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Western Caribbean Cruise - Day One

Day One - Cocoa Beach Day Six - Costa Maya
Day Two - Port Canaveral Day Seven - At Sea
Day Three - At Sea Day Eight - Bahamas
Day Four - Cozumel Day Nine - Port Canaveral
Day Five - Belize

Friday, December 26, 2008

We arrived at Orlando airport on a particularly busy travel day – the day after Christmas. After quite a bit of waiting (and 3 phone calls) our shuttle finally showed up. Note that this is not a Carnival Cruise shuttle, but we had a package with the hotel where we were staying one night that included shuttle service to and from the airport, as well as from the hotel to the cruise ship terminal. We used Cocoa Beach Shuttle and we have to honestly say we wouldn’t recommend it. Upon landing, we called the shuttle, as we were instructed to do, and they told us where to wait for it. We collected our luggage and went to the anointed spot and waited…and waited…and waited. We actually saw some shuttles come and go multiple times. Fortunately our cruise didn’t leave until the next day and we weren’t in a rush but this was extremely frustrating – we were waiting outside for the shuttle for 90 minutes! Finally it showed up and the driver did not speak English very well. He took off with us and another guest and we quickly learned that his pass for the airport gate wasn’t working – he would have to get out of the van and wave and jump around like a lunatic. We were seriously wondering if this was a good idea. But after all this time we STILL did not leave the airport – we had to go pick up another family who had been delayed.

Finally everyone was on board and we headed east towards the Atlantic Coast. Keep in mind it is a 45-50 minute ride from the airport to our destination, and of course we were the last ones off the shuttle. We arrived at our hotel a bit disgruntled and two hours later than we should have been there.

We stayed at Fawlty Towers Resort Motel. The woman who greeted us at the front desk was super friendly – she couldn’t have been nicer. She took the time to explain about the pool, tiki bar, and even gave us a map showing us where shops and restaurants were located within walking distance. She even said if we wanted to, she would order a pizza for us and have it delivered to our room or the pool area. We were starving and agreed pizza sounded like a good idea. She called in our order to Pizza Hut and even gave us a coupon!

We went upstairs to our room. This hotel is extremely budget-friendly – probably 1/3 to ¼ the price of chain hotels in the area. The room is basic but clean. We had a king-size bed with chairs, desk, TV. The bathroom simply had a vanity, toilet, and stall shower with shower curtain. There was a sliding door onto a balcony (shared) that overlooked the pool area. Double rooms, efficiencies, and suites are also available. Hair dryers are in the bathrooms and they offer free wireless Internet. Again, this is basic – we took our own clock and shampoo.
We changed and went out to the pool to await our pizza. We dipped our feet into the pool but the heater was not turned on so we simply went to the tiki bar for a drink. The hotel’s courtyard – which contains the pool and tiki bar – is very attractive and well-maintained. We had a couple slices of the pizza and gave the rest to the grateful bartender who looked hungry.

Since some of our family who was also staying at the hotel were experiencing delays at the airport, we took off on foot to see what we could find. We were pulled in by the live music we heard outside at Bunky’s Raw Bar and Seafood Grille located at 315 West Cocoa Beach Causeway, Cocoa Beach, FL 32931, 321-799-4677. This is a casual place – sort of a sports bar, with lots of booths, bar seating, and TVs that serves seafood. Keith got beer on tap (a big one after the frustrating wait at the airport) and chicken tenders, and Lori had some white wine and peel & eat shrimp. Since we were going on a cruise, we knew we didn’t need to eat a lot, which is why we only had a little pizza and then went for some protein.

It was a nice night – low humidity and not too warm – so we went outside to hear the band. It was a two-person band (husband and wife): The Tiki Band. It was husband-and-wife, Tony & Melissa Parrish. They do “fun music for fun people” – things like Jimmy Buffett, reggae, tropical stuff, light classic rock and pop that seems to fit in with a tropical theme. We were especially impressed when they did “Moonlight Feels Right,” a song from the mid-70s that has a marimbas solo in the middle. They had great personalities. Since it was the night after Christmas, foot traffic was light, so we hung out with them the rest of the time they played. We learned they used to play on Carnival cruises and we could definitely see them doing that. They are very professional, yet fun, and sound like a heckuva lot more than 2 people! Check out their website to see their schedule.

We hoofed it back to our hotel and, after a long day, we fell asleep.

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