Lounging by the pool in the warmth of the Caribbean is pretty much our primary reason for coming here and getting away from Michigan in the winter. Dinner again in the Seashore Restaurant was delicious. The show that night, The Wizard, we had caught in week one, so we skipped it and tried to check out some of the live music. We were both inclined to read our books while listening to the music, and around 9 went to bed.
Monday, 2/17/20 – Costa Maya, Mexico
I had been looking forward to this one particularly, and it did not disappoint. Costa Maya is in the Yucatan Peninsula, and was once in the middle of major Mayan settlements, which lasted there until around the ninth century. Then most of the inhabitants left and went north, and there is still disagreement on why, though the theory I have heard is that they destroyed their environment. The site we visited was Chacchoben (the name is Mayan for “The place of red corn”), and was constructed around 700 A.D., though Mayans had lived in the area since 200 B.C. It was a city center, and some of the structures were for religious ceremonies. The ceremonies of the Maya required red corn, and since this area produced it, they had a good trade with other Mayan settlements in Central America. Some of the structures have been restored to some degree, but others are left covered by jungle just as they were found. The jungle (technically rain forest) takes over quickly in these areas. The pyramids would have been colored a dull red, but the steps would have been white, and we saw a section that was covered to preserve the traces of color. There were spider monkeys on the site, but we didn’t spot any. We were warned about ants, not because they were in any way dangerous, but because stepping on an ant hill and having them swarm all over you is unpleasant. We also saw trees with massive termite damage, and also some strangler figs, which grow up the trunks of other trees and literally strangle them. Our guide Enrique made this the best excursion from Vacations to Go we have had. I think in the future if we go on another cruise like this we will book our excursions through the cruise line instead. It is just simpler that way, and there are more options.
We were back in time for lunch, then went up to the Pool area to relax and read. Dinner in the Seashore followed, then we caught the one remaining show we had not seen, My Life In Song, which pretty much consisted of the 5 singers (all very good) singing tunes, including several from Phantom of the Opera. We then went to a lounge where we expected to find country music (and the decorations certainly promised as much, but instead got the band cranking out covers of classic rock songs, so around 9 we went to bed.
Tuesday, 2/18/20 – Grand Cayman Island
At this stop there was no place for the ship to dock, so instead we anchored in the bay and went ashore via Tenders. Georgetown is the principal city and capital of the Caymans, and there we looked up the place we had booked for our excursion. We first went to a place called Hell, which is so named because of the rock formations, but otherwise has little to recommend it. We did see chickens everywhere, and I took a couple of photos of trees seriously bent by what I assume were hurricane winds. We then stopped at a place that sold Rum and Rum Cake, and neither of us bothered to get off the bus for that. The utter cheesiness of it all was getting to Cheryl, but the last stop made it better. It was a Turtle breeding and research facility, and you could touch some of the smaller turtles. But there were some monsters in there, some as much as 300 lbs., and moving them required cranes. We also saw one of the last surviving Cayman alligators. There is an aviary we would have liked to see, but we ran out of time. For us, this trip would have been much better if they dropped the first two stops and just let us spend a couple of hours at the turtle facility. Then back to the ship via Tender, and Cheryl napped while I did some journaling. We had no particular evening plans for after dinner, but the show was Fly, one of our two favorites from last week, so we booked it again.