Wednesday, April 8, 2015

311 cruise {round 2}

As I'm sure you have gathered by now, at the end of February we went on a 311 cruise.  Yes, another one.  I realize that some people may think it's a little crazy the number of vacations we go on that revolve around this band.  It probably is a little crazy.  But this band encourages such a positive vibe that all of these trips and vacations end up being with such an amazing group of people, it just makes it that much better of an experience.  Hearing their music, being with like-minded people, and going on an awesome vacation - you just can't beat it.  So, call me crazy if you want, but I plan to keep attending 311 events as long as they keep putting them on. :)

So this was the 2nd 311 cruise that Matt and I have been on.  It is the 4th cruise they have put on (see!  we don't go to ALL of their events!) - the first one was just not a good time financially for us so we couldn't swing it, and the 3rd one set sail the day before my due date with Lilly.  So there was that. :)  We made it on the 2nd cruise (as you may remember) and then once again for #4.  This one was a 4 day trip, and we went to Jamaica.  It. Was. Awesome.  Our friends and fellow 311 lovers Ash & Zach joined us as well, which made the trip that much more fun.

We spent the first day of our trip doing nothing but traveling.  We flew from KC to West Palm Beach (not the typical destination for a cruise that leaves from Miami, but we had the HARDEST time finding flights.  This was the cheapest and best option based on flight times as well.).  We then took the Tri-Rail from West Palm Beach allll the way to Miami.  It took us about 2 hours.  Although it was a long ride,it only cost us like $7 a person.  Waaaay cheaper than a cab.  Once we got to Miami we took a cab to our hotel for the night.  We ordered some pizza, drank a few beers, and got to bed early knowing that our vacation was starting for real bright and early the next day!

On Wednesday morning, we caught a shuttle from the hotel to the Port of Miami.  We went through all of the fun registration, waited around in a giant room for a while, and then finally made our way onto the ship!  It was huge, and so nice.

We had a few hours to kill before we were allowed to get into our rooms, so we just explored the ship and got lost for the first of many, many times.  We found the buffet and got some lunch, and what else but a Margarita!  Walk by me with a margarita in a 311 souvenir cup, and you bet I'm buying one. :)

After getting to our room and getting our bags, we found our way to the pool deck where 311 was playing their first show of the trip, as we sailed away.  Such a great way to kick off vacation, I must say. :)

All of us were pretty darn excited! We soaked up the afternoon sun, drank some beers, and waited for the show to start.

Then the staff came around and gave everyone a free shot of tequila to enjoy as we sailed away.  Sold!

The view as we sailed away was breathtaking!

The view once Nick Hexum and 311 came onstage was equally beautiful. :)

And as you can see, about 3,000 other cruisers also enjoyed the show with us.  The energy was unreal, and we loved every minute of it!!

We spent the rest of the evening checking some of the various other shows on board (being a music cruise, there is pretty much a concert happening at all times.  it's awesome!).  Eventually we called it a night...after far too many buckets of beer. :)

The next morning we woke up slowly...and eventually made our way out of the room.  Everyone was feeling a little rough, but when you're on a cruise ship in the middle of the ocean there's no time to be hungover!  So we sucked it up and enjoyed our day.

Ash & I started the day off with some yoga - this was such a fun little activity.  I wish they had it every day!  Bonesaw from the band Full Service led our yoga class, and it was such a lovely way to start the day (and cure a hangover!).  Yoga is already relaxing and peaceful, but doing it with nothing but the ocean and sunshine in your view takes it to a whole new level.

Later that afternoon was one of the highlights of the trip.  Our photo with the band! Now, you may remember how this experience went for me last time.  And if you don't, I'll remind you: I HAD MY EYES CLOSED.  I may be a little bitter about it still.  This time however, I made darn sure to keep my eyes open and we ended up with a much better result!

Totally printing and framing this picture in my house....

Just like on the last cruise, I was pretty much all smiles the rest of the day after getting to meet the guys and take this photo.  All of us were pretty darn excited.  We spent the afternoon watching more concerts, and again discovered some awesome bands.  Full Service, Pepper & The Green are some of the bands that we fell in love with.  Really, all the bands on the ship were great, there was always good music around!

We watched The Dirty Heads (who Matt & I discovered and fell in love with after the last cruise) that evening, with a pretty awesome view of the ship, the crowd, and the sunset.  

That night, the girls threw in the towel early while the boys continued the fun.  I'm glad I decided to go to bed, but the boys kept telling us how much fun they had that night so apparently we missed out. :)

Friday morning, we once again got up slowly (can you see a recurring theme here?), but we didn't have too much time to poke around as we had arrived in Jamaica and we had a full day of fun ahead of us!  We grabbed mimosas and bloody marys and enjoyed the view from the front of the boat before heading down to get off and start our day.

Once we did make our way off the ship, we got on a bus to go to our excursion in Jamaica.  

The excursion was a 2 part adventure, where we could go to the beach or the river.  We started at the beach.

It. Was. Beautiful.  

We found ourselves a spot in the sand, laid out in the sun, enjoyed some fruity drinks, and just relaxed.  It was so nice!  Full Service showed up right where we were sitting for a little impromptu beach show, which was even more awesome.

We were also treated to a Jamaican lunch, which was quite tasty! After getting our fill of the beach, we hopped back on the bus and went over to the river.  The drive through Jamaica to the river was quite interesting as well.  Definitely a different culture!  The river was completely different from the beach atmosphere, but it was equally beautiful there!

The tent you see in the photo below housed a local Jamaican Reggae band that was playing when we arrived.  (This was called the Irie River by the way...)  We got in the water to enjoy the music for a bit, and then explored the rest of the river and surrounding jungle.  It was just beautiful all the way around, and there was always something to see.  

We were wishing we had more time, because we felt like we had to leave so soon after getting there!  I think we easily could have spent 2 days there (if not more) just enjoying the atmosphere and all there was to see.  But, we had to be back on the ship by 5, with a full night of activities ahead, so off we went.  On the way back, there were tons of little shops set up where you could buy souvineers.  Unfortunately, though, the line to get back on the ship was SO long that we had to get in line right away, and it ended up moving so fast that we barely had time to look or shop.  I managed to buy a little dress to bring back for Lilly, but that was pretty much the only souvenir I was able to bring back from Jamaica.

Here's a view of the ship as we were walking back from Jamaica.  Told you it was huge!

As tired as we were from a full day of fun in the sun, we had a night of activities ahead of us that we had to get ready for.  It started with another 311 show, where they played their Soundsystem album from front to back.  Such an amazing show!

Another Dirty Heads show followed, and then there was the costume contest.  Don't ask me how I stayed awake and alive through all of this, but somehow I did (the contest STARTED at midnight...)!  We reused our Halloween costumes, and dressed up as the Wizard of Oz group.  We actually put our costumes on before the Dirty Heads show, and unfortunately our scarecrow bowed out during that time (and by bowed out I mean stumbled back to the room and passed out. Lightweight. ;) ).  So, I never managed to get a picture of all of us together...but I did at least get one of our sleepy scarecrow before we lost him!

We entered the costume contest not realizing what we were in for...we ended up having to wait for what felt like hours (no idea how long it actually was) to then go out on the pool deck and be "judged".  I'm not really sure how it all worked, but we stuck in it, and got nothing in the end. Ha.  We got an official photo taken, so I guess that is something?  It was insanely windy on the pool deck that night, so that made it especially fun for a dress... :)

I once again called it a night early (well, it was after 1am which I do NOT consider early by any means, but Matt & Ash were still up so I guess it was early compared to those party animals). They wandered the ship for a few more hours, saw a few more shows, and who knows what else.  I was happily snoozing. :)

We woke up the next morning for one more day of this adventure.  We took it easy that morning and day...I think everyone was getting pretty worn out by that point.  We spent most of the day hanging by the pool, which turned out to be pretty awesome as we had a great view of the stage for the shows that were going on. It was wonderful and relaxing, and a really nice way to spend our last day on the ship.

We decided to be proactive and get most of our packing done later that afternoon so we could enjoy the rest of the night and not have to worry about it in the morning, knowing they would probably be scooting us off the ship bright and early.

We had a nice dinner out on the deck on the back of the ship, and took a lovely little group photo in front of the sunset (sort of.  the sun is over to the right, but there were a bunch of people in the background over there so this just had to do).

That night we had one last 311 show to watch, and it was possibly the best one of the trip.  We ended up getting a great spot, pretty close to the stage, and it was just a really fun show! 

Afterwards, we watched a comedy show in the theater, followed by one last Dirty Heads show, which was a close second for one of the best shows of the whole trip.  I can't even explain it, but the energy inside the theater, along with the music, was just electric.  Not to mention the wind and the ocean was rocking, making the boat do some serious swaying.  Watching a whole crowd of people sway back and forth together with the boat was crazy.

I tried to talk everyone into calling it a night after the shows, but I was overruled.  I wanted to be responsible and get to bed knowing that we had to get up early the next day, but everyone else wanted to make the most of our last night and go to Headphone Disco.  I reluctantly joined, but am so glad I did!

I don't think I can properly explain headphone disco to you, it's one of those things you just have to experience.  I'll try though. :)  Basically it's like a dance club, except everyone is wearing headphones.  There are 2 separate DJs, playing completely different music, and your headphones can switch back and forth from one DJ to the other.  Sounds weird, right?  I thought so too.  But from the minute we walked in and put our headphones on, I was in tears I was laughing so hard.  Half the room is dancing to one song, while half is dancing to the other.  You can't hear anything but the music, so you can't talk to anyone (but you inevitably try, and end up just randomly yelling).  It was absolutely hysterical, and so. much. fun.

I really wish I would have taken a video of that adventure (well I did, but it was really short and Ashley thought I was taking a picture the whole time, so it's funny in it's own way!) - but it was quite the way to end our trip.

We took one last walk around the deck of the ship before heading to bed, and took one last group selfie to remember our trip by.

The next morning, we were woken up bright and early, and just as I suspected, were pretty much scooted off the ship.  Although, at one point, before we had made our way to the line, they came over the speakers to say that they were backed up so we needed to wait a bit...which was fine by us.  We got some breakfast, and just hung out until it was finally time to go.  The rest of our day was another travel marathon...taking the tri-rail back to West Palm Beach, then flying to Atlanta, and finally making it home.  Of course the very last leg of our flight was delayed, just the icing on the cake.  We finally made it back to KC around 11 that night, then promptly lost our car in the airport parking lot.  Eventually we found it, and finally made it home.  Everyone was ready to just be home at that was a looong day.

All in all, it was an amazing trip!  Like I said after the last one, I'm not sure that I could go on a "normal" cruise after having now been on 2 of these music cruises, I don't think anything could compare.  They've already said another cruise will be happening in 2017...I'm hoping we can break the every-other-cruise streak and actually make it on that one.  But a lot could happen between now and then, so we shall see. :)  

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