Sunday, December 18, 2011

#29: Cruising aboard the Celebrity Solstice.

Have you ever gone on a cruise? If not, then you really should go on one. And if you already have, well, then you should go again. Why? Because cruises are awesome!!! This week, Diane and I enjoyed a week-long Caribbean cruise aboard the Celebrity Solstice (average temperature of 77 degrees). A few minutes ago, we just got home to Utah (average temperature of 27).
77 degrees > 27 degrees.
We went on the cruise with some of my fantastic coworkers (I love my job!), and it was one of the best experiences of my life. I thought it would be fun to share some of the highlights.

We first got on the ship on Sunday, December 11th (never call a cruise ship a "boat" because, as one of my friends discovered, you will offend the crew). The Celebrity Solstice had just been to Europe where 118 people came down with a nasty virus on the ship. As a result, the crew spent a few extra hours deep-cleaning the ship before we could board. Since I'm a bit of a germaphobe, I didn't really mind. Although, as a precaution, hand sanitizer was still required before entering any dining areas.

Diane and Summer keeping the ship free from both
disease and generic-brand hand sanitizer.

Once we got on the ship, it was absolutely beautiful. We had a room with our very own balcony. We loved to just sit back on the balcony and watch the waves.

Yup, that's a fly on my leg. I named him Juan Carlos.
One thing that I absolutely loved about the cruise was the food. And the food. And the food. Oh, and the food. You could eat whatever you want, whenever you want, wherever you want (and probably however you want, although I never really tested that). I loved to order room service straight from the TV (I gotta figure out a way to get something similar installed at

Diane, enjoying a healthy salad.
Steve, enjoying chocolate ice cream, pizza, and sour patch kids.

Every night we ate dinner in the "Grand Epernay" dining room. I always made sure to get two desserts. On the first night, I ordered some milk with my dessert. From then on, every night our waiter, Buyung Andres, would bring me a glass of milk without me even needing to ask him. I am pretty sure I gained 15 pounds straight to my chin(s).

Formal night (Suit? White shirt and tie? Piece of cake for a Mormon boy!)
Another shot of my chubby chin.
Me and Buyung with some tasty whole milk.

One thing Diane and I vowed to do on the cruise was to take advantage of the ship's port "excursions". We went on excursions at Grand Cayman Island, at Cozumel, Mexico, and at Roatan, Honduras. The excursions were a little expensive, but absolutely worth it. At Grand Cayman, we went to a place called "Dolphin Cove" to hang out with some dolphins (coincidental, I know). We danced with them, kissed them (even though mine was a male), and just hung out with them in the water. After the fun time we had, I decided that I now want a dolphin as a 2nd pet (although I'll need to convince Diesel to share his crate).

Gettin' jiggy wid it.
Tasted like tuna.

In Cozumel, Mexico, we went parasailing with our friends Marc and Pepper (I agree, Pepper is a fun name). The fact that I went parasailing should be impressive to those of you who know me. Usually I am a wimp when it comes to doing things like strapping myself to a boat and flying 400 feet in the air. But we nailed it!

At one point, I looked down in the water, and said," Whoa! Check out the size of that jellyfish!"
Then I realized it was just the shadow of our parachute.
Our final excursion adventure was riding the zip line in Honduras. This was my favorite excursion. We literally soared above the jungle. We could see the entire island of Roatan, as well as the ocean. The view was breathtaking (and not just because I have bad lungs). In total, we rode ten ziplines over 2,500 feet. I think I am going to get a zipline in the backyard and train my new pet dolphin to use it.
A very small taste of what Batman must feel like every single day.
Rosie the Riveter.

Oh yeah, and Diane also got to hold a monkey while we were on Roatan. Let's just say it freaked her out a little bit.

Out last port was in Costa Maya, Mexico. We didn't do any excursions here (since nothing can top holding a monkey), but we did have a funny Star Wars experience. When we walked off of the ship onto the port, I was wearing one of my many Star Wars t-shirts. A Mexican crew members saw my shirt and started to wave her arms around like a lightsaber while humming the Imperial March. Then she actually roared at me like Chewbacca! Of course I responded with a wookiee roar of my own. We went back and forth a few times, and everyone around us was laughing. It felt good to meet a fellow wookiee so far away from home.

While on the ship, we participated in a number of fun activities, such as basketball (my team ALWAYS lost for some reason), dancing, event shows, napping, posing for fake magazine covers, and of course, karaoke. Ah, karaoke. What can I say? I love to make a fool of myself by pretending to be Elvis. "Jailhouse Rock" will never be the same again.
We played some B-ball in the rain.  No, that is not me going up for the dunk
(although I could TOTALLY do it).
Posing for a fake magazine cover with Summer and Monroe.
You should never go on a cruise without having a little cheese.
Apparently when I dance, my eyes roll into the back of my head.  Creepy.
"Jailhouse Rock" with full-on choreography.
Elvis is rolling over in his grave.

As much fun as we had doing everything I have mentioned above, there was one thing we did that was even more satisfying. During our week on the ship, we became good friends with our room housekeeper, a Filipino woman named Lenie. Lenie was one of the most gentle and humble people I have ever met. I really enjoyed learning about her life on the cruise ship (this is her tenth year with Celebrity) and about her family at home (two young daughters). She was a wonderful example to me of simple Christlike living. We talked briefly with Lenie about religion, and we learned that she had heard of Mormons but was not a member of the Church. Diane suggested that we should give Lenie the copy of the Book of Mormon that Diane had brought on the cruise. We wrote a note and gave her the book as we were leaving this morning. She was visibly touched and thanked us for thinking of her. It was a sweet experience. 

Our wonderful housekeeper Lenie.
Well, there you have it!  Like I said at the beginning, cruises really are awesome. It was a ton of fun to spend time with Diane and my friends from work. We definitely built some wonderful memories. Bon voyage!


  1. One day.

    I'm trying to comment without sounding jealous.


    Glad you had a great time. :)

  2. You guys are too cute! I'm so happy that you had fun. I keep trying to convince Tim that my Gillen genes are anti-Star Wars but you have to go and ruin that! :)

  3. So fun!! Next time we're going with you!!!

  4. So cool! We're going on a cruise in March for our 5-yr Anniversary and have totally looked at similar excursions. However, I'm rethinking the dolphin one purely because we swam with dolphins on our honeymoon and it's so darn expensive. I think I'd rather try something new. Like parasailing!!! Way to go for bringing a BofM with you to give away on the trip. That's a great idea; we should totally do the same.

  5. Sounds like a great time, I think the First Counselor in my Bishopric and his wife were on the same cruise.

  6. That looks like a really fun cruise. The food doesn't look half bad either. Me and my family are definitely going aboard the first opportunity we can get.

  7. Pimalai, it was an awesome cruise! You should definitely look into it.