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Archive for April, 2013

Other than the sea day, I think this is the only day we didn’t set an alarm. We slept in, had breakfast in the main dinning room so we could get mimosas and didn’t get off the boat till after 10am. Our plan for the day was to just have a relaxing day at the beach. St Kitts is very beautiful, but it was so hot and the sun was so intense! When we got to the beach around 11am the sand was already too hot to walk barefoot on unless you were just running a few steps into the water. We stayed at the beach for a few hours and then we headed back to the port for shopping and some drinks, followed by snacks and rides on the water slide back on the boat. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel too well this night either (this was definitely too much sun and heat) and I skipped dinner again. This is also the night that we discovered that one application of sunscreen and staying in the shade is not enough under the southern Caribbean sun – as the night went on Brad’s back got redder and redder and he ended up having to have a wet towel on his back to be comfortable enough to sleep!

Beach on St Kitts

Beach on St Kitts

The Valor at port

The Valor at port

Pulling out to sea

Pulling out to sea

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Next was St. Lucia, which ended up being my favorite day of the whole cruise. St. Lucia has 2 volcanic peaks that are known as the Pitons. You can hike up the larger one, Gros Piton (the smaller one is too rocky – you need climbing equipment for that) We had originally planned on hiking Gros Piton, but after working out the timing, it just didn’t seem feasible with the time we had in port, so we decided to look at other options. We ended up booking a private boat tour – we were originally told it would be a 42′ yacht, but when they picked us up it was on an enormous catamaran. That was fine with us – it was huge, had plenty of seating and the main area had covered roof (at this point the intense sun was getting to us). It was awesome to have our own boat (only 4 of us went on this – the others went horseback riding). It had a 3 man crew and they were great and very knowledgeable. They took us whale watching for awhile; we saw pilot whales, they look pretty much like dolphins, but it was amazing to see them out in the ocean. And then we sailed along the island towards the Pitons, snorkeled, drank, talked and relaxed – it was a great day and I feel like I could have stayed on that boat forever! That evening, just as we were setting sail, there was a bit of rain and when it stopped we were treated to a double rainbow! That night at dinner was our “birthday” night – out of the 7 of us, there are 4 with March birthdays, so we got cheesecake with candles and the waiters sang happy birthday!

The Pitons

The Pitons

Sailing along

Sailing along

Restaurant built on mangove trees

Restaurant built on mangove trees

Veiw from our balcony, just before the rain

Veiw from our balcony, just before the rain

Rainbow!

Rainbow!

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The next day was our sea day, and oddly after being sick the night before, I felt great for most of the day. We did lots of relaxing in the sun, ate a bunch of food, took naps. I think this is the day we discovered that there were beanbag toss contests on the sports deck – the guys had a lot of fun at those. That night was our first formal dinner night and we had lots of fun taking pictures all dressed up. After dinner, despite being totally stuffed, I had my favorite drink on the ship, the Mocha Chocolate Getaway – basically a chocolate, coffee milkshake with alcohol – yummy! We tried out the piano bar for a bit that night, but it wasn’t as much fun as the one at home (too much country, not enough rousing singalong songs)

The next morning we woke up early to have breakfast before heading out on our excursion on Barbados – catamaran cruise and snorkeling. I loved sailing on the catamaran – the wind felt great and I was totally enamored with the flying fish that we kept seeing. We also got rum punch (this seems to be a theme everywhere you go) I had never snorkeled before (but I did do snuba on our last cruise) so I was a little nervous, but it ended up being really fun. At our first stop we got to see the turtles, so cool – they don’t seem bothered by the people at all – just swimming around, checking things out. Next they took us to a coral reef. Saw lots of very cool fish and coral. I really enjoyed this part – I loved just swimming around, seeing what I could see. After that we shopped (I found a cool flying fish ornament!) and went back to the boat for a late lunch. I spent a bit of time watching all the cool equipment working in the port (yes, I’m an engineering nerd, even on vacation) but this is one thing that is really different about Barbados – the port is not pretty, it is very industrial and there isn’t much in the way of a good view.

Mocha Chocolate Getaway!

Mocha Chocolate Getaway!

The Valor in Barbados

The Valor in Barbados

Equipment in the port in Barbados

Equipment in the port in Barbados

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On our first morning on the boat I woke up a little after 7am and we were already docked in St. Thomas! This was probably my only real disappointment with this trip (and it is so minor that it barely matters) but last year I really enjoyed having coffee on our balcony in the morning and watching us dock, but this year we got in so early every day that I never really got to do that. I did get to go up on the deck and watch the Adventure of the Seas dock behind us. They had left San Juan shortly before the Valor, so we must have passed them somewhere in the night (2 ships passing in the night, hmmm) Anyway, our plan for the day was to head to St. John and go to Trunk Bay. It is kind of an adventure to get there – you take a cab to a ferry to another cab, and “straight” and “flat” are never words you would use to describe roads on either of these islands. Steep, twisty, narrow, crazy, all apply. There are wacky things like stop lights right at the top of super steep hills – I kept waiting for us to end up going backwards! But once we made it there, Trunk Bay was amazing. The sand is so soft and the water so blue – one of the prettiest places I’ve ever been. After a few hours at the beach we took the ferry back to St Thomas to go to a place called Duffy’s where every drink comes in a souvenir glass. I had some blended chocolate banana thing that came in a “hear no evil” monkey. I really wanted to get the “see no evil” and “speak no evil” ones, but that would have been way too many drinks! We met some other cruisers from the Valor while we were at Duffy’s and then seemed to see them everywhere – weird how on a boat that big you can see the same people over and over. Unfortunately, I was kind of sea sick that night (maybe too much sun and drinking, too?) and skipped dinner to sleep. Everyone else stayed up late – took some crazy pictures, did karaoke, sad I missed it 😦

Early morning view of St. Thomas

Early morning view of St. Thomas

Our first view of Trunk Bay

Our first view of Trunk Bay

Trunk Bay

Trunk Bay

Me and my monkey drink

Me and my monkey drink

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We went on this cruise with a couple we are friends with, B&C, a co-worker of C’s and 2 friends of the co-worker. Our ship departed from San Juan, Puerto Rico on St. Patrick’s day, so we flew into San Juan on Saturday morning (direct flight, yay!) and made it to our hotel by the early afternoon. We took at walk to the beach, got caught in a brief rain shower, ate a late lunch and had some yummy beverages. Then we headed back to the hotel for the free happy hour (with rum punch!) and some pool and hot tub time. After showers and naps, we had dinner at the hotel’s onsite restaurant: Outback Steakhouse…

The next morning we had breakfast and then packed up to head for the port and got checked in at our ship. They told us it would be about another hour before anyone could board, but the port is in Old San Juan and we wanted to do a some exploring! Old San Juan is very pretty, all the buildings are colonial Spanish style, painted pastels and surrounded by lush greenery and flowers, lots of narrow streets paved with bricks. But walking around the city it was hot, so, so so hot!! I had a few highlights of the city I wanted to see – 2 forts and the cathedral. We made it as far as the cathedral (beautiful!) before we split into 2 groups – those that would fight the heat and keep going and those that would do some shopping in air conditioned stores. I personally think the shoppers missed out – once we made it up to the first fort, El Morro, we were met with a nice breeze and beautiful views. The fort was amazing, it is all the way out on a point and has a huge park leading up to it, filled with people flying kites. I was so impressed with the kite fliers, I’ve never seen kites so high! We also got to see people running the Iron Man – the route went right by the fort. Though by the time we saw them, it was less running and more slow plodding through the heat – it did not look fun! By the time we were done wandering around the park and the fort, we were pretty beat and hungry, so we skipped more exploring in favor of meeting the rest of our group back on the boat. We found everyone, had lunch on the boat, checked out our rooms and then we headed out into the city again for some drinks – first at Senior Frogs and then at a local place we found by wandering around. We got back on the boat around 7pm, had dinner around 8 and were on the deck for setting sail at 10. It was really cool to set sail at night – the views are neat, they encourage everyone to come out on the deck and have a DJ playing music, getting everyone to dance, and photographers taking “sail away” pictures (I actually bought the one of us!) – it was a very fun atmosphere, but we all were so tired from the heat and the sun (and maybe the alcohol) that I think we all were in bed before midnight!

Streets of Old San Juan

Streets of Old San Juan

View from El Morro

View from El Morro

View of El Morro

View of El Morro

The ship at night

The ship at night

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