Sunday, January 27, 2008

What's going on?

~Caught at Nelson's Dockyard in Antigua


I'm still writing up an entry for my visit with my Mom and her husband as well as this last nine day cruise.

A few highlights....

While my Mom and Ray were on board, we visited Tulum. Tulum is an ancient Mayan city right on the ocean. It rained that day but we still had a great time exploring Tulum.

On Grand Cayman, Ray went golfing with Mike on a course designed by Jack Nicklaus. Or however you spell his name.... They had a great time golfing, seeing Blue Iguanas, snakes and the ocean.

Mom went snorkeling at West Cemetary Bay with Larrance and me. She'd never swam in the ocean let alone snorkeled. The first time out was a bit rough but by her second time she was a'snorkeling! After that, Larrance and I swam way out to a huge beautiful reef. We saw a spotted eel and a spiny lobster as well as thousands of was wonderful.

I will write more about our adventures later but here are some photos for right now!

Mom & Ray get comfortable on the NCL Jewel..

We had fancy drinks...

Then off to Mexico and the ruins


Grand Cayman!

Jen & Larrance

Friday, January 18, 2008

Over the Hill and through the Palm Trees

We’re just finishing up a nine day cruise. This has been a great cruise - Good weather, lots of snorkeling and fantastic shows.

Our Stardust show was changed to earlier in the cruise, we performed on Monday night this time. Our show fell on Tortola day so we just had a short day at Cane Garden Bay. The water was perfect and we played a bit of frisbee and then had some Ting’s at a waterfront bar. On our way back to the boat, we had a cab driver named Bozo. Bozo told us a lot about the surrounding islands. There’s one island that’s about 45 miles away called Anegada. It’s a coral atoll island circled by the third largest reef in the world as well as several shipwrecks. Larrance and I have put it on the list of places to visit. He also reccommended a beach for our next trip to Tortola - Long Bay on Beef Island. Beef Island is connected to Tortola by a causeway. We might go there or to a secret destination!

Our shows went great this week. We’ve really been working on the improvised musical that closes our show and I think we’ve got it! I probably shouldn’t say that but....we’ve figured out that we just have to make sure all of our characters are “of the same world.” It sounds so obvious but as improvisers we’re always trying to create something new. So we learned to just watch the first scene and pull our characters for scene two right from there. It works! We got lots of nice feedback from the passengers this week.

On Antigua, we took a tour of the island. We went to Nelson’s Dockyard, Devil’s Bridge and Long Bay Beach. Yes, they have a Long Bay too. Nelson’s Dockyard was very interesting and we wished we had more time there. We’re talking about going back on one of our future visits. Devil’s Bridge is a natural limestone bridge between two rocks - the bridge was formed by the pounding of the ocean. It was very dramatic. Long Bay Beach was a gorgeous beach in possesion of some of the softest sand I’ve ever felt. Walking on it was like having your feet on suede - it was great. The snorkeling there was pretty fine. You had to swim out a long way but there were lots of fishes out there. I spotted a Tiger Grouper which is a first this year.

In Barbados we had big plans to go and party at the Boatyard but we awoke to stormy skies and rain. So we just took an aimless stroll around town....Larrance and I went to the Bajan Cigar Factory and learned how they make cigars. Then he bought two cigars for him and Mike.

On St. Lucia we went to Marigot Bay. We’d tried to go to Marigot Bay a few weeks ago but the cab driver talked us out of it. This time we would not be swayed and I’m glad we stuck to our guns! It was fantastic. The cab dropped us off at a little pier and you have to take a tiny ferry over to Marigot. It’s a spit of land with a hotel, restaurant, beach, some jewelry stands and a bunch of rastafarians. The beach was dotted with incredibly tall palm trees and very few people. When I first got in the water, I was concerned because it was so murky. Andy, Larrance and I swam a good ways out and we got to a big wall made of rocks, coral and metal mesh wire. Andy found a way around the wall. On the other side of the wall, were hundreds of French Grunts, Damsel Fish, Brain and Fan Coral. It was fascinating just to watch all the fish swim in and out of the rock wall. But I’m glad I moved on....out beyond the wall was some great snorkeling. Huge brain coral, trunk fish, yellow tube coral, a little blue fish with teal to electric blue spots! It was great. Oh, and another Tiger Grouper. I guess that’s the fish of the cruise.

After we snorkeled for about an hour we decided to have lunch. We joined the non-snorkelers, Rance, Deanna & Mike, at the restaurant. On many of the Caribbean islands they have a local dish called Roti. Roti is a curried mixture wrapped in lentil flour bread. We had fish roti that was great. We added to it’s greatness by dousing it in scotch bonnet hot sauce. So first we looked at fish and then we ate them....seemed right at the time.

After St. Lucia we have two sea days back to Miami. Our improv shows are on the evening of the first sea day. Our improv shows also went great. This is such a fun group to work with!

Tonight we’re going to play Settlers of Catan - a game so geeky even my D & D loving brother won’t touch it. It’s perfect for the ship as it eats up like 2 to 3 hours every time we play it.

This last cruise my Mom and her husband were onboard. We all went to Tulum in Mexico. In Grand Cayman, Ray went golfing with Mike and my Mom went snorkeling with Larrance and me. I'll write a more comprehensive blog and post it in about a week with photos! Happy Fun Fun!

More to come...


Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Christmas to New Year’s Eve to Today


So, long time no blog.

I had a bad cold for the last nine day. It started right before Christmas and just ended two days ago.

On Christmas Eve, we went to Brewer’s Bay on Tortola. We went in to snorkel and there were thousands (millions?) of little guppies everywhere. They were so thick that sometimes you couldn’t see anything - the ocean was also very wavy so there was lots of sand in the way.

Rance & Larrance saw a Stingray. I never saw it but I’m sure it passed me in the murky water. There were lots of fish called Palometas around too...they sort of looked like Angelfish.

We stayed in for a bit and then we decided to body surf on the big waves. I’ve never body surfed. I’ll bob around in the rough waters but I’m not big into getting into the waves.

But I thought I should try.

So I got ready for the first wave with Larrance next to me. It came and Larrance rode it all the way to the beach. Me? I got body slammed into the floor and then tumbled to the beach and when I stood up my top had been pulled down. Undaunted I tried again...only to get a free neti courtesy of the ocean, dragged to the beach and my top was pulled up again.

I kept trying, learned to hold onto my bikini top everytime the ocean grabbed me like a ragdoll and let the ocean water and the sand clean out my stuffed up nose. I know it sounds awful but it was really quite fun.

One neat thing: everytime a big wave came up, you could see all the little tiny guppies inside the wave - we were surrounded!!!

On Christmas Eve night Deanna, Rance, Larrance and I attended the Christmas sing-a-long on the ship. It was fun if a little odd. The pianst was Russian who now lives in Canada and he didn’t know or have music for the carols. He did his best but sometimes he ended up playing the wrong he was supposed to play “Hark, the Herald Angel Sing...” but he played “Gloria Deo” instead. We all made do and had fun. After that we had dinner in the Garden Cafe and then went to Andy’s room to exchange our Secret Santa presents.

Andy was my secret santa - he got me some very nice things. My favorite was a set of stickers - one set is the “Jen approves” and it shows me smiling - the other is the “Jen disapproves” and it shows me scowling. Great gift. Everyone got each other very thoughtful and fun gifts and it was a fun way to spend Christmas Eve.

Christmas day was spent in Antigua. Everything was closed....and I’m glad, they should all be home celebrating and hanging with their fams! We walked around a bit and then went back on the ship since I was having trouble with the cold. Frankly I didn’t do much for the rest of the nine day cruise except rest. It paid off in energy and full voice for the shows.

By the last sea day of the nine day, I was back to my old self. On Miami day we spent the afternoon with the lovely Edward Strambio! He’s on the NCL Dawn which is in port with us on Sundays. We met at the Holiday Inn and then went to the Walgreens to stock up, then to Starbucks to caffeniate up and then to the beach to bask in the sunlight. It was a great way to spend the afternoon in Miami.

The first full sea day of this five day was New Year’s Eve. We all got dressed up and went to dinner at Azura. The menu was fantastic - so delicious and special. Then we saw Band on the Run....the JARS do such a good job and we wanted to support them on New Year’s Eve.

After that, it was up to the pool deck for the countdown to midnight. We stood on the deck, tried on goofy hats, had free champagne and took photos. Around 20 minutes to midnight, the cooks came out with an ice sculpture that said “2007.” ??? Well it turns out that they had a plan.

At midnight they pushed the 7 into the pool and replaced it with an .....8!!!! Right after that the cruise director, Paul, jumped into the pool in his suit and swam a lap. It was pretty great. We all hugged and kissed and felt grateful. A pretty great New Year’s Eve.

On New Year’s Day, we were on Grand Cayman. Larrance, Rance, Deanna, Svetlana, Roman and I all went to Smith’s Cove. We went there last time we were on Cayman and had a great time. This time was just as great but better!

Roman & Svetlana brought bread with them and the fish just, swam to us. For Christmas, Rance’s mom sent him a waterproof set of fish flipcards. Rance takes photos so he gave the flipcards to me and I had a ball identifying all the fishies.

Later, Larrance and I swam over to another part of the cove and we saw a juvenile French Angelfish - it was beautiful. We also saw Squirrel fish, Doctorfish, Blue Tang, Cocoa Damsels, Tomates, French Grunts, Goatfish and some others that I didn’t have time to identify. Rance has some other cards so I’ll have to do some retro identifying.

We had our Stardust shows that night. They both went great. We’ve been struggling a bit with the improvised musical that ends our show. Just trying to find the right format and make sure it’s fun for all. I think we nailed it last night. They both rocked and we brought the house down.

Some of the JARS were at our show, I could see Jon Paul, Christopher, Phillipa & Ryan. There may have been others there but that’s who I could see. They were, as always, really supportive. After the show we went to Bar City, Deck 6 midship, and we had a drink with Christopher and Jon Paul. Then we went to the Blue Lagoon, Deck 8 midship, for some comfort food. We went to bed around 2am.

We both fell soundly asleep. Later that night I had a weird dream where I was trying to see a bulletin board but I couldn’t keep myself on the same level. I kept rising way up into the air and then dipping way down. Then the shuddering of the ship awoke me and I realized we were in the middle of a huge storm. 17 foot waves were rocking the ship and everything on the ship was rocking, creaking and shuddering. Larrance and I both were awake so we watched the storm from our porthole. But watching the storm made us both feel a little sick so we stopped. I tried to go back to sleep but the dipping and rocking of the ship kept waking me up. It was like my brain thought it needed to alert me to danger - I told my brain that it was wrong and finally fell back asleep.

This morning the ocean was still quite rough - 12 ft waves - and I guess we were lucky to make it into the port. Two other NCL ships (the Sun & Majesty) didn’t even come in - too rough. It took an hour to pull into the dock - they had to be so careful not to crash into the dock. So it was an hour of gunning the manuvering engines, move 2 inches, gun them again and move 2 more inches. They did a great job because the ship is fine. Freakin’ Disney Cruise Line waited until we were docked and then they slid into port using our ship as shelter. What a bunch of Micky Mouse jerks.

So instead of snoreking at the Coral Princess hotel, we’re sitting at the internet coffee place. We had a delicious pablano corn quesadilla and some coffee. And internet time...

Tonight we have our improv shows. We’re looking forward to them. Tomorrow is a sea day. We’re planning on exchanging photos and playing some games. Hope all is well with you!

J & L