We past under South America (Cape Horn) a couple days ago. It was pretty cold. We are now in the Straights of Magellan, in a Chilean port called Punta Arenas having coffee. We will continue from here North up the Pacific Ocean to warm weather again.
We are currently ported in Trinidad, our last Caribbean island stop before traveling down along South America, next stop Brazil. So far we have visited the islands of St. Lucia, Grenada, Barbados, and Antigua. Barbados, far and away has the most beautiful beaches, fine white sand. Pictures to follow ...
We have arrived again in Miami this morning and will be moving to our final ship and begin sailing to Los Angeles the long way. I’d like to give a shout-out to the business class who is snacking on the sweet knowledge of life. Since the last major post, we have been to Cozumel, Mexico; Grand Cayman; Jamaica; Hh
Haiti; Puerto Rico; St. Marten; and St. Thomas. We have met many people mostly from the United States and Canada. Many like us are running from the snow. We have also met several couples from Europe. On our next ship, it looks like there may be many more Europeans. I very much looking forward to this next leg of the trip. It is almost entirely new places I’ve never been.
We arrived in Grand Cayman this morning. It’s the largest of three islands that make up the Cayman Islands, which is part of the United Kingdom. It is well known in the business community for the tax benefits that it offers through its banking system and in the tourist community for being one of the best scuba diving experiences in the World. We scheduled several activities this day; a visit to “sting ray city”, some snorkeling, and starfish beach. Interacting with the Southern Sting Rays was by far the best. We took a boat out from the island to a sandbar. The sandbar was not above the surface of the water, but allowed you to stand in about four (4) feet of water. Many people were there, some with other boats and some having taken jet skis. We went with another three couples, so our group as very small and our guide had the right bait. Within minutes we have 30 or so rays surrounding us. The large rays are the females and swam close to the surface where it was easy to feed them. Apparently their mouths are on the underside. They have a single bone plate on the bottom and a single bone plate on the top of their mouths. Feeding them felt like a vacuum followed by a tug on the fish. I had the feeling like they would not be content biting off a single finger but would want the entire hand. The smaller rays are the males and they stayed down near the bottom. I constantly worried I might step on one and get stung. I’ve posted a couple of pictures. More pictures and video to follow. Internet is still a disappointment. I feel the need for speed.
First, I want to give a shout-out to Abigail for correctly doing Clint’s work. Everyone in the entire World, please stop helping Clint out or he will never be able to carry his own weight. J I’d also like to give a shout-out to both Miss Turners who are no doubt excelling in Computer Apps. Good job Mrs. Sleeman. J
I apologize for the lack of pictures and video to date. The price for internet on our first ship was a little over a dollar a minute and the connection was extremely slow. When in Nassau, Bahamas yesterday, we did spend an hour in an internet café for about $6.00 an hour. I’ll do the best I can to be timely.
So, we finished up this last week on the largest NCL (Norwegian Cruise Line) ship, the Getaway. We stopped in St. Marten, St. Thomas, and the Bahamas. We accomplished all of our first week objectives, relax, relax, and relax. The Caribbean itself can be broken down into eastern, western and southern destinations. We have just completed a typical eastern looping. Since we have done this route several times, the destinations are less important than the ship and the weather. We were very good about hitting the gym each day and maintained a fitness oriented diet, zero breads and almost no desserts. We did dine at every specialty restaurant onboard other than one, which included themes of French, Italian, Brazilian, Japanese, and a Steak-house. On board, there was an “Iron Chef” who had his own restaurant. That one was Sushi-bar; maybe next time. On Wednesday, we took in an onboard production of Legally Blond. Some of you may know the movie version. It was a very energetic production. Of course, we took in all the football games this week, the magic show, a comedy show, and participated two nights in a sing along event called “Howling at the Moon”. There will be no audio file attached… ever. And not to forget, we got all the sun we could handle. The temperature here is perfect.
Off the Getaway means onto the Celebrity Reflection. To encourage repeat bookings on a particular cruise line, these businesses have what you might call “loyalty” programs, where they give “perks”. The highest standing customers are members of the “Captain’s Club” and I have no idea what comes with that membership. Five years ago, we became “Elite Members” for the first time. At that time, it was the 2nd highest standing and it was sweet. Since then, we have not sailed with them and as life continues to remind me, the only thing you can count on in life is change. So now, Elite is the fourth highest standing with two new categories of Elite Plus and Zenith. Not to worry, I’m low maintenance and Elite is still pretty sweet. Who doesn’t like moving to the front of a line of 3,000 people trying to board a ship? I will try to post again at the end of week for sure. This week coming up, we will be doing a western Caribbean route including Cozumel, Mexico; Grand Cayman Islands; Jamaica man, and Haiti. We have shore activities scheduled for this week, including swimming with the sting-rays. That should give us a chance to see how our new underwater camera works.
Boarded the Norwegian Getaway this morning. Given there could have been 4,000 passengers scheduled on board, getting checked in and boarded was surprisingly quick. Luggage to the rooms was extremely early.
The ship has two (2) forty foot high screens on board, one outside above decks and a second inside near the sports ***. We had great seating for the playoff games throughout the weekend and the college championship game on Monday.
The first evening we attended a dinner show in the Illusionarium, which was a dinner and magic show. Five “master” magicians were featured as part of the production. It was worth missing the Seattle game.
Internet connection in Miami Hotels as well as onboard have been very weak. Post may be less frequent than expected and video may take even longer.
We hit the hotel gym this morning in preparation for all those extra calories that might accidently find their way past our self-discipline and into our guts. It was a nice enough gym for a couple of people to workout at the same. In the two days, I only saw one other person in the gym. Outside, however, there were many people walking, jogging, and running along the beach road. Breakfast was included at the Hotel and there was no extra charge for all the “people watching”. People down here seem to be from all over the World. This must be a popular destination for Europeans. Everyone seemed nice enough, but no way near as cool as the people of Bluffs.
After breakfast we strolled across the street to the beach and walk several miles. Mental note, sand works the calves. As a beach (sand, waves, cleanliness, and sunshine), I’m going to give it 7 stars out of 10 stars. After a couple of hours we turned into the “town” area and found our way to Joe’s Crab Shack. Joe’s is well known for Stone Crabs and Keylime Pie. Typically, crabs are caught and all of the crab may find its way to the table. Stone Crabs, however, are different. Once a year the crabs are caught and the fisherman are allowed to tear off one of the claws only. The crab is then allowed to return to the Ocean and within a year will grow back the claw. So, when you think life sucks, thank God you’re not a Stone Crab. We also tried the keylime pie, which in general I am not a fan. However, they were not lying. It was amazing for both its flavor and the crust. The crust was halfway between a traditional pie crust and a cookie.
In the afternoon we spent time lounging by the rooftop pool. Base tan (check). For dinner, we went in search of a traditional Cuban restaurant. With a little help of the all-knowing Google, we walked to the Espanola district and found Havana 1957. 1957 predates the Cuban communist revolution which led to the rise of Fidel Castro and his brother and the exodus of many Cuban nationalist to southern Florida. Miami is what it is in large part to the Cuban immigration. Another excellent meal and refreshments. After dinner we enjoyed Cuban Coffee and freshly made Cuban Flan for desert. This was another culinary highlight of the trip. I personally find Flan to be a constant disappointment. Kudos to the little old Cuban lady making this one. It was mind blowing and is now on my list for best in the World. Pictures to follow.
We flew out of Springfield this morning. It was a cool 5 degrees outside which made for a motivated run from the car to the Airport Terminal. Although our final destination was Miami, our flight was not direct. Our first destination would be Dallas, TX which is now a main hub for American Airlines now rather than St. Luis. The flight down was a bit turbulent at times, but in the end we arrived safely. They seem to very excited down there for their Cowboys and TCU Horned-frogs. A couple hours and a few nachos later, we were on our way to Miami. Stepping off the plane the temperature was 80 degrees.
(Clint Hoots: if the temperature started a 5 degrees and increased to 80 degrees, what was the percent increase in temperature?) He didn’t just go there? Yes he did. Math doesn’t end for you young Jedi just because I’m gone. Please post the solution here in the comments.
We rented a car and had the opportunity to experience big city traffic on our way to Miami Beach. Apparently the beach is so long, they refer to North Beach and South Beach. We are staying in South Beach on Ocean Drive in the heart of the renovated Art Deco district. Art Deco is an architectural style from the 20’s and 30’s for which Miami is famous. We are staying at the Leslie Hotel and I’ll post pictures and video if and when I get a good internet connection.
I'm gone less than a day and the school is shut down. Coincidence? I think not! Thanks to those that came by to say good-bye and sorry to those I missed.
Back on the 12th, while ported in St. Lucia, the ship we were schedule to board for our World Cruise had an on-board fire and explosion in its engine room. As a result of the incident, the ship has to be towed to Puerto Rico and placed in dry dock to facilitate the required repairs. At this point, the cruise company has cancelled the first nine (9) weeks of the cruise with plans to pick up the original itinerary beginning March 23 in Singapore. Undaunted, we have patched together nine weeks of fun in the sun, highlighted by a passage around South America. So much for Rosetta Stone French and welcome Rosetta Stone Spanish.