How did we end up here? We've lived in Northern Illinois for 24 years. Way too long for this vegetarian! Thankfully, we're only a Metra ride away from Chicago.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Aboard The Sick Ship

We picked a cruise itinerary for two weeks this February that would take us to 8 ports aboard the Caribbean Princess. We'd be able to get 8 dives in at 4 of those ports (St Maarten, Barbados, Bonaire, Aruba).

Oh right, it was also Superbowl weekend in south Florida.

The ship had the game on every screen available and even had ice carvings to celebrate.

Our weather forecast did not look very good but we were planning on spending a lot of time in the water anyway.

Our first port was St. Maarten. We booked a two tank scuba dive with Dive Adventures who were located just a short walk from where our cruise ship docked.

These dives (Teigland and Big Mama) were filled with things to look at. Lots of fish, lobsters, a green moray eel, a sting ray, a green sea turtle and a couple of big black tipped reef sharks who kept an eye on us divers.

Our dives were over by noon so we headed downtown via watertaxi.

We stopped by the Guavaberry Emporium for a few tastings.



Our second port was St. Thomas. We took a ferry over to St John to hike in the national park.

Our ferry docked right next to this visitor's center.


Behind this building is a trail called Lind Point Trail that leads to several beaches. We headed to find the closest to us as we were crunched for time. 


We followed signs to Solomon beach and headed down to snorkel in the beautiful warm water.

We booked this excursion, St. John on your own, through the cruise. It was way too short and only gave us 2 hours on St John. The next time we plan to taxi over to the red hook ferry dock on our own so we have more hours to enjoy St. John.

This is where things on our ship start to take a turn for the worse. The captain announced on day 3 of our cruise that we had a significant number of people who are sick with noro virus. Due to this St. Kitts had denied us entry to dock.
Super bummed as we had booked an excursion to visit the island of Nevis on this day.

They changed procedures on board the ship so getting food at the buffet was a hassle and selection was greatly diminished.


Even getting a glass of water meant spending a lot of time standing in lines.


After the unexpected sea day we were off to Martinique. (This picture was at the end of this day after the rain had ended)

Because the weather was so rainy we booked a snorkel excursion since being in the water gave us something to look at.

Lots of beautiful sunflower coral.

Look at this cute cuttlefish.

After our snorkeling adventure the rain held off enough for a stroll downtown where we picked up a snack to eat by the shoreline.



The next day the captain announced Barbados was not going to let us dock either as the number of sick people continued to rise.
Schucks! I was looking forward to getting 2 more dives in at Barbados.

So we headed on to Trinidad.

At 11:30pm the night before Trinidad the captain made the announcement Trinidad had denied us docking and he was now heading to Ft Lauderdale and ending the cruise early.

They were going to spend 3 days sanitizing the ship without passengers for the next sailing.
What a disappointment!
We only made it to 3 ports, a shortened vacation, and now had to scramble to change flights.

All the sea days meant lots of knitting for me.

And dinner cocktails.

By the time our ship made it back to Florida I was looking forward to going home after being surrounded by sick people and not knowing if I was the next passenger to come down with this stomach bug.

Thankfully we stayed virus free!





Thursday, November 28, 2019

Freestyling

It's November which means it's time to celebrate another birthday. We made the long drive south to New Orleans. We spent a few hours walking around the French Quarter.

Strolling along the Mississippi.

Drinking a local draft in Jackson Square.

Pecan pralines and coffee.

Then it was time to board the ship, the Norwegian Getaway.

This was the biggest ship we've sailed on. Wow, they had a ton of activities available. We took advantage of all three water slides.

And the ropes course had 40 pathways to choose from.

The mini golf was fun too.
My favorite space on this ship was our cabin.
Our room had a coffee maker! No buying expensive Starbucks Americanos on this trip.

Coffee with a view.


We had a balcony cabin for this one week cruise which was awesome!
I take my hammock everywhere. Naps on the balcony-check!
And of course knitting.

After two days at sea it was time for a port. It was our first time in Jamaica. We booked a day trip through NCL to go river tubing and some beach time. Wow, what a long drive! It took two hours to get to the river. And we arrived during a thunderstorm.

We grabbed our tubes and headed into the river with 50 other "friends".

It was tough to stay together as the river was swift.

Despite the weather, it was relaxing just floating downstream.

After our tubing adventure I picked up a Red Stripe at a convenience store for my bus ride to the beach.

The beach was not great as there were way too many people in such a small space. But the water was warm and the rain finally cleared for our beach stop.


It was time to head back to the ship and head to our next port of Grand Cayman. We booked a two tank dive through NCL as this port doesn't have a pier and requires tenders to get to shore. The dive shop, Don Foster's, was one of the best dive shops we've encountered. 

Our first tank was a nice reef(Caribbean Club Sand Chute) 

and the second dive was a shipwreck(Oro Verde).

The next day was husband's birthday!

Roatan, Honduras was another port using tenders to get to shore so we booked with NCL again to scuba dive. 
Unfortunately this is a shop I would not recommend.  Weather was rainy, and windy so the dives were on the opposite side of the island than we had planned. The dives,key hole and flowers bay garden were nice reef and wall dives. But they were pretty much on your own dives with very little guidance from the dive masters. When I mentioned I had been stung on the neck from Jellyfish the dive master laughed and said he didn't see any jellyfish where he was. He was right below me and I had taken a picture to prove it!

The next day the ship headed to Belize. It was our first time at Harvest Caye.

We found a quiet spot to nap.


We spent the day lounging in the shade reading.

Swam out to a float to lay in the sun for a bit.


I should have heeded this warning sign as I was stung by more jellyfish!

Before heading back onboard we stopped by a bar to have a beer(and some plantain nachos).

Our last stop was Costa Maya,Mexico. We found a nice price ($40pp) on a snorkel/beach/drink excursion once we got to the port so we headed to the little beach town of Mahahual.

We saw a couple of turtles on our snorkel adventure.

Beer in Mexico tastes so good!


And I brought back one of these "fish mobiles" for my landlocked Illinois home base.

Back on the ship we headed back to the port of New Orleans.

My favorite bar on this ship was the Mojito bar. They offered a flight of mojitos.
Even a jalapeno mojito!

I liked the coffee set up on the promenade deck for a quick go cup of coffee in the mornings.

This same deck had cut out sections where you could view the sea below.





The biggest challenge of this vacation was the amount of time in line. Lines for hours to get onto the ship.

We spent hours in lines to get back onto the ship in Cayman and Roatan. We even had to wait in line to get off this ship in New Orleans. Stuck in the smoke filled casino section.




I made a quick stop at PJs for delicious coffee in New Orleans before our drive back to the cold tundra of Illinois.

See you next November New Orleans, on a different ship and different cruise line!