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Posts Tagged ‘carnival victory’

Here are the rest of the St. Maarten pics as well as some other noteworthy ones taken throughout the trip but not posted yet. 🙂 We had a super time. OH – we lost our passports at some point between boading the last plane and home. Luckily, they got turned in at Pearson Customs and we just have to pick them up again. Doh!

Here are the pics from our last dinner. We had the exact same meal. For starters, a fatoush salad. For entrees, ribs, fries, corn and cole slaw. Chris skipped dessert but I had a Grand Marnier Souffle. MmmMmm.

Fatoush salad with arugula, mint and feta. This was really good.

Riiiiiiibs

Souffle!

Here are some other pics from St. Maarten:

The color of the water was unreal...

Iguana in St. Thomas!

What was waiting for us every night. Towel animals, chocolate, the Fun Times which included the following day's activities and those were our Segway tickets!

View of our diningroom, the waiters singing and dancing 🙂

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Day 7: St. Maarten (Ahoy! We be sailors!)

Buffet breakfast.

Met tour guide on the pier.

Walked over to the water taxi where our guide explained the history of the America’s cup and the past wins and losses, etc. We were split into three teams, each of which were to race 1 of three boats (Canada II and True North were both Canadian and Stars and Stripes which was American). Ironically, we ended up on the US boat. 🙂

This is a picture of the picture we bought after the race so don't mind the reflection in the top right of the photo... 🙂 Chris is sitting at the rear of the boat and I'm third from the right (top).

Pic of one of the Canada boats after the race

On the water taxi, we all signed waivers and were each assigned a job according to our activity level preference (active, medium-active and inactive). Chris chose active, I chose medium-active. Examples of inactive jobs were the timekeeper and the bartender. 🙂 My job was Main Seat Trimmer. Chris’ job was Back Seat Grinder. Other jobs were the Main Seat Grinder, Primary Grinders, Winch Wenches (2 girls), and some others I can’t recall. The toughest jobs were the grinders – they needed lots of arm-power and elbow grease. My job was unravelling rope and keeping it tight throughout. The water taxi stopped at each boat in the middle of the sea and we boarded. We then got “trained” in our respective jobs, they explained the race course and what would happen, etc. Bags and stuff were stored below in dry storage during the race. We got the sail up and we were on our way! There was a lot of trash talking directed to the other two boats that passed. It was all quite exciting!

Pic of us on our boat after the race

We got to the first marker in first place. Same for the second marker. For the final marker, the wind died down suddenly and we lost momentum and we ended up coming in second place. Still pretty good though! There’s so much going on at the same time and everyone was pretty busy throughout (we were about 10 people + 3 crew). The tilt of the boat was pretty steep at times and we were almost standing – it was awesome. We didn’t get very wet and we all opted to forgo life jackets. I would totally recommend this tour for anyone wanting to do something exciting and different.

We had an awesome time and I got to cross off yet another item on the Life List – spend time on a sailboat. Yes, it was a racing boat but it had no engine, just a sail, so it counts! 🙂 After the race, we all went to the boutique for the after-race rum party. 🙂 I bought a crew t-shirt and an awesome picture of us on the boat during the race.

View in St. Maarten - the water was gorgeous

We have the debarkation talk soon, we’re already packed and got all our stuff ready for tomorrow’s travels. I probably won’t have time to post anymore today but will post more pics tomorrow.

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Day 6: St. Kitts (Zipline, here we come)

Once again, we began our day with a buffet breakfast, then we headed out to the pier to meet up with our tour guide for the Ziplining tour – Sky Safari. We drove through Basseterre and a couple of other neighborhoods prior to reaching our destination. Our guide talked about the various sights along the way and explained that they don’t produce sugar there anymore – about 5 years ago, the island changed their focus from sugar to tourism. Once we arrived at the zipline place which was an old sugar plantation, we were given equipment (helmet and harness) and instructions on how to sit, fly and brake. All very important to know. We all took a turn at the “practice line”, which was a short line to learn how to sit and stop – they had automatic braking with a spring at the end so we don’t just slam into the tree at the other end. 🙂 We felt very safe the whole time – the harness was secure, there was a foam-covered bar (a “trolley”) that we hooked into and hung from to ride down the line. Once everyone took their practice run, we boarded the truck and up the mountain into the rain forest we went.

There were four lines in all. The first one was the longest one and least fast called “the Boss”. It was high! And flying into the open air was awesome – the wind in our faces, flying across the treetops – it was fantastic! The guides told us that if we wanted to pick up speed, we could stick our legs out like a pencil. Of course, Chris was pencil-man the rest of the way down. He’s nuts. We didn’t bring anything with us (no camera or bag or anything) since we weren’t sure what storage would be available…so unfortunately no pics…

The two middle ziplines were shorter but faster (Mango Tango and Brimstone-something). The views were just incredible – you could see the rainforest down below and the sea in the distance… The thrill wasn’t like a rollercoaster, no sudden drops – just fast-moving across open air – it was really cool. The last line was a double so Chris and I zipped down side by side (he beat me). And before we knew it, we were done! Another item to cross off the Life List!

Back at the ship, we had lunch, then vegged on deck a bit before going back to the room to relax/rest and get ready for dinner. I noticed that I hadn’t mentioned any of our lunches so far. The first few days were very small lunches since we got back to the ship close to dinnertime. The past couple of says however, we got back to the ship at noon so we had lunch at the Lido buffet. Yesterday was a traditional Thanksgiving meal – roast turkey, cranberry sauce, potatoes…salad and dessert. Today was roast beef, potatoes, green beans, salad. The lemonade is really good too….

So, back to dinner. We chose our new bottle of wine – Pinot Noir, Estancia, Monterey, 2008. Chris and I had the same meal tonight. For starters, we had a tomato, buffalo mozzarella and basil salad which was awesome.

For entrees, we had penne with tomato and vodka cream sauce (my fave pasta dish), and I was so excited to dig in that I forgot to take a pic! For dessert, we both chose the apple pie with vanilla ice cream.

Tomorrow we’re in St Maarten!

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We had the breakfast buffet as usual this morning, then headed out to our excursion, which was the 4×4 Beach Getaway. We boarded an open air 4×4 jeep and our tour guide Lloyd provided funny and informative commentary as we drove through Castries and other towns/villages on our way to Anse la Voute. Prior to the beach, we stopped at a couple of shopping spots where we bought banana ketchup (can’t wait to try that!), a cocoa stick (think of a really fat cigar that you can grate) and cinnamon bark. Chris also befriended the nearby goats. He is now officially a horse, dog and goat whisperer. It’s really getting quite creepy…I’m afraid to leave him alone in nature for very long – he’d be overwhelmed by furry friends…you know, like Snow White. 🙂

View of the harbour from up in the mountains

Chris...the goat whisperer....

Lloyd was awesome – we loved all his stories and information about the local customs, animals, vegetation, food, etc. My favourite part about visiting different countries is learning about the local ways of life.

We arrived at the beach and holy moly – was it gorgeous! It was very private, just the two jeeps on our tour were there (maybe 20 people in all), plus the tour guides and drivers. A group setup a makeshift soccer field and had fun playing by the water. Chris and I swam most of the time and vegged in the sun. We enjoyed some very tasty rum punch as well. 🙂 The natural beauty of the beach was amazing – it seemed untouched by commercialism and was very remote. We needed a 4×4 to travel the roads to get there and we didn’t mind the occasionally bumpy ride. We would totally recommend it for some peace and quiet in a gorgeous setting. We were sad to leave!

The 4x4 jeeps at the beach

Anse la Voute - one side

Anse la Voute - other side

Anse la Voute - straight (albeit crooked..lol)

Back on the ship, showered, napped, then got ready for dinner – it was the second formal night so we got all dressed up again, which I love. 🙂 For dinner tonight, we finished our second bottle of wine so tomorrow we’ll be picking a new one. For starters, we both had the escargots (came with a baguette slice).

Snaaaiiilllls 🙂

For our entrees, I had the lemon-confit topped grouper. Chris had the jumbo tiger shrimp. Both were very good.

My grouper - it came with peas and dried cherries, cauliflower and mustard potatoes (under the fish)

Chris' shrimp

For dessert, we had sherbet (me orange, Chris lime). The desserts didn’t really appeal to us this time (amaretto cake, baked Alaska, light NY cheesecake).

Then we did some more photo-browsing and shopping (rum!), and back to the room to relax and rest up for tomorrow’s zip-lining in St. Kitts! So excited. 🙂

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Omg omg omg This was the best day ever, by far! We boarded our tour bus and enjoyed our ride to the beach (first stop beach, second stop segway). And although I forgot my memory card in my laptop and couldn’t take pics of the beach (DOH!), all hope was not lost (see later for details). 

The stop at the beach was short but sweet – beautiful turquoise and clear water, soft white sand…very nice relaxing pre-Segway break. 🙂 Back on the bus, and more touring the island – our tour guide Elridge Jones was just hilarious. Then we stopped at a remote location in north-eastern Barbados in the parish of St. Lucy and met up with our team of 3 Segway experts. We got to strap on knee pads, elbow pads and a helmet, then got a quick intro on how to operate our Segway, then we were off! And it was AWESOME!!! Chris and I took to them very quickly – it felt really natural. We got to see the natural side of Barbados and various coves along the northern end of the island…it was gorgeous! We got to zip around paths, up hills, down hills, gliding all over the place – just fantastic! We were given bottles of water at the beginning and a slice of banana bread at the end. Now – about the camera issue. One of the guides (Ray) asked us if we wanted our picture taken and we explained the story of my forgetting the memory card in my laptop…he actually went over to the owner (who happened to be on the tour with us) and he offered to take some pics for us – how awesome is that!!!! We gave him our email address at the end of the tour and he’s supposed to send them to us. Very cool!

EDIT: The pics arrived – see below!

Me, laughing my head off, as usual... 🙂

The whole tour was fantastic and I highly recommend it to anyone going to Barbados. On the way back to the boat, we drove by the “touristy” side of the island along the coast and saw all the resorts. We passed by Oprah’s place, Richard Branson’s (the Virgin guy) and Simon Cowell’s – all were huge, not surprisingly. Rihanna also has a home here but it was further inland. Tiger “Cheetah” Woods got married there. The tour bus guide was really funny… The entire tour was awesome. We got back to the ship, showered and got ready for dinner (casual night). 

Dinner – we started another bottle of wine (kept the other half for tomorrow). For starters, I had the chicken quesadilla and Chris had the sushi. 

My chicken quesadilla - came with salsa, sour cream and guacamole

Chris' sushi: seared tuna, salmon, mussel and marinated seafood

For our entrees, Chris had the jerked pork loin and I had the braised short ribs. 

My short ribs with fried rice, garlic crispy green beans and sesame eggplant. Chris dug into his pork loin too quickly so I couldn't take a photo

Dessert was funny – I had the warm melting chocolate cake. Chris was torn between the warm fig, date and cinnamon cake served with rum raisin ice cream and the strawberry cheesecake. The waiter just told him to have both, which he did. 🙂 Decaf cappuccino for me, regular cappuccino for him. 

Warm melting chocolate cake

Warm fig, date and cinnamon cake

Strawberry cheesecake

During dinner, we talked about how much we enjoyed the segway tour and how the “active” part of it was a lot of fun. Tomorrow’s excursion is the 4×4 tour and beach getaway in St. Lucia, then ziplining in St Kitts. For St Maarten, we had planned a beach day and village tour but we decided to review the offerings to see if there was something we would prefer doing and guess what – we switched our tour for the America’s Cup Regatta! Here’s the description: Experience the thrill of racing the famous 12-metre race boats Stars & Stripes, Canada II, and True North. You’ll have the opportunity to compete in your own race around a shortened America’s Cup course. The America’s Cup is the world’s oldest continuously contested trophy in sports, and a symbol of excellence and national achievement. You will participate in one of the most exclusive sporting events in the world as you grind the winch, trim the sails or take the helm to help lead your crew to victory. This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience where no experience is necessary. How cool does that sound?! 🙂 

After dinner, we arranged the excursion swap, then we enjoyed the Marriage show (like a newlywed game), then a really funny juggler (Victor Zuniga), then a comedian (Percy Crews II). Off to bed!

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So. What a day.

Started out with our usual breakfast…we docked at 10am and our tour was at 10:30am. Our tour was “Emerald Pool and Beach Pleasures” which included a visit to the Emerald Pool, time spent at a volcanic sand beach (black sand) and a tour through the villages on the island. We boarded our AC bus and were on our way – the first stop turned out to be the beach. Got a free drink, settled down on our beach chairs under an umbrella.

Funny thing – Chris didn’t want to swim – he said something about the beach wasn’t appealing to him. Ha – if we only knew!!!! So we relaxed, watched the water, read, chatted. It was a nice day. Then I noticed that there were two tourists in a rowboat with a local but not really going anywhere… I wasn’t sure what was going on – thought they might have gotten a tour to row them out to a dock further out to sea but they weren’t going anywhere very fast… Then, the guards came…. At first I thought they were going to stop the rowboat – I thought maybe the rower wasn’t allowed to take the boat or something but they started pointing and Chris said there was something floating in the water. So the rowboat heads over to the floating thing – I didn’t have my glasses on and it looked like an animal or debris of some kind. Ya….no. Turns out it’s a dead guy!!! I’ve never seen a crowd gather so fast – once the rowboat started heading over to the body, it took just a few seconds for more guards and half the beach to gather and of course, it had to be right next to our beach chairs – like 25 feet away from us. These poor tourists (older couple) who were still in the boat… The man tourist threw a rope around the “thing” (still not sure what it was) and they start rowing back. They get to shore and pull it out of ther water – yup, local man, naked, dead, stiff, black skin with a tinge of blue. I have never seen a dead body before other than under normal circumstances (hospitals and funeral homes) and seeing it was shocking… They pulled him out and laid him down. An arm was sticking up in the air – it was quite gruesome. They brought him closer to one of the cabins on the beach and covered him with towels (except for the arm that kept sticking up in the air) while a huge crowd of onlookers were gaping. Some even took pictures..can you believe it? I mean really – this was someone’s son, father, brother, friend. No respect… Anyway, the crowd thinned – we had never left our chairs. That was our first stop. We left the beach and they still hadn’t cleared out the body. All I can think of now is Thank God we didn’t swim…

Next stop – Emerald Pool. We got there and it was a madhouse. Tons of tour buses (there were 4 ships in port so no wonder). We made our way down to the pool and it took a good 15 minutes down this somewhat steep trail (with steps and rocks) through the rainforest down to the pool/waterfall. It was hot and I was sweating before we even got there…and once there, it was so crowded. It was pretty impressive though and really pretty but the crowds really made it difficult to appreciate the natural beauty of it…also knowing that we had to trek back up the trail to get out was pretty daunting. Anyway, we made it, and back on the bus we went.

Pic taken on trail to Emerald Pool

Emerald Pool, overrun by tourists 🙂

The next part was driving through the towns and the guide told us all about the different buildings and local lore. It was interesting and probably my favorite part (minus the initial novelty of the black sand pre-dead guy). We passed through the botanical gardens and I really liked the banyan tree – it was huge! We stopped at an overlook which showed a nice view of the island. Then back to the ship! The whole tour was about 5 hours long.

Showered, napped, then got ready for formal night! We didn’t even take pics of ourselves!!! We’ll see if the ones the ship’s photogs took turned out. We headed out and it was fun to see everyone dressed up although not everyone did. Or maybe it’s just what we consider formal (suit and tie for Chris, formal dress/gown for me) was different than others’ idea of dressing up. No matter. We looked nice. 🙂

Dinner was awesome, as usual. We finished the other half of the wine bottle we started last night. Fo our starters, Chris had the Strawberry Bisque (cool strawberry thin soup – very refreshing), I had the “Greek farmer’s salad” (no olives) and they were both good. Our entrees were identical – prime rib (medium rare) au jus, with baked potato and a few onion rings as garnish. Very good. We both had the cherries jubilee for dessert (anything with fruit, booze and vanilla ice cream is awesome), with a cappuccino (me) and espresso (Chris).

My salad

Chris' bisque

Main - mmm priiime riiiiib

Cherries jubilee - I took a bite of the ice cream before remembering to take a pic!

Then we were off to do some shopping (they had the cutest stuffed animals at one of the ship’s shops so we got some for the nieces and nephew), we contemplated getting some booze since it really was so much cheaper than back home. We visited the art gallery – we had seen one painting that we really liked hanging on one of the ship’s decks and were curious to see the cost – we think it’ll be part of the auction though..no price tag on it. We passed by the photo place to see our past pics and how they turned out – so-so.

Back to the room to plan tomorrow’s day and veg out a bit and write my blog about the dead dude. I still can’t believe that happened. It’s unfortunate but Dominica will always be Dead Man’s Isle to me. The island itself is still pretty raw and hasn’t been “tourist-ified” yet which was nice. It was also cool to get off the ship and on the first corner at the end of the pier was an RBC branch (our bank, Royal Bank of Canada). Awesome.

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On Day 2, we were docked in St. Thomas. We’ve been here before (first time on our honeymoon in 2003) and we decided to go to the same beach (Magen’s Bay) since it was gorgeous the first time too. But since our excursion was only at 12:30, we spent the morning on the ship. Breakfast was on the Lido deck – (buffet), then we took in some rays on deck for about an hour and a half – it was so quiet – lots of people got off the ship already. We had a lenghty discussion over the mini golf course up on one of the upper decks – Chris thinks having a mini golf course on a moving ship is similar to trying to play pool. I think they have the technology to compensate for the movement of the ship. We’ll have to go check it out so I can prove him wrong. 🙂

View from the deck in the morning - Welcome to St. Thomas!

Check out the size of that huge yacht - crazy!

We grabbed a quick lunch at the 24-hour pizzeria (mmm margherita pizza), had some ice cream at the 24-hour ice cream bar, then prepped for our tour. Magen’s Bay is a gorgeous bay/cove with turquoise water and soft sand, few waves, very tranquil. We spent most of the time there swimming and relaxing under a shade tree. On the way back to the ship, we stopped at a couple of overlooks for some photo ops.

Here we are at the overlook - you can see the beach we were at behind us.

Got back to the room, showered to get rid of the salt water, got ready for our evening. Our first stop was the casino for our craps and blackjack class. Craps is very complicated. I already knew blackjack but learned a couple of new things. After the casino, we headed to the dining room for dinner – this is always the highlight of our day. 🙂 And I took pics tonight (and will try to do so for the rest of our meals). Chris chose our first bottle of wine (they hold it in their cellar if you don’t finish it so you can have it the next day) – Robert Mondavi Twin Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon (notes of dark cherry and chocolate – yum!). For starters, I had the fried mozzarella and mixed greens (came with a tomato dipping sauce) – pretty good, Chris had the Tom Ki Gai soup (cocunut, lemongrass and chicken) – it was a bit spicy and quite good.

Fried mozzarella with mixed greens

Our entrees: I had the Assorted Seafood Newberg (MMMmmmmm – shrimp, scallops, clams, saffron rice – realllly good). Chris had the rack of lamb dijonnaise and rosemary, with carrot puree, potatoes and zucchini – also very good.

My seafood newberg - even the cheesy breadstick was awesome

Chris' lamb

We had identical desserts: tiramisu and cappucino. Another very satisfying meal – LOVE this part of cruising. 🙂

Hubba hubba

After dinner, we checked out a couple of shows: The Battle of the Sexes quiz, and the Game Show Mania quiz show. We laughed so hard, I was crying (those who know me know that anytime I laugh really hard, my eyes water really bad…) 🙂 It was one of those evenings. Popped over to the Irish bar for a drink (vodka tonic with lime), played some slots (I did, Chris gave all gamblers the evil eye lol), then back to the room. We had our first towel animal – isn’t he cute, along with chocolates and our Fun Times for tomorrow’s ship activities. AND – guess what we received under our door – the excursion tickets for the Segway Tour in Barbados on Wednesday – Woohoo! Another life list item will be done! So excited.

Off to bed to get some rest for tomorrow’s day in Dominica – we’ll be on the Emerald Pool & Beach Pleasures tour. Should be fun. And tomorrow night is the captain’s dinner, so it’s our first formal night. I’m already looking forward to dinner!!

Off to bed!

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Cruise Day 1: Arrival in San Juan, aboard the ship!

Our day started a bit wonky with our 8:30 flight being cancelled and we were bumped up to the 8am flight. No big deal. However, when we landed in Newark, due to weather conditions, our connecting flight was delayed for about 1.5 hours and was scheduled to leave at 12:25pm and it was a 3.5 hour flight. The ship was set to sail at 10pm so we had lots of time to get there. No big deal if we arrived at the port at 5-6pm. There were lots of people talking about problems they had getting to the airport. Which brings me to the family from hell. This group had a hell of a time getting to this flight – cancellations, then having to take a train to another airport and the train was delayed 5 hours…you name it, it happened. So they were supposed to make the 9am flight that morning, but didn’t make it in time and — “the plane took off without us!” (Said with tone of shock and disbelief. Their luggage did though, but not them. So the airline was jumping through hoops to get them on our flight, which was the 10:45am (now delayed to depart at 12:25pm). They were asking for volunteers to give up their spots in exchange for a first class ticket on tomorrow’s flight + a $500 travel voucher. Half the flight was trying to make it to a ship…good luck with that. Anyhoo – they all make it on the flight – the whole lot of them with adults, grandparents, kids, the whole shebang – and of course they all preboard because of the kids. No big deal.

Then the plane pulls away from the gate and so began the Rise of the Demon Spawn. The kid was cute. He had a cute face, chubby pink cheeks. He looked all innocent when his yap was shut and he was standing on his own two feet. Little did we know that his tiny 4-yr-old body housed a screaming terror just itching to get out and entertain the entire plane for almost 3.5 hours… And the parents and adults ion the group? Nothing. No firm “NO”, no “sit down and shut up”, no nothing. So typical. The other kids were fine – there were about 5 total. There were the occasional grumblings but those were short-lived. This kid whined about everything and when he wasn’t whining, he was screaming and sobbing at the top of his lungs with the whole plane wondering why the parents weren’t doing anything to shut him up… The kids was throwing himself in the aisle crying. Even the flight crew had the sense to stay away… Anyhoo. We just prayed that this would be the last we saw of them.

We land — oh, and doesn’t the whole family stop everyone from getting off the plane by hogging the aisle and arguing with yet another child that wants to be carried…this was just the classic “we’re entitled” family. It was pretty hilarious if you took a step back – these kids are going to be total failures in life if they think they’ll get everything handed to them… Anyway…we get our bags, head over to the Carnival shuttle…we’re getting excited about being so close to boarding our ship when lo and behold – THEY board the sane shuttle. Our new mantra: It’s a big ship. It’s a big ship. We haven’t seen them since and that’s the last I’ll mention of them because they’re not worth one more minute of my time.

Got to our room, headed out again to explore a bit, went to book the segway tour in Barbados since I wasn’t able to online, and boo! It’s full!!! We’re on the waiting list though so we’ll see if it pans out. Off to Day 1 dinner – so excited!!! I had the caesar salad to start, Chris had the sundried tomato cream soup. We both had the same entree – an indian vegetarian platter that had lots of different mini-dishes in it and it was AWESOME (ranged from mildly spicy to super hot). For dessert, I had the black forest gateau and cappuccino and Chris had the vanilla creme brulee and espresso. YUM. Off to a good start!! Tomorrow night we’re getting our wine situation figured out for the week.

We did our safety drill – no need to bring the life vest to the muster station. Good. We also heard an announcement that due to the weather issues and people’s flight delays, they were delaying the sail time from 10pm to midnight to accommodate as many people as they could. That was nice.

We went to bed and didn’t even feel the ship sail – we woke up docked in St. Thomas! Stay tuned for Day 2.

The first shot of the ship, taken from the shuttle. It takes great skill as a photographer to capture a shot this clear. Pls ignore the crane.

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Yesterday was prep day for our cruise. This involved planning what clothes, etc., to bring, doing laundry, trying on things, dropping things off at the dry cleaner’s, then heading to the mall for odds and ends. These odds and ends were: a white cardi for me for nights on the ship (AC gets cool), hats for both Chris and I to keep the sun at bay, sunglasses for Chris, 2 ties for Chris for formal nights (he has ties…but can’t find the ones he typically wears with the 2 shirts he wants to bring…how can ties go missing? anyhoo), sunblock, a cool lime green leather luggage tag to spot our bag easily among all the other black bags, and this adorable beach bag from the Gap:

I can fit water bottle, my camera, our towels, reading material, and lots of other stuff in there! I had fun trying on all my formal wear and will be bringing 1 formal dress for the night of the captain’s dinner, and 2 semi-formals (1 black to wear on the ship’s second formal night and one ivory floral to wear on another just because we like to dress up :)). Add shoes and bags to that. Speaking of shoes – it’s actually pretty funny that we have to bring so many shoes. Since there are so many occasions and different activities, we need appropriate shoes:

  • Me: flip flops for the beach/pool, strappy black sandals for formal nights, beige sandals for semi-formal night, closed-toe slip on sneakers for ziplining in St. Kitts and brown everyday sandals for everything else (time spent on the ship, etc.).
  • Chris: black dress shoes for formal nights, white/beige casual shoe for time spent on the ship and zip-lining, Teva sandals for beach/pool.

The rest of our clothes is the usual:

  • Me: Formal night: dresses (2), Other times on the ship: capris (2), skort (1), skirts (2), dresses (2), blouses (2), cardigan (1), long-sleeve tee (1). Beach/pool/excursions: shorts (4), tank tops (4), bikinis (4), coverup.
  • Chris: Formal night: Dress pants (2), dress shirts (2), ties (2), blazer (1). Other times on the ship: casual pants (1), jeans (1), casual shirt (1), polos (4), long-sleeve tee (1). Beach/pool/excursions: swim shorts (2), shorts (3), tshirts (4).

And then the usual: Socks, undies, toiletries, camera, hats, sunglasses, jewelry, watch, journal to write notes in, etc.

I have a pretty well-established vacation strategy. I’m a pretty good packer (lots of ziplock bags for anything that could leak and I place them in the outside pockets of our luggage just in case) and unpack everything once we arrive. Anything we won’t be wearing again on the trip goes back into the suitcase so by the time our last day comes around, we have very little left to pack. I typically time things properly as well (i.e. we were due for a new loofah/poof thing, so I bought a new one yesterday, will pack our old one and will throw it out on our last day of vacation). That way it makes room in our suitcase for booze–I mean souvenirs. 🙂

Funny thing about Barbados that you would only know if you’ve been: you’re not allowed to wear anything with a camouflage pattern. You won’t be allowed into the city if you’re wearing any and the ship warns everyone about it. I can’t recall why they have this rule, but something to keep in mind.

Also, we like wine but can’t finish a bottle between the two of us in one evening, or sometimes like different wine with our meal (white / red), you can buy 1-2 bottles at the beginning of the week and they’ll keep it for you throughout the rest of the week so you can enjoy a glass with dinner every night without worrying about not finishing the bottle. Neat.

Today will be more laundry and going through the list to make sure we have everything. I’m literally a-buzz with excitement for this much-needed trip.

Anchors a-weigh!

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This morning, we officially booked our cruise, flights and shore excursions. We’ll be on the Carnival Victory sailing from San Juan, with ports of call in St Thomas, Dominica, Barbados, St. Lucia, St. Kitts and San Maarten. I’m very excited 🙂   

Itinerary:  

     

Here’s what we’ve booked for excursions:   

St. Thomas: Magen’s Bay Beach Getaway  

    

Acclaimed as one of the ten most beautiful beaches in the world by the National Geographic Society, Magen’s Bay is an ideal getaway during your visit to St. Thomas.    

On this beautiful excursion you will:   

  • Begin your day with a scenic drive, by open-air safari bus or van, to Drake’s Seat – a breathtaking vantage point which offers a commanding view of Magen’s Bay and surrounding islands from which Sir Francis Drake himself once viewed his fleet.
  • Continue on to Magen’s Bay where you will have approximately two hours to experience the crystal clear waters, white sand beaches, and a spectacular palm fringed coastline.
  • Enjoy plenty of swimming, sunbathing, beachcombing, and just plain old relaxing before your return drive to the ship.

Dominica: Emerald Pool & Beach Pleasures    

Emerald Pool

 

Volcanic sand beach

 

 Discover the natural beauty of Dominica’s waterfalls and black volcanic sand beach. On this beautiful and scenic excursion you will:   

  • Take a short drive elevating to 400 feet at Morne Bruce for a panoramic view of the city of Roseau.
  • See some of the island’s most exotic trees and the National Birds – the Sisserou and Jacot Parrots, at the beautiful 40-acre Botanical Park.
  • Continue your journey up Springfield Valley to the Morne Trois Piton National Park.
  • Enjoy a leisurely walk through the exotic rain forest, for approximately 15 minutes, arriving at the 50-foot cascading waterfall.
  • Take a dip (if you wish) in the Emerald Pool.
  • Reboard your bus for a drive through the Layou Valley to Mero Beach, one of the most beautiful volcanic sand beaches.
  • Bask in the sunshine and enjoy the refreshing Caribbean Sea.
  • Enjoy the complimentary rum punch and other exotic fruit juices while you relax on the beach.

Barbados: Segway Adventure & beach   

Barbados Segway Tour

 

See the beautiful scenery and hidden coves of Barbados on your own state-of-the-art Segway PT X2, cruising along the rugged paths and roads less traveled. On this excursion, you will:   

  • Relax and enjoy a scenic drive, for approximately one hour, from the port to the northernmost parish of Barbados.
  • Listen to your guide’s commentary on the surrounding area along the way.
  • Have an orientation and practice ride to familiarize yourself with the Segway PT’s features.
  • Learn that the eco-friendly Segway Personal Transporter is electric, two-wheeled, self-balancing, fun, and easy to ride.
  • Follow your guides along rural paths to beautiful coves and bays surrounding the northeastern coast of Barbados.
  • Glide along flat surfaces, maneuver downhill, and traverse over some rocky terrain.
  • Have the opportunity to dismount your Segway along the way for excellent photo opportunities of the stunning coast.
  • Quench your thirst with a complimentary beverage and a delicious slice of local banana or coconut bread after your ride.
  • Transfer to a popular west coast beach for a relaxing swim before returning to the port.

St. Lucia: 4×4 Beach Getaway   

Come and explore a side of paradise often hidden to the casual visitor, this excursion is perfect for the more adventurous and those that love nature.   

On this excursion you will:    
  • Explore the Atlantic Coast on this fun and rugged scenic adventure.
  • Board a specially-designed Land Rover Jeep for a ride through the city of Castries, up picturesque Morne Fortune and then off the main road heading in a northeasterly direction along the Old Victoria Road.

  

  

  •  Stop at various points for views of the Atlantic coast & lush vegetation.You will have some bumpy spots before entering the community of Monchy and other smaller villages before you enjoy your off road experience on the bumpy trail to Anse la Voute.
  • Swim, relax, or walk along this enchanting beach and behold the beautiful Atlantic scenery that surrounds you.
  • Don’t miss the opportunity to see paradise from a different perspective, designed specially for adventurous nature lovers!

St. Kitts: Sky Safari Zip Lining

  

Ziplining! This will be me!

 

Experience the adrenaline rush as you “fly” over the rainforest, 25 stories above the ground! On this excursion you will:   

  

  • Depart from the pier.
  • Take a short ride to the historic Wingfield Estate where your spectacular 4-zipline adventure takes place.
  • Listen to a short orientation and training session.
  • Hop into a Land Rover for the trek up the famous Valley of the Giants, where you may encounter monkeys frolicking among the wild fruit trees.
  • Take in the panoramic views of Brimstone Hill National Fortress, Old Road Village, the Caribbean Sea, and Mount Liamuiga en route to your first zipline.
  • Sit back and enjoy the bird’s eye view as you glide, up to 1,400 feet across, using the most technologically advanced zipline equipment in the world; this system utilizes a cutting edge four point paragliding harness, hands free braking, and a patented Skyline Trolley and Catch-Block System.
  • Zip across valleys and over a stream, through tunnels of vegetation to your landing point.
  • Enjoy amazing views of the rainforest below and the coastline in the distance; novice and experienced adventurers will be thrilled with this high-flying experience!

 

St Maarten: Best of St. Maarten Island & Beach Combo   

  

Shopping at Marigot

 Experience the charm and scenery of this dual personality island which has been flying the flags of both Holland and France since 1648.   

  

On this excursion you will:   

  

  • Take an air conditioned bus from Philipsburg, the Dutch capital, past the Great Salt Pond and through the countryside to the French side of the island.
  • Drive through several quaint towns and fishing villages across to the North side of the island.
  • Make a short stop in Marigot, the French capital. Feel the truly European ambiance as you browse the open-air markets, quaint shops, boutiques and sidewalk cafes.
  • Continue to a local beach for approximately 1½ hours of sun, surf and strolls along the beach.
  • Enjoy spectacular views of Simpson Bay as you drive over Cole Bay Hill.

   

  

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