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.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Visiting Paradise

Every winter we wish we were someplace warm. With lots of sunshine, 80 degree temps and a beach to lay out on.
In May of 2011 we started planning for our 2 week winter getaway. It consisted of a "not so big" cruise ship and visits to 9 Caribbean islands. We had the time of our lives.
After a long Amtrak ride to Ft. Lauderdale we hopped on the Ms. Maasdam(a Holland America ship) and headed for St. Thomas.
Island #1-St Thomas
In St Thomas we hopped in a taxi to Magens Bay. A bit of a tourist trap but the water was warm and the view was spectacular.

After a couple of hours we caught a water taxi to Water Island to check out another beach, Honeymoon Beach. A little bit less of a tourist trap but how could we complain with a white sand beach lined with palm trees.
Then we were off to our next island,St. Barts.
Island #2-St. Barts
The island is 8 square miles so we figured the best way to see it was to rent scooters for the day(only $30) so we could hit all of the beaches.

I wished we had rented scooters on other islands. This stop was probably my favorite as I didn't have to wait for a taxi to take me where I wanted to go.
Island #3-Martinique

We didn't see much of this island besides the downtown area. We don't speak any French and this was one place where we definitely had a language barrier. We looked into renting a car to go over to see the volcanic beach but there weren't any cars available. So we hopped back on the boat and headed to our next island stop, Barbados.
Island #4-Barbados
Beautiful Barbados! We walked over to Brighton Beach where my husband had a palm hat made for him while we laid on the beach.
After a couple of hours we headed across the street to the Mount Gay Rum Tour and Tasting Room. Before jumping back on the boat we toured downtown Bridgetown.

Island #5-Grenada
Our morning was cloudy and rainy so we stayed around St. George's,the downtown area for a few hours before taking a water taxi to Grand Anse Beach.

Island #6-Bonaire
Another cloudy and rainy day but we decided to take a water taxi over to Klein Bonaire, an uninhabited island. It's supposed to be the best place to snorkel and see sea turtles. The surf was very rough but the fish we saw hanging around the reef while snorkeling were beautiful.

We were the only cruise ship in town on a Sunday so most of the places downtown were closed. Between downpours we enjoyed a couple of beers imported from Venezuela.

On to our next island, Curacao-Island #7. Another very rainy day but still warm temps. We toured around downtown for a bit.

The rain lasted throughout our entire stay at Curacao. We were able to see the floating market, briefly visited Mambo Beach, and toured the Curacao Liqueur Distillery.
A picture of the downtown as we were leaving Curacao at midnight...

Aruba was Island #8. Guess what, it was rainy and cloudy again. Guess we brought the grey with us from Chicago! But I'll take the beach over landlocked Illinois any day.
We took a city bus to Eagle Beach for a few hours(while the sun was out) before returning to the boat.

Our last island stop(#9) was in the Bahamas at Little San Salvador Island, Bahamas(also known as Half Moon Cay). This is the Cruise line's private island. The water was a deep turquoise blue that will forever be in my memory along with the white powder sand beach.

Our first experience on a cruise was amazing. I'm a super picky eater and they always had vegetarian/vegan options available at every meal. I got to see all my boys in suits for all 3 of the formal dinners.

Our room was serviced twice a day and was much larger than what I expected. Each night the room steward would leave us a cute towel animal creation.

For two weeks we had no jobs, no commute, no school, no chores, no meal planning. It was the best two weeks of our lives.