Wednesday, September 13, 2006

There Is No Leukemia on a Cruise Ship

Sorry I am a little slow (as usual) posting, but sure seems like there was a lot to catch up on after only being gone a week. We didn't have Internet access all week -- at least I was too cheap to pay the $24 per hour to access the Internet.

What a great trip! It is tough coming back and trying to get back into the old routine. Jimmy's cold never developed into much and Cheri, although still coughing, felt much better by the time we sailed. I never caught anything -- again! I didn't even think about my leukemia/lymphoma more than two or three times the entire cruise and even then it was very fleeting. Although I tried to keep the diabetes in mind during meals, I must confess I didn't check my blood sugar the entire week, even though I had the testing kit with me. It was so nice to take a vacation from thinking about diseases! I have mentioned how we who have this have to get used to our "new normal," but if I had my 'druthers' I would chose that as my new normal. However, like most vacations, we do have to come back to reality. On the other hand, the memories will remain forever. (Now, I did take pictures and lots of Super 8 movies so that even when my memory fails, I can relive the experience through pictures.)

We arrived in Galveston early in the afternoon on Monday. Because Cheri had gotten an upgrade to our staterooms, we were in "VIP status." Woo-hoo! We were able to by-pass the long line for check in and went right to a separate processing room where there was no line. We showed our documents, signed some forms, had our picture taken and were issued our "sign and sail" cards which served as a credit card for extras on board and also as an I.D. for getting on and off the ship in port. Our pictures were encrypted into the magnetic strip on the card and these were checked each time we got on or off. After going through security, like in an airport but not as strict, we found our staterooms. Very nice and we each had a balcony. Not many of the rooms on this ship had balconies. We set out to explore the ship. It seemed even larger inside than it did from looking at it from the dock. A few hours later our luggage was delivered to our rooms. We had turned it in at curbside when we arrived.

We had requested early dinner seating because of the kids. The formal dining room dinners were always terrific. Lots of great new choices each evening (some of which I couldn't pronounce and had no clue what they were) and fantastic service with a team of three servers assigned to a set of two or three tables (8 or less people per table). Even though the dessert menu, which changed every night with four or five new choices, was always so very tempting, I was a good boy for all but one night and always ordered the scoop of sugar free vanilla ice-cream...sigh. Even up at the buffets, I avoided the dessert table literally piled high with lots of choices. The one night, in addition to the choices on the menu, they actually brought out Baked Alaska to the table. When it was right in front of me, I couldn't resist. The kids soon discovered they didn't care for the "fancy" food choices and ended up eating at the informal buffet lines most of the time. At formal night dinner, Jimmy wanted to attend because he loves dressing up. However, he first got pizza from the pizza parlor on the upper deck and brought it to the dinner. Our head waiter always got a kick out of Jimmy. The very first night Jimmy asked him for "the American menu."

During the cruise, Holly attended "Camp Carnival" most of the time. This was designed for the kids and they had activities all day long, from 8 a.m. until 10 p.m. They did all kinds of stuff, took them to eat and even took them to the appropriate shows. Holly loved it. Jimmy went to a few of the activities, but there were very few kids in his age group. There were more in the 12 to 14 group, but he isn't quite 12. So he stayed with us most of the time. He still had a good time.

The family shows in the evening were always excellent and very professional with lots of scene changes and costume changes. Mostly musicals with some acrobatics, magic and comedy thrown into the mix. Even the night of the passenger talent show was fantastic. None of the passengers who sang were professionals, but you would not have known that when listening to them.

Our first port call was in Progresso, Mexico.
We took a trip to some Mayan ruins and stopped at the Pink Flamingo breeding grounds. The ruins were extremely interesting. Although we saw a lot of the Flamingos, apparently there are hundreds more during the breeding season. My still pictures didn't turn out very well of them, but the movies were better. We also did some shopping in Progresso.

The next day was a stop in Cozumel, Mexico. This was much more of a tourist port. However, hurricane Wilma last year destroyed almost all of the international docks. Wilma was a category 5 storm that battered Cozumel for three days! This was followed by another category 3 or 4 hurricane. Most everything was destroyed. However, because tourism is their lively hood, the people pulled together and had most everything built back within a few short months. The docks will take much longer. The HUGE blocks of concrete that are now at the bottom of the bay have to be broken up and hauled out before new docks can be built. There are still many palm trees that are on the bottom also that still have to be removed. Because of all this, our ship was anchored out in the bay and we took ferry boats back and forth to shore. Instead of docking down by the beaches where the international docks had been, we were ferried to a dock near the center of downtown and, of course, all the shopping. We discovered that a round trip taxi to the beaches would cost us $60 and, after shopping, we had only about an hour either before or after a tour we had scheduled. We didn't think $60 was worth such a short visit to the beach. Maybe next time?

The tour we scheduled was called the Sub-Ocean View. We thought it was going to be the submarine trip, but it was a ship that had glass windows in the bottom of the hull where we sat. That was fine. The actual submarine trip would have been $600 for all of us. OUCH! This was "only" $300, but was another trip of a lifetime. We spent close to two hours touring around the bay and enjoying the sites of the various fish (even saw a sting ray), and the corral reef. We even toured the destroyed international docks. To see these many, many, huge building-sized chunks of concrete with twisted rebar sticking out was so very sobering to realize the destructive power of a hurricane. Miraculously, only nine people total were killed on the island during (or after) the hurricane. Our guide said all of these could have been prevented if the people had not been foolish and had taken the advised precautions. Almost all of the evacuations off the island did not happen until AFTER the hurricanes had passed, so it really was a miracle more did not lose their lives.

All vacations must come to an end and we arrived back in Galveston Saturday morning. Debarking was just as smooth as when we arrived. Again, because of the staterooms we were in, we were among the first off the ship. Our luggage was picked up at our room the night before, so we only had a few carry-on pieces with us. We found our luggage just before going through customs, but a porter put it on a cart and went with us. We went through customs very quickly with no problem or delay. I went and got the car and came back and picked up everyone and our luggage and headed back to Austin.

As I said, it was a fantastic trip and one we won't forget. Cheryl said she enjoyed it very much also. I am grateful to Cheri and Marc for doing this for us.

Now, back to reality and the world of illness, and doctors. But, I can deal with that, too. We all just need a break now and then.


Deb said...

Glad everyone stayed well and had a great time.I forsee another cruise in your near future!

God Bless,Deb

Loren said...

Wow John, What a great trip this was. I hope you go again soon. It makes me feel like I went to when I read all about it.

Take care and be well.


Jenny Lou said...

More pictures, more stories please. I love your trip--but missed you--glad you are home.

Paula and Earl said...

John: The cruise sounds absolutely wonderful! I think it is great that Cheri was able to do this for you all. Tell her we said she is a good woman! Earl and I enjoyed the account and the pictures. All that luxury and being catered to. Did you feel like Earl and I did after we took our Alaskan cruise? We thought that we could learn to live that way in a heartbeat. Alas, our wallets don't allow us to. We are glad you got to take this great trip with your family. God bless!

DavidE said...

Welcome home stranger! I know what you mean about 'back to reality' my July trip to Europe seems a lifetime ago...
We'll catch up more in email, many changes on my end.....