30 December 2009


Love may be a word that some say is overused, but I am not sure I believe in that thinking when applied to me. There are many different types of love (or at least I believe). There is that love that you have a time and then get over (like a teenage crush) and then there is that love that consumes you at first and grows into something deep and keeps changing over time (like the love you have for your spouse). Love makes me happy and being happy is well GRAND right? Tonight when I had trouble sleeping I thought, "you are very happy what are the things you love?" Really I was measuring if it was things or THINGS, you know? Here is what I came up with and again it is in ABC order because I find that is the best way to rest when you are not sleeping and sometimes if you are lucky, you can fall asleep.

A-art...I can find art in almost anything...I love paintings the most...The Swing by Fragonard, The Scream by Edward Munch, Stary Night by Van Gogh, and the persistence of memory by dali

B-Books---books are fascinating! A book can take you anywhere, can make you be anything, can be terrible, or even intriguing. I am lucky that I can speed read (not like JFK, but I have a good track record)...I ready between 100 (my worst year) and 300 (my best year) books a year, not counting kids books! I will read just about anything and if I really love it I will read it over and over and over. Since 1993, I have read Gone with the Wind 37 times, my favorite book of all time. Since I started my reading log in 1996, I have read Song of the Siren 12 times (my second favorite book). This year alone I have read all the Twilight books 5 times each!

C-Cruise ships- even if I am not on them, I love to study them. It started with a love of the titanic when I was a child and has grown to my new obsession the Norwegian Epic. I like to look at the deck plans, study them, and maybe dream, even about ships I have never and will never sail. I believe I could draw the titanic from memory.

D-Dali..one of my favorite artists

E-eye sight...I love the gift of sight! I would rather lose all other senses and keep that one if I had to...you can't read with it, can't look at paintings, or enjoy a majestic mountain or even a Caribbean sea. I love my eyes!

F-Faith...it's the part that makes you who you are. Your believe in God and His awesome powers. The path He has steered in on is the most different than anything I had ever envisioned for my life. John was in the plans, but other than that, child care was never in the mix. I planned on doing something in art for my living, or maybe training for Cracker Barrel. However, He knew what best

G-gemstones...I don't have to own them (even though I like too), I just want to look at them. I love to look at the blue topaz, the tanzanite, tourmaline, opal, citrine, amethyst, ruby, emerald...I love them all!!!

H-Hannah...my first born...taller than I am daughter. Creative, goofy, with legs a mile and a half long. I love her so much!

I-Inside Passage...a place I never dreamed I would go to and when I did I sat in a chair for over 12 hours no bathroom and had my food delivered to me, because I was mesmerized by the beauty of it all. I have seen many lovely things in my time and questioned "how can people see _____and not believe in God?" but oh my, words cannot describe the time that I spent in the inside passage, especially Glacier Bay. I have never in my life been more inspired, more awed, and of course cold. I am grateful for every moment spent in that National Park.

J-John...my wonderful husband, whom I love dearly. Even when I am angry with him, I love him. My love for him grows as we age...we develop our own interests and get deeper with the ones that we have in common. He makes life's journey more fun I am sure. He is goofy, serious, sport fanatic, and a good dad. As he ages (and maybe the kids too), I see him doing more with the kids...like fixing Trevor's tv dinners when I am too tired to move. Or coaching Trevor on the football field in our yard, or bowling with Hannah on the wii...Those moments are etched in my brain. I only wish the kids would remember them as well as I do. He loves to travel and that is wonderful because I get to tag along on his adventures. Lucky for me, he likes the cruise ships too! He is my everything.

K-Kodak...my favorite most friendly user face camera. Honestly, on Kodak.com they are very affordable too. I have owned about 10 kodaks, and 1 nikon...and guess what my next camera will be? Yep, Kodak. They have a wonderful product.

L-Laughter...do I have to explain why I love laughter? REALLY? REALLY?

M-Mountains....since I was a small child traveling to Colorado or the Smokeys with my parents I have loved mountains. I will admit the rocky type makes me happier than the tree covered part, at least until I went to the Caribbean and saw those tree topped mountains...still the rocky type is the best. I love the tropical ones, and the ones in Alaska that start at sea level and jut immediately to 6,000 feet, and those fun mountains in New Mexico, Colorado, and what not, and I do have some favorites. At 14,110 feet Pikes Peak is a majesty. I love every inch of her. Every time I get to Colorado, I have to get up her in some way, by train or car....I MUST go to the Summit. I love the Summit...you can see the Continental divide, Cripple Creek, Denver...you can see why and where America the Beautiful was written, you can see wagon tracks that were made during the gold rush! Vegetation grows so slowly they are STILL there today! I have to eat a mile high donut, and drink lots of water, and if I am lucky I will get attitude sickness! (really that part is not fun) I love the Peak, but my all time favorite mountain is Mount St Helens. It is one of those strange quirks that I have. I LOVE love love volcanoes. I remember the first time that I ever heard of or saw MSH....May 18, 1980 from then I wanted to know about her, wanted to watch the movie, see the pictures, I remember asking my dad about the ash reaching our house in KY. I have studied volcanoes a lot and am fascinated about craters and how they grow and how fast the glacial ice builds, and lava domes! I will continue to study MSH, maybe you should ask me about Harry Truman and see what I know.

N-nighttime...cause I love to sleep.

O- I remember the first time I went to the ocean, November 23, 1991! I guess I went to Daytona as a child, but I don't remember it at all. What I remember is driving to Jacksonville Beach by myself just to see the ocean. I was in Jacksonville for Cracker Barrel, and thrilled that I was actually going to see the ocean. It was a dirty grayish color, not so pretty, but the waves were wonderful and started a love affair. In 1993, we went on a mini honeymoon to Daytona and stayed right on the beach...this was a little different colored water, it had a tad more green in it ...and then when I went on my first cruise in 1998 and saw the aqua color of the Caribbean...oh my! I have seen ultramarine, a topaz, aqua, and an ocean with a hint of purple too. I love to look at the water! The prettiest was off the coast of Barbados! It was the bluest topaz I have ever seen other than a stone (I have a ring the exact color). It was full of waves, actually there is nothing between you and Africa other than the water you are looking at right there on the Bathsheba beach. The waters are so dangerous it is illegal to swim in them. They are rocky, rough, and so lovely to look at.

P-Paper...I am Michelle and I am a paper junky. I collect solids, plaids, patterns, textured...whatever...the most I have paid for sheet is $4.00, can you believe that? But it was a wonderful piece with metal embedded.

Q-Quick and Brite...the world's most perfect cleaner. I have gotten mustard out of a white tshirt with this stuff. Cleans tennis shoes to a brand new white color, add to laundry for oil stains, clean your floor for a shine, clean floor mats for a like brand new look and gets rid of soap scum. The best stuff...worth every penny

R-rainbows...how could you not love a rainbow? Hello...the colors are wonderful, beautiful and purely inspiring.

S-Scissors...do you know the things I can create with a paper of scissors? I could do without a pencil way easier than without scissors...I have to have them pointy for the detail and prefer 2 or 3 different kinds with different abilities, that is just a little piece of wonderful

T-Trevor my sweet little boy, who stinks, but it very athletic...hates to read (we need to work on that)...what a wonderful child.

U-USA...God Bless the USA...I wish I could have a bigger part in the political system. I would love to run for a local office...just to prove that all are not corrupt and stand up for the average American! We need a Champion too!

V-Volcanoes...As I stated before, I am a tad obsessed with them. Love everything about them.

W-Whales...I know a lot about them...love them and in 2007 I saw my first one in the wild. That was one of the most amazing sights! A real live humpback whale 10 feet from the boat on which I was traveling. His skin was a wet, slick leather look. I wanted to grab onto him. I wish I could have seen his baleen plate, or his fin, that would have made it the most perfect thing. Definetly the best shore excursion that I have ever done. And the most expensive too, but worth every single penny!

X-Xyron...only the best adhesive out there. I have 2 machines a 5" and a 1.5" one for letters and one for small details. They are a little expensive, but when you have a 50% coupon (which is what you wait for) they are 6.00 and 3.00 respectively.

Y-Yellowstone...just a place that I have never been, want to go with, read about and love

Z-Zipper..they amuse me by the way that they work. I have always liked the mechanics of a zipper

19 December 2009

My Christmas Newsletter

This year, I did not have time to mail a letter to you all, so you get the new HIGH TECH version. If you do not like it simply hit delete!

This year brought lots of fun stuff, hang onto your hat and buckle your belt because there is some traveling involved.

The first of the year brought a wonderful sea of ice! We had more ice than I ever want to see again. ICE ICE BABY!!! No power for over 2 weeks (some of our area was out for over a month). We stayed in hotels and with a very generous friend. I even traveled south for a bit with the kids because it was HORRIBLE!

Trevor turned 7 in April...he took one of his best buddies, Nathan to a St Louis ballgame. It was SOOOOO cold! Nathan's mom and dad, and sisters went to St Louis with us and we made a family trip of it all. Red Robin (on Good Friday), Archivers, the zoo, and a game! We had a lot of fun even though it was cold.

John bought us tickets for the next days game too and it was soooo much warmer. We walked from our hotel down to Union Station, and just around downtown in general. Albert hit a Grand Slam and Trevor's name and birthday was on the birthday tron.

Hannah turned 12 at the end of April and let me just say that was not fun! Nope, she is now about 5'6" skinny thing, but very pretty!

Michelle was a great 37 in May and I will not tell you how old John is because he may not want you to know, but it rhymes with mighty fine!

When Trevor's ball season began, I took over his guitar lessons. I had always wanted to play the guitar and Herb Chapman (Stephen Curtis's dad) was the teacher, so how could you not turn that down? I am still taking them, but Taylor is my teacher now. I have learned so much and can play quite a few songs, maybe not play them beautifully but I can play them.

In June, we did Disney like we had never done before...stayed at a Resort, used (gasp) PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION, and spent just a TON of money. You can go on a cruise WAY cheaper than going to Disney World...WAY CHEAPER! I loved the resort, loved the parks (me especially), and the food was WONDERFUL!!! I ate at Sunshine Seasons 3 times! I love the salads! And John and Trevor skipped a day in the parks and headed to Miami to see the Cards play the Marlins. They both had a wonderful day.

The rest of the summer was full of sports! Trevor is very involved in baseball...very very involved. He had a rough season starting out because he was having issues with his therapy! The therapy was NOT good for a boy that is a power hitter. When we changed the therapy, he started hitting like the hitter we know he is! He did have an injury this year...he was smacked in the head with a baseball that a kid had HIT, not thrown. The ball hit is eye and we had to go to the doctor. Of course, he had to be his "good" eye, but the doctor said luckily the ball hit his eyebrow not the eye socket. It was black less than a week, we put Granny's arnica on it and it healed quickly.

Hannah began 7th grade in August and Trevor 2nd. Hannah was still involved in band, 2nd chair on the flute and Trevor began FOOTBALL! I was not ready for that, but he loved it. He was a quarterback! The funny thing is there was a girl on the other team and the two of them were always trying to tackle each other. She is a cutie, and she could out run him too.

This was Hannah's time to get interested in fashion...very much so...so loves to put together an outfit and get all dolled up and much to my dismay she LOVES to shop. I hate it and hate to spend money so she does not get to do it very often. She began painting on canvases a little bit too.

I went to my first scrapbooking convention with Jennifer in Sept. We stayed 3 days in a hotel and scrapbooked like crazy! I want to do this again!!!

For fall break we took the kids to the Smokies...We stayed at 3 very nice places...the first one was Comfort Suites...brand new!!! The second was an indoor water park, Wilderness at the Smokies, and the third was a quaint place in Gatlinburg. Our intentions were to go over the mountains, into the National Park and take the kids to Cherokee North Carolina. Well, we began the trek and the road was closed due to ice and snow! FUN TIMES! We spent a while at Sugar-lands visitor center hoping for a thaw, but gave up and went shopping.

In the beginning of December, John and I took a cruise to Mexico. It was so wonderful! I love Mexico! Of course I love the vanilla. Progresso was very nice, warm, and pretty. We took an excursion out on our own and went to the Mayan ruins and to Medira, the capital of the Yucatan peninsula. I enjoyed Progresso very much. In Cozumel, we went into San Miguel did a bunch of shopping, hung out on the public beach (even got LARGE shells), and bought me a new engagement ring (I had lost my diamond out of my other one at work...and this time I wanted a white gold one). We even spent a large amount of time in Mega Market...got some blue plax (we love this stuff and cannot find it ANYWHERE), some herbal mint toothpaste (again, we cannot find it anywhere), some candy, and popcorn. We then headed back to the pier to look for some more goodies and purchase that all important VANILLA! I did get tons of vanilla! We met some great folks on the boat and we liked every single one of them. I have to write them some emails and maybe meet them again on another cruise. Another cruise? Yep, I am all ready looking for next years trip!

It has been a wonderful year....Trevor's therapy seems to be going well. We have gotten to stop Atropine drops and patches for the time being. We have gone him 2 pairs of RX specs and one pair of glasses (soon to be another pair) because we are currently going back and forth on the scripts. Hannah is still super skinny, tall, and beautiful. Her room is still messy and she doesn't read as much as she used to. I blame that on the school setting her a high goal, too high of levels of books, and pushing her too hard. So therefore, she does not enjoy it anymore :(

John was very sad Mayfield did not win the championship game this year, but he did see lots of good games. He saw the Cards 5 or 6 times, every Mayfield football game but one (the championship game...he was on a cruise but listened to the whole game), he even started watching some Lone Oak games because Trevor really likes them. He and Trevor have set up a football field and a baseball area in the backyard because they are out there alot just playing ball.

I am smiling because I have such a wonderful family. I am very blessed and grateful to have each and every one of them (except maybe the cat...I might get rid of her).

16 December 2009

last day...day 5

Day 5

Day at sea and the last full day aboard the Fantasy. My last breakfast would be an omelet with hashbrowns. After breakfast, we headed up to the Lido deck, so that John could catch some sun. There had been no days with rain and today proved to be just so rain free. He stayed up on deck most of the day while I shopped a little (a lot) and took tons of photos of the ship...this was the last tine that we would sail the Fantasy...she has been sold and will be replaced in May with the Elation.

Late in the afternoon, I attended a scrapbooking class. I have attended others on both Carnival and Norwegian, and Louis tried hard to do a good job. He was not equipped with a cutter, straight edge scissors, or enough papers. He was given glitter, glue, and pop dots. He also was given scrapbook kits to sale us...lots of girls did. Louis was prepared for 3 girls, but 20 girls showed up. We sort of schooled Louis...but it was fun. I had met Brooke the night before and she was there helping a new scrapbooker with her craft. This was a very fun hour...wasn't a ton of work done. I completed two pages and that was it. One lady got 4 done, and I thought I was fast!

I also met a girl worked in the 10 dollar store, Sumie. She was reading New Moon for the first time. It was so cool to talk to someone about the saga. Thing was she had not seen the movies and not read eclipse or breaking dawn. I loved talking to Sumie...we exchanged email addys...I hope to find out what she thought of it.

For dinner I had mahi mahi again, and a coffee pie. John had chicken again and baked Alaska for dessert. It was very sad saying goodbye to our table mates. We have had only one other couple that we met on a ship that we liked this much. At that time, it was just June and Jay...this time we had, Kathy and Tim, Amy and Jim, Jane, Rueben and their son John and we met Dora and Wayne as well. Everybody was so nice, and we all just gelled. I am telling you in the past we have had some crazies, some real crazies...carnival you did a good job matching everyone.

After dinner, Amy, Jim and I headed to see 'ticket to ride'. It was a show with the Carnival entertainment staff paying tribute to the Beatles. The arrangements were at times different than the Beatles had done, but that is a wonderful thing. They did 'in my life' with belly dancing, yeah you can see that, Because as a ballet, Rain with Spanish dancers, Got to get you into my life with a girl singing about her love for the Beatles, Get Back as an instrumental, and Sgt. Pepper reprise and The End as the last two songs. Most of the Abbey Road songs were done, and that is just a little bit of wonderful. The performers gave us glow sticks...to use in place of lighters...and threw confetti at us. The costumes were very much on tap with what the fab four wore as well and they had the songs matched up with the right outfits. All in all, I think it was one of the best shows that I have seen at sea.

It was then time to pack up the stateroom, set out your suitcases (I only do self assist if I have an early flight...I like to be one of the last off the ship), and hit the bed. Those announcements will start very early in the morning.

We got up before 6 because of the commotion outside the room, finished packing and exited the stateroom. We hung out on promenade deck while folks were exiting the ship. It was nice and relaxing until I got ran out of the lounge I was sitting in by cigar smoke...cough cough.

Finally that last call was made and we made our way to deck 7. Here began a nightmare. As bad as embarkation was...debarkation was worse! It took almost 2 hours from here to get inside the parking garage. The luggage was easy to find, but customs was terrible. This was by far the worst embark and debark that I have ever done. I have done self assist, early flights, and last off the ships. Terrible! Never had it take us more than an hour to board and 2 hours to exit! There are many things different that this port did that others do not and vice versa. I would sail from here again because they have to get better, but I will arrive later and still be the last off but I will know that it will take a very long time. I cannot judge the length time it took to enter the garage the first day because this was our second time parking, we usually fly.

All in all, I rate the entire cruise 9 out of 10. I have to take off for sewage smell on E deck, lack of classes, and embarkation\debarkation.

Maybe the classes were not there because it was a 5 day, I am used to 7 or 8 day cruises...but I looked through carnival capers from my shorter cruises and there were classes on them...so I blame the cruise director.

Things to note:
1. First carnival cruise where I did not try to win a trivia trophy or metal...have 4...2 trophies 2 metals

2. No sing alongs

3. Booked our own excursion in Mexico...not gone through ship. We gave done that in other ports but never Mexico

4. We did not go to the Christmas show...first time ever.

5. We only called home once and video called once. The phone call was 1 minute long to tell them to video call.

6. I did not have a salad with every meal...first time ever

7. It did not rain one day or night...first time ever

8. I did not freeze while on the ship.

9. I never saw the room steward...again first time ever that we did not chat or something. Never saw him after the first day.

10. That I had all the BEFORE I got home. I had them done before the TN border.

15 December 2009

day 4

fantasy day 4

Woke up at 6:30am...fun

Pulled into port at 8:30 am...the water here is ultramarine blue where yesterday the water was a aqua color. I love the port of Cozumel...vanilla being the number 1 reason. Our first mission was to go to Los Cinco Soles, get all that vanilla and buy me a ring. I lost the diamond to my engagement ring somewhere at Olivet and have been looking to replace it. I wanted silver, knew my price range and was very flexible on the stone. I just did not want a diamond. Finally found what I was looking for in a mystic topaz. I all ready have earrings and a necklace so this was perfect.

We spent a little time on the beach at the pier, got tons of vanilla, shopped for t shirts...things are cheaper in Progresso, but I got my vanilla in a place where I know its couramin free and tastes good too!

The ship left early, we got ready for dinner...our friends told us that they had missed us the night before.

I had mahi mahi for dinner, John had chicken. For dessert I had amaretto pie...yummy. After watching the weather from Denver I went to sleep.

13 December 2009

Fantasy the ship

One of the smallest ships I have sailed on, but still a big deal. 70,367 tons, 855 feet long, with a 21 knots cruising speed, and total guests 2,344 (crew 920), this ship is just a tad smaller than the Disney Wonder and Magic (holds the same amount of guests).

We first sailed on the Fantasy in December of 1998. I am afraid that I do not have too many photos from this first cruise. I had a film camera, and an infant and it was hard to take photos with a baby on the hip, and expensive too because I had an Advantix camera. Boy that film was high!! I have about 5 scrapbook pages from the whole trip...well, it was a 3 day cruise so maybe that is about right. We sailed from Port Canaveral on In 98' when we sailed the rooms had a orangy/pinkish decor. Very nasty, I thought even then. Today, the cabins have a very modern decor, white duvet, with reds/browns. I enjoyed the color scheme very much. It made me want to rest, and relax, and I hope that was the plan in choosing the palate and layout. There is still a white sign type thing in the corner just like before, put they have modernized the bath and the storage. Now the storage is nowhere near as nice as one of those big liners, but it is livable.

The exterior of the ship is very "old school". New liners have most of the outside cabins with a balcony, and it looks like there might be balconies on only the veranda deck on the Fantasy.

The ship looks tip top from the outside though. I am telling you, this ship was built in 1990, so it was 8 years old the first time I sailed her. Now she is nearing the 20 year mark, but she shines, Carnival has cared for her in the utmost way. I believe that she was one of the first ones that Carnival had designed and built for just them. I will have to check on that fact, but I believe that is right.

Public areas:
From the photos that I have the bars/lounges have not changed at all. The cat's lounge is still full of giant cans and forks and spoons. Cleopatra's is still full of Egyptian things, and the Majestic bar is still leathery and full of cigar smoke!! Cough cough!

The marble staircase is still there in the Grand Atruim but gone are the ropes of neon! Trust me, that is a very good thing. The ship was not decorated for Christmas like it was on December 1, 1998, and that was sad, but she did have a few Christmas decorations.

The photo gallery has been moved from a "wing" off the side of the ship to just off the Grand Atruim. The shops are very crowded as compared to the newer ships. The newer ships realize that folks will spend money and have laid them out like a real mall, but the older ships just crowded stores in where they could.

The restaurants were EXACTLY the same decor...just new furniture. CRAZY huh?

Now the sewage smell was very reminiscent of the Tropicale...that was so terrible. The smell started on E deck (Empress) and went all through the Grand Atrium NASTY! Sometimes you could even smell it outside on the LIdo deck nearest the Atrium. Sewage issues on a ship was not something that I wanted to relive EVER!!!

Other than that bit of nasty junk...the ship looked great, responded great to the water, was in good condition, and not worn out looking. Even the monorail at Disney World had frayed carpet in the cockpit and that ruined the look for me and made me wonder about upkeep. I had no qualms here about the upkeep. The captain even pushed her as fast as her cruising speed could go and there were no issues whatsoever.

My favorite part of the ship was the promenade deck, right outside the Majestic bar and the Casino. The decor was Greek influenced, with chaises lounges and tile topped tables. The sound of the slot machines was cool too, oh and so was the whirl of the coffee machine in the coffee bar. You could sit and look out at the ocean, smell the coffee, and then go into the $10 store to buy something or make a friend. This area is also a hop skip and a jump from the Universal Lounge (where they do the broadway type shows), the photo gallery and the galleria shops. So it was the perfect location for everything that you needed.

What surprised me the most? The fact that you could walk from one end of the ship to the other in no time flat. I am totally not used to that.

What angered me the most? The smoking...I loved the Paradise when she was a non smoking ship. That was a wonderful cruise. Oh course, it would all be fine if the smokers would stick to the port side rule, but they do not.

Biggest question: They moved the omelet station to the pizza station and so you had to wait forever to get an omelet. Why did you do that?

All in all, I had more fun on this time around than I did the first time that I sailed her. She was in great shape, the activities were great (not that I did many), and the itinerary was PERFECT! I really really liked the stops! Even Progresso that I heard was no good was! We saw the ruins, shopped a little and found out that Progresso is where you buy a hammock! Actually, everything was cheaper here, so if you go on this buy your stuff here, just make sure that you watch your vanilla. I saw many vanillas here with coumarin so be wary...this stuff causes cancer. Los Cinco Soles has a better flavor than any that I have ever had. Trust me on this one, I have tried lots! I am a HUGE fan of vanilla. And that is one reason that we go to the Western Caribbean so much, so I can get more vanilla. If vanilla was available like this in the Eastern Caribbean I would not go to the west again. I much prefer the St Thomas, San Juan, St Maarten and Barbados parts of the world.

Just a tidbit: When we docked in port in Cozumel we were "parked" next to the Inspiration. This is a sister ship to the Fantasy...they were so cute docked side by side on the pier. Looking like a couple of twins, very cute twins.

Just some facts:

Our smallest ship---Carnival Tropicale
Port Tampa
Tonnage 36,674
Speed 20 knots
Guests 1,022
Crew 550

Our largest ship---Carnival Victory
port Miami
Tonnage 11,509
Speed 21 knots
Guests 3,467
Crew 1,100

The world's largest ship docks in Port Everglades and holds 6,200 guests! WOW!!!

This one and the Legend were the two that we sailed when they were new. We sailed the Legend when she was less than 6 months old, the Victory less than a year old.

We were the 3rd to the last cruise Carnival did on the Tropicale. It was reduced to scrap metal after that.

12 December 2009

fantasy day 3

antasy day 3
Here we are, you wake up and you are in Mexico. The water was a pale aqua...pelicans flying everywhere overhead, the sound of a container ship nearby and the best part...we are the only ship in port. We eat a bite of eggs, ham, homestyle potatoes and head out. Our mission to book a tour of the ruins. We had bought one on the ship but it was cancelled, so we decided to try on our own. Other mission...vanilla!!! And maybe some stuff for the kids. First off, we found wind chimes...going to buy one for grandpa, got a great gift for my niece, got 3 vanillas, and booked a tour for 1/2 the price I had it for on the ship and it was going to Medira...the ship your was not. The tour took us first to the flea market. They had some lapis jewelry that I liked, but I have a nice piece so I opted not to look too hard. The market was flooded with folks wanting to sell us stuff. Hammocks were the biggest...ten dollars. I saw a guy making one..should be way more than ten dollars. He was working so hard.

Our tour bus was very nice... Very clean. A dude came on the bus singing to us and playing guitar. I could have played just as well as he did. He sang okay, but the playing...aye ya yi.

Our bus began the journey through Progresso. Not much to see except hurricane stoppers made out of concrete blocks. They were so high that in most spots you could not even see the ocean. Once we headed towards the ruins, the countryside was vast, flat, full of rubbish (trash), a waterpark ( that was very large), loads of signs and billboards, and a 90 kilometer an hour speed limit. The vegetation was palms and grasses for the most part. There were not areas of just sand or conditions of dryness, nope it was green all around. It did not take long to get to the ruins, Ivan was our tour guide and was of Mayan decent so he seemed to know alot of the culture, the language, and what everything was without looking. He was also very funny!! He spoke to us of his people in a very honest, informative way. He explained what each ruin was and what its purpose was. Explained what happened to the Myans, why they looked as they did, and about ruins that were destroyed by Catholic priests in the 1600s. Then he took us to a Mayan well, called the Cenote. Here folks were swimming, three of our group swam and John put his feet in. He said the fish nibbled his toes. The water was an blue topaz dark blue with lily pads that had the flowers...it was very peaceful and calm. We then started on the track to the observatory. It has connections with the solstices on our calendar...the sun will shine through the door or one of the two windows during this time of year. Dec 21 is the next one so we missed it. Ivan showed us a Mayan house and explained that they could withstand a hurricane and why. Then we boarded our bus and took off to Medira.

Ivan first took us through the "new Yucatan " where there are shopping malls, burger king, Macdonald's, Wal-Mart (but it looked Mayan), Sam's club, pizza hut, a very modern world. Medira is the capital of the Yucatan and is land locked, very different than I expected.

Entering old Yucatan, you can see the difference. Older homes, ornate carvings, Mayan influenced designs, 1800 ish type of influences. Cab took us to the Governors palace first. It had a two story, aqua green facade. It was built as a courtyard and a guard out front. We entered with no problem. Ivan took us upstairs to see murals depicting the Mayan culture and history of the Yucatan people. The murals were wonderful...very nicely done and huge. We left here and he took us to the Mayors plaza. We saw an actual city meeting and walked into the room where they were conducting the meeting. I never thought that would be possible. It was now time to go back to the ship...we ate lunch...cheeseburgers and fries, homestyle potatoes, Mac and cheese, tirarmisu cheesecake, banana cream pie, and a salad. By this time it was time for John to take a nap and I edited every single photo that I had so far taken. When he woke up, we headed to the hot tub..we had it all to ourselves...how cool is that? When folk started to pour onto the Lido deck,we headed to eat. I had dressing, noodle soup, pumpkin hash, real tiramisu, uh...two of them...and John had pizza.

After that we did what old folks do...came to the room watched Law and order and I fell asleep.

10 December 2009

day 2 at sea

day 2
Was a day at sea....started off very clouded. We were told it was in the 70s, but I do not buy it. We started out waiting in line for my favorite omelet station..yummy. It was very good!! Loaded with peppers, onions, tomatoes, mushrooms and cheese. With wonderfully greasy hashbrowned potatoes. Wish I had a paper napkin to get all that grease.

After breakfast, we headed to the shop/excursion talk. It was our first one in a long time...see I am looking for an engagement type ring and vanilla...have to find the best deals you know. Martin, our British shop talker told us about these very cool necklaces that one side is gold, the other sterling silver...they are called omegas and I gasped when he told us about them. Walking out of this lounge you have to shop because the malls shops are right there. We looked around for a bit and I bought a black purse and a black scarf for elegant night. I was going to look great because we are buying photos. We hung out on deck chairs, watched ice carvings, took a nap, surfed the internet, walked around...then it was time to dress for dinner. It took a while to lace up the back of my dress, but we got it...yeah. We went to dinner, and I gotta say we were the most elegant at our table...John was the only one in a suit. We got new table mates this evening, Jane, John andhis dad from Mississippi. They were just as great. We are all very evenly matched personality wise. I really like Amy, we spent alot of time talking..we have alot in common. Dinner was perfect...I had 2 bowls of pumpkin soup, one starter of this turkey dish and medium prime rib. Pumpkin soup was divine...I could have eaten four or five bowls of just that. After dinner we had butter pecan ice cream...no fancy stuff, I had no room.

After dinner, we started the show, nightclub express, but it was not exciting so we left...us old folks had to go to bed.

fantasy day 1

Upon arriving at the port, I realized that we had only driven to one cruise in all these years so I cannot give a good report on this because I thought it stunk. I can tell you that in 11 years of cruising, I am a tad spoiled...only non smoking ship, carnivals largest ship, world’s largest ship, worlds crappist ship...I had forgotten that while the newer ships have tons of balcony cabins, the older ships do not. It’s been 11 years since I last saw the Fantasy. She hasn’t all those balconies, she is massive, but not ginormous. She is still a beauty.

The embarking line was not so great. I have only waited in a line like this ONCE! It was not a smooth process...and took 2 hours. We made it though. As I entered the hull, everything came back to me of how elated I was to step on this ship, 11 years before. Her grand atrium is small by today’s standards, but just as lovely...only smaller. The marble staircase is exactly the same. Gone are the ropes of neon...enter a more demure theme. The hand carved murals are still there, and just as wonderful. We didn’t need a map to find our room; Carnival makes it easy that they label the decks the same. We knew we were aft, I say stern...so we headed back. The hallways were new and fresh...I really liked the line drawings of ships and the color choices were perfect. Our room was wonderful as well...we expected an upper and lower berth, but got a king and an upper...we could have brought someone. Carnival has the best room sizes in the business...so size was great. I went to grab lunch while John listened to Mayfield. The loch lines were huge!!! I went to windows on the sea to grab a bite...this room used to be a workout room...I asked to make sure and it was confirmed it was! Up on the lido deck...the have installed palm trees...very nice. The deck here is smaller than those great ships but very cozy. I went to the spot where 11 years ago I saw my first shuttle launching...only thing different was the tables...the deck was unchanged...except now its adults only. This used to be on the sun deck up on top...wonder what is there now? I shall find out today.

Luggage...got our luggage faster than we have ever gotten luggage...good job!

Dinner...we were eaten in the Jubilee...Celebration was our dining room last time. It was not very pretty with short ceilings...I have grown accustomed to large dining rooms. We had a table for 10...a round table. I am expecting not to hear anyone and say what a lot. It is loud!!! Amy and Jim from Columbus Ohio are all ready there. She’s a stay at home mom who knows tons about car seats. I missed what he does. In came Kathy and something that starts with a J. He’s a firefighter from New York; yes he was there at 9-11-01. And I missed what she does. Then came Dora and Wayne from Alabama...they do this cruise all the time...this is like their 5th time. They live 9 miles from the port. He races motorcycles she deer hunts and does face book all the time. Last walked in newlyweds Frank and Yvonne. She had a son in Iraq, and I missed something about him. I had trouble choosing my dinner, I wanted 4 things...tilapia, mahi mahi, pork chop, or grilled chicken...they are doing the menu different...last year it was a starter, a salad, an entree and dessert. Now they have added the salad to the starters...hmmmm. I chose broccoli soup, fruit plate, pork chop, imported Swiss, and cheesecake minus the strawberries. It was all very yummy. The mac and cheese was divine!!! I liked everyone at the table too...we were all near the same age and that gave us things to talk about. We walked around for about an hour...went to the shops...and were still on our "early to bed"schedule...so we both fell asleep fast. As I type this the sun is coming up and through the window in our room. Yep, I am not out of my regular schedule yet. Today is a day at sea...tonight is formal night...I hope to win me another trophy for my trivia skills...and spend some $$$$ in the shops today. 12/6/09

Favorite things on day 1:
1. Room was great
2. Ship seems to be in wonderful shape
3. Food did not disappoint
4. Ammolite in the gift shop
5. Had my picture made with a pirate
6. Great view from our room
7. You were not required to wear life vest for the muster drills...my neck is happy about that.
8. John got to listen to the whole football game.
9. They have the ten dollar store on board
10. There was a scrapbook kit with my name on it.
11. Band on promenade deck...wow
12. Palm trees on lido deck
13. Adult only hot tubs...I hate kids splashing in there
14. Being on a ship again
15. The waves rocking me to sleep last night.
16. Our room is perfect
17. New decor throughout ship...I can almost pretend I have never sailed her.
18. Rico our crazy waiter
19. A king sized bed that sleeps well
20. Towel animals
21. Chocolate on my pillow
22. Food...food...food
23. Getting a deal on my internet plan
24. Phone service if I need it
25. A wonderful husband

Did not like:
1. Sewage smell on empress "e" deck...made me think of the tropicale
2. Long embarkation lines...you can make this so much easier.
3. Having trouble choosing entree
4. Cold!!! I was cold...most others are in shorts.
5. No breaking dawn in library...really wanted to finish it...left mine at home and almost finished it for the 5th time.
6. Single ply rough toilet paper...glad I brought Charmin with me
7. Lacks of outlets...yeah for me bringing extension cord
8. Cold room...but I brought my blanket and they gave me a robe.
9. Sore calves from running up stairs to walk off dinner...that will be better today though
10. No Hannah and Trevor