Just before Christmas, the director of the mission organization for which Matt serves as chairman of the board called us. He was putting together a pastors retreat cruise for pastors with whom the ministry works in Eastern Kentucky. These overworked ministers needed to get away from the pressures of life for a few days, and a travel agent helped get a great deal on a cruise out of Mobile, Alabama, to Progreso and Cozumel in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico. The ministry invited Matt to come along to sing and speak on the retreat (and bring Amy, of course). So that's how we found ourselves traveling south on a chilly January day, heading toward sand, sun, and waves!
On the bus ride from the motel to the port
First view of our ship - the Carnival Fantasy
Getting ready to head up the gangplank
On board our first cruise ship!
Overlooking the city of Mobile
Exploring the ship
It was still a little chilly in Mobile - in the 40s the day we boarded.
Gathering for a Sunday morning church service - in the Cleopatra Piano Bar & Lounge :-)
Matt sings for the Sunday morning church service
Prof Lauter, director of New Hope International Ministries, brings the morning message.
Sunnin' in our Sunday duds
Still a little windy and chilly, though.
Pastor David, head of the church planting ministry we support in Eastern Kentucky, leads in singing in the Sunday afternoon session.
Look at that beautiful blue water.
Preparing to view the sunset
If you look closely, you can see the sliver of the moon and a star high above.
Progreso - our first port
Off the boat with our friend and former student, Cassie
Our excursion for the day was a 2-hour bus drive to Chichen Itza, the famous Mayan ruins and one of the wonders of the ancient world.
The Pyramid of Kukulcán
Clapping in front of the pyramid creates an echo that sounds like the call of the quetzal bird, which made the Mayans believe that their applause was being received by their god Quetzalcuatl.
The Temple of the Warriors, featuring a statue of a chacmool
The Venus Platform
Carving of an eagle eating a human heart
Carving of a jaguar eating a human heart
The tzompantli - Skull Platform
The Great Ball Court
Our trusty guide, Felipe, demonstrates the echo effects at the ball court.
Carvings along the Great Ball Court depicting winners and losers
Snake statue that runs along the Great Ball Court
The end of the Ball Court
If you look closely, you can see a "Mayan chicken" - an iguana.
Our friends Freddy and Cassie went with us on the Chichen Itza excursion.
Temple of Warriors
Getting back on our cruise ship after the day at Chichen Itza
One of the towel animals left by our cabin crew
Amy enjoys breakfast on the blue waters of the Caribbean.
Second day ashore - Cozumel
Our excursion in Cozumel was to swim with the dolphins at the Dolphinaris resort. We couldn't take any pictures when we were with the dolphins (because they want to sell you professional photos at $30 each), so you'll have to settle for the following shots and videos of the resort.
The peaceful sounds of dolphins playing
Dolphin playing ball
Dolphins waving and clapping
Fountain in Plaza Cozumel
Saying goodbye to Mexico as we board the ship one last time for the return trip north.
This great photo of the sunset in our wake was taken by our friend Charlie.
The bow of the ship
Gathering at another retreat session where Matt would speak
Enjoying our last day at sea
Our final retreat session
Matt sings as we prepare to take communion together.
The New Hope/KMHA pastors retreat cruise participants - a great bunch of people
Our wonderful servers who brought us delicious dinners each night
I have no idea what this is, but it disturbs me.
And alas, we have to get off the ship and head back north to 30-degree temps. :-(