Our 2015 Vision of the Seas Cruise: What We Ate

We took a 7-day Royal Caribbean cruise on the Vision of the Seas to visit the Western Caribbean for my 30th birthday/pre-wedding honeymoon. We visited Cozumel and Costa Maya in Mexico, Georgetown in Grand Cayman, and Belize City in Belize, sandwiched between 2 days at sea cruising.

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{Saturday: Embarkation Day}

Lunch

We got on the boat right around the time that Autumn eats lunch (12-13.30) so we immediately went up to the 9th deck to grab food in the Windjammer restaurant.  Plus, we couldn’t get into our room until after 1pm anyway.  So we grabbed some food and some chairs by the pool for lunch.  They offered a lot of options but we just grabbed some burgers, fries, and fruit.  Plus, on a whim I grabbed a hot dog which Autumn actually enjoyed, which was a big win and a first. As well, she ate almost a whole Kiwi. Where does she put it? I wish I had her secret.

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Autumn had her first taste of ice cream!

Dinner

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We selected My Time Dining which allowed flexibility in dining time.  We weren’t too sure how Autumn would do at the end of long days full of activities. Ultimately, we always picked the 5.30pm seating since it was the closest to the time that Autumn normally eats dinner and allows us to eat at an adult time.

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We arrived right at 5.30 for our My Time dinner reservation at the Aquarius dining room. We were seated pretty quickly and from there our waiters, menus, and bread arrived shortly after that in succession. Our server Peamkait and his assistant Shandy were great the whole dinner, and every subsequent dinner.  Quick, friendly, and really sweet to Autumn, youngest of 4 infants on board and therefore youngest person on the entire cruise 🙂

I wasn’t too sure what the policy was for ordering dinner for a baby, but Peamkait reminded me that we did pay for her and to order whatever we thought she would like.  We took advantage of his generosity and went for yogurt and fruit.  So that worked that night and from then on.

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Each dinner is a three course experience with mainstay entrees and special menu items for each course that changes from one day to the next.  Our first course begin with their coconut soup with seafood in it while Price got the shrimp cocktail, and we ordered the fresh seasonal fruit for Autumn.  I think that because she ate so much fruit at lunch she didn’t want it for dinner but we tried and it was really good with the lime syrup.  As for my soup, both Autumn and I loved it.  She probably had more than me! It was creamy, with the exception of the pieces of seafood in there and the thin vegetable garnishes on top. Price’s shrimp cocktail was simple but really good with 6 fairly large shrimp.  Once served to you they quickly follow up with the cocktail sauce, serving you how much you would like.

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The theme for the first night dinner was ‘Mojo’, in reference to the seasoning.  While the pork, using mojo sounded great, we stuck with some ‘classics’ and ordered chicken and prime rib. I loved the chicken breast with the gravy and steamed veggies and backed potato. The chicken was very juicy and the sauce seasoned perfectly (I often find that sauces tend to be too salty but it wasn’t). The side of vegetables were steamed perfectly, not soggy at all which quickly.  I shared my dinner with Autumn, who wasn’t into it as much as getting it on my phone (youtube!) and eating ice cubes (I think she learned that from the dog…)

Price’s prime rib was a hit as well.  It was cooked a perfect medium rare with enough sauce for each bite but not swimming in sauce to overwhelm the steak.  The baked potato was a wonderful side along with the same side vegetables as me.  Excellent!

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Autumn was antsy (to be expected) so I took her out of the restaurant to help her walk loops around the main atrium (this was a constant occurrence throughout dinner each night and many people stopped by to comment on how cute she was). She loved to watch everyone and listen to the live music being played below.

Dessert took the longest to arrive, but I don’t fault our servers or the kitchen, everyone hustles. Had we not had Autumn we probably wouldn’t have minded or even noticed.

I got the BB crème brule and Price got a berry cobbler. The crème brule was fantastic but Price’s was the clear winner of the night.  The cobbler was full of fresh berries with warm cobbler topping and vanilla ice cream.

{Sunday: Day at Sea Cruising}

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It was my Birthday!!!

Breakfast

We headed up to the Windjammer (9th deck) to grab breakfast.

There are several large stations to give you plenty of options ranging from deli meat and cheeses, bacon, sausages, scrambled eggs, French toast, beans, fritatas, cereal, oatmeal, fresh fruit, and yogurt. Plus, there is an omelette station which usually has the longest line but moves quickly.

I enjoyed a veggie omelette with some potato tots and fruit.

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The best thing about having a lot of things to select from is that it gave us plenty of options for Autumn to enjoy.  It’s tough to know what she wants to eat so making one thing at home then have her not eat one bite compared to an entire buffet of choices so she can find something is a huge relief!

Lunch

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We had lunch at the Park Cafe, which is in the area were the adult only serenity pool (9th deck) is located.  The cafe is very small, similar to a concession stand, in size, section, and food preparation.

We tried Park Cafe as the lines were long at the Windjammer and I was interested in the salads that they freshly prepare for you.  While in line we saw that they had sandwiches as well.  In trying to pick something that Autumn would like we got a grilled cheese, a quesadilla to go along with the salad that was assembled from the things we picked, similar to ordering a sandwich at a Subway restaurant.

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To say that this meal was a disappointment was an understatement. It was just a bad meal. The salad was good but the grilled cheese and quesadilla were tepid, if that. Both were prepared in advanced and then microwaved, and not well at that. The items on display made it appear that they were assembled and then put in an panini press to warm/cook, but looks were deceiving as the grilled cheese wasn’t grilled or melted fully.

Price ran to get us more food from the Windjammer, which was much appreciated.

Dinner

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With Autumn at the nursery we were able to enjoy dinner at Izumi, the Asian restaurant on board.  It was my 30th birthday so we decided to change things up and go out to dinner at one of their specialty restaurants instead of dining in the main dinner room.  Royal Caribbean has amazing dinning services in their main dining room but does offer other specialty dinning areas.  Izumi was new to Visions and had an excellent selection of Asian cuisine.

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We started with some complimentary edamame and cocktails.  The Lychee martini was very strong but a welcome pour for a birthday drink.  Plus, the loveliest hue of pink!

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Complementary miso soup soon followed to entice our paletes.  We perused the menus and settled on a few rolls, sushi, and a hot rock entree.

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All of the food was tasty and fresh.  The delivery and presentation was quick and pleasing to the eyes.  Once we finished our sushi and rolls when started with the hot rock.

The hot rock is just what it sounds like. It is a 575 degree square rock (not toddler complant!) used to cook meat and veggies.  We chose chicken and steak and had fun with the interactive experience for dinner.  It was similar to a shabu dinner but with really hot stones instead.

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We ordered the Dorayaki Pancake for our dessert. It was a pancake, but the flavors and textures were elevated so it wasn’t your normal breakfast pancake.  Plus, it had some red bean paste in the center of it.  So good! It was served with large wedges of caramelized banana and ice cream.

The restaurant sent of their Asian-Inspired Caramel Flan to celebrate my birthday.  I loved the pancake but the flan was good too.  It was a ginger infused caramel flan set atop a banana leaf.  It was a lovely simple presentation.

{Monday: George Town, Grand Cayman}

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Breakfast

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In addition to dinner and lunch in the Aquarius dining room, they also serve breakfast.

We opted to try the Aquarius dining room for breakfast to see if they offered anything different than the Windjammer.  Generally, it was the same, but the food was served to you.  We did notice that they had the most amazing airy sugary donuts there that were not served in the Windjammer.  I couldn’t have eaten 6 of those little buggers!

Lunch

We were at the public beach along Seven Mile beach in Grand Cayman at lunch time.  I debated getting some freshly made conch salad ($7) but wasn’t too sure if Price would like it and we had limited cash for plan B.  So I just got some fries sprinkled with a seasoned salt ($4).  They were made to order from the Native Delight food truck, which was run by 2 very serious women.  They were efficient in the small space, like they were on a mission to make your food.  It was pretty cool to see them in sync.

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We did grab some food from the Windjammer once we were back on board as we had only split the fries.

Dinner

We did a 5.30pm My Time dinner reservation again.  This time we arrived a bit before 5.30 to get in line and get in quickly.  We quickly figured out what we wanted for dinner to keep things moving along- important with a fidgety 14 month old!

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I started with the BLT Salad with Blue Cheese dressing and Price had the escargot.  We both loved out starters.  Price especially loved how buttery, garlicky, and cheesy the escargot was.

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Normally Price and I don’t order the same thing for dinner so we can share/split, but we were both craving steak so we broke our rule and ordered the same thing.  It was worth it to both order the NY Skirt Steak.  The steak that was served with sautéed mushrooms, wilted spinach, a roasted tomato half, steak fries, and a sauce made with Portobello mushrooms, which was the ingredient theme for dinner.

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 I will always love roasted tomatoes.  And steak fries dipped in a pan sauce never hurts.

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And Autumn thoroughly enjoyed the yogurt that our servers brought for her!

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Of course by then Autumn had to stretch her legs so we took turns walking her around the Centrum and outside while our plates were cleared and out desserts were brought over. Price had the Drunken Kahlua Cake and I had the Honey Walnut Tart, which was served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  I think that we both thought that we ‘won’ that round of dessert since both were great in their own ways and both were exactly what we wanted.

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Oh damn, these photos melt my heart!!

Side note- If you happen to not want to eat in the main dinner room but prefer the flexibility of dinner at the Windjammer, don’t worry about missing out on the amazing desserts featured in the main dinner room as they are served there as well. I noticed on a trip to get some tea later on at night that they had the Drunken Kahlua Cake and Honey Walnut Tart as well. Of course, the presentation is different but just as good.

{Tuesday: Cozumel, Mexico}

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Breakfast

Since Autumn had gotten up so, so early we had to wait for the Windjammer Café (9th Deck) to open at 7am with a crowd of people.  There was some confusion as to what side of the Windjammer would open up so whole queue had to move to the other side. I think some better signage would have helped.

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We just grabbed a bunch of stuff since we had been up for a few hours already.  We grabbed some of the same things we had before, like the eggs, bacon sausage, bran muffin, tater tots, etc, with a few new things.  The almond pancakes were good but I don’t suggest the biscuits and gravy at all- way, way too dry and bland on the biscuit front.

Lunch

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We were off the ship in Cozumel when it was time for lunch so we went to Palmeras Restaurant, which was along the main street that hugged the coast. It was on our walk from the Forum Shops towards the boat.

I don’t really like to spend money on food while in port as we have already paid for our meals on the ship, but when it’s lunch time, it’s lunch time! Thankfully, lunch was good and affordable. We shared some chips and salsa, fish tacos, and a chicken Caesar salad.

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Everything was really good.  The tacos were seasoned nicely and stuffed full as well.  It was served with some guacamole, which Autumn ate up.  I was craving a Caesar Salad and the salad we had satisfied that craving.  The lean chicken breast was juicy and the salad was dressed perfectly.

Dinner

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The ingredient theme for the dinner tonight was ‘shitake mushrooms’. They used the ingredient in a few dishes,including the entree that I ordered, in different cuisines.

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Both Price and I ordered seafood appetizers; he ordered the shrimp cocktail and I ordered the ceviche. This was the second time he ordered it and felt it was just as good this time. I really enjoyed the ceviche, I only wished the portion was larger.

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We ordered the chilled peach based soup for Autumn to try.  She did but was more satisfied with her basket of bread.  I enjoyed the soup that I stole from her.  It was smooth, silky, and enjoyably sweet.

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For the entree I ordered the Asian Dumplings and the featured ingredient was used in them and in the sauce that was served with them.  While the flavor was good, this was my least favorite dinner on the cruise.  It sorta reminded me of the dumplings I get from Trader Joe’s, but with a fancy sauce.  Plus, the portion was small, I could have eaten another whole plate of these.

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Price had the lamb chops with mashed potatoes and vegetables.  A side of mint jelly was offered for this dish.  The lamb was cooked a prefect medium rare and with the salty pan sauce and sweet jelly made for delicious bites around the plate.  The portion was huge and along with the mashed potatoes and vegetables made for a satisfying dinner.

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We don’t often have dessert at home so the desserts on the cruise were a real treat.  A lovely treat.  Price went for the chocolate and I went for the fruit.  Both were so good in their own ways.  While I was drawn to his Chocolate Lava Cake, I loved my pavlova. Thankfully both are easy to make so I can recreate them at home.

{Wednesday: Costa Maya, Mexico}

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Breakfast

Breakfast at the Windjammer in the same area; bow of the boat right at the windows. It feels like we are regulars and it’s enjoyable.

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Generally, the options served at the different meals tried to appeal to cultures and palettes of all kinds.  Amazingly, they served a really, really good fried rice with breakfast.  I really liked it as it soaked up the runny egg yolk from the over-easy eggs I ordered at the omelette station.

Lunch

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A cool beer while sitting on the beach will always been enjoyable.

We spent most of our day at the beach in Costa Maya. We took the trolley to the beach and got off at the first stop which stationed us right in front of Senor Frogs.  There were 3 servers there that served the beach goers in the area in front of the restaurant.  Carina and Chico both did a great job taking care of us with quick deliveries of beer, water, and food.

The beer was really cheap with 4 beers for $5, but the food was $$$ so we only grabbed a plate of chips and guacamole ($10).  It was satisfying but very overpriced, which is why we opted to go back to the boat in time for Autumn to take a proper afternoon nap while we took turns getting food from the Windjammer.

Dinner

Each dinner had a welcome change from night to night but always had regular bu also very good options.  We both ordered salads as our appetizers along with the usual bread basket.

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Price went back to the prime rib that he had for our first dinner.  Sometimes old habit are tough to break!  This time it was served with a fried mashed potato- like a kick butt tater tot!- and roasted tomato.  The whole plate was covered in the delicious au jus.

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I wasn’t feeling that great (the dreaded cruise stomach curse!) so I ordered the lighter fare being the roasted chicken on rice.  While I would love to write raves reviews for this, my own illness prevented me from fully enjoying it.  It was a beautiful presentation and smelled terrific.  I slowly picked at the chicken and rice which settled me for the time being.

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Oh man, she is the best!!!!

{Thursday: Belize City, Belize}

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Breakfast

Oh boy, oh boy, it was PACKED at breakfast today!! Plus, they opened up breakfast a half hour earlier (6.30am) than normal as the time in Belize City was limited from 7.30-2.15, so people were up early to maximize their time in Belize.

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The Windjammer dining room was too full so we took our food outside and took a table along the windows to enjoy the view.

Price made a triple meat breakfast sandwich with bacon, sausage, and ham. Men… ha!  It should be called the pig sandwich or pig plate, patent pending!

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There always was plentiful fruit, which worked out well as it gave us plenty of options for Autumn to eat at a meal, or to take later for a snack.  The fruit was very fresh and flavorful.

Lunch

Belize City was just too hot to hang around in for lunch so we headed back to the ship early so we made it back to have lunch at the Windjammer.

I still wasn’t feeling that great so I ate plain pasta with some grated cheese.

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Price enjoyed a fun mix of fried chicken, a ham and cheese slider, pork tenderloin, and corn salad.  They were all really good but what a mix.  Sometimes I have no idea what he is thinking…

Autumn had her first taste of jello and she loved it!

Dinner

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We took the opportunity to have another ‘date night’ while on the cruise by having Autumn go to the Nursery for a few hours. It was nice that the amazing waiters didn’t have to shove all the plates and glasses to one side of the table and out of Autumn’s reach as soon as she was seated in her high chair.  Ahhh a civilized dinner!!

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Royal Caribbean allows two 750ml bottles per stateroom so we took a red and white with us for the cruise (it’s x-ray’d when you get on the ship when you board on your ).  They used to have a corking fee but at some point the recently removed that fee.  Hooray for us! Another glass? Yes, please!

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We enjoyed the caprese salad and aranchini appetizers.  Great mix to go with the Italian theme for the evening.

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I enjoyed the chicken entree since it was pretty ‘mellow’.  I was just starting to feel better again, I tried to keep things simple without tons of spice so this was a good fit.  The mashed potatoes were soft and creamy, the asparagus was crisp and yet tender.  The chicken and its sauce were comforting.

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Price had the pork tenderloin with baked mashed potatoes and vegetables. Reading the description above, how can you pass it up!  He wished there was more tenderloin but after his pig plate and pork tenderloin from the previous meals what more could he want?!? Oh well, we were on vacation 🙂

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Of course I couldn’t resist dessert no matter how I was feeling.  Plus look how fancy and pretty this is. Little petit fours with a chocolate stick as an edible garnish, a little taste of heaven if there ever were three heavens on one plate. That chocolate cake on the right was the BEST dessert I had all cruise.

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Price got the tiramisu.  We both thought it was flat.  The lady fingers were dry and there was not much booze.  Considering all the wonderful meals and other desserts we had perhaps our standards were sky high but this was by far the most disappointing of one of the courses for dinner.

{Friday: Day at Sea Cruising}

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Breakfast

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As what had become the morning routine on the cruise, Autumn was up early so Price took her up to the 9th deck to allow our neighboring rooms a bit more sleep.  While I got dressed to meet them up there, Autumn ate a yogurt.

Price has quickly solidified his love of grapefruit and I was feeling better so I got an omelette.

The best part is the overall attentiveness of the Windjammer staff related to refilling juices, getting a highchair, clearing tables, or saying ‘hi’ to Autumn. Especially Kenny (from India), he is always so sweet to Autumn.

Lunch

To avoid the big crowds at lunch in the Windjammer, we opted to go to the Aquarius dining room.

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She loved the olive studded rolls that were delivered to our table. So adorable!

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We relaxed on our overindulgence of ever meal and got salads for lunch from the salad bar.  You walk around the bar and point to everything you would like for the guys working there to chop together.  This salad was loaded with chickpeas, walnuts, onions, special greens, and a nice vinaigrette.

I also ordered chicken sliders that I had on Wednesday afternoon from the Windjammer. They were much better at the Windjammer as they were served with a garlicky aioli, but the sliders in the Aquarius dining room were very bland without it.  Autumn was not really interested in any of those options and stuck with a banana and bread roll.

Dinner

Wah! Our last dinner!! So sad to leave the cruise, our amazing waiters, and all the great food behind.

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How ever will we go back to normal life with out multiple dinner courses!?!?

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Just looking at the picture above definitely screams MAN!  The bone-in beef shank looked like it was cooked over an open pit and huge flames surrounding it.  Price’s eyes lit up when this was put in front of him.  Good thing we had those lunch salads!  The always good mashed potatoes and vegetables completed the plate but the star was the shank. Price noted it might be the best entree of all the dinners which is saying a lot since he had so many great entrees.

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I enjoyed the featured pasta entree.  It was a generous plate of pasta in a cream sauce that was topped off with a crispy, crunchy slice of pancetta.  The pancetta made the dish as it provided a nice salty flavor and fun textural contrast from the pasta.  I think that the sauce could have been a bit thicker, but the flavor was really good.

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Price and I had some great Key Lime Pie while we were on our Babymoon in the Florida Keys so I feel pretty confident saying that this was really good Key Lime Pie.  What a nice way to end our wonderful cruise.

{Saturday: Disembark}

Breakfast

We were up early as usual.  But extra, extra early.  Autumn’s sleep was rocky the whole cruise but the last night was even worse as the time changed back to Eastern Standard Time.  It was a mess!!  But we got to be some of the first people in line to get into The Windjammer when it opened.

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The day is super hectic for the staff as they have to unload and then reload the ship just a few short hours later so they try to streamline things so they don’t offer as many things for breakfast on the last day.  I was happily surprised that they still offered the omelette station though.

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We thoroughly enjoyed our cruise and the food we ate on the cruise.  The food and the service we experienced were both very enjoyable.

Amazingly, I managed to lose weight on the cruise.  No joke.  It was magic.  Most people gain a few pounds but I lost about 3 pounds.  And I got to eat dessert.  That right there was a great birthday present. ha!

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Our 2015 Vision of the Seas Cruise: Day 7 & Disembarking Recap

We took a 7-day Royal Caribbean cruise on the Vision of the Seas to visit the Western Caribbean for my 30th birthday/pre-wedding honeymoon. We visited Cozumel and Costa Maya in Mexico, Georgetown in Grand Cayman, and Belize City in Belize, sandwiched between 2 days at sea cruising.

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{Friday- Day at Sea}

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While it would have been so nice to have been able to sleep in, it was always so enjoyable to watch the sun rise over the Gulf of Mexico.

We headed right over to the Windjammer Cafe when it opened at 7am. We did our usual divide and conquer with us grabbing plates of food on our way to the table to have things at the ready for Autumn to eat. And then we’d take turns getting whatever else we need for ourselves, like omelets.

As a birthday gift to me, Price sent me off to the Spa for a massage while Autumn napped. I had seen a flyer earlier in the week for a special package called “Top to Toe Heaven”. It was a 75-minute package that included a Full Body Ginger and Lime Exfoliation, Full Body Swedish Massage, Foot and Ankle Massage, and a Scalp Massage. Some of the prices for things in the spa can be really expensive (manicures!) but this was a real deal for $149, down from $291.

The spa is located at the aft (back) of the boat, just off the Serenity Pool. The waiting room overlooks the back of the boat so you have a clear view out to watch the wake of the ship while sipping on some chilled lemon water. My room also had a great view but I didn’t enjoy it very much with my head down in the passage table. At least I really enjoyed my massage. Pure bliss!!

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After my massage we went to lunch in the Aquarius Dining Room. Autumn loved the olive studded rolls they served but I decided that I much more preferred to eat lunch at the Windjammer Cafe. I liked the lovely service that was provided by the waiters and waitresses but I much more preferred the selection at the Windjammer Cafe. While they had a great salad bar, I found that the meals they served were similar to the Cafe, but just slightly off. For example, the sliders I had enjoyed on Thursday were served in Aquarius dining room on Friday, but without the aioli, which really made the sliders.

We headed to the Nursery after lunch so that Autumn could enjoy the Open Play time that afternoon. We then left her there for some time so that both Price and I could enjoy some time by the pool. It really worked well for all of us as Autumn got to nap and play at the nursery and we got to enjoy some fun in the sun!

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We spent some time packing up all our stuff just before dinner. This allowed us to sort the the clothes we wouldn’t need for that night and next morning into the big suitcase. We left it outside of our room later that night so that it would be round up by the ship staff to be unloaded into the Port of Tampa building the following morning. Packing up the night before you leave can make the morning of departure much more efficient and smoother.

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We had a lovely last dinner together in the Aquarius dining room.  It was bittersweet as we had to say ‘good-bye’ to our amazing servers. They really made the dinner experience with Autumn so amazing.

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Dinner was great, but so was the sunset.

I took a walk after dinner while Price stayed with a sleeping Autumn in the room. I caught the end of the cruise celebration put on by the cruise crew in the Centrum (7.45pm). Representatives from every country that the staff participate in The International Parade of Flags. Every country is announced and they wave flags while there there is fun music playing. It was so cute. I loved every second of it.

{Disembarking}

Autumn must have been super excited about getting on dry land again as she was up bright and early to start her day. How early? 3.30 in the morning!! No Joke. Her abnormally early waking hours while on the cruise was compounded that morning with the time change back to East Coast time. Ugh!

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Thankfully the 24 Hour Windjammer Cafe Coffee Bar was well stocked!!

We hit the cafe as soon as it opened to avoid the crush of people having breakfast before the trip was over. I was going to miss all those options!

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Oh, nice nap eh?

Thankfully, everyone was busy with breakfast or doing last minute packing in their rooms so I could walk loop after loop around the 5th and 6th decks while Autumn snoozed.

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We had to wait in our designated area outside the theater on Deck 5 until we were cleared to disembark the ship.

Thankfully the process was painless as we followed the crowds, grabbed out big suitcase, and joined the (well organized) line to get through customs. They estimated the processing taking 45+ minutes but it took us less than half the time. So easy.

And then all we had to do was wait for my dad to come to pick us up.

We were all worn out from the cruise but it was so worth the vacation and experience. It was a good feeling. Tired but relaxed. We felt accomplished that we visited every port. And very full from all the great food. It was so special that we brought Autumn on her first cruise and I got to celebrate my 30th birthday while on vacation. The Royal Caribbean experience was a blast. We can’t wait for our next cruise!

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Check out my other cruise recaps!

Our 2014 Vision of the Seas Cruise: Days 1 & 2 Recap

Our 2014 Vision of the Seas Cruise: Days 3 & 4 Recap

Our 2014 Vision of the Seas Cruise: Days 5, 6 Recap

Our 2015 Vision of the Seas Cruise: Days 5 & 6 Recap

We took a 7-day Royal Caribbean cruise on the Vision of the Seas to visit the Western Caribbean for my 30th birthday/pre-wedding honeymoon. We visited Cozumel and Costa Maya in Mexico, Georgetown in Grand Cayman, and Belize City in Belize, sandwiched between 2 days at sea cruising.

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{Wednesday – Costa Maya, Mexico}

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While we were eating breakfast we noticed this rainbow that was shining brightly over the coast of Costa Maya. I was so glad to capture it We learned our lesson of sticking to the rule of ‘bring the camera with you everywhere!’ as Price missed getting pictures of dolphins swimming and jumping along side the ship on our day at seat and I missed a double rainbow over Grand Cayman when I ran up for lunch that afternoon. Still so bummed about the dolphins!

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Costa Maya was the first, and only, cruise port that was docked. This truly made the process of getting on and off the cruise ship so much easier than the previous tendered days. Instead of having to wait your turn to get on a small boat to shuttle you to and from the port, you just walk right off. Simple as that!

There was a free trolley from the ship to the port entrance, which we didn’t use, as we didn’t think the pier was too long, but others with limited mobility might have found the trolley useful.

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The most amazing thing about the Caribbean to me is the crystal clear water. We got to see a school of Moorish Idols (I think!) bobbing around the long pier on our walk into the port.

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When we arrived in port we are greeted by a grand entrance and men adorned in ancient native dress. You could take pictures with them but we just breeze by as we were on a mission to get to the beach as soon as possible. Top priorities!

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There are shops, a craft market, restaurants, a hotel, and a pool in the port area. We were blown away by the fact that pool was free and so well maintained. We briefly considered stayed there to hang out at the pool and the beach, but there is a rock wall preventing access into the water.

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We took a $2 per person trolley ride to get to the beach. While you can actually see the ship from the beach the trip is far too long to walk, so the trolley ride was worth it.

The trolley makes several stops along the beach before going into downtown. We decided to just get off the first stop, which brought us right to the beach that ran in front of a Senior Frogs Restaurant and Bar.

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Just like the beach in port, the beach and the equipment were free. There was a cabana set up on the beach where there were some women giving out massages. I was tempted to inquire about prices but I really just wanted to relax with Price and Autumn.

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I swear there is nothing better than enjoying a cold beer while on the beach.

While we were on the beach we ordered a plate of chips, salsa, and guacamole. The drinks were dirt cheap. Super, super cheap! Our bucket of 4 beers was just $5. But the food was pretty expensive, which is why we only got the plate of chips for $10.

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The only thing to note about the beach where we were is that there is a big section where there was plant growth. There were some people snorkeling along the edges to check of aquatic life but most of the small fish I saw was right along the water’s edge. We had water shoes, which I highly suggest if you get the least bit squeamish when stepping on unkonwn squishy stuff (like me!!!). In general I found them to be a great investment just to avoid some of the sharper rocks on the beaches, which was very prominent in Grand Cayman as well.

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Autumn did amazingly well at the beach as she played in the sand with her toys, enjoyed dips in the water, and playing on the beach chair.

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It was such a wonderful day at the beach. Our beach babe was so tired afterwards! Thankfully, the reentry on to the boat was just as easy as getting off. Just through security and we were on our way back to the room. Much easier than being tendered!

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We enjoyed a leisurely afternoon and the time to rinse off all the sand and salt water. Endless

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It was formal night so we were a bit under dressed, at least compared to the couples wearing tuxes and ballgowns, but at the same time we were on par with others on the ship too. At least everyone loved Autumn’s frilly aqua dress.

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I started to not feel that great later on in the afternoon so I kept dinner pretty plain with some chicken and rice. It was done beautifully, but I just wasn’t feeling so great. Maybe a combination of the foods I had been eating, the sun, or the fact that there was a small out break in Norovirus on the ship on the cruise prior to ours. I never got sick but just felt off, which is why we also, sadly skipped dessert.

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We were all quite satisfied with our meal, and our day, and I think that Autumn’s happy, smiley face shows it.

{Thursday – Belize City, Belize}

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Autumn is normally an early riser so it was no surprise that she was up early on the cruise but at the same time she never slept well at night so we had been hoping for some ‘later’ mornings to make up for it. Sadly, that was not the case, but we did get to enjoy some amazing sunrises while on the cruise.

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To change things up a bit we took our breakfast (6.15-10.30am) out of the Windjammer  Cafe to enjoy the fresh morning air as we approached the port in Belize City. Plus, this way we could see all of Autumn’s best friends on the deck. She took a liking to an older gentleman named Michael. So sweet.

After breakfast we went back to the room to stick to our morning routine of Autumn napping while I pumped. And then we’d gear up for the time in port.

While going to the beach would be have been great, I still wasn’t feeling too well so we decided that we would keep our time in Belize quick. Plus, Price had to do his time sheet for vacation week, so we’d have to bring the laptop with us. We figured the laptop and beach sand wouldn’t be a good mix.

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We had wandered around the Belize City port a bit trying to find a good spot to stop and use Wifi before we settled on a friendly open air bar that had a $10 minimum for Wifi (pretty average rate in port) and a 2 of $10 drink special. Perfect. Plus, the friendly waitress also gave Autumn a cup of mango juice, which she really enjoyed on the hotter than normal day.

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“You have a baby… in a bar.”

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We didn’t spend too much time in the port area as there honestly wasn’t too much to do. It seemed that the excursions required a taxi or bus ride to get there, which would have been fine to experience but decided it was too much to juggle with Autumn, our stuff, and a laptop. Next time Belize, next time…

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I’d suggest keeping an eye on the schedule for the ferries that bring you back to the boat as we got on one immediately, and then had to wait and wait and wait for it to leave, which is hard with a frigidity 1 year old.

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I kept my lunch simple with some plain pasta as I was feeling off but Price and Autumn enjoyed their lunches in the Windjammer Cafe. Autumn tried jello for the first time and loved it so much that she had a bowl and a half.

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After lunch we spent some time during the afternoon enjoying the Open Play  Session (1.15pm-5.15pm) in the nursery. They has set up musically themed toys that day. And then it was time for Autumn’s nap. As usual, Price and I took turns resting or roaming around the ship during the afternoon naps.

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Stripes and baby shorts. Perfection.

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We took advantage of the daycare provided by the nursery staff for another ‘date night’ dinner together. We dropped Autumn off right at 5.30 with some snacks & yogurt (for her to have as dinner), her bottle, and diaper bag before we headed over to the Aquarius dining room.

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During the afternoon, we had scoped out the menu on the information screens located outside of the dining room so that we could learn what the theme was for the dinner that night. We figured that with the Italian themed dinner we would best enjoy the bottle of red wine that we brought on board.

Man oh man, it was so enjoyable to enjoy a dinner together without having to get up to allow Autumn to stretch her legs and burn off that frigidity energy. Plus, she enjoyed her time at the nursery watching some Mickey Mouse, reading stories, and cuddling up with the sweetest nursery staff.

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A couple that stripes together, stays together. ha!

After dinner we strolled around for a bit while Price finished off the bottle of wine. Wine and the fresh Caribbean breeze… to die for! We picked up Autumn from daycare and got settled back in the room.

Another very fun day on our cruise!!!

Our 2015 Vision of the Seas Cruise: Days 3 & 4 Recap

We took a 7-day Royal Caribbean cruise on the Vision of the Seas to visit the Western Caribbean for my 30th birthday/pre-wedding honeymoon. We visited Cozumel and Costa Maya in Mexico, Georgetown in Grand Cayman, and Belize City in Belize, sandwiched between 2 days at sea cruising.

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{Monday @ Georgetown, Grand Cayman}

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Our first stop on the cruise was Georgetown in Grand Cayman.

I had been there previously about 15 years ago but was really looking forward to the 3 of us going to explore together. Our main for the day was to enjoy the beach. We felt that we couldn’t pass up having a beach day when Seven-Mile Beach was a short cab ride from the tender dock.

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We headed to the Aquarius dining room shortly after it opened for breakfast at 7.00am. We wanted to give the service and food a try to change things up from going to the Windjammer, where you serve yourself. It was nice to get the service and different selections, includng the best sugary donuts, but it was tough to wait for the food to come with Autumn getting frigidity.

After breakfast we headed back to the room to give Autumn time to nap, for me to pump, and to get ready for the day on shore and at the beach. We packed up the canvas beach tote (my dad lent us) with our water shoes, sun blocks, water bottles, snacks for Autumn, and her bottles.

Price grabbed us tender tickets while Autumn was finishing up her nap so that we would be in the queue and ready to go when it was our turn. It worked out well as we were ready to go when the tender before ours was called. The only ‘issue’ we ran into was that I completely forgot that the towels were handed out right before you got on the tender, and not on the 9th deck, where they are kept. So I sprinted up 5 flights of stairs and ran to the towel hut for no reason. ha!

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When we arrived in port we walked around a bit trying to get some wifi as the Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville advertised wifi, but they were not open yet. So we headed back to the cab area to get a cab to bring us to the free public beach at Seven-Mile Beach. We grabbed a cab for $4 a person for the 10 minute cab ride.

The public beach was clean and adjacent to an open area that had a playground for little kids. There were vendors there that rented out jetski’s, snorkel equipment, beach chairs, and umbrellas. We rented a pair of chairs and an umbrella for $20.

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Naps on the beach are the best.

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We stayed at the beach for several hours taking turns layout out, taking dips in water, and playing with Autumn. It was so relaxing and fun. It had started to drizzle when we first got there but it quickly stopped. It was rather cloudy, but it just meant that the sun wasn’t too intense, thankfully.

There was an adjacent pavilion like restaurant that I considered getting food from, especially since the vendors that rented out the beach chairs and umbrellas were running orders back and forth. But we decided just to grab a snack at one of food trucks. They had a lot to ofer from fresh mad conch salad to fried fish, but I just grabbed us some fries to share for $4.

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We shared a van back to the port with a few others as there were a few vans stationed at the lot near the beach. It was more affordable at $2 a person, plus the driver didn’t charge for Autumn as she was on a lap.

We grabbed some Tortuga Rum Cakes on the way back to the tender dock. They are a classic delicious souvenir to bring back home. Or just eat in the cabin!

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As we only had shared a basket of fries while at the beach, we were still really hungry for lunch when we got back. We were cutting it close to make it to the Windjammer before it closed for lunch service (12.00- 3.30pm) so I ran up first to grab food, and then Price took his turn while Autumn napped through our running around.

The rest of the afternoon was about showers and enjoying the nice weather up on deck in between lounging around in the room. Not a bad way to spend the afternoon.

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The Caribbean sunsets are hard to beat!

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We were greeted with friendly hello’s when we arrived for our dinner at 5.30. The hostess and our servers remarked how they missed us as we had dinner at Izumi the night before to celebrate my birthday. Everyone’s enthusiasm is just fantastic, as well as the service and the food.

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Mom, you didn’t want your dessert, right?!?!?

We were so tired from the day in the sun that we made it an early night. We went back to the room to get Autumn down for the night as close as possible to her normal bed time, but it was still a tough time (and night as a whole). Price headed up to talk a walk and I crash hard… before 8! Oh man, I’d almost feel bad about it but it’s vacation and my real chance to catch up on sleep. ha!

{Tuesday @ Cozumel, Mexico}

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I might have felt bad for going to bed really, really early the night before, but Autumn slept poorly and was up early. So going to bed before 8 (oh, boy!) was totally worth it!

We were up early walking around on the 9th and 10th decks killing time before the Windjammer Cafe opened. We even enjoyed the sunrise (6.25am) out on deck.

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The one thing that really bugged me was that the crew would wash down the deck in the morning. I understand why the do it and when they do it but it was really tricky to get around without the fear of slipping as the deck was soaked as it was power washed. I really just felt bad for the runners and power walkers as they were constantly adjusting their routes to avoid the wet spots and the guys doing the power washing.

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This face just kills me. Oh, she has my heart.

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And the sunrises too! Just incredible.

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We headed into the Windjammer (7.00-11.00am) when it was open to have some breakfast. The best thing about having a buffet right at your finger tips is that it gives us plenty of options for Autumn to try a bunch of different things. The tater tots were always a big hit. but it was nice to get her to try different kinds of pancakes, eggs, fruit, sausage, and biscuits.

While it would have been nice to have had breakfast and gotten off the boat with the first tenders, it worked well to let Autumn nap. Interrupting her napping schedule can make things tricky for us so it was important to give her that opportunity to get a solid nap in. Plus, it gave me a chance to pump and Price to pack us up for the day off the boat.

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Having to use a tender, instead of docking at a pier, requires a lot more coordination and planning as there are a limited number of people that can get on a boat at one time. This means there can be some waiting for your turn, which is why you should get a tender ticket to hold a spot for you. As well, loading the ferry-boat, getting ashore, and unloading can take quite a bit of time, so that is important to plan for. That does effect your time ashore. For example, if everyone is to be loaded on the ship by 5, then the last tender is 4pm to provide enough time for the boat to be fully loaded, get to the boat, and unloaded. You always have to keep that in mind!!

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During the shopping information session on Sunday the head of onshore shopping explained to everyone that there is not too much shopping to do where the port is. The best shopping is a cab ride away. I asked him about this later as a mile and a half walk for us is no big deal and I was hoping to get some real exercise in, but he really pushed that we should just take a cab as the road is busy and rough. He wasn’t exactly saying it was unsafe but he wasn’t a fan of the idea of us walking.

As well, when asking for a cab it is important to ask to go to the “Forum Shops“, a high-end shopping center, as it is a specific destination, instead of asking to go ‘downtown.’ This prevents the cab driver for taking you to some random place. Also, asking to go to the Forum Shops basically brings you to the end of the main shopping district, which allows you to shop along the way as you head back towards the port. There are several taxi stands along the strip, which will allow you to get a cab in various spots along the way. Our cab ride to the Forum shops was $7 a person (not including Autumn).

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We had lunch as Palmeras Restaurant while in Cozumel.

I’m honestly not a fan of buying lunch while in port as we have paid for all our meals on the ship, but when it’s lunch time, it’s lunch time! Thankfully, we had a great lunch at Palmeras. We shared some chips and salsa, fish tacos, and a chicken caesar salad. Autumn helped herself to all our guacamole.

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We had talked about going to the beach while in Cozumel but had decided that it would be our shopping day instead. We had hoped to find wedding bands while on the cruise as shopping in the Caribbean is duty and tax-free. As well, different ports are known for different things, like gold, diamonds, tanzanite, etc.

Unfortunately, we did not find rings that we liked as the majority of the rings had diamonds on them, even the men’s. Plus, we wanted brushed white gold bands and not many shops carried brushed things. As well, we had continued to search for an anchor necklace for me, but didn’t find one that was the right size of the right price.

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Tired babe? ha!

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After our adventurous cab ride back to the port, we boarded our tender to take a ride back to the ship. Once through security (very similar to security at the airport), we our way back to the room to give Autumn a chance to take her afternoon nap. Which really meant that Autumn and I napped and Price snuck away for a pina colada. Perfection for both of us.

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We just about missed the “Renaissance Aerial Spectacular” show in the Centrum, but we caught the end of it. The artistry of the dancers and aerialists is amazing. They perform several times throughout the cruise, even 2x a night (5.15-5.30pm & 9.45-10.00pm), so there are quite a few chances to see them perform.

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Good bye Cozumel!

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As usual, dinner was amazing.

That food theme for the night was shitaki mushrooms, which were featured in the dumplings that I ordered. I could have easily eaten 2 plates of these, especially since I shared with a little hungry babe! I had the strawberry topped pavlova for dessert. It was the first time I had a pavlova, but now I am in love with them.

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Another day down! It’s so fun to go from place to place but it just means that vacation is speeding along.

Our 2015 Vision of the Seas Cruise: Days 1 & 2 Recap

We took a 7- day Royal Caribbean cruise on the Vision of the Seas to visit the Western Caribbean for my 30th birthday/pre-wedding honeymoon. We visited Cozumel and Costa Maya in Mexico, Georgetown in Grand Cayman, and Belize City in Belize, sandwiched between 2 days at sea cruising.

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{Saturday- Embarkation}

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Our cruise departed on Saturday from the port of Tampa. As my dad lives about 30ish minutes South of Tampa we stayed with him prior to leaving for our cruise. We left Boston on Thursday night so that we could spend Friday  with him checking out Tampa, doing some relaxing, and having dinner with family. Plus, it gave us plenty of added time to ensure that we wouldn’t have any issues making the cruise in case of bad weather and our flight down was greatly delayed/canceled.

He dropped us off at the port and we said our good byes for the week.

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We only dropped off our BIG bag at the curb and took the rest (carry on sized suitcase, a stroller we borrowed from one of my dad’s friends, Price’s diaper bag, my diaper bag, and a big canvas tote that held my pumping bag, packages of wipes and diapers, and wine) with us through security. It all was pretty painless with quick moving lines and accommodating Port of Tampa staff who bumped us to the front of the line as we were traveling with an infant (win!).

Once through security and on the boat we headed up to the 9th deck to have lunch and kill some time until our rooms were ready at 1pm.

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Autumn had her first try of ice cream. I wish I was recording and not taking pictures because her reaction was priceless. She definitely didn’t like how cold it was. ha!

As soon as we were done with lunch we headed to our room on the 4th deck. Our room 4010 was located near the bow (front) of the boat and on the port (left) side. Our big bag was in a staging area on its way to get delieverd to our room so we grabbed it on our way. We then spent the next hour or so getting all unpacked and getting our stuff organized in the room.

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The pack and play had not yet arrived so Autumn took a nap on the bed. The pack and play actually gets delivered with the luggage that gets delivered to your room so they have until 8pm to do so. I didn’t know that but it makes sense considering everything that the house keeping staff has to do that day as one ship of passengers disembarks and shortly afterwards another ship of passengers embarks.

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Price hung out in the room but I took a walk around the boat while Autumn napped before out Muster station (station 2) drill. I took that time to make a 5.30pm at the Aquarius dining room (4th and 5th decks). As we had the flexible My Time dining serve we have to make dinner reservations for when we want dinner. I picked 5.30 as it was when they opened and at Autumn’s normal dinner time

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Thankfully autumn woke on her own before the Muster drill sounded so it didn’t scare her and we were ready to bring her up. The drill was run quickly and efficiently. Before long we were back to the room to get ready for dinner, stop by the nursery to sign up to use it, and watch as the boat left Tampa.

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While at dinner, our mini fridge, for storing my pumped breastmilk, arrived and within about 10 minutes of getting back to the room our room steward Julio Benjamin, who went by Benjamin, brought in a set up the pack and play. As this was about an hour after Autumn’s normal bed time, she was exhausted so she easily went to bed.

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Price wandered around a bit while I briefly read before taking a nap, which basically turned into going to bed around 8pm. HA! VACATION!!

{Sunday- Day at Sea Cruising}

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Happy 30th Birthday to me!!!

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As Autumn didn’t have her normal bed time bottle since she was so tired, she woke around 1.30am for it. Once full, she again went to sleep quickly and slept until about 6am. We gave her another bottle and she played around and kinda watch Tom and Jerry cartoons while I pumped.  Ready to start the day we got ready quickly and headed up to have breakfast in the Windjammer restaurant (9th deck).

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After breakfast we headed up to the 10th deck to walk around before heading back in to wander around the 5th and 6th decks. Basically we were just checking out the main atrium, casino, and shopping areas while we killed some time before getting back to the room for Autumn’s nap.

Autumn and Price napped while I read and worked on random blog stuff- sans internet.

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After the morning nap session, Autumn and I got ready quickly and headed out giving Price some time to get ready. There was a sushi making demonstration from the restaurant Izumi in the main atrium so we watched that a bit. After the demonstration there were samples to try. Yum!

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We met Price and then grabbed some cocktails to solidify the birthday celebrating. I had the cocktail of the day and Price had a Miami Vice- a strawberry daiquiri & pina colada combo.

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And of course I had to wear Lilly pants on my birthday. They just make me so happy. Overall it was my goal to wear as much prep as possible during the trip and I think I nailed it with all my Vineyard Vines, Sperry’s, and Lilly.

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We grabbed lunch at the Park Cafe, located on the 9th deck next to the Solarium (adult pool), which honestly was really bad. Thankfully it was the only bad meal of the whole cruise, but it was really blah and just bad overall. We ditched it and Price ran into the Windjammer Cafe and got other food for us. Much better.

As we finished up our lunch we got to enjoy the start of the belly flop contest.

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The cruise director introduced crew that would help out judging in the contest. It was fun getting to see all the different people that help in the operations to run a fun cruise ship.

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The group of guys that participated in the belly flop contest were hilarious dancing and strutting their stuff before taking that big, loud jump into the pool.

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There are “Open Play Sessions” every day in nursery for the kids (6 months- 3 years) and parents to come in to play together. We wanted to check it out so we stopped by so Autumn could really stretch her legs to crawl around on a clean surface and play with a bunch of toys. And there were tons of toys! She loved it, so we all loved it.

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Oh my goodness!! The cutest thing ever! Our room steward Benjamin really went above and beyond by always making Autumn’s crib up. Often Owl got tucked in. Adorable.

We came back to the room so Autumn could take her afternoon nap. Once she got settled I left so that I could check out a shopping information session put on by the shopping guides. While I knew that we wouldn’t be doing much shopping I wanted to have a better understanding of the islands we were going to. I didn’t stay for the whole thing since I actually started to get tired and was afraid I’d fall asleep in the auditorium (ha!), so I left mid way through. But it was successful as I got maps to all the places, which were really beneficial to have on hand for every stop.

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We got ourselves ready for dinner and Autumn ready for her time at the nursery before we heading up to the 9th and 10th decks to enjoy the beautiful night. Plus, it was so much fun getting to watch the Seahawks play the  NFC Championship game on such a big screen.

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To celebrate my birthday Price and I went to dinner at Izumi, one of the specialty restaurants on the ship. We hadn’t had sushi in awhile so I was thinking that would be a fun dinner, and then I solidified my decision after trying the sushi after the demonstration I had seen that morning.

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The food and service at Izumi was so fantastic.

We enjoyed drinks, appetizers, entrees, and dessert. The staff came out and sang happy birthday to me too. Normally that would give me the chills and make me want to hide under the table but I enjoyed it as 30 is 30 and, hell, I was on a cruise. Live it up!

After dinner we went up to the nursery to get Autumn, who did really well there. The nursery staff was awesome with her giving her dinner, a bottle, and putting her down. She snuggled in my arms on the way down to our room and went back to sleep really quickly.

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And a towel animal to end the night.

It was such a wonderful birthday. I loved every bit of it.

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Stay tuned for my upcoming cruise recaps for the rest of the trip!