Steve and I got back from our much needed vacation today. We had a really good time, but it's nice to be home again.
The first part of our trip was a drive to Miami and a night at the beautiful JW Marriott there. The drive only took about 7 hours and we rocked out to a few of our favorite Pandora radio stations on the way. Between Steve's rendition of a few Michael Buble tunes and a rousing game of "can we see the ocean from here" we had a blast. Some of the best times can be had on road trips with Steve.
The JW Marriott in Miami was so much more than I expected. For one, the room was a rich yellow color and the linnens were some of the softest I've ever felt. Add in a panoramic view of downtown Miami and I almost didn't want to leave!
However, the promise of tropical beaches won out and we made our way to the port of Miami the next morning to board our ship, the Carnival Imagination.
Overall, the trip was great. Our stateroom was bigger than I expected and the balcony was one of my favorite features. The ports of call and our shore excursions were a lot of fun too. We got to really relax and just enjoy our time together without any distractions. That being said, I was not overly impressed with Carnival or the staff onboard the ship. The staff members we dealt with were not very helpful or friendly (with the exception of our cabin steward) and most of the onboard activities seemed to center around getting drunk and gambling away all your money.
Regardless, Steve and I found a few things that we enjoyed and really made the most of our experience.
We did a pub crawl in Key West that was led by this crazy old and drunk local. Between the hawaiian shirt and deep tan he looked like a walking homage to Jimmy Buffet. He took us around the island to his favorite bars and kept us laughing as only a crazy drunk person can and got us all rather tipsy in the process.
In Cozumel we took a Mexican Cuisine class that ended up being a private course since nobody signed up but us! We worked with two chefs and a chef's assistant to create a three course meal of traditional mexican food. Steve learned how to do a fancy flip move with fish and veggies in the skillet and I learned some helpful tips for perfectly juicy chicken. When it was over we ate our creations at a table overlooking the beach. We ended up spending the rest of the afternoon on the beach since it was so beautiful and we saw a macaw and some iguanas! We ended up getting all of our souvenirs of the trip in Mexico: a jar of Mole sauce and a jar of jalapeno and green pepper jam (both from our cooking class) as well as a hand painted serving platter. You can see a picture of the platter on my facebook page if we're friends.... it's beautiful!
The remainder of the trip was just spent relaxing around the ship and going to various shows. The only crazy event was a thinder storm on the last night at sea. As a girl who doesn't like severe weather when I have two feet firmly planted on solid ground, experiencing a strong storm while on a boat in the middle of the ocean had me absolutely terrified. Somehow Steve managed to keep me from getting too worked up and we made it into port the next morning with no more issues. We had an easy drive back today and picked up Mimi (our cat) from my brother and his wife who graciously agreed to watch her for us.
I swear, she must have thought we had abandoned her or something the way she acted when we picked her up! Clearly almost 15 year old cats do not like their routine messed with.
All things considered, great vacation! I'm really glad we went and took a break from our day to day routines. Steve didn't have his cell phone on at all for four days (the longest he's ever gone without it since I met him) and neither one of us had any type of internet or phone access. It was so nice to have such peace and quiet. Now, we are relaxing the rest of the weekend and jumping back into reality first thing monday morning!