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Review of the Caribbean Princess
Cruise Date: January 2016
Booking: Cruise Line
Cabin number: L233
Cabin category: Inside
Western Caribbean Solo Cruise - January 2016
I recently returned from a fun trip to the Western Caribbean with ports of call in Cozumel, Belize, and Roatan. Here is a day-by-day run down of the trip.
Day 1 - Saturday the 16th (Bakersfield-Phoenix-Houston)
Thankfully I was flying out of Bakersfield because I forgot my passport at home. My sister was able to rescue me by grabbing it and dropping it off with plenty of time to spare. My flights from Bakersfield to Phoenix and Phoenix to Houston were both uneventful. The planes were smaller than average but not uncomfortable. I was exhausted when I arrived in Houston but found my luggage right away and the shuttle from the airport was relatively quick to pick me up. I was surprised how cold it was outside. The hotel was very nice (Sheraton North Houston at George Bush Intercontinental) and the room was well appointed. I had several issues with the door keys and had to be escorted up by the front desk staff. I had some awesome hummus and pita bread, and a local beer in the bar since the restaurant had already closed.
Day 2 - Sunday the 17th (Houston-Embarkation)
I woke up and walked less than a mile to the Hot Biscuit, a local eatery. It was similar to Denny?s in quality and price. I went back to the hotel and had some in-room Starbucks coffee (which was excellent) while I did my Bible Study. I headed back to the airport around 10:30a to catch the bus transfer to the ship. I found the check-in area right away and was met with a gaggle of other passengers waiting in line. They gave us a waiting number and told us it would be a while because the ship was delayed due to wind. We had to wait around 90 minutes for the busses to arrive. Once they showed up it wasn?t long before they had us boarded and on our way. The bus ride was nice and quiet. It was quite a drive from the airport to the pier, at least 35 minutes. When we arrived there was a mile-long line to check in. I was anxious because I needed to use the restroom and wasn?t sure if I could hold it that long. Thankfully I noticed a small sign that said Platinum, Elite, and Suite Passengers with an arrow. Since I?m a Platinum Captain?s Circle member I hopped in that line and was through security, checked in, and on the ship in less than 5 minutes. Amazing!
My cabin was on the Lido Deck, deck 15 forward. I made the mistake of not waiting for the elevators and took all my luggage up the seven flights of stairs. I looked at it as my workout so I could eat more at dinner! I unpacked and looked through my ?mail?, perused the Princess Patter, and planned the rest of my day. I did the muster drill and then there was a football game up on the big outdoor screen so I watched some of that and then enjoyed a beautiful sunset.
I had early seating dining and was annoyed that I had asked for a table for 2 so I could eat by myself but was placed at a table for 8. I decided to try it out and it turned out wonderfully. All the people at my table were amazing and I ended up making strong friendships with two of them. The food was awesome as always. It was too cold outside for the Movies Under the Stars so I turned in early, watching TV and starting reading Moby Dick on my iPad. It was a relaxing end to a hectic day.
Day 3 - Monday the 18th (At Sea)
I slept 9 hours which was incredible for me. I had the buffet for breakfast enjoying my favorite french toast at sea. Since it was a sea day the Casino was open so I played for a bit. I had better luck than normal, not winning a ton but getting to play for a long time on a little bit. Didn?t do much else remarkable that day but enjoyed relaxing.
Day 4 - Tuesday the 18th (Cozumel)
I woke up at 5:45a as my shore excursion for Cozumel was early and they said to eat a big breakfast first. They had us on our way in an orderly fashion and we had to tender from Cozumel over to the mainland. It was super choppy and several people didn?t hold on to their big breakfast. Yuck. Our bus was a short walk from the pier and our tour guide, Juan, did a great job pointing out things of interest and telling us all about Mayan culture. It took about 45 minutes to get to the Tulum ruins and Juan walked us into the ruins and gave us a 40 minute guided tour. We then had free time where I looked around, took pictures, and walked back to the entrance to look at the shops and had some amazing authentic Mexican food (Chicken quesadillas). Once back on the bus we were greeted with a moist, cold, scented towel, a bottle of water and a cookie. On the drive back to the pier it started raining and the tender boat was delayed because of wind. It was an extremely rough ride back to the dock at Cozumel and several people lost their lunches. I made it back in time to relax for a bit before dinner. It was a bit breezy up on deck and the water was choppy but not uncomfortable. I went to the comedy show and it was pretty entertaining. The comedian was also a musician who had toured with the Beach Boys. I turned in before 10 as I had another early day coming.
Day 5 - Wednesday the 19th (Roatan)
We had some chop which woke me up several times but I was able to push through it and felt rested in the morning. I didn?t have to be to the theater to gather for my shore excursion until 9a so I had plenty of time to relax, read, Bible Study, etc. It was gorgeous weather outside and my excursion was to a private island called Maya Key. It was a short walk to a tender boat and then about a 15 minute ride to the island. I wasn?t exactly sure what to expect but it turned out great. It is a self-contained, little island which has a beach area with lounge chairs and picnic tables, an animal sanctuary featuring local rescue animals, a pool, a free lunch buffet (very good), an area to watch sea lions and sharks being fed. The best part was interacting with the spider monkeys and getting my picture with them. We headed back early afternoon and I had time to peruse the Roatan port a little bit. The shops were similar to other cruise ports but I really appreciated that the vendors weren?t pushy at all. I bought some local coffee to share with family as well as magnets for coworkers. I took a hot shower to refresh before dinner and made my way to the dining room. Only one other person from our table of 8 showed up and I ended up having a nice conversation and meal with her. Rossanne is from Vancouver and had many stories to tell about her travels with her husband, Gerard. I enjoyed the casino a little more that night and then headed to the cabin to watch Chopped, The Love Boat, read a little more Moby Dick, and then headed to bed.
Day 6 - Thursday the 20th (Belize)
This turned out to be my favorite day. I slept well and had a good buffet breakfast. It was warm and a little humid outside but not uncomfortable. We had to tender to the port in Belize but it was much smoother than our tender in Cozumel, thankfully. We had to wait quite a while for our tour bus. When it arrived we loaded and our guide, Lynn, a local Belizian, was wonderful. She told us a lot about their culture and we got to see lots of the country as we drove to the Belize Zoo. The Zoo was small, but interesting, highlighting only rescue animals that can be found natively in Belize. We drove from there to a riverfront property for lunch. It was beautiful, peaceful, and the food was excellent.Next we went to the Howler Monkey Sanctuary and got to see (and hear) them up close. The tour guide was a native Creole who was kind of scary, but you could tell he loved what he did. The ride back was fun because Lynn was good about pointing out interesting things. The tender back to the ship seemed slower than normal, maybe because I was antsy to get back for dinner. I arrived just in time and walked straight to the dining room. We had more people at our table that night and had a wonderful meal, like all the previous nights. I got to know Pam and Alan, a wonderful couple from South Dakota a little better each night and we really bonded. I crashed early that night from exhaustion.
Day 7 - Friday the 21st (At Sea)
I didn?t do too much exciting on this day. I did laundry, though, which I was thankful for when I got home. This was our roughest day, sea-wise. The swells were huge and only got worse as the day went on. I didn?t get seasick but it was definitely uncomfortable. I did have a nice walk and swim to get a little exercise in (and to burn off some amazing pizza). I didn?t overdo it at dinner that night because it was so rocky and I didn?t want to try it twice. The best dish of the cruise was at that dinner though, vegetarian rolletini with pumpkin and thyme cream sauce. So delicious!
Day 8 - Saturday the 22nd (At Sea)
I slept in a little bit since it was our last full day and it was another sea day. When I woke up the ocean had smoothed out and it was calm all day. I was very thankful for that! I went and saw a live cooking demo in the theater and then started packing. It?s amazing how much you can cram into small bags when you don?t have another option. I layed out on deck for a while and enjoyed the sun and breeze. I had a terrible headache that wouldn?t go for days. I tried tylenol but it didn?t help. The last dinner was great but bittersweet because I had to say goodbye to my new friends. Pam?s birthday was the next day so we got her a piece of birthday cake and sang to her. It was a fun time for all of us. We were close enough to the port that night for me to have cell service so I was able to catch up on emails and Words With Friends. It was nice to get that done before traveling the next day.
Day 9 - Sunday the 23rd (Disembarkation-Houston-Phoenix-Bakersfield)
I enjoyed the buffet one last time and then proceeded to the theater to wait to disembark. We were the last group to leave but getting off the ship was easy. The line for the Customs inspection was long but thankfully my friend called me and distracted me so the wait didn?t seem as long. Once I was through I went straight to the fancy bus waiting to take us to the NASA facility in Houston. It looked brand new including leather appointed seats and chargers with USB built in to each seat back. The NASA facility was overwhelming and a bit disappointing only because we only had 90 minutes there. I could have explored for several more hours and still not seen everything. The highlight was the shuttle replica on top of the real 747 plane used to transport the shuttles. You could actually walk inside both vessels. Too cool. After NASA we headed to the airport and I was able to get checked in and through security fairly quickly. I ran into Rossanne and Gerard again which was a fun treat. My headache was 10/10 and I had no ibuprofen so I went and found some at one of the shops. It kicked in in about 20 minutes and I had sweet relief. I also grabbed lunch (a turkey wrap and greek yogurt parfait) and then chilled out for an hour waiting for my plane. The flights back weren?t bad at all.
Overall it was a fantastic solo cruise to the Western Caribbean. Princess Cruises took good care of me as always and I can highly recommend this itinerary for anyone looking for a chance to escape completely and come back new.
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