Great way to start the new year ...

Namely, go on a week-long cruise! (Including complete disconnection from the Internet! ... and from the whole Inauguration stuff in this area!!)

Notes (please excuse the free-form, stream of consciousness style):

Saturday - bustle of boarding, getting acquainted ... Met nice couple from South Dakota on bus from hotel to dock ("5 degrees, that's not cold ... That's sweatshirt weather ... It was 24 _below_ when we left home")

Sunday - Lazy day on boat, getting more acquainted ... High of about 70 :)

Monday - 10am - Welcome to Jamaica, man is it warm - just standing makes you sweat ... Free shot of rum (and shot glass) from Colors ... Hour of shopping, taxi ride w/ the Kingreys to Mahogany Beach. BTW - every car here has body damage, and they all drive on the wrong side of the road ;). Spent two hours at beach, then taxi-van back to boat (cold hand towels as boarding, nice touch!) ... Then late lunch, followed by an hour or two in pool (Riley is loving her swimsuit that has floaties built-in :). ). Note: Jamaica - very commercial ... Everyone is trying to sell you something, whether in a store or along the curb. Oh, and we drove past the Enchanted Garden, where we had our honeymoon almost 10 years ago. Sidenote - outside of touristy parts, Jamaica seems very run-down, maybe it should have stayed a part of the British Empire?.

Tuesday - Back home it is inauguration day, ... Here, it is Grand Caymen day :) ... Tender service to shore this time ... And then Bec spent the whole day shopping, which means so did I :(. We has ditched the kid, again - her choice. Back to the boat, again cool hand towels and then a late lunch (all 3 of us) by the pool ... For dinner, Riley chose the Fun Zone again (instead of eating a semi-formal dinner with us) - but it was too packed, so I sat in there for a bit (helped her color her mask) until the adult-to-child ratio was right (not that any kids left, just that at 2030 they started a movie so the 'acceptable ratio' went up) ... I discovered that the boat has Red Bull, so I got my "Grey Goose and Red Bull" (that drink needs a name) on! (Just a couple, for now) ... And then some post-dinner 3-way action (Boggle, that is ... Yvette's Dramamine had knocked her out, so it was Jason, Bec and me); I totally rocked (a 70 point hand and (separately) a 9 letter word (radiation, FTW)! (Also - house (boat?) rule of doubling value for words that are more than half vowels kicked in, 22 points for that word :) )). And later - Time zone adjustment at sea, throws everything off!

Wednesday - Cozumel, "Diamond Day" - or so they say. Bec and Yvette did a 60m spa treatment thing on-board. Riley and I had breakfast (she was so happy they had pancakes this am). We (Bec and I) are going to maybe see some ruins, we (Jason and I) are maybe going to do some swimming / snorkeling (Didn't happen for me, Jason did - and found some sand dollars), and Bec wants to (ugh) shop some more (that means me too, again) - it did include me, as well as a long wait on hold to tell "Wachovia Loss Management" that it is really me trying to use my card (ugh, spent few $hundred ... supposedly a great price, salesperson said it was 3x that back in the US and the first quoted sale price was 2x) ... Oh, and Riley again chose the Fun Zone. Ruby Princess made the kids' area too fun, can't peel Riley away. FWIW - Gabby was in there as well most of the time with Riley, so atleast there was A familiar face ... Oh, and I played Texas Hold 'Em - poorly. TJ -= $100; one good hand and one decent hand - but others always had better (and called) ... we will chalk that up as a learning experience.

Thursday - Day at Sea; Windy and cold (like low 50s) ... Still went swimming with Riley (shiver) while Bec shops and does scrapbooking stuff (ugh and ugh again). Then some lounging poolside with family ... Maybe some onboard putt-putt (nope, group comedy even instead), definitely a formal dinner for all(!) of us tonight, and then maybe some more Poker (nope)...

Friday - Princess Cays (via tender); day of pure private beach fun ... Another late start; hard to get this crew moving in the morning ... Lots of snorkeling (very cool, should have done it sooner/more!), couple nice shells, lotsa fish (one looked like a small baracuda, long + skinny + toothy) AND I found a nice, big conch shell - with living inhabitant (conch or sea hermit crab)!! Now, a broadway style show - "Once Upon A Dream" (ahem, not my choice - but well done nonetheless), Bec bought some of the official photos and then a last dinner on-board - including a "march of the baked alaskas" ... (Riley --> Fun Zone one last time, "PJ Party" ... And they gave every kid a stuffed animal. Very nice, but Riley needs not more of those :) ).

Saturday - Good bye, Ruby Princess! (And in a few days, good bye blisters!). One last breakfast, then the bustle of off-boarding, customs, airport (with family) ... OH, and some in-flight Boggle - we are now members of the Mile High (Boggle) Club

Closing thoughts - Jamaica is a pointless stop unless you book an excursion; the pier area is over commercialized and yet manages to show some of the run-downedness very nearby. IMHO, drop that stop and make another day at the Princess Cays - or an overnight stop at, say, Cozumel (would allow time for a full day excursion and still do other/easier stuff). Other than that, the ship is fantastic, food is great, childcare provided (free!) for kids of all ages ...

I feel like another day at sea (or three) would have been good - or perhaps we should have skipped one shore trip (or booked an excursion), or woken up earlier every morning :).

Oh, and major thanks / props to our "room steward" Zaldy and the Eric (and Danielle and rest of staff) @ the Fun Zone. You all totally rocked.


Seriously, Happy New Year!

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