Cruise to Cuba

Cruise to Cuba

Sunday, October 14, 2018

We had a lazy morning of it, taking our time to finish packing up, eating the remains of other breakfasts, and finally, packing up the truck, we made our way to Miami.

In Miami we dropped the truck off at the Port Car Parking facility and were transported to the last ship at the port, the Norwegian Sun. Embarkation went smoothly; it is a much smaller ship than we have traveled on before so there are fewer people.

Having purchased Subway sandwiches prior to leaving Key Largo, we enjoyed them on the dining deck for lunch.

Eventually room preparations were completed and we went to our room, #8070, a balcony room. It was roomy enough for the two of us, and we settled in nicely.

The ship set sail right on time at 4:00 PM and we were off on our little adventure.

Once our luggage arrived in our room we set up housekeeping and relaxed before having dinner at the buffet on level 11.

We both slept well that first night at sea.

Monday, October 15, 2018

This morning the ship anchored at NCL’s private island, Great Stirrup Cay. We took a tender to the island and sat on one of the hundred loungers before enjoying the Caribbean Sea – which was a little cool at first. After drying off we went back to the ship to enjoy some quiet time; we took advantage of the almost empty ship and had one of the pools and a hot tub all to ourselves.

Onboard ship we played a group game called Majority Rules, and we won!

Dinner was a dress-up affair.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

The ship pulled into port at Havana and we passed the Castillo De Los Tres Reyes Del Morro – the old fort – and docked in the early morning and soon we were all disembarking to a new country; Cuba! Alan and I had purchased a 3-hour bus tour and got a good look around old and “new” Havana.

Along the tour we stopped at the Necropolis de Colon; the city’s cemetery. It was a fascinating place with tombs and grave sites for as far as we could see. The more ornate tombs held the more wealthy, while the simpler vaults, some resembling a sarcophagus, belonged to those with less wealth. Poorer folks were buried in even simpler vaults. Our guide told us that there were the same number of dead buried there as there were living people in Havana; 1.3 million! There was no more room to expand the cemetery either and, because of religious beliefs, cremations are rare – so how do they make room for more burials? Well, the wealthy get to stay in their tombs and mausoleums, while the less wealthy are given two years, about the time it takes for the bodies to go to bone, and then the bones are removed, and if the families want them, they can have them, and at that point cremations do happen. The statues at the Necropolis were very beautiful and detailed; wonderful works of art. It was just hard to believe that there were so many people buried in one cemetery.

Near the center of the Necropolis was a simple church with a beautiful stained glass fixture.

We stopped at Revolution Square and saw the Jose Marti Memorial. There were also a bunch of old cars out being shown off by their owners.

We passed many unique sites on the bus, one of them was the Capital Building. Our guide told us that this building was designed to be larger than the U.S. Capital building – by one foot. Nice boasting rights.

Toward the end of the trip, the bus stopped at the old fort, which was set up with cigar and rum shops, along with a few local souvenir vendors outside. We purchased rum for some friends, cigars for another friend, and a piece of art for ourselves.

Loaded down with purchases, we headed to the ship to drop them off. The booze had to stay with the purser’s department – we’ll get that back the day before the ship docks back in Miami. When we got back to the room Alan couldn’t find his wallet. Now, to be honest, this is something I would normally be guilty of, but now it was him, Mr. Responsible, and he began to panic, in an Alan sort of way – hard to notice unless you know him as well as I do. We backtracked out loud and decided to simply walk backwards toward shore. The last time he used it was in purchasing postcards. We got into an elevator and chatted with a couple on their way down and lo-and-behold, they had SEEN his wallet, describing it exactly, on their way onto the ship. Since I had another matter to handle, Alan went on down and we met back at the room. He had his wallet, and everything was still in it. Yay. First big hiccup on this trip. Not bad.

Once again we got ourselves together and went to do a little sightseeing of our own, some souvenir shopping. In our little walking tour, we found that the further from the ships’ port we got, the less upscale the area looked. It was an interesting juxtaposition of the old and new(ish) areas.

At one point we stopped for a nice rest at a tiny little park. The trees draped over the entire thing, there was a fountain, and a pretty mural. A pleasant stop.

For dinner we settled on a little hidden upstairs gem called “Azucar!!!” where we ordered tapas and drinks; I had a Mojito and Alan had a Mango Daiquiri. We ate out on the balcony and had another couple from the ship take our picture. It rained, and thundered violently, while we ate, but we didn’t get very wet – the awning was enough to protect us. What a lovely way to spend an evening in Havana.

After dinner I shopped for one more gift for a friend, then we headed back to the ship for the night.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Today was a day at sea, so we made the best of it. I worked out in the gym, walked a mile, and swam. Afterward I went up for a quick breakfast, then met Alan back in the room where I took a shower.

At noon I attended a “Hair Care” seminar – which was interesting enough, and I committed to an appointment with the head of the salon, Brian. At 2:30PM I arrived for my appointment and we talked about my hair. He said I took good care of it, but yes, he could see that it needed a little “shaping”. I knew it did since I’m the one who always cuts it – and not always that well. He spent an hour with me, washing, conditioning, then adding a leave-on moisturizer, then blowing out. My hair hasn’t looked this good in years. I am very, very happy with it, and it feels good too.

When we returned to our room, after a trivia challenge, we had a note on our door – the zipline adventure we had signed up for in Belize had been cancelled due to “technical” issues. Rats.

Alan, very disappointed, decided to go for an eco-tour in Belize, so he went down to the desk and set that up for himself, with the plan was to let me have the afternoon all to myself on ship.

We went down for dinner at the Four Seasons Restaurant and had Hawaiian Pork Belly for our entree.

Entertainment for the evening was a comedic magician – he was good and we laughed a lot.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

I slept the sleep of the dead last night. I hadn’t slept much at all the previous few nights, being on a round of Prednisone for my back, so this was a very welcome rest. I woke up feeling refreshed, but a bit lazy – I wasn’t in the mood to hit the gym or walk the track right away. So we just lazed about until hunger got the best of us and we went up for a breakfast of omelets. Yum.

After breakfast we did a little over a mile around the track (deck 6 – 3.5 complete circuits is about a mile) before coming back to the room. Afterward we attended another trivia game, and learned some magic tricks from the magician.

I have been working hard to continue my health and fitness regimen, and so far it’s going well. The one thing we both do is take the stairs about 99% of the time. Going from our room to breakfast is three flights up. To the gym is another three flights and a long walk to the other end of the ship. Going down to the purser’s desk or to the lounges for trivia is down two floors, then back up to our room two floors. So I’m getting in pretty swift shape on the stairs. Weight lifting is another matter. They have hand weights at the gym, but only 5 and 10 pounders (and many higher). I like my 7 pounders at home, so I am having to either cull back a bit, or challenge myself on a few lifts with the 10s. At least I’m getting it done. Swimming is another thing altogether. The pool is only open from 8-8, and I like an early swim. I have to hit the pool no later than 9:00 or there end up being too many people in it. Swimming like this has helped to make up my mind about joining the college pool again for the winter – and commit going at least twice a week.

While we were back at the room after breakfast, the Captain came on the loudspeakers and announced that we could not make Great Stirrup Cay because the winds and seas would not allow the ship to safely dock. That blew it for Alan’s eco-tour, and my afternoon solo. This means we are spending another day at sea – but that’s okay, we’re good at entertaining ourselves. We headed up to lunch shortly afterward and sat on the rear deck to eat al fresco.

Our afternoon was passed with reading, trivia events, another walk around the track, and some puzzles in our room. I attended a fun little beading challenge – and was the first one done – we made Geckos. Oh, and I got busy blogging, there’s always that.  😉

Friday, October 19, 2018

Last night the ship had to make an emergency haul to our next port; there was a medical emergency that needed to be evacuated at Costa Maya. Alan and I called it an early night, turning the lights out just before 10:00 PM.  The ship arrived at port around midnight and docked. The seas and winds were just rough enough to keep knocking the ship against the dock, causing us to wake up and be kept up for several hours. Nuts.

In the morning, just as the sun came up, I dragged myself to the gym and worked out. I felt like a sloth and I skipped the treadmill, sticking instead to just the weights. I counted the stairs and long walk to and from the gym as my cardio.

When I got back to the room I chilled out with Alan before we went upstairs for breakfast. The weather was nice and we ate outside, as usual. We then chilled out in the room for a little bit then did our one-mile walk before getting ready to head out to Costa Maya and check out the port shops, and then go on a tour of some Mayan Ruins.

We had opted for a tour of the Chacchoben Mayan Ruins prior to the cruise and it was pretty awesome. After a one-hour bus ride, we arrived and were taken around by our tour guide, Sergio. He was very knowledgeable and chattered away excitedly about the history of the area. Most of the pyramids restricted your ability to go more than 5 or 7 steps up for safety reasons, but we were about to go up one steep set of stairs near the foot of one of the pyramids. It is amazing that these ruins still stand after nearly 2,000 years.

The day was hot and the jungle was, of course, sweltering; perspiration soaked through all layers of clothing, and nobody seemed to need a potty break afterward. Big surprise.

I purchased a little clay flute, soda for Alan, and some chips for us to share. I was getting a little light-headed and needed something to eat.

When we got back to port, we shopped for souvenirs and gifts, then headed back along the long pier to the ship were we got a bite to eat and showered.

At dinner we chatted with the couple next to us, picking up some cruising tips, and talking about travel and photography. It was a pleasant evening.

The rest of the night was spent in our room, catching up on stuff. Oh, and blogging.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

I got up in the dark and hit the gym, letting Alan get a few more z’s in. Since it is Saturday, I only hit the treadmill – after going down the length of the ship and up the three flights of stairs it takes to get to deck 11 where the gym is located. Afterward I went back to our cabin and waited for Alan to get dressed so we could get breakfast. I spoiled myself a tiny bit this morning and had one of their cute little waffles with some sugar-free syrup, and egg with hollandaise. A nice treat for our last day of the cruise. Tomorrow morning we disembark early, early, in Miami.

We spent the day playing trivia games, having lunch, packing, running around for a digital scavenger hunt, and more trivia. Dinner was at Four Seasons, and we called it a night after that.