2010 Summer Vacation-Western Caribbean Cruise/Wizarding World of Harry Potter

We had such an exciting summer this year and it began with some friends visiting from outside the country and others from here in United States. But that was just the beginning because my first Pride and Joy, King Faisal graduated High School and was going off to College in Fall; therefore we wanted to have the best fun ever! But hey! come to think of it, my kids and I always have fun together, we are thrill seekers, excitement chasers and dare devils of fun. We visit theme parks just to get on the highest rides, but most importantly we enjoy being together and we were about to do it again on a 7-Day Western Caribbean Cruise out of Miami on the beautiful Carnival Valor. Our Ports of call: Grand Cayman Island, Roatan, Belize and Cozumel in Mexico.

  

We drove to Fort Lauderdale and stayed in Susan’s Condo (My Friend and Mentor). We chose to drive because it gave us the flexibility to carry all our things without paying any excess and when we shopped at the outlet Malls, there was always enough space, or is there? Hahahahaha! Sometimes you have to put a serious budget on these kids! Anyway, our stay for two nights at the Condo was great, we went to Sawgrass Mill Mall and did the kids back to school shopping; everyone was happy myself included because I got a couple of nice stuff from my favorite stores Tommy Bahama, Michael Kors and Tommy Hilfiger all at unbelievable prices. I love shopping in Outlet Malls especially the ones in Florida, the prices are excellent, you never catch me shopping in a regular Mall!!

   

July 18, 2010, we were up bright and early and our shuttle driver Mr. Harris Manning picked us up and drove us to the Miami Port. Mr. Manning is also the shuttle driver we use for our Clients going out of Miami or Fort Lauderdale on a Cruise. Such a sweet and kind man. The drive to Port of Miami was just about 40 minutes and with such beautiful scenery, everyone was relaxed and enjoying the views from the Van’s big, wide windows. It was here that we met up with my good friend Vicky, who was also going on the Cruise with us. Vicky is a wonderful lady, very thoughtful and kind and I am blessed to have her as a friend. This Cruise was also a Graduation gift for my son!

  

We arrived and checked in, headed to the Lido deck for lunch which was absolutely delicious and then to see our Staterooms. Carnival did a marvelous job in Faisal’s stateroom, they had it decorated with College Bon Voyage decor and some little gifts for him, it was really nice and he was surprised and loved it! The kids went off to do their own thing and Vicky and I hung out together. We walked and explored the ship and talked about stuff, Travel stuff of course! She is also a Travel Agent. Most evenings after dinner, we would go dancing, you should see Vicky on the dance floor, that lady got some mean moves!! She is going to kill me when she reads this, yeah she is!

  

  

  

We had a nice Sea day and on the following day we were in Grand Cayman Island. Set in the waters of the Western Caribbean, Cayman is only 480 miles south of Miami, the weather that day was perfect, the sun was not high, such a beautiful Island. Grand Cayman is the most developed of the three islands; its Seven Mile Beach area is where you’ll find the majority of hotels and condominiums and after our tour of the Island and visiting the town of Hell, we also enjoyed a nice swim at the beautiful Seven Mile Beach. The kids had fun playing with sand while my two younger ones were in the water with me finding treasures underground; and we did find some beautiful rocks, stones and shells for the house. Oh wait, did I mention that I also nearly stepped on a sting ray? ouch!  Yes that can easily happen in the waters of the Cayman which is home to a lot of them. There is even a Sting ray farm, which we did not visit because the kids were not interested, I simply said they were chicken!! But we did visit the Turtle Farm and my oh my! They are such lovely creatures with beautiful well decorated shells and some of them weigh more than 600 pounds. There definitely is a God! Grand Cayman offers a large and varied choice of dining opportunities with cuisine from all over the world, including traditional Caymanian fare, Oriental, Thai, Italian, German, American and West Indian. It is also a perfect paradise for divers, how do I know so much on the Island? I am a Cayman Island specialist and a Cayman Island Master Specialist, Dive & Nature. Well the perfect day at the beach ended with us running off to catch a cab because it later started raining, but we had a fun filled day anyway! I love Cayman Islands!

  

  

  

Roatan, is the largest of the Honduras Bay Islands and it was our next Port. The kids were not interested in going off the ship that day, but I mentioned that, this was not only a pleasure trip but an educational one therefore “teacher has spoken, let’s go” I matched them off the ship and we headed out for our tour and a visit to the exotic animals that I wanted them to see in Roatan especially my daughter, I had a surprise for her there! The kids thanked me later anyway, because they enjoyed being there and especially seeing those animals up close and holding them. My daughter was so happy to see the monkeys, she has a stuffed animal of one of those monkeys at home and it was a thrill for her to get to hold them; in the end, let’s just say they all wanted to leave with one of the animals as pets! Ahah!! You definitely know my answer to that one, NO WAY! I am not keeping monkeys or some animal that I do not wish to remember the name, in my house; although as for Parrots, we had one when I was growing up and we were living in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia at the time. But anyway, despite the fact that we had fun and monkeyed around, I said no to all! Stop right there… I was not being  a mean Mom, but with a kid going off to College, I needed funds for that not raising ….. you know….thank you very much! You will not believe it but my son called a week after going to college to tell me that he would be needing the pictures of him with all those animals for his Biology project, you should hear his excitement, the same kid that was telling me, “Mom we just want to stay on the ship, we do not care to see Roatan” If you are laughing, so am I! Kids!!!

  

  

  

  

Belize has a great many attributes that distinguish it most favorably from many Caribbean islands. Despite the exotic landscape, Belize still has an air of comfortable familiarity for visitors. Belize is the north easternmost country in Central America, bordered by the Caribbean Sea to the east, Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula to the north and Guatemala to the west and south. The Caribbean coast features more than 400 cayes  that comprise the 185-mile-long Belize Barrier Reef, the longest in the Western Hemisphere and the second longest in the world. Unfortunately, this was one place there was no lesson, because when we arrived, the weather was horrible because of the storm and heavy rain. We waited it out on the ship and when it got better Jennyfer and I left the kids on the ship and went down to pick up souvenirs. We went to the Flea market and picked up some great stuff, took some pictures and headed back to the ship.

  

Cozumel, Mexico’s largest island is covered with lush jungle vegetation and surrounded by rocky coastlines, white-sand beaches, lagoons and mangroves. The waters encircling the island have an impressive group of coral reefs that are part of the Great Mayan Reef, the second largest reef system in the world. There is also the rich Mayan culture and the Mayan temples which we greatly enjoyed visiting with the kids. It was an educational historical tour that  ended well with some shopping back at the island’s only town San Miguel de Cozumel, which has a relaxed Caribbean atmosphere. I really like Cozumel and the kids did too!

  

  

It was a beautiful Cruise and we all enjoyed it, the staff on the ship were wonderful, the food was great as is with Carnival Ships and our waiters were simply the best!

Our next adventure was Universal Orlando! We drove from Fort Lauderdale to Orlando where we checked into Disney’s Port Orleans Resort, Riverside. We love Disney so even though we were visiting Universal Orlando, we chose the comfort of a Disney Resort, our home away from home, always! We have stayed in this Resort before in 1999, it was then called Disney’s Dixie Landings Resort and we loved it, so for our five days here, it was perfect. We went to Down Town Disney for dinner, some fun, action and a movie. We watched Disney’s The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. One of my favorite places to hang out at night is Down Town Disney, I guess you have to experience it’s magic to see and understand what I mean!

Anyway, the next day we went to Universal Orlando, Islands of Adventure, got in line for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. As a Travel professional, I recommended and sold Universal packages, especially since Harry Potter debut, therefore it was time for me to experience and live the adventure! The line was insanely long but like they say at the end of every rainbow is a pot of gold; it sure was! It was like stepping into the book or movie and the ride, was simply awesome! The train, the building, everything was just perfectly recreated and well done. We had lunch at the three broomsticks like Harry and his friends and enjoyed one of the most delicious drinks ever – Butter beer! It is of course non alcoholic despite the name. I had two glasses, bought three more and filled my water bottle with it to take back to the Resort. It was that good so you can go on laughing at me, which I don’t mind, hahahahah! We bought alot of souvenirs, caps, sweats, pins and of course we each got ourselves some wands, let’s just say the wand that chose me belongs to Voldermont! WOW! Creepy, very creepy.  But on the other hand, if I don’t like you, I could simply zap you into yesterday or preferrably a toad! Hahahahaha!

The next day our adventure continued with the Blue Man Group Show in Universal Orlando Studios. You see, I had the pleasure of watching their show in Vancouver, BC  at Cruise3sixty courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Lines, as part of the entertainment on their new ship NCL EPIC and therefore wanted the kids to experience it too. It was mesmerizing, much more than it was in Vancouver, I guess since Universal Orlando is their home it had to be better. Both Wizarding World of Harry Potter and the Blue Man Group were worth the visit and if you are ever in Orlando, make a date with those two, you will not be disappointed!

  

  

We left Orlando for Jacksonville, spent a couple of days with family there and drove to Georgia for another few days before heading home. In the end everyone was looking forward to getting back home and sleeping in their own beds. Though there is something I always say, every good thing has to to come to an end, but it needs to end so we can look forward to the next great adventure!

As always thank you for taking the time to read my Blog, please drop a comment or if you have any questions or wish to experience any of the destinations or activities mentioned, call, email or visit our website. For more pictures you can also visit our Facebook page from our website and watch the videos onYoutube.

My sincere appreciation and thanks to Susan Patrice, Victoria A. Smith, Disney, Carnival Cruise Lines and Mr. Manning, but most of all, special thanks and all my love to my wonderful children, life is always a darling adventure with you all and I will not have it anyother way!

   

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BSY