Mitsugirly needed to ESCAPE from the cold weather

Day 4: TUESDAY DECEMBER 17: HARVEST CAYE BELIZE

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Welcome to the beautiful Harvest Caye in Belize!

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Just an FYI for those who have never been there. You will NOT be able to use your beverage or dining package here and you can NOT use your room card for purchases. You CAN use your card for any excursions booked there in port.

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I know there are a lot of mixed reviews and thoughts on this place. I believe most of the negativity stem from not being able to use your beverage package here, no free food or lunch provided and not being able to use your key card for purchases. Otherwise, the reviews seem to be positive (at least what I had read prior to coming here).

 

I treat this place as if it is any other port. You'd pay for any activities you do using cash or credit card, you buy your own food and drinks, and you use your own money for "extras" you'd do as well, such as excursions. But, the other thing about this is you have the option to just head back to the ship to get your grub and drink on if you don't want to pay extra for this while in port.

 

So many people get upset that Harvest Caye does not include the food or beverages when it's a "private island". Well, although it's their island, it's not their actual "private" island like Great Stirrup Cay is. Member LeesaB here on Cruise Critic explains this situation best for those that don't understand it. She explains it like this (and I want to give her all the credit for this explanation):

 

Harvest Caye can be a bit difficult to wrap your head around, especially if you're used to a traditional private island from a cruise ship.

 

As you learned, Harvest Caye is not a traditional private island.

 

What it IS, is an island that (my understanding is) NCL owns, but they struck an agreement with the government of Belize in the running of this island.  NCL bought the island and paid for (most, if not all) of the construction of the island features, but it is actually run by the government of Belize, or more likely some sort of contractor company. 

 

Instead of like those private islands in the Bahamas where all the employees are cruise ship employees, all the employees on Harvest Caye are actually from Belize.  It helps their economy and NCL gets a nice docking port in Belize.

 

Yes, the island is essentially a giant touristy port, but without all the weirdness of "how do I get out from this maze of shops?"  If you buy something on the island, you're paying someone who lives in Belize for that product.

 

This certainly isn't explained well by NCL, which I think would help a lot of people enjoy their day at Harvest Caye better.  If a calm, touristy port experience doesn't sound like a fun day, then guests can make sure to schedule an excursion, take the ferry to Placencia, or simply stay on the ship.

 

So hopefully that wonderful explanation helps others out.

 

This place is just beautiful. Whether it's man made, natural or whatever, a lot of thought and planning to make this a breathing taking place to visit has taken place here. The pool is absolutely gorgeous and HUGE...think bigger than the one at Grand Turk. So even on a crowded day, there's plenty of room to swim.

 

There is so much seating, either by the pool, away from the pool and at the beach....like A LOT. I can't imagine not having a place to sit.

 

We were just here 4 months ago on the Breakaway and enjoyed our day there and I had hoped that we would do the same again today.

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We were in port from 8-5pm today. That meant getting up early or not would somewhat be an option for us. I was not in a hurry because 1) we were just here and there wasn't anything new to explore this time around and 2) there wasn't any excursion booked that we had to be there at a certain time. I believe I set the alarm for 7 or 7:30am and off we went for breakfast.

 

It really wasn't too crowded in the buffet and only 2 people ahead of me at the omelette station so why not? We ate breakfast in a non-rushed pace, which was nice, and there was plenty of seating.

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Then we headed over to the towel hut to exchange our towels for some new fresh-fresh.

 

This would be the only towel animal to be found during this cruise. I really hate they have decided to do away with the towels animals. Towel animals have been around for many years and well known to cruise lines. The excitement of coming back to the room to see what your room steward had left you each night was not only a tradition but left you feeling like a kid waking up on Christmas Day with a new surprise. Sakari always enjoys them too. I understand this task requires added effort and time for the room steward and some people don't care for them, but it's tradition for heavens sake! Not to mention, if it saves the room steward time in each cabin, do you really think they are getting off work early? I doubt it, they are probably just getting more rooms added to their job while cutting back the number of stewards needed on these mega ships...or they are put to work at another area/venue (since many of them already have 3 or 4 other jobs on the ship). GIVE ME BACK MY TOWEL ANIMALS!

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After eating, I slothed back to the room in an untimely fashion, grabbed our bags and headed toward the elevators. It wasn't too crowded and the elevators allowed you to get off on the 4th floor, which was the gangway, this time where yesterday, it made you get off on the 5th floor and walk down the steps....NOT FUN for those with mobility issues! Do you realize just how hard it is to walk down stairs with a heavy boot that takes up more space than a step provides? Then factor in having to walk down them somewhat sideways, while holding onto the railing with both hands, all while trying to keep your balance with a herd of people coming down at the same time.

 

Out we headed to get our pictures taken. Sakari is no longer afraid of Pirates and knows that they do not realize she is really a mermaid and they won't harm her as she thought back when she was little.

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Now I knew, from being here a few months ago, that they offered a tram to take people down the long pier. I was definitely going to take advantage of this...well honestly, I had no choice but use that service.

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I see you in the mirror!!!!

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The pier is pretty long and I found myself wishing that I had the ability to walk it again like we did a few months ago. I'm almost scared those days are over with for me.

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Just like before, the misting stations were in full force for those that just had to walk the long pier and couldn't make it the rest of the way to the water without needing cooled off first.

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Sakari shouts "There's that beautiful palm tree again" ...like if it was going to disappear since the last cruise...as she ran over to get her picture taken by it.

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We made it to the pool area. The hubby was pointing and saying "That's where we sat last time". I kept telling him I wanted a "different" view this time and we were sitting on the opposite side.

 

The chairs and umbrella's are free to use and there's plenty of natural shade from the palms strategically placed around the area as well. We found our spot and marked our territory.

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I do want to mention, before I forget, that last time there were iguana's walking around all over the place. This time I did not see one iguana, other than in an exhibit they had there. I wonder why?

 

Sakari immediately headed for the pool. I went to zoom in and take a picture of her and what do you see her doing??? The very same thing that she was reprimanded for doing last time we were here (which is ridiculous)..."diving" while standing in the water. Last time the life guards wanted to yell at everyone for every little thing they did. They told her not to "dive" from the steps. They told her not to "dive" from standing in the water and going forward. Like it was seriously the most petty thing. She was told she had to ease down into the water with her body and her head and then swim. Are you for real?

 

So I instantly caught her "diving" right from the start. Only this time, nothing was said...at all that day about anything that she did. Either she was being sneaky and not caught or they've eased up a little. I did see things that I would have THOUGHT that the life guards would have said something about such as a parent tossing their kid up pretty darn high in the water with others around them. 

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There wasn't much time before it was time for us to head out to the pool. It was a hot day.

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I remembered a photo that I had taken back at Grand Turk when we were at the beach. I remember seeing a reflection in our sunglasses and it became a game to try to get a good shot of the beach while aiming the camera at the sunglasses. I don't feel that it was working out as well this time around but it was fun wasting about 50 pictures on my disc space trying to do so.  It's hard to tell but the other reflection (which isn't really a clear one to begin with) is that of the waterfall area in the pool.

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Here's my previous reflection shot I did in Grand Turk.

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Just hanging out by the pool for awhile because it's the one thing that I can do successfully.

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Under the waterfall

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I did decide that I wanted to "walk" the entire pool to get some exercise and loosen up my leg/ankle. If I don't move for too long, I get really stiff. What better way to get my PT on than in a pool with very little weight bearing right?

 

When I woke up this morning I was SORE!!! Like REALLY REALLY sore from the day before and diving. I felt like I had run a marathon. I had no idea that I would feel that way the following day and it wasn't just my leg/ankle that hurt...it was my entire body. Who would have thought that just gently gliding along in the water would have such an effect on my body?

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After getting out of the pool, I told the hubs that I wanted to go "walking" and by walking I meant shopping. Off we went while he gave me a look of "you really think you should be doing all this walking???"  I mean I was on vacation and I wasn't about to let anything hold me down...well almost anything.

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I wanted to bring your attention to this area of chairs...they came with fans in different locations here.

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We made it to the shopping area and they had some of the cutest little souvenirs along here. I REALLY wanted one of these giraffes. They were carved out of wood and had the cutest little mane made of a broom type of material.  I really really wanted one! But they were super expensive of course (over $100 for the smallest). I also knew that I had no real use for it or a place that it would "fit in" anywhere in my house. I mean I do have a room where the decor is cruise/boat related and another that is beach/fish related. Just nothing that a giraffe would work in darnit. 

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Then there were the cats and the first thing I thought of was my youngest sons girlfriend...we call her the crazy cat lady (even though she only has 2 cats) but everything she gets has to do with a cat. Maybe if I like her enough by next Christmas...

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I love the wood carved animals in the area.

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Now I know Del Sol has been around for many many years. I was first introduced to this place back in the 90's on a CRUISE! Imagine that. They had a shop in Key West and I purchased my youngest son a shirt from there. I just thought it was so neat how you go out in the sun and everything changes to pretty colors.

 

Well, I have always avoided going in here in the past up until today. There was an awesome salesman in there and he was really working it. Since we cruised the week before Christmas, I really hadn't got all of my Christmas shopping done and I still needed items for our games we play on Christmas (saran ball and funky gift exchange that you roll a dice and steal other peoples gifts according to the number you rolled).

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I ended up going crazy in this store...like I don't even know why. I bought Sakari a pair of sunglasses, a bracelet, a ring (which was free), and my son Kolin a tee shirt (one of the gifts for watching my animals while I'm away) and some other things I don't even remember at this time.

 

Then I already knew that for the older kids presents from us was going to involve something to get them all on vacation with us again! Last time was our Bermuda trip and that had been in 2015. I had bought airline gift cards for their flight and also gift cards for their stay at an Airbnb location. (Then I threw in a lottery ticket as well). I made scrapbook pages, all about vacation and the ocean, and this would be their Christmas present. However, one of them would have a cruise in it as well and I would also do up a scrapbook page with cruise related items. I wrapped the papers in 3 different sized boxes with the same wrapping paper and it was up to them to decide which box they wanted. None of them knew I was doing this. I had each roll a dice and the highest roll got first choice of which box they wanted. Kolin had the highest, then Kendra, then Kenny. Kolin won the cruise (I guess he liked the shape of that box) and Kendra was livid of course. Kenny was shocked that I had done any that.

 

Anyhow...I needed items to put in the crazy gift exchange were you steal a present. Each adult had to bring a gift. I decided I wanted to do gifts that had to do with the vacation theme I was going with because none of them knew what was to come at the end of the night. I bought a few beach bags and then bought some beach related items and bought the girls some Del Sol nail polish. I knew they were going to be confused why I would be buying "beach" items for the gift exchange. Once they did My gift game, they then learned why.

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I think I walked out of there spending almost $200. Yikes! They suckered me in.

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I seriously spent so much time in there the hubby said he was going to get ice cream. lol I would later meet him there.

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They had so many choices and I went with the sea salt caramel in a sugar cone and I have to say that it was the absolute BEST I have ever had. Oh my gosh it hit the spot!

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We circled around and I took some pictures.

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I tried using the macro function on the camera. I really didn't know just how well it worked at this point. But I figured I would try it here and there to get used to it.

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We sat down to rest for a minute. My foot/leg was hurting and what I used to walk around in was to put on my water socks I use for snorkeling and then put on my ankle brace for support. It was wearing me out despite us walking really slow. 

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As we sat, I continued to try to use the macro function...getting REALLY REALLY CLOSE!! Like my lens is basically almost sitting right on the items.

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I really couldn't believe that it was working so well. My TG 4 has a macro function and I absolutely hate that function. It's not a macro at all. It's more like a zoom. If you hit the button when you are close up, it won't focus. If you are far away and hit the button, it zooms in and gives you a crappy picture IMO.

 

Now this new TG6....I can be right up on it and it would focus and focus WITH detail.

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After resting, we started to head back. At the children's waterpark, I thought it was funny that the life guard stood up at the top in a bright red raincoat.

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We circled around toward the beach.

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Prior to us going for a shopping walk, Sakari had met another mermaid at the pool. They were hanging out most of the day. They had asked if Sakari could go with them (a family) to the beach to play and the mother was going with them. I agreed and told her what we were doing.

 

We decided to head over to the beach to see what she was up to and this is where we found her.... (check out Mr Studly posing in for the swimsuit edition in the background).

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She was sitting in a hole they had dug and 2 very young kids were playing around her and in the hole. I'm looking around and didn't see her mermaid friends or their family. She didn't seem too happy being there and she actually appeared sad. When I asked what happened to her friends, she said that the mom said they were going to the animal exhibit and had asked Sakari to stay there and "watch their sand toys". Say what?!? Why would you do that? Why wouldn't you gather your own toys and take them back to the pool chairs and bring my child along with you back to the pool? I was a little ticked at this point.

 

I told her to grab up all of the sand toys and we were going to bring them back to our pool chairs and when she seen them again, she could return them. I was being nice. I don't know why. In reality, I should have told her to come on and left the toys there just because they left my child there alone. But...my niceness came over me I guess.

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Sakari seemed sad that her friends had left her behind and didn't bother to ask if she wanted to come. Momma bear doesn't like for her bubbly Sakari to be sad so I told her "Let's go see the animals!!!" I was tired and sore and I knew I was swollen, but I wanted me child to turn her frown upside down and that was more important than my pain level at the moment!

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We made it to the butterfly exhibit. They are so pretty!!!

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Sakari immediately attracts animals. They just know she is an animal lover.

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The name of the game is to get the butterfly to open its wings to show the beauty inside...the blue. On the outside, they are a brown color. They use this as camouflage against predators. It would become a game of trying to snap the picture quick enough to capture the wings open.

Sakari tried several times to get the butterflies off of her and move on but every time one left, another landed. LOL

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The last one she managed to get off her flew away and then landed on my head.

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The life cycle of the Blue Morpho butterfly.

 

Now this states their adult life cycle is 21 days. However, when you look up information on them online, it states 115 days is their lifespan. So, I'm really not sure.

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We managed to make it out of the butterfly exhibit without Sakari having a hitchhiker and moved on.

The only iguana that was seen that day by us...

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I was busy taking pictures and messing with my newly found macro setting and the hubby decided he would just sit and let me do my thing.

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I'm pretty sure this gator needs to see a vet for some type of skin fungus.

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Back to the pool we would go and I needed to get my brace off because it felt like it was cutting off the circulation.

 

Like always, once I remove anything from my leg (whether it's a sock, brace, boot, or shoe) there's always indents in it from it trying to swell but no where for it to go so it builds up in my leg instead. See the huge bump around my leg by my name stamp?

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I wanted to get our Christmas picture at this port too, so Sakari did a quick pose for me.

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After resting for awhile, we decided to swim a little more before going back to the ship. I handed the GoPro to Sakari and the fun started....

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Sakari would go off making video's and I just wanted to sit along the middle on the chairs and relax and people watch.

A 3 1/2 minute video Sakari the Mermaid shot with the GoPro. She was having some fun.

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It was around 2:30-3pm and we decided it was time to head back. We hadn't ate all day, like we did the last time we were there, and we were pretty hungry. Sakari's other mermaid friends never came back to swim or play with her and now we had to gather up not only our stuff but her friends stuff to carry back. They did tell her, when they were swimming, their room number (it was an easy number, 9234), so we knew they were on the same floor as us and just down the hall). I told Sakari when we got back, she could just run it down to their room and if they didn't answer, she could leave it by the door. 

 

Once I slothed back to the pier entrance, there was a line for those wanting to catch a ride back to the ship. Being handicapped at the moment, I always notice things that I've never noticed before. There were very able-bodied couples (guessing in their 20's-30's) that could have walked but wanted to ride back instead. That meant waiting on several carts to come back as we waited in line. Eventually, some people got tired of waiting and decided to walk anyhow...as they should have.

 

It was our time to ride now...whew!

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I'm in the front seat now and I see you behind me hubs....

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Once on board, we waited for the elevator to arrive and take us up to our floor. It wasn't a long wait and I suspect it was because we didn't come back at the last moment.

 

We took our things to the room and dropped them off and immediately headed to get something to eat. We ended up at the buffet. 

 

I had a salad and sandwich

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Then Sakari had some fries, pizza, and mac & cheese. We both had some bread. It seems like bread is the number one thing we devour when cruising. Bread and butter with everything we eat. Sakari will sit and just get a plate of bread sometimes as a "snack". It's a cruising thing for some reason. Maybe it's because there is a wide variety of types of bread.

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I tried out their cheesecake topped with caramel and it was pretty amazing! I do have to mention that with all the years I have cruised with NCL, all I ever read was constant complaints about how NCL did NOT know how to make deserts. I complained as well. It had to have been the most bland thing I have ever eaten anywhere. Just plain gross. But, I think they must have stepped their game up. The last 2 cruises have been pretty good in the yummy department (at least what I have tried). My belly and hips are proof! Or  did that come from laying in bed for 2+ months and in a wheel chair for 3+ months?

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I'm not sure if this would be considered our lunch or dinner that night so we'll call it linner just to be safe. I don't recall eating anything else and I don't have any pictures of having dinner. 

We wanted to catch a show tonight. Tonight's scheduled showed "Comedy Magic of Chris Blackmore" in the theater. I figured that would be something that Sakari would like as well. We don't go to a lot of shows because quite frankly, we don't care for the song and dance shows or anything Broadway related. But give us a comedian or magic show and we're there.

 

The show started at 8pm and we had several hours before it was time to go. I was a little wore out and we decided to just hang out in the room and on the balcony.

 

The sun was setting and I was busy playing with my camera and checking out some of the video Sakari did with the GoPro.

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The water was so calm and we had perfect weather so far. I was really worried because I get on a kick were I'm checking the weather every day a week before our cruise to see what it's going to be like despite knowing that the weather could change at any time...even that day. But it's  just something I do each time. Well, the weather showed nothing but thunderstorms each day in port all week. Not just rain but the lightening bolt with rain icon on the weather channel on my phone. It really looked like it was going to be crappy weather the entire time and I let Kendra know this and told her that should make her feel better about her backing out and not going. Her reply "YEP!"  So now, I couldn't wait to break it to her that the weather was nice instead and she was missing out. Nah nah nah boo boo.

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One of the great reviewers on cc is Gambee. I love his reviews and he has a camera that takes these weird photo's that makes them look like a painting...well kinda. I have always wanted a setting on my camera like that. Although this new camera has somewhat of a setting like that, I don't think it's quite the same as his. But, I would mess around with a few of thepaint-looking settings and found this one to be a little neat.

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My foot was a little swollen from the day but I was taking my mind off it by enjoying the review. I have to admit that I was loving having a balcony this time around. I normally could care less because we are just not in the room long enough to make it worth it. But this time, we spent more time in there than normal. I needed to make this somewhat of a relaxing cruise and less of a mitsugirly style cruise. 

 

People always respond to questions about getting better by saying "getting better by the day". Well, that doesn't hold true for me. My reply would be "getting better by the month" because that about sums it up for me. I have a major milestone about once a month. My milestone for the month was my foot swelling went down tremendously...the first day of the cruise! I couldn't believe it wasn't swollen like it normally was...all.day.long!  It swelled, just not a lot and usually only after A LOT of walking or activity or by the end of the day. Before it was all day. Propping my foot up, whether it be while sitting or above heart level, does nothing for me...not for the pain, not for the swelling. As a matter of fact, it makes things worse for the pain and my entire leg up to my buttocks will be numb within 10 minutes of propping it up. The ONLY thing that works for me with pain and swelling...I have to be laying flat....ahhhhh However, I can't say that my ankle or leg has reduced in the swelling category. Maybe that's my next monthly milestone.

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Because it's hard to keep a girl like me down, I just had to get up and find something to do. I told the hubby I wanted to.....are you ready????? Go buy some Cruise Next certificates. #gasp  On the Breakaway 4 months ago, I refused to buy anymore. But, this time I owed Courtney a certificate since she transferred hers to me AND I knew I would want to get one for my kids and I know there's several new ships out I haven't sailed yet. So....off we went.

 

We arrived at the CruiseNext counter and told the consultant we wanted to buy some certificates. He said he would explain to me how the program worked. I already know how it works...I've been on enough NCL cruises and bought enough of these in the past. BUT...he told me something I didn't know...you can now use 2!!! TWO!!! certificates to book any balcony room from here on out and sometimes an interior as well during specials. Hmmm....well that puts an entirely new spin on things! I'll take 8!  GASP went the husband. Yep....8! I'm sure I'll use mine within 4 years so no worries and it saves money on the room.

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Then off to the show we went. Now they do have a handicap seating area at the top. It is roped off and states it's for handicapped. We were able to get a seat but I would watch people coming in late to the show, looking for a place to sit, and hear them say "let's just sit here...it'll be ok". Grrr

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During the show, I was almost certain that I had seen this comedian (or at least this show) in the past. It starts off a little bland with him acting like he was going to do something amazing, but it doesn't turn out...only to find out he did do something and it left you scratching your head. There was audience participation and the normal "can I borrow $100 from someone", which seems to be a "normal" thing for these comedians to do. But, it was a good show and Sakari enjoyed it as well. Don't forget all the plugs they do during the show "I have my greatest tricks on a CD for the low price of.....".

 

I was pretty tired by the time the show was over and we all just decided to head back to the room to shower, relax, and watch a little t.v.  At some point I would pack our bags for our next adventure in Costa Maya the next day.