Please forgive me if this is too long. It was my first cruise and it took a while to write all the things down I wanted to remember.
Saturday - San Juan
San Juan Puerto Rico is a lovely place. The hotel we stayed at was in a section called Coronado along the north coast of Puerto Rico. We walked around the area and along the beach. It was hot and lovely. The area is actually on of the ritzly areas. We ended up at this little place called Place of Angels. We tried native dishes. Most of them I couldn't even name. HAHAHA Everything was wonderful. We ended up the evening at an outdoor lounge call Moorings. I didn't realize until later that the mosquitoes had chewed my legs up. *scratch scratch* When we got back to the room and got into bed, we couldn't get to sleep. I’m TOO EXCITED to sleep. heheheh
Sunday - Launch day from San Juan
We took a cab to the docks and checked in at the dock. We were a bit early but were able to drop off our stuff and wander around Old San Juan. If you love historic cities then this is a must see place. The cobble stones were an amazing blue in color. I've never seen the like. I found out later that many of the stones were ballast (iron) from the many ships that came to the island. These are the forts that we walked to while wandering through Old San Juan. http://www.cr.nps.gov/nr/twhp/wwwlps.../60sanjuan.htm
We wandered all over town looking at the lovely architecture. You are steeped in history here.
We went to Senor Frogs before getting on the boat and had Yards of Margaritas. HAHAHA We wobbled back to the boat and picked up our carry on luggage. We were lured into the Duty Free store and Klaus saw bottles of goodies that he could not pass up. We were told that you can't bring booze on the ship. The guy at the duty free store said put them in your backpack and they never check it. Sure enough... they didn't. We had a closet full of booze. HAHAHA
Our suite was wonderful. Our bag was waiting in our cabin when we got there so we quickly unpacked everything and did some scouting around the ship before dinner. We ate dinner in the Galaxy dining room, we were seated with a nice couple. Come to find out it was their first cruise as well AND they are from Windsor (right across the river). HAHAHAHA So we had much in common to talk about. I had a lovely chicken dish the first night. After dinner we had our safety drill and we pulled away from San Juan at 10pm. We wandered the ship for awhile enjoying the view and the people. We knew we were going to have an early day the next day so we headed back to the cabin around 1am. Most of our traveling on the ship was at night. We were rocked to sleep that night on our way to St. Thomas.
Monday - St. Thomas
We woke up in the morning already docked in St. Thomas. I opened up my curtains to a lovely large bay. We took a cab to a place called coral world right next to coki beach. http://www.coralworldvi.com/
Here's more pictures: http://www.pbase.com/2112/st_thomas_2005
The water was soo clear and in the park I was able to touch star fish and other sea creatures. After the park, we walked to the beach for a swim. The water was so clear and it was amazing how many fish I saw just walking through the water. We showered up after swimming with the fishes. hahaha The salt water makes me itch when I get out of the ocean but I love going in there. We caught a cab back into town. The drive to and from the beach were amazing. Its so lush and green. A short walk from the beach is a tram ride up the side of a mountain called Paradise Point Skyride. Its looks over the bay where the ship was docked. http://www.stthomasskyride.com/
We took in the view which was spectacular and had a beer. We took the skyride down the mountain to the shopping area. I'm not a big shopper but I did want to pick up a few trinkets and t-shirt if I could find one. We had to be back on the ship by 4:30 so we strolled back to the ship to drop off treasures. I say strolled because it was HOT. hahaha No fast walking at all. It was pretty much that for the entire trip. We got back onto the ship and went to the lido deck to watch us sail from port and watch the sun go down. It was spectacular. That first night we went to the dining room for dinner. It was our first night with the people who we would be eating dinner with the rest of the trip. At our table was the same couple from Windsor HAHAHAHA, a couple from further north Canada and a couple from San Francisco on their honeymoon. The conversation flowed and we all got along. Our head waiter, Vladimir, was great. He was very knowledgeable as well as entertaining. Everything looked amazing. I dove into the lobster. MMmmmmm After dinner, we wandered up to the Lido deck (pool area) where they had a big party going on. All of the people were very happy and making fools of themselves. It was great. We hung out on deck until the party ended. We had another early day in Dominica so had to get to bed.
Tuesday - Dominica
Happy Valentine's Day. We woke up in time to watch us pull into port at Dominica. What a magnificent island. It's a volcanic island so it's all mountains and lush forests. This island is not one of the commercial ones with resorts and all of the tourist trappings. You could see how much it was raining at the tops of the mountains from where we were. We purchases our only ship excursion here. We picked the Ariel-tram thought the rainforest. We were able to catch a small breakfast before having to leave on the tour. The ride up to the tram was an adventure in itself. HAHAHA The roads were very narrow and only one vehicle could drive on them at a time. When one van met another, I don't even know how they picked who had the right of way. The roads were etched along the sides of the mountains. When I looked out my window, all I saw was sheer drops down. EKKKKK! hahaha The drivers would honk before every curve because you couldn't see around the corner on the one lane road. We get to the tram (our ears popped) in about 45 minutes or so. We had our own guide in the van who told us all about the history of the island as we made our way up the island. I brought rain ponchos with me and put it on before boarding the tram. Hey.. its a rainforest.. it rains. hehehee The tram sat 8 people, two side by side and the guide in the back. It was amazing how much care they put into constructing this. Little to no harm to the rainforest but then it does grow very quickly. We had to keep our hands in the tram because of how close to the trees we would get. Our guide was so friendly and knowledgeable about all of the flora and fauna. We rode over a huge gorge and saw one of the many rivers. The plants were amazing. We rode through the bottom part of the rainforest on the way up and through the canopy on the way back down. I've always wanted to see this. It was amazing. The ride back down the mountain was just as fun as the ride up. When we got to town we walked through the market place and stopped at this one place to have a local beer and some rum punch.
We boarded the ship and stood on the Lido deck watching us pull away from Dominica and went to the other side of the ship to watch another beautiful sunset. Tonight we had a formal night for dinner so we got all dressed up. For dinner, I had roast duck. OMG! It was so good. We went to one of the shows after dinner. It was a Vegas type show and it was great. After the show, we got changed. I stayed in the casino a bit but I'm not much of a gambler so I went up to the Lido deck to watch all of the fun and listen to the band. I wandered back to my cabin when the band finished playing. I really don't know what time it was. HAHAHA
I realize I haven't spoken much about the ship. I'll give you my impressions of it after I go through all the stuff I did.
Wednesday - Barbados
We were a bit undecided before arriving at Barbados where we would go. We decided to go on a natural cave tour. http://harrisonscave.com
We grabbed a cab just off of the terminal. The cab driver was great. He was very friendly and told us a little about the island as we drove along. Barbados is not a volcanic made island so it is very flat. It actually sits on coral. You ride through the huge cave on an electric tram. It take about 45 minutes to take the whole tour. Harrison's is rated one of the top caves in the world and I saw why. There were natural fresh water streams running through the cave system so there was water everywhere and it rained on us inside the cave. HAHAHA It was truly a magnificent natural wonder. There was a large pool with a water fall that we were able to stand next to and I was able to put my hand out and feel the water. I'll never forget it when the driver showed us how dark a cave can be. We sat in the tram when she turned off the lights and I've never been in anything that dark. Not even the darkest night is not THAT dark. You see absolutely nothing. *shiver* Our cab driver waited for us until we got out of the tour and drove us back to the ship. Every place we've been, the cab drivers had been like this. It didn't cost us any extra but they would always either wait for us or come get us at a particular time that we set. When we got back to the ship it was early so we decided to try to catch one of the booze cruises. That didn't work out so we went to Malibu Beach which is right next to the Malibu Rum plant. We didn't take the tour but ate at a cafe on the beach and went swimming and walking along the surf. The sand was like fine powder. I picked up several pieces of white coral that washed up on the beach. I think Barbados is more on the poor side. There were people all over the place trying to sell you something. The sun was HOT. I spent most of my time in the water. I don't like to bake. We ended up getting a afternoon snack at the cafe. A fish sandwich and this dish called Bajan fish cakes. MMMmmmmmmmm They were spicy and wonderful. After that it was back to the boat to get cleaned up. Every night we watch as we left the docks then watched the sunset into the ocean. Dinner that night was so much fun. The waiters sang and danced for us. HAHAHA I had sea scallops on a very light pasta. MMMmmmmm.. I can't say that I had a bad meal at any time on the ship. We went down to watch the jazz band after dinner. It was sooooo damn cold in there that we only stayed for one set. To warm up, I spent time up on the Lido deck as the party raged on. We knew we could sleep in the next day so I stayed with the party until the band stopped playing then it was off to bed.
Thursday - at sea on the way to Aruba.
I didn't realize that Aruba was only 15 miles from Venezuela which is why it takes so long to get there. We got up and knew we were going to be by the pool most of the day so we took our stuff and headed up to the pool. All of the lounge chairs were claimed around the pool. We found some behind the band under the running track. In hindsight, this was the perfect spot to be. I had shade the whole time and being behind the speakers, I could listen without it being blared in my ears. Through this whole trip, I had been slathering up with 30 SPF and I'm glad I did. OMG!! By the end of the day, people were lobsters who where out there baking in the sun. This day was actually very relaxing. I would read, listen to the band, sip cocktails and get up to watch the goings on over the balcony. They had contests pretty much most of the afternoon. For lunch, they had a mini-buffet of Indian food (Gandi not Geronimo). It was great. In the afternoon, I decided to go down to the lounge for high tea.
I spent some time in the hot tub and the slide was open so you know I had to try that. I got on it and I screamed the whole way down as I was whipped around. I had my hands over my eyes it was so fast and when I hit the bottom I got a snoot full of water. HAHAHAHA The guy in charge of it was laughing so hard. I've never seen anyone do THAT. I came up sputtering and laughing so hard. That night was the next formal dinner. It was also the Grand Gala midnight Buffet. I ate this seafood Newburg that was outstanding. We walked around the ship and I ended up taking a stroll around to the back of the ship and watched them close up the moon pool. At midnight, we walked through the Grand Buffet and took pictures. Everything was made from edible things. If I wasn't so damn full from dinner, I would have dove into the buffet. HAHAHAA Everything was so beautiful. I give the chefs two thumbs up for display. I do have pictures of that as well. After that we knew we would have a early day. We went back to the cabin and sat on the balcony watching the moonlight on the water and had a final cocktail for the evening.
Friday - Aruba
I woke up as we docked in Aruba. I wasn't sure what to expect here with all the news and everything. As soon as they let us out, we caught a cab to this place called Moomba Beach. http://www.moombabeach.com/web_new/index_2.htm
We wanted to catch this snorkle/booze cruise that was located there. Jolly Pirates.. Arrrrrrr http://www.jollypirates.com
We were not part of a large group so we were on the smaller ship going out which was great because the other ship was crowded. Our captain was Jolio http://www.jollypirates.com/crew1.htm
and he really deserved this award. He and his crew were so much fun. They made awesome rum punch (Pirate Poison). We weren't sure about the weather but it cleared up nicely. We went to the first site which was a very easy snorkle site. It took me a minute to remember my scuba lessons on how to breath right. After that I was all over the place. It was amazing. They let us stay there for about 30 minutes then we went to the next stop which was a bit deeper. There was a rope swing off the side of the boat and they let us swing off the side. Jolio swung off the side and did flips. He also took a couple of the girls on his back and swung off to do flips with them. It was great. Of course, you know I had to swing off there. hehehe After all of the swinging fun, we got to snorkle around there as well. Then it was off to our last spot. It was over a sunken WWII freighter. This was a bit further out to sea and was a bit rough. I went right in and the ship was amazing. I did take pictures at all three sites so when I develop them you'll get to see them. The whole time on board the booze flowed freely. We sipped punch and had a nice little BBQ lunch that was brought to us via a little inflatable boat by the ship wreck. After lunch, we sailed back to land. It was a wonderful way to spend part of the day. The whole thing started at 9:30 and we got back to land around 2pm. The cab driver who brought us there said he would meet us back there when the ship came into port since cabs were hard to find there. And when we got there, he was waiting. I can't imagine an american cabby doing this... EVER. We decided to go back to the ship to shower up. The shopping area for Aruba was right off the dock from our ship so we decided to wander around there. Aruba is filled with upscale shopping. I was pretty much interested in little trinkets to bring home. In Aruba, we had a long stay from 8am to 10pm. They were getting ready for Carnival and people had already saved up space on the sidewalks for the parades. You could see the Dutch influence everywhere but this is a very latin island. We stopped at this little cuban place and had a local beer. It was very hot out. We wandered through this resort that was right off the water and there were iguanas everywhere. hahaha We stopped in at this little place to have a snack at 5. I just had chicken fingers because I was still full from the lunch we had on the ship. We didn't plan on having dinner on the ship this day since we were going to be there the longest. We got to our ship to drop off our stuff and went out after sunset. We went to this little place called Cafe Bahia. There was a singer and she was great. We stayed there through one set and then walked around town for a bit before getting back on the ship. As was now our habit, we watched as we pulled away from Aruba. We knew that the next night was going to be at sea so we were going to be up late. I went up on the Lido deck and watched all of the people having fun with their compititions. It was bathrobe party night. Some of the men were wearing their girls bikini's under the robes. OMG!! Men in thong bikinis. I'm sure I wasn't suppose to see everything I did. HAHAHAHA During the voyage I met this guy from Detroit down river area and we would talk for a bit. That night we had a few beers together and watched the other people loose their minds. HAHAHAHA
Saturday - At sea back to San Juan
I woke up to the gentle sway of the ocean. It was our last day. We went up on deck to claim our chairs. Today the wind was brisk where we picked out seats and I was cold. We decided to spend part of the time wandering the ship and exploring. There was a debriefing for all of us on the procedures we had to follow to get off the ship the next day. It was mostly information but partly comedy act. One couple got a prize and were from Michigan. They happened to be sitting next to us for the briefing. I guess they had so much champagne all ready. They gave us one of the bottles they got at a prize. For lunch we went to the buffet. We hadn't been on it the whole trip. It was outstanding. I had veal tidbits with a side of rice, a fried chicken leg, bread and a small cesear salad. MMmmmmmm In the afternoon, we found a spot on the Lido deck and warmed up then spent some time packing and enjoying our balcony sipping the champagne we were given. That night before dinner there was a magic show and the guy was really good. Dinner was great as usual and the waiters sang to us. I had seafood pasta this night one of my all time favorites. All of us at the table lingered over dinner. We traded emails. After dinner, I went up and changed my shoes and went to the bars on the ship that I hadn't had the opportunity to go to before this. I sat at the piano bar and sang along with the group then popped into the disco. I danced for a while then headed up to the Lido deck for one last look before heading back down to the cabin.
Sunday - San Juan.... sigh...
We woke up docked in San Juan. I was trying to think of some way to barricade myself in my cabin so I wouldn't have to leave. HAHAHAHA I couldn't believe how fast it went. We watched along the side from our balcony as a refuel ship came along side to get her ready for the next people. We had already filled out our customs forms. There really wasn't much to declare. After we got off the ship, we found a place to store our luggage so we could walk around Old San Juan. We wanted to go to the other point of the Fort that we hadn't seen before. It was just amazing. The fields leading up to the Fort from the town was alive with people jogging and families flying kites. All kinds of kites with brilliant colors. The Fort guarded the entrance to the bay and you could feel the history all around you. We found out that the Bacardi plant was right across the bay. One of the park rangers stopped by us and told us the history of a little stretch of land on the other point from the Fort. It was the leper colony. O_O He also told us the best way to get over to the plant. Old San Juan is all hill. We were walking up and down all morning. HAHAHA We wandered back down to the bay and caught the local public ferry across the bay for $1 and caught a cab for $3 a piece to the Barcardi plant. It was very cool. The tour was free and they gave you two free drinks. This was the cheapest thing we did ALL trip. HAHAHAHA The tour was detailed and amazing. After the tour and getting back to Old San Juan, we stopped in at Carlos and Charlies to grab a late lunch. I had a chicken chimmi but the fajitas were so much better. Yummmmm We picked up our luggage and headed back to the hotel. This one wasn't too far from the other place we stayed at so we knew the area. My feet were killing me from the workout I gave them in the morning. I wore comfortable shoes but they don't usually see this much action. We relaxed at the hotel and decided to go out for a bit after the sun went down. We ended up at the same little place we were before. People started wandering in and we would over hear conversations. Come to find out, most of us had come off of the same ship. *LMAO* We all talked about who was flying back to where and when. The guy behind the bar was making killer drinks. He made this very tasty Sangria that was not the normal wine and fruit mix. I'll have to try it at home. We had one final authentic dish between us and headed back to the hotel. I didn't want to leave.
Monday - Back to reality
We got up and took a cab to the airport. It was going to be a long day in the air. We left San Juan at 10:15am and arrived in Detroit at 8:30pm with lots of time changes and miles. By the time we got home it was getting right into bed since we had to get up for work the next day. We didn't even unpack.
Let's talk about the ship.....
It is a huge ship. Since I knew I was going to be eating my fair share, I actually spend more time taking the stairs between decks then not. By the end of the trip, my feet were getting pretty tired so I would take the elevators if it was more then three floors either way. The hallways through the cabins were just like any other hotel but I did get to peek into other cabins while the stewards were cleaning up. I'm VERY happy with my suite. The inside cabins looked very tiny with no windows. I realize that I'm totally spoiled by my first trip. Getting dressed for dinner was always a nice ritual. Dinner was at a set time and if you got there a little early you had to wander around a bit to wait to get in. Convienently located next to the dining room are the walls of pictures. You got your picture taken at EVERY port getting of the ship at multiple stations. They had photographers at both formal dinners taking pictures at the table and there were more photographers taking pictures with all kinds of different backgrounds. People could have 6-9 different formal sittings for pictures if they wanted to in one night. O_O We only did ONE. I'll be the first to admit. I do not, in general, take good pictures. We did pick out two pictures from the trip that we thought were the best of the lot.
I thought our cabin was in a great spot. I over heard some people complaining about the temp in thier cabin but ours always seemed just right. Only one night I got to use the jacuzzi tub. HAHAHA Just down the hall was the staircase and elevators. Going up two flights was the Lido deck. Going forward and down from our cabin was the dining room. The large atrium by the dining room was all lit up and the floors were marble. It was a bit of a hike to get all the way around the ship on the upper decks. Unlike being on the Titanic. The very tip of the front of the ship is not open to the public so there were no "I'm the king of the WORLD." moments to be had. HAHAHA The back of the ship was square and there was a retractable roof over the pool and two jacuzzi's. I watched them close it one night and it was cool to see. At the very top of the ship, there was a small topless deck. I never did go up there. During the days at sea there were just too many other things to do and I'm not one to lay out and bake much to begin with.
I didn't meet one crew member that wasn't very friendly and wished me a good day. My cabin steward was great. He always kept the ice bucket full and made the most amazing towel critters. They were always sitting on the bed before getting ready for dinner. HAHAA you know I took pictures of them.
Our head waiter, Vladamir was a young blond god from Slovenia. He was very funny and did his job fantastic. Our dinner was always great and never late. One night at dinner several of the waiters did a backstreet boys routine. HAHAHA They were great.
At the first night at dinner, the dining rooms were split into three teams(Red, White and Blue). My table was on the Blue team. Every night the matre de would report on how many points each team earned that day so far. All of the competitions through out the day and night were between people on the three separate teams. It was a riot. People where carrying these wooden ponies on a stick which they decorated with various stuff and carried those damn things everywhere. So whenever you saw the pony with your color you yelled out. GO BLUEEEE! hahaha And thats how you cheered for your team. When we got back and were sitting at that little place in San Juan after we all realized we were from the ship... GO BLUEE.. GO WHITE!!! HAHAHA Come to find out the Blue team won the competition.
I'm very glad we didn't buy bunches of tours through the ship. They ended up being very expensive and we did save money doing it on our own but I can understand why people would be intimidated by it. One of the things I was always on top of was making sure I was back around the ship in plenty of time before departure. The ship WILL leave without you. We heard through the ship gossip vine that one couple did get left in Barbados. They got trashed and fell asleep on the beach and didn't wake up in time to get back on the boat. They had to fly to Aruba from there and catch the ship.
On the Lido deck, there were guys serving up people drinks everywhere. I swear this is how they really make their money. Drink prices are pretty much the same as if you would buy them at a club or bar. We had our own stash but still ended up paying a hefty bar bill but then I expected it so I wasn't surprised.
The last subject.. I swear... REALLY HAHAHAHA. Food.... *burp* You can litereally eat 24 hours a day on board. No wonder people say they gain at least 10 pounds on a cruise. I gained two pounds but then I didn't indulge in everything they had to offer. There were the three main meals a day. Breakfast lasted until noon then lunch lasted until around 4. Main dinner was at what ever time your sitting was but you didn't have to miss out. The buffet dinner was open from 5 to 9:30. The pizza station was open 24 hours and on the lido deck there were hamburgers and hotdogs from 8pm to 11:30pm. *groan* The ice cream machine was on ALL the time. On the Lido deck, they would have mini buffet that features foods from around the world. I tasted Indian one day, Thai one day and mexican another day. The Grand Buffet I've already mentioned before. They only did one of these on this trip but I've heard that they use to do this every night in the past. I can only imagine and feel bloated. HAAHAHA From what I saw, you could dine any way you want. fancy, not fancy.. room service.. any junk you wanted. I usually snacked on a little something for breakfast on the Lido deck. They had scrambled eggs, toast, sausage, bacon, french toast, waffles, omelets, fruit, cereal and yogart. Just image what the serve at the BIG buffet and in the dining room. HAHAHAHA The pig in me wanted to belly up. The sane part of my brain wanted to fit in my pants when I got off the boat. :P~~~~~~ Oh the humanity. I did see people who never stopped eating and in the back of my mind.... I wanted to as well. *LMAO*