February 10, 2005

Carnival Glory - Progresso, Mexico

February 3, 2005 Ė Progresso, Mexico

Up very early today Ė we have to be on the pier at 8:00AM to meet our tour. We order room service this morning so we donít have to bother going to the dining room or lido deck for breakfast. This is such a nice bonus when you have a balcony cabin. You can eat your breakfast outside watching the ocean or the scenery when in port. Not that Iím anti-social, but I wouldnít be eating breakfast with strangers anyway.

The tour today covers the Haciendaís of Progresso, Mexico and city tour. This was such a pleasant change from Cozumel. The town was delightful. You can see they are just developing the area so itís Cozumel the way I remember it years and years ago. Small and quaint with friendly and cordial business owners. No one pulling on you to come into their shops. Just some nice shops with decent prices. Not outstanding bargains, just decent prices.

The Hacienda portion of the trip was very educational. I always thought a Hacienda was a home. However, it was actually a community that includes the surrounding area. It stretches some 2 miles or so around the main house. The Mayans lived and worked on the land around the Hacienda. They bought all their goods at the stores there and sold their products to the owner of the hacienda. The part that kept them tied to the land is that they never made as much on the goods they sold as it took them to buy the goods they needed to live on. So they thought they owned their land, but technically they could never leave it. We saw how the Mayanís live now and while itís poor according to our standards, we were assured they are happy with what they have. They have their homes, pay no taxes and have no cares.

I would recommend a stop in Progress to everyone. The ship pulls into a pier that sits off the city center. The pier is ď6Ē miles off the town. Yes, I said ď6Ē. You canít walk the pier so you have to take some type of shuttle or tour. The pier is amazing to look at from town. You canít imagine how long it is until you stand on the beach and look at it. They have built a shopping area out on the end of the pier where you have a few shops that you can purchase typical Mexican goods at. Town offers more of the same, but more jewelry stores with a larger selection.

Progresso is known for itís ďGreen GoldĒ. Not that we had any idea of what that was, so Iíll explain it to you. Green Gold is what the Mayans called Henequen or what we call sisal. They have an extraordinary amount of the Yucca plant that they use to make the sisal. They demonstrated how they make the sisal rope when we were at the Hacienda. We call it sisal after the port that itís shipped from in Mexico.

All in all we had a very nice day and would not hesitate to return to Progresso. Itís a short ride to Merida from there and if we ever get to go back, that will be our next visit. I understand from the other cruisers that went that itís a wonderful, charming city. Gives you a reason to return.

We had to be back on board by 2:00PM Ė the ship sails at 2:30PM. Not much time to spend in a really nice port. That was one of the reasons we originally chose this cruise, the ports for the most part were different from the ordinary. I could care less if I ever returned to Cozumel and Ocho Rios is a close second. I guess Iíve been to each place once to often. You just get so tired of the merchants harassing you when you walk by a store.

So, we get back onboard and head up to enjoy some lunch on the lido. Again, we had a wonderful selection. The food here has been top notch. Carnival has had some of the best food Iíve had at sea.

The rest of the afternoon we just relax, read, play Mah Jongg.

Tonight is our second formal night so we have to head back to our rooms early enough to get ready. Formal nights take a little extra effort these days. Plus, when you cruise, you have to save your biggest, elastic waist for the last few nights. Something Iíve learned over my many years of cruising. The food is usually just to good not to eat.

Back to the room after a wonderful dinner and Iím just to exhausted to go out again. Just another night to get some sleep. At least tomorrow is a day at sea so we can relax all day.

February 4, 2005 Ė At Sea between Progresso and Port Canaveral

We wake up to a not so nice day today. Weíre at sea for the duration of the cruise and will be back in Port Canaveral tomorrow at 7:00AM.

Posted by MJ at 05:57 PM | Comments (0)

Carnival Glory - Cozumel

February 2, 2005 Ė Cozumel, Mexico

What is there to say about Cozumel. Weíve all been here on our past three cruises. Itís becoming so boring.

We decided not to take any shore excursions. Weíve tried several in the past and just arenít impressed with the island. So we had a nice leisurely breakfast and strolled off the ship when we were ready.

We were docked at the pier outside of town along with two other ships. There is shopping at the end of the pier and unless you want to trek downtown, you can usually find everything there. Today we decided to take a cab downtown. Donít ask me why, I guess just for something different to do. The cab costs $6.00 each way. Itís quite a way so I donít recommend walking. They tell you it can be done, but itís about 3 plus miles. If itís really hot, I donít recommend it at all. If you have plenty of energy and nothing else to do, go for it.

So, we get downtown and itís a shopperís worst nightmare. There are four more ships docked at the piers that are in the downtown area. This is the original pier that has been there for years. I was in Cozumel 20 years ago and thatís the pier we used. Much more convenient to town since you just have to walk down the pier and youíre smack dab in the middle of town. Then again that could be a minus too. The town has gotten so touristy over the years and so over-priced; I hate going there anymore. The merchants taunt you when you pass by each store and restaurant. Trying to pull you into the stores and pushing menuís in your face. Itís just not pleasant any longer. When I was there for the first time many, many years ago, it was a sleepy little town with some nice shops and good prices. Now itís huge. It cost me less for the goods in the US than in Cozumel. I priced the medications in Cozumel and it was much better in Belize City. The cost of the medication was more than I would pay for it at home on my prescription plan. Not so in the past. I suppose itís good for people without a prescription plan, but if youíre going to Belize City on your trip, get your meds there.

We head back to the ship and to a nice lunch onboard and some relaxing in the afternoon. Everyone is ready for a siesta. Ed, Lorraine and I have picked up a cold along the way so weíre ready for some antibiotics and a snooze.

Casual dinner again tonight. Canít complain again. No one has had one bad thing to say about the food. The variety has been wonderful and the quality is top notch. Tonight they get us up to dance at our tables. The color with the most people up get an additional 20 points. They give it to white, itís a pity vote Iím sure, weíre in last place.

No party time tonight Ė off to bed early, we have a really early shore excursion tomorrow morning. 8:00AM on the pier.

Posted by MJ at 04:57 PM | Comments (0)

Carnival Glory - Belize City

February 01, 2005 Ė Belize City, Belize

Another morning with no breakfast. We have to be in the theatre early today to catch our tour. We ordered coffee, tea and pastry for our room. It was a nice choice even if we were going to be out all morning on a tour.

The ship cannot get into Belize city. They donít have a pier Ė at all. Just a waterfront where regular boats can get to. So Ė you have to tender to the town on a boat that holds somewhere in the 100 passenger range. Itís about a 30minute ride to the pier. Youíre dropped off right in front of several different terminals that are loaded with shops. The terminals are all new, not the run down make-shift things you run into in some ports.

We decided to take the Mayan Ruins tour of Altun-Ha plus a city tour. A good choice for those that donít want the adventure tours that are also offered. You get a nice tour of the city with plenty of detail on the country statistics. Surprise, surprise, the language of the country is English. Many of the natives use a Creole language that was developed by the slaves so their masters did not understand what they were saying. But, English is taught in the schools as well as Creole.

You board your bus once you finish your ride to the pier and you start with the city tour and some of the history of the country. As much as you can fit into the hour or so ride it takes to get to the ruins. The ruins are in good condition and the guide was excellent. You had two guides were excellent. The guide for the ruins had an extraordinary amount of knowledge of the Mayans and only recently return to live in a Mayan village as opposed to the city. Over all, it was a really informational and educational tour.

When the bus drops you back off at the pier, the shops are all waiting for you. They sell all kinds of wood carvings, T-shirts, prescription drugs, etc. They had quite an assortment of the prescription drugs. More than I ever saw in Mexico. We arrive in Cozumel tomorrow so Iíll be able to see if they now have everything they had in Belieze.

We didnít have lunch before we left so now weíre all starving (only as related to missing a meal on a cruise ship). Back to the ship for some food and cocktails. The buffet was still open plus the grill and the ever popular 24 hour pizza. I tried the hot dog today but didnít care for it. I love hot dogs you buy on the street in Manhattan or at the ball park Ė I call them snappers because you bite into them and they snap. These were the big fat, type you get in Cosco or Sams Ė not snappers. I then ventured out to find something else and found spare ribs on the buffet. They were out of this world. The buffet has been wonderful each day. Plus there was no big line today because we got back around 2PM.

We spent the rest of the day just sitting out on our balconies. Wine and cocktails before dinner helps passes the time. We have late seating so we have plenty of free time in the afternoon. Itís nice to have cabins to come back to and spend the afternoon where itís quiet. On deck and around the pool can be rather noisy when the band and DJ are up there blasting their music. When we all travel together, we open up all the doors between the balconies and have one big party/sunning area. We get to spend a lot more time together and talk to each other. I donít know if I could ever go back to a cabin without a balcony. How spoiled we become as we go from one category to the next.

Dinner tonight was casual. The meal was topnotch. Just like all the other nights. Each night the crew gets to entertain us and tonight we had to join the Conga line to get points for our team. Weíre in last place. It was a lot of fun to see everyone up and parading all around the dining room.

Tonight was a show was a magician. Now, Iím not a magician kind of person. It never impressed me much, but I have to tell you, he was really good and lots of fun. Not only did he do the illusions part of the show, he danced along with the show entertainers. Then in the end, he brings a small young boy out of the audience to help him. It was the best part of the show. The young boy just had everyone laughing through the whole performance. He was adorable. He was 4 years old and a perfect entertainer. He couldnít have picked a better kid out of the audience.

Show done and off to the casino. Spent a few hours throwing my money away and then back to the room.

Posted by MJ at 04:56 PM | Comments (0)

Carnival Glory - Day at Sea

January 31, 2005 Ė Day At Sea

Today should be a do nothing day. Went to bed late last night so breakfast was a little behind schedule. I decided to stay in the room, get myself organized and they brought me back some fresh fruit to eat. It was perfect. Since we ate late, it was just enough to hold me off till lunch without feeling stuffed.

Lots of ship board activities today. Time to catch up on you tan, make you decisions on what shore excursions you want to do, nap, read a book or play some games. I tried to do all of the above.

We laid out in the sun while we decided what tours to do. Unfortunately, Carnival doesnít have the option to book your shore excursions on line until February 12, 2005. Itís nice to have that all settled when you get on board and have it all taken care of.

Next was lunch Ė today I enjoyed the Oriental Kitchen. Nice choices. There were several different kinds of entrees to pick from.

After lunch, I decided to enter the Slot Tournament. Ha Ė might as well have gone out on my balcony and thrown my money out the door. The top number was over 12,000, I amassed a paltry total of 1,500. I didnít even make it to 12th place. The last amount to be posted.

After that the girls decided to play some Mah Jongg. We head off to the library to look for someplace to play. They had tables in the library, but certainly not adequate for Mah Jongg playing. We managed to make due. This is a very small library. Most of the tables were small little round tables, not good for games at all. All the larger tables were taken up with people playing all sorts of games that they provide. They donít provide any Mah Jongg sets so we brought our own. We ended up playing for a couple of hours, but it was so cold in that room that we ended up leaving. Next time I think weíll move to the dining room to play. As far as cold goes, everywhere we go on this ship is cold. Our rooms are like meat lockers. Iíve finally turned the heat dial all the way up to as hot as you can make it and itís started to be just regular cold.

Dinner tonight was formal. Boy, everyone cleans up nicely. Everyone was dressed to the nines. Looking very nice too. The menu tonight was Lobster tails and prime rib plus a few other items. It was delicious. The portions were just right too. We were allowed to order the lobster tail and the prime rib so we could have the surf and turf Ė both were excellent choices.

Off to the show Ė no stopping at the casino. Just right down front in the theatre so we can get a good seat. Tonightís show was singing and dancing by the Glory Entertainers. They were very good. The costumes were wonderful along with their voices and dancing. Well worth not missing.

No casino tonight Ė back to the room, change and off to bed. Iím exhausted.

Posted by MJ at 04:55 PM | Comments (0)

Carnival Glory - Key West

Key West Ė January 30, 2005

Not a big rush this morning. We donít arrive in Key West until noon so we can take our time getting ready and organized. We head out to breakfast around 9AM and encounter very long lines for the buffet. You have to wonder if you really need to eat breakfast when you have to wait so long. If you like omelets, skip the buffet line, go to the front of it and order your omelet. It goes much faster. Also, if you just want some pastry and fresh fruit, they have a separate area for that and you just walk right up to it. Much better than waiting for the bacon, eggs, pancakes etc.

Since the ship doesnít get in to Key West until noon, we decide to wait, have lunch then venture off the ship. Today we try the Seafood Grill located on Deck 10 above the grand buffet in the aft of the ship. This area of the dining room is nice and quiet and hardly anyone eats up there. The fish and chips are great, they also have Sushi, Fried Oysters, and several other fish items. We like this area so much weíve decided to have our meals up there each day instead of trying to find a table in the lower level Ė even if you donít eat the fish, the eating area is nicer.

Finished lunch and head back to our cabin. We have balconyís overlooking the pier and city so we get a birds eye view of what is going on. The Glory pulls into the old navy pier so youíre at a disadvantage right away. No walking on and off the ship at will. You need to exit the pier and take a shuttle bus through the navy area. Youíre not allowed to walk unescorted, plus when you return to the ship each shuttle is stopped and you have to show your photo ID and have your bags checked. The Disney Magic was across just across from us and they were at the pier thatís at the foot of the Mallory Square area. Much nicer. Funny thing, if you could swim a short distance, you would be across this short expanse of water faster than it took to take the shuttle to town. The nice part about the shuttle service is that you get a short narrative from the drivers during the trip. What we saw when we got back to our room was a line as long as the ship waiting to get on the shuttles. People had to wait over 20 minutes to get the transportation to town. Very inconvenient and seemed very disorganized. Coming back you went through the same thing in reverse. The wait wasnít as long but every time a bus pulled in they dumped another load of passengers on the pier to add to the line. Last shuttle is 5PM so itís a mad dash to get back on time. If you miss the shuttle, youíre out of luck because you canít get through the navy base without it.

Key West is not the city that I remember. Iíve been to Key West several times since my parents once lived in Key Largo, so usually a visit to Mom and Dad included a trip to Key West. That was many years ago. Key West is not the same city. Itís grown up and all the franchise names have entered. You still can see the original Sloppy Joes and a few other bars/restaurants, but being there during the tourist season you end up shoulder to shoulder with other tourists. There were three ships in town at the same time. Our ship holds about 3000 passengers plus all the crew are allowed off here. Add two other ships to that and you have one packed city. At least we werenít on the other ship in there, that one had to sit off shore and tender people in.

Tonightís dinner was casual but very good. No food complaints at all. Plus tonight is the first night the dinning room staff entertains you. They dance and sing just about the time they serve desert. Tonight was the Macarena and some other dance I didnít know.

The show tonight was a wonderful entertainer named Marcus Anthony. Heís performed with all the Motown entertainers from years back and he was great. He sang all the songs from the 50ís and up. He had great repore with the audience and got everyone up and dancing at their seats. So far the entertainment is top notch.

After the show was over, we went to the casino before heading back to the cabin. I was luckier tonight than last night and should be just about even again.

Posted by MJ at 04:53 PM | Comments (0)

February 06, 2005

Carnival Glory Cruise

Port Canaveral - January 29, 2005

Today we depart on our Cruise on the Carnival Glory. It departs from Port Canaveral, Florida so itís nice and close. We need to take out own transportation down there since the cruise line doesnít offer any transfers from our area. There are three couples going so weíve decided to take one vehicle that will hold all of us. It should be much easier since we can take our time getting there. When we leave from Ft. Lauderdale or Miami, we have to leave very early Ė 6AM usually Ė to get there on time for check in. Today weíre not leaving until 11AM Ė what a treat. Weíre traveling with Mickey & Smiley and Lorraine and Ed. We always have such a good time together.

We arrive at the Port Canaveral terminal around 1PM Ė check in is at 1:30PM. You have to park the car across the street so the luggage gets dropped off first. The parking terminal is a multi-level parking garage. The instructions on the Carnival web site tells you that you need to take a shuttle back from the parking garage, but itís very close and walk able.

Check in is a breeze. Weíre decided to take suites on this sailing. I know it sounds spoiled, but we got a suite on this for the price of a balcony on the other lines. Anyway, you get special treatment when you sign in.. Category 11 and above goes to the Skipper Club and you get individual sign in at a special desk Ė one on one with a waiting lounge for others who are waiting to use the service. Then you get escorted to the front of the line and you check in to board the ship before all others. WOW Ė I felt like such a VIP. The cabins are really nice. So big, plenty of closet space, big bathroom with a Jacuzzi tub and a nice big balcony. Since we all took cabins next to each other, we always end up opening the doors between the balcony so we can socialize and party during the cruise. It works out so well. The cabins are loaded with closet space and drawers. Three closets to hang items in, one with shelves plus a dresser with 4 drawers, a vanity with 5 drawers (includes a hair dryer) and a desk area. It also has a mini-bar with items to buy, but if you have something you want to put in there, there is room. If you want to buy anything from the mini-bar, be prepared to pay a hefty price. They are just like hotels Ė very expensive. The room has a king size bed or two twins, plus a couch/sleep sofa, coffee table and chair. The balcony comes with 2 chairs and 2 tables and is plenty big. The room has a regular glass paned door to go out to the balcony and two big picture windows. I love the sunlight so it was great for me. The room was nice and bright once you pulled the curtains back. They do have room-darkening curtains on the windows for when youíre sleeping.

The balance of the day was spent getting used to the ship and eating and eating and eating. So far weíre very happy with the food but the lines in the Lido are very long. You do better if you use the Deli or Oriental kitchen on the Lido. They donít seem to have as long a line. The grille that serves hamburgers/hot dogs and grilled chicken isnít to bad Ė same for the pizza and Caesar salad station.

Dinner was casual tonight. The food was very good. Soups are excellent, salads and dressings fresh and flavorful and the entrees were just the right size so you donít end up feeling bloated. You can have more if you want, but it was enough for me. If you ever get hungry later, you can always find more to eat someplace. Remember, the pizza place is open 24 hours plus you have 24 hour room service Ė no matter what room you have.

They have started something new and at dinner they announce the competition. They divide the ship up into three teams, red, white and blue. You find out what color you are in the dining room. Weíre white. Each time you win something Ė like the trivia and other games they have, you earn points for your team. Winning at Bingo wins points. They give points for almost everything. Itís a fun way to get people involved that normally wouldnít participate in anything. People really start to take their colors seriously. It lasts the whole week. Weíll see how successful we are.

The entertainment this evening was a comedian and he was really funny. Plus the cruise director was very entertaining explaining the ins and outs of the ship. They have mega bingo late at night. All the other ships Iíve been on had it in the afternoon. Here they have it in the main showroom between the two shows. It starts around 10PM. This really packs the showroom for the show.

Of course, the casino opens as soon as you hit the open seas. They have a nice big casino with something for everyone. The slots go from .05 cents to a dollar and there seemed to be enough for everyone. The nickels are always a popular spot so you might find it a little more difficult to get one of these. We were on a full cruise and it wasnít annoying trying to find a machine.

Ready for bed Ė everyone is exhausted from the full day. Tomorrow is Key West.

Posted by MJ at 11:04 PM | Comments (0)