Friday, March 11, 2011

Declassified Disney Cruise Pictures

My return to normalcy after the cruise has been a rocky road, my head still exists in some different realm of tropical palm trees, lazy beach bars, blatant and unhealthy overeating, and attractive ladies cavorting around on sandy beaches  in tiny bikinis. Nightly, I find myself dreaming about the Caribbean and realizing, like Jimmy Buffett said, "my occupational hazard is my occupation is just not around." So as much as I might want to don my Captain Jack Sparrow hat, seize some harbor queen sailboat down in Charleston, and make like the mythical and fun loving pirates of old but I'm stuck with these sorry ass pictures from the January cruise.    
Last time I offered up a series of Key West pictures showing off my walkabout exploring a small section of the island while visiting a few of the bars and soaking up as much of the atmosphere as possible. As much as I have heard former residents and long-time visitors complain about the abuse of that paradise I would still jump at a chance to not only stay down there longer but live there if I could afford it. Now dreaming further into the improbable the picture above is of Wisteria Island located 645 yards off Key West and around it are scores of liveaboard sailboats. From what I have learned the island was created in the 1890's to the early 1900's as a result of repeated dredging operations. Despite its artificial origins I find it picturesque and if I owned a sailboat it looks like a small piece of heaven that I would anchor at over the winter months. I have read a few places that there have been several recent battles with the usual evil developer unable to leave any piece of land alone and wanting to build condominiums on it. From what I have read as of right now any plans for development have been shelved but those slimy bastards never give up.  
We arrived at Grand Cayman on Tuesday and had to take a tender from the ship to the island. The harbor had all sorts different ships anchored there from three Carnival ships, hundreds of large yachts and sailboats, and one pirate ship. From what I heard its a tourist attraction with daily trips around the island. The crew is, of course, dressed in pirate costumes and somehow makes one of the tourists walk the plank during the short voyage. Given my pirate tendencies I would love to sign on as a member but I would probably takes things too seriously like feeding irritating American tourists to the sharks.      
Why yes, yes I did. Given the priorities of Homeland Security I expect stormtroopers at my door any minute.
Seven Mile Beach, I am usually not big on crowded beaches but I met a lot of fantastic people from around the world. I did find one thing slightly bothersome, when I finally revealed I was from South Carolina to these people not only did a lot of them start to snicker but were surprised at how normal I behaved. Yes, South Carolina's reputation is world wide and not of the good sort. As for my friends thinking I behaved normally, I did nothing out of the ordinary to change their minds but I was only around them for a short time. 
Right off the beach was a great bar called Calico Jacks. This open air beach bar was a little slice of heaven. One of the bartenders was a twenty-something American girl who told me that she came down to Grand Cayman on spring break one year and decided to stay.  She told me her parents are rich New Englanders who had her life planned out after college going as far as setting up many attempts to get her interested in the son of another couple. In an open rebellion during that spring break she lucked out finding a job and just stayed when her friends went back home. Also had a great time at the bar talking with Japanese couple, a retired British gentleman, and a Russian dude who said little during the conversation but what he did say made me think he was former Spestnaz. 
Call me a heretic but after spending time on this vacation in Orlando, Key West, and Grand Cayman all which have Margaritaville restaurants which you might expect I would beat a path to each and everyone but I avoided them all like the plague. I really don't care for chain restaurants in any form, even those owned by Jimmy. While it has blown up in my face several times I like finding out of the way places that my wife sarcastically calls "greasy spoons." All I can say for anyone who visits Grand Cayman is that Paradise Restaurant is not a greasy spoon and I highly recommended you stop by and sample their food. It is not gourmet cuisine by any means but it is great simple food, in a great seaside location, with a exceptionally friendly staff. While there try a bottle of Caybrew beer, made right there on the island.   
On one of the days at sea Dragonwife and I signed up for a tequila tasting seminar. One of the bartenders lectured us on all the types of tequila and what they were used for but since that wonderful Mexican beverage flowed freely every time my shot glass was empty one of the attentive waiters filled it up again. Because of that things quickly started to fade in the background like the lecture. Dragonwife tells me it was very informative and I will have to take her word for it. Now how I ended up in at the Goofy pool wearing a hula skirt and coconut bra I'll never know and probably do not want to find out.    
Never one to learn from my mistakes Dragonwife and  I did a beer tasting a few days later with me doing my duty as a husband saving my lovely wife from having to suffer the effects of any possible hangover by drinking her samples as well. Yeah, there was a lecture for this one as well but I did not sign up for this thing to hear someone speak.  
Wednesday we docked at Cozumel, Mexico but some sort of storm beat us to port and  ruined most excursions including the jamming beach party that was suppose to have everything at it up to naked volleyball. (Just joking, remember this was Disney although I have heard of such things.)  
Castaway Cay, Disney's private island in the Bahamas. A glorified sandbar without any natural fresh water supply but for me yet another slice of heaven that I would have willingly stayed if asked. Disney has a permanent staff of about fifteen on the island who maintain the facilities with the cruise ship's crew augmenting activities and duties when its there. The entire fresh water supply used on the island is generated by the ship when it is docked at the island. Scuttlebutt has that Disney is trying to get a solar powered desalination plant going on the island with the possibility that when operational some sort of overnight facilities might be constructed. Disney has a timeshare-like business and when polled members always pick Castaway Cay as the place they would like to see a new resort built. That is all well and good and given the location I might make an exception to my usual distaste at rabid development but the possibility of numerous hurricanes striking the island will probably prevent any construction.       
Just a shot of the beach, the water was crystal clear but unusually cold, even for January but that did not stop me from going snorkeling in the lagoon. 
The cabin was comfortable and the guy who was our steward did a excellent job keeping thing clean and organized. I hate to sound ungrateful but after a couple of days I was getting uneasy with the degree of service the steward provided. This is hard to explain but I hate the idea of ever being described as the "Ugly American" and while the steward was just doing his job I am just a common dude who does not expect anyone to make a fuss over me. A rich man might like his every whim met like his bed turned down every evening, his clothes ironed and put away,  and new towels supplied to the room three times a day but that is just not me. The problem with my proletariat viewpoint though was our steward was a guy from India who depends on good reviews to keep his job along with most of his salary and tips being sent straight home. So Dragonwife made sure he got an excellent review and a tip far larger than that suggested.     
Miss Wiggles doing some minor snorkeling with me before running out of the water because she was freezing. It may have been the cooler water temperatures but I was disappointed with the lack of tropical fish in the area. I got a few shots but none were decent and the fish I caught on camera were almost invisible in the pictures.  
Disney has created an underwater trail for snorkelers made of fake artifacts, statues, and even a sunken submarine. I spent ten minutes trying to get a decent picture of this sunken statue of Minnie Mouse but a couple of middle-aged boneheads kept hovering around it and even standing on the thing. The last thing I wanted were pictures of some pale, fat dude with his feet on top of Minnie's private parts.
One of the sunken artifacts which in this case might have been a real observation sphere. I was told by a lifeguard that one of the submarines that was part of Disney World's "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" attraction was sunk on the far end of the lagoon but I never could make it that far out. Halfway out I started shivering and had to turn around and go back to the beach.
Miss Wiggles getting her hair braided.  Needless to say we had a great time but given the global situation with gas prices going into orbit and the economy that refuses to recover I doubt we will be doing another cruise anytime soon.


Akelamalu said...

It all sound wonderful and made me remember my Caribbean cruise in January 2010. The beer tasting would have been right up our street! LOL

Oh I need some sun on my back right now!

Life As I Know It Now said...

Didn't the wife snap a picture of you in the pool with your coconut bra on? If she did, are you gonna post it? ;~D

PENolan said...

Glad you had fun - and I'm with Liberality: Let's see the pics of the coconut bra!

Commander Zaius said...

Akelamalu: The beer tasting on the ship was fun, but I enjoyed my time at the bars meeting people.

Liberality and Tricia: Given that I was shirtless and pant-less that series of pictures will more than likely remain classified. I still have the coconut bra and for the record it appears my cup size is "A."

Bill's Big Bamboo said...

Well ... I kept scrolling, waiting for the photos of the bikini babes.

Will there be another post with those pictures ??

Marja said...

I am happy that you had such a wonderful time. I am also thinking about the japanese people you met. Would they be back home now. We are al here in shock of the disaster in Japan.
Good to enjoy life as you can't take it for granted.

lime said...

ok, the 2 pictures of miss wiggles just made my night. too cute. sounds like it was a fun time and at least you have a pleasant reason for lack of brain function. cook p a good excuse for mt failure of the grey matter, would ya?

Windsmoke. said...

Very informative post. I'm so glad that plans to build condominiums on Wisteria Island have been shelved. I'm in no doubt that the greedy developers will try again :-).

Unknown said...

I think we are alike in this regard: we would be excellent ex-pats living and dying in Caribbean time. :-) Nice shot of Miss Wiggles.

Commander Zaius said...

Marja: I have that Japanese couple's email address and sent them a note yesterday morning when I returned home from work, have not heard anything back, yet.

Don't want to start a panic but out of the four corners of the Pacific Ring of Fire North America hasn't been hit, yet.

Lime: It was an awesome time and like I mentioned at the last picture little chance we will be able to go again for a long time. That has not stopped me from signing up on any cruise line sweepstakes I stumble upon.

Windsmoke: Wisteria is just too damn small, on the left hand side of the picture is a small part of a neighboring island about the same size that was developed. It's "cute" but the people on it are too blue blood and rich for me.

Gwen: Damn straight! I still have not given up on becoming an expat.

Randal Graves said...

Man, for someone so versed in, and having experienced, semi-tropical culture, you sure do post very few shots of bikini babes. :)

Commander Zaius said...

Bill and Randal: I have to keep the good stuff for myself. Through a bunch of uncomfortable occurrences I have discovered most hot chicks do not want some drooling fool snapping pictures of them on the beach.

Will "take no prisoners" Hart said...

Dems brewskis is looking mighty good, bra.

Mr. Charleston said...

I once went to Cancun and ran into a Brit. When he found out I was from Florida he asked, "what the hell are you doing here?" Like Florida was paradise. I should have been more specific and said Baja Georgia. But, now that I think about it, I surely wouldn't give up here for there.

Commander Zaius said...

Will: They were good, but they limited the beer, unlike the tequila. I just stole the ones my wife hadn't drunk yet.

Mr. Charleston: Hell, if I could I'd tell Redneckland to kiss my ass if I had a chance. Florida is paradise for me.

Pixel Peeper said...

Love that last shot of Miss Wiggles! Never been on a cruise, but now you have me thinking.

Florida is quite nice, thanks, but I'd trade you our governor any time... even Nikki Haley seems better than him.

Commander Zaius said...

Pixel: All I can say is GO! They are great if you are very active and like adventure or just want to find a lounge chair and read while the ocean passes by.

Will "take no prisoners" Hart said...

Methinks, double b, that you like your tequila straight. If, however, you want a change of pace, try a tequila sea breeze (tequila, cranberry juice, grapefruit juice, and a twist of lime). Very smooth/refreshing.

Ranch Chimp said...

Thanx for the photo's and read Bum, look's great! I have never been on a large vessel like that, or on any kind of cruise at all, even land for that matter ... I used to ride the boat's up and down the Thames River in London or the Staten Island Ferry in New York City, drive a couple small boat's and once a Yacht on Lake Mead (Nevada), but that's it.

arrielle_p said...

Beautiful place. That is a nice place to have fun with your friends and family.

manila condominiums

Commander Zaius said...

Ranch: All I can say is do cruise when you can! They are awesome!