2015 Cruise Day 12 – Key West Day 3

Today we headed to brunch about 9:30 and had a great meal at Camille’s Restaurant in Key West. We wandered around the south end of Duval Street taking pictures and checking out shops and galleries. After a time the guys got tired of shopping (go figure) and went back to the motel – while the girls continued shopping. I got caught up on my email and Rick worked on crossword puzzles by the pool. I finally found the address of the “gingerbread trim house” we saw on the Conch Train tour and so after some discussion when the girls came back – we walked to the Gingerbread trim house – took pictures and then walked to the Westin Hotel to see the sunset from the sunset deck. Unfortunately Mother Nature had other plans and Janelle rated the Sunset a “2”. We did see a parade of boats (many of them hoping for a great sunset also) go by in all shapes, sizes, and types. Afterwards we walked quite a ways to an Italian Restaurant we saw that seemed to cater to people
who wanted to eat gluten free called Abbodanza Italian Restaurant. We had another excellent meal!

Tomorrow we head back to reality! We will drop Hinks off at MIA (Miami) airport and we will trek on to FLL (Fort Lauderdale) airport, where we head first to Tampa and then to Denver. It will be the end of a very fun and memorable journey.
Janet has been putting lots of pictures up on FB. I will get around to putting some up here eventually.
Hope you all have enjoyed our travels!
We have!

2015 Cruise Day 11 – Key West Day 2

Today we slept in a little and got to Pepe’s Cafe for brunch instead of breakfast. It seems all the food in this town
is delicious. We meandered around the dock area for a bit doing some shopping and admiring the Christmas
decorations and when we came upon one of the Couch (pronounced Conk) train stops and decided to board there.
That train took us to the main station where we switched trains and started on our 90 minute historical tour of
Key West. We saw lots of places including a “gingerbread” house decorated with little wooden gingerbread men
just below the roof on the front porch.

Afterwards we strolled around the dock some more – had some fresh unpeeled shrimp for a mid-afternoon snack
to tide us over until dinner. After more walking and a beautiful sunset we walked to a restaurant opened by Kelly Mcgillis
of Top Gun fame (she is no longer associated with the restaurant) and had another delicious meal – go figure!

Afterwards we walked back up Duval Street and got some T shirts at Crazy Shirt and looked for a particular
art gallery but decided to look again tomorrow.
More exploring tomorrow!

2015 Cruise Day 10 – Disembarcation and Key West Day 1

Today is our last (partial) day on the ship. We had a quick breakfast and then grabbed our bags
and headed out. Everyone but me had no issues. After setting off the alarms 3 times I finally
made it out. We breezed through customs, ordered a Lyft Plus car (because of all our luggage)
and headed to the airport. We got our car and headed south. Getting around Miami was
reasonably uneventful and soon we could see the old train/road bridges connecting the various
Keys. We stopped for lunch in Islamorada – about halfway to Key West. We checked in to our
motel about 3:00pm and promptly started exploring the town with Hinks. We ended up at a
restaurant called Ricky’s Blue Heaven. It was wonderful in every way. Good service, good food,
and good entertainment. They had a singer who reminded us a lot of Hazel Miller from back in
Denver, who is one of our favorites. I was so tired when we got back to the motel – I didn’t do
my blog. Tomorrow we explore more of Key West

2015 Cruise Day 9 – at Sea heading back

Today we are at sea on the way back to Ft Lauderdale. We dock at 7:00am tomorrow.
We spent the day enjoying ourselves in between packing and reviewing our exit plan.
We have a rental car reserved at the FLL airport but are not sure how we will get from
Port Everglades to the airport. We will then drive to Key West.

So after lounging by the pool for a while we got dressed and went to the sit down restaurant
for lunch (which we had done only one other time) – enjoyed a leisurely meal with a couple
from San Diego then napped for a while (and packed a little) then tasted a flight of flavored
vodka’s then dinner and then more packing.

Have to get up earlier than normal tomorrow to get off the boat before the big rush.

2015 Cruise Day 8 – Labadee, Haiti

Today we docked at Labadee, Haiti at 9:30am and enjoyed a day at the beach. Labeled is a private beach leased by Celebrity Cruises that gives them a port with a dock, and lots of things on shore for passengers to partake in, that is part way back towards Ft Lauderdale – so we only have about 36 hours of sailing to reach Ft Lauderdale by 7:00am Monday morning and the end of our cruise. Rick and Janelle got off early and signed up for a snorkel excursion which they enjoyed. They said the coral reef was in good shape where they went although the fish weren’t as plentiful as they would have liked. We chose a leisurely exit to the beach and rode a small boat to one of the beaches so we didn’t have to walk quite as far. We then walked back along a tram road that had lots of local vendors along it who all wanted to sell their wares. We found a beach that we liked with a nice breeze and a great view of the biplane and plopped ourselves down on some chaise lounges. We had a quick bite for lunch and somehow Rick and Janelle found us among all the possible places on the island and we caught up while they ate their lunch. In the afternoon Janet found an empty cabana and appropriated it for her and Janelle’s own use. I enjoyed catching up on some reading. About 3:00pm we headed back to the ship in time to see the 5:09 sunset and then 6:30pm dinner at the Ocean Liner Specialty Restaurant. It was an amazing presentation of culinary expertise and waiter attention to detail and dexterity. It was the best meal all of us have had in a very long time. We both had Chateaubriand for two and many other courses that are too numerous to mention. The deserts were also works of art. I will post some pictures once I get back to real internet. I found out that the guy who taught us the computer classes on board – got off in San Juan and went to Starbucks so he could do some “real” downloading.

Tomorrow we are at sea. And the day after tomorrow we dock in FLL.

2015 Cruise Day 7 – San Juan

Today we are in San Juan Puerto Rico. We had cell phone coverage for the first time (as a Verizon customer. AT&T has had coverage several other places but not Verizon.) We have WiFi on the ship – but it is satellite based and comes and goes – so connectivity is random. Hink’s signed up for a hike in a Forrest Preserve that was an hour and 20 minute drive from where the ship was docked. So they had to leave very early. We had a leisurely breakfast and walked around a bit exploring and happened on the Hop On – Hop Off tram and used it to see the rest of the Old San Juan Island. We saw two of the old forts built to protect the island – and they were impressive. Janet found another jewelry vendor who was even better and cheaper that she liked really well.

We attended a class on board the ship that taught us more information about the Apple Camera App and how to manipulate albums. We felt we learned a lot (hopefully it will show up the the pictures we take eventually.

Tonight we had our second and last formal night. The food was good – the theater show was good and we are happy.

tomorrow we dock at Labadee, Haiti. This is the private island leased by Celebrity for an added stop on the way back
to Fort Lauderdale.

2015 Cruise Day 6 – St. Croix

Today we docked at St. Croix – our first US West Indies island. We had a nice bike tour around the west part of the island – first south to Sandy Point and then north through Fredricksted and along the western shore. There were 26 of us in the group plus 2 guides – so it was a little unwieldy but it worked out fine. The main guide was very knowledgable about the history and facts about the island. He was born and raised on the island and so had many stories to tell. We found a Mom n Pop place for lunch that had excellent food and a nice variety. Rick said the fish and chips he had were the best ever! Afterwards we walked around the town. It was very laid back and still recovering from the closure of a gasoline refinery that had a significant impact on the local economy. There is another town on the island that is more “westernized” – or as one person put it – “Christiansted is where the Americans go to feel like they are still in America”

One of the interesting points about St. Croix was that they drive on the left side of the road AKA British style. Even though every vehicle we saw had the steering wheel on the left (for right side driving) – they drove british style. Evidently when cars were first imports to the island – the majority were English drivers and it stays that way today.

Janet found a jewelry vendor that she liked and went back off the ship a second time to make a purchase.
We had another nice dinner with Hink’s and went to a one woman show that was a combination of great singing and comedy.
Tomorrow we dock at San Juan, Puerto Rico. But we are only there from 8:00am until 2:00pm.

2015 Cruise – Day 5 St. Maarten

Today we were on St. Maarten – an Island that is half Dutch and half French. We took a tour bus to a Butterfly Farm that is near a beach on the French side of the island. The bus driver kept up a patter for the whole trip that was both funny and edifying. He described lots of the local sights and why things were the way they are or evolved over time. The butterfly farm was reminiscent of the Butterfly Pavilion in Colorado – but there was no building containing the butterflies. It was basically a wooden structure holding up netting and mostly open to the outside air on all sides – but contained the butterflies. The owner implored us to go to his website www.thebutterflyfarm.com and key in our latitude and plant things that our local butterfly population can use to build their population back up. He had a good presentation that explained better (to me anyway) why different breeds of butterflies need certain plants to continue to exist. After the Butterly Farm – we rode the bus to Marigot – a port town on the French side of the island where we had 45 minutes to shop and explore the town. We found a nice place to have a coffee and croissant or smoothie. Afterwards we took the bus back to Philipsburg where we got off the bus and explored the town. I have never seen so many watch shops in a confined space. And expensive watch shops. Not a Swatch shop in sight. We had a marvelous lunch on the porch of an old hotel near the beach in Philipsburg. Janet and Janelle took off their shoes and enjoyed going barefoot on the beach. After lunch we took a water taxi back to the port where all the cruise ships were docked. There were two Celebrity ships and one Royal Caribbean as well as a few others.

Back to the ship for a quick shower and then appetizers while watching the sunset from our stateroom balcony with Hinks and then a birthday dinner at the Tuscan Grill and then a musical show in the theater before retiring to get ready for our next adventure. Tomorrow we are doing a short bike ride in St. Croix.

2015 Cruise Day 4 – St Barts

We anchored near St Barts as planned at 9:00am. Rick and Janelle left early to enjoy their excursion on a catamaran. We had a leisurely breakfast and then got ready to take a small boat from where we were anchored to the pier at St. Barts. We had to get a ticket to disembark and had to wait about an hour before we could board. So we didn’t get on shore until about noon. Our job was to explore the shops and restaurants and find a good place to eat when Rick and Janelle got back from their catamaran trip about 1:00pm. The mission was accomplished and we had a very nice French style lunch. The architecture and street layout was very european. There was a wide variance in cars – but most seemed to be purchased with the idea that parking space was very limited. Lots of vespas, overgrown golf carts, smart cars, and ATV’s. There was even an ATV rental place. Having a cruise ship visit this location is relatively new and we could tell that not everyone enjoyed our presence. The business owners welcomed us – but some businesses were closed for “siesta”? and some of the locals didn’t like the added people who visited their very pretty island. It was very hot in the sun – but ok in the shade. We headed back to the ship about 3:30 and enjoyed a great sunset (pictures eventually) and then another fine meal. The entertainment in the theater tonight was a comic which we passed on to get ready for tomorrow. Tomorrow we will be at St. Maarten which has a Dutch side (where we will dock) and a French side. We have signed up for a butterfly tour and so will ride a van to see that and then spend some time on the French side of the island. Tomorrow night we will celebrate my birthday (39 again) by going to one of the specialty restaurants on board called the Tuscan Grill.