Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Day Five: St Maarten

I was awaken by the announcement from our Captain that we arrived into St Maarten around 8am.  I peeked through our cabin curtains to see the sun was out and it was bright.  I worked on our blog for a bit and then saw the sun disappeared.  Much to my surprise the Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas was docked right next to us.  Yes, the Oasis does a great job as a sun blocker.   

We ended up having a late breakfast right before the buffet switched over to lunch.  

We left the ship around 11am and it was already quite hot outside.  As we were leaving the dock area, a photographer tried to talks us into getting our picture taken.  We declined and I noticed he was wearing a name badge with Royal Caribbean written all over it.  Did he not see us leave the Princess ship?  We made our way through the shopping area of the port and walked out the main cruise port gate.  We made a left and followed the road for about a mile and made a left to head into main beach/shopping area.  Wow!  Was it ever a hot day.  

Along the way to the nearby beach, we could see some of the hurricane devastation.  We saw several cargo containers crumpled.  Others had large holes as though an object pierced it way through the container’s walls.  Many of the palm trees had no leaves at all.  Several buildings located up along the hillside lost their roofs and a few walls.   

As we approached the start of the beach area, we noticed additional hurricane damage. A few hotels stood without their roofs.  We continued walking and then noticed brightly painted restaurants and cafes were open and ready for customers as well as the hotels.  

We chatted with a few locals.  One of beaches I had wanted to go to, Divi Little Bay was closed. along with another nearby resort/beach.  

We decided we had enough sun and headed towards the main cobbled stone street.  It has been several years since we’ve walked the downtown area and that time they were putting in the cobbled street.  Now, it looks like they will have to replace it as some areas lost its foundation resulting in uneven areas.  A church was having it’s roof repaired.  Several shops were being renovated.  Others were closed.  The ones that were opened had folks standing outside beckoning folks to come in and shop.  

We went back to the beach front to look for lunch.  We found a small restaurant that had a grill out front.  We ended up having BBQ chicken and Jerk chicken.     

After our wonderful meal we walked back to the ship.  I believe it was hotter here in St Maarten than it was in St Thomas.  I’m not complaining, just stating a fact.  We have seen lots of blue skies and white puffy clouds.  We are enjoying it immensely.  

In the late afternoon we were lounging in our balcony waiting to leave port.  I was looking down along the dock area when I saw the crew of the Oasis of the Seas was taking a gurney with a body bag on it off it’s ship and loaded it into an awaiting van.  That was a shock for us to see.  

We saw the St Maarten Police car driving down pier between the two ships.  They stopped at our ship and chatted with a few uniformed ship’s staff.  Then they drove down to the end of the pier where the van was still waiting with the body inside.  The police visited with the uniformed staff from the Oasis of the Seas for a few minutes and then left.  Shortly after that, the Oasis sailed out of port.  For a few minutes, the two ships were sounding their dueling horns.  We of course won.  Psssst!  Princess has the best horns.  :)

We were scheduled to leave port around 6pm and instead left around 7pm.  Which of course delayed our dining time.  Hubby and I always do sail-a-way from our balcony.  It’s a tradition.  

Our movie at MUTS tonight was the latest version Pirates of the Caribbean.  Since we had a late start with dinner, we arrived late at MUTS.  We found lounge chairs, but no popcorn.  We’d have to wait to get popcorn at 10pm.  But I will be asleep by then….Zzzzzzzzz.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Day Four: St Thomas

We woke up mid-morning to find we were still sailing at a pretty good clip.  We were scheduled to be in St Thomas around 1pm today.   Looks like a lazy morning for us until we get into port.  

I was packing my camera bag in our living space when I saw something quite large fly by our balcony.  It was a bird!    I had no idea what kind (other than black/dark gray body and white head and another type all white) and will have to Google it later.  In the meantime, I snapped several pictures and was able to catch one flying high.  They were all over the port side of our ship.  Some were diving for fish.  Lovely way to start the day.  

As we were sailing into St Thomas, there were places I could not identify.  I was used to seeing full palm trees either single ones lined up or groups of them and used them as landmarks along with the boats anchored in familiar areas.  Now I could see homes and building structures that I did not recall seeing in previous years when we visited this island.  That’s why I did not recognize Honeymoon Beach.  There were no boats anchored in that area.  

At some point it felt as if the ship was slowly gliding into port.  It was so quiet even on the port side of our ship.  Fellow cruisers were out in their balconies and we could hear some chatter, but it was really quiet.  Today, we were the first ship to dock at Havensight followed by a Carnival ship and it was 12:30pm.  A Royal Caribbean ship was already docked at Crown Bay.  

We could see green all over the island.  A few spots looked brown from what could be from a small mud slide or run off from the rains.  We could see lots of homes and buildings that we did not noticed before especially in the upper parts of the island and hill side.  There was only a handful of expensive yachts docked at Yacht Haven and a couple of boats anchored in the harbor.  Normally we would see lots of activity and lots of boats anchored here.  

Once we docked at Havensight, we could see some buildings and homes being worked on and hear some heavy equipment being used in the distance.  We could hear the traffic noise from the cars and taxi getting around the island.  

We had no excursions planned for this island.  We wanted to walk around and meet with a few locals and maybe purchase a few pieces of local artwork.     

We left our ship in the early afternoon.  After a quick walk around in the Havensight shopping area (most shops were open) we left port and headed to downtown Charlotte Amalie.  Along the way we passed Yacht Haven.  Their wrought iron fence that surrounds the shopping/business perimeter was propped up heavy wood beams.  We entered an area where the heavy gates used to be.  It was quiet here.  Some of the businesses were closed.  We walked out to the dock area and noticed the pier to the right of us was closed off.  They were fixing/replacing the lines that extend into each slip.  To the left it looked like recent work was completed and that’s where the expensive yachts were docked.  

We headed back out and continued walking towards town.  We followed along the sidewalk next to the road with long lines of cars and taxi.  When we made it into Charlotte Amalie, we were looking for a place to cross to the other side.  Hubby made a point of looking for a cross walk and then a light.  That’s when we noticed the lights were not working at any of the intersections.  We waited patiently and found a “space” between cars to cross.  

The main shopping area was bustling on what I would call Main Street.  It’s the narrow one way road with shops/buildings on either side.  We noticed a few storefronts that used to be shops, now had a Lease sign on the boarded up windows.  Another sign said “we’ve moved across the street”.  Most of the shops were open and welcoming our fellow cruisers.  

After chatting with a few shop owners, we found Glady’s Restaurant & Bar located on Royal Dane Mall area.  We had to walk down an alley and make a right into another alley between two narrow buildings and then a left down another alley.  I had the jerk chicken with rice and peas and plantains while Hubby had the curry chicken.  It was a nice Caribbean meal and a nice break from the ship’s food.  While we ate our lunch indoors, it started to rain cats and dogs outside.  It lasted for a few minutes and then the sun popped out again.  

We made a point to stop in Royal Caribbean shop to look for G, but we found out he no longer works there.  Hope he and his family are doing well.  

It is hot in St Thomas.  It’s taken some time for us to get used to the heat when we were used to the frigid cold back home.  We are thankful for the clouds that move around the island as it provides some relief for a few minutes.  

We walked into a few shops displaying art work and some crafts.  One shop owner (a fellow photographer) finally received electricity at her home two weeks ago.  She said she was tired of “camping” and well just plain tired.  For the last few weeks, she was able to get a weak cell signal until recently.  She assumed they were fixing or replacing the nearest cell tower.  A few days ago, trucks finally came and removed all the debris from her surrounding home as well as her neighbors.  She told me she was thankful for folks like us (cruisers) to come to the their island.  For now, we (cruisers) are the only tourist on the island.  Many of the hotels are closed due to damage as well as the resorts (along with their beaches) to tourists and many were housing the workers who were helping with the rebuild efforts.  We purchased some art work from her and thanked her for her time and for sharing her experience with us.  

We continued walking around for a bit and noticed how tired we were (not used to the bright sun) and decided to head back to the ship.   Walking back was not an option and we shared a taxi with another couple.  Good thing as it started to rain on our way back to the ship. More like a downpour.   

We heard from a fellow cruiser that Magen’s Bay was a beautiful beach and was very crowded with passengers from the three ships in port.  Magen’s Bay was the only open beach on the island.  

In the early evening, I spent a lot of time on our balcony enjoying the views and serenity of the island.  I took lots of pictures as the sun was setting and casting a warm glow around the island.  A catamaran was sailing back from an excursion.  I called this one the “party boat” and they were a lively bunch.  

When the sun started to set, I watched as the islanders began turning on their lights at the shops and at their homes around the island.  It was beautiful to see.  Several small boats were coming back into port.  They looked as though they were transporting folks from around the island. 

We were all aboard around 8:30pm and left the port before 9pm.  We were sad to leave St Thomas.  It still is a beautiful island.  They have a lot of rebuilding to do and it will take some time.  We will definitely be back.   

Monday, January 15, 2018

Day Three: At Sea!

Day Three:  At Sea!

It seems our cabin is overly creaky with some added popping noise while we sleep.  The ship is only going 17-18 knots or less.  The seas are slight though I haven’t checked the ships channel to get the accurate reading.  When we hit a nice swell the extensive creaking and popping is actually waking us up every now and then.  

We finally wake up late in the morning.  That’s what sea days are for.  We get ready for our day of lounging, but we have to leave the cabin so Elie (our steward) can freshen our cabin.  As I open our door to leave, Elie has planted his cart outside our door and he greets us with a smile.  We exchange our “Good Mornings” and I insert our “Cabin Needs Refreshing” card into our key slot.  Just in case he forgets.  He smiles again.  

Elie is from the Philippines.  Elie is a nickname that his supervisor suggested he use.  His real name is quite unique and very, very long.  It’s still early in the week and early in our cruise adventure, but Elie is warming up to us.  Whenever he sees us walking back to our cabin, he quickly walks to our cabin door and opens it for us.  Such a gentleman.  On Sunday when the TVs were sitting in the hallway, Hubby being a funny guy, told Elie to ship it to our home.  Elie quickly responded with “Why not take it now?  I’ll take one end and you grab the other.”  At that point, I knew all was good in our cruising world.  I’m looking forward to see what these two wise guys come up with in the next few days.  I’ll be sure to report back.  

I ran into our Canadian friends.  We saw them at our Muster station and I find out there cabin in on Deck 15 (Lido) and they are almost directly above us.  During our sail-a-way on Saturday, they looked down from their balcony and saw this guy with a green hat.  Yes, that would be Hubby.  I’m sure we’ll run into them tomorrow while in St Thomas.  

In our cruising world and adventure, it’s about meeting people from all over the world.  Not only our fellow cruisers, but the cruise staff as well.  So far we have met the staff from Anntonina from Ukraine, Matthew from Canada, Teddy, Bella, & Elie from Phillipines, and Vivianno from India.  

I mentioned Teddy.  I have story to tell.  We met Teddy today by mistake.  Our mistake.  We had a lazy sea day of lounging followed by a late lunch around 2pm.  We had a reservation for a Maitre’D wine tasting in the Island Dining Room at 3pm.  We arrived at the door around 2:45pm only to find the doors closed.  I could see people sitting inside.  Teddy shows up and with a smile and says the wine tasting is done.  I look at him thinking he’s kidding and I say to him “it can’t be we just got here and I have an invitation”.   He mentions to me “did you remember to set your clocks forward last night?”  Oooops, no we did not.  No worries.  There will be another tasting next sea day.  

Later at night and after we watch a movie on the upper deck at MUTS, we head to the Market Place for some fruit and dessert.  We are sitting at a table and a gentleman dressed in a dark suit comes up to us and says “I know you two!”  I look up and it’s Teddy.  He has the biggest smile on his face.  He says he will come look for us and invite us to the next tasting.  Now, that’s service.  I’m sure he won’t let go of the look on my face from earlier in the day when I forgot to set my clock forward.  

Speaking of clocks.  Or Fitbit devices.  Or gadgets that keep time.  All of our gadgets and devices are set automatically to the time zone we’ve chosen on our devices.  As in “New York”.  I pulled out my iPhone (Airplane mode with WiFi turned on) and checked its settings.  Yep, “Set Automatically” is turned on (green) and “New York” is selected.  I turn off the setting and manually look for and select “America-St Thomas (AST)”.  At that point I also look up some other islands we will be visiting to make sure they will be in the same zone.  Then I’m able to change the actual time and move it forward by one hour.  

I also looked in my Fitbit application for settings.  Sure enough “Set Automatically” is turned on with “New York” selected.  I do the same for my Fitbit.  I sync my Fitbit watch with its iOS app.  I also help Hubby make the change on his iPad and his Fitbit as well.  All is now better in our cruising world.

So for my fellow cruisers, remember to take your gadgets off auto and manually set the time to ship’s time zone(s).  

Okay back to our scheduled program.

Since we had a late lunch, we decided we would have dinner at Vines and well that means Sushi!  It’s formal night and we dress accordingly or almost.  Hubby doesn’t want to wear a jacket.  Nor a tie.  Okay a polo shirt will work fine.  

We find a table in the middle of Vines on Deck 5.  This is where we meet Vivianno from India.  We order a bottle of wine to go with our light meal and have them store the bottle for us for another time.  The Sushi and Tapas are complementary.  We can order all one type or choose from the variety they have or try all.  On the tapas side I heard chicken wings, shrimp wrapped with bacon, pate, and one other item I forgot.  For Sushi, they offered Yellow Tail tuna, Ahi Tuna, and California Roll.  No GF soy sauce here and I left my GF packets in our cabin.  Lesson learned and I’ll be carrying my packets in my camera bag.  

While we’re people watching from Vines and enjoying our meal, the crew starts to setup the wine glasses to build the champagne fountain.  A couple next to us asks if I could take their picture for them.  Of course I would be happy to!  So I move them around Vines (away from the windows as the bright sun was creating havoc) and show them how to pose and ten pictures later we are done.  Hubby mentions to them I’m a photographer as they are reviewing their pictures and they are happy to have chosen the right person.  Glad I was able make their evening enjoyable.  

Several pieces of Sushi later, we decide to check out the upper decks and settle in for a movie on MUTS.  The upper deck lounges have new soft furnishings as well.  The padded loungers are extra comfy.  The Pizza guy comes by and offers to get us some slices.  No thank you maybe later.  The Popcorn guy provides us bags of popcorn.  We are ready for our movie.  

When we are back in our cabin for the night, I scan our Princess Patter to see when and where we’ll dock.  We sail into St Thomas around 1pm and we’ll dock at Havensight.  We have to be back onboard around 8pm.  Looks like we are leaving port an hour early.  Good thing I checked.  I’m hoping to resolve my blog issue while in port which requires a good WiFi connection and I might have to sweet talk one of the bartenders on the island to login for me.  We’ll see.  

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Day Two: Princess Cays

We started out with smooth sailing out of Fort Lauderdale.  Then sometime in the early morning hours we could feel the swaying of the ship.  Then it started to rain.  We woke up to some commotion outside our cabin door.  I thought I heard someone singing up and down our hallway.  We finally woke up sometime after 8am.  

We got ourselves ready for the day and tidied up our cabin a bit.  We headed out and up to Deck 15 (Lido) to find some breakfast.  As we opened our cabin door we found out what the commotion was all about.  We found two 43” flat screens sitting in boxes outside our door.  The hallway along Deck 7 (Dolphin, port side) was lined up with two TVs per cabin.  Wow!  

We ended up on Deck 15 (Lido) in the buffet.  I was able to find fresh poached eggs, capers, some breakfast potatoes, and fresh pineapple.  

We arrived in to Princess Cays around 9:30am about the time we finished eating breakfast.  A lot of fellow cruisers were milling around and so the ship felt very crowded.  The Captain made an announcement that we have arrived and tenders from ashore would be coming out to the ship to pick us up and take us to the beach.  

We were in cruise-mode and definitely not in any hurry to get off.  We stopped in our cabin to pick up our complementary coffee card and headed down to Deck 5 for some Skinny Mochas at the International Cafe.  The main Piazza was humming with lots of folks waiting for the tenders to arrive and take them ashore.  Hubby managed to find a corner seat at Vines and we camped there for an hour.  And yes, I used this time to write my blog activities to be uploaded when the Internet connection is…well…not bogged down with my fellow cruisers.  So, just so you know, our blog might be updated around 2am or 4am.  Who knows as I need to figure out the best times.  I also need to look up in our hallway to see where the access points are located.  :)

We quickly gathered a few things and headed out to the tenders.  The water action was amazing.  The tender driver had to slow the engine down a bit when the rogue waves were approaching our vessel.  So we bobbled a bit in the water and then proceeded for a bit, bobbled again and the off we went.  We walked around the island (mostly to get our steps in) and I took lots of pictures for those of you following on our adventure.  One day you might see them here.  Sorry for the technical difficulties that are beyond my control.  

Since we had a late start getting off the ship and to the island we were able to find a bar area that was closed.  We found two stools facing the beach, ocean, and the Caribbean Princess and well…enjoyed the beautiful view.  I took a bunch of selfies (or tried to) and then captured a picture of hubby looking out towards the water.  I moved around and noticed a huge photo op!  I told Hubby to open his mouth and there you have it.  He was eating the back of the Caribbean Princess!  If any of you are following us on FB, you’ll know that I mentioned about using your imagination.  There you go!

After getting slightly red, we decided it was time to head back to the ship.  MUTS on the upper deck was showing the football games, but it was too chilly for us.  Hubby had gone back to the cabin while I was visiting several bars looking for wine glasses to bring back to our cabin.  When I finally made it back down to our Dolphin deck, I noticed a lot of open TV boxes in the hallways along with the old TVs inside them.  As I made my way down to our cabin, we had a visit inside our cabin.  They were installing our new TVs.  No time to take any pictures of this I found Hubby on our balcony and told him we need to leave and I had a surprise for him.  He followed me down to the closed casino area and sat at the lonely bar watching the JAX and PIT game on two screens.  A nice surprise and we enjoyed the quiet time together.  Okay so Hubby was watching the game while I was composing this blog post.  

It’s 3:30pm and I’m looking out the casino windows and it looks foggy outside.  So I blink a few times and it’s actually pouring outside.  The last tender to leave Princess Cays is 4pm.  I don’t believe anyone will be sitting on the upper deck of the tenders on their way back.  

I decide to hit the gym before the game ends.  Only had time to do circuit training before the place started to get really crowded.  I’m back in our cabin and watching our ship swing around starboard side to pick up the remaining tender.  The water is rough and I can see the tender bobbling up and down to get back.  

We have a 6pm reservation at a specialty restaurant called Sabatini’s tonight.  Looking for to this wonderful dining experience.  

I will posting the previous day’s post as soon as I finish composing it.  Tomorrow is a sea day and I hope to catch by then.  

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Day One: Caribbean Princess Embarkation

Thankfully we were up early and the sun was beckoning for us to come out and enjoy the morning.  The Caribbean Princess was already docked in Terminal 2 so we could see the backside of the ship from our balcony.  We made a quick Starbucks run down the 17th Street Causeway.   Then we headed back to the hotel to eat a light breakfast.  

I needed at least two hours to sort and repack our luggage.  We had a combination of our cold winter clothes and warm FL clothes mixed together.  Most of the heavy batteries,  gadgets, and reading materials we carried in our backpacks for our flight were moved to our luggage.  Three bottles of wine went into Hubby’s backpack along with his GoPro and iPad.  I unfortunately could not remove too much from my bag as I was carrying my cameras and lens.  You know the important stuff.  

We managed to leave our gorgeous room prior to check out time (11am) and headed out to flag a taxi.  Our driver was from Haiti and he took us along a shortcut to get to the terminal.  We dropped our luggage with a porter and headed into the Terminal to check in.  After going through security, hubby’s backpack was flagged.  We acknowledged the $15 corkage fee for the third bottle of wine.  The first two we could bring onboard for free.  We gave the wine checker our third bottle of wine and he stamped all over the front label of our bottle of wine.  We were free to go.  :)

We proceeded to the check-in counter to get our cruise card and the Princess rep gave us a different “check-in” card.  So we went from a Blue 5 to a Black Group-C because we are Elite.  The Princess reps were directing us to a waiting room full of fellow cruisers.  I could not tell if we were with the general population or with fellow Elite and Platinum cruisers.  We were waiting in the lounge for 10 minutes and when the groups were called starting with the Black Groups B & C.  That’s us!  

We had our official cruise embarkation photo taken.  The photographer had to take two shots of us.  So, I’ll be looking forward to see what happened with the first shot.  No, it was not me who blinked.  

Once we were onboard the ship, our cruise card was scanned and we got our picture taken.  It took us about 35 minutes from the time we left the hotel until we got onboard.  Not bad at all.  This was the first time we’ve arrived at the terminal early and before boarding started.  Waiting in the lounge was not bad.  

As we made our way up the stairs we noticed the cabins were not ready.  They had closed the entrances into the cabin hallways.  That was a sign to get something to eat.  That was our clue to head up to Deck 15 (Lido) for some food.  

We enjoyed a leisure buffet lunch while sitting in the new Planks dining area (what used to be Caribe Cafe).  I also enjoyed seeing the new contemporary soft seatings around the new dining venues.  

Back in March of 2017, the Caribbean Princess went through an $8M renovation.  The Horizon Court buffet became the World Fresh Marketplace dining venue (still buffet, but updated and an improvement).  The Caribe Cafe became two separate dinner dining venues called Planks BBQ and the other called Steamers Seafood.  During the breakfast and lunch times, Planks and Steamers offers an extension of the Marketplace and it’s free.  During the dinner hour Planks and Steamers become a specialty dining venue for additional $.  

Also part of the renovation included upgrading all the cabin mattresses and bedding.  Our cabin has a new sofa.  All the wood framed pictures have been replaced with printed canvas panels.  The carpeting in our cabin is also new.  I also noticed all the cabin hallway carpeting has changed.  The color coded carpet has been replaced and now Hubby and I can’t tell which side is port or starboard.  

Sometime after 12:30pm, an announcement was made all the cabins were ready.  With no luggage in sight I left Hubby to enjoy our cabin and I took my camera to capture shots around the ship.  I started on Deck 15 (Lido) and worked my way up taking exterior pictures.  I stopped in the Lotus Spa and made a haircut appointment this evening.  

Our muster was scheduled to start around 3:15 and we ended up going down to our muster station on Deck 7 (Promenade) in the Princess Theater.  This was the first time we did not need to take our life jackets with us to the muster station.  Nice change Princess.  

Our luggage appeared after the muster presentation.  Then there was a ship-wide announcement that a good number of folks did not attend the safety presentation and were told to meet in the Wheelhouse Bar immediately.  Fifteen minutes later (4:15pm) our ship dropped her lines and we were sailing out of Port Everglades.   It was beautiful clear day.

After a quick dinner, I dropped Hubby off at MUTS so he could enjoy some football time on the large outdoor screen.  I had some errands to run including changing our complementary specialty dining time at Sabatinis and the most important hair appointment at the Lotus Spa salon.  

At the Spa, Anntonina from the Ukraine consulted with me and examined my hair.  Yes, I know it’s quite dry.  Yes, my Hubby’s barber does a so-so job with cutting my hair.  I ask “can you please wave your magic wand and make my hair look healthy and well…fabulous?”  All I can say is “WOW!”  Anntonina did a fabulous job cutting and styling my hair.  I thoroughly enjoyed the special attention and well my “me” time.  

Tonight was an early lights out.  It was a long day for us and we could hardly keep our eyes open.   Zzzzzzzzz!

Friday, January 12, 2018

Another Day in Fort Lauderdale

We hit the sack early last night and had a well deserved night’s sleep, close to 10 hours.  We drew open the curtains in our room to find the sun shining.  It will be close to 80 degrees later today.  We decided to spend some time down at the beach before the expected showers would arrive in the late afternoon.  

While waiting to pick up the Trolley, we met a nice couple from Canada, Brent and Lorena.  They were carrying their chairs and heading down to the beach.  We happened to get off at the same stop and chatted with them as we walked along the beach area.  It was then we happened to find out that we were going to be on the same ship on Saturday.  A very nice couple indeed and I’m sure we’ll run into them on the ship.  

We parted ways and we went to find our regular breakfast cafe.  

A few years ago, Hubby go me hooked on Eggs Florentine.   Part of our intro into vacation mode is to enjoy this wonderful meal.  To keep with tradition, I’ve learned I can now order the same meals but without bread.  I now call this version my “Naked Eggs Florentine”.  

After an hour of shopping, we decide to hang out at the curved concrete boardwalk and do some people watching.  What a gorgeous day!

In the early afternoon, we head back to the hotel to take a quick nap and to enjoy our balcony time.  We are definitely enjoying our balcony time and well…the view!  It’s getting hot out there as well.  Love it!

There is only one ship in port today the Crown Princess.  You can tell that most of the FLL area including the 17th Street Causeway and on the beach does not feel crowded at all.  

While I’m reviewing pictures and getting a blog post ready, the clouds roll in.  Around 4pm, we watch the Crown Princess leave port.  You can’t miss it as you can hear her ship’s horn sound their departure across the port area.  The Coast Guard Patrol is busy chasing away sail boats and yachts to keep a safe distance from the ship.  

We are getting hungry again and in between the rain showers we make the mile hike west along the Causeway to a new Mexican restaurant.  

After dinner, we did our last shopping for necessities at Total Wine and Walgreens.  The 2nd packing and sorting of our luggage will take place early tomorrow morning (hopefully early).  

(I’m working through my 3rd party blog app & Google issues.  They are both not playing nicely together.  Late in the evening hours I sent an email to the blog app tech support folks not expecting to hear anything until early next week.  They responded around 1am with the cause (Google) and a possible solution.  After a few more email exchange with them, I might be able to get back on track.  Now, that’s a great company work with.)

Another Day in Fort Lauderdale

We hit the sack early last night and had a well deserved night’s sleep, close to 10 hours.  We drew open the curtains in our room to find the sun shining.  It will be close to 80 degrees later today.  We decided to spend some time down at the beach before the expected showers would arrive in the late afternoon.  

While waiting to pick up the Trolley, we met a nice couple from Canada, Brent and Lorena.  They were carrying their chairs and heading down to the beach.  We happened to get off at the same stop and chatted with them as we walked along the beach area.  It was then we happened to find out that we were going to be on the same ship on Saturday.  A very nice couple indeed and I’m sure we’ll run into them on the ship.  

We parted ways and we went to find our regular breakfast cafe.  

A few years ago, Hubby go me hooked on Eggs Florentine.   Part of our intro into vacation mode is to enjoy this wonderful meal.  To keep with tradition, I’ve learned I can now order the same meals but without bread.  I now call this version my “Naked Eggs Florentine”.  

After an hour of shopping, we decide to hang out at the curved concrete boardwalk and do some people watching.  What a gorgeous day!

In the early afternoon, we head back to the hotel to take a quick nap and to enjoy our balcony time.  We are definitely enjoying our balcony time and well…the view!  It’s getting hot out there as well.  Love it!

There is only one ship in port today the Crown Princess.  You can tell that most of the FLL area including the 17th Street Causeway and on the beach does not feel crowded at all.  

While I’m reviewing pictures and getting a blog post ready, the clouds roll in.  Around 4pm, we watch the Crown Princess leave port.  You can’t miss it as you can hear her ship’s horn sound their departure across the port area.  The Coast Guard Patrol is busy chasing away sail boats and yachts to keep a safe distance from the ship.  

We are getting hungry again and in between the rain showers we make the mile hike west along the Causeway to a new Mexican restaurant.  

After dinner, we did our last shopping for necessities at Total Wine and Walgreens.  The 2nd packing and sorting of our luggage will take place early tomorrow morning (hopefully early).  

(I’m working through my 3rd party blog app & Google issues.  They are both not playing nicely together.  Late in the evening hours I sent an email to the blog app tech support folks not expecting to hear anything until early next week.  They responded around 1am with the cause (Google) and a possible solution.  After a few more email exchange with them, I might be able to get back on track.  Now, that’s a great company work with.)

Thursday, January 11, 2018

The Start of Another Cruising Adventure!

We had an early, early, early morning flight and arrived in sunny FL.  We are enjoying the warm weather with slight winds that are causing the palm tree leaves to sway.  Which is also causing our eyelids to get heavy.

After dumping our bags at the hotel, we set off to find some breakfast.  We came across Fresh First eatery next to and behind the Renaissance hotel.  This eatery turns out to be a "gluten free" or GF dining venue.  Hubby and I ordered the Eggs Benedict which was quite tasty and quite filling.  

Our next stop took us to our favorite dive shop Lauderdale Dive.  After checking out the gadgets and gear, I settle on a pair of swim goggles I had my eye on last year.  I've been wanting a pair to use while swimming in the ocean.  Also helps to see where I'm going and to watch the marine life below me.  Yes, I could have used a pair a few years ago in Antigua when the jellyfish grabbed my leg!

So we are lounging by the pool and waiting for our special room to be available.  When I checked in through the hotel's iPhone app, I was able to select a corner room that faced the waterway and most importantly the Port Everglades port.  We are looking forward to watching the ship's arrivals and departures from the comfort of our balcony.  

So we are now taking care of the important things at the pool like napping, people watching, napping, and blogging.  Not in any particular order.  

I will be updating my posts with pictures as soon as I have access to WiFi.  Until then think large palm trees, clear blue skies, and cool breezes.  Zzzzzzz!

Oh yeah, where are we going?  To the Caribbean of course!  Fourteen days and covering 9 ports of call (Eastern and Southern).  

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Learning About Caribbean Marine Life

It’s hard to imagine, but I’m still reviewing pictures from our January cruise.  I took over 3000+ pictures of which half were taken underwater.  As I was blogging about our snorkeling adventure, I realized I could only identify half the fish we saw.  Hubby was able to help me with a few more.  I found the plastic fish identification cards to help somewhat, but the drawings were too small.  So, I found a helpful book called “Snorkeling Guide to Marine Life” and have been updating my previous blog entries with the correct fish name.  It is time consuming, but I am learning so much.  For example, many juvenile fish do not look the same when they become mature fish.  It’s mostly colors that change from juvenile to initial stage and then to mature stage.

Hubby and I are learning more about Caribbean marine life.  We are learning about fish anatomy, different groups, corals, sponges, and other marine life.  I am only learning the common names for now.  Genus and species might come later.  We’ll see.

Here’s a Queen Parrotfish (Initial Stage) with a broad, white mid-body stripe.  I do not have a picture of the mature fish, but it would be a blue/green color with dramatic blue to green markings around the mouth.

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Here’s another picture of the Queen Parrotfish (initial stage) in the center.  There’s a Blue Parrotfish in the upper left and an Orangespotted Filefish towards the back:

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If you look real close in the center of this picture, you’ll see the Orangespotted Filefish with it’s white spot on the upper tail base:

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Here’s a Bluehead Wrasse and some Brown Chromis (I believe…be back to validate):

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Another picture with the Bluehead Wrasse with Spotlight Parrotfish (initial stage) and Queen Parrotfish (initial stage) in the background:

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 Schools of French Grunt (yellow striped) and Brown Chromis:

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Still waiting to identify this Parrotfish….

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And this Parrotfish as well...

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The pictures in this post were taken with a GoPro Hero 3+ at the Plaza Resort Bonaire.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Princess @Sea (Southern & Western Caribbean)

This was the first time (another first) that I actually carried my iPhone around the ship.  Normally it sat in the cabin safe until we got back to Fort Lauderdale or when I used it in a US port of call like St Thomas.  Not this time.  I wanted to see how much information I could see with using the Princess @Sea.  I left my iPhone in Airplane Mode and turned on the WiFi and connected to the Caribbean-Princess SSID.  From there, I had access to the ship’s Intranet using my iPhone’s Safari web browser using the URL:  Once I connected to the site, I saved it as a shortcut on my iPhone and it created an icon called Princess @Sea.  

Here’s a snapshot of our Southern Caribbean itinerary (first week):  

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Here’s our Western Caribbean itinerary (second week):

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I can tap on any of the ports of call listed and get additional port information like the weather, arrival/departure times, dress code for the evening, and a PDF soft copy of the port guide that’s delivered with the Princess Patter in our cabin mailbox:

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I can also see upcoming events for the day:   

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Besides the Princess events, I could add my own personal event like reminders to fill out an FCC form for future cruises or get change from the Passenger Service Desk (PSD).  

There’s a Messenger feature that allows me to send messages to other people I know on the ship.  I initially had to setup a contact list and know the person’s ID.  Once the contact is setup, I can send messages.  There is no notification, but I can check to see if I received a new message.

I also had access to our onboard account information and could check the latest charges to our cabin.  

I can also access the “Internet” which is additional $ and check my emails.  Once I was done with the Internet, I just typed “” in the browser.

The following are some screenshots I captured with my iPad.

Communications and Stateroom Services: 

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Activities and Entertainment:

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Safety, Security and Environment:

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Shipboard Services and Shopping:

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Entertainment and Bars:

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Food and Dining:

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Gifts and Memories:

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Other Services onboard:

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Pools, Sports & Spa:

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