A window in Tom's universe. This is more than a website of photos, it is a place to share photos, adventures, stories, opinions, and information. I hope you enjoy the time you spend here.
takes on any cruise ship, but this one is really nice and has some neat options, for each age group. I joined this ship in San Juan on December 13, 2010. The cruise was for eleven nights. It ended back on San Juan on December 24, 2010. Was a really nice trip. The cruise line might change the islands this takes on any cruise ship, but this one is really nice and has some neat options, for each age group. I Antigua, Dominica, Barbados, Grenada, Day At Sea, Curacao, Aruba, Day At Sea, San Like most of my presentations, they are more here for sharing the visuals of the trip than a verbal description. Hopefully this will help people who are planning a trip, and, it will be dream material for people are people are thinking about, or would like, to plan a trip sometime in the future. Or, maybe, the images will bring back memories of a trip completed at an earlier date. In some cases I share the names of the new friends I made and have images of, but some people's name did not get recorded, so I had to skip those.. If the people in the images see their photo and would like their name added, please send me a note with info and I will change the titles.. I tried several different ways of sharing my trip with you, and I chose the one below.. I will tell you a little about each day as it happened, then provide a link to the images taken that day.
Day 00, This is December 12, 2010. I leave my home town and fly to San Juan. As I was leaving home, I slipped and fell on the ice on the sidewalk. It would seem I cracked some ribs.. This made a lot of the activities a bit hard to do! But, I arrived, I went to my hotel near the airport, I took my bags to my room, I went downstairs to the happy hour, I drank, I snacked, and then I went to dinner. Was a successful day. I am leaving out a lot of the details of course, but there are some things you should know. First off, the place I stayed is called Embassy Suites. I am sure there are a lot of nice places to stay in San Juan, but this one I like. I have stayed in several, and most I did not like. The El Convento is one of them.. Not good by my standards. The Embassy Suites provides a complimentary happy hour in the lounge area from around 5-7 PM. The drink selection is good. Dinner is easy. There is an Outback Steakhouse in the lobby area of the hotel.. Perfect.. Do happy hour, have dinner at the steakhouse, check your email at the free email stations, then go up to your nice room, relax, get into a very nice bed, and sleep soundly. You will be ready for cruising the next day!!!! In the cold of the year, and coming from the snow and ice region of the USA, I prefer to fly in a day early so as to be sure I am in San Juan on cruise day. It is a big gamble to come to San Juan from the north on the same day as the cruise.. I have met several people who come a week early and vacation before their vacation!! How nice is that!!!!!! But, for real, it is a gooood idea to get to San Juan a day early.. If you want to see San Juan, come a few days early and explore.. I have been to San Juan many times, but I only come one day early and generally restrict my running around to just the Old San Juan area. It is kinda neat. The big attention getter is the two large forts in Old San Juan. You can see these in my other cruise trip presentations. If you are new to this area, do not make the mistake I have made more than once, USE SUN SCREEN!!!!!!!! I have been badly burned here.. USE IT. To get a glimpse of my arrival in San Juan, click on this link, Embassy Suites.
Day 01. This will be December 13, 2010. This is the day I get on the Celebrity Millennium and start the eleven night cruise. To start the day off, wake to the alarm, jump up, shower, get dressed, etc, and head down to the lobby area for the complimentary breakfast that is served by the Embassy Suites. I am here to tell you, this is not one of those muffin and cereal breakfasts that you run on to traveling, this is a and pancakes, waffles, and the like, but there is a bit of a trick to getting this done as their line is not very well set up. However, you can figure it out if you stand back and watch for a few minutes... I recommend doing this. Do this before getting in the food line.
OK, I have eaten, checked my email again, now it is time to finish up in the room and check out, which is noon, I think.. I am not supposed to board the ship until 2 PM. So, I have some time to relax. I make some phone calls, play on the internet. Around 1:30, I ask for a taxi, get one, jump in with my bags and off we go to the ship. Takes about 15 minutes to get there.. The price for me and my big bag, was 21 dollars, I think. Due to all the flying restrictions these days, I have reduced my travel clothes to the bare minimum.
Once dropped off at the dock, with all the other people, the first order of business is to make sure you have a tag on the luggage you will be leaving with the bag handlers. I am not sure what goes on here, but they are supposed to take your large luggage onto the ship. The small items, like you carried on the plane, you can take onto the ship with you... The norm right now is to give the handlers a couple dollars per bag for taking the big bags to your room.. In the old days, you might not see them till midnight, but now they are generally there by 10 PM.
After the luggage check-in. Its off to the front desk to get your paperwork completed. Here you will get the "Ship Card". It is the do all card. It is your credit card to buy things on the ship. Nothing on the ship is paid for with money, just the card. This card is also the key to your room and your "get-off, get-on pass" for the ship as you leave the ship at the ports you will visit. You can get it replaced if you lose it. Speaking of getting on and off the ship, most, if not all ports require you to have a legal photo ID with you while you are on the island, along with your ship pass card.
OK, you are on the ship, you have your card, you get the required photo taken, which will be on your card, via the magnetic strip. You go to your room, stand there in awe as you evaluate your new digs for this trip, drop off stuff, go to the bathroom, then head for the buffet to get lunch. It is going to taste good, since you are not going to be laying down cash for it!!! After the buffet, you explore the ship for awhile, but at around 4:30 you will have to attend the required safety drill.. Now days this is a breeze.. In the old days it was not fun.. Now you are only required to go to the muster station location indicated on your ship card. You will listen to a speech, watch a life jacket demo, then you are free to go... On this particular trip, I went to the dining room and ate dinner, then went up top side for the sail-away party. There is not much party, but it is fun to see the ship leave.. And, in my opinion, leaving San Juan at 8;30 at night, as we did, is just the best. All the lights from the town, other ships, etc, make it a really neat experience.. Don't miss it! After the sail-away, it is time to rush to the theater to see the first stage show. It is a warm up for what you will see the rest of the week.. I recommend you sit as close to the front as possible... All seats are good, but some are the best!!!
With the show over, and the ship heading through the dark of night to the first port, you might feel the urge for a snack.. Until about 11 PM, there are a couple of snack places open to get ice cream, pizza, etc.. Grab some goodies and relax. Get to bed early, your first full day is tomorrow. Note, most often, your room attendant will try to come by and meet with you on your first day to see if you need anything changed or added, etc. In nearly all the ships, the smaller rooms have twin beds that can be moved together to make a queen. If this is not right when you arrive, tell the attendant, he can get it changed pretty fast.
I think it is standard for all rooms now to have liquid soap and shampoo provided, if at anytime you need more, just ask.. Now it is time to review the images taken today, which will give you an idea how this works.. To see the show, click on this link for Celebrity Millennium, Day 01.
Day 02. This will be December 14, 2010. On this day, our cruise visits St. Croix. As a cruise person, I have been here several times, but I never seen to get out and explore the island, for whatever reason.. I think I went snorkeling here last time, but that was about it. Today, I went ashore with my new cruise buddy, Shirley. She and I met in the theater the first night on the ship. When we reach solid land, we find the usual t-shirt vendors, etc, but at the time we arrive, there were some entertainers playing music and dancing near the dock area. We watched for a few minutes then wandered around a bit, got a couple of cold beverages and relaxed on one of the park benches.. From there we decided to wonder around town, which did not take long as we only covered about three blocks.. Came back, I got another beverage, took a few photos, and then we were headed back to the ship. OH, in St. Croix, my ATT cell phone worked, so I was able to make a few phone calls to home... OH, and if there are any beer drinkers reading this, beer on the ship will cost about 6 dollars a bottle. On St. Croix, you can get it for 2 dollars. So save your beer drinking for the island. Also, shop around. Some places have COLD beer, others have cool beer.
Back on the ship, we have lunch, relax around the pool, go to a sauna, then the massage pool, etc.. From there it is off to dinner and then the evening show. Was a really light day, but I hope you will enjoy the images I am sharing. Click on this link for St. Croix to see the presentation.
Day 03. This will be December 15, 2010. Another great day in paradise!! When I woke up this morning and finally made my way to a place on the ship where I could see land, water, and sky, I was looking at beautiful St. Kitts. Not real sure why, but I really like this island. I have been here several times before, and have taken tours to see some to the really neat parts of the island. This time, however, I am just going to play it cool, have a relaxing breakfast, then stroll around the shopping area near the harbor.
Breakfast was great, as usual. Most often, I eat breakfast in the buffet area. I don't mind sitting and waiting for a waiter to bring me food, but the buffet line is quick, I get what I want, more if I want it, lots of coffee, etc. I am my own best waiter!! :-)) I am not sure if I went to the dining room or the buffet this day, but I ate breakfast with my new cruise buddy. Once we were done, we left the ship to see what we could find in the shopping area. Truth is, we did not find anything to bring home, but we did have a nice walk. I found a source of cheap beverages, so I went there several times, plus I became interested in the buildings and the shapes, so once the shopping urge was simmered down, I started taking photos of the buildings, the stairs in particular..
All the islands have the schedule of all the ships, so when the ship comes in, the merchants are ready for you. Many people do spend a fair amount of money buying things for the yard sales back home, but others spend their money on tours, etc. This is what I have done when I was here before, take tours. Actually, I was with friends, and we loaded up in a van at about 20-25 dollars each and the driver took us for a bit of a tour.. Was it a REAL tour? Probably not, but we did get to see a good deal of the island. We did not have time to see it all. It is a pretty island, so if you go there, take a tour, do some snorkeling, etc.. Then, if you go back again, and again, as I have done, you can just sit around and relax under some palm trees, OR, stroll around and listen to the local people play music and dance. They do it for money of course, so leaving then a dollar is a good thing.. I will warn you though, stay away from the guys with the little green monkeys!!! I think the monkeys are kinda cute, but the men who carry them around will try to take advantage of you on the money thing. The basic trick is to go up to a group of people, newbies, ofter to let them have the monkey sit on their shoulder or something for a photo. If you do, then he wants 5 dollars, FROM EACH PERSON in the group. We did it, we did give him five dollars, but then had to argue with him to get him to leave. We gave him five dollars FOR ALL OF US.. He was not happy!! He kept saying it was five dollars for each person.. WRONG!!!!!! So, watch out for these monkey people. When you view the other cruise ships I have been on, you will see more photos of St. Kitts, from our tour. OK, lets go see the images I am sharing.. Since I did not get far from the ship this time, partly because of the rain, most all the images will be in the tourist area near the ship. Click on this link for St. KITTS, to see the images.
Day 04. Now we are up to December 16, 2010. Did someone say RAIN! This cruise is the last adventure in my long year of travels, and if you have seen the material I have shared about 2010, you will know it rained on me nearly all year long. Today will be no different!! On this day, our ship has brought up to Antigua! This island is in a class all its own, I guess.. Of all the islands I have visited, I guess I would have to rate this one at the bottom of the ratings list. Rain or shine, I have never felt like I in paradise when I come here.. I guess it is the dollar thing or something. This seems to be the poorest of all the islands.. Today when we visited, it was raining.. We tried to get to a dry place, but all were taken by other people looking to stay dry. If you are a beer drinker, pass on the local beer here. I think it is called WADABI?? It comes in little green bottles and it is BAD! If you are a wild man, you will drink it anyway! And if you do not know any better, as soon as you get off the ship and start shopping, you will find the most popular drinking place is just a few yards from the ship docking area. They sell this nasty stuff in for three dollars per bottle! If you can handle it, there are some other places down the street that are selling it for one dollar per bottle. I guess you have to try one to know what I mean about the taste. But yes, you can get them for a dollar a bottle, maybe two in some places, but it is nasty. If you ask around, you will find that there are several places that sell beer further away from the ship. But, I gotta tell, I think I have tried all of them at one time or another, and I have not found a good beer on this island yet.. Guess I will have to keep looking! It did rain this day and sort of washed out the paradise feeling one would expect to get in the islands. These are the days when you look around fast, try a local beer, then hurry and get back on the ship!! On the ship, there is some nice food and desserts to keep you busy, and there is sauna, and a BIG therapy pool for adults. So, if you get rained out, like I did, head for the ship and do the fun stuff....I did not had a lot of fun on the island, but I did on the ship. Enjoyed the spa items, then had the company of some awesome people at dinner, then followed this up with a great entertainer in the theater. I do have a few images to share from this day. To see the images I am sharing, click on this Antigua link and watch the show! Note: In the photos, you will notice I have a couple of photos of the Adventure of the Seas. I have been on this ship, and it is really neat. The Adventure Of The Seas is a Royal Caribbean ship.
Day 05. Now we are up to December 17, 2010. RAIN!!! Yes, just like yesterday.. I do not remember ever having so much rain in paradise as I have on this trip, but, not to worry, the fun continues!! Today, our ship is docked at DOMINICA. All the islands are unique of course, but this one is different, and it is hard to explain why. When you first look off the deck of the ship, at the high hills in front of you, you will be thinking WOW, there are mountains here!!! And, I guess there are. Whatever you call those big hills, they are neat to see. Today is going to be another relaxing day for me. My new cruise buddy and I head out to explore the town, with umbrellas, which the ship provided.. So, keep that in mind.. The ship provides umbrellas, so you do not have to bring one.. Now truth is, I think they have a limited supply, so... In my case, there was an umbrella in my room.. Maybe there is one in each room.. The umbrella had a lot of miles on it, but it worked!!! Now, with umbrella in hand, I am off to tour the island, well, the part close to the ship anyway!! I passed up the T-Shirt shops and started strolling the streets.. Right away, you notice there is something wrong. Many of the buildings are old and look as if they might fall down. Just looking at the buildings, you would think you were in the poorest part of the world, but then when you look closer, you see some high dollar cars sitting around!!!! What is going on here? I still don't know what is happening, but one of the street beggars came by and chatted with me. I asked him about the expensive cars. He said the big money houses are up in the hills. The owners come here to work and shop, etc.. After awhile, I think I decided that the new BMW I saw there belonged to one of the T-Shirt shop owners!!!! Note, they even have a SUBWAY there!! Subway is my favorite fast food place!!!! Love it!! After walking in the rain, I found a nice little bar to have a few refreshments. I can recommend it. I think it is called THE RUING CAFE. Its easy to find.. After the tour of the back streets and being full of refreshments, I headed back to the ship to relax and soak in the spa pool, bake in the sauna, etc.. Very good for whatever ails ya. AND, I got to watch an ice carving demo as the ship pushed off from Dominica and started its "Sail-Away" party. Today was special, we had an awesome sunset to watch as we left Dominica. With the sunset gone, I rushed back to the room, cleaned up and headed to dinner. Dinner each night on this trip was special. Each night I was seated at a different table and with different people. However, some of my dinner buddies were repeats, as I was on the same eating schedule as they. ALL of them were fun people. I hope they find this website and see our memory photos. After dinner, I did the usual, went to the theater and saw a great show, then wandered around the ship with other people and just enjoyed everything that was going on.. That said, I broke away later, went to the upper deck and took some nighttime memory shots. I think you will enjoy these and all the other memory shots from this day. To see the images for today, click on this link for DOMINICA.
Day 06. Now we are up to December 18, 2010. NO RAIN!! You read that correctly, NO RAIN. Finally day, so I will be exploring. You have heard the old expression that says something about you had to be there to understand, well, I think this will apply to my day on Barbados. I have been here before and it is a neat island, but today I will be doing something different. I will be riding a local bus. Here is the story. Shirley, my new cruise buddy declares that we are not going to do the same thing all the other ship people will be doing, we will ride the local bus, with the locals. We need some exposure to life with the local people, not the tourists. She learns that to get on the local bus, we have to go downtown. To do that we have to take a taxis, and we do. Actually, we are in a mini van full of people. Cost about 3 dollars each to get downtown. Once there, we learn we still have about a mile of walking.. We take off. Shirley's feet are hurting from some swelling she has. We finally find the place, with the help of many people. Once there, she learns that we have to have tokens to ride the bus. She goes to the window, to buy tickets and I can see right away that this is not going to be easy. She and the lady at the window do not speak the same language nor do they use the same kind of money. I stay my distance from it all and just watch. Finally, Shirley comes over and hands me a token. Tells me we have to go to gate 6. We do, finally. And, we stand in line with the locals. It seems that the locals speak English, but still they are not easy to understand. What I learn from Shirley is that with this token, we will be riding a big loop on the bus. We will leave here, make the loop and get off back here. Sounds good. The bus arrives, we get on, pay with our tokens, find a seat, and before long, the bus is moving.. Nice clean bus, nice clean people on the bus, this is good. But then, Shirley, who is on my right, leans over and asks the man on my left a question. Wrong. For the next 30 minutes, this man tries to talk to me, but I cannot understand what he is saying. I do think I heard him say that I could not hear too good!! Shirley owes me one for that. After about a half and hour, the man gets off the bus. Now I can relax. Nice guy, but I could not talk to him!! What I have not told you is that this bus seems to be heading out into the WILD!! We are going places I would not think a local bus would go. I mean we were way out in the boonies. That said, we saw things and places tour buses would most likely not go. As we went along, people were getting on and off. But at about 12 noon, we came to the back side of the island!! No big deal, except that the bus driver parked the bus and go out. We were at the ocean, a beach!!! He told us he would be leaving in about 30 minutes. So, we sat, then we got out and looked at the beach with the other people who were in the area. Took some photos, etc. Then, when the driver got back on the bus, so did we. The driver informed us that we needed tokens to ride the bus back. We did not have tokens. The lady at the station had told Shirley the token we had was for a round trip. I guess not. Now, we are in trouble. Shirley tells the man we have no more tokens, and did not think we needed them. He said we did. So Shirley asked if he would take American dollars, etc. He said he could not.. But, he said the ride home was on him, so, we got to ride back for free!!!!!!!! We returned to a place just outside the station, then went inside the station to use the bathroom. The boys side was open, but the girls side was closed for cleaning, meaning we had to go find another place for Shirley. By the time we did, she was about to die, but the bathroom she found was in a shoe store. She wanted shoes anyway, so after using the bathroom, she bought a new pair of shoes to wear back to the ship!!! We walked back to the taxi area, got a ride back to the dock area. Then headed for the ship. By some strange luck, we stumbled onto a nice bar. I stopped for refreshments, Shirley went on to ???. So, I got me one of the local brews and started wetting my whistle. It was then that I noticed a couple of people who we had eaten breakfast with earlier, Steve and Wendy. So, I joined them. They were great fun. You will see them in the photos. After the first brew, Steve stepped in and bought the second round. Later, Shirley joined us and I bought the next round, etc.. Was good fun.. But, we did have to get back to the ship, and did, but on the way I met two of my new friends, Joe and Gail. Really neat people. Was a good day on the island. But now, I need to tell you about the images you will see in the share file. On the bus trip, there was no stopping for photos, as you would on a tour bus, so, I chose to just stick the camera out the window and fire away as we drove.. Wasn't even looking threw the viewer. So, when you see the photos and notice the strange angles and blurs, etc, this is the reason. I did this because I wanted photos of the island, but at the speed we were moving, etc, I was unable to compose and shoot, as is norm. With these limitations in mind, I hope you will enjoy seeing the memory shots I am sharing. After returning to the ship, the rest of the evening was the usual, go to the pool, sauna, sail-away party, dinner, and then the night life. Was a great day. Hope you enjoy the photos. To see them, click on this link for BARBADOS.
Day 07. We are sailing right along, it is now December 19, 2010. Today the ship will be parked at the dock in Grenada. As I recall, this will be the first time I have officially set foot on this island. It would seem that several years ago, the ship I was on had to make an emergency stop to drop off one of our passengers that had become very ill. For whatever reason, my new sidekick, Shirley, was not interested in a tour of the island. I think she had taken a tour here on an earlier trip and was not interested in another ride around the island.. I was not sure I was going on a tour either, but, as most always happens when you arrive at one of these islands, a lot of vendors rush up to you and offer you tours of the island. I cannot say these tours are of high quality, but they are adequate for a basic overview of areas somewhat near the ship.. Most all the vendors, on all the islands, charge the same rate, twenty dollars for about a three hour tour. Now, the twenty dollar fee is a group price. For this amount, you are loaded into a small van, and when the vendor has the van full, or has as many people as they think they can get, they take off. They have a set course they take you on and they know exactly how long it will take... So, there is no problem in going on one of these tours. I do them on most islands, if I feel like running around the island a bit... Today our tour starts out by going through what we would call the low rent area. Not the kind of place most of us would want to live, but, given the nice weather there, the houses do not have to be very good. After a short drive through the housing area, we stop at a spice market on the side of the road. We were give a short show/tell/smell briefing. It would seem this place is island is famous for the cinnamon that is harvested here. I love cinnamon, but passed on buying any here. Should have I guess, but bringing back all this stuff does create a bit of an issue. From the spice shop, we were taken to a to a small botanical area with a neat waterfall. This is tropical island, so tropical plants are everywhere, and there is lots of water, so of course the garden had a waterfall in it. Now to make the waterfall a real attraction, there were cliff jumpers who were climbing up the bluff, then jumping into the pool at the bottom of the falls. They were fun to watch, and of course there was a donation box nearby for you to put money into for the jumpers.. I think a dollar was the going rate. From the waterfall area, we were taken to another tourist place to see an old house of some kind. It cost three dollars to visit the old house. Truth is, after you get in, you find out there is nothing to see. I am sure these people were happy to have the three dollars, but a trip to the bathroom is about all you get for your money. From the old house area, we once again drive though some house areas that were in need of repair.. At the end of this drive, we ended up on a hill which allowed us to see our ship in the harbor. Was a really neat site.. Pretty area.. Also, there were some large private boats in the harbor next to the our ship. From the photo op on the hill side, we were taken along the harbor road that lead back to our ship. Once back in the parking area for the taxi people, I ask our driver where the cheap beer is. He pointed to a little shack in the parking lot where the drivers all hang out. I zipped on over and asked one of the drivers where the cheap beer was, the pointed to a window nearby. I go to the window and ask what they had to offer for cheap beer. The man in the window said they had Carib for 2 dollars. Right on!! So I got one. Was goooood. Then I had another, then another, but this one I got in a go cup so I could head back to the ship with it... Now here is the kicker. Just inside the little mall, only a few yards from the beer shack, I found that a vendor was selling Carib for two dollars, also.. So, there is more than one place to get cheap beer... If you buy beer on the ship, it is about 6 dollars per bottle. Once back on the ship, I probably did the health area for awhile. This ship has a great spa pool for adults, and they have great saunas. Both of these are at no extra charge, but if you want to use a steam room, there is some kind of additional package you have to purchase to gain access to the steam room. The sail away party was awesome, as we had a great sunset as we left the island. From the great sunset, I was off to a great dinner, a great stage show, and little later, a night stroll around the ship in the ocean breeze. To view the images for this island, click on Grenada.
Day 08. We are cruising right along here. Now the calendar is telling us it is December 20, 2010. Only a few more days till Christmas Eve and we will be heading home, or to our next adventure. I met several people on this cruise who seem to live on cruise ships. One couple at my table gave me the impression that they sail almost 6 months each year, by going from one ship to the next.. By doing this, they get a lot of discounts and freebies from the cruise lines!! Might be something you would want to consider if you like doing cruises.. I think I will do this later in life, but right now I am in a hurry to see the world!!! Today will be a day at sea as we cross a wide open area to get to our next port. So, we have to pass the time doing something. In my case, I was invited to take a backstage tour of the theater. I could bring one guest. I hunted down my new buddy, Shirley, and took her with me. Turns out it was a great fun. Our tour Today will be a day at sea as we cross a wide open area to get to our next port. So, we have to pass the introduction, then an overview of life behind the scene, so to speak, then we took the actual tour. I was time doing something. In my case, I was invited to take a backstage tour of the theater. I could bring one time doing something. In my case, I was invited to take a backstage tour of the theater. I could bring one guest. I hunted down my new buddy, Shirley, and took her with me. Turns out it was a great fun. Our tour guest. I hunted down my new buddy, Shirley, and took her with me. Turns out it was a great fun. Our tour guides were great fun. We had one singer, one dancer, and the stage boss. They gave us a really nice guides were great fun. We had one singer, one dancer, and the stage boss. They gave us a really nice introduction, then an overview of life behind the scene, so to speak, then we took the actual tour. I was delighted to see the area behind the stage, and what the entertainers have to do things to make the show happen.. There are a lot of costume changes going on back there. I have no idea how they keep things straight, and this is after they tried to explain it.. Of course, I had to ask if there was a lot of nude people running around back there, given the fast changes needed between acts. The answer, by Katie, the dancer was "Yes". It is just part of the job. No time or place to be private. You gotta bare it all and do it fast!! That said, they are all professionals and have been doing this for so long, they think nothing of it... If you ever get the chance to take this tour, do. It is a reality check. Life behind the stage is fast and furious. From the tour, it was off to eat and go outside for some sun. A little sun goes a long way for me, so it was off to the spa area for some good times in the big pool and the sauna. As the day at sea ends, life returns to normal. We all head in to get cleaned up for dinner, which is always good, then shortly after we would go to the theater for the evening show. Later in the night, we were treated to a fruit buffet. This is sort of a new trend that cruise lines are doing instead of the big food buffets of the old days. I supposed competition in the industry has forced prices to stay low, and brings lower profits which means lots of things get cut. So, now, instead of a big food buffet, which generated lots of wasted food, I would think, we now have these late night fruit buffets. They are fun to attend, because of the presentation. There is some really neat food art in these buffets. You will see what I mean when you see the images I am sharing. Over all, it was a great day. To see the memory images of the day, click on A Day At Sea.
Day 09. December 21, 2010, the Millennium has landed! Today, we have arrived at one of the little places I love to visit, though I cannot tell you exactly why. I think it is the color of the buildings that gets my attention, but I will have to think about it some more.. Whatever it is, I like it. Hopefully when you see the images, you will agree. Maybe you can come up with an answer as to why this place is so attractive. I should tell you, I have been here a bunch of times over the years and the place has changed a lot. Well, the area near the dock has changed a lot.. When I first started coming here, the area near the docks was not very impressive, compared to what it is now. WOW, it is neat now.. Several years ago, I noticed that the port area was beginning to be transformed from a port, into a tourist attraction. Took awhile, but they have it done, and it is neat. I am not even sure what to call the area, but you will see it in the images, later. There are modern shops, beautiful places to eat, indoors and outdoors, and under umbrellas at cute little bars, etc.. Seems they have something for everyone, including the person who needs a bathroom!! The new shopping area has neat bathrooms!! In the courtyard, inside the old fort area, I think it is, there are lots of neat places to sit and people watch while having a cold beer or beverage, plus a nice snack of some kind... You will see this in the images. From the newly remodeled area, you walk through the vendor area, and then take the foot bridge over to the "old" area of town.. Kinda hard to explain this town. It has old and new, and it has left and right areas. The foot bridge is cool. It moves to the side to let ships in and out!!!!!!!!! On the "older" side of the bridge, you will find a lot of shopping, for sure, but you will find a lot of places were real people work, sort like offices.. Of course, when a ship or ships come to town, the streets and shops are packed with tourists.. So much so that an ambulance cannot get to people who need help. I saw an office worker be pushed out to the curb of the street in an office chair. They were unconscious. People tried to get an ambulance. No way.. Could not get in, so people loaded this lady in a van and took off with her, to a hospital I assume!!!!!!! 911 does not work here!!!!! You are 911..... I arrived in the old part of town with three of my new found friends from the ship.. Turns out each wanted to do something different, so, we divided up and went our own way. In the end, Shirley, took the city bus for a loop around town, the other two ladies hired a taxi to take them on a tour of the island, near the ship. All three reported back saying they did have a very good time with their tours... Me, I just took the camera and did some people watching. Was neat.. I think you would really enjoy this place. One of the things I want you to be aware of is how strange it seems to see Santas and Snowmen, on a tropical island!! I do not recall ever taking a tour to areas of the island, away from the tourist areas, so I do not have images to share of the "normal" parts of the island. Maybe on my next visit, I will. To see some of what I saw this time, review my shared images by clicking on this link, Curacao.
Day 10. It is now December 22, 2010, and we will be spending the day in Aruba. This is one of my on the other side, then a little bit of everything else. Also, this is the first Island I visited and scuba dived from, in the Caribbean. Lots of great memories have been created here! I highly recommend this island to anyone going to the Caribbean, but, make sure you explore the whole island, especially the desert areas. My first trip here was many years ago, and I arrived by plane, but all trips here since have been by cruise ship. I have toured the island with a tour company. I have scuba dived here. I have rented jeeps and explored the island with friends. And, all these were fun. For your first time here, I would suggest the biggest tour you can find that will take you to the backside of the island and the desert area. When I Day started coming here, there was an arch on the far side of the island that all tours went to. I think the tours still go there, but the arch fell a few years ago, so it is just crumbled rock now. If you are back for a second favorite islands. First of all, it is a really neat place with great beaches on one side and wild desert areas trip, or find the time to do so, rent a jeep and do your own tour of the desert parts of the island. Be a bit aware of the time element if you have to get back to the ship. It is an island, but it is easy to get lost on the back roads.. I carry a GPS which always points me towards the ship, even if I am a bit confused about which road to take. On this visit to the island, I did a solo day around the port area. Aruba is a desert island, but they do get rain and on this day, they got rain, lots of it... So, I skipped the tour stuff and just relaxed close to the ship. There are neat areas close to the ship where one can walk. But, I could not find cheap beer here, as on the other islands, but I did not look too hard either. I am sure it was there somewhere. Like most cruise towns, which are being built up for the tourist trade, Aruba is doing the same. It is working out pretty neat. I l like the hotel just down the beach from the curise ship. It has a neat pool by the ocean. You will see it in the images. While on my little stroll, it started to rain and so I ducked into a storage building or something, and was joined by a policeman on a bicycle. We visited until the rain was gone, then we both moved on. From the rain shelter, I started back on my walking tour. I was actually looking for a little park I had been to with a friend, on my last trip, but could not find the park this time. Was a neat place.. I will search for it again sometime in the future. I finished my walk, went back to the ship for lunch and some spa pool time. Later in the afternoon, the ship pushed off with a some awesome sail-away views. The sunset was one of the best. After the awesome sunset, it was time for dinner and another show. The show this night was supposed to happen at another time, it was a Christmas show and was intended for the last night but due to the illness of an entertainer, the show was moved to this night. It was very good. And to add to the fun of the evening, there was chocolate buffet to attend, just before bedtime.. Was a really neat day in Aruba. To see the these memory shots, click on this link for Aruba.
Day 11. December 23, 2011. Another day at sea. Kinda funny how your mind works, sometimes. Here we are on our last full day of this cruise adventure, and you might think people would be all pumped up and still doing the party thing.. But, no. The party thing is not here anymore. Maybe the people are all partied out. Maybe they are just super relaxed from all the good cruising they have done these past few days. Maybe they are tired from playing too much. Maybe they have spent all their money. Maybe they have already started to think seriously about the real world they are headed back to. Whatever the cause, the party spirit is on vacation. It is not quite like going to a funeral, but close. When we arrived, the bodies were moving, the drinks were flying, the suntan lotion was flowing, and adventurers could be seen everywhere, checking out their new home for this trip. Now, they are silently laying in the shade, taking naps or just doing the last little bit of people watching.. Some have still not gotten their fill of the "free" food, so they are still going for the ice cream and snacks. There are a few people spending some time in the sun, but the numbers are few. I am guessing a lot of them are in their rooms packing their bags, which will have to be put in the hallway late this evening, to be moved to the storage area, where I assume drug dogs sniff them, etc... I generally wait until the last minute, and throw everything in the suitcase, close the lid, and hope it does not fly open.. Dirty clothes, clean clothes, it all goes in the same place.. I will deal with it when I get home!!!! That said, I did go to the spa pool and sauna one more time, just because I could. Then, I took the camera and went hunting for memory shots on the ship. Somewhere along this stroll, I was greeted by a couple, about my age, that I had eaten dinner with. They introduced me to their beautiful daughter, who, I had not met before. I was informed that their daughter, Lindsey, was very much interested in learning photography. I asked Lindsey if she was interested to go over a few of the basics at this time. She said yes, and so we spent the next hour or so talking photography. Was great fun to spend the time with her. She was very attractive, as the images will show, but she was also very bright and very interesting to talk to. I was impressed. I think she has a wonderful life ahead of her.. As usual, the day ended with a great meal, with new friends. Then it was off to the last stage show, then to the room to pack... Was a very nice day of relaxing. There are not many photos to share for this day, but click on the link for Heading Home, to see the ones I am sharing.
Day 12. December 24, 2010. I think there was a country song that said something like " It is crying time again". Well, for we cruisers on this trip, it is crying time for us. Our trip to paradise is pretty much over and many of us are headed back to the "Cold, Cold, North". I think I heard that in a song about jumping up and down to get on board and take our place!!!!! Thats fair I guess, we did it to the other group, only 12 days ago!!! There are a lot of ways for a cruise to end, each is personal, I suppose you could say, but cruises only end if you let them.. If you have never been on a cruise, you will learn near the end of each cruise that you have paperwork to be filled out, related to your travel arrangements to get home. The information you provide will be about your travel arrangements when the cruise ends. Many people are flying out that same day, and have a serious need to get off the ship by a certain time, and to the airport to catch their flight. Some people stay in the port town and continue their vacation for a few more days. Some catch another curise, lucky people!!!!! But, for the ones that are flying home, the cruise line does its best to get you off the ship in plenty of time to get a taxi to the airport where you go through all the security stuff, etc. How much of a rush you are in depends on the flying time.. On this day, I had a later flight, maybe around 4 PM. So, I was not in a real hurry. One of the things you will learn about exit day is that you are assigned waiting areas, on the ship, while you await your turn to exit. I was one of the later ones of course, but still go off before 11 AM, I think it was. Once I had found my bag, which was a bit of chore, I headed out the door to catch a ride to the airport. I had heard it was about 20 dollars to get there by taxi.. Then, only feet from the door, I was greated by one of the tour people, offering to take me on a tour for the day. Once they learned I had a plane to catch, they said they could take me on a tour, for two hours, plus, they would take me to the airport, all for 25 dollars. That seems like a fair deal. As it turns out, it was great fun. The tour person's name was Gilbert. He asked me to stay in a certain area while he went to talk more people into taking this tour with us. He was trying to fill his van. He did pretty good. He managed to get two other couples to agree to the same deal. So, off we went to his van. We loaded up, and off we went... Gilbert's tour was the basic drive around Old San Juan, which was nice. He offered to let us get out and do photos several times, but most of us passed, as we had been here before and had photos of the places he was talking about. He did insist that we stop at one neat place where we could take some ocean view photos. And, he did take us to a government building to show us the building and the Christmas decorations inside. Was neat. It was here that I started talking to Suzanne and her husband. Suzanne was very much interested in photography, and used my camera several times to see what it was like to use a DSLR instead of a point and shoot.. She loved it. My guess is that she went straight home and bought a DSLR!!! Turns out both couples were great fun to be around.. At one point in the tour, Gilbert dropped us off at one end of a street in Old San Juan, then met us about 40 minutes later at the other end of the street, so we could do a little window shopping. Was fun. I spent most of the time catching up on my phone calls.. From the walk, Gilbert took us to a place where we could spend our last minutes in the area having lunch and a beverage. I skipped the lunch and went with the beverage.. Once feed, we were off to airport where we all said our goodbyes. Was a good tour. Once inside, I got my bag checked in, then went to catch my plane. Hated to leave, but.... From San Juan I had one plane change to make before arriving home, but the time at the layover was short, but still long enough for me to get a meal and another beverage or two. The fun part of this meal was the lady sitting next to me. She was from somewhere in the Carolina's I think, and her job was doing edible landscaping!! The company she works for does landscaping with plants and trees that bear fruit, etc... She said it was very poplular in that area... The things you can learn at an airport!!! At about 11:30 PM, I landed back in my hometown, and quicly caught a ride to my car, which was covered with SNOW... What a deal.. This morning, I was having breakfast on the deck of ship in the tropics, and then tonight I am digging a car out of the snow!!! I got the snow off the car, got my luggage loaded and started to leave, only to learn that the gate leaving the lot is automated somehow, and I could not operate the thing.. I managed to get the car through the gate and over to the hotel lobby where I asked for help. The lady at the counter seemed to agree that the system was causing some issues for sure. I managed to pay her for the time in the lot, and off I went to my favorite gas station, QT, where I got my favorite hot drink, and my favorite snack, Doritos!!!! Then, at last, I am headed for home.. As I drove down the road I was watching my watch and watching for Santa. About half way home, my watch hands indicated that Christmas had arrived as I was driving.. So, I officially arrived home on Christmas Day. Once back safe in my home, I reflected on how much had happened in the last 13 days or so.. A lot!!!!! Getting ready for a cruise, traveling to a cruise, packing to leave a cruise, traveling home from a cruise, and unpacking, and taking care of all the things that need your attention, is not easy, BUT, the cruise is worth all the work, so if you have not done it, DO IT... To view the images from the last day of this cruise, click on this link, Last Day.