Western Caribbean: Cruising Around

In 2005, my family and I went on a Caribbean cruise with our family friends. Five years later, in 2010, I went on the same cruise with Jess (who was with me on the first trip) and Stina. Although we went to the same ports, the second time around felt very different. This was for multiple reasons. One, my memories of the first trip are pretty hazy now aside from the bigger experiences. Two, my parents weren’t around to take care of me. Three, building on top of the second reason, it was nine days away with two of my closest friends. It does seem a little silly and redundant that Jess and I went on the same cruise for the second time; we did consider going to Eastern or South Caribbean instead. But as those trips were shorter and Western Caribbean is still reputed to be the best, we figured that it’d still be an amazing and unique experience with just the three of us girls.

General Information:
Royal Caribbean International.
7-Night Western Caribbean Cruise.
Freedom of the Seas.
Port Canaveral, Florida/ Labadee, Haiti/ Ocho Rios, Jamaica/ George Town, Grand Cayman, The Cayman Islands/ Cozumel, Mexico
May 30 – June 6, 2010

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Freedom of the Seas (first port: Labadee, Haiti)

Day 0 – Orlando, Florida

Due to the timing of the flights and boarding time of the cruise, we arrived in Florida a day earlier to ensure that we actually make it onto the cruise in time. We were cruising from the Orlando airport to The Florida Hotel and Conference Centre when we expressed the wish to go to Disney World. Little did we know that two of us would make our way there in a year. Our 1-night stay at The Florida Hotel was nice and relaxing. I loved how it was connected to this cafeteria and mall where we spent some time at M&M’s World. The wall of M&Ms was so colourful. The girls couldn’t resist purchasing a little bag of colour for themselves. I believe that it was in the elevator here that we were mistaken to be Japanese; people seem to think that all Asians are Japanese. Well, konnichiwa to you too.

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M&M’s World

Day 1 – Port Canaveral, Florida

The first day was a day of lots of waiting and exploring. There was waiting for the bus to arrive at the hotel to bring us to the port. There was waiting to actually board the ship. But eventually, we were on the Freedom of the Seas and exploring/re-exploring the ship. We heard a story from one of the crew about one of their past customers.

Customer: (angrily) I want a new room. I paid for a stateroom with an oceanview.
Crew: I’m sorry, ma’am. What’s your room number?
Customer: [gives her room number]
Crew: Okay. (looks it up) Ma’am, that is an oceanview stateroom.
Customer: But I don’t see the ocean out of my window. I just see buildings.
Crew: Ma’am… we haven’t left the port yet.

I don’t know about you but I thought this was hilarious. Anyways, first day consisted of just walking about the ship, relaxing in our stateroom, starting to book our activities for the trip, and our first dinner at Leonardo’s. For those of you considering going on a cruise, Royal Caribbean food is amazing. Reputed to be the best in the business.

Day 2 – Cruising

First day on the ship, there was more walking around. And then just sunbathing on the upper deck of the ship. We were excited for dinner as it was the first of two formal dinners. We also made sure to get those professional photographs, which are now framed or in my scrapbook. Not that we didn’t take lots of photos ourselves. Starting with this night, we made sure to watch all the night shows. I love their theatre and the live performances were amazing.

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Day 3 – Labadee, Haiti

Our first port. Royal Caribbean has its own private island that’s part of the Haiti islands. We spent our first part of the day relaxing, tanning, and enjoying the sun.

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Laughing as I’m attempting to take a jump-shot. I ended up liking this candid photo more than the jump shots.
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Waiting for our tour to begin. I really like this straw umbrellas.

The second part of the day, we had signed up for this speedboat tour and snorkeling. Our tour guide/speedboat driver was from Canada as well, so that was really cool. A little bit of home in the Caribbean waters. The tour was pretty cool as we saw different parts of the Haitian waters and the people who live on some of these islands. Snorkeling was one of the best parts of the day.

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Haitians in their fishing boats.
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Underwater view of Jess snorkeling. You can see the coral and reef too.
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Jess (on the right) and I. Snorkeling, success. Kind of. I’m not sure why she’s plugging her nose if she has her gear on.

Day 4 – Ocho Rios, Jamaica

This was one part of the trip that I was really looking forward to when we decided to return to Western Caribbean. I really loved Dunns River Falls the first time. I mean, how many people can say that they’ve climbed some kind of waterfall before? And honestly, it didn’t let me down this time. It was hilarious this time especially since our tour guide taught us Jamaica sayings that we had to use. There was a lot of “Yah mon” and “No problem, mon.” We have a video to prove it. Definitely one of the best days on the trip.

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Dunns River Falls

Day 5 – George Town, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands

After an amazing day in Jamaica, what happened on this day was very disappointing. We had signed up for a cruise and food kind of activity. We waited ages just to be picked up and arrive at the place in charge of it only to find out that something was wrong with the ship or crew. We basically just ended up on the beach for a few hours before they would even drive us back to the port. Food included a cup of beverage. Needless to say, we complained and got a partial refund. The only thing that made up for it was the second formal dinner that night and the shows afterwards. Grand Cayman, you made a better impression in 2005. We should have gone to see and swim with the stringrays again.

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Day 6 – Cozumel, Mexico

Our last port – and we needed a good day, especially after the letdown from Grand Cayman. we went to Playa Mia Grand Deluxe Beach Park. It was fun today. For most of the day, we went kayaking or paddleboating.

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Kayak, sun, and sea.

We also signed up for banana boating. That was one of the best experiences of the trip, especially when we fell off. Jess and Stina love blaming me for it, but personally, I think that we had such a strong memory from it because we fell off — all thanks to me. All I remember was that we were riding along and we made sure to ask the driver to go fast. But it was still kind of tame. At that point, I think Jess told me to let my feet fly off that way when we bounce on the waves, your body flies up more and it’s more exciting. So, after a minute of that excitement, my body accidentally leant too far off the side of the banana boat. I remember thinking how everything was happening in slow motion. I’m slowly tipping to the side, while still trying to regain my balance. The next thing I knew, we were all overboard. Just thinking about it makes me laugh. I mean, lots of people go banana boating. But to fall off of it? It’s not something every one gets to experience. So, you’re welcome, Jess and Stina.

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Banana boat – prior to our little mis-adventure

Day 7 – Cruising and &
Day 8 – Port Canaveral, Florida

Although we do spend a lot of time on the cruise ship too, this was the day to do some of the things we’ve been meaning to do. That included going skating. That’s right. We were skating on a cruise in the middle of the ocean. Yes, I realize it’s a weird thing to brag about and I’m not sure what I get out of it but there you have it. The day was really chill. We met up with our usual tablemates for dinner. We made sure to catch the last show on the ship. All in all, a great way to end the trip.

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Skating rink
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Waiting for our last dinner aboard the Freedom.
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Asia and Teddy
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Our tablemates – a newlywed couple from the USA
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Goodbye Freedom of the Seas

Goodbye Caribbeans. Next time, I want to visit different islands. Perhaps a trip to Southern or Eastern Caribbean.

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3 comments

  1. Man I was reading about the trip and some of the stuff I didn’t even remember haha. Now I have something to refer to to remember it better.

    I wanna go on another trip =(

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