LT and I got to go on our “honeymoon” last month! We hadn’t planned one when we were getting married because LT was supposed to go to California for training after we had got married. Then he was supposed to deploy. Then he wasn’t going to deploy but I was already pregnant with Little Champ, and wouldn’t have been able to travel anywhere.
But while LT was in Afghanistan, we planned a honeymoon trip. We decided on a cruise so that we wouldn’t have to plan our itinerary more than the stops and shore excursions. His parents said they would love to come and watch Little Champ for a while, so they took a train from Minnesota and stayed at our house for 2 weeks.
We left from Tampa, but got there a day early so we wouldn’t be getting off a plane and going directly to the cruise ship. There we went to International Plaza, where we had the world’s best gelato, and I went to Crate&Barrel, Neiman Marcus, and Urban Outfitters for the first time. Neiman Marcus was underwhelming. I didn’t even stop to look at anything—we just walked through the store so I could see what it was like. Crate & Barrel was like the love child of Pottery Barn and IKEA (I actually have never set foot in a Pottery Barn either, just drooled at their catalogues). And in Urban Outfitters I skipped the clothing and headed straight for all the pretty decor.
LT’s Uncle picked us up to take us to the terminal (the docks), but first we visited this hotel—the Loews Don CeSar Hotel—in St. Petersburg
Since we traveled during hurricane season, we got good deals. Some people canceled, leaving a line of balcony suites open at really discounted prices. We are pretty frugal, but we also figured that we will only have a honeymoon once, so we did upgrade.
The first night at sea, I couldn’t sleep. Not because of the rocking, but because of the wind. Thankfully I had packed my earplugs, but I wish I had remembered them 8 hours earlier!
After a full day and night at sea, we stopped in Cozumel, Mexico.
We booked our shore excursions through ShoreExcursionsGroup.com rather than through Carnival. We saved money this way, and we got to go in much smaller groups than the Carnival Shore Excursions. In fact, in Cozumel, it was just LT and I and the guide!
It was an off road tour. We drove these little 4×4 Yamahas to a national park. We saw lots of wildlife (but unfortunately no sea turtles), like a crocodile, a coati which we fed bananas, a little bird with a broken wing that I brought down from on top of the lighthouse, and a handful of lizards. The poor little bird was so scared. It was likely going to die, but I thought that it would have a better chance on the ground rather than no chance at the top of a lighthouse. We went to the beach, too, but every day of our cruise, every beach had a red flag. No swimming :(
Our second stop was Belize. We went to the most famous Mayan ruins in the country, Altun-Ha. There we climbed to the top of the highest pyramid. LT pretended like he was being sacrificed. We bought a bunch of wood crafts there—a bread bowl, a wooden sea turtle for Little Champ—and a gigantic coconut which we couldn’t finish. This excursion was the best for the cultural experience. We still didn’t get much interaction with the locals, but we got the most during the day in Belize.
In Roatan (Honduras), we went on a series of zip-lines, the longest one stretching 1,250 feet over the canopy of a rainforest. It was definitely the most scenic and adventurous of the excursions!
Our last trip ashore was to Grand Cayman. We were supposed to swim with the rays and sea turtles (I was looking so forward to it!), but due to the rough waters, our excursion was canceled. Instead we wandered around like tourists.
To pass the time on the ship, we played Wizard’s Chess (my pawn beheaded LT’s); went to dinner with new friends; went to an art auction (and bought several of the low-priced pieces); were entertained by our waiter, Kamen (pictured in the Mariachi get-up); and sang karaoke, which ended in my recruitment into the “Legends Show” as Britney Spears (see before and after photos below)
Ahem. I’m sure you want to see photos of our towel animals! Here they are: a couple of walruses, a gorilla, an elephant, a koala, a monkey, a frog, and a rabbit/pig/cow.
It was a good time. Still, LT and I enjoy traveling where we can experience the culture more. The Carnival cruise line, at least, seemed to exalt drinking and eating more than anything else. Instead of experiencing Caribbean culture, we experienced a 24/7 buffet-eating and boozing culture, on shore and on ship. That might be exactly what most people want in a vacation, but not to us. When we can afford to go on a big trip again (20 years from now?), we’ve got our eyes on the Mediterranean and Europe. We are crossing our fingers to get stationed abroad, so we will see!