Travels

My First Cruise: Key West, Cozumel

Sunset My-First-Cruise-the-DIY-Homegirl Carnival Caribbean Gulf of Mexico Angela Conley

 

This past week, I lost my V-card… my cruise V-card, that is.

A few months back, the old man and I threw out some vacation options. And then I received this one day with my sweet & sour chicken:

 

Cruise-Fortune-The-DIY-Homegirl

 

We figured it was kismet, so we booked our first cruise. Not knowing too much about cruises, we settled on a shorter one with Carnival that lasted 4 nights. This was a safe bet in case we found cruising wasn’t for us and was just long enough to test the relationship waters. The cruise departed from Miami, with stops at Key West and Cozumel, Mexico.

Heeding advice from my sister who’s been on cruises, we flew down to Miami the night before and stayed at Comfort Suites. I chose them because they have a shuttle service to/from the airport and the cruise port. Plus, breakfast was included. Just about anyone can win me over with free waffles.

Our cruise left Monday at 4PM and lasted through Friday morning. Tuesday was our first port stop, Key West. It was a short stop, from 7:30 AM-1:30 PM, but we got a lot of sightseeing in. We used City View trolley tours so that we could get a bit of history and hop on and off at the important places.

 

Key-West-Carnival-Ecstasy-Cruise-Ship-Angela Conley My First Cruise

 

Key-West-statue dancers Art-&-History-Museum-Angela Conley My First Cruise

 

Since we’d arrived so early, there wasn’t too many people milling about, which was kind of nice. We walked around a bit and saw lots of roosters. I’m sure I wasn’t the first tourist to snap one, but it was still cool.

 

Rooster-Key-West--Angela Conley My First Cruise

 

Then we ended up at the Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center. This was a nice place to visit and learn about the importance of the area’s ecosytems. It was free and had air conditioning, another thing you can easily win me over with in this climate.

 

Our next stop was the Key West Garden Club, another free spot. How lovely it must be to spend your retired days (as I imagine) gardening and hosting such a lovely place.

 

Next was the Key West AIDS Memorial and the African Burial Ground at Higgs Beach. These landmarks were solemn in nature yet beautiful nonetheless.

 

Since we had about an hour left before departure, we hopped back on the trolley and rode through the island. We didn’t visit Hemingway’s home, but I did get a quick shot of it from the bus. I adore those lime green shutters.

 

The rest of the day was spent on the ship, enjoying all the activities. We’re not big drinkers (him not at all) so the pool party atmosphere didn’t appeal to us. Instead, I found a semi-secluded spot on the very top of the ship to relax in the sun. Later on, we checked out the nightclubs and a Motown set by the ship’s performers. The latin band that played in Chinatown (ironic) was my favorite. My white girl genes don’t allow me to dance well to the music but it was awesome to listen to.

The next day was our stop at Cozumel. We booked only one excursion and that was for a Maya ruins tour. I have mixed feelings about the tour. It was long–about 4 hours–but we did have a couple stops via a fabulously air-conditioned bus. The actual ruins are not the giant ones you see featured in history books, which was a bit of a letdown. They were much smaller and we couldn’t climb on them. The ruins were in the middle of the Cozumel island, so the land was quite undeveloped. That was kinda cool since it kinda felt like you were inside the jungle.

 

 

Our tour guide was very informative on the ruins & Maya culture, but he failed to explain we’d be sacrificed to the gazillion mosquitoes. I didn’t realize those suckers could bite through clothing, so I only sprayed my exposed areas. Not the case, as I now have many bites all up and down my legs. At least the rest of the nature there was beautiful.

 

 

The second stop was to a rustic beach on the Caribbean Sea coast. Again, mixed feelings because of the commercialism combined with the litter on the beach. For all the great things we heard about the conservation work for the sea turtles, you had to walk around trash and even glass on the beach. Even so, I got some decent photos of the rugged beauty there.

 

 

 

 

Since it was so humid and warm, we went back on the ship to shower and refresh. Unfortunately, that didn’t leave us much more time to explore the island. Truthfully, I was hesitant on doing that anyhow since we don’t speak Spanish and had a time limit. So we stayed at the port and checked out the touristy shops.

I had a goal—to eat authentic Mexican food while in Mexico. We ate at Pancho’s Backyard and thankfully, they didn’t disappoint. Pancho’s was decorated beautifully and was very different than the atmosphere of the other restaurants right there like Fat Tuesday’s.

We had salsa & chips, guacamole, and I ate their Camarones a la Naranja Flameados al Tequila (shrimp flambeed in tequila with rice, orange, and cilantro). I was very happy with this selection. The shrimp were larger and sweeter than what you find in the States and the seasoning was much more subtle. I’d definitely eat there again.

The next day on the ship was entirely at sea. The old man & I are people that each need our own space, so he awoke early and went to the gym while I slept in. After breakfast, I spent some time lounging in my secluded spots for some lite sunbathing.

For the rest of that day, we took it easy, eating and playing miniature golf. We finally got a chance to see the sunset on the water, since it was cloudy the previous nights. Later that night, we hit some of the clubs for music and comedy.

 

 

All in all, I liked our cruise and locales. I’d do it again, but different places… and probably a ship that has more low-key options. It was a lot of stimulation for my¬† sensitive self. But I’m still very thankful for the experience.

Have you ever been on a cruise? Have you visited Key West and Cozumel? If so, what did you think?

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