I should admit, for my February something new I didn’t have to search too hard to find something because I actually had something for this month planned for a while. I had a vacation planned for over a year and part of the vacation included going on my 1st ever CRUISE! I just assumed for this month I would be writing about the cruise and new things I experienced and tried while on the cruise however that was not the case. While not on the cruise, I spent the remaining vacation days in Orlando Florida where I also tried a few new things.
For my 1st cruise, I spent 5 days and 4 nights on the Royal Caribbean ship The Brilliance of the Sea. The ship docked out of Tampa, FL cruised the ocean to Cozumel, Mexico for a day and then cruised back to Tampa. I was lucky enough that for my 1st cruise I went with a group of 15 other people who were all friends or family. Passengers had about 6 hours to board the cruise before we left port, so people in my group all arrived at different times. My friend Monica and I were among the first few in our group who boarded. The 1st thing on our agenda was to get a drink for me it was a strawberry daiquiri, a drink I had actually never tried before! The bartender Paul – who was from Jamaica – was great! He became one of three bartenders I went to to get a drink. When I ordered my Strawberry Daquiri Paul told me, “No, it’s a Strongberry” which I wasn’t too sure what that meant but I learned quickly it was just a STRONG strawberry Daiquiri. Well, I definitely liked my drink and ended up having at least one each day of the cruise – sorry not sorry! If you ever go on a cruise I highly recommend getting a drink package as it is unlimited drinks! Besides the strawberry daiquiri, the other drink I tried was a Sex on the Beach; on the cruise, the bartenders jokingly called it Sex on a Boat. This was another drink I was happy to try and had more than one of.
As the cruise was one of my 1st I want to share with you some of the highlights while on board as it was all new to me. Thought the day there was always something going on including trivia, movies, dance parties on deck, nightly shows including musical numbers and comedies, and even different contests – the 2 contests I watched were the belly flop and sexiest man alive contests. There was not a single event that I went to that I didn’t enjoy; sadly, there were many events that I didn’t have a chance to attend. If you weren’t interested in attending an organized event there was still plenty to do on board including; working out at the gym, gambling in the casino, using the pools and hot tubs, tanning, playing mini golf or going rock climbing, just to name a few activities. Another big activity on board was eating; all the food onboard was good and there was no shortage of it! There were cafes, a main buffet dining area, room service, and a formal dining area which are all included in the cruise. I typically ate breakfast and lunch at the buffet because they just had so many options. For dinner, there were 8 of us who decided to opt for the formal dining room. This experience was great! You had assigned seating and had the same two waiters each night. You were presented with a formal menu with multiple options for a 3-course meal. The great thing was if more than one appetizer or entrée or dessert looked appealing to you, you could order them both! In all reality, you could order one of everything if you truly wanted, don’t worry I never did. Each meal I had for dinner was amazing and I always left extremely full. There were a few new desserts I tried but the one item I was most excited to try and was most pleased with was escargot. I ordered this on night two for my appetizer and it was delicious as it was served in a butter sauce.
After a filling meal, it was nice to be able to come back to your room and have your bed not only made but turned down. Each night our housekeeper not only did this, but he also made us towel animals, which were so cute! On day 3 of the cruise, we arrived in Cozumel, Mexico where my mom and I went on an excursion. There were countless excursions to choose from and we decided on a tour of the island which included going to see some of the Mayan ruins and then spending time at an exclusive beach. Not only was just being in Cozumel a 1st for me, but I had never seen any Mayan ruins before. I admit I was expecting big pyramid type ruin, that wasn’t exactly what was in Cozumel but it was still cool to see and it was interesting to learn about the Mayan history in Cozumel. The private beach was great and the views there were amazing! After the excursion, I took a taxi alone which was another 1st for me. I meet Monica in downtown Cozumel where we spent a few hours eating lunch and doing some shopping. Shopping in Mexico is definitely different than in the States. For starters, there really weren’t prices listed on items instead you negotiate a price with the store – something I didn’t love. What I did love about shopping in Mexico was the FREE alcohol I received! We had jewelry stores giving us free shots of tequila and beer just to come in. I tried almond tequila, which was pretty delicious.
After leaving we were back to drinking and having fun on the cruise as we headed back to Tampa. Looking back at the cruise, I realized one of my favorite things was the crewmembers and that they were from all over the world. Under their names on nametags, they had their home country listed. They had people working on the ship from everywhere; I personally met people from Jamacia, Brazil, England, Greece, Romania, and Trinidad. There was not 1 crew member that I met that did not seem happy to be there and didn’t have a smile on their face. For my 1st cruise, I would say it was a SUCCESS! I would recommend a cruise to anyone and I am already looking to plan my second one!
Though I tried quite a few new things on the cruise part of my vacation there were three new things I tried while in Orlando. The 1st thing I tried was going to Blue Spring State Park which is one of Florida’s State parks. While there, I got to see manatee for the first time! Honestly to me, they looked just like big gray rocks when they were in the water. The group of us who went to the state park went on a boat tour that allowed us to see a bunch of different birds, turtles, and alligators! It was a windy day so not too many animals were out but we did see a decent amount and it was a different experience. The second thing I tried was The Great Escape Room! There were 6 of us who decided to do this and we were then paired with 2 strangers. I have done 2 escape rooms before but never with this company or in Florida. The nice thing about escape rooms is there are so many different types of escape rooms that each time you truly are having a new experience. For this escape room, we did Professor Moriarty’s Gameroom which has a 22% escape rate. This was probably my favorite escape rooms and guess what, We ESCAPED! I won’t tell you too much in case you decide to do this escape room one day; as a group, you search for clues and then solve puzzles in order to unlock things and escape. Something that was exciting was finding a Minnesota Twins teddy bear while in there! Being from Minnesota and doing an escape room in Florida everyone in my group thought that was pretty cool! The final thing I tried while on vacation was a restaurant, Del Taco. If you have never been here before I would say it’s similar to a Taco Bell in the sense of its Mexican-American food and it’s a fast-food restaurant, but not a big chain restaurant. I tried two different menu items – the bacon ranch chicken avocado burrito and a jumbo shrimp taco. The burrito was good but the taco was DELICIOUS! So much so that the people I went there with decided to go back the next day for more ha. Next time I am in Orlando I will for sure make a stop at Del Taco.
So, that’s everything I tried on my vacation in February. I truly enjoyed all the new things I tried and am excited to figure out what new things I will try in March!