Updated Monday, May 05, 2014
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Western Caribbean then Eastern Caribbean Day 1 - Saturday, March 15, 2014 - Englewood and Ft.
Jamaica, Grand Cayman, Key West, Grand Turk, San Juan, St. Thomas, Half Moon Cay
The weather was terrific, 82 to 86 degrees every day with sun every day.
Brenda getting ready for our trip, packing the suitcase!
Brenda and I drove to Englewood, Florida to visit and go out to eat with Dan and Missy. Seated next to the water was perfect and enjoyed our time with them catching up on things, during an excellent lunch of melt in your mouth Grouper Rubin dinner at a local restaurant.
Western Caribbean then Eastern Caribbean
Day 1 - Saturday, March 15, 2014 - Englewood and Ft.
Continuing on to Fort Lauderdale (it was Spring Break time), we stayed the night at Rodeway Inn & Suites (954-792-8181). It is just on the west end of the bridge before going over to the island where the cruise ship port is. The "Stay, Park and Cruise" package that they have is great! They even had breakfast and a lift over to the port and back when we got home on the 30th. The night's stay was noisy due to the AC running, but heck, the room was essentially free as we were going to park there for 15 days - the port cost for parking was that expensive!
Day 2 - Sunday, March 16 - Ft. Lauderdale and at sea.
A full serve yourself breakfast and out to the very busy
hotel front. People and luggage were scattered everywhere waiting to be called
to their shuttle to get to the correct Ship! We got to the Eurodam in time to
meet Brenda's daughter Andrea on the gangway.
Day 3 - Monday, March 17 St. Patrick's Day - at sea
Half Moon Cay. The ship arrived at the island first thing in the
morning but the wind was too strong to anchor, tender boats were bobbing like
toys, so we waved goodbye. Breakfast
with Brenda and Andrea on the Lido Deck. Thus, we had a sea day on the way to
Andrea met us at 9:45 in the Crow's nest, a very stately library, game room, bar, coffeehouse of huge windows spanning the very front of the boat and down both sides of the room. Then went down to see the Recycled Percussion show at the beautiful main stage, above. These guys were quite energetic!
We kept up the five flights of stair climbing all day!
Day 4 - Tuesday, March 18 - at sea
Up and breakfast, then Kitchen Tour.
Andrea caught us on video as we went by! We then went to the Queen's Lounge to Dance With The Stars, we danced the Cha Cha, a lot of fun.
Andrea invited us to see the ships bridge!!!!!!!!!! What a treat!
Looking down through the glass floor on the ends of the bridge......................the EASY button!
Brenda got the CAPTAIN's chair!
Looking out over the ocean.
Brenda at one of the many computer screens. This ship works all by itself, except for docking! We went on the private tour of the bridge as Andrea snagged us a tour with the crew to see the huge bridge! I asked about the reason we failed to stop at Half Moon Cay - "the winds were so strong that the anchor would not have held" was the answer. We discussed the grounding of the ship Concordia - "that ship had drifted to shore, not motored there, the captain of that ship should be going to jail for thirty years for his actions" was the response.
Off to play golf, Brenda beat all of us and got a pin for getting the ball onto the green, she got it right in the center!
Lunch at 11:30 was a Collectors Voyage Lunch, then at 3PM the Royal Dutch Tea! Evening meal was formal with new friends, then down to the night's entertainment: Tableaux.
Again we kept up the five flights of stair climbing all day!
Day 5 - Wednesday, March 19 - Jamaica
Andrea kept us busy first thing mounting the photos that she had developed the
Then exited the ship in Jamaica!!
The ship in Jamaica.
PROSPECT PLANTATION, CAMEL SAFARI and DUNN'S RIVER FALLS!!!
The tour of Prospect Plantation included a stop
at the main house. In front of the house is a mahogany tree planted by Winston
I asked the security guard if we could find a branch that I could use to make a pen out of. We looked around and did not find any. So, the security guard climbed up on the wagon and broke off a branch! He then sat down on the ground and trimmed off the small twigs with his knife for me. I now can make a pen from the tree! Below is me holding the branch and on the right is the resultant pen!
Brenda then had a fun experience, a native was demonstrating how to climb up a coconut tree and asked for a volunteer to try it.
Brenda volunteered. There were two notched foot holds to use, and then she stayed there for the photo and jumped back off. Now the Jamaican started up the tree, placing his feet perfectly in front of him, upon the tree's trunk and braced his hands upon the other side, making a V to increase the force of his feet on the tree. Immediately he shimmied up the tall Coconut Palm tree with agile speed. Upon seeing this, Brenda could not resist another try... and as the Guide and the group went across the path, she sprang onto the side of the tree trying to duplicate what she had observed. Gaining about two more feet up than before, she decided that was good as it as going to get,..,she started back down and, stepping backwards to the ground, caught her foot upon a tree root and fell gracefully to the ground several feet back. SPLASH! Right into a wet spot in the red sticky mud.
Of course I did not get that photo! But off we went...Andrea was a little perturbed that she had to write a report on the incident, but Brenda thought that it was funny!
Next we went to where they kept camels! The guide told us that there used to be camels in Jamaica 200 years ago but they had died out.
The guide said that he went to the airplane to accept the 20 camels that they had shipped over a few years ago.
The baby (lower camel above right) wanted in on everything!
The camels were looking at the camera!
Dunn's River Falls
Andrea took us down to the ocean, then we started up the falls.
My left foot went down into a 3 foot deep hole and I skinned my right knee, but continued. Andrea was very agile and scampered up the falls, Brenda and I were more cautious and were slower. It was great fun though (and Brenda got most of the mud out of her clothes!).
Back to the ship for a shower and a great meal, dancing and entertainment - a magician!
We only did three flights of stair climbing this day, too tired after such an active day!
Day 6 - Thursday, March 20 - Georgetown, Grand Cayman
STINGRAY CITY SANDBAR CRUISE and HELL
Andrea, Brenda, and I caught a bus to the north side
of the island. We got onto a boat and set off for Stingray City lying a few
miles off of the north coast. As soon as we got anchored, off the stern we went.
The sting rays were all around us! They brushed against our legs as they cruised
past. We were able to pet them when the boat captain and mate picked them up. I
also held one for a while! The plastered them up on us! The water was as clear
After playing for a while we climbed aboard for the ride back. As we approached the dock, the captain pointed out that there were iguana's on the banks! They were all over!
The three of us got back to where the ship was docked and Brenda and I decided to grab a cab to go see the town of Hell as Andrea needed to go back to work. The cab we selected had a wonderful lady driver that took us up to the town and told us stories of living there in Grand Cayman, and bringing up her kids there.
There were no other tourists when we got to Hell, so we played around a bit, I picked up a stick from which to make more pens...on the right the pen from Hell!
Then back to the shops. I bought a seahorse sculpture and a necklace and bracelet for Brenda!
A cabin with a window had become free on Deck 1! More stairs now! Eight flights to climb for meals!
I tried the "Casino Vault", a game where you try to move a "key" to the point where it would go through a hole and you win $500. I usually only spend $20 when I go to a casino but I only spent $17 before giving up. They have it rigged I think.
Entertainment was great!
We dressed for dinner too!
Day 7 - Friday, March 21 - at sea
Again we met Andrea for breakfast, then went to the "Dancing
with the Stars at Sea" and learned the Samba.
In the afternoon we went to the "Indonesian Tea Ceremony"!
They had tea and deserts as well as
Back to hiking the stairs most of the time. I ate only seafood almost every meal all week, but we both felt that we had put on weight - ice cream and cookies or other deserts four times a day!
Evening meal was formal with new friends.
Then down to the night's entertainment: Sound Stage. The light panels they have are awesome!
Day 8 - Saturday, March 22 - Key West
First thing in the morning Andrea, Brenda and I had a
wonderful breakfast together, then we went down to hang
the night's production by Andrea.
Then off to see the town. Andrea wanted to take us to some costume shops and out to lunch a a real Cuban cafe. I wanted to go to the Hemingway house, so off we went to see the town. First to pose at the southern end of US 1.
The Hemingway home was the same as ever, especially the huge pool. I had not seen the loft where he wrote, it was very, very nice.
We then went off to the shops,
the costumes were awesome.
At one shop we met Paul Watson of The Sea Shepherds -
"ECO-WARRIORS", Eco Terrorist? Eco Pirate? Whatever, they have
several films out regarding their exploits, we watched one, he surely is aggressive. Paul is
wanted by Interpol,
but he did not seem to be worried. He purchased a girl's costume and had
his photo taken with the owner of the store. Click below to see more about Paul:
Andrea took us to lunch at Ochi Cafe (124 DUVAL STREET) where we had a great meal of pork and plantains
where Brenda took photographs of an interesting cat with the greenest eyes.
It was not a six toed cat like those at the Hemingway House. Andrea went back to work. We walked around, shopping.
A famous landmark......................................................Someone's idea of Key West
We purchased a glass figurine from the glass blower in the market there.
Then had to recreate a statue:
Back to the ship for dinner
and the show: Dancing with the Stars at Sea Finale
They had quite a show spotlighting seven passengers dancing, the judges were so
Brenda and Andrea posed for me!
Day 9 - Sunday, March 23 - Fort Lauderdale
So ended our 2019 mile Western Caribbean cruise in Ft.
Lauderdale and began
Eastern Caribbean cruise. BB King Blues Club came aboard.
The Mainstage was set up with food and drinks for us and we stayed there for an hour while they cleared the ship, then went to the Lido for lunch with Andrea.
At 3:15 we had the mandatory lifeboat drill.
We went up on deck to see what was going on onshore.
Brenda tried her hand at dancing.
The casino was undergoing some changes, sensors under the
Blackjack table tops?????
Underway again, and off to another adventure. I noticed the clouds in the sky out the cabin window were going the wrong way about 6 PM. Captain Henk Keijer came over the loudspeaker soon after to say that a jet ski was sighted with a person in the water, we were turning around to assist. Brenda grabbed her camera and got a shot of one of the two boats in the vicinity that were headed away from us.
We were about 11 miles out to sea. Brenda then took
photos of what looked like a person in the water wearing a life vest, but we looked carefully at her
photos, it was a bunch of balloons! There was another bunch of balloons flying
by at the same time! I think that the balloons spelled out Happy Birthday, one
part not shown was the Happy part, the photo above was of the BIRTHDAY (the
"R", "Y" and "H" are easily visible with the
"I" sticking out and other letters in the clump). Nothing else was found and we went on our way.
Dinner was excellent as usual, and then on to the evening's entertainment, a lady comedian from Portland, Maine : Julie Barr.
Day 10 - Monday, March 24 - At sea
Rainbows in the mist from the waves created by the wake of the ship on this beautiful day!
Pretty Andrea working hard.
while Brenda and I played!
And ate treats at afternoon tea.
Brenda saved a couple of pieces for Andrea.
Off to the library to do some research on the next islands we were going to. Then getting dressed for formal night at dinner.
Day 11 - Tuesday, March 25 - Grand Turk
Fun in the sun, we are off to snorkel!
We found a spot!
Got off our clothes and got ready.
On our way back we saw several of the horses and mules that run loose around the island!
Back onboard ship we changed clothes!
The night's entertainment was a juggler extraordinaire!
There is a juggler in there somewhere!
To see what Mike does click below!
Day 12 - Wednesday, March 26 - Puerto Rico
As we motored along toward Puerto Rico, the ship scared up flying fish. The Masked Boobie and the Brown Boobie used this to help them get a free meal!
Brown Boobie got this one!
The Brown Booby (Sula leucogaster) is a large seabird of the booby family, Sulidae. The Booby's head and upper body (back) is covered in dark brown or black, with the remainder (belly) being a contrasting white. The juvenile form is gray-brown with darkening on the head, wings and tail. While these birds are typically silent, bird watchers have reported occasional sounds similar to grunting or quacking. Their beaks are quite sharp and contain many jagged edges. They have short wings and long, tapered tails. They also are spectacular divers, plunging into the ocean at high speed. They mainly eat small fish or squid which gather in groups near the surface and may catch leaping fish while skimming the surface. We had fun photographing them! The Juvenile Brown Boobie is the darker one.
The Masked Booby (Sula dactylatra) is a large seabird of the booby family, Sulidae.
Beginning his dive...................................................splash and swim down
Up he pops, missed that time:
This time he got a flying fish!.....................................................................And here he tosses it!
But this guy got a good one:
Boobies hunt fish by diving from a height into the sea and pursuing their prey underwater. They have a number of adaptations which enable them to do this:
Boobies can dive from a height of 100 feet, achieving speeds of 60 mph as they strike the water, enabling them to catch fish much deeper than most airborne birds.
At 11:30 we went in for the Collectors Lunch and received two more clay tiles!
The pilot boat came out to guide us in by the fort in Puerto
The town of San Juan. The city/port was originally called the Port of Rico - Puerto Rico but the ambiguous use of San Juan Bautista and Puerto Rico for both the city and the island led to a reversal in practical use by most inhabitants: by 1746, the name for the city (Puerto Rico) had become that of the entire island, while the name for the Island (San Juan Bautista) had become the name for the city.
Then off the ship to see the Fort at Puerto Rico!
The girls had fun!
Andrea took us to a neat place for dinner across the street from this:
Layers of plantain instead of pasta in lasagna!
Then the walk back to the ship.
Day 13 - Thursday, March 27 - St. Thomas
On the way into port we saw this frigate
Our greeter as we got off the ship:
We decided to take the Sky Ride to the top of the mountain instead of walking or taking a cab..
Brenda took this fantastic photo of a Green-Throated Carib Hummingbird (on the left) and my photo of the Antillean Crested Hummingbird (right):
I had never seen a hummingbird with a crest before, he was so fast it was hard to get any photo of him!
Below are honey eaters!
Bananaquit (Coereba flaveola)
The best daiquiris in the world, the one and only drink we had on the trip!!
Down on the ground we hailed a taxi to take us to town, the driver recommended Gladys' Cafe for lunch.
There we had goat, macaroni and cheese, rice, plantains, and white sweet potato!
Back to the ship for dinner.
BB King Crew was the entertainment.
Day 14 - Friday, March 28 - At sea
12 noon we were invited to a Mariner Society Lunch, but decided to eat with Andrea on the Lido Deck.
Afternoon tea as usual and had a quiet day.
Below is one of the many cabana's that people can rent:
Formal evening at dinner.
Our companion at night:
Day 15 - Saturday, March 29 - Half Moon Cay
I got to play chess with another passenger, I won!
Day 16 - Sunday, March 30 - Fort Lauderdale - Everglades City and HOME
Getting off of the ship and waiting for our ride back to the hotel.
Stopped to have lunch on US 41 on the way home, alligator bites!!
A fantastic airboat ride!
A Snail Kite with a snail for lunch in the beak (left) and in the left foot (right).
The Snail Kite is a locally endangered species in the Florida Everglades, with a population of less than 400 breeding pairs, we were lucky to see these I guess. The changing elevations of the water have messed up the amount of snails: as the snails go, so do the birds.
A Great Blue out over the Everglades.
A series of huts out on the Everglades.
A fun statue in one of the huts.
A Great Blue looking around!
Back on the road, the sign says "Wildlife on the Road"...................and here they were, fighting over a scrap of meat!
Below are photos taken along the edge of US41! There is a canal all along the road, animals and birds galore.
Great Egret...............female Anhinga
We also saw an unfortunate 8 foot alligator, the Black Vultures now have enough food for the summer here.
Then Brenda cried out "The studio of Clyde Butcher!" Brenda and I have always admired the work of "today's Ansel Adams" but we never expected to see Clyde Butcher himself!
Mr. Butcher is seldom at his studio, but on the day we passed by he happened to be there giving an interview out in the Everglades!
We spent time viewing his amazing work, then walked through his small piece of the Everglades behind his studio.
A butterfly............................................................................................. with an interesting soccer ball for an eye!
Huge air plants.
Suddenly Clyde Butcher appeared!
Brenda had purchased some of his art and he autographed it for her!
We left and continued through the Everglades. Another Kite!
This was a Swallow-tailed Kite. It was eating a mouse (below left) while he was
flying around! It slowly disappeared down his gullet.
Isis is said in Ancient Egyptian mythology to have taken the form of a kite in various situations in order to resurrect the dead. I do not think that the mouse is coming back though.
And we then "flew" on home, having had an exciting, wonderful, refreshing, delightful, unexpected, restful, thrilling vacation!
THANK YOU ANDREA!