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lschrage

AOS Review 12/5/04 - Part 5

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Hi there-

 

I'm back with Part 5. To recap, the family members travelling were:

 

Myself - 35

Hubby - 36

BIL (Hubby's brother) - 35

SIL (Hubby's sister) - 34

Nephew (hubby's sister's son) - 6

Neice (hubby's sister's daughter) - 3

MIL - low 60's

 

Tuesday, 12/7 - Aruba

 

Today, we find ourselves docking on the island of Aruba, the A of the ABC islands. We woke up fairly early due to our scheduled diving excursion with Dive Aruba.

 

Started off by having breakfast in the extremely crowded Windjammer. Breakfast was the usual eggbeater omelette w/ ham. mushroom, onion, and cheese, as well as a side waffle with strawberries and whipped cream. Note: when you are in the Windjammer at peak times, do yourself a favor and grab and empty table as soon as you see it. Do not wait until after you have your food as it could be another 10 minutes before you find another table. The entire "table-location" process in the morning is akin to finding a parking spot at the mall the weekend before xmas (which I think we can all relate to at the moment!)

 

After breakfast, I headed up to deck 12 to take a few pics, and then went back to the cabin to pick up our dive gear. We (myself, hubby, and BIL) grabbed our gear, and headed off the ship with a quick stop at security to pick up our dive knives.

 

Our instructions were to go through the pier gates and wait outside for Clive who would be driving a white van. Well, we got out there about 8:30, and waited for about 15 minutes, while every tour/excursion guide came up to us peddling their "wares". Finally at 8:45, a white van pulled up and out came Clive. At least I think it was Clive as he made a beeline our way and loaded up our dive gear lickity split. Of course, the massive pile of dive gear in front of us was probably a dead giveaway that we were Clive's "peeps".

 

Already in the van were a very nice couple from Monterey, CA. After loading up the gear, Clive drove off to his "shop" (which was really his home with a nice office on the side, I think), for us to fill out the necessary Yes-I'm-a-certified-diver-and-I-swear-I-won't-sue-if-I-die paperwork, and then picked up our tanks (aluminum for those that want to know) and weights. BIL doesn't own his own gear, so he needed to rent the BC and regulator. After gathering up the rest of the scuba gear, we were off to Clive's boat which is located at the pier by the casinos. Clive's boat is a small boat and can fit about 6 plus equipment comfortably. After loading up the boat, we were off to our first dive site; the wreck of Antilles.

 

I was pretty nervous heading in the water as this was my, as well as hubby's and BIL's first ocean dive since being certified in October. We were all certified in a Michigan lake with really bad visibility, so this dive would have many firsts: the first boat dive, the first dive is salt water, the first dive at more than 25 feet, etc. I'm sure you get the idea and can somewhat understand where my jitters came from.

 

Well, Clive was very understanding, and patient, and explained everything to us. The other two people that were on our dive were also very understanding as the woman just had her first dive yesterday, and she was with her husband who was experienced, but knew what we were all going through.

 

Clive went through his dive procedures with us: jump in the water two at a time (one off the left, one of the right) and then give the signal when we're at 1,500 psi, and then another when we're at 1,000 psi. Without much fanfare, I jumped into the water with all my gear on. As I was the last one in the water, it was time to descend. So everyone went down except for yours truly as I didn't have enough weight on to get me down (which sucked becuase I used up plenty of air trying to get down). Clive swam up to me, put some extra weight in my BC, and down I went.

 

Max depth for me on this dive was 56 feet, which was my deepest in my oh so vast diving experience. At that point I freaked out just a little as I started to feel a little claustrophobic. Well, at 56 feet below, you don't have the luxury of panicking. So I just looked at the cool stuff on the ground and on the wreck and calmed myself down that way. As long as I wasn't looking at the open expanse of water around me, or looking up at the amount of water between me and the surface, I was fine!

 

The rest of the dive went fine. We swam all around and inside the wreck, and saw a ton of bubble tip anemones and some moral eels. Saw the basic fish, and a few trumpetfish and pufferfish, and I believe I saw a nudibranch of some sort (or maybe it was a bristle worm), we also saw quite a few snorklers on the way up as well. Visibility was decent. Not great, but way better than the 2 feet visibilty that we had during our open water certification!

 

BIL was the first one to reach 1,000 psi, so Clive took him back to the boat and left the rest of us to explore down below. After a few minutes, Clive was back to point out things of interest. About 15 minutes later, Hubby and I were both ready to go back up, so up we went w/ Clive. Clive told us at the beginning that since we weren't going very deep, that there was no need to do the standard safety stop. Weird, but ok. We got to the surface, and Clive got in the boat first so that he could help us up. About 10 minutes after we were in the boat, our other two dive mates surfaced.

 

Hubby had a blast during this dive as he was able to play with his underwater toy; our digital camera with the underwater housing. He got some pretty decent shots in, but in looking back at those shots now, we'll need to do some research to find a better flash.

 

We rested for a bit, talked bout what we saw, and changed out our tanks. Clive provided us with some fresh fruit to get rid of the salt in our mouths and also provided Kirkland brand sodas (from Costco). I tried the Orange-mango flavor an all I can say is "wow was that good!" I will need to run to Costco to see if they have that flavor here in Detoit. Somehow, though, I suspect it's only a flavor available at those tropical Costco locations.

 

Our next dive was at the Arashi reef, located not too far from the first dive location. The reef was decent. Not great, but still enough to hold our interest. We saw quite a few eels, and our dive mates discovered a few octopus (or is it octopi?). We saw more coral here, and small groupers, some angelfish (I think). By the end of the dive, I was ready to head on up.

 

After that, we headed back to the casino pier, and were able to take quite a few good shots of the Adventure as we passed right next to her on our way back. Definitely puts the size of the ship into proper perspective.

 

We docked at the pier, and I bolted into the casino so that I could used the restroom. I don't think I was ever so happy to see a bathroom in my life! Note to those who dive with Clive: there are no bathroom facilities on his boat!! We gathered up our gear and waited for Clive to bring the van around. Once in the van, we were the first to be dropped off, and were back at the ship around 2:15.

 

We schlepped our gear back to the ship (which is not easy when you're tired) and headed up to the showers next to the solarium pool to rinse off our gear. After that, we schlepped it back to our cabin, and laid it out on the balcony to dry. We each showered (have I said how much I love the bathroom in the grand suite?), and then headed to Windjammer for a very late lunch.

 

Well, the good news was that finding a table was no big deal. The bad news is that lunch is over at 3:00, and that after 3:00, only snacks are served. Well, we made do with snacks which included hamburgers, nachos (and the typical nacho fixins), mac and cheese (which was quite tasty), and bread pudding (which was really really good).

 

After "lunch", I ditched hubby and BIL and headed back off the ship to do some shopping. I spent the next 2-3 hours power shopping. I picked up a cute blue and white stiped beach bag ($5), some "Dive Abuba" t-shirts for both myself and hubby, a "Scuba Aruba" white baseball hat and a black "dive Aruba" visor for myself as well as a cute beach towel, and a few very cute pareos from a resort-wear store. I also picked up a few cute foo foo watches (one w/ a brown suede strap and one with a denim blue leather strap), and a cute lime green tank top that says "Aruba" on it.

 

It was 6:30 when I conceeded that I was shopped-out, and headed back to the ship, which was a good thing since the stores were closing. I was back on the ship at about 7:00. Since we were in the main seating, hubby, BIL, and I missed dinner in the dining room.

 

Since it was a whole 3.5 hours since we last ate, we were of course starving! So we headed back up to the Windjammer for dinner. This was our first encounter with Windjammer for dinner, which turned out to be quite a pleasant surprise. The food was the same as what was in the main dining room, and could be enjoyed at whatever pace you wanted.

 

Dinner's theme this night was caribbean. I remember there being some sort of tilapia with mango salsa, jerk chicken, shrimp bisque, and of course wonderful desserts. SIL, the kids, and MIL met up with us at the Windjammer and compared notes to the dining room since they managed to make it for dinner there (which is how we found out it was the same food). We compared notes on the day's activities (SIL went and did RCCL's horseback riding excursion, MIL shopped, kids were in Adventure Ocean for the morning...then they all hooked up in the early afternoon to go to the beach...not sure which beach, though.)

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(Continued from above...)

 

During dinner, BIL noticed my husband's Dive Aruba t-shirt, and was bummed that I didn't get him one. So after dinner, we dropped the kids back off at Adventure Ocean, and off we went in search of the store where I got the tshirt so that we could get one for BIL. Well, since it was 8:30, all the stores were closed, including the one where I found said tshirt at. So we wandered around a bit, and then made our way to Carlos and Charlies.

 

We stayed at Carlos and Charlies and watched the festivities for a bit. Hubby and I both ordered the special of the day "Baby Yard of Smirnoff Ice" for $6. This seemed like a good deal until I watched them pour it. They put ice in the baby yard, and then filled it up with one bottle of Smirnoff Ice. Sudddenly that great deal didn't seem so great anymore.

 

We watched the "free tequila" line dance, and the beer guzzling competition, and decided that we were just getting too old for these reindeer games. Since we were diving in Curacao the following morning, we needed to be in bed at a decent hour anyway. So we left Carlos and Charlies at around 10:30, and were back on the ship in only a few minutes.

 

We figured out the meeting plans for the morning w/ BIL and then headed back to our cabin to get some sleep. I looked over the next day's compass and then read my book for a few minutes and was sound asleep by the time the ship left Aruba.

 

Stay tuned for "Part 6 - Curacao"

 

Lynne

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Lynne,

 

Hope you enjoyed your first ship wreck. Do you have the diving bug yet?

 

No, I don't have the bug quite yet (although I did catch some sort of "bug" while on vacation because I feel like hell right now from the beginnings of a very nasty cold or sinus infection).

 

The first dive in Curacao sort freaked me out a bit because we did a wall dive and I went down to 86 feet which was a little too much for this newbie. I was so focused on trying not to panic that I couldn't focus on the "wow" factor. I think I just need a few more shallow (40-50 foot max) dives and then I should be fine. We're going to Mexico in march and are planning on doing some Cozumel dives. Hopefully they have some shallow dives that would be good for me there.

 

Lynne

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Yes, Coz has some good shallow reef diving. Drift diving to be sure. You gotta love not having to kick as much! Anyway, just tell the dive op what you want as there are a lot of advance dives there as well since there can be a strong current. I am looking forward to hearing about which dive op you went with on Curacao.

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Lynne

 

I'm really enjoying reading your reviews and can't wait for the next installments!!!

 

Kristin

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Thanks!

 

At the rate I'm going, it may take me until February to get the rest of it done. I don't have the energy right now to do another installment as I'm sicker than a dog at the moment (probably from going from 88 degrees and sunshine to 25 degrees and snow all in a day...), and I'm in desperate need of a nap. Looks like the family will have to wait until after xmas to get there presents, since I'm not envisioning getting any shopping done this weekend. Bummer.

 

Lynne

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