A few days before I headed to Miami to board the Carnival Liberty for some Fun Ship 2.0 research, I had a checkup with my oncologist. For those that don’t know the backstory, I won’t go into too much detail, but a few years ago I was diagnosed with a brain tumor. At that time, I was advised to take a watch and wait approach, as this type of tumor is not receptive to chemo or radiation. I normally have low to normal blood pressure, but right before the Fun Ship 2.0 cruise, my blood pressure was 147/85. Not good.
Stress plays an important role in overall health and I’m not sure if I was stressed because I found out my watch and wait time is at an end, or if it’s the holiday season. Whatever the reason, once I boarded my US Airways flight, I left all my stress at the Baton Rouge Metro Airport. I had no kids for this cruise, no husband, not even a girlfriend or relative for a roommate. I could do whatever the heck I wanted for the next seven days.
The embarkation process was a breeze, and instead of heading to my stateroom, I went directly to RedFrog Rum Bar for a ThirstyFrog Red, Carnival’s private label draught beer that debuted on the Carnival Magic.
I was ready to watch the SEC Championship game and went in search of the new EA Sports Bar with fingers crossed that I’d be able to watch my beloved LSU Tigers kick some Georgia butt.
On my first sea day, I attended a Fun Ship 2.0 media briefing led by Lania Rittenhouse, VP of Product Development for Carnival Cruise Lines. It was a great overview of all the current and future Fun Ship 2.0 enhancements, along with news of other plans in the works for the cruise line. It got me excited about the Carnival Breeze, which has an inaugural sailing scheduled for June 3, 2012 and will include even more entertainment options, for families and adults.
Once my official duties were met, I decided to dive into my research full on with a taste of Guy’s Burger Joint, a new FREE addition to the dining options on the Carnival Liberty. Granted, the burger itself isn’t the healthiest of food options, but it sure did taste delicious and put a big smile on my face. If I didn’t have a crush on Guy Fieri already, these burgers sealed the deal.
This was my third cruise ship visit to Cozumel but only my first to take a shore excursion through the cruise line. I stepped off the ship a bit early and sat near a deserted Fat Tuesday’s. People were still stepping off the ship, a bit quiet and subdued in the early morning. I listened to the water lap against the rocks, with a bird chirping in a tree nearby, while I people watched. Here’s a video of that moment:
I checked my watch to see that it was almost time to meet for Isla Pasion by Twister. What a fun ride that was! Once we made it to Passion Island, the relaxation was on. A few of us from the media group all met up in a shady area under some palm trees and laid in the beach chairs. The island wasn’t too crowded and I even managed to take a walk on a quiet area of the beach.
After a truly relaxing day at the beach, I made my first visit to Alchemy Bar to research the cocktails at this sophisticated venue on the Promenade deck. I started the evening with a French Kiss.
While relaxing in Cozumel, Nancy Schretter and Doug Parker talked me into taking the Cave Tubing: A FUN Adventure excursion. I gave in to the peer pressure and ended up having such a fun day filled with a little bit of adventure and lots of laughs. We ended our tour just before the bus was ready to depart back to the ship, but I had to grab some chicken nachos and a cold Belikin beer for the ride back.
Once inside the port area of Belize City, Doug and I met Phil Reimer of Ports and Bows at the Wet Lizard, a bar a grill owned by a lady from Atlanta, Georgia. We sipped on 2/$5 Belikins and snacked on conch fritters.
The evening continued with laughs after dinner at The Punchliner Comedy Club, followed by more research at Alchemy Bar. This time I tried The Youthful and Bold Berritini. Yum!
Mahogany Bay, Roatan Island, Honduras
I spent my morning at Sante Wellness Spa and Retreat, located a 15 minute cab ride from the cruise ship terminal. Sante is a private retreat area with limited capacity per day. It was amazing. I felt peaceful. After a massage, I sat in an Adirondak chair watching baby sharks play in the surf. Here’s a video of my quiet waterside moment:
I later moved to a hammock until my lunch was ready. Lunch onsite is an additional $15, and I enjoyed fresh grilled fish, rice, and a salad.
When I returned to Mahogany Bay, I decided to check out the beach. This is a private beach area for cruise ship passengers. I took The Flying Magical Chair to the beach, which is the only ski lift on a beach. The cost for the day is $15 per person, which gives you unlimited rides. After checking out the beach area, I walked back to the shopping area near the ship to make a cigar purchase for my husband. I bought him a cigar for each day I was away since he was holding the fort down while I cruised around the Caribbean.
This was an early departure day, so once I headed back to the Carnival Liberty, I grabbed my laptop and headed to RedFrog Rum Bar to catch up on some writing and enjoy a beer while I worked. Winston and the rest of the RedFrog crew were always smiling as they served passengers. An added benefit of sitting at either RedFrog Rum Bar or Blue Iguana Tequila Bar is the music, be it from the DJ poolside or the live acoustic music barside.
I woke up early and headed to Blue Iguana Cantina, which serves cook to order omelettes and breakfast burritos beginning at 7am. The Cantina offers homemade tortillas for burritos and tacos until 2:30 pm. This is yet another FREE dining option on a Carnival Fun Ship 2.0 cruise.
This was a later port day, and when there are port days, there are onboard spa specials. I called the spa and was able to get an immediate appointment for the daily special. For $99 I had a full body exfoliation, back, neck and shoulder massage, foot and ankle massage, spa hydra facial, and exotic frangipani scalp massage. Can I just say that my day started out amazing?
Lunch was to be a group affair, with many of the media heading to Hammerhead’s, a restaurant suggested by Phil Reimer of Ports and Bows. The house specialty is fish and chips, which I enjoyed along with a Caybrew, the local beer.
Nancy and Doug talked me into an adventure to Hell. For $15 round trip, super-nice taxi driver Beverly took us for a quick beach stop, a visit to Hell, and then dropped us off at Paradise, where we sat watching all the cruise ships in port.
The Last Sea Day
This was a lazy day, filled with packing and chilling out. I spent most of my day poolside, editing photos and working on a few writing projects. After a lunch of ANOTHER burger from Guy’s Burger Joint, I met up with our #FunShip2dot0 media crew to research the 101 oz beer tube for a photo shoot.
Our group ended the cruise with a meeting of Friends of Ernest H. It was a good group of people that I met on the cruise and I hope to see them all again on a future trip.
I woke up early as the Carnival Liberty came into the port of Miami, with the moon still in the dark sky. We passed a few other cruise ships in port before the disembarkation process began. After my flight back into Baton Rouge, I was still in relaxed mode, something rare for me, even with all the travel experiences I’ve had.
The Monday following my cruise, I had an appointment with my neurologist. My blood pressure? 102/60. And I didn’t have one headache the entire trip.
Special thanks to Carnival Cruise Lines for hosting the Fun Ship 2.0 Familiarization cruise. The next Fun Ship 2.0 ship will be the Carnival Breeze, set to go in service June 2012. Following the Breeze, the Carnival Conquest will go into dry dock in October 2012 for the Fun Ship 2.0 enhancements. The Carnival Conquest has a new home port of New Orleans.