Day 19 to 25 – Tampa & Cruise

Saturday 1st – Saturday 8th September 2018

For the past week, I’ve not maintained a daily blog. We’ve been spending time with very good friends of ours and I wanted to devote all my time and energy to them instead. It’s also a substantial commitment of time and effort to do these daily write-ups. There just isn’t enough time or energy left at the end of the day to keep them going in light of what we’ve been up to. Over the past week, the break in the blog-writing schedule has allowed me to recharge my own batteries a bit more. In retrospect, I think it was the right decision.

On Saturday and Sunday, we drove to Tampa to visit Marc and Anna and their kids, Carly and Anthony. Marc is an ex colleague from my time at CSX Technology in Jacksonville. I’ve kept in touch with him over the years. We never let a visit to Florida pass us by without catching up with Narc and Anna. They are beautiful people that live beautiful lives most people would truly envy – myself included. They are the sort of friends that just accept us for who we are – eccentricities and all. We spent the night at their house, played games, ate together, and just generally chilled out and relaxed. My body must have been telling me something, however. On the Sunday morning, I woke up feeling especially tired and nauseous. Marc and I had consumed but a single bottle of wine between us the night before. Ordinarily, I don’t suffer the ill effects of alcohol, but we were otherwise at a loss as to explain what had happened to me. I did manage to get myself off to breakfast with everyone on Sunday morning, but I spent much of my time zoned out. I was barely functional as a human being, constantly on the verge of vomiting. When we went back to the house, I just had to have a lie down. I didn’t get up for several hours – just in time for a bite to eat before we set off back to Orlando again.

The following morning, we all piled into the car again and set off towards Fort Lauderdale for our five-night cruise. Dave and Jennifer, our very good friends and neighbours from our time living in Jacksonville, Florida, have been on the cruise with us. It has been a real thrill for all of us to be able to spend time with Dave and Jennifer over these past few days. To be completely honest, it’s like the past fifteen years hasn’t elapsed at all. We just sort of fell back into our normal routine of chatting and playing cards together in the evenings. Sheer bliss.

The cruise itself has been a bit of a mixed bag but overall a positive one. We’ve had two full days at sea and two shore days. Our first shore excursion was in Grand Cayman to the Stingray City sandbank. We had lots of fun in the warm waters playing with the rays and snorkelling. The second excursion was in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. We did the river tubing trip. All six of us were donned with life vests and an industrial strength tube to float down the river. Our guide kept us all together, really taking very good care of us all.

It’s hard to say which of the two excursions was the better. Everyone enjoyed them both immensely. We did end up cutting it fine with getting back to the ship before it departed on the second shore day. There was some confusion as to when the ship was supposed to depart. In the event, we were in the last group of people scurrying back on board before they removed the walkway – that was really close!

There is so much I could having written about the past week. Indeed, it would have made for fascinating – and probably hilarious – writing. I could easily have filled a dozen pages for each day. However, to do so would have meant restricting my enjoyment, so I’ll have to content myself with this brief summary instead. Normal operations will resume once we are back in Orlando tomorrow and we commence the two week Universal & Seaworld portion of our theme park odyssey.

In the meantime, here are a selection of photos from the cruise (most of these are still taken from the GoPro vide4o diaries) …