Saturday, April 25, 2009

Saturday Morning Coffee 4/25/9

Hello everyone, I think today I will tell you all about my recent cruise experience with Holland America. We originally had other plans for Lindsey's spring break, but decided that since I had never cruised before along with the fact my parents had already booked themselves on this cruise as first-timers it would be a great experience. I am very glad we did because we ended up having a blast.
Our cruise was set to depart on Sunday, March 22 out of Tampa, FL. My nephew Tanner's birthday is the 21st so on Saturday morning we went to his birthday party. Immediately following his party the four of us headed out toward Ocala, FL. The reason we left a day early is mostly because me and my dad are just alike. Being that is was our first cruise and not knowing exactly what to expect or how to get there we felt like it would be a good idea to get pretty close to Tampa the night before. We later found out that you can make the trip to Tampa in 5.5-6hrs which isn't bad at all but it would still require an early wake up call to drive in the day of the cruise. I had booked us into a room at the Holiday Inn and Suites in Ocala based on price and location. I didn't really have a clue about the hotel other than the chain had a good reputation. This ended up being a home run choice. The hotel was the most unique thing I had ever seen. It basically had an atrium all the way to the top floor and was very modernly decorated. The room was very nice and had Temporpedic mattresses! It was located right on the interstate in a very safe location with access to just about any restaurant you could want. All for about $110.00 including taxes.
On Sunday we took our time getting to Tampa, it was only a little over an hour from Ocala, and arrived at the port about 11AM. Boarding didn't start until 12PM so we figured we would just have to mill around the port area and see what we could find. A co-worker of my mother's had told her about an aquarium there and we had that on our minds. When unloading our luggage we were told we could go ahead and check in to our surprise. Being the on top of it, don't want to miss anything guys we are we went upstairs and checked in. Between parking the truck, unloading, and going through the security and check-in process it was already 11:45. That was just enough time to go to the bathroom and get some free refreshments in the terminal. Shortly after 12 we were on the ship exploring!
The name of our ship was ms Veendam. It is a small ship compared to the newer ones that are being built. The Veendam is just over 55,000 tons compared to Royal Caribbean's new ship, the Oasis, coming in at 220,000!! After exploring and checking our cabins out the first order of business, as with all cruises, was the life boat drill. Then it was off to the navigation pool for a sail away party with a band! That night by the time dinner came around we had made it far enough into the gulf to feel the motion. If you have never been on a cruise and your friends that have has told you "oh you don't even know you are moving"...THEY ARE LYING!!! I know what some are thinking, well ya'll felt it because of the size of the ship. Wrong, only after the cruise would all of the people who had told me you couldn't feel it admit that "well maybe you can feel it". I seriously think it is like a secret cruise society lie. The good news is no one got sick at all and you do get use to it as the cruise progresses.
I could give detail after detail of each day of our 5-night cruise but it would take entirely too long. From here out I will hit the highlights. Day 2 of our cruise was at sea and there was plenty to do. Lindsey and daddy primarily hung out by the pool, I played in a poker tournament, and mother played bingo. BTW me and my mother won! Day 3 was a port of call, Georgetown Grand Cayman. We all absolutely loved it there. G.C. is by far the nicest foreign country I have ever visited. If I had the time and money I would go back tomorrow. We did an island tour for an excursion. It was great as well and out tour guide was the best part. He was very friendly and would answer any question you could think of. The next day was another port of call, Cozumel Mexico. Lindsey and I went to a local beach club for lunch and a beach day. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, but I can't say the same for the parents. They decided to go to lunch and shop in town. Their lunch they did enjoy but the shopping had my dad about to loose it. If any of my readers know my dad you know exactly what I am talking about. I think as soon as they started shopping a local was screaming at them to come in his store and then kind of grabbed my dad's arm to pull him in....thank you God for not having to bail him out of Mexican prison! That pretty much ended their day in Cozumel and they went back to the ship. The final day was spent at sea and we all primarily relaxed. I did enter another poker tournament that day to defend my title unsuccessfully, I placed 4th. On the final morning we debarked the ship around 8:45AM and was headed home.
I feel like this post doesn't do justice to the cruise and what a great time we had. We went to the live shows every night and loved them along with a lot more entertainment. You can eat all day if you are a mind to and the activities are pretty much non-stop. All in all I would give my first cruise experience a two thumbs up. I highly recommend everyone try cruising just once, then you will be hooked.

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