Old Mar 17, 11, 7:09 pm
  #5  
botham
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Dorchester, Dorset UK
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LHR-DFW-IAH Part 5

Sunday 6 March

We sure were ready for our cruise as the last few days had been a nightmare and I hope we’ll receive an explanation as to what happened to suggest our original flight had been cancelled.

Anyway we had an uneventful journey down to Galveston, avoiding the expensive toll roads by using I-45, which was an excellent road and our economy rental car, a Mercury Grand Marquis - £119 for 8 days, cruised down there with ease.

We had a quick walk around then found that from where we had parked, it was an easy drive to the terminal, avoiding the bust traffic approaching from I-45. We dropped off our bags then drove a couple of hundred yards to our pre-booked car park. A short walk to the terminal followed.



It took about 30-45 minutes to get on-board and we basked in the warm sunshine, whilst we waited for our cabin to become available at 13.30. My bag was waiting for me, but Rosy’s was held back as she had a bottle of champagne in it. It was confiscated as it should have been in her carry-on, which she didn’t have! Apparently people carry on alcohol in all sorts of disguises, but Carnival are getting very tough on this. They missed my water, which could have been vodka!

We had dinner on a table for six, but no-one else showed until half way through. Carnival is getting far more aggressive with their attempts to sell extras, which can be annoying. The Chocolate melting cake was outstanding, but we are starting to talk about returning to Princess!

I fell asleep during dinner and again in the welcome aboard show, so went to bed, but I still awoke at 04.30, blooming jet lag!

I am currently enjoying some early morning coffee, whilst most sleep!
I think we’ll be taking more cruises from nearer home in future. These long flights pre-cruise are too risky. It’s so easy leaving from Southampton, UK, 50 miles from home, but the weather is less predictable.

Just had breakfast in the buffet, but I’m feeling cold, which is unlike me, so maybe I’m under the weather. I was hoping it would be sunny and warm, but there’s quite a stiff breeze blowing.
Rosy commented that Carnival may be cutting back on their entertainment budget, as there aren’t many craft-based activities.

Clear the decks!

It’s now pouring with rain and everyone’s running for cover. That’ll sort the chair hogs! Tomorrow, the weather will greatly improve, says the Captain, after this weak front’s moved away. Good because we had enough rain and cloud on our ‘Dream’ cruise!

Tonight is the first elegant night, so the baseball caps should be hidden away.

Ports of Call

Montego Bay, Jamaica

We had decided to take the shuttle to town and back, walking wherever we felt like and mixing with the locals, but the shuttle was $15pp, so we decided to walk the 1.5 miles instead, ignoring the constant peeping horns seeking a fare. We walked to the edge of town, when we were befriended by a local, who advised us where to go and where to avoid. We thought nothing of it and continued on. A few minutes later this same man, who claimed to work at the port, again offered some assistance. He just stayed with us and was a very good guide, showing us some interesting places. By this time I was becoming a little wary and said thanks for the info, but we would buy a hat and some water before returning to the ship. He offered us a beer in an authentic bar, but I was concerned something might be added to the drink, having heard stories of tourists being drugged and robbed. He found what we wanted and sorted a cab back to the ship for $10. Surprisingly he got in too and advised us that his ‘guiding services’ usually cost about $60 each, but he’d settle for $40. We pretended we only had $30 and gave him 20 saving 10 for the driver. He then got out. On arrival at the port the driver tried to charge us $30 each for the 10 minute ride. We gave him $10 and told him that was all he’d get.
This is a cautionary tale, as I consider myself to be very careful, but I think my previous rule should apply. Never talk to strangers!
After lunch we walked to the Sunset Beach Resort, which took about 20 minutes and probably costs $10 by cab, maybe per person.
This return visit to Jamaica, our fourth, has confirmed what we thought before we came, that we’d be quite happy not to return and we wouldn’t trust anything a Jamaican told us. It would often be cheaper and safer to take a London cab! The “all inclusive” resorts seem to be very well cared for and very comfortable, but once you step outside it can be quite scary.

Grand Cayman

This is a tender port and we were off bright and early at 07.30. We enquired about snorkelling, at tourist information and discovered a place called Eden Rock, where equipment can be rented for $14pp. We have our own and paid for flippers and a vest for me. We saw many multi-coloured fish large and small and it was good value for money. Next we walked about 1 mile out of town to a peaceful retreat called Dart Family Park, which is a National Trust venue, mainly for young children, with a play area and chickens, but it was nice to sit and relax in a rural spot.

After this we walked to a bar called ‘Hammerheads’ where free wifi is available, as well a selection of food and drink, but prices are in local dollars, so multiply by 1.25 for $ US. A typical cocktail was expensive at about $10 including tip.

After sampling some rum cake we returned to the ship.

Cozumel

We have booked a catamaran, sail and snorkel trip for $70pp, really to have everything taken care off, rather than trying to find the best place to snorkel and the transport to get there.

The excursion, booked thru Carnival, is run by a company called ‘Fury’. They have 5 catamarans, which run from the various cruise ships in port that day. The company also has its own beach, with loungers, sun shades, cabanas, hammocks etc, as well as primitive restrooms. They offer purified water, Daquiries, sodas and beer, all included in the price, both on board and at the beach. Scattered close to the shore are water trampolines, slides etc and kayaks are also available. Parasailing and wave runners can be rented, but Fury discourage this as they cannot be held responsible for any mishaps.

Soon after leaving the jetty we stopped to snorkel. This is very well organised by the safety conscious crew. Floatation jackets are mandatory and we all kept to a tight formation. The sea was quite choppy and the current strong, but it was very well run. At collection time, the ‘cat’ moved around to sort of scoop us all up!

Then the bar opened and the staff were very keen to serve us and kept offering refills. I thought the alcoholic drinks seemed quite weak until we left the beach, for the return trip.

At the end we were given a farewell talk by the guide, who went on a bit about how impoverished his crew and their families were and how much we should tip them. I didn’t like this and tipped the same as I would have without the ‘speech’!

Disembarkation

We got up at 07.45 and grabbed a quick breakfast, eaten on our balcony and we now await our number to be called. Our number ‘2’, was called at about 09.15 along with numbers 1&3 and then had to wait 1.5 hours in an immigration line, the only line for International customers.

Why is there a need to treat us in this way? We’d already waited 2 hours to get through Dallas. Our car was parked right across the road, and the journey was very easy. As we had the extra day at the beginning of our car rental, we had to be at IAH by 12.30pm, or they would impose a hefty surcharge, so this means a long wait at the airport, hopefully enabling me to complete this trip report.
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