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Scott Shelton

Age: 49

Occupation:Lan Administrator

Number of Cruises: 2

Cruise Line: Celebrity

Ship: Mercury

Sailing Date: January 30th, 2001

Itinerary: Western Caribbean

Day 1 – Sunday - Arrival at the Cruise Terminal and Boarding the Ship - Sunny 70s

We drove to the terminal in Port Everglades, Ft. Lauderdale from Orlando and arrived at 11am. The port is relatively new and easy to get to. By check-in standards, we arrived a little early and so when we went to receive our priority number, we got number 1. At 12:30, we began the boarding process and by 1pm we were aboard and eating a wonderful buffet lunch in the Palm Springs Café. After that, we went to the see the Maitre d’ to confirm our seating in the formal dining room for the evening meals. Then we checked out the rest of the ship and it’s facilities. There was a basketball court, ping pong, darts, fitness center, movie theater, swimming pools, volleyball, shuffle board, and virtual golf, to mention a few. The weather that afternoon was sunny and 70s, so Gail and I ended up catching some sun, while Tyler continued to investigate the ship's facilities. Our bags arrived at our cabin (9090), at around 4pm, so we changed and got ready for the evening activities. The ship departed at 5:30pm and we were now underway to our first port, Calica, Mexico. This was Superbowl Sunday, so Tyler and I went to the Celebrity Theater to watch it on the big screen .There was pizza and other food available during the game. Gail decided to go to the formal dining room and eat with the other guests at our assigned table of eight. After the game was over, Gail joined us in the theater where there was a live show put on by the Celebrity entertainment staff, which highlighted the upcoming week’s performers. So as you can see our first day on the ship was action packed and it was nice to settle down in our comfortable and spacious stateroom for a good night’s sleep, as we did not get much sleep the night before.

Day 2 – Monday Day at Sea - Sunny 80s

Today was an easy, quiet day at sea which we spend lying in the sun and relaxing on the upper deck of the ship. Tyler and I entered into a ping pong tournament. Didn’t make it to the finals, but had fun anyway. Then we went and played the virtual golf. This was kinda cool, you hit the ball into a screen which has pictures projected on it from a course of your selection. It detects how your ball is hit and places you in the fairway or the green accordingly.

The evening dinner was formal attire in the Manhattan dining room. The meals served in the evenings were very nicely prepared and very rich. There was a vegetarian menu available as well. Our tablemates were very pleasant and personable. We all had a good time together every evening that we met for dinner. The waiter who was from Mexico and busboy from India, were quiet most of the time, but very efficient. We skip the evening show and went to bed to rest up for our first day in port on Tuesday.

Day 3 – Tuesday Calica, Mexico - Overcast/showers (am) - Sunny (pm) 80s

We awoke to cloudy skies with rain showers on the horizon. But we were optimistic that the day would still be a good one and it was! There was a delay getting ashore as we had to take a tender boat due to another ship docked in our spot at the pier in Calica. We finally got ashore at 11am, bought a ticket for transportation and admission to the Xcaret Park ($44pp). This was a beautiful ecological park with a lot of nature, with both aquatic and land creatures. After entering the gates, we walked through the rain forest and then visited the orchid and mushroom farm. In route to the beach area, we saw Mayan ruins, swim with the dolphins area, a turtle sanctuary, and aquarium. When we reached the beach area, the water was a beautiful blue color and the water was 79 degrees. Tyler and I went snorkeling and saw a lot of beautiful fish amongst the reefs. Also retrieved a huge conk shell with the live conk still in it! Snorkeling over near the boat docks, we saw huge numbers of silver colored fish of different sizes swarming all around us. God’s creatures really brought a blessing to us throughout this whole trip.

We all finally settled down on the nice sandy beach area and had some lunch. The sun came out, so we sat in the sun and floated on the air cushions provided by the park.

Returned to the ship by 4:30pm and opted for the Casual Dining area on the 11th deck. After dinner we went to the evening show, which was hilarious. The Ladder Guy performed balancing , juggling and some unbelievable acts on a ladder. He was quite a comedian as well.

Day 4 – Wednesday Cozumel, Mexico - Mostly Sunny 80s

First thing in the morning, I went up on deck with my binoculars to check out the coastline. As we pulled closer to the dock, a big stingray jumped right out of the water, just as to tell me you are going to have a great day and we did! The boat tied up to pier at 7am and after eating breakfast, Tyler and I had an appointment to meet a Divemaster Antonio from EagleRay Dive shop, at La Caleta marina. We had made arrangements over the Internet for Tyler to complete his scuba diving certification, which required two deep water dives. We arrived at the marina one hour before we were suppose to, cause I forgot about the time difference. But we had fun talking to one of the local boat captains, testing out our Spanish speaking skills, while we were waiting. Antonio and the his boat captain took us out to the first dive spot, Punta Punich reef area. Tyler got right into the water, equalized pressure and was on the bottom before I knew it. I floated above with my snorkeling gear and followed the group. The visibility was at least 100ft and was just an unbelievable experience seeing all the creatures of the sea as I drifted above the divers. Tyler was ecstatic! I watch him as he swam about 50 feet below me, checking out the reefs and all its inhabitants. This is one of his greatest loves, marine biology. The second dive was north a ways, at Paradise reef. Again, just a beautiful environment. The boat driver took me closer into shore, were the water over the reef was shallow (about 10ft) where I took some pictures with my underwater camera while Tyler and Antonio went through some skills that were needed for his certification. If you are ever in Cozumel, call Antonio or Chellie at EagleRay . Their services and friendliness were top notch. We got back to the dock at about 2:30pm and took a cab to the Chakkanab Beach Park where we were to meet my wife, Gail. Through out the trip, we used some walkie-talkies from Wal-Mart, to communicate while we were apart, both on and off the ship. So when I got there, I called her on it and found her right away. This park is very tropical and beautiful. Seven dollars to get in and well worth it. Gail and I went snorkeling and saw a lot of neat fish.

Got back by 5pm and the ship departed this wonderful diving paradise of the Caribbean. It is said to be second best in the world next to the Great Barrier Reefs of Australia .We had dinner in the Manhattan Restaurant and then saw the movie, Patch Adams, in the ship’s cinema. What a day!!

Day 5 –Thursday Grand Cayman Islands - Mostly Sunny 80s

The ship anchored just off shore of Georgetown, GC at 10am. We tendered ashore at 11:30am. After taking some pictures and shopping, we met the tour group for Stingray City. Took the bus over to the dock and then a boat out to the sand bar. About a 45-minute ride. I noticed that locals at the pier, were offering tours for $25.00 . I will have to remember that next time. We paid $14 bucks more through the ship. We arrive at the sand bar, which ranges 3-5 feet deep, and got right into the water with our snorkel and mask. No fins allow around the stingrays. The boat captain put a floating bucket of squid pieces out in the water. The stingrays, ranging in size from 2 to 4 feet across, converged on everyone in the water, especially if you had squid in your hand. Tyler could not stop laughing, as the rays rubbed up against him, like kitty cats. This was a very memorable experience for us all. We stayed there for about 45 minutes and then returned to the dock. The bus driver dropped Tyler and I off at the main road where we caught a minibus to go to the beach at Cemetery Reef, to do some snorkeling. We swam out to a really cool reef about 150 yards off shore and found a lot of sea life. I took some underwater pictures. Got back to the ship at 5pm, had dinner in tropical attire and then went to another movie-Entrapment.

Again, another wonderful day in paradise!

Day 6 – Friday Day at Sea - Mostly Sunny (am), Rain (pm) 80s

Relaxed around the ship, sat in the sun in the morning. Tyler and I played Ping-Pong. In the afternoon, Tyler went to the Golf room for a 30-minute golf lesson and evaluation using a video machine. They gave him the video evaluation of his swing at the end of the session. He really enjoyed that. Formal dining that night, and early to bed.

Day 7 – Saturday Key West - Sunny 60s

The ship had originally scheduled to stop here Monday, but had a last minute change before departure. We are Seventh-day Adventists and today was the Lord’s Sabbath Day, so we went ashore at 8:30am and took the shuttle bus to the visitors center to locate an Adventist church. There was one, within walking distance. Walking along the way we saw a huge Banyan tree. We had a wonderful time of fellowship and worship at the Southernmost Seventh-day Adventist Church. It was a small, but loving congregation. I felt impressed to ask them if they had a web page and they did not. So I went ahead and created one for them, when I got back home. They had beautiful stain glass work in the church. After church, one of the parishioners kindly gave us a ride back to the ship. We had the buffet lunch and then Tyler and I took the shuttle back into town and went to the aquarium. Tyler pointed out all the fish that he had seen when he went on his dive in Cozumel. The aquarium guide fed the sting rays, the sharks and the other fish as well as a general guided tour and explanation of the habits of the sea creatures they had there. It was a wonderful way to spend the day and a great blessing for us.

We had dinner that night,(it was also my birthday), in the Manhattan Restaurant and said a tearful goodbye to our tablemate friends and exchanged email addresses. We returned to our cabin, put our suitcases in the hallway, then took in a movie and hit the sack, trying not to think about this wonderful vacation coming to an end.

Day 8 – Sunday Port Everglades and Debarkation Sunny – high 60s

Docked at 6am. Up at 7:30 and had our last breakfast. Our debarkation color was blue, which was called around 9:30am. We had heard that they were some that were staying on board for the next cruise departure that afternoon to the Eastern Caribbean. Two cruises, back to back! What a life. But, its back to home, work and school for the Sheltons. As we drove home to Orlando, the past week’s memories flashed into our minds of the wonderful people, ports and ocean creatures we saw and met. This week’s experiences will be with us for years to come.

Thank you western Caribbean, maybe we will see you again next year!! And thanks mates for reading our review!!

Scott, Gail & Tyler Shelton

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