Day of Embarkation
This is a cruise my parents took my family on during the summer of 2006. They had gone on the same cruise with my dad’s company, and they liked it so much, they wanted to treat all of us. We were happy to indulge. This was interesting as Davis family vacations go as this is the only I can remember where we did not get into some prolonged fight or argument. I am writing this 9 years after the fact, but I will try to recall the best I can some of the more important events. Luckily, I have over 1100 pictures that we took to look through to help me reconstruct the events.
Kellie and I had only been married a few months at this point as we had been married in March 2006. This was our second vacation together; the first being our honeymoon. We left our apartment in Norman, OK and drove down to Arp to spend the night with Kellie’s parents. We took our beagle Abbey for them to keep. She was just a young puppy at the time, and I think they had a good time watching her. We woke up, and ate a big breakfast and began our trek to Houston. Our family had decided to all stay at an Embassy Suites in Houston the night before the cruise. Since they were coming from Lubbock, we easily made it before them. I decided to drive down to Galveston and check out the cruise terminal a day early just to get the lay of the land. After that, we drove back to Houston and met my family for supper. The next morning we woke up and had a big breakfast at the hotel restaurant, then we loaded up and headed to our ship.
|The Carnival Conquest|
When we arrived at the cruise terminal, we dropped off Mom, D’Ann, and John with the luggage, while Dad, Kellie and I parked the cars. On the shuttle ride back, the driver said most people gain 1 lb a day while on a cruise to which my dad replied with his now famous words, “We Davises are overachievers, we are going to gain 2lbs a day!”. We got back to the terminal where we went through customs and then waited on the gangway for about an hour to board the ship. Our rooms weren't ready yet so we immediately went to the Lido deck on deck 12 to get hamburgers, pizza, and other fare while waiting for the rooms. The pizza was okay, but the burgers were very good
|Kellie sitting on our balcony|
Around 3:00 we entered our rooms on the 6th deck, known as the “upper” deck. Mom and dad, stayed in a room next to John and D’Ann’s, while Kellie and I stayed a few doors down. My parents were generous enough to spring for balconies for all of us. We spent the next hour sitting on our balcony and watching all the sights. I noticed a HUGE flock of birds forming not far away, and I wondered what moron was attracting them. I looked out my balcony to see my family members were tossing Cheetos at them attracting dozens of them. Before sailing away, we had to go to a muster drill. We put our life vest on and waited. Apparently we waited too long as they had to come and get us out of our room and bring us to the muster station. We were some of the last to arrive
|Kellie and I getting ready for our muster meeting|
We were now cleared to leave the Galveston; we hung out on our balcony for a while and watched as land floated away. We were escorted out of the harbor by dolphins and flying fish swimming alongside the ship. What a wonderful spectacle it was to see. Sailing out of Galveston was unique as we saw dozens of oil tankers waiting off the shore, apparently they would wait there until the price of oil increased, and then they would bring their oil in. We opted for the early seating in the Renoir dining room which was located in the aft of the ship. Our first table was a large round table which we shared with a family of three. It was at the very back, and right over the engines. The vibration generated an incredible amount of shaking, so this was our last night to eat at this table, the next night they moved us to a table for six for the rest of the week located more forward in the restaurant. Our new waiter was named James; he was from the Turks and Caicos, and he was very good. The food in the main dining room was very good. John, my dad, and I each ordered two entrees every night. They also hit the desserts hard, while I usually opted for a collection for cheeses as my desserts. I don’t remember everything that I ordered, but I do remember some of things that I had that were very good: Prime Rib, Beef Wellington, a chicken with a foie gras sauce (was amazingly good), escargot, and lots of steak.
That night we all went to the Welcome aboard show, it was probably the most entertaining show of the whole cruise. We ordered virgin strawberry daiquiris. They had many of the ships executives and we were introduced to the cruise director. Afterword, we did what Davises do best; we went to the casino and gambled. This was Kellie’s first ever experience gambling and I think she liked it. Kellie and I played just a few slots; we probably didn't spend more than 20 minutes combined gambling for the whole cruise. When we had our fill we made our way back to our cabin and balcony, while my dad won a $400 bingo jackpot. Another unique aspect of sailing out of Galveston is that at night you can see the lights of hundreds of offshore oil rigs as you sail by.
The next day was a day at sea; we woke up early and headed to the buffet for breakfast. We saw my mom there, but the others were nowhere to be found, this would become a recurring theme for breakfast on the ship. John and D’Ann slept in on the sea days. The omelets were delicious and worth the wait. Around 10 we met my mom in the lobby for sports trivia. We decided to check out some of the perks of the ship. We swam in the pools, relaxed in the hot tubs, and even found our way to the giant water slide. Dad mostly spent his time in the casino during the first and second days. All the family met at Restaurant Cezanne (buffet) for lunch. This would become standard for us during the cruise. The theme of the buffet that day was American, and we ate ourselves silly. At 2:30, Kellie, mom and I met at the piano bar for name that tune. We lounged on our balcony for awhile and then Kellie and I got suited up to go take some pictures. It was formal night so I wore a nice suit. At 5:45 we met the others in the Monet Dining room for fine dining. Afterword, we attended the production Formidable, it was a Las Vegas style dance show. It was okay; unfortunately it wouldn't get better after that night.
This was the second sea day and I actually got up this morning to do a little jogging on the outdoor track. I ended up jogging 1.1 miles, and it included breathtaking scenery of the ocean. By the end of my jog, the boat was noticeably swaying, which would plague us all day long. We did our early morning buffet and omelets with mom. Dad was not there, but was easily found him in the casino. Mom decided to try her luck at the penny slots. Kellie and I toured around the ship and listened to some classical music. D’Ann worked out at the ship’s fitness center for a while, which is surprisingly nice. John spent most of his time on the Lido deck eating ice cream and hamburgers. We later found out he averaged about 6 ice cream cones a day for the entire cruise. The buffet was busy as usual and the theme of the day was Indian food. Needless to say, I went and got hamburgers and pizzas for Kellie and I.
|John enjoying a hamburger|
At noon, John and Dad entered into a slot tournament. I had not planned on it, but after their group went, I joined the next group. None of us won the tournament. At 2:30 we went and watched the “Deal or no Deal” bingo game, but did not participate. I am not a lay in the sun type of person, but I joined Kellie and mom on the main deck for a while to listen to a Caribbean band and soak up some sun. At 3:45 we participated in TV theme trivia, to which mom was the only one who knew every single one of the answers. Our after dinner was Ron Joseph, and his Motown and R&B music. He was upbeat, but that is the best I can say for him. The biggest event of the night was dad winning a $1000 jackpot on a wheel of fortune machine. He drew a large crowd as his machine spun threw his winnings. From his winnings, dad gave each of us $100, along with the casino hostess. He only kept $100 for himself and gave the rest to mom. Kellie and I were now $200 richer, so we decided to go back to the room.
|My beautiful wife backed by the Jamaican landscape|
|Kellie showing off her musical talents|
|I jumped into the river, for a "refreshing" swim|
Today, we made port at Grand Cayman. Because of the shallow waters, we had to lower anchor offshore and take a tender into Georgetown. Tendering is definitely not the preferred method of debarkation. In sharp contrast to Jamaica, Grand Cayman is wealthy. Visitors are greeted with a Rolls Royce dealership as they step off the boat; this is followed by many other expensive shops. For this port we chose to visit the stingray sandbar. This is popular destination in the Cayman islands is a sandbar where stingrays gather to be fed by humans. It did not disappoint. We took a 30 minute boat ride out to the sandbar, all the while, our guide gave us a demonstration on how to properly walk among, feed, and even
catch these stingrays in the wild. We were a little leery of these creatures
since they still had their stingers on them.
After our cruise, Steve Irwin, the legendary crocodile hunter, a man who
had battled crocodiles, snakes, and countless other dangerous beasts was killed
by a stingray. If this had happened
before the cruise, I don’t think I could have convinced Kellie to go out among
the stingrays. We fed the squid to the
stingrays and I was even able to catch an extremely large one. We all had a great
time except for mom who is uncomfortable in water and did not like the way the
waves pushed her around.
|Kellie and I caught a stingray|
|D'Ann, John, and Kellie on the way back from the Stingrays|
Before returning to the Conquest, Kellie and I walked around Grand Cayman for a bit, looking at all the different banks and high-end boutiques. We got our usual souvenirs which included a coffee mug, a snow globe, a magnet, and t-shirts. Strangely enough, we had no problems finding snow globes in any Caribbean port. The theme of the buffet this day was Caribbean, I did not like the jerk chicken as much this time around, but found a taste for it later in life. This was the second formal night of the cruise, so Kellie and I dressed nicely and took some more pictures. We would end up purchasing quite a few photos from the photo gallery. My mom paid for these photos, for which we greatly appreciate, and some still adorn the hallways in our house. D’Ann did not join us this night, and decided to dine at the sushi bar instead. The main show that night was called “Point and Click”, it was a musical about two people of different socio-economic statuses meet and fall in love online. It was infinitely disappointing. Kellie tried the room service this night and found their BLT’s to be quite tasty. This became a nightly ritual from here on out.
|Kellie and I at Playa del Carmen|
|Kellie loved the dolphins!|
|Mom and Dad on the way back to the boat|
This was our final sea day, and we used this time to rest and relax. We ate at the chocolate buffet for lunch. We all were astonished to see John arrive at our table with 32 chocolate milkshakes he had gotten for himself. To his credit, they were in very small glasses (Like smaller than a shot glass). Next provided the only controversial moment of the cruise as D’Ann took one of John’s cookies he had collected. This was pretty good for as Davis vacations go. The chefs on the boat were true artists with both the taste and the appearance of the food. Some of their displays during both the chocolate extravaganza and the food gala were spectacular. Kellie and I listened to some of the musicians on the ship and at 2:30 we entered the mega bingo game to win a free cruise. We were one space away from winning for four separate numbers, when someone else called bingo! Again, we did not go to any shows this night. My family spent their time in the casino while Kellie and I hung out at the back of the boat eating pizza and ice cream before getting into the hot tubs.
This morning, we chose to eat at the main dining room for breakfast. It was incredible, and we wished we had eaten there every day of the cruise. We vowed not to make the same mistake on our next cruise (7 years later). We left our rooms before our deck was called only to find an incredibly long line waiting for us. After finding our luggage, we hit the road bound for Arp to retrieve Abbey and tale our many tales.
It was an incredible cruise and we owe all the thanks to my mom and dad for taking us on this amazing Caribbean adventure! I hope we can do it again soon!
God is Good... ALL the time!