MITSUGIRLYS JEWEL OF A CRUISE review and pictorial

Day 4: Jamaica

So here we are, Day 4 and it's time for Jamaica Mon. I set the wake up call for 6am. This is what I woke up to from our balcony.

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Off to the normal breakfast we went to battle with the others to fight for our right to eat. Once breakfast was done, we sat around waiting for them to clear customs. I have to say this ship is a little on the "S-L-O-W" side on everything they did (and not just serving food).

 

While we waited, the hubby and Sakari decided to play ping pong. This seems to be a ritual with them while waiting to get off the ship. Sakari happily wins ever match there will probably never be a day that daddy will able to hit her balls. wink wink.

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They finally said we were clear to start leaving the ship around 8:15. I look out toward the port and this is what you see...

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Um not very appealing right? It looks like some warehouse district with commercial buildings. Definitely not the look of paradise and a very ugly view. There is a poster HERE that had pictures of the port and it didn't look that bad. Much nicer than our view for sure. I almost thought we had docked in the wrong part of Jamaica.

 

We got off of the ship to a black topped fenced area and went into a building there. People would stop you in the building and ask what you were doing today and if you had a sponsored tour. If you didn't, they told you to go in one line, if you did, they told you to go in another area. We stood there and stood there and I was beginning to wonder if we were in a line that was for people that were just going to hang out in Jamaica. We had an excursion, it just wasn't with NCL. After waiting a good 20 minutes, I finally got out of line to confirm that we were in the correct line to begin with. All the other lines were moving and leaving and getting into buses outside the building. They would leave, more would fill up, they would leave...and here we are standing in a pointless line still.

 

Of course the minute that I got out of line to inquire about things, our line moved and I lost my place. When I jumped back in line with the hubby and daughter, who was letting people ahead of them waiting on me, they closed the rope off again and stopped the crowd. I was pretty frustrated with myself after this. We waited some more while others went ahead of us from the other lines.

 

Finally our line moved again and into a bus we all piled. We went around the buildings and in a gravel area for a short 2 minute drive if that. Here they would drop us off at the "other" port where the Carnival ship was docked. Um ok. The driver along the way would ask for "tips" for a service we were pretty much forced to take in order to get out of the port area we were in.

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Here you walk through another building that has little stores with things for sale.

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You exit out on the other side and into grassy area with the street in the middle and vans coming in and out of the fenced gate. When we ask about our tour, we were told to cross the street and wait over on the other side where the excursion people were standing.

Once we crossed the street area, we found our excursion person and we were told to wait some more in the grassy area.

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Of course while we are standing there, my husband and another guy strikes up a conversation only to find out that they are in the same line of business and then it was nothing but business talk the rest of the time. We waited for awhile before it was finally time for us to leave.

 

We were told to make sure that we are one of the first ones off the boat so that they could leave by 9:15am, but we actually ended up pulling away at 9:00am. I hope we didn't leave anyone.

 

We had about a 30 minute ride to our place of destination.

 

Along the way I was taking pictures of course (the best I could in a moving vehicle).

 

Would you get a load of the prices of gas over there? (and we complain about the gas prices here...pffff). Just kidding, everyone knows this is Jamaican $$

The airport located right by the water was beautiful. I caught a plane coming in.

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There were openings here and there along the way showing the beautiful Caribbean water.

There were all kinds of signs warning you about different things.

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Finally we arrived at our destination......drum roll please: Hilton Rose Hall Resort. Yes, it lived up to its "Hilton" name.

They had a golf course there, but who had time for golf? Not me.

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The furniture at the entrance up and down the sidewalk. Plenty of places to sit and relax while waiting on a cab.

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We had booked this excursion with "Resort for a day" (formally known as Jamaica for a day). We used them last year when we docked in Ocho Rios and went to Sunset Grande Resort and had a great day and loved it there. So, we decided to give it another try and use them again.

 

Our choices this time were either Hilton Rose Hall or Sunset (which is located right at the port). Hilton Rose Hall gets a lot of great reviews, however there are a lot of gripes about the pricing here. I can say it "significantly" went up just during the time from us considering it until the time we actually booked it. I was in communication with the person the entire time during our decision. After the price jumped up (anywhere between $114 pp to some reporting as high as $134 pp), we decided that we would go with Sunset. But I contact RFAD and was able to get a really good deal if we booked Hilton right away...and we did. It was actually my husbands decision and I told him there was a really big price difference and he decided to "splurge" on this one. Ok, fine with me.

 

As soon as you walk in, there were 2 desk to the left with people ready to check you in. I gave them our paperwork and we paid the balance. However, they proceeded to tell me that there was no charge for our daughter, which RFAD told us there was and we put a deposit down on her. Um, ok. We were definitely happy to put that money back in to our pockets and not complain about it. They put wrist bands on us indicating that we were guest for the day and off we went.

 

The hotel was all decorated with Christmas spirit.

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This was a huge place and very plush of course. But we were having a problem finding our way out of here. Every place we went out, it seem to be a dead end and sort of like a terrace.

 

We finally found some steps and decided to try them out.

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I was busy taking pictures while walking, like I always do, and I missed a step...oops. I caught myself before falling down these steps and my husband gave me that look again. He told me I didn't need to break anything this vacation....got it? ok good! (I fell and broke my hand on our Epic cruise while in St Maarten at Maho Beach in 2010...he will never let me live it down and forbids me to walk on concrete barriers now...who knew they could be so dangerous?)

 

Down this hall you would find a store and other places for the guests.

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This was a dining area that you could eat at up closer to the hotel and this is looking back toward the hotel and entrance outside.

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Some of the grounds along the way and places to play games at, like corn hole.

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Coming up to the water park area:

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We kept traveling along trying to decide which way to go and find a spot to put our things at for the day and call home.

 

Oh no, Sakari had spotted the beach and she was ready to go. But I had other plans and quickly directed her toward the pool area.

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Then Sakari noticed this....

It was along a walkway and the pool/lazy river was in front of us.

 

There were streams everywhere on the property in this area.

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The landscaping was out of this world and I loved every bit of it:

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I decided the first thing I wanted to do was float down the lazy river. My husband knew that this place had wifi and today was the 18th. You see the 18th was his "dead line" for his customers to get orders in, respond to pre-orders, and it had to be done by today in order for shipment to arrive by Christmas. He hadn't been in contact with his distributors since Sunday and he knew his email would be blown up. So, he decided to take the computer we brought with us and head back to the hotel and find the wifi spot to play catch up. Away he went and away Sakari and I went into the pool.

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There was various places to get out along the way.

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Still floating along the lazy river. There are different ways to go, which go around little islands.

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You could also get chairs right by the lazy river in different spots. They were pretty neat areas.

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When we returned to the pool area, I noticed my husband waving me down. He ask me for the credit card. Um, I don't bring credit cards to the ports with us. He needed it to place orders, then quickly remembered he had the numbers saved somewhere else and off he went.....AND I DO MEAN OFF...stay tuned why.

 

But first we would grab some drinks and Sakari likes to do "cheers" before we drink (I have no clue where she got this from, maybe a show she has seen???)

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While we were standing there, we found this basking in the sun:

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We stood around enjoying the weird palm trees and everything excited Sakari.

It looked like a ferret, but I have no idea if that's right or not. We got pretty close to it before it got a little too uncomfortable with our presence and scurried off.

 

Looking back at our view from our chairs.

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At this point, I thought maybe we would head down to the beach to check it out. I brought along the puddle jumper for Sakari and went through the same routine of talking her into putting it on for safety or we wasn't going in. She agreed because she really wanted to get in that water!

 

Then off she went.

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I have to say I wasn't "too" impressed with the beach itself. It didn't give me that "wow" factor and the water was not clear at all. It might have just been the day we were there. It was a little "wavy" in the water.

 

We did take our snorkeling equipment and I attempted to "look" around with no success. The water was just too stirred up in the area we were in.

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A tradition we have started when cruising during Christmas is to take the Santa hat and have Sakari take a picture by the beach with it on. This trip would be no exception.

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Back to swimming fun and Sakari found it fun to swirl around in the tubes. The dizzier the better.

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At this point, I wanted to walk around and take a look at more of the place. I knew I was missing a lot, but I had to talk Sakari in to getting out of the water. It wasn't pleasant. Where is daddy??? I need to "do my thing" and take pictures of this gorgeous place.

 

So I manage to coax her out of the water by telling her I needed to get a drink. Then we started walking around to find "new and exciting things" I told her. Different views around the place...which wasn't too interesting to Sakari when all she wanted to do was swim. I needed a break from the water, so we WALK!

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We turned around and found a little gem hole in the wall...complete with a waterfall. WATER=not having to convince Sakari to get in. She was in before I ever opened my mouth.

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I had to try it too. I have to say it wasn't much of a hot tub. It wasn't hot at all. Maybe because of the waterfall?

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More drinks and Sakari claims the cherry on top

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There were some people there with a set up for things to sell. I'm not sure if they just didn't notice us or what but they didn't ask us to come over or bother us.

 

They had tennis courts, basketball hoops, and a swing set back there.

  

There was a building back there that according to the signs, it was like a day care place for the children during certain times. I thought that was a nice touch for the families that might be staying there to have some "me" time. I did peak in and seen some children in there.

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The entrance into the spiral staircase that lead up to the water slide that we couldn't go on because they will not allow children under 6 on it (even with a parent) and I couldn't go because my husband was still MIA.

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Would you look at those water slides? I would REALLY like to try them out at this point...really. But...where is the hubby?

 

About now it started looking a little cloudy. It never did rain and the clouds went away, but just in case, my belly was telling me not to wait on the hubby to eat. It had been hours since we had seen him and I was getting hungry.

We walked back to a little grill shack that we had went to in order to get drinks off and on during the day and ordered some food.

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I ordered a drink while I was waiting for my food. I ordered the pulled chicken with fries and an order of fried conch balls

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Sakari had chicken fingers and fries. Of course I needed another drink to go...in order to cool me off because at this point I'm getting really hot and it's not the weather.

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I started walking around again taking more pictures to fill the day while my head was filling with thoughts from "what if he was kidnapped by the Jamaican mafia" to "does he really have this much work and sales" to....I don't know, but I was getting worried.

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Walking across the bridge, staring at the water slides, and trying to sort out a plan to find my husband.

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Just imagine the fun I could be having on them!

 

So I decide it's time to go on a hunt...a man hunt, and not just any man, my man that went MIA now 3 hours ago!

 

Snapping pictures along the way

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These little blue huts that you see in this picture are private huts that I assume people rent. I walked over to them and there were people under them with just a lounge chair and table. I didn't stick around long enough to see anything else because I didn't want to invade their privacy. I actually thought these were massage tents, which is why I walked over there.

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So I make it up to the hotel and look around everywhere outside in the dining area, the terrace, the bar...nothing. I go inside and look around the lobby and down the hall...nothing. At this point I'm worried as worried can be. I turned around and headed back to the desk where we checked in (which is not the reception desk) and ask them if any guy had come up and ask them where the wifi spot was. They ask me if I had checked the internet room, which was upstairs and down the hall.

 

I went in there and there he was. I couldn't believe I had actually found him. I was relieved that he wasn't captured and taken away....and then the truth sat in that he had been gone for over 3 hours and we only had about another 1 1/2 left there and then anger sat in. Let's just say I had my say, informed him how long he had been (just in case he had forgotten how to read the clock on his computer), how we had not got to do much or go down the water slides, that we only had another hour or so left before it was time to leave, and then lastly how he ruined my day. Whew, I felt better now. I need another drink. I stormed out.

 

By the time I made it back outside, he was pretty much catching up to me. He was magically done with his work all of a sudden. Imagine that. I mean I know it was an important day for his business, but we are on vacation and it couldn't be THAT important to spend that amount of time on...right?

 

Well now it was my time. I wanted to go on the big tube slide. You had to grab a tube and walk up the winding staircase to get to it (just like the last place we went to here in Jamaica at Sunset Grande). It was in a castle like type structure. I stopped to take a picture out of the window.

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Here's the video I shot of the 1 and only time I got to go down the tube water slide.

There is a guy that sits at the top to make sure you are "legal" to go down the slide and to let you know when to go down the slide.

 

Then we headed down the smaller water slide. We knew ahead of time, from my research, that this was several smaller slides that empty into several small pools before coming into the big pool at the bottom. There wasn't anyone watching this area and we (I mean I had witnessed) very young children going down it, parents with kids on their laps going down and even parents with infants going down it.

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I had planned on spending the DAY on the slides and having fun, but instead, I got to go once and once only. Thank you hubby!

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Daddy tried making up for the day by playing with Sakari while mommy continued to pout taking any chance to take a shot at his words any chance I got to remind him how upset I was with him. The bar in the water was open and it was time to get another drink!

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Yep there was a lot to chose from and I had tried a lot of them already. Of course this is not a complete list. I had many "Dirty bananas" that day. I can also tell you when they use the real bananas, the sweeter the drink was versus the banana syrup. I also tried the Bam-Bam and then Bam I was on my arse really quick. Man it was strong. They always made the drinks pretty strong, but this was almost unbearable for a light weight like me. The Hurricane was pretty good and so was the Miami Vice. But my favorite still remains the dirty banana anywhere I go.

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So as you know, we didn't have very much time left so things were wrapping up. Sakari had met a little friend she was swimming with and the friends older brother, I would assume, really wouldn't leave Sakari alone. He would pull at her, push her under, dump her out of the intertube she was in, take it from her and so on. She kept telling him to stop and looking at us with the "help me" look. Now if you are on this board and you notice this is your son....all I have to say is HE IS VERY MEAN. There, I said it. Now it's time to go and get away from this very disturbing day I had.

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We went and gathered our things back at the lounge chairs, they hubby "picked" at our left over food (yea this is what happens when you're not around all day to eat, you get left overs) and started heading to the hotel lobby. We were told that they would pick us up at 2pm. Our all aboard time was 3:30pm and we had to take into consideration the travel time of 30 minutes, rush hour traffic, getting to the port and getting into another bus to take us over to "our" port. So this was really a good time to leave in my opinion.

 

We returned our towels to the towel shack (yes, they provide you towels to use while you are there, so no need to haul your ship towels)

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We went out front and met up with others that were on the excursion from the Jewel with us. The bus pulled up around 2:05pm and we were on our way. Now mind you, I swear my husband is the one who has had 4 kids and his bladder has dropped, because he can't hold it for nothing. When he has to go, he has to go. He went to the restroom prior to leaving the hotel and had to go again soon after we left in the bus. We were half way there and all of a sudden in a traffic jam. This was not good. He ask the driver if there was a place to pull over. When the opportunity came, the driver stopped at a souvenir shop for him really quick while he ran inside. Yes, this driver was tipped well for this. Meanwhile, I held my head in shame from the other passengers. Even Sakari can hold it better than him.

 

Finally we made it back to the port and ready to get into a bus to be hauled back to our port.

 

I snapped a few pictures of the Carnival Sunshine in port (while in the van with the old cheesy tinted purple glass)

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We made it back to our port and Spongebob was there to great us back to the port. Spongbob makes everything all better. I completely forgot about my day......or not.

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I snapped a few pictures on the way back to the ship hoping to figure out which opening was our balcony.

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Here's a picture I took on the way back to the port while we were still in the van I meant to share:

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We made it back to the room and decided to make good use of our balcony...where we would decide to all hang out on the balcony in our undies. :eek: Yes, all of us. Yes, we were on the port side. Yes, there were some people standing on the roof painting the side of the building. Living life on the edge this cruise I tell you.

  

People were late coming back to the ship. The officers were standing in the overhang window with their hand crossed, then on their hips and if the glass went all the way to the floor, I can guarantee they were tapping their foot as well.

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There were buses coming back a few people here and there and NONE of them were witnessed running or seeming to be in too much of a hurry. Then a bus load of people would show up. You could see an employee (someone in a white uniform) standing on our side of the fence and another guy with a list on the other side of the fence. They seem to be waiting for others. Then a lady in a people mover showed up. They had to take her scooter out of the van and put it together, then get her into it. Once she made it to the landing to roll up to get on the ship, she got stuck. I mean STUCK! They were trying everything to get her unstuck and fit on the ramp. Then more people came. Then more. I finally gave up and said I was getting in the shower. It didn't seem like we were leaving any time soon.

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I was out of the shower and fresh only to find that we hadn't left yet still and people were still coming in on the buses.

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I loved the way the sun fell in certain areas while the clouds covered others in the distance.

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Finally they closed the gate and it was time to leave.

We watched one of the dock workers go over to a tree and pick some fruit to throw over to the other worker of the port area.                                                                                                      Off we go...a little late at everything we do just like I said.

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We watched several pelicans dive for fish while we were sailing away.

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Like every review, I ALWAYS forget something. This time, at Hilton Rose Hall, I forgot to add there was a "normal" pool there as well. We didn't swim in it, but it was the first thing that you would see when you came out of the hotel. It was also located right where I ended up ordering food and drinks.

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So finishing out the day now.

 

We went to go grab a bite to eat after the ship sailed away. I absolutely love their pasta station where they make it right there in front of you and you pick the type of noodles and sauce wanted. I always have to get this a few times during the cruise.

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We watched the sunset from our balcony after we got our belly full. We were waiting until 6pm because Dora was hosting a Dance Party in the Fyzz lounge and Sakari didn't want to miss it. Dora is such a good host to invite us.

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We arrived at Dora's party and Sakari met up with her cruising friends from our Star cruise and she had a blast.

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They did a lot of interactive kids songs like: The wheels on the bus, Old McDonald, BINGO and so on. They had moves for everyone of their songs and crowd went wild. (Remember, these are kids, they are REALLY wild). We had a lady sitting behind us that probably sang the songs louder than any of the kids put together. She was hilarious. I told her "Sing it girl!" She informed me that she use to teach preschool with kids from ages 3-5 and she knew them all.

 

Then after the dance party, the kids could stay and have a Nick craft party. We had no idea what this was, but Sakari wanted to stay. I knew we wanted to catch the 7:15pm show tonight because it was the ventriloquist and I love those shows. We knew this was going to be a hectic next few hours with Sakari. After this craft event, we would have to rush her to the kids club, then rush back to the Stardust to "try" to find a seat...which we knew most times if you didn't get there soon enough, you would be sitting on strangers laps.

 

The Nick members passed out tee shirts to all of the kids and a bundled up batch of markers to each child. They were told to color their tee shirt as fast as they can and they were going to have (what I heard) was a tee shirt parade at the end. What the hubby heard was a judging contest with prizes. :confused: Um, ok. I'll let you be the judge of who was right....

So Sakari colored away

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So the kids were done with their tee shirts and it was already 7pm. I knew there was no way that were would have time to take Sakari to the kids club AND make it to the show. I kept urging my husband to "Let's go" and he kept saying we were staying for the judging contest.

 

Well...here you go...this is what they did:

They all posed for a picture with their shirts. They posed smiling. They posed with funny faces. They paraded around. That was the end. Yep, I'm a winner just like always, but I didn't rub it in with the hubby of course. (Insert big smiley grinning I told ya so here).

 

So it was time for the show to begin and we grabbed Sakari and off to the Stardust we went. She was not happy about this and kept saying she didn't want to go to the show. She wanted to go to the kids club to see her friends. But, we didn't have a choice. I told her it was going to be a funny show with a puppet.

 

Of course, like everything else on the ship, the show started a little later than the scheduled time. Yes, this was a pattern during the entire cruise.

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The guy was Kenny Byrd. Here is the history of him according to his site:

Kenny Byrd and Friends create entertainment for audiences of all ages. His characters are so life-like, audiences forget that they are an extension of Kenny Byrd's energy. Performing for television, clubs, corporate events, colleges, resorts and charitable organizations.

Kenny Byrd uniquely creates from the moment. Audiences are drawn into an intimate family to share sidesplitting laughter. Refreshing involvement, followed by praise long after the stage is empty, has earned Kenny Byrd his reputation for being the catalyst for fun.

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So the show began and I'm a huge Jeff Dunham fan. I go to his shows every time he's in town and I just love him. Well, I'm sorry, but this guy doesn't hold a candle to Jeff and I have to say that I really didn't find "too" much of his material that great. Even the hubby didn't care for it. He does have a character that is an elderly man (kinda looks like Jeff's character Walter), but the rest of the characters just wasn't appealing TO ME. But, at the end of the show, he brought up a lady and a man from the audience and made it seem as if their voices had changed and it was hilarious to watch. So, I'm glad it picked up a little toward the end and we chalked it up to a decent show.

So after the show, Sakari was still complaining about wanting to head to the kids club. When we got there, the door was shut and locked. Um, ok that was strange. We knew they were having a Nick deck party, but the Nick team and the kids club are 2 different things that don't interact. But, we figured we would check it out just to see.

 

It was another "Slime" event where the kids participated in games and got slimed and a pie in the face. We watched from a distance.

 

Then we headed back to the kids club and the door was still locked. We noticed that "smaller" children were going to the 6-9 year old check in, so we decided to find out why. Well, that's where all the kids were that night. Now mind you, you have to pass that in order to go down the long hall to the other kids club. They could at least put a sign out there letting you know to check them in there instead on certain nights (yes, this would become a habit several nights of checking them into the older kids club).

 

After dropping her off, we headed to the Casino for "our" time.

 

Then at 10:30pm we picked the munchkin back up and headed to the room. Along the way they had a display of fruits out on the pool deck. I'm not sure what it was for. It was just a display and there wasn't anyone around or things to eat from there since it was roped off. Maybe there was going to be more to it later in the evening and we were just early.

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Tonight our towel animal was a dog? He had my sunglasses on this time and thought he was just as cool as they come. Sakari got a kick out of it.

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Trixie must be scared of dogs and we found her hanging by the smoke detector tonight above the dog. Someone needs to tell her this is not lady like. We could see up her skirt.

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Tonight's VIP plate was strawberry covered in chocolate. Sakari loved her little snack and ate them up.

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We sat out on the balcony and enjoyed the moonlight. It was real cloudy that night and it gave off a really eery feeling. However, the stars were EXTREMELY bright tonight and a few of them really sparkling. I tried and tried to capture some of them, but this is where I need my DSLR with the 100-300 lens. Oh well. You can see one of them to the left of the moon in this one.

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We sat the wake up call for 6am for tomorrow. We knew that our day in Grand Cayman was (fingers crossed) going to be an exciting day. We were in bed by 11pm....lights out.