Cozumel – Walk-about

The only thing I did in Cozumel after getting my internet fix was a little walk-about. Any time I had ever been at Puerta Maya in the past I always went somewhere else… either on a tour (mostly SCUBA diving) or taken a taxi from the compound to downtown. That’s where Margaritaville is.

Puerta Maya is the Carnival made for cruise ship port.

Puerta Maya is the Carnival made for cruise ship port.

This time I wanted to see what was just outside of the port area. It’s only a short walk so I took my camera and took some pics. (More posted on kokomomantoo). There’s a lot of the colorful stuff typical of Mexico. As I think about it, this really isn’t typical of Mexico… it’s just typical of the tourist areas in Mexico.

The tourist trap shops in Mexico always have colorful stuff to draw you in.

The tourist trap shops in Mexico always have colorful stuff to draw you in.

Just across the street from the port you can find scooter rentals, car rentals… two or three small bars with cheap beer… and a couple of low end places to eat. I usually get something to eat in one of those low end places. If it’s crowded with locals then you know the food is good. I speak a bit of Spanish from my time living in Spain so I can get by well enough to do okay. I also know to eat stuff that is cooked in front of me on a hot fire or in a boiling pot of water. I stay away from all the stuff that’s sitting out.

This time I had a couple of tacos. These weren’t like the ones you get at the Mexican Phone Company… Taco Bell. Instead these were rolled up in a cross between a soft corn tortilla and a piece of panita bread.  A little salsa and some extra hot sauce made it mmmmm-mmmmm good. They carved the meet right off the spit in front of me, so I’m pretty sure Montezuma’s Revenge won’t hit me. I’ll let you know tomorrow morning.

There’s a place that claims to sell Cuban cigars. I’m told that you may or may not be getting real Cubans in there. I went in but didn’t buy anything.

Los Cubanos... I don't know if they sell real Cubans or not. I didn't buy any.

Los Cubanos… I don’t know if they sell real Cubans or not. I didn’t buy any.

I didn’t spend a lot of time nor go very far on my walk-about. As you walk along the main drag toward town you see mostly the same stuff over and over. Since it’s a few miles to the downtown area… where Margaritaville is… I decided to go back to the ship. If I were going to Margaritaville I would take a taxi. But Bloody Mary was back at the ship and I decided that with most folks exploring Cozumel, it would be a good time for her and I to find a deserted hot-tub.

Bob

First Live From the Breeze Post

Cozumel – Sail Away

I don’t know what it is about Cozumel… there’s always some last minute runners trying to make the boat before it sails. Maybe it’s the time change, but then there are time changes in other ports. I suspect that in Cozumel it’s more about the booze places… the tequils is free-flowing all over town.

Tequila shots are free flowing here and in all the watering holes.

Tequila shots are free flowing here and in all the watering holes.

Today was no different. “All aboard” was at 5:30 PM… SHIP’S TIME!!!! I’m sure the clock down at Senior Frogs…  or Margaritaville… or Tres Amigos showed 4:30. In a little booze induced gibberish speak, folks ordered, “Onnnne more-o fur da road-o”.

A few minutes after “All aboard” time came the announcements over the loud speaker… “Would Mr DockRunner please call guest services at 7777.” They went on to call out around a dozen names. A few minutes later they called the same names again. A couple of minutes before the scheduled sail away time, the ship’s horn blew one long blast. I’m sure that blast was heard all over Cozumel.

A couple of minutes later four people appeared at the end of the dock. “Run Forest, Run.” They tried to run, but it was a feeble effort. I don’t think their legs were working very well, but they tried. People on board the ship looking out from their balconies and upper decks cheered them on.

Another announcement went out. A bunch of people were still missing. A few more appeared at the end of the dock. They didn’t give it any effort to run. They seemed to act as if they were proud to be late. By now we were 15 minutes past sail away time. Since they didn’t make any attempt to run, they were booed when they got near the ship.

Finally the ship blew its horn three times and started to move away from the dock. I’m writing this just before going to dinner… late seating… and the announcements continue… “Would Mr. and Mrs. MissedTheBoat please contact guest services at 7777.” Well… at least they can now go back for “one more” at Senior Frogs and enjoy their evening in Cozumel.

Bob

Searching for Kokomo… and another frozen concoction to help me hang on.

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First Live From the Breeze Post

Cozumel – Part 1

This morning there was a hoard of ship’s photographers to take our pics of the arrival in Cozumel. I don’t mean a couple of photographers… I mean a hoard. They are always there to slow down your exit… stopping people to take their pics on the gang plank. Today was especially aggravating. So I decided that I would take their picture as they were trying to take my picture. Some weren’t happy and some played along. (A few more pics of them over on kokomomantoo.)

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As we speak, I’m sitting in Carnival’s made for cruise ship compound… sipping on a goooood cup of coffee. I’m here for my internet fix. I’ve just finished spending about an hour cleaning out all the junk emails that have accumulated over the last few days. I’m amazed at just how much crap I get. I did get a report on my book sales that I was hoping for. It is automatically deposited in my bank account and I made enough to buy one frozen concoction to help me hang on… as long as it’s a cheap one.

The place I’m sitting in is at the end of the compound. It’s a coffee shop and really does have good coffee. Of course, I’m really here for the internet, but I might buy their coffee even if it wasn’t for the internet. It seems every time I come here I spend quite a bit of time at this coffee shop.

Sit here long enough and you get to see some of the goings on around the compound. They have several guys dressed in Mayan Indian garb. At least they want you to think that’s what a stylish Mayan wore. I’m not so sure.

The “Mayan” poses with the tourists as they pass by and encourage them to tip for the privilege. Lots of folks take pictures from a distance with telephoto lens so they don’t have to tip anything. However, most of the folks that pose with them give a couple of bucks. In the hour or so I’ve been sitting here I’ve seen each guy pose with maybe a hundred people. Hummmm… where can I buy a Mayan costume.

Here’s what today’s well dressed Mayan wears to work at the cruise ship port.

This is what the well dressed "Mayan" wears to work.

This is what the well dressed “Mayan” wears to work.

I wonder what these “Mayans” tell their families when they go home at night. It must go something like…

“Well I had another tough day at the office. I had fourteen thousand women grab my butt… I liked it from a few of them.”

“Miguel changed places with Fred and the tourists didn’t even notice that Fred was from Vancouver”.

“Tomorrow NCL will be in with all the old people… I’ll get to ride around on all their mobility scooters.”

“Ramon didn’t tell his parents he’s a Mayan… he told him he’s a fisherman… then washes off all his war paint and changes to jeans before he goes home.”

I also wonder what they say about cruise ship passengers… probably something like, “Grande stupido touristas.”

I have a peeve I want to share with you. This one verges on ugly, but for now I’ll just put it in the bad category. When you get off the ship here in Cozumel, you are forced to go through one of those “Dufry” stores. It seems every time I come here they’ve added on to this one. It just gets longer and longer. Invariably, one of the “circus barkers” trying to sell something stops people in the narrow passages. That causes a massive traffic jam.

Today we were docked alongside the Triumph. The Triumph got there just a few minutes ahead of us. We were all trying to funnel through that Dufry at the same time… five thousand people getting herded through like cattle being driven to slaughter. I started to moooo under my breath. Really! I started mooing. Then some other people joined in. There we were… twenty or thirty of us shuffling along… and mooing.

Then someone made a sudden stop in front of us. What followed was a horrible scene. There was a 43 cow pile-up. The mooing and moaning was the worst thing you have never heard. Oh the horror of it all.

There is a wide path way beside (around) the Dufry… about half of the dock width. There’s more than ample room for all the passengers to bypass the Dufry if they wanted to allow it. But NOOOOOO… there are guards there that force us to go through the Dufry. I wonder how much Dufry pays for all of us to be forced through there.

As for me, I might otherwise buy something there. But until we are allowed to bypass the Dufry, I refuse to buy anything in there… or any other Dufry at any other port. And if forced into them, I’m going to moo all the way through. This is just one of those irritations that detract from Carnival’s cruise experience. Are you listening Dufry… are you listening Carnival.

There are more pics over on www.facebook.com/kokomomantoo

Mooooooooooooooooooo

More later…

Bob

Searching for Kokomo… and a wrecker to clear the cow pile-up.

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Go to the beginning of the cruise… Day O

Cigars Under the Stars – Day 3 part 2

It’s actually day 4. But, I’m writing this as I’m waiting for the ship to pull into Cozumel to get my wifi “fix”. I want to share something with you from last night’s Cigars Under the Stars.

Last night I was sitting on the poop-deck smoking a fine Cuban cigar. Well… I really don’t smoke it, ‘cause I don’t smoke. But I always buy one in Grand Cayman, light it up, and let it burn. I do this in sorta silent protest to the US policy toward Cuba. I won’t say more than that here ‘cause you can read about that in my writings elsewhere. Suffice to say our policy is due a massive overhaul.

Anyway, I was sitting there with the Cuban smoldering away… sorta contemplating the universe. You know… wondering why we have two eyes in front and none in back… why I don’t get my own Caribbean island… and in general contemplating my navel. As I sat there, I saw a flashing yellow light on the deck about mid-ship. It was coming at me. I thought maybe we had been boarded by aliens… or maybe it was Cubans attacking.

As the flashing light got closer, it started to look something like a Zamboni. You know… one of those things that they use at hockey games for resurfacing the ice. They drive it all around the ice and when they are done the ice has a nice smooth finish.  For at least a few minutes the ice is blood free. The hockey players can then go back out to see if they can out punch each other.

As the Zamboni continued to come toward me, I thought that I must have dozed off and was having some weird Caribbean nightmare. The Caribbean had frozen over and now they were using a Zamboni to smooth it out. I thought… I would have to actually wear a jacket. Oh the horror of it all.

But then I realized I wasn’t dreamin’ at all. It was a cruise ship Zamboni … a contraption that is used to clean the decks. It looks like a small Zamboni with a squeegee on the back. Most of you have probably seen these, but I had never seen one of these in all my cruises. Way back in the olden days they had sailors swab the decks… with mops and mop-buckets. Several of the “swabbies” would line-up across the deck… mops in hand. They would slather on soapy water as they waddled backwards down the deck… working their mops side to side. Then they would be followed by another line of swabbies that would mop-up the soapy water. After a little while the deck would all spick-n-span.

It seems that the modern “cruise ship Zamboni” has done away with the need for the swabbies. This Zamboni has brushes underneath that lightly scrub the deck while soapy water is dispensed into the brushes. The squeegee at the back “grabs” the water and a suction hose pulls it back into the Zamboni.  After about ten minutes the whole port side of deck 11 was clean and spiffy… ready for the next day’s cruise frivolity.

I wonder if the Navy still has swabbies. It wouldn’t be the same if they didn’t.

Before I close this segment, I should mention that this was not a ship organized “Cigars Under the Stars” event. I asked Carnival’s brand ambassador to see if he could pave the way to make it ship wide event… but that didn’t happen. So I organized a “mini” version on the highest smoking deck as far aft as you can get. We were doing about 18 knots. If there was anyone bothered by the smoke, they were flapping their wings.

We are pulling into Cozumel now so it’s time to go ashore and get my internet fix.

More later…

Bob

Searching for Kokomo… and a wifi.

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Go to the beginning of the cruise… Day O

Day 3 Grand Cayman – Part 2

There I was… in the middle of no-where. I was about to venture down a little dirt path into the jungle… not knowing what was there that might eat me.

After I walked about 25 yards down into the jungle I could see the ocean. Actually, it was a little narrow dirt road going toward the ocean. It didn’t appear there would be anything more dangerous than a few lizards, camellias, and green iguanas. This was one very secluded beach. It was clearly not one of those manicured tourist beaches of Seven Mile Beach on the west end of the island. This beach is almost as nature left it. The ocean had washed ashore a lot of sea grass… some drift wood… and trash from somewhere in the Caribbean.

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The beach along the shore wasn’t very big… maybe about ten or fifteen yards from the edge of the jungle to the water. And I was the only person there. I thought to myself that this would be that secluded beach I had been looking for to take someone special… a place to go skinny dippin’… and maybe a little “hanky-panky”. Then my little daydream was over.

I went snorkeling in the pristine, clear water out to the reef just off shore. The water was calm and warm. Today it was about 86 degrees. I would have loved to stay there and go for another snorkel out from the cliffs or just down the beach. But I wanted to be conservative with my time. After all, I wanted to get back to George Town in time to have a frozen concoction to help me hang on at Margaritaville. Not to mention… I didn’t want to watch the ship sail off into the sunset. So, I hiked back up to the road.

Then it hit me. I had not seen another human being since I got off the bus. It could be a long walk back to the ship. I went back up to the road where the bus dropped me off. NOTHING!!! Not a single car on the road in either direction. I started my hike. I really didn’t know how far I might have to go. I still had about three hours to make it back so I had plenty of time… I hoped.

Well… you already know I made it back. But I did start to get worried. I walked toward the nearest town… Old Man Bay. I knew that was four or five miles away. After about 30 minutes I had not seen a car or anything coming down the road. I didn’t really know how far I had to go. After a while longer, a couple of cars came by. There was human life out here after all. Then, after I had hiked for about an hour, I finally saw a bus coming toward me… going in the direction I had just hiked from. I could have stayed where I was and just waited by the edge of the road. DOH!

It didn’t matter which direction it was going. By this time I was ringing wet with perspiration. It was about three degrees cooler than a witches caldron out there. I waved the bus down. I knew as long as I got on and stayed on, it would take me back to the bus station in George Town. I climbed in and to my amazement, the air-conditioning was working… I might survive after all.

It only took a few minutes for me to recover from my heat induced delirium. I was able to finish some of my fact finding on the bus ride. In particular, I wanted to take a look at some of the other beaches along the route. The only road back toward George Town runs right along the ocean.

From my earlier visits, I knew there were a number of public beaches for folks that want to get away from the masses in the tourist areas. These all looked like nice little beaches with rest-rooms, gazebos, and food/drink nearby. For this trip I was there on a Wednesday and the beaches were all virtually deserted. In the middle of the week, some of these might be a good place to get in that skinny-dippin’.

As it turned out, I got back to George Town and Margaritaville in plenty of time. All in all, it was “mission accomplished”. I got the stuff to finish off my book. I met up with Bloody Mary… She had been on the Dolphin Discovery “Swim With the Dolphins” tour. We went to Margaritaville for a frozen concoction to help us hang on. Then I went to Churchill’s to buy a couple of fine Cuban cigars for later tonight. (I don’t smoke them… I just buy them, but don’t get me going on this.)

Bloody Mary and I did a little walk-about in town… this was her first time to Grand Cayman. It doesn’t take long so we walked along the bay to the end of the shopping area. The pic below is from the Eden Rock Dive Center at the far end of the shopping area. The ship in the background is the Magic that was in town the same time as us. (I too some more pics an they will be posted on kokomomantoo.)

At the Eden Rock Dive center. The Carnival Magic is in the background.

At the Eden Rock Dive center. The Carnival Magic is in the background.

After our walk-about, it was back to the Royal Watler terminal… to the long line waiting for a tender back to the ship. The wait in that line was almost as long as my hike through the boonies of Grand Cayman.

Bob

Searching for Kokomo… and a drink of the day

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Go to the beginning of the cruise… Day O

Day 3 – Grand Cayman

Grand Cayman is probably my favorite island in the Caribbean… well unless you count Key West. Then it’s a coin toss. I’ve been here more than any other place in the Caribbean. There’s so much to do here, I keep discovering new things every time I visit this place.

This time I wanted to try out something new as well as do some research for my book. I don’t want to write about stuff unless I’ve been there or done what I’m writing about. I wanted first hand experience with the public bus system. It’s a really an inexpensive way to get around most anywhere on the island. I also wanted to check out a secret snorkeling place on the East End of the island.

Before I go too far, I have to tell you that this adventure is not for the meek. I knew the place I was going to was in the middle of nowhere. Yeah… Grand Cayman isn’t that big, but even so, there are some isolated places out on the east end. There are no tourist stands, no taxis, no places for eat or drink… no tiki bars for a frozen concoction to help me hang on. If you decide to do something like this, you should take your passport with you in case you don’t make it back to the ship in time. Take food and water. You should also take an air mattress, sleeping bag and survival kit.

OK… you really don’t need that last stuff but you really do need to take water and any food you want for the day. You should also be prepared for a bit of a hike just in case… and you really do need to take your passport.

So… I got off the ship as soon as I could… second tender to town. Then it’s just a short walk to the bus station. Don’t think of this as a Greyhound or public bus system like you find in the United States. And don’t expect any of the air-conditioned luxury seating tour type buses. The “bus” I got was an old Toyota “mini-bus” with seating for about 12 crammed in. It had Caribbean air conditioning… open the window and the air that blows in conditions you.

The bus depot is a block and a half away from the place where the tenders drop you off. (The Royal Watler terminal.) Walk the shortest distance out of the terminal toward town and head down “Fort Street.” Walk the first block into town and turn right after the “Heroes Square” park. The terminal is a little farther on the left.

I’m not going to try to explain their bus system to you in detail. I’m not even sure if the Governor of Grand Cayman could explain it in detail. The essence of it is that they have big round colored circles with numbers on the front of the “bus” (mini-bus”) that indicates where they go. There are also letters that indicate where they go. “EE” for “East End”, “NS” for North Side¸ and WB for West Bay.

The "bus station" at Grand Cayman. Pick the numbered bus according to where you want to go.

The “bus station” at Grand Cayman. Pick the numbered bus according to where you want to go.

After that, your guess is as good as mine what routes they take. I asked at the little stand at the terminal if they have a map that shows each route. I was told that they are working on that. What I have since discovered is that there seem to be no set routes. I’m convinced they just go in the general direction. You tell the bus driver where you want to go and if it’s not too far out of his way, he’ll take you there. It’s only a few bucks to go almost anywhere. For a couple bucks more he’ll take you a little farther out of the way.

There are bus stops but unless you are just looking for shade, you don’t need to worry about finding one. Just stand along the side of the road and wave down the bus. On my trip we picked up and dropped off people all along the way… none standing at bus stops. As you’ve probably guessed, the bus really doesn’t keep any schedule. When it gets there depends on the route and where folks want to go. I did say this isn’t for the meek didn’t I.

I wasn’t even sure of the place I wanted to go to. The directions I had were something like this; “It’s on the Oueen’s highway… there’s a long brick wall near an abandoned resort project… and if you get to East End you’ve gone too far.” The place had a name, but I really didn’t remember it. There was some more description and I had looked at the area using Google Earth, so I did have at least a little idea what it looked like. I wasn’t totally crazy. I knew that if I missed the place I could just stay on the bus and ride it back to George Town.

By the time we got to the Queen’s Highway I was the only passenger left in the bus. The driver was trying to help me out. He was going kinda slow while I looked out for the place. I saw a brick wall and said there it is… but then I wasn’t so sure. So we kept on going.

Another few miles I saw an abandoned resort and knew that was it. The bus driver stopped and let me out. As I got out I asked when the next bus would be by. e He gave me a kinda funny look and said he wasn’t sure. If they don’t have passengers that need to come this way, they often turn around and go back to town. He suggested that I would have the best luck if I walked back to the last town.

I thought about getting back on the bus. But I had come this far and wasn’t going back without getting to the spot I had come for. I gave him five bucks and he drove off into the distance. I stood there for a minute or two and not another vehicle came by. Oh well… time to go see the beach. It’s what I had come for. I walked down this little gravel road that led down into the jungle. I knew that the beach wasn’t far away, but I was a little worried what may be in the jungle to eat me.

Part 2 after another a Ferengi Burger…

Bob

Searching for Kokomo… and a bus back to town.

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Sea Day – Part 2 – More Ship Stuff

I’m coming to you this afternoon from the Red Frog Pub. You already know it’s one of my favorite parts of the ship. It’s a place that has a little bit of everything… a few things you can order to snack on… some entertainment in the evening… and of course you can get whatever your favorite liquid refreshment. In the afternoons they have some trivia contests and people come here to play a variety of board games. Folks also come here to hang out with friends.

Today they had the standard “shtick” out on the Lido deck… the Master Mixologist contest and the Hairy Chest Contest. They don’t call it the “Master Mixologist” any more. I’m proud to say that I won one of the “Master Mixologist” contests here on the breeze in the past… a frozen concoction with mango, pineaple, a little grenadine for color and a little sweetness… and of course, To-kill-ya” (Tequila). Mmmmm-Mmmmm good! I still brew up these at home. Anyway… now days they call it the Red Frog vs Blue Iguana challenge. It’s mostly the same thing. I didn’t get signed up in time so I was just a spectator this time.

The Hairy Chest contest never has anything to do with hairy chests. I’m never sure exactly what it has to do with. Sometimes the rotund guy that’s kinda like Santa Claus wins… you know… makes his stomach shake “like a bowl full of jelly”. Or… it’s the guy that does the best job of dancin’ “nasty”. Today it was neither of those… it was a real old guy with ummmm…. errrr….. “man-boobs”. I don’t know any other way to say it… “man-boobs!” And he seemed proud of them. This is a mild picture of him. (By the way, the ship’s video was running and now there are hundreds of discs they will sell to passengers, so I figure it’s OK for me to post this picture.)

Da winnah... of the Hairy chest contest.

Da winnah… of the Hairy chest contest.

This ship has got the best pools, sports and water park area of any of the Carnival ships. (I think “Flowrider of the Seas” has better stuff on their latest monster ships, but that’s a story for another cruise.) This cruise the pools are busting at the seams. They have been as crowded as I have ever seen them. The areas in and around them have about the maximum number of human bodies that they can handle.

And there are loads of kids in them. This is one thing I liked better about the “Conquest” class of ships (Liberty, Valor, Freedom, Glory, etc). On those ships, the aft pool is “Adults only”… at least they were that way on all of my cruises on them. Here on the breeze, there is no such thing. Kids are in every pool and every hot-tub on the Lido deck. (The Serenity area is adults only and does have a hot-tub, but no pool.)

With so many people and I suspect especially the kids in all the pools, the water has become cloudy in the afternoon…. ewwwwwww!  I’m told that’s mostly because of the sunscreen. I’ll let you judge for yourself, but I’m not going for a swim.

Crowded around the Lido deck main pool

Crowded around the Lido deck main pool

On a sea day, all of the other stuff gets a work-out. There were a lot of people, kids and adults, up on the “ropes course”. For those that don’t know what this is, it’s kind of an obstacle course… 15 feet off the ground.  Everything is connected by ropes and you have to go from platform to platform across the rope suspended obstacles. Don’t worry; even though it may be scary, a safety rope connected to the top railings secures you. The kids of all ages seem to have a lot of fun on these. I think only the “Dream class” ships have the ropes courses.

The Ropes Course

The Ropes Course

Another place I have found is the outside area of the Ocean Plaza on deck 5, mid ship. It’s a place that’s not as crazy as some of the other areas this afternoon. It’s an “outside deck” on the smoking side of the ship. Even though I don’t smoke, I liked it there because they have comfortable chairs around tables with umbrellas. It’s a nice place to hang out with friends that do smoke, have a little liquid refreshment, and watch the ocean go by. I’m suspect that when Carnival shuts-down smoking on the balcony’s this place will get a lot more crowded.

This is a really nice area outside the Ocean Plaza... the smoking lamp is lit.

This is a really nice area outside the Ocean Plaza… the smoking lamp is lit.

This ship doesn’t have a very large area for the shops considering its size. They are abut the same size as the Conquest and Fantasy class ships that I have been on. I think they kept the shops on the small side so that they can have a very large casino… much bigger than on those other class ships. It has all the usual “slot machines”, craps tables, roulette tables, black-jack tables, and a few of those “Vegas Vacation” type tables. Hummm… we still call them slot machines, but none of them have coin slots any more. I guess it’s just the slot for your sail & sign card now days.

In conjunction with the casino, there’s the casino bar. In this one there is no band-stand like on most other Carnival ships. (The band-stand is at the Ocean Plaza… the next place down the promenade deck from the casino.) The bar is a nice large one and they also have a large area with tables and chairs where you can commiserate with family and friends over your casino losses. Maybe it’s just me, but I have never won a cent in any shipboard casino.

The casino was open this afternoon, but it was almost deserted. Everyone must be baking out by the pool. I guess the tables and slots must be luckier at night.

That’s all for now… time for me to go bake out by the pool too. As usual, there will be a pile-o-pics on kokomomantoo

Bob

Searching for Kokomo… and a place to squeeze in by the pool.

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Day 2 – Sea Day

I like sea days. Not because of anything special, but just because you can do anything you want… sleep in, and important stuff like that. Usually I hope to get lucky in the morning… you know… clear blue skys, warm days, calm seas and stuff like that. Now what were you thinkin’.

I promised to tell you a bit about the ship, but first a few observations from the first part of the cruise. First and foremost… friends shouldn’t let friends Karaoke. I’m sure there are some magnificent singers on board the ship… maybe I’m missing their times on stage. But the ones I’ve seen during two separate times need to have the cats removed from their throats… or at least someone should stop stepping on their tails. And if you are their friend… please, oh please… remember… friends don’t let friends karaoke. If I here another karaoke session I’ll have to go see the ship’s doctor to stop the blood from streaming from my ears.

Next… old guys shouldn’t wear Speedos. In fact… guys of any age… shouldn’t wear them at all. Even if you are a hard body, it’s not going to end well for you if you’re wearing a Speedo. For the life of me, I can’t figure out why some guys think they’re hot stuff when they’re wearing a Speedo. I thought maybe it was just me… but it’s not. Bloody Mary saw one of the same guys I saw. She told me… and I quote… “ I just had to shut my eyes tight and count to ten. I just couldn’t handle it.”

I’ve got an idea… a new Nike commercial. It’s a play on their standard “Just Do It” slogan. It should poke fun at Speedo and say… “Just DON’T do it”. And their swoosh… instead of pointing up like a “check mark” it should point down like a… well… ummmm you get the idea.  If I see one more guy in a Speedo on this cruise, I’m going to have to go see the ship’s doctor for cornea transplants.

And ladies… well… you already know, so I’ll just keep my mouth shut. If I said what I was thinking I would have to go see the ships doctor to have my foot removed from my mouth… and more than a few other feet removed from another part of my anatomy.

Now, about the ship. There’s lots to tell about so I’ll probably do this in a couple of segments. This is still my favorite ship. Well… not the ship itself. I still like the Ruby Princess and the Freedom of the Seas better for the ship. The Ruby was more elegant and the Freedom of the Seas has the rockwall, ice-rink, and flowrider (my favorite). But when I take Carnival’s night life onboard all their ships into account, then the Breeze squeaks out on top of everything else. She has all of Carnival’s Bell’s and Whistles.

The spa and gym on the Breeze is far and above the best of all Carnival’s ships. Now I’m not really a spa sort of person, but they’ve got a “couples room” that gives me evil thoughts. Not only do they have side by side massage areas, they have a hot tub in it… a couples hot tub. I don’t dare say more about it or I’ll be sent to the naughty room.

I could find lots of ways to use this couples massage room... tee hee.

I could find lots of ways to use this couples massage room… tee hee.

Since I wasn’t sure what the rest of the spa was like, I took a mini-tour. I’m still not sure what it all is. There’s a “thalassooothassaotsomethingOrAnoherTherapy pool. (My toungue hurts after trying to say that.) It’s got a kinda therapeutic smell to it. I don’t know what it is. Their claim is that it will eliminate the causes of men ever needing Viagra… and women will… love it. *smiley face*.

OK… they don’t say that. But what they really do say is, “ all your worries and stiff and sore joints will simply wash away”. Really… the part in quotes is right from their advertising. I don’t know about you… I don’t want my joints to wash away… “stiff and sore” or not. It’s not for me but I do have to say that when I walked through my sinuses cleared right up.

Right there they have some kinda steam rooms. I say, “kinda”, because there are three different versions. The first one you walk into is just a little bit warm with some stone recliners.

Warm, stone recliners. I don't know if these would be comfortable or not... and there's no TV.

Warm, stone recliners. I don’t know if these would be comfortable or not… and there’s no TV.

You walk through that one into a second one that is a little hot, but it is a dry heat… sort of like the Mojave Desert. Then you walk through that one into the Nile Jungle. It’s hotter in there than the Mojave Desert and it has the Schwitzer Falls creating steam clouds in the middle of the jungle.

When I walked into that jungle it nearly took my breath away… Bloody Mary too. By the time we got in about half way, I couldn’t see. My glasses had completely fogged up. I was instantly dripping wet. My skin was burning and turning red. I’m sure I looked like the devil from Dante’s Inferno. I needed to get out of there as fast as I could. Bloody Mary too. I saw what looked like an exit so I pushed Bloody Mary toward it. But since I really couldn’t see anything she had to push me back out the way we came in. Pewwww… I was glad to get out of there. By the way, there wasn’t another soul in there. The attendant showing us around didn’t go in there either… she’s probably still laughing.

After the Amazon Jungle we looked around at the rest of the place. There’s a hair salon, and a nail salon… places for a mud bath (or something like that) and a place where they wrap you up in leaves or some such… and of course there are regular massage places. Oh… and least I forget, there’s a men’s barber shop. No it’s not a place in the ladies salon … it’s a separate place where you can get an old fashioned shave and a hair cut. It’s a lot more than “two-bits”, but one of these days I’m going to try that.

It seems that the spa has something for everyone; Botox… teeth­­-whitening… hairdos… hot rocks… and rubs and scrubs. If that’s your thing, you will love the spa area on this ship. Just bring a wheelbarrow of money.

More pics of the Spa area over at www.facebook.com/kokomomantoo.

More later…

Bob

Searching for Kokomo… and a new pair of speedos

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Go to the beginning of the cruise… Day O

Carnival Breeze – Day 1 – Key West

It’s day 1 and we’ve been in Key West… or should I say we’ve been in “Key Weird”. This is one of my favorite places on earth. Mostly because it’s a little “off center”. Hummmm… make that a lot off center. That’s probably why I like it most. Most places are “regular” places… where regular people live and work. Key Weird has very few of those kinds of people… few of those kinds of jobs. I think that folks in Key West are actually they way people are intended to be… the true nature of the way people are. They are not tied down with the rules of “regular people”. No one judges you in Key Weird so you can be just who you are. If you ran naked down the middle of Duval Street at high noon, no one would think much of it. In fact, during Fantasy Fest, lots of people do just that.

Key Weird is almost 100 percent dependent upon tourism. There is some US Navy that remains but that certainly doesn’t drive their economy. And it really isn’t cruise ships either. Cruise ships are a very small part of the tourism business. Yes, a few thousand cruise ship tourists come ashore most days and they spend bucks on trinkets, t-shirts, a few tours, and a few beers. However, it’s the land-based tourists that spend the most money by quite a margin. The land-based folks spend on same stuff the cruise ship tourists do, but they also spend on their meals, and hotels for the day. And at night the booze is more free-flowing in town than it is on the cruise ship.

I’m not sure why cruise ships even stop here. Most ships pull in around 8:00 AM and it’s “All Aboard” by 3:30. But… Key Weird is geared toward night time activities. The majority of live entertainment starts after 3:00 PM. Just the same, cruise folks seem to like it. There is a ton of stuff to do other than visit all the bars… if you know where to go.

Today I spent a some of my time finishing off some research for my next book. Most of it is finished but I had to go a couple of places to check out facts and to take some pictures. So… I rented a scooter and took Bloody Mary on three of the Kokomo Man’s tours. (No I don’t really give tours, but I’ve thought about it.)

I started out by going down to the end of Duval… the Gulf of Mexico end. Bloody Mary dipped her toes in the Gulf of Mexico and then we started on “KokomoMan’s Bar Crawl”. I went along pointing out each of the bars with a history… there’s lots of them. Of course since I was on the scooter, I couldn’t have any booze. Bloody Mary on the other hand, could have all she wanted. She seemed to enjoy all the places. But, by the time we made it to Margaritaville she was “done for”. I guess you can’t have a drink in all 36 bars on Duval Street after all.

We went on down to the other end of Duval at the “Southernmost Beach”. Bloody Mary staggered over to the water’s edge and stuck her toes in the Atlantic Ocean. It’s just one of those silly things you can do in Key West… stick your toes in the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean on the same day. (Ok… she really wasn’t staggering, but I get to tease her just the same.)

(For those that don’t know… Bloody Mary chose that nick-name for herself because that’s her favorite morning drink when she’s on a cruise.)

I went on to the KokomoMan’s full bicycle tour to be sure I had it all right. (Yeah… I was cheatin’ because I was on a scooter, but I was trying to get in more stuff.) I took the long way around the island and went to a lot of the out of the way places… places cruise folks don’t usually make it to like Smathers Beach or the East Marinaro Fort. Smather’s Beach is my favorite beach on Key West. Bloody Mary and I went for a little stroll along the beach.

 

Smather's Beach. My favorite beach in Key West.

Smather’s Beach. My favorite beach in Key West.

We took a bunch of the standard cheesy pics all over Key West… you know… at the Southernmost Everything including the fake Southernmost Point… the “not really” Southernmost beach… and with the Southernmost Key West Chickens. Of course who can go to Key West without taking a picture standing out in front of Capt’n Tony’s, Sloppy Joes, and Margaritaville.

The not really Southernmost Point

The not really Southernmost Point

Bloody Mary ummmm… went back to the ship and I took the scooter back to turn it in. I still had a couple of hours so I continued my tour around town, visited a few old friends and made some new ones. One of the guys I met is Danny Rodriguez of the Rodriguez Cigar Factory. Danny has resumed his Cuban Grandfather’s tradition of hand rolling cigars. He is very proud of his heritage and of the quality of his product. Cigar aficionados should pay him a visit.

The Rodriguez cigar factory. If you are a cigar aficionado, stop in. Danny will fix you a cup of Cuban coffee and share his story with you. Even to the non-smoker it's an interesting place. Tell him Kokomo Man sent you.

The Rodriguez cigar factory. If you are a cigar aficionado, stop in. Danny will fix you a cup of Cuban coffee and share his story with you. Even to the non-smoker it’s an interesting place. Tell him Kokomo Man sent you.

I went down to the Schooner Wharf Bar… one of the great old time Key West Bars. I spent a little time there listening to Michael McCloud… he starts at noon. Now that I was on foot, I had a frozen concoction to help me hang on. The whole area around the Wharf has quite a history. I always just love to walk around there and along Caroline Street. I spent a little time just meandering around and then went to my favorite Key Lime Pie Shoppe for a piece of Key Lime Pie (duh). It’s Key’s Law that if you are in the Keys, you must have Key Lime Pie or you will be sent to Conch prison.

The Schooner Wharf Bar. Still a piece of old Key West.

The Schooner Wharf Bar. Still a piece of old Key West.

There are a whole bunch more pics on www.facebook.com/kokomomantoo

Then it was back to the ship and the Red Frog Pub where I’m writing this. But now I’m really hungry and just have to have a Ferengi burger. I know Ferengi’s are really bad for you. They’ve got tons of cholesterol and other stuff that will give you a heart attack after you’ve eaten just three… and they’ve got tons of other stuff that will require you to spend your next vacation in the gym since you will be a Goodyear Blimp look-alike. But I don’t care… they have addictive properties and I can’t resist them.

So… it’s time to head for a Ferengi burger… or two… or three. Tomorrow’s a sea day and I’ll tell ya’ll all about the ship.

More then…

Bob

Searching for Kokomo… and a Ferengi burger

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Go to the beginning of the cruise… Day O

Carnival Breeze – Day 0 – Part 2

I sure am glad to be back on a ship with the “2.0” upgrades. One of the first things I did this afternoon was to go get a Ferengi Burger. Yeah… I know it’s Guy Fieri… it’s that I’m sure that they are Ferengi Burgers. But they are Mmmmmm – Mmmmmm –  Good! I just luv Ferengi. So, I just had to have two of them. I’m glad I brought the Tums for the tummy.

IMG_7828 IMG_6816

ferengi2

The other 2.0 stuff is just as important too… the Blue Iguana and the Red Frog bars on the Lido deck are a place I kinda like to hang out. They are one of the centers of activities during the sail away. Of course you already know that the Red Frog Pub is one of my favorite places to hang out too. Here on the Breeze they have a nice large Red Frog Pub and in the evening there is a guitar person that plays. This cruise there are two “guitar persons” that are sharing the time on the little stage over in the corner. They are both very good and I’m sure I’ll be spending a lot of time in the evening listening to them… and of course having a frozen concoction to help me hang on.

There’s also an outside area to the Red Frog Pub complete with hot-tub near by. This is a great place to hang out with a few folks and soak up some sun. You don’t get as much “crazy” or as many kids here so you can sit with friends and solve all the problems of the world… or have a frozen concoction to help you hang on… or a pain killer… or all the above.

OK… put away the smiley faces for a minute. There’s something I need to warn everyone about… my cabin, 7460. For all my previous cruises on the Breeze I booked a “Deluxe Oveanview”. I was very happy with those cabins. I used to book only balcony’s or suites, but I discovered Deluxe Oceanviews here on the Breeze are better than everything but a suite… at least that’s my opinion.

This time I wanted to make someone special happy… so I booked an “aft extended balcony” cabin. I had one of those back on the Destiny (now Destiny 2.0… aka the Sunshine) and that extended balcony was great. I really liked that cabin. This time, for something special, I wanted to have that again. -Insert sad face here-… I’m really disappointed. What I ended up with is not what I expected.

For a lot more bucks I got a much smaller cabin and a slightly bigger than ordinary balcony. I consider this a sub-standard cabin. They advertise “ample closet space”… this has 1 1/2 closets. The other 1/2 is filled up with life jackets. I had 3 1/2 closets in the Deluxe Oceanview. I have become accustomed to having a couch in all of my cabins. They advertise a “seating area”. There is no seating area at all in cabin 7460. There is only just enough room for the bed and barely enough room to walk around it. This one doesn’t even have room for a chair. This may be the smallest cabin I’ve had on any Carnival ship… or on any cruise line. It certainly isn’t worth the additional cost over even an oceanview. I’ve had “insides” with more room. I have been truly ripped-off.

This may be the smallest cabin I've ever had.

This may be the smallest cabin I’ve ever had

(There are more cabin pics over on www.facebook.com/kokomomantoo)

Just so you know, I checked the other cabins in the same category next to mine and they do have what I expected. It’s just that the corner cabins on this deck get cheated out of what the other cabins have. They just jammed in two more small cabins to make more bucks. Shame on Carnival for charging what they do for these cabins without telling folks that this may be the smallest cabin in Carnival’s fleet. I hate being ripped-off like this.

OK… I’ll get off my soap box and on with the cruise. I won’t let the cabin spoil my cruise.

We went to dinner tonight and I was surprised that the Breeze has not gone to the “American” style of dining as some of the other ships have. (I was on the Imagination out of Long Beach in April and they had the new style.) I’m pleased that the Breeze hasn’t gone to that style. Instead, it was still the fine dining I had come to expect on all of my previous Carnival cruises… they still have the white linen table cloths on every table (“American” style just has wooden top tables.)… they bring around individual servings of bread (“American” style puts a basket on the table for every one to pass around… and handle my piece of bread before it gets to me, ewwwwww)… and the wait staff pours water for every one (“American” style puts a pitcher of water on the table for everyone to pass around… another ewwwwww) I really am glad the Breeze has not gone to “American Style”.

The Piano Bar is my favorite night-life place on Carnival ships. I went to this one tonight and the guy was just so-so. He plays well and has a good voice, but there just was no pizzazz. There weren’t many people there so it could possibly that it’s just early in the cruise. Maybe I’ve been spoiled to the incomparable Ron Pass. Just the same, I’ll come back again tomorrow to see if the fun factor picks up.

After we left the piano bar we went to the Ocean Plaza band stand. The band there was great. We really enjoyed the music. They were playing a variety with stuff from the sixties all the way up to nearly today. (Hummmm… I’m not sure I really know what “today” is besides One Dimension, Beiber, and Maroon 5) We stayed there the rest of the evening. Mickie… I had a chocolate mocha whatchamacallit for you.

That’s all for now.. Tomorrow’s Key West and I’ve got plans to do a bunch of stuff.

Bob

Searching for Kokomo… and another chocolate mocha whatchamacallit.

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Go to the beginning of the cruise… Day O