Before I begin, I wanted to mention the excellent toast that Kenny gave at the wedding reception. He read the Irish blessing:
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.
Julie and I spent the night at the Proximity hotel. We had one more lunch with Julie’s mom’s family and spent one more night at Julie’s dad’s house. We left and returned to Live Oak on Wednesday, July 22nd. We didn’t really have time to do much. We found a local veterinarian’s office that boards cats and a very inexpensive rate ($9 a day per cat). We dropped off the cats on Saturday morning (July 25th) and set off for West Melbourne, FL. My friend from undergrad, David lives down there. We checked into the Americas Best Value Inn down there. We called David to hang out. We ate dinner at a seafood restaurant (the name I cannot remember), hung out at his place, and had some ice cream at Ben and Jerry’s (don’t think I’ve ever been to one before). We caught up a bit and figured out the arrangements for the morning. After that, we went back to the hotel and slept. The hotel was decently priced (or at least it was after Julie found a discounted rate), but the hotel itself wasn’t very great. It wasn’t the best, and it wasn’t the worst. The outside of our room smelled like alcohol, as if someone smashed a bottle of booze, and no one bothered to clean it up. The sheets and the bathroom seemed clean, although there were water stains on the walls and ceiling. The biggest complaint was probably that there were ants in the room. Fortunately, none of them stung us. Finally, the last complaint was with the continental breakfast. It had pretty abnormal selections for a continental breakfast (rather missing the “continental” part). The choices for drink were coffee and whole milk (no water, ice, or juice). So yeah, I give the place a 2 or a 3 out of 5 or so. At any rate, we slept, so the place served its purpose. We parked Julie’s car at David’s place and he took us to Port Canaveral. (On a humorous side note, people had tried to correct us when we told them “Port Canaveral.” They would tell us that it is “Cape Canaveral”, when actually Port Canaveral is the name of the port in Cape Canaveral.) The trip from West Melbourne to Port Canaveral felt longer than I thought it would. When we arrived at the port, we saw how huge the ship was. The Freedom of the Seas (at least for the moment) is of the largest class ship; they’re still building one that is larger. I recommend looking up the ship on Wikipedia or something to get an idea. We had no trouble getting onto the ship. Someone took our bags, and they checked our passports once. We got onto the boat a bit early (or at least earlier than most, I think). The first few hours on the ship were very unpleasant for me. When we got onto the ship, we were told that our rooms were not ready and that we could go to deck 12 aft for lunch, so that’s where we went. The problem was that the place to eat (the Windjammer and the Jade) would not open for about another hour, and everyone else got the same instructions we did. There were so many people in the hallway, and the ship was so high. I started to feel extreme anxiety; I’m afraid of both heights and crowds. Normally, it isn’t really a problem for me, but I felt trapped, and I started to feel sick. Eventually, everything opened up, and after sitting down for a while and getting some water I felt better. I had a pretty bad first impression, but that was the only real problem I had. The first day, we mostly tried to explore the ship, but we didn’t see 14 decks of it yet. We found a lot of things, where to eat, where dinner would be, the three pool areas, the hot tubs, the mini-golf course, the ping pong tables, the basketball court, the climbing wall, the promenade (like a small shopping mall), and the library. I thought we would have Internet access on the ship (I would have done some microblogging), and it was an option… wireless Internet for $.55 per minute. That seemed pretty steep so we did not use it. Not as steep as using the ships phones or cell phones, which was $7.95 per minute to the continental USA. The food on the ship was pretty amazing. We only would go to the sit down dinner the first and last nights though. We did not really like the formal nature of it all, and we tended to not eat at the time that we were to be seated (8:30). At the sit down dinner, we were sat down by two Florida girls about our age (can’t recall their names). They said they were given the cruise as a college graduation gift (I didn’t know people got college graduation gifts). When we told them we were there for our honeymoon, they began to tell us about their boyfriends and how they either were or were not ready to marry them. The next day we would stop at Coco Cay island, which is owned by the cruise line. A number of excursions could be purchased from the interactive TV for each port, most of which were out of range for how much money we had planned to spend. We purchased snorkeling at Coco Cay, which would be the cheapest place to purchase it, which would be the only excursion we would purchase. A side note about the TV system on the cruise: It wasn’t any good. I think it might have just prerecorded TV. The same episodes of the same shoes played over and over again multiple times a day. The ship did not dock at the port at Coco Cay, but rather tender ships went back and forth carrying people. We picked up our snorkeling equipment for rental. It did not include a locker to put our shoes, etc, so we had to purchase that as well. We listened to the snorkeling orientation and went in. I didn’t notice as soon as Julie did, but the waters were full of little purple jelly fish. I didn’t notice them until I was pretty far out, and somehow Julie got separated from me. Every direction I looked, there were clouds of them, so I kind of just swam through them to try to get back to shore. Then, out of no where, a stingray swam right under me. It kind of freaked me out a little bit (maybe I started having relapses from my master’s degree research project or something). So, I got out the water; I’m thinking that snorkeling would be more fun if the water were cooler. After that, we ate lunch on the island, which was the same style as the buffets on the ship but with less variety. We then did a nature trail which took it us to the other side of the island. The nature trail had signs describing the various vegetation around the islands. I really liked the nature trail, but Julie didn’t wear the shoes for it, so I think we may have stopped before the end of it. The next day, we were at sea. Wednesday, we stopped at St. Thomas. I think St. Thomas was my favorite of the stops; although, I had no prepared for it, because I very quickly became dehydrated. We thought about taking a tour of the island from a guy who randomly talked to us, but we didn’t want to spend the money on it, and it all seemed a little shady to us (being the untrusting continental Americans that we are). We took a taxi downtown and found a jewelry shop. We got a coupon from the cruise for being newly weds for a few pearl pendant from the place. We got it and a gold chain to hang it from. At another shop, I also got her a conch shell charm for the charm bracelet (her wedding present from me). I liked St. Thomas a lot, but it seemed very… stereotypical. Perhaps it is just the area that tourists get to see. It seemed like every shop was a jewelry shop. Problem was, most of the jewelry in the various shops could easily be purchased in the States for less. I don’t feel that I got a good sense of the culture or the history of the island, which was what I had hoped to find. We went back to the ship for lunch, and after that we went back out and stopped at a butterfly farm new the dock. The butterfly farm was pretty cool and educational. We took a lot of pictures there (check phpGraphy). This was where I got my one souvenir; I got a butterfly cap there. I think this was about the time we discovered that there was a movie theater on the cruise ship. We ended up watching two movies there, I think One of the was The Dark Night, which we had seen once or twice before. The other was The Express, which we hadn’t seen before. We watched The Express after St. Thomas, but we left early because Julie got a migraine. We went back to our room for the night. Thursday we were at Sint Maarten, which apparently is a split jurisdiction. The south side of the island was Dutch Sint Maarten. The north side was French St. Martin. The south side also speaks English, and we docked there. Julie and I took lots of pictures and walked around seeing the island for a while. Sint Maarten was pretty expensive compared to the previous islands, and it had the same feel as St. Thomas: Lots of jewelry shops, people asking to braid Julie’s hair. Julie got herself a color changing tank top from a shop here with Sint Maarten written on it. The same for St. Thomas goes for Sint Maarten: Very touristy, but also very pretty. Unless you’ve been there, you couldn’t believe how much Bob Marley material was for sale in the Caribbean (even outside Jamaica). Friday and Saturday were both spent at sea, headed back toward Florida. On the last days on the cruise, we went to three shows in the theatre (not the movie theatre). The first was a live game show style show called Love and Marriage. Three couples were chosen from the audience, the shortest married, longest married, and one in between. Each couple sent away each spouse and they were each asked four questions. The spouse was brought back in and asked the same question to see if their answers matched up. The next thing we saw was some sort of game where each team was required to find things or do things for the host. Things like, “find someone in your team with false teeth”, etc. The last show was a farewell show. It had acrobats, a comedian, a band… The last night, we went to eat at the sit down dinner. For some reason, the same two girls from before were not there. We didn’t get any explanation other than they were reseated. The head waiter was concerned about us not returning to the sit down dinner, and we tried to explain to him that we were happy with the service, but we ate later and ate at the other restaurants. The morning we returned to shore (August 2nd), we had to wake up very early (a real shocker for us). I called David, who had been sick the entire week we were gone, to come pick us up. We ate lunch with him at ihop and said our goodbyes. The air in Florida felt extremely thick and hot; being away for a week made us forget I guess. I drove the entire way back home to Live Oak, since Julie drove the entire way to Melbourne first.
Well, this looks like a really long entry, but to me, I felt like I was really brief on a lot of things. It was an awesome honeymoon. Lots of memories. I’m sure Julie will comment or something about areas where I was too brief or mention something I left out.