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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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