Caribbean Cruise 2010

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And we are off! First stop, a Marriott hotel in Buffalo the night before an early flight. It was late getting in, around 1am. Busy at the border. REALLY nice hotel. Took the shuttle to the airport. Reading the newspaper at the airport, before getting on the Jetblue flight to Orlando. It was as warm in Buffalo as it was in Orlando (26C!). But Buffalo doesn't have this kind of beach. After getting to Orlando and picking up the rental car, headed straight to Daytona Beach. Had a hotel right on the beach, so headed right out to the water after dropping our bags.
At the south end of Daytona Beach. Don't mind the pasty white guy. The beach was MASSIVE. We walked a good 3-4 km to get to the main beach boardwalk area. Great walking sand, fairly hardpacked and very wide. You can even drive along the beach! At the main boardwalk area, found some very delicious ice cream.
Looking out on the beach. For a Good Friday, it wasn't half as busy as I thought it would be. Found a nearby food place, and had a really good, cheap food. $6 for a *pitcher* of beer. And it was Yuengling, so a pretty good beer, one that I had discovered and rather enjoyed in Tampa (they have a brewery there). After getting a little tipsy on beer, started wandering back to the hotel and found an awesome minigolf.
Waterfalls, lots of elevation, this course was great. Showing off my extensive golf skills, I proceeded to get embarrassed badly by Hung. Still, great course. The next day, driving to Port Canaveral.
Finally, on the ship! First thing we do, go and find food. Per Hung's suggestion, we keep heading towards the back of the buffet (big line at the front area). We come across the pasta bar, which is up a flight of stairs, and it is empty. We try it out, awesome food to start. The food quality only got better. Hung enjoying the first of many desserts had on the trip.
After finishing dessert, hit the deck chairs at the very back of the ship for a bit of sun before finding our room. Exploring a bit of the ship, we are pretty high up here, deck 11 or 12. Looking down at the pool at the back end of the ship.
That would be me, sitting in funny looking chairs. Now to the Lido deck main pool. Pretty small actually. The giant screen was pretty cool though, they showed movies on it every night. The Disney Magic was also in port with us. We easily dwarfed it, I believe we were 1.5x the size, if not double.
Now, to find our room. Down to deck 2! Hung showing off the room. Wasn't much more than a bed. And shower and small closets. But, we weren't here to be in the room, we were here for everything else!
Before we could sail, they had people go to different areas of the ship for the safety briefing. This is one of the main dining rooms, which as you can tell, is pretty darn fancy. And we are off! Leaving port. Lots of little boats scatter as we leave through a small canal.
Looking back at the canal as we leave the US for 7 days! Up in the adults only quiet area, they had some pretty comfortable seats. Minigolf! Didn't actually get around to playing. I think I was avoiding further embarassment.
Finally, the sun setting as we head south around the Florida panhandle.
Goodbye sun! The wake of the ship. Calm night the first night. Some elevators in the main atrium, looking down from Deck 12.
The first night, they had a general introduction show, to get everyone to know the entertainment crew, along with making fun of some of the other people cruising. Fun stuff. Day 2! The main pool, now very crowded. Found the ice cream machine. Returned often.
They made an ice carving as people watched. It was supposed to be a bunny. The hairy chest contest winner. Was very entertaining. After all that excitement, found some open chairs all the way down on deck 5 at the back of the ship. I promptly passed out. Didn't even know this picture was taken. Not creepy at all Hung!
H: It's my Titanic picture!
C: Wasn't that at the front of the ship?
H: Just take the picture! It was the first 'elegant' night, so both Hung and I dressed up a bit. We were still very underdressed compared to many, who were wearing tuxedos, fancy dress suits, elegant gowns, and beatiful dresses. The only proof that we were actually on the same cruise.
They cleaned the room twice a day, once around mid-day, another time in the evening while you were at dinner. Outstanding service! And they often left towel animals. The main theatre. HUGE theatre, and spectacular shows were put on here. Vegas style, live singing and dancing. Lots of great entertainment. No pictures of any of it though. After the show, we hit the comedy club. Another big place, it got packed quickly. Hilarious.
1st stop, Cozumel! Grabbed a cab and went to a place called 'Paradise Beach'. It was beautiful. Hung snorkelling. It was pretty good right from shore. I went out a bit later, saw lots of cool looking fish, but the highlight was definitely the sting ray I saw! The beach was very quiet. We were the only ship in Cozumel for the day, which is normally one of the busiest spots (3-5 ships is apparently normal), but it made the beaches pretty peaceful!
A view from shore. Hung splashing around in the water. Enjoying the very comfy hammock!
The view of the beach from the hammock. And heading back to the ship after a great day at the beach. As you can see, it's a BIG ship. 4600 passengers, 1400 crew/staff. A floating city. Me and the Carnival Dream.
Hung with the Carnival Dream. Leaving dock in Cozumel. Gorgeous blue water. The front of the ship as we head away from Mexico.
That night, having seen both comics the night before, a not so friendly game of chess. I came out victorious, but it was a long, hard fought game. Woke up the next morning to the island of Roatan, Honduras.
This was a brand new port, created by Carnival specifically for their cruise ships. An absolutely gorgeous, huge beach was just 5 minutes of walking from the boat. Looking back at the ships. The Crown Princess is parked in front of us.
Me enjoying my book 'In a Sunburnt Country', about a guy travelling around Australia. Great, entertaining read. After a great day at the beach, heading back to the boats. The sun setting over Roatan. Unfortunately, we would also see the sun rise over Roatan. There were high winds just outside the port that prevented us from leaving for about 12 hours. Sadly, that also meant we missed Belize, which was a big stop for us as I had booked an excursion to snorkel the reef there. The extra day on the ship was fun, but I was really looking forward to the snorkelling.
That night, they had a laser show on the Lido deck. Set to the music of Pink Floyd and Rush. It was pretty good. I'm also pretty sure my eye sight is a bit worse now. We were right at eye level for the laser show. Cool, but absolutely blinding.
At the dinners (which were awesome eats), they sometimes would break out into dance. It was pretty entertaining. Bingo! I didn't come remotely close to winning. Some pretty decent prizes (up to $5000 on the last day).
After the extra day at sea that was supposed to be our day at Belize, there was a big deck party. Singing, dancing, beads ala Mardi Gras. Lots of people! Because we had some extra time due to not stopping in Belize, the captain decided to take the scenic route on the way to Costa Maya.
Got up early for Costa Maya, where we arrived under the cover of darkness. Where as the other dockings were done at 10am ship time (8 and 9am local times), we arrived at Costa Maya at 7am ship time (6am local time). Off to Chacchoben! Hung and I joined a small tour group (separate from the cruise) and took an hour ride to the Mayan Ruins of Chacchoben. Not the largest ruins, and they are still being unearthed. Hung at the base of one of the three pyramids.
These ruins were figured to be built around 700AD, with the Mayans having been there already for almost 900 years (200BC settlement). The significance of the area isn't really known, it's assumed to be a religious area. The full profile shot of the first pyramid. Not tiny structures still.
A fairly important type of tree. I can't recall the significance. The other side of the first pyramid. The first pyramid openned up onto a main area thought to be a plaza or gathering spot.
One final shot of the first pyramid. The second, and most important pyramid, it was on a huge manmade hill. This is a dead-flat area otherwise, so the Mayans built a fairly sizable hill to put this structure on the top. The third pyramid, off to the side of the 2nd pyramid.
Me and the third pyramid. The trees were pretty cool. The area often goes from drought to torrential rains quickly, so the root systems were pretty interesting looking. After leaving the ruins, we got back on the tour van and headed to Laguna Azul. We had an excellent mexican lunch, several very large and very strong margaritas (and a few beers for me), and then headed out on the open water.
Off for kayaking/canoeing! Funny, I didn't notice the boat rocking much, but walking down to the pier was a little harder...(those margaritas were STRONG). Yet another gorgeous day. Looking out from the front of the boat, nothing but peace and quiet! Had the whole Lagoon pretty much to ourselves (the 8 people on the tour).
Not saying I did all of the work to move and steer the kayak...just most of the work. Laguna Azul is part of a huge lake system known as the Lake of Seven Colors (Laguna Bacalar). They weren't kidding. The sand actually changes colour (as seen in the picture) as you go to different areas. It's not deep at all, it's maybe 4 feet deep here, and this was after paddling for 10-15 minutes. Back on shore, I wasn't tired at all...
Looking back out on the Lagoon. And one final shot. This was a really great place. Quiet, gorgeous, great food, drinks, good company (the people on our tour were all great). Couldn't ask for much better a final day excursion! Leaving port, there were still 2 other ships docked.
One final look at Mexico as we hit the open waters. Last day on the ship, mostly just relaxed and decided what to do for the next day. That night, our final one on the ship, was another big dance party and farewell celebration. All in all, the cruise was outstanding! Favourite part? The food. Oh so good.
Early Saturday morning we left the Carnival Dream behind, got a new rental car, and headed straight for Kennedy Space Centre. The first spot visited was their rocket garden, showing off different rockets used. Far and away the largest rocket (not even remotely close in size, there's a comparison later) was the Saturn V, the class of rocket that sent men to the moon.
The front end of the Saturn V. A mockup of an Apollo capsule. The accessway used as astronauts board their capsule.
Looking back at all most of the rockets. Heading inside one of the many buildings. Comparing all of the different types of rockets used by NASA, with the impressive Saturn V on the end.
After walking around for a bit, started the main part of Kennedy Space Center visit, a 3 hour tour of 3 spots. The first was to a viewing platform where you can see the two main launch pads, 39A and 39B. These are used for space shuttle launches, though only 39A is still operational (pictured here). There are numerous other launch pads in the area for different purposes such as launching satellites or research probes. While we didn't get to see the inside (no public access!), we did drive by the VAB, the Vehicle Assembly Building. It's where the shuttle is attached to the rocket boosters. Next stop was the main one for the tour. It was a building dedicated to the Saturn V launches and the Apollo program. Truly impressive videos, this went through what the control center is like during a Saturn V launch. All of the small displays on the consoles, lights, and everything functioned as if during a real launch.
Finally, the main part of the display, a Saturn V rocket up close, with it's different stages separated out. An actual rocket, much of it was to be used on Apollo 19 before the mission was cancelled. It has been restored to Apollo 11 specifications however, the first mission to the moon. Looking back at the length of the Saturn V rocket.
One of the actual Apollo command modules. One final presentation. All in all, the presentations and displays here were some of the best I've seen. The third and final stop of the tour, the International Space Station building. This is the clean room where work on components for the ISS are prepared.
A mockup of several of ISS modules. Also, that's a model of MIR in the foreground if I recall. The Canadarm2! The modules were fairly sizable.
Finally, got a quick peak inside a space shuttle, then it was off to Orlando. To Disneyworld! Visited Epcot for the remainder of the day. First things first, food! It was nearing 5pm and we hadn't eaten since breakfast. Visited Morocco.
The food was excellent and not small at all! Got to visit Japan for a bit. Looking across the lake, this was the only time that the sun disappeared for the entire trip and clouds took over. The rain held off thankfully, and was still very warm outside.
An impressive acrobatic demonstration in China. That table was tossed, twirled, tumbled, all by someone that might have been 12, at most. Back to Mexico! There's nothing on earth like a genuine, bona fide, electrified, six-car monorail!
Finally, the night ended with a big fireworks and pyrotechnics display. And a little globe. Not surprisingly, Disney put on a pretty darn great fireworks display.
All in all, a great 10 days of vacation.  
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Description: Went on a week long cruise on the Carnival Dream with my friend Hung in April, 2010. We visited Roatan, Honduras, and Cozumel and Costa Maya in Mexico. Fantastic cruise and awesome weather!
Location: Florida, Mexico and Honduras

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