Sunday, March 11, 2012

Western Caribbean Cruise - Cozumel

See that line of white between the sea and the sky? Cancun.
Told ya it looked tiny.
Photo by Chris. All rights reserved.

We sailed across the Gulf of Mexico, and the temperature got warmer, as promised! Hurricane Wilma having done a number on the Yucatan, we were unable to visit Cancun, but we saw it as we sailed by. Off in the far distance, the resorts beckoned white in the bright sunlight against the blue sky and azur sea. I know they are large, but they seemed so small and forlorn. The sand had all been washed away, and the new cruise dock had been completely demolished. It's hard to imagine that a storm could tear up concrete like that, but the storm stayed over the area for a long time, and the wind and water ripped it to shreds.

Cozumel when it is brown.
Photo by Chris. All rights reserved.
The end of the dock was ripped off (see left).
The building doesn't look so hot, either.
Photo by Chris. All rights reserved.
So, our ship went to Cozumel, which had also been hit hard by the same storm. There was major damage to the dock and so the ships were at anchor while the people were ferried in. The buildings were also damaged, and the tops of the palm trees were gone. It was all very...brown. New, small trees had been planted, and the rebuilding process had begun.

L to R: Fred, Cathy, Harry
Notice the tall trees and sandblasted buildings.
And the stuffed shopping bag. Go, Cathy!
Photo by Chris. All rights reserved.
We cheerfully bartered and spent some tourist dollars, doing our share to bolster the economy. Those who had been here previously were shocked at the lack of vegetation and sand. Apparently, it's normally quite lush here. But it wasn't on this day. There are lots of cute shops and little boutiques. And Senor Frog's. But we didn't go there. My purchases included some lovely white gauze skirts and shirts. And lots and lots of vanilla. So smooth, such delicate flavor, and colorless. Delicious!

Count the ships. This is good for business.
Photo by Chris. All rights reserved.
There were lots of cruise ships in port, which was a surprise to me. I don't know why I was surprised, except that I didn't really know what to expect. Everything is surprising and delightful to me at this point. I love new experiences. Especially if they're good ones.

On board, there's food and more food. And the buffet is always open, except between 5 and 6 in the morning. There are dance lessons, contests, games, activities galore. Off the ships, there's snorkeling and diving and exploring and shopping and hanging out. The atmosphere is relaxed and happy and cheerful. Except for those who are used to working 12 and 16 hours a day and find that their cell phones, miracle of miracles, work way out here! Turn the thing off, already. And stop checking your messages. Notice, not naming any names in my attempt to protect the innocent.

It was clouding up as we sailed away.
Beautiful shades of gray.
Photo by Chris. All rights reserved.
We opted for anytime dining, which means you can eat at the buffet or you can go to a number of different dining rooms to eat dinner whenever you want within the hours of operation. So, you don't have to worry about missing your assigned seating time. Very easy and wonderful. And we never had to wait more than 10 or 15 minutes for a table. The wait staff? Awesome. Attentive. Obliging.

The modest daily tip amount is added to your tab automatically and is split up among all the folks who are serving you. So, you'd think their attitude would be more along the lines of, “Hey, whaddya want?” But, no. You're free to leave them an additional tip towards the end of the cruise, and they work very hard to make sure you're going to want to do that. The service is superb.

I love sunsets. Don't you?
Photo by Chris. All rights reserved.
In the evening, there's entertainment in the theater. There's a casino, if you like that kind of thing. There are various lounges with live music of different sorts for every taste. There's dancing. There's so much going on all the time, it's hard to decide what to do, and you can't possibly do everything. So, you might as well put on your bathing suit and go soak in the hot tub. Or get a massage. Or whatever you want to do. You're on v-a-c-a-t-i-o-n, and you don't have to worry about a thing.

When you go to bed at night, your room steward has turned down your bed and placed a chocolate on your pillow, and the itinerary for the next day has been placed in your room so you can decide what to do next. When you wake up in the morning, you'll be at a new destination, or sailing up to one. When you return to your room after breakfast to freshen up for your day, your bed will already have been made, fresh toiletries will be available for you, and all will be in readiness. Even if you've only been gone for 15 minutes. I don't know how they do it, but they do it like clockwork. Magnificent. Feeling grateful!

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