Transatlantic Cruise: 5/28 – 6/03

Cartegena (Colombia) >>> At Sea >>> St. Maarten >>> At Sea

5/28 – Explore Cartegena
5/29 – Day 1 at Sea
5/30 – Day 2 at Sea
5/31 – Explore St. Maarten
6/1 – Day 3 at Sea
6/2 – Day 4 at Sea
6/3 – Day 5 at Sea

Explore Cartegena
+ Arrived in Cartegena and after a quick lunch of pizza, empanadas, and a little bit of the buffet too, we got off the cruise ship around 1pm.
+ To our surprise, they had a cool little zoo and aviary right next to the dock with lots of different birds like toucans, peacocks, a vulture, an owl, and even a small deer! We met an Ukrainian mother and son there who were watching and playing with the birds. Well, the kid called it playing but really it was harassing the toucans until they bit him but he said it was ok because it didn’t hurt. Lol.
+ We ended up sharing a cab with them into the famous Old Town area of Cartegena and walked until we found a nice cafe. We hung out in there for a few hours and used their wifi while we ate some tacos.
+ Eventually they headed back to the zoo and we walked around old town behind and outside of the giant stone walls admiring the historic churches and buildings.
+ When it came time to head back to the ship, we tried to catch a taxi back to the port, but traffic was at a stand still due to road closures for a marathon. What should have been a quick and easy 10-15 minute cab ride back to the port was quickly turning into a very stressful situation as we were getting closer and closer to being left behind by the ship!
+ We ended up hopping out of the first cab (that wasn’t moving) and physically running down the sidewalk for nearly 10 minutes past the traffic jam. Then we were able to flag down a different taxi that was past the traffic and headed the right direction. This 2nd taxi took us straight to the port but only after we offered to pay for the other guests in the cab. To make the night even more stressful, the driver gouged us on the price when we finally arrived at the port.
+ We did make it back on the ship safely almost an hour after we had started our attempt from Old Town. We ended up being the 2nd to last couple to board the ship!
+ After we heaved a sigh of exhaustion and relaxation that we were not left behind, we showered and went to dinner.
+ Back at the room Liz eventually fell asleep and Corey stayed up way too late solving the Sudoku puzzles he’d gotten from the event on the ship the day before. They were extremely difficult but Corey felt very accomplished when he finally solved them.

Day 1 at Sea.
+ Slept in through breakfast but made it to lunch and stuffed ourselves at the buffet. Lots of delicious choices and even a platter with some yummy Blue Cheese Squares!
+ Decided to go up to the top of the cruise ship to their 360° Lounge where we relaxed in some comfy chairs for the rest of the afternoon. Corey watched movies on his tablet while Liz read her book and they took turns going to the bar downstairs to bring back delicious drinks. (for some reason the 360 bar with the awesome views, is only open at night when you can’t even enjoy the views! How silly!) Corey’s favorites were the Pina Colada and Blue Lagoon while Liz preferred the Camomile Tea and espresso.
+ We stayed until after sunset then went back to the room to get ready for dinner.
+ Had a very yummy dinner in the restaurant and then went to the Disco room where they had karaoke going on. Since we weren’t going to participate, we watched for a few minutes before changing locations to the pool deck to have a few drinks. Eventually we called it a night and went back to the room.

Day 2 at Sea.
+ After lunch we went to the Rendezvous Lounge and relaxed while doing some reading and watching some show’s we had downloaded. Eventually the room was to be used for a game called Visual Quiz where people had to name where in the world the picture they showed was from. We stuck around and watched as people fought their way to the stage to make their guess. Even though nobody won anything, it was entertaining!
+ In the late afternoon we tried to call Chase for about 90 minutes in regards to our credit card stuff. The wifi was inconsistent and kept dropping the call just when we got to the crucial points of the conversation. It was extremely frustrating and we eventually gave up and stopped using up all of the Internet minutes we’d purchased.
+ Tried to go to the daily show in the Broadway showroom but it was all in Spanish or Portugese tonight so we decided to leave since we couldn’t understand it. It’s a shame too because the guy performing was a stand up comedian and had the crowd laughing hysterically.
+ Went to dinner and although the main courses offered weren’t our favorites, the chocolate lava cake was the most amazing thing we’d had on the entire cruise! We convinced our grumpy waiter, Oscar, to bring us seconds!
+ Liz was feeling a little under the weather so we went back to the room and relaxed in bed while watching episodes of Ballers on the tablet.

Explore Saint Maarten
+ Arrived in Saint Maarten and disembarked after breakfast around 10 am.
+ Went to an Internet cafe and had to call Chase to get our credit card stuff sorted out. Also talked to family back home and gave them updates.
+ On our way to a beach to go swimming we were stopped by a 20-something french girl giving out raffle tickets to win something. Corey’s revealed only a free drink and she was going to just point us towards her office to redeem the prize but then Liz’s revealed the “First Prize” and the girl got really, really excited. She was saying how it was extremely rare to win this and there’s only about 5 per month. She also said that although she was happy for us because we’d win either an iPad, $500 visa gift card, or a cruise, that she would now get a $200 bonus for having the winning ticket. We were very skeptical of the whole thing but she was really excited and walked us to her office to hand us over to her coworkers. She was also honest about how we’d have to sit through a 45 minute seminar about buying vacations but that we could decline and still get our prize. We debated whether or not we wanted to do this and lose out on snorkeling time, but with Liz feeling under the weather and not really wanting to snorkel anyways, we decided to go ahead with it.
+ The people in the office were very friendly and we sat in a room with 3 other couples (what are the chances that they must’ve won the grand prize too!?!) and listened to a 45 minute sales pitch from a very bronzed woman on their wholesale travel club. Although it sounded like a great value, we decided not to sign up in the end since it required a $6,500 initial sign up payment! That, and we knew next to nothing about the company. The older couple however did take the bait and the sales staff were really excited!
+ After one last push from some different sales people outside the sideshow room, we declined again and went to the main desk to claim our prize. Our guess was correct and we won the cruise. The lady pretty much threw the paper at us and we got the hint it was time to leave. The cruise is only 2 nights and I’m sure the fees involved are as much as it would normally cost anyways. So although we didn’t win the visa gift card and wasted an hour of our excursion time, we at least got some free sodas and beer and cooled off in the AC for a while.
+ After we left the office, we took a dip in the clear blue waters of Saint Marteen to at least enjoy the island for a little bit. Then we leisurely walked back to the cruise ship, no running and hailing cabs this time! Hooray!
+ Back on board Liz took a shower and a nap while Corey watched the boat sail away from land and enjoyed some beers during the party on the pool deck. Eventually he fell asleep too on the cushioned lounge chairs listening to the rain.
+ For the first time on the cruise, we skipped the sit down fancy dinner and ate at the buffet instead. Then we went to the show in the Broadway room called the Magic of Cinema. This turned out to be our favorite show we’d seen the whole time on the boat! Lots of our favorite movies were included such as Star Wars, Indiana Jones, James Bond, Mary Poppins, Austin Powers, and more!
+ In the Rendezvous Lounge we played the card game Spit and decided we were too evenly matched to declare a winner and just agreed to be World Co-Champions for now. Then we went to a super hero challenge show in the disco room but it proved to be silly and all in Spanish anyway so we bailed on that.
+ The night ended by watching episodes of Parks and Recreation for a few hours. And for the second time on this cruise, we were moving our clocks forward 1 hour! For the first time on our trip, we’d actually be 1 hour ahead of Orlando time.

Day 3 at Sea
+ With Liz still feeling sick, we slept in for a while. Corey didn’t mind because for the 3rd night in a row he was having crazy non-stop dreams so he enjoyed having the freedom to just lay down and go back to sleep. Besides, this is what we were craving before the cruise started anyhow, some R&R!
+ Lunch was disappointingly about 90% the same as every other day. While we are still happy and thankful to be on the cruise, it’s more evident everyday that this is a very cheap cruise ship and does not offer the variety of activities, food, or entertainment as another more high end cruise line would. But you get what you pay for so we had prepared ourselves for this possibility.
+ On the jogging track we found some nice lounge chairs and both sat down to read for a while. Corey read about Europe while Liz read a book.
+ In the late afternoon, Liz returned to the room while Corey went to the gym for the first time. After about 15/20 minutes of frustration and waiting for one of the only 2 working treadmills or bikes to come open, he was finally able to exercise. 30 minutes on the bike and 21 minutes on the treadmill was enough workout for the first gym visit since before the trip started.
+ With no show to attend tonight, we hung out around the cruise ship and had a pre dinner snack in the buffet room before it was our seating time at 9:15. Dinner was good as usual and the staff even preformed a few dances for us, some people more enthusiastic than others, lol.
+ The main event for tonight was a tropical party on the pool deck starting at 10:30, so we headed up there. Before we went on deck there was someone doing face painting so Corey got his face painted like a cheetah/leopard. He had no idea what they would paint, so it was a funny surprise afterwards.
+ Over the next few hours we watched the fun party events and had lots of delicious drinks and even met a few new friends: one couple from Chicago (Sarah and Kyle) and a guy from Estonia (Pablo). We hung out for a while before deciding to move the party to the Cyan Disco club. Then everyone was dancing while moving back and forth across the dance floor with the rocking of the boat, which we’re sure made for a funny scene.
+ Eventually we retired to the room and watched some tv before bed. Every day they show 4 different movies non stop all day, but 2 are in Spanish, 1 in Portugese, and 1 in English. And so far the English one is almost always dumb or we’ve already seen it. The movie we want to watch is always in another language which makes for some fun guessing of the dialogue.

Day 4 at Sea
+ We were definitely falling into a routine now where we slept late, got up and went to the buffet lunch, and then headed to a spot to use our phones for reading/researching and using the wifi.
+ Today we chose to hang out in the Rendezvous Lounge and after talking with family and friends back home for a bit, the entertainment crew arrived in the lounge to start playing a game. We were gonna head out but decided to see what it was and we were glad we did because it turned out to be a James Bond quiz game!
+ Corey loves the James Bond movies so we sat down to participate and after a few questions, Corey was in the lead with the most points. He knew the answer to just about every question but didn’t want to hog up the whole game (which involved going to the middle of the floor to ring the bell if you knew the answer) so he hung back most of the time to let others play along. Then the announcers said that there would be a prize at the end so Corey knew he had to maintain his lead and whenever someone would get within a point of Corey, he’d go answer another question to make sure he was the leader. The funniest thing was we were sitting with this older Venezuelan couple and the woman was very enthusiastic about trying to get Corey to go answer every question and when the crew would tally up points she would shout how many Corey had. The announcers even made fun of her at one point by mimicking her “Go Corey, Go Corey”, it was pretty funny.
+ At the end of the game, Corey was declared the winner and named “Mr. Bond” and was given a Caribbean shirt (which was small and pink so it went to Liz) and a raffle ticket for the casino that night!
+ After that we returned to the room where Liz started preparing for tonight’s formal dinner and Corey changed to workout clothes to go run the track on level 7 of the boat.
+ The track was surprisingly big and every 3.3 times around was 1 mile. Corey quickly found out how much more difficult the running was since not only was the boat going up+down and side to side, but he was dodging lots of people and every time he had to run to the front of the boat, it was very strong winds against him making for tough going. After 10 laps (3 miles) he’d had enough and went back to the room to get ready himself.
+ Since tonight was formal night and Corey had been wanting a nicer watch anyway (he had only brought 1 orange sporty watch from home), we stopped by the shops where they had a watch sale going on and got Corey a nice looking $10 watch for fancier occasions like this.
+ After waiting in line to get our picture taken with the captain, we proceeded to the ballroom for the special event of the night with James Bond music/dances and the introduction of all the important crew members. They also did a Olympic-style unveiling of 37 different flags representing the 37 different countries the crew members came from. It was a nice event but pretty boring overall.
+ Dinner tonight was formal attire, so we wore the nicest clothes we had. But since we had packed for backpacking and not formal cruise nights, we were still severely under-dressed compared to most people in tuxes and fancy dresses. They also had a set menu so we didn’t need to order they just brought us our 4 course meal! We even got seconds of the delicious steak and chocolate dessert. Yummy!
+ Liz still wasn’t feeling great so we went back to the room and watched a few episodes of Parks and Recreation and half of the movie Heartbreakers before going to sleep.

Day 5 at Sea
+ Started the day the same as always with sleeping in, buffet lunch, and going to relax and do work somewhere.
+ Today’s winning location was the jogging track and we copied some other people by moving our chairs to the edge and hanging our feet out over the side of the railing while we soaked up some sun and open ocean breeze. Definitely nice and relaxing!
+ Our reading was stopped twice. Once was when we went to a movie quiz game and saw 2 people (opposite of Corey’s gracefulness the day before) duel it out over rushing to the middle to guess obvious movie scenes. The other was when we went to the pool deck to play a dutch game called Sjoelen where you slid a wooden disc across a 6 foot board and tried to make it in these small slots. While Corey was more successful than most, he didn’t win.
+ While waiting for the dinner room doors to open, we window-shopped at the onboard stores and got drinks in the Fragata Lounge. Then we went to dinner where we ordered 2 of everything: Appetizers, Main Courses, and Desserts. We were very hungry since we hadn’t eaten in (only) 7 hours and our bodies had become accustomed to these cruise meal times.
+ Still, these are the type of things that make cruises worth every penny. Being able to order multiple selections off of every course would normally cost way over the backpacker budget. But doing so at dinner, and stuffing ourselves at the buffet, and drinking all-you-can-drink alcohol and soda, combined with the nice accommodation, service, on-board entertainment and activities, and transportation made this cruise arguably the best value deal we’d gotten our entire trip!
+ When dinner ended we met up with our friends Kyle and Sarah from 2 nights before and they told us about a get together up in the 360 bar that was going to happen later. So after getting some more drinks, we met up with them and a few other people in the upper most deck of the ship. There was Pablo (also from the other night) as well as Alex, Olaf (Norway) and Jessie from Texas. We all hung out and played the 7’s number game and Ring of Fire for a couple of hours until the bar closed down.
+ Next up was the Cyan Disco club. But with it being so loud and our small group dispersed, we eventually chose to leave and go back to the room to hang out and watch Parks and Rec.

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