Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Home sweet home

We have been back (safe and sound) since late Sunday night, or more accurately early Sunday morning. Pat had stayed the night so we were assured that if something delayed our arrival all the feathered and furred ones would be okay.

Sunday was a long day. We were both awake long before the 6:30am alarm and after showers made our way up to the breakfast buffet. A bite of quiche, some smoked fish, and a few slices of melon started our day. It was disembarkation day… return to home day… vacation over day.

The ship was well organized for getting 3600 people off and onto waiting busses. We had booked a tour for the morning as our flight wasn't scheduled to leave until almost 8pm. The tour guide was interesting, giving us history of the everglades and all the environmental f__ups that had happened over the years. Our first stop was for a boat tour of the everglades and a show featuring some big gators. We had a good time.

Next stop was a botanical garden with some native and exotic inhabitants. All the birds and animals were rescued from unfortunate circumstances. First we boarded a trolley for a ride through the extensive property. Then we wandered around the rest of the gardens until it was time to go. We zipped through the gift shop (hurrah for me no stopping - memories of my trip with Dad to Jordan flashed in my head - there wasn't a shop we passed that we didn't find something wonderful), shared a giant slice of key lime pie then boarded the bus (which had wifi).

That was it, the holiday was over and we were dropped at the airport for a 6 hour wait. It was a long time with not much to see. We ate mediocre pizza and surfed the internet. Everyone was too tired for much else. At least I was.

So there we are: 8 nights of adventure for 2 homebodies. Would we do it again? YOU BET! Next time somewhere more exotic, like the Mediterranean. And maybe a few nights longer.

General thoughts:

It was nice feeling confident that the pets were in good hands and I hope Pat had a good enough time that she’ll do it again. The dogs were sleeping in her bed and Grace was letting Pat scratch her head so I guess we weren’t missed all that much.

I gained 1 pound, and should have walked more. We enjoyed the company of Jo Ellen and Don and would cruise with them again. I need to take a bit more time where it is quiet - I'm an introvert and never got the chance to recharge and started getting cranky.

We mostly ate at the buffet: the food was good and convenient. We went to one formal night - I was too tired for the second one - it was fun to get dressed up. I'd eat at the dining room one more time. We had a meal at specialty dining - I'd eat there earlier in the cruise as I think we'd appreciate it more. Happy hour was a good idea.

I liked the location of our stateroom even though it was just above the theatre - it was also one flight down to the piazza where all the bars and entertainment were. A balcony is a mandatory feature. We did lots of stairs. The buffet was on the 16th Lido deck which was too many flights to walk up.

Entertainment was excellent. The production shows were very professional. The comedian was okay. The impersonator made me laugh - I might have enjoyed that show the most.

Internet was expensive at $1 a minute, but I managed to post a few blog entries quickly. The buses in Dominican Republic and Ft. Lauderdale had wifi. We found wifi at a bar in St. Thomas.

I saw a bracelet that I really liked  but didn't buy it. It has been gnawing on my brain since. Note to self: sometimes it is okay to be a bit extravagant. Other souvenirs were from street vendors. I didn't buy anything with 'Princess' on it.

Our excursions were interesting. Some focused on taking us to shops, while others showed us the scenery and had some interesting highlights. One tour had 4 rum tastings before noon :-o  Antigua had a rum punch. Hummm… those were the tours we liked the most - which had nothing to do with the rum. We saw lots of stray and loose dogs. The tours are a bit of a blur now as they were similar. St Thomas had an open air bus which hurtled up and down and around the hairpin steep roads. Carm was in the seat nearest the edge and says he was terrified.

Either my camera or the memory card screwed up, leaving me with fewer photos than I took. I should have brought my big camera after all.

Talking to so many different people was fun. Everyone was friendly and seemed to be having a good time. Several times the conversation turned to politics - not Carm's doing!!! People are concerned about what the future holds for their country.

I felt that I was suspended in a bubble cut off from reality. Time seemed to move randomly. It took a while to get used to feeling so disconnected - I'm not sure if I liked it.

We had fun!

I still have after motion!

And I woke up to snow the morning after we got home :-(

Friday, December 2, 2016

Port day 3: Antigua

Yesterday’s stop at Antiga was lovely, after we finally got on the bus. A long line up faced us, probably no longer than the other days, but the sun was shining strongly and I was maybe a bit grumpy from being kept up late as Carm watched ‘Spectre’ on the rooms TV. Well, eventually we got on the bus and started our tour.

We drove through the town and out into the countryside, up and over the hills to the other side of the island. The dwellings ranged from poor bungalows to upscale mansions. There was hardly any garbage (unlike Porta Plata in the DR). There were fruit trees of ever variety. And loose dogs walking around (fewer that DR, and many wore collars).

After winding our way through the country side we came to the top of a large hill with the scant remains of a fort. The views were tremendous.

Back in the bus we zoomed down the hill to the remains of Nelson’s harbour. Huge sailboats and motor boats were lined up on the dock. We toured through the old buildings, had a rum drink (part of the tour), and boarded the bus.

Back at our port we tottered around looking at the shops, then mounted some steps to a small bar with free wifi. We had a local beer (2 for $5), checked our email, and posted on facebook. We are back on the boat now for 2 sea days so internet will be limited.

Today is hot with a mix of sun and cloud and high humidity. We might spend some time on the balcony, but to be honest I could just have a nap.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Port day 2: St. Thomas

Port day 2: St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands

We were late to port this morning, wind and a late departure yesterday (people late back to boat) slowed the schedule down 2 hours. Lucky for us we had chosen a 1pm excursion so weren’t effected by the change.

Carm went up to the top to watch us come into port while Jo Ellen, Don and I watched from the comfort of our balcony. The air was warm and humid which nicely distracted us from thoughts of the impending December 1st with Christmas soon to follow.

A sort of light lunch was enjoyed at the buffet (I had some sort of sandwich and Carm had a Reuben) then it was off to our excursion.

The open air bus drove around like crazy, from one lookout to the next, each festooned with all sorts of touristy gift stands. The heat and humidity had us sweating like crazy, but you didn’t hear a word of complaint from any of us Canadians: we were happy to be out of the snow. It was a fun day (but not as much fun as yesterday), but I can’t say the excursion was wonderful. I suppose there just isn’t that much to see.

The bus dropped us off at the shops at the end of the pier and we made our way slowly back to the ship, stopping at a few shops looking for a pandora (like) charm for my braclet. I found one for $5. We almost got talked into a $200 bracelet, but I was strong. It was pretty though and I’ll probably regret not going for the ½ price deal.

We met up with Jo Ellen and Don on our balcony and enjoyed the view while we sipped wine. Can’t think of a nicer way to spend some time, especially on Nov 30th!

Supper, balcony, wander around downstairs, a great show (musical impersonator), drinks in the Piazza, back to balcony to watch the cast off, and here we are. Ready to do the fastest internet post - at $1 per minute there is no lingering!