Sailing the Ocean Blue Part I

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Well, it certainly has been a while. I feel like every time I sit down to write a blog post, I get sucked in by something else and "I'll do it tomorrow" turns into "I'll do it in three months." In any case, WOW. Lots has been going on. Winter is long-gone, summer is fast-approaching, and sunny days full of adventures are on the horizon. Never mind that it was below freezing this morning. Thanks, Ohio.

So these next few posts are going to be long and filled with an excessive amount of photos, so if you make it to the end, I applaud you.

I just got back from my second of two cruises this year, and have so much to share! Many of you who follow my Facebook page know that I'm a fairly recent cruise addict, going on my third and fourth cruises here in 2016. There is something just surreal about walking on board a massive floating city, being greeted with music and lights and smiles and trays of drinks with little umbrellas in them. I've cruised with Carnival on all four, and the party pretty much never stops.

 

carnival conquest cruise ship

 

Three out of the four cruises I've been on have been on this beauty, the Carnival Conquest. She was the first ship I ever sailed on and definitely has a very special place in my heart. I can still remember walking through the doorway of the lobby atrium for the first time and being in awe that this thing could float. Getting back on this ship kind of feels like going home. 

My mom and I hopped aboard on April 30, for our third cruise together on the Conquest. We picked an 8-night Southern Caribbean itinerary that we did last year, because we liked the ports so much. First up after a day at sea was Grand Turk, then the Dominican Republic (La Romana), then Curaçao (Willemstad), and lastly my favorite place: Aruba (Oranjestad). After that, two days at sea until we got back to Fort Lauderdale. 

The first sea day always has a special feel. The whole week is stretching out in front of you, filled with possibilities and memories to make. We have coffee and juice delivered by room service every morning, and that acts as our alarm clock. I always can't wait to get up to the Lido deck and score a chair by the edge of the ship, because looking out over the edge at an endless stretch of ocean is just magical. 

 

carnival conquest deck chairs

 

ocean from a cruise ship

 

My mom and I are both total sun worshippers (I know, I know. We wear lots of sunscreen. We just have dark skin. My mom to the point that several strangers felt the need to make comments, and both of us had our nationality questioned on more than one occasion) so we spend all day relaxing, enjoying fruity drinks, and people watching. We get to know the bar servers at the pool quite well. Shout out to Pebrianto - you are the MAN and never let my margarita glasses run dry. 

 

mother daughter cruise

 

Nights on the ship are always wonderful. Three course dinners every night, losing all of our money in the casino (it was definitely not kind to us this year!), listening to the band in the lobby, going to theater shows, going to comedy shows, going out onto the open decks to look at the stars. Oh and getting photos taken!

 

elegant night carnival cruise

 

So first stop was Grand Turk. We love this port because you just walk off the ship and the beach is right there. And the beach has places that serve tasty adult beverages that are totally acceptable to drink at 10am.

 

grand turk beach drinks

 

grand turk beach cruise port

 

grand turk beach cruise ship dock

 

The water in Grand Turk is gorgeous, and it's really cool to be able to swim so close to the ship. What I didn't know that I learned this year was that if you swim out deep enough, you can see all sorts of fish. Or an eel, as the adorable couple next to us said, much to the dismay of my mother. Apparently there are also barracudas, because some guy got a bite taken out of his toe. Some ladies told us that if you see a barracuda, it's important to move around a lot, because it will scare them away. If you stay still, they will have a snack on your toes. 

 

grand turk ocean water

 

carnival cruise ship grand turk

 

grand turk snorkeling photos

 

grand turk snorkeling underwater photo

 

Sailing away from Grand Turk is always beautiful and the gradation of the water is something you almost have to see to believe. 

 

carnival conquest bridge

 

grand turk turks and caicos

 

grand turk island

 

grand turk boats

 

Next stop was La Romana, Dominican Republic. Both times we have visited this port we have taken a Carnival excursion to a private island called Isla Catalina. You take a 30 minute tender ride there and are pretty much dropped off in paradise. 

 

la romana dominican republic

 

carnival conquest la romana dominican republic

 

la romana excursion boat

 

isla catalina dominican republic

 

catalina island dominican epublic

 

isla catalina beach sign

 

The local people greet you with rum punch, help you get chairs, my mom and I got brave and ate hot dogs and didn't die. The weather was funny that day - the forecast called for rain, and there were definitely dark clouds all around the island. However, the sun stayed out over the island pretty much the entire time, like it was shining just for us. 

We love the water here, because not only is it warm, it always has the most perfect rolling waves that can totally take you out when you're entering the water if you are unsteady on your feet. We love to let them roll over us and were in the water more than we were out of it.

 

dominican republic flag isla catalina

 

dominican republic beach vacation

 

caribbean sea isla catalina

 

caribbean sea dominican republic

 

catalina island beach

 

catalina island beach boat

 

We had the best day here. Met a bunch of really cool ladies who gave us lots of laughs. It still amazes me the vibe that most people have while on a cruise together. Strangers become friends within minutes (trust me, from some of the things these ladies were sharing with us, you would think we had known each other for years). You are really get attached to some people on the ship, and it's the weirdest thing to know that in just a few days you will all go back to different homes all over the country and world, and will most likely never cross paths again. 

We wandered around the shops once we got back to the port, but it was insanely hot so we went up and parked in our usual spots on Lido deck so we could enjoy the breeze and watch us sail away.

 

carnival conquest gangway

 

carnival conquest at sea

 

carnival conquest lido deck

 

sunset at sea from cruise ship

 

Well that is probably enough for now. I will continue about Curaçao and Aruba in a second post, because I have soooo many photos and also a couple videos that I need to see if I am able to post. We did a snorkeling excursion in Aruba where we swam with the fishes over a shipwreck, and I would love to be able to share a video or two!

Sitting here I kinda can't believe that it's all over and that I'm at home. I'm in a sweatshirt and sweatpants because it's so cold, but I refuse to turn my heat on in May. No. No no no. Vacations go by so fast. No more coffee delivery, no more breakfast tacos, no more islands and beaches and sun. Despite the obvious, uh, monetary setbacks that have come along with being a self-employed artist, one of the things I am most grateful for is the ability to travel more. I don't want things. I will live in this little apartment in Columbus and drive my 8-year-old Saturn into the ground. Shop at thrift stores, eat Ramen noodles. cut my own hair (okay I have only done that once), whatever it takes. Seeing the world is so much more important to me.

On that note, time to go fill some orders. If you made it this far, thank you for reading along! Part II to come soon! :)

READ PART II HERE:  https://www.jenndalyn.com/blog/sailing-ocean-blue-part-ii

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