These pictures are from a cruise I took to the Caribbean the day after Thanksgiving. It was a seven day trip with stops at San Juan, Puerto Rico, Labadee Island, Hispaniola, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, and Nassau, Bahamas. Two days of this trip were at sea.
I traveled on Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines' Explorer of the Seas. It is a HUGE ship with everything you could hope to find on a ship. It has a mini-shopping mall, three pools, a rock climbing wall, a basketball court, a mini-golf course, an ice skating rink, a very large theater and at least three nightclubs. The ship will transport over 3,000 passengers and over 2,000 crew members in style.
Miami, Florida. Day one. Got to the boat and checked into the stateroom at around 1:00 p.m. Since I knew that the boat would eventually be very crowded I took advantage of the fact that I got there early to walk around the ship and take pictures before the majority of the passengers got on board. The stateroom I got was towards the front of the ship on the port side and I was very glad that I ended up getting a stateroom with its own private balcony. I spent many an hour enjoying the ocean and the solitude reading the time away and listening to music. It was extremely relaxing.
At Sea. Day Two. The ship was at sea all day headed towards Royal Caribbean's private island, Labadee in Hispaniola. I spent the day relaxing. Woke up late and headed out to lunch at Johnny Rockets. Afterwards, I went back to the stateroom where I sat out in the balcony and read. Went to dinner at 6:00 p.m. and to the Palace Theater around 8:30 p.m. to watch a musical medley entitled "History Repeats." The singers and dancers were extraordinary even with the ship rocking back and forth.
Labadee Island, Hispaniola. Day three. This is Royal Caribbean's private island. Arrived on the third day and proceeded to disembark around 11:00 a.m. and headed off to the beaches. At 12:45 p.m. took a harbor cruise from the beach to the bay where Christopher Columbus entered into in 1492. I was amazed by how lush this island still is in spite of all the tourism. The cruise lasted 2 hours and we disembarked directly on the ship where I proceeded to shower and get ready for dinner. At about 8:30 p.m. I proceeded to go down to the Palace Theater to watch two very entertaining acts. The first act was by a father and son team of acrobats - The Ashton Family. They were incredible! The main act was put on by Gary Mule Deer, whose routine was part comedy and part singing. His jokes were very, very funny.
San Juan, Puerto Rico. Day 4. Today was an incredible day! This day made the trip worth it. It began casually enough. Got up around 9:00 a.m. and went to the Windjammer for breakfast. Around noon, the ship got into Puerto Rico, where I disembarked for a one hour bus trip to a ranch on the outskirts of the Yunque Rain Forest. Here I took an absolutely incredible two hour horseback ride into the Yunque Rain Forest. Because I am an experienced horse rider, I was given a very spirited horse name Napoleon. He lived up to his namesake. He constantly wanted to take off at a gallop and I was allowed to take him out several times for a very spirited ride. This is so unlike in the states where liability laws rule. I choose not to do the regular site seeing tour since I have already visited Puerto Rico before and had already done that. I did not regret this. Tomorrow, St. Thomas, where I plan to do some serious shopping.
St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. Day 5. The ship got in early into port and by 10:00 a.m. I was in downtown St. Thomas doing some serious shopping. For the most part the stuff that was available was not really all that great in terms of price and in many cases quality. However, I did find a very nice watch at a great discount which I purchased. I also came across a 75 year old hardwood carving from Senegal entitled Senegal Shark Hunters. The shop owner had the piece for over ten years and it took some haggling, but I came away with the piece. It is truly a remarkable piece of one-of-a-kind art and I am happy to have gotten it. I spent four hours in St. Thomas enjoying the sights and sounds but was happy to finally get back to the ship to rest and shower for dinner. At 5:30 p.m. the ship departed for a day at sea as we head for Nassau which we are slated to get to on Friday. Went to dinner then off to the 9:00 p.m. show which had a musical impressionist, Finis Henderson, performing.
At sea. Day Six. Today was spent on board ship. I got up late, got ready, and went to breakfast. I spent the latter part of the morning and the early part of the afternoon walking around the deck of the ship taking pictures and getting some sun. At 2:00 p.m. I went and got a haircut and then headed back to the room where I sat on the balcony and read for a few hours and looked out to sea. I showered around five and got ready for dinner. Today was a formal night so out came the suit. The food was incredible - escargot, chilled lemon soup and lobster as the main entree! I did try to be sensible by eating raspberry sherbet instead of the soufflé. Tonight the entertainment was better than the other nights combined. It was an ice skating production called Planet Ice and it was very well done! One of the skaters, Olga Ganitcheva, a Russian, really blew me away with her skating skills. Back to the room and prepared for the mid-night buffet. I went, I saw, I took pictures, I didn't eat. The setup was very well done. It is amazing just how much food is available on these ships. So far I've been good. Just two meals a day and I'm trying to be good about what I eat. Tomorrow's destination is Nassau and I'm looking forward to the shopping before we head back to Miami.
Nassau, Bahamas. Day seven. Not much has changed since my last visit. I was hoping to do some shopping but came away pretty disappointed. I went back to the ship after about two hours. I did, however, take a nice carriage ride. Wallace, the driver, and Nature's Boy, the horse, took me for a ride around the main part of town. It was quite enjoyable. The staff sang and performed for us at our farewll dinner. It was a hoot. Then it was off to the final show. There was a great acrobat act put together by a husband and wife team whose names I don't recall. It was a fantastic show. The evening ended with the ship's dancers putting on a last show for us and then all the performers seen during the cruise came out to wish us a fond farewell.