Sunday, June 29, 2014

St. Lucia

St. Lucia was the island we really were excited to return to.  The last time we were here (in May 2012) it had rained all day.  The tour back then was very good most likely because the owner, Cosol, was our tour guide.  This time around the we had Baptiste as our tour guide.  He was alright but the tour itself was a far cry from what we experienced in 2012.  And not quite in a good way either! 

So like I said, we booked Cosol Tours online for $75 USD per person.  That, by the way, is an increase of $10 from the price it was in 2012!  At the end of the day, the tour was really only worth $60 at most.  Just my opinion.

We met at the dock near the shops and were supposed to leave at 9:30am sharp.  We left at 10:00am.  Not a good start.

We drove a bit then stopped at the banana fields where we sampled a fresh banana right off the tree.  Nice and sweet unlike the bananas we purchase here in Canada, strange but true.  That stop felt rushed compared to the last time we were there.  We piled back into the air conditioned bus and drove for what seemed like forever up winding roads and DID NOT stop to see the Lady Slipper like we did last time.  We didn't stop at the Piton look out either like we did last time... we just drove by it real fast but I managed to get a photo of it, last time we got to pose by it.  Photo bottom left 2014, photo bottom right 2012.

Some of our fellow tourists were disappointed by the drive by.  We did make it to Jalousie Beach, that they now renamed to Sugar Beach.  We took a water taxi to the beach where we enjoyed 90 minutes of beach time.  There was a small section with lawn chairs we could use for free but the side that the resort was located on, we were not permitted to use the chairs or umbrellas but were able to swim on that side of the beach.  The side where the free chairs were was a bit rocky but had great snorkeling.

  We had intended to do snorkeling here but once we noticed they didn't really clean the used snorkeling gear I backed out.  Tony said it's the salt water ocean water that cleans it but that wasn't good enough for Susan Germophobe (that's me).  I swam for a bit then before you know it, the water taxi came for us and this time I recorded it!!!  We hadn't purchased any disposable waterproof cameras for the trip so I was a bit worried to keep the camera dry.

This time around we did get a good tour of the volcano, as smelly as it was.  We also did the sulphuric mud bath at the waterfall too!

We got back to the ship too late to make the buffet so we had lunch at the Sea Side Cafe on the upper deck = fries, chicken strips, chicken wings and onion rings.  OH MY HEAVENS THE ONION RINGS WERE DELICIOUS!!!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Oh Antigua!

We took the Island Safari 4x4 Off Road tour in Antigua!

Leave it to us to take the last seats at the back of the jeep that had the tiniest of seat belts to secure us in there!  And yup, I remembered my hat that day!!  I was seated in a real good position to get lots of video. 

This was our first time visiting Antigua and we figured the best way to see it was to drive it.  Our tour was with Antigua Island Adventures that we booked through the Excursions Desk aboard the Jewel of the Seas.  We wanted to pre book the tour online before the cruise but oops, we forgot!  But it wasn't a big deal to book it on the day we arrived on the ship since we had the tour information straight off the Royal Caribbean website.  The price for this tour was $59 USD per person and it was worth every penny.  The tour also included water, rum punch, cola and beer.  I stuck with the water, Tony took the rum punch!!  gasp!!!!

The only problem with this tour was the speaker system.  We couldn't make out a word the tour guide was saying.  It sounded like a bunch of bees (either that or he was blowing on a vuvuzela)


When the guide started talking, Tony looked at me with and I almost fell off the jeep laughing at his expression.  Glad to know I wasn't the only one confused by what the man was saying.  Once we started driving it really didn't matter because I was busy videoing the scenes and just enjoying the ride and fresh air!  

We drove through some towns and villages then went off road and drove through some countryside.  It was a beautiful sunny and hot day.  The tour lasted 3 hours which didn't seem long but it was worth the price in my opinion, save for the vuvuzela ... ha!

We had a stop at a beautiful view at a look out and had took some photos, stretched our legs and had some giggles amongst ourselves. 

Then along the way when we were driving the off roads, our guide played a joke on some of the tourists.  He stopped in a field, rolled up some lemon grass and tried to pass it off as marijuana... after a good chuckle he told them there was no marijuana, just lemon grass and lots of it!

Once the tour was over, we walked on the dock for a bit then back on the ship, lunch in the buffet, and then down to the 5th floor to watch the pier runners.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Day In St. Maarten

The second island on the cruise itinerary was St. Maarten.  This was our second time visiting this island and we took the same tour as last time too!  

Yes, that's me in shorts!  Chunky chicken thighs and all!  Seriously, my pale legs were begging for some sunshine.

We met our tour guide just around the corner from this sign and then had about a ten minute wait for the other tourists to arrive then off we went.  We went with Bernard's Tours again.  We booked "tour #2"  on line from their website  (not necessary to leave a deposit even though it asks for one!). They provide a comfortable island tour in a comfortable air conditioned bus that held 6 or 8 tourists.  Beverages were included in the tour so we got to have water, rum punch or cola.  The tour cost 

During the tour, our guide, David, told us about the history of the island and explained a bit about their politics and the upgrades that were being done to the island (there were lots of construction projects in progress).

We skipped the iguana farm this time because it was under reconstruction but otherwise everything else was great!  We had many photo-op stops and also a beach stop at Orient Beach... the beach that allows nudity.  I took a bit of video of a windsurfer and accidentally caught a topless woman who strolled down the beach.  No, I did not post the video to Youtube.  No, the woman wasn't young.  Picture Betty White topless if you can fathom that.  

At the beach, I did swim!  Yup, I put on my bathing suit and went into the water... forgot to remove my sun hat and glasses so I tried to be careful and just sit on the beach and let the water waves wash over me but a big wave toppled me over and almost stole my glasses!  They were prescription glasses with transition lenses so I could not lose them!!!  NOT AN OPTION!!!

The tour was about 4 hours long then we headed back to the ship for lunch in the buffet.  Not burgers and fries every day this time around, we had a great variety!  Each day on the ship the buffet honored a country so if memory serves me right we had a France inspired lunch.  I can't remember what the food was because I just remember the lemon cookies were awesome!!

The Explorer of the seas was docked in St Maarten also.  She arrived after we did and left after we did too.

That evening we caught the hypnosis show in the theatre and laughed ourselves silly.  Great show, was really funny because one of the contestants was over acting while another one had no clue she was supposed to PRETEND to be hypnotized.

....oh ya, we fell asleep in the Solarium again! :-)

Friday, June 20, 2014

St Croix USVI

Our first port of call was St Croix, USVI where we booked a walking tour of Christiansted through the ships excursion desk because we didn't want to do a beach run which seemed to be the only thing to do in St. Croix.  

Our tour began at 8:30am sharp!  We set our alarm at 6:00am to allow time to get up, shower, have breakfast, snap a few pictures from the upper level of the ship and then head down to the gangway to exit the ship and meet up with our tour guide.  

Our guides name was Celeste and she was very informative.  I had read a review of this tour on the RCI website and it was only given a 2.5-3 star rating on five.  Personally, I enjoyed it.  We walked for almost three hours, viewed a fort and were told much information about it then walked along and were told of the vegetation on the island.  We passed some churches that were in session, as it was Sunday morning, and we were able to sit in on one of the services too.  There isn't much to do at this port except maybe go to the beach which is just waking distance from the pier anyway.  Not much shopping if any!  But over all it was an enjoyable day and quite hot and sunny as well!

Back aboard the ship we headed straight to the Windjammer buffet for lunch.  Our first real port day so we indulged in burgers and fries, ice cream and apple pie with lemonaide.  The lemonaide this time around seemed to be more "watered down" than our last Royal Caribbean cruise, just saying...

Later we spent time on deck then took a nap in the solarium pool area ha! ha!

We the dinner near 8pm in the buffet too, not the main dining room, then saw half of one of the broadway shows (it was boring....they called that show West Side to Broadway or something like that). It was much better than the ones on Carnival lines because the women's butts were completely covered and not just merely in a bedazzled thong.  We watched about 85% of the show then left the theatre.  The show basically was a collage of the hit tunes and scenes from Broadway hits like Cats, Rent, etc... It was ok, nice costumes, great singing voices but we just got lost on the theme of that particular show so it did nothing for us.

We went on deck so I could look at the stars which were amazing with the clear sky!  Wow, they took my breath away.

Back in our stateroom we turned on the tv and while channel surfing, stumbled on a movie and watched it... the movie was Poseidon, you know, the movie about the sinking cruise ship!  We watched it anyway, no worries.

Early to bed, early to rise....

San Juan Arrival

Our flight left Montreal at the crack of dawn on Friday June 6th.  This time it was a breeze to get through customs and security and board the plane.  We arrived in San Juan, Puerto Rico just past 2:30pm and grabbed a taxi to our hotel ($24USD...they broke that down as $19 for the location, plus $1 per luggage bag and $2 gas surcharge!!).

Once again, we were booked at the Chateau Cervantes in Old San Juan.  We checked in then went for lunch at Senor Frogs.  We photo bombed a total strangers family photo when the waiter grabbed us and told us to say cheese while he was taking pictures for them WITH THEIR CAMERA!! 

After eating, we hopped on the free trolley and drove around old San Juan and toured the old fort Castillo San Filipe del Morro, and fort Castillo de San Cristobal.  The ocean as a backdrop was breathtaking.  The weather was hot, sunny with very few clouds unlike the rain we had last time!  And I wasn't suffering from any allergic reactions this time either! We walked around, bought a few items and then went back to the hotel for the night. We were quite tired because we arrived at the airport at 3am and caught our flight at 6am from Montreal to Miami, then connected from Miami to Puerto Rico.  That's a lot of travel for little ole me. 

The hotel was lovely, clean, courteous staff and conveniently located near the port (but not the RCI port we caught our ship from).  The room was cold.  The air conditioner was too high and you'd think we'd be smart enough to lower it.... Duh!  We realized that in the morning.  

At a few minutes before 5:00am some guy knocked on our door and said it was our requested wake up call.  Luckily I had my wits about me and didn't just open the door.  There were only women working there but the wake up call was a dude.  We joked to ourselves later that we may have averted a robbery or room invasion but it really is no laughing matter because I'm usually in the habit of just opening the door when someone knocks and wakes me out of my sleep because I'd be totally confused.  Maybe that's what the person was hoping for.  Phew!  

Saturday morning we had the continental breakfast that was included in the price of the hotel then went for another trolley ride and stroll around old San Juan before checking out at noon and grabbing a taxi ($19USD) to the Pan American Port to catch the Jewel of the Seas ship.

Two On A Cruise

So husband and I took another cruise to the southern Caribbean but this time we travelled with Royal Caribbean and not Carnival cruise lines.  Two years ago we did a seven night cruise with a Southern Caribbean itinerary via Carnival cruise lines (our first and last time using Carnival) the ship itself was really dated, the food was mediocre at best and the activities were few and far between.  Don't get me wrong, we did have a great time... mainly because the itinerary was awesome but the time we spent on the ship could have been better, that's what I'm saying!

This cruise was with royal Caribbean (our third time using RCI) the ship was spectacular, the food variety was great and tons of activities!  Loved it. More than loved it!! The itinerary was a bit different from our last southern Caribbean cruise with two different islands and three repeats.  This time we went to St Croix (last time it was St Thomas), St Martin, Barbados, St Lucia and Antigua (last time it was St Kitts).  So we got to see two new islands, yippee!  And.... when we were in St. Lucia this time we had great sunny weather whereas last time it rained all day... so, the next few blogs will be the update! 

Coming Soon!

New blog post in the works!  Just gimme a minute!  (This post doesn't count as the new blog post)