However, getting through the airport was a feat. First let me say that there is only one way to travel through Miami International Airport, and that is with an elderly person.
We found our luggage, turns out it was Annette's suitcase that went to DFW and then arrived in Miami the afternoon before. Also, and I'm not sure how this worked out, the other three suitcases made it from Miami to Chicago before we did, too. With luggage in tow, we checked in with Carnival and boarded the shuttle to the port. It probably took a lot longer than just Ubering to the port, but it was very convenient.
Of course, in my concern about Mom getting off the shuttle bus safely, I managed to trip and fall. Frankly, there was a woman in the row behind us who was able to catch and hold me, preventing me from falling all the way - it was either adrenaline or she was very strong - but if it hadn't been for her, I'm pretty sure I'd have broken or, more likely due to my density, sprained something. Here's a lovely pic of the bruise on my thigh taken that evening. Only now, as I'm writing almost three weeks later, is the bruise totally gone.
Again, the way to go on a cruise is with someone elderly or disabled - Kevin, the friendly young man who was toodling Mom around in her wheelchair zoomed us straight past long lines containing tired, grumpy people who were seething with jealousy (mwahahaha!!).
The ship took off at 5 pm and at 6 pm our little group gathered for dinner in our assigned dining room. We had a long table that held all 12 of us and Mom had suggested that no matter what everyone does during the day, that we all meet for dinner to catch up/check in. Frankly, I wasn't too excited, mostly because my only experience was the one night during the cat cruise when Annette and I joined the cat people - but we decided that the difference was that we were two introverts among a group of strangers; whereas on this trip, is was a smaller group and everyone knew someone other than just me. Each evening's dinner was great as we sat and were able chat with different people.
That first night, though, at at table near us, the waiters delivered a dessert and sang "Happy Anniversary" to a couple. Of course, my loved ones started suggesting they let the waiters know that we were there to celebrate my birthday. I was like, please, no. So imagine my shock and dismay when they deliver a dessert to me and start signing "Happy Birthday" - everyone was denying responsibility. We finally decided that the guilty party was most likely ... ME! After all, I'd set up the group as celebrating my 50th birthday. It was a small price to pay, so I didn't disown myself.
After dinner, I was plum tuckered, and remember the day started early for Rose, so I wasn't among the group who went and hung out in the hot tubs - I went to bed.
Tuesday morning, we arrived into Key West. Now my only personal plan for Key West was to see the polydactyl cats at the Ernest Hemingway house. Nothing in that sentence should give you the impression that I was remotely interested in Hemingway. I had to read Old Man and the Sea one year in high school and it has to be one of the worst books I've ever been forced to read. But there were a a couple of the group interested in going with me.
So we Uber'ed there and were able to scritch and photograph a bunch of adorable cats. Natalie had no problem rearranging the cats or their feet/toes for art's sake. One of my favorites was the cat snoozing on the dining table right next to the sign that clearly said NOT to sit on the table. Well, I guess that technically he wasn't sitting, so...
I felt that if the inhabitants of the place could totally disregard the signs, then we should have been able to disregard the "Do not pick up cats" sign at the door. I tried to get Natalie and/or Erin to smuggle a cat out in their bras, but neither of them were willing to try it. Personally, I thought that was rather selfish of them.
Erin's wish for Key West was to try a Cuban sandwich. After describing it to me, and since it was lunch time, it became one of my wishes as well. While we waited for Natalie to get a drink, so we could leave, one of the tour guides at the Hemingway house overheard our discussion and mentioned that the best Cuban on the island was at a restaurant just a block down the street. So we trotted down the street and had lunch. It was very good and I see no reason why I could make them at home.
That afternoon, the ship took off again, headed for Cozumel. After dinner, Janna (my college roomie who of course had to explain to all why she calls me "Bunz!") wanting to do Karaoke, so the whole gang headed down there. I'd never seen Karaoke, except for on TV, so it was fun - several of the performers, including Janna and Erin, were very good.
Haley had this overwelming urge to sing "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen, but wanted someone to sing with her. Natalie Googled and discovered that the first rule of performing Karaoke is to NOT perform "Bohemian Rhapsody," so it was decided to go with "Joy to the World" by Three Dog Night.
I will close now with a video of the performance. (Left to right - Holly, Natalie, Rose, Erin, and Haley)