Thursday, September 18, 2008

We went on a cruise!!!!

We boarded the Freedom of the Seas on Sunday August 31st, 2008. There were 5,000 people on the boat. I went with friends from church (Jenna Fornelli, Mike Lee, Peyton Buhler, Becky Settle, Andrew Stames, Luc Steadman and Erin Shepard) and we had a blast! Truly the trip of a lifetime.

The trip started with a us taking a red eye to Atlanta from LAX on Saturday nite. We then took a plane to Fort Lauderdale where the boat was docked. The boat was monumental!

We got on the boat and the first thing we did was grab our suits and get in one of the 7 hot tubs on the boat!

We then headed to lunch at the windjammer where it was all different kinds of foods, all you can eat, all the time! Gluttony! The only bummer (but i guess my thighs can thank me later) was that the only free drinks were lemonade, iced tea and water. I was dying for a coke and eventually gave in and got one (for free!).

This is pretty much what Sunday, Monday and Tuesday consisted of. Laying out by the pool, getting in the pool, eating, pool again, and more laying out. It was so relaxing! We would've landed at Haiti on Tuesday, but because of Hurricane Gustav, the captain felt it was safer to just avoid it all together :( The only upside to not landing in Haiti was when some of us were up late nite and we caught the Hurricane late one night from a distance and it looked so awesome! I'd never seen anything like it. There were lots of firsts on this trip.

Now Andrew got sick the first two days... i mean SICK! He was on an IV and everything. We think he got food poisoning. So as a result, he was quarantined from the rest of the boat and sent to his room until further noticed. His roommates were also supposed to stay there, so Mike stayed and tended to Andrew and Pey and Luc were just at large staying away from the room. Andrew got better by Jamaica.

Some people did shows and some didn't (OK mainly jenna and I missed a couple shows) but the ones we did catch were so good! We did "Dancing in the Streets" and it was a 70s disco street party on the boats indoor promenade where we were dancing around with costumed village people characters. Doing the YMCA was actually fun! Also seen on the boat was a magic show, a comedic act, a Broadway show, and i think the guys caught the finale show. We had our favorite "characters" on the boat: there was cruise director Ken who somehow was ALWAYS everywhere on his little segway or with a drink or microphone in his hand. At one point, no joke, he was with his pants down to his ankles. Mind you we weren't there and apparently he was wearing superman boxers. Another character was "Greasy" who was this dude from Kazakhstan i guess and he, like everyone else on the boat, did everything. I think that the people on the boat have to be Jacks of all trades because we saw alot of the performers EVERYWHERE! We would see the girl who was a performer at 80s nite the nite before manning the rock climbing wall the nite after. Greasy was the guy who was in charge of karaoke one nite, then dancing on the deck later that nite during salsa nite. He was everywhere. Then we had our fun waiters for our sit down dinners: there was Jose, our waiter, Anna his assistant waiter and MaryAnn the Head Waitress for our floor. They were so fun! At one point, Anna even cut Peyton's shrimp (don't' ask). Then we had Deroy who was so personable and fun. He was our stateroom assistant. He would make our beds and leave towel animals and he remembered most of us by our names too! Every person we came in contact with there that worked there was so great!

There were lots of fun amenities on the boat that people (mainly Luc and Peyton) participated in. There was the wave rider and the cool thing about the wave rider was sitting there watching people eat it big time.

There was also a rock climbing wall, a basketball court, a mini golf course, an arcade and a skating rink. Not to mention two pools, a kids water play area, and seven hot tubs. I think at some point we did everything.

As far as eating goes, there was a 24-hour all you can eat pizza place in the Promenade, the previously mentioned Windjammer, our fancy dining room area, two fancy restaurants where you had to pay extra to eat at, a ben and jerry's and a johnny rockets plus various bars all over the outdoor deck/ pool area. Again, i think at some point one of us ate at one or more of these places. Gotta experience all of it!

More cool things on the boat, the Crypt (dance club), the casino, Karaoke!!, a quiet library, and they had the occasional art galleries.

Our ports of call were Jamaica, Grand Cayman and Cozumel, Mexico.

So we spent day 3 in Jamaica. It was awesome! We were rained on, but it was very much welcomed! We took a van to our destination pretty deep in Jamaica and made it H'Evans Scent (which incidentally is owned by some famous British celebrity name Derek Evans aka Mr. Motivator). We were then strapped in for our first adventure... zip-lining in the jungle. Our guides, again, so cool and personable.After zip-lining, we did ATVs in the muddiest areas. I was at the head of the pack for our group of four and i must've heard Jenna wrong because next thing i know we are ATVing in the jungles of Jamaica and apparently we weren't supposed to go without a guide. So we almost killed each other out there. I also crashed into the back of the guide and somehow flipped my ATV over. Again, don't ask. It was sweet, though. After getting really muddy (well at least i did) we rinsed off boarded our bus and headed back to the freedom. Where we enjoyed each others company at dinner.
Day 4 was the Cayman Islands and it was a BEAUTIFUL, GORGEOUS day! You couldn't ask for better weather when you're going snorkeling with sea creatures. We got to dock early so we toured a little and took pictures and bought souvenirs.

Then we headed to our destination in a van (with the coolest COOLEST driver ever, Anjou Priest who apparently is a musical hit in Jamaica and has his music playing on the islands there.)
We then boarded a tiny ship that took us far out in the water. You will never see waters as blue as they were in any of our ports! Cayman was no exception. it was gorgeous! We were given snorkels and fins and joined the fishies in the water! we stopped at three different spots and on the third we actually got to swim with stingrays. It was one of scariest things I've experienced in my life. I was clinging on the whomever i could. i didn't want to step on one lest i end up like Steve Irwin :/

After stingrays, we headed back to a beach for a about half an hour for a little cayman island swimming then headed back to the boat.

Day 5 was Cozumel, Mexico. Now this day we all split up. Jenna and i went to a private beach resort area called Mr. Sancho's. Erin, Becky, Andrew, Mike and Pey headed to the Tulum ruins and the beach there and Lucas did scuba by himself.
Jenna and I had a freaking blast! We took a taxi to the resort where we started with horse back riding on the beach, then had hour long massages on by the beach like we were literally facing the beach from our cool hut. Then we had all you can eat food and drinks. All this included in the price of the massages and horse back riding. The resort was cool because it had a pool and shopping areas and straw umbrella things to lay under and the water was perfection!!

on our way out to get on the taxi, we saw a guy with a monkey and we got to hold it and take pics with it. It was so cute and so was the guy! :)

we then headed back to the shopping areas in cozumel by the boat and got really good bargains on souvenirs.

Day 6 we just spent hanging out by the boat, exploring, ice skating, eating, some people laid out and luc and i played in the arcade. It was pretty chill. It was also kinda sad. It was our last day on the boat and I didn't want it to end! We said our goodbyes to all the people we met. One of my favorite moments on the ship was that nite, staying up till 3am talking with Luc and Mike and getting to know them and becoming better friends with them.

Later i regretted staying up that late only because of the lack of sleep i got. we had to be up at 6 am the next dayto be ready to get off the boat at 7:30 am so we wouldn't miss our next adventure.... WTGP!

We bought an excursion to do the everglades in Florida. We took a bus to the everglades and it was nasty muggy weather. We were greeted by some hick tour guide who showed us the sites while on the bus. I think we all slept through his shpeel. We got there and they took us to this little visitors area where they sold all things alligator, including alligator purses, t-shirt and even sandwishes (sick). We then got on an everglade boat thing and got a tour of a whole lot of nothing, well i take it back. We saw part of an alligator, florida's biggest bird ("How you do Mr. Blue!") and the hick tour guide swore up and down there was some large lizard on a tree. We never saw it.

We then got an alligator show where erin got to hold an alligator. Kinda lame. they had us pay money to take a picture with an alligator. LAME! we then had a "tour" of the "wildlife" in the area. We saw peacocks and caged alligators. But the best part of the this excursion was when the hick tourguide threw a piece of chicken onto the back of one of the alligators and i think at that point some of us had had it and for some reason (maybe we were delirious and tired) it was the funniest thing we had see the whole day! "If i had a chicken on ma back... wouldya eat it?"

we couldn't stop laughing. so funny! Becky was soooo funny! and thats where WTGP was born.

after our "excursion" we took the bus to Fort Lauderdale airport where it was a whole other adventure from here on out. We couldn't take our plane because the cabin pressure was off so we had to wait for another plane and while waiting we missed our transfer in Atlanta. So we had to take a late plane to Atlanta and had to wait the following day, monday, at 7am to fly out. They put us up in a hotel in the dirty south (atlanta) so that was pretty cool. By this point though, i was cranky and needed sleep and to get away from everyone. we finally made it to LAX but met up with one last problem: lost luggage. Besides Erin and I everyone had lost luggage. It turned out it was on the flight after headed to LA. So we had to wait an extra half hour for peoples' bags. It was just so unpleasant!

We finally made it home.

It was the trip of a lifetime. If I could do it again, i would in a heartbeat, with the same people and the same things.