After the 2017 ‘Land’ reunion closed, it was time to begin the 2017 ‘Cruise’ reunion. Two charter bus trips were required to take the more than 100 shipmates/guests from the ‘Land’ reunion hotel to the cruise terminal on the Mississippi River. The first trip departed the hotel at 1200 and the final trip departed the hotel at 1330. After loading more than 3000 cruisers, the ship got underway from New Orleans at 1600 and headed down the Mississippi towards the Gulf for the start of a seven-day cruise. The USS Grant ‘Cruise’ Reunion group was the single largest group on the cruise ship.
There was plenty of entertainment and activities aboard ship to keep our members busy during the first three nights and two days at sea. During the first full day at sea the USS Grant Association sponsored an open-bar happy hour with hot finger food, which was attended and enjoyed by all USS Grant hands. Then each USS Grant stateroom received a $25 bonus from the USS Grant Association. The happy hour and stateroom bonus was a result of the number of staterooms we had booked on the cruise and a credit from the cruise line was given to the Association, which the Association decided to pass-on to the shipmates. On the second full day at sea the ship held a ‘Veteran Appreciation’ show, which was well attended by our submarine sailors. The ship also held the first of their two scheduled formal dinners during this period.
The first port-of-call was Mahogany Bay on the island of Roatan. The rain did not deter our shipmates/guests from going ashore to enjoy the sights and activities.
The second port-of-call was Belize, which is well-known for beautiful reefs. Many of our people snorkeled and SCUBA-dived in one of the largest reefs in the Caribbean. Others took trips to the Mayan ruins located close to Belize City, while others took local tours.
Our final port-of-call was Cozumel, which has changed significantly since our visit during the first USS Grant ‘Cruise’ reunion in 2007. The once quaint small town is now wall-to-wall shops and plenty of activities for all visitors. There were five other cruise ships in Cozumel during our visit. After departure from Cozumel, the ship held their second scheduled formal dinner.
The final day at sea on the way back to New Orleans was welcomed by the shipmates/guests as a time to just relax after three busy days at ports-of-call. During the final dinner at sea, specially-bottled USS Grant wine was poured at each table for our ‘Submariners Toast’. At an appropriate time, Ed Farris interrupted the dinner by striking his wine glass with a butter knife. His action was immediately joined by the more than 100 USS Grant shipmates/guests, which got the attention of everyone in the dining room. Ed then made the ‘Submariners Toast’ and all USS Grant shipmates/guests closed the toast by shouting “Dive! Dive!”.
The second ‘part’ of the 2017 USS Grant reunion ended when the ship returned to the port of New Orleans and the USS Grant ‘Cruise’ reunion attendees left the ship to go to their cars to begin their drive home or to board the chartered bus for the airport or the hotel.
Daily Life...we eat, we drink, and in almost all occasions, are merry.
And then we play...
Cozumel, a mostly undeveloped Mexican island in the Caribbean Sea, is a popular cruise ship port of call famed for its scuba diving. At Arrecifes de Cozumel National Park, there's diving spots around a section of the Mesoamerican Reef and the Museo Subacuatico de Arte's submerged sculptures. Chankanaab is an eco park surrounding a lagoon with underwater caverns, home to dolphines, manatees and sea turtles.
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