This is a long post. You have been warned. ^_^ I will post some pictures later.
My friends and I decided in March that we needed to get as many of us together for a reunion. It was decided the best time would be the end of August when many people would be out of school, or would be just starting their next quarter. Not as many people showed as I would have liked. There were quite a few that were unable to make it, and those of us who did agreed that we missed their presence.
Monday, August 23rd was the first day. We converged on Miami by plane and car and met up on the cruise ship, Carnival's Imagination. I started my travels the night before. The first flight, there was a seat between me and the person next to me. That does not happen very often. The second flight was even better. I had an entire row to myself. That has not happened since 2004. Anyway, some of us got on the boat fairly early and were not allowed to go down to our rooms for about an hour. This was slightly annoying, but the ship was not underway, so we could not complain too much. Finally we were allowed to go down and explore.
My roommate and I had a room with a window looking out at sea. We could see what was outside our side of the ship. I think we were among the few of our group who had windows that actually looked out at something. Others had interior cabins that had windows built into their walls for some reason, but the only view those windows offered were walls. We could not figure that out. I did not track down all the friends' rooms, though. I decided it would be obnoxious to show up at random times and bang on their doors. I left that for my roommate.
Lunch was at the well stocked buffet on the tenth deck. The rest of the afternoon was spent exploring the ship and then figuring out which dining hall we would be eating dinner in.
Dinner was very nice. I had duck for the first time in several years. I know I could have duck more often if I went looking for it, but I do not for some reason. Anyway, I enjoyed a duck appetizer before having the pork chop main course. It was delicious. Dessert was a mouth watering molten chocolate cake with ice cream.
I do not remember what else I did that evening. I likely turned in early, because I did not sleep much the previous night while on the red-eye flights from Seattle to Dallas to Miami. I remember vaguely seeing the folding towel animal that housekeeping left on my bed. I moved it aside and did not think anything more of it until the following evening when another appeared in the same place. Then my roommate and I tried to remember what the first animal was and could not.
The second day saw us in Key West. If I go back there, I want to take a tour of the island. I considered it when I got off the ship last week, but the friend I was wandering around with decided to see what a couple other friends were up to and we made a spur of the moment decision to go on a 27 mile jet ski tour around the island.
The tour was awesome, and I only fell off the jet ski three times. The friend I was with was operating the jet ski the whole time and he fell in two of the three times, too. I had no experience operating one of those things and decided it was in my best interest to let him. He did pretty well, considering how choppy the water was on the Atlantic side of the island. The third time I fell off, I was trying to get back on the jet ski after the second time. I was standing up to get back on the seat when we got hit by a rather large wave that threw me off balance and off the jet ski. I hit my knee on the jet ski on the way overboard. That hurt something fierce. My friend, and later several other friends, was concerned that I had injured it, but I assured him it was only bruised. Walking up and down stairs for the next two days was rather painful, though.
Since it was a spur of the moment thing, I did not have a change of clothes. I will remedy that if I go on anymore cruises. A change of clothes and sunscreen will be mandatory items.
My jet ski partner and I spend the rest of the time wandering around the town. We stopped off at a key lime shop and bought a slice of key lime pie to share. I normally do not eat key lime pie because of how tart it can be. I am not a big fan of sour things. I humored my friend, though, considering our location, and it was quite good.
Dinner that night was in formal attire. I hate dresses, so I opted for nice slacks and a nice shirt. It was not as formal my roommate's dress or some of the others' attire, but I do not attend formal occasions very often, so formal attire does not play a big role in my wardrobe. It was another great night, though I do not remember what I had.
The animal for this evening was a rabbit. My roommate got a picture with it and then its head rolled off. That prompted another picture with her mock horror expression. It was a good moment.
Wednesday saw us land in Cozumel, Mexico. We decided as a group to rent scooters for the day. Definitely not the safest activity by any means, but we could navigate the island quickly. I had the same partner as the day before. We did end up falling off the scooter at one point. We were attempting to get back onto the road from some gravel and the scooter was not cooperating and tipped over. I landed on my partner and was not hurt. He got a road rash on his ankle, but was otherwise unharmed. It was a relief to our friends. Another friend ran into a post trying to get the kickstand on her scooter to cooperate. These were early on in our day, though. No other incidents occurred.
I did not realize right away that my smaller digital camera was a casualty of the scooter mishap. I did not check it, because I did not think I had landed on that side. I was wrong. My partner was quite apologetic and offered to replace the camera. I told him not to worry about it. He was not screwing around when we tipped over, and neither of us were seriously hurt. That was all that mattered to me. Plus, I have been thinking about replacing this one for a few weeks, but had not made any real decisions on it. This will force my hand. Besides, it still works. Only the screen is broken. I got a really good picture out of it after that, so I was not all that upset. And, it was not the other digital camera I have. My Nikon was safely on board the ship, still. I might have been a bit upset if that had broken. Of course, that camera would not fit in my pocket, so it is I doubt it would have been any place where it could have broken during that.
We stopped off at several beaches to explore, swim, and snorkel. I waded in the water, but did not swim or snorkel. I somehow had forgotten to bring my swimsuit on the cruise. It was an annoying realization halfway to Miami, but not the end of the world. It was still quite relaxing and enjoyable to wade in the water and sit on the beach and watch the water. I had company, too. Another friend opted not to go into the water. I did not ask his reason. I was enjoying the relaxed atmosphere too much.
I would enjoy a trip to Cozumel for a couple days. Not somewhere I would want to live, because the feeling of paradise would wear off, but definitely a vacation spot for future reference.
We returned our scooters and waited for the other half of our group to reappear. We had split into two groups early on somehow. That was okay, though. I am not sure I would have tolerated a large group of us on scooters. We had enough excitement with just trying to keep track of the group we were in. My roommate had a scooter to herself and nearly got hit by a taxi at one point, because she was not paying attention to anything going on around her. I commented to my partner that it was a good thing others were paying attention to what was going on, because she certainly would have been hit some time before that if they had not been.
Finally they reappeared and we started the slow journey back to our ship. We wandered the tourist shops and bartered with the shop keepers. Like the day before in Key West, I bought a coffee cup and a shot glass for my parents and a key chain for myself. My partner got a deal on beer and we did some of our wandering with beers in hand. Again, I am not a big fan of beer, but the event dictated that I humor the occasion. There was another round of smuggling booze on board, too. Good times.
We ate dinner and spent time on the upper deck before I decided to go back to the room and nurse what promised to be a rather ugly sunburn on my shoulders. It was starting to hurt a little, but I would not realize for a couple days how bad it really was. That was when it decided to start blistering.
Thursday was a day at sea. I spent much of it on one of the top decks enjoying the sun and lounging with friends. We ate dinner, amused ourselves at the expense of those who attempted karaoke, listened to a comedian that many of the group found offensive, and drank on the upper deck as it the hour of us departing and returning to reality came closer. I think I was one of four who remained somewhat sober. That was more than I could say for my roommate. She got plastered. Plastered enough to decide it was a good idea to go up the water slide. In the dark. Luckily, she and the guy who went with her did not get hurt. She also absconded with a lifesaver from the lower deck. It was confiscated by another friend and returned to its original placement. Thankfully, no crew members had to come and yell at us. I stayed and watched over my friends until I thought they were not quite as drunk, and then went to bed. Most followed my example shortly thereafter.
My roommate was assisted to our room by another friend. They picked up a follower from somewhere. Our friend, who was staying down the hall, said the next morning that he tried knocking on our door after she dropped off my roommate, but she scared him away. I assured her that we had not heard him knock and I would not have allowed a stranger in our room at that late hour. He would have gotten security called on him if he had persisted. There was no way I was going to tolerate some idiot trying to take advantage of my roommate. That was probably the only creepy thing that happened on the cruise. That I know of anyway.
Friday was an exhausting trip off the ship, through customs (where I encountered a rather obnoxious employee), onto the airport shuttle, halfway across the Miami airport, through airport security (where only one guy was checking boarding passes and IDs), to the gate and onto the plane, halfway across the concourse in Houston to my connecting flight (which was already half boarded by the time I reached that gate), and safely in Seattle.
I may have to fly Continental more often. They still serve food on their flights at no additional cost. I was quite surprised.
I do not know which airport did it, but someone decided it would be a good idea to throw my bag around. Both coffee cups I bought were in my checked luggage. Both were broken when I unpacked that bag. I did not have a big enough bag to carry them onto the plane with me. I was not happy. Luckily, my dad was able to glue them back together fairly well. One cannot be used for drinking, but at least they can still be used as a decoration or something.
Overall, the trip was a blast, and it is definitely something we need to do again. I hope the next reunion is much sooner than this first one. We had a great time. I also hope more people will be able to come next time.