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.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Cruising Through Life,One Port at a Time

With most vacations there are highs and lows. I'll start with the lows. This cruise was onboard Holland America Rotterdam. We flew into Tampa and took a Lyft to the cruise ship terminal. Delayed from boarding for three hours and watching dumpsters full of construction materials being removed from the ship was our first clue this ship was not ready for passengers. We finally boarded to find the ship in disrepair. Water pipes were broken on the promenade deck and not repaired until several days into our sailing.
Broken pipe

Broken pipe



















The Lido had multiple buckets catching water falling through the ceiling and lights right by the food area during the entire 15 day journey.
Lido buckets















Multiple public areas were under construction. These included closed sports courts, empty whirlpools, a closed lido pool, no entry to the back deck area, and a coffee bar that was still awaiting an automated espresso machine.
Aft pool area

metal filings in Explorer's Lounge
dirty floor in Lido area
dirty cabin carpet

During rain storms the crows nest windows would leak and workers would stuff the windows with towels.

This is a ship with mostly elderly customers and tripping hazards were everywhere.



These items were not even the worst of what we were to experience. Our cabin shower only had scalding hot water for 12 of the 15 days!!!!! Maintenance came and went,my concerns were met with the response "corporate is aware of the situation". I will never sail on this ship again!

Now onto the highs of our trip---the Caribbean ports!!

First stop,Key West. We rented a couple of bicycles and set off to explore.
We rolled down Duval Street from Mallory Square to the Southernmost Point. We made stops at Cuban Coffee shops,Charlie Mac's for a Yuengling, pina coladas at Southernmost Beach Cafe,coconut macroons at Mattheseson's,and finally to the beach at Fort Zachary Taylor State Beach.




Next port was Cap Cana, Dominican Rupublic. This was a replacement port for St. Thomas. Unfortunately the weather did not cooperate but I had enough dry weather to grab a local beer.

The next day was another substitute port(St. Kitts) as St Marteen is still recovering from the huricane.
We rented scooters from Sunny Blue for $50 per scooter. They picked us up/dropped us off right at the cruise terminal. Our ship didn't arrive until Noon so we spent until 5pm trying to see as much as we could.

My favorite lookout on this island is Timothy Hill. Atlantic Ocean on one side and Caribbean sea on the other and Nevis in the distance.



Up next was Antigua.Yep, another day of rain but we took a taxi($20 total) to Runaway beach and spent a few hours floating in the warm water.

The next day we were in St Lucia. Unfortunately we were too late to catch a spot on a snorkel tour so we hired a taxi for the day and headed to Anse Cochon,a beach located about 45 minutes car ride from the city. This was my view for the day here. Paradise!

We snorkeled and hung out on the beach the entire day.

Leaving St Lucia we got a nice view of the Pitons.

Sea days are me days which means reading and knitting all day.

Our next day was husband's 49th birthday! We booked a two tank scuba through the ship. We spent the next four hours with Dive Buddy Bonaire. A great crew. Look at that water color!

After diving we walked around downtown stopping at a couple of coffee shops.
And a bar.
I'd love to go back to spend a week on Bonaire. 

The next day we were in Curacao. We rented a car for the day and headed to the Curacao Liquor Distillery.
Then we headed all the way to the Northern tip to visit a Shete Boka National Park. 

Hot,hot,hot this day so we headed to several beaches to cool off and snorkel. First stop was Playa Grandi. Look at this ball of fish we encountered while snorkeling.



We made stops at Playa Forti,, 
Playa Abou,

Klein Knip, 

and Playa Lagun. So many beautiful beaches.


Later that night we strolled across the floating bridge into the downtown area.

The next day we were in Aruba. We hopped on the city bus and spent the day on Eagle Beach. It was a mostly cloudy day but air temperature was close to 90 and water temps were in low 80's.

Our last port was Grand Cayman.

We had another scuba adventure. This time with Cayman Divers. What a fantastic crew! Our first dive was at the site Slaughterhouse Wall.

This green moray eel kept swimming past us during our second dive at Kittiwake Shipwreck.

It was nice to be back in the Caribbean sea.

Can't wait to go back. Next time maybe for a one week dive trip.