To Hell and Back

   I have to document my trip somehow and since scrapbooking and journal writing just don't happen in my life I opt for the blog. I tried to have a mass amount of pictures hoping it would help summarize but I'm sure I still have plenty to read. 
   We left for Miami on May 31 and our ship left on June 1st. Our cruise went a little like this: left port, sea day, Jamaica, Grand Cayman, sea day, port. It was so much fun and I already want to do it again. 

   The first evening we went down to dinner and our table had 9 spots. There were 6 of us. I made my dad sit next to the empty chairs cause I had no clue who would show up. We ordered and about 2 minutes after we did 3 guys come strolling up to the table. Ben, Brian, and Michael. My first thought was this was going to be interesting. We've got the old folks, the middle aged folk, and me. I didn't know how well this was going to mesh. It took a good five minutes for everyone to get comfortable and thank heavens Brian is super outgoing and hilarious. I'm pretty sure if it weren't for him every night would have been more awkward than my jr high years. He was hysterical and had us all laughing every night. Michael and Ben were great too. They were all super nice and our dinners couldn't have been more fun. It seemed like outside of the dining room we ran into them on the ship every fifteen minutes. I wish this was an exaggeration but it really wasn't. They were basically my new best friends. (more on this later) 

I got to help make the cantaloupe flower arrangement in the main galley on the behind the scenes tour of the cruise ship. 


   Our first stop on the cruise was Jamaica! I must say I was much more excited about Jamaica than Grand Cayman just because I mean, it's Jamaica! And I just wanted to see if they really said yeah mon. Everyone was so freaked out to be there and apparently everyone said people would be all over you when you got off the ship trying to sell you stuff. This honestly didn't scare me, I wanted the true Jamaican experience and I mean say no and keep walking. We got off the ship and there was no one there trying to get you to buy anything. The most chaotic thing was just trying to find the right driver and even then we had some help. Once we found our driver (Dean) we started our day of sight seeing.

   We went to Fern Gully which is a rain forest and the road is a river bed. It was insanely gorgeous and was just like a canyon all the way up. After that we headed to a look over that was close to Mick Jagger's house. That was crazy beautiful as well. You could see all of Ocho Rios. We got to go to a botanical garden after that which was so peaceful. It would be the perfect place to just sit and read a book. After that we drove a little ways to a delicious restaurant that without a tour guide no tourist would know existed. It was definitely yummy. We then requested of course to do some shopping. There was this local market that I really wanted to go to. Dean got one of the shop owners to take us around to find what we wanted. I wish we could've stayed there a little longer but alas we couldn't miss our boat. I did find some awesome stuff (more on that later). Overall I loved Jamaica! I would go back in an instant. Everybody else I was with however would probably choose otherwise. 

1. Jack in the box flowers   2. Mick Jagger's house (our tour guide called him Mr. Jagger haha loved it) 3. Botanical Gardens    4. Ate some authentic jerk chicken and pork at this place.     5. Made friends with this kitty. It helped me eat my jerk chicken...no joke.  I wanted to take it home.  
6. Streets of Jamaica   7. Fern Gully   8. Jamaican hardware store   9. View of Ocho Rios, Jamaica 

Our tour guide, Dean. He was super nice and best of all he legitimately said "yeah mon" all the time.

Oh, also, drivers in Jamaica have a death wish. They were insane! Talk about shooting the gap. 

Grand Cayman

   The day after Jamaica we were in the Grand Cayman. I was obviously less excited for this port because  I had no idea what to expect but I was excited none the less. We had to take a boat from the ship to the island because it was too shallow. I thought this would take forever to get everyone across but we were one of the first groups to go. My dad had rented a car for the day and after we picked that up we were off to a place I really wanted to see. Hell. Yep, there is legitimately a place named Hell. So to all of you that have told me to go to Hell or at least thought it at some point, don't fret, I've been. You should check it out though. 
   We went to the gift shops, took pictures of the signs, and were ready to go. Well we almost missed the reason it is called "Hell". Behind the post office there is a large area with black rock closely resembling lava rock. Basically it's limestone that has gone through way too much to even begin to explain. A commissioner from England was visiting this area in 1930 and shot at a bird above this large patch of rocks and missed and said, "OH HELL" Thus the place has since been known as Hell. 
   Favorite part of Hell? Walking into a gift shop and having them greet you with "How the Hell are ya?" 

This is what happens when you ask your grandma to use an iPhone to take a pic of your family. We eventually got the one on the right. 

   After Hell we headed to a turtle farm. I knew we were going to a "turtle farm" but apparently I never even really thought about what it would really be like or entail because when we got there I was blown away. Coolest thing I have ever done (well one of anyways). Talk about sea turtles. It was absolutely incredible. My favorite part was the petting zoo area. They had little ponds with young sea turtles in each. You were allowed to pick them up as desired. I went a little crazy and didn't want to leave this area at all. They were so fun to hold and look at that I can't even describe it. We left this area and looked at the rest and a short 5 minutes later I was back over there. My dad came with me and I'm sure he loved it just as much as I did. I wanted to hold the smallest turtle there and we waited a good 5 minutes for it to come out of the corner and over to where I could pick it up. I got it on the first try (some of them are freaky fast little swimmers). The one in the bottom left hand corner is the smallest one. We figured out he was some where between 1.5 - 2 years old.  
  I have a new love for sea turtles. They are amazing animals. The fact that they live around 100 years blows me away. They are closely on the same timeline as us humans. To be able to say I've held one makes me so happy. 

   Sadly, we did eventually have to leave the turtle farm. We headed down an unbeaten path that went into some mangroves. We stopped at an area and got to go to a beach for a minute. It wasn't a super sandy beach and you couldn't wade out too far because of stuff in the water but it was super fun. My mom found a hermit crab along the trail to the beach so I picked it up and brought it with. I played with it the majority of the time we were there until he got pissed of and ate my finger. I still have battle wounds. He had a right though. I mean that poor thing had more human contact than its species was ever intended for. 

And in case you were wondering what happens when you drive on the left side of the road... this is what happens. Gosh Dad, you need some better driving skills. Okay, Okay, my dad didn't do that. 
Grand Cayman was a success. I wish we could've stayed longer and done some stuff in the water. It was so unbelievably blue. Just gorgeous. The majority of the way back to the ship you could see the bottom because it was so clear. 

Sea Day

   Throughout the whole trip when they sang happy birthday to people in the dining room I would jokingly lean over to my dad and sing my name in place of the other persons. Well, apparently I never let this go and one night when they were singing to someone I looked over at Michael and Brian and told them it was my birthday. They were like really? and I told them no, it was tomorrow though. They went with it and I eventually told them I was only joking but they did find out through later conversation that I was turning 21 in one month. Well, it was the day we went to Grand Cayman, we had gotten back on the boat, freshened up and headed to dinner. Dinner was good and then it was dessert time. I got what I ordered and I look across the table and see our waiters with a dessert with candles on it walking towards us. I figured they were going to the table behind us. They walked by and everything was fine. Next thing I know they're standing right behind me singing to me. Oh. My. Gosh. Brian and Michael had decided it would be funny to tell them it was my birthday. Okay looking back on it, it was hilarious. At the time? Embarrassing... I mean, it wasn't my birthday! See I'm telling you, these guys were an absolute riot to be with. 
    Skip to the next day (our last sea day). We woke up early and did the behind the scenes tour. It was my mom, dad, and I and we get there and Brian had signed up for it too. It was a good 3 hours long. I was exhausted from Grand Cayman and tired from getting up so early for the tour so I decided I'd take a nap. When I woke up we went to play games and a member of our entourage decided to critique my napping tendencies. That was the last straw for me. I needed a break. I needed to get away but the I'm just going to walk around excuse only gets you so far. We were sitting at a bar playing a card game, it was on the main level of the ship and I just kept thinking to myself... Brian or Michael, please walk by. I figured we ran into them enough why not now? I waited and waited and finally decided it wasn't going to happen. Two seconds later I look up and see Michael. I yelled at him and he came over. He was reeled in and played 2 games with us. I'm not exactly sure what happened next but all I know was that he invited me to go with him and I was gone. We went and met up with Brian and then hung out till dinner. It was then that I was informed that you only had to be 18 to gamble. Say what!?! They told me they'd take me and well, I wasn't sure. We went to our very last dinner together and I asked my dad if I could go gamble. He handed me money. I don't know how much was there because I didn't take it and you have to use your ship card anyways. After dinner everyone else was going to the show and I didn't really want to. Michael told me he'd teach show me how to gamble so after dinner we headed to the casino. It made no sense to me. Give this machine $1.25 to push a button and watch the shiny lights spin. Umm.. no. I wasn't fallin' for that. So I just watched for a while. Then Brian took me to the cheaper slots. He's like here do this, do that. So I pulled the lever. I won some, I lost some, I mostly won. He put in 40 bucks and I'm pretty sure at one time he got it down to 27. We'd kind of go back and forth with whose turn it was but every time I played he got this look. I finally looked at him and Ben and was like what? He goes, "I sat at this machine earlier and lost 40 bucks in 8 spins and you keep winning." They deemed it as beginners luck. I got him up to 46 dollars and made him stop. The best/funniest part was while we were playing on their dime Brian looks at us all and goes "hey, better our money than Ken's" hahaha! 
   It was the last night of the cruise and I wasn't about to go to bed at a decent hour. After we gambled for a little bit, I mostly watched, we went to a comedy thing and that was pretty fun. It was really short though. Then after that we went to the front of the boat. It was so insanely windy but so much fun. By the time I got back to my room it was close to 1 


 When we got back to Miami we had a few hours before our flight. We have never seen miami so my dad got us a driver and we got to do some sight seeing.
1. Our cruise ship - Victory   2. American Airlines Arena. The Heat and the Spurs were playing that night    3. DASH Miami... Kartrashians anybody?  4. Gianni Versace house   5. Hotel from Scarface 
 6. Our ride

   I must say I was a little excited to see the Kardashian's store, I don't know why. It kind of made me laugh that it doesn't look as nice as they make it look on the show. It's also on a really random street that I would never have pictured. Again, on the show they make it seem like it's beach front or at least that's the vibe I got. 
   Wow. Tangent. I'm back. There are some EXTREMELY insane houses right next to the port. We got to see them as our ship left. Our driver got to take us into one of the neighborhoods known as "star island" It's a gated community that once you're inside, there's even more gates. It was really cool to see some celeb homes. Every home in this area was at least 10 million dollars. 
1. Julio Iglesias   2. Al Capone   
3. Rosie O'donnell    4. Shaq 
5. Owner of Walgreens (as our driver told us, the largest drug dealer of the United States)

My vacation was amazing and I wish I could have just stayed there. It was an absolute blast. I did come home with some fun stuff, however. 

   I got a Bob Marley carving from Jamaica. This is the guy carving "Jamaica 2013" on the top. It was so cool to watch him do it and he was incredibly fast and skilled. I also got a Bob Marley t-shirt that I'm pretty excited about. I got the Jamaica sign to go beside my Bob Marley carving and I can't wait to put them up in my house. I brought home a good stack of post cards to add to my collection. The majority are from Grand Cayman because they were hard to find in Jamaica and I was lucky to find 1. Postcards were the main thing I got in Grand Cayman along with a bobble head like turtle magnet.
    I also got this disco ball cup from the cruise ship. I saw these one day and decided they were super cool. My mom told me I could get one but I opted not to because, well... I didn't want to spend money on it. At bingo one night with Michael and Brian I must have mentioned that I liked them because the last night before dinner Michael told me he had a present for me. Low and behold, a disco ball cup. 

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