Bruce and Tonya Skinner

Our Mexican Cruise 2005


For our 10 year anniversary this year, Bruce and I decided to go on a Carnival cruise to Mexico. We had a great time! I decided to write about our excursion to share with our friends and family, so here goes!

We were supposed to board the ship on Saturday, June 11, in Mobile, Alabama. On Friday morning, we took off for the long trip down I-55 through Mississippi. A few hours from Mobile, my cell phone rang and it was Josh Zimmerman, our travel agent from Elite Travel, telling me that our ship will not set sail on Saturday. Tropical storm Arlene, the first tropical storm of the season, was pounding down on the Gulf and Mobile closed the port. So, I quickly called our hotel in Mobile to cancel and move our reservation to Hattiesburg, a little farther north. Well, we could not get in at Hattiesburg due to the storm, so they put us in Laurel, Mississippi, a pretty small town with not much to do. We were stuck there Friday evening through Sunday morning, when we finally got to head to Mobile to get on the ship. Honestly, there wasn’t much to do (other than spend some time together, of course). We did locate the public library so we could check our email and keep track of the storm, and we went to see the new Adam Sandler movie, The Longest Yard, which was pretty good. But, after a few days of eating Shoney’s and hitting every nook and cranny of Laurel, we were glad to get on the road to Mobile.


We arrived in Mobile around 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, June 12. We tried to go ahead and check in for the cruise, but the parking police told us to come back after 2, so we drove in circles for awhile and then decided to go to tour the USS Alabama, a battleship, and the military park. That was a pretty neat detour. We toured the ship and saw all kinds of neat things (including the “brig” for the bad eggs), toured a submarine, and saw lots of airplanes and tanks. We finally returned to the cruise terminal and then proceeded to stand in line….


Tonya "driving" the USS Alabama Bruce checking out the periscope on the sub


The line moved pretty quickly (less than an hour). Of course, after we checked our luggage, I realized that I forget to fill out our luggage tag! Well, I did put our last name on there, but nothing else.. including our cabin number. So, I was cranky for a little bit. But, we boarded the ship and started walking around to learn where everything was anyway.

Gazing out on the ocean!

Our ship, the Carnival Holiday

We checked out our cabin, which was bigger than I expected it would be. The bathroom was smaller than I expected, so it balanced out. We actually had quite a few television channels, and they ran movies on three channels all day (new movies each day) so I was glad to see some movies I hadn’t seen yet on the lineup. Our steward, Svetlana, quickly introduced herself. She was quite friendly. Each day, she came to the cabin twice—to make up the bed in the morning and make cute towel animals in our room…and again in the evening to turn down the bed, get us more ice, leave more towel animals!


Tonya posing by one of the towel animals Svetlana made Getting ready for the lifeboat drill


We decided that we probably should reserve our shore excursion for Cozumel. Originally, we were supposed to visit Costa Maya first, but with the tropical storm, the cruise got shortened and that destination was cancelled. We agreed on the Eco-Jeep and Snorkel tour, put our reservation sheet in the box, and headed back to the room.


We went to the dining room to have dinner the first night. They did not put us at our assigned tables for this meal, but we did sit at a table for 8, and they always make sure they give you partners for meals so you get to know other people. It was a little awkward at first, but I got used to it.


The captain called us all out for the Life Boat Drill. We had to put our life vests on and meet at the rendezvous point for our group, the Americana Lounge. It was a relatively painless drill, but those life vests sure got hot!


After running around the ship some more, we eventually went to the Tahiti Lounge, which is where the karaoke is done. Bruce tried to get me to sing, but I chickened out. There weren’t many people in there when we were there, but that would all change the following night—it was packed in there later!

Eventually, we called it a night.


Monday, June 12

I didn’t sleep much the first night. The waters were a bit rough and rocky. Bruce seemed to sleep fine, but the boat rocking back and forth was very noticeable to me. I didn’t feel seasick, but I didn’t want to take too many chances, so I took some Bonine to hopefully counteract my disorientation.


Today was our first full day at sea, so we had to entertain ourselves again. Our first thing today was going to the Travel and Adventure Talk with Stuart, our cruise director. He basically talked about the various things to do in Cozumel. Of course, we had already picked out our tour, but it was neat to hear about it.


Stuart, our Australian cruise director, strikes a pose with Tonya


After that, I decided to have my hair done. This night was formal night and I knew we’d have lots of photos taken, so I decided to have a bronze color put on my hair and got some highlights. It was a little louder than I expected, but I liked it. A gal from Australia named Erin did it, and she was really neat to talk to.


We watched Meet the Fockers together in the cabin after I returned. I got motivated and wanted a massage, so I called down and got a deep tissue massage before dinner. Then, we started getting ready for dinner (all dolled up) and hit the photography stations.


Formal Night


We finally met our assigned dinnermates, Ruben and Nakada, a black couple from Mississippi. They were cool. Ruben was really into basketball and we had some interesting conversations about that (don't get him talking about Shaquille O'Neal..please!). Nakada was an elementary special education teacher, and she and I had lots of teacher talk. She could not believe how my school was so “safe” and “easy” compared to hers. Sometimes, I forget that Oran is such a good school, discipline-wise. We had an awesome waiter for the cruise, Joselito, who was very neat. He was from the Philippines.


Enjoying dinner on formal night Joselito..always trying to please!


That night, we got to see a Las Vegas style show, Fuego del Caribe, which was really good. The majority of the songs were Gloria Estefan songs, so I knew most of them, and the dancers and singers were good. After the show, we checked our email and then came back at midnight for the adult comedy show with John Floyd. He was pretty good, and I was tired by the time we got back to the cabin. I was finally starting to get used to the boat rocking. It wasn't too bad.. not enough to make me sick (and I get carsick, so that's saying lots).


Tuesday, June 14


We arrived in Cozumel this morning, so we got up, had breakfast, and then got off the ship and hit the shops at the Puerta Maya Pier in Cozumel. We only had 45 minutes or so to shop before we had to catch the Eco Jeep tour group, but I did get a chance to have a name ring carved by a nice Mexican guy and bargained with a guy to buy a backpack to carry my purse and beachwear in. It’s funny how you have to practically work to buy anything. They’ll tell you it’s $30 and you have to argue to get them down to $10, what the stuff is worth. It’s a little nuts.


Just arrived in Cozumel A Mariachi band, of course!
Tonya watches as he carves her ring


We got in line for our tour and met our tour guides. They were hilarious. Lorenzo and some other guy just kept us laughing the whole time. Bundles of energy. We got our Jeeps and got into a group with Lee and Maria, a young couple from Memphis. Maria was originally from Bolivia, I think, and she spoke Spanish fluently. She was fun to watch. She could really get what she wanted at a steal of a price! Anyway, we got in the Jeep and went out on the road.. and off. It was one crazy ride. They took us down the coast to Punta Sur, the south point of the island. We hopped in a double decker bus and drove past untouched beaches, saw crocodiles, climbed up a lighthouse, and saw some Mayan ruins. It was quite neat. Then, they took us to a beach to snorkel. I did try it, but it wasn’t really my cup of tea since you had to swim out to the reef instead of just “being there already” like some tours, but Bruce did head out there and I stayed back and talked to some folks from Wisconsin and played in the ocean. I certainly got some sun! We finally headed back and only had about a half hour until it was time to head back to the ship, but we did some marathon shopping for souvenirs.


Punta Sur Yeah, crocodiles!! Yikes!
Bruce by the crashing waves in Cozumel Tonya and Lorenzo being one big happy family on the Jeep tour
The lighthouse at Punta Sur Mayan ruins
Bruce snorkeling He saw a reef, lots of fish and a stingray!


It had been a long, fun day. When we got back, we went to the photo gallery and looked at our millions of photos from the night before. There were some pretty good ones, so we bought a few.


One of the many picture walls.. we're on this one three times.. see the circles? Finding yourself was like playing "Where's Waldo!"


We did go to the dining room at our assigned seating time—8:00. I was tired, though. There was a guest talent show that night, but we were both pretty tired, so we turned in early. The ship took off around 6:30, and this time the ocean seemed a little more calm. I slept like a baby…sunburn and all!


Wednesday, June 15


We slept in today, and that was nice.


First, though, went down for the debarkation talk with Stuart, who talked about getting back in through customs and how to get off the ship and everything. We decided that instead of checking our luggage, we would self assist (carry our own) because it seemed that would save hours. Otherwise, you have to put your luggage out by 10 p.m. and we had plans on the ship that night anyway.


After lunch, I attended a “Learn How to Make a Towel Animal” workshop, which was lots of fun. I made a swan, bunny rabbit, and a few other animals.  Then, I stayed in the room for the Country Line Dance Class. Two of the Holiday dancers came down and taught us the Boot Scoot, which I think I once knew, but I sure didn’t remember. That was lots of fun.


Yes, Tonya made that swan from a towel! The Americana Lounge, where the shows were


Later that afternoon, we met up for afternoon drinks (gosh, those virgin Strawberry Daiquiris were yum!) and to watch the Newlywed, Not so Newlywed Show. We didn’t get picked to play (which I think Bruce was pretty happy about) but it was fun to watch. Then, they had an afternoon matinee show, and I thought it was pretty good… a foot juggler named Jean Claude! Yeah, Bruce thought it was corny, but I thought it was pretty neat! Then, a comedian came out for awhile, and he was on again later that night. He was pretty funny.. Mike Panzeca.


Jean Claude, foot juggler...well, Tonya thought it was neat...


We just hung out for the afternoon, eating, going out and watching the ocean, and all that good stuff. We had dinner in the dining room again, and it was our last night with Joselito, our awesome waiter. They did a Congo line at dinner, which was a little odd. But, he was all smiles as always. Bruce ordered two entrees.. the luxury of cruise dining.. now we were finally in the know. FYI--when you go on a cruise, order as much food as you want. They'll bring it and with way better service than any restaurant in the U.S.


Last evening on the ship...smooth waters! Tonya and Joselito


After dinner, they had another show called Shout. It was a cool Las Vegas style show that starred the same vocalists as the show a few nights ago (Trish Ulyatt and Barry Jobe) but this one was better. It was lots of songs from different decades, so there was some neat dancing—fifties dancing, country dancing, lots of cool stuff. After the show, we stayed around for the encore performance by Mike, the comedian. Then, we headed back to the cabin to pack.


Thursday, June 16


This morning, we awoke early and got breakfast prior to debarking the ship. The ship pulled into Mobile really early, probably around 6:30. They called for the self-assist people, but we were in the second batch. Even so, we ended up going through customs by 9, and we were back to the van before 9:30. We headed from there to Biloxi in Mississippi and played in the Gulf for awhile.. rented jet skis and saw dolphins. It was pretty fun. Then, we started our trek home.


Biloxi beach Resting after a jet ski adventure with dolphins


So, we both really enjoyed Cozumel and talked about how we’d like to go back sometime when we could stay longer. We didn’t get a chance to go into town to see the shops or eat real Mexican food, and that would have been pretty neat. It was certainly a neat way to spend our 10 year anniversary!


Written by: Tonya Skinner


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