Part 2…Harrowing experience…

Mahogany Bay,  Roatan, Honduras, an area developed by the cruise lines whereby passengers can spend money going on excursions.

Yesterday morning we ventured to the Internet cafe to use their computers to go online, find our receipts at the websites where we purchased the various supplements to begin the process of printing them.

We were determined not to use our thermal paper printer with our limited supply of paper. Each roll only prints twenty pages and our current stock had a remaining four rolls. Luckily, we’d ordered another six rolls which will arrive in our box of supplies in Miami on Saturday, hopefully lasting us through the next nineteen months until we get to Hawaii where we’ll be able to
receive mail.
No one was available until 4:00 pm to charge us the $1 a page for printing. Wanting to put this vitamin situation behind us, we succumbed, deciding to use our thermal printer rather than have this hanging over our heads all day.
Burning up Internet time at $.33 per minute based on the 480-minute package we’d purchase when we boarded, I managed to find all the receipts for vitamins and supplements that I’d purchased for our travels. 
Passengers leaving the ship to explore Roatan, Honduras.

Exhausted and frazzled from no sleep, my frustration level escalated as page after page of printed receipts spewed out of the tiny printer.  Satisfied we had exactly what the security officer requested, we marched to the customer service desk in hopes of putting
this matter behind us.

Approaching the customer service desk, we asked for an adjustment for the 20 minutes of Internet time we burned up printing up the receipts their security officer had requested.

Within minutes, the chief of security approached us at the desk, taking us aside. His suspicious demeanor was off-putting. I sensed my ire escalating once again as he justified how we were treated, blaming the entire scenario on US Customs regulations. Duh? 
“We’re just doing our job,” he rattled at us.
Rather than get into a lengthy tirade with yet another security person, I stated,  “Here are all the receipts as requested. They match every item in the bag. As you can see, this list of receipts is very lengthy.” I held up the five-foot-long single sheet of thermal paper.”
A shipwreck brought into the harbor to add to the ambiance of the excursions. It’s all part of the bigger plan for tourists to spend, spend, spend.

He looked at the paper, “Well, let’s go through this together,”

“No,” I stated firmly, “you go through this on your own. We arrived on this ship almost 24 hours ago and have yet to relax and enjoy ourselves. We’re not spending any more time on this. Take these receipts to your “people” and have them match them up to the vitamins in the
Doing so would be a time-consuming project with as many as 60 bottles in the bags,
many of which were duplicates.

He perused the receipts again, observing something I’d missed. For some unknown reason, some of the receipts didn’t print the total cost of vitamins at the bottom of this page. He brought
this to our attention, shaking his head as if we were “cooked.”

I snapped at him, ‘What we paid for these vitamins is irrelevant! The receipts show my name, address, the names of the items, and the dates purchased. That’s all you need!”
“How did you pay for these and why doesn’t that show?” he retorts.

“That also is irrelevant. But I’ll answer it. We paid with a credit card as one often does when purchasing items online. For security reasons, they don’t print the credit card number on the receipt.  Certainly, you understand that!”

He hemmed and hawed at a loss for his next comment. A wave of satisfaction washed over me.  We were getting somewhere.

“We will have theses receipts matched up to your medications and if approved, you’ll receive your bag later today,” he tentatively adds. “Check with the desk later today.”

Tom graciously thanked him.  There was no way I was about to say thank you. Around 4:00 pm, as we lounged on our balcony, a call came into from the customer service desk. They had approved a $15 credit on our Internet account. Tom thought this was adequate. Me, not so
much. We decided to let that go with no fight left in us. 

“Do you have our bag of vitamins ready for us to pick up?” I asked.
She called back five minutes later, “They will be delivered to your cabin shortly.”
Within a few minutes, another security officer appeared at our door, asking to speak
to me. He was pressing to come inside our cabin.  There was no way I was letting him inside.  With nothing to hide, I still felt a gross sense of invasion of our privacy. I stepped outside.
He handed me a pen and a form to sign, acknowledging our receipt of the bag. “Do you want to go through the bag and verify they are all here?”
Passengers returning to the ship after the excursions.

“I have no interest in doing that. They are just vitamins. If someone took a bottle, good for them.  We just want to be done with this.”  I signed the form after carefully reading each word. 
He left without comment.

What did we learn from this?  Have a receipt for anything in a pill form?  Yes!  Don’t travel with supplements? Not necessarily. Or perhaps, disperse the vitamins throughout our bags rather than
carry all of them in a single bag?  Yep, will do prior to getting off of this ship on April 20th!
Tom tried another new dish, Seafood Newburg.  The first time he ever tried mussels. He raved about this meal.  He never ceases to amaze me.  When I’d cook a meal like this in our “old life” he refused to taste it.  I’m proud of him for trying new foods!

Ah, we live and learn. Whoever said we knew how to travel the world for many years to come, carrying with us all the supplies we’ll need until we can receive mail. That won’t be until we reach Hawaii in November 2014, a long time away.

As for the Carnival Liberty so far?  Great service, friendly staff, clean, organized, no Norovirus so far, a combination of great and mediocre food, not gluten-free friendly, noisy, and not for us, in the future.
 Heather and Paul, a fun couple we dined with last night. Mary and Don also dined with us. They were so kind and gave us two sets of earplugs to use from 11:00 pm until 3:30 am when the loud disco music was thumping in our cabin.
What will we do today? After finally falling asleep when the thumping ended at 3:30 am, we finally drifted off awakening almost at 9:00 am, unusual for us. Arriving late to Emile’s breakfast buffet,
with no less than 50 passengers waiting in line at the grill, we decided against breakfast, instead to return at noon for lunch.
Another lovely couple we met at dinner.
Currently we’re in port at the Cayman Islands. Most of the excursions included lots of shopping which obviously is not an option for us. Finally relaxing, I worked out this morning to an empty health club. Tom sat on a machine waiting for me.
 This was my dinner last night. The Salmon was overcooked.  I don’t eat peas (a starchy vegetable).

We opted to stay on the ship for a leisurely lunch, quiet time at the pool, and finally beginning our exploration of the ship, our home for the next nine

Tonight is a dress-up night. We’ll partake. We had a blast at dinner last night with the same lovely couple we dined with the previous night along with another adorable young couple.
Piano bar aboard the ship.

Twice during dinner service a “Conga” line danced through the formal dining hall, whooping and hollering. Perhaps tonight feeling more rested, we’ll join in on the Carnival “party
mode” and “Conga” right along with them.

Final day…Goodbye Belize…Thank you for a wonderful experience…

The sky and the sea offered us a pleasing goodbye this morning. 

Last night, full and content after a homemade meal, we lounged in the cozy living room of our villa with our two friends, Bill from Minnesota and Rene, a citizen of Belize, the general manager here at Laru Beya

While drinking local Belikin beer (I had tea) lively conversation ensued. It was fun learning more about Belize and our guests rounding out the last of new friendships made while here. Hopefully, in the future, our paths will cross again.

We’re relieved to be packed as of this morning, except for a few toiletries, for the morning.

All of our documents are in order. This morning we took care of our bill at the front desk, which was $502.50 for the two months. This includes tours, dinners in the restaurant, cocktails, car rental, beer purchased a few times at happy hour for US $2 each, laundry charges, and tips. Our winter heating bill in Minnesota was almost as much for one month.  We didn’t flinch. 

The simple beauty of the clouds and the sky left us breathless every morning. Today was no exception.

With everything packed a wave of excitement washed over me. Finally! I’ve been waiting for that feeling. Why not be excited with two months of cruising ahead of us, including 13 nights in Dubai? Why not start my usual “jumping up and down,” leaving behind any doubt or negative expectations?

Last night before bed at 11:00, we froze two-liter bottles with iced tea and one with water. With little time for breakfast tomorrow, we’ll stick to a piece of cheese along with a single cup of coffee each, hoping to keep the potty breaks to a minimum during the four-hour drive.  Last time, we only stopped once. 

This final day is ours to enjoy lounging by the pool, taking a final walk along the beach, saying our goodbyes to the staff, dining on tasty leftovers from last night, and finally letting our heads hit the pillows by 10:00 PM with pleasant dreams of our upcoming travels.

Shortly after arriving on the ship, we plan to take photos of our cabin prior to filling it with our stuff and, again a day later, after unpacking while Tom does his “magic” hiding the suitcases in the tiny space.  For the 11 days of our first leg, we’ll unpack two bags each, leaving the remainder untouched to be shipped on the 13th. 

We never tired of the view, especially when the clouds rolled by in many mornings.

Once we have signed up for access to the ship’s Internet service, we’ll be back here with photos and the story of the hopefully seamless transition from Placencia Belize to boarding the Carnival Liberty by tender in Belize City. 

Will we come back to Belize someday?  Perhaps. But, we have a lot of world to see ahead of us. We’ll carry memories of  Belize with us in our hearts and minds forever.

Stay tuned…