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Recent Caribbean cruise

My sweetheart and I left early (and I mean early) on Friday morning, August 29th to head to the airport in Atlantic City, whence we caught the first of two flights to take us to San Juan, Puerto Rico. When we got there, we checked into our hotel, the Chateau Cervantes in Old San Juan, which we both highly recommend. For one thing, the staff is nice, the place is clean, and they serve an excellent Continental breakfast with the world's best coffee (Puerto Rican espresso, as it turns out). For another, they upgraded us at no extra charge to the Presidential Suite. When they escorted us into the elevator to show us our room, I assumed it was just a nice custom to show people to their actual room, but they had to explain the access swipe so we could get to the sixth floor, since the entire sixth floor was our room, and the elevator opens right into it. As I hollered (pretty accurate term) when we got in the room, "Booking dot YEAH!" (And yes, we used Booking.com to book the room.) This is a view from the sunken living room where you can see some of the dining room (seated 10) and part of the bedroom. There was also an amazing bathroom suite, including a two-person Jacuzzi tub, a separate shower room with three different sets of shower heads (including jets from the wall), and a separate toilet room (with a bidet, not that we understand precisely how one uses a bidet).

Here was our "sunset" view after dinner in San Juan. I love the way the light plays off the water, even if the actual sunset was obscured by clouds. We enjoyed the view anyhow, and took a post-meal walk/hike up the hill to visit El Morro, one of several walled fortresses that defended Old San Juan. It was significantly cooler once the sun went down, and once we were on the open grass approaching the fort, where a wonderful breeze was constantly blowing. We sure missed the breeze once we walked back down into the city.




El Morro at night - we liked the lighthouse inside the far section

Is that the Bacardi bat? I'm glad you asked. Yes, it is. On Saturday, we hopped a 50 cent ferry and a $3 cab (per person) and made our way to the Bacardi plant in San Juan, which, it turns out, we'd been admiring the night before. (It has two large wind turbines that we could see across the bay.) They don't let you tour the actual plant, but the tour is pretty great - first a guide takes you around by tram, then you go inside the visitor's center, which has multi-media presentations on the history of the family and company, and a bar, where mixology of three classic rum drinks is explained. Plus they let all the adults sample Bacardi's 8-year old rum (about a tablespoon each) while in the visitor's center, and everyone gets two free drinks (w/o alcohol, if desired or underage). We thoroughly enjoyed it and would happily go back.

That afternoon, we boarded the ship, which set sail at 8:30, en route to five different islands. We woke up the next morning in St. Croix, which was hotter than blazes, where we were pleased to see a bit of Frederikstad, put our feet in the Caribbean, and purchase some cold bottled water. In St. Maarten, we mostly shopped, though we did enjoy some frozen daiquiris under a beach umbrella before heading back to the ship, where we were greeted by interesting towel animals, as often happens. This one was my favorite, for being somewhat unidentifiable. Is it an anteater in bell-bottoms? A cobra with arms and legs? Who can say? (And yes, those are my sunglasses.)


                        Well, hello there.

In Antigua, we visited the still-working Georgian-era (reference to King George III of England) dockyard, where then-Captain Nelson was once stationed. They claim that were he to return now, he'd still know his way around the place and it would all seem quite familiar, but I have to call bull-pucky on that, since many of the buildings have been transformed into shops and restaurants and are no longer being used for mending sails, providing tar, etc. Nevertheless, once peak yacht season hits (beginning in November and running until April), the place is apparently full of boats. And people. The picture on the left is of columns that used to hold up a building on top. The ship could pull in under the house and put its rigging up for fixing. (See what I mean about it not being quite as Admiral Nelson was used to?) The dockyard includes a museum that explains quite a bit about life on an English naval vessel back in colonial times. To say it was rough and that their meals were gross is a decided understatement. (There was mention made about banging the hard tack prior to eating it in order to "stun" the weevils inside into not moving for a bit, for instance.) And there was a room devoted to Admiral Nelson as well, imbroglios included. As a fan of Jane Austen, I enjoyed visiting the dockyard that was almost certainly visited as well by both of her seafaring brothers - definitely Francis, and probably Charles as well (though Charles was primarily stationed in Bermuda). But I digress.

On St. Lucia, we took a tour of the northern part of the island with a knowledgeable gentleman, whom I cannot actually say with any conviction was a licensed taxi driver, though he drove a quite comfortable Lincoln and knew pretty much everything about everything. We drove up to the northernmost peak on the island, where we had a tremendous panoramic view, and then we visited Pigeon Island as well as Rodney Bay. What a beautiful island - next time, we're heading south to the Pitons and/or Soufriere, for sure.

Our final island stop was Barbados, which was, on the day we visited it, approximately two degrees cooler than hell. Or at least, it seemed pretty much that hot, and had really high humidity. We took a taxi into town in order to walk around and find the Nidḥe Israel Synagogue and its associated museum. We found the synagogue - that pretty Gothic-style pink building below is it - and were disappointed to learn that the museum is "temporarily closed for repair". There didn't seem to be any indication when or if it would reopen, which was a disappointment, since we'd been looking forward to visiting. The synagogue itself was open, however, so we enjoyed looking around inside it before leaving.


The synagogue is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, maintained by the Barbados National Trust.

And if you've stuck around this long to get through the post, I thought you might enjoy this last photo of my sweetheart and I at dinner on the final night of the cruise:







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Comments

( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
slatts
Sep. 16th, 2014 08:30 pm (UTC)
Looks like a damn nice vacation!
kellyrfineman
Sep. 17th, 2014 04:18 pm (UTC)
We really did enjoy ourselves. And I even got relatively tan (for me), while avoiding burning. Cruising really is a good way to get around.
annamlewis
Sep. 16th, 2014 09:51 pm (UTC)
Fabulous post, Kelly!
Great pic! (Yes, I stuck around to the end. LOL)
So sorry you have a cold. Rest Rest Rest
kellyrfineman
Sep. 17th, 2014 04:18 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Anna, and thanks for hanging in there.

Yeah, the rest thing is pretty much a given. I go for only so long, then pretty much drop over. :)
deenaml
Sep. 16th, 2014 11:38 pm (UTC)
I have been to St. Maarten and St. Lucia and yes, BEAUTIFUL! Haven't made it to Puerto Rico or Barbados yet but now you've made me want to go. :) So glad you had fun!
kellyrfineman
Sep. 17th, 2014 04:19 pm (UTC)
Puerto Rico is definitely somewhere we'd like to get back to. Old San Juan was pretty magical, and that's not just the nice hotel room talking!
nottygypsy
Sep. 17th, 2014 02:35 am (UTC)
What a great trip!
kellyrfineman
Sep. 17th, 2014 04:20 pm (UTC)
We really enjoyed ourselves, which is supposed to be the point of vacation, yes?
robinellen
Sep. 17th, 2014 02:49 am (UTC)
Looks like an amazing vacation! :D
kellyrfineman
Sep. 17th, 2014 04:20 pm (UTC)
We really enjoyed ourselves. And it was interesting to see the different islands, and how their topography and personalities differ.
shveta_thakrar
Sep. 17th, 2014 05:08 am (UTC)
Aw, yay! Sounds just wonderful.
kellyrfineman
Sep. 17th, 2014 04:21 pm (UTC)
It was a much-needed get-away. Now I kind of want to go again!
(Deleted comment)
kellyrfineman
Sep. 17th, 2014 04:21 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Melodye!
jeannineatkins
Sep. 17th, 2014 12:22 pm (UTC)
Lovely! Great pictures, though I may like the last one most!
kellyrfineman
Sep. 17th, 2014 04:21 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Jeannine! And shucks!
( 16 comments — Leave a comment )

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