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Mitsugirlys MITSUGIRLY decides to CONQUEST new ports-complete pictorial review

Day 7: Curacao

Ok...time to start on our next port...Curacao. I've been a little torn about what (or how to do the review on this day) but I've come to the conclusion that just being honest has always worked for me and I guess that's what I'm going to do. There may be some "OMG", some backlash, some opinions thrown, some "wow's", yeas and nays. But, here goes...

THURSDAY, APRIL 20: CURACAO 8-4PM

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Since we would be here at 8am, I set my alarm for 7am. If you noticed in this review, it's a little different than previous cruises, where I'm usually up 1 1/2 to 2 hours earlier than the posted time of getting off the ship. Well, I changed it up a little this cruise. I decided that 99.99% of the time, we are able to get up, get ready, get breakfast, and pick our things up in the room and be ready to go...well, a little earlier than needed and usually end up sitting around killing time waiting to get off. But, I've always been a planner and I've always been punctual. I like to plan for the unexpected and allow myself to compensate for things that "could" possibly go wrong. I don't like to divert too much from my plans or schedule (unless it's just super fabulous or my thoughts change in the moment). I'm the type of person that can be 20 minutes to my job and I'll always leave 1 hour ahead of time...just in case. Another factor is, with only the 3 of us cruising this time, it's a little more relaxing and laid back and I don't have to do any "compensation" for other families (ah hem...Kendra).

 

So 7am it was for us today and we were up to the buffet to get our normal breakfast...omelettes and a side of pig...only the bacon police was in full force today and stingy with the bacon. I just didn't have the patience to insist on more and I probably even did a quick eye roll as I walked away.

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This has been our daily routine just about all week after discovering real eggs can be had quicker than fake eggs.

 

Of course we can't forget these...another "tradition" this cruise for me.

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As we finished up breakfast, my son texted us with an update on the break-in at our shop. He had a lead...a pretty good lead. I'm not sure if I mentioned earlier in the review about a kid that stole from us back last summer, went down the street to the skate park and bragged about his new "purchase", only for the kids there to know that this wasn't true, brought the item back and he got banned from the store for life...IF he never returned we wouldn't press charges.

 

Well, the day before the break-in, the kid showed up with another kid, banned kid stayed outside, new kid came in, checked out one of the several bikes stolen, then walked out.

 

The new lead now pointed fingers to the banned kid and his "friend". (We would spend several hours after today's excursion researching this kid and "possible" known friend).

 

(Fast forward ahead, after we returned home...long story short, our camera's showed both of them, how they did it and we hunted him down. Let's just say most of the local kids scared him to death, dad found out, contacted the police and had the police escort the dad and the son back to our shop WITH the stolen bike to be returned. No questions were allowed to be asked by the hubby and he was told "We are dealing with it". Fast forward a few more days, and we are on the trail of the other kid with name, parents name, pretty much their life history of crime and drugs, where they have lived from house to house over the last 12 years, family members and addresses, evictions...and boom! Private Investigator must have been on the trail too and sat outside their house only to bust them getting out of the car....let's just say the police showed up with the other bikes...in parts. Taken apart to sell individually so as not to be "identified or noticed". Yea, obviously not this kids first time in this rodeo. Both are 14 years old. So...now we wait to see what is going to happen to these juveniles. Yes, we got the stolen bikes back, but they can no longer be sold as "new" and are used with scratches from riding...and we are out a few busted windows. Sigh.

 

Thought I would just catch up everyone that was interested in the ending of that. Sorry for the diversion.

 

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We pulled into port AT 8am. So guess what? That means Carnival is not on time. Is this some doing of Kendra since she didn't get to come?

 

We wouldn't be able to get off until 8:30am. Ugh.

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Our first scuba experience, well for the hubby and I, was on our last cruise in November. We went to Coki Beach to do a "Discover Scuba" with the dive shop there and had a blast.

 

For those that don't know, Sakari is a "scuba diver". She took the classes and got certified as a PADI Seal diver and on the team. She has been snorkeling and swimming in the ocean since 3 years old and her love for the ocean is just amazing. The amount of animals and creatures names she knows just amaze me. Last August, when snorkeling, in St Lucia at the Pitons, she all of a sudden decided that "I want to scuba dive!". I had no clue a child could do this. So, when we returned home, we called the local dive shop and found out that, if you are 8 years old, you can take dive lessons....and so she did. She dives monthly now with a different experience/lesson and loves it. However, her dive instructor quit this year (got an upgraded job and we are happy for him) and they were left without an instructor. She was having withdrawal. She could not wait to dive in the ocean....and dive she would! Here in Curacao!

 

I immediately started researching dive places. I found that most people here on the boards can only suggest dive places for those certified for open water. Then those that could suggest dive shops that did Discover Scuba were suggested...BUT, it was really hard to find that shop that did DSD AND a PADI class or bubblemaker for Sakari. That is where the problem lies. I contacted several.

 

I'm listing all the info I have on these places, just in case anyone ever needs it and is in my situation.

 

1) Atlantis Diving: I wasn't getting a response and had to email several times. They would do a DSD and bubblemaker class. Cost was $83 per adult and $114 for child. They would dive the Tugboat. Sakari could go down 6' and stay with her instructor, but would still be able to see the tugboat from above. The dive was for 45 minutes or shorter with the total session lasting 2.5 hours total.

 

2) Dive Bus: Super quick reply to let me know they rec'd my email and would be responding. Nice explanation and good communication. Cost is $110 per adult. They did NOT offer a bubblemaker for Sakari or anything for a child under 10 years old. They dive a Pierbaai Reef across the street from their place and is 3 hours long.

 

3) Ocean Encounters: This happens to be a place her dive instructor suggested and said they use when in Curacao. I told them about her being a PADI Seal and us completing 1 DSD in November. They did NOT offer a bubblemaker class and you needed to be 10 years old for that, BUT did tell me that since she has already had quite some diving AND we would be with her, they would allow her to do the dive. Wait what??? Then they also tried to offer us to do an Animal Encounter dive, which included diving and seeing turtles, nurse and lemon sharks...all behind a window that you could feed them. The cost would be $99/pp. That just didn't really seem like a "dive" experience to me if we are just diving down and viewing them behind a glass wall and I still couldn't get over the "she can dive with you" part.

 

4) Scuba Lodge: Price $95, dive at Marie Pampoen, Boca Simon or House Reef. Plus $10 pp fee for transportation and 3.5 hours total. When explaining what I was looking for, our experience, her age and so on...I guess I shouldn't have mentioned the word "Aquamission". I only explained that she is already certified and does a different aquamission, here at home, each month. They ran with it...and ran hard...to the point it got very frustrating. They started asking questions about which aquamissions she had done and which she hadn't. At first I thought they were going to put together an aquamission for her to do as her bubblemaker. At this point, if she's going to be scuba diving in Curacao, then the perfect aquamission there would be "creature identification" or the photography mission. After a lot of back and forth...I'm told "we can only do an aquamission in the pool". Um what? I don't want her in a pool. She can do that here. We are coming to the Caribbean for the ocean! Ok, so nix that idea. Forget about the aquamission. I'm sorry I ever mentioned it or wasted so much time on it. Then all of a sudden when I said we are only interested in the ocean, they could ONLY do the pool and an aquamission and was then informed there was not enough time to do DSD AND the aquamission. Um...what do you expect me to do with my kid? We are only doing it because of her. It's her passion! Ugh It was very frustrating and I gave up.

 

5) Bas Harts: Came highly recommended and they offered 2 dives, which included transportation, diving at Shon-Mosa and No-Name. Both calm sites, $139/pp for DSD or bubblemaker. Confirmation no deeper than 6' for Sakari. So...after getting all my answers from this place and all of the others, the last email from them stated "If you like to book please send....Height, weight, shoe size, name of ship, docking times/date". Ok, so...I decided to go with another due to time in port and cost and our first time there (as much as I wanted to try out 2 different dive sites). TWO MONTHS LATER...I get somewhat of a rude email (in my eyes) that was just totally weird to me and I've never had someone do this..."I guess your booked with Hans and are no longer interested in diving with us. Thanks for letting us know" Wow...that was a little shocker. I'm not a confrontational type of person...unless you really strike a nerve and this did with me. I decided to email back, in short, letting them know I contacted a lot of companies asking questions and gathering information based on our needs to determine the best fit for our family. I also reminded him that his last email said "if you'd like to book"...along with I didn't expect a company to assume I would tell them either way...booking or not. I mean after all, none of the other companies requested that. Obviously he must know who I am or something...how else would he have known I booked with someone else, and who it was, other than to read the boards here. I would have definitely used him on our return...but I also found this whole email rude...and I decided to tell him that as well. His reply was that they fill up quickly...I mean come on, it's been 2 months. I know you are not holding a spot for someone that didn't actually book right? Just know if you ask a question with him, and decide to book with someone else...ya just better give him a "no" as an answer...unless I was just lucky and got picked on for some reason. I'm just not sure.

If anyone has any thoughts on this...please feel free to let me know. I really would like to use this guy in the future. I know he comes highly suggested and many have done dives with him. Maybe we got off on the wrong foot. Maybe I took it the wrong way. Maybe he just struck a bad nerve. I don't know. I just found it rude, but I don't know him as others around here might.

 

6) There were actually 2 other companies I contacted. One with no response and another that...well, after looking at their website, it just didn't seem very professional to me...and I have no idea what their names were because I decided immediately not to use them.

 

7) Hans Pleij with Curious 2 Dive. Instant communication and all questions answered quickly and professionally by Hans. Bubblemakers was not a problem. Price was $88pp and a total of 4 hours. This includes transportation. Diving will be at the Tugboat, a drop off wall and a pier. Bubblemaker could be combined with our class and the introduction dive in the shallow water. We could stay with Sakari during the shallow dive at 6' or we could continue deeper with the divemaster to 40'. A little over a month later, I decided to book with them. I had also heard excellent things about Hans. I also was told that "if anyone could find a seahorse, it's Hans" and that is on my bucket list and I'm told this place is THE place for seahorses.

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So, we booked and were super excited about this dive. I was glad it was saved for the last port. Let's go out with a BANG!

 

 

Sorry for the long drawn out explanation on this. I just felt it needed to be told for future use and hopefully it might help someone else looking for information.

 

.....on with our day...

After getting off the ship 1/2 hour late, it put a little stress in my step and I had really hoped that they were still waiting on us.

 

Our instructions said to exit the terminal and look for someone wearing a yellow tee shirt saying Curious2Dive on it. That should be easy enough.

 

Off we went.

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Looks like there's plenty of shopping to be had when we return. I just hope there's enough time now that we are already running late.

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As soon as we made it out of the port...I found this...this is Roel...but you can call him Ro.

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Well obviously this was not a yellow shirt, but I surely couldn't miss the sign. The only thing that would have made it more obvious was to put some fins on him and a mask.

 

We walked across the street and got in the "company truck". I couldn't help but take another picture of my name in lights...well not lights, but chalk. I'm famous! Well, not famous but just them trying to find me. A girl can dream right?

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Off we went to their "office".

 

And off I go on a picture spree along the way of anything that happened to catch my eye.

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I love the colorful buildings here as well (just like Aruba and Bermuda...only maybe a little bolder).

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The "highway", I guess it was, was very interesting. A lot of twist and turns and I felt like I kept seeing the same thing, only at a different angle. It was interesting.

 

I could still see the Conquest in the distance.

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I was trying to get a picture of the lions on top of each post here

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We were pulling into the "office" area.

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It took us exactly 24 minutes to arrive.

Hmm, I'd have to say that I would love to call this my office any day.

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This place was really cute. All the little house/huts lined up on the water with bridges over to it and walkways.

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We went to a little hut across from the "office" and I guess this is where they would conduct class.

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Sakari started exploring too...

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She had her eye on the conch shells...I could definitely tell that. She kept bringing some too me saying "Isn't this so beautiful"...you know, like a kid in a candy store throwing you a hint...only this is her kind of candy store.

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Ro immediately brought out the paperwork.

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He ask us our "sizes"...don't men know to never ask a girl her size (or weight). My answer has been and always will be "jumbo" no matter what size I am (and even when I was smaller)...it's just my "word".

 

While he was in the office, now playing a guessing game and gathering various sizes of wet suits...we were busy filling out the paperwork.

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Once I was done, I kept hearing sounds in the water. I felt like someone was playing a prank on us and kept secretly throwing something in the water to make a big splash. Well, actually it didn't sound like a splash, but more like a bolder was just thrown in.

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Sakari ask him if they had any pets...because animals is all that matters in life. His answer was "We have a few pet barracuda's." LOL

 

She would adventure off to find her own pets...and she accomplished that task.

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I figured it was the perfect opportunity to get a few scuba girl pictures while I could.

 

My attempt of getting her with the Curious2Dive sign in the background.

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Well, I just typed up the next segment and accidentally closed it all out...so here we go again. It's gonna be one of those days I guess.

 

Ro brought back the wet suits for us to try on and man was that an experience for me. I have never had a wet suit on before and I have come to the conclusion that I need a new bathing suit. My current bathing suit has a skirt on it and well let's just say...it doesn't "tuck" well and is very uncomfortable.

 

The hubby had to up-size his because of his "cruise belly", which meant that the bottom, around the legs, didn't fit well and eventually allowed water in.

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Sakari is used to wearing them, since she wears a wet suit at every scuba class. However, she's never had a short one on and this would be the one time I wished she had a long wet suit.

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(Funny how I'm at this part of my review and her scuba place just called to sign her up for classes this month...what a coincidence).

 

We finished filling out our forms and Ro went over them. He never ask for our medical forms, so I volunteered them. I thought that was strange, since we had a "yes" on them. Then I also decided to present our log books and Sakari's PADI Seal log book, her dive card and other certificate showing her last ocean water dive from St Thomas. He said "oh cool...that's great". I still thought it was strange that he didn't request any of this and maybe they are a little more relaxed in Curacao? I know that St Thomas was on that and requesting everything to be in order.

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There were some really interesting birds flying over us and they reminded me of the Bermuda birds with the long tails. Sakari swore they were albatross birds and the males had the red "blob" on the front of them. After looking it up, I think they were Makuaku birds.

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After everything was in order and the truck was filled with all of our equipment, they locked up our things in the shop and we headed out at 10:31am. Off to the Tug Boat we went.

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It was an interesting ride and felt like it was "off the beaten" path at times.

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We arrived at 10:36, so it was a 5 minute ride to the Tug Boat.

 

Interesting tree..

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We piled out and he told us to get suited up. Yikes! I have to walk with this thing? All the way over there? Well, I did it once before in St Thomas, I guess I'll attempt it again...but the distance was a little greater this time. Of course Sakari doesn't have to walk with hers and Ro carried it for her. Lucky girl! Oh to be little again.

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The little area there was kind of neat. They had a few small building/huts there and it looked like you could get food and drinks if needed. There was a beach...if you want to call it that. It was nothing but rocks and shells, but there were people that had some lounge chairs on it and laying out.

The hubby was making this walk look so simple.

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I like that we now have 3 camera's and (although I hate having my picture taken) he's at least able to get a few of me showing that I was there. I'm not in pictures often because I'm always the one behind the camera. Notice I'm styling a new pair of shoes? I wear a size 8 1/2, but these were an 8. I really wish that I would have sized up at this point. I also was really wishing I had cut my toenails down some too. They were hurting a little bit. I always take my dive socks with me when snorkeling and at first I had them on. But they just made everything too tight. So, I got rid of those and just wore the uncomfortable shoes. Well...I should say boots.

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Ro was running a little behind us, carrying everything, and we got to an area where there were steps to go down onto the beach. This tank and equipment was heavy, so I decided to sit down on the steps and rest, I mean wait for him to catch up... only to find out that I couldn't get back up. I was stuck. It was like something was holding me down. Oh yea, that would be the heavy tank. The hubby laughed as I struggled and I was cracking up, while looking around me to see who all was witnessing this. About that time, the hubby grabbed my arm to get me up and Ro was coming and thinking I fell on the steps. I assured him I was ok and only having a fluffy person difficult moment. Man I need to get in shape!

 

We headed into the water and I was relieved to relieve some of the weight on my back. It was super rocky and a little hard to maneuver in the water. It was also a little wavy and some how I had to try to get my fins on...over my boots. What an experience it was. Of course I couldn't tell if they were on and I also couldn't tell how tight they were because you can't feel anything due to the boots. I wasn't sure if I liked this. Ro went down and tried to fix them and told me I was welcome to take them off if I wanted. For some reason I elected not to...I knew that those rocks would not be too comfortable to be standing on.

 

I looked under water to get my first glimpse of anything under there.

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Curious 2 Dive also takes their camera with them and Ro would take this picture of us prior to going under.

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They take pictures of you during the dive, and this is all free of charge, and they email them to you. I thought that was a nice touch! St Thomas made you buy the pictures they took.

 

Now just to give you an idea of the 4 photographers on site today (me, hubs, Sakari, and Mo). This is how many pictures were taken total:

 

Mo-37 pictures

Hubs-63 pictures

Sakari-132 pictures

Me "the picture freak"-497 pictures

 

So, if that gives you any indication of just how many pictures you are about to see..(no I don't share them all, that would be impossible and as always, they aren't all National Geographic shots of course). I did make the hubby his own stamp to indicate which pictures he took an I had to pull a logo from the internet for Curious2Dive to indicate which they took. Of course they don't copyright stamp theirs, this is my doing so that they get credit on here for what they did.

 

Now...another thing. We (our family) did have some issues that day with the pictures. ALL of us! The hubby normally doesn't have a camera, he's excused. Sakari is "new" with the camera and has only got to practice around the house and at scuba class. She hasn't learned the settings yet and I usually have to put it on the right setting. Me however...no excuse for me to screw up. But I did. I managed to lose my mind a few times and completely forget some of the settings and I ended up with some wacky green photos at times.

 

Here's the thing...I'm so used to the 620 and 830 camera and my new TG 4 does the same thing BUT the settings are different and I totally forgot. On the other cameras, you have to scroll the settings (within the settings) to put it on the macro function. On my new camera, you just twist the setting rotation wheel. There are several underwater settings (regular, wide angle, fast motion AND A MACRO SETTING). However, there is also a regular macro setting for above water, which I had been using A LOT this cruise...and I totally forgot this is NOT the setting you use for macro under water...and my pictures would suffer from it. With the settings on the wheel, sometimes you can easily hit the wheel with your hand and it changes the settings and you end up with wacky pictures. I get so excited when I'm under water and looking at everything that I forget to check my settings often. I will document things along the way as I post the pictures.

 

Now for the most part, most pictures were just ran with my action on PS, which sharpens for web and maybe lightened a little. The deeper you go underwater, the less clear the pictures become darker (unless you are close up) and they become bluer.