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Carnival Liberty - Western Caribbean Cruise Journal


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A Day at Sea and Training Dolphins in Cozumel
Linda Garrison and dolphin at the Dolphinaris Training Center in Cozumel

It only took a short time for me to train this dolphin to jump from the water and touch the wand. (Not really, but it sounds good.)

Photo Courtesy of Dolphinaris

Day at Sea on the Carnival Liberty

Our first day on the Carnival Liberty we were at sea. It was kind of windy, but lovely otherwise. The outdoor decks were packed with sun worshipers and partiers resting from the previous night and recharging for the current one. Ronnie slept in to almost 10 am, but I was happy reading my book on our balcony. We ate a late breakfast at Emile's Bistro buffet. It was good, and they did have grits to mix with my scrambled eggs.

Our day was quiet. We read, napped, explored the ship, and watched the football playoff games on the satellite television in our cabin. While wandering the ship, we watched the people, many of whom were packed into the EA Sports Bar, absorbed in the playoff games. All in all, a lazy day. We enjoyed a late lunch at Fish & Chips on deck 10. Ronnie had the fried oysters and bouillabaisse, I had the fish and chips.

The daily FunTimes cruise program was packed with activities for those who weren't content to sit in the sun (or shade), watch the football games, or just enjoy the bars. The casino was open, so many chose to play the slots or table games. The spa staff had three lectures on health and beauty, and there was a presentation on the upcoming ports of call and shore excursions. One of our table mates won the hairy chest contest by the pool, and he was so proud at dinner! We were all thrilled for him and sorry we missed the contest. The staff also led bingo, bean bag tossing, dodge ball, and several other of the usual cruise ship activities. The bar staff had a martini tasting, and the chefs had a lecture on food and wine pairing. All of the shops were open, and one had a gem seminar. Several of the indoor and outdoor spaces were filled with live music. All in all, it was as expected--a fun-filled day on a large cruise ship. Everyone we saw seemed to be having a great time.

It was our first elegant evening onboard, so the meal was especially good in the dining room. I had the stuffed mushrooms, Greek salad, and the lobster and shrimp for dinner. Dessert was chocolate ice cream for me. Ronnie had the stuffed mushrooms, shrimp cocktail, lobster and shrimp, and cherries jubilee (not flaming). The three men at our table wore sports jackets, but many of the men did not. As usual, it seemed like the women were more dressed up.

The Carnival Liberty singers and dancers did a production show in the Venetian Palace, and the nightclubs and bars rocked into the late evening.

Dolphin Training at Dolphinaris in Cozumel

The next day we awoke in Cozumel. Ronnie and I had breakfast, but our tour wasn't until 11:15. So, we walked into the shopping area about 10 o'clock and just looked around for an hour or so. The Carnival Dream was docked next to us, so there were about 6000 cruisers on the dock and in the shops. Plus, Cozumel has other docks--we saw two other big ships in port at another dock closer to town.

Ronnie and I did an excursion called "Dolphin Trainers". This was at the Dolphinaris facility. Although I had been to Dolphinaris before, I wanted Ronnie to swim with dolphins, and I was happy to have an excuse to go again. It's only about a 10 minute ride (3 miles) from the ship.

There are several levels of interactions with the dolphins, but "dolphin trainer" is the longest, most expensive, and includes lunch. Only Ronnie and I and another couple from Philadelphia who were on the other Carnival ship did this tour. Really nice to have am almost private tour, although only 12 is the maximum. We toured the facility and had one of the trainers (Alex) as our guide. He told us much about dolphin diets, training, and physiology before taking us to the food area where we learned how to sort out the bad fish with cuts or other damage from the good ones. The 16 dolphins at the facility have three kinds of fish they eat (herring, squid, and something like a sardine). Each has a set amount they get the six times a day they are fed. Most of the feeding is done during the interactions with the customers. The food fish are kept in ice chests, each labeled with a dolphin's name. And, each dolphin gets a certain amount of each type of fish, along with vitamins or medicine (if needed). One dolphin with kidney problems gets a liter (or more) of fresh water each day. It's very scientific, and I was impressed with the cleanliness of the facility and the process for feeding and monitoring the dolphins.

After sorting out some of the fish and scrubbing the fish smell from our hands, we moved to the training area where we learned seven simple hand commands for the dolphins. It was harder than you would think, especially since the dolphins are like people--each with its own personality. You have to do the commands exactly right or they might get confused. They only use positive reinforcement in the training, so the only way to "reprimand" them is to just stand still, ignore them, and not use any commands. They quickly learn that no food or praise is coming unless they do as asked.

The four of us spent quite a while giving the dolphins commands and then rewarding them with fish from their respective ice chests. No telling how far back we set their training since none of the four of us was particularly confident in giving the signals, and sometimes the dolphins got confused. They gave each of us a special t-shirt to wear that identified us as trainers to the staff. Maybe the dolphins recognize the t-shirts, too!

After we "trained" the dolphins, we moved into the water to do the same things those who swam with dolphins did. We petted them, got a kiss, shook hands, and rode on their stomachs (the best part). Soon our time with the dolphins was over. One of the waiters took our lunch order, and we went snorkeling for about 30 minutes while it was being prepared. We fed some of the culled fish from the dolphin food sorting to the reef fish, so we saw lots of nice fish while snorkeling. Needless to say, we were all starved, especially since it was after 3 pm

Ronnie and I both had fajitas washed down with a Dos Equis beer. Soon it was time to return to the ship, and we were back at the pier in time to board by 4:30. Of course, it seemed like everyone else on the ship waited until the last minute too. Therefore, the line was pretty long, but moved quickly.

Other Cozumel Activities

The Carnival Liberty had several other great shore excursions in Cozumel. The variety of activities on and near this western Caribbean island are impressive. Of course, there were plenty of opportunities to enjoy the water and the beach or go shopping. Adventure lovers could take one of several snorkeling tours or go horseback riding, parasailing, submarining, jeep or ATV riding, or zip lining. Those interested in culture or history could tour the island or visit Mayan ruins. Foodies could take a culinary tour to learn how to make salsa or Mexican food.

Ronnie and I returned to the cabin, got cleaned up a little, and had some sushi before finalizing our dress for dinner. We had gotten reservations ($30 per person) to eat at Harry's Steakhouse, and it was as good as I remember.

After dinner, the Carnival Liberty had a RedFrog Caribbean beach party outdoors, with lots of beach music, dancing, and fun. Some people auditioned for a spot in the Carnival Legends show, while others went to see the comedian in the Victoria Lounge.

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Carnival Liberty Western Caribbean Cruise Travel Log

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