This year, we cruised out of Baltimore, and the great thing about that is that we did not fly. We drove right up to the port, where some very friendly and helpful people take your luggage out of your car before you even park. It's so easy!
We sailed on Celebrity's Mercury, which is an older, smaller ship that will be retired after next year.
Sail away night was very a cold one, so there aren't that many people woopin' it up outside, but I was excited enough to put on the coat and stuff and take a bunch of pictures. They always light up the ship so nicely.
It was a dark and stormy night...the storm was very interesting, but eventually, I must confess that it got to me. Fortunately, this bout of motion sickness didn't last that long.
Our first stop was Charleston. We later learned that this port had actually been closed because of the storm, but our good captain got us in.
Mules are so cute:) Mike & I pulled out the AAA book and we followed one of the walking tours.
I took a whole bunch of pictures, but the two things that struck us were how many houses featured these doors that lead to--the rest of the porch. Also, the crape myrtle trees. They weren't in bloom, but we were fascinated by the bark or lack of bark on these trees. I've never seen anything like them.
Step UP to that porch...
On Tuesday, an at sea day, the weather was pleasant and it was obvious that we were getting closer to warm weather.
On Wednesday, we walked around Key West, and it was very hot, indeed.
We made the annual trek to Sloppy Joe's, of course. To see the Christmas Marlin.
After that, I wanted my picture taken with an alligator.
On Thursday, we were in Nassau. We'd made plans to visit the British Colonial Hilton there, where we purchased a day pass to spend the afternoon on the beach. There weren't very many people there at all, it felt like this was well-kept secret. I was especially impressed by the hotel chef's gingerbread town.
This was a great photo-op for the ship, showing how close this beach was. We enjoyed the day very much; the staff at the Hilton treated us as very welcome visitors, and the day pass included a nice lunch. It was all good.
Friday was supposed to be Coco Cay Day, but again, the sea was too rough to allow tendering (there's no port), so we remained on Nassau. The most interesting thing about staying put was that we got to see the arrival of The Oasis of the Seas, which is Royal Caribbean's new behemoth, holding more than 6,000 passengers. I got a picture of it next to the older Carnival Sensation (which Mike and I sailed on a bunch of years ago).
As Mom pointed out, everyone in our hometown could fit onto that ship. I'd love to tour it, but wouldn't want to sail on it. Imagine how long it must take to get off and on! Tendering is just out of the question.
Saturday was another at sea day, and the ship was a-rockin', but this time, I was fine. In fact, I got up that morning and ran for about half and hour on the ship's deck, and shared the "track" with just one other person. We were probably nuts, but it was fun; the ups and downs were unpredictable, but not so rough as to be injurous. And when else can you have such topsy turvy fun exercising? And when I tell people how much time I spend reading on vacations, they look at me with uncertan expressions, no doubt thinking that that doesn't sound like much fun, but I always look forward to it. Mike won every single Scrabble game, though.
On Sunday, it was too cold to go out, and I spent a lot of time lazing around in a lounge that was on the very top of the ship, so that I could at least get my fill of ocean-gazing. It's weird that I keep forgetting to tell people this, but I saw dolphins. I SAW DOLPHINS!! They looked like toys from where I sat, but there they were, a large group of them, leaping beautifully. They look like such happy creatures.
This year's disembarkation process was very pleasant and convenient. After we walked off the ship, we found our luggage very easily, remembered where we were parked, and yes, the car was covered with snow. However, once again, we encountered some very pleasant people who were there to dig our cars out so we could drive away as other workers were ploughing the lot.
So, two thumbs up for cruising out of Baltimore AND for this particular cruise, which we will do again next year. It will be the last year for the Mercury, and we may get to Coco Cay.