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Grand Cayman

December 31st, 2010 1 comment

Our second port-of-call was in Grand Cayman.  Matt found this guy, John, (via the Internet) who has his own boat and could take the 6 of us out for the day.  IT WAS FABULOUS!  Captain John took great care of us and helped us make Grand Cayman memorable.  He picked us up near the port and then drove us to his boat.  It was great to see part of the island and have our own private tour guide.

The ocean was so calm, it was as though we were cruising on glass.  SO BEAUTIFUL!.  Our first stop:  Stingray City

Stingray City

Stingrays swimming around our feet

Captain John brought squid for the stingrays and anchored us on a sandbar.  People who booked through the cruise line were jammed packed together, but we had plenty of room (away from those people) to enjoy the stingrays.  Once the stingrays got the scent of the squid, they came a looking.  And it was a little scary…after all one of these animals did kill Steve Irwin.

Just a little scared!

But, they really are just like puppy dogs.  They are so soft and gentle and are just looking for food.  Once the food was gone, so were the stingrays.

Getting some "love" from the stingrays

Second stop: snorkeling in a coral reef.  Our uncle had a great underwater digital camera and video camera

Underwater Beauty

Lunch on the beach at Rum Point

After lunch we walked down the beach to meet up with Captain John.  We saw the changes that an island has after a hurricane.  The sandy beach is doubled in size and turtle grass is now covered with sand for a good 30 yards in the sea.  John also had some surprises for us.  GIANT Starfish.

Beautiful BIG Starfish

Underside of one of the starfish

Tubing in a beautiful place

Then we finished the day by tubing off the back of the boat.  It was so much fun to see all of us acting like teenagers again!  Thank you Captain John for a wonderful day.  It was probably the best excursion ever!

6 of us enjoying Grand Cayman

More of our Grand Cayman photos here.  Or watch our 2010 Caribbean Cruise video for video footage and photos

Boy’s Cruise — Just another episode of the Matt and Ryan show

October 10th, 2009 1 comment

My best friend Ryan Sawyer graduated from law school this year and I knew I wanted to do something really nice for him (and me).  Thus, several factors led to the epic vacation that was our “Boy’s Cruise”:

  • I had extra vacation to use up thanks to our assignment in the U.K.
  • In January, Tia left me for a “girl’s cruise” with my mother and two sisters.
  • Mason was only a few months old and still nursing.
  • Ryan and I share a fascination with marine wildlife.
  • Ryan was graduating from law school.
  • Cheap cruises are available out of Houston.

Ryan flew into Houston (first class, thanks to my frequent flyer miles) on Saturday, September 5th.  On the morning of Sunday the 6th, Ryan participated in Mason’s baby blessing at church (along with Chris Larsen and McKay Hansen).  That afternoon we were in line to board the Carnival Conquest on our way to Jamaica, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel.

Below are some of the highlights of our 7-nights on the Caribbean seas:

Jamaica:

  • Dolphin Cove – Here we played, touched, rode, kissed, and swam with a dolphin!  They also offered the same experience with nurse sharks and stingrays!
  • Dunn River Falls – We hiked through uphill rapids on a beautiful river which empties into a white sand beach on the coast of Jamaica.

Grand Cayman:

  • Sea Turtle Farm – After an up close and educational tour of the facility’s breeding lagoons we were able to snorkel in the park’s artificial reef which contained many fish and turtles.  There was also a “predator” section containing sharks and barracuda who were partitioned from the snorkelers by a thick wall of glass.
  • Jet Ski’s to Stingray City – After a nice lunch at the Hard Rock, we rode jet ski’s out to Stingray City.  With a private guide, the three of us each had our own jet ski which we rode to a sandbar where stingrays have been gathering for decades.  They were very friendly and our guide helped us to hold and pet them.  He then took us snorkeling and located a large moray eel for us to see.

Cozumel:

  • Scuba Diving – As non-certified divers we had to take a 30 minute crash course and stick by our instructor the whole time.  The water was very warm and crystal clear. 
  • Jungle ATVs – A private tour by a self-proclaimed Mayan, we rode ATVs through the Mexican jungle.  We were covered with mud at the end of the tour, it was a blast.
  • Snorkeling – With yet another personal guide who showed us an octopus and large scary fish with big teeth.

We had just as much fun on the Boat:

  • Food – Giant buffets, 24 hr pizzerias, ice cream machines, fancy dining.  We probably averaged 6-7 meals a day.
  • Entertainment – Comedians, magicians, Broadway-type productions, game shows, etc.
  • Activities – Basketball, mini-golf, swimming, gym, spa, sauna, etc.
  • Massages – Yes, we did a couple’s massage, and it was worth every penny.
  • Dance Club – We spent several late, late, late nights on the dance floor.  Ryan’s abilities were unmatched and drew much attention.
  • Karaoke – Ryan dominated the karaoke scene and I did a classic rendition of Ice Ice Baby.
  • Sir Elton John – Winning a karaoke contest, Ryan was invited to perform in the final show of the cruise in a packed theater of fellow passengers.  They dressed him up in a white suit and had him memorize and perform Crocodile Rock, by Elton John.

The vacation was a blast from the moment we stepped on the boat and it stayed that way for 7 days straight.  I’ve never experienced anything like it.  The best part was being with Ryan again — and the hardest part was being away from my family.