Cruising Again: Caribbean 2018



Exactly one week ago, Sharon and I returned from our second cruise ship vacation. Our first was last year, and we had a blast.

This year we returned to the Caribbean on the Carnival Breeze, again in the company of one of our oldest mutual friends and her sister. We didn’t get to disembark at the Cayman Islands last year because the seas were too rough to deploy the tenders. That wasn’t an issue this year. And I’m happy that it wasn’t. More on the Caymans in a moment.

The Carnival Breeze is a Dream-class cruise ship that, along with her two sister ships—the Dream and the Magic—was the largest passenger ship built by Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri at the time of its construction in 2012. It has accommodations for 3,690 passengers, with a crew of 1,386. The ship has a 0.4 mile promenade, 15 decks, numerous dining and entertainment options, and a length that’s more than three American football fields. It is a perfect snapshot of what three-quarters of a billion dollars could purchase in 2012.

We departed Galveston, Texas (an eight-hour drive from our home in central Arkansas), on a Sunday afternoon and returned a week later on a Sunday morning. The week seemed to go by very quickly. Each day was full of activities.

In Jamaica, we went on an excursion to a relatively new Hard Rock Cafe on the beach. The scenery was beautiful. The weather was sunny and hot. The memorabilia inside the Hard Rock was a little underwhelming (I think they’re still building their collection, which has very little Bob Marley so far). But, we were fed burgers and the beer kept flowing while we were there. You can’t ask for much more than that.

On Grand Cayman, Sharon and I rode in a ridiculously packed bus to Calico Jack’s, a bar located near the end of Seven Mile Beach. Sharon and I drank a bucket of Caybrews while watching parasailers, paddle boarders, and other daredevils out in the beautiful turquoise water. I’m not sure what it’s called, but there were also people doing that thing where they would be behind a personal water craft (I want to say “jet ski,” but I know that’s not correct), somehow using the power of the craft to propel themselves up in the air using a water-powered jet pack. I know this type of water activity probably has a succinct name, but I don’t know it. It was fun to watch, however, and reminded me a lot of Iron Man in the MCU.

We hailed a taxi at Jack’s and drove over to the Cayman Spirits Co., the only distillery on the island. We took a tour, and, along with a moderate-sized group comprised mostly of ex-Mormons (their words, not mine), sampled a lot of rum and took a tour of the distillery. It was a quick tour because it was a small place. We purchased three bottles of rum (coconut, banana and blackberry, if you’re wondering) and made friends with an on-premises Labradoodle named Max while we were there. We’re still grieving over the loss of our own miniature poodle, Q, and Sharon and I are both dog-lovers. Max was a good boy.

At Cozumel, we actually took an excursion to the Mayan ruins at San Gervaisio. These were smaller than those found at other sites, such as Chichen Itza, but interesting nonetheless. Lots of iguanas here. Afterward, our tour stopped at a small restaurant on the beach, where we had drinks made inside of coconut shells. A nice little stop.

This was the basic extent of our off-ship activities. The lion’s share of our time was spent on-board the cruise ship. We ate a lot of really good food. Barbeque at Guy Fieri’s BBQ restaurant, Indian food at Tandoor, noodle bowls at the Mongolian Wok, sushi at Bonsai Sushi, breakfasts and evening dinners, international and American cuisine, way too many desserts. We also drank really well, thanks to the Cheers program (well worth it if you drink at all while on vacation). We’re paying for our sins by sticking to strict teetotalling diets since we’ve been home.

Our entertainment on board consisted mostly of the evening song-and-dance shows, after dinner, and a later-night visit to the Punchliner comedy club. There’s also a nightclub on the ship, which we didn’t go to (just not club people anymore). And, each day is loaded with various games and karaoke, various live music and evening movies by the pool on the Lido deck. Of course there’s a casino as well. There was also a piano bar, but we didn’t care much for the guy at the keys there. Everything he played sounded suspiciously alike. And I’m convinced that he had never heard Escape (The Pina Colada Song) before attempting to play and sing it. Not that it’s one of my favorite songs ever; but, it is a classic tune.

Bottom line: We had a great time.

We probably won’t be taking this same cruise again. The Breeze is changing it’s home port to Florida later this year, but that’s not the reason. We’ve done this part of the Caribbean now. We’ll take other cruises, I’m sure. We’re thinking about taking an Alaskan cruise at some point. Or maybe another Caribbean cruise to Grand Turk or the Bahamas. The sun was pleasant after our wet winter in Arkansas this year.

We have time to plan for the next one. If you’ve never taken a cruise, I invite you to consider it. I am a convert.

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