Visit to ND and Caribbean Cruise Vacation

DISCLAIMER: Super long post!

Scott, Damien, and I spent most of May on vacation. We went to North Dakota to visit my family and then Scott and I left on a 7-day Royal Caribbean Cruise to the Caribbean. We all had a great time.

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Damien super excited while I catch some Zzzzs on the way to ND.
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Enjoying a yogurt treat
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Relaxing with Grandpa Hanks
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Space Alien’s Restaurant in Bismarck, ND.

Day 1 – Flying down to Port Canaveral, Florida.

Scott and I flew down to FL to get on the Freedom of the Seas ship. Once on the ship, it was rather chaotic with all the people everywhere, but that was only the first day. We participated in a Mystery Dinner Theater and afterwards Scott and I learned how to play craps at the casino with their complimentary lessons.

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Port Canaveral, FL. View of the ship from the bus.
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Our stateroom on Deck 2. Comfy bed.
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Our window view
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Stateroom also had a closet, couch/coffee table, and desk.
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Our bathroom. Shower was a little small, but nice water pressure.
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Ready to explore the ship!
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Mystery Dinner Theater…before we knew it was lame lol

 

Day 2 – Day at Sea

The second day we spent at sea getting to our first destination. We walked all over the ship and spent some time in the arcade, casino (playing craps), bingo, and watched an in-room movie and played card games. Just a relaxing day.

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Outside, I think Deck 12?
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Deck 4
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Bingo! No, not really… We didn’t win anything 🙁
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Sweet towel dog. I love it!

Day 3 – Labadee, Haiti

We finally get to see a Caribbean island! We didn’t know until we arrived, but Labadee is actually Royal Caribbean leased land in Haiti. This means that the Haitians that work in Labadee come in from the surrounding villages by boat to work only when the cruise ships are there. Since we didn’t know that, we had already picked a historic walking tour as our shore excursion. With not much history to see in Labadee, our tour guide spoke mostly about Christopher Columbus, pirates vs buccaneers, and how awesome Haiti is. After our walking tour, we took pictures of our beautiful surroundings and changed into our swimsuits to enjoy the beach.

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Morning view of Labadee from the ship
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Meeting up for the walking tour
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Lamy, our tour guide
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200-year old trading post
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Neem tree with healing properties
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The structures on the hills in the distance are where the Haitians actually live.
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Pretty flowers
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Scott on the beach
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Scenic view
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Rocky roads
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Scott 🙂
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Me 🙂
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Break time! Coconut water and rum, so good!
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Using a machete to open the coconuts for the drinks
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The area near the pier
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The Freedom of the Seas!
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Photo opportunity
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View of Labadee from the pier
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Time to go to the beach!
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This is nice 🙂
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Scott cooling down with a cold beer
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And then taking a nap
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Dinner in the dining room

After dinner we napped and read until it was time to see Illusionist Phillip Kaiser perform. We’ve both never seen an illusionist before and I loved some of the tricks. How do they do it?!

Day 4 – Falmouth and Montego Bay, Jamaica

In Jamaica we opted for a bus tour that took us to Montego Bay for shopping. I love hearing how other cultures/countries live.

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Falmouth, Jamaica
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At port
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Shopping area around the ship
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With entertainment
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Leaving the tourist area–Falmouth street view
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More Falmouth. They drive on the left-side of the road here.
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Pictures from bus
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The Falmouth Parish Church of St. Peter the Apostle, built 1794. It’s the oldest public building in Falmouth.
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And still used to this day
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Site where a James Bond movie was shot
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There are LOTS of homes under construction here.
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Street view
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Water view
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Rose Hall. It’s said to be haunted!
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Random roadside donkey
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Super old windmill
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Fancy Jamaica home
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Street view in the nicer areas.
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The Wal-Mart of Jamaica
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Water view from the hillside on the way to Montego Bay
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Heading into Montego Bay
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Downtown Montego Bay
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Sam Sharpe Monument
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Quick stop at Pier One. The sign says “No Bad Vibes” 🙂
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Coffee break with banana bread
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Trying jerk chicken. Was okay.
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Photo opportunity outside of Pier One
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Scenic View outside Pier One
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Margaritaville
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Montego Bay shopping area with the most aggressive sales peoples I’ve ever encountered in my life. Awful!
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School children. Our tour guide said they wear uniforms so you can’t tell what class they come from.
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What I expected to see in Jamaica
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Breaktime. Too bad this restaurant had TERRIBLE service
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Leaving Montego Bay and heading back to Falmouth
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Lots of billboards/advertisements
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Limestone
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Homes in the hills
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Maxine, our tour guide said there’s no welfare/gov assistance so there are lots of squatters who earn squatters’ rights.
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Flee markets
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Back in Falmouth
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I saw a lot of these stores. Seems popular
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Entertainment on the way back to the ship

After a day immersed in Jamaica, we saw a musical/comedy act with Tony Tillman (opened for Bill Cosby for 10 years) and saw the Love/Marriage Game Show. Both were very entertaining!

Day 5 – George Town, Grand Cayman

This was Scott’s favorite stop. We picked a SeaTrek Helmet Dive as our shore excursion which allowed us to go underwater and see some ocean life. It was also the nicest-looking location outside of the pier area AND is home of Tortuga Rum to which Scott bought six flavors. We ate dinner at one of the specialty restaurants on the ship called Chops Grille Steak House. Hands-down it was the best meal of the entire vacation.

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Ready for the day
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At this port, we have to take smaller boats between the cruise ship and the pier.
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The shopping area at the pier
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All the tents are meeting places for the shore excursions
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Scott got his Tortuga Banana Rum–Rrrrrr!
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Chillin’ with a pirate
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Town from the boat
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Walking to the shore excursion. Fresh fish!
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The SeaTrek helmet. It weighs 75 pounds! It weighs that much to keep you on the bottom. We went about 28 feet down. Oxygen is pumped into it through a hose, but you still have to stay upright.
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Sailing out on a little boat so we can go underwater and see some fish!
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Next is walking around town
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Scott and I. The National Museum is in the background across the street. They drive on the left-side here too.
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Walking around makes us hungry and thirsty
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Scott with an Arnold Palmer
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Time to head back to the cruise ship
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Sweet water bus!!!
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More pictures of the area
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Back at the cruise ship
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Appetizer: Scott with his bacon steak. I had a mushroom soup and we shared the scallops.
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Main Course: Fillet Mignon with shared sides
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Dessert: Chocolate pie and cheesecake topped with huckleberries
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Towel elephant 🙂

Day 6 – Cozumel, Mexico

This was my favorite stop. I liked the atmosphere. It was the hottest day of our trip and we picked horseback riding at Rancho Buenavista and beach visit as our shore excursion. On the horseback riding venture, we were able to see both original and replicas of Mayan ruins. The horses walked in a group as opposed to a straight line on a trail like I’ve done before. The horses also had their own distinct personalities. Mine was so bossy! He didn’t want any of the horses behind me to pass and if they tried he’d cut in front of them or start galloping. He’d also bite/nudge the other horses when we stopped to discuss some of the ruins and I’m pretty sure he got kicked. Oh well, it made for an adventure! After horseback riding the bus stopped by two different scenic beach locations. I was pretty disappointed that the beach stops were both only 25 min long. I’d have rather just gone to the second beach for longer so we could have at least enjoyed the water on such a hot day.

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Ship view of Cozumel after breakfast.
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Scott
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Heading to shore
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Shopping area around the ship
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Scott wanted a Mexican Coke because it’s made with sugar.
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More of the shopping area
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One more
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Taking the bus to the ranch for horseback riding
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About to receive a horse riding lesson from Martin
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Getting ready to ride!
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All set
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Ready to go!
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Riding along
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Jaguar statue (right) as part of the Mayan calendar
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Mayan ruins
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More Mayan ruins
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More
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Random archway
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Living quarters (underground)
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More living quarters. Something is down there…
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You’d never know my horse was mean from this pic lol
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Mayan fertility house
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Riding along
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These structures where for harvest-time and storage.
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Burial grounds
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Heading back to the ranch
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Arriving back
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Happy horses
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A lizard friend
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Mexican hairless dog?
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First beach location
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Guys with a parrot and lizard for photo opportunities with the tourists
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Mexico!
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Admiring the view
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It’s not safe to go in the water due to the rocky shore and waves, but it sure does look nice.
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Second beach stop, Punta Morena
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With a salt water pool
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But we needed to eat so we didn’t go in the water. Everything was great, but I have to make a special note in saying that the salsa was AMAZING! That’s a strawberry margarita btw. When in Mexico!
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Street views on the way back to the pier
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More street views
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Intersection
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Street view

After a late dinner, we watched the movie Guardians of the Galaxy in 3D at the ship’s theater. Great movie.

Day 7 – Day at Sea

Our last full day on the ship was spent sailing back to Florida. Scott and I partook in another first–spa treatments! We had a couples massage which included a facial. Very lovely experience. The rest of the day was spent relaxing and packing.

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Front of the ship with the strong winds

Day 8 – Heading back to ND

Bright and early we started our trip back to North Dakota.

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The shopping area of the ship where Scott and I are waiting for our number to be called.
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Waiting to leave. Great vacation 🙂

Back in ND

I would have loved to have stayed longer in North Dakota. The time went by way too quickly. Thanks to my parents and brother for taking care of our precious Damien. He had an amazing time and is still telling me how much he wants to go back to Grandpa’s house.

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Damien playing Super Nintendo with his Uncle David. So happy 😀
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The men playing more video games lol
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Heading back to Virginia. Side story: Damien forgot Kawzi (stuffed cat) on this flight. Scott ended up running 20 min total back to go get it. What a great dad 😀
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Entertaining himself before the last flight home.