Norwegian Pearl, Western Caribbean, 03/02/2012. Cozumel

The artist formerly known as Swims With Horses, shall now be known as Swims With Dolphins. Belly to belly. Yes, it was a girl dolphin, and yes, I checked. More on that, later.

But to put the day in a somewhat linear fashion:

Slept in til 6 yesterday morning...which, with the time change back one hour for Cozumel was 7am the day before, so, yes...it IS sleeping in. I'm gonna blame it on the White Hot party til 1. Not on my advanced age.
Anyway, so, I got up, ran upstairs for some morning coffee, came back and Michille was up and headed to the gym to put in 4 miles in the squirrel cage, while I wrote up my daily post. We went to breakfast a little later than usual, as the ship didn't get to Cozumel til after 9, and our excursion wasn't until 10. Went with a repeat of steak and eggs, while Michille ordered the frittata I had yesterday. Both were perfect, as usual. I have to say the Cagney's thing (a Suite perk on NCL), is totally worth the price of the suite accomodations. While we've only hit it a couple times for lunch, the breakfast there every morning, compared to the main dining room or (ewww) the buffet is just light years apart. Quiet, refined, impeccable service, fresh ground and pressed coffee...all of it just makes for an awesome day starter.

So, we got done just in time to catch the tender over for our excursion at the Solaris Delphinarium. I will say, I was a little leery of a repeat of yesterday, when I saw how many people were going on the excursion. But it wasn't a problem, as they split into, like, 6 groups and each group split into 12 different stations, so that it was, basically, 8 humans per dolphin, and nearly an hour in the water with them. They got us split into groups, gave a briefing on the basic hand positions to get the dolphin to hug, kiss, high-five, and belly up and let you climb onboard for a short swim. We then got in the water with Elena, a 2 1/2 year old female dolphin who was born on site (capturing wild dolphins is no longer permitted in Mexico). Our trainer then called people up for the various interactions. First a little peck on the cheek, then the kiss. And then some double hand (or, in her case, flipper) high fivin. He alternated that with sending people out farther in the lagoon to float with one hand out, and Elena would swim around and turn belly up so you could grab first one fin, and
then the other, and once you were hanging on, she'd turn on the speed for a bit. Nearly lost my trunks (as did a few of the others), but frankly I didn't much care.

How awesome to be that close to such a beautiful and powerful animal. Anyway, we also did a little huggy thing, where she would rest her nose on your hand and let you pet her back. And the whole group in a line in the deep water, and she would run back and forth down the line, letting everyone pet her as she went by, and then got back on the shallow ledge as the trainer put her thru some paces, like splashing us with her nose, "talking" as we waved our fingers, spining as we twirled our hands, and clapping her fins as we applauded her, and also, in a more serious vein gave us some up close and personal tutorials on dolphin biology. From pushing on the "melon" to make her exhale and do various vocalizations, to an upclose
look at her 88 teeth and tongue. He even had her roll over and went down the length of her body pointing out the subtleties of her anatomy.

So, I am not sure if it was quite as good as the horse swim thing, but it was miles ahead of Stingray City! I am, once again, really glad I took the opportunity, and would recommend to anyone paying the extra to get in the water with a dolphin and actually interact with them, as opposed to the "touch 'em from outside the tank" encounters you get from Sea World.

After the Dolphin Swim we headed back to port, and did some shopping. We've both been putting off the necessary souvenir shopping at every port, and this is the last one, so it just had to be done. We managed to blast thru it in about 20 minutes, aided by a bite to eat and some music at Senor Frogs for a starter. Seriously, Senor Frogs here on the South Terminal is just a beach shack, but the party was in full swing. We ordered a couple $14 drinks and a plate of appy's that included fajitas, chicken strips and quesadilla, and talked to a nice couple from London. The table next to us was a group of 8 from Oz who had a stack of shotglasses in the middle of their table at least 10 feet tall. They were having a dancin' good time, and showed no signs of slowing down...they may still be there. But it did help me figure out what's wrong with
the nightlife on this ship: No Aussies! Anyway, fortified with some grub and drink, we hit the t-shirt shops and got our shopping done in record time, then headed home to the Pearl.

The rest of the afternoon was lazing and reading and writing. And a 3 way phone tag operation, to make a plan for dinner. We already had a 7pm reservation at La Cucina for the two of us. Carol called, and her and Pat and Pat's party invited us to join them in La Cucina at 8. We compromised on 7:30. So I changed my rez to 7 people at 7:30. Then got a call that Pat's party wasn't joining us. Convinced Pat to hang in, and we were 4 at 7:30. Didn't bother to change the rez, and later ran into Tony wandering the halls, and invited him and Lisa and Dolly to join us. He said he would check with them and show up or not. So the 4 of us got there at 7:30, the rest did not. We went ahead and started without them, and they showed about 7:45. So, it was a good dinner, with lot's of interesting and/or vulgar conversation. And with that many of us, it turned
in to full on family style, with much passing around of starters and salads and pizza so everyone could try everything.

After the dinner we cruised the chocolate buffet but go no pictures as we were about a minute late and it was a complete madhouse. I know I said I was gonna do this in a linear fashion, but...I lied. I have to throw in this one: We were ready for dinner too early, and had no fabulous goodies to speak of (no champagne, at least), so we decided to do a photo-shoot. Went from the room to the elevator to the hallways, atrium, etc doing some glam shots of Michille. I made the unfortunate decision to try a nod to crass commercialism and asked her to pose in the perfumery, in front of all the racks of scents available. For some reason (probably because SHE wasn't the center of attention) the young lady working there decided to tell me that taking pictures in the store was not allowed. Now, I can't for the life of me think why anyone would give a shit, but, fine. Michille took it personally though, and told the lady she just lost a sale (and she did, we were in the store earlier, and Michille found her favorite perfume considerable cheaper than she gets it at home, and was planning on stocking up). I just smiled and walked away...Michille, on the other hand, glowered and walked away. Then smiled. And laughed. It was kinda fun. And, seriously - someone needs a little re-training on customer service. Sadly, I did not get her name.

Anyway, back to the line: All during dinner Carol tried to drum up interest in getting a group together to do the Quest. It's a kind of scavenger hunt for grown ups, and a lot of fun. And I really tried to make it. I stopped in the casino, though, and had the first good run of the cruise when my number came up twice in 4 spins, and I walked away $150 to the good for the session. Not quite even for the cruise...but not down too much. And, by the time I got done with that, it was 11pm and I was just tired.  No Quest for me, this time.

So, home sweet home, and rest up for tomorrow, our final day, and a day at sea!

I'll be posting late tomorrow, as I'll wait til I get on the plane to write up the days adventures... but stick around!

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