Carrie's Adventures

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Sting Ray City ~ Grand Cayman

The one excursion I have wanted to take in was swimming with the Sting Rays. I'm not sure why it is that I am fascinated with them, but they just seem so majestic ~ that is until they are swimming around your feet!

The tour started by taking a tender to the pier, a bus to a parking lot where we boarded a boat and then took a 45 minute ride. It seemed for a while that the only thing we were going to do on this 3hr tour was try to get there!

After the 40 minutes on the boat, we found ourselves out in the middle of the sea being told that we are going to stand on sand dunes that are 4 feet deep. Skeptical ~ yes I was, but as you can see, we truly were in the middle of no where with folks standing around.

They told us we needed to wear our inflatable life preservers ~ mine was strapped around my leg! Quite fashionable no?

Climbing into the water with these guys was a bit freakier than I thought. Prior to getting into the water, we received an anatomy lesson about the sting rays and learned that the majority of the ones here are females, and that they will not sting as they have been fed here for over 20 years. Why bite the hand that feeds ~ or at least that is their philosophy. We were instructed to take off our shoes, as this can damage the skin on the sting rays causing sores and infections if we accidentally stepped on them. We were also told that if we did step on on, that hey, it will be ok, they will wait for us to move our foot or squirm out from under us.

I don't really like things in my water while I'm swimming ~ seaweed freaks me out, so I'm not sure what made me thing that swimming with these creatures would be a good idea. I spent the first 15 minutes of the 40 minutes we were there, floating on the surface each time one came nearby trying to avoid touching them. The squishy slimy coating I heard they had didn't make me want to rush over and pet them any time soon.

I did however manage to snuggle up to one ~ although it was slimy and my arms were rigid like boards, I did hold one, and they even got me to kiss it. The other part that I didn't minds as much was the 'massage' where they rub them on your back ~ as you can see below...

Antoan took to it much better than I did and loved holding the 'little guys'. Unfortunately the only photos of me with them were on the $55 DVD ~ maybe I'll be able to negotiate with them for just the photos! We'll see.

Overall ~ a pretty cool day!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Family Vacation....

The family arrived on the 29th and after 2 days at Sea, hunting down the lounge chairs, we had 5 days in port.

St. Maarten:
The first port was St. Maarten and is one of my favourites due to the beach's close proximity to the ship. The island being part Dutch and part French, we were going to go to the French side only I discovered a bit too late that the trek to the other side takes about an hour! After getting the SPF45 on the body, we enjoyed the sun and the salty water...

St. Lucia:
This was stop number two. We again spent the afternoon on the beach, playing frisbee. Dad got the short end of the stick being in the deep end.

Tour of Barbados:
We took one excursion during the cruise and that was to tour the island of Barbados. I must say, for all the times I have been here, I haven't seen much of the island. It was interesting to learn that no matter where you are on the island you are no more than 20 minutes from the water ~ be it Atlantic or Carribean. The Atlantic side boasts some of the best surfing and it isn't hard to see why when we got up to some of those rollers.

There is some money on the island ~ looking at this area, all spots have a 'drive way' for your boat... Not bad eh?

The landscape...

Some Atlantic rollers

These portable homes were the original mobile home. Owned by people on the island, if there was a falling out with the owners of plantations, they would pack up the house, and move in a day. I can't even do that with an apartment!

St. Kitts
Another small island that was shaped like a Turkey leg ~ we headed to Turtle Beach. Along the way we had a great taxi driver who gave us the low down on the island. The island itself has 20,000 people ~ 8 times the size of my home town ~ a whole country! Their main industry is tourism as they are moving away from sugar production. The beaches and views were spectacular ~ Will need to get the pictures from Dad and Krista.

St. Thomas:
The final port was also the port where Krista made her way back home. Before going, we spent the final couple hours catching the rays. Ahhh, nothing like the sun and surf!

Last Formal night:
We were treated to Lobster, Prime Rib and Baked Alaska. The waiters paraded through with all the baked alaskas lighting up the place... It was a treat to be dining in the Dining Room every night, some how the food tastes better in there. Only draw back was that dinner was 1.5hrs every night. Definitely something I was not used to ~ but kinda nice not working quite as much that cruise.

Monday, January 15, 2007

New things for the New Year

Some really great things, and a few 'ugh' must do things look to be on the horizon for this year.

My first 'ugh' is the extension of my contract. Today marks the official end of this contract and I tell you I feel like I am ready to go. However due to other circumstances, I will be staying for a few more weeks. The hard part now is watching those who arrived after me leave for vacation. Official 'Carrie gets off the ship date' is now Feb 22nd. Just in time to catch some good snow in Vancouver and catch up with those teachers who have some time off in March.

The second 'ugh' comes from the realization that Akis and I only spent 42 days together last year... Not so great ~ so this makes the good news that much better.

My final 'ugh' comes with knowing that I will be having another audit in 4 days. While there most things are all lined up and ready to go, there's something about knowing you are under the scrutiny of others that puts you on edge. Well, the contract started with an audit 3 weeks after arriving, why not end with one 3 weeks before leaving?

The great things mainly revolve around Akis and I. First piece of good news is that I will be going back to Infinity for my next contract ~ with Akis. So after about 18 months of being apart, we are going to finally get contracts on the same ship!

Second piece of exciting news is that Akis and I have decided to go jewellery shopping. Yes, that is right, after I opened my mouth and said that I want some input into what the ring looks like, the purchase of 'the ring' is now in progress. I will be going to visit Akis on Infinity as it travels around South America. So I don't know if I will get it then, or when I come back in May, I guess some things need to be a surprise.

The third 'announcement' is that Akis and I are looking to locate in Canada. After much discussion about life in Greece, salaries and where we are looking to take our lives, we have decided to settle in Canada for the next few years. This doesn't mean that I won't ever have a Greek address as I agree that to leave home and never go back is something that you can't ask a person to commit to ~ but in the short term, it looks like we will be purchasing a winter jacket for Akis, cause it is rather cold for the Greek. The decision on Toronto over Vancouver is still an ongoing debate and probably won't be something we resolve before I get to see him in March, but at least there is a plan. Which I must say is quite remarkable given our 'take it as it goes' approach to things!

With the Infinity travelling up through Alaska, I also suspect that Dad will be quick to see when he can come and visit again. I know he has been keen to do this run, so I suspect his cruise count will be increasing again this year!

I know I didn't send out the 'seasonal' greetings ~ and to be honest, the moment came, passed and I figured you would all forgive me, I look forward to catching up with those that are around when I get off in Feb. May the New Year bring you many good things as well!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

New Years Eve

Well it seems like last year's cruise was such a hit with the family, they decided to do it again this year! So I was one of the lucky ones to have family onboard around the holidays. Dad, Jane and Krista made their way to Fort Lauderdale on the 29th in time to spends 7 or 10 days onboard, including New Years.

Dad and Jane had their own cabin, while Krista stayed with me in my cabin and got a taste of what the 'non passenger' areas look like. Not quite so posh!

For the New Year, we had a pretty full evening. We went for dinner in the Dining Room where we received our 'head gear' for the celebrations. We also received the noise makers which folks were quite keen on testing out to make sure that they worked for the new year!

After dinner we headed out to the Theatre to take in the show. The show was a tribute to Broadway, and while I haven't seen that many musicals ~ I did manage to know a few of the tunes that were belted out on stage.

The beauty of formal nights, is that while you are all dressed up in your Sunday Best, you can go and get photos taken ~ we managed to get some nice ones done, but we did have to wait for a bit as the photogs were in high demand that night! So we took the opportunity to catch up on the what was happening outside of our little world while we waited...

With New Years Eve happening, there were many different events going on through out the ship ~ just about every bar had something going on. We all started at the Bar at the Edge of the Earth ~ where Dad and Jane twirled about on the dance floor.

They then went to check out the other venues while Krista and I battled the wind on the open deck and caught some fresh air. This was where the biggest celebration was with the band playing and the count down to the New Year. I think this was the first time in almost 15 years I have spent New Years with the whole family ~ pretty special.

Father Time:

This is also where much of the staff congregated to bring in the New Year as well. The captain brought us along side St. Thomas so we could have a view of the fireworks on land. All in all pretty spectacular.

The staff had their own little celebration downstairs at the Crew Bar.

The things you do on Christmas when there is NO snow!!

A group of us gathered on Christmas day to head out to the Rainforest of Costa Rica. The activity of the day was going to be zip-lining. Some of us were newbies, others were veteran zip-liners ~ but the jist of the story was we all got to sport nice looking harnesses that accentuated all the 'right' bits, flashy helmets and some great gloves.

We were given instructions ~ lean back, keep your legs crossed and if you don't make it, you get to pull yourself along to the next platform. There were 12 platforms in total. The first one off the platform was Michael ~ a Newbie who was concerned about the safety of the system. The constant peppering of questions included ones such as 'Has this been government certified?', 'Has anyone died?', and 'Is this safe?'. This soon gave way to another type of question 'Where can I get a beer' which makes me think he was taking to this!


Kate and what happens when you don't quite make it to the next platform...

The view from the platforms was quite spectacular ~ the green of the trees. To be honest, the viewing came from the platforms as you didn't really look around too much while zipping along...

Monday, January 08, 2007

The reason for the Season

I have found that my sense of time/day/season has been distorted since getting on ships. It was hard to believe that it was December and the holidays were around the corner while I was slapping on SPF45 and trying to get 'bathing suit' ready.

While there were no blustery days, carols being played in the mall and rushing from store to store trying to find all the 'right' gifts, we did get together to raise money for the Children in Panama. After raising the money, decorating the cookies, buying the gifts and wrapping ~ it came time on the 24th to visit the Orphanage and deliver the gifts.

You sometimes get lost in the whole commercialism of the holidays and forget what the season is all about...

Some members of the Team:


The Children: