We’re back! I’ve taken the liberty to upload most of our honeymoon photos (leaving some duplicates out). I have a few favorites, largely involving tropical landscapes. There are some great ones of Ponzi peppered in the mix as well. I’d probably have a few hundred more snapshots if we weren’t sick for four days – which would have included more trips to Mayan ruins. Check out the turtles from Honduras, the Belize sunset, and the warm farewell from Guatemalans. Of course, please ignore the fact that I completely misspelled the word “Caribbean!” Nevertheless, we had a fantastic time – and would certainly recommend Regent cruises for anybody. I think we were the youngest couple aboard (by a complete generation, easily).
What’s this? A day on our honeymoon when both Ponzi and I were not respectively sick?! Sounds too good to be true. We celebrated this glorious cough-free day in true honeymooner fashion – by staying indoors and watching television. Nah, that was only until we were ready to dive into the waters of Great Stirrup Cey in the Bahamas. No sooner had I finished applying my fifteenth layer of sunblock (to keep the daylight from burning me to a crisp) than Ponzi was alone on the tender jetting ashore. This was a private island, recently opened exclusively for cruise ship usage. Only Regent’s Seven Seas Voyager passengers were cleared to play on Great Stirrup Cey today, allowing us to wander about the entire area worry-free. Neither of us had to fight for a great spot on the beach, nor did we have to wait to relax in any one of the large hammocks. This “exclusive” island was one of the greatest outdoor luxuries I have ever known.
I’m not much of a swimmer, so I didn’t bother putting on my swim trunks before leaving our cabin. Ponzi encouraged me to come knee-deep, long enough for us to stumble upon a small group of fish. I stood there and watched as small fishes swam around (and through) my legs! Before I knew it, Ponzi was securing snorkel gear for the two of us – despite my earlier failures with snorkeling in Maui. I was coaxed to don the mask and continue into the waters with nothing but my shorts and underwear. Nervously, I slipped the mouthpiece under my lips and pushed my face underwater – and succeeded in not drowning myself. Woo hoo! Yes, we snorkeled for a good hour before heading back to the ship – convinced that today, the last day of our Carribean honeymoon, was the best one yet. We had fun, but I think a large part of our elation was due to not feeling under the weather – and knowing that we’d be returning home very soon.
Despite having unwillingly skipped most of our intended shore excursions, Ponzi and I have rather enjoyed our time aboard this Regent cruise ship. It’s been a relatively smooth ride, in some part due to the fantastic structure beneath our feet:
An innovative, no-compromise-for-quality approach in luxury cruising even extends to Seven Seas Voyager’s engineering systems. Instead of normal propeller shafts, the voyager utilizes the latest Dolphin Azipod propulsion system, a wonder of 21st century marine technology. This configuration utilizes two self-contained propulsion pods located on the underside of the ship, which are able to rate by 360 degrees in any given direction. A 20ft propeller attached to each pod allows for the ship to literally turn on a dime and navigate quite precisely in tight quarters, almost entirely eliminating the need for tugs. This unique electrically-generated system produces a quarter operation with increased power efficiency, reduced fuel, consumption and environmental pollution.
Nights have been a bit rockier than I would have expected, but nothing’s falling off the shelves (or throwing us out of bed). Our assistant tells us that it’s been far worse at times. This ship, apparently, can take it.
We had a flightseeing tour over Guatemala scheduled for the day – but early this morning, Ponzi’s body forced us to change our plans. She slept her way through most of the morning hours while I watched Pirates of the Carribean (Dead Man’s Chest) for the first time. No pirates in these Carribean waters now (that I can find)! Today’s excursion would have taken us to Tikal:
Although this region was home to Maya communities as early as 600 BC, Tikal wasn’t established until around 200 BC. By 500 AD, it’s estimated that the city covered more than 18 square miles and had a population of close to 100,000. The great temples that still tower above the jungle were at that time covered with stucco and painted with bright reds and greens. By the 6th century, Tikal governed a large part of the Mayan world, thanks to a leader called Caan Chac (Stormy Sky).
I’m disappointed that we weren’t able to view more of Guatemala’s amazing landscape. After lunch on the Regent Seven seas Voyager, we ventured down into the port’s shopping pavilion. Ponzi and I walked up and down the aisles, seeing thousands of trinkets and unique crafts alike. My dad would be proud of my vastly improved bargaining and negociation skills; as a child, I couldn’t bid a merchant lower to save my wallet. Price on the coffee grounds was set in stone (so to speak), but I found $6.00 more than fair for a pound of pure Guatemalan coffee.
I think the biggest gift we received today was from the population of Santo Tomas de Castillo. As we were preparing to set sail, dozens of local taxis and shopkeeps lined themselves parallel to our ship – to the tune of hundreds of vehicles and random Guatemalans. The cars started to flash their lights and sirens, dancing ensued, and everybody was waving us good-bye. It was an awesome sight – very heartwarming, and quite memorable. I can’t wait to share the video!
Initially, we planned on kayaking in Honduras this afternoon. Tour tickets for this port of call were secured earlier this week, but this morning we found ourselves wanting to take a leisurely approach to the day. We lay by the top deck pool for an hour in between breakfast and lunch (without actually swimming). I sucked down an icy, rum-based beverage – par for the course. “Chris P” started to get crispy, so we knew it was time to head indoors. From there, we decided to take a tender ashore for a short while – if only to take a few photographs and make a few memories. Maybe I’ve become fully Seattlized, but I’m already sunned out for the week!
During the Maya reign in Central America (between the 4th and 10th centuries), the Paya Indians populated the Bay Islands. The Payas were a smaller and less advanced group than the Mayans. Their civilization was characterized by simpler housing and tools. Payan artifacts (pottery, jade, and shells) are often found in Island burial and ceremonial sites and are referred to by the locals as “yaba ding dings.”
According to reports, in the village of Punta Gorda (on Rotan), the locals still make their own homes. I’m guessing there’s not a single Home Depot within a hundred-mile radius of our current location. No matter, we didn’t really get to explore the Island; Ponzi and I hit a single gift shop, strolled along the edge of the beach, circumnavigated the pier, and loitered around a couple of turtle pools before heading back to the cruise ship (less than an hour after leaving it). I think I’m sunburnt.
If you asked me how it felt to walk among the ruins of Chichen Itza, I’d say it was relatively “surreal.” I’ve seen hundreds of photos / videos of this Mayan landmark, but being there in person was nothing short of amazing. My mind is still digesting what my eyes took in; history comes alive, even in the natural silence between the towering structures. Here’s a civilization that Western cultures once considered “savage,” but they obviously posessed advanced knowledge and skills – engineering, astronomy, mathematics, et al. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like it.
According to the tour guide, the word “Yucatan” is actually a truncation of a translation given to foreign conquerors by the Mayans; when asked for this land’s name, local leaders responded in Mayan: “Listen. I don’t understand what you’re saying.” The first part of this phrase sounded a lot like “Yucatan” – and that’s what stuck. I also didn’t know that as a country, Yucatan requested of former US President James K. Polk full statehood! Admission to our nation was denied due to then-British settlements to the south. It’s such a beautiful land – not adequately experienced through high school textbooks and television shows.
I’d like to return some day, though not without some kind of professional archaelogical guidance (read: Indiana Jones). I’d want to dive in deeper and get more than just a taste next time around.
There’s quite an ecclectic mix of couples aboard the Regent Seven Seas voyager this week. Few of them have discovered the blogosphere, judging from the size of today’s word processing class. I gotta know what other bloggers have done – or plan on doing – for their honeymoon? I probably should have asked this before booking (and then taking) our own Carribean cruise, but I can’t help but wonder just how many options are out there? I’m sure we’re not the only newlyweds going to the Carribean this week. It’d be cool to meet another newlywed blogger on this cruise! Bloggymooners? Honeybloggers? Moonboogers?
If you’re going to take a cruise, make sure you book a room with at least one full window and a balcony for two – otherwise, it’s simply not worth the cost. I’m not one for the great outdoors, but you simply can’t beat the views from any private cabin – no matter which direction you happen to be facing.
For our first cruise, Ponzi booked us in a closet with a small porthole – and it was quite uncomfortable. Our other two cruises (including this one, our honeymoon) have been in upgraded suites. 350 square feet may not sound like much, but it’s a perfect size when you’re looking for a home away from home.
I think what surprised us most about our Regent Seven Seas Voyager room was that it came complete with iPod speakers (a full dock from Logitech). We were offered an iPod to use, too – but Ponzi had already brought her own. How’s that for an extreme level of personalization? It’ll likely be twenty years before cruise ships come with Zune ports, I’d imagine. This ship’s a rockin’ – and if you come a knockin’, maybe you should use our doorbell instead? On second thought, this is our honeymoon – and we probably shouldn’t be bothered at all. What am I doing online again?!
We have our own butler! I’m not sure what this means, though. I think we can ask him to bring us odd things at seemingly random times? “It’s three in the morning – where’s my freshly-pressed cranberry juice?” He asked us a zillion questions up front, but that’s only to make for a seamless experience on the open seas. Regent is spoiling us. I’m gonna call our butler again and ask him if he’ll come back and change the channel for us.
The one thing we’re missing: dress clothes. Thank goodness the ship has its own clothing store, which will most certainly have attire proper for dinner dress. “Informal” isn’t my kind of informal, by the way. Ponzi is using this as an excuse to buy an entirely new wardrobe. Guess it’s never too early to start planning for our next Seattle summer, eh? We’ll likely find a few cheap threads on shore, too. What I really need right now is a keychain (mine broke).
We’re at sea all day – which is fine by me. We’ve scheduled couples massages for each day we’re not docked, which we’re totally going to need after returning from our planned excursions. Ponzi’s got us going kayaking, hiking, flying, drinking, dining, and walking a million miles in comfortable shoes. I’ll do my best to take as many photos as possible. So far, this trip isn’t turning into a “Maui” – and that’s a good thing. And in other news…
Well, so much for free WiFi. Our travel agent from Vacations to Go told us that there would be free access available from the ship’s library, but it’s apparently closer to 35 cents a minute (ouch). I’ll just give Pluggd another plug for having kept us plugged in on our Alaskan adventure a few months back. The climate is certainly warmer in southern Florida!
Our experience with Regent has been superior to this point – far exceeding our expectations. The security line was non-existent, and despite not having our cruise passes with us, we were checked in swiftly (manually, as the computer system was down). We were welcomed aboard, guided to the theatre for admission, and promptly handed our suite keys. Five minutes later, we were having a casual lunch on the top deck – where Ponzi asked about the WiFi. The waiter noted that someone would be along in a moment to help with that. Imagine our mutual confusion when someone came along to pour some white wine – which we didn’t want or need. “WiFi” sounds a lot like “white wine” in context, eh?
While the Internet access certainly is not free, I’m able to get online from the comfort of my own bed in the Penthouse. Awesome! We haven’t even left port and already I can tell this is going to be a spectacular experience – as every
moneymoon honeymoon should be.