Thursday, March 30, 2017

Living the Dream- Key West

Sharks and Steaks
Tuesday, March 14, 2017

We LOVE Key West! 

This day entailed one of the most exhilarating and exciting things Chris and I have ever experienced... Shark feeding! We got to feed the sharks, see other ocean wildlife, explore Key West and our night ended with an exceptional meal at sea celebrating our 11th anniversary in the Carnival Chef's Art Steakhouse!

After a good night's sleep we woke up at 7:45AM ships time. This is unheard of for us as we are almost always up hours before this on land and even at sea. What can I say, we are just morning people!  We pondered going back to sleep but then Chris jumped up and said "Is our 11AM tour based on central or eastern time?" We laughed and then got up real quick to get the day started as we knew that since this tour was booked outside of Carnival it was going to EASTERN time and we had to be at the meeting spot no later than 10:30AM. I am glad Chris thought of this as we would have surely missed our tour. TIP- Be sure to plan for this is you are using OUTSIDE booking agents for your shore excursion. The ship stays in the time zone of the departure port (usually) so plan accordingly!

We quickly got ready and grabbed our stuff for the rest of the day. We ran up to the Lido for our usually Blue Iguana breakfast before getting off the ship at 9:25AM (Ship/ central time). Luckily the meeting location was just steps away from the ship. We met our tour guide and got everything squared away and then went to explore Mallory Square while we waited for the rest of the passengers to arrive then we boarded the specially built Tiger Cat for our shark feeding adventure.

A view of Mallory Square from the ship. 

The western part of the island looking towards Duval street. 

Greetings from Key West, FL!

The Key West Extreme Adventures booth near Mallory Square! 

The Carnival Dream docked in Key West March 14, 2017!

The boat was catamaran-like with long extensions for the captain and crew to actually feed the sharks. It was VERY windy this day and the waters in the marina of the pier were ROUGH. We sat at the front of the boat for good viewing but we got wet... VERY WET! In fact I moved the 2nd row about 15 minutes into the trip and got drenched from head to toe (poor camera included) on some of the waves. It was only 65* at the time of sailing so we were a little "chilly".

We are ready to feed some sharks!
#livingthedream #cruiselikeadavis #sharkfeeding

We arrived at our shark feeding location about 3-4 miles from the ship and saw some local fishing groups trying to catch the sharks but these sharks were smart. They knew where the REAL food was! The captain and his uncle loaded up the line with large bait fish and then threw it out in the water attached to the pole. Within minutes we had 5-7 large nurse and lemon sharks feeding off the bait. It was absolutely incredible. This went on for nearly 30 minutes and 5-6 fish before we made our way back to the marina area.

This one is the money shot... Just incredible!

This was an AMAZING excursion! These sharks were HUNGRY!

The captain said they have trained the sharks to know when and where to come! 

Nom Nom NOM

Shark feeding video #4

Shark Feeding Video #5


Shark Video #6

After feeding the sharks we went to the northwest side of the island and looked for other ocean wildlife. We found a few dolphins, one of whom had a broken dorsal fin, as well as a giant sea turtle.

The shark feeding is over... time to find some dolphins! 

The captain of our tour said this dolphin has had the messed up dorsal fin for a long time. 

It still was a beautiful sight to watch! 

If you look closely you can see the sea turtle's head! 

Our home away from home, the Carnival Dream, docked in Key West. 

Time to sail back to the marina! 

TIP- This tour was operated by Key West Extreme Adventures. It is a locally and family operated business right out of Key West. The tour was $79/per person and offered shark feeding, ocean wildlife viewing and free snacks and non-alcholic drinks. The tour last 2 hours but they usually only run 1-2 tours a day so book ahead of time. This was WELL WORTH the ticket price and would and will go back again the next time we visit Key West.

After feeding the sharks and viewing the wildlife we made our way back to the cruise terminal with great memories and a loaded camera card! Afterwards we made our way down to Duval street and explored this wild and historically fascinating part of Key West.

We stopped at the original Jimmy Buffet Margaritaville and ate lunch before exploring more of this unique city. We also stopped at a few other local hot spots, enjoyed a few drinks and shopped for lovely souvenirs before making our way back towards the ship.

The "blender" as they called it... Wow, so good! 

Wasting away again in Margaritaville! 

These Caribbean nachos were MUCH BETTER than those we had in Costa Maya on the Valor

The one and only... Original Margaritaville!

The Flying Monkey- Duval St
TIP- Tf you like frozen drinks... it is a MUST stop! 

Once we got back to Mallory Square we got a Chocolate Dipped Key Lime pie to celebrate "Pi Day" (3.14- think MATH) since all of Chris's math teacher friends kept texting him about how they were celebrating! Trust me... our celebration was better than yours!

Happy PI day! 

We crawled back to the ship and had a 20 minute wait before getting back on around 2:30PM ship time. We had already eaten lunch at Margaritaville so we dropped our stuff and headed towards the WaterWorks area. Each Carnival ship has some type of water slide so it is always a goal of ours to go down each one at least once. It was cold, rainy and chilly so we did just that... We went down each slide JUST ONCE! TIP- This WaterWorks area was very similar to the Carnival Magic but was not as detailed. It had 2 large water slides, the Twister and the Drainpipe, as well as 2 Lane Racers. It did not have as many toddler and children toys or splash-pad like things but it was still a great place for kids to hang out.

Time for the TWISTER!
It was AWESOME... even adults should try it out at least once!

The Twister water-slide... as ridden by Kellie!
I absolutely LOVE being able to "be a kid again" on a cruise ship! 

The Drainpipe water-slide.
This one was fun too! 

We were freezing with the wind and the cold temperatures so we opted to go to the Serenity area to get warm in a hot tub. We spent the remainder of the afternoon here before we set sail. The sun came out and we were feeling a burn coming on so we got out and called our kids since we were still in the United States. They, of course, were having a BLAST with Gigi and Poppy and would barely talk to us because they were at the museum. This was exactly what I wanted to hear. Knowing they were having a great time and not thinking about us was perfect. Thank you Gigi Shirley and Poppy (my parents) and GiGi Jackie and Grandpa (Chris's parents who took the later shift). 

After our call we laid down on the bed to review the FunTimes and before you know it, we woke up and we missed sail away completely (I told you we were two VERY TIRED teachers). We got ready for our celebratory evening and made our way to The Chef's Art Steakhouse. TIP- The Chef's Art Steakhouse is an "additional fee" dining option aboard most Carnival ships. It is $35/ per person and allows you to have 1 appetizer, 1 salad, 1 entree and 1 dessert. The menu is full of high class options and prime cut meat. This ship allowed you to substitute the salad for a 2nd appetizer and both Chris and I did this. If you option to eat at the Steakhouse on the 1st night they will offer you a bottle of FREE house wine OR 50% off all of their other wines and we now know Carnival offers a HUGE selection of fine wines in the Steakhouse including our favorite, Caymus. It is a great deal if you are willing to dine in there on the 1st evening.

This was an incredible evening of some of the tastiest food we have had at sea. We have had the steakhouse on Royal Caribbean, Chops, and fell in love with it so we were constantly trying to do a side by side comparison. This was difficult as we had not eaten at Chops since the Serenade in 2015 but we still feel each are a great way to spend an evening at sea. The service was outstanding and the food was phenomenal. It was a great way to celebrate each other and 11 years together. They even treated us to a special dessert prepared by the chef as well as champagne. Again, Carnival's level of service has never ceased to amaze me but they went above and beyond on this trip!

Dragana, our waitress, was excellent and we enjoyed her so much! 
Easily the absolute BEST STEAK I have ever eaten!

Happy 11th Anniversary Chris Davis! I love you so much and I am so grateful for you and our marriage! Cheers to 11+ more years! 

After dinner we explored the aft of the ship and listened to the sounds of the waves before going back to the room to change into comfortable clothes as this is our, well really Chris's, style. We were able to catch the late night variety and illusionist act of Bobby Borgia and he was fantastic. We enjoyed him very much and if he were in Las Vegas we would actually pay to see the show again!

We ended the night back in the comedy lounge to hear Tommy Drake perform his final show for our voyage. Once again, this was an "adults only" show and he did a fantastic job of being funny without cursing every other word. We made our way back to the room shortly after midnight. The next morning we had an early shore excursion so we knew we had better rest up.

This remarkable day was spent feeding sharks and feeding ourselves but we wouldn't have had it any other way! We visit a new port of Freeport, Bahamas the next day and were excited to see what it has to offer!

Thanks for following along! Be sure to check back for tomorrow's post! 

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