Sunday, May 8, 2016
TIME FOR A CRUISE - Part 2
Tuesday April 5th
After a good 9 hour sleep, we were well refreshed and ready for our first full day at sea. The weather was perfect, the temperature was perfect what more could we hope for. Off we went to the Oceanview Cafe for a start up coffee with Gord and Patty. Then we decided on breakfast in the Blu Restaurant. This is a healthy alternatives restaurant that we had access to by staying in an 11th floor Aqua Class cabin. What a treat it was. Yogurt and granola parfait for me, smoothie for Fran followed by an egg and buttermilk pancakes and bacon. All very delectable.
Fran returned to read on our balcony and I did 30 minutes of speed walking laps around the track on deck 14. Later we attended a seminar by Equinox's expert shopping guide who gave us the inside info on shopping in Cozumel. I had no idea it was such a shopping Mecca with duty free, tax free shopping with an amazing selection of diamonds, designer jewellery, watches, gold and more from around the world. In the diamond market, you are close to the top of the food chain, apparently enjoying unprecedented selection and prices. Then of course there is the VIP card our presenter gives us, providing further discounts. As a non shopper, I almost get caught up in Christina's enthusiasm for the shopping experience offered in Cozumel. Ultimately, I believe what I'm going to enjoy most tomorrow is lunch at Pancho's Backyard and their famous Mexican food and Margaritas. Time will tell.
Lunch was delicious grilled burger topped with sautéed mushroom, onions and crispy bacon at the Mast Grill on deck 14, followed by bread pudding and vanilla sauce in the Ocean View Cafe. Mmm good! Over eating might become a problem...
Over lunch I noticed the rolling hills of an island about 20 miles off our port side beam and realized we were passing Cuba's northwest shore. My Navionic's chart app on my iPad tells me we are making 14 knots speed. As I write this blog on our balcony, I'm mesmerized by the teal blue ocean, the sound of the ship's wake and the cloudless blue sky. How exquisite!
At 4pm this afternoon I got a text from our Doctor friend Jonathan in Hawaii with terrible news. Our good friend Karen Kitchener who winters at Kai Lani in Ko Olina with her husband Dick, died yesterday while snorkelling. We were in shock, filled with sadness over this tragedy. Only Sunday I'd exchanged messages with Karen, who had written to do say they'd purchased a patio table and chairs, based on our recommendation and she and Dick had been eating all their meals out in the lanai. She had sent the most wonderful sunset photo along too and went on to say she and Dick were taking Ingrid out to dinner that evening. A day later and she is gone. It is another reminder to all of us to live in the moment and enjoy every day, every hour, every minute. Do it for all the Karen's in the world.
I know I will tire of talking about meals on this cruise, but dinner tonight was special. All my choices were pretty perfect, from the very light and flavourful crab bisque, to the grilled rack of lamb and small side of braised lamb shoulder wrapped in crispy phyllo pastry and the hot apple crumble with Tahitian vanilla ice cream. It was all great and small portions left me feeling just right. All those food reviews we read on Cruise Critic were right. Thank goodness for people taking time to do reviews - note to self - "Do our reviews of Celebrity when we get home".
Wednesday April 6th
Welcome to Cozumel. It took us about 39 hours to cruise 536 nautical mile from Fort Lauderdale to Cozumel with lovely calm seas and clear skies. After another great breakfast in the Blu restaurant, we were ready to put all that shopping knowledge and a mitt full of coupons to good use. We hitched up with two other couples to share the cost of the short taxi ride into the Forum Shops in central San Miguel on Isle De Cozumel. We were ready. Sales staff were ready fur us. Five cruise ships with around 3,000 passengers each plus crew were all disembarking for a frenzy of activities for the day. Diamonds International, Alberto's Silver, Tanzanite International, Los Cinco Soles, A Touch Of Gold, Effy Jewellery and much much more. The outcome? Numerous free "gifts", several pairs of earrings, a bracelet and a great Mexican lunch at Pancho's Backyard with awesome Margaritas. Fran of course really enjoyed the shopping. Me, I loved the lunch and the free wifi to catch up on a bunch of emails. Good to do once. Next time I'd like to tour this island.
Tonight, after dinner, we caught our first show on the Equinox. Her name was Jayne Curry, a singer / comedian from a little town in the UK with a name I don't remember and had never heard of. She said the town was a good place to be from (and never return to). Jayne is 39, a little rough around the edges and she's married to a middle of the road professional golfer named Steve Perry. She provided lots of self depreciating humour, such as describing her marriage as perfect, because the two travel so much (she does 30 to 40 cruises per year) and Steve travels to golf tournaments around the globe, so they never see each other. Her humour was actually very clever providing lots of great belly laughs.
But then there is her singing. Her voice was magnificent and clear. Whitney Houston, Celine Dion, Abba, an array of show tunes from Andrew Lloyd Webber.... She did justice to all their material, while putting her own spin on them. This woman espoused the strategy of being dedicated, working very hard and needing a little luck to reach your dreams. Her dream was to perform for audiences on luxury cruise liners with a live band. She is living her dream and entertaining packed theatres every time. We enjoyed her performance so much we even returned to see a matinee performance with totally new material the next day.
Master shopper Fran checks out Diamonds International