On August 1st, we went on a 4 day cruise (Key West and Cozumel) with our neighbor friends. It was nearly the same group that went on our last cruise, however the Haskins family couldn't go because Mark's mother was ill. Clara, Dan, Sophia, Danny, Bella and Clara's mother came as well as Angel, Chris and Kenlyn. We were worried it wouldn't be as much fun as the last cruise without the Haskins, but despite their absence it was probably the most fun we've had on a cruise.
We seriously considered bringing Paige, especially since she has been such a good girl lately. She stayed home with Grandma Alice and Grandpa Rick this time. It was probably the last family vacation we do where she doesn't come along.
We sailed on the Carnival Victory out of Miami and drove the 4 1/2 hours down in the morning. The traffic in Miami was a bit crazy, and if we sail from Miami again, we'll probably leave earlier. We made it to the boat with time to spare and since this was our 10th Carnival cruise we got the VIP treatment and were boarded very quickly.
We got comfortable in our room, met up with our friends and got partying!
We met up with everyone for dinner the first night and due to some booking issues were stuck at a small table. Subsequent nights, we ended up moving to a bigger table, but the first night we squeezed together and got very cozy and comfortable for dinner.
Everyone loved chocolate milk!
After dinner we went up to the top deck for some group pics. It was very windy and although the lighting was fantastic, it was hard to get a decent pic.
We sailed through the night and our first stop was not too far away. We docked at Key West early the next morning and it was a short stay. The boat was scheduled to leave at 2pm, so there wasn't a lot of time to do much and you had to get off pretty early to squeeze anything in. The Edwards family stayed on the boat, so we got off with the Prescotts and explored Key West.
Connor and Kenlyn found a ton of neat things to pose with so we got lots of pics of them together.
We didn't have any idea of what to do, so we wandered around for a bit and then considered taking a tour or something. Eventually, we opted to rent a goofy little electric car. It was midway between a compact car and a golf cart. I ended up driving it around and was pretty nervous I'd wreck the little thing. The top speed was 25 miles per hour, but since the island was so small, there weren't that many places to drive or get lost. We drove down to the southernmost point, then to a beach, and finally to the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory.
The kids pretended they fell asleep on the way to the beach and even fooled us for a second.
It was kind of a crazy day with a lot of running around in the heat and sun. We got back to the boat and had to wait in the blistering afternoon sun in a horribly long line to get back aboard. We were happy to be done with Key West, we weren't exactly blown away with the short stop.
That night was formal night and we didn't get very fancied up this time around.
Our next stop was much longer one in Cozumel. We have been there before and really enjoy the port. There are lots of things to do and the area by the port is built up nicely with all kinds of shops and restaurants. Once we debarked, we found a big taxi van to take us all to the beach. It was a little bit of an adventure to get the taxi since apparently we had too many people in our group "officially" for one taxi. However, Clara talked in Spanish to one of the taxi drivers and he communicated that if we got in the taxi on the street we could all go together. It was a little scary to cross traffic with our big group, but it was nice we were all able to ride together.
We took the taxi to Paradise Beach in Cozumel. It was a beautiful and well maintained beach with all kinds of fun things to do. The beach sitting area was picturesque with lots of chairs and people to bring you snacks and drinks.
The swimming area in the ocean had quite a few rocky areas, but farther out in the water were some big blow-up slides and climbing obstacles. When we first got there, we paid a guy for some chairs and then made our way out to the beach blow up toys. The kids enjoyed them, but they were pretty unsafe and scary. We didn't spend too long on them before we decided to come back in.
The best part of the resort was a humongous pool. There were a bunch of kids playing there and Danny brought his football. We threw the football and eventually the kids around and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Andrea and I snacked on a bunch of guacamole and some virgin Pina Coladas.
After we left the resort, we ate dinner with the Prescotts and then did some shopping.
We hired a guy to bike us down the pier since we'd done it before and Andrea thought it'd be fun for Connor. He enjoyed it a bit, but his eyes were really starting to bother him that night. He had opened them too much in the pool and he could barely keep them open. That night he really wanted to go to Camp Carnival and he almost had to miss it because of his eyes. Thankfully they didn't hurt him for too long.
The last day of the cruise was a sea day. We didn't swim since Connor's eyes were bothering him and the pools on the boat were pretty small and awful. We never did ride the slide. The first day, we tried to and didn't get to go because we had to do the muster drill.
We played mini golf with Connor for a bit since it's one of his favorite things in the world to do. He does surprisingly well considering he hardly ever takes time to line up a shot or do much planning in general.
We had promised Connor a stuffed animal in Cozumel and were horrified to find out that there were no stuffed animals in the shops. We searched everywhere and hadn't found any, so to make it up for Connor we attended a Camp Carnival Build-a-Bear event.
On our last cruise with friends, the kids had tried the Camp Carnival and Trevor, Connor and Kenlyn hadn't liked it. We hadn't expected them to like it this time around, but the first night on the boat we sent all the kids and they absolutely loved it. The first night they had a special party and the kids got glow sticks and stuffed animals. After that, every night all of the kids would be begging us to go to camp. Unfortunately, because of the timing of the things we did with Connor it seemed like every time he could go was during an event that we had to pay for. On the last day, since it was a sea day, we finally found a session he could go to that was free. He danced with the kids in the dance club and made a cool t-shirt.
At dinner time, all the kids did dinner at Camp Carnival (except Bella), so we had an all adult dinner together.
Afterwards we wandered out of the dining room towards the sound of some Latin sounding music. There were three guys singing all by themselves with an empty dance floor. Clara's mother said that dancing helped her digest her food and pulled us out on the dance floor.
Before long, other people joined us and every time someone wandered nearby, Clara's mother would wave for them to join us.
She was a lot of fun to watch and was the center of attention. Andrea and I don't really dance to that kind of music, but it was irresistible to dance with Grandma and we will always remember it.
After that, we weren't sure what to do. It was the last night of the cruise, so I was somewhat thinking we'd wrap up early. Wrong! The girls had a few pina coladas, some Long Island iced tea, and then we went to the dance club!
We'd been to the dance club a few other times and it was somewhat empty at first on the last night, we went out and danced anyways, and eventually the place filled up. It was awesome to be with a group that enjoys the same kinds of music and likes to dance.
We stayed up way too late and had way too much fun that night. We got up early the next morning, rolled our own luggage off the boat, drove home and then I had to work since it was a Monday! Kind of sucks to have to go straight to work, but it was so nice that the cruise was so close we had the option. It's so nice to just drive home after a cruise.
All in all, it was an amazing time. Connor was a good boy throughout the trip and you can take him just about anywhere. All the children got along amazingly and they are such good kids. Andrea and I were talking later on that it will be hard for us if we ever go on a trip alone again. We've had so much fun with the other couples on these last couple trips.
The boat wasn't our favorite, we'd been on the Victory on our honeymoon, and although it's a huge boat it always seems overcrowded and there are long lines galore. We'd been on the Fascination the last two cruises out of Jacksonville and it really made us realize how much we love that boat. We had so much fun, we can't wait to do it again. Shortly after we got home, Connor was already asking us when we can go on another cruise.