Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Summer Cruisin' in the Caribbean

Our family took a 7-day Carnival cruise to the Caribbean for vacation this summer.  We had a blast.  The cruise left from Miami, FL so we arrived on Friday, and spent the night in South Beach before sailing on Saturday.  Friday night in South Beach is quite the spectical.  We ate Cuban food at "Larios", which is singer Gloria Estevan's restaurant.  The kids enjoyed trying Ceviche and Plantains.   As the clubs came to life, the people-watching got more and more interesting.  We all enjoyed the show.   Click on any photo to see it larger, or check out the link at the bottom of this entry for a more complete album of our trip.
We were aboard the Carnival Liberty, which is a relatively new ship.  This was the third cruise the kids have been on, and it was the longest, but the time went by quickly. 
The first port we visited was Cozumel, Mexico.  We took a ferry boat over to the mainland of Playa del Carmen, and took a guided tour of the ruins of Tulum.  It was raining, but fascinating.  Then we went to snorkle in a cave called Dos Ojos Cenote.  There were stallagtites and stallagmites, and we had to have flashlights because part of the snorkeling was in a bat cave and it was very dark.
Next we stopped at Grand Cayman and took our newly certified scuba divers (Megan, Ryan and Cameron) for their first "real" dive.  They certified in Lake Pleasant, which was 60 degrees, wearing 7mm wetsuits, and having 5 ft. visibility.  Grand Cayman was 80 degrees in the water, wearing only swim suits, and having 250 feet visibility.  It was beautiful.  We dove with "Living the Dream Divers."  They were FABULOUS, and we highly recommend them, especially if you're taking kids.   As soon as the kids started to descend, there was a sea turtle cruising by.  They saw all kinds of interesting sea life, and the dive masters said they were great little divers.  The exact quote was "they must have had really good dive instructors."  We agree.  They learned at Academy of Scuba, in North Phoenix.  If you are looking for a great place to get certified, we recommend these guys!   It was so much fun to dive as a family.  It's something to which Mike and I have been looking forward for 20 years. 
Our third stop on the cruise was Jamaica; Ocho Rios.  Mike and Trish really enjoy visiting Jamaica, and have been there almost every year for the past 10 years.  The people are wonderful, and the place is beautiful.  We enjoyed giving the kids a taste of this fun place, by climbing Dunns River Falls, a huge waterfall that is a must-do when visiting Ocho.  We then went tubing in the White River.  Both, refreshing, fun activities.  This might have been the kids' favorite day.
We took our camera along to dinner each night in the dining room, so if you go by the photos, it appears that all we did on that ship was EAT!  We even tried some things we never would in Arizona such as deep fried alligator and shark.  We did take a pass on the frog legs.  And, although we did our share of dining... there were some great shows, and comedians, and the teenagers (and almost teen) loved the teen club activities and made lots of friends. 

When we returned to Miami, we had a few hours to spend until we caught our plane, so we went to see some of the sights where they film the USA series "Burn Notice."  We saw Michael's loft, and his Mom's house.
If you want to see more photos of the trip, here is a link to a web album.