Friday, July 24, 2009

Homeward Bound

After our last stop in Calica, the ship was headed back towards "God's Country"....Alabama. The only thing between us and our home port was about 36 hours at sea! I think we all agreed we had A LOT of fun over the last 4 days, but we were ready to get back home.

Friday was another "Fun Day at Sea". We took the opportunity to sleep in and planned to just enjoy our last full day on the ship. The only two things we didn't want to miss on board was the "galley tour" and the the "how to make towel animals" class.

Check out some cool sights from our galley (kitchen) tour:

Making crab cakes for dinner.

He carved this from a watermelon!

I just loved this guy's enthusiasm.

The kids went back to Camp Carnival for a couple hours for some last minute fun, which included a short class on how to make the towel animals we enjoyed each night. I think they did pretty well for their first creation:

Lego-Man's Elephant

The Pirate Princess' Elephant

We even got suckered into buying a how-to book so we can impress our guests at home!

We had our final dinner with our awesome waiter, Francisco. He took great care of us all week and the kids really loved him. So, we had to take his photo:

And for the final towel animal of the week....certainly the best was saved for last:


Meet our talented room steward, Ricky. I wish we could have brought him home with us!

Thanks for sharing our awesome cruise vacation with us. We had a terrific time. Come back this weekend for a post-cruise wrap up!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Flippers and Fishies

Thursday morning we found ourselves in the port of Calica, Mexico. From what I understand this is a new port that is trying to establish itself with the cruise lines. Other than the local shore excursions, many people took cabs to the nearby city of Playa del Carmen, which has more to offer.

Our shore excursion in Calica was a morning of snorkeling! We boarded the bus and were ready for our adventure!

After a 20 minute ride, we got off the bus at this BEAUTIFUL beach:

We had a quick lesson in snorkeling before we got our gear on and entered the water. Check out the Princess and Lego-Man.

I'll pay for this one, but here is the hubby getting his snorkel groove on:

While I am at it, I might as well roll my snorkeling self under the bus too:

We spent the better part of an hour in the water, which was a bit choppy if you ask me. The hubby ended up with the Princess and I wound up with the boy, whose name should probably be changed to Aqua-Man after this excursion. I could barely keep up with him!

Here are a few of the photos of some underwater sights:

Before heading back to the ship, we spent a little time enjoying the beach:

Care to guess what the Princess' favorite thing was in Calica?!

Yep, you guessed it....she LOVED the iguana's!! They appeared out of the rocks like magic when a local man tossed some DOG FOOD out onto this boat landing. I believe the word "pet iguana" was used on a sign nearby. The Princess actually asked her crazy germophobic mother if she could touch one?! And, no, I didn't let her.

After all the snorkeling and iguana fun one family could stand, we headed back to our ship.

We left Calica and got the ship headed back in the direction of Alabama:

Somebody was worn slap out by dinner time:

And tonight's towel tell me?!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Land's Mexico!

Early Wednesday morning, Lego-Man and I were awake before the other two. So we headed up to the front deck to see how close we were to land.


Cozumel, Mexico was in our sights! We were excited. Not only because we finally reached our destination but because we had a day of F-U-N planned!

The shore excursion we signed up for was something called the "Isla Pasion by Twister!"
Raise your hand if that sounds like a lot of fun?!

The ship finally finished docking around 8AM and we had to be at our designated area by 8:45AM. We were off the ship with plenty of time to spare before our "Twister" adventure began.

We looked around the shops for a few minutes and we were ready for the Twister. Or so we thought!

Meet the Twister boat and our drivers, Pepe and Willie:

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, those are straps on each chair....for harnessing each body down!
And as coincidence had it, the entire GRITS family ended up in the front two benches of the boat.

Join us on the Twister, if you dare:

Our ride to Isla Pasion was about 25 minutes from the dock. And let me tell you, we got our money's worth of fun on this excursion. Between the high speed boat ride and the 360-degree turns, the kids will be talking about this for a LONG time.

Here's a look at some of our other pictures from the day:

And, as you have learned, no post would be complete without the towel animal of the day:

A Bulldog!

See you tomorrow, with snorkeling in Calica, Mexico!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Fun Day at Sea

Tuesday, we spent the ENTIRE day at sea. No land in site at all, just this:

the beautiful blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico!

We started our day off with a delicious breakfast in one of the ships dining rooms, instead of the breakfast buffet on the Lido Deck. Why you may ask? Because you can't get Eggs Benedict on the Lido Deck. We also found out that the sit down meal is quicker than the buffet line.

So what do you do all day when you spend the entire day at sea?! First you study your "Carnival Capers. Your daily guide to FUN." There is something for everybody going on ALL the time. Bingo, trivia games, ice carvings, hairy chest competitions, and kids activities at Camp Carnival.

And NO we did not witness or partake in the hairy chest competition! However, we did see the video play back in our cabin. *shivers*

We spent a couple hours out by the pool. Me soaking up the suns rays and the hubby reading a book in the shade. All while both kids played in the pool and on the big slide:

Here's where my point of peak irritation surfaced. When we got to the pool deck to find a spot to settle down, I noticed a whole lot of lounge chairs with magazines and towels on them, but no person in sight.

It took me a second to figure out that these selfish people had saved themselves chairs all while they were probably eating breakfast or sleeping in!! Of course, the "Fun Capers" clearly mentions this under the header "Lido Deck Etiquette". So not everybody on a cruise ship can read....or more likely, could care less. *stepping off soap box*

But look at all the fun the kids had in the pool:

After lunch, the kids decided to spend a couple of hours at Camp Carnival and the grown ups found a nice shady spot on the deck to do a little reading. Ok, I'll admit it, I just looked at the pictures in my magazines, but it was still relaxing!

Before our "formal" dinner, we attended the Captain's Welcome Reception. We were introduced to the ship's entire crew.

We decided "formal" for our family would be Sunday dress. There was a WIDE variety of "formal" wear, including a few in tuxedos and formal wear.

Dinner was a huge success for everyone when we found lobster on the menu. That is the one thing Lego-Man hoped he would have at least once.

We dress them up AND take them out:

And, of course, no day at sea would be complete without our towel animal for the day:

A pig (we think).

Tomorrow will be our day in Cozumel, Mexico! Stay tuned....

Monday, July 20, 2009

Bon Voyage

**Reminder: This weeks posts will be a daily review of our family's 5-day cruise vacation**

After the kids realized we were going on a cruise for the week, they were literally bouncing off the walls with joy.

It took us about an hour from the time we entered the parking deck until we boarded the ship. The ship was set to sail at 4:00PM, so we had a few hours of free time.

Once we located our room, we used our free time wisely by finding our way to the lunch buffet on the Lido deck. If you've never been on a cruise, there is food available somewhere for 24 hours a day. Literally!

We wandered around the ship right up until time to sail. And the very first thing we HAD to do was to participate in a safety drill with our life vests. The drill lasted about 20 minutes, thankfully, because Lego-Man's life vest was too small and he about had a meltdown wearing it!

Coincidentally, as we left the port it was POURING down rain. But we didn't let that put a damper on the beginning of our vacation. We went straight outside and took pictures, until the lightening started! And a couple of hours later, we witnessed the most beautiful sunset as we moved out into the Gulf of Mexico!

We had the late dinner seating which was at 8:15PM!! I wasn't sure how the kids would hold up until then, much less myself! But we made it. And it was always worth the wait, the menus were delicious. So many good things to choose from....appetizers, main courses, and desserts.

As we got back to our room, our room steward, Ricky, had provided us with "turn down" service complete with chocolate and a towel animal creation. This would become the highlight of every night, as you will see. The kids could not wait to see what animal was waiting for us each night!

Here are the photo highlights of our first day on board:

Stay tuned for Tuesday's "Fun Day at Sea"

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Surprisology 101

As you may remember, we are all about a surprise here at the GRITS household. And we've pulled off another one this past week.

About 3 weeks before our semi-planned beach vacation, we realized it just wasn't going to work out. We were going to have to switch to Plan B....which did not exist! The hubby found a great deal for a 5 day cruise which just happened to coincide with our vacation week.

We jumped on the opportunity and decided to keep it a secret from the kids. The secret would not be revealed until we pulled up to the cruise terminal. After all, packing clothes for a cruise is just like packing for the beach.

Of course, we got the usual questions from the kids, "when are we going to the beach?" and "are we staying in the same place as last year?" We kept our answers short and sweet, "we are going to the Gulf" and "no, we are not staying in the same place."

They fell for it.... hook, line, and sinker!

I had the camera rolling when we pulled up in the cruise terminal. It is priceless:

It took them a few minutes to figure out exactly what was going on...and I wasn't sure the Princess was going to catch on for all the outside distractions, i.e. the german shepherd and a limo when we first pulled in.

I will post on each day of the cruise this week because it's too much to share in one post. So y'all come back now ya' hear?!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Birthday Surprise

For almost two months, we have been keeping a secret from the Princess! It was all in the name of a good old fashioned birthday surprise.

Her reaction was well worth the wait....don't you think?!

And I love the part where her friend says, "I think I know what it might be money." To which the Princess answers, "why would it be money??"

Now the countdown starts until August 16th, when my reign as Mother of the Year will begin.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Insanity Rules!

July 2nd was the Princess' 8th birthday! And we celebrated in style.

The theme of the day was : "Spend the night madness....where junk food and insanity rules!" I'm thinking I should have made up t-shirts as parting gifts.

For a little less than 24 hours, we had two extra 8 year old girls and one extra 10 year old boy. There were girls chasing boys and boys chasing girls. There were nekkid Barbies stuck in the basketball net and plastic spiders hidden under pillows. Oh, and I can't leave out the remote controlled whoopie cushion....every home should have one.

But most of all, we had a lot of fun!