The port of the day – Cozumel, Mexico. My family all booked the Chichen Itza Mayan ruins tour ($130CAD). The Chichen Itza is one of the 7 Wonders of the World. We were all to eat breakfast then meet at the Royal Theatre at 745AM. We were all quarreled in the theatre and put into our rightful tour groups and given stickers to label us. They went over some rules and we waited for everyone to come in. We left by tours and disembarked off the ship to line up to take the ferry. Chichen Itza is in the Yucatan by Playa Del Carmen which is a 45 minute ferry ride followed by a 2-2.5 hour bus ride to the site. I can tell you that being on a floating island for a week, you barely feel motion sickness but this ferry was absolutely brutal. Headphones in and trying to sleep to keep from thinking about the motion and puking. They do hand out plastic bags just in case.
We arrived at the ferry pier in Playa Del Carmen beside Parque Fundadores and the iconic Portal Maya Statue. We were led to our specific tours and taken to our tour bus. Our tour guide gave us all tablets for the 2-hour ride and told us information about the Mayans. There is a toilet on the bus but bring your own toilet paper. Before we got off the bus, our tour guide handed us these audio devices that he will use to keep contact with us during the tour at the site.
We parked at Hotel Mayaland’s Chichen Itza entrance. We stopped to use the washroom and then walked over to the entrance. Cameras are allowed but recording devices such as GoPro’s must pay a $5USD fee. No drones allowed.
Mayan / Chichen Itza / Yucatan Information
-Place of the red fish – exact location of the asteroid impact that killed the dinosaurs.
-Land of the wood turkeys.
-Yucatan is the named the Europeans gave 15 centuries after Jesus was born.
-The Spaniards colonized. Ohyatan – Mayan – listen how they talk. Miscommunication thus Yucatan means in Mayan – I don’t understand.
-All the Mayan books were destroyed by Spaniards to convert to them to Catholicism.
-Only 3 books left of Mayan culture as the Spaniards punished the Mayans and burned almost 100% of all their books saying it was the words of the devil.
-The first book is on Astronomy. That book is housed in Germany.
-The second book is on Mathematics and housed in Paris.
-The third book is on the afterlife housed in Spain.
-The books unfortunately don’t speak of anything of the collapse of the Mayans.
-The Mayans could be the survivors of the lost city of the sea or that they came from outer space. 5 days after birth, they put tablets and elongated the heads to make them “beautiful”.
-The Mayans were advanced and knew about 5 of the planets. They recorded and could predict the solar and lunar eclipse.
-December 21, 2012 was end of their calendar, not end of the world. It is also when 6 of the planets was to line up.
-The Mayans used 10 numbers including 0. They created the calendar with 0.
-The Mayans made 3 calendars – An Agriculture (18 months), a baby calendar and the 365 calendar.
-The origins of the Mayans are unknown but the working theory is that they are descendants of an Asian bloodline. They hold similar features such as facial structure, skin tone and many Mayans last names are Chinese.
-Mayans are born with a purple mark at the base of the spine. All natives are born with the purple marking of sort. This purple mark is also known as a Mongolian spot.
-The Mayans most likely crossed over from Asia via the bearing strait of Siberia.
-What happened to the Mayan people? They abandoned their cities possibly over politics or over population. The Spaniards came to discover empty cities and then went further inland to conquer the Aztecs.
-The name Chichen Itza:
Chi – mouth
Chen – sinkholes/well
itza – clan that built the city.
-Chichen Itza is divided into 2 sections.
-The new Chichen itza and old Chichen itza.
-They were built at different times and by different cultures.
-The Old Mayans never did human sacrifice but new Chichen Itza did as influence from other cultures.
When we arrived at Chichen Itza, it was overcrowded. The main pyramid we saw is called El Castillo and it is the temple of the Kukulkan (Snake in Mayan). The tour guide led us over to the the giant courtyard which was a sports field. They would play a life or death game where the winners would sacrifice their lives after they won thinking it was an honour.
The tour guide gave us about 10-20 minutes to take photos and buy souvenirs. The precious stone that the Mayans are known for is the obsidian stone that refracts different colours in the sunlight.
Back the route we came with one more toilet break before heading back on the bus. Our tour includes snacks and we got a package with packed sandwich, apple, banana, a snack bar, a bottle of coke and a bottle of water.
2 hours on the bus and what felt like the longest 45 minutes ferry ride back to our ship. We got back really late and missed volleyball at 5PM (got back at 6PM). All of us felt nauseated so we all went back to our rooms to rest up. We for the most part had attended all the entertainment on the ship so we took it very easy that night and relaxed. There was an all white party where the solarium got turned into a dancing area. The top floor was blocked off and you had to scan your card or pass to get in. The party started at 11PM but it was very lackluster so we left.
Our final full day of cruising passing Cuba to head back towards Fort Lauderdale. 830AM breakfast then 5 hours in the sun (without really noticing). Windjammer for lunch then we took the Mini putt. We figured we might as well try the giant slide – The abyss however, you need to have a top with sleeves to avoid sticking. To try the zipline or Flowrider, you need to sign a waiver and get blue wristband to do so.
Not many activities worth doing, we all split up. I ended up re-watching the Hideaway Heist aquatic show because I didn’t have my camera with me for the first show and I wanted to capture some cool diving shots. Went to worked out one last time then to the Jacuzzis. Out of the cruising days, that day in particular was super windy and all the Jacuzzis were jam packed but I was able to find a spot but then 2 older asian couples got into my space so I left.
We had reserved our final dinner on the ship in the Fine dining – Silk. Really cute to see the staff come out to sing us a song to thank us for being patrons with the patrons swinging our napkins in response of celebration. I ordered the crab cake, 2 entrées – tempura cod fish and shrimp ravioli with carrot cake to finish.
We watched Spiderman on the big screen at the Boardwalk and went back to the room to pack. Usually on this night, people would pack their luggages and leave it in the hallway for the staff to take away and sort for check-out the following day. We opted to carry our luggage out with us for faster check-out.
We grabbed breakfast at the Bistro and then met up with the rest before leaving the ship. You can stay on the ship until 10AM but must vacate the rooms by 830AM because they need to clean all the rooms and get it ready for the next cruise where the new patrons would arrive as early as 1030AM. Self carry checkout was really quick.
We took a taxi to airport and my parents decided to stay while the four of us headed over to Enterprise to rent a car to goto Sawgrass Outlets. Our flight was scheduled for 10PM that night (we departed the ship by 9-930AM) so we wanted to kill some time and not sit in an airport all day. We arrived at the outlets just before it opened at 10AM.
I finally bought new shoes from Nike (replaced my worn out shoes from 2014) and went to Super target for M&M’s. We ate lunch at the Cheesecake Factory – Mac & Cheese burger. Got back to the airport around 430-5PM and waited around as our flight was the last scheduled flight out.
So many delays due to snow in New York and Boston but unfortunately the plane for the flight to Halifax had some technical problems with the temperature gauge and needed 4 mechanics to come in to repair it, which delayed that flight by multiple hours. By the time our flight was to leave, we left on time but there were a few that were delayed further due to the weather. So happy our flight was on time but not happy to leave 17-30C degree to -19C degrees (felt like -30C) weather.
Over the Christmas break, my family and myself with the additional of my brother’s girlfriend went on a 7-day cruise on the Harmony of the Seas with Royal Caribbean. This Cruise marked the first time in 17 years that my family has travelled together since our trip to California back in 2000. This cruise was also to celebrate my father’s retirement. The 7-day Western Caribbean cruise ported in Labadee, Haiti – Falmouth, Jamaica & Cozumel, Mexico. These were the same ports as my previous cruise but this was the only one that worked with the timing of all our schedules. My parents are frequent cruisers so we were able to get on-board credits that we all put towards an excursion together (sort’ve).
The Harmony of the Seas is one of the largest ships in the world soaring over 17 decks high. It offers the fastest and most widespread internet service –Voom over water, The Abyss –giant slide from the 17th deck to the 6th deck, 2 flowriders for surfing and boogie boarding simulations, mini putt, rock climbing, ziplining, an outdoor gym, a spa/gym, outdoor track, 5 pools, 5 jacuzzis, a skating rink, a casino, an entertainment deck, a formal dining area, a promenade and much more.
Online check-in is supposed to help you get boarded faster. You get to print out your seapass and your luggage tags (print in colour). You go through security before boarding. You are allotted 2 bottles of wine to bring on the ship if you like otherwise, all alcohol must be purchased from the boat. Apparently all the early check-in things we did meant nothing, as we had to fill in that information and retake our photo again.
We flew to Fort Lauderdale to board the boat. You can take the Cruise transport, which is $11USD/person OR if you have a group – grab a taxi for cheaper transport to Port Everglades.
You won’t have access to your Stateroom until roughly 1-3PM as they have to clean them from the previous cruise. When the room is ready, you will find your room key/sea pass card in an envelope by your door with your luggage sitting outside your Stateroom. The new passengers can start boarding as of 10AM until 430-5PM before the boat departs.
You have the option to carry your luggage (if it’s small enough or carry on size) or you can choose to check it and just carry your passport, seapass print out and credit card.
You can opt to purchase the WOW wristbands for $5USD to replace or as an addition to the seapass card. The seapass/wristband asks as your credit card, ID and room key on board. You do need your Seapass card when you are at a Port and decide to disembark the ship for security purposes.
The boat uses a App called Royal IQ which you can use on your phone (additional fee if you want on-board chatting). With this app, you can reserve shows (for you and others by name), check your statements and see the program and itinerary for the day.
NOTE – There are hidden gratuity fee of $11-13USD/day which in the end pays the staff.
We got to the airport for around 330AM for our 645AM flight. Funny how a family with the last name U all books tickets together yet my name is the only one that can’t get checked in beforehand. As I went to the kiosk to check-in, my ticket comes out but as I am showing it to get to the first part of security, the lady takes a highlighter to my ticket. Turns out the SSSSS on my ticket means I’ve been randomly selected to be searched – yay….
At the airport, I repacked my personal backpack with a change of clothes, swim suit and flip flops because your luggage gets taken away from you and you won’t have access until 1-3PM.
We went straight for food at Windjammer and then to the solarium to sunbathe for a bit. Windjammer is the main eating establishment at the back of the ship. Buffet style. The Solarium is the adult’s only Jacuzzi section with giant egg nesting loungers. The Solarium also has an eating establishment – The Bistro (not as big as Windjammer and less variety). We walked around the ship to check out our “home” for the next week.
There is a mandatory emergency meeting where we are clustered into musters. The muster is shown in large print on your Seapass card. Our muster station was the gym.
We finally departed around 530PM and since the Harmony of the Sea is one of the largest ships in the world – you don’t actually feel it moving (not that often) as it is a floating island. The cruise was full of families celebrating Christmas and the holidays together. There was 6780 guests in total on the ship.
Dinner at Windjammer and we ended our evening watching the Grease broadway show.
First day cruising so I woke up, went for breakfast (ate way too much) and then decided I was going to workout – good and bad decision. Seeing as we were on a cruise ship over the holidays, everyone was trying to stay in shape especially the day before Christmas. The gym was super crowded and people (including me) were just trying to find a space to get our workouts in. I grabbed some dumbbells and found a spot by the mirror. After doing a half decent workout, I walked the track and came back to stretch.
After my workout session, I found my brothers and Tammy and hung out in the Solarium area to lounge and tan. We eventually got up and ate lunch at the Bistro. We walked through Central park and the Boardwalk then went back to our Statesroom to shower and just relax out of the sun.
We had made reservations to watch the Ice show 1887 in Studio B. Not 100% sure what the storyline was but nonetheless entertaining. The website description describes it as “a magical journey inspired by Jules Verne, legendary author of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. This exhilarating, time-traveling journey blends fantasy with reality“. The cast from Grease put on a special Christmas Carol show in the Opal Theatre.
We had booked a formal family dinner that night at Silk -formal dining. The service is a little slower but the atmosphere is more upscale than say Windjammers. You can order as many apps and entrees as well as desserts as you want. I got the escargot, duck terrine, osso bucco and creme brulee.
After the formal dining, we went back to our rooms to change and went to the Attic on the entertainment deck to watch the comedy show. At 11PM, in the nightclub they held the Hush party – a silent dance party where all guests wear headphones and with a flick of the switch, you were either listening to one DJ or to another DJ. It was a very fun experience but more entertaining when you take the headphones off and hear people singing to the songs.
Our first port of the cruise was in Labadee, Haiti. We woke up early – around 7AM, ate together around 8-830AM at the Bistro. We departed the ship by scanning our Seapass cards. The port of Labadee has been renovated since the last time I was here (back in 2013) due to natural disasters and just expansion. This port is manmade and a private port for Royal Caribbean. It features 2 beaches, an outdoor water obstacle course, a water slide with hidden cabanas into the mountain on one side. There are canopies and ziplining the other side open to the main waters.
The volleyball court moved into the middle beside the kids water park. My full family set up beside each other and just hung out on the beach. Since we were ported and it was a private beach, lunch was a BBQ style buffet beachside.
After lunch, we headed back on board. We tested to see if the gym would be less busy in the afternoon. I got a little arms workout in. After the workout, I found my parents and brother and we just hung out in the Solarium for awhile before heading back to the room to shower and watch some TV and Dreamworks movies.
We met back up with my brother and Tammy to have Christmas dinner together at Windjammers. For once, our family didn’t have to host and cook a turkey and ham which was a nice little break and have other people do it for us. We had reserved the Headliner show for after dinner. The Headliner show starred Ronn Lucas who is a well known ventriloquist. He has entertained royalty to presidents and had his own show back in the day. He was really good. The promenade had 50’s-60’s music night. We called it a night after grabbing a slice of pizza from Sorrento (the only 24 hour food establishment) in the Promenade.
Boarded the Oasis of the Sea in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and travelled through to 3 separate ports:
I travelled with my friend Joanne.
The time on the boat also known as it’s own floating island, there is plenty to do and see. Take in a comedy show, go skating, climb the rock wall, surf on the Flow-rider, gamble in the casino, take in a show, swim in one of the 5 pools, eat to your hearts content and so much more.